Based on the True Historical Characters
A young Francis Bacon age 18 and his French lover Queen Marguerite of Navarre
The Court of France 1576-1579
(edited) from Francis Bacon's Personal Life Story
......When Francis Bacon (age 16) was sent to France, "direct from her majesty's hand" with Queen Elizabeth's Ambassador, Sir Amyas Paulet, the mind of this extraordinary genius would be necessarily a welter of the conflicting emotions. From being a commoner, the son of a lawyer, (Sir Nicholas Bacon) there had burst upon him, within the last few days, the stupendous, undreamt truth that he was of the Blood Royal, a scion of the House of Tudor, the Queen's own son, flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone, the head of the English aristocracy as the Prince of Wales (though not "apparent") and heir to the Throne, to which he could have a reasonable expectancy of succeeding in spite of the fact that he was the offspring of a private morganatic marriage, and was born only four months after his parents' weddding: A "reasonable expectancy" because the Queen had the Parliamentary power to name her "Successor" who might even be the "Natural Issue" of her body (not necessarily the "Legitimate" Issue), the Queen having refused to have the word "Lawful" inserted in the Act of Succession. In 1571, twelve years after Elizabeth's Succession, Parliament at the Queen's request made it a penal offence to speak of any other Successor than the "Natural Issue" of the Queen. On this point William Camden the historian says:
I myself....have heard some oftentimes say the word Natural was inserted into the Act of purpose by Leicester, that he might one day obtrude upon the English some bastard son of his for the Queen's Natural Issue. (Elizabeth, p. 167)
For a long time after this--indeed to the end of his life--he appears to have regarded himself as the Queen's "Natural Son" and not a true "illegitimate" although born before his time. Of these facts he would be aware when learned the truth from Lady Bacon's own lips.
One can imagine how the mind of this youth of sixteen, who already had a range of intellectual accomplishments beyond any of his contemporaries--the ripe, mature, adult mind of a highly trained scholar--would traverse the possibilities of his position, the wonderful vistas of national and individual progress that would be unrolled before his inner vision, the good that he might do for the souls, minds and bodies of men if he were but firmly fixed in the saddle of power and authority. Would the Queen ever acknowledge him as her son and heir? Or was he fated to wear the "Bacon"Mask riveted over his personality for all time? Was his life destined to drift in the shoals and shallows? Or was he to be known to the great personages in his mother's Stage-Court where "the Stars in Secret Influence COMMENT (Sonnet-Diary, 16-xv) as "the Queen's Bastard?" Was he to be lifted high among men as a Prince, a Ruler and a King? Must he prepare himself for a Great Place? Were his foreign travels part of a plan to educate him for his responsibilities? Only time could answer these questions.
Francis Bacon has thus early in life the golden opportunity of becoming an experienced citizen of the world with all the special and peculiar educative power that travel brings. His environment mirrored itself in his mind a thirst for knowledge, making more complex "the most exquisitively constructed brain ever created" (Macaulay). He went to France with his mind afire with the thought that he was the secret son of "The Virgin Queen", the next Succession to the English Throne. His one fear was lest the Queen held to her threat to bar him from the Succession because he had stayed her hand from injuring Lady Mary Scales. Was it a mere outburst of temper, the natural anger at her secret being known and discussed, or was the bar-sinister intended to be a settled policy of State? He was bewildered by the possibilities into which he was plunged and what the future would bring forth..... whether for good or ill.
The French Court was as licentious, however, as it was brilliantly intellecual. Marguerite de Valois had been married to King Henry of Navarre for reasons of State. Though her beauty had inspired all the French poets and litterateurs, her husband had been so indifferent to her that the marriage had never been consummated. Indeed, he flaunted his innumerable gallantries before her eyes. He was passionately attached to the Baroness de Sauve who virtually lived with him as his mistress. Marguerite of Navarre was, however, the recognized leader of the Court in ways and manners, especially on the social and intellectual side. Her jocund behaviour, her gallant attire, her rich beauty, the snowy whiteness of her complexion, her crow-black hair, and her accomplishments made her the natural leader over her fair competitors. She was the centre of attraction.
Her mother was the notorious Catherine de Medicis,
for ever to be associated with the hideous massacre of St.
Bartholomew which had taken place only some four years previously.
Marguerite was therefore a Catholic. Her nominal husband espoused the
Protetant cause. From he birth in 1553, she had breathed a vitiated
moral atmosphere, but there is no clear evidence that Marguerite of
Navarre ever committed herself sexually in spite of her open
indescretions. Historians and biographers are at variance. Writers
who take a low view of her character are counterbalanced by others
who are warm in their praises as to her virtue. We do not yet know
the truth and must reserve our judgement.
Literature, music, and art ran in her blood, for the first Marguerite, her ancestress (she was the third Marguerite), was a poetess and the creator of the Heptameron, a collection of Tales. Marguerite of Navarre was brilliantly clever with almost a touch of genius. She possessed high literary gifts and a wide range of knowledge. She was also a superb conversationalist.
"By reason of her famous Memoirs an enduring radiance will attach to her name," wrote Sainte-Beuve.
Her beauty of mind and intellectual gifts were apparently only equalled by her physical charms, for Brantome in a perfect panegyric of her life wrote :
To speak now of the beauty of this rare Princess: I believe that all those who are, will be, or ever been, will be plain beside it and cannot have beauty.... No Goddess was ever seen more beautiful... To suitably proclaim her charms, merits, virtues, God must lengthen the earth and heighten the sky, since space.... is lacking for the flight of her perfections and renown. (Life,p1).
Whatever she chose to wear, elaborate or simple, the effect was ever the same--all hearts were dazzled, all hearts ravished, so that it was impossible to say which became her best and made her most beautiful, admirable and lovable.
She was the Queen of Beauty and the Queen of fashion as well. (Ibid,p.29).
When Francis Bacon arrived at the French Court a divorce was being arranged at her instigation. Circumstances dragged out the proceedings but she did eventually divorce King Henry and retired into semi-private life, constructing a magnificient mansion on the Seine, facing the Louvre, completing it in 1608. Here she spent the last years of her life, dying in 1615, aged nearly sixty-three.
Marguerite was in the prime of young womanhood, in the hey day of youth, aged twenty-five, when Francis Bacon first became acquainted with her, under the most congenial surroundings. Her husband's apartments might be crowded with politicians, schemers, and wasters, as became a hotbed of intrigue where plots were hatched, the Huguenot pastor versus the Catholic priest, but Queen Marguerite's salon was thronged with thinkers and scholars. They were men of a very different calibre, being philosophers, scientists, poets, litterateurs, inventors, and the like, attracted by the sheer genius of her intellectual personality.
Thus it was that when Francis Bacon was introduced to the French Court, he found it vibrant with a spirit vastly different from that which animated Queen Elizabeth's. He was in a different atmosphere, a congenial one, in which every branch of thought was being pressed into the service of "Living"--under the gracious nod of a Royal Personage.
Ronsard, the Prince of French poets, was the head of a semi-secret fellowship called the Pleide , which numbered men like Du Bartas, then at the height of his career, Baif, and D'Aubigne. The fame of "The Immortals" was at its zenith when Francis was introduced to this happy band of brothers.....almost at the moment when the result of their labours was evoking the acclamation of the French nation.
To understand Francis Bacon's literary life the student must know something of this French Literary organization, its ideals and what it accomplished.
Francis Bacon fell in love almost immediately on his arrival at the French Court; and the woman who stirred him was no less a person than Queen Marguerite herself. In a book published in 1621, six years after her death, written in Latin under the mask of "John Barclay," entitled John Barclay his Argenis , Francis Bacon tells us of his feelings about the fair Marguerite. In later editions of this book a Key is given to the names John Barclay uses. "Argenis" is Marguerite, Francis being named and Queen Elizabeth also. There is no possibility of error.
What I call to mind the beauty and fortunes of Marguertite, and silently celebrated the good hap of the matchless Navarre in such a love, I began to myself to like and admire those things which I had before quietly beheld without being moved by them; for what was to be found more beautiful than Marguerite?
Was there ever such a grace, and to so great birth, had added so many virtues? Had she no hereditary right, and if out all the virgins of France, the most deserving were to be elected, there would be none more worthy to be raised to the crown before her. Her wisdom, modesty, and discourse beyond her sex; her beauty almost divine......
My imagination dwelt upon these things with curious delight, not yet knowing that if a man desires to be free, and to conquer passion, he has need of much fortitude when love begins to speak.... Envy and the sickness of rivalry grew upon me. Pensive, and my soul a captive, did I leave that orchard... and to render my malady more vehement, I supped alone. Yet when silent and in private I heard nothing but love speak. So little by little I gave myself up to those cares which within a few days tortured me as a lover, with pains such as before I had never known.
There is not, however, anything very remarkable in the fact that Francis and Marguerite should fall in love with each other. While she was a beautiful woman he had an equally striking personality, with a mind far beyond his years and was physically a mature adult. In view of extraordinary mind, her literary aspirations, her wide knowledge and range of reading, and the outstanding fact that her cast of intellect was more akin to Francis Bacon's than that of anyone else at the French Court-- save Ronsard--it is inconceivable that such persons with so much in common would not be rapidly drawn together by the sheer force of mental gravitation. They were both genuises of similar tastes, both had their private problems through husband and mother, both needed sympathy, both longed for the ideal things of life and their establishment on earth and both were of the Blood Royal....though one was under a cloud as a concealed Prince.
Was his aristocratic lineage known at the French Court? I am sure it was whispered under the rose in the highest circles that the probable future King of England was among them. It would be recalled that Dame Rumour had visited all the Continental Courts, Spain, Italy, France, years previously, whispering into open ars of the "Dwellers on Form and Favour" that the Virgin Queen Elizabeth" had been secretly married to Lord Robert Dudley and had borne him at least two sons. It would be remembered too, how Throckmorton, the then English Ambassador in Paris, had taken upon himself to warn the Queen of her peril in playing with fire. Those whispered scandals relating to Elizabeth that were in circulation some sixteen years previously, can reasonably be assumed to have been revived and commented on in view of the extraordinary likeness between the Francis Bacon and the Queen. It would natural to ask--who is this handsome youth under the wing of the Ambassador Paulet who has the Open Sesame to all the highest ranks of French aristocracy by virtue of his having been sent abroad direct from the Queen's hand? That she had sent him away from the English Court would be bound to leak out privately through those kind friends who simply live to regale tid-bids of scandal.
Marguerite was aware of his real identity from their first private meeting, and though there are no open love letters in being, and no documentary evidence of the ordinary kind in sight, there is far better proof than the conjectures and traditional myths so whole-heartedly accepted as verified truths by Stratfordians, for the youth Francis DID leave a record of printed evidence...a series of Sonnets that he wrote to her, their true meaning having been discovered recently. The discovery goes far to change all our previous conceptions of the Elizabethan era.It explains much that has been enigmatic in Francis Bacon's life, and it definitely establishes the relationship that existed between them. His passion for Marguerite had the direct result of bringing into being the most remarkable diary of emotion ever written. "When he supped alone silent and in private, hearing love speak, with cares that tortured him as a lover" he began to unburden himself by outpouring his emotions in verse. And throughout the years to old age, in all the great crises of his life he found heart-ease, an outlet, by pursuing the habit he had acquired when in France. The Marguerite Sonnets were the beginnings of the mysterious body of verse known today as Shake-spear's Sonnets. They became literally and truly his Sonnet -Diary. It was written in secret and kept, so the author tells us, " in sure Wards of Trust that to my muse my Jewels of Emotion might unused stay." (Sonnet Diary. 105-xlviii).
From his contact with Marguerite he acquired the habit of clothing his emotions in imaginative terms. They were the true beginnings of what was described by Francis Bacon's friends as "Living Art." They knew his secret, the art of writing poetry of perfection. He was a highly sensitive soul who suffered the rapture and agony of varying conflicting emotions all his life. He suffered more intensely than the average man. Few have been placed on the rack of fate more than the concealed Prince who wore the Bacon mask...
The first two Sonnets to Marguerite tell the entire story of his passion. He writes to her as a person fully acquainted with his birth secret. He says that for the moment the Stars do not favour him. He cannot boast of "Public Honour and Proud Titles" which are justly his. Fortune has barred him from such a Triumph.
He then subtly alludes to the fact that he has been razed forth from the book of honour by an unlucky chance, "like some famous warrior, who, after a thousand victories, once foiled, is straightaway regarded with ignominy and all the rest forgot for which he toiled."
He slips in the though that even "Great Princes" may die in their pride within themselves at the nod of the Sovereign, just as the "Marygold" (marigold) may wither if too much in the Sun's eye. The original printing of "Mary" in the "1609 Quarto" is a hint that the Sonnet is written to a woman associated with "marigold" which was Marguerite's favourite flower. He also enfolds the motif which called the Sonnet into being, the exultant note of a lover who is going to immortalize his mistress. This was apparently his first essay....the first Sonnet destined to be published after he was dead under the pen-name of "Shake-speare." The companion Sonnet (43-xviii) has long been regarded as the finest Love-Sonnet in the English language. It is as follows:
In the next three Sonnets he tells Marguerite how his Eye hath played the Painter and stippled her Beauty's form in the table of his heart. He describes how the Eye and Heart were at mortal war to divide the conquest of her sight. He then describes the quarrel in such legal terms that Lord Campbell says:
This Sonnet (45 xlvi) is so intensely legal in its language and imagery that without a considerable knowledge of English forensic procedure it cannot be fully understood.
This fact is perfectly natural
seeing that Francis had always lived in a purely legal atmosphere
with Lord Keeper Bacon, quite apart from having been torn away from
his legal studies at Gray's Inn when he was so hurriedly sent to
France by the Queen.
In Sonnet 47 lxxvii he refers to her literary efforts. He knows she is collecting materials for a book and he refers to the blank pages of her diary which will soon be filled with incidents and thoughts that will bear imprint of her mind. He says, "Commit your thoughts to these vacant leaves and thou shalt find those children nursed, delivered from thy brain to take a new acquaintance of thy mind; they shall profit thee and much enrich thy Book." The "Book" was afterwards known as her Memoirs . A mental creation was always regarded as "Child" by Francis Bacon. Twenty-six years afterwards(1605) he wrote to his University when presenting them with his book, The Advancement of Learning, "I desire to lay in your bosom my NEW-BORN CHLD."
The next eight Sonnets were written when he was on his travels to different countries. They describe the emotions on leaving her(48-L). "How heavy do I journey on my way, when what I seek, my weary travel's end, doth teach that Ease and that Repose to say, 'Thus far the miles are measured from thy Friend.' His mode of travel is by relays of post-horses. He uses a beast that plods duly on tired by his weight of woe for "My Grief lies onward and my Joy behind." The mention of "Posting" indicates that his journeys were long ones.
The remaining Sonnets in the Canto give a wonderful insight into the poet's psychic and psychological knowledge. They not only show that he was familiar with the wonderful powers of the mind but that he, himself, had developed Sixth Sense which brought him en rapport with the unseen world beyond our normal senses. He indicates that he had a knowledge of telepathy,clairvoyance, the human etheric body which often traversed the astral plane at night-time which "could jump both sea and land ; as soon as THINK the Place where he would be." All this esoteric information is quietly told under his confession of love and his torment at his journeying away from her. When Francis the lover retires to rest he goes in thought a pilgrimage to her and sometimes he suggests her double or spiritual body visits him, for his "Soul's Imaginary Sight (clairvoyant perception) presents thy Shadow to my Sightless View like a Jewel hung in Ghastly Night making Black Night beauteous." He sees her etheric body by the light of her aura. "Is it thy Spirit that thou send'st from Thee so FAR from Home into deeds to pry? he asks. That we may know he is on business bent of some kind he slips in that he is "Travail tired."i.e."Work tired." He is not travelling for pleasure.
The second Canto to Marguerite opens with the avowal that the preciousness of her love is above all things, in the possession of her he possesses everything.
"Some Glory in their BIRTH , some in their Skill, Wealth, Bodies' Force, Garments, Hawks, Hounds, or an adjunct Pleasure wherein it finds a joy above the rest. But these particulars are not my measure, all these I better in one general Best. Thy Love is Better than High BIRTH TO ME. And having Thee of all Men's Pride I boast." He then fears lest she should take all this away "and me most wretched make. But do thy worst to steal away for Term of Life thou art assured mine; and my Life no longer than Thy Love will stay for it depends upon that Love of Thine. O what a Happy Title do I find, Happy to have thy Love, Happy to die." (57-xcii.).
He knows, too, all the unclean things that go on in the Court and so he begs her to take care. "Heaven in thy creation did decree that in thy face sweet love should ever dwell. How like Eve's Apple doth thy Beauty grow, if thy Sweet Virtue answer not thy Show." He continues his warning notes, and shows that he is not blind to her frailties:
How sweet and Lovely dost thou make the Shame,
Which like a Canker in the Fragrant Rose,
Doth Spot the Beauty of thy Budding Name!
O, in what Sweets dost thou thy Sins enclose!
The Tongue that tells the Story of thy Days
Making lascivious comments on thy Sport
Cannot dispraise but in a kind of praise.
The next Sonnet was the result of having been to a Royal Ball given by King Henry and the Queen which had lasted until the small hours of the morning. He said his farewell to Marguerite privately, when the sun was rising in the East. When he is alone his thoughts run riot about her appearance, her face, he eyes, her dress.... from which we know that Marguerite was a brunette, dark complexion,dark eyes, full and round, more glorious than the "Morning Sun of Heaven or the Star that ushers in the Even." Her Black Dress suited her eyes that looked upon him like "Loving Mourners." And so the poet "Swears Beauty itself is Black, and all thy Foul that thy Complexion lack." And from the secret message in the poem we learn tht the emotion which called it into being was "King Henry's Ball," which had lasted until the early hours of the morning when the lovers had welcomed together the dawn and the rising sun. "Hush! We see the East.....Farewell!"
It is a fact in history that this time Queen Marguerite created a sensation at a State Ball by apppearing in a wonderful black gown, which matched her black hair, eyebrows, and complexion.
Further evidence of affection is shown by Sonnet 62-cxxviii in which Francis describes his emotions while Marguerite plays the virginal.... "My Music...How I envy those Jacks that nimbly leap to kiss thy Hand!"
The last Canto to her begins with a Sonnet written some little time before his return to England. He had then been of the Continent upwards of three years. He writes, 65-civ.:
To me, Fair Friend, you never can be old, for as you were when first your Eye I eyed, such seems your Beauty still: Three Winters cold have from the Forests shook Three Summers' pride; Three beauteous Springs to Yellow Autumn turned in process of the Seasons have I seen. Three April perfumes in Three hot Junes burned since first I saw you Fresh which yet are Green...
Hear this, thou Age unbred: "Ere your born was Beauty's Summer dead."
Long months afterwards--after his return to England--he has preserved in another Sonnet his re-affirmation that his Love is stronger than ever, for it has grown. "Might I not, then, say "NOW I love you best'? Love is a Babe; Then may I not say so to give full growth to that which still doth grow?" (66-cxv.). Years later, when all hope had vanished of ever being acknowledged by the Queen and succeeding to the Throne, he wrote:
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.....
Yet, in these Thoughts, my Self 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.
Francis Bacon never married his Marguerite. But he treasures her in his heart as an ideal, and in the last four Sonnets he mingles her as an idealized Love with other Loves--literature, Masonry, his wife Alice, the Earth-Mother--that have taken possession of his life during the marching years. The last Sonnet he writes about her was after she had passed to the Higher Life. He says he knows the lost Ideal is not dead. She still lives.
Thy Bosom (the Bosom of Mother Earth) is endeared with all Hearts,
Which I, by lacking, have supposed Dead;
And there reigns Love and all Love's Loving parts,
And all those Friends which I thought buried...but
Thou art the Grave where Buried Love dothe LIVE,
Hung with the Trophies of my Lovers gone...
Their images I loved I view in THE,
And thou (All THEY) hast all the All of Me.
This entirely new evidence--which is indisputable--alters the entire scholastic outlook respecting the character of Francis Bacon. I have stressed it at length because it shows unmistakably that instead of being a cold, calculating cynic, he was the very reverse. He was warm hearted, emotional, sensitive and, as is the way with exceptionally fine fibred natures, he could not bare his heart to the world and betray he inne most feelings. But he did discharge his feelings in a way unique that only a genius could have imagined.....the manipulation of a Sonnet carrying in it's heart the truth of the particular emotion that called it into being; and he also made provision for the Secret of the Sonnets not to be known to the general world for long generations until all the principal actors were dust, when no harm could be done to anyone by the Diary's disclosures.
Unless we give Francis Bacon's Diary full consideration, regarding it as basis of authority of his inner life, his aims, his ideals, we cannot possibly understand the springs of his actions. The writing of biography without the light is sheds is a mere ploughing of the sands, a waste of time and paper. Francis Bacon's Personal Poems are the hidden factor which enters into the problem of his life and falsifies the conclusions of the majority of his previous biographers.
The Sonnet-Diary is confirmed by historical facts...every Theme, every Canto, every Poem. During the years 1576-7 Sir Amyas Paulet and Francis Bacon, with the ambassadorial train, went on tour with the French Court visiting Blois, Poicitiers, and other places. Young Francis treasured up all he saw abroad, Calais, Rouen, Orleans, Tours, Rheims, Bordeaux, Guienne, and Gascony. He made notes and reflections for the future use of all he saw and heard. Nothing was too great or too small to escape his attention. Even the embittered Macaulay is forced to admit that :
He made a tour through several Provinces and we have abundant proof that during his stay on the Continent, he did not neglect literary and scientific pursuits....
There was a striking peculiarity of his understanding. With great minuteness of observation, he had an amplitude of comprehension such as has never yet been vouchsafed to any human being. (Essay on Francis Bacon)
"During this period,"
writes E. D. Johnson, author of The First Folio of Shakespeare,
"Francis Bacon published a book called Beautiful Blossoms under the name of John Byshop which was printed in London by Henry Cocklyn, he who published the First Part of a book called The French Academy, a thick Folio volume of 1,038 pages, double columns, which was the really the first encyclopedia which appeared in any language."
During 1578 which, as we have seen, gave rise to eight wonderful Sonnets to Marguerite, he appears to have toured independently, studying matters pertaining to Government, and Statecraft and other subjects.....some of an esoteric nature. A letter from Sir Thomas Bodley to Francis indicates this tour and that he and his "friends"were paying his expenses. (See Parker Woodward, p.21).
"During his sojourn in France we still hear of him studying and writing," says Mrs. Henry Pott. (Francis Bacon and His Secret Society, p.104.)
His independent tours took him to Spain, Italy, Germany, Vienna, Padua, Verona, Florence, if not on his first visit to the Continent, on his second in 1581-2. (See S.A.E. Hickson, The Prince of Poets, p. 198) His industry was prodigious. Though plunged in the midst of riotous, courtly dissipation the only record of him was that he "was still observing." At the end of his European travel-tours, we can imagine the pile of information this rapid worker and thinker had digested and assimilated. Love has had the result of quickening his mental activities to produce something notable to lay at the feet of his mistress.
Sir Amyas Paulet knew, of course, of Francis Bacon's affaire de coeur with Queen Marguerite and had duly acquainted Queen Elizabeth. One letter at least passed between the two Queens. Sir Amyas apparently favoured the match. Elizabeth became uneasy and :
Francis (probably recalled) came back to England--nominally with despatches--but really with a scheme whereby the Queen was to help Marguerite to get a divorce that Francis might subsequently marry her. This was in 1578.( P. Woodward, Sir Francis Bacon , p13.)
The Queen refused her consent. She would not allow her son (about whom she has not yet made up her mind whether to acknowledge him openly or not) to marry a divorced person who was a Catholic. This put an end to the idea of marriage but not altogether to the Royal Romance, for he continued to treasure Marguerite in his heart all his life.
See: Francis Bacon's Personal Life Story by Alfred Dodd