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Essex from an ignominious death. Did Bacon in his turn spend all his power, might, authority and amity?" The Queen's Counsel extraordinary might have offended his sovereign by his importunity and have been forgotten in the impending vacancy of the office of Solicitor General! Essex died on the scaffold. But the execution rendered the Queen unpo pular and she was received with mournful silence when she appeared in public. She ordered a pamphlet to be written to justify the execution; she made choice of Bacon as the writer; the courtier did not decline the task, but published “a Declaration of the Practises and Treasons attempted and committed by Robert, late Earle of Essex and his Complices, against her Maiestie and her Kingdoms." This faithless friend, to use the language of Macaulay, "exerted his professional talents to shed the Earl's blood and his literary talents to blacken the Earl's memory."
The memory of Essex suffered but little from the attack of the pamphlet; the base pamphleteer's memory is blackened for ever and to his fair name of "the wisest, brightest " has been appended the "meanest of mankind". But let us cast a pall over this act, this moral murder, perpetrated by the now degraded orator, degraded philosopher, the now most degraded of men.
Elizabeth died in 1604; and before the arrival of James in England, Bacon wrote him a pedantic letter, probably to gratify the taste of the pedant king; but he did not forget in it "his late dear sovereign Mistress - a princess happy in all things, but most happy in such a successor.
Bacon solicited the honour of knighthood, a distinction much lavished at this period. At the King's coronation he knelt down in company with above 300 gentlemen; but "he rose Sir Francis." He sought the hand of a rich alderman's daughter, Miss Barnham, who consented to become Lady Bacon.
The Earl of Southampton, Shakspeare's generous patron and friend, who had been convicted of high treason in the late reign, now received the King's pardon. This called to all men's minds the fate of the unhappy Earl of Essex and of his odiously ungrateful accuser; the latter unadvisedly published the "Sir Francis Bacon his Apologie in certaine imputations concerning the late Earle of Essex"; a defense which in the es
timation of one of his biographers, Lord Campbell, has injured him more with posterity than all the attacks of his enemies. In the new parliament he represented the borough of Ipswich; he spoke frequently and obtained the good graces of the King by the support he gave to James's favourite plan of a union of England and Scotland; a measure by no means palatable to the King's new subjects.
The object of all his hopes, the price perhaps of his conduct to Essex, seemed in 1606 to be within his reach; but he was once more to be disappointed. His old enemy, Sir Edward Coke prevented the vacancy. The following year however, after long and humiliating solicitation, he attained the office to which he had so long aspired and was appointed Solicitor General to the Crown.
Official advancement was now the object nearest his heart and he longed to be Attorney General'.
In 1613 by a master stroke of policy he created a vacancy for himself as Attorney General and managed at the same time to disserve his old enemy Coke by getting him preferred in rank, but at the expense of considerable pecuniary loss.
After his new appointment he was reelected to his seat in the House of Commons; he had gained so much popularity there, that the house admitted him, although it resolved to exclude future Attorneys General; a resolution rescinded by later parliaments.
The Attorney General as may be supposed did not lack zeal in his master's service and for his master's prerogative. One case in particular was atrociotis. An aged clergyman, named Peacham, was prosecuted for high treason for a sermon, which he had neither preached hor published; the unfortunate old man was apprehended, put to the torture in presence of the Attorney General, and as the latter himself tells us, was exa
The Attorney General is the public prosecutor on behalf of the Crown where the state is actually and not nominally the prosecutor. He pleads also as a barrister in private causes, provided they are not against the government. As he receives a fee for every case in which the government is concerned, his emoluments are considerable; but he has no salary. His official position secures to him the best practice at the bar. The salary was in Bacon's time but 811. 6s. Sd. per annum ; but the situation yielded him 6,0007. yearly.
mined "before torture, between torture and after torture", although Bacon must have been fully aware that the laws of England did not sanction torture to extort confession. Bacon tampered with the judges and obtained a conviction; but the government durst not carry the sentence into execution. Peacham languished in prison till the ensuing year, when Providence rescued him from the hands of human justice.
In 1646 Bacon was offered the formal promise of the Chancellorship or an actual appointment as Privy Counsellor; he was too prudent not to prefer an appointment to a promise, and he was accordingly nominated to the functions of member of the Privy Council. His present leisure enabled him to prosecute vigorously his Novum Organum, but he turned aside to occupy himself with a proposition for the amendment of the laws of England, on which Lord Campbell, assuredly the most competent of judges, passes a high encomium.
At length in 1617 Sir Francis Bacon attained the end of the ambition of his life, he became Lord Keeper of the Seals with the functions, though not the title, of Lord High Chancellor of England. His promotion to this dignity gave general satisfaction; his own university, Cambridge, congratulated him; Ox ford imitated the example; the world expected a perfect judge, formed from his own model in his Essay of Judicature. He took his seat in the Court of Chancery with the utmost pomp and parade.
The Lord Keeper now endeavoured to "feed fat the ancient grudge" he bore Coke. He deprived him of the office of Chief Justice and erased his name from the list of privy counsellors. Coke imagined a plan of raising his falling fortunes; he projected a marriage between his daughter by his second wife, a very rich heiress, with Sir John Villiers, the brother of Buckingham, the king's favourite. Bacon was alarmed, wrote to the king and used expressions of disparagement towards the favourite, his new patron, to whom he was indebted for the Seals he held. The king and his minion were equally indignant; and they did not conceal from him their resentment. On the return of the court Bacon hastened to the residence of Buckingham; being denied admittance, he waited two whole days in the antechamber with the great seal of England in his hand. When at length he obtained access, the Lord Keeper threw himself and the great seal on the ground, kissed the fa
vourite's feet, and vowed never to rise till he was forgiven! It must after this have been difficult indeed for him to rise again in the world's esteem or his own.
Bacon was made to purchase at a dear price his reinstatement in the good graces of Buckingham. The favourite constantly wrote to the judge in behalf of one of the parties and in the end, says Lord Campbell, intimated that he was to dictate the decree. Nor did Bacon once remonstrate against this unwarrantable interference on the part of the man to whom he had himself recommended " by no means to interpose himself, either by word or letter in any cause depending on any court of justice". The Lord Keeper received soon after, in 1618, the reward of his "many faithful services" by the higher title of Lord High Chancellor of England and by the peerage with the name of Baron of Verulam.
The new Minister of Justice lent himself with his wonted complaisance to a most outrageous act of injustice, which Macaulay stigmatizes as a "dastardly murder," that of the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh, under a sentence pronounced sixteen years before; Sir Walter having been in the interval invested with the high command of Admiral of the fleet. Such an act it was the imperative duty of the first magistrate of the realm not to promote but to resist to the full extent of his power; and the Chancellor alone could issue the warrant for the execution!
In 1620 he published what is usually considered his greatest work, his Novum Organum (new instrument or method), which forms the second part of the Instauratio magna (great restoration of the sciences). This work had occupied Bacon's leisure for nearly thirty years. Such was the care he bestowed on it that Rawley, his chaplain and biographer, states that he had seen about twelve autograph copies of it, corrected and improved until it assumed the shape in which it appeared. Previous to the publication of the Novum Organum, says the illustrious Sir John Herschel, "natural philosophy in any legitimate and extensive sense of the word could hardly be said to exist '. It cannot be expected that a work destined completely to
Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy.
change the state of science, we had almost said of nature, should not be assailed by that prejudice which is ever ready to raise its loud but unmeaning voice against whatever is new, how great or good soever it may be. Bacon's doctrine was accused of being calculated to produce "dangerous revolutions," to "subvert governments and the authority of religion." Some called on the present age and posterity to rise high in their resentment against "the Bacon-faced generation", for so were the experimentalists termed. The old cry of irreligion, nay even of atheism was raised against the man who had said: "I would rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud and the Alcoran than that this universal frame is without a mind'." But Bacon had to encounter the prejudices even of the learned. Cuffe, the Earl of Essex's secretary, a man celebrated for his attainments, said of the Instauratio Magna, "a fool could not have written such a book, and a wise man would not." King James said it was "like the peace of God, that surpasseth all understanding." And even Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, said to Aubrey: "Bacon is no great philosopher; he writes philosophy like a Lord Chancellor." Rawley, his secretary and his biographer laments some years after his friend's death that "his fame is greater and sounds louder in foreign parts abroad than at home in his own nation: thereby verifying that divine sentence, a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and in his own house." Bacon was for some time without honour "in his own country and in his own house." But truth on this as on all other occasions triumphs in the end. Bacon's assailants are forgotten; Bacon will be remembered with gratitude and veneration for ever.
He was again in 1621 promoted in the peerage to be Viscount Saint-Albans; his patent particularly celebrating his "integrity in the administration of justice.
In this same year the parliament assembled. The House of Commons first voted the subsidies demanded by the Crown, and next proceeded, as was usual in those times, to the redress of grievances. A committee of the House was appointed to