Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

3.

That he disliked the service at all is by no means clear to me. If he did, he disliked still more that another man should be entrusted with it. But whether he liked it or not, he was to go: and before he went, if not before he had finally resolved on going, he asked Bacon's advice. The time is not known. If I have guessed the occasion of Bacon's last congratulatory letter right, it may have been then, and that letter may have suggested the communication. At any rate it seems to have been while there was yet time for consideration. What Bacon was likely to think of such a project may be inferred from the significant qualification with which he guarded the suggestion thrown out in his last letter of advice,-written when he hoped that the rebellion would be quelled without a war. "And (says he) but that your Lordship is too easy to pass in such cases from dissimulation to verity, I think if your Lordship lent your reputation in this case, -that is to pretend that if peace go not on and the Queen mean to make, not a defensive war as in times past, but a full reconquest of those parts of the country, you would accept the charge; I think it would help to settle Tyrone in his seeking accord, and win you a great deal of honour gratis.Of the value of the loan of Essex's reputation there could be no doubt. His fame in England was at its height, and carried over to Ireland with echoes from every side, would no doubt sound still louder there than here. Nothing is more likely than that in April, when the rebellion had not as yet been encouraged by any considerable success, the fear of a royal army under the command of Essex would have made the leaders pause and given healing measures time to work. But it is clear that even then Bacon would not have advised him to put it to the proof-much less now, when the work was so much more arduous, and his own position so much worse by reason of the feelings which his recent behaviour had excited in the

difficult a charge on some other; and yet if any other were named he had somewhat in a readiness to object."-Camden, 1599.

2. “Whom” (Lord Montjoy] (says Moryson) “ her Highness had the last year purposed to employ in that place : at which time the Earl of Essex, though linked in near friendship with him, yet secretly opposed this her Majesty's determination, alleging that the Lord Montjoy had small experience in martial affairs, save that he had gained in the small time he had served in the Low Countries, adding that he was too bookish, and had too few followers and too small an estate, to embrace so great a business. So as the Earl, not obscurely affecting this employment himself (to the end he might more strongly confirm that dependency which all military men already had on him)," etc.-Moryson, part ii. 1, 1, p. 45,

3. “I have beaten Knollys and Montjoy in the Council" (writes Essex himself to John Harington, offering him a command), “and by God I will beat Tyr-Owen in the field : for nothing worthy her Majesty's honour hath yet been achieved." -Nugæ Antiquæ, i. 245.

See above, p. 104.

Queen. Of the advice which Bacon did in fact give we must be content with his own report, there being no other record of it. “Touching his going into Ireland it pleased him expressly and in a set manner to desire mine opinion and counsel. At wbich time I did not only dissuade but protest against his going : telling him with as much vehemency and asseveration as I could that absence in that kind would exulcerate the Queen's mind, whereby it would not be possible for him to carry bimself so as to give her sufficient contentment, nor for her to carry herself so as to give him sufficient countenance : which will be ill for her, ill for him, and ill for the state. And because I would omit no argument, I remember I stood also upon the difficulty of the action : setting before him out of histories that the Irish were such an enemy as the ancient Gauls or Germans or Britons were ; and we saw how the Romans, who had such discipline to govern their soldiers and such donations to encourage them and the whole world in a manner to levy them, yet when they came to deal with enemies which placed their felicity only in liberty and the sharpness of their sword, and bad the natural elemental advantages of bogs and woods and hardness of bodies, they ever found they had their hands full of them; and therefore concluded that going over with such ex. pectation as he did, and through the churlishness of the enterprise not like to answer it, would mightily diminish his reputation : and many other reasons I used, so as I am sure I never in anything in my lifetime dealt with him in like earnestness, by speech, by writing, and by all the means I could devise. For I did as plainly see his overthrow chained as it were by destiny to that journey, as it is possible for a man to ground a judgment upon future contingents. But my Lord, howsoever his ear was open, yet his heart and resolution was shut against that advice.”l

4.

The questions which arose with regard to the extent of his commission it is not necessary to discuss. If Bacon was consulted about any of them (which I do not think likely) no record remains of his opinion. The amplitude of the authority for which Essex stipulated and the pertinacity with which he insisted on his demands is said to have been remarked at the time as strange and even suspicious. “In such sort did he bear himself” (says Camden) “that he seemed to his adversaries to wish nothing more than to have an army under his command and to bind martial men unto him; and that with such earnest seeking that some feared lest he entertained some monstrous

Apology

1

design, especially seeing he showed his contumacy more and more against the Queen, that had been most bountiful to bim.” And certainly considering the temper he was in, the sense of injury which he was still nursing in himself and which was cherished in him by a whole world of sympathizing followers, his long habit of coming a winner out of every dispute with the Queen, and his inveterate ten. dency to consider every man who crossed him as an enemy to his country as well as to him—it may well be believed that one of the objects which he had now in view was to make himself formidable: which he had the means of doing, because he was in fact formidable already: so much so that the danger of refusing his demands was thought to be (even with the Queen) one of the reasons for granting them.?

Bacon himself was, I think, very far from easy on this head. He had long since warned him of the impression which his favourite courses would sooner or later make on the Queen's mind, whether or not there were any real ground for it: latterly he had begun, I fancy, to suspect that there was juster reason for that impression than there should have been. And now when the Earl was on the point of setting out on the great enterprise, he wrote him a letter, the full sig. nificance of which will not be understood without bearing this among other things in mind.

He had in vain advised him to decline an undertaking to which he did not think him equal. His advice had been heard and rejected. All was now settled. Every demand which the Earl made had been conceded; the rather (they say) by the furtherance of his enemies, who foresaw the issue. He was to have a larger army under his command than had ever been seen in Ireland, and larger powers than any deputy had ever been trusted with. The one chance for him now was to be inspired with a due sense of the responsibility of his position; to have his ambition directed into the right channel, and his spirit roused to perform worthily the service which he had, however rashly, undertaken. If he could but be persuaded to lay aside personal aims and emulations, and think only of the public duty with which he was trusted; to make the performance of that his sole aim, and address himself to it earnestly, strenuously, and loyally; he had

1 "He had long been a dear favourite with the Queen, but had of late lain so open to his enemies, as he had given them power to make his embracing of military courses and his popular estimation so much suspected of his sovereign, as his greatness was now judged to depend as much upon her Majesty's fear of him as her love to him.”—Moryson, p. 26.

2 “Nec quicquam in optatis habuit quod officiosa, ne dicam insidiosa, adversariorum opera non impetravit.”—Camden. A comment curiously contrasting with Esser's own complaints, the unvarying burden of which is that whatever he asks for is refused.

still a noble alternative before him; the honour and merit of a great achievement if he succeeded; of a faithful endeavour if he failed. In reminding him once more of the dangers which awaited him, to rouse his ambition to encounter and overcome them, is the task to which Bacon now addresses himself. He looks on all sides for hopeful prognostics ;-tries to see them in the rareness of the opportunity, an occasion forced on as it were by Providence for reducing and settling the whole kingdom of Ireland : in the badness of the cause he was going against, three of the unluckiest vices of all others—Disloyalty, Ingratitude, and Insolency:- in the goodness and justice of the cause he was going to maintain ; a recovery of subjects from barbarism to humanity no less than from rebellion to obedience:—in the Earl's own character and qualities :-in the nature of the present difficulty, as caused by former errors :-in the greatness of the trust committed to him, which should stimulate him to deserve it :-nay, in the very thing which he had before used as an argument of dissuasion (for the same apprehension which alarms the judgment may serve to rouse the courage)--namely the difficulty of the enterprise and the nature of the enemy :---all which considerations, in making the merit of success greater might be expected to make the endeavour more strenuous. But in each successive note of encouragement there is heard also a voice of warning, sad and ominous. The vision of success which “some good spirit leads him to presage” is clouded with the presentiment of an approaching catastrophe. And all he can say in the way of advice amounts to no more than a repetition of the old warning-to seek merit, not fame; and to keep within the limits of obedience.

The date of the letter is not given: but I suppose it was written in March, 1599.

A LETTER OP ADVICE TO MY LORD OF EssEX, IMMEDIATELY

BEFORE HIS GOING INTO IRELAND. My singular good Lord,

Your late note of my silence in your occasions hath made me set down these few wandring lines, as one that would say somewhat, and can say nothing, touching your Lordship’s intended charge for Ireland : which my endeavour I know your Lordship will accept graciously; whether your Lordship take it by the handle of [the] occasion ministred from yourself, or of the affection from which it proceeds. Your Lordship is designed to a service of great merit and great

1 Add. MSS. 5503, fo. 6.

VOL. II.

K

peril; and as the greatness of the peril must needs include a like proportion of merit: so the greatness of the merit may include no small consequence of peril, if it be not temperately governed. For all immoderate success extinguisheth merit, and stirreth up distaste and envy; the assured forerunners of whole charges of peril. But I am at the last point first, some good spirit leading my pen to presage to your Lordship success; wherein, it is true, I am not without my oracles and divinations; none of them superstitious, and yet not all natural. For first, looking into the course of God's providence in things now depending, and calling to consideration how great things God hath done by her Majesty and for her; I collect he hath disposed of this great defection in Ireland, thereby to give an urgent occasion to the reduction of that whole kingdom; as upon the rebellion of Desmond there ensued the reduction of that whole province.

Next, your Lordship goeth against three of the unluckiest vices of all others, Disloyalty, Ingratitude, and Insolency; which three offences, in all examples, have seldom their doom adjourned to the world to come.

Lastly, he that shall have had? the honour to know your Lordship inwardly, as I have had, shall find bona exta, whereby he may ground a better divination of good than upon the dissection of a sacrifice. But that part I leave; for it is fit for others to be confident upon you, and you to be confident upon the cause; the goodness and justice whereof is such as can hardly be matched in any example; it being no ambitious war against foreigners, but a recovery of subjects, and that after lenity of conditions often tried; and a recovery of them not only to obedience, but to humanity and policy, from more than Indian barbarism.

There is yet another kind of divination familiar in matters of state, being that which Demosthenes so often relieth upon in his time, when he saith, That which for the time past is worst of all, is for the time to come the best : which is, that things go ill, not by accident, but by errors. Wherein, if

Wherein, if your Lordship have been heretofore a waking censor, you must look for no other now, but Medice, cura teipsum. And though you should not be the blessed* physician that cometh in the declination of the dis

1 So in Resuscitatio. Add. MS. 5503 has “the assured forerunners of changes." ? had omitted in MS.

3 So 'Cabala. The words fronı "upon " to "confident" are omitted both in the MS. and in the 'Resuscitatio.' 4 shall and happy in ‘Resuscitatio.'

« AnteriorContinuar »