Francis Bacon.

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

. (page 6 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 6 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

" but in faith thou hast deceived but few."

But it is a manifest untruth which the libeller set-
teth down, that there hath been no punishment done
upon those which in any of the foresaid kinds have
broken the laws, and disturbed the church and state;
and that the edge of the law hath been only turned
upon the pretended catholics : for the examples are
very many, where according to the nature and de-
gree of the offence, the correction of such offenders
hath not been neglected.

These be the great confusions whereof he hath ac-
cused our church, which I refer to the judgment of
an indifferent and understanding person, how true they
be: my meaning is not to blanch or excuse any fault
of our church j nor on the other side, to enter into
commemoration, how flourishing it is in great and
learned divines, or painful and excellent preachers;
let men have the reproof of that which is amiss, and
God the glory of that which is good. And so much
for the first branch.

In the second branch, he maketh great musters and Concerning
shews of the strength and multitude of the enemies enemies^
of this state ; declaring in what evil terms and cor- the slate -
respondence we stand with foreign states, and how-
desolate and destitute we are of friends and confede-
rates ; doubting belike, how he should be able to
prove and justify his assertion touching the present
miseries, and therefore endeavouring at the least to
maintain, that the good estate which we enjoy, is yet

62 Observations on a Libel.

made somewhat bitter by reason of many terrors and
fears. Whereupon entering into consideration of the
security, wherein not by our own policy, but by the
good providence and protection of God, we stand at
this time, I do find it to be a security of that nature
and kind, which Iphicrates the Athenian did commend ;
who being a commissioner to treat with the state of
Sparta upon conditions of peace, and hearing the other
side make many propositions touching security, inter-
rupted them and told them, there was but one manner
of security whereupon the Athenians could rest;
which was, if the deputies of the Lacedaemonians
could make it plain unto them, that, after these and
these things parted withal, the Lacedaemonians should
not be able to hurt them though they would. So it is
with US;, as we have not justly provoked the hatred or
enmity of any other state, so howsoever that be, I know
not at this time the enemy that hath the power to of-
fend us though he had the will.

And whether we have given just cause of quarrel or
offence, it shall be afterwards touched in the fourth ar-
t tide, touching the true causes of the disturbance of
the quiet of Christendom, as far as it is fit to justify the
actions of so high a prince upon the occasion of such a
libel as this. But now concerning the power and
forces of any enemy, I do find that England hath some-
times apprehended with jealousy the confederation
between France and Scotland ; the one being upon the
same continent that we are, and breeding a soldier of
puissance and courage, not much differing from the
English : the other a kingdom very opulent, and thereby
able to sustain wars, though at very great charge ;
and having a brave nobility; and being a near neigh-
bour. And yet of this conjunction there never came
any offence of moment : but Scotland was ever rather
used by France as a diversion of an English invasion
upon France, than as a commodity of a French inva-
sion upon England. I confess also, that since the
unions of the kingdom of Spain, and during the time the
kingdom of France was in his entire, a conjunction of
those two potent kingdoms against us might have been

Observations on a Libel. 63

of some terror to us. But now it is evident that the
state of France is such as both those conjunctions are
become impossible : it resteth that either Spain with
Scotland should offend us, or Spain alone. For Scot-
land, thanks be to God, the amity and intelligence is so
sound and secret between the two crowns, being
strengthened by consent in religion, nearness of blood,
and continual good offices reciprocally on either side,
as the Spaniard himself, in his own plot, thinketh it
easier to alter and overthrow the present state of Scot-
land than to remove and divide it from the amity of
England. So as it must be Spain alone that we
should fear, which should seem, by reason of its spa-
cious dominions, to be a great overmatch. The con*
ceit whereof maketh me call to mind the resemblance
of an ancient writer in physic ; who, labouring to per-
suade that a physician should not doubt sometimes to
purge his patient, though he seem very weak, entereth
into a distinction of weakness; and saith there is a
weakness of spirit, and a weakness of body; the latter
whereof he compareth unto a man that were otherwise
very strong, but had a great pack on his neck, so great
as made him double again, so as one might thrust
him down with his finger; which similitude and distinc-
tion both maybe fitly applied to matter of state; for
some states are weak through want of means, and some
weak through excess of burden; in which rank I do
place the state of Spain, which having out-compassed
itself in embracing too much; and being itself but a
barren seed-plot of soldiers, and much decayed and
exhausted of men by the Indies, and by continual
wars ; and as to the state of their treasure, being in-
debted and engaged before such times as they waged
so great forces in France, and therefore much more
since, is not in brief an enemy to be feared by a na-
tion seated, manned, furnished, and policed as is

Neither is this spoken by guess, for the experience
was substantial enough, and of fresh memory in the
late enterprise of Spain upon England: what time all
that goodly shipping, which in that voyage was con-

64 Obsmations on a Libel.

sumed, was complete; what time his forces in the
Low-Countries were also full and entire, which now
are wasted to a fourth part; what time also he was
not intangled with the matters of France, but was
rather like to receive assistance than impediment from
his friends there, in respect of the great vigour wherein
the league then was, while the duke of Guise then
lived ; and yet nevertheless this great preparation passed
away like a dream. The invincible navy neither took
any one barque of ours, neither yet once offered to land ;
but after they had been well beaten and chased, made
a perambulation about the northern seas ; ennobling
many coasts with wrecks of mighty ships; and so
returned home with greater derision than they set forth
with expectation.

So as we shall not need much confederacies and
succours, which he saith we want for breaking of the
Spanish invasion: no, though the Spaniard should nes-
tle in Britain, and supplant the French, and get some
port-towns into their hands there, which is yet far off,
yet shall he never be so commodiously seated to annoy
us, as if he had kept the Low-Countries: and we shall
rather fear him as a wrangling neighbour, that may tres-
pass now and then upon some straggling ships of ours,
than as an invader. And as for our confederacies, God
hath given us both means and minds to tender and
relieve the states of others, and therefore our confedera-
cies are rather of honour than such as we depend upon.
And yet nevertheless the apostates and huguenots
of France on the one part, for so he termed the whole
nobility in a manner of France, among the which a
great part is of his own religion; which maintain the
clear and unblemished title of their lawful and natu-
ral king against the seditious populace, and the beer-
brewers and basket-makers of Holland and Zealand,
as he also terms them, on the other, have almost ban-
died away between them, all the duke of Parma's
forces; and I suppose the very mines of the Indies will
go low, or ever the one be ruined, or the other recovered.
Neither again desire we better confederacies and
leagues than Spain itself hath provided for us: Non

Observations on a Libel. 65

enim verbisfoedcra confirm antur, sed iifdem utilitati-
bus. We know to bow many states the king of Spain
is odious and suspected ; and for ourselves we have in-
censed none by our injuries, nor made any jealous of
our ambition: tbese are in rules of policy and firmest

Let tbus mucb be said in answer of tbe second branch,
concerning the number of the exterior enemies : where-
in my meaning is nothing less than to attribute our fe-
licity to our policy ; or to nourish ourselves in the hu-
mour of security. But I hope we shall depend upon
God and be vigilant ; and then it will be seen to what
end these false alarms will come.

In the third branch of the miseries of England, he
taketh upon him to play the prophet, as he hath in all
the rest played the poet ; and will needs divine or prog-
nosticate the great troubles whereunto this realm shall
fall after her majesty's times ; as if he that hath so sin-
gular a gift in lying of the present time and times past,
had nevertheless an extraordinary grace in telling truth
of the time to come ; or, as if the effect of the pope's
curses of England were upon better advice adjourned
to those days. It is true, it will be misery enough for
this realm, whensoever it shall be, to lose such a sove-
reign : but for the rest, we must repose ourselves upon
the good pleasure of God. So it is an unjust charge in
the libeller to impute an accident of state to the fault
of the government.

It pleaseth God sometimes, to the end to make
men depend upon him the more, to hide from them
the clear sight of future events ; and to make them
think that full of uncertainties which proveth certain
and clear: and sometimes, on the other side, to cross
mens expectations, and to make them full of difficulty
and perplexity in that .which they thougHt to be easy
and assured. Neither is it any new thing for the titles
of succession in monarchies to be at times less or more
declared. King Sebastian of Portugal, before his
journey into Africa, declared no successor. The car-
dinal, though he were of extreme age, and were
much importuned by the king of Spain, and knew di-


66 Observations on a Libel.

rectly of six or seven competitors to that crown, yet he
rather established I know not what interims, than de-
cided the titles, or designed any certain successor.
The dukedom of Ferrara is at this day, after the death
of the prince that now liveth, uncertain in the point
of succession: the kingdom of Scotland hath declared
no successor. Nay, it is very rare in hereditary mo-
narchies, by any act of state, or any recognition or oath
of the people in the collateral line, to establish a suc-
cessor. The duke of Orleans succeeded Charles
VIII. of France, but was never declared successor in
his time. Monsieur d'Angulesme also succeeded him,
but without any designation. Sons of kings them-
selves oftentimes, through desire to reign and to pre-
vent their time, wax dangerous to their parents: how
much more cousins in a more remote degree? It is
lawful, no doubt, and honourable, if the case require,
for princes to make an establishment: but as it was
said, it is rarely practised in the collateral line. Tra-
jan, the best emperor of Rome, of an heathen, that
ever was, at what time the emperors did use to design
successors, not so much to avoid the uncertainty of
succession, as to the end, to have partidpes curarum
for the present time, because their empire was so
vast ; at what time also adoptions were in use, and
himself had been adopted; yet never designed a suc-
cessor, but by his last will and testament, which also
was thought to be suborned by his wife Plotina in
the favour of her lover Adrian.

You may be sure that nothing hath been done to
prejudice the right; and there can be but one right.
But one thing I am persuaded of, that no king of
Spain, nor bishop of Rome, shall umpire, or promote
any beneficiary, or feodatory king, as they designed
to do; even when the Scots queen lived, whom they
pretended to cherish. I will not retort the matter of
succession upon Spain, but use that modesty and re-
verence, that belongeth to the majesty of so great a
king, though an enemy. And so much for this third

The fourth branch he makcth to be touching the

Observations on a Libel. 67

overthrow of the nobility and the oppression of the
people: wherein though he may perchance abuse the
simplicity of any foreigner; yet to an Englishman,
or any that heareth of the present condition of Eng-
land, he will appear to be a man of singular audacity,
and worthy to be employed in the defence of any pa-
radox. And surely if he would needs have defaced
the general state of England, at this time, he should in
wisdom rather have made some frierly declamation
against the excess of superfluity and delicacy of our
times, than to have insisted upon the misery and
poverty and depopulation of the land, as may suffi-
ciently appear by that which hath been said.

But nevertheless, to follow this man in his own Concerning
steps: first, concerning the nobility; it is true, that [{jy
there have been in ages past, noblemen, as I take it,
both of greater possessions and of greater command
and sway than any are at this day. One reason why
the possessions are less, I conceive to be, because
certain sumptuous veins and humours of expence, as
apparel, gaming, maintaining of a kind of followers,
and the like, do reign more than they did in times
past. Another reason is, because noblemen now-a-
days do deal better with their younger sons than they
were accustomed to do heretofore, whereby the prin-
cipal house receiveth many abatements. Touching
the command, which is not indeed so great as it hath
been, I take it rather to be a commendation of the
time, than otherwise : for men were wont factiously
to depend upon noblemen, whereof ensued many
partialities and divisions, besides much interruption
of justice, while the great ones did seek to bear out
those that did depend upon them. So as the kings
of this realm, finding long since that kind of com-
mandment in noblemen unsafe unto their crown, and
inconvenient unto their people, thought meet to re-
strain the same by provision of laws; whereupon
grew the statute of retainers; so as men now depend
upon the prince and the laws, and upon no other ; a
matter which hath also a congruity with the nature of
the -time, as may be seen in other countries; namely,

F 2

68 Observations on a Libel.

in Spain, where their grandees are nothing so potent
and so absolute as they have been in times past. But
otherwise, it may be truly affirmed, that the rights
and pre-eminencies of the nobility were never more
duly and exactly preserved unto them, than they have-
been in her majesty's time; the precedence of knights
given to the younger sons of barons; no subpoenas
awarded against the nobility out of the chancery, but
letters; no answer upon oath, but upon honour: be-
sides a number of other privileges in parliament,
court, and country. So likewise for the countenance
of her majesty and the state, in lieutenancies, commis-
sions, offices, and the like, there was never a more
honourable and graceful regard had of the nobility ;
neither was there ever a more faithful remembrancer
and exacter of all these particular pre-eminencies unto
them ; nor a more diligent searcher and register of
their pedigrees, alliances, and all memorials of honour,
than that man, whom he chargeth to have overthrown
the nobility; because a few of them by immoderate
expence are decayed, according to the humour of
the time, which he hath not been able to resist, no
not in his own house. And as for attainders, there
have been in thirty-five years but five of any of the
nobility, whereof but two came to execution; and
one of them was accompanied with restitution of blood
in the children: yea, all of them, except Westmore-
land, were such, as, whether it were by favour of
law or government, their heirs have, or are like to
have, a great part of their possessions. And so much
for the nobility.

Touching the oppression of the -people, he mention-
eth four points.

1. The consumption of people in the wars.

2. The interruption of traffick.

3. The corruption of justice.

Concerning 4. f he multitude of taxations. Unto all which

the common points there needeth no long speech. For the first,

subject. thanks be to God, the beneditlion of Crescife and

Multiplicamini, is not so weak upon this realm of

England, but the population thereof may afford such

Observations on a Libel.

loss of men as were sufficient for the making our late
wars, and were in a perpetuity, without being seen
either in city or country. We read, that when the
Romans did take cense of their people, whereby the
citizens were numbered by the poll in the beginning
of a great war; and afterwards again at the ending,
there sometimes wanted a third part of the number;
but let our muster books be perused, those, I say, that
cenify the number of all righting men in every shire,
of vicesimo of the queen; at what time, except a
handful of soldiers in the Low Countries, we expended
no men in the wars ; and now again, at this present
time, and there will appear small diminution. There
be many tokens in this realm rather of press and sur-
charge of people, than of want and depopulation ,
which were before recited. Besides, it is a better
condition of inward peace to be accompanied with
some exercise ot no dangerous w r ar in foreign parts,
than to be utterly without apprentisage of war, where-
by people grow effeminate and unpractised when oc-
casion shall be. And it is no small strength unto the
realm, that in these wars of exercise and not of peril,
so many of our people are trained, and so many ofour
nobility and gentlemen have been made excellent
leaders both by sea and land. As for that he objecteth,
we have no provision for soldiers at their return;
though that point hath not been altogether neglected,
yet I wish with all my heart, that it were more ample
than it is; though I have read and heard, that in all
estates, upon casheering and disbanding of soldiers,
many have endured necessity.

For the stopping of traffick, as I referred myself to
the muster-books for the first, so I refer myself to the
custom-books upon this, which will not lye, and do
make demonstration of no abatement at all in these last
years, but rather of rising and increase. We know of
many in London and other places that are within a
small time greatly come up and made rich by mer-
chandising : and a man may speak within his compass,
and affirm, that our prizes by sea have countervailed
any prizes upon us.

70 Observations on a Libel.

And as to the justice of this realm, it is true, that
cunning and wealth have bred many suits and debates
in law. But let those points be considered: the inte-
grity and sufficiency of those which supply the judi-
cial places in the queen's courts ; the good laws that
have been made in her majesty's time against informers
and promoters, and for the bettering of trials ; the ex-
ample of severity which is used in the Star-Chamber,
in oppressing forces and frauds ; the diligence and
stoutness that is used by justices of assizes, in encoun-
tering all countenancing and bearing of causes in the
country by their authorities _and wisdom; the great
favours that have been used towards copy-holders and
customary tenants, which were in ancient times merely
at the discretion and mercy of the lord, and are now
continually relieved from hard dealing, in chancery
and other courts of equity : I say, let these and many
other points be considered, and men will worthily
conceive an honourable opinion of the justice ot Eng-

Now to the points of levies and distributions of mo-
ney, which he calieth exactions. First, very coldly,
he is not abashed to bring in the gathering for Paul's
steeple and the lottery trirles : whereof the former be-
ing but a voluntary collection of that men were freely
disposed to give, never grew to so great a sum as was
sufficient to finish the work for which it was appoint-
ed : and so I imagine, it was converted into some other
use ; like to that gathering which was for the forti-
fications of Paris ; save that the gathering for Paris
came to a much greater, though, as I have heard, no
competent sum. And for the lottery, it was but a
novelty devised and followed by some particular per-
sons, and only allowed by the state, being as a gain of
hazard; wherein if any gain was, it was because many
men thought scorn, after they had fallen from their
greater hopes, to fetch their odd money. Then he
mentioneth loans and privy seals : wherein he sheweth
great ignorance and indiscretion, considering the pay-
ments back again have been very good and certain,
and much for her majesty's honour. Indeed, in other

Observations on a Libel. 7 1

princes times it was not wont to be so. And there-
fore, though the name be not so pleasant, yet the use
of them in our times have been with small grievance.
He reckoneth also new customs upon cloths, and new
imposts upon wines. In that of cloths, he is deceived;
for the ancient rate of custom upon cloths was not
raised by her majesty, but by queen Mary, a catholic
queen : and hath been commonly continued by her
majesty; except he mean the computation of the odd
yards, which in strict duty was ever answerable, though
the error were but lately looked into, or rather the to-
leration taken away. And to that of wines, being a
foreign merchandise, and but a delicacy, and of those
which might be forborn, there hath been some in-
crease of imposition, which can rather make the price
of wine higher, than the merchant poorer. Lastly,
touching the number of subsidies, it is true, that her
majesty, in respect of the great charges of her wars,
both by sea and land, against such a lord of treasure
as is the king of Spain; having for her part no Indies
nor mines, and the revenues of the crown of England,
being such, as they less grate upon the people than
the revenues of any crown or state in Europe, hath,
by the assent of parliament, according to the ancient
-customs of this realm, received divers subsidies of her
people, which as they have been employed upon the
defence and preservation of the subject, not upon ex-
cessive buildings, nor upon immoderate donatives,
nor upon triumphs and pleasures ; or any the like
veins of dissipation of treasure, which have been fa-
miliar to many kings: so have they been yielded with
great good-will and chearfulness, as may appear by
other kinds of benevolence, presented to her likewise
in parliament ; which her majesty nevertheless hath
not put in use. They have been taxed also and as-
sessed with a very light and gentle hand ; and they
have been spared as much as may be, as may appear
in that her majesty now twice, to spare the subject,
hath sold of her own lands. But he that shall look
into other countries, and consider the taxes, and talli-
ages, and impositions, and assizes, and the like, that

72 Observations on a Libel.

are every where in use, will find that the Englishman
is the most master of his own valuation, and the least
bitten in his purse of any nation of Europe. Nay even
at this instant in the kingdom of Spain, notwithstand-
ing the pioneers do still work in the Indian mines, the
Jesuits most play the pioneers, and mine into the Spa-
niards purses ; and, under the colour of a ghostly
exhortation, contrive the greatest exaction that ever
was in any realm.

Thus much, in answer of these calumniations, I have
thought good to note touching the present state of
England; which state is such, that whosoever hath
been an architect in the frame thereof, under the bles-
sing of God, and the virtues of our sovereign, needed
not to be ashamed of his work.

III. Of the proceedings against the pretended ca-
tholics, whether they have been violent, or mo-
derate and necessary.

I find her majesty's proceedings generally to have
been grounded upon two principles : the one,

That consciences are not to be forced, but to be
won and reduced by the force of truth, by the aid of
time, and the use of all good means of instruction or
persuasion: the other,

That causes of conscience when they exceed their
bounds, and prove to be matter of faction, lose their
nature ; and that sovereign princes ought distinctly to
punish the practice or contempt, though coloured with
the pretences of conscience and religion.

According to these two principles, her majesty, at

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 6 of 45)