Bacon's Essays: Of Suspicion

Of Suspicion is short and pithy. Suspicions are not good for your moral or political health.

Clouds of the mind

“Suspicions amongst thoughts, are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight.”Bats_emerging_from_Davis_Cave

“Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese* friends; and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly.”

(*leese: to lose or to part with or be parted from by misadventure. Leesed from standard English by the end of the seventeenth century.)

“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 natures…”

Don’t speculate — investigate!

“For commonly they [suspicions] 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.”

“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.”

holmesKeep you eyes open — don’t be naive, like Bacon was with his servants. But keep a leash on those speculations.

“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.”

Like Iago pouring doubt into Othello’s ears.

“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.”

When in doubt, talk it out!

 

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