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Thomas Brown, one of the first physicians and philosophers of his, or, indeed, of any time, who was devoting his life to the confutation of what he deemed vulgar errors! nor will the judges of England hereafter be considered culpable for having at one session condemned and left for execution six young men and women under the age of twenty, for uttering forged one pound notes; or for having, so late as the year 1820, publicly sold for large sums the places of the officers of their


To persecute the lover of truth for opposing established customs, and to censure him in after ages for not having been more strenuous in opposition, are errors which will never cease until the pleasure of self-elevation from the depression of superiority is no more. "These things must continue as they have been; so too will that also continue, whereupon learning hath ever relied, and which faileth not: justificata est sapientia a filiis suis."

but, some of the judges doubting whether it was treason, he was not executed.

The same course of private consultation with the judges would have been adopted in the case of Owen, had not the attorney-general been so clear in his opinion of the treason, as to induce him to think it inexpedient to imply that any doubt could be entertained.

His speeches against Owen and Talbot, which are preserved, are in the usual style of speeches of this nature, with some of the scurrility by which the eloquence of the bar was at that time polluted.

When speaking of the king's clemency, he says, "The king has had too many causes of irritation: he has been irritated by the Powder Treason, when, in the chair of majesty, his vine and olive branches about him, attended by his nobles and third estate in parliament, he was, in the twinkling of an eye, as if it had been a particular doomsday, to have been brought to ashes, and dispersed to the four winds. He hath been irritated by wicked and monstrous libels, and by the violence of demagogues who have at all times infested, and in times of disturbance, when the scum is uppermost, ever will infest society; confi

Bacon, unmoved by the prejudice, by which during his life he was resisted, or the scurrilous libels by which he was assailed, went right onward in the advancement of knowledge, the only effectual mode of decomposing error. Where he saw that truth was likely to be received, he pre-dent and daring persons, Nihil tam verens, quam sented her in all her divine loveliness. When he could not directly attack error, when the light was too strong for weak eyes, he never omitted an opportunity to expose it. Truth is often silent as fearing her judge, never as suspecting her cause.

ne dubitare aliquâ de re, videretur, priding themselves in pulling down magistrates, and chanting the psalm, Let us bind the kings in chains, and the nobles in fetters of iron." "

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During this year an event occurred, which ma terially affected the immediate pursuits and future fate of Sir Francis Bacon,-the king's selection of a new favourite.

his father, his education was conducted by Lady Villiers, and, though he was naturally intelligent and of quick parts, more attention was paid to the graces of manner and the lighter accomplishments which ornament a gentleman, than the solid

In his letter to the king, stating that Peacham had been put to the torture, he says, "Though we are driven to make our way through questions, which I wish were otherwise, yet I hope the end George Villiers, a younger son of Sir George will be good:" and, unable at that period to Villiers and Mary Beaumont, on each side well counteract the then common custom of importuning|descended, was born in 1592. Having early lost the judges, he warned Villiers of the evil. "By no means," he says, "be you persuaded to interpose yourself, either by word or letter, in any cause depending, or like to be depending in any court of justice, nor suffer any other great man to do it where you can hinder it, and by all means dis-learning and virtuous precepts which form a great suade the king himself from it, upon the importunity of any for themselves or their friends; if it should prevail, it perverts justice; but if the judge be so just, and of such courage, as he ought to be, as not to be inclined thereby, yet it always leaves a taint of suspicion behind it: judges must be as chaste as Cæsar's wife, neither to be, nor to be suspected to be unjust; and, sir, the honour of the judges in their judicature is the king's honour, whose person they represent."

The trial of Peacham took place at Taunton on the 7th of August, 1615, before the chief baron and Sir Henry Montagu. Bacon did not attend, but the prosecution was conducted by the king's sergeant and solicitor, when the old clergyman, who defended himself "very simply, although obstinately and doggedly enough," was convicted,

and good man. At the age of eighteen he travelled to France, and, having passed three years in the completion of his studies, he returned to the seat of his forefathers, in Leicestershire, where he conceived an intention of settling himself in marriage; but, having journeyed to London, and consulted Sir Thomas Gresham, that gentleman, charmed by his personal beauty and graceful deportment, advised him to relinquish his intention, and try his fortune at court. Shrewd advice, which he, without a sigh, obeyed. He sacrificed his affections at the first temptation of ambition.

The king had gradually withdrawn his favou. from Somerset, equally displeased by the haughtiness of his manners, and by an increasing gloom, that obscured all those lighter qualities which had formerly contributed to his amusement, a gloon

3. Councillors, and the council table, and the

4. Foreign negotiations and embassies.

5. Peace and war, both foreign and civil, and in that the navy and forts, and what belongs to them. 6. Trade at home and abroad.

soon after fatally explained. Although powerfully attracted by the elegance and gayety of Vil-offices and officers of the kingdom. liers, yet James had been so harassed by complaints of favouritism, that he would not bestow any appointment upon him, until solicited by the queen and some of the gravest of his councillors. In 1613 Villiers was taken into the king's household, and rose rapidly to the highest honours. He was nominated cupbearer, received several lucrative appointments; the successive honours of knighthood, of a barony, an earldom, a mar-nuteness scarcely to be conceived, except by the quisate, and was finally created Duke of Buckingham.

From the paternal character of Bacon's protection of the new favourite, it is probable that he had early sought his assistance and advice; as a friendship was formed between them, which continued with scarcely any interruption till the death, and, indeed, after the death of Bacon: a friendship which was always marked by a series of the wisest and best counsels, and was never checked by the increased power and elevation of Villiers.

This intimacy between an experienced statesman and a rising favourite was naturally looked upon with some jealousy, but it ought to have been remembered that there was never any intimacy between Bacon and Somerset. In the whole of his voluminous correspondence, there is not one letter of solicitation or compliment to that powerful favourite, or any vain attempt to divert him from his own gratifications to the advancement of the public good; but in Villiers he thought he saw a better nature, capable of such culture, as to be fruitful in good works. Whatever the motives were in which this union originated, the records extant of the spirit by which it was cemented are honourable to both. In the courtesy and docility of Villiers, Bacon did not foresee the rapacity that was to end in his own disgrace, and in the violent death of the favourite.

7. Colonies, or foreign plantations.
8. The court and curiality.

Each of these subjects he explains, with a mi

admirers of his works, who well know his extensive and minute survey of every subject to which he directed his attention.

In the beginning of the year 1613, Sir Thomas Overbury was poisoned in the Tower by one Weston, of which crime he was convicted, received sentence of death, and was executed. In the progress of the trial suspicions having been excited against the Earl and Countess of Somerset, as having been deeply concerned in this barbarous act; their injudicious friends, by endeavouring to circulate a report that these suspicions were but an artifice to ruin that nobleman, the King commanded the attorney-general to prosecute in the Star Chamber Mr. Lumsden, a gentleman of good family in Scotland, Sir John Hollis, afterwards Earl of Clare, and Sir John Wentworth, who were convicted and severely punished. The speech of Bacon upon this trial is fortunately preserved.

Shortly after this investigation, so many circumstances transpired, all tending to implicate the Earl and Countess of Somerset, and so great an excitement prevailed through the whole country, that the king determined to bring these great offenders to trial; a resolution which he could not have formed without the most painful struggle between his duty to the public and his anxiety to protect his fallen favourite. His sense of duty as the dispenser of justice prevailed. Previous to the trial, which took place May, 1616, the same course of private consultation with the judges was pursued, and the king caused it to be privately intimated to Somerset, that it would be his own fault if favour was not extended to him: favour which was encouraged by Bacon, in a letter to the king, in which he says, "The great downfall of so great persons carrieth in itself a heavy judgment, and a kind of civil death, although their lives should not be taken. All which may satisfy honour for sparing their lives."

About this period, Sir George Villiers, personally and by letter, importuned his friend to communicate his sentiments respecting the conduct which, thus favoured by the king, it would be proper for him to observe; and, considering these requests as commands, Bacon wrote a letter of advice to Villiers, such as is not usually given in courts, but of a strain equally free and friendly, calculated to make the person to whom it was addressed both good and great, and equally honourable to the giver and the receiver: advice which contributed not a little to his prosperity In his speech upon the trial, Bacon gave a in life. It is an essay on the following sub-clear and circumstantial account of the whole conjects:

spiracy against Overbury, describing the various practices against his life; but though he fully and

1. Matters that concern religion, and the church fairly executed his duty as attorney-general, it and churchmen. was without malice or harshness, availing him

2. Matters concerning justice, and the laws, self of an opportunity, of which he never lost and the professors thereof.

1 See Bacon's will.

sight, to recommend mercy; and though the friends of the new favourite were supposed to nave

been deeply interested in the downfall of Somerset, | whom I owe most after the king and yourself,

should be locked to his successor for any advancement or gracing of me. So I ever remain your true and most devoted and obliged servant. -3d June, 1616."

He was accordingly sworn of the privy council, and took his seat at the board on the 9th of June; it having been previously agreed that, though in general he should cease to plead as an advocate, his permission to give counsel in causes should continue, and that if any urgent and weighty matter should arise, that he might, with the king's permission, be allowed to plead. Upon this unu

and accused of secretly working his ruin, Bacon gained great honour in the opinions of all men, by his impartial yet merciful treatment of a man whom in his prosperity he had shunned and despised. Early in this year, (1615, Æt. 55,) a dispute which occasioned considerable agitation, arose between the Court of Chancery and the Court of King's Bench, respecting the jurisdiction of the chancellor after judgment given in courts of law. Upon this dispute, heightened by the warmth and haughtiness of Sir Edward Coke, and the dangerous illness of the chancellor at the time when Coke promoted the inquiry, the king and Villiers conferred with Bacon, to whom and other emi-sual honour he was immediately congratulated by nent members of the profession, the matter was referred, and upon their report, the king in person pronounced judgment in favour of the lord chancellor, with some strong observations upon the conduct of Coke.

Pending this investigation, (1616, Æt. 56,) Villiers, it seems, communicated to Bacon the king's intention either to admit him a member of the privy council, or, upon the death or resignation of the chancellor, to intrust him with the great seal, a trust to which he was certain of the chancellor's recommendation.

the university of Cambridge.

Such were the occupations of this philosopher, who, during the three years in which period he was attorney-general, conducted himself with such prudent moderation in so many perplexed and difficult cases, and with such evenness and integrity, that his conduct has never been questioned, nor has malice dared to utter of him the least calumny.

He now approached his last act as attorneygeneral, which was of the same nature as the first, his prosecution of Mr. Markham in the Star Chamber, for sending a challenge to Lord Darcy.

Having thus discharged the duties of solicitor and attorney-general, with much credit to himself On the 3d of March, 1616-17, Lord Brackley, and advantage to the community, he, early in the then lord chancellor, being worn out with age and year 1615-16, expressed to Villiers his wish to be infirmities, resigned the great seal, and escaped, admitted a member of the privy council, from the for a short interval, from the troubles of the Court hope that he might be of service "in times which of Chancery, over which he had presided for did never more require a king's attorney to be thirteen years, amidst the disputes between this well armed, and to wear a gauntlet and not a high tribunal and the courts of common law, and glov In consequence of this communication, the pressure of business, which had so increased the king, on the 3d of June, gave him the option as to have been beyond the power of any indieither to be made privy councillor, or the assur-vidual to control. ance of succeeding the chancellor. Bacon, for reasons which he has thus expressed in a letter to Villiers, preferred being sworn privy councillor:

"Sir, the king giveth me a noble choice, and you are the man my heart ever told me you were. Ambition would draw me to the latter part of the choice; but in respect of my hearty wishes that my lord chancellor may live long, and the small hopes I have that I shall live long myself, and, above all, because I see his majesty's service daily and instantly bleedeth; towards which I persuade myself (vainly, perhaps, but yet in mine own thoughts firmly and constantly) that I shall give, when I am of the table, some effectual furtherance, (as a poor thread of the labyrinth, which hath no other virtue but a united continuance, without interruption or distraction,) I do accept of the former, to be councillor for the present, and to give over pleading at the bar; let the other matter rest upon my proof and his majesty's pleasure, and the accidents of time. For, to speak plainly, I would be loath that my lord chancellor, to

On the 7th of the same month, the seals were delivered by the king to Sir Francis Bacon, with four admonitions: First, To contain the jurisdiction of the court within its true and due limits, without swelling or excess. Secondly, Not to put the great seal to letters patent, as a matter of course to follow after precedent warrants. Thirdly, To retrench all unnecessary delays, that the subject might find that he did enjoy the same remedy against the fainting of the soul and the consumption of the estate, which was speedy justice. Bis dat, qui cito dat." Fourthly, That justice might pass with as easy charge as might be; and that those same brambles, that grow about justice, of needless charge and expense, and all manner of exactions, might be rooted out so far as might be.

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Thus was Francis Bacon, then in the fiftyseventh year of his age, created Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.

In the joy of recent possession he instantly wrote to his friend and patron, the Earl of Buckingham, with a pen overflowing with the expression of his gratitude.

My dearest Lord,-It is both in cares and kindness, that small ones float up to the tongue and great ones sink down into the heart in silence. Therefore I could speak little to your lordship to-day, neither had I fit time. But I must profess thus much, that in this day's work you are the truest and perfectest mirror and example of firm and generous friendship that ever was in court. And I shall count every day lost, wherein I shall not either study your well doing in thought, or do your name honour in speech, or perform you service in deed. Good my lord, account and accept me your most bounden and devoted friend and servant of all men living,

March 7, 1616-17.


part nothing worth: that is, they can judge well of the mode of attaining the end, but ill of the value of the end itself."

He would have warned ambition that "the seeled dove mounts and mounts because he is unable to look about him."

To the supposition" that worldly power is the means to do good," he would have said, "A man who spends his life in an impartial search after truth, is a better friend to mankind than any statesman or hero, whose merits are commonly confined within the circle of an age or a nation, and are not unlike seasonable and favouring showers, which, though they be profitable and desirable, yet serve for that season only wherein they fall, and for a latitude of ground which they water; but the benefices of the philosopher, like the

Such is the nature of human delight; such the influences of the sun and the heavenly bodies, are nature of human foresight!

As he must have known, what he has so beautifully taught, that a man of genius can seldom be permanently influenced by worldly distinction; as he well knew that his own happiness and utility consisted not in action but in contemplation; as he had published his opinion that "men in great place are thrice servants; servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business; so as they have no freedom, neither in their person, nor in their actions, nor in their times," it is probable that he was urged to this and to every other step on the road to aggrandizement, either by the importunities of his family, or by his favourite opinion, that "knowledge is never so dignified and exalted as when contemplation and action are nearly and strongly conjoined together: a conjunction like unto that of the two highest planets, Saturn, the planet of rest and contemplation, and Jupiter, the planet of civil society and action."

again are commonly mixed with strife and perfor time permanent, for place universal: those turbation; but these have the true character of divine presence, and come in aura leni without noise or agitation."

The flattering illusion of good to result from the union of contemplation and action, would have been dissipated by the admonition, that the life and faculties of man are so short and limited that this union has always failed, and must be injurious both to the politician and to the philosopher. To the politician, as, from variety of speculation, he would neither be prompt in action nor consistent in general conduct; and as, from meditating upon the universal frame of nature, he would have little disposition to confine his views to the circle where his usefulness might be most beneficial. To the philosopher, as powers intended to enlarge the province of knowledge, and enlighten distant ages, would be wasted upon subjects of mere temporary interest, debates in courts of justice, and the mechanism of state business. That Bacon should have been doomed to such occupations, that he, who stood the lofty beacon of science, evermore guiding the exploring scholar in voyages of discovery to improve and bless mankind, should voluntarily have descended to the shifting quicksands of politics, is a theme for wonder and pity. He could have pointed cut to another the shoals, the sunken rocks, and the To the hope of wealth he would have said, treacherous nature of the current; but he adven"it diverts and interrupts the prosecution and ad- | tured,—and little minds can now point out where vancement of knowledge, like unto the golden he was lost, and where the waters went over his ball thrown before Atalanta, which, while she soul. goeth aside and stoopeth to take it up, the race is hindered.

It has been said by some of the ancient magicians, that they could see clearly all which was to befall others, but that of their own future life they could discern nothing. It might be a curious speculation for any admirer of the works of this great man, to collect the oracles he would have delivered to warn any other philosopher of the probable danger and certain infelicity of accepting such an office in such times.

"Declinat cursus aurumq. volubile tollit."

To the importunities of friends he would have answered by his favourite maxim, "You do not duly estimate the value of pleasures; for if you observe well, you shall find the logical part of some men's minds good, but the mathematical VOL. I.-(9)

Much as it is to be lamented that he should have accepted this office, the loss to science seems, in some sort, to have been compensated by his entire devotion to his professional and political duties: duties for which he possessed unrivalled powers.

It has been truly said by the biographer of Bacon's successor, that "the chancellorship of England is not a chariot for every scholar to get (2)


notices of his political exertions; that his advice to Sir George Villiers is an essay upon all the various duties of a statesman, with respect to religion, justice, the council table, foreign negotiations, peace and war, trade, the colonies, and the court; and of his parliamentary eloquence his friend Ben Jonson says, "There happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking; his language, where he could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not cough or look aside from him without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end."

up and ride in. Saving this one, perhaps it would or state above them :" and in his addresses to take a long day to find another. Our laws are the judges upon their appointment or promotion, the wisdom of many ages, consisting of a world he availed himself of every opportunity to explain of customs, maxims, intricate decisions, which them. are responsa prudentum. Tully could never have As a Statesman, we have seen that he was boasted, if he had lived amongst us, Si mihi ve- | cradled in politics; that his works abound with hementer occupato stomachum moverint, triduo me jurisconsultum profitebor. He is altogether deceived, that thinks he is fit for the exercise of our judicature, because he is a great rabbi in some academical authors; for this hath little or no copulation with our encyclopedia of arts and sciences. Quintilian might judge right upon the branches of oratory and philosophy, Omnes disciplinas inter se conjunctionem rerum, et communionem habere. But our law is a plant that grew alone, and is not entwined into the hedge of other professions; yet the small insight that some have into deep matters, cause them to think that it is no insuperable task for an unexpert man to be the chief arbiter in a court of equity. Bring reason and conscience with you, the good stock of nature, and the thing is done. Equitas optimo cuique notissima est, is a trivial saying, a very good man cannot be ignorant of equity; and who knows not that extreme right is extreme injury? But they that look no further than so, are shortsighted for there is no strain of wisdom more sublime, than upon all complaints to measure the just distance between law and equity; because in this high place, it is not equity at lust and pleasure that is moved for, but equity according to decrees and precedents foregoing, as the dewbeaters have trod the way for those that come after them."

Of Bacon's fitness for this office, some estimate may be formed by a consideration of the four principal qualifications of a chancellor, as

A Lawyer,

A Judge,

A Statesman,

And the Patron of Preferment.

As a Lawyer he had for a series of years been engaged in professional life. He had been solicitor and attorney-general; had published upon diferent parts of the law; had deeply meditated upon the principles of equity, and had availed himself of every opportunity to assist in improvement of the law, in obedience to his favourite maxim," that every man is a debtor to his profession, from the which, as men do of course seek countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves, by way of amends, to be a help and ornament."

As a Judge, he, from his infancy, had seen the different modes in which judicial duties were discharged, had meditated deeply and published lus opinions upon the perfection of these duties "to the suitors, to the advocates, to the officers of justice underneath them, and to the sovereign

As a Patron, he considered preferment a sacred trust, to preserve and promote high feeling, encourage merit, and counteract the tendency of learning to dispose men to leisure and privateness.


In his advice to Villiers, as to the patrimony of the church, he says, “ You will be often solicited, and perhaps importuned to prefer scholars to church livings; you may further your friends in that way, 'cæteris paribus;' otherwise remember, I pray, that these are not places merely of favour; the charge of souls lies upon them, the greatest account whereof will be required at their own hands; but they will share deeply in their faults who are the instruments of their preferment."

A few weeks after he was appointed lord keeper, he thus writes to a clergyman of Trinity College, Cambridge: "After my hearty commendations, I have heard of you, as a man well deserving, and of able gifts to become profitable in the church; and there being fallen within my gift the rectory of Frome St. Quintin, with the chapel of Evershot, in Dorsetshire, which seems to be a thing of good value, eighteen pounds in the king's books, and in a good country, I have thought good to make offer of it to you: the rather for that you are of Trinity College, whereof myself was some time and my purpose is to make choice of men rather by care and inquiry, than by their own suits and commendatory letters. So I bid you farewell.

From your loving friend,
From Dorset House, 23d April. 1617.

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