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ESSAY XV. OF SEDITIONS AND TROUBLES.
SHEPHERDS of people had need know the calendars of tempests in State; which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality, as natural tempests about the equinoctia;' and as there are certain hollow blasts of wind and secret swellings of seas before a tempest, so are there in States :—
'Ille etiam csecos instare tumultua
Tiibels and licentious discourses against the State, when they are frequent and open; and in like sort, false news often running up and down to the disadvantage of the State, and hastily embraced, are amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame, saith, she was sister to the giants:—
•Mam terra parens, ira irritata deorura,
As if fames4 were the relics of seditions past; but they are no less indeed the preludes of seditions to come. Howsoever, he noted it right, that seditious tumults and seditious fames differ no more but as brother and sister, masculine and feminine— especially if it come to that, that the best actions of a State, and the most plausible,5 and which ought to give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, and traduced; for that shows the envy great, as Tacitus saith, ' Conflata, magna invidia, seu bene, seu male, gesta premunt.'6 Neither doth it follow that because these fames are a sign of troubles, that the suppressing of them with too much severity should be a remedy of troubles;1 for the despising of them many times checks them best, and the going about to stop them doth but make a wonder long-lived. Also that kind of obedience, which Tacitus speaketh of, is to be held suspected: 'Erant in officio, sed tamen qui mallent mandata imperantium interpretari, quam exequi;'* disputing, excusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, is a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay3 of disobedience: especially if in those disputings they which are for the direction speak fearfully and tenderly, and those that are against it, audaciously.
1 Equinoctia. Equinoxes.
8 'He often warns of dark fast-coming tumults, hidden fraud, and open warfiire, swelling proud.'—Virgil, Oeorg. i. 465.
* Virg. En. iv. 179.
• Enraged against the Gods, revengful Earth
* Fames. Reports; rumours. 'The fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come.'—Genesis xlv. 16.
6Plausible. Laudable; deserting of applause. See page 105. 8 'Great envy being oxcited, they condemn acts, whether good or bad.' (Quoted probably from memory.)—Toe. Hist. i. 7.
Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be common1 parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, that is, as a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side—as was well seen in the time of Henry III. ol France; for, first himself entered League for the extirpation of the Protestants, and presently after the same League was turned upon himself. For when the authority of princes is made but an accessory to a cause, and that there be other bands that tie faster than the band of sovereignty, kings begin to be put almost out of possession.
Also, when discords, and quarrels, and factions are carried openly and audaciously; it is a sign the reverence of government is lost; for the motions of the greatest persons in a government ought to be as the motions of the planets under primum mobile" (according to the old opinion), which is, that every of them? is carried swiftly by the highest motion, and softly in their own motion; and, therefore, when great ones in their own particular motion move violently, and, as Tacitus expresseth it well, 'Liberius quam ut imperantium meminissent'l—it is a sign the orbs are out of frame; for reverence is that wherewith princes are girt from God, who threateneth the dissolving thereof; 'Solvam cingula regum.' *
1 There is a law in our Statute Book against 'Slanderous Reports and Tales to cause Discord between King and People.'—Anuo 5 Edward L, Westminster Primer, c xxxi.
5 'They were in attendance on their duties, yet preferred putting their own construction on the commands of their rulers to executing them.'—Tacit. Hist. i. 39.
• Assay. The first attempt, or taste, by way of trial.
'For well he weened that so glorious bait
• Common. Serving for all. 'The Book of Common Prayer.'
5 Primum mobile, in the astronomical language of Bacon's time, meant a body drawing all others into its own sphere.
• Every of them. Each of them; every one of Oiem. 'And it came to pass in every of them.'—Apocrypha, 2 Esdras iii. 10.
So when any of the four pillars of government are mainly shaken, or weakened (which are religion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men had need to pray for fair weather. But let us pass from this part of predictions (concerning which, nevertheless, more light might be taken from that which followeth), and let us speak first of the materials of seditions, then of the motives of them, and thirdly of the remedies.
Concerning the materials of seditions, it is a thing well to be considered—for the surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do bear it), is to take away the matter of them; for if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire. The matter of seditions is of two kinds, much poverty, and much discontentment. It is certain, so many overthrown estates, so many votes for troubles. Lucan noteth well the state of Rome before the civil war:—
'Hinc usura vorax, rapidumque in tempore fconus,
This same 'multis utile bellum,' is an assured and infallible sign of a State disposed to seditions and troubles; and if this poverty and broken estate4 in the better sort be joined with a want and necessity in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great—for the rebellions of the belly are the worst. As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like to humours in the natural, which are apt to gather a preternatural heat, and to inflame; and let no prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust—for that were to imagine people to be too reasonable, who do often spurn at their own good,—nor yet by this, whether the griefss whereupon they rise be in fact great or Bmall; for they are the most dangerous discontentments, where the fear is greater than the feeling: 'Dolendi modus, timendi non item''—besides, in great oppressions, the same things that provoke the patience do withal mate! the courage; but in fears it is not so—neither let any prince, or State, be secure concerning discontentments, because they have been often, or have been long, and yet no peril hath ensued—for as it is true that every vapour or fume3 doth not torn into a storm, so it is nevertheless true, that storms, though they blow over, divers times, yet may fall at last; and, as the Spanish proverb noteth well, 'The cord breaketh at the last by the weakest pull.'
1 'More freely than is consistent with remembering the rulers.'
2 'I will loose the bond of kings.'—Job xii. 18.
s 'Hence usury voracious, and eager for the time of interest j hence broken faith, and war become useful to many.'—Lucan, Phars. i. 181.
* Estate. Condition; circumstances. 'All who are any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate.'—English Liturgy ('Prayer for all Conditions of Men').
5 Griefs. Grievances.
* The king has sent to know the nature of your griefs.'—Shakespere.
The causes and motives of seditions are, innovations in religion, taxes, alteration of laws and customs, breaking of privileges, general oppression, advancement of unworthy persons, strangers, dearths, disbanded soldiers, factions grown desperate; and whatsoever in offending people joineth and knitteth them in a common cause.
For the remedies, there may be some general preservatives, whereof we will speak: as for the just cure, it must answer to the particular disease, and so be left to counsel rather than rule.
The first remedy or prevention, is to remove, by all means possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we speak, which is, want and poverty in the estate :* to which purpose serveth the opening and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of manufactures; the banishing of idleness; the repressing of waste and excess by sumptuary laws; the improvement and husbanding of the soil; the regulating of prices of things vendible; the moderating of taxes and tributes; and the like. Generally, it is to be foreseen that the population of a kingdom (especially if it be not mown down by wars), do not exceed the stock of the kingdom which should maintain them: neither is the population to be reckoned only by number, for a smaller number, that spend more and earn less, do wear out an estate sooner than a greater number that live low and gather more: therefore the multiplying of nobility, and other degrees of quality,1 in an over-proportion to the common people, doth speedily bring a State to necessity; and so doth likewise an overgrown clergy; for they bring nothing to the stock; and in like manner, when more are bred scholars than preferments can take off.
1 'There is a limit to the suffering, but none to the apprehension.'
'That memory, the warden of the brain, shall be a fume'—Shakespere. 4 Estate. State. See page 147.
It is likewise to be remembered, that, forasmuch as the increase of any estate must be upon the foreigner (for whatsoever is somewhere gotten, is somewhere lost), there be but three things which one nation selleth unto another—the commodity as nature yieldeth it, the manufacture, and the vecture, or carriage: so that, if these three wheels go, wealth will flow as in a spring tide. And it cometh many times to pass, that 'rnateriam superabit opus'—that 'the work and carriage is worth more than the material,' and enricheth a State more; as is notably seen in the Low Countrymen, who have the best mines above ground in the world.
Above all things, good policy is to be used, that the treasures and monies in a State be not gathered into few hands'; for otherwise, a State may have a great stock, and yet starve; and money is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing, or, at the least, keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, engrossing* great pasturages, and the like.
For removing discontentments, or, at least, the danger of them, there is in every State (as we know), two portions of subjects, the nobles and the commonalty. When one of these is discontent,3 the danger is not great; for common people are of
1 Quality. Persons of superior rank. 'I will appear at the masquerade dressed in my feather, that the quality may see how pretty they will look in their travelling habits.'—Addison.
The common people still speak of the upper classes as the 'the quality.' It is to be observed that almost all our titles of respect are terms denoting qualities. 'Her Majesty,' 'his Highness,' 'his Excellency,' 'his Grace,' 'the Most Noble,' 'the Honourable, 'his Honour,' 'his Worship.'
2 Engrossing. Forestalling. 'Engrossing was also described to be the getting into one's possession, or buying up large quantities of any kind of victuals, with intent to sell them again.'—Blaclnstone.
'What should yo do, then, should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge, and now light sprung up? Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it. to bring a famine upon our minds ?'—Milton.
3 Discontent. Discontented.