Imatges de pÓgina


pletely fascinated by his brilliant qualities. He speaks of him, for instance, in a letter to Anthony as " your rarely qualified brother," and in a letter of 1596 to Egerton, the Lord Keeper, he protests "that there is no gentleman in England of whose good fortune I have been more desirous." Francis Bacon's main preoccupation at this time (1593 onwards) was to obtain one of the legal posts under the Crown, and he made the most of the Earl's influence for this purpose. Unfortunately, however, he gave great offence to the Queen by a speech in Parliament early in 1593, in which he took a line on the question of a subsidy which was interpreted by her as a bid for popularity. In consequence of this he was for some years excluded from access. In spite of this, Essex continued to ply his suit, first for the appointment of Bacon as Attorney, then as Solicitor, and he did it with such impulsive enthusiasm, and took the Queen's delays and refusals so hardly, as to make her more and more opposed to it. Thus, Lady Anne Bacon writes: "Yet though the E. of E. showed great affection, he marred all with violent courses." seems at last to have dawned on Bacon that the Queen's opposition could not be accounted for by the supposed offence given by this speech, or by the pretext which she alleged of his "insufficency," but that it really had something to do with the position of Essex himself. Thus, at the beginning of 1595, when Bacon had threatened to travel if nothing was done for him, he gives an account of a conversation between the Queen and Cecil on the subject of his suit, in which he says, But this is Essex, and she is more angry with him than with me. My conceit is that I am the least part of my own matter "; and, again, he is in doubt "whether invidus homo hoc fecit,' or whether my matter must be an appendix to my Lord of Essex's suit." From this I conclude that the Queen's real objection to Bacon was that she was well aware that the Earl's efforts at statesmanship really depended on him, and that she was unwilling to put him in a place of power where he might be the means, through Essex, of making Robert Cecil's position untenable. At that time Burghley was still alive, and, in spite of all her vagaries, the Queen had always really placed her sole dependence on him and had no

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intention of throwing him over. In short, she did not wish to make Essex too strong. I have given the story of these negotiations and Bacon's long disappointment in my book on Spenser and need not therefore repeat it here. We find confirmation of this view in Sir Thomas Bodley's life of himself, written in 1609, and published in the next century in front of Reliquae Bodleianae. Bodley there says that owing to his successful services in the Low Countries, Burghley marked him out for the post of joint-secretary with his son Robert Cecil. But about 1597 the Earl of Essex began to pay attention to Bodley and tried to divert him from Burghley's service, and at the same time pressed the Queen to make him sole secretary. Bodley says that the Earl" did so often take occasion to entertain the Queen with some prodigal speeches of my sufficiency for a secretary, which were ever accompanied with words of disgrace against the present Lord Treasurer (Robert Cecil) as neither she herself (of whose favour before I was thoroughly assured) took any great pleasure to prefer me the sooner (for she hated his ambition and would give little countenance to any of his followers) and both the Lord Burleigh and his son waxed jealous of my courses, as if underhand I had been induced by the cunning and kindness of the Earl of Essex to oppose myself against their dealing." Not being willing to be made a party to faction, Bodley took the decision to retire from public life and devote himself to the library at Oxford, to a decision which the University is indebted for the Bodleian.'

Essex was unwise. The Queen was evidently fascinated by him, but he had formed an exaggerated idea of his influence over her.

It is curious, though not altogether surprising, to see how on the failure of Essex to obtain for him an appointment, Bacon drew away from him. He evidently began to think that he had been wasting his time and that Essex, after all, was not the man for his purpose. He remembers that he was "born for the service of mankind," and he writes a very remarkable letter to Essex in which he takes stock of his position and reminds him that, though he is greatly in his

debt, yet he cannot be wholly at his devotion. This he expresses with his usual felicity, by an image:

"For your Lordship, I do think myself more beholding to you than to any man. And I say I reckon myself as a common (not popular, but common); and as much as is lawful to be enclosed of a common so much your Lordship shall be sure to have."

In the same letter he says:


"For myself, I have lost some opinion, some time, and some means. This is my account For means, I value that most, and the rather because I am purposed not to follow the practice of the law (if her Majesty command me in any particular I shall be ready to do her willing service), and my reason is, only because it drinketh too much time, which I have dedicated to better purpose."

Writing to Lord Keeper Pickering about the same time (October 1595), he says:

"But his Lordship may go on in his affection, which nevertheless myself have desired him to limit."

It is very improbable that Essex would have understood all this, but, if he had, it would have warned him that Bacon was not to be depended upon on the basis of friendship. At the same time Bacon continued to serve him with his pen, suppressing, as was his custom, his own authorship. In January, 1595, he had written for him the well-known letter to the Earl's cousin, the young Earl of Rutland on setting out on his travels, a monument of wisdom, on the subject of the true purposes of a liberal education. It is signed by Essex from "Greenwich," that is the court, and has imposed on the world until modern times, as it is actually printed in Devereux's Lives as an example of what the Earl could do in that way. However, it is now recognised by all competent judges, including Spedding, as Bacon's work. On Queen's day (November 17) of the same year, Essex presented a device before the Queen, the speeches for which were similarly written for him by Bacon, as is now generally acknowledged. Its

1 These letters will be found in Spedding.

* See Spedding, Letters and Life, 1.

also was written by Essex.

Devereux believed that this

purpose was to recommend the claims and sufficiency of the Earl. It seems very probable that the Queen recognised its origin, for a contemporary letter states, "But the Queen said that if she had thought there had been so much said of her, she would not have been there that night, and so went to bed."1

The year 1596 brought Essex to the zenith of his power and popularity, and we find Bacon again doing his utmost, in his own way, to guide and assist him. The Spaniard had once more become formidable. Claims to the English throne had been put forward on behalf of the Infanta. An expedition against the Spanish West Indies had failed, both Drake and Hawkins having lost their lives. And in April, owing to the vacillation of Elizabeth, Calais was besieged and taken by Spanish troops. The attack by sea on Spain was then determined on, which ended with the capture of Cadiz. Essex and Lord Charles Howard were in joint command with Ralegh as Vice-Admiral. Though Essex showed, as he always did, remarkable gallantry at Cadiz, the success was evidently really due to the good judgment of Ralegh in the landing operations. All present fear of the invasion of England was removed by this success, but the Queen, disappointed about her share of the spoils (for which she probably had reasons, as there was always much peculation on these occasions), and angry about the expenses, listened to various accusations brought against Essex by his enemies. But when the news arrived, as it did soon after, of the safe return of the Spanish plate fleet from the Indies, which Essex had wished to intercept, and the other commanders had refused, the tables were turned, and his popularity and reputation were vastly increased. Of this there is no doubt the Queen became extremely jealous. Robert Cecil had at the same time been made Secretary and his power against Essex thereby increased. It was at this point of the Earl's fortunes that Bacon, in

1 Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney: 22 Nov. 1595. Spedding, Letters and Life, i. 375.

'Doleman's book, published in Amsterdam in the autumn of 1595, with a dedication to the Earl of Essex, supposed by some to have been a trick of his enemies to bring him into disfavour.


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October 1596, wrote him his famous letter of advice, the gist of which was that he should abstain from exciting suspicions in the royal mind that he aimed at military greatness and a popular reputation," whereby he would only give occasions to his enemies, and that he should adopt an attitude with the Queen of compliance even if he did not feel it. "Win the Queen; if this be not the beginning, of any other course I can see no end". . ." But how is it now? A man of a nature not to be ruled, that hath my affection and knoweth it, of an estate not grounded to his greatness, of a popular reputation, of a military dependence: I demand whether there can be a more dangerous image than this represented to any monarch living, much more to a lady, and of Her Majesty's apprehension?" To this end he advises him not to affect the Earl Marshal's place, or place of the Master of the Ordnance," but of the places now void I would name to you the place of Lord Privy Seal. For first, it is the third person of the great Officers of the Crown. Next it hath a kind of superintendence over the Secretary. But my chief reason is, that which I first alleged, to divert her Majesty from this impression of martial greatness." The remark about the Secretary is very amusing and shows how keen was the party struggle. Advice given in vain! Essex was incapable of playing a part, and, in this respect, Bacon seems to have entirely misjudged his character. He was too ready to assume that men's actions were dictated by policy and he failed to make allowance for their natural disposition.

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It is a remarkable thing that about the same time the great treatise attributed to Edmund Spenser, the View of the State of Ireland, was composed, and that it contains precisely the same suggestion for Essex, namely an appointment which would keep him at home and near the Queen. That Bacon was the author of this work I am fully persuaded, and I have given my reasons in my book on Spenser. At the end of it the writer puts his finger on the real difficulty with Irelandwhich remains to the present day—that there was no continuity or consistent policy in the administration. To remedy

1 Edmund Spenser, etc., ch. xix.


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