Page images





The earliest notice of the following piece which I have met with is in a letter from Mr. John Chamberlain to Mr. Dudley Carleton, dated December 16, 1608. “I come even now," he says, “ from reading a short discourse of Queen Elizabeth's life, written in Latin by Sir Francis Bacon. If you have not seen nor heard of it, it is worth your enquiry; and yet methinks he doth languescere towards the end, and falls from his first pitch: neither dare I warrant that his Latin will abide test or touch.” 1

About the same time, or not long after, Bacon himself sent a copy of it to Sir George Carew, then ambassador in France, with a letter which, though undated, enables us to fix the composition of it with tolerable certainty in the summer of 1608. “ This last summer vacation (he says), by occasion of a factious book that endeavoured to verify Misera Fæmina (the addition of the Pope's Bull) upon Queen Elizabeth, I did write a few lines in her memorial; which I thought you would be well pleased to read, both for the argument and because you were wont to bear affection to my pen. Verum ut aliud ex alio, if it came handsomely to pass, I would be glad the President De Thou (who hath written a history, as you know, of that fame and diligence) saw it; chiefly because I know not whether it may not serve him for some use in his story; wherein I would be glad he did right to the truth and to the memory of that Lady, as I perceive by that he hath already written he is well inclined to do.”

In answering a letter from Tobie Matthew dated February 10 (1608-9], Bacon sent him also a copy of this tract; with the following remarks. “I send you also a memorial of Queen

Court and Times of James I., i. 83.

Elizabeth, to requite your eulogy of the late Duke of Florence's felicity. Of this when you were here I shewed you some model; at what time methought you were more willing to hear Julius Cæsar' than Queen Elizabeth commended. But this which I send is more full, and hath more of the narrative: and further hath one part that I think will not be disagreeable either to you or to that place; being the true tract of her proceedings towards the Catholics, which are infinitely mistaken. And though I do not imagine they will pass allowance there, yet they will gain upon excuse.” Tobie Matthew, who had joined the Catholic Church not long before, could not quite allow this part himself, and appears to have taken exceptions to it in his reply. Upon which Bacon writes again, apparently in the summer of 1609, “ For that of Queen Elizabeth, your judgment of the temper and truth of that part which concerns some of her foreign proceedings, concurs fully with the judgment of others to whom I have communicated part of it; and as things go, I suppose they are likely to be more and more justified and allowed. And whereas you say, for some other part, that it moves and opens a fair occasion and broad way into some field of contradiction, on the other side it is written to me from the lieger at Paris [Sir G. Carew] and some others *also, that it carries a manifest impression of truth with it, and that it even convinces as it grows. These are their very words ; which I write not for mine own glory, but to show what variety of opinion rises from the dispositions of several readers. And I must confess my desire to be, that my writings should not court the present time or some few places, in such sort as might make them either less general to persons or less permanent in future ages." Upon this Matthew seems to have written a rejoinder on the 4th of August, to which Bacon merely replies, “ As for the memorial of the late deceased Queen, I will not question whether you be to pass for a disinteressed man or no; I freely confess myself am not, and so I leave it.”

“ This work,” says Dr. Rawley writing in 1657, “ his Lordship so much affected that he had ordained by his last will and testament to have had it published many years since; but that

Alluding possibly to the Imago Civilis Julii Cæsaris ; the piece which stands next but one in this volume, and of which we know nothing but that Dr. Rawley found it anong Bacon's papers, and printed it along with the Opuscula Philosophica in 1658.

singular person entrusted therewith soon after deceased, and therefore it must expect a time to come forth amongst his Lordship’s other Latin works:"! — alluding to the volume of Opuscula philosophica which was published in the next year, and in which it first appeared.

The will of which Dr. Rawley speaks, and of which Tenison has given an extract in the Baconiana, was probably a draft only, not a copy; for in Bacon's last will there is no mention of this piece. And as in that draft it is distinguished from his other papers by the expression of a particular wish that it should be published, it is not improbable that he had proceeded to take special measures to secure that object, by putting it into the hands of that “singular person ” to whom Dr. Rawley alludes. This would account for the omission of the clause relating to it in his last will of all, and also for the separation of the manuscript from his other papers, and afterwards (upon the death of the person entrusted with it) for its being locked up or mislaid. Considering moreover that it related to state affairs with which Bacon's official position had made him acquainted, he may have thought that it ought not to be published without the sanction of a Privy Councillor,—for we know that he had this scruple with regard to the publication of his own letters ? ; - and among all the Privy Councillors then living the man whom he would most naturally select for such a trust was his old and much revered friend Bishop Andrews, who survived him only by a few months. This is only a guess; but if true, it explains why Bacon did not propose to include this piece among his Opera Moralia et Civilia (though that indeed might be sufficiently accounted for by the probability that it would have caused the volume to be prohibited in Italy), and how the publication of it came to be so long delayed.

But however this may be, the fact with which we are principally concerned is the value which Bacon himself set upon it: and of this the draft of the will affords conclusive evidence. The work is important, because it relates to a series of proceedings which Bacon had watched almost from the beginning with anxious interest and from a position very favourable for ob

| Epistle to the Reader, in the Resuscitatio.

2 “ Also whereas I have made up two register-books, the one of my orations or speeches, the other of my epistles or letters, whereof there may be use, and yet because they touch upon business of state they are not fit to be put into the hands but of some counsellor, I do devise and bequeathe them," &c. — Last Will.

« PreviousContinue »