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Sir Francis Bacon His Apologie,

In Certaine Imputations

Concerning the Late Earle of Essex.

To the Right Honourable his very good Lord the Earl of Devonshire, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

IT may please your good Lordship: I cannot be ignorant, and ought to be sensible, of the wrong which I sustain in common speech, as if I had been false or unthankful to that noble but unfortunate Earl, the Earl of Essex: and for satisfying the vulgar sort, I do no so much regard it; though I love good name, but yet as an handmaid and attendant of honesty and virtue. For I am of his opinion that said pleasantly, That it was a shame to him that was a suitor to the mistress, to make love to the waiting-woman; and therefore to woo or court common fame otherwise than it followeth upon honest courses, I, for my part, find not myself fit nor disposed. But on the other side, there is no worldly thing that concerneth myself which I hold more dear than the good opinion of certain persons; amongst which there is none I would more willingly give satisfaction unto than to your Lordship. First, because you loved my Lord of Essex, and therefore will not be partial towards me; which is part of that I desire: next, because it hath ever pleased you to show yourself to me an honourable friend, and so no baseness in me to seek to satisfy you: and lastly, because I know your Lordship is excellently grounded in the true rules and habits of duties and moralities; which must be they which shall decide this matter: wherein (my Lord) my defence needeth to be but simple and brief: namely, that whatsoever I did concerning that action and proceeding, was done in my duty and service to the Queen and the State; in which I would not shew myself false-hearted nor faint-hearted for any man's sake living. For every honest man, that hath his heart well planted, will forsake his King rather than forsake God, and forsake his friend rather than forsake his King; and yet will forsake any earthly commodity, yea and his own life in some cases, rather than forsake his friend. I hope the world hath not forgotten these degrees, else the heathen saying, Amicus usque ad aras, shall judge them. And if any man shall say that I did officiously intrude myself into that business, because I had no ordinary place; the like may be said of all the business in effect that passed the hands of the learned counsel, either of State or Revenues, these many years, wherein I was continually used. For, as your Lordship may remember, the Queen knew her strength so well, as she looked her word should be a warrant; and after the manner of the choicest princes before her, did not always tie her trust to place, but did sometime divide private favour from office. And I for my part, though I was not so unseen in the world but I knew the condition was subject to envy and peril; yet because I knew again she was constant in her favours, and made an end where she began, and specially because she upheld me with extraordinary access, and other demonstrations of confidence and grace, I resolved to endure it in expectation of better. But my scope and desire is, that your Lordship would be pleased to have the honourable patience to know the truth in some particularity of all that passed in this cause wherein I had any part, that you may perceive how honest a heart I ever bare to my Sovereign and to my Country, and to that Nobleman, who had so well deserved of me, and so well accepted of my deservings; whose fortune I cannot remember without much grief. But for any action of mine towards him, there is nothing that passed me in my life-time that cometh to my remembrance with more clearness and less check of conscience; for it will appear to your Lordship that I was not only not opposite to my Lord of Essex, but that I did occupy the utmost of my wits, and adventure my fortune with the Queen to have reintegrated his, and so continued faithfully and industriously till his last fatal impatience (for so I will call it), after which day there was not time to work for him; though the same my affection, when it could not work on the subject proper, went to the next, with no ill effect towards some others, who I think do rather not know it than not acknowledge it. And this I will assure your Lordship, I will leave nothing untold that is truth, for any enemy that I have to add; and on the other side, I must reserve much which makes for me, upon many respects of duty, which I esteem above my credit: and what I have here set down to your Lordship, I protest, as I hope to have any part in God's favour, is true.

      It is well known, how I did many years since dedicate my travels and studies to the use and (as I may term it) service of my Lord of Essex, which, I protest before God, I did not, making election of him as the likeliest mean of mine own advancement, but out of the humour of a man, that ever, from the time I had any use of reason (whether it were reading upon good books, or upon the example of a good father, or by nature) I loved my country more than was answerable to my fortune, and I held at that time my Lord to be the fittest instrument to do good to the State; and therefore I applied myself to him in a manner which I think happeneth rarely amongst men: for I did not only labour carefully and industriously in that he set me about, whether it were matter of advice or otherwise, but neglecting the Queen's service, mine own fortune, and in a sort my vocation, I did nothing but devise and ruminate with myself to the best of my understanding, propositions and memorials of any thing that might concern his Lordship's honour, fortune, or service. And when not long after I entered into this course, my brother Master Anthony Bacon came from beyond the seas, being a gentleman whose ability the world taketh knowledge of for matters of State, specially foreign, I did likewise knit his service to be at my Lord's disposing. And on the other side, I must and will ever acknowledge my Lord's love, trust, and favour towards me; and last of all his liberality, having infeoffed me of land which I sold for eighteen hundred pounds to Master Reynold Nicholas, and I think was more worth, and that at such a time, and with so kind and noble circumstances, as the manner was as much as the matter; which though it be but an idle digression, yet because I am not willing to be short in commemoration of his benefits, I will presume to trouble your Lordship with relating to you the manner of it. After the Queen had denied me the Solicitor's place, for the which his Lordship had been a long and earnest suitor on my behalf, it pleased him to come to me from Richmond to Twicknam Park, and brake with me, and said: Master Bacon, the Queen hath denied me yon place for you, and hath placed another; I know you are the least part of your own matter, but you fare ill because you have chosen me for your mean and dependence; you have spent your time and thoughts in my matters; I die (these were his very words) if I do not somewhat towards your fortune: you shall not deny to accept a piece of land which I will bestow upon you. My answer I remember was, that for my fortune it was no great matter; but that his Lordship's offer made me call to mind what was wont to be said when I was in France of the Duke of Guise, that he was the greatest usurer in France, because he had turned all his estate into obligations: meaning that he had left himself nothing, but only had bound numbers of persons to him. Now my Lord (said I) I would not have you imitate his course, nor turn your state thus by great gifts into obligations, for you will find many bad debtors. He bade me take no care for that, and pressed it: whereupon I said: My Lord, I see I must be your homager, and hold land of your gift; but do you know the manner of doing homage in law? always it is with a saving of his faith to the King and his other Lords; and therefore, my Lord (said I), I can be no more yours than I was, and it must be with the ancient savings: and if I grow to be a rich man, you will give me leave to give it back to some of your unrewarded followers. But to return: sure I am (though I can arrogate nothing to myself but that I was a faithful remembrancer to his Lordship) that while I had most credit with him his fortune went on best. And yet in two main points we always directly and contradictorily differed, which I will mention to your Lordship, because it giveth light to all that followed. The one was, I ever set this down, that the only course to be held with the Queen, was by obsequiousness and observance; and I remember I would usually gage confidently, that if he would take that course constantly, and with choice of good particulars to express it, the Queen would be brought in time to Assuerus question, to ask, What should be done to the man that the King would honour: meaning, that her goodness was without limit, where there was a true concurrence; which I knew in her nature to be true. My Lord on the other side had a settled opinion, that the Queen could he brought to nothing but by a kind of necessity and authority; and I well remember, when by violent courses at ally time he had got his will, lie would ask me: Now Sir, whose principles be true? and I would again say to him: My Lord, these courses be like to hot waters, they will help at a pang; but if you use them, you shall spoil the stomach, and you shall be fain still to make them stronger and stronger, and yet in the end they will lesse their operation; with much other variety, wherewith I used to touch that string. Another point was, that I always vehemently dissuaded him from seeking greatness by a military dependence, or by a popular dependence, as that which would breed in the Queen jealousy, in himself presumption, and in the State perturbation: and I did usually compare them to Icarus' two wings which were joined on with wax, and would make him venture to soar too high, and then fail him at the height. And I would further say unto him; My Lord, stand upon two feet, and fly not upon two wings. The two feet are the two kinds of Justice, commutative and distributive: use your greatness for advancing of merit and virtue, and relieving wrongs and burdens; you shall need no other art or fineness: but he would tell me, that opinion came not from my mind but from my robe. But it is very true that I, that never meant to enthral myself to my Lord of Essex, nor any other man, more than stood with the public good, did (though I could little prevail) divert him by all means possible from courses of the wars and popularity: for I saw plainly the Queen must either live or die; if she lived, then the times would be as in the declination of an old prince; if she died, the times would be as in the beginning of a new; and that if his Lordship did rise too fast in these courses, the times might he dangerous for him, and he for them. Nay, I remember I was thus plain with him upon his voyage to the Islands, when I saw every spring put forth such actions of charge and provocation, that I said to him: My Lord, when I came first unto you, I took you for a physician that desired to cure the diseases of the State; but now I doubt you will be like those physicians which can be content to keep their patients low, because they would always be in request: which plainness he nevertheless took very well, as he had an excellent ear, and was patientissimus veri, and assured me the case of the realm required it: and I think this speech of mine, and the like renewed afterwards, pricked him to write that Apology which is in many men's hands.
      But this difference in two points so main and material, bred in process of time a discontinuance of privateness (as it is the manner of men seldom to communicate where they think their courses not approved) between his Lordship and myself; so as I was not called nor advised with, for some year and a half before his Lordship's going into Ireland, as in former time: yet nevertheless touching his going into Ireland, it pleased him expressly and in a set manner to desire mine opinion and counsel. At which time I did not only dissuade, but protest against his going, telling him with as much vehemency and asseveration as I could, that absence in that kind would exulcerate the Queen's mind, whereby it would not be possible for him to carry himself so as to give her sufficient contentment; nor for her to carry herself so as to give him sufficient countenance: which would be ill for her, ill for him, and ill for the State. And because I would omit no argument, I remember I stood also upon the difficulty of the action; setting before him out of histories, that the Irish was such an enemy as the ancient Gauls, or Britons, or Germans were, and that we saw how the Romans, who had such discipline to govern their soldiers, and such donatives to encourage them, and the whole world in a manner to levy them; yet when they came to deal with enemies which placed their felicity only in liberty and the sharpness of their sword, and had the natural and elemental advantages of woods, and bogs, and hardness of bodies, they ever found they had their hands full of them; and therefore concluded, that going over with such expectation as he did, and through the churlishness of the enterprize not like to answer it, would mightily diminish his reputation: and many other reasons I used, so as I am sure I never in any thing in my life-time dealt with him in like earnestness by speech, by writing, and by all the means I could devise. For I did as plainly see his overthrow chained as it were by destiny to that journey, as it is possible for any man to ground a judgment upon future contingents. But my Lord, howsoever his ear was open, yet his heart and resolution was shut against that advice, whereby his ruin might have been prevented. After my Lord's going, I saw how true a prophet I was, in regard of the evident alteration which naturally succeeded in the Queen's mind; and thereupon I was still in watch to find the best occasion that in the weakness of my power I could either take or minister, to pull him out of the fire if it had been possible: and not long after, methought I saw some overture thereof which I apprehended readily; a particularity I think be known to very few, and the which I do the rather relate unto your Lordship, because I hear it should be talked, that while my Lord was in Ireland I revealed some matter against him, or I cannot tell what; which if it were not a mere slander as the rest is, but had any though never so little colour, was surely upon this occasion. The Queen one day at Nonesuch, a little (as I remember) before Cuffe's coming over, I attending her, shewed a passionate distaste of my Lord's proceedings in Ireland, as if they were unfortunate, without judgment, contemptuous, and not without some private end of his own, and all that might be, and was pleased, as she spake of it to many that she trusted least, so to fall into the like speech with me; whereupon I, who was still awake and true to my grounds which I thought surest for my Lord's good, said to this effect: Madam, I know not the particulars of estate, and I know this, that Princes' actions must have no abrupt periods or conclusions, but otherwise I would think, that if you had my Lord of Essex here with a white staff in his hand, as my Lord of Leicester had, and continued him still about you for society to yourself; and for an honour and ornament to your attendance and Court in the eyes of your people, and in the eyes of foreign Embassadors, then were he in his right element: for to discontent him as you do, and yet to put arms and power into his hands, may be a kind of temptation to make him prove cumbersome and unruly. And therefore if you would imponere bonam clausulam, and send for him and satisfy him with honour here near you, if your affairs which (as I have said) I am not acquainted with, will permit it, I think were the best way. Which course, your Lordship knoweth, if it had been taken, then all had been well, and no contempt in my Lord's coming over, nor continuance of these jealousies, which that employment of Ireland bred, and my Lord here in his former greatness. Well, the next news that I heard was, that my Lord was come over, and that he was committed to his chamber for leaving Ireland without the Queen's licence: this was at Nonesuch, where (as my duty was) I came to his Lordship, and talked with him privately about a quarter of an hour, and he asked mine opinion of the course was taken with him; I told him, My Lord, Nubecula est, cito transibit; it is but a mist: but shall I tell your Lordship, it is as mists are, if it go upwards, it may haps cause a shower, if downwards, it will clear up. And therefore good my Lord carry it so, as you take away by all means all umbrages and distastes from the Queen; and specially, if I were worthy to advise you (as I have been by yourself thought, and now your question imports the continuance of that opinion) observe three points: First, make not this cessation or peace which is concluded with Tyrone, as a service wherein you glory, but as a shuffling up of a prosecution which was not very fortunate. Next, represent not to the Queen any necessity of estate, whereby, as by a coercion or wrench, she should think herself inforced to send you back into Ireland, but leave it to her. Thirdly, seek access importunè, opportunè, seriously, sportingly, every way. I remember my Lord was willing to hear me, but spake very few words, and shaked his head sometimes, as if he thought I was in the wrong; but sure I am, he did just contrary in every one of these three points. After this, during the while since my Lord was committed to my Lord Keeper's, I came divers times to the Queen, as I had used to do, about causes of her revenue and law business, as is well known; by reason of which accesses, according to the ordinary charities of Court, it was given out that I was one of them that incensed the Queen against my Lord of Essex. These speeches, I cannot tell, nor I will not think, that they grew any way from her Majesty's own speeches, whose memory I will ever honour; if they did, she is with God, and miserum est ab illis laedi, de quibus non possis queri. But I must give this testimony to my Lord Cecil, that one time in his house at the Savoy he dealt with me directly, and said to me, Cousin, I hear it, but I believe it not, that you should do some ill office to my Lord of Essex; for my part I am merely passive and not active in this action, and I follow the Queen and that heavily, and I lead her not; my Lord of Essex is one that in nature I could consent with as well as with any one living; the Queen indeed is my Sovereign, and I am her creature, I may not leese her, and the same course I would wish you to take: whereupon I satisfied him how far I was from any such mind. And as sometimes it cometh to pass, that men's inclinations are opened more in a toy, than in a serious matter: A little before that time, being about the middle of Michaelmas term, her Majesty had a purpose to dine at my lodge at Twicknam Park, at which time I had (though I profess not to be a poet) prepared a sonnet directly tending and alluding to draw on her Majesty's reconcilement to my Lord, which I remember also I shewed to a great person, and one of my Lord's nearest friends, who commended it: this, though it be (as I said) but a toy, yet it shewed plainly in what spirit I proceeded, and that I was ready not only to do my Lord good offices, but to publish and declare myself for him: and never was so ambitious of any thing in my life-time, as I was to have carried some token or favour from her Majesty to my Lord; using all the art I had, both to procure her Majesty to send, and myself to be the messenger: for as to the former, I feared not to allege to her, that this proceeding toward my Lord was a thing towards the people very implausible; and therefore wished her Majesty, howsoever she did, yet to discharge herself of it, and to lay it upon others; and therefore that she should intermix her proceeding with some immediate graces from herself that the world might take knowledge of her princely nature and goodness, lest it should alienate the hearts of her people from her. Which I did stand upon, knowing very well that if she once relented to send or visit, those demonstrations would prove matter of substance for my Lord's good. And to draw that employment upon myself, I advised her Majesty, that whensoever God should move her to turn the light of her favour towards my Lord, to make signification to him thereof, that her Majesty, if she did it not in person, would at the least use some such mean as might not entitle themselves to any part of the thanks, as persons that were thought mighty with her, to work her, or to bring her about; but to use some such as could not be thought but a mere conduct of her own goodness: but I could never prevail with her, though I am persuaded she saw plainly whereat I levelled; but she had me in jealousy, that I was not hers entirely, but still had in ward and deep respects towards my Lord, more than stood at that time with her will and pleasure. About the same time I remember an answer of mine in a matter which had some affinity with my Lord's cause, which though it grew from me, went after about in others' names. For her Majesty being mightily incensed with that book which was dedicated to my Lord of Essex, being a story of the first year of King Henry the fourth, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's heads boldness and faction, said she had good opinion that there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn within case of treason: whereto I answered: for treason surely I found none, but for felony very many. And when her Majesty hastily asked me wherein, I told her the author had committed very apparent theft, for he had taken most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus, and translated them into English, and put them into his text. And another time, when the Queen would not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author, and said with great indignation that she would have him racked to produce his author, I replied, Nay Madam, he is a Doctor, never rack his person, but rack his stile; let him have pen, ink, and paper, and help of books, and be enjoined to continue the story where it breaketh off, and I will undertake by collecting the stiles to judge whether he were the author or no. But for the main matter, sure I am, when the Queen at any time asked mine opinion of my Lord's case, I ever in one tenor said unto her; That they were faults which the law might term contempts, because they were the trangression of her particular directions and instructions: but then what defence might be made of them, in regard of the great interest the person had in her Majesty's favour; in regard of the greatness of his place, and the ampleness of his commission; in regard of the nature of the business, being action of war, which in common cases cannot be tied to strictness of instructions; in regard of the distance of place, having also a sea between, that demands and commands must be subject to wind and weather; in regard of a counsel of State in Ireland which He had at his back to avow his actions upon; and lastly, in regard of a good intention that he would allege for himself, which I told her in some religions was held to be a sufficient dispensation for God's commandments, much more for Princes': in all these regards, I besought her Majesty to be advised again and again, how she brought the cause into any public question: nay, I went further, for I told her, my Lord was all eloquent and well-spoken man, and besides his eloquence of nature or art, he had an eloquence of accident which passed them both, which was the pity and benevolence of his hearers; and therefore that when he should come to his answer for himself, I doubted his words would have so unequal passage above theirs that should charge him, as would not be for her Majesty's honour; and therefore wished the conclusion might be, that they might wrap it up privately between themselves, and that she would restore my Lord to his former attendance, with some addition of honour to take away discontent. But this I will never deny, that I did show no approbation generally of his being sent back again into Ireland, both because it would have carried a repugnancy with my former discourse, and because I was in mine own heart fully persuaded that it was not good, neither for the Queen, nor for the State, nor for himself: and yet I did not dissuade it neither, but left it ever as locus lubricus. For this particularity I do well remember, that after your Lordship was named for the place in Ireland, and not long before your going, it pleased her Majesty at Whitehall to speak to me of that nomination: at which time I said to her; Surely Madam, if you mean not to employ my Lord of Essex thither again, your Majesty cannot make a better choice; and was going on to shew some reason; and her Majesty interrupted me with great passion: Essex! (said she); whensoever I send Essex back again into Ireland, I will marry you, claim it of me: whereunto I said; Well Madam, I will release that contract, if his going be for the good of your State. Immediately after the Queen had thought of a course (which was also executed) to have somewhat published in the Star-chamber, for the satisfaction of the world touching my Lord of Essex his restraint, and my Lord of Essex not to be called to it, but occasion to be taken by reason of some libels then dispersed: which when her Majesty propounded unto me, I was utterly against it; and told her plainly, that the people would say that my Lord was wounded upon his back, and that Justice had her balance taken from her, which ever consisted of an accusation and defence, with many other quick and significant terms to that purpose: insomuch that I remember I said, that my Lord in foro famae was too hard for her; and therefore wished her, as I had done before, to wrap it up privately. And certainly I offended her at that time, which was rare with me: for I call to mind, that both the Christmas, Lent, and Easter term following, though I came divers times to her upon law business, yet methought her face and manner was not so clear and open to me as it was at the first. And she did directly charge me, that I was absent that day at the Star-chamber, which was very true; but I alledged some indisposition of body to excuse it: and during all the time aforesaid, there was altum silentium from her to me touching my Lord of Essex causes.
      But towards the end of Easter term, her Majesty brake with me, and told me that she had found my words true: for that the proceeding in the Star-chamber had done no good, but rather kindled factious bruits (as she termed them) than quenched them, and therefore that she was determined now for the satisfaction of the world, to proceed against my Lord in the Star-chamber by an information ore tenus, and to have my Lord brought to his answer: howbeit she said she would assure me that whatsoever she did should be towards my Lord ad castigationem, et non ad destructionem; as indeed she had often repeated the same phrase before: whereunto I said (to the end utterly to divert her) Madam, if you will have me speak to you in this argument, I must speak to you as Friar Bacon's head spake, that said first, Time is, and then Time was, and Time would never be: for certainly (said I) it is now far too late, the matter is cold and hath taken too much wind; whereat she seemed again offended and rose from me, and that resolution for a while continued; and after, in the beginning of Midsummer term, I attending her, and finding her settled in that resolution (which I heard of also otherwise), she falling upon the like speech, it is true that, seeing no other remedy, I said to her slightly, Why, Madam, if you will needs have a proceeding, you were best have it in some such sort as Ovid spake of his mistress, Est aliquid luce patente minus, to make a counsel-table matter of it, and there an end; which speech again she seemed to take in ill part; but yet I think it did good at that time, and hoIp to divert that course of proceeding by information in the Star-chamber. Nevertheless afterwards it pleased her to make a more solemn matter of the proceeding; and some few days after, when order was given that the matter should he heard at York-house, before an assembly of Counsellors, Peers, and Judges, and some audience of men of quality to be admitted, and then did some principal counsellors send for us of the learned counsel, and notify her Majesty's pleasure unto us, save that it was said to me openly by one of them, that her Majesty was not yet resolved whether she would have me forborne in the business or no. And hereupon might arise that other sinister and untrue speech that I hear is raised of me, how I was a suitor to be used against my Lord of Essex at that time: for it is very true that I, that knew well what had passed between the Queen and me, and what occasion I had given her both of distaste and distrust in crossing her disposition by standing steadfastly for my Lord of Essex, and suspecting it also to be a stratagem arising from some particular emulation, I writ to her two or three words of compliment, signifying to her Majesty, that if she would be pleased to spare me in my Lord of Essex cause, out of the consideration she took of my obligation towards him, I should reckon it for one of her highest favours; but otherwise desiring her Majesty to think that I knew the degrees of duties, and that no particular obligation whatsoever to any subject could supplant or weaken that entireness of duty that I did owe and bear to her and her service; and this was the goodly suit I made, being a respect that no man that had his wits could have omitted: but nevertheless I had a further reach in it, for I judged that day's work would be a full period of any bitterness or harshness between the Queen and my Lord, and therefore if I declared myself fully according to her mind at that time, which could not do my Lord any manner of prejudice, I should keep my credit with her ever after, whereby to do my Lord service. Hereupon the next news that I heard was, that we were all sent for again, and that her Majesty's pleasure was, we all should have parts in the business; and the Lords falling into distribution of our parts, it was allotted to me, that I should set forth some undutiful carriage of my Lord, in giving occasion and countenance to a seditious pamphlet, as it was termed, which was dedicated unto him, which was the book before-mentioned of king Henry the fourth. Whereupon I replied to that allotment, and said to their Lordships, that it was an old matter, and had no manner of coherence with the rest of the charge, being matters of Ireland, and therefore that I having been wronged by bruits before, this would expose me to them more; and it would be said I gave in evidence mine own tales. It was answered again with good shew, that because it was considered how I stood tied to my Lord of Essex, therefore that part was thought fittest for me which did him least hurt; for that whereas all the rest was matter of charge and accusation, this only was but matter of caveat and admonition. Wherewith though I was in mine own mind little satisfied, because I knew well a man were better to be charged with some faults, than admonished of some others: yet the conclusion binding upon the Queen's pleasure directly volens nolens, I could not avoid that part that was laid upon me; which part if in the delivery I did handle not tenderly (though no man before me did in so clear terms free my Lord from all disloyalty as I did), that, your Lordship knoweth, must be ascribed to the superior duty I did owe to the Queen's fame and honour in a public proceeding, and partly to the intention I had to uphold myself in credit and strength with the Queen, the better to be able to do my Lord good offices afterwards: for as soon as this day was past, I lost no time, but the very next day following (as I remember) I attended her Majesty, fully resolved to try and put in ure my utmost endeavour, so far as I in my weakness could give furtherance, to bring my Lord again speedily into Court and into favour; and knowing (as I supposed at least) how the Queen was to be used, I thought that to make her conceive that the matter went well then, was the way to make her leave off there: and I remember well, I said to her, You have now Madam obtained victory over two things, which the greatest princes in the world cannot at their wills subdue; the one is over fame, the other is over a great mind: for surely the world be now, I hope, reasonably well satisfied; and for my Lord, he did shew that humiliation towards your Majesty, as I am persuaded he was never in his life-time more fit for your favour than he is now: therefore if your Majesty will not mar it by lingering, but give over at the best, and now you have made so good a full point, receive him again with tenderness, I shall then think that all that is past is for the best. Whereat I remember she took exceeding great contentment, and did often iterate and put me in mind, that she had ever said that her proceedings should be ad reparationem and not ad ruinam, as who saith, that now was the time I should well perceive that that saying of hers should prove true. And further she willed me to set down in writing all that passed that day. I obeyed her commandment, and within some few days brought her again the narration, which I did read unto her at two several afternoons: and when I came to that part that set forth my Lord's own answer (which was my principal care), I do well bear in mind that she was extraordinarily moved with it, in kindness and relenting towards my Lord, and told me afterwards (speaking how well I had expressed my Lord's part) that she perceived old love would not easily be forgotten: whereunto I answered suddenly, that I hoped she meant that by herself. But in conclusion I did advise her, that now she had taken a representation of the matter to herself, that she would let it go no further: For Madam (said I) the fire blazeth well already, what should you tumble it? And besides, it may please you keep a convenience with yourself in this case; for since your express direction was, there should be no register nor clerk to take this sentence, nor no record or memorial made up of the proceeding, why should you now do that popularly, which you would not admit to be done judicially? Whereupon she did agree that that writing should be suppressed; and I think there were not five persons that ever saw it. But from this time forth, during the whole latter end of that summer, while the Court was at Nonesuch and Oatlands, I made it my task and scope to take and give occasions for my Lord's reintegration in his fortune: which my intention I did also signify to my Lord as soon as ever he was at his liberty, whereby I might without peril of the Queen's indignation write to him; and having received from his Lordship a courteous and loving acceptation of my good will and endeavours, I did apply it in all my accesses to the Queen, which were very many at that time, and purposely sought and wrought upon other variable pretences, but only and chiefly for that purpose. And on the other side, I did not forbear to give my Lord from time to time faithful advertisement what I found, and what I wished. And I drew for him by his appointment some letters to her Majesty, which though I knew well his Lordship's gift and stile was far better than mine own, yet because he required it, alleging that by his long restraint he was grown almost a stranger to the Queen's present conceits, I was ready to perform it: and sure I am that for the space of six weeks or two months it prospered so well, as I expected continually his restoring to his attendance. And I was never better welcome to the Queen, nor more made of, than when I spake fullest and boldest for him: in which kind the particulars were exceeding many; whereof, for an example, I will remember to your Lordship one or two: as at one time, I call to mind, her Majesty was speaking of a fellow that undertook to cure, or at least to ease my brother of his gout, and asked me how it went forwards: and I told her Majesty that at the first he received good by it, but after in the course of his cure he found himself at a stay or rather worse: the Queen said again, I will tell you, Bacon, the error of it: the manner of these physicians, and especially these empirics, is to continue one kind of medicine, which at the first is proper, being to draw out the ill humour, but after they have not the discretion to change their medicine, but apply still drawing medicines, when they should rather intend to cure and corroborate the part. Good Lord Madam (said I) how wisely and aptly can you speak and discern of physic ministered to the body, and consider not that there is the like occasion of physic ministered to the mind: as now in the case of my Lord of Essex, your princely word ever was that you intended ever to reform his mind, and not ruin his fortune: I know well you cannot but think that you have drawn the humour sufficiently, and therefore it were more than time, and it were but for doubt of mortifying or exulcerating, that you did apply and minister strength and comfort unto him: for these same gradations of yours are fitter to corrupt than correct any mind of greatness. And another time I remember she told me for news, that my Lord had written unto her some very dutiful letters, and that she had been moved by them, and when she took it to be the abundance of the heart, she found it to be but a preparative to a suit for the renewing of his farm of sweet wines: whereunto I replied, O Madam, how doth your Majesty conster of these things, as if these two could not stand well together, which indeed nature hath planted in all creatures. For there but two sympathies, the one towards perfection, other towards preservation. That to perfection, as the iron contendeth to the loadstone; that to preservation, as the vine will creep towards a stake or prop that stands by it; not for any love to the stake, but to uphold itself. And therefore, Madam, you must distinguish: my Lord's desire to do you service is as to his perfection, that which he thinks himself to be born for; whereas his desire to obtain this thing of you, is but for a sustentation. And not to trouble your Lordship with many other particulars like unto these, it was at the selfsame time that I did draw, with my Lord's privity, and by his appointment, two letters, the one written as from my brother, the other as an answer returned from my Lord, both to be by me in secret manner shewed to the Queen, which it pleased my Lord very strangely to mention at the bar; the scope of which were but to represent and picture forth unto her Majesty my Lord's mind to be such as I knew her Majesty would fainest have had it: which letters whosoever shall see (for they cannot now be retracted or altered, being by reason of my brother's or his Lordship's servants' delivery long since comen into divers hands) let him judge, specially if he knew the Queen, and do remember those times, whether they were not the labours of one that sought to bring the Queen about for my lord of Essex his good. The troth is, that the issue of all his dealing grew to this, that the Queen, by some slackness of my Lord's, as I imagine, liked him worse and worse, and grew more incensed towards him. Then she, remembering belike the continual and incessant and confident speeches and courses that I had held on my Lord's side, became utterly alienated from me, and for the space of at least three months, which was between Michaelmas and New-year's-tide following, would not as much as look on me, but turned away from me with express and purpose-like discountenance wheresoever she saw me; and at such time as I desired to speak with her about law-business, ever sent me forth very slight refusals; insomuch as it is most true, that immediately after New-year's-tide I desired to speak with her; and being admitted to her, I dealt with her plainly and said, Madam, I see you withdraw your favour from me, and now that I have lost many friends for your sake, I shall leese you too: you have put me like one of those that the Frenchmen call enfans perdus, that serve on foot before horsemen, so have you put me into matters of envy without place, or without strength; and I know at chess a pawn before the king is ever much played upon; a great many love me not, because they think I have been against my Lord of Essex; and you love me not, because you know I have been for him: yet will I never repent me, that I have dealt in simplicity of heart toward you both, without respect of cautions to myself; and therefore vivus vidensque pereo. If I do break my neck, I shall do it in manner as Master Dorrington did it, which walked on the battlements of the church many days, and took a view and survey where he should fall: and so Madam (said I) I am not so simple but that I take a prospect of mine overthrow, only I thought I would tell you so much, that you may know that it was faith and not folly that brought me into it, and so I will pray for you. Upon which speeches of mine uttered with some passion, it is true her Majesty was exceedingly moved, and accumulated a number of kind and gracious words upon me, and willed me to rest upon this, Gratia mea sufficit, and a number of other sensible and tender words and demonstrations, such as more could not be; but as touching my Lord of Essex, ne verbum quidem. Whereupon I departed, resting then determined to meddle no more in the matter; as that that I saw would overthrow me, and not be able to do him any good. And thus I made mine own peace with mine own confidence at that time; and this was the last time I saw her Majesty before the eighth of February, which was the day of my Lord of Essex his misfortune. After which time, for that I performed at the bar in my public service, your Lordship knoweth by the rules of duty that I was to do it honestly, and without prevarication; but for any putting myself into it, I protest before God, I never moved neither the Queen, nor any person living, concerning my being used in the service, either of evidence or examination; but it was merely laid upon me with the rest of my fellows. And for the time which passed, I mean between the arraignment and my Lord's suffering, I well remember I was but once with the Queen; at what time, though I durst not deal directly for my Lord as things then stood, yet generally I did both commend her Majesty's mercy, terming it to her as an excellent balm that did continually distill from her sovereign hands, and made an excellent odour in the senses of her people; and not only so, but I took hardiness to extenuate, not the fact, for that I durst not, but the danger, telling her that if some base or cruel-minded persons had entered into such an action, it might have caused much blood and combustion; but it appeared well they were such as knew not how to play the malefactors; and some other words which I now omit. And as for the rest of the carriage of myself in that service, I have many honourable witnesses that can tell, that the next day after my Lord's arraignment, by my diligence and information touching the quality and nature of the offenders, six of nine were stayed, which otherwise had been attainted, I bringing their Lordships' letter for their say, after the jury was sworn to pass upon them; so near it went: and how careful I was, and made it my part, that whosoever was in trouble about that matter, as soon as ever his case was sufficiently known and defined of, might not continue in restraint, but be set at liberty; and many other parts, which I am well assured of stood with the duty of an honest man. But indeed I will not deny for the case of Sir Thomas Smith of London, the Queen demanding my opinion of it, I told her I thought it was as hard as many of the rest: but what was the reason? because at that time I had seen only his accusation, and had never been present at any examination of his; and the matter so standing, I had been very untrue to my service, if I had not delivered that opinion. But afterwards upon a re-examination of some that charged him, who weakened their own testimony; and especially hearing himself viva voce, I went instantly to the Queen, out of the soundness of my conscience, and not regarding what opinion I had formerly delivered, told her Majesty, I was satisfied and resolved in my conscience, that for the reputation of the action, the plot was to countenance the action further by him in respect of his place, than they had indeed any interest or intelligence with him. It is very true also, about that time her Majesty taking a liking of my pen, upon that which I had done before concerning the proceeding at York-house, and likewise upon some other declarations which in former times by her appointment I put in writing, commanded me to pen that book, which was published for the better satisfaction of the world; which I did, but so as never secretary had more particular and express directions and instructions in every point how to guide my hand in it; and not only so, but after that I had made a first draught thereof, and propounded it to certain principal counsellors, by her Majesty's appointment, it was perused, weighed, censured, altered, and made almost a new writing, according to their Lordships' better consideration; wherein their Lordships and myself both were as religious and curious of truth, as desirous of satisfaction: and myself indeed gave only words and form of style in pursuing their direction. And after it had passed their allowance, it was again exactly perused by the Queen herself, and some alterations made again by her appointment: nay, and after it was set to print, the Queen, who, as your Lordship knoweth, as she was excellent in great matters, so she was exquisite in small, and noted that I could not forget my ancient respect to my Lord of Essex, in terming him ever My Lord of Essex, My Lord of Essex, in almost every page of the book, which she thought not fit, but would have it made Essex, or the late Earl of Essex: whereupon of force it was printed de novo, and the first copies suppressed by her peremptory commandment. And this, my good Lord, to my furthest remembrance, is all that passed wherein I had part; which I have set down as near as I could in the very words and speeches that were used, not because they are worthy the repetition, I mean those of mine own; but to the end your Lordship may lively and plainly discern between the face of truth and a smooth tale. And the rather also because in things that passed a good while since, the very words and phrases did sometimes bring to my remembrance the matters: wherein I report me to your honourable judgment, whether you do not see the traces of an honest man: and had I been as well believed either by the Queen or by my Lord, as I was well heard by them both, both my Lord had been fortunate, and so had myself in his fortune.
    To conclude therefore, I humbly pray your Lordship to pardon me for troubling you with this long narration; and that you will vouchsafe to hold me in your good opinion, till you know I have deserved, or find that I shall deserve the contrary; and even so I continue
      At your Lordship's honourable commandments very humbly.


    This letter was published in a small volume very convenient for circulation; and as another impression was issued in the following year, we may infer that it was circulated widely. It would have been very interesting to know what was thought and said of it then: but I can find no news of its reception. I do not remember to have met with a single allusion to it by any one living and forming his impressions at the time; a fact which does not countenance the notion that it was at the time felt to be unsatisfactory: for an ineffectual attempt to defend himself against a popular outcry is pretty sure to make the man more unpopular and the outcry louder. In later times judgment has been pronounced loudly enough: but later times have heard only half the case, and formed a conception of Essex's proceedings, not only partial, but utterly erroneous -- mistaking altogether the meaning and spirit of them, and refusing to perceive the question of state which they involved. Bacon's "apology" is indeed as well known by name, and as familiarly referred to, as any of his occasional writings; and as evidence of the facts which it relates, has been treated with due respect: being indeed the only authority for more of the circumstances in the story as now commonly told than readers are perhaps aware. But regarded as a justification of his own part in the matter, the popular judgment of recent times has certainly pronounced it a failure of the most egregious kind -- not only failing to justify, but sufficing to condemn.
    Now those who say that it fails of what it aims at must (if they have read it -- which I doubt) mean to say that they do not believe the story which Bacon tells: for what he asserts is that, up to the day of Essex's insurrection, he not only wished for his restoration to favour, but used all the influence He had to bring it about: and the question being whether he acted as a friend or an enemy, the answer is surely conclusive, if true. To the means which he resorted to for this purpose exception may be taken in one or two particulars on other grounds; for he did undoubtedly both advise and practise some indirect dealing; and indirect dealing is never justified in principle, and only approved in practice when -- what shall we say? -- when employed for a purpose which we approve, and which we perceive to be unattainable by direct dealing. But indirect dealing employed to serve a friend, however culpable otherwise, is not "falsehood or unthankfulness" to that friend; and falsehood or unthankfulness to the Earl of Essex was the charge against which he was defending himself. The question therefore comes simply to this -- Is his narrative to be believed? It is a perfectly fair question, and must have been anticipated and considered by everybody who desired to form a fair judgment; for a story told in a man's own defence about things long past, concerning many of which he is himself the sole surviving witness, may always be justly suspected of errors both intentional and unintentional. But then, before I disbelieve the positive statement of a man whose character for veracity has not been otherwise forfeited, I want for my own part to know why. What reason can anybody give me for refusing my belief to the positive statements in this letter? The two passages which may seem at first sight to be inconsistent with other existing evidence -- and, so far as I know, the only two -- have been quoted at full length in my own narrative, side by side with the evidence with which they have been thought inconsistent; and as my narrative in both cases accepts and includes both, I cannot admit the inconsistency. In other respects it has all the outward appearances of fairness and sincerity. It is full and circumstantial: it is written with a great deal of feeling: it makes no attempt to throw blame on others, or to depreciate his own obligations, or to exaggerate his own services: it resorts to no special pleading; indulges in no rhetoric; merely states the facts and leaves them to suggest the judgment. What the judgment was, of those to whom He appealed, I cannot (as I said) produce any positive evidence. But the negative evidence is significant. "It is not probable," says Lord Macaulay, "that Bacon's defence had much effect upon his contemporaries. But the unfavourable impression which his conduct had made appears to have been gradually effaced." From this I infer that Lord Macaulay's reading furnished no expression or anecdote which implied, or could be made to seem to imply, that the unfavourable impression continued after the explanation had been heard. And as this is exactly what would have happened on the supposition that his defence did produce its natural effect upon his contemporaries, and is very hard to explain upon any other supposition, (seeing that Bacon's course of life, as a rising man in Court favour, in the House of Commons, and in his profession, exposed him to envy and free criticism in a world which was in this matter prejudiced against him), I think we may fairly leave it there.
[@ Spedding Works X, 139-62]