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they behave themselves, yet laborant invidia. I find also that such persons as are of nature bashful (as myself is), whereby they want that plausible familiarity which others have, are often mistaken for proud. But once I know well and I most humbly beseech your Lordship to believe, that arrogancy and overweening is so far from my nature, as if I think well of myself in anything it is in this that I am free from that vice. And I hope upon this your Lordship's speech I have entered into those considerations as my behavior shall no more deliver me for other than I am. And so wishing unto your Lordmyself continuance of your good opinion with mind and means to deserve it, I humbly take my leave. Gray's Inn, this 6th day of May, 1586. Your Lordship's most bounden Nephew,

ship all honor and to


If a speedier progress through Gray's Inn was what this "late motion" aimed at, it seems to have had some success. On the 10th of February, 1585-6, a pension was held, at which (whether upon the mere motion of the Benchers or by the help of interest at Court I do not know) he was admitted "to have place with the Readers at the Readers' table; but not to have any voice in pension, nor to win ancienty of any that was his ancient, or should read before him." And this must have been speedily followed by full admission to the Bench. For in a list of his honors, as given in a book which seems to have been transferred by some accident from Gray's Inn to the British Museum (Harl. MSS. 1912), he is stated to have become a Bencher in 1586. And this I presume gave him that entrance "within bars," with liberty to plead in the Courts of Westminster, for which he had been seeking. But before that time he had to witness another immense national excitement, and to be a spectator, though happily not an actor, in one of the great tragedies of the world.

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I HAVE spoken of the agitations into which all England was thrown by the conspiracies of 1583 and 1584, and of the expression which it found in Parliament. The violence of the popular storm may be judged of by the tenor of the Act which was then passed, and passed unanimously by both Houses - the Lower House being at that time not at all remarkable for subserviency, but quite prepared in a popular cause to take courses most distasteful to the Crown-for the purpose of giving a legal sanction to the voluntary association for the defense of the Queen's life. This Act not only authorized the trial by a new tribunal - a body of not less than twenty-four Lords and Privy Councillors appointed for the purpose by the Queen, with judges to assist-of any pretender to the Crown by whom or for whom any attempt should be made against her life; not only empowered a majority of these commissioners, upon proof that such attempt had been made with the privity of the persons accused, to pass sentence of death upon them but actually made it lawful, as soon as such sentence had been passed and duly proclaimed, for any of the Queen's subjects "by virtue of this Act and her Majesty's direction in that behalf" to "pursue them to death." So much at least, the words of the Act strictly construed seem to imply;1 and I see no reason to doubt

1 27 Eliz. c. 1. "And that thereupon all her Highness' subjects shall and may lawfully, by virtue of this Act and her Majesty's direction in that behalf,

that they truly expressed the deliberate wish and intention of the alarmed and irritated Protestantism of England.


Whatever may be thought of its equity in other respects, the Act had one merit. It was at least a fair warning to all men, with due notice of the consequences, not to engage in any such attempt upon their peril. It had not been in force, however, for much more than a twelvemonth, when the nation was again alarmed by news of a fresh conspiracy, more desperate than any the former, with the threefold object of assassinating Elizabeth, raising an insurrection in England, and inducing an invasion from abroad. That such a conspiracy was actually on foot, and that to liberate Mary of Scotland and place her on the throne was the main and express end of it, therefore, that it was in that sense an attempt on Elizabeth's life made for her, - did not admit of a doubt. Whether she knew of it, or was otherwise accessary, is a question upon which modern historians, knowing some things which nobody knew then, and ignorant, probably, of many things which everybody knew then, may reasonably differ. But the unanimous verdict of forty noblemen and privy councillors, duly appointed under the late Act to try the case, would no doubt be accepted by that generation as decisive. Before this verdict had been pronounced, and while the history of the whole plot, fully confirmed by the confession of the parties, was yet fresh news in the land, a new Parliament had been summoned. The general election and the trial of Mary before the commissioners must have been going on at the same time; and on the 29th of October, 1586, only four days after their senby all forcible and possible means, pursue to death every of such wicked persons, by whom or by whose means, assent or privity, any such invasion or rebellion shall be in form aforesaid denounced to have been made, or such wicked act attempted," etc. The clause may perhaps have been intended to provide against the chance of rescue or escape.

tence had been declared, the houses met. The case was at once laid before them, was eagerly taken up, vehemently debated (though the speakers seem to have been all on one side), and concluded by a unanimous confirmation of the sentence, accompanied by addresses to the Queen from both houses, earnestly praying for the publication and speedy execution of it. And though it must be owned that their language and arguments, when looked back upon out of the security of settled times, seem to savor more of fear and fury than of judgment and deliberation, yet, perhaps, if a man could really understand the case, if he could carry his imagination back into the time, so as truly to conceive the beliefs, the hopes, the fears, which then ruled in men's minds, -the vast interests at stake, the solid grounds of alarm, the universal conviction of Mary's acquiescence in the whole plot, he would think that this Parliament was not more extravagant in its humor than parliaments are apt to be in seasons of popular excitement even now, and that the practical conclusion to which it came admits of a fair defense. Certainly, if we might but assume that the trial before the Commissioners was fairly conducted and the verdict just (which I have no doubt everybody believed then), the vote might be justified. The outrageous clauses of the statute under which Mary was tried, were not in question; she had been found guilty of being an accessary to the projected assassination; and whatever had seemed to justify her detention in captivity, must have seemed much more to justify her trial and execution for such an act, especially after such a warning.

In this Parliament, Bacon sat for Taunton in Somersetshire. His name is mentioned by D' Ewes (4th November) as one of the speakers on "the Great Cause; " also as one of the committees to whom it was referred, and who were continually occupied with it until the 2d of

December; on which day the House was adjourned. But of what he said, or the part he took (more than that he spoke on the popular side), no record remains; nor is there any allusion in any of his writings, that I know of, from which his opinion upon this case can be inferred. Upon a case so rare, and so full of matter to strike the imagination, to touch the feelings, and to exercise the judgment, he must doubtless have had many thoughts; but whatever the conclusion, they can hardly have been other than painful; painful for the conflict of feelings involved in the case itself, more painful for the reflection it cast upon the character of Elizabeth; whose conduct after the passing and confirmation of the sentence-showing as it did a disposition not only to evade herself, but to shift upon others, the responsibility of that which was to be done could not even to the most favorable interpreter but seem unworthy of her. I say a disposition, not a determination: because those inconsistencies in her conduct at this juncture which are commonly imputed to cold-blooded hypocrisy and deliberate double-dealing, may in my opinion be more probably explained as the result of a real struggle between strength of will and irresolution of judgment. I believe that she was really perplexed in her mind, and did not know what to do; and as she never troubled herself to conceal from her councillors those hesitations and variations of purpose which almost always preceded her final determinations, I conceive that many of the speeches upon which the charge of hypocrisy most rests, were in fact the expression of thoughts half made up,- conclusions which were still in the balance, which she had not decided to act upon, and did not intend her councillors to adopt as directions. They on their part had a difficult task to perform. Not liking to ask for more distinct resolutions on a subject on which the very difficulty of resolving made her irritable, they had to guess what hints they were meant to act

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