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OF THE

TRUE GREATNESS OF BRITAIN.

PREFACE.

When the King of Scotland became King of England, with prospect of a line of successors to whom both crowns would naturally descend, the time had come for effecting such a union between the two countries that they should become as one, and never again be provoked to separate. It was an object in which both were equally interested. In such a union Bacon saw the removal of the one blot in the tables of England. Unassailable thenceforward except by sea, of which she was mistress, and prolific of a breed of men whose natural strength and courage made them a match for any, her natural advantages would be then complete. In advising the House of Commons to begin at once, as the first step towards a perfect union, by naturalising the whole Scotch nation, he concluded (after reviewing the objections and comparing the inconveniences on one side and on the other) by referring to the two great benefits which would be gained by thus “knitting the knot surer and straiter between the two kingdoms by the communication of naturalisation." Those benefits were Surety, and Greatness : Surety, because it would take away from foreign enemies their means of approach :

“ And for Greatness, Mr. Speaker, I think a man may speak it soberly and without bravery, that this kingdom of England, having Scotland united, Ireland reduced, the sea provinces of the Low Countries contracted, and shipping maintained, is one of the greatest monarchies, in forces truly esteemed, that hath been in the world. For certainly the kingdoms here on earth have a resemblance with the kingdom of Heaven; which our Saviour compareth, not to any great kernel or nut, but to a very small grain, yet such an one as is apt to grow and spread; and such do I take to be the constitution of this kingdom ; if indeed we shall refer our counsels to greatness and power, and not quench them too much with the consideration of utility and wealth. For, Mr. Speaker, was it not, think you, a true answer that Solon of Greece made to the rich King Cræsus of Lydia, when he showed unto him a great quantity of gold that he had gathered together, in ostentation of his greatness and might? But Solon said to him, contrary to his expectation, Why, Sir, if another come that hath better iron than you, he will be lord of all your gold. Neither is the opinion of Machiavel to be despised, who scorneth that proverb of state, taken first from a speech of Mucianus, that monies are the sinews of war; and saith • There are no true sinews of war, but the very sinews of the arms of valiant men.'

Nay more, Mr. Speaker, whosoever shall look into the seminaries and beginnings of the monarchies of the world, he shall find them founded in poverty And therefore, if I shall speak unto you mine own heart, methinks we should a little disdain that the nation of Spain, which however of late it hath grown to rule, yet of ancient time served many ages, first under Carthage, then under Rome, after under Saracens,

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Goths, and others, should of late years take unto themselves that spirit as to dream of a monarchy in the west, according to that device, Video solem orientem in occidente, only because they have ravished from some wild and unarmed people mines and store of gold; and on the other side that this island of Britain, seated and manned as it is, and that hath I make no question the best iron in the world, that is, the best soldiers in the world, shall think of nothing but reckonings and audits, and meum and tuum, and I cannot tell what.”

So spoke Bacon on the 17th of February 1606-7; and the train of thought into which his argument had thus led him was probably the origin of the fragment which follows. As in the case of the preceding dialogue, his motive for taking up the subject, and for laying it by also, may be explained by reference to the political condition of England at the time. The relief from external enemies which followed the accession of James I. left internal discontents more freedom to ferment; and the natural progress of things was introducing a change in the relations between the Crown and the people, which was hard to adjust, and threatened much mischief in the process. Formerly the patrimony of the Crown was sufficient in ordinary times to carry on the government without assistance from Parliament. It was only on extraordinary occasions, as of war or rebellion, that subsidies were indispensable. But the patrimony of the Crown did not increase in proportion to the increasing requirements of a country growing in numbers, extent, and importance in the world. All Elizabeth's frugality, coupled with all her art in inspiring zeal to serve her, and aided by many questionable expedients in the shape of pat

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