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In the year 1596 Bacon completed a valuable in the soldiery, chiefly volunteers, and by the contract upon the elements and use of the common tentions of their officers, too equal to be easily law. It consists in the first part of twenty-five legal maxims, as specimens selected from three hundred, in which he was desirous to establish in the science of law, as he was to establish in all science, general truths for the diminution of individual labour, and the foundation of future discoveries: and, his opinion being that general truths could be discovered only by an extensive collection of particulars, he proceeded in this work upon the plan suggested in his Novum Organum.
In the second part he explains the use of the law for the security of persons, reputation, and property; which, with the greatest anxiety to advance freedom of thought and liberty of action, he well knew and always inculcated, was to be obtained only by the strength of the law restraining and directing individual strength. In Orpheus's Theatre, he says, "all beasts and birds assembled, and forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, and some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men who are are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge, which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence, and persuasion of books, of sermons, and harangues; so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion."
His preface contains his favourite doctrine, that "there is a debt of obligation from every member of a profession to assist in improving the science in which he has successfully practised," and he dedicated his work to the queen, as a sheaf and cluster of fruit of the good and favourable season enjoyed by the nation, from the influence of her happy government, by which the people were taught that part of the study of a good prince was to adorn and honour times of peace by the improvement of the laws. Although this tract was written in the year 1596, and although he was always a great admirer of Elizabeth, it was not published till after his death.
The exertions which had been made by Essex to obtain the solicitorship for his friend, and his generous anxiety to mitigate his disappointment, had united them by the strongest bonds of affection.
In the summer of 1596, Essex was appointed to the command of an expedition against Spain; and though he was much troubled during the embarkation of his troops, by the want of discipline
In societati civili, aut lex aut vis valet.-Justitia Univer
commanded, yet he did not forget the interests of Bacon, but wrote from Plymouth to the newplaced lord keeper, and all his friends in power, strongly recommending him to their protection. In the early part of the year 1597 his first publication appeared. It is a small 12mo. volume of Essays, Religious Meditations, and a table of the Colours of Good and Evil. In his dedication to his loving and beloved brother, he states that he published to check the circulation of spurious copies, "like some owners of orchards, who gathered the fruit before it was ripe, to prevent stealing;" and he expresses his conviction that there was nothing in the volume contrary, but rather medicinable to religion and manners, and his hope that the Essays would, to use his own words, "be like the late new halfpence, which, though the pieces were small, the silver was good.”
The Essays, which are ten in number, abound with condensed thought and practical wisdom, neatly, pressly, and weightily stated,3 and, like all his early works, are simple, without imagery. They are written in his favourite style of aphorisms, although each essay is apparently a continued work; and without that love of antithesis and false glitter to which truth and justness of thought is frequently sacrificed by the writers of maxims.
Another edition, with a translation of the Meditationes Sacræ, was published in the next year; and a third in 1612, when he was solicitor-general; and a fourth in 1625, the year before his death.
The essays in the subsequent editions are much augmented, according to his own words; "I always alter when I add, so that nothing is finished till all his finished," and they are adorned by happy and familiar illustration, as in the essay of "Wisdom for a Man's self," which concludes in the edition of 1625 with the following extract, not to be found in the previous edition :—“ Wisdom for a man's self is in many branches thereof a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it
fall. It is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out | pretend, and I know it will be impossible for me, by
the badger, who digged and made room for him. It is the wisdom of crocodiles, who shed tears when they would devour. But that which is specially to be noted is, that those which, as Cicero says of Pompey, are sui amantes sine rivali, are many times unfortunate. And whereas they have all their time sacrificed to themselves, they become in the end themselves sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they thought by their selfwisdom to have pinioned."
any pleading of mine, to reverse the judgment either of Æsop's cock, that preferred the barleycorn before the gem; or of Midas, that, being chosen judge between Apollo, president of the muses, and Pan, god of the flocks, judged for plenty; or of Paris, that judged for beauty and love against wisdom and power. For these things continue as they have been; but so will that also continue whereupon learning hath ever relied, and which faileth not. Justificata est sapientia a filiis suis:" "s yet he seems to have undervalued this little work, which, for two centuries, has been favourably received by every lover of knowledge and of beauty, and is now so well appreciated, that a celebrated professor of our own times truly says: "The small volume to which he has given the title of Essays,' the best known and the most popular of all his works, is one of those where 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. It 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 character
So in the essay upon Adversity, on which he had deeply reflected, before the edition of 1625, when it first appeared, he says: "The virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-istic of all Bacon's writings, and is only to be works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasures of the heart by the pleasures of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."
The essays were immediately translated into French and Italian, and into Latin by some of his friends, amongst whom were Hacket, Bishop of Litchfield, and his constant, affectionate friend, Ben Jonson.1
accounted for by the inexhaustible aliment they furnish to our own thoughts, and the sympathetic activity they impart to our torpid faculties.”4
During his life, six or more editions, which seem to have been pirated, were published; and, after his death, two spurious essays " Of Death,' and "Of a King," the only authentic posthumous essay being the fragment of an essay on Fame, which was published by his friend and chaplain, Dr. Rawley.
The sacred meditations, which are twelve in number," are in the first edition in Latin, and have been partly incorporated into subsequent editions of the Essays, and into the Advancement of Learning.
His own estimate of the value of this work is thus stated in his letter to the Bishop of Win- The Colours of Good and Evil, are ten in numchester: "As for my Essays, and some other par-ber, and were afterwards inserted in the Advanceticulars of that nature, I count them but as the re-ment of Learning, in his tract on Rhetoric. creations of my other studies, and in that manner purpose to continue them; though I am not ignorant that these kind of writings would, with less pains and assiduity, perhaps yield more lustre and reputation to my name than the others I have in hand."
Such was the nature of his first work, which was gratefully received by his learned contemporaries, as the little cloud seen by the prophet, and welcomed as the harbinger of showers that would fertilize the whole country.
While, in this year, the Earl of Essex was pre- | much less of my own unableness, which I had paring for his voyage, Bacon communicated to continual sense and feeling of; yet, because 1 him his intention of making a proposal of mar- had more means of absolution than the younger riage to the Lady Hatton, the wealthy widow of sort, and more leisure than the greater sort, I did Sir William Hatton, and daughter of Sir Thomas think it not impossible to work some profitable Cecil, and desired his lordship's interest in sup- effect; the rather because where an inferior wit port of his pretensions, trusting, he said, "that is bent and constant upon one subject, he shall the beams of his lordship's pen might dissolve many times, with patience and meditation, disthe coldness of his fortune." Essex, with his solve and undo many of the knots, which a greatwonted zeal, warmly advocated the cause of his er wit, distracted with many matters, would rather friend; he wrote in the strongest terms to the cut in two than unknit: and, at the least, if my father and mother of the lady, assuring them "that invention or judgment be too barren or too weak, if Bacon's suit had been to his own sister or yet by the benefit of other arts, I did hope to disdaughter, he would as confidently further it, as pose or digest the authorities and opinions which he now endeavoured to persuade them." Neither are in cases of uses in such order and method, as Bacon's merit, or the generous warmth of his they should take light one from another, though noble patron touched the heart of the lady, who, they took no light from me." fortunately for Bacon, afterwards became the wife of his great rival, Sir Edward Coke.
In this year he seems to have been in great pecuniary difficulties, which, however they may have interrupted, did not prevent his studies; for, amidst his professional and political labours, he published a new edition of his essays,1 and composed a law tract, not published until some years after his death, entitled the History of the Alienation Of fice.
He then proceeds in a luminous exposition of the statute, of which a celebrated lawyer of our times, says: "Lord Bacon's reading on the Statute of Uses is a very profound treatise on the subject, so far as it goes, and shows that he had the clearest conception of one of the most abstruse parts of our law. What might we not have expected from the hands of such a master, if his vast mind had not so embraced within its compass the whole field of science, as very much to
In the year 1599, the celebrated case of Per-detach him from his professional studies?" petuities, which had been argued many times at the bar of the King's Bench, was, on account of its difficulty and great importance, ordered to be argued in the Exchequer Chamber before all the judges of England; and after a first argument by Coke, Solicitor-General, a second argument was directed, and Bacon was selected to discharge this arduous duty, to which he seems to have given his whole mind; and although Sir Edward Coke, in his report, states that he did not hear the arguments, the case is reported at great length, and the reasoning has not been lost, for the manuscript exists, and seems to have been incorporated in his reading on the statute of uses to the society of Gray's Inn.
He thus commences his address to the students: "I have chosen to read upon the Statute of Uses, a law whereupon the inheritances of this realm are tossed at this day, like a ship upon the sea, in such sort, that it is hard to say which bark will sink, and which will get to the haven; that is to say, what assurances will stand good, and what will not. Neither is this any lack or default in the pilots, the grave and learned judges; but the tides and currents of received error, and unwarranted and abusive experience have been so strong, as they were not able to keep a right course according to the law. Herein, though I could not be ignorant either of the difficulty of the matter, which he that taketh in hand shall soon find, or
It differs from the edition of 1597 only in having the Meditationes Sacræ in English instead of Latin. 1 Coke, 121, p. 287
There is an observation of the same nature by a celebrated professor in another department of science, Sir John Hawkins, who, in his History of Music, says, "Lord Bacon, in his Natural History, has given a great variety of experiments touching music, that show him to have not been barely a philosopher, an inquirer into the phenomena of sound, but a master of the science of harmony, and very intimately acquainted with the precepts of musical composition." And, in coincidence with his lordship's sentiments of harmony, he quotes the following passage: "The sweetest and best harmony is when every part or instrument is not heard by itself, but a conflation of them all, which requireth to stand some distance off, even as it is in the mixtures of perfumes, or the taking of the smells of several flowers in the air."
With these legal and literary occupations he continued without intermission his parliamentary exertions, there not having been during the latter part of the queen's reign any debate in which he was not a distinguished speaker, or any important committee of which he was not an active member.
Early in the year 1599, a large body of the Irish, denied the protection of the laws, and hunted like wild beasts by an insolent soldiery, fled the neighbourhood of cities, sheltered themselves in their marshes and forests, and grew every day more intractable and dangerous; it became no
cessary, therefore, that some vigorous measures | lord, stand upon two feet, and fly not upon two should be adopted to restrain their excesses.
A powerful army was raised, of which the command was intended by the queen to be conferred upon Lord Mountjoy; but Essex solicited an employment, which at once gratified his ambition and suited the ardour of his character, and which his enemies sought for him more zealously than his friends, foreseeing the loss of the queen's favour, from the certainty of his absence from court, and the probable failure of his expedition.
From the year 1596 till this period there had been some interruption of the intimacy between Bacon and Essex, arising from the honest expression of his opinion of the unwise and unworthy use which Essex made of his power over the queen. Notwithstanding the temporary estrangement which this difference of opinion occasioned, Essex was unwilling to accept this important command without consulting his intelligent friend.
Bacon's narrative gives a striking picture of both parties. He says, "Sure I am (though I can arrogate nothing to myself but that I was a faithful remembrance to his lordship) that while I had most credit with him his fortune went on best. And yet in two main points we always directly and contradictorily differed, which I will mention to your lordship, because it giveth light to all that followed. The one was, I ever set this down, that the only course to be held with the queen was by obsequiousness and observance; and I remember I would usually engage confidently, that if he would take that course constantly, and with choice of good particulars to express it, the queen would be brought in time to Assuerus' question, to ask, what should be done to the man that the king would honour? meaning, that her goodness was without limit, where there was a true concurrence, which I knew in her nature to be true. My lord, on the other side, had a settled opinion, that the queen could be brought to nothing but by a kind of necessity and authority; and I well remember, when by violent courses at any time he had got his will, he would ask me: Now, sir, whose principles be true? And I would again say to him: My lord, these courses be like to hot waters, they will help at a pang; but if you use them, you shall spoil the stomach, and you shall be fain still to make them stronger and stronger, and yet in the end they will lese their operation: with much other variety, wherewith I used to touch that string. Another point was, that I always vehemently dissuaded him from seeking greatness by a military dependence, or by a popular dependence, as that which would breed in the queen jealousy, in himself presumption, and in the state perturbation; and I did usually compare them to Icarus' two wings, which were joined on with wax, and would make him venture to soar too high, and then fail him at the height. And I would further say unto him: My
wings. The two feet are the two kinds of justice, commutative and distributive: use your greatness for advancing of merit and virtue, and relieving wrongs and burdens; you shall need no other art or fineness: but he would tell me, that opinion came not from my mind, but from my robe. But this difference in two points so main and material, bred in process of time a discontinuance of privateness (as it is the manner of men seldom to communicate where they think their courses not approved) between his lordship and myself; so as I was not called nor advised with for some year and a half before his lordship's going into Ireland, as in former time: yet nevertheless, touching his going into Ireland, it pleased him expressly and in a set manner to desire mine opinion and counsel."
Thus consulted, Bacon, with prophetic wisdom, warned him of the ruin that would inevitably result from his acceptance of an appointment, attended not only with peculiar difficulties, which from habit and temper he was unfit to encounter, but also with the certain loss of the queen's favour, from his absence, and the constant plotting of his enemies. Essex heard this advice, urged as it was, with an anxiety almost parental, as advice is generally heard when opposed to strong passion. It was totally disregarded. It is but justice to Bacon to hear his own words. He says: "I did not only dissuade, but protest against his going, telling him with as much vehemency and asseveration as I could, that absence in that kind would exulcerate the queen's mind, whereby it would not be possible for him to carry himself so as to give her sufficient contentment; nor for her to carry herself so as to give him sufficient countenance, which would be ill for her, ill for him, and ill for the state. And because I would omit no argument, I remember I stood also upon the difficulty of the action: many other reasons I used, so as I am sure I never in any thing in my lifetime dealt with him in like earnestness by speech, by writing, and by all the means I could devise. For I did as plainly see his overthrow chained, as it were by destiny, to that journey, as it is possible for a man to ground a judgment upon future contingents. But my lord, howsoever his ear was open, yet his heart and resolution was shut against that advice, whereby his ruin might have been prevented."
It did not require Bacon's sagacity to foresee these sad consequences. Elizabeth had given an unwilling assent to the appointment, and, though accustomed to yield to the vehement demands of her favourite, was neither blind to his faults, or slow in remembering them, when his absence gave her time for reflection; but she shared with all monarchs the common wish to obtain the dis
interested affection of those whom she distin- | lord was in Ireland I revealed some matters against guished with her favour.
By the loss of Leicester, and the recent death of Burleigh, she was left in the decline of her life "in a solitude of friends," when Essex, of a character more congenial to the queen than either of those noblemen, became, between twenty and thirty years of age, a candidate for court favour. Well read, highly born, accomplished, and imbued with the romantic chivalry of the times, he amused her by his gayety, and flattered her by his gallantry; the rash ingenuousness of his temper gave an air of sincerity to all his words and actions, while strength of will, and a daring and lofty spirit like her own, lessened the distance between them, and completed the ascendency which he gained over her affections; an ascendency which, even if the queen had not been surrounded by his rivals and enemies, could not but be diminished by his absence.
him, or I cannot tell what; which, if it were not a mere slander as the rest is, but had any, though never so little colour, was surely upon this occasion. The queen one day at Nonsuch, a little (as I remember) before Cuffes coming over, I attending on her, showed a passionate distaste of my lord's proceedings in Ireland, as if they were unfortunate, without judgment, contemptuous, and not without some private end of his own, and all that might be, and was pleased, as she spake of it to many that she trusted least, so to fall into the like speech with me; whereupon I, who was still awake, and true to my grounds which I thought surest for my lord's good, said to this effect: Madam, I know not the particulars of estate, and I know this, that princes' actions must have no abrupt periods or conclusions, but otherwise I would think, that if you had my Lord of Essex here with a white staff in his hand, as my
In March, 1599, he was appointed lord lieu-Lord of Leicester had, and continued him still tenant, and, attended with the flower of the nobility and the acclamations of the people, he quitted London, and in the latter end of the month arrived at Dublin. From this time until his return, the whole of his actions were marked by a strong determination that his will should be paramount to that of the queen.
about you for society to yourself, and for an honour and ornament to your attendance and court in the eyes of your people, and in the eyes of foreign ambassadors, then were he in his right element; for, to discontent him as you do, and yet to put arms and power into his hands, may be a kind of temptation to make him prove cumbersome and unruly. And therefore if you would imponere bonam clausulam, and send for him, and satisfy him with honour near you, if your affairs, which (as I have said) I am not acquainted with, will permit it, I think were the best way."1
The first indication of his struggle for power was the appointment, against the express wish of the queen, of his friend, Lord Southampton, to be general of the horse, which he was ordered to rescind. Essex, who had much personal courage, and who would have distinguished himself at a tournament, or a passage at arms, being totally unfit to manage an expedition requiring all the skill, experience, and patient endurance of a veteran soldier, the whole campaign was a series of rash enterprise, neglected opportunity, and relaxed discipline, involving himself and his country in defeat and disgrace. By this ill-advised conduct he so completely aliened the minds of his soldiers, that they were put to flight by an infe-change his dress, or to take any refreshment, prorior number of the enemy; at which Essex was so much enraged, that he cashiered all the officers, and decimated the men.
Bacon, seeing how truly he had prophesied, and observing the pain felt by the queen, availed himself of every opportunity to prevent his ruin in her affections. 66 After my lord's going," he says, "I saw then how true a prophet I was, in regard of the evident alteration which naturally succeeded in the queen's mind; and thereupon I was still in watch to find the best occasion that in the weakness of my power I could either take or minister, to pull him out of the fire if it had been possible; and not long after, methought I saw some overture thereof, which I apprehended readily, a particularity I think be known to very few, and the which I do the rather relate unto your lordship, because I hear it should be talked, that while my
These kind exertions for his friend were, however, wholly defeated by the haughtiness and imprudence of Essex, who, to the just remonstrances of the queen, gave no other answers than peevish complaints of his enemies; and, to the astonishment of all persons, he, without her permission, returned to England, arrived before any person could be apprized of his intention, and, the queen not being in London, he, without stopping to
ceeded to Nonsuch, where the court was held. Travel-stained as he was, he sought the queen in her chamber, and found her newly risen, with her hair about her face. He kneeled to her, and kissed her hands. Elizabeth, taken by surprise, gave way to all her partiality for him, and to the pleasure she always had in his company. He left her presence well pleased with his reception, and thanked God, though he had suffered much trouble and storm abroad, that he found a sweet calm at home. He had another conference for an hour with the queen before midday, from which he returned well contented with his future prospects receiving the visits of the whole court, Cecil and his party excepted.
1 Bacon's Apology.
2 See Sydney Papers, 117-127. Camden and Birch.