For the four following years Essex remained at home, resolved to secure 'domestical greatness.' He used his territorial influence during the parliamentary election of 1593 to return his own nominees for Staffordshire and Lichfield, Tamworth and Newcastle. On 25 Feb. 1592-3 he became a privy councillor, and he regularly attended the House of Lords during the session, where he was appointed almoner of a fund raised in the house in aid of discharged soldiers. He soon suspected that Burghley's son Robert, whose influence was rapidly growing, was the chief obstacle to his own advance, and obvious signs of rivalry between the two men brought to Essex's aid all who deemed themselves injured by the Cecilian ascendency. Chief among these was Francis Bacon, then a struggling barrister, who apparently anticipated a great career for Essex, and affected to regard him as 'the fittest instrument to do good to the state.' From the first Essex regarded Bacon with real affection, and an arrangement was come to in 1592 by which Bacon was to supply the earl with political advice. The 'device' with which Essex celebrated `the queen's day,' 17 Nov. 1592, is ascribed by Mr. Spedding to Bacon (cf. Mr. Bacon in Praise of Knowledge; Mr. Bacon's Discourse in Praise of his Sovereign). But at first the connection only showed itself outwardly, in Essex's persistent and over-sanguine appeals to Elizabeth, first in 1593 to promote Bacon to the vacant attorney-generalship, and again in 1594 to confer on him the post of solicitor-general. Both applications failed. Essex exhibited his customary impatience under defeat, but he also showed characteristic generosity in consoling Bacon for his disappointment by presenting him in 1595 with land at Twickenham worth 1,500l. Meanwhile Bacon's influence on Essex was making itself apparent. As if to secure for himself a new character for sobriety, the earl distributed at court early in 1596 copies of a letter on foreign travel, purporting to be addressed by him to his young cousin, the Earl of Rutland. The weighty style and sentiment prove that Bacon rather than Essex was the author of the document, although it was published as the earl's in 'Profitable Instructions for Travellers' in 1633. Three other letters of the same date (1596) were clearly written by Bacon under like conditions. Two were continuations of the advice offered by Essex to Rutland; the third, addressed to Sir Fulke Greville, was a comprehensive essay on the best course of study to be pursued by a Cambridge freshman (Spedding, ii. 5-26).
To further strengthen his position at court, Essex concentrated his chief energies on foreign affairs. Francis Bacon probably suggested this field of work; he certainly introduced his brother Anthony [q.v.] into Essex's service about 1593, so that the earl might benefit by Anthony's unrivalled knowledge of foreign politics and his intimacy with English agents abroad. Essex and Anthony Bacon were soon fast friends, and in October 1595 Anthony took up his residence in Essex House. Through Anthony, Essex was in repeated communication with all parts of Europe, and his correspondents included Henry IV of France and James Vl of Scotland. His house rivalled the foreign office in the quality and quantity of its `intelligence,' and besides Anthony Bacon and his clerk, Edward Reynolds, Essex kept in regular employment Henry Cuffe [q. v.] and Henry Wotton [q. v.], with two others named Temple and Jones. Francis Bacon was also freely consulted by Essex and his brother Anthony.
In 1592 Essex welcomed Don Antonio to England, and with his aid tracked out in 1594 an alleged conspiracy on the part of Spanish spies in England to poison the queen. When Essex informed Elizabeth that the chief actor was her Jewish physician, Roderigo Lopez, she emphasised her incredulity by calling her favourite 'a rash and temerarious youth.' Essex succeeded, however, in collecting sufficient evidence to secure the doctor's conviction soon afterwards(see Goodman, Court i. 145-56; Gent. Mag. February 1880). Bacon drew up `a true report' justifying Essex's action. Subsequently Elizabeth consulted him with greater confidence, and would occasionally give him a foreign letter to read and answer before Burghley saw it. The queen's refusal of the command of an expedition bound for Brest in July 1594 caused a quarrel of the usual kind, and in 1595 Parsons, the Jesuit, tried to compromise Essex by dedicating to him `A Conference about the Succession to the Crown of England,' in which the claims of the Spanish infanta were advanced, on the ground of her descent from John of Gaunt. But in November 1595 the queen was more favourable than usual to Essex; he drew up for her a memorial about protecting England from foreign invasion (printed in 1794), and entertained her, on the anniversary of her accession, with two pageants, one by Francis Bacon and the other by Essex himself (see Spedding, i. 374-91). The Cecils looked with jealous eyes on Essex's rapid advance, and in the autumn of 1596 a sister of Lord Burghley made a determined but fruitless effort to detach Anthony Bacon from the earl's service.
Early in 1596 Essex advocated an attack on the shipping in Spanish ports as the best