Your note of my silence in your occasions hath made me set down these few wandering lines, as one that would say somewhat, and can say nothing touching your lordship's intended charge for Ireland; which my endeavour I know your lordship will accept graciously and well, whether your lordship take it by the handle of the occasion ministered from yourself, or of the affection from which it proceedeth. Your lordship is designed to a service of great merit and great peril; and as the greatness of the peril must needs include no small consequence of peril, if it be not temperately governed; so all immoderate success extinguisheth merit, and stirreth up distaste and envy, the assured forerunner of whole changes of peril. But I am at the last point first, some good spirit leading my pen to presage your lordship s success; wherein it is true, I am not without my oracle and divinations, none of them superstitious, and yet not all natural: for, first, looking into the course of God's providence in things now depending, and calling into consideration how great things God hath done by her majesty, and for her collect he hath disposed of this great dissection in Ireland, whereby to give an urgent occasion to the reduction of that whole kingdom, as upon the rebellion of Desmond there ensued the reduction of that province. Next, your lordship goeth against three of the unluckiest vices of all other, disloyalty, ingratitude, and insolence; which three offences in all examples have seldom their doom adjourned to the world to come. Lastly, he that shall have had the honour to know your lordship inwardly, as I have had, shall find bona exta, whereby he may better ground a divination of good, than upon the dissection of a sacrifice. But that part I leave, for it is fit for
p.21others to be confident upon you, and you to be confident upon the cause, the goodness and justice whereof is such as can hardly be matched in any example, it being no ambitious war of foreigners, but a recovery of subjects, and that after lenity of conditions often tried; and a recovery of them not only to obedience, but to humanity and policy, from more than Indian barbarism. There is yet another kind of divination familiar in matters of state, being that which Demosthenes so often relieth upon in his time, where he saith, that which for the time past is worst of all, is for the time to come the best, which is, that things go ill not by accident but by error; wherein though your lordship hath been a waking censor, yet you must look for no other now, but medice, cura te ipsum; and although your lordship shall not be the blessed physician that cometh to the declination of the disease, yet you embrace that condition which many noble spirits have accepted for advantage, which is, that you go upon the greater peril of your fortune, and the less of your reputation; and so the honour countervaileth the adventure; of which honour your lordship is in no small possession, when that her majesty, known to be one of the most judicious princes in discerning of spirits that ever governed, hath made choice of you merely out of her royal judgment, (her affection inclining rather to continue your attendance,) into whose hands and trust to put the commandment and conduct of so great forces, the gathering in the fruit of so great charge, the execution of so many councils, the redeeming of the defaults of so many former governors, and the clearing the glory of so many happy years reign, only in this part excepted. Nay farther, how far forth the peril of that state is interlaced with the peril of England; and therefore how great the honour is to keep and defend the approaches of this kingdom, I hear many discourse; and indeed there is a great difference, whether the tortoise gather herself into her shell hurt or unhurt; and if any man be of
p.22opinion, that the nature of an enemy doth extenuate the honour of a service, being but a rebel and a savage, I differ from him; for I see the justest triumphs that the Romans in their greatest greatness did obtain, and that whereof the emperors in their styles took additions and denominations, were of such an enemy; that is, people barbarous, and not reduced to civility, magnifying a kind of lawless liberty, prodigal of life, hardened in body, fortified in woods and bogs, placing both justice and felicity in the sharpness of their swords. Such were the Germans and ancient Britons, and divers others. Upon which kind of people, whether the victory be a conquest, or a re-conquest upon a rebellion or revolt, it made no difference that ever I could find, in honour. And therefore it is not the enriching the predatory war that hath the pre-eminence in honour; else should it be more honour to bring in a carrack of rich burthen, than one of the twelve Spanish apostles. But then this nature of people doth yield a higher point of honour (considering in truth and substance) than any war can yield which should be achieved against a civil enemy, if the end may be pacique imponere morem, to replant and refound the policy of that nation, to which nothing is wanting but a just and civil government. Which design, as it doth descend to you from your noble father, (who lost his life in that action, though he paid tribute to nature, and not to fortune,) so I hope your lordship shall I be as fatal a captain to this war, as Africanus was to the war of Carthage, after that both his uncle and his father had lost their lives in Spain in the same war.
Now although it be true, that these things which I have writ (being but representations unto your lordship of the honour and appearance of success and enterprise) be not much to the purpose of my direction, yet, it is that which is best to me, being no man of war, and ignorant in the particulars of state: for a man may by the eye set up the white right in the midst of the butt, though he be no archer.
p.23Therefore I will only add this wish, according to the English phrase, which termeth a well-wishing advice a wish, that your lordship in this whole action, looking forward, set down this position; that merit is worthier than fame; and looking back hither, would remember this text, that obedience is better than sacrifice. For designing to fame and glory may make your lordship, in the adventure of your person, to be valiant as a private soldier, rather than as a general; it may make you in your commandments rather to be gracious than disciplinary; it may make you press action, in the respect of the great expectation conceived, rather hastily than seasonably and safely; it may make you seek rather to achieve the war by force, than by mixture of practice; it may make you (if God shall send you prosperous beginnings) rather seek the fruition of the honour, than the perfection of the work in hand. And for your proceeding like a good protestant (upon warrant, and not upon good intention) your lordship knoweth, in your wisdom, that as it is most fit for you to desire convenient liberty of instruction, so it is no less fit for you to observe the due limits of them, remembering that the exceeding of them may not only procure (in case of adverse accident) a dangerous disavow, but also (in case of prosperous success) be subject to interpretation, as if all was not referred to the right end.
Thus I have presumed to write these few lines to your lordship, in methodo ignorantiae, which is, when a man speaketh of any subject not according to the parts of the matter, but according to the model of his own knowledge: and most humbly desire your lordship, that the weakness thereof may be supplied in your lordship, by a benign acceptation, as it is in me by my best wishing.