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Essex sailed away in a hurry for England, attended only by a few of his friends. The queen received him without any emotion either of anger or affection, and, having confined him to his own house, ordered his conduct to be examined in the StarChamber. At this usage of him, however gracious and moderate, the people, whose idol he was, loudly exclaimed and their unseasonable partiality, represented by his adversaries as of dangerous tendency to the state, kindled anew the queen's indignation against him. Thus that popularity he had so eagerly courted, and so much depended upon, served now only to hasten forward his destruction. He was sentenced by the council to be removed from his place at that board; to be suspended from his offices of earl Marshal and Master of the ordnance, and to be imprisoned during the queen's pleasure. Having humbled him thus far, she stopped short, forbidding his sentence to be entered on record, and still continuing him Master of the horse. She even gave him the full enjoyment of his liberty, upon his expressing a perfect resignation to her pleasure; but withal advised him to be his own keeper. His seeming repentance was of short duration; for upon the queen's refusal to grant him the farm of sweet wines, which he had very imprudently petitioned for, he returned out of the country, and again abandoned himself to all the impetuosity of his temper; or rather to the pernicious suggestions of his followers. Indeed the presumption that naturally grows out of successful ambition, and the interested counsels of those whose fortunes were involved with his, seem to have intirely turned his head for his actions henceforward were the genuine effects of frenzy and despair. In conjunction with his friends, of several conditions, he meditated no less an attempt than to seize on the palace, to make himself master of the queen's person, and to banish from about her all those whom he reputed his enemies. Never was conspiracy so ill laid, or conducted with so little probability of success. The court was presently
alarmed, his house invested, himself and his friends made prisoners, without any resistance on his part; for though he was embarked in a kind of rebellion, State Tri- he knew not how to be a rebel. The particulars of als, Vol. I. his trial are foreign to my purpose. It was managed p. 205. against him by Sir Edward Coke, the attorney general, and by Bacon as one of the queen's counsel. It ought not to be forgot that the former treated this unfortunate nobleman with a strain of petulant dulness and scurrility that makes us contemn his talent as a pleader, while we abhor the purpose to which he made it subservient. Bacon was moderate and decent. The crime was proved by a cloud of witnesses: and the unanimous suffrage of his peers found him guilty. After his sentence he appeared wholly indifferent to life or death: though the queen seemed still irresolute, or rather inclining to save him. He died with the tenderness of a penitent, and the firmness of a hero though the marshal de Biron jested on his deportment in that last scene of life, as suiting rather a monk than a soldier.
The untimely fate of this nobleman, who died on a scaffold in the prime and vigour of his years, excited universal pity, and was murmured against by all conditions of people. Their reflections on the prevailing party at court, even on the queen herself, were so bold and injurious, that the administration thought it necessary to vindicate their conduct in a public V. A de- appeal to the people. This task was assigned to clarat. of Bacon, even then in high esteem for his excellencies as a writer. Some say it was by his enemies insidiRob. earl ously imposed on him, to divert the national resentof Essex, Vol. III. ment from themselves upon a particular person, who was known to have lived in friendship with Essex, and whom they intended to ruin in the public esteem. If such was their intention, they succeeded but too well in it. Never man incurred more universal or more lasting censure than Bacon by this writing. He was every where traduced as one who endeavoured to murder the good name of his benefactor, after the ministry had destroyed his person
his life was even threatened; and he went in daily hazard of assassination. This obliged him to publish, in his own defence, the Apology we find among his writings. It is long and elaborate; but not, perhaps, in every part satisfactory. Let us believe Apology, him on his own testimony, that he had never done that nobleman any ill offices with the queen; though she herself had, it seems, insinuated the contrary: that on the other hand he had always, during the time of their intimacy, given him advice no less useful than sincere; that he had wished, nay endeavoured the earl's preservation even at last, purely from affection to him, without any regard to his own interest in that endeavour: let all this be allowed; some blemish will still remain on his character.
Essex deserved the fate he underwent but he had paid his debt to justice: and the commonwealth had now nothing to fear from any of his party. The declaration above mentioned could therefore be intended, only to still the present clamours of the multitude; and though the matter of it might be true, Bacon was not the man who should have pub lished those truths. He had been long and highly indebted to the earl's friendship, almost beyond the example even of that age. In another man this proceeding might not have been blameable; in him it cannot be excused. In the next reign Sir Henry Aul. CoYelverton ventured on the displeasure both of the qui. p.186. king and his minion, rather than do the ministry of his office, by pleading against the earl of Somerset, who had made him solicitor general. Had Bacon refused that invidious part, there were others, among the herd of aspiring and officious lawyers, ready enough to have performed it: and his very enemies must have thought more advantageously of him for declining a task, in itself of no essential importance to the state, and in him unjust to friendship, obligation, gratitude, the most sacred regards among
Elizabeth survived her favourite about a year: and, Osborn, if we may credit Osborn, grief and remorse for his P. 459.
He is fate accompanied her to the grave*.
She died the
twenty-fourth of March, 1603, in the fulness of days who men- and honour. Her reign had been long and triumphtions the ant: and she had through the whole course of it story of preserved, what she so justly merited, the love and veneration of her people; the truest glory, the rarest 1603. felicity of a sovereign! She was succeeded by James the sixth of Scotland, under whom Bacon ascended, by several steps, to the highest dignity of the law.
Melvil's Mem. p. 131.
This prince, the most unwarlike that ever lived, was born in the midst of civil commotions; at a time when his whole kingdom was torn into factions, betwixt the party who had espoused the interests of his mother, and those who had declared for him. After he had taken the administration into his own hands, he was hardly ever his own master; suffering himself to be led implicitly by the cabal in whose power he then happened to be. The moment he thought himself at liberty from either, like a boy escaped from under the eye of a rigid preceptor, he forgot all his uneasinesses, and abandoned himself to his favourite amusements of hawking and hunting, as if his kingdom had been in the profoundest tranquillity. He grew up in an unaccountable fondness for favourites. The first, who took deep root with him, was likewise the worst; not only encouraging him in a total inapplication to business, but tincturing his youth with the poison of all debauchery. The name of this man was Stuart, afterwards earl of Arran; one who had great and dangerous vices, without a single virtue, private or public, to atone for them an open scoffer at the obligations of morality, insolent, rapacious, sanguinary, hated by, and hating, all good men. The honester part of the nobility often remonstrated against the credit and pernicious influence of this minion: James acknowledged the justice of their remonstrances; banished him several times from court; and several times received him into new favour. He was at length shot by a private hand in revenge for the death of the earl of Morton, to which he had basely contributed. 1
James hated the church of Scotland; and con- Melvil, firmed its authority. He declared the attempt of p. 132. those lords, who had rescued him out of the hands of Arran and Lenox, to be just and serviceable: he afterwards banished them, and would have confis- p. 139. cated their estates, on that very account. When they had made themselves masters of his person a second time, he pronounced them all traitors; and pardoned p. 169. them.
Elizabeth, who knew his genius perfectly, sent Mr. Wotton on an embassy to him in 1585. Her intention was to divert him from a marriage with the princess of Denmark, and to give his counsels what other turn her interests might require. The ambassador, a man of address and intrigue, had, by long habitude, learnt to personate all characters, and to assume, with an ease that seemed altogether unaffected, whatever shape might serve most effectually the purposes of his superiors. At the age of twenty-oné p. 161. he had been employed to sound the intentions of the court of France: and had well nigh duped the famous constable de Montmorency, a minister grown grey in the observation of human falsehood and artifice. To his natural talent he had now added the experience of thirty years more. By accompanying King James in his sports; by falling in frankly, and as it were naturally, with all his passions; by making a jest of business; by entertaining him pleasantly with an account of foreign fashions and follies; this man gained an absolute ascendant not only over his understanding, but over his humour. His most faithful subjects, who had served him longest and best, who had even warned him against the subtleties of this stranger, he received with approbation or dislike, just as Wotton inspired him. He was even brought by him to be se- p. 164. riously persuaded that the king of Denmark was descended from a race of merchants, and that an alliance with his daughter was therefore infinitely beneath a king of Scotland's dignity.
Such was the prince who now mounted that throne, An. 1603. which Elizabeth had filled with so great capacity and