Francis meets King James for the first time
For James, his Kingdom was there for his enjoyment and nothing else. He was not particularly interested in his subjects, except to the extent that they could supply him with his needs and keep him out of wars.
He had noted in his discussions with the noblemen visiting him a number of references to the English parliament. He had not given it much thought until now, but could see that it might help to have allies in that institution. It was here that Francis Bacon was of interest to him. He had heard of Bacon’s prestige as the eloquent de facto leader of parliament, and wanted to size him up. Was he a potential ally or a potential threat? Or both? He had listened silently while Cecil told him of Bacon’s Tudor background and the risks he posed to the Stuart line, a fact, which he knew already from his own intelligence network, but did not tell Cecil. He knew also about Bacon’s blood brother Essex, whom he greatly admired, and of Bacon’s role in his trial, which did not bother him.
James recalled with respect Bacon’s role in establishing the new Freemason degree. He had heard his Scottish colleagues praise him as a very competent and knowledgeable man while at the same time driven entirely by the highest spiritual motives. This recent news from Sir John Davies of Bacon’s authorship of the Shakespeare works came as a surprise to him. His curiosity about this many-sided man was thus whetted even more. A page knocked on the door to tell him that Mr. Bacon had arrived.
Francis entered the Pakington study, bowed politely, and said simply, “Your Majesty.”
“A fellow Freemason is always welcome, Mr. Bacon,” said James a little haughtily, and extended his hand. Francis and James exchanged the master mason Tubalcain pass-grip, each with a genuine smile. “Or should I say Mr. Tudor?” he added with raised eyebrows, as he studied Francis’ reaction.
So he knows, thought Francis, just as Whitgift had predicted. It was good to get it into the open right away. The irony of the legitimate heir to the throne facing an illegitimate usurper sitting on the throne did not go unnoticed by either man. The difference was that James did not know that Leicester had told Francis of James’ background. If James had known that Francis was aware of his Achilles heel, Francis’ life would not have been worth a broken penny.
Francis studied James’ features. They were rough, nothing like the fine and beautiful features of Mary, Queen of Scots. His skin was pockmarked, his nose bulgy, but it was especially the tongue, which caught Francis’ attention. It seemed far too large for his mouth, making his words come with a lisp and a shower of mist. Overall, not very impressive, thought Francis.