THE FIRST EARL OF SALISBURY 157
with his lordship's privity, God knows," had denounced a deadly feud " to an ancient lady, my mother and his aunt, swearing that he held me for his mortal enemy, and would make me feel it when he could." " Ah, vile wretched urchin," said Lady Russell ; "is it possible ? ' ' Whether it be true or no, madam," answered Bacon, " I refer to my mother, who marvelled when she told me of it that I did but laugh at it, alleging and expounding to her ladyship a Gascon proverb, which was, ' Brane d'asne ne monte pas al ciel.' ' " By God," replied Lady Russell ; " but he is no ass." " Let him go for a mule then," rejoined Bacon, " the most mischievous beast that is." Such is Anthony's version of the interview, and perhaps the best comment on it is the fact that Lady Russell's strong affection for Sir Robert is well known ; only three months before she had written to him thanking God " for the heavenly breath proceeding from a saint so sweet and gracious to me as you write." 1
Sir Robert had now been made Secretary, and Anthony declares that he " finds the Secretaryship a harder province to govern than he looked for, and inwardly beginneth to be a weary of it, as outwardly the world is already of him." 2 But a few weeks later he informs his mother that Secretary Cecil " had of late professed very seriously an absolute amnesty and oblivion of all misconceits passed, with earnest protestation,
1 June I5th, 1596 (Hatfield MSS., VII. 215).
2 Letter to Dr. Hawkins, December nth, 1596 (Birch, II. 227).