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BACON'S MORAL, THEOLOGICAL, AND HISTORICAL WORKS.
SECTION 1.-THE ESSAYS.
THE father of Francis Bacon was Sir Nicholas Bacon, Keeper of the Great Seal from the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558 till his death in 1579; his mother was Anne, the second of the four learned daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, of whom the eldest married Lord Burleigh, and the third Lord Russell, son of the second Earl of Bedford. She was the second wife of Sir Nicholas, who had had by a former wife three sons and three daughters. Francis was the younger of two sons by the second marriage, the other being named Anthony.
He was born in London, at his father's residence, called York House,* from having been properly the town mansion of the Archbishops of York. Mr. Montagu says that it is the same house which is now numbered 31, Strand, being the corner house on the west side of Villiers Street; but Villiers Street is only one of several streets that were built upon the grounds of York House, after the site was disposed of by the second Villiers Duke of Buckingham some years subsequent to the Restora
*This house was rented from the Archbishop of York not only by Sir Nicholas Bacon, when Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, but by his successors in the same office, or in that of Lord Chancellor, Sir John Puckering, Lord Ellesmere, and finally his illustrious son. It was afterwards acquired from Archbishop Mathew by the crown, and bestowed by James I. upon Villiers Duke of Buckingham.
tion. The common account of this York House,-which must not be confounded with the earlier York House, or York Place, so called from having been the archiepiscopal residence till it was purchased by Henry VIII. from Cardinal Wolsey in 1530, which stood on the site of Whitehall, and of which a portion still remains in the official residence of the Comptroller of the Exchequer, is, that it stood a little to the west of Inigo Jones's handsome erection still called the York Stairs Watergate, in the midst of a garden skirted by the river. We doubt if any part of it extended to the street. The expression of Bacon's first biographer, Dr. Rawley, in his account as translated by himself into Latin, which is in several minute particulars more precise and accurate than the original English, is, that he was born in York Palace, "infra plateam dictam le Strand," which would seem to mean, not in the Strand, but below or back from it.
His birth took place, according to Rawley, on the 22nd of January, 1560. But, as we are afterwards told that at his death, in April, 1626, he was only in his sixtysixth year, by January, 1560, must be meant, as was then the usual mode of computation, what we should now call January, 1561.*
He was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge, when he was only in his thirteenth year, along with his brother Anthony, who was his senior by two or three years. They were both matriculated as members of the university on the 10th of June, 1573. It is not very clear how long he remained at Cambridge. Mr. Montagu makes him to have left after a residence of only two years; but Rawley, in his English Life,' says,
* Dugdale, however, in his 'Baronage,' vol. ii., pp. 437-439, as the account is reprinted by Archbishop Tenison in the Baconiana, p. 246, makes him to have been born in the 2nd of Elizabeth, which would be in January, 1560. But he afterwards contradicts himself by stating (p. 257) that, at his death in April, 1626, he was in the sixty-sixth year of his age. + Life, p. x. Six pages after, indeed, he says that he was ent to France "after three years' residence in the University."
"Whilst he was commorant in the university, about sixteen years of age (as his Lordship hath been pleased to impart unto myself), he first fell into the dislike of the philosophy of Aristotle; not for the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ever ascribe all high attributes, but for the unfruitfulness of the way; being a philosophy, as his Lordship used to say, only strong for disputations and contentions, but barren of the production of works for the benefit of the life of man. In which
mind he continued to his dying day." In the subsequent Latin translation the expression he uses is slightly different, and somewhat more precise:-" tantum non sexdecim annos ætatis nato," when he had all but completed his sixteenth year. The time referred to, then, may be taken to have been towards the close of the year 1576. This computation agrees very well with what follows in Rawley's account:-" After he had passed the circle of the liberal arts, his father thought fit to frame and mould him for the arts of state; and, for that end, sent him over into France with Sir Amyas Paulet, then employed ambassador lieger into France." According to Mr. Montagu (Life, Note O), Sir Amyas Paulet was sent as ambassador to France in September, 1576; although he immediately subjoins an extract of a letter from Sir Amyas, dated 22nd June, 1577, in which, writing to a friend in England, he says, "One year is already spent since my departure from you." In his Sylva Sylvarum (Experiment 997) Bacon himself speaks of having been at Paris when he was "about sixteen years old."
With the exception of a short visit to England with dispatches from the ambassador to the queen, which must have been made before December, 1578, when Sir Amyas was recalled, Bacon remained in France till after the death of his father, which took place in February, 1579. In his Sylva (Experiment 986) he mentions having been in Paris when he received the news. His later biographers make him to have spent some time after the recal of Sir Amyas Paulet in visiting the provincial parts of France; and there are some traces in his writings of his having at least once made an excursion to t
south-west. In his Sylva (Experiment 365) he makes mention of a mode of thickening milk practised in a village near Blois, in such a manner as if he had seen it; and in another work of his latter years, his Historia Vitæ et Mortis, he records a conversation he had had with a person whom he met when he was a young man at Poictiers. In the Sixth Book of the De Augmentis Scientiarum, he gives an account of a method of cyphers which he says he invented when he was a young man at Paris. It was in that capital, no doubt, that he spent by far the greater part, if not the whole, of the two years and a half, or thereby, that he seems to have remained abroad. Mr. Montagu mentions, as a fact illustrative of the impression he had already begun to make, “that an eminent artist, to whom, when in Paris, he sat for his portrait, was so conscious of his inability to do justice to his extraordinary intellectual endowments, that he has written on the side of his picture, Si tabula daretur digna, animum mallem" (If the canvas were worthy of it, I should prefer a picture of his mind). This is the portrait of which Mr. Montagu has given an engraving in the first volume of his edition of the works of Bacon, where it is described as a miniature by Hillyard.
It appears that Bacon was entered a student of Gray's Inn on the 21st of November, 1576; his four brothers, Nicholas, Nathaniel, Edward, and Anthony, being also all entered on the same day.* of his inn in 1586; and in Reader. In Gray's Inn he
He was made a Bencher 1588 he was elected Lent erected, Rawley, writing
*The true date of Bacon's admission as a student of Gray's Inn was, we believe, stated for the first time in an article in the London Review,' No. IV. (for October, 1835), p. 523, note. It had been assumed by Mr. Montagu, that he did not commence the study of the law till 1580. The authority referred to by the London Reviewer, is the Harleian MS., 1812, which is described as "a large volume of copies of the records of Gray's Inn." The original admission-book for this date is lost.
in 1657, tells us, "that elegant pile or structure commonly known by the name of the Lord Bacon's Lodgings; which he inhabited by turns the most part of his life (some few years only excepted) unto his dying day." "The apartments in which Lord Bacon resided," says Mr. Montagu, are said to be at No. 1, Gray's Inn Square, on the north side, one pair of stairs; I visited them in June, 1832. They are said to be, and they appear to be, in the same state in which they must have been for the last two centuries; handsome oak wainscot, and a beautiful ornament over the chimney-piece.” "In the garden," Mr. Montagu adds, "there was, till within the last three or four years, a small elevation surrounded by trees, called Lord Bacon's Mount, and there was a legend that the trees were planted by him; they were removed to raise the new building now on the west side of the garden, and they stood about three-fourths from the south end." The elms in the walks were also planted by Bacon, when he was Double Reader, in the year 1600.
Mr. Montagu gives from the original preserved among the Lansdowne MSS. a letter of Bacon's to Lord Burghley, dated 6th May, 1586, from which, he says, it appears that Bacon had some time before applied to the Lord Treasurer to be called within the bar, or to be made what was then called an inner barrister. But this was no doubt merely his application to be made a bencher, his promotion to which rank Mr. Montagu has previously noticed. The inner barristers of that day were the benchers and readers, the term having reference to the bar, not of the court, but of the hall of the inn, and the place occupied by them at the readings and exercises of the house. The letter, however, is interesting for what Bacon says of his own disposition and habits at this date. "I find also," he writes, "that such persons as are of nature bashful (as myself is), whereby they want that plausible familiarity which others have, are often mistaken for proud. But once I know well, and I most humbly beseech your Lordship to believe, that arrogancy and over-weening is so far from my nature, as, if I thin