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For Mr. St. John, your majesty knoweth, the day draweth on; and my lord Chancellor's recovery, the season, and his age, promising not to be too hasty. I spake with him on Sunday, at what time I found him in bed, but his spirits strong, and not spent or wearied, and spake wholly of your business, leading me from one matter to another; and wished and seemed to hope that he might attend the day for 0. S. and it were, as he said, to be his last work to conclude his services, and express his affection towards your majesty. I presumed to say to him, that I knew your majesty would be exceeding desirous of his being present that day, so as that it might be without prejudice to his continuance; but that otherwise your majesty esteemed a servant more than a service, especially such a servant. Surely, in mine opinion, your majesty were better put off the day than want his presence, considering the cause of the putting off is so notorious; and then the capital and the criminal may come together the next term.
I have not been unprofitable in helping to discover and examine, within these few days, a late patent, by surreption obtained from your majesty, of the greatest forest in England, worth 30,0001. under colour of a defective title, for à matter of 4001. The person must be named, because the patent must be questioned. It is a great person, my lord of Shrewsbury; or rather, as I think, a greater than he, which is my lady of Shrewsbury. But I humbly pray your majesty to know this first from my lord treasurer, who methinks groweth studious in your business. God preserve your majesty. Your Majesty's most humble and devoted subject and servant,
FR. BACON. Jan. 31, 1614. The rather, in regard to Mr. Murray's absence, I humbly pray your majesty to have a little regard to this letter.
A Letter to the King, touching Peacham's Cause, January 27, 1614. It may please your excellent Majesty—This day in the afternoon was read your majesty's letters of direction touching Peacham, which, because it concerneth properly the duty of my place, I thought it fit for me to give your majesty both a speedy and private account thereof; that your majesty knowing things clearly how they pass, may have the true fruit of your own wisdom and clear seeing judgment in governing the business. First, for the regularity which your majesty (as a master in business of estate) doth prudently prescribe in examining, and taking examinations, I subscribe to it; only I will say for myself, that I was not at this time the principal examiner. For the course your majesty directeth and commandeth, for the feeling of the judges of the King's Bench their several opinions, by distributing ourselves and enjoining secresy; we did first find an encounter in the opinion of my lord Cooke, who seemed to affirm, that such particular, and, as he called it, auricular taking of opinions, was not according to the custom of this realm, and seemed to divine that his brethren would never do it. But when I replied, that it was our duty to pursue your majesty's directions ; and it were not amiss for his lordship to leave his brethren to their own answers, it was so concluded ; and his lordship did desire that I might confer with himself, and Mr. Serjeant Montague was named to speak with Justice Crooke, Mr. Serjeant Crew with Justice Houghton, and Mr. Solicitor with Justice Dodderidge. This done, I took my fellows aside, and advised that they should presently speak with the three judges, before I could speak with my lord Cooke, for doubt of infusion; and that they should not in any case make any doubt to the judges, as if they mistrusted they would not deliver any opinion apart, but speak resolutely to them, and only make their coming to be, to know what time they would appoint to be attended with the papers. This sorted not amiss; for Mr. Solicitor came to me this evening and related to me, that he had found Judge Dodderidge very ready to give opinion in secret, and fell upon the same reason, which upon your majesty's first letter I had used to my lord Cooke at the council table, which was, that every judge was bound expressly by his oath to give your majesty counsel when he was called, and whether he should do it jointly or severally, that rested in your majesty's good pleasure, as you would require it. And though the ordinary course was to assemble them, yet there might intervene cases wherein the other course was more convenient. The like answer made Justice Crook; Justice Houghton, who is a soft man, seemed desirous first to confer; alleging that the other three judges had all served the crown before they were judges, but that he had not been much acquainted with business of this nature. We purpose therefore, forthwith, they shall be made acquainted with the papers; and if that could be done as suddenly as this was, I should make small doubt of their opinions; and howsoever, I hope, force of law and precedent will bind them to the truth : neither am I wholly out of hope, that my lord Cooke himself, when I have in some dark manner put him in doubt that he shall be left alone, will not continue singular.
For Owen, I know not the reason why there should have been no mention made thereof in the last advertisement; for I must say for myself, that I have lost no moment of time in it, as my lord of Canterbury can bear me witness. For having received from my lord an additional of great importance, which was, that Owen of his own accord, after examination, should compare the case of your majesty (if you were excommunicate) to the case of a prisoner condemned at the bar, which additional was subscribed by one witness, but yet I perceived it was spoken aloud, and in the hearing of others; I presently sent down a copy thereof, which is now come up, attested with the hands of three more, lest there should have been any scruple of singularis testis ; so as for this case, I may say, omnia parata ; and we expect but a direction from your majesty for the acquainting the judges severally, or the four judges of the King's Bench, as your majesty shall think good.
I forget not, nor forslow not your majesty's commandment touching recusants, of which, when it is ripe, I will give your majesty a true account, and what is possible to be done, and where the impediment is, Mr. Secretary bringeth bonum voluntatem, but he is not versed much in these things, and sometimes urgeth the conclusion without the premises, and by haste hindereth. It is my lord treasurer and the Exchequer must help it, if it be holpen. I have heard more ways than one, of an offer of 20,0001. per annum for farming the penalties of recusants, not including any offence, capital or of premunire; wherein I will presume to say that my poor endeavours, since I was by your great and sole grace your attorney, have been no small spurs to make them feel your laws, and seek this redemption, wherein I must also say, my lord Cooke hath done his part; and I do assure your majesty I know, somewhat inwardly and groundedly, that by the courses we have taken, they conform daily and in great numbers; and I would to God, it were as well a conversion as a conformity; but if it should die by dispensation or dissimulation, then I fear that whereas your majesty hath now so many ill subjects, poor and detected, you shall then have them rich and dissembled. And therefore I hold this offer very considerable, of so great an increase of revenue, if it can pass the fiery trial of religion and honour, which I wish all projects may pass.
Thus, inasmuch as I have made to your majesty somewhat a naked and particular account of business, I hope your majesty will use it accordingly. God preserve your majesty.
Your Majesty's most humble and devoted subject and servant.
To the King, concerning Owen's cause, &c. It may please your excellent Majesty,-Myself, with the rest of your counsel learned, conferred with my lord Coke, and the rest of the judges of the King's Bench only, being met at my lord's chamber, concerning the business of Owen. For although it be true, that your majesty in your letter did mention that the same course might be held in the taking of opinions apart in this, which was prescribed and used in Peacham's cause; yet both my lords of the council, and we amongst ourselves, holding it, in a case so clear, not needful; but rather that it would import a diffidence in us, and deprive us of the means to debate
with the judges, if cause were, more strongly, which is somewhat, we thought best rather to use this form. The judges desired us to leave the examinations
and papers with them for some little time, to consider, which is a thing they use, but I conceive, there will be no manner of question made of it. My Lord Chief Justice, to shew forwardness, as I interpret it, shewed us passages of Suarez and others, thereby to prove that though your majesty stood not excommunicate by particular sentence, yet by the general bulls of Cæna Domini, and others, you were upon the matter excommunicate ; and therefore that the treason was as de præsenti. But I (that foresee that if that course should be held, when it cometh to a public day, to disseminate to the vulgar an opinion, that your majesty's case is all one, as if you were de facto particularly and expressly excommunicate; it would but increase the danger of your person with those that are desperate papists; and that it is needless) commended my lord's diligence, but withal put it by, and fell upon the other course, which is the true way; that is, that whosoever shall affirm, in diem, or sub conditione, that your majesty may be destroyed, is a traitor de presenti; for that he maketh you but tenant for life, at the will of another. And I put the Duke of Buckingham's case, who said that if the king caused him to be arrested of treason, he would stab him ; and the case of the impostress Elizabeth Barton, that said, that if king Henry the Eighth took not his wife again, Catherine dowager, he should be no longer king, and the like.
It may be these particulars are not worth the relating ; but because I find nothing in the world so important to your service, as to have you throughly informed, the ability of your direction considered, it maketh me thus to do ; most humbly praying your majesty to admonish me if I be over troublesome.
For Peacham, the rest of my fellows are ready to make their report to your majesty, at such time and in such manner as your majesty shall require it. Myself yesterday took my lord Coke aside, after the rest were gone, and told him all the rest were ready, and I was now to require his lordship’s opinion, according to my commission. He said I should have it; and repeated that twice or thrice, as thinking he had gone too far in that kind of negative to deliver any opinion apart before ; and said, he would tell it me within a very short time, though he were not that instant ready. I have tossed this business in omnes partes, whereof I will give your majesty knowledge when time serveth. God preserve your majesty.
Your Majesty's most humble and devoted subject and servant, Feb. 11, 1614.
Fr. Bacon. Foster, on High Treason, when speaking of Peacham's case, says, “ This case weigheth very little, and no great regard hath been paid to it ever since. And perhaps still less regard will be paid to it if it be considered that the king, who appeareth to have had the success of the prosecution much at heart, and took a part in it unbecoming the majesty of the crown, condescended to instruct his attorney general with regard to the proper measures to be taken in the examination of the defendant; that the attorney, at his majesty's command, submitted to the drudgery of sounding the opinions of the judges upon the point of law before it was thought advisable to risk it at an open trial; that the judges were to be sifted separately, and soon, before they could have an opportunity of conferring together; and that for this purpose four gentlemen in the profession in the service of the crown were immediately dispatched, one to each of the judges; Mr. Attorney himself undertaking to practice upon the chief justice, of whom some doubt was then entertained. Is it possible that a gentleman of Bacon's great talents could submit to a service so much below his rank and character! But he did submit to it, and acquitted himself notably in it.
“ Others of his letters shew that the same kind of intercourse was kept up between the king and his attorney general with regard to many cases then depending in judgment, in which the king was pleased to take a part, or thought his prerogative concerned, particularly in the case of one Owen, executed for treasonable words; in that of Mr. Oliver St. John, touching the benevolence in the dispute between the courts of King's Bench and Chancery in the case of præmunire, and in the proceedings against the Earl and Countess of Somerset.”
“Of the fact of these applications having been made, no doubt can be entertained. The inserences to be deduced from the fact alone vary.
It was the custom of the times, is one and a legitimate inference.
Judge Foster, applying the sentiments of his own more intelligent times to this conduct, says, " Every reader will make his own reflections upon it. I have but one to make in this place. This method of forestalling the judgment of a court in a case of blood then depending, at a time too when the judges were removeable at the pleasure of the crown, doth no honour to the memory of the persons concerned in a transaction so insidious and unconstitutional, and at the same time weakeneth the authority of the judgment.”
And speaking of Bacon, he says, • Avarice, I think, was not his ruling passion ; but whenever a false ambition, ever restless and craving, overheated in the pursuit of the honours which the crown alone can confer, happeneth to stimulate an heart otherwise formed for great and noble pursuits, it hath frequently betrayed it into measures full as mean as avarice itself could have suggested to the wretched animals who live and die under its dominion. For these passions, however they may seem to be at variance, have ordinarily produced the same effects. Both degrade the man; both contract his views into the little point of self interest, and equally steel the heart against the rebukes of conscience, or the sense of true honour. Bacon having undertaken the service, informeth his majesty, in a letter addressed to him, that with regard to three of the judges, whom he nameth, he bad small doubt of their concurrence. Neither,' saith he,' am I wholly out of hope that my lord Coke himself, when I have, in some dark manner, put him in doubt that he shall be left alone, will not continue singular.' These are plain naked facts ; they need no comment.
When Bacon was Chancellor. It will be remembered that Sir Francis was appointed Lord Keeper on the 3rd of March, and that he did not take his seat the court until the 7th of May, but he had scarcely been entrusted with the seals when an application was made to him out of court by Buckingham on behalf of a suitor, in a letter which explains in a postscript that similar applications had been made to Sir Francis's predecessor; and similar applications were, as a matter of course, made during the whole time he was entrusted with the great seal. This will appear from the following letters :
To the Lord Keeper. (a) My honourable Lord,—Whereas the late Lord Chancellor thought it fit to dismiss out of the Chancery a cause touching Henry Skipwith to the common law, where he desireth it should be decided ; these are to entreat your lordship in the gentleman's favour, that if the adverse party shall attempt to bring it now back again into your lordship’s court, you would not retain it there, but let it rest in the place where now it is, that without more vexation unto him in posting him from one to another, he may have a final hearing and determination thereof.
And so I rest your Lordship's ever at command, G. BUCKINGHAM. My Lord, This is a business wherein I spake to my Lord Chancellor, whereupon he dismissed the suit.-Lincoln, the 4th of April, 1617.
(a) This is the first of many letters, which the Marquis of Buckingham wrote to Lord Bacon, in favour of persons who had causes depending in, or likely to come into the court of Chancery; and it is not improbable that such recommendations were considered in that age as less extraordinary and irregular than they would appear now. The marquis made the same kind of applications to Lord Bacon's successor, the Lord Keeper Williams, in whose life, by Bishop Hacket, part i. p. 107, we are informed, that "there was not a cause of moment, but, as soon as it came to publication, one of the parties brought letters from this mighty peer, and the lord keeper's patron." Birch.
To the Lord Keeper. My honourable Lord,-His majesty hath spent some time with Sir Lionel Cranfield about his own business, wherewith he acquainted his majesty. He hath had some conference with your lordship, upon whose report to his majesty of your real and care of his service, which his majesty accepteth very well at your hands, he hath commanded Sir L. Cranfield to attend your lordship, to signify his farther pleasure for the furtherance of his service; unto whose relation I refer you. His majesty's farther pleasure is, you acquaint no creature living with it, he having resolved to rely upon your care and trust only. Thus, wishing you all happiness, I rest your Lordship’s faithful friend and servant, October 26, 1617.
G. BUCKINGHAM. To the Lord Keeper. My honourable Lord,- I have thought good to renew my motion to your lordship, in the behalf of my Lord of Huntingdon, my Lord Stanhope, and Sir Thomas Gerard; for that I am more particularly acquainted with their desires ; they only seeking the true advancement of the charitable uses, unto which the land, given by their grandfather, was intended ; which, as I am informed, was meant by way of a corporation, and by this means, that it might be settled upon the schoolmaster, usher, and poor, and the coheirs to be visitors. The tenants might be conscionably dealt withal; and so it will be out of the power of any feoffees to abuse the trust; which, it hath been lately proved, have been hitherto the hindrance of this good work. These coheirs desire only the honour of their ancestor's gift, and wish the money, misemployed and ordered to be paid into court by Sir John Harper, may rather be bestowed by your lordship's discretion for the augmentation of the foundation of their ancestors, than by the censure of any other. And so I rest your Lordship servant, G. BUCKINGHAM. Theobalds, Nov. 12.-Indorsed, 1617.
To the Lord Keeper. My honourable Lord,—Though I had resolved to give your lordship no more trouble in matters of controversy depending before you, with what importance soever my letters had been, yet the respect I bear unto this gentleman hath so far forced my resolution, as to recommend unto your lordship the suit, which, I am informed by him, is to receive a hearing before you on Monday next, between Barnaby Leigh and Sir Edward Dyer, plaintiffs, and Sir Thomas Thynne, defendant; wherein I desire your lordship's favour on the plaintiff's so far only as the justice of their cause shall require. And so I rest your Lordship’s faithful servant,
G. BUCKINGHAM. Newmarket, Nov. 15.-Indorsed, 1617.
To the Lord Keeper. My honourable Lord,—The certificate being returned upon the commission touching Sir Richard Haughton's alum-mines, I have thought fit to desire your lordship's furtherance in the business, which his majesty, as your lordship will see by this letter, much affecteth as a bargain for his advantage, and for the present relief of Sir Richard Haughton. What favour your lordship shall do him therein, I will not fail to acknowledge, and will ever rest your Lordship’s faithful servant,
G. BUCKINGHAM. Indorsed, Received Nov. 16, 1617.
To the Lord Keeper. My honourable Lord, — Understanding that Thomas Hukeley, a merchant of London, of whom I have heard a good report, intendeth to bring before your lordship in Chancery a cause depending between him, in the right of his wife, daughter of William Austen, and one John Horsmend who married another daughter of the said Austen ; I have thought fit to desire your lordship to give the said Thomas Hukeley a favourable hearing when his cause shall come before