Billeder på siden

too: you

slight refusals, insomuch as it is most true, that immediately after New-year's-tide I desired to speak with her; and being admitted to her, I dealt with her plainly, and said, Madam, I see you withdraw your favour from me, and now I have lost many friends for your sake, I shall lose you

have put me like one of those that the Frenchmen call enfans perdus, that serve on foot before horsemen, so have you put me into matters of envy without place, or without strength; and I know at chess a pawn before the king is ever much played upon: a great many love me not, because they think I have been against my lord of Essex; and you love me not, because you know I have been for him: yet will I never repent me that I have dealt in simplicity of heart towards you both, without respect of cautions to myself, and therefore vivus vidensque pereo. If I do break my neck, I shall do it in a manner as Master Dorrington did it, which walked on the battlements of the church many days, and took a view and survey where he should fall: and so, Madam, said I, I am not so simple, but that I take a prospect of mine overthrow, only I thought I would tell you so much, that you may

know that it was faith, and not folly that brought me into it, and so I will pray for you. Upon which speeches of mine, uttered with some passion, it is true her majesty was exceedingly moved ; and accumulated a number of kind and gracious words upon me, and willed me to rest upon this, Gratia mea sufficit, and a number of other sensible and tender words and demonstrations, such as more could not be; but as touching my lord of Essex, ne verbum quidem. Whereupon I departed, resting then determined to meddle no more in the matter, as I saw that it would overthrow me, and not be able to do him any good.”

Bacon's anguish, when he felt that the Queen's displeasure was gradually taking the form most to be dreaded, the cold and severe aspect of offended justice, can be conceived only by those who had seen his patient watchfulness over his wayward friend. Through the whole of his career, Bacon had anxiously pursued him, warning him, when it was possible, to prevent the commission of error; excusing him to his royal mistress when the warning had proved fruitless; hoping all things, enduring all things; but the time seemed fast approaching, when, urged by his own wild passions, and the ruffian crew that beset him, he would commit some act which would place him out of the pale of the Queen's mercy.

Irritated by the refusal of his patent, he readily listened to the pernicious counsels of a few needy and interested followers. Essex House had long been the resort of the factious and discontented; secretly courting the Catholics, and openly encouraging the Puritans, Essex welcomed all who were obnoxious to the court. He applied to the King of Scotland for assistance, opened a secret correspondence with Ireland, and, calculating upon the support of a large body of the nobility, conspired to seize the Tower of London and the Queen herself, and marshalled his banditti to effect his purposes.

The Queen, who had been apprised of the unusual concourse of persons to Essex House, was now fully acquainted with the extent of his treasons. In this emergency she acted with a firmness worthy of herself. She directed the Lord Mayor of London to take care that the citizens were ready, every man in his own house, to execute such commands as should be enjoined them. To Essex she sent the Lord Keeper, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Earl of Worcester, to learn the cause of this treasonable assembly. He said “ that there was a plot against his life; that some were suborned to stab him in his bed ; that he and his friends were treacherously dealt with, and that they were

determined on resistance.” Deaf to all remonstrances, and urged by his faction, he seized and confined the officers of state, and, without plan, without arms, and with a small body of conspirators, he proceeded into the city, calling upon the citizens to join him, but calling in vain. Disappointed in his hopes, and proclaimed a traitor, after a fruitless attempt to defend himself, he was seized, and committed to the Tower.

No man knew better, or felt more deeply the duties of friendship, than Bacon: he did not think friendships mere abstractions, metaphysical nothings, created for contemplation only; he felt, as he has taught, that friendship is the allay of our sorrows, the ease of our passions, the sanctuary of our calamities;(a) that its fruits are peace in the affections, counsel in judgment, and active kindness; the heart, the head, and the hand. His friendship, therefore, both in words and acts, Essex constantly experienced. In the wildest storm of his passions, while others suffered him to drive onward, the voice of the pilot might be heard, pointing out the sunken rocks which he feared would wreck

and when, at last, bound hand and foot, he was cast at the feet of the Queen, to undergo her utmost indignation, he still walked with him in the midst of the fire, and would have borne him off unhurt, but for the evil spirits which beset him.

It is impossible to form a correct judgment of the conduct of Bacon at this unfortunate juncture, without considering the difficulties of his situation, and his conflicting duties. Men of the highest blood and of the fairest character were implicated in the treasons of Essex: men who were like himself highly favoured by the Queen, and in offices of great trust and importance. Bacon's obligations to Essex,


(u) See J. Taylor's beautiful Essay on Friendship.

and his constant efforts to serve him were well known; and the Queen had of late looked coldly upon him, and might herself suspect his fidelity; for sad experience had proved to her that a monarch has no true friend. (a) In the interval between the commitment of Essex to the Tower, and his arraignment, Bacon must have become fully aware of the facts which would condemn Essex in the


of all good men, and render him amenable to the heaviest penalty of the law. Awakened as from a dream, with the startling truth that Essex was guilty as well as imprudent, he saw that all which he and others had deemed rashness was the result of a long concocted treason. In whatever light it could be viewed, the course which Essex had pursued was ruinous to Bacon. He had been bondsman again and again to the Queen for the love and duty of Essex; and now he had the mortification of discovering that, instead of being open and entire with him, Essex had abused his friendship, and had assumed the dissembling attitude of humility and penitence, that he might more securely aim a blow at the very life of his royal benefactress. This double treachery entirely alienated the affections of Bacon. He saw no longer the high-souled, chivalric Essex, open as the day, lucid as truth, giving both faults and virtues to the light, redeeming in the eyes of all men the bounty of

(a) This day senight her Majestie was at Blackfriars, to grace the marriage of the Lord Herbert and his wife. The Bride mett the Queen at the Waterside, where my Lord Cobham had provided a Lectica, made like half a litter, wherein she was carried to my Lady Russell's by 6 Knights. After supper the Mask came in, as I writ in my last; and delicate it was, to see 8 Ladies soe prettily and richly attired. Mrs. Fitton leade, and after they had donne all their own ceremonies, these 8 Ladys Maskers choose 8 Ladies more to dawnce the measures. Mrs. Fitton went to the Queen and woed her to dawnce; her Majesty asked what she was; Affection, she said. Affection! said the Queen, Affection is false. Yet her Majestie rose and dawnced. - See also note 3 T at the end. Sidney Papers.

the crown; he saw only an ungrateful man, whom the fiend ambition had possessed, and knew that the name of

that fiend was “ Legion.” 19th Feb. On the 19th of February Essex and Southampton were 1601.

arraigned, and, upon the trial, one of the conspirators, allured by the hope of life, made a full disclosure of all their treasons. (a)

Unable to deny facts clearly proved against him, Essex could insist only upon his motives, which he urged with the utmost confidence. He repeated bis former assertion, that there was a plot against his life, and that Cecil, Cobham, and Raleigh had driven him to desperate measures. Bacon, who appeared as one of the counsel for the crown, resisted these imputations, and said, “ It is evident, my lord of Essex, that you had planted in your heart a pretence against the government of your country; and, as Pisistratus, calculating upon the affections of the people, shewed himself wounded in the streets of Athens, so you entered the city with the vain hope that the citizens would join in your rebellion. Indeed, my lord, all that you have said, or can say in these matters are but shadows, and therefore methinks it were your best course to confess, and not to justify.”

Essex here interrupted him, and said, “The speech of Mr. Bacon calls upon me to defend myself; and be it known, my lords, I call upon him to be a witness for me, for he being a daily courtier, and having free access to her majesty, undertook to go to the Queen in my behalf, and did write a letter most artificially, which was subscribed with my name, also another letter was drawn by him to occasion that letter with others that should come from his brother, Mr. Anthony Bacon, both which he shewed the Queen,

(a) See note 4 F at the end, for an account of the trial.

« ForrigeFortsæt »