of perfection. Long after, bishop Patrick wrote, A Pilgrim, but remarkable only for dullness; and the catholics have, A Pilgrim to Loretto, which is also bad, though it has beautiful passages of description. With the exception of these allegories, there is very little original prose fictitious narrative before the time of Charles II.

Translations were uncommonly numerous, I believe, that there was not a single good book published, at this period, in any part of Europe, which was not speedily made English. In general, these versions were well done; with respect to the romances, very badly, as before noticed.

Voyagers and travellers were likewise abundant, and assisted to augment our literary


But the brightest star in this galaxy of worthies, was the lord Verulam. His intellectual labours did more to enlighten his fellow men, and to fix them in a state of general improvement, than those of all others combined. Succeeding philosophers have had little else to do than to walk in his steps; or at least, to proceed towards those various objects

[merged small][ocr errors]

of knowledge to which he pointed out the way. Mankind now became fixed in their views as to literature and life; and from this period their progression in knowledge and refinement has been rapid and uninterrupted,


Francis Bacon, viscount St. Albans, and high chancellor of England, son of sir Ni. cholas Bacon, lord keeper of the great seal, was born in London, 1560-1, at York-House in the Strand. At the early age of thirteen years, or in 1573, he entered at Trinity College, Cam. bridge, under the tuition of Dr. John Whit gift, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. Soon after this period, on account of the ex. traordinary maturity of his understanding, his father resolved that he should travel; and he accordingly sent him to France under the inspe ction of sir Amias Powlett, the queen's ambasador at Paris.

His father dying suddenly, he was unex. pectedly left with a very incompetent fortune, and on his return from France, he entered at Gray's Inn, that by the study of the law, he

might supply the deficiency. In 1588, he became reader at Gray's Inn, and from his reputation in this office, he was appointed by the queen, her counsel learned in the law extraordinary. In 1600, he was chosen double reader of Gray's Inn. Towards the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, he began to distinguish himself as a speaker in the House of Commons, where, by his weight of thought and power of comprehensive survey, he always astonished and often prevailed.

After the death of Elizabeth, he was introduced to her successor, James I, and in 1603, the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him by that prince. The year following, he was constituted by patent one of his majesty's council learned in the law, with a fee of forty pounds a year. The same day, his majesty granted him, by another patent under the great seal, a pension of sixty pounds a year, for special services received from his brother Anthony Bacon, and himself.

He was married in 1607, to Alice, daughter of Benedict Barnham, Esq. alderman of London, by whom he had a considerable fortune, but no issue. The same year he was appoint ed king's solịcitor, About four years after,

he obtained the office of judge of the marshall's court, jointly with sir Thomas Vavasor; as also the office of the court of star-chamber, a place of great value. In 1613, he succeeda ed sir Henry Hobart as attorney general; and about three years after, was sworn of the privý council. On the resignation of the chancellor, lord viscount Brackley, 1616-17, the king presented the great seal to Bacon, when in the 57th year of his age, with the title of lord keeper. He obtained, in 1618, the title of lord high chancellor of England; and about six months after, in the same year, was created baron of Verulam. In the year 1621, the title of viscount St. Albans, was conferred upon him, to which a small pension was annexed out of the customs. His disgrace followed shortly after ; by which he was deprived of his high office, for bribery and corruption, amersed in a fine of 40,0001. sent prisoner to the Tower, and declared incapable of any office or employment in the state. After a short confinement, however, he was released; and on the 12th of October, of the same year, the king signed a warrant for his pardon, his parliamentary sentence excepted. Not long before the decease of James I. in 1625,

« ElőzőTovább »