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people in the points proposed, or any other of the like nature which might be thought of"-which was nothing less than the concession of everything which had been or might be demanded. If he followed Bacon's, he would endeavour to avoid all appearance not merely of misgiving as to the affection of the Commons, but of solicitude as to the event. He would let it be understood that he had the means of disembarrassing himself without their help, though it would take more time.
Once more: If he followed Neville's advice he would stake all on the issue, and if he lost would be left in a condition as bad or worse than the time before: for the parting could hardly be without another quarrel. If he followed Bacon's, he would treat the thing as an experiment, and be prepared to meet a disappointment without discomposure or shew of irritation. The growing dependence of the Crown upon the Commons was indeed a fact which it behoved the Crown to accept and understand and remember. The tendency in that direction was inevitable. It is probably no exaggeration to say that the Crown was already dependent upon the Commons; that is, they had it in their power to withhold from the King the means of carrying on the government, and thereby to bring him to their own terms: not indeed absolutely, or at once: but if they chose to persevere in refusing supplies until the conditions they demanded were complied with, to those conditions he must have come at last. But though this was the fact, it was a fact not yet declared; and most desirable it was that for the present it should be disguised from popular observation. It was fit therefore that the King should act as if that condition were not necessary to him which the Commons might constitutionally refuse. He must in fact be prepared to do without it, and let it be seen that he was so prepared. Bacon saw that to produce this impression was now the King's first object; a sine qua non that if he succeeded in that it would be enough, though he succeeded in nothing else; and therefore that his true policy was to carry matters so that the hope of contribution might not seem to be a principal motive for calling the Parliament, nor any disappointment in that respect a motive for proroguing it; but to treat it as a thing comparatively immaterial, which was not essential to his purposes and did not affect his proceedings: and left him free "to part with his Parliament with love and reverence"-for once: a thing inestimable to his safety and service."
Finally, if the King followed Neville's advice, he would trust absolutely and implicitly to the good faith and persuasive powers of the opposition leaders, who undertook that if he did what they bid him do, he should have what he wanted. If he followed Bacon's (who
had seen many more Parliaments than they), he would endeavour to prevent all canvassing to form a party for him in the House, as that which would be sure to "encrease animosities and oppositions;" but would at the same time neglect no fair means of conciliating the support or averting the hostility of the several parties of which the House was composed.
We shall see in the next volume what course was followed, and with what results. For the present, the question was again postponed. On the 4th of July Lord Northampton reported to Sir Thomas Lake (who was with the Court) that the Council were busy with the care of the King's estate: "only of the Parliament, or reasons either to move or remove the same, they had hitherto forborne to speak; because it was consequent to precedent questions or disputes which the Lords of the Commission had now in hammering.”1
About the time that these things were under discussion, a vacancy in the Bench gave Bacon a chance of promotion in the natural line of his progress. On the 7th of August 1613 Sir Thomas Fleming, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, died. It was a fair opportunity for removing Sir Henry Hobart from the place of Attorney, for which Bacon, as we have seen, thought him very ill suited; but who, having recovered from his illness, was likely to hold it until he could change it for a better. Bacon's first thought seems to have been to get him made Chief Justice in Fleming's place, upon which his own succession to the Attorneyship could hardly have failed to follow, his claim being so undeniable and his help so much wanted and as it is not to be supposed that he would lose any time in such a matter, we may safely conclude that the following letter to the King was written on or about the 7th of August 1613.
TO THE KING.2
It may please your most excellent Majesty,
Having understood of the death of the Lord Chief Justice, I do ground in all humbleness an assured hope, that your Majesty will not think of any other but your poor servants, your attorney and your solicitor, (one of them), for that place. Else we shall be like Noah's dove, not knowing where to rest our foot. For the places of rest after the extreme painful places
1 S. P. Dom. James I., vol. lxxiv. no. 23.
2 Gib. Pap., vol. viii. fo. 276. Fair copy, with corrections, all in Bacon's hand.
wherein we serve have used to be, either the Lord Chancellor's place, or the mastership of the Rolls, or the places of the two chief justices whereof, for the first, I would be almost loth to live to see this worthy counsellor fail. The mastership of the Rolls is blocked with a reversion. My lord Coke is like to outlive us both. So as if this turn fail, I for my part know not whither to look. I have served your Majesty above a prenticehood, full seven years and more, as your solicitor, which is, I think, one of the painfulest places in your kingdom, specially as my employments have been; and God hath brought mine own years to fifty-two, which I think is older than ever any solicitor continued unpreferred. My suit is principally that you would remove Mr. Attorney to the place; if he refuse, then I hope your Majesty will seek no furder than myself, that I may at last, out of your Majesty's grace and favour, step forwards to a place either of more comfort or more ease. Besides how necessary it is for your Majesty to strengthen your service amongst the Judges by a Chief Justice which is sure to your prerogative, your Majesty knoweth. Therefore I cease furder to trouble your Majesty, humbly craving pardon, and relying wholly upon your goodness and remembrance, and resting in all true humbleness, Your Majesty's most devoted
and faithful subject and servant,
Upon further reflexion it occurred to him that still better use might be made of the occasion. The Chief Justice of the King's Bench, though not the best paid among the Judges, was the highest in dignity; and as the causes with which that Court had to deal consisted of offences against the Crown, I suppose it supplied fewer occasions for enquiring into the limits of the Prerogative than the Court of Common Pleas, which (dealing with civil suits) was continually called upon to adjudicate in disputes between the subject and the King. To a man of Coke's temper, the position of champion and captain of the Common Law in its battles with Prerogative was a tempting one. His behaviour as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, though accompanied with no alteration in himself, had entirely altered his character in the estimation of the people; transforming him from the most offensive of Attorney Generals into the most admired and venerated of Judges, and investing him with a popularity which has been transmitted without diminution to our own times,
and is not likely to be questioned. For posterity, having inherited the fruits of his life and being well satisfied with what it has got, will not trouble itself to examine the bill, which was paid and settled long ago. To us, looking back when all is over, the cost is nothing. To the contemporary statesmen, however, who were then looking forth into the dark future and wondering what the shock of the contending forces was to end in, his triumphs were of more doubtful value. To some of them, even if they could have foreseen exactly what was going to happen, the prospect would not have been inviting. A civil war, a public execution of a King by his subjects for treason against himself, a usurpation, a restoration, and a counter-revolution,-all within one generation,-would have seemed to one looking forward very ugly items in the successful solution of a national difficulty; and those who saw in Coke's judicial victories the beginning of such an end might be pardoned if they desired to find some less dangerous employment for his virtues. Now if he could be raised from the Common Pleas (the ordinary duties of which could be well enough discharged by Sir Henry Hobart) to the King's Bench, he would meet with fewer opportunities of collision with the Crown, and a quieter time might be hoped for. And Bacon who, whether he saw to the end or not, was obliged by his professional duty to see enough of the other side of all these disputed questions to satisfy him that Coke's activity was not all for good, recommended this arrangement to the King. Such at least is the motive for it which seems to me most probable. I know it has been commonly assumed that Bacon's reason for recommending, as well as Coke's for deprecating, the change was merely or chiefly that it would cause a loss of income. But if a reduction of income had been the only difference, I doubt whether Bacon would have thought it a politic move. wealthy a man as Coke the difference of income could have made no difference in reputation; while the rise in dignity would make him a greater man than he was before. And though to Coke himself, as a man who took pleasure in growing rich, the change might be on that account unwelcome, both the reluctance with which he consented to his elevation and the emotion with which he underwent it seem (if they have not been very much exaggerated in the description) to have been stronger and deeper than so trivial a cause would naturally explain. That he was not so well qualified for a Judge in criminal as in civil causes, would have been a worthier ground of objection, if one could suppose that he was aware of the fact. But for an ambitious man with a firm belief in himself and his own virtue to leave a post in which he acted as a counterpoise to the monarchy, and was continually brought into personal collision with the King
himself, on terms of advantage and in the interest of what he believed to be the constitution-this might well be a matter of deep and serious regret. While on the other hand, to a man who thought, as Bacon did, that he was upsetting the constitution on the other side, his removal from such a post would naturally seem to be a piece of good service to the country as well as to the King; nor was there any objection to his being made greater, if at the same time he were made more harmless.
The ostensible grounds for the arrangement which he thought fit to present to the King are set forth in the following paper.
Reasons why it should be exceeding much for his Majesty's service to remove the Lord Coke from the place he now holdeth to be Chief Justice of England, and the Attorney to succeed him, and the Solicitor the Attorney.1
First, it will strengthen the King's causes greatly amongst the judges. For both my Lord Coke will think himself near a privy counsellor's place, and thereupon turn obsequious, and the attorney general, a new man and a grave person in a judge's place, will come in well to the other and hold him hard to it, not without emulation between them who shall please the King best.
Secondly, the attorney sorteth not so well with his present place, being a man timid and scrupulous both in parliament and in other business, and one that in a word was made fit for the late Lord Treasurer's bent, which was to do little with much formality and protestation, whereas the now solicitor going more roundly to work, and being of a quicker and more earnest temper, and more effectual in that he dealeth in, is like to recover that strength to the King's prerogative which it hath had in times past, and which is due unto it. And for that purpose there must be brought in to be solicitor some man of courage and speech and a grounded lawyer; which done, his Majesty will speedily find a marvellous change in his business, for it is not to purpose for the judges to stand well disposed, except the King's counsel, which is the active and moving part, put the
1 Gib. Pap., vol. viii. fo. 257. Draft in Bacon's hand. Docketed "Reas. for ye remoove of Co." No date.