Page images

is condemned for the highest treason that can be imagined; and, how, by God's marvellous goodness, her majesty hath been preserved. And, surely, if a man do truly consider, it is hard to say, whether God hath done greater things by her majesty or for her: if you observe on the one side, how God hath ordained her government to break and cross the unjust ambition of the two mighty potentates, the King of Spain and the Bishop of Rome, never so straitly between themselves combined and, on the other side, how mightily God hath protected her, both against foreign invasion and inward troubles, and singularly against the many secret conspiracies that have been made against her life; thereby declaring to the world

that he will indeed preserve that instrument which he hath magnified. But the corruptions of these times are wonderful, when that wars, which are the highest trials of right between princes, that acknowledge no superior jurisdiction, and ought to be prosecuted with all honour, shall be stained and infamed with such foul and inhuman practices. Wherein if so great a king hath been named, the rule of the civil law, which is a rule of common reason, must be remembered; "Frustra legis auxilium implorat, qui in legem committit." He that hath sought to violate the majesty royal, in the highest degree, cannot claim the pre-eminence thereof to be exempted from just imputation.

T 2







-Fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint.

greatness which are more solid and principal, though in popular discourse less observed: and incidently by making a brief application, in both these parts, of the general principles and positions of policy unto the state and condition of these your kingdoms. Of these the former part will branch itself into these articles.

THE greatness of kingdoms and dominions in than they are, but rather, as by an instrument of bulk and territory doth fall under measure and art, helping the sense to take a true magnitude demonstration that cannot err: but the just mea- and dimension: therefore, I will use no hidden sure and estimate of the forces and power of an order, which is fitter for insinuations than sound estate is a matter, than the which there is nothing proofs, but a clear and open order. First, by among civil affairs more subject to error, nor confuting the errors, or rather correcting the that error more subject to perilous consequence. excesses of certain immoderate opinions, which For hence may proceed many inconsiderate ascribe too much to some points of greatness, attempts, and insolent provocations in states which are not so essential, and by reducing those that have too high an imagination of their own points to a true value and estimation: then by forces and hence may proceed, on the other propounding and confirming those other points of side, a toleration of many fair grievances and indignities, and a loss of many opportunities, in states that are not sensible enough of their own strength. Therefore, that it may the better appear what greatness your majesty hath obtained of God, and what greatness this island hath obtained by you, and what greatness it is, that by the gracious pleasure of Almighty God you shall leave and transmit to your children and generations as the first founder; I have thought good, as far as I can comprehend, to make a true survey and representation of the greatness of this your kingdom of Britain; being for mine own part persuaded, that the supposed prediction, 66 Video solem orientem in occidente," may be no less a true vision applied to Britain, than to any other kingdom of Europe; and being out of doubt that none of the great monarchies, which in the memory of times have risen in the habitable world, had so fair seeds and beginnings as hath this your estate and kingdom, whatsoever the event shall be, which must depend upon the dispensation of God's will and providence, and his blessing upon your descendants. And because I have no purpose vainly or assentatorily to represent this greatness, as in water, which shows things bigger

First, That in the measuring or balancing of
greatness, there is commonly too much
ascribed to largeness of territory.
Secondly, That there is too much ascribed to
treasure or riches.

Thirdly, That there is too much ascribed to the
fruitfulness of the soil, or affluence of com-

And, fourthly, That there is too much ascribed to the strength and fortification of towns or holds. The latter will fall into this distribution: First, That true greatness doth require a fit situation of the place or region.

Secondly, That true greatness consisteth essentially in population and breed of men. Thirdly, That it consisteth also in the valour and military disposition of the people it breedeth and in this, that they make profession of arms.

Fourthly, That it consisteth in this point, that
every common subject by the poll be fit to
make a soldier, and not only certain condi-
tions or degrees of men.
Fifthly, That it consisteth in the temper of the
government fit to keep the subjects in good
heart and courage, and not to keep them in
the condition of servile vassals.

ways trouble a sound resolution. And those that are conversant attentively in the histories of those times, shall find that this purchase which Alexander made and compassed, was offered by fortune twice before to others, though by accident they went not through with it; namely, to Agesi. laus, and Jason of Thessaly: for Agesilaus, after he had made himself master of most of the low

And, sixthly, That it consisteth in the com- provinces of Asia, and had both design and commandment of the sea.

And let no man so much forget the subject propounded, as to find strange, that here is no mention of religion, laws, or policy. For we speak of that which is proper to the amplitude and growth of states, and not of that which is common to their preservation, happiness, and all other points of well-being. First, therefore, touching largeness of territories, the true greatness of kingdoms upon earth is not without some analogy with the kingdom of heaven, as our Saviour describes it; which he doth resemble, not to any great kernel or nut, but to one of the least grains; but yet such a one, as hath a property to grow and spread. For as for large countries and multitude of provinces, they are many times rather matters of burden than of strength, as may manifestly appear both by reason and example. By reason thus. There be two manners of securing of large territories, the one by the natural arms of every province, and the other by the protecting arms of the principal estate, in which case commonly the provincials are held disarmed. So are there two dangers incident unto every estate, foreign invasion, and inward rebellion. Now, such is the nature of things, that these two remedies of estate do fall respectively into these two dangers, in case of remote provinces. For if such an estate rest upon the natural arms of the provinces, it is sure to be subject to rebellion or revolt; if upon protecting arms, it is sure to be weak against invasion: neither can this be avoided.

mission to invade the higher countries, was diverted and called home upon a war excited against his country by the states of Athens and Thebes, being incensed by their orators and counsellors, which were bribed and corrupted from Persia, as Agesilaus himself avouched pleasantly, when he said, That a hundred thousand archers of the King of Persia had driven him home: understanding it, because an archer was the stamp upon the Persian coin of gold. And Jason of Thessaly, being a man born to no greatness, but one that made a fortune of himself, and had obtained by his own vivacity of spirit, joined with the opportunities of time, a great army, compounded of voluntaries and adventurers, to the terror of all Græcia, that continually expected where that cloud would fall; disclosed himself in the end, that his design was for an expedition into Persia, the same which Alexander, not many years after achieved, wherein he was interrupted by a private conspiracy against his life, which took effect. So that it appeareth, as was said, that it was not any miracle of accident that raised the Macedonian monarchy, but only the weak composition of that vast state of Persia, which was prepared for a prey to the first resolute invader.

The second example that I will produce, is of the Roman empire, which had received no diminution in territory, though great in virtue and forces, till the time of Jovianus. For so it was alleged by such as opposed themselves to the rendering Nisibis upon the dishonourable retreat Now, for examples, proving the weakness of of the Roman army out of Persia. At which time states possessed of large territories, I will use it was avouched, that the Romans, by the space only two, eminent and selected. The first shall of eight hundred years, had never, before that be of the kingdom of Persia, which extended day, made any cession or renunciation to any part from Egypt, inclusive, unto Bactria, and the of their territory, whereof they had once had a conborders of the East India; and yet, nevertheless, stant and quiet possession. And yet, neverthewas overrun and conquered, in the space of seven less, immediately after the short reign of Jovianus, years, by a nation not much bigger than this isle and towards the end of the joint reign of Valenof Britain, and newly grown into name, having tinianus and Valens, which were his immediate been utterly obscure till the time of Philip, the son successors, and much more in the times succeedof Amyntas. Neither was this effected by any ing, the Roman empire, notwithstanding the rare or heroical prowess in the conqueror, as is magnitude thereof, became no better than a vulgarly conceived, for that Alexander the Great carcase, whereupon all the vultures and birds of goeth now for one of the wonders of the world; prey of the world did seize and ravine for many for those that have made a judgment grounded ages, for a perpetual monument of the essential upon reason of estate, do find that conceit to be difference between the scale of miles, and the merely popular; for so Livy pronounceth of him, scale of forces. And, therefore, upon these rea"Nihil aliud quam bene ausus vana contemnere." sons and examples, we may safely conclude, that Wherein he judgeth of vastness of territory as a largeness of territory is so far from being a thing vanity that may astonish a weak mind, but no inseparable from greatness of power, as it is

many times contrariant and incompatible with the same. But to make a reduction of that error to a truth, it will stand thus, that then greatness of territory addeth strength, when it hath these four conditions:

First, That the territories be compacted, and not dispersed.

Secondly, That the region which is the heart and seat of the state, be sufficient to support those parts, which are but provinces and additions.

Thirdly, That the arms or martial virtue of the state be in some degree answerable to the greatness of dominion.

And, lastly, That no part or province of the state be utterly unprofitable, but do confer some use or service to the state. The first of these is manifestly true, and scarcely needeth any explication. For if there be a state that consisteth of scattered points instead of lines, and slender lines instead of latitudes, it can never be solid, and in the solid figure is strength. But what speak we of mathematical principles? The reason of state is evident, that if the parts of an estate be disjoined and remote, and so be interrupted with the provinces of another sovereignty; they cannot possibly have ready succours in case of invasion, nor ready suppression in case of rebellion, nor ready recovery, in case of loss or alienation by either of both means. And, therefore, we see what an endless work the King of Spain hath had to recover the Low Countries, although it were to him patrimony and not purchase; and that chiefly in regard of the great distance. So we see that our nation kept Calais a hundred years space after it lost the rest of France, in regard of the near situation; and yet in the end they that were nearer carried it by surprise, and overran succour. Therefore Titus Quintius made a good comparison of the state of the Achaians to a tortoise, which is safe when it is retired within the shell, but if any part be put forth, then the part exposed endangereth all the rest. For so it is with states that have provinces dispersed, the defence whereof doth commonly consume and decay, and sometimes ruin the rest of the estate. And so, likewise, we may observe, that all the great monarchies, the Persians, the Romans, and the like of the Turks, they had not any provinces to the which they needed to demand access through the country of another: neither had they any long races or narrow angles of territory, which were environed or clasped in with foreign states; but their dominions were continued and entire, and had thickness and squareness in their orb or contents. But these things are without contradiction.

For the second, concerning the proportion between the principal region, and those which are but secondary, there must evermore distinction be mnade between the body or stem of the tree, and

the boughs and branches. For if the top be over great, and the stalk too slender, there can be no strength. Now, the body is to be accounted so much of an estate, as is not separated or distinguished with any mark of foreigners, but is united specially with the bond of naturalization; and therefore we see that when the state of Rome grew great, they were enforced to naturalize the Latins or Italians, because the Roman stem could not bear the provinces and Italy both as branches: and the like they were contented after to do to most of the Gauls. So, on the contrary part, we see in the state of Lacedæmon, which was nice in that point, and would not admit their confederates to be incorporate with them, but rested upon the natural-born subjects. of Sparta, how that a small time after they had embraced a larger empire, they were presently surcharged, in respect to the slenderness of the stem. For so in the defection of the Thebans and the rest against them, one of the principal revolters spake most aptly, and with great efficacy in the assembly of the associates, telling them, That the state of Sparta was like a river, which, after that it had run a great way, and taken other rivers and streams into it, ran strong and mighty, but about the head and fountain of it was shallow and weak; and therefore advised them to assail and invade the main of Sparta, knowing they should there find weak resistance either of towns or in the field of towns, because upon confidence of their greatness they fortified not upon the main; in the field, because their people was exhaust by garrisons and services far off. Which counsel proved sound, to the astonishment of all Græcia at that time.

For their protecting

For the third, concerning the proportion of the military forces of a state to the amplitude of empire, it cannot be better demonstrated than by the two first examples which we produced of the weakness of large territory, if they be compared within themselves according to difference of time. For Persia at a time was strengthened with large territory, and at another time weakened; and so was Rome. For while they flourished in arms, the largeness of territory was a strength to them, and added forces, added treasures, added reputation: but when they decayed in arms, then greatness became a burden. forces did corrupt, supplant, and enervate the natural and proper forces of all their provinces, which relied and depended upon the succours and directions of the state above. And when that waxed impotent and slothful, then the whole state laboured with her own magnitude, and in the end fell with her own weight. And that, no question, was the reason of the strange inundations of people which both from the east and north-west overwhelmed the Roman empire in one age of the world, which a man upon the sudden would attribute to some constellation or fatal revolution

jects is able to master and wield far more territory than falleth to their lot. But that followeth to be spoken of in the proper place.

And, lastly, it must be confessed, that whatsoever part of your countries and regions shall be counted the meanest, yet is not inferior to those countries and regions, the people whereof some ages since overran the world. We see further by the uniting of the continent of this island, and

of time, being indeed nothing else but the declination of the Roman empire, which, having effeminated and made vile the natural strength of the provinces, and not being able to supply it by the strength imperial and sovereign, did, as a lure cast abroad, invite and entice all the nations adjacent, to make their fortunes upon her decays. And by the same reason, there cannot but ensue a dissolution to the state of the Turk, in regard of the largeness of empire, whensoever their martial the shutting up of the postern, as it was not virtue and discipline shall be further relaxed, unfitly termed, all entrance of foreigners is exwhereof the time seemeth to approach. For cluded: and we see again, that by the fit situation certainly like as great stature in a natural body is and configuration of the north of Scotland toward some advantage in youth, but is but burden in age; the north of Ireland, and the reputation, comso it is with great territory, which when a state modity, and terror thereof, what good effects beginneth to decline, doth make it stoop and have ensued for the better quieting of the troubles buckle so much the faster. of Ireland. And so we conclude this first branch touching largeness of territory.

For the fourth and last, it is true, that there is to be required and expected, as in the parts of a body, so in the members of a state, rather propriety of service, than equality of benefit. Some provinces are more wealthy, some more populous, and some more warlike; some situated aptly for the excluding or expulsing of foreigners, and some for the annoying and bridling of suspected and tumultuous subjects; some are profitable in present, and some may be converted and improved to profit by plantations and good policy. And, therefore, true consideration of estate can hardly find what to reject, in matter of territory, in any empire, except it be some glorious acquests obtained some time in the bravery of wars, which cannot be kept without excessive charge and trouble; of which kind were the purchases of King Henry VIII., that of Tournay; and that of Bologne; and of the same kind are infinite other the like examples almost in every war, which for the most part upon treaties of peace are restored. Thus have we now defined where the largeness of territory addeth true greatness, and where not. The application of these positions unto the particular or supposition of this your majesty's kingdom of Britain, requireth few words. For, as I professed in the beginning, I mean not to blazon or amplify, but only to observe and express


First, Your majesty's dominion and empire comprehendeth all the islands of the north-west ocean, where it is open, until you come to the imbarred or frozen sea, towards Iceland; in all which tract it hath no intermixture or interposition of any foreign land, but only of the sea, whereof you are also absolutely master.

Secondly, The quantity and content of these countries is far greater than have been the principal or fundamental regions of the greatest monarchies, greater than Persia proper, greater than Macedon, greater than Italy. So as here is potentially body and stem enough for Nabuchodonosor's tree, if God should have so ordained.

Thirdly, The prowess and valour of your sub-
VOL. II.-29

THE second article was,

That there is too much ascribed to treasure or riches in the balancing of greatness. Wherein no man can be ignorant of the idolatry that is generally committed in these degenerate times to money, as if it could do all things public and private: but leaving popular errors, this is likewise to be examined by reason and examples, and such reason as is no new conceit or invention, but hath formerly been discerned by the sounder sort of judgments. For we see that Solon, who was no contemplative wise man, but a statesman and a lawgiver, used a memorable censure to Croesus, when he showed him great treasures, and store of gold and silver that he had gathered, telling him, that whensoever another should come that had better iron than he, he would be master of all his gold and silver. Neither is the authority of Machiavel to be despised, specially in a matter whereof he saw the evident experience before his eyes, in his own times and country, who derideth the received and current opinion and principle of estate taken first from a speech of Mutianus, the lieutenant of Vespasian, That money was the sinews of war; affirming, that it is a mockery, and that there are no other true sinews of war, but the sinews and muscles of men's arms: and that there never was any war, wherein the more valiant people had to deal with the more wealthy, but that the war, if it were well conducted, did nourish and pay itself. And had he not reason so to think, when he saw a needy and ill-provided army of the French, though needy rather by negligence, than want of means, as the French manner oftentimes is, make their passage only by the reputation of their swords by their sides undrawn, through the whole length of Italy, at that time abounding in wealth after a long peace, and that without resistance, and to seize and leave what countries and places it pleased them? But it was not the experience of that time alone, but the records of all times that do concur to falsify that conceit, that wars are

« PreviousContinue »