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A BRIEF SPEECH
IN THE END OF THE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT 7 JACOBI.
PERSUADING SOME SUPPLY TO BE OIVBN TO HIS MAJESTY: WHICH SEEMED THE!» TO STAND UPON DOUBTFUL
PASSED UPON THIS SPEECH.
The proportion of the king's supply is not now in question: for when that shall be, it may be I shall be of opinion, that we should give so now, as we may the better give again. But as things stand for the present, I think the point of honour and reputation is that which his Majesty standeth most upon, that our gift may at least be like those showers that may serve to lay the winds, though they do not sufficiently water the earth.
To labour to persuade you, I will not: for I know not into what form to cast my speech. If I should enter into a laudative, though never so due and just, of the king's great merits, it may be taken for flattery: if I should speak of the strait obligations which intercede between the king and the subject, in case of the king's want, it were a kind of concluding the house: if I should speak of the danger
ous consequence which want may reverberate upon subjects, it might have a show of a secret menace.
These arguments are, I hope, needless, and do better in your minds than in my mouth. But this give me leave to say, that whereas the example of Cyrus was used, who sought his supply from those upon whom he had bestowed his benefits; we must always remember, that there are as well benefits of the sceptre as benefits of the hand, as well of government as of liberality. These, I am sure, we will acknowledge to have come plena manu amongst us all, and all those whom we represent; and therefore it is every man's head in this case that must be his counsellor, and every man's heart his orator; and to those inward powers, more forcible than any man's speech, I leave it, and wish it may go to the question.
THE LORDS OF THE COUNCIL,
UPON INFORMATION GIVEN
TOUCHINO THR SCARCITY OF SILVER AT THE MINT AND REFERENCE TO THE TWO CHANCELLORS AND THE KING'S SOLICITOR.
IT MAY PLEASE TOUR LORDSHIPS,
According unto your lordships' letters unto us directed, grounded upon the information which his Majcsly 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 buisiness; 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 especially for the last three months succeeding the last proclamation tonching the price of gold; to the end we might by the suddenness of the fall discern, whether that proclamation might 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.
The first proposition is, touching the disproportion of the price between gold and silver, which is now brought to bed, 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 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.
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 would 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 recoverable at his Majesty's pleasure.
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 immediately 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 parts, 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 j 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 rf corn sub modo, except they bring the silver wiiich resulted 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 farther, 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 licence 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 farther with discourses which we had of making foreign coins current, and of varying the king's standard to weight, 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 consultations, 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.
May It Please Tour Majesty,
I Find it a positive precept of the old law, that there should be no sacrifice without salt: the moral whereof, besideB the ceremony, may be, that God is not pleased with the body of a good intention, except it be seasoned with that spiritual wisdom and judgment, as it be not easily subject to be corrupted and perverted: for salt, in the Scripture, is a figure both of wisdom and lasting. This cometh into my mind upon this act of Mr. Sutton, which seemeth to mc as a sacrifice without salt; having the materials of agood intention, but not powdered with any such ordinances and institutions as may preserve the same from turning corrupt, or at least from becoming unsavory, and of little use. For though the choice of the feoffees be of the best, yet neither can they always live; and the very nature of the work itself, in the vast and unfit proportions thereof, being apt to provoke a misemploy ment; it is no diligence of theirs, except there be a digression from that model, that can excuse it from running the same way that gifts of like condition have heretofore done. For to design the Charterhouse, a building fit for a prince's habitation, for an hospital, is all one as if one should give in alms a rich embroidered cloak to a beggar. And certainly a man may see " tanquam quee oculis cernuntur," that if such an edifice, with six thousand pounds revenue, be erected into one hospital, it will in small time degenerate to be made a preferment of some great person to be master, and he to take all the sweet, and the poor to be stinted, and take
hut the crumbs; as it comes to pass in divers hospitals of this realm, which have but the names of hospitals, and are only wealthy benefices in respect of the mastership; but the poor, which is the propter quid, little relieved. And the like hath been the fortune of much of the alms of the Roman religion in their great foundations, which being begun in vain-glory and ostentation, have had their judgment upon them, to end in corruption and abuse. This meditation hath made me presume to write these few lines to your Majesty; being no better than good wishes, which your Majesty's great wisdom may make something or nothing of.
Wherein I desire to be thus understood, that if this foundation, such as it is, be perfect and good in law, then I am too well acquainted with your Majesty's disposition, to advise any course of power or profit that is not grounded upon a right: nay farther, if the defects be such as a court of equity may remedy and cure, then I wish that as St. Peter's shadow did cure diseases, so the very shadow of a good intention may cure defects of that nature. But if there be a right, and birthright planted in the heir, and not remediable by courts of equity, and that right be submitted to your Majesty, whereby it is both in your power and grace what to do; then I do wish that this rude mass and chaos of a good deed were directed rather to a solid merit, and durable charity, than to a blaze of glory, that will but crackle a little in talk, and quickly extinguish.
And this may be done, observing the species of Mr. Sutton's intent, though varying in individuo: for it appears that he had in notion a triple good, an hospital, and a school, and maintaining of a preacher: which individuals refer to these three general heads; relief of poor, advancement of learning, and propagation of religion. Now then if I shall set before your Majesty, in every of these three kinds, what it is that is most wanting in your kingdom; and what is like to be the most fruitful and effectual use of such a beneficence, and least like to be perverted; that, I think, shall be no ill scope of my labour, how meanly soever performed; for out of variety represented, election may be best grounded.
Concerning the relief of the poor; I hold some number of hospitals, with competent endowments, will do far more good than one hospital of an exorbitant greatness: for though the one course will be the more seen, yet the other will be the more felt. For if your Majesty erect many, besides the observing the ordinary maxim, " Bonum, quo communius, eo melius," choice may be made of those towns and places where there is most need, and so the remedy may be distributed as the disease is dispersed. Again, greatness of relief, accumulated in one place, doth rather invite a swarm and surcharge of poor, than relieve those that are naturally bred in that place; like to ill tempered medicines, that draw more humour to the part than they evacuate from it. But chiefly I rely upon the reason that I touched in the beginning, that in these great hospitals the revenues will draw the use, and not the use the revenues; and so, through the mass of the wealth, they will swiftly tumble down to a miscmployment. And if any man say, that in the two hospitals in London there is a precedent of greatness concurring with good employment; let him consider that those hospitals have annual governors, that they are under the superior care and policy of such a state as the city of London; and chiefly, that their revenues consist not upon certainties, but upon casualties and free gift*: which gifts would be withheld, if they appeared once to be perverted; so as it keepeth them in a continual good behaviour and awe to employ them aright; none of which points do match with the present case.
The next consideration may be, whether this intended hospital, as it hath a more ample endowment than other hospitals have, should not likewise work upon a better subject than other poor; as that it should be converted to the relief of maimed soldiers, decayed merchants, householders aged, and destitute churchmen, and the like; whose condition, being of a better sort than loose people and beggars, deserveth both a more liberal stipend and allowance, and some proper place of relief, not intermingled or coupled with the basest sort of poor; which project, though specious, yet in my judgment will not answer the designment in the event, in these our times. For certainly few men in any vocation, which have been somebody, and bear a mind somewhat according to the conscience and remembrance of that they have been, will ever descend to that condition, as to profess to live upon alms, and to become a corporation of declared beggars; but rather will choose to live obscurely, and as it were to hide themselves with some
private friends: so that the end of such an institution will be, that it will make the place a receptacle of the worst, idlest, and most dissolute persons of every profession, and to become a cell of loiterers, and cast serving-men, and drunkards, with scandal rather than fruit to the commonwealth. And of this kind I can find but one example with us, which is the alms-knights of Windsor; which particular would give a man small encouragement to follow that precedent.
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 burden, an eye-sore, a scandal, and a seed of peril and tumult in the state. But chiefly it were to be wished, that such a beneficence towards the relief of the 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 works 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: so that they 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 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's 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 novarum."
Therefore, in this point, 1 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 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 saith,
"Ut patrum invalidi refcrant 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 1007. per annum apiece: which though it be not near so great as they are in some other places, w here 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 advanced to a farther 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 is 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 is a receipt, 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, for 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 papist, 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 and want; 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 100/. 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 mine opinion touching the employment of this charity; whereby that mass of wealth, which 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 increase.