Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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 Lord, stand upon two feet, and fly not upon two 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." (a)

Thus consulted, Bacon, with prophetic wisdom, warned Dissuades 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 "ustice 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." (a)

It did not require Bacon's sagacity to foresee these sad consequences. Elizabeth had given an unwilling assent

[merged small][ocr errors]

to the appointment, and, though accustomed to yield to the vehement demands of her favorite, 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 disinterested affection of those whom she distinguished with her favour. (a)

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 gaiety, 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 ascendancy 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. 1599. J In March, 1599, he was appointed lord lieutenant, and, 39- attended with the flower of the nobility and the acclamalieutenant. ^ons °f tne 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.

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 him

00 See note 3 T at the end.

self at a tournament, or a passage at arms, being totally unfit to manage an expedition requiring all the skill, expe- . rience, and patient endurance of a veteran soldier, the whole campaign was a series of rash enterprize, neglected oppor- i tunity, 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 inferior 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 ob- ^97 serving the pain felt by the Queen, availed himself of every Mt. 37.

opportunity to prevent his ruin in her affections. "After Interces. - , , sion with

my lord s going, he says, " 1 saw then how true a prophet Queen.

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, me thought 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 lord was in Ireland I revealed some matters against 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 Vol. xv. e

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 lord of Leicester had, and continued him still 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."(a) Return of These kind exertions for his friend were, however, Essex" 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 apprised of his intention, and, the Queen not being in London, he, without stopping to change his dress, or to take any refreshment, proceeded 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

(a) Bacon's Apology, vol. vi. p. 254.

« ZurückWeiter »