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ARGUMENTS OF LAW
SIR FRANCIS BACON, KNIGHT,
THE KING'S SOLICITOR GENERAL,
IN CERTAIN GREAT AND DIFFICULT CASES.
MY LOVING FRIENDS AND FELLOWS,
READERS, ANCIENTS, UTTER-BARRISTERS, AND STUDENTS
OF GRAY'S INN.
I Do not hold the law of England in so mean an account, but that which other laws are held worthy of should be due likewise to our laws, as no less worthy for our state. Therefore, when I found that, not only in the ancient times, but now at this day in France, Italy, and other nations, the speeches, and as they term them pleadings, which have been made in judicial cases, where the cases were weighty and famous, have been set down by those that made them, and published, so that not only a Cicero, or a Demosthenes, or an Eschines hath set forth his orations, as well in the kind judicial as deliberative, but a Marrian' and a Pavier have done the like by their pleadings, I know no reason why the same should not be brought in use by the professors of our law for their arguments in principal cases. And this I think the more necessary, because the compendious form of reporting resolutions with the substance of the reasons, lately used by Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, doth not delineate or trace out to the young practisers of law a method and form of argument for them to imitate.
It is true, I could have wished some abler person had begun; but it is a kind of order sometimes to begin with the meanest. Nevertheless, thus much I may say with modesty,
No doubt the Plaidoyers de Marion are meant, though the earliest edition mentioned in the Bibliothèque de Droit, by Camus and Dupin, is of 1625. I have not found the name of Pavier.
2 In the first draft, "Common Pleas": and then follows "as it is far best for the science of Law itself, so nevertheless it doth not," &c.
that these arguments which I have set forth (most of them) are upon subjects not vulgar, and therewithal, in regard of the commixture that the course of my life hath made of law with other studies, they may have the more variety, and perhaps the more depth of reason: for the reasons of municipal laws severed from the grounds of nature, manners, and policy are like wall flowers, which, though they grow high upon the crests of states, yet they have no deep roots. Besides, in all public service I ever valued my reputation more than my pains, and therefore, in weighty causes I always used extraordinary diligence. In all which respects I persuade myself the reading of them will not be unprofitable.
This work I knew not to whom to dedicate rather than to the Society of GRAY'S INN, the place whence my father was called to the highest place of justice, and where myself have lived and had my proceeding so far as, by his Majesty's rare if not singular grace, to be of both his counsels, and therefore few men so bound to their societies by obligation both ancestral and personal, as I am to yours: which I would gladly acknowledge, not only in having your name joined with mine own in a book, but in any other good office and effect which the active part of my life and place may enable me unto, toward the Society, or any of you in particular. And so I bid you right heartily farewell.
Your assured loving Friend and Fellow,