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be in danger to be neglected and forgotten. And if that should be, then were it much better for me, now while I stand in your Majesty's good opinion, (though unworthy,) and have some little reputation in the world, to give over the course I am in, and to make proof to do you some honour by my pen, either by writing some faithful narrative of your happy though not untraduced times; or by recompiling your laws, which I perceive your Majesty laboureth with and hath in your head, as Jupiter had Pallas; or some other the like work (for without some endeavour to do you honour I would not live); than to spend my wits. and time in this laborious place wherein I serve,1 if it shall be deprived of those outward ornaments and inward comforts2 which it was wont to have, in respect of an assured succession to some place of more dignity and rest; which seemeth to be an hope now altogether casual, if not wholly intercepted. Wherefore, not to hold your Majesty long, my humble suit to you is that which I think I should not without suit be put by, which is, that I may obtain your assurance to succeed3 (if I live) into the Attorney's place, whensoever it shall be void; it being but the natural and immediate step and rise which the place I now hold hath ever in a sort made claim to, and almost never failed of. In this suit I make no friends to your Majesty, though your Majesty knoweth that I want not those which are near and assured, but rely upon no other motive than your grace; resting your M. most humble subject and servant.5
The King gave him, it seems, the assurance which he asked: for in the course of the following summer or autumn the AttorneyGeneral had a serious illness; and Bacon writing to the King in acknowledgement of some favourable remembrance of himself which had been reported to him, alludes to his "royal promise touching the Attorney's place." The letter comes from his own collection. The date I suppose to be October or thereabouts; for on the 21st of that month I find John Murray expressing a hope that "if Mr. Attorney's sickness should not permit him to come abroad," some cause
2 and inward comforts om.: R.
3 to your Majesty is that than the which I cannot well go lower, which is that I may obtain your royal promise to succeed, &c. : R, A.
+ no friends but to your M.: R.
5 no other motive but your grace, nor any other assurance but your word, whereof I had good experience, when I came to the solicitor's place, that it was like the two great lights, which in their motions are never retrograde. So with my best prayers for your Majesty's happiness, I rest—R, A.
in which he was interested might be put off till the next Thursday, "by which time he hoped he would be well."
A LETTER OF THANKS TO THE KING, UPON MR. ATTORNEY'S SICKNESS.2
It may please your most excellent Majesty,
I do understand by some of my good friends, to my great comfort, that your Majesty hath in mind your Majesty's royal promise, (which to me is anchora spei), touching the Attorney's place. I hope Mr. Attorney shall do well. I thank God I wish no man's death; nor much mine own life, more than to do your Majesty service. For I account my life the accident, and my duty the substance. But this I will be bold to say; if it please God that I ever serve your Majesty in the Attorney's place, I have known an Attorney Cooke, and an Attorney Hubberd, both worthy men and far above myself: but if I should not find a middle way between their two dispositions and carriage, I should not satisfy myself. But these things are far or near, as it shall please God. Meanwhile I most humbly pray your Majesty accept my sacrifice of thanksgiving for your gracious favour. God preserve your Majesty. I ever remain
Two letters of ordinary business, and one of ordinary compliment upon a New Year's tide, all addressed to Salisbury, make up the remaining correspondence of this year.
The first relates to a Proclamation concerning the value of coins, which (during Hobart's illness) Bacon had apparently received directions from Salisbury to draw. A proclamation answering the description was published on the 23rd of November 1611. But as I do not know that Bacon had anything to do with it beyond the execution of his instructions, or that any draft has been preserved from which anything can be inferred as to his own private opinion in the matter, I need not do more than refer such readers as are curious to the Book of Proclamations, p. 250. The object was to prevent the exportation of gold, by removing the inequality between the price at home and the price abroad for it seems that the gold piece which was then current in England for 20 shillings was valued in foreign parts at 22, and others in the same proportion. In that proportion the price of all gold coins, old as well as new, was to be raised. It
1 John Murray to Salisbury, 21 Oct. 1611. S. P. Dom. James I., vol. 66, no. 89. 2 Addl. MSS. 5503, fo. 40.
seems to have been a measure suggested by the King himself. "The Proclamation (says Humphrey May, writing to Salisbury on the 22nd of November 1611) was very welcome unto him, and he told me the beginning and the process of the resolution for it betwixt himself and your Lordship. He said you were cold in it at first, and he was glad to find an earnestness in you for it now, rejoicing that he had won you to his opinion.”1
TO THE R. HONBLE. HIS VERY GOOD L. THE L. HIGH
TREASURER OF ENGLAND.2
It may please your Lordship,
I return your good Lordship's minute; excellently in my opinion reformed from the first draught in some points of substance. I send likewise a clause warranting the subject to refuse gold lighter than the Remedies expressed, which is no new device, but the same with 29° Eliz.3
I find also Mr. Dubbleday to make it a thing difficult to name the pieces of more ancient coin than his Majesty's, for which I have likewise sent a clause. This last clause is immediately to follow the Table of the coins expressed. The clause of the weight is to come last of all.
So with my prayers I rest
Your Lordship's most humble and bounden,
The next letter is written on the fly leaf of a petition for certain concealed lands, which had been referred in the first instance to William Typper: whose answer is written at the top, in these words: "As concerning the lands contained in this petition, I can say nothing unto them. 19 November 1611.
Ex. p' me Willm. Typper."
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. 67, no. 43. S. P. Dom. James I., vol. 66, no. 103. "October 1611, Sir Francis Bacon to my Lord."
Original: own hand. Docketed
3 "And forasmuch as the greater price is set upon our coins of gold, which is like also to be a means to draw forth gold to be more usual in payments than of late it hath been, the more convenient it is that no pieces of gold which are become light by any clipping or washing or the like practices, be put upon our loving subjects in any payments to their prejudice, if the defect be not within that small abatement which must be by reason of the incertainty of the shearers at the mint; we have thought good according to the precedent of a Proclamation made in the nine and twentieth year of the reign of our late dear sister Queen Elizabeth, which continued in force till her decease, to declare, and by these presents we do declare, that it shall be free and lawful for all and every our loving subjects to refuse in any payments all pieces of gold which shall be lighter than according to the remedies or abatements hereafter following." Book of Proclamations, p. 252.
Underneath which is written the following certificate by Bacon; addressed I presume to Salisbury.'
It may please your Lordship,
This case differeth from the general case.
For it seemeth
the lands sued for are in feoffment to the use of a school in Okehampton in Devonshire; and two of the feoffees, being four in number, and likewise the undertenants finding and acknowledging the weakness of their estate, have brought the suit to the petitioner to the end to have it confirmed, and the petitioner is content there be no diminution at all, but rather increase of that allowance which goeth to the good use; and seeketh but the benefit of that overplus which goeth to some of the feoffees' private purses. Nevertheless, because it seemeth two of the feoffees do not join, it were good letters were directed to them to know what they can say, why the state of those lands should not be established to the good uses, with some reasonable consideration to be given to the petitioner, and composition to his Majesty.
Your Lps. most humble,
23 Nov. 1611.
The remaining letter has no date, but must have been written, I think, on the 1st of January 1611-12. We know that in the autumn of 1611 the Attorney General had an illness, serious enough to raise the question who should succeed him if he did not recover. We have seen what Bacon wrote to the King on that occasion, and it is to be presumed that either by letter or word he made some communication to Salisbury. If he received a favourable answer, and it is not likely that he received any other, for Salisbury was seldom otherwise than friendly secundum exterius,—this is exactly the kind of letter he might have been expected to write to him when the season of compliments came round. And though we shall see hereafter that there lay under it a deep disapprobation of his recent proceedings, and even a devout wish in the interests of the country that he were out of the way, it was probably true that as long as he held his place and nothing could be done without his concurrence, Bacon desired nothing more than to obtain influence with him.
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. 67, no. 31.
A LETTER TO MY LORD TREASURER SALISBURY, UPON A NEW YEAR'S TIDE.1
It may please your good Lordship,
I would intreat the new year to answer for the old, in my humble thanks to your Lordship, both for many your favours, and chiefly that upon the occasion of Mr. Attorney's infirmity I found your Lordship even as I would wish. This doth increase a desire in me to express my thankful mind to your Lordship; hoping that though I find age and decays grow upon me, yet I may have a flash or two of spirit left to do you service. And I do protest before God, without compliment or any light vein of mind, that if I knew in what course of life to do you best service, I would take it, and make my thoughts, which now fly to many pieces, be reduced to that center. But all this is no more than I am, which is not much, but yet the entire of him that is
Another letter of friendly compliment to one whom Bacon had often in former times found a friend in need, belongs to the beginning of this new year, and affords an agreeable proof that the relation of borrower and lender does not necessarily end in estrangement. The occasion must be inferred from the letter itself. It is plain that in some emergency, a good while before, Bacon had been obliged to borrow a pair of stockings from Lady Hickes or her daughter, and had neglected to return them. He takes advantage of a new year's tide to confess the fault and repay the obligation.
The first sentence implies a fact which it is pleasant to know: for I take it that the debts which Bacon had owed to Sir Michael Hickes were heavy ones.
TO MY VERY GOOD FRIEND SIR MICHAEL HICKES, KNIGHT.2 Sir Michael,
I do use as you know to pay my debts with time. deed if you will have a good and parfite colour in a caruation stocking it must be long in the dyeing. I have some scruple of conscience whether it was my Lady's stockings or her daughter's, and I would have the restitution to be to the right person, else I shall not have absolution. Therefore I have sent to them both,
1 Addl. MSS. 5503, fo. 43. b.
2 Lansd. MSS. XCII. fo. 139. Orig.: own hand.