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be made useful by good differences, ampliations, and limitations, warranted by good authorities, and this not by raising up of quotations and references, but by discourse and deducement in a just tractate.' 'In this,' he adds, evidently alluding to his Maxims, I have travelled myself, at the first more cursorily, since with more diligence, and will go on with it.'*
The generalizing character of Bacon's mind,--that habit of always contemplating particulars in their principles, and principles in their particulars, which he had in so eminent a degree, appears not only in his great philosophical works, but even in this his first Law Tract.
It is obvious, that the subject of this trea
* Bacon's Works, vol. 5, p. 350. 'I am in good hope,' he adds, though in this he was mistaken, that when sir Edward Coke's Reports and my rules and decisions shall come to posterity, there will be, whatsoever is now thought, question, who was the greatest lawyer?'
tise was too technical to admit of that ‘fusion of imagination with reason'* which characterizes his principal works. In the Preface, however, Bacon's genius displays itself in a fine piece of composition, full of those noble thoughts which at once stamp the author as the intellectual sovereign of his age. It is much too long for our limits, and, as Fuller said of John Huss's notable speech, “it is all so excellent, that compendium would be dispendium thereof.'+
Although at one time popular, this work
* Sir James Mackintosh, Life of sir Thomas More, p. 1,--the most finished and beautiful piece of biography, (with the exception of Mr. Southey's Life of Nelson,) which has been published in modern times. It is to be regretted, that sir James Mackintosh has not yet met with a suitable biographer. We know that whilst in India he drew up a short memoir of himself :-why is this not published ?
† Fuller's Abel Redevivus, p. 18. 'Fuller,' said the late Charles Lamb to one of the friends of the author, “had a language of his own. His was not fine writing or good English, &c.;—nothing of the sort. Sir, he wrote in wit!'
is now held in little or no esteem, principally, no doubt, on account of its not being upon a level with the present state of our jurisprudence. Since the time of Bacon, British industry and enterprise, by opening sources of wealth and commerce unimagined before, have multiplied the relations of civil life, and necessarily originated innumerable usages, which the judges and the legislature have, from time to time, incorporated into our legal system. So long, indeed, as society continues to advance, the science of jurisprudence cannot remain stationary ;—the one involves the other. *
But if the substance of lord Bacon's work on the Elements of the Law has thus become defective, the plan of it deserves, we think, attention, as an excellent model,
* See Von Savigny's Vocation of our Age for Legislation and Jurisprudence, in which this subject is developed with the author's wonted ingenuity and erudition. He again adverts to it in the opening of his History of the Roman Law. See also Jackson's Four Ages, p. 46.
which any future writer of a work auxiliary to the study of the law will do well to consult, if not pursue.
In 1597, he published a volume of his Essays,' in order, as it appears, to prevent the printing of a surreptitious copy which had got abroad, likening himself to one who has an orchard ill-neighboured, that gathers his fruit before it is ripe, to prevent stealing. • I disliked,' he says, in a letter to his brother, 'now to put them out, because they will be like the late newe halfe-pence, which, though the silver were good, yet the pieces were small. But since they would not stay with their master, but would needs travel abroad, I have preferred them to you, that are next myself, dedicating them, such as they are, to our love, in the depth whereof, I assure you, I sometimes wish your infirmities translated upon my selfe,
* The late Professor Park meditated a course of lectures on the maxims of the law, perhaps after lord Bacon's plan.
that her majesty might have the service of so active and able a mind, and I might be, with excuse, confined to these contemplations and studies, for which I am fittest.'
These writings he considered but as the recreations of his other studies, * and accordingly continued them, publishing in subsequent editions several additional Essays; and it is an interesting fact, that the one on Friendship was written at the request of his earliest and latest friend, Mr. Matthew.pt Of all lord Bacon's works, this has ever been the most popular. I
* 'I am not ignorant,' he says, “that this kind of writings would, with less pains and assiduity, perhaps, yield more lustre and reputation to my name than the others I have in hand; but I judge the use a man should seek in publishing his writings before his death, to be but an untimely anticipation of that which is proper to follow, and not to go along with him.'Bacon's Works, vol. 1, p.
xvi. + 'For the Essay of Friendship, while I took your speech of it for a cursory request, I took my promise for a compliment; but since you call for it, I shall perform it.'—Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 448.
The first book published in Philadelphia partly