Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Of England and Spain
By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554–1628)
From the Life of Sir Philip Sidney

AND the rather, because her long custom 1 in governing would quickly have made her discern, that it had been impossible, by force or any human wisdom to have qualified those overgrown combinations of Spain; but only by a countermining of party with party, and a distracting of exorbitant desires, by casting a gray-headed cloud of fear over them; thereby manifesting the well disguised yokes of bondage, under which our modern conquerors would craftily entice the noun-adjective-natured princes and subjects of this time to submit their necks. A map—as it pleased her to say—of his secrets, in which she confessed herself to be the more ripe, because under the like false ensigns, though perchance better masked, she had seen Philip the Second after the same measure, or with little difference, to Henry the Third of France, a principal fellow-member in that earthly founded, though heavenly seeming Church of Rome, when he redelivered Amiens, Abbeville, etc., together with that soldier-like passage made by the Duke of Parma through France to the relief of Roan; 2 yet whether this provident Philip did frame these specious charities of a conqueror, Augustus-like aspiring to live after death greater than his successor; or providently foreseeing that the divers humours in succeeding princes, would prove unable to maintain such green usurpations, in the heart of a kingdom competitor with his seven-headed Hydra kept together only by a constant and unnatural wheel of fortune, till some new child of hers, like Henry the Fourth, should take his turn in restoring all unjust combinations or encroachments; or lastly, whether like a true cutter of cumine seeds, 3 he did not craftily lay those hypocritical sacrifices upon the altar of death, as peace-offerings from pride to the temple of fear, as smokes of a dying diseased conscience choked up with innocent blood: of all which perplexed pedigrees, I know not what to determine otherwise; than that these tyrannical encroachments do carry the images of Hell, and her thunder-workers, in their own breasts, as fortune doth misfortunes in that wind-blown, vast, and various womb of hers.
Note 1. her long custom, i.e. Elizabeth’s. This passage occurs towards the close of a very long and very involved account of a supposed survey on Sidney’s part of the possible ways of attacking Spain, which led him, we are told, to the conclusion that America was the vulnerable point. [back]
Note 2. Roan = Rouen. [back]
Note 3. cutter of cumine seeds = [Greek]. But Brooke seems to have mixed up this word, which means a skinflint, with the Biblical “tithing cummin,” which is different. [back]

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