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that stole away his daughter, which was the first ground of all that noise, as we said before. For a man may be compelled by manifest wrong beyond his patience; and the first breach of that quietness, which hath ever been kept since the beginning of our journey, was made by them that committed the theft. And for your laying the burden of your opposition upon the council, we meddle not with that question; but the opposition, which we justly find fault with you, was the refusal to sign a warrant for the father to the recovery of his child, clad with those circumstances, as is reported, of your slight carriage to Buckingham's mother, when she repaired to you upon so reasonable an errand. What farther opposition you made in that business, we leave it to the due trial in the own time. But whereas you would distinguish of times, pretending ignorance either of our meaning or his, when you made your opposition; that would have served for a reasonable excuse not to have furthered such a business, till you had been first employed in it: but that can serve for no excuse of crossing any thing, that so nearly concerned one, whom you profess such friendship unto. We will not speak of obligation; for surely we think, even in good manners, you had reason not to have crossed any thing, wherein you had heard his name used, till you had heard from him. For if you had willingly given your consent and hand to the recovery of the young gentlewoman; and then written both to us and to him what inconvenience appeared to you to be in such a match; that had been the part indeed of a true servant to us, and a true friend to him. But first to make an opposition; and then to give advice by way of friendship, is to make the plow go before the horse.
Thus leaving all the particulars of your carriage, in this business, to the own proper time, which is ever the discoverer of truth, we commend you to God. Given under our signet at Nantwich, in the fifteenth our reign of Great Britain, &c.
TO THE LORD KEEPER BACON (a).
IF your man had been addressed only to me, I should have been careful to have procured him a more speedy dispatch: but now you have found another way of address, I am excused; and since you are grown weary of employing me, I can be no otherwise in being employed. In this business of my brother's, that you overtrouble yourself with, I understand from London by some of my friends, that you have carried yourself with much scorn and neglect both toward myself and friends; which, if it prove true, I blame not you, but myself, who was ever
Your Lordship's assured friend,
TO THE LORD KEEPER.
I HAVE received your lordship's letter by your man; but having so lately imparted my mind to you in my former letters, I refer your lordship to those letters, without making a needless repetition, and rest Your Lordship's at command,
Ashton, the 25th of Aug. 1617.
To my honourable lord, Sir Francis Bacon, knight, lord keeper of the great seal of England.
SIR HENRY YELVERTON, ATTORNEY-GENERAL, TO THE LORD KEEPER BACON.
My most worthy and honourable Lord,
I DARE not think my journey lost, because I have with joy seen the face of my master, the king, though more clouded towards me than I looked for.
(a) From the collections of Robert Stephens, Esq. deceased.
Sir Edward Coke hath not forborne, by any engine, to heave at your honour, and at myself; and he works
by the weightiest instrument, the earl of Buckingham,
who, as I see, sets him as close to him as his shirt, the earl speaking in Sir Edward's praise, and, as it were, menacing in his spirit.
My lord, I emboldened myself to assay the temper of my lord of Buckingham to myself, and found it very fervent, misled by information, which yet I find he embraced as truth, and did nobly and plainly tell me, he would not secretly bite; but whosoever had any interest, or tasted of the opposition to his brother's marriage, he would as openly oppose them to their faces, and they should discern what favour he had, by the power he would use.
In the passage between him and me, I stood with much confidence upon these grounds.
First, that neither your lordship, nor myself had any way opposed, but many ways had furthered, the fair passage to the marriage.
Secondly, that we only wished the manner of Sir Edward's proceedings to have been more temperate, and more nearly resembling the earl's sweet disposition.
Thirdly, that the chiefest check in this business was Sir Edward himself, who listened to no advice, who was so transported with passion, as he purposely declined the even way, which your lordship and the rest of the lords left both him, his lady, and his daughter, in.
Fourthly, I was bold to stand upon my ground; and so I said I knew your lordship would, that these were slanders, which were brought him of us both, and that it stood not with his honour to give credit to them.
After I had passed these straits with the earl, leaving him leaning still to the first relation of envious and odious adversaries, I adventured to approach his majesty, who graciously gave me his hand to kiss, but intermixed withal that I deserved not that favour, if three or four things were true, which he had to object
against me. I was bold to crave his princely justice; first, to hear, then to judge; which he graciously granted, and said, he wished I could clear myself. I answered I would not appeal to his mercy in any of the points, but would endure the severest censure, if any of them were true. Whereupon he said, he would reserve his judgment till he heard me; which could not be then, his other occasions pressed him so much. All this was in the hearing of the earl; and I protest, I think the confidence in my innocency made me depart half justified; for I likewise kissed his majesty's hand at his departure; and though out of his grace he commanded my attendance to Warwick, yet upon my suit he easily inclined to give me the choice, to wait on him at Windsor, or at London.
Now, my lord, give me leave, out of all my affections, that shall ever serve you, to intimate touching yourself:
1. That every courtier is acquainted, that the earl professeth openly against you, as forgetful of his kindness, and unfaithful to him in your love, and in your
2. That he returneth the shame upon himself, in not listening to counsel, that dissuaded his affection from you, and not to mount you so high, not forbearing in open speech, as divers have told me, and this bearer, your gentleman, hath heard also, to tax you, as if it were an inveterate custom with you, to be unfaithful to him, as you were to the earls of Essex and Somerset.
3. That it is too common in every man's mouth in court, that your greatness shall be abated; and as your tongue hath been as a razor to some, so shall theirs be to you.
4. That there are laid up for you, to make your burden the more grievous, many petitions to his majesty against you.
My lord, Sir Edward Coke, as if he were already upon his wings, triumphs exceedingly; hath much private conference with his majesty; and in public doth offer himself, and thrust upon the king, with as great boldness of speech, as heretofore.
It is thought, and much feared, that at Woodstock he will again be recalled to the council-table; for neither are the earl's ears, nor his thoughts, ever off him.
Sir Edward Coke, with much audacity, affirmeth his daughter to be most deeply in love with Sir John Villiers; that the contract pretended with the earl of Oxford is counterfeit; and the letter also, that is pretended to have come from the earl.
My noble lord, if I were worthy, being the meanest of all to interpose my weakness, I would humbly desire,
1. That your lordship fail not to be with his majesty at Woodstock. The sight of you will fright some.
2. That you single not yourself from other lords but justify the proceedings as all your joint acts; and I little fear but you pass conqueror.
3. That you retort the clamour and noise in this business upon Sir Edward Coke, by the violence of his carriage.
4. That you seem not dismayed, but open yourself bravely and confidently, wherein you can excel all subjects; by which means I know you shall amaze some, and daunt others.
I have abused your lordship's patience long; but my duty and affection towards your lordship shall have no end: but I will still wish your honour greater, and rest myself
Daventry, Sept. 3, 1617.
Your Honour's servant,
I beseech your lordship burn this letter.
To the right honourable his singular good lordship, the lord keeper of the great seal.