« AnteriorContinuar »
TO THE QUEEN.*
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,
It were great simplicity in me to look for better than that your majesty should cast away my letter as you have done me; were it not that it is possible your majesty will think to find somewhat in it, whereupon your displeasure may take hold; and so indignation may obtain that of you which favour could not. Neither might I in reason presume to offer unto your majesty dead lines, myself being excluded as I am; were it not upon this only argument or subject; namely, to clear myself in point of duty. Duty, though my state lie buried in the sands, and my favours be cast upon the waters, and my honours be committed to the wind; yet standeth surely built upon the rock, and hath been, and ever shall be unforced and unattempted. And, therefore, since the world out of error, and your majesty I fear out of art is pleased to put upon me; that I have so much as any election or will in this my absence from attendance; I cannot but leave this protestation with your majesty; That I am and have been merely a patient, and take myself only to obey and execute your majesty's will. And, indeed, madam, I had never thought it possible that your majesty could have so disinterested yourself of me; nor that you had been so perfect in the art of forgetting; nor that after a quintessence of wormwood, your majesty would have taken so large a draught of poppy; as to have passed so many summers without all feeling of my sufferings. But the only comfort I have is this, that I know your majesty taketh delight and contentment in executing this disgrace upon me. And, since your majesty can find no other use of ine, I am glad yet I can serve for that. Thus making my most humble petition to your majesty, that in justice (howsoever you may by strangeness untie, or by violence cut asunder all other knots) your majesty would not touch me in that which is indissoluble; that is, point of duty: and that your majesty will pardon this my unwarranted presumption of writing, being to such an end: I cease in all humbleness;
Your majesty's poor, and never
TO MY LORD OF ESSEX.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR LORDSHIP, That your lordship is in "statu quo prius," no man taketh greater gladness than I do; the rather, because I assure myself that of your eclipses, as this hath been the longest, it shall be the least; as the comical poet saith, "neque illam tu satis noveras, neque te illa, hoc ubi fit, ibi non vivitur." For, if I may be so bold as to say what I think, I
*Written by Mr. Bacon for my Lord of Essex.
believe your lordship looked to have found her majesty in all points as you have done; neither her majesty, percase, looked to have found your lordship as she hath done. And, therefore, I hope upon this experience may grow more perfect knowledge, and upon knowledge more true consent; which I, for my part, do infinitely wish, as accounting these accidents to be like the fish, remora, which, though it be not great, yet hath it a hidden property to hinder the sailing of the ship. And, therefore, as bearing unto your lordship, after her majesty, of all public persons the second duty, I could not but signify unto you my affectionate gratulation. And so I commend your good lordship to the best preservation of the Divine Majesty. From Gray's Inn.
TO SIR ROBERT CECIL.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR GOOD HONOUR,
I am apt enough to condemn "mendacia famæ," yet it is with this distinction, as fame walks among inferiors, and not as it hath entrance into some ears. And, yet, nevertheless, in that kind also, I intend to avoid a suspicious silence, but not to make any base apology. It is blown about the town that I should give opinion touching my Lord of Essex's cause; first, that it was a premunire; and now last, that it reached to high treason. And this opinion should be given in opposition to the opinion of the lord chief justice, and of Mr. Attorney-General. Sir, I thank God, whatsoever opinion my head serveth me to deliver to her majesty, being asked, my heart serveth me to maintain; the same honest duty directing me and assisting me. this report God and the queen can witness; and the improbability of it every man that hath wit, more or less, can conceive. The root of this I discern to be not so much a light and humorous envy at my accesses to her majesty, (which of her majesty's grace being begun in my first years, I would be sorry she should estrange in my last years, for so I account them, reckoning by health, not by age;) as a deep malice to your honourable self; upon whom, by me, through nearness, they think to make some aspersion. But, as I know no remedy against libels and lies, so I hope it shall make no manner of disseverance of your honourable good conceits and affection towards me; which is the thing I confess to fear. For, as for any violence to be offered to me, wherewith my friends tell me, to no small terror, that I am threatened, I thank God I have the privy coat of a good conscience; and have a good while since put off any fearful care of life, or the accidents of life. So, desiring to be preserved in your good opinion, I remain.
But the utter untruth of
TO THE QUEEN.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
TO THE QUEEN.
entrance into some ears. For your lordship's
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR most excellent MAJESTY, I most humbly entreat your majesty not to impute my absence to any weakness of mind or unworthiness. But I assure your majesty I do find envy beating so strongly upon me, standing as I do, (if this be to stand,) as it were not strength of mind, but stupidity, if I should not decline the occasions, except I could do your majesty more service than I can any ways discern that I am able to do. My course towards your majesty (God is my witness) hath been pure and unleavened; and never poor gentleman (as I am persuaded) had a deeper and truer desire and care of your glory, your safety, your repose of mind, your service; wherein if I have exceeded my outward vocation, I most humbly crave your majesty's pardon for my presumption. On the other side, if I have come short of my inward vocation, I most humbly crave God's pardon for quenching the spirit. But in this mind I find such solitude, and want of comfort, which I judge to be because I take duty too exactly, and not according to the dregs of this age, wherein the old anthem might never be more truly sung; "Totus mundus in maligno positus est." My life hath been threatened, and my name libelled, which I count an honour; but these are the practices of those whose despairs are dangerous, but yet not so dangerous as their hopes; or else the devices of some that would put out all your majesty's lights, and fall on reckoning how many years you have reigned, which I beseech our blessed Saviour may be THE EARL OF ESSEX'S LETTER TO THE COUNCIL, doubled and that I may never live to see any eclipse of your glory, interruption of safety, or indisposition of your person, which I commend to the Divine Majesty, who keep you and fortify you.
TO MY LORD HEN. HOWARD.
MY LORD, There be very few besides yourself to whom I would perform this respect; for I contemn "mendacia famæ," as it walks among inferiors; though I neglect it not, as it may have
AT HIS EMBARKING FOR SPAIN. JUNE, 1596.
My Very good Lords,
Having taken order for all things that belong to our land forces, and staying only till the ships be ready to take in our soldiers, I am come aboard, as well to draw other men by my example to leave the shore, as to have time and leisure to ask account of myself what other duty I have to do, besides the governing of those troops, and the using of them to good purpose. In which meditation, as I first study to please my most gracious sovereign, as well as to serve her; so my next
care is, to leave your lordships well satisfied of my past carriage since I was nominated to this service; and apt to make favourable construction of what I shall do hereafter.
In my past carriage I will neither plead merit nor excuse imperfections: for whatsoever I shall be able to do, I know, is less than I owe; and besides my faults, my very faith and zeal (which are the best things in me) do make me commit errors. But I would fain approve the matter itself of undertaking this service to have been good, howsoever my former have been erroneous; or at least, my intent and ends unblameable, though my judgment were faulty. Your lordships know it hath been the wisdom of all times rather to attempt and do something in another country than to attend an enemy, and be in danger much in our own. And if this rule among the ancients was generally held true, it might be better allowed of us in particular cases, where a state little in territory, not extraordinary rich, and defended only with itself, shall have to do with another state that hath many and ample dominions, the treasure of the Indies, and all the mercenaries of Christendom to serve it. For we have, as the Athenians had with the ancient usurping Philip; "prælium facile, bellum difficile." Therefore, it is our disadvantage to draw the war into length. And if any man in this kingdom should be allowed to persuade to prevention, he might be one that saw the Spaniard at home apprehend an invasion with greater terror than he makes it abroad: and that was a witness how a handful of men, neither armed, victualled, nor ordered as they should be, landed, marched, and had done what they listed, if either the ships had come up, or they had any provisions to make a hole in a wall or to break open a gate. But though the counsel be good for some states, and for ours at some times, yet the opportunities ought to be watched, and it must appear that this it is which is now taken. The opportunity for such service I take to be when either the enemy may receive the most hurt, or when he is likeliest to attempt against us, if he be not impeached. The hurt that our estate should seek to do him is, to intercept his treasure, whereby we shall cut his sinews, and make war upon him with his own money; and to beat, or at least discontinue him from the sea, whereby her majesty shall be both secured from his invasions, and become mistress of the sea; which is the greatness that the queen of an island should most aspire unto. In matter of profit we may this journey most hurt him, and benefit ourselves; since he hath (as is agreed on by all men) more caracks to come home now than ever any year before. Besides many good advantages which shall be offered if we command the coast. And to give him a blow, and discountenance him by sea, now is the time, when he hath declared his mbition to command the seas; and yet, so VOL. III.-8
divided his fleets: some appointed to be set out, and yet scant in readiness; others upon point of coming home, and not fit to defend themselves, if either they be met at sea, or found in harbour; and all so dispersed in several places, as if at any time we might do good that way, it is now. And whether he will make war upon us, if we let him alone: let his solicitations, offers, and gifts to the rebels of Ireland; his besieging and winning of Calais, and those parts of France that front upon us; and his strengthening himself by sea by so many means; let these things (I say) tell us. So, as if we will at any time allow the counsel of prevention to be reasonable, we must now confess it to be opportune. But whatsoever the counsel were, I am not to be charged with it. For as I was not the contriver, nor offerer of the project, so if I had refused to join with him (that did invite me to it,) I should have been thought both incompatible and backward in her majesty's service. I say not this, for that I think the action such as it were disadvantage to be thought the projector of it; but I say, and say truly, that my lord admiral devised it, presented it to her majesty, and had as well the approbation of her majesty and the assent of such of your lordships as were acquainted with it, as my promise to go with him. One thing (I confess) I above all men am to be charged withal: that is, that when her majesty's, the city of London's, and the states of the Low Countries' charge was past, the men levied and marching to the rendezvous; I could not see how with her majesty's honour and safety the journey might be broken. Wherein, although I should be carried with passion, yet I pray your lordships consider who almost that had been in my case named to such an action, voiced throughout Christendom, and engaged in it as much as I was worth; and being the instrument of drawing more voluntary men of their own charge than ever was seen these many years: who (I say) would not have been so affected? But far be it from me, in any action of this importance to weigh myself or my particular fortunes. I must beseech your lordships to remember that I was from time to time warranted by all your opinions, delivered both amongst yourselves and to her majesty: which tieth you all to allow the counsel. And that being granted, your lordships will call that zeal, which maketh a man constant in a good counsel, that would be passion in an evil, or a doubtful. I confess, her majesty offered us recompense for all our charges and losses. But (my lords) I pray your lordships consider how many things I should have sold at once for money? I will leave mine own reputa tion as too small a matter to be mentioned. But I should have sold the honour of her majesty, the safety of the state, the contentment of her con federates, the fortune and hope of many of my poor countrymen, and the possibility of giving a
blow to that enemy that ought ever to be hateful wars is peace, so she might have had peace when to all true English hearts. I should have sold she would, and with what conditions she would, all this for private profit; therefore, though I ask and have included or left out whom she would. pardon of her majesty, and pray your lordships For, she only, by this course, should force hi to mediate it for me, that I was carried by this to wish for peace, and she had the means in her zeal so fast that I forgot those reverend forms hands to make the conditions: and as easy it had which I should have used, yet I had rather have been to have done this as to have performed my heart out of my body than this zeal out of my lesser services. The objections against this will heart. And now, as I have laid before your be hazard and charge. Hazard, to hold any lordships my past carriage, and entering into this thing of his that is so mighty a king: and action, so I beseech your lordships give me leave charge, to send such supplies from time to time to prepare you to a favourable construction of as will be needful. For hazard, it is not the that which I shall do hereafter; in which suit I hazard of the state or the whole, as are the am resolved neither to plead the hazarding of hazards of a defensive war, whensoever we are life, nor spending of my substance in a public enforced to fight, but it is only a hazard of some service; to the end that I might find your lord- few, and such commanders, as shall be set out ships (who are public persons) more favourable for such a service. And those also that shall be judges: but will confess, that I receive so much so hazarded, shall be in less danger than if they favour and honour by this trust and employment, were put into any frontier places of France, as, when I have done all I can, I shall still be or of the Low Countries, for they should not be behindhand. This suit only I make, that your left in any part of the main or continent of Spain lordships will neither have too great an expecta- or Portugal, where the enemy might bring an tion of our actions, nor too little, lest all we do army to attempt them; (though I doubt not but seem either nothing, or to be done by chance. I after he had once tried what it were to besiege know we must be tied to do more than shall be two or three thousand English, in a place well for her majesty's service, nor no less; in which fortified, and where they had a port open, he straight way, though it be hard for so weak a would grow quickly weary of those attempts;) man as myself to walk upright, yet the example but they should be so lodged as the seat and of our raw soldiers may comfort an insufficient strength of the place should warrant their safety, general; for they, till they grow perfect in all so that to pull her majesty's men out of it should their orders and motions, are so afraid to be out, be a harder task than to conquer any country that and with such a continual heedfulness, observe stands on firm land by him: and to let English both themselves and those that are near them, quietly possess it, should so much prejudice him, that they do keep almost as good order at the first as he were not able to endure it. And, for as ever after. I am sure I am as distrustful of charge, there need not so much be expended but myself as they, and because I have more sense that it might easily be borne. And the place of duty, I shall be more industrious. For sea- being well chosen, and the war well conducted, service, the judgment of my honourable compa- in a short time there would not only arise nion shall be my compass; and for land, his enough to pay the charge, but the great profit to assent, and the advice of those her majesty hath her majesty, and wealth to our country would named as counsellors at war shall be my war- grow from the place that should be held, for in a ranties. It will be honour to her majesty, and a short time a great part of the golden Indian great assurance to her state, if we either bring stream might be turned from Spain to England, home wealth or give the King of Spain a blow by and her majesty be made to give law to all the sea. But to have made a continual diversion, world by sea without her charge. Besides, this and to have left, as it were, a thorn sticking fearful enemy, which is now a terror to all Chrisin his foot, had been a work worthy of such a tendom, should be so weakened in strength, requeen, and of such a preparation. For then her putation, and purse, as her majesty should forever majesty should have heard no more of his inten- after have an easy enemy of him. It may be, tions for Ireland, and attempts upon the coast of your lordships will desire to know the place France, or his drawing of ships or galleys into that should be attempted; the means, first to take these narrow seas, but should at once have deliver- it, then to hold it; the commodity or advantage ed all Christendom from his fearful usurpation. that might grow to this estate by it, but that Wherein, as she had been great in fame for such with your lordships' leave shall be reserved till a general preservation, so she had been as great iny next. This is only to beseech you, for our in power in making all the enemies of Spain in dear sovereign's sake, for the glory and welfare Christendom to depend upon her. She should of her, and her estate, that you will think upon be head of the party; she only might be said to this general proposition; and if your lordships make the wars with Spain, because she made find it reasonable, that you will move it to the them to purpose, and they all but as her assistants queen; by whom if I be commanded to set down and dependants. And, lastly, as the end of the the hypothesis, or to descend unto particulars, I
will offer my project with this condition, that if I advise any thing that the council of war shall think dangerous, it may be rejected; or if myself be actor in any thing belonging to this project, wherein her majesty receives dishonour, that I may answer it with my life. And yet your lordships know I am matched with those in whom I have no particular interest; but I must attribute their assenting to me, to my good hap, to take the better part. In my lord with whom I joined, I find so much honour and service, as I doubt not but our unity in affection will make a unity in council, action, and government. I have troubled your lordships with a tedious letter, begun in a day of leisure, and finished in the midst of our troublesome business. I pray your lordships pardon the errors in it, and keep so honourable opinion of me as I be not condemned by you upon any complaints, advertisements, or reports, till I have given answer to them. For as the nature of my place is subject to envy and detraction, so a little body full of sharp humours is hardest kept in temper; and all the discontented humours of an army do make their greatest quarrel to him that commands the army, not so much for his faults as for because he bridles their's. And so commending your good lordships to God's divine protection, I rest
At your lordships' commandment,
TO MY LORD OF ESSEX, FROM MR. BACON. MY SINGULAR GOOD LORD,
I will no longer dissever part of that, which I meant to have said to your lordship at Barnhelmes, from the exordium, which I then made. Whereunto I will only add this; that I humbly desire your lordship before you give access to my poor advice, to look about, even jealously a little, if you will, and to consider: First, whether I have not reason to think that your fortune comprehendeth mine: Next, whether I shift my counsel and do not "constare mihi ;" for I am persuaded there are some would give you the same counsel now, which I shall, but that they should derogate from that which they have said heretofore: Thirdly, whether you have taken hurt at any time by my careful and devoted counsel. For although I remember well your lordship once told me that you having submitted upon my well-meant motion at Nonsuch, (the place where you renewed a treaty with her majesty of obsequious kindness,) she had taken advantage of it; yet I suppose you do since believe, that it did much attemper a cold malignant humour then growing upon her majesty toward your lordship, and hath done you good in consequence. And for being against it, now lately, that you should not estrange yourself, although I give place to none in true gratulation,
yet neither do I repent me of safe counsel; neither do I judge of the whole play by the first act. But whether I counsel you the best, or for the best, duty bindeth me to offer to you my wishes. I said to your lordship last time; "Martha, Martha, attendis ad plurima, unum sufficit." Win the queen; if this be not the beginning, of any other course I see no end. And I will not now speak of favour of affection, but of other correspondence and agreeableness, which, whensoever it shall be conjoined with the other of affection, I durst wager my life (let them make what prosopopaus they will of her majesty's nature) that in you she will come to the question of "quid fiet homini, quem rex vult honorare?" But how is it now? A man of a nature not to be ruled, that hath the advantage of my affection and knoweth it, of an estate not grounded to his greatness, of a popular reputation, of a military dependence: I demand whether there can be a more dangerous image than this represented to any monarch living, much more to a lady, and of her majesty's apprehension? And is it not more evident than demonstration itself, that whilst this impression continueth in her majesty's breast, you can find no other condition than inventions to keep your estate bare and low; crossing and disgracing your actions, extenuating and blasting of your merit, carping with contempt at your nature and fashions; breeding, nourishing, and fortifying such instruments as are most factious against you, repulses and scorns of your friends and dependants that are true and steadfast, winning and inveigling away from you such as are flexible and wavering, thrusting you into odious employments and offices to supplant your reputation, abusing you, and feeding you with dalliances and demonstrations, to divert you from descending into the serious consideration of your own case; yea, and percase venturing you in perilous and desperate enterprises. Herein it may please your lordship to understand me; for I mean nothing less than that these things should be plotted and intended as in her majesty's royal mind towards you; I know the excellency of her nature too well. But I say, wheresoever the formerly described impression is taken in any king's breast towards a subject, these other recited inconveniences must of necessity of politic consequences follow; in respect of such instruments as are never failing about princes, which spy into their humours and conceits, and second them; and not only second them, but in seconding increase them; yea, and many times without their knowledge pursue them further than themselves would. Your lordship will ask the question wherewith the Athenians were wont to interri pt their orators when they exaggerated their dangers; "quid igitur agendum est ?"
I will tell your lordship, "quæ mihi nunc in mentum veniunt;" supposing, nevertheless, that yourself, out of your own wisdom upon the case