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guage, he "spent all his power, might, authority, and amity;" he now sought to indemnify him, and, with royal munificence, presented him with an estate of the value of nearly two thousand pounds, a sum worth perhaps four or five times the amount in the money of our days. If any thing could enhance the benefaction, it was the delicacy with which it was conferred, or, as Bacon himself expresses it, "with so kind and noble circumstances as the manner was worth more than the matter."
Bacon published his Essays in 1597; he considered them but as the "recreations of his other studies." The idea of them was probably first suggested by Montaigne's Essais, but there is little resemblance between the two works beyond the titles. The first edition contained but ten Essays, which were shorter than they now are. The work was reprinted in 1598, with little or no variation; again in 1606; and in 1612 there was a fourth edition, etc. However, he afterwards, he says, "enlarged it both in number and weight;" but it did not assume its present form until the ninth edition, in 1625, that is, twenty-eight years after its first publication, and one year before the death of the author. It appeared under the new title of The Essaies or Covnsels Civill and Morall, of Francis Lo. Vervlam, Viscount St. Alban. Newly enlarged. This is not followed by the Religious Meditations, Places of Persuasion and Disswasion, seene and allowed. The Essays were soon translated into Italian with the title of Saggi Morali del Signore Francesco Bacono, Cavagliero Inglese, Gran Cancelliero d'Inghilterra. This translation was dedicated to Cosmo de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany; and was reprinted in London in 1618. Of the three Essays added after Bacon's decease, two of them, of a
King and Of Death, are not genuine; the Fragment of an Essay on Fame alone is Bacon's.
In this same year (1597) he again took his seat in Parliament. He soon made ample amends for his opposition speech in the previous session; but this time he gained the favor of the Court without forfeiting his popularity in the House of Commons.
He now thought of strengthening his interest, or increasing his fortune, by a matrimonial connection; and he sought the hand of a rich widow, Lady Hatton, his second cousin; but here he was again doomed to disappointment; a preference was given to his old rival, the Attorney-General, Sir Edward Coke, notwithstanding the "seven objections to him his six children and himself." But although Bacon was perhaps unaware of it, the rejection of his suit was one of the happiest events of his life; for the eccentric manners and violent temper of the lady rendered her a torment to all around her, and probably most of all to her husband. In reality, as has been wittily observed, the lady was doubly kind to him; "she rejected him, and she accepted his enemy."
Another mortification awaited him at this period. A relentless creditor, a usurer, had him arrested for a debt of three hundred pounds, and he was conveyed to a spunging-house, where he was confined for a few days, until arrangements could be made to satisfy the claim or the claimant.
We now arrive at a painfully sad point in the life of Bacon; a dark foul spot, which should be hidden forever, did not history, like the magistrate of Egypt that interrogated the dead, demand that the truth, the whole truth, should be told.
We have seen that between Bacon and the Earl of Essex, all was disinterested affection on the part
of the latter; the Earl employed his good offices for him, exerted heart and soul to insure his success as Solicitor-General, and, on Bacon's failure, conferred on him a princely favor, a gift of no ordinary value.
When Essex's fortunes declined, and the Earl fell into disgrace, Bacon endeavored to mediate between the Queen and her favorite. The case became hopeless. Essex left his command in Ireland without leave, was ordered in confinement, and after a long imprisonment and trial before the Privy Council, he was liberated. Irritated by the refusal of a favor he solicited, he was betrayed into reflections on the Queen's age and person, which were never to be forgiven, and he engaged in a conspiracy to seize on the Queen, and to settle a new plan of government. On the failure of this attempt, he was arrested, committed to the Tower, and brought to trial for high treason before the House of Peers. During his long captivity, who does not expect to see Bacon, his friend, a frequent visitor in his cell? Before the two tribunals, can we fail to meet Bacon, his counsel, at his side? We trace Bacon at Court, where, he assures us, after Elizabeth's death, that he endeavored to appease and reconcile the Queen; but the place was too distant from the prison: for he never visited there his fallen friend.
At the first trial, Bacon did indeed make his appearance, but as "her Majesty's Counsel extraordinary," not for the defence, but for the prosecution of the prisoner. But he may be expected at least to have treated him leniently? He admits he did not, on account, as he tells us, of the "superior duty he owed to the Queen's fame and honor in a public proceeding." But hitherto, the Earl's liberty alone had been endangered; now, his life is at stake.
Do not the manifold favors, the munificent benefactions all arise in the generous mind of Bacon? Does he not waive all thought of interest and promotion and worldly honor to devote himself wholly to the sacred task, of saving his patron, benefactor, and friend? Her Majesty's Counsel extraordinary appeared in the place of the Solicitor-General, to reply to Essex's defence; he compared the accused first to Cain, then to Pisistratus. The Earl made
a pathetic appeal to his judges; Bacon showed he had not answered his objections, and compared him to the Duke of Guise, the most odious comparison he could have instituted. Essex was condemned; the Queen wavered in her resolution to execute him; his friend's intercession might perhaps have been able to save Essex from an ignominious death. Did Bacon, in his turn, "spend all his power, might, and amity?" The Queen's Counsel extraordinary might have offended his sovereign by his importunity, and have been forgotten in the impending vacancy of the office of Solicitor-General! Essex died on the scaffold. But the execution rendered the Queen unpopular, and she was received with mournful silence when she appeared in public. She ordered a pamphlet to be written to justify the execution; she made choice of Bacon as the writer; the courtier did not decline the task, but published A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons attempted and committed by Robert, late Earle of Essex and his Complices, against her Maiestie and her Kingdoms. This faithless friend, to use the language of Macaulay, "exerted his professional talents to shed the Earl's blood, and his literary talents to blacken the Earl's memory."
The memory of Essex suffered but little from the attack of the pamphlet; the base pamphleteer's
memory is blackened forever, and to his fair name of "the wisest, brightest," has been appended the "meanest of mankind." But let us cast a pall over this act, this moral murder, perpetrated by the now degraded orator, degraded philosopher, the now most degraded of men.
Elizabeth died in 1601; and before the arrival of James, in England, Bacon wrote him a pedantic letter, probably to gratify the taste of the pedant king; but he did not forget in it, "his late dear sovereign Mistress a princess happy in all things, but most happy-in such a successor."
Bacon solicited the honor of knighthood, a distinction much lavished at this period. At the King's coronation, he knelt down in company with above three hundred gentlemen; but "he rose Sir Francis." He sought the hand of a rich alderman's daughter, Miss Barnham, who consented to become Lady Bacon.
The Earl of Southampton, Shakspeare's generous patron and friend, who had been convicted of high treason in the late reign, now received the King's pardon. This called to all men's minds the fate of the unhappy Earl of Essex, and of his odiously ungrateful accuser; the latter unadvisedly published the Sir Francis Bacon, his Apologie in certaine imputations concerning the late Earle of Essex; a defence which, in the estimation of one of his biographers, Lord Campbell, has injured him more. with posterity than all the attacks of his enemies.
In the new Parliament, he represented the borough of Ipswich; he spoke frequently, and obtained the good graces of the King by the support he gave to James's favorite plan of a union of England and Scotland; a measure by no means palatable to the King's new subjects.