Page images
PDF
EPUB

the reputation, honour, and name of Heralds, as Æneas Sylvius reporteth out of an old library-book of St. Paul, the author whereof derived their name from Heros ; but others, to whom most incline, from the German word Herald, which signifiethold and ancient master. Yet he which writeth notes upon Willeram saith, that Herald signifieth, faithful to the army;' and I have found, in some Saxon treatise, Heold interpreted Summus Præpositus. Nevertheless, this name is rare, or not found in the history of Charles the Great, nor in the times ensuing for a long space, either by our writers or French writers. The first mention, that I remember of them in England, was about the time of King Edward I. For in the statute of arms or weapons, [it was ordained] that “the Kings of Heralds should wear no armour but their swords, pointless; and that they should only have their Houses des Armes, and no more, which as I conceive are their coats of arms. The name and honour of them was never greater, in this realm, than in the time of King Edward III. ; in whose times there were Kings of Arms, Heralds, and Poursevants by patent, not only peculiar to the King, but to others of the principal nobility: and Froissart writeth, that King Edward H. made a Poursevant of Arms, which brought him speedy tidings of happy success in the battle of Auroye in Britanny, immediately upon the receipt of the news an herald, giving him the name of Windesore;' and at that time were liveries of coats of arms first given unto heralds, with the King's arms embroidered thereon, as the King himself had his robe royal set with lions of gold. In France also, as the said Froissart writeth, the same time Philip

de Valois increased greatly the state royal of France with jousts, tourneys, and heralds. As for the privileges of heralds, I refer you to the treatise thereof purposely written by Paul, Bishop of Burgos in Spain.

430

FRANCIS BACON,*

VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN'S.

(1561-1626.]

FRANCIS BACON, one of the most illustrious of mankind, was the younger son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper in the reign of Elizabeth, and Anne second daughter of Sir Antony Cooke. I

* AUTHORITIES. Rawley's, and Mallet's Lives of Lord Bacon ; Tenison's Baconiana ; Birch's Memoirs of Queen Elizabeth ; and British Biography.

f See the Life of Lord Burghley, in this Volume, p. 183, Note t.

I His mother, a woman of exemplary piety, born in 1528, from her eminent attainments in literature is said to have been appointed Governess to Edward VI. She translated from the Italian into English twenty-five sermons, written by Barn. Ochinus on • The Predestination and Election of God,' which were published about 1550. Her version of Bishop Jewel's invaluable Apology for the Church of England' from the Latin, made for the use of the common people, she sent to that Prelate accompanied by an epistle in Greek, which he answered in the same language. It was praised likewise, in a very delicate stile of compliment, by Archbishop Parker. He returned it to her printed, knowing (as he observed in his letter) that he had thereby done for the best, and in this point used a reasonable policy; that is, to prevent such exeuses as ber modesty would have made in stay of publishing it.'

He was born at York-House, in the Strand, January 22, 1561; and discovered such early indications of extraordinary genius, that the Queen herself, while he was yet but a boy, took a particular delight in trying him with questions; and, from the good sense and manliness of his answers, was wont to call him in mirth, her young Lord Keeper.'

His proficiency in learning was so rapid, that in the twelfth year of his age he was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, under Whitgift (subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury) and had completed his studies there in his sixteenth ;* when his father sent him to Paris, with a recommendation to Sir Amiás Pawlet, at that time English Embassador in France. The confidence of this statesman he so entirely gained, that he was soon afterward entrusted with a secret commission to the Queen, upon the satisfactory execution of which he returned to the Continent to finish his travels.

While abroad, he spent his time, not in learning the vices and follies of foreigners, but in studying their constitutions of government, their manners and

That her literary reputation extended beyond her own country, appears from the circumstance of Beza's dedicating to her his • Meditations. In Birch's Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth' her name frequently occurs, with portions of her correspondence amply justifying her character for learning. The time of her death, and the place of her burial, are equally uncertain.

* Extraordinary as it may appear, he was heard even at that early age to object to the Aristotelian system (then predominant), “ not," as he himself observed to his chaplain and biographer Dr. Rawley, “ for the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ever ascribe all high abilities, but for the unfruitfulness of the way; being a philosophy only for disputations and contentions, but barren in the production of works for the benefit of the life of man.".

customs, and the characters and objects of their princes and ministers; and, in his nineteenth year, he drew up a · Succinct View of the State of Europe,' which is still extant among his works.

During his residence in France, Sir Nicholas died suddenly, without having made for him any separate provision. This obliged him immediately to return home, in order to embrace some respectable employment for his support. With his father's reputation and success before him, it is no wonder that he fixed upon that of the law. He accordingly entered himself of Gray's Inn,* and speedily became so eminent in his profession, that at the age of twenty eight he was appointed by Queen Elizabeth her Counsel Extraordinary.

During the first years however of his residence in this Society, he did not confine his studies entirely to the law, but indulged his excursive genius in a survey of the whole circle of sciences. Here indeed he appears to have formed, if he did not mature, the plan of his great philosophical work. † In 1588, he was appointed Reader at Gray's Inn.

* His residence in this place he found so agreeable, that lie erected there an elegant structure, long known by the name of • Lord Bacon's Lodgings, which he inhabited occasionally throughout the greatest part of his life.

† Whether or not this first plan has descended to us, is unascertained. It might probably be that which Gruter, in his edition of Bacon's Latin Works, has published under the title of Temporis Partus Maximus.' Upon this subject the curious reader may consult Biogr. Brit. Art. Bacon, Note (D.) He appears afterward, however, to have been ashamed of this pompour designation, as'in a letter to Father Fulgentio (a learned Italian) he laments the puerile and vain confidence, which led him to adopt it. Equidem memini me quadraginta abhinc annis juvenile opusculum circa has res confecisse, quod magnâ prorsus fiducid, et mage nifico titulo, Temporis Partum Maximum" inscripsi.

« PreviousContinue »