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THE LIFE OF
SIR FRANCIS BACON.
RANCIS BACON was the youngest fon of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord-keeper, and afterwards lord high-chancellor, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by his fecond wife, who was daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, preceptor to Edward VI. Sir Nicholas appears to have been a man of wit as well as integrity and learning; for, when the queen, in a vifit to him at his feat in Hertfordshire, told him, fhe thought his house too little for him; "No, madam,” replied he, "but your majefty has made me too great for my house." And his lady too was a woman of great learning, having tranflated from the Latin bishop Jewel's Apology for the Church of England.
Their youngest fon, Francis, was born at York-houfe, in the Strand, on the twenty-fecond of January, 1561; the brightness of whose parts began early to appear: infomuch that queen Elizabeth herself, while he was but a boy, took a particular delight in trying him with queftions; and received fo much fatiffaction from the good fenfe and manliness of his answers, that she was wont to call him, in mirth, her young lord-keeper. Among others, the having one day asked him, how old he E 6
was; he answered readily, "Juft two years younger than your majefty's happy reign."
His proficiency in learning was fo rapid, that, in the twelfth year of his age, he was entered a ftudent of Trinity college, Cambridge; and went through all his courfes there by the time he was fixteen; when his father fent him to Paris, and recommended him to Sir Amias Powlet, then the queen's ambasfador in France, who took particular notice of him.
Whilft abroad, he did not fpend his time, as our young gentlemen ufually do, in learn. ing the vices, fopperies, and follies of foreigners; but in studying their conftitution of government and manners, and the characters and views of their princes and minifters; and, in the nineteenth year of his age, he wrote a paof obfervations on the then general state of Europe, which is ftill extant among his works.
On the twentieth of February, 1579, our young gentleman's father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, died, after having held the feals as keeper, or chancellor, for twenty years; but, as queen Elizabeth's reign was more remarkable for her minifters gaining honour than for their gaining riches, he left his fon Francis, who was the youngest of five, but a very small fortune; fo that he was obliged to betake himself to the profeffion of the law for a fubfiftence: for which purpose he entered himself of Gray's. Inn, and foon became fo eminent in that profeffion,
feffion, that, at the age of twenty-eight, he was appointed by queen Elizabeth her learned council extraordinary.
As Sir William Cecil, lord- treasurer to queen Elizabeth, afterwards lord Burleigh, had married our young gentleman's aunt, or mother's fifter, he frequently applied to him for fome place of credit and fervice in the ftate; but Sir William never got any thing for him, except the reverfion of the office of regifter to the Star-chamber, then reckoned worth one thousand fix hundred pounds a year, which did not fall to him till near twenty years afterwards; and, as he probably thought himfelf neglected by his uncle, he attached himself strongly to the earl of Effex; which of courfe made his uncle, and alfo his coufin, Sir Robert Cecil, his enemy; for, when the earl, a little before his fall, warmly follicited his being made follicitor-general, it was oppofed by his coufin, Sir Robert, who reprefented him to the queen as a man of mere fpeculation, and more likely to distract her affairs than to ferve her ufefully and with judgment: and, as the earl found he could not ferve him in this way, he gave him a re compence out of his own eftate, by making him a prefent of Twitenham-park and its garden of paradife.
Upon this unfortunate nobleman's fall, Mr. Bacon, as one of the queen's council, was employed by the crown, along with Sir Edward Coke, the attorney-general, to manage