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The humble Submission and Supplication of the Lord Chancellor Bacon to
the House of Lords. May it please your Lordships, -I shall humbly crave at your hands a benign interpretation of that which I shall now write; for words that come from wasted spirits and oppressed minds are more safe in being deposited to a noble construction, than being circled with any reserved caution.
This being moved (and, as I hope, obtained of your lordships) as a protection to all that I shall say, I shall go on; but with a very strange entrance, as may seem to your lordships, at first ; for, in the midst of a state of as great affliction as, I think, a mortal man can endure (honour being above life); I shall begin with the professing of gladness in some things.
The first is, that hereafter the greatness of a judge or magistrate shall be no sanctuary or protection to him against guiltiness, which is the beginning of a golden work.
The next, that after this example, it is like that judges will Ay from any thing in the likeness of corruption (though it were at a great distance) as from a serpent; which tends to the purging of the courts of justice, and reducing them to their true honour and splendour. And in these two points (God is my witness) though it be my fortune to be the anvil upon which these two effects are broken and wrought, I take no small comfort. But to pass from the motions of my heart (whereof God is my judge) to the merits of my cause, whereof your lordships are judges, under God and his lieutenant; I'do understand there hath been heretofore expected from me some justification ; and therefore I have chosen one only justification, instead of all others, out of the justification of Job. For after the clear submission and confession which I shall now make unto your lordships, I hope I may say, and justify with Job, in these words, I have not hid my sin, as did Adam, nor concealed my faults in my bosoin. This is the only justification which I will use.
It resteth, therefore, that without fig-leaves, I do ingenuously confess and acknowledge that, having understood the particulars of the charge, not formally from the house, but enough to inform my conscience and memory, I find matter sufficient and full, both to move me to desert my defence, and to move your lordships to condemn and censure me. Neither will I trouble your lordships by singling these particulars, which I think might fall off. Quid te exempta juvat spinis de pluribus uva ? Neither will I prompt your lordships to observe upon the proofs, where they come not home, or the scruple touching the credits of the witnesses ; neither will I represent to your lordships how far a defence might, in divers things, extenuate the offence, in respect of the time and manner of the guilt, or the like circumstances; but only leave these things to spring out of your more noble thoughts and observations of the evidence and examinations themselves, and charitably to wind about the particulars of the charge here and there, as God shall put into your mind, and so submit myself wholly to your piety and grace.
And now I have spoken to your lordships as judges, I shall say a few words unto you as peers and prelates, humbly commending my cause to your noble minds and magnanimous affections.
Your lordships are not simply judges, but parliamentary judges ; you have a further extent of arbitrary power than other courts; and, if you be not tied by ordinary course of courts or precedents, in points of strictness and severity much less in points of mercy and mitigation : and yet, if any thing which I shall move might be contrary to your honourable and worthy' end (the introducing a reformation), I should not seek it. But herein I beseech your lord. ships to give me leave to tell you a story.
Titus Manlius took his son's life for giving battle against the prohibition of his general : not many years after, the like severity was pursued by Papirius Cursor, the dictator, against Quintus Maximus, who being upon the point to be sentenced, was, by the intercession of some particular persons of the senate, spared; whereupon Livy maketh this grave and gracious observation, Neque
minus firmata est disciplina militaris periculo Quinti Maximi, quam miserabili supplicio Titi Manlii. The discipline of war was no less established by the questioning of Quintus Maximus, than by the punishment of Titus Manlius. And the same reason is in the reformation of justice; for the questioning of men in eminent places hath the same terror, though not the same rigour with the punishment. But my cause stays not there ; for my humble desire is, that his majesty would take the seal into his hands, which is a great downfall, and may serve, I hope, in itself for an expiation of my faults.
Therefore, if mercy and mitigation be in your lordships' power, and no way cross your ends, why should I not hope of your favour and commiseration ? Your lordships will be pleased to behold your chief pattern, the King our sovereign, a king of incomparable clemency, and whose heart is inscrutable for wisdom and goodness; and your lordships will remember, there sale not these hundred years before a prince in your house, and never such a prince, whose presence deserveth to be made memorable by records and acts mixed of mercy and justice. Yourselves are either nobles (and compassion ever beateth in the veins of noble blood) or reverend prelates, who are the servants of him that would not break the bruised reed, nor quench the sinoking flax. You all sit upon a high stage, and therefore cannot but be sensible of the change of human conditions, and of the fall of any from high place.
Neither will your lordships forget that there are vitia temporis, as well as vitia hominis, and the beginning of reformation hath the contrary power to the pool of Bethesda; for that had strength to cure him only that was first cast in, and this hath strength to hurt him only that is first cast in; and for my part, I wish it may stay there, and go no further.
Lastly, I assure myself, your lordships have a noble feeling of me, as a member of your own body, and one that, in this very session, had some taste of your loving affections, which, I hope, was not a lightning before the death of them, but rather a spark of that grace, which now in the conclusion will more appear : and therefore my humble suit to your lordships is, that my penitent submission may be my sentence, the loss of the seal my punishment, and that your lordships would recommend me to his majesty's grace and pardon for all that is past." God's holy spirit be among you.
[From the Journals.] Die Jovis, videlicet, 30 die Maii, Domini tam spirituales quam temporales, quorum nomina subscribuntur, præsentes fuerunt :
p. Carolus Princeps Walliæ, etc. p. Archiepus. Cant.
p. Jac. Ley, Miles et Bar. Ds. P. Archiepus. Eborum.
Capit. Justic. Locum tenens. The gentleman usher and the serjeant at arms attending this house reported, that (according to the appointment of their lordships yesterday) they repaired last night unto the Lord Chancellor, whom they found sick in bed, and they signified unto him their lordships pleasure ; and said they were sent to summon him to appear here before their lordships this morning, by nine of the clock; who answered, that he is sick, and protested he feigned not this for an excuse; for, if he had been well, he would willingly have come.
The lords resolved to proceed notwithstanding against the Lord Chancellor ; and the King's Attorney having read the charge and confession, it was put to the question whether the Lord Chancellor be guilty of the matters wherewith he is charged or no; and it was agreed by all, nemine dissentiente, that he was thereof guilty
And, to the end the lords might the more freely dispute and resolve what sentence to pass upon the Lord Chancellor for his said offences, the court was adjourned ad libitum.
The house being resumed, and the Lord Chief Justice returned to his place, it was put to the question, whether the Lord Viscount St. Alban (Lord Chan. cellor) shall be suspended of all his titles of nobility during his life, or no; and it was agreed per plures, that he should not be suspended thereof.
The lords having agreed upon the sentence to be given against the Lord Chancellor, did send a message to the House of Commons, by Mr. Serjeant Crewe and Mr. Serjeant Hitcham, that the lords are ready to give judgment against the Lord Viscount St. Alban, Lord Chancellor, if they, with their Speaker, will come to demand it.
In the mean time the lords put on their robes ; and answer being returned of this message, and the Commons come, the Speaker came to the bar, and making three low obeisances, said, “ The knights, citizens, and burgesses of the Commons' house of parliament have made complaint unto your lordships of many exorbitant offences of bribery and corruption committed by the Lord Chancellor. We understand that your lordships are ready to give judgment upon him for the same. Wherefore I, their Speaker, in their name, do humbly demand and pray judgment against him the Lord Chancellor, as the nature of his offence and demerits do require.'
The Lord Chief Justice answered : “ Mr. Speaker, upon the complaint of the Commons, against the Lord Viscount St. Alban, Lord Chancellor, this high court hath thereby, and by his own confession, found him guilty of the crimes and corruptions complained of by the Commons, and of sundry other crimes and corruptions of like nature.
“ And therefore this high court, having first summoned him to attend, and having received his excuse of not attending, by reason of infirmity and sickness, which he protested was not feigned, or else he would most willingly have attended, doth nevertheless think fit to proceed to judgment; and therefore this high court doth adjudge :
“ 1. That the Lord Viscount St. Alban, Lord Chancellor of England, shall undergo fine and ransom of forty thousand pounds.
“2. That he shall be imprisoned in the Tower during the King's pleasure.
“ 3. That he shall for ever be incapable of any office, place, or employment in the state or commonwealth.
“ 4. That he shall never sit in parliament, nor come within the verge of the court.
“ This is the judgment and resolution of this high court.”
The Prince his highness was entreated by the house, that accompanied with divers of the lords of this house, he would be pleased to present this sentence given against the Lord Chancellor unto his majesty. His highness was pleased to yield unto this request.
INDEX RAISONNEE TO THE NOTES.
the sheet of
professorships in the universities....... 1
ford, and Francis for Middlesex....
the law, with analysis of Justitia
2 and 3
House of Commons as to Bacon's
surer and Lord Keeper touching his
Letter from Bacon to the Lord Keeper.
credulity respecting Salisbury
himself with the Queen
Book, as to Bacon's being admitted
law, &c. ....
&c. Different editions of his law
maxims and MSS.
lected with much labour, dedications,
quis Fiat .
Lady Hatton, and Essex's answer ...