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study, and retirement. To this sojourn we owe not only his Essays, and the Notes on the State of Europe, which display the rising sagacity of the veteran statesman, but all the graces of style and manner which so distinguish him from his contem. poraries.
While Bacon was engaged in his studies he received news (Feb. 20, 1579,) of his father's death. Like Philip of Arragon, Sir Nicholas Bacon perished from the effects of civility. The politeness of a servant, who would not presume to close a window before which his master had fallen asleep, killed him. Bacon hastened home, but found his eldest brother in possession of the patrimonial estate, with nothing left for himself but a slender hifth portion, totally inadequate to the maintenance of his station in society. After many futile applications to his uncle, the lordtreasurer Burleigh, for political employment, he entered Gray's Inn in his twentieth year, resolved to scale the heights of power by the more arduous but surer path of law. For ten or eleven succeeding years, he rarely suffered either amusement or litera ture to disturb the tenor of his professional duties, and seems to have fully mastered the common law, and familiarised his mind with every branch of jurisprudence. About this period he published a draft of his philosophical notions, under the title of Temporis partum maximum, (The Greatest Birth of Time;) which, however, dropped still-born from the press, the world only knowing of its existence through a paragraph in one of his letters to Father Fulgentio: nor does it appear that the copies which he scattered among his friends did him any further service than to single him out as a rash speculatist. Bacon, emboldened by his high talents and the claims of his family on the crown, continued to ply the Cecils with solicitations, but without any other result than testy refusals and lectures on his arrogance and presumption. The lord-treasurer, though a man of cool judgment and calculating foresight, had no regard for intellectual merit, and thought even one hundred pounds too handsome a gratuity for Spenser's
Fairy Queen,” which he termed a foolish old song. Had he been childless, the same reason would have led him to bring forward, which now impelled him to push back, his iilustrious kinsman; but he had a son, and being resolved to make the premiership hereditary in his family, thought no means beneath him to blast Bacon's legal reputation. Elizabeth was told that the son of the late lord-keeper was a superficial legist and a rash philosophical dreamer; and the unlucky Temporis partum maximum was doubtless adduced in proof of the allegation, that Bacon was more calculated to perplex than to promote the despatch of civil business. The philosopher, however, was persevering, and stoically impervious to repulse. Burleigh, at last wearied out, gave him the registrar of the Star Chamber in reversion ; but the
place not falling due till after the lapse of twenty years, Bacon complained that "it was like another man's fair ground fattening upon his house, which might revive his prospects, but did not fill his barns."*
In 1593 he sat for Middlesex, and delivered his maiden speech in favour of law reform. The praises which followed so intoxicated him, that in the ensuing debate on the subsidy, he broke out into a flaming oration against the court, denouncing the claim as extravagant, and dwelling with pathetic sympathy on the miseries which such exactions must cause among the country gentry, who would be constrained to sell their plate and brass pans to meet the demands of the crown. Bacon carried his motion for an inquiry, and struck all the courtiers with horror and amazement. The queen, highly incensed, desired it to be intimated to the delinquent, that he must never more expect favour or promotion. The spirit of the rising patriot was cowed; with bated breath, he whispered expressions of repentance and amendment, and never afterwards played the patriot further than was consistent with his interest at court.
Egerton, the Attorney-General, being soon after elevated to the Rolls, and Coke becoming the chief law officer of the crown, the solicitor's place fell vacant, and opened to Bacon a path to the highest professional honours. He evidently thought this the great crisis of his life, and spared no pains to secure the golden prize which leads to the guardianship of the royal conscience. His unlucky speech, and the jealousy of the Cecils, lay in his path, and to remove these obstacles he had to show deference to men he hated, and pay dutiful obedience to all the wishes of the
After soliciting lord-keeper Puckering and the Cecils to use their influence, he resolved to take a bold step, and address the queen, who, however, recalled his unlucky subsidy speech,
his philosophical predilections as fatal to his claims. But Bacon did not give up the battle. The talents of Essex were immediately put in requisition to obtain the solicitor's place, but the queen could ill brook the rising popularity of the favourite, and was too glad to avail herself of an occasion to cross his views. Essex, however, had an inkling that a man of such splendid abilities failed only through the weakness of his patron, and begged of him, in language dictated by spontaneous generosity, to accept some recompense for the time he had misspent in courting the favour of a declining patron. “I shall die if I do not somewhat to your fortune; you shall not deny to accept a piece of land which I will bestow upon you.” After a decent resistance, Bacon yielded, and was enfeoffed of land at
* Letter to Burleigh.
Twickenham, which he afterwards sold for £1,800, a great sum in those days.*
Bacon now resolved to disprove the insinuations which had been uttered by Burleigh, with respect to his legal attainments, and wrote a treatise upon the elements and use of common law, applying the inductive mode of reasoning to jurispru. dence in ascending to the platform of rules and maxims through the gradual collection of particulars. The publication of his Essays followed, and carried his name at once into the mouth of the public. His philosophical genius, and the force of his language, gave him a greater advantage even than his learning, while his keen perception of the true and beautiful and his analytic powers have made him the marvel, delight, and despair of succeeding essayists.
These endeavours, successful as they were, do not appear to have gained him much practice, or to have placed him beyond the necessity of compounding with his creditors.' Authorship brought in nothing but fame in those days. To rid himself of embarrassments, so irksome to a man of genius, he resolved to make a bold attempt to retrieve his affairs by marriage. Lady Hatton, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Cecil, and early relict of the son of Chancellor Hatton, was the beauty at whose shrine Bacon ventured to offer up his first vows. But the rich widow had unfortunately possessed herself of a copy of Bacon's Essays, and finding therein love described as an ignoble passion, fit only for base and petulant natures, she ascribed his professions of attachment rather to her money than to her person, and rejected his suit. The disappointment was the more severely felt as the young lady capitulated to a rival, his sworn antagonist, Sir Edward Coke, a crabbed old lawyer, with six children, and stricken with infirmities.
* This land was Twickenham Park, which stretched along the banks of the Thames from Richmond-bridge (then only a ferry) to Isleworth, and extended probably to the pathway now called Isleworth-lane, opposito Marble-hilî. Lord Bacon's house was pulled down many years since, and no vestige of it is said to remain ; we believe, however, that traces of it are still discernible on the site of Little St. Margaret's, known in the vicinity as Lord Cavendish's house. This fine tract of land (several hundred acres), which, in Bacon's time, appears to have had only his own house upon it, is now covered with villas, including Lord Kilmorrey's new and magnificent mansion, “St. Margaret's,” built nearly on the site of the old mansion of that name, lately pulled down. The land alone would now be worth moro than £100,000.
to " In Bacon's Essays the superiority of his genius appears to the greatest advantage; the novelty and depth of his reflections often receiving a strong relief from the triteness of the subject. The volume may be read from beginning to end in a few hours, and yet after the twentieth perusal one seldom fails to remark in it something overlooked before. This, indeed, is a characteristic of all Bacon's writings, and is only to be accounted for by the inexhaustible aliment they furnish to our own thoughts, and the sympathetic activity they impart to our torpid faculties.”—Dugald Stewust.
The energy with which Bacon now devoted himself to his profession enabled him to place his legal reputation beyond the reach of calumny by his celebrated argument on perpetuities, which he afterwards fashioned into a reading on the Statute of Uses, and delivered as double reader in Gray's Inn. This tract has imparted to the law of real property the undeviating exactness it has since preserved, reconcilíng life-interests with perpetuities and providing facilities for the transfer of land, while it secures the stability of families so necessary in a fixed monarchy,
These legal triumphs conspired, with the death of Lord Burleigh, to raise his credit with Queen Elizabeth, who was a visitor at Twickenham when the earl who conferred that domain on Bacon returned from his unfortunate expedition to Ireland. As he, in addition to the other misfortunes of the campaign, had quitted the army without her Majesty's permission, the queen appeared indignant, and named a commission, in which Bacon was retained as council extraordinary for the crown, to examine the unfortunate earl on the various misdemeanors which truth or jealousy imputed to him. In these proceedings Bacon seems at first to have played the part of a prudent friend, in striving to effect a reconciliation between Elizabeth and her favourite ; but his endeavours on both sides were misconstrued, and rewarded with suspicions of double-dealing and treachery. "The earl looked on him as a spy of the queen, the queen as a creature of the earl." The reconciliation,
66 which Bacon had laboured to effect appeared utterly hopeless. A thousand signs, legible to eyes far less keen than his, announced that the fall of his patron was at hand. He shaped his course accordingly. When Essex was brought before the Council to answer for his conduct in Ireland, Bacon after a faint attempt to excuse himself from taking part against his friend, submitted to the Queen's pleasure, and appeared at the bar in support of the charges. But a darker scene was behind. The unhappy young nobleman, made reckless by despair, ventured on a rash and criminal enterprise, which brought on him the highest penalty of the law.” When the nation loudly resented the fall of the unfortunate earl, Bacon, at the command of the queen, justified his execution in a pamphlet; but posterity has never entirely forgiven his ingratitude, or his apologists succeeded in finding a sufficient excuse for it.
The queen did not long survive her favourite, and the atten. tion of both her courtiers and statesmen began to be directed towards the Scottish king. Bacon was determined not to be lost among the crowd, and we find him busily employed in soliciting James and his courtiers. After despatching letters to
two of the more important, he resolved to address James him. self, and thus hit off his nature to the life. High and mighty sovereign Lord. It is observed by some upon a place in the Canticles, ego sum flos Campum et lilium convallium, that à dispari, it is not said : Ego sum flos horti et lilium montium, because the majesty of that person is not inclosed for a few, nor appropriated to the great." Excusing his freedom of approach, with this quibble, he then proceeds to veil his own claims under those of his kindred, and concludes with “sacrificing himself as a burnt-offering to the king."
Bacon was kindly received, and soon found that his prospects were by no means diminished by the death of the
queen. soon as James had domesticated himself at Whitehall, he began to lavish titles and honours with so wide a profusion that there hardly remained any other mark of distinction than that of having escaped them. The public were amazed and confused with the heap of new titles, and books were announced undertaking to help weaker memories to a knowledge of the nobility. Bacon requested to be knighted in a batch of three hundred, who were about to receive that dignity. Just at this period he was offering his heart to the daughter of a rich alderman, and intimated to Cecil that the concession of his request would expedite the match, and release him from the anomalous position of being the only untitled lawyer on his mess at Gray'sInn. His wish was gratified, and Miss Barnham immediately became Lady Bacon.
His first appearance under the new reign was as one of the counsel for the Crown on the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh, arising out of the conspiracy to place Lady Arabella Stewart on the throne. He was not, however, permitted by Coke, who was extremely jealous of his powers, either to examine the witnesses or address the jury. But being returned for Ipswich in James's first parliament, he raised his crest, and made himself popular with the country party by advocating a moderate redress of grievances, while he obtained the favour of the king by supporting his pet plan of a union with Scotland. In the autumn of the year, he paid a visit to his friend, Sir Henry Saville, provost of Eton, and on his return, addressed a letter to him on the subject of education, inclosing a tract entitled, “Helps to the Intellectual Powers,” which pointed out new methods of fortifying the memory, and assisting the rationalistic faculty, Soon after he proposed to write a History of England,” and sought to move the king to assist him in the undertaking by writing a tract, “On the Greatness of the Kingdom of Great. Britain.” Contemporaneously with these efforts, he prosecuted his treatise " On the Advancement of Learning," which appeared the following year and immediately placed his name among the