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It cannot be denied, but outward accidents conduce much to fortune, favour, opportunity,death of others, occasion fitting virtue. But chiefly, tile mould of a man's fortune is in his ownhands.(Faber quisque fortunae suae; saith the poet )
And the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune ofanother. For no man prospers so suddenly, as by others' errors. Serpens nisi serpentermcomederit non fit draco. Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise; but there be secret andhidden virtues, that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have noname. The Spanish name, desemboltura, partly expresseth them: when there be not stonds,nor resdveness in a man's nature; but that the wheels of his mind keep way with the wheels ofhis fortune. For so Livy (after he had described Cato Major, in these words; in ilh viro, tanturnrobur corporis et animi fiit, ut quocwique loco natus esset ,fortunarus sibi facturs videretur)falleth upon that, that he had versatile ingenium Therefore, if a man look sharply, andattentively, he shall see fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
The way of fortune is like the Milken Way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a number ofsmall stars; not seen asunder, but giving light together. So are there a number of little, andscarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.
The Italians note some of them, such as a man would little think. When they speak of one thatcannot do amiss, they will throw in, into his other conditions, that he hath poco di motto. Andcertainly, there be not two more fortunate properties; than to have a little of the fool; and nottoo much of the honest. Therefore, extreme lovers of their country, or masters, were neverfortunate, neither can they be. For when a man placeth his thoughts without himself, he goethnot his own way. An hasty fortune maketh an enterpriser, and remover (the French hath itbetter, entrepreneur, or remuamt), but the exercised fortune maketh the able man. Fortuneis to be honoured, and respected, and it be but for her daughters, Confidence, andReputation. For those two felicity hreedeth: the first within a man's self; the latter, in otherstowards him.
All wise men, to decline me envy of their own virtues, use to ascribe them to providence andfortune; for so they may the better assume them: and besides, it is greatness in a man, to bethe care of me higher powers. So Caesar said to me pilot in the tempest, Caesarem portas,etfortunam ene. So Sulla chose the name of Felix, and not of Magnus. And it hath been noted,that those that ascribe openly too much to their own wisdom, and policy, end unfortunate. Itis written, that
Timotheus the Athenian, after he had, in the account he gave to the state of his government,often interlaced this speech, 'and in mis fortune had no part', never prospered in anything heundertook afterwards. Certainly, mere be, whose fortunes are like Homer's verses, that have aslide, and easiness, more than the verses of other poets: as Plutarch sailh of Timoleon'sfortune, in respect of that of Agesilaus, or Epaminondas. And that this should be, no doubt itis much in a man's self.