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close of the reign of George the Second was the most enviable ever occupied by any public man in English history. He had conciliated the king; he domineered over the House of Commons; he was adored by the people; he was admired by all Europe. He was the first Englishman of his time; and he had made England the first country in the world. The Great Commoner-the name by which he was often designated-might look down with scorn on coronets and garters. The nation was drunk with joy and pride. The Parliament was as quiet as it had been under Pelham. The old party distinctions were almost effaced; nor was their place yet supplied by distinctions of a yet more important kind. A new generation of country-squires and rectors had arisen who knew not the Stuarts. The Dissenters were tolerated; the Catholics not cruelly persecuted. The Church was drowsy and indulgent. The great civil and religious conflict which began at the Reformation seemed to have terminated in universal repose. Whigs and

Tories, Churchman and Puritans, spoke with equal reverence of the constitution, and with equal enthusiasm of the talents, virtues, and services of the minister.

A few years sufficed to change the whole aspect of affairs. A nation convulsed by faction, a throne assailed by the fiercest invective, a House of Commons hated and despised by the nation, England set against Scotland, Britain set against America, a rival legislature sitting beyond the Atlantic, English blood shed by English bayonets, our armies capitulating, our conquests wrested from us, our enemies hastening to take vengeance for past humiliation, our flag scarcely able to maintain itself in our own seas-such was the spectacle Pitt lived to see. But the history of this great revolution requires far more space than we can at present bestow. We leave the "Great Commoner" in the zenith of his glory. It is not impossible that we may take some other opportunity of tracing his life to its melancholy yet not inglorious, close



We return our hearty thanks to Mr. Montagu, as well for his very valuable edition of Lord Bacon's Works, as for the instructive Life of the immortal author, contained in the last volume. We have much to say on the subject of this Life, and will often find ourselves obliged to dissent from the opinions of the biographer. But about his merit as a collector of the materials out of which opinions are formed, there can be no dispute; and we readily acknowledge that we are in a great measure indebted to his minute and accurate researches, for the means of refuting what we cannot but consider his errors.

The labour which has been bestowed on this volume, has been a labour of love. The writer is evidently enamoured of the subject. It fills his heart. It constantly overflows from his lips and his pen. Those who are acquainted with the courts in which Mr. Montagu practises with so much ability and success, well know how often he enlivens the discussion of a point of law by citing some weighty aphorism, or some brilliant illustration, from the De Augmentis or the Novum Organum. The Life before us, doubtless, owes much of its value to the honest and generous enthusiasm of the writer. This feeling has stimulated his activity; has sustained his perseverance; has called forth all his ingenuity and eloquence: but, on the other hand, we must frankly say, that it has, to a great extent, perverted his judgment.

We are by no means without sympathy for Mr. Montagu even in what we consider as his weakness. There is scarcely any delusion which has a better claim to be indulgently treated than that, under the influence of which a man ascribes every moral excellence to those who have left imperishable monuments of their genius. The causes of this error lie deep in the inmost recesses of human nature. We are all inclined to judge of others as we find them. Our estimate of a character always depends much on the manner in which that character affects our own interests and passions. We find it difficult to think well of those by whom we are thwarted or depressed; and we are ready to admit every excuse for the vices of those who are useful or agreeable to us. This is, we believe, one of those illusions to which the whole human race is subject, and which experience and reflection can only partially remove. It is, in the phraseology of Bacon, one of the idola tribus. Hence it is, that the moral character of a man eminent in letters, or in the fine arts, is treated-often by contemporaries-almost always by posterity -with extraordinary tenderness. The world

*The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of Eng land. A new Edition. By BASIL MONTAGU, Esq. 16 vols. 8vo. London. 1825-1834.

derives pleasure and advantage from the performances of such a man. The number of those who suffer by his personal vices is small, even in his own time, when compared with the number of those to whom his talents are a source of gratification. In a few years, all those whom he has injured disappear. But his works remain, and are a source of delight to millions. The genius of Sallust is still with us. But the Numidians whom he plundered, and the unfortunate husbands who caught him in their houses at unseasonable hours, are forgotten. We suffer ourselves to be delighted by the keenness of Clarendon's observation, and by the sober majesty of his style, till we forget the oppressor and the bigot in the historian. Falstaff and Tom Jones have survived the gamekeepers whom Shakspeare cudgelled, and the landladies whom Fielding bilked. A great writer is the friend and benefactor of his readers; and they cannot but judge of him under the deluding influence of friendship and gratitude. We all know how unwilling we are to admit the truth of any disgraceful story about a person whose society we like, and from whom we have received favours, how long we struggle against evidence, how fondly, when the facts cannot be disputed, we cling to the hope that there may be some explanation or some extenuating circumstance with which we are unacquainted. Just such is the feeling which a man of liberal education naturally entertains towards the great minds of former ages. The debt which he owes to them is incalculable. They have guided him to truth. They have filled his mind with noble and graceful images. They have stood by him in all vicissitudes-comforters in sorrow, nurses in sickness, companions in solitude. These friendships are exposed to no danger from the occurrences by which other attachments are weakened or dissolved. Time glides by; fortune is inconstant; tempers are soured; bonds which seemed indissoluble are daily sundered by interest, by emulation, or by caprice. But no such cause can affect the silent converse which we hold with the highest of human intellects. That placid intercourse is disturbed by no jealousies or resentments. These are the old friends who are never seen with new faces, who are the same in wealth and in poverty, in glory and in obscurity. With the dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there is no change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes is never petulant. Demosthenes never comes unseasonably. Dante never stays too long. No difference of political opinion can alienate Cicero. No heresy can excite the horior of Bossuet.

Nothing, then, can be more natural than that a person of sensibility and imagination should entertain a respectful and affectionate feeling

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 proceeds 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, if 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

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 actions 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 unscrupulous, as can be found in the most ardent partisans 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 misrepresents facts with all the effrontery of an advocate, and confounds right and wrong with all-actions which can be explained in no other 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.

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,”

way, without resorting to some grotesque hy. pothesis for which there is not a title of evidence. But any hypothesis is, in Mr. Montagu's opinion, more probable than that his hero should ever have done any thing very wrong.

This mode of defending Bacon seems to us by no means Baconian. To take a man's character 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 had a superstition of his own. The great held the great seal of England during the first Iconoclast was himself an idolater. The great twenty years of the reign of Elizabeth. The Avvocata del Diavolo, while he disputed, with no fame of the father has been thrown into shade small ability, the claims of Cyprian and Athana- by that of the son. But Sir Nicholas was no sius to a place in the Calendar, was himself ordinary man. He belonged to a set of men composing a lying legend in honour of St. whom it is easier to describe collectively than Tully! He was holding up as a model of separately; whose minds were formed by one every virtue a man whose talents and acquire- system of discipline; who belonged to one ments, indeed, can never be too highly extol- rank in society, to one university, to one party, led, and who was by no means destitute of to one sect, to one administration; and who amiable qualities, but whose whole soul was resembled each other so much in talents, in under the dominion of a girlish vanity and a opinions, in habits, in fortunes, that one chacraven fear. Actions for which Cicero him-racter, we had almost said one life, may, to a self, 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

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 exceptions, 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 Henry that the new theology obtained the asHotspurs, the Nevilles, the Cliffords-rough, cendant at one time, and that the lessons of the illiterate, and unreflecting--brought to the nurse and of the priest regained their influence council-board the fierce and imperious disposi- at another. It was not only in the house of tion which they had acquired amidst the tu-Tudor that the husband was exasperated by mult of predatory war, or in the gloomy repose the opposition of the wife, that the son dissented of the garrisoned and moated castle. On the from the opinions of the father, that the brother other side was the calm and subtle prelate, persecuted the sister, the one sister persecuted versed in all that was then considered as another. The principles of conservation and learning; trained in the schools to manage reform carried on their warfare in every part words, and in the confessional to manage of society, in every congregation, in every hearts; seldom superstitious, but skilful in school of learning, round the hearth of every practising on the superstition of others; false private family, in the recesses of every reflectas it was natural that a man should be, whose ing mind. 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.

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

These men came from neither of the classes which had, till then, almost exclusively furnished ministers of state. They were all lay-business on the Continent; or, if they stayed in men; yet they were all men of learning, and England, they heard Mass and kept Lent with they were all men of peace. They were not great decorum. When those dark and perilmembers of the aristocracy. They inherited ous years had gone by, and when the crown no titles, no large domains, no armies of re- had descended to a new sovereign, they took tainers, no fortified castles. Yet they were not the lead in the reformation of the church. But low men, such as those whom princes, jealous they proceeded not with the impetuosity of of the power of a nobility, have sometimes theologians, but with the calm determination, raised from forges, and cobblers' stalls, to the of statesmen. They acted, not like men who highest situations. They were all gentlemen considered the Romish worship as a system by birth. They had all received a liberal edu- too offensive to God and too destructive of cation. It is a remarkable fact that they were souls to be tolerated for an hour; but like men all members of the same university. The two who regarded the points in dispute among great national seats of learning had even then Christians as in themselves unimportant; and acquired the characters which they still retain. who were not restrained by any scruple of In intellectual activity, and in readiness to conscience from professing, as they had before admit improvements, the superiority was then, professed, the Catholic faith of Mary, the Proas it has ever since been, on the side of the testant faith of Edward, or any of the numerous less ancient and splendid institution. Cam-intermediate combinations which the caprice bridge 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.

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, separating, advancing, receding. Sometimes the stubborn bigotry of the Conservatives seemed likely to prevail. Then the impetuous onset of the Reformers for a moment carried all before it. Then again the resisting mass made a desperate stand, arrested the movement, and forced it slowly back. The vacillation which at that time appeared in English legislation, and which it has been the fashion to attribute to the caprice and to the power of one or two individuals, was truly a national vacillation. It was not only in the mind of

of Henry, and the temporizing policy of Cran mer, 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.

It is needless to relate how dexterously, how resolutely, how gloriously, they directed the politics of England during the eventful years which followed; how they succeeded in uniting their friends and separating their enemies; how they humbled the pride of Philip; how they backed the unconquerable spirit of Coligni; how they rescued Holland from tyran ny; how they founded the maritime greatness of their country; how they outwitted the artful politicians of Italy, and tamed the ferocious chieftains of Scotland. It is impossible to deny that they committed many acts which

would justly bring on a statesman of our time perhaps contained in the motto which Sir 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 himsaries 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 by their countrymen.

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.

deep, than to raise the structure to a conspicuous 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 kingdom. They were free from that childish love of titles which characterized the successful courtiers of the generation which preceded them, and that which followed them. As to money, none of them could, in that age, justly be considered as rapacious. Some of them would, even in our time, deserve the praise of

the state was incorruptible. Their private morals were without stain. Their households were sober and well governed.

They were men of letters. Their minds were by nature and by exercise well-fashioned for speculative pursuits. It was by circumstances rather than by any strong bias of inclination, that they were led to take a promi-eminent disinterestedness. Their fidelity to nent part in active life. In active life, however, no men could be more perfectly free from the faults of mere theorists and pedants. No men 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.

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."

They spoke and wrote in a manner worthy of their excellent sense. Their eloquence The second wife of Sir Nicholas, and the was less copious and less ingenious, but far purer and more manly than that of the succeed-mother of Francis Bacon, was Anne, one of ing generation. It was the eloquence of men the daughters of Sir Anthony Cook-a man who had lived with the first translators of the of distinguished learning, who had been tutor Bible, and with the authors of the Book of to Edward the Sixth. Sir Anthony had paid Common Prayer. It was luminous, dignified, considerable attention to the education of his solid, and very slightly tainted with that affec-daughters, and lived to see them all splendidly tation 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


and happily married. Their classical acquire the women of fashion of that age. Katherine, ments made them conspicuous even among who became Lady Killigrew, wrote Latin hexameters and pentameters which would appear with credit in the Musa Etonenses. 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 mo as a linguist and as a theologian. She corresponded 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

This fact is the more curious, as Ochino was

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 politicians of the preceding, and of the succeeding generation. Burleigh was minister during forty years. Sir Nicholas Bacon held the great seal more than twenty years. Sir 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 illusmous man whose life we propose to consider.

The explanation of this circumstance is

lian reformers-anathematized alike by Wit tenberg, by Geneva, by Zurich, and by Rome -from which the Socinian sect deduces its origin.

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 think, much misapprehension. We have often heard men who wish, as almost all men of

* Strype's Life of Parker.

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