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upon Coke by his professional admirers have seldom provoked the censure or opposition of more impartial critics.




In his person he was well-proportioned, and his features were regular. He was neat, but not nice, in his dress; for it was his maxim, that the cleanness of a man's clothes ought to put him in mind of keeping all clean within.' He had singular quickness of parts, deep penetration, a faithful memory, and a solid judgement. Matter,' he was wont to say, lay in a small compass;' and accordingly he was concise in his pleadings, though in his set speeches and his writings too diffuse. He valued himself, not unreasonably, that he had become successively Solicitor and Attorney General, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chief Justice of both Benches, High Steward of Cambridge, and a Member of the Privy Council, without either begging or bribing. Deriving from the law his fortune, his credit, and his greatness, he loved it to a degree of intemperance; and committed to writing every thing relating to it with an industry beyond example. And so signally was he honoured by it's professors in return, that when he was prosecuted in the reign of James I., Sir John Walter (though Attorney General to Prince Charles, and therefore almost officially engaged against him) indignantly threw aside the brief, which had been sent to him by the court, with this remarkable sentence: "Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, whenever I open it against Sir Edward Coke."


From making the best of his disgraces, King James used to compare him to a cat, who always falls upon her feet. He was, upon occasion, stre

nuously a friend to the clergy. An eminent Peer, during his loss of office, being inclined to question the right of the church of Norwich, he told him plainly, that if he proceeded, he would put on his cap and gown again, and follow the cause through Westminster Hall.' He had many benefices in his own patronage, which he is said to have given freely to men of merit; declaring in his own technical language, that he would have law-livings pass by livery and seisin, and not by bargain and sale.'

His reputation, as a writer, is so firmly established in our courts, that his works are deemed irrefragable. Of the principal of them the following is a list :

I. The First Part of the Reports of Sir Edward Coke, Knight, her Majesty's AttorneyGeneral, of diverse resolutions and judgements, given with great deliberation by the reverend judges and sages of the law, of cases and matters in law, which were never resolved or adjudged before. And the reasons and causes of the said resolutions and judge

• When his three first volumes were published, there were only fifteen previous volumes extant! Between the collective state of the law at present, and it's state in his time, the disproportion downward is as great, as upward between the latter and the Twelve Tables. Viner, adds Granger, has abridged the modern Code into TWENTY TWO FOLIO VOLUMES! and Sir William Blackstone, like an expert chemist, has drawn off the spirit, and left the caput mortuum for the benefit of the lawyers. "The late publication of the Journals of the House of Commons," observes Barrington, "shows that Coke did not prostitute his amazing knowledge of the municipal law to political purposes; as he generally argues in the same manner, and from the same authorities which he cites in his Institutes." (Observations on the Statutes.')

ments during the most happy reign of the most illustrious and renowned Queen Elizabeth, &c. From the preface it appears, that this work was published about the year 1600. The Second, and Third Parts of his Reports were published in the same reign. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Parts appeared at different times under James I.; and these are all, that were published by himself. The Twelfth Part has a printed certificate prefixed, dated February 2, 1655, and subscribed E. Bulstrode,' purporting that he conceives it to be the genuine work of Sir Edward Coke. The Thirteenth Part is entitled, Select Cases in Law, reported by Sir Ed ward Coke;' and these are asserted to be his in a preface, signed with the initial letters J. G.

II. A Book of Entries, folio, 1614, intended as a Supplement to his Reports.'

III. Institutes of the Laws of England, in four parts: The First containing his translation and comment upon Sir Thomas Littleton's Tenures,' published in 1628; the Second, Magna Charta and other select statutes, with a commentary full of excellent learning; the Third, the Criminal Law, or Pleas of the Crown; and the Fourth, the Jurisdiction of all the Courts in the Kingdom, from the high court of parliament down to the court-baron. Some inaccuracies in this last part were corrected by William Prynne in a separate work published in 1669. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth editions of the Institutes (1788, 1789, and 1794) by Hargrave and Butler, are the best.

Several smaller tracts of his, also, have been pub

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lished; particularly, a Treatise of Bail and Mainprize,' 4to. 1637, the Complete Copyholder,' 4to. 1640, and Readings on the Statute of Fines, 27 Edward I. 4to. 1662.

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THE commercial spirit, which animated the main body of the nation in the days of Elizabeth, and operated still more widely as well as more powerfully in those of James, was highly unfavourable to the cultivation of the polite arts. Engrossed by their new colonies, which now began to repay the proprietors with profit, the people eagerly embarked with the hopes of similar success in mercantile adventures: and as to the nobility and gentry from the accession of James to the death of Charles, involved in religious or political disputes, or occupied in the improvement of their estates, they had neither time nor inclination to patronise those pursuits, which embellish kingdoms and refine society. The favourite public amusements were those of the theatre, and therefore dramatic poetry met with encouragement; but sculpture, painting, and music were confined within the narrow circle of the court. James had a taste for architecture, and took under his protection Inigo Jones. By Charles, who possessed a more than

* AUTHORITIES. General Biographical Dictionary; and Cibber's Lives of the Poets.

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