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Knowing that the efficacy of criminal legislation consists in duly poising the powers of law, religion, and morals; and being aware of the common erroneous supposition, that, by an increase in the quantity of any agent, its beneficial effects are also increased, (a) he warned the community that the acerbity of a law ever deadened the execution, by associating compassion with guilt, and confounding the gradation of crime, and that the sentiment of justice in the public mind is as much or more injured by a law which outrages public feeling, as by a law which falls short or disappoints the just indignation of the community.

But, not confining his professional exertions to the discharge of the common duties of a public prosecutor, he availed himself of his situation to advance justice and humanity, and composed a work for compiling and amending the laws of England, which he dedicated to the King. (a) "Your majesty," he says, "of your favour having made me privy councillor, and continuing me in the place of your Attorney General, I take it to be my duty not only to speed your commandments and the business of my place, but to meditate and to excogitate of myself, wherein I may best, by my travails, derive your virtues to the good of your people, and return their thanks

is mercy, is wholly left in the King's immediate hand: and justice and mercy are the true supporters of his royal throne.

"If the King shall be wholly intent upon justice, it may appear with an over-rigid aspect; but if he shall be over-remiss and easy, it draweth upon him contempt. Examples of justice must be made sometimes for terror to some; examples of mercy sometimes, for comfort to others; the one procures fear, and the other love. A king must be both feared and loved, else he is lost."

(a) Debent igitur homines ludibrium illud mulieris Æsopi cogitare; quae sperârat ex duplicatâ mensurâ hordei gallinam suam duo ova quotidie parituram. At illa impinguata nullum peperit.-De Augmentis, LV. v. 8. p. 267.

and increase of love to you again. And after I had thought of many things, I could find, in my judgment, none more proper for your majesty as a master, nor for me as a workman, than the reducing and recompiling the laws of England." (a)

In this tract, having traced the exertions of different legislators from Moses to Augustus, he says, "Cæsar si ab eo quæreretur quid egisset in togâ, leges se respondisset multas et præclarus tulisse;" and his nephew Augustus did tread the same steps but with deeper print, because of his long reign in peace, whereof one of the poets of his time saith,

"Pace data terris animum ad civilia vertit

Jura suum, legesque tulit justissimus auctor." (b)


From July, 1610, until this period, there had not been any parliament sitting; and the King, unable to procure Æt. 54. the usual supplies, had recourse, by the advice of Lord Salisbury, to modes injurious to himself, and not warranted by the constitution. Bacon, foreseeing the evils which must result from these expedients, implored the King to discontinue them, and to summon a parliament. (c)

(a) See note C C at the end.

(b) So, too, Sir Samuel Romilly, who was animated by a spirit public as nature, was no sooner promoted to the office of Solicitor General, than he submitted to parliament his proposals for the improvement of the bankrupt law and the criminal law. "Long," he says, "has England been a scene of carnage and desolation; a brighter prospect has now opened before us.

-Peace hath her victories

Not less renowned than war."*

* Multis ille flebilis occidit
Nulli flebilior mihi.

(c) *** I will make two prayers unto your majesty. The one is, that these cogitations of want do not any ways

A parliament was accordingly summoned, and met in April, 1614, when the question, whether the Attorney General was eligible to sit in the house was immediately agitated; and, after debate and search of precedents, it was resolved, that, by reason of his office, he ought not

trouble or vex your mind, I remember Moses saith of the land of promise, that it was not like the land of Egypt that was watered with a river, but was watered with showers from heaven; whereby I gather, God preferreth sometimes uncertainties before certainties, because they teach a more immediate dependance upon his providence. Sure I am, nil novi accidit vobis. It is no new thing for the greatest kings to be in debt; and, if a man shall parvis componere magna, I have seen an Earl of Leicester, a Chancellor Hatton, an Earl of Essex, and an Earl of Salisbury in debt; and yet was it no manner of diminution to their power or greatness.

My second prayer is, that your majesty, in respect of the hasty freeing of your estate, would not descend to any means, or degree of means, which carrieth not a symmetry with your majesty and greatness. He is gone from whom those courses did wholly flow. So have your wants and necessities in particular, as it were, hanged up in two tablets before the eyes of your Lords and Commons, to be talked of for four months together; to have all your courses to help yourself in revenue or profit put into printed books, which were wont to be held arcana imperii; to have such worms of aldermen to lend for ten in the hundred upon good assurance, and with such **, as if it should save the bark of your fortune; to contract still where might be had the readiest payment, and not the best bargain; to stir a number of projects for your profit, and then to blast them, and leave your majesty nothing but the scandal of them; to pretend an even carriage between your majesty's rights and the ease of the people, and to satisfy neither. These

to sit in the House of Commons, as he was an attendant on the Lords; but it was resolved that the present Attorney General shall for this parliament remain in the house, although this privilege shall not extend to any future attorney general.

11 Jac.


Upon his entrance on the discharge of his legal duties, Duelling. an opportunity to eradicate error accidentally presented itself. Amongst the criminal informations filed in the Star Et. 54. Chamber by his predecessor, he found a charge against two obscure persons for the crime of duelling. Of this opportunity he instantly availed himself, to expose the nature of these false imaginations of honour, by which, in defiance of virtue, disregard of the law, and contempt of religion, vice and ignorance raise themselves in the world upon the reputation of courage; and high-minded youth, full of towardness and hope, such as the poets call "auroræ filii," sons of the morning, are deluded by this fond disguise and puppetry of honour. (a)

courses, and others the like, I hope, are gone with the deviser of them, which have turned your majesty to inestimable prejudice.

I hope your majesty will pardon my liberty of writing. I know these things are majora quam pro fortuná: but they are minor a quam pro studio et voluntate. I assure myself your majesty taketh not me for one of a busy nature; for my state being free from all difficulties, and I having such a large field for contemplations, as I have partly, and shall much more make manifest to your majesty and the world, to occupy my thoughts, nothing could make me active but love and affection. So praying my God to bless and favour your person and estate, &c.

(a) In the tract, which may be found in vol. vi. p. 108, he considers, 1st, the mischiefs of duelling; 2ndly, the causes; 3rdly, the origin, &c. and various other topics,


The King's great object in summoning a parliament was the hope to obtain supplies; a hope which was totally defeated by a rumour that several persons, attached to

In considering the mischiefs, he says, "It is a miserable effect, when young men full of towardness and hope, such as the poets call 'auroræ filii,' sons of the morning, in whom the expectation and comfort of their friends consisteth, shall be cast away and destroyed in such a vain manner."

In considering the causes, he says, "The first motive, no doubt, is a false and erroneous imagination of honour; by which the spirits of young men, that bear great minds are deluded and carried away by a stream of vulgar opinion, to which men of value feel a necessity to conform.

He then shews that this invention of modern times originated in France, and was unknown to the ancients in Greece and Rome the most valiant and generous nations of the world; and when, amongst the Turks, there was a combat of this kind performed by two persons of quality, wherein one of them was slain; the other party was convened before the Bashaw, by whom the reprehension was in these words: "How durst you undertake to fight one with the other? Are there not Christians enough to kill?"

He then says, "For this apprehension of a disgrace, that a fillip to the person should be a mortal wound to the reputation, it were good that men did hearken unto the saying of Gonsalvo, the great and famous commander, that was wont to say a gentleman's honour should be "de telâ crassiore," of a good strong warp or web, that every little thing should not catch in it; when, as now, it sems they are but of cobweb lawn or such light stuff, which certainly is weakness, and not true greatness of mind, but like a sick man's body that is so tender that it feels every thing."

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