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April 19. Bucking

ham's

regard to

been a conspiracy amongst them to insert statements which had never really been made. To this Arundel replied, that the answers had been written down in the presence position with of the committee, and that they tallied exactly with Bacon. the spoken evidence. To this statement, confirmed as it was by other members of the committee, no answer was possible. The remainder of the reports was read, and finally the three committees were amalgamated, in order to draw up a connected statement of the whole evidence. The Peers then adjourned to the 24th.2

the Lords.

The joint committee, thus constituted, consisted of sixteen peers and prelates. Their names may be at once accepted as Temper of a proof that the Lords, as a body, desired to approach the delicate inquiry before them in a spirit of impartiality. The only section of the House not represented upon the committee was that composed of the connexions of the Villiers family, and of the sycophants who basked in the favourite's smile. Arundel, Sheffield, and Neile were there, ready to resist any excesses of factious animosity against a faithful servant of the Crown,,whilst the names of the pure-minded Andrewes, of the virtuous Morton, and of that Russell who, long afterwards, in times when few knew what moderation was, carried to the grave, as Earl of Bedford, amidst the regrets of all honest Englishmen, a well-earned reputation for singular moderation and discretion, were a sufficient guarantee that in the discussions which were impending, nothing would be left undone to secure the furtherance of equal justice without respect of persons.3

Of the general effect of the examinations read, some inkling seems to have been carried to Bacon. From a fresh letter April 20. which he addressed to the King on the 20th, it is Bacon writes again evident that his hope of being able to resist the acto the King. cusations against him was growing faint. He trusted, he said, that the Lords would be like his Majesty in imitating Him who had refused to break the broken reed, or to quench the smoking flax. "It is not possible,” he concluded by saying, 2 Lords' Journals, iii. 78, 179. 3 Lords' Journals, iii. 74.

1 Elsing's Notes, 9.

1621

66

BACON'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT.

91

nor it were not safe for me to answer particulars till I have my charge; which, when I shall receive, I shall, without figleaves or disguise, excuse what I can excuse, extenuate what I can extenuate, and ingenuously confess what I can neither clear nor extenuate. And if there be anything which I might conceive to be no offence, and yet is, I desire to be informed, that I may be twice penitent-once for my fault, and the second time for my error.'

He relinquishes

his defence.

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Scarcely was this letter written, when some friendly hand brought him a copy of the examinations which had been read in the House of Lords. The effect was instantaneous. All thought that he was struggling against a factious opposition, was now at an end. He saw, as in a mirror, the hidden secrets of his life revealed. Actions which had long ago slipped out of his memory, and which, at the time, had seemed utterly unimportant, now stood out in strange distinctness before him. In his last letter, he had talked of excuse and extenuation. He now knew that he had done that for which there was no excuse, and for which extenuation would be of no avail.

Yet even in this hour of trial, conscious of the integrity of his motives, and knowing well that if there had been corruption in his actions, there had at least been none in his heart, he was unable to realise the effect which the revelation would produce upon others. He hoped that the Lords would be satisfied with his resignation of the Great Seal, and would spare him any further disgrace.

the King,

On the 21st, therefore, he made one more appeal to the King, praying him to use his influence with the Lords, to persuade them to be content with his general submisApril 21. Appeals to sion, to be followed by his resignation of the Seal. 'But," he concluded, in words which showed that his old buoyancy of spirit was still uncrushed, "because he that hath taken bribes is apt to give bribes, I will go farther, and present your Majesty with a bribe; for, if your Majesty give me peace and leisure, and God give me life, I will present you

Bacon to the King, April 20, Letters and Life, vii. 240.

1

April 22. and makes submission

with a good history of England, and a better digest of your laws." On the following day he made his promised submission to the Lords. His words, he said, came from wasted spirits and an oppressed mind. Yet, strange as it to the Lords. might seem, though in the midst of as great affliction as mortal man could endure, honour being above life, he would begin with a profession of gladness; for he could not but rejoice that, for the future, the greatness of a judge would be no sanctuary or protection of guiltiness (and that was, in a word, the beginning of a golden world), and that magistrates would learn, by his example, to fly from the very semblance of corruption as from a serpent.

Even in his misery Bacon's first thoughts were for his country. He then turned to his own case. "But to pass," he wrote, "from the motions of my heart, whereof God is only judge, to the merits of my cause, whereof your lordships are judges under God and His Lieutenant, I do understand there hath been heretofore expected from me some justification, and therefore I have chosen one only justification, instead of all other, out of the justifications of Job. For, after the clear submission and confession which I shall now make unto your lordships, I hope I may say and justify with Job, in these words :- I have not hid my sin as did Adam, nor concealed my thoughts in my bosom.' This is the only justification

which I will use.

"It resteth therefore that, without fig-leaves, I do ingenuously confess and acknowledge that, having understood the particulars of the charge, not formally from the House, but enough to inform my conscience and memory, I find matter sufficient and full, both to move me to desert the defence, and to move your lordships to condemn and censure me."

It was useless, he went on to say, to trouble them by singling out particulars against which he might justly except, to raise scruples touching the credit of the witnesses, or to plead extenuating circumstances. He was about to resign his office, "and therefore," he ended by saying, "my humble suit to your

Bacon to the King, April 21, Letters and Life, vii. 240.

1621

BACON'S SUBMISSION.

93

lordships is that my penitent submission may be my sentence, and the loss of the Seal my punishment; and that your lordships will spare any further sentence, but recommend me to his Majesty's grace and pardon for all that is past. God's Holy Spirit be amongst you." 1

satisfy the

Lords.

Bacon had forgotten that it is not the business of a court of law to inquire into motives, and that the Lords would only April 24. stultify themselves if at this point they gave up the It does not investigation without recording their sentence upon acts which he had himself admitted to be indefensible. It was in vain, therefore, that his letter was brought before them by a personage no less influential than the Prince of Wales. As soon as it had been read, there was silence for a long time throughout the House. Then Pembroke rose. It was a question, he said, whether the Lord Chancellor's submission was sufficient for them to ground a judgment upon without further inquiry. As soon as the House had gone into committee to discuss the point thus raised, it became evident that the submission would not be accepted in the form in which it had been tended. Certain definite accusations had been made, and the Lords wanted to know, in so many words, whether they were true or not. The submission was therefore unanimously rejected.

In the course of the discussion a new question had been started by Spencer :-Was the Lord Chancellor to be summoned to the bar to answer to the charges in person? Buckingham once more interposed in Bacon's behalf. He hoped, he said, that they would make a charitable exposition of the case, and would 'attribute this thing to the corruption of the time in respect of the quality of the person.' The Chancellor had already acknowledged himself to be guilty in general, though not in particular. Let a message be sent to him, in order that he might have an opportunity of making a full acknowledgment of his fault, before they resorted to the extreme step of sending for him in person. Arundel and Pembroke followed in support of the same view. "Shall the Great Seal," said

1 Bacon to the Lords, April 22, Lords' Journals, iii. 84.

Pembroke, "come to the bar ?" It was in vain that Saye, then, as ever, bitterly one-sided, urged that Bacon should be sent for; and that Suffolk, not unmindful of the day when the Lord Chancellor had sat in judgment upon himself, argued on the same side. Wallingford probably expressed the general opinion. His lordship's submission, he said, was too short, and it was unfit that he should presume to dictate his own punishment. Nor was it becoming that he should throw the blame of his faults upon the age rather than upon himself. He had all due respect for the person of the accused man, but if a reformation was intended, the proceedings should be as public as possible. Yet, after all, how could the Chancellor come to the bar with the seals? The House, on this point, at least, felt with Pembroke and Wallingford, and it was decided that Bacon should be applied to for a fuller answer.1 A copy of the evidence against him was accordingly transmitted to him, together with the articles of accusation as they had proceeded from the committee.2

The next day, after an unsuccessful attempt to re-open the question of summoning the Chancellor to the bar, messengers

were sent to inquire into his intentions. "The April 25. Lord Chancellor," they reported, "will make no manner of defence to the charge, but meaneth to acknowledge corruption, and to make a particular confession to every point, and after that an humble submission." He desired, however, to add an explanation on some particular points. Five days were accordingly allowed him to prepare his statement; and, in spite of Suffolk's renewed opposition, it was resolved that this statement should be made in writing.3

April 30.

Bacon's comments

on the

On April 30, accordingly, the promised confession was handed in, with some insignificant exceptions. The examinations of the witnesses have unfortunately not been preserved, but by those who have learned by experience to place unreserved confidence in Bacon's truthfulness, his own declarations, together with the additional 2 Lords Journals, iii. 85.

charges.

1 Elsing's Notes, 13.

Elsing's Notes, 18.

These are amongst the House of Lords' MSS. and were published by me in the Archæologia, vol. xli.

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