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These things considered, the history of the following letter (which must be gathered from itself) will be sufficiently intelligible. Cotton. had lent Bacon a copy of the first part of Camden's manuscript, that it might have the benefit of his criticisms and suggestions; and had lately, I suppose, sent to ask for it again, as he was going to carry a copy to the King. This is the letter with which Bacon returned the manuscript: the original letter, preserved among Cotton's own collections, and now in the British Museum.
To SIR ROBERT COTTON.1
You may think the occasion was great and present, that made me defer a thing I took much to heart so long: I have in the blank leaf supplied some clauses, which, warranted by your kind respect and liberty, I wish were inserted for my father's honour, as a son, I confess; but yet no furder than I have the two great champions, both truth and opinion, of my side. They be but three places, and that you may readily find them I have turned down leaves; desiring you to reform the Latin or the sense by your better style and conceit; which done, if it please you (being but three pages) to have them written again, and so incorporate them into the copy you carry to the King, you shall content me much; who I think am no unfit man to give you some contribution or retribution to your worthy intention. So in haste I
Your assured friend,
this 7th of April 1610.
If Cotton adopted Bacon's suggestion and had the three pages cancelled and written out fair with the proposed additions, it would account for the absence of all traces of Bacon's handwriting upon the original copies. But as it is not likely that so much trouble would be taken with any copy except that which was to be sent to the King, we might expect to find the clauses in question appearing as insertions in the margin or blank page of some other copy. Now in MS. Faust. F. IV. (which is described in a note by Cotton himself as "the
sæculi LXXXII. . . . In iis te præcipuam partem vindicare tunc nesciebam.... E Villabonio nostro per ferias Paschales rebus prolatis A. C. MDCXIII." Jac. Aug. Thuanus V. C. Gul. Camdeno S. D. (Ibid. p. 139.)
Cott. MSS. Jul. C. III. f. 11. Original: own hand.
first copy, after mended") I find, among other marginal insertions, the three following which have reference to Sir Nicholas Bacon, and may possibly be the clauses which Francis supplied.
1. At page 8, the list of the persons whom Elizabeth on first coming to the throne chose to be of her Privy Council ended (as the manuscript originally stood) with the words "paulloque post, Nicholaum Baconum." In the margin the following clause is directed to
be inserted after "Baconum."
"Cui custodiam magni sigilli commisit; virum consilio et dicendi gravitate præstantem, quique cum Cecilio affinitate conjunctus et sententiis concors, magni rebus gerendis in novo regno momenti fuit.” But a line is drawn through the words after "quique," and they are not found in any of the printed copies.
2. At p. 14, speaking of the first act of Elizabeth's first Parliament, in which she was declared Queen, as being "justly and lawfully issued from the blood royal, according to the order of succession prescribed by the estates of the realm in the 35th year of Henry the Eighth," and observing that "the statute wherein her father had excluded her and Queen Mary from the succession of the Crown was nevertheless not repealed," Camden had added “wherein Bacon's wisdom (upon whom as the oracle of the law the Queen wholly relied in such matters) in some men's opinion failed him; especially considering that Northumberland had objected it against Queen Mary and her (and in that respect Queen Mary had repealed it as far as concerned herself), and some seditious persons afterwards took occasion thereby to attempt dangerous matters against her, as being not lawful Queen; albeit that the English laws have long since pronounced That the crown once worn taketh away all defects whatsoever.'" And there the first copy stopped.
After the words "defectus tollere" the following passage is inserted in another hand."
"Ab aliis autem hoc ipsum prudentiæ Baconi dabatur, qui in tantâ legum atque actorum perplexitate et inconstantiâ, cum quæ pro Elizabethâ facerent cum ignominiâ et probro Mariæ conjuncta forent, ulcus vetustate obductum refricare noluit, sed quibusdam verbis ad honorem Elizabethæ prælibatis, ad eam demum se applicuerit legem, scilicet de quâ diximus, anno 35 Henrici latam, quæ utriusque famæ et dignitati quodammodo æqua fuit."
"By others however that very thing was imputed to Bacon's wisdom; who in such perplexity and inconsistency of laws and acts, finding that the things which made for Elizabeth were joined with ignominy and reproach of Mary, was unwilling to rub up again a 1 See Hearne's edition, p. 27. 2 Ibid. p. 34.
sore that had skinned over with age; but preferred rather, after some words premised in honour of Elizabeth, to fall back upon the law above mentioned-a law passed in the 35th year of Henry, which did equal justice in a manner to the fame and dignity of both."
3. The third and only remaining clause which I noticed in this manuscript as being at once an interlineation and a passage bearing upon the character of Sir Nicholas Bacon, relates to the abortive conference at Westminster on the 31st of March, 1559, between the Papists and Protestants, at which he presided as moderator; and which was broken off because the Papists objected to the order of proceeding, and he would not allow it to be altered. Camden had represented the Papists as complaining that they had been hardly used, both because they had had only a day or two's notice of the questions to be discussed, and because Bacon, a man little versed in theology and a great enemy of the Papists, presided as judge: whereas (Camden added) he was appointed only to keep order. After which words, the following clause (written in the margin in Camden's own hand) is marked for insertion.
"Sed quod verissimum, illi rem serius perpendentes non ausi sunt Pontifice Romano inconsulto res tantas, et in ecclesiâ Romanâ minime controversas, in quæstionem vocare."
"But the real truth was that when they came to consider the matter more carefully they did not dare to call in question things of such importance and about which in the Church of Rome there is no controversy at all, without first consulting the Pope." (Implying that their complaint of Bacon's conduct as moderator was a mere pretext, and that their objection to the order of proceeding was invented for the purpose of putting an end to the conference.)
This belonged to the Easter recess; when "contribution and retribution were the words most familiar to the ears of all Parliament men.
Of the fruits of the long vacation we have no particular account: for it does not happen that any of Bacon's literary or philosophical works can be identified as works of that summer. Two or three letters are all the records that remain.
The first is a piece of official business; intelligible enough, and not without value as a sample of that kind of work; though the subject does not (so far as I know) possess any historical interest.
RIGHT HONBLE SIR JULIUS CESAR, KNIGHT, CHAN-
It may please your Honour, in answer of your letter of the 2nd of this present, but not delivered to my hands till the 20th thereof, concerning Sir Robert Steward his petition exhibited to his Majesty in the name of Edward Williams, for the new founding of the Hospital of St. John's in the town of Bedford; I have examined the state of the cause, as far as information may be expected by hearing the one side; and do find; that this Hospital passed divers years since by a Patent of Concealment to Farneham from whom the petitioner claimeth: that thereupon suit was commenced in the Exchequer, wherein it seemeth the Court found that strength in the King's title, as it did order the Hospital should receive a new foundation, together with divers good articles of establishment of the good uses, and an allowance of stipend unto the Master. Nevertheless I find not this order to be absolute or merely judicial; but in the nature of a composition or agreement; and yet that but conditional; for it directeth a course of judicial proceeding, in case the defendants shall not hold themselves to the agreement. And yet notwithstanding this order had this life and pursuance, as I find a letter of the Lord Treasurer his Lordship's father to the then Attorney, for drawing up a book for the new foundation. After which time, nothing was done for aught that to me appeareth; no patent under seal, no stirring of the possession, no later order: neither doth it appear unto me likewise in whose default the falling off was. But now of late some four years past and about fourteen years after the former order, upon information given of the King's right to the late Lord Treasurer, Earl of Dorset, his Lordship directed a sequestration of the possession, and that without any mention of these former proceedings; but that being as it seemeth swiftly granted, was soon after by his Lordship revoked. The pretenders unto the right of this Hospital (with whom likewise the possession hath gone) are as it seemeth the Master of the Hospital (at this time one Dennis) and the town of Bedford, who claim the patronage of it. But in what state the Hospital is for repair or for employment, according unto the good uses, or for government, I can ground no certificate. And
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. 57, no. 26. orig.
therefore it may please you to signify unto his Lordship, as well the state of the cause heretofore opened, as my opinion; which is, that it were great pity that this Hospital should continue either not well founded or not well employed, the rather being situate in so populous and poor a town; and that nevertheless herein some consideration may be had of the patentee's right: but for the present that which is at first meet to be done I conceive to be, that the other party be heard; and to the end to avoid a tedious suit (which must be defended with the monies that should go to the sustenance of the poor) his Lordship may be graciously pleased to direct his letters as well to the town of Bedford as to the present Incumbent, that they do attend a summary hearing of this cause; (if his own great business will not permit) before some other that he shall assign: in which letters it would be expressed that they come provided to make defence and answer to three points: that is, the King's title nowin the Patentee, the order and agreement in the Exchequer, why it was not performed; and the estate of the Hospital, whether it be decayed and misemployed.
And so I leave to trouble your Honour, from Gray's Inn, 23rd August, 1610.
Your Honour's to do you service.
The next letter reveals an interesting and unexpected fact, which though the evidence bas been before the world in Mr. Montagu's edition of Bacon since 1830, has remained hitherto, so far as I am aware, unnoticed.
We learn from it that till nearly the end of August 1610 Bacon's mother was still living. We have heard nothing of her since the Spring of 1600, and then only that her "health was worn:" and the silence about her is so complete that it has been supposed that she died soon after.2 That we have no letters of later date from her or to her, is indeed not surprising. Those of earlier date, of which we have such a great number in the Lambeth collection, would probably never have been heard of but for Anthony Bacon's habit of keeping all his correspondence without distinction, and consequently leaving behind him so many bundles of imperfectly arranged papers, the valuable and the worthless mixed confusedly together, that they 2 Biogr. Britan.
1 See Vol. II. p. 166.