Then the reign of a queen matched with a foreigner; then of a queen that lived solitary and unmarried, and yet her government so masculine, as it had greater impression and operation upon the states abroad than it any ways received from thence. And now last, this most happy and glorious event, that this island of Britain, divided from all the world, should be united in itself, and that oracle of rest given to AENeas, antiquam exquirite matrem, should now be performed and fulfilled upon the nations of England and Scotland, being now reunited in the ancient mother name of Britain, as a full period of all instability and peregrinations. So that as it cometh to pass in massive bodies, that they have certain trepidations and waverings before they fix and settle, so it seemeth that by the providence of God this monarchy, before it was to settle in your majesty and your generations (in which I hope it is now established for ever), it had these prelusive changes and varieties.

(9) For lives, I do find strange that these times have so little esteemed the virtues of the times, as that the writings of lives should be no more frequent. For although there be not many sovereign princes or absolute commanders, and that states are most collected into monarchies, yet are there many worthy personages that deserve better than dispersed report or barren eulogies. For herein the invention of one of the late poets is proper, and doth well enrich the ancient fiction. For he feigneth that at the end of the thread or web of every man's life there was a little medal containing the person's name, and that Time waited upon the shears, and as soon as the thread was cut caught the medals, and carried them to the river of Lathe; and about the bank there were many birds flying up and down, that would get the medals and carry them in their beak a little while, and then let them fall into the river. Only there were a few swans, which if they got a name would carry it to a temple where it was consecrate. And although many men, more mortal in their affections than in their bodies, do esteem desire of name and memory but as a vanity and ventosity,

"Animi nil magnae laudis egentes;"

which opinion cometh from that root, Non prius laudes contempsimus, quam laudanda facere desivimus: yet that will not alter Solomon's judgment, Memoria justi cum laudibus, at impiorum nomen putrescet: the one flourisheth, the other either consumeth to present oblivion, or turneth to an ill odour. And therefore in that style or addition, which is and hath been long well received and brought in use, felicis memoriae, piae memoriae, bonae memoriae, we do acknowledge that which Cicero saith, borrowing it from Demosthenes, that bona fama propria possessio defunctorum; which possession I cannot but note that in our times it lieth much waste, and that therein there is a deficience.

(10) For narrations and relations of particular actions, there were also to be wished a greater diligence therein; for there is no great action but hath some good pen which attends it. And because it is an ability not common to write a good history, as may well appear by the small number of them; yet if particularity of actions memorable were but tolerably reported as they pass, the compiling of a complete history of times might be the better expected, when a writer should arise that were fit for it: for the collection of such relations might be as a nursery garden, whereby to plant a fair and stately garden when time should serve.

(11) There is yet another partition of history which Cornelius Tacitus maketh, which is not to be forgotten, specially with that application which he accoupleth it withal, annals and journals: appropriating to the former matters of estate, and to the latter acts and accidents of a meaner nature. For giving but a touch of certain magnificent buildings, he addeth, Cum ex dignitate populi Romani repertum sit, res illustres annalibus, talia diurnis urbis actis mandare. So as there is a kind of contemplative heraldry, as well as civil.

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
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