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means, through mine own improvidence, are poor and weak, little better than my father left me. The poor things, which I have had from your Majesty, are either in question, or at courtesy. My dignities remain marks of your past favour, but yet burthens withal of my present fortune. The poor remnants which I had of my former fortunes, in plate or jewels, I have spread upon poor men, unto whom I owed, scarce leaving myself bread. So as, to conclude, I must pour out my misery before your Majesty, so far as to say; Si deseris tu, perimus.
But as I can offer to your Majesty's compassion little arising from myself to move you, except it be my extreme misery, which I have truly laid open; so looking up to your Majesty yourself, I should think I committed Cain's fault, if I should despair. Your Majesty is a King, whose heart is as inscrutable for secret motions of goodness, as for depth of wisdom. You are, Creator-like, factive, and not destructive: you are a prince, in whom I have ever noted an aversion against any thing that savoured of a hard heart: as, on the other side, your princely eye was wont to meet with any motion that was made on the relieving part. Therefore, as one that hath had the happiness to know your Majesty near hand, I have (most gracious Sovereign) faith enough for a miracle, much more for a grace that your Majesty will not suffer your poor creature to be utterly defaced, nor blot that name quite out of your book, upon which your sacred hand hath been so oft for new ornaments and additions. Unto this degree of compassion, I hope, God above (of whose mercy toward me, both in my prosperity and adversity, I have had great testimonies and pledges, though
mine own manifold and wretched unthankfulness might have averted them) will dispose your princely heart, already prepared to all piety. And why should I not think, but that thrice noble prince, who would have pulled me out of the fire of a sentence, will help to pull me (if I may use that homely phrase) out of the mire of an abject and sordid condition in my last days? And that excellent favourite of yours (the goodness of whose nature contendeth with the greatness of his fortune, and who counteth it a prize, a second prize to be a good friend, after that prize which he carrieth to be a good servant) will kiss your hands with joy, for any work of piety you shall do for me? And as all commiserating persons (specially such, as find their hearts void of malice) are apt to think, that all men pity them, I assure myself that the Lords of the Council (who, out of their wisdom and nobleness, cannot but be sensible of human events) will, in this way which I go for the relief of my estate, further and advance your Majesty's goodness toward me. For there is a kind of fraternity between great men that are, and those that have been, being but the several tenses of one verb. Nay, I do farther presume, that both Houses of Parliament will love their justice the better, if it end not in my ruin. For I have been often told by many of my Lords (as it were, in excusing the severity of the sentence) that they knew, they left me in good hands.' And your Majesty knoweth well, I have been all my life long acceptable to those assemblies, not by flattery but by moderation, and by honest expressing of a desire to have all things go fairly and well.
But (if it may please your Majesty) for Saints, I shall give them reverence, but no adoration.
address is to your Majesty, the fountain of goodness: your Majesty shall, by the grace of God, not feel that in gift, which I shall extremely feel in help: for my desires are moderate, and my courses measured to a life orderly and reserved; hoping still to do your Majesty honour in my way. Only I most humbly beseech your Majesty to give me leave to conclude with those words, which necessity speaketh: Help me, dear Sovereign Lord and Master; and pity me so far, as I, that have borne a bag, be not now in my age forced in effect to bear a wallet; nor I, that desire to live to study, may not be driven to study to live. I most humbly crave pardon of a long letter, after a long silence. God of heaven ever bless, preserve, and prosper your Majesty!
Your Majesty's poor ancient Servant and Beadsman,
FR. ST. ALBAN.
He appears indeed, in some measure, to have regained his Sovereign's favour, and on the prorogation of parliament was consulted as to the proper methods of reforming the Courts of Justice, and taking away other public grievances, upon which he drew up a memorial still extant in his works. By additional marks, likewise, of royal indulgence he was so much soothed, amidst the anguish of a wounded character, that he resumed his studies with his accustomed ardor; * and, in the spring of 1622, published
"In his humiliated state," says Dr. Aikin," he found some comfort in comparing his condition with that of three great men of antiquity-Demosthenes, Cicero, and Seneca-all of whom, after occupying high stations in their respective countries, had fallen into deliquency and been banished into retirement, where VOL. II. 2 H
his History of Henry VII. On the meeting of the new parliament, also, he drew up Considerations of a War with Spain;' and furnished Heads of a Speech' for his friend Sir Edward Sackville upon the same subject. These services were so well received, that upon an application to his Majesty for a full remission of his sentence, he easily obtained it.* In
they consoled themselves with letters and philosophy. These examples (as he himself declares) confirmed him in the resolution, to which he was otherwise inclined, of devoting the remainder of his time wholly to writing: and he might have adopted the language, in which Cicero addresses philosophy; Ad te confugimus, à te opem petimus, tibi nos, ut anteà magná ex parte, sic nunc penitùs totosque tradimus."
That with so many grounds of mortification, external and internal, he should have been led occasionally to practise the virtue of humility, cannot excite surprise. It was a noble reply, which he made to the French embassador, on being compared by him for his Essays to an angel; "If the politeness of others compare me to an angel, my own infirmities remind me that I am a man."
His love of science was not less strikingly marked by the calmness, with which he received from one of his friends an account of the failure of an application made by him for an important favour to court. "Be it so," said he; then turning to his chaplain, to whom he was at that moment dictating a statement of some experiments in natural philosophy, he added "if that business will not succeed, let us go on with this, which is in our power;" and continued the subject without any hesitation of speech, or apparent alienation of thought.
* In the warrant directed for that purpose to the AttorneyGeneral, his Majesty observed, that his Lordship had already satisfied justice by his sufferings; and himself being always inclined to temper justice with mercy, and likewise calling to remembrance his former good services, and how well and profitably he had spent his time since his troubles, he was graciously pleased to remove from him that blot of ignominy which yet remained upon him, of incapacity and disablement, and to remit to him all penalties whatsoever inflicted by that sentence.'
consequence of this pardon, his Lordship was summoned to the second parliament of Charles I.; but his infirmities prevented him from taking his seat. Foreseeing now that his end was approaching, he committed by his will several of his Latin and philosophical compositions to Sir William Boswell, his Majesty's agent in Holland (where they were, subsequently, published by Gruter) and his Orations and Letters to Sir Humphrey May Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Williams Bishop of Lincoln, who succeeded to the possession of the Great Seal; injoining them, at the same time, not to be divulged, as "touching too much on persons and matters of state." Through this judicious disposition of his papers, the greater part of them have, at different times, been given to the world.
By the severe winter, which followed the infectious summer of 1625, he was exceedingly reduced: but the spring reviving his spirits, he made a little excursion into the country, in order to try some experiments in natural philosophy, and being suddenly taken ill, after a week's indisposition, expired April 9, 1626.*
By his lady, the wealthy daughter of Alderman Barnham of London, whom he married when about the age of forty, he left no issue.
* It is to be regretted, that no memorial remains of his last hours, except a letter addressed by himself to the Earl of Arundel, under whose roof at Highgate he died. In this, he compares himself to the elder Pliny, who lost his life by approaching too near Mount Vesuvius during an eruption: and hence, perhaps, it may be fairly concluded (as suggested in the text) that he felt conscious of having exposed himself to some noxious effluvia, in the course of his preceding experiments.