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you were and what I heard lately from you, but I could say little that he knew not, neither was I so simple to say all to a boy at the door, his master being within. This strangeness which hath at other times been used towards me by your brother, hath made me sometimes to doubt that he greatly mistaketh me, for I do these offices both towards you and him upon no base respect or for insinuation, but only of good affection to either for the best considerations, and yet, in truth, the rather unto him by reason of the good acceptation it hath pleased you to yield of the poor acquaintance and mutual amity that is between us, and I hope shall not be lessened hereafter: whereof thus much to yourself alone, which I trust you shall only take knowledge of, and in your discretion use it accordingly."

Francis seems to have been as anxious as any one for his brother's return at the end of his three years.

"Yet by the way, in a word or two, he hath showed his earnest desire to have you return at your time limited by your license, wishing me to be a persuader thereof, and saying that he marvelled how those that keep abroad more than that time could live to their contentment, seeing that himself was more than weary of his being forth, and that the home life is to be thought upon as of the end in due season." (May 8th, 1582.)

And again (May 6th, 1583) —

"Whensoever we talk but three words together, two and a half of them contain a most hearty wish for your speedy return."

CHAPTER II.

A. D. 1584-1586. ÆTAT. 24-26.

THE occasion upon which Bacon commenced what may be called his public life deserves particular notice, as well fitted to feed and stimulate that interest in questions of Church and State which I suppose to have been excited in him by the accidents of his boyhood and encouraged by his residence in France.

In November, 1584, a new Parliament was called, under circumstances of a highly agitating character. The Bull of Excommunication which had been issued against Elizabeth in 1569 having failed to frighten England out of its Protestantism, and the experience of the next twelve years having shown that, so long as she lived, there was little chance of overthrowing the reformed religion by open methods, the hopes of the Catholic world turned thenceforward towards her death; in the event of which (no provision having been made for the succession) Mary of Scotland would have claimed the crown; her claim would have been supported by the Pope, by Spain, by a considerable party in Scotland, and (what was perhaps of still more importance) by the natural right of inheritance; and thereupon would probably have ensued either the reëstablishment of the Catholic religion in England, or a civil war, or both. Such an apprehension was sufficient of itself to unite all Protestants in emulous devotion to Elizabeth; and this devotion was warmed into enthusiasm by the detection of several secret conspiracies against her life, together with her own magnan

imous contempt for personal danger. Upon this point, therefore, all varieties of Protestant opinion met. Whoever regarded the Reformed Church as God's cause; whoever believed the anointed head to be under God's especial protection; whoever abhorred murder and treachery; whoever feared civil war; whoever valued national independence; whoever felt his blood run warmer at the sight of a woman who in the face of perils so secret and imminent could exhibit all majesty and no fear, all fell in alike with the popular sentiment of the time, and swelled the flood of loyalty.1 During the twelve months immediately preceding, three several plots for the assassination of Elizabeth had been detected; plots undertaken indeed by individuals, but all certainly Popish, and all supposed to be countenanced by the Popish powers, and to have in view the placing of a Popish queen on the throne. Hereupon a voluntary association had been entered into by subjects of all degrees,2 the members of which bound themselves to defend the Queen against all her enemies, foreign or domestic; to prosecute to the death any person by whom or for whom violence should be offered to her life, and to hold such person forever incapable of the crown. This was in October, 1584. On the 23d of November, in the midst of the general fervor and alarm, the Houses met; and Francis Bacon, now in his twenty-fifth year, took his seat for Melcombe, in Dorsetshire. The causes of their meeting were explained by Sir Christopher Hatton, then Vice-Chamberlain, with unprecedented frankness. "His speech," says Fleetwood, Recorder of London, writing to Burghley, "tended to particularities and special actions, and con

1 The assassination of the Prince of Orange, July 9, 1584, doubtless had a strong effect upon the popular mind.

2 Burghley to Lord Cobham, October 27, 1584: Lodge, vol. ii., p. 250. 3 He had been also returned for Gatton, by the interest of Burghley, to whom, as Master of the Wards, the nomination, during the minority of the one constituent, at that time belonged. Ellis's Letters, 3d series, vol. iv., p. 52.

cluded upon the Queen's Highness's safety. Before this time I never heard in Parliament the like things uttered; and especially the things contained in the latter speech. They were magnalia regni." Of the debates which followed we have no record; but they ended in the sanction of the "association" by Parliament, in the creation of a new tribunal for the trial of conspirators against the Queen's life, and the enactment of new laws, more severe than ever, against priests and Jesuits. With such antecedents therefore, such an entrance, and such a conclusion, we may presume that they were warm, and that the first breath of Bacon's public life was drawn in a very contagious atmosphere of loyalty and anti-popery. But if the debates on this question were impressive and exciting from the ardor and unanimity of concurrence, a unanimity which was proved and strengthened rather than disturbed by the single opposition of Dr. Parry, whose vehement protest against the Jesuit Bill was treated as a contempt of the House, and who was himself apprehended and executed not long after for a design to assassinate the Queen, there were others which must have been not less so from the very opposite cause. Upon a question no less vital than the government of the Church and the proceedings of the bishops, a majority, and apparently a very considerable majority, of the Lower House was in direct opposition to the Queen. And this difference was the more formidable, because it arose out of no accidental or transitory occasion, but had its root in the very nature of Protestantism, and went to the heart and conscience of the nation. If the will of God was not confided exclusively to Pope or priest, but revealed in the Scriptures to all men, it was the duty of all men to seek it there. Those who for that purpose searched and studied the Scriptures must come to their own conclusions. Those conclusions must be binding upon their consciences, not only to hold

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but to preach. It was God's cause and work. To tell men to seek, and yet to prescribe limits to what they should find, was to set human authority above the Word, the very thing against which Protestantism protested. Now the first Reformers, being themselves Protestants in the true sense of the word, that is to say, dissenters on grounds of conscience from a creed enjoined by authority, -understood this part of the fact, and left room enough within the pale of the establishment for all the varieties of opinion which their own time was likely to breed. Their successors inherited their work, but not their policy. They accepted the creed of the first Protestants, but would have no more protesting. Standing in place of authority, they were for using their power to stop the progress of what they considered to be error, and enforce an outward uniformity of doctrine and discipline. Thus upon the pedestal from which the idol. of the Papacy had been cast down the idol of Orthodoxy was set up; and the power of the keys, which had been taken from the Pope as a power not entrusted to human hands, was transferred to a set of commissioners appointed by the Crown, who took upon themselves to suspend or silence or remove from office all ministers who preached what they did not approve. And they made the fatal mistake of exercising this power not merely against incompetent and turbulent fanatics, over whom with opinion on their side they might have prevailed, but against men as learned, as moderate, as earnest, and quite as well qualified to interpret the Scriptures as any of themselves, and who had popular opinion moreover running strongly in their favor. For at this time the proceedings of the Catholics, threatening as they did the overthrow of Church and State both, had naturally made the people more Protestant than ever, and engaged their hearty sympathies in favor of the new reformers, who, with Cartwright and Travers at their head, had come to

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