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apparent theft; for he had taken most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus, and translated them into English, and put them into his text. And another time, when the Queen would not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author; and said, with great indignation, that she would have him racked to disclose his author: I replied; Nay, madam, he is a doctor, never rack his person, but rack his style; let him have pen, ink, and paper, and help of books, and be enjoined to continue the story where it breaketh off, and I will undertake, by collating the styles, to judge whether he were the author or no.'*
Most of Bacon's enlightened suggestions, offered more than two hundred years ago, the present age has had the wisdom to adopt. Our ablest jurists have been, and now are, engaged in the noble task of pruning the
* Bacon's Works, vol. 6, p 259.
redundancies of our laws, of mitigating their severity, of reducing them to order and harmony. Already, says Mr. Warren, in his late excellent work on Law Studies, • there has been a real reform,—a practical, searching, comprehensive reform of the common law; a shaking down of innumerable dead leaves and rotten branches; a cutting away of all the shoots of prurient vegetation, which served but to disfigure the tree, and to conceal and injure its fruit. Now you may see, in the common law, a tree, noble in its height and figure, sinewy in its branches, green in its garment, and goodly in its fruit. All who will may climb into its boughs, and "pluck the truthfraught apple.
What a noble monument is this to the memory of Bacon, that he, unaided and alone, should at once have gained that high vantage-ground, towards which we have
* Warren's Introduction to Law Studies, p. 12.
been climbing, or rather creeping, since his death, for above two centuries, and have only just now reached !
The same fruitful and powerful mind which discoursed so eloquently and profoundly on the advancement and proficiency of learning, which expounded most luminously many of the subtlest doctrines of our law of real property, which projected the wisest plan for ameliorating the unhappy condition of Ireland, and grasped at once all the complexities of juridical reform, appears equally pre-eminent in the delicate and difficult task of detecting the causes of the controversies and abuses in the church, and of pointing out the best mode of ensuring its pacification and reform. The sectarian spirit which distracted the English church during the respective reigns of Elizabeth and James, was of a character which could not be overlooked by any one who had the good of his country at heart. Nor ought the experience of the past to be neglected
in such days as these of sects and schisms. Let us not idly reckon history as an old almanac, but rather listen to it as the voice of an ancient prophet, speaking of the age in which we live.
• It is very true,' said Bacon, that these ecclesiastical matters are things not appertaining to my profession; which I was not so inconsiderate but to object to myself; but finding that it is many times seen that a man that standeth off, and somewhat removed from a plot of ground, doth better survey it and discover it than those which are upon it, I thought it not impossible, but that I, as a looker on, might cast mine eyes upon some things which the actors themselves, especially some being interested, some led and addicted, some declared and engaged, did not or would not see.'*
* Bacon's Works, vol. 7, p. 62. The simplicity and sincerity of Bacon's affection for the church appear from that most solemn address which he was accustomed to utter in his devotions:
*I have loved thy assemblies; I have mourned for
In his first tract on the Church, written in the reign of Elizabeth, * Bacon, after clearing the ground by some preliminary observations, begins by remarking that it cannot be denied that the imperfections in the conversation and government of those which have chief place in the church, have ever been
the divisions of thy church; I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine, which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee, that it might have the first and the latter rain; and that it might stretch her branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes: I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart: I have, though in a despised weed, procured the good of all
If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them; neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found thee in thy temples.'-Ib. p. 3.
* It is entitled, 'dn Advertisement touching the Controversies of the Church of England.'—Bacon's Works, vol 7, p. 28.