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HENRICUM PRINCIPEM WALLIÆ

ELOGIUM FRANCISCI BACONI.

PREFACE.

This notice of the character of Prince Henry was first printed by Birch in his edition of Bacon's works, 1763, from a manuscript in the Harleian Collection (1893, fo. 75.); the only copy I have met with. It is written in a hand of the time; I think in that of one of Bacon's own people. At any rate there can be no doubt as to the authorship: it bears all the marks of Bacon's style; of which it is one of the best specimens. Birch conjectured that it was intended to be sent to De Thou for use in his history, as the memorial of Elizabeth had been. This is very probable. But I am not aware that anything is known about it, beyond what it carries on its face. Neither does it seem to require any explanation or illustration ; unless it be worth while to say that the rumour mentioned in the last sentence — the rumour that Prince Henry died by poison — was revived during the trial of the murderers of Sir Thomas Overbury, and obtained for a while an importance which it did not deserve, from some dark words prematurely dropped by Sir Edward Coke. It seems that Franklin, the apothecary who was concerned in the poisoning of Overbury, finding himself condemned to death, began to talk of certain dreadful disclosures which he could make if he liked; how more were to be poisoned than were yet known; how the Earl and Countess of Somerset had the most aspiring minds that ever were heard of; how the Earl never loved the Prince nor the Lady Elizabeth ; how strange it was that the King kept an outlandish physician about his person and the person of the Prince deceased; “thereon” he said “ lieth a long tale;" how he knew things he was ashamed to speak of; and lastly (to come to the point) how “ he could make one discovery that should deserve his life :” with other things of the same kind — devices of a condemned man to put off the day of his hanging. On the strength of these hints, and (strange to say) before he had made further inquiry, Coke gave out a mysterious intimation in open court of iniquities not yet brought to light, 6 which he knew of;” and even added a direct allusion to the death of the Prince, as a mystery concerning which “he knew somewhat.” Hearing such things from the oracle on the Bench, the people naturally looked for the revelation of some new horror; and when nothing came, they as naturally supposed that it had been for some mysterious reason hushed up, and so betook themselves to strange conjectures, which begot a brood of strange rumours. But I believe the whole truth is that when Franklin's disclosures came to be investigated, it was found (as might have been expected) that there was nothing in them. Several examinations may be seen in the State Paper Office, taken down in Coke's own hand, evidently suggested by the information of Franklin, and aiming to elicit evidence in corroboration of it; but they come to nothing whatever, beyond a few

vague rumours and old wives' stories. These papers sufficiently explain the only thing connected with Prince Henry's death which ever required explanation, — namely what it was that Coke “knew” about it. What he said was quite enough to account for all the rest.

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