Page images
PDF
EPUB

weakened, which are Religion, Justice, Councell, and Treasure, men had neede to pray for faier weather. But let us leave the part of predictions, and speake of the materialls, and the causes, and the remedyes. The matter of seditions is of two kindes; much povertye and much discontent. Certainely, so manie overthrowne estates, so manie votes for troubles. Lucan noteth well the state of the tymes before the civill warre:

Hinc usura vorar, rapidumque in tempore fænus,

Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum. This same Multis utile bellum is an assured and infallible signe of a State disposed to troubles and seditions. For discontents, they are the verie humors in the politique body apt to gather a præternatural heate and to inflame. And let not Princes measure the danger of them by this whether they are just or unjust; for that were to imagine people to reasonable; nor yet by this, whether the greifes whereupon they arrise be in true proportion great, or smale; for they are the most dangerous kindes of discontents where the feare is greater then the feeling. The causes and motives of Sedition, are Religion, Taxes, alterations of Lawes and Customes, breakeing priviledges, generall oppression, Advauncement of unworthie persons, Straungers, Dearthes, and whatsoever in offending people joyneth them in a common cause. For the remedyes, there maie be some generall preservatives; the cure must aunsweare to the particuler disease. To give moderate libertye for greifes to evaporate, so it be without bravery or importunitye, is a safe way; for hee that tourneth the humours or makes the wound bleede inwardes endaungereth maligne ulcers and pernicious impostumations. Also the part of Epimetheus may become Prometheus in this case. Hee when greifes and evills flewe abroade yet kept hope in the bottome of the vessell. The politike and artificiall nourishing of some degree of hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poyson of discontents; and it is a certaine signe of a wise governement if it can hold by hope where it cannott by satisfaction. Also the foresight and prevention, that there be noe likely or fitt head whereunto discontents may resort, and under whom they maie joyne, is a knowne but an excellent pointe of caution. I understand a fitt head to be one that hath greatnesse and reputation, that hath confidence with the discontented

partie, and upon whom they tourne theire eyes, and that is thought discontent in his particular. Also the deviding and breaking of anie combination that is adverse to the State is none of the worst remedies. For it is a desperate case if the true parte of the State be full of discord and faction, and the false, entyer and unyted. Lastlie lett Princes against all events not be without some great person of militarye valew neare unto them, for the repressing of seditions in theire beginnings. For without that, there useth to be more trepidation in Courts upon the breaking out of troubles then were fitt, and the State runneth the daunger of that which Tacitus saieth; Atque is habitus animorum fuit ut pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur. But lett such one be an assured one and not popular, and holding good correspondence with the gowne men; or els the remedy is worse then the disease.

III.

ESSAYS ATTRIBUTED TO BACON WITHOUT AUTHORITY.

At the end of the Resuscitatio (published in 1657) Dr. Rawley gives what he entitles " A perfect list of his Lordship's true works both in English and Latin ;” which he concludes with these words: “as for other pamphlets, whereof there are several, put forth under his Lordship’s name, they are not to be owned for his."

Any work therefore (not contained in this list) which had appeared before 1657 in any publication which Dr. Rawley knew of, and had been there ascribed to Bacon, must be regarded as distinctly denied by him to be Bacon's.

Now in December 1642, in which year several of Bacon's smaller political pieces were published in separate pamphlets without

any editor's name or any account of the source from which they were taken, there appeared among others a 4to of eight pages with the following title : An Essay of a King, with an erplanation what manner of persons those should be that are to execute the power or ordinance of the King's Prerogative. Written by the Right Honourable Francis, Lord Verulam Viscount Saint Alban. December 2. London, Printed for Richard Best, 1642.

In 1648 appeared a 4to volume of 103 pages, entitled The Remaines of the Right Honorable Francis, Lord Verulam, Viscount of St. Albanes, sometimes Lord Chancellour of England; being Essayes and severall letters to severall great Personages, and other pieces of various high concernment not heretofore published. A table whereof for the reader's more ease is adjoyned. London, printed by B. Alsop for Laurence Chapman and are to be sold at his shop neer the Savoy in the Strand, 1648.

Most of the pieces in the volume are genuine, and were afterwards published by Rawley from the originals. And it is probably to this collection that he alludes, when he alleges as a reason for publishing some things which Bacon himself did not design for publication, that “through the loose keeping of his Lordship’s papers whilst he lived, divers surreptitious copies

have been taken ; which have since employed the press with sundry corrupt and mangled editions ; whereby nothing hath been more difficult than to find the Lord Saint Alban in the Lord Saint Alban; and which have presented (some of them) rather a fardle of nonsense, than any true expression of his Lordship’s happy vein;" and that therefore he “ thought himself in a sort tied to vindicate those injuries and wrongs done to his Lordship’s pen; and at once, by setting forth the true and genuine writings themselves, to prevent the like invasions for the time to come.” But whatever the publications may have been to which he alluded, it is hardly conceivable that the existence of this volume was unknown to him; and we must therefore regard all those pieces which it contains, and which are not directly or by implication contained in his own “perfect list,” as included in his general repudiation. It does not, indeed, follow that none of them are genuine ; because Rawley may have been mistaken; but that every such piece was in his opinion spurious, can hardly be disputed: and he had such very good means of judging, that his opinion is not to be set aside except upon very strong evidence.

Now the two first pieces in the "Remains” are the contents of the pamphlet of which I have quoted the title. Standing where they do, they could not have been overlooked: yet neither of them is to be found in any of the publications cited in Rawley's “perfect list.” The inevitable inference is, that Rawley did not believe them to be the work of Bacon; and certainly in this case there is no evidence internal or external which can justify us in overruling his judgment. The Essay of a King, does indeed contain several sentences which are much in Bacon's manner, and which might have been written by him. But the total composition does not read like his; and even if the external evidences had been equally balanced (which is by no means the case ; for the fact that somebody thought it was Bacon's cannot be taken as a counterpoise to the fact that Rawley thought it was not), I should myself have been inclined, upon consideration of the internal evidence alone, to reject it.

The other piece is still less like Bacon's work. Mr. Heath, finding it printed among his writings, and knowing nothing of its history, was at once led to doubt its genuineness, from a consideration of the matter and opinions as well as the style. Had I thought its pretensions more reasonable, I should have VOL. VI.

QQ

reserved it for another place: for it has no affinity to the class of works with which we are at present dealing. But as my only business with it is to discredit its pretensions to be admitted among Bacon's works at all, I have thought it better not to separate it from its companion, but to print it here in connexion with the evidence on which the question of its authenticity rests.

Passing over for the present a little piece entitled Short Notes for Civil Conversation (the claims of which to a place among Bacon's writings have other evidence to support them, and will be explained hereafter), we come next to a very remarkable composition -- An Essay on Death. This stands fourth in the volume, and being also too conspicuous to have been overlooked must be regarded as disclaimed by Dr. Rawley. I do not know whether it had been printed before. It is an eloquent and touching composition, very peculiar in style, and marked with a “humorous sadness” which reminds me of nobody so much as Sir Thomas Browne. Sir Thomas Browne was born in 1605, and therefore there is nothing in the date to preclude the supposition that he was the author of it. How far his never having claimed it is to be taken as an objection, or what other difficulties the supposition may involve, I am not well enough acquainted with his biography to judge. But whoever may have written it, I am fully convinced that Bacon did not. Nothing is less probable than that he would have written so grave a thing on so grave a subject merely as an exercise in imitating another man's style; and the style is so unlike his own, that if we suppose him the author of it we must suppose no less. And the only reason we have for imputing it to him is, that within twenty-four years after his death there was somebody or other who thought it was his; against which must be set the fact that Rawley thought it was not.

Of two other pieces commonly printed among Bacon's works, and ascribed to him solely, I believe, on the authority of this same volume (to which nobody stands sponsor), - the Letter of Advice to Sir Edward Coke on occasion of his being removed from the Chief Justiceship, and a little tract entitled The Characters of a believing Christian, in Paradoxes and seeming Contradictions,-I will speak more fully when they come before me in their proper places. That the letter to Coke was written by Bacon, no one can believe who knows what it is about; but

« PreviousContinue »