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towards those great men with whose minds he
holds daily communion. Yet nothing can be
more certain than that such men have not
always deserved, in their own persons, to be;
regarded with respect or affection. Some
writers, whose works will continue to instruct
and delight mankind to the remotest ages, have
been placed in such situations, that their actions
and motives are as well known to us as the ac-
tions and motives of one human being can be
known to another; and unhappily their conduct
has not always been such as an impartial judge
can contemplate with approbation. But the
fanaticism of the devout worshipper of genius
is proof against all evidence and all argument.
The character of his idol is matter of faith;
and the province of faith is not to be invaded
by reason. He maintains his superstition with
a credulity as boundless, and a zeal as unscru-
pulous, as can be found in the most ardent par-
tisans of religious or political factions. The
most overwhelming proofs are rejected; the
plainest rules of morality are explained away;
extensive and important portions of history are
completely distorted; the enthusiast misrepre-
sents facts with all the effrontery of an advo-
cate, and confounds right and wrong with
the dexterity of a Jesuit-and all this only in
order that some man who has been in his
grave for ages may have a fairer character
than he deserves.

defence of one most eloquent and accomplished Trimmer.

The volume before us reminds us now and then of the "Life of Cicero." But there is this marked difference. Dr. Middleton evidently had an uneasy consciousness of the weakness of his cause, and therefore resorted to the most disingenuous shifts, to unpardonable distortions and suppressions of facts. Mr. Montagu's faith is sincere and implicit. He practises no trickery. He conceals nothing. He puts the facts before us in the full confidence that they will produce on our minds the effect which they have produced on his own. It is not till he comes to reason from facts to motives, that his partiality shows itself; and then he leaves Middleton himself far behind. His work pro ceeds on the assumption that Bacon was an eminently virtuous man. From the tree Mr. Montagu judges of the fruit. He is forced to relate many actions, which, any man but Bacon had committed them, nobody would have dreamed of defending-actions which are readily and completely explained by supposing Bacon to have been a man whose principles were not strict, and whose spirit was not high all-actions which can be explained in no other way, without resorting to some grotesque hy pothesis for which there is not a title of evi dence. But any hypothesis is, in Mr. Montagu's opinion, more probable than that his hero should ever have done any thing very wrong.

Middleton's "Life of Cicero" is a striking instance of the influence of this sort of partiality. Never was there a character which it was easier to read than that of Cicero. Never was there a mind keener or more critical than that of Middleton. Had the doctor brought to the examination of his favourite statesman's conduct but a very small part of the acuteness and severity which he displayed when he was engaged in investigating the high pretensions of Epiphanius and Justin Martyr, he could not have failed to produce a most valuable history of a most interesting portion of time. But this most ingenious and learned man, though "So wary held and wise That, as't was said, he scarce received For gospel what the church believed,"

had a superstition of his own. The great Iconoclast was himself an idolater. The great Avvocata del Diavolo, while he disputed, with no small ability, the claims of Cyprian and Athanasius to a place in the Calendar, was himself composing a lying legend in honour of St. Tully! He was holding up as a model of every virtue a man whose talents and acquirements, indeed, can never be too highly extolled, and who was by no means destitute of amiable qualities, but whose whole soul was under the dominion of a girlish vanity and a craven fear. Actions for which Cicero himself, the most eloquent and skilful of advocates, could contrive no excuse, actions which in his confidential correspondence he mentioned with remorse and shame, are represented by his biographer as wise, virtuous, heroic. The whole history of that great revolution which overthrew the Roman aristocracy, the whole state of parties, the character of every public man, is elaborately misrepresented, in order to make out something which may look like a

This mode of defending Bacon seems to us by no means Baconian. To take a man's cha racter for granted, and then from his character to infer the moral quality of all his actions, is surely a process the very reverse of that which is recommended in the Novum Organum. Nothing, we are sure, could have led Mr. Montagu to depart so far from his master's precepts, except zeal for his master's honour. We shall follow a different course. We shall attempt, with the valuable assistance which Mr. Montagu has afforded us, to frame such an account of Bacon's life as may enable our readers correctly to estimate his character.

It is hardly necessary to say that Francis Bacon was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who held the great seal of England during the first twenty years of the reign of Elizabeth. The fame of the father has been thrown into shade by that of the son. But Sir Nicholas was no ordinary man. He belonged to a set of men whom it is easier to describe collectively than separately; whose minds were formed by one system of discipline; who belonged to one rank in society, to one university, to one party, to one sect, to one administration; and who resembled each other so much in talents, in opinions, in habits, in fortunes, that one cha racter, we had almost said one life, may, to a considerable extent, serve for them all.

They were the first generation of statesmen by profession that England produced. Before their time the division of labour had, in this respect, been very imperfect. Those who had directed public affairs had been, with few ex ceptions, warriors or priests: warriors whose rude courage was neither guided by science nor softened by humanity; priests whose learning and abilities were habitually devoted

to the defence of tyranny and imposture. The Hotspurs, the Nevilles, the Cliffords-rough, illiterate, and unreflecting-brought to the council-board the fierce and imperious disposition which they had acquired amidst the tumult of predatory war, or in the gloomy repose of the garrisoned and moated castle. On the other side was the calm and subtle prelate, versed in all that was then considered as learning; trained in the schools to manage words, and in the confessional to manage hearts; seldom superstitious, but skilful in practising on the superstition of others; false as it was natural that a man should be, whose profession imposed on all who were not saints the necessity of being hypocrites; selfish as it was natural that a man should be, who could form no domestic ties, and cherish no hope of legitimate posterity; more attached to his order than to his country, and guiding the politics of England with a constant side-glance at Rome. But the increase of wealth, the progress of knowledge, and the reformation of religion produced a great change. The nobles ceased to be military chieftains; the priests ceased to possess a monopoly of learning; and a new and remarkable species of politicians appeared.

Henry that the new theology obtained the ascendant at one time, and that the lessons of the nurse and of the priest regained their influence at another. It was not only in the house of Tudor that the husband was exasperated by the opposition of the wife, that the son dissented from the opinions of the father, that the brother persecuted the sister, the one sister persecuted another. The principles of conservation and reform carried on their warfare in every part of society, in every congregation, in every school of learning, round the hearth of every private family, in the recesses of every reflecting mind.

These men came from neither of the classes which had, till then, almost exclusively furnished ministers of state. They were all laymen; yet they were all men of learning, and they were all men of peace. They were not members of the aristocracy. They inherited no titles, no large domains, no armies of retainers, no fortified castles. Yet they were not low men, such as those whom princes, jealous of the power of a nobility, have sometimes raised from forges, and cobblers' stalls, to the highest situations. They were all gentlemen by birth. They had all received a liberal education. It is a remarkable fact that they were all members of the same university. The two great national seats of learning had even then acquired the characters which they still retain. In intellectual activity, and in readiness to admit improvements, the superiority was then, as it has ever since been, on the side of the less ancient and splendid institution. Cambridge had the honour of educating those celebrated Protestant bishops whom Oxford had the honour of burning; and at Cambridge were formed the minds of all those statesmen to whom chiefly is to be attributed the secure establishment of the reformed religion in the north of Europe.

It was in the midst of this ferment that the minds of the persons whom we are describing were developed. They were born Reformers. They belonged by nature to that order of men who always form the front ranks in the great intellectual progress. They were, therefore, one and all Protestants. In religious matters, however, though there is no reason to doubt that they were sincere, they were by no means zealous. None of them chose to run the smallest personal risk during the reign of Mary. None of them favoured the unhappy attempt of Northumberland in favour of his daughterin-law. None of them shared in the desperate councils of Wyatt. They contrived to have business on the Continent; or, if they stayed in England, they heard Mass and kept Lent with great decorum. When those dark and peril ous years had gone by, and when the crown had descended to a new sovereign, they took the lead in the reformation of the church. But they proceeded not with the impetuosity of theologians, but with the calm determination of statesmen. They acted, not like men who considered the Romish worship as a system too offensive to God and too destructive of souls to be tolerated for an hour; but like men who regarded the points in dispute among Christians as in themselves unimportant; and who were not restrained by any scruple of conscience from professing, as they had before professed, the Catholic faith of Mary, the Protestant faith of Edward, or any of the numerous intermediate combinations which the caprice of Henry, and the temporizing policy of Cranmer, had formed out of the doctrines of both the hostile parties. They took a deliberate view of the state of their own country and of the continent. They satisfied themselves as to the leaning of the public mind; and they chose their side. They placed themselves at the head of the Protestants of Europe, and staked all their fame and fortunes on the suc cess of their party.

The statesmen of whom we speak passed their youth surrounded by the incessant din of theological controversy. Opinions were still in a state of chaotic anarchy, intermingling, It is needless to relate how dexterously, how separating, advancing, receding. Sometimes resolutely, how gloriously, they directed the the stubborn bigotry of the Conservatives politics of England during the eventful years seemed likely to prevail. Then the impetuous which followed; how they succeeded in unitonset of the Reformers for a moment carried ing their friends and separating their enemies; all before it. Then again the resisting mass how they humbled the pride of Philip; how made a desperate stand, arrested the move- they backed the unconquerable spirit of Coment, and forced it slowly back. The vacilla- ligni; how they rescued Holland from tyrantion which at that time appeared in English ny; how they founded the maritime greatness legislation, and which it has been the fashion of their country; how they outwitted the artful to attribute to the caprice and to the power of politicians of Italy, and tamed the ferocious one or two individuals, was truly a national chieftains of Scotland. It is impossible to vacillation. It was not only in the mind of deny that they committed many acts which

There were, doubtless, many diversities in their intellectual and moral character. But there was a strong family likeness. The constitution of their minds was remarkably sound. No particular faculty was pre-eminently developed; but manly health and vigour were equally diffused through the whole.

would justly bring on a statesman of our time | perhaps contained in the motto which Sit censures of the most serious kind. But when Nicholas Bacon inscribed over the entrance of we consider the state of morality in their age, his hall at Gorhambury-Mediocria firma. This and the unscrupulous character of the adver- maxim was constantly borne in mind by him. saries against whom they had to contend, we self and his colleagues. They were more are forced to admit, that it is not without rea- solicitous to lay the foundations of their power son that their names are still held in veneration deep, than to raise the structure to a conspi by their countrymen. cuous but insecure height. None of them aspired to be sole minister. None of them provoked envy by an ostentatious display of wealth and influence. None of them affected to outshine the ancient aristocracy of the king. dom. They were free from that childish love of titles which characterized the successful courtiers of the generation which preceded They were men of letters. Their minds them, and that which followed them. As to were by nature and by exercise well-fashioned money, none of them could, in that age, justly for speculative pursuits. It was by circum- be considered as rapacious. Some of them stances rather than by any strong bias of in- would, even in our time, deserve the praise of clination, that they were led to take a promi-eminent disinterestedness. Their fidelity to nent part in active life. In active life, however, the state was incorruptible. Their private no men could be more perfectly free from the morals were without stain. Their households faults of mere theorists and pedants. No men were sober and well governed. observed more accurately the signs of the times. No men had a greater practical acquaintance with human nature. Their policy was generally characterized rather by vigilance, by moderation, and by firmness, than by invention or by the spirit of enterprise.

They spoke and wrote in a manner worthy of their excellent sense. Their eloquence was less copious and less ingenious, but far purer and more manly than that of the succeeding generation. It was the eloquence of men who had lived with the first translators of the Bible, and with the authors of the Book of Common Prayer. It was luminous, dignified, solid, and very slightly tainted with that affectation which deformed the style of the ablest men of the next age. If, as sometimes chanced, they were under the necessity of taking a part in those theological controversies on which the dearest interests of kingdoms were then staked, they acquitted themselves as if their whole lives had been passed in the schools and the


Among these statesmen Sir Nicholas Bacon was generally considered as ranking next to Burleigh. He was called by Camden, "Sacris conciliis alterum columen;" and by George Buchanan,

"Diu Britannici
Regni secundum columen."

The second wife of Sir Nicholas, and the mother of Francis Bacon, was Anne, one of the daughters of Sir Anthony Cook-a man of distinguished learning, who had been tutor to Edward the Sixth. Sir Anthony had paid

considerable attention to the education of his

daughters, and lived to see them all splendidly and happily married. Their classical acquire ments made them conspicuous even among who became Lady Killigrew, wrote Latin hoz the women of fashion of that age. Katherine, ameters and pentameters which would appear with credit in the Musa Etmenses. Mildred, the wife of Lord Burleigh, was described by Roger Ascham as the best Greek scholar among the young women of England, Lady ther of Francis Bacon, was distinguished both Jane Grey always excepted. Anne, the me as a linguist and as a theologian. She corres. ponded in Greek with Bishop Jewell, and translated his Apologia from the Latin, so correctly that neither he nor Archbishop Parker could suggest a single alteration. She also translated a series of sermons on fate and

one of that small and audacious band of Ita

There was something in the temper of these celebrated men which secured them against the proverbial inconstancy both of the court and of the multitude. No intrigue, no combination of rivals, could deprive them of the confidence of their sovereign. No Parliament attacked their influence. No mob coupled their names with any odious grievance. Their power ended only with their lives. In this re-freewill from the Tuscan of Bernardo Ochino. spect their fate presents a most remarkable contrast to that of the enterprising and brilliant This fact is the more curious, as Ochino was politicians of the preceding, and of the suc-lian reformers-anathematized alike by Wit ceeding generation. Burleigh was minister during forty years. Sir Nicholas Bacon held tenberg, by Geneva, by Zurich, and by Rome the great seal more than twenty years. Sir-from which the Socinian sect deduces its Thomas Smith was Secretary of State eighteen years; Sir Francis Walsingham about as long. They all died in office, and in the full enjoyment of public respect and royal favour. Far different had been the fate of Wolsey, Cromwell, Norfolk, Somerset, and Northumberland. Far different also was the fate of Essex, of Raleigh, and of the still more illusrious man whose life we propose to consider. The explanation of this circumstance is |


Lady Bacon was doubtless a lady of highly cultivated mind after the fashion of her age. But we must not suffer ourselves to be deluded

into the belief, that she and her sisters were more accomplished women than many who are now living. On this subject there is, we heard men who wish, as almost all men of think, much misapprehension. We have often

* Strype's Life of Parker.

sense wish, that women shoul! be highly edu-
cated, speak with rapture of the English ladies
of the sixteenth century, and lament that they
can find no modern damsel resembling those
fair pupils of Ascham and Aylmer who com-
pared, over their embroidery, the styles of Iso-
crates and Lysias, and who, while the horns
were sounding and the dogs in full cry, sat in
the lonely oriel, with eyes riveted to that
immortal page which tells how meekly and
bravely the first great martyr of intellectual
liberty took the cup from his weeping jailer.
But surely these complaints have very little
foundation. We would by no means dispa-
rage the 'adies of the sixteenth century or their
pursuits But we conceive that those who
extol them at the expense of the women of
our time forget one very obvious and very
important circumstance. In the reign of
Henry the Eighth, and Edward the Sixth,
person who did not read Greek and Latin
could read nothing, or next to nothing. The
Italian was the only modern language which
possessed any thing that could be called a
literature. All the valuable books then extant
in all the vernacular dialects of Europe would
hardly have filled a single shelf. England did
not yet possess Shakspeare's plays, and the
Faerie Queen; nor France Montaigne's Essays;
nor Spain Don Quixote. In looking round
a well-furnished library, how few English or
French books can we find which were extant
when Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth
received their education. Chaucer, Gower,
Froissart, Comines, Rabelais, nearly complete
the list. It was therefore absolutely necessary
that a woman should be uneducated or classi-
cally educated. Indeed, without a knowledge
of one of the ancient languages no person
could then have any clear notions of what was
passing in the political, the literary, or the
religious world. The Latin was in the six-wives.
teenth century all and more than all that the
French was in the eighteenth. It was the lan-
guage of courts as well as of the schools. It
was the language of diplomacy; it was the
language of theological and political contro-
versy. Being a fixed language, while the living
languages were in a state of fluctuation, be-
ing universally known to the learned and the
polite, it was employed by almost every writer
who aspired to a wide and durable reputation.
A person who was ignorant of it was shut out
from all acquaintance-not merely with Ci-
cero and Virgil-not merely with heavy trea-
tises on canon-law and school divinity-but
with the most interesting memoirs, state pa-
pers, and pamphlets of his own time; nay,
even with the most admired poetry and the
most popular squibs which appeared on the
fleeting topics of the day-with Buchanan's
complimentary verses, with Erasmus's dia-
logues, with Hutton's epistles.

This is no longer the case. All political and religious controversy is now conducted in the modern languages. The ancient tongues are used only in comments on the ancient writers. The great productions of Athenian and Roman genius are indeed still what they But though their positive value is un


changed, their relative value, when compared with the whole mass of mental wealth possess. ed by mankind, has been constantly falling They were the intellectual all of our ancestors. They are but a part of our treasures. Over what tragedy could Lady Jane Grey have wept, over what comedy could she have smiled, if the ancient dramatists had not been in her library? A modern reader can make shift without Edipus and Medea, while he possesses Othello and Hamlet. If he knows nothing of Pyrgopolynices and Thraso, he is familiar with Bobadil, and Bessus, and Pistol, and Parolles. If he cannot enjoy the delicious irony of Plate, he may find some compensation in that of Pascal. If he is shut out from Nephelococcygia, he may take refuge in Lilliput. We are guilty, we hope, of no irreverence towards those great nations to which the humar race owes art, science, taste, civil and intellectual freedom, when we say, that the stock bequeathed by them to us has been so carefully improved that the accumulated interest now exceeds the principal. We believe that the books which have been written in the languages of western Europe, during the last two hundred and fifty years, are of greater value than all the books which, at the beginning of that period, were extant in the world. With the modern languages of Europe English women are at least as well acquainted as English men. When, therefore, we compare the ac quirements of Lady Jane Grey and those of an accomplished young woman of our own time, we have no hesitation in awarding the supe riority to the latter. We hope that our readers will pardon this digression. It is long; but it can hardly be called unseasonable, if it tends to convince them that they are mistaken in thinking that their great-great-grandmothers were superior women to their sisters and their

Francis Bacon, the youngest son of Sir Nicholas, was born at York House, his father's residence in the Strand, on the 22d of January, 1561. His health was very delicate, and to this circumstance may be partly attributed that gravity of carriage, and that love of se. dentary pursuits, which distinguished him from other boys. Everybody knows how much his premature readiness of wit and sobriety of deportment amused the queen; and how she used to call him her young Lord Keeper. We are told that while still a mere child he stole away from his playfellows to a vault in St. James's Fields, for the purpose of investi gating the cause of a singular echo which he had observed there. It is certain that, at only twelve, he busied himself with very geni ous speculations on the art of legerdemaina subject which, as Professor Dugald Stewart has most justly observed. merits much more attention from philosophers than it has ever received. These are trifles. But the eminence which Bacon afterwards attained renders them interesting.

In the thirteenth year of his age he was en tered at Trinity College, Cambridge. That celebrated school of learning enjoyed the pe culiar favour of the Lord Treasurer and the

Lord Keeper; and acknowledged the advantages which it derived from their patronage in a public letter which bears date just a month after the admission of Francis Bacon. The master was Whitgift, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, a narrow-minded, mean, and tyrannical priest, who gained power by servility and adulation, and employed in persecuting with impartial cruelty those who agreed with Calvin about church government, and those who differed from Calvin touching the doctrine of reprobation. He was now in the chrysalis state-putting off the worm and putting on the dragon-fly-a kind of intermediate grub between sycophant and oppressor. He was indemnifying himself for the court which he found it expedient to pay to the ministers, by exercising much petty tyranny within his own college. It would be unjust, however, to deny him the praise of having rendered about this time one important service to letters. He stood up manfully against those who wished to make Trinity College a mere appendage to Westminster school, and by this act, the only good act, as far as we remember, of his long public life, he saved the noblest place of education in England from the degrading fate of King's College and New College.

of deciphering with great interest; and invent ed one cipher so ingenious that many years later he thought it deserving of a place in the De Augmentis. In February, 1580, while en gaged in these pursuits, he received intelli gence of the almost sudden death of his father, and instantly returned to England.

His prospects were greatly overcast by this event. He was most desirous to obtain a provision which might enable him to devote himself to literature and politics. He applied to the government, and it seems strange that he should have applied in vain. His wishes were moderate. His hereditary claims on the administration were great. He had himself been favourably noticed by the queen. His uncle was Prime Minister. His own talents were such as any minister might have been eager to enlist in the public service. But his solicitations were unsuccessful. The truth is, that the Cecils disliked him, and did all that they could decently do to keep him down. It has never been alleged that Bacon had done any thing to merit this dislike; nor is it at all probable that a man whose temper was naturally mild, whose manners were courteous, who, through life, nursed his fortunes with the utmost care, and who was fearful even to a fault of offending the powerful, would have

It has often been said that Bacon, while still at college, planned that great intellectual revo-given any just canse of displeasure to a kinslution with which his name is inseparably man who had the means of rendering him esconnected. The evidence on this subject, sential service, and of doing him irreparable however, is hardly sufficient to prove what is injury. The real explanation, we have no in itself so improbable as that any definite doubt, is this: Robert Cecil, the Treasurer's scheme of that kind should have been so early second son, was younger by a few months formed, even by so powerful and active a than Bacon. He had been educated with the mind. But it is certain that, after a residence utmost care; had been initiated, while still a of three years at Cambridge, Bacon departed, boy, in the mysteries of diplomacy and court carrying with him a profound contempt for the intrigue; and was just at this time about to be course of study pursued there; a fixed convic-introduced on the stage of public life. The tion that the system of academic education in wish nearest to Burleigh's heart was that his England was radically vicious; a just scorn own greatness might descend to this favourite for the trifles on which the followers of Aris- child. But even Burleigh's fatherly partiality totle had wasted their powers, and no great could hardly prevent him from perceiving that reverence for Aristotle himself. Robert, with all his abilities and acquirements, was no match for his cousin Francis. This seems to us the only rational explanation of the Treasurer's conduct. Mr. Montagu is more charitable. He supposes that Burleigh was influenced merely by affection for his nephew, and was "little disposed to encourage him to rely on others rather than on himself, and to venture on the quicksands of politics, instead of the certain profession of the law." If such were Burleigh's feelings, it seems strange that he should have suffered his son to venture on those quicksands from which he so carefully preserved his nephew. But the truth is, that if Burleigh had been so disposed, he might easily have secured to Bacon a comfortable provision which should have been exposed to no risk. And it is equally certain that he showed as little disposition to enable his nephew to live by a profession as to enable him to live without a profession. That Bacon himself attributed the conduct of his relative; to jealousy of his superior talents, we have not the smallest doubt. In a letter, written many years after to Villiers, he expresses himself thus: "Countenance, encourage, and

In his sixteenth year he visited Paris, and resided there for some time, under the care of Sir Amias Paulet, Elizabeth's minister at the French court, and one of the ablest and most upright of the many valuable servants whom she employed. France was at that time in a deplorable state of agitation. The Huguenots and the Catholics were mustering all their force for the fiercest and most protracted of their many struggles: while the prince, whose duty it was to protect and to restrain both, had by his vices and follies degraded himself so deeply that he had no authority over either. Bacon, however, made a tour through several provinces, and appears to have passed some time at Poitiers. We have abundant proof that during his stay on the continent he did not neglect literary and scientific pursuits. But nis attention seems to have been chiefly directed to statistics and diplomacy. It was at this time that he wrote those Notes on the State of Europe which are printed in his works. He studied the principles of the art

* Strype's Life of Whitgift.

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