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His observations are those of one who well knew the world, and they come home to men's business and bosoms. As Dugald Stewart justly remarks,* the novelty and depth of his reflections often receive a strong relief from the triteness of his subject.' There always was such definiteness in the author's conceptions, that his ideas are often worded with all the point and brevity of a proverb. He was so great a master of language, that Dr. Johnson declared, † that from his works alone an English
consisted, it is said, of Bacon's Essays. See Montagu's Life, note (3 I.)
* Introd. to Encyclopædia Britannica, p. 36.
+ He told me that Bacon was a favourite author with him; but he had never read his works till he was compiling the English Dictionary, in which, he said, I might see Bacon very often quoted. Mr. Seward recollects his having mentioned, that a dictionary of the English language might be compiled from Bacon's writings alone, and that he had once an intention of giving an edition of Bacon, at least of his English works, and writing the life of that great man.'-Boswell, vol. 3, p. 212, sixth edition. Speaking of Bacon's Essays, Dr. Johnson, on one occasion, observed, “Their
Dictionary might be compiled. His style is axiomatic. His sentences were not composed, but cast,—and cast in gold.
Soon after the publication of his Essays, Bacon, hoping, no doubt, to better his fortune, endeavoured to unite himself in marriage with the rich lady Hatton. Writing to lord Essex, he tells him, that this attempt, in genere economico, touching his fortune, was, in genere politico, blown contrary by certain cross winds; and he begged his friend to use his influence with the lady and her parents. Happily, however, for Bacon, his suit was rejected : a few months afterwards the lady Hatton married sir Edward Coke, and, by her haughty and intemperate conduct, deeply
excellence and their value consist in their being observations of a strong mind operating upon life, and, in consequence, you find there what you seldom find in any other works.'- Malone's edition of sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, xxviii.
embittered his life. * A curious circumstance, connected with this marriage, deserves to be noticed. Having been illegally solemnized in a private house, without the license of the Archbishop, (Whitgift,) proceedings were instituted in the Ecclesiastical Court against all the parties concerned, including even lord Burleigh. Strange to say, the penalties were remitted on the ground that sir Edward Coke had acted in ignorance of the law!
In the year 1600, Bacon was chosen Double Reader, and on this occasion delivered his celebrated Reading on the Sta
* See D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, vol. 5, p. 1, where he gives some singular details of Coke's domestic history.
+ Formerly it was a custom in the Four Inns of Court for one of the puisne Benchers to deliver a Reading' yearly, in summer vacation, and for one of the Benchers who had read' before, to read again in Lent vacation; hence he was commonly called Lent or Double Reader (Duplex Lector.)-Dugdale's Orig. Jurid. 144; and see Preface to 3 Coke's Reports, xix.
tute of Uses,-a reading which one of our ablest lawyers considered as very profound, showing that the author had the clearest conception of this most abstruse part of the law. *
He begins hy observing, that 'if my invention or judgment be too barren or too weak, yet, by the benefit of other arts, I did hope to dispose or digest the authorities and opinions which are in cases of uses, in such order and method, as they should take light from one another, though they took no light from me;' and then proceeds to say, that 'my meaning is to revive and recontinue the ancient form of reading, being of less ostentation and more fruit than the manner lately accustomed; for the use then was, substantially to expound the statutes by grounds and diversities; as you shall find the reading still to run upon cases of like law and contrary law; whereof the one in
* Mr. Hargrave's note, Coke upon Littleton, 13 a n. 2.
cludes the learning of a ground, the other the learning of a difference; and not to stir conceits and subtle doubts, or to contrive a multitude of tedious and intricate cases, whereof all, saving one, are buried, and the greater part of that one case which is taken is commonly nothing to the matter in hand; but my labour shall be in the ancient course, to open the law upon doubts,
, and not to open doubts upon the law.' He then enters upon an examination of the statute, treating, in the first place, of the nature and definition of a use, its inception and progression before the statute, and then of uses since the statute, here rigidly analysing the act. • I would wish all readers,' he adds, that expound statutes, to do as scholars are willed to do, that is, first to seek out the principal verb; that is, to note and single out the material words whereupon this statute is framed; for there are, in every statute, certain words which are veins where the life and blood of the