« ForrigeFortsæt »
A FEW days before Bacon was made Lord Keeper, the state of the negotiation then pending with Spain for the marriage of Prince Charles with the Infanta had been laid before the Council board, and they had "by consent agreed that his Majesty might with honour enter into a treaty of marriage" &c.' It was not a project from which Bacon expected any good; and if the King had taken his advice he would have gone no further in it than to let it be talked of as a possible resource by which the Crown might free itself from debt. Neither did the Council, I think, (judging from the terms of the resolution,) expect it to succeed; but they thought that, if it were fairly proceeded with on the King's part, some occasion would probably turn up for breaking it off with honour and advantage.2 That it should be proceeded with for the present was however settled; and Sir John Digby was appointed to go as ambassador to Spain, partly to conduct the negotiation, partly to effect some arrangement for the suppression of the pirates of Algiers and Tunis, who had become very troublesome.
Such being the state of the negotiation when Bacon had to take it up as a leading Councillor, true policy required that it should be guided with a view to both issues, so that some good might be secured either way;-good to the general state of Christendom, if Spain were disposed to act sincerely for that end; good to the particular interests of England and Protestantism, if not. And first came the question, what good could be extracted out
1 See "the sum of his M. speech to some of his Council on the 2 of March " [1616-7]. Harl. MSS. 1323. fo. 263.
2 "It were very likely that the breach, if any were, could not be but upon some material point of religion; which if it fell out could not be any dishonour to his Majesty, but on the contrary a great reputation, both with his subjects here at home, and with his friends of the reformed religion in foreign parts."
of the alliance, supposing it to succeed. Accordingly on the 23rd of March 1616-7, while the King was on his way to Scotland, Bacon sent for his consideration a paper of additional instructions for Sir John Digby: which began thus:
"Besides your instructions directory to the substance of the main errand, we would have you in the whole carriage and passages of your negotiation, as well with the King himself as with the Duke of Lerma and Council there, intermix discourse upon fit occasions, that may express ourselves to the effect following:
“That you doubt not but that both Kings, for that which concerns religion, will proceed sincerely, both being entire and perfect in their own belief and way; but that there are so many noble and excellent effects, which are equally acceptable to both religions and for the good and happiness of the Christian world, which may arise out of this conjunction, as the union of both Kings in actions of estate may make the difference in religion as laid aside and almost forgotten.
"As first, that it will be a means utterly to extinguish and extirpate pirates, which are the common enemies of mankind, and do much infest Europe at this time.
"Also, that it may be a beginning and seed (for the like actions before have had less beginnings) of a holy war against the Turk, whereunto it seems the events of time do invite Christian kings, in respect of the great corruption and relaxation of discipline of war in that empire; and much more in respect of the utter ruin and enervation of the Grand Signor's navy and forces by sea: which openeth a way (without congregating vast armies by land) to suffocate and starve Constantinople, and thereby to put those provinces into mutiny and insurrection."
The remaining articles do not concern us at present.
Now as I do not find in any of Bacon's letters or memoranda of earlier date any hint of such a project as this last mentioned, I suppose it was this particular occasion that put it into his head, and led him into that train of meditation to which we owe the fragment which follows. In 1622, in which year it was written, the position which the King had taken with regard to Spain was again much the same as in 1617. The negotiation having been kept on foot for awhile by delusive promises, and afterwards interrupted and almost broken off