Introduction to the third letter of advice to Rutland


This letter was written from Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, to Roger Manners, fifth earl of Rutland (1576-1612), on the occasion of his delayed departure to Europe (see introduction to AdR1). The letter is dated 16 October, and refers to Rutland’s imminent departure (‘at the verie instant of your goinge’) for Europe in the autumn of 1595. On 6 September Rutland approached Sir Robert Cecil for assistance in ‘procuring her Majesty’s hand to my licence’ to travel abroad. He received licence from the Queen to travel for three years with two other men, Robert Welby and Griffith Maddockes, and eight servants) on 26 September; on 4 October it was reported that ‘My lord of Rutland is ryd post to Petworth to take his leave’; and on 25 October, he rode to the coast. Arriving at Flushing (Vlissingen) in early November, he was escorted by Sir Robert Sidney to The Hague before travelling on to Amsterdam.
Essex was intimately involved in Rutland’s plans at this point in his life. Essex’s cousin Robert Vernon was summoned from Oxford to accompany Rutland on the early stages of his tour which led him through the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, Padua (at whose university he matriculated in 1596), and Venice, where he was noted by Essex’s agent there as ‘an affectionate dependant of my most honorable good lorde’. By 1597 Rutland was in France; the tour ended in June of that year when Rutland returned to England to join Essex at Plymouth for the Azores expedition.

Spedding printed AdR3 from witness Ln, which was undated; since he had dated AdR1 as January 1595/6, he assumed that the third letter came from a similar period, and maintained the running head of ‘1595-96’. When Walter Dunn Macray printed the letter from witness F for the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 1891, he included the date ‘16 October’ and suggested 1595 for the year.
All the evidence points to the year being 1595. In addition to Rutland’s imminent departure (detailed above), Essex states that ‘This was written yesternight att St Albans butt so ill written as I was fayne to use my mans hand to copy yt out.’ This suggests that a draft, or perhaps an intended letter, was prepared at St Albans on 15 October; it has now been rewritten by Essex’s man. Essex rode to St Albans, perhaps to visit the royal stables there as part of his duties as Master of the Horse, sometime before 15 October 1595: Rowland White noted on that date that ‘My lord of Essex is gone to St. Albons’, but noted that ‘he willd me to attend hym at Court upon Friday next’, which would have fallen on 17 October. On the 17th, White reported ‘I am going to Lord Essex at Court to attend what he may say’, and on 18 October, from court, he reported that ‘My Lord Essex promises to write’. On either 17 or 18 October, therefore Essex arrived back at court (perhaps the latter, since he missed a privy council meeting on 17 October), so the reference of the letter to being in St Albans on 15 October 1595 is in keeping with Essex’s known whereabouts.

What is the case for Bacon’s authorship of AdR3? Spedding printed the letter but notes, ‘I add it merely to complete the set: for there is nothing either in the style or sustance which would lead me to suspect in it any other hand than Essex’s own’. Vickers, however, sees another hand at play. In his addition to the letter, Essex writes ‘This was written yesternight att St Albans butt so ill written as I was fayne to use my mans hand to copy yt out’ (verso). Vickers argues that, ‘Since the Bacon family house was at Gorhambury, near St Albans, and Essex’s note implies that the treatise was written for him by someone else, this provides an external argument for Bacon’s authorship’. Against this interpretation, Paul Hammer has claimed that Vickers’ dating of the letter to October 1596 is incorrect; and that Bacon was not near St Albans in October 1595, when the letter was in fact written. (It should be noted that, pace Hammer, Vickers does not in fact discuss the dating of AdR3).
It is unlikely but not impossible that Bacon was at Gorhambury or St Albans on 15 October 1595. He was certainly at his house at Twickenham Park, near Richmond Palace, on 11 and 14 October 1595, when he wrote letters to the Lord Keeper, stating ‘I am now at Twicknam Park, where I think to stay.’ Hammer argues that ‘It was therefore physically impossible for Bacon to have written this letter to Rutland, which was clearly penned in some haste by Essex himself.’ This overstates the case somewhat: it was easily possible to reach St Albans from Twickenham Park within a day, although Bacon evidently did not anticipate making such a journey. However, while the weight of the evidence suggests that Bacon was not at St Albans, we should keep separate the composition of the letter, and its final penning. In his own hand, Essex states that the sent letter has been copied out by ‘my man’s hand’ because a previous draft was ‘so ill written’. This could be a standard courtesy trope, to explain why Essex himself had not taken the time to write the entire letter in his own hand to a social equal. Alternatively, it could tell the truth – although what truth that might be is still unclear. Essex may have written the earlier draft himself, as Hammer insists; or he may have had Reynoldes copy out a letter previously drafted by someone else – perhaps Bacon? – in preparation for the long-anticipated moment of Rutland’s departure.
Vickers turns to stylistic evidence to further his case for Bacon’s authorship. While noting that the ‘second’ and third letters to Rutland ‘belong more to the traditional genre of travel-literature’ than the ‘first’, Vickers sees a resemblance between AdR3 and Bacon’s essay ‘Of Travaile’ in the recommendation to use ‘your note booke’, and detects a characteristic Baconian interest in law: ‘by what lawes or Customes it [a country] is governed’ and ‘what is the execucion of iustice in peace’, a concern, Vickers claims ‘not to be found in the average travel-book’. His strongest claim is for the concluding paragraph:
The first thing your lordship must seeke in all this course, is industrie. for as greate difference is betwixt it and idlenes, or betwixt an actiue sprightfull man, and a slothfull, as betwixt a lyving man, and a dead. The second is to dirrect that industrie to good thinges. for els the more you do, the more yll you do, and the faster you goe, the farther you go owt of the way.
Vickers notes that this is a variation on the sententia ‘Melior claudus in via quam cursor extra viam’ (‘better is the lame man in the right way, than a swift runner out of the way’), twice noted by Bacon in the Promus (PFE, # 233, 1240), and later put to use in The Advancement of Learning and Novum Organum, ‘in both cases with considerable moral and emotional emphasis’. To Vickers’ observations, I would add what seems to me a Baconian use of the word ‘inducement’ (see cmts on Page 000, line 000).
However, it must be admitted that Bacon’s claim to authorship here is much less sturdy than in the case of the ‘first’ letter. Hammer suggests, ‘Essex may well have had some “Baconian” ideas in mind when he wrote this letter, but the idea that Bacon was its author cannot be sustained’. I would conclude that, while Bacon’s immediate involvement seems unlikely, it cannot be ruled out; and that the letter is valuable as the conclusion of an intellectual programme, the ‘advice to Rutland’, in which Bacon certainly played a significant part.

Three witnesses of AdR3 are known to survive:
British Library, Additional MS 37232, fo. 97r-v (Ad)
Folger Shakespeare Library, Additional MS 1039 (F)
British Library, Lansdowne MS 238, fos. 158r-159r (La)

British Library, Additional MS 37232, fo. 97r-v (Ad)
Additional 37323 is a very miscellaneous volume, containing materials from as late as the nineteenth century. Ad is part of a sequence (Section Q) of three items, all copies, relating to the earl of Essex, which runs from fo. 94r to fo. 99v, comprising copies of AdR1 (fos. 94r-97r), this letter (fo.97r-v) and a discourse entitled ‘The Omissions of Cales voyage in Anno 1596 – by Robert Devorex Earle of Essex’ (fos. 97v-98v). Fo. 99 is completely blank, but is conjugate with fo. 98. A cover page for this section dates these copies to ‘circ. 1600’. The volume was purchased by the British Museum from Ernest B. Pope, Esq. on 23 August 1905. No further information on provenance is available.

Ad omits the contribution in Essex’s hand: it may be that its source was not the letter as sent, but another draft, perhaps the poorly written draft that Essex ordered to be rewritten?

Folger Shakespeare Library, Additional MS 1039 (F)
The Folger witness is the letter as sent, now unbound. It is a bifolium, folded in the usual manner to form a letter. The letter text covers the first two sides of the four. It is superscribed ‘To the right honorable my verye good lord & Cousin the Earl of Ritland’, and endorsed, in a contemporary hand, ‘ThEarle of Essex to thEarle of Rutland then in his travail’. There is evidence that a seal has been detached. The body of the letter has been identified by Paul Hammer as the hand of Edward Reynoldes (d. 1623), Essex’s personal secretary; it concludes with a few valedictory sentences, subscription and sign manual in Essex’s own hand.
Additional 1039 was previously included in the ‘Hulton manuscript’, as fo. 147. This collection was part of the estate of Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex (1591–1646), the eldest son and heir of AdR3’s signatory. The Essex papers passed into the hands of William Jessop (1603-1675) of Gray’s Inn, clerk to the council of state and to the House of Commons, probably when Jessop acted as legal agent for the executors of the third earl; on Jessop’s death, the papers passed to his only child Anne, who married William Hulton alias Hulton (d. 1694). The papers were still in the possession of the Hulton family, at Hulton Park in Lancashire, when they were calendared for the Historical Manuscripts Commission by Walter Dunn Macray in 1891; most are now at the county record office at Preston and in the British Library. Macray noted that this letter was ‘found amongst confused miscellaneous papers’, and identified it as the ‘third’, ‘hitherto unknown’ letter of which AdR1, printed in Walter Bourchier Devereux’s Lives of the Earls of Essex, was the ‘first’, printing it in full. (Macray was unaware of Spedding’s earlier printing of this letter). For a time the Hulton Manuscript was Loan 23 at the British Library. It was auctioned at Sotheby’s on 14 December 1992; a facsimile of the second page of letter text is included in the catalogue (p. 26).

British Library, Lansdowne MS 238, fos. 158r-159r (Ln)
Lansdowne 238 is described by its cataloguers as ‘a Volume of Miscellanies’. Ln is part of item 3, a long sequence of Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline letters copied in the same hand (fos. 80v-161v), many of them related to either Essex or Bacon. It is believed to have been ‘made by some person in the service of Sir Gervas Clifton’ (fo. 80). The letter immediately preceding AdR3 is a copy of a letter by Henry Wootton, dated ‘17. of August 1629’; it is followed by another, undated letter by Wootton. This suggests that La can be no earlier than late 1629. Since Ln contains an extract from the contribution in Essex’s hand, it is probable that this is copied or derived from F.

Choice of copytext
My copytext is the holograph letter F, written by Edward Reynoldes, with autograph additions by Essex. Essex’s comments imply that the body of the letter had existed in a previous copy, but this has not been located. Both Ad and Ln contain variants, none of which improves on F; they have both been collated here.


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