Such a patience he had and settled spirit to enter into the least and most exact differences of causes, a fruit no doubt of the exceeding tranquillity and serenity of his mind, which being no ways charged or encumbered, either with fears, remorses, or scruples, but having been noted for a man of the purest goodness, without all fiction or affectation, that hath reigned or lived, made his mind continually present and entire. He likewise approached a degree nearer unto Christianity, and became, as Agrippa said unto St. Paul, "half a Christian," holding their religion and law in good opinion, and not only ceasing persecution, but giving way to the advancement of Christians.

(5) There succeeded him the first Divi fratres, the two adoptive brethren--Lucius Commodus Verus, son to AElius Verus, who delighted much in the softer kind of learning, and was wont to call the poet Martial his Virgil; and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus: whereof the latter, who obscured his colleague and survived him long, was named the "Philosopher," who, as he excelled all the rest in learning, so he excelled them likewise in perfection of all royal virtues; insomuch as Julianus the emperor, in his book entitled Caersares, being as a pasquil or satire to deride all his predecessors, feigned that they were all invited to a banquet of the gods, and Silenus the jester sat at the nether end of the table and bestowed a scoff on everyone as they came in; but when Marcus Philosophus came in, Silenus was gravelled and out of countenance, not knowing where to carp at him, save at the last he gave a glance at his patience towards his wife. And the virtue of this prince, continued with that of his predecessor, made the name of Antoninus so sacred in the world, that though it were extremely dishonoured in Commodus, Caracalla, and Heliogabalus, who all bare the name, yet, when Alexander Severus refused the name because he was a stranger to the family, the Senate with one acclamation said, Quomodo Augustus, sic et Antoninus. In such renown and veneration was the name of these two princes in those days, that they would have had it as a perpetual addition in all the emperors' style. In this emperor's time also the Church for the most part was in peace; so as in this sequence of six princes we do see the blessed effects of learning in sovereignty, painted forth in the greatest table of the world.

(9) But for a tablet or picture of smaller volume (not presuming to speak of your Majesty that liveth), in my judgment the most excellent is that of Queen Elizabeth, your immediate predecessor in this part of Britain; a prince that, if Plutarch were now alive to write lives by parallels, would trouble him, I think, to find for her a parallel amongst women. This lady was endued with learning in her sex singular, and rare even amongst masculine princes--whether we speak of learning, of language, or of science, modern or ancient, divinity or humanity--and unto the very last year of her life she accustomed to appoint set hours for reading, scarcely any young student in a university more daily or more duly. As for her government, I assure myself (I shall not exceed if I do affirm) that this part of the island never had forty-five years of better tines, and yet not through the calmness of the season, but through the wisdom of her regiment. For if there be considered, of the one side, the truth of religion established, the constant peace and security, the good administration of justice, the temperate use of the prerogative, not slackened, nor much strained; the flourishing state of learning, sortable to so excellent a patroness; the convenient estate of wealth and means, both of crown and subject; the habit of obedience, and the moderation of discontents; and there be considered, on the other side, the differences of religion, the troubles of neighbour countries, the ambition of Spain, and opposition of Rome, and then that she was solitary and of herself; these things, I say, considered, as I could not have chosen an instance so recent and so proper, so I suppose I could not have chosen one more remarkable or eminent to the purpose now in hand, which is concerning the conjunction of learning in the prince with felicity in the people.

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
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