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"I beseech you to move the King that in your next private letter to me you may give some touch of his M. gracious acceptance of the diligence and industry of the Solicitor in this employment; for though it be true that the Recorder shewed his endeavour with good will, yet to speak truly as I must ever do, yielding unto all men the fruits of their good deserts, this mysterium iniquitatis was pursued extremely well by the Solicitor, that met with tricks upon the choice points of their obliquity. I am put in trust with the care of laying open of this point, and therefore for a testimony of my discharge and an argument of his M. gracious acceptance of the party's endeavour, a character under your hand which I may shew to himself only will be authentical."
The next day Ellesmere and Northampton made their joint report to the King; the whole of which (except the signatures and a postscript added by Northampton) being fairly written and directed in Bacon's hand, we may conclude that it was drawn up by him, and is therefore entitled to a place here.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND LORD PRIVY SEAL TO THE
It may please your Ex. Maty.
According to your H. pleasure to us signified, we have with the assistance of Mr Solicitor and Mr Serjeant Montague, appointed by your Maty. to deal in this business, looked into the estate of your Maty's two great farms; That of the Customs in general, and that of the French and Rhenish Wines. Wherein your Maty will be pleased graciously to conceive that there hath been no time lost, if the deceits of eight years have been examined in the like or less number of days. And to give your M. an account of them severally: As touching that of the Customs in general, we find by the relation and information of your said learned Counsel, and partly by that we have seen, from the first lease taken (which was in the second year of your Maty's reign) unto the present time, a chain and continuation of fraud in the Farmers, joined with loss and diminution of Treasure and Revenue towards your M. in such a quantity as we cannot look back upon so great a dissipation of your M. means without a great deal of grief, specially considering your present estate. that, it appearing unto us that their former lease is expired, and
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. lxxi, no. 16.
Docket, not in Bacon's hand. S. P. Dom. Jas. I., vol. lxxi., no. 18. VOL. IV.
no two years or other remnant of term yet continuing in them as was imagined, we conceive that your M. is not only at liberty in honour to break with them touching the lease intended to be passed unto them (which went no further than your Bill signed), and so to take your best offer; but also that your M. hath great cause to call them to account for the time past.
And to give your M. a taste of the nature of the deceit, we think the medium which was the measure of your M. rent, had three notable falsities. For it was cast up according to years which were not indifferent; it was collected with omissions of divers merchandises, as well then in trade as since newly sprung and brought in use (the latter whereof though they could not be put to the medium, being not then in esse, yet ought they to have been provided for by a general covenant); and lastly and chiefly, it was made upon the old rates, whereas both the profit they have taken from the merchant and the allowances and defalcations which they have had from your Ma', have been according to the new. So as the rectifying of this medium according to the truth (which we are now about) will in one be both a ground how far to charge them for the time past, and a direction how to set the farm at this time.
For the lease of the Wines, helping ourselves likewise by the information of your said Counsel, we find shortly (not to trouble your M. with the particularities of the deceits) that huc res redit; that by cunning and circumvention they have gotten 7 new years besides those they had from my L. of Devonshire (for the confirmation whereof it seemeth they paid some small matter), without any fine paid; without any rent improved; without any consideration of merit or service; merely by tricks and shifts which 7 years being to begin about 2 years hence, are not now less worth than fifty thousand pounds, and were (when they took them) well worth five and thirty thousand pounds for which damage and fraud we conceive your M. may have relief by course of justice in equity, to call in their lease.
We find also by the opinion of your said Counsel, that their lease may be overthrown by law, upon divers points: which being opened unto us, we concur in the same opinion: upon which points though we know your M. would not take advantage if there were no more; So for the reversing of that which was
obtained by fraud and deceit, we think your M. may with honour use the benefit of your laws.
The proceeding herein we have hitherto kept secret according to your M. direction. But if your M. shall resolve to have a judicial proceeding, as well for the overthrow of the lease of the Wines as for the charging of the Farmers for the time past concerning the great farm of Customs, it will be necessary that your Mty's Court of Exchequer, Mr Chancellor, and the Barons, and your Attorney (in whose name properly the information is to be brought) be made acquainted with it. Wherein your M. may be pleased to signify to us your royal pleasure with some speed, the rather because the first vintage being now very shortly to come in, the suit may be brought (if the manner of their defence and the course of justice shall permit it) to a sequestration of the profits before that time. And likewise your M. royal pleasure touching the removing of the late farmers requireth the more speedy declaration, because they may have some reasonable warning for their said remove.
Thus humbly praying your M. graciously to accept of our endeavours in this your service, we pray to the Highest ever to preserve your Ma. and ever rest
Your Maty's most affectionate and loyal
xi Oct. 1612.
T. ELLESMERE. Canc.
We may not forget to give your Ma'y notice of the diligence and industry of your two faithful and painful servants, your Solicitor and Serjeant, whereby the great mass is now digested into that order that may seem to best use in your service.1
On the 12th October 1612, there was entered at Stationers' Hall "a book called the Essays of Sir Francis Bacon, Knight, the King's Solicitor General." This was a new edition of the Essays of 1597, much enlarged, which Bacon had meant to dedicate to the Prince of Wales, and had written the dedicatory letter. The death of the
1 This postscript is added in the margin in Northampton's hand.
Prince on the 6th of November prevented him: but the letter has been preserved. A fair copy of it, in the hand of the transcriber of the manuscript volume of Essays1 which I have described in my edition of the Literary Works' (vol. i. p. 535), may be seen among the Additional MSS. in the British Museum, vol. 4259: and the watermark of the paper shows that it originally belonged to that volume. Therefore, though it is without signature, and though there are no marks of Bacon's own hand upon this one leaf, it may be safely accepted not only as undoubtedly authentic, but as the last and best copy.
It may please your Highness,
Having divided my life into the contemplative and active part, I am desirous to give his Majesty and your Highness of the fruits of both, simple though they be.
To write just treatises requireth leisure in the writer, and leisure in the reader, and therefore are not so fit, neither in regard of your Highness' princely affairs, nor in regard of my continual services; which is the cause that hath made me choose to write certain brief notes, set down rather significantly than curiously, which I have called Essays. The word is late, but the thing is ancient. For Seneca's epistles to Lucilius, if one mark them well, are but Essays, that is, dispersed meditations, though conveyed in the form of epistles. These labours of mine I know cannot be worthy of your Highness, for what can be worthy of you? But my hope is, they may be as grains of salt, that will rather give you an appetite than offend you with satiety. And although they handle those things wherein both men's lives and their pens are most conversant, yet (what I have attained I know not) but I have endeavoured to make them not vulgar, but of a nature whereof a man shall find much in experience, and little in books; so as they are neither repetitions nor fancies. But howsoever, I shall most humbly desire your Highness to accept them in gracious part, and to conceive, that if I cannot rest, but must shew my dutiful and devoted affection to your Highness in these things which proceed from myself, I shall be much more ready to do it in performance of any your princely
1 Harl. MSS. 5106.
Addl. MSS. 4259, f. 155.
commandments. And so wishing your Highness all princely felicity I rest,
Your Highness's most humble servant.
The Prince himself being removed beyond the reach of essays and dedications and all human services, it remained for Bacon to do a small service to his memory (in which the surviving world had an interest) by setting down a remembrance of his character. As he wrote it in Latin, and made no other use of it so far as we know, it has been conjectured with great probability that he meant it for De Thou to use in his history. It is a careful study of the manan attempt to describe or make out what he was worth and what he was, by diligent examination of such personal traits as had come within Bacon's observation or knowledge; and though short, contains all that we can be said to know about him. We have no account of him from any of his familiars, if he had any. or doings which have been recorded of him are few and of no great significance. And the vague and featureless eulogies in which his memory was celebrated at the time, and with which history seems to be still content, tell us nothing but that people of all classes hoped great things of him which was an inevitable incident of his position. From a well conducted and personable prince of 19, who had never had an opportunity of engaging in any public action that could give either satisfaction or offence, every man could hope what he pleased, and each hoped what he wished. If his brother Charles had died before he was 20, I have little doubt that he would have died with as general regret, and that the fairest hopes of the country would as generally have been thought to have died with him. Bacon was never in any intimate relation with Prince Henry, but he had of course studied him diligently and curiously according to his opportunities, and in this paper we have a full, and to all appearance a candid and unreserved, report of the result of his study. It will be found among the Literary Works, vol. i. p. 319, with a translation and a preface.
The same epidemic to which Prince Henry fell a victim (the rather because, with a young man's defiant contempt for illness, he neglected to take ordinary care of himself) made a fresh vacancy in the Mastership of the Wards, and gave occasion to the only letter which is known to have passed between Bacon and Rochester; a letter which is chiefly interesting for the absence of everything that, according to