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SIR EDWARD COKE,
LORD CHIEF JUSTICE.
(With an Engraving.) On the 1st of February, 1551-2, Edward Coke was born at Milebam, in the county of Norfolk. His father was a Bencher of Lincoln's-Inn; and his family name is supposed by Lord Campbell to have been Cook, assumed in that form when surnames were first taken in England,—but subsequently changed to hide the craft which gave it; and still it is pronounced Cook, not Coke.
From the Free Grammar-School at Norwich, where he had spent seven years, he was sent to Cambridge, and had for tutor Whitgift, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury; but, although a diligent student, he possessed no literary ambition, nor much elevation of taste, and left the University, at the end of three years, without taking a degree. The division of the paternal estates among many children left him but a scanty fortune, and induced him to go up to London, and apply himself to legal studies in the Inner-Temple, where his diligence was indeed exemplary, and is thus described by Lord Campbell, in his “Lives of the Lord Chief Justices :"
“Every morn he rose at three; in the winter-season lighting his own fire. He read Bracton, Littleton, the Year-Books, and the folio Abridgments of the Law, till the Courts met at
Vol. XVII. Second Series.
eight. He then went by water to Westminster, and heard cases argued till twelve, when pleas ceased for dinner. After a short repast in the Inner-Temple Hall, he attended readings' or lectures in the afternoon, and then resumed his private studies till five, or supper-time: this meal being ended, the moots took place, when difficult questions of law were proposed and discussed; if the weather was fine, in the garden by the river-side ; if it rained, in the covered walks near the Templechurch. Finally, he shut himself up in his chamber, and worked at his common-place book, in which he inserted, under the proper heads, all the legal information he had collected during the day. When nine o'clock struck, he retired to bed, that he might have an equal proportion of sleep before and after midnight. The Globe and other theatres were rising into repute, but he never would appear at any of them; nor would he indulge in such unprofitable reading as the poems of Lord Surrey, or Spenser. When Shakspeare and Ben Jonson came into such fashion, that even sad apprentices of the law' occasionally assisted in masques, and wrote prologues, he most steadily eschewed all such amusements; and it is supposed that in the whole course of his life he never saw a play acted, or read a play, or was in company with a player."
On the 20th of April, 1578, he was called to the Bar, one year earlier than usual; for the Benchers, in admiration of his industry, forensic power, and extensive knowledge, dispensed with their own rule, and admitted him to practice after his name had been but six years on their books. He forthwith rose into eminence, made money with extraordinary rapidity, and, verifying the proverb that the love of wealth increases at an equal rate with its acquisition, became confirmed in a selfishness that appears to have been natural to him. But, under the counteraction of strong moral principle, he maintained his integrity as a servant of his Sovereign and the country, through a long and eventful public life. Had he known the grace of God, which teaches the denial of every worldly lust, he would have been one of the first of men; but avarice spoiled him both as a husband and a father. Only a few months after the death of his first wife, with whom he had lived happily, he married Lady Hatton, a person