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sorts; invasive, repulsive of invasion, open and declared, covert and underhand, by sea, by land, Scottish, French, Spanish, succors, protections, new and extraordinary kinds of confederacies with subjects. Generally without question the state of this nation never had a larger reach to import the universal affairs of Europe; as that which was in the former part of the time the counterpoise between France and Spain, and in the latter the only encounter and opposition against Spain. Add hereunto the new discoveries and navigations abroad, the new provisions of laws and precedents of state at home, and the accidents memorable both of state and of court; and there will be no doubt but the times which I have chosen are of all former times of this nation [the fittest ] to be registered; if it be not in this respect, that they be of too fresh memory, which point I know very well will be a prejudice, as if this story were written in favour of the time present. But it shall suffice unto me, without betraying mine own name and memory or the liberty of a history, to procure this commendation to the time with posterity, namely, that a private man living in the same time should not doubt to publish an history of the time. which should not carry any show or taste at all of flattery; a point noted for an infallible demonstration of a good time.

King Henry, the seventh of that name, after he had lived about fifty-two years, and thereof reigned twenty-three and some months, deceased of a consumption the 22nd day of April, in the palace which he had built at Ritchemount, in the year of our Redemption 1509.2 This king attained unto the crown, not only from a private fortune, which mought endow him with moderation, but also from the fortune of an exiled man, which had quickened in him all seeds of observation and industry. His times were rather prosperous than calm, for he was assailed with many troubles, which he overcame happily; a matter that did no less set forth his wisdom than his fortune; and yet such a wisdom as seemed rather a dexterity to deliver himself from dangers when they pressed him, than any deep foresight to prevent them afar off. Jealous he was over the greatness of his Nobility, as remembering how himself was set up. And much

These words are supplied from the Cabala.

2 Both the MS. and the copy in the Cabala have 1504: an error probably of the transcriber: 4 carelessly written being very like 9.


more did this humour increase in him after he had conflicted with such idols and counterfeits as were Lambert Symnell and Perkin Warbeck: the strangeness of which dangers made him think nothing safe. Whereby he was forced to descend to the employment of secret espials and suborned conspirators, a necessary remedy against so dark and subtle practices; and not to be reprehended, except it were true which some report, that he had intelligence with confessors for the revealing of matters disclosed in confession. And yet if a man compare him with the kings his concurrents in France and Spain, he shall find him more politic than Lewis the Twelfth of France, and more entire and sincere than Ferdinando of Spain, upon whom notwithstanding he did handsomely bestow the envy of the death of Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick. Great and devout reverence he bare unto religion, as he that employed ecclesiastical men in most of his affairs and negotiations; and as he that was brought hardly and very late to the abolishing of the privilege of sanctuaries in case of treason, and that not before he had obtained it by way of suit from Pope Alexander; which sanctuaries nevertheless had been the forges of most of his troubles. In his government he was led by none, scarcely by his laws, and yet he was a great observer of formality in all his proceedings, which notwithstanding was no impediment to the working of his will; and in the suppressing and punishing of the treasons which during the whole course of his reign were committed against him, he had a very strange kind of interchanging of very large and unexpected pardons with severe executions; which (his wisdom considered) could not be imputed to any inconstancy or inequality, but to a discretion, or at least to a principle that he had apprehended, that it was good not obstinately to pursue one course, but to try both ways. In his wars, he seemed rather confident than enterprising, by which also commonly he was not the poorer; but generally he did seem inclinable to live in peace, and made but offers of war to mend the conditions of peace; and in the quenching of the commotions of his subjects he was ever ready to achieve those wars in person, sometimes reserving himself, but never retiring himself, but as ready to second. Of nature he coveted to accumulate treasure, which the people (into whom there is infused for the preservation of monarchies a natural desire to discharge their princes, though it be with the unjust charge of

their counsellors and ministers,) did impute unto Cardinal Morton and Sir Reignold Bray, who (as it after appeared) as counsellors of ancient authority with him, did so second his humour as they tempered and refrained it. Whereas Empson and Dudley that followed (being persons that had no reputation with him, otherwise than the servile following of his own humour) gave him way and shaped him way to those extremities, wherewith himself was touched with remorse at his death, and which his successor disavowed. In expending of treasure he never spared charge that his affairs required, and in his foundations was magnificent enough, but his rewards were very limited; so that his liberality was rather upon his own state and memory than towards the deserts of others. He chose commonly to employ cunning persons, as he that knew himself sufficient to make use of their uttermost reaches, without danger of being abused with them himself.

Here the MS., which is in a fair Roman hand, carefully written and punctuated, ends in the middle of the page, without any remark, and without any appearance of being finished,just as if the transcriber had left off at the end of a sentence, intending to go on. I have no reason however to suppose that Bacon proceeded any further with the work. His increasing business as a lawyer, and perhaps also an increasing apprehension of the magnitude of his undertakings in philosophy, led him probably to relinquish it. The fragment remains however to show that his conception of the character of Henry in all its principal features was formed in his earlier life and under another sovereign; and therefore if it stands in need of excuse, we must seek for it elsewhere than in the circumstances suggested by Sir James Mackintosh. For my own part, I am satisfied with the conjecture that he thought it the true conception.








Printed by W. Stansby, for Matthew Lownes and William Barret.


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