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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 19

Of Empire.
1 IT is a miserable State of Minde, to haue few Things to desire, and many Things to feare: And yet that commonly is the Case of Kings; Who being at the highest, want Matter of desire, which makes their Mindes more Languishing; And haue many Representations of Perills and Shadowes, which makes their Mindes the lesse cleare. And this is one Reason also of that Effect, which the Scripture speaketh of; That the Kings Heart is inscrutable. For Multitude of Iealousies, and Lack of some predominant desire, that should marshall and put in order all the rest, maketh any Mans Heart, hard to finde, or sound. Hence it comes likewise, that Princes, many times, make themselues Desires, and set their Hearts vpon toyes: Sometimes vpon a Building; Sometimes vpon Erecting of an Order; Sometimes vpon the Aduancing of a Person; Sometimes vpon obtaining Excellency in some Art, or Feat of the Hand; As Nero for playing on the Harpe, Domitian for Certainty of the Hand with the Arrow, Commodus for playing at Fence, Caracalla for driuing Chariots, and the like. This seemeth incredible vnto those, that know not the Principle; That the Minde of Man is more cheared, and refreshed, by profiting in small things, then by standing at a stay in great. We see also that Kings, that haue beene fortunate Conquerours in their first yeares; it being not possible for them to goe forward infinitely, but that they must haue some Checke or Arrest in their Fortunes; turne in their latter yeares, to be Superstitious and Melancholy: As did Alexander the Great; Dioclesian; And in our memory, Charles the fift; And others: For he that is vsed to goe forward, and findeth a Stop, falleth out of his owne fauour, and is not the Thing he was.
2 To speake now of the true Temper of Empire: It is a Thing rare, and hard to keep: For both Temper and Distemper consist of Contraries. But it is one thing to mingle Contraries, another to enterchange them. The Answer of Apollonius to Vespasian, is full of Excellent Instruction; Vespasian asked him; What was Neroes ouerthrow? He answered; Nero could touch and tune the Harpe well; But in Gouernment, sometimes he vsed to winde the pins too high, sometimes to let them downe too low. And certaine it is, that Nothing destroieth Authority so much, as the vnequall and vntimely Enterchange of Power Pressed too farre, and Relaxed too much.
3 This is true; that the wisdome of all these latter Times in Princes Affaires, is rather fine Deliueries, and Shiftings of Dangers and Mischiefes, when they are neare; then solid and grounded Courses to keepe them aloofe. But this is but to try Masteries with Fortune: And let men beware, how they neglect, and suffer Matter of Trouble, to be prepared: For no Man can forbid the Sparke, nor tell whence it may come. The difficulties in Princes Businesse, are many and great; But the greatest difficulty, is often in their owne Minde. For it is common with Princes, ( saith Tacitus) to will Contradictories. Sunt plerumque Regum voluntates vehementes, & inter se contrariæ. For it is the Soloecisme of Power, to thinke to Command the End, and yet not to endure the Meane.
4 Kings haue to deale with their Neighbours; their Wiues; their Children; their Prelates or Clergie; their Nobles; their Second-Nobles or Gentlemen; their Merchants; their Commons; and their Men of Warre; And from all these arise Dangers, if Care and Circumspection be not vsed.
5 First for their Neighbours; There can no generall Rule be giuen, ( The Occasions are so variable, ) saue one; which euer holdeth; which is, That Princes doe keepe due Centinell, that none of their Neighbours doe ouergrow so, ( by Encrease of Territory, by Embracing of Trade, by Approaches, or the like ) as they become more able to annoy them, then they were. And this is, generally, the work of Standing Counsels to foresee, and to hinder it. During that Triumuirate of Kings, King Henry the 8. of England, Francis the 1. King of France, and Charles the 5. Emperour, there was such a watch kept, that none of the Three, could win a Palme of Ground, but the other two, would straightwaies ballance it, either by Confederation, or, if need were, by a Warre: And would not, in any wise, take vp Peace at Interest. And the like was done by that League ( which, Guicciardine saith, was the Security of Italy ) made betwene Ferdinando King of Naples; Lorenzius Medices, and Ludouicus Sforza, Potentates, the one of Florence, the other of Millaine. Neither is the Opinion, of some of the Schoole-Men, to be receiued; That a warre cannot iustly be made, but vpon a precedent Iniury, or Prouocation. For there is no Question, but a iust Feare, of an Imminent danger, though there be no Blow giuen, is a lawfull Cause of a Warre.
6 For their Wiues; There are Cruell Examples of them. Liuia is infamed for the poysoning of her husband: Roxolana, Solymans Wife, was the destruction, of that renowned Prince, Sultan Mustapha; And otherwise troubled his House, and Succession: Edward the Second of England, his Queen, had the principall hand, in the Deposing and Murther of her Husband. This kinde of danger, is then to be feared, chiefly, when the Wiues haue Plots, for the Raising of their owne Children; Or else that they be Aduoutresses.
7 For their Children: The Tragedies, likewise, of dangers from them, haue been many. And generally, the Entring of Fathers, into Suspicion of their Children, hath been euer vnfortunate. The destruction of Mustapha, ( that we named before ) was so fatall to Solymans Line, as the Succession of the Turks, from Solyman, vntill this day, is suspected to be vntrue, and of strange Bloud; For that Selymus the Second was thought to be Supposititious. The destruction of Crispus, a young Prince, of rare Towardnesse, by Constantinus the Great, his Father, was in like manner fatall to his House; For both Constantinus, and Constance, his Sonnes, died violent deaths; And Constantius his other Sonne, did little better; who died, indeed, of Sicknesse, but after that Iulianus had taken Armes against him. The destruction of Demetrius, Sonne to Philip the Second, of Macedon, turned vpon the Father, who died of Repentance. And many like Examples there are: But few, or none, where the Fathers had good by such distrust; Except it were, where the Sonnes were vp, in open Armes against them; As was Selymus the first against Baiazet: And the three Sonnes of Henry the Second, King of England.
8 For their Prelates; when they are proud and great, there is also danger from them: As it was, in the times of Anselmus, and Thomas Becket, Archbishops of Canterbury; who with their Crosiars, did almost try it, with the Kings Sword; And yet they had to deale with Stout and Haughty Kings; William Rufus, Henry the first, and Henry the second. The danger is not from that State, but where it hath a dependance of forraine Authority; Or where the Churchmen come in, and are elected, not by the Collation of the King, or particular Patrons, but by the People.
9 For their Nobles; To keepe them at a distance, it is not amisse; But to depresse them, may make a King more Absolute, but lesse Safe; And lesse able to performe any thing, that he desires. I haue noted it, in my History of King Henry the Seuenth, of England, who depressed his Nobility; Whereupon, it came to passe, that his Times were full of Difficulties, & Troubles; For the Nobility, though they continued loyall vnto him, yet did they not co-operate with him, in his Businesse. So that in effect, he was faine to doe all things, himselfe.
10 For their Second Nobles; There is not much danger from them, being a Body dispersed. They may sometimes discourse high, but that doth little Hurt: Besides, they are a Counterpoize to the Higher Nobility, that they grow not too Potent: And lastly, being the most immediate in Authority, with the Common People, they doe best temper Popular Commotions.
11 For their Merchants; They are Vena porta; And if they flourish not, a Kingdome may haue good Limmes, but will haue empty Veines, and nourish little. Taxes, and Imposts vpon them, doe seldome good to the Kings Reuenew; For that that he winnes in the Hundred, he leeseth in the Shire; The particular Rates being increased, but the totall Bulke of Trading rather decreased.
12 For their Commons; There is little danger from them, except it be, where they haue Great and Potent Heads; Or where you meddle, with the Point of Religion; Or their Customes, or Meanes of Life.
13 For their Men of warre; It is a dangerous State, where they liue and remaine in a Body, and are vsed to Donatiues; whereof we see Examples in the Ianizaries, and Pretorian Bands of Rome: But Traynings of Men, and Arming them in seuerall places, and vnder seuerall Commanders, and without Donatiues, are Things of Defence, and no Danger.
14 Princes are like to Heauenly Bodies, which cause good or euill times; And which haue much Veneration, but no Rest. All precepts concerning Kings, are in effect comprehended, in those two Remembrances: Memento quod es Homo; And Memento quod es Deus, or Vice Dei: The one bridleth their Power, and the other their Will.

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