Page images
PDF
EPUB

withstanding their diversity of religion, and of Cantons : for utility is their bond, and not respects. The united provinces of the Low Countries in their government excel: for where there is an equality, the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes more cheerful. A great and potent Nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their fortune. It is well when Nobles are not too great for Sovereignty, nor for justice; and yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon them, before it come on too fast upon

the majesty of Kings. A numerous Nobility causeth poverty and inconvenience in a State: for it is a surcharge of expense; and besides, it being of necessity that many of the Nobility fall in time to be weak in fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honour and means.

As for Nobility in particular persons : it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay; or to see a fair timber-tree sound and perfect; how much more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and weathers of time. For new Nobility is but the act of power ; but ancient Nobility is the act of time. Those that are first raised to Nobility are commonly more virtuous, but less innocent than

their descendants; for there is rarely any rising, but by a commixture of good and evil arts. But it is reason the memory of their virtues remain to their posterity; and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious, envieth him that is. Besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that standeth at a stay when others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, Nobility extinguisheth the passive envy from others towards them; because they are in possession of honour. Certainly kings that have able men of their Nobility, shall find ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business: for people naturally bend to them, as born in some sort to command.

Of Seditions and Troubles. SHEPHERDS of People had need know the kalendars of tempests in State; which are commonly greatest when things grow to equality; as natural tempests are greatest about the Æquinoctia. And as there are certain hollow blasts of wind, and secret swellings of seas, before a tempest, so are there in States.

The change of Empires often he declares;
Fierce tumults, hidden treasons, open wars. Dryp. Virg.

F

1

Libels and licentious discourses against the State, when they are frequent and open; and in like sort, false news often running up and down to the disadvantage of the State, and hastily embraced; are amongst the signs of troubles. Virgil, giving the pedigree of Fame, saith, “ she was sister to the Giants."

Enrag'd against the Gods, revengeful Earth
Produc'd her, last of the Titanian birth. DRYD. VIRG.

As if fames were the reliques of Seditions past; but they are no less, indeed, the preludes of Seditions to come. Howsoever, 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 give greatest contentment, are taken in ill sense, and traduced: for that shows the envy great; as Tacitus saith, Great discontent arose, whether the state affairs were carried on well or ill.” Neither doth it follow, that because these fames are a sign of Troubles, that the suppressing of them with too much severity, 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-lived.

Also that kind of obedience which Tacitus

speaketh of is to be held suspected: “ They kept within the bounds of their duty, but were men of that character, who had rather make their own interpretation and comment on the commands of their Rulers than execute them.” Disputing, excusing, cavilling upon mandates and directions, is a kind of shaking off the yoke, and assay of disobedience; especially, if in those disputings, they which are for the direction, speak fearfully and tenderly; and those that are against it audaciously.

Also, as Machiavel noteth well, when Princes, that ought to be common parents, make themselves as a party, and lean to a side, it is a boat that is overthrown by uneven weight on the one side; as was well seen in the time of Henry the Third of France: for first himself entered league for the extirpation of the Protestants, and presently after the same league was turned upon himself: for, when the authority of Princes is made but an accessary to a cause, and that there are other bands that tie faster than the band of Sovereignty, Kings begin to be almost put out of possession.

Also, when discords and quarrels, and factions, are carried openly and audaciously, it is a sign the reverence of Government is lost. For the motions of the greatest persons in a Government, ought to be as the motions of the planets under “ the First great Cause of motion,” (according to the old opi

nion): which is, that every of them is carried swiftly by the highest motion, and softly in their own motion. And therefore when great ones in their own particular motion move violently, and, as Tacitus expresseth it well, they were too fond of freedom to remember the will of their Rulers,” it is a sign the orbs are out of frame: for reverence is that wherewith Princes are girt from God, who threateneth the dissolving thereof: “ I will strip off the diadems of Kings.”

So when any of the four pillars of Government are mainly shaken or weakened, (which are Religion, Justice, Counsel, and Treasure) men had need to pray

for fair weather. But let us pass from this part of predictions, (concerning which, nevertheless, moie light may be taken from that which followeth) and let us speak first of the materials of Seditions; then of the motives of them; and thirdly, of the remedies.

Concerning the materials of Sedition ; it is a thing well to be considered: for the surest way to prevent Seditions (if the times do bear it) is to take away the matter of them. For if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire. The matter of Seditions is of two kinds; much poverty, and much discontentment. It is certain, so many overthrown estates, so many votes for Troubles. Lucan noteth well

« PreviousContinue »