Speach to Parliament, March 1607
My Lords of the higher House, and you Knights and Burgesses of the Lower house, All men at the beginning of a Feast bring foorth good Wine first, and after, worse. This was the saying of the Governour of the Feast at Cana in Galile, where CHRIST wrought his first miracle by changing water into Wine.2 But in this case now whereof I am to speake unto you, I must follow that Governours rule, and not CHRISTS example, in giving you the worst and sowrest Wine last. For all the time of this long Session of the Parliament you have bene so fed and cloy’d, (specially you of the Lower house) with such banquets, and choice of delicate speeches, and your eares so seasoned with the sweetnesse of long precogitate* Orations; as this my Speach now in the breaking up of this Assembly, cannot but appeare unto your taste as the worst Wine proposed in the end of the Banquet, since I am onely to deliver now unto you matter without curious forme, substance without ceremonie, trewth in all sinceritie. Yet considering the Person that speaketh, the parties to whom I speake, the matter whereof I meane to speake; it fits better to utter matter, rather than wordes, in regard of the greatnesse of my place who am to speake to you, the gravitie of you the Auditorie, which is the high Court of Parliament; the weight of the matter, which concernes the securitie and establishment of this whole Empire, and litle world. Studied Orations and much eloquence upon little matter is fit for the Universities, where not the Subject which is spoken of, but the triall of his wit that speaketh, is most commendable: but on the contrary, in all great Councels of Parliaments, fewest wordes with most matter doeth become best, where the dispatch of the great errands in hand, and not the praise of the person is most to bee looked unto: like the garment of a chaste woman, who is onely set forth by her naturall beautie, which is properly her owne: other deckings are but ensignes of an harlot that flies with borrowed feathers. And besides the conveniencie, I am forced
hereunto by necessitie, my place calling me to action, and not leaving me to the libertie of contemplation, having alwayes my thoughts busied with the publique care of you all, where every one of you having but himselfe, and his owne private to thinke of, are at more leisure to make studied speeches. And therefore the matter which I deliver to you confusedly as in a sacke, I leave it to you when you are in your chambers, and have better leysure than I can have, to ranke them in order, every one in their owne place.