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Sir Francis Bacon

Essay 15

Of Seditions And Troubles.
1 SHepheards of People, had need know the Kalenders of Tempests in State; which are commonly greatest, when Things grow to Equality; As Naturall Tempests are greatest about the AEquinoctia. And as there are certaine hollow Blasts of Winde, and secret Swellings of Seas, before a Tempest, so are there in States: ---Ille etiam coecos instare Tumultus Sæpe monet, Fraudesque, & operta tumescere Bella.
2 Libels, and licentious Discourses against the State, when they are frequent and open; And in like sort, false Newes, often running vp and downe, to the disaduantage of the State, and hastily embraced; are amongst the Signes of Troubles. Virgil giuing the Pedegre of Fame, saith, She was sister to the Giants Illam Terra Parens irâ irritata Deorum, Extremam ( vt perhibent ) Cæo Enceladoque sororem.    Progenuit. --- As if Fames were the Reliques of Seditions past; But they are no lesse, indeed, the preludes of Seditions to come. Howsoeuer, he noteth it right, that Seditious Tumults, and Seditious Fames, differ no more, but as Brother and Sister, Masculine and Feminine; Especially, if it come to that, that the best Actions of a State, and the most plausible, and which ought to giue greatest Contentment, are taken in ill Sense, and traduced: For that shewes the Enuy great, as Tacitus saith; Conflata magna Inuidia, seu benè, seu malè, gesta premunt. Neither doth it follow, that because these Fames, are a signe of Troubles, that the suppressing of them, with too much Seuerity, should be a Remedy of Troubles. For the Despising of them, many times, checks them best; and the Going about to stop them, doth but make a Wonder Long-liued. Also that kinde of Obedience, which Tacitus speaketh of, is to be held suspected; Erant in officio, sed tamen qui mallent mandata Imperantium interpretari quàm exequi; Disputing, Excusing, Cauilling vpon Mandates and Directions, is a kinde of shaking off the yoake, and Assay of disobedience: Especially, if in those disputings, they, which are for the direction, speake fearefully, and tenderly; And those that are against it, audaciously.
3 Also, as Macciauel noteth well; when Princes, that ought to be Common Parents, make themselues as a Party, and leane to a side, it is as a Boat that is ouerthrowen, by vneuen weight, on the one Side; As was well seen, in the time of Henry the third of France: For first, himselfe entred League for the Extirpation of the Protestants; and presently after, the same League was turned vpon Himselfe. For when the Authority of Princes, is made but an Accessary to a Cause; And that there be other Bands, that tie faster, then the Band of Soueraignty, Kings begin to be put almost out of Possession.
4 Also, when Discords, and Quarrells, and Factions, are carried openly, and audaciously; it is a Signe, the Reuerence of Gouernment is lost. For the Motions of the greatest persons, in a Gouernment, ought to be, as the Motions of the Planets, vnder Primum Mobile; ( according to the old Opinion: ) which is, That Every of them, is carried swiftly, by the Highest Motion, and softly in their owne Motion. And therfore, when great Ones, in their owne particular Motion, moue violently, and, as Tacitus expresseth it well, Liberiùs, quàm vt Imperantium meminissent; It is a Signe, the Orbs are out of Frame. For Reuerence is that, wherwith Princes are girt from God; Who threatneth the dissoluing thereof; Soluam cingula Regum.
5 So when any of the foure Pillars of Gouernment, are mainly shaken, or weakned ( which are Religion, Iustice, Counsell, and Treasure, ) Men had need to pray for Faire Weather. But let vs passe from this Part of Predictions, ( Concerning which, neuerthelesse, more light may be taken, from that which followeth; ) And let vs speake first of the Materials of Seditions; Then of the Motiues of them; And thirdly of the Remedies.
6 Concerning the Materialls of Seditions. It is a Thing well to be considered: For the surest way to preuent Seditions, ( if the Times doe beare it, ) is to take away the Matter of them. For if there be Fuell prepared, it is hard to tell, whence the Spark shall come, that shall set it on Fire. The Matter of Seditions is of two kindes; Much Pouerty, and Much Discontentment. It is certaine, so many Ouerthrowne Estates, so many Votes for Troubles. Lucan noteth well the State of Rome, before the Ciuill Warre. Hinc Vsura vorax, rapidumque in tempore Foenus, Hinc concussa Fides, & multis vtile     Bellum.
7 This same Multis vtile Bellum, is an assured and infallible Signe, of a State, disposed to Seditions, and Troubles. And if this Pouerty, and Broken Estate, in the better Sort, be ioyned with a Want and Necessity, in the meane People, the danger is imminent, and great. For the Rebellions of the Belly are the worst. As for Discontentments they are in the Politique Body, like to Humours in the Naturall, which are apt to gather a preternaturall Heat, and to Enflame. And let no Prince measure the Danger of them, by this; whether they be Iust, or Vniust? For that were to imagine People to be too reasonable; who doe often spurne at their owne Good: Nor yet by this; whether the Griefes, wherupon they rise, be in fact, great or small: For they are the most dangerous Discontentments,where the Feare is greater then the Feeling. Dolendi Modus, Timendi non item. Besides, in great Oppressions, the same Things, that prouoke the Patience, doe withall mate the Courage: But in Feares it is not so. Neither let any Prince, or State, be secure concerning Discontentments, because they haue been often, or haue been long and yet no Perill hath ensued; For as it is true, that euery Vapour, or Fume, doth not turne into a Storme; So it is, neuerthelesse, true, that Stormes, though they blow ouer diuers times, yet may fall at last; And as the Spanish Prouerb noteth well; The cord breaketh at the last by the weakest pull.
8 The Causes and Motiues of Seditions are; Innouation in Religion; Taxes; Alteration of Lawes and Customes; Breaking of Priuiledges; Generall Oppression; Aduancement of vnworthy persons; Strangers; Dearths; Disbanded Souldiers; Factions growne desperate; And whatsoeuer in offending People, ioyneth and knitteth them, in a Common Cause.
9 For the Remedies; There may be some generall Preseruatiues, whereof wee will speake; As for the iust Cure, it must answer to the Particular Disease: And so be left to Counsell, rather then Rule.
10 The first Remedy or preuention, is to remoue by all meanes possible, that materiall Cause of Sedition, wherof we spake; which is Want and Pouerty in the Estate. To which purpose, serueth the Opening, and well Ballancing of Trade; The Cherishing of Manufactures; the Banishing of Idlenesse; the Repressing of waste and Excesse by Sumptuary Lawes; the Improuement and Husbanding of the Soyle; the Regulating of Prices of things vendible; the Moderating of Taxes and Tributes; And the like. Generally, it is to be foreseene, that the Population of a Kingdome, ( especially if it be not mowen downe by warrs ) doe not exceed, the Stock of the Kingdome, which should maintaine them. Neither is the Population, to be reckoned, onely by number: For a smaller Number, that spend more, and earne lesse, doe weare out an Estate, sooner then a greater Number, that liue lower, and gather more. Therefore the Multiplying of Nobilitie, and other Degrees of Qualitie, in an ouer Proportion, to the Common People, doth speedily bring a State to Necessitie: And so doth likewise an ouergrowne Clergie; For they bring nothing to the Stocke; And in like manner, when more are bred Schollers, then Preferments can take off.
11 It is likewise to be remembred, that for as much as the increase of any Estate, must be vpon the Forrainer, ( for whatsoeuer is some where gotten, is some where lost ) There be but three Things, which one Nation selleth vnto another; The Commoditie as Nature yeeldeth it; The Manufacture; and the Vecture or Carriage. So that if these three wheeles goe, Wealth will flow as in a Spring tide. And it commeth many times to passe, that Materiam superabit Opus; That the Worke, and Carriage, is more worth, then the Materiall, and enricheth a State more; As is notably seene in the LowCountrey-men, who haue the best Mines, aboue ground, in the World.
12 Aboue all things, good Policie is to be vsed, that the Treasure and Moneyes, in a State, be not gathered into few Hands. For otherwise, a State may haue a great Stock, and yet starue. And Money is like Muck, not good except it be spread. This is done, chiefly, by suppressing, or at the least, keeping a strait Hand, vpon the Deuouring Trades of Vsurie, Ingrossing, great Pasturages, and the like.
13 For Remouing Discontentments, or at least, the danger of them; There is in euery State ( as we know ) two Portions of Subiects; The Noblesse, and the Commonaltie. When one of these is Discontent, the danger is not great; For Common People, are of slow Motion, if they be not excited, by the Greater Sort; And the Greater Sort are of small strength, except the Multitude, be apt and ready, to moue of themselues. Then is the danger, when the Greater Sort doe but wait for the Troubling of the Waters, amongst the Meaner, that then they may declare themselues. The Poets faigne, that the rest of the Gods, would haue bound Iupiter; which he hearing of, by the Counsell of Pallas, sent for Briareus, with his hundred Hands, to come in to his Aid. An Embleme, no doubt, to shew, how safe it is for Monarchs, to make sure of the good Will of Common People.
14 To giue moderate Liberty, for Griefes, and Discontentments to euaporate, ( so it be without too great Insolency or Brauery ) is a safe Way. For he that turneth the Humors backe, and maketh the Wound bleed inwards, endangereth maligne Vlcers, and pernicious Impostumations.
15 The Part of Epimetheus, mought well become Prometheus, in the case of Discontentments; For there is not a better prouision against them. Epimetheus, when Griefes and Euils flew abroad, at last shut the lid, and kept Hope in the Bottome of the Vessell. Certainly, the Politique and Artificiall Nourishing, and Entertaining of Hopes, and Carrying Men from Hopes to Hopes; is one of the best Antidotes, against the Poyson of Discontentments. And it is a certaine Signe, of a wise Gouernment, and Proceeding, when it can hold Mens hearts by Hopes, when it cannot by Satisfaction: And when it can handle things, in such manner, as no Euill shall appeare so peremptory, but that it hath some Out-let of Hope: Which is the lesse hard to doe, because both particular Persons, and Factions, are apt enough to flatter themselues, or at least to braue that, which they beleeue not.
16 Also, the Foresight, and Preuention, that there be no likely or fit Head, whereunto Discontented Persons may resort, and vnder whom they may ioyne, is a knowne, but an excellent Point of Caution. I vnderstand a fit Head, to be one, that hath Greatnesse, and Reputation; That hath Confidence with the Discontented Party; and vpon whom they turne their Eyes; And that is thought discontented in his own particular; which kinde of Persons, are either to be wonne, and reconciled to the State, and that in a fast and true manner; Or to be fronted, with some other, of the same Party, that may oppose them, and so diuide the reputation. Generally, the Diuiding and Breaking of all Factions, and Combinations that are aduerse to the State, and setting them at distance, or at least distrust amongst themselues, is not one of the worst Remedies. For it is a desperate Case, if those, that hold with the Proceeding of the State, be full of Discord and Faction; And those that are against it, be entire and vnited.
17 I haue noted, that some witty and sharpe Speeches, which haue fallen from Princes, haue giuen fire to Seditions. Cæsar did himselfe infinite Hurt, in that Speech; Sylla nesciuit Literas, non potuit dictare: For it did, vtterly, cut off that Hope, which Men had entertained, that he would, at one time or other, giue ouer his Dictatorship. Galba vndid himselfe by that Speech; Legi à se Militem, non emi: For it put the Souldiers, out of Hope, of the Donatiue. Probus likewise, by that Speech; Si vixero, non     opus erit ampliùs Romano Imperio militibus. A Speech of great Despaire, for the Souldiers: And many the like. Surely, Princes had need, in tender Matters, and Ticklish Times, to beware what they say; Especially in these short Speeches, which flie abroad like Darts, and are thought to be shot out of their secret Intentions. For as for large Discourses, they are flat Things, and not so much noted.
18 Lastly, let Princes, against all Euents, not be without some Great Person, one, or rather more, of Military Valour neere vnto th\-e, for the Repressing of Seditions, in their beginnings. For without that, there vseth to be more trepidation in Court, vpon the first Breaking out of Troubles, then were fit. And the State runneth the danger of that, which Tacitus saith; Atque is Habitus animorum fuit, vt pessimum facinus auderent Pauci, Plures vellent, Omnes paterentur. But let such Military Persons, be Assured, and well reputed of, rather then Factious, and Popular; Holding also good Correspondence, with the other Great Men in the State; Or else the Remedie, is worse then the Disease.

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UTEL [ History of English | English Composition | Literary Authors | Literary Works | Literary Criticism ]