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long continue masked in a counterfeit behavior: the things that are forced for pretences having no ground of truth, cannot long dissemble their own natures." Neither can any man (saith Plutarch) so change himself, but that his heart may be sometimes seen at his tongue's end.
In this great discord and dissimilitude of reasonable creatures, if we direct ourselves to the multitude; "omnis honestae rei malus judex est vulgus": "The common people are evil judges of honest things, and whose wisdom (saith Ecclesiastes) is to be despised": if to the better sort, every understanding hath a peculiar judgment, by which it both censureth other men, and valueth itself. , And therefore unto me it will not seem strange, though I find these my worthless papers torn with rats: seeing the slothful censurers of all ages have not spared to tax the Reverend Fathers of the Church, with ambition; the severest men to themselves, with hypocrisy; the greatest lovers of justice, with popularity; and those of the truest valor and fortitude, with vain-glory. But of these natures which lie in wait to find fault, and to turn good into evil, seeing Solomon complained long since: and that the very age of the world renders it every day after other more malicious; I must leave the professors to their easy ways of reprehension, than which there is nothing of more facility.
To me it belongs in the first part of this Preface, following the common and approved custom of those who have left the memories of time past to after ages, to give, as near as I can, the same right to history which they have done. Yet seeing therein I should but borrow other men's words, I will not trouble the Reader with the repetition. True it is that among many other benefits for which it hath been honored, in this one it triumpheth over all human knowledge, that it hath given us life in our understanding, since the world itself had life and beginning, even to this day: yea, it hath triumphed over time, which besides it nothing but eternity hath triumphed over: for it hath carried our knowledge over the vast and devouring space of many thousands of years, and given so fair and piercing eyes to our mind; that we plainly behold living now (as if we had lived then) that great world, "Magni Dei sapiens opus," "The wise work (saith Hermes) of a great God," as it was then, when but new to itself. By it (I say) it is, that we live in the very time when it was created: we behold how it was governed: how it was covered with waters, and again repeopled: how kings and kingdoms have flourished and fallen, and for what virtue and piety God made prosperous; and for what vice and deformity he made wretched, both the one and the other. And it is not the least debt which we owe unto history, that it hath made us acquainted with our dead ancestors; and, out of the depth and darkness of the earth, delivered us their memory and fame. In a word, we may gather out of history a policy no less wise than eternal; by the comparison and application of other men's fore-passed miseries with our own like errors and ill deservings. But it is neither of examples the most lively instruction, nor the words of the wisest men, nor the terror of future torments, that hath yet so wrought in our blind and stupified minds, as to make us remember, that the infinite eye and wisdom of God doth pierce through all our pretences; as to make us remember, that the justice of God doth require none other accuser than our own consciences: which neither the false beauty of our apparent actions, nor all the formality, which (to pacify the opinions of men) we put on, can in any, or the least kind, cover from his knowledge. And so much did that heathen wisdom confess, no way as yet qualified by the knowledge of a true God. If any (saith Euripides) "having in his life committed wickedness, thinks he can hide it from the everlasting gods, he thinks not well."
To repeat God's judgments in particular, upon those of all degrees, which have played with his mercies would require a volume apart: for the sea of examples hath no bottom. The marks, set on private men, are with their bodies cast into the earth; and their fortunes, written only in the memories of those that lived with them: so as they who succeed, and have not seen the fall of others, do not fear their own faults. God's judgments upon the greater and greatest have been left to posterity; first, by those happy hands which the Holy Ghost hath guided; and secondly, by their virtue, who have gathered the acts and ends of men mighty and remarkable in the world. Now to point far off, and to speak of the conversion of angels into devils; for ambition: or of the greatest and most glorious kings, who have gnawn the grass of the earth with beasts for pride and ingratitude towards God: or of that wise working of Pharaoh, when he slew the infants of Israel, ere they had recovered their cradles: or of the policy of Jezebel, in covering the murder of Naboth by a trial of the Elders, according to the Law, with many thousands of the like: what were it other, than to make an hopeless proof, that far-off examples would not be left to the same far-off respects, as heretofore? For who hath not observed, what labor, practice, peril, bloodshed, and cruelty, the kings and princes of the world have undergone, exercised, taken on them, and committed; to make themselves and their issues masters of the world? And yet hath Babylon, Persia, Syria, Macedon, Carthage, Rome, and the rest, no fruit, no flower, grass, nor leaf, springing upon the face of the earth, of those seeds: no, their very roots and ruins do hardly remain. "Omnia quae manu hominum facta sunt, vel manu hominum evertuntur, vel stando et durando deficiunt": "All that the hand of man can make, is either overturned by the hand of man, or at length by standing and continuing consumed." The reasons of whose ruins, are diversely given by those that ground their opinions on second causes. All kingdoms and states have fallen (say the politicians) by outward and foreign force, or by inward negligence and dissension, or by a third cause arising from both. Others observe, that the greatest have sunk down under their own weight; of which Livy hath a touch: "eo crevit, ut magnitudine laboret sua":4 Others, That the divine providence (which Cratippus objected to Pompey) hath set down the date and period of every estate, before their first foundation and erection. But hereof I will give myself a day over to resolve.
For seeing the first books of the following story, have undertaken the discourse of the first kings and kingdoms: and that it is impossible for the short life of a Preface, to travel after, and overtake far-off antiquity, and to judge of it; I will, for the present, examine what profit hath been gathered by our own Kings, and their neighbour princes: who
* " He increased, with the result that he is oppressed by his greatness." having beheld, both in divine and human letters, the success of infidelity, injustice, and cruelty; have (notwithstanding) planted after the same pattern.
True it is, that the judgments of all men are not agreeable; nor (which is more strange) the affection of any one man stirred up alike with examples of like nature: but every one is touched most, with that which most nearly seemeth to touch his own private, or otherwise best suiteth with his apprehension. But the judgments of God are forever unchangeable: neither is He wearied by the long process of time, and won to give His blessing in one age, to that which He hath cursed in another. Wherefor those that are wise, or whose wisdom if it be not great, yet is true and well grounded, will be able to discern the bitter fruits of irreligious policy, as well among those examples that are found in ages removed far from the present, as in those of latter times. And that it may no less appear by evident proof, than by asseveration, that ill doing hath always been attended with ill success; I will here, by way of preface, run over some examples, which the work ensuing hath not reached.
Among our kings of the Norman race, we have no sooner passed over the violence of the Norman Conquest, than we encounter with a singular and most remarkable example of God's justice, upon the children of Henry the First. For that King, when both by force, craft, and cruelty, he had dispossessed, overreached, and lastly made blind and destroyed his elder brother Robert Duke of Normandy, to make his own sons lords of this land: God cast them all, male and female, nephews and nieces (Maud excepted) into the bottom of the sea, with above a hundred and fifty others that attended them; whereof a great many were noble and of the King dearly beloved.
To pass over the rest, till we come to Edward the Second; it is certain, that after the murder of that King, the issue of blood then made, though it had some times of stay and stopping, did again break out, and that so often and in such abundance, as all our princes of the masculine race (very few excepted) died of the same disease. And although the young years of Edward the Third made his knowledge of that horrible fact no more than suspicious; yet in that he afterwards caused his own uncle, the Earl of Kent, to die, for no other offence than the desire of his brother's redemption, whom the Earl as then supposed to be living; the King making that to be treated in his uncle, which was indeed treason in himself, (had his uncle's intelligence been true) this I say made it manifest, that he was not ignorant of what had past, nor greatly desirous to have had it otherwise, though he caused Mortimer to die for the same.
This cruelty the secret and unsearchable judgment of God revenged on the grandchild of Edward the Third: and so it fell out, even to the last of that line, that in the second or third descent they were all buried under the ruins of those buildings, of which the mortar had been tempered with innocent blood. For Richard the Second, who saw both his Treasurers, his Chancellor, and his Steward, with divers others of his counsellors, some of them slaughtered by the people, others in his absence executed by his enemies, yet he always took himself for over-wise to be taught by examples. The Earls of Huntingdon and Kent, Montagu and Spencer, who thought themselves as great politicians in those days as others have done in these: hoping to please the King, and to secure themselves, by the murder of Gloucester; died soon after, with many other their adherents, by the like violent hands; and far more shamefully than did that duke. And as for the King himself (who in regard of many deeds, unworthy of his greatness, cannot be excused, as the disavowing himself by breach of faith, charters, pardons, and patents) : he was in the prime of his youth deposed, and murdered by his cousin-german and vassal, Henry of Lancaster, afterwards Henry the Fourth.
This King, whose title was weak, and his obtaining the Crown traitorous; who brake faith with the lords at his landing, protesting to intend only the recovery of his proper inheritance, brake faith with Richard himself; and brake faith with all the kingdom in Parliament, to whom he swore that the deposed King should live. After that he had enjoyed this realm some few years, and in that time had been set upon all sides by his subjects, and never free from con