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SPEECHES.

A SPEECH

MADE BY

SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,

CHOSEN BY THE COMMONS TO PRESENT

A PETITION TOUCHING PURVEYORS.

DELIVERED TO HIS MAJESTY IN THE WITHDRAWING-CHAMBER AT WHITEHALL,

IN THE PARLIAMENT HELD PRIMO ET SECUNDO JACOBI, THE FIRST SESSION.

a question of law; and the other so high a cause of estate, that, as the Scripture saith of the wisest king, "that his heart was as the sands of the sea;" which, though it be one of the largest and vastest bodies, yet it consisteth of the smallest motes and portions; so, I say, it appeareth unto us in these two examples, that God hath given your majesty a rare sufficiency, both to compass and fathom the greatest matters, and to discern the least. And for matter of praise and commendation, which chiefly belongeth to goodness, we cannot but with great thankfulness profess, that your majesty, within the circle of one year of your reign, "infra orbem anni vertentis," hath endeavoured to unite your church, which was divided; to supply your nobility, which was diminished; and to ease your people in cases where they were burdened and oppressed.

It is well known to your majesty, excellent | Francis Goodwin, and that of the union; whereby, king, that the Emperors of Rome, for their better it seemeth unto us, the one of these being so subtle glory and ornament, did use in their titles the additions of the countries and nations where they had obtained victories; as "Germanicus, Britannicus," and the like. But after all those names, as in the higher place, followed the name of " pater patriæ," as the greatest name of all human honour, immediately preceding that name of Augustus; whereby they took themselves to express some affinity that they had, in respect of their office, with divine honour. Your majesty might, with good reason, assume to yourself many of those other names; as " Germanicus, Saxonicus, Britannicus, Francicus, Danicus, Gothicus," and others, as appertaining to you not by bloodshed, as they bare them, but by blood; your majesty's royal person being a noble confluence of streams and veins, wherein the royal blood of many kingdoms of Europe are met and united. But no name is more worthy of you, nor may more truly be ascribed unto you, than that name of father of your people, which you bear and express not in the formality of your style, but in the real course of your government. We ought not to say unto you, as was said to Julius Cæsar, "Quæ miremur, habemus; quæ laudemus, expectamus:" that we have already wherefore to admire you, and that now we expect somewhat for which to commend you; for we may, without suspicion of flattery, acknowledge, that we have found in your majesty great cause both of admiration and commendation. For great is the admiration, wherewith you have possessed us since this parliament began, in those two causes wherein we have had access unto you, and heard your voice; that of the return of Sir

In the last of these your high merits, that is, the ease and comfort of your people, doth fall out to be comprehended the message which I now bring unto your majesty, concerning the great grievance arising by the manifold abuses of purveyors, differing in some degree from most of the things wherein we deal and consult; for it is true, that the knights, citizens, and burgesses, in parliament assembled, are a representative body of your Commons and third estate; and in many matters, although we apply ourselves to perform the trust of those that chose us, yet it may be, we do speak much out of our own senses and discourses. But in this grievance, being of that nature whereunto the poor people is most exposed, and men of quality less, we shall most humbly desire your

majesty to conceive, that your majesty doth not | name; for instead of takers, they become taxers; hear our opinions or senses, but the very groans instead of taking provision for your majesty's and complaints themselves of your Commons, more truly and vively, than by representation. For there is no grievance in your kingdom so general, so continual, so sensible, and so bitter unto the common subject, as this whereof we now speak; wherein it may please your majesty to vouchsafe me leave, first, to set forth unto you the dutiful and respective carriage of our proceeding; next, the substance of our petition; and, thirdly, some reasons and motives which in all humbleness we do offer to your majesty's royal consideration or commiseration; we assuring ourselves that never king reigned that had better notions of head, and motions of heart, for the good and comfort of his loving subjects.

For the first in the course of remedy which we desire, we pretend not, nor intend not, in any sort, to derogate from your majesty's prerogative, nor to touch, diminish, or question any of your majesty's regalities or rights. For we seek nothing but the reformation of abuses, and the execution of former laws whereunto we are born. And although it be no strange thing in parliament for new abuses to crave new remedies, yet, nevertheless, in these abuses, which, if not in nature, yet in extremity and height of them, are most of them new, we content ourselves with the old laws; only we desire a confirmation and quickening of them in their execution; so far are we from any humour of innovation or encroachment. As to the court of the green-cloth, ordained for the provision of your majesty's most honourable household, we hold it ancient, we hold it reverend. Other courts respect your politic person, but that respects your natural person. But yet, notwithstanding, most excellent king, to use that freedom which to subjects that pour out their griefs before so gracious a king, is allowable, we may very well allege unto your majesty a comparison or similitude used by one of the fathers* in another matter, and not unfitly representing our case in this point: and it is of the leaves and roots of nettles; the leaves are venomous and stinging where they touch; the root is not so, but is without venom or malignity; and yet it is that root that bears and supports all the leaves. This needs no farther application.

service, they tax your people "ad redimendam vexationem:" imposing upon them, and extorting from them, divers sums of money, sometimes in gross, sometimes in the nature of stipends annually paid, "ne noceant," to be freed and eased of their oppression. Again, they take trees, which by law they cannot do; timber trees, which are the beauty, countenance, and shelter of men's houses; that men have long spared from their own purse and profit; that men esteem, for their use and delight, above ten times the value; that are a loss which men cannot repair or recover. These do they take, to the defacing and spoiling of your subjects' mansions and dwellings, except they may be compounded with to their own appetites. And if a gentleman be too hard for them while he is at home, they will watch their time when there is but a bailiff or a servant remaining, and put the axe to the root of the tree, ere ever the master can stop it. Again, they use a strange and most unjust exaction, in causing the subjects to pay poundage of their own debts, due from your majesty unto them; so as a poor man, when he hath had his hay, or his wood, or his poultry, which perchance he was full loath to part with, and had for the provision of his own family, and not to put to sale, taken from him, and that not at a just price, but under the value, and cometh to receive his money, he shall have after the rate of twelve pence in the pound abated for poundage of his due payment, upon so hard conditions. Nay, farther, they are grown to that extremity, as is affirmed, though it be scarce credible, save that in such persons all things are credible, that they will take double poundage, once when the debenture is made, and again the second time when the money is paid.

For the second point, most gracious sovereign, touching the quantity which they take, far above that which is answered to your majesty's use: they are the only multipliers in the world; they have the art of multiplication. For it is affirmed unto me by divers gentlemen of good report, and experience in these causes, as a matter which I may safely avouch before your majesty, to whom we owe all truth, as well of information as subjection, that there is no pound profit which redoundeth to your majesty in this course, but induceth and begetteth three pound damage upon your subjects, besides the discontentment. And to the end they may make their spoil more securely, what do they? Whereas divers statutes do strictly provide, that whatsoever they take, shall be registered and attested, to the end that, by making a collation of that which is taken from the country, and that which is answered above, their deceits might appear; they, to the end to For the first of these, I am a little to alter their obscure their deceits, utterly omit the observation of this, which the law prescribeth.

To come now to the substance of our petition. It is no other, than by the benefit of your majesty's laws to be relieved of the abuses of purveyors; which abuses do naturally divide themselves into three sorts; the first, they take in kind that they ought not to take; the second, they take in quantity a far greater proportion than cometh to your majesty's use; the third, they take in an unlawful manner; in a manner, I say, directly and expressly prohibited by divers laws.

*St. Augustine.

And therefore to descend, if it may please your great enormities any aggravating, neither needeth majesty, to the third sort of abuse, which is of so great grace, as useth of itself to flow from the unlawful manner of their taking, whereof your majesty's princely goodness, any artificial this omission is a branch; and it is so manifold, persuading. There be two things only which I as it rather asketh an enumeration of some of the think good to set before your majesty; the one particulars, than a prosecution of all. For their the example of your most noble progenitors, kings price: by law they ought to take as they can of this realm, who, from the first king that enagree with the subject; by abuse they take an dowed this kingdom with the great charters of imposed and enforced price: by law they ought their liberties, until the last, all save one, who, as to make but one appraisement by neighbours in he was singular in many excellent things, so I the country; by abuse they make a second ap- would he had not been alone in this, have ordainpraisement at the court-gate; and when the sub-ed, every one of them in their several reigns, ject's cattle come up many miles lean, and out of plight, by reason of their great travel, then they prize them anew at an abated price: by law they ought to take between sun and sun; by abuse they take by twilight, and in the nighttime, a time well chosen for malefactors: by law they ought not to take in the highways, a place by your majesty's high prerogative protected, and by statute by special words excepted; by abuse they take in the ways, in contempt of your majesty's prerogative and laws: by law they ought to show their commission, and the form of commission is by law set down; the commissions they bring down, are against the law, and because they know so much, they will not show them. A number of other particulars there are, whereof as I have given your majesty a taste, so the chief of them upon deliberate advice are set down in writing by the labour of some committees, and approbation of the whole House, more particularly and lively than I can express them, myself having them at the second hand by reason of my abode above. But this writing is a collection of theirs who dwell amongst the abuses of these offenders, and the complaints of the people; and therefore must needs have a more perfect understanding of all the circumstances of them.

It remaineth only that I use a few words, the rather to move your majesty in this cause: a few words, I say, a very few; for neither need so

some laws or law against this kind of offenders; and especially the example of one of them, that king who, for his greatness, wisdom, glory, and union of several kingdoms, resembleth your ma jesty most, both in virtue and fortune, King Edward III., who, in his time only, made ten several laws against this mischief. The second is the example of God himself; who hath said and pronounced, "That he will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” For all these great misdemeanors are committed in and under your majesty's name: and therefore we hope your majesty will hold them twice guilty that commit these offences; once for the oppressing of the people, and once more for doing it under the colour and abuse of your majesty's most dreaded and beloved name. So then I will conclude with the saying of Pindarus, "Optima res aqua;” not for the excellency, but for the common use of it; and so, contrariwise, the matter of abuse of purveyance, if it be not the most heinous abuse, yet certainly it is the most common and general abuse of all others in this kingdom.

It resteth, that, according to the command laid upon me, I do in all humbleness present this writing to your majesty's royal hands, with most humble petition on the behalf of the Commons, that as your majesty hath been pleased to vouchsafe your gracious audience to hear me speak, so you would be pleased to enlarge your patience to hear this writing read, which is more material.

A SPEECH

DELIVERED BY THE KING'S ATTORNEY,

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; 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.

MR. SPEAKER,

[IN THE PARLIAMENT 12 JACOBI.]

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 thoroughly 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 tort of affection, and the fort of reason: the one

commands the hearts, and the other commands the heads; and others I know none. I think Æsop was a wise man that described the nature of the fly, that sat upon the spoke of the chariot wheel, and said to herself, "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.

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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.

selves 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 loath 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 thoroughly, 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 affection and confidence of his majesty towards his people; I say, that such a person doth rather merit well, than commit any error. Nay, further, if any man hath, out of his own good mind, given an opinion touching the minds 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 dryly 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, further, 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 prero

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:gative, retaining the substance and strength; and 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 a 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 them

to that purpose, like the good householder 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 may be 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 lights, and that it is no wooing tokens, but the true love already planted in the breast of the subjects, that will make them do for the king. And this is my opinion touching

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