Bacon was talked of for it, and probably expected it, for he drew up new rules for it, and a speech for the new master; but the office and the speech went to Sir George Carey. Soon after Sir George Carey died. Bacon then applied for it through the new favourite, Rochester. “He was so confident of the place that he put most of his men into new cloaks;” and the world of the day amused itself at his disappointment, when the place was given to another “mean man,” Sir Walter Cope, of whom the gossips wrote that if the “last two Treasurers could look out of their graves to see those successors in that place, they would be out of countenance with themselves, and say to the world quantum mutatus.” But Bacon’s hand and counsel appear more and more in important matters—the improvement of the revenue; the defence of extreme rights of the prerogative in the case against Whitelocke; the great question of calling a parliament, and of the true and “princely” way of dealing with it. His confidential advice to the King about calling a parliament was marked by his keen perception of the facts of the situation; it was marked too by his confident reliance on skilful indirect methods and trust in the look of things; it bears traces also of his bitter feeling against Salisbury, whom he charges with treacherously fomenting the opposition of the last Parliament. There was no want of worldly wisdom in it; certainly it was more adapted to James’s ideas of state-craft than the simpler plan of Sir Henry Nevill, that the King should throw himself frankly on the loyalty and good-will of Parliament. And thus he came to be on easy terms with James, who was quite capable of understanding Bacon’s resource and nimbleness of wit. In the autumn of 1613 the Chief-Justiceship of the King’s Bench became vacant. Bacon at once gave the King reasons for sending Coke from the Common Pleas—where he was a check on the prerogative—to the King’s Bench, where he could do less harm; while Hobart went to the Common Pleas. The promotion was obvious, but the Common Pleas suited Coke better, and the place was more lucrative. Bacon’s advice was followed. Coke, very reluctantly, knowing well who had given it, and why, “not only weeping himself but followed by the tears” of all the Court of Common Pleas, moved up to the higher post. The Attorney Hobart succeeded, and Bacon at last became Attorney (October 27, 1613). In Chamberlain’s gossip we have an indication, such as occurs only accidentally, of the view of outsiders: “There is a strong apprehension that little good is to be expected by this change, and that Bacon may prove a dangerous instrument.”
BACON ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND CHANCELLOR.