« AnteriorContinuar »
or resources for encountering it, does not clearly appear. He thinks of the office of Lieutenant-Constable, in connexion apparently with the possible “ absence of the Prince, if he come to the Crown, by wars." He speculates upon “confederacy and more strait aunity with the Low Countries,” with an aim, I imagine, to prepare for a bolder and more active foreign policy. Then he turns to internal reforms: the “limitation of jurisdictions," with a view, no doubt, to quiet the disputes between the several courts of justice, which in this season of peace were disturbing the tranquillity of the country; the compounding and collection of new laws; the “ restoration of the Church to the true limits of authority since Henry 8th's confusion;" all measures fit to occupy the attention of Parliament, and divert it from the struggle with the Crown for power. It seems also as if he had thought of recommending some abatement of the pretensions of the Crown itself, and inspiring the King with an ambition to seek his greatness in establishing a more popular form of government; for he speaks of "books in commendation of monarchy mixed, or aristocracy,” and of“ persuading the King in glory, Aurea condet sæcula.” Then follows something about the choice of fit persons to be assur something which I thini must refer to an aspiration he had conceived of succeeding himself to Salisbury's late office of secretary; and something about winning Salisbury“ to the point of policy”. meaning, probably, the policy for avoiding popular disaffection : (“Surdis modis," he adds, “cave aliter.") But the meditation concludes with a memorandum to "finish his treatise of the greatness of Britain, with aspect. ad Pol." (which means, I suppose, with reference to the policy which the time required), and with the two fol. lowing notes, which seem to explain intelligibly enough what that policy was. The letters within brackets are inserted by conjecture.
* The fairest, without dis[order] or per[il] is the gener[al] persuad[ing] to K. and peop[le] and course of infusing everywhere the foundation) in this Isle of a Monarchy) in the West, as an apt seat, state, people for it. So civilizing Ireland, furder coloniz[ing] the wild of Scotl[and], Annexing the Low Countries.
“If anything be questio[ned] touch[ing] Pol[icy] to be turned upon the ampliation of a mon[archy] in the Royalty."
The best way, in short, to avoid the danger of popular discontent, coucurring with dependence of the Crown upon popular support, was for the Crown to put itself at the head of some movement which should carry the sympathy and ambition of the people along with it. The wars with Spain in Elizabeth's time, and the bountiful loyalty which rushed to James's assistance upon the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, bad proved how rapidly distastes and disputes could
be forgotten under the excitement of a common passion; and a few years more showed, in the ready opening of the national purse upon the promise of a war for the recovery of the Palatinate, that even when the disease had advanced much further the efficacy of that remedy might still be trusted.
Having concluded his meditations upon the political difficulty, he appears to have rested for a while. Returning presently to his work, and having first set down a few “ forms,” as he called themthoughts neatly expressed, which had, perhaps, occurred to him in the interval-and a few memoranda concerning his business and the improvement of his fortunes, similar to those which occupied him on Monday, he turns to the condition of his own dwelling at Gorhambury, which since his father's death had been allowed, owing to his brother's long absence and absorbing occupations and want of more than all his money for other things, to fall out of repair. Having now a fair prospect of an ample income, he could afford to commence the trimming of his grounds according to his taste; and he begins with “directions for a plot to turn the pond-yard into a place of pleasure," by enclosing and laying it out in broad walks and terraces, with banks and borders set with choice trees and flowers, and a lake in the uniddle with several islands in it, variously furnished and adorned for rest, exercise, and refreshment, and pleasure of eye, ear, smell, taste, and spirits. The design (which I need not more particularly describe, as the whole is written out without any abbreviations or obscurities, and in minute detail) appears to have been, in part at least, carried out; for it was in the neighbourhood and view of these ponds that he afterwards built Verulam House, his favourite residence for summer.
After a few more memoranda of improvements to be made or thought of, which (with one exception to be noticed afterwards) I need not particularize, he proceeds to Memoria Valetudinis,-remembrances and observations concerning his own health : a curious and minute record of a contest with indigestion, and of the effects of it, bodily and mental. These also are written out quite fully and intel. ligibly, and may be read in the original without help. To medical men they may probably be interesting as a record of symptoms according to the patient's own interpretation of his own sensations, and as re. vealing, through the better light of modern science, the real state of Bacon's case and constitution. Unprofessional readers will be content with inferring that he suffered much from what we now call dyspepsia, accompanied with a very sensitive nervous system, through wbich it affected the imagination. Knowing to what the disturbance was due, he did not yield to the delusion; but the disorder to which he
continually refers under the name of "his symptom," is described as “melancholy," "doubt of present peril," "strangeness in beholding and darksomeness," "inclination to superstition," "cloudiness," etc.;
” and must I think have been an affection of the same kind as that from which Sir Walter Scott, after his great troubles came upon him, suffered occasionally. The resemblance of the description in the two cases is indeed in some respects so striking, that it may
be worth while to place them side by side.
“I have hinted in these notes” (writes Scott in his Diary, March 13, 1826) "that I am not entirely free from a sort of gloomy fits, with a fluttering of the heart and depression of spirits, just as if I knew not what was going to befall me. I can sometimes resist this successfully, but it is better to evade than combat it.” Again, on the 14th, “What a detestable feeling this fluttering of the heart is ! I know that it is nothing organic and that it is entirely nervous; but the sickening effects of it are dispiriting to a degree. Is it the body that brings it to the mind, or the mind that inflicts upon the body ?"
And again, later in the same day apparently, “It was the fiddle, after all, was out of order, not the fiddlestick. I walked out.
Since I had scarce stirred to take exercise for four or five days, no wonder I had the mulligrubs. It is an awful sensation though, and would have made an enthusiast of me if I had indulged my imagination on devotional subjects. I have been always careful to place my mind in the most tranquil posture which it can assume during my private exercises of devotion."!
Though Bacon does not mention any “fluttering of the heart," the effect on the mind and spirits, the "inclination to superstition, and doubt of present peril,” seems to have been the same. But in one respect there is a singular and unexpected contrast between the
The attack which led Scott to mention it came upon him when he was surrounded with melancholy circumstances,-his fortune going backward, bis wife dying, his preparations for removal from Abbotsford ; whereas it was upon the amendment of his fortune that Bacon seems chiefly to have experienced these sensations. “I have found” (he writes) “now twice upon amendment of my
fortuno disposition to melancholy and distaste, especially the same happening against the long vacation when company failed and business both; for upon my solicitor's place, I grew indisposed and inclined to super
I stition. Now, upon Mill's place, I find a relapse unto my old symptom, as I was wont to have it many years ago, as after sleeps, strife at meats, strangeness, clouds," etc.
1 Life of Scott, vol. vi. p. 261.
I am not sure that I know what he means by “after sleeps,” but there is another note concerning a habit of sleeping out of season, which affords a striking illustration (though few people, I suppose, will think it a strange one) of the tyranny of the body over the mind, even where the desire to resist it is unquestionably sincere. “I do find (he says) nothing to induce stopping more, and to fill the head and to induce languishing and distaste and feverous disposition, more I say then any manner of offer to sleep at afternoon, either immediately after dinner or at four of clock. And I could never yet find resolution and strength in myself to inhibit it.”l
The memoriæ valetudinis being finished, he proceeds, still on the same day—to draw up a complete inventory of his property, real and personal, with all particulars,-lands, woods, houses, fees, offices, plate and jewels, debts, expectations,—everything; each item separately valued by estimate or by actual return, both as to its present selling value and as to its annual proceeds. At the end of the account he finds his property of all kinds worth (“as in pretio to be sold ”) £24,155, and in annual revenue £4975. To be set off against which, be further finds that his debts of all kinds amount to £4481, of which those bearing interest rise to £2925. The rate of interest is not stated, nor any estimate set down of the annual charge with which his income was burdened on that account. But at 10 per cent. it would be a little under £300.
Having thus made out the present state of his property as exactly as he could, he returns once more to politics and business. One of the first memoranda which he had set down on the 25th, was the “ being prepared in the matter of prohibitions,”—which was a dispute of considerable constitutional importance between the Courts at Westminster and the Provincial Councils in Wales and the North, as to their several jurisdiction. On this subject, and some others, especially the course to be taken with Papists and Recusants, the King had beld a special conference with some of the judges as long ago as the 15th of February, 1607-8; of the effect of which Bacon (who attended no doubt as Solicitor-General and one of the Learned Counsel) had made a note at the time. This note he now transcribes at length, and as the report of a more than ordinarily competent eye-witness on matters which history still discusses with eager interest, it has a historical value. Being set down however so fully as to be quite intelligible, and yet so succinctly that the sub
Sir W. Scott also mentions in his Diary the falling asleep for a few minutes in his chair, as a habit which grows upon him more than he could wish.
The making up of these accounts was not quite finished on Thursday night, and the last three pages, which complete the list of debts still undischarged, are dated July 29.
stance cannot be given in fewer words, I need do no more here than recommend it to the reader's notice.
After this follow some notes of the same kind as those with which he occupied himself on Monday: remembrances of points to be observed in his course of official service, with a view not only to get the work effectually done, but to make it show to the best advantage, and recommend him personally to favour and advancement. These are likewise for the most part set down with tolerable fulness; and being collected into a few pages under a conspicuous title,—“ Custume apta ad individuum,”—and relating to personal matters in which most people find amusement, they will no doubt receive their full share of attention. The danger is that they may receive rather more and more exclusive attention than properly belongs to them, and so leave a false impression, not so much of the nature of the thing, as of the quantity of it in proportion to the rest ; and therefore it is the more necessary to understand clearly what the thing itself really is, and what inferences we are justified in drawing from the occurrence of such memoranda in a note-book. To infer from them a natural apti. tude and inclination in the writer to do the things which they remind him to do, would, in my opinion (as I have already observed), be wrong. Men make notes of things to be done, which, without a reminder, they would be in danger of forgetting to think of. But though not implying a natural propensity, they do no doubt imply a deliberate intention to do those things, and a conclusion of the judgment that it is fit, under the circumstances, that they should be done. Now, upon some of the practices which Bacon here suggests and prescribes to himself, a question may be justly raised how far such an intention is consistent with a sound morality. And though my office is to report facts and not to deliver censures, and I prefer for my own part to postpone judgment until the case is all before me, it may be well perhaps to interpose a caution or two for the consideration of those who cannot wait so long.
It must not be forgotten then, that we see here not only thoughts and intentions half formed and imperfectly explained, but we see the seamy side of them, which in other cases is kept out of view. Bacon liked to call things by their true names; and if he ever thought fit to deceive his neighbour, did not think fit to deceive himself by disguising the real nature of the act under a euphemism. Now, most of the little arts of social intercourse which are practised generally and with general approbation under the gracious names of tact, good breeding, and the like, are in fact modes of concealing truth or conveying falsehood. A man who pretends to be listening with earnest interest to a story which does not interest him at all,