Francis Bacon.

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

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cardines of east and west and northern and southern
regions. And therefore we see, that although the so*
vereignty alter, yet the seat still of the monarchy re-
mains in that place. For after the monarchies of the
kings of Assyria, which v/ere natural kings of that
place, yet when the foreign kings of Persia came in,
the seat remained. For although the mansion of the
persons of the kings of Persia were sometimes at Susa,
and sometimes at Ecbatana, which were termed their
winter and their summer parlours, because ot the mild-
ness of the air in the one, and the freshness in the
other ; yet the city of estate continued to be Babylon.

42S Of the true Greatness of Britain.

Therefore we see, that Alexander the Great, accord-
ing to the advice of Calanus the Indian, that shewed
him a bladder, which, if it were born down at one
end, would rise at the other, and therefore wished him
to keep himself in the middle of his empire, chose ac-
cordingly Babylon for his seat, and died there. And
afterwards likewise in the family of Seleucus and his
descendents, kings of the east, although divers of
them, for their own glory, were founders of cities of
their own names, as Antiochia, Seleucia, and divers
others, which they sought by all means to raise and
adorn, yet the greatness still remained according unto
nature with the ancient seat. Nay, further on, the
same remained during the greatness of the kings of
Parthia, as appeareth by the verse of Lucian, who
wrote in Nero's time.

Cumque superba staret Babylon spolianda trophaeis.

And after that, again it obtained the seat of the highest
caliph or successors of Mahomet. And at this day,
that which they call Bagdat, which joins to the ruin of
the other, containeth one of the greatest satrapies of
the Levant. So again Persia, being a country imbar-
red with mountains, open to the seas, and in the mid-
dle of the world, we see hath had three memorable
revolutions of great monarchies. The first in the time
of Cyrus ; the second in the time of the new Artaxerxes,
who" raised himself in the reign of Alexander Severus
emperor of Rome ; and now of late memory, in Ismael
the sophy, whose descendents continue in empire and
competition with the Turks to this day.

So again Constantinople, being one of the most ex-
cellentest seats of the world, in the confines of Europe
and Asia.

[ 429 ]








Recommending many important Instructions how to
govern himself in the Station of Prime Minister.

Written by SIR FRANCIS BACON, on the Importunity
of his Patron and Friend.


VV HAT you requested of me by word, when I last
waited on you, you have since renewed by your let-
ters. Your requests are commands unto me ; and yet
the matter is of that nature, that I find myself very
unable to serve you therein as you desire. It hath
pleased the king to cast an extraordinary eye of favour
upon you, and you express yourself very desirous to
win upon the judgment of your master, and not upon
his affections only. I do very much commend your
noble ambition herein ; for favour so bottomed is like
to be lasting ; whereas, if it be built but upon the
sandy foundation of personal respects only, it cannot
be long lived.

[My lord, when the blessing of God, to whom in What is
the first place I know you ascribe your preferment, and
the king's favour, purchased by your noble parts, pro
mising as much as can be expected from a gentleman,
liad brought you to this high pitch of honour, to be in
the eye, and ear, and even in the bosom of your gra- 4t0 ' *

430 Advice to Sir George Villters.

cious master ; and you had found by experience the
trouble of all men's confluence, and for all matters ; to
yourself, as a mediator between them and their sove-
reign, you were pleased to lay this command upon
me : first in general, to give you my poor advice for
your carriage in so eminent a place, and of so much
danger if not wisely discharged : next in particular by
what means to give dispatches to suitors of all sorts,
for the king's best service, the suitors satisfaction, and
your own ease. I humbly return you mine opinion in
both these, such as a hermit rather than a courtier can

Yet in this you have erred, in applying yourself to
me the most unworthy of your servants, to give assist-
ance upon so weighty a subject.

You know I am no courtier, nor versed in state
affairs; my life, hitherto, hath rather been contem-
plative than active ; I have rather studied books than
men ; I can but guess, at the most, at these things,
in which you desire to be advised : nevertheless, to
shew my obedience, though with the .hazard of my
discretion, I shall yield unto you.

Sir, in the first place, I shall be bold to put you in
mind of the present condition you are in ; you are not
only a courtier, but a bed-chamber man, and so are
in the eye and ear of your master ; but you are also a
favourite ; the favourite of the time, and so are in his
bosom also ; the world hath so voted you, and doth
so esteem of you ; for kings and great princes, even
the wisest of them, have had their friends, their fa-
vourites, their privadoes in all ages ; for they have
their affections as well as other men. Of these they
make several uses ; sometimes to communicate and
debate their thoughts with them, and to ripen their
judgments thereby ; sometimes to ease their cares by
imparting them ; and sometimes to interpose them be-
tween themselves and the envy or malice of their peo-
ple 5 for kings cannot err, that must be discharged
upon the shoulders of their ministers ; and they who
are nearest unto them must be content to bear the
greatest load. [Remember then what your true con-

Advice to Sir George Villiers. 431

dition is : the king himself is above the reach of his
people, but cannot be above their censures ; and you
are his shadow, if either he commit an error, and is
loth to avow it, but excuses it upon his ministers, of
\vhich you are first in the eye ; or you commit the fault
or have willingly permitted it, and must suffer for it :
and so perhaps you may be offered a sacrifice to ap-
pease the multitude.] But truly, Sir, I do not believe
or suspect that you are chosen on this eminency, out
of the last of these considerations : for you serve such
a master, w r ho by his wisdom and goodness is as free
from the malice or envy of his subjects, as I think, I
may truly say, ever any king was, who hath sat upon
his throne before him : but I am confident, his majesty
hath cast his eyes upon you, as finding you to be such
as you should be, or hoping to make you to be such as he
would have you to be ; for this I may say, without flat-
tery, your outside promiseth as much as can be expected
from a gentleman : but be it in the one respect or other,
it belongeth to you to take care of yourself, and to know-
well what the name of a favourite signifies. If you be
chosen upon the former respects, you have reason to
take care of your actions and deportment, out of your
gratitude, for the king's sake ; but if out of the latter,
you ought to take the greater care for your own sake.

You are as a new-risen star, and the eyes of all men
are upon you; let not your own negligence make you
fall like a meteor.

[Remember well the great trust you have under-
taken j you are as a continual centinel, always to stand
upon your watch to give him true intelligence. If you
flatter him you betray him ; if you conceal the truth of
those things from him which concern his justice or his
honour, although not the safety of his person, you are
as dangerous a traitor to his state, as he that riseth in
arms against him. A false friend is more dangerous
than an open enemy : kings are stiled gods upon
earth, not absolute, but Dm, Dii estis ; and the next
words are, sed moriemini sicut homines ; they shall
die like men, and then all their thoughts perish. They
cannot possibly see all things with their own eyes, nor

432 Advice to Sir George Villiers.

hear all things with their own ears ; they must commit
many great trusts to their ministers. Kings must be
answerable to God Almighty, to whom they are but
vassals, tor their actions and for their negligent omis-
sions : but the ministers to kings, whose eyes, ears,
and hands they are, must be answerable to God and
man for the breach of their duties, in violation of their
trusts, whereby they betray them. Opinion is a mas-
ter-wheel in these cases: that courtier who obtained a
boon of the emperor, that he might every morning at
his coming into his presence humbly whisper him in
the ear and say nothing, asked no unprofitable suit for
himself r but such a fancy raised only by opinion can-
not be long-lived, unless the man have solid worth to
uphold it; otherwise when once discovered it vanisheth
suddenly. But when a favourite in court shall be
raised upon the foundation of merits, and together with
the care of doing good service to the king, shall give
good dispatches to the suitors, then can he not choose
but prosper.]

The contemplation then of your present condition
must necessarily prepare you for action : what time
can be well spared from your attendance on your mas-
ter, will be taken up by suitors, whom you cannot
avoid nor decline without reproach. For if you do
not already, you will soon find the throng of suitors
attend you ; for no man, almost, who hath to do with
the king, w r ill think himself safe, unless you be his
good angel, and guide him ; or at least that you be
not a mains genius against him : so that, in respect of
the king your master, you must be very wary that you
give him true information ; and if the matter concern
him in his government, that you do not flatter him ;
if you do, you are as great a traitor to him in the court
of heaven, as he that draws his sword against him: and
in respect of the suitors which attend you, there is
nothing will bring you more honour and more ease,
than to do them what right in justice you may, and
with as much speed as you may : for believe it, Sir,
next to the obtaining of the suit, a speedy and gentle
denial, when the case will not bear it, is the most ac-

Advice to Sir George Villiers. 433

ceptable to suitors: they will gain by their dispatch ;
whereas else they shall spend their time and money in
attending, and you will gain, in the ease you will find in
being rid of their importunity. But if they obtain
-what they reasonably desired, they will be doubly
bound to you for your favour ; Bis dat qui cito daf, it
multiplies the courtesy, to do it with good words and

That you may be able to do this with the best ad-
vantage, my humble advice is this ; when suitors come
unto you, set apart a certain hour in a day to give
them audience : if the business be light and easy, it
may by word only be delivered, and in a word be an-
swered ; but if it be either of weight or of difficulty,
direct the suitor to commit it to writing, if it be not
so already, and then direct him to attend for his an-
swer at a set time to be appointed, which should con-
stantly be observed, unless some matter of great mo-
ment do interrupt it. When you have received the
petitions, and it will please the petitioners well, to
have access unto you to deliver them into your own
hand, let your secretary first read them, and draw
lines under the material parts thereof; for the matter,
for the most past, lies in a narrow room. The peti-
tions being thus prepared, do you constantly set apart
an hour in a day to peruse those petitions j and after
you have ranked them into several files, according to
the subject matter, make choice of two or three
friends, whose judgments and fidelities you believe
you may trust in a business of that nature ; and re-
commend it to one or more of them, to inform you of
their opinions, and of their reasons for or against the
granting of it. And if the matter be of great weight
indeed, then it would not be amiss to send several
.copies of the same petition to several of your friends,
the one not knowing what the other doth, and desire
them to return their answers to you by a certain time,
to be prefixed, in writing ; so shall you receive an im-
partial answer, and by comparing the one with the
other, as out of respojisa prudentium, you shall both
discern the abilities and faithfulness of your friends,


.434 Advice to Sir George Villlers.

and be able to give a judgment thereupon as an oracle.
But by no means trust to your own judgment alone;
for no man is omniscient : nor trust only to your ser-
vants, who may mislead you or misinform you ; by
which they may perhaps gain a few crowns, but the
reproach will lie upon yourself, if it be not rightly

For the facilitating of your dispatches, my advice is
farther, that you divide all the petitions, and the mat-
ters therein contained, under several heads : which, I
conceive, may be fitly ranked into these eight sorts.

I. Matters that concern religion, and the church
and churchmen.

II. Matters concerning justice, and the laws, and
the professors thereof.

III. Counsellors, and the council table, and the
great offices and officers of the kingdom.

IV. Foreign negotiations and embassies.

V. Peace and war, both foreign and civil, and in
that the navy and forts, and what belongs to them.

VI. Trade at home and abroad.

VII. Colonies, or foreign plantations.
VI IL The court and curiality.

And whatsoever will not fall naturally under one of
these heads, believe me, Sir, will not be worthy of
your thoughts, in this capacity, we now speak of.
And of these sorts, I warrant you, you will find
enough to keep you in business.

I BEGIN with the first, which concerns religion.

1. In the first place, be you yourself rightly per-
suaded and settled in the true protestant religion, pro-
fessed by the church of England ; which doubtless is
as sound and orthodox in the doctrine thereof, as any
Christian church in the world.

[For religion, if any thing be offered to you touching
it, or touching the church, or church-men, or church-
government, rely not only upon yourself, but take the
opinion of some grave and eminent divines, especially
such as are sad and discreet men, and exemplary for
their lives.]

2. In this you need not be a monitor to your gracious

Advice to Sir George Villier$.

master the king : the chiefest of his imperial titles is,
to be The Defender of the Faith, and his learning is
eminent, not only above other princes, but above other
men ; be but his scholar, and you are safe in that.

[If any question be moved concerning the doctrine
of the church of England expressed in the thirty-nine
articles, give not the least ear to the movers thereof:
that is so soundly and so orthodoxly settled, as cannot
be questioned without extreme danger to the honour
and stability of our religion ; which hath been sealed
with the blood of so many martyrs and confessors, as
are famous through the Christian world. The enemies
and underminers thereof are the Romish catholic, so
stiling themselves, on the one hand, whose tenets are
inconsistent with the truth of religion professed and
protested by the church of England, whence we are
called protesrants ; and the anabaptists, and separatists,
and sectaries on the other hand, whose tenets are full
of schism, and inconsistent with monarchy : for the re-
gulating of either, there needs no other coercion than
the due execution of the laws already established by

3. For the discipline of the church of England by
bishops, etc. I will not positively say, as some do, that
it is jure divino ; but this I say and think ex animo,
that it is the nearest to apostolical truth ; and confi-
dently I shall say, it is fittest for monarchy of all others.
I will use no other authority to you, than that excellent
proclamation set out by the king himself in the first
year of his reign, and annexed before the book of Com-
mon-prayer, which I desire you to read ; and if at any
time there shall be the least motion made for innovation,
to put the king in mind to read it himself: it is most
dangerous in a state, to give ear to the least alterations
in government.

[If any attempt be made to alter the discipline of our
church, although it be not an essential part of our reli-
gion, yet it is so necessary not to be rashly altered, as the
very substance of religion will be interested in it :
therefore 1 desire you before any attempt be made of
an innovation by your means, or by any intercession to

F f2

Advice to Sir George Jolliers.

your master, that you will first read over, and his ma-
jesty call to mind that wise and weighty proclamation,
which himself penned, and caused to be published in
the first year of his reign, and is prefixed in print before
the book of Common-prayer, of that impression, in
which you will find so prudent, so weighty reasons,
not to hearken to innovations, as will fully satisfy you,
that it is dangerous to give the least ear to such inno-
vators ; but it is desperate to be misled by them : and
to settle your judgment, mark but the admonition of
the wisest of men, king Solomon, Prov. xxiv. 21. My
son, fear God and the king, and meddle not with those
who are given to change.*]

4. Take heed, I beseech you, that you be not an in-
strument to countenance the Romish catholics. I can-
not flatter, the world believes that some near in blood
to you are too much of that persuasion -, you must use
them with fit respects, according to the bonds of na-
ture j but you are of kin, and so a friend to their per-
sons, not to their errors.

5. The archbishops and bishops, next under the
king, have the government of the church and eccle-
siastical affairs : be not you the mean to prefer any to
those places for any by-respects ; but only for their
learning, gravity, and worth : their lives and doctrine
ought to be exemplary.

6. For deans, and canons or prebends of cathedral
churches ; in their first institution they were of great
use in the church ; they were not only to be of counsel
with the bishop for his revenue, but chiefly for his go-
vernment in causes ecclesiastical : use your best means
to prefer such to those places who are fit for that pur-
pose, men eminent for their learning, piety, and dis^
cretion, and put the king often in mind thereof j and
let them be reduced again to their institution.

7. You will be often solicited, and perhaps impor-
tuned to prefer scholars to church livings : you may
further your friends in that way, caeleris paribus ;
otherwise remember, I pray, that these are not places
merely of favour; the charge of souls lies upon them ;
the greatest account whereof will be required at their

Advice to Sir George Villlers.

own bands ; but they will share deeply in their faults
who are the instruments of their preferment.

8. Besides the Romish catholics, there is a genera-
tion of sectaries, the anabaptists, brownists, and others
of their kinds; they have been several ticnes very busy
in this kingdom, under the colour of zeal for reforma-
tion of religion : the king your master knows their dis-
position very well ; a small touch will put him in mind
of them ; he had experience of them in Scotland, I
hope he will beware of them in England ; a little coun-
tenance or connivancy sets them on fire.

9. Order and decent ceremonies in the church are
not only comely, but commendable ; but there must
be great care not to introduce innovations, they will
quickly prove scandalous; men are naturally over-
prone to suspicion ; the true protestant religion is
seated in the golden mean ; the enemies to her are the
extremes on either hand.

10. The persons of church-men are to be had in due
respect for their work's sake, and protected from scorn;
but if a clergyman be loose and scandalous, he must
not be patronized nor winked at ; the example of a
few such corrupt many.

11. Great care must be taken, that the patrimony
of the church be not sacrilegiously diverted to lay uses :
his majesty in his time hath religiously stopped a leak
that did much harm, and would else have done more.
Be sure, as much as in you lies, stop the like upon all

12. Colleges and schools of learning are to be che-
rished and encouraged, there to breed up a new stock
to furnish the church and commonwealth when the old
store are transplanted. This kingdom hath in later
ages been famous for good literature ; and if prefer-
ment shall attend the deservers^ there will not want

II. NEXT to religion, let your care be to promote
justice. By justice and mercy is the king's throne

1. Let the rule of justice be the laws of the land,

Advice to Sir George Jolliers.

an impartial arbiter between the king and his people,
and between one subject and another: I shall not
speak superlatively of them, lest I be suspected of par-
tiality, in regard of my own profession ; but this I
may truly saj, They are second to none in the chris-
tian world.

[They are the best, the equallest in the world be-
tween prince and people ; by which the king hath the
justcst prerogative, and the people the best liberty :
and if at any time there be an unjust deviation, Hominis
est v it in m , no n p i ' of ess io nisJ]

2. And as far as it may lie in you, let no arbitrary
power be intruded : the people of this kingdom love
the laws thereof, and nothing will oblige them more,
than a. confidence of the free enjoying of them ; what
the nobles upon an occasion once said in parliament,
Nolumus leges Angliae mutare, is imprinted in the
hearts of all the people.

3. But because the life of the laws lies in the due ex-
ecution and administration of them, let your eye be, in
the first place, upon the choice of good judges : these
properties had they need to be furnished with ; to be
learned in their profession, patient in hearing, prudent
in governing, powerful in their elocution to persuade
and satisfy both the parties and hearers; just in their
judgment; and to sum up all, they must have these
three attributes ; they must be men of courage, fearing
God, and hating covetousness ; an ignorant man can-
not, a coward dares not be a good judge.

4. By no means be you persuaded to interpose
yourself, either by word or letter, in any cause de-
pending, or like to be depending in any court of jus-
tice, nor suffer any other great man to do it where
you can hinder it, and by all means dis-suade the king
himself from it 4 , upon the importunity of any for them-
selves or their friends : if it should prevail, it perverts
justice; but if the judge be so just, and of such cou-
rage, as he ought to be, as not to be inclined thereby,
yet it always leaves a taint of suspicion behind it ;
judges must be as chaste as Cesar's wife, neither
to be, nor to be suspected to be unjust; and, Sir, the

Advice to Sir George Villiers. 439

honour of the judges in their judicature is the king's
honour, whose person they represent.

5. There is great use of the service of the judges in
their circuits, which are twice in the year held through-
out the kingdom : the trial of causes between party and
party, or delivering of the gaols in the several coun-
ties, are of great use for the expedition of justice ; yet
they are of much more use for the government of the
counties through which they pass, if that were well
thought upon.

6. For if they had instructions to that purpose, they
might he the best intelligencers to the king of the true
state of his whole kingdom, of the disposition of the
people, of their inclinations, of their intentions and
motions, which are necessary to be truly understood.

7. To this end I could wish, that against every cir-
cuit all the judges should, sometimes by the king
himself, and sometimes by the lord Chancellor or lord
Keeper, in the king's name", receive a charge of those
things which the present times did much require; and
at their return should deliver a faithful account there-
of, and how they found and left the counties through
which they passed, and in which they kept their as-

8. And that they might the better perform this
work, which might be of great importance, it will not
be amiss that sometimes this charge be public, as it
useth to be in the Star-chamber, at the end of the
terms next before the circuit begins, where the king's
care of justice, and the good of his people, may be pub-
lished ; and that sometimes also it may be private, to
communicate to the judges some things not fit to be

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 36 of 45)