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Therefore the best effect of hospitals is to make the kingdom. if it were possible capable of that law, that there be no beggar in Israel: for it is that kind of people that is a burthen, an eye sore, a scandal, and a seed of peril and tumult in a state. But chiefly it were to be wished such a beneficence towards the relief of poor were so bestowed, as not only the mere and naked poor should be sustained, but also that the honest person which hath hard means to live, upon whom the poor are now charged, should be in some sort eased: for that were a work generally acceptable to the kingdom, if the public hand of alms might spare the private hand of tax: and therefore of all other employments of that kind I commend most houses of relief and correction which are mixt hospitals, where the impotent person is relieved, and the sturdy beggar buckled to work, and the unable person also not maintained to be idle, which is ever joined with drunkenness and impurity, but is sorted with such work as he can manage and perform, and where the uses are not distinguished, as in other hospitals, whereof some are for aged and impotent, and some for children, and some for correction of vagabonds, but are general and promiscuous, that may take off poor of every sort from the country as the country breeds them. And thus the poor themselves shall find the provision, and other good people the sweetness of the abatement of the tax. Now if it be objected that houses of correction in all places have not done the good expected (as it cannot be denied but in most places they have done much good), it must be remembered that there is a great difference between that which is done by the distracted government of justices of peace, and that which may be done by a settled ordinance, subject to a regular visitation, as this may be; and besides the want hath been commonly in houses of correction of a competent and certain stock for the materials of the labour, which in this case may be likewise supplied.
Concerning the advancement of Learning, I do subscribe to the opinion of one of the wisest and greatest men of your kingdom: That for grammar schools there are already too many, and therefore no providence to add where there is excess. For the great number of schools which are in your Highness realm, doth cause a want and doth cause likewise an overflow, both of them inconvenient, and one of them dangerous. For by means thereof they find want in the country and towns, both of servants for
husbandry, and apprentices for trade; and on the other side there being more scholars bred than the state can prefer and employ, and the active part of that life not bearing a proportion to the preparative, it must needs fall out that many persons will be bred unfit for other vocations, and unprofitable for that in which they are brought up; which fills the realm full of indigent, idle, and wanton people, which are but materia rerum
Therefore, in this point, I wish Mr. Sutton's intention were exalted a degree, that that which he meant for teachers of children, your Majesty should make for teachers of men. Wherein it hath been my ancient opinion and observation, that in the universities of this realm (which I take to be of the best endowed universities of Europe) there is nothing more wanting towards the flourishing state of learning than the honourable and plentiful salaries of readers in arts and professions. In which point, as your Majesty's bounty already hath made a beginning, so this occasion is offered of God to make a proceeding. Surely readers in the chair are as the Parents in sciences, and deserve to enjoy a condition not inferior to their children that embrace the practical part; else no man will sit longer in the chair than till he can walk to a better preferment and it will come to pass as Virgil says,
Ut patrum invalidi referant jejunia nati.
For if the principal readers through the meanness of their entertainment be but men of superficial learning, and that they shall take their place but in passage, it will make the mass of sciences want the chief and solid dimension, which is depth; and to become but pretty and compendious habits of practice. Therefore I could wish that in both the universities, the lectures as well of the three professions, Divinity, Law, and Physic, as of the three heads of science, Philosophy, arts of speech, and the mathematics, were raised in their pensions unto 100l. per annum apiece. Which though it be not near so great as they are in some other places, where the greatness of the reward doth whistle for the ablest men out of all foreign parts to supply the chair, yet it may be a portion to content a worthy and able man, if he be likewise contemplative in nature, as those spirits are that are fittest for lectures. Thus may learning in your kingdom be ad
vanced to a further height; learning (I say) which under your Majesty, the most learned of kings, may claim some degree of elevation.
Concerning propagation of Religion, I shall in few words set before your Majesty three propositions; none of them devices of mine own, otherwise than that I ever approved them; two of which have been in agitation of speech and the third acted.
The first a college for controversies, whereby we shall not still proceed single, but shall as it were double our files, which certainly will be found in the encounter.
The second a receipt for (I like not the word Seminary, in respect of the vain vows and implicit obedience and other things tending to the perturbation of states involved in that term) converts to the reformed religion, either of youth or otherwise. For I doubt not but there are in Spain, Italy, and other countries of the Papists, many whose hearts are touched with a sense of those corruptions and an acknowledgment of a better way; which grace is many times smothered and choked through a worldly consideration of necessity; men not knowing where to have succour and refuge. This likewise I hold a work of great piety and a work of great consequence, that we also may be wise in our generation, and that the watchful and silent night may be used as well for sowing of good seed as of tares.
The third is, the imitation of a memorable and religious act of Queen Elizabeth; who finding a part of Lancashire to be extremely backward in religion, and the benefices swallowed up in impropriations, did by decree in the Duchy erect four stipends of 1001. per annum apiece, for preachers well chosen to help the harvest, which have done a great deal of good in the parts where they have laboured; neither do there want other corners in the realm that would require for a time the like extraordinary help.
Thus have I briefly delivered unto your Majesty my opinion touching the employment of this charity; whereby that mass of wealth, that was in the owner little better than a stack or heap of muck, may be spread over your kingdom to many fruitful purposes, your Majesty planting and watering, and God giving
The legal question was tried afterwards in 1613 before all the Judges in the Exchequer; and Bacon appeared as counsel for the
pretended heir. But that was only in the ordinary practice of his profession and judgment being given in favour of the will, the advice (whatever the King thought of it) of course fell to the ground, there being no opportunity to act upon it.
The proclamation concerning the value of gold pieces had the effect of bringing more gold to the mint: but it was accompanied or followed by an increased scarcity of silver; the causes of which were referred by the Council to the two Chancellors-(that is, I suppose, the Chancellor of the Duchy and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir T. Parry and Sir Julius Cæsar)-and the Solicitor General. A copy of the certificate which they returned was preserved among Bacon's papers, and appears to have belonged originally to the volume entitled Orationes, Acta, Instrumenta, though now separated from it. I presume therefore that it was drawn up by Bacon himself. It has no date, but as it seems to have been drawn up three months after the publication of a Proclamation by which the price of gold was raised, and such a proclamation was published on the 23rd of November 1611, this is probably its proper place. The policy belongs to an age when the wealth of a nation was believed to consist of the gold and silver which it contained. And though Bacon was well aware that the greatness of a nation did not consist in its "treasure or riches," I suppose he fully shared the general opinion of his contemporaries that the treasure or riches of a nation consisted in the store of precious metals which could be drawn and kept within its limits.
A CERTIFICATE TO THE LORDS OF THE COUNCIL, UPON INFORMATION GIVEN TOUCHING THE SCARCITY OF SILVER AT THE MINT, AND REFERENCE TO THE TWO CHANCELLORS, AND THE KING'S SOLICITOR.2
It may please your Lordships,
According unto your Lordships letters unto us directed, grounded upon the information which his Majesty hath received concerning the scarcity of silver at the Mint we have called before us as well the officers of the Mint as some principal merchants, and spent two whole afternoons in the examination of the
1 See a report of the case in the Cambridge University Library. Hh. ii. 2, p. 200. 2 Harl. MSS. 7020, fo. 164. The heading is inserted in Bacon's own hand.
business; wherein we kept this order, first to examine the fact, then the causes with the remedies.
And for the fact, we directed the officers of the Mint to give unto us a distinguished account how much gold and silver hath yearly been brought into the Mint, by the space of six whole years last past, more specially for the last three months succeeding the last proclamation touching the price of gold; to the end we mought by the suddenness of the fall discern whether that proclamation mought be thought the efficient cause of the present scarcity. Upon which account it appears to us, that during the space of six years aforesaid there hath been still degrees of decay in quantity of the silver brought to the Mint, but yet so as within these last three months it hath grown far beyond the proportion of the former time, insomuch as there comes in now little or none at all. And yet notwithstanding it is some opinion, as well amongst the officers of the Mint as the merchants, that the state need be the less apprehensive of this effect, because it is like to be but temporary, and neither the great flush of gold that is come into the Mint since the proclamation, nor on the other side the great scarcity of silver, can continue in proportion as it now doth.
Another point of the fact which we thought fit to examine was, whether the scarcity of silver appeared generally in the realm, or only at the Mint; wherein it was confessed by the merchants, that silver is continually imported into the realm, and is found stirring amongst the goldsmiths and otherwise, much like as in former times, although in respect of the greater price which it hath with the goldsmith it cannot find the way to the Mint. And thus much for the fact.
For the causes with the remedies, we have heard many propositions made, as well by the Lord Knevet, who assisted us in this conference, as by the merchants; of which propositions few were new unto us, and much less can be new to your Lordships; but yet although upon former consultations we are not unacquainted what is more or less likely to stand with your Lordships' grounds and opinions, we thought it nevertheless the best fruit of our diligence to set them down in articles, that your Lordships with more ease may discard or entertain the particulars, beginning with those which your Lordships do point at in your letters, and so descending to the rest.