Page images


Rawley's LXXX. To the Lord Chancellor, Sir T. EGERTON, Lord Ellesmere, on the same subject.


Sir Tobie
Collection of
letters, p.


May it please your good Lordship,

I HUMBLY present your lordship with a work, wherein as you have much commandment over the author, so your lordship hath great interest in the argument: for, to speak without flattery, few have like use of learning, or like judgment in learning, as I have observed in your lordship. And again, your lordship hath been a great planter of learning, not only in those places in the Church, which have been in your own gift, but also in your commendatory vote, no man hath more constantly held Detur digniori: and therefore, both your lordship is beholding to learning, and learning beholding to you: which maketh me presume with good assurance that your lordship will accept well of these my labours; the rather because your lordship in private speech hath often begun to me in expressing your admiration of his majesty's learning, to whom I have dedicated this work; and whose virtue and perfection in that kind did chiefly move me to a work of this nature. And so with signification of my most humble duty and affection to your lordship, I remain. 1605.



I PERCEIVE you have some time when you can be content to think of your friends; from whom since you have borrowed yourself, you do well, not paying the principal, to send the interest at six months day. The relation which here I send you inclosed, carries the truth of that which is public: and though my little leisure might have required a briefer, yet the matter would have endured and asked a larger.

I have now at last taught that child to go, at the swadling whereof you were. My work touching the proficiency and advancement of learning, I have put

into two books: whereof the former, which you saw, I can't but account as a page to the latter. I have now published them both; whereof I thought it a small adventure to send you a copy, who have more right to it than any man, except bishop Andrews, who was my inquisitor.

The death of the late great judge concerned not me, because the other was not removed. I write this in answer to your good wishes; which I return not as flowers of Florence, but as you mean them; whom I conceive place can't alter, no more than time shall me, except it be for the better. 1605.


LXXXII. To Dr. PLAYFERE, desiring him to Rawley's translate the Advancement into Latin.

Mr. Dr. Playfere,

Resuscita tio.

A GREAT desire will take a small occasion to hope and put in trial that which is desired. It pleased you a good while since to express unto me the good liking which you conceived of my book of the advancement of learning; and that more significantly, as it seemed to me, than out of courtesy or civil respect. Myself, as I then took contentment in your approbation thereof, so I should esteem and acknowledge not only my contentment increased, but my labours advanced, if I might obtain your help in that nature which I desire: wherein, before I set down in plain terms my request unto you, I will open myself, what it was which I chiefly sought and propounded to myself in that work; that you may perceive that which I now desire, to be pursuant thereupon. If I do not much err, for any judgment that a man maketh of his own doings, had need be spoken with a Sinunquam fallat imago,* I have * Vir. Ecl. this opinion, that if I had sought mine own commen-li. 27.. dation, it had been a much fitter course for me to have

3 Mr. Matthew wrote an elegy on the Duke of Florence's felicity. 4 Thomas Playfere, D. D. a native of Kent, educated in St. John's college in Cambridge, and appointed Margaret professor of divinity in that university about 1596, in the room of Dr. Peter Baro. He died there about January or February, 1608.

done as gardeners used to do, by taking their seed and slips, and rearing them first into plants, and so uttering them in pots, when they are in flower, and in their best state. But for as much as the end was merit of the state of learning, to my power, and not glory; and because my purpose was rather to excite other mens wits, than to magnify mine own, I was desirous to prevent the uncertainness of mine own life and times, by uttering rather seeds than plants: nay and farther, as the proverb is, by sowing with the basket rather than with the hand: wherefore, since I have only taken upon me to ring a bell to call other wits together, which is the meanest office, it cannot but be consonant to my desire, to have that bell heard as far as can be. And since they are but sparks which can work but upon matter prepared, I have the more reason to wish that those sparks may fly abroad, that they may the better find and light upon those minds and spirits which are apt to be kindled. And therefore the privateness of the language considered, wherein it is written, excluding so many readers; as, on the other side, the obscurity of the argument in many parts of it excludeth many others; I must account it a second birth of that work, if it might be translated into Latin, without manifest loss of the sense and matter. For this pur

pose I could not represent to myself any man into whose hands I do more earnestly desire that work should fall than yourself; for by that I have heard and read, I know no man a greater master in commanding words to serve matter. Nevertheless, I am not ignorant of the worth of your labours, whether such as your place and profession imposeth, or such as your own virtue may, upon your voluntary election, take in hand. But I can lay before you no other persuasions than either the work itself may affect you with; or the honour of his majesty, to whom it is dedicated; or your particular inclination to myself; who as I never took so much comfort in any labours of mine own, so I shall never acknowledge myself more obliged in any thing to the labours of another, than in that which shall assist it. Which your labour if I can by my

place, profession, means, friends, travel, work, deed, requite unto you, I shall esteem myself so straitly bound thereunto, as I shall be ever most ready both to take and seek occasion of thankfulness. So leaving it nevertheless salva amicitia, as reason is, to your good liking, I remain.

LXXXIII. To the Lord Chancellor, touching Rawley's the History of Britain.

It may please your good Lordship,



SOME late act of his majesty, referred to some former speech which I have heard from your lordship, bred in me a great desire, and the strength of desire a boldness to make an humble proposition to your lordship, such as in me can be no better than a wish:* but if your lordship should apprehend it, it * Thought. may take some good and worthy effect. The act I Matthew's speak of, is the order given by his majesty for the of letters. erection of a tomb or monument for our late sovereign queen Elizabeth: wherein I may note much, but only this at this time, that as her majesty did always right to his majesty's hopes, so his highness doth in all things right to her memory; a very just and princely retribution. But from this occasion, by a very easy ascent, I passed farther, being put in mind, by this representative of her person, of the more true and more vive representation, which is of her life and government: for as statues and pictures are dumb histories, so histories are speaking pictures; wherein if my affection be not too great, or my reading too small, I am of this opinion, that if Plutarch were alive to write lives by parallels, it would trouble him both for virtue and fortune, to find for her a parallel amongst women. And though she was of the passive sex, yet her government was so active, as, in my simple opinion, it made more impression upon the several states of Europe, than it received from thence. But I confess unto your lordship I could not stay here,

The monument here spoken of was erected in King Henry VII's chapel at Westminster, in the year 1606.

[ocr errors]

p. 83.

but went a little farther into the consideration of the times which have passed since king Henry VIII; wherein I find the strangest variety, that in so little number of successions of any hereditary monarchy hath ever been known. The reign of a child; the offer of an usurpation, though it was but as a diary ague; the reign of a lady married to a foreigner; and the reign of a lady solitary and unmarried; so that as it cometh to pass in massy bodies, that they have certain trepidations and wavering before they fix and settle; so it seemeth that by the providence of God this monarchy, before it was to settle in his majesty, and his generations, in which I hope it is now established for ever, hath had these prelusive changes in these barren princes. Neither could I contain myself here, as it is easier for a man to multiply than to stay a wish, but calling to remembrance the unworthiness of the history of England, in

6 The unworthiness of the history of England hath been long complained of by ingenious men, both of this and other nations. Sir Francis Bacon hath expressed himself much to the same effect, though more at large in his second book of the advancement of learnVol. I. ing:* where he carries this period of remarkable events somewhat higher than in this letter, beginning with the union of the roses under Henry VII. and ending with the union of the kingdoms under King James. A portion of time filled with so great and variable accidents both in Church and state, and since so well discovered to the view of the world, that had other parts the same performance, we should not longer lie under any reproach of this kind. The reign of King Henry VII. was written by our author soon after his retirement, with so great beauty of style, and wisdom of observation, that nothing can be more entertaining; the truth of history not being disguised with the false colours of romance, It was so acceptable a present to the P. of Wales, that when he became king, he commanded him to proceed with the reign of King Henry VIII. But my lord Bacon meditating the history of nature, which he hardly lived to publish; his ill state of health, and succeeding death, put an end to this and other noble designs: leaving the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of those times to be related by the learned pens of Dr. Burnet, notwithstanding the objections of the avowed enemies, and seeming friends to the reformation, and the lord Herbert of Cherbury; that I think there is not much of moment to be expected from a future hand. And for the annals of Queen Elizabeth compiled by Mr. Camden, the esteem of them is as universal as the language in which they are written. Nor must I forget in this place to take notice of two fair and large volumes lately published in French by Monsieur de Larrey; where building upon the foundations laid by these gen

« PreviousContinue »