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known, is much more thought of than the moral worth of his ancestors. And it is curious that a person of so exceptionable a character, that no one would like to have had him for a father, may confer a kind of dignity on his great-great-great-grand children. An instance has been known of persons, who were the descendants of a celebrated and prominent character in the Civil War, and who was one of the Regicides, being themselves zealous royalists, and professing to be ashamed of their ancestor. And it is likely that if he were now living, they would renounce all intercourse with him. Yet it may be doubted whether they would not feel mortified if any one should prove to them that they had been under a mistake, and that they were in reality descended from another person, a respectable but obscure individual, not at all akin to the celebrated regicide.
It was a remark by a celebrated man, himself a gentleman born, but with nothing of nobility, that the difference between a man with a long line of noble ancestors, and an upstart, is that 'the one knows for certain, what the other only conjectures as highly probable, that several of his forefathers deserved hanging. Yet it is certain, though strange, that generally speaking, the supposed upstart would rather have this very thing a certainty-provided there were some great and celebrated exploit in question—than left to conjecture. If he were to discover that he could trace up his descent distinctly to a man, who had deserved hanging, for robbing—not a traveller of his purse, but a king of his empire, or a neighbouring State of a province,-he would be likely to make no secret of it, and even to be better pleased, inwardly, than if he had made out a long line of ancestors who had been very honest farmers.
The happiest lot for a man, as far as birth is concerned, is that it should be such as to give him but little occasion ever to think much about it; which will be the case, if it be neither too high nor too low for his existing situation. Those who have sunk much below, or risen much above, what suits their birth, are apt to be uneasy, and consequently touchy. The one feels ashamed of his situation; the other of his ancestors and other relatives. A nobleman's or gentleman's son, or grandson, feels degraded by waiting at table, or behind a counter; and a member of a liberal profession is apt to be ashamed of his father's having done so; and both are apt to take offence readily, i unless they are of a truly magnanimous character. It was remarked by a celebrated person, a man of a gentleman's family, and himself a gentleman by station, I have often thought that if I had risen like A. B., from the very lowest of the people, by my own honourable exertions, I should have rather felt proud of so great a feat, than like him, sore and touchy; but I suppose I must be mistaken; for I observe that the far greater part of those who are so circumstanced, have just the opposite feeling.
The characters, however, of true inward nobility are ashamed of nothing but base conduct, and are not ready to take offence at supposed affronts ; because they keep clear of whatever deserves contempt, and consider what is undeserved as beneath their notice.
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 cæcos instare tumultus
Sæpe monet, fraudesque et operta tumescere 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 deorum,
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 feminineespecially 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, seu male, gesta premunt." 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; for the despising of them many times checks
1 Equinoctia. Equinoxes.
* He often warns of dark fast-coming tumults, hidden fraud, and open warfare, swelling proud.'-Virgil, Georg. i. 465. • Virg. En, iv, 179.
* Enraged against the Gods, revengeful Earth
Produced her, last of the Titanian birth.'-Dryden. * Fames. Reports ; rumours. The fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come.'—Genesis xlv, 16.
• Plausible. Laudable ; deserving of applause. See page 94.
6 • Great envy being excited, they condemn acts, whether good or bad.' (Quoted probably from memory.)-Tac. Ilist. i. 7.
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: “Errant 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 assays 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, 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. 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 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”
There is a law in our Statute Book against Slanderous Reports and Tales to cause Discord between King and People'-Anno 5 Edward I., Westminster Primer, c. xxxi.
2.They were in attendance on their duties, yet preferred putting their own con. struction 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
Would tempt his guest to make thereof assay.'-Spenser. • Common. Serving for all. The Book of Common Prayer.
• 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 them. And it came to pass in every of them.'— Apocrypha, 2 Esdras ii. 10.
? More freely than is consistent with remembering the rulers.'
-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 fænus,
Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum.” 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 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:
1. I will loose the bond of kings.'-Job xii. 18.
2. Hence usury voracious, and eager for the time of interest; 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.)