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With the view of ensuring a better and more regular administration of justice in chancery, Bacon promulgated a series of ordinances, which settled, in some measure, the then practice of the court; and it deserves to be noticed that, in this year, (1617,) he obtained a patent from the king, constituting two law reporters, with an annual salary of one hundred pounds each. The patent prescribed, that before publication, all the reports of adjudged cases should be first reviewed by the judges, particularly the lord Keeper. Recollecting the racking which the reports of sir Edward Coke underwent, in order to satisfy the scruples of the king, we cannot for a moment doubt, that the design of this reviewal was to guard against the publication of any thing tending to the prejudice of the prerogative royal.*
In 1618, Bacon was made lord Chancellor, created Baron of Verulam, and soon after
* A copy of the patent is given in Rymer's Fædera, vol. 17, p. 27; and see Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 344.
wards Viscount St. Alban, * which he reckoned his eighth rise or reach, a diapason in music, even a good number and accord for a close.' And so, adds Bacon, I may without superstition be buried in St. Alban's habit or vestment.t
On the 22nd January, 1620, Bacon completed his sixtieth year, celebrating this day, in company with his friends, (among whom was Ben Jonson,) at York House, his birthplace. Upon this occasion the following verses were composed, and most likely recited by the poet himself:
‘Hail, happy genius of this ancient pile!
* Rymer's Foedera, vol. 17, pp. 55, 17, 279. † Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 403.
Son to the grave wise keeper of the seal.,
Despairing, at his advanced age, of ever completing the whole of the Instauration, Bacon, in October, 1620, published the Novum Organum.
"I number my days,' said he, and would have it saved.'
In grandeur of design, and in the greatness of its influence on the
of science, the INSTAURATIO MAGNA stands alone in the literature of philosophy. The author had no pattern, and his work hath no parallel. It operated like the birth of a new sun; it divided the light from the darkness, and disclosed the high and everlasting firmament of Truth. Bacon here surveyed the whole world of philosophy; he reported its deficiencies, rectified many of its errors, and even penetrated into regions before untrod. He did more: he revealed to man the grand secret of his strength:—that by obeying nature, he might subdue her. His zeal and constancy in the pursuit of knowledge, instead of abating with age, seem rather to have gathered strength:
• Nor number, nor example with him wrought
He knew himself by inward calling,—these are his own words,--to be fitter to hold a book than to play a part. 'I have led my life,' he said, 'in civil causes, for which I was not very fit by nature, and more unfit by the pre-occupation of my mind.*' Though
* Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 82; and see p. 44.
engaged in the weightiest affairs of the kingdom, he had, said one who knew him well,* so high an account of the truth of things, that no day could pass wherein he gave not liberty to his wise thoughts of looking upon the works of nature.
It is interesting to learn what the illustrious author himself thought of this the greatest of his works, and happily he has left us abundant means of doing so in his most interesting letters, which he carefully preserved.t It is of his Instauration that
* Mr. Matthew, Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 294.
+ 'I find,' said lord Bacon, in a letter to Dr. Williams, bishop of Lincoln, 'I find that the ancients, (as Cicero, Demosthenes, Plinius Secundus, and others,) have preserved both their orations and epistles; in imitation of whom I have done the like to my own, which nevertheless I will not publish while I live; but I have been bold to bequeath them to your lordship, and Mr. Chancellor of the duchy. My speeches, perhaps, you will think fit to publish. The letters, many of them, touch too much upon late matters of state, to be published, yet I was willing they should not be lost.'—Bacon's Works, vol. 12, p. 202; and see