SIR FRANCIS BACON’S
DISCOVERED AND DECIPHERED BY
ORVILLE W. OWEN, M. D.
Sir Francis Bacon's Letter to the Decipherer
MY DEAR SIR:
Thus leaning on my elbow I begin the letter scattered wider than the sky and earth;
And yet the spacious breadth of this division,
As it spreads round in the widest circle,
Admits the mingling of the four great guides we use,
So that we have no need of any minute rule
To make the opening of our device
Appear as plainly to you as the sun.
But sir, at the same time, there is no orifrex
For a point as subtle as Ariachne’s broken woof
To enter, in its whole bulk or substance, unless you have
Found out the guides of all our shifts and changes.
And if you give away or hedge aside
From the direct forthright,
Like to an entered tide they all rush by
And leave you hindermost;
Or like a gallant horse falne in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject nere,
O’errun and trampled on.
And for fear that you would go astray from our design
Before you had your powers well put on,
We have marked out a plan in this epistle
To communicate to you how our great cipher cues combine;
And we beseech you ask of us
What questions you may choose
And in what manner; and we will answer unpremeditated,
And you shall find we will,
By the asking of questions and the answers,
Tell you in what disjoined and separate books
The secrets are laid up; and
Thus by question and dialogue of compliment,
And talking of the Alps and Apennines, the Perennean,
And the River Poe, we will write a letter to your lordship.
Now question us and catechise;
What you shall ask of us we’ll answer.
"Sweet sir, you honour me. I fear with my weak wit I know not how it is to be questioned."
"O sir, that is a question now, and here, like
An A B Sey book, comes the answer.
You must either be directed by some who know
What we are about, or take upon yourself
That which we are sure you do not know;
And yet it is easy, if only care be taken
That the text be torn to pieces and
Diligently and severely sifted for the questions
And the answers which are well shadowed
Out in endless variety; for the story begins
With questions, and we put together the question
And the answer plainly."
"What shall I do now?"
"Make trial of this union."
"But they are all divided, and I shall not know
Which are to be joined, except you tell me both what
Is to be enquired and with what view."
"It is necessary to take all the questions
To find our cues. Then we will have no screen between us.
For the more it seeks to hide itself,
The bigger bulk it shows; and if you
Can hit upon and pick out the cues,
The chain will draw after it whole bands and troops of works.
Keep these questions then together,
And when you have seen more and heard more,
"I will obey you in everything.
The way, however, is not easy.
How can a man who knows not from whence
The words come, turn the questions?
The work will be either abortive or impossible,
Unless my steps be guided by a clew;
And your honor must not think that which is hid so well
Can be sifted without an easy and ready rule
To make it smooth. The first question is, therefore,
What simple plain rule is there to teach me
The way to shift?"
"Sir, the mightiest space in fortune, nature brings,
To join like, likes; and kiss like native things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense, and do suppose
What has been cannot be.
Take your knife and cut all our books asunder,
And set the leaves on a great firm wheel
Which rolls and rolls, and turning the
Fickle rolling wheel, throw your eyes upon FORTUNE, that goddess blind that stands upon
A spherical stone, that turning and inconstant rolls
In restless variation. Mark her the prime mover;
She is our first guide."
"Have I discovered your first great guide and stop?"
"You have, and the first chapter by its aid
Will now be laid open and found out."
"I understand you, sir, to say I must place the leaves
Upon a great wheel, and cast mine eye first upon
"You understand well. You have won. You are now out of the wood,
And may begin, and throughout your journeys
You shall have no further difficulty;
For this first guide in its working teacheth you
The whole. And we will henceforth
Promise you calm seas and voyage expeditious.
And we will warrant you from drowning,
Though your ship were no stronger than
A nut-shell, and as leaky as a sieve.
And indeed, you shall put out to sea with your
Ship tight, and yare, and bravely rigg’d,
The poop of beaten gold, and the silver oars
Will to the tune of flutes keep stroke
And make the waters which they beat to
Follow faster, as amorous of their strokes;
The sails so perfumed, that the love-sick winds
With gentle breath, will swell the silken tackle,
And fan in auspicious gales the purple woven sails,
Which shall be tended by so many mermaids,
Who yarely frame with touches of flower-soft hands,
"At the helm will a seeming mermaid steer;
And from the topmast, soaring aloft in the beams o’ the sun,
Shall wave the British colours fairer than the princely
Roman eagle of imperial Cæsar, and
Under a pavilion of cloth of gold and tissue,
(Its roof fretted with golden cherubim, hung
Round with tapestry, o’er-picturing with
Divers coloured fancy work smiling cupids,
Pretty dimpled boys depending on their brands,
Venus and her son dove-drawn,
Chaste Dian bathing, proud Cleopatra
When she met her Roman, And Sidus swelled
Above the banks with press of boats or pride),
Shall set a burnisht throne where your highness
May take your rest, and tossing on the ocean,
See, as it were, the pageants of the sea,
The argosies, who with portly sail like
Seigniors and rich burgers on the flood,
Do over-peer the petty traffiquers
That curtsie to them, do them reverence
As they fly by them with their woven wings.
And your train shall bestow your luggage
In the cabin of our brave vessel, and
Trouble us not, while we, in our sea voyage,
Where there is nothing to be seen but sea and sky,
Will waste the time with such
Discourse, as we not doubt, will make it go quick away;
For we will deliver all the story of our life, and the particular
Accidents gone by since we came to this isle;
A chronicle of day by day, not a relation
For a break-fast time, and we will requite
You for the time you have lost, or at least
Bring forth a wonder to content you."
"Doth fortune show all?"
"No, she doth now show it all; but turn
Your fortune’s face to face, and point to point;
And in a moment fortune will cull forth
Her happy minion."
"Fortune must be joined with another then,
For the successful directing of the course aright?"
"It is necessary, sir, to find three more."
"What are they, sir?"
"Fortune makes nature’s natural the cutter off
Of nature’s wit; and so have we.
For you, peradventure, work neither by nature nor fortune.
Are your natural wits too dull to reason?"
"You mock me, my lord."
"Indeed, is nature too hard for you? Why then, we will speak it.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
Our second guide is the Latin word NATUS."
"Your honor shall see now how I will work
To bring this matter to the wishéd end. For I see an end.
But I have but two yet, and you tell me I must find out four."
"That is true, but it seemeth to us, that only by
Fortune and nature
Could you have enquired so far.
Follow fortune as a leader, and nature and her radicals
As a guide, and if you look sharply and attentively
It is certain you shall see that now and then
Fortune and nature are at fault; and then we make
HONOUR and REPUTATION
The two words to guide you toward the end.
So now the gates are ope, now prove FORTUNE,
NATURE, HONOUR and REPUTATION widens them.
And so we leave you to your wandering lot,
Wishing good luck to your wandering steps."
"Ah, my dear lord, upon mine honour
I have sought to match the cues,
But I know not how to use them.
They are so obscure that they are inscrutable.
I have tread an endless trace in ways unentered,
In labours long and wide, without guide
Or good direction how to enter in, or how
To issue forth, for it would seem that there is
No system to the puzzle.
And by heaven, methinks it were as easy
To leap and pluck bright honour from the
Pale-faced moon, or dive into the bottom of the
Deep, where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drownéd honour by the locks,
As to endeavour to catch your divers ciphers,
While setting the great wheel to which is fixed,
As to an ayme or butt, wide stretched,
All thy leaves in continual motion, and make their parts
Keep in one consent, congreeing in full
And natural close, like music.
I would out-stare the sternest eyes that look;
Out-brave the heart most daring on the earth,
Pluck the young cubs from the she bear,
Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
To win the cipher. But alas! the while,
If Hercules and Lychas play at dice,
Which is the better man? The throw may turn by fortune
From the greater to the weaker hand;
So is Alcides beaten by his rage;
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain,
And die with grieving.
For by God’s sonties, sir,
’T will be a hard way to hit."
"We knew this would be your answer,
Yet ought your feeble spirits, that
’Gan faint and reel at this thought
That ‘my quest is o’er,’ to rise again;
For it already seems that
Fortune’s headlong wheel begins to turn
And sun to shine more bright than it was wont.
Listen now to us, and we shall make it
As bright and beautiful as Glorie’s beams appear,
Whose goodly light than Phœbus’ lamp
Doth shine more clear.
And sir, though far and wide the secret thread
Of these rules seem scatteréd,
This distribution ceases if you
To one place carry all the words of your cue.
Then may you see the great flood
Or confluence of materials carries along with it
The key of every story for the instruction
Of the decipherer. And as a sentence
Is but a cheveral glove to a good wit,
The wrong side may be quickly turned outward
And transposed to another meaning.
Therefore, let your own discretion be your tutor.
And suit the action to the word, and the word to the action,
With this special observance, that you match
Conjugates, parallels and relatives by placing
Instances which are related one to another
By themselves, and all the concordances
Which have a correspondence and analogy
With each other should be commingled with the connaturals.
And when you have collected a sufficient quantity
Of absolutely similar matter, by skilful handling
The proper collocation of things may be
Made out and disentangled.
The connections, concatenations or unions,
Ought to be, and will be, observed. For they are
Interspersed in sufficient quantities to allow
The correspondences to be revealed so clearly
That any purblind eye may find them out.
They are so clear, so shining, so naked, and so evident,
That they will, in the full course of their glory,
Glimmer through a blind man’s eye;
And by transferring and putting together in conjunction
Or combination the aggregation of similars,
You will find, my lord, it shall be our care
To have you so royally appointed that
You shall not want one word, and you will find
You have solved the riddle; for many things
Having reference to one consent may work contrariously.
As many arrows loosed several ways comes to one mark;
As many winding ways meet in one town;
As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea;
As many straight lines close in the dial’s center,
Then so may a thousand ciphers, once afoot,
And in one purpose, be all well borne."
"Heaven give me the patience that I need,
For alas! the way is wearisome and long;
And if I had dreamed it was such a task
Of labour and of judgment to winnow the truth from falsehood,
And sort, match, and combine the disjoined fragments,
Putting it together so that all things
Are changed and nothing lost;
To leave no rubs or botches in the work,
(For if it is not well done, ’t is but a botch,
And will be but an ape imitating nothing to the life,
But bringing forth only that which is lame and counterfeit,)
I warrant you I would not have begun.
For in sooth it wearies me to study
For the mixed words. I marvel you would make me.
The very troublesomeness of carefully searching
Everywhere for the quandom directions,
Without regular order, is such a plague.
Oh, it is a tedious search
By indirections to find directions out.
I was a fool to take it upon myself to open it."
"You say it wearies you to study?
A true devoted pilgrim is not weary
To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps.
Then how much less should you, that with our wings can fly,
And when the flight is made to a world so dear?
Yet how many weary steps have you o’er gone?
How many weary miles?
Have you in your travel measured one mile
In your hunt for this golden crown?
No, not one mile. And sir,
What is the end of study? Let me know."
"Why that to know which else we would not know."
"Things hid and bar’d, you mean, fro’ common sense.
Aye; that is studie’s Godlike recompense."
"Is not study like the heaven’s glorious sun,
That will not be deep search’d with saucy looks?"
"Aye, but small have continual plodders ever won
Save base authority from others’ books,
And painfully to pore upon a book,
Seeking the light of truth,
While truth the while doth falsely
Blind the eyesight of his look,
(For light seeking light doth light of light beguile)
Is, if you please, a barren task too hard for me;
For ere I find where light in darkness lies,
My light grows dark by losing of mine eyes."
"Then we would burn our study.
Will you tell us how you, who are ignorant,
Can master our secret, or take upon yourself
That which we are sure you do not know,
Unless you be directed, as neither
Wit nor meditation can be relied upon to loose the
Gordion knot, or unpeg the basket
And let our sweet birds fly? And remember sir,
If all the years were playing hollidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come.
And believe us, sir, we did not dare to have
Our ventures in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place.
"Thou darest not? Why?"
"I’ll tell you: for the fear the finder out
Of this secret story in inconsiderate zeal
Might make it known unto our great mother,
Or the king. And then our life and glory,
Like a shooting star, would from the firmament fall
To the base earth.
For, my good lord, in this secret way
We unfold a dangerous chronicle, and by starts
Unclasp a secret book to your quick conceiving,
And read you matter deep and dangerous,
As full of peril and adventurous spirit
As to o’er-walk a current roaring load
On the unsteadfast footing of a spear.
And if we fall in, good-night; we could not swim,
And so would sink. Therefore, we humbly implore and pray
By the immortal God and His Son, our Saviour,
That you beware how you unfold the ways
Of searching out the ciphers, at least
Till we be dead."
"I hope your honor takes no question
But I will deal in this as secretly and justly
As your soul should with your body."
"I’ll tell you straight, we are questioned
By our fears of what may chance. For if it be found out
In our life-time we would have no other shift
But first to confess and then be hanged upon the gallows.
Then if you would not be an honourable murderer,
My dear lord, vouchsafe to take this oath
Never to reveal the great narrative that you have found
While we live, but to publish it as a posthumous work,
So that posterity may see our genius,
And that we may reap the fruit of our modesty."
"Tut! Fear ye, sir, that I shall turn traitor?"
"We cordially confess that we do.
We tremble at the thought."
"You are deceived. I have some honour.
Upon mine honour and the greatness of my word,
I will not work you any wrong;
In proof whereof I will now, sir, sweare and vow
To keep my word to you."
"Kneel down then, my lord, and lay your hand upon my sword,
And sweare, so help you mercy, that how strange
Or odd so e’er we bear ourself (as we perchance hereafter
Shall think to put an Antic disposition on;)
That you at such times seeing us, never shall
With arms encumbered thus, or thus, head shake;
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As ‘well I know,’ or ‘I could and if I would,’
Or ‘if I list to speak;’ or ‘there be and if there might,’
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note,
That you know ought of us. This not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you!
"Sweare by my sword never to speak of this
That you have found while we do live."
"Sweare never to publish that we conceal under the names
Of others our own till we are dead."
"Sweare never to reveal the secret cipher words
That guide your steps from part to part,
Nor how it is gathered, joined or put together,
Till we be dead, so help you God!"
"Here I do bend my knee with thine, and sweare
I will not upon any pretense speak of this,
Nor publish it, nor set down in writing the words you use,
Or what you do impart to me, so long, my lord,
As you have life, so help me God. And in this vow
I do chain my soul to thine;
And ere my knee rise from the earth’s cold face,
I throw mine hands, mine eyes, my heart to you.
And when I break this oath that here
I sweare to you let me turn monster."
"Most noble sir, arise. You have now
But to follow all the guides like as a scholar
When he doth translate the verses of the Latin poets,
And turns the words as in his judgment
They should be writ.
You will not fail if to the work
You give time enough, for it is translated so easy
It is almost mechanical; and if it all be
Grossely and variably collected, fortune shall play
Upon your prosperous helm, and you shall find
Our philosophy and natural history are not built
Into pleasant and beautiful works like the frets
In roofs of houses, where one can scarce find
A posture in square, or triangle, or straight line,
Amongst such an infinite number.
But they are only like a granery or store-house
Of matters, not meant to be pleasant
To stay or live in, but only to be entered
As occasion requires when any thing is wanted
For the work, by the interpreter."
"My lord, all my fortunes at your feet I’ll lay,
And follow you throughout the world.
Here is my honour’s pawn. Engage it
To the trial."
"If you’ll sit down and question us again
We’ll strive to tell you more concerning
This great quest, as our fame and reputation
Is at stake."
"Will you tell me this, namely: Whether there be a system?"
"It was not your wandering eyes, glancing unawares
In sluggish way, that has guided your
Straight course through sweet diversity.
Then wherefore should you ask us such a question?
Nevertheless we will answer you. See you not
That we have order in disorder? Could you have
Advanced one step without a prompter through ways
So scattered and dispersed? Explain this circle
Of transformation which nature accomplishes
By many windings. If you will hound
Nature or Pan in her wanderings, the smallest twine
Will lead us. But governed unskillfully and by chance,
Your weary bark will run on the deceitful rocks,
And the shocks of the dashing seas of ignorance
That are embattled against you,
Will in its ebb and flow dash your
Tempest tossed bark to pieces,
As does the sea in stronds afar remote
The wayward posters of the ocean.
And you, heart sick with thought, weak with musing,
And your search so slow that you may well be laughed at,
Will perish like the ship which, having no pilot aboard,
Does with shivering shock knock on the rocks.
But you under the guidance of the key words,
Which are placed like lamps unto the pilot
Aboard the ship, and show him the way that he,
In the mist and fog, may follow the straight passage
Between the submarine rocks that are ever present
In the channel of the winding shore, will
Save your ship from wrack.
And, being governed by them as the sea
Is governed by the moon, you may ebb and flow like the sea,
According to the impulses of the various
And wandering stories; and you must
Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times
And into an hour-glass, turning the
Accomplishment of many years, for many things
Are at a distance that near at hand are concealed,
And have no apparent relation, but if part of one
Be tacked on or laid side by side with another part,
From the beginning to the end, proceeding first
By gradations, and then suddenly by jumps;
And if you alternate this process you will undo
The several accounts. As it changes
And transforms itself into a strange variety
Of shapes and appearances, so that at length,
After running through the whole circle
And completing the period you can find out
Where you should begin and end; for by
Transplanting the most remote
And most completely separated parts in the confused
And mixed books, by means hitherto unattempted,
This epistle keeps giving either explanations or advice.
For we this garden to adorn with all variety--
Flowers with flowers and weeds amongst weeds--
Have mingled, each gathered in its place
As the husbandman patiently transplants
The scattered roots in knotted, tangled and irregular lines,
That men his garden’s glory should admire.
For thus arrayed, each the other’s work does beautify;
And such collection must be made, by digging up
In this manner the various hidden roots
Which then may be transferred to their own beds.
Set them together, and fold them over and over,
And the words compound."
"What mean you, sir, by compound words?"
"No one can be so dull as to believe
That we have set the whole name of any man
Open amongst the subject matter.
That certainly would be childish in the highest degree.
On the contrary, though the names are set
So frequent, you must understand the device,
(And our device, we think, will out-strip all praise,)
Before you can discover how we overcome the difficulty.
We use the simple and safe plan of consort.
The similarity of word with word,
Contributes to preserve the whole from discovery.
However, we will show you how, for the speedy
And perfect attaining of names, to fit the words.
And if you know how one is obtained,
You know how all are coupled.
So please take our on-hers, and we’ll strive
To let you under-stand the method that you must employ
In unraveling and unlocking the double words;
And we will here give you five different examples
Of the ways to put the words together
That your honor may see, know and practice
The easy methods of writing which the author has used,
And by the help of the pattern, make ready way.
And we hope this easy, simple and obvious method
Of arranging things will open wide
The window to your honor.
First, then: Turn to the Mid Summer Night’s Dream,
And look into the speech of Bottom, wherein
He is recounting his past complications,
And see how, in his speech, he misplaces the scripture,
Whereof you, sir, shall need but to read
To see the manner of putting together
Or separating the sense of the work; and it proveth,
Simply and plainly, the ingenious means of writing
Without creating suspicion."
"Your honor means this passage, do you not?
‘The eye of man hath not heard,
The ear of man hath not seen,
Man’s hand is not able to taste,
His tongue to conceive,
Nor his heart to report,
What my dream was.’"
"We do. And is it not legible?
Can you not easily change the words from one end
To another, and make it read right? Thus:
‘The eye of man hath not seen,
The ear of man hath not heard,
Man’s hand is not able to report,
His tongue to taste,
Nor his heart to conceive
What my dream was.’
Next, my lord, turn to Love’s Labour’s Lost,
And where the company of counterfeit actors
Play before the queen, read the passage of wit
Between them and the spectators.
See how one of the auditors compounded the name
Of one of the actors."
"I think this is the place:
‘Therefore, as he is an asse, let him go;
And so adiew sweet Jude. Nay, why dost thou stay?’
‘For the latter end of his name.’
For the asse to the Jude: Give it him, Jud-as away."
"You have it, sir. Now look into the
Two Gentlemen of Verona, where Protheus and Speed
In the second scene have argument, and to one another
Speak these words:"
‘But what said she?’
‘Nod-I. Why that’s noddy.
You mistook, sir; I said she did nod;
And you asked me if she did nod, and I say I.
And that set together is noddy.
Now you have taken the pains to set it together,
Take it for your pains.’
"Now see in the same play the singular skirmishings
And attacks of Speed and Launce, when they first meet;
And in their solemn foolishness you may read
This triple conjunction:
‘Why then, how stands the matter with them?
Marry thus, when it stands well with him, it stands well with her.
What an asse art thou! I understand thee not;
My staffe understands me.’
‘It stands under thee indeed.’
‘Why, stand-under, and under-stand is all one.’
"And where they read the letter, if you look you may see this:
‘Item, she can sowe.
That’s as much as to say (can she so?)’
"Now then take the name of the great commander,
Nerve and bone of our English fleet,
When in the wide sea they overcame
The knights of tawnie Spain. Fit the first and
Last half together, and How-word (Howard) may be
Made out clear and absolute.
Ought not the relation, correspondence, and similitude
In this collection, put the suspicion of failure
In operation out of your mind?
Is it not plain?"
"Indeed it is. Then the cipher keys and words ought
To be written as they are pronounced,
And not in the usual way."
"In this cryptic or concealment, the pronunciation
Should not agree with the writing. Your grace
May spell them backward, or match the terminations
Of the syllables, according to the varied matter."
"Is it in verse? I cannot show it in rhyme.
I have tried. I was not born under a rhyming planet."
"Sir, have you not read, a good poet’s made, as well as born?
But as the matter could not be made
To even run smoothly in the broad road of blank verse,
It is not in rhyme, though we have now and then,
Both for the pleasure of the interpreter and reader,
Annexed very short verses and speeches in rhyme.
We have also appended to the letters
A true notice, or biographical account
Of each character that will appear
In the course of the history. In the first place,
Because they are of so fresh memory
As to be easily discerned, it was necessary
That care should be taken to so frame them
That such as are still living might not,
At the first sight, stumble upon such discoveries,
And see that we employed their own nature or character
As models, or find the author’s own origin,
Which is one of the greatest secrets locked
Within the writings. And, for the sake of
Our own safety, we executed the work in short
And scattered sentences, linked together in rude lines,
And any reader of moderate sagacity
And intelligence should see our manner of writing
This history (as it actually and really is)
Is such that it could not be compounded and divided,
Composed, decomposed, and composed again in manifold ways,
And made to mingle and unite by fits and starts,
And be in verse. It will be found the feet are
Weak and lame, even in the blank verse.
Look at the mass of works we use. Some of the story
Has more feet than the verses would bear,
And you must exercise your own judgement
And give it smoothness when it lamely halts.
Be not alarmed; there will be little difficulty in doing this.
On the contrary, the easier and plainer
Will everything become the nearer the
Investigation approaches the end.
Nor should you expect anything exquisite in it.
We are sorry it is not so rich in worth
Or beauty as it might have been made,
Had we not, to prevent its discovery, and to provide
For our own future safety, buried it deep
Beneath a mass of falsehood.
We have shaped forth a faithful narrative of facts,
Large in bulk and extent, and pleasing in variety,
Rather than a treasure house of eloquence or poesy.
On the other hand, we have made it
By the luminous brilliancy of the matter,
So suitable to its dignity, that we will vouch
That it shall not either be laughed at or made fun of.
On the contrary, future generations and posterity,
By the assistance of our work, will have
A faithful, true, and strange account
Of the mysteries of the kingdom, and the
Succession of strange fortunes that we have had.
And we desire those into whose hands
This work shall fall, that they understand
That our design is, frankly, and
Without circumlocution, to write and to publish
A clear and formal history of our time,
Though we have sometimes introduced
By way of ornament to the history,
And to give luster to our own name,
Information and revelation in noble
And melodious measures.
But there may yet be missing of your company,
Some few odd lads that we have used, whom
You remember not. And it now becomes absolutely necessary
For you to search out the works of which
You are not already possessed, and
Put them upon your wheel."
"Will you name the works under which you have
Concealed, hid, and masked yourself?"
"We will enumerate them by their whole titles
From the beginning to the end: William Shakespeare, Robert Green, George Peel, and Christospher Marlow’s Stage plays; The Fairy Queen, Shepherd’s Calendar,
And all the works of Edmund Spenser;
The Anatomy of Melancholy of Robert Burton,
The History of Henry the Seventh, the Natural History,
The Interpretation of Nature, the Great Instauration,
Advancement of Learning, the De Augmentis Scientarium,
Our Essays, and all the other works of our own."
"I am ready to distrust mine eyes and wrangle with my
Reason that persuades me to any other truth but that
I am mad. I fear for certain the world will call me mad,
Before it will believe such multiplicity of genius.
I have marveled sometimes at the bulk of books
Published in the year 1623, and before,
But I did not think that any one man was accomplished
Enough, or capable of writing them. I cannot grasp it.
I frankly do agree to undertake the enterprise,
But the extraordinary aggregation concerned in it
Will, I fear, make me scandalized."
"What mean you? Will you lose your reputation for truth?"
"Men, no doubt, will think that I am a liar.
I may not conceal from you that I shall appear for a time
To be a fool. I shall be met with universal ridicule,
As it is men’s nature to endeavour to slobber the
Gloss of a new creation with the most stubborn
And boistorous comment and objection. You must
Therefore, your honor, see there be, by all due means,
Plain, direct, and not involvéd proof of your assertion,
So that I shall lose none of my honour, fame or reputation,
In that you have made me publisher of this pretense.
Throw hence bashful cunning, and prompt me plain."
"We will prove our assertions."
"By what rule, sir?"
"Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the plain bald pate
Of Father Time himself."
"Let’s hear it."
"The basis of our device is the stage, and we
Insert the titles of every play, and of all our books,
Plainly about the keys, to prompt and instruct you.
And if you will make a collection or catalogue
Of them, they will serve to show you and the world
(As you join them together) the threads, fibers, and links
Of the chain, and our invention is, by the simple index
Of our works, laid open without any great
Or laborious art. Is this such a piece of study?"
"It must be confessed that this plan appears
To be plain, and to answer my question. But to simply assert
That it is true, is not enough. The world will scarcely
Believe this without trial, and the vulgar people
Will think that this single and simple collection
Is too plain, and the simplicity of it will be
Worse even than laborious examination. And your honor
Must offer them instances which have
Less likelihood either of accident, or
The hand of man. I insist, because I would not have it
Affirmed that I mixed the divisions together."
"If a man disdain a plain thing because it is plain,
And is foolishly attached to his own sagacity,
Rather than to a laborious and sober inquiry of truth,
Let him remember this, that the manner of men is to
Overlook what lies before their feet in their search
After truth. And inferior men, who assert the fabric
Of this history has come together through fortuitous
Concurrence or chance, and not by human skill, are
Actuated by revenge, or the desire to appear wise to
The people. For such great wits, let them accuse you
Of cunningly suppressing the secret in some way,
Or deny the truth of the congregated story, and then
Challenge the comparison between the correspondences,
And let every man make some little trial for
Himself of the way which we describe and lay out.
Match the syllogisms duly and orderly,
And put together systematically and minutely
The chain or coupling, links of the argument.
That is to say, the connaturals, concurrences,
Correspondents, concatenations, collocations, analogies,
Similitudes, relatives, parallels, conjugates and sequences
Of everything relating to the combination, composition,
Renovation, arrangement, and unity revolving
In succession, part by part, throughout the whole,
Ascending and descending, leaving no tract behind,
And sifting it as faithful secretaries and clerks
In the courts of kings, set to work, with diligence and
Judgement, and sort into different boxes, connaturals
Concerning matter of state, and when he has
Attentively sorted it, from the beginning to the end,
And united and collected the dispersed and distributed
Matter, which is mingled up and down in combination,
It will be easy to make a translation of it.
For when a thing does not aptly fall into its
Dichatomies, let him either pass it by or force it out
Of its natural shape. It is not probable that a man that is
Slavishly bent upon blind, stupid, and absurd objections,
Will bestow time and work enough upon this to make
Trial of the chain. Such a man is not entitled to judge
And decide upon these questions. You ought not to be asked
To abide by the decision of a tribunal which is itself
On its trial; though we well know that as
Human nature is all tainted, corrupted, and unjust,
That you will be accounted a fool by men who have
No knowledge of the rules, or no skill to judge them right.
We have wasted an infinity of time on these matters,
Doing and undoing the cipher history, to mark out
The ways for the discovery of the secrets,
And to devise proofs, knowing that men will admit nothing
But on the faith of eyes, or by careful and severe
Examination. And, on this account, we make at least
Twenty repetitions of the ways for finding out the letters,
A fact which sufficiently shows that the books are our own.
Nevertheless, we subjoin a second proof, which is
More trustworthy (if such can be found), to show
The footsteps of our device. We have enclosed
Our own name, without regard to safety, in the
Different texts, in such capital letters that, as
The prophet saith, ‘He that runneth by may read.’
And if you have digested a sufficient number
Of the books, no doubt the first point you found
Was our own name. Let men find out for themselves
The truth of this, and they will think it agreeable
To avoid all insinuations of lame or counterfeit
Material having been taken and used."
"But as it wanders here and there, and as nothing
Is counted, weighed or measured, suppose they do
Undertake to prove it is loose and vague in information,--
What shall I say? Can I count it out?"
"Pray you, spare your arithmetic. Never count the turns
Of the wheel, if once or a million. We work not by the figure,
As it would be too laborious to write and read.
The cipher narratives of the author are,
From the profusion of mixed books and volumes,
Too involved to be hidden by the coupling of figures;
And as we want these disguiséd secrets
Ready and easy to write and read, when the fragments
Are before you, we have tried by simple change of place
To overcome the difficulty and task of literary interpretation,
And we think our great work will afford a pleasant recreation
To you, who have, one by one, found out by wandering
Among them, the correspondent words which we thought
Good to use.
For we will knit up our secret tales in silken
Strings, with twenty odd, conceited, true love knots,
And will make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step has brought you to the end;
And there you, my lord, may rest after much turmoil,
As doth a blessed soul in elysium; and when you, with
Obedience and industry, have engrossed this, and
Piled up the wingéd words like heaps of strange achievéd gold;
And when you, like the honey bee, cull from
Every flower the virtuous sweets, your thighs packed
With wax, your mouth with golden honey,
And have brought it to the hive for so work the honey bees,
Creatures that, by a rule of nature,
Teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.
For they have a king, and officers of sort,
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home;
Others, like merchants, venter trade abroad;
Others, like soldiers arméd in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds,
Which pillage they, with merry march, bring home
To the tent royal of their emperor,
Who, busied in his majesties, surveys
The singing masons building roofs of gold,
The civil citizens kneeding up the honey,
The poor mechanic porters crowding
In their heavy burthens at his narrow gate;
The sad-eyed justice, with his surley hum,
Delivering o’er to executors pale
The lazy yawning drones, and when, like unto a
Pilgrim, you will step by step climb
Unto the top of fortune’s friendly wheel,
Then we will raise your honour to as high a pitch
In this, our strong encounter, as Hector
Did in the Grecian camp, when he, to overdare
The pride of Grecia, set his warlike person
To the view of fierce Achilles, rival of his fame."
"But may they not say it is chance that doth this?"
"We thought of that; and if any man conceive
That it is done without any system or common
Center, let him proceed to form a history,
And neglect the guides. He cannot go through with it
To its completion, for if a man runs the wrong way,
The more active and swift he is, the further will
He go astray; for the lame man, that takes the right road,
Out-strippes the runner that takes the wrong.
And let it be remembered, no man can rightly
And successfully lay bare the truth of the histories,
Or find out a single discovery, without he have
The faithful and certain guides which we use.
Let him vary his experiments as laboriously
As he will, he never comes to a resting place,
But still finds something to seek beyond.
And no man can know the shiftings, or how to go
Forward, and mingle and interchange contraries,
Until he find our four beginnings, or principles.
And neither the natural force of his understanding,
Nor meditation, observation, excellence of wit,
Or premature and unseasonable eagerness, offers
Any chance of success, for he is sure to end
In the labyrinth where he ought to have begun.
For howsoever various his intellect is,
Left to its own course, it is not to be trusted
To open the matter, and no man can take the matter
Into his own hands, and by hastily running
Up and down, bring forth the hidden and secret
Rules of demonstration. For the histories
Turn about the keys FORTUNE, NATURE,
HONOUR, and REPUTATION,
And, like a labyrinth, snare or dazzle
The understanding; and the single change
From fortune to Pan (or nature),
Can in no other way be found out, for to
Exactly hunt out the god of hunters, whilst the
Pursuit is directed another way, is in the
Beginning impossible, as the rude and scornful god
Is so cunningly (by the double nature of the
Writing) hidden, that it is not possible
Any one would have thought that he is brought in
To turn the decipherer, or draw him on
Like to a common finger-post, which is set up
Where roads part to indicate the several directions.
And on account of the frequent divisions
Of the road into parts, it is not assumption
Of knowledge upon our side, if we request you,
Or any man that has a mind to seek for this secret path,
To hunt for the ways of Pan, and every secret work of
NATURE, FORTUNE, HONOUR, and REPUTATION,
Revolving from one unto the other, and we
Promise you you can read the beginning of the
History, which at times, moved by reputation,
Turns either up or down.
Nor can the printer’s errors connected with it,
Throw it into confusion. For you, being once
Perfected, can overcome any accidental error
In the print and manage to advance and match
Together all the works. But if any questions
Are passed over, there will be so much rawness
That the history will be rejected
And pronounced untrue. Therefore we wish
This work, which is so honourable and stately
An history, to be compiled with diligence,
That it may last as long as the universal language.
And we have so framed this history that posterity
May see the cursed malignity of their sovereigns,
Who have stolen into our place, and by means of the
Greatest scandals turned half the world against us.
But time will show these letters to the world,
And we leave it to posterity to crown our martyrdom
With the crown of innocence. But these fears of yours
Seem to us to savour utterly of imagination;
For when the necessary mixture of the collection
Has been made, and all the instances and examples
Collected and tested, as well as the questions,
According to our instructions, they will carry with them
The proof of the problem at once, as a lover of learning
May everywhere observe indications, outlines,
Indexes, and in short a whole book full of methods
And processes, which from the beginning to the end
Are absolutely without change, only in form of question.
It always mixes together with questions
That are answered while the question is being asked,
Which open manner of reducing to order the
Interruption of the history, serveth to show
The relation between them. But if it should appear
To some poor-spirited person, whom nothing pleaseth
But rare accidents, that the direction is complicated,
And in respect of the words vague, let him understand
That the highest art of writing or infolding ciphers
Is that they be written so that the first obscureness
In direction will appear to the vulgar such an obstacle
To progression that such persons will not follow the double
Mixture, nor notice that the matter, by alteration
In other lines, doth, like flowers by the fiery vigor
Of the sun, unfold, and that all ciphers are furnished
With safeguards, that he that asketh, and him that questioneth,
Shall have to reach the writer’s method both by
Labour and ingenuity; for the greatest matters
Are trusted to ciphers, not the simple things,
Such as are said to a man in public, but only such matters
Of private worth that have a show of hazard, or great disgrace,
If they be deciphered. And as nature has implanted
In every living creature apprehension and fear, no one
(Seeing that, for example, the third letter printed in this
Will, if it shall by accident be revealed to the prince’s eyes,
Or if he stumble upon it and learn the nature of the
Transferred and complicated history, hang us) will deny
That the author must first consider the peril he doth
Incur, and thus informed, no man, unless he be of very great
Wantonness or simulation, but will accept the rules
That we lay down for guidance. Why should men say
That what has not been attempted before, or attempted
And given over, is false? Your books cut off all design of
Your having writ them. By reading them there will be proof
Enough, in our opinion, for their bulk, magnitude, and style
Is our own. And what is more, no progress worthy of the name
Can be made but in this way, and in this way only
Can the truth be found. They be so arranged that they, who shall
Hereafter seek out and gather them together, must
At first but enter and set down the laws themselves,
And nothing else; compelled to it by the condition
Of the matter. Therefore, sir, lightly throw this squalid
Weed from you, and to his fortunes let him wend his way,
Certain that there will hardly be any great progress of
Interpretation by such a weed.
"And now, it is time for us to tell you
How we found the way to conceal these ciphers.
One night, when a youth, while we were reading
In the holy scriptures of our great God, something
Compelled us to turn to the Proverbs and read
That passage of Solomon, the king, wherein he
Affirmeth ‘That the glory of God is to conceal
A thing, but the glory of a king is to find it out.’
And we thought how odd and strange it read,
And attentively looked into the subtlety of the
Passage. As we read and pondered the wise
Words and lofty language of this precious
Book of love, there comes a flame of fire which
Fills all the room, and obscures our eyes with its
Celestial glory. And from it swells a heavenly
Voice that, lifting our mind above her
Human bounds, ravisheth our soul with its sweet,
Heavenly music. And thus it spake:
‘My son, fear not, but take thy fortunes and thy
Honours up. Be that thou knowest thou art,
Then thou art as great as that thou fearest.
Thou art not what thou seemest. At thy
Birth the front of heaven was full of fiery
Shapes; the goats ran from the mountains,
And the heards were strangely clamorous
To the frighted fields. These signs
Have markt thee extraordinary, and all the
Courses of thy life will show thou art not in
The roll of common men. Where is the living,
Clipt in by the sea that chides the banks of
England, Scotland, and Wales, who will call thee
Pupil, or will read to thee? And bring him out that
Is but woman’s son, will trace thee in the tedious
Ways of art, and hold thee pace in deep
Experiment. Be thou not, therefore, afraid of greatness,
I charge thee. Some men become great by advancement, vain
And favour of their prince; some have greatness
Thrust upon them by the world, and some achieve
Greatness by reason of their wit; for there is
A tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the
Flood, leads on to glorious fortune. Omitted, all the
Voyage of their life is bound in shallows
And miseries. In such a sea art thou now afloat,
And thou must take the current when it serves,
Or lose they ventures. Thy fates open their hands to thee.
Decline them not, but let thy blood and spirit
Embrace them, and climb the height of virtue’s
Sacred hill, where endless honour shall be made
Thy mead. Remember that that thou hast just
Read, that the Divine Majesty takes delight to hide
His work, according to the innocent play of children,
To have them found out; surely for thee to
Follow the example of the most high God cannot
Be censured. Therefore put away popular applause,
And after the manner of Solomon the king, compose
A history of thy times, and fold it into
Enigmatical writings and cunning mixtures of the
Theatre, mingled as the colours in a painter’s shell,
And it will in due course of time be found.
For there shall be born into the world
(Not in years, but in ages) a man whose pliant and
Obedient mind we, of the supernatural world, will take
Special heed, by all possible endeavour, to frame
And mould into a pipe for thy fingers to sound
What stop thou please; and this man, either led or
Driven, as we point the way, will yield himself a
Disciple of thine, and will search and seek out thy
Disordered and confuséd strings and roots with some
Peril and unsafety to himself. For men in scornful and
Arrogant manner will call him mad, and point at him
The finger of scorn; and yet they will,
Upon trial, practice and study of thy plan,
See that the secret, by great and voluminous labour
Hath been found out.’ And then the voice we heard
Ceased and passed away."
"Sir, I was born as free as you were, and I
Cannot endure the world should think that I have
Had no part in opening the great and strange works,
Or that it should flit from mouth to mouth,--
That I was, as it were, constructed like a kind
Of machine, for your inclining, and to bear your
Divers loads to and fro, as the asse bears gold; to
Groan and sweat under the business, and having
Brought your treasure where you will, to have my
Load ta’en down, and to be turned off, like the
Empty asse, to shake my ears and graze in commons."
"My lord, you talk like a peevish school-boy, worthless
Of such honour. You may stop, yet if you are not a fool,
You’ll still keep on unto the end, leaving no stone
Unturned, as this discovery will hereafter honour you.
For mistake us not a whit, my lord, the fates and
Oracles of heaven have sworn to royalize the deeds
Of him that finds the hidden secret out. A world of profit
And delight, of power, of honour, and of high renown,
Is promised to the studious artizan who will turn the
Key within the ward of the lock and open wide our
Closed and obstructed door. Yet, you may not be
Capable of detecting the ciphers. Many a man
Promises to himself more than he can perform,
And it is impossible to discover the subtlety of the work
Unless he that works loves it; not for the wages
Of an hireling, but for honour, reputation, or fame.
And to perfectly overcome the secrets of the
History that is hid within the girdle of our works,
And from the medley and ill-digested mass
To alter the obscurity and work out the cipher
The threads and fibres which are in little heaps
Or mole-hills, not in order, but scattered here and there,
Ready to be set up and framed, must be carefully
Investigated, and the workman must perform his part
With industry, diligence, and, we may say, religious care.
Conjoinéd with the Prince of Tyre, built unto
The Most High God the magnificent buildings that
The learned Rabbins have told us within
That city, the foot-stool of the King of Heaven,
Rounded with silver-flowing streams, and whose large diameter
Contained even three days’ journey’s length from wall to wall,
With two hundred gates carved out of burnisht brass,
As glorious as the portal of the sun.
And to deck heaven’s battlements with pride,
Six hundred towers that topless touch the clouds;
He from the cedars that upon the mountains stood,
The huge store of silver found in God’s treasure house,
And the tried gold, the barbarous multitude of Ethiopes
Furnished him; the buildings framed. And it was
Seven and thirteen years from their beginnings
Before Solomon finished and arranged the buildings
For the people of God, the ceremonial law of Moses,
And the fair daughter of Egypt’s king. Therefore,
Let no man attempt to mow the moss or to reap
The green corn till he gradually learn and accustom himself
To every one of the alterations, but, like Solomon,
Wait for harvest time."
"Sir, I think no deficiency will be found in me.
If it is not a charge too heavy for my strength,
I wish to be a good proficient in rightly writing
The ciphers, and know every degree of proceeding
That giveth light to the pursuit. But you know that,
Though Solomon did at first employ persons altogether
Unlearned, and collected all the materials and apparatus
For the work, and gathered the workmen some distance from the house,
He did it by God’s divine commandment, and by looking
Upon the model whereby God show’d the plot
For their information, the workmen, and the great shoals
Of people were by its means taught the way to proceed,
And were able without the noise of hammer or instrument,
In the fullness of time, to complete the tabernacle
Of God, and to raise and build without agitation,
And in silence the fair houses upon the mount.
For do we not read in the Chronicles and the
Sacred history of the ten tribes, that the savage people,
Working as they did by immediate inspiration of God,
And swelling with the coming of the Holy Spirit,
Performed their tasks and labour without noise, and with
Great judgment and understanding, forgetting their
Appetites of lust, of revenge, of profit, quarrels
And unreclaimed desires, and stood all sociably together,
Listening unto the airs and accords of the harp,
Which, lightly touched by an excellent musician,
Did so sweetly sound in their ears that their passions
Were bridled and dissolved, and by the power of the sweet music
Passed away, as you may note a wild and wanton heard,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds, bellowing and neighing loud,
(Which is the hot condition of their blood)
If they but hear, perchance, a trumpet sound,
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turned to a modest gaze,
Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirits are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Mark how the floor of heaven is thick inlaid
With patterns of bright gold.
There’s not the smallest orb which you behold,
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossely close it in, we cannot hear it
Till inspired. Therefore, the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods
By sounds of music, and therefore they, under the touches of sweet
Harmony, mute and silent, cut out of stone, marble, or gilt
The images and statues of angels, seraphim and cherubim;
Neatly framed the fabric of the goodly houses,
Raise and erect the stately galleries and rooms
Of conmixed wood, stone, and metal; lay the floors of pine,
Built the gates of fir, and with cunning hands
O’er laid the walls with gold and jewels;
Set the images in place, and cast the overflowing
Fountain, the great bathing pool (which they call a sea),
The oracles, the chapter ornaments, which are
O’er-embellished with knaps and flowers of all kinds
Cut in pure gold pomegarnets, lavender, mint, savory,
Marjoram, marigold, gillivors, maiden-heads, carnations,
Lilies, (the flower-d-luce being one), columbine, pinks,
Honeysuckles, roses, sweet satirium, poppies, wild thyme,
Bean flowers, daisies, anemones, tulips, hyacinth-orentalis,
Perywinkles, bullices, and virgin branches of the almond,
Peach, apple, cherry, dammacin and plum tree blossoms and fruit;
White thorn, ivy, holly, juniper, cypress, yew, pineapple, fir,
Lilac, and oak leaves; strawberries, plums, pears,
Appricotes, berberries, filberts, muskmellons,
Grapes, apples, peaches, wardens, melocotents, nectorines,
Quinces, medlars, jemlings, quadlins, rasps, and the like,
And out of molten gold cast the bowels and vessels;
Make the bulworks or embosments of rich stone; finely encompass
The sides with rails, statues and images;
Set fine seats about the grounds of the garden;
Under the leaves of the orange, lemon, and mezeroum trees,
Whose blossoms with the flowers of the vines
And honeysuckles perfume the air; line the green alleys
With water mints and rosemary, which, being trodden upon
And crushed, mingle their sweetness with the damask and red rose,
Marjoram, violet, pink, and gillivors in the air, and with a
Most excellent and cordial smell, the breath of flowers and
Plants comes and goes like the warbling of music.
For they set all the slope with flowers--whole alleys
Of them, so that the prince may walk under arches,
And between the pretty tufts of fruit trees
And arbours, environed with hedges on either side;
And by whole rows of flowers, which most delightfully
Perfume the air, and find nothing of ill smell, but only
Sweet. And here and there they set a bank for
Jury’s great king to lye and play on, while the
Prettiest lass, deckt with compound wreaths
Of Adon’s flowers, doth make garlands of the lime tree
Blossoms, to strew him o’er and o’er as he
Sleeps, in the soft stillness of the night, upon the bank.
Pave the bottom of the cisterns, convey the water
To the fountains, which (fed by a waterfall higher than the
Pool) spouteth or sprinkleth water in fine devices,
Arching in feathers, drinking-glasses, canopies and the like,
And to the pools which are full of fish,
Deliver the water in perpetual motion, by fine spouts,
Making it raise in several formes, and then discharging
It away by bores underground.
But Solomon was inspired with the spirit of the Creator.
I am not, so I must frame these questions to discover
The concordances, and by drawing forth from your honor
The answers, find the way, or like Narcissus
Diving in the deep, I die. But if I drown, it is by
Treading in your footsteps according to my oath
To serve your turn, for I know my major vow lies here.
That I’ll obey, indeed I warrant you, and I shall gladly
Try with swift pursuit to advance, and shall study
To be perfect in this, and learn the sculking places,
And obtain the victory. Oh! let us hence.
I stand on sudden haste."
"Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.
Yet, good luck to you. We are joyful to hear
Of your readiness to return to work, and our
Strong imagination sees a crown dropping upon your head.
Now have we tried your faithful heart enough,
And praise the gods your journey such good success
Hath had. Now be glad. Custom will make pleasant
And easy that which follows. Now the methods of this scheme
Are known, you will have an easy passage, so
Set forth when you please."
"Oh, my lord, it is not easy even to grasp in thought,
Much less to express in words."
"It is easy. The way is much more easy than you think.
It is itself a pastime; the posturn’s are so easily opened,
As you shall see if in a circle you partake to every one,
And leisurely demand an answer by compounding the words,
Turning them into new forms. Cast away nothing,
For thus this mode of operation proceeds,
And opens broad roads to the directions; and well examined
Is so simple and well defined, that it gives entrance
To all the secrets of the different letters’ construction.
And here we subjoin for the use of your grace
A synopsis of the more general and conspicious things
We have hidden in this collection of works.
We think it right to give a catalogue of the titles
Contained in the history, lest you, for want of warning,
Set to work the wrong way. First: Place after this
The Epistle Dedicatorie; then the third letter is
The description of her majesty, Queen Elizabeth,
Her gifts, her bridal, and her death, the General Curse,
Which is to disguise the story of our own origin,
Which, when the proofs shall be revealed,
Will make men stand as in a dream.
The General History follows this, in a series
Of separate letters, and the world,
Seeing that we have composed so accurate a history,
Will say, in effect, it is (even if found thus by accident)
More accurate and clear than has ever
Before been published, and, whether
There be a system or not, it is in all parts complete
And in the same manner of harmony and coherence,
And, it may be, all depends on the unravelling;
but it is certain that the several books and volumes,
By the general rule, in despite of sense,
Have each formed one entire story, which is miraculous.
And say ‘for this end were we born.’
"But this is trifling. Common history
In comparison with ours is negligent, inexact,
And built on sand, (or rather quicksand,)
And in itself is of no great use,
Because it is not a solid and material truth,
As it is polluted with mean or filthy things,
Which are to entangle and pervert the
It would not be difficult for us
To reduce the scattered history to a better order
Than that which we have followed, but
We protect ourself by surrounding
The true and lawful history with
A host of fables, spectres and shadows,
Which we, by endless labour, moulded into place,
That we might be saved from the grave.
This great history will be a very memorable work,
For it draweth down the history of this island of Britain
From antiquity to the time the monarchy
Passed into the hands of the two false twins of hell,
Who betrayed and destroyed the honour of the author.
You will hereafter find we shall always take care
To subjoin a portion of our work as a sample
For your better instruction, or will deliver
Convenient patterns and abstracts for the solution,
Or notes concerning things to be enquired
For your direction, thus giving you assistance in every case.
They will be short and ready, and yet
Sufficiently full of pleasant descriptions,
Pictures, and effects as not to tire you.
We will leave as little as possible for you to do,
For if too great a burden be imposed,
We think your zeal (especially as regards
The collecting of history) would begin to halt.
And we plainly confess it is a dull thing
To jade men’s minds too far in any thing.
And we have thought best to add jest to earnest,
And to vary and intermingle arguments, conversation,
Opinions, tales and whisperings of others,
With our questions; and in this piquant vein,
Not only keep the history aloof from discovery,
But make an entertaining yet exact history of our nation.
And now that the entrance to the secret has been found out,
The world will wonder how it could miss it so long.
And if you can endure to go on, pursue it strenuously,
My lord, and persevere even unto the end. We’ll give
Your grace a present of such price as all the world
Cannot afford the like, and the majesty of these, our
Inventions, ought to make you famous and great.
"The next letter is the author’s Epistle Dedicatorie,
Which we have dedicated to you, and may God
Hold it to your honour’s good content.
And now having said our prayers, we will
In our great hope lay all our best love and credence
Upon your promising fortunes, and
Bid you farewell.
(Sig.) SIR FRANCIS BACON."
The Epistle Dedicatory.
Whereas, before we knew
Not to whom to dedicate this work, now we do.
And as we through your grace shall yet be the means
Of making this age famous to posterity,
Your highness deserveth at the least that
These posthumous remains of your most obliged and
Faithful servant, Francis St. Albans, should be
Dedicated to your honour, and we will dedicate
To your grace, therefore, these posthumous
Volumes, being of the best fruits that by the good
Increase God gives to our pen and labours, we
Could yield if you will receive them at our hands.
And we most humbly offer to your highness this
Vast work, and we pray your lordship to prefix your
Name before them if you think they are indeed worth
Anything. Your grace has highly honoured us
By your hunt after the inventions, and we will confess
We have often thought that of all persons living
Your majesty were the one man in the world that
We would have known representing your majesty many
Times unto our mind and beholding you not with the
Inquisitive eye of presumption to discover that which
The scripture telleth us is inscrutable--
But with the observant eye of duty and admiration.
Your lordship’s liking of the
Sciences and of the plays shows you to be diverse
In your capacity and that you resemble Solomon
In many things, namely, in the gravity of your judgment
And largeness of your heart; in the noble variety of the
Writings which you have read and weighed, and,
Leaving aside the other parts of your virtue
And fortune, we have been touched, yea, and possessed,
With an extreme wonder of those your virtues
And faculties which the philosophers call intellectual;
The largeness of your capacity in extractions
Of another man’s wit and labor; the faithfulness of your
Memory, the swiftness of your apprehensions, the
Penetration, judgment, faculty and order of your mind;
And that, while understanding the contemplations
Of nature and natural philosophy, you have had the
Wit to read all of the plays and works of the author
Of every kind, and with two clear eyes have looked
Deeply and wisely into the shadows and searched
Out and understood the simple rule of question and answer
That we lay down for the successful search after
The great cipher history, and have picked out from the
Whole mass the four co-essentials and conjugate words
That we make the guides for the discovery of these
Stories; and happy is your grace that can, passing from wheel
To wheel, translate the stubbornness of fortune into
So quiet and so sweet a style and find tongues in
Trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones
And good in everything. And we are well assured that
This which we now shall say is no amplification at all,
But a positive and measured truth, which is that your honor
Is of the nature of a king; for he that hath judgment
And doth countenance and prefer learning and
Learned men and books is truly made a king of the
Human race, either through his fortune,
Honour, nature or reputation, and your
Majesty (for so we did conclude with ourselves that
We could refer to your person, for we thought it more
Respective to make choice of some oblation both of
Affection, tribute and duty which we might make unto
Your majesty as in former times kings received
Presents from their servants) standeth invested of that
Triplicity which in great veneration was ascribed
To the ancient Hermes, the power and fortune of a king,
The knowledge and illumination of a priest, and the
Learning and universality of a philosopher.
The more because there is met in you a rare conjunction
As well of divine and sacred literature as of
Profane and human knowledge; and as we with our hands
Turn fortune’s wheel about we see by the characters
Graven in your brows and by your martial face
And stout aspect that you are a valiant man of stature,
Tall and straightly fashioned, and deserve to have the
Leading of an host; and that your forehead bears
Figures of renown and miracles; and your honour and your
Goodness is so evident that your free undertaking
Cannot miss a thriving issue; and we thank the heavens
You are of so sweet a composition, and we praise him
That got you, she that gave you suck; fame be your tutor
And your parts of nature thrice famed beyond.
You are beyond all erudition. Nature and fortune joined
To make you great. Of nature’s gifts you may with lilies
Boast, and with the half blown rose; and may prosperity be
Your page and much honour fall upon you, whose
Wandering feet travel in a strait so narrow where
But one goes abreast, and you have proved yourself to
Be of the nature of the sun, whose clear rays, like
The all-present eye of God, look through the clouds into
The bowels of the earth, turning the darkness into golden
Light; for have you not, sweet sir, found out that we have
Hid our wisdom deep within the books as in a well?
And like Phœbus’ beams, have you not looked within their
Inmost parts and seen that within the thickest cover of that
Shade there is a pleasant arbour made by knitting trees?
And your triumphant name now would we raise ’bove all the
Sons of men. And we would sing unto your immortal praise
Such heavenly hymns as the archangels sing and make
You famous throughout all the world and honouréd far and
Nigh for finding out that herein we imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds to smother up
His beauty from the world, that when he please again to
Be himself, being wanted, he may be more wondered at
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists of vapours
That did seem to strangle him.
All this appeareth
Somewhat servile, but such an inherent and individual
Attribute in you deserveth to be expressed not only in the
Fame and admiration of your time, but also in the history
Of the ages succeeding by some solid work, fixed
Memorial or immortal monument bearing a character or
Signature both of the power of such a king of learning
And the differences, diversity and perfection of such
A king from the great mass of men. And therefore out
Of the respect we bear you and the great dearness
And friendship between us, and as our friendship required,
We have dedicated this series of letters unto you
As a free-will offering, and it seemeth to us we shall
Not be wanting in duty if we tender the works to you as a
Special deed of gift without a fee. The scripture saith
Of the wisest king "that his heart was as the sands
Of the sea," which, though it be one of the largest bodies,
Yet it consisteth of the smallest and finest portions;
And as God seems to have given you a composition
Admirable whereby you are able to compass and comprehend the
Greatest matters, and also to touch upon and apprehend
The least, although it would seem an impossibility
In nature for the same instrument to make itself
Fit for great and small works, a better oblation
Could not have been made or a better man found
To dedicate these various letters unto."
"O, my dear sir, I may not take so much honour to me.
I’ll not deny I have day by day
With diligence and attention read all your books
And sharply looked into the same to see whether
The great number of weak and futile words had not
Some secret meaning. And further I’ll acknowledge
Nature endued me with the power of curious prying
And vigilant search; yet I am but an assistant,
And that is the one part I take upon myself.
The rest is done by you. I will carry out
Your designs; but for myself God forbid that I
Should give out to others the stories as my own.
I do not claim the glory and honour of the work,
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than the revealing
Of the verses of another man as my own.
I will keep and guard them, and doubt not
When they are finished and completed but I will
In the first place give my own part in unraveling them
And then afterwards plainly publish them to the world
As yours. The greatest credit I will take is this:
That I have as far as I was able disentangled
The dialogue according to instructions, giving you
The honour and the name for the ages to come to praise.
In truth I would soon be detected
If I should here feign myself the author.
The style would betray me. I am not a fool."
"My lord, we know that you are complete in feature
And in mind, with all good grace to grace a gentleman;
And we do not doubt that our name and honour
Shall be put forth aright. But for these dignities you will
Be envied and perhaps held in dishonour by common men,
Who will charge you with boasting. Therefore we will spare
For no wit, we warrant you, to set your honour on a plain
So high that as far as Boreas claps his brazen wings,
Or fair Boötes sends his cheerful light, your name
And honour shall be spread; and we hope our rich gift to your
Highness may prove compensation for your services in the
Mean task we have enjoined upon you in the hunt after our
Ciphers. Our heart bleeds to think o’ th teen we have turned
You to; and if we have too austerely punished your grace,
We entreat you to think all your vexations were but trials
Of your love, and that you have stood the test
And shown yourself to be one of the wisest and most learned
Of men; for you have been content to follow
Probable reason without hesitation or reservation
And carried round in a whirl of arguments to search at first
Without any regular system of operation the way
To truth, wandering up hill and down hill in
Promiscuous inquiry till, thrice happy man, truth came
Tumbling into your lap.
"The love we have for your lordship is without end,
For we must needs hold you in great honour,
From whom will come the proof of our mischance,
Together with the admiration of the world. Were our worth
Greater our duty would show greater; but you, the sole
Inheritor of all perfection that a man may owe,
Are held precious in our eyes, and this dedication shall
Be your immortal monument and tell your praise
To all posterity, that they may in wonderment
Admire such world-rare love as this of ours to you
You who have gotten with labour and long toil
At last our glorious brood of learning. We have not gums
And incense to offer to your most noble lordship,
But you shall have honours as your merits be;
And it is fit that all should be attributed and accounted
To you to whom, of all on earth, we are the most bounden for your
Dear friendship; ‘for natural affection soon doth cease,
And quenchéd is with Cupid’s greater flame;
But faithful friendship doth them both surpass
And them with mastering discipline doth tame
Through thoughts aspiring to eternal fame.
For as the soul doth rule the early mass
And all the surface of the body frame,
So love of soul doth love of body pass
No less than gold surmounts the meanest brass.’
What we have done is yours. What we have to do is yours;
And you must not now deny to share the fame and honour
Of this discovery. Let come what come, we give your lordship
All that we possess, whereof this dedication is but a
Beginning; and we wish long life still lengthened
With all happiness to your lordship."
"I thank your honor."
"Yea, we beyond limit of what else i’ th world do love,
Prize, honour you, you that out of all the multitude
Found that we, like the divine nature, took pleasure in
The innocent and kindly sport of children, in playing
At hide-and-seek, and have, at the expense of time
And fortune, applied yourself and discovered the refined
History concealed in these our works. And to enroll your
Memorable name so that it may be remembered of posterity
Is the least service we can do for you; and to
Dedicate the same to any other than your worthy self,
For a monument and honour, would show very little interest
On our side for the man by whom the happy fruits of this
Device have been discovered. Nor, it must be confessed,
Was there a second of time when we ever considered
That the dilligence of the noble man, who found our way of
Mingling this confused matter, and with ingenuity made hunt after
The unity of the matchless and wonderful changes,
Should not share all with us. Receive them, then,
As the tribute that we owe to your honour (if honour it be
At all) for the many favours we have received from
Your grace; and if this dedication please you, my worthy lord,
And if you are pleased with these seeds of most entire
Love and humble affection, that long sithen were deep sowed in our
Breast, for the noble and virtuous gentleman
That will have devoted his lifetime to learning
These infolded ciphers, and which will now,
In the weakness of their first spring, take root,
Bud and bring forth fruits which, though not worthy of yourself,
Yet such as perhaps by good acceptance, may hereafter
Cull out a more meet and memorable evidence of your
Own excellent deserts, we offer them to you to show
Our gratitude of so worthy and honourable a scholar,
And that what delight is in them may ever be your
"I hold me highly honoured of your grace,
But the gross and palpable flattery whereby your honor
Has abased and abused your wits and pains, turning
(As Du Bartus saith) Hecuba into Helena, and
Faustina into Lucretia, has most diminished the price
Of the dedication. You have too much exalted and
Glorified me. I am in no part worthy of the praise
Which it hath pleased your grace to honour me with."
"Sir, we love you more than world can yield y-matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, liberty, beyond
What can be valued rich and rare, no less than life.
We do not flatter, but honour you, and will so do till we die;
For upon you depends not alone the office of distinguishing
The compact and proportions of things, but to bring
Back the reputation of our name and to make publique
The remarkable fate of one who, miserably unfortunate,
Has been kept dancing within little rings like a person bewitched.
Therefore, brave conqueror, (for so you are)
Embrace this fortune and honour patiently, and joinéd with us
Fame, that all hunt after in their lives, shall live
Registered upon our brazen tombs and make us heirs of all
Eternity. Posterity will say we have done aright to
Humbly offer these letters unto you, who have spent
Your hours in hounding nature in her wanderings,
And far behind your worth comes all the praises
That we now bestow. And, sir, as a little
In nature’s book of secrecy can we read, we know you are well
Begot; your days and years but young, but your experience
Old; your head unmellowed, but your judgement ripe; and, in
A word, as you have never been an idle truant omitting
The sweet benefit of time, your genius will cloath your age
With angel-like perfection, and on this account
Your honour and nobility shall be advanced by the dedication,
Which, therefore, we recommend to your honourable protection.
May all good fortune follow its acceptance, for we see
You will follow where we lead, like a stinging bee
In hottest summer’s day led by its leader to the
Flowered fields, and will on the cursed instruments
That screw us from our true place, avenge us and bring them
Into the view of the world as they were. And we repeat
Once more the particular obligation we owe you, for
Your great undertaking precludes any show or taste at all
Of flattery: and though we give you here a third part of our
Life, (for thirty-three years have we gone in travail
Of these the children of our wit) yet we give them unto
Your highness as a free will offering, and we hope your honor
Will believe our care hath been to make the present
Worthy of your grace’s praise, by the perfection of the stories
And histories which we have written and hid in the
Whole of our writings. Great folly were it in us
To comment unto your wisdom, either upon the eloquence
Of the author or the worthiness of the matter itself.
Therefore we leave unto your learned censure both
The one and the other, and as even that which
Has been abstracted from other works is made more
Precious by the dressing of our lines,
So that indeed they are a new work, and as our own
Is totally new in its kind, we hope it is not
Unbeseeming to beg of you to think them worthy
Of your gracious acceptance.
"The next letter that followeth is the description
Of the queen, the general curse and the story of our life,
Which, the instant you begin, will bring forth secret
And original narratives woven into a continuous history,
But separated for the better instruction and light
Of the interpreter by questions.
"And now that like another Æneas you have passed through
The floods, we subscribe our name, and may God
In His infinite mercy and goodness lead your grace
By the hand.
(Signed) FRANCIS BACON.
Description of the Queen, General Curse,
and Sir Francis Bacon’s Life.
Lo! here led by eternal Providence
To succour me from out this cloudy vale,
And having fortune, fate, and heavenly destiny obey’d,
As fortune friends the bold, now will I
Reveal the happy prey to you
Who make great fortune’s wheel turn as you please;
And you, my lord,
By curing of this maiméd empery,
Shall hold the fates bound fast in iron chains
And be the wonder of the world,
And spite of cormorant devouring Time
Shall bate his sythe’s keen edge,
Since fortune gives you opportunity
To gain the title of a conqueror
And triumph over all the world;
And if you will but go with me
Unto the shining bower where Cynthia sits
Like lovely Thetis in a crystal robe,
There within pleasant shady woods,
Where neither storm nor sun’s distemperature
Have power to hurt by cruel heat or cold,
Under the climate of the milder heaven
Where seldom lights Jove’s angry thunderbolt,
Far from disturbance, amid the cypress springs
Where whistling winds make music ’mong the trees,
You shall see a nymph, a queen,
In frame of whose so lovely face
Nature hath showed more skill
Than when she gave eternal chaos form,
Drawing from it the shining lamps of heaven,
In whose high looks is much more majesty
Than in Hector and Achilles,
(The worthiest knights that ever brandish’d swords)
A queen that makes the mighty god of arms her slave
And treadeth fortune underneath her feet;
On whom death and the fatal sisters wait
With naked swords and scarlet liveries;
Before whom mounted on a lion’s back,
Rhamnusia bears a helmet full of blood
And strews the way with brains of slaughtered men;
By whose proud side the ugly furies run
Hark’ning when she shall bid them plague the world.
Upon her wit doth earthly honours wait,
And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown;
She paragons description and wild fame
And excels the quirk of blaz’ning pen;
And in the essential virtue of creation
Doth tire the ingeniuer.
She is a characteristical seal
Stamped in the day and hour of Venus,
Such a one that in spite of nature,
Years, country, credit, everything,
Charms with her beauty, wit and fortune.
In state Queen Juno’s peer.
For power in arms and virtues of the mind,
As fair and lovely as the queen of love;
As chaste as Dian in her chaste desires,
Her kingdom an ancient seat of kings,
A second Troy y-compassed round
With a commodious sea,
And unto her people y-clepp’d Angelli
She giveth laws of justice and of peace.
She giveth arms of happy victory
And flowers to deck her lions
Crowned with gold,
And likes the labours well;
This peerless nymph,
In honour of whose name the muses sing;
In whom do meet so many gifts in one;
This paragon over whose zenith
Clothed in windy air and eagle’s wings
Joined to her feathered breast fame hovereth,
Sounding of her golden trump,
That to the adverse poles of that straight line
Which measureth the glorious frame of heaven,
Her name is spread--
This mighty Queen Elizabeth
Shall your eyes behold!
This beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical,
Ravenous, dove-feathered raven,
Wolfish ravening lamb,
Despiséd substance of divinest brow,
Just opposite to what she justly seemest,
A dim saint and honourable lady-villain,
A whitely wanton with a velvet brow,
Aye, and by heaven, one that will do the deed
Though Argus were her Eunuch and her guard!
O serpent’s heart hid with a flowering face!
O God! did dragon ever keep so fair a cave?
O nature what hadst thou to do in hell
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In mortal Paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing
Such vile matter so fairly bound?
O, that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!
Ah, why hath nature to so hard a heart
Given so goodly gifts of beauty’s grace?
The first time that her I saw
She was a fair young lioness,
White as the native rose before the change.
Upon her head, as fit her fortune best,
She wore a wreath of laurel, gold and palm,
And on her forehead ivory the golden crown.
Upon her naked breast there shin’ed a golden star.
Her robes of purple and of scarlet dye,
Her vail of white, as best befits a maid,
A thousand blushing apparitions started in her face,
A thousand innocent shames in angel whiteness
Bore away those blushes;
And in her eye there did appear a fire
To burn the errors that princes held
Against her maiden truth.
About her danced girls who upon her threw
Sweet flowers and fragrant odours
That afar did smell.
She was of stature tall and graceful shape,
With countenance majestic, but whose pride
Depraves each better part,
And all those other precious ornaments deface.
Her sweet, fair, placid face
Was of such wonderous beauty,
That nature wept thinking she was undone
Because she took more from her than she left.
And when I beheld this beauty’s wonderment,
This rare perfection of nature’s skill,
I honoured and admired the maker’s art.
But when I felt the bitter, baleful eyes
That death-dart out of their shiny beams,
I thought that I a new Pandora saw
Whom all the gods in counsel did agree
Into this sinful world from heaven to send,
That she to men should be a wicked scourge.
For all the virtues of imposing power
That are the work of nature or of art,
Were here advanc’d and set in highest seat,
And so temper’d the features of her face
With light and shade,
That pride and meekness mixed in equal parts.
She was far more beauteous, ’rich’d
With the pride of nature’s excellence,
Than Venus in the brightest of her days.
Her hair did Apollo’s locks surpass.
A hair stands not amiss,
And the costly curious tire carrying a net
(Wherein her curléd locks entangeld gravest men)
Mended in her face what nature missed.
But she to cross nature’s curious workmanship,
Did mingle beauty with infirmity
And pure perfection with impure defeature;
For in her later age pride, like a corn-fed steed,
Her advanc’d, making her subject
To the tyranny of mischances mad
And much misery,
As burning fevers, agues pale and faint,
Life-poisoning pestilence and frenzies wo’d
The marrow-eating sickness whose attaint
Disorder breeds by heating of the blood;
For she to all licentious lust
’Gan to exceed the measure of her mean
And natural first need
Till, like a jade self willed, herself doth tire
By black lust, dishonour, shame and misgoverning,
For she was guilty of perjury and subornation;
Guilty of treason, forgery and shift;
Guilty of incest, that abomination;
Guilty of murder and of theft,
And accessory by inclination
To all sins past and all that are to come,
From the creation to the general doom.
O, mother of my life that brought’st me forth,
Thou nurse infortunate, guilty of all,
Curst mayst thou be for such a cursed son!
Cursed by thy son with every curse thou hast!
Ye elements of whom consist this clay,
This mass of flesh, this cursed crazed corps
Destroy, dissolve, disturb and dissipate
With fire, water, earth and air congealed.
Thou fatal star, what planet ere thou be,
Spit out thy poisons bad and all the ill
That fortune, fate or heaven may bode--"
"What storm is that blows so contrariously?
God in heaven bless me,
You are to blame to rate
This lovely lady so,
In whose bright eyes sits majesty,
Steadfastness and virtue.
Sweet mercy sways her sword,
And in whom it seems
That gentleness of spirit and manners mild
Were planted natural;
To which is added comely guise withal
And gracious speech to steal men’s hearts away.
Worthy next after Cynthia to tread,
As she is next her in nobility.
What have you lost,
That such great and foul defame
Should threat her honour’s wrack,
While fortune for her service and her sake
With golden hands doth strengthen and enrich
The web she weaves for fair Elizabeth?
Long may she live; long may she govern
In peace triumphant, fortunate in wars,
Our field’s chief flower, sweet above compare;
Stain to all nymphs more lovely than a nymph;
More white and red than doves and roses are.
Diana for her dainty life, Susanna being sad,
Sage Saba for her soberness, Martha being glad.
Dame Venus for her hue,
Dame Prudence’ scholar for her wit,
Right heir to Dame Virtue’s grace,
Dame Nature’s pattern true.
Sacred, imperial, holy in her seat,
Shining with wisdom, love and mightiness,
Nature that everything imperfect made,
Fortune that never yet was constant found,
Time that defaceth every golden show
Dare not decay, remove or her impair.
Both nature, time and fortune all agree
To bless and serve her royal majesty.
The wallowing ocean hems her about,
Whose raging floods do swallow up her foes
And on the rocks their ships in pieces split.
If honour be the mark whereat you aim,
Since you could not your royal dame
Defend, why do you her abuse,
And back reproach against long-living land
And make fair reputation but a bawd?
You wrong her honour, wound her princely name.
Have you put on this shape to do her shame?
By heaven and earth and all the powers of both,
A deeper sin than bottomless conceit
Can comprehend in still imagination ’tis to seek
To stain the ocean of her blood.
You are too hot such a lady
So to beat and bruise. I advise you then
Not to wrong this wonder of the highest God
Sith danger, death and hell will follow you,
Aye and them all that seek to danger her."
"Out on her, hilding! God’s bread, it makes me mad!
Is not my dearest brother slaughtered?
And is not my dear lord dead?
O Essex! Essex! Essex! the best friend I had!
O courteous Essex! honest gentleman!
That ever I should live to see thee dead!
Aye me, I tell thee what I saw,
God save the mark!
Here on his manly breast the wound
Where they did living torture my poor brother.
I saw it with mine eyes, a piteous corse,
A bloody, piteous corse, pale, pale as ashes,
All bedaub’d in blood,
His head cut off with a golden ax.
I swounded at the sight.
O this torture should be roared in dismal hell!
And who was’t that killed him
But my mother, great Albion’s queen,
And that damned guilty slave of nature,
Lord Burleigh’s son, the child of hell,
Whose honor, state and seat is due to me.
This man by nature made for murders and for rapes
Envied his honour and prosperity,
And to attain his death
Did his life, goods and fortune spend.
And here on my knee I vow to God above
I’ll never pause again, never stand still
Till either death has closed these eyes of mine
Or fortune given me measure of revenge.
And if you seek and search I will unbolt to you
How this foul murder comes, and you shall see
How the time and place doth make against me
Of this direful murder,
And how I, the most suspected, am able to do least,
For a greater power than I can contradict
Thwarted my intents.
And you shall see I stand here
Both to impeach and purge,
Myself condemned and myself excused.
Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,
Till I can clear these ambiguities
And show their spring, their head, their true descent;
And then I will be general
And lead you even unto death
And bring forth the parties.
Meantime forbear and let mischance be slave to patience.
Come, come away, for there is yet
Much matter to be heard and learned
Of mine own fortunes and my miseries;
For, my lord, I am a man
Whom fortune hath cruelly scratched."
"Wherein have you played the knave with fortune
That she should scratch you?
’T is too late to pare her nails now.
What would you have me do?"
Life every man holds dear,
But the dear man holds honour
Far more precious dear than life.
I prize life as I weigh grief
(Which I would spare).
For honour, ’t is a derivative from me to mine,
And only that I stand for.
Therefore I beg you
Pity my distress and take off my disgrace.
O, if I could
I would make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon your soul within the house
To write loyal cantons of my condemnéd honour,
And to sing them loud
Even in the dead of night,
And hallow my name to the reverbrate hills,
And make the babbling gossips of the air
With full voices cry out my unnatural fortunes.
You should not rest
Between the elements of earth and air,
But you should pity me.
O deadly wound that passeth by mine eye
O fatal poison of my swelling heart!
O fortune constant in inconstancy!
Fight earthquakes in the entrails of the earth,
And eastern whirlwinds in the hellish shades.
Some foul contagion of the infected heaven
Blast all the trees, and in their cursed tops,
Let the dismal night-raven and tragic owl
Breed and become foretellers of my fall,
The fatal ruin of my name and me.
Adders and serpents hiss at my disgrace
And wound the earth with anguish
Of their stings.
And here I conjure you
By all the parts of man
Which honour doth acknowledge,
And that the justice of your heart will thereto add,
Clear my honour by this discovery.
And unto your own conscience I appeal:
Do not consent nor suffer alteration
To be made of this,
For, by my honour, I will utter truth!"
"Since I am charged in honour you shall command me, sir,
And my honour will be hostage of my truth.
If that will not suffice, farewell, my lord.
What is your parentage?"
"Above my fortune and my state as well.
A great king’s daughter
Was the mother to a hopeful prince
For behold me! I am a fellow of the royal bed
And owe a moiety of the throne.
Francis, Prince of Wales?
God bless thee with long life and honour!"
"Prince of Wales, that will I never be, my lord,
For I, the star of Leicester’s loins,
Were not enough to darken and obscure
This James’ glory, fortune and pride.
Mistake me not. Like one infectious
I am bar’d.
Myself on every post proclaimed
A bastard of the queen,
My fortune gone, my good name lost.
Yea, I am shamed, dishonoured, disgraced, degraded,
Stigmatized, arraigned, condemned.
I am a common obloquy.
To-day full of favour, wealth, honour and prosperity,
Aloft in the top of fortune’s wheel;
To-morrow in prison, worse than nothing, a beggar!
Subtlety, conny-catching, knavery,
Chance and fortune carries all before it.
Hated of God, forsaken, miserable, unfortunate,
The devil and the world persecute me.
Yea, I am in the extremity of human adversity;
And as a shadow
Leaves the body when the sun is gone,
Now am I left lost and quite forsaken
Of the world.
I said too much unto a heart of stone,
And laid my honour too uncharry o’ nt.
O fool! to set so rich a mine
On the nice hazard of one doubtful hour,
Hoping thereby honour and wealth to gain.
What need I to have been so forward
With the faint-hearted and degenerate king
In whose cold blood no spark of honour bides?
And here by all the saints in heaven I sweare
That villaine for whom I beare this deep disgrace--
Even for the words that have incensed me so--
With his blood, if fortune speed my will,
Shall buy his crown!
Yet what can I
To put down this subtle Scottish king?
Good fortune hath forsaken me.
I am left to the rage
Of beggary, cold, hunger, thirst, nastiness,
No relief, no comfort, no succour can I get.
All means have I tried, yet find
For the anguish and bitterness of my soul
No living man can express it, but I that endure it.
Distressed, in torture of body and mind--
For worse than death
Is to continue in torment,
Labour, pain, derision and contempt.
I desire death and death I seek,
Yet cannot have it.
Betrayed by fortune and suspicious love,
Threatened with frowning wrath and jealousy,
Surprised with fear of hideous revenge,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deep heaven with my bootless cries,
And wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
I look upon myself and curse my fate.
For why? Vile wretch of all unkind mankind,
To serve the cruellest she alive,
A queen, the common mother of us both,
With the sharpness of my edgéd sting.
Against my brother I have taken arms.
I curse myself that was my brother’s fate.
O sun! come dart thy rays upon my head
That eclipsed from the earth may mine eyes be.
O God! rain showers of vengeance
On my cursed head!
And ride, Nemesis, ride, in thy fiery cart
And sprinkle gore amongst these men of death.
And having bathed thy chariot wheels in blood,
Descend and take to thy tormenting hell
The mangled body of that traitor queen,
She that born nature’s fairest ill,
The woe of man, that first-created curse,
O base female sex sprung from black Ate’s loins!
Proud, disdainful, cruel and unjust,
Whose words are shaded with enchanting wiles,
And worse than Medusa mateth all our minds.
In thy hearts sits shameless treachery,
For hell’s no hell compared with thy hearts,
Born to be plagues to the thoughts of men,
Brought for eternal pestilence to the world
And to dart abroad the thunderbolts of war.
O could my fury paint thy furies forth,
I would leave thee as naked as the vulgar air!"
"O, my dear lord, be pacified,
And this misseeming discord lay aside."
"You shall command me, sir, but not my shame.
The one my duty owes, but my fair name,
Dispight of death that lives upon my grave,
To dark dishonour me you shall not have.
I am disgraced, impeached and baffled here,
Pierced to the soul with slander’s venomous spear,
To which no balm can cure but their heart’s blood
That breathed this poison forth.
For my dear, dear lord,
The purest treasure mortal times afford
Is spotless reputation. That away
Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
A jewel in a ten-times barr’d up chest
Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
Mine honour is my life; both grow in one.
Take honour from me and my life is done.
Therefore would my breath were made
The smoke of hell,
Infected with the sighes of damnéd souls,
Or with the reaking of that serpent’s gorge
That feeds on adders, toads and venomous roots,
That as I ope’d my revenging lips to curse,
My words might cast rank poison to their pores,
And make their swolne and rankling sinews crack
Like to the combat blows that break the clouds,
When Jove’s stout champions fight with fire.
See where he comes that my soul abhors!
O that my bosom could by nature bear
A sea of poison to be poured upon his cursed head!
That sacred balm hath graced and consecrated king,
This forgetful man upon whose head I set the crown,
And for whose sake I wore
The detested blot of murderous subornation--
This proud king who doth answer all the debt
He owes to me even with geering and disdained contempt.
O villain! villain! abhoréd villain!
Unnatural, detested, brutish villain!
May heaven and fortune thee reward with plagues!
Hear ye, O God!
If heaven have any plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish,
O keep it till this thorn and canker
Jame’s sins be ripe;
Then hurl down thy indignation on his head!
O, thou troubler of the poor world’s peace,
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
Thy friends suspect for traitors
Whilst thou livest,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils.
And thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,
Let him by untimely violence
Die in his youth,
Like Henry that was Prince of Wales
O God, for this same buckler Prince of Wales
For whom I underwent such shame,
And who (by murder to make himself heir unto the king)
Poisoned with a pot of ale that sweet lovely rose,
Let him, I pray, be whipt and scourged with rods,
Nettled and stung by wasps and pismires,
And let a world of curses
Beyond the bounds of patience drive him!
May he undergo the same predicament
Which I now range under,
And let not time redeem his banished honours home.
And the Duke of Buckingham,
That vile politician,
Let him by the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within his diseaséd bowels
Be pinched and vexed with colick,
And, like a tench,
Let him be stung with flees
For being the agent or base second means,
The cords, the ladder, or the hangman, rather,
(O pardon if I descend so low)
Of my woeful banishment.
And, O God, let them all die a death so barbarous as to
Infect all the ghosts with cureless grief!
O dreary engines of my loathéd sight
That see my crown, my honour and my name
Thrust under thraldom of a thief,
Why feed ye still on day’s accursed beams
And sink not quite into my tortured soul?
Is there left no God, no friend, no fortune,
Nor no hope of end to our infamous,
Gape, earth, and let the fiends infernal view
A hell as hopeless and as full of fear
As are the blasted banks of Erebus
Where shaking ghosts with ever howling groans
Hover about the ugly ferry-man
To get a passage to Elysium!
Why should I live, O wretch, beggar, slave?
Why live I in this obscure infernal servitude?
O life, more loathesome to my vexéd thoughts
Than noisome par-break of the styge’n snakes
Which fills the nooks of hell with standing air,
Let all the swords and lances in the world
Stick in their breasts as in their proper rooms.
At every pore let blood come dropping forth,
That lingering paines may massacre their hearts
And madness send their damnéd souls to hell,
That all the world may see and laugh to scorn
The former triumphs of their mightiness.
They that now puff’d up with ’sdainful insolence
Despise the brood of blessed sapience,
They, the sons of darkness and of ignorance;
But whom thou, great Jove, by doom unjust
Did to the type of honour erst advance,
May the heavens frown, the earth for anger quake,
And fatal birds about them flock,
Such as by nature men abhor and hate:--
The ill-faced owl, death’s dreadful messenger,
The hoarse night raven, trump of doleful drere;
The leather-winged bat, day’s enemy;
The rueful strich, still waiting on the bier;
The whistler shrill that who-so hears doth die;
The hellish harpies, prophets of sad destiny--
All these, and all that else doth horror breed
Out of the dwellings of the damnéd sprights,
Such as Dame Nature’s self mote fear to see,
Most horrible aspects and ugly shapes,
All dreadful portraits of deformity!
Spring-headed hydras and sea-should’ring whales,
Great whirl pools that with sorrow and sad agony
All fishes make to flee,
Let the famished flesh slide from their bones.
Let prisons swallow ’em,
Debts wither ’em to nothing;
And may the beggar dogs lick
Their false bloods up.
O hear me, God, out of my misery; thou knowest
I show heaven love, duty, zeal,
Therefore I say ----"
"Peace! say no more."
"And leave out of my dread curse the worst?
That rogue that in the world’s eyes as my cousin stands?
If curses can pierce the clouds and enter heaven,
Why then give way to my quick curses, heaven.
God, I beseech Thee,
By some unlookéd accident cut off this dog,
This freckled whelp, hag-born,
Not honoured with a human shape;
This marked, abortive, rooting hog
That wast sealed in his nativity;
This slander of his mother’s heavy womb,
This lothed issue of his father’s loins,
This rag of honour, this detested cat,
This slave, this wretch, this coward,
This little valiant, great in villainy,
This daily break-vow, that
Brakest the pate of faith.
At his nativity the heavens were all on fire,
The earth did tremble and in hell,
Drunk with good fortune,
Satan called the spirits from the vasty deep
And unto all his kingdom did proclaim his birth.
And the infernal deities of Pluto, Proserpine
And the Furies with all the power of Tartarus
Did in blind obedience themselves prostrate
At their superior’s feet, and in the crooked ways
Of sin and death did give all hail to him
And cry him chief!
O thou that art ugly and slanderous,
To thy mother’s womb full of unpleasing blots
And sightless stains, lame, crooked, swart, prodigious,
Patched with foul moles and eye-offending marks,
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray
To have thee suddenly conveyed from hence.
Blush! blush! thou lamp of foul deformity,
Thou wretch, that within thee hast
Such undivulgéd crime unwhipped of justice.
Black night o’er-shade thy day and death thy life,
Thou perjured, savage, evil and unnatural beast!
O, earth, gape open wide and eat him quick,
Or heaven with light’nings strike this murderer dead!
Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray,
That I may live and say the dog is dead.
Thou dreadful motion of a murderous thought,
Hast thou not misled, fooled, discarded and shook off
A prince, a royal prince, a happy gentleman
In blood and lineaments by thee unhappied
And disfigured clean? Hast thou not in manner
With thy sinful hours made a divorce
Betwixt his queen and him, and of a royal bed
Broke the possession and stained the beauty
Of a fair queen’s cheeks with tears
Drawn fro’ her eyes with thy foul wrongs?
(A prince by fortune of his birth,
Near to the queen in blood, and near in love,
Till you did make her misinterpret him)
Whilst thou hast fed upon his signiories,
Disparked his parks and fell’d his forest woods;
From his own windows torn his household coat,
Raz’d out his impress, leaving him no sign
Save men’s opinions and his blood
To show the world he was a gentleman.
And hast thou not, indeed, outright slain
The noble Earl of Essex,
He who was indeed the glass wherein
The noble youth did dress themselves?
He had no legs that practiced not his gait,
And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish,
Became the accent of the valiant;
For those that could speak low and tardily
Would turn their own perfection to abuse
To seem like him,
So that in speech, in gait, in diet,
In affections of delight, in military rules
And humours of the blood, he was the mark
And glass, copy and book
That fashioned others.
O wonderous him! O miracle of men!
His honour (may heavenly glory brighten it)
Stuck upon him as the sun
In the gray vault of heaven,
And by his light did all the chivalry
Of England move to do brave acts--
This sweet and lovely gentleman,
Framed in the prodigality of nature,
So young, valient, wise and right royal
That the spacious world cannot soon afford another like
Him (second to none), him thou
O cursed be the hand that made those holes!
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it!
Cursed the blood that let the blood from hence!
More direful hap betide thee, hated wretch,
That makes me wretched by the death of him,
Than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venomous thing that lives!
If ever thou have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
And that be heir to thy unhappiness.
If ever thou have wife, let her be made
More miserable by the life of thee
Than I am made by the death of him!
Let heaven kiss earth and let not nature’s hand
Keep the wild floods confined!
Let order (like a horse which, full
Of high feeding, hath broke loose and bears
Down all before him) madly riot through the world,
And let the world no longer be a stage
In a lingering act to feed the honours
Of this death-darting cockatrice,
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in our bosoms, that each heart, being set
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end
In this fawning greyhound’s death;
And let the spirits of darkness
Be buriers of the dead!
O let the brightsome heavens be dim
And nature’s beauty choke with clouds;
And in way
He most abhorrest and accountest vile and wretched
Make him die that hast made the happy earth a hell,
And filled it with cursed cries and deep exclaims,
O thou that swayest the region under earth,
And art a king as absolute as Jove,
Come as thou didst in fruitful Sicily,
Surveying all the glories of the land,
And as thou tookst the fair Proserpine
’Joying the fruit of Ceres’ garden plot
For love, for honour, to make her queen,
So for just hate, for shame, and to subdue
This proud contemner of thy dreadful power,
Come once in fury and survey his pride,
Hal’ing him headlong to the lowest hell.
Come from the concave superfices
Of Jove’s vast palace, the empyreal orb.
Suddenly appear between the empyrean
And the globe of earth,
And standing in the middle region of the air
Above the summits of the greater globes,
Like a bullet cast his body
Through the starry tract of heaven
Into the burning sulphur flames
That scorch and feed upon the flesh;
And in the fury of that flame,
That none but Christ can quench,
Burn him a thousand years!
If there be a Christ, as Christians say,
(But in their deeds deny Him for their Christ),
O Thou just and dreadful punisher of sin,
If thou be son to everlasting Jove,
And have the power of his outstretchéd arm--
If you be jealous of your name and honour,
Open thou the shining vale of Cynthia
And make a passage from the empyreal heaven,
That He that sits on high and never sleeps,
Nor in one place is circumscriptable,
But everywhere fills every continent
With strange infusion of His sacred vigour,
May in His endless power and purity
Behold and venge this traitor’s perjury!
Thou Christ that art esteemed Omnipotent,
If Thou wilt prove Thyself a perfect God,
Worthy the worship of all faithful hearts,
Be now revenged upon this traitor’s soul,
And let his barbarous body be a prey to beasts and fowls,
And through the shady leaves of every senseless tree
Let all the winds breathe murmurs and hisses loud.
For his henious crime,
Scald his soul in the Tartarian stream,
And upon the baneful tree of hell
That Zoacum, that fruit of bitterness
That in the midst of fire is ingraffed
With apples like the heads of damnéd fiends,
Let him feed.
Let the devil there in chains
Of quenchless flame
Lead his soul through Orcus’ burning gulf
From pain to pain,
Whose changes shall never end."
"O, by Him whose infant arms
Were moulded in His blessed mother’s womb
To chase the pagans from those holy fields
Over whose acres (when he came to age)
Walked those blessed feet which
Sixteen-hundred years ago were nailed
For our advantage to the bitter cross--
By Him that with patience stooped
Upon the blood cross unto His fortune;
By that head that was impaléd
With a glorious crown of thorns;
By him that enduréd to the bottom,
To the very utmost bound,
The list of all misfortune;
By Him that made the world and saved thy soul,
The Son of God and issue of a maid
Whose heavenly beauty passeth all compare,
Sweet Jesus Christ, I solemnly pray thee be content!
’T is not wisdome thus to second grief
And if thou go on thus thou wilt kill yourself.
O, be composed, my lord; thou hast enough;
Thy fortune still is tolerable.
How many deaf, dumb, halt, lame, blind
Miserable persons could I reckon up
That are poor and withal distressed,
In imprisonment, banishment, galley-slaves
To the mines and quarries
And to gyves in dungeons condemned
To perpetual imprisonment,
Than all whom thou art richer; thou art more happy;
To whom thou art able to give an almes,
A lord in respect, a petty prince.
Then I say
Be content. Mutter and repine no more,
For thou art not poor indeed but in opinion;
And to want nothing is divine.
Thou art here vexéd in this world,
But say to thyself
‘Why art thou troubled, oh, my soul?’
Is not God better to thee
Than all temporalities and momentary pleasures
Of the world?
Be thou pacified,
And though thou be’st now, peradventure,
In extreme want, it may be ’t is for thy further good
To try thy patience, as it did Job’s,
And exercise thee in this life.
Trust in God and rely upon him,
And thou shalt in the end be crowned.
The world hath forsaken thee,
Thy friends and fortunes all are gone;
Yet know this:
The very hairs of thy head are numbered.
Of all thy miseries God is a spectator;
He sees thy woes and wants and wrongs;
’T is His good will and pleasure it should be so,
And better than thou thyself He knows
What is for thy good.
His providence is over all at all times.
He hath set a guard of angels over us
And keeps us as the apple of his eye.
Some doth he exalt, prefer and bless
With worldly riches, honours, offices
As so many glist’ning stars
He makes to shine above the rest.
Some from thieves, incursions, sword, fire
And all violent mischances
Doth he miraculously protect.
Conform thyself then to thy present fortune
And cut thy coat according to thy cloth.
Be contented with thy lost state and calling
And rest well satisfied with
Thy condition in this life;
And as he that is invited to a feast
Eats what is set before him and for no other looks,
Enjoy what thou hast and ask no more of God
Than what He thinks fit upon thee to bestow."
"Sir, in my thoughts shall Christ be honoured,
And to His power (which here appears as full
As rays of Cynthia to the clearest sight)
I have referred the justice of my claim;
Yet I pray you cease your counsel,
Which falls into mine ears as profitless
As water in a sive.
Give not me counsel nor let no comfort
Delight mine ears but such a one
Whose wrongs doth suit with mine.
Bring me a father that so loved his child
As I loved Essex,
Whose joy of her is overwhelmed like mine,
And bid him speak of patience.
Measure his woe the length and breadth of mine
And let it answer every strain for strain,
As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
In every lineament, branch, shape and form.
If such a one will smile and stroke his beard
And wag his head, cry hem! when he should
With sorrow groan, patch grief with proverbs,
Make misfortune drunk with candle-wasters,
Bring him yet to me,
And of him I will gather patience.
But there is no such man; for men
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves do not feel;
But tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion,
Which before would give perceptible medicine
And fetter strong madness with a silken string;
Charm ache with air and agony with words.
No, no, ’tis all men’s office
To speak patience to those
That wring under the load of sorrow;
But no man hath virtue nor sufficiency
To be so moral when he shall endure
The like himself.
Therefore give me no counsel.
My griefs cry louder than advertisement,
Therefore I pray you peace.
I will be flesh and blood.
There was never yet a philosopher
That could endure the tooth ache patiently,
However much they may have writ in stile of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
Have I not stooped my neck under their injuries
And sighed my breath in foreign clouds?
Eating the bitter bread of banishment?
Am I not a very trick
For them to play at will?
By all the gods to the blackest devil,
To the profoundest pit I’ll damn their souls.
And didst you that bid me be content
But know the inly touch of hate
You would as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of hate with words.
By heaven and all the moving orbs thereof;
By this right hand and by my father’s sword,
And all the honours belonging to the crown,
If ever I be England’s king
I will have heads and lives of them as many
As I have manors, castles, towns and towers.
In lakes of gore their headless trunks,
Their bodies, will I trail,
That they may drink their fill and quaff in blood.
And I’ll stain my royal standard with the same,
That so my bloody colours may suggest
Remembrance of revenge immortally
On these accursed traitorous villains
That have slain my father and my brother;
And on the proud disturber of his country’s peace,
Cause of these broils, I’ll be revenged most thoroughly."
"Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself.
Hear me a little. I do not seek to quench
Your hate’s hot fire, but qualify
The fire’s extreme rage,
Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason."
"The more you dam it up the more it burns.
The current that with gentle murmur glides
You know, being stopped, impatiently doth rage.
But when his fair course is not hindered
He curbs himself as fair and evenly
As doth the smug and silver Trent,
Or the gentle Severn,
Who in his sedgy bank doth his crisp head
Turn and wind among the trembling reeds
And makes sweet music with the enameled stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
By many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean;
But dammed up he comes me cranking in
And from side to side cuts from off the land
A huge half moon, a monstrous cantle out,
And gelding the opposéd continents
The river’s current doth run and wind
With deep indent in a new channel.
Then hinder not my course; let me go on,
And in a flood
With such a heady currance scouring faults
Make the period of my curse,
And then I’ll be as patient as a gentle stream,
And with exquisite music
I will unloose the knot.
O! understand my drift. Know you not
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighboured by fruit of baser quality?
So I have
Under the veil of this bitter, frantic curse
My true titles to the crown and seat
Of England, Ireland and France,
Obscured and hid.
So let me speak to th’ yet unknowing world,
And you shall hear
Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgements, casual slaughters,
Of deaths, put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in the up-shot, purposes mistook
Falne on the inventors heads.
How all these things came about
I truly will deliver.
O then, let me speak and rail so high
That the false huswife, fortune, break her wheel,
Provoked at my offence.
Have I not lived, my lord,
Since the queen died, in such dishonour
That the gods detest my baseness?
Had you been by and seen this fellow
Quoted and signed to do a deed of shame,
Witness against me,
Then you would help me curse,
And would not strew sugar on this bunchback’d toad,
That leaves the print of blood where’er he walks--
This bottled spider, whose deadly web
Environs me about--
For he is the ivy which has hid my princely trunk
And suckt my verdure out.
O, I will speak as liberal as the north.
Let heaven and men and devils--
Let them all, all, all cry shame
Against me, yet I’ll speak.
The blood more stirs to rouse a lion
Than to start a hare, and at last ’twill out.
O heaven, O heavenly powers!
O Christ, thou Son of God,
Thou that art the theme of honour’s tongue,
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,
And Thou, O Father of so blest a Son,
I pray thee shore his thread in twain!
Yea, curse his good angel from his side
And let the devil himself
And all the plagues of Egypt
Upon him come at once,
And let damnation be his end.
O blessed, breeding sun, drawn from the earth
Rotten humidity below thy sister orbs.
Infect the air.
Twin brothers of one womb,
Whose procreation, residence and birth
Scarce is divident, touch him with several fortunes,
That all the world may see the nature
Of this blaspheming Italian Jew!"
"You still let slip if you have not done.
Too’t again, I’ll stay thy leisure."
"Nay I am done, in sooth."
"Then I beseech you once more to your task.
Please set a work and show the way
Unto the story of your life."
"My dear sir, at your service; at your best command."
"Who are you? What is your parentage?"
"I am eldest son to the greatest monarch of the land--
The son and heir to Leicester, and son unto the queen."
"What is your name?"
"Are you the bastard son of the queen?"
"No, no; not so!
I did not think you would ask me such a question.
Divorce not wisdom from you.
Mischance hath trod my title down
And with dishonour laid me on the ground,
Where I must take seat unto my fortune
And to my humble seat conform myself.
O, that it could be proved that I am the king!
But I cannot do it because
That bottled spider, that bunchback’d toad
That I did wish you to help me curse,
Untimely smothered my proof.
This sway of motion, this commodity,
This vile drawing bias, this base dwarf,
Was deeply versed in politics and seem’d born
To acquire dominion and rule;
For he of all men had the countenance
Of the queen and received much honour and favour from her.
Nay more, damned by all, this creature
Seem’d to command his royal mistress;
And unless he had done this with ready
And great dexterity he would frequently
Have been involved in imminent danger, if not distruction.
The empire he had over the queen
Continued through the course of her life; and
When I consider the riddle of this monster’s
Dominion over her I must indeed admit
It to be one of the things for which there is no solution,
Being, as he was, rude exteriourly,
His head, by its own weight and heaviness,
Turning his neck over on one side,
And upon it he had a mole, a sanguine star,
That was a mark of wonder.
His limbs were so abortive, defective and loose jointed
That he staggers in his feeble step.
Taking note of his abhorred aspect and beastly,
Prodigious face, women were as afraid of him
As of the devil. And when they talk of him
They shake their heads and whisper one another
In the ear; and she that speaks doth gripe the hearer’s
Wrist; while she that hears makes fearful action,
With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes;
And if they be by chance left alone with him
They shortly weep and howl.
"I saw him once break into a mad passionate speech
And entreat the queen to dismiss them from the court.
But she condoles his mishap and smiling said
They were a company of fools; let them laugh
And be merry; they had rather lose a friend
Than a jest, and what company soever they come in
They will be scoffing, insulting over their inferiors.
God in heaven, man, you have no cause to explain.
They would make me the subject of a calumny.
A scurrilous and bitter jest, a libel,
A pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage play
Or the like, for want of change.
They live here solitary, sequestered from all company
But heart-eating melancholy, and they must
Cruficy some one. Every one of these creatures
Pities you, and if thou didst but hear them play and dance
I know thou wouldst be so well pleased
With the object that thou wouldst dance
Thyself for company. Thou wilt without doubt
Be taken with such companions, and they
Will be especially delighted to let thee
Be in company with them;
And with her ivory hand she wafts to her
A fair maid, the worst one of her merry company
Of women, and the one most adverse to the part,
And addressing her said, ‘This good gentleman
Is not ashamed to confess that he takes infinite delight
In singing, dancing, music, woman’s company
And such like pleasures, therefore,
He wouldst have thee dance.
And fair goddess, fall not deep in love with him.’
"Saith the lady:
‘Does the lamb love the wolf? Give me good excuse, madam,
For I am sick and capable of fears,
A woman naturally born to fears,
And therefore full of fears; and though
Thou now confess that thy highness
Didst but jest with my vexed spirits
I cannot but quake and tremble all this day.
If he were but grim I would not care.
I then would be content, for then I should love him.
But as all may witness, he is fair.’
"Tickled with such good answer, the queen said:
‘He is a happy man; take his arm
And go along with him; enjoy the brightness
Of this clear light and those nimble feet.’
"It is an old saying: a blow with a word
Strikes deeper than a blow with a sword,
And he was more galled with his royal mistresses’ wit
Than he was with his merry companion. He went with the
Poor maid, and buried in silence, stood
Like a blasted tree amongst them;
And they in consternation like bashful,
Solitary, timorous birds, avoided him.
They broke away as if he were a mad dog
Which must by all means be avoided.
’Tis the nature of all men to reflect upon themselves
And their own misfortunes, not to examine
Or consider other men’s;
Not to compare themselves with others; to recount
Their miseries but not their good gifts,
They ruminate on their adversity,
But do not once think on their prosperity.
Every man knows his own, but not others’
Defects and miseries;
And as I before have said in my essay,
Deformed persons are commonly even with nature;
For as nature hath done ill by them,
So do they by nature, being for the most part
(As the scripture saith) void of natural affection,
And so they have their revenge of nature.
Certainly there is a consent between the body
And the mind, yet whosoever hath anything fixed
In his person that doth breed contempt
Hath also a perpetual spur in himself
To rescue and deliver himself from scorn.
Therefore all deformed persons are
Extreme bold, first in their own defence,
As being exposed to scorn but in process of time,
By a general habit also it stirreth
In them industry, and ’specially of the kind
To watch and observe the weakness of others,
That they may have somewhat to repay.
Again in their superiors it quencheth
Jealousies towards them as persons that they think
They may at pleasure despise;
And it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep,
As never believing that they should be
In possibility of advancement till they
See them in possession.
They will, if they be of spirit,
Seek to free themselves from scorn,
Which must either be by virtue or malice.
And they are rather good spials and whisperers
Than good magistrates and officers.
Cecil, who from the hour of his birth
Was weak, sickly and deformed, stood
Like a hapless, wretched, misshaped and sullen knave,
Plunged in melancholy, while his companions
Were busily discoursing about him
Behind his back.
He distasted this kind of company
Out of a sinister suspicion that such
An infinite company of pleasing beauties
Obscured his sickly and unnatural body.
For this reason such a saucy companion
Oppressed him with fear by her wanton
Carriage she might provoke and tempt the
Spectators to laugh.
Every base knave hath a wolf’s nature,
And this foul devil, I promise you,
Was as hard-hearted, unnatural a monster
As the devil and his ministers need to have.
Cunning hath made the devil so sly that he
Devises a way to be revenged upon
The soft, silly maid, and withal at the same time
To be honoured, admired and highly magnified.
To do this the monster of a man
Cheats his fair companion
Into covert rubs of the worth and honour
Of the queen.
The complexion of the maid changed from pale to red
And from scarlet to pale when he
With big, thundering voice cried twice:
‘All this condemns you to the death
To so much dishonour the fair queen.’
As falcon to the lure, flies the queen to him
And ask’d what he had heard.
"‘Madam, this innocent and pure model,
Moved by love for thee, told me
That thou art an arrant whore and that thou
Bore a son to the noble Leicester.
I pray that thou give her chastisement.
Either thou must, or have thy honour
Soiled with the attainder of her slanderous lips.’
"Holy St. Michael, what a change was here!
As a painted tyrant the queen stood
And like a neutral to her will and matter did nothing.
But as you often see against some storm
A silence in the heavens, the wrack stand still,
The bold winds speechless and the orb below
As hushed as death, anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region. So, after a pause,
Upon mine honour you should have heard
The great queen roar against
The fair daughter of Lord Scales.
"‘By Holy God!’ in uncontrollable rage said she,
‘Thou liest, dishonourable, vicious wench!
We were married to him by a friar--
A tried holy man--and if our dear love
Were but the child of state, it should be told
The world should know our love,
Our master and our king of men.
Small glory dost thou win
To frame this public, foul reproach.
Behold the open shame which
Unto us day by day is wrought
By such as hate the honour of our name.
And shalt thou do him shame?
By God, we will cut and mince
The throat that doth call us a common whore!
Like to a Turkish mute
Thou shalt have a tongueless mouth.’
"With shrilling shrieks
The wretched lady turned
And in a twinkling, like the current, flies
In violent swift flight from her fair foe.
After her, in rage and malice,
The great queen chases.
As she doth bound away her sunny locks
Hang o’er her temples like a golden fleece,
And as she flies, inflamed with rage,
Her gown slipped from her,
And in her shift she springs along.
In a circle they take their flight,
And after long pursuit and vain assay,
Whether fear, wicked fortune
Or cruel fate the girl mislead,
By some unfortunate hap or accident
Down did she tumble;
And being a woman, there did lie.
The angered princess as she lies,
Above her lily arms turned her smock,
And in her hair her hands she dived
And hales her up and down
In cruel wrath. She said,
‘I’ll unhair thy head; thou shalt
Be whipt with wire and stewed in brine,
Smarting in lingering pickle.
I’ll spurn thine eyes like balls before me.
I will teach thee to slander me--
Thou hast lived too long.’
"And then from one that before her bends
She draws a knife.
The lady had taken advantage of the time.
And with arms outstretched
Essays to fly, but eclipses crooked against her fight,
And the queen,
Who in her hand the foul knife grasps,
Did jump upon her, and they both
Together fall upon the slippery floor.
Unmoved with her plenteous tears
And prayers, th’ despightful queen
At the maiden’s heart
And snow-white breasts did strike and tilt.
O she did plead and her intreat for mercy, crying
‘O, thou wilt kill me; forgive me;
Kill me not,’ and conjured her
To spare her life. But the cruelty
Of womankind is such the queen her heeded not,
And because of the slippery floor
That would not let her stand,
She presently did sheath her dagger
And stamped upon her breast,
For those milk paps that through
Her windows barme peep at men’s eyes
Are not within the leaf
Of her pity writ."
"O, the vile and wicked lady!"
"At last, when all her speeches
She had spent, nature, in sad despair
Her senses swooned;
And like a wearied lamb she lies panting there.
My boding heart pants, beats and takes no rest,
As with the rest of the royal court
I in painful silence stood,
Tears in mine eyes,
Being grieved that I, a youth,
Must mine eyes abase and be content
To see such wrong.
I swear mine ears ne’er heard such yells,
Nor mine eyes such fury and confusion, horrible!
Thou shouldst have seen the poor maid’s blood
Paint the ground gules, bleeding from the lips.
Through the armor of a Prince Saturnine
The sight would pierce.
My resolution being taken at last,
I ran where hateful death
Put on his ugliest mask
To fright our senses,
And said as I held her arm:
‘Fair queen, I kiss your highness’ hand.
See, see, O see what thou hast done!
Pause in God’s name!
Be not as barbarous as a Roman or a Greek
Good madam, patience.
May not I remove the maiden?’
"The wrath of the enragéd queen
Like an earthquake
Fell upon my head, and my lord,
I’ll tell you what, all my glories
In that one woman I forever lost.
The queen like thunder spoke:
‘How now, thou cold-blooded slave,
Wilt thou forsake thy mother
And chase her honour up and down?
Curst be the time of thy nativity!
I would the milk thy nurse gave thee
When thou suck’st her breast
Had been a little rats-bane.
I am thy mother. Wilt thou stoop now
And this good girl take away from me?’
"I stand aghast and most astonished.
Then she said again:
‘Slave! I am thy mother.
Thou mightest be an emperor but that I will not
Bewray whose son thou art;
Nor though with honourable parts
Thou art adorned, will I make thee great
For fear thyself should prove
My competitor and govern England and me.’
"As she spoke my legs like
Loaden branches bow to the earth,
As willing to leave their burden;
My strength fails and over
On my side I fall.
"Fool! Unnatural, ingrateful boy!
Does it curd thy blood to hear me say
I am thy mother?’
"And into her eyes fierce, scornful,
Nimble lightnings dart
With blinding flame.
O, mother, mother!
At this unnatural scene the heavens
Did ope, and the gods looked down
In her whelming lap misfortune
Waits advantage to entrap
The man most wary; so me,
Weak wretch, unweeting of mishap,
Through occasion she to mischief brought,
That the queen, being moved with rage,
Thus herself bespoke and revealed
Her secret to that devil who,
Wrapped in the silence of his angry soul,
Every word he heard,
And as the queen
Stooped her anointed head
As low as mine and said
‘Thou art my son,’ the fury of his heart
He in his deforméd face portrayed.
O Lord! may the hellish prince,
Grim Pluto with his mace,
Ding down his soul to hell!
He shut his choler up in secret thoughts
And did begin those deep engendered plans
That kindled into flame first at
My honourable brother’s death,
And my banishment from the English throne."
"What happened after the great queen
Did your secret birth declare?"
"Our mortal enemy
(Agreeable to the meanness of his vile, false heart)
Drew near the queen, saying:
‘I am very sorry this mishap has occurred.’
The queen, composing her countenance, said,
‘The matter is at an end,’
Then said he:
‘I will take dishonour upon me,
And so your honour is saved.’
"With that the queen said:
‘Sir, that can I not do with my honour,
And less with yours.’
"Herewith, a little confused, he acts
As if in a study, and presently said:
‘A princess of such great policy,
Profound judgement and reputation
Should not give abroad to the world
Such a fame, for you will be thought
To have brought the lady into the dispute
For the preservation of your own honour,
But if the charge is cast upon me
Of raising up this broil,
The lady will impute it to my rage
And no one will attempt to go higher.’
"‘I tell thee, let me hear no more!
She hath dishonoured me;
And if she hath forgot the honour
And virtue of her sovereign,
I will banish her my company
And give her as a prey to law and shame.
Look thou! these foul offenders
That defile nobility and my honour deface
Shall be punished.’"
"‘But fair queen,’ said he, ‘if you will use
Your scepter not to control but kill,
The world will question
"‘Trouble me no more,’ said the queen.
‘I do repute you every one my foes.
I’ll pardon her, but wench,
Take heed! take heed!
Such as thou die miserably.
We have an ill-divining soul,
And either our eyesight fails, or we, methinks,
See thee now as low
As one dead in the bottom of a tomb.
Thou mumbling fool,
Utter thy gravity o’er a gossip’s bowl,
For here we need it not.
Great God, all our care hath been
To have this secret hid!
And now to have a wretched, puling fool,
A whining mammet in her fortunes tender,
Tell it in company of the whole court!
Thou shalt not house with me.
Dry thine eyes and go; get thee hence!
I will pardon thee, but, my lady wisdom,
We hope thou wilt hold thy tongue
And let good prudence
Smatter with thy gossip. Go; speak not,
Nor answer us not; or by this hand
We will yet teach thy tongue
Proper wisdom. And thou, my son,
Thou foolish child, a pack of blessing
Light upon thy back.
Speak thou not of this
That thou hast heard, but go.
Speak not; begone! I desire thee
To know no more. Look, let thy lips
Rot off e’er thou speak of this.
Get you gone.’
"Stupefied I abruptly rise, turn,
And as my tears made me blind,
With uncertain steps cross the court,
And by means of one of the several posterns
Leave the castle and swiftly toward the city walk;
And as my feet ascend the hill,
Mindless of the way, I thought
I will go to the worthy lady whom
Up to this time I have believed to be my mother,--
Mistress Anne Bacon, the wife
Of that renowned and noble gentleman,
Sir Nicholas Bacon. As I ran I thought
O God, I cannot wish a more noble parentage.
They are nobly allied,
With honourable parts proportioned.
Am I not their son?
They love me dearly and I love her.
She is worthy; her honour is an essence;
She loves me, I am sure.
I’ll tell her of the cruelty of our sovereign queen.
Her delicate tenderness will find itself abused,
By the false woman that governs
This warlike isle. It is preposterous
To lose mine mother with the pretence
Of this queen, this subtle lock and key
Of villainous secrets, her story is so outrageous.
How was I concealed? So kind a father
As I have, whose noble nature
Is so far from doing harm,
Would not hide what I have heard.
No, no; fancy him the just judge,
The greatest of his profession
In the royalty of his nature,
Accessory with her majesty in
Disguising this deed ’gainst nature.
I dare boldly say
Neither he nor she, so rich, so well allied,
Fortunate and happy, concocted
With the queen this dreadful invention
To delude or to dishonour me
I will swiftly hurry home
And address myself to my father or my mother,
And learn my state.
My mind exceeds the compass of my speed
As down the road I breathless fly
To the fair Gothic mansion where
This noble man, day and night,
Composeth himself how to please
His mistress and justly judge
The innocence and guilt of all.
I made entry, bursting headlong
Into the entrance, and found
My mother--as I call her still--going forth.
I said, ‘Madam, I would speak to you
On matter of great moment to both of us;
Therefore I pray you return.’
"‘Son,’ said she, ‘I go but to ride,
And shortly shall be back.
Will it not be time then to tell me?’
"‘Not so, madam;
Your honour and mine is questioned.
I cannot wait. I have vowed to understand
The reference of the queen and clear
Your reputation and my honour at once.’"
"‘Hold, rash intermedling boy!
Follow me to my withdrawing room.’
"And in silence we pass into her ladyship’s study,
Where she turned to me and said:
‘Now, what have you to say to me?
Let me truly hear what scandal
Hath this flame kindled.’
"I drop down upon my knee before her
And, hanging my head, say:
‘Pardon me, madam. To-day the queen told me
She is my mother and not you.’"
"‘What! what’s the matter with
This distempered queen?
Did she say I am not thy mother?’
"‘Fie, sir, fie! thou liest!
Hast thou not misunderstood her words?’
"Into her eyes came the woman’s weapons,
And water drops stain her cheeks as I answer,
‘Indeed, madam, I fear not.’
"‘Thou knowest better;
You think I’ll weep.
I’ll not weep. I have full cause
Of weeping storm and tempest,
But this heart shall break
Into a hundred thousand straws
Or e’er I’ll weep.
O, you young fool! I will go mad.
I will have such revenge on you both
That all the world shall ----!
I will do such things, what they are
Yet I know not, but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!
All the storéd vengeances of heaven
Fall on her ingratefull top!
Strike her bones, you taking air,
With lameness, and infect her beauty!
You fensucked fogs
Drawn by the powerful sun,
Fall and blister her!
Diseased infirmities play with her!
Say ’tis not so.
Make thy peace for moving me to rage.
Her son? Ah, false, deceitful, double-eyed woman,
She respects not her word,
Betraying unto him that
Which upon her sacred honour
She with deep oaths hath sworn to keep.
When she did give him me she swore
Never to reveal it.’
"‘I crave your pardon, madam.
I am come to know the secret of my childhood.
Were you both my mothers?
You do not speak;
Is’t so? Is my honoured name of no note?
Am I a bastard of the queen?
O, the blest gods! O, the shame on’t!
I must die; I cannot bear such dishonour.
I can look no man in the face again.
O God, you look pale!
Do you confess I am not your son?
What do you know? Here on my knee
I charge you as heaven shall work in me
For your avail, tell me truly
Whether, good madam, you are my mother.
Comfort me. Cut not off my good name.
Am I possessed with an adulterous blot?
Is my blood mingled with the crime of lust?
You see me here so full of grief,
Why will you not answer?
Are you deaf and dumb?’
"‘I know not how to make ye suddenly an answer
In such a point of weight so near mine honour.’
"‘Play me not false.
Keep fair league with me.
You are a lady; let me not live disdained, dishonoured.
I cannot tamely bear it.
If it be that you are not my mother,
I had rather have you tell me
Then let me eat my heart out
In bitter grieving.’
"‘You will not relish the truth.’
"‘Then the queen did not lie?
O, unnatural mother,
Thy flesh being strumpeted, I do digest the poison.
I would go to hell could I but in
The world beneath forget this loss of reputation.
O, thou great God!
I do desire Thee, even from a heart
As full of sorrow as the sea of sands,
That Thou by the figures of some hidden art
Transform me from this flesh,
That I may live to look on all their deaths!
O let her die with every joint a wound!
O unhappy son, dishonoured in thy stock,
Let all the sighs I breath for this disgrace
Hang on my hedges like eternal mists,
As mourning garments for their mastered death!
Ope, earth, and take thy miserable son
Into the bowels of thy cursed womb!
Once in a surfeit thou didst spew him forth;
Now for fell hunger suck him in again,
And be his body poison to thy veins.
False boding woman, thou tyrant of the land
Bolstering thy hateful head upon the throne
That God unworthily hath blessed thee with,
O God! lay it as low as hell.
Set thy angry soul upon her wings
And let her fly into the shade of death.
Cloath the sun’s sphere with a triple fire
Sooner than his clear eye
Should suffer stain or be offended
With sight of this detested, hateful, withered hag!’
"‘Stay! have done. End thy frantic curse,
Lest to thy harm thou move God’s patience.
Fool! Fool! Thou whettest a knife
To kill thyself.’
"Ah, who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
To chide my fortune and torment myself?
I’ll join with black despair against my soul
And to myself become an enemy."
"‘I must tell you you do not understand yourself.
What means this scene of rude impatience?
You have breathed against yourself
The compass of your curse.
You may not live your natural age
Because you taint thus the honour
Of your mother with your charm.
But I hope curses never pass beyond
The lips of those that breathe them in the air.’
"‘I will not think but they ascend the sky,
And there awake God’s gentle sleeping peace.’
"‘Fool! Like the fool of Israel, graceless Absalom,
You will be used who by Jove’s just doom
His life closed ’twixt heaven and earth.’
"‘Well, madam, at my death
Let heaven forever weep,
Making huge flood upon the land I leave
To ravish them and all their fairest fruits.
And for my vanquished honour
I will be the hellish instrument of heaven
To chase all mists away.’
"‘Fie, take it not so to heart.
You need not fear dishonour.
Your father is a noble gentleman
Who was properly married by law
To the queen, before you, child,
Were prisoner to her womb.
I have express commandment to lock up
From you the truth;
But I’ll give you access to the midwife
And the doctor who freed and enfranchised you.’
"‘Pray God, you prove it so,
Most honoured madam.
Who is my father?’
"‘A mighty prince of most renownéd race,
High in court of England;
And to gain his grace greatest ones do sue.
Of greatest ones he greatest is
In deed and word,--the noble Earl of Leicester.’
"‘Where was I born?’
"‘In Windsor Castle.
I will tell you the story of your birth.
I know it all, for from our infancy
The queen and I have conversed.
I was made privy to the marriage of your mother,
And when you were born
I secretly conveyed you out of the nuptial room
In a round, painted box,
Carried you to my house
And brought you up as my own.’
"‘Why was I concealed?’
"‘The very force of circumstances
Made it impossible for Queen Elizabeth
To own you as her son.
She could not do it without betraying
The secret of a very terrible crime
Which, led on by the great but licentious Semour,
She committed when a girl.
I will rehearse to you the same.
I tried to prevent the loose encounters
Of this lacivious man with her grace,
But when I did hint to her most mannerly
How unstayed it was for the adulterous admiral
To ascend nightly to her chamber
And lodge with her,
She did strike me and said,
‘Will you then, wench, lesson me?
Knowest y- not his looks are my soul’s food?
He is full of virtue, bounty, worth
And beseeming qualities, and I would be his wife;
But, alas! alas! he is the husband
Of my stepmother, whose unviolated honour,
Wisdom, sober virtues and modesty
Plead on her part for life.
Alack! alack! I have pined for food
So long a time that by longing,
On my brow as on a table,
All my thoughts are visibly charactered
O love! love!
Would that I, like a doting mallard
That claps on her sea wing
And after her love flies,
Could pursue thee
Between the heavens and earth,
Till in our mad flight, out of breath,
Leaving the vasty height, down, down
Through the perfumed air we would sink
Into the wide open sea!
O pity, Venus, the dearth of love
That I stand in need of!’
"‘Some weeks after she said to me,
‘I do conjure thee, Anne, to assist me.
Tell me some means how I may
With my good lord go away,
And all that is mine--
My goods, my lands--will I leave at thy dispose.
Only in lieu therefore dispatch me hence
With my noble lord.
As thou lovest me, promise to save me,
For ’t is a secret must be locked
Within the teeth and lips.
I fear death, for my conceptions womb
Will soon give birth to a little child.
It almost turns my dangerous nature wild
When I dwell upon my fear,
For the law of England doth work
Summary vengeance on the joint partakers
Of this youthful offence,
To have my wrists and shanks fettered
And carried headlong to the magistrate
A prisoner, to have sentence of death passed;
To have my head severed from my body,
To be burned alive, or in some poor upper tower
Locked in and forever incarcerated,
My life prolonged to tell sad stories
Of my own mishaps to the stone walls;
No company to make me forget;
Ghastly pictures of the devils all about me!
Upon mine honour there is no time to be lost.
Tell me what is to be done.
Shall I run away? Come, answer me.
All my sense and reason it doth master.
I must not be mewed up!
For God’s sake let me not die, miserable me.’
"‘As she proceeded she did sigh and weep
And looked steadily and wistfully upon me.
"‘Mighty princess, I know your condition,’ said I.
‘Any searching eye may discover
That you go great with child
And must soon become a mother.’
"‘What shall I do?
It is an unnatural and impious thing
To bar me of liberty and stiffle nature
By severe and inhuman edicts.
The silly wren, the little redbreast,
The titmouse also all have their elections.
They fly away together, whereas
Christian men have by statues bound
Inclination, and thus by ordinances
And laws about their kind
Environ whom they list, and
Have all the fair maids
Cruelly constrained from all right
To take, choose and celebrate Venus’ vigil
As nature doth impress and guide.
Of everything that lives, man, alas! alone,
Against all right of kind
Is debarred without a cause to marry otherwise.
So narrow men bind their women
To some young pittivanted trim-bearded fellow
To be his galley-slave, his willing drudge;
To endure misery so that he can happily
Enjoy his dear wife. They treat them
Worse than dogs or horses.’
"‘Thus in her madness she rails and scoffs
In most violent rage, and, as from a fountain, flowed
Her jealousies, suspicions, fears, griefs and anxieties,
Till remembering, she again said,
What must I do to live.’
"‘Reason counsels one way; your shame, danger and disgrace another.
But I’ll save you.
I have devised a means that you unknown
May, without danger, discharge you of your burthen.
But, to set a gloss on my undertaking
You must be thought sick;
And if it appears not inconvenient to you,
Your grace must stay in bed,
And that your condition
You may the more easily conceal,
Deny yourself to all.’
"‘The princess this bruit gave forth,
And by skillful paints (that she used)
Did colour her face so well
That she did seem to be near death.
The upshot was
That here she liest till at last
The swelling infant, ripe,
Made pale her cheeks,
Chasing the royal blood from forth
Her native residence, and
From the fortress built by nature
With fury sprung selfborn,
And yet unborn.
For like a cunning instrument cased up
And bound in with shame,
This sweet soul in speechless death
Lie’st in bed as in a grave.
I was not skill’d enough
To play the nurse, open the rotten bands
And aid the poor child
From the impervious case
Which keeps it from breathing native breath.
So unhallowed, unmuzzled, it passed in silence
To the fountain of final causes,
The necessity of concealing the body
Of the young child, which,
If our attendants approached,
Could not be hid, was apparent;
Yet no time have I before day blazonest
To dig a grave, and there is no staying here,
For fear some one will discover all.
But, I remembered,
By the wood there is a fish pond,
And from the top of the tower,
Through the very midst of the building,
I bare the poor cold dead baby
To the garden,
Whose western side, circummured with brick,
Is with a vinyard back’d.
To that vinyard is a planchéd gate
That makes his opening by a little door
Which from the garden to the vinyard leads.
Through these I go to the pool
Which candied is with firm, cold ice.
In my arms I clasped the body,
And skip o’er the icie bank
To the middle center, where,
On a bloody pillow which was her bed,
I laid the baby down,
And with my knife strike the thick pane.
’T is sweating labour to cut the cold blanket
When dead darkness hides the eye,
And being unskilled,
The ice melted and broke beneath me,
And down I plunged
Into the cold waters of the fish pool,
That covered my face, mouth and eyes,
And muddied me o’er
With the decayed oak leaves
That had fallen into the carp pool,
And which stuck to me like the black badges
Of the toad and adder blue,
The gilded newt or eyeless worm.
Reaking I come up
And try to clamber out;
But the utmost I could do
Was to hold my own,
For my soft, tender hands,
That know no touch more hard
Than an unstringed viol or a harp,
Are in short time so cold
They ache and prick,
And I, quite o’er figured,
Lift up mine eyes to heaven,
And in the cold waters
That enfeebled me prepared to sink.
In my efforts to redeem myself
I had circled all about the hole,
And enlarged it so that, as I resolved
To no longer hold out
And to give up the fight,
My feet the bottom touched.
The whistling wind,
Blown by a windy tempest,
Did frost my face as I arise and stand
In the water, which to my neck comes up.
The cold kills my eye and heart,
I, with my pygmy arms, shall never have the strength
To heave myself from out the circle
Of this watery tenement,
But bound in with the envious surge
I shall freeze and die;
And at the thought
My inward soul trembles.
What shall I do.’
"Ah, poor, unhappy maid."
"‘I was scant of breath,
But resolved to try and myself uprear,
And from the quicksand up I sprang.
But my hands slip,
And back I fell into the inky blot.
In raising again I happen
In the weeds to light upon a stone,
And by its aid I raise myself
Unto the top, and by the providence of God,
Win the dear, dear land,
The blessed land, and happily
’Scape being drowned.
Then I threw the babe
Into the pool, and by the path,
Again rac’d back to the princess’ bed
In fretting humours and restless mind,
Impatient grows at my long tarrience.
In joy at my return, she with sobs
Hugged me in her arms and said:
‘Where did you conceal the body--
In the earth I hope? Then
Dissolution or notable alteration
Will surpress discovery.’
"‘I plunged it in the water, your highness.’
"Was it thrown into the water
Without any weight?’
"Aye, your highness.’
"‘O God!’ quoth she,
‘Others will know my shame.
It will be espied. Some man
By chance will find it,
And I will be in his power.
Stupid, away in haste
And put it in the earth.’
"‘In despair I visit the black pool again,
But find it not; and back
Unto the princess go.
When I let her know
I could not find the body
She did cry
‘O woe! O fortunes spight!
King Edward will hear
I am a common stale.’
‘Come,’ said I, ‘thou makest conjectural fear.
This is a desperate course we have engaged in.
I think that it will sink
And rest secure from worldly chances and mishaps;
And if thou wish to survive
Thou must go to sleep,
Or suspicion of thy condition will follow.
I will put thy warm shirt on;
Then go to sleep, and thus prevent the slander
Of thy virtue.’
"‘Even then the morning cock crew loud
And at the sound she cried ‘Haste! haste! haste! begin.’
"‘Alas, poor girl, she was too weak
To help me remove her garments
That are spotted with her blood;
But at last ’t is done, and
Sighing sore, she did thank me,
And into a miserable slumber fell.
Then I retire to the end of the chamber.
Here my spirits grow dull
And I beguile the tedious time
With heavy and unequal sleep.
I repose till the ninth hour of the morn,
When I awake to look into the eyes
Of the young king.
In his haughty eye
Thrilling, tempestuous mockeries dart
As he, grave and austere, said:
‘Mistress, what body did you bear forth
From the castle and, ’twixt eleven and twelve
Last night throw into the spring adjoining?’
"‘At first my fright did me deprive of speech,
But my love for the princess
Was stronger than my fear of him;
Yet am I doubtful what to say to him,
Since I knew not what he had heard or seen.
Therefore I begged the matter:
‘Great sir,’ said I, ‘begging your pardon,
What body talk you of?
I know of no such body.’
Have you made such a sinner of your memory
As to credit your own lie?
What is between you two?
Give me up the truth.’
"‘As I do live, my honoured lord, ’tis true.’
"‘Fie! Fie! Here porter, here I say!
Hast thou brought hither the little child?’
"‘Certes sir,’ thus he the prince replied,
And like a snail he, slowly advancing,
Into the hands of the prince
Yielded up the little corpse.
"‘Ha, maid,’ said the king to me,
‘The grave doth deliver up its dead.
Behold, both of you!
Ha! I’ll tell thee what,
Thou ’rt damned as black--nay nothing is so black--
Thou art more deep damned than Prince Lucifer.
There is not so ugly a fiend in hell
As thou shalt be,
If thou hast slain this child.
Upon my soul,
If thou didst but consent
To this most cruel act,
Do but despair, and if thou wantest a cord,
The smallest thread that ever spider twisted from her womb
Will serve to strangle thee.
A rush will be a beam to hang thee on.
Or, wouldst thou drown thyself,
Put but a little water in a spoon,
And it shall be, as all the ocean, enough
To overthrow thy breath.’
"‘Do but hear me, sir,’ I cry.
‘Let hell want pains enough to torture me
If I by act, consent, or sin of thought
Be guilty of the baby’s death.’
"‘I do suspect thee very grievously.
Methinks the sentence of damnation sounds;
But this deadly blot in thee I’ll pardon
If thou wilt deliver the unholy man
That hath my wanton sister
In shameful, cunning lust enchained.’
"‘I lift up my head and said:
‘My honored lord,
Thy sister is so good a lady
No tongue could ever pronounce
Dishonour of her. By my life
She never knew harm-doing.’
"‘Fie upon this compelléd falsehood!
I reckon the casting forth to fish
Her little baby daughter to be none.
A devil would have shed water out of fire e’er don’t.
The heart that could conceive
This pretty blossom’s death
Is a gross false one.
From a beast in a pen take his young ones,
And see what effect it will cause.
Tigers, dragons, wolves and bears
Will by nature’s law slay and eat up the man
That robs them of their young;
But our sister
Is to this law of nature corrupted
By indulgence; and when great minds
Through lust or benumbéd wills
Refuse the moral laws
Of nature and of nation,
And persist in doing wrong,
As it is known she before hath done,
When for some twelve or fourteen moonshines
Our great father, Henry the Eighth,
For her abhominations with a tawney Moor
Turned her off and required her to live in oblivion.
For was she not even then
Given to all fleshly lust,
And so poured forth in sensual delight
That all regard of shame
And meet respect of honour she had put to flight?
And not to live, but lust, was inclined,--
A bawd of eleven years!
There is a law in each well ordered nation
Those disobedient, raging and refracted appetites
To curb; and I propose, if possible, to cure
Her unmeasurable corruption,
Which no compunctious visitings of nature
Seem to shake.
My fell purpose is to this day to cut the branch
That might have grown full straight,
But whose deepness doth entice
Such wits as thine to practice,
More than heaven or power permits;
Therefore (though this child hath no yellow in it)
Thou hast both but one hour to live,
And then thou must
Perpetually be damned;
And her paramour, he that wooed her
Without respect or high regard,
I will crop his head.
He that hath made the court his mart
And turned it into a loathly stew,
He shall expound his beastly mind in hell.’
"‘The princess cast herself upon the ground,
Twin’d her milk-white arms
About his feet and said,
‘O spare me! kill me not!
Make me not the laughing stock
Of the kingdom, I that am the daughter
Of a king and queen!’
"‘Rudely he said, ‘She that bore thee was no queen,
And thou recoil from thy great father’s stock
When thou wallow in all fleshly mire
And hast suffered this man
Thy virtue to deflower. Thou pure impiety
And impious purity, I’ll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall justice hang.
Kneel thou not down to me
Rise, I’ll pardon thee thy life,
But in perpetuity I’ll conceal thee,
As best befits thee,
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all tongues, eyes and minds;
But by the flaming light
Of that celestial fire which kindleth love,
I will advance the partaker
Of thy hateful, wicked love
As high up as a scaffold.’
"‘Up she did spring at this,
Stood at his side and did upbraid him thus:
‘What shall I call thee, brother?
No, a foe! monster of nature!
Shame unto thy stock
That darest presume to gratify thy wrath
By execution of me! Thou weigh this well.
What! wilt thou, that beare
The ballance and the sword,
With boisterous hand dishonour me?
Thou shalt heat my blood no more.
I tell thee I will not stoop mine greatness
Nor my power, whatso’er betide me,
To speak thee fair that offer such dishonour
To my mother.
Go, get thee gone! Have thy desire,
And thou my nearest of male kin
Cry fie upon my grave.
With whom am I accused?
If I be condemned upon surmises
(All proofs sleeping else),
I tell thee it is rigor and not law.
This brat is none of mine;
It is the issue of some rotten callet.’
"‘Look, reprobate!’ quoth the now incenséd king
As he did interrupt her.
‘Behold thy shirt stained
With a cloud of gore.
Besides, I know the name
Of thy worthless concubine.
He hath confessed, and I am resolved
To have his head. Look, here he comes.
He did betray thee to me.’
"‘I cry thee mercy, then, for I did think
That thou hadst called me all these names.’
Said she, as in Sir Thomas Semour came.
"‘He walks like one confounded
I never saw such shame as his.
He sues to Edward to let him breathe
A private man in foreign land,
And prays ‘my lord be good to me!
Your grace is accounted merciful and kind,
Let me live in Athens.’
"‘No sir,’ said the king, ‘I’ll not pardon thee.
Consenting too’t would bark mine honour
And leave my trunk naked.
The discoverie of the dishonour
Of my sister and the corrupt man saved
Would make all men abhor us.
Hope thou not. It is impossible.
Darest thou not die?
Thou shalt have thy trial;
Away with him!’ Then without farewell
Or sign of peace, His Highness did depart
And leave us to our deep despair.
You know this miserable gentleman
Did loose his head and her grace
For two years’ space comes not within the court.
All this time by the king’s command
Unjust divorce was made of us,
And I, the penitent instrument,
Was unto a husband wed.
But death, that sweet king-killer,
By divine will cut off King Edward’s life,
And from his slavery we were free.
But Queen Mary surpass’d him
In rancorous spight and brought
The enemies of England from Spain
To yoke her country’s fame to Rome.
My noble husband with honour fought
The battle of the people against
Rome’s readiest champions
And triumphs over the best champion
That Rome had on English ground;
But he never prospered much in life
Till the fortunate death of Romish Mary
Without an heir
The turn of fortune’s wheel
That first released Elizabeth from prison
(Where her willful sister for a time confined her)
And then brought about her coronation,
Was as unexpected to her grace
As it was to the whole state,
And generally enchanted
The ripened men of experience,
As being proof of the wrath of God
Against the great evil of popery;
For she apparently being so far from England’s throne,
All good men and women of ripe wisdom
Could not marvel enough
At the inscrutable wisdom of Almighty God
In raising her from the life of a subject
To the crown of England,
And thought it a proof that this realm,
Having passed the bitter brunts and blasts
Of Rome’s vengeance, need dread no more
Storms of fortune nor danger from men;
But was now armed against all
Trouble, mischance, adversity and troublesome tides
By her majestie’s happy coming to the throne;
And that she would
Heal the harms and wipe away the woe
Brought on by Rome’s pope,
Who promiseth, if necessary, aid of arms
To Philip, the King of Spain, and husband
Of our late false queen, to link in marriage
Nobles of Spain with the first and highest
Families of the kingdom, and so to
Bring about a Catholic rule.
This traitorous device, had it
Stretched so far as to have been protected
By the law, would have certainly
Re-created the nation’s body;
And the English tongue,
By means of the combination,
Would in time, by the alteration or restraint,
Either have been joined with Spain
To such an extent that books
Would have to have been written in
Characters drawn from the language
Of either nation, to have been read off by
Each nation, or so mixed that
Few of either nation could follow
The motion or sense, or a common
Language wrought that would have
Included both. But God was pleased
To remove Mary without royal issue,
And in a wonderful manner preserved
Elizabeth from death, and did likewise
Reserve her for a great and prosperous fortune.
The great and puissant King of Spain,
Thirsting after the kingdom,
Two days after her coronation
Maketh offer of his hand to the queen;
But she, by a most blessed marriage
With your father, could not
Be the partner of his throne and bed,
And the close intercourse
Between the great English people
And the adventures of Spain therefore
Had to come to an end.
The foreigner’s hopes and expectations were
That the hand offered by King Philip
Would be accepted by the queen,
And that by her marrying him
Their faction, like the cormorant,
Would be crammed with the viands
Of this our English table,
And that they would grow fat
With the hot digestion of our spent fortunes,
For manhood and honour sleep
Under rule of Mary.
And they did with their fathomless greed
Our rightful heritage by spans and inches,
And with their spoils enlarged
The private treasures of their king.
And they thought to spoil us still,
As no care of justice, no rule of reason,
No regard of season, nor no temperance
Did ever enter in the mind
Of Spain’s king or the Pope of Rome,
Whom they all count
Their greatest god and shepherd,
And into whose breast
Never crept thought of honour or brave deed.
Such crafty head as his of Rome
In all the world was not to be found,
Save in that soil
That bred old Nestor, who from the Greeks
Argive Helen did deliver.
From forth us all for years these two men
Our virtues distilléd out
And our shame was dogged
With their strange, wicked followers.
These turbulent, unmanageable,
Bear themselves like masters of mankind
And their pride
Extends itself even to the brutes
Which they command.
And they, as it were,
The breath of the people
Who sprang out of this fruitful soil, despise.
They set before their eyes
The plumes of pride and wings of vanity,
And upon that foundation
As a corner stone build
A whirlwind or tempest of ambition,
And from their god on earth
Which served them well
For the bolstering of their baudy brocage
And corrupt laws; and they try
To set on fire and trouble our state
That they may the better fish
In muddied waters,
And for their own good fortunes
Make good way;
Wherein they did nearly enough succeed,
But by divine ordinance
The life was ended of the author
Of these evil things; and when she was
From the world removed,
The fire, lighted by these servants
Of the wicked spirits of hell,
Was shortly quenchéd by the water
And their friends’ and partizans’ plots
Were shattered all to pieces;
For their opponents and enemies,
With a view boldly to encounter them,
First, after their queen’s death, seized the lands
The traitors were possessed of
And then did quench the wrong-doers
Of the kingdoms by
The law of attainder.
This promptness of our noblemen
Quickly disinherited of their possessions
The ungrateful flock of Rome,
And from them wrested
Each grant which, in the nature of a gift,
Or by frank marriage, had
In this company of scabs, vested.
The base thing of Rome
Upon her grace poured tempestuous rage
And in the hot passion of distempered blood
Did against her bend his holy flail,
And laid on her his evil bull
As a spur to heat her foes
To overthrow her.
But yet she doth survive to wear the diadem,
And God, with the virtue of His beauteous rays,
Doth make this fair land
As fruitful as the fields
That with sweet milk and honey overflowed,
While they have vanished
And accompany the gasping ghosts
Which wander round the Stygian fields.
"‘But night hath crept upon our talk
And we must forbeare.
Child, directly get thee hence to bed.
"The next day as in the library I sat
Meditating on my birth
As told me by the queen,
Robert, that wandering wasp, crept in;
And I soon found he came me
Not to pity, but to misuse and mock.
The horeson rascal bared his top
And lowting low, did thus begin to work me spight:
"‘Ha, my lord,
Now are you equal in rank with the best.
All my services are at your command.
Will it please your lordship
To visit my poor house?
I must confess, sir, I could not trust my ears
When the queen called you her son.
It would have been better for her not
To have published your birth,
Because the birth of a bastard to her is not an honour.
Good Lord! why should she relate such a blot
To her own honour? I must be content to believe
You are her child, chiefly for because
The princess would never have made
So contemptible a relation of her conduct
Had it not been true.
Yet what a May-game hath she made of you!
How perfectly this mystery
Has remained undiscovered,
Appearing now in such a tragical manner.
Alas! she has spoiled her honour.
Nothing can redeem it.
The court will courtesie and say nothing,
But you, my good Prince of Wales,
Shall mourn your own mishap.
I pray you tell me what is your parentage.
Upon mine honour it is not yet known
Who your father is.
There are two opinions about it--
One that you are the bastard son
Of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper;
The other, that you are son and heir
To Leicester. I incline to the latter opinion.
Chiefly from a villainous trick of your eye
And a foolish hanging of your nether lip,
That does warrant me in thinking
You are son to the queen and Leicester.
What is your name,
Francis Bacon, or Francis Dudley?
Come, tell me; are you simply plain sir,
Or my lord? May be you do not know
The kallender of your nativity,
Nor who begot you?’
"As the rascal says this
My heart was ready to crack with impatience
And I turned and answer:
‘Sir, I have e’er now been better known to you,
When, as a little child,
I have beaten you like a dog,
And I advise you
Not to call me bastard
Or play the flowting jack with me;
For though my birth may be mean,
I hope my fortune will be great.
But I care not.
In any case the glory and honour
Of being son to the Queen of England is enough;
For by my mother’s side, at least,
I fetch my life from men
Of royal siege.
I shall promulgate what I am,
For such nativity is a favour of the gods;
While you come from an Italian Jew--
Yea, from the base rank of all dishonesty--
And are ashamed t’ acknowledge
The plainness of your ancestor’s house.
And, good sir, you know me, do you not,
As one who will not allow
Your vicious jealousy to mar his fortune,
Nor allow the sacred honour
Of himself to be questioned
Without full satisfaction?
Let me tell you, then, once more
I will beat your boundless tongue
Into silence, and to pieces
Will I break you, if you say
I am a bastard,
Or try to deprive me of my good name,
Or brand me with baseness;
And though you and your father
Have by fortune and her highness’ favours
Gone lightly o’er low steps
And now are mounted
Where powers are your retainers,
And your words domestics to serve your wills;
And though you have your mouth fill’d up
Before you open it, I care not
And I fear you not, and I will not
Undergo this sneap without reply.
I have not got the strength
To tamely stoop to you,
Whose heart is cram’d with arrogance,
Spleen and pride;
And I tell you, you obscure, lousy Jew,
I am dangerous!
I have perused you well,
And by the great God of Heaven!
I would rather let my head stoop to the block
Than stand your open envy and jealousy.
Suppress your voice
And let not the passion
And the private spight of your base heart
Burst out. Avaunt, you peasant!
You deformed, perfidious slave!
You have ever been
A knave and flatterer, you rogue!
I know you hate me,
You dwarfish pygmy! I will whip
And cudgel you, base rogue!
Shall I receive this villainous wrong from you,
And myself shut up and cloath me
In a forced content, and, in fine,
Quite chap-fallen, let you set the table
On a roar with your gibes, your gambols,
Your flashes of merriment and your jeering
At my expense? Shall I let you depart untouched?
Not I. I tell you I will break your neck
If you mock me; and for I would be loathe to kill you,
I pray you leave me."
"‘By heaven! I mock you not.
This is but in way of truth, sir:
I would have the soil of her fair rape wiped off
In honourable marriage.
What treason were it to the ravished queen,
Disgrace and shame to your great worth,
Now to deliver the world
Her mad, brain-sick story?
I protest if I were you
I would not excite myself thus.
Fie! Sir, fie! Is this the nature
That passion could not shake?
Come, bear your fortune humbly,
Like the bastard that you are,
And come away to your mother.
I was bid to come for you.
’T is three o’clock and your noble mother
Bid me fetch you within a quarter of an hour.
Therefore, follow me to the queen.’
"O, pity, God!
What further woe conspires against me?"
"‘What do you fear? I muse your majesty
Doth not doff your lion’s hide
And hang a calf’s skin on those limbs
Which uphold so much honour.
You fool, to brag and stamp and swear and frown
In vain spite, and faint in unworthy fear
If her Gracious Majesty doth merely call for your attending.
But your Highness shall do well
If you come at once. When kings and queens
Command, I confess I like not to disobey.
So, great Sir, let us go. But tell me first,
Are you not Phæton Merops’ son?
And do you not aspire
To guide the heavenly car,
And with your daring folly burn the world?
Will you reach stars because they shine on you?
Or is it, please your grace, not your fault
That you resign the supreme seat,
The throne majestical, the sceptered office
Of your ancestors, your state of fortune,
Your due of birth and the lineal glory
Of your royal house? You must have patience
And embrace the load. Courage and comfort:
All shall yet go well. Is all things ready
For the royal time? When is the day
Of your royal coronation? Speak.’
"And then the villaine laughed.
"I am bound up with such inflaming wrath
(Whose heat hath this condition;
It fills mine eyes with tears, and stops my tongue)
That I stand as in idle speculation.
"‘Why dost not speak? Well, since you’re tongue tied
And so loath to speak, why, noble lord,
Proclaim your thoughts in dumb significance
To your slave.’
"The manner of the vile outrageous dog
May not be told, nor how
His message he delivered.
I sprang upon him with a great blow
I strike him to the ground.
When he fell I made such havoc
Of the villaine that hath slandered,
Scorned and dishonoured me, that
His wounded eyes from the princess
Could not be hid. It was bad policy to tear him so,
But you know the inwardness of my injuries,
And will not think me altogether wrong.
He deserved punishment.
He was a villainous and secret contriver
Against me almost from the day I was born,
And I was never safe until death returned him to the earth
From whence he came.
After I struck him the beast
Lay like one deceased,
Senseless and still, if any one
Came in and saw the wounds upon him,
And the way his head is rent.
I knew I would not as famous be by the exploit
As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus’ death,
And that I would lose honour,
As, owing to his deformity,
He would be pitied and excused of every hearer.
I preferred, therefore,
No one should find us in quarrel,
And the key I turn, that no one may enter,
And said to him
‘Arise, arise; give me thy hand.
I am sorry I beat thee. Come, shall I raise thee up?’
Warily he watcheth every way to see what else I will do,
And once again I tender him my hand.
Thanks to his strange pride he did fear disgrace,
And grinding and grating his teeth,
The monster upstart and himself rousing up,
The rogue ’twixt each groan said:
‘Damn you! I rather would have lost my life
Than have such base dishonour blur my name;
And if I live, I tell you, knave,
I will be revenged, and England’s ground
Shall not yield you shelter from my wrath.
I’ll not trouble you with words, not I;
But I will requite this dishonour
And be revenged on you. You shall find
That I that am rudely stamped
And want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph--
I that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,--
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them--
I that have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity;
I that came into the world with my legs forward;
I that have neither pity, love nor fear;
I who have often heard my mother say
When that I was born the midwife
Wondered and the women cried
O, Jesu bless us! He is born with teeth!
And so I was; which plainly signified
That I should snarl and bite
And play the dog.
I that since the heavens have shaped
My body so
Will let hell make crooked my mind
To answer it.
I that have the spight of wrekful heaven
Upon me in deadly hate of you, will
Lay plots and inductions dangerous
Against you that do offend me.
I will destroy you, for you are mine enemy.
O that I were a man to fight with
You! But beware! for I will sort a
Pitchy day for you. I will buzz
Abroad such prophesies that Elizabeth
Will be fearful of her life, and then
To purge her fear I’ll be your death.
And for this stroke upon my crest,
And for this blood of mine, I will
Not suffer you to sit in England’s royal
Throne. I do know her spirit; I
Will raze your honour out,
And this feebled hand
Shall make you crouch in litter of stable
Planks, to hug with swine, to seek sweet
Safety out in vaults and prisons.’
"You presumptuous fool, you dare be easier friends
With me than fight with me; and remember, you,
The man that once did sell the lion’s skin while
The beast lived was killed with hunting him.
I am not afraid of your weak and feeble arm.
I know you are subtle, false and treacherous,
And had you been killed when first you
Did breathe ’t would have been better for
The world, and thus I prophesie:
That many a thousand which now
Mistrust no parcell of my fear,
And many an old man’s sigh and many a widow’s,
And many an orphan’s water-standing eye--
Men for their sons, wives for their husbands,
Orphans for their parents’ timeless death,
Shall rue the hour that ever you were born.
The owl shriek’d at your birth, an evil sign.
The night-crow cried, a-boding luckless time.
Dogs howl’d and hideous tempest shook down trees.
The raven rook’d her on the chimnie’s top
And chattering pies in dismal discord sung.
Your mother felt more than a mother’s pain,
And yet brought forth less than a mother’s hope,
Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree.
And as you have said, teeth had you
In your head when you were born,
To signifie you came to bite the world.
And if the rest be true that I have heard,
You came determined to prove a villaine
And to fright the souls of fearful adversaries.
But I will make you take the hatch
And dive like as buckets do in
Think you I will thrill and shake
At your crying, you crow? I gave you
Chastisement for your unheard sauciness
And boyish unadviséd speech; and
Now go hide your carbanado’d face,
And I beseech you let not one single
Word of despight reach her majesty,
Or I will give you repetition of
Like kind. Keep a good tongue in
Your head or I will again beat you,
Like the monster dog that you are.
Mistake me not. If you will curse,
You rogue, be wise and curse the
Hebrew stock that in spight put
Stuff to some she beggar and
Compounded your grandfather.
Hence, begone! but while you live
Keep a good tongue in your head. Repress
The bastard in your conversation.’
"At this the dog like a drunkard
Reels, and from forth the room
He, like a thievish dog, creeps sadly hence.
As he goes out, more sport I made of him.
Alas! too late, I found what it was to
Anger him. I was a fool, an asse, a
Patched fool, to say what I did before
Him; for though nature hath given
Me wit to flout, the goddess Fortune
Hath not made me the recipient
Of her gifts, and this unnatural monster
Cut off her benefits and her gifts.
I had thought to splinter the broken
Joint of my reputation and to hold in
Check my desperate fortune, like
A gypsie or a juggler; but a man that
Will wrangle with inferior things,
Though great ones are his object, hath
Sounded the bottom of his good fortune,
And doth whistle the goddess off
And let her down the wind,
And leaves himself a prey to fortune’s scorn.
She may, in some cases, be a protectress
Of her friends and give them alms;
But I, that am misanthropas and hate
Mankind, fortune hath
Trod upon and hath left me a
Distracted and most wretched
Being, worse than the worst, to wander
In that labyrinth where Minotaurs
And ugly treasons lurk.
Thus many years now I have spent, and
Worn in basest Fortune’s scorn, and
Mean regardance, doing my
Country service as I might,
No less, I dare say, than the proudest wight.
And still hope to be upvanced
For my good parts; but still it hath
Mischanced, that as I look,
I see base souls lifted higher,
And therefore, no longer hope have I.
I would not be slack to play my part
In fortune’s pageant,
But froward fortune still doth follow me,
And this false fox most kindly play’d
His part, and with the spight of fortune
Made me beg;
For whatsoever art or
Mother-wit could work, he put
In proof. No sly practice, no
Cunning policy, no counterpoint,
No reach, no breach that might
Bring him profit and my heart
Sorrow, but he sounded,
For his purpose was to pluck me down;
And as he could not pay me in fight
He swallowed his dishonour.
And by pretending the wounds I made upon him
In my assault came from a fall from his horse,
He was enabled by not venting his anger in words
To steep his iron arrow in my heart.
I despised him so much that most
Cruelly was I hurt by his false hand
And borrowed face, before I knew
The devil’s envy and malice, and ere I was
Aware, I was in the cursed cobweb
Which this shame of nature built
For my overthrow; for like the spider he
Ever lurking closely lay in wait
How he in any way might into his trap betray me.
It never crossed my mind that my mother, the queen,
Would join with such a degenerate being
To foil her own child, otherwise he could
Have been circumvented.
It cannot be denied but that Robert was a
Consumate master of simulation and dissimulation
And made up entirely of arts, tricks and subtilties,
Insomuch that nothing was left to nature
Except what art had approved, transformed
And made up; and there appears nothing
Of artifice, nothing of dissimulation in his false
Profession of nobility which he did mutter to
Himself and to the false woman, my mother,
The great princess, who, with shifting change, wrought
Me, by his help, fell disgrace,
And with her own hand
From the book of honour quite razed out
My proud titles
And freely bars my title to the throne.
He overruled and overswayed her with
Secret art, leading her prisoner in a chain
That was as strong as tempered steel.
She obeyed his stronger strength, and
when he laughed, she laughed.
And so he had undone me e’er I knew
Him or his unmatched devices.
I know if I had chosen to deal less
Sincerely with the queen, I might easily
Have corrected and mended the
Mistakes which did proceed from him,
For in her angry mind, through his monstrous fictions,
She did take conceit that when I come
And set me down to rest
My chair presents a throne of majesty;
And when I set my bonnet on my head
I fit my forehead for a crown;
And when I take my truncheon in my fist
That a scepter then comes tumbling in my thoughts;
And that my dreams are princely,
All of diadems, mighty, excellent and glorious.
By hook or crook I must and will have
Sweet revenge on both.
Let fortune throw her favours where she list,
I shall not wear the crown,
But by the grace of God, methinks
My glorious genius shall, (e’er I die and fade by nature’s
Changing course) make me
Co-equal with the princess of the blood;
Or at the least
I will by brain and heart my wretched name
Pluck from hard oblivion, and will chide
The guilty goddess, Fortune, till I have raised
My frowning fortunes by my own strong arms
And myself have firmly fixed
Where wicked enmity, ruthless fate
And thwarting strife cannot heave me out.
My will is with resolution back’d,
And I will wipe this slavish birth-hour’s blot
From off my name, and after all these sorrows
Place myself above the reproach of
Pride and cruelness. God knows
What more hard task heaven will cast upon my head!
But though my project may deceive me,
My intents are fixed, and I’ll with rough,
Unable pen, shew this prodigious story of my
Father and my mother."
"There’s little can be said in ’t to your honour.
’T is against the rule of nature
To accuse your mother’s virginity.
You should be buried out of all
Sanctified limits as a desperate
Offender against nature.
What boots it to weep, my lord,
When all is chanced?
Th’ eternal Maker had need of you
In the world his continual course to keep,
And thy irrevocable destiny cannot be weft,
For God’s dear love is not so wilful bent.
The poisoned fountain clears itself again;
And why cannot you from this compelléd stain?
Steep not your heart in such dew of lamentation,
But kneel with me and bear your part.
If your faith was placed
Without remove upon the cross
Your misfortune would be forgot.
In what a lamentable case were you
If nature had not given you wisdom’s lore.
Do honour, therefore, to the memory of God.
Call upon Him
That by His celestial strength doth rule
The peasant and the prince.
In vain he seeketh others to surpress
Who hath not learned himself first to subdue.
What glory is there in a throne
Compared to content?"
"Well said, my lord;
I am well instructed.
Grant me, then, ah! dearest God,
That I be not defoul’d when I am dead.
I that am born son of a great queen,
I entreat Thee
Put away proud look and usage stern
And flame forth
Fame and honour in my breast,
And take the blot and blemish
Off my name.
Justify my force of mind and genius,
That men may see
The wicked measure of the minds
My fair, glorious and happy fortune
To obscure, foul, defiléd shame;
And I beseech Thee, God,
To fight this deforméd devil,
That he with odds
Of so unequal match opprest
Shall curse the day that he
By secret cunning
Crossed my glory from Thy volume’s leaves. Amen!
And since you spoke of content,
I have been studying how to compare
This soul-prison where I live unto the world;
And for, because the world is populous,
And here is not a creature but myself,
I cannot do it; yet I’ll hammer ’t out.
My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,
My soul the father, and these two beget
A generation of still breeding thoughts,
And with these same thoughts people this little world
In counterfeit humours like the people of this world;
For no thought is contented. The better sort
As thoughts of things divine are intermixt
With scruples and do set the faith itself
Against the faith, as thus
Come little ones: and then again
It is as hard to come as for a camel
To thread the postern of a needle’s eye.
Thoughts, tending to ambition, they do plot
Unlikely wonders how these vain, weak nailes
May teare a passage through the flinty ribbes
Of this hard world, my rugged prison walls;
And for they cannot, die, in their own pride.
Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
That they are not the first of Fortune’s slaves,
Nor shall not be the last, like silly beggars
Who, sitting in the stocks, refuge their shame
That many have, and others must sit there;
And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
Of such as have before indured the like.
Thus play I in one prison many people,
And none contented. Sometimes am I king.
Then treason makes me wish myself a beggar;
And so I am. Then crushing penurie
Persuades me I was better when a king.
Then am I king’d again, and by and by
Think that I am unking’d again by James,
And straight am nothing. But whate’er I am
Nor I, nor any man, that but man is,
With nothing shall be pleased till he be eased
With being nothing. But methinks
In your face I see that this tarrying
O’er such babbling prattle to you
Is very tedious; and no doubt,
My honoured friend, you will say
I am a want-wit and something to wildly speak;
So let me go on and tell my story.
But by two-headed Janus,
Had you the cue to passion that I have
You would not laugh and leap
And say that you were merry.
Think but upon my griefs.
Did they not sometimes cry ‘All hail!’ to me?
So Judas did to Christ. But he in twelve
Found truth in all but one. I, in twelve thousand, none
When the nobles and princes me deposed.
God save the king! Will no man say amen?
God save the king! Although I be not he,
And yet amen if heaven do think him me."
"Believe me, sir, I should questionless be sad
And I might pray to the Divine Judge
For his destruction. But pardon me,
Say where, when and how wert thou deposed.
Why dost thou say the English peers
Did hail thee royal prince?"
"You are a noble gentleman.
The rehearsal of the queen’s death
Must be told before I answer you.
I know very well I will be like to procure
Blame and censure from the world for
Bringing it in at this point of the history;
But I have chosen this as the fittest
Place and time to bring upon the stage
Her strange and tragic death,
Since the disproportioned son of hell
That plucked down my honour, ’tis reported,
Deprived her of life and stopped her breath."
"I never may believe these antic fables,
Nor these fairy toyes. I think th’ art mad,
Or mean to drive me mad.
God shield you mean it not; it cannot be.
You hate the man, and will but have
Foolish and childish revenge on him.
You go too far if you tell less than the truth,
And a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green,
Which otherwise would heal and do well.
And as revenge is a kind of wild justice,
The more any man’s nature runs to it
The more ought the law to weed it out;
For as for the first wrong it doth but offend the law,
But the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office.
And Solomon, I am sure, saith
‘It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.’
That which is past and gone is irrevocable,
And wise men have enough to do
With things present and to come
Without seeking revenge for injury or insolence.
And surely they that labour in past matters
Do but trifle with themselves. Continuing the same
They are no longer fit men to believe.
They do not discover when things have a period,
But make a perpetual bias of their wits
And turn and change their course according
To their conceits. But by exposition of their
Slender matter, they foil themselves
And win little commendation from men.
If a man takes so much delight in revenge
As you seem to do cherishing this man’s
Weakness, defects, disgraces, and in hot pursuit
Taxing him with murder, you will find stern readers
And suspicious followers.
The spirit of Job was in better tune.
‘Shall we’ (saith he) ‘take good at God’s hands
And not be content to take evil also?’
And vindictive persons live the life of witches
Who, as they are mischievous,
So end they infortunate; and yet those
That are conversant with poets know imagination
(Which is the shop wherein all their actions are forged)
Oftentimes doth alter the best poet’s virtues,
And that they attain to great vanity
By exclusion of the blessed truth.
They write in perpetual allegory,
And imperfectly shadow forth the deepest things
In their poems, and seek to frame
The fruition of their thoughts in rhyming measures,
And do wax, according to their nature,
Stiff, conceited or opinionated;
And to make an act of tragic violence
Out of comely they colour truth;
And as a mixture of a lie
Doth ever add pleasure in the masks and triumphs of the world,
Doth any man doubt but that all poets
Take advantage of the truth and labour
(Through corrupt but natural lies)
For the vain opinions, flattering hopes
And false valuations of men’s minds?
They often feel a world of restless cares
And their imagination breaks seasons
And reposing hours, makes the night morning
And the noon-tide night. And this
Most foul, strange and unnatural
Story has nothing more than your
Word to endow it with truth.
This same truth is naked, and in open daylight
Doth not show half so stately and daintily
As by candlelight; and though truth
May perhaps come to the price of a pearl
That sheweth best by day,
To the price of a diamond or carbunkle it will not rise
That sheweth best in varied lights.
The mixture of falsehood for revenge
Is like alloy in coin of gold or silver,
Which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.
The winding and crooked courses that sweep to revenge
Are the goings of the serpent, which goeth
Basely upon the belly and not upon the feet.
There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame
As to be found false and perfidious;
And therefore Mountigny saith pretily:
When he enquired the reason why the word of the lie
Should be such a disgrace
And such an odious charge, said he:
‘If it be well weighed to say that a man lieth,
Is as much as to say as that he is brave
Towards God and a coward towards man.’
For a lie faces God and shrinks from man.
And, my lord, one of the fathers in great severity
Called poesie ‘vinum dæmonum’ because
It filleth the imagination; and yet it is but
The shadow of a lie, and since it is not
The lie that passeth through the mind,
But the lie that sinketh in that doth the hurt,
Beware of being carried by an excess of
Envy or spirit of revenge beyond the point of reason;
For revenge is a two-edgéd sword that cuts
It master’s hand. I know poets,
Lovers and madmen have such
Seething brains, such shaping phantasies,
That they apprehend more than cool reason
Ever apprehends; but, my lord,
Weigh what loss your honour may sustain
If with too credit ear I list your tale.
Tie your tongue therefore to truth
And go not about to tell me what
You have suspected. If it be you have found a goodly clue,
Why disclose it to the world;
But if it is but the proclamation of your passions,
Speak it not, for I confess the state of your passions
Has appeached your truth."
"Sir, you do advise me even as mine
Own course hath set down.
I’ll give no blemish to mine honour that
I can help, and I have, my lord,
No need of spur to prick the sides of my intent,
As I was her kinsman, and her subject.
I know the lunatick, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vastie hell can hold.
That is the madman.
The lover, all as frantic, sees Helen’s
Beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye in fine frenzy rolling
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth the form of things
Unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes
And gives to airy nothings a local habitation
And a name.
Such trick hath strong imagination that
If it would apprehend some joy
It comprehends some bringer of that joy.
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easie is a bush supposed a bear.
True is it also that all sense is gross,
And that the human mind is prone
To errors, and when it takes note
Of trivial things doth dearly love
To crack the wind of some poor phrase,
And as the mind receives impressions through
The many colored iris that rounds the eye,
As an uneven mirror it distorts
The rays of objects according to its own thoughts,
With the things unseen, that the sense
Cannot be trusted to report them truly.
But I contrive that the office of the sense
Shall be only to judge of the history,
And that the history itself shall judge of the truth;
And thus I conceive
That I perform the office of a true priest of the sense.
I will not give a malignant nor
Imaginative history, as I care more
For the truth than for revenge.
’Tis a fault to heaven, a fault against the dead,
A fault to reason, to nature, if ’t is writ down untrue.
Therefore, I mean only to write a true history
Of this most foul murder of the queen,
Her nature, natural passions, and
Death scene, so far as I have been able
To discover it, or them.
I have besides thought it my duty to
Keep myself under constraint
And go to facts themselves for everything
Which pertains to the matter,
So far as the case will admit.
I utterly reject and condemn
The things that one friend has from
Another heard, because particular history
Must be not table-talk, but trustworthy
And certain; and as narratives by
Succession of relation are by the
Deviations of memory entirely changed
And turned into fable, I do not give
Much weight to those things
Which I have not actually perceived
Or heard from the actors.
I have lived at court since I was a child;
Consequently, in my opinion, I must needs be
A perfect interpreter of the government
And policy of the court.
But time is flying--
Time which cannot be retrieved--
And I must again begin.
"One of the queen’s fair ladies divulged
To me the mystery of her death and the
Dirty part played by this accursed deformed devil
In her assassination.
Cecil was a most skilfull carpenter
Of his own fortune, and as he raised
The structure by means of natural falseness,
And strengthened it with safeguards
Of simulation, he prospered in everything
He undertook and did overbear
The reason of the queen, who
In dissimulation was no match for him.
The great advantages of simulation are three:
First, to lay asleep opposition and surprise;
For where a man’s intentions are published,
It is an alarm to call up all that are against him.
The second is, to reserve to a man’s self a fair retreat;
By a manifest declaration he must go through or take a fall.
For to him that opens himself men will hardly
Show themselves adverse, but will (fair) let him
Go on and turn their freedom of speech to
Freedom of thought. And he, Robert, by his silence
As by his speech (swaying the balance on
Either side) spread abroad the opinion that
He was a man of good faith and clearness of dealing.
He had also the boldness which a man
Assuredly needs to disguise his dissimulation,
And as he saw that there is in human nature generally
More of the fool than of the wise,
He never shewed any bashfulness
Except when he assumed it on purpose
To preserve himself from the nobles and
Great persons who wished to impeach him.
This boldness was so fashioned as neither
To bring him into suspicion nor to make
Him intollerable. He had by nature
The disposition of the Spaniard, which
Maketh him practice dissimulation by way of
Discovery. That is, he would (as their good
Shrewd proverb hath it) ‘tell a lie and find a truth,
From which he derived a double advantage:--
First, that he was thought less politic than he was, and
Secondly, it perplexeth them that co-operate with him.
His aim both by nature and principle was
To be eminent among great men and to
Command among followers. He chose therefore
For his friends men that were mountebanks
And of mean condition, but industrious and active,
To whom he might be all in all.
Herein he did differ from his wise father,
The Lord Treasurer Burleigh, who
Was not over hasty in using ill-natured
And ill-taught men, and who in whatever state
He had been born would have made himself a fortune.
But Robert was superficial
And had the virtue of a player that doth
Fascinate and bind hand and foot those
That are either shallow in judgement
Or weak in courage (which are the greater part)
Rather than the noble parts of mind
That prevaileth with wise men.
Men of this order, though keen in style,
Are poor in judgement and partial in feeling,
And are no faithful witnesses as to the real
Passage of business; nevertheless
He one way or another waxed great in
Authority and wealth, and was
Trusted in rare matters wherein
He had neither the power nor the dignity
To uphold the honour, fame and reputation
Of the realm, when those more able ministers
And great officers, who had before
Handled the helm of government
And were acquainted with the
Difficulties and mysteries of
State business were set aside.
When danger pressed him he devised sports
(As hunting, hawking, races and the like)
For the queen, and openly made love to her.
She allowed herself to be wooed and courted by him,
And it was noted that she even liked it and
Continued it beyond the natural age for
Such vanities. He had the license of a jester,
Came to her in private, and from the beginning
Pleased her by the praises which he did
Aptly insinuate in his conversation,
Rather than by the excellency of his observances.
She was disposed to admiration
And excess of praise, and was not a little moved,
According to my most humble judgement,
By any one that managed to praise her
Virtue, justice and masculine life.
She was spoiled by power and long reigning,
For, for forty-four years she reigned; and
Though she was not as princes brought up
In the reigning house commonly are spoiled by
The indulgence and licenses of her
Education and the assured expectation
Of succeeding to the throne, yet
Such long continuance of control of affairs
And the handling of the reigns of government
(She being but twenty-five years old,
The age at which guardianship ceases,
When she began to reign, and
Continued reigning till her seventieth year)
Made her arrogant and impatient
Of obeying the wise men of the nation.
She could not live without some note
Being taken of her excellency and felicity
Among men, and as she never experienced
Either the disadvantages and subjection
To other men’s wills incident to a ward,
Nor the inconveniences of a lingering
And impotent old age, she thought
She could not outlive her felicity.
She was not in her nature moderate
Either in disposition or virtue.
She passed her life in pleasures,
Of another kind of no very high order,
Admiration of her own prudence
And good management, which detracted
From her fame and majesty and
Sensibly weakened her power and
Hindered her business. Worship of her
Virtue, wisdom and person was so
Agreeable to her that those who attended her
Found it was the best possible way
To enter into her good graces; for she loved
Admiration above safety, and not unfrequently
Allowed it to interfere with the public fortune,
And so blunted the law’s edge to maintain
Those toyes who admired her person,
Her foresight, clemency and all that belonged to herself,
That there was daily execution of prisoners,
Who were without the least scruple
Capitally punished whenever the least occasion
Presented for the exercise of her power.
Men were through the cowardly craft
Of those in favor made captive,
And from fear of the law no man
Did question or give opinion touching the same,
Or presume to think that they that
Died by law could have been butchered wrongfully.
They that thought the contrary (as no
Doubt some persons did) uttered it not.
All men’s mouths were closed by their own danger,
And the deepest and most prudent subjects of the land
Passed over the shame and dishonour
Of her moral vices in silence, and
Set it down as a maxim not to tell another of their thoughts
Touching the princess or her moral character.
She wished to appear as if she hated
The appearance even of inconstancy and
Amourous admiration, and I remember
A circumstance in point. Having ordered
A letter to be written by her ambassador
Concerning a message which was to be given
Separately to the queen mother of the Valois,
And finding that her secretary had
Inserted a clause directing the ambassador
To say to the queen mother, by way of compliment,
That they were two queens from whom,
Though women, no less was expected in
Administration of affairs and in the virtue
And arts of government than from the
Greatest men--She would not
Endure the comparison, but
Ordered it to be struck out, saying
That the arts and principles which she
Employed in governing were of a far
Other sort than those of the queen mother,
Who allowed lewdness and dishonour
In her court and institutions,
To the great dishonour of christendom.
She was perhaps the most singular being
That till this day this island did produce,
As there was in her such a variation of nature.
She was not only wise in the laws of the country
And of a high spirit in the business of the crown,
But was besides both little and mean,
Insomuch that she commonly restrained
The course and proceedings of her ministers
And servants, for fear they would
Over-top and overshadow her;
And to the last day of her life
Ascribeth all successes to her own
Particular drifts and reaches,
And all accidents to their errors
And sleepings; and would flame and blaze
Upon the least opposition, for which
Cause the wise men of the empire
Either did not give counsel in matters of state,
Or else gave it with great sluggishness
And backwardness, framing their speech
In so intangible a manner that it appears not
Plainly by their remarks what kind of
Principles they at first advance.
By degrees they open the matter with
Commonplace observations and commemorations
Of virtue unworthy of a princess.
One shows a tender respect for her name and honour,
And bestows upon her admiration and
Respect of her abilities and virtues.
Another will remark that he has the
Greatest solicitude to please her and
‘Most fortunate and fair queen, on whose head
Wisdom hath laid her crown and in whose hands
Justice hath left her ballance and her sword,
Vouchsafe to hear and judge a country controversy;
For there is as great equity in defending of
Poor men’s onions as of rich men’s lands;
And as you are she of whom Sybilla spake,
The miracle of time and nature’s glory,
Vouchsafe to pity this ’plaint of your poor beadsman.
And I boast of the fortune that most
Luckily assigned me, the meanest of your
Assembled family, to defend this humble man.
Seeing that your majesty hath that that
Baser souls, not knowing, cannot affect--
Sage, grave and wise counsel and
Complete felicity,--and here of this felicity
I propose to say something without
Wandering into praises of so rare a queen.
For praise is the tribute of men;
Felicity the gift of God; but in order
To give the peculiar beauty and appropriate
Lustre of your highness, I should be such
A perfect orator or pleader as Cicero,
And not a prince or courtier; for if I
Should enter into your praises, whether
Moral or political, I should fall into
Subjects requiring a richer vein of wit than
I have. Thus much I have said in few words
According to my ability; but the truth is
That the only true commander of this lady
Is time, which, so long a course
As it has run, has produced nothing
In this sex like her for the administration
Either of civil affairs or in the perfection
Of the mould nature hath used in
Putting together the rarest thing of all.
For if viewed indulgently her beauty
Is much like the accounts we find
In romances of the queen in the
Blessed Isles. The government of a woman
Has been a rare thing at all times,
Felicity in such government a rarer thing;
Yet this queen, because of her salutary
Counsels, is strong and fresh both
In the mouths and minds of men.
There are some times so barbarous and ignorant
That it is as easy a matter to govern men
As to drive a flock of sheep;
But the lot of this queen has fallen
Upon times highly instructed and cultivated,
In which it is not possible to be eminent
And excellent without the greatest gifts of mind
And a singular composition of virtue.
Nor must it be forgotten withal
What kind of people she hath been
Called to rule over. Had she
Reigned over Palmyrenes or in an
Unwarlike and effeminate country,
Like Asia, the wonder would be less;
But the reputation of England for arms
And military powers being great,
The honour of keeping both our
Nation in full vigor of its
Warlike virtues and its fame
And honour in full, is the best instance
That this tabernacle of virtuous dignity
Was by God destined from birth for a kingdom.
Again the reigns of women are
Commonly obscured by marriage,
Their praises and actions passing to the
Credit of their husbands,--whereas those
That continue unmarried have their glory entire
And proper to themselves. In her case
This is especially so, inasmuch as
She has no help to lean upon in
Her government except such as
She herself has provided;--
No own brother, no uncle, no kinsman
Of the royal family, to share her cares
And support her authority. But
I must not run into the history
Of her life, but conclude my task.
"‘This poor man came to me full sore
Distressed through the grudge of
The youngest son of the honourable old man
(Whom God bless with as many years and
Virtues as there be of him conceived
Hopes and wishes) who lives
Some four miles hence well
Worthy of so honourable a place.
This young loach spares not the garden
Of this poor man, but on the contrary
With his beautiful violets and primroses
(Whose beauty shineth as the morning clear)
Hath made free, and from the
Very sowing of the seeds he doth
Devise calamity for this poor mole-catcher.
I told him our princely sovereign was well
Lettered and discreet, and that by fate’s
And fortune’s good aspect, she (in these
Unhappy times when the kingdom is
With intestine faction on
Account of religion labouring) was
Raised to sit upon her kingly father’s seat
And wear in honour England’s kingly diadem;
To sway that massy scepter and that sword
That awed the world in his triumphant hand,
And now in her’s commands the enemy,
And with dishonour drives the daring foe
Back to his den, tired with
Successless arms, wearied with wars
By land and wrack by sea;
And that under her we live in safety
And she in honour reigns over us.
So may she long and ever may she do,
Untouched by traitorous hand or treacherous foe.’
"At this, Northumberland or Worcester ’gin
To frown, and in admirable fooling,
Would him challenge thus:
‘Not so fast, sweet sir, soft, soft.
This miracle and queen of gems
Is not at the beck of every man who is
Overwrought by his neibours, because
The cares of government ought to be
Distinguished from these viler sort of cases.
This should be referred to the learnéd magistrates,
And not to the princes, when other things
Of greater weight to the state are left
For want of time to low and vulgar men.
Therefore, thou shouldst not have spoke on ’t.
She is the blossom and grace of courtesy,
And (standing as she does, as a shield
And stronghold of defense against
The formidable and overbearing ambition
Of Spain), her reason’s reach and
Honour’s height have set the world at gaze,
For wonders such as she doth possess
Transcend remembrance’s golden register
And recommend to times eternity;
For sealed up in the treasures of her heart
That freed is from Cupid’s yoke by fate
Is peerless wisdom and majesty.
Yet, would you have her judge this simple thing.
If you will consult her majesty, ask her
To help us, through the luster and glory
Of her noble mind, in escaping or defeating
The forces of the enemy of England’s peace;
For matter of war is nowise wanting.
It is not to monks or closet penmen
That we are to look for guidance
In such a case, but to this memorable
Person among princes, she who is ever
Occupied in the study of this commonwealth’s
Advancement, to improve our utility
As did the emperors of Græcia.
And we know there hath not been since
Christ’s time any king or temporal monarch
Who hath been so much a king
As this fortunate woman--
Fortunate in her victory, for when
That Spanish fleet, got up with so much
Travail and ferment, came ploughing
Into our channels, by her forces
And her counsels combined she
Kept it under, and it never took
So much as a cock-boat at sea;
Never fired so much as a cottage on the land;
Never even touched the shore;
But was first beaten in a battle
And then dispersed and wasted
In a miserable flight, with many
Shipwrecks, while on the ground and
Territories of England conspicuous
Peace was not only maintained by her,
But she sent naval expeditions both
To the low countries of France, to
Scotland, to Portugal and to harass
The courts of Spain; and dispatched
Fleets also to the Indies, some of which
Sailed round the globe.
A womanish people might well enough
Be governed by a woman, but that
A nation particularly fierce and warlike
Can be ruled over by a woman is indeed
A matter for the highest admiration.
Blessed be God!
That hath lent us such a gracious,
Learned, valiant and stainless queen!
Beshrew me, but I do hold her higher
In intellectual matters than any king
Born in the past or present.
And for her gift of speech I call to mind what
Cornelius Tacitus saith of Augustus Cæsar
That his style of speech was flowing and princelike;
And her own native and original notions
Are proof she doth strenuously and diligently
Revolve and revise the subject, and doth not
Take hold in a superficial way
Of any matter of consequence.’
"After these flourishes and enhancements of her virtue,
They were rewarded by her majesty,
Who would then enter into the matter.
I mention all this for an example to show
How the deep schemers among the statesmen
And deeper wits have to present their opinions
On matters of state--
No very difficult task if a man
Will skilfully mix and interlace his several kinds
Of business, but as their time
Was so much occupied with other things,
As troublesome and turbulent quarrels,
Jealousies and emulations, the affairs
Of government were, it must be admitted,
Commonly trusted to any man
That made pretense of just deliberation
And decision. The ablest persons, moreover,
Would not row against the stream,
Regarding it too laborious to perform public duty
Without a certain assurance of advancement
In life, which Elizabeth was adverse
To giving unto persons of great learning.
Nay, to have such fountain of learning
In himself were enough to cause his credit
To give place with her. Thus men of learning,
Because they saw no hope of reputation,
Very rarely delivered their knowledge,
Excepting only that grand man,
Sir Nicholas Bacon, who died
In the height of his prosperity.
He did not deceive her, nevertheless,
By a kind of necessity she kept him
From the beginning of her reign
To the end of his life near her person.
Not many days after she came to the throne
The priests aimed at her life;
And though they were in the happiest manner
Both detected and defeated, yet
The treacherous attempt of the conspirators
Kept her ever after in the highest degree
Of fear. The sound of a strange step
About her inspired her with such terrors
That her life was made thereby more alarmed
Or anxious than any person’s I ever saw.
Indeed, if a man presented her with a petition,
It revived her terror and expectation of death;
And she was wont
To have the man beaten by the soldiers,
And then sent away howling to the empty air--
An act sufficient
To have aroused indignation and rebellion
In any but a servile people.
If he persevered, pressed and demanded
The course of justice, she would say ‘what is this?
Perhaps, as happened to Julius Cæsar and others,
I shall fall in a tumult by the persons
I account my friends, and whom I
Have raised to honour.’
This could not but make the courtiers
Troubled and doubtful even if, indeed,
It did not set them on to new conspiracies,
Not from any inclination to shed blood,
But to relieve themselves by her death
From the assertion of dishonour
Which proceeded from her embittered mind,
That, ever swelling with the sense of impending misfortune
And inglorious death, kept her in
A constant state of suspicion.
She was sustained and nourished
In those lighter points of character
I have described by the men who
Swayed and controlled her, and,
As she was by nature
Extremely prone to both anger and suspicion,
And violent in both, no one escaped censure.
There was not a more suspicious woman,
Nor a more fearful; nor at times a more stout
In all England, than Elizabeth.
And in such a composition power
Could do no small hurt; and as she
Experienced in her youth the vicissitudes of fortune,
Having come to the kingdom
Through several stages of discipline,
Having passed (though not suddenly) from the prison
To the throne, and first disinherited,
Afterwards superceeded, then imprisoned
And then restored to liberty,
And at last quietly raised to the sovereignty,
She was naturally fearful of evil;
And as there is nothing makes a woman suspect
Much more than to know little,
And because of the feeling of suspicion,
So deeply seated in her nature,
She always suspected defects and base natures
In men, and artificially nourished
By the tales and whisperings of others,
Never limited or confined her anger, but contrarywise
Was wont to be angry upon the least suspicion,
Heaping unexpected contempt on all till at last
The stoutest natures not only did
Pray for her death, but continually regarded it
As the crown and consummation of felicity.
When, therefore, she was said
To have been struck with paralysis
And tormented with the pain-pangs of death,
None of the court but accounted it a blessing.
In her last illness the symptoms were frightful,
And for a few days before her death,
By reason of the exceeding dryness of her body,
Wasted as it was with corruption and
Dishonour of nature, she did rot and crack open,
The sheets being spotted with the blood
That did sully their whiteness and purity.
Her loathesome blood
Did turn to an infected jelly,
And her retinue, for fear of infection,
When they stand in presence, speak but few words,
And with mutual invitations, entertainments,
Feastings, and disports devise means
To keep away from court.
They hope for her death
And make preparation for her successor,
And meditate on and devise plots
To advance their fortunes and
To assail the fortunes of others.
I cannot blame them, because
They did shun her company;
For she muddied her cloathes
And would not have fresher raiment put upon her,
Therefore she did smell so strongly
That the dullest nostril
Durst not tempt the stink.
Her women, when they waited upon her,
Carefully stuffed their noses with fine wool,
Or stop the nose with the hand
And drench’d themselves with the odour
Of muscat or civit. The unclean smell
Almost destroyed the energy of the gentle ladies.
A certain courtier who did encounter me, said:
‘Foh! she doth smell like a close-stool,
And her breath is too strong for any one to stand.’
And he said further her stinking breath
Made him so sick he was inclined to vomit,
And that he did not dare to come near her,
For he becomes melancholy
When he sees her natural depravity
And malignant disposition.
That her rage at death was so odious
And vain, he believes the queen
Is worse than an infidel,
And that at last her soul would peradventure
Sink down to the shades of deep Avernus’s crags;
And that at first she moped
And was dull, sad, austere, disheartened,
Dejected and the like; and many times
Would deride or laugh to scorn
The sacred ministers of heaven.
And when the reverend and learned men
Point out the ways of love,
She would desire them
To mind their own business,
‘For,’ says she, ‘it is too late
For such foolish toyes and solicitous courtesies.
I cannot get any good gain or profit
By such Christian religion;
For this love of God is but a dream
Of the imagination, and I say
I will not be so childish, timorous
Or bashful as to believe such absurd conceits.
As if we who are princes and potentates
Wake from our sleep as others, that are
Our beggarly followers, in darkness!’
And with such confidence of divine favour
She remained unshaken and undisturbed
Almost to the end; but at last
The intollerable pain which came to her
Bereft her of dignity, and the fear of death
Disfurnished her wholly of heroicall spirits;
And she drove her gentlewomen away
And did damn and curse them
Till she lost speech. And that after her powers
Of speech were lost she retained
Her power of motion, only
Somewhat slower and duller;
And when any one comes to her,
Covering her head with her robe,
As abhoring all company and light;
And that her stiffness did increase in spite
Of her continual motion; and how
The other dread symptoms of body and mind
Must needs aggravate her disease;
And that she drew in air
With a hissing noise,
After the manner of serpents;
And like an envenomed serpent,
Which hath neither teeth, nor sting,
Nor venom, nor wreath, nor folds,
She lay biting at all who came near her;
And that her burning eye balls
Did retain their heat and lent her frantic face
The look of a ravenous tiger;
And that she would receive no sustenance,
And was never refreshed with wine
Or a more generous diet, least
She should be poisoned and killed
By her women.
‘By and by,’ said he, ‘her frail nature
Will not hold out
And the queen will be no more.’
"‘True sir,’ said I, ‘I do well believe
The princess is near her end;
I humbly thank your highness
For your information, and pass on.’
"At the end her death was miserable,
Terrible and revolting to human nature,
In that her melancholy desire of life
And impatience of sickness
Wore the appearance of lunacy."
"‘Stay a little, your lordship.
I think you mentioned that Cecil
Rid her of life. Hasten on to the account.’
"Come, come sir!
It is unseasonable and puerile hurry
To snatch at the first apple
That comes within reach;
For though it be true that this beast,
By the suffrance of the highest King of kings,
By the skilfull use of poison did disable her,
And then by violent means bereft her of life.
Yet I must beseech you to follow everything
In the straight course.
It is natural that the selection of the variety
Of matter about the keys: FORTUNE, NATURE,
HONOUR and REPUTATION, from the beginning to the end,
Is a vexation to the interpreter; but were it
Still more laborious I must work in my own way,
Even though I may be considered perverse
By the mass of men.
I recount the enormities that in court
Continually hoved (and some part of which
I did see) as best I can; but, my friend,
I hope it is possible to pass safely and
Not to be found out, by the nature of the material.
And if any man shall think it cowardly-wise
To exercise this deception of the senses,
I call him a fool absolute. Indeed
He is spoiled by vain philosophy, or is
An emperic, confident and adventurous fool.
For if the mysteries of these curious letters
Could be found out at the first view,
The man to whom I have referred within
The circle of these narratives would
Not only reveal them to King James,
But would himself labour to give me
A crown of martyrdom.
He is held in great estimation by the king,
Who is extremely jealous of me, and
Is afraid the day will come that I
will fall between his titles and
Take the throne; therefore, to save myself,
I have observed these differing unities
In manner of a mask and am fain
(As rated spaniel takes his burden up for fear)
By carefully dissembling to hide the history
From observation of the general world,
Concealing it in foundations deep, for
This huge chaos of good and evil is enclosed
Like the evils locked long time in store
That Pandora let from her depart;
And if I were known to have displayed
How her light was dimmed
By this most beastly company
I would be in great danger,
If not assured of death.
I would be rewarded with a gibbet for
The history I have disguised in them;
Or in the land I would be seen no more,
As I (if I were betrayed)
Would bewail my cruel destiny
In some private cell,
Restrained and subdued by powerful chains;
Or banished into a solitary island
(Ready to bite my lip or mine own heart devour)
To die of hunger.
Therefore, though I break the order of time,
To draw it down I have a purpose;
And in recompilement of my work
Mine own general laws must not
Be laid aside by your honor.
But I pray you pardon me.
To return to the queen:
"There are two excrescences which grow upon trees,
Both of the nature of mush-rooms, which,
If they be put into the blood,
From the quickening and exciting of the natural heat,
Corrupteth it, and kill the nourishment of the frame.
There is also an herb, the wild aconitum,
That liveth in the shadow, and which is
Present in every cottage (for by the people
It is esteemed as a medicine) and which,
If a man eat of it, will trammell up
The spirits. It is such a corrosive and deadly poison
That gnats, flies, insects and
Small birds that drink of the clammy and viscous moisture
(Which in the summer is found in abundance
In the joints or knuckles of the plants)
Turn giddy, and after long turning round
Fall into the plant.
They are impoisoned the very instant
They drink the moisture. The vapour
Will also cause them to fly round and round.
He, Robert, took these and a number of
Other subtle plants and herbs
(One being the moss that adheres to the cedar
And which is a kind of mould)
That he found growing in the wood,
And by artificial separation distilled
Enough of their natural oils and juices
To set her free from the bondage of life.
But to finish the existence of the queen,
Which is his sole object,
The transmission of the evil composition
Into her body must be duly arranged for,
And unless he attained this successfully
And aptly, all his work would be fruitless.
So he provided himself
With long crystalline glasses of azure and white,
Which resemble in color
White and blue violets, and that falsify the eye
By the qualifying of the light.
He had the wit to shrink the oily substance
Into small compass and boil’d the stuff
Till it became solid;
And likewise to change and correct the bad taste
By uniting sugar, musk and sack,
As well as divers subtle scents
And the like with it,
And putting the cunning drink
Into one of the glasses, filled another
With an imitation, made of an infusion
Of rhubarb, fir and pine.
He brought the drink to her and said,
‘Wil ’t please your grace,
To drink a cup of distilled waters
With me by way of pledge?’
And then this monstrous villain
First to his own lips puts
The poisoned chalice.
She did extend her hand to him and answered,
‘Sir, give me the glass.’
He does give it her and she drunk it off
And commends the ingredients.
He carryeth in like manner and time
The other to his mouth and swallowed it.
There is often a great mutation in nature
Which may induce a change
In the parts of a vegetable or animal composition,
The cause whereof is not very susceptible
Of inquiry, as a man can sometimes
Overcome sickness and disease, which,
At another time, if the same man be anything weak,
Will end in death.
And whether there was no unity
In the poisoned drops, it is certain
They were not in the ordinary way effectual;
For it so fortuned
That all the immediate effect they produced
On the princess was that she did speak
Distractedly in starts and act confusedly.
No serious thought was taken of this,
But all pass it by with slight notice,
As it was regarded as one of her pranks.
The princess from the day
She imbibed the poison did seem
Sad and pensive. No pleasure
Did delight her heart. On the contrary
She repelled anything like activity.
In a word, the powerful nature of the poison
Did destroy the fabric and
Structure of her mind
Without any action at first upon her
Blood and body. The stroke of death
Must have been prevented
By the sack and beef her majesty
Had eaten and drank at dinner;
For though excess of nourishment is hurtful,
Yet plenty of nourishment will give immunity
From the subtlety of dangerous doses.
For example, food will
So check and retard remedies
That may be given by the physician
That our physicians are loathe to give
An opiate on a full stomach,
and if his (Robert’s) skill
Had been equal to his natural malignity,
He certainly, when he turned to poison,
Would not have forgot the part
That nutriment played in his bloody tragedy."
"Sir, I pray you pause; I dare not
Handle a case of this nature confusedly.
It will be said
That you were an accessory to this intent,
If not the principal actor;
Therefore it behooveth you to immediately
Free yourself from the charge
That will be brought against you."
"You shall give me leave to doubt
That any man will say
I am either the principal or accessory even
To this direful murder. When you
Proceed further in this business
You will find that my good friend,
The learned leech of her majesty,
Did supply me with the
Nature of the poison that she yielded too,
And one of her ladies the account
Of her death."
"Now, before the gods,
I am ashamed that I fashioned the question."
"Sir, it was necessary
To let me give the answer.
I could not make the plays suit
Unless I stuffed the clowns in to set on
Some quantity of barren spectators to laugh;
And I have made them imitate humanity
So abhominably that those that hear the plays,
And themselves laugh at them,
Will not, I hope, see
That there is set down more
Than the poor fools speak.
But let us pass on:
The physician told me that from the day
The accursed villain drugged her posset
That like lead upon her lies a heavy melancholy.
‘And,’ said he, ‘the queen has died
Every day she has lived.
She cannot sleep and she throws herself about,
Now on her knees, then upon her feet.
The other night she cries out
‘Now o’er the one-half world nature seems dead,
And wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep.
Witchcraft celebrates pale Hecate’s offerings
And withered murder,
Alarméd by his sentinel, the wolf (who howls his watch)
With stealthy pace, like Tarquin’s ravishings steps,
Like a ghost moves towards his design.
See! see! there’s husbandry in heaven!
Their candles are all out. Take thee that, too,’--
Pointing at the light.
‘Come, put mine night-gown on.
And yet I cannot sleep. Merciful powers!
Restrain in me the curséd thoughts
That nature gives way to in repose.
My deeds must not be thought on,
Or they will make me mad.
See, in swinish sleep,
How these wicked caitiff chamberlains
Lie as in a death. Their blood is caked;
’T is cold; it seldom flows.
’T is lack of kindly warmth;
They are not kind to sleep. To bed! to bed!
I have bought golden opinions
From all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.
Come, come, come, come!
Give me your hand.
What’s done cannot be undone.
To bed, to bed, to bed! good-night.
Am I sick, good doctor?’
"‘Not so sick, your majesty
As troubled with thick coming fancies
That keep you from your rest."
"‘Cure me of that.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom
Of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?’
"‘Therein, the patient
Must minister to herself.’
"‘Throw physic to the dogs!
I’ll none of it. Come, give me my staff, doctor.
Come, sir, dispatch. If thou, doctor, couldst
Cast the water of my heart,
Find my disease and purge it to
A sound and private health, I would
Applaud thee to the echo, that
Should applaud again. I say
Out, damned spot, out, I say! One, two--
Why, then ’t is time to do ’t! Hell is murky.
Here’s the smell of blood still.
All the perfumes of Araby
Will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!
What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug
Will scour off this spot?
What! will these hands ne’er be clean?’
"‘And then,’ said he, ‘she rubs her hands
As if washing them, and would this
Continue a quarter of an hour at a time.
Then would she sigh
As if her heart was sorely charged,
And as her body received no nourishment,
The flame at length could burn no more.
And though digested and prepared nourishment
Was supplied her, yet
As she would not eat she at length fell
Into a kind of settled melancholic despair,
And sat immovable day and night
Upon a cushion, her eyes fixed upon the floor,
Her finger in her mouth,
As if she were falling into her second infancy
Or childhood. Nevertheless,
She did at times show some sparkles
Of spirit and edge, for when
The ministers came to her to take order
About the succession of the King of Scots,
She did vehemently cry out
‘Mine ancestors won by prowess
Many kingdoms, and they got riches by such exploits
And great authority, for I come
Of a royal parentage, and I will tell you
That the Scotch dunces
Never shall succeed to our throne.
Is not he that they call
Francis Bacon alive?’
"‘Yes, your majesty.’
"‘Then, how dare you ask me such a question?
Is he not our eldest son
And lawful King of England?’
"Didst thou, doctor, hear this singular speech?"
"‘O, yes, I heard all, and more too.
I heard Master Cecil say,
‘Let her not live.’
Then they come unto me and commanded me to begone.
So I yield, being sore dismayed,
And go lamenting out. And I fear me
That they killed her after I was expelled.
"But, loyall sir,
Was not some one else there?
Didst thou leave these varlots alone with her.’
"‘There was a lady, sir,’ said he, ‘near her.’
"Indeed! what may be her name?"
"‘I did hear her called Grace.’
"I sought out this maid
And call at her house, which doth stand
By Christ Church, and said to her,
I hear you did chance to see
The death of the queen?’
"‘Why, sir, why, man, I understand you not.
Speak softly. I will be lost, quite lost,
If that devil knew mine eyes
Did see him slaying her.
Who told you, sir?’
"Be patient; I am loathe to tell you
Whence it come,
But I must know the truth; therefore
Dally not with me,
But give me the cruel story."
"‘Sir, give me leave, I beseech you,
To show it by some mighty precedent.
Some three ages since the king
Had a servant that served him
Long and faithfully. Well, one night
’T is said, sir, this good man’s life
Was taken by his foe.’
"‘But how? Say how.
Show not how quaint an orator you are,
But answer; who was the man?"
"‘Sir, you that are so shrewd, cannot you guess
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester’s name?’
"‘Upon my soul,
They did kill him in bed.’
"‘Thus didst he, our sovereign,
With his hands about the circle of her neck,
The villain did stifle her,
Stealing the sweet breath that was embounded
In her beautious clay.’
"‘Did he with his hands
Choke his dear lady sovereign?’
"‘These two eyes beheld this evil murder.’
"‘I pray thee, what did the creature do first?’
"‘After the physician had hurried out
He locked the doors.’
"‘List to me;
If the doors were locked and you
Shut out, how did you see?’
"‘I was not shut out.
I did not go when they bid us to,
But hid myself under the desk
That’s covered with Turkish tapestry,
Which stands in her chamber,
Where I saw
The whole vile murder committed.
O, dear heaven!
I saw him cast her on her back,
And in spite of her bootless fight,
He with his cruel hands
Her fair throat did strongly bind.
The shamefast band may not be shaken off,
Though she strongly struggled
Both with foot and hand,
And with all the might she had
She strove him to withstand and save her life.
The vile villain
Reviled her, and bathed in blood and sweat
The sunshine of her clear countenance
First did win away in luckless death.
Still did he hold her
Till she was still in death.
Then when he discovered that his force
Her life had reaved,
He, like a dead man, frozen stood.
Then in a twinkling, all in deadly fear,
He ran unto the closéd door,
The key did turn, rudely thrust it open
And did fly from forth the chamber.
Behind his back I crouch as he passed by,
And with trembling heart
Softly slide after him.
I fear his roving eye may on me glance,
And sir, I thought
How easily the villain might
Thrust on me the bloody crime.
The very thought turned my blood cold.
Ah! woe is me!
I might have tried to call for help
And save her life.’
"‘A plague on you! why did you not?’
"‘Because I remembered when
The room he cleareth, all our company
To their chambers far away were sent;
For our company lodge far distant from the queen,
And God knows
What the villain would have done to me
Had he caught me there.
Betray me not.
Let not my name be yoked with his.
And sir, I declare, if you seek this to prove,
I dare not stand by it;
Nor shall you be safer than one condemned
By the king’s own mouth thereon
His execution sworn.’
"‘Thanks, fairest lady,’ said I,
‘I will keep this wicked murder
As a secret during my life.
I’ faith you shall not be hanged.
Sleep in peace. Farewell.’
"And knowing the declaration,
Through the evidence mought be disputable,
I have reserved it. Besides,
Extreme caution made me
(For safety to the fair lady) hold it
Close in my heart."
"Away! I do condemn my ears
That have so long attended thee.
If thou wert honourable
Thou wouldst have told this tale for
Virtue, not for such an end.
Thou seekest as base revenge as strange.
Thou wrongest a gentleman who is
As far from thy report as thou
From honour. Yea, thou wilt
Beslubber and sully thy honour
With this fiction. I do not like
To trust one of thy malice, so I say
Thou shouldst not sit
Amongst men of honour and reputation.
The machinations of such as thou
Will not depress him."
"It is a great error to endeavour
To move the mind of a fool.
O, I could divide myself and go to buffets
For moving such a dish of skimmed milk
As you with so honourable an action as this.
It is well said
‘Dead flies do cause the best ointment to stink.’
So does a little folly him
That is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
Think you that I am of so dishonest nature
As to try your great judgement
With a false report, that I might be revenged?
I will pawn mine honour for its truth.
While others get up stage plots
And the like fables ’gainst their enemies,
I have provided a history for you
Of so rare a character that in all the world
There is not another like it.
And you know
In the subject matter you cannot err.
Think you it is fit a saucy stranger
Should charge me with breach of faith and
The wickedness of falsehood? Yet
It is foretold that when Christ
Cometh again He shall not find
Faith upon the earth, and
I acknowledge that a mortal
Can expect no more
Than a defended God.
I have honoured you, praised you, and made you
A theme of honour and renown;
And you, for recompense of the service
I have done you, and
For the free entertainment I have
Given you, in this way
Retort and beat down my title for truth.
Sir! sir! any one may compound
This history upon examination of the copy,
And so find that I suppressed
Arraigning the party.
The examination must force the public
To believe that the abuses you have
Heaped upon me detract greatly
From your character and reputation.
Nay, further thus to draw upon me
Ill reports and dishonourable rumours
Is not for your advantage, for
If the examination of the parties referred to
Be lies, then the first matter
From its inception is a lie,
And the minds of men would be
Poor shrunken things if they believed the records.
Any record which, upon examination,
Speaks not the truth, should be
Committed to the flames, for lies,
For the lies’ sake ought not to be commended.
Nay, at the instant
That they are published they,
Without pity, should be excluded; therefore,
Once more, if this examination
Is not true,
All of the letters are counterfeit.
But, sir, I am afraid there is
A mixture of vanity in your meditations."
"Sir, I pray your pardon. Be not angry.
Hear me. I adventur’d
This impudent question of your truth
To see what you would say."
"I con you no thanks for ’t.
The assault upon my reputation
Will lend you little honest, honourable praise.
You have abused me,
Have you not my lord?"
"I must confess it."
"Then am I bound to your free heart,
From whose help I derive liberty.
Now to return to work."
"O, proceed to thine own nativity."
"Well, my lord, to proceed:
The great clatter that we made
As I paid the villainous offender for his wrong
To my honour and sent him
Sneeping off did alarm
My second mother. Straightforth in haste
She ran to learn the reason
Of the fearful noise, and comes flying in.
I had laid myself down on the couch,
And to escape conversation, feign
To be fast asleep; but it was in vain.
Her mother-wit was too much for me,
As, after examination, she said:
‘This is a strange repose, to be asleep
With eyes wide open. Dost snore? There’s meaning
In your snores so fast asleep whiles winking.
This slumbery agitation is curious.
Go too, Francis! You’re playing.
What have you been doing?’
And she seated herself near me.
As boldly as I could I declared, nothing."
I will not over-woe your honour,
But if you dare not trust or tell me,
Out of my exceeding love for you
I will send for him you sent away
And have him back return
And talk with him.’
"I blush and said
I have just had a trial of strength
With the dwarf.’
"‘What did you wreak your wrath on
Such a carle as he for?’
"I scourged him for saying
I was the bastard son of the queen.’
"‘You have proved yourself truly to be a fool.
Could you not see the machinations
And evil designs of this
Treacherous, deceptive, jealous villaine?
It was but to smoke your secret out.
Now will he return to the queen
And tell her that he suspects
You are looking up your origin.
I know Elizabeth well. Whatever regard she
May have for you, she loves
Majesty more, and if it appears to her
That you have made inquiries
Touching your birth, she will have
Little mercy on the flesh of those
From whom you obtained this secret.
And knowing that I know all
Of this history, she will have suspicion
Of me, and I am not yet ready to die.
I am fearful of her wicked arts.’
"‘O,’ said I, ‘that I might quiet my dishonour!
I do not care about the crown,
But when a man’s own name is his misfortune
It is bitter. I am discarded by my father,
Defiled by my mother and
Dishonoured by the world,
A pinchéd thing.’
"‘Come,’ said she, ‘you shall no more be grieved.
I will disclose the whole to you.
If I can fashion it, I will
Place you where you shall hear
The midwife and I confer, and by
An auricular assurance have the
Satisfaction of knowing all, and
That without any further delay
Than this evening. She is a gentlewoman
Of no mean house, nor is she endued
With any common or vulgar gifts.
Nor was she too mean to be companion of a queen.
Her husband is deceased and was
No less a person than the Lord Mayor.’
"‘I will be most greatful to your ladyship.’
I am punished; I have shot my arrow o’er the house
And hurt myself.’
"‘Good madam, pardon me.
I do confess you must needs be
My good mother still.’
"‘O, my son,
I have fostered thee as mine own, from the hour
Of thy nativity without regard
To thy paternity. Thou suckd’st my breast
And I have made thee a good parent,
And thou hast no need to be ashamed
Of thy foster-father or of her
That hath devoted her life to thee.
Thou mayest by birth indeed be her son,
But dear, no mother could be
More gentle and tender of thee than I
Have been, for I, having lost
My little son by wicked fortune’s spite,
Improv’d the blessed fortune sent
By heaven and preserv’d thee, and
Have been thy nurse, held thee
On my bosom, sat by thy cradle, did teach
Thy prattling tongue to speak, and
In a rapture fell when thou first called me mother;
And in short,
From the hour that thou, a dainty,
Little, unfathered babe, of sweet
And lovely face and spotless spirit, lay
In my arms, I have faithfully over thee kept
Both watch and ward. Have I then
Deserved this so ingrateful rub from thee?
I tell thee I am mad!
I have had my labour for my travail,
And between thee both
I am made a reproach, and for my labour
Receive small thanks.’
"She sheddeth tears and bewaileth
Her ill fortune. I said,
‘I confess I have wounded you,
Yet by my honour I, ’bove all the sons
You have y-bore, most truly love you.
In proof I swear that I desire
No more honoured birth nor no other name
Than FRANCIS BACON; and I will in time
Make you say the little one
That you did raise is like to be
The prime glory of your house, for I,
Like a vine, will grow, and wherever the bright sun
Of heaven shall shine, my honour and the greatness
Of my name shall be known.
I tell you I’ll stand so high above
This damned, dishonourable foil
That by injurious wiles brings me to nought,
That you will be glad you did endow me
With your name. Cheer up and
Let me wipe the tears from those
Lamenting eyes, and turn not away from
Your loving son--yes, son--for I
Am yet your son.’
At this, thrown a little off her guard,
She embraceth me and said:
‘Do you love me?’
"‘O heaven! O earth!
Bear witness that I do.’
"‘Then will I, sweet child, be merry.
And may I live to see you
Ascend to fame’s immortal house and
Banquet in bright honour’s burnish’d hall;
For look you, Francis,
You are my favourite child, the darling of my heart;
And if your love be such as these
Your protestations do paint forth,
We two, as friends, one fortune shall divide,
And I will enable you to get the throne;
For I will prove Elizabeth wed
Your great father.
But remember with whom we have to deal.
Hide it close till golden time convenes.
Stand upon your guard; prate not unnecessarily;
I’ll make you King of England.’
"‘Speak you this with a sad brow?’
"‘I am more serious than my custom,
And I’ll be your assistant; yea, even I alone.
I have longéd long to give you proof,
Yet so far discretion hath fought with nature.
Now will I let my love for you make
A free determination ’twixt right and wrong;
And though wicked is her mind,
And though she hath proclaimed it death
To utter aught concerning her marriage
And the succession, yet will I do my best
To clear up the mystery of your birth.
List ye then to my story:
"‘I must take you back in the course of the history
To the commencement of her late sister’s reign
And tell you the former state of things
Before her twenty-seventh year, which was
The year of your nativity.
King Edward had proved but an ordinary boy,
And setting aside his comely virtues
He did soil the kingdom,
As without heed of consequences
He did oppose his own house and left
The throne by will when he died
Away from the daughters of Henry the Eighth
(Who were co-heirs with him)
To his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, giving
As the reason why they are so disinherited
That they were yet but young, and
It would be unsafe to hand over the kingdom
To them. But in good sooth
The reasons he did allege
Do more to show he had
A most weak pia-mater than anything else;
For wherein Lady Grey did triumph
Over either I cannot make out.
The judges authorized the king’s alienation
Of the crown, and established the alienation;
But the determination of Mary
Inspired a number of men of great spirit
And courage, who naturally thought
Greater honesty and principle,
Specially in princes, ought to be found;
And also, that when they find
No safeguard in law, that it
Doth release the inheritors of this realmn
(By the utter subversion of the ancient common laws)
From the charge of rebellion, and therefore
They did refer the causes
Of the two oppressed women to the god of arms
And attained the fair lady,
Her father and husband, with treason,
And in time did send them all unto the block.
Mary appears for a time to think
More about power than of theology;
But finally the dogmas of the Church of Rome
Blotted out, and, as it were,
Drowned and swallowed up
Her sound judgement and will,
And did betray her into an infinite
Variety of paltry and petty jealousies.
For after she did espouse Philip
(Which gave him power of disannulling laws,
Disposing of men’s fortunes and the states,
And the like points of absolute power),
There was a truce with England’s
Glory, happiness and conditions;
For she did suffer him to give up
England’s glory to France, by the loss of Calais,
And after her mean marriage with the king,
Who, by his voluptious life had become effeminate,
And less sensible of honour and reason of state
Than was fit for a king, she arms her boldly,
To this country’s great amiss;
And all regard of honour having thrown aside,
In fury ’gan to undertake the quarrel
Of Rome and sought foul means
To stint the religious strife
Of the country and state, and
To extinguish the dawning light did
With raging passions and
Fierce tyranny, compel all the people
Of this fair land to adore
The great proud king of Babylon;
And they that would not
She with furious force and indignation fell,
With cruel hand their heads from off
Their bodies wrest, or made them feel
The pain of the pope’s triumphant victory;
For with high solemnity she
Burned those who favour the laws and customs
Of her father. Tongue cannot tell
More sad and heavy plight,
Nor can heart reach so deep a sea
Of sorrow as her cruelty wrought in
This warlike isle.
NOTE--This fills the quota of pages the decipherer has thought best to publish in his first book. The "letter" will be continued in a volume to be published in the near future.