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The father of Essex died in 1576. In 1590 the second Earl married the widow of Sir Philip Sidney, Essex being twenty-two years old and she a little younger. The marriage was secret to avoid the opposition of Elizabeth. By October, concealment was no longer possible, and on the 22d of January, 1591, (not 1592 as some have it,) the first child was born. ("Earls of Essex," 1853.)
The mother of Essex was celebrated for her beauty; his father was not handsome. (See portrait in "Earls of Essex.") The son's inheritance of his mother's features is told in the third Sonnet:
'' Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
For further description of the young Earl's beauty, take the following:
"If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."
And you in Grecian 'tires are painted new."
Essex having become the special favorite of the Queen, of course became an object of envy and slander. Mark now what the poet says:
"Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won;
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed."
"That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.
So be thou good; slander doth but approve
In 1590 Bacon had acquired a reputation as an orator in the House of Commons, but was without available means of livelihood in keeping with his wants and station. Up to this time his efforts for promotion were thwarted by the Queen's minister, Lord Burleigh (Cecil,) who regarded him as a dangerous rival for his son. With the rise of young Essex into royal favor Bacon turned to him as a friend at court. From 1590 to 1594 the Earl tried in vain to advance Bacon, and at last, when the vacant office of Attorney General was filled by another, Essex, blaming himself for the disappointment, insisted on presenting him with an estate worth £1,800.
With these facts in mind, see how perfectly the following lines fit the persons and the time, 1590:
"Let those who are in favor with their stars,
"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
*' I may not evermore acknowledge thee,
Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
"Asa decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth.
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
I make my love engrafted to this store.
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
And by a part of all thy glory live."
In 1590 Shakspere was part owner of a theater. In 1590 Bacon obtained his first show of favor from the court; he became Queen's counsel extraordinary, but the office was without emolument. At this time plays for the theater were written and rewritten again and again to meet the demand. Young lawyers and poets produced them rapidly. Each theatrical company kept from one to four poets in its pay (Amer. Cyc.) Shakspere appeared to be ready to father anything that promised success, and there are at least six plays published under his name or initials which most critics say are not his, nor have they ever appeared in the genuine canon. In 1591 a poem by Spenser was published containing these lines:
"And he, the man whom Nature's self has made
With whom all joy and jolly merriment
From 1590 until Shakspere retired from the stage, how could it be said that he was "poor," bewailing his "outcast state" and " cursing his fate?" But it is certain that Bacon's condition answered precisely to that description up to November, 1594, when Essex gave him an estate worth £1,800; aye, even until 1604, when King James granted him a pension of £60; if not even up to 1607.
Mark now the modesty of the poet in 1590:
"If thou survive my well contented day,
When that churl Death with bones my dust shall cover,
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Exceeded by the height of happier men."
"My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you,
We have already quoted a verse from Spenser in praise of "Willy," first published in 1591; we now adduce a passage from one of "Willy" Bacon's poems first published in 1599 in praise of Spenser: '' Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch Upon the lute doth ravish human sense; Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such As, passing all conceit, needs uo defense."
This verse is in " The Passionate Pilgrim," the first two numbers of which are Sonnets 138 and 144 with slight variations. John Dowland, a musician, was born in 1562 and died 1625. Spenser was eight years older than Bacon.
But coupled with this modesty of the author of the "Sonnets," note how he praises his friend and how famous that friend appears at the time:
"Oh, how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame.
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear;
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
He of tall building and of goodly pride;
The other superior (?) poet referred to is undoubtedly Spenser, among whose "Sonnets, addressed by the author to his friends and patrons," in January, 1590, is one "To the most honorable and excellent Lord the Earl of Essex, great master of the horse to her highness, and knight of the noble order of the garter, etc." Essex became master of the horse in 1587, and knight of the garter in 1588.
"We proceed with the quotations from the Shaksperian Sonnets:
"Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
Though, I once gone, to all the world must die;