Francis Bacon and the virtues which tend to fortune

Here’s a favorite section of mind from Bacon’s essays:

It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to fortune; favor, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly, the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunæ suæ [Every one is the architect of his own fortune], saith the poet. And the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another. For no man prospers so suddenly as by others’ errors. Serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco [A serpent must have eaten another serpent before he can become a dragon]. Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man’s self, which have no name.

Francis Bacon, “Essays or Counsels: Civil and Moral,” in The Harvard Classics 3: Essays by Bacon, Milton, and Browne, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1909), 104–105.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *