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These impediments ceased, in a great measure, upon the accession of the Scottish king, and the only remaining obstacle was removed by advancing Coke to the chief justiceship of the 'Common Pleas; thus opening the way for Bacon to the solicitorship, to which office he was appointed on the 25th of June, 1607.* tions put an end to that disgraceful rivalship which, ulcering the very hearts of these
* Writing to the earl of Salisbury, I am not ignorant,' said Bacon, 'how mean a thing I stand for in desiring to come into the solicitor's place; for I know well it is not the thing it hath been; time having wrought an alteration both in the profession and in that special place. Yet because I think it will increase my practice, and because I have been voiced to it, I would be glad it were done.'-Bacon's Works, vol 12, p. 63; and see his letter to the king, where he says, 'I would be glad now at last to be solicitor, chiefly because I think it will increase my practice, wherein God blessing me a few years, I may mend my state, and so after fall to my studies and ease, whereof one is requisite for my body, and the other serveth for my mind.'Ib. 15.
distinguished men, would sometimes break out, even in court, into a feverish bitterness which nothing could subdue.
A specimen of Coke's unfortunate infirmity of temper, (we use the mildest term, some would call it brutality,) will be found in the appended Notes.*
About two years after his appointment to the office of Solicitor-General, Bacon published his Wisdom of the Ancients,' in which, from the ancient allegories, he endeavours to elicit some implicit truths, contemplated, as he supposes, by the original authors of them, but concealed from the common eye. Perhaps it will be thought by the judicious reader, that Bacon often accepts his own reflections for those of another,--seeing more than is signified. • The admirers of antiquity,' it is said, “were charmed with this discourse, which seems expressly calculated to justify their
* See Note (C.)'
admiration; and, on the other hand, their opposites were no less pleased with a piece from which they thought they could demonstrate, that the sagacity of modern genius had found out much better meanings for the ancients than ever
were meant by them.'*
In August, 1610, Bacon lost his accomplished mother. Writing, on the 27th of this month, to his kind friend, sir Michael Hickes, he says, 'It is but a wish, and not any ways to desire it to your trouble, but I heartily wish I had your company here at my mother's funeral, which I purpose on Thursday next, in the forenoon. I dare promise you a good sermon, to be made by Mr. Fenton, the preacher of Gray's Inn; for he never maketh other feast: I make none; but if I might have your company for two or three days at my house, I should pass
* Biog. Brit. art. Bacon, vol. 1, p. 383; Shaw's Preface to his Abridgment of Bacon's Works.
over this mournful occasion with more comfort.'* She was buried in St. Michael's Church, St. Albans.
About this time, Bacon was made one of the judges of the Knight-Marshal's Court, then lately erected by letters patent, within the verge of the king's palace; and, on the 9th of June, 1616, he was sworn one of the king's Privy Council, having, about three years before, succeeded sir Henry Hobart as Attorney-Generalet upon which occasion he was permitted, contrary to all precedent, (so popular was he with the Commons,) to retain his seat in the lower House, although, by virtue of his office, an attendant upon the lords.I
* Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 481. This letter and the affectionate allusion to his mother in his will, are the only notices of lady Bacon that a diligent search has discovered in the works of her illustrious son.
+ Dugdale has erroneously stated, that Bacon was Attorney-General to Queen Elizabeth.—Orig. Jurid.
While Attorney-General, he endeavoured to put an end to private duels, which were then very common; and the charge which he delivered in the Star-Chamber, upon informations exhibited against William Priest and Richard Wright, as principal and second, was so highly approved of by the lords of the council, that they directed it to be printed and published, 'as very meet and worthy to be remembered and made known unto the world.' He begins by considering the nature and greatness of the mischief of Duelling: 'it troubleth peace, it disfurnisheth war, it bringeth calamity upon private men, peril upon the state, and contempt upon the law.' Touching the causes of it,' he observes, the first motive, no doubt, is a false and erroneous imagination of honour and credit. But then the seed of this mischief being such, it is nourished by vain discourses, and green and unripe conceits. Hereunto may be added that men have almost lost the true notion and understanding