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Coke
Coke
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judge that refused to submit in the matter of the commendams (S. P. D. Ixxxvii. 376) Coke defended himself, but only made matters worse. The king, not satisfied with his answers, had him summoned again on 30 June, 'when he was suspended from the council and from the public exercise of judicial duties. It was further ordered 'that during this vacation, while he hath time to live peaceably and dispose himself at home, he take into consideration his books of reports, wherein (as his majesty is informed) there be many exorbitant and extravagant opinions set down and published for positive and good law.' Even his styling himself chief justice of England, instead of merely the king's bench, was mentioned as a cause of offence. On 2 Oct. he appeared before Ellesmere and Bacon, and handed in a statement of five errors which he had found in his reports, all of the most trivial character, e.g. 'that he had set Montagu to be chief justice in Henry VIII's time, when it should have been in Edward VI's, and such other stuff; not falling upon any of those things which he could not but know were offensive' (Bacon's Account ; Spedding, vi. 94-6). This of course would not do, and on 17 Oct. he was informed that the king out of his gracious favour was pleased that his memory should be refreshed, and a selection of five points, touching the prerogative, was made from his reports by Bacon and Yelverton, and submitted to him. In a few days he gave his answer to the effect that his statement of the law did not affect the prerogative, though as regards four of them he was prepared to modify his language so as to make this more clear. He was found impracticable, and no further attempt was made to bring him to submission. On 10 Nov. the king announced to the council his removal from the bench, and gave elaborate reasons for the step : Coke's ' perpetual turbulent carriage' towards the church, the prerogative, and the jurisdiction of certain courts ; his popularity arising not from his being liberal, affable, or magnificent, but from design ; his refractory conduct in the council, ' rather busying himself in casting fears . . . concerning what they could not do, than joining his advice what they should do;' and his scornful treatment of the proposal to review his reports (Spedding, vi. 96). Chamberlain summed up the reasons very correctly when he wrote to Dudley Carleton (14 Nov. 1616) : ' The common speech is, that four p's have overthrown and put him down that is, pride, prohibitions, præmunire, and prerogative.' He was removed from the chief justiceship on 15 Nov., receiving the news, it is said, with dejection and tears.

Towards the end of 1616 appeared an anonymous letter addressed to Coke, which deserves to be noted, both because it gives an interesting picture of his character, and also because Bacon was long supposed to have written it (see Cabala, 3rd edit. 86). Coke's failings are frankly stated : in discourse he delighted to speak too much, not to hear other men, so that sometimes his affections were entangled with a love of his own arguments, even though they were the weaker ; he conversed with books and not with men, who are the best books ; his bitter tongue bred him many enemies; he was too much given to vainglory, to making the law lean to his own opinion, and to the love of money. In the Overbury trials and in the chancery dispute his intentions were good, but he showed a want of discretion. He is recommended to give way in the meantime to power, 'to make friends of the unrighteous mammon,' so that he may be enabled to carry on still more vigorously his war against the papists advice which Coke for some years strove to follow. This candid criticism points at real defects in his character, and must have been written by some one who had observed him closely (see Spedding, vi. 121 et seq., where sufficient reasons are given for believing that Bacon was not the author).

The public blow had not long fallen upon him before Coke was plunged into exciting family troubles. He still cherished hopes of returning to favour ; for he was assured by the king that, save as regards the matters wherein he had offended, he was still esteemed a good servant, who would be had in remembrance, and employed in some other condition. Moved evidently by the desire to make powerful friends, he agreed to a proposal, which he had formerly opposed, of a marriage between his youngest daughter, then only fourteen, and the elder brother of the Duke of Buckingham. Lady Hatton, however, whose consent had not been obtained, took away her daughter to her cousin's house at Oatlands, and a famous and undignified squabble ensued. Coke applied for a warrant from the privy council. Bacon refused, but Winwood granted it. Coke, without his warrant, went to Oatlands and recovered his daughter by force. His wife in turn appealed to the privy council, where Bacon, now lord keeper, took up her quarrel, and an information against Coke was filed in the Starchamber. The matter was ultimately patched up, but not before Bacon had come under the censure of the king ; and the marriage took place (see Coke's proceedings at Oatlands, described in letter of the council to Sir Thomas Lake, Camden Miscell. v., Camd. Soc.