Differences Of Fit And Unfit Counsellours – 1

As the difference of Counsell from Command, hath been now deduced from the nature of Counsell, consisting in a deducing of the benefit, or hurt that may arise to him that is to be Counselled, by the necessary or probable consequences of the action he propoundeth; so may also the differences between apt, and inept counsellours be derived from the same.

For Experience, being but Memory of the consequences of like actions formerly observed, and Counsell but the Speech whereby that experience is made known to another; the Vertues, and Defects of Counsell, are the same with the Vertues, and Defects Intellectuall: And to the Person of a Common-wealth, his Counsellours serve him in the place of Memory, and Mentall Discourse. But with this resemblance of the Common-wealth, to a naturall man, there is one dissimilitude joyned, of great importance; which is, that a naturall man receiveth his experience, from the naturall objects of sense, which work upon him without passion, or interest of their own; whereas they that give Counsell to the Representative person of a Common-wealth, may have, and have often their particular ends, and passions, that render their Counsells alwayes suspected, and many times unfaithfull.

And therefore we may set down for the first condition of a good Counsellour, That His Ends, And Interest, Be Not Inconsistent With The Ends And Interest Of Him He Counselleth.

Secondly, Because the office of a Counsellour, when an action comes into deliberation, is to make manifest the consequences of it, in such manner, as he that is Counselled may be truly and evidently informed; he ought to propound his advise, in such forme of speech, as may make the truth most evidently appear; that is to say, with as firme ratiocination, as significant and proper language, and as briefly, as the evidence will permit.

And therefore Rash, And Unevident Inferences; (such as are fetched onely from Examples, or authority of Books, and are not arguments of what is good, or evill, but witnesses of fact, or of opinion,) Obscure, Confused, And Ambiguous Expressions, Also All Metaphoricall Speeches, Tending To The Stirring Up Of Passion, (because such reasoning, and such expressions, are usefull onely to deceive, or to lead him we Counsell towards other ends than his own) Are Repugnant To The Office Of A Counsellour.

Thirdly, Because the Ability of Counselling proceedeth from Experience, and long study; and no man is presumed to have experience in all those things that to the Administration of a great Common-wealth are necessary to be known, No Man Is Presumed To Be A Good Counsellour, But In Such Businesse, As He Hath Not Onely Been Much Versed In, But Hath Also Much Meditated On, And Considered. For seeing the businesse of a Common-wealth is this, to preserve the people at home, and defend them against forraign Invasion, we shall find, it requires great knowledge of the disposition of Man-kind, of the Rights of Government, and of the nature of Equity, Law, Justice, and Honour, not to be attained without study; And of the Strength, Commodities, Places, both of their own Country, and their Neighbours; as also of the inclinations, and designes of all Nations that may any way annoy them. And this is not attained to, without much experience. Of which things, not onely the whole summe, but every one of the particulars requires the age, and observation of a man in years, and of more than ordinary study.

The wit required for Counsel, as I have said before is Judgement. And the differences of men in that point come from different education, of some to one kind of study, or businesse, and of others to another. When for the doing of any thing, there be Infallible rules, (as in Engines, and Edifices, the rules of Geometry,) all the experience of the world cannot equall his Counsell, that has learnt, or found out the Rule. And when there is no such Rule, he that hath most experience in that particular kind of businesse, has therein the best Judgement, and is the best Counsellour.

(which contineth as “Differences Of Fit And Unfit Counsellours – 2“)

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