Page images


The following letter is copied from the original in the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum. We should hardly have expected to find the name of this stately and tyrannical churchman connected with stale pastry; but gourmands may think the better of his natural disposition, from seeing with what equanimity he talks of two choice venison pies that had miscarried, and reached him “as moldye as if they had been sent from a farre countrye.” It must be remembered, however, that Laud really “got these things often ;” and, besides roebucks of his own, had abundant means of purchasing the venison of other men. His resignation, therefore, was not so exemplary as that of Oliver Goldsmith when he lost his “haunch;” which loss caused us the gain of an admirable poem.


SIR, Nowe I knowe to whome I am beholding for twoe younge roebucke pyes, and I thanke you heartily for them. They came not as you intended, but I will take leave to tell you how they came. The twoe pyes came to me a little before Christmas, as moldye as if they had been sent from a farre countrye. No direction at all came with them, but only that they came from Duresme; soe I thought they had been my lord bishop's kindnes, and either I did give him thankes for them, or intended to doe. Nowe in the midle of May came your letters, by which I understand the pyes came from you, and truly I thanke you as heartily as if they had come to me in very good case, for soe I knowe you intended them. And with these thankes I leave you to the grace of God

and rest. Your loveing freinde, “Lambeth, June 3, 1634. “ W. CANT. (Addressed)

“To my very loveing freind Sir William Bellasys, sheriff of the bishopricke of Durham,” these.


SoME curious instances might be afforded of the continuance and perpetuation by authors of a mistake once made. The following is singular.—Sandraat, who was a contemporary of Claude, wrote his life in Latin, and from this source all subsequent writers have supplied themselves. Sandraat says that Claude, being found dull at learning, was taken from school, and put under a painter of eatables—“à parentibus suis in disciplinam tradebatur, pictori cuidam artocreatum.” This latter part has always been translated, “put him apprentice to a ‘pastry-cook.’” Every modern life of Claude has it so, and many of the great masters in the art and mystery of pastry have no doubt glorified greatly in having had so illustrious a brother. How “cuidam pictori artocreatum” came to be translated into a pastry-cook, it is useless now to consider. The fact is, both in Germany and Italy, the painting of signs for shops and other places where eatables are sold was an extensive trade, and is even now practised by many, as the signs on the shutters and doors throughout Germany and in parts of Italy prove; the representation of rolls, pies, cakes, sausages, &c. being often “ done to the life.”


IN the Biographia Britannica, the father of Sir Nicholas Bacon is styled “Robert Bacon, of Drinkston, Esq.” and an attempt is made to show that he was an offshoot of “an ancient and honourable family” established in Suffolk about the time of the Norman Conquest. The existence of this family as one of some standing in that county, is proved by a reference to Camden; and the descent from it of the celebrated Bacons — the Lord Keeper and the Lord Chancellor—rests on the doubtful authority of a manuscript genealogy in the hands of one of their descendants. At any rate, the following statements relative to this Robert Bacon, the grandfather of the author of the Novum Organum Scientiarum, extracted word for word from some manuscript notes of a Life of Sir Nicholas Bacon, in the hand-writing of Bishop Kennet, * among the Lansdown MSS. in the British Museum, are sufficiently curious, and decisive of the humble station of the family immediately before its elevation.

“There was a Popish libel written in Latin, and published in divers languages and countries, against her

* Mus. Brit. Kennet's Coll. Lansdown MSS. No. 981. Plut. 78. G. page 169.

Majesty's proclamation for the search and apprehension of seminary priests * and their receivers, by John Philopatris, as he called himself, in 1592. “The author aggravates the miseries of England, and ascribes them all to their severities against the Catholics, and makes the instruments of that severity and persecution to be Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Treasurer, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham, and Sir Christopher Hutton; and therefore rails against all of them, though the Lord Treasurer was the only man then living. “Speaking of Nicholas Bacon, he was very angry that he and my Lord Treasurer had helpt one another, by the assistance of Sir Anthony Cooke, their father-in-law, and Sir John Cheek, King Edward's schoolmaster, by whom they came both first in favour. He saith that Sir Nicholas Bacon's father, servant to the Abbot of Bury, and keeper of his sheep and cattle, put his son to Gray's Inn, where first he was under-butler; and after, by the augmentation court and attorneyship of the wards, he came to be Lord Keeper, wherein he shewed himself so corrupt and partial for bribery, as never man before or since in that place: for which he allegeth a protestation of Plowden, the famous lawyer, made at the Chancery bar, Bacon being present, that he would never return thither so long as so corrupt a judge should sit in that place; which he performed. “The Lord Treasurer, in a letter written in his own defence, saith of Sir Nicholas Bacon, that albeit his father

* A priest educated at a seminary; a seminarist. “O my conscience, a seminary, he kisses the sticks.” B. Jonson, Barthol. Fair.

was no man of living, (i.e. of real estate) yet was he accounted so wealthy as he left two of his sons stocks of money to be honest merchants; and to the third, who was afterwards Lord Keeper, maintenance for his study in Gray's Inn.” The authority which the Bishop of Peterborough transcribes, is a manuscript in the British Museum,” entitled “An advertisement written to a secretary of my Lord Treasurer's in England, by an English Intelligencer, as he passed through Germany into Italy, concerning a book written in Latin, and published in divers languages and countries, against her Majesty's late proclamation for search and apprehension of seminary priests and their recievers, 1592.” This “advertisement” consists of an account of the charges of the Catholics, and the answers of the Lord Treasurer, whose letter it is said the Catholics had intercepted and published. Of course, the testimony, of John Philopatris, an anonymous partisan, whose statement is obviously false about Sir Nicholas Bacon having been an under-butler, and very doubtful in regard to his having been guilty of bribery is not to be relied on : the malignant assertions of such a writer are perfectly worthless as evidence, except as the occasion of the admissions and explanations of Lord Burhley, the brother-in-law of Sir Nicholas Bacon, that, though the station of the father of Sir Nicholas Bacon was humble, he yet died wealthy enough to set up two of his sons as “honest merchants,” and to maintain the third during the time of his studies.,

* Harleian MSS. 35. 66. d.

« PreviousContinue »