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nament of the house: as the gentleness and affability of his deportment won him the affection of all its members. In his profession, he quickly rose to so much eminence and reputation, that, at the age of twenty-eight years, he was named by Elizabeth her learned counsel extraordinary: a distinction which he needed no assistance from his father's merit with her to deserve. It was however next to impossible that so noble a genius, born to embrace the whole compass of science, should confine its researches within the narrow and perplexed study of precedents and authorities; a study hedged round with brambles and thorns, dark and barbarous in its beginnings, and rendered in its progress still more obscure, by the learned dulness of commentators and compilers: men, for the most part, of indefatigable industry, and of no spírit or discernment. Accordingly we find that in this interval he often gave full scope to his conceptions; surveying the whole state of learning, observing its defects, and imagining the proper methods to supply them. This he first attempted in a treatise which he intitled THE GREATEST BIRTH OF TIME; as appears from a letter, written after his retirement, to father Fulgentio, the Venetian, in which he passes a kind of censure on the pompous and swelling title prefixed to it. Though the piece itself is lost, it appears to have been the first outlines of that amazing design, which he afterwards filled up and finished in his grand Instauration of the sciences. As there is not a more amusing, perhaps a more useful speculation, than that of tracing the history of the human mind, if I may so express myself, in its progression from truth to truth, and from discovery to discovery; the intelligent reader would doubtless have been pleased to see, in the tract I am speaking of, by what steps and gradations a spirit like Bacon's advanced in building up, for more than thirty years together, his new and universal theory. He thought himself born for the use of human kind: and, in the letter above mentioned, styles himself, the servant of posterity.
These few hints for filling up this first part of our author's life, trivial and unsatisfactory as they may appear, I have yet been obliged to glean here and there in the rubbish of several collections, where they lay scattered, without order or connection. But I shall now no longer regard Bacon as a mere philosopher; as a man of speculation who conversed only with books and his own thoughts in the shade of retirement and leisure. The course of his fortunes produced him on the great theatre of the world, involved him in business, and complicated him with the most considerable persons of the age he lived in. He was honourably employed by one prince, and highly preferred under another. It will be therefore necessary, that this history may have its due extent and usefulness, to exhibit a general prospect of the two reigns in which Bacon flourished and fell, at least in their principal points of view. The characters of those with whom he had any connection will illustrate his, and shew it in a truer, as well as a fuller light.
I have yet another reason for enlarging this account beyond the ordinary limits. Our author's let ters are written, many of them at least, on public occasions, and may be considered as the most authentic vouchers for several remarkable occurrences, in which he himself was an actor, and well acquainted with the secret motives on which others acted. But as those things are for the most part only hinted at, or no farther opened than to serve the present purpose of his letter; they will require to be developed at some length, and ranged into their proper places.
Elizabeth had a larger share of good sense and sound judgment, than is commonly to be met with among women; accompanied with a greatness of mind and steadiness of purpose that might do honour to the best of men, These her natural endow ments received much, though severe, improvement from the dangers she was exposed to in the first part of her life. She grew up in a strict attention over her own actions, even over her looks and.
words, from the rigour of her father's temper, and particularly from the jealous cruelty of her sister's administration: a short but memorable period of time, when England beheld, under a female reign, such instances of merciless rage, such scenes of horror, as had of old startled the Roman world, under a Nero and a Domitian. The dreadful genius of that superstition to which she had devoted herself, then exerted its spirit undisguised, in betraying, tormenting, butchering, by the ministry of inhuman priests and inquisitors, whoever would not profess what he could not possibly believe. If we may credit historians, they had even doomed Elizabeth herself to die and she escaped, miraculously, not by the kindness, but the policy of Philip; himself a tyrant, the coolest and most determined of these latter ages.
At her accession to the throne, she found her revenues anticipated or exhausted; her kingdom, through the sanguinary madness of her predecessor, disjointed and broken of its vigour within; at the same time unsupported by allies and without consideration abroad. Her good sense led her to see, by the errors of her father and her sister, that she could expect to reign with security, only by deserving the confidence and gaining the love of the nation: and that in order thereto, she must propose to herself no other end of ruling but the happiness and honour of all her people. This system of policy, so simple in itself, so glorious in its consequences, and yet by princes so seldom pursued, she adhered to steadily, almost uniformly, through a long and triumphant reign; for this very reason triumphant !
The reformation of religion she attempted and effected, at a season when her power was unconfirmed, and in probable danger from intestine commotions. For revolutions in religion are apt to put the whole constitution of a society into ferment, even more strongly than alterations in government; as every individual is immediately and intimately actuated by what seems to him of highest and most last
ing concern. She kept awake, and animated, with wonderful address, the divisions in Scotland, in France, in the Netherlands: and that with more justice on her part, than is usually observed by princes when they would do ill offices to their neighbours. The sovereigns of those countries, when they agreed in nothing else, were ever combined in a common enmity to her: at a time too when she had nothing to oppose against their pretensions, their conspiracies, their open attacks, but her own courage and the native strength of England alone. And yet, by helping forward the reformation in Scotland; by supporting the protestants in France; by the wise and well-managed supplies she sent to the Dutch, who were struggling hard for their lives and liberties with an unrelenting tyrant: by this series of conduct, steadily pursued, she triumphed over all opposition, and rendered herself the arbitress of Europe. For it may be affirmed, that her administration made a greater impression on all the states round her, than it received itself from any: an undoubted proof of its firmness and active vigour.
When she came to the crown, she found the nation four millions in debt: a sum then almost incredible! and yet her œconomy alone enabled her to discharge it. The coin, which had been much embased by Henry the eighth, and by Mary wholly neglected, she quickly restored to its just standard; and therewith the public faith and credit. Her magazines she carefully replenished with arms, ammunition, warlike stores of every kind; and the youth all over England were ordered to be duly trained in military exercises. Her navy was fallen to decay, and almost abandoned. This she set herself to repair with an attention, which the great bulwark of this kingdom will ever deserve from a prince, who understands in what his own strength and that of his dominions naturally consist. Her fleet was at last a match for the mighty armada of Spain: that armada, which was boasted to be invincible, and was in truth a desperate effort of the whole power and resentment :
of her bitterest enemy. Her victory over him, as intire as it was glorious, gave security and renown to this island; and, whatever the partiality of foreign writers may have insinuated to the contrary, she owed it to her own heroical conduct, and the unexampled bravery of her subjects.
She was the first of our princes who pursued, in any considerable degree, the only sure method of making England great and powerful; by encouraging and extending our commerce; which, under her protection, grew high, and spread itself through the North, and to both the Indies. In a word, such was her conduct, such her good fortune, in this island and on the continent, that her allies had the strongest confidence in her assistance and good faith: that her enemies stood in awe of her power, and were forced to an unwilling approbation of her prudence. The applause of such as think they have cause to hate, and distress us, is the sincerest, as it is the noblest praise. Her œconomy was admirable. She husbanded the public money for her people's ease: she laid it out, on proper occasions, for their safety and honour. The undertakings of the government were never greater; the charge was never less. gives the highest idea of her ministry, and places their characters, in general, above imputation or reproach.
Of Sir Nicholas Bacon, our author's father, I have already given some account: and shall only add here, that he never aspired beyond the rank he brought with him to court. His moderation in all other respects was the same. When the queen visited him at his seat in Hertfordshire, she told him with an air of pleasantry, that his house was too little for him. No, replied the lord Keeper; but your majesty has made me too great for my house.
Walsingham, in his private character, was of unblemished honesty. As a minister he had singular sagacity in procuring intelligence; which he knew to apply, with great dexterity, to the purposes of government: devoting himself, with so generous a