« ZurückWeiter »
ance. And many like examples there are ; but few or none where the fathers had good 28 by such distrust, except it were where the sons were up in open arms against them; as was Selymus the First against Bajazet, and the three sons of Henry the Second, King of England.
For their Prelates, when they are proud and great, there is also danger from them; as it was in the times of Anselmus 29 and Thomas Becket, Archbishops of Canterbury, who with their crosiers did almost try it 30 with the king's sword ; and yet they had to deal with stout and haughty kings ; William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the Second. The danger is not from that state, 31 but where it hath a dependence of foreign authority; or where the churchmen come in and are elected, not by the collation 32 of the king, or particular patrons, but by the people.
For their Nobles, to keep them at a distance it is not amiss; but to depress them may make a king more absolute, but less safe, and less able to perform anything that he desires. I have noted it in my History of King Henry the Seventh of England, who depressed his nobility, whereupon it came to pass that his times were full of difficulties and troubles; for the nobility, though they continued loyal unto him, yet did they not co-operate with him in his business; so that in effect he was fain 33 to do all things himself.
For their second Nobles, 34 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 counterpoise to the higher nobility, that they grow not too potent; and, lastly, being the most immediate in authority with the common people, they do best temper popular commotions.
For their Merchants, they are 'vena porta ; '35 and if they flourish not, a kingdom may have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and nourish little. Taxes and imposts upon them do seldom good to the king's revenue, for that which he wins in the hundred, he loseth in the shire ; 38 the particular rates being increased, but the total bulk of trading rather decreased.
For their Commons, there is little danger from them, except it be where they have great and potent heads; or where you meddle with the point of religion, or their customs, or means of life.
For their Men of War, it is a dangerous state where they live and remain in a body, and are used to donatives ; 37 whereof we see examples in the Janizaries and Prætorian bands of Rome; but trainings of men, and arming them in several places, and under several commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence, and no danger.
Princes are like to heavenly bodies,38 which cause good or evil times; and which have 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 ;' 39 the one bridleth their power, and the other their will.
NOTES ON ESSAY XIX. 1. want matter of desire '—have nothing capable of exciting
their interest. 2. “representations'-surmisings; appearances arousing suspicion
and distrust. 3. Prov. xxv, 3. 4. make themselves desires '—devise artificial pleasures. 5. toys'-trifles; things for amusement but not of real value. 6. Order'-class of special rank; community of men upon
whom some honourable rank or degree has been conferred. Cf. “Holy Orders,' 'The Order of the Garter,' 'Order of
Knighthood. 7. •feat'-literally anything done (Latin factum ; French fait);
and hence, anything cleverly or dexterously done, e.g. feats
of horsemanship. 8. standing at a stay'-coming to a stop; being unable to
proceed. 9. Alexander the Great.' He was always full of high spirits
when actively engaged in his great military exploits; but at the end of his life, when his strength began to fail, he suffered greatly from depression of spirits, and becaine morose and suspicious. Plutarch, whose account probably suggested the incident to Bacon, says that he left his trust in the gods, and his mind became so troubled and terrified, that whatever unusual thing happened to him he immediately took for a sign from the gods of impending evil, and
that his tent was always full of soothsayers. • Diocletian'-Roman emperor from A.D. 284 to 305, when he
abdicated and passed the remaining eight years of his life in
obsequies performed in his presence. 10. “temper'—the blending of the various parts; the constitution;
the mixture of the different elements so as to make one harmonious whole.
The word is used both of persons individually and of the ·body politic.'
To 'interchange' the various par without blending them, produces what Bacon calls, in the next sentence,
distemper.' II. • Apollonius' of Tyana-a Pythagorean philosopher who lived
in the first century of the Christian era. He led a most ascetic lise, delivered philosophical discourses, and professed to have the power of working miracles. His life (a collection of many interesting and some incredible stories), from which Bacon here quotes, was written by Philostratus in the third century, at the command of the Empress Julia Domna, who made a foolish attempt to revive paganism by means of his name.
12. these latter times '—Bacon's own age, of the political and
military wisdom of which he seems to have had a very poor opinion, alleging that it consisted rather in fortunate escapes from danger ("fine deliveries ') and devices for postponing mischief, instead of good and well-considered means of
meeting danger and preventing mischief. 13. to try masteries with Fortune '—to adopt a haphazard policy
which may succeed, but is very liable to fail. 14. matter'—material, fuel ; hence the allusion to the spark in
the next sentence. 15. Tacitus.'
• The desires of monarchs are generally vehement and conflicting among themselves.' The quotation is not from Tacitus, but from Sallust, and not literal : ‘Sed plerumque regiæ voluntates, ut vehementes, sic mobiles, sæpe
'ipse sibi advorsæ’-Jugurtha, cap. 113. 16. solecism'-mistake, absurdity.
The mistake which rulers are most liable to is that of supposing they can secure desired ends without making use of the proper means.'
The name solecism is generally confined to inaccuracies of language. The word is said to have originally designated the barbarisms and inaccuracies of speech of the Soli, a band of Attic colonists who settled in Cilicia, and there lost the
purity of their language. 17. • embracing'-attracting, enticing. 18. approaches '-coming near them in a hostile attitude by
means of forts and armies. 19. take up peace at interest'-borrow peace to pay for it at
some future time ; procure immediate peace on terms ulti
mately ruinous. 20. that league'—the league of A.D. 1480, designed to watch
the growing power of the Venetians. Francisco Guicciardini was a famous Italian historian who wrote the history of his own time. He took a leading part in the political changes at Florence which led to the restoration to power of the Medici
family. 21. •infamed'-spoken badly of, decried, denounced. Livia, the
third wife of the Emperor Augustus, is said to have poisoned
him, to procure the succession of her son Tiberius. 22. Roxolana'—the wife of Solyman I ('the Magnificent'), the
greatest of the Ottoman Sultans, both as a warrior" and ruler. In his wars he captured Belgrade, took the island of Rhodes from the Knights of St John, and fought successfully against the Persians. One of his wives, Roxolana, who had been a slave, became jealous of his son Mustapha, who, through her machinations, was strangled in his father's pre
The domestic life of Solyman was embittered by the fierce quarrels of his sons Selim (Selymus II) and Bajazet, the latter of whom was defeated and put to death in Persia
with his children. It was said that Selim was not the son of Solyman, but had in infancy been palmed off as such,
hence Bacon speaks of him as supposititious.' 23. his Queen'—the infamous Isabella of Anjou. The pronoun
'his' is a pedantic and inaccurate substitution for the apostrophe and s. Cf. in the Prayer-Book : Jesus Christ his
sake.' 24. 'advoutresses '-adulteresses. 25. unfortunate'-productive of misfortune ; injurious. 26. Crispus'-son of Constantine the Great, cruelly murdered by
his father, A.D. 326. Bacon calls him “a prince of rare towardness,' i.e. docility, opposite to frowardness or un.
towardness. 27. Demetrius'- -son of Philip V of Macedon. He was falsely
accused by his brother Perseus of conspiring to dethrone his
father, by whose order he was then put to death, B.C. 179. 28. had good '-obtained benefit. 29. • Anselmus.' St Anselm was Archbishop of Canterbury during
the reigns of William II and Henry I. He was a pious, earnest, and upright man, and a distinguished scholar, but his rigid assertion of the rights of the clergy led to very fierce quarrels
with both kings. • Thomas Becket' pursued the same course, but with still
greater violence, with regard to Henry II. 30. try it'-come to open fight. 31. 'state'-order, rank (i.e. the clergy). Bacon says that the
clergy are not a dangerous order ('state'), except (but') when they owe allegiance to a foreign power, referring, no
doubt, to the old disputes about the papal supremacy. 32. collation'-the presentation and institution to a benefice
when the same person is both the ordinary and the patron. The patron of a living presents his nominee to the bishop, who thereupon institutes him ; when the bishop himself is
patron he is said to collate to the living. 33. *fain'—glad; glad to get things done, even though he had to
do them himself. 34. second nobles '—the gentry. 35. 'vena porta '—the portal vein, i.e. the vein which carries the
blood from the stomach, spleen, and intestines, and distri. butes it through the liver. Bacon uses an odd and apparently inaccurate illustration ; if he means, as he seems to do, that the vena porta contains the richest blood in the body, he is wrong; but perhaps he means that the merchants gather wealth and distribute it, just as this vein collects blood for
redistribution. 36. What he gains in one way he loses in another. Just as in
charging high prices, a tradesman makes a higher rate of profit, but sells fewer goods.