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A.D. 1616.

HIS INSULTING LETTER TO COKE.

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in the month of June, 1616, though not formally superseded, and still allowed to do duty at chambers, he was suspended from the public execution of his office and from the counciltable, and, instead of appearing in Court at Westminster, or going his circuit, it was most insultingly ordered that, during the long vacation, “ he should enter into a view and retractation of such novelties and errors and offensive conceits as were dispersed in his Reports."

Bacon, having laid his enemy prostrate on the ground, trampled on his body. He now addressed an Expostulation to the Lord Chief Justice Coke,' in which, after some profane applications of Scripture, and pointing out how in his fallen state he ought to rejoice in the humiliation which God had inflicted upon him, he thus pithily proceeds :

“Not only knowledge, but also every other gift which we call the gifts of fortune, have power to puff up earth ; afflictions only level these mole-hills of pride, plough the heart, and make it fit for wisdom to sow her seed, and for grace to bring forth her increase. Happy is that man therefore, both in regard of heavenly and earthly wisdom, that is thus wounded to be cured, thus broken to be made straight, thus made acquainted with his own imperfections that he may be perfected.

“Supposing this to be the time of your affliction, that which I have propounded to myself is by taking this seasonable advantage, like a true friend, though far unworthy to be counted so, to show you your true shape in a glass, and that not in a false one to flatter you, nor yet in one that should make you seem worse than you are, and so offend you, but in one made by the reflection of your own words and actions, from whose light proceeds the voice of the people, which is often, not unfitly, called the voice of God. It proceedeth from love and a true desire to do you good. All men can see their own profit; that part of the wallet hangs before. A true friend (whose worthy office I would perform, since I fear both yourself and all great men want such) is to show the other, and which is from your eyes.

“First, therefore, behold your errors. In discourse you delight to speak too much, not to hear other men ; this some say becomes a pleader, not a judge. While you speak in your own element, the law, no man ordinarily equals you ; but when you wander, as you often delight to do, you wander indeed, and give never such satisfaction as the curious time requires.

“Secondly, you clog your auditory when you would be observed ; speech must be either sweet or short.

“ Thirdly, you converse with books, not men, and books especially human ; and have no excellent choice with men, who are the best books; for a man of action and employment you seldom converse with, and then

judicial resolutions more than are warranted, rulings over cases,—the law by this time had yet they contain infinite good decisions and been almost like a ship without ballast."

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but with your underlings; not freely, but as a schoolmaster with his scholars, ever to teach, never to learn. But sometimes you would in your familiar discourse hear others and make election of such as know what they speak, you should know many of these tales you tell to be but ordinary, and many other things which you delight to repeat and serve out for novelties to be but stale. As in your pleadings you were wont to insult over misery, and to inveigh bitterly at the persons, which bred you many enemies, whose poison yet smelleth, so are you still wont to be a little careless in this point, to praise and disgrace upon slight grounds, and that sometimes untruly ; so that your reproofs and commendations are for the most part neglected and condemned ; where the censure of a Judge, coming slow but sure, should be a brand to the guilty, and a crown to the virtuous. You will jest at any man in public, without respect to the person's dignity or your own : this disgraceth your gravity more than it can advance the opinion of your wit ; and so do all actions which we see you do directly with a touch of vainglory, having no respect to the true end. You make the law to lean too much to your opinion, whereby you show yourself to be a legal tyrant, striking with that weapon where you please, since you are able to turn the edge any way. Your too much love of the world is too much seen, where, having the living of a thousand, you relieve few or none. The hand that hath taken so much, can it give so little? Herein you

show no bowels of compassion, as if you thought all too little for yourself. We desire you to amend this, and let your poor tenants in Norfolk find some comfort; where nothing of your estate is spent towards their relief, but all brought up hither to the impoverishing of your country.

“But now, since the case so standeth, we desire you to give way to power, and so to fight that you be not utterly broken, but reserved entirely to serve the commonwealth again, and to do what good you can, since you cannot do all the good you would; and since you are fallen upon this rock, cast out the goods to save the bottom ; stop the leaks, and make towards land ; learn of the steward to make friends of the unrighteous Mammon. You cannot but have much of your estate (pardon my plainness) ill got. Think how much of that you never spake for, how much by speaking unjustly or in unjust causes.

ACcount it then a blessing of God if thus it may be laid out for your good, and not left for your heir.

“Do not, if you be restored, as some others do, fly from the service of virtue to serve the time, but rather let this cross make you zealous in God's causa sensible in ours, and more sensible in all."

After much more reproof and admonition, he jeeringly advises him not to be too much cast down : “ To humble ourselves before God is the part of a Christian ; but for the world

a and our enemies the counsel of the poet is apt,

" "Tu ne cede malis, sed contrà audentior ito.""

I Works, v. 403.

A.D. 1616.

COKE DISMISSED.

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In no composition that I have met with is there a greater display of vengeful malignity. Under pretence of acting a Christian part, he pours oil of vitriol into the wounds he had inflicted. There seems to have been an intention to make Coke disgorge some of his ill-gotten gains, by a heavy fine in the Star Chamber. That was abandoned, but the dismissal was consummated. After the long vacation, the Chief Justice was summoned by Bacon before the Privy Council, to give an account of what he had done in the way of correcting his Reports. He declared that in his eleven volumes, containing 500 cases, there were only four errors, and that there were as many in the much-esteemed Plowden, which the wisdom of time had discovered, and later judgments controlled. The order, prompted by Bacon and pronounced by the Lord Chancellor, was " that the Chief Justice should still forbear his sitting at Westminster, &c., not restraining nevertheless any other exercise of his place in private.”

Bacon, having made a report of this proceeding to the King, with a view of hastening the final blow, says,- If, upon this probation added to former matters, your Majesty think him not fit for your service, we must in all humbleness subscribe to your Majesty, and acknowledge that neither his displacing, considering he holdeth his place but during your will and pleasure, nor the choice of a fit man to put in his room, are council-table matters, but are to proceed wholly from your Majesty's great wisdom and pleasure. So that in this course it is but the signification of your pleasure, and the business is at an end as to him.”

At length Bacon had the exquisite delight of making out Coke's supersedeas,” and a warrant to the Lord Chancellor for a writ to create a new Chief Justice. !

To add to his satisfaction, he contrived to get himself into the good graces of Prince Charles, and was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall.

The office of Chief Justice of the King's Bench he declined, on account of the moribund condition of Lord Ellesmere.

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8 Sir E. Coke was removed Nov. 15, 1616, and Sir Henry Montagu was sworn in as his successor the following day.

CHAPTER LV.

CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF LORD BACON FROM HIS APPOINTMENT AS

CHANCELLOR TILL HIS FALL.

A.D. 1617.

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THERE was nothing now wanting to the earthly felicity of

Bacon except the actual possession of the Great

Seal of England. He continued from time to time to remind the King of his pretensions; and he induced the Prince to say a good word for his further advancement. He pretended that the King's service was his great object, adding, "Were your Majesty mounted and seated without difficulties and distastes in your business as I desire to see you, I should animo desire to spend the decline of my years in

my

studies ; wherein, also, I should not forget to do him honour, who, besides his active and politic virtues, is the best pen of Kings, much more the best subject of a pen.'

On the 7th of March, 1617, his wish was accomplished. The Great Seal

, having been surrendered by Lord Ellesmere, was, between the hours of eleven and twelve on that day, in the Palace at Whitehall

, delivered to Sir Francis Bacon by the morated his services as Solicitor-General, Attorney-General, and Privy Councillor, and gave him four admonitions for his guidance as Lord Keeper :-1. To restrain the jurisdiction of the Court within its true and due limits.

2. Not to put the Great Seal to letters patent without due consideration. Quod dubites ne

feceris. 3. To retrench all unnecessary delays. Bis dat qui cito dat. 4. That justice might pass with as easy charge as might be. Sir Francis, on bended knees, humbly, and with a most grateful inind, acknowledged the constant and never-tiring kindness of the King, who had conducted him, step by step, to the highest pinnacle of honour,-professing dutifully his determination to preserve all the rights and prerogatives of the Crown,-.equally to administer the law to

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h “ Predictus Franciscus Bacon flexis geni. cursum utpote qui per tot gradus eum manu bus humiliter gratiosissimo animo agnovit quasi duxerit ad sum. honoris fastigium," &c. constantem Dni Regis et prennem beneficor. -CI. R. 16 Jac. 1.

A.D. 1617.

BECOMES LORD KEEPER.

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all in the Courts in which he himself should preside, and to exercise a general superintendence over the administration of justice throughout the realm.

As soon as Bacon had got home,- the Great Seal, in its silken purse, lying on the table before him,-his eye glancing from the paper to the long-courted bauble, and his heart overflowing with gratitude,- he wrote the following letter to Villiers, now Earl of Buckingham, who had witnessed the ceremony at Whitehall :

“My dearest Lord,—It is both in cares and kindness that small ones float up to the tongue, and great ones sink down into the heart in silence. Therefore, I could speak little to your Lordship to-day, neither had I fit a time; but I must profess thus much, that, in this day's work, you are the truest and perfectest mirror and example of firm and generous friendship that ever was in Court. And I shall count-every day lost wherein I shall not either study your well-doing in thought, or do your name honour in speech, or perform your service in deed. Good my Lord, account and accept me

- Your most bounden and devoted Friend
" and Servant of all men living,

“Fr. Bacon, C. S.” i With what rapture he must have written the letters C. S., which he added to his name for the first time! It has been supposed by some of his blind admirers that he reluctantly submitted to his elevation, and that, inwardly desirous of retirement and contemplation, he would have shut himself up for the rest of his days in his library at Gorhambury, had it not been for the importunities of his family and dependents, joined to his hope of being able to do more good to mankind by sacrificing his inclinations, and showing to the world what could be effected by a philosopher in high office and in the exercise of great power. For this opinion no better reason can be given than an extract of an Essay written by him while a student in Gray's Inn :-“Men in great place are thrice servants : servants of the Sovereign or state; servants of fame; and servants of business : so as they have no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire to seek power and to lose liberty, or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man's

It may as well be said that he despised money, because in his writings he calls riches “ the baggage of virtue.” i Works, vol. v. 463.

k Essay, 'Of Great Place.'

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