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Though the study of history be an ancient prescript for the avoiding of ignorance, and production of knowledge, and to this day far more in use than any other politick aphorisms; yet with reverence to this confessed excellent dose of others approved experiments, I doubt not but princes and men in power might finde a readier, if not a more infallible way to prudence, by being conversant in all sorts of letters relating to embassadors, and such spies and ministers (of common-wealths especially) as are employed abroad or at home in the transactions of treaties, where all things appear bare-faced, and at first hand, not smutted with interest, or adulterated by the red and white paint of envy, fear, or flattery. Nor is the frequent opportunity of discoursing with contemporaries (who having enjoyed a new light, cannot but have seen more than those by time and birth placed at a remoter distance) any despicable ingredient in the composition of an exact statesman; of which I finde few that deserve (in my judgement) the title, commonly forfeited to an over-remissness, or excess in sanctity or profaneness; or, if you will, to hypocrisie or scandal, which, at long running, will meet both with the same inconveniences. To be sure, my self have as little propensity as sufficiency in this art; being no less obstructed through mulcts received from fortune than nature; the later of which is as uncapable of amendment, as the first is unlikely to finde it: (For after the death of a good father, being driven into a corner of the world by injuries received from the nearest of kindred and remotest of friends, I was not onely invited by leisure, but compelled through necessity to seek these diversions : in which, if I be mistaken, the pardon cannot be long in suing out, since I hope they shall not meet with a severer judge than my self, for whose recreation alone they were intended.) Though the small insight I have had into affairs did not seldome gratifie my spleen with as much delight, as it may have not unpossibly affected less sanguine complexions with fury or disdain, to see the valet brought into play, where discretion called for an higher and more exact courtier; or to hear the people wrangle and cast about their
mony, through a phanatick desire to discard a present government; not foreseeing their hopes may possibly be deluded in the same, a worse stock than they make out and lay by; often bartering a pack of fools for a like quantity of knaves and mad-men: The giddy multitude being far likelier to be out in their account, then this advised adage, seldome comes a better ; especially if no wiser heads be found in the election than their own.
Nature hath employed three senses chiefly to wait on the body, and but two on the minde; yet under this advantage, that these last are distinctly double: for which of them we stand most obliged to nature, is not yet passed decision; 'since, though in regard of pleasure, sight may have the royalty, yet in respect of wisdome, the prerogative must not be denied to hearing : it being the far greater wonder to finde a prudent man deaf than blinde; so as some are recorded to have put out their eyes, as enemies to contemplation. It is ordinarily affirmed, I have seen this or that, when the most of it hath arrived at us from report. And in this sense I may be said to have seen these, and a number more,
more, which out of respect to others fame, or mine own safety, I wilfully omit. But lest this confession might seem to cast a vail of prejudice over the face of that truth I here expose to the curious eyes of
this age, as nakedly as modesty will give a toleration for, I shall say in behalf of tradition, that all books are her tenements, and contain little of history, whatever they may do of invention, but what they hold from manner of some report or other. Nor hath the beginning, to be sure, if possibly the end and period of any nation God in his love did establish, or fury destroy, a more faithful register than traditional reports; not commonly loading its memory with the exact calculation of time, which, rightly weighed, is but the pedantick part of history, and so not unlikely the cause we finde such differences arising amongst our chronologers ; the main fons or bottome of her account being no farther corresponsible, than for a just and even balancing her layings out with what she hath received. To conclude with an answer to those that may require some account of the present undertaking ; I think it far on this side such impudence as ignorance is found to plaister her libels with against incomparable Queen