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Of Honour and Reputation


The winning of honor, is but the revealing of a man's virtue andworth, without disadvantage. For some in their actions, do woo andeffect honor and reputation, which sort of men, are commonly muchtalked of, but inwardly little admired. And some, contrariwise, darkentheir virtue in the show of it; so as they be undervalued inopinion. If a man perform that, which hath not been attemptedbefore; or attempted and given over; or hath been achieved, but notwith so good circumstance; he shall purchase more honor, than byeffecting a matter of greater difficulty or virtue, wherein he isbut a follower. If a man so temper his actions, as in some one of themhe doth content every faction, or combination of people, the musicwill be the fuller. A man is an ill husband of his honor, thatentereth into any action, the failing wherein may disgrace him, morethan the carrying of it through, can honor him. Honor that is gainedand broken upon another, hath the quickest reflection, like diamondscut with facets. And therefore, let a man contend to excel anycompetitors of his in honor, in outshooting them, if he can, intheir own bow. Discreet followers and servants, help much toreputation. Omnis fama a domesticis emanat. Envy, which is thecanker of honor, is best extinguished by declaring a man's self in hisends, rather to seek merit than fame; and by attributing a man'ssuccesses, rather to divine Providence and felicity, than to his ownvirtue or policy.

The true marshalling of the degrees of sovereign honor, are these:In the first place are conditores imperiorum, founders of states andcommonwealths; such as were Romulus, Cyrus, Caesar, Ottoman, Ismael.In the second place are legislatores, lawgivers; which are also calledsecond founders, or perpetui principes, because they govern by theirordinances after they are gone; such were Lycurgus, Solon,Justinian, Eadgar, Alphonsus of Castile, the Wise, that made the SietePartidas. In the third place are liberatores, or salvatores, such ascompound the long miseries of civil wars, or deliver their countriesfrom servitude of strangers or tyrants; as Augustus Caesar,Vespasianus, Aurelianus, Theodoricus, King Henry the Seventh ofEngland, King Henry the Fourth of France. In the fourth place arepropagatores or propugnatores imperii; such as in honorable warsenlarge their territories, or make noble defence against invaders. Andin the last place are patres patriae; which reign justly, and make thetimes good wherein they live. Both which last kinds need noexamples, they are in such number. Degrees of honor, in subjects, are,first participes curarum, those upon whom, princes do discharge thegreatest weight of their affairs; their right hands, as we callthem. The next are duces belli, great leaders in war; such as areprinces' lieutenants, and do them notable services in the wars. Thethird are gratiosi, favorites; such as exceed not this scantling, tobe solace to the sovereign, and harmless to the people. And thefourth, negotiis pares; such as have great places under princes, andexecute their places, with sufficiency. There is an honor, likewise,which may be ranked amongst the greatest, which happeneth rarely; thatis, of such as sacrifice themselves to death or danger for the good oftheir country; as was M. Regulus, and the two Decii.

 


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