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that the signing of your name is nothing, unless it be to some good patent or charter, whereby your country may be endowed with good and benefit. Which I speak, both to move you to preserve your person for further merit and service of her Majesty and your country; and likewise to refer this action to the same end. And so, in most true and fervent prayers, I commend your Lordship and your work in hand to the preservation and conduct of the Divine Majesty ; so much the more watchful, as these actions do more manifestly in show, though alike in truth, depend upon His divine providence.
If Bacon's success with the young widow had depended upon the strength of Essex's recommendation, he would not have been disappointed. A good opinion more confident, an interest more earnest and unmistakably sincere, could not be conveyed in English. Of the further proceeding we know nothing; not even whether the proposal was ever made. All we know is that in 1597 rumour assigned Lady Hatton to Mr. Greville, without any allusion to Bacon, and that on the 7th of November, 1598, she became the wife neither of Greville nor of Bacon, but of Coke. In after-years we shall meet her again; but at present I have no information to give about the wooing either of the successful suitor or the unsuccessful.
The fortune in genere economico having thus shared the same fate with the fortune in genere politico, Bacon had to consider whether for relief of his immediate necessities anything could be made of his reversion of the Clerkship of the Star Chamber. It was a saleable office; and the present possessor was in some danger of being deprived of it, upon a charge of exacting unlawful fees. For some years the administration of this office had given rise to complaints. In the last Parliament a bill had been brought in, as we bave seen, for the reformation of it; but by a little management on the part of the Speaker had been thrown out on the second reading. Upon this I suppose the complainants addressed themselves to the Queen. For it appears that the matter was under inquiry in 1595, when Puckering was Lord Keeper ;4 and it is certain that at a later period some of the fees claimed by the Clerk of the Council were by authority of the Lord Keeper Egerton restrained.5
1 The letters are printed in Birch's 'Memoirs,' ii. p. 347.
4 See Vol. I. p. 363. 5 See a paper headed “The humble petition .... of the Clerk of the Council
It was while Egerton was engaged in this investigation that the following paper was laid before him.
The humble motion and allegations of Fr. Bacon concerning
certain fees restrained by the Right Honourable the Lord Keeper, of which fees Mr. Mylle, Clerk of the Council, hath been vested and possessed as in right of his office, whereof the said Fr. Bacon by her Majesty's royal grant is in re
version. First, I humbly pray your Lordship to conceive that I hold it no augmentation nor raising to the office, but a pulling down and canker to it, if any unjust fees should cleave to the same; and as I know mine own mind in this, so I have that good estimation of Mr. Mill, as I suppose he beareth the same mind.
Next, I do in heart. so fully consent and gratulate to her Majesty's sovereign intention for the reformation of abuses in justice, and to your Lordship’s reverent severity in the same, as I shall be glad of it though I be a leeser in particular, yea though it should be never executed nor put in ure but only in this office of ours (if cause were), and all other went scott-free.
My humble petition is that as your Lordship shall receive from Mr. Mill answer articulatim to the several points out of his skill and experience, so your Lordship may be pleased withal to give some attention to these allegations touching the mere right of the fees, which upon perusal of his answers and conference with him I have to mine own sense collected, and am to open and submit to your grave and honourable consideration.
Your Lordship’s course, as I do apprehend it, is to restrain such fees as are not ancient fees. But then the question is what is to be understood for an ancient fee; which ministereth these doubts following
First, if a fee have been always taken, but sometimes more and less, if the officer shall draw it to a fee certain, and tax it at the lowest rate of that which hath been used to be paid, whether this may not be accounted ancient fee.
concerning his fees restrained by the Rt. Hon. The Lord Keeper;" docketed 3 July, 1597, and described as a petition “ against the directions upon the late orders in Štar Chamber.”—MSS. at Bridgwater House : vol. 10, No. 2.
1 Bridgwater House MSS. vol. 18, No. 1. The original paper; not in Bacon's hand, but corrected by him in two or three places. Docketed “5 Julij, Mr. Bacon."
Under this question falleth out the fees of search, as well those for bills and replications as those for commissions, which fees have been anciently taken, but variably; which Mr. Mill had the more reason to restrain to a certainty, because he taketh it not himself but putteth it over to his clerk, whose discretion it was not safe for him to trust, in leaving it to his liberty to take an uncertain reward.
The noble taken for certificate falleth within the same question, forasmuch as reward hath been always taken for the same according as usual for certificates in the Chancery; and although it be not used by the Judges and the Queen's Counsel Learned in the Star Chamber, yet the nature of the Clerk of Counsel's certificate differeth from the rest, because the references made to him are either upon question of precedents in the Court in other cases, or upon question how a particular cause standeth in proceeding in the Court, both which points require much travel in search or perusal of orders or other records of the Court, whereas the other certificates require but audience, or consideration of that which is prepared to be showed and set forth by the party's counsel.
And it seemeth to have proceeded of a very good mind in Mr. Mill, to have drawn this reward to an equal and very moderate fee, lest in this service, which is judicial, he mought be thought to carry himself more or less favourable according to the liberality used towards him.
Secondly, if an ancient fee be in case, and the favour of the Court or some new course conceived do draw matters into another course, whereby that case in which the ancient fee is due) is frustrated, whether yet the officer's fee ought not to remain and to be accounted as the ancient fee ? Under this question falleth the fee of a noble for such as answer by ded. pot., wherein Mr. Mill allegeth the precedent of the proclamation, when by reason of sickness all defendants were permitted to answer by ded. pot. ; at what time nevertheless all fees were paid, and so was the Judge's opinion.
So when the Lord Chancellor or Keeper passeth any patent by immediate warrant, yet the fees of the Clerk of the Seal and Signet are ordered to be answered, and yet they do nothing for them.
So since the office erected of writing the Queen's leases granted
by the con1 () which were wont to pass the Queen's Learned Counsel, the fees remain good to the Attorney and Solicitor, and yet the leases come not to them.
So no doubt by diligence many the like precedents mought be found out, it standing with all equity and reason that new orders or favours should not frustrate ancient and vested fees.
Thirdly, if by a new order of the Court the officer be enjoined to any new travel in case not accustomed, whether the same fee be not due in that case not accustomed, which is due in the like cases accustomed.
Under this falleth the question of the fee for subsignation, being the same fee which the clerk in all cases taketh for his hand and sign, and there being a new order that copies should be credenced with the clerk's hand, which heretofore was set to when the subject prayed it, and the fee ever answered, and yet allowed in that case ; so as it is the new order exacts this fee generally, and not the officer.
Now if these defences, laid unto Mr. Mill his particular answers, shall seem unto your Lordship reasonable for the proving these fees to be in true understanding ancient fees (which defences by the precedents and courses of all other Courts mought be amplified and fortified), and nevertheless it shall seem unto your Lordship that, notwithstanding you should be pleased to give allowance to the matter of them, yet that there was an error in the form, because the Clerk of the Counsel did forerun in taking of them de facto as fees which he supposed to be ancient and due unto him, and not putting up some petition unto your Lordship and the rest of the right honourable the Judges of the Court for the declaring and ordering of them accordingly; then my humble request unto your Lordship is, that that which hath not yet been done may now be done, and that your Lordship will be pleased to give us leave to become humble suitors to yourself principally, and the rest as well, for the establishing by your honourable order these fees according to reason and conveniency, and the true equity and understanding of ancient usage, as also for the redress of some wrongs and abuses which Mr. Mill findeth to be committed by the attorneys and other clerks, to the prejudice both of this office, being of her Majesty's gift, as also of the subject and suitor.
So the word is written plainly enough. Is it short for Commission ?
To conclude, if your Lordship shall not rest satisfied by these answers and defences, but upon the consideration of them and the hearing of ourselves with counsel, as it pleased your Lordship most honourably to assent unto, shall yet think good to continue these restraints in all or in part; I for my part do ascribe so much not only to your Lordship's authority but to your judgment and integrity, as I shall most willingly resign my reason to yours, and think no fee just but such as so just a magistrate shall allow.
A possible result of the investigation in question was the removal of Mill from the office; in which case Bacon would have come at once into possession. And it occurred to him that in that event it might be used to help him to a better and fitter office. If Egerton, who still held the Rolls, could use his influence to get that place for Bacon, Bacon on his part was ready to surrender the Clerkship of the Star Chamber to one of Egerton's sons. An arrangement not substantially objectionable, more than any of the innumerable cases of promotion in which the person who procures it becomes patron of the place which the promoted man leaves : though events afterwards took a turn which made it more questionable. I cannot tell : but I suppose that the next letter-which comes from the manuscript collection in Queen's College, Oxford, and was not printed by Rawley (probably as being of too private a character), and bears no datewas written about this time: that is, in the summer or autumn of 1597.
To Sir Thomas EGERTON, Lord KEEPER OF THE GREAT
Of your Lordship’s honourable disposition both generally and to me I have that belief, as what I think I am not afraid to speak, and what I would speak I am not afraid to write. And therefore I have thought to commit to letter some matter which I have conceived, being led into the same by two motives ; the one, the consideration of mine own estate; the other, the appetite which I have to give your Lordship some evidence of the thankful and voluntary desire which is in me to merit well of your most honourable Lordship: which desire in me hath been bred chiefly by the consent I have to your great virtue, comen in very good time to do this state pleasure ; and next by your loving
1 From a collection in the library of Queen's College, Oxford, Arch. D. 2.