« ZurückWeiter »
by her own hand to Essex, when in Ireland, should be made public, in which she had commanded to the contrary. Upon sending to Essex for her letter, he returned a submissive reply, but said that it was either lost or mislaid; and, though her anger was great at the nonproduction of this document, she, early in the next month, ordered him to be liberated from his keeper, but not to quit London, (b)
Upon this release, which his declining health rendered necessary, he solicited permission to retire to the house of a relation near Reading; a permission which the Queen, although she commanded him to dismiss two of his friends from his service, and although disturbed and displeased, seemed inclined to grant, as she listened to friendly communications made on his behalf, and received letters from him, (c) in which, having discovered the wisdom of his friend's advice, "that the Queen could not be controlled by resistance," (d) he was endeavouring to regain by obsequiousness the ascendancy which he had lost by his rude
(6) Sydney Papers, p. 204. Her majesty is greatly troubled with the last number of knights made by the Earl of Essex in Ireland, and purposes, by public proclamation, to command them from the place due to their dignity; and that no ancient gentleman of the kingdom gave them any place. The warrant was signed, as I heard; but by Mr. Secretary's very special care and credit, it is stayed till Sunday the lords meet in court. Mr. Bacon is thought to be the man that moves her majesty unto it, affirming, that by the law the earl had no authority to make them, being by her majesty's own letter, of her own hand written, commanded the contrary.
Her Majesty had ordered the Lord Keeper to remove my lord of Essex's keeper from him; but awhile after, being somewhat troubled with the remembrance of his making so many knights, made a stay of her former order, and sent unto the earl for her own letter, which she writ unto him to command him to make none. But, with a very submissive letter, he returned answer that he had lost it or mislaid it, for he could not find it, which somewhat displeases her majesty. As yet his liberty stands upon these terms, &c. &c.—28 June, 1600.
(c) Sydney Papers, 205-7-8-12.
(rf) Ante, page xlv.
and headstrong violence; assuring the Queen, "that he kissed her royal hand and the rod which had corrected him; that he could never recover his wonted joy till he beheld her comfortable eyes, which had been his guiding stars, and by the conduct whereof he had sailed most happily whilst he held his course in a just latitude; that now he was determined to repent him of his offence, and to say with Nebuchodonosor, my dwelling is with the beasts of the field, to eat grass as an ox, and to be wet with the dew of heaven, till it shall please the Queene to restore my understanding to me." (a)
This abasement gratified Elizabeth, who said, '* though she did not expect that his deeds would accord with his words, yet, if this could be brought to pass with the fur
(a) Camden, 169. Birch's Elizabeth, 461. One of the letters written by Mr. Francis Bacon for the earl, and printed among the works of the former, beginning with these words, " It were great simplicity in me," &c. is much inferior to what the earl himself would have written. But there are two others, which appear to have come from his lordship's own hand, and have not yet been seen in print. The first is in these terms:
"Let me beg leave, most dear and most admired sovereign, to remember the story of your own gracious goodness, when I was even at the mouth of the grave. No worldly means had power to stay me in this world but the comfort which I received from your majesty. When I was weak and full of infirmities, the increase of liberty which your majesty gave, and the gracious message which your majesty sent me, made me recover in a few weeks that strength, which my physicians in a long time durst not hope for. And now, lastly, when I should be for ever disabled for your majesty's service, and by consequence made unwilling to live, your majesty at my humble supplication granted, that that cup should pass from me. These are deeply engraven in my memory, and they shall ever be acknowledged by my tongue and pen. But yet after all these, without one farther degree of your mercy, your servant perisheth. Indignatio principis mors est. He cannot be said to live, that feels the weight of it. What then can your majesty think of his state, that hath thus long lived under it, and yet sees not your majesty reach out your fair hand to take off part of this weight? If your majesty could know what I feel, your sweet and excellent nature could not but be compassionate. I dare not lift up my voice to speak, but my humble (now exiled, though once too happy) eyes are lifted up, and nace, she should be more favourable to the profession of alchemy."
Bacon, who was too wise to cross Elizabeth in the spring-tide of her anger, without waiting till it was ebbingwater, now exerted all his power to reconcile her to her favourite, whom, in his many accesses to the Queen, he availed himself of every opportunity to serve; and, although he could not, without exciting her displeasure, directly communicate with him, he, by the intervention of a friend, regularly acquainted him with the progress he made in abating the Queen's anger; and, the moment he was restored to liberty, the assurances of his exertions were repeated by letter, and through the whole summer were regularly imparted to Essex. (6)
speak in their dumb language, which your majesty will answer your own chosen time. Till then no soul is so afflicted as that of
"Your Majesty's humblest vassal, Essex.
The other letter was written on the 17th of November, the anniversary of her accession to the throne:
"Vouchsafe, dread sovereign, to know there lives a man, though dead to the world, and in himself exercised with continual torments of body and mind, that doth more true honour to your thrice blessed day, than all those that appear in your sight. For no soul had ever such an impression of your perfections, no alteration shewed such an effect of your power, nor no heart ever felt such a joy of your triumph. For they that feel the comfortable influence of your majesty's favour, or stand in the bright beams of your presence, rejoice partly for your majesty's, but chiefly for their own happiness. Only miserable Essex, full of pain, full of sickness, full of sorrow, languishing in repentance for his offences past, hateful to himself, that he is yet alive, and importunate on death, if your favour be irrevocable; he joys only for your majesty's great happiness and happy greatness: and were the rest of his days never so many, and sure to be as happy as they are like to be miserable, he would lose them all to have this happy 17th day many and many times renewed with glory to your majesty, and comfort of all your faithful subjects, of whom none is accursed but your Majesty's humblest vassal, Essex."
(6) See note 4 D at the end.
In the same spirit, and with the same parental anxiety by which all Bacon's conduct had been influenced, he wrote two letters, one as from Anthony Bacon to Essex, the other from Essex, in answer, both to be shown by Bacon to the Queen; and prepared a letter to be sent by Essex directly to her majesty, (c) the scope of which were, says Bacon, "but to represent and picture forth unto her majesty my lord's mind to be such, as I knew her majesty would fainest have had it: which letters whosoever shall see, for they cannot now be retracted or altered, being by reason of my brother's or his lordship's servants' delivery, long since come into divers hands, let him judge, especially if he knew the Queen, and do remember those times, whether they were not the labours of one that sought to bring the Queen about for my lord of Essex his good." («f)
To such expedients did his friendship for Essex induce him to submit: expedients, which, however they may be sanctioned by the conduct of courtiers, stooping, as they suppose, to occasions not to persons, (x) but ill accord
(c) See note 4 E at the end.
(d) In another part of his Apology he says: "And I drew for him, by his appointment, some letters to her majesty; which though I knew well his lordship's gift and style was far better than mine own, yet, because he required it, alleging, that by his long restraint he was grown almost a stranger to the Queen's present conceits, I was ready to perform it; and sure I am, that for the space of six weeks or two months it prospered so well, as I expected continually his restoring to his attendance."
(x) See the Advancement of Learning (vol. ii. page 33), under the head of objections to learning from the manners of learned men. The passage begins "not that I," and ends, " these stoopings to points of necessity and convenience, though they may have some outward baseness, yet in a judgment truly made, they are to be accounted submissions to the occasion, not to the person." The nature of this debasement is powerfully stated in an essay upon the Regal Character, by William Hazlitt, in page 336 of his Political Essays.
with the admonition of Bacon's philosophy, that "the honest and just bounds of observation by one person upon another, extend no further but to understand him sufficiently, whereby not to give him offence; or whereby to be able to give him faithful counsel; or whereby to stand upon reasonable guard and caution with respect to a man's self: but to be speculative into another man, to the end to know how to work him, or wind him, or govern him, proceedeth from a heart that is double and cloven, and not entire and ingenuous." (a) Such is Bacon's doctrine, but having, as it appears, in his youth, taken an unfortunate bias from the censures of Burleigh and Cecil, and from the frequent assertions of Elizabeth, that he was without knowledge of affairs, he affected, through the whole of his life, an overstrained refinement in trifles, and a political subtlety, which never failed to awaken the suspicions of his enemies, and was altogether unworthy of his great mind.
From these various efforts Bacon indulged the most flattering hopes of the restoration of his friend to the Queen's favour, in which, if Essex had acted with common prudence, he would have succeeded; though the Queen kept alive her displeasure by many passionate expressions, "that he had long tried her anger, and she must have further proof of his humility, and that her father would not have endured his perverseness;" but Bacon, who knew the depths and soundings of the Queen's character, was not dismayed by these ebullitions; he saw, under the agitated surface, a constant under-current of kindness.
Bacon's account is as follows: " From this time forth, during the whole latter end of that summer, while the court was at Nonsuch and Oatlands, I made it my task and scope to take and give occasions for my lord's redinte
(a) Advancement of Learning, vol. ii. p. 30.