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CHAP. Duke of Buckingham,-palliating the perfidy with which he had broken off negotiations with the Spanish government, and the folly with which he was involving the country in useless hostilities. This help was much wanted, for the adherents of Bristol and Pembroke were multiplying rapidly, and deep discontent was spreading among all ranks of society.

Death of James I.,

March 27.

1625. Bacon's hopes at

ment of new reign disappointed.

While Bacon looked for his reward, the scene suddenly shifted. The Sovereign whom he had so long despised and flattered was no more, and a new reign had commenced.

Bacon no doubt was in hopes that Charles, who had shown commence such attachment to him, and whom he had so sedulously cultivated by letters, dedications, and messages, being on the throne, Buckingham, who had kept the Prince in a state of great thraldom, would be dismissed, and he himself might be placed at the helm of affairs. Even if Buckingham retained his ascendency, a hope remained to the Ex-chancellor from a growing coldness between him and Lord Keeper Williams. But what was Bacon's mortification to see the despotism of Buckingham still more absolute if possible under the son than it had ever been under the father, and the Great Seal restored to the keeping of the Welshman, whom he invariably despised, and whom he had such reason to dislike!

He renounces

He felt the deepest disappointment*; a severe attack of illness followed, and he resolved to renounce politics-in which politics and public life. he bitterly regretted that he had ever engaged, — uttering this lamentation,-"The talent which God has given me I have misspent in things for which I was least fit." He published no more pamphlets; he wrote no more letters of solicitation to Buckingham; he did not seek to disturb by any memorial of himself the festivities of the young Sovereign on his marriage with his French bride; he declined attending the coronation as a Peer, which he was entitled to do, taking precedence of all the ancient Barons; and when the writ of summons to the parliament requiring him to be present to counsel the King circa ardua regni was delivered to him, he

Even in his last will he cannot conceal his sense of the inconstancy of Charles, whom he thus describes, "My most gracious Sovereign, who ever when he was Prince was my patron."


A. D. 1625.

said,—“I have done with such vanities." While squabbles CHAP. were going on in parliament, first at Westminster and then at Oxford, whither it was necessary to adjourn on account of the plague, and the nation was in a flame by the abrupt dissolution, he remained in retirement at Gorhambury, and as far as his exhausted frame would permit, dedicated himself to those studies which he regretted had been so often interrupted by pursuits which could neither confer internal peace nor solid glory.

He even heard without emotion in the following November, that preparatory to the summoning of another parliament, Lord Keeper Williams had been dismissed, and that, without any application or communication to himself, the Great Seal had been transferred to Sir Thomas Coventry. He foresaw that his earthly career was drawing to a close, and he prepared to meet his end with decency and courage. He was reconciled to Bishop Williams, whom he forgave the various evil turns he had formerly so bitterly complained of, and even now admitted into his confidence.

Nov. 1625.
Great Seal
from Wil-

Transfer of

liams to

On the 19th of December, 1625, with his own hand he Bacon wrote his last will, which contains touches of true pathos and


sublimity. After some introductory words he thus proceeds:
-"For my burial, I desire it may be in St. Michael's Church,
near St. Alban's: there was my mother buried, and it is the
parish church of my mansion-house at Gorhambury, and it is
the only Christian church within the walls of old Verulam.
For my name and
memory, I leave it to men's charitable
speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next ages." He
then gives directions respecting his published works, and
leaves two volumes of his Speeches and Letters which he
had collected to the Bishop of Lincoln and the Chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster, to be dealt with as they should
think fit. He bequeaths many legacies to his friends, and
directs the surplus of his property, after payment of debts and
legacies, to be laid out in founding lectureships in the

makes his

last will.


Laudably anxious about his future fame, while he was Solicits making Christian preparation for the great change which approached, he wrote a few days after to the Bishop of letters and

to edit his



Dec. 31. 1625.


CHAP. Lincoln, to inform of him of the trust he wished him to undertake:"I find that the ancients, as Cicero, Demosthenes, Plinius Secundus, and others, have preserved both their orations and their epistles. In imitation of whom I have done the like to my own, which nevertheless I will not publish while I live; but I have been bold to bequeath them to your Lordship and Mr. Chancellor of the Duchy. My speeches perhaps you will think fit to publish the letters many of them touch too much upon late matters of state to be published; yet I was willing they should not be lost." The Bishop said in his answer, "I do embrace the honour with all thankfulness, and the trust imposed upon me with all religion and devotion." At the same time, while he does justice to Bacon's oratorical powers, he pretty plainly intimates that his fame would not be raised by the publication of his letters,-a criticism in which I entirely concur, for they in general seem to me written in a stiff, formal, ungraceful style, and when he tries to be light and airy, we have such a botch as might have been expected if Horace Walpole had been set down to write the NOVUM ORGANUM. The felicitous epistolary tone had not yet been caught from the French, and it was not till near half a century afterwards that there were any good letters in our language.

His translation of


Though his body was now much enfeebled, his mental activity never left him. He wrote some religious tracts, and he employed himself in a metrical translation, into English, of some of the Psalms of David, showing by this effort, it must be confessed, more piety than poetry. His ear had not been formed, nor his fancy fed, by a perusal of the divine productions of Surry, Wyat, Spenser, and Shakspeare, or he could not have produced rhymes so rugged, and turns of expression so mean. Few poets deal in finer imagery than is to be found in the writings of Bacon; but if his prose is sometimes poetical, his poetry is always prosaic.

This, the last of his works which he lived to finish, he dedicated to a private friend whom he much valued, who was a divine, and himself a writer of sacred poetry; thus addressing him," It being my manner for dedications to choose those that I hold most fit for the argument, I thought that in

respect of divinity and poesy met, whereof the one is the matter the other the style of this little writing, I could not make better choice.” *




He returns

By means of the sweet air of the country he had obtained some degree of health†" in the autumn of 1625, but a dreadfully severe winter followed, which aggravated his complaints and brought him very low. In the beginning of the A.D. 1626. following year he was removed, for the benefit of medical to Gray's advice, to his lodging in Gray's Inn, and his strength and Inn. spirits revived; but he confined himself to those noble studies which he had long sacrificed to professional drudgery and courtly intrigue.

Summoned as a Peer to Charles's second parliament, which met in February, he declined to take his seat, or to interest himself in the struggles going on between the King and the Commons, and between Bristol and Buckingham. But the firmness and magnanimity which he displayed gave to this last sad stage of his life a dignity beyond what office and power could bestow. His friends affectionately gathered round him, showing him every mark of attachment and respect; the public, forgetting his errors, anticipated what was due to his "name and memory;" and the learned in foreign countries eagerly inquired after the great English philosopher, who was hardly known to them as a Judge or a Minister. It was from seeing and conversing with him at this period that Ben Jonson wrote "ex imo corde," what may be considered the finest panegyric, because the most natural and most pathetic, that his high qualities have ever called forth. "My conceit of his person was never increased toward him by his place or honours, but I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever by his works one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages: in his adversity I ever prayed that God would give him strength, — for greatness he could not want;-neither could I condole in a word or syllable for him, as knowing no accident could do harm to virtue, but rather help to make it manifest."

* Mr. George Herbert. Works, ii. 552.
† Letter to Mr. Palmer, Oct. 29. 1625.



His last experi

Many distinguished foreigners came to England for the express purpose of seeing and conversing with him. Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, having returned to his own country, kept up a close correspondence with him till the time of his death.

The Marquis D'Effiat, who brought over the Princess Henrietta Maria, distinguished for his elegant accomplishments no less than his high rank, went to Gray's Inn to pay his respects to the man whose writings he had studied and admired. Bacon, sick in bed, did not like to turn him away, but received him with the curtains drawn. "You resemble the angels," said the Ambassador; "we hear those beings continually talked of; we believe them superior to mankind; and we never have the consolation to see them."

His love of science never was more eager and unwearied than now, amidst the evils which surrounded him, and which he knew he could not overcome. In contemplation of a new edition of his "Natural History," he was keenly examining the subject of antiseptics, or the best means of preventing putrefaction in animal substances. "The great apostle of experimental philosophy was destined to become its martyr.” It struck him suddenly, that flesh might as well be preserved by snow as by salt. From the length and severity of the winter, he expected that snow might still, in shaded situations, be discovered on the ground. Dr. Wetherborne, the King's physician, agreed to accompany and assist him in a little excursion to make the experiment. At Highgate they found snow lying behind a hedge in great abundance, and, entering a cottage, they purchased a fowl lately killed, which His sudden was to be the subject of the experiment. The philosopher



He is

carried to Lord Arundel's,

at High


insisted on stuffing the body of the fowl with snow with his own hands. Soon after this operation, the cold and the damp struck him with a chill, and he began to shiver. He was carried to his coach, but was so seriously indisposed that he could not travel back to Gray's Inn, and he was conveyed to the house of his friend, the Earl of Arundel, at Highgate. There he was kindly received, and, out of ceremony, placed in the

"Viri primarii aliquot, dum adhuc in vivis fuit, nullam aliam ob causam huc in Angliam transfretarunt, quam ut eum conspicirent et cum eo coram loquendi opportunitatem captarent.”— Rawley.

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