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THE "Matter of Prohibitions," that is, the dispute as to jurisdiction between the Courts at Westminster and the Provincial Councils of Wales and the North,-was evidently much upon Bacon's mind in July, 1608. "To be prepared in the matter of Prohibitions" (p. 43)—" To write some treatise of advice touching Prohibitions and Jurisdictions of Courts" (p. 54)—“To advise some course for the Council of the Marches and the North . . . qu. of limitation by Parliament" (p. 55)-" Md the point of the 4 shires, and to think to settle a course in it" (p. 59)-these are all memoranda set down at different times on the same day. The fact is that the attempt which had been made twelve months before to settle the dispute as far as it concerned the Marches of Wales, where it first arose, had not proved effectual. It had been hoped that under the reformed instructions with which the new President was sent out in the summer of 1607, the controversy would have been allowed to sleep ;--the rather because the Judges had had time to reconsider the question, and to understand the inconvenience of the course to which they had (somewhat inadvertently, as it was thought,) committed themselves. But it did not turn out so. Prohibitions were still applied for, which the Judges still thought it their duty to grant; till at length on the 6th of November, 1608, in order to bring the matter to a direct issue, a Council was held in the King's presence, at which the question "whether the article of the Instructions to the President touching the hearing of causes within the 4 shires under 107. were agreeable to the law," was distinctly raised. And when Coke, now Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, begged to be excused from giving an answer in that presence and on the sudden, it was agreed that the case should be regularly argued by Counsel before the Judges; and that they, having first heard what the Counsel for the Crown and for the President had to say in de
fence of the article, and then "what any could say against the same," should "return their report, what they had heard on both sides, and so leave the judgment to the King."
As Solicitor-General, Bacon was one of the counsel employed to maintain the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court over the 4 shires, and he thought well enough of his work to include a report of his speech and reply among his "arguments of law in great and difficult cases." They were delivered apparently in Hilary Term, 1608-9, and (being strictly professional both in character and occasion) will be found among the Professional Works, Vol. VII. p. 567. But as compositions to which he himself attached a more than fugitive value, and as marking an important stage in a constitutional controversy of which we have already heard a good deal and shall yet hear more, (for they do not seem to have converted the Judges,) this notice of them in this place will not be found superfluous.
The rest of the year 1609 appears to have been a very quiet one for Bacon; and the records which remain of his occupations are comparatively few and meagre. The letters, however, which follow will give some light as to what they were, and serve to remind us that those portions of his life which make least show in this collection were not therefore the least active or the least fruitful.
"For equalling laws" [that is, for reducing the laws of England. and Scotland into a consistent code by way of preparation for a perfect union of the nations] "to proceed with my method, and to show the King the title of Prerogative, as it is done :"-this was one of the memoranda set down on the 6th of August, 1608. And it was probably in pursuance of this object that on the 27th of February, 1608-9, he addressed the following letter, the original of which is preserved in the library of the Inner Temple, to Mr. Bowyer: whom I suppose to be Robert Bowyer, clerk and keeper of the Rolls of Chancery and all other Rolls and Records in the Tower.
I remember I borrowed once of Mr. Heneage a collection of his (a large one) made of certain records, specially such as concerned the King's prerogative and grants and ordinances, and other matters of that nature. Of this I doubt not but you
1 Lansd. MSS. 160, p. 410.
2 Inner Temple Library, 9 (5 and 6) 538, No. 17, fo. 279, orig. own hand.
have copies; and therefore my request is that you will lend me one of them, for some time, and it shall be safely restored to you; and if it have been since enriched by new additions of your own, I shall be the more beholding to you. So I remain, Your loving friend,
This 27th of Feb. 1608.
It is possible that the manuscript in the British Museum (Harl. MSS. 7017, 43) mentioned in Mr. Heath's general preface to the Professional Works,-being a collection of the common law relating to the Prerogative,-was drawn up with reference to this business. And there are one or two other fragments of "preparation for the union of laws," which will be found towards the end of the volume. But as the project of a legislative union did not prosper and had soon after to be abandoned as intractable, these beginnings of the work would naturally be laid aside along with it, to wait for a more favourable season; which did not come.
Two or three letters to Salisbury, confined, as usual, to matters of ordinary official routine, are chiefly valuable as confirming our previous impression of the relation between the men, and showing that it continued unchanged. And a very singular fact it is that (the desire on Bacon's part to be on more intimate terms with his cousin being so strong as by the evidence of the Commentarius we know it to have been) the only communications between them of which chance has preserved any record should be of this remarkably colourless character.
Concerning the matters of which they treat I have not been able to discover any particulars, more than may be gathered from the letters themselves.
TO THE EARL OF SALISBURY,1
It may please your Lordship,
The assurance which by your Lordship's direction was to be passed to his Majesty by Richard Forebench, one of the yeomen of the Guard, of Potter's Park, within the parish of Chertsey, in the county of Surrey, is thoroughly perfected; so as if your
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. xlvii. No. 12. Orig.
Lordship so please, he may receive the money your Lordship
Though Mr. Chancellor and we rested upon the old Proclamation which Mr. Attorney brought forth, for matter of transportation of gold and silver, yet because I could not tell whether it were that your Lordship looked for from us, and because if you should be of other opinion things mought be in readiness, I send your Lordship a draught of a new Proclamation, wherein I have likewise touched the point of change in that manner as was most agreeable to that I conceived of your intent.
The Frenchman, after I had given him a day, which was the morrow after your Lordship's departure, never attended nor called upon the matter since. Sir He. Nevell hath sent up a solicitor of the cause, to whom I perceive by Mr. Calvert your Lordship is pleased a copy of his answer when it shall be taken may be delivered. So praying for your good health and happiness I humbly take my leave. From Gray's Inn this 10th of August 1609.
Your L. most humble and bounden,
TO THE SAME.2
It may please your Lordship,
According to your Lordship's letter I send an abstract of the bonds and conditions touching the depopulations, whereby it will appear unto your Lordship that all the articles and branches of the condition consist only of matter of reformation in the country, and not of any benefit to the King, otherwise than that the forfeiture in point of law belongeth to his Majesty;
1 S. P. Dom. James I. vol. xlvii.
No. 74. Orig. own hand.
No. 37. Orig. own hand. Docketed 14th
but then the reformation is at large. So I very humbly take my leave.
Your Lordship's most humble and bounden,
Gray's Inn the xiiith of Sept. 1609.
There is likewise a letter to Sir Michael Hickes, relating to some commission concerning the King's service in which Bacon was engaged about this time: but I have not succeeded in discovering what the business was. So many names however being mentioned in connexion with it, we may conclude that if it had been a thing of importance traces would have remained by which it might have been identified and so the failure of the search may be taken as a kind of evidence that the thing would not be worth finding.
TO SIR MICHAEL HICKES.1
There is a commission touching the King's service to be executed at your house on Tuesday next; The Commissioners are Mr. Recorder of London, Sir John Bennett, Sir Thomas Bodley, and myself. There are blanks left for other names such as you in your wisdom shall think fit to fill. Mr. Horden is wished, for the better countenance of the service, and Sir Thomas Lowe is spoken of, but these and others are wholly left unto you. It will take up a whole afternoon, and therefore no remedy but we must dine with you; but for that you are not so little in grace with Mr. Chancellor but you may have allowance, the Exchequer being first full; hereof I thought most necessary to give you notice. So I remain
This Sunday at afternoon.
Your assured guest and friend,
[August 6. 16092].
But if the records of Bacon's official work are unusually scanty this year, we have, on the other hand, more news than usual of a work which is as much more interesting to us now, as it was to himself then. Owing to the banishment of his friend Toby Matthew, by 'Lansd. MSS. xci. fo. 93. Original; own hand; all but the date. 2 The words within brackets are in another hand.