Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 8 - Equity Pity Cunning Cavendish


Act 2.Sc 4.13

“Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;
And to bestow your pity on me,
…… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . having here
No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
Of equal friendship and proceeding.”

Queen Katherine defends herself against two powerful and cunning cardinals (Wolsey and Campeius).
“I am a simple woman, much too weak
To oppose your cunning.”

Katherine to Wolsey:
“You have by fortune and his highness’ favours
Gone slightly o’er low steps.”
Act 2. Sc 4.109

Wolsey (near to death):
“I know myself now, and I feel within me
A peace above all earthly dignities,
A still and quiet conscience.” 3.2.378
[Arden notes: “Cavendish, EETS, is the ultimate, though indirect, source for this exchange, channeled via Stow 1592. Cavendish’s Life of Wolsey was not published until 1641 (and then in a partial version as The Negotiations of Thomas Wolsey), and there is no reason to presume that the playwrights had access to a manuscript” From Arden p. 169. Therefore, it is assumed that, as a source, it must have been indirect.]

Katherine appeals to a supreme equity judge, because the author of their speeches knew as well as Bacon, that the office of a common law judge is to interpret the law, and that the supreme equity judge alone can bestow pity. Francis Bacon was a specialist in Equity and became Head of Equity as Lord Chancellor.
“Take care and provide that our subjects have equal and indifferent justice.” (Life, v, p. 395)
“…equal and indifferent terms and motives of affection.”
(Life, iii, p. 205)

“ . . . so when there appeareth on either side a high hand, violent prosecution, cunning advantages taken, combination, power, great counsel, then is the virtue of the judge seen to make inequality equal; that he may plant his judgment as upon an even ground.” (Essay 56- Of Judicature, 1612)

“ . . . those that are advanced by degrees are less envied than those that are advanced suddenly.”  (Essay 9– Of Envy, 1625)

“There is nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die than the quieted conscience.”
(Essay 2– Of  Death, 1612)

However, a direct source is easily possible. Bacon, as a later Lord Chancellor, presumably, would have had easy access to Cavendish’s unpublished manuscript Life of Wolsey, as one of Wolsey’s successors in office.

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