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cellor, who was at that time indisposed, transmitted through the Duke of Buckingham a letter, requesting their Lordships, 1. To maintain him in their good opinion, till his cause was heard; 2. To give him a convenient time, as well in regard of his state of illhealth, as of the importance of the charge, to make his defence; 3. To allow him to except against the credit of the witnesses, to cross-examine them, and to produce evidence in his own favour; and, 4. If there came any more petitions of the like nature, not to take prejudice at their number, considering that
received the hardly-raised sum of 100l., though he afterward made a very prejudicial and murthering order' against that suitor; and that in Egerton's case likewise, upon which he took 400%., a suit was depending in the Court of Star-Chamber. Lord Bacon having told Sir George Hastings, one of the evidences against him, that he meant to deny the charge upon his honour,' Mr. Nevil one of the members of the Lower House said; "I would not have that serve his turn, for he himself hath made the nobility swear in Chancery: therefore I would have their Lordships informed, what privileges they have lost. Next, I would have them note the luxuriant authority of that Court, and how it is an inextricable labyrinth, wherein resideth such a Minotaur as gormandiseth the liberty of all subjects whatsoever." A more striking case subsequently transpired, of the Lady Wharton. She carried to the Chancellor at York House 100l. in a purse of her own making;' upon which he said, "What Lord could refuse a purse of so fair a lady's working?" After this, he made a decree for her; but it was not perfected, till after a second donation of 2001. This not being immediately in her power, one Shute dealt with her to pass over the land to my Lord Chancellor and his heirs, reserving an estate for life to herself; with power of revocation (as, upon her demurring, it was suggested) upon payment of 2007. in a reasonable time.' Other cases, also, were rapidly brought forward, (on the authorities of Keeling and Churchill) of Hull and Holman, Wroth and Mannering, Hoddy, Peacock, and Reynell, Barker and Bill, Smithwick and Walsh, &c.
they were against a Judge, who made two thousand orders and decrees in a year. To this application the House returned a respectful answer; but, within a few days, their committee adduced above twenty additional instances, in which he had received bribes to the amount of several thousand pounds.* Of all this the proofs were so clear, that the illustrious culprit (with his accustomed eloquence, however) threw himself upon their mercy, entreating at the same time, that his sentence might not be extended beyond his dismission from the public office which he had disgraced:' but, as this did not appear to their Lordships sufficiently explicit, in a second full and particular confession† he acknowledged, under cer
• How then can Mr. Chalmers discountenance the complaint, or justify the treatment of Mr. Wraynham, alluded to p. 461, Note*.
+ This confession he is said to have made, trusting to some royal promises, at the instigation of the ministry, who wished to protect the Duke of Buckingham from parliamentary vengeance; and a story, told by his Lordship's servant Bushel, of James' engaging to screen or to reward him, is quoted as authority for the report. But Bushel, in a speech of his master's (published by him in the Fleet Prison, and allowed to be in a great measure fictitious) relates so many improbable stories, that his evidence requires the support of additional testimony; and, in this instance, his account is invalidated by his Majesty's general instructions to parliament to pursue their inquiry without restraint, coupled with his temporary prorogation of that assembly, "to try if time could mitigate the displeasure, which in both houses was strong against the Lord Chancellor :" with which may be combined the admission of Bacon himself, who on surrendering the Great Seal voluntarily acknowledged, that what the King had given, his own misconduct had taken away: Rex dedit, culpa abstulit.'
It would not be difficult, from many considerations, to convict this confession (which, however, some have professed to admire ás magnanimous) of gross disingenuousness and indecency.
tain extenuations, most of the instances of corruption laid to his charge. As it is a striking document, it is here inserted.
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 inHis sole object in making it was to operate upon their Lordships' passions, and to interest their sensibility in his behalf, while he was insulting and endeavouring to impose upon their understandings: and as to the crimes laid to his charge, he had the audacity, by observing that bribery was vitium temporis,' to attempt to justify his malversations on the plea of fashion! There is indeed but too much reason to believe that, in lamenting the ambition and false glory, which had diverted him from his litcrary and philosophical pursuits, he was influenced less by the conviction of his judgement than by the weight of his mortifications. He had even consulted Selden, it appears, as to the legality of the judgement pronounced against him by the House of Peers, for want of the form of a Session of that Parliament in which it was passed and given. This, at least, seems probable from a letter of that profound lawyer, dated February 14, 1621, in reply; in which he observes, that "admitting it were no Session, but only a Convention' (as the proclamation calls it) yet the judgements given in the Upper House, if no other reason be against them, are good-as given by virtue of that ordinary authority, which they have as the Supreme Court of Judicature, which is easily to be conceived without any relation to the matter of session; that consisting only in the passing of acts with the Royal Assent, or not passing them, &c." This distinction between their Lordships' legislative and judicial capacity appears to have satisfied the noble delinquent, as we hear of no subsequent attempt to reverse the judgement in question. Are we from this to infer, that the Speaker of that illustrious House was really so little versed in the original and extent of it's jurisdiction; or ought we not rather to suppose, that he was inclined to ridicule and expose the simplicity of his brother-peers?
terpretation 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 fly 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 splendor. 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 bosom." 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 una? 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 farther extent of arbitrary power than other courts; and if you be not tied by ordinary course of courts, or precedents, in