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"My great work goeth forward, and after my shalsea court to the officers of the king's houseinanner I alter ever when I add."
hold, a new court of record was erected by letters patent, styled "Curia virgi palatii summi Regis," to extend the jurisdiction; and the judges nomi
This treatise is a species of parabolical poetry, explained in the Advancement of Learning, and expanded by an insertion in the treatise De Aug-nated by the letters patent were Sir Francis mentis Scientiarum of three of the Fables. "One use of parabolical poesy consists," he says, "in withdrawing from common sight those things the dignity whereof deserves to be retired, as the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy, and philosophy, which are therefore veiled and invested in fables and parables, and, next to sacred writ, are the most ancient of all writings; for adopted, not excogitated by the reciters, they seem to be like a thin rarefied air, which, from the traditions of more ancient nations, fell into the flutes of the Grecians."
Bacon, solicitor-general, and Sir James Vavasour, then marshal of the household. In this office he delivered a learned and methodical charge to a jury upon a commission of oyer and terminer, in which he availed himself of an opportunity to protest against the abuse of capital punishment. "For life," he says, "I must say unto you, in general, that it is grown too cheap in these times; it is set at the price of words, and every petty scorn and disgrace can have no other reparation; nay, so many men's lives are taken away with impunity, that the very life of the law, the execution, is almost taken away.'
When solicitor he argued in the case of Sutton's Hospital, or the Charter-House, against the legality of the foundation, and, fortunately for the advancement of charity and of knowledge, he argued without success, as its validity was confirm
This tract seems, in former times, to have been much valued, for the same reason, perhaps, which Bacon assigns for the currency of the Essays; "because they are like the late new halfpence, where the pieces are small, but the silver is good." The fables, abounding with a union of deep thought and poetic beauty, are thirty-one in num-ed; and in 1611 this noble institution was opened, ber, of which a part of "The Sirens, or Pleasures," may be selected as a specimen.
In this fable he explains the common but erroneous supposition, that knowledge and the conformity of the will, knowing and acting, are convertible terms. Of this error he, in his essay of "Custom and Education," admonishes his readers, by saying, "Men's thoughts are much according to their inclination; their discourse and speeches according to their learning and infused opinions, but their deeds are after as they have been accustomed. Esop's damsel, transformed from a cat to a woman, sat very demurely at the board-end till a mouse ran before her." In the fable of the Sirens he exhibits the same truth, saying, "The habitation of the Sirens was in certain pleasant islands, from whence, as soon as out of their watch-tower they discovered any ships approaching, with their sweet tunes they would first entice and stay them, and, having them in their power, would destroy them; and, so great were the mischiefs they did, that these isles of the Sirens, even as far off as man can ken them, appeared all over white with the bones of unburied carcasses: by which it is signified that albeit the examples of afflictions be manifest and eminent, yet they do not sufficiently deter us from the wicked enticements of pleasure."
FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THE WISDOM OF THE
In consequence of the limitation, in the court of King's Bench, of the jurisdiction of the Mar
to the honour of its munificent founder, who preferred the consciousness of doing good to the empty honours which were offered to divert him from his course. It seems, however, that Bacon's objections to the charity were not confined to his argument at the bar, but were the expression of his judgment, as he afterwards addressed a letter of advice to the king, pointing out many imaginary or real defects of the project, in which he says, "I wish Mr. Sutton's intentions were exalted a degree; and that which he meant for teachers of children, your majesty should make for teachers of men; wherein it hath been my ancient opinion and observation, that in the universities of this realm, which I take to be of the best endowed universities of Europe, there is nothing more wanting towards the flourishing state of learning than the honourable and plentiful salaries of readers in arts and professions ; for, if you will have sciences flourish, you must observe David's military law, which was, that those which stayed with the carriage should have equal part with those that were in the action.””
In the year 1612, he published a new edition of his Essays, enlarged and enlivened by illustrations and imagery, which, upon the sudden death of Prince Henry, to whom it was intended to be dedicated, he inscribed to his brother.
In this year he, as solicitor-general, appeared on behalf of the crown, upon the prosecution of the Lord Sanquhar, a Scottish nobleman, for murder; and his speech, which has been preserved, is a specimen of the mildness ever attendant upon knowledge. After having clearly stated the case, he thus concludes; "I will conclude toward you, my lord, that though your offence hath been great, yet your confession hath been free, and
your behaviour and speech full of discretion; and this shows, that though you could not resist the tempter, yet you bear a Christian and generous mind, answerable to the noble family of which you are descended."
During the time he was solicitor he composed, as it seems, his "Confession of Faith."
Bacon as solicitor naturally looked forward to the office of attorney-general, to which he succeeded on the 27th of October, upon the promotion of Sir Henry Hobart to the chief justiceship of the common pleas. Never was man more qualified for the office of attorney-general than Bacon. With great general knowledge, ever tending to humanize and generate a love of improvement; with great insight into the principles of politics and of universal justice, and such worldly experience as to enable him to apply his knowledge to the times in which he lived. "Non in republica Platonis; sed tanquam in fæce Romuli;" with long unwearied professional exertion in the law | of England, publications upon existing parts of the law, and efforts to improve it, he entered upon the duties of his office with the well-founded hope in the profession, that he would be an honour to his name and his country, and without any fear that he would be injured by the dangerous authority with which he was intrusted. Although power has, upon ordinary minds, a tendency to shape and deprave the possessor, upon intelligence it tends more to humble than to elevate. When Cromwell, indignant that Sir Matthew Hale had dismissed a jury because he was convinced that it had been partially selected, said to this venerable magistrate, "You are not fit to be a judge," Sir Matthew answered, "It is very true." When Alexander received letters out of Greece of some fights and services there, which were commonly for a passage or a fort, or some walled town at the most, he said, "It seemed to him, that he was advertised of the battle of the frogs and the mice, that the old tales went of; so certainly, if a man meditate much upon the universal frame of nature, the earth with men upon it, the divineness of souls except, will not seem much other than an ant-hill, where as some ants carry corn, and some carry their young, and some go empty, and all to and fro a little heap of dust."
With the duties of the office he was well acquainted. As a politician he never omitted an opportunity to ameliorate the condition of society, and exerted himself in all the usual House of Commons questions: thus dilating and contracting his sight, and too readily giving up to party what was meant for mankind. As public prosecutor, he did not suffer the arm of justice to be weakened either by improper lenity or severity at variance with public feeling. Knowing that the efficacy of criminal legislation consists in duly poising the powers of law, religion, and morals;
and being aware of the common erroneous supposition, that, by an increase in the quantity of any agent, its beneficial effects are also increased, he warned the community that the acerbity of a law ever deadened the execution, by associating compassion with guilt, and confounding the gradation of crime; and that the sentiment of justice in the public mind is as much or more injured by a law which outrages public feeling, as by a law which falls short or disappoints the just indignation of the community.
But, not confining his professional exertions to the discharge of the common duties of a public prosecutor, he availed himself of his situation to advance justice and humanity, and composed a work for compiling and amending the laws of England, which he dedicated to the king. majesty," he says, "of your favour having made me privy councillor, and continuing me in the place of your attorney-general, I take it to be my duty not only to speed your commandments and the business of my place, but to meditate and to excogitate of myself, wherein I may best, by my travails, derive your virtues to the good of your people, and return their thanks and increase of love to you again. And after I had thought of many things, I could find, in my judgment, none more proper for your majesty as a master, nor for me as a workman, than the reducing and recompiling the laws of England."
In this tract, having traced the exertions of different legislators from Moses to Augustus, he says, "Cæsar si ab eo quærereter quid egisset in togâ, leges se respondisset multas et præclarus tulisse;" and his nephew Augustus did tread the same steps but with deeper print, because of his long reign in peace, whereof one of the poets of the time saith,
"Pace data terris animum ad civilia vertit
Jura suum, legesque tulit justissimus auctor." From July, 1610, until this period, there had not been any parliament sitting; and the king, unable to procure the usual supplies, had recourse, by the advice of Lord Salisbury, to modes injurious to himself, and not warranted by the constitution. Bacon, foreseeing the evils which must result from these expedients, implored the king to discontinue them, and to summon a parlia
A parliament was accordingly summoned, and met in April, 1614, when the question whether the attorney-general was eligible to sit in the House was immediately agitated; and, after de bate and search of precedents, it was resolved, that, by reason of his office, he ought not to sit in the House of Commons, as he was an attendant on the lords: but it was resolved that the present attorney-general shall for this parliament remain in the House, although this privilege shall not extend to any future attorney-general.
Upon his entrance on the discharge of his legal
The exertions of Bacon and of the king's friends being, however, of no avail, the king, seeing no hope of assistance, in anger dissolved the parliament, and committed several of the members who had spoken freely of his measures.
duties, an opportunity to eradicate error accident- | he holds his peace from good things, he wounds ally presented itself. Amongst the criminal informations filed in the Star Chamber by his predecessor, he found a charge against two obscure persons for the crime of duelling. Of this opportunity he instantly availed himself, to expose the nature of these false imaginations of honour, by which, in defiance of virtue, disregard of the law, and contempt of religion, vice and ignorance raise themselves in the world upon the reputation of courage; and high-minded youth, full of towardness and hope, such as the poets call "aurora filii," sons of the morning, are deluded by this fond disguise and puppetry of honour.
This violence, instead of allaying, increased the ferment in the nation; (June, 1634;) and, unable to obtain a supply from parliament, and being extremely distressed for money, several of the nobility and clergy in and about London, made presents to the king; and letters were written to the sheriffs and justices in the different counties, and to magistrates of several corporations, informing them what had been done in the metropolis, and how acceptable and seasonable similar bounty would be from the country.
Amongst others, a letter was sent to the mayor of Marlborough in Wiltshire, where Mr. Oliver St. John, a gentleman of an ancient family, was then residing, who wrote to the mayor on the 11th of October, 1614, representing to him that this benevolence was against law, reason, and religion, and insinuating that the king, by promoting it, had violated his coronation oath, and that, by such means as these, King Richard the Second had given an opportunity to Henry the Fourth to deprive him of his crown; desiring, if he thought fit, that his sentiments should be communicated to the justices who were to meet respecting the benevolence.
The king's great object in summoning a parliament was the hope to obtain supplies; a hope which was totally defeated by a rumour that several persons, attached to the king, had entered into a confederacy, and had undertaken to secure a majority to enable him to control the house. To pacify the heat, Bacon made a powerful speech, in which he ridicules the supposition that any man can have embarked in such a wild undertaking as to control the Commons of England: to make a policy of insurance as to what ship shall come safe home into the harbour in these troubled seas; to find a new passage for the king's business, by a new and unknown point of the compass: to build forts to intimidate the house, unmindful that the only forts by which the king of England can command, is the fort of affection moving the hearts, and of reason the understandings of his people. He then implores the house not to listen to these idle rumours, existing only in the imagination of some deluded enthusiast, who, like the fly upon the chariot wheel, says, "What a dust do I raise! and, being without foundation or any avowed author, are like the birds of paradise, without feet, and never lighting upon any place, but carried away by the wind whither it listeth. Let us then," he adds, "instead of yielding to these senseless reports, deliberate upon the perilous situation in which the government is placed: and, remembering the parable of Jotham, in the case of the trees of the forest, that when question | his death-bed, more than once expressed his anxwas, whether the vine should reign over them? that might not be ;-and whether the olive should reign over them? that might not be, let us consider whether we have not accepted the bramble to reign over us. For it seems that the good vine of the king's graces, that is not so much in esteem: and the good oil, whereby we should relieve the wants of the estate and crown, is laid aside; and this bramble of contention and emulation, this must reign and rule amongst us."
Having examined and exposed all the arguments, he concluded by saying; "Thus I have told you my opinion. I know it had been more safe and politic to have been silent; but it is more honest and loving to speak. When a man speaketh, he may be wounded by others; but as
For this letter, Mr. St. John was tried in the Star Chamber on the 15th of April, 1615; when, the attorney-general appearing, of course, as counsel for the crown, the defendant was fined £5000, imprisoned during the king's pleasure, and ordered to make submission in writing.
So deeply were the judges impressed with the enormity of this offence, that some of the court thought the crime of a higher nature than a contempt; but they all agreed that the benevolence was not restrained by any statute; and the lord chancellor, who was then, as he supposed, on
iety that his passing sentence upon Mr. St. John might be his last act of judicial duty.
Such was the state of the law and of the opinion of justice which at that time prevailed! The dissatisfaction which existed in the community, at the state of the government, now manifested itself in various modes, and was, according to the usual efforts of power, attempted to be repressed by criminal prosecutions. Amongst others, the attorney-general was employed in the prosecution for high treason of a Mr. Peacham, a clergyman between sixty and seventy years of age; of Mr. Owen, of Godstow in Oxfordshire, a gentleman of property and respectability; and of William Talbot, an Irish barrister, for maintain'ing, in different modes, that, if the king were
excommunicated and deprived by the pope, it was | private; whether it were a good answer to deny lawful for any person to kill him.
it, otherwise than if it were propounded at the table. To this he said, that the cases were not alike, because this concerned life. To which I
The prosecution against Peacham was for several treasonable passages in a sermon, found in his study, but never preached, and never intend-replied, that questions of estate might concern ed to be preached.
Doubts being entertained both of the fact with respect to the intention to preach, and of the law, supposing the intention to have existed, recourse was had to expedients from which, in these enlightened times, we recoil with horror.
To discover the fact, this old clergyman was put upon the rack, and was examined "before torture, in torture, between torture, and after torture," but no confession was extorted, which was instantly communicated by Bacon to the king.
To be certain of the law, the king resolved to obtain the opinions of the judges before the prosecution was commenced. For this purpose, the attorney-general was employed to confer with Sir Edward Coke, Mr. Sergeant Montague to speak with Justice Crooke, Mr. Sergeant Crew with Justice Houghton, and Mr. Solicitor with Justice Dodderidge, who were instructed by Bacon that they should presently speak with the three judges, before he could see Coke; and that they should not in any case make any doubt to the judges, as if they mistrusted they would not deliver any opinion apart, but speak resolutely to them, and only make their coming to be, to know what time they would appoint to be attended with the papers. The three judges very readily gave their opinions; but with Sir Edward Coke the task was not easy for his high and independent spirit refused to submit to these private conferences, contrary, as he said, to the custom of the realm, which requires the judges not to give opinion by fractions, but entirely and upon conference; and that this auricular taking of opinions, single and apart, was new and dangerous.
thousands of lives; and many things more precious than the life of a particular; as war and peace, and the like.”
By this reasoning Coke's scruples were, after a struggle, removed, and he concurred with his brethren in obedience to the commands of the king.
From the progress which knowledge has made, during the last two centuries, in the science of justice and its administration, mitigating severity, abolishing injurious restraints upon commerce, and upon civil and religious liberty, and preserving the judicial mind free, almost, from the possibility of influence, we may, without caution, feel disposed to censure the profession of the law at that day for practices so different from our own. Passing out of darkness into light, we may for a moment be dazzled, and forget the ignorance from which we have emerged; an evil attendant upon the progress of learning, which did not escape the observation of Bacon, by whom we are admonished, that "if knowledge, as it advances, is taken without its true corrective, it ever hath some nature of venom or malignity, and some effects of that venom, which is ventosity or swelling. This corrective spice, the mixture whereof maketh knowledge so sovereign, is charity; of which the apostle saith, 'If I spake with the tongues of men and angels, and had not charity, it were but as a tinkling cymbal.'”
For having thus acted in obedience to the king's commands, by a compliance with error sanctioned by the practice of the profession, Bacon has, without due consideration, been censured by a most upright, intelligent judge of modern times, who has thus indirectly accused the bar as venal, and the bench as perjured.
The answer to this resistance, Bacon thus relates in a letter to the king: "I replied in civil To this excellent man posterity has been more and plain terms, that I wished his lordship, in my just; we do not brand Judge Foster with the imlove to him, to think better of it; for that this, putation of cruelty, for having passed the barbathat his lordship was pleased to put into great rous and disgraceful sentence upon persons conwords, seemed to me and my fellows, when we victed of high treason, which was not abolished spake of it amongst ourselves, a reasonable and till the reign of George the Fourth; nor do we cenfamiliar matter, for a king to consult with his sure the judges in and before the time of Elizajudges, either assembled or selected, or one by beth for not having resisted the infliction of torone. I added, that judges sometimes might make ture, sanctioned by the law, which was founded a suit to be spared for their opinion till they had upon the erroneous principle that men will speak spoken with their brethren; but if the king upon truth, when under the influence of a passion more his own princely judgment, for reason of estate, powerful than the love of truth; nor shall we should think it fit to have it otherwise, and be censured, in future times, for refusing, in exshould so demand it, there was no declining; cessive obedience to this principle, to admit the nay, that it touched upon a violation of their oath, evidence of the richest peer of the realm, if he which was to counsel the king without dis- have the interest of sixpence in the cause; no tinction, whether it were jointly or severally. has Sir Matthew Hale been visited with the sin Thereupon I put him the case of the privy council, of having condemned and sutfered to be executed, as if your majesty should be pleased to command a mother and her daughter of eleven years of age, any of them to deliver their opinion apart and in for witchcraft, under the quaint advice of Si
Thomas Brown, one of the first physicians and | but, some of the judges doubting whether it was philosophers of his, or, indeed, of any time, who treason, he was not executed. was devoting his life to the confutation of what he deemed vulgar errors! nor will the judges of England hereafter be considered culpable for having at one session condemned and left for execution six young men and women under the age of twenty, for uttering forged one pound notes; or for having, so late as the year 1820, publicly sold for large sums the places of the officers of their
To persecute the lover of truth for opposing established customs, and to censure him in after ages for not having been more strenuous in opposition, are errors which will never cease until the pleasure of self-elevation from the depression of superiority is no more. "These things must continue as they have been; so too will that also continue, whereupon learning hath ever relied, and which faileth not: justificata est sapientia a filiis suis."
The same course of private consultation with the judges would have been adopted in the case of Owen, had not the attorney-general been so clear in his opinion of the treason, as to induce him to think it inexpedient to imply that any doubt could be entertained.
His speeches against Owen and Talbot, which are preserved, are in the usual style of speeches of this nature, with some of the scurrility by which the eloquence of the bar was at that time polluted.
When speaking of the king's clemency, he says, "The king has had too many causes of irritation: he has been irritated by the Powder Treason, when, in the chair of majesty, his vine and olive branches about him, attended by his nobles and third estate in parliament, he was, in the twinkling of an eye, as if it had been a particular doomsday, to have been brought to ashes, and dispersed to the four winds. He hath been irritated by wicked and monstrous libels, and by the
Bacon, unmoved by the prejudice, by which during his life he was resisted, or the scurrilous libels by which he was assailed, went right on-violence of demagogues who have at all times ward in the advancement of knowledge, the only effectual mode of decomposing error. Where he saw that truth was likely to be received, he presented her in all her divine loveliness. When he could not directly attack error, when the light was too strong for weak eyes, he never omitted an opportunity to expose it. Truth is often silent as fearing her judge, never as suspecting her cause.
In his letter to the king, stating that. Peacham had been put to the torture, he says, "Though we are driven to make our way through questions, which I wish were otherwise, yet I hope the end will be good:" and, unable at that period to counteract the then common custom of importuning the judges, he warned Villiers of the evil. "By no means," he says, "be you persuaded to interpose yourself, either by word or letter, in any cause depending, or like to be depending in any court of justice, nor suffer any other great man to do it where you can hinder it, and by all means dissuade the king himself from it, upon the importunity of any for themselves or their friends; if it should prevail, it perverts justice; but if the judge be so just, and of such courage, as he ought to be, as not to be inclined thereby, yet it always leaves a taint of suspicion behind it: judges must be as chaste as Caesar's wife, neither to be, nor to be suspected to be unjust; and, sir, the honour of the judges in their judicature is the king's honour, whose person they represent."
The trial of Peacham took place at Taunton on the 7th of August, 1615, before the chief baron and Sir Henry Montagu. Bacon did not attend, but the prosecution was conducted by the king's sergeant and solicitor, when the old clergyman, who defended himself "very simply, although ubstinately and doggedly enough," was convicted,
infested, and in times of disturbance, when the scum is uppermost, ever will infest society; confident and daring persons, Nihil tam verens, quam ne dubitare aliquâ de re, videretur, priding themselves in pulling down magistrates, and chanting the psalm, 'Let us bind the kings in chains, and the nobles in fetters of iron.” ”
During this year an event occurred, which ma terially affected the immediate pursuits and future fate of Sir Francis Bacon,-the king's selection of a new favourite.
George Villiers, a younger son of Sir George Villiers and Mary Beaumont, on each side well descended, was born in 1592. Having early lost his father, his education was conducted by Lady Villiers, and, though he was naturally intelligent and of quick parts, more attention was paid to the graces of manner and the lighter accomplishments which ornament a gentleman, than the solid learning and virtuous precepts which form a great and good man. At the age of eighteen he travelled to France, and, having passed three years in the completion of his studies, he returned to the seat of his forefathers, in Leicestershire, where he conceived an intention of settling himself in marriage; but, having journeyed to London, and consulted Sir Thomas Gresham, that gentleman, charmed by his personal beauty and graceful deportment, advised him to relinquish his intention, and try his fortune at court. Shrewd advice, which he, without a sigh, obeyed. He sacrificed his affections at the first temptation of ambition.
The king had gradually withdrawn his favou. from Somerset, equally displeased by the haughtiness of his manners, and by an increasing gloom, that obscured all those lighter qualities which had formerly contributed to his amusement, a glooni