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it. I know how unfit it is for me to write to your lordship with any other hand than mine own; but, by my troth, my fingers are so disjointed with this fit of sickness, that I cannot steadily hold a pen." It is evident, however, that Bacon did not think he was dying when this was written. John Aubrey relates, that when Bacon was attacked by his illness he was accompanied by Dr. Witherborne, the King's Physician, and that, seeing snow on the ground as they approached Highgate, coming from London, they alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman's house at the foot of Highgate Hill, where they bought a hen, and stuffed the body
Bacon assisting in the operation with his own hands. Aubrey further states that the bed into which he was put at Lord Arundel's house was damp, and had not been slept in for a year before. He breathed his Jast in the arms of his friend, and relation by marriage, Sir Julius Caesar, the Master of the Robes, who had been sent for at the commencement of his illness.
BACON'S LEGAL, POLITICAL, AND EPIS
Bacon's enduring fame is that of a moralist, an historian, and a philosopher ; but in his own day he was chiefly known as a lawyer and a politician. Ethics, theology, history, and philosophy were but the studies and pursuits of his leisure ; his professional occupations were law and politics. Nor have his legal and political writings by any means yet lost all their interest and value. Here too we have his fertile, ingenious, abundant mind everywhere at work, and the same rich eloquence gilding whatever it touches with sunshine.
A very summary account, however, of the pieces composing this division of our author's works will suffice for our present purpose.
The tract entitled The Elements of the Common Law of England' has been already mentioned.* It is introduced by a Dedication to Elizabeth dated 1596, and also by a Preface; but both these addresses, as has been already remarked, refer only to the First Part of the work, which is entitled 'A Collection of some of the principal Rules and Maxims of the Common Law, with their Latitude and Extent.' The Second Part, entitled " The Use of the Common Law for Preservation of our Persons, Goods, and Good Names, according to the Practice of the Law and Customs of this Land,'
* See ante, Vol. I. p. 17.
appears to have been subsequently compiled. The two Parts were printed for the first time together, in 4to., at London, in 1630. In the Dedication of The Maxims' Bacon speaks of the collection as having been suggested both by what had been published by the Lord Chancellor, speaking for the queen, in full parliament in the year 1593, and much more by what he had himself been vouchsafed to understand from her majesty, “ imparting [importing ?],” he says, a purpose for these many years infused into your majesty's breast to enter into a general amendment of the state of your laws, and to reduce them to more brevity and certainty, that the great hollowness and unsafety in assurances of lands and goods may be strengthened, the snaring penalties that lie upon many subjects removed, the execution of many profitable laws revived, the judge better directed in his sentence, the counsellor better warranted in his counsel, the student eased in his reading, the contentious suitor, that seeketh but vexation, disarmed, and the honest suitor, that seeketh but to obtain his right, relieved.” In giving an account of his work in the Preface he says "I hold every man a debtor to his profession ; from the which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves, by way of amends, to be a help and ornament thereunto..
Having therefore from the beginning come to the study of the laws of this realm with a mind and desire no less, if I could attain unto it, that the same laws should be the better by my industry than that myself should be the better by the knowledge of them, I do not find that by mine own tr without the help of authority, I can in any kind prefer so profitable an addition unto that science as by collecting the rules and grounds dispersed throughout the body of the same laws.” The collection comprehends twenty-five general maxims or rules, which are illustrated by explanations and short examples. No rules, it is stated, have been omitted because they are ordinary or vulgar; those that concur with the civil or Roman law have been set down in the same words that the civilians use ; no certain method or order has been observed, because (a favourite principle with Bacon) “ this delivering of knowledge in distinct and disjoined aphorisms doth leave the wit of man more free to turn and to toss, and to make use of that which is so delivered to more several purposes and applications ;” the rules are set down only in Latin, without regard to grace or ornament of expression, or to anything in style except the preservation of the proper terms and technical language of the law; and no references to the books are given; “ for although,” says Bacon, “ the meanness of mine own person may now at first extenuate the authority of this collection, and that every man is adventurous to control ; yet surely, according to Gamaliel's reason, if it be of weight, time will settle and authorize it; if it be light and weak, time will reprove it. So that, to conclude, you have here a work without any glory of affected novelty, or of method, or of language, or of quotations and authorities, dedicated only to use, and submitted only to the censure of the learned, and chiefly of time.” What chiefly, however, makes the maxims profitable and instructive, he conceives, is the examples with which he has accompanied them. Finally, he adds, “ Though I have thus, with as much discretion and foresight as I could, ordered this work, and, as I may say, without all colours or shows, husbanded it best to profit; yet nevertheless, not wholly trusting to mine own judgment, having collected three hundred of them, I thought good, before I brought them all into form, to publish some few, that, by the taste of other men's opinions in this first, I might receive either approbation in mine own course or better advice for the altering of the other which remain; for it is great reason that that which is intended to the profit of others should be guided by the conceits of others.” The Second Part, on the Use of the Law, is a compendious account of the practice and administration of the English law both in criminal and civil cases. It appears, however, to be unfinished. The use of the law is defined as consisting “ principally these three things: 1. To se
cure men's persons from death and violence ; 2. To dispose the property of their goods and lands; 3. For preservation of their good names from shame and infamy.” But the last of these three heads is not entered upon. The tract is very clearly written, and is curious for the details it contains respecting some now obsolete institutions and forms.
Another law tract is entitled · The learned Reading of Mr. Francis Bacon, one of her Majesty's Counsel at Law, upon the Statute of Uses ; being his double Reading to the Hon. Society of Gray's Inn, 42 Eliz.” (1600). This was not printed till the year 1642. " When this piece was first published,” says Blackbourne, “ the state of printing resembled the state of monarchy, both being at a low ebb; and none of our noble author's works have been more miserably racked and disjointed than this before us. I have been fortunate in procuring a corrected copy of the whole; and, farther still, a second and much better copy in MS., which I take, upon comparison of hands, to be the character of our author's clerk or amanuensis.” Blackbourne's MS., however, only contained part of the tract; but the emendations it afforded were so important, as to render, he states, the work in a manner new. The Statute of Uses is the 27 Hen. VIII. c. 10; a law,” says Bacon," whereupon the inheritances of this realm are tossed at this day, like a ship upon the sea, in such sort, that it is hard to say which bark will sink, and which will get to the haven ; that is to say, what assurances will stand good, and what will not.” This Reading upon the Statute of Uses is considered to be creditable to Bacon's legal learning.
The • Account of the lately erected Service called the Office of Compositions for Alienations,' first printed in the Appendix to the Third Volume of what is called Mallet's edition of Bacon's Works, 3 vols. folio, 1753, from a MS. in the Library of the Inner Temple, and described as having been written (about the close of 1598) by Mr. Francis Bacon”-a performance in admiration of which Bacon's biographers have been particularly enthusiastic, and which has kept its place