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tunately, in Bacon's character to hesitate upon such an alternative.
But there is a charge against him of a deeper dye, which will not admit even of such a wretched excuse. We must remember, that an admirable judge of human nature has pronounced him,
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind;
and that only as a philosopher do we deem him one of the most splendid ornaments of his country.
After the death of Essex, the sarcasms of the people upon the court-party, and even upon the Queen herself, were so severe, that the administration thought it necessary to vindicate their conduct in an appeal to the public. This odious task they artfully assigned to Bacon; and he impiously descended to prostitute his abilities in destroying the surviving fame of his benefactor, who with all his faults was still the general darling. His pamphlet, entitled A Declaration of the Treasons of Robert Earl of Essex,' was, in fact, a declaration that Francis Bacon wished upon any terms to be advanced at court. Here again, however, he was destined to encounter disappointment; and being unable to endure the loss of the public esteem, he drew up as a counter-piece, and addressed to the Earl of Devonshire, The Apology of Francis Bacon, in certain Imputations concerning the Earl of Essex.
+"Of this apology" though certainly far from being satisfactory, "it is but fair," says Chalmers, "that we should give the outline: that he had given the Earl good advice, which he did
being deemed a kind of recantation, he remained unprovided for, and deservedly unpopular till the following reign. So strongly indeed was his conduct execrated, that his very life was threatened, and for some time he went in daily danger of assassination. The obloquy, which he thus incurred, was not removed even by his death; and to this day a stigma justly cleaves to his name, in the writings of more than one historian, for his unparalleled ingratitude to his munificent patron and friend.
To obviate the continuance of this neglect, he successfully ingratiated himself with the Scottish party; and through them his tenders of loyalty and zeal were conveyed to James, who was hardly seated on the English throne, before he conferred upon him the honour of knighthood. In 1604, he farther
not follow; that upon this a coldness ensued, which kept them at a greater distance than formerly; that yet he continued to give counsel to the Earl, and laboured all he could to serve him with the Queen; that, in respect to his last unfortunate act (which was, in truth, an act of madness) he had no knowledge or notice whatever; that he did no more than he was in duty bound to do for the service of the Queen, in the way of his profession; and that the 'Declaration' was put upon him altered, after he had drawn it, both by the ministers and by the Queen herself." The 'Declaration' itself too (it ought, farther, to be observed) was drawn up with such apparent marks of tenderness for Essex's reputation, that Elizabeth, when Bacon read the paper to her, observed Old love, she saw, could not easily be forgotten.'
* During the latter part of this reign, either from pique or from patriotism he frequently by his speeches in parliament, where he sat as representative for Middlesex, gave umbrage to the ministry. To her Majesty, however, he preserved a steady loyalty; and upon her decease he composed an elegant and able memorial of the happiness of her reign, equally honourable to the author and the subject, which he transmitted to Thuanus for the use of his History.'
constituted him by patent one of his counsel learned He in the law, with a fee of forty pounds per ann.* granted him the same day, by another patent, a pension of sixty pounds for additional special services received from his brother and himself. Having now gained a firm footing at court, he made it his next endeavour to recover his lost popularity.
In the preceding reign, the country people had been greatly oppressed by the royal purveyors, and had complained of their exactions as an intolerable griev ance. This affair had been laid before the Queen, and some measures had been adopted with a view The to redress it; but they had proved ineffectual. House of Commons, therefore, took the business in hand, in the first session of the first parliament of James; and selected Bacon, as the person most competent to explain to his Majesty their opinion upon this weighty matter. This trust he discharged to the entire satisfaction of both prince and people, and received the thanks of the House in return. Cecil, however, still opposed his advancement; and in this he was supported by Sir Edward Coke, the AttorneyGeneral, who dreaded the developement of Bacon's professional and political powers. This accounts for his not having obtained the promotion, which he had so ardently expected, till 1607, when upon the elevation of Sir John Doderidge to a higher post, he was appointed Solicitor-General.
From the date of his entering upon this office, he may be considered as a courtier devotedly attached to his royal master; constantly favouring his views
This is said to have been the first act of royal power of that
in opposition to his own better judgement, and to that spirit of patriotism, which his country had a right to claim from him in the cause of civil liberty.
In breach of the fundamental maxim of nature and nations, that no man is bound by laws, to which he has not previously either actually or virtually consented, and that laws so sanctioned cannot be abrogated or altered except by the same consent which made them,' he most unconstitutionally contended, that it was an inseparable prerogative of the Crown to dispense with political statutes.' He, likewise, exercised his subtilest rhetoric to reconcile parliaments to impositions by prerogative, which if acquiesced in, would speedily have superseded those assemblies altogether; exasperating the mildness of our limited monarchy into the austerity of a despotism, and corrupting legal government into the capricious cruelties of a tyranny. Unfortunately for this time-serving lawyer, and his assertions (they never could be his opinions) we know the origin of these arbitrary claims, we have sorely felt their progress, and we have witnessed we trust their final and complete extinction at the Revolution: a period, which with the memory of all it's patrons and supporters will be ever dear to England, as the epoch of her present liberties, and her consequent civil and religious blessings.
The accomplishment of the foundation of the Charter-House Hospital, begun by Sir Thomas Sutton and continued by his executors, took place while Bacon was Solicitor-General; and in consequence of some discreditable object on his part, that noble institution had to encounter every obstacle, which
so powerful a public functionary could throw in it's
From Bacon's own letters it appears that James, whenever he had the success of a prosecution (particularly, in criminal and capital cases) deeply at heart, with an interference most unbecoming the majesty of the crown was accustomed to issue his special instructions to his Attorney-General upon the occasion; and that officer, obsequiously obedient to the royal orders, meanly submitted to the drudgery of sounding the opinion of the Judges upon the point of law before it was thought advisable to risk their decision in an open trial, recommended the early sifting of them before they could have opportunities of mutual conference, and even undertook by dark insinuations, with a view of obtaining his concurrence, to practise upon the Chief Justice Coke. To enhance the ignominy of a Sovereign thus insidiously forestalling the judgement of a court, in a case of blood then depending, it must be farther recollected that Judges were at that time removeable at the pleasure of the Crown.
In farther proof of his subserviency to the mandates of his Monarch, who anxiously wished to effect the union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland upon a plan extremely detrimental to the former, Sir Francis to his indelible disgrace strained every nerve in the House of Commons in support of the measure: but that assembly was already too well convinced of the arbitrary tendency of his Majesty's views, to adopt the project laid be fore them.
Baffled once more in his ambitious career, he applied with increased earnestness to the business of his