Imagens das páginas

vein, and the first of them which has been published is dated 4th April, 1600. This one, and those which follow, all show evidence of Bacon's assistance, with the possible exception of the last, beginning, "This is but one of the many letters which, since I saw your Maj., I wrote but never sent unto you."


The following is the list of the letters published by Devereux with the date, where given, and the page in vol. ii of his Lives:




[ocr errors]


I. "That I presume now again," 4th April, 1600
"Before all letters written in this hand," 12th May, 1600...
If I had lost no more but liberty," June (after the York
House trial)
"Rather think him dead," July (after release from his

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

In this long trance," 26th July




[ocr errors][merged small]




[blocks in formation]

"Pardon, oh! pardon,” 26th August (after his full release)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"If conscience did not tell me " (suit for the renewal of the

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"If I should as often present," 18th October
'Vouchsafe, dread sovereign," (written for Queen's day),
17th November

[ocr errors]





12. "This is but one of the many letters" (mentioned above), possibly the last letter, but this is uncertain

[blocks in formation]

It may be said that Bacon could not have written the first three of these letters, because there is a letter from him to the Earl dated July 20, 1600, which is taken to be the first communication he had with Essex since he wrote to him on his arrival in England'; also because it would appear from the passage which I have quoted from the Apology, at p. 79 above, that he did not write to the Earl until he

1 Devereux, Lives, ii. 129.

* Spedding, Letters and Life, ii. 190, a letter offering his good offices, subject to his superior duty to the Queen.

'A letter offering the Earl" the humble salutations of him that is more yours than any man's, and more yours than any man" Ibid. ii. 150. In the Apology the occasion is described as a quarter of an hour's interview.


[ocr errors]

could safely do so, namely after his conditional release (July, 1600). But I place no reliance on the form of that letter because it was evidently written, together with the reply to it by Essex, to be shown to the Queen, like the "framed" letters between Essex and Anthony Bacon which were composed in the same way.1 It will be asked what ground I have for this statement. The answer is contained in the style of the Essex letter which is manifestly Bacon's. Moreover it makes Essex say that he is a stranger to all poetical conceits," and yet conclude the letter with one of peculiar magnificence. (Icarus falling at the feet of the Queen). The same repudiation of connection with poets is also found in the letter from Essex to Fulke Greville on the subject of his studies-a letter which is now universally recognised as Bacon's work-" For poets I can commend none, being resolved to be ever a stranger to them.”2 This from the man who is supposed to have befriended Spenser! The times were dangerous, and I regard these expressions as ingenious precautions of the writer to protect himself from the doubts which were going about as to the authorship of such works as the play of Richard II.; for if Essex never associated with poets Bacon could not be one. For the rest, the object of these two letters was to pave the way for the letters from Essex to the Queen which, as we have seen Bacon in his Apology says he "drew for him by his appointment," and to prove to the Queen that Bacon had not held previous communication with the Earl, and that his intercession for him then was subject to his superior duty to her. Manifestly therefore no inference as to facts can safely be drawn from them. Also the following passage from the Apology, which refers to the latter end of 1599, raises a very strong presumption that Bacon kept up some communication with Essex during the whole time of his restraint :


And as it sometimes cometh to pass, that men's inclinations are opened more in a toy than in a serious matter: A little before that


1 See Spedding, Letters and Life, ii. 197-201.

* Spedding, Letters and Life, ii. 25. Compare the passage from the Apology quoted on this page and the next.

time, being about the middle of Michaelmas term, her Majesty had a purpose to dine at my lodge at Twickenham Park, at which time I had (though I profess not to be a poet) prepared a sonnet directly tending and alluding to draw on her Majesty's reconcilement to my Lord which I remember also I showed to a great person, and one of my Lord's nearest friends, who commended it: this, though it be (as I said) but a toy, yet it shewed plainly in what spirit I proceeded, and that I was ready not only to do my Lord good offices, but to publish and declare myself for him: and never was so ambitious of any thing in my lifetime, as I was to have carried some token or favour from her Majesty to my Lord; using all the art I had, both to procure her Majesty to send, and myself to be the messenger: for as to the former, I feared not to allege to her, that this proceeding toward my Lord was a thing towards the people very unplausible; and therefore wished her Majesty, however she did, yet to discharge herself of it, and to lay it upon others and therefore that she should intermix her proceeding with some immediate graces from herself, that the world might take knowledge of her princely nature and goodness, lest it should alienate the hearts of her people from her. Which I did stand upon, knowing very well that if she once relented to send or visit, those demonstrations would prove matters of substance for my good Lord. And to draw that employment upon myself, I advised her Majesty, that whensoever God should move her to turn the light of her favour towards my Lord, to make signification to him thereof, that her Majesty, if she did it not in person, would at the least use some such mean as might not intitle themselves to any part of the thanks, as persons that were thought mighty with her, to work her, or to bring her about; but to use some such as could not be thought but a mere conduit of her own goodness: but I could never prevail with her, though I am persuaded she saw plainly whereat I levelled; but she had me in jealousy, that I was not hers entirely, but still had inward and deep respect towards my Lord, more than stood at that time with her will and pleasure."1

[ocr errors]

To take the letters in order: in No. 1 the remark about "a a lady, a nymph, or an angel" rings false, and is not in the style of Essex. In No. 2 the expression quoted of the Queen that her intention was to correct and not to ruin " is the "ad reparationem non ad ruinam" and the "ad castigationem et non ad destructionem of the Apology, and the words are much more likely to be Bacon's than the Queen's. "Your Majesty's fair correcting hand " also savours of Bacon, and represents the "obsequious" attitude which

1 Spedding, Letters and Life, iii. 148.


he recommended and which Essex was too proud or too sincere to adopt. What also are we to make of the following?

"but as if I were thrown into a corner like a dead carcase, I am gnawed on and torn by the vilest and basest creatures upon Earth. The prating tavern haunter speaks of me what he lists; the frantic libeller writes of me what he lists; already they print me and make me speak to the world, and shortly they will play me in what forms they list upon the stage."

Which seems, in Antony and Cleopatra, to become :

"Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shalt be shown

In Rome, as well as I: mechanic slaves

With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
Uplift us to the view

saucy lictors

Will catch at us, like strumpets; and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o' tune: the quick comedians

Extemporally will stage us, and present

Our Alexandrian revels; Antony

Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness

I' the posture of a whore.

Besides, the popular expressions of feeling were all in favour of Essex; he was not likely therefore to write of himself in this way.

In No. 3 occurs an example of that constant habit of Bacon, which in any one else would be blasphemous, of applying words used in scripture of the Almighty to the sovereign, a habit which grew in him to monstrous proportions under James:

"Domina dedit, Domina abstulit, fiat voluntas Dominae.”

I feel a little doubtful about No. 4, but the abject tone of the conclusion leads me to think it is Bacon rather than Essex. For a similar reason, and because of such a sentence as 'Therefore I say to myself, lie still, look down and be silent," so foreign to the character of Essex, I think he must have been using a draft by Bacon. No. 6, seeking an interview was probably written at Bacon's suggestion. Nos. 7 and 8 seem too artificial for Essex, left to himself. No. 9, the

letter in which the renewal of the patent is asked for, repeats the "ad correctionem non ad ruinam," and it would be quite natural that Bacon, to whom the Earl had entrusted his cause with the Queen, should have helped him in this ticklish petition. He says in his Apology that he defended it before the Queen. In No. 10 the "fair correcting hand" re-appears. No. 11, written on the anniversary of Queen's day (17th Nov.), may be a genuine expression of feeling. About No. 12 I feel very doubtful. It may be from a draft in which Bacon tried the experiment of changing the style and coming back to the old passionate Essex. If so it is very clever. On the other hand it may be Essex himself, and in that case it gives the lie to the whole series. So too does the remark of Essex, reported to have been made by him about this time, which is said by Ralegh to have cost him his head: That" the Queen's mind was as crooked as her carcass." The letter is as follows:

"This is but one of the many letters which, since I saw your Maj., I wrote, but never sent unto you; for to write freely to a Lady that lies in wait for all things that I do or say, were too much hazard: to write in a plausible style, when I have so discontented a heart, were baseness, if not falsehood. To be silent, and to put myself suddenly into a new course of life, might be thought lightness, too much melancholy, and I know not what. By this description your Maj. seeth the state of my mind, full of confusion and contrariety. I sometimes think of running, and then remember what it will be to come in armour triumphing into that presence, out of which both by your own voice I was commanded, and by your hands thrust out. But God knows this is no sudden accident. You may tell those that thirst and gape after my ruin, that you have now an advantage, that, being in a passion, I spake rashly. It is well that you have that you looked for, and so have I. In holding me as you have done of late, you pleased nobody. In making this conclusion of my fortune, you shall please those you seem to favor most. But siste calame, plura de extremis loqui, pars ignava est, et incusare deos vel homines, ejus qui vivere velit."

Bacon has been denounced for his base desertion of Essex, and the view has frequently been expressed that the verdict against the Earl was mainly obtained by his advocacy. I used at one time to share this view, but a closer study of the history, and especially of Bacon's character, has caused me to modify my opinion. I quite admit that Bacon's attitude towards the Earl, in his public capacity, was shameless, but I

« AnteriorContinuar »