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first writers of the age. In this work he reviewed the state of the sciences, pointed out the obstacles which had obstructed their progress, and suggested sage and practical hints for their entire renovation. The eloquent wisdom he displayed in this survey had a marvellous effect in reviving a zeal for science in every part of Europe, and in enlarging the domain of know. ledge ; so that if Cæsar's compliment to Cicero be worth any. thing, in extending the limits of human wit he obtained a glory greater than that of enlarging the boundaries of the Roman world. The elevation of Coke, in 1607, to the justiceship of the Common Pleas, opened a passage for Bacon to the solicitor's place.
In the mean time Bacon went steadily on with his philosophical labours. He published his “Cogitata et Visa,” which he afterwards expanded into the “ Novum Organum,"_the_most wonderful effort of analogical wit ever exhibited. Had Bacon written nothing else, this work would have been sufficient to clothe him with imperishable renown. He likewise published his “Sapientia Veterum,” and a new and greatly enlarged edition of his Essays. But with his foot on the ladder of promotion Bacon was not the man to stand still, and he wrote to James, with a view to extort a promise of the attorney's place when it should fall due. The chief-justiceship of the King's Bench soon after becoming vacant, Bacon influenced the king to thrust the office on Coke and remove Hobart to the Common Pleas; that he might secure the attorneyship. The manæuvre was successful; the men moved as the wires were drawn, and Bacon became the head legal adviser of the Crown. The king created him privy counsellor, which caused him to resign his private practice, and give a free rein to his speculative studies. The “Novum Organum” was prosecuted with renewed zeal, and a proposition appeared from his pen touching the amendment of the civil law. In his scheme he does not venture to codify the common law, but to reform the statute-book, and extract from the jumble of reports a series of sound and consistent decisions. He not only wrote valuable treatises to explain and improve the law of Eng. land, but induced the king to appoint reporters, who should authoritatively print such decisions of the courts as were useful, and guard against the publication of crude and contradictory
In 1617, Bacon, who had previously been appointed chancellor to the duchy of Cornwall, became lord keeper. The philosopher is rather degraded than elevated by the trappinge of civic pomp, yet history condescends to relate, as something accessory to his honour, how he rode between the lord high chancellor and lord of the privy seal, preceded by his mace. bearer and purse-bearer, and followed by a long line of judges.
to the cereniony of his installation. He entered with alacrity on the duties of his new office, cleared out all the arrears of Chancery after a month's sitting, and wrote to the king and Buckingham, who were in Edinburgh endeavouring to persuade the Scots into episcopacy, to apprise them what a vigilant servant they had at Westminster. Coke, who in the mean time had been dismissed, displayed now as much astuteness as his rival in reconstructing his fortunes. He had the sagacity to foresee that the daughter he had by his second wife Lady Hatton, the heir of her mother's broad estates, would not be unacceptable to the needy. Sir John Villiers, one of the brothers of the duke of Buckingham, and accordingly pushed the match with all the energy of his character. Lady Hatton, who had separated from her husband, opposed his projects, and ran away with her daughter to a place of concealment near Hampton Court. Coke, with a band of dependants, fled to the rescue with the same alacrity as he had posted off to Theobald's to seize Somerset, and carried off the young lady in triumph. Bacon grew alarmed at the prospect of the marriage bringing his rival again into favour, and determined no engine should remain unemployed to defeat it. He even deigned to forget the rejection of his first love, and opened a correspondence with Lady Hatton. Yellverton, the attorney-general, was instructed to file an information against Coke in the Star Chamber, and the king was importuned with letters designed to show how disastrous the union would be to his interests, in which communications Bacon so far forgot himself as to deal out sarcasms against Buckingham. The king, and, we need not add, the favourite, were enraged. James wrote his chancellor stinging letters of rebuke, and Bacon's eyes were open to the fact that his possession of the great seal depended on a look of Buckingham. He at once abandoned his opposition to the match, and bemoaned his error for proceeding in the matter without consulting the royal wishes.
The breach, however, was not repaired without making the 'ord keeper sensible of the bondage into which he had fallen. Buckingham had a host of needy relatives to provide for. The king's finances were never in a flourishing state, and to satisfy their clamours and supply his own extravagances, he fell upon the old device of patents and monopolies. These were certain charters granted under the great seal, enabling a few individuals to retain the manufacture of particular articles of trade in their own hands, and arming them with exorbitant powers to break open and ransack any house in which they suspected an illicit manufactory to be carried on. In Elizabeth's reign, euch powers had been extensively exercised, but the enormities to which they led raised such an outcry in the nation as
alarmed the queen, and compelled her to revoke the charters. Since that time Bacon had manifested some respect for the feel. ings of the people, and even declaimed against this mode of plandering them in his “ advice" to Buckingham ; he now found it necessary to stultify his own lessons, and that at the command of his pupil. As fast as the ingenuity of the favourite could devise patents, Bacon hurried them under the great seal of England, and a band of monopolists was armed with warrants to rob the public, in consideration of handing over to Buckingham a share of the pillage. The people's sense of justice was outraged by an attempt to pass off plated copper-wire for silver lace at more than the ordinary price, and an outcry was immediately raised against Sir John Villiers, Sir Giles Monpesson-supposed to be the original of Massenger's Sir Giles Overreach,—and Sir Francis Monpesson,—his Justice Greedy, —who were the principals in this nefarious transaction. James referred the case to the decision of his chancellor, who, after a decent delay, pronounced the patent to be decidedly beneficial, on the ground of affording employment to the poor.
At this period Bacon was employing his leisure in elaborating a work which was destined to reform the sciences, and introduce a new era in philosophy. In 1620, appeared the “Novum Or. ganum,” which had formed the subject of his contemplations for forty-five years, and showed the world that Aristotle might find a rival in the chancellor of Great Britain. Never did voice break 80 portentously on mankind. The tongues of the Peripatetics were silenced, the babblers of the Academy hushed, and the rising sect of alchemists crouched in the presence of their master. As the supreme legislator of science, he had the universe for his book and the world for his auditory, and enraptured foreign countries with the wisdom of his decisions, while he instructed
“Without any disparagement to the admirable treatise · De Augmentis,'” says Macaulay, we may say that, in our judgment, Bacon's greatest performance is the first book of the 'Noyum Organum. All the peculiarities of his extraordinary mind are found there in the highest perfection. Every part of the book blazes with wit, but with wit which is employed only to illustrate and decorate truth. No book ever made so great a revolution in the mode of thinking, overthrew so many prejudices, introduced so many new opinions." Bacon was now at the height of his prosperity. York House
for his town residence, in a style of grandeur un. known in his father's days, and Ben Jonson has done exquisite justice to the champagne fêtes and the oratory of the owner. In addition to his villa at Kew, he erected a private retreat at Gor. Lambury, at the cost of £10,000, where he used to entertain
doobes and a few choice spirits of the time. From thence he was called, not unwillingly, to attend the king's court at Theobald's, where he was raised to the peerage under the title of Viscount St. Alban's, Buckingham and Carew supporting his robe of state, and Lord Wentworth bearing his coronet. Three days after, the parliament assembled which was to convict him.
The attention of the new House of Commons was first directed to the copper lace business, in which the abuses were so enormous, as to excite a fearful crusade against monopolies and projectors. Rumours also were set afloat about corruption in high places ; disappointed suitors in Chancery came forth to assail the integrity of the chancellor. The fathers of Pym and Hampden were not to be deterred, by the splendour of the philosopher, from prying into the character of the judge. One Aubrey said he had been advised to give £100 to the chancellor, to expedite matters, and yet after many delays, Bacon had delivered a killing decree against him. Egerton, another petitioner, averred that to procure his favour, he had been induced to present him with £400, under colour of a gratuity for certain services Bacon had rendered him when attorney-general, notwithstanding which he got an adverse award. One charge brought many more, until the list became so lengthy, as to make an impeachment a matter of
Coke had gone through the forms of a reconciliation with Bacon, but finding a seat at the privy council board without office or emolument rather dull work, set the inquiry afoot, and though he declined, through
motives of decency, to be the chairman of the committee, he directed its councils, and fashioned the instrument which was to lay his rival at his feet.
Bacon does not seem to have been at first aware of the im. pending danger, thinking himself too highly perched in the king's favour to be struck down by a hand so vulgar as Coke's, and that the worst that could happen would be a dissolution. The king, however, was led by other councils. Williams, the shrewd dean of Westminster, who had impressed Buckingham with a favourable opinion of his sagacity, represented the danger in which the court stood of being swept away by the indiscrimi. nating tide of patriotism, unless some great victim was sacrificed, and justice dealt out to the herd of minor agents. “Swim, with the stream,” said Williams, “and you cannot be drowned. Leave Bacon to his fate, send Sir John Villiers on an embassy, and throw overboard Monpesson and Michael as baits to decoy the whales from following a sinking ship.". The chancellor was left to read the adoption of this advice in the uncivil air of the dependants of the court, and when his suspicions were con. firmed by an interview with the king and his minion, he adjourned the House of Lords, and betook himself to his bed.
The blow soon fell. He was impeached before the lords for
bribery and corruption, in the High Court of Chancery, on twenty-three separate counts. By the advice of the king, he dictated a vague confession of his guilt to be laid before the lords, by the heir apparent, in which he admitted that his conscience upbraided him with sufficient matter for impeachment, but begged their lordships to remember there were vitia temporis as well as vitia hominis, and entreated them to accept his resignation of the great seal as a sufficient expiation of his errors. The peers, however, demanded a particular answer to each count of the impeachment, and communicated to him the formal articles of charge, with the proofs in support of each to that end. Bacon's confession was complete. He subscribed to each of the charges, admitting the receipt of the illegal sums from his suitors, though qualifying them in some instances as new year's gifts, or gratuities for past services. The king dared not interpose, and final judgment was not long delayed. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £40,000, to be imprisoned in the Tower during the king's pleasure, declared incapable of holding any public office, place, or employment, and forbid to come within verge of the court.*
After one night's confinement in the Tower he was released, and consigned to his gloomy mansion in the country. Here he resolved to dedicate his retirement to literature, and begged of James to direct his mind to any undertaking that might add lustre to his reign. The history of Henry VII. was pointed out by the monarch as a work worthy of his pen. Bacon gives us a very graphic and complete view of the principal commotions which disturbed his reign. If he circumstantially details the pompous embassies and empty speeches of the period, it is because history consisted hardly of anything else, the people in those times allowing themselves to be treated like cattle, and permitting princes to decide their highest destinies with infantine simplicity. The character of the age is, notwithstanding, drawn out by Bacon in vivid colours, and the grouping of the incidents shows that, had the times conspired, he lacked not the capacity to rival Hume or Robertson in the highest department of their art. The king, who evidently thought more about this book than the “Novum Organon,” which he declared surpassed his comprehension, condescended to correct the MSS., and allowed Bacon to come to town, with a view to expedite its course through the press. This work was immediately followed up by his “ History of Lifo and Death,” with an enlarged edition of his Essays, and many of his minor pieces. The following year he expanded the “Treatise on the Advancement of Learning" into nine books, preserving the first book of the original as pre
* This venality has been elaborately palliated and defended by Montagu, hell part and parcel of the condition of the times.