Francis Bacon’s Life
A Brief Historical Sketch by Peter Dawkins
Francis Bacon was born at York House, Charing Cross, London, on 22 January 1561. He was baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields on 25 January 1561 as second son of Sir Nicholas and Lady Ann Bacon. His father was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England and his mother was one of the most highly educated and accomplished women of her time. As a child he showed more than unusual promise and attracted the attention of Queen Elizabeth, who called him her ‘young Lord Keeper’ and ‘baby Solomon’. He was given a privileged private education by the best teachers of the time, which took place mainly at York House, the Lord Keeper’s London residence—a thriving hub of State business that adjoined York Place, the Queen’s Palace of Whitehall. In the vacations the family lived at Sir Nicholas’ country home of Gorhambury, St Albans, where several scenes in the early Shakespeare play Henry VI are laid. There were also tours with the Court, visiting the many country mansions and palaces of the Queen and her courtiers.
Because of his father’s high office and his other family connections (his uncle, Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley, was the Queen’s Secretary of State until 1573 when he was made the Queen’s Lord Treasurer), Francis was almost certainly present at various Court entertainments, such as the regular Christmas festivities and the two great entertainments of 1575. These latter entertainments, which were pivotal events in the Queen’s reign, were the Arcadian Woodstock Tournament presented by Sir Henry Lee, the Queen’s Champion, and the sumptuous Kenilworth Entertainment laid on for the Queen at Kenilworth Castle by her favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The Woodstock Tournament was the forerunner of the annual Accession Day Tournaments, whilst the Kenilworth Entertainment was designed by Leicester to persuade the Queen to marry him, which offer she turned down. Twenty years later Francis was to incorporate some of what he witnessed at the Kenilworth Entertainment in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which he wrote specially for the wedding of his niece, Elizabeth Cecil, when she married William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, in January 1595.
In April 1573, at the age of twelve, with the ‘new star’ blazing away in the heavens, Francis entered Trinity College, Cambridge University, accompanied by his brother Anthony. They were already learned in the Classics and could read, write and speak Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish fluently. They also knew Hebrew. They were placed under the direct charge and tuition of the Master of Trinity, Dr John Whitgift, and lodged in rooms under his roof. (Whitgift afterwards became Archbishop of Canterbury, and was the authority who granted the licence to publish Venus and Adonis in 1593.) Their contemporaries and friends at Cambridge included John Lyly, William Clerke, Edmund Spenser, Philemon Holland and Gabriel Harvey—the latter being their tutor in rhetoric and poetry as well as being a member of Sir Philip Sydney’s group of philosopher-poets, the English ‘Areopagus’.
Whilst a student at Cambridge, Francis became thoroughly disillusioned with the Aristotelian system of thought and teaching. As a reaction to this, and inspired with prophetic vision as to what to do to improve matters, his Grand Idea was born—an illumination matching the brilliance of the supernova shining overhead. For him it was like a spiritual birth or awakening, revealing to him his mission in life. Less than three years later, at Christmas 1575, with nothing more left that the university could teach him, he and Anthony left Cambridge, carrying with them the embryo of a plan by means of which Francis’ Grand Idea might be set in motion and gradually achieved. In this Anthony was a dedicated partner, even though for the next fifteen years their respective paths would separate them physically for most of the time.
On 27 June 1576 Francis, aged fifteen, and Anthony, aged seventeen, were entered as law students at Gray’s Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London, to follow in their father’s footsteps. Other members of that learned Society included the Earl of Southampton (to whom Venus and Adonis and Lucrece were dedicated), Francis and Anthony’s uncle, Lord Burghley (upon whom the Shakespeare character of Polonius is modelled), Lord Strange (in whose company of players the actor Shakspere played), William Herbert (later Earl of Pembroke to whom the First Folio of the Shakespeare Plays was dedicated), Sir Francis Walsingham (founder of the Elizabethan secret service, and a patron and employer of poets and dramatists), Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (a patron of writers and actors as well as a poet in his own right), and Sir Philip Sydney (a renowned poet and leader of the Areopagus of English lawyer-poets until his premature death on the battlefield in 1586). Five months later Francis and Anthony were admitted, as sons of a judge, to the Grand Company of Ancients by Order of Pension dated 21 November 1576, which gave them certain privileges. However, by that time Francis was abroad on the continent.
Francis did not immediately take up residence at Gray’s Inn but, instead, went ‘from the Queen’s hand’ to France with Sir Amyas Paulet, the newly-designated English Ambassador, landing in Calais on 25 September 1576 and remaining in France with the French Court for nearly three years. This was just at the time when, on one hand, the functions of the French State were in disorder because of corrupt and feeble administration, and, on the other hand, the French Renaissance was still at its height, with its poets, writers and artists encouraged and patronised by the French monarchy. During this time Francis was entrusted by Paulet with an important commission to the Queen, and he returned briefly to England in June 1578 for this purpose. Sir Amyas Paulet was recalled in October 1579, but Francis continued on at the French Court. During his three years there he travelled with the French Court to Fontainebleau, Blois, Tours, Poitiers and Chenonceaux, as well as living in Paris where the French Court was normally based. He made some kind of dangerous journey during August-September 1577, and in the following year he appears to have travelled with Catherine de Medici and Marguerite de Navarre’s entourage to the south of France, where he took part in the Court of Love festivities at Nérac.
It was in Paris, after his return from Nérac, that on 17 February 1579 Francis dreamt his father’s country house was plastered all over with black mortar. Since Gorhambury was actually plastered white and known as the ‘White House’ or ‘White Temple’, this was an ominous dream. In fact, three days later Sir Nicholas Bacon died of a chill caught at his official home in London, York House. As soon as news of the death arrived in Paris, Francis immediately set about organising his return home, arriving in England on 20 March 1579, unfortunately just a few days after Sir Nicholas’ funeral. Carrying out the wishes of his deceased father and his uncle Lord Burghley, who now acted in loco parentis towards him and Anthony until their respective coming of age, Francis entered Gray’s Inn to study law. He took up residence in May 1580, with benefit of ‘special admittance’ on account of his health, which meant that he was freed from the obligation of keeping Commons. According to Francis’ mother, Lady Ann, the explanation of Francis’ special admittance was that he suffered from indigestion caused by untimely going to bed, then musing about goodness knows what when he should sleep, and then in consequence of this rising late from bed. The ‘special admittance’ meant that Francis could choose his diet and take meals in the chambers which he shared with Mr. Fulwood in Fulwood House.
However, law was not Francis’ great interest. It was not what he wanted to do, and about it he writes later that ‘the Bar will be my bier’. In later years he informed Dr William Rawley, his chaplain, secretary and biographer, that law was to him but an accessory, not his principal study, even though in law, according to Rawley, ‘he obtained to great excellency’ and ‘in the science of the grounds and mysteries of law he was exceeded by none’. Francis’ passion in life was literary and educational, and devoted to the realisation of his Grand Idea. He had been both shocked and inspired by what he saw and experienced in France. The French Court was dissolute and its government was corrupt, but its culture otherwise was refined and glorious, whereas English culture at that time was uncouth and the English language still a sorry patchwork of almost incomprehensible dialects. Francis’ mission, therefore, was to create, with the help of others suited to the task, a magnificent English language and culture just as the French poets and philosophers had created theirs, but one that would promote virtue, not corruptness, and would be a vehicle for the new avenues of thought and discovery that he wished to encourage. He desired to do this as a service to both his country and his Queen, to make Elizabeth’s reign even more glorious and memorable than it might otherwise have been, and to leave a heritage for future ages to build upon. His design was, literally, a renovation of all arts and sciences based upon the proper foundations, and one which, by means of a special method that he was to test out and then teach, could spread to other countries for the benefit of the whole world. It was a truly grand concept.
To help him in his educational and cultural endeavours he applied to his uncle Lord Burghley to exert influence with the Queen on his behalf, in recognition of his special abilities and circumstances, so that he might have not only royal approval but also a position whereby he could have sufficient influence and income, without having to practice law, to give him ‘commandment of more wits’ than his own to assist him in his proposed task, since his own inherited resources were far too limited. The Queen, who was interested in the French Academies, did voice her approval and support, and gave Francis to believe that such a place would be found for him; but, other than moral and verbal encouragement, in this ‘rare and unaccustomed suit’ he was to meet with little success.
For fifteen years Francis was to be kept on a string concerning his suit. Nevertheless, devoting himself whole-heartedly to his great project and continually being buoyed up by promises of support from both Burghley and the Queen, Francis immersed himself in his writings and his study of human nature and the nature of all things, as well as studying law. From this time on he began to ring the bell that ‘called the wits together’—and there were many. Philip Sydney’s scholarly circle of philosopher-poets (the English Areopagitae or ‘Areopagus’) was already in existence (from c.1574) and in the throes of developing English poetry. The Renaissance magus, Dr John Dee, was at the height of his influence and making available his magnificent library at Mortlake—the largest in England—to the philosopher-poets and mathematicians. The Earl of Leicester, still dear to the Queen, provided an enthusiastic patronage of the poets and artists, making his London house available to them as well as patronising his own company of actors. Then, from 1579 and onwards through the 1580’s, the ‘University Wits’ began to appear, who raised the level of English drama and helped lay the foundations for the Shakespeare plays. The Areopagitae included Sir Philip Sydney, Gabriel Harvey, Edward Dyer, Daniel Rogers, Thomas Drant and, finally, ‘Immerito’ (supposedly Edmund Spenser), whilst the University Wits were, in order of appearance, John Lyly, Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Robert Greene, Thomas Nashe and Christopher Marlowe.
Francis Bacon was called to the Bar as Utter Barrister on 27 June 1582, but seems to have remained a briefless barrister for a further twelve years, until forced by circumstances in 1594 to take up some Court briefs and plead at the King’s Bench in the Courts of Westminster. However, during this time, and in fact right up to her death in 1603, the Queen many times asked for Francis’ advice and used his talents to draw up various reports and papers for her on difficult matters—religious, political and legal. Francis also assisted in the gathering of political intelligence, helped by his brother Anthony who first started going abroad in 1578 on missions as a spy, culminating with travelling Europe from 1579 to 1592 as the Queen’s Intelligencer at Burghley’s request. The head of Intelligence was the Queen’s Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham, who had set up one of the most efficient intelligence networks then in existence, with a training school in London. (Walsingham had succeeded Lord Burghley as Secretary of State in 1573 when Burghley became the Queen’s Lord Treasurer.)
In 1580 the Queen commissioned Francis, via Sir Thomas Bodley, to make report and compile notes of observations respecting the ‘laws, religion, military strength and whatsoever concerneth pleasure or profit’ in the countries of Europe. This was a specially-prepared 12-month tour of Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark, to observe life and gather information, both for the Queen and for his own purposes. For the planning of the journey Francis was aided by his brother Anthony, who was able to advise, arrange contacts and prepare a route. Anthony returned briefly from France to England in November-December 1580 for this purpose, and then was sent back again to the continent, remaining abroad for the next eleven years (except for one visit to England in 1588) gathering political intelligence.
Francis left England sometime in the spring 1581 and was back home at Gray’s Inn by the beginning of April 1582. On his return to England he wrote up a report of his travels and findings for Lord Burghley and the Queen. This report, including additional information from his brother Anthony and Nicholas Faunt, was presented to the Queen as a State Paper entitled Notes on the Present State of Christendom. The countries covered included not just France, Italy and Spain, but also Austria, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Denmark and Sweden. Florence, Venice, Mantua, Genoa and Savoy are dealt with in most detail. Some of this information was used in the Shakespeare plays. (These Notes were not made available to the public until 1734.)
Cryptography was one of Francis’ interests, and he assisted Burghley and Walsingham with decoding various correspondence. He also invented some new ciphers, one of his earliest creations being the Biliteral cipher which he invented in his youth whilst at Paris, which later became the basis of the Morse code and the binary code of all computer technology today.
In 1581 Francis began his thirty-six years of Parliamentary service as a Member of Parliament. Other than this he seems to have led the life partly of a courtier and partly of a recluse, and we hear little of him until 1587, except that in March 1584 he visited Scotland, and on 10 February 1586 he became a Bencher of Gray’s Inn.
Nearly two years later, on 23 November 1587 Francis was appointed a Reader of Gray’s Inn. As a Reader he was allowed his own private chambers. In fact, just two days previous to this, confirming a grant made nine years earlier, several buildings were leased to Anthony and Francis Bacon for a term of fifty years, with leave to add additional rooms (which Francis eventually did). These buildings contained the original chambers of Sir Nicholas Bacon, which had been kept for Edward and Anthony Bacon’s use. By then Edward, Francis’ and Anthony’s half-brother, had ceased studying law and had acquired the lease of Twickenham Park from the Queen, as well as having estates elsewhere. Since Anthony was still abroad, this meant that Francis had the unimpeded use of all the chambers, both to live in and to pursue his great project. Conveniently, the Great Library of Gray’s Inn was adjacent to and on the same level as Francis' chambers.
From that time onwards we learn that Francis was regularly associated with other gentlemen of Gray’s Inn in devising and presenting masques and entertainments at Gray’s Inn and the royal Court at Greenwich, and writing speeches and devices to be used in the Queen’s Accession Day Tilts.
Francis’ movements tended to oscillate between Gray’s Inn, the royal Court when he was in attendance on the Queen, and Twickenham Lodge. The latter was situated in Twickenham Park, the Crown property leased by Edward Bacon, with land leading down to the River Thames immediately opposite the Queen’s palace of Richmond. The lodge with its park was a tranquil and beautiful place where Francis could write in peace, together with his friends and ‘good pens’. It was almost certainly here and at Gray’s Inn that Bacon began writing, in 1588, the extraordinary series of plays that were later (from 1598 onwards) published under the pseudonymous mask of ‘William Shakespeare’. Edward seems to have allowed Francis the use of Twickenham Lodge whenever he wanted, and in November 1595 Francis took over the lease himself. Gorhambury, the fine country house and estate at St Albans, although owned by Anthony Bacon, was, under the terms of Sir Nicholas Bacon’s will, Lady Anne Bacon’s home and residence until she should die. It was, in any case, rather far from London, whereas Twickenham Park was close to the city and linked to it by river. All the main royal palaces and noblemen’s houses in or just outside London, from Greenwich to Hampton Court Palace, fronted onto this one great Thames thoroughfare. Twickenham Lodge was thus an ideal place. Francis had the use of it and part of its park until 1607, when the lease was surrendered to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, the new owner.
1588 saw the Spanish Armada approach the coast of England in July and suffer defeat, and the Earl of Leicester’s fever and death in September. Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, took on the mantle of his step-father, becoming Elizabeth’s principal favourite, and Leicester House became Essex House.
In 1591 Francis appears to have almost given up his fruitless suit with Burghley and the Queen, threatening that if his Lordship would not carry him on he would sell the small inheritance he had in order to purchase some means of quick revenue, and thereby give up all care of service (i.e. to Burghley and the Queen) in order to become some ‘sorry bookmaker or a true pioneer in that mine of truth which (Anaxagoras) said lay so deep’. Suspecting Burghley’s motives, Francis tried to make it absolutely clear to his uncle that just as he had vast contemplative ends so he had moderate civil ends, and that he did not ‘seek or affect any place whereunto any that is nearer unto your Lordship shall be concurrent’. In this Francis was particularly referring to his hunchback cousin, Robert Cecil, Burghley’s son by his second wife, Mildred, the sister of Lady Ann Bacon. Besides being Lord Treasurer and Master of the Court of Wards, the most lucrative office in the land, Burghley was doing his best to advance Robert as high and as quickly as possible to a similar status, although unlike Francis (and Burghley himself) Robert had no official legal training. Not without cause it was the astute but wily Robert Cecil who, seen from the point of view of Francis Bacon, provided the character study for the hunchback King Richard in the Shakespeare play of Richard III.
Richard III was written in 1591 and first performed in 1592. One of Francis’ main endeavours in his work was not only to study human nature and raise the level of people’s consciousness, but to improve people’s moral behaviour and purge corruption from wherever it might lurk—including corruption in high places. His ideal was to discover truth and practice philanthropy; and, like the Ancients, to teach wisdom through entertainment. One of the main points about the Shakespeare plays is that they hold a mirror up to human nature, so that both good and bad might be seen for what they are and what they do. Each character in the plays embodies qualities and characteristics drawn from real life, and sometimes the analogies go close to the bone. Increasingly, from 1591 onwards, the Shakespeare plays subtly attacked or satirised the abuses and weaknesses of the Cecil combo and others, even the Queen, as well as of society in general.
However, Francis did carry on serving the Queen with his legal and political advice, and with the use of his pen, and about this time (perhaps in response to his letter to Burghley threatening to retire) she made him Queen’s Counsel Extraordinary—an honorary, unpaid position with duties that were not clearly defined, except that examining prisoners suspected of treason or other grave offences, protecting the Queen’s interests and drawing up official reports were some of the services Francis was called upon to perform. Moreover, it was about this time that the Queen asked Francis to assist Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, as an advisor.
Francis had in fact already struck up a good friendship with Essex. The Earl at that time was the foremost favourite of the Queen and, with his sparkling charisma and gallantry, popular with the people. Francis set out to assist Essex in every way possible, believing him to be ‘the fittest instrument to do good to the state’. Essex in turn promised to help Francis, such as with his suit to the Queen and in obtaining other patronage. Ultimately this turned out to be a perilous mistake for Francis. Essex’s temperament was so hot-headed and imperious that rather than helping Francis he repeatedly made matters worse, with the Queen and he clashing like gladiators. Burghley and Robert Cecil came to loathe him, resulting in their admitted policy of doing their utmost to block the advancement of any of his friends, including the Bacon brothers. Most importantly, however, it was with the group of writers that were associated with or were to become associated with Essex and his friends that Francis had already launched his literary endeavours.
The Essex group, which had been linked with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Philip Sydney until their deaths in the 1580’s, and with the Areopagitae of English poets that used to meet at Leicester House (later Essex House), included the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Southampton, Lord Mountjoy, Lady Frances Essex, Penelope Rich, Elizabeth Vernon and Mary Sydney, the Countess of Pembroke, all of whom periodically resided at Essex House. Associated with them were the circle of poets, writers and dramatists patronised by Essex, Southampton and the Pembrokes, who included Samuel Daniel, Ben Jonson, John Florio, George Wither, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Nashe and John Lyly. The other ‘University Wits’—Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Robert Greene and Christopher Marlowe were also connected with this group—the wits who acknowledged Shakespeare (but not the actor Shakspere) as their head.
Southampton—a scholar, poet, gentleman and soldier, and a patron of poets, scholars and playwrights, and of libraries and places of learning—considered himself to be, like Essex, the successor to Philip Sydney. To Southampton was dedicated, in 1593, the ‘first heir’ of Shakespeare’s ‘invention’—the erotic narrative poem Venus and Adonis. His wife, Elizabeth Vernon, was Essex’s cousin. Essex’s wife, Frances, was the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham and widow of Sir Philip Sydney. Penelope Rich was Essex’s golden haired, black-eyed, beautiful sister, who had previously been considered as a bride for Sir Philip Sydney; but sadly her father died before the match could be arranged and her guardian (Huntingdon) married her in 1581 to ‘the rich Lord Rich’. Sydney remained passionately in love with Penelope all his life and addressed her as ‘Stella’ in his sonnets. After his death in 1586 Penelope became the mistress of Sir Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy.
Mary Sydney, Countess of Pembroke, was Sir Philip Sydney’s sister and the mother of ‘the Two Noble Brethren’ to whom the Shakespeare First Folio was dedicated. Her husband, Henry Herbert, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, whose country estate at Wilton bordered on the Wiltshire River Avon, was the patron of his own professional acting company, the Lord Pembroke’s Men, who owned and performed the early Shakespeare plays. Mary was a devoted patroness of the arts and learning, and of poets, who saw to it that her brother’s epic poem Arcadia was completed and published after his death. The poet Samuel Daniel was a tutor to Mary’s eldest son, William Herbert.
John Florio, a poet and scholar, was a friend of Giordano Bruno who came to England in 1585. Florio, who was previously in the service of the Earl of Leicester, entered Southampton’s household in the early 1590’s. He tutored Essex in Italian whilst working on his own Italian-English dictionary and the English translation of the essays of Anthony Bacon’s friend, Michel de Montaigne. Influences from these essays are to be found in The Tempest, Hamlet and King Lear, whilst Florio himself is thought to be caricatured as Holofernes in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Florio’s wife was a sister of the poet Samuel Daniel.
Oxford, the hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain who was brought up as a ward of Burghley, was noted as a poet and writer of comedies as well as being a patron of poets and dramatists, and of his own acting companies, Oxford’s Boys and Oxford’s Men. His harsh treatment of his wife, Anne Cecil, Burghley’s daughter, became a matter of great concern to the group of family and friends, as well as to the Queen, who between them contrived an eventual reunion of the couple. Much of All’s Well That Ends Well, written in 1598, ten years after Anne’s death in 1588 and seven years after Oxford’s second marriage to Elizabeth Trentham in 1591, is largely based upon Oxford’s marriage to Anne. The play’s title was first recorded in Francis Bacon’s private notebook, the Promus of Formularies and Elegancies, in 1594.
The novelist and dramatist John Lyly, who had been at Cambridge University at the same time as the Bacon brothers, entered the service of the Earl of Oxford as Oxford’s secretary from 1580 onwards, writing plays for Oxford’s Boys from 1583 to 1590. The style of Love’s Labour’s Lost was derived from Lyly’s romance, Eupheus, the Anatomy of Wit, published in 1578. Lyly eventually became one of Anthony Bacon’s ‘good pens’ at Essex House. Later, however, he was suspected of being a spy at Essex House, acting for Burghley.
In February 1592 Anthony Bacon returned home from the continent. Anthony, whom Francis called his ‘dearest brother’ and ‘comfort’, shared Francis’ aspirations. His main love was literary and, like his brother, he was a secret poet, known only as such to his friends, as revealed in their letters to him. But his wit and his talents as a multi-linguist were much in demand, and he put them at the service of the Queen and Burghley, who sent him on his twelve-year mission. All the time he was abroad he kept in constant correspondence with his brother Francis as well as with his uncle and Sir Francis Walsingham.
Anthony Bacon’s foreign contacts were wide-spread and he enjoyed friendship in many high places, ‘being a gentleman whose ability the world taketh knowledge of for matters of state, specially foreign’. His contacts and friendship with Henri of Navarre, later Henri IV of France, were later incorporated into the Shakespeare play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, as also was the result of his association with the King of Spain’s Secretary of State, Antonio Perez, who defected to England and upon whom the character of Don Adriana de Armado is based.
When Anthony returned to England he joined his brother at Gray’s Inn, and started to pour all his energy and financial resources into his brother’s project whilst at the same time continuing his intelligence work. Together the brothers formed a scrivenery of secretaries and writers to assist them, dealing with political intelligence, cryptography, translations of correspondence and books in foreign languages and the classics, invention of new words, and literature generally. The Shakespeare plays took off in earnest.
With Anthony back in England with his brother, it soon became clear to them that their uncle Burghley, far from helping them as much as he had repeatedly promised, in return for their services, had in fact been holding back on his help, blocking Francis’ advancement and taking most of the credit for Anthony’s intelligence work to himself. He was full of promises and pleasant words to the brothers, but time proved that he did not exert himself much on their behalf or give much in return, and in fact was suspicious and at times antagonistic towards them. He and the Queen took all but gave little. He was the Queen’s chief counsellor and friend, and in charge of the Queen’s treasury and the lucrative Court of Wards. She held Francis in special regard and affection, and used him ‘in her greatest causes’. Francis’ official and financial situation could and should have been different, as also Anthony’s: they had both served the Queen and Burghley faithfully and unceasingly. As it was, it was hard, with Lady Fortune (the ‘Dark Lady’ of the Shake-speare Sonnets) acting many times cruelly.
In 1593, just as ‘Shakespeare’ as a name was launched onto the public scene for the first time with the scholarly poem Venus and Adonis, Francis (as an MP representing Middlesex)) dared to stand up in Parliament against an attempt by the Queen and Burghley to take away Parliament’s vitally important prerogative of raising taxes. Thanks to Francis’ oratory and arguments, the proposals of the Queen’s Government were rejected on this constitutional issue. Elizabeth was furious and Francis was made to feel her displeasure, being denied access to her presence, which hitherto he had enjoyed with an unusual freedom. She told him ‘that he must nevermore look to her for favour or promotion’.
Such a royal excommunication precipitated a major crisis for Francis, who supported himself and his literary work mainly by loans and credit; and, although helped by his mother and Anthony, who sold two estates to assist Francis (and eventually beggared himself on his brother’s behalf), Francis was driven by necessity to practice law seriously. So it was that on 25 January 1594 Francis pleaded his first case in the King’s Bench, with others to follow. His first pleading was so successful that Burghley, content with Francis as a lawyer and pressured by his own family who had taken pity on Francis’ predicament, undertook to make a report ‘where it might do him the most good’.
The Queen played a game of punishment or reward with Francis, trying to make him her creature in all ways, including the Parliamentary one. In 1594 the position of Attorney-General fell vacant and was kept vacant for a whole year, and several times it was intimated to Francis that the Queen might appoint him to this position and that it was only his conduct in Parliament that stood in the way. Essex, eager to help Francis, urged the Queen to appoint him to this position. But Francis would not recant, and there were other factors afoot. Robert Cecil suggested to Essex that if Sir Edward Coke, the Solicitor-General, were to be appointed as Attorney-General, which he felt the Queen would prefer, then perhaps Francis might be content with the lesser position of Solicitor-General instead. But Essex would not have it. Only the higher office would do for the friend of Essex! As Essex saw it, his own reputation was at stake. The result was that the Attorney-Generalship went instead to Coke, and Francis was also by-passed for the office of Solicitor-General.
Essex was mortified by this result, feeling it as a matter of pride, and bestowed on Francis a gift of land in Twickenham in recompense for what he felt was his failure to help his friend. Francis was able to raise money on the land to ease his situation (later he sold it).
But, despite the fact that (or perhaps because) Francis thought of retiring to Cambridge with a couple of men to spend his life in studies and contemplation, matters between him and the Queen did improve that year. In the summer the Queen appointed him one of her Counsel learned in the Law and conferred on him some woodland in Somerset at a nominal rent. Then for her Accession Day celebration on 17 November 1594 he wrote The Device of the Indian Prince, filled with flattering and adulatory references to the Queen, which helped to reconcile her to Essex (who had, thanks to a book published abroad, been under a shadow of suspicion concerning his influence with the Queen upon the matter of succession). The Device was sponsored by Essex and took place at York House. It was so successful that her Majesty was extremely pleased. She was reconciled to Francis and on that very day the reversion of the lease of certain lands in Twickenham Park was made over to him—a concession on the basis of which he could raise some more money to satisfy his creditors for awhile.
Creditors were a continual problem, as Francis’s project was costly and he never had enough money. His brother Anthony was the main source of his help on this matter. The friendship between the two brothers, and the difficulties they endured through being forced year after year to raise loans from usurers, and the eventual bankruptcy of Anthony on his brother’s behalf, was strongly reflected in the Shakespeare play, The Merchant of Venice. In the play Antonio is a good caricature of Anthony, who did trade abroad (but in intelligence rather than merchandise) and who hazarded all for his brother’s sake; and Bassanio of Francis, whose ‘Portia’ he sought after was, in a philosophical sense, Wisdom on her Mountain of Beauty (‘Belmont’), and in a personal sense, his rich cousin, Lady Hatton (see below). Many times either one or the other brother had to attend court and pay the forfeits demanded for late repayment of the loans. Being a lawyer and ‘learned in the law’, Francis often pleaded his own case. He was even arrested for debt at one time (September 1598), unjustly as it happened, because of the maliciousness of a particular debtor, and had to be rescued from the awful possibility of incarceration in the Fleet.
In 1595 Francis ‘knit’ Anthony’s service to the Earl of Essex. As a result, in August 1595 Anthony moved into Essex House to act as the Earl’s ‘Secretary of State’, partly in the hope of counter-balancing the increased power-base of the Cecil faction. 1595 was the year in which the Lord Treasurer Burghley completed his personal coup d’état by seeing his son Robert, who was knighted in 1591 and made a member of the Privy Council, and who had been unofficially filling the vacant office of Secretary of State for several years, achieve the politically powerful position of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. This climb to power culminated the following year when Robert was officially made the Principal Secretary of State, cementing the father-son combo which together held the reins of power in the Queen’s Government. (When Burghley died in 1598, Robert continued as Secretary of State, maintaining his position of power.)
Only two years later, in 1597, a hazardous situation arose, in which the Shakespeare play of Richard II was involved. Again, this had to do with the royal succession, but this time it was a question of the deposing and ‘voluntary’ abdication of a king. Clearly, when first performed the historical deposition scene was included; but the Queen was both horrified and incensed by it, seeing herself regarded by certain of her courtiers as ‘Richard’ and Essex as ‘Bolingbroke’. Subsequently the play was performed with the offending deposition scene omitted, and both it and other plays which followed were published with the name of ‘William Shakespeare’ appearing on their title pages for the first time. The actor Will Shakspere suddenly acquired a lot of money, reportedly from the Earl of Southampton, and set himself up in Stratford-upon-Avon with a fine house and trading business, and Essex continued in the Queen’s high favour. It was also in that year that Francis had a book published under his own name of ‘Francis Bacon’ for the first time, this being the first version of his Essays, which he dedicated with affection to his ‘Loving and beloved Brother’, Anthony, referring to Anthony as ‘you that are next myself’.
Besides his deep love for Anthony—his brother, friend, co-writer and partner in his grand scheme—Francis was also enamoured of his cousin, Elizabeth Cecil, one of Burghley’s grand-daughters, with whom he had flirted when younger. He continued his friendship with Elizabeth after she was married to Sir William Hatton in 1594, which friendship deepened over the years. When Elizabeth was widowed in 1597 Francis courted her seriously, requesting her hand in marriage. She had been left a very wealthy young woman by her deceased husband, and so marriage with her could bestow a double grace and solve Francis’ financial problems. But another disappointment was in store, and once again Sir Edward Coke, now Attorney-General and wealthy, won the day.
In 1599 trouble between the Queen and Essex flared up dangerously, Essex consistently acting against the advice of both Francis and Anthony, who urged Essex not to seek a military position and not to go to Ireland at the head of the English army—both of which he did. Just before Essex set out for Ireland in March 1599, a potentially volatile situation arose for both Francis and Essex in which the Shakespeare play of Richard II was again involved. This time a book based on the play had been published by a young doctor of civil law, John Hayward, a friend of both Essex and Bacon, which in its preface likened Essex to Bolingbroke and seemed to exhort Essex to rise up against the Queen and usurp the throne. Hayward was arrested and Francis was immediately called before the Queen to explain and sort matters out, the Queen seemingly knowing of Francis’ authorship of the Shakespeare play. Fifteen months later Francis was again involved on the same subject, when Essex was arraigned before the Queen’s Council on a charge of disobeying Her Majesty’s orders in Ireland. Francis, as one of the Queen’s Counsel, was given the specific role of charging Essex concerning the use of Hayward’s book, a role to which he objected, remarking that ‘it would be said that I gave in evidence mine own tales’.
When all this culminated in February 1601 with Essex’s abortive attempt to raise an armed insurrection against the Queen and her government, which led to his trial for treason and subsequent execution (25 February 1601), the Bacon brothers were devastated. Both of them had been misled for several years by Essex, who had been secretly plotting and preparing his insurrection, and they only learnt the full truth during and after the trial. Both brothers had worked hard to try to prove the supposed innocence of Essex, and Francis did all he could to mediate with the Queen on Essex’s behalf, right up to the end, at the expense of his own relationship with her. Francis was ordered by the Queen to take part in the trial as her Counsel Learned, to assist the State Prosecutor. As if these tragic events were not enough, a few months after Essex’s execution Anthony, who had not been well, was reported to have died (27 May 1601).
Queen Elizabeth was to go to her grave just two years later (24 March 1603), and in July 1603 King James VI of Scotland was crowned King James I of England. Anthony Bacon had over the years done some good service for the Scottish king, and Francis, who pleaded his case as a ‘concealed poet’ who was for the most part one with his brother in ‘endeavour and duties’, was helped by King James as a result. In Queen Elizabeth’s reign Francis had been continually by-passed in terms of being given a position where he could command both a sufficient income and influence for the needs of his great project, and his service under the Tudor queen had gone largely unpaid, except for the promise of the reversion of the position of Clerk to the Star Chamber when it became vacant, the granting under favourable terms of the lease of Twickenham Park, which became Francis’ favourite retreat and home for his scrivenery, the lease of the Rectory of Cheltenham, and the payment of a fee of £1200 for his services at Essex’s trial. With James, after a cautious start, it was to be different.
The Stuart king soon came to rely on Francis’ exceptional talents and to recognise them officially; but, as with Elizabeth, it was primarily in the highways and byways of law that he drew Francis’ services to him, although Francis eventually became the principal adviser to the King on all matters. (Not that James always took notice of the advice: if he had done so more often, many unfortunate situations might have been avoided, including the mismanagement and rape of Ireland.)
Francis’ philanthropic literary work in the reign of Elizabeth, and the largely unpaid legal work for his sovereign, had left him in dire straights financially. Anthony had died with debts that had to be paid, whilst Francis had his own debts, to cover which his Twickenham Park lease was mortgaged. The literary work was still continuing and had to be supported, and meaningful and sufficient patronage was still not forthcoming. Therefore, even though he inherited the manors and estates of Gorhambury from his brother, which brought a modicum of financial security, Francis still needed to earn a reasonable income, even if it meant practising law more fully and trying to obtain an official position in the King’s service.
First Francis was knighted on 23 July 1603, along with three hundred others at Whitehall, two days before the coronation of King James and his Queen, Anne of Denmark, in Westminster Abbey. Then, a year later, in August 1604, he was confirmed by letters patent as a member of the King’s Counsel Learned with a pension of £40 per annum. It was at this time that he started writing the tracts that were the forerunners of his Great Instauration, and his first version of The Advancement of Learning, to be published in October 1605. He also met in 1603 Alice Barnham, a wealthy alderman’s daughter, ‘an handsome maiden,’ to whom he took a liking with a view to marriage when she was old enough (she was only eleven years old when they first met). A little over two years later, on 10 May 1606, when she was fourteen and he forty-five, they married. She brought with her a dowry of £6000 plus an annual income of £220, which Francis allowed her to keep for herself, whilst he settled on her a further income for life of £500 per annum. Francis treated his wife with much conjugal love and respect, and for all the years of their marriage (i.e. until his death) they appear to have lived together happily, in peace and contentment, and with style.
On 25 June 1607, the year after his marriage to Alice, Francis was appointed Solicitor-General with a pension of £1000 per annum. This was not a particularly onerous position but one which Francis hoped would allow him to enlarge his private practice. In 1609 the reversion of Clerk of the Star Chamber fell to him at last, which boosted his financial resources even further. Then in 1611 he was appointed President of the Court of the Verge and Chief Advisor to the Crown. On 26 October 1613 he became the Attorney-General, and on 9 June 1616 a Privy Councillor. With the Attorney-Generalship Francis became far more fully immersed in the King’s business, with little time for writing any more. What little time he had for literary matters he mainly devoted to perfecting the writing and presentation of his New Method, the first two books of which he wrote in Latin and published in 1620 as the Novum Organum. Henry VIII thus became the last Shakespeare play to be written (c.1612-13), and even that was with the collaboration of John Fletcher.
Finally, to cap his political and legal service to the Crown, on 7 March 1617 the King appointed Sir Francis Bacon as his Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (the ‘keeper of the King’s conscience’), and immediately left him to act as his virtual regent in England whilst he departed for Scotland for a six-month visit—the first of his reign as King of Great Britain. Even with the King absent, Francis took his place in Chancery with magnificent ceremony. In his procession to Westminster Hall he was escorted by 200 knights and gentlemen mounted on horse, together with lords of his Majesty’s Council, the nobility, courtiers and followers of the Queen and Prince of Wales, plus the judges and fellows of the Inns of Court. He himself was dressed in purple satin, as he was on his wedding day—normally a royal privilege.
Having taken up his new position, Francis worked flat out to make up for the delays in Chancery caused by the illness of his predecessor, his old friend Lord Ellesmere, and by the workings of Chancery generally. He doubled the amount of time that he personally, together with his staff, were traditionally expected to spend on Chancery matters, in order to expedite and clear the causes of the court, although he made sure to reserve the depth of the vacations ‘for studies, arts, and sciences’, to which, he said in his inaugural speech, he was in his nature most inclined.
Ten months of hard work later, on 4 January 1618 King James bestowed the honour of Lord Chancellorship upon Francis. By this time Francis had moved into York House, the home of his father as Lord Keeper and of all subsequent Lord Keepers, and where his father had died and he had been born and bred. This was a home which meant a great deal to him and he set about making it into a beautiful mansion, repairing and furnishing it lovingly and lavishly, connecting it by pipe to the City’s main water supply, building an aviary in its gardens, and installing in it a huge household of servants and retainers, dressed in his livery.
Francis also at this time had the lease of Canonbury Manor, a fine mansion on Islington’s hill with panoramic views over London and fine panelled rooms decorated with Masonic and Rosicrucian symbolism. He took on a forty-year lease of this house and its park in 1616, the year when the ‘Invisible College’ (which eventually gave rise to the Royal Society and other societies, academies and orders, based on Francis’ proposals and inspiration) was reputedly founded. Francis referred to this College in his New Atlantis as ‘the College of the Six Days’ Work’—Bacon’s whole project or ‘Great Instauration’ being based on his understanding of the biblical Six Days of Creation. The following year (1617) this College made a brief official appearance, when Bacon’s friend, Edmund Bolton, presented James I with a proposal to found a Society or College for the advancement of learning along Baconian lines, to be called ‘King James’ Academy or College of Honour’, the members of whom were to ‘love, honour and serve each other according to the spirit of St John’.
Fittingly, on 12 July 1618 his Majesty raised Francis to the peerage, creating him Baron Verulam. Two and a half years later, on 3rd February 1621, in celebration of his 60th birthday and of over three years of faithful unstinting service as Lord Keeper and Chancellor, Francis was created Viscount St Alban by the King.
Almost immediately upon receiving the last title, at the height of his public glory, a plot which had been hatched against Lord St Alban by those who envied him and his position came to fruition. It fell upon Francis like a bombshell, even though friends such as Tobie Matthew had tried to warn him that something dangerous was afoot. The result of the plot led to Francis’ impeachment in Parliament (during March-April 1621) on concocted charges of corruption, to which the King, in order to move attention away from the extravagant behaviour of his favourite Buckingham and his own weakness, ordered his Lord Chancellor to offer no defence and to plead guilty. Sentence was given on 3 May 1621. Francis was stripped of his office and banned from holding any further office, place or employment in the State or Commonwealth, or from sitting in Parliament. He was banished from the verge of Court, fined the enormous sum of £40,000 (the equivalent of about £20 million today) and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Francis’ imprisonment at the end of May was, however, brief, and after a few days he was released, although banished from London and commanded to retire to Gorhambury until the King’s pleasure should be further known. Gorhambury was a beautiful and relaxing place for vacations, but to live there month after month meant that he and his wife were cut off from society, from their friends, and he from his books and papers and helpers, and the stimulating company of other good minds. Francis longed to return to the metropolis and get moving with his writings, and he grieved greatly that his wife had to suffer on his behalf. He pleaded with the King to be allowed to return to London. He begged also for financial help in being able to at least live, having sold his plate and jewels and other commodities to pay his creditors and servants what he owed them, so that they should suffer as little as possible.
On 16 September 1621 King James issued a licence permitting Francis to return to London (but to lodge at Sir John Vaughan’s house, not York House, and only for six weeks), and on 20 September 1621 he assigned the fine of £40,000 to four trustees of Francis’ own choosing, which meant in effect that Francis was freed of its burden. Moreover, on 12 October 1621 King James signed a warrant for Francis’ pardon. From the historical evidence and the tone of Francis’ letters to Buckingham and the King, this pardoning of Francis would seem to have been because of an understanding Francis had with the King, as part of the agreement whereby he would plead guilty to the charges made against him: but nevertheless the damage was done and Francis’ good name was and remains to this day tarnished in the eyes of the world as a result.
Francis’ bitter experience was not yet over. Although the King had granted his pardon, the new Lord Keeper, Bishop Williams, delayed putting his seal on it. Until this was done Francis was still legally not a completely free man and, more to the point, was shut out of London (his six weeks at Sir John Vaughan’s house having elapsed) and could not return to his beloved York House. Eventually it was made known to Francis that the delay was caused by Buckingham, who desired York House for his own purposes. Until Francis surrendered it, he would not be given either his full pardon or his freedom. Francis tried every way he could not to lose his beautiful and convenient London home, with its strong sentimental value and into which he had poured so much of himself and his finances, but eventually he had to give way. In mid-March 1622 he surrendered York House to Buckingham, the Marquis contracting to buy the lease for £1,300. Immediately Francis’ pardon and freedom arrived, signed, sealed and delivered, and by November his pension and a grant from the petty writs, both of which had been illegally stopped, had been restored to him—but not without him having to borrow money from friends and write to the King as a supplicant in great extremity.
To begin with, sometime at the end of March 1622 Francis moved with his wife and household to a house in Chiswick, but this was only temporary; for by June that year they had taken up residence in Bedford House on the Strand. This now became their London home, Gorhambury still being their country abode and family estate, in Francis’ ownership (unlike Bedford House, which was leased).
During his time of banishment from Court and forced retirement at Gorhambury (June 1621–March 1622) Francis would have been able to spend time on the final planning and organisation of the presentation of his Great Instauration to the world at large, gathering further material for his Natural History, the third part of his Great Instauration, and writing his revised and greatly enlarged final version of the Advancement of Learning. This latter work was to represent the first part of the Great Instauration, a portion of the second part (the Novum Organum) having already been published in 1620. Moreover, it was probably during the six weeks in London (September-October 1621) that he issued instructions for the collecting together of the Shakespeare plays and the purchasing of the publishing rights for them, so that they could be published collectively as his example of the fourth part of the Great Instauration—his working model or ‘machine’ as he called it, by which the data collected concerning natural, human and divine nature might be ‘set as it were before the eyes’. For this he had Ben Jonson to help him, one of his ‘good pens who forsake me not’. His other remaining ‘good pens’ included George Herbert, Thomas Hobbes, Peter Böener, Dr. William Rawley and Sir Thomas Meautys.
Once back in London the composition and translation into Latin of the Advancement of Learning went full steam ahead, although it was not until the autumn of 1623 that it was finally published (as the De Augmentis Scientiarum). The timing of this went hand in hand with the publication of the Shakespeare plays, the printing of which was set in motion early in 1622, probably under the supervision of Ben Jonson, and the publication of which occurred during the last two months of 1623 (as the Folio of William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies). Francis also busied himself at this time with researching and writing a history of the reign of King Henry VII, as part of his intended collection of histories of the later sovereigns of England, and with making a start on a collection of studies that would comprise his example of a Natural History. Both The History of the Reign of King Henry VII and the first of six essays on natural history (Historia Ventorum, ‘The History of Winds’) were published in 1622.
Always Francis did his best to maintain his wife in a state befitting a viscountess, and had settled on her a suitable income, in addition to her own private one, which she had always enjoyed throughout their marriage. This meant that by February 1623 Francis was again in financial difficulties. He tried to sell Gorhambury to Buckingham, but the Marquis was at that time about to embark for Spain with Charles, the Prince of Wales, to pursue the proposal for the marriage of the King of Spain’s daughter to the Prince. Failing to sell Gorhambury, Bedford House had to be given up, as being too expensive to run. This left Gorhambury as their only stately home, so that when in London Lady Bacon had to rely on staying with family or friends, whilst Francis retired to his ‘cell’, his chambers at Gray’s Inn, where he could carry on with his writings.
When the provostship of Eton fell vacant in April 1623, Francis applied to the King for the position, as it would have fulfilled his original desire to have a suitable position with a small but sufficient income to sustain him wherein he could ‘command wits and pens’ and oversee the education of bright young minds. But even in this he failed, the position having already been promised to another and King James being unable to believe that his ex-Lord Keeper and Lord Chancellor, who in title was a Viscount, would want to take up such a relatively humble position. The truth of the matter was, though, that beyond granting the pardon (which was never given in full, as Francis was denied being able to sit in parliament for the rest of his life), neither the King nor Buckingham did anything whatsoever to help Francis, other than to say friendly and encouraging things in answer to his letters and pleas.
So Francis remained at Gray’s Inn, writing copiously and urgently, and living at Gorhambury with his wife from time to time. Each year, usually in the summer months, he was subject to bouts of sickness, but always seemed to recover. He never lost his profound hope, his extraordinary mental faculties or his zest for completing his great work. Yet within three years he was to die, outliving by one year the King whom he had served so well, who died on 27 March 1625 and who was succeeded by his son Charles I.
Even though Francis never completed his work to his own satisfaction, yet by the time he died he had produced remarkable examples of the first four parts or stages of the Great Instauration (and maybe of the fifth and sixth, if we could but find or identify them), constructed a ‘treasure hunt’ to teach and train others, and set in motion a work that others could take up—a work that Francis knew would grow and evolve, and take many ages to complete.
In the early years of King James’ reign Francis had been able to continue writing the Shakespeare plays and other works. In addition, as his experiments began to bear fruit, he began to develop and publish his philosophical works under his own name of Bacon; but this he did carefully, a little at a time, not revealing the critical role of drama until his final 1623 version of the Advancement of Learning—the De Augmentis Scientiarum. Like the Novum Organum that he had published in 1620, this work was written in Latin, with the help of George Herbert, Ben Jonson and others—the reason being, as he said, so that other nations might have the benefit of reading it as well as his own countrymen, Latin being (at that time) the universal language of the learned.
During the early Jacobean period Francis had become directly involved with the Virginia Company and its schemes to colonise North America, sitting on its council together with the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, and the Earl of Southampton. Moreover, Francis was largely responsible for drawing up, in 1609 and 1612, the two charters of government for the Virginia Colony. These charters were the beginnings of constitutionalism in North America and the germ of the later Constitution of the United States of America. The confidential report sent to the Virginia Company council members by William Strachey in 1609, concerning the shipwreck of the Company’s flagship, the Sea Adventurer, on the Bermudas, gave Francis some good material on which to base his account of the island and shipwreck in The Tempest, the so-called ‘last’ Shakespeare play.
The very last Shakespeare play, however, appears to have been All is True, thought to have been written sometime between the end of 1612 and June 1613, when the Globe Theatre accidentally burnt down during a performance of the play. This play, or a later version of it, was first published in the 1623 Shakespeare Folio as The Life of King Henry the Eight, with certain additions which Francis wrote after his impeachment. These additions include the prologue and Cardinal Wolsey’s farewell speech, and details of Wolsey’s fall as Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal, which are purposely mixed with details of Bacon’s own personal experience when he had the Great Seal taken from him, thus making a kind of signature.
Francis’ impeachment in 1621, although a severe blow to his good name, was to him a release from the burden of legal and State service, enabling him to devote himself entirely to his greatest love and real mission in life. During the last five years of his life he worked like a superman, collecting together, revising, polishing and finishing works already commenced, completing or at least making a start on other projects already planned, and seeing his greatest works through publication, including the Shakespeare Folio of comedies, histories and tragedies. For all this he was helped by those ‘good pens’ of his who, after his fall, forsook him not—men whose names should be remembered with gratitude.
Ever a master of drama and symbolism, it was on Easter Day, 9th April 1626, that Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount St Alban, died. He left copious manuscripts and letters, a library of books and a generous will—although he died so much in debt due to his misfortune that the benefits of his will could not be fully realised. Some of his letters and manuscripts were given into the care of his principal secretary and friend, Sir Thomas Meautys, others to his chaplain Dr William Rawley, and some to be looked after by his brother-in-law Sir John Constable and his literary friend Sir William Boswell, the English Ambassador at the Hague. Francis left them instructions to publish some and reserve others to a ‘private succession’ of literary ‘sons’. His extensive library he bequeathed to Constable, but it seems that the books had to be sold because of the insolvency of his estate when he died. Upon his death tributes poured forth from many men of letters praising him not only as the greatest philosopher who had lived in many ages, but also as the Star of Poets, the Apollo who led not only the other writers and poets but the Muses themselves. From then on, as Ben Jonson remarked, ‘wits daily grow downward’. The unique half-century of brilliant English Renaissance culture was over. The ‘light’ had vanished, but not the inheritance which it has left behind for us to enjoy.
© Peter Dawkins, 1999; latest revision Feb 2009
The Francis Bacon Research Trust