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done per gradus and not per saltum ; for it is the soaking rain and not the tempest that relieveth the ground.
3. My third proposition is that this Parliament may be a little reduced to the more ancient form (for I account it but a form), which was to voice the Parliament to be for some other business of estate, and not merely for money ; but that to come in upon the bye, whatsoever the truth be. And let it not be said that this is but dancing in a net, considering the King's wants have been made so notorious ; for I mean it not in point of dissimulation but in point of majesty and honour; that the people may have somewhat else to talk of and not wholly of the King's estate; and that parliament-men may not wholly be possessed with those thoughts; and that if the King should have occasion to break up his Parliament suddenly, there may be more civil colour to do it. What shall be the causes of estate given forth ad populum ; whether the opening or increase of trade (wherein I meet with the objection of Impositions, but yet I conceive it may be accommodate), or whether the piantation of Ireland, or the reducement and recompiling of laws,-throwing in some bye-matters (as Sutton's estate, or the like)—it may be left to further consideration. But I am settled in this, that somewhat be published besides the money matter; and that in this form there is much advantage.
Lastly, as I wish all princely and kind courses held with his Majesty's Parliament, so nevertheless it is good to take away as much as is possible all occasions to make subjects proud, or to think your Majesty's wants are remediless but only by Parliament. And therefore I could wish it were given out that there are means found in his Majesty's estate to help himself (which I partly think is true), but that, because it is not the work of a day, his Majesty must be beholding to his subjects; but as to facilitate and speed the recovery of himself rather than of an absolute necessity. Also that there be no brigues nor canvasses, whereof I hear too much; for certainly howsoever men may seek to value their service in that kind, it will but increase ani. mosities and oppositions; and besides will make whatsoever shall be done to be in evil conceit amongst your people in general afterwards.
! That is, I suppose, in case the will were evicted. Judgment was finally given in favour of the will on 23rd June, 1613.
Thus have I set down to your Majesty my simple opinion, wherein I make myself believe I see a fair way through the present business, and a dimidium totius to the main. But I submit all to your Majesty's high wisdom, most humbly desiring pardon, and praying the highest to direct you for the best.
Your Majesty's most humble
and true servant,
These papers, though they had been seen by Mr. Hallam and have since been largely commented upon by Mr. Gardiner, have not in my opinion received the attention they deserve, whether as illustrations of Bacon's political career, or as evidence concerning the history of the time. The confidential character of the letter to the King gives it a peculiar value, as containing Bacon's own private and original opinion. What a man writes or speaks concerning matters in which a resolution has already been taken by others or in concert with them, does not necessarily indicate his own personal opinion. He may be only making the best of a course which has been chosen against bis judgment and advice; and there are many passages in Bacon's official and Parliamentary career which are to be read with that qualification. But where a man goes out of his way to offer his opinion in private upon matters which are still under consultation, and that too with a view to influence the decision, there we may be sure we have his own genuine views. There is nothing to restrain bim from recommending exactly what he thinks best. It is worth while therefore to examine this piece of advice a little more closely, that we may be the better prepared to see how far it was attended to, and what were the consequences of neglecting it.
The course recommended by Sir Henry Neville was no doubt much simpler, and if we might assume that the success of it was as certain as he himself took it to be, might justly be preferred. It seems indeed to have been framed for an age of innocence, when people had nothing to do but to be good. Let the King suspend for the present all projects for raising money independently of Parliament; make up his mind to grant to his subjects, as of grace, the things they desire; forbear any speech that may irritate ; seem confident of their affection ; speak graciously to the people during progress; take notice of the principal gentlemen and let them kiss his hand; "give order to the Archbishop to prohibit all books and invective sermons against the Parliament, so as notice may be taken of
his Majesty's commandment before the meeting ;" peruse the grievances last exhibited, see that all promises have been performed, and“ if he would please to be gracious” in any of the others, “ do it of himself before he be pressed :" Having summoned his Parliament to meet at Michaelmas, let him begin by announcing to them such favours and graces as he is ready to bestow, and inviting a deputation to confer with him about their further demands ;' let him “ be gracious to his people in the points proposed, or any other of the like nature which may be thought of by the House when they meet, (for beforehand no man can precisely say these things would be demanded and no other):”—Let him do all this, and Sir Henry Neville is ready to answer for it, that“ in a month or five weeks this point of supplying the King and of his retribution will be easily determined, if it be proposed betimes and followed close afterwards,"_" that his Majesty shall receive as much contentment of this next Parliament as he received distaste of the former, -and that all things will end in that sweet accord that will be both honourable and comfort. able for his Majesty and happy for the whole realm." After which“when his Majesty hath made use of his people's affections to put him out of want, any fit projects that shall be offered may be the boldlier entertained to fill his coffers."2
What could be simpler or more delightful ? But was he quite sure that nothing would be desired by the House of Commons but what the King, before he knew what it was, might safely engage to concede? Because if such a thing should happen, the whole castle would tumble.
Upon this extremely important point, the only satisfaction which Sir H. Neville had to offer was his own conviction that there was no danger. He had lived and conversed intimately with the leaders of the opposition in the last Parliament," knew their inwardest thoughts on that business,” and “ durst undertake for most of them, that the King's Majesty proceeding in a gracious course towards his people should find those gentlemen exceeding willing to do him service, and to give him such contentment as might sweeten all the former distastes, and leave both his Majesty and the world fully satisfied of their good intentions and of the general affection of his subjects.” He could not say exactly what concessions would satisfy them; but
Requiring the House to nominate a competent number of 30 or 40, or fewer, which may repair unto him with their demands, and be authorized both to ask and answer such questions as the debate about them shall beget, without concluding or binding the House in any point, but only to clear things and report all back to the House "-(substituting, in short, conferences with the King for conferences with the Lords).
2. See ' An advice [by Sir Henry Neville] touching the holding of a Parliament.' Printed by Gardiner, ii. p. 389.
he had made“ a collection of such things as had been by several men desired to be obtained of his Majesty for the good of his people,"' and from this it would be seen that they did not aim at anything unjust or unreasonable.
Perhaps not. But though the things asked for up to this time may have been reasonable, and the leaders may (like Neville himself) have been willing to rest there, who could answer for the followers ? Moderate men may continue to lead as long as they continue to ad
But as soon as the party which they have created has learned its strength and the secret of it, their leadership is held thenceforward upon condition of going as far and as fast as their followers want to go. If they stop short, they are run over, and the lead is taken by whoever goes foremost. In this case Neville knew what concessions he was himself prepared to insist on as the conditions of a vote of supply, and knew them (we will suppose) to be just, safe, and expedient. But how could he know that Hoskyns or Wentworth or Chute would not insist upon extorting by the same means some concession which he would think unjust, unsafe, or inexpedient? How could he know that they would not carry a majority of the House with them? If they did, what could he and his friends do to prevent it? And if they could not prevent it, in what case did they leave the King? Of any provision either for encountering an unreasonable opposition or securing in case of repulse an honourable retreat, there is no hint in any part of his paper.
Bacon's advice, though proceeding upon the same grounds and aiming at the same ends (for such a conclusion as Neville promised would have been all he wished for), differs in several points which are material. That a gracious meeting and parting between the King and the Parliament was a thing absolutely necessary ; that no time was to be lost; and that he should proceed towards the Lower House with confidence, as having no doubt of their good affection :so far they agree. But at this point they part.
If the King followed Neville's advice, he would begin at once with an offer of his bills of grace, and an invitation to confer with the Lower House upon their desires and grievances; he would then have the question of supply and retribution proposed at once, and followed closely, so that the whole business might be concluded within a month or five weeks: he would make it in fact ostensibly and merely a money Parliament. If he followed Bacon's, this was the very thing which he would specially avoid. On the contrary, he would endeavour to bring the Parliament back to the ancient form.
Cott. MSS., Tit. F. iv. fo. 11. The memorial which was enclosed with the letter of advice.
He would let it be understood that it was called for the consideration of some great question of State, such as the opening of trade, the colonization of Ireland, or the recompilement of the laws; and say nothing about supply or retribution; but leave such matters to come up by the way. He would have measures in readiness for the contentment and comfort of the people ; but instead of inviting the Lower House to discuss with him their desires and complaints (a sure way of teaching them to extend the list), he would endeavour so to occupy their attention that the collecting and discussing of grievances should be kept back till his own business were well advanced.
Again : If he followed Neville's advice, he would bring the popular demand for concessions and his own demand for supply into such close proximity, that they would inevitably take the form of a bargain, and be weighed one against the other, -value to be bestowed in concessions against value to be received in subsidies. If he followed Bacon's, he would endeavour to avoid all appearance of bargaining in such matters, not merely because to dispute about bargains with his people would entail a loss of majesty in their eyes,--a price at which, even if it had been the readiest way to disembarrass the Exchequer, the disembarrassment would have been dearly purchased,—but because the nature of the reciprocal concessions did not admit of that kind of valuation. To conclude such a bargain as would have made the Crown and the people independent of each other for the future was a thing not to be wished, even if it had been practicable; and to teach them to expect in return for each vote of supply some particular boon from the Crown of corresponding value, was to lead them
away from the consideration of their true function, which was to furnish the government with the means of governing well; so to maintain the Crown that the Crown might maintain the people. For certainly the duties which the King owed to his subjects were not of a nature to be appraised and reduced to a value in money. What they were worth was not what they might be sold for, but what it might cost to get them done. Therefore however it might be desirable to bestow largely upon the people particular boons of pecuniary or other relief, the better to quicken their affection and strengthen their confidence, yet to offer these by way of equivalents for subsidies was utterly wrong and tended to defeat its own purpose.
Again : If the King followed Neville's advice, though he would assume that his people were willing to help him, he would make no secret of the fact that he could not do without their help, and that it rested with them whether they would give it or not. For the price he was to be prepared to give for it was “the being gracious to his