Non parva igitur est prudentiae praerogativa, si quis arte quadam, et decore, specimen sui apud alios exhibere possit: virtutes suas, merita, atque fortunam etiam (quod sine arrogantia aut fastidio fieri possit) commode ostentando; contra, vitia, defectus, infortunia et dedecora, artificiose occultando: illis immorans, easque veluti ad lumen obvertens; his subterfugia quaerens, aut apte ea interpretando eluens; et similia. itaque, de Mutiano, viro sui temporis prudentissimo, et ad res gerendas impigerrimo, Tacitus; ‘omnium quae dixerat feceratque arte quadam ostentator’ [cf. Tacitus, Hist. 2.80]. indiget certe res haec arte nonnulla, ne taedium et contemptum pariat: ita tamen, ut ostentatio quaepiam, licet usque ad vanitatis primum gradum, vitium sit potius in ethicis, quam in politicis. sicut enim dici solet de calumnia ‘audacter calumniare; semper aliquid haeret’, sic dici possit de iactantia, etsi plane deformis fuerit et ridicula: ‘audacter te vendita; semper aliquid haeret.’ Haerebit certe apud populum, licet prudentiores subrideant. Itaque existimatio parta apud plurimos paucorum fastidium abunde compensabit.
(Francis Bacon, De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum 8.2)

It is therefore no unimportant attribute of prudence in a man to be able to set forth to advantage before others, with grace and skill, his virtues, fortunes, and merits (which may be done without arrogance or breeding disgust); and again, to cover artificially his weaknesses, defects, misfortunes, and disgraces; dwelling upon the former and turning them to the light, sliding from the latter or explaining them away by apt interpretations and the like. Tacitus says of Mucianus, the wisest and most active politician of his time, ‘That he had a certain art of setting forth to advantage everything he said or did.’ And it requires indeed some art, lest it become wearisome and contemptible; but yet it is true that ostentation, though carried to the first degree of vanity, is rather a vice in morals than in policy. For as it is said of calumny, ‘Calumniate boldly, for some of it will stick,’ so it may be said of ostentation (except it be in a ridiculous degree of deformity), ‘Boldly sound your own praises, and some of them will stick.’ It will stick with the more ignorant and the populace, though men of wisdom may smile at it; and the reputation won with many will amply countervail the disdain of a few. (tr. Francis Bacon)

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