From Solon His Follie

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FromSolon His Follie


Richard Beacon

The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries saw a profusion of English tracts on what would later be called the "Irish Problem." Most were couched, or even camouflaged, in the terms of antiquity where—among the ancient Greeks and Romans—colonies and colonial relationships were well-established and much discussed subjects. Richard Beacon's Solon His Follie was one of the earliest of these. Solon was the legendary reformer of sixth-century b.c. Athens.

SEE ALSO Colonial Theory from 1500 to 1690; English Political and Religious Policies, Responses to (1534–1690); Land Settlements from 1500 to 1690; Politics: 1500 to 1690

There remaineth now that we deduct colonies, which is the last, but not the least meanes to suppresse this distemperature, which of all others is the most beneficiall for the containing of a nation conquered in their duty and obedience; wherein foure matters are worthily considered: first the necessitie of deducting colonies; secondarily the benefite that redoundeth thereby unto common-weales; thirdly what order and manner in deducting colonies is to bee used and observed; lastly, the impedimentes which are usuallie given unto the deducting of colonies.
Shew us the necessitie of collonies.
A nation conquered may not be contained in their obedience without the strength of colonies or garrisons: for may we be induced to beleeve, that that people or nation, who daily bewaileth & accuseth his present state and condition, may persist therein longer then they be pressed therunto by necessitie? and more than this in the act of Absentes, the meere native borne people of Salamina, are tearmed to be mortall and naturall enemies unto their conquerer and all his dominions . . . for how many waies did this people incite the French King, how oft have they provoked the Pope to invade this lande of Salamina? Againe the Emperour and all other Princes and Potentates, what fortes and holdes have they not taken, and how many of our garrisons have they most cruelly slaine and murdered, the same, in the several actes of Attainder of Shane Oneile, Garralde Fitz Garralde, James of Desmond, and by severall other recordes, may appeare at large. Neither doth this forme of government drawe with it a perpetuall discontentment onelie, but also an infinite and continuall charge in maintaining these severall garrisons, as well to the Prince, as to the subject; for so in the act of subsidie and other recordes it may appeare. Neither be these all the discommodities that perpetual garrisons drawe with them, for these notwithstanding, we have beene forced to send at sundry times armies roiall to suppresse disorders and rebellions, as the same more at large may appeare in the act of restraining of tributes; so as wee may conclude, that where colonies are not strongly and faithfully deducted, there the ende of the first warres, is but a beginning of the second more dangerous than the first; the which maie appeare by the recordes of Salamina: for no sooner were the people or sects, called Omores, Odempsies, Oconores, and others, expelled by great forces and strengthes, to our great charges, out of the severall countries of Liece, Slewmarge, Irry, Glimnarliry, and Offalie, but eftsones for that we deducted not colonies, they traiterouslie entered the said countries by force, and long detained the same, untill they were with greater forces expelled, all which more at large may appeare in the act made for the deviding of countries, into shire groundes, so as we may conclude, that it is not for wise Princes to persevere in that course of government, which doth nourish as it were a perpetuall interest in troubles, charges, and expenses: for the which causes chiefely did the Venetians willingly abandon the government of Bybienna and Pisa, and wee of Athens, Salamina, the which did chiefly arise unto us, for that in steede of planting colonies, we placed garrisons. . . . [L]et us loose no opportunity of deducting of colonies, for they be deducted and maintained with small or no charges, & with no great offence, but onely to such whose landes and houses they possesse, the which remaine for the most part pacified, in that they enjoy their life which stoode in the hands of the Prince, as well as their landes to dispose, for their offences: and if they should remaine discontented, for that having respect to the whole kingdome they be but a handfull, and also dispersed and poore, they may never be able to hurt or disturbe the state, & all others which finde themselves free from their losses, shall rest pacified, partely fearing, least they commit any thing rashly or foolishly, and partly doubting, least the like befalleth them as to those which remaine spoyled for their offences. . . .
Nowe sith the necessity of colonies doeth manifestly appeare by unfallible proofs and examples, let us proceede unto the profite and benefite that groweth thereby.
The benefites that hereby arise to the commonweale, are sundry and diverse: first the people poore and seditious which were a burden to the common-weale, are drawen forth, whereby the matter of sedition is remooved out of the Cittie; and for this cause it is said, that Pericles sent into the country of Cherronesus, a thousand free men of his Cittie there to dwell, and to devide the landes amongst them; five hundreth also into the Ile of Naxus, into the Ile of Andros others, some he sent to inhabite Thracia, and others to dwell with the Bisaltes; as well thereby to ridde the Cittie of a number of idle persons, who through idlenes began to be curious and to desire a change of thinges, as also to provide for the necessity of the poore towns-men that had nothing, which being naturall Citizens of Athens served as garrisons, to keepe under those which had a desire to rebell, or to attempt any alteration or change: secondly by translating of colonies, the people conquered are drawen and intised by little and little, to embrace the manners, lawes, and government of the conquerour: lastly the colonies being placed and dispersed abroade amongest the people, like Beacons doe foretell and disclose all conspiracies. . . . lastly, they yeelde a yearely rent, profite, or service unto the crowne for ever.

Reprinted in Strangers to That Land: British Perceptions of Ireland from the Reformation to the Famine, edited by Andrew Hadfield and John McVeagh (1994), pp. 109–111.

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From Solon His Follie

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From Solon His Follie