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FRANCIS BACON (1561–1626)


HAT Bacon was the author of the plays of Shakespeare has T been iterated and reiterated, with no small array of arguments, but with nothing that is likely to be accepted as proof. If Bacon's future fame was to depend upon the outcome of this contention, it would be small indeed. Or, if it depended on his political reputation, it would be the reverse of desirable, since his craving for power and place, and his greed of money, ended in his being convicted of accepting bribes and perverting justice, and sentenced to be fined £40,000, imprisoned during the king's pleasure, and banished from Parliament and the court. A sad ending this to what might, but for the faults stated, have been a great and noble career,

Aside from all this, Bacon was intellectually one of the greatest men of his age, a philosopher, a scientist, an essayist of the highest type. Most important among his works is the “Novum Organum, or Indications Respecting the Interpretations of Nature,” in which the inductive system of science—the observation of facts and drawing of conclusions from them alone—is first advanced. Best known and most read among his works is his “Essays,” concise in language, pithy in style, marked by keenness and accuracy of observation, and full of practical wisdom. Of the able writers of that great age, Bacon stands next to Shakespeare in intellectual power and elevation, and in modern appreciation. THE EVILS OF DUELING

[A contemporary of Bacon speaks of him as “the eloquentest man in England.” Those who read such examples of his oratory as exist will scarcely agree with this, or admit that his Star Chamber arguments are in any sense eloquent. For the latter quality we should rather seek his essays than his speeches. We append a brief example of his style.]


My lords, I thought it fit for my place, and for these times, to bring to hearing before your lordships some cause touching private duels, to see if this Court can do any good to claim and reclaim that evil, which seems unbridled. And I could have wished that I could have met with some greater persons, as a subject for your censure; both because it had been more worthy of this presence, and also the better to have shown the resolution I myself have to proceed without respect of persons in this business. But finding this cause on foot in my predecessor's time, I thought to lose no time in a mischief that groweth every day; and, besides, it passes not amiss sometimes in government, that the greater sort be admonished by an example made in the meaner, and the dog to be eaten before the lion. Nay, I should think, my lords, that men of birth and quality will leave the practice, when it begins to be vilified and to come so low as to barber-surgeons and butchers, and such base mechanical persons. And for the greatness of this presence, in which I take much comfort, both as I consider it in itself, and much more in respect it is by his Majesty's direction, I will supply the meanness of the particular cause by handling of the general point; to the end that by the occasion of this present cause, both my purpose of prosecution against duels and the opinion of the court—without which I am nothing—for the censure of them may appear, and thereby offenders of that kind may read their own case, and know what they are to expect; which may serve for a warning until example may be made in some greater person, which I doubt the times will but too soon afford.

Therefore, before I come to the particular, whereof your lordships are now to judge, I think the time best spent to speak somewhat (1) of the nature and greatness of this mischief; (2) of the causes and remedies; (3) of the justice of the law of England, which some stick not to think defective in this matter ; (4) of the capacity of this Court, where certainly the remedy of this mischief is best to be found ; (5) touching mine own purpose and resolution, wherein I shall humbly crave your lordships' aid and assistance.

For the mischief itself, may it please your lordships to take into your consideration that, when revenge is once extorted out of the magistrate's hands, contrary to God's ordinance, mihi vindicta, ego retribuam, and every man shall bear the sword, not to defend, but to assail, and private men begin once to presume to give law to themselves and to right their own wrongs: no man can foresee the danger and inconveniences that may arise and multiply thereupon. It may cause sudden storms in Court to the disturbance of his Majesty and unsafety of his person. It may grow from quarrels to bandying, and from bandying to trooping, and so to


tumult and commotion ; from particular persons to dissention of families and alliances; yes, to national quarrels, according to the infinite variety of accidents, which fall not under foresight. So that the state by this means shall be like to a distempered and imperfect body, continually subject to inflammations and convulsions. Besides, certainly both in divinity and in policy, offenses of presumption are the greatest. Other offenses yield and consent to the law that it is good, not daring to make defense, or to justify themselves; but this offense expressly gives the law an affront, as if it were two laws, one a kind of gown law and the other a law of reputation, as they term it. So that Paul's and Westminister, the pulpit and the Courts of justice, must give place to the law, as the King speaketh in his proclamation, or ordinary tables, and such reverend assemblies; the yearbooks and statute books must give place to some French and Italian pamphlets, which handle the doctrines of duels, which, if they be in the right, transeamus ad illa, let us receive them, and not keep the people in conflict and distraction between two laws. - Again, my lords, it is a miserable effect, when young men full of towardness and hope, such as the poets call “Aurorae silii,” sons of the morning, in whom the expectation and comfort of their friends consisteth, shall be cast away and destroyed in such a vain manner. But much more it is to be deplored when so much noble and genteel blood should be spilt upon such follies, as, if it were adventured in the field in service of the King and realm, were able to make the fortune of a day and change the future of a kingdom. So your lordships see what a desperate evil this is: it troubleth peace; it disfurnisheth war; it bringeth calamity upon private men, peril upon the State, and contempt upon the law.

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SIR EDWARD COKE (1552-1633)


HE name of Sir Edward Coke is one of the most famous in T English legal lore, through his inestimable work, “Coke upon Littleton,” which is of the highest authority in English law and a rich mine of legal learning. Blackstone, another noted legal author, says of it: “He hath thrown together an infinite treasure of learning in a loose, desultory manner.” Adopting the law as his profession, Coke rapidly acquired a very extensive practice, was appointed Solicitor-General in 1592 and Attorney-General in 1594, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in 1593. In 1613 he became Chief-Justice of the King's Bench, from which he was removed in 1616, because he was not sufficiently obseqious to the court or king. In 1622, he was imprisoned for months in the Tower for his opposition to the court party, and, subsequently, as a member of Parliament, he zealously opposed the arbitrary measures of the court, and was a leader of the popular party. He has been severely censured for his insolence to Raleigh when on trial before him, and for his cruelty in applying torture to persons charged with crime.


[Coke's oratory was chiefly legal, of which we give a brief example from his charge in the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh for high-treason. Raleigh was accused in 1602 of taking part in what was known as Lord Cobham's conspiracy against the king. Tried in 1603, he was convicted without satisfactory proof, his demeanor during the trial—in which Coke assailed him with great severity—being such as to change the public hostility to sympathy and admiration. In the following Coke marshals against him various intended delinqueneies with which Raleigh had nothing to do.]

My speech shall chiefly touch these three points: imitation, supporta

tion, and defence. The imitation of evil ever exceeds the precedent; as,

on the contrary, imitation of good ever comes short. Mischief cannot be

supported but by mischief; yea, it will so multiply that it will bring all


to confusion. Mischief is ever underpropped by falsehood or foul practices; and because all these things did occur in this treason, you shall understand the ruin, as before ye did the bye. The treason of the bye consisteth in these points: First, that the Lords Grey, Brooks, Markham, and the rest intended by force in the night to surprise the King's Court, which was a rebellion in the heart of the realm, yea, in the heart of the heart, in the Court. They intended to take him that is a sovereign to make him subject to their power; purposing to open the doors with muskets and cavaliers, and to take also the Prince and the Council; then, under the King's authority, to carry the King to the Tower, and to make a stale of the admiral. When they had the King there to extort three things from him : First, a pardon for all their treasons; second, a toleration of the Roman superstition—which their eyes shall sooner fall out than they shall ever see; for the King has spoken these words in the hearing of many: “I will lose the crown and my life before ever I will alter religion.” And, third, to remove counselors. In the room of the Lord Chancellor they would have placed one Watson, a priest, absurd in humanity and ignorant in divinity. Brook, of whom I will speak nothing, was to be Lord Treasurer. The Great Secretary must be Markham, oculus patriac. A hole must be found in my Lord Chief-Justice's coat. Grey must be Earl-Marshal and Master of the Horse, because he would have a table in the Court; marry, he would advance the Earl of Worcester to a higher place. All this cannot be done without a multitude; therefore, Watson, the priest, tells a resolute man that the King was in danger of Puritans and Jesuits, so as to bring him in blindfold into the action, saying, “That the King is no king until he be crowned ; therefore, every man might right his own wrongs.” But he is rex natus, his dignity descends as well as yours, my lords. Then Watson imposeth a blasphemous oath, that they should swear to defend the King's person ; to keep secret what was given them in charge; and seek all ways and means to advance the Catholic religion. Then they intend to send for the Lord Mayor and the alderman, in the King's name, to the Tower, lest they should make any resistance, and then to take hostages of them, and to enjoin them to provide for them victuals and munition. Grey, because the King removed before midsummer, had a further reach ; to get a company of swordsmen to assist the action; therefore he would stay till he had obtained a regiment from Ostend or Austria. So you see these treasons were like Sampson's foxes, which were joined in their tails though their heads were severed.

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