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if a state run most to noblemen and gentleman, and that the husband-
Now when we remember that in those days there was no standing
The difficulty, in this as in all such cases, was to enforce the provisions of a law made to counteract a natural tendency of civilization. In spite of Henry VII.'s Act,“ sundry towns, parishes, and houses
| Hist. of Hen. VII., Works, vi. pp. 93-5. VOL. II.
of husbandry had of late years been destroyed and become desolate;" } and the conditions of the time being well fitted to remind statesmen of the importance of the policy, Bacon commenced the session with a motion for leave to bring in two bills on the subject. Of his speech we have only a meagre and obviously inaccurate report, little better I suspect than a string of fragments of sentences connected by transitional words to make them read grammatically. But it helps to show what he was about at this time.
SPEECH AGAINST ENCLOSURES.
Mr. Bacon made a motion against depopulation of towns and houses of husbandry, and for the maintenance of husbandry and tillage. And to this purpose he brought in two bills, as he termed it, not drawn with polished pen but with a polished heart, free from affection and affectation. And because former laws are medicines of our understanding, he said he had perused the preambles of former statutes, and by them did see the inconveniences of this matter, being then scarce out of the shell, to be now fully ripened. And he said that the overflowing of people here made a shrinking and abating elsewhere; and that these two mischiefs, though they be exceeding great, yet they seem the less, because Quæ mala cum multis patimur leviora videntur. And though it may be thought ill and very prejudicial to lords that have enclosed great grounds, and pulled down even whole towns, and converted them to sheep-pastures; yet considering the increase of people and the benefit of the commonwealth, I doubt not but every man will deem the revival of former moth. eaten laws in this point a praiseworthy thing. For in matters of policy ill is not to be thought ill which bringeth forth good. For enclosure of grounds brings depopulation, which brings forth first idleness, secondly decay of tillage, thirdly subversion of houses, and decrease of charity and charge to the poor's maintenance, fourthly the impoverishing the state of the realm. A law for the taking away of which inconveniences is not to be thought ill or hurtful unto the general state. And I should be sorry to see within this kingdom that piece of Ovid's verse prove true, "Jam seges est ubi Troja fuit;" so in England, instead of a whole town full of people, none but green fields, but a shepherd and a dog. The eye of experience is the sure eye, but the eye
1 Preamble to the Act of 1597.
of wisdom is the quick-sighted eye; and by experience we daily
The notices of these bills in the Journals, as they passed through
Of the history of the Subsidy Bill, we learn from the Journals
Hargrave MSS. 278. 311. A copy, scarcely differing from that in D'Ewes's
to the bill of 1593 had not been justified by the event, and that the people had been found well enough able to bear the double payment. If it had caused any material discontent in the country, it is hardly conceivable that there should have been no member in the House to represent that discontent.
Of the speech which Bacon nade on the motion for the Committee we are fortunate in having a report preserved by himself. Whether this and others similarly preserved were taken from the draft prepared beforehand of what he intended to say, or from recollection set down afterwards of what he had said, we have I believe no means of knowing. In his later life it is known that he seldom did more than set down a few notes, from which he spoke extempore. And the fact that of the many speeches in Parliament which he made during Elizabeth's reign, many of them on subjects equally important, this is the only one of which he left a copy, makes me think that at this time he rarely prepared them in writing, and had not yet begun to take the trouble of setting them down from memory; but that this, being a kind of opening speech, and the occasion being important and delicate, he had written out at large, though he probably varied it in the delivery. However that may be, the manuscript still exists,—written in the hand of one of his servants, and carefully corrected in his own,—and as far as a speech written can represent the effect of a speech spoken, I do not doubt that it represents adequately his style of speaking in the House of Commons ;-a style which, in addressing an audience seriously intent on the business in hand, I can well believe to have been very effective: all the more from the absence of brilliant passages.'
1 Of the kind of resemblance which the notes of such speeches preserved in private memoranda of the debates bear to the speeches spoken, some notion may be formed by comparing the speech in the text with the following report of it in Hargrave MSS. 278. 314.
"Mr. Bacon made a motion touching the subsidy, and showed the great occasion the Queen had to be aided by her subjects, and alleged four principal causes to grant a subsidy. First, the French king's revolt. Secondly, the taking of Calais. Thirdly, the leading (bleeding ?] ulcer of Ireland. Fourthly, the invasion of the Spaniards and provocation of sea-matters : the least of which will in expense ask more than the double we last gave.
“Notwithstanding we know we live in a government more happy because free from extreme and most indureable (sic) taxes : the times being not to be compared to the time of Queen Mary, when every man was sworn to the utmost of his land and goods ; nor yet to Edward the Third his time, in which every fourth part was given to the King, towards his conquest in France.
“Neither will I speak of the dangerous impositions of France ; where 6d. was given for every chimney, and so every burying and christening and churching. All these are fitter for a regal than politic government ; for an austere and strange-born conqueror than for a mild and natural queen. Only this, I lay but the project before you, lest the multitude of petty matters like a wall cover over this principal point which ought principally to be remembered for the safety of ourselves and the good of the state."
A SPEECH IN THE PARLIAMENT, ELIZABETH 39, UPON THE
MOTION OF SUBSIDY.!
And please you, Mr. Speaker, I must consider the time which is spent, but yet so as I must consider also the matter which is great. This great cause was at the first so materially and weigbtily propounded, and after in such sort persuaded and enforced, and by him that last spake so much time taken and yet to good purpose ; as I shall speak at a great disadvantage. But because it hath been always used, and the mixture of this House doth so require it, that in causes of this nature there be some speech and opinion as well from persons of generality as by persons of authority, I will say somewhat and not much : wherein it shall not be fit for me to enter into or to insist upon secrets either of her Majesty's coffers or of her counsel; but my speech must be of a more vulgar nature.?
I will not enter, Mr. Speaker, into a laudative speech of the high and singular benefits which by her Majesty's most politic and happy government we receive, thereby to incite you to a retribution; partly because no breath of man can set them fort! worthily; and partly because I know, her Majesty in her magnanimitys doth bestow her benefits like her freest patents absque aliquo inde reddendo, not looking for anything again (if it were in respect only of her particular) but love and loyalty.
Neither will I now at this time put the case of this realm of England too precisely how it standeth with the subject in point of payments to the Crown: though I could make it appear by demonstration (what opinion soever be conceived) that never subjects were partakers of greater freedom and ease; and that whether you look abroad into other countries at this present time, or look back to former times in this our own country, we shall find an exceeding difference in matter of taxes; which now I reserve to mention; not so much in doubt to acquaint your ears with foreign strains, or to dig up the sepulchres of buried
Harl. MSS. 6842, fo. 132 ; a paper belonging apparently to the same collection of which the bulk will be found in vol. 6797.
Originally, “must be like those propositions which when they are once demonstrated every man thinks he knows them before, though perchance knowing them he did not so observe them, or observing them he did not apply them so fully.” Altered as in the text in Bacon's hand.
Originally, “ in her high magnanimity, which we in our humble and ground conceits cannot reach to measure.”