Project Gutenberg's The Mystery of Francis Bacon, by William T. Smedley

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Title: The Mystery of Francis Bacon

Author: William T. Smedley

Release Date: July 7, 2011 [EBook #36650]

Language: English

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Francis Bacon at 9 Years of Age. Francis Bacon at 9 Years of Age.
From the bust at Gorhambury.









Ad D.B.

"Si bene qui latuit, bene vixit, tu bene vivis:          
Ingeniumque tuum grande latendo patet."
John Owen's Epigrammatum, 1612.





"But such is the infelicity and unhappy disposition of the human mind in the course of invention that it first distrusts and then despises itself: first will not believe that any such thing can be found out; and when it is found out, cannot understand how the world should have missed it so long."

—"Novum Organum," Chap. CX.




I. —Sources of Information9
II. —The Stock from which Bacon Came14
III. —Francis Bacon, 1560 to 157219
IV. —At Cambridge25
V. —Early Compositions29
VI. —Bacon's "Temporis Partus Maximus"36
VII. —Bacon's First Allegorical Romance47
VIII. —Bacon in France, 1576-157952
IX. —Bacon's Suit on His Return to England, 158062
X. —The "Rare and Unaccustomed Suit"76
XI. —Bacon's Second Visit to the Continent and After82
XII. —Is it Probable that Bacon left Manuscripts Hidden Away?94
XIII. —How the Elizabethan Literature was Produced98
XIV. —The Clue to the Mystery of Bacon's Life103
XV. —Burghley and Bacon114
XVI. —The 1623 Folio Edition of Shakespeare's Plays123
XVII. —The Authorised Version of the Bible, 1611126
XVIII. —How Bacon Marked Books with the Publication of Which He Was Connected132
XIX. —Bacon and Emblemataiv140
XX. —Shakespeare's Sonnets148
XXI. —Bacon's Library156
XXII. —Two German Opinions on Shakespeare and Bacon161
XXIII. —The Testimony of Bacon's Contemporaries170
XXIV. —The Missing Fourth Part of "The Great Instauration"177
XXV. —The Philosophy of Bacon187

[Pg 5]


Is there a mystery connected with the life of Francis Bacon? The average student of history or literature will unhesitatingly reply in the negative, perhaps qualifying his answer by adding:—Unless it be a mystery that a man with such magnificent intellectual attainments could have fallen so low as to prove a faithless friend to a generous benefactor in the hour of his trial, and, upon being raised to one of the highest positions of honour and influence in the State, to become a corrupt public servant and a receiver of bribes to pervert justice.—It is one of the most remarkable circumstances to be found in the history of any country that a man admittedly pre-eminent in his intellectual powers, spoken of by his contemporaries in the highest terms for his virtues and his goodness, should, in subsequent ages, be held up to obloquy and scorn and seldom be referred to except as an example of a corrupt judge, a standing warning to those who must take heed how they stand lest they fall. Truly the treatment which Francis Bacon has received confirms the truth of the aphorism, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

It is not the intention in the following brief survey of Bacon's life to enter upon any attempt to vindicate his character. Since his works and life have come prominently before the reading public, he has never been without a defender. Montagu, Hepworth Dixon, and Spedding have, one after the other, raised their voices against the injustice which has been done to the memory[Pg 6] of this great Englishman; and although Macaulay, in his misleading and inaccurate essay,[1] abounding in paradoxes and inconsistencies, produced the most powerful, though prejudiced, attack which has been made on Bacon's fame, he may almost be forgiven, because it provided the occasion for James Spedding in "Evenings with a Reviewer," to respond with a thorough and complete vindication of the man to whose memory he devoted his life. There rests on every member of the Anglo-Saxon race an obligation—imposed upon him by the benefits which he enjoys as the result of Francis Bacon's life-work—to read this vindication of his character. Nor should mention be omitted of the essay by Mr. J. M. Robertson on "Francis Bacon" in his excellent work "Pioneer Humanists." All these defenders of Bacon treat their subject from what may be termed the orthodox point of view. They follow in the beaten track. They do not look for Bacon outside his acknowledged works and letters. Since 1857, however, there has been steadily growing a belief that Bacon was associated with the literature of the Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods, and that he deliberately concealed his connection with it. That this view is scouted by what are termed the men of letters is well-known. They will have none of it. They refuse its claim to a rational hearing. But, in spite of[Pg 7] this, as years go on, the number of adherents to the new theory steadily increases. The scornful epithets that are hurled at them only appear to whet their appetite, and increase their determination. Men and women devote their lives with enthusiasm to the quest for further knowledge. They dig and delve in the records of the period, and in the byeways of literature. Theories which appear extravagant and untenable are propounded. Whether any of these theories will come to be accepted and established beyond cavil, time alone can prove. But, at any rate, it is certain that in this quest many forgotten facts are brought to light, and the general stock of information as to the literature of the period is augmented.

In the following pages it is sought to establish what may be termed one of these extravagant theories. How far this attempt is successful, it is for the reader to judge. Notwithstanding all that may be said to the contrary, by far the greater part of Francis Bacon's life is unknown. An attempt will be made by the aid of accredited documents and books to represent in a new light his youth and early manhood. It is contended that he deliberately sought to conceal his movements and work, although, at the same time, he left the landmarks by which a diligent student might follow them. In his youth he conceived the idea that the man Francis Bacon should be concealed, and be revealed only by his works. The motto, "Mente videbor"—by the mind I shall be seen—became the guiding principle of his life.

[Pg 8]




[Pg 9]

Chapter I.

The standard work is "The Life and Letters of Francis Bacon," by James Spedding, which was published from 1858-1869. It comprises seven volumes, with 3,033 pages. The first twenty years of Bacon's life are disposed of in 8 pages, and the next ten years in 95 pages, of which 43 pages are taken up with three tracts attributed to him. There is practically no information given as to what should be the most important years of his life. The two first volumes carry the narrative to the end of Elizabeth's reign, when Bacon had passed his fortieth year. There is in them a considerable contribution to the history of the times, but a critical perusal will establish the fact that they add very little to our knowledge of the man, and they fail to give any adequate idea of how he was occupied during those years. In the seven volumes 513 letters of Bacon's are printed, and of these no less than 238 are addressed to James I. and the Duke of Buckingham, and were written during the last years of his life. The biographies by Montagu and Hepworth Dixon are less pretentious, but contain little more information.[Pg 10]

The first published Life of Bacon appears to have been unknown to all these writers. In 1631 was published in Paris a translation of the "Sylva Sylvarum," as the "Histoire Naturelle de Mre. Francois Bacon." Prefixed to it is a chapter entitled "Discours sur la vie de Mre. Francois Bacon, Chancelier D'Angleterre." Reference will be made to this important discourse hereafter. It is sufficient for the present to say that it definitely states that during his youth Bacon travelled in Italy and Spain, which fact is to-day unrecognised by those who are accepted as authorities on his life. In 1647 there was published at Leyden a Dutch translation of forty-six of Bacon's Essays—the "Wisdom of the Ancients" and the "Religious Meditations." The translation is by Peter Boener, an apothecary of Nymegen, Holland, who was in Bacon's service for some years as domestic apothecary, and occasional amanuensis, and quitted his employment in 1623. Boener added a Life of Bacon which is a mere fragment, but contains testimony by a personal attendant which is of value. In 1657 William Rawley issued a volume of unpublished manuscripts under the title of "Resuscitatio," and to these he added a Life of the great Philosopher. Rawley is only once mentioned by Bacon. His will contains the sentence: "I give to my chaplain, Dr. Rawleigh, one hundred pounds." Rawley was born in 1590. When he became associated with his master is not known, but it could only have been towards the close of his life. Bacon appears to have reposed great confidence in him. In 1627,[2] the year following Bacon's death, he published the "Sylva Sylvarum." This must have been in the press before Bacon's death. Rawley subsequently published other works, and was associated with Isaac Gruter during the seventeenth century in producing on the continent various editions of Bacon's works.[Pg 11]

Rawley's account of Bacon's life is meagre, and, having regard to the wealth of information which must have been at his disposal, it is a very disappointing production. Still, it contains information which is not to be found elsewhere. How incomplete it is may be gathered from the fact that there is no reference in it to Bacon's fall.

In 1665 was published a volume, "The Statesmen and Favourites of England since the Reformation." It was compiled by David Lloyd. The biographies of the Elizabethan statesmen were written by someone who was closely associated with them, and who appears to have had exceptional opportunities of obtaining information as to their opinions and characters.[3] As to how these lives came into Lloyd's possession nothing is known. Prefixed to the biographies are two pages containing "The Lord Bacon's judgment in a work of this nature." The chapter on Bacon is a most important contribution to the subject, but it also appears to have escaped the notice of Spedding, Hepworth Dixon, and Montagu. In 1658 Francis Osborn, in Letters to his son, gives a graphic description of the Lord Chancellor. Perhaps one can better picture Bacon as he was in the strength of his manhood from Osborne's account of him than from any other source. Thomas Bushell, another of Bacon's household dependents, published in 1628 "The First Part of Youth's Errors." In a letter therein addressed to Mr. John Eliot, he has left contributions to our stock of knowledge. There are also some miscellaneous tracts written by him, and published about the year 1660, which contain references to Bacon.[Pg 12]

Fuller's Worthies (1660) gives a short account of his life and character, eulogistic but sparse. In 1679 was published "Baconiana," or Certain Genuine Remains of Sir Francis Bacon, &c., by Bishop Tennison, but it contains no better account of his life. Winstanley's Worthies (1684) relies entirely on Rawley's Life, which is reproduced in it. Aubrey's brief Lives were written about 1680. There are references to Bacon in Arthur Wilson's "History of the Reign of James I."; in "The Court of James I.," by Sir W. A.; in "Simeon D'Ewes' Diary"; and, lastly, in his "Discoveries," Ben Jonson contributes a high eulogy on Bacon's character and attainments.

In 1702 Robert Stephens, the Court historiographer, published a volume of Bacon's letters, with an introduction giving some account of his life; and there was a second edition in 1736. In 1740 David Mallet published an edition of Bacon's works, and wrote a Life to accompany it. This was subsequently printed as a separate volume. As a biography it is without interest, as it contains no new facts as to his life.

In 1754 memoirs of the reign of Queen Elizabeth from the year 1581 to her death appeared, edited by Dr. Thomas Birch. These memoirs are founded upon the letters of the various members of the Bacon family. In 1763 a volume of letters of Francis Bacon was issued under the same editor.

Such are the sources of information which have come down to us in biographical notices.

In the British Museum, the Record Office, and elsewhere are the originals of the letters and the manuscripts of some of the tracts which Spedding has printed.

The British Museum also possesses two books of Memoranda used by Bacon. The Transportat is entirely, and the Promus is partly, in his handwriting. Beyond his published works, that is all that so far has been available.[Pg 13]

Spedding remarks[4]: "What became of his books which were left to Sir John Constable and must have contained traces of his reading, we do not know, but very few appear to have survived."

Happily, Spedding was wrong. During the past ten years nearly 2,000 books which have passed through Bacon's hands have been gathered together. These are copiously annotated by him, and from these annotations the wide range and the methodical character of his reading may be gathered. Manuscripts which were in his library, and at least four common-place books in his handwriting, have also been recovered. Particulars of these have not yet been made public, but the advantage of access to them has been available in the preparation this volume.

[Pg 14]

Chapter II.

"A prodigy of parts he must be who was begot by wise Sir Nicholas Bacon, born of the accomplished Mrs. Ann Cooke," says an early biographer.

Nicholas Bacon is said to have been born at Chislehurst, in Kent, in 1509. He was the second son of Robert Bacon, of Drinkstone, in Suffolk, Esquire and Sheep-reeve to the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. It is believed that he was educated at the abbey school. He speaks of his intimacy with Edmund Rougham, a monk of that house, who was noted for his wonderful proficiency in memory. He was admitted to the College of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, and took the degree of B.A. in 1526-7. He went to Paris soon afterwards, and on his return studied law at Gray's Inn, being called to the Bar in 1533, and admitted ancient in 1536. He was appointed, in 1537, Clerk to the Court of Augmentations. In 1546 he was made Attorney of the Court of Wards and Liveries, and continued as such under Edward VI. Upon the accession of Mary he conformed to the change of religion and retained his office during her reign. Nicholas Bacon and William Cecil, each being a widower, had married sisters. When Elizabeth came to the throne Cecil became her adviser. He was well acquainted with Nicholas Bacon's sterling worth and great capacity for business, and availed himself of his advice and assistance. The Queen delivered to Bacon the great seal, with the title of Lord Keeper, on the 22nd December, 1558, and he was sworn of the Privy Council and knighted. By letters patent, dated 14th April, 1559,[Pg 15] the full powers of a Chancellor were conferred upon him. In 1563 he narrowly escaped the loss of his office for alleged complicity in the issue of a pamphlet espousing the cause of the House of Suffolk to the succession. He was restored to favour, and continued as Lord Keeper until his death in 1579. The Queen visited him at Gorhambury on several occasions. Sir Nicholas Bacon, in addition to performing the important duties of his high office in the Court of Chancery and in the Star Chamber, took an important part in all public affairs, both domestic and foreign, from the accession of Elizabeth until his death. He first married Jane, daughter of William Fernley, of West Creting, Suffolk, by whom he had three sons and three daughters. For his second wife he married Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, by whom he had two sons, Anthony and Francis. It is of more importance for the present purpose to know what type of man was the father of Francis Bacon. The author of the "Arte of English Poesie" (1589) relates that he came upon Sir Nicholas sitting in his gallery with the works of Quintillian before him, and adds: "In deede he was a most eloquent man and of rare learning and wisdome as ever I knew England to breed, and one that joyed as much in learned men and good witts." This author, speaking of Sir Nicholas and Burleigh, remarks, "From whose lippes I have seen to proceede more grave and naturall eloquence then from all the oratours of Oxford and Cambridge."

In his "Fragmenta Regalia" Sir Robert Naunton describes him as "an archpeece of wit and wisdom," stating that "he was abundantly facetious which took much with the Queen when it was suited with the season as he was well able to judge of his times." Fuller describes him as "a man of rare wit and deep experience," and, again, as "a good man, a grave statesman, and a father to his country." Bishop[Pg 16] Burnet speaks of him as "not only one of the most learned and pious men, but one of the wisest ministers this nation ever bred." The observations of the author of "The Statesmen and Favourites of England in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth" are very illuminating. "Sir Nicholas Bacon," he says, "was a man full of wit and wisdome, a gentleman and a man of Law with great knowledge therein." He proceeds: "This gentleman understood his Mistress well and the times better: He could raise factions to serve the one and allay them to suit the others. He had the deepest reach into affairs of any man that was at the Council table: the knottiest Head to pierce into difficulties: the most comprehensive Judgement to surround the merit of a cause: the strongest memory to recollect all circumstances of a Business to one View: the greatest patience to debate and consider; (for it was he that first said, let us stay a little and we will have done the sooner:) and the clearest reason to urge anything that came in his way in the Court of Chancery.... Leicester seemed wiser than he was, Bacon was wiser than he seemed to be; Hunsden neither was nor seemed wise.... Great was this Stateman's Wit, greater the Fame of it; which as he would say, being nothing, made all things. For Report, though but Fancy, begets Opinion; and Opinion begets substance.... He neither affected nor attained to greatness: Mediocria firma, was his principle and his practice. When Queen Elizabeth asked him, Why his house was so little? he answered, Madam, my house is not too little for me, but you have made me too big for my House. Give me, said he, a good Estate rather than a great one. He had a very Quaint saying and he used it often to good purpose, That he loved the Jest well but not the loss of his Friend.... He was in a word, a Father of his country and of Sir Francis Bacon."

Before speaking of Lady Ann Bacon, it is necessary[Pg 17] to give some account of her father, Sir Anthony Cooke. He was a great-grandson of Sir Thomas Cooke, Lord Mayor of London, and was born at Giddy Hall, in Essex. Again the most valuable observations on his character are to be found in "The Lives of Statesmen and Favourites" before referred to. The author states that Sir Anthony "was one of the Governors to King Edward the sixth when Prince, and is charactered by Mr. Camden Vir antiqua serenitate. He observeth him also to be happy in his Daughters, learned above their Sex in Greek and Latine: namely, Mildred who married William Cecil, Lord Treasurer of England; Anne who married Nichlas Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England; Katherine who married Henry Killigrew; Elizabeth who married Thomas Hobby, and afterwards Lord Russell, and Margaret who married Ralph Rowlet."

"Gravity," says this author, "was the Ballast of Sir Anthony's Soul and General Learning its leading.... Yet he was somebody in every Art, and eminent in all, the whole circle of Arts lodging in his Soul. His Latine, fluent and proper; his Greek, critical and exact; his Philology and Observations upon each of these languages, deep, curious, various and pertinent: His Logic, rational; his History and Experience, general; his Rhetorick and Poetry, copious and genuine; his Mathematiques, practicable and useful. Knowing that souls were equal, and that Women are as capable of Learning as Men, he instilled that to his Daughters at night, which he had taught the Prince in the day, being resolved to have Sons by education, for fear he should have none by birth; and lest he wanted an Heir of his body, he made five of his minde, for whom he had at once a Gavel-kind of affection and of Estate."

"Three things there are before whom (was Sir Anthony's saying) I cannot do amis: 1, My Prince; 2, my conscience; 3, my children. Seneca told his sister, That though he could not leave her a good portion, he[Pg 18] would leave her a good pattern. Sir Anthony would write to his Daughter Mildred, My example is your inheritance and my life is your portion....

"He said first, and his Grandchilde my Lord Bacon after him, That the Joys of Parents are Secrets, and so are their Griefs and Fears.... Very providently did he secure his eternity, by leaving the image of his nature in his children and of his mind in his Pupil.... The books he advised were not many but choice: the business he pressed was not reading, but digesting.... Sir John Checke talked merrily, Dr. Coxe solidly and Sir Anthony Cooke weighingly: A faculty that was derived with his blood to his Grandchilde Bacon."

Such then was the father of Lady Anne Bacon. She and her sisters were famous as a family of accomplished classical scholars. She had a thorough knowledge of Greek and Latin. An Apologie ... in defence of the Churche of England by Dr. Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, was translated by her from the Latin and published in 1564. Sir Anthony had been exiled during Mary's reign, for his adherence to the Protestant faith. His daughter, Anne, inherited, not only his classical accomplishments, but his strong Puritan faith and his hatred of Popery. Francis Bacon describes her as "A Saint of God." There is a portrait of her painted by Nathaniel Bacon, her stepson, in which she appears standing in her pantry habited as a cook. In feature Francis appears to have resembled his mother. He "had the same pouting lip, the same round head, the same straight nose and Hebe chin."

[Pg 19]

Chapter III.
FRANCIS BACON, 1560 TO 1572.

In the registry of St. Martin's will be found this entry: Mr. Franciscus Bacon 1560 Jan 25 (filius D'm Nicho Bacon Magni Angliæ sigilli custodis)." Rawley in his "Life of the Honourable Author" says: "Francis Bacon, the glory of his age and nation, was born in York House or York Place, in the Strand, on the two and twentieth day of January in the year of our Lord 1560." He relates that "His first and childish years were not without some mark of eminency; at which time he was endued with that pregnancy and towardness of wit, as they were pressages of that deep and universal apprehension which was manifest in him afterward." "The Queen then delighted much to confer with him, and to prove him with questions unto whom he delivered himself with that gravity and maturity above his years that Her Majesty would often term him 'Her young Lord Keeper.' Being asked by the Queen how old he was he answered with much discretion, being then but a boy[5] that he was two years younger than Her Majesty's happy reign, with which answer the queen was much taken." In the "Lives of the Statesmen and Favourites of Queen Elizabeth" there is reference to the early development of his mental and intellectual faculties. The author writes:—"He had a large mind from his Father and great abilities from his Mother; His parts improved more than his years, his great fixed and methodical memory, his solide judgement, his quick fancy, his ready expression, gave assurance of that profound and univer[Pg 20]sal comprehension of things which then rendered him the observation of great and wise men; and afterwards the wonder of all." The historian continues:—"He never saw anything that was not noble and becoming," "at twelve his industry was above the capacity and his minde beyond the reache of his contemporaries."

This boy so marvellously endowed was brought up in surroundings which were ideal for his development. His father, a man of erudition, a wit and orator, occupying one of the highest positions in the country, his mother a lady of great classical accomplishments, who had enjoyed the benefits of an education and training by her father, that eminent scholar, Sir Anthony Cooke, and, lastly, there was this man—his grandfather—living within riding distance from his home. It seems inevitable that the natural powers of young Francis must have excited a keen interest in the old tutor of Edward VI., who had devoted his evenings to imparting to his daughters what he had taught the Prince during the day, so that if he left behind him no heirs of his body, he might leave heirs of his mind. The boy Francis was, indeed, a worthy heir of his mind, and it is impossible to believe otherwise than that Sir Anthony Cooke would throw himself heart and soul into the education of his grandchild, but no statement or tradition has come down to this effect. It may be, however, that a sentence which has already been quoted from "The Lives of Statesmen and Favourites" is intended to imply that Francis was the pupil of Sir Anthony: "He said first and his Grandchilde my Lord Bacon after him, That the Joys of Parents are Secrets, and so their Griefs and Fears.... Very providently did he secure his Eternity, by leaving the image of his nature in his Children and of his mind in his Pupil." The pupil referred to was not Edward VI., for he died twenty-three years before Sir Anthony, and he could not, therefore, have left the image of his mind in[Pg 21] the young King. Following directly after the sentence "He said first and his Grandchilde Lord Bacon after him" it is possible that the reference may be to the boy Francis. Certainly Sir Anthony "would secure his eternity" if he left the image of his mind in his "Grandchilde." In any case the prodigious natural powers of the boy were placed in an environment well suited for their full development.

The historian says that "at twelve his industry was above the capacity and his mind beyond the reache of his Contemporaries." Who were the contemporaries alluded to? Those of his own age, or those who were living at the time? A boy of twelve, he excelled others in his great industry and the wide range of his mind. This industry appears to have accompanied him through life, for Rawley states that "he would ever interlace a moderate relaxation of his mind with his studies, as walking or taking the air abroad in his coach or some other befitting recreation; and yet he would lose no time, inasmuch as upon the first and immediate return he would fall to reading again, and so suffer no movement of time to slip from him without some present improvement." It is a remarkable fact on which too much stress cannot be laid that in the two Lives of Bacon, scanty as they are, by contemporary writers, his exceptional industry is pointed out. There are certainly no visible fruits of this industry.

Although there is no definite information as to what was the state of Francis Bacon's education at twelve, there is testimony as to that of some of his contemporaries. Three instances will suffice.

Philip Melancthon (whose family name was Schwartzerd) was born in 1497. His education was at an early age directed by his maternal grandfather, John Reuter. After a short stay at a public school at Bretten he was removed to the academy at Pforzheim. Here, under the tutorship of John Reuchlin, an elegant scholar and[Pg 22] teacher of languages, he acquired the taste for Greek literature in which he subsequently became so distinguished. Here his genius for composition asserted itself. Amongst other poetical essays in which he indulged when eleven years of age, he wrote a humorous piece in the form of a comedy, which he dedicated to his kind friend and instructor, Reuchlin, in whose presence it was performed by the schoolfellows of the youthful author. After a residence of two years at Pforzheim, Philip matriculated at the University of Heidelberg on the 13th October, 1509, being eleven years and nine months old. Young as he was, he appears to have been employed to compose most of the harangues that were delivered in the University, besides writing some pieces for the professors themselves. Here, at this early age, he composed his "Rudiments of the Greek Language," which were afterwards published.

Agrippa d'Aubigné was born in 1550 and died in 1630. At six years of age he read Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. When ten years he translated the Crito. Italian and Spanish were at his command.

Thomas Bodley was born in 1544 and died in 1612. In the short autobiography which he left he makes the following statement as to how far his education had advanced when his father decided to fix his abode in the city of Geneva in 1556:—

"I was at that time of twelve yeares age but through my fathers cost and care sufficiently instructed to become an auditour of Chevalerius in Hebrew, of Berealdus in Greeke, of Calvin and Beza in Divinity and of some other Professours in that University, (which was newly there erected) besides my domesticall teachers, in the house of Philibertus Saracenus, a famous Physitian in that City with whom I was boarded; when Robertus Constantinus that made the Greek Lexicon read Homer with me."

Bodley was undoubtedly proficient in French, for[Pg 23] Calvin and Beza lectured in French. The "Institution of the Christian Religion," Calvin's greatest work, although published in Latin in 1536, was translated by him into French, and issued in 1540 or 1541. This translation is one of the finest examples of French prose. Bodley's English was probably very poor, and for a very good reason—there was no English language worthy of comparison with the languages of France, Italy, or Spain. It had yet to be created.

It is fair to assume that at twelve years of age Francis Bacon was as proficient in languages as were Philip Melancthon, Agrippa d'Aubigné, or Thomas Bodley at that age. He, therefore, had at least a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and such English as there was.

Another class of evidence is now available. It has already been stated that a large number of Bacon's books have been recovered, copiously annotated by him. Some of these books bear the date when the annotations were made. For the most part the marginal notes appear to be aids to memory, but in many cases they are critical observations of the text. These are, however, dealt with in a subsequent chapter.

Gilbert Wats, in dedicating to Charles I. his interpretation of "The Advancement of Proficiency of Learning" (1640), makes a statement which throws light on the course of Bacon's studies, and this strongly supports the present contention. He says:—

"He (Bacon) after he had survaied all the Records of Antiquity, after the volume of men, betook himselfe to the study of the volume of the world; and having conquerd whatever books possest, set upon the Kingdome of Nature and carried that victory very farre."

Speaking of him as a boy his biographer[6] describes his memory as "fixed and methodical," and in another[Pg 24] place he says "His judgment was solid yet his memory was a wonder."

The extent of his reading at this time had been very wide. He had already taken all knowledge to be his province, and was with that industry which was beyond the capacity of his contemporaries rapidly laying the foundations which subsequently justified this claim.

[Pg 25]

Chapter IV.

Francis Bacon went to reside at Trinity College, Cambridge, in April, 1573, being 12 years and 3 months of age. While the plague raged he was absent from the end of August, 1574, until the beginning of March following. He finally left the University at Christmas, 1575, about one month before his fifteenth birthday.

Rawley says he was there educated and bred under the tuition of Dr. John Whitgift,[7] then master of the College, afterwards the renowned Archbishop of Canterbury, a prelate of the first magnitude for sanctity, learning, patience, and humility; under whom he was observed to have been more than an ordinary proficient in the several arts and sciences.

Amboise, in the "Discours sur la vie de M. Bacon," prefixed to the "Histoire Naturelle," Paris, 1631, says: "Le jugement et la mémoire ne furent jamais en aucun home au degrè qu'ils estoient en celuy-cy; de sorte qu'en bien peu de temps il se rendit fort habile en toutes les sciences qui s'apprennent au Collège. Et quoi que deslors il fust jugé capable des charges les plas importantes, nean-moins pour ne tomber dedans la mesme faute que sont d'ordinaire les jeunes gens de son estoffe, qui par une ambition trop précipitée portent souvent au maniement des grandes affaires un esprit encore tout rempli des crudités de l'escole, Monsieur Bacon se voulut acquérir cette science, qui rendit autres-fois Ulysse si recommandable et luy fit mériter le nom de[Pg 26] sage, par la connoissance des mœurs de tant de nations diverses." That is all that can be said about his career at Cambridge except that Rawley adds:

"Whilst he was commorant in the University, about sixteen years of age (as his lordship hath been pleased to impart unto myself), he first fell into the dislike of the philosophy of Aristotle; not for the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ever ascribe all high attributes, but for the unfruitfulness of the way; being a philosophy (as his lordship used to say) only strong for disputations and contentions, but barren of the production of works for the benefit of the life of man; in which mind he continued to his dying day."

As Bacon left Cambridge at Christmas, 1575, before he was 15 years of age, Rawley's recollection must have been at fault when he mentions the age of 16 as that when Bacon formed this opinion.

There is another account of this incident in which it is stated that Francis Bacon left Cambridge without taking a degree as a protest against the manner in which philosophy was taught there. In the preface to the "Great Instauration" Bacon repeats his protest: "And for its value and utility, it must be plainly avowed that that wisdom which we have derived principally from the Greeks is but like the boyhood of knowledge and has the characteristic property of boys: it can talk but it cannot generate: for it is fruitful of controversies but barren of works."

This is merely a re-statement of the position he took up when at Cambridge. So this boy set up his opinion against that of the recognised professors of philosophy of his day, against the whole authority of the staff of the University, on a fundamental point on the most important question which could be raised as to the pursuit of knowledge. It is not too much to say that he had at this time covered the whole field of knowledge[Pg 27] in a manner more thorough than it had ever been covered before, and with his mind, which was beyond the reach of his contemporaries, he began to lay down those laws which revolutionised all thought and have become the accepted method by which the pursuit of knowledge is followed.

It is necessary again to seek for parallels to justify the position which will be claimed for Francis Bacon at this period.

Philip Melancthon affords one and James Crichton another. At Heidelberg Melancthon remained three years. He left when he was 15, the principal cause of his leaving being disappointment at being refused a higher degree in the University solely, it is alleged, on account of his youth. In September, 1512, he was entered at the University of Tubingen, where, in the following year, before he was 17 years of age, he was created Doctor in Philosophy or Master of Arts. He then commenced a course of public lectures, embracing an extraordinary variety of subjects, including the learned languages, rhetoric, logic, ethics, mathematics, and theology. Here in 1516 he put forth his revision of the text of Terence. Besides he entered into an undertaking with Thomas Anshelmus to revise all the books printed by him. He bestowed great labour on a large work in folio by Nauclerus, which he appears to have almost entirely re-written.

So much romance has been thrown around James Crichton that it is difficult to obtain the real facts of his life. Sir Thomas Urquhart, in "Discovery of a Most Exquisite Jewel," published in 1652, gives a biography which is, without doubt, mainly apocryphal. Certain facts, however, are well established. He was born in the same year as was Bacon (1560). At 10 years of age he entered St. Andrew's University, and in 1575 (the year Bacon left Cambridge) took his degree, coming out third in the first class. In 1576 he went to France,[Pg 28] as did Bacon—to Paris. In the College of Navarre he issued a universal challenge. This he subsequently repeated at Venice with equal success; that is, to all men, upon all things, in any of twelve languages named. The challenge is broad and formal. He pledged himself to review the schoolmen, allowed his opponents the privilege of selecting their topics—mathematics, no less than scholastic lore—either from branches publicly or privately taught, and promised to return answers in logical figure or in numbers estimated according to their occult power, or in any of a hundred sorts of verse. He is said to have justified before many competent witnesses his magnificent pretensions.

What Philip Melancthon was at fifteen, what James Crichton was at sixteen, Francis Bacon may have been. All the testimony which his contemporaries afford, especially having regard to his after life, justify the assertion that in knowledge and acquirements he was at least their equal.

About eighteen months later his portrait was painted by Hilliard, the Court miniature painter, who inscribed around it, as James Spedding says, the significant words—the natural ejaculation, we may presume, of the artist's own emotion—"Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem." If one could only find materials worthy to paint his mind.

[Pg 29]

Chapter V.

It is at this stage that the mystery of Francis Bacon begins to develop. Every channel through which information might be expected appears to be blocked. Besides a few pamphlets, in the production of which little time would be occupied, there came nothing from his pen until 1597 when, at the age of 37, the first edition of the essays was published—only ten short essays containing less than 6,000 words. In 1605, when 45, he addressed to James I. the "Two Books on the Advancement of Learning," containing less than 60,000 words. It would require no effort on Bacon's part to write either of these volumes. He could turn out the "Two Books of the Advancement of Learning" with the same facility that a leader writer of the Times would write his daily articles. He was to all intents and purposes unoccupied. Until 1594 he had not held a brief, and he never had any practice at the Bar worth considering. He was a member of Parliament, but the House seldom sat, and never for long periods. Bacon's life is absolutely unaccounted for. It is now proposed, by the aid of the literature of the period from 1576 to 1620, and with the help of information derived from his own handwriting, to trace, step by step, the results of his industry, and to supply the reason for the concealment which he pursued.

There is an entry in the Book of Orders of Gray's Inn under date 21st November, 1577, that Anthony and Francis Bacon (who had been admitted members 27th June, 1576, "de societate magistrorum") be admitted to the Grand Company, i.e., to the Degree of Ancients,[Pg 30] a privilege to which they were entitled as sons of a judge. From a letter subsequently written by Burghley, it is known that one Barker was appointed as their tutor of Law. Apparently it was intended that they should settle down to a course of legal training, but this plan was abandoned, at any rate, as far as Francis was concerned. Sir Amias Paulet, who was Chancellor of the Garter, a Privy Counsellor, and held in high esteem by the Queen,[8] was about to proceed to Paris to take the place of Dr. Dale as Ambassador at the Court of France. There is a letter written from Calais, dated 25th September, 1576, from Sir Amias to Lord Burghley, in which this paragraph appears: "My ordinary train is no greater than of necessity, being augmented by some young gentlemen, whereof one is Sir Nicholas Throgmorton's son, who was recommended to me by her Majesty, and, therefore, I could not refuse him. The others are so dear to me and the most part of them of such towardness, as my good hope of their doing well, and thereafter they will be able to serve their Prince and country, persuades me to make so much to excuse my folly as to entreat you to use your favour in my allowance for my transportations, my charges being increased by these extraordinary occasions."

Francis Bacon was one of this group of young gentlemen. Rawley states that "after he had passed the circle of the liberal arts, his father thought fit to frame and mould him for the arts of state; and for that end sent him over into France with Sir Amyas Paulet then employed Ambassador lieger into France."

There are grounds for believing that Bacon's literary activity had commenced before he left England. There is abundant evidence to prove that it was the custom at this period for authors who desired to conceal their[Pg 31] authorship to substitute for their own names, initials or the names of others on the title-pages. Two instances will suffice: "The Arte of English Poesie" was published in 1589, but written several years previously. The author says:—"I know very many notable Gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably, and suppressed it agayne, or els suffred it to be publisht without their owne names to it as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman to seeme learned, and to shew himself amorous of any learned Art." There is a bare-faced avowal of how names were placed on title-pages in a letter which exists from Henry Cuffe to Mr. Reynolds. Cuffe, an Oxford scholar of distinction, was a close companion and confidant of Essex. After the capture and sacking of Cadiz by Essex and Howard, the former deemed it important that his version of the affair should be the first to be published in England. Cuffe, therefore, started off post haste with the manuscript, but was taken ill on his arrival at Portsmouth, and could not proceed. He despatched the manuscript by a messenger with a letter to "Good Mr. Reynoldes," who was a private Secretary of Essex. He was to cause a transcript to be made and have it delivered to some good printer, in good characters and with diligence to publish it. Reynoldes was to confer with Mr. Greville (Fulke Greville, afterwards Lord Brooke) "whether he can be contented to suffer the two first letters of his name to be used in the inscription." "If he be unwilling," adds Cuffe, "you may put R.B. which some no doubt will interprete to be Beale, but it skills not." That this was a common practice is admitted by those acquainted with Elizabethan literature. If any of Bacon's writings were published prior to the trifle which appeared in 1597 as Essaies, his name was suppressed, and it would be probable some other name would appear on the title-page. There is a translation of a classical author, bearing date 1572, which is in[Pg 32] the Baconian style, but which need not be claimed for him without further investigation.

The following suggestion is put forward with all diffidence, but after long and careful investigation. Francis Bacon was the author of two books which were published, one before he left England, and the other shortly after. The first is a philosophical discourse entitled "The Anatomie of the Minde." Newlie made and set forth by T.R. Imprinted at London by I.C. for Andrew Maunsell, 1576, 12mo. The dedication is addressed to Master Christopher Hatton, and the name of Tho. Rogers is attached to it. There was a Thomas Rogers who was Chaplain to Archbishop Bancroft, and the book has been attributed to him, apparently only because no other of the same name was known. There was published in 1577 a translation by Rogers of a Latin book "Of the Ende of the World, etc." and there are other translations by him published between then and 1628. There are several sermons, also, but the style of these, the matter, and the manner of treatment are quite distinct from those of the book under consideration. There is nothing of his which would support the assignment to him of "The Anatomie of the Mind." It is foreign to his style.

Having regard to the acknowledged custom of the times of putting names other than the author's on title-pages, there is no need for any apology for expressing doubt as to whether the book has been correctly placed to the credit of the Bishop Bancroft's chaplain. In the address To the Reader the author says: "I dyd once for my profite in the Universitie, draw into Latin tables, which since for thy profite (Christian Reader) at the request of a gentleman of good credite and worship, I have Englished and published in these two books." There is in existence a copy of the book with the printer's and other errors corrected in Bacon's own handwriting.[Pg 33]

Bearing date 1577, imprinted at London for Henri Cockyn, is an octavo book styled, "Beautiful Blossoms" gathered by John Byshop from the best trees of all kyndes, Divine, Philosophicall, Astronomicall, Cosmographical, Historical and Humane that are growing in Greece, Latium, and Arabia, and some also in vulgar orchards as wel fro these that in auncient time were grafted, as also from them which with skilful head and hand beene of late yeare's, yea, and in our dayes planted: to the unspeakable, both pleasure and profite of all such as wil vouchsafe to use them. On the title-page are the words, "The First Tome," but no further volume was published. As to who or what John Byshop was there is no information available. His name appears on no other book. The preface is a gem of musical sounding words. It contains the sentence, "let them pass it over and read the rest which are all as plaine as Dunstable Way." Bacon's home was within a few miles of Dunstable Way, which was the local term for the main road.

It is impracticable here to give at length the grounds upon which it is believed that Francis Bacon was the author of these two books. Each of them is an outpouring of classical lore, and is evidently written by some young man who had recently assimilated the writings of nearly every classical author. In this respect both correspond with the manner of "The French Academie," to which the attention of the reader will shortly be directed, whilst in "The Anatomie of the Minde" the treatment of the subject is identical with that in the latter. Failing actual proof, the circumstantial evidence that the two books are from the same pen is almost as strong as need be.

Some time in October, 1576, Sir Amyas Paulet would reach Paris, accompanied by Bacon. The only fragment of information which is given by his biographers of any occurrence during his stay there is obtained from Rawley. He states that "Sir Amias Paulet after a[Pg 34] while held him fit to be entrusted with some message, or advertisement to the Queen, which having performed with great approbation, he returned back into France again with intention to continue for some years there." In his absence in France, his father, the Lord Keeper, died. This was in February, 1578-9. If he returned shortly after news of his father's death reached him, his stay on the Continent would cover about two and a-half years. As to what he was doing nothing is known, but Pierre Amboise states that "France, Italy, and Spain as the most civilised nations of the whole world were those whither his desire for Knowledge carried him."

[Pg 35]

Chapter VI.

Francis Bacon was at Blois with Sir Amias Paulet in 1577. In the same year was published the first edition of the first part of "Académie Francoise par Pierre de la Primaudaye Esceuyer, Seignor dudict lieu et de la Barrée, Gentilhomme ordinaire de la chambre du Roy." The dedication, dated February, 1577 (i.e., 1578) is addressed, "Au Tres-chrestien Roy de France et de Polongne Henry III. de ce nom." The first English translation, by T. B., was "published in 1586[9], imprinted at London by Edmund Bollifant for G. Bishop and Ralph Newbery." Other parts of "The Academy" followed at intervals of years, but the first and only complete edition in English bears date 1618, and was printed for Thomas Adams. Over the dedication is the well-known archer emblem. It is a thick folio volume, with 1,038 pages double columns. It may be[Pg 36] termed the first Encyclopædia which appeared in any language, and is, perhaps, one of the most remarkable productions of the Elizabethan era. Little is known of Pierre de la Primaudaye. The particulars for his biography in the "Biographie Nationale" seem to have been taken from references made to the author in the "French Académie" itself. In the French Edition, 1580, there is a portrait of a man, and under it the words "Anag. de L'auth. Par la prierè Dieu m'ayde." The following is an extract from the dedication:—

"The dinner of that prince of famous memorie, was a second table of Salomon, vnto which resorted from euerie nation such as were best learned, that they might reape profit and instruction. Yours, Sir, being compassed about with those, who in your presence daily discourse of, and heare discoursed many graue and goodly matters, seemeth to be a schoole erected to teach men that are borne to vertue. And for myselfe, hauing so good hap during the assemblie of your Estates at Blois, as to be made partaker of the fruit gathered thereof, it came in my mind to offer vnto your Maiestie a dish of diuers fruits, which I gathered in a Platonicall garden or orchard, otherwise called an Academie, where I was not long since with certaine yoong Gentlemen of Aniou my companions, discoursing togither of the institution in good maners, and of the means how all estates and conditions may liue well and happily. And although a thousand thoughts came then into my mind to hinder my purpose, as the small authoritie, which youth may or ought to haue in counsell amongst ancient men: the greatnes of the matter subject, propounded to be handled by yeeres of so small experience; the forgetfulness of the best foundations of their discourses, which for want of a rich and happie memorie might be in me: my iudgement not sound ynough, and my profession vnfit to set them downe in good order: briefly, the consideration of your naturall disposition and rare vertue, and of the learning which you receiuve both by reading good authors, and by your familiar communication with learned and great personages that are neere about your Maiestie (whereby I seemed to oppose the light of an obscure day, full of clouds and darkness, to the bright beames of a very cleere shining sonne, and to take in hand, as we say, to teach Minerua). I say[Pg 37] all these reasons being but of too great weight to make me change my opinion, yet calling to mind manie goodlie and graue sentences taken out of sundry Greeke and Latine Philosophers, as also the woorthie examples of the liues of ancient Sages and famous men, wherewith these discourses were inriched, which might in delighting your noble mind renew your memorie with those notable sayings in the praise of vertue and dispraise of vice, which you alwaies loued to heare: and considering also that the bounty of Artaxerxes that great Monarke of the Persians was reuiued in you, who receiued with a cheerfull countenance a present of water of a poore laborer, when he had no need of it, thinking to be as great an act of magnanimitie to take in good part, and to receiue cheerfully small presents offered with a hartie and good affection, as to giue great things liberally, I ouercame whatsoeuer would haue staied me in mine enterprise."

It appears, therefore, that the author by good hap was a visitor at the Court of Henry III. when at Blois; that he was there studying with certain young gentlemen of Anjou, his companions; that he was a youth, and of years of small experience; that his memory might not be sufficiently rich and happy, his judgment not enough, and his profession unfit in recording the discourses of himself and his companions.

"The Author to the Reader" is an essay on Philosophy, every sentence in which seems to have the same familiar sound as essays which subsequently appeared under another name. The contents of the several chapters are enumerated thus: "Of Man," "Of the Body and Soule," etc.

The first chapter contains a description of how the "Academie" came about. An ancient wise gentleman of great calling having spent the greater part of his years in the service of two kings, and of his country, France, for many and good causes had withdrawn himself to his house. He thought that to content his mind, which always delighted in honest and vertuous things, he could not bring greater profit to the Monarchie of France, than to lay open and preserve and keep youth[Pg 38] from the corruption which resulted from the over great license and excessive liberty granted to them in the Universities. He took unto his house four young gentlemen, with the consent of their parents who were distinguished noblemen. After he had shown these young men the first grounds of true wisdom, and of all necessary things for their salvation, he brought into his house a tutor of great learning and well reported of his good life and conversation, to whom he committed their instruction. After teaching them the Latin tongue and some smattering of Greek he propounded for their chief studies the moral philosophy of ancient sages and wise men, together with the understanding and searching out of histories which are the light of life. The four fathers, desiring to see what progress their sons had made, decided to visit them. And because they had small skill in the Latin tongue, they determined to have their children discourse in their own natural tongue of all matters that might serve for the instruction and reformation of every estate and calling, in such order and method as they and their master might think best. It was arranged that they should meet in a walking place covered over with a goodly green arbour, and daily, except Sundays, for three weeks, devote two hours in the morning and two hours after dinner to these discourses, the fathers being in attendance to listen to their sons. So interesting did these discussions become that the period was often extended to three or four hours, and the young men were so intent upon preparation for them that they would not only bestow the rest of the days, but oftentimes the whole night, upon the well studying of that which they proposed to handle. The author goes on to say:—"During which time it was my good hap to be one of the companie when they began their discourses, at which I so greatly wondered that I thought them worthy to be published abroad." From this it would appear that the author was a visitor,[Pg 39] privileged, with the four fathers and the master, to listen to the discourses of these four young men. But, a little further on the position is changed; one of the four young men is, without any explanation, ignored, and his father disappointed! For the author takes his place, as will be seen from the following extract:—

"And thus all fower of us followed the same order daily until everie one in his course had intreated according to appointment, both by the precepts of doctrine, as also by the examples of the lives of ancient Sages and famous men, of all things necessary for the institution of manners and happie life of all estates and callings in this French Monarchie. But because I knowe not whether, in naming my companions by their proper names, supposing thereby to honour them as indeede they deserve it, I should displease them (which thing I would not so much as thinke) I have determined to do as they that play on a Theater, who under borrowed maskes and disguised apparell, do represent the true personages of those whom they have undertaken to bring on the stage. I will therefore call them by names very agreeable to their skill and nature: the first Aser which signifieth Felicity: the second Amana which is as much to say as Truth: the third Aram which noteth to us Highness; and to agree with them as well in name as in education and behaviour. I will name myself Achitob[10] which is all one with Brother of goodness. Further more I will call and honour the proceeding and finishing of our sundry treatises and discourses with this goodlie and excellent title of Academie, which was the ancient and renowned school amongst the Greek Philosophers, who were the first that were esteemed, and that the place where Plato, Xenophon, Poleman, Xenocrates, and many other excellent personages, afterward called Academicks, did propound & discourse of all things meet for the instruction and teaching of wisdome: wherein we purposed to followe them to our power, as the sequele of our discourses shall make good proofe."

And then the discourses commence.

"Love's Labour's Lost" was published in 1598, and was the first quarto upon which the name of Shakespeare[Pg 40] was printed. The title-page states that it is "newly corrected and augmented," from which it may be inferred that there was a previous edition, but no copy of such is known. The commentators are in practical agreement that it was probably the first play written by the dramatist.

There are differences of opinion as to the probable date when it was written. Richard Grant White believes this to be not later than 1588, Knight gives 1589, but all this is conjecture.

The play opens with a speech by Ferdinand:—

"Let Fame that all hunt after in their lives,
Live registred upon our brazen Tombes,
And then grace us, in the disgrace of death:
When spight of cormorant devouring time,
Th' endevour of this present breath may buy:
That honour which shall bate his sythes keene edge,
And make us heyres of all eternitie.
Therefore brave Conquerours, for so you are,
That warre against your own affections,
And the huge Armie of the worlds desires.
Our late Edict shall strongly stand in force,
Navar shall be the wonder of the world.
Our Court shall be a little Achademe,
Still and contemplative in living Art.
You three, Berowne, Doumaine, and Longavill,
Have sworne for three yeeres terme, to live with me,
My fellow Schollers, and to keepe those statutes
That are recorded in this schedule heere.
Your oathes are past, and now subscribe your names;
That his owne hand may strike his honour downe,
That violates the smallest branch heerein:
If you are arm'd to doe, as sworne to do,
Subscribe to your deepe oathes, and keepe it to."

Four young men in the French "Academie" associated together, as in "Love's Labour Lost," to war against their own affections and the whole army of the world's desires. Dumaine, in giving his acquiescence to Ferdinand, ends:[Pg 41]

"To love, to wealth, to pompe, I pine and die
With all these living in Philosophie."

Philosophie was the subject of study of the four young men to the "Academie."

Berowne was a visitor, for he says:—

"I only swore to study with your grace
And stay heere in your Court for three yeeres' space."

Upon his demurring to subscribe to the oath as drawn, Ferdinand retorts:—

Well, sit you out: go home, Berowne: adue."

To which Berowne replies:—

No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay with you."

Achitob was a visitor at the Academie in France. There are other points of resemblance, but sufficient has been said to warrant consideration of the suggestion that the French "Academie" contains the serious studies of the four young men whose experiences form the subject of the play.

The parallels between passages in the Shakespeare plays and the French "Academie" are numerous, but they form no part of the present contention.

One of these may, however, be mentioned. In the third Tome the following passage occurs[11]:—

Psal. xix.: "It is not without cause that the Prophet said (The heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth sheweth the workes of his handes) For thereby he evidently teacheth, as with the finger even to our eies, the great and admirable providence of God their Creator; even as if the heavens should speake to anyone. In another place it is written (Eccles. xliii.): (This high ornament, this cleere firmament, the beauty of the heaven so glorious to behold, tis a thing full of Majesty)."

On turning to the revised version of the Bible it will be found that the first verse is thus translated: "The[Pg 42] pride of the height, the cleare firmament the beauty of heaven with his glorious shew." The rendering of the text in "The French Academy" is strongly suggestive of Hamlet's famous soliloquy. "This most excellent canopy, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fritted with golden fire, why it appears to me no other than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours." The author has forsaken the common-place rendering of the Apocrypha, and has adopted the same declamatory style which Shakespeare uses. It is strongly reminiscent of Hamlet's famous speech, Act II., scene ii.

Only one of the Shakespeare commentators makes any reference to the work. The Rev. Joseph Hunter, writing in 1844, points out that the dramatist in "As You Like It," describing the seven ages of man, follows the division made in the chapter on "The Ages of Man" in the "Academie."[12]

The suggestion now made is that the French "Academie" was written by Bacon, who is represented in the dialogues as Achitob—the first part when he was about 18 years of age, that he continued it until, in 1618, the complete work was published. In the dedication the author describes himself as a youth of[Pg 43] immature experience, but the contents bear evidence of a wide knowledge of classical authors and their works, a close acquaintance with the ancient philosophies, and a store of general information which it would be impossible for any ordinary youth of such an age to possess. But was not the boy who at 15 years of age left Cambridge disagreeing with the teaching there of Aristotle's philosophy, and whose mental qualities and acquirements provoked as "the natural ejaculation of the artist's emotion" the significant words, "Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem," altogether abnormal?

Was the "French Academie" Bacon's temporis partus maximus? It is only in a letter written to Father Fulgentio about 1625 that this work is heard of. Bacon writes: "Equidem memini me, quadraginta abhinc annis, juvenile opusculum circa has res confecisse, quod magna prorsus fiducia et magnifico titulo 'Temporis Partum Maximum' inscripsi."[13]

Spedding says: "This was probably the work of which Henry Cuffe (the great Oxford scholar who was executed in 1601 as one of the chief accomplices in the Earl of Essex's treason) was speaking when he said that 'a fool could not have written it and a wise man would not.' Bacon's intimacy with Essex had begun about thirty-five years before this letter was written."

Forty years from 1625 would carry back to 1585, the year preceding the date of publication of the first edition in English. If Cuffe's remark was intended to apply to the "French Academy," it is just such a criticism as the book might be expected to provoke.

The first edition of "The French Academie" in English appeared in 1586, the second in 1589, the third (two parts) in 1594, the fourth (three parts) in 1602, the fifth in 1614 (all quartos), then, in 1618, the large[Pg 44] folio edition containing the fourth part "never before published in English." It appears to have been more popular in England than it was in France. Brunet in his 1838 edition mentions neither the book nor the author, Primaudaye. The question as to whether there was at this time a reading public in England sufficiently wide to absorb an edition in numbers large enough to make the publication of this and similar works possible at a profit will be dealt with hereafter. In anticipation it may be said that the balance of probabilities justifies the conjecture that the issue of each of these editions involved someone in loss, and the folio edition involved considerable loss.

A comparison between the French and English publications points to both having been written by an author who was a master of each language rather than that the latter was a mere translation of the former. The version is so natural in idiom and style that it appears to be an original rather than a translation. In 1586 how many men were there who could write such English? The marginal notes are in the exact style of Bacon. "A similitude"—"A notable comparison"—occur frequently just as the writer finds them again and again in Bacon's handwriting in volumes which he possesses. The book abounds in statements, phrases, and quotations which are to be found in Bacon's letters and works.

One significant fact must be mentioned. The first letter of the text in the dedication in the first English translation is the letter S. It is printed from a wood block (Fig. I.). Thirty-nine years after (in 1625) when the last edition of Bacon's Essays—and, with the exception of the small pamphlet containing his versification of certain Psalms, the last publication during his life—was printed, that identical wood block (Fig. II.) was again used to print the first letter in the dedication of that book. Every defect and peculiarity in the one[Pg 45] will be found in the other. A search through many hundreds of books printed during these thirty-nine years—1586 to 1625—has failed to find it used elsewhere, except on one occasion, either then, before, or since.

Fig. I. Fig. I.

The first letter in the text of the dedication of the 1st edition of the English translation of the "French Academie," 1586. Printed at London by G. Bollifant. The block is also used in a similar manner in the 2nd edition, 1589. Londini Impensis, John Bishop.

Fig. II. Fig. II.

The first letter in the text of the dedication of the 1625 edition of Bacon's Essays, printed in London, by John Haviland.

Both letters were printed from the same block.

[Pg 46]

Did Bacon mark his first work on philosophy and his last book by printing the first letter in each from the same block?[14]

[Pg 47]

Chapter VII.

There is another work which it is impossible not to associate with this period, and that is John Barclay's "Argenis." It is little better known than is "The French Academy," and yet Cowper pronounced it the most amusing romance ever written. Cardinal Richelieu is said to have been extremely fond of reading it, and to have derived thence many of his political maxims. It is an allegorical novel. It is proposed now only to mention some evidence connected with the "Argenis" which supports the contention that the 1625 English edition contains the original composition, and that its author was young Francis Bacon.

The first edition of the "Argenis" in Latin was published in 1621. The authority to the publisher, Nicholas Buon, to print and sell the "Argenis" is dated the 21st July, 1621, and was signed by Barclay at Rome. The Royal authority is dated on the 31st August following.

Barclay's death took place between these dates, on the 12th of August, at Rome. It is reported that the cause of death was stone, but in an appreciation of him, published by his friend, Ralph Thorie, his death is attributed to poison.

The work is an example of the highest type of Latinity. So impressed was Cowper with its style that he stated that it would not have dishonoured Tacitus himself. A translation in Spanish was published in 1624, and in Italian in 1629. The Latin version was frequently reprinted during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—perhaps more frequently than any other book.[Pg 48]

In a letter dated 11th May, 1622, Chamberlain, writing to Carleton, says: "The King has ordered Ben Jonson to translate the 'Argenis,' but he will not be able to equal the original." On the 2nd October, 1623, Ben Jonson entered a translation in Stationers' Hall, but it was never published. About that time there was a fire in Jonson's house, in which it is said some manuscripts were destroyed; but it is a pure assumption that the "Argenis" was one of these.

In 1629 an English translation appeared by Sir Robert Le Grys, Knight, and the verses by Thomas May, Esquire. The title-page bears the statement: "The prose upon his Majesty's command." There is a Clavis appended, also stated to be "published at his Majesties command." It was printed by Felix Kyngston for Richard Mughten and Henry Seile. In the address to "The understanding Reader" Le Grys says, "What then should I say? Except it were to entreate thee, that where my English phrase doth not please thee, thou wilt compare it with the originall Latin and mend it. Which I doe not speak as thinking it impossible, but as willing to have it done, for the saving me a labour, who, if his Majesty had not so much hastened the publishing it, would have reformed some things in it, that did not give myselfe very full satisfaction."

In 1622 King James ordered a translation of the "Argenis." In 1629[15] Charles I. was so impatient to have a translation that he hastened the publication, thus preventing the translator from revising his work. Three years previously, however, in 1625—if the date may be relied on—there was published as printed by G. P. for Henry Seile a translation by Kingesmill Long. James died on the 25th March, 1625. The "Argenis" may not have been published in his lifetime; but if the[Pg 49] date be correct, three or four years before Charles hastened the publication of Le Grys's translation, this far superior one with Kingesmill Long's name attached to it could have been obtained from H. Seile. Surely the publisher would have satisfied the King's impatience by supplying him with a copy of the 1625 edition had it been on sale. The publication of a translation of the "Argenis" must have attracted attention. Is it possible that it could have been in existence and not brought to the notice of the King? There is something here that requires explanation. The Epistle Dedicatorie of the 1625 edition is written in the familiar style of another pen, although it bears the name of Kingesmill Long. The title-page states that it is "faithfully translated out of Latine into English," but it is not directly in the Epistle Dedicatorie spoken of as a translation. The following extract implies that the work had been lying for years waiting publication:—

"This rude piece, such as it is, hath long lyen by me, since it was finished; I not thinking it worthy to see the light. I had always a desire and hope to have it undertaken by a more able workman, that our Nation might not be deprived of the use of so excellent a Story: But finding none in so long time to have done it; and knowing that it spake not English, though it were a rich jewell to the learned Linguist, yet it was close lockt from all those, to whom education had not given more languages, than Nature Tongues: I have adventured to become the key to this piece of hidden Treasure, and have suffered myselfe to be overruled by some of my worthy friends, whose judgements I have alwayes esteemed, sending it abroad (though coursely done) for the delight and use of others."

Not a word about the author! The translations, said to be by Thomas May, of the Latin verses in the 1629 are identical with those in the 1625 edition, although Kingesmill Long, on the title-page, appears as the translator. Nothing can be learnt as to who or what Long was.[Pg 50]

Over lines "Authori," signed Ovv: Fell:[16] in the 1625 edition is one of the well-known light and dark A devices. This work is written in flowing and majestic English; the 1629 edition in the cramped style of translation.

The copy bearing date 1628, to which reference has been made, belonged to John Henry Shorthouse. He has made this note on the front page: "Jno. Barclay's description of himself under the person of Nicopompus Argenis, p. 60." This is the description to which he alludes:—

"Him thus boldly talking, Nicopompus could no longer endure: he was a man who from his infancy loved Learning; but who disdaining to be nothing but a booke-man had left the schooles very young, that in the courts of Kings and Princes, he might serve his apprenticeship in publicke affairs; so he grew there with an equall abilitie, both in learning and imployment, his descent and disposition fitting him for that kind of life: wel esteemed of many Princes, and especially of Meleander, whose cause together with the rest of the Princes, he had taken upon him to defend."

This description is inaccurate as applied to John Barclay, but in every detail it describes Francis Bacon.

A comparison has been made between the editions of 1625 and 1629 with the 1621 Latin edition. It leaves little room for doubting that the 1625 is the original work. Throughout the Latin appears to follow it rather than to be the leader; whilst the 1629 edition follows the Latin closely. In some cases the word used in the 1625 edition has been incorrectly translated into the 1621 edition, and the Latin word re-translated literally and incorrectly in view of the sense in the 1629 edition. But space forbids this comparison being further followed; suffice it to say that everything points to the 1625 edition being the original work.

As to the date of composition much may be said;[Pg 51] but the present contention is that "The French Academie," "The Argenis," and "Love's Labour's Lost" are productions from the same pen, and that they all represent the work of Francis Bacon probably between the years 1577 and 1580. At any rate, the first-named was written whilst he was in France, and the others were founded on the incidents and experience obtained during his sojourn there.

[Pg 52]

Chapter VIII.
BACON IN FRANCE, 1576-1579.

This brilliant young scholar landed with Sir Amias Paulet at Calais on the 25th of September, 1576, and with him went straight to the Court of Henry III. of France. It is remarkable that neither Montagu, Spedding, Hepworth Dixon, nor any other biographer seems to have thought it worth while to consider under what influences he was brought when he arrived there at the most impressionable period of his life. Hepworth Dixon, without stating his authority, says that he "quits the galleries of the Louvre and St. Cloud with his morals pure," but nothing more. And yet Francis Bacon arrived in France at the most momentous epoch in the history of French literature. This boy, with his marvellous intellect—the same intellect which nearly half a century later produced the "Novum Organum"—with a memory saturated with the records of antiquity and with the writings of the classical authors, with an industry beyond the capacity and a mind beyond the reach of his contemporaries, skilled in the teachings of the philosophers, with independence of thought and a courage which enabled him to condemn the methods of study followed at the University where he had spent three years; this boy who had a "beam of knowledge derived from God" upon him, who "had not his knowledge from books, but from some grounds and notions from himself," and above and beyond all who was conscious of his powers and had unbounded confidence in his capacity for using them; this boy walked beside the English Ambassador elect into the highest circles of French Society at the time when the[Pg 53] most important factors of influence were Ronsard and his confrères of the Pléiade. He had left behind him in his native country a language crude and almost barbaric, incapable of giving expression to the knowledge which he possessed and the thoughts which resulted therefrom.

At this time there were few books written in the English tongue which could make any pretence to be considered literature: Sir Thomas Eliot's "The Governor," Robert Ascham's "The Schoolmaster," and Thomas Wright's "Arts of Rhetoric," almost exhaust the list. Thynne's edition, 1532, and Lidgate's edition, 1561, of Chaucer's works are not intelligible. Only in the 1598 edition can the great poet be read with any understanding. The work of re-casting the poems for this edition was Bacon's, and he is the man referred to in the following lines, which are prefixed to it:—

The Reader to Geffrey Chaucer.

Rea.Where hast thou dwelt, good Geffrey al this while,
Unknown to us save only by thy bookes?
Chau.In haulks, and hernes, God wot, and in exile,
Where none vouchsaft to yeeld me words or lookes:
    Till one which saw me there, and knew my friends,
    Did bring me forth: such grace sometimes God sends.
Rea.But who is he that hath thy books repar'd,
And added moe, whereby thou are more graced?
Chau.The selfe same man who hath no labor spar'd,
To helpe what time and writers had defaced:
    And made old words, which were unknoun of many,
    So plaine, that now they may be knoun of any.
Rea.Well fare his heart: I love him for thy sake,
Who for thy sake hath taken all this pains.
Chau.Would God I knew some means amends to make,
That for his toile he might receive some gains.
    But wot ye what? I know his kindnesse such,
    That for my good he thinks no pains too much:
    And more than that; if he had knoune in time,
    He would have left no fault in prose nor rime.

[Pg 54]

There is a catalogue of the library of Sir Thomas Smith[17] on August 1, 1566, in his gallery at Hillhall. It was said to contain nearly a thousand books. Of these only five were written in the English language. Under Theologici, K. Henry VIII. book; under Juris Civilis, Littleton's Tenures, an old abridgement of Statutes; under Historiographi, Hall's Chronicles, and Fabian's Chronicles and The Decades of P. Martyr; under Mathematica, The Art of Navigation. The remainder are in Greek, Latin, French, and Italian. Burghley's biographer states that Burghley "never read any books or praiers but in Latin, French, or Italian, very seldom in Englishe."

At this time Francis Bacon thought in Latin, for his mother tongue was wholly insufficient. There is abundant proof of this in his own handwriting. Under existing conditions there could be no English literature worthy of the name. If a Gentleman of the Court wrote he either suppressed his writings or suffered them to be published without his name to them, as it was a discredit for a gentleman to seem learned and to show himself amorous of any good art. Here is where Spedding missed his way and never recovered himself. Deep as is the debt of gratitude due to him for his devoted labours in the preparation of "Bacon's Life and Letters" and in the edition of his works, it must be asserted that he accomplished this work without seeing Francis Bacon. There was a vista before young Bacon's eyes from which the practice of the law and civil dignities were absent. He arrived at the French Court at the psychological moment when an object-lesson met his eyes which had a more far-reaching effect[Pg 55] on the language and literature of the Anglo-Saxon race than any or all other influences that have conspired to raise them to the proud position which to-day they occupy. It is necessary briefly to explain the position of the French language and literature at this juncture.

The French Renaissance of literature had its beginning in the early years of the sixteenth century. It had been preceded by that of Italy, which opened in the fourteenth century, and reached its limit with Ariosto and Tasso, Macchiavelli and Guicciardini during the sixteenth century. Towards the end of the fifteenth century modern French poetry may be said to have had its origin in Villon and French prose in Comines. The style of the former was artificial and his poems abounded in recurrent rhymes and refrains. The latter had peculiarities of diction which were only compensated for by weight of thought and simplicity of expression. Clement Marot, who followed, stands out as one of the first landmarks in the French Renaissance. His graceful style, free from stiffness and monotony, earned for him a popularity which even the brilliancy of the Pléiade did not extinguish, for he continued to be read with genuine admiration for nearly two centuries. He was the founder of a school of which Mellia de St. Gelais, the introducer of the sonnet into France, was the most important member. Rabelais and his followers concurrently effected a complete revolution in fiction. Marguerite of Navarre, who is principally known as the author of "The Heptameron," maintained a literary Court in which the most celebrated men of the time held high place. It was not until the middle of the sixteenth century that the great movement took place in French literature which, if that which occurred in the same country three hundred years subsequently be excepted, is without parallel in literary history.

The Pléiade consisted of a group of seven men and boys who, animated by a sincere and intelligent love of[Pg 56] their native language, banded themselves together to remodel it and its literary forms on the methods of the two great classical tongues, and to reinforce it with new words from them. They were not actuated by any desire for gain. In 1549 Jean Daurat, then 49 years of age, was professor of Greek at le Collège de Coqueret in Paris. Amongst those who attended his classes were five enthusiastic, ambitious youths whose ages varied from seventeen to twenty-four. They were Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay, Remy Belleau, Antoine de Baïf, and Etienne Jodelle. They and their Professor associated themselves together and received as a colleague Pontus de Tyard, who was twenty-eight. They formed a band of seven renovators, to whom their countrymen applied the cognomen of the Pléiade, by which they will ever be known. Realising the defects and possibilities of their language, they recognised that by appropriations from the Greek and Latin languages, and from the melodious forms of the Italian poetry, they might reform its defects and develop its possibilities so completely that they could place at the service of great writers a vehicle for expression which would be the peer if not the superior of any language, classical or modern. It was a bold project for young men, some of whom were not out of their teens, to venture on. That they met with great success is beyond question; the extent of that success it is not necessary to discuss here. The main point to be emphasised is that it was a deliberate scheme, originated, directed, and matured by a group of little more than boys. The French Renaissance was not the result of a spontaneous bursting out on all sides of genius. It was wrought out with sheer hard work, entailing the mastering of foreign languages, and accompanied by devotion and without hope of pecuniary gain. The manifesto of the young band was written by Joachim de Bellay in 1549, and was entitled, "La Défense et Illustration de la langue Francaise."[Pg 57] In the following year appeared Ronsard's Ode—the first example of the new method. Pierre de Ronsard entered Court life when ten years old. In attendance on French Ambassadors he visited Scotland and England, where he remained for some time. A severe illness resulted in permanent deafness and compelled him to abandon his profession, when he turned to literature. Although Du Bellay was the originator of the scheme, Ronsard became the director and the acknowledged leader of the band. His accomplishments place him in the first rank of the poets of the world. Reference would be out of place here to the movement which was after his death directed by Malherbe against Ronsard's reputation and fame as a poet and his eventual restoration by the disciples of Sainte Beuve and the followers of Hugo. It is desirable, however, to allude to other great Frenchmen whose labours contributed in other directions to promote the growth of French literature. Jean Calvin, a native of Noyon, in Picardy, had published in Latin, in 1536, when only twenty-seven years of age, his greatest work, both from a literary and theological point of view, "The Institution of the Christian Religion," which would be accepted as the product of full maturity of intellect rather than the firstfruits of the career of a youth. What the Pléiade had done to create a French language adequate for the highest expression of poetry Calvin did to enable facility in argument and discussion. A Latin scholar of the highest order, avoiding in his compositions a tendency to declamation, he developed a stateliness of phrase which was marked by clearness and simplicity. Théodore Beza, historian, translator, and dramatist, was another contributor to the literature of this period. Jacques Amyot had commenced his translations from "Ethiopica," treating of the royal and chaste loves of Theagenes and Chariclea three years before Du Bellay's manifesto appeared. Montaigne,[Pg 58] referring to his translation of Plutarch, accorded to him the palm over all French writers, not only for the simplicity and purity of his vocabulary, in which he surpassed all others, but for his industry and depth of learning. In another field Michel Eyquem Sieur de Montaigne had arisen. His moral essays found a counterpart in the biographical essays of the Abbé de Brantôme. Agrippa D'Aubigné, prose writer, historian, and poet; Guillaume de Saluste du Bartas, the Protestant Ronsard whose works were more largely translated into English than those of any other French writer; Philippes Desportes and others might be mentioned as forming part of that brilliant circle of writers who had during a comparatively short period helped to achieve such a high position for the language and literature of France.

In 1576, when Francis Bacon arrived in France, the fame of the Pléiade was at its zenith. Du Bellay and Jodelle were dead, but the fruit of their labours and of those of their colleagues was evoking the admiration of their countrymen. The popularity of Ronsard, the prince of poets and the poet of princes, was without precedent. It is said that the King had placed beside his throne a state chair for Ronsard to occupy. Poets and men of letters were held in high esteem by their countrymen. In England, for a gentleman to be amorous of any learned art was held to be discreditable, and any proclivities in this direction had to be hidden under assumed names or the names of others. In France it was held to be discreditable for a gentleman not to be amorous of the learned arts. The young men of the Pléiade were all of good family, and all came from cultured homes. Marguerite of Navarre had set the example of attracting poets and writers to her Court and according honours to them on account of their achievements. The kings of France had adopted[Pg 59] a similar attitude. During the same period in England Henry VIII., Mary, and Elizabeth had been following other courses. They had given no encouragement to the pursuit of literature. Notwithstanding the repetition by historians of the assertion that the good Queen Bess was a munificent patron of men of letters, literature flourished in her reign in spite of her action and not by its aid.

Bacon implies this in the opening sentences of the second book of the "Advancement of Learning." He speaks of Queen Elizabeth as being "a sojourner in the world in respect of her unmarried life, rather than an inhabitant. She hath indeed adorned her own time and many waies enricht it; but in truth to Your Majesty, whom God hath blest with so much Royall issue worthy to perpetuate you for ever; whose youthfull and fruitfull Bed, doth yet promise more children; it is very proper, not only to iradiate as you doe your own times, but also to extend your Cares to those Acts which succeeding Ages may cherish, and Eternity itself behold: Amongst which, if my affection to learning doe not transport me, there is none more worthy, or more noble, than the endowment of the world with sound and fruitfull Advancement of Learning: For why should we erect unto ourselves some few authors, to stand like Hercules Columnes beyond which there should be no discovery of knowledge, seeing we have your Majesty as a bright and benigne starre to conduct and prosper us in this Navigation." As Elizabeth had been unfruitful in her body, and James fruitful, so had she been unfruitful in encouraging the Advancement of Learning, but the appeal is made to James that he, being blessed with a considerable issue, should also have an issue by the endowment of Learning.

What must have been the effect on the mind of this brilliant young Englishman, Francis Bacon, when he entered into this literary atmosphere so different from[Pg 60] that of the Court which he had left behind him? There was hardly a classical writer whose works he had not read and re-read. He was familiar with the teachings of the schoolmen; imbued with a deep religious spirit, he had mastered the principles of their faiths and the subtleties of their disputations. The intricacies of the known systems of philosophies had been laid bare before his penetrating intellect. With the mysteries of mathematics and numbers he was familiar. What had been discovered in astronomy, alchemy and astrology he had absorbed; however technical might be a subject, he had mastered its details. In architecture the works of Vitruvius had been not merely read but criticised with the skill of an expert. Medicine, surgery—every subject—he had made himself master of. In fact, when he asserted that he had taken all knowledge to be his province he spoke advisedly and with a basis of truth which has never until now been recognised. The youth of 17 who possessed the intellect, the brain and the memory which jointly produced the "Novum Organum," whose mind was so abnormal that the artist painting his portrait was impelled to place round it "the significant words," "si tabula daretur digna, animum mallem," who had taken all knowledge to be his province, was capable of any achievement of the Admirable Crichton. And this youth it was who in 1576 passed from a country of literary and intellectual torpor into the brilliancy of the companionship of Pierre de Ronsard and his associates. It is one of the most stupendous factors in his life. Something happened to him before his return to England which affected the whole of his future life. It may be considered a wild assertion to make, but the time will come when its truth will be proved, that "The Anatomie of the Minde," "Beautiful Blossoms," and "The French Academy," are the product of one mind, and that same mind produced the "Arte of English Poesie," "An Apology for Poetrie," by Sir John Harrington, and "The[Pg 61] Defense of Poetry," by Sir Philip Sydney. The former three were written before 1578 and place the philosopher before the poet; the latter three were written after 1580 and place the poet—the creator—before the philosopher. Francis Bacon had recognised that the highest achievement was the act of creation. Henceforth he lived to create.

Sir Nicholas Bacon died on or about the 17th of February, 1578-9. How or where this news reached Francis is not recorded, but on the 20th of the following March he left Paris for England, after a stay of two and a-half years on the Continent. He brought with him to the Queen a despatch from Sir Amias Paulet, in which he was spoken of as being "of great hope, endued with many and singular parts," and one who, "if God gave him life, would prove a very able and sufficient subject to do her Highness good and acceptable service."[18]

[Pg 62]

Chapter IX.

Spedding states that the earliest composition of Bacon which he had been able to discover is a letter written in his 20th year from Grays Inn. From that time forward, he continues, compositions succeed each other without any considerable interval, and in following them we shall accompany him step by step through his life. What are the compositions which Spedding places as being written but not published up to the year 1597, when the first small volume of 10 essays containing less than 6,000 words was issued from the press? These are they:—

Notes on the State of Christendom[19] (date 1580 to 1584).

Letter of Advice to the Queen (1584-1586).

An Advertisement touching the Controversies of the Church of England (1586-1589).

Speeches written for some Court device, namely, Mr. Bacon in praise of Knowledge, and Mr. Bacon's discourse in praise of his Sovereign (1590-1592).

Certain observations made upon a libel published this present year, 1592.

A true report of the Detestable Treason intended by Dr. Roderigo Lopez, 1594.

Gesta Grayorum, 1594, parts of which are printed by Spedding in type denoting doubtful authorship.

Bacon's device, 1594-1598.

[Pg 63]

Three letters to the Earl of Rutland on his travels, 1595-1596.

That is all! These are the compositions which follow each other without considerable interval, and by which we are to accompany him step by step through those seventeen years which should be the most important years in a man's life! He could have turned them out in ten days or a fortnight with ease. We expect from Mr. Spedding bread, and he gives us a stone!

This brilliant young man, who, when 15 years of age, left Cambridge, having possessed himself of all the knowledge it could afford to a student, who had travelled in France, Spain and Italy to "polish his mind and mould his opinion by intercourse with all kinds of foreigners," how was he occupying himself during what should be the most fruitful years of his life? Following his profession at the Bar? His affections did not that way tend. Spedding expresses the opinion that he had a distaste for his profession, and, writing of the circumstances with which he was surrounded in 1592, says: "I do not find that he was getting into practice. His main object still was to find ways and means for prosecuting his great philosophical enterprise." What was this enterprise? "I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends as I have moderate means," he says, writing to Burghley, "for I have taken all knowledge to be my province." This means more than mere academic philosophy.

In 1593, when Bacon was put forward and upheld for a year as a candidate for the post of Attorney-General, Spedding writes of him; "He had had little or no practice in the Courts; what proof he had given of professional proficiency was confined to his readings and exercises in Grays Inn.... Law, far from being his only, was not even his favourite study; ... his head was full of ideas so new and [Pg 64] large that to most about him they must have seemed visionary."

Writing of him in 1594 Spedding says: "The strongest point against Bacon's pretensions for the Attorneyship was his want of practice. His opponents said that 'he had never entered the place of battle.'[20] Whether this was because he could not find clients or did not seek them I cannot say." In order to meet the objection, Bacon on the 25th January, 1593-4, made his first pleading, and Burghley sent his secretary "to congratulate unto him the first fruits of his public practice."

There is one other misconception to be corrected. It is urged that Bacon was, during this period, engrossed in Parliamentary life. From 1584 to 1597 five Parliaments were summoned. Bacon sat in each. In his twenty-fifth year he was elected member for Melcombe, in Dorsetshire. In the Parliament of 1586 he sat for Taunton, in that of 1588 for Liverpool, in that of 1592-3 for Middlesex, and in 1597 for Ipswich.

But the sittings of these Parliaments were not of long duration, and the speeches which he delivered and the meetings of committees upon which he was appointed would absorb but a small portion of his time. It must be patent, therefore, that Spedding does not account for his occupations from his return to England in 1578 until 1597, when the first small volume of his Essays was published.

During the whole of this period Bacon was in monetary difficulties, and yet there is no evidence that he was living a life of dissipation or even of extravagance. On the contrary, all testimony would point to the conclusion that he was following the path of a strictly moral and studious young man. On his return to England he took lodgings in Coney Court, Grays [Pg 65] Inn. There Anthony found him when he returned from abroad.

There are no data upon which to form any reliable opinion as to the amount of his income at this time. Rawley states that Sir Nicholas Bacon had collected a considerable sum of money which he had separated with intention to have made a competent purchase of land for the livelihood of his youngest son, but the purchase being unaccomplished at his death, Francis received only a fifth portion of the money dividable, by which means he lived in some straits and necessities in his younger years. It is not clear whether the "money dividable" was only that separated by Sir Nicholas, or whether he left other sums which went to augment the fund divisible amongst the brothers. His other children were well provided for. Francis was not, however, without income. Sir Nicholas had left certain manors, etc., in Herts to his sons Anthony and Francis in tail male, remainder to himself and his heirs. Lady Ann Bacon had vested an estate called Markes, in Essex, in Francis, and there is a letter, dated 16th April, 1593, from Anthony to his mother urging her to concur in its sale, so that the proceeds might be applied to the relief of his brother's financial position.[21]

[Pg 66]Lady Bacon lived at Gorhambury. She was not extravagant, and yet in 1589 she was so impoverished that Captain Allen, in writing to Anthony, speaking of his mother, Lady Bacon, says she "also saith her jewels be spent for you, and that she borrowed the last money of seven several persons." Whatever her resources were, they had by then been exhausted for her sons. Anthony was apparently a man of considerable means. He was master of the manor and priory of Redburn, of the manor of Abbotsbury, Minchinbury and Hores, in the parish of Barley, in the county of Hertford; of the Brightfirth wood, Merydan-meads, and Pinner-Stoke farms, in the county of Middlesex.[22]

But within a few years after his return to England Anthony was borrowing money wherever he could. Mother and brother appear to have exhausted their resources and their borrowing capabilities. There is an account showing that in eighteen months, about 1593, Anthony lent Francis £373, equivalent to nearly £3,000 at to-day's value. In 1597 Francis was arrested by the sheriff for a debt of £300, for which a money-lender had obtained judgment against him, and he was cast into the Tower. Where had all the money gone? There is no adequate explanation.

The first letter of Francis Bacon's which Spedding met with, to which reference has already been made, is dated 11th July, 1580, to Mr. Doylie, and is of little importance. The six letters which follow—all there [Pg 67] are between 1580 and 1590[23]—relate to one subject, and are of great significance. The first is dated from Grays Inn, 16th September, 1580, to Lady Burghley. In it young Francis, now 19 years of age, makes this request: "That it would please your Ladyship in your letters wherewith you visit my good Lord to vouchsafe the mention and recommendation of my suit; wherein your Ladyship shall bind me more unto you than I can look ever to be able to sufficiently acknowledge."

The next letter—written on the same day—is addressed to Lord Burghley. Its object is thus set forth:—

"My letter hath no further errand but to commend unto your Lordship the remembrance of my suit which then I moved unto you, whereof it also pleased your Lordship to give me good hearing so far forth as to promise to tender it unto her Majesty, and withal to add in the behalf of it that which I may better deliver by letter than by speech, which is, that although it must be confessed that the request is rare and unaccustomed, yet if it be observed how few there be which fall in with the study of the common laws either being well left or friended, or at their own free election, or forsaking likely success in other studies of more delight and no less preferment, or setting hand thereunto early without waste of years upon such survey made, it may be my case may not seem ordinary, no more than my suit, and so more beseeming unto it. As I force myself to say this in excuse of my motion, lest it should appear unto your Lordship altogether undiscreet and unadvised, so my hope to obtain it resteth only upon your Lordship's good affection towards me and grace with her Majesty, who methinks needeth never to call for the experience of the thing, where she hath so great and so good of the person which recommendeth it."

[Pg 68]

What was this suit? Spedding cannot suggest any explanation. He says: "What the particular employment was for which he hoped I cannot say; something probably connected with the service of the Crown, to which the memory of his father, an old and valued servant prematurely lost, his near relationship to the Lord Treasurer, and the personal notice which he had himself received from the Queen, would naturally lead him to look.... The proposition, whatever it was, having been explained to Burghley in conversation, is only alluded to in these letters. It seems to have been so far out of the common way as to require an apology, and the terms of the apology imply that it was for some employment as a lawyer. And this is all the light I can throw upon it." Subsequently Spedding says the motion was one[24] "which would in some way have made it unnecessary for him to follow 'a course of practice,' meaning, I presume, ordinary practice at the Bar."

Another expression in the letter makes it clear that the object of the suit was an experiment. The Queen could not have "experience of the thing," and Bacon solicited Burghley's recommendation, because she would not need the experience if he, so great and so good, vouched for it.

Burghley appears to have tendered the suit to the Queen, for there is a letter dated 18th October, 1580, addressed to him by Bacon, commencing:

"Your Lordship's comfortable relation to her Majesty's gracious opinion and meaning towards me, though at that time your leisure gave me not leave to show how I was affected therewith, yet upon every representation thereof it entereth and striketh so much more deeply into me, as both my nature and duty presseth me to return some speech of thankfulness."

Spedding remarks thereon: "It seems that he had[Pg 69] spoken to Burghley on the subject and made some overture, which Burghley undertook to recommend to the Queen; and that the Queen, who though slow to bestow favours was careful always to encourage hopes, entertained the motion graciously and returned a favourable answer. The proposition, whatever it was, having been explained to Burghley in conversation, is only alluded to in these letters."

Spedding dismisses these three letters in 22 lines of comment, which contain the extracts before set out. He regards the matter as of slight consequence, and admits that he can throw no light upon it. But he points out that it was "so far out of the common way as to require an apology." Surely he has not well weighed the terms of the apology when he says they "imply that it was for some employment as a lawyer."

There had been a conversation between Bacon and Burghley during which Bacon had submitted a project to the accomplishment of which he was prepared to devote his life in the Queen's service. It necessitated his abandoning the profession of the law. Apparently Burghley had remonstrated with him, in the manner of experienced men of the world, against forsaking a certain road and avenue to preferment in favour of any course rare and unaccustomed. Referring in his letter to this, Bacon's parenthetical clause beginning "either being well left or friended," etc., is confession and avoidance. In effect he says:—Few study the common laws who have influence; few at their own free election; few desert studies of more delight and no less preferment; and few devote themselves to that study from their earliest years. Since there are few who, having my opportunities, devote themselves to the study of the common laws, my position in so doing would not be an ordinary one, no more than is my suit. Therefore, why should I, having your [Burleigh's] influence to help me, sacrifice my great intellectual[Pg 70] capabilities fitting me to accomplish my great contemplative ends? Why should I sacrifice them to a study of the common laws?

The sentence may be otherwise construed, but in any case it involves an apology for the abandonment of the profession which had been chosen for him.

The next letter is addressed to the Right Honourable Sir Francis Walsingham, principal secretary to her Majesty, and is dated from Grays Inn, 25th of August, 1585. Spedding's comment on it is as follows:—

"For all this time, it seems, the suit (whatever it was) which he had made to her through Burghley in 1580 remained in suspense, neither granted nor denied, and the uncertainty prevented him from settling his course of life. From the following letter to Walsingham we may gather two things more concerning it: it was something which had been objected to as unfit for so young a man; and which would in some way have made it unnecessary for him to follow 'a course of practice'—meaning, I presume, ordinary practice at the Bar."

This is the letter:—

"It may please your Honour to give me leave amidst your great and diverse business to put you in remembrance of my poor suit, leaving the time unto your Honour's best opportunity and commodity. I think the objection of my years will wear away with the length of my suit. The very stay doth in this respect concern me, because I am thereby hindered to take a course of practice which, by the leave of God, if her Majesty like not my suit, I must and will follow: not for any necessity of estate, but for my credit sake, which I know by living out of action will wear. I spake when the Court was at Theball's to Mr. Vice-Chamberlain,[25] who promised me his furderance; which I did lest he mought be made for some other. If it may please your Honour, who as I hear hath great interest in him, to speak with him in it, I think he will be fast mine."

Spedding remarks: "This is the last we hear of this suit, the nature and fate of which must both be left to[Pg 71] conjecture. With regard to its fate, my own conjecture is that he presently gave up all hope of success in it, and tried instead to obtain through his interest at Court some furtherance in the direct line of his profession."

He adds: "The solid grounds on which Bacon's pretensions rested had not yet been made manifest to the apprehension of Bench and Bar; his mind was full of matters with which they could have no sympathy, and the shy and studious habits which we have seen so offend Mr. Faunt would naturally be misconstrued in the same way by many others."[26]

This passage refers to a letter to Burghley dated the 6th of the following May, i.e., 1586, from which it will be seen that the last had not been heard of the motion. Burghley had been remonstrating with Bacon as to reports which had come to him of his nephew's proceedings. Bacon writes:—

"I take it as an undoubted sign of your Lordship's favour unto me that being hardly informed of me you took occasion rather of good advice than of evil opinion thereby. And if your Lordship had grounded only upon the said information of theirs, I mought and would truly have upholden that few of the matters were justly objected; as the very circumstances do induce in that they were delivered by men that did misaffect me and besides were to give colour to their own doings. But because your Lordship did mingle therewith both a late motion of mine own and somewhat which you had otherwise heard, I know it to be my duty (and so do I stand affected) rather to prove your Lordship's admonition effectual in my doings hereafter than causeless by excusing what is past. And yet (with your Lordship's pardon humbly asked) it may please you to remember that I did endeavour to set forth that said motion in such sort as it mought breed no harder effect than a denial, and I protest simply before God that I sought therein an ease in coming within Bars, and not any extraordinary and singular note of favour."

May not the interpretation of the phrase "I sought[Pg 72] therein an ease in coming within Bars" be "I sought in that motion a freedom from the burden (or necessity) of coming within Bars." The phrase "an ease in" is very unusual, and unless it was a term used in connection with the Inns it is difficult to see its precise meaning. In other words, he sought an alternative method to provide means for carrying out his great philosophical enterprise.

There is an interval of five years before the next and last letter of the six was written. It is undated, but an observation in it shows that it was written when he was about 31 years of age, thus fixing the date at 1591.

From an entry in Burghley's note book,[27] dated 29 October, 1589, it appears that in the meantime a grant had been made to Bacon of the reversion of the office of Clerk to the Counsel in the Star Chamber. This was worth about £1,600 per annum and executed by deputy, but the reversion did not fall in for twenty years, so it did not affect the immediate difficulty in ways and means.

There are occasional references to Francis in Anthony's correspondence which show that the brothers were residing at Grays Inn, but nothing is stated as to the occupation of the younger brother.

At this time, according to Spedding,[28] who, however, does not give his authority, Francis had a lodge at Twickenham. Many of his letters are subsequently addressed from it, and three years later he was keeping a staff of scriveners there.

The last letter is addressed to Lord Burghley, who is in it described by Bacon as "the second founder of my poor estate," and contains the following:—

"I cannot accuse myself that I am either prodigal or slothful, yet my health is not to spend nor my course to get. Lastly, I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends as I have[Pg 73] moderate civil ends: for I have taken all knowledge to be my province. This whether it be curiosity or vain glory, or (if one takes it favourably) philanthropia, is so fixed in my mind as it cannot be removed. And I do easily see, that place of any reasonable countenance doth bring commandment of more wits than of a man's own, which is the thing I greatly affect. And for your Lordship, perhaps you shall not find more strength and less encounter in any other. And if your Lordship shall find now, or at any time, that I do seek or affect any place, whereunto any that is nearer to your Lordship shall be concurrent, say then that I am a most dishonest man. And if your Lordship will not carry me on, I will not do as Anaxagoras did, who reduced himself with contemplation unto voluntary poverty; but this I will do, I will sell the inheritance that I have, and purchase some lease of quick revenue, or some office of gain that shall be executed by deputy, and so give over all care of service and become some sorry bookmaker, or a true pioneer in that mine of truth, which he said lay so deep. This which I have writ to your Lordship is rather thoughts than words, being set down without all art, disguising or reservation."

The suit has been of no avail. Once more Bacon appeals (and this is to be his final appeal) to his uncle. He is writing thoughts rather than words, set down without art, disguising or reservation. But if his Lordship will not carry him along he has definitely decided on his course of action. The law is not now even referred to. If the object of the suit was not stated in 1580, there cannot be much doubt now but that it had to do with the making of books and pioneer work in the mine of truth. For ten years Francis Bacon had waited, buoyed up by encouragements and false hopes. Now he decides to take his fortune into his own hands and rely no more on assistance either from the Queen or Burghley.

One sentence in the letter should be noted: "If your Lordship shall find now, or at any time, that I do seek or affect any place whereunto any that is nearer unto your Lordship shall be concurrent, say then that I am a most dishonest man." Surely this was an assurance on[Pg 74] Bacon's part that he did not seek or affect to stand in the way of the one—the only one, Robert Cecil—who stood nearer to Burghley in kinship.

It therefore appears evident from the foregoing facts:—

(1) That Francis Bacon at 17 years of age was an accomplished scholar; that his knowledge was abnormally great, and that his wit, memory, and mental qualities were of the highest order—probably without parallel.

(2) That in the year 1580, when 19 years old, he sought the assistance of Burghley to induce the Queen to supply him with means and the opportunity to carry out some great work upon the achievement of which he had set his heart. The work was without precedent, and in carrying it out he was prepared to dedicate to her Majesty the use and spending of his life.

(3) That for ten years he waited and hoped for the granting of his suit, which was rare and unaccustomed, until eventually he was compelled to relinquish it and rely upon his own resources to effect his object.

(4) But he desired to command other wits than his own, and that could be more easily achieved by one holding place of any reasonable countenance. He therefore sought through Burleigh place accompanied by income, so that he might be enabled to achieve the vast contemplative ends he had in view.

(5) That during the years 1580 to 1597, in which he claims that he was not slothful, there is no evidence of his being occupied in his profession or in State affairs to any appreciable extent, and yet there do not exist any acknowledged works as the result of his labours. Rawley states that Bacon would "suffer no moment of time to slip from him without some present improvement."

(6) He received pecuniary assistance from his uncle,[Pg 75] Lord Burghley. He strained the monetary resources of his mother and brother, which were not inconsiderable, to the utmost, exhausted his own, and heavily encumbered himself with debts, and yet he was not prodigal or extravagant.

(7) Money and time he must have to carry out his scheme, which, if one takes it favourably, might be termed philanthropia, and he therefore decided that, failing obtaining some sinecure office, he would sell the inheritance he had, purchase some lease of quick revenue or office of gain that could be executed by a deputy, give over all care of serving the State, and become some sorry bookmaker or a true pioneer in the mine of truth.

(8) Spedding says, "He could at once imagine like a poet and execute like a clerk of the works"; but whatever his contemplative ends were there is nothing known to his biographers which reveals the result of his labours as clerk of the works.

(9) If he carried out the course of action which he contemplated it is clear that he decided to do so without himself appearing as its author and director. From 1580 to 1590 something more was on his mind than the works he published after he had arrived at sixty years of age. "I am no vain promiser," he said. Where can the fulfilment of his promise be found? Can his course be followed by tracing through the period the trail which was left by some great and powerful mind directing the progress of the English Renaissance?

[Pg 76]

Chapter X.

What was this rare and unaccustomed suit of which the Queen could have had no experience and which, according to Spedding, would make it unnecessary for Bacon to follow "ordinary practice at the bar"? Historians and biographers have founded on this suit the allegation that from his earliest years Bacon was a place hunter, entirely ignoring the fact, which is made clear from the letter to Walsingham written four years after the application was first made, that he had resolved on a course of action which, if her Majesty liked not his suit, by the leave of God he must and would follow, not for any necessity of estate, but for his credit sake. Here was a young man of twenty years of age, earnestly urging the adoption of a scheme which he had conceived, and which he feared Burghley might consider indiscreet and unadvised. Failing in obtaining his object, as will be proved by definite evidence, undertaking at the cost of Thomas Bodley and other friends a course of travel to better fit him for the task he had mapped out as his life's work—returning to England and, four years after his first request had been made, renewing his suit—grimly in earnest and determined to carry the scheme through at all costs, with or without the Queen's aid. This is not the conduct of a mere place hunter. If these letters be read aright and the reasonable theory which will be advanced of the nature of the suit be accepted—all efforts to suggest any explanation having hitherto, as Spedding admits, proved futile—a fresh light will be thrown upon the character of Francis Bacon, and the heavy obligation under which[Pg 77] he has placed his countrymen for all ages will for the first time be recognised.

In the seven volumes of "Bacon's Life and Letters" there is nothing to justify the eulogy on his character to which Spedding gave utterance in the following words:—"But in him the gift of seeing in prophetic vision what might be and ought to be was united with the practical talent of devising means and handling minute details. He could at once imagine like a poet and execute like a clerk of the works. Upon the conviction This must be done followed at once How may it be done? Upon that question answered followed the resolution to try and do it." But although Spedding fails to produce any evidence to justify his statement, it is nevertheless correct. More than that, the actual achievement followed with unerring certainty, but Spedding restricts Bacon's life's work to the establishment of a system of inductive philosophy, and records the failure of the system.

William Cecil was a man of considerable classical attainments, although these were probably not superior to those of Mildred Cooke, the lady who became his second wife. He was initiated into the methods of statesmanship at an early age by his father, Richard Cecil, Master of the Robes to Henry VIII. Having found favour with Somerset, the Protector of Edward VI., he was, when 27 years of age, made Master of Requests. When Somerset fell from power in 1549 young Cecil, with other adherents of the Protector, was committed to the Tower. But he was soon released and was rapidly advanced by Northumberland. He became Secretary of State, was knighted and made a member of the Privy Council. Mary would have continued his employment in office had he not refused her offers on account of his adhesion to the Protestant faith. He mingled during her reign with men of all parties and his moderation and cautious conduct carried him[Pg 78] through that period without mishap. On Elizabeth's accession he was the first member sworn upon the Privy Council, and he continued during the remainder of his life her principal Minister of State. Sagacious, deliberate in thought and character, tolerant, a man of peace and compromise, he became the mainstay of the Queen's government and the most influential man in State affairs. Whilst he maintained a princely magnificence in his affairs, his private life was pure, gentle and generous. This was the man to whom the brilliant young nephew of his wife and the son of his old friend, Sir Nicholas Bacon, disclosed, some time during the summer of 1580, his scheme, of which there had been no experience, and entrusted his suit, which was rare and unaccustomed. The arguments in its favour at this interview may have followed the following outline:—

I need not remind you of my devotion to learning. You know that from my earliest boyhood I have followed a course of study which has embraced all subjects. I have made myself acquainted with all knowledge which the world possesses. To enable me to do this I mastered all languages in which books are written. During my recent visit to foreign lands, I have recognized how far my country falls behind others in language, and consequently in literature. I would draw your special attention to the remarkable advance which has been made in these matters in France during your lordship's lifetime. When I arrived there in 1576 I made myself acquainted with the principles of the movement which had been carried through by Du Bellay, Ronsard, and their confrères. They recognized that their native language was crude and lacking in gravity and art. First by obtaining a complete mastery of the Greek and Latin languages, as also of those of Italy and Spain, they prepared themselves for a study of the literatures of which those languages, with their[Pg 79] idioms and peculiarities, form the basis. Having obtained this mastery they reconstructed their native language and gave their country a medium by which her writers might express their thoughts and emotions. They have made it possible for their countrymen to rival the poets of ancient Greece and Rome. They and others of their countrymen have translated the literary treasures of those ancient nations into their own tongue, and thereby enabled those speaking their language, who are not skilled in classical languages, to enjoy and profit by the works of antiquity. Your lordship knows well the deficiencies of the language of our England, the absence of any literature worthy of the name. In these respects the condition of affairs is far behind that which prevailed in France even before the great movement which Ronsard and Du Bellay initiated. I do not speak of Italy, which possesses a language melodious, facile, and rich, and a literature which can never die.

I know my own powers. I possess every qualification which will enable me to do for my native tongue what the Pléiade have done for theirs. I ask to be permitted to give to my country this great heritage. Others may serve her in the law, others may serve her in affairs of state, but your Lordship knows full well that there are none who could serve her in this respect as could I. You are not unmindful of the poorness of my estate. This work will not only entail a large outlay of money but it necessitates command of the ablest wits of the nation. This is my suit: that her Majesty will graciously confer on me some office which will enable me to control such literary resources and the services of such men as may be necessary for the accomplishment of this work; further, that she may be pleased from time to time to make grants from the civil list to cover the cost of the work. I need not remind your Lordship what fame will ever attach to her Majesty[Pg 80] and how glorious will be the memory of her reign if this great project be effected in it. Your Lordship must realise this because you and her Ladyship, my aunt, are by your attainments qualified to appreciate its full value. My youth may be urged as an objection to my fitness for such a task, but your Lordship knows full well—none better—that my powers are not to be measured by my years. This I will say, I am no vain promiser, but I am assured that I can accomplish all that I contemplate. The Queen hath such confidence in the soundness of your judgment that she will listen to your advice. My prayer to you therefore is that it may please your Lordship both herein and elsewhere to be my patron and urge my suit, which, although rare and unaccustomed, may be granted if it receives your powerful support.

The suit was submitted to the Queen, but without result. Probably it was not urged with a determination to obtain its acceptance in spite of any objections which might be raised by the Queen. Five years after, Bacon, still a suppliant, wrote to Walsingham: "I think the objection to my years will wear away with the length of my suit." Cautious Lord Burghley would give full weight to the force of this objection if it were advanced by the Queen. He loved this boy, with his extraordinary abilities, but he had such novel and far-reaching ideas. He appeared to have no adequate reverence for his inferior superiors. On leaving Cambridge he had arrogantly condemned its cherished methods of imparting knowledge. Before power was placed in his hands the use he might make of it must be well weighed and considered. What effect might the advancement of Francis Bacon have on Robert Cecil's career? Granted that the contentions of the former were sound, and the object desirable, should not this work be carried out by the Universities? Never leap until you know where you are going to alight was[Pg 81] a proverb the soundness of which had been proved in Lord Burghley's experience. What might be the outcome if this rare and unaccustomed suit were granted? Better for the Queen, who, though slow to bestow favours, was always ready to encourage hopes, to follow her usual course. She might entertain the motion graciously and return a favourable answer and let it rest there. And so it did.

Then there was a happening which has remained unknown until now.

[Pg 82]

Chapter XI.

In the "Reliquiæ Bodleianæ," published in 1703, is a letter written without date by Thomas Bodley to Francis Bacon. This letter does not appear to have been known to Mallett, Montague, Dixon, Spedding, or any of Bacon's biographers. It had been lost sight of until the writer noticed it and reproduced it in Baconiana. This is the letter:—

My Dear Cousin,—According to your request in your letter (dated the 19th October at Orleans, I received here the 18th of December), I have sent you by your merchant £30 (the thirty is written thus 30 l) sterling for your present supply, and had sent you a greater sum, but that my extraordinary charge this year hath utterly unfurnished me. And now, cousin, though I will be no severe exactor of the account, either of your money or time, yet for the love I bear you, I am very desirous, both to satisfy myself, and your friends how you prosper in your travels, and how you find yourself bettered thereby, either in knowledge of God, or of the world; the rather, because the Days you have already spent abroad, are now both sufficient to give you Light, how to fix yourself and end with counsel, and accordingly to shape your course constantly unto it. Besides, it is a vulgar scandal unto the travellers, that few return more religious (narrow, editor) than they went forth; wherein both my hope and Request is to you, that your principal care be to hold your Foundation, and to make no other use of informing your self in the corruptions and superstitions of other nations, than only thereby to engage your own heart more firmly to the Truth. You live indeed in a country of two several professions, and you shall return a Novice, if you be not able to give an account of the Ordinances, strength, and progress of each, in Reputation, and Party, and how both are supported, ballanced and managed by[Pg 83] the state, as being the contrary humours, in the Temper of Predominancy whereof, the Health or Disease of that Body doth consist. These things you will observe, not only as an English-man, whom it may concern, to what interest his country may expect in the consciences of their Neighbours; but also, as a Christian, to consider both the beauties and blemishes, the hopes and dangers of the church in all places. Now for the world, I know it too well, to persuade you to dive into the practices thereof; rather stand upon your own guard, against all that attempt you there unto, or may practise upon you in your Conscience, Reputation, or your Purse. Resolve, no Man is wise or safe, but he that is honest: And let this Persuasion turn your studies and observations from the Complement and Impostures of the debased age, to more real grounds of wisdom, gathered out of the story of Times past, and out of the government of the present state. Your guide to this, is the knowledge of the country and the people among whom ye live; For the country though you cannot see all places, yet if, as you pass along, you enquire carefully, and further help yourself with Books that are written of the cosmography of those parts, you shall sufficiently gather the strength, Riches, Traffick, Havens, Shipping, commodities, vent, and the wants and disadvantages of places. Wherein also, for your good hereafter, and for your friends, it will befit to note their buildings, Furnitures, Entertainments; all their Husbandry, and ingenious inventions, in whatsoever concerneth either Pleasure or Profit.

For the people, your traffick among them, while you learn their language, will sufficiently instruct you in their Habilities, Dispositions, and Humours, if you a little enlarge the Privacy of your own Nature, to seek acquaintance with the best sort of strangers, and restrain your Affections and Participation, for your own countrymen of whatsoever condition.

In the story of France, you have a large and pleasant Field in three lines of their Kings, to observe their alliances and successions, their Conquests, their wars, especially with us; their Councils, their treaties; and all Rules and examples of experiences and Wisdom, which may be Lights and Remembrances to you hereafter, to Judge of all occurants both at home and abroad.

Lastly, for the Government, your end must not be like an Intelligencer, to spend all your time in fishing after the present News, Humours, Graces, or Disgraces of Court, which happily may change before you come home; but your better and more[Pg 84] constant ground will be, to know the Consanguinities, Alliances, and Estates of their Princes; Proportion between the Nobility and Magistracy; the Constitutions of their Courts of Justice; the state of the Laws, as well for the making as the execution thereof; How the Sovereignty of the King infuseth itself into all Acts and Ordinances; how many ways they lay Impositions and Taxations, and gather Revenues to the Crown.

What be the Liberties and Servitudes of all degrees; what Discipline and Preparations for wars; what Invention for increase of Traffick at home, for multiplying their commodities, encouraging Arts and Manufactures, or of worth in any kind. Also what establishment, to prevent the Necessities and Discontentment of People, To cut off suits at Law, and Duels, to suppress thieves and all Disorders.

To be short, because my purpose is not to bring all your Observations to Heads, but only by these few to let you know what manner of Return your Friends expect from you; let me, for all these and all the rest, give you this one Note, which I desire you to observe as the Counsels of a Friend, Not to spend your Spirits, and the precious time of your Travel, in a Captious Prejudice and censuring of all things, nor in an Infectious Collection of base Vices and Fashions of Men and Women, or general corruption of these times, which will be of use only Among Humorists, for Jests and Table-Talk: but rather strain your Wits and Industry soundly to instruct your-self in all things between Heaven and Earth which may tend to Virtue, Wisdom, and Honour, and which may make your life more profitable to your country, and yourself more comfortable to your friends, and acceptable to God. And to conclude, let all these Riches be treasured up, not only in your memory, where time may lessen your stock; but rather in good writings, and Books of Account, which will keept them safe for your use hereafter.

And if in this time of your liberal Traffick, you will give me any advertizement of your commodities in these kinds, I will make you as liberal a Return from my self and your Friends here, as I shall be able.

And so commending all your good Endeavours, to him that must either wither or prosper them, I very kindly bid you farewel.

Your's to be commanded,

Thomas Bodley.

Spedding prints this letter (Vol. II. p. 16) com[Pg 85]mencing with the words, "Yet for the love I bear," to the end, with the exception of the last sentence, as a letter written probably by Bacon for Essex to send to the Earl of Rutland. He identifies it as "the letter which the compiler of Stephens' Catalogue took for a letter addressed by Bacon to Buckingham," which he says it could not be. The original is at Lambeth (MSS. 936, fo. 218). The seal remains, but the part of the last sheet which contained the signature on one side, and the superscription on the other, has been torn off. The letter commences, "My good Lord," and ends, "Your Lordship's in all duty to serve you." It would appear, therefore, that someone had access to Bodley's letter to Bacon, and, approving its contents, used its contents a second time.

There are two palpable deductions to be drawn from this letter: (1) That Bacon was on a journey through several countries to obtain knowledge of their customs, laws, religion, military strength, shipping, and whatsoever concerneth pleasure or profit. There is a striking correspondence between Bodley's advice and the description of Bacon's travels found in the "Life" prefixed to "L'Histoire Naturelle." (2) That Bacon was being supported by Bodley and other of his friends, who desired him to keep a record of all that he observed and learnt, and to report from time to time as he progressed, and in return, said Bodley, "I will make you as liberal a return from myself and your friends here as I shall be able." This letter was written from England, and there is a paragraph in Bodley's "Life," written by himself, which makes it possible to fix the year:—

"My resolution fully taken I departed out of England anno 1576 and continued very neare foure yeares abroad, and that in sundry parts of Italy, France, and Germany. A good while after my return to wit, in the yeare 1585 I was employed by the Queen," etc.

[Pg 86]

If this letter was written between 1576 and 1579 it would appear strange that Bodley and others should be providing Bacon with money for his travels, and requiring reports from him, whilst his father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was alive and prosperous. No such difficulty, however, arises, for the letter, being sent from England, could not have been written between the date of Bacon's first departure for France in 1576 and his return on his father's death in 1579, for during the whole of that time Bodley was abroad. It is stated in it that Bacon wrote from Orleans a letter dated 19th October, the year not being given. This could not be in 1580, for Bacon wrote to Lord Burghley from Gray's Inn on the 18th October, 1580. Spedding commences the paragraph immediately following this letter by saying, "From this time we have no further news of Francis Bacon till the 5th of April, 1582," and although he does not reproduce the letter, he relies on a letter from Faunt to Anthony Bacon, to which that date is attributed in Birch's " Memorials," Vol. I. page 22. In it Faunt refers to having seen Anthony's mother and his brother Francis. Faunt left Paris for England on the 22nd March, 1582. This letter was written on the 15th of the following month, so no trace has been found of Francis being in England between 18th October, 1580, and 5th of April, 1582. Bodley's letter, must, therefore, have been written in December, 1581, when Bacon was abroad making a journey through several countries. From the foregoing facts it is impossible to form any other conclusion. Now for the first time this journey has been made known. There is a letter amongst the State papers in the Record Office, dated February, 1581, written by Anthony Bacon to Lord Burghley, enclosing a note of advice and instructions for his brother Francis. Anthony was an experienced traveller, and was then abroad. It reads as though he was sending advice and instructions to his[Pg 87] younger brother, who was about to start on travels through countries with which Anthony was familiar. If so, Francis would leave England early in March, 1581—that is, if he had not left before this letter was received by Burghley.

Having established beyond reasonable doubt the fact of this journey, a new and remarkable suggestion presents itself. Spedding, when dealing with the year 1582, prints "Notes on the State of Christendom,"[29] with the following remarks:—

"If that paper of notes concerning 'The State of Europe' which was printed as Bacon's in the supplement to Stephens' second collection in 1734, reprinted by Mallet in 1760, and has been placed at the beginning of his political writings in all editions since 1563, be really of his composition, this is the period of his life to which it belongs. I must confess, however, that I am not satisfied with the evidence or authority upon which it appears to have been ascribed to him."

Robert Stephens, who was Historiographer Royal in the reign of William and Mary, states that the Earl of Oxford placed in his hands some neglected manuscripts and loose papers to see whether any of the Lord Bacon's compositions lay concealed there and were fit for publication. He found some of them written, and others amended, with his lordship's own hand. He found certain of the treatises had been published by him, and that others, certainly genuine, which had not, were fit to be transcribed if not divulged. Spedding states that he has little doubt that this paper on the state of Europe was among these manuscripts and loose papers, for the editor states that the supplementary pieces (of which this was one) were added from originals found among Stephens' papers. The original is now among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum. Spedding thus describes it:[Pg 88]

"The Harleian MS. is a copy in an old hand, probably contemporary, but not Francis Bacon's. A few sentences have been inserted afterwards by the same hand, and two by another which is very like Anthony Bacon's; none in Francis's. The blanks have all been filled up, but no words have been corrected, though it is obvious that in some places they stand in need of correction.

"Certain allusions to events then passing (which will be pointed out in their place) prove that the original paper was written, or at least completed, in the summer of 1582, at which time Francis Bacon was studying law in Gray's Inn, while Anthony was travelling in France in search of political intelligence and was in close correspondence with Nicholas Faunt, a secretary of Sir Francis Walsingham's, who had spent the previous year in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the north of Italy, on the same errand; and was now living about the English Court, studying affairs at home, and collecting and arranging the observations which he had made abroad, 'having already recovered all his writings and books which he had left behind him in Italy and in Frankfort' (see Birch's 'Memoirs,' I. 24), and it is remembered that if this paper belonged to Anthony Bacon, it would naturally descend at his death to Francis and so remain among his manuscripts, where it is supposed to have been found.

"Thus it appears that the external evidence justifies no inference as to the authorship, and the only question is whether the style can be considered conclusive. To me it certainly is not. But as this is a point upon which the reader should be allowed to judge for himself, and as the paper is interesting in itself and historically valuable and has always passed for Bacon's, it is here printed from the original though (to distinguish it from his undoubted compositions) in a smaller type."

Spedding's difficulty in accepting this paper as from Bacon's pen really lay in the fact that from the internal evidence it is obvious that it was written by one who had himself travelled through, at any rate, some of the countries described. The results of personal observation are again and again apparent. According to Spedding, Bacon was in 1581-1582 studying law at Gray's Inn; according to Bodley he was on the Continent making observations for his future guidance. The reader can judge of the value of the external evidence. It is not con[Pg 89]clusive, but the draft being found amongst papers which were unquestionably Bacon's writings and being adopted as Bacon's and published as such by those who found it, the balance of probabilities is distinctly in favour of its being his. As to the internal evidence much may be said. It corresponds as closely as it is possible with Bodley's requirements as set forth in his letter of December. It is exactly "the manner of return" Bodley wrote to Francis "your friends expect from you." "And," he added, "if in this time of your liberal Traffick, you will give me any advertisement of your commodities in these kinds, I will make you as liberal a return from myself and your friends here as I shall be able."

The date agrees with that of Bacon's second visit to the Continent. In Spedding's Life and Letters it occupies twelve and a-half pages, of which five are occupied by descriptions of Italy, one of Austria, two of Germany (chiefly a recital of names and places), two of France, three-quarters of Spain, one and three-quarters of Portugal, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden. This may have been Bacon's itinerary in 1581-2.

Italy is treated with considerable detail and was undoubtedly described from personal observation, as were France and Spain. In a less degree the description of Austria, Poland and Denmark produces this impression; in a still smaller degree Portugal and Sweden, and it is quite absent from the description of Germany. Florence, Venice, Mantua, Genoa, Savoy, are dealt with in most detail. Rawley states that it was Bacon's intention to have stayed abroad some years longer when he was called home by the death of his father, to find himself left in straightened circumstances. Then followed his ineffectual suit, which he still persisted in. Bodley evidently was, if not the instigator, at any rate the paymaster for this second journey. Anthony's letter of February, 1581, points to[Pg 90] Burghley as a participator in the project. He would assist not only out of kindly feeling, but the journey would at any rate get this ambitious, determined young man out of the way for a time, and possibly the journey might get this unaccustomed suit out of his mind. Thus it came about.

From Faunt's letters, Spedding says we derive what little information we have with regard to Francis's proceedings from 1583 to 1584. "From them we gather little more than that he remained studying at Gray's Inn, occasionally visiting his mother at Gorhambury, or going with her to hear Travers at the Temple and occasionally appearing at the Court."

But the suit was not abandoned, for there is the letter of 25th August, 1585, to Walsingham, when Bacon writes: "I think the objection of my years will wear away with the length of my suit. The very stay doth in this respect concern me, because I am thereby hindered to take a course of practice which by the leave of God, if her Majesty like not of my suit, I must and will follow: not for any necessity of estate, but for my credit sake, which I know by living out of action will wear."

Again, the old, "rare and unaccustomed suit" of which the Queen could have had no experience! Either the persuasive powers of Burghley had failed or he had not exerted them. Probably the latter, because the troublesome, determined young man is now worrying Walsingham and Hatton to urge its acceptance with the Queen. The purport of the foregoing extract effectually precludes the possibility of this suit referring to his advancement at the bar. For five years it has been proceeding—he has been indulging in hopes which have been unfulfilled. Now he will wait no longer, but he will adopt a course which, if her Majesty like not his suit, by the leave of God he must and will follow, not for any necessity of making money but be[Pg 91]cause he feels impelled to it by a sense of responsibility which he must fulfil. Walsingham and Hatton do not appear to have helped the matter forward. There was little probability of them succeeding in influencing the Queen where Burghley had failed. There was still less probability of them attempting to influence her if Burghley objected. Had this suit referred to advancement in the law it would have been granted with the aid of Burghley's influence years before. Had it referred to some ordinary office of State, friends so powerful as Burghley, Walsingham and Hatton could and would have obtained anything within reason for this brilliant young son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, for there was no complication with Essex until after 1591. But this rare and unaccustomed suit of which there had been no experience was another matter.

Six more years pass, and although there is now no suit to the Queen there is the same idea prevailing in the letter to Burghley—a seeking for help to achieve some great scheme upon which Bacon's mind was so fixed "as it cannot be removed," "whether it be curiosity, vainglory or nature, or (if one take it favourably) philanthropia." Still he required the command of more wits than of a man's own, which is the thing he did greatly affect. Still his course was not to get. Still the determination to achieve the object without help, if help could not be obtained—to achieve it by becoming some sorry bookmaker or a pioneer in that mine of truth which Anaxagoras said lay so deep. This is emphasised. These are "thoughts rather than words, being set down without all art, disguising or reservation."

There are two significant sentences in this letter written to Burghley when Bacon was 31 years of age. He describes Burghley as "the second founder of my poor estate," and, further, he uses the expression "And if your Lordship will not carry me on." What can these allusions mean but that Burghley had been render[Pg 92]ing financial assistance to his nephew? If the theory here put forward as to the nature of the suit be correct, the object was one which would have Burghley's cordial support. That he had expressed approval of it must be deduced from the letter of the 16th of September, 1580. The object was one which, without doubt, would find still warmer support from Lady Mildred. But the suit was so unprecedented that it is not to be wondered at that Burghley did not try to force it through. The work was going forward all the time—slowly for lack of means and official recognition. Burghley, generous in his nature, lavish in private life, might, however, be expected to help a work which he would be glad to see carried to a successful conclusion.

Had he been less cautious and let young Francis have his head, what might not have happened! But there was always the fear of letting this huge intellectual power forge ahead without restraint. It was, however, working out unseen its scheme and that, too, with Burghley's help and that of others. The period from 1576 to 1623—only 47 years—sees the English language developed from a state of almost barbaric crudeness to the highest pitch which any language, classical or modern, has reached. There was but one workman living at that period who could have constructed that wonderful instrument and used it to produce such magnificent examples of its possibilities. It is as reasonable to take up a watch keeping perfect time and aver that the parts came together by accident, as to contend that the English language of the Authorised Version of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare were the result of a general up-springing of literary taste which was diffused amongst a few writers of very mediocre ability. The English Renaissance was conceived in France and born in England in 1579. It ran its course and in 1623 attained its maturity; but when Francis Bacon was no more—he who had performed that in our tongue which[Pg 93] may be preferred either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome—"things daily fall, wits grow downward, and eloquence grows backward: so that he may be named and stand as the mark and ἀχμή of our language."

[Pg 94]

Chapter XII.

It is difficult to leave this subject without some reference to the articles which have appeared in the press and magazines referring to the suggestion that there were left concealed literary remains of Bacon hitherto undiscovered.

In an article which recently appeared in a Shakespearean journal, a writer who evidently knows little about the Elizabethan period said: "But why should Bacon want to bury manuscripts, anyhow? Who does bury manuscripts? Besides, they had been printed and were, therefore, rubbish and waste paper merely." The manuscript of John Harrington's translation of Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso" may be seen in the British Museum. It is beautifully written on quarto paper. It was, apparently, the fair copy sent to the printer from which the type was to be set up. Be this as it may, it was undoubtedly a copy upon which Bacon marked off the verses which are to go on each page and set out the folio of each page and the printer's signature which was to appear at the bottom. It also contains instructions to the printer as to the type to be used. This manuscript was not considered "rubbish and waste paper merely."

Francis Bacon has again and again insisted upon the value of history. In the "Advancement of Learning" he points out to the King "the indignity and unworthiness of the history of England as it now is, in the main continuation thereof." No man appreciated as did Bacon the importance in the history of England[Pg 95] of the epoch in which he lived. That a truthful relation of the events of those times would be invaluable to posterity he knew full well. He of all men living at that time was best qualified to write such a history. He recognised that there were objections to a history being written, or, at any rate, published, wherein the actions of persons living were described, for he said "it must be confessed that such kind of relations, specially if they be published about the times of things done, seeing very often that they are written with passion or partiality, of all other narrations, are most suspected." It is hardly conceivable that Bacon should have failed to provide a faithful history of his own times for the benefit of posterity, or, at any rate, that he should have failed to preserve the materials for such a history. Neither the history nor such materials are known to be in existence. Supposing Bacon had prepared either the one or the other, what could he do with it? Hand it to Rawley with instructions for it to be printed? With a strong probability, if it were a faithful history, that it would never be published, but that it would be destroyed, he would never take such a risk. There would only be one course open to him. To conceal it in some place where it would not be likely to be disturbed, in which it might remain in safety, possibly for hundreds of years. And then leave a clue either in cypher or otherwise by which it might be recovered.

It is by no means outside the range of possibility that Bacon as early as 1588 had opened a receptacle for books and manuscripts which he desired should go down to posterity, and fearing their loss from any cause, he carefully concealed them, adding to the store from time to time. If he did so he left a problem to be solved, and arranged the place of concealment so that it could only be found by a solution of the problem.

The emblems on two title-pages of two books of the period are very significant. "Truth brought to Light[Pg 96] and discovered by Time" is a narrative history of the first fourteen years of King James' reign. One portion of the engraved title-page represents a spreading tree growing up out of a coffin, full fraught with various fruits (manuscripts and books) most fresh and fair to make succeeding times most rich and rare. In the Emblem (Fig. III.) now reproduced, which is found on the title-page of the first edition of "New Atlantis," 1627,[30] Truth personified by a naked woman is being revealed by Father Time, and the inscription round the device is "Tempore patet occulta veritas—in time the hidden truth shall be revealed."

Then, in further confirmation of this view, there is the statement of Rawley in his introduction to the "Manes Verulamiani." Speaking of the fame of his illustrious master he says, "Be this moreover enough, to have laid, as it were, the foundations, in the name of the present age. Every age will, methinks, adorn and amplify this structure, but to what age it may be vouchsafed to set the finishing hand—this is known only to God and the Fates."[Pg 97]

Fig. III. Fig. III.
From the Title Page of "New Atlantis," 1627.
Fig. IV. Fig. IV.
From the Title Page of Peacham's "Minerva Britannia," 1612.

[Pg 98]

Chapter XIII.

The half century from 1576 to 1625 stands by itself in the history of the literature of this country. During that period not only was the English language made, not only were there produced the finest examples of its capacities, which to-day exist, but the knowledge and wisdom possessed by the classical writers, the histories of the principal nations of the world, practically everything that was worth knowing in the literature which existed in other countries were, for the first time, made available in the English tongue. And what is still more remarkable, these translations were printed and published. These works embraced every art and subject which can be imagined. Further, during this period there were issued a large number of books crowded with information upon general subjects. The names on the title-pages of many of these works are unknown. It is astonishing how many men as to whom nothing can be learnt, appear about this time to have written one book and one book only.

These translations were published at a considerable cost. For such works, being printed in the English language, purchasers were practically confined to this country, and their number was very limited. The quantity of copies constituting an edition must have been small. It is impossible to believe that the sale of these books could realise the amount of their cost.

Definite information on this point is difficult to obtain, for little is known as to the prices at which these books were sold.[Pg 99]

It appears from the "Transcripts of the Stationers' Registers" that the maximum number of copies that went to make up an edition was in the interest of the workman fixed at 1,250 copies, so that if a larger number were required the type had to be re-set for each additional 1,250 copies. Double impressions of 2,500 were allowed of primers, catechisms, proclamations, statutes and almanacs. But the solid literature which came into the language at this period would not be required in such quantities. The printer was not usually the vendor of the books. The publisher and bookseller or stationer carried on in most cases a distinct business.

Pamphlets, sermons, plays, books of poems, formed the staple ware of the stationer. The style of the book out of which the stationer made his money may be gathered from the following extract from The Return from Parnassus, Act I, scene 3:—

Ingenioso. Danter thou art deceived, wit is dearer than thou takest it to bee. I tell thee this libel of Cambridge has much salt and pepper in the nose: it will sell sheerely underhand when all those bookes of exhortations and catechisms lie moulding on thy shopboard.
Danter. It's true, but good fayth, M. Ingenioso, I lost by your last booke; and you know there is many a one that pays me largely for the printing of their inventions, but for all this you shall have 40 shillings and an odde pottle of wine.
Ingenioso. 40 shillings? a fit reward for one of your reumatick poets, that beslavers all the paper he comes by, and furnishes the Chaundlers with wast papers to wrap candles in: ... it's the gallantest Child my invention was ever delivered off. The title is, a Chronicle of Cambridge Cuckolds; here a man may see, what day of the moneth such a man's commons were inclosed, and when throwne open, and when any entayled some odde crownes upon the heires of their bodies unlawfully begotten; speake quickly, ells I am gone.[Pg 100]
Danter. Oh this will sell gallantly. Ile have it whatsoever it cost, will you walk on, M. Ingenioso, weele sit over a cup of wine and agree on it.

The publication of such works as Hollingshed's "Chronicles," North's "Plutarch's Lives," Grimston's "History of France," and "The French Academy," could not have been produced with profit as the object. A large body of evidence may be brought forward to support this view, but space will only permit two examples to be here set forth.

In the dedication to Sir William Cecil, of Hollingshed's "Chronicles," 1587, the writer says:

Yet when the volume grew so great as they that were to defraie the charges for the impression were not willing to go through with the whole, they resolved first to publish the histories of England, Scotland, and Ireland with their descriptions.

John Dee spent most of the year 1576 in writing a series of volumes to be entitled "General and Rare Memorials pertayning to the perfect Art of Navigation." In 1577 the first volume was ready for the press. In June he had to borrow £40 from one friend, £20 from another, and £27 upon "the chayn of gold." In the following August John Day commenced printing it at his press in Aldersgate. The title was "The British Monarchy or Hexameron Brytannicum," and the edition consisted of 100 copies.

The second volume, "The British Complement," was ready in the following December. It was never published. Dee states in his Diary that the printing would cost many hundreds of pounds, as it contained tables and figures, and he must first have "a comfortable and sufficient opportunity or supply thereto." This he was unable to procure, so the book remained in manuscript.[31]

[Pg 101]Books of this class were never produced with the object of making profit. The proceeds of sale would not cover the cost of printing and publishing, without any provision for the remuneration of the translator or author. Why were they published, and how was the cost provided?

There was, however, another source of revenue open to the author of a book. Henry Peacham, in "The Truth of our Time," says:—

"But then you may say, the Dedication will bee worth a great matter, either in present reward of money, or preferment by your Patrones Letter, or other means. And for this purpose you prefixe a learned and as Panegyricall Epistle as can," etc.

It is beyond question that an author usually obtained a considerable contribution towards the cost of the production of a book from the person to whom the dedication was addressed. A number of books published during the period from 1576 to 1598 are dedicated to the Queen, to the Earl of Leicester, and to Lord Burghley. One can only offer a suggestion on this point which may or may not be correct. If Francis Bacon was concerned in the issue of these translations and other works, and Burghley was assisting him financially, it is probable that Burghley would procure grants from the Queen in respect of books which were dedicated to her, and would provide funds towards the cost of such books as were dedicated to himself. "The Arte of English Poesie" was written with the intention that it should be dedicated to the Queen, but there was a change in the plans, and Burghley's name was substituted. When Bacon, in 1591, is threatening to become "a sorry bookmaker," he describes Burghley as the second founder of his poor estate, and uses the expression, "If your Lordship will not carry me on," which can only mean that as to the matter which is the subject of the letter, Burghley had not merely been[Pg 102] assisting but carrying him. The evidence which exists is strong enough to warrant putting forward this theory as to the frequency of the names of the Queen and Burghley on the dedications.

The Earl of Leicester desired to have the reputation of being a patron of the arts, and was willing to pay for advertisement. He was the Chancellor of Oxford University, and evidently recognised the value of printing, for in 1585 he erected, at his own expense, a new printing press for the use of the University. If he paid at all for dedications he would pay liberally. But, of course, the Queen, Burghley, and Leicester were accessible to others besides Bacon, and the argument goes no further than that towards the production of certain books upon which their names appear the patrons provided part of the cost. The recognition of this fact, however, does not detract from the importance of the expressions used by Bacon in his letter to Burghley.

There is abundant testimony to the fact that it was the custom, during the Elizabethan age, for an author to suppress his own name, and on the title-page[32] substitute either the initials or name of some other person. The title-pages of this period are as unreliable as are the names or initials affixed to the dedications and epistles "To the Reader."

In 1624 was published "The Historie of the Life and Death of Mary Stuart Queene of Scotland." The dedication is signed Wil Stranguage. In 1636 it was reprinted, the same dedication being signed W. Vdall. There are numerous similar instances.

[Pg 103]

Chapter XIV.

The theory now put forward is based upon the assumption that Francis Bacon at a very early age adopted the conception that he would devote his life to the construction of an adequate language and literature for his country and that he would do this remaining invisible. If he was the author of "The Anatomie of the Mind," 1576, and of "Beautiful Blossoms," 1577, he must have adopted this plan of obscurity as early as his sixteenth year. It is possible, however, that it may be shown that at a date still earlier he had decided upon this course. This, however, is beyond doubt—that if Francis Bacon was associated in any way with the literature of England from 1570 to 1605, with the exception of the small volume of essays published in 1597, he most carefully concealed his connection with it.

"Therefore, set it down," he says in the essay Of Simulation and Dissimulation, "that a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral," and in Examples of the Antitheta,[33] "Dissimulation is a compendious wisdome." Here again is the same idea: "Beside in all wise humane Government, they that sit at the helme, doe more happily bring their purposes about, and insinuate more easily things fit for the people by pretexts, and oblique courses; than by ... downright dealing. Nay (which perchance may seem very strange) in things meerely naturall, you may sooner deceive nature than force her; so improper and selfeimpeaching are open direct proceedings; whereas on the other side, an[Pg 104] oblique and an insinuating way, gently glides along, and compasseth the intended effect."[34]

It is noteworthy that Bacon had a quaint conceit of the Divine Being which he was never tired of repeating. In the preface to the "Advancement of Learning" (1640), the following passage occurs:—

"For of the knowledges which contemplate the works of Nature, the holy Philosopher hath said expressly; that the glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the King is to find it out: as if the Divine Nature, according to the innocent and sweet play of children, which hide themselves to the end they may be found; took delight to hide his works, to the end they might be found out; and of his indulgence and goodness to mankind, had chosen the Soule of man to be his Play-fellow in this game."

Again on page 45 of the work itself he says:—

"For so he (King Solomon) saith expressly, The Glory of God is to conceale a thing, but the Glory of a King is to find it out. As if according to that innocent and affectionate play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out, and as if Kings could not obtain a greater Honour, then to be God's play-fellowes in that game, especially considering the great command they have of wits and means, whereby the investigation of all things may be perfected."

Another phase of the same idea is to be found on page 136.

In the author's preface to the "Novum Organum" the following passage occurs:—

"Whereas of the sciences which regard nature the Holy Philosopher declares that 'it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but it is the glory of the King to find it out.' Even as though the Divine Nature took pleasure in the innocent and kindly sport of children playing at hide and seek, and vouched-safe of his kindness and goodness to admit the human spirit for his play fellow in that game."

In almost identical words Bacon suggests the[Pg 105] same conception in "In Valerius Terminus" and in "Filum Labyrinthi."

In the Epistle Dedicatorie of "The French Academie" and elsewhere the author is insisting on the same idea that "He (God) cannot be seene of any mortal creature but is notwithstanding known by his works."

The close connection of Francis Bacon with the works (now seldom studied) of the Emblem writers is vouched for by J. Baudoin.

Oliver Lector in "Letters from the Dead to the Dead" has given examples of his association with the Dutch and French emblem writers. Three Englishmen appear to have indulged in this fascinating pursuit—George Whitney (1589), Henry Peacham (1612), and George Withers (1634). From the Baconian point of view Peacham's "Minerva Britannia" is by far the most interesting. The Emblem on page 34 is addressed "To the most judicious and learned, Sir Francis Bacon Knight." On the opposite leaf, paged thus, ·33,[37] the design represents a hand holding a spear as in the act of shaking it. But it is the frontispiece which bears specially on the present contention. The design is now reproduced (Fig. IV). A curtain is drawn to hide a figure, the hand only of which is protruding. It has just written the words "Mente Videbor"—"By the mind I shall be seen." Around the scroll are the words "Vivitur ingenio cetera mortis erunt"—one lives in one's genius, other things shall be (or pass away) in death.

That emblem represents the secret of Francis Bacon's life. At a very early age, probably before he was twelve, he had conceived the idea that he would imitate God, that he would hide his works in order that they might be found out—that he would be seen only by his mind and that his image should be concealed. There[Pg 106] was no haphazard work about it. It was not simply that having written poems or plays, and desiring not to be known as the author on publishing them, he put someone else's name on the title-page. There was first the conception of the idea, and then the carefully-elaborated scheme for carrying it out.

There are numerous allusions in Elizabethan and early Jacobean literature to someone who was active in literary matters but preferred to remain unrecognised. Amongst these there are some which directly refer to Francis Bacon, others which occur in books or under circumstances which suggest association with him. It is not contended that they amount to direct testimony, but the cumulative force of this evidence must not be ignored. In some of the emblem books of the period these allusions are frequent.

Then there is John Owen's epigram appearing in his "Epigrammatum," published in 1612.

AD. D.B.

        "Si bene qui latuit, bene vixit, tu bene vivis:
        Ingeniumque tuum grande latendo patet."
"Thou livest well if one well hid well lives,
And thy great genius in being concealed is revealed."

D. is elsewhere used by Owen as the initial of Dominus. The suggestion that Ad. D.B. represents Ad Dominum Baconum is therefore reasonable.

Thomas Powell published in 1630 the "Attourney's Academy." The book is dedicated "To True Nobility and Tryde learning beholden To no Mountaine for Eminence, nor supportment for Height, Francis, Lord Verulam and Viscount St. Albanes." Then follow these lines:—

"O Give me leave to pull the Curtaine by
That clouds thy Worth in such obscurity.
Good Seneca, stay but a while thy bleeding,
[Pg 107]T' accept what I received at thy Reading:
Here I present it in a solemne strayne,
And thus I pluckt the Curtayne backe again."

In the "Mirrour of State and Eloquence," published in 1656, the frontispiece is a very bad copy of Marshall's portrait of Bacon prefixed to the 1640 Gilbert Wat's "Advancement of Learning." Under it are these lines:—

"Grace, Honour, virtue, Learning, witt,
Are all within this Porture knitt
And left to time that it may tell,
What worth within this Peere did dwell."

The frontispiece previously referred to of "Truth brought to Light and discovered by Time, or a discourse and Historicall narration of the first XIIII. yeares of King James Reign," published in 1651, is full of cryptic meaning and in one section of it there is a representation of a coffin out of which is growing

"A spreading Tree
Full fraught with various Fruits most fresh and fair
To make succeeding Times most rich and rare."

The fruits are books and manuscripts. The volume contains speeches of Bacon and copies of official documents signed by him.

The books of the emblem writers are still more remarkable. "Jacobi Bornitii Emblemata Ethico Politica," 1659, contains at least a dozen plates in which Bacon is represented. A suggestive emblem is No. 1 of Cornelii Giselberti Plempii Amsterodarnum Monogrammon, bearing date 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death. It is now reproduced (Fig. V.). It will be observed that the initial letters of each word in the sentence—Obscænumque nimis crepuit Fortuna Batavis appellanda—yield F. Bacon. There are in other designs figures which are evidently intended to represent Bacon. Emblem XXXVI. shows the inside of a[Pg 108] printer's shop and two men at work in the foreground blacking and fixing the type. Behind is a workman setting type, and standing beside him, apparently directing, or at any rate observing him, is a man with the well-known Bacon hat on.

The contention may be stated thus:—Francis Bacon possessed, to quote Macaulay, "the most exquisitely constructed intellect that has ever been bestowed on any of the children of men." Hallam described him as "the wisest, greatest of mankind," and affirmed that he might be compared to Aristotle, Thucydides, Tacitus, Philippe de Comines, Machiavelli, Davila, Hume, "all of these together," and confirming this view Addison said that "he possessed at once all those extraordinary talents which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity." At twelve years of age in industry he surpassed the capacity, and, in his mind, the range of his contemporaries, and had acquired a thorough command of the classical and modern languages. "He, after he had survaied all the Records of Antiquity, after the volumes of men, betook himself to the volume of the world and conquered whatever books possest." Having, whilst still a youth, taken all knowledge to be his province, he had read, marked, and absorbed the contents of nearly every book that had been printed. How that boy read! Points of importance he underlined and noted in the margin. Every subject he mastered—mathematics, geometry, music, poetry, painting, astronomy, astrology, classical drama and poetry, philosophy, history, theology, architecture.

Then—or perhaps before—came this marvellous conception, "Like God I will be seen by my works, although my image shall never be visible—Mente videbor. By the mind I shall be seen." So equipped, and with such a scheme, he commenced and successfully carried through that colossal enterprise in which he sought the good of all men, though in a despised[Pg 109] weed. "This," he said, "whether it be curiosity or vainglory, or (if one takes it favourably) philanthropia, is so fixed in my mind as it cannot be removed."

Translations of the classics, of histories, and other works were made. In those he no doubt had assistance by the commandment of more wits than his own, which is a thing he greatly affected. Books came from his pen—poetry and prose—at a rate which, when the truth is revealed, will literally "stagger humanity." Books were written by others under his direction. He saw them through the press, and he did more. He had his own wood blocks of devices, some, at any rate, of which were his own design, and every book produced under his direction, whether written by him or not, was marked by the use of one or more of these wood blocks. The favourite device was the light A and the dark A. Probably the first book published in England which was marked with this device was De Rep. Anglorum Instauranda libri decem, Authore Thoma Chalonero Equite, Anglo. This was printed by Thomas Vautrollerius,[36] and bears date 1579.

Vautrollier, and afterwards Richard Field, printed many of the books in the issue of which Bacon was concerned from 1579 onwards. Henry Bynneman, and afterwards his assignees Ralph Newbery and Henry Denham and George Bishop, who was associated with Denham, were also printing books issued under his[Pg 110] auspices, and later Adam Islip, George Eld and James Haviland came in for a liberal share of his patronage.

The cost of printing and publishing must have been very great. If the facts ever come to light it will probably be found that Burghley was Bacon's mainstay for financial support. It will also be found that Lady Anne Bacon and Anthony Bacon were liberal contributors to the funds, and that the cause of Francis Bacon's monetary difficulties and consequent debts was the heavy obligation which he personally undertook in connection with the production of the Elizabethan literature.

In the Dedications, Prefaces, and Epistles "To the Reader" also Francis Bacon's mind may be recognised. When Addison wrote of Bacon, "One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination," his words might have been inspired by these prefixes to the literature of this period. When once the student has made himself thoroughly acquainted with Bacon's style of writing prefaces he can never fail to recognise it, especially if he reads the passages aloud. The Epistle Dedicatorie to the 1625 edition of Barclay's "Argenis," signed Kingesmill Long, is one of the finest examples of Baconian English extant. Who but the writer of the Shakespeare plays could have written that specimen of musical language? To hear it read aloud gives all the enjoyment of listening to a fine composition of music. It is the same with the Shakespeare plays; only when they are read aloud can the richness and charm of the language they contain be appreciated.

Bacon's work can never be understood by anyone who has not realised the marvellous character of the mind of the boy, his phenomenal industry, and the fact that "he could imagine like a poet and execute like a clerk of the works." It has been suggested that he had a secret Society, by the agency of which he carried through his[Pg 111] works, but it is difficult to find any evidence that such a Society existed. It may be that he had helpers without there having been anything of the nature of a Society.

From 1575 to 1605 (thirty years) with the exception of the trifles published as Essays in 1597, there are no acknowledged fruits of his work to which his name is attached. Even the two books of the "Advancement of Learning," published in 1605, would have made little demands on his time. Edmund Burke said: "Who is there that hearing the name of Bacon does not instantly recognise everything of genius the most profound, of literature the most extensive, of discovery the most penetrating, of observation of human life the most distinguished and refined." For such a man to write "The two books" would be no hard or lengthy task.

The wonder is that Francis Bacon should have attached his name to the 1597 edition of the essays. He had written and published under other names tomes of essays of at least equal merit. In Aphorism 128 of the "Novum Organum" Bacon says, "But how sincere I am in my profession of affection and goodwill towards the received sciences my published writings, especially the books on the Advancement of Learning, sufficiently shew." What are the published writings referred to? The only works which bore his name were the incomplete volume of the Essays and the "Wisdom of the Ancients," to neither of which the words quoted are applicable.

Anthony Bacon, writing to Lady Anne in April, 1593, referring to her "motherly offer" to help Francis out of debt by being content to bestow the whole interest in an estate in Essex, called Markes, said "beseeching you to believe that being so near and dear unto me as he is, it cannot but be a grief unto me to see a mind that hath given so sufficient proof of itself in having brought forth many good thoughts for the general to be[Pg 112] overburdened and cumbered with a care of clearing his particular estate."

In 1593 nothing had been published under Bacon's name, and there is not any production of his known which would justify Anthony's remark. What was his motive in selecting this insignificant little volume of essays whereby to proclaim himself a writer? One can understand his object in addressing James in The Two Books of the Advancement of Learning. He obtained in 1606, as Peacham has it, "preferment by his Patrone's letter" by being appointed Solicitor-General.

During all this period—1575 to 1605—"the most exquisitely constructed mind that has ever been bestowed on any of the children of men" appears to have been dormant. Take the first three volumes of Spedding's "Life and Letters," and carefully note all that is recorded as the product of that mind during the years when it must have been at the zenith of its power and activity. All the letters and tracts accredited to Bacon in them which have come down to us would not account for six months—not for three months—of its occupation.

The explanation that he was building up his great system of inductive philosophy is quite inadequate. Rawley speaks of the "Novum Organum" as having been in hand for twelve years. This would give 1608 as the year when it was commenced. The "Cogitata et Visa," of which it was an amplification, was probably written in 1606 or 1607, for on the 17th February, 1607-8, Bodley writes acknowledging the receipt of it and commenting on it.

Rawley says that it was during the last five years of Bacon's life that he composed the greatest part of his books and writings both in English and Latin, and supplies a list which comprises all his acknowledged published works except the "Novum Organum" and the Essays.

In "The Statesmen and Favourites of England[Pg 113] since the Reformation," it is stated that the universal knowledge and comprehension of things rendered Francis Bacon the observation of great and wise men, and afterward the wonder of all. Yet it is remarkable how few are the references to him amongst his contemporaries. Practically the only one that would enable a reader to gain any knowledge of his personality is Francis Osborn, who, in letters to his son, published in 1658, describes him as he was in the last few years of his life. No one has left data which enables a clear impression to be formed of Francis Bacon as he was up to his fortieth year. The omission may be described as a conspiracy of silence. How exactly the circumstances appear to fit in with the first line of John Owen's epigram to Dominus B., published in 1612!—"Thou livest well if one well hid well lives"; and if the suggestion now put forward be correct that Bacon deliberately resolved that his image and personality should never be seen, but only the fruits of his mind—the issues of his brain, to use Rawley's expression—how apt is the second line of the epigram: "And thy great genius in being concealed, is revealed."

[Pg 114]

Chapter XV.

There was published in 1732 "The Life of the Great Statesman William Cecil, Lord Burghley." The preface signed by Arthur Collins states:—

The work I have for several years engaged in, of treating of those families that have been Barons of this Kingdom, necessarily induced me to apply to our Nobility for such helps, as might illustrate the memory of their ancestors. And several Noblemen having favour'd me with the perusal of their family evidences, and being recommended to the Right Honourable the present Earl of Exeter, his Lordship out of just regard to the memory of his great Ancestor, was pleased to order the manuscript Life of the Lord Burghley to be communicated to me.

Which being very old and decayed and only legible to such who are versed in ancient writings it was with great satisfaction that I copied it literatim. And that it may not be lost to the world, I now offer it to the view of the publick. It fully appears to be wrote in the reign of Queen Elizabeth soon after his Lordship's death, by one who was intimate with him, and an eye witness of his actions for the last twenty-five years. It needs no comment to set it off; that truth and sincerity which shines through the whole, will, I don't doubt have the same weight with the Readers as it had with me and that they will be of opinion it's too valuable to be buried in oblivion.

This "Life of Lord Burghley" is referred to by Nares and other of his biographers as having been written by "a domestic." It contains about 16,000 words and is the most authentic account extant of the great statesman's life. The narrative is full, but the observations on the character and habits of Burghley are by far the most important feature. The method of treatment of the subject is after Bacon's style; the Life abounds with phrases and with tricks of diction, which enable it[Pg 115] to be identified as his. The concluding sentences could only have been written with Bacon's pen:—

And so leaving his soule with God, his fame to the world, and the truth to all charitable mynds, I leave the sensure to all judicious Christians, who truly practising what they professe, will better approve, and more indifferentlie interpret it, than envie or malice can disprove it. The best sort will ever doe right, the worst can but imagine mischief and doe wrong; yet this is a comfort, the more his virtues are troden downe, the more will theire brightnes appeare. Virtus vulnerata virescit.

In 1592 the "Responsio ad edictum Reginæ Angliæ" of the Jesuit Parsons had appeared, attacking the Queen and her advisers (especially Burghley), to whom were attributed all the evils of England and the disturbances of Christendom. The reply to this was entrusted to Francis Bacon, who responded with a pamphlet entitled "Certain observations upon a libel published this present year, 1592." It was first printed by Dr. Rawley in the "Resuscitatio" in 1657. At the time it was written it was circulated largely in manuscript, for at least eight copies, somewhat varying from each other, have been preserved.[37] It is quite possible that it was printed at the time, but that no copy has survived. Throughout the whole work there are continual references to Burghley. Chapter VI. is entirely devoted to his defence and is headed "Certain true general notes upon the actions of the Lord Burghley." Either "The Life" and the "Observations on a Libel" are by the same writer or the author of the former borrowed the latter very freely.

It is to be regretted that the original manuscript of the "Life" cannot now be found. In 1732 it was at Burghley House. Application has been made to the[Pg 116] present Marquis of Exeter for permission to inspect it, but his Lordship's librarian has no knowledge of its existence. If it could be examined it is probable that if the text was not in Bacon's handwriting some notes or alterations might be recognised as his. The writer says he was an eye witness of Burghley's life and actions twenty-five years together—that would be from 1573 to 1598, which would well accord with the present contention. If Bacon was the author it throws considerable light on his relations with Burghley and establishes the fact that they were of the most cordial and affectionate character. It is reported that Bacon said that in the time of the Burghleys—father and son—clever or able men were repressed, and mainly upon this has been based the impression that Burghley opposed Francis Bacon's progress.

Burghley's biographer refers to this report. He writes: "He was careful and desirous to furder and advaunce men of quality and desart to be Councellors and officers to her Majesty wherein he placed manie and laboured to bring in more ... yet would envy with her slaunders report he hindered men from rising; but howe true it is wise men maie judge, for it was the Queene to take whom she pleased and not in a subject to preferree whom he listed."

It will eventually be proved that such a report conveys an incorrect view. In the letter of 1591,[38] addressed to Burghley, Bacon says:—"Besides I do not find in myself so much self-love, but that the greater parts of my thoughts are to deserve well (if I were able) of my friends and namely of your Lordship; who being the Atlas of this Commonwealth, the honour of my house, and the second founder of my poor estate, I am tied by all duties, both of a good patriot, and of an unworthy kinsman, and of an obliged servant, to employ whatsoever I am to do your service," and later in the letter he[Pg 117] employs the phrase, "And if your Lordship will not carry me on," and then threatens to sell the inheritance that he has, purchase some quick revenue that may be executed by another, and become some sorry bookmaker or a pioneer in that mine of truth which Anaxagoras said lay so deep.

Again, in a letter to Burghley, dated 31st March, 1594, he says:—"Lastly, that howsoever this matter may go, yet I may enjoy your lordship's good favour and help as I have done in regard to my private estate, which as I have not altogether neglected so I have but negligently attended and which hath been bettered only by yourself (the Queen except) and not by any other in matter of importance." Further on he says: "Thus again desiring the continuance of your Lordship's goodness as I have hitherto found it on my part sought also to deserve, I commend," etc.

It is very easy, with little information as to Bacon's actions and little knowledge of the period, to form a definite opinion as to the relations of Bacon and Burghley. The more information as to the one and knowledge of the other one gets, the more difficult does it become to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. Here was the son of Elizabeth's great Lord Keeper, the nephew of her trusted minister, himself from his boyhood a persona grata with the Queen, of brilliant parts and great wisdom—if he had been a mere place-hunter his desires could have been satisfied over and over again. There was some condition of circumstance, of which nothing has hitherto been known, which prevented him from obtaining the object of his desires. That he had a definite object, and had mapped out a course by which he hoped to achieve it, is evident from his letters[39] already quoted. It is equally clear that the course he sought to pursue entailed his abandoning the law as a profession. Either he would only have such place as[Pg 118] he desired, and on his own terms, or he was known to be following some course which, although not distasteful to his close friends, caused him to be held in suspicion, if not distrust, by the courtiers with whom Elizabeth was surrounded. Every additional fact that comes to light seems to point to the truth being that through his life Burghley was Francis Bacon's staunch friend and supporter. Upon Sir Nicholas Bacon's death Burghley appears with Bodley to have been maintaining Bacon in his travels abroad. Upon his return to England Burghley gave him financial support in his great project. In 1591 there was a crisis—someone had been spending money for the past twelve years freely in making English literature. That cannot be gainsaid. Burghley appears to have pulled up and remonstrated; hence Bacon's letter containing the threat before referred to. It is significant that it was immediately after this letter was written that Bacon's association with Essex commenced. Bacon would take him and Southampton into his confidence and seek their help. Essex was just the man to respond with enthusiasm. Francis introduced Anthony to him. The services of the brothers were placed at his disposal, and he undertook to manage the Queen. The office of Attorney-General for Francis would meet the case. "It was dangerous in a factious age to have my Lord Essex his favour," says the biographer before quoted.[40]

That Burghley was favourable to his appointment as Attorney-General two letters written by Francis to Lord Keeper Puckering in 1594 testify. In the first Bacon writes: "I pray your Lordship to call to remembrance my Lord Treasurer's kind course, who affirmed directly all the rest to be unfit. And because vis unita fortior I beg your Lordship to take a time with the Queen when my Lord Treasurer is present."

In a second letter he writes: "I thought good to[Pg 119] remember your good Lordship and to request you as I touched in my last that if my Lord Treasurer be absent your Lordship would forbear to fall into my business with her Majesty lest it mought receive some foil before the time when it should be resolutely dealt in."

Only Burghley was found to support Essex's advocacy, and on the whole this was not to be wondered at. Such an appointment, to say the least, would have been an experiment. Possibly Essex was the stumbling-block, but it may be that the real objection on the part of the Queen and her advisers was that Bacon was known to be so amorous of certain learned arts, so much given over to invention, that the consensus of opinion was that he was thereby unfitted to hold an important office of the State. Or it may be that he was discredited by his suspected or known association with certain printers. There was some reason of which no explanation can now be traced.

It has been suggested that in 1591 there was a crisis in Bacon's life. That is evident from the letter to Burghley written in that year. John Harrington's translation of "Orlando Furioso" was published about this time. The manuscript, which is in a perfect condition, is in the British Museum, and has been marked in Bacon's handwriting throughout. The pagination and the printer's signature are placed at the commencement of the stanzas to be printed on each page, and there are instructions to the printer at the end which are not in his hand.

There are good grounds for attributing the notes at the end of each chapter to Bacon.

It is very improbable that Sir John Harrington had the classical knowledge which the writer of these notes must have possessed. There is a letter written by him to Sir Amias Pawlett, dated January, 1606-7. He is relating an interview with King James, and says: "Then he (the king) enquyrede muche of lernynge and[Pg 120] showede me his owne in such sorte as made me remember my examiner at Cambridge aforetyme. He soughte muche to knowe my advances in philosophie and utterede profounde sentences of Aristotle and such lyke wryters, whiche I had never reade and which some are bolde enoughe to saye others do not understand." It would be difficult to mention any classical author with whose works the writer of these notes was not familiar, or to believe that "Epigrams both Pleasant and Serious" (1615) came from the pen of that writer.

At the end of the thirty-seventh chapter the following note occurs: "It was because she (Porcia) wrote some verses in manner of an Epitaph upon her husband after his decease: In which kind, that honourable Ladie (widow of the late Lord John Russell) deserveth no lesse commendation, having done as much for two husbands. And whereas my author maketh so great bost only of one learned woman in Italie, I may compare (besides one above all comparison that I have noted in the twentith booke) three or foure in England out of one family, and namely the sisters of that learned Ladie, as witness that verse written by the meanest of the foure to the Ladie Burlie which I doubt if Cambridge or Oxford can mend."

The four daughters of Sir Anthonie Cooke—
    Ladie Burlie,
    Ladie Russell,
    Lady Bacon,
    Mistress Killygrew.
Si mihi quem cupio cures Mildreda remitti
Tu bona, tu melior, tu mihi sola soror;
Sin mali cessando retines, & trans mare mittis,
Tu mala, tu peior, tu mihi nulla soror.
Is si Cornubiam, tibi pax sit & omnia læta,
Sin mare Ceciliæ nuncio bella. Vale.[41]
She wrote to Lady Burlie
to send a kinsman of
hers into Cornwall,
where she dwelt, and to
stop his going beyond sea.

[Pg 121]

The writer of the Latin verse was not Ladie Russell, and it was written to Ladie Burlie, so she must either be Ladie Bacon or Mistress Killigrew. It is not an improbable theory that Ladie Bacon was writing to her sister Mildred, who had, through her husband, power either to send Francis to Cornwall or permit him to be sent away over the seas.

There is a copy of Machiavelli's "History of Florence," 1595, with Bacon's notes in the margins.[42]

At the end is a memorandum giving the dates when the book was read "in Cornwall at," and then follow two words, the second of which is "Lake," but the first is undecipherable.

Is it possible that Lady Anne Bacon had a house in Cornwall which Francis Bacon, inheriting after her death, was in the habit of visiting for retirement? But this is conjecture.

The following point is of interest. In the "Life of Burghley" (1598) it is said that: "Bookes weare so pleasing to him, as when he gott libertie to goe unto his house to take ayre, if he found a book worth the openinge, he wold rather loose his ridinge than his readinge; and yet ryding in his garden walks upon his litle moile was his greatest Disport: But so soone as he [Pg 122]came in he fell to his readinge againe or els to dispatchinge busines."

Rawley, in his "Life of Bacon" (1657), attributes an exactly similar habit to the philosopher, and almost in identical phrase: "For he would ever interlace a moderate relaxation of his mind with his studies as walking, or taking the air abroad in his coach or some other befitting recreation; and yet he would lose no time, inasmuch as upon his first and immediate return he would fall to reading again, and so suffer no moment of time to slip from him without some present improvement."

It is difficult to approach any phase of the life of Bacon without being confronted with what appears to be evidence of careful preparation to obscure the facts. This observation does not result from imagination or prejudice; Bacon's movements are always enshrouded in mystery. Investigation and research will, however, eventually establish as a fact that there was a closer connection between Burghley and Bacon than historians have recognised, and that they had a strong attachment for each other.

[Pg 123]

Chapter XVI.

Sir Sydney Lee has written[43]:—"As a specimen of typography, the First Folio is not to be commended. There are a great many contemporary folios of larger bulk far more neatly and correctly printed. It looks as though Jaggard's printing office was undermanned. The misprints are numerous, and are especially conspicuous in the pagination." In the same year was published "The Theater of Honour and Knighthood," translated from the French of Andreu Favine. William Jaggard was the printer. It is a large folio volume containing about 1,200 pages, and is referred to as being issued by Jaggard as an example of the printer's art to maintain his reputation, which had suffered from the apparently careless manner in which the Shakespeare Folio was turned out. Both books contain the same emblematic head-pieces and tail-pieces. There are, however, some considerable mispaginations in "The Theater of Honour." Mispaginations were not infrequent in Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, but it is quite possible that they were not unintentional. The most glaring instance is to be found in the first Edition of "The Two Bookes of Francis Bacon—Of the Proficience and Advancement in Learning, Divine and Humane," published by Henrie Tomes (1605). Each leaf (not page) is numbered. The 45 leaves of the first book are correctly numbered. In the second book there is no number on leaf 6. Leaf 9 is numbered 6, the right figure being printed upside down; 30 is numbered 33; from[Pg 124] 31 to 70 the numbering is correct, and then the leaves are numbered as follows:—70, 70, 71, 70, 72, 74, 73, 74, 75, 69, 77, 78, 79, 80, 77, 74, 74, 69, 69, 82, 87, 79, 89, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 99, 97, 99, 94, 100, 99, 102, 103, 103, 93, 106, and on correctly until the last page, 118, except that 115 is numbered 105.

It is impossible to attribute this mispagination to the printer's carelessness. This was the first work published bearing Bacon's name, excepting the trifle of essays published in 1597. There does not appear to have been any hurry in its production. It is quite a small volume, and yet the foregoing remarkable mispaginations occur. There must be some purpose in this which has yet to be found out.

The 1623 Shakespeare Folio will be found to be one of the most perfect examples of the printer's art extant, because no work has been produced under such difficult conditions for the printer. There are few mistakes in pagination or spelling which are not intentional. The work is a masterpiece of enigma and cryptic design. The lines "To the Reader" opposite to the title-page are a table or code of numbers. The same lines and the lettering on the title-page form another table. The ingenuity displayed in this manipulation of words and numbers to create analogies is almost beyond the comprehension of the human mind. The mispaginations are all intentional and have cryptic meanings. The acme of wit is the substitution of 993 for 399 on the last page of the tragedies; a hundred has been omitted in "Hamlet," 257 following 156, and other errors made in order to obtain this result on the last page. The manner in which the printer's signatures have been arranged with the pages is equally wonderful. The name William Shakespeare must have been created without reference to him of Stratford, who possibly bore or had assigned to him a somewhat similar name. A great superstructure is built up on the exact[Pg 125] spelling of the words William Shakespeare. The year 1623 was specially selected for the issue of the complete volume of the plays, because of the marvellous relations which the numbers composing it bear to the names William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon, to the year 1560, in which the birth of Bacon is registered, and to 1564 and 1616, the reputed dates of the birth and death of the Stratford man. Nor do the wonders end here. The use of numerical analogies has been carried into the construction of the English language. All this, and much more, will be made manifest when the work of Mr. E. V. Tanner comes to be investigated and appreciated. He has made the greatest literary discovery of all time. The wonder is how it has been possible for anyone to pierce the veil and reveal the secrets of the volume. The value of the Shakespeare Folio 1623 will be enhanced. It will stand alone as the greatest monument of the achievements of the human intellect.

To any literary critic who should honour this book by noticing it, it is probable the foregoing statements may seem extravagant and untrustworthy. To such the request is now made that before making any comment he will inspect the proof of the foregoing statements which are in the writer's possession. The dramas of Shakespeare are, by universal consent, placed at the head of all literature. The invitation is now put forth in explicit terms, and facilities are offered for the investigation of the truth, or otherwise, of every statement made in the foregoing paragraph.

[Pg 126]

Chapter XVII.

Is it not strange that there is no mention of any connection of Francis Bacon with this work? There was a conference held at Hampton Court Palace before King James on January, 1603, between the Episcopalians and Puritans. John Rainoldes urged the necessity of providing for his people a uniform translation of the Bible. Rainoldes was the leader of the Puritans, a person of prodigious reading and doctrine, and the very treasury of erudition. Dr. Hall, Bishop of Norwich, reports that "he alone was a well furnished library, full of all faculties, of all studies, of all learning—the memory and reading of that man were near a miracle." The King approved the suggestion and commissioned for that purpose fifty-four of the most learned men in the universities and other places. There was a "careful selection of revisers made by some unknown but very competent authority." The translators were divided into six bands of nine each, and the work of translation was apportioned out to them. A set of rules was drawn up for their guidance, which has happily come down to modern times—almost the only record that remains of this great undertaking. These concise rules have a homogeneity, breadth and vigour which point to Bacon as their author. Each reviser was to translate the whole of the original allocated to his company; then they were to compare their translations together, and, as soon as a company had completed its part, it was to communicate the result to the other companies, that nothing might pass[Pg 127] without the general consent. If any company, upon the review of the translation so sent, differed on any point, they were to note their objection and state their reasons for disagreement. If the differences could not be adjusted, there was a committee of arbitration which met weekly, consisting of a representative from each company, to whom the matter in dispute was referred. If any point was found to be very obscure, letters were to be addressed, by authority, to learned persons throughout the land inviting their judgment. The work was commenced in 1604. Rainoldes belonged to the company to whom Isaiah and the prophets were assigned. He died in 1607, before the work was completed. During his illness his colleagues met in his bedroom so that they might retain the benefit of his learning. Only forty-seven out of the fifty-four names are known. When the companies had completed their work, one complete copy was made at Oxford, one at Cambridge, and one at Westminster. Those were sent to London. Then two members were selected from each company to form a committee to review and polish the whole. The members met daily at Stationers' Hall and occupied nine months in their task. Then a final revision was entrusted to Dr. Thomas Bilson and Dr. Miles Smith, and in 1609 their labours were completed and the result was handed to the King. Many of the translators have left specimens of their writing in theological treatises, sermons, and other works. A careful perusal of all these available justifies the assertion that amongst the whole body there was not one man who was so great a literary stylist as to be able to write certain portions of the Authorised Version, which stamp it as one of the two greatest examples of the English language. Naturally the interest centres on Dr. Thomas Bilson and Dr. Miles Smith, to whom the final revision was entrusted. There are some nine or ten theological works by the former and two sermons by[Pg 128] the latter. Unless the theory of a special divine inspiration for the occasion be admitted, it is clear that neither Bilson nor Miles Smith could have given the final touches to the Bible. And now a curious statement has come down to us. In 1609 the translators handed their work to the King, and in 1610 he returned it to them completed. James was incapable of writing anything to which the term beautiful could be applied. What had happened to the translators' work whilst it was left in his hands?

James had an officer of state at that time of whom a contemporary biographer wrote that "he had the contrivance of all King James his Designs, until the match with Spain." It will eventually be proved that the whole scheme of the Authorised Version of the Bible was Francis Bacon's. He was an ardent student not only of the Bible, but of the early manuscripts. St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and writers of theological works, were studied by him with industry. He has left his annotations in many copies of the Bible and in scores of theological works. The translation must have been a work in which he took the deepest interest and which he would follow from stage to stage. When the last stage came there was only one writer of the period who was capable of turning the phrases with that matchless style which is the great charm of the Shakespeare plays. Whoever that stylist was, it was to him that James handed over the manuscripts which he received from the translators. That man then made havoc of much of the translation, but he produced a result which, on its literary merits, is without an equal.

Thirty years ago another revision took place, but, notwithstanding the advantages which the revisers of 1880 had over their predecessors of 1611, their version has failed to displace the older version, which is too precious to the hearts of the people for them to abandon it.[Pg 129]

Although not one of the translators has left any literary work which would justify the belief that he was capable of writing the more beautiful portions of the Bible, fortunately Bacon has left an example which would rather add lustre to than decrease the high standard of the Bible if it were incorporated in it. As to the truth of this statement the reader must judge from the following prayer, which was written after his fall, and which was described by Addison as resembling the devotion of an angel rather than a man:—

Remember, O Lord, how Thy servant hath walked before Thee; remember what I have first sought, and what been principal in mine intentions. I have loved Thy assemblies; I have mourned for the divisions of Thy Church; I have delighted in the brightness of Thy sanctuary.

This vine, which Thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto Thee that it might have the first and the latter rain, and that it might stretch her branches to the seas and to the floods.

The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes. I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart. I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all men.

If any have been mine enemies, I thought not of them, neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness.

Thy creatures have been my books, but Thy scriptures much more. I have sought Thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found Thee in Thy temples.

Thousand have been my sins and ten thousand my transgressions, but Thy sanctifications have remained with me, and my heart, through Thy grace, hath been an unquenched coal upon Thine altar.

O Lord, my strength, I have since my youth met with Thee in all my ways, by Thy fatherly compassions, by Thy comfortable chastisements, and by Thy most visible provi[Pg 130]dence. As Thy favours have increased upon me, so have Thy corrections, so that Thou hast been ever near me, O Lord; and ever, as Thy worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from Thee have pierced me, and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before Thee.

And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, Thy hand is heavy upon me, and hath humbled me according to Thy former lovingkindness, keeping me still in Thy fatherly school, not as a bastard but as a child. Just are Thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to Thy mercies; for what are the sands of the sea to the sea? Earth, heavens, and all these are nothing to Thy mercies.

Besides my innumerable sins, I confess before Thee that I am debtor to Thee for the gracious talent of Thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put into a napkin, nor put it (as I ought) to exchangers, where it might have made most profit, but misspent it in things for which I was least fit so that I may truly say my soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage.

Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for my Saviour's sake, and receive me into Thy bosom or guide me in Thy ways.

There is another feature about the first editions of the Authorised Version which arrests attention. In 1611 the first folio edition was published. The design with archers, dogs and rabbits which is to be found over the address "To the Christian Reader" which introduces the genealogies is also to be found in the folio edition of Shakespeare over the dedication to the most noble and Incomparable paire of Brethren, over the Catalogue and elsewhere. Except that the mark of query which is on the head of the right hand pillar in the design in the Bible is missing in the Shakespeare folio, and the arrow which the archer on the right hand side is shooting contains a message in[Pg 131] the design used in the Bible and is without one in the Shakespeare folio.

In the 1612 quarto edition of the Authorised Version on the title-page of the Genealogies are two designs; that at the head of the page is printed from the identical block which was used on the title-page of the first edition of "Venus and Adonis," 1593, and the first edition of "Lucrece," 1594. At the bottom is the design with the light A and dark A, which is over the dedication to Sir William Cecil in the "Arte of English Poesie," 1589. An octavo edition, which is now very rare, was also published in 1612. On the title-page of the Genealogies will be found the design with the light A and dark A which is used on several of the Shakespeare quartos and elsewhere. (Figure XXI.)

The selection of these designs was not made by chance. They were deliberately chosen to create similitudes between certain books, and mark their connection with each other.

The revised translation of the Bible was undertaken as a national work. It was carried out under the personal supervision of the King, but every record of the proceedings has disappeared. The British Museum does not contain a manuscript connected with the proceedings of the translators. In the Record Office have been preserved the original documents referring to important proceedings of that period. The parliamentary, judicial, and municipal records are, on the whole, in a complete condition, but ask for any records connected with the Authorised Version of the Bible and the reply is: "We have none." And yet it is reasonable to suppose that manuscripts and documents of such importance would be preserved. Where are they to be found?

[Pg 132]

Chapter XVIII.

At a very early period in the history of printing, the custom was introduced of placing on title-pages, at the heads and ends of the chapters, emblematical designs. In English printed books these are seldom to be found until the latter half of the 16th century.

An investigation of the books of the period reveals the fact that the same blocks were used by different printers. Articles have been written on the migration of printer's blocks, but, so far, no explanation has been offered as to any object other than decoration for which these blocks were used.

Among other designs in use between 1576 and 1640 are a number of variants of a device in which a light A and a dark A form the most conspicuous points. Camden, in his "Remaines Concerning Britaine," 1614, commences a chapter on "Impresses," at the head of which the device is found, thus:—"An Imprese (as the Italians call it) is a device in picture with his Motto, or Word, borne by noble and learned personages, to notifie some particular conceit of their owne: as Emblemes (that we may omitte other differences) doe propound some general instructions to all." Then follow a number of examples, and amongst them this:—

"Variete and vicissitude of humane things he seemed to shew which parted his shield, Per Pale, Argent & Sables and counter-changeably writte in the Argent, Ater and in the Sables Albus."

[Pg 133]

But even if the light A and dark A are used in the design of the head-piece to represent Albus and Ater it does not afford any satisfactory explanation as to why they are so used.

In MDCXVI. was published "Les Emblemes Moraulx et Militaires du Sieur Jacob De Bruck Angermundt Nouvellement mis en Lumiere A Strasbourg, Par Jacob de Heyden Graveur."

In Emblem No. 18, now reproduced, the light A and the dark A will be found in the branch of the tree which the man is about to cut off. (Figure VI.)[44]

Another Emblem does not contain the light A and dark A, but the bark of the trunk and branches of the tree on the design exhibit a strong contrast between the dark and light, which feature is represented in most of the title-pages of books in which the device is found. (Figure VII.)

Mr. Charles T. Jacob, Chiswick Press, London, who is the author of "Books and Printing" (London, 1902), and several works on typography, referring to an article on the migration of woodblocks, said:—

It is a well-known fact to Bibliographers that the same blocks were sometimes used by different printers in two places quite far apart, and at various intervals during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That the same blocks were employed is apparent from a comparison of technical defects of impressions taken at different places, and at two periods. There was no method of duplication in existence until stereotyping was first invented in 1725; even then the details were somewhat crude, and the process being new, it met with much opposition and was practically not adopted until the early part of the nineteenth century. Electrotyping, which is the ideal method of reproducing woodblocks, was not introduced until 1836 or thereabouts. Of course, it was quite possible to re-engrave the same design, but absolute fidelity could not be relied on by these means, even if executed by the same hand.

[Pg 134]

The earliest date which appears on a book in which the head-piece, containing the device of the light A and dark A is found, is 1563. The book is "De Furtivis Literarum Notis Vulgo. De Ziferis," Ioan. Baptista Porta Neapolitano Authore. Cum Privilegio Neapoli, apud Ioa. Mariam Scotum. MDLXIII. (Figure VIII.)

It is only used once—over the dedication Ioanni Soto Philippi Regis. There is no other head-piece in the book. John Baptist Porta was, with the exception of Trithemius, whom he quotes, the first writer on cyphers. At the time at which he wrote cypher-writing was studied in every Court in Europe. It is significant that this emblematic device is used in the earliest period in which head-pieces were adopted, in a book which is descriptive and is in fact a text-book of the art of concealment. This has, however, now been proved to be a falsely dated book.

The first edition of this work was published in Naples in 1563 by Ioa. Marius Scotus, but this does not contain the A A design. In 1591 the book was published in London by John Wolfe; this reprint was dedicated to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. After the edition had been printed off, the title-page was altered to correspond with the 1563 Naples publication. The dedication was taken out, and a reprint of the original dedication was substituted, and over this was placed the A A head-piece; then an edition was struck off, and, until to-day, it has been sold and re-sold as the first edition of Baptista Porta's work. It is difficult to offer any explanation as to why this fraud was committed.

The first occasion upon which this device was used appears to be in a book so rare that no copy of it can be found, either in the British Museum or the Bodleian Library. Unfortunately, in the copy belonging to the writer, the title-page and the two first pages are missing. The work is called "Hebraicum Alphabethum Jo. Bovlaese." It is a Hebrew Grammar, with proof-[Pg 135]sheets added. It is interleaved with sheets of English-made paper, containing Bacon's handwriting. Bound up with it is another Hebrew Grammar, similarly interleaved, called "Sive compendium, quintacunque Ratione fieri potuit amplessimum, Totius linguæ," published in Paris in 1566. The book ends with the sentence: "Ex collegio Montis—Acuti 20 Decembris 1576"; then follow two pages in Hebrew, with the Latin translation over it, headed "Decem Præcepta decalogi Exod." Over this is the design containing the light A and the dark A, and the squirrel and rabbits. (Figure IX.) One thing is certain, that the copy now referred to was in the possession of Bacon, and that the interleaved sheets of paper contain his handwriting, in which have been added page by page the equivalents of the Hebrew in Greek, Chaldæic, Syriac and Arabic.

In 1577 Christophor Plantin published an edition of Andrea Alciat's "Emblemata." On page 104 is Emblem No. 45, "In dies meliora." This has been re-designed for the 1577 edition. It contains at the back the pillars of Hercules, with a scroll around bearing the motto: "Plus oltre." These pillars stand on some arches, immediately in front of which is a mound or pyramid, two sides of which are seen. On one is to be found the light A and on the other the dark A. The design was appropriated by Whitney, and appears on page 53 in the 1586 edition of his Emblems. From this time forth, A A devices are to be found in numbers of books published in England, and on some published on the Continent. Amongst the former are the first editions of "Venus and Adonis," "Lucrece," the "Sonnets," the quarto editions of Shakespeare's plays, the folio edition (1623) of his works, and the first quarto and octavo editions (1612) of the Authorised Version of the Bible.

There are fourteen distinct designs, in all of which, varying widely in other respects, the light A and the[Pg 136] dark A constitute the outstanding figure. The use of the two letters so shaded must have had a special significance. In nearly every case it will be observed that the letter A is so drawn as to make the letter C on the inside. Was its significance of general knowledge amongst printers and readers, or was it an earmarking device used by one person, or by a Society?

A possible interpretation of the use of the light and dark shading, is that the book in which it is used contains more than is revealed; that is to say, the overt and the concealed.

A copy of "Æsopiphrygis vita et fabellæ cum latina interpretatione" exists, date 1517. The book is annotated by Bacon. On one side is the Greek text and on the opposite page the Latin translation. On pages 102 and 103 are two initial letters printed from blocks of the letter A. These are coloured so that the one on the left hand side is a light A, and that on the opposite page a dark A.

There are other designs which are used apparently as part of a scheme. The identical block (Figure X.) which was used at the top of the title page of "Venus and Adonis" (1593) and "Lucrece" (1594) did service on the title page of the Genealogies in the quarto edition of the Authorised Version of the Bible, 1612. This design was, so far as can be traced, only used twice in the intervening nineteen years—on "An Apologie of the Earl of Essex to Master Anthony Bacon," penned by himself in 1598, and printed by Richard Bradocke in 1603, and in 1607, on the "World of Wonders," printed by Richard Field. It was of this book that Caldecott, the bibliophile and Shakespearean scholar, wrote: "The phraseology of Shakespeare is better illustrated in this work than in any other book existing." The design which is found on the title page of the "Sonnets of Shakespeare," 1609, is found also in the first edition of Napier's "Mirifici Logarithmorum," 1611, but printed[Pg 137] from a different block. The design with archers shooting at the base of the central figure is to be found in a large number of the folio editions of the period. Amongst these are the Authorised Version of the Bible, 1611, the "Novum Organum," 1620, and the 1623 edition of Shakespeare's works.

There are other designs which are usually found accompanying the light A and dark A and the other devices before referred to.

These designs were first brought into use from 1576 and practically cease to appear about 1626. Afterwards they are seldom seen except in books bearing Bacon's name, and eventually they lapse. The last use of an A A device is over the life of the author in the second volume of an edition of Bacon's Essays edited by Dr. William Willymott, published by Henry Parson in 1720. After an interval of about 60 years a new design is made, which is not one of those employed by Bacon.

By means of these devices a certain number of books may be identified as forming a class by themselves.

There is another feature connected with them which is of special interest. One man appears to have contributed to all the books thus marked—either the dedication, the preface,[45] or the lines "To the Reader"; in some cases all three. It may be urged in opposition to this view that in those days there was a form in which dedications and prefaces were written, and that this was more or less followed by many writers, but this contention will not stand investigation. There are tricks of phrasing and other peculiarities which enable certain literary productions to be identified as the work of one man. Some of the finest Elizabethan literature[Pg 138] is to be found in the prefaces and dedications in these books.

The theory now put forth is that Francis Bacon was directing the production of a great quantity of the Elizabethan literature, and in every book in the production of which he was interested, he caused to be inserted one of these devices. He kept the blocks in his own custody; he sent them out to a printer when a book was approved by him for printing. On the completion of the work, the printer returned the blocks to Bacon so that they could be sent elsewhere by him as occasion required.

The most elaborate of the AA designs is Figure XII., and the writer has only found it in one volume. It is "Le Historie della Citta Di Fiorenza," by M. Jacopo, published in Lyons by Theobald Ancelin in 1582.

"Exact was his correspondence abroad and at home, constant his Letters, frequent his Visits, great his obligations," states the contemporary biographer, speaking of Francis Bacon. It is difficult to arrive at the exact meaning of these words. There is little correspondence with those abroad remaining, no record of visits, no particulars of the great obligations into which he entered. In the dedication of the 1631 edition of the "Histoire Naturelle" to Monseigneur de Chasteauneuf, the author speaking of Bacon writes:—"Le Chancelier, qu'on a fait venir tant de fois en France, n'a point encore quitté l'Angleterre avec tant de passion de nous découvrir ses merveilles que depuis qu'il a sceu le rang dont on avoit reconnu vos vertus."

These frequent visits to France are unrecorded elsewhere, but here is definite testimony that they were made.

There are good grounds for believing that Bacon was throughout his life, until their deaths, in constant communication with Christophor Plantin (1514-1589), Aldus Manutius, Henry Stephen (1528-1598), and also[Pg 139] with Robert Stephens the third (1563-1640). All these men were not only printers, but brilliant scholars and writers. If search be made, it is quite possible that correspondence or other evidence of their friendship may come to light. Be that as it may, there were undoubtedly a number of books published on the continent between 1576 and 1630 which in the sparta upon them bear testimony to Bacon's association with their publication.

The following are instances of where the several designs which are reproduced may be found. They however occur in many other volumes.

FigureIX. —"The Arte of English Poesie," 1589.
"XIII. —"Orlando Furioso," 1607.
"XIV. —Spencer's "Fairie Queen."
"XV. —"Florentine History translation," 1595, and 1636 edition of Barclay's "Argenis."
"XI. —"Sonnets."
"XVI. —Simon Pateriche's translation of "Discourse against Machiavel."
"XVII. —Lodge's translation of "Seneca," 1614.
"XVIII. —Shakespeare Folio, 1623.
"XIX. —"Dæmonologie," 1603.
"XX. —Alciat's "Emblems," published in Paris, 1584.

[Pg 140]

Chapter XIX.

In "Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers" the Rev. Henry Green endeavours to show the similarities of thought and expression between the great poet and the authors of Emblemata, but the line of enquiry which he there opened does not appear to have been followed by subsequent writers. To-day the Emblemata literature is a terra incognita except to a very few students, and yet it is full of interest, romance, and mystery. Emblem literature may be said to have had its origin with Andrea Alciat, the celebrated Italian jurisconsult, who was famous for his great knowledge and power of mind. In 1522 he published at Milan an "Emblematum Libellus," or Little Book of Emblems. Green says: "It established, if it did not introduce, a new style of emblem literature, the classical in the place of the simply grotesque and humorous, or of the heraldic and mythic." The first edition now known to exist was published at Augsburg in 1531, a small octavo containing eighty-eight pages with ninety-seven emblems, and as many woodcuts. It was from time to time augmented, and passed through many editions. For some years the Emblemata appears to have been produced chiefly by Italians, with a few Frenchmen. Until the last half of the sixteenth century the output of books of this character was not large. Thenceforth for the next hundred years the creation of emblems became a popular form of literary exercise. The Italians continued to be prolific, but Dutch, French, and German scholars were but little behind them. There were a few Englishmen and Spaniards who also practised the art.[Pg 141]

In 1905 was published a book called "Letters from the Dead to the Dead," by Oliver Lector. In it attention is drawn to the remarkable features of some of the books on emblems printed during Bacon's life, and to the evidence that he was in some manner connected with the publication of many of these volumes. The author claims this to be especially the case with the "Emblemata Moralia et Bellica," 1615, of Jacob de Bruck, of Angermundt, and the "Emblemata Ethic Politica" of J. Bornitius.

The emblem pictures for the most part appear to be picture puzzles. In the "Critique upon the Mythology of the Ancients" Bacon says:—

"It may pass for a farther indication of a concealed and secret meaning, that some of these fables are so absurd and idle in their narration as to proclaim and shew an allegory afar off. A fable that carries probability with it may be supposed invented for pleasure, or in imitation of history; but, those that would never be conceived or related in this way, must surely have a different use."

If this line of reasoning be applied to the illustrations in the emblem books, it is clear that they conceal some hidden meaning, for they are apparently unintelligible, and the accompanying letterpress does not afford any illumination.

Jean Baudoin was the translator of Bacon's "Essaies" into the French language (1626). Baudoin published in 1638-9 "Recueil D'Emblèmes divers avec des Discours Moraux, Philos. et Polit." In the preface he says: "Le grand chancelier Bacon m'ayant fait naître l'envie de travailler à ces emblèmes ... m'en a fourni les principaux que j'ai tirés de l'explication ingénieuse qu'il a donnée de quelques fables et de ses autres ouvrages." Here is definite evidence of Bacon's association with a book of emblems.

The first volume of Emblemata in which traces of Bacon's hand are to be found is the 1577 edition of[Pg 142] Alciat's "Emblems," published by the Plantin Press, with notes by Claude Mignault. It is in this edition, in Emblem No. 45, "In dies meliora," that for the first time the light A and the dark A is to be found. In previous editions this device is absent. For this volume a new design has been engraved in which it appears.

In the emblem books written in Italian Bacon does not appear to have been concerned, unless an exception be made of Ripa's "Iconologia," a copy of which contains his handwriting and initials. In some way he had control of a large number of those written in Latin, and bearing names of Dutch, French, and some Italian authors, and also of several written in Dutch and of the English writers. The field is a very wide one, and only a few of the principal examples can be mentioned.

The most important work is the "Emblemata Moralia et Bellica" of Jacob à Bruck, of Angermundt, 1615. "Argentorati per Jacobum ab Heyden." With many of the designs in this volume Oliver Lector has dealt fully in "Letters from the Dead to the Dead,"[46] before referred to. There is another volume bearing the name of Jacob à Bruck, published in 1598. Only one copy of this book is known to be in existence, and that is in the Royal Library of St. Petersburg.

The "Emblemata Ethico Politica of Jacobus Bornitius, 1659, Moguntiæ," is remarkable because many of the engravings contain portraits of Bacon, namely, in Sylloge Prima, Plates Nos. vii., xxiii., xliv., xlv., xlvix.; and in Sylloge II., Plates ix. and xxxvi. Oliver Lector says: "I have not met with an earlier edition of Bornitius than 1659. My conjecture, however, is that the manuscript came into the hands of Gruter with other of Bacon's published by him in the year 1653."

There are two productions of Janus Jacobus Boissardus in which Bacon's hand may be recognised—"Emblèmes[Pg 143] Latines avec l'Interprétation Françoise du I. Pierre Ioly Messin. Metis, 1588," and "Emblematum liber. Ipsa Emblemata ab Auctore delineata: a Theodoro de Bry sculpta et nunc recens in lucem edita," 1593, Frankfort. Two editions of the latter were printed in the same year. The title-pages are identical, and the same plates have been used throughout, but the letterpress is in Latin in the one, and in French in the other. In both, the dedications are addressed in French to Madame de Clervent, Baronne de Coppet, etc. The dedication of the former bears the name Jan Jacques Boissard at the head, and addresses the lady as "que come estes addonnée à la speculation des choses qui appartiennent à l'instruction de l'âme." The dedication of the latter is signed Ioly, who explains that he has translated the verses into French, so that they may be of more service to the dedicatee.

Otho Van Veen enjoys the distinction of having had Rubens for a disciple. A considerable number of emblem books emanated from him. In 1608 were published at Antwerp two editions of his "Amorum Emblemata." In one copy the verses are in Latin, German, and French, and in the other in Latin, English, and Italian. There are commendatory verses in the latter, two of which are by Daniel Heinsius and R. V., who was Robert Verstegen, the author of "A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities." The dedication is "To the most honourable and worthie brothers William Earle of Pembroke, and Phillip Earle of Montgomerie, patrons of learning and chevalrie," who are "the most noble and incomparable paire of brethren" to whom the 1623 Shakespeare Folio was dedicated. In this volume Bacon has left his marks.

"Emblemata door Zacharias Heyns," published in Rotterdam in 1625, comprises four books bound together. The inscriptions over the plates are in Latin. The letterpress, which is in Dutch and French,[Pg 144] apparently bears very little reference to the illustrations.

Johannis de Brunes I.C. Emblemata of Sinne-Werck, Amsterdam, 1624, is written in Dutch. Emblem VIII. contains an indication that the number 1623 is a key.

The "Silenus Alcibiades sive Proteus" was published at Middleburgh in 1618. There is no author's name on the title-page, but the Voor-reden, written in Dutch, is signed J. Cats. Attached to two of the preliminary complimentary verses are the names of Daniel Heyns and Josuah Sylvester, the translator of "Du Bartas." The verses are in Latin, Dutch, and French. Immediately following the title-page is a preface in Latin, signed by Majores de Baptis. Over this is the familiar emblem containing the archers, rabbits, and dogs, with the note of query on the right-hand side, and the message on the arrow. This volume is one of the most remarkable of the emblem books. The Latin preface is autobiographical. If the writer can be identified as the author of "Venus and Adonis," it becomes one of the most important contributions to his biography.

In 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death, was published at Amsterdam a book bearing on its title-page the inscription: "Cornelii Giselberti Plempii Amsterodamum Monogrammon." It contains fifty illustrations, with Latin verses attached. Emblem I. is reproduced (Fig. V.) On reference to it, it will be seen that Fortune stands on a globe, and with one hand is pushing off from the pinnacle of fame a man dressed as a player with a feather in his hat; with the other hand she is raising up a man who is wearing the Bacon hat, but whose face is hidden. The prophecy expressed by the emblem is now being fulfilled. It will be seen that the initial letters of each word in the sentence of the letterpress—Obscænùmque nimis crepuit, Fortuna Batavis appellanda—yield F. Bacon. Bacon's portrait is found in several of the[Pg 145] illustrations in this book. Other emblem writers whose works bear traces of Bacon's co-operation are G. Rollenhagen, J. Camerius, J. Typotius, D. Hensius.

Fig. V. Fig. V.

En Fortuna: manu quos rupem ducit in altam,
Præcipites abigit: carnificina Dea est.
Firma globo imponi voluerunt fata caducam,
Ipsa quoquè ut posset risus, & esse iocus.
Olim unctos Salÿ qui præsilière per utres,
Ridebant caderet si qua puella malè.
O quàm sæpe sales, plausumque merente ruinâ,
Erubuit vitium fors inhonest a suum!
Obscænùmque nimis crepuit, Fortuna Batavis
Appellanda; sono, quo sua curta vocant.
Quoque sono veteres olim sua furta Latini:
Vt nec, Homere, mali nomen odoris ames.

[Pg 146]

There yet remain to be mentioned two English emblem writers. A "Choice of Emblems" by Geffrey Whitney was published in 1586 by Francis Raphelengius in the house of Christopher Plantin at Leyden. The dedication is to Robert Earle of Leicester. There are only from fifteen to twenty original designs out of 166 illustrations. The remainder are taken from other emblem writers, chiefly from Alciat, Sambucus, Paradin, and Hadrian Junius. On page 53 is the design headed "In dies meliora" found in the 1577 edition of Alciat, but the letterpress, which is in English, is quite different from the Latin verse attached to it in the Alciat.

The "Minerva Britanna" of Henry Peacham was published in 1612. The emblem on the title-page[47] represents the great secret of Francis Bacon's life, and on page ·33 is an emblem in which the name Shakespeare is represented. The volume is full of devices which will amply repay a careful study.

Apart from any connection which Bacon may have had with this remarkable class of books, they are of great interest to the student of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. They contain pictorial representations full of information as to the habits and customs of the people. With the exception of Whitney's "Choice of Emblems," a facsimile reprint of which was published in 1866, edited by the Rev. Henry Green, no reprint of any of these curious books has been issued. As the original editions of many of them are very rare, and of none of them plentiful, their study is a matter of difficulty, and few students find their way to this fascinating field of research. How close Bacon's connection was with the writers of these books, or with their publishers, it is difficult to say, but there is considerable[Pg 147] evidence that in some way he was able to introduce into every one of the books here enumerated, and many others, some plates illustrative of his inductive philosophy.

[Pg 148]

Chapter XX.

"Shakespeare's Sonnets never before Imprinted," have afforded commentators material for many volumes filled with theories which to the ordinary critical mind appear to have no foundation in fact. Chapters have been written to prove that Mr. W. H., the only begetter of the Sonnets, was Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, and chapters have been written to prove that he was no such person, but that William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was the man intended to be designated. Theories have been elaborated to identify the individuals represented by the Rival Poet and the dark Lady. Not one of these theories is supported by the vestige of a shred of testimony that would stand investigation. There has not come down any evidence that Shakspur, of Stratford, knew either the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Pembroke or Marie Fitton. The truth is that Mr. W. H. was Shakespeare, who was the only begetter of the Sonnets, and the proof of this statement will in due time be forthcoming. It may be well to try and read some of the Sonnets as they stand and endeavour to realise what is the obvious meaning of the printed words.

The key to the Sonnets will be found in No. 62. The language in which it is written is explicit and capable of being understood by any ordinary intellect.

"Sinne of selfe-love possesseth al mine eie
And all my soule, and al my every part;
And for this sinne there is no remedie,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Me thinkes no face so gratious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account,
[Pg 149]And for my selfe mine owne worth do define,
As I all other in all worth's surmount
But when my glasse shewes me my selfe indeed
Beated and chopt with tand antiquitie,
Mine own selfe love quite contrary I read
Selfe, so selfe loving were iniquity.
Tis thee (my-selfe) that for myself I praise
Painting my age with beauty of thy daies."

The writer here states definitely that he is dominated by the sin of self-love; it possesseth his eye, his soul, and every part of him. There can be found no remedy for it; it is so grounded in his heart. No face is so gracious as is his, no shape so true, no truth of such account. He defines his worth as surmounting that of all others. This is the frank expression of a man who not only believed that he was, but knew that he was superior to all his contemporaries, not only in intellectual power, but in personal appearance. Then comes an arrest in the thought, and he realises that time has been at work. He has been picturing himself as he was when a young man. He turns to his glass and sees himself beated and chopt with tanned antiquity; forty summers have passed over his brow.[48]

Francis Bacon at forty years of age, or thereabouts, unmarried, childless, sits down to his table, Hilliard's portrait before him, with pen in hand, full of self-love, full of admiration for that beautiful youth on whose counterfeit presentment he is gazing. His intellectual triumphs pass in review before him, most of them known only to himself and that youth—his companion through life. That was the Francis Bacon who controlled him in all his comings and goings—his ideal whom he worshipped. If he could have a son like that boy! His pen begins to move on the paper—

"From fairest creatures we desire increase
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
[Pg 150]But as the riper should by time decrease
His tender heire might bear his memory."

The pen stops and the writer's eye wanders to the miniature:—

"But thou[49] contracted to thine own bright eyes."

And so the Sonnets flow on, without effort, without the need of reference to authorities, for the great, fixed and methodical memory needs none.

How natural are the allusions—

"Thou art thy mother's glasse and she in thee
Calls backe the lovely Aprill of her prime."

"Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind,
Or to thyselfe at least kind hearted prove.
Make thee another self, for love of me
That beauty may still live in thine or thee."

"Let those whom nature hath not made for store,
Harsh, featureless and rude, barrenly perish;
Look, whom she best indow'd she gave the more;
Which bountious guift thou shouldst in bounty cherrish;
She carv'd thee for her seale, and ment therby
Thou shouldst print more, not let that coppy die."

"O that you were yourselfe, but love you are
No longer yours, then you yourselfe here live,
Against this cunning end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give
                ·       ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
Who lets so faire a house fall to decay
                ·       ·       ·       ·       ·       ·
O none but unthrifts, deare my love you know
You had a Father, let your Son say so."

"But wherefore do not you a mightier waie
Make warre uppon this bloodie tirant Time?
And fortifie your selfe in your decay
[Pg 151]With meanes more blessed, then my barren rime?
Now stand you on the top of happie houres
And many maiden gardens, yet onset,
With virtuous wish would beare you living flowers
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:

Who will beleeve my verses in time to come
If it were fil'd with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows, it is but as a tombe
Which hides your life, and shewes not halfe your parts:
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say this Poet lies,
Such heavenly touches nere toucht earthly faces.
So should my papers (yellowed with their age)
Be scorn'd, like old men of lesse truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termd a Poets rage
And stretched miter of an Antique song.
But were some childe of yours alive that time,
You should live twise, in it and in my rime."

"Yet doe thy worst, ould Time, dispight thy wrong
My love shall in my verse ever live young."

He realises that he no longer answers Ophelia's description:

"The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye, tongue, sword:
The expectancy and rose of the fair state
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers....
That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth."

But he cannot forget what he has been, he cannot realise that he is no longer the brilliant youth whose miniature he has before him, with the words inscribed around, "Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem"—If materials could be found worthy to paint his mind ("O could he but have drawn his wit") and then with a burst of poetic enthusiasm he exclaims:—

"Tis thee (myselfe) that for myselfe I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy daies."

[Pg 152]

This is the common experience of a man as he advances in life. So long as he does not see his reflection in a glass, if he tries to visualize himself, he sees the youth or young man. Only in his most pessimistic moments does he realise his age.

There is no longer any difficulty in understanding Shakespeare's Sonnets. They were addressed by "Shakespeare," the poet, to the marvellous youth who was known under the name of Francis Bacon, and they were written, with Hilliard's portrait placed on his table before him.

In that age (please God it may be the present age), which is known only to God and to the fates when the finishing touch shall be given to Bacon's fame,[50] it will be found that the period of his life from twelve to thirty-five years of age surpassed all others, not only in brilliant intellectual achievements, but for the enduring wealth with which he endowed his countrymen. And yet it was part of his scheme of life that his connection with the great renaissance in English literature should lie hidden until posterity should recognise that work as the fruit of his brain:—"Mente Videbor"—"by the mind I shall be seen."

How lacking all his modern biographers have been in perception!

Every difficulty in those which are termed the procreation Sonnets disappears with the application of this key. Only by it can Sonnet 22 be made intelligible:—

"My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
As long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time's furrow I behold,
Then look, I death my days would expirate
For all that beauty that doth cover thee
Is but the steady raiment of my heart.
Which in my breast doth live, as thine in me.
How can I then be older than thou art?
[Pg 153]O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
Thou gavest me thine, not to give back again."

But nearly every Sonnet might be quoted in support of this view. Especially is it of value in bringing an intelligent and allowable explanation to Sonnets 40, 41, and 42, which now no longer have an unsavoury flavour.

Sonnet No. 59 is most noteworthy, because it implies a belief in re-incarnation. Shakespeare expresses his longing to know what the ancients would have said of his marvellous intellect. If he could find his picture in some antique book over 500 years old, see an image of himself as he then was, and learn what men thought of him!

"If their bee nothing new, but that which is
Hath beene before, how are our braines begulld,
Which laboring for invention, beare amisse
The second burthen of a former child?
Oh that record could with a back-ward looke,
Even of five hundredth courses of the Sunne,
Show me your image in some antique booke,
Since minde at first in carrecter was done,
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or where better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
Oh sure I am, the wits of former daies,
To subjects worse have given admiring praise."

There is the same idea in Sonnet 71, which suggests that in some future re-incarnation Bacon might read Shakespeare's praises of him.

Conjectures as to who was the rival poet may be dispensed with. The following rendering of Sonnet No. 80 makes this perfectly clear:[Pg 154]

"O how I (the poet) faint when I of you (F.B.) do write,
Knowing a better spirit (that of the philosopher) doth use your name
And in the praise thereof spends all his might
To make me tongue tied, speaking of your fame!
(Shakespeare never refers to Bacon or vice-versa)
But since your (F.B.'s) worth wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark (that of the poet) inferior far to his (that of the philosopher),
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me (the poet) up afloat
Whilst he (the philosopher) upon your soundless deep doth ride."

It is impossible to do justice to this subject in the space here available. By the aid of this key every line becomes intelligible. The charm and beauty of the Sonnets are increased tenfold. Every unpleasant association of them is removed. No longer need Browning say, "If so the less Shakespeare he."

These are not "Shakespeare's sug'rd[51] Sonnets amongst his private friends" to which Meres makes reference. They are to be found elsewhere.

If there had been an intelligent study of Elizabethan literature from original sources the authorship of the Sonnets would have been revealed long ago. It was a habit of Bacon to speak of himself as some one apart from the speaker. The opening sentence of Filum Labyrinthi, Sivo Forma Inquisitiones is an example. Ad Filios—"Francis Bacon thought in this manner." Prefixed to the preface to Gilbert Wats' interpretation of the "Advancement of Learning" is a chapter commencing, "Francis Lo Verulam consulted thus: and thus concluded with himselfe. The publication whereof he conceived did concern the present and future age."[Pg 155]

Nothing that has been written is more perfectly Baconian in style and temperament than are the Sonnets. They breathe out his hopes, his aspirations, his ideals, his fears, in every line. He knew he was not for his time. He knew future generations only would render him the fame to which his incomparable powers entitled him. He knew how far he towered above his contemporaries, aye, and his predecessors, in intellectual power. His hopes were fixed on that day in the distant future—to-day—when for the first time the meshes which he wove, behind which his life's work is obscured, are beginning to be unravelled.

The most sanguine Baconian, in his most enthusiastic moments, must fail adequately to appreciate the achievements of Francis Bacon and the obligations under which he has placed posterity. But Bacon knew—and he alone knew—their full value. It was fitting that the greatest poet which the world had produced should in matchless verse do honour to the world's greatest intellect. It was a pretty conceit. Only a master mind would dare to make the attempt. The result has afforded another example of how his great wit, in being concealed, was revealed.

[Pg 156]

Chapter XXI.

In the "Advancement of Learning" Bacon refers to the annotations of books as being deficient. There was living at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century a scholar through whose hands at least several thousand books passed. He appears to have made a practice of annotating in the margins every book he read. The chief purpose, however, of the notes, apparently, was to aid the memory, for in some books nearly every name occurring in the text is carried into the margin without comment. The notes are also accompanied by scrolls, marks, and brackets, which support the contention that they are the work of one man. The annotation of books was not a common practice then, nor has it been since. If a reader takes up a hundred books in a second-hand book shop he will probably not find more than one containing manuscript notes, and not one in five hundred in which the annotations have been systematically carried through. There does not appear to have been any other scholar living at that time, with the exception of this one, who was persistently making marginal notes on the books he read.

Spedding writes: "What became of his (Bacon's) books, which were left to Sir John Constable and must have contained traces of his reading, we do not know; but very few appear to have survived."

Mrs. Pott, in "Francis Bacon and his Secret Society," draws attention to the mystery as to the disappearance of Bacon's library. "Which is a mystery," she adds, "although the world has been content to take it very[Pg 157] apathetically. Where is Bacon's library? Undoubtedly the books exist and are traceable. We should expect them to be recognisable by marginal notes; yet those notes, whether in pencil or in ink, may have been effaced. If annotated, Bacon and his friends would not wish his books to attract public attention." And further on: "It is probable that the latter (i.e., the books) will seldom or never be found to bear his name or signature." And again: "Yet it may reasonably be anticipated that some at least are 'noted in the margin,' or that some will be found with traces of marks which were guides to the transcriber or amanuensis as to the portions which were to be copied for future use in Bacon's collections or book of commonplaces." Mrs. Pott's words were written in a spirit of true prophecy.

The collecting together of these books originated with that distinguished Baconian scholar, Mr. W. M. Safford. For years past he has been steadily engaged in reconstituting Bacon's Library. The writer has had the privilege of being associated with him in this work during the past three years. A collection of nearly two thousand volumes has been gathered together. The annotations on the margins of these books are unquestionably the work of one man, and that man, or rather boy and man, was undoubtedly Francis Bacon. The books bear date from 1470 to 1620. It is impossible to enumerate them all here, but they include the works of Seneca, Aristotle, Plato, Horace, Alciat, Lucanus, Dionysius, Catullus, Lactinius, Plutarch, Pliny, Aristophanes, Plautus, Cornelius Agrippa, Cicero, Vitruvius, Euclid, Virgil, Ovid, Lucretius, Apuleius, Salust, Tibullus, Isocrates, and hundreds of other classical writers; St. Augustine, St. Jerome, Calvin, Beza, Beda, Erasmus, Martin Luther, J. Cammerarius, Sir Thomas Moore, Machiavelli, and other more modern writers.[Pg 158]

The handwriting varies,[52] but there is a particular hand which is found accompanied by a boy's sketches. There are drawings of full-length figures, heads of men and women, animals, birds, reptiles, ships, castles, cathedrals, cities, battles, storms, etc. The writing is a strong, clerkly student's hand. There is a passage in "Hamlet," Act V., scene ii., which is noteworthy. Hamlet, speaking to Horatio, says:—

"I sat me down
Devised a new commission; wrote it fair;
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much
How to forget that learning; but, Sir, now
It did me yeomans service."

The nature of this statement is so personal that it could only have been written as the result of experience. Hamlet had been taught, when young, to write a hand so fair that he was capable of producing a fresh commission which would pass muster as the work of a Court copyist. The annotation of these books possessed the same qualification. In the margins of these books are abundant references in handwriting to the whole range of classical authors.

A copy of the "Grammatice Compendium" of Lactus Pomponius, a very rare book printed by De Fortis in Venice in 1484, contains on the margins the boy's scribble and drawings, besides a number of manuscript notes. It bears traces of his reading probably at eight years of age. A large folio volume entitled "T. Livii Palvini Latinæ Historiæ Principis Decades Tres," published by Frobenius in 1535, is a treasure. It is most copiously annotated and embellished with sketches. The notes are usually in Latin, but interspersed with Greek and sometimes with English. Obviously the[Pg 159] writer thought in Latin, and the character of the drawings justifies the assumption that, at the time, his age would be from ten to fourteen years.

The most remarkable reference to these annotations is to be found in the "Rape of Lucrece." The fifteenth stanza is as follows:—

"But she that never cop't with straunger eies,
Could picke no meaning from their parling lookes,
Nor read the subtle shining secrecies
Writ in the glassie margents of such bookes
Shee toucht no unknown baits, nor feared no hooks,
Nor could shee moralize his wanton sight
More than his eies were opend to the light."

It would be difficult to conceive a more inappropriate simile for the lustful looks in Tarquin's eyes than "the subtle shining secrecies, writ in the glassie margents of such books." That this is lugged in for a purpose outside the object of the poem is manifest. How many readers of "Lucrece" would know of such a practice? Nay. If it did exist, was not its use very rare?

But the margin of the verse itself yields a subtle shining secret! The initial letters of the lines are B, C, N, W, Sh, N, M. It is only necessary to supply the vowels—BACoN, W. Sh., NaMe. Sh is on line 103, which is the numerical value of the word Shakespeare. The numerical value of Bacon is 33. In view of this the line 33 is significant:—"Why is Colatine the publisher?" The use of the word publisher here is quite inappropriate. It is introduced for some reason outside the purpose of the text.

The "Rape of Lucrece" commences with Bacon's monogram and, as the late Rev. Walter Begley pointed out, ends with his signature.

The theory now advanced is that when Bacon read a book he made marginal notes in it—the object being mainly to assist his memory, but the critical notes are numerous. It does not follow that all these books constituted his library. He would read a book and it[Pg 160] having served his purpose he would dispose of it. Some books no doubt he would retain and these would form his library.

The annotations are chiefly in Latin, but some are in Greek, some in Hebrew, French and Spanish. When these have been examined and translated the meaning of the phrase that he had taken all knowledge to be his province will be better understood. Rawley says: "He read much and that with great judgment and rejection of impertinences incident to many authors."

The writer having examined annotations, many and varied, of books in his library, and having enjoyed the privilege of free access to those collected by Mr. Safford, ventures to assert that much of the ripe learning of the Shakespeare plays can be traced therein to its proper origin. Amongst the former is a copy of Alciat's Emblems, 1577, in the early part profusely annotated. Ben Jonson in his "Discoveries" has incorporated the translation of a portion of one of the Emblems and has also incorporated a portion of the annotations from this very book.

[Pg 161]

Chapter XXII.

Dr. G. G. Gervinus, the eminent German Historian and Professor Extraordinary at Heidelberg, published in 1849 his work, "Shakespeare Commentaries." This was years before any suggestion had been made that Bacon was in any way connected with the authorship of the Shakespearean dramas.

In the Prospectus of "The New Shakespeare Society," written in 1873, Dr. F. J. Furnivall says:—

"The profound and generous 'Commentaries' of Gervinus—an honour to a German to have written, a pleasure to an Englishman to read—is still the only book known to me that comes near the true treatment and the dignity of its subject, or can be put into the hands of the student who wants to know the mind of Shakespeare."

The book abounds with references to Bacon. From the Preface to the last chapter Gervinus appears to have Bacon continually suggested to him by the thoughts and words of Shakespeare.

In the Preface, after speaking of the value accruing to German literature by naturalizing Shakespeare "even at the risk of casting our own poets still further in the shade," he says:—

"A similar benefit would it be to our intellectual life if his famed contemporary, Bacon, were revived in a suitable manner, in order to counterbalance the idealistic philosophy of Germany. For both these, the poet as well as the philosopher, having looked deeply into the history and politics of their people, stand upon the level ground of reality, notwithstanding the high art of the one and the speculative notions of the other. By the[Pg 162] healthfulness of their own mind they influence the healthfulness of others, while in their most ideal and most abstract representations they aim at a preparation for life as it is—for that life which forms the exclusive subject of all political action."

In the chapter on "His Age," written prior to 1849, the Professor pours out the results of a profound study of the writings attributed to both men in the following remarkable sentences:—

"Judge then how natural it was that England, if not the birthplace of the drama, should be that of dramatic legislature. Yet even this instance of favourable concentration is not the last. Both in philosophy and poetry everything conspired, as it were, throughout this prosperous period, in favour of two great minds, Shakespeare and Bacon; all competitors vanished from their side, and they could give forth laws for art and science which it is incumbent even upon present ages to fulfil. As the revived philosophy, which in the former century in Germany was divided among many, but in England at that time was the possession of a single man, so poetry also found one exclusive heir, compared with whom those later born could claim but little.

"That Shakespeare's appearance upon a soil so admirably prepared was neither marvellous nor accidental is evidenced even by the corresponding appearance of such a contemporary as Bacon. Scarcely can anything be said of Shakespeare's position generally with regard to mediæval poetry which does not also bear upon the position of the renovator Bacon with regard to mediæval philosophy. Neither knew nor mentioned the other, although Bacon was almost called upon to have done so in his remarks upon the theatre of his day. It may be presumed that Shakespeare liked Bacon but little, if he knew his writings and life; that he liked not his ostentation, which, without on the whole interfering with his modesty, recurred too often in many instances; that he liked not the fault-finding which his ill-health might have caused, nor the narrow-mindedness with which he pronounced the histrionic art to be infamous, although he allowed that the ancients regarded the drama as a school for virtue; nor the theoretic precepts of worldly wisdom which he gave forth; nor, lastly, the practical career which he lived. Before his mind, however, if he had fathomed it, he must have bent in reverence. For just as Shakespeare was an inter[Pg 163]preter of the secrets of history and of human nature, Bacon was an interpreter of lifeless nature. Just as Shakespeare went from instance to instance in his judgment of moral actions, and never founded a law on single experience, so did Bacon in natural science avoid leaping from one experience of the senses to general principles; he spoke of this with blame as anticipating nature; and Shakespeare, in the same way, would have called the conventionalities in the poetry of the Southern races an anticipation of human nature. In the scholastic science of the middle ages, as in the chivalric poetry of the romantic period, approbation and not truth was sought for, and with one accord Shakespeare's poetry and Bacon's science were equally opposed to this. As Shakespeare balanced the one-sided errors of the imagination by reason, reality, and nature, so Bacon led philosophy away from the one-sided errors of reason to experience; both with one stroke, renovated the two branches of science and poetry by this renewed bond with nature; both, disregarding all by-ways, staked everything upon this 'victory in the race between art and nature.' Just as Bacon with his new philosophy is linked with the natural science of Greece and Rome, and then with the latter period of philosophy in western Europe, so Shakespeare's drama stands in relation to the comedies of Plautus and to the stage of his own day; between the two there lay a vast wilderness of time, as unfruitful for the drama as for philosophy. But while they thus led back to nature, Bacon was yet as little of an empiric, in the common sense, as Shakespeare was a poet of nature. Bacon prophesied that if hereafter his commendation of experience should prevail, great danger to science would arise from the other extreme, and Shakespeare even in his own day could perceive the same with respect to his poetry; Bacon, therefore, insisted on the closest union between experience and reason, just as Shakespeare effected that between reality and imagination. While they thus bid adieu to the formalities of ancient art and science, Shakespeare to conceits and taffeta-phrases, Bacon to logic and syllogisms, yet at times it occurred that the one fell back into the subtleties of the old school, and the other into the constrained wit of the Italian style. Bacon felt himself quite an original in that which was his peculiar merit, and so was Shakespeare; the one in the method of science he had laid down, and in his suggestions for its execution, the other in the poetical works he had executed, and in the suggestions of their[Pg 164] new law. Bacon, looking back to the waymarks he had left for others, said with pride that his words required a century for their demonstration and several for their execution; and so too it has demanded two centuries to understand Shakespeare, but very little has ever been executed in his sense. And at the same time we have mentioned what deep modesty was interwoven in both with their self-reliance, so that the words which Bacon liked to quote hold good for the two works:—'The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.' Both reached this height from the one starting point, that Shakespeare despised the million, and Bacon feared with Phocion the applause of the multitude. Both are alike in the rare impartiality with which they avoided everything one-sided; in Bacon we find, indeed, youthful exercises in which he endeavoured in severe contrasts to contemplate a series of things from two points of view. Both, therefore, have an equal hatred of sects and parties; Bacon of sophists and dogmatic philosophers, Shakespeare of Puritans and zealots. Both, therefore, are equally free from prejudices, and from astrological superstition in dreams and omens. Bacon says of the alchemists and magicians in natural science that they stand in similar relation to true knowledge as the deeds of Amadis to those of Cæsar, and so does Shakespeare's true poetry stand in relation to the fantastic romance of Amadis. Just as Bacon banished religion from science, so did Shakespeare from Art; and when the former complained that the teachers of religion were against natural philosophy, they were equally against the stage. From Bacon's example it seems clear that Shakespeare left religious matters unnoticed on the same grounds as himself, and took the path of morality in worldly things; in both this has been equally misconstrued, and Le Maistre has proved Bacon's lack of Christianity, as Birch has done that of Shakespeare. Shakespeare would, perhaps, have looked down just as contemptuously on the ancients and their arts as Bacon did on their philosophy and natural science, and both on the same grounds; they boasted of the greater age of the world, of more enlarged knowledge of heaven, earth, and mankind. Neither stooped before authorities, and an injustice similar to that which Bacon committed against Aristotle, Shakespeare perhaps has done to Homer. In both a similar combination of different mental powers was at work; and as Shakespeare was often involuntarily philosophical in his profoundness, Bacon was not seldom surprised into the imagination[Pg 165] of the poet. Just as Bacon, although he declared knowledge in itself to be much more valuable than the use of invention, insisted throughout generally and dispassionately upon the practical use of philosophy, so Shakespeare's poetry, independent as was his sense of art, aimed throughout at bearing upon the moral life. Bacon himself was of the same opinion; he was not far from declaring history to be the best teacher of politics, and poetry the best instructor in morals. Both were alike deeply moved by the picture of a ruling Nemesis, whom they saw, grand and powerful, striding through history and life, dragging the mightiest and most prosperous as a sacrifice to her altar, as the victims of their own inward nature and destiny. In Bacon's works we find a multitude of moral sayings and maxims of experience, from which the most striking mottoes might be drawn for every Shakespearian play, aye, for every one of his principal characters (we have already brought forward not a few proofs of this), testifying to a remarkable harmony in their mutual comprehension of human nature. Both, in their systems of morality rendering homage to Aristotle, whose ethics Shakespeare, from a passage in Troilus, may have read, arrived at the same end as he did—that virtue lies in a just medium between two extremes. Shakespeare would also have agreed with him in this, that Bacon declared excess to be 'the fault of youth, as defect is of age;' he accounted 'defect the worst, because excess contains some sparks of magnanimity, and, like a bird, claims kindred of the heavens, while defect, only like a base worm, crawls upon the earth.' In these maxims lie at once, as it were, the whole theory of Shakespeare's dramatic forms and of his moral philosophy."

Dr. Kuno Fischer, the distinguished German critic and historian of philosophy, in a volume on Bacon, published in 1856, writes:—

The same affinity for the Roman mind, and the same want of sympathy with the Greek, we again find in Bacon's greatest contemporary, whose imagination took as broad and comprehensive a view as Bacon's intellect. Indeed, how could a Bacon attain that position with respect to Greek poetry that was unattainable by the mighty imagination of a Shakspeare? For in Shakspeare, at any rate, the imagination of the Greek antiquity could be met by a homogeneous power[Pg 166] of the same rank as itself; and, as the old adage says, "like comes to like." But the age, the spirit of the nation—in a word, all those forces of which the genius of an individual man is composed, and which, moreover, genius is least able to resist—had here placed an obstacle, impenetrable both to the poet and the philosopher. Shakspeare was no more able to exhibit Greek characters than Bacon to expound Greek poetry. Like Bacon, Shakspeare had in his turn of mind something that was Roman, and not at all akin to the Greek. He could appropriate to himself a Coriolanus and a Brutus, a Cæsar and an Antony; he could succeed with the Roman heroes of Plutarch, but not with the Greek heroes of Homer. The latter he could only parody, but his parody was as infelicitous as Bacon's explanation of the "Wisdom of the Ancients." Those must be dazzled critics indeed who can persuade themselves that the heroes of the Iliad are excelled by the caricatures in "Troilus and Cressida." The success of such a parody was poetically impossible; indeed, he that attempts to parody Homer shows thereby that he has not understood him. For the simple and the naïve do not admit of a parody, and these have found in Homer their eternal and inimitable expression. Just as well might caricatures be made of the statues of Phidias. Where the creative imagination never ceases to be simple and naïve, where it never distorts itself by the affected or the unnatural, there is the consecrated land of poetry, in which there is no place for the parodist. On the other hand, where there is a palpable want of simplicity and nature, parody is perfectly conceivable; nay, may even be felt as a poetical necessity. Thus Euripides, who, often enough, was neither simple nor naïve, could be parodied, and Aristophanes has shown us with what felicity. Even Æschylus, who was not always as simple as he was grand, does not completely escape the parodising test. But Homer is safe. To parody Homer[Pg 167] is to mistake him, and to stand so far beyond his scope that the truth and magic of his poetry can no longer be felt; and this is the position of Shakespeare and Bacon. The imagination of Homer, and all that could be contemplated and felt by that imagination, namely, the classical antiquity of the Greeks, are to them utterly foreign. We cannot understand Aristotle without Plato; nay, I maintain that we cannot contemplate with a sympathetic mind the Platonic world of ideas, if we have not previously sympathised with the world of the Homeric gods. Be it understood, I speak of the form of the Platonic mind, not of its logical matter; in point of doctrine, the Homeric faith was no more that of Plato than of Phidias. But these doctrinal or logical differences are far less than the formal and æsthetical affinity. The conceptions of Plato are of Homeric origin.

This want of ability to take an historical survey of the world is to be found alike in Bacon and Shakspeare, together with many excellencies likewise common to them both. To the parallel between them—which Gervinus, with his peculiar talent for combination, has drawn in the concluding remarks to his "Shakespeare," and has illustrated by a series of appropriate instances—belongs the similar relation of both to antiquity, their affinity to the Roman mind, and their diversity from the Greek. Both possessed to an eminent degree that faculty for a knowledge of human nature that at once pre-supposes and calls forth an interest in practical life and historical reality. To this interest corresponds the stage, on which the Roman characters moved; and here Bacon and Shakspeare met, brought together by a common interest in these objects, and the attempt to depict and copy them. This point of agreement, more than any other argument, explains their affinity. At the same time there is no evidence that one ever came into actual contact with the other. Bacon does not even[Pg 168] mention Shakspeare when he discourses of dramatic poetry, but passes over this department of poetry with a general and superficial remark that relates less to the subject itself than to the stage and its uses. As far as his own age is concerned, he sets down the moral value of the stage as exceedingly trifling. But the affinity of Bacon to Shakspeare is to be sought in his moral and psychological, not in his æsthetical views, which are too much regulated by material interests and utilitarian prepossessions to be applicable to art itself, considered with reference to its own independent value. However, even in these there is nothing to prevent Bacon's manner of judging mankind, and apprehending characters from agreeing perfectly with that of Shakspeare; so that human life, the subject-matter of all dramatic art, appeared to him much as it appeared to the great artist himself, who, in giving form to this matter, excelled all others. Is not the inexhaustible theme of Shakspeare's poetry the history and course of human passion? In the treatment of this especial theme is not Shakspeare the greatest of all poets—nay, is he not unique among them all? And it is this very theme that is proposed by Bacon as the chief problem of moral philosophy. He blames Aristotle for treating of the passions in his rhetoric rather than his ethics; for regarding the artificial means of exciting them rather than their natural history. It is to the natural history of the human passions that Bacon directs the attention of philosophy. He does not find any knowledge of them among the sciences of his time. "The poets and writers of histories," he says, "are the best doctors of this knowledge; where we may find painted forth with great life how passions are kindled and incited; and how pacified and refrained; and how again contained from act and further degree; how they disclose themselves; how they work; how they vary; how they gather and fortify; how they are inwrapped one within another; and how they do fight and en[Pg 169]counter one with another; and other the like particularities."[53] Such a lively description is required by Bacon from moral philosophy. That is to say, he desired nothing less than a natural history of the passions—the very thing that Shakspeare has produced. Indeed, what poet could have excelled Shakspeare in this respect? Who, to use a Baconian expression, could have depicted man and all his passions more ad vivum? According to Bacon, the poets and historians give us copies of characters; and the outlines of these images—the simple strokes that determine characters—are the proper objects of ethical science. Just as physical science requires a dissection of bodies, that their hidden qualities and parts may be discovered, so should ethics penetrate the various minds of men, in order to find out the eternal basis of them all. And not only this foundation, but likewise those external conditions which give a stamp to human character—all those peculiarities that "are imposed upon the mind by the sex, by the age, by the region, by health and sickness, by beauty and deformity, and the like, which are inherent and not external; and, again, those which are caused by external fortune"[54]—should come within the scope of ethical philosophy. In a word, Bacon would have man studied in his individuality as a product of nature and history, in every respect determined by natural and historical influences, by internal and external conditions. And exactly in the same spirit has Shakespeare understood man and his destiny; regarding character as the result of a certain natural temperament and a certain historical position, and destiny as a result of character.

[Pg 170]

Chapter XXIII.

A distinguished member of the Bench in a recent post-prandial address referred to Bacon as "a shady lawyer." Irresponsible newspaper correspondents, when attacking the Baconian theory, indulge in epithets of this kind, but it is amazing that any man occupying a position so responsible as that of an English judge should, either through ignorance or with a desire to be considered a wit, make use of such a term.

Whatever may have been Francis Bacon's faults, one fact must stand unchallenged—that amongst those of his contemporaries who knew him there was a consensus of opinion that his virtues overshadowed any failings to which he might be subject.

The following testimonies establish this fact:—

Let Ben Jonson speak first:

"Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking. His language (where he could spare or pass 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," and, after referring to Lord Ellesmere, Jonson continues:[Pg 171]

"But his learned and able (though unfortunate) successor, (i.e., Bacon) is he who hath filled up all numbers, and performed that in our tongue, which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece, or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born, that could honour a language, or help study. Now things daily fall, wits grow downward, and eloquence grows backward: so that he may be named, and stand as the mark and άκωη of our language.

"My conceit of his person was never increased toward him by his place, or honours: but I have and do reverence him, for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his work, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages. In his adversity I ever prayed God would give him strength; for greatness he could not want. Neither could I condole in a word or syllable for him, as knowing no accident could do harm to virtue, but rather help to make it manifest."

Sir Toby Matthew describes Francis Bacon as

"A friend unalterable to his friends;
A man most sweet in his conversation and ways";

and adds:

"It is not his greatness that I admire, but his virtue."

Thomas Bushel, his servant, in a letter to Mr. John Eliot, printed in 1628, in a volume called "The First Part of Youth's Errors," says:

"Yet lest the calumnious tongues of men might extenuate the good opinion you had of his worth and merit, I must ingenuously confess that my selfe and others of his servants were the occasion of exhaling his vertues into a darke exlipse; which God knowes would[Pg 172] have long endured both for the honour of his King and the good of the Commonaltie; had not we whom his bountie nursed, laid on his guiltlesse shoulders our base and execrable deeds to be scand and censured by the whole senate of a state, where no sooner sentence was given, but most of us forsoke him, which makes us bear the badge of Jewes to this day. Yet I am confident there were some Godly Daniels amongst us.... As for myselfe, with shame I must acquit the title, and pleade guilty; which grieves my very soule, that so matchlesse a Peer should be lost by such insinuating caterpillars, who in his owne nature scorn'd the least thought of any base, unworthy, or ignoble act, though subject to infirmites as ordained to the wisest."

In Fuller's "Worthies" it is written:

"He was a rich Cabinet filled with Judgment, Wit, Fancy and Memory, and had the golden Key, Elocution, to open it. He was singular in singulis, in every Science and Art, and being In-at-all came off with Credit. He was too Bountifull to his Servants, and either too confident of their Honesty, or too conniving at their Falsehood. 'Tis said he had 2 Servants, one in all Causes Patron to the Plaintiff, the other to the Defendant, but taking bribes of both, with this Condition, to restore the Mony received, if the Cause went against them. Such practices, tho' unknown to their Master, cost him the loss of his Office."

In "The Lives of Statesmen and Favourites of Elizabeth's Reign" it is said:—

"His religion was rational and sober, his spirit publick, his love to relations tender, to Friends faithful, to the hopeful liberal, to men universal, to his very Enemies civil. He left the best pattern of Government in his actions under one king and the best principles of it in the Life of the other."

[Pg 173]

The following is a translation from the discourse on the life of Mr. Francis Bacon which is prefixed to the "Histoire Naturelle," by Piere Amboise, published in Paris in 1631:

"Among so many virtues that made this great man commendable, prudence, as the first of all the moral virtues, and that most necessary to those of his profession, was that which shone in him the most brightly. His profound wisdom can be most readily seen in his books, and his matchless fidelity in the signal services that he continuously rendered to his Prince. Never was there man who so loved equity, or so enthusiastically worked for the public good as he; so that I may aver that he would have been much better suited to a Republic than to a Monarchy, where frequently the convenience of the Prince is more thought of than that of his people. And I do not doubt that had he lived in a Republic he would have acquired as much glory from the citizens as formerly did Aristides and Cato, the one in Athens, the other in Rome. Innocence oppressed found always in his protection a sure refuge, and the position of the great gave them no vantage ground before the Chancellor when suing for justice.

"Vanity, avarice, and ambition, vices that too often attach themselves to great honours, were to him quite unknown, and if he did a good action it was not from the desire of fame, but simply because he could not do otherwise. His good qualities were entirely pure, without being clouded by the admixture of any imperfections, and the passions that form usually the defects in great men in him only served to bring out his virtues; if he felt hatred and rage it was only against evil-doers, to shew his detestation of their crimes, and success or failure in the affairs of his country brought to him the greater part of his joys or his sorrows. He was as truly a good man as he was an upright judge, and by the example of his life corrected vice and bad living as[Pg 174] much as by pains and penalties. And, in a word, it seemed that Nature had exempted from the ordinary frailities of men him whom she had marked out to deal with their crimes. All these good qualities made him the darling of the people and prized by the great ones of the State. But when it seemed that nothing could destroy his position, Fortune made clear that she did not yet wish to abandon her character for instability, and that Bacon had too much worth to remain so long prosperous. It thus came about that amongst the great number of officials such as a man of his position must have in his house, there was one who was accused before Parliament of exaction, and of having sold the influence that he might have with his master. And though the probity of Mr. Bacon was entirely exempt from censure, nevertheless he was declared guilty of the crime of his servant and was deprived of the power that he had so long exercised with so much honour and glory. In this I see the working of monstrous ingratitude and unparalleled cruelty—to say that a man who could mark the years of his life rather by the signal services that he had rendered to the State than by times or seasons, should have received such hard usage for the punishment of a crime which he never committed; England, indeed, teaches us by this that the sea that surrounds her shores imparts to her inhabitants somewhat of its restless inconstancy. This storm did not at all surprise him, and he received the news of his disgrace with a countenance so undisturbed that it was easy to see that he thought but little of the sweets of life since the loss of them caused him discomfort so slight." Thus ended this great man whom England could place alone as the equal of the best of all the previous centuries."

Peter Boener, who was private apothecary to Bacon for a time, wrote in 1647 a Life, of portions of which the following are translations:—

[Pg 175]

"But how runneth man's future. He who seemed to occupy the highest rank is alas! by envious tongues near King and Parliament deposed from all his offices and chancellorship, little considering what treasure was being cast in the mire, as afterwards the issue and result thereof have shown in that country. But he always comforted himself with the words of Scripture—nihil est novi; that means 'there is nothing new.' Because so is Cicero by Octavianus; Calisthenes by Alexander; Seneca (all his former teachers) by Nero; yea, Ovid, Lucanus, Statius (together with many others), for a small cause very unthankfully the one banished, the other killed, the third thrown to the lions. But even as for such men banishment is freedom—death their life, so is for this author his deposition a memory to greater honour and fame, and to such a sage no harm can come.

"Whilst his fortunes were so changed, I never saw him—either in mien, word or acts—changed or disturbed towards whomsoever; ira enim hominis non implet justitiam Dei, he was ever one and the same, both in sorrow and in joy, as becometh a philosopher; always with a benevolent allocution—manus nostræ sunt oculatæ, credunt quod vident.... A noteworthy example and pattern for everyone of all virtue, gentleness, peacefulness, and patience."

Francis Osborn, in his "Advice to a Son," writes:—

"And my memory neither doth nor (I believe possible ever) can direct me towards an example more splendid in this kind, than the Lord Bacon Earl of St. Albans, who in all companies did appear a good Proficient, if not a Master in those Arts entertained for the Subject of every ones discourse. So as I dare maintain, without the least affectation of Flattery or Hyperbole, That his most casual talk deserveth to be written, As I have been[Pg 176] told his first or foulest Copys required no great Labour to render them competent for the nicest judgments. A high perfection, attainable only by use, and treating with every man in his respective profession, and what he was most vers'd in. So as I have heard him entertain a Country Lord in the proper terms relating to Hawks and Dogs. And at another time out-Cant a London Chirurgeon. Thus he did not only learn himself, but gratifie such as taught him; who looked upon their Callings as honoured through his Notice; Nor did an easie falling into Arguments (not unjustly taken for a blemish in the most) appear less than an ornament in Him: The ears of the hearers receiving more gratification, than trouble; And (so) no less sorry when he came to conclude, than displeased with any did interrupt him. Now this general Knowledge he had in all things, husbanded by his wit, and dignifi'd by so Majestical a carriage he was known to own, strook such an awful reverence in those he question'd, that they durst not conceal the most intrinsick part of their Mysteries from him, for fear of appearing Ignorant, or Saucy. All which rendered him no less Necessary, than admirable at the Council Table, where in reference to Impositions, Monopolies, &c. the meanest Manufacturers were an usual Argument: And, as I have heard, did in this Baffle, the Earl of Middlesex, that was born and bred a Citizen &c. Yet without any great (if at all) interrupting his other Studies, as is not hard to be Imagined of a quick Apprehension, in which he was Admirable."

[Pg 177]

Chapter XXIV.

It has been urged by critics that Bacon, whilst professing to take all knowledge for his province, ignored one-half of it—that half which was a knowledge of himself; that to him the external world was everything, the internal nothing. All that Nature revealed was external; nothing that was internal was of much importance.

It must be remembered that all that we have of Bacon's was written as he was passing into the "vale of life." Of his early productions nothing has come down to the present times under his own name. The following extracts from his acknowledged works establish two facts:—(1) That the foregoing criticism is unfounded, for he placed the study of man's mind and character above all other enquiries. (2) That he had prepared examples, being "actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind and the whole fabric and order of invention from the beginning to the end in certain subjects and those various and remarkable should be set, as it were, before the eyes." Where are these works to be found?

Bacon never tires of quoting from the Roman poet the line—

"Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci,"

which, in an Elizabethan handwriting, may be seen in a contemporary volume thus rendered—

"He of all others fittest is to write
Which with some profit allso ioynes delight."

[Pg 178]

He repeats in different forms, until the reiteration becomes almost tedious, the following incident:—

"And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say, of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to marke up their lodgings not with weapons to fight; so we like better, that entry of truth, which comes peaceably where the Mindes of men, capable to lodge so great a guest, are signed, as it were, with chalke; than that which comes with Pugnacity, and forceth itselfe a way by contentions and controversies."

The same idea is embodied in the following example of the antitheta:—

"A witty conceit is oftentimes a convoy of a Truth which otherwise could not so handsomely have been ferried over."

In the "Advancement of Learning," Lib. II., again the same view is insisted on:—

"Besides in all wise humane Government, they that sit at the helme, doe more happily bring their purposes about, and insinuate more easily things fit for the people, by pretexts, and oblique courses; than by downe-right dealing. Nay (which perchance may seem very strange) in things meerely naturall, you may sooner deceive nature, than force her; so improper, and selfe impeaching are open direct proceedings; whereas on the other side, an oblique and an insinuing way, gently glides along and compasseth the intended effect."

One other fact must be realised before the full import of the quotations about to be made can be appreciated. In the "Distributio Operis" prefixed to the "Novum Organum" the following significant passage occurs[55]:—

[Pg 179]

"For as often as I have occasion to report anything as deficient, the nature of which is at all obscure, so that men may not perhaps easily understand what I mean or what the work is which I have in my head, I shall always (provided it be a matter of any worth) take care to subjoin either directions for the execution of such work, or else a portion of the work itself executed by myself as a sample of the whole: thus giving assistance in every case either by work or by counsel."

In the "Advancement of Learning," Book II., chap. i., it is written:

"That is the truest Partition of humane Learning, which hath reference to the three Faculties of Man's soule, which is the feat of Learning. History is referred to Memory, Poesy to the Imagination, Philosophy to Reason. By Poesy, in this place, we understand nothing else, but feigned History, or Fables. As for Verse, that is only a style of expression, and pertaines to the Art of Elocution, of which in due place."

"Poesy, in that sense we have expounded it, is likewise of Individuals, fancied to the similitude of those things which in true History are recorded, yet so as often it exceeds measure; and those things which in Nature would never meet, nor come to passe, Poesy composeth and introduceth at pleasure, even as Painting doth: which indeed is the work of the Imagination."

And in the same book, Chapter XIII.:—

"Drammaticall, or Representative Poesy, which brings the World upon the stage, is of excellent use, if it were not abused. For the Instructions, and Corruptions, of the Stage, may be great; but the corruptions in this kind abound, the Discipline is altogether neglected in our times. For although in moderne Commonwealths, Stage-plaies be but estimed a sport or pastime, unlesse it draw from the Satyre, and be mordant; yet the care of the Ancients was, that it should[Pg 180] instruct the minds of men unto virtue. Nay, wise men and great Philosophers, have accounted it, as the Archet, or musicall Bow of the Mind. And certainly it is most true, and as it were, a secret of nature, that the minds of men are more patent to affections, and impressions, Congregate, than solitary."

The third chapter of Book VII. of the "De Augmentis" is devoted to emphasising the importance of a knowledge of the internal working of the mind and of the disposition and character of men. The following extracts are of special moment:—

"Some are naturally formed for contemplation, others for business, others for war, others for advancement of fortune, others for love, others for the arts, others for a varied kind of life; so among the poets (heroic, satiric, tragic, comic) are everywhere interspersed, representations of characters, though generally exaggerated and surpassing the truth. And this argument touching the different characters of dispositions is one of those subjects in which the common discourse of men (as sometimes, though very rarely, happens) is wiser than books."

The drama as the only vehicle through which this can be accomplished at once suggests itself to the reader. But in order to emphasize this point he proceeds—

"But far the best provision and material for this treatise is to be gained from the wiser sort of historians, not only from the commemorations which they commonly add on recording the deaths of illustrious persons, but much more from the entire body of history as often as such a person enters upon the stage."

Bacon becomes still more explicit. He continues:—

"Wherefore out of these materials (which are surely rich and abundant) let a full and careful treatise be[Pg 181] constructed. Not, however, that I would have their characters presented in ethics (as we find them in history, or poetry, or even in common discourse) in the shape of complete individual portraits, but rather the several features and simple lineaments of which they are composed, and by the various combinations and arrangements of which all characters whatever are made up, showing how many, and of what nature these are, and how connected and subordinated one to another; that so we may have a scientific and accurate dissection of minds and characters, and the secret dispositions of particular men may be revealed; and that from a knowledge thereof better rules may be framed for the treatment of the mind. And not only should the characters of dispositions which are impressed by nature be received into this treatise, but those also which are imposed upon the mind by sex, by age, by region, by health and sickness, by beauty and deformity and the like; and again, those which are caused by fortune, as sovereignty, nobility, obscure birth, riches, want, magistracy, privateness, prosperity, adversity and the like."

Shortly after follows this remarkable pronouncement.

"But to speak the truth the poets and writers of history are the best doctors of this knowledge,[56] where we may find painted forth with great life and dissected, how affections are kindled and excited, and how pacified and restrained, and how again contained from act and further degree; how they disclose themselves, though repressed and concealed; how they work; how they vary; how they are enwrapped one within another; how they fight and encounter one with another; and many more particulars of this kind; amongst which this last is of special use in moral and civil matters; how, I say, to set affection against affection, and to use the aid of [Pg 182]one to master another; like hunters and fowlers who use to hunt beast with beast, and catch bird with bird, which otherwise perhaps without their aid man of himself could not so easily contrive; upon which foundation is erected that excellent and general use in civil government of reward and punishment, whereon commonwealths lean; seeing these predominant affections of fear and hope suppress and bridle all the rest. For as in the government of States it is sometimes necessary to bridle one faction with another, so is it in the internal government of the mind."

In his "Distributio Operis" Bacon thus describes the missing fourth part of his "Instauratio Magna":—

"Of these the first is to set forth examples of inquiry and invention[57] according to my method exhibited by anticipation in some particular subjects; choosing such subjects as are at once the most noble in themselves among those under enquiry, and most different one from another, that there may be an example in every kind. I do not speak of these precepts and rules by way of illustration (for of these I have given plenty in the second part of the work); but I mean actual types and models, by which the entire process of the mind and the whole fabric and order of invention from the beginning to the end in certain subjects, and those various and remarkable, should be set as it were before the eyes. For I remember that in the mathematics it is easy to follow the demonstration when you have a machine beside you, whereas, without that help, all appears involved and more subtle than it really is. To examples of this kind—being, in fact, nothing more than an application of the second part in detail and at large—the fourth part of the work is devoted."

The late Mr. Edwin Reed has, in his "Francis Bacon[Pg 183] our Shakespeare," page 126, drawn attention to a remarkable circumstance. In 1607 Bacon had written his "Cogitata et Visa," which was the forerunner of his "Novum Organum." It was not published until twenty-seven years after his death, namely, in 1653, by Isaac Gruter, at Leyden. In 1857 Mr. Spedding found a manuscript copy of the "Cogitata" in the library of Queen's College at Oxford. This manuscript had been corrected in Bacon's own handwriting. It contained passages which were omitted from Gruter's print. Spedding did not realise the importance of the omitted passages, but Mr. Edwin Reed has made this manifest. The following extract is specially noteworthy, the portion printed in italics having been omitted by Gruter:—

"... So he thought best, after long considering the subject and weighing it carefully, first of all to prepare Tabulæ Inveniendi or regular forms of inquiry; in other words, a mass of particulars arranged for the understanding, and to serve, as it were, for an example and almost visible representation of the matter. For nothing else can be devised that would place in a clearer light what is true and what is false, or show more plainly that what is presented is more than words, and must be avoided by anyone who either has no confidence in his own scheme or may wish to have his scheme taken for more than it is worth.

"But when these Tabulæ Inveniendi have been put forth and seen, he does not doubt that the more timid wits will shrink almost in despair from imitating them with similar productions with other materials or on other subjects; and they will take so much delight in the specimen given that they will miss the precepts in it. Still, many persons will be led to inquire into the real meaning and highest use of these writings, and to find the key to their interpretation, and thus more ardently desire, in some degree at least, to acquire the new aspect of nature which[Pg 184] such a key will reveal. But he intends, yielding neither to his own personal aspirations nor to the wishes of others, but keeping steadily in view the success of his undertaking, having shared these writings with some, to withhold the rest until the treatise intended for the people shall be published."

Now what conclusions may be drawn from the foregoing extracts? Bacon attached the greatest importance to the consideration of the internal life of man. He affirms that dramaticall or representative poesy, which brings the world upon the stage, is of excellent use if it be not abused. The discipline of the stage was neglected in his time, but the care of the ancients was that it should instruct the minds of men unto virtue, and wise men and great philosophers accounted it as the musical bow of the mind. He has devoted the fourth part of his "Instauratio Magna" to setting forth examples of inquiry and invention, choosing such subjects as are at once the most noble in themselves and the most different one from another, that there may be an example in every kind. He is not speaking of precepts and rules by way of interpretation, but actual types and models by which the entire process of the mind, and the whole fabric and order of invention, should be set, as it were, before the eyes.

Not only should the characters of dispositions which are impressed by nature be received into this treatise, but those also which are imposed upon the mind by sex, by age, by region, by health and sickness, by beauty and deformity, and the like; and, again, those that are caused by fortune, as sovereignty, nobility, obscure birth, riches, want, magistracy, privateness, prosperity, adversity, and the like.

The fourth part of Bacon's "Great Instauration" is missing. The above requirements are met in the Shakespeare plays. Could the dramas be more accurately described than in the foregoing extracts?[Pg 185]

From a study of the plays let a list be made out of the qualifications which the author must have possessed. It will be found that the only person in whom every qualification will be found who has lived in any age of any country was Francis Bacon. Any investigator who will devote the time and trouble requisite for an exhaustive examination of the subject can come to no other conclusion.

One cannot without feeling deep regret recognise that we have to turn to a foreigner to give "reasons for the faith which we English have in Shakespeare." It was a German, Schlegel, who discovered the great dramatist, and to-day we must turn to his "Lectures on the Drama" for the most penetrating description of his plays. The following is a translation of a passage which in describing the plays almost adopts the words Bacon uses in the foregoing passages as to the scope and object of the fourth part of his "Great Instauration."

"Never, perhaps, was there so comprehensive a talent for the delineation of character as Shakespeare's. It not only grasps the diversities of rank, sex, and age, down to the dawnings of infancy; not only do the king and the beggar, the hero and the pickpocket, the sage and the idiot speak and act with equal truth; not only does he transport himself to distant ages and foreign nations, and portray in the most accurate manner, with only a few apparent violations of costume, the spirit of the ancient Romans, of the French in their wars with the English, of the English themselves during a great part of their history, of the Southern Europeans (in the serious part of many comedies), the cultivated society of that time, and the former rude and barbarous state of the North; his human characters have not only such depth and precision that they cannot be arranged under classes, and are inexhaustible, even in conception; no, this Prometheus not merely forms men, he opens the[Pg 186] gates of the magical world of spirits, calls up the midnight ghost, exhibits before us his witches amidst their unhallowed mysteries, peoples the air with sportive fairies and sylphs; and these beings, existing only in imagination, possess such truth and consistency that even when deformed monsters like Caliban, he extorts the conviction that if there should be such beings they would so conduct themselves. In a word, as he carries with him the most fruitful and daring fancy into the kingdom of nature; on the other hand, he carries nature into the regions of fancy, lying beyond the confines of reality. We are lost in astonishment at seeing the extraordinary, the wonderful, and the unheard of in such intimate nearness."

"If Shakespeare deserves our admiration for his characters he is equally deserving of it for his exhibition of passion, taking this word in its widest signification, as including every mental condition, every tone from indifference or familiar mirth to the wildest rage and despair. He gives us the history of minds, he lays open to us in a single word a whole series of preceding conditions. His passions do not at first stand displayed to us in all their height, as is the case with so many tragic poets who, in the language of Lessing, are thorough masters of the legal style of love. He paints, in a most inimitable manner, the gradual progress from the first origin. 'He gives,' as Lessing says, 'a living picture of all the most minute and secret artifices by which a feeling steals into our souls; of all the imperceptible advantages which it there gains, of all the stratagems by which every other passion is made subservient to it, till it becomes the sole tyrant of our desires and our aversions.' Of all poets, perhaps, he alone has portrayed the mental diseases—melancholy, delirium, lunacy—with such inexpressible, and in every respect definite truth, that the physician may enrich his observations from them in the same manner as from real cases."

[Pg 187]

Chapter XXV.

To attempt anything of the nature of a review of Bacon's acknowledged works is a task far too great for the scope of the present volume. To attempt a survey of the whole of his works would require years of diligent study, and would necessitate a perusal of nearly every book published in England between 1576 and 1630. Not that it is suggested that all the literature of this period was the product of his pen or was produced under his supervision, but each book published should be read and considered with attention to arrive at a selection.

There has been no abler judgment of the acknowledged works than that which will be found in William Hazlitt's "Lectures on the Literature of the Age of Elizabeth." Lecture VII. commences with an account of the "Character of Bacon's Works."

It may not, however, be out of place here to try and make plain in what sense Bacon was a philosopher.

In Chapter CXVI. of the "Novum Organum" he makes his position clear in the following words:—

"First then I must request men not to suppose that after the fashion of ancient Greeks, and of certain moderns, as Telesius, Patricius, Severinus, I wish to found a new sect in philosophy. For this is not what I am about; nor do I think that it matters much to the fortunes of men what abstract notions one may entertain concerning nature and the principles of things; and no doubt many old theories of this kind can be revived, and many new ones introduced; just as many theories of the heavens may be supposed which agree[Pg 188] well enough with the phenomena and yet differ with each other.

"For my part, I do not trouble myself with any such speculative and withal unprofitable matters. My purpose on the contrary, is to try whether I cannot in very fact lay more firmly the foundations and extend more widely the limits of the power and greatness of man ... I have no entire or universal theory to propound."

So the idea that there was what is termed a system of philosophy constructed by Bacon must be abandoned. What justification is there for calling him the father of the Inductive Philosophy?

It is difficult to answer this question. Spedding admits that Bacon was not the first to break down the dominion of Aristotle. That followed the awakening throughout the intellectual world which was brought about by the Reformation and the revival of learning. Sir John Herschel justifies the application to Bacon of the term "The great Reformer of Philosophy" not on the ground that he introduced inductive reasoning, but because of his "keen perception and his broad and spirit-stirring, almost enthusiastic announcement of its paramount importance, as the Alpha and Omega of science, as the grand and only chain for linking together of physical truths and the eventual key to every discovery and application."

Bacon was 60 years of age when his "Novum Organum" was published. It was founded on a tract he had written in 1607, which he called "Cogitata et Visa," not printed until long after his death. He had previously published a portion of his Essays, the two books on "The Advancement of Learning" and "The Wisdom of the Ancients." Just at the end of his life he gave to the world the "Novum Organum," accompanied by "The Parasceve." Certainly it was not understood in his time. Coke described it as only fit to freight the Ship of[Pg 189] Fools, and the King likened it "to the peace of God which passeth all understanding." It is admittedly incomplete, and Bacon made no attempt in subsequent years to complete it. It is a book that if read and re-read becomes fascinating. Taine describes it as "a string of aphorisms, a collection as it were of scientific decrees as of an oracle who foresees the future and reveals the truth." "It is intuition not reasoning," he adds. The wisdom contained in its pages is profound. An understanding of the interpretation of the Idols and the Instances has so far evaded all commentators. Who can explain the "Latent Process"? But the book contains no scheme of arrangement. Therein is found a series of desultory discourses—full of wisdom, rich in analogies, abundant in observation and profound in comprehension. From here and there in it with the help of the "Parasceve" one can grasp the intention of the great philosopher.

In Chapter LXI. he says:—"But the course I propose for the discovery of sciences is such as leaves but little to the acuteness and strength of wits, but places all wits and understandings on a level." How was this to be accomplished? By the systemization of labour expended on scientific research. A catalogue of the particulars of histories which were to be prepared is appended to the "Parasceve." It embraces every subject conceivable. In Chapter CXI. he says, "I plainly confess that a collection of history, natural and experimental, such as I conceive it, and as it ought to be, is a great, I may say a royal work, and of much labour and expense."

In the "Parasceve" he says:—"If all the wits of all the ages had met or shall hereafter meet together; if the whole human race had applied or shall hereafter apply themselves to philosophy, and the whole earth had been or shall be nothing but academies and colleges and schools of learned men; still without a natural and[Pg 190] experimental history such as I am going to prescribe, no progress worthy of the human race could have been made or can be made in philosophy and the sciences. Whereas on the other hand let such a history be once provided and well set forth and let there be added to it such auxiliary and light-giving experiments as in the very course of interpretation will present themselves or will have to be found out; and the investigation of nature and of all sciences will be the work of a few years. This therefore must be done or the business given up."

To carry out this work an army of workers was required. In the preparation of each history some were to make a rough and general collection of facts. Their work was to be handed over to others who would arrange the facts in order for reference. This accomplished, others would examine to get rid of superfluities. Then would be brought in those who would re-arrange that which was left and the history would be completed.

From Chapter CIII. it is clear that Bacon contemplated that eventually all the experiments of all the arts, collected and digested, should be brought within one man's knowledge and judgment. This man, having a supreme view of the whole range of subjects, would transfer experiments of one art to another and so lead "to the discovery of many new things of service to the life and state of man."

Nearly three hundred years have passed since Bacon propounded his scheme. The arts and sciences have been greatly advanced. They might have proceeded more rapidly had the histories been prepared, but since his time there has arisen no man who has taken "all knowledge to be his province"—no man who could occupy the position Bacon contemplated.

The method by which the induction was to be followed is described in Chapter CV. There must be an[Pg 191] analysis of nature by proper rejections and exclusions, and then, after a sufficient number of negatives, a conclusion should be arrived at from the affirmative instances. "It is in this induction," Bacon adds, "that our chief hope lies."

Bacon's new organ has never been constructed, and all wits and understandings have not yet been placed on a level.

We come back to the mystery of Francis Bacon, the possessor of the most exquisite intellect that was ever bestowed on any of the children of men. As an historian, he gives us a taste of his quality in "Henry VII." In the Essays and the "Novum Organum," sayings which have the effect of axioms are at once striking and self-evident. But he is always desultory. In perceiving analogies between things which have nothing in common he never had an equal, and this characteristic, to quote Macaulay, "occasionally obtained the mastery over all his other faculties and led him into absurdities into which no dull man could have fallen." His memory was so stored with materials, and these so diverse, that in similitude or with comparison he passed from subject to subject. In the "Advancement of Learning" are enumerated the deficiencies which Bacon observed, nearly the whole of which were supplied during his lifetime.

The "Sylva Sylvarum" is the most extraordinary jumble of facts and observations that has ever been brought together. It is a literary curiosity. The "New Atlantis" and other short works in quantity amount to very little. Bacon's life has hitherto remained unaccounted for. In the foregoing pages an attempt has been made to offer an intelligible explanation of the work to which he devoted his life, namely, to supply the deficiencies which he had himself pointed out and which retarded the advancement of learning.[Pg 192]

Hallam has said of Bacon: "If we compare what may be found in the sixth, seventh, and eighth books of the 'De Augmentis,' and the various short treatises contained in his works on moral and political wisdom and on human nature, with the rhetoric, ethics, and politics of Aristotle, or with the historians most celebrated for their deep insight into civil society and human character—with Thucydides, Tacitus, Phillipe de Comines, Machiavel, David Hume—we shall, I think, find that one man may almost be compared with all of these together."

Pope wrote: "Lord Bacon was the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any other country, ever produced." If an examination, more thorough than has hitherto been made, of the records and literature of his age establishes beyond doubt the truth of the suggestions which have now been put forward, what more can be said? This at any rate, that to him shall be given that title to which he aspired and for which he was willing to renounce his own name. He shall be called "The Benefactor of Mankind."

[Pg 193]


Sir Thomas Bodley left behind him a short history of his life which is of a fragmentary description. One-fourth of it is devoted to a record of how much he suffered in permitting Essex to urge his advancement in the State. The following is the passage:—

"Now here I can not choose but in making report of the principall accidents that have fallen unto me in the course of my life, but record among the rest, that from the very first day I had no man more to friend among the Lords of the Councell, than was the Lord Treasurer Burleigh: for when occasion had beene offered of declaring his conceit as touching my service, he would alwaies tell the Queen (which I received from her selfe and some other ear-witnesses) that there was not any man in England so meet as myselfe to undergoe the office of the Secretary. And sithence his sonne, the present Lord Treasurer, hath signified unto me in private conference, that when his father first intended to advance him to that place, his purpose was withall to make me his Colleague. But the case stood thus in my behalf: before such time as I returned from the Provinces united, which was in the yeare 1597, and likewise after my returne, the then Earle of Essex did use me so kindly both by letters and messages, and other great tokens of his inward favours to me, that although I had no meaning, but to settle in my mind my chiefest desire and dependance upon the Lord Burleigh, as one that I reputed to be both the best able, and therewithall the most willing to worke my advancement with the Queene, yet I know not how, the Earle, who fought by all devices to divert her love and liking[Pg 194] both from the Father and the Son (but from the Sonne in speciall) to withdraw my affection from the one and the other, and to winne mee altogether to depend upon himselfe, did so often take occasion to entertaine the Queene with some prodigall speeches of my sufficiency for a Secretary, which were ever accompanied with words of disgrace against the present Lord Treasurer, as neither she her selfe, of whose favour before I was thoroughly assured, took any great pleasure to preferre 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 Sonne waxed jealous of my courses, as if under hand I had beene induced by the cunning and kindnesse of the Earle of Essex, to oppose my selfe against their dealings. And though in very truth they had no solid ground at all of the least alteration in my disposition towards either of them both, (for I did greatly respect their persons and places, with a settled resolution to doe them any service, as also in my heart I detested to be held of any faction whatsoever) yet the now Lord Treasurer, upon occasion of some talke, that I have since had with him, of the Earle and his actions, hath freely confessed of his owne accord unto me, that his daily provocations were so bitter and sharpe against him, and his comparisons so odious, when he put us in a ballance, as he thought thereupon he had very great reason to use his best meanes, to put any man out of hope of raising his fortune, whom the Earle with such violence, to his extreame prejudice, had endeavoured to dignifie. And this, as he affirmed, was all the motive he had to set himselfe against me, in whatsoever might redound to the bettering of my estate, or increasing of my credit and countenance with the Queene. When I hae thoroughly now bethought me, first in the Earle, of the slender hold-fast that he had in the favour of the Queene, of an endlesse opposition of the cheifest of our States[Pg 195]men like still to waite upon him, of his perillous, and feeble, and uncertain advice, as well in his owne, as in all the causes of his friends: and when moreover for my selfe I had fully considered how very untowardly these two Counsellours were affected unto me, (upon whom before in cogitation I had framed all the fabrique of my future prosperity) how ill it did concurre with my naturall disposition, to become, or to be counted either a stickler or partaker in any publique faction, how well I was able, by God's good blessing, to live of my selfe, if I could be content with a competent livelyhood; how short time of further life I was then to expect by the common course of nature: when I had, I say, in this manner represented to my thoughts my particular estate, together with the Earles, I resolved thereupon to possesse my soule in peace all the residue of my daies, to take my full farewell of State imployments, to satisfie my mind with that mediocrity of worldly living that I had of my owne, and so to retire me from the Court, which was the epilogue and end of all my actions and endeavours of any important note, till I came to the age of fifty-three."

The experience of Bodley and Bacon appears to have been identical. It certainly materially strengthens the case of those who contend that Bacon's conduct to Essex was not deserving of censure on the ground of ingratitude for favours received from him.

The words which Robert Cecil addressed to Bodley, namely, that "he had very great reason to use his best meanes, to put any man out of hope of raising his fortune whom the Earle with such violence, to his extreame prejudice had endeavoured to dignifie," would with equal force have been applied to Bacon's case. The drift of Bodley's account of the matter points to his feeling that Essex's conduct had not been of a disinterested character, and suggests that he felt the Earle had been making a tool of him.[Pg 196]

The effect of this was that Bodley adopted the course which Bacon threatened to adopt when refused the office of Attorney-General, solicited for him by Essex—he took a farewell of State employments and retired from the Court to devote himself to the service of his "Reverend Mother, the University of Oxford," and to the advancement of her good. To this end he became a collector of books, whereas Bacon would have become "some sorry book-maker or a true pioner in that mine of truth which Anaxagoras said lay so deep."


[Pg 197]

Figure VI. Figure VI.


Figure VII. Figure VII.


[Pg 198]

Figure VIII. Figure VIII.


Figure IX. Figure IX.


Figure XX. Figure XX.


[Pg 199]



[Pg 200]

Figure X. Figure X.


Figure XV. Figure XV.


Figure XI. Figure XI.


Figure XII. Figure XII.


[Pg 201]

Figure XXI. Figure XXI.


[Pg 202]

Figure XVI. Figure XVI.


Figure XVII. Figure XVII.


[Pg 203]

Figure XVIII. Figure XVIII.


Figure XIX. Figure XIX.



[1] Attention is drawn to one of the inaccuracies in "An Introduction to Mathematics," by A. W. Whithead, Sc.D., F.R.S., published in the Home University Library of Modern Knowledge. The author says: "Macaulay in his essay on Bacon contrasts the certainty of mathematics with the uncertainty of philosophy, and by way of a rhetorical example he says, 'There has been no re-action against Taylor's theorem.' He could not have chosen a worse example. For, without having made an examination of English text-books on mathematics contemporary with the publication of this essay, the assumption is a fairly safe one that Taylor's theorem was enunciated and proved wrongly in every one of them."

[2] There are copies of this work bearing date 1626, the year in which Bacon died.

[3] The concluding paragraph of the Epistle to the Reader is as follows: "It's easily imaginable how unconcerned I am as to the fate of this Book either in the History, or the Observations, since I have been so faithful in the first, that it is not my own, but the Historians; and so careful in the second that they are not mine, but the Histories."

[4] "Life and Letters," Vol. VII., page 552.

[5] Lloyd states that this occurred when he was seven years of age.

[6] "The Lives of Statesmen and Favourites of Elizabeth."

[7] Dr. Whitgift was a man of strong moral rectitude, yet in 1593 he became one of its sponsors on the publication of "Venus and Adonis."

[8] It was to Sir Amias that the custody of Mary Queen of Scots was committed.

[9] In the "Gesta Grayorum" one of the articles which the Knights of the Helmet were required to vow to keep, each kissing his helmet as he took his vow, was "Item—every Knight of this Order shall endeavour to add conference and experiment to reading; and therefore shall not only read and peruse 'Guizo,' 'The French Academy,' 'Galiatto the Courtier,' 'Plutarch,' 'The Arcadia,' and the Neoterical writers from time to time," etc. The "Gesta Grayorum," which was written in 1594, was not published until 1687. The manuscript was probably incorrectly read as to the titles of the books. "Galiatto," apparently, should be "Galateo," described in a letter of Gabriel Harvey as "The Italian Archbishop brave Galateo." The "Courtier" is the Italian work by Castiglione which was Englished by Sir Thomas Hoby. "Guizo" should be "Guazzo." Stefano Guazzo's "Civil Conversation"—four books—was Englished by G. Pettie and Young.

[10] "Hit" is used by Chaucer as the past participle of "Hide." The name thus yields a suggestive anagram, "Bacohit."

[11] 1618 Edition, page 712.

[12] In addition to this and to the "Gesta Grayorum" (1692) I have only been able to find two references to "The French Academy" in the works of English writers.

J. Payne Collier, in his "Poetical Decameron," Vol. II., page 271, draws attention to the epistle "to the Christian reader" prefixed to the second part, and suggests that the initials T.B. which occur at the end of the dedicatory epistle stand for Thomas Beard, the author of "Theatre of God's Judgments." Collier does not appear to have read "The French Academy." Dibdin, in "Notes on More's Utopia," says, "But I entreat the reader to examine (if he be fortunate enough to possess the book) "The French Academy of Primaudaye," a work written in a style of peculiarly impressive eloquence, and which, not very improbably, was the foundation of Derham's and Paley's "Natural Theology."

[13] "It being now forty years as I remember, since I composed a juvenile work on this subject which with great confidence and a magnificent title I named "The greatest birth of Time."

[14] The block was used on page 626 of the 1594 quarto edition of William Camden's "Britannia," published in London by George Bishop, who was the publisher of the 1586, 1589, and 1594 editions of "The French Academy." There is a marginal note at the foot of the imprint of the block commencing "R. Bacons." Francis Bacon is known to have assisted Camden in the preparation of this work. The manuscript bears evidence of the fact in his handwriting.

[15] One copy of this edition bears the date 1628.

[16] Probably Owen Felltham, author of "Felltham's Resolves."

[17] Sir Thomas Smith (1512-1577) was Secretary of State under Edward VI. and Elizabeth—a good scholar and philosopher. He, when Greek lecturer and orator at Cambridge, with John Cheke, introduced, in spite of strong opposition, the correct way of speaking Greek, restoring the pronunciation of the ancients.

[18] State Paper Office; French Correspondence.

[19] Spedding prints this in small type, being doubtful as to the authorship.

[20] That is, never held a brief.

[21] I am indebted to Mr. Harold Hardy for this interesting information. There is an entry in the State Papers, 1608, Jan. 31: Grant at the suit of Sir Francis Bacon to Sir William Cooke, Sir John Constable, and three others, of the King's reversion of the estates in Herts above referred to. Sir Nicholas, to whom it had descended from the Lord Keeper, conveyed the remainder to Queen Elizabeth her heirs and successors "with the condition that if he paid £100 the grant should be void, which was apparently done to prevent the said Sir Francis to dispose of the same land which otherwise by law he might have done." When Lady Anne conveyed the Markes estate to Francis it was subject to a similar condition, namely, that the grant was to be null and void on Lady Ann paying ten shillings to Francis. This condition made it impossible for Francis to dispose of his interest in the estate, hence Anthony's request in the letter above referred to. It is obvious that his relatives considered that Francis was not to be trusted with property which he could turn into money. There was evidently some heavy strain on his resources which caused him to convert everything he could into cash.

[22] "Story of Lord Bacon's Life." Hepworth Dixon, p. 28.

[23] The two letters of 16th September, 1580, and that of 15th October, 1580, are taken from copies in the Lansdowne collection. That of the 6th May, 1586, is in the same collection, and is an original in Bacon's handwriting. The letter of 25th August, 1585, is also in his handwriting, and is in the State Papers, Domestic. The letter without date, written to Burghley presumably in 1591, is from the supplement to the "Resuscitatio," 1657.

[24] "Life and Letters," Vol. I. p. 57.

[25] This was Sir Christopher Hatton.

[26] "Life and Letters," Vol I. p. 59.

[27] Cott. MSS. Tit. CX. 93.

[28] "Life and Letters," Vol. I., p. 110.

[29] "Life and Letters," Vol. I., page 16.

[30] There is a copy bearing date 1626.

[31] "John Dee," by Charlotte Fell Smith, 1909. Constable and Co., Ltd.

[32] See page 31.

[33] "Of the Advancement of Learning," 1640, page 312.

[34] "Of the Advancement of Learning," 1640, pages 115, 116.

[35] 33 is the numerical value of the name "Bacon." The stop preceding it denotes cypher.

[36] Vautrollier was a scholar and printer who came to England from Paris or Roan about the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, and first commenced business in Blackfriars. In 1584 he printed Jordanus Brunus, for which he was compelled to fly. In the next year he was in Edinburgh, where, by his help, Scottish printing was greatly improved. Eventually his pardon was procured by powerful friends, amongst whom was Thomas Randolph. In 1588 Richard Field, who was apprenticed to Vautrollier, married Jakin, his daughter, and on his death in 1589 succeeded to the business.

[37] Harl. MSS., 537, pp. 26 and 71; additional MSS., 4,263, p. 144; Harl. MSS., 6,401; Harl. MSS., 6,854, p. 203; Cambridge Univ. Lib., Mm. V. 5; Cotton MSS., Tit., Chap. VII., p. 50 b; Harl. MSS., 859, p. 40; Cotton MSS., Jul., F. VI., p. 158.

[38] See page 72.

[39] See pages 70, 72.

[40] See Appendix.


If you, O Mildred, will take care to send back to me him whom I desire,
You will be my good, my more than good, my only sister;
But if, unfortunately, by doing nothing you keep him back and send him across the sea,
You will be bad, more than bad, nay no sister at all of mine.
If he comes to Cornwall, peace and all joys be with you,
But if he goes by sea to Sicily I declare war. Farewell.

[42] One note on this book contains an interesting historical fact hitherto unknown. On page 279 the text states: "Among the Conspirators was Nicholo Fedini whom they employed as Chauncellor, he persuaded with a hope more certaine, revealed to Piero, all the practice argreed by his enemies, and delivered him a note of all their names." Bacon has made the following note in the margin: "Ex (i.e., Essex) did the like in England which he burnt at Shirfr Smiths house in fenchurch Street."

[43] "A Life of Shakespeare," 1589, 2nd Edition, p. 308.

[44] Plates Nos. VI. to XXI. will be found after the Appendix.

[45] In the "Advancement of Learning" Bacon says that Demosthenes went so far in regard to the great force that the entrance and access into a cause had to make a good impression that he kept in readiness a stock of prefaces.

[46] Bernard Quaritch, 1905.

[47] See page 105.

[48] Sonnet No. 2.

[49] 'Tis thee myselfe, Sonnet 62.

[50] See Rawley's Introduction to "Manes Verulamiana."

[51] The expression "sugr'd Sonnets" refers to verses which were written with coloured ink to which sugar had been added. When dry the writing shone brightly.

[52] Edwin A. Abbot, in his work, "Francis Bacon," p. 447, writes, "Bacon's style (as a writer) varied almost as much as his handwriting."

[53] "Advancement of Learning," II. "De Augment. Scient.," VII. 3.

[54] "Advancement of Learning," II. For the whole passage compare "De Augment. Scient.," VII. 3.

[55] A Translation by Spedding, "Works," Vol. IV., p. 23.

[56] The knowledge touching the affections and perturbations which are the diseases of the mind.

[57] Tabulæ inveniendi.



1. Long "s" has been modernized.

2. Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest paragraph break.

3. Footnotes have been renumbered and moved to the end of the text in this HTML version.

4. The following misprints have been corrected:
        "obain" corrected to "obtain" (page 27)
        "Shakespere" corrected to "Shakespeare" (page 39)
        "Bodly" corrected to "Bodley" (page 85)
        "Shakepeare's" corrected to "Shakespeare's" (page 107)
        "commenceed" corrected to "commenced" (page 108)
        "Prœcepta" corrected to "Pręcepta" (page 135)
        "deficiences" corrected to "deficiencies" (page 191)
        "numercial" corrected to "numerical" (footnote 35)

5. Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been retained.

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