"IT BRINGS CALAMITY UPON PRIVATE MEN, PERIL UPON THE STATE, AND CONTEMPT UPON THE LAW": FRANCIS BACON'S CHARGE… TOUCHING DUELS, SCARCE 1614 FIRST EDITION
BACON, Francis. The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Knight, His Majesties Attourney Generall, Touching Duells, upon an Information in the Star-Chamber against Priest and Wright. (London): Robert Wilson, 1614. Small thin quarto, modern full crimson morocco, raised bands; pp. 61. $8200.
First edition of Bacon's essay against the practice of dueling, a custom that was gaining ground at the time and that Bacon, as newly appointed Attorney General, set out to eradicate. Handsomely bound by Aquarius.
"After Salisbury's death Bacon acquired growing importance as a statesman and counsellor to James. Finally on 27 October 1613 he was appointed attorney-general… As attorney-general, among Bacon's first tasks was to abolish dueling—a recent social habit which rapidly gained ground in the early 1610s. In autumn 1613 Bacon suggested that a proclamation should be published against dueling, proposing that the offenders should be prosecuted in star chamber. In January he brought a convenient case of two obscure persons before the court [the "Priest" and "Wright" named in the title]. Bacon's charge, together with the decree of the court, was soon published. The actual proclamation was published in February 1614… According to Northampton the best strategy for abolishing dueling was to replace it by a court of honor. Bacon, however, insisted that such a strategy merely served the contrary purpose. By accepting the notion of courtesy, honor, and insult of the dueling theory, the court of honor would encourage men to fight duels. The only way to eradicate dueling, Bacon believed, was to discredit the underlying theory" (ODNB). Bacon here makes the case that duels threaten the authority of the state and go against the will of God. Gibson 102. STC 1125. Bookplate of investment banker and renowned bibliophile Robert S. Pirie.
Two small ink smudges to title page, affecting woodcut but not letterpress. Fine condition. Scarce.