Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

most conversant. He was ever happy to commend, and unwilling to censure; and when he could not assent to an opinion, he would set forth its ingenuity, and so grace and adorn it by his own luminous statement, that his opponent could not feel lowered by his defeat. (a)

His wit was brilliant, and when it flashed upon any Wit. subject, it was never with ill-nature, which, like the crackling of thorns ending in sudden darkness, is only fit for a fool's laughter;(b) the sparkling of his wit was that of the

Query, whether the reasons of this are not, 1st, that the mind requires rest; and 2ndly, that the spirit which produces thought is required for digestion and exercise. Ramazini, on the Diseases of learned Men, says, “For while the brain is employed in digesting what the desire of knowledge and the love of learning takes in, the stomach cannot but make an imperfect digestion of the aliment, because the animal spirits are diverted and taken up in the intellectual service; or these spirits are not conveyed to the stomach with a sufficient influx, upon the account of the strong application of the nervous fibres, and the whole nervous system, in profound study. How much the influx of the animal spirits contributes to the due performance of all the natural functions of the viscera, is manifest from the decay of paralytic parts; for though these parts are supplied with vital juice by the perpetual afflux of the arterial blood, yet they dwindle and decay by being deprived of that nervous juice, or spirits, or whatever it is, which is conveyed to them through the nerves.” (a) See note (c), ante, 471.

(6) Ros. Oft have I heard of you, my lord Biron,

Before I saw you: and the world's large tongue
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks ;
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts;
Which you on all estates will execute,
That lie within the mercy of your wit :
To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain ;
And therewithal, to win me, if you please,
(Without the which I am not to be won,)
You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day
Visit the speechless sick, and still converse
With groaning wretches; and your task shall be,
With all the fierce endeavour of your wit,
To enforce the pained impotent to smile.

precious diamond, valuable for its worth and weight, denoting the riches of the mine. (a)

He had not any children; but, says Dr. Rawley, “the want of children did not detract from his good usage of his consort during the intermarriage, whom he prosecuted with much conjugal love and respect, with many rich gifts and endowments, besides a robe of honour which he invested her withal, which she wore until her dying day, being twenty years and more after his death.”

He was religious, and died in the faith established in the church of England. (b)

Bacon has been accused of servility, of dissimulation, of various base motives, and their filthy brood of base actions, all unworthy of his high birth, and incompatible with his great wisdom, and the estimation in which he was held by the noblest spirits of the age. It is true that there were men in his own time, and will be men in all times, who are better pleased to count spots in the sun than to rejoice in its glorious brightness. Such men have openly libelled him, like Dewes and Weldon, whose falsehoods were detected as soon as uttered, or have fastened upon certain ceremonious compliments and dedications, the fashion of his day, as a sample of his servility, passing over his noble letters to the Queen, his lofty contempt for the Lord Keeper Puckering, his open dealing with Sir Robert Cecil,

Biron. To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
It cannot be; it is impossible:
Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.

Ros. Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit,
Whose influence is begot of that loose grace,
Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools :
A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue

Of him that makes it. (a) See ante, p. 28.

(6) Rawley.

and with others, who, powerful when he was nothing, might have blighted his opening fortunes for ever, forgetting his advocacy of the rights of the people in the face of the court, and the true and honest counsels, always given by him, in times of great difficulty, both to Elizabeth and her successor. When was a “ base sycophant” loved and honoured by piety such as that of Herbert, Tennison, and Rawley, by noble spirits like Hobbes, Ben Jonson, and Selden, or followed to the grave, and beyond it, with devoted affection such as that of Sir Thomas Meautys.

Forced by the narrowness of his fortune into business, conscious of his own powers, aware of the peculiar quality of his mind, and disliking his pursuits, his heart was often in his study, while he lent his person to the robes of office, (a) and he was culpably unmindful of the conduct of his servants, who amassed wealth meanly and rapaciously, while their careless master, himself always poor, with his thoughts on higher ventures, never stopped to inquire by what methods they grew rich. No man can act thus with impunity; he has sullied the brightness of a name which ought never to have been heard without reverence, injured his own fame, and has been himself the victim upon the altar which he raised to true science; becoming a theme to “point a moral or adorn a tale,” in an attempt to unite philosophy and politics, an idol, whose golden head and hands of base metal form a monster more hideous than the Dagon of the Philistines.

(a) He says to Sir Thomas Bodley, “I do confess, since I was of any understanding my mind hath in effect been absent from that I have done, and in absence are many errors which I willingly acknowledge, and amongst the rest, this great one, which led the rest, that knowing myself by inward calling to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part, I have led my life in civil causes, for which I was not very fit by nature, and more unfit by pre-occupation of mind.”

His consciousness of the wanderings of his mind made him run into affairs with over-acted zeal and a variety of useless subtleties; and in lending himself to matters immeasurably beneath him, he sometimes stooped too low. A man often receives an unfortunate bias from an unjust censure. Bacon, who was said by Elizabeth to be without knowledge of affairs, and by Cecil and Burleigh to be unfit for business, affected through the whole of his life an overrefinement in trifles and a political subtlety unworthy of so great a mind: it is also true that he sometimes seemed conscious of the pleasure of skill, and that he who possessed the dangerous power of “working and winding” others to his purpose, tried it upon the little men whom his heart disdained; but that heart was neither “cloven nor double.” There is no record that he abused the influence which he possessed over the minds of all men. He ever gave honest counsel to his capricious mistress, and her pedantic successor; to the rash, turbulent Essex, and to the wily, avaricious Buckingham. There is nothing more lamentable in the annals of mankind than that false position, which placed one of the greatest minds England ever possessed at the

mercy of a mean king and a base court favourite.

INDEX TO THE LIFE.

ABUSES, considered in the Commons familiarity with the trial by torture, in various committees, 106.

note (c), 175. Address to the Lords by Bacon, 330, Apothecaries and grocers'cause, answer 331, 332.

to charge of receiving presents, 367; Advancement of Learning, Bacon's cause between, see Grocers.

tract upon duty in, 60; division of Aristotle, popularity of his philosophy the work, 125; passage from, on the at Cambridge, 7; Bacon's aversion pleasure of knowledge, 379; see to his philosophy, 8. Learning.

Atlantis, see Bacon's magnificent plan Advantages, the several, of learning, of a college in, 13, 14, 15. 130.

Atterbury, see extract from, upon the Affirmative table, Bacon's mode in the contempt of censure in a judge, 247;

search after truth, 285; Bacon's see independent conduct of Judge plan of discovering truth, 269.

Jenkins, 247. Alienation office, posthumous tract by Attorney general, Bacon appointed,

Bacon upon, 43; valuable farm of, 154; Bacon's letters to the King and granted to Bacon, 258.

Lord Salisbury respecting the apAlexander, story of, illustrative of the pointment of, see note (b), 154 ;

paltriness of human affairs, 155. Bacon's fitness for the office, 154 ; Ambition, Bacon-and Burke's opinions the eligibility of, to sit in parliament

upon the nature of, and high honours, discussed, 158. 195.

Aubrey, answer to the charge in the Ambition, learning the destruction of, case of, 364.

common, 201; the paltriness and Aubrey and Egerton charge Bacon selfishness of common, 201.

with bribery, 313. Amendment of the law, Bacon's plan Aubrey and Bronker, presents to Bafor, 27.

con by Counsel in the cause of and Analysis, of the distempers of learn- decision against, 238 ; cause of,

ing, see note, 131 ; of history, see absurd charge of bribery against note, 133; of human philosophy, Bacon in, note (b), 238. see note, 134.

Augmentis Scientiarum, Bacon's obAncients, Wisdom of, Bacon's publica- servations upon cyphers in, 17.

tion, a species of parabolical poetry, Autograph, Lord Bacon's, see note (c), 150; see Syren's extract froin.

21. Ancients, the high honours conferred

upon the authors of inventors, by, Bacon, his tour to France and resinote 193.

dence in Poictiers, 17; his work Anecdotes of Bacon during the charge upon cyphers, 17; bis meditations of bribery, 329.

upon the laws of sound and imagiAnthony Bacon, King James's regard nation, see nwte 17; death of his for, 109.

father, and its influence upon his Antipathy, medical, 275; of divines, future life, 19; his aversion to the

275; of politicians, 275; of sailors, study of law, the only road with of lawyers, 275.

politics open to, 19; his letter to Aphorisms, the favorite style of Bacon, Lord Burleigh, praying his recom

see Novum Organum, and tract upon mendation to the Queen, see note universal justice, 123.

19; his letter to Lady Burleigh, Apology, Bacon's, characters of the praying her influence with Lord

Queen and Essex as shown in, 45 ; Burleigh to hasten his suit, see note republication of Essex’s, and his 20; his admission to Gray's Inn, trial for before the privy council, 66; 21; his perseverance in and works Essex's, Bacon's witty conversation upon the law, 21; his researches in with Queen Elizabeth, showing her science not diverted by his profes

« VorigeDoorgaan »