Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

nary priest, whom I converted wholly the last summer from popery. Upon his' coming to church, receiving the holy communion, and taking the oath of supremacy, I and the council here, about Michaelmas last, joined in petition to her majesty, for her gracious pardon, and commended the matter to one of the masters of requests, and writ also to Mr. Secretary to further it, if need were, which he willingly promised to do. 'In Michaelmas term nothing was done; and therefore in Hilary Term, I being put in mind, that all was not done in that court for God's sake only, sent up twenty French crowns of mine own purse, as a remembrancer of the poor man's pardon, which was thankfully accepted of.'*

* It was usual,' says Barrington, in his Observations on Magna Charta, p. 22, 'to pay fines anciently for delaying law proceedings even to the extent of the defendant's life; sometimes they were paid to expedite process and to obtain right; and in some cases, the parties litigant offered part of what they were to recover to the crown. Madox, in his History of the Exchequer,

Again, it should be observed, that although lord Bacon was punished for bribery and corruption, yet, if by corruption we mean the giving of unrighteous judgments, then assuredly (as Bacon most solemnly protested,) he was not guilty, of that crime. Soon after the appointment of Williams, dean of Westminster, to be lord Keeper, all the orders of his predecessor supposed to have been corruptly made, were referred to him by the Parliament to be reviewed ; * and after undergoing the severe scrutiny of one who

collects, likewise, many instances of fines for the King's favour; and particularly of the dean of London's paying twenty marks to the King, that he might assist him against the bishop, in a law suit. William Stutevill presented to king John three thousand marks, for giving judgment with relation to the barony of Mowbray, which Stutevill claimed against William de Mowbray.' And from Burnet we learn, that Charles the Second, whilst appeals were hearing in the House of Lords, used to go about and solicit particular lords, for appellant or respondent.-Barrington's Observations on Ancient Statutes, p. 23.

* Hacket's Scrinia Reserata, p. 53.

undoubtedly was no friend to Bacon, and possibly his greatest enemy, (for we strongly suspect that he counselled the King or Buckingham to compel lord Bacon to abandon his defence and make submission,) yet we are assured by Rushworth—himself a barrister—that 'though gifts rendered him suspected for injustice, yet never any decree made by him was reversed as unjust, as it hath been observed by some knowing in our laws.'* It is likewise affirmed by

* Rushworth’s Historical Collections, vol. 1, p. 31. Having adverted to the complaint, made in king James's reign, that there did not exist any appeal from chancery, Carte, the historian, informs us that this grievance (if it were one,) was soon redressed by the House of Lords, to which the discontented suitors, enraged at the loss of their causes, applied for relief against Bacon's decrees, as supposed to be made by corruption; but they were found too just to be reversed, and these first precedents seemed to establish that House's jurisdiction in receiving and determining appeals from the Court of Chancery.'—Carte's Hist. of England, vol. 4, p. 77. This work is the foundation of Hume's more elegant and philosophical, but not more authoritative and authentic, history.

Aubrey, (who may be considered a contemporary observer, for he was the friend of Hobbes,) that his lordship always gave judgment secundum æquum et bonum. His decrees in chancery stand firm, and there are fewer of his decrees reversed, than of any other Chancellor.'*

We would finally observe, that' Bacon suffered much from the exactions of certain of his secretaries and servants, who enriched themselves at the expense of their illustrious master, and his good name.t This formed

[ocr errors]

* Letters from the Bodleian Library, &c., vol, 2,

[ocr errors]

p. 226.

+ Three of his lordship’s servants, says Aubrey, kept their coaches, and some kept race-horses. His servant, Hunt, left an estate of one thousand pounds per annum in Somerset. Bacon was wont to say to this servant, (who was a notable thrifty man, and loved this world, and the only servant he had that he could never get to become bound for him,) the world was made for man (Hunt) and not man for the world. Upon his being in disfavour, his servants suddenly went away, and he compared them to the flying of the vermin when the house was falling.–Vol. 2, pp. 223, 226.

one of the articles of charge against him, to which he ingenuously replied, I confess, it was a great fault of neglect in me, that I looked no better to my servants.' In allusion to this, when some of his servants rose up as he passed through his hall, he said, with that sort of bitter pleasantry in which a breaking heart will sometimes seek relief, • Sit down, my masters, your rise hath been

my fall."

The foregoing facts warrant us, we think, in concluding, that though Bacon (to use his own inimitable language,) was frail, and partook of the abuses of the times, yet

Ill was thy fate, illustrious Bacon! frail
E’en though thou wert; (and who of human-kind
Dares boast that he is free from frailty ?)—thou,

Glory pursuing, wert perchance a prey
To confidence betray'd !-Imps, who with pale

Dissimulation, while thy mighty mind,
Intent on inward light, no outward brow

Could spare of circumspection, stole away
By foul corruption that great name, whose tale
Has filled the world with pity and with scorn.'

GNOMICA, ch, cxxviii.

« ForrigeFortsæt »