Francis Bacon Questions and Answers

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Explain these lines from Bacon's essay 'Of Great Place', "Seek to make thy course regular, that men may know beforehand, what they may expect; but be not too positive and peremptory; and express thyself well, when thou digressest from thy rule."

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These lines are about having character but not overselling oneself. "Seek to make thy course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect" means that first, you should have values and ethics that people can depend upon. That way, they can reasonably know, based on your character, what you are most likely to say and act in any given situation.

Next, he cautions to not be "too positive and peremptory." To be peremptory means to have such a high opinion of your own opinions and conclusions that you disregard the ideas and suggestions of other intelligent people. Being too positive sets people up for disappointment, because it is not realistic. Caution is the watchword here: be realistic and listen to others' ideas before making decisions.

Finally, he says, "Express thyself well, when though digresseth from thy rule." The "rule" he refers to here is the standards by which we make our choices. We may occasionally have reason to violate our own standards, and when we do, its important to explain well the reasoning behind those choices, so others continue to believe in our character, intelligence, and worthiness to lead.  

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