« PreviousContinue »
Fellow-citizens, take courage; be of good cheer. We shall come to no such ignoble end. We shall live, and not die. During the period allotted to our several lives, we shall continue to rejoice in the return of this anniversary. The illomened sounds of fanaticism will be hushed; the ghastly spectres of Secession and Disunion will disappear; and the enemies of united constitutional liberty, if their hatred cannot be appeased, may prepare to have their eyeballs seared as they behold the steady flight of the American eagle, on his burnished wings, for years and years to come.
President Fillmore, it is your singularly good fortune to perform an act such as that which the earliest of your predecessors performed fifty-eight years ago. You stand where he stood; you lay your hand on the corner-stone of a building designed greatly to extend that whose corner-stone he laid. Changed, changed is every thing around. The same Sun indeed shone upon his head which now shines upon yours. The same broad river rolled at his feet, and bathes his last resting-place, that now rolls at yours. But the site of this city was then mainly an open field. Streets and avenues have since been laid out and completed, squares and public grounds inclosed and ornamented, until the city which bears his name, although comparatively inconsiderable in numbers and wealth, has become quite fit to be the seat of government of a great and united people.
Fellow-citizens, I now bring this address to a close, by expressing to you, in the words of the great Roman orator, the deepest wish of my heart, and which I know dwells deeply in the hearts of all who hear me: “Duo modo hæc opto; unum, UT MORIENS POPULUM ROMANUM LIBERUM RELINQUAM; hoc mihi majus a diis immortalibus dari nihil potest: alterúm, ut ita cuique eveniat, ut de republica quisque mereatur. ”
And now, fellow-citizens, with hearts void of hatred, envy and malice towards our own countrymen, or any of them, or towards the subjects or citizens of other governments, or towards any member of the great family of Man; but exulting, nevertheless, in our own peace, security, and happiness, in the grateful remembrance of the past, and the glorious hopes of the future, let us return to our homes, and with all humility and devotion offer our thanks to the Father of all our mercies, political, social, and religious.
2 This quotation is from Cicero, and may be Englished thus: “Only these two things I crave,
,-first, that at my death I may leave the Roman people free, than which no greater boon can be granted me by the immortal gods; next, that every man's lot may be carved out to him according to his merits as a citizen of the republic.”
SKETCH OF HIS LIFE.
FRANCIS Bacon, the great Light of modern Philosophy, was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who for twenty years held the office of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He was born at York House, London, the residence of his father, on the 22d of January, 1561. His mother, Anne Cooke, was his father's second wife, and had one other son, Anthony, two years older than Francis. As her oldest sister was the wife of Lord Treasurer Burleigh, Francis stood, from his birth, in a sort of double relation to the Court. Both Lady Burleigh and Lady Bacon were highly educated women; their father, Sir Anthony Cooke, being the preceptor of King Edward the Sixth. Lady Bacon, before her marriage, translated Bishop Jewel's Apology into Latin, and is said to have done it so well, that the good prelate conld discover no error in it, nor suggest any alteration.
Of the childhood of Francis and his brother little is known. Their early education was superintended by their accomplished mother. The health of Francis was delicate and fragile; which may partly account for the studious and thoughtful turn which seems to have marked his boyhood. Queen Elizabeth, it is said, took special delight in “trying him with questions,” when he was a little boy; and was so much pleased with the sense and gravity of his answers, that she used to call him in sport her “young Lord Keeper.” And Bacon himself tells us that, in his boyhood, the Queen once asked him how old he was, and that he promptly replied, “Two years younger than your Majesty's reign.” It is also said that, when very young, he stole away from his playfellows, to investigate the cause of a singular echo in St. James's Fields, which had excited his curiosity.
At the age of thirteen, Bacon entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he remained three years, and then left without taking a degree. It is said that, while in college, he studied diligently the great models of antiquity; but even at that early age he took a dislike to the philosophy of Aristotle, not on account of the author, to whom he ascribed all high attributes, but for the unfruitfulness of the method ; it being a philosophy strong only for disputations and contentions, but barren of works for the benefit of the life of man.
The Lord Keeper had designed his son Francis for a public career as a statesman or diplomatist, and with that view took him out of college, at the age of sixteen, and sent him to Paris, where he spent some time under the care of Sir Amyas laulet, the English ambassador at the French Court. It is said that while there he invented an ingenious method of writing in cipher. The main purpose in sending him abroad was, that he might study men; and with that view he travelled to various places in France and Italy; but it well appears that, though he was a keen observer of men, he could not withdraw his mind altogether from the investigation of natural phenomena. After about three years spent on the Continent, he was called home by the sudden death of his father. This event changed the whole course of his life. Sir Nicholas had intended to purchase an estate for Francis, as he had done for his other sons ; but, as death came upon him before this intention was carried out, the money was divided equally among all his children, the youngest son being thus left with only one fifth of what was intended for him : so that, instead of living only to study, he was under the necessity of studying how to live.
Bacon now fixed upon the law as his profession, and in 1580 became a member of Gray's Inn, which was one of the four principal schools or colleges for students of the law in London. As he had great power of application in whatever he undertook, his all-gifted mind made swift advances in legal studies, and in June, 1582, he was admitted as an utter barrister, which was the first degree in legal practice. February, 1586, saw him advanced to what was called the high table of Gray's Inn, and he soon after became a bencher. Meanwhile he had kept up his philosophical studies, and published the first truits thereof in a work rather ambitiously entitled The Greatest Birth of Time; which, however, fell so dead upon the world that it is now heard of only in one of his letters, written long afterwards, to Father Fulgentio; and its only effect at the time was to mark him out as a rash speculatist.
In 1584, while yet a student of Gray's Inn, Bacon was elected to Parliament by one of the borough constituencies of Dorsetshire. On this great stage he continued to figure conspicuously for upwards of thirty years. In the Fall of 1586 he took his seat in the Ilouse of Commons for Taunton ; and in the next Parliament we find him representing Liverpool. In February, 1593, he was member for the County of Middlesex; and from that time onward his reputation as a statesman stood so high, that various constituencies appear to have striven for the honour of having him as their representative; and in some instances he was elected for several places at the same time. Bacon was an exceedingly industrious and useful member of Parliament. As a practical legislator, he was probably second to no man of his time. His great skill and diligence in the business of his place caused him to be put upon many important committees; and whenever he addressed the whole Honse, as he very often did, he appears to have surpassed all the others both in commanding and rewarding the attention of ihe members. Ben Jonson tells us that “the fear of every man who heard him was, lest he should make an end.”
One passage in his parliamentary life seems to call for some special notice. In the Parliament of 1593, upon a question of granting supplies, the two Houses appointed each a committee, to confer together, and make a joint report. When the result of that conference came up, Bacon opposed the action, claiming for the Commons the exclusive right to originate bills of that nature; and he moved that the House should “proceed herein by themselves apart from their Lordships. Thus his opposition went upon the ground of privilege. Nevertheless, both on that point, and also on the terms of the subsidy, he was outvoted, and he acquiesced. His conduct was very offensive to the Queen ; and he is charged with having met her reprimand with “the most abject apologies.” Even if this were true, it was nothing more than the whole House of Commons had often done before. But we have two letters from Bacon on the subject, addressed to Burleigh and Essex; both in a tone of manly self-justification. The Queen was angry at his speeches, and he expressed his grief that she should " retain an hard conceit of them.” lle adds the following: “It might please her sacred Majesty to think what my end should be in those, speeches, it it were not duty, and duty alone. I am not so simple but I know the common beaten way to please. And whereas popularity hath been objected, I muse what care I should take to please many, that taketh a course of life to deal with few.'
Up to this time, and for some years longer, Bacon gained no lucrative position. For reasons which I cannot stay to explain, his uncle, the Lord Treasurer, lent him but scanty and grudging help. The only thing indeed
which his Lordship did for this illustrious kinsman was to procure for him, in 1589, the reversion of the clerkship of the Star Chamber, which was worth some £1600 a year, but which did not fali vacant till twenty years after. Though Bacon did his work well, both as a lawyer and a legislator, still his thoughts and aspirations pointed elsewhere. He had indeed a strong desire of office, but it was not a selfish desire : it was rather the instructive yearning of his most original and comprehensive genius for leave to range in its proper home. His highest ambition was for a place which should supply his needs, and at the same time give him leisure to prosecute his intellectual conquests. Having taken all knowledge to be his province, with his vast contemplative ends he united but moderate civil ends. Hé had indeed an ardent, admiring, and steadfast friend in the Earl of Essex, who did all he could to help him in the matter of office and salary; but Essex was so rash in his temper, so ill-judying and so headstrong in his proceedings, that his friendship proved rather a hindrance than a help.
In 1593 the office of Attorney-General becamo vacant. Bacou had hopes of the place, and Essex lent his influence in that behalf; but the Queen's displeasure could not be overcome. After a delay of many months, during which Bacon was kept in suspense, the office was given to Sir Edward Coke. By this promotion, the place of Solicitor-General fell vacant. Bacon then fixed his eye on that office, and Essex worked for him with all his might; but, after a suspense of a year and a half, his hopes were again blasted by the appointment of Sergeant Fleming. Chagrined and mortified at the failure of his suit, the generous Essex next conceived the design of compensating Bacon with a liberal share of his own property. He accordingly proposed to give him an estate worth about £1800, equivalent to some $50,000 in our time. But Bacon's insight of character naturally made him reluctant to incur such obligations, as he could not but see that the Earl was likely to mar all by his violent courses. He declined the offer. Essex insisted, and Bacon at last yielded, but with such words as show that he had too just a presentiment of what thc Earl was coming to. “My Lord,” said he," I see I must be your homager and hold land of your gift : but do you know the manner of doing homage by law? Always it is with a saving of his faith to the King and his other lords; and therefore, my Lord, I can be no more yours than I was, and it must be with the ancient savings.” In April, 1596, the Mastership of the Rolls
- an office having charge of all patents that pass the Great Seal, and of the records of the Chancery Court - became vacant, and Bacon was a candidate for the place. Essex again supported his claims, but with the same result as before,- suspense and final disappointment. This was followed, the next year, by an estrangement between Bacon and Essex. The Earl's rash and impetuous nature was carrying him into dangerous ways, and Bacon's wise counsels and friendly warnings were naturally distasteful to a man so averse to any selfrestraint. In the Spring of 1599, before Essex set out on his expedition to Ireland, Bacon had so far renewed his intercourse with him as to write him several friendly letters of advice, warning him that “merit is worthier than fame," and that “obedience is better than sacritice.” In September following, the Earl suddenly returned from that ill-starred expedition, covered with dishonour, and not free from disloyal and defiant thoughts.
I now come to what is commonly regarded as the darkest passage in Bacon's life. In some respects it is rather dark indeed ; yet the indictment, it seems to me, has sometimes been greatly overcharged, - an error which I would fain avoid. Some years before this time, Bacon had been appointed by the Queen one of her counsel learned in the law. This office he still held, and was of course bound to its duties. The crisis, which he had long foreboded, and had done his utmost to prevent, had now come. In the Spring of 1600 the Queen was for proceeding against Essex by public in
formation. Bacon dissuaded her from this, but not without giving her offence. She finally resolved that the matter should be heard before a commission, and her counsel had their parts assigned them. Bacon begged to be excused, but held himself ready to obey the Queen's commands, thinking that by yielding so far he might be in a better position to serve Essex. At this time he knew nothing of the Earl's treasonable designs, and looked upon the affair as a storm that would soon blow over. Essex was acquitted of disloyalty, but censured for contempt and disobedience. By the Queen's order, Bacon drew up a narrative of what had passed, in which he touched the Earl's faults so tenderly, that the Queen told him “she perceived old love would not easily be forgotten”; and he with great adroitness replied that he hoped she meant that of herself. And in a letter written about this time, he speaks as follows: * For
Lord of Essex, I am not servile to him, having regard to my superior duty. I have been much bound to him. And, on the other side, I have spent more timo and more thoughts about his well-doing than I ever did about mine own.".
Essex was again at large, and had his fate once more in his own hands. But it soon appeared that he was rather emboldened than checked in his fatal career. While he was driving on his plots in secret, the Queen had sources of information which Bacon knew not of. In his ignorance of the whole truth, Bacon still kept up his defence of Essex, till at last the Queen, suppos him to know as much as herself, got so angry at his importunity that she would no longer see him. This was in the Fall of 1600. Early in January, 1601, Bacon was again admitted to the Queen's presence, and spoke his mind to her as follows: "Madam, I see you withdraw your favour from me, and now that I have lost many friends for your sake, I shall lose you too. A great many love me not, because they think I have been against my Lord Essex; and you love me not, because you know I have been for him: yet will I never repent me that I have deali in simplicity of heart towards you both, without respect of cautions to myself.” The Queen was moved by his earnestness, and spoke kindly to him, but said nothing of Essex. Bacon then determined to meddle no more in the matter, and did not see the Queen again till the Earl had put himself beyond the reach of intercession.
Thenceforth Essex seems to have cast off all restraint. Left to his own head, and perhaps to the bad counsels of some who were using him as a tool, he plunged into crime with the recklessness of downright infatuation. Of his doings suffice it to say that they were clearly treasonable, and that nothing less than treason could possibly be made out of them. On the 19th of February he was formally arraigned and brought to trial. Bacon, as one of the Queen's counsel, took the part assigned to him. The defence broke down at all points, and Essex was of course condemned. Bacon spoke twice in the trial; and of his course the worst that can fairly be said appears to be, that the dues of personal gratitude did not withhold him froin pressing the argument against the Earl somewhat more harshly than his duty to the Crown absolutely required. On the one hand, it is allowed that Essex had 66 spent all his power, might, authority, and amity” in Bacon's behalf. On the other hand, Bacon had tried his utmost to serve Essex ; he had stuck by him to the great and manifest peril of himself, and never ceased to plead his cause, till that cause became utterly hopeless. How much a man ought to stake in such a case, or whether he ought to stake his all, is a question not easy to decide; and in such a sharp conflict between personal gratitude and public duty, there will always be differences of opinion.
Much the same is to be said touching the part sustained by Bacon after the execntion. Essex was something of a favourite with the people, and his fate drew forth some marks of popular odium against the Queen. It was deemed necessary to vindicate the action of the government, and to