Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

which

you have kindly begun, according to the reliance I have upon the sincerity of your affection and the soundness of your judgment. And so I commend you to God's preservation.

TO MY LORD OP Essex.

My Lord,

I am glad your Lordship hath plunged out of your own business. Wherein I must commend your Lordship, as Xenophon commended the state of his country; which was thus :: that having chosen the worst form of government of all others, they governed the best in that kind. Hoc pace et veniá tud, according to my charter. Now, as your Lordship is my witness that I would not trouble you whilst your own cause was in hand (though that I know that the further from the term the better the time was to deal for me); so, that being concluded, I presume I shall be one of your next cares. And having communicated with my brother of some course, either to perfit the first or to make me some other way; or rather by seeming to make me some other way to perfit the first; wherewith he agreed to acquaint your Lordship; I am desirous for mine own better satisfaction to speak with your Lordship myself: which I had rather were somewhere else than at Court, and as soon as your Lordship will assign me to wait on you. And so in, etc.

The next letter was probably written later. But I cannot find anything by which to fix the date within any narrow limits. This however seems as likely to be its proper place in order of time as any other, and in order of matter it will come in here very conveniently.

TO THE LORD TREASURER BURGHLEY. Most honourable, and my very good Lord,

I know I may commit an error in writing this letter, both in a time of great and weighty business, as also when myself am not induced thereto by any new particular occasion; and therefore your Lordship may impute to me either levity or ignorance what appertaineth to good respects and forwardness of dealing,

Rawley's 'Resuscitatio,' Supplement, p. 86. 2 this in original.

Hilary Term ended 13th February. Easter Term began 18th April. Essex's patent as Master of the Ordnance was signed 18th April. Rawley's 'Resuscitatio,' Supplement, p. 90.

1

3

especially to an honourable person, in whom there is such concurrence of magnitudo honoris et oneris, as it is hard to say whether is the greater. But I answer myself first, that I have ever noted it as a part of your Lordship’s excellent wisdom, parvis componere magna ;

that
you

do not exclude inferior inatters of access, amongst the care of great. And for myself, I thought it would better manifest what I desire to express, if I did write out of a deep and settled consideration of mine own duty, rather than upon the spur of a particular occasion. And therefore (my singular good Lord) ex abundantia cordis, I must acknowledge how greatly and diversly your Lordship hath vouchsafed to tie me unto you by many your benefits. The reversion of the office which your Lordship only procured unto me, and carried through great and vehement opposition, though it yet bear no fruit, yet it is one of the fairest flowers of my poor estate; your Lordship's constant and serious endeavours to have me Solicitor; your late honourable wishes for the place of the Wards;' together with your Lordship’s attempt to give me way by the remove of Mr. Solicitor;" they be matters of singular obligation : besides many other favours, as well by your Lordship’s grants from yourself, as by your commendation to others, which I have had for my help; and may justly persuade myself, out of the few denials I have received, that fewer mought have been, if mine own industry and good hap had been answerable to your Lordship’s good

But on the other side, I most humbly pray your Lordship’s pardon if I speak it. The time is yet to come that your Lordship did ever use or command or employ me in my profession, in any services or occasions of your Lordship’s own, or such as are near unto your Lordship; which hath made me fear sometimes that your Lordship doth more honourably affect me, than throughly discern of my most humble and dutiful affection to your Lordship again. Which if it were not in me, I know not whether I were unnatural, unthankful, or unwise. This causeth me most humbly to pray your Lordship (and I know mine own case too well to speak it as weening I can do your Lordship service, but as willing to do it) to believe that your Lordship is

ness.

1 Attorney of the Wards, probably. This may have been the place alluded to in the previous letter, which some of Bacon's friends " had wished unto him, nec opinanti.

2 Fleming, who had been made Solicitor on the 6th November, 1595. 3 knew in the original.

upon just title a principal owner and proprietary of that, I cannot call talent, but mite, that God hath given me; which I ever do and shall devote to your service. And in like humble manner I pray your Lordship to pardon mine errors, and not to impute unto me the errors of any other(which I know also themselves have by this time left and forethought); but to conceive of me to be a man that daily profiteth in duty. It is true I do in part comfort myself, supposing that it is my weakness and insufficiency that moveth your Lordship, who hath so general a command, to use others more able. But let it be as it is; for duty only and homage I will boldly undertake that nature and true thankfulness shall never give place to a politic dependence. Lastly, I most humbly desire your Lordship to continue unto me the good favour and countenance and encouragement in the course of my poor travails, whereof I have had some taste and experience; for the which I yield your Lordship my very humble good thanks. And so again, craving your Honour's pardon for so long a letter, carrying so empty an offer of so unpuissant a service, but yet a true and unfeigned signification of an honest and vowed duty, I cease; commending your Lordship to the preservation of the Divine Majesty.

2.

Whatever the project was, it is plain that it had come to nothing. Bacon's fortunes are still as they were; only with this differencethat as the calls on his income are increasing in the shape of interest for borrowed money, the income itself is diminishing through the sale of lands and leases. At this juncture (12th March, 1596-7) Sir William Hatton died; leaving a young widow, clever, handsome, and well provided : daughter of Sir Thomas Cecil, whose step-mother was Bacon's aunt: probably therefore an early acquaintance. What sort of person she was or seemed to be in those years, I do not find reported. There can be no doubt that the worst disease under which Bacon was at present labouring would have been effectually relieved by a wealthy marriage; and I have no reason to suppose that this particular marriage would have been otherwise ineligible. It is certain at any rate that he did make up his mind to try his fortune with the young widow,- certain also that nothing came of it. But this, sorry

say,

is all we know. He asked the Earl of Essex to Alluding probably to his brother Anthony, who thought Burghley had used him ill, and had expressed himself very freely on the subject.

I am

to

1

write to her parents and to herself on his behalf; who wrote accordingly :--but whether the affair proceeded any further--whether Bacon proposed to her parents or to herself; whether he proposed at all; and, if he proposed, how, why, and by whom he was rejected--all this must remain in obscurity. The letter which comes next—without which I believe it would not be known that he had ever entertained such a project-contains, so far as I am aware, all that is known about it.

The few words relating to the forth-going expedition, with which the same letter concludes, are of more interest to us. It

may be the knowledge of what is coming that gives a significance and solemnity to such passages beyond their natural import; but to me there is a tragic pathos in these continually repeated notes of warning, so lightly touched, yet so full of sad foreboding, and so terribly justified by the coming event which they foreshadowed.

How far Essex was concerned in the original project of this expedition is doubtful. He said himself that the Queen “had armed and victualled ten of her own ships and caused the States of the Low Countries to furnish the like number, before ever he was spoken of to go to sea ;” and it is true—so at least the rumour ran at the time -that when a co-ordinate command was offered him, he refused to go. But from the time that the scope of the enterprise was enlarged and the sole command offered to hin,self, it appears from his own account that he entirely approved and urged it forward. He made no doubt that he should destroy both the fleet and army then collected at Ferrol, and so have the Spanish commerce, coasts, and islands at his mercy.' And as a further proof how well he liked the service, we find that immediately after his nomination as commander-in-chief he laid his rivalries and jealousies aside, made friends with Sir Robert Cecil, and saw without discontent Ralegh used graciously by the Queen and coming boldly to the Privy Chamber as he was wont. It seems too that Bacon had talked of it with bim at the time, as an action of which, if not the author, he was at least the favourer. I remember" (says he) “I was thus plain with him upon his voyage to the islands, when I saw every spring put forth such actions of charge and provocation, that I said to him, My Lord, when I came first unto you, I took you for a physician that desired to cure the diseases of the State ; but now I doubt you will be like those physicians which can be content to keep their patients low because they will be always in request.'” And indeed whatever Bacon may have thought of the policy of the expedition in itself, we need not doubt that he regretted the part which Essex was to have in it. After what he had said in

1 Essor's Apology. ? Sydn. Pap., 2nd June, 1597. 3 Bacon's Apology.

“Nay

October of the conduct which he wished him to pursue, to find him engaged in a new military enterprise next May could be no matter of congratulation. But when the following letter was written, the decision had been taken : Essex had accepted the commission, and all that could be done was to excite him to discharge it worthily, thinking of the thing and not of the glory.

TO MY LORD OF Essex.) My singular good Lord,

Your Lordship’s so honourable minding my poor fortune the last year, in the very entrance into that great action (which is a time of less leisure), and in so liberal an allowance of your care as to write three letters to stir me up friends in your absence, doth after a sort warrant me not to object to myself your present quantity of affairs, whereby to silence myself from petition of the like favour. I brake with your Lordship myself at the Tower, and I take it my brother hath since renewed the same motion, touching a fortune I was in thought to attempt in genere æconomico. In genere politico, certain cross winds have blown contrary. My suit to your Lordship is for your several letters to be left with me, dormant, to the gentlewoman and either of her parents; wherein I do not doubt but as the beams of

your

favour have often dissolved the coldness of my fortune, so in this argument your Lordship will do the like with your pen. My desire is also, that your Lordship would vouchsafe unto me, as out of your care, a general letter to my Lord Keeper, for his Lordship’s holding me from you recommended, both in the course of my practice and in the course of my employment in her Majesty's service. Wherein if your Lordship shall in any antithesis or relation affirm that his Lordship shall have no less fruit of me than of any other whom he may cherish, I hope your Lordship shall engage yourself for no impossibility. Lastly and chiefly, I know not what whether I shall attain to see your Lordship before your noble journey; for ceremonies are things infinitely inferior to my love and to my zeal. This let me, with your allowance, say unto you by pen. It is true that in my well-meaning advices, out of my love to your Lordship, and perhaps out of the state of mine own mind, I have sometimes persuaded a course differing; ac tibi pro tutis insignia facta placebunt. Be it so: yet remember,

| Resuscitatio, Supplement, p. 112.

« AnteriorContinuar »