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meant to be his great contribution to the science of his professiona collection of the principal Rules and Grounds of Law dispersed through the body of decided cases. How far he proceeded with this work at a later period is not known. But the specimen which has come down to us, and which will be found in its place among the Professional Works, is supposed by Mr. Heath to have been composed entirely at this period of his life. To the same period must be referred the 'Essays' in their earliest form, the fragment entitled • Colours of Good and Evil,' and the Meditationes Sacræ ;' which were published shortly after. From these we may partly infer the nature of his occupations during the autumn and winter of 1596, concerning which we should otherwise be left in ignorance : for except the following letter to Mr. Thomas Hesket on behalf of a servant of his brother's, among whose papers a copy of it is preserved, I find no writing of an occasional character belonging to these months.
This bearer, James Ousie, now servant to my brother Anthony Bacon, and heretofore servant from childhood in the house of your brother, Mr. Barth. Hesket, dependeth upon your brother's favour and the confirmation of his promise touching a small copyhold to be joined again to another part, both which his ancestors have possessed. He is persuaded your good word and advice will dispose his late master to grant it him. I pray you at my request undertake the matter and help the poor man; and I shall accept it as a kindness from you. So in some haste I commend you to the Divine preservation, this 22nd of December, 1596. Your friend loving and assured,
Lambeth MSS. 660, fo. 107. Copy, in the hand of Anthony Bacon's secretary. Docketed, “De Mons? Fra. Bacon a MonsTho. Hesket, le 22me Decembre, 1596."
A.D. 1597. ÆTAT. 37.
So many of the letters belonging to this period of Bacon's life are without date, and the business of one year is in its general features so like that of another, that it is difficult to ascertain their true sequence : and inferences which might otherwise take place as facts can only be offered as conjectures.
If I am right in supposing that the three which follow were all written in February or March, 1596-7, it seems that Bacon's patience had at this time to stand the trial of another hope followed by another disappointment. But the date which I assign to them is inferred from certain incidental allusions, which will be more easily understood if I first explain how the latest treaty of amity between Essex and the Queen was prospering, being now of some six months' duration, and on what terms they stood to each other in March, 1597.
It was not to be supposed that the King of Spain would take the capture of Cadiz and the destruction of his shipping quietly: and rumours of great naval preparations aimed at England or Ireland were rife during the winter. The alarm grew hotter as the fighting season approached, and it was resolved to set forth another expedition of sea and land forces to meet him. With this resolution came the first severe trial which Essex's improved courtship had to endure. In the Tiltyard and the Presence, where he naturally without dispute took the first place, love and loyalty supported him under many afflictions. But a war with Spain, and anybody but himself to enjoy the glory of it, was more than his spirit could endure. As early as the 25th of February we find that he had been keeping his chamber (under pretence of sickness, but really in discontent) “for a full fortnight;" the ground of discontent being apparently the appointment of colleagues; for it is added, that “her Majesty had resolved to break him of his will and pull down his great heart: who found it a thing impossible, and says he holds it from the mother's side;" and
that on being told by her“ that Lord Thomas Howard and Sir Walter Ralegh were to be joined with him in equal authority,” he had “ refused to go, and been well chidden for it."l And though it was understood that all was well again then (Feb. 25) between him and the Queen, we find him on the 4th of March still at enmity with Sir Robert Cecil, and (in spite of Ralegh's mediation, who had been trying to reconcile them) on the point of quitting the Court and making a journey into Wales.
About the same time another quarrel arose upon the appointment to the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports, vacant by the death of Lord Cobham (March 6); whose eldest son, an enemy of the Earl's, was one of the competitors. Essex wished Sir Robert Sydney to have the place ; but finding the Queen resolute in favour of the new Lord Cobham, and “ seeing he is likely to carry it away, I mean (said the Earl) resolutely to stand for it myself against him. ... My Lord Treasurer is come to Court, and we sat in council this afternoon in his chamber. I made it known unto them that I had just cause to hate the Lord Cobham, for his villanous dealing and abusing of me: that he hath been my chief persecutor most injustly; that in him there is no worth: if therefore her Majesty would grace him with honour, I may have right cause to think myself little regarded by her.”2 This was on Monday: on the following Saturday, we learn from the same reporter how the quarrel ended. “My Lord of Essex stood for the Cinque Ports; but the Queen told him that the now Lord Cobham should have it. Whereupon he was resolved to leave the Court, and upon Thursday morning, 10th March, himself, his followers, and horses were ready. He went to speak with my Lord Treasurer about ten o'clock, and by Somerset House Mr. Killigrew met him, and willed him to come to the Queen. After some speech had privately with her, she made him Master of the Ordnance, which place he hath accepted and receives contentment by it."'3
Here then we see the same dangerous game, which Bacon so earnestly deprecated, once more played and won : a fact not to be forgotten with reference to the growing troubles and fatal termination of his fortune, which we shall shortly witness. But my object in mentioning these particulars at present is only to establish a fact which helps to date the three following letters : namely, that for a month and more before the 10th of March, 1596-7, the Queen and the Earl had been on terms of mutual dissatisfaction, and that the reconciliation was brought about by a violent proceeding on the
Another fact, which though trivial in itself happens to be material 1 Sydn. Pap. ii. 19. 2 Sydn. Pap. ii. 26.
3 Sydn. Pap. ii. 27.
in reference to the same point, I learn from the same authority, which is, that at the end of February and the beginning of March the weather was unusually severe, and Burghley confined to his chamber and prevented from attending to his business as usual, in consequence of it.
If to these I could but add a third, namely that in the early part of this same year, probably between Hilary and Easter Term, a plan was in agitation for procuring some change of places among the law officers which would have made room for Bacon, I should have little doubt that I had fixed my date correctly : for everything would then fit into its place. Of this however I can find no direct evidence, and only offer it as a conjecture. But it is a conjecture involving no improbability : for indeed it could hardly have been otherwise. While the office of Master of the Rolls continued vacant there was sure to be some project on foot for filling it. It is known that Serjeant Hele had hopes :' and Bacon believed that there was a plot between Coke and the Attorney of the Wards--the one to go to the Rolls and the other to be made Attorney-General.2 Fleming in that case would probably be a competitor for one of the offices. And in any case a place would be vacated to which Bacon might naturally succeed.
Assuming then that in a fit of very cold weather in the beginning of March, while Burghley was confined by illness, and Essex was in one of his eclipses, some such arrangement was in agitation, the letters which follow will be found sufficiently intelligible and consistent.
TO THE LORD TREASURER.3
may please your good Lordship,
I am to give you humble thanks for your favourable opinion, which by Mr. Secretary's report I find you conceive of me, for the obtaining of a good place, which some of my honourable friends have wished unto me nec opinanti. I will use no reason to persuade your Lordship’s mediation but this; that your Lordship and my other friends shall in this beg my life of the Queen; for I see well the Bar will be my Bier, as I must and will use it rather than my poor estate or reputation shall decay. But I stand indifferent whether God call me, or her Majesty. Had Egerton Papers, p. 315.
? See letter to Egerton, p. 63. Rawley's 'Resuscitatio,' Supplement, p. 88.
This may have been either the Solicitorship, to be vacated by the promotion of Fleming: or the Attorneyship of the Wards, to be vacated by that of Hesketh. See the next letter to Burghley, p. 52. Not the Rolls : for if Burghley had ever favoured his pretensions to that office, it would have certainly been mentioned in the enumeration of his favours.
I that in possession, which by your Lordship's only means, against the greatest opposition, her Majesty granted me, I would never trouble her Majesty, but serve her still voluntarily without pay. Neither do I in this more than obey my friends' conceits, as one that would not be wholly wanting to myself. Your Lordship’s good opinion doth somewhat confirm me, as that I take comfort in above all others; assuring your Lordship that I never thought so well of myself for any one thing, as that I have found a fitness, to my thinking, in myself to observe and revere your virtues. For the continuance whereof, in the prolonging of your days, I will still be your beadsman; and accordingly at this time commend your Lordship to the Divine protection.
To SIR JOHN STANHOPE, Sir,
Your good promises sleep, which it may seem now no time to awake; but that I do not find that any general kalendar of observation of time serveth for the Court: and besides, if that be done which I hope by this time is done, and that other matter shall be done which we wish may be done, I hope to my poor matter the one of these great matters may clear the way and the other give the occasion. And though my Lord Treasurer be absent, whose health nevertheless will enable him to be sooner at Court than is expected, especially if this hard weather (too hard to continue) shall relent,” yet we abroad say, his Lordship’s spirit may be there though his person be away. Once I take for a good ground that her Majesty's business ought to keep neither vacation nor holy-day, either in the execution or in the care and preparation of those whom her Majesty calleth and useth: and therefore I would think no time barred from remembering that, with such discretion and respect as appertaineth. The conclusion shall be, to put you in mind to maintain that
Rawley's 'Resuscitatio,' Supplement, p. 87.
"My Lord Treasurer is not well; the sharpness of the weather makes him keep in.” Rowland Whyte to Sir R. Sydney, 28 Feb., 1596. “Until my Lord Treasurer be well, whose hands are bound up this cold weather.” Same to same, 4th March, 1596. “Yours . . . for my Lord Treasurer, I gave Mr. Secretary, because his father hath not suffered anybody to trouble him with letter or anything else these four or five days. They say he is ill, and hath a great heat in his mouth and throat.” Same to same, 16th March. My Lord Treasurer now admits access to such as have business with him, and I hope the fairness of the weather will bring him to Court.” Same to same, 19th March.