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He was born at York-House, in the Strand, January 22, 1561; and discovered such early indications of extraordinary genius, that the Queen herself, while he was yet but a boy, took a particular delight in trying him with questions; and, from the good sense and manliness of his answers, was wont to call him in mirth, her young Lord Keeper.'
His proficiency in learning was so rapid, that in the twelfth year of his age he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, under Whitgift (subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury) and had completed his studies there in his sixteenth; when his father sent him to Paris, with a recommendation to Sir Amias Pawlet, at that time English Embassador in France. The confidence of this statesman he so entirely gained, that he was soon afterward entrusted with a secret commission to the Queen, upon the satisfactory execution of which he returned to the Continent to finish his travels.
While abroad, he spent his time, not in learning the vices and follies of foreigners, but in studying their constitutions of government, their manners and
That her literary reputation extended beyond her own country, appears from the circumstance of Beza's dedicating to her his • Meditations.' In Birch's Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth' her name frequently occurs, with portions of her correspondence amply justifying her character for learning. The time of her death, and the place of her burial, are equally uncertain.
* Extraordinary as it may appear, he was heard even at that early age to object to the Aristotelian system (then predominant), "not," as he himself observed to his chaplain and biographer Dr. Rawley, "for the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ever ascribe all high abilities, but for the unfruitfulness of the way; being a philosophy only for disputations and contentions, but barren in the production of works for the benefit of the life of man."
customs, and the characters and objects of their princes and ministers; and, in his nineteenth year, he drew up a Succinct View of the State of Europe,' which is still extant among his works.
During his residence in France, Sir Nicholas died suddenly, without having made for him any separate provision. This obliged him immediately to return home, in order to embrace some respectable employment for his support. With his father's reputation and success before him, it is no wonder that he fixed upon that of the law. He accordingly entered himself of Gray's Inn,* and speedily became so eminent in his profession, that at the age of twenty eight he was appointed by Queen Elizabeth her Counsel Extraordinary.
During the first years however of his residence in this Society, he did not confine his studies entirely to the law, but indulged his excursive genius in a survey of the whole circle of sciences. Here indeed he appears to have formed, if he did not mature, the plan of his great philosophical work. † In 1588, he was appointed Reader at Gray's Inn.
* His residence in this place he found so agreeable, that lie erected there an elegant structure, long known by the name of "Lord Bacon's Lodgings,' which he inhabited occasionally throughout the greatest part of his life.
+ Whether or not this first plan has descended to us, is unascertained. It might probably be that which Gruter, in his edition of Bacon's Latin Works, has published under the title of ‹ Tem» poris Partus Maximus. Upon this subject the curious reader may consult Biogr. Brit. Art. BACON, Note (D.) He appears afterward, however, to have been ashamed of this pompous designation, as in a letter to Father Fulgentio (a learned Italian) he laments the puerile and vain confidence, which led him to adopt it. Equidem memini me quadraginta abhinc annis juvenile opusculum circa has res confecisse, quod magna prorsus fiduciâ, et mag nifico titulo, Temporis Partum Maximum' inscripsi.
The Lord-Treasurer Burghley having married his aunt by the mother's side, Bacon frequently applied to him for some post under the government, with a view, as he declares, "to procure the greater assistance to his capacity and industry in perfecting his philosophical designs." But his importunity never obtained him any thing, except the reversion of the office of Register to the Star-Chamber, then reckoned worth 1,600l. per ann., which did not fall to him till nearly twenty years afterward.* Thinking therefore, probably, that he was neglectd by his uncle, he attached himself strongly to the Earl of Essex: and hence when that nobleman, a little before his fall, warmly solicited for Bacon the solicitor-generalship, his cousin Sir Robert Cecil successfully opposed his appointment, by representing him to the Queen as a man of mere speculation, and more likely to distract her affairs than to serve her usefully and with judgement. This, however, appears to have been an
This made him say, "It was like another man's ground buttalling upon his house, which might mend his prospect but did not fill his barn." In gratitude, however, for this reversion, he published in 1592 (his first political work)" Certain Observations upon a Libel entitled A Declaration of the true Causes of the great Troubles,' in which he warmly vindicates at once the Lord Treasurer and his own father in particular, and occasionally the rest of Elizabeth's ministry.
+ Cecil's conversation with Essex, upon this subject, is preserved by Dr. Birch in his Memoirs of the Reign of Elizabeth. The Earl, subsequently, generously made him a present of Twickenham Park and it's Garden of Paradise, whither by his friend's indulgence he had frequently before resorted as a re treat, calculated both for study and for the restoration of his health: a donation so considerable, that Bacon himself, who speaks of this singularly noble act of friendship with warm expressions of affection and gratitude, acknowledged he sold it VOL. II. 2 F
unfounded calumny. Most of his works on law were printed, though not published, in this reign. In 1596, he finished his 'Maxims of the Law,' constituting the first part of his Elements of the common Law of England.' His second Treatise was entitled, The Use of the Law for Preservation of our Persons, Goods, and good Name, according to
afterward, even at an under-price, for no less a sum than 18007.! Nor was he the only brother benefited by the generosity of Essex. That nobleman "had accommodated Master Antony Bacon in partition of his house, and had assigned him a noble entertainment. This was a gentleman of impotent feet, but a nimble head, and through his hand ran all the intelligences from Scotland; who being of a provident nature (contrary to his brother, the Lord Viscount St. Alban's) and well knowing the advantage of a dangerous secret, would many times cunningly let fall some words, as if he could much amend his fortunes under the Cecilians' (to whom he was near of alliance, and in blood also) and who had made, as he was not unwilling should be believed, some great proffers to win him away: which once or twice he pressed so far, and with such tokens and signs of apparent discontent, to my Lord Henry Howard, afterward Earl of Northampton (who was of the party, and stood himself in much umbrage with the Queen) that he flies presently to my Lord of Essex, with whom he was commonly primæ admissionis by his bed-side in the morning, and tells him that unless that gentleman were presently satisfied with some round sum, all would be vented.'
"This took the Earl at that time ill-provided, as indeed oftentimes his coffers were low; whereupon he was fain suddenly to give him Essex House, which the good old Lady Walsingham did afterward disengage out of her own store with 2,500l.; and before he had distilled 1,5001., at another time, by the same skill. So as we may rate this one secret (as it was finely carried) at 4,000l. in present money, beside at the least 1,000l. of annual pension to a private and bed-rid gentleman! What would he have gotten, if he could have gone about his business?" (Reliq. Wotton. pp. 14, 15.)
the Laws and Customs of this Land,' a work of great value to students. In 1597, his Essays' were published. About the close of the following year, he drew up his History of the AlienationOffice.' As a farther compliment indeed to his distinguished legal attainments, the Society of Gray'sInn in 1600 chose him double reader, which office he discharged with his usual ability.
His pecuniary embarrassments, being increased by this failure of his expectations, had a bad effect upon his constitution, which of itself delicate, had already been greatly impaired by his nightly lucubrations. The disappointment indeed, it is said, so much affected his health, that he had once resolved to hide his chagrin in some foreign country; but, fortunately for his own, the remonstrances of his friends prevailed against this rash determination. For some time afterward, however, he laid aside all thoughts of public life, and applied himself wholly to works of literature and philosophy.
It was not long, before the intimacy of Bacon and Essex degenerated into cool civility. Bacon undertook to give advice to a vain, ambitious, and impetuous nobleman, and resented the neglect of it: on the other hand, Essex grew sour and reserved to a friend, who importuned him with remonstrances against his misconduct. At length, when the latter was brought to his trial for high-treason, Bacon, in his quality of counsel-extraordinary to the Queen, pleaded against him! This conduct receives a miserable palliation from the reflexion, that he was obliged to act against him officially, or to dismiss all hopes of future preferment. It was not, unfor