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Portraiture, of the illustrious Author, by Ben. Jonson, his Contemporary, in his " Discoveries," p. 101, Sfc.
There happened in my time, one noble Speaker, [Lord Verulam] who was full of gravity in his speaking. His language (where he could spare or pass by a jest) was nobly censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more expressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of the own graces. His hearers could not cough or look aside from him without loss. He commanded, where he spoke; and had his judge* angry and pleased at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him, was, lest he should make an end.
Lord Egerton, the Chancellor, a great and
grave orator, &c. But his learned and able (though unfortunate) successor, [Lord Bacon] is he, who hath filled up all members, and performed that in our tongue, which may be compared or preferred, either to insolent Greece or haughty Rome. In short, within his view, and about his times, were all the wits born, that could honour a language or help study. Now things daily fall; wits grow downward, and eloquence goes backward: so that he may be named, and stand as the mark and aKfitj of our language.
My conceit of his person was never increased toward him, by his place or honours. But I have and do reverence him for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his work, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages.
To the Right Honourable my very good Lord, the Duke of Buckingham his Grace, Lord High Admiral of England.
Soi ,OMON says, "a good name is a precious ointment;" and, I assure myself, such will your Grace's name be with posterity; for your fortune and merit both have been eminent; and you have planted things that are like to last. I do now publish my Essays; which, of all my other works, have been most current: for that, as it seems, they come home to men's business and bosoms. I have enlarged them both in number and weight; so that they are indeed a new work. I thought it therefore agreeable to my affection and obligation to your Grace, to prefix your name before them, both in English and Latin; for I do conceive, that the Latin Volume of them (being in the universal language) may last as long as books last. My Instauration I dedicated to the King; my History of Henry the Seventh, (which I have now also translated into Latin) and my Portions of Natural History, to the Prince. And these I dedicate to your Grace, being of the best fruits that, by the good increase which God gives to my pen and labours, I could yield. God lead your Grace by the hand.
Your Grace's most obliged
and faithful Servant,
Fr. St. ALBAN.