For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with columbine innocence, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent: his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil: for without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced.
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- Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.
- There is a difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.
- Suspicions that the mind, of itself, gathers, are but buzzes; but suspicions that are artificially nourished and put into men’s heads by the tales and whisperings of others, have stings.
- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?.
- Nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body, and it addeth no small reverence to men’s manners and actions if they be not altogether open. Therefore set it down: That a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral.
- The great advantages of simulation and dissimulation are three. First to lay asleep opposition and to surprise. For where a man’s intentions are published, it is an alarum to call up all that are against them. The second is to reserve a man’s self a fair retreat: for if a man engage himself, by a manifest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall. The third is, the better to discover the mind of another. For to him that opens himself, men will hardly show themselves adverse; but will fair let him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freedom of thought.