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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 29

Of the true Greatnesse of Kingdomes and Estates.
1 THe Speech of Themistocles the Athenian, which was Haughtie and Arrogant, in taking so much to Himselfe, had been a Graue and Wise Obseruation and Censure, applied at large to others. Desired at a Feast to touch a Lute, he said; He could not fiddle, but yet he could make a small Towne, a great Citty. These Words ( holpen a little with a Metaphore ) may expresse two differing Abilities, in those that deale in Businesse of Estate. For if a true Suruey be taken, of Counsellours and Statesmen, there may be found ( though rarely ) those, which can make a Small State Great, and yet cannot Fiddle: As on the other side, there will be found a great many, that can fiddle very cunningly, but yet are so farre from being able, to make a Small State Great, as their Gift lieth the other way; To bring a Great and Flourishing Estate to Ruine and Decay. And certainly, those Degenerate Arts and Shifts, whereby many Counsellours and Gouernours, gaine both Fauour with their Masters, and Estimation with the Vulgar, deserue no better Name then Fidling; Being Things, rather pleasing for the time, and gracefull to themselues onely, then tending to the Weale and Aduancement of the State, which they serue. There are also (no doubt) Counsellours and Gouernours, which may be held sufficient, (Negotijs pares,) Able to mannage Affaires, and to keepe them from Precipices, and manifest Inconueniences; which neuerthelesse, are farre from the Abilitie, to raise and Amplifie an Estate, in Power, Meanes, and Fortune. But be the worke-men what they may be, let vs speake of the Worke; That is; The true Greatnesse of Kingdomes and Estates; and the Meanes thereof. An Argument, fit for Great and Mightie Princes, to haue in their hand; To the end, that neither by Ouer-measuring their Forces, they leese themselues in vaine Enterprises; Nor on the other side, by vnderualuing them, they descend to Fearefull and Pusillanimous Counsells.
2 The Greatnesse of an Estate in Bulke and Territorie, doth fall vnder Measure; And the Greatnesse of Finances and Reuenew doth fall vnder Computation. The Population may appeare by Musters: And the Number and Greatnesse of Cities and Townes, by Cards and Maps. But yet there is not any Thing amongst Ciuill Affaires, more subiect to Errour, then the right valuation, and true Iudgement, concerning the Power and Forces of an Estate. The Kingdome of Heauen is compared, not to any great Kernell or Nut, but to a Graine of Mustard-seed; which is one of the least Graines, but hath in it a Propertie and Spirit, hastily to get vp and spread. So are there States, great in Territorie, and yet not apt to Enlarge, or Command; And some, that haue but a small Dimension of Stemme, and yet apt to be the Foundations of Great Monarchies.
3 Walled Townes, Stored Arcenalls and Armouries, Goodly Races of Horse, Chariots of Warre, Elephants, Ordnance, Artillery, and the like: All this is but a Sheep in a Lions Skin, except the Breed and disposition of the People, be stout and warlike. Nay Number (it selfe) in Armies, importeth not much, where the People is of weake Courage: For (as Virgil saith) It neuer troubles a Wolfe, how many the sheepe be. The Armie of the Persians, in the Plaines of Arbela, was such a vast Sea of People, as it did somewhat astonish the Commanders in Alexanders Armie; Who came to him therefore, and wisht him, to set vpon them by Night; But hee answered, He would not pilfer the Victory. And the Defeat was Easie. When Tigranes the Armenian, being incamped vpon a Hill, with 400 000. Men, discouered the Armie of the Romans, being not aboue 14000. Marching towards him, he made himselfe Merry with it, and said; Yonder Men, are too Many for an Ambassage, and too Few for a Fight. But before the Sunne sett, he found them enough, to giue him the Chace, with infinite Slaughter. Many are the Examples, of the great oddes between Number and Courage: So that a Man may truly make a Iudgement; That the Principal Point of Greatnesse in any State, is to haue a Race of Military Men. Neither is Money the Sinewes of Warre, ( as it is triuially said) where the Sinewes of Mens Armes, in Base and Effeminate People, are failing. For Solon said well to Croesus (when in Ostentation he shewed him his Gold) Sir, if any Other come, that hath better Iron then you, he will be Master of all this Gold. Therfore let any Prince or State, thinke soberly of his Forces, except his Militia of Natiues, be of good and Valiant Soldiers. And let Princes, on the other side, that haue Subiects of Martiall disposition, know their owne Strength; vnlesse they be otherwise wanting vnto Themselues. As for Mercenary Forces, ( which is the Helpe in this Case) all Examples shew; That whatsoeuer Estate or Prince doth rest vpon them; Hee may spread his Feathers for a time, but he will mew them soone after.
4 The Blessing of Iudah and Issachar will neuer meet; That the same People or Nation, should be both The Lions whelpe, and the Asse betweene Burthens: Neither will it be, that a People ouer-laid with Taxes, should euer become Valiant, and Martiall. It is true, that Taxes leuied by Consent of the Estate, doe abate Mens Courage lesse; As it hath beene seene notably, in the Excises of the Low Countries; And in some degree, in the Subsidies of England. For you must note, that we speake now, of the Heart, and not of the Purse. So that, although the same Tribute and Tax, laid by Consent, or by Imposing, be all one to the Purse, yet it workes diuersly vpon the Courage. So that you may conclude; That no People, ouer charged with Tribute, is fit for Empire.
5 Let States that aime at Greatnesse, take heed how their Nobility and Gentlemen, doe multiply too fast. For that maketh the Common Subiect, grow to be a Peasant, and Base Swaine, driuen out of Heart, and in effect but the Gentlemans Labourer. Euen as you may see in Coppice Woods; If you leaue your staddles too thick, you shall neuer haue cleane Vnderwood, but Shrubs and Bushes. So in Countries, if the Gentlemen be too many, the Commons will be base; And you will bring it to that, that not the hundred poll, will be fit for an Helmet: Especially as to the Infantery, which is the Nerue of an Army: And so there will be Great Population, and Little Strength. This, which I speake of, hath been no where better seen, then by comparing of England and France; whereof England, though farre lesse in Territory and Population, hath been (neuerthelesse) an Ouermatch; In regard, the Middle People of England, make good Souldiers, which the Peasants of France doe not. And here in, the deuice of King Henry the Seuenth, ( whereof I haue spoken largely in the History of his Life was Profound, and Admirable; In making Farmes, and houses of Husbandry, of a Standard; That is, maintained with such a Proportion of Land vnto them, as may breed a Subiect, to liue in Conuenient Plenty, and no Seruile Condition; And to keepe the Plough in the Hands of the Owners, and not meere Hirelings. And thus indeed, you shall attaine to Virgils Character, which he giues to Ancient Italy. --- Terra potens Armis atque vbere Glebæ. Neither is that State ( which for any thing I know, is almost peculiar to England, and hardly to be found any where else, except it be perhaps in Poland) to be passed ouer; I meane the State of Free Seruants and Attendants vpon Noblemen and Gentlemen; which are no waies inferiour, vnto the Yeomanry, for Armes. And therefore, out of all Question, the Splendour, and Magnificence, and great Retinues, and Hospitality of Noblemen, and Gentlemen, receiued into Custome, doth much conduce, vnto Martiall Greatnesse. Whereas, contrariwise, the Close and Reserued liuing, of Noblemen, and Gentlemen, causeth a Penury of Military Forces.                  
6 By all meanes, it is to be procured, that the Trunck of Nebuchadnezzars Tree of Monarchy, be great enough, to beare the Branches, and the Boughes; That is, That the Naturall Subiects of the Crowne or State, beare a sufficient Proportion, to the Stranger Subiects, that they gouerne. Therfore all States, that are liberall of Naturalization towards Strangers, are fit for Empire. For to thinke, that an Handfull of People, can, with the greatest Courage, and Policy in the World, embrace too large Extent of Dominion, it may hold for a time, but it will faile suddainly. The Spartans were a nice People, in Point of Naturalization; whereby, while they kept their Compasse, they stood firme; But when they did spread, and their Boughs were becommen too great, for their Stem, they became a Windfall vpon the suddaine. Neuer any State was, in this Point, so open to receiue Strangers, into their Body, as were the Romans. Therefore it sorted with them accordingly; For they grew to the greatest Monarchy. Their manner was, to grant Naturalization, ( which they called Ius CiuiTatis ) and to grant it in the highest Degree; That is, Not onely Ius Commercij, Ius Connubij, Ius Hæreditatis; But also, Ius Suffragij, and Ius Honorum. And this, not to Singular Persons alone, but likewise to whole Families; yea to Cities, and sometimes to Nations. Adde to this, their Custome of Plantation of Colonies; whereby the Roman Plant, was remoued into the Soile, of other Nations. And putting both Constitutions together, you will say, that it was not the Romans that spred vpon the World; But it was the World, that spred vpon the Romans: And that was the sure Way of Greatnesse. I haue marueiled sometimes at Spaine, how they claspe and containe so large Dominions, with so few Naturall Spaniards: But sure, the whole Compasse of Spaine, is a very Great Body of a Tree; Farre aboue Rome, and Sparta, at the first. And besides, though they haue not had that vsage, to Naturalize liberally; yet they haue that, which is next to it; That is, To employ, almost indifferently, all Nations, in their Militia of ordinary Soldiers: yea, and sometimes in their Highest Commands. Nay, it seemeth at this instant, they are sensible of this want of Natiues; as by the Pragmaticall Sanction, now published, appeareth.
7 It is certaine, that Sedentary, and Within-doore Arts, and delicate Manufactures ( that require rather the Finger, then the Arme ) haue, in their Nature, a Contrariety, to a Military disposition. And generally, all Warlike People, are a little idle; And loue Danger better then Trauaile: Neither must they be too much broken of it, if they shall be preserued in vigour. Therefore, it was great Aduantage, in the Ancient States of Sparta, Athens, Rome, and others, that they had the vse of Slaues, which commonly did rid those Manufactures. But that is abolished, in greatest part, by the Christian Law. That which commeth nearest to it, is, to leaue those Arts chiefly to Strangers, (which for that purpose are the more easily to be receiued) and to containe, the principall Bulke of the vulgar Natiues, within those three kinds; Tillers of the Ground; Free Seruants; & Handy-Crafts-Men, of Strong, & Manly Arts, as Smiths, Masons, Carpenters, &c; Not reckoning Professed Souldiers.
8 But aboue all, for Empire and Greatnesse, it importeth most; That a Nation doe professe Armes, as their principall Honour, Study, and Occupation. For the Things, which we formerly haue spoken of, are but Habilitations towards Armes: And what is Habilitation without Intention and Act? Romulus, after his death (as they report, or faigne) sent a Present to the Romans; That, aboue all, they should intend Armes; And then, they should proue the greatest Empire of the World. The Fabrick of the State of Sparta, was wholly (though not wisely) framed, and composed, to that Scope and End. The Persians, and Macedonians, had it for a flash. The Galls, Germans, Goths, Saxons, Normans, and others, had it for a Time. The Turks haue it, at this day, though in great Declination. Of Christian Europe, they that haue it, are, in effect, onely the Spaniards. But it is so plaine, That euery Man profiteth in that hee most intendeth, that it needeth not to be stood vpon. It is enough to point at it; That no Nation, which doth not directly professe Armes, may looke to haue Greatnesse fall into their Mouths. And, on the other side, it is a most Certaine Oracle of Time; That those States, that continue long in that Profession (as the Romans and Turks principally haue done) do wonders. And those, that haue professed Armes but for an Age, haue notwithstanding, commonly, attained that Greatnesse in that Age, which maintained them long after, when their Profession and Exercise of Armes hath growen to decay.
9 Incident to this Point is; For a State, to haue those Lawes or Customes, which may reach forth vnto them, iust Occasions ( as may be pretended ) of Warre. For there is that Iustice imprinted, in the Nature of Men, that they enter not vpon Wars ( whereof so many Calamities doe ensue) but vpon some, at the least Specious, Grounds and Quarells. The Turke, hath at hand, for Cause of Warre, the Propagation of his Law or Sect; A Quarell that he may alwaies Command. The Romans, though they esteemed, the Extending the Limits of their Empire, to be great Honour to their Generalls, when it was done, yet they neuer rested vpon that alone, to begin a Warre. First therefore, let Nations, that pretend to Greatnesse, haue this; That they be sensible of Wrongs, either vpon Borderers, Merchants, or Politique Ministers; And that they sit not too long vpon a Prouocation. Secondly, let them be prest, and ready, to giue Aids and Succours, to their Confederates: As it euer was with the Romans: In so much, as if the Confederate, had Leagues Defensiue with diuers other States, and vpon Inuasion offered, did implore their Aides seuerally, yet the Romans would euer bee the formost, and leaue it to none Other to haue the Honour. As for the Warres, which were anciently made, on the behalfe, of a kinde of Partie, or tacite Conformitie of Estate, I doe not see how they may be well iustified: As when the Romans made a Warre for the Libertie of Grecia: Or when the Lacedemonians, and Athenians, made Warres, to set vp or pull downe Democracies, and Oligarchies: Or when Warres were made by Forrainers, vnder the pretence of Iustice, or Protection, to deliuer the Subiects of others, from Tyrannie, and Oppression; And the like. Let it suffice, That no Estate expect to be Great, that is not awake, vpon any iust Occasion of Arming.
10 No Body can be healthfull without Exercise, neither Naturall Body, nor Politique: And certainly, to a Kingdome or Estate, a Iust and Honourable Warre, is the true Exercise. A Ciuill Warre, indeed, is like the Heat of a Feauer; But a Forraine Warre, is like the Heat of Exercise, and serueth to keepe the Body in Health: For in a Slothfull Peace, both Courages will effeminate, and Manners Corrupt . But howsoeuer it be for Happinesse, without all Question, for Greatnesse, it maketh, to bee still, for the most Part, in Armes: And the Strength of a Veteran Armie, (though it be a chargeable Businesse) alwaies on Foot, is that, which commonly giueth the Law; Or at least the Reputation amongst all Neighbour States; As may well bee seene in Spaine; which hath had, in one Part or other, a Veteran Armie, almost continually, now by the Space of Six-score yeeres.
11 To be Master of the Sea, is an Abridgement of a Monarchy. Cicero writing to Atticus, of Pompey his Preparation against Cæsar, saith; Consilium Pompeij planè Themistocleum est; Putat enim, qui Mari potitur, eum Rerum potiri. And, without doubt, Pompey had tired out Cæsar, if vpon vaine Confidence, he had not left that Way. We see the great Effects of Battailes by Sea. The Battaile of Actium decided the Empire of the World. The Battaile of Lepanto arrested the Greatnesse of the Turke. There be many Examples, where SeaFights haue beene Finall to the warre; But this is, when Princes or States, haue set vp their Rest, vpon the Battailes. But thus much is certaine; That hee that Commands the Sea, is at great liberty, and may take as much, and as little of the Warre, as he will. Whereas those, that be strongest by land, are many times neuerthelesse in great Straights. Surely, at this Day, with vs of Europe, the Vantage of Strength at Sea ( which is one of the Principall Dowries of this Kingdome of Great Brittaine ) is Great: Both because, Most of the Kingdomes of Europe, are not meerely Inland, but girt with the Sea, most part of their Compasse; And because, the Wealth of both Indies, seemes in great Part, but an Accessary, to the Command of the Seas.
12 The Warres of Latter Ages, seeme to be made in the Darke, in Respect of the Glory and Honour, which reflected vpon Men, from the Warres in Ancient Time. There be now, for Martiall Encouragement, some Degrees and Orders of Chiualry; which neuerthelesse, are conferred promiscuously, vpon Soldiers, & no Soldiers; And some Remembrance perhaps vpon the Scutchion; And some Hospitals for Maimed Soldiers; And such like Things. But in Ancient Times; The Trophies erected vpon the Place of the Victory; The Funerall Laudatiues and Monuments for those that died in the Wars; The Crowns and Garlands Personal; The Stile of Emperor, which the Great Kings of the World after borrowed; The Triumphes of the Generalls vpon their Returne; The great Donatiues and Largesses vpon the Disbanding of the Armies; were Things able to enflame all Mens Courages. But aboue all, That of the Triumph, amongst the Romans, was not Pageants or Gauderie, but one of the Wisest and Noblest Institutions, that euer was. For it contained three Things; Honour to the Generall; Riches to the Treasury out of the Spoiles; And Donatiues to the Army. But that Honour, perhaps, were not fit for Monarchies; Except it be in the Person of the Monarch himselfe, or his Sonnes; As it came to passe, the Times of the Roman Emperours, who did impropriate the Actuall Triumphs to Themselues, and their Sonnes, for such Wars, as they did atchieue in Person: And left onely, for Wars atchieued by Subiects, some Triumphall Garments, and Ensignes, to the Generall.
13 To conclude; No Man can, by Care taking (as the Scripture saith) adde a Cubite to his Stature; in this little Modell of a Mans Body: But in the Great Frame of Kingdomes, & Common Wealths , it is in the power of Princes, or Estates, to adde Amplitude and Greatnesse to their Kingdomes. For by introducing such Ordinances, Constitutions, and Customes, as we haue now touched, they may sow Greatnesse, to their Posteritie, and Succession. But these Things are commonly not Obserued, but left to take their Chance.

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