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These contemplations were as vast as his civil ends were moderate; ‘for I have taken,' he says, 'all knowledge to be my province, and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers, whereof the one with frivolous disputations, confutations, and verbosities; the other with blind experiments and auricular traditions and impostures, hath committed so many spoils; I hope I should bring in industrious observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable inventions and discoveries, the best state of that province. This, whether it be curiosity or vain glory, or nature, or, if one take it favourably, philanthropia, is so fixed in my mind, as it cannot be removed.'* I
agoras did, who reduced himself with contemplation into voluntary poverty; but this I will do: I will sell the inheritance that I have, and purchase some lease of quick revenue, or some office of gain, that shall be executed by deputy, and so give over all care of service, and become some sorry book-maker, or a true pioneer in that mine of truth, which, he said, lay so deep.'Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 6.
* Letter to lord Burleigh, vol. 12, pp. 5, 6.
sought for office, he adds, because I see that place of any reasonable countenance doth bring commandment of more wits than of a man's own, which is the thing I greatly affect.' He well knew, that though the coin may be gold, yet 'tis the king's image that gives it currency.
• After the Queen,'--we adopt Bacon's own narrative,'had denied me the solicitor's place, for the which his lordship, the earl of Essex, had been a long and earnest suitor on my behalf, it pleased him to come to me from Richmond to Twickenham Park, and brake with me and said,-"Mr. Bacon, the Queen hath denied me the place for you, and hath placed another;* I know you are the least part of your own matter, but you
* Mr. Serjeant Fleming was appointed SolicitorGeneral on the 5th November, 1596. In his Orig. Jurid. p. 140, Dugdale gives a copy of the order by which the Queen, out of her especial grace and mere motion, discharges Thomas Fleming from the state and degree of serjeant at law.
fare ill because you
have chosen me for your mean and dependence; you have spent your time and thoughts in my matters; I die,” these were his very words, “if I do not somewhat towards your fortune, you shall not deny to accept a piece of land which I will bestow upon you.” My answer, I remember, was, that for my fortune it was no great matter, but that his lordship's offer made me call to mind what was wont to be said, when I was in France, of the duke of Guise, that he was the greatest usurer in France, because he had turned all his estate into obligations; meaning, that he had left himself nothing, but only had bound numbers of persons to him. “Now, my lord, said I, I would not have you imitate his course, nor turn your estate thus by great gifts into obligations, for you will find many bad debtors." He bade me take no care for that, and pressed it, whereupon I said, “My lord, I see I must be your homager, and hold land of your gift; but do you know
the manner of doing homage in law? Always it is with a saving of his faith to the king and his other lords; and therefore, my lord, said I, I can be no more yours than I was, and it must be with the ancient savings; and if I grow to be a rich man, you will give me leave to give it back again to some of your unrewarded followers.
Touched, perhaps, with the generosity or gratitude of his friend, or hoping still for courtly favour, Bacon now abandoned his second scheme of retirement, and applied himself, as it appears, with increased vigour, to the study and practice of the law. It was about this period of his life, that Bacon composed his treatise on the Elements of the Common Law, to which he prefixed a dedication to the Queen. This tract,
* Bacon's Works, vol. 6, pp. 249, 250.
+ It was published in 1630, with the following title :- The Common Lawes of England, branched into a double tract; the one containing a collection of some principall Rules and Maximes of the Common Law, and their it has been thought, * was written to convince Elizabeth, that the author was not so shallow a lawyer as Cecil or Coke had represented him to be: but if this was his design, why did he not publish it? The truth seems to be, that he hesitated to give to the world what he himself considered an unfinished work. In his proposition to king James, for compiling and amending the law, he speaks of a treatise de regulis juris,' as of all things the most important to the health and good institutions of any laws, being, like the ballast of a ship, to keep all upright and stable ; 'but I have seen,” he says, little in this kind, either in our law or other laws, that satisfieth me. The naked rule or maxim doth not the effect; it must
latitude and extent; explicated for the more facile Introduction of such as are studiously addicted to that noble Profession : the other, the Use of the Common Law, for the preservation of our Persons, Goods, and Good Names, according to the Lawes and Customes of this land.'
* D’Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, vol. 6, p. 111.