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The first proposition is touching the disproportion of the price between gold and silver, which is now brought to be upon the point of fourteen to one, being before but twelve to one. This we take to be an evident cause of scarcity of silver at the Mint, but such a cause as will hardly receive a remedy; for either your Lordships must draw down again the price of gold, or advance the price of silver: whereof the one is a going back from that which is so lately done, and whereof you have found good effect, and the other is a thing of dangerous consequence in respect of the loss to all moneyed men in their debts, gentlemen in their rents, the king in his customs, and the common subject in raising the price of things vendible. And upon this point it is fit we give your Lordships understanding what the merchants intimated unto us, that the very voicing or suspect of the raising of the price of silver, if it be not cleared, would make such a deadness and retention of money this vacation, as (to use their own words) will be a misery to the merchants: so that we were forced to use protestation that there was no such intent.1
The second proposition is touching the charge of coinage; wherein it was confidently avouched by the merchants, that if the coinage were brought from two shillings unto eighteen pence, as it was in Queen Elizabeth's time, the King should gain more in the quantity than he should lose in the price: and they aided themselves with that argument, that the King had been pleased to abate his coinage in the other metal, and found good of it: which argument, though it doth admit a difference, because that abatement was coupled with the raising of the price, whereas this is to go alone, yet nevertheless it seemed the officers of the Mint were not unwilling to give way to some abatement, although they presumed it would be of small effect, because that abatement would not be equivalent to that price which Spanish silver bears with the goldsmith; but yet it may be used as an experiment of state, being revocable at his Majesty's pleasure.
1 This had not been overlooked in the previous proclamation. "And yet that it may not be conceived that we would make the remedy larger than the inconvenience, we would be thus clearly understood, that we have absolutely concluded with good advice and deliberation not to make any manner of alteration in the price or otherwise of our silver, with which all trades and payments are so much driven and made, as the raising the price thereof would give both colour and cause to raise the price of all commodities and things vendible, which we seek by all means to avoid." Book of Proclamations,' p. 251.
The third proposition is concerning the exportation of silver more than in former times, wherein we fell first upon the trade into the East Indies; concerning which it was materially in our opinions answered by the merchants of that company, that the silver which supplies that trade, being generally Spanish moneys, would not be brought in but for that trade, so that it sucks in as well as it draws forth. And it was added likewise, that as long as the Low Countries maintained that trade in the Indies, it would help little though our trade were dissolved, because that silver which is exported immediately by us to the Indies would be drawn out of this kingdom for the Indies mediately by the Dutch and for the silver exported to the Levant, it was thought to be no great matter. As for other exportation, we saw no remedy but the execution of the laws, specially those of employment being by some mitigation made agreeable to the times. And these three remedies are of that nature, as they serve to remove the causes of this scarcity. There were other propositions of policies and means directly to draw silver to the Mint.
The fourth point thereof was this: It is agreed that the silver which hath heretofore fed the Mint principally hath been Spanish money. This now comes into the realm plentifully, but not into the Mint. It was propounded, in imitation of some precedent in France, that his Majesty would by proclamation restrain the coming in of this money sub modo, that is, that either it be brought to the Mint or otherwise to be cut and defaced, because that now it passeth in payments in a kind of currency. To which it was colourably objected, that this would be the way to have none brought in at all, because the gain ceasing the importation would cease; but this objection was well answered, that it is not gain altogether, but a necessity of speedy payment, that causeth the merchant to bring in silver to keep his credit and to drive his trade: so that if the King keep his fourteen days payment at the Mint, as he always hath done, and have likewise his exchangers for those moneys in some principal ports, it is supposed that all Spanish moneys, which is the bulk of silver brought into this realm, would by means of such a proclamation come into the Mint; which may be a thing considerable.
The fifth proposition was this: It was warranted by the laws of Spain to bring in silver for corn or victuals; it was propounded
that his Majesty would restrain exportation of corn sub modo, except they bring the silver which resulteth thereof unto his Mint; that trade being commonly so beneficial, as the merchant may well endure the bringing of the silver to the Mint, although it were at the charge of coinage, which it now beareth. Further as incident to this matter, there was revived by the merchants, with some instance, the ancient proposition concerning the erection of granaries for foreign corn, forasmuch as by that increase of trade in corn the importation of silver would likewise be multiplied.
The sixth proposition was that upon all licences of forbidden commodities there shall be a rate set of silver to be brought into the Mint: which nevertheless may seem somewhat hard, because it imposeth upon the subject that which causeth him to incur peril of confiscation in foreign parts. To trouble your Lordships further with discourses which we had of making foreign coins current, and of varying the King's standard to wait upon the variations in other states, and repressing surfeit of foreign commodities, that our native commodities surmounting the foreign may draw in treasure by way of overplus; they be common places so well known to your Lordships, as it is enough to mention them only.
There is only one thing more, which is, to put your Lordships in mind of the extreme excess in the wasting of both metals, both of gold and silver foliate, which turns the nature of these metals, which ought to be perdurable, and makes them perishable, and by consumption must be a principal cause of scarcity in them both; which we conceive may receive a speedy remedy by his Majesty's proclamation.
Lastly, we are humble suitors to your Lordships, that for any of these propositions that your Lordships should think fit to entertain in consultation, your Lordships would be pleased to hear them debated before yourselves, as being matters of greater weight than we are able to judge of. And so craving your Lordships' pardon for troubling you so long, we commend your Lordships to God's goodness.
About this time Salisbury's health began to fail. His death,
1 Treasury in MS., the body of which shows no traces of Bacon's hand.
which took place shortly after, made a considerable change in Bacon's position by bringing him into freer and more frequent personal communication with the King, and his correspondence becomes thenceforth more continuous and valuable. To avoid unnecessary interruptions in setting it forth, it will be convenient to make a place here for two or three papers to which I cannot assign an exact date, and which do not require to be read in connexion with the particular business of the time.
The first is addressed to the Lord Mayor, and relates to some private cause in which Bacon had been engaged as a professional adviser. But I have not been able to find any further particulars bearing upon it, and must therefore leave it to tell its own story. It comes from his own collection.
A LETTER TO MY LORD MAYOR UPON A PROCEEDING IN A
My very good Lord,
I did little expect, when I left you last, that there would have been a proceeding against Mr. Bernard to his overthrow: wherein I must confess myself to be in a sort accessary ; because he relying upon me for counsel, I advised that course which he followed. Wherein now I begin to question myself, whether in preserving my respects unto your Lordship and the rest, I have not failed in the duty of my profession towards my client. For certainly if the words had been heinous, and spoken in a malicious fashion, and in some public place, and well proved, and not a prattle in a tavern, caught hold of by one who (as I hear) is a detected sycophant (Standish, I mean), I know not what could have been done more than to impose upon him a grievous fine, and to require the levying of the same, and to take away his means of life by his disfranchisement, and to commit him to a defamed prison during Christmas, in honour whereof the prisoners in other courts do commonly of grace obtain some enlargement. This rigour of proceeding (to tell your Lordship and the rest, as my good friends, my opinion plainly) tendeth not to strengthen authority, which is best supported by love and fear intermixed, but rather to make people discontented and servile; especially when such punishment is inflicted for words, not by rule of law, but by a jurisdiction of discretion, which would evermore be moderately used. And I pray God,
1 Addl. MSS. 5503, fo. 42.
whereas Master Recorder, when I was with you, did well and wisely put you in mind of the admonition you often received from my Lords, that you should bridle unruly tongues, that those kind of speeches and rumours whereunto those admonitions do refer (which are concerning the State and [the] honour thereof) do not pass too licentiously in the city unpunished, while these words which concern your particular are so straitly enquired into and punished with such extremity. But these things your own wisdoms (first or last) will best represent to you. My writing unto you at this time is to the end, that howsoever I do take it somewhat unkindly that my mediation prevailed no more, yet I might preserve that further respect that I am willing to use unto such a state, in delivering my opinion unto you freely, before I would be of counsel, or move any thing that should cross your proceedings; which notwithstanding (in case my client can receive no relief at your hands) I must and will do; continuing nevertheless in other things my wonted good affections to yourselves and your occasions.
The next is an ordinary letter of recommendation, addressed to the Masters of the Requests in favour of one who had a suit in their Court. It has been preserved by some accident among the State Papers, and being signed by Bacon must find a place somewhere; though I am not aware that it throws any light upon anything, unless it be the fashion of the times in such matters.
TO MY HONOURABLE FRIENDS, THE MASTERS OF HIS MAJESTY'S COURT OF REQUESTS, THESE, ETC.1
After my hearty commendations. At the request of this bearer Mr. Edwin Cottwin an ancient follower and well-willer to my name and family, I have considered of a suit of his depending before you for the recovery of certain rents due unto him for divers years past, and detained from him only upon a strained construction of extreme law. And finding the honesty of the man and the equity of his cause to deserve favour, considering that the main matter (which is the sum in demand) is freely acknowledged, I could do no less than recommend him
1 S. P. Dom. James I., A.D. 1610. Original, but not in Bacon's own hand as far as resting.'