Imatges de pÓgina
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this he proposes a scheme for removing Irish administration from the intrigues of politicians in England. He recommends that the Lord Deputy, assisted by his Council, should be given an absolutely free hand within certain well defined limits, and that he should have over him a " Lord Lieutenant " in England, who should be charged with all Irish matters. The man whom he marks out for this post was Essex, not indeed by name, but by unmistakable suggestion. Bacon had been intimate with the Sidneys and was in close touch with Ralegh, who was the great authority in Ireland, and who was the wisest and most far-seeing man of his generation in affairs of action. I have no doubt that many of the recommendations in detail, which are very precise, were derived from these sources, and the reading and genius of the author supplied the rest. The treatise is written wholly from the English standpoint and the internal evidence shows that it was written in England. Thus, in regard to the particular proposal, the writer says:

"to weete, that it be ruled by a Lorde Deputye or Justice, for that is a very safe kinde of rule: but there-withall I wish that over him there were placed also a Lord Lieutenaunt of some of the greatest personages in England (such an one as I could name, upon whom the eye of all England is fixed, and our last hopes now rest); who being entitled with that dignitye, and being allwayes heere resident, may backe and defende the good cause of the government agaynst all malignours, which else will, through theyr cunning woorking underhand, deprave and pull back what ever thinge that be well begunne or intended there, as we commonlye see by experience at this day, to the utter ruine and desolation of that poor realme."

And in a passage higher up the writer alludes to the prevailing fears of a Spanish invasion by means of Ireland, and indicates Essex as the sole hope of the country:

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"But that in the realme of Ireland we see much otherwise, for everye day we perceave the troubles to growe more upon us insoemuch as there is noe parte sounde or ascertayned, but all have theyr eares upright, wayting when the watchwoord shall come that they should all rise generally into rebellion, and cast away the English subjection. To which there nowe little wanteth; for I think the woorde be already given, and there wanteth nothing but opportunitye, which trulye is the death of one noble person, whoe, being himself

most stedfast to his most noble Queene and his countrye, coasting upon the South-Sea, stoppeth the Ingate of all that evill which is looked for, and holdeth in all those which are at his becke, with the terrour of his greatness, and the assurance of his honourable loyaltie.”

This remark was probably directed against Burghley, who was becoming opposed to an offensive policy against Spain, and probably also against enemies of Essex who put it about that he was aiming at the succession to the throne through the support of the army. The passage indicates the summer of 1596 as the date of the treatise. It is interesting also to note that it concludes with the characteristic disclaimer of any great knowledge on the subject, including the mannerism "my simple opinion."1

The great interest which Bacon took in the reduction and subsequent development of Ireland is shown by many remarks in this treatise, and by the subsequent memorials of a precisely similar character on the subject which he addressed to Cecil and King James. The View was not published during his lifetime,although it was entered for publication in the Stationers' Register in April, 1598.

In 1597 Essex took out another expedition against Spain known as the Island Voyage. On this occasion he had a bitter quarrel with Ralegh, and seems to have so mismanaged the business (though he had much excuse in the bad weather) that practically nothing was effected. Before he set out there had been a rapprochment between him and Cecil and Ralegh, and he was on most affectionate terms with the Queen, as his letters to her at this period show. Full of high hopes on leaving England, nothing could have exceeded his devotion: "I humbly kiss your royal fair hands, and pour out my soul in passionate zealous wishes of all true joys to the dear heart of your Maj., which must know me to be your Maj. humblest and devoutest vassal, Essex." The Queen's mind must have been strangely abused that she should have been brought to sign the death warrant of such a man. In the corrupt state of the Court these military expeditions

1 On Bacon's habit of using this phrase, see Edmund Spenser, etc., ch. v.

proved the Earl's ruin, as the Queen evidently did not trust him as a commander, and yet did not like to refuse him the honour which he so passionately coveted. The result was that she found fault with everything he did, and Cecil and his other enemies at Court, notably Ralegh and Cobham, took every advantage of this disposition. It was party war, carried on with total disregard of the interests of the country. The crisis, so far as Essex was concerned, was reached in the disputes about the Irish command in 1597, of which Dr. Abbott says:

"It would be scarcely credible, if it were not supported by unquestionable evidence, that, in the face of the critical position of Ireland, the object of either of the two contending parties in the English Court seems to have been to appoint an enemy to the chief command there, in order to discredit the opposite party by the inevitable failure of the officer."1

On his return from the Island Voyage, Essex was illreceived by the Queen, who made her usual complaints about the expenses, and he retired in disgust to his house at Wanstead. In the Country, however, the case was very different. The people would not hear a word against him, which only further provoked the jealousy of the Queen. Still, she was induced to withdraw the charges against him, to which she had listened and a reconciliation was effected, not however until Essex had been placated by being made Earl Marshal. His conduct at this point was no doubt extremely injudicious, and gave both the Queen and his enemies ground for suspecting that he was animated by a dangerous personal ambition. He also gave the Queen renewed offence by his conduct with some of the ladies about the Court. Essex was always in love, and it seems that there were few of the women who were not in love with him. On the other hand he was by no means a reprobate, as anyone may see by reading the two letters on this subject which passed between him and Lady Anne Bacon, in which one hardly knows which to admire most, the courage and beauty of Lady Bacon's letter or the patience

1 Bacon and Essex, p. 98.

and perfect courtesy of the Earl's reply.1 But Essex was unstable, in health and in mind, and was never sure of himself. Robert Cecil, on the contrary, was always normal, available, and cool. In pitting himself against him in the field of statesmanship Essex entirely over-estimated his powers, and but for Francis Bacon it is improbable that he would have ever attempted it.

In 1598, peace was concluded between France and Spain, and the question of peace with Spain now came under discussion. Burghley, who died on 31st July of this year, advocated it. Essex was violently opposed to it, mainly on the ground that it would have involved a dishonourable desertion of Holland, with the consequent restoration of the Popish religion, and the strengthening of the claims of the Infanta to the English crown. Whereupon the Cecil party spread the report that there was only one cause which prevented peace, the resolution of Essex to continue the war for the advantage of himself and his military followers. Essex replied to this by publishing an "Apology," a document which was evidently his own work, in which occurs a very fine defence of his affection for the military men.2 Reading it, one can well understand their devotion to him. The Queen is said to have been greatly displeased and alarmed by this publication, as an unwarrantable appeal to popularity. This feeling was, no doubt, sedulously fostered by the Earl's enemies. Nothing, indeed, could have been more injudicious, but it shows the sincerity of Essex's nature.

It was at this unfortunate juncture that the great quarrel with the Queen took place. There had been disputes between Essex and Burghley on the subject of Spanish policy, and now, in the summer of 1598, the question of the appointment of a suitable Governor for Ireland to deal with the difficult situation there came up. The discussion, which was on the usual lines of faction, grew warm, and Essex, stung by the Queen inclining to the opinion of his opponents, turned away from

1 See Devereux Lives, i. 406. And the extracts given in Appendix II. (pp. 288 sq.) to this book.

"Extracts are given in Devereux, Lives, etc., i. 484 sq.

her with a gesture of contempt, whereupon she struck him. Retiring in a violent passion in which he is said to have put his hand on his sword, Eessex withdraw from the Court. From his house at Wanstead he wrote letters in which he took the line that he was the injured party. Thus to the Lord Keeper, who had written a protest to him about his long and unseasonable discontentment: "What, cannot princes err? Cannot subjects receive wrong? Is an earthly power or authority infinite? Pardon me, pardon me, my good Lord, I can never subscribe to these principles." To the Queen he pours out his wrongs in the boldest language, though not without the old expressions of devotion:

"Madam,-When I think how I have preferred your beauty above all things, and received no pleasure in life but by the increase of your favour towards me, I wonder at myself what cause there could be to make me absent myself one day from you. But when I remember that your Maj. hath, by the intolerable wrong you have done both me and yourself, not only broken all laws of affection, but done against the honour of your sex, I think all places better than that where I am, and all dangers well undertaken, so that I might retire myself from the memory of my false, inconstant, and beguiling pleasures. I am sorry to write thus much, for I cannot think your mind so dishonourable but that you punish yourself for it, how little soever you care for me. But I desire whatsoever falls out, that your Maj. should be without excuse, you knowing yourself to be the cause, and all the world wondering at the effect. I was never proud, till your Maj. sought to make me too base. And now since my destiny is no better, my despair shall be as my love was, without repentance. I will, as an humble servant, owe my life, my fortune, and all that is in me; but this place is not fit for me, for she which governs the world is weary of me, and I of the world. I must commend my faith to be judged by Him who judgeth all hearts, since on earth I find no right. Wishing Your Maj. all comforts and joys in the world, and no greater punishment for your wrongs to me, than to know the faith of him you have lost, and the baseness of those you shall keep, Your Majesty's most humble servant, R. Essex.”’1

I have given this letter in full because it provides a good test by which to try the authenticity of some of the later ones, to which we shall come in due course.

It will be seen that in this letter Essex uses all the privi

1 Lives, etc., i, 493.

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