Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.
run he was pardoned; or he might remain indefinitely a prisoner.  Raleigh had remained to perish at last in dishonour.  Northumberland, Raleigh’s fellow-prisoner, after fifteen years’ captivity, was released this year.  The year after Bacon’s condemnation such criminals as Lord and Lady Somerset were released from the Tower, after a six years’ imprisonment.  Southampton, the accomplice of Essex, Suffolk, sentenced as late as 1619 by Bacon for embezzlement, sat in the House of Peers which judged Bacon, and both of them took a prominent part in judging him.

To Bacon the sentence was ruinous.  It proved an irretrievable overthrow as regards public life, and, though some parts of it were remitted and others lightened, it plunged his private affairs into trouble which weighed heavily on him for his few remaining years.  To his deep distress and horror he had to go to the Tower to satisfy the terms of his sentence.  “Good my Lord,” he writes to Buckingham, May 31, “procure my warrant for my discharge this day.  Death is so far from being unwelcome to me, as I have called for it as far as Christian resolution would permit any time these two months.  But to die before the time of his Majesty’s grace, in this disgraceful place, is even the worst that could be.”  He was released after two or three days, and he thanks Buckingham (June 4) for getting him out to do him and the King faithful service—­“wherein, by the grace of God, your Lordship shall find that my adversity hath neither spent nor pent my spirits.”  In the autumn his fine was remitted—­that is, it was assigned to persons nominated by Bacon, who, as the Crown had the first claim on all his goods, served as a protection against his other creditors, who were many and some of them clamorous—­and it was followed by his pardon.  His successor, Williams, now Bishop of Lincoln, who stood in great fear of Parliament, tried to stop the pardon.  The assignment of the fine, he said to Buckingham, was a gross job—­“it is much spoken against, not for the matter (for no man objects to that), but for the manner, which is full of knavery, and a wicked precedent.  For by this assignment he is protected from all his creditors, which (I dare say) was neither his Majesty’s nor your Lordship’s meaning.”  It was an ill-natured and cowardly piece of official pedantry to plunge deeper a drowning man; but in the end the pardon was passed.  It does not appear whether Buckingham interfered to overrule the Lord Keeper’s scruples.  Buckingham was certainly about this time very much out of humour with Bacon, for a reason which, more than anything else, discloses the deep meanness which lurked under his show of magnanimity and pride.  He had chosen this moment to ask Bacon for York House.  This meant that Bacon would never more want it.  Even Bacon was stung by such a request to a friend in his condition, and declined to part with it; and Buckingham accordingly was offended, and made Bacon feel it.  Indeed, there is reason to think with Mr. Spedding that for the sealing of his pardon Bacon was indebted to the good offices with the King, not of Buckingham, but of the Spaniard, Gondomar, with whom Bacon had always been on terms of cordiality and respect, and who at this time certainly “brought about something on his behalf, which his other friends either had not dared to attempt or had not been able to obtain.”

Project Gutenberg
Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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