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His agreeable occupations, and extensive views of science, during his residence in Gray's Inn, did not check his professional exertions. In the year 1586, he applied to the lord treasurer to be called within the bar; and in his thirtieth year was sworn queen's counsel learned extraordinary,5 an honour which, until that time, had never been con
To law, therefore, he was reluctantly obliged to devote himself, and as it seems, in the year 1580, he was admitted a student of Gray's Inn, of which | ferred upon any member of the profession. society his father had for many years been an illustrious member.1
to encourage him to rely upon others rather than upon himself, and to venture on the quicksands of politics, instead of the certain profession of the law, in which the queen had, when he was a child, predicted that he would one day be her "lord keeper."
Having engaged in this profession, he, as was to be expected, encountered and subdued the difficulties and obscurities of the science in which he was doomed to labour, and in which he after- FROM HIS ENTRANCE INTO PUBLIC LIFE TILL HIS
DISAPPOINTMENT AS SOLICITOR.
wards was eminently distinguished, not only by his professional exertions and honours, but by his valuable works upon different practical parts of the law, and upon the improvement of the science, by exploring the principles of universal justice-the laws of law.
1590 to 1596.
He thus entered on public life, submitting, as a lawyer and a statesman, to worldly occupations (being then but twenty-eight years of age) the honourable society of Gray's Inn chose him for their lent reader. Orig. p. 295. 4 In the time of Lord Bacon there was a distinction between outer and inner barristers. By the following letter in 1586,
it will appear that he applied to the lord treasurer that he
To the right honourable the lord.treasurer.*
I take it as an undoubted sign of your lordship's favour unto me that, being hardly informed of me, you took occasion rather of good advice than of evil opinion thereby. And if your lordship had grounded only upon the said information of theirs, I might and would truly have upholden that few of the matters were justly objected; as the very circumstances do induce, in that they were delivered by men that did misaffect me, and, besides, were to give colour to their own doings. But because your lordship did mingle therewith both a late motion of mine own, and somewhat which This course of legal and philosophical research you had otherwise heard, I know it to be my duty (and so do was accompanied with such sweetness and affa- I stand affected) rather to prove your lordship's admonition effectual in my doings hereafter, than causeless by excusing bility of deportment, that he gained the affections what is past. And yet (with your lordship's pardon humbly asked) it may please you to remember, that I did endeavour to of the whole society, and the kindness he expe- set forth that said motion in such sort as it might breed no rienced was not lost upon him. He assisted in their harder effect than a denial. And I protest simply before God, that I sought therein an ease in coming within bars, and not festivities; he beautified their spacious garden, any extraordinary or singular note of favour. And for that your and raised an elegant structure, known for many lordship may otherwise have heard of me it shall make me more wary and circumspect in carriage of myself; indeed I years after his death, as "The Lord Bacon's Lodg-find in my simple observation, that they which live as it were ings," in which at intervals he resided till his death. in umbra and not in public or frequent action, how moderately and modestly soever they behave themselves, yet laWhen he was only twenty-six years of age, he borant invidia; I find also that such persons as are of nature was promoted to the bench; in his twenty-eighth bashful, (as myself is,) whereby they want that plausible familiarity which others have, are often mistaken for proud. year he was elected lent reader; and the 42d of But once I know well, and I most humbly beseech your lordship to believe, that arrogancy and overweening is so far Elizabeth he was appointed double reader. from my nature, as if I think well of myself in any thing it is in this, that I am free from that vice. And I hope upon this your lordship's speech, I have entered into those considerations, as my behaviour shall no more deliver me for other than I am. And so wishing unto your lordship all honour, and to myself continuance of your good opinion, with mind and means to deserve it, I humbly take my leave. Your lordship's most bounden nephew, FR. BACON. Grey's Inn,
this 6th of May, 1586.
5 Rawley, in his life, says, he was, after a while, sworn to the queen's counsel learned extraordinary; a grace, if I err "He was counsel learned extranot, scarce known before. ordinary to his majesty, as he had been to Queen Elizabeth.” Extract from Biographia Britannica, vol. i. page 373.-He distinguished himself no less in his practice, which was very considerable; and after discharging the office of reader at Gray's Inn, which he did, in 1588, when in the twenty-sixth year of his age, he was become so considerable, that the queen, who never over valued any man's abilities, thought fit to call him to her service in a way which did him very great honour, by appointing him her counsel learned in the law extraordinary: by which, though she contributed abundantly to his reputation, yet she added but very little to his fortune, as indeed in this respect he was never much indebted to her majesty, how much soever he might be in all others. He, in his apology respecting Lord Essex, says, "They sent for us of the learned council."
Lands. MS. li. art. 5. Orig
Extensive as were his legal researches, and great as was his legal knowledge, law was, however, but an accessory, not a principal study. It was not to be expected that his mind should confine its researches within the narrow and perplexed study of precedents and authorities. He contracted his sight, when necessary, to the study of the law, but he dilated it to the whole circle of science, and continued his meditations upon his immortal work, which he had projected when in the university.
1 The admission book at Gray's Inn begins in the year 1580; but the first four pages have been torn out. Bacon's name, however, appears in the list of members of the society, in the year 1581: the book abounds with Lord Bacon's autographs. 2 Contemplation feels no hunger, nor is sensible of any thirst, but of that after knowledge, How fresh and exalted a pleasure did David find from his meditation in the divine law! all the day long it was the theme of his thoughts. The affairs of state, the government of his kingdom, might indeed employ, but it was this only that refreshed his mind. How short of this are the delights of the epicure! how vastly disproportionate are the pleasures of the eating and of the thinking man! indeed as different as the silence of an Archimedes in the study of a problem, and the stillness of a sow at her wash.-South.
Being returned from travel he applied himself to the study of the common law, which he took upon him to be his profession. Notwithstanding that he professed the law for his livelihood and subsistence. yet his heart and affection was more carried after the affairs and places of state; for which, if the majesty royal then had been pleased, he was most fit. The narrowness of his circumstances obliged him to think of some profession for a subsistence; and he applied himself, more through necessity than choice, to the study of the common law, in which he obtained to great excellence, though he made that (as himself said) but as an accessory, and not his principal study.-Rawley.
3 Dugdale, in his account of Bacon, says, in 30th Elizabeth,
and the pursuit of worldly honours, that, sooner | modestly ascribing his success to the remembrance or later, he might escape into the calm regions of of his father's virtues, he immediately acknowphilosophy. ledged his obligation to the queen. This reversion, however, was not of any immediate value; for, not falling into possession till after the lapse of twenty years, he said that "it was like another man's ground buttailing upon his house, which might mend his prospect, but it did not fill his barns."
At this period the court was divided into two parties at the head of the one were the two Cecils; of the other, the Earl of Leicester, and afterwards his son-in-law, the Earl of Essex.
To the Cecils Bacon was allied. He was the nephew of Lord Burleigh, and first cousin to Sir Robert Cecil, the principal secretary of state; but, In the parliament which met on February 19, connected as he was to the Cecils by blood, his 1592, and which was chiefly called for consultaaffections were with Essex. Generous, ardent, tion and preparation against the ambitious designs and highly cultivated, with all the romantic en- of the King of Spain, Bacon sat as one of the thusiasm of chivalry, and all the graces and accom-knights for Middlesex. On the 25th of February, plishments of a court, Essex was formed to gain 1592, he, in his first speech, earnestly recompartisans, and attach friends. Attracted by his mended the improvement of the law, an improvemind and character, Bacon could have but littlement which through life he availed himself of every sympathy with Burleigh, who thought £100 an opportunity to encourage, not only by his speeches, extravagant gratuity to the author of the Fairy but by his works; in which he admonishes lawQueen, which he was pleased to term "an old yers, that although they have a tendency to resist song," and, probably, deemed the listeners to such the progress of legal improvement, and are not songs little better than idle dreamers. There was the best improvers of law, it is their duty to visit much grave learning and much pedantry at court, and strengthen the roots and foundation of their but literature of the lighter sort was regarded with science, productive of such blessings to themselves coldness, and philosophy with suspicion: instead, and to the community; and he submitted to the therefore, of uniting himself to the party in power, king that the most sacred trust to sovereign power he not only formed an early friendship himself consisted in the establishing good laws for the with Essex, but attached to his service his brother regulation of the kingdom, and as an example to Anthony, who had returned from abroad, with a the world. great reputation for ability and a knowledge of foreign affairs.
To assist in the improvement which he recommended, he, in after life, prepared a plan for a digest and amendment of the whole law, and particularly of the penal law of England, and a tract upon Universal Justice; the one like a fruitful shower, profitable and good for the latitude of ground on which it falls, the other like the benefits of heaven, permanent and universal.
This intimacy could not fail to excite the jealousy of Lord Burleigh; and, in after life, Bacon was himself sensible that he had acted unwisely, and that his noble kinsmen had some right to complain of the readiness with which he and his brother had embraced the views of their powerful rival. But, attached as he was to Essex, Bacon In another debate on the 7th of March, Bacon was not so imprudent as to neglect an application forcibly represented, as reasons for deferring for to them whenever opportunity offered to forward six years the payment of the subsidies to which his interests. In a letter written in the year 1591 the house had consented, the distresses of the to Lord Burleigh, in which he says that "thirty-people, the danger of raising public discontent, one years is a great deal of sand in the hour-glass," and the evil of making so bad a precedent against he made another effort to extricate himself from themselves and posterity. With this speech the the slavery of the law, by endeavouring to procure queen was much displeased, and caused her dissome appointment at court; that, "not being a pleasure to be communicated to Bacon both by man born under Sol that loveth honour, nor under the lord treasurer and by the lord keeper. He Jupiter that loveth business, but wholly carried heard them with the calmness of a philosopher, away by the contemplative planet," he might by saying, that "he spoke in discharge of his conthat mean become a true pioneer in the deep mines science and duty to God, to the queen, and to his of truth. To these applications, the Cecils were country; that he well knew the common beaten not entirely inattentive; for, although not influ- road to favour, and the impossibility that he enced by any sympathy for genius, "for a specu- who selected a course of life estimate only by lative man indulging himself in philosophical the few,' should be approved by the many." He reveries, and calculated more to perplex than to said this, not in anger, but in the consciousness promote public business," as he was represented of the dignity of his pursuits, and with the full by his cousin, Sir Robert Cecil,1 they procured knowledge of the doctrine and consequences both for him the reversion of the Registership of the of concealment and revelation of opinion: of the Star Chamber,worth about £1600 a year, for which, time to speak and the time to be silent.
in the expression of his sentiments, he did not If, after this admonition, he was more cautious
1 There is a letter containing this expression, but I cannot
relax in his parliamentary exertions, or sacrifice the interests of the public at the foot of the throne. He spoke often, and always with such force and eloquence as to insure the attention of the house; and, though he spoke generally on the side of the court, he was regarded as the advocate of the people: a powerful advocate, according to his friend, Ben Jonson, who thus speaks of his parliamentary eloquence: "There happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking: his language, where he could spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness in what he uttered: no member of his speech but consisted of its own graces. His hearers could not cough or look aside from him without loss: he commanded when he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power: the fear of every man that heard him was lest he should make an end."
It would have been fortunate for society if this check had impressed upon his mind the vanity of attempting to unite the scarcely reconcileable characters of the philosopher and the courtier. His high birth and elegant taste unfitted Bacon for the common walks of life, and by surrounding him with artificial wants, compelled him to exertions uncongenial to his nature: but the love of truth, of his country, and an undying spirit of improvement, ever in the train of knowledge, ill suited him for the trammels in which he was expected to move. Through the whole of his life he endeavoured to burst his bonds, and escape from law and politics, from mental slavery to intellectual liberty. Perhaps the charge of inconsistency, so often preferred against him, may be attributed to the varying impulse of such opposite motives.1
In the spring of 1594,2 by the promotion of Sir Edward Coke to the office of Attorney General, the solicitorship became vacant. This had been foreseen by Bacon, and, from his near alliance to the lord treasurer; from the friendship of Lord Essex; from the honourable testimony of the bar and of the bench; from the protection he had a right to hope for from the queen, for his father's sake; from the consciousness of his own merits and of the weakness of his competitors, Bacon could scarcely doubt of his success. He did not, however, rest in an idle security; for though, to use his own expression, he was "voiced with great expectation, and the wishes of all men," yet he strenuously applied to the lord keeper, to Lord Burleigh, to Sir Robert Cecil, and to his noble friend Lord Essex, to further his suit.
To the Lord Keeper Puckering he applied as to a lawyer, having no sympathy with his pursuits
During this year he published a tract, containing observations upon libel. See See p. 000. 2 10 April, Dug. Orig, VOL. I.—(4)
or value for his attainments, in the hope of preventing his opposition, rather than from any expectation of his support; and he calculated rightly upon the lord keeper's disposition towards him, for, either hurt by Bacon's manner, of which he appeared to have complained, or from the usual antipathy of common minds to intellectual superiority, the lord keeper represented to the queen that two lawyers, of the names of Brograve and Brathwayte, were more meritorious candidates. Of the conduct of the lord keeper he felt and spoke indignantly. "If," he says, "it please your lordship but to call to mind from whom I am descended, and by whom, next to God, her majesty, and your own virtue, your lordship is ascended, I know you will have a compunction of mind to do me any wrong."
To Lord Burleigh he applied as to his relation and patron, and, as a motive to insure his protection, he intimated his intention to devote himself to legal pursuits, an intimation likely to be of more efficacy to this statesman than the assurance that the completion of the Novum Organum depended upon his success: and he formed a correct estimate of the lord treasurer, who strongly interceded with the queen, and kindly communicated to Bacon the motives by which she was influenced against him.
To Sir Robert Cecil he also applied, as to a kinsman; and, during the course of his solicitation, having suspected that he had been bribed by his opponent, openly accused him; but, having discovered his error, he immediately acknowledged that his suspicions were unfounded. He still, however, maintained that there had been treachery somewhere, and that a word the queen had used against him had been put into her mouth by Sir Robert's messenger.
Essex, with all the zeal of his noble and ardent nature, endeavoured to influence the queen on behalf of his friend, by every power which he possessed over her affections and her understanding; availing himself of the most happy moments to address her, refuting all the reasons which she could adduce against his promotion, and representing the rejection of his suit as an injustice to the public, and a great unkindness to himself. Not content with these earnest solicitations, Essex applied to every person by whom the queen was likely to be influenced.
That Bacon had a powerful enemy was evinced not only by the whole of Elizabeth's conduct during this protracted suit, but by the anger with which she met the earnest pleadings of Essex; by her perpetual refusals to come to any decision, and above all, by her remarkable expressions, that "Bacon had a great wit, and much learning, but that in law he could show to the uttermost of his knowledge, and was not deep." Essex was convinced that his enemy was the lord keeper, to whom he wrote, desiring "that the lord keeper
would no longer consider him a suitor for Bacon, but for himself; that upon him would light the disgrace as well of the protraction as of the refusal of the suit; and complained with much bitterness of those who ought to be Bacon's friends.1
To the queen, Bacon applied by a letter worthy of them both. He addressed her respectfully, but with a full consciousness that he deserved the appointment, and that he had not deserved the reprimand he had received from her majesty, for the honest exercise of his duty in parliament. Apologizing for his boldness and plainness, he told the queen, "that his mind turned upon other wheels than those of profit; that he sought no great matter, but a place in his profession, often given to younger men; that he had never sought her but by her own desire, and that he would not wrong himself by doing it at that time, when it might be thought he did it for profit; and that if her majesty found other and abler men, he should be glad there was such choice of them." This letter, according to the custom of the times, he accompanied by a present of a jewel. When the queen, with the usual property of royalty, not to forget, mentioned his speech in parliament which yet rankled in her mind, and with an antipathy, unworthy of her love of letters, said, "he was rather a man of study, than of practice and experience;" he reminded her of his father, who was made solicitor of the Augmentation Office when he was only twenty-seven years old, and had never practised, and that Mr. Brograve, who had been recommended by the lord keeper, was without practice.
This contest lasted from April, 1594, till November, 1595; and what at first was merely doubt and hesitation in the queen's mind, became a struggle against the ascendency which she was conscious Essex had obtained over her, as she more than once urged that "if either party were to give way, it ought to be Essex; that his affection for Bacon should yield to her mislike." Of this latent cause Essex became sensible, and said to Bacon, “I never found the queen passionate against you till I was passionate for you."
Such was the nature of this contest, which was so long protracted, that success could not compensate for the trouble of the pursuit ; of this, and the difficulties of his situation, he bitterly complained. “To be,” he said, “like a child following a bird,
which when he is nearest flieth away and lighteth a little before, and then the child after it again. I am weary of it, as also of wearying my good friends."
His greatest annoyance during this contest had arisen from the interruption of thoughts generally devoted to higher things. After a short retirement, "where he once again enjoyed the blessings of contemplation in that sweet solitariness which collecteth the mind, as shutting the eyes does the sight," during which he seems to have invented an instrument resembling a barometer, he resumed his usual habits of study, consoled by the consciousness of worth, which, though it may at first imbitter defeat from a sense of injustice, never fails ultimately to mitigate disappointment, by insuring the sympathy of the wise and the good.
This cloud soon passed away; for, though Bacon had stooped to politics, his mind, when he resumed his natural position, was far above the agitation of disappointed ambition. During his retirement he wrote to the queen, expressing his submission to the providence of God, which he says findeth it expedient for me "tolerare jugum in juventute mea;" and assuring her majesty that her service should not be injured by any want of his exertions. His forbearance was not lost upon the queen, who, satisfied with her victory, soon afterwards, with an expression of kindness, employed him in her service: and some effort was
1 To the right honourable the lord keeper, &c.-My very good lord, The want of assistance from them which should be Mr. Fr. Bacon's friends, makes [me] the more industrious my-made to create a new vacancy by the advancement self, and the more earnest in soliciting mine own friends. Upon me the labour must lie of his establishment, and upon of Fleming. me the disgrace will light of his being refused. Therefore I pray your lordship, now account me not as a solicitor only of my friend's cause, but as a party interested in this; and employ all your lordship's favour to me, or strength for me, in procuring a short and speedy end. For though I know it will never be carried any other way, yet I hold both my friend and myself disgraced by this protraction. More I would
write, but that I know to so honourable and kind a friend, this which I have said is enough. And so I commend your lordship to God's best protection, resting, at your lordship's commandment,-ESSEX.
On the 5th of November, 1596,2 Mr. Sergeant Fleming was appointed solicitor-general, to the surprise of the public, and the deep-felt mortification of Bacon, and of his patron and friend, Lord Essex. The mortification of Essex partook strongly of the extremes of his character; of the generous regard of wounded affection, and the bitter vexation of wounded pride; he complained that a man every way worthy had "fared ill, because he had made him a mean and dependence;" but he did not rest here: he generously undertook the care of Bacon's future fortunes, and, by the gift of an estate, worth about £1800, at the beautiful village of Twickenham, endeavoured to remunerate him for his great loss of time and grievous disappointment.
How bitterly Bacon felt the disgrace of the queen's rejection, is apparent by his own letter, where he says, that "rejected with such circumstances, he could no longer look upon his friends, and that he should travel, and hoped that her majesty would not be offended that, no longer able to endure the sun, he had fled into the shade."
During the contest, the University of Cambridge had conferred upon him the degree of master of arts, and he had in the first throes of vexation declared his intention of retiring there, a resolution, which, unfortunately for philosophy, he did not put into practice.
2 See Dug. Orig. Jud.
In the year 1596 Bacon completed a valuable | in the soldiery, chiefly volunteers, and by the contract upon the elements and use of the common tentions of their officers, too equal to be easily law. It consists in the first part of twenty-five commanded, yet he did not forget the interests of legal maxims, as specimens selected from three Bacon, but wrote from Plymouth to the newhundred, in which he was desirous to establish in placed lord keeper, and all his friends in power, the science of law, as he was to establish in all strongly recommending him to their protection. science, general truths for the diminution of individual labour, and the foundation of future disco- | veries: and, his opinion being that general truths could be discovered only by an extensive collection of particulars, he proceeded in this work upon the plan suggested in his Novum Organum.
In the early part of the year 1597 his first publication appeared. It is a small 12mo. volume of Essays, Religious Meditations, and a table of the Colours of Good and Evil. In his dedication to his loving and beloved brother, he states that he published to check the circulation of spurious copies, "like some owners of orchards, who gathered the fruit before it was ripe, to prevent stealing;" and he expresses his conviction that there was nothing in the volume contrary, but rather medicinable to religion and manners, and his hope that the Essays would, to use his own words,
In the second part he explains the use of the law for the security of persons, reputation, and property; which, with the greatest anxiety to advance freedom of thought and liberty of action, he well knew and always inculcated, was to be obtained only by the strength of the law restraining and directing individual strength.1 In Or-"be like the late new halfpence, which, though pheus's Theatre, he says, "all beasts and birds the pieces were small, the silver was good." assembled, and forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, and some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men: who are are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge, which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence, and persuasion of books, of sermons, and harangues; so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion."
His preface contains his favourite doctrine, that "there is a debt of obligation from every member of a profession to assist in improving the science in which he has successfully practised," and he dedicated his work to the queen, as a sheaf and cluster of fruit of the good and favourable season enjoyed by the nation, from the influence of her happy government, by which the people were taught that part of the study of a good prince was to adorn and honour times of peace by the improvement of the laws. Although this tract was written in the year 1596, and although he was always a great admirer of Elizabeth, it was not published till after his death.
The exertions which had been made by Essex tɔ obtain the solicitorship for his friend, and his generous anxiety to mitigate his disappointment, had united them by the strongest bonds of affection.
The Essays, which are ten2 in number, abound with condensed thought and practical wisdom, neatly, pressly, and weightily stated,3 and, like all his early works, are simple, without imagery. They are written in his favourite style of aphorisms, although each essay is apparently a continued work ;4 and without that love of antithesis and false glitter to which truth and justness of thought is frequently sacrificed by the writers of maxims.
In the summer of 1596, Essex was appointed to the command of an expedition against Spain; and though he was much troubled during the embarkation of his troops, by the want of discipline In societati civili, aut lex aut vis valet.-Justitia Univer
Another edition, with a translation of the Meditationes Sacræ, was published in the next year; and a third in 1612, when he was solicitor-general; and a fourth in 1625, the year before his death.
The essays in the subsequent editions are much augmented, according to his own words; "I always alter when I add, so that nothing is finished till all his finished," and they are adorned by happy and familiar illustration, as in the essay of "Wisdom for a Man's self," which concludes in the edition of 1625 with the following extract, not to be found in the previous edition :—“ Wisdom for a man's self is in many branches thereof a depraved thing. It is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it
6. Of Expense.
7. Of Regiment of Health.
8. Of Honour and Reputation.
9. Of Faction.
10. Of Negociating.
3 See Ben Jonson's description of his speaking in parliament, ante. 25.
4 The following is selected as a specimen from his first essay "Of Study:""
Reade not to contradict, nor to believe, but to waigh and consider.
¶ Some bookes are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. That is, some bookes are to be read in others to be read but
cursorily, and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention.
Histories make men wise, poets wittie, the mathe. maticks subtle, natural philosophie deepe, moral, grave; lo gicke, and rhetoricke able to contend.