Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Francis Bacon > Essays, Civil and Moral
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Francis Bacon. (1561–1626).  Essays, Civil and Moral.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
XXXI
 
Of Suspicion
 
 
SUSPICIONS amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese 1 friends; and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy. They are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutest 2 natures; as in the example of Henry the Seventh of England. There was not a more suspicious man, nor a more stout. And in such a composition they do small hurt. For commonly they are not admitted, but with examination, whether they be likely or no. But in fearful natures they gain ground too fast. There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little; and therefore men should remedy suspicion by procuring to know more, and not to keep their suspicions in smother. 3 What would men have? Do they think those they employ and deal with are saints? Do they not think they will have their own ends, and be truer to themselves than to them? Therefore there is no better way to moderate suspicions, than to account upon such suspicions as true and yet to bridle them as false. For so far a man ought to make use of suspicions, as to provide, as if that should be true that he suspects, yet it may do him no hurt. 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. Certainly, the best mean to clear the way in this same wood of suspicions is frankly to communicate them with the party that he suspects; for thereby he shall be sure to know more of the truth of them than he did before; and withal shall make that party more circumspect not to give further cause of suspicion. But this would not be done to men of base natures; for they, if they find themselves once suspected, will never be true. The Italian says, Sospetto licentia fede; 4 as if suspicion did give a passport to faith; but it ought rather to kindle it to discharge itself.  1
 
Note 1. Lose. [back]
Note 2. Bravest. [back]
Note 3. Suppressed. [back]
Note 4. I. e., suspicion justifies breaking faith. [back]
 

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