Page images

first ?—Boldness. What second and third ?—Boldness. And yet boldness is a child of ignorance and baseness, far inferior to other parts. But nevertheless it doth fascinate, and bind hand and foot those that are either shallow in judgment, or weak in courage, which are the greatest part; yea, and prevaileth with wise men at weak times: therefore we see it hath done wonders in popular states, but with senates and princes less; and more ever upon the first entrance of bold persons into action, than soon after; for boldness is an ill keeper of promise. Surely, as there are mountebanks for the natural body, so there are mountebanks for the politic body: men that undertake great cures, and perhaps have been lucky in two or three experiments, but want the grounds of science, and therefore cannot hold out: nay, you shall see a bold fellow many times do Mahomet's miracle. Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled: Mahomet called the hill to come to him again and again; and when the hill stood still he was never a whit abashed, but said, " If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill." So these men when they have promised great matters, and failed most shamefully, yet, if they have the perfection of boldness, they will but slight it over, and make a turn, and no more ado. Certainly to men of great judgment bold persons are a sport to behold; nay, and to the vulgar also boldness hath somewhat of the ridiculous: for if absurdity be the subject of laughter, doubt you not but great boldness is seldom without 6ome absurdity: especially it is a sport to see when a bold fellow is out of countenance, for that puts his face into a most shrunken and wooden posture, as needs it must; for in bashfulness the spirits do a little go and come; but with bold men, upon like occasion, they stand at a stay; like a stale at chess, where it is no mate, but yet the game cannot stir: but this last were fitter for a satire, than for a serious observation. This is well to be weighed, that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveniences: therefore it is ill in counsel, good in execution: so that the right use of bold persons is, that they never command in chief, but be seconds, and under the direction of others. For in counsel, it is good to see dangers; and in execution not to see them, except they be very great.


I take goodness in this sense, the affecting of the weal of men, which is that the Grecians called philanthropia; and the word humanity, as it is used, is a little too light to express it. Goodness I call the habit, and goodness of nature the inclination. This of all virtues and dignities of the mind is the greatest, being the character of the Deity; and without it man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing, no better than a kind of vermin. Goodness answers to the theological virtue, charity, and admits no excess but error. The desire of power in excess caused

the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall: but in charity there is no excess; neither can angel or man come in danger by it. The inclination to goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch, that if it issue not towards men, it will take unto other living creatures; as it is seen in the Turks, a cruel people, who nevertheless are kind to beasts, and give alms to dogs and birds: insomuch, as Busbechius reporteth, a christian boy in Constantinople had like to have been stoned, for gagging, in a waggishness, a long-billed fowl. Errors indeed in this virtue of goodness or charity may be committed. The Italians have an ungracious proverb; "Tanto buon che val niente;" So good that he is good for nothing. And one of the doctors of Italy, Nicholas Machiavel, had the confidence to put in writing, almost in plain terms, that the christian faith had given up good men in prey to those that are tyrannical and unjust: which he spake, because indeed there was never law, or sect, or opinion, did so much magnify goodness, as the christian religion doth: therefore to avoid the scandal, and the danger both, it is good to take knowledge of the errors of a habit so excellent. Seek the good of other men, but be not in bondage to their faces or fancies; for that is but facility or softness, which taketh an honest mind prisoner. Neither give thou JEsop's cock a gem, who would be better pleased and happier if he had a barley-corn. The example of God teacheth the lesson truly; "he sendeth his rain and maketh his sun to shine upon the just and the unjust;" but he doth not rain wealth nor shine honour and virtues upon men equally: common benefits are to be communicated with all, but peculiar benefits with choice. And beware, how in making the portraiture thou breakest the pattern; for divinity maketh the love of ourselves the pattern, the love of our neighbours but the portraiture: ".Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me." But sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me j that is, except thou have a vocation, wherein thou niayest do as much good with little means as with great: for otherwise, in feeding the streams thou driest the fountain. Neither is there only a habit of goodness directed by right reason ; but there is in some men, even in nature, a disposition towards it; as on the other side there is a natural malignity. For there be, that in their nature do not affect the good of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth but to a crossness, or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficileness, or the like; but the deeper sort to envy, and mere mischief. Such men, in other men's calamities, are as it were in season, and are ever on the loading part: not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus' sores, but like flies that are still buzzing upon any thing that is raw; misanthropi, that make it their practice to bring men to the bough, and yet have never a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timon had. Such dispositions are the very errors of human nature, and yet they are the fittest timber to make great politics of; like to knee-timber, that is good for ships that are ordained to be tossed, but not for building houses that

shall stand firm. The parts and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them. If he he compassionate towards the afflictions of others, it shows that his heart is like the nohle tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm. If he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot. If he be thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs men's minds, and not their trash. But above all, if he have St. Paul's perfection, that he would wish to be an anathema from Christ for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ himself.


We will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate, then as a condition of particular persons. A monarchy, where there is no nobility at all, is ever a pure and absolute tyranny; as that of the Turks: for nobility attempers sovereignty, and draws the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the line royal. But for democracies, they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet, and less subject to sedition, than where there are stirps of nobles; for men's eyes are upon the business, and not upon the persons: or if upon the persons, it is for the business' sake, as fittest, and not for flags and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their diversity of religion, and of cantons; for utility is their bond, and not respects. The United Provinces of the Low Countries, in their government, excel: for where there is an equality, the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful. A great and potent nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty, nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them, before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a state, for it is a surcharge of expense; and besides, it being of necessity that many of the nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means.

As for nobility in particular persons; it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay; or to see a fair timber tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time! for new nobility is but the act of power, but ancient nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to nobility, are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent, than their descendants; for there is rarely any rising, but by a commixture of good and evil arts: but it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of

birth commonly abnteth industry; and he that is not industrious envieth him that is. Besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that stnndeth at a stay, when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobility extinguisheth the passive envy from others towards them, because they are in possession of honour. Certainly kings that have able men of their nobility, shall find ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business: for people naturally bend to them, as born in some sort to command.


Shepherds of people had need know the kalenders of tempests in state; which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; ns natural tempests are greatest 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:

"Illcctiam coocos instarc tumultus
Scepe monet, fraudesquc et operta tumesccre bella."

Libels 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.

"Illam Terra parens, ira irritata Dcorum,
Kxtremam, ut perhibent, Csso Enceladoque sororem

As if fames 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, 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, sen male, gesta prcmunt." Neither doth it follow, that hecause these fames are a sign of troubles, that the suppressing of them with too much severity should be a remedy of troubles. 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 assay of disobedience: especially if in those disputings, they which are for the direction, speak fearfully and tenderly; and those that are against it, audaciously.

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when princes, that ought to be common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, it is as a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side: as was well seen in the time of Henry the third of 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 accessary 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;" 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."

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 may 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 foenus,
Hinc concussa tides, et mull is utile bcflum."

This same "multis utile helium" is an assured and infallible sign of a state disposed to seditions and troubles. And if this poverty and broken estate 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 griefs whereupon they rise be in fact great or small. 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 fume, doth not turn 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 last by the weakest pull.

The causes and motions of seditions are, innovation in religion, taxes, alteration of laws and customs, breaking of privileges, general oppression, advancement of unworthy persons, strangers, dearths, disbanded soldiers, factions grown desperate j 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 spake ; 'which is w-ant 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 improving 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 eam less, do wear out an estate sooner than a greater number that live lower and gather more. Therefore the multiplying of nobility, and other degrees of quality, 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.

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 vecturc 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 " materiam superabit opus," that the work and carriage is more worth 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 noblesse, and the commonalty. When one of these is discontent, the danger is not great; for common people are of slow motion, if they be not excited by the greater sort; and the greater sort are of small strength, except the multitude be apt and ready to move of themselves. Then is the danger, when the greater sort do but wait for the troubling of the waters amongst the meaner, that then they may declare themselves. The poets feign, that the rest of the gods would have bound Jupiter; which he hearing of, by the counsel of Pallas, sent for Briareus with his hundred hands to come in to his aid. An emblem, no doubt, to show, how safe it is for monarchs to make sure of the good will of common people.

To give moderate liberty for griefs and discontentments to evaporate, so it be without too great insolency or bravery, is a safe way. For he that turneth the humours back, and maketh the wound bleed inwards, endangereth malign ulcers, and pernicious imposthumations.

The part of Epimetheus might well become Prometheus, in the case of discontentments, for there is not a better provision against them. Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut the lid, and kept Hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly the politic and artificial nourishing and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poison of discontentments. And it is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction: and when it can handle things in such manner, as no evil shall appear so peremptory, but that it hath some outlet of hope; which is the less hard to do, because both particular persons and factions are apt enough to flatter themselves, or at least to brave that which they believe not.

Also, the foresight and prevention that there be no likely or fit head, whereunto discontented persons may resort, and under whom they may join, is a known but an excellent point of caution. I understand a fit head to be one that hath greatness and reputation; that hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they turn their eyes; and that is thought discontented in his own particular: which kind of persons are either to be won and reconciled to the state, and that in a fast and true manner; or to be fronted with some other of the same party that may oppose them, and so divide the reputation. Generally, the dividing and breaking of all factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and setting them at distance, or at least distrust amongst themselves, is one not of the worst remedies. For it is a desperate case, if those that hold with the proceedings of the state, be full of discord and faction; and those that are against it be entire and united.

I have noted, that some witty and sharp speeches which have fallen from princes, have given fire to seditions. Ceesar did himself infinite hurt in that speech; " Sylla nescivitliteras, non potuit dictare:" for it did utterly cut off that hope which men had entertained, that he would at onetime or other give over his dictatorship. Galba undid himself by that speech; "Legi a se militem, non emi:" for it put

VOL. i. T

the soldiers out of hope of the donative. Probus likewise by that speech, "Si vixero, non opus erit amplius Romano imperio militibus;" a speech of great despair for the soldiers: and many the like. Surely, princes had need, in tender matters and ticklish times, to beware what they say; especially in these short speeches, which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their secret intentions. For, as for large discourses, they are flat things, and not so much noted.

Lastly, let princes, against all events, not be without some great person, one, or rather more, of military valour, near unto them, for the repressing of seditions in their beginnings. For without that, there useth to be more trepidation in court upon the first breaking out of troubles, than were fit. And the state runneth the danger of that which Tacitus saith, "atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plnres vellent, omnes paterentur." But let such military persons be assured and well reputed of, rather than factious and popular; holding also good correspondence with the other great men in the state; or else the remedy is worse than the disease.


I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. ft is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity. Nay even that school which is most accused of atheism, doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and Epicurus. For it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements, and one immutable fifth essence duly and eternally placed, need no God; than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal. The Scripture saith, " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God:" it is not said, "the fool hath thought in his heart." So as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it. For none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this; that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the consent of others: nay more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects: and, which is most of all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; whereas if they did truly think that there were no such thing ;is God, why should they trouble themselves? Epicurus is charged, that he did but dissemble, for his credit's sake, when he affirmed there were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed themselves without having respect to the government of the world. Wherein they say he did temporize, though in secret he thought there was no God. But certainly he is traduced; for his words are noble and divine: " Non deos vnlgi negare profanum; sed vulgi opinioncs diis npplicare profanum." Plato could have said no more. And although he had the confidence to deny the administration, he had not the power to deny the nature. The Indians of the west have names for their particular gods, though they have no name for God: as if the heathens should have had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, &c. but not the word Deus; which shows, that even those barbarous people have the notion, though they have not the latitude and extent of it. So that against atheists the very savages take part with the very subtilest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is rare; a Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others; and yet they seem to be more than they arc; for that all that impugn a received religion, or superstition, arc by the adverse part branded with the name of atheists. But the great atheists indeed are hypocrites; which are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must needs be cauterised in the end. The causes of atheism are j divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides; but many divisions introduce atheism. Another is, scandal of priests; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith, " non est jam dicere, ut populus, sic sacerdos: quia nec sic populus, ut sacerdos." A third is custom of profane scoffing in holy matters; which doth by little and little deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, especially with peace and prosperity: for troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. They that deny a God destroy man's nobility: for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature: for take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on, when he finds himself maintained by a man, who to him is instead of a God, or melior natura : which courage is manifestly such, as that creature, without confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith, which human nature in itself could not obtain: therefore as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations: never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome; of this state hear what Cicero saith: "Quam volumus, licet, patres conscripti, nos amemns, tamen nec numero Hispanos, nec robore Gallos, nec calliditate Pcenos, nec artibus Greecos, nec denique hoc ipso hujus gentis et terra? domestico nativoque sensu

Italos ipsos et Latinos; sed pietate, ac religione. atque hftc unil sapientiA, quod deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernarique perspeximus, ranneg gentes nationesque superavimus."


It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy of him: for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely: and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose: "Surely," saith he, " I had rather a great deal men should say, there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say, that there was one Plutarch, that would eat his children as soon as they were born; as the poets speak of Saturn." And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not: but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men. Therefore atheism did never perturb states; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking no farther: and we see the times inclined to atheism, as the time of Augustus Ca?8ar, were civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states; and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government The master of superstition is the people; and in all superstition wise men follow fools; and arguments are fitted to practice in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the council of Trent, where the doctrine of the schoolmen bare great sway; that the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to save the phenomena, though they knew there were no such things; and in like manner, that the schoolmen had framed a number of subtile and intricate axioms and theorems, to save the practice of the church. The causes of superstition are: pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies: excess of outward and pharisaical holiness: over-great reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church: the stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre: the favouring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties: the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations: and lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition without a veil is a deformed thing: for as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man; so the similitude of superstition to religion makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat comipteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition; when men think to do best, if they go farthest from the superstition formerly received: therefore care would be had, that, as it fareth in ill purgings, the good be not taken away with the bad.

« PreviousContinue »