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Preface to The History of the World

Sir Walter Raleigh (1614)

HOW unfit and how unworthy a choice I have made of myself, to undertake a work of this mixture, mine own reason, though exceeding weak, hath sufficiently resolved me. For had it been begotten then with my first dawn of day, when the light of common knowledge began to open itself to my younger years, and before any wound received either from Fortune or Time, I might yet well have doubted that the darkness of Age and Death would have covered over both It and Me, long before the performance. For, beginning with the Creation, I have proceeded with the History of the World ; and lastly purposed (some few sallies excepted) to confine my discourse with this our renowned Island of Great Britain. I confess that it had better sorted with my disability, the better part of whose times are run out in other travails, to have set together (as I could) the unjointed and scattered frame of our English affairs, than of the universal : in whom, had there been no other defect (who am all defect) than the time of the day, it were enough ; the day of a tempestuous life, drawn on to the very evening ere I began. But those inmost and soul-piercing wounds, which are ever aching while uncured ; with the desire to satisfy those few friends, which I have tried by the fire of adversity, the former enforcing, the latter persuading ; have caused me to make my thoughts legible, and myself the subject of every opinion, wise or weak.

To the world I present them, to which I am nothing indebted : neither have others that were, (Fortune changing) sped much better in any age. For prosperity and adversity have evermore tied and untied vulgar affections. and as we see it in experience, that dogs do always bark at those they know not, and that it is their nature to accompany one another in those clamors : so it is with the inconsiderate multitude ; who wanting that virtue which we call honesty in all men, and that especial gift of God which we call charity in Christian men, condemn without hearing, and wound without offence given : led thereunto by uncertain report only ; which his Majesty truly acknowledgeth for the author of all lies. “Blame no man,” saith Siracides, “before thou have inquired the matter : understand first, and then reform righteously. ‘Rumor, res sine teste, sine judice, maligna, fallax’ ; Rumor is without witness, without judge, malicious and deceivable.” This vanity of vulgar opinion it was, that gave St. Augustine argument to affirm, that he feared the praise of good men, and detested that of the evil. and herein no man hath given a better rule, than this of Seneca ; “Conscientiæ satisfaciamus : nihil in famam laboremus, sequatur vel mala, dum bene merearis.” “Let us satisfy our own consciences, and not trouble ourselves with fame : be it never so ill, it is to be despised so we deserve well.”

For myself, if I have in anything served my Country, and prized it before my private, the general acceptation can yield me no other profit at this time, than doth a fair sunshine day to a sea-man after shipwreck ; and the contrary no other harm, than an outrageous tempest after the port attained. I know that I lost the love of many, for my fidelity towards Her, whom I must still honor in the dust ; though further than the defence of her excellent person, I never persecuted any man. of those that did it, and by what device they did it, He that is the Supreme Judge of all the world, hath taken the account : so as for this kind of suffering, I must say with Seneca, “Mala opinio, bene parta, delectat.
As for other men ; if there be any that have made themselves fathers of that fame which hath been begotten for them, I can neither envy at such their purchased glory, nor much lament mine own mishap in that kind ; but content myself to say with Virgil, “Sic vos non vobis,” in many particulars. to labor other satisfaction, were an effect of frenzy, not of hope, seeing it is not truth, but opinion, that can travel the world without a passport. For were it otherwise ; and were there not as many internal forms of the mind, as there are external figures of men ; there were then some possibility to persuade by the mouth of one advocate, even equity alone.

But such is the multiplying and extensive virtue of dead earth, and of that breath-giving life which God hath cast upon time and dust, as that among those that were, of whom we read and hear ; and among those that are, whom we see and converse with ; everyone hath received a several picture of face, and everyone a diverse picture of mind ; everyone a form apart, everyone a fancy and cogitation differing : there being nothing wherein Nature so much triumpheth as in dissimilitude. From whence it cometh that there is found so great diversity of opinions ; so strong a contrariety of inclinations ; so many natural and unnatural ; wise, foolish, manly, and childish affections and passions in mortal men. For it is not the visible fashion and shape of plants, and of reasonable creatures, that makes the difference of working in the one, and of condition in the other ; but the form internal.
And though it hath pleased God to reserve the art of reading men’s thoughts to himself : yet, as the fruit tells the name of the tree ; so do the outward works of men (so far as their cogitations are acted) give us whereof to guess at the rest. Nay, it were not hard to express the one by the other, very near the life, did not craft in many, fear in the most, and the world’s love in all, teach every capacity, according to the compass it hath, to qualify and make over their inward deformities for a time. Though it be also true, “Nemo potest diu personam ferre fictam : cito in naturam suam residunt, quibus veritas non subest” : “No man can long continue masked in a counterfeit behavior : the things that are forced for pretences having no ground of truth, cannot long dissemble their own natures.” Neither can any man (saith Plutarch) so change himself, but that his heart may be sometimes seen at his tongue’s end.

In this great discord and dissimilitude of reasonable creatures, if we direct ourselves to the multitude ; “omnis honestæ rei malus judex est vulgus” : “The common people are evil judges of honest things, and whose wisdom (saith Ecclesiastes) is to be despised” : if to the better sort, every understanding hath a peculiar judgment, by which it both censureth other men, and valueth itself. and therefore unto me it will not seem strange, though I find these my worthless papers torn with rats : seeing the slothful censurers of all ages have not spared to tax the Reverend Fathers of the Church, with ambition ; the severest men to themselves, with hypocrisy ; the greatest lovers of justice, with popularity ; and those of the truest valor and fortitude, with vain-glory. But of these natures which lie in wait to find fault, and to turn good into evil, seeing Solomon complained long since : and that the very age of the world renders it every day after other more malicious ; I must leave the professors to their easy ways of reprehension, than which there is nothing of more facility.

To me it belongs in the first part of this Preface, following the common and approved custom of those who have left the memories of time past to after ages, to give, as near as I can, the same right to history which they have done. Yet seeing therein I should but borrow other men’s words, I will not trouble the Reader with the repetition. True it is that among many other benefits for which it hath been honored, in this one it triumpheth over all human knowledge, that it hath given us life in our understanding, since the world itself had life and beginning, even to this day : yea, it hath triumphed over time, which besides it nothing but eternity hath triumphed over : for it hath carried our knowledge over the vast and devouring space of many thousands of years, and given so fair and piercing eyes to our mind ; that we plainly behold living now (as if we had lived then) that great world, “Magni Dei sapiens opus,” “The wise work (saith Hermes) of a great God,” as it was then, when but new to itself. By it (I say) it is, that we live in the very time when it was created : we behold how it was governed : how it was covered with waters, and again repeopled : how kings and kingdoms have flourished and fallen, and for what virtue and piety God made prosperous ; and for what vice and deformity he made wretched, both the one and the other. and it is not the least debt which we owe unto history, that it hath made us acquainted with our dead ancestors ; and, out of the depth and darkness of the earth, delivered us their memory and fame. In a word, we may gather out of history a policy no less wise than eternal ; by the comparison and application of other men’s fore-passed miseries with our own like errors and ill deservings. But it is neither of examples the most lively instruction, nor the words of the wisest men, nor the terror of future torments, that hath yet so wrought in our blind and stupified minds, as to make us remember, that the infinite eye and wisdom of God doth pierce through all our pretences ; as to make us remember, that the justice of God doth require none other accuser than our own consciences : which neither the false beauty of our apparent actions, nor all the formality, which (to pacify the opinions of men) we put on, can in any, or the least kind, cover from his knowledge. and so much did that heathen wisdom confess, no way as yet qualified by the knowledge of a true God. If any (saith Euripides) “having in his life committed wickedness, thinks he can hide it from the everlasting gods, he thinks not well.”

To repeat God’s judgments in particular, upon those of all degrees, which have played with his mercies would require a volume apart : for the sea of examples hath no bottom. The marks, set on private men, are with their bodies cast into the earth ; and their fortunes, written only in the memories of those that lived with them : so as they who succeed, and have not seen the fall of others, do not fear their own faults. God’s judgments upon the greater and greatest have been left to posterity ; first, by those happy hands which the Holy Ghost hath guided ; and secondly, by their virtue, who have gathered the acts and ends of men mighty and remarkable in the world. Now to point far off, and to speak of the conversion of angels into devils ; for ambition : or of the greatest and most glorious kings, who have gnawn the grass of the earth with beasts for pride and ingratitude towards God : or of that wise working of Pharaoh, when he slew the infants of Israel, ere they had recovered their cradles : or of the policy of Jezebel, in covering the murder of Naboth by a trial of the Elders, according to the Law, with many thousands of the like : what were it other, than to make an hopeless proof, that far-off examples would not be left to the same far-off respects, as heretofore ? For who hath not observed, what labor, practice, peril, bloodshed, and cruelty, the kings and princes of the world have undergone, exercised, taken on them, and committed ; to make themselves and their issues masters of the world ? and yet hath Babylon, Persia, Syria, Macedon, Carthage, Rome, and the rest no fruit, no flower, grass, nor leaf, springing upon the face of the earth, of those seeds : no, their very roots and ruins do hardly remain. “Omnia quae manu hominum facta sunt, vel manu hominum evertuntur, vel stando et durando deficiunt” : “All that the hand of man can make, is either overturned by the hand of man, or at length by standing and continuing consumed.” The reasons of whose ruins, are diversely given by those that ground their opinions on second causes. All kingdoms and states have fallen (say the politicians) by outward and foreign force, or by inward negligence and dissension, or by a third cause arising from both. Others observe, that the greatest have sunk down under their own weight ; of which Livy hath a touch : “eo crevit, ut magnitudine laboret sua” : Others, That the divine providence (which Cratippus objected to Pompey) hath set down the date and period of every estate, before their first foundation and erection. But hereof I will give myself a day over to resolve.

For seeing the first books of the following story, have undertaken the discourse of the first kings and kingdoms : and that it is impossible for the short life of a Preface, to travel after, and overtake far off antiquity, and to judge of it ; I will, for the present, examine what profit hath been gathered by our own Kings, and their neighbour princes : who having beheld, both in divine and human letters, the success of infidelity, injustice, and cruelty ; have (notwithstanding) planted after the same pattern.

True it is, that the judgments of all men are not agreeable ; nor (which is more strange) the affection of any one man stirred up alike with examples of like nature : but every one is touched most, with that which most nearly seemeth to touch his own private, or otherwise best suiteth with his apprehension. But the judgments of God are forever unchangeable : neither is He wearied by the long process of time, and won to give His blessing in one age, to that which He hath cursed in another. Wherefor those that are wise, or whose wisdom if it be not great, yet is true and well grounded, will be able to discern the bitter fruits of irreligious policy, as well among those examples that are found in ages removed far from the present, as in those of latter times. and that it may no less appear by evident proof, than by asseveration, that ill doing hath always been attended with ill success ; I will here, by way of preface, run over some examples, which the work ensuing hath not reached.

Among our kings of the Norman race, we have no sooner passed over the violence of the Norman Conquest, than we encounter with a singular and most remarkable example of God’s justice, upon the children of Henry the First. For that King, when both by force, craft, and cruelty, he had dispossessed, overreached, and lastly made blind and destroyed his elder brother Robert Duke of Normandy, to make his own sons lords of this land : God cast them all, male and female, nephews and nieces (Maud excepted) into the bottom of the sea, with above a hundred and fifty others that attended them ; whereof a great many were noble and of the King dearly beloved.

To pass over the rest, till we come to Edward the Second ; it is certain, that after the murder of that King, the issue of blood then made, though it had some times of stay and stopping, did again break out, and that so often and in such abundance, as all our princes of the masculine race (very few excepted) died of the same disease. and although the young years of Edward the Third made his knowledge of that horrible fact no more than suspicious ; yet in that he afterwards caused his own uncle, the Earl of Kent, to die, for no other offence than the desire of his brother’s redemption, whom the Earl as then supposed to be living ; the King making that to be treated in his uncle, which was indeed treason in himself, (had his uncle’s intelligence been true) this I say made it manifest, that he was not ignorant of what had past, nor greatly desirous to have had it otherwise, though he caused Mortimer to die for the same.

This cruelty the secret and unsearchable judgment of God revenged on the grandchild of Edward the Third : and so it fell out, even to the last of that line, that in the second or third descent they were all buried under the ruins of those buildings, of which the mortar had been tempered with innocent blood. For Richard the Second, who saw both his Treasurers, his Chancellor, and his Steward, with divers others of his counsellors, some of them slaughtered by the people, others in his absence executed by his enemies, yet he always took himself for over-wise to be taught by examples. The Earls of Huntingdon and Kent, Montagu and Spencer, who thought themselves as great politicians in those days as others have done in these : hoping to please the King, and to secure themselves, by the murder of Gloucester ; died soon after, with many other their adherents, by the like violent hands ; and far more shamefully than did that duke. and as for the King himself (who in regard of many deeds, unworthy of his greatness, cannot be excused, as the disavowing himself by breach of faith, charters, pardons, and patents) : he was in the prime of his youth deposed, and murdered by his cousingerman and vassal, Henry of Lancaster, afterwards Henry the Fourth.

This King, whose title was weak, and his obtaining the Crown traitorous ; who brake faith with the lords at his landing, protesting to intend only the recovery of his proper inheritance, brake faith with Richard himself ; and brake faith with all the kingdom in Parliament, to whome he swore that the deposed King should live. After that he had enjoyed this realm some few years, and in that time had been set upon all sides by his subjects, and never free from conspiracies and rebellions : he saw (if souls immortal see and discern anythings after the bodies’ death) his grandchild Henry the Sixth, and his son the Prince, suddenly and without mercy, murdered ; the possession of the Crown (for which he had caused so much blood to be poured out) transferred from his race, and by the issues of his enemies worn and enjoyed : enemies, whom by his own practice he supposed that he had left no less powerless, than the succession of the Kingdom questionless ; by entailing the same upon his own issues by Parliament. and out of doubt, human reason could have judged no otherwise, but that these cautious provisions of the father, seconded by the valor and signal victories of his son Henry the Fifth, had buried the hopes of every competitor, under the despair of all reconquest and recovery. I say, that human reason might so have judged, were not this passage of Casaubon also true ; “Dies, hora, momentum, evertendis dominationibus sufficit, quae adamantinis credebantur radicibus esse fundatae :” “A day, an hour, a moment, is enough to overturn the things, that seemed to have been founded and rooted in adamant.”

Now for Henry the Sixth, upon whom the great storm of his grandfather’s grievous faults fell, as it formerly had done upon Richard the grandchild of Edward : although he was generally esteemed for a gentle and innocent prince, yet as he refused the daughter of Armagnac, of the House of Navarre, the greatest of the Princes of France, to whom he was affianced (by which match he might have defended his inheritance in France) and married the daughter of Anjou, (by which he lost all that he had in France) so in condescending to the unworthy death of his uncle of Gloucester, the main and strong pillar of the House of Lancaster ; he drew on himself and this kingdom the greatest joint-loss and dishonor, that ever it sustained since the Norman Conquest. of whom it may truly be said which a counsellor of his own spake of Henry the Third of France, “Qu’il estait une fort gentile Prince ; mais son reigne est advenu en une fort mauvais temps :” “He was a very gentle Prince ; but his reign happened in a very unfortunate season.”

It is true that Buckingham and Suffolk were the practicers and contrivers of the Duke’s death : Buckingham and Suffolk, because the Duke gave instructions to their authority, which otherwise under the Queen had been absolute ; the Queen in respect of her personal wound, “spretaeque injuria formae,” because Gloucester dissuaded her marriage. But the fruit was answerable to the seed ; the success to the counsel. For after the cutting down of Gloucester, York grew up so fast, as he dared to dispute his right both by arguments and arms ; in which quarrel, Suffolk and Buckingham, with the greatest number of their adherents, were dissolved. and although for his breach of oath by sacrament, it pleased God to strike down York : yet his son the Earl of March, following the plain path which his father had trodden out, despoiled Henry the father, and Edward the son, both of their lives and kingdom. and what was the end now of that politic lady the Queen, other than this, that she lived to behold the wretched ends of all her partakers : that she lived to look on, while her husband the King, and her only son the Prince, were hewn in sunder ; while the Crown was set on his head that did it. She lived to see herself despoiled of her estate, and of her moveables : and lastly, her father, by rendering up to the Crown of France the Earldom of Provence and other places, for the payment of fifty thousand crowns for her ransom, to become a stark beggar. and this was the end of that subtility, which Siracides calleth “fine” but “unrighteous :” for other fruit hath it never yielded since the world was.
And now it came to Edward the Fourth’s turn (though after many difficulties) to triumph. For all the plants of Lancaster were rooted up, one only Earl of Richmond excepted : whom also he had once bought of the Duke of Brittany, but could not hold him. and yet was not this of Edward such a plantation, as could any way promise itself stability. For this Edward the King (to omit more than many of his other cruelties) beheld and allowed the slaughter which Gloucester, Dorset, Hastings, and others, made of Edward the Prince in his own presence ; of which tragical actors, there was not one that escaped the judgment of God in the same kind. and he, which (besides the execution of his brother Clarence, for none other offence than he himself had formed in his own imagination) instructed Gloucester to kill Henry the Sixth, his predecessor ; taught him also by the same art to kill his own sons and successors, Edward and Richard. For those kings which have sold the blood of others at a low rate ; have but made the market for their own enemies, to buy of theirs at the same price.

To Edward the Fourth succeeded Richard the Third, the greatest master in mischief of all that fore-went him : who although, for the necessity of his tragedy, he had more parts to play, and more to perform in his own person, than all the rest ; yet he so well fitted every affection that played with him, as if each of them had but acted his own interest. For he wrought so cunningly upon the affections of Hastings and Buckingham, enemies to the Queen and to all her kindred, as he easily allured them to condescend, that Rivers and Grey, the King’s maternal uncle and half brother, should (for the first) be severed from him : secondly, he wrought their consent to have them imprisoned : and lastly (for the avoiding of future inconvenience) to have their heads severed from their bodies. and having now brought those his chief instruments to exercise that common precept which the Devil hath written on every post, namely, to depress those whom they had grieved, and destroy those whom they had depressed ; he urged that argument so far and so forcibly, as nothing but the death of the young King himself, and of his brother, could fashion the conclusion. For he caused it to be hammered into Buckingham’s head, that, whensoever the King or his brother should have able years to exercise their power, they would take a most severe revenge of that cureless wrong, offered to their uncle and brother, Rivers and Grey.

But this was not his manner of reasoning with Hastings, whose fidelity to his master’s sons was without suspect : and yet the Devil, who never dissuades by impossibility, taught him to try him. and so he did. But when he found by Catesby, who sounded him, that he was not fordable ; he first resolved to kill him sitting in council : wherein having failed with his sword, he set the hangman upon him, with a weapon of more weight. and because nothing else could move his appetite, he caused his head to be stricken off, before he ate his dinner. A greater judgment of God than this upon Hastings, I have never observed in any story. For the selfsame day that the Earl Rivers, Grey, and others, were (without trial of law, of offence given) by Hastings’ advice executed at Pomfret : I say Hastings himself in the same day, and (as I take it) in the same hour, in the same lawless manner had his head stricken off in the tower of London. But Buckingham lived a while longer ; and with an eloquent oration persuaded the Londoners to elect Richard for their king. and having received the Earldom of Hereford for reward, besides the high hope of marrying his daughter to the King’s only son ; after many grievous vexations of mind, and unfortunate attempts, being in the end betrayed and delivered up by his trustiest servant ; he had his head severed from his body at Salisbury, without the trouble of any of his Peers. and what success had Richard himself after all these mischiefs and murders, policies, and counterpolicies to Christian religion : and after such time as with a most merciless hand he had pressed out the breath of his nephews and natural lords ; other than the prosperity of so short a life, as it took end, ere himself could well look over and discern it ? The great outcry of innocent blood, obtained at God’s hands the effusion of his ; who became a spectacle of shame and dishonor, both to his friends and enemies.

This cruel King, Henry the Seventh cut off ; and was therein (no doubt) the immediate instrument of God’s justice. A politic Prince he was if ever there were any, who by the engine of his wisdom, beat down and overturned as many strong oppositions both before and after he wore the Crown, as ever King of England did : I say by his wisdom, because as he ever left the reins of his affections in the hands of his profit, so he always weighed his undertakings by his abilities, leaving nothing more to hazard than so much as cannot be denied it in all human actions. He had well observed the proceedings of Louis the Eleventh, whom he followed in all that was royal or royal-like, but he was far more just, and begun not their processes whom he hated or feared by the execution, as Louis did.
He could never endure any mediation in rewarding his servants, and therein exceeding wise ; for whatsoever himself gave, he himself received back the thanks and the love, knowing it well that the affections of men (purchased by nothing so readily as by benefits) were trains that better became great kings, than great subjects. On the contrary, in whatsoever he grieved his subjects, he wisely put it off on those, that he found fit ministers for such actions. Howsoever the taking off of Stanley’s head, who set the Crown on his, and the death of the young Earl of Warwick, son to George, Duke of Clarence, shows, as the success also did, that he held somewhat of the errors of his ancestors ; for his possession in the first line ended in his grandchildren, as that of Edward the Third and Henry the Fourth had done.

Now for King Henry the Eighth ; if all the pictures and patterns of a merciless prince were lost in the world, they might all again be painted to the life, out of the story of this king. For how many servants did he advance in haste (but for what virtue no man could suspect) and with the change of his fancy ruined again ; no man knowing for what offence ? to how many others of more desert gave he abundant flowers from whence to gather honey, and in the end of harvest burnt them in the hive ? How many wives did he cut off, and cast off, as his fancy and affection changed ? How many princes of the blood (whereof some of them for age could hardly crawl towards the block) with a world of others of all degrees (of whom our common chronicles have kept the account) did he execute ? Yea, in his very death-bed, and when he was at the point to have given his account to God for the abundance of blood already spilt, he imprisoned the Duke of Norfolk the father ; and executed the Earl of Surrey the son ; the one, whose deservings he knew not how to value, having never omitted anything that concerned his own honor, and the King’s service ; the other never having committed anything worthy of his least displeasure : the one exceeding valiant and advised ; the other no less valiant than learned, and of excellent hope. But besides the sorrows which he heaped upon the fatherless and widows at home : and besides the vain enterprises abroad, wherein it is thought that he consumed more treasure than all our victorious kings did in their several conquests ; what causeless and cruel wars did he make upon his own nephew King James the First ? What laws and wills did he devise to cut off, and cut down those branches, which sprang from the same root that himself did ? and in the end (notwithstanding these his so many irreligious provisions) it pleased God to take away all his own, without increase ; though, for themselves in their several kinds, all princes of eminent virtue. For these words of Samuel to Agag King of the Amalekites, have been verified upon many others : “As thy sword hath made other women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among other women.” and that blood which the same King Henry affirmed, that the cold air of Scotland had frozen up in the North, God hath diffused by the sunshine of his grace : from whence his Majesty now living, and long to live, is descended. of whom I may say it truly, “That if all the malice of the world were infused into one eye : yet could it not discern in his life, even to this day, any one of these foul spots, by which the consciences of all the forenamed princes (in effect) have been defiled ; nor any drop of that innocent blood on the sword of his justice, with which the most that fore-went him have stained both their hands and fame. and for this Crown of England ; it may truly be avowed : that he hath received it even from the hand of God, and hath stayed the time of putting it on, howsoever he were provoked to hasten it : that he never took revenge of any man, that sought to put him beside it : that he refused the assistance of Her enemies, that wore it long, with as great glory as ever princess did : that his Majesty entered not by a breach, nor by blood ; but by the ordinary gate, which his own right set open ; and into which, by a general love and obedience, he was received. and howsoever his Majesty’s preceding title to this Kingdom was preferred by many princes (witness the Treaty at Cambray in the year 1559) yet he never pleased to dispute it, during the life of that renowned lady his predecessor ; no, notwithstanding the injury of not being declared heir, in all the time of her long reign.

Neither ought we to forget, or neglect our thankfulness to God for the uniting of the northern parts of Britain to the south, to wit, of Scotland to England, which though they were severed but by small brooks and banks, yet by reason of the long continued war, and the cruelties exercised upon each other, in the affections of the nations, they were infinitely severed. This I say is not the least of God’s blessings which his Majesty hath brought with him unto this land : no, put all our petty grievances together, and heap them up to their height, they will appear but as a molehill compared with the mountain of this concord. and if all the historians since then have acknowledged the uniting of the Red Rose, and the White, for the greatest happiness (Christian Religion excepted), that ever this kingdom received from God, certainly the peace between the two lions of gold and gules, and the making them one, doth by many degrees exceed the former ; for by it, besides the sparing of our British blood, heretofore and during the difference, so often and abundantly shed, the state of England is more assured, the kingdom more enabled to recover her ancient honor and rights, and by it made more invincible, than by all our former alliances, practices, policies, and conquests. It is true that hereof we do not yet find the effect. But had the Duke of Parma in the year 1588, joined the army which he commanded, with that of Spain, and landed it on the south coast ; and had his Majesty at the same time declared himself against us in the North : it is easy to divine what had become of the liberty of England, certainly we would then without murmur have bought this union at far greater price than it hath since cost us. It is true, that there was never any common weal or kingdom in the world, wherein no man had cause to lament. Kings live in the world, and not above it. They are not infinite to examine every man’s cause, or to relieve every man’s wants. and yet in the latter (though to his own prejudice), his Majesty hath had more comparison of other men’s necessities, than of his own coffers. of whom it may be said, as of Solomon, “Dedit Deus Solomoni latitudinem cordis” : Which if other men do not understand with Pineda, to be meant by liberality, but by “latitude of knowledge” ; yet may it be better spoken of His Majesty, than of any king that ever England had ; who as well in divine, as human understanding, hath exceeded all that fore-went him, by many degrees.

I could say much more of the King’s majesty, without flattery : did I not fear the imputation of presumption, and withal suspect, that it might befall these papers of mine (though the loss were little) as it did the pictures of Queen Elizabeth, made by unskilful and common painters, which by her own commandment were knocked in pieces and cast into the fire. For ill artists, in setting out the beauty of the external ; and weak writers, in describing the virtues of the internal ; do often leave to posterity, of well formed faces a deformed memory ; and of the most perfect and princely minds, a most defective representation. It may suffice, and there needs no other discourse ; if the honest reader but compare the cruel and turbulent passages of our former kings, and of other their neighbor-princes (of whom for that purpose I have inserted this brief discourse) with his Majesty’s temperate, revengeless and liberal disposition : I say, that if the honest reader weigh them justly, and with an even hand ; and withal but bestow every deformed child on his true parent ; he shall find, that there is no man that hath so just cause to complain, as the King himself hath. Now as we have told the success of the trumperies and cruelties of our own kings, and other great personages : so we find, that God is everywhere the same God. and as it pleased him to punish the usurpation, and unnatural cruelty of Henry the First, and of our third Edward, in their children for many generations : so dealt He with the sons of Louis Debonnaire, the son of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne. For after such time as Debonnaire of France, had torn out the eyes of Bernard his nephew, the son of Pepin the eldest son of Charlemagne, and heir of the Empire, and then caused him to die in prison, as did our Henry to Robert his eldest brother : there followed nothing but murders upon murders, poisoning, imprisonments, and civil war ; till the whole race of that famous Emperor was extinguished. and though Debonnaire, after he had rid himself of his nephew by a violent death ; and of his bastard brothers by a civil death (having inclosed them with sure guard, all the days of their lives, within a monastery) held himself secure from all opposition : yet God raised up against him (which he suspected not) his own sons, to vex him, to invade him, to take him prisoner, and to depose him ; his own sons, with whom (to satisfy their ambition) he had shared his estate, and given them crowns to wear, and kingdoms to govern, during his own life. Yea his eldest son, Lothair (for he had four, three by his first wife, and one by his second ; to wit, Lothair, Pepin, Louis, and Charles), made it the cause of his deposition, that he had used violence towards his brothers and kinsmen ; and that he had suffered his nephew (whom he might have delivered) to be slain. “Eo quod,” saith the text, “fratribus, et propinquis violentiam intulerit, et nepotem suum, quem ipse liberare poterat, interfici permiserit” : “Because he used violence to his brothers and kinsmen, and suffered his nephew to be slain whom he might have delivered.”

Yet did he that which few kings do ; namely, repent him of his cruelty. For, among many other things which he performed in the General Assembly of the States, it follows : “Post haec autem palam se errasse confessus, et imitatus Imperatoris Theodosii exemplum, poenitentiam spontaneam suscepit, tam de his, quam quae in Bernardum proprium nepotem gesserat” : “After this he did openly confess himself to have erred, and following the example of the Emperor Theodosius, he underwent voluntary penance, as well for his other offences, as for that which he had done against Bernard his own nephew.”
This he did ; and it was praise-worthy. But the blood that is unjustly spilt, is not again gathered up from the ground by repentance. These medicines, ministered to the dead, have but dead rewards.

This king, as I have said, had four sons. to Lothair his eldest he gave the Kingdom of Italy ; as Charlemagne, his father, had done to Pepin, the father of Bernard, who was to succeed him in the Empire. to Pepin the second son he gave the Kingdom of Aquitaine : to Louis, the Kingdom of Bavaria : and to Charles, whom he had by a second wife called Judith, the remainder of the Kingdom of France. But this second wife, being a mother-in-law to the rest, persuaded Debonnaire to cast his son Pepin out of Aquitaine, thereby to greaten Charles, which, after the death of his son Pepin, he prosecuted to effect, against his grandchild bearing the same name. In the meanwhile, being invaded by his son Louis of Bavaria, he dies for grief.

Debonnaire dead, Louis of Bavaria, and Charles afterwards called the Bald, and their nephew Pepin, of Aquitaine, join in league against the Emperor Lothair their eldest brother. They fight near to Auxerre the most bloody battle that ever was stroken in France : in which, the marvellous loss of nobility, and men of war, gave courage to the Saracens to invade Italy ; to the Huns to fall upon Almaine ; and the Danes to enter upon Normandy. Charles the Bald by treason seizeth upon his nephew Pepin, kills him in a cloister : Carloman rebels against his father, Charles the Bald ; the father burns out the eyes of his son Carloman ; Bavaria invades the Emperor Lothair his brother, Lothair quits the Empire, he is assailed and wounded to the heart by his own conscience, for his rebellion against his father, and for his other cruelties, and dies in a monastery. Charles the Bald, the uncle, oppresseth his nephews the sons of Lothair, he usurpeth the Empire to the prejudice of Louis of Bavaria his elder brother ; Bavaria’s armies and his son Carloman are beaten, he dies of grief, and the usurper Charles is poisoned by Zedechias a Jew, his physician, his son Louis le Bègue dies of the same drink. Bègue had Charles the Simple and two bastards, Louis and Carloman ; they rebel against their brother, but the eldest breaks his neck, the younger is slain by a wild boar ; the son of Bavaria had the same ill destiny, and brake his neck by a fall out of a window in sporting with his companions. Charles the Gross becomes lord of all that the sons of Debonnaire held in Germany ; wherewith not contented, he invades Charles the Simple : but being forsaken of his nobility, of his wife, and of his understanding, he dies a distracted beggar. Charles the Simple is held in wardship by Eudes, Mayor of the Palace, then by Robert the brother of Eudes : and lastly, being taken by the Earl of Vermandois, he is forced to die in the prison of Peron. Louis the son of Charles the Simple breaks his neck in chasing a wolf, and of the two sons of this Louis, the one dies of poison, the other dies in the prison of Orleans ; after whom Hugh Capet, of another race, and a stranger to the French, makes himself king.
These miserable ends had the issues of Debonnaire, who after he had once apparelled injustice with authority, his sons and successors took up the fashion, and wore that garment so long without other provision, as when the same was torn from their shoulders, every man despised them as miserable and naked beggars. The wretched success they had (saith a learned Frenchman) shows, “que en ceste mort il y avait plus du fait des hommes que de Dieu, ou de la justice” : “that in the death of that Prince, to wit, of Bernard the son of Pepin, the true heir of Charlemagne, men had more meddling than either God or justice had.”

But to come nearer home ; it is certain that Francis the First, one of the worthiest kings (except for that fact) that ever Frenchmen had, did never enjoy himself, after he had commended the destruction of the Protestants of Mirandol and Cabrieres, to the Parliament of Provence, which poor people were thereupon burnt and murdered ; men, women, and children. It is true that the said King Francis repented himself of the fact, and gave charge to Henry his son, to do justice upon the murderers, threatening his son with God’s judgments, if he neglected it. But this unseasonable care of his, God was not pleased to accept for payment. For after Henry himself was slain in sport by Montgomery, we all may remember what became of his four sons, Francis, Charles, Henry, and Hercules. of which although three of them became kings, and were married to beautiful and virtuous ladies : yet were they, one after another, cast out of the world, without stock or seed. and notwithstanding their subtility, and breach of faith ; with all their massacres upon those of the religion, and great effusion of blood, the crown was set on his head, whom they all labored to dissolve ; the Protestants remain more in number than ever they were, and hold to this day more strong cities than ever they had.

Let us now see if God be not the same God in Spain, as in England and France. towards whom we will look no further back than to Don Pedro of Castile : in respect of which Prince, all the tyrants of Sicil, our Richard the Third, and the great Ivan Vasilowich of Moscow, were but petty ones : this Castilian, of all Christian and heathen kings, having been the most merciless. For, besides those of his own blood and nobility, which he caused to be slain in his own court and chamber, as Sancho Ruis, the great master of Calatrava, Ruis Gonsales, Alphonso Tello, and Don John of Arragon, whom he cut in pieces and cast into the streets, denying him Christian burial : I say, besides these, and the slaughter of Gomes Mauriques, Diego Peres, Alphonso Gomes, and the great commander of Castile ; he made away the two infants of Arragon his cousin germans, his brother Don Frederick, Don John de la Cerde, Albuquergues, Nugnes de Guzman, Cornel, Cabrera, Tenorio, Mendes de toledo, Guttiere his great treasurer and all his kindred ; and a world of others. Neither did he spare his two youngest brothers, innocent princes : whom after he had kept in close prison from their cradles, till one of them had lived sixteen years, and the other fourteen, he murdered them there. Nay, he spared not his mother, nor his wife the Lady Blanche of Bourbon. Lastly, as he caused the Archbishop of toledo, and the Dean to be killed of purpose to enjoy their treasures ; so did he put to death Mahomet Aben Alhamar, King of Barbary, with thirty-seven of his nobility, that came unto him for succor, with a great sum of money, to levy (by his favor) some companies of soldiers to return withal. Yea, he would needs assist the hangman with his own hand, in the execution of the old king ; in so much as Pope Urban declareth him an enemy both to God and man. But what was his end ? Having been formerly beaten out of his kingdom, and re-established by the valor of the English nation, led by the famous Duke of Lancaster : he was stabbed to death by his younger brother, the Earl of Astramara, who dispossessed all his children of their inheritance ; which, but for the father’s injustice and cruelty, had never been in danger of any such thing.

If we can parallel any man with this king, it must be Duke John of Burgogne, who, after his traitorous murder of the Duke of Orleans, caused the Constable of Armagnac, the Chancellor of France, the Bishops of Constance, Bayeux, Eureux, Senlis, Saintes, and other religious and reverend Churchmen, the Earl of Gran Pre, Hector of Chartres, and (in effect) all the officers of justice, of the Chamber of Accounts, Treasury, and Request, (with sixteen hundred others to accompany them) to be suddenly and violently slain. Hereby, while he hoped to govern, and to have mastered France, he was soon after struck with an axe in the face, in the presence of the Dauphin ; and, without any leisure to repent his misdeeds, presently slain. These were the lovers of other men’s miseries : and misery found them out.

Now for the kings of Spain, which lived both with Henry the Seventh, Henry the Eighth, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth ; Ferdinand of Arragon was the first : and the first that laid the foundation of the present Austrian greatness. For this King did not content himself to hold Arragon by the usurpation of his ancestor ; and to fasten thereunto the Kingdom of Castile and Leon, which Isabel his wife held by strong hand, and his assistance, from her own niece the daughter of the last Henry : but most cruelly and craftily, without all color or pretence of right, he also cast his own niece out of the Kingdom of Navarre, and, contrary to faith, and the promise that he made to restore it, fortified the best places, and so wasted the rest, as there was no means left for any army to invade it. This King, I say, that betrayed also Ferdinand and Frederick, Kings of Naples, princes of his own blood, and by double alliance tied unto him ; sold them to the French : and with the same army, sent for their succor under Gonsalvo, cast them out ; and shared their kingdom with the French, whom afterwards he most shamefully betrayed.

This wise and politic King, who sold Heaven and his own honor, to make his son, the Prince of Spain, the greatest monarch of the world ; saw him die in the flower of his years ; and his wife great with child, with her untimely birth, at once and together buried. His eldest daughter married unto Don Alphonso, Prince of Portugal, beheld her first husband break his neck in her presence ; and being with child by her second, died with it. A just judgment of God upon the race of John, father to Alphonso, now wholly extinguished ; who had not only left many disconsolate mothers in Portugal, by the slaughter of their children ; but had formerly slain with his own hand, the son and only comfort of his aunt the Lady Beatrix, Duchess of Viseo.

The second daughter of Ferdinand, married to the Arch-Duke Philip, turned fool, and died mad and deprived. His third daughter, bestowed on King Henry the Eighth, he saw cast off by the King : the mother of many troubles in England ; and the mother of a daughter, that in her unhappy zeal shed a world of innocent blood ; lost Calais to the French ; and died heartbroken without increase. to conclude, all those kingdoms of Ferdinand have masters of a new name ; and by a strange family are governed and possessed.

Charles the Fifth, son to the Arch-Duke Philip, in whose vain enterprises upon the French, upon the Almains, and other princes and states, so many multitudes of Christian soldiers, and renowned captains were consumed ; who gave the while a most perilous entrance to the Turks, and suffered Rhodes, the Key of Christendom, to be taken ; was in conclusion chased out of France, and in a sort out of Germany ; and left to the French, Mentz, toule, and Verdun, places belonging to the Empire, stole away from Inspurg ; and scaled the Alps by torchlight, pursued by Duke Maurice ; having hoped to swallow up all those dominions wherein he concocted nothing save his own disgraces. and having, after the slaughter of so many millions of men, no one foot of ground in either : he crept into a cloister, and made himself a pensioner of an hundred thousand ducats by the year, to his son Philip, from whom he very slowly received his mean and ordinary maintenance.

His son again King Philip the Second, not satisfied to hold Holland and Zealand, (wrested by his ancestors from Jacqueline their lawful Princess) and to possess in peace many other provinces of the Netherlands : persuaded by that mischievous Cardinal of Granvile, and other Romish tyrants ; not only forgot the most remarkable services done to his father the Emperor by the nobilities of those countries, not only forgot the present made him upon his entry, of forty millions of florins, called the “Novaile aide” ; nor only forgot that he had twice most solemnly sworn to the General States, to maintain and preserve their ancient rights, privileges, and customs, which they had enjoyed under their thirty and five earls before him, Conditional Princes of those provinces : but beginning first to constrain them, and enthrall them by the Spanish Inquisition, and then to impoverish them by many new devised and intolerable impositions ; he lastly, by strong hand and main force, attempted to make himself not only an absolute monarch over them, like unto the kings and sovereigns of England and France ; but Turk-like to tread under his feet all their natural and fundamental laws, privileges, and ancient rights. to effect which, after he had easily obtained from the Pope a dispensation of his former oaths (which dispensation was the true cause of the war and bloodshed since then ;) and after he had tried what he could perform, by dividing of their own nobility, under the government of his base sister Margaret of Austria, and the Cardinal Granvile ; he employed that most merciless Spaniard Don Ferdinand Alvarez of toledo, Duke of Alva, followed with a powerful army of strange nations : by whom he first slaughtered that renowned captain, the Earl of Egmont, Prince of Gavare : and Philip Montmorency, Earl of Horn : made away Montigue, and the Marquis of Bergues, and cut off in those six years (that Alva governed) of gentlemen and others, eighteen thousand and six hundred, by the hands of the hangman, besides all his other barbarous murders and massacres. By whose ministry when he could not yet bring his affairs to their wished ends, having it in his hope to work that by subtility, which he had failed to perform by force ; he sent for governor his bastard brother Don John of Austria, a prince of great hope, and very gracious to those people. But he, using the same papal advantage that his predecessors had done, made no scruple to take oath upon the Holy Evangelists, to observe the treaty made with the General States ; and to discharge the Low Countries of all Spaniards, and other strangers therein garrisoned : towards whose pay and passport, the Netherlands strained themselves to make payment of six hundred thousand pounds. Which monies received, he suddenly surprised the citadels of Antwerp and Nemours : not doubting (being unsuspected by the states) to have possessed himself of all the mastering places of those provinces. For whatsoever he overtly pretended, he held in secret a contrary counsel with the Secretary Escovedo, Rhodus, Barlemont, and others, ministers of the Spanish tyranny, formerly practised, and now again intended. But let us now see the effect and end of this perjury and of all other the Duke’s cruelties. First, for himself, after he had murdered so many of the nobility ; executed (as aforesaid) eighteen thousand and six hundred in six years, and most cruelly slain man, woman, and child, in Mechlin, Zutphen, Naerden, and other places : notwithstanding his Spanish vaunt, that he would suffocate the Hollanders in their own butter-barrels, and milk-tubs ; he departed the country no otherwise accompanied, than with the curse and detestation of the whole nation ; leaving his master’s affairs in a tenfold worse estate, than he found them at his first arrival. For Don John, whose haughty conceit of himself overcame the greatest difficulties ; though his judgment were over-weak to manage the least : what wonders did his fearful breach of faith bring forth, other than the King his brother’s jealousy and distrust, with the untimely death that seized him, even in the flower of his youth ? and for Escovedo his sharp-witted secretary, who in his own imagination had conquered for his master both England and the Netherlands ; being sent into Spain upon some new project, he was at the first arrival, and before any access to the King, by certain ruffians appointed by Anthony Peres (though by better warrant than his) rudely murdered in his own lodging. Lastly, if we consider the King of Spain’s carriage, his counsel and success in this business, there is nothing left to the memory of man more remarkable. For he hath paid above an hundred millions, and the lives of above four hundred thousand Christians, for the loss of all those countries ; which, for beauty, gave place to none ; and for revenue, did equal his West Indies : for the loss of a nation which most willingly obeyed him ; and who at this day, after forty years war, are in despite of all his forces become a free estate, and far more rich and powerful than they were, when he first began to impoverish and oppress them.

Oh, by what plots, by what forswearings, betrayings, oppressions, imprisonments, tortures, poisonings, and under what reasons of state, and politic subtlety, have these forenamed kings, both strangers, and of our own nation, pulled the vengeance of God upon themselves, upon theirs, and upon their prudent ministers ! and in the end have brought those things to pass for their enemies, and seen an effect so directly contrary to all their own counsels and cruelties ; as the one could never have hoped for themselves ; and the other never have succeeded ; if no such opposition had ever been made. God hath said it and performed it ever : “Perdam sapientiam sapientum” ; “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.”

But what of all this ? and to what end do we lay before the eyes of the living, the fall and fortunes of the dead : seeing the world is the same that it hath been ; and the children of the present time, will still obey their parents ? It is in the present time that all the wits of the world are exercised. to hold the times we have, we hold all things lawful : and either we hope to hold them forever ; or at least we hope that there is nothing after them to be hoped for. For as we are content to forget our own experience, and to counterfeit the ignorance of our own knowledge, in all things that concern ourselves ; or persuade ourselves, that God hath given us letters patents to pursue all our irreligious affections, with a “non obstante” so we neither look behind us what hath been, nor before us what shall be. It is true, that the quantity which we have, is of the body : we are by it joined to the earth : we are compounded of earth ; and we inhabit it. The Heavens are high, far off, and unsearchable : we have sense and feeling of corporal things ; and of eternal grace, but by revelation. No marvel then that our thoughts are also earthly : and it is less to be wondered at, that the words of worthless men cannot cleanse them : seeing their doctrine and instruction, whose understanding the Holy Ghost vouchsafed to inhabit, have not performed it. For as the Prophet Isaiah cried out long ago, “Lord, who hath believed our reports ?” and out of doubt, as Isaiah complained then for himself and others : so are they less believed, every day after other. For although religion, and the truth thereof be in every man’s mouth, yea, in the discourse of every woman, who for the greatest number are but idols of vanity : what is it other than an universal dissimulation ? We profess that we know God : but by works we deny him. For beatitude doth not consist in the knowledge of divine things, but in a divine life : for the Devils know them better than men. “Beatitudo non est divinorum cognitio, sed vita divina.” and certainly there is nothing more to be admired, and more to be lamented, than the private contention, the passionate dispute, the personal hatred, and the perpetual war, massacres, and murders for religion among Christians : the discourse whereof hath so occupied the world, as it hath well near driven the practice thereof out of the world. Who would not soon resolve, that took knowledge but of the religious disputations among men, and not of their lives which dispute, that there were no other thing in their desires, than the purchase of Heaven ; and that the world itself were but used as it ought, and as an inn or place, wherein to repose ourselves in passing on towards our celestial habitation ? when on the contrary, besides the discourse and outward profession, the soul hath nothing but hypocrisy. We are all (in effect) become comedians in religion : and while we act in gesture and voice, divine virtues, in all the course of our lives we renounce our persons, and the parts we play. For Charity, Justice, and Truth have but their being in terms, like the philosopher’s Materia prima.

Neither is it that wisdom, which Solomon defineth to be the “Schoolmistress of the knowledge of God,” that hath valuation in the world : it is enough that we give it our good word : but the same which is altogether exercised in the service of the world as the gathering of riches chiefly, by which we purchase and obtain honor, with the many respects which attend it. These indeed be the marks, which (when we have bent our consciences to the highest) we all shoot at. For the obtaining whereof it is true, that the care is our own ; the care our own in this life, the peril our own in the future : and yet when we have gathered the greatest abundance, we ourselves enjoy no more thereof, than so much as belongs to one man. For the rest, he that had the greatest wisdom and the greatest ability that ever man had, hath told us that this is the use : “When goods increase (saith Solomon) they also increase that eat them ; and what good cometh to the owners, but the beholding thereof with their eyes ? As for those that devour the rest, and follow us in fair weather : they again forsake us in the first tempest of misfortune, and steer away before the sea and wind ; leaving us to the malice of our destinies. of these, among a thousand examples, I will take but one out of Master Danner, and use his own words : “Whilest the Emperor Charles the Fifth, after the resignation of his estates, stayed at Flushing for wind, to carry him his last journey into Spain ; he conferred on a time with Seldius, his brother Ferdinand’s Ambassador, till the deep of the night. and when Seldius should depart, the Emperor calling for some of his servants, and nobody answering him (for those that attended upon him, were some gone to their lodgings, and all the rest asleep), the Emperor took up the candle himself, and went before Seldius to light him down the stairs ; and so did, notwithstanding all the resistance that Seldius could make. and when he was come to the stair’s foot, he said thus unto him : “Seldius, remember this of Charles the Emperor, when he shall be dead and gone, that him, whom thou hast known in thy time environed with so many mighty armies and guards of soldiers, thou hast also seen alone, abandoned, and forsaken, yea even of his own domestical servants, &c. I acknowledge this change of Fortune to proceed from the mighty hand of God, which I will by no means go about to withstand.”

But you will say, that there are some things else, and of greater regard than the former. The first is the reverend respect that is held of great men, and the honor done unto them by all sorts of people. and it is true indeed : provided, that an inward love for their justice and piety accompany the outward worship given to their places and power ; without which what is the applause of the multitude, but as the outcry of an herd of animals, who without the knowledge of any true cause, please themselves with the noise they make ? For seeing it is a thing exceeding rare, to distinguish Virtue and Fortune : the most impious (if prosperous) have ever been applauded ; the most virtuous (if unprosperous) have ever been despised. For as Fortune’s man rides the horse, so Fortune herself rides the man ; who when he is descended and on foot, the man taken from his beast, and Fortune from the man, a base groom beats the one, and a bitter contempt spurns at the other, with equal liberty.

The second is the greatening of our posterity, and the contemplation of their glory whom we leave behind us. Certainly, of those which conceive that their souls departed take any comfort therein, it may be truly said of them, which Lactantius spake of certain heathen philosophers, “quod sapientes sunt in re stulta.” For when our spirits immortal shall be once separate from our mortal bodies, and disposed by God ; there remaineth in them no other joy of their posterity which succeed, than there doth of pride in that stone, which sleepeth in the wall of the king’s palace ; nor any other sorrow for their poverty, than there doth of shame in that, which beareth up a beggar’s cottage. “Nesciunt mortui, etiam sancti, quid agunt vivi, etiam eorum filii, quia animae mortuorum rebus viventium non intersunt” : “The dead, though holy, know nothing of the living, no, not of their own children : for the souls of those departed, are not conversant with their affairs that remain.” and if we doubt of St. Augustine, we can not of Job ; who tells us, “That we know not if our sons shall be honorable : neither shall we understand concerning them, whether they shall be of low degree.” Which Ecclesiastes also confirmeth : “Man walketh in a shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain : he heapeth up riches, and can not tell who shall gather them. The living (saith he) know that they shall die, but the dead know nothing at all : for who can show unto man what shall be after him under the sun ?” He therefore accounteth it among the rest of worldly vanities, to labor and travail in the world ; not knowing after death whether a fool or a wise man should enjoy the fruits thereof : “which made me (saith he) endeavor even to abhor mine own labor.” and what can other men hope, whose blessed or sorrowful estates after death God hath reserved ? man’s knowledge lying but in his hope, seeing the Prophet Isaiah confesseth of the elect, “That Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel knows us not.” But hereof we are assured, that the long and dark night of death (of whose following day we shall never behold the dawn till his return that hath triumphed over it), shall cover us over till the world be no more. After which, and when we shall again receive organs glorified and incorruptible, the seats of angelical affections, in so great admiration shall the souls of the blessed be exercised, as they can not admit the mixture of any second or less joy ; nor any return of foregone and mortal affection towards friends, kindred, or children. of whom whether we shall retain any particular knowledge, or in any sort distinguish them, no man can assure us ; and the wisest men doubt. But on the contrary, if a divine life retain any of those faculties which the soul exercised in a mortal body, we shall not at that time so divide the joys of Heaven, as to cast any part thereof on the memory of their felicities which remain in the world. No, be their estates greater than ever the world gave, we shall (by the difference known unto us) even detest their consideration. and whatsoever comfort shall remain of all forepast, the same will consist in the charity which we exercised living ; and in that piety, justice, and firm faith, for which it pleased the infinite mercy of God to accept of us, and receive us. Shall we therefore value honor and riches at nothing ? and neglect them, as unnecessary and vain ? Certainly no. For that infinite wisdom of God, which hath distinguished his angels by degrees ; which hath given greater and less light and beauty to heavenly bodies ; which hath made differences between beasts and birds ; created the eagle and the fly, the cedar and the shrub ; and among stones, given the fairest tincture to the ruby, and the quickest light to the diamond ; hath also ordained kings, dukes, or leaders of the people, magistrates, judges, and other degrees among men. and as honor is left to posterity, for a mark and ensign of the virtue and understanding of their ancestors : so (seeing Siracides preferreth death before beggary : and that titles, without proportionable estates, fall under the miserable succor of other men’s pity) I account it foolishness to condemn such a care : provided, that worldly goods be well gotten, and that we raise not our own buildings out of other men’s ruins. For, as Plato doth first prefer the perfection of bodily health ; secondly, the form and beauty ; and thirdly, “Divitias nulla fraude quaesitas” : so Jeremiah cries, “Woe unto them that erect their houses by unrighteousness, and their chambers without equity” : and Isaiah the same, “Woe to those that spoil and were not spoiled.” and it was out of the true wisdom of Solomon, that he commandeth us, “not to drink the wine of violence ; not to lie in wait for blood, and not to swallow them up alive, whose riches we covet : for such are the ways (saith he) of everyone that is greedy of gain.”

And if we could afford ourselves but so much leisure as to consider, that he which hath most in the world, hath, in respect of the world, nothing in it : and that he which hath the longest time lent him to live in it, hath yet no proportion at all therein, setting it either by that which is past, when we were not, or by that time which is to come, in which we shall abide forever : I say, if both, to wit, our proportion in the world, and our time in the world, differ not much from that which is nothing ; it is not out of any excellency of understanding, that we so much prize the one, which hath (in effect) no being : and so much neglect the other, which hath no ending : coveting those mortal things of the world, as if our souls were therein immortal ; and neglecting those things which are immortal, as if ourselves after the world were but mortal.

But let every man value his own wisdom, as he pleaseth. Let the rich man think all fools, that cannot equal his abundance : the revenger esteem all negligent, that have not trodden down their opposites ; the politician, all gross that cannot merchandise their faith : yet when we once come in sight of the port of death, to which all winds drive us, and when by letting fall that fatal anchor, which can never be weighed again, the navigation of this life takes end ; then it is, I say, that our own cogitations (those sad and severe cogitations, formerly beaten from us by our health and felicity) return again, and pay us to the uttermost for all the pleasing passages of our lives past. It is then that we cry out to God for mercy ; then when our selves can no longer exercise cruelty to others ; and it is only then, that we are strucken through the soul with this terrible sentence, “That God will not be mocked.” For if according to St. Peter, “The righteous scarcely be saved : and that God spared not his angles” ; where shall those appear, who, having served their appetites all their lives, presume to think, that the severe commandments of the all-powerful God were given but in sport ; and that the short breath, which we draw when death presseth us, if we can but fashion it to the sound of mercy (without any kind of satisfaction or amends) is sufficient ? “O quam multi,” saith a reverend father, “cum hac spe ad aeternos labores et bella descendunt !” I confess that it is a great comfort to our friends, to have it said, that we ended well ; for we all desire (as Balaam did) “to die the death of the righteous.” But what shall we call a disesteeming, an opposing, or (indeed) a mocking of God : if those men do not oppose Him, disesteem Him, and mock Him, that think it enough for God, to ask Him forgiveness at leisure, with the remainder and last drawing of a malicious breath ? For what do they otherwise, that die this kind of well-dying, but say unto God as followeth ? “We beseech Thee, O God, that all the falsehoods, forswearings, and treacheries of our lives past, may be pleasing unto thee ; that Thou wilt for our sakes (that have had no leisure to do anything for Thine) change Thy nature (though impossible, and forget to be a just God ; that Thou wilt love injuries and oppressions, call ambition wisdom, and charity foolishness. For I shall prejudice my son (which I am resolved not to do) if I make restitution ; and confess myself to have been unjust (which I am too proud to do) if I deliver the oppressed.” Certainly, these wise worldlings have either found out a new God, or made one : and in all likelihood such a leaden one, as Louis the Eleventh wore in his cap ; which when he had caused any that he feared, or hated, to be killed, he would take it from his head and kiss it : beseeching it to pardon him this one evil act more, and it should be the last ; which (as at other times) he did, when by the practice of a cardinal and a falsified sacrament, he caused the Earl of Armagnac to be stabbed to death : mockeries indeed fit to be used towards a leaden, but not towards the ever-living God. But of this composition are all devout lovers of the world, that they fear all that is dureless and ridiculous : they fear the plots and practises of their opposites, and their very whisperings : they fear the opinions of men, which beat but upon shadows : they flatter and forsake the prosperous and unprosperous, be they friends or kings : yea they dive under water, like ducks, at every pebblestone, that is but thrown toward them by a powerful hand : and on the contrary, they show an obstinate and giant-like valor, against the terrible judgments of the all-powerful God : yea they show themselves gods against God, and slaves towards men ; towards men whose bodies and consciences are alike rotten.

Now for the rest : If we truly examine the difference of both conditions ; to wit, of the rich and mighty, whom we call fortunate ; and of the poor and oppressed, whom we account wretched : we shall find the happiness of the one, and the miserable estate of the other, so tied by God to the very instant, and both so subject to interchange (witness the sudden downfall of the greatest princes, and the speedy uprising of the meanest persons) as the one hath nothing so certain, whereof to boast ; nor the other so uncertain, whereof to bewail itself. For there is no man so assured of his honor, of his riches, health, or life ; but that he may be deprived of either, or all, the very next hour or day to come. “Quid vesper vehat, incertum est,” “What the evening will bring with it, it is uncertain.” “and yet ye cannot tell (saith St. James) what shall be tomorrow. today he is set up, and tomorrow he shall not be found ; for he is turned into dust, and his purpose perisheth.” and although the air which compasseth adversity be very obscure ; yet therein we better discern God, than in that shining light which environeth worldly glory ; through which, for the clearness thereof, there is no vanity which escapeth our sight. and let adversity seem what it will ; to happy men ridiculous, who make themselves merry at other men’s misfortunes ; and to those under the cross, grievous : yet this is true, that for all that is past, to the very instant, the portions remaining are equal to either. For be it that we have lived many years, “and (according to Solomon) in them all we have rejoiced ;” or be it that we have measured the same length of days and therein have evermore sorrowed : yet looking back from our present being, we find both the one and the other, to wit, the joy and the woe, sailed out of sight ; and death, which doth pursue us and hold us in chase, from our infancy, hath gathered it. “Quicquid aetatis retro est, mors tenet :” “Whatsoever of our age is past, death holds it.” So as whosoever he be, to whom Fortune hath been a servant, and the Time a friend ; let him but take the account of his memory (for we have no other keeper of our pleasures past), and truly examine what it hath reserved either beauty and youth, or foregone delights ; what it hath saved, that it might last, of his dearest affections, or of whatever else the amorous springtime gave his thoughts of contentment, then unvaluable ; and he shall find that all the art which his elder years have, can draw no other vapor out of these dissolutions, than heavy, secret, and sad sighs. He shall find nothing remaining, but those sorrows, which grow up after our fastspringing youth ; overtake it, when it is at a stand ; and overtopped it utterly, when it begins to wither : in so much as looking back from the very instant time, and from our now being, the poor, diseased, and captive creature, hath as little sense of all his former miseries and pains, as he, that is most blessed in common opinions, hath of his fore-passed pleasure and delights. For whatsoever is cast behind us, is just nothing : and what is to come, deceitful hope hath it : “Omnia quae eventura sunt, in incerto jacent.” Only those few black swans, I must except : who having had the grace to value worldly vanities at no more than their own price ; do, by retaining the comfortable memory of a well acted life, behold death without dread, and the grave without fear ; and embrace both, as necessary guides to endless glory.

For myself, this is my consolation, and all that I can offer to others, that the sorrows of this life are but of two sorts : whereof the one hath respect to God, the other, to the world. In the first we complain to God against ourselves, for our offences against Him ; and confess, “Et Tu justus es in omnibus quae venerunt super nos.” “and Thou, O Lord, are just in all that hath befallen us.” In the second we complain to ourselves against God : as if he had done us wrong, either in not giving us worldly goods and honors, answering our appetites : or for taking them again from us having had them ; forgetting that humble and just acknowledgment of Job, “the Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken.” to the first of which St. Paul hath promised blessedness ; to the second, death. and out of doubt he is either a fool, or ungrateful to God, or both, that doth not acknowledge, how mean soever his estate be, that the same is yet far greater than that which God oweth him : or doth not acknowledge, how sharp soever his afflictions be, that the same are yet far less, than those which are due unto him. and if an heathen wise man call the adversities of the world but “tributa vivendi,” “the tributes of living ;” a wise Christian man ought to know them, and bear them, but as the tributes of offending. He ought to bear them manlike, and resolvedly ; and not as those whining soldiers do, “quigementes sequuntur imperatorem.”
For seeing God, who is the author of all our tragedies, hath written out for us and appointed us all the parts we are to play : and hath not, in their distribution, been partial to the most mighty princes of the world : that gave unto Darius the part of the greatest emperor, and the part of the most miserable beggar, a beggar begging water of an enemy, to quench the great drought of death : that appointed Bajazet to play the Grand Signior of the Turks in the morning, and in the same day the footstool of Tamerlane (both which parts Valerian had also played, being taken by Sapores) : that made Belisarius play the most victorious captain, and lastly the part of a blind beggar : of which examples many thousands may be produced : why should other men, who are but as the least worms, complain of wrong ? Certainly there is no other account to be made of this ridiculous world, than to resolve, that the change of fortune on the great theatre, is but as the change of garments on the less. For when on the one and the other, every man wears but his own skin, the players are all alike. Now, if any man out of weakness prize the passages of this world otherwise (for saith Petrarch, “Magni ingenii est revocare mentem a sensibus”) it is by reason of that unhappy phantasy of ours, which forgeth in the brains of man all the miseries (the corporal excepted) whereunto he is subject. Therein it is, that misfortunes and adversity work all that they work. For seeing Death, in the end of the play, takes from all whatsoever Fortune or Force takes from any one ; it were a foolish madness in the shipwreck of worldly things, where all sinks but the sorrow, to save it. That were, as Seneca saith, “Fortunae succumbere, quod tristius est omni fato :” “to fall under Fortune, of all other the most miserable destiny.”

But it is now time to sound a retreat ; and to desire to be excused of this long pursuit : and withal, that the good intent, which hath moved me to draw the picture of time past (which we call History) in so large a table, may also be accepted in place of a better reason.
The examples of divine providence, everywhere found (the first divine histories being nothing else but a continuation of such examples) have persuaded me to fetch my beginning from the beginning of all things : to wit, Creation. For though these two glorious actions of the Almighty be so near, and (as it were) linked together, that the one necessarily implieth the other : Creation inferring Providence (for what father forsaketh the child that he hath begotten ?) and Providence pre-supposing Creation : yet many of those that have seemed to excel in worldly wisdom, have gone about to disjoin this coherence ; the epicure denying both Creation and Providence, but granting the world had a beginning ; the Aristotelian granting Providence, but denying both the creation and the beginning.

Now although this doctrine of faith, touching the creation in time (for by faith we understand, that the world was made by the word of God), be too weighty a work for Aristotle’s rotten ground to bear up, upon which he hath (notwithstanding) founded the defences and fortresses of all his verbal doctrine : yet that the necessity of infinite power, and the world’s beginning, and the impossibility of the contrary even in the judgment of natural reason, wherein he believed, had not better informed him ; it is greatly to be marvelled at. and it is no less strange, that those men which are desirous of knowledge (seeing Aristotle hath failed in this main point ; and taught little other than terms in the rest) have so retrenched their minds from the following and overtaking of truth, and so absolutely subjected themselves to the law of those philosophical principles ; as all contrary kind of teaching, in the search of causes, they have condemned either for phantastical, or curious. Both doth it follow, that the positions of heathen philosophers are undoubted grounds and principles indeed, because so called ? Or that ipsi dixerunt, doth make them to be such ? Certainly no. But this is true, that where natural reason hath built anything so strong against itself, as the same reason can hardly assail it, much less batter it down : the same in every question of nature, and infinite power, may be approved for a fundamental law of human knowledge. For saith Charron in his book of wisdom, “toute proposition humaine a autant d’authorite quel’autre, si la raison n’on fait la difference ;” “Every human proposition hath equal authority, if reason make not the difference,” the rest being but the fables of principles. But hereof how shall the upright and impartial judgment of man give a sentence, where opposition and examination are not admitted to give in evidence ? and to this purpose it was well said of Lactantius, “Sapientiam sibi adimunt, qui sine ullo judicio inventa maiorum probant, et ab aliis pecudum more ducuntur :” “They neglect their own wisdom, who without any judgment approve the invention of those that forewent them ; and suffer themselves after the manner of beasts, to be led by them ;” by the advantage of which sloth and dullness, ignorance is now become so powerful a tyrant, as it hath set true philosophy, physics, and divinity in a pillory ; and written over the first, “Contra negantem principia ;” over the second, “Virtus specifica ;” over the third, “Ecclesia Romana.”

But for myself, I shall never be persuaded, that God hath shut up all light of learning within the lanthorn of Aristotle’s brains : or that it was ever said unto him, as unto Esdras, “Accendam in corde tuo Lucernam intellectus” : that God hath given invention but to the heathen, and that they only invaded nature, and found the strength and bottom thereof ; the same nature having consumed all her store, and left nothing of price to after-ages. That these and these be the causes of these and these effects, time hath taught us ; and not reason : and so hath experience without art. The cheese-wife knoweth it as well as the philosopher, that sour rennet doth coagulate her milk into a curd. But if we ask a reason of this cause, why the sourness doth it ? whereby it doth it ? and the manner how ? I think that there is nothing to be found in vulgar philosophy, to satisfy this and many other like vulgar questions. But man to cover his ignorance in the least things, who can not give a true reason for the grass under his feet, why it should be green rather than red, or of any other color ; that could never yet discover the way and reason of nature’s working, in those which are far less noble creatures than himself ; who is far more noble than the heavens themselves : “Man (saith Solomon) that can hardly discern the things that are upon the earth, and with great labor find out the things that are before us” ; that hath so short a time in the world, as he no sooner begins to learn, than to die ; that hath in his memory but borrowed knowledge ; in his understanding, nothing truly ; that is ignorant of the essence of his own soul, and which the wisest of the naturalists (if Aristotle be he) could never so much as define, but by the action and effect, telling us what it works (which all men knew as well as he) but not what it is, which neither he, nor any else, doth know, but God that created it ; (“For though I were perfect, yet I know not my soul,” saith Job). Man, I say, that is but an idiot in the next cause of his own life, and in the cause of all actions of his life, will (notwithstanding) examine the art of God in creating the world ; of God, who (saith Job) “is so excellent as we know him not” ; and examine the beginning of the work, which had end before mankind had a beginning of being. He will disable God’s power to make a world, without matter to make it of. He will rather give the motes of the air for a cause ; cast the work on necessity or chance ; bestow the honor thereof on nature ; make two powers, the one to be the author of the matter, the other of the form ; and lastly, for want of a workman, have it eternal : which latter opinion Aristotle, to make himself the author of a new doctrine, brought into the world : and his Sectators have maintained it ; “parati ac conjurati, quos sequuntur, philosophorum animis invictis opiniones tueri.” For Hermes, who lived at once with, or soon after Moses, Zoroaster, Musaeus, Orpheus, Linus, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Melissus, Pherecydes, Thales, Cleanthes, Pythagoras, Plato, and many other (whose opinions are exquisitely gathered by Steuchius Eugubinus) found in the necessity of invincible reason, “One eternal and infinite Being,” to be the parent of the universal. “Horum omnium sententia quamvis sit incerta, eodem tamen spectat, ut Providentiam unam esse consentiant : sive enim natura, sive aether, sive ratio, sive mens, sive fatalis necessitas, sive divina lex ; idem est quod a nobis dicitur Deus” : “All these men’s opinions (saith Lactantius) though uncertain, come to this ; That they agree upon one Providence ; whether the same be nature, or light, or reason, or understanding, or destiny, or divine ordinance, that it is the same which we call God.” Certainly, as all the rivers in the world, though they have divers risings, and divers runnings ; though they sometimes hide themselves for a while under ground, and seem to be lost in sea-like lakes ; do at last find, and fall into the great ocean : so after all the searches that human capacity hath, and after all philosophical contemplation and curiosity ; in the necessity of this infinite power, all the reason of man ends and dissolves itself.

As for the others ; the first touching those which conceive the matter of the world to have been eternal, and that God did not create the world “Exnihilo,” but “ex materia praeexistente” : the supposition is so weak, as is hardly worth the answering. For (saith Eusebius) “Mihi videntur qui hoc dicunt, fortunam quoque Deo annectere,” “They seem unto me, which affirm this, to give part of the work to God, and part to Fortune” : insomuch as if God had not found this first matter by chance, He had neither been author nor father, nor creator, nor lord of the universal. For were the matter or chaos eternal, it then follows, that either this supposed matter did fit itself to God, or God accommodate Himself to the matter. For the first, it is impossible, that things without sense could proportion themselves to the workman’s will. For the second : it were horrible to conceive of God, that as an artificer He applied himself, according to the proportion of matter which He lighted upon.

But let it be supposed, that this matter hath been made by any power, not omnipotent, and infinitely wise ; I would gladly learn how it came to pass, that the same was proportionable to his intention, that was omnipotent and infinitely wise ; and no more, nor no less, than served to receive the form of the universal. For, had it wanted anything of what was sufficient ; then must it be granted, that God created out of nothing so much new matter, as served to finish the work of the world : or had there been more of this matter than sufficed, then God did dissolve and annihilate whatsoever remained and was superfluous. and this must every reasonable soul confess, that it is the same work of God alone, to create anything out of nothing, and by the same art and power, and by none other, can those things, or any part of that eternal matter, be again changed into nothing ; by which those things, that once were nothing, obtained a beginning of being.
Again, to say that this matter was the cause of itself ; this, of all other, were the greatest idiotism. For, if it were the cause of itself at any time ; then there was also a time when itself was not : at which time of not being, it is easy enough to conceive, that it could neither procure itself, nor anything else. For to be, and not to be, at once, is impossible. “Nihil autem seipsum praecedit, neque ; seipsum componit corpus” : “There is nothing that doth precede itself, neither do bodies compound themselves.”

For the rest, those that feign this matter to be eternal, must of necessity confess, that infinite cannot be separate from eternity. and then had infinite matter left no place for infinite form, but that the first matter was finite, the form which it received proves it. For conclusion of this part, whosoever will make choice, rather to believe in eternal deformity, or in eternal dead matter, than in eternal light and eternal life : let eternal death be his reward. For it is a madness of that kind, as wanteth terms to express it. For What reason of man (whom the curse of presumption hath not stupefied) hath doubted, that infinite power (of which we can comprehend but a kind of shadow, “quia comprehensio est intra terminos, qui infinito repugnant”) hath anything wanting in itself, either for matter of form ; yea for as many worlds (if such had been God’s will) as the sea hath sands ? For where the power is without limitation, the work hath no other limitation, than the workman’s will. Yea reason itself finds it more easy for infinite power to deliver from itself a finite world, without the help of matter prepared ; than for a finite man, a fool and dust, to change the form of matter made to his hands. They are Dionysius his words, “Deus in una existentia omnia praehabet” : and again, “Esse omnium est ipsa divinitas, omne quod vides, et quod non vides” : to wit, “causaliter, or in better terms, “non tanquam forma, sed tanquam causa universalis.” Neither hath the world universal closed up all of God : “For the most part of his works (saith Siracides) are hid.” Neither can the depth of his wisdom be opened, by the glorious work of the world : which never brought to knowledge all it can ; for then were his infinite power bounded and made finite. and hereof it comes ; That we seldom entitle God the all-showing, or the all-willing ; but the Almighty, that is, infinitely able.

But now for those, who from that ground, “that out of nothing, nothing is made,” infer the world’s eternity ; and yet not to savage therein, as those are, which give an eternal being to dead matter : it is true if the word (nothing) be taken in the affirmative ; and the making, imposed upon natural agents and finite power ; that out of nothing, nothing is made. But seeing their great doctor Aristotle himself confesseth, “quod omnes antiqui decreverunt quasi quodam rerum principium, ipsumque infinitum :” “That all the ancient decree a kind of beginning, and the same to be infinite” ; and a little after, more largely and plainly, “Principium eius est nullum, sed ipsum omnium cernitur esse principium, ac omnia complecti ac regere” : it is strange that this philosopher, with his followers, should rather make choice out of falsehood, to conclude falsely ; than out of truth, to resolve truly. For if we compare the world universal, and all the unmeasureable orbs of Heaven, and those marvellous bodies of the sun, moon, and stars, with “ipsum infinitum” : it may truly be said of them all, which himself affirms of his imaginary “Materia prima,” that they are neither “quid, quale,” nor “quantum” ; and therefore to bring finite (which hath no proportion with infinite) out of infinite (“qui destruit omnem proportionem”) is no wonder in God’s power. and therefore Anaximander, Melissus, and Empedocles, call the world universal, but “particulam universitatis” and “infinitatis,” a parcel of that which is the universality and the infinity itself ; and Plato, but a shadow of God. But the other to prove the world’s eternity, urgeth this maxim, “that, a sufficient and effectual cause being granted, an answerable effect thereof is also granted” : inferring that God being forever a sufficient and effectual cause of the world, the effect of the cause should also have been forever ; to wit, the world universal. But what a strange mockery is this in so great a master, to confess a sufficient and effectual cause of the world, (to wit, an almighty God) in his antecedent ; and the same God to be a God restrained in his conclusion ; to make God free in power, and bound in will ; able to effect, unable to determine ; able to make all things, and yet unable to make choice of the time when ? For this were impiously to resolve of God, as of natural necessity ; which hath neither choice, nor will, nor understanding ; which cannot but work matter being present : as fire, to burn things combustible. Again he thus disputeth, that every agent which can work, and doth not work, if it afterward work, it is either thereto moved by itself, or by somewhat else : and so it passeth from power to act. But God (saith he) is immovable, and is neither moved by himself, nor by any other : but being always the same, doth always work. Whence he concludeth, if the world were caused by God, that he was forever the cause thereof : and therefore eternal. The answer to this is very easy, for that God’s performing in due time that which he ever determined at length to perform, doth not argue any alternation or change, but rather constancy in him. For the same action of his will, which made the world forever, did also withhold the effect to the time ordained. to this answer, in itself sufficient, others add further, that the pattern or image of the world may be said to be eternal : which the Platonics call “spiritualem mundum” ; and do in this sort distinguish the idea and creation in time. “Spiritualis ille mundus, mundi huius exemplar, primumque Dei opus, vita aequali est architecto, fuit semper cum illo, eritque semper. Mundus autem corporalis, quod secundum opus est Dei, decedit iam ab opifice ex parte una, quia non fuit semper : retinet alteram, quia sit semper futurus” : “That representative, or the intentional world (say they) the sampler of this visible world, the first work of God, was equally ancient with the architect ; for it was forever with him, and ever shall be. This material world, the second work or creature of God, doth differ from the worker in this, that it was not from everlasting, and in this it doth agree, that it shall be forever to come.” The first point, that it was not forever, all Christians confess : the other they understand no otherwise, than that after the consummation of this world, there shall be a new Heaven and a new earth, without any new creation of matter. But of these things we need not here stand to argue : though such opinions be not unworthy the propounding, in this consideration, of an eternal and unchangeable cause, producing a changeable and temporal effect. touching which point Proclus the Platonist disputeth, that the compounded essence of the world (and because compounded, therefore dissipable) is continued, and knit to the Divine Being, by an individual and inseparable power, flowing from Divine unity ; and that the world’s natural appetite of God showeth, that the same proceedeth from a good and understanding divine ; and that this virtue, by which the world is continued and knit together, must be infinite, that it may infinitely and everlastingly continue and preserve the same. Which infinite virtue, the finite world (saith he) is not capable of, but receiveth it from the divine infinite, according to the temporal nature it hath, successively every moment by little and little ; even as the whole material world is not altogether : but the abolished parts are departed by small degrees, and the parts yet to come, do by the same small degrees succeed ; as the shadow of a tree in a river seemeth to have continued the same a long time in the water, but it is perpetually renewed, in the continual ebbing and flowing thereof.

But to return to them, which denying that ever the world had any beginning, withal deny that ever it shall have any end, and to this purpose affirm, that it was never heard, never read, never seen, no not by any reason perceived, that the heavens have ever suffered corruption ; or that they appear any way the older by continuance ; or in any sort otherwise than they were ; which had they been subject to final corruption, some change would have been discerned in so long a time. to this it is answered, that the little change as yet perceived, doth rather prove their newness, and that they have not continued so long ; than that they will continue forever as they are. and if conjectural arguments may receive answer by conjectures ; it then seemeth that some alteration may be found. For either Aristotle, Pliny, Strabo, Beda, Aquinas, and others, were grossly mistaken ; or else those parts of the world lying within the burnt zone, were not in elder times habitable, by reason of the sun’s heat, neither were the seas, under the equinoctial, navigable. But we know by experience, that those regions, so situate, are filled with people, and exceeding temperate ; and the sea, over which we navigate, passable enough. We read also many histories of deluges : and how in the time of Phaeton, divers places in the world were burnt up, by the sun’s violent heat.

But in a word, this observation is exceeding feeble. For we know it for certain, that stone walls, of matter mouldering and friable, have stood two, or three thousand years ; that many things have been digged up out of the earth, of that depth, as supposed to have been buried by the general flood ; without any alteration either of substance or figure : yea it is believed, and it is very probable, that the gold which is daily found in mines, and rocks, under ground, was created together with the earth.

And if bodies elementary, and compounded, the eldest times have not invaded and corrupted : what great alteration should we look for in celestial and quint-essential bodies ? and yet we have reason to think, that the sun, by whose help all creatures are generate, doth not in these latter ages assist nature, as heretofore. We have neither giants, such as the eldest world had ; nor mighty men, such as the elder world had ; but all things in general are reputed of less virtue which from the heavens receive virtue. Whence, if the nature of a preface would permit a larger discourse, we might easily fetch store of proof ; as that this world shall at length have end, as that once it had beginning.
And I see no good answer that can be made to this objection : if the world were eternal, why not all things in the world eternal ? If there were no first, no cause, no father, no creator, no incomprehensible wisdom, but that every nature had been alike eternal ; and man more rational than every other nature : why had not the eternal reason of man provided for his eternal being in the world ? For if all were equal why not equal conditions to all ? Why should heavenly bodies live forever ; and the bodies of men rot and die ?
Again, who was it that appointed the earth to keep the center, and gave order that it should hang in the air : that the sun should travel between the tropics, and never exceed those bounds, nor fail to perform that progress once in every year : the moon to live by borrowed light : the fixed stars (according to common opinion) to be fastened like nails in a cartwheel ; and the planets to wander at their pleasure ? Or if none of these had power over other : was it out of charity and love, that the sun by his perpetual travel within these two circles, hath visited, given light unto, and relieved all parts of the earth, and the creatures therein, by turns and times ? Out of doubt, if the sun have of his own accord kept this course in all eternity, he may justly be called eternal charity and everlasting love. The same may be said of all the stars ; who being all of them most large and clear fountains of virtue and operation, may also, be called eternal virtues : the earth may be called eternal patience ; the moon, an eternal borrower and beggar ; and man of all other the most miserable, eternally mortal. and what were this, but to believe again in the old play of the gods ? Yea in more gods by millions, than ever Hesiodus dreamed of. But instead of this mad folly, we see it well enough with our feeble and mortal eyes ; and the eyes of our reason discern it better ; that the sun, moon, stars, and the earth, are limited, bounded, and constrained : themselves they have not constrained nor could. “Omne determinatum causam habet aliquam efficientem, quae illud determinaverit :” “Everything bounded hath some efficient cause, by which it is bounded.”

Now for Nature ; as by the ambiguity of this name, the school of Aristotle hath both commended many errors unto us, and sought also thereby to obscure the glory of the high moderator of all things, shining in the creation, and in the governing of the world : so if the best definition be taken out of the second of Aristotle’s “Physics,” or “primo de Coelo,” or out of the fifth of his “Metaphysics” ; I say that the best is but nominal, and serving only to difference the beginning of natural motion from artificial : which yet the Academics open better, when they call it “a seminary strength, infused into matter by the soul of the world” : who give the first place to Providence, the second to Fate, and but the third to Nature. “Providentia” (by which they understand God) “dux et caput ; Fatum, medium ex providentia prodiens ; Natura postremum.” But be it what he will, or be it any of these (God excepted) or participating of all : yet that it hath choice or understanding (both which are necessarily in the cause of all things) no man hath avowed. For this is unanswerable of Lactantius, “Is autem facit aliquid, qui aut voluntatem faciendi habet, aut scientiam :” “He only can be said to be the doer of a thing, that hath either will or knowledge in the doing it.”

But the will and science of Nature, are in these words truly expressed by Ficinus : “Potest ubique Natura, vel per diversa media, vel ex diversis materiis, diversa facere : sublata vero mediorum materiatumque diversitate, vel unicum, vel similimum operatur, neque potest quando adest materia non operari” ; “It is the power of Nature by the diversity of means, or out of diversity of matter, to produce divers things : but taking away the diversity of means, and the diversity of matter, it then works but one or the like work ; neither can it but work, matter being present.” Now if Nature made choice of diversity of matter, to work all these variable works of heaven and earth, it had then both understanding and will ; it had counsel to begin ; reason to dispose ; virtue and knowledge to finish, and power to govern : without which all things had been but one and the same : all of the matter of heaven ; or all of the matter of earth. and if we grant Nature this will, and this understanding, this course, reason, and power : “Cur Natura potius quam Deus nominetur ?” “Why should we then call such a cause rather Nature, than God ?” “God, of whom all men have notion, and give the first and highest place to divine power” : “Omnes homines notionem deorum habent, omnesque summum locum divino cuidam numini assignant.” and this I say in short ; that it is a true effect of true reason in man (were there no authority more binding than reason) to acknowledge and adore the first and most sublime power. “Vera philosophia, est ascensus ab his quae fluunt, et oriuntur, et occidunt, ad ea quae vera sunt, et semper eadem” : “True philosophy, is an ascending from the things which flow, and arise, and fall, to the things that are forever the same.”
For the rest ; I do also account it not the meanest, but an impiety monstrous, to confound God and Nature ; be it but in terms. For it is God, that only disposeth of all things according to His own will and maketh of one earth, vessels of honor and dishonor. It is Nature that can dispose of nothing, but according to the will of the matter wherein it worketh. It is God that commandeth all : it is Nature that is obedient to all : it is God that doth good unto all, knowing and loving the good He doth : it is Nature, that secondarily doth also good, but it neither knoweth nor loveth the good it doth. It is God, that hath all things in Himself : Nature, nothing in itself. It is God, which is the Father, and hath begotten all things : it is Nature, which is begotten by all things, in which it liveth and laboreth ; for by itself it existeth not. For shall we say, that it is out of affection to the earth, that heavy things fall towards it ? Shall we call it reason, which doth conduct every river into the salt sea ? Shall we term it knowledge in fire, that makes it to consume combustible matter ? If it be affection, reason, and knowledge in these ; by the same affection, reason, and knowledge it is, that Nature worketh. and therefore seeing all things work as they do, (call it by Form, or Nature, or by what you please) yet because they work by an impulsion, which they cannot resist, or by a faculty, infused by the supremest power ; we are neither to wonder at, nor to worship, the faculty that worketh, nor the creature wherein it worketh. But herein lies the wonder : and to him is the worship due, who hath created such a nature in things, and such a faculty, as neither knowing itself, the matter wherein it worketh, nor the virtue and power which it hath ; do yet work all things to their last and uttermost perfection. and therefore every reasonable man, taking to himself for a ground that which is granted by all antiquity, and by all men truly learned that ever the world had ; to wit ; that there is a power infinite, and eternal (which also necessity doth prove unto us, without the help of faith ; and reason ; without the force of authority) all things do as easily follow which have been delivered by divine letters, as the waters of a running river do successfully pursue each other from the first fountains.

This much I say it is, that reason itself hath taught us ; and this is the beginning of knowledge. “Sapientia praecedit, Religio sequitur : quia prius est Deum scire, consequens colere” ; “Sapience goes before, Religion follows : because it is first to know God, and then to worship Him.” This sapience Plato calleth “absoluti boni scientiam,” “the science of the absolute good” : and another “scientiam rerum primarum, sempiternarum, perpetuarum.” For “faith (saith Isidore) is not extored by violence ; but by reason and examples per “fides nequaquam vi extorquetur, sed ratione et exemplis suadetur.” I confess it, that to inquire further, as to the essence of God, of His power, of His art, and by what means He created the world : or of His secret judgment, and the causes, is not an effect of reason. “Sed cum ratione insaniunt,” but “they grow mad with reason,” that inquire after it. For as it is no shame, nor dishonor (saith a French author) “de faire arrest au but qu’on nasceu surpasser,” “for a man to rest himself there where he finds it impossible to pass on further” : so whatsoever is beyond, and out of the reach of true reason, it acknowledgeth it to be so ; as understanding itself not to be infinite, but according to the name and nature it hath, to be a teacher, that best knows the end of his own art. For seeing both reason and necessity teach us (reason, which is “pars divini spiritus in corpus humanum mersi”) that the world was made by a power infinite ; and yet how it was made, it cannot teach us : and seeing the same reason and necessity make us know, that the same infinite power is everywhere in the world ; and yet how everywhere, it cannot inform us : our belief hereof is not weakened, but greatly strengthened, by our ignorance, because it is the same reason that tells us, that such a nature cannot be said to be God, that can be in all conceived by man.

I have already been over-long, to make any large discourse either of the parts of the following story, or in mine own excuse : especially in the excuse of this or that passage ; seeing the whole is exceeding weak and defective. Among the grossest, the unsuitable division of the books, I could not know how to excuse, had I not been directed to enlarge the building after the foundation was laid, and the first part finished. All men know that there is no great art in the dividing evenly of these things, which are subject to number and measure. For the rest, it suits well enough with a great many books of this age, which speak too much, and yet say little ; “Ipsi nobis furto subducimur” ; “We are stolen away from ourselves,” setting a high price on all that is our own. But hereof, though a late good writer make complaint, yet shall it not lay hold on me, because I believe as he doth ; that who so thinks himself the wisest man, is but a poor and miserable ignorant. Those that are the best men of war against all the vanities and fooleries of the world, do always keep the strongest guards against themselves, to defend them from themselves ; from self-love, self-estimation, and self-opinion.

Generally concerning the order of the work, I have only taken counsel from the argument. For of the Assyrians, which after the downfall of Babel take up the first part, and were the first great kings of the world, there came little to the view of posterity : some few enterprises, greater in fame than faith, of Ninus and Semiramis, excepted.
It was the story of the Hebrews, of all before the Olympiads, that overcame the consuming disease of time, and preserved itself, from the very cradle and beginning to this day : and yet not so entire, but that the large discourses thereof (to which in many Scriptures we are referred) are nowhere found. The fragments of other stories, with the actions of those kings and princes which shot up here and there in the same time, I am driven to relate by way of digression : of which we may say with Virgil : “Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto” ; “They appear here and there floating in the great gulf of time.”
To the same first ages do belong the report of many inventions therein found, and from them derived to us ; though most of the authors’ names have perished in so long a navigation. For those ages had their laws ; they had diversity of government ; they had kingly rule ; nobility ; policy in war ; navigation, and all, or the most of needful trades. to speak therefore of these (seeing in a general history we should have left a great deal of nakedness, by their omission) it cannot properly be called a digression. True it is, that I have made also many others : which if they shall be laid to my charge, I must cast the fault into the great heap of human error. For seeing we digress in all the ways of our lives : yea, seeing the life of man is nothing else but digression ; I may the better be excused, in writing their lives and actions. I am not altogether ignorant in the laws of history and of the kinds.

The same hath been taught by many, but no man better, and with greater brevity, than by that excellent learned gentleman, Sir Francis Bacon. Christian laws are also taught us by the prophets and apostles ; and every day preached unto us. But we still make large digressions : yea, the teachers themselves do not (in all) keep the path which they point out to others.

For the rest, after such time as the Persians had wrested the Empire from the Chaldeans, and had raised a great monarchy, producing actions of more importance than were elsewhere to be found ; it was agreeable to the order of the story, to attend this Empire ; whilst it so flourished, that the affairs of the nations adjoining had reference thereunto. The like observance was to be used towards the fortunes of Greece, when they again began to get ground upon the Persians ; as also towards the affairs of Rome, when the Romans grew more mighty than the Greeks.

As for the Medes, the Macedonians, the Sicilians, the Carthaginians, and other nations who resisted the beginnings of the former empires, and afterwards became but parts of their composition and enlargement ; it seemed best to remember what was known of them from their several beginnings, in such times and places as they in their flourishing estates opposed those monarchies, which in the end swallowed them up. and herein I have followed the best geographers : who seldom give names to those small brooks, whereof many, joined together, make great rivers : till such times as they become united, and run in main stream to the ocean sea. If the phrase be weak, and the style not everywhere like itself : the first shows their legitimation and true parent ; the second will excuse itself upon the variety of matter. For Virgil, who wrote his Eclogues, “gracili avena,” used stronger pipes, when he sounded the wars of Aeneas. It may also be laid to my charge, that I use divers Hebrew words in my first book, and elsewhere:in which language others may think and I myself acknowledge it, that I am altogether ignorant : but it is true, that some of them I find in Montanus, others in Latin characters in S. Senensis ; and of the rest I have borrowed the interpretation of some of my friends. But say I had been beholding to neither, yet were it not to be wondered at, having had an eleven years’ leisure, to attain the knowledge of that, or of any other tongue ; howsoever, I know that it will be said by many, that I might have been more pleasing to the reader, if I had written the story of mine own times, having been permitted to draw water as near the well-head as another. to this I answer, that whosoever in writing a modern history, shall follow truth too near the heels, it may haply strike out his teeth. There is no mistress or guide, that hath led her followers and servants into greater miseries. He that goes after her too far off, loseth her sight, and loseth himself : and he that walks after her at a middle distance : I know not whether I should call that kind of course, temper, or baseness. It is true, that I never travelled after men’s opinions, when I might have made the best use of them : and I have now too few days remaining, to imitate those, that either out of extreme ambition, or of extreme cowardice, or both, do yet (when death hath them on his shoulders) flatter the world, between the bed and the grave. It is enough for me (being in that state I am) to write of the eldest times : wherein also why may it not be said, that in speaking of the past, I point at the present, and tax the vices of those that are yet living, in their persons that are long since dead ; and have it laid to my charge ? But this I cannot help, though innocent. and certainly, if there be any, that finding themselves spotted like the tigers of old time, shall find fault with me for painting them over anew, they shall therein accuse themselves justly, and me falsely.

For I protest before the Majesty of God, that I malice no man under the sun. Impossible I know it is to please all ; seeing few or none are so pleased with themselves, or so assured of themselves, by reason of their subjection to their private passions, but that they seem divers persons in one and the same day. Seneca hath said it, and so do I : “Unus mihi pro populo erat” ; and to the same effect Epicurus, “Hoc ego non multis sed tibi” ; or (as it hath since lamentably fallen out) I may borrow the resolution of an ancient philosopher, “Satis est unus, satis est nullus.” For it was for the service of that inestimable Prince Henry, the successive hope, and one of the greatest of the Christian world, that I undertook this work. It pleased him to peruse some part thereof, and to pardon what was amiss. It is now left to the world without a master : from which all that is presented, hath received both blows and thanks : “Eadem probamus, eadem reprehendimus : hic exitus est omnis judicii, in quolis secundum plures datur.” But these discourses are idle. I know that as the charitable will judge charitably : so against those, “Qui gloriantur in malitia,” my present adversity hath disarmed me. I am on the ground already, and therefore have not far to fall : and for rising again, as in the natural privation there is no recession to habit ; so it is seldom seen in the privation politic. I do therefore forbear to style my readers gentle, courteous, and friendly, thereby to beg their good opinions, or to promise a second and third volume (which I also intend) if the first receive grace and good acceptance. For that which is already done, may be thought enough, and too much : and it is certain, let us claw the reader with never so many courteous phrases, yet shall we evermore be thought fools, that write foolishly. For conclusion, all the hope I have lies in this, that I have already found more ungentle and uncourteous readers of my love towards them, and well-deserving of them, that ever I shall do again. For had it been otherwise, I should hardly have had this leisure, to have made myself a fool in print.