Copyright
Edward George Harman.

Edmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon online

. (page 48 of 55)
Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 48 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Iren. What they now be both you and I see very well, but
by how many thornye and hard wayes they are come thereunto,
by how many civill broyles, by how many tumultuous rebellions,
that even hazarded oftentimes the whole safetie of the kingdome,
may easely be considered : all which they nevertheless fayrely
overcame, by reason of the continuall presence of the King ;
whose onely parson is oftentimes in steede of an army, to
contayne the unruly people from a thousand evill occasions,
which this wretched kingdome is, for want therof, dayly carryed
into. The which, whensoe they make head, noe lawes, noe
penaltyes, can restrayne them, but that they doe, in the violence
of theyr furyes, treade downe and trample under foote all both
divine and humane thinges, and the lawes themselves they doe
specially rage upon, and rend in peeces, as most repugnant to
theyr libertye and naturall freedome, which in theyr madness
they affect.

Eudox. It is then a very unseasonable time to pleade lawe,
when a swoord is drawen in the hand of the vulgar, or to thinke
to retayne them with the feare of punishmentes, when they looke
after libertye, and shake of all government.

Iren. Then soe it is with Ireland continually, Eudoxus ; for
the swoord was never yet out of theyr hand ; but when they are
weary of warres, and brought downe to extreeme wretchedness,
then they creepe a litle perhaps, and sue for grace, till they have
gotten new breath and recovered their strength agayne. Soe as
it is in vayne to speake of planting of lawes, and plotting of
poUicyes, till they are altogither subdued.

Passing into ancient history, the author refers to
ravages by the neighbouring Scots retreating from the
forces of Edward the Second, and indulges in a glowing
account of the commodities of the north of Ireland
(p. 6i6) :

Thus was all that goodly countrey utterly wasted, and left
desolat as yet it remayneth to this day, which before hath beene
the cheif ornament and beautye of Ireland, for that of the north
sometimes was as populous and plentifull as any part of England,
and yeelded unto the K. of England as it appeareth by good
recordes, thirty thousand markes of old mony by the yeare,
besides many thousandes of able men to serve them in theyr
warres. And sure it is yet a most beautiful! and sweet countrey
as any is under heaven, seamed thoroughout with many goodly



XIX " VIEW OF THE STATE OF IRELAND" 539

rivers, replenished with all sortes of fish, most aboundantly
sprinckled with many sweet Ilandes and goodly lakes, like liile
Inland Seas, that will carry even ships upon theyr waters, adorned
with goodly woodes fitt for building of howses and shippes, soe
comodiously, as that yf some princes in the world had them, they
would soone hope to be lordes of all the seas, and ere long of
all the world ; also full of good portes and havens opening upon
England and Scotland, as inviting us to come to them, to see
what excellent comodityes that countrey can afToord, besides the
soyle it self most fertile, fitt to yeeld all kind of fruite that shal
be comitted therunto. And lastly, the heavens most milde and
temperat, though somewhat more moyst then the part toward the
West.

P. 618. The origin and raison d'etre of the common
law — not, however, in all respects (as, for instance, in trial
by jury) suited to Ireland :

Iren. The Common Law is (as before I sayd) of itself most
rightfuU and very convenient (I suppose) for the kingdome for
the which it was first devised ; for this (I thinke) as it seemes
reasonable, that out of the manners of the people, and abuses of
the countrey, for which they were invented, they take theyr first
beginning, or els they should be most unjust ; for noe lawes of
man (according to the straight rule of right) are just, but as in
regard of the evills which they prevent, and the safety of the
common-weale which they provide for. As for example, in the
true ballauncing of justice, it is a flatt wrong to punish the
thought or purpose of any before it be enacted ; for true Justice
punnisheth nothing but the evill act or wicked woord ; yet by
the lawes of all kingdomes it is a capitall crime to devise or
purpose the death of the King : the reason is, for that when such
a purpose is effected, it should then be to late to devise therof,
and should turne that common-weale to more hurt by such loss
of theyr Prince, then such punnishment of the malefactours. And
therfore the lawe in that case punnisheth the thought ; for better
is a mischeif, then an inconvenience. Soe that jus politicum,
though it be not of itself just, yet by application, or rather
necessitye, it is made just ; and this only respect maketh all
lawes just. Now then, yf these lawes of Ireland be not likewise
applyed and fitted for that realme, they are sure very inconvenient.

Eudox. You reason strongly : but what unfittness doe you
finde in them for that realme ? shewe us some particulars.

Iren. The Common Lawe appoynteth that all try alls, as well
of crimes as titles and rights, shal be made by verditt of a Jur)-e,



540 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

choosen out of the honestest and most substantial! free-holders.
Now, most all the freeholders of that realme are Irish which
when the cause shall fall betwixt an Englishman and an Irish, or
betweene the Queene and any fre-holder of that country they
make noe more scruple to pass agaynst an Englishman and the
Queene, though it be to strayne theyr othes, then to drinke milke
unstrayned. Soe that, before the Jurye goe togither, it is well
knowen what the verdict will be. The tryall herof have I soe
often seene, that I dare confidently avouch the abuse thereof.
Yet is the lawe of itself, I say, good ; and the first institution
thereof, being given to all naturall Englishmen, very rightfull, but
now that the Irish have stept into the roomes of the English . , .
yt is good reason that either that course of the lawe for tryall be
altered or other provision for jureyes made.

P. 619. Against heavy penalties :

Iren. I thinke sure that will doe small good ; for when a
people are inclined to any vice, or have noe touch of conscience,
nor sence of theyr evill doings, it is booteless to thinke to
restrayne them by any penaltyes or feare of punnishment ; but
either the occasion is to be taken away, or a more understanding
of the right, and shame of the fault to be imprinted. For yf
that Licurgus should have made it death for the Lacedemonians
to steale, they being a people which naturally delighted in
stealth ; or yf it should be made a capitall crime for the
Flemmings to be taken in drounkenness, there should have bene
few Lacedemonians then left, and fewer Flemmings. Soe im-
possible it is to remove any fault, soe generall in a people, with
terrour of lawes or most sharpe restrayntes.

By rehearsall of this, I remember also of an other like, which
I have often observed in tryalls to have wrought great hurt and
hindraunce, and that is, the exceptions which the Common Law
alloweth a fellon in his tryall ; for he may have (as you knowe)
thirty-six exceptions peremptorye agaynst the jurours, of which he
shall shewe noe cause. By which shift there being (as I have
shewed you) small store of honest jurye men, he will either putt
of his tryall, or leave it to such men as (perhaps) are not of the
soundest sort, by whose meanes, yf he can acquitt himself of the
crime, as he is likely, then will he plague such as were brought
first to be of his jurye, and all such as made any party against
him. And when he comes foorth, he will make theyr cowes and
garrans to walke, yf he doe noe other mischeif to theyr persons.

This allusion to " cattle-driving " is interesting. The
writing in these passages, I submit, points to the training



XIX " VIEIV OF THE STATE OF IRELAND " 541

of the lawyer. The words " the tryall hereof have I soe
often seene " are not necessarily evidence of the author
having been in Ireland, as he is writing in character, and
the words are put into the mouth of Irenaeus, who is
supposed to have lately come from that country. There
is nothing here (or in the rest of the treatise) which a
writer with the opportunities and equipment of Bacon
could not have got from dispatches and conversations with
the Sidneys, with Ralegh, Pelham, or other English captains
who had served in Ireland. Evidence of the legal train-
ing of the writer will be found in other places, e.g. " the
superior power of her Majesties prerogative, agaynst
which her owne grauntes are not to be pleaded or
enforced " (p. 622) ; and again, " it is daungerous to leave
the sence of the lawe unto the reason or will of the
judges, whoe are men and may be miscarryed by affections,
and many other meanes. But the lawes ought to be like
unto stonye tables, playne, steadfast, and immoveable "
(p. 623) — a typically Baconian analogy.

On pp. 630-632 occurs the tour de force in writing as
to the uses of the Irish mantle. It is characteristic of
the author that he should pause at the end to draw
attention to his own ingenuity (" O evill mynded man," etc.).
There are some words in this description, " Venus mantell
lined with starres," for which a parallel occurs in the
description of Venus and Adonis on the tapestry in
"Castle Joyeous" {F.Q. III. i. 36):

And whilst he slept she over him would spred
Her mantle, colour'd like the starry skyes.

If the View were an acknowledged work of Bacon, the
parallel would, I suppose, be seized on by "Baconians"
as among the evidence that he also wrote the poems of
Spenser, and the " Spenserians " would, no doubt, reply
that such expressions were the common speech of a
poetical age, or derived from a common origin. We
should perhaps also be told that it was grotesque to
suggest that a lawyer, and a man so lacking in sympathy
and imagination as the author of the View evidently was,



542 srENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

could have written poetry (even if he could have found
the time), and particularly such poetry as the passage
referred to. Another similar parallel occurs at p. 649 :

For all Innovation is perilous, insoemuch as though it be mente
for the better, yet soe many accidents and fearfull events may
come betwene, as that it may hazarde the losse of the whole.

Compare F.Q. V. ii. 36, " All change is perillous."
Compare also Bacon, " Of Innovations " :

It is good also not to try experiments in States, except the
necessity be urgent, or the utility evident.

P. 639. The following description of the Irish horse-
soldier and his accoutrements is interesting. There is
nothing here which a writer in London could not learn
from reading and conversation.

Ireti. Noe ; all these that I have rehearsed unto you, be not
Irish garments, but English ; for the quilted leather Jacke is old
English ; for it was the proper weede of the horseman, as ye
may reade in Chaucer, where he describeth Sir Thopas his
apparrell and armoure, when he went to fight agaynst the Gyant,
in his robe of shecklaton, which shecklaton is that kind of guilded
leather with which they use to embroder theyr Irish jackes. And
there likewise by all that description ye may see the very fashion
and manner of the Irish horseman most lively set foorth, his
long hose, his shooes of costly cordewayne, his hacqueton, and
his habberjon, with all the rest therto belonging.

Eiidox. I surely thought that that manner had bene kindly
Irish, for it is farr differing from that we have nowe : as also all
the furniture of his horse, his stronge brasse bitt, his slyding
raynes, his shaunckpillion without stirrops, his manner of
mounting, his fashion of riding, his charging of his speare aloft
above head, and the forme of his speare.

Iren. Noe sure ; they be native English, and brought in by
the Englishmen first into Ireland : neither is the same counted
an uncomelye manner of riding ; for I have heard some greate
warriours say, that, in all the services which they had scene
abroade in forrayne countreys, they never sawe a more comely
horseman then the Irish man, nor that cometh on more bravely
in his charge : neither is his manner of mounting unseemely,
though he wante stirrops, but more ready then with stirrops :
for in his getting up his horse is still going, wherby he gayneth
way. And therfore the stirrops were called soe in scorne, as it



1



XIX " VIEW OF THE STATE OF IRELAND" 543

were a stayre to gett up, being derived of the old English woord
sty, which is, to gett up, or mounte.

Eudox. It seemeth then that ye finde noe fault with this
manner of riding ; why then would you have the quilted Jacke
layed away ?

Iren. I would not have that layed away, but the abuse therof
to be putt away ; for being used to the end that it was framed,
that is, to be worne in warre under a shirte of mayle, it is allow-
able, as also the shirte of mayle, and all his other furniture : but
to be worne daylye at home, and in townes and civill places, it
is a rude habite and most uncomely, seeming like a players
paynted coate.

The description of the " galloglass and kearne " which
follow^s should be compared with the Bacon extracts
given above. In the tribute to the Irish soldier abroad
(in contrast with his condition and conduct at home) is,
no doubt, to be found the opinion of such men as Sir
John Norris and Ralegh.

Eudox. What be those ?

Iren. Marye, those be the most lothsome and barbarous
conditions of any people (I thinke) under heaven ; for, from
the time they enter into that course, they doe use all the
beastly behaviour that may be to oppress all men ; they, spoyle
as well the subject as the enemy ; they steale, they are cruell
and bloudye, full of revenge and delighting in deadly execution,
licentious, swearers, and blasphemers, common ravishers of
women, and murtherers of children.

Eudox. These be most villenous conditions ; I marvayle
then that ever they be used or employed, or allmost suffred to
live : what good can there then be in them ?

Iren. Yet sure they are very valiaunte and hardye, for the
most part great endurours of cold, labour, hunger, and all
hardiness, very active and stronge of hand, very swift of foote,
very vigilaunte and circumspect in theyr enterprises, very present
in perrills, very great scorners of death.

Eudox. Truly, by this that ye sale, it seemes the Irishman is
a very brave souldiour.

Iren. Yea surely, even in that rude kind of service he beareth
himself very couragiously. But when he cometh to experience
of service abroade, and is putt to a peece, or a pike, he maketh
as woorthy a souldiour as any nation he meeteth with.

P. 640. The Irish Bards. I give this passage in full,



544 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

for the light which it throws on the author's mind and
method, as much as for the interest of the subject. Here
again he is evidently carried away by his own facility
and gift of imagination, though, no doubt, there was a
large element of truth in his statements.

Iren. There is amongest the Irish a certayne kind of people
called Bards, which are to them insteede of poetts, whose
profession is to sett foorth the prayses and disprayses of men
in theyr poems and rimes ; the which are had in see high
request and estimation amongest them, that none dare to
displease them for feare of running into reproche through theyr
offence, and to be made infamous in the mouthes of all men.
For theyr verses are taken up with a generall applause, and
usually songe at all feasts and meetinges, by certayne other
persons, whose proper function that is, which also receave for
the same greate rewardes and reputation besides.

Eudox. Doe you blame this in them, which I would otherwise
have thought to have bene woorthy of good accounte, and rather
to have bene mayntayned and augmented amongest them, then
to have bene misliked ? For I have reade that in all ages
Poettes have bene had in speciall reputation, and that (me
seemes) not without greate cause ; for besides theyr sweete
inventions, and most wittye layes, they have allwayes used to
sett foorth the prayses of the good and vertuous, and to beate
downe and disgrace the badd and vicious. Soe that many
brave yong myndes have oftentimes, through hearing of the
prayses and famous Eulogies of woorthy men song and reported
unto them, bene stirred up to affect like comendacions, and soe
to strive to like desertes. Soe they say the Lacedemonians were
more enclined to desire of honour with the excellent verses
of the Poet TirtiEus, then with all the exhortations of their
Captaines, or authoritye of theyr Rulers and Magistrates.

Iren. It is most true that such Poetts, as in theyr writings
doe laboure to better the manners of men, and through the
sweete bayte of theyr numbers, to steale into yonge spiritts a
desire of honour and vertue, are worthy to be had in great
respect. But these Irish Bards are for the most i)art of another
mynd, and soe farr from instructing yong men in morall
disci[)linc, that they themselves doe more desarve to be sharpely
disciplined ; for they seldome use to choose unto themselves the
doinges of good men for the ornamentes of theyr poems, but
whomsoever they find to be most licentious of life, most bold
and lawless in his doinges, most daungerous and desperate in
all partes of disobedience and rebellious disposition, him they



XIX " VIEW OF THE STATE OF IRELAND" 545

sett up and glorifye in theyr rimes, him they prayse to the
people, and to yong men make an example to followe.

Eudox. I marvayle whate kind of speeches they can find, or
what face they can putt on, to prayse such lewde persons as live
soe lawleslye and licentiouslye upon stealthes and spoyles, as
most of them doe ; or how can they thinke that any good
mynde will applaude or approve the same ?

Iren. There is none soe badd, Eudoxus, but shall finde some
to favoure his doinges ; but such lycentious partes as these,
tending for the most parte to the hurte of the English, or
mayntenaunce of theyre owne lewde libertye, they themselves,
being most desirous therof, doe most allowe. Besides this,
evill thinges being decked and suborned with the gay attyre of
goodly woordes, may easely deceave and carrye away the affection
of a yong mynd, that is not well stayed, but desirous by some
bold adventure to make proofe of himself; for being (as they all
be) brought up idelly without awe of parentes, without precepts
of masters, without feare of offence, not being directed, or
employed in any course of life, which may carrye them to
vertue, will easely be drawen to followe such as any shall sett
before them : for a yong mynd cannot rest ; and yf he be not
still busyed in some goodness, he will find himself such busines
as shall soone busye all about him. In which yf he shall finde
any to prayse him, and to give him encouragement, as those
Bards and rimers doe for a litle reward, or a share of a stollen
cowe, then waxeth he most insolent and half madd with the love
of himself, and his owne lewde deedes. And as for woordes to
sett foorth such lewdness, it is not hard for them to give a
goodly glose and paynted shewe thereunto, borrowed even from
the prayses which are proper to vertue itself As of a most
notorious theif and wicked outlawe, which had lived all his
lifetime of spoyles and robberyes, one of these Bardes in his
prayse sayd. That he was none of those idell milk-sops that was
brought up by the fire side, but that most of his dayes he spent
in armes and valyaunt enterprises ; that he did never eate his
meate before he had wonne it with his swoorde ; that he was
not slugging all night in a cabin under his mantell, but used
comonly to keepe others waking to defend theyr lives, and did
light his candell at the flames of theyr howses to leade him in
the darkeness ; that the day was his night, and the night his
day ; that he loved not to lye long wooing of wenches to yeeld
unto him, but where he came he tooke by force the spoyle of
other mens love, and left but lamentations to theyr lovers ; that
his musicke was not the harpe, nor layes of love, but the cryes
of people, and clashing of armour ; and that finally, he died not

2 N



546 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

bewayled of many, but made many wayle when he died that
dearely bought his death. Doe not you thinke (Eudoxus) that
many of these prayses might be applyed to men of best desarte ?
yet are they all yeelded to a most notable traytoure, and amongest
some of the Irish not smally accounted of. For the songe, when
it was first made and songe unto a person of high degree, they
were bought (as their manner is) for forty crownes.

Eudox. And well worthye sure ! But tell me (I pray you)
have they any arte in theyr compositions ? or be they any thing
wittye or well savoured, as Poems should be ?

Iren. Yea truly ; I have caused diverse of them to be
translated unto me that I might understand them ; and surely
they savoured of sweete witt and good invention, but skilled
not of the goodly ornamentes of Poetrye : yet were they
sprinckled with some prety flowers of theyr owne naturall devise,
which gave good grace and comliness unto them, the which it
is greate pittye to see soe abused, to the gracing of wickedness
and vice, which would with good usage serve to beautifye and
adorne vertue. This evill custome therfore needeth reformation.

P. 645. The state of religion is then described in
terms which are in substantial harmony with Bacon's
memorandum of 1602 :

Iren. Litle have I to say of religion, both because the partes
therof be not many, (it self being but one) and my self have
not beene much conversaunte in that calling, but as lightly
passing by I have seene or heard : Therfore the faulte which
I finde in Religion is but one, but the same is universall throughe
out all the countrey ; that is, that they are all Papistes by theyre
profession, but in the same soe blindely and brutishly enformed,
(for the most parte) as that you would rather thinke them
Atheistes or Infidells for not one amongest an hundred knoweth
any grounde of religion, or any article of his faythe, but can
perhaps say his Pater noster, or his Ave Maria, without any
knowledge or understanding what one woorde therof meaneth.

Again at pp. 646, 647 :

Iren. Yes verely ; for what ever disorder you see in the
Churche of England ye may finde there, and many more :
Namely, grosse Simonye, greedy covetousness, fleshly incontin-
ence, careless slouthe, and generally all disordered life in the
common cleargyeman. And besides all these, they have
theyr owne particular enormityes ; for all the Irish priestes,
which nowe enjoye the churche livinges there, are in a manner



XIX " VIEW OF THE STATE OF IRELAND " 547

meere layemen, go lyke laymen, live like laye men, and followe
all kinde of husbandrye, and other worldly affayres, as thother
Irish men doe. They neither reade scriptures, nor preache to
the people, nor minister the sacrament of communion ; but the
baptisme they doe, for they christen yet after the popish fashion,
and with popish ministration, onely they take the tithes and
offringes, and gather what fruites els they may of theyr
livinges, the which they convert as badly, and some of them
(they say) paye as due tributes and shares of theyr livinges to
theyr Bishops (I speake of those which are Irish) as they receave
them duelye.

Eudox. But is it suffered amongest them ? It is wonderful!
but that the governours doe redresse such shameful! abuses.

Iren. Howe can they, since they knowe them not? For
the Irish bishops have theyr cleargye in such awe and subjection
under them, that they dare not complayne of them, soe as they
may doe unto them what they please, for they, knowing theyr
owne unwoorthyness and incapacitye, and that they are therfore
still removable at theyr bishops will, yeeld what pleaseth him,
and he taketh what he list : yea, and some of them whose diocese
are in remote partes, somewhat out of the worldes eye, doe
not at all bestowe the benefices, which are in theyr owne
donation, upon anye, but keepe them in theyr owne handes,
and sett theyr owne servauntes and horse-boyes to take up the
tithes and fruites of them, with the which some of them purchase
greate landes, and builde fayre castells upon the same. Of which
abuse yf any question be moved they have a very seemely colour
of excuse, that they have noe woorthy ministers to bestowe them
upon, but keepe them soe unbestowed for any such sufficient
person as any shall bring unto them.

P. 647. The difficulties of bringing in English ministers
are then mentioned, first that there are not enough good
ones vi'ho are prepared to go ; secondly, the bishop, being



Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 48 of 55)