Francis Bacon: Viscount St. Albans

  IN his Lordship's prosperity, Sir Fulke Grevil, Lord Brooke, was his great Friend and acquaintance; but when he was in disgrace and want, he was so unworthy as to forbid his Butler to let him have any more small Beer, which he had often sent for, his stomach being nice, and the small beere of Gray's Inne not liking his pallet. This has donne his memorie more dishonour then Sir Philip Sidney's friendship engraven on his monument hath donne him Honour.
    Richard, Earle of Dorset, was a great admirer and friend of the Lord Chancellor Bacon, and was wont to have Sir Thomas Billingsley along with him, to remember and to putt downe in writing my Lord's sayings at Table.
    Mr. Ben Johnson was one of his friends and acquaintance, as doeth appeare by his excellent verses on his Lordship's birthday, and in his Underwoods, where he gives him a Character, and concludes that about his time and within his view were borne all the Witts that could honour a Nation or helpe studie.
      The learned and great Cardinal Richelieu was a great admirer of the Lord Bacon.
    He came often to Sir John Danvers at Chelsey. Sir John told me that when his Lordship had wrote The History of Henry 7, he sent the Manuscript copie to him to desire his opinion of it before 'twas printed. Qd. Sir John, Your Lordship knowes that I am no Scholar. 'Tis no matter, said my Lord: I knowe what a Schollar can say; I would know what you can say. Sir John read it, and gave his opinion what he misliked (which I am sorry I have forgott) which my Lord acknowledged to be true, and mended it; Why, said he, a Scholar would never have told me this.
    Mr. Thomas Hobbes was beloved by his Lordship, who was wont to have him walke with him in his delicate groves where he did meditate: and when a notion darted into his mind, Mr. Hobbs was presently to write it downe, and his Lordship was wont to say that he did it better then any one els about him; for that many times, when he read their notes he scarce understood what they writt, because they understood it not clearly themselves.
    In short, all that were great and good loved and honoured him. (Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chiefe Justice, alwayes envyed him, and would be undervalueing his Lawe, as you may find in my Lord's lettres, and I knew old Lawyers that remembred it.)
    He was Lord Protector during King James's Progresse into Scotland, and gave Audiences in great State to Ambassadors in the Banquetting-house at Whitehall.
      The Aviary at Yorke House was built by his Lordship; it did cost 300 pounds.
    At every meale, according to the season of the yeare, he had his Table strewed with Sweet Herbes and Flowers, which he sayd did refresh his spirits and memorie.
    When his Lordship was at his Country-house at Gorhambery, St. Albans seemed as if the Court were there, so Nobly did He live. His servants had Liveries with his Crest (a Boare); his Watermen were more imployed by Gentlemen then any other, even the King's.
    King James sent a Buck to him, and he gave the keeper fifty pounds.
    He was wont to say to his servant Hunt (who was a notable thrifty man and loved this World, and the only Servant he had that he could never gett to become bound for him) The World was made for man, Hunt, and not man for the World. Hunt left an estate of 1000 pound per annum in Somerset.
    None of his servants durst appeare before him without Spanish leather bootes; for he would smelle the neates leather, which offended him.
    The East India Merchants presented his Lordship with a Cabinet of Jewells, which his Page, Mr. Cockaine, received, and deceived his Lord.
    Three of his Lordship's servants kept their Coaches, and some kept Race-horses.
    His Lordship would many times have Musique in the next roome where he meditated. I have now forgott what Mr. Bushel sayd, whether his Lordship enjoyed his Muse best at night or in the Morning.
      His Lordship was a good Poet, but conceal'd, as appeares by his Letters:

    The world's a Bubble, and the life of man
    Less than a span;
In his conception wretched, from the wombe
    So to the tombe;
Curst from his cradle, and brought up to yeares
    With cares and feares.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust
But limmes in water or but writes in dust.

Yet since with sorrow here we live opprest,
    What life is best?
Courts are but onely superficiall scholes
    To dandle fooles:
The rurall parts are turn'd into a den
    Of savage men;
And wher's a city from all vice so free,
But may be term'd the worst of all the three?

Domestick cares afflict the husband's bed
    Or paines his hed;
Those that live single take it for a curse,
    Or doe things worse;
Some would have children; those that have them mone,
    Or wish them gone.
What is it then to have, or have no wife,
But single thraldome or a double strife?

Our owne affections still at home to please
    Is a disease;
To crosse the sea to any foreine soyle,
    Perills and toyle;
Warres with their noise affright us; when they cease
    W' are worse in peace.
What then remaines? but that we still should cry
Not to be borne, or, being borne, to dye.


      He was a paiderastes. His Ganimeds and Favourites tooke Bribes; but his Lordship alwayes gave Judgement secundum aequum et bonum [according as was just and good]. His Decrees in Chancery stand firme, i.e. there are fewer of his Decrees reverst then of any other Chancellor.
    His Dowager married her Gentleman-usher Sir Thomas (I thinke) Underhill, whom she made deafe and blinde with too much of Venus. She was living since the beheading of the late King.
    He had a uterine brother, Anthony Bacon, who was a very great states-man, and much beyond his brother Francis for the Politiques, a lame man; he was a Pensioner to, and lived with the Earle of Essex. And to him he dedicates the first Edition of his Essayes, a little booke no bigger then a Primer, which I have seen in the Bodlyan Library.
    His sisters were ingeniose and well-bred; they well understood the Use of the Globes, as you may find in the preface of Mr. Blundevill Of the Sphaere: I began this Arithmetique more than 7 yeares since for that vertuous Gentlewoman Mris. Elizabeth Bacon: and though at her request I had made this Arithmetique so plaine and easie as was possible (as to my seeming) yet her continuall sicknesse would not suffer her to exercise herself therin.
    He had a delicate, lively, hazel Eie; Dr. Harvey tolde me it was like the Eie of a viper.
      His Lordship being in Yorke-house garden, lookeing on Fishers as they were throwing their Nett, asked them what they would take for their Draught; they answered so much; his Lordship would only offer so much. They drew up their Nett and there were only 2 or 3 little fishes: his Lordship then told them it had been better for them to have taken his Offer. They replied, they hoped to have had a better Draught. But, sayd his Lordship, Hope is a good Breakfast but an ill Supper.
    When his Lordship was in disfavour, his neighbours, hearing how much he was indebted, came to him with a Motion to buy Oake-wood of him. His Lordship told them, He would not sell his Feathers.
    The Earle of Manchester being removed from his Place of Lord chiefe Justice of the Common-Pleas to be Lord President of the Councell, told my Lord (upon his Fall) that he was sorry to see Him made such an Example. Lord Bacon replied it did not trouble him, since he was made a President.
    The Bishop of London did cutte-downe a noble Clowd of Trees at Fulham. The Lord Chancellor told him that he was a good Expounder of darke places.
    Upon his being in Dis-favour his Servants suddenly went away; he compared them to the flying of the Vermin when the Howse was falling.
    One told his Lordship it was now time to looke about him. He replyed: I do not looke about me, I looke above me.
    Sir Julius Caesar (Master of the Rolles) sent to his Lordship in his necessity a hundred pounds for a Present.
    His Lordship would often drinke a good draught of strong Beer (March-beer) to-bedwards, to lay his working Fancy asleep, which otherwise would keepe him from sleeping great part of the night.
      I remember Sir John Danvers told me, that his Lordship much delighted in his curious pretty garden at Chelsey, and as he was walking there one time he fell downe in a dead-sowne. My Lady Danvers rubbed his face, temples, etc., and gave him cordiall water; as soon as he came to himselfe, sayde he, Madam, I am no good footman.
    I will write something of Verulam, and his House at Gorhambery. At Verulam is to be seen, in some few places, some remaines of the Wall of this Citie. This magnanimous Lord Chancellor had a great mind to have made it a Citie again: and he had designed it, to be built with great uniformity: but Fortune denyed it Him, though she proved kinder to the great Cardinal Richelieu, who lived both to designe and finish that specious Towne of Richelieu, where he was borne; before, an obscure and small Vilage.
    Within the bounds of the Walls of this old Citie of Verulam (his Lordship's Baronry) was Verulam-howse; which his Lordship built, the most ingeniosely contrived little pile, that ever I sawe. No question but his Lordship was the chiefest Architect; but he had for his assistant a favourite of his, a St. Albans man, Mr. Dobson, who was his Lordship's right hand, a very ingeniose person (Master of the Alienation Office); but he spending his estate upon woemen, necessity forced his son Will Dobson to be the most excellent Painter that England hath yet bred.
    This howse did cost nine or ten thousand the building, and was sold about 1665 or 1666 by Sir Harbottle Grimston, Baronet, to two Carpenters for fower hundred poundes; of which they made eight hundred poundes. I am sorry I measured not the front and breadth; but I little suspected it would be pulled downe for the sale of the Materials. There were good Chimney pieces; the roomes very loftie, and all were very well wainscotted. There were two Bathing-roomes or Stuffes, whither his Lordship retired afternoons as he sawe cause. All the tunnells of the Chimneys were carried into the middle of the howse; and round about them were seates. The top of the howse was very well Leaded: from the Leads was a lovely Prospect to the Ponds, which were opposite to the East side of the howse, and were on the other side of the stately Walke of Trees that leades to Gorhambery-howse: and also over that Long Walke of Trees, whose topps afford a most pleasant variegated verdure, resembling the workes in Irish-stitch. In the middle of this howse was a delicate Staire-case of wood, which was curiously carved, and on the posts of every interstice was some prettie figure, as of a grave Divine with his booke and spectacles, a Mendicant Friar, etc., not one thing twice. On the dores of the upper storie on the outside (which were painted darke Umber) were the figures of the gods of the Gentiles, viz. on the South dore, 2d storie, was Apollo; on another, Jupiter with his Thunderbolt, etc., bigger then the life, and donne by an excellent hand; the heightnings were of hatchings of gold, which when the Sun shone on them made a most glorious shew.
      The upper part of the uppermost dore on the East side had inserted into it a large Looking-glasse, with which the Stranger was very gratefully decieved, for (after he had been entertained a pretty while, with the prospects of the Ponds, Walks, and countrey, which this dore faced) when you were about to returne into the roome, one would have sworn (primo intuitu [at first glance], that he had beheld another Prospect through the Howse: for, as soon as the Straunger was landed on the Balconie, the Conserge that shewed the howse would shutt the dore to putt this fallacy on him with the Looking-glasse. This was his Lordship's Summer-howse: for he sayes (in his essay) one should have seates for Summer and Winter as well as Cloathes.
    From hence to Gorhambery in a straite line (about a little mile, the way easily ascending) hardly so acclive as a Deske) leade three parallel walkes: in the middlemost three coaches may passe abreast: in the wing-walkes two.
    About the mid-way from Verolam-house to Gorambery, on the right hand, on the side of a Hill which faces the Passer-by, are sett in artificiall manner severall stately Trees of the like groweth and heighth, whose diversity of greens on the side of the hill are exceeding pleasant. These delicate walkes and prospects entertaine the Eie to Gorambery-howse, which is a large, well-built Gothique howse, built (I thinke) by Sr Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper, father to this Lord Chancellor, to whom it descended by the death of Anthony Bacon his middle brother, who died sans issue. The Lord Chancellor made an addition of a noble Portico, which fronts the Garden to the South; opposite to every arch of this Portico, and as big as the arch, are drawn by an excellent hand (but the mischief of it is, in water-colours) curious pictures, all Emblematicall, with Motto's under each. For example, one I remember is a ship tossed in a storm, the Motto, Alter erit tum Tiphys [There will come another Tiphys].
    Over this Portico is a stately Gallerie, whose Glasse-windowes are all painted: and every pane with severall figures of beest, bird, or flower: perhaps his Lordship might use them as Topiques for Locall memorie. The windowes looke into the Garden: the side opposite to them no window; but is hung all with pictures at length, as of King James, his Lordship, and severall Illustrious persons of his time. At the end you enter is no windowe, but there is a very large picture, thus: In the middle on a Rock in the sea stands King James in armour with his regall Ornaments; on his right hand stands (but whether or no on a Rock I have forgott) King Hen. 4 of France, in armour; and on his left hand the King of Spaine in like manner. These figures are (at least) as big as the life: they are donne only with umbre and shell-gold; all the heightning and illuminated part being burnisht gold and the shadowed umbre, as in the pictures of the Gods on the dores of Verulam-howse. The roofe of this Gallerie is semi-cylindrique, and painted by the same hand and same manner, with heads and busts of Greek and Roman Emperours and Heroes.
      In the Hall (which is of the auncient building) is a large storie very well painted of the Feastes of the Gods, where Mars is caught in a nett by Vulcan. On the wall, over the Chimney, is painted an Oake with Akornes falling from it, the Word, Nisi qud potius [Failing some better chance] and on the wall over the Table is painted Ceres teaching the Soweing of Corne, the Word, Moniti meliora [We now have better counsel].
    The garden is large, which was (no doubt) rarely planted and kept in his Lordship's time. Here is a handsome Dore, which opens into Oake-wood; over this dore in golden letters on blew are six verses.
    The Oakes of this wood are very great and shadie. His Lordship much delighted himselfe here: under every tree, he planted some fine flower, or flowers, some wherof are there still (1656) viz. Paeonies, Tulips.
    From this Wood a dore opens into a place as big as an ordinary Parke, the west part wherof is Coppice-wood, where are Walkes cut-out as straight as a line, and broad enoug for a coach, a quarter of a mile long or better. Here his Lordship much meditated, his servant Mr. Bushell attending him with his pen and inke horne to sett downe his present Notions.
    The east of this Parquet was heretofore, in his Lordship's prosperitie, a Paradise; now is a large ploughed field. The walkes, both in the Coppices and other Boscages, were most ingeniosely designed: at severall good Viewes, were erected elegant Sommer-howses well built of Roman-architecture, well wainscotted and cieled; yet standing, but defaced, so that one would have thought the Barbarians had made a Conquest here.
      The figures of the Ponds were thus: they were pitched at the bottomes with pebbles of severall colours, which were work't in to severall figures, as of Fishes, etc., which in his Lordship's time were plainly to be seen through the cleare water, now over-grown with flagges and rushes. If a poore bodie had brought his Lordship half a dozen pebbles of a curious colour, he would give them a shilling, so curious was he in perfecting his Fish-ponds, which I guesse doe containe four acres. In the middle of the middlemost pond, in the Island, is a curious banquetting-house of Roman architecture, paved with black and white marble; covered with Cornish slatt, and neatly wainscotted.
    His Lordship was wont to say, I will lay my mannor of Gorambery on't, to which one Judge made a spightfull reply, saying he would not hold a wager against that, but against any other Mannour of his Lordship's, he would. Now this Illustrious Lord Chancellor had only this Mannor of Gorambery.
    In April, and the Springtime, his Lordship would, when it rayned, take his Coach (open) to recieve the benefit of Irrigation, which he was wont to say was very wholsome because of the Nitre in the Aire and the Universall Spirit of the World.
    Mr. Hobbs told me that the cause of his Lordship's death was trying an Experiment; viz. as he was taking the aire in a Coach with Dr. Witherborne (a Scotchman, Physitian to the King) towards High-gate, snow lay on the ground, and it came into my Lord's thoughts, why flesh might not be preserved in snow, as in Salt. They were resolved they would try the Experiment presently. They alighted out of the Coach and went into a poore woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a Hen, and made the woman exenterate it, and then stuffed the body with Snow, and my Lord did help to doe it himselfe. The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not returne to his Lodging (I suppose then at Graye's Inne) but went to the Earle of Arundel's house at High-gate, where they putt him into a good bed warmed with a Panne, but it was a damp bed that had not been layn-in in about a yeare before, which gave him such a colde that in 2 or 3 dayes as I remember Mr. Hobbes told me, he dyed of Suffocation.
    This October, 1681, it rang over all St. Albans that Sir Harbottle Grimston, Master of the Rolles, had removed the Coffin of this most renowned Lord Chancellour to make roome for his owne to lye-in in the vault there at St. Michael's church.