Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) online

. (page 33 of 45)
Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 33 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

gars ; but rather will choose to live obscurely, and as
it were to hide themselves with some private friends :
so that the end of such an institution will be, that it
will make the place a receptacle of the worst, idlest,
and most dissolute persons of every profession, and to
become a cell of loiterers, and cast serving-men, and
drunkards, with scandal rather than fruit to the com-
monwealth. And of this kind I can find but one ex-
ample with us, which is the alms knights of Windsor;
which particular would give a man small encourage-
ment to follow that precedent.

Therefore the best effect of hospitals is, to make the
kingdom, if it were possible, capable of that law, that
there be no beggar in Israel : for it is that kind of peo-
ple that is a burden, an eye sore, a scandal, and a seed
of peril and tumult in a state. But chiefly it were to
be wished, such a beneficence towards the relief of
the poor were so bestowed, as not only the mere and
naked poor should be sustained, but also, that the
honest person which hath hard means to live, upon
whom the poor are now charged, should be in some
sort eased : for that were a work generally acceptable
to the kingdom, if the public hand of alms might spare
the private hand of tax : and therefore, of all other
employments of that kind, I commend most houses of
relief and correction, which are mixt hospitals ; where
the impotent person is Relieved, and the sturdy beggar
buckled to work ; and the unable person also not main*
tained to be idle, which is ever joined with drunken-
ness and impurity, but is sorted with such work as he

392 Advice about the Charterhouse.

can manage and perform ; and where the uses are not
distinguished, as in other hospitals ; whereof some are
for aged and impotent, and some for children, and
some for correction of vagabonds ; but are general and
promiscuous : that may take off poor of every sort
from the country as the country breeds them; and thus
the poor themselves shall find the provision, and other
people the sweetness of the abatement of the tax. Now
if it be objected, that houses of correction in all places
have not done the good expected, as it cannot be de-
nied, but in most places they have done much good,
it must be remembered that there is a great difference
between that which is done by the distracted govern-
ment of justices of peace, and that which may be
done by a settled ordinance, subject to a regular visi-
tation, as this may be. And besides, the want hath
been commonly in houses of correction of a competent
and certain stock, for the materials of the labour,
which in this case may be likewise supplied.

Concerning the advancement of learning, I do sub-
scribe to the opinion of one of the wisest and greatest
men of your kingdom : That for grammar schools there
are already too many, and therefore no providence to
add where there is excess : for the great number of
schools which are in your highness's realm, doth cause
a want, and doth cause likewise an overflow ; both of
them inconvenient, and one of them dangerous. For
by means thereof they find want in the country and
towns, both of servants for husbandry, and apprentices
for trade : and on the other side, there being more
scholars bred, than the state can prefer and employ \
and the active part of that life not bearing a proportion
to the preparative, it must needs fall out, that many
persons will be bred unfit for other vocations, and un-
profitable for that in which they are brought up ; which
fills the realm full of indigent, idle, and wanton peo-:
pie, which are but materia rerum novanun.

Therefore, in this point, I wish Mr. Button's inten-r
tion were exalted a degree; that that which he meant
for teachers of children, your majesty should make for
teachers of men ; wherein it hath been my

Advice about the Charterhouse. 393

opinion and observation, that in the universities of this
realm, which I take to be of the best endowed universi-
ties of Europe, there is nothing more wanting towards
the flourishing state of learning, than the honourable
and plentiful salaries of readers in arts and professions.
In which point, as your majesty's bounty already hath
made a beginning, so this occasion is offered of God
to make a proceeding. Surely, readers in the chair
are as the parents in sciences, and deserve to enjoy a
condition not inferior to their children that embrace
the practical part ; else no man will sit longer in the
chair, than till he can walk to a better preferment :
and it will come to pass as Virgil saith,

Ef palnim imalidi referant jejunia nail.

For if the principal readers, through the meanness of
their entertainment, be but men of superficial learn-
ing, and that they shall take their place but in pas-
sage, it will make the mass of sciences want the chief
and solid dimension, which is depth ; and to become
but pretty and compendious habits of practice. There-
fora I could wish that in both the universities, the lec-
tures as well of the three professions, divinity, law,
and physic ; as of the three heads of science, philo-
sophy, arts of speech, and the mathematics ; were
raised in their pensions unto 100/. per annum apiece :
which though it be not near so great as they are in
s(5me other places, where the greatness of the reward
doth whistle for the ablest men out of all foreign parts
to supply the chair; yet it may be a portion to content
a worthy and able man ; if he be likewise contem-
plative in nature, as those spirits are that are fittest for
lectures. Thus may learning in your kingdom be ad-
vanced to a farther height ; learning, I say, which
under your majesty, the most learned of kings, may
claim some degree of elevation.

Concerning propagation of religion, I shall in few
words set befofe your majesty three propositions ; none
of them devices of mine own, otherwise then I ever ap-
proved them ; two of which have been in agitation of
speech and the third acted.

394 Advice about, the Charterhouse.

The first a college for controversies, whereby' we
shall not still proceed single, but shall, as it were,
double our files ; which certainly will be found in the

The second a receipt, I like not the word seminary,
in respect of the vain vows, and implicit obedience,
and other things tending to the perturbation of states,
involved in. that term, for converts to the reformed re-
ligion, either of youth or otherwise; for I doubt not
but there are in Spain, Italy, and other countries of
the papists, many whose hearts are touched with a
sense of those corruptions, and an acknowledgment
of a better way ; which grace is many times smothered
and choked, through a worldly consideration of neces-
sity ; men not knowing where to have succour and re-
fuge. This likewise I hold a work of great piety, and
a work of great consequence ; that we also may be
wise in our generation ; and that the watchful and
silent night may be used as well for sowing of good
seed, as of tares.

The third is, the imitation of a memorable and reli-
gious act of queen Elizabeth ; who finding a part of
Lancashire to be extremely backward in religion, and
the benefices swallowed up in impropriations, did by
decree in the duchy, erect four stipends of JOO/. per
annum apiece for preachers well chosen to help the
harvest, which have done a great deal of good in
the parts where they have laboured. Neither do there
want other corners in the realm, that would require
for a time the like extraordinary help.

Thus have I briefly delivered unto your majesty
mine opinion touching the employment of this charity ;
whereby that mass of wealth, which was in the ow r ner
little better than a stack or heap of muck, may be
spread over your kingdom to many fruitful purposes ;
your majesty planting and watering, and God giving
the increase.

t 395 ]





When the House was in great hcat^ and much troubled atout ths


Which were thought to be some able and forward
gentlemen; who, to ingratiate themselves with the
King, were said to have undertaken, that the King's
business should pass in that house as his majesty
could wish.

[In the Parliament 12 JACOBI.]

Mr. Speaker y

JL HAVE been hitherto silent in this matter of under-
taking, wherein, as I perceive, the house is much

First, because, to be plain with you, I did not well
understand what it meant, or what it was ; and I do
not love to offer at that, that I do not thoroughly con-
ceive. That private men should undertake for the
commons of England! why, a man might as well un-
dertake for the four elements. It is a thing so giddy,
and so vast, as cannot enter into the brain of a sober
man : and especially in a new parliament ; when it
was impossible to know who should be of the parlia-
ment : and when all men, that know never so little the
constitution of this house, do know it to be so open to
reason, as men do not know when they enter into these
doors what mind themselves will be of, until they hear
things argued and debated. Much less can any man-
make a policy of assurance, what ship shall come safe

396 d Speech about Undertakers.

home into the harbour in these seas. I had heard of un-
dertakings in several kinds. There were undertakers
for the plantations of Derry and Colerane in Ireland,
the better to command and bridle those parts. There
"were, not long ago, some undertakers for the north-
west passage : and now there are some undertakers
for the project of dyed and dressed cloths; and, in short,
every novelty useth to be strengthened and made good
by a kind of undertaking; but for the ancient parlia-
ment of England, which moves in a certain manner
and sphere, to be undertaken, it passes my reach to
conceive what it should be. Must we be all dyed
and dressed, and no pure whites amongst us ? Or
must there be a new passage found for the king's busi-
ness by a point of the compass that was never sailed
by before? Or must there be some forts built in thishouse
that may command and contain the rest? Mr. Speaker,
I know but two forts in this house which the king ever
hath ; the fort of affection and the fort of reason: the
one commands the hearts, and the other commands
the heads ; and others I know none. I think /Esop
was a wise man that described the nature of the fly
that sat upon the spoke of the chariot wheel and said
to herself, " What a dust do I raise ?" So, for my part, I
think that all this dust is raised by light rumours and
buzzes, and not upon any solid ground.

The second reason that made me silent was, because
this suspicion and rumour of undertaking settles upon
no person certain. It is like the birds of Paradise that
they have in the Indies, that have no feet ; and there-
fore they never light upon any place, but the wind
carries them away : and such a thing do I take this
rumour to be.

And lastly, when that the king had in his two several
speeches freed us from the main of our fears, in affirm-
ing directly that there was no undertaking to him ;
, and that he would have taken it to be no less deroga-
tion to his own majesty than to our merits, to have the
acts of his people transferred to particular persons ;
that did quiet me thus far, that these vapours were

A Speech about Undertakers. 397

not gone up to the head, howsoever they might glow
and estuate in the body.

Nevertheless, since 1 perceive that this cloud still
hangs over the house, and that it may do hurt, as well
in fame abroad as in the king's ear, I resolved with
myself to do the part of an honest voice in this house,
to counsel you what I think to be for the best,

Wherein first, I will speak plainly of the pernicious
effects of the accident of this bruit and opinion of un-
dertaking, towards particulars, towards the house, to-
wards the king, and towards the people.

Secondly, I will tell you in mine opinion, what un-
dertaking is tolerable, and how far it may be justified
with a good mind ; and on the other side, this same
ripping up of the question of undertakers, how far it
may proceed from a good mind, and in what kind it
may be thought malicious and dangerous.

Thirdly, I will give you my poor advice, what
means there are to put an end to this question of un-
dertaking not falling for the" present upon a precise
opinion, but breaking it, how many ways there be by
which you may get out of it, and leaving a choice of
them to a debate at the committee.

And lastly, I will advise you how things are to be
handled at the committee, to avoid distraction and loss
of time.

For the first of these, I can say to you but as the
Scripture saith, Si mvicem mordetis, ab inriccm con-
swnemini ; if ye fret and gall one another's reputation,
the end will be, that every man shall go hence, like
coin cried down, of less price than he carne hither.
If some shall be thought to fawn upon the king's busi-
ness openly, and others to cross it secretly, some shall
be thought practisers that would pluck the cards, and
others shall be thought papists that would shuffle the
cards : what a misery is this, that we should come to-
gether to fool one another, instead of procuring the
public good !

And this ends not in particulars, but will make the
whole house contemptible : for now I hear men say,
that this question of undertaking is the predominant

39S d Speech about Undertakers.

matter of this house. So that we are now according
to the parable of Jotham in the case of the trees of the
forest, that when question was, Whether the vine
should reign over them r that might not be : and
whether the olive should reign over them ? that might
not be : but we have accepted the bramble to reign
over us. For it seems that the good vine of the king's
graces, that is not so much in esteem ; and the good
oil, whereby we should salve and relieve the wants of
the estate and crown, that is laid aside too : and this
bramble of contention and emulation ; this Abimelech,
which, as was truly said by an understanding gentle-
man, is a bastard, for every fame that wants.a head,
is t fillus populi, this must reign and rule amongst us.

Then for the king, nothing can be more opposite,
ex diametro, to his ends and hopes, than this: for you
have heard -him profess like a king, and like a gra-
cious king, that he doth not so much respect his pre-
sent supply, as this demonstration that the peoples
hearts are more knit to him than before. Now then if
. the issue shall be this, that whatsoever shall be done
for him shall be thought to be done but by a number
of persons that shall be laboured and packed ; this will
rather be a sign of diffidence and alienation, than of a
natural benevolence and affection in his people at
home , and rather matter of disreputation, than of ho-
nour abroad. So that, to speak plainly to you, the
king were better call for a new pair of cards, than
play upon these if they be packed.

And then for the people, it is my manner ever to
look as well beyond a parliament as upon a parlia-
ment ; and if they abroad shall think themselves be-
trayed by those that are their deputies and attorneys
here, it is true we may bind them and conclude them,
but it will be with such murmur and dissatisfaction as
I would be loth to see.

- These things might be dissembled; and so things
left to bleed inwards ; but that is not the way to cura
them. And therefore I have searched the sore, in
hope that you will endeavour the medicine.

But this to do more thoroughly, I must proceed to

A Speech about Undertakers. 399

my second part, to tell you clearly and distinctly what
is to be set on the right hand, and what on the left in
this business.

First, if any man hath done good offices to advise the
king to call a parliament, and to increase the good affec-
tion and confidence of his majesty towards his people ;
I say that such a person doth rather merit well, than
commit any error. Nay farther, if any man hath, out
of his own good mind, given an opinion touching the
minds of the parliament in general ; how it is probable
they are like to be found, and that they will have a
due feeling of the king's wants, and will not deal
drily or illiberally with him ; this man, that doth but
think of other mens minds, as he finds his own, is not
to be blamed. Nay farther,, if any man hath coupled
this with good wishes and propositions, that the king
do comfort the hearts of his people, and testify his own
love to them, by filing off the harshness of his preroga-
tive, retaining the substance and strength ; and to that
purpose, like the good housholder in the Scripture, that
brought forth old store and new, hath revolved the peti-
tions and propositions of the last parliament, and added
new ; I say, this man hath sown good seed ; and he
that shall draw him into envy for it, sows tares. Thus
much of the right hand. But on the other side, if
any shall mediately or immediately infuse into his ma-
jesty, or to others, that the parliament is, as Cato said
of the Romans, " like sheep, that a man were better
" drive a flock of them than one-of thorn:" and how-
ever they may be wise men severally, yet in this as-
sembly they are guided by some few, which if they
be made and assured, the rest will easily follow : this
is a plain robbery of the king of honour, and his sub-
jects of thanks, and it is to make the parliament vile
and servile in the eyes of their sovereign ; and I count
it no better than a supplanting of the king and king-
dom. Again, if a man shall make this impression,
that it shall be enough for the king to send us same
things of shew that may serve for colours, and let some
eloquent tales be told of them, and that will serve
ad faciendum populum ; any such person will find that

40O A Speech about Undertaker^.

his house can well skill of false lights, and that it is
no wooing tokens, but the true love already planted
in the breasts of the subjects, that will make them do
for the king. And this is my opinion touching those
that may have persuaded a parliament. Take it on
the other side, for I mean in all things to deal plainly,
if any man hath been diffident touching the call of a
parliament, thinking that the best means were first for
the king to make his utmost trial to subsist of himself,
and his own means ; I say an honest and faithful heart
might consent to that opinion, and the event, it seems,
doth not greatly discredit it hitherto. Again, if any
man shall have been of opinion, that it is not a parti-
cular party that can bind the house ; nor that it is not
shews or colours can please the house ; I say, that man,
though his speech tend to discouragement, yet it is
coupled with providence. But, by your leave, if any
man since the parliament was called, or when it was
in speech, shall have laid plots to cross the good will
of the parliament to the king, by possessing them that
a few shall have the thanks, and that they are, as it
were, bought and sold, and betrayed ; and that that
which the king offers them are but baits prepared by
particular persons; or have raised rumours that it is a
packed parliament; to the end nothing may be done,
but that the parliament may be dissolved, as game-
sters used to call for new cards, when they mistrust a
pack: I say, these are engines and devices naught,
malign, and seditious.

Now for the remedy, I shall rather break the matter,
as I said in the beginning, than advise positively. I
know but three ways. Some message of declaration
to the king ; some entry or protestation amongst our-
selves ; or some strict and punctual examination. As
for the last of these I assure you I am not against it,
if I could tell where to begin, or where to end. For
certainly I have often seen it, that things when they
are in smother trouble more than when they break out.
Smoke blinds the eyes, but when it blazeth forth into
flame it gives light to the eyes. But then if you fall
to an examination, some person must be charged,

A Speech about Undertakers. 401

some matter must be charged ; and the manner of
that matter must be likewise charged ; for it may be
in a good fashion, and it may be in a bad, in as much
difference as between black and white : and then how
far men will ingenuously confess, how far they will
politicly deny, and what we can make and gather
upon their confession, and how we shall prove against
their denial ; it is an endless piece of work, and I doubt
that we shall grow weary of it.

For a message to the king, it is the course I like
best, so it be carefully and considerately handled : for
if we shall represent to the king the nature of this body
as it is, without the veils or shadows that have been
cast upon it, I think we shall do him honour, and
ourselves right.

For any thing that is to be done amongst ourselves, I
do not see much gained by it, because it goes no far-
ther than ourselves ; yet if any thing can be wisely con-
ceived to that end, I shall not be against it; but I
think the purpose of it is fittest to be, rather that the
house conceives that all this is but a misunderstanding,
than to take knowledge that there is indeed a just
ground, and then to seek by a protestation, to give it a
remedy. For protestations, and professions, and apo-
logies, I never found them very fortunate ; but they
rather increase suspicion than clear it.

Why then the last part is, that these things be han-
dled at the committee seriously and temperately;
wherein I wish that these four degrees of questions
were handled in order.

First, whether we shall do any thing at all in it, or
pass by it, and Jet it sleep ?

Secondly, whether we shall enter into a particular
examination of it ?

Thirdly, whether we shall content ourselves with
some entry or protestation among ourselves ?

And fourthly, whether we shall proceed to a mes-
sage to the king ; and what ?

Thus I have told you my opinion. I know it had
been more safe and politic to have been silent; but it
is perhaps more honest and loving to speak. The old


402 A Speech about Undertakers.

verse is Nam nulli tacuisse nocef, nocet esse locutum.
But, by your leave, David saith, Silui a bonis, et do-
'lor meus renovatus est. When a man speaketh he
may be wounded by others ; but if he hold his peace
from good things, he wounds himself. So I have done
rny part, and leave it to you to do that which you shall
judge to be the best.

[ 403 ]







Mr. Serjeant RICHARDSON,

A HE king bath beard and observed your grave and
decent speech, tending to the excuse and disablement
of yourself for the place of Speaker. In answer where-
of, bis majesty bath commanded me to say to you,
that be doth in no sort admit the same.

First, Because if the party's own judgment should
be admitted in case of elections, touching himself, it
would follow, that the most confident and overweaning
persons would be received ; and the most considerate
men, and those that understand themselves best,
would be rejected.

Secondly, His Majesty doth so much rely upon the
wisdoms and discretions of those of the house of com-
mons, that have chosen you with an unanimous con-
sent, that his majesty thinks not good to swerve from
their opinion in that wherein themselves are principally

Thirdly, You have disabled yourself in so good and
decent a fashion, as the manner of your speech hath
destroyed the matter of it.

And therefore the king doth allow of the election*
and admit you for speaker.

Chancellor's Speech to the Speaker's Excuse.



THE king hath heard and observed your eloquent
discourse, containing much good matter, and much
good will: wherein you must expect from me such an
answer only as is pertinent to the occasion, and com-
passed by due respect of time.

I may divide that which you have said into four

The first was a commendation, or laudative of mo-

The second was indeed a large field, containing a
thankful acknowledgment of his majesty's benefits,
attributes, and acts of government.

The third was some passages touching the institution
and use of parliaments.

The fourth and last was certain petitions to his ma-
jesty on the behalf of the house and yourself.

For your commendation of monarchy, and preferring
it before other estates, it needs no answer : the schools
may dispute it; but time hath tried it, and we find it
to be the best. Other states have curious frames soon
put out of order : and they that are made fit to last, are

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 33 of 45)