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The poverty which in the summer of 1597 was still coming on Bacon like one that travelleth, came in the autumn of 1598 like a sheriff's officer. A money-lender who held his bond for £300 had sued him for it in Trinity Term of that year, but agreed to “respite the satisfaction" till the beginning of the term next ensuing. A full fortuight however before Michaelmas Term began, (without any warning and upon what pretence we are not informed) he served an execution upon him and had hiin arrested as he came from the Tower, where he was engaged in business of the Learned Counsel; in which he see
seems now to have taken bis part, though a subordinate one, as a matter of
All we know of the case is contained in the two next letters, which I leave to tell their own story. The originals were found by Murdin in the Hatfield collection of state papers, and communicated by him to Birch, who included them in a volume entitled 'Letters, Speeches, etc., of Francis Bacon,' published in 1763; from which they are here taken.
To Sir ROBERT CECIL, SECRETARY OF STATE. It may please your Honour,
I humbly pray you to understand how badly I have been used by the enclosed, being a copy of a letter of complaint thereof, which I have written to the Lord Keeper. How sensitive you are of wrongs offered to your blood in my particular, I have had not long since experience. But herein I think your Honour will be doubly sensitive, in tenderness also of the indignity to her Majesty's service. For as for me, Mr. Sympson might have had me every day in London; and therefore to belay me, while he knew I came from the Tower about her Majesty's special service, was to my understanding very bold. And two days before he
brags he forbore me, because I dined with sheriff More. with Mr. Sympson, examinations at the Tower are not so great a privilege, cundo et redeundo, as sheriff More's dinner. But this complaint I make in duty; and to that end have also informed my Lord of Essex thereof; for otherwise his punishment will do me no good.
So with signification of my humble duty, I commend your Honour to the divine preservation. From Coleman Street, this 24th of September, [1598.] At your honourable command particularly,
To Sir Thomas EGERTON, LORD KEEPER OF the GREAT
It may please your Lordship,
I am to make humble complaint to your Lordship of some hard dealing offered me by one Sympson, a goldsmith, a man noted much, as I have heard, for extremities and stoutness upon his purse: but yet I could scarcely have imagined, he would have dealt either so dishonestly towards myself, or so contemptuously towards her Majesty's service. For this Lombard (pardon me, I most humbly pray your Lordship, if being admonished by the street he dwells in, I give him that name) having me in bond for £300 principal, and I having the last term confessed the action, and by his full and direct consent respited the satisfaction till the beginning of this term to come, without ever giving me warning either by letter or message, served an execution upon me, having trained me at such time as I came from the Tower, where, Mr. Waad can witness, we attended a service of no mean importance. Neither would he so much as vouchsafe to come and speak with me to take any order in it, though I sent for him divers times, and his house was just by; handling it as upon a despite, being a man I never provoked with a cross word, no nor with many delays. He would have urged it to have had me in prison ; which he had done, had not sheriff More, to whom I sent, gently recommended me to an handsome house in Coleman Street, where I am. Now because he will not treat with me, I am enforced humbly to desire your Lordship to send for him, according to your place, to bring him to some reason; and this forthwith, bc.
cause I continue here to my further discredit and inconvenience, and the trouble of the gentleman with whom I am.
I have an hundred pounds lying by me, which he may have, and the rest upon some reasonable time and security; or, if need be, the whole; but with my more trouble. As for the contempt he hath offered, in regard her Majesty's service, to my understanding, carrieth a privilege eundo et redeundo in meaner causes, much more in matters of this nature, especially in persons known to be qualified with that place and employment, which, though unworthy, I am vouchsafed, I enforce nothing; thinking I have done my part when I have made it known; and so leave it to your Lordship’s honourable consideration. And so with signification of my humble duty, etc.
The service in the Tower from which Bacon was returning when thus interrupted, and of which Mr. Waad could witness the importance, was no doubt the examination (taken on the 23rd of September, 1598, before Peyton, Waad, and himself) of John Stanley.
The case under investigation was one of those conspiracies for the assassination of Elizabeth, got up by the Popish refugees in Spain, which had become so frequent of late years; and of which (as they all failed, some through the vigilance of the Government, and some, like the present, from the weakness of the means employed) it is difficult in a world so changed to feel the true importance in relation to the business of that day. It has become the fashion, upon a general assumption that the Government by the control they had over the evidence could convict anybody of anything, and that they used their power without any scruple, to treat all such stories with contempt. But if the records show that evidence was in those days both obtained and used in a manner which would not now be thought fair, they show also that a vast deal of labour and ingenuity was spent in extracting it; and that when a man was arrested on suspicion of treason his trial and conviction did not by any means follow as a matter of course. Long delays intervened. Sheets upon sheets of interro. gatories were carefully drawn up. All the answers were taken down in writing and authenticated by the signatures of all the examiners present. Fresh evidence was taken upon the hints derived from what had been obtained before. Often it happened that this evidence was not found sufficient, and the charge was dropped. Often, after
IS. P. .: Domestic.
public trial and conviction, a history of the case was put forth for public satisfaction. All which implies that the authorities of those days were careful of their reputation for justice, anxious in all public proceedings of that nature to have the feeling of the people with them, and differed from ourselves rather in the way they went about it than in respect for the thing.
The case with which we are concerned at present was an attempt to poison the Queen, which had been made in July, 1597, and failed; and about which no suspicion had been raised at the time. not till May, 1598, I believe, that the Government heard of it;' not till October that they made the story out. A strange story, and in some parts hard to believe : but certainly resting upon admissions made by the accused party under cross-examination, which it is still harder to account for if they were false. As a fact in the history of criminal proceedings, it is still a curiosity worth preserving. And it happens to have been preserved in a manner which gives it a literary interest as well.
Early in 1599 there appeared from the press of the Queen's printer a pamphlet, purporting to be a letter written by a gentleman in England to a friend in Padua, giving a full account of it: and though the writer's name was not mentioned, I have no doubt, judging by the style, that it was written by Bacon. Whether it was really a private letter, a copy of which being shown to the Queen, she resolved to have it printed by authority (which is not unlikely, for both the Bacons had correspondents in Italy, who used to send them "relations” of affairs there); or whether it was originally drawn up for publication, the form of a private letter being chosen to avoid the appearance of a " too curious and striving apology,"3 I cannot say; nor is it a matter of any consequence. It was reprinted in Bishop Carleton's " Thankful Remembrance,' where I first met with it, and whence, not having been able to see the original, I have taken this copy. Another copy was published long after as a pamphlet, entitled, ' Authentic Memoirs of that exquisitely villainous Jesuit, Father Richard Walpole. Being the Copy of a Letter written from London by a Gentleman to his friend, another English Gentleman, residing at Padua, in Italy : laying open his abominable practices and base dealings with that wicked traitor, Edward Squire,' etc. etc. This copy, which appeared in 1733, and professes to be taken from a manuscript, varies considerably from Carleton's; but is probably a less correct representation of the original; for the differences are due I think to the editor, who has apparently taken pains to correct and modernize the English, and in some
| Chamberlain to Carleton, 4th May, 1598. S. P. O. 2 See Birch's Memoirs, ii. 91, 92, 173.
3 See above, Vol. I. p. 96.
places to strengthen the effect by epithets. It has the date “Dec. 23, 1598;” which is probably correct, and which Carleton does not give : and a postscript, which though short I do not think it worth while to reprint, judging from the style that it has been either added entirely by some other hand, or greatly altered. A copy of the original edition was sent to Dudley Carleton, the Bishop's brother, by Chamberlain, on the 1st of March, 1598-9: with the remark that it was "well written,” but without any speculation as to the writer. In ascribing it to Bacon I rely entirely on the internal evidence-which in this case however is to me almost as conclusive as the discovery of a draft in his own handwriting would be. The external evidence goes no further than to show that Bacon was in a position to write it. He was certainly present at many of the examinations ;' probably present at the trial; and had a right to know everything that he tells. The original examinations and confessions may still be seen in the State Paper Office; and I have given references in the notes to the places in which authority will be found for some of the more important statements in the text.
A LETTER WRITTEN OUT OF ENGLAND TO AN ENGLISHI
GENTLEMAN REMAINING IN PADUA,
tween Edward Squire, lately executed for the same treason,
printed by the deputies of C. Barker. 1599. Sir,
I thank you for your relation of Ferrera ; and to make you payment in the like commodities, I return to you a true report of a fresh accident of state happened here with us; memorable for the strangeness of the matter; and the great significance it carrieth with it of God's extraordinary and most visible providence; but otherwise worthy to be damned to perpetual oblivion, as well for the detestable nature of the fact, as yet more (if more were possible) for the impiety of the persuasion; such as I assure you a man ought to make scruple to infame the times or infect men's cogitations with the repetition of it, were it not that these works of darkness are framed and forged in such a deep vault of
See S.P. O. Sept. 23, Oct. 11, Nov. 3. ? This is the title as given in Oldys's catalogue of pamphlets in the Harleian Library. Carleton gives a similar description of it, but not the title itself.