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And certainly the fruit that these gentlemen reaped from their sedition will never tempt any to follow their example: for their days were spent in continual troubles, their nights must be dismal, whilst darkness and silence presented to their minds their cruel and horrid acts in their proper colours; their characters were villainous, leaving behind them an everlasting infamy; their power but momentary, not lasting three years in any; their deaths violent and infamous. Cinna was slain by his own soldiers ; Marius indeed died within a month after made consul, which prevented a worse end : Sylla was eaten up with lice; an imposthume so corrupted his flesh that it turned all to that vermin, notwithstanding he was continually shifted night and day.
But most dreadful is the consideration of the weight of that guilt which must always accompany their spirits; for souls do not inhabit the dust. Those scenes of miseries and follies that these men have presented to the world are a sufficient proof what base creatures mankind are to themselves and others, when passions are predominant.
The common people of England have suffered the same fate as other nations; they have been drawn with heat and fury to shed one another's blood for such a liberty as their leaders never intended they should have, and have fought many battles to redress grievances, which victory, wherever it happened, always increased, endangering a good government upon pretences of making it better. Such practices have made foreigners believe the English are naturally of a turbulent and disquiet spirit; as if those epithets of perfidi, inflati, feri, amentes, immanes, which Scaliger bestows on us, were true.
But foreigners have reason to think our frequent disturbances proceed from our tempers, and not from any defects in the government; since learned writers abroad have declared, that of all seigniories in the world, the realm of England was the country where the commonwealth was best governed.
And men well governed should seek after no other liberty ; for there can be no greater liberty than a good government. The truth is, the easiness of the government has made some so wanton as to kick against it ; our own histo rians write, that most of our kings have been unthankfully used.
The barons' wars have been attributed, by good historians, to the stubbornness of the nobility, though it carried the specious pretence of confirming liberties. By this war Henry III. was forced, for want of money, to renounce to the king of France, for the poor consideration of three hundred thousand pounds, his right to Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Main, and Poictou, which had cost the English much blood and money; and by the loss of those havens and ports on the other side, the ocean our wall, the natural and best fence of our island, is left naked and exposed.
It has been observed also, that since these troubles from the barons, the kings of England, to lessen the power of the nobility, and balance them, have yielded to the growing greatness and privileges of the commons; and what effect that will have, time can only shew. Politicians do affirm, that nobility preserves liberty longer than the commons, and for instance say, Solon's popular state came far short of Lycurgus's by mixed government; for the popular state of Athens soon fell, whilst the royal, mixed government of Sparta stood a mighty time; by the nobility Sparta and Venice enjoyed their freedom longer than Rome.
The terribleness of civil war and dissensions will be sufficiently made out, by observing the methods of divine Providence; for never was any place so severely threatened with terrible judgments and desolations as Jerusalem, the capital city of the Holy Land, and the seat of religion for above eleven hundred years; and for a full accomplishment of that wrath and vengeance which was pronounced against it, it pleased God to suffer a mighty faction and sedition to be raised within itself, as one certain means of its misery and destruction.
It is plain, whilst we are mixed bodies we are continually
passing from one alteration to another, as well civilly as naturally: for inconveniences and offences, as the scripture declares, will come; but withal adds a woe unto them by whom they do come. It is the qualifications of our contemporaries, of the men that dwell at the same time with us, must make us happy or miserable; it must be their wisdom, justice, and honour, which are not local, as the law calls it, tied or annexed to a place, but moving and transitory as fortune itself. For there is the same proportion of good and evil in the world as ever, though it shifts and changes, not always in the same place, and never in the same degree; even the holy worship of God, religion, through the wickedness of men, has had its marches. Nor is man alone the subject of alteration and vicissitude; but the earth itself is sometimes dry land, and sometimes overwhelmed with waters; and a fruitful land has been turned into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. All sublunaries being in continual motion, little knowledge in history will convince us, that persons, families, countries, and nations, have alternately fallen from great wealth, honour, and power, to poverty and contempt, and to the very dregs of slavery. We must look a long way back to find the Romans giving laws to nations, and their consuls bringing kings and princes bound in chains to Rome in triumph; to see men go to Greece for wisdom, or Ophir for gold; when now nothing remains but a poor paper remembrance of their former condition.
It would be an unspeakable advantage, both to the public and private, if men would consider that great truth, that no man is wise or safe, but he that is honest. All I have designed is peace to my country; and may England enjoy that blessing when I shall have no more proportion in it than what my ashes make!
A WAR WITH SPAIN,
AND OF THE PROTECTING OF THE NETHERLANDS.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY, It belongeth not to me to judge whether the king of Spain hath done wrong to the Netherlands, or whether the Netherlands have failed in allegiance towards the king; the king pretending absolute sovereignty, they pretending a conditional obedience.
But it seems to me, without question, that both Holland and Zealand did of right belong to the lady Inquelin of Haynault ; who, to save her own life, was forced to relinquish her estate ; and that Zutphen and Guelders did as rightfully belong to the duke of Arnold, who, being prisoner with that duke of Burgundy that died before Nantz, the said duke intruded upon his possession to the prejudice of Adolfe his son and lawful successor.
But leaving their quarrels to their own consciences; whether it standeth with your majesty's safety to relinquish them, yea or no, is the argument which I presume to offer to your majesty's great wisdom.
The Hollanders and Zealanders, with the rest of the United Provinces, (which altogether we call by the name of Netherlands) are your majesty's near neighbours, and most industrious people; they are near, and may, with a blast of wind, in twenty-four hours depart their own coasts and enter ours.
And a poor neighbour's house set on fire is to be better guarded or watched than a great city afar off.