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THE EARL OF ESSEX.
SIR FRANCIS BACON,
IMPUTATIONS CONCERNING THE LATE EARL OF ESSEX.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE HIS VERY GOOD lord,
THE EARL OF DEVONSHIRE, LORD LIEUTENANT OF IRELAND.
queen and the state; in which I would not show myself false-hearted, nor faint-hearted, for any man's sake living. For every honest man that hath his heart well planted, will forsake his king, rather than forsake God, and forsake his friend, rather than forsake his king; and, yet, will forsake any earthly commodity, yea, and his own life, in some cases, rather than forsake his friend. I hope the world hath not forgotten these degrees, else the heathen saying, “ Amicus usque ad aras," shall judge them.
Ir may please your good lordship, I cannot be | ceeding, was done in my duty and service to the ignorant, and ought to be sensible of the wrong which I sustain in common speech, as if I had been false or unthankful to that noble, but unfortunate earl, the Earl of Essex: and for satisfying the vulgar sort, I do not so much regard it; though I love a good name, but yet as a handmaid and attendant of honesty and virtue. For I am of his opinion that said pleasantly, "That it was a shame to him that was a suitor to the mistress, to make love to the waiting-woman;" and, therefore, to woo or court common fame, otherwise than it followeth on honest courses, I, for my part, find not myself fit or disposed. But, on the other side, there is no worldly thing that concerneth myself, which I hold more dear, than the good opinion of certain persons; among which, there is none I would more willingly give satisfaction unto, than to your lordship. First, because you loved my Lord of Essex, and, therefore, will not be partial towards me, which is part of that I desire: next, because it hath ever pleased you to show yourself to me an honourable friend, and so no baseness in me to seek to satisfy you: and, lastly, because I know your lordship is excellently grounded in the true rules and habits of duties and moralities, which must be they which shall decide this matter; wherein, my lord, my defence needeth to be but simple and brief; namely, that whatsoever I did concerning that action and pro
And if any man shall say, I did officiously intrude myself into that business, because I had no ordinary place; the like may be said of all the business, in effect, that passed the hands of the learned counsel, either of state or revenues, these many years, wherein I was continually used. For, as your lordship may remember, the queen knew her strength so well, as she looked her word should be a warrant; and, after the manner of the choicest princes before her, did not always tie her trust to place, but did sometime divide private favour from office. And I, for my part, though I was not so unseen in the world, but I knew the condition was subject to envy and peril; yet, because I knew again she was constant in her favours, and made an end where she began; and, especially, because she upheld me with extraordinary access, and other demonstrations
his service to be at my lord's disposing. And, on the other side, I must and will ever acknowledge my lord's love, trust, and favour towards me; and last of all his liberality, having in feoffed me of land which I sold for eighteen hundred pounds to Mr. Reynold Nicholas, which, I think, was more worth; and that at such a time, and with so kind and noble circumstances, as the manner was as much as the matter; which, though it be but an idle digression, yet, because I am not willing to be short in commemoration of his benefits, I will presume to trouble your lordship with relating to you the manner of it. After the queen had denied me the solicitor's place, for the which his lordship had been a long and earnest suitor on my behalf, it pleased him to come to me from Richmond to Twickenham Park, and brake with me, and said: "Mr. Bacon, the
of confidence and grace, I resolved to endure it in expectation of better. But my scope and desire is, that your lordship would be pleased to have the honourable patience to know the truth, in some particularity, of all that passed in this cause, wherein I had any part; that you may perceive how honest a heart I ever bare to my sovereign, and to my country, and to that nobleman, who had so well deserved of me, and so well accepted of my deservings, whose fortune I cannot remember, without much grief. But, for any action of mine towards him, there is nothing that passed me in my lifetime, that cometh to my remembrance with more clearness, and less check of conscience: for it will appear to your lordship, that I was not only not opposite to my Lord of Essex, but that I did occupy the utmost of my wits, and adventure my fortune with the queen, to have reintegrated his, and so continued faith-queen hath denied me the place for you, and hath fully and industriously, till his last fatal impatience, for so I will call it, after which day there was not time to work for him; though the same, my affection, when it could not work on the subject proper, went to the next, with no ill effect towards some others, who, I think, do rather not know it, than not acknowledge it. And this I will assure your lordship, I will leave nothing untold, that is truth, for any enemy that I have to add; and, on the other side, I must reserve much which makes for me, in many respects of duty, which I esteem above my credit: and what I have here set down to your lordship, I protest, as I hope to have any part in God's favour, is true.
It is well known, how I did many years since dedicate my travels and studies to the use, and, as I may term it, service of my Lord of Essex, which, I protest before God, I did not, making election of him as the likeliest mean of mine own advancement, but out of the humour of a man, that ever from the time I had any use of reason, whether it were reading upon good books, or upon the example of a good father, or by nature, I loved my country more than was answerable to my fortune; and I held at that time my lord to be the fittest instrument to do good to the state, and therefore I applied myself to him in a manner which I think happeneth rarely among men: for I did not only labour carefully and industriously in that he set me about, whether it were matter of advice or otherwise, but, neglecting the queen's service, mine own fortune, and in a sort my vocation, I did nothing but advise and ruminate with myself, to the best of my understanding, propositions and memorials of any thing that might concern his lordship's honour, fortune, or service. And when, not long after I entered into this course, my brother, Mr. Anthony Bacon, came from beyond the seas, being a gentleman whose ability the world taketh knowledge of for matters of state, especially foreign, I did likewise knit
placed another; I know you are the least part of your own matter, but you fare ill because you have chosen me for your mean and dependence; you have spent your time and thoughts in my matters; I die," these were his very words, “if I do not somewhat towards your fortune: you shall not deny to accept a piece of land which I will bestow upon you." My answer, I remember, was, that, for my fortune, it was no great matter; but that his lordship's offer made me call to mind what was wont to be said, when I was in France, of the Duke of Guise, that he was the greatest usurer in France, because he had turned all his estate into obligations: meaning, that he had left himself nothing, but only had bound numbers of persons to him. "Now, my lord," said I, "I would not have you imitate his course, nor turn your estate thus by great gifts into obligations, for you will find many bad debtors." He bade me take no care for that, and pressed it: whereupon I said, "My lord, I see I must be your homager, and hold land of your gift; but do you know the manner of doing homage in law? Always it is with a saving of his faith to the king and his other lords; and, therefore, my lord," said I, "I can be no more yours than I was, and it must be with the ancient savings: and if I grow to be a rich man, you will give me leave to give it back again to some of your unrewarded followers."
But, to return: sure I am, though I can arrogate nothing to myself but that I was a faithful remembrancer 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
pricked him to write that apology, which is in many men's hands.
with choice of good particulars to express it, the queen would be brought in time to Ahasuerus's question, to ask, "What should be done But this difference in two points so main and to the man that the king would honour?" Mean- material, bred in process of time a discontinuance ing, that her goodness was without limit, where of privateness, as it is the manner of men seldom there was a true concurrence: which I knew, in to communicate where they think their courses her nature, to be true. My lord, on the other side, not approved, between his lordship and myself: had a settled opinion, that the queen could be so as I was not called nor advised with for some brought to nothing, but by a kind of necessity year and a half before his lordship's going into and authority; and, I well remember, when, by Ireland, as in former time; yet, nevertheless, violent courses at any time, he had got his will, touching his going into Ireland, it pleased him he would ask me, "Now, sir, whose principles expressly, and in a set manner, to desire mine be true?" And I would again say to him; "My opinion and counsel. At which time I did not only lord, these courses be like to hot waters, they dissuade, but protest against his going; telling will help at a pang; but if you use them, you him, with as much vehemency and asseveration shall spoil the stomach, and you shall be fain as I could, that absence in that kind would still to make them stronger, and stronger, and yet exulcerate the queen's mind, whereby it would in the end, they will lessen their operation;" not be possible for him to carry himself so as to with much other variety, wherewith I used to give her sufficient contentment; nor for her to carry touch that string. Another point was, that I herself so as to give him sufficient countenance: always vehemently dissuaded him from seeking which would be ill for her, ill for him, and ill for the greatness by a military dependence, or by a state. And, because I would omit no argument, I popular dependence, as that which would breed remember, I stood also upon the difficulty of the in the queen jealousy, in himself presumption, action; setting before him, out of histories, that the and, in the state, perturbation: and I did usually Irish was such an enemy as the ancient Gauls, or compare them to Icarus's two wings, which were Britons, or Germans were; and that we saw how joined on with wax, and would make him venture the Romans, who had such discipline to govern to soar too high, and then fail him at the height. their soldiers, and such donatives to encourage And I would farther say unto him; "My lord, them, and the whole world in a manner to levy stand upon two feet, and fly not upon two wings: them; yet when they came to deal with enemies, the two feet are the two kinds of justice, commu- which placed their felicity only in liberty, and tative, and distributive: use your greatness for the sharpness of their sword, and had the natural advancing of merit and virtue, and relieving elemental advantages of woods, and bogs, and wrongs and burdens; you shall need no other art hardness of bodies, they ever found they had or finesse:" but he would tell me, that opinion their hands full of them; and therefore concluded, came not from my mind, but from my robe. But that going over with such expectation as he did, it is very true, that I, that never meant to enthral and through the churlishness of the enterprise, myself to my Lord of Essex, nor any other man, not like to answer it, would mightily diminish his more than stood with the public good, did, though reputation: and many other reasons I used, so as, I could little prevail, divert him by all means I am sure, I never in any thing in my lifetime, possible from courses of the wars and popularity: dealt with him in like earnestness by speech, by for I saw plainly, the queen must either live or writing, and by all the means I could devise. die; if she lived, then the times would be as in For I did as plainly see his overthrow chained, the declination of an old prince; if she died, the as it were by destiny, to that journey, as it is times would be as in the beginning of a new; possible for any man to ground a judgment upon and that, if his lordship did rise too fast in these future contingents. But, my lord, howsoever his courses, the times might be dangerous for him, ear was open, yet his heart and resolution was and he for them. Nay, I remember, I was thus shut against that advice, whereby his ruin might plain with him upon his voyage to the islands, when I saw every spring put forth such actions of charge and provocation, that I said to him, "My lord, when I came first unto you, I took you for a physician that desired to cure the diseases of the state; but now I doubt you will be like those physicians which can be content to keep their patients low, because they would always be in request." Which plainness, he, nevertheless, took very well, as he had an excellent ear, and patientissimus veri," and assured me the case of the realm required it: and I think this speech of mine, and the like renewed afterwards,
have been prevented. After my lord's going, 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 which I think to 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 Nonesuch, a little, as I remember, before Cuffe's coming over, where I attended 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 the queen against my Lord of Essex. These 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, here near you, if your affairs, which, as I have said, I am not acquainted with, will permit it, I think were the best way." Which course, your lordship knoweth, if it had been taken, then all had been well, and no contempt in my lord's coming over, nor continuance of these jealousies, which that employment of Ireland bred, and my lord here in his former greatness. Well, the next news that I heard was, that my lord was come over, and that he was committed to his chamber for leaving Ireland without the queen's license; this was at Nonesuch, where, as my duty was, I came to his lordship, and talked with him privately about a quarter of an hour, and he asked mine opinion of the course that was taken with him: I told him, “My lord, Nubecula est cito transibit;' it is but a mist. But shall I tell your lordship, it is as mists are: if it go upwards, it may perhaps cause a shower: if downwards, it will clear up. And, therefore, good my lord, carry it so, as you take away by all means all umbrages and distastes from the queen; and especially, if I were worthy to advise you, as I have been by yourself thought, and now your question imports the continuance of that opinion, observe three points: first, make not this cessation or peace, which is concluded with Tyrone, as a service wherein you glory, but as a shuffling up of a prosecution which was not very fortunate. Next, represent not to the queen any necessity of estate, whereby, as by a coercion
or wrench, she should think herself enforced to send you back into Ireland, but leave it to her. Thirdly, seek access importune, opportune,' seriously, sportingly, every way." I remember my lord was willing to hear me, but spake very few words, and shaked his head sometimes, as if he thought I was in the wrong; but sure I am, he did just contrary in every one of these three points. After this, during the while since my: lord was committed to my lord keeper's, I came divers times to the queen, as I had used to do, about causes of her revenue and law business, as is well known; by reason of which accesses, according to the ordinary charities of court, it was given out, that I was one of them that incensed
speeches I cannot tell, nor I will not think, that they grew any way from her majesty's own speeches, whose memory I will ever honour; if they did, she is with God, and "Miserum est ab illis lædi, de quibus non possis queri." But I must give this testimony to my Lord Cecil, that one time, in his house at the Savoy, he dealt with me directly, and said to me, "Cousin, I hear it, but I believe it not, that you should do some ill office to my Lord of Essex; for my part, I am merely passive, and not active, in this action; and I follow the queen, and that heavily, and I lead her not; my Lord of Essex is one that, in nature, I could consent with, as well as with any one living; the queen indeed, is my sovereign, and I am her creature, I may not lose her, and the same course I would wish you to take." Whereupon I satisfied him how far I was from any such mind. And, as sometimes it cometh to pass, that men's inclinations are opened more in a toy, than in a serious matter: a little before that time, being about the middle of Michaelmas term, her majesty had a purpose to dine at my lodge at Twicknam Park, at which time I had, though I profess not to be a poet, prepared a sonnet, directly tending and alluding to draw on her majesty's reconcilement to my lord; which, I remember, also I showed to a great person, and one of my lord's nearest friends, who commended it. This, though it be, as I said, but a toy, yet it showed plainly in what spirit I proceeded; and that I was ready not only to do my lord good offices, but to publish and declare myself for him: and never was I so ambitious of any thing in my lifetime, as I was, to have carried some token or favour from her majesty to my lord; using all the art I had, both to procure her majesty to send, and myself to be the messenger. For, as to the former, I feared not to allege to her, that this proceeding toward my lord, was a thing towards the people, very unplausible; and, therefore, wished her majesty, however she did, yet to discharge herself of it, and lay it upon others; and, therefore, that she should intermix her proceeding with some immediate graces from herself, that
the world might take knowledge of her princely and the ampleness of his commission; in regard nature and goodness, lest it should alienate the of the nature of the business, being action of war, hearts of her people from her: which I did stand which, in common cases, cannot be tied to strictupon; knowing well, that if she once relented to ness of instructions; in regard of the distance of send or visit, those demonstrations would prove the place, having also a sea between, that his matter of substance for my lord's good. And to demands, and her commands, must be subject to draw that employment upon myself, I advised her wind and weather; in regard of a council of state majesty, that whensoever God should move her in Ireland, which he had at his back to avow his to turn the light of her favours towards my lord, actions upon; and, lastly, in regard of a good to make signification to him thereof; that her intention, that he would allege for himself; majesty, if she did it not in person, would, at the which, I told her, in some religions was held to least, use some such mean as might not entitle be a sufficient dispensation for God's commandthemselves to any part of the thanks, as persons ments, much more for princes': in all these rethat were thought mighty with her to work her, gards, I besought her majesty to be advised again or to bring her about; but to use some such as and again, how she brought the cause into any could not be thought but a mere conduit of her public question. Nay, I went farther; for I told own goodness. But I could never prevail with her, my lord was an eloquent and well-spoken her, though I am persuaded she saw plainly man; and, besides his eloquence of nature or art, whereat I levelled; and she plainly had me in he had an eloquence of accident which passed jealousy, that I was not hers entirely, but still them both, which was the pity and benevolence had inward and deep respects towards my lord, of his hearers; and, therefore, that when he more than stood at that time with her will and should come to his answer for himself, I doubted pleasure. About the same time, I remember an his words would have so unequal a passage above answer of mine in a matter which had some theirs that should charge him, as would not be affinity with my lord's cause, which, though it for her majesty's honour; and therefore wished grew from me, went after about in others' names. the conclusion might be, that they might wrap it For her majesty being mightily incensed with up privately between themselves; and that she that book which was dedicated to my Lord of would restore my lord to his former attendance, Essex, being a story of the first year of King with some addition of honour to take away disHenry IV., thinking it a seditious prelude to put content. But this I will never deny; that I did into the people's head boldness and faction, said, show no approbation generally of his being sent She had an opinion that there was treason in it, back again into Ireland, both because it would and asked me if I could not find any places in it have carried a repugnancy with my former disthat might be drawn within case of treason: course, and because I was in mine own heart whereto I answered; For treason, surely, I found fully persuaded that it was not good, either for none: but for felony, very many. And when her the queen, or for the state, or for himself: and majesty hastily asked me, Wherein? I told her, yet I did not dissuade it, neither, but left it ever the author had committed very apparent theft; as "locus lubricus." For this particularity I do for he had taken most of the sentences of Cor- well remember, that after your lordship was nelius Tacitus, and translated them into English, named for the place in Ireland, and not long and put them into his text. And another time, before your going, it pleased her majesty at when the queen would not be persuaded that it Whitehall to speak to me of that nomination: at was his writing whose name was to it, but that which time I said to her; "Surely, madam, if it had some more mischievous author; and said, you mean not to employ my Lord of Essex thither with great indignation, That she would have him again, your majesty cannot make a better racked to produce his author: I replied; "Nay, choice;" and was going on to show some reason, madam, he is a doctor; never rack his person, but and her majesty interrupted me with great pasrack his style; let him have pen, ink, and paper, sion: "Essex!" said she; "whensoever I send and help of books, and be enjoined to continue Essex back again into Ireland, I will marry you: the story where it breaketh off, and I will under- claim it of me." Whereunto I said; “Well, take, by collating the styles, to judge whether he madam, I will release that contract, if his going were the author or no." But for the main matter, be for the good of your state." Immediately sure I am, when the queen at any time asked after, the queen had thought of a course, which mine opinion of my lord's case, I ever in one was also executed, to have somewhat published tenour said unto her; That they were faults in the Star Chamber, for the satisfaction of the which the law might term contempts; because they were the transgression of her particular directions and instructions: but, then, what defence might be made of them, in regard of the great interest the person had in her majesty's favour; in regard of the greatness of his place, VOL. II.-43
world, touching my Lord of Essex his restraint, and my lord not to be called to it; but occasion to be taken by reason of some libels then dispersed: which, when her majesty propounded unto me, I was utterly against it; and told her plainly, That the people would say, that my lord