Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.
hardly able to understand or allow for, the idea of absolute royal power and prerogative which James had enlarged and hardened out of the Kingship of the Tudors, itself imperious and arbitrary enough, but always seeking, with a tact of which James was incapable, to be in touch and sympathy with popular feeling.  But it was a basis which in principle every one of any account as yet held or professed to hold, and which Bacon himself held on grounds of philosophy and reason.  He could see no hope for orderly and intelligent government except in a ruler whose wisdom had equal strength to assert itself; and he looked down with incredulity and scorn on the notion of anything good coming out of what the world then knew or saw of popular opinion or parliamentary government.  But when it came to what was wise and fitting for absolute power to do in the way of general measures and policy, he was for the most part right.  He saw the inexorable and pressing necessity of putting the finance of the kingdom on a safe footing.  He saw the necessity of a sound and honest policy in Ireland.  He saw the mischief of the Spanish alliance in spite of his curious friendship with Gondomar, and detected the real and increasing weakness of the Spanish monarchy, which still awed mankind.  He saw the growing danger of abuses in Church and State which were left untouched, and were protected by the punishment of those who dared to complain of them.  He saw the confusion and injustice of much of that common law of which the lawyers were so proud; and would have attempted, if he had been able, to emulate Justinian, and anticipate the Code Napoleon, by a rational and consistent digest.  Above all, he never ceased to impress on James the importance, and, if wisely used, the immense advantages, of his Parliaments.  Himself, for great part of his life, an active and popular member of the House of Commons, he saw that not only it was impossible to do without it, but that, if fairly, honourably, honestly dealt with, it would become a source of power and confidence which would double the strength of the Government both at home and abroad.  Yet of all this wisdom nothing came.  The finance of the kingdom was still ruined by extravagance and corruption in a time of rapidly-developing prosperity and wealth.  The wounds of Ireland were unhealed.  It was neither peace nor war with Spain, and hot infatuation for its friendship alternated with cold fits of distrust and estrangement.  Abuses flourished and multiplied under great patronage.  The King’s one thought about Parliament was how to get as much money out of it as he could, with as little other business as possible.  Bacon’s counsels were the prophecies of Cassandra in that so prosperous but so disastrous reign.  All that he did was to lend the authority of his presence, in James’s most intimate counsels, to policy and courses of which he saw the unwisdom and the perils.  James and Buckingham made use of him when they wanted.  But they would have been very different in their measures and their statesmanship if they had listened to him.

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Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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