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TIERE is, I believe, no official copy of these Ordinances extant: there are, however, but few and mere verbal discrepancies among the MSS. and editions I have seen.
There are, in print and in manuscript, earlier orders extant; but an attempt to determine how far Bacon altered existing practice, or for the first time fixed it, and how far he only collected rules previously dispersed, is a task for an historian of the Court of Chancery. A comparison of these Ordinances with the Aphorisms in the 8th Book De Augmentis will, I think, point out some of them as probably Bacon's own.
In Harl. MSS. 1576 – in which volume are also some Orders of Lord Ellesmere- there are fifteen additional rules, which from the place in which they occur would seem to be Bacon's. As I should not have printed the original Ordinances had they not already been incorporated in the collected Works, so I omit these others. It may, however, be worth mentioning that the first few of them are for regulating or inaugurating a kind of creditors' suit inter vivos for enforcing a compulsory composition, where three-fourths of the creditors agree.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR BACON,
FOR THE BETTER AND MORE REGULAR ADMINISTRATION OF
JUSTICE IN THE CHANCERY.
TO BE DAILY OBSERVED, SAVING THE PREROGATIVE OF THE COURT.
No decree shall be reversed, altered, or explained, being once Decrees. under the great seal, but upon bill of review : and no bill of review shall be admitted, except it contain either error in law, appearing in the body of the decree without farther examination of matters in fact, or some new matter which hath risen in time after the decree, and not any new proof which might have been used when the decree was made : nevertheless new proof, that is come to light after the decree made, and could not possibly have been used at the time when the decree passed, a bill of review may be grounded by the special license of the court, and not otherwise.
2. In case of miscasting, being a matter demonstrative, a decree may be explained and reconciled by an order, without a bill of review; not understanding, by miscasting, any pretended misrating or misvaluing, but only error in the auditing or numbering.
3. No bill of review shall be admitted, or any other new bill to change matter decreed, except the decree be first obeyed and performed: as, if it be for land, that the possession be yielded; if it be for money, that the money be paid ; if it be for evidences, that the evidences be brought in; and so in other cases which stand upon the strength of the decree alone.
4. But if any act be decreed to be done which extinguisheth
1 In some MSS. it is " duly."