Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

in 1657,

tells us,

that elegant pile or structure commonly known by the name of the Lord Bacon's Lodgings; which he inhabited by turns the most part of his life (some few years only excepted) unto his dying day.” “ The apartments in which Lord Bacon resided,” says Mr. Montagu," are said to be at No. 1, Gray's Inn Square, on the north side, one pair of stairs; I visited them in June, 1832. They are said to be, and they appear to be, in the same state in which they must have been for the last two centuries; handsome oak wainscot, and a beautiful ornament over the chimney-piece."

" In the garden,” Mr. Montagu adds, " there was, till within the last three or four years, a small elevation surrounded by trees, called Lord Bacon's Mount, and there was a legend that the trees were planted by him ; they were removed to raise the new building now on the west side of the garden, and they stood about three-fourths from the south end.” The elms in the walks were also planted by Bacon, when he was Double Reader, in the

Mr. Montagu gives from the original preserved among the Lansdowne MSS. a letter of Bacon's to Lord Burghley, dated 6th May, 1586, from which, he says,

it Bacon had some time before applied to the Lord Treasurer to be called within the bar, or to be made what was then called an inner barrister. But this was no doubt merely his application to be made a bencher, his promotion to which rank Mr. Montagu has previously noticed. The inner barristers of that day were the benchers and readers, the term having reference to the bar, not of the court, but of the hall of the inn, and the place occupied by them at the readings and exercises of the house. The letter, however, is interesting for what Bacon says of his own disposition and habits at this date. 6 I find also,” he writes, “ that such persons as are of nature bashful (as myself is), whereby they want that plausible familiarity which others have, are often mistaken for proud. But once I know well, and I most humbly, bescech your Lordship to believe, that arrogancy and over-weening is so far from my nature, as, if I think

year 1600.

appears that

66

well of myself in anything, it is in this, that I am free from that vice.” In his thirtieth year, according to Mr. Montagu (meaning apparently the year 1589), Bacon was appointed Queen's Counsel learned extraordipary,

an honour," it is added, “ which until that time had never been conferred upon any member of the profession.” Rawley calls a grace (if I err not) scarce known before."*

It appears to have been from about this date that Bacon began to attach himself to the prevalent royal favourite, the Earl of Essex. Nevertheless, it was about this very timet that his relations the Cecils, hostile as they were to Essex and his faction, procured for him the reversion of the valuable place of Register of the Star Chamber. It was worth about 1600l. per annum;

66 for

* Mr. Jardine, in Criminal Trials' (“Library of Entertaining Knowledge '), 1832, vol. i. p. 385, note, observes that " it does not distinctly appear at what time Bacon received his nomination as Queen's Counsel.” Mr. Jardine adds, “ He is said to have been the first King's Counsel under the degree of Sergeant."

† We do not find that Mr. Montagu anywhere assigns a precise date to this appointment, although he notices it under the

year 1591 (Life,' p. xxvi.). But Dugdale (in Baconi. ana,' p. 247) states that Bacon was made one of the Clerks of the Council in 32 Eliz., quoting as his authority the Patent Rolls of that year, p. 11. The 32 Eliz. extended from Nov. 1589 to Nov. 1590. This, we suppose, is the same appointment which Rawley designates as that of Register of the Star Chamber; the Judges of the Court of Star Chamber having been the Lords of the Council, or chief ministers of the crown. Indeed it is clear, from a comparison of various passages in the Egerton Papers (edited by Mr. Collier for the Camden Society, 4to. London, 1840), that the office of which Bacon held the reversion, was called indifferently the Clerkship of the Council, or the Clerkship of the Star Chamher (Confer pp. 272 and 429). Mr. Collier, however, would appear to be mistaken in his assertion, at p. 266, that Bacon did not obtain the reversion of the Clerkship of the Star Chamber till some time after his disappointment in regard to the office of Solicitor-General.

which,” says Rawley, “he waited in expectation either fully or near twenty years; of which his lordship would say, in Queen Elizabeth's time, that it was like another man's ground buttaling Cabutting) upon his house, which might mend his prospect, but it did not fill his barn, Nevertheless, in the time of King James it fell unto him.” But it can scarcely be made matter of charge against Elizabeth or her ministers, as the worthy chap, lain in his real would almost make it, that the office did not become vacant sooner. Bacon's failure in obtaining any present provision, he goes on, might be imputed, not so much to her Majesty's averseness or disaffection towards him, as to the arts and policy of a great statesman then [he means Burghley), who laboured by all industrious and secret means to suppress and keep him down; lest, if he had risen, he might have obscured his glory. According to Mr. Collier (Egerton Papers, p. 269), “ there is some reason to think that Bacon at one time acted as private secretary to Sir Robert Cecil.” But this was perhaps at a date considerably later; for the letter which res occasion to the remark, and which is stated to be addressed in the hand-writing of Bacon, is dated the 25th of December, 1597.

Long ere now, however, Bacon had commenced his career as a politician. Instead of having, as is commonly stated, first entered parliament in 1592, it appears

from Browne Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria and D'Ewes's Journals that he had sat in every House of Commons from the fifth parliament of Elizabeth, which met in 1585. He was returned to that parliament for Melcombe Regis ; to Elizabeth's sixth parliament, whieh met in 1586, for Taunton; to her seventh, which met in 1588, for Liverpool; to her eighth, which met in 1592, for Middlesex ; to her ninth, which met in 1597, for Ipswich; to her tenth, which met in 1601, for both Ipswich and St. Alban's, when he elected to serve for the former place; to James's first parliament, which met in 1603, again for the same two places, when he elected, as before, to serve for Ipswich; and tó James's second parliament, which met in 1614, for St. Alban's, for Ipswich, and for the University of Cambridge, when he elected to serve for the last. It seems to have been in the more spacious arena of the House of Commons that Bacon's eloquence first broke forth so as to attract observation. One account, indeed, is, that it was not till 1594 that he made his first pleading at the bar, his previous professional practice having been confined to his chambers, or at the most to the inferior courts.* The description that has been given of his oratory by Ben Jonson would seem to have a special reference to his speaking in Parliament :-" There happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking. His language, where he could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious (censorlike). No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him, without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end.”+

In 1592, also, appeared Bacon's first publication, as far as is known: * Certain Observations upon a Libel published this present year, 1592, entituled A Declaration of the True Causes of the Great Troubles presupposed to be intended against the Realm of England.' It will fall to be noticed when we come to give an account of his political writings.

On the promotion of Sir Edward Coke to be Attorney

* B. Brit. 2nd edit., vol. i. p. 494.

+ Discoveries ;' Works, by Gifford, ix. 184. To Jonson we are also indebted for the knowledge of a peculiarity in his manner of speaking :-"My Lord Chancellor of England wringeth his speeches from the strings of his band, and other counsellors from the picking of their teeth."-Conversations with Drummond, edited by Mr. D. Laing for Shakespeare Society, 8vo. Lond., 1842, p. 25.

6

General, in April, 1594, Bacon became a candidate for the vacant office of Solicitor-General ; but another person was eventually appointed. Upon this the Earl of Essex, who had exerted himself in his friend's behalf with extraordinary zeal, and took his failure much to heart, munificently presented him with an estate near Twickenham, which he afterwards sold for 18001. The fact has been circumstantially related by Bacon himself.

In 1596 he completed and dedicated to the Queen A Collection of some of the Principal Rules and Maxims of the Common Law, with their Latitude and Extent;' but this work was not published till 1630, some years after the author's death, when it was printed along with another tract subsequently written, ' The Use of the Law, for Preservation of our persons, goods, and good names, according to the practice of the laws and customs of this land ;' both being included under the title of “The Elements of the Common Law of England.'*

And now we come to the publication of the first edition of the Essays, which appeared in a small 8vo. volume, with the following title :— Essayes. Religious Meditations. Places of Perswasion and Disswasion. Seene and allowed. At London. Printed for Humfrey Hooper, and are to be sold at the blacke Beare in Chauncery Lane. 1597.' Only the leaves are numbered, and there are 45 of them in all, in two series; of which the first, extending to 13 leaves, is occupied with the Essays. The 14th leaf presents the following new title:— Meditationes Sacrae. Londini. Excudebat Johannes Windet. 1597.' Then follow, on 14 more leaves, the Meditationes Sacrae, in Latin, being the same that are called the Religious Meditations on the first or general titlepage.

The leaf numbered 16 of this second series presents a third title :—'Of the Coulers of good and evill, a fragment. 1597 ;' and it is followed by 16 leaves con

* Mr. Montagu, however (* Life,' p. xxxv.) appears to con, sider the Maxims' and the Use' as having originally formed one work. The Dedication to Elizabeth, and the Preface, clearly apply only to the Maxims.'

« AnteriorContinuar »