Sunday, December 6, 2015

Henry VIII – the case for Francis Bacon - 7 - Precedents


Act 1, Sc 2 88-102
“Things done well
And with a care exempt themselves from fear.
Things done without example in their issue
Are to be feared. Have you a precedent
Of this commission? I believe not any.
We must not rend our subjects from our laws [p. 76]
And stick them in our will. Sixth part of each?
A trembling contribution! Why, we take
From every tree lop, bark and part o’th’ timber,
And though we leave it with a root thus hacked
The air will drink the sap. To every county
Where this is questioned send our letters with
Free pardon to each man that has denied
The force of this commission. Pray look to ’t:
I put it to your care.”

[These letters were to be sent to the discontented counties of England where ”bold mouths,” “all in uproar” traduced and censured Wolsey on account of his exactions. Thus Henry ended the rebellion not as Menenius Agrippa did, by a fable, but by cancelling Wolsey’s commission, and so removing the cause, as Bacon advises.]


“The judge as long as his judgment was contained within the compass of the law was excused; the subject knew by what law he was to govern himself and his actions; nothing was left to the judge’s discretion;” (Life, iii. Pp. 331-2)
“…unjust sentences, such as we spoke of, which are afterwards drawn into precedents infect and defile the very fountain of justice.” (De Aug., viii. ii., parabola xxv)
“No court of equity should have the right to decree contrary to a statute under any pretext of equity whatever, otherwise the judge would become a legislator, and have all things dependent upon his will.” (De Aug., viii, iii. 44. – Aphorism XLIV)
“ . . . and (for discontent’s sake) mought not be levied upon the poorer sort.” (Letter to Lord Burghley).
They take trees which by law they cannot do” (Life, iii. P. 184)
The first remedy, or prevention, is to remove by all means possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we spake, which is want and poverty in the estate.”  (Essay 15, Of Seditions and Troubles, written 1607-12, printed 1625)

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