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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
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time."

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,
The age to come would say, 'This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."
"Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit
Is poorly imitated after you;
On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set,

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,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,

A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air.

So be thou good; slander doth but approve
Thy worth the greater, being wooed of time."

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,
Of public honor and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlooked for joy in that I honor most."

"When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising,
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings."

*' I may not evermore acknowledge thee,

Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,
Nor thou with public kindness honor me,
Unless thou take that honor from thy name;
But do not so; I love thee in such sort
As, thou being mine, mine is thy good report.

"Asa decrepit father takes delight

To see his active child do deeds of youth.
So I, made lame by fortune's dearest spite,

Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.
For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,

Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts do crowned sit,

I make my love engrafted to this store.
So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised,

Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am sufficed,

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
To mock herself and truth to imitate,
With kindly counter under mimic shade,
Our pleasant Willy, ah, is dead of late:

With whom all joy and jolly merriment
Is also deaded and in dolor drent."

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,
And shalt by fortune once more resurvey

These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bettering of the time,

And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve them for thy love, not for their rhyme,

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,
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth."

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,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,

To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,

On your broad main doth wilfully appear;
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,

Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or being wrecked, I am a worthless boat,

He of tall building and of goodly pride;
Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this: my love was my decay."

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,
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,

Though, I once gone, to all the world must die;
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.

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