Cover image for Hostage to fortune : the troubled life of Francis Bacon
Hostage to fortune : the troubled life of Francis Bacon
Jardine, Lisa.
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First American edition.
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New York : Hill and Wang, 1999.
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637 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map, portraits ; 24 cm
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"First published in 1998 by Victor Gollancz, Great Britain"--T.p. verso.
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DA358.B3 J37 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This in-depth biography explores the internal contradictions of and (often self-generated) myths surrounding the 16th-17th century scholar and statesman. It follows Bacon's early political career, which ended in scandal, and his subsequent scientific investigations; discusses his private life, including speculation on homosexual relationships with his servants; and claims that his death was caused by experimentation with opiates. The authors, both British scholars, have drawn on previously untapped archives for their research. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Author Notes

Lisa Jardine was born in Oxford, England on April 12, 1944. She studied mathematics and English at university receiving a MA in the literary theory of translation from the University of Essex and a PhD from the University of Cambridge with a thesis on the scientific genius of Francis Bacon. She taught English at Warburg Institute, the University of Essex, Cornell University, Cambridge University, and Queen Mary and Westfield College.

She wrote several books during her lifetime including Francis Bacon: Discovery and the Art of Discourse, Ingenious Pursuits, Worldly Goods, Global Interests: Renaissance Art Between East and West, and Temptation in the Archives: Essays in Golden Age Dutch Culture. Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory won the $75,000 Cundill International Prize in History in 2009. She received a Royal Society medal for popularizing science and was appointed CBE in 2005 for her contribution and commitment to state education. She died of cancer on October 25, 2015 at the age of 71.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For a writer who championed the powers of science to dispel ignorance and uncover truth, Francis Bacon invested exceptional energy in cloaking his own life in luminous illusions. Thus, the eloquent exponent of rational objectivity repeatedly tailored the truth to advance his own ambitions. And the essayist famed for his celebration of friendship repeatedly turned against his own friends to curry favor with the throne. Now, in a work of exceptional scholarship, Jardine and Stewart penetrate these illusions, exposing the strange contradictions at the heart of Bacon's political and literary careers.The authors' aim is not to brand Bacon as a hypocrite but rather to investigate the unresolved tensions in Bacon's brilliant yet deeply divided mind. Their investigation yields important insights into how Bacon's indulgent (and quite possibly homosexual) relations with his servants helped to alienate him from his wife and to entangle him in graft. But the authors save the most stunning irony for last: the man who breathed new life into modern philosophy through his advocacy of the empirical method apparently died as a result of his own misguided experiments with opiates. --Bryce Christensen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sir Francis Bacon (15611626) was Englands Renaissance man par excellence, and arguably the founder of scientific method, especially induction. His Novum Organum and The Advancement of Learning first articulated the empirical method of inquiry, and his utopian novel, The New Atlantis, continues to be cited in debates on science and politics. In a biography that focuses more on the man than on the work, Jardine (Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance) and Stewart (Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England) present Bacon as an intelligent, energetic bundle of paradoxes. He was a man of power and action who held various positions in government, including Solicitor General and Lord Chancellor. Yet he liked to be regarded as a philosopher and man of letters. At times warm and supportive toward his friends, Bacon willingly betrayed his benefactor, the Earl of Essex, and helped convict him of treason. He described himself as the justest chancellor that hath been, yet he accepted bribes in legal cases, for which he was fined 40,000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Addressing the mysterious disappearance of Bacons body, the authors chalk it up not to any Rosicrucian plot (a favorite contention of conspiracy theorists) but rather to an undertakers need to make room for another coffin. As they chronicle this multifacted life, Jardine and Stewart also give readers a rollicking portrait of the rich and crowded existence of Elizabethan England, a world where high thinking coexisted, often in the same person, with very low deeds. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Jardine (Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, LJ 10/15/96) and Stewart (Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England, Princeton Univ., 1997) provide a scholarly yet engaging biography of Francis Bacon (1561-1626). The youngest son of Queen Elizabeth's Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon, Bacon made impressive contributions to England as a lawyer, statesman, and scientist. Though he failed to gain much influence until King James I ascended the throne, under James he had a significant political career until accusations of corruption were raised against him. In retirement, Bacon turned to writing and scholarship and helped found modern scientific method. Bacon's personal life was clouded by an unhappy and childless marriage and accusations of homosexuality as well as uneasy relations with his powerful Cecil cousins. This unvarnished biography provides readers with a new understanding of this complex character. Highly recommended.ÄSusan A. Stussy, Bourbon Cty., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Much Hoped Imps My father, though I think I had greatest part in his love of all his children; yet in his wisdom served me as a last comer. Francis Bacon to Sir Thomas Egerton (1597) The mould of a man's fortune, is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunae suae' , reiterates Bacon in the essay `Of Fortune'. However, he continues, `it cannot be denied, but outward accidents, conduce much to fortune; favour, opportunity, death of others.' Of all the events in Francis Bacon's colourful career, the one which did most to shape the fortunes of himself and his brother Anthony, the two surviving children of Sir Nicholas Bacon by his second marriage, was their father's sudden and unexpected death in 1579.     In his inexorable rise from son of a Bury abbot's sheep-reeve to Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, Nicholas Bacon has served historians well as a model example of the possibilities of social advancement brought about by the dual innovations of humanistic learning and Reformation land transactions in Tudor England. It might never have been thus if Nicholas had followed the original plan, as legend would have it, of a life in the cloisters. He could, it seems, have managed monastic discomfort, but the tonsure was too much for him: `Being sent to be made a priest and perceiving that his crown must be shaven, rather than he would abide that which he so much misliked, he ran away and after he had hid himself a great while, at the length by an uncle (on the other side) of his that was a rich tailor, he was sent and maintained at the Inns of Court from whence he was admitted to the dignity which after he came into.'     His actual career was a little less wayward, though no less striking. After attending the abbey school in Bury St Edmunds, the thirteen-year-old Nicholas won a Bible scholarship to Bene't College (now Corpus Christi), Cambridge, in 1523, entering Gray's Inn in 1532. This educational process -- church school, Cambridge University and the Inns of Court -- had a profound effect on Bacon. He expressed his commitment to it later in life in a series of educational benefactions, including the refounding of Bury St Edmunds Grammar School (he also drafted the orders for the establishment of the Redgrave and re-establishment of the St Albans grammar schools), the founding of six scholarships and a college chapel at Bene't College, and the donation of 200 books to the Cambridge University Library. In one respect, though, the traditional account is correct: in 1523 Nicholas Bacon matriculated at Cambridge a yeoman's son, but by the time he went on from there to the Inns of Court he considered himself a gentleman.     The name of Nicholas Bacon first appears on a payroll, for the Court of Augmentations, in 1538, at the same time as he began undertaking paragovernmental work, in an advisory role. By the mid-1540s he was part of a distinguished social circle which included Henry VIII's sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, Lord John Russell, William Cecil, the duchess of Suffolk, Roger Ascham, John Cheke and Sir Anthony Cooke -- all intellectuals, heavily influenced by the new humanist learning. This was the circle which shaped the liberal intellectual atmosphere around Henry VIII's two younger children, Edward and Elizabeth, and their influence was later remembered and rewarded. In 1547, Nicholas Bacon took his own next step up the ladder of preferment to become Attorney of the Court of Wards and Liveries.     George Puttenham thought Sir Nicholas `a most eloquent man, and of rare learning and wisdom, as I ever knew England to breed'. `I have come', he wrote, `to the lord keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon and found him sitting in his gallery alone with the works of Quintilian before him.' For Guillaume de Salluste, le sieur Du Bartas, and Thomas Nashe he ranked along-side Sir Thomas More and Sir Philip Sidney as one of the `chief pillars of our English speech'. Ben Jonson (an admirer of both intellectual Bacons, father and son) went further, and compared Sir Nicholas to Cicero: `Cicero is said to be the only wit, that the people of Rome had equalled to their empire. We have had many, and in their several ages (to take in but the former seculum) Sir Thomas More, the elder Wyatt; Henry, Earl of Surrey; Chaloner, Smith, Elyot, Bishop Gardiner, were for their times admirable: and the more, because they began eloquence with us. Sir Nicholas Bacon was singular and almost alone, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's time.'     Nor is this mere flattery of a man in high office. There is evidence that Nicholas Bacon was something of a scholar, though his official duties presumably left him little time to indulge his intellectual leanings (just as would later prove to be the case for his scholarly son). Thomas Digges remembered Sir Nicholas discussing geometrical principles and their applications with his father, the mathematician Leonard Digges: `Calling to memory the conference it pleased your honour to use with him touching the Sciences Mathematical, especially in Geometrical measurements.'     For Nicholas Bacon, the social rise which had begun with his education in the liberal arts and the law was consolidated by marriage. His first wife was a Suffolk merchant's daughter named Jane Fernley, who was to provide him with an important family link to the influential London merchant banker (and financial agent to the Queen) Sir Thomas Gresham, who married her sister Anne. Jane bore him seven children, then died suddenly in late 1552. With six surviving offspring, all under twelve, to be cared for, a second marriage had to be arranged as a matter of urgency: Sir Nicholas took a new wife within weeks. In spite of the speed with which the marriage contract must have been negotiated, it was an equally shrewd move in terms of the bereaved Sir Nicholas' future prospects within the Tudor gentry.     Sir Nicholas' second bride, Anne Cooke, came from the intellectual milieu he took such pleasure in frequenting. The suspicion with which his first wife's family always regarded her suggests the possibility that she had already taken his fancy even before the ailing Jane died. Anne was one of the five daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, widely esteemed from their youth for their erudition and piety. According to Thomas Fuller, `they were all most eminent scholars, the honour of their own, the shame of our sex.' The scholar Walter Haddon eulogised the Cooke household at Gidea Hall in an oration to the University of Cambridge: `And what a house did I find there, yea, rather a small university, in truth while staying there I seemed to be living in a Tusculan villa, except only that in this Tusculum, the industry of the females was in full vigour.'     Sir Anthony, a man of great cultivation, had been chosen as tutor to Henry VIII's son Prince Edward, soon to become King Edward VI, to which post he owed his subsequent power and position at court (a position he forfeited for the period of Mary Tudor's reign). Like Sir Thomas More, Sir Anthony took great pride in the education he secured for his daughters, considering their success a reflection on his own intellectual standing. The girls' education was designed, in true humanist fashion, to enhance their virtuous image with decorative intellectual accomplishments, rather than to supply them with skills useful for public affairs or business. It therefore centred on Greek rather than Latin, and above all on New Testament Greek, and the Greek church fathers. We still have translations from the Greek by Mildred of St Basil's sermon on Deuteronomy 15, and Elizabeth's translation from the Latin of John Ponet's Diallacticon . Sir Henry Chauncey maintained that Anne was `exquisitely skilled in the Greek, Latin and Italian tongues'. The more practical aptitudes of Cooke's four sons paled into insignificance by comparison.     Each Cooke daughter made an outstandingly successful match with a man who would turn out to be a leading figure in the Elizabethan establishment. Margaret married the London goldsmith Sir Ralph Rowlett, but died after only five weeks of marriage in August 1558; Elizabeth married first Sir Thomas Hoby, best remembered for his translation of Castiglione's Book of the Courtier , and then Lord John Russell, son of Francis, earl of Bedford; Katharine married the diplomat Sir Henry Killigrew. Most significantly, Anne's sister Mildred became the second wife of William Cecil, who was later appointed Elizabeth's Principal Secretary of State as Lord Burghley.     Although these men represent a roll-call of the good and great of Elizabeth's reign, it could be argued that at the time of their marriages the Cooke sisters were the more prominent figures, able to exert considerable influence in the matter of their husbands' careers. As women, they had the advantage over their menfolk that their political and religious beliefs were either invisible or at least tended to be treated as harmlessly private. Through their father's position they had grown up in the same milieu as the royal children, and retained emotional ties to them, even when their husbands risked imprisonment or exile for doctrinal dissidence. Throughout the reign of the Catholic Mary Tudor, the influence the Cooke women could wield was critical for the safety of their immediate families. In spite of her own devout Protestantism (presumably for the time being concealed), Anne Bacon was one of Mary Tudor's intimate inner circle of ladies. When her brother-in-law William Cecil, the future Lord Burghley, fell out of favour with the Queen over his apparent allegiance to John Dudley, duke of Northumberland (who supported Lady Jane Grey's rival bid for the throne), it was Anne Bacon who obtained a pardon for him.     On Elizabeth's accession in 1558, when Charles V's ambassador Count de Feria reported the key appointments the new Queen had made, he attributed Nicholas Bacon's rise to Anne's position and connections: `They have given the seals to guard to Mr. Bacon who is married to a sister of the wife of secretary Cecil, a tiresome prude, who belonged to the Bedchamber of the late Queen who is in heaven. He is a man who is not worth much.' The insult of `prude' mocks Lady Anne's learning and piety, but the form of the report shows that she was the better-known of the couple to an informed foreign observer in 1558.     Formidable she may have appeared to outsiders, but there is no doubt as to the fondness of Sir Nicholas for his second wife. An affectionate poem he wrote for her in the last year of Mary's reign (1557-8) survives, `made at Wimbledon in his Lordship's great sickness'. It suggests that Sir Nicholas was fully aware how much his well-being depended upon his supportive and talented wife: Calling to mind my wife most dear How oft you have in sorrows sad With words full wise and pleasant cheer My drooping looks turned into glad, How oft you have my moods too bad Borne patiently with a mild mind, Assuaging them with words right kind. * * * Thinking also with how good will The idle times which irksome be You have made short through your good skill In reading pleasant things to me, Whereof profit we both did see, As witness can if they could speak Both your Tully and my Seneck [Cicero and Seneca]. * * * Calling to mind these your kind deeds And herewithal wishing there might Such fruit spring out of these your sides As you might reap store due of right Strait want of power appeared in sight Affirming that I sought in vain Just recompense for so great gain. * * * Then reason to my comfort said That want of power will should supply, If endeavour gave his whole aid To think and thank right heartily, And said she knows as well as I That ultra posse non est esse [it would be impossible to do more], To do your best therefore address ye. * * * In doing this I had respect As reason would to your delight, And knowing that it doth reject Such things as in most women's sight Though vain indeed seems most of might, Therefore for you I could not find A more deep thing than fruits of mind.     When Nicholas wrote these words, the fruitful intellectual friendship -- the companionate marriage -- between Nicholas and Anne, on which contemporaries commented, was not matched in success by flesh-and-blood children. Nicholas' poem was probably offered to his wife as comfort for the death that summer of the second of their baby daughters. Nicholas felt he was failing his wife in furnishing her with `fruits of mind' but not fruits of the body; perhaps he felt his sexual powers to be waning. Their first son, Anthony, was not born until 1558, when Nicholas and Anne Bacon had been married for five years. By this time, Nicholas was Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and the family was installed in the traditional residence of the Lord Keepers of England (leased from the Archbishop of York), York House on the Strand -- on the site that is today to the immediate east of Charing Cross Station. It was here, on the direct route between the City and Westminster, a stone's throw from Whitehall, that Francis Bacon was born on 22 January 1561, and in the local church of St Martin-in-the-Fields that he was baptised.     The Bacon boys did not grow up in the city, however, but in the Hertfordshire countryside: for Sir Nicholas had capitalised once again on the considerable potential which the Cooke sisters' links by birth and marriage offered and acquired a country estate. He took advantage of the marriage negotiations under way between the Cooke family and the wealthy Sir Ralph Rowlett, who was to become the husband of Anne's sister Margaret, and negotiated the purchase from him of the manor of Gorhambury, near St Albans, in January 1557. Francis spent most of his childhood at Gorhambury, in the new house Sir Nicholas built between 1563 and 1568 to replace the antique pile already on site, and it was here that he and his brother Anthony developed a closeness which lasted until Anthony's death in 1601. Indeed, throughout Francis Bacon's life, Gorhambury remained its emotional centre. After his father's death it was his mother's home, to which he returned, more or less reluctantly, when summoned or to escape pressure upon him in London. Formally, its ownership passed to him when Anthony died, but since his mother had taken up permanent residence there, it effectively became his only on her death in 1610.     Sir Nicholas designed the house to reflect his intellectual pursuits: Gorhambury was an exercise in self-conscious classicising, both architecturally and in the literary allusions strewn through the house's decoration. He chose the family motto, mediocria firma (moderate things endure), from a chorus in the Latin author Seneca's Oedipus . There was an italianate loggia, and a long pillared gallery in which each column was decorated with an erudite apophthegm out of the collection Sir Nicholas had made from classical texts. A magnificent painted, many-paned glass window survives today, reputedly part of the refurbishments undertaken in anticipation of Queen Elizabeth's visit during her progress of May 1577. Each pane of coloured glass represents an exotic fruit, a plant, bird or animal, including early representations of novelties from the new world -- the tobacco plant, and a turkey. John Aubrey saw the painted windows in one of the galleries, `and every pane with several figures of beast, bird or flower: perhaps his lordship might use them as topiques for local memory.' (In other words, Bacon may have used the sequence of pictures as mnemonics when preparing a speech to deliver extempore, each paragraph recalled by the appropriate pane of glass pictured in his mind's eye.) * * * Nicholas Bacon's two families belonged to two separate generations. By the time Anthony was born his father was already well advanced in making financial settlements for the children of his first marriage. With the birth of Anne's children he had to begin the task of making suitable provision for his heirs all over again. Crucially, he had not completed the land purchases which would provide secure revenues for Francis when he died. Deprived of a secure income in the form of revenues from estates, Francis was obliged to combine the lifestyle and public image of the old Lord Keeper's son with the money-raising strategies of the newly established, or insufficiently endowed, from London's commercial classes. He was in any case inclined to extravagant living, and (according to his mother) over-generous with his friends and servants. Until well into middle age, the greatest day-to-day pressure on Francis Bacon was how he would find the funds to pay his household bills.     Land and family homes were the securities against which prominent figures in public life in sixteenth-century England borrowed the cash resources to finance the ostentatious lifestyles expected of them. As first-generation gentry, Sir Nicholas Bacon could not himself lay claim to the extensive land holdings of those whose pedigree ran back through several generations. On the other hand, unlike most of the gentry and nobility, Sir Nicholas was the recipient of considerable cash sums as part of the accepted Elizabethan process of doing business. Fees, receipts for services of all kinds, stipends, levies, retainers and straightforward backhanders made him, in the course of a successful career in public office, a very rich man. These were the resources which Sir Nicholas deployed to provide his heirs with the kind of properties and estates which would ensure the lasting reputation -- the dynastic endurance -- of the Bacon line.     Sir Nicholas Bacon planned the futures of his sons and daughters meticulously. Having risen to become the holder of an office that generated vast sums in profits -- estimated at about £2,600 in 1560 and rising to something over £4,000 per annum before his death in 1579 -- the Lord Keeper systematically purchased lands which were entailed on his five surviving sons, to maximise the likelihood of their acquiring wealthy, though not necessarily titled, brides. At the age of nineteen, the eldest son, also named Nicholas, was part of an entail arrangement that gave him a life interest in seven manors, including Sir Nicholas' own first home and his eventual one, Redgrave Hall. Two years later Anne Butts, heiress to two estates, was selected as his wife. The marriage negotiations, which had to take into account six principal parties and three major estates, and included the heavy compensation of Anne's uncles, were complex and the arrangements thus constructed as near as possible to foolproof: it was put on record that, should Nicholas unfortunately die before the settlement was complete, his brother Nathaniel would be substituted as bridegroom. After all the Lord Keeper's planning and negotiations, Nicholas was provided with an estate worth almost £1,000 a year, positioning him securely as one of the leading gentlemen of Suffolk.     Nathaniel, three years younger than Nicholas, was destined to lead Norfolk society from his estate at Stiffkey. His wife was another Anne, the young illegitimate daughter of Sir Nicholas' brother-in-law Sir Thomas Gresham. Acknowledged from birth by her father, she too brought a considerable fortune to her marriage. Building out from Stiffkey, Nathaniel's estate soon included four Suffolk manors settled on the couple by Gresham and two Norfolk manors bought up by his father. The Bacon daughters, too, were well set up. The eldest, Elizabeth, married the courtier Sir Robert Doyly; Ann married Henry Woodhouse of Wraxham, son of a prominent Norfolk family; and the youngest (confusingly also named Elizabeth) married the recorder of Norwich, Sir Francis Wyndham, who later became a Judge of Common Pleas. Each had a substantial marriage portion (£800 in the case of the elder Elizabeth; one thousand marks each for the two younger sisters).     And so Sir Nicholas' endeavours continued, with lands being bought and settled on his third and fourth sons, Edward and Anthony, and marriage arrangements sought for them. In the event, neither of the proposed matches -- Edward's with a daughter of Sir Harry Gates, and Anthony's with one Dowsabell Paget -- came to fruition, but Edward was left with significant holdings in Suffolk and London, and Anthony had various Hertfordshire lands worth some £360 a year. With the four eldest boys settled, and his three daughters profitably married, Sir Nicholas set about saving for the future of his fifth and last son, Francis. Undoubtedly, if everything had gone to plan, Francis Bacon would have had sufficient lands to live off for the rest of his life. But Sir Nicholas Bacon died unexpectedly before those lands had been acquired; and the £2,500 in cash which remained uninvested at his death was inevitably consumed in paying his small cash legacies and reimbursing his debtors.     Sir Nicholas was not mistaken in believing that in economically unstable times a shrewdly planned marriage could provide an aspiring public figure with a more secure financial basis than other kinds of more obviously commercial investment. It was a model to which Francis himself was to return in middle life when, faced with the failure of his repeated bids for advancement in the public sphere, he selected himself a rich City heiress as his bride. * * * Lady Bacon's unannounced appearance in the court quarters of her nephew Sir Robert Cecil in 1594 typifies the ease with which she could gain access to those more powerfully placed than her own immediate family. The marriages of the Cooke sisters gave rise to an extensive network of connections and influence upon which their families could build lasting dynastic power. Thomas Twyne, dedicating a book to the Bacons in 1575, wrote that in marrying Anne Cooke Sir Nicholas Bacon was `beautified with a loving lady, the offspring of an excellent race, niece to a rightworshipful grandsire, daughter to a worthy knight, scholar to a learned schoolmaster, sister to a right honourable lady, mother of much hoped imps, aunt to a peerless countess, wife to a noble counsellor, lady of a godly family, subject to a loving prince, a true worshipper of Almighty God'. Anne Cooke's most significant and enduring contribution to the fortunes of her two sons, however, came not from her family connections, nor from her humanistic erudition, but from her deeply Protestant religious convictions. Her father Sir Anthony, a well-known Protestant figure, was one of the Marian exiles who, faced with the prospect of a Catholic queen on the throne, went into voluntary banishment in 1554. Well before she married Nicholas Bacon, Anne had translated into English and published sermons by the Siennese preacher Bernardino Ochino, dealing with predestination and the joys of the elect in their sense of enfolding divine love. Ochino, `that sanctified Barnardine' as Anne dubbed him, enthralled Italian-speaking audiences in London when he was welcomed into Lambeth Palace during the reign of Edward VI. In Francis' infancy she translated John Jewel's Apology in Defence of the Church of England , one of the key books in the attempt to establish the Anglican church during the early Elizabethan years. Nor was Anne Bacon merely a dutiful translator. Her own clear-headed command of Protestant doctrine is audible in her versions of the often turgid originals, and the prefatory letter to the Jewel Apology contributed by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, commends her personal commitment.     Throughout her marriage, and after her husband's death, Anne Bacon filled their house at Gorhambury and the neighbouring parishes with a succession of preachers with strong Puritan leanings: the Bacon household chaplains included Thomas Fowle and Robert Johnson, who were both deprived of the licence to preach on account of their Nonconformity. Whereas Sir Nicholas consistently represented his faith as orthodox Anglicanism, pursuing the `middle way' of the moderate reformed church just as he advocated mediocria firma in every walk of life, Lady Bacon was noted for her unconventional, not to say unorthodox conduct in matters religious: on several occasions she publicly attended sermons by Nonconformist radical preachers, and she laid out considerable sums of money to support individuals whose beliefs were patently not aligned with Church of England doctrine.     Nevertheless, for public purposes Lady Bacon's religious convictions were on the whole firmly subordinated to those of her husband. When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, turned to Anne Bacon to sort out a quarrel that had arisen between himself and the Lord Keeper, he saw her as `alter ipse' : another himself, another Nicholas Bacon. But even before her husband's death, there are hints that her acquiescence was from time to time less than totally assured. In 1572, Anne united with her sisters to work on a set of verses as part of a campaign to help the preacher Edward Dering, who had insulted the Queen in a sermon two years earlier and subsequently lost his licence to preach. Her contribution is obscured, however, by her husband's subsequent prosecution of Dering in the Star Chamber.     It was the independent-spirited Lady Bacon who saw to the early education of her two sons, selecting, hiring and supervising their tutors. Consequently, both Anthony and Francis were given a solid grounding in the severer sort of radical Protestantism. Their earliest home tutor (probably from June 1566 to 1569) was a scholar from Christ Church, Oxford, named John Walsall, who later recalled to Lady Bacon how, in the course of her and her husband's `demeaning yourselves in the education of your children', he was `called from the university to teach your two sons' and then `called from teaching of children, to instruct men' in a series of livings provided by the Lord Keeper. He recalled Anthony and Francis as `such children, as for the true fear of God, zealous affection to His word, obedience to their parents, reverence to their superiors, humility to their inferiors, love to their instructor, I never knew any excel them.'     The importance for both sons in later life of a godly education, closely supervised by a devout, scholarly mother of the intellectual calibre of Anne Bacon, was considerable. Her competence as a spiritual and an intellectual guide was also clearly understood by contemporaries -- not least because her own two sons were manifestly better disciplined and educated than their elder half-brothers, of whom Anne had not had the educational charge. In the summer of 1569, as noted above, Nathaniel Bacon married Anne, the illegitimate daughter of Sir Thomas Gresham by a Mistress Dutton, one of his household servants who had been married off by her master to Thomas Dutton, a factor employed by Gresham in Antwerp and Hamburg. Anne's education naturally left much to be desired, and as the bride of Sir Nicholas' son she had to be turned into a lady at speed. Nathaniel knew exactly how this was to be done. Immediately after the marriage he arranged for her to join his much younger half-brothers in the schoolroom at Gorhambury.     Sir Thomas Gresham's wife Anne was not entirely comfortable to see Anne Dutton-Gresham under Lady Bacon's roof. Nathaniel wrote first to one of Sir Thomas' servants, asking him to put the case to his parents-in-law: `I require no great time for my wife to be with my Lady [Lady Bacon], half a year or a quarter, more or less as my father[-in-law] shall appoint the time certain, and within that space if upon any occasion he shall mislike of her usage, I will undertake it shall be so.' To Lady Gresham herself he wrote reassuring her that the cost at least would be met elsewhere: `In my talk had with your Ladyship I perceived you were not minded, if my wife were placed here, to be at any charge with her. I shall undertake that shall be so rather than any let [hindrance] shall thereby grow; only I require that you and my father[-in-law] will show a good liking of her coming hither, for otherwise I know my Lady [Lady Bacon] will not have her.'     Some years later Nathaniel recalled the circumstances, and acknowledged his debt to his stepmother: Your ladyship knoweth how, being matched in marriage as I am, it stood me upon to have some care of the well bringing up of my wife, for these words of Erasmus are very true: plus est bene instrui quam bene nasci [it is better to have been well instructed than well born]. If she should have had the want of both, I had just cause to fear what might befall. Hereupon, being not able to remedy the one, I did as much as in me lay to provide for the other, and therefore I sought by all the means I could to have her placed with your ladyship. This is it for which I think myself so greatly beholding to your ladyship, in that you were content to trouble yourself with having my wife, and not that alone, but during her being with you to have such care over her and better to use her than I myself could have wished. Yea, I often said, and yet say, a more strait manner of usage would have wrought a greater good. Yet such was your ladyship's goodwill, which I will not live to be unmindful of: for the care had of her, I account it had of me; the good done to her, I account it done to me, for I persuade myself it was done in respect of me. Anne Gresham Bacon herself was fulsome in her acknowledgement of the pains Lady Bacon had taken with her, and retained fond memories of those shared lessons, sending warm wishes, when she wrote to her mother-in-law, `to my brother Anthony and my good brother Frank'.     Such understanding between Nathaniel Bacon and his stepmother was exceptional; on the whole, neither her inevitable interference in his inheritance prospects nor her sharp tongue endeared her to him. He admitted to Lady Gresham that she might well `marvel how it falleth out I have this great liking of my lady'. The reason for his approval in this case was directly linked to Lady Bacon's seriousness, godly discipline and piety: like her, Nathaniel was a zealous Puritan who actively sought out godly preachers to fill the rectory at Stiffkey. `In this respect I have ever liked of [Lady Bacon], though in other things, as cause moveth me, it may be I have as great misliking of her.'     We may surmise that Anne Gresham Bacon absorbed the same low church piety as Anthony and Francis. When her first child was born in 1573, she asked Lady Bacon to be the godmother. In family terms this was not at all a straightforward matter. Lady Gresham, Anne's mother in name if not in reality, was the sister of Sir Nicholas Bacon's first wife, Nathaniel's mother, and there had always been a certain amount of coldness between the families of the two wives on account of Sir Nicholas' overswift remarriage. But Anne Gresham Bacon placed the godly upbringing of her first-born above family squabbles. * * * Nicholas, Nathaniel and Edward Bacon, Sir Nicholas' sons by his first marriage, showed little inclination towards learning (though Nathaniel was good with figures). Nicholas and Nathaniel attended Trinity College, Cambridge, briefly in 1561, but were withdrawn before they had been there a year; Edward lasted a little longer. Anne Bacon's two sickly boys, by contrast, were studious and serious.     In April 1573, at the age of fourteen, Anthony Bacon was sent in his turn to Trinity. Edward Tyrrell, one of Sir Nicholas' wards, who later married a Bacon cousin, went with him. Anthony's brother Francis went too, although he was barely twelve -- under the customary age for boys other than choristers to join the university community. But the two brothers had always been very close, and their father thought that they would provide each other with suitable companionship. They would, in any case, be well cared for away from home: their father entrusted them to the personal safe keeping of the Master of Trinity, John Whitgift, later to be Archbishop of Canterbury.     Although Anthony and Francis notionally spent almost three years at the university, their period of residence was twice interrupted when plague broke out in the Cambridge area. The university was shut between August 1574 and March 1575, and the boys left Cambridge again in August 1575 -- in which month their half-brother Edward wrote to Nathaniel Bacon: `My brothers of Cambridge the next week come to Redgrave and there remain; the plague is about Royston and Cambridge.' Accounts for their keep at Cambridge do not begin again until the following October.     The boys were lodged in John Whitgift's own quarters, and he took care of their domestic arrangements, as well as supervising their studies. Sir Nicholas met all their expenses, paying over the money directly to Whitgift, who kept careful accounts of everything he spent. Compared to the austerity of college life for the ordinary student at Trinity, the Master's noble charges were housed and cared for in considerable comfort. However, Whitgift oversaw the day-to-day activities of his elite pupils and the college scholars together, and applied the same rigour to all: `He held [them] to their public disputations, and exercises, and prayers which he never missed, chiefly for devotion, and withall to observe others absence, always severely punishing such omissions and negligences. He usually dined and supped in the common Hall, as well to have a watchful eye over the scholars, and to keep them in a mannerly and awful obedience, as by his example, to teach them to be contented with a scholler-like college diet.' (In the case of the Bacon boys, though, Whitgift supplemented the meagre college fare with boiled mutton and other items -- the excuse for such indulgence being the poor state of their health.)     When Anthony and Francis arrived, Whitgift purchased books for the boys' studies: Livy's History of Rome , Caesar's Commentaries , the Orations of the Greek writer Demosthenes, Homer's Iliad and the classical rhetoric handbook Ad Herennium (believed then to be by Cicero). Later he bought them Aristotle and Plato, Cicero's Complete Works and a commentary on his Orations , Sallust's Roman History , Hermogenes and Xenophon in a facing-page Greek and Latin edition. There were also Greek grammars, and a Latin bible. More standard textbooks were probably provided in-house, or borrowed. Whitgift usually used two elementary logic textbooks, by Seton and Caesarius, with his pupils.     In his `Life of Bacon', William Rawley, Francis' chaplain, claimed that while at Cambridge Bacon `first fell into the dislike of the philosophy of Aristotle; not for the worthlessness of the author, but for the unfruitfulness of the way [method]; being a philosophy (as his lordship used to say) only strong for disputations and contentions, but barren of the production of works for the benefit of the life of man.' This suggestion of precocious philosophical insight ought perhaps to be taken with a pinch of salt. It is possible that Aristotle's stranglehold over the traditional curriculum came as a shock to an intelligent thirteen-year-old who in his classroom at home had been tutored by `ordinary language' religious teachers from the reformed movement, and trained in humanist pedagogic methods grounded largely in Roman forensic techniques of argumentation; however, it is more likely that Bacon's hostility to the Aristotelians dates from his maturity and was superimposed on memories of those early years at Trinity.     As the architect of the new, humanistically oriented statutes for Trinity College, Whitgift was well qualified to offer a basic liberal arts education in Greek and Latin eloquence of the kind Sir Nicholas Bacon wanted for his two boys. The effectiveness of that early grounding may be detected in Francis Bacon's lifelong eloquence -- in speech and writing -- as well as in his easy reference to the major literary and historical works of Greece and Rome. The books Whitgift bought for his young charges suggest an education perfectly in line with Francis' and Anthony's anticipated futures as well-placed gentlemen of means, taking an active part in public affairs, though not necessarily as `men of business' -- cultivated patricians, rather than men employed to serve the state. At the end of his life, when Francis Bacon self-consciously fashioned an image of himself as the man of letters, retired from the hurly-burly of politics to a contemplative life in the country, he took as his models the authors who had shaped his outlook in these early years, Cicero and Demosthenes, along with the stoic philosophical writer Seneca.     Most of Whitgift's purchases for Francis and Anthony Bacon, however, were not scholarly at all. There were endless pairs of shoes and slippers, which they seemed to get through at a great rate; there were garters, silk points for doublets, dye for Francis' stockings, hats and linings for hats, and sums laid out for alterations to doublets and hose, as well as their mending and laundering. The Bacon brothers clearly developed their love of elegant dress early on in life. (After his marriage, when Francis finally had enough money to indulge his tastes, his extravagance and ostentation in matters of dress frequently occasioned comment.) There were lute strings, bows, quivers, arrows and shooting gloves for the boys' recreations; and there were household goods to make the boys' lodgings more comfortable -- several desks, chairs, wall-hangings and maps, candlesticks and candles, and glass for windows (glazed windows were a considerable luxury in the 1570s). For the Bacon brothers the two years or so they spent in Cambridge took the form of a gentlemanly grooming, rather than an in-depth training in any particular discipline.     A good deal of money was paid out on account of one or other of the boys falling sick -- so much, indeed, that Whitgift more than once overspent the funds he had been given, and had to ask Sir Nicholas for more. The pattern of recurrent illness which dogged both Anthony and Francis throughout their lives is already well established in their teens -- as was the practice of taking addictive remedies (including mild opiates). Anthony's poor health in particular necessitated expensive purchases like large quantities of coal during the summer months -- thirty shillings' worth on two separate occasions, out of a total budget of twenty-odd pounds for the period. Right at the end of Anthony's life, when he was as usual deeply in debt, his mother Lady Anne Bacon paid equivalent sums to send coal in summertime to Essex House, where Anthony was in residence.     Francis' first extant letter dates from the Trinity years, written `to my very loving brother Mr Nicholas Bacon at Redgrave' in a fairly neat secretary hand. After my hearty commendations unto you and to my sister. Sir sith [since] it is so that you have promised my cousin Sharpe a buck [a deer] against [for] this Commencement [graduation], and the time draweth so near; I have to desire you because he now hath sent for it, and he must needs be at great charges if the messenger tarry there upon his own cost, that you will so use the messenger that he be at no cost either for lodging or meat and drink while he is with you. Besides this, if you will show my cousin at my request so much courtesy that he may pay the keeper no fees for the same buck, ye shall both pleasure him and me very much. Thus desiring you to do this for me I leave you to the tuition of God. At Cambridge this third day of July. 1574. Your loving brother Francis Bacon My brother had written unto you if by reason of sore eyes he had not tarried at London. This letter charmingly confirms the impression that the thirteen-year-old Bacon had his mind somewhat more on the lifestyle of a young gentleman than on logic or Greek grammar. It also shows that even during the periods when the boys were technically resident in Cambridge, they often travelled back to London for health or other reasons. On this occasion the excuse is the state of Anthony's eyes (he had suffered from some damaging condition shortly before leaving home for university). Whitgift's accounts also include sums for the hire and maintenance of horses for a seven-day visit to the family home at Redgrave. * * * Whenever Francis later recalled his time at Cambridge it was as a period entirely detached from the worlds of politics, business or commerce. His lifelong dream of a new philosophy, a scala intellectualis or method of intellectual ascent, whereby a man might pass from fundamental cerebral principles to an understanding of the entire world system, was similarly theoretical and `pure'. Yet until its very end Francis Bacon's own life was deeply immersed in politics, in business affairs, and in the commercial, practical world of Tudor and Stuart London.     Just as Bacon chose to `forget' how closely involved the earl of Essex had been in his early formation as a philosopher, natural scientist and intellectual, so he chose to `forget' his robust links with the busy technological and commercial world in which he grew up. This may have been because here again the early promises of wealth and success failed to materialise. Sir Nicholas Bacon expected to get more out of the marriage link to the Greshams than simply the settlement in the marriage contract. Sir Thomas Gresham became Francis' father's close colleague. At the time of his father's death, Francis Bacon was away in France, and unable to follow his father's coffin in the great pomp and ceremony of Sir Nicholas' sumptuous funeral -- a funeral worthy in its magnificence of Elizabeth's Lord Keeper. His father's old friend Sir Thomas Gresham, however, was present. Amid what has been described as the `recklessly' expensive finery specified in Sir Nicholas' will, Gresham walked behind the coffin with Bacon's sons and his three sons-in-law, the Master of the Rolls, the Attorney-General, the Solicitor-General and the Master of the Queen's Jewel House. Each of them had received six yards of top-quality black cloth, at 26s 8d a yard, for their funeral finery. They were preceded only by the Lord Treasurer (who was principal mourner, in twelve yards of blacks at 30s a yard), the earls of Leicester and Huntingdon (the same), and Mr Secretary Walsingham (eight yards of blacks).     But when Gresham himself died six months later, it transpired that he had carefully tied up his entire estate, in order to keep it out of the hands of his wife's sons by her first marriage. At the time of his death his daughter Anne had produced three daughters from her marriage to Nathaniel Bacon, so that Sir Thomas was without a male heir in the first and second generations. The bequest of Gresham's entire estate to found Gresham College -- a bequest finally realised only on the death of Lady Gresham, and after she had officially contested the will in the courts -- also put paid to the inheritance expectations of the Bacon family. Copyright © 1998 Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. 5
A Note on Datingp. 6
Preface to the American Editionp. 7
Introduction: A Life of Virtue and Mischiefp. 11
Part I The Bold Birth of Opportunity: 1561-1588
1 Much Hoped Impsp. 23
2 A Protestant Abroadp. 39
3 Neither Well Left nor Well Friendedp. 67
4 Strange Bedfellows: Consorting with Catholicsp. 94
Part II The Courtship of Favour: 1588-1603
5 Design Dissembled: Brotherly Lovep. 121
6 A Tired Sea-sick Suitor: The Trials of Prefermentp. 146
7 Getting Nowhere: The Armour of Patience Pressedp. 178
8 Losing Ground: Matter of Charge and Accusationp. 209
9 Flying with Waxen Wings: The Final Fall of Essexp. 233
Part III A Precarious Power: 1603-1621
10 Dawn of the Deserving Worldp. 265
11 No Stage-friends: Making Connectionsp. 299
12 Being Politic: The King's Businessp. 332
13 Exchanging Favours: Somerset to Villiersp. 355
14 Much Ado, and a Great Deal of Worldp. 388
15 A New Course of Thriving: Lord Chancellor Baconp. 416
16 Franciscan Martyr: Bribery, Buggery and the Fall of Francis Baconp. 444
Part IV Inventing Posterity: 1621-1626
17 Leisure without Loitering: Bacon's Quinquenniump. 473
18 Debt, Drugs and Bodysnatching: Bacon's Legacyp. 502
Notesp. 525
Bibliographyp. 594
Indexp. 619