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three long vacations I would reserve, in some measure, free CHAP. from business of estate, and for studies, arts, and sciences, to which, in my own nature, I am most induced.*

"There is another point of true expedition which resteth much in itself, and that is in my manner of giving orders. For I have seen an affectation of despatch turn utterly to delay at length. But I mean not to purchase the praise of expedition in that kind. My endeavour shall be to hear patiently, and to cast my order into such a mold as may soonest bring the subject to the end of his journey.

"I will maintain strictly and with severity the former orders which I find my Lord Chancellor hath taken for the immoderate and needless prolixity and length of bills and answers, as well in punishing the party as fining the counsel whose hand I shall find at such bills and answers.

"I shall be careful there be no exaction of any new fees, but according as they have been heretofore set and tabled. As for lawyers' fees, I must leave that to the conscience and merit of the lawyer, and the estimation and gratitude of the client."

After touching on other topics rather of temporary interest, he intimates his intention, for the sake of the junior barristers who could not be heard above once or twice in a term, to hear motions every Tuesday between nine and eleven,- and he proceeds to announce to their Lordships what he truly calls" a fancy" which would cause a mutiny at the bar in our times. "It falleth out that there be three of us the King's servants, in great places, that are lawyers by descent, Mr. Attorney, son of a Judge, Mr. Solicitor, likewise son of a Judge, and myself, a Chancellor's son. Now, because the law roots so well in my time, I will water it at the root thus far, as besides these great ones I will hear any Judge's son before a Serjeant, and any Serjeant's son before a reader, if there be not many of them."

He announced that he was preparing "new orders" to regulate the practice of the Court,—and again proclaimed his loyalty by saying,-"It is my comfort to serve such a

CHAP. Master, that I shall need to be but a conduit only for the


His account of the cere


King's approbation

of his ad. dress.

conveying of his goodness to his people,”-not omitting a pious compliment to his father,-"optimus magistratus præstat optimæ legi; for myself I doubt I shall not attain it; yet I have a domestic example to follow."*

Next morning he wrote an account of the ceremony to Buckingham:-"Yesterday I took my place in Chancery, which I hold only for the King's grace and favour, and your constant friendship. There was much ado and a great deal of world: but this matter of pomp which is heaven to some men, is hell to me (?) or purgatory at least. It is true I was glad to see that the King's choice was so generally ap proved, and that I had so much interest in men's goodwill and good opinions, because it maketh me a fitter instrument to do my Master service, and my friend also. After I was set in Chancery, I published his Majesty's charge which he gave me when he gave me the Seal, and what rules and resolutions I had taken for the fulfilling his commandments. I send your Lordship a copy of what I said. Men tell me it hath done the King a great deal of honour, insomuch that some of my friends that are wise and no vain ones, did not stick to say to me that there was not this seven years such a preparation for a parliament,-which was a commendation I confess pleased me well. I pray take some fit time to show it his Majesty, because if I misunderstood him in any thing, I may amend it, because I know his judgment is higher and deeper than mine. †

He was greatly delighted with the following answer: "I have acquainted his Majesty with your letter and the papers that came enclosed, who is exceedingly well satisfied — especially with the speech you made at the taking of your place in the Chancery. Whereby his Majesty perceiveth that you have not only given proof how well you understand the place of a Chancellor, but done him much right also in giving notice to those that were present, that you have received such instructions from his Majesty, whose honour will

* Works, iv. 486.

+ Works, v. 469. Bacon no doubt expected that the letter as well as the address would be laid before the King.


be so much the greater in that all men will acknowledge the CHAP. sufficiency and worthiness of his Majesty's choice in preferring a man of such abilities to that place, which besides cannot but be a great advancement and furtherance to his service; and I can assure your Lordship that his Majesty was never so well pleased as he is with this account you have given him of this passsage."*

The Lord Keeper resolved to show what could be effected by vigour and perseverance. He sat forenoon and afternoon,— coming punctually into Court and staying a little beyond his time to finish a matter, which if postponed might have taken another day, most patiently listening to every thing that could assist him in arriving at a right conclusion, but giving a broad hint to counsel by a question, a shrug, or a look, when they were wandering from the subject, not baulking the hopes of the suitors by breaking up to attend a Cabinet or the House of Lords,—not encouraging lengthiness at the bar to save the trouble of thought, -not postponing judgment till the argument was forgotten, not seeking to allay the discontent of the bar by "nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles."

At the end of one month he had satisfactorily cleared off the whole arrear, and on the 8th of June he thus exultingly writes to Buckingham:


The Lord Keeper's great des

patch in

the Court

of Chan


His letter


ing that there were

no arrears

in the

My very good Lord, - This day I have made even with the business of the kingdom for common justice; not one cause unheard; the lawyers drawn dry of all the motions they were to make; not one petition unanswered. And this I think could not be said in our age before. This I speak Court. not out of ostentation, but out of gladness when I have done my duty. I know men think I cannot continue if I should thus oppress myself with business; but that account is made. The duties of life are more than life; and if I die now, I shall die before the world will be weary of me, which in our times is somewhat rare." He then goes on to mention a slight attack of the gout in his foot, which he ascribed to "changing from a field air to a Thames air," that is from Gray's Inn to


He gives dinners to

the Judges

and the bar.

York House, of which he had now taken possession with great delight, as his father had so long occupied it, and it was the place of his own birth.*

To gain the good will of the profession, he wisely revived a practice which having succeeded well with Lord Chancellor Hatton, had fallen into desuetude, and which all prudent Chancellors follow, to give dinners to the Judges and the leaders of the bar.† He sends the following account in a letter to Buckingham of his first banquet:—

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Yesterday, which was my weary day, I bid all the Judges to dinner, which was not used to be, and entertained them in a private withdrawing chamber with the learned counsel. When the feast was past, I came amongst them and sat me down at the end of the table, and prayed them to think I was one of them and but a foreman. ‡ I told them I was weary, and therefore must be short, and would now speak to them upon two points." The first was about injunctions:— “I plainly told them that, for my part, as I would not suffer any the least diminution or derogation from the ancient and due power of the Chancery, so if any thing should be brought to


* York House having been the residence of so many Chancellors and Lord Keepers, and being so often mentioned, some farther account of it may please the curious reader. The see of York being deprived of its ancient inn by Wolsey's cession of Whitehall to Henry VIII., Heath, Archbishop of York and Chancellor, purchased a piece of land and certain old buildings between the river Thames and the Strand, near where Villiers Street now stands; there he erected York House in which he resided, and which, under leases from successive Archbishops of York, was occupied by almost all the holders of the Great Seal who succeeded him down to Lord Bacon. The hall was fitted as a court for business in the afternoons and out of term, and it contained various accommodations for the Chancellor's officers. Coming by exchange to the Crown after the fall of Bacon, it was granted to Buckingham. Being seized as forfeited by the Long Parliament, it was granted to Lord Fairfax, - but reverting to the second Duke of Buckingham, he sold it for building, and there were erected upon it "George Street," Villiers Street," "Duke Street," and "Buckingham Street," which with "Of Alley," still preserve his name and title, the lines of Pope being a lasting record of his infamy.

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†The complaints of Lord Eldon's delays were much aggravated by his nonfeazance in this respect. During a course of professional dinners by Sir John Leach, Romilly observed, that "the Master of the Rolls was very properly clearing off the arrears of the Lord Chancellor."

I do not exactly understand how my Lord Keeper Bacon comported himself on this occasion. Are we to understand that he could not be at table during dinner from indisposition? or that he was too great to eat with his company, and condescendingly asked them to "think he was one of them," when he came in to harangue them? Whoever has had the good fortune to be present when Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst presides at similar dinners, will form a better opinion of the manners of the man and the times.

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them at any time touching the proceedings of the Chancery CHAP. which did seem to them exorbitant or inordinate, that they should freely and friendly acquaint me with it, and we should soon agree; or if not, we had a Master that could easily both discern and rule. At which speech of mine, besides a great deal of thanks and acknowledgment, I did see chear and comfort in their faces, as if it were a new world." The second point was, requiring from each of them a written account of what they had done and observed on circuits, to be sent to the King. What was not so laudable, he already began to tamper Tampers privately with the Judges, and soliciting such of them as were most apt for his purpose, prosecuted a scheme for extending still farther the usurped jurisdiction of the High

Commission Court.


He continued regularly to correspond on all matters of State with the King and Buckingham, who were holding a parliament in Scotland, in the vain hope of establishing episcopacy in that country. Having at first ventured to oppose the projected matrimonial alliance between Prince Charles and the Infanta of Spain, he yielded to the King's wishes, and did all in his power to promote it.

He was thus in the highest possible favour, when suddenly his inextinguishable enmity to Sir E. Coke had nearly produced his own ruin. Not satisfied with turning him out of his office of Chief Justice, and erasing his name from the list of Privy Councillors, he still went on with the absurd charge against him about his Reports, and hoped to "make a Star Chamber business of it."*

with the

Judges about High sion Court.



The Ex-chief Justice counteracted this scheme by a most Bacon indiscreetly masterly stroke of policy. His second wife, Lady Hatton, opposes had brought him one child, a daughter, who was to succeed marriage to all her mother's immense property. This heiress he of- Buckingfered in marriage to Sir John Villiers, the brother of the favourite, who was eager for the aggrandisement of his family. The proposal was highly agreeable to both brothers


I did call upon the committees also for the proceeding in their purging of Sir Edward Coke's Reports, which I see they go on with seriously."- Bacon

ham's bro

ther and

Sir E.



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