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DELIVERED BY THE KING'S ATTOBKEy
SIR FRANCIS BACON,
IN THE LOWER HOUSE,
WHEN THE HOUSE WAS IN GREAT HEAT, AND MUCH TROUBLED ABOUT THE UNDERTAKERS;
WHICH WERE THOUGHT TO BE SOME ABLE AND FORWARD GENTLEMEN i WHO, TO INGRATIATE THEMSELVES WITH THE KING, WERE SAID TO HAVE UNDERTAKEN, THAT THE KING S BUSINESS SHOULD PASS IN THAT
HOUSE AS HIS MAJESTY COULD WISH.
[in THE PARLIAMENT 12 JACOSI.]
I Have been hitherto silent in this matter of undertaking, wherein, as I perceive, the house is much enwrapped.
First, because, to be plain with you, I did not well understand what it meant, or what it was; and I do not love to offer at that, that I do not throughly conceive. That private men should undertake for the commons of England! why, a man might as well undertake for the four elements. It is a thing so giddy, and so vast, as cannot enter into the brain of a sober man: and especially in a new parliament; when it was impossible to know who should be of the parliament: and when all men, that know never so little the constitution of this house, do know it to be so open to reason, as men do not know when they enter into these doors what mind themselves will be of, until they hear things argued and debated. Much less can any man make a policy of assurance, what ship shall come safe home into the harbour in these seas. I had heard of undertakings in several kinds. There were undertakers for the plantations of Derry and Colerane in Ireland, the better to command and bridle those parts. There were, not long ago, some undertakers for the north-west passage: and now there are some undertakers for the project of dyed and dressed cloths; and, in short, every novelty useth to be strengthened and made good by a kind of undertaking: but for the ancient parliament of England, which moves in a certain manner and sphere, to be undertaken, it passes my reach to conceive what it should be. Must we be all dyed and dressed, and no pure whites amongst us? Or must there be a new passage found for the king's business by a point of the compass that was never sailed by before? Or must there be some forts built in this house that may command and contain the rest? Mr. Speaker, I know but two forts in this house which the king ever hath; the fort of affection, and the fort of reason: the one commands the hearts, and the oilier commands the heads; and others I know none. I think Msop was a wise man that described the
VOL. I. 2 K
nature of a fly that sat upon the spoke of a chariot wheel, and said to kerself, "What a dust do I raise?" So, for my part, I think that all this dust is raised by light rumours and buzzes, and not upon any solid ground.
The second reason that made me silent was, because this suspicion and rumour of undertaking settles upon no person certain. It is like the birds of Paradise that they have in the Indies, that have no feet; and therefore they never light upon any place, but the wind carries them away: and such a thing do I take this rumour to be.
And lastly, when that the king had in his two several speeches freed us from the main of our fears, in affirming directly that there was no undertaking to him; and that he would have taken it to be no less derogation to his own majesty than to our merits, to have the acts of his people transferred to particular persons; that did quiet me thus far, that these vapours were not gone up to the head, howsoever they might glow and estuate in the body.
Nevertheless, since I perceive that this cloud still hangs over the house, and that it may do hurt, as well in fame abroad as in the king's ear, I resolved with myself to do the part of an honest voice in this house, to counsel you what I think to be for the best.
Wherein first, I will speak plainly of the pernicious effects of the accident of this bruit and opinion of undertaking, towards particulars, towards the house, towards the king, and towards the people.
Secondly, I will tell you, in mine opinion, what undertaking is tolerable, and how far it may be justified with a good mind; and on the other side, this same ripping up of the question of undertakers, how far it may proceed from a good mind, and in what kind it may be thought malicious and dangerous.
Thirdly, I will give you my poor advice, what means there are to put an end to this question of undertaking; not falling for the present upon a precise opinion, but breaking it, how many ways there be by which you may get out of it, and leaving the choice of them to a debate at the committee.
And lastly, I will advise you how things are to be handled at the committee, to avoid distraction and loss of time.
For the first of these, I can say to you but as the Scripture saith, "Si invicem mordetis, ab invicem consumemini;" if ye fret and gall one another's reputation, the end will be, that every man shall go hence, like coin cried down, of less price than he came hither. If some shall be thought to fawn upon the king's business openly, and others to cross it secretly, some shall be thought practisers that would pluck the cards, and others shall be thought papists that would shuffle the cards; what a misery • is this, that we should come together to fool one another, instead of procuring the public good!
And this ends not in particulars, but will make the whole house contemptible: for now I hear men say, that this question of undertaking is. the predominant matter of this house. So that we are now according to the parable of Jotham in the case of the trees of the forest, that when question was, Whether the vine should reign over them? that might not be: and whether the olive should reign over them? that might not be: but we have accepted the bramble to reign over us. For it seems that the good vine of the king's graces, that is not so much in esteem; and the good oil, whereby we should salve and relieve the wants of the estate and crown, that is laid aside too; and this bramble of contention and emulation, this Abimelech, which, as was truly said by an understanding gentleman, is u bastard, for every fame that wants a head, is filius populi, this must reign and rule amongst us.
Then for the king, nothing can be more opposite, ex diametro, to his ends and hopes, than this: for you have heard him profess like a king, and like a gracious king, that he doth not so much respect his present supply, as this demonstration that the people's hearts are more knit to him than before. Now then if the issue shall be this, that whatsoever shall be done for him shall be thought to be done but by a number of persons that shall be laboured and packed; this will rather be a sign of diffidence and alienation, than of a natural benevolence and affection in his people at home; and rather matter of disreputation, than of honour abroad. So that, to speak plainly to you, the king were better call for a new pair of cards, than play upon these if they be packed.
And then for the people, it is my manner ever to look as well beyond a parliament as upon a parliament; and if they abroad shall think themselves betrayed by those that are their deputies and attorneys here, it is true we may bind them and conclude them, but it will be with such murmur and insatisfaction as I would be loth to see.
These things might be dissembled, and so things left to bleed inwards; but that is not the way to cure them. And therefore I have searched the sore, in hope that you will endeavour the medicine.
But this to do more throughly, I must proceed to my second part, to tell you clearly and distinctly what is to be set on the right hand, and what on the left, in this business.
First, if any man hath done good offices to advise the king to call a parliament, and to. increase the
good affections and confidence of his Majesty towards his people; I say, that such person doth rather merit well, than commit any error. Nay farther, if any man hath, out of his own good mind, given an opinion touching the mind of the parliament in general: how it is probable they are like to be found, and that they will have a due feeling of the king's wants, and will not deal drily or illiberally with him; this man, that doth but think of other men's minds as he finds his own, is not to be blamed. Nay farther, if any man hath coupled this with good wishes and propositions, that the king do comfort the hearts of his people, and testify his own love to them, by filing off the harshness of his prerogative, retaining the substance and strength; and to that purpose, like the good housekeeper in the Scripture, that brought forth old store and new, hath revolved the petitions and propositions of the last parliament, and added new; I say, this man hath sown good seed; and he that shall draw him into envy for it, sows tares. Thus much of the right hand. But on the other side, if any shall mediately or immediately infuse into his Majesty, or to others, that the parliament is, as Cato said of the Romans, "like sheep, that a man were better drive a flock of them than one of them:" and however they maybe wise men severally, yet in this assembly they are guided by some few, which if they be made and assured, the rest will easily follow: this is a plain robbery of the king of honour, and his subjects of thanks, and it is to make the parliament vile and servile in the eyes of their sovereign; and I count it no better than a supplanting of the king and kingdom. Again, if a man shall make this impression, that it shall be enough for the king to send us some things of show that may serve for colours, and let some eloquent tales be told of them, and that will serve ad faciendum populum; any such person will find that this house can well skill of false lighfs, and that it is no wooing tokens, but the true love already planted in the breasts of the subjects, that will make them do for the king. And this is my opinion touching those that may have persuaded a parliament. Take it on the other side, for I mean in all things to deal plainly, if any man hath been diffident touching the call of a parliament, thinking that the best means were, first for the king to make his utmost trial to subsist of himself, and his own means; I say, an honest and faithful heart might consent to that opinion, and the event, it seems, doth not greatly discredit it hitherto. Again, if any man shall have been of opinion, that it is not a particular party that can bind the house; nor that it is not shows or colours can please the house; I s»y, that man, though his speech tend to discouragement, yet it is coupled with providence. But, by your leave, if any man, since the parliament was called, or when it was in speech, shall have laid plots to cross the good will of the parliament to the king, by possessing them that a few shall have the thanks, and that they are, as it were, bought and sold, and betrayed; and that that which the king offers them are but baits prepared by particular persons: or have raised rumours that it is a packed parliament; to the end nothing may be done, but that the parliament may be dissolved, as gamesters used to call for new cards, when they mistrust a pack: I say, these are engines and devices, naught, malign, and seditious.
Now for the remedy; I shall rather break the matter, as I said in the beginning, than advise positively. I know but three ways. Some message of declaration to the king; some entry or protestation amongst ourselves; or some strict and punctual examination. As for the last of these, I assure you I am not against it, if I could tell where to begin, or where to end. For certainly I have often seen it, that things when they are in smother trouble more than when they break out. Smoke blinds the eyes, but when it blazeth forth into flame it gives light to the eyes. But then if you fall to an examination, some person must be charged, some matter must be charged; and the manner of that matter must be likewise charged; for it may be in a good fashion, and it may be in a bad, in as much difference as between black and white: and then how far men will ingenuously confess, how far they will politicly deny, and what we can make and gather upon their confession, and how we shall prove against their denial; it is an endless piece of work, and I doubt that we shall grow weary of it.
For a message to the king, it is the course I like best, so it be carefully and considerately handled: for if we shall represent to the king the nature of this body as it is, without the veils and shadows that have been cast upon it, I think we shall do him honour, and ourselves right
For any thing that is to be done amongst our
selves, I do not see much gained by it, because it goes no farther than ourselves; yet if any thing can be wisely conceived to that end, I shall not be against it; but I think the purpose of it is fittest to be, rather that the house conceives that all this is but a misunderstanding, than to take knowledge that there is indeed a just ground, and then to seek, by a protestation, to give it a remedy. For protestations, and professions, and apologies, I never found them very fortunate ; but they rather increase suspicion than clear it.
Why then the last part is, that these things be handled at the committee seriously and temperately; wherein I wish that these four degrees of questions were handled in order.
First, whether we shall do any thing at all in it, or pass by it, and let it sleep?
Secondly, whether we shall enter into a particular examination of it P
Thirdly, whether we shall content ourselves with some entry or protestation among ourselves?
And fourthly, whether we shall proceed to a message to the king; and what?
Thus I have told you my opinion. I know it had been more safe and politic to have been silent; but it is perhaps more honest and loving to speak. The old verse is, Nam nulli tacuisse nocet, nocet esse locutum. But by your leave, David saith, Silui a bonis, et dolor meus renovatus est. When a man speaketh, he may be wounded by others ; but if he holds his peace from good things he wounds himself. So I have done my part, and leave it to you to do that which you shall judge to be the best.
HIS LORDSHIP'S SPEECH
IN THE PARLIAMENT,
BEING LORD CHANCELLOR,
THE SPEAKER'S EXCUSE.
Mr. Serjeant Richardson,
The king hath heard and observed your grave and decent speech, tending to the excuse and disablement of yourself for the place of Speaker. In answer whereof, his Majesty hath commanded me to say to you, that he doth in no sort admit of the same.
First, Because if the party's own judgment should be admitted in case of elections, touching himself, it would follow, that the most confident and overweening persons would be received; and the most considerate men, and those that understand themselves best, would be rejected.
Secondly, His Majesty doth so much rely upon the wisdoms and discretions of those of the house of commons, that have chosen you with an unanimous consent, that his Majesty thinks not good to swerve from their opinion in that wherein themselves are principally interested.
Thirdly, You have disabled yourself in so good and decent a fashion, as the manner of your speech hath destroyed the matter of it.
And therefore the king doth allow Of the election, and admit you for speaker.
TO THE SPEAKER'S ORATION.
The king hath heard and observed your eloquent discourse, containing much good matter, and much good will: wherein you must expect from me such an answer only as is pertinent to the occasion, and compassed by due respect of time.
I may divide that which you have said into four parts.
The first was a commendation, or laudative of monarchy.
The second was indeed a large field, containing a thankful acknowledgment of his Majesty's benefits, attributes, and acts of government.
The third was some passages touching the institution and use of parliaments.
The fourth and last was certain petitions to his Majesty on the behalf of the house and yourself.
For your commendation of monarchy, and preferring it before other estates, it needs no answer: the schools may dispute it; but time hath tried it, and we find it to be the best. Other states have curious frames soon put out of order: and they that are made fit to last, are not commonly fit to grow or spread: and contrariwise those that are made fit to spread and enlarge, are not fit to continue and endure. But monarchy is like a work of nature, well composed both to grow and continue. From this I pass.
For the second part of your speech, wherein you did with no less truth than affection acknowledge the great felicity which we enjoy by his Majesty's reign and government, his Majesty hath commanded me to say unto you, that praises and thanksgivings he knoweth to be the true oblations of hearts and loving affections: but that whicli you offer him he will join with you, in offering it up to God, who is the author of all good; who knoweth also the uprightness of his heart; who he hopeth will continue and increase his blessings both upon himself and posterity, and likewise upon his kingdoms and the generations of them.
But I for my part must say unto you, as the Grecian orator said long since in the like case : " Solus dignus harum rerum laudator tempus;" Time is the only commender and encomiastic worthy of his Majesty and his government.
Why lime? For that in the revolution of so many years and ages, as have passed over this kingdom, notwithstanding, many noble and excellent effects were never produced until his Majesty's days, but have been reserved as proper and peculiar unto them.
And because this is no part of a panegyric, but merely story, and that they be so many articles of honour fit to be recorded, I will only mention them, extracting part of them out of that you, Mr. Speaker, have said; they be in number eight.
First, His Majesty is the first, as you noted it well, that hath laid lapis angularis, the corner-stone of these two mighty kingdoms of England and Scotland, and taken away the wall of separation: whereby his Majesty is become the monarch of fhe most puissant and military nntions of the world;
and, if one of the ancient wise men was not deceived, iron commands gold.
Secondly, The plantation and reduction to civility of Ireland, the second island of the ocean Atlantic, did by God's providence wait for his Majesty's times; being a work resembling indeed the works of the ancient heroes: no new piece of that kind in modern times.
Thirdly, This kingdom now first in his Majesty's times hath gotten a lot or portion in the new world by the plantation of Virginia and the Summer Islands. And certainly it is with the kingdoms on earth as it is in the kingdom of heaven : sometimes a grain of mustard-seed proves a great tree. ^Yho can tell?
Fourthly, His Majesty hath made that truth which was before titulary, in that he hath verified the style of Defender of the Faith: wherein his Majesty's pen hath been so happy, as though the deaf adder will not hear, yet he is charmed that he does not hiss. I mean in the graver sort of those that have answered his Majesty's writings.
Fifthly, It is most certain, that since the conqnest ye cannot assign twenty years, which is the time that his Majesty's reign now draws fast upon, of inward and outward peace. Insomuch, as the time of queen Elizabeth, of happy memory, and always magnified for a peaceable reign, was nevertheless interrupted the first twenty years with a rebellion in England; and both first and last twenty years with rebellions in Ireland. And yet I know, that his Miijesty will make good both his words, as well that of "Nemo me lacessit impune," as that other of " Beati pacifici."
Sixthly, That true and primitive office of kings, which is, to sit in the gate and to judge the people, was never performed in like perfection by any of the king's progenitors: whereby his Majesty hath showed himself to be lex loquens, and to sit upon the throne, not as a dumb statue, but as a speaking oracle.
Seventhly, For his Majesty's mercy, as you noted it well, show me a time wherein a king of this realm hath reigned almost twenty years, as I said, in his white robes without the blood of any peer of this kingdom: the axe turned once or twice towards a peer, but never struck.
Lastly, The flourishing of arts and sciences recreated by his Majesty's countenance and bounty, was never in that height, especially that art of arts, divinity; for that we may truly to God's great glory confess, that since the primitive times, there were never so many stars, for so the Scripture calleth them, in that firmament.
These things, Mr. Speaker, I have partly chosen out of your heap, and are so far from being vulgar, as they are in effect singular and proper to his Majesty and his times. So that I have made good, as I take it, my first assertion : that the only worthy commender of his Majesty is rime: which hath so set off his Majesty's merits by the shadow of comparison, as it passeth the lustre or commendation of words.
How then shall I conclude? Shall I say, "0 fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint?" No, for I see ye are happy in enjoying them, and happy again in knowing them. But [ will conclude this part with that saying, turned to the right hand: "Si gratum dixeris, omnia dixeris." Your gratitude contains in a word all that I can say to you touching this parliament.
Touching the third point of your speech, concerning parliaments, I shall need to say little : for there was never that honour done to the institution of parliament, that his Majesty did it in his last speech, making it in effect the perfection of monarchy; for that although monarchy was the more ancient, and be independent, yet by the advice and assistance of parliament it is the stronger and the surer built.
And therefore I shall say no more of this point: but as you, Mr. Speaker, did well note, that when the king sits in parliament, and his prelates, peers, and commons attend him, he is in the exaltation of his orb; so I wish things may be so carried, that he may be then in greatest serenity and benignity of aspect; shining upon his people both in glory and grace. Now you know well, that the shining of the sun fair upon the ground, whereby all things exhilarate and do fructify, is either hindered by clouds above or mists below ; perhaps by brambles and briers that grow upon the ground itself. All which I hope at this time will be dispelled and removed.
I come now to the last part of your speech, concerning the petitions: but before I deliver his Majesty's answer respectively in particular, I am to speak to you some few words in general; wherein, in effect, I shall but glean, his Majesty having so excellently and fully expressed himself.
For that, that can be spoken pertinently, must be either touching the subject or matter of parliament business: or of the manner and carriage of the same; or lastly of the time, and the husbanding and marshalling of time.
For the matters to be handled in parliament, they are either of church, state, laws, or grievances.
For the first two, concerning church or state, ye have heard the king himself speak; and as the Scripture saith, " Who is he that in such things shall come after the king?" For the other two, I shall say somewhat, but very shortly.
For laws, they are things proper for your own element; and therefore therein ye are rather to lead than to be led. Only it is not amiss to put you in mind of two things; the one, that ye do not multiply or accumulate laws more than ye need. There is a wise and learned civilian that applies the curse of the prophet, "Pluet super eos laqueos," to multiplicity of laws: for they do but insnare and entangle the people. I wish rather, that ye should either revive good laws that are fallen and discontinued, or provide against the slack execution of laws w hich are already in force; or meet with the subtile evasions from laws which time and craft hath undermined, than to make novas creaturas legum, laws upon a new mould.
The other point, touching laws, is, that ye busy not yourselves too much in private bills, except it be in cases wherein the help and arm of ordinary justice is too short.
For grievances, his Majesty hath with great grace and benignity opened himself. Nevertheless, the limitations, which may make up your grievances not to beat the air only, but to sort to a desired effect, are principally two. The one, to use his Majesty's term, that ye do not hunt after grievances, such as may seem rather to be stirred here when ye are met, than to have sprung from th desires of the country: ye are to represent the people; ye are not to personate them.
The other, that ye do not heap up grievances, as if numbers should make a show where the weight is small; or, as if all things amiss, like Plato's commonwealth, should be remedied at once. It is certain, that the best governments, yea, and the best men, are like the best precious stones, wherein every flaw or icicle or grain are seen and noted more than in those that are generally foul and corrupted.
Therefore contain yourselves within that moderation as may appear to bend rather to the effectual ease of the people, than to a discursive envy, or scandal upon the state.
As for the manner of carriage of parliament business, ye must know, that ye deal with a king that hath been longer king than any of you have been parliament men; and a king that is no less sensible of forms than of matter; and is as far from enduring diminution of majesty, as from regarding flattery or vain-glory; and a king that understandeth as well the pulse of the hearts of people as his own orb. And therefore, both let your grievances have a decent and reverent form and style; and to use the words of former parliaments, let them be tanquam gemitus colunibce, without pique or harshness: and on the other side, in that ye do for the king, let it have a mark of unity, alacrity, and affection; which will be of this force, that whatsoever ye do in substance, will be doubled in reputation abroad, as in a crystal glass.
For the time, if ever parliament was to be measured by the hour-glass it is this; in regard of the instant occasion flying away irrecoverably. Therefore let your speeches in the house be the speeches of counsellors, and not of orators; let your committees tend to despatch, not to dispute; and so marshal the times as the public business, especially the proper business of the parliament, be put first, and private bills be put last, as time shall give leave, or within the spaces of the public.
For the four petitions, his Majesty is pleased to grant them all as liberally as the ancient and true custom of parliament doth warrant, and with the cautions that have ever gone with them; that is to say, That the privilege be not used for defrauding of creditors and defeating of ordinary justice: that liberty of speech turn not into licence, but be joined with that gravity and discretion, as may taste of duty and love to your sovereign, reverence to your own assembly, and respect to the matters ye handle: that your accesses be at such fit times, as may stand best with his Majesty's pleasure and occasions: that mistakings and misunderstandings be rather avoided and prevented, as much as may be, than salved or cleared.