« VorigeDoorgaan »
so much the more dangerous, by how much he is master of a more eminent wisdom (or, rather, cunning) and some show of indifferent virtues, to which his prince is particularly inclined. For we are too apt to imagine those to have all manner of virtues, and the greatest capacity, who seem to enjoy those we have a particular esteem for. As this must be confessed a harder task for the favourite, so it must likewise be owned more difficult to remedy for a virtuous temper is much harder to be brought off from an esteem of a beloved virtue, or the possession of it, than a vicious man from his corrupt inclinations. For there is such a conviction in vice, that the most wicked by reason and thought may be worked from it; but all the sufferings, that proceed from mistaken virtue, serve only to harden the sufferer, while he thinks he undergoes them for righteousness' sake.
• But I think there is one rule infallible in this case, by which a prince may easily discover the hypocrite, and avoid the evils of the hypocrisy; and that is, when the pretender aims at engrossing the ear and power of the prince: for that is a plain argument, that he stands not on a sound bottom, and fears that the cheat will be discovered to the prince by a communication of counsel, and his hearing the rest of his wise and honest subjects, on all causes that relate to the public good of the country or the service of the prince; because they have an equal share in the welfare of both, and will not by common consent betray their own interest, which is involved in the other. This made a wise prince say, that in the -multitude of counsellors is safety. Whence, by a
natural consequence, it is plain, that in one there is danger; danger to the glory of the prince, and the happiness of the people: and often, very justly, ruin to the very person, who by such unjust measures hoped to gain power and felicity.
• The passions too much indulged, and not justly regulated and governed by the sacred rules of right reason, are and always have been the source of all miseries and misfortunes, both private and public. And it is impossible, that any one of mortal race can escape pain greater or less, who will hear no other advices. The highest and most aweful stations cannot secure the greatest monarchs from troubles and misfortunes, who will be led by them. And I think it is too plain to need any proof, that no prince can be guided by any one minister, but through a passionate fondness of him, either for his imaginary virtues or agreeable vices: and I think it is as plain, that such a prince, and the kingdom governed by him, must be miserable in the end. And for this reason, all wise statesmen agree, that a prince or state ought to have no passions, if they would prosper in glory and power.
It is very true, that valour and conduct in armies may shine in one subject above another; that frugality and good management may in another: but till we can find one man master of all knowledge and all virtues, it will never be safe nor honourable for any prince wholly to confide himself and his affairs to either, exclusive of all others. For that nation is in a lost and undone condition indeed, that can afford but one man among all it's nobility and gentry qualified to serve the public, and in whom the prince can
not have an equal confidence. Nay, it is an argument of the weakness and depravity of a prince, who if he encouraged and rewarded virtue, would not want numbers of able heads to assist him.
But, Madam, I must remember to whom it is that I am speaking, to one of the wisest and best of princes; on whom the first flattery can never have any effect, as being entirely free from all vicious inclinations, and of too good judgement to be imposed on by the fairest appearances of virtue so far, as to lose the juster considerations of public good in the shining qualities of any particular. Under you, Madam, we find that saying true, 'How happy is the kingdom governed by a philosopher!' We feel the blessing, and every day experience the manna of your reign. And how indulgent soever your Majesty may be thought to the eminent excellences of some, yet I have no manner of fear that they will ever be able to expel your Majesty's affections from all your other subjects, or make you ever deviate to a partiality in their favour against the good and universal cries of your people.
'This noble temper of your Majesty it is, that secures me against all fears from this freedom, which I have taken; since you will easily see a public spirit, void of all private aims, shine through the whole. I have, therefore, only to add my ardent wishes for the prosperous and long reign of your Majesty, over a people that are sensible of the blessing, which Providence has bestowed on them in their gracious Queen.'
STANZAS SENT, WITH A NEW YEAR'S GIFT OF A SPINNINGWHEEL, BY SIR WILLIAM CECIL TO HIS DAUGHTER.
years do grow, so cares increase,
Yet for your years and New Year's Gift
But one thing first I wish and pray,
And play the rest, as times require.
EARL OF ESSEX.*
ROBERT DEVEREUX was the eldest son of Walter first Earl of Essex, by Lettice daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, who was related to Queen Elizabeth. He was born in 1567 at Netherwood, his father's seat in Herefordshire.
This nobleman, destined subsequently to run an illustrious career, was during his tender years so backward in his learning, that his father died with a very humble idea of his abilities: but this, in the judgement of many, proceeded from his preference of his younger son, Walter, who it appears had quicker parts in his childhood. On his death-bed however, he recommended Robert, then in the tenth year of his age, to the protection of Thomas Radcliffe Earl of Sussex, and to the care of Lord Burghley, whom he appointed his guardian. Water
* AUTHORIties. Camden's Annals of Queen Elizabeth; Baker's Chronicle; Winstanley's English Worthies; Birch's Memoirs, &c. of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth; and Hume's History of England.