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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her coming to the crown, utterly disliking of the ty-
ranny of the church of Rome, which had used by ter-
ror and rigour to seek commandment over mens faiths
and consciences ; although, as a prince of great wis-
dom and magnanimity, she suffered but the exercise
of one religion, yet her proceedings towards the papists
were with great lenity, expecting the good effects
which time might work in them.

And therefore her majesty revived not the laws
made in 28, and 35, of her father's reign, whereby

Observations on a Libel. 73

the oath of supremacy might have been offered at the
king's pleasure to any subject, though he kept his con-
science never so modestly to himself ; and the refusal
to take the same oath, without farther circumstance,
was made treason : but contrariwise, her majesty not
liking to make windows into mens hearts and secret
thoughts, except the abundance of them did overflow
into overt and express acts and affirmations, tempered
her law so, as it restraineth only manifest disobedience
in impugning and impeaching advisedly and ambi-
tiously her majesty's supreme power, and maintaining
and extolling a foreign jurisdiction. And as for the
oath, it was altered by her majesty into a more grate-
ful form; the harshness of the name, and appellation
of supreme head was removed ; and the penalty of the
refusal thereof turned into a disablement to take any
promotion, or to exercise any charge; and yet that
with a liberty of being revested therein, if any man
shall accept thereof during his life.

But after many years toleration of a multitude of
factious papists, when Pius (iuintus had excommuni-
cated her majesty, and the bill of excommunication
was published in London, whereby her majesty was
in a sort proscribed, and all her subjects drawn upon
pain of damnation from her obedience; and that there-
upon, as upon a principal motive or preparative, fol-
lowed the rebellion in the north; yet notwithstanding,
because many of those evil humours were by that re-
bellion partly purged, and that she feared at that time
no foreign invasion, and much less the attempts of any
within the realm not backed by some foreign succours
from without ; she contented herself to make a law
against that special case of bringing in, or publishing
of bulls or the like instruments; whereunto was added
a prohibition, not upon pain of treason, but of an infe-
rior degree of punishment, against bringing mof Agnus
Dei'sy hallowed beads, and such other merchandise of
Rome, as are well known not to be any essential part
of the Roman religion, but only to be used in practice
as love-tokens, to inchant and bewitch the peoples af-
fections from their allegiance to their natural sovereign.

"4 Observations on a Libel.

In all other points her majesty continued her former

But when, about the twentieth year of her reign,
she had discovered in the king of Spain an intention to
Invade her dominions, and that a principal point of the
plot was to prepare a party within the realm that might
adhere to the foreigner; and that the seminaries be-
gan to blossom and to send forth daily priests and pro-
fessed men, who should by vow, taken at shrift, re-
concile her subjects from her obedience; yea, and bind
many of them to attempt against her majesty's sacred
person ; and that, by. the poison they spread, the hu-
mours of most papists were altered, and that the}- were
no more papists in custom, but papists in treasonable
faction : then were there new laws made for the pu-
nishment of such as should submit themselves to recon-
cilements or renunciations of obedience. For it is to be
understood, that this manner of reconcilement in con-
fession, is of the same nature and operation that the
bull itself was of, with this only difference, that whereas
the bull assoiled the subjects from their obedience at
once, the other doth it one by one. And therefore it
is both more secret, and more insinuative into the con-
science, being joined with no less matter than an ab-
solution from mortal sin. And because it was a trea-
son carried in the clouds, and in wonderful secrecy,
and came seldom to light ; and that there was no pre-
sumption thereof so great as the recusants to come to
divine service, because it was set down by their de-
crees, that to come to church before reconcilement,
was to live in schism ; but to come to church after re-
concilement, was absolutely heretical and damnable:
therefore there were added new laws, containing a
punishment pecuniary against the recusants, not to
enforce consciences, but to enfeeble those of whom it
rested indifferent and ambiguous, whether they were
reconciled or no ? For there is no doubt, but if the
law of recusancy, which is challenged to be so extreme
and rigorous, were thus qualified, that any recusant
that shall voluntarily come in and take his oath, that he
or she were never reconciled, should immediately be

Observations on a Libel. 75

discharged of the penalty and forfeiture of the law;
they would be so far from liking well of that mitiga-
tion, as they would cry out it was made to in trap
them. And when, notwithstanding all this provision,
this poison was dispersed so secretly, as that there
were no means to stay it, but to restrain the merchants
that brought it in ; then was there lastly added a law,
whereby such < editious priests of the new erection were
exiled ; and those that were at that time within the
land shipped over, and so commanded to keep hence
upon pain of treason.

This hath been the proceeding with that sort,
though intermingled not only with sundry examples of
her majesty's grace towards fuch as in her wisdom she
knew to be papists in conscience, and not in faction ;
but also with an extraordinary mitigation towards the
offenders in the highest degree convicted by law, if
they would protest, that in case this realm should be
invaded with a foreign army, by the pope's authority,
for the catholic cause, as they term it, they would take
part with her majesty, and not adhere to her enemies.

And whereas he saith no priest dealt in matter of
state, Ballard only excepted; it appeareth by the re-
cords of the confession of the said Ballard, and sundry
other priests, that all priests at that time generally
were made acquainted with the invasion then intended,
and afterwards put in act ; and had received instruc-
tions not only to move an expectation in the people of
a change, but also to take their vows and- promises in
shrift to adhere to the foreigner ; insomuch that one of
their principal heads vaunted himself in a letter of the
device, saying, that it was a point the council of Eng-
land would never dream of, who would imagine that
they should practise with some nobleman to make him
head of their faction ; whereas they took a course only to
deal with the people, and them so severally, as any
one apprehended should be able to appeal no more than
himself, except the priests, who he knew would re-
veal nothing that was uttered in confession : so inno-
cent was this princely priestly function, which this
man taketh to be but a matter of conscience, and

76 Observations on a Libel.

think eth it reason it should have free exercise through-
out the land.

IV. Of the disturbance of the quiet of Christendom ;
and to what causes it may be justly assigned.

It is indeed a question, which those that look into
matters of state do well know to fall out very often ;
though this libellerseemeth to be more ignorant thereof,
whether the ambition of the more mighty state, or the
jealousy of the less mighty state, is to be charged with
breach of amity. Hereof as there may be many ex-
amples, so there is one so proper unto the present
matter, as thougk it were many years since, yet it
seemeth to be a parable of these times, and namely of
the proceedings of Spain and England.

The states then, which answered to these two now,
were Macedon and Athens. Consider therefore the
resemblance between the two Philips, of Macedon and
Spain: he of Macedon aspired to the monarchy of
Greece, as he of Spain doth of Europe -, but more ap-
parently than the first, because that design was disco-
vered in his father Charles V. and so left him by de-
scent ; whereas Philip of Macedon was the first of the
kings of that nation which fixed so great conceits in
his breast. The course which this king of Maceo^on
held was not so much by great armies and invasions,
though these wanted not when the case required, but
by practice, by sowing of factions in states, and by
obliging sundry particular persons of greatness. The
state of opposition against his ambitious proceedings
was only the state of Athens, as now is the state of
England against Spain. For Lacedsemon and Thebes
were both low, as France is now ; and the rest of the
states of Greece were, in power and territories, far in-
ferior. The people of Athens were exceedingly affect-
ed to peace, and weary of expence. But the point
which I chiefly make the comparison, was that of the
orators, which were as counsellors to a popular state - 3
such as were sharpest sighted, and looked deepest into
the projects and spreading of the Macedonians, doubt-
ing still that the fire, after it licked up the neighbour-

Observations on a Libel. 77

ing, states, and made itself opportunity to pass, would
at last take hold of the dominions of Athens with so
great advantages, as they should not be able to re-
medy it, were ever charged both by the declarations
of the king of Macedon, and by the imputation of such
Athenians as were corrupted to be of his faction, as the
kindlers of troubles, and disturbers of the peace and
leagues : but as that party was in Athens too mighty,
so as it discountenanced the true counsels of the ora-
tors, and so bred the ruin of that state, and accomplished
the ends of that Philip : so it is to be hoped that in a mo-
narchy, where there are commonly better intelligences
and resolutions than in a popular state, those plots as
they are detected already, so they will be resisted and
made frustrate.

But to follow the libeller in his own course ; the sum
of that which he delivereth concerning the imputation,
as well of the interruption of the amity between the
crowns of England and of Spain, as the disturbance of
the general peace of Christendom unto the English
proceedings, and not to the ambitious appetites of
Spain, may be reduced into three points.

1. Touching the proceeding of Spain and England
towards their neighbouring states.

2. Touching the proceeding of Spain and England
between themselves.

3. Touching the articles and conditions which it
pleaseth him, as it were in the behalf of England,
to pen and propose for the treating and concluding of
an universal peace.

In the first he discovereth how the king of Spain
never offered molestation neither unto the states of
Italy, upon which he confineth by Naples and Milan ;
neither unto the states of: Germany, unto whom he
confincth by a part of Burgundy and the Low Coun-
tries 5 nor unto Portugal, till it was devolved to him
in title, upon which he confineth by Spain ; but con-
trariwise, as one that had in precious regard the peace
of Christendom, he designed from the beginning to
turn his whole forces upon the Turk. Only he con-
fesseth, that agreeable to his devotion, which appre-

78 Observations on a Libel.

bended as well the purging of Christendom from here-
sies, as the enlarging thereof upon the Infidels, he
was ever ready to give succours unto the French kings
against the Pluguenots, especially being their own
subjects : whereas, on the other side, " England, as
" he affirmeth, hath not only sowed troubles and dis-
" sensions in France and Scotland, the one their neigh-
tc bour upon the continent, the other divided only by
* c the narrow seas, but also hath actually invaded
" both kingdoms. For as for the matters of the Low
" Countries, they belong to the dealings which have
" passed by Spain."

In answer whereof, it is worthy the consideration
how it pleased God in that king to cross one passion
by another ; and namely, that passion which might
have proved dangerous unto all Europe, which was
his ambition, by another which was only hurtful to
himself and his own, which was wrath and indigna-
tion towards his subjects of the Netherlands. For after
that he was settled in his kingdom, and freed from
some fear of the Turk, revolving his father's design
in aspiring to the monarchy of Europe, casting his eye
principally upon the two potent kingdoms of France
and England ; and remembering how his father had
once promised unto himself the conquest of the one ;
and how himself by marriage had lately had some pos-
session of the other ; and seeing that diversity of reli-
gion was entered into both these realms ; and that
France was fallen unto princes weak, and in minority ;
and England unto the government of a lady, in whom
he did not expect that policy of government, magna-
nimity, and felicity, which since he hath proved, con-
cluded, as the Spaniards are great waiters upon time,
and ground their plots deep, upon two points ; the one
to profess an extraordinary patronage and defence of
the Roman religion, making account thereby to have
factions in both kingdoms : in England a faction di-
rectly against the state ; in France a faction that did
consent indeed in religion with the king, and there-
fore at first shew, should seem improper to make a
party for a foreigner. But he foresaw well enough

Observations on a Libel. 79

that the king of France should be forced, to the end
to retain peace and .obedience, to yield in some things
to those of the religion, which would undoubtedly alie-
nate the fiery and more violent sort of papists ; which
preparation in the people, added to the ambition of
the family of Guise, which he nourished for an instru-
ment, would -in the end make a party for him against
the state, as since it proved, and might well have
done long before, as may well appear by the mention
of leagues and associations, which is above twenty-
five years old in France.

The other point he concluded upon, was, that his
Low Countries was the aptest place both for ports and
shipping, in respect of England, and for situation in
respect of France, having goodly frontier towns upon
that realm, and joining also upon Germany, whereby
they might receive in at pleasure any forces of Al-
maigns, to annoy and offend either kingdom. The
impediment was the inclination of the people, which,
receiving a wonderful commodity of trades out of both
realms, especially of England ; and having been in
ancient league and confederacy with our nation, and
having been also homagers unto France, he knew
would be in no wise disposed to either war: where-
upon he resolved to reduce them to a martial govern-
ment, like unto that which he had established in Na-
ples and Milan ; upon which suppression of their li-
berties, ensued the defection of those provinces. And
about the same time the reformed religion found en-
trance in the same countries; so as the king, inflamed
with the resistance he found in the first part of his
plots, and also because he might not dispense with his
other principle in yielding to any toleration of religion ;
and withal expecting a shorter work of it than he
found, became passionately bent to reconquer those
countries ; wherein he hath consumed infinite treasure
and forces. And this is the true cause, if a man will
look into it, that hath made the king of Spain so good
a neighbour; namely, that he was so intangled with
the wars of the Low Countries as he could not intend
any. other enterprise, Besides, in enterprising upon

80 Observations on a LibeL

Italy, he doubted first the displeasure of the see of
Rome, with whom he meant to run a course of strait
conjunction ; also he doubted it might invite the Turk
to return. And for Germany, he had a fresh ex; m pie
of his father, who, when he had annexed unto the
dominions which he now possesseth, the empire of
Alrraign, nevertheless sunk in that enterprise ; where-
by he perceived that the nation was of too strong a
composition for him to deal withal : though not long
since, by practice, he could have been contented to
snatch up in the East the country of Embden. For
Portugal, first, the kings thereof were good sons to the
see of Rome ; next, he had no colour of quarrel or
pretence ; thirdly, they were officious unto him : yet
if you will believe the Genoese, who otherwise writeth
much to the honour and advantage of the kings of
Spain, it seemeth he had a good mind to make him-
self a way into that kingdom, seeing that for that pur-
pose, as he reporteth, he did artificially nourish the
young king Sebastian in the voyage of Afric, expect-
ing that overthrow which followed.

As for his intention to war upon the Infidels and
Turks, it maketh me think what Francis Guicciardine,
a wise writer of history, speaketh of his great giand-
father, making a judgment of him as historiographers
use ; " that he did always mask and veil his appetites
" with a demonstration of a devout and holy intention
" to the advancement of the church and the public
<* good." His father also, when he received advertise-
ment of the taking of the French king, prohibited all
ringings, and bonfires, and other tokens of joy ; and
said, those were to be reserved for victories upon in-
fidels : on whom he never meant to war. Many a
cruzado hath the bishop of Rome granted to him and
his predecessors upon that colour, which all have been
spent upon the effusion of Christian blood : and now
this year the levies of Germans, which should have
been made underhand for France, were coloured with
the pretence of war upon the Turk ; which the princes
of Germany descrying, not only broke the levies, but
threatened the commissioners to hang the next that

Observations on a LibeL 8 1

should offer the like abuse : so that this form of dis-
sembling is familiar, and as it were hereditary to the
king of Spain.

,And as for the succours given to the French king
against the Protestants, he could not chuse but ac-
company the pernicious counsels which still he gave to
the French kings, of breaking their edicts, and ad-
mitting of no pacification, but pursuing their subjects
with mortal war, with some offer of aids ; which
having promised, he could not but in some small de-
gree perform ; whereby also the subject of France,
namely the violent Papist, was inured to depend upon
Spain. And so much for the king of Spain's proceed-
ings toward other states.

Now for ours : and first touching the point wherein
he chargeth us to be the authors of troubles in Scot-
land and France ; it will appear to any that have been
well informed of the memoirs of these affairs, that the
troubles of those kingdoms were indeed chiefly kin-
dled by one and the same family of the Guise ; a fa-
mily, as was partly touched before, as particularly
devoted now for many years together to Spain, as the
order of the Jesuits is. This house of Guise having of
late years extraordinarily flourished in the eminent
virtue of a few persons, whose ambition nevertheless
was nothing inferior to their virtue ; but being of a
house, notwithstanding, which the princes of the
blood of France reckoned but as strangers, aspired to
a greatness more than civil and proportionable to their
cause, wheresoever they had authority : and accord-
ingly, under colour of consanguinity and religion, they
brought into Scotland in the year 1559, and in the ab-
sence of tjie king and queen, French forces in great
numbers; whereupon the ancient nobility of that realm,
seeing the imminent danger of reducing that kingdom
under the tyranny of strangers, did pray, according to
the good intelligence between the two crowns, her
majesty's neighbourly forces. And so it is true that
the action being very just and honourable, her ma-
jesty undertook it, expelled the strangers, and restored
the nobility to their degrees, and the state to peace.

VOL. Ill, G

82 Observations on a Libel.

After, when certain noblemen of Scotland of the
same faction of Guise had, during the minority of the
king, possessed themselves of his person, to the end
to abuse his authority many ways ; and namely, to
make a breach between Scotland and England ; her
majesty's forces were again, in the year 1582, by the
king's best and truest servants sought and required :
and with the forces of her majesty prevailed so far, as
to be possessed of the castle of Edinburgh, the prin-
cipal part of that kingdom ; which nevertheless her
majesty incontinently with all honour and sincerity re-
stored, after she had put the king into good and faith-
ful hands : and so, ever since, in all the occasions of
intestine troubles, whereunto that nation hath been
ever subject, she hath performed unto the king all
possible good offices, and such as he doth with all
good affection acknowledge.

The same house of Guise, under colour of alliance,
during the reign of Francis the Second, and by the
support and practice of the queen mother; who, de-
siring to retain the regency under her own hands
during the minority of Charles the Ninth, used those
of Guise as a counterpoise to the princes of the blood,
obtained also great authority in the kingdom of France :
whereupon, having raised and moved civil wars under
pretence of religion, but indeed to enfeeble and de-
press the ancient nobility of that realm - y the contrary
part, being compounded of the blood-royal and the
greatest officers of the crown, opposed themselves
only againt their insolency ; and to their aids called in
her majesty's forces, giving them for security the town
of Newhaven ; which, nevertheless, when as after-
wards, having by the reputation of her majesty's con-
federation made their peace in effect as they would
themselves, they would, without observing any condi-
tions that had passed, have had it back again; then
indeed, it was held by force, and so had been long,
but for the great mortality which it pleased God to
send amongst our men. After which time, so far was
her majesty from seeking to sow or kindle new trou-
bles, as continually, by the solicitation of her ambas*

Observations on a Libel. 83

sadors, she still persuaded the kings, both Charles IX.
and Henry III. to keep and observe their edicts of pa-
cification, and to preserve their authority by the union
of their subjects : which counsel, if it had been as
happily followed as it was prudently and sincerely
given, France had been at this day a most flourishing
kingdom, which is now a theatre of misery : and now
in the end, after that the ambitious practises of the
same house of Guise had grown to that ripeness, that
gathering farther strength upon the weakness and mis-
government of the said king Henry III. he was fain to
execute the duke of Guise without ceremony at Blois.
And yet, nevertheless, so many men were embarked
and engaged in that conspiracy, as the flame thereof
was nothing assuaged ; but, contrariwise, that king
Henry grew distressed, so as he was enforced to im-
plore the succours of England from her majesty,
though no way interested in that quarrel, nor any way
obliged for any good offices she had received of that
king, yet she accorded to the same ; before the arrival
of which forces, the king being by a sacrilegious Jaco-
bine murdered in his camp near Paris, yet they went
on, and came in good time for the assistance of the
king which now reigneth ; the justice of whose quar-
rel, together with the long continued amity and good
intelligence, which her majesty had with him, hath
moved her majesty from time to time to supply with
great aids ; and yet she never, by any demand, urged
upon him the putting into her hands of any town or
place : so as upon this that hath been said let the rea-
der judge, whether hath been the more just and ho-
nourable proceeding, and the more free from ambition
and passion towards other states ; that of Spain, or
that of England. Now let us examine the proceed-
ings reciprocal between themselves.

Her majesty, at her coming to the crown, found her
realm intangled with the wars of France and Scotland,
her nearest neighbours ; which wars were grounded
only upon the Spaniard's quarrel; but in the pursuit
of them had lost to England the town of Calais :
which, from the twenty-first of king Edward III. had

G 2

8 * Observations on a Libel.

been possessed by the kings of England. There was
a meeting near Bourdeaux, towards the end of Queen
Mary's reign, between the commissioners of France,

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 3) → online text (page 7 of 45)