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SPECIMEN OF RALEIGH'S PROSE.
It is he that puts into man all the wisdom of the world, without speaking a word, which God, with all the words of His law, promises, or threats, doth not infuse. Death, which hateth and destroyeth man, is believed; God, which hath made him and loves him, is always deferred.
It is Death alone that can suddonly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent, that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant, makes them cry, complain, and repent, yea, even to hate their forepast happiness. He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar, which hath interest in nothing but the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it.
Oh, eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done ; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world, and despised ; thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it over with these two narrow words-H10 JACET.
"My name and memory I leave to foreign nations, and to mine own country after some time is passed over," wrote Bacon in his will. There is no greater name among the many writers of English prose,—no prouder memory among the host of grave-eyed philosophers, who have spent their best years and ripest powers in exploring the secrets and tracing the laws of the universe ; but many blots lie dark upon the reputation of the man.
Of late, however, much has been done, especially by Mr. Hepworth Dixon of the Athenceum, to efface these stains from the fame of one of our leading English philosophers and writers.
At York House in the Strand, London, Francis, youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, was born on the 22d of January, 1561. As the boy grew, he was noted for a quick wit and precocious gravity, 1561 which led the Queen, a frequent visitor at his father's A.D. house, to call him her little Lord Keeper. At thirteen he went to Cambridge, where he studied for three years, and where the deepest impression he received was a dislike to the philosophy of Aristotle.
Then, in accordance with the custom of the time, he joined the suite of Sir Amias Paulett, who was going on an embassy to France. A worse school for a young man of rank could scarcely be found thari, was the brilliantly voluptuous court of France in that unhappy day. Yet Bacon seems to have been proof against its worst seduc
A RISING YOUNG LAWYER,
tions, imbibing, however, during his residence abroad, that taste for magnificence and display which kept him through all his life a needy man, and proved a source of much misery and sin. Something of a woman's nature appears to have mingled with the qualities of his early manhood; his love of beauty displayed itself in a passion for rich dress and furniture, birds, flowers, perfumes, and
It might, certainly, have taken a less innocent and more destructive shape. During his stay in France he spent much time at Poictiers, employed chiefly in collecting materials for his maiden work, entitled Of the State of Europe. Recalled to England in 1579 by his father's sudden death, he
settled down to study law, with little money but a great 1582 mind, in Gray's Inn. In 1582 he was called to the bar;
and in 1585 he obtained a seat in the Commons for Mel
combe. When the dapper, richly-dressed youth of twenty-four, whose round rosy face was new to the House, first rose to speak, indifference speedily changed to curiosity, and curiosity to deep attention. It was felt by all that the young lawyer, already well known in the courts, was a man of no common powers, Even then the main idea of his life, so nobly carried out in his great system of philosophy, began to develop itself in every speech. “ Reform" was his motto; and for this he fought hard in the earlier years of his public life.
At the opening of his career he made a great mistake, fatal to his happiness and fatal to his fame. He lived beyond his means, and thus became hampered with debt, from which he never quite got free. In conjunction with his brother he set up a coach; for which some excuse may be found in the fact, that even at this early age he suffered severely from gout and ague. He was forced to borrow from the Jews; and it might often have gone hard with the young men in their city lodging, had not their kind mother, Lady Anne, sent frequent supplies of ale and poultry in from Gorhambury.
Looked coldly on by his relatives the Cecils, he became a partisan of Essex, who tried hard to get him made Solicitor-General. But Burleigh and his clan were too strong for the Earl, and Bacon
was defeated. To console him for this reverse, Essex gave him the beautiful estate of Twickenham Park. The value of the gift was great—some £1800; and there, under the spreading cedars, the hard-worked lawyer, dried up for many a week in the hot and dusty courts, used gladly to enjoy his leisure by the gentle Thames.
But Bacon soon saw that Essex was a dangerous friend, and, after earnest remonstrances from the lawyer, which the Earl appears to have despised, the connection between them was dissolved. Through the remaining years of Elizabeth's reign, Bacon, who had already become member for Middlesex and a Queen's Counsel, continued to rise in the House. All that he could do to save Essex, he did; at the risk of offending the touchy old Queen he pleaded the cause of his former friend and patron. But every effort was rendered useless by the mad folly of the Earl, who had been spoiled by the doting Elizabeth. Forgiven again and again, this madman persisted in trying to kindle a rebellion; and after his failure in London he died on the scaffold. Bacon has been charged with base ingratitude and treachery in this case of Essex. But he could not save a man who rushed so blindly on to death. What he could do, he seems to have done. His public office of Queen's Counsel enabled him to deal more gently with the foolish Earl than a stranger might have dealt. And when at the Queen's command he drew up a paper declaring the treasons of Essex, its lenient tone made the angry Elizabeth cry out, “I see old love is not easily forgotten.”
Through these changeful years Bacon had been writing some of the celebrated Essays, which form his chief English work, and entitle him to the fame of holding a first rank among 1597 the grand old masters of English prose.
When first published in 1597, the "Essays" were only ten in number; but others were added in 1612, and after his fall he spent much time in expanding and retouching them.
These years were also marked by a disappointment in love. A rich young widow, named Lady Hatton, was the object of his hopes; but his great rival at the bar proved also a formidable rival in the court of love. Attorney-General Coke stepped in and bore away the golden prize.
BACON LORD CHANCELLOR,
However the wound soon healed; for in 1606 an elderly bridegroom of forty-five, richly clad in purple Genoa velvet, stood at the altar beside a fair young bride in cloth of silver. The lady was the daughter of a Cheapside merchant, Alice Barnham, who on that day changed her name to Lady Bacon. Sir Francis had been lately knighted by King James.
From the Solicitor-Generalship, won in 1607, he stepped on in 1613 to the rank of Attorney-General; in 1617 he received the
Great Seal; and in the following year he reached the sum1618 mit of his profession, being made Lord High Chancellor
of England with the title of Baron Verulam. Thus, at
last, had Bacon beaten Coke, his rival in love, in law, and in ambition.
For three years he held the seals as Chancellor, and great was the splendour of his life. Baron Verulam soon became Viscount St. Albans. But the glitter of costly lace and the sheen of gilded coaches, of which these years were full, grow dim and tarnished before a splendour that cannot fade. The Lord Chancellor, with his titles of honour, is almost forgotten when the author of the
Novum Organum rises in our view. This celebrated work, 1620 of which more will soon be said, appeared in 1620; and A.D. the pains which Bacon took to make it worthy of his
fame may be judged from the fact, that he copied and corrected it twelve times before he gave it to the world.
The greatest of Bacon's works was yet fresh from the press when dark clouds began to gather round its author. Coke, his bitter foe, and others whom the poison of envy had also tainted, raised a clamour against the Chancellor for taking bribes. Undoubtedly Bacon was guilty of the crime, for his extravagance and love of show drained his purse continually, and a needy man is often mean.
But it may be said, in extenuation of his fault, that
it was the common practice in that day for judges to 1621 receive fees and gifts; indeed, the greater part of their
income was derived from such sources. A case, containing
at least twenty-two distinct charges of bribery and corruption, being prepared by the House of Commons, the Lords