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gate, toward the end of March, 1626, on a sunny day when he was turning in his mind certain experiments concerning the conservation and induration of bodies, he was seized with a desire to try the effect of snow in preserving flesh from putrefaction. He alighted from his coach at a cottage where, as the story goes, he bought a fowl, and with his own hands stuffed it with snow. A chill and sudden sickness supervening, forced him to resort at once to the neighbouring house of Lord Arundel; and there, in ignorance of his approaching end, he dictates a letter to the host whose hospitality he had been compelled to claim.


"I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of the mountain Vesuvius. For I was also desirous to try an experiment or two, touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded exceedingly well; but in the journey (between London and Highgate) I was taken with such a fit of casting, as I knew not whether it were the stone, or some surfeit, or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's house I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me; which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's house was happy to me; and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it.

"I know how unfit it is for me to write to your Lordship with any other hand than mine own; but in troth my fingers are so disjointed with this fit of sickness, that I cannot steadily hold a pen."

Those fingers were never to hold a pen again. He died on the morning of Easter Sunday, 9 April, 1626.


Before proceeding to discuss Bacon's character, it seems fair to hear the best that can be said about him by a witness who knew him very well, or at all events had very good opportunities for knowing him; and such testimony we find in the brief memoir about him composed by his chaplain, Dr. Rawley. Making allowance for a little courtliness, a little disposition to

omit or gloss over anything unpleasing or ungraceful,1 a little excess of admiration, and here and there, perhaps, a tinge of obsequiousness such as may fairly be pardoned in a Lord Chancellor's chaplain, we can hardly deny that the writer felt a real and hearty affection for his great patron. The memoir

scarcely touches on Bacon's public career, at all events during the reign of James; but the latter portion of it gives some quaint and interesting details about his domestic life and habits, and illustrates the feelings with which he was regarded by his dependents and familiar friends. We have seen Bacon in the Law Courts, in the Star Chamber, in Parliament, and in what may be described as the King's Cabinet; we are now to see him as he appeared to his chaplain at home.

"There is a commemoration due as well to his abilities and virtues as to the course of his life. Those abilities which commonly go single in other men, though of prime and observable parts, were all conjoined and met in him. Those are, sharpness of wit, memory, judgment, and elocution. For the former three his books do abundantly speak them; which with what sufficiency he wrote, let the world judge; but with what celerity he wrote them, I can best testify. But for the fourth, his elocution, I will only set down what I heard Sir Walter Raleigh once speak of him by way of comparison (whose judgment may well be trusted), That the Earl of Salisbury was an excellent speaker, but no good penman; that the Earl of Northampton (the Lord Henry Howard) was an excellent penman, but no good speaker; but that Sir Francis Bacon was eminent in both.

"I have been induced to think, that if there were a beam of knowledge derived from God upon any man in these modern times, it was upon him. For though he was a great reader of books, yet he had not his knowledge from books, but from some grounds and notions from within himself; which, notwithstanding, he vented with great caution and circumspection. His book of Instauratio Magna 3 (which in his own account was the chiefest


1 Rawley avoids, for example, any mention of the pecuniary difficulties to which Bacon was reduced in his later years; and he not only omits all reference to the domestic difference which finally induced Bacon to revoke in his last will the dispositions previously made in his wife's favour, but even "speaks of their married life in terms which almost exclude the supposition of any (difference)."Spedding, vii. 524, 538.

2 i.e. not from books only: Ex libris tamen solis scientiam suam deprompsisse handquaquam concedere licet. This and the following notes (except where bracketed) are from Mr. Spedding, Works, i. 10-18.

3 For Instauratio Magna in this place, and also for Instauration a few lines further on, the Latin version substitutes Novum Organum. Rawley, when he spoke of the Instauration, was thinking no doubt of the volume in which the Novum Organum first appeared, and which contains all the pieces that stand in this edition before the De Augmentis.

of his works) was no slight imagination or fancy of his brain, but a settled and concocted notion, the production of many years' labour and travel. I myself have seen at the least twelve copies of the Instauration, revised year by year one after another, and every year altered and amended in the frame thereof, till at last it came to that model in which it was committed to the press; as many living creatures do lick their young ones, till they bring them to their strength of limbs.

"In the composing of his books he did rather drive at a masculine and clear expression than at any fineness or affectation of phrases, and would often ask if the meaning were expressed plainly enough, as being one that accounted words to be but subservient or ministerial to matter, and not the principal. And if his style were polite,1 it was because he would do no otherwise. Neither was he given to any light conceits, or descanting upon words, but did ever purposely and industriously avoid them; for he held such things to be but digressions or diversions from the scope intended, and to derogate from the weight and dignity of the style.

"He was no plodder upon books; though he read much, and that with great judgment, and rejection of impertinences incident to many authors; for he would ever interlace a moderate relaxation of his mind with his studies, as walking, or taking the air abroad in his coach, or some other befitting recreation; and yet he would lose no time, inasmuch as upon his first and immediate return he would fall to reading again, and so suffer no moment of time to slip from him without some present improvement.

"His meals were refections of the ear as well as of the stomach, like the Noctes Atticae, or Convivia Deipno-sophistarum, wherein a man might be refreshed in his mind and understanding no less than in his body. And I have known some, of no mean parts, that have professed to make use of their note-books when they have risen from his table. In which conversations, and otherwise, he was no dashing 3 man, as some men are, but ever a countenancer and fosterer of another man's parts. Neither was he one that would appropriate the speech wholly to himself, or delight to outvie others, but leave a liberty to the co-assessors to take their turns. Wherein he would draw a man on, and allure him to speak upon such a subject, as wherein he was particularly skilful, and would delight to speak. And for himself, he contemned no man's observations, but would light his torch at every man's candle.

"His opinions and assertions were for the most part binding, and not

1 The Latin version adds: Siquidem apud nostrates eloquii Anglicani artifex habitus est.

2 In the Latin version Rawley adds gentle exercise on horseback and playing at bowls: Equitationem, non citam sed lentam, globorum lusum, et id genus exercitia.

3 The word "dash" is used here in the sense in which Costard uses it in Love's Labour's Lost. 66 'There, an't shall please you; a foolish mild man; an honest man, look you, and soon dashed." Rawley means that Bacon was not a man who used his wit as some do, to put his neighbours out of countenance: Convivantium neminem aut alios colloquentium pudore suffundere gloriae sibi duxit, sicut nonnulli gestiunt.

contradicted by any; rather like oracles than discourses; which may be imputed either to the well weighing of his sentence by the scales of truth and reason, or else to the reverence and estimation wherein he was commonly had, that no man would contest with him; so that there was no argumentation, or pro and con (as they term it), at his table: or if there chanced to be any, it was carried with much submission and moderation.

"I have often observed, and so have other men of great account, that if he had occasion to repeat another man's words after him, he had an use and faculty to dress them in better vestments and apparel than they had before; so that the author should find his own speech much amended, and yet the substance of it still retained; as if it had been natural to him to use good forms, as Ovid spake of his faculty of versifying,

Et quod tentabam scribere, versus erat.

"When his office called him, as he was of the king's counsel learned, to charge any offenders, either in criminals or capitals, he was never of an insulting and domineering nature over them, but always tender-hearted, and carrying himself decently towards the parties (though it was his duty to charge them home), but yet as one that looked upon the example with the eye of severity, but upon the person with the eye of pity and compassion. And in civil business, as he was counsellor of estate, he had the best way of advising, not engaging his master in any precipitate or grievous courses, but in moderate and fair proceedings: the king whom he served giving him this testimony, That he ever dealt in business suavibus modis; which was the way that was most according to his own heart.

"Neither was he in his time less gracious with the subject than with his sovereign. He was ever acceptable to the House of Commons1 when he was a member thereof. Being the king's attorney, and chosen to a place in Parliament, he was allowed and dispensed with to sit in the House; which was not permitted to other attorneys.


"And as he was a good servant to his master, being never in nineteen years' service (as himself averred) rebuked by the king for anything relating to His Majesty, so he was a good master to his servants, and rewarded their long attendance with good places freely when they fell into his power; which was the cause that so many young gentlemen of blood and quality sought to list themselves in his retinue. And if he were abused by any of them in their places, it was only the error of the goodness of his nature, but the badges of their indiscretions and intemperances. "This lord was religious, for though the world be apt to suspect and prejudge great wits and politics to have somewhat of the atheist, yet he was conversant with God, as appeareth by several passages throughout the

1 The Latin version adds, in quo saepe peroravit, non sine magno applausu. 2 Gratis, in the Latin version; e. without taking any money for them, an unusual thing in Bacon's time, when the sale of offices was a principal source of all great men's incomes.

whole current of his writings. Otherwise he should have crossed his own principles, which were, That a little philosophy maketh men apt to forget God, as attributing too much to second causes; but the depth of philosophy bringeth a man back to God again. Now I am sure there is no man that will deny him, or account otherwise of him, but to have him been a deep philosopher. And not only so; but he was able to render a reason of the hope which was in him, which that writing of his of the Confession of the Faith doth abundantly testify. He repaired frequently, when his health would permit him, to the service of the church, to hear sermons, to the administration of the Sacrament of the blessed body and blood of Christ; and died in the true faith, established in the church of England.

"This is most true-he was free from malice, which (as he said himself) he never bred nor fed. He was no revenger of injuries; which if he had minded, he had both opportunity and place high enough to have done it. He was no heaver of men out of their places, as delighting in their ruin and undoing. He was no defamer of any man to his prince. One day, when a great statesman was newly dead, that had not been his friend, the king asked him, What he thought of that lord which was gone? he answered, That he would never have made His Majesty's estate better, but he was sure he would have kept it from being worse; which was the worst he would say of him: which I reckon not among his moral, but his Christian virtues.2

"His fame is greater and sounds louder in foreign parts abroad, than at home in his own nation; thereby verifying that divine sentence, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. Concerning which I will give you a taste only, out of a letter written from Italy (the storehouse of refined wits) to the late Earl of Devonshire, then the Lord Candish; I will expect the new essays of my Lord Chancellor Bacon, as also his History, with a great deal of desire, and whatsoever else he shall compose but in particular of his History I promise myself a thing perfect and singular, especially in Henry the Seventh, where he may exercise the talent of his divine understanding. This lord is more and more known, and his books here more and more delighted in; and those men that have more than ordinary knowledge in human affairs esteem him one of the most capable spirits of this age: and he is truly such. Now his fame doth not decrease with days since, but rather increase. Divers of his works have been anciently and yet lately translated into other tongues, both learned and modern, by foreign pens. Several persons of quality, during his lordship's life, crossed the seas on purpose to gain an opportunity of seeing him and discoursing with him; whereof one carried his lordship's

1 "He said he had breeding swans and feeding swans; but for malice, he neither bred it nor fed it."-From a commonplace book of Dr. Rawley's in the Lambeth Library.

2 [But see above, pp. 174, 175. Dr. Rawley appears not to have known, or to have forgotten "the worst that Bacon could say of Cecil."]

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