Francis Bacon.

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pleasant to a great part of the subjects. It appeareth
then, that of the line of five hundred and fourscore



50 Observations on a Libel.

years, and more, containing the number of twenty-
( two kings, God hath already prolonged her majesty's
reign to exceed sixteen of the said two and twenty ;
and by the end of this present year, which God pros-
per, she shall attain to be equal with two more :
during which time there have deceased four emperors,
as many French kings ; twice so many bishops of
Rome. Yea, every state in Christendom, except
Spain, have received sundry successions. And for the
king of Spain, he is waxed so infirm, and thereby so
retired, as the report of his death serveth for every
year's news : whereas her majesty, thanks be given to
God, being nothing decayed in vigour of health and
strength, was never more able to supply and sustain
the weight of her affairs, and is, as far as standeth
with the dignity of her majesty's royal state, conti-
nually to be seen, to the great comfort and heart-ease
of her people.

2. Health. Secondly, we will ^mention the blessing of health :
I mean generally of the people, which was wanting
in the reign of another of these kings ; which else de-
served to have the second place in happiness, which is
one of the great favours of God towards any nation.
For as there be three scourges of God, war, famine,
and pestilence ; so are there three benedictions, peace,
plenty, and health. Whereas therefore this realm hath
been visited in times past with sundry kinds of morta-
lities, as pestilences, sweats, and other contagious
diseases, it is so, that in her majesty's times, being of
the continuance aforesaid, there was only, towards
the beginning of her reign, some sickness, between
June and February, in the city ; but not dispersed
into any other part of the realm, as was noted j which
we call yet the great plague ; because that though it
was nothing so grievous and so sweeping as it hath
been sundry times heretofore, yet it was great in re-
spect of the health which hath followed since ; which
hath been such, especially of late years, as we began
to dispute and move questions of the causes whereunto
it should be ascribed, until such time as it pleased God
to teach us that we ought to ascribe it only to his

Observations on a Ltbel. 5 1

mercy, by touching us a little this present year, but with
a very gentle hand ; and such as it hath pleased him
since to remove. But certain it is, for so many years
together, notwithstanding the great pestering of peo-
ple in houses, the great multitude of strangers, and
the sundry voyages by seas, all which have been
noted to be causes of pestilence, the health universal
of the people was never so good.

The third blessing is that which all the politic and 3. Peace*
fortunate kings before recited have wanted ; that is,
peace : for there was never foreigner since her ma-
jesty's reign, by invasion or incursion of moment, that
took any footing within the realm of England. One
rebellion there hath .been only, but such an one as
was repressed within the space of seven weeks, and
did not waste the realm so much as by the destruction
or depopulation of one poor town. And for wars
abroad, taking in those of Leith, those of Newhaven,
the second expedition into Scotland, the wars of Spain,
which I reckon from the year 86 or 87, before which
time neither had the king of Spain withdrawn his am-
bassadors here residing ; neither had her majesty re-
ceived into protection the United Provinces of the
Low Countries, and the aid of France ; they have not
occupied in time a third part of her majesty's reign;
nor consumed past two of any noble house j whereof
France took one, and Flanders another ; and very few
besides of quality or appearance. They have scarce
mowed down the overcharge of the people within the
realm. It is therefore true, that the kings aforesaid,
and others her majesty's progenitors, have been vic-
torious in their wars, and have made many famous
and memorable voyages and expeditions into sundry
parts ; and that her majesty, contrariwise, from the
beginning, put on a firm resolution to content herself
within those limits of her dominions which she re-
ceived, and to entertain peace with her neighbour
princes ; which resolution she hath ever since, not-
withstanding she hath had rare opportunities, just
claims and pretences, and great and mighty means,
sought to continue. But if this be objected to be the


52 Observations on a LibeL

less honourable fortune ; I answer, that ever amongst
the heathen, who held not the expence of blood so
precious as Christians ought to do, the peaceable go-
vernment of Augustus Caesar w r as ever as highly
esteemed as the victories of Julius his uncle ; and that
the name of pater patrioe was ever as honourable as
that of propagator imperil. And this I add further,
that during this inward peace of so many years in the
actions of war before mentioned, which her majesty,
either in her own defence or in just and honourable
aids, hath undertaken, the service hath been such as
hath carried no note of a people, whose militia were
degenerated through a long peace ; but hath every way
answered the ancient reputation of the English arms.
4. Plenty The fourth blessing is plenty and abundance : and
and wealth. rst f Qf g ra in and all victuals, there cannot be more
evident proof of the plenty than this ; that whereas
England was wont to be fed by other countries from
the east, it sufficeth now to feed other countries ; so
as we do many times transport and serve sundry fo-
reign countries : and yet there was never the like mul-
titude of people to eat it within the realm. Another
evident proof thereof may be, that the good yields of
com which have been, together with some toleration
of vent, hath of late time invited and enticed men to
break up more ground, and to convert it to tillage,
than all the penal laws for that purpose made and
enacted could ever by compulsion effect. A third
proof may be, that the prices of grain and victual were
never of late years more reasonable. Now for argu-
ments of the great wealth in all other respects, let the
points following be considered.

There was never the like number of fair and stately
houses as have been built and set up from the ground
since her majesty's reign ; insomuch, that there have
been reckoned in one shire that is not great, to the
number of thirty-three, which have been all new built
within that time ; and whereof the meanest was never
built for two thousand pounds.

There were never the like pleasures of goodly gar-
dens and orchards, walks, pools, and parks, as do
adorn almost every mansion-house.

Observations on a Libel. 53

There was never the like number of beautiful and
costly tombs and monuments which are erected in sun-
dry churches, in honourable memory of the dead.

There was never the like quantity of plate, jewels,
sujnptuous moveables, and stuff, as now within the

There was never the like quantity of waste and
unprofitable ground, in need, reclaimed, and im-

There was never the like husbanding of all sorts of
grounds by fencing, manuring, and all kinds of good

The towns were never better built nor peopled ; nor
the principal fairs and markets ever better customed or

The commodities and ease of rivers cut by hand,
and brought into a new channel ; of piers that have
been built ; of waters that have been forced and
brought against the ground were never so many.

There was never so many excellent artificers, nor
so many new handy-crafts used and exercised : nor
new commodities made within the realm ; sugar,
paper, glass, copper, divers silks, and the like.

There was never such complete and honourable
provision of horse, armour, weapons, ordnance of the

The fifth blessing hath been the great population 5. increase
and multitude of families increased within her majes- of ^ eo ^ le -
ty's days : for which point I refer myself to the pro-
clamations of restraint of building in London, the in-
hibition of inmates of sundry cities, the restraint of
cottages by act of parliament, and sundry other tokens
of record of the surcharge of people.

Besides these parts of a government, blessed from e. Reforma-
God, wherein the condition of the people hath been
more happy in her majesty's times, than in the times
of her progenitors, there are certain singularities and
particulars of her majesty's reign ; wherein I do not
say, that we have enjoyed them in a more ample de-
ree and proportion than in former ages, as it hath
alien out in the points before mentioned, but such as

tion in reli-

54 Observations on a Libel.

were in effect unknown and untasted heretofore. As
first, the purity of religion, which is a benefit ines-
timable, and was in the time of all former princes,
until the days of her majesty's father of famous me- ,
mory, unheard of. Out of which purity of religion
have since ensued, beside the principal effect of the
true knowledge and worship of God, three points of
grea^ consequence unto the civil estate.

The special One, the stay of a mighty treasure within the realm,
" wn i cn in foretimes was drawn forth to Rome. Ano-
ther, the dispersion and distribution of those revenues,
amounting to a third part of the land of the realm,
and that of the goodliest and the richest sort, which
heretofore was unprofitably spent in monasteries, into
such hands as by whom the realm receiveth, at this
day, service and strength ; and many great houses
have been set up and augmented. The third, the
managing and enfranchising of the regal dignity from
the recognition of a foreign superior. All which
points, though begun by her father, and continued by
her brother, were yet nevertheless, after an eclipse or
intermission, restored and re-established by her ma-
jesty's self.

Fineness of Secondly, the fineness of money : for as the purging
money, away of the dross of religion, the heavenly treasure,
was common to her majesty with her father and her
brother, so the purging of the base money, the earthly
treasure, hath been altogether proper to her majesty's
own times ; whereby our moneys bearing the natural
estimation of the stamp or mark, both every man
resteth assured of his own value, and free from the
losses and deceits which fall out in other places upon
the rising and falling of moneys. .

The might Thirdly, the might of the navy, and augmentation
ofthenavy * of the shipping of the realm; which, by politic con-
stitutions for maintenance of fishing, and the encou-
ragement and assistance given to the undertakers of
new discoveries and trades by sea, is so advanced, as
this island is become, as the natural site thereof de-
serveth, the lady of the sea.

Now, to pass from the comparison of time to the

Observations on a Libel. 55

comparison of place, we may find in the states abroad
cause of pity and compassion in some; but of envy
or emulation in none ; our condition being, by the
good favour of God, not inferior to any.

The kingdom of France, which, by reason of the Comparison
seat of the empire of the west, was wont to have the J f ^ g ^
precedence of the kingdoms of Europe, is now fallen with the
into those calamities, that, as the prophet saith, From J^J a "
the crown of the head to the sole of the foot > there ?> no Afflicted in
whole place. The divisions are so many, and so intri- Fr
cate, of protestants and catholics, royalists and leaguers,
Bourbonists and Lorainists, patriots and Spanish; as it
seemeth God hath some great work to bring to pass
upon that nation : yea, the nobility divided from the
third estate, and the towns from the field. All which
miseries, truly to speak, have been wrought by Spain
and the Spanish faction.

The Low Countries, which were, within the age of L ? w Coun -
a young man, the richest, the best peopled, and the
best built plots in Europe, are in such estate, as a
country is like to be in, that hath been the seat of
thirty years war : and although the sea-provinces be
rather increased in wealth and shipping than other-
wise: yet they cannot but mourn for their distraction
from the rest of their body.

The kingdom of Portugal, which of late times, Portugal,
through their merchandising and places in the East
Indies, was grown to be an opulent kingdom, is now
at the last, after the unfortunate journey of Afric, in
that state as a country is like to be that is reduced
under a foreigner by conquest ; and such a foreigner
as hath his competitor in title, being a natural Portu-
gal and no stranger; and having been once in pos-
session, yet in life ; whereby his jealousy must neces-
sarily be increased, and through his jealousy their op-
pression : which is apparent, by the carrying of many
noble families out of their natural countries to live in
exile, and by putting to death a great number of no-
blemen, naturally born to have been principal gover-
nors of their countries. These are three afflicted parts

56 Observations on a Libel.

of Christendom ; the rest of the states enjoy either
prosperity or tolerable condition.

Prosperous, The kingdom of Scotland, though at this present,

as Scotland. D y t ne good regimen and wise proceeding of the king,
they enjoy good quiet; yet since our peace it hath
passed through no small troubles, and remaineth full
of boiling and swelling humours; but like, by the ma-
turity of the said king every day increasing, to be re-

Poland, The kingdom of Poland is newly recovered out of

great wars about an ambiguous election. And be-
sides, is a state of that composition, that their king
being elective, they do commonly choose rather a
stranger than one of their own country : a great ex-
ception to the flourishing estate of any kingdom.

Sweden. The kingdom of Swedeland, besides their foreign
wars upon their confines, the Muscovites and the
Danes, hath been also subject to divers intestine tu-
mults and mutations, as their stories do record.

Denmark. The kingdom of Denmark hath had good times,
especially by the good government of the late king,
who maintained the profession of the gospel ; but yet
greatly giveth place to the kingdom of England, in
climate, wealth, fertility, and many other points both
of honour and strength.

Italy. The estates of Italy, which are not under the domi-

nion of Spain, have had peace equal in continuance
with ours, except in regard to that which hath passed
between them and the Turk, which hath sorted to
their honour and commendation ; but yet they are so
bridled and over-awed by the Spaniard, that posses-
seth the two principal members thereof, and that in
the two extreme parts, as they be Itke quillets of free-
hold, being intermixed in the midst of a great honour
or lordship ; so as their quiet is intermingled, not with
jealousy alone, but with restraint.

Germany. The states of Germany have had for the most part
peaceable times ; but yet they yield to the state of
England ; not only in the great honour of a great
kingdom, they being of a mean stile and dignity, but
also in many other respects both of wealth and policy.

Observations on a Libel. 57

The state of Savoy having been in the old duke's Savoy,
time governed in good prosperity, hath since (notwith-
standing their new great alliance with Spain, where-
upon they waxed so insolent, as to design to snatch
up some piece of France, after the dishonourable re-
pulse from the siege of Geneva) been often distressed
by a particular gentleman of Dauphiny ; and at this
present day the duke feeleth,even in Piedmont beyond
the mountains, the weight of the same enemy ; who
hath lately shut up his gates and common entries be-
tween Savoy and Piedmont.

So as hitherto I do not see but that we are as much
bound to the mercies of God as any other nation;
considering that the fires of dissension and oppression
in some parts of Christendom, may serve us for lights
to shew us our happiness; and the good estates of other
places, which we do congratulate with them for, is
such, nevertheless, as doth not stain and exceed ours;
but rather doth still leave somewhat, wherein we may
acknowledge an ordinary benediction of God.

Lastly, we do not much emulate the greatness and Spain,
glory of the Spaniards ; who having not only excluded
the purity of religion, but also fortified against it, by
their device of the inquisition, which is a bulwark
against the entrance of the truth of God ; having, in
recompence of their new purchase of Portugal, lost a
great part of their ancient patrimonies of the Low
Countries, being of far greater commodity and value,
or at the least holding part thereof in such sort as most
of their other revenues are spent there upon their own;
having lately, with much difficulty, rather smoothed
and skinned over, than healed and extinguished the
commotions of Aragon; having rather sowed troubles
in France, than reaped assured fruit thereof unto them-
selves ; having from the attempt of England received
scorn and disreputation ; being at this time with the
states of Italy rather suspected than either loved or
feared ; having in Germany, and elsewhere, rather
much practice, than any sound intelligence or amity;
having no such clear succession as they need object,
and reproach the uncertainty thereof unto another

68 Observations on a Libel.

nation; have in the end won a reputation rather of
ambition than justice ; and in the pursuit of their am-
bition, rather of much enterprising than of fortunate
atchieving ; and in their enterprising, rather of doing
things by treasure and expence, than by forces and

Now that I have given the reader a taste of England
respectively, and, in comparison of the times past, and
of the states abroad, I will descend to examine the-
libeller's own divisions, whereupon let the world judge
how easily and clean this ink, which he hath cast in
our faces, is washed off.

The first branch of the pretended calamities of Eng-
land, is the great and w r onderful confusion which, he
saith, is in the state of the church ; which is subdi-
vided again into two parts : the one, the prosecutions
against the catholics ; the other, the discords and con-
troversies amongst ourselves : the former of which two
parts I have made an article by itself; wherein I have
set down a clear and simple narration of the proceed-
ings of state against that sort of subjects ; adding this
by the way, that there are two extremities in state
concerning the causes of faith and religion ; that is
to say, the permission of the exercises of more reli-
gions than one, which is a dangerous indulgence and
toleration ; the other is the entering and sifting into
mens consciences when no overt scandal is given,
which is a rigorous and strainable inquisition; and I
avouch the proceedings towards the pretended catho-
lics to have been a mean between these two extre-
mities, referring the demonstration thereof unto the
aforesaid narration in the articles following.
Concerning Touching the divisions in our church, the libeller

the contro-

affirmeth that the protestantical Calvinism, for so it
ur church, pleaseth him with very good grace to term the religion
with us established, is grown contemptible, and de-
tected of idolatry, heresy, and many other superstitious
abuses, by a purified sort of professors of the same
gospel. And this contention is yet grown to be more
intricate, by reason of a third kind of gospellers called
Brownists : who, being directed by the great fervour

Observations on a Libel. 59

of the unholy ghost, do expresly affirm, that the
protestantical church of England is not gathered
in the name of Christ, but of Antichrist; and that
if the prince or magistrate under her do refuse or
defer to reform the church, the people may, without
her consent, take the reformation into their own
hands : and hereto he addeth the fanatical pageant
of Hacket. And this is the effect of this accusation
in this point.

For answer whereunto, first, it must be remembered
that the church of God hath been in all ages subject
to contentions and schisms: the tares were not sown
but where the wheat was sown before. Our Saviour
Christ delivered it for an ill note to have outward
peace ; saying, when a strong man is in possession of
the house, meaning the devil, all things are in peace.
It is the condition of the church to be ever under
trials; and there are but two trials; the one of perse-
cution, the other of scandal and contention ; and when
the one ceaseth, the other succeeded! : nay, there is
scarce any one epistle of St. Paul's unto the churches,
but containeth some reprehension of unnecessary and
schismatical controversies. So likewise in the reign
of Constantine the Great, after the time that the
church had obtained peace from persecution, straight
entered sundry questions and controversies, about no
less matters than the essential parts of the faith, and
the high mysteries of the Trinity. But reason teach-
eth us, that in ignorance and implied belief it is easy
to agree, as colours agree in the dark : or if any coun-
try decline into atheism, then controversies wax
dainty, because men do think religion scarce worth the
falling out for; so as it is weak divinity to account
controversies an ill sign in the church.

It is true that certain men, moved with an incon-
siderate detestation of all ceremonies or orders, which
were in use in the time of the Roman religion, as if
they were without difference superstitious or polluted,
and led with an affectionate imitation of the govern*
ment of some protestant churches in foreign states;
have sought by books and preaching, indiscreetly, and

60 Observations on a Libel.

sometimes undutifully, to bring in an alteration in the
external rites and policy of the church ; but neither
have the grounds of the controversies extended unto
any point of faith ; neither hath the pressing and pro-
secution exceeded, in the generality, the nature of
some inferior contempts : so as they have been far
from heresy and sedition, and therefore rather offensive
than dangerous to the church or state.

And as for those which we call Brownists, being,
when they were at the most, a very small number of
very silly and base people, here and there in corners
dispersed, they are now, thanks be to Godj by the
good remedies that have been used, suppressed and
worn out; so as there is scarce any news of them.
Neither had they been much known at all, had not
Brown their leader written a pamphlet, wherein, as it
came into his head, he inveighed more against logic
and rhetoric, than against the state of the church,
which writing was much read ; and had not also one
Barrow, being a gentleman of a good house, but one
that lived in London at ordinaries, and there learned
to argue in table-talk, and so was very much known
in the city and abroad, made a leap from a vain and
libertine youth, to a preciseness in the highest degree;
the strangeness of which alteration made him very
much spoken of; the matter might Jong before have
breathed out. And here I note an honesty and dis-
cretion in the libeller, which I note no where else ; in
that he did forbear to lay to our charge the sect of the
Family of Love ; for, about twelve years since, there
was creeping in, in some secret places of the realm,
indeed a very great heresy, derived from the Dutch,
and named as was before said; which since, by the
good blessing of God, and by the good strength of
our church, is banished and extinct. But so much we
see, that the diseases wherewith our church hath been
visited, whatsoever these men say, have either not been
malign and dangerous, or else they have been as blis-
ters in some small ignoble part of the body, which
have soon after fallen and gone away. For such also
was the phrenetical and fanatical^ for- 1 mean not to

Observations on a Libel. 61

determine it, attempt of Hacket, who must needs have
been thought a very dangerous heretic, that could
never get but two disciples; and those, as it should
seem, perished in their brain ; and a dangerous com-
motioner, that in so great and populous a city as Lon-
don is, could draw but those two same fellows, whom
the people rather laughed at as a may-game, than took
any heed of what they did or said : so as it was very
true that an honest poor woman said when she saw
Hacket out of a window pass to his execution ; said
she to herself, " It was foretold that in the latter days
" there should come those that have deceived many;

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 45)