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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Lion’s Strength Aided by the Fox’s Brains

By Anonymous

[From “Bacons Proseedings,” in the “Burwell Papers.” Published by the Mass. Hist. Soc. 1814.]

BACON soon perceived what easy work he was likely to have in this service, and so begun to set as small an esteem upon these men’s courages as they did upon their own credits. He saw, by the prologue, what sport might be expected in the play, and so began to dispose of his affairs accordingly. Yet not knowing but that the paucity of his numbers being once known to those in town, it might raise their hearts to a degree of courage, having so much the odds, and that many times number prevails against resolution, he thought it not amiss, since the Lion’s strength was too weak, to strengthen the same with the Fox’s brains; and how this was to be effected you shall hear:

For immediately he dispatcheth two or three parties of horse, and about so many in each party, for more he could not spare, to bring into the camp some of the prime gentlewomen, whose husbands were in town; where, when arrived, he sends one of them to inform her own, and the others’ husbands, for what purposes he had brought them into the camp, namely, to be placed in the fore-front of his men at such time as those in town should sally forth upon him.

The poor gentlewomen were mightily astonished at this project; neither were their husbands void of amazements at this subtile invention. If Mr. Fuller thought it strange that the devil’s black guard should be enrolled God’s soldiers, they made it no less wonderful that their innocent and harmless wives should thus be entered a white guard to the devil. This action was a method in war that they were not well acquainted with (no, not those the best informed in military affairs), that before they could come to pierce their enemies’ sides, they must be obliged to dart their weapons through their wives’ breast; by which means though they (in their own persons) might escape without wounds, yet it might be the lamentable fate of their better half to drop by gunshot, or otherwise be wounded to death.

Whether it was these considerations, or some others I do not know, that kept their swords in their scabbards, but this is manifest: That Bacon knit more knots by his own head in one day than all the hands in town was able to untie in a whole week; while these ladies’ white aprons became of greater force to keep the besieged from falling out than his works (a pitiful trench) had strength to repel the weakest shot that should have been sent into his leaguer, had he not made use of this invention.