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LAW BOSTON COLLEGE BOSTON COLLEGE LAW SCHOOL LEGAL STUDIES RESEARCH PAPER SERIES RESEARCH PAPER NO. 52 January 27 , 200 5 "The Purer Fountains": Bacon and Legal Education Daniel R. Coquillette Professor, Boston College Law School This paper can be downloaded without charge from the Social Science Research Network: http://ssrn.com/abstract_id= 655261
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“The Purer Fountains”: Bacon and Legal Education * Daniel R. Coquillette J. Donald Monan, S.J. University Professor Boston College Lester Kissel Visiting Professor Harvard Law School I. “This Evil is an Old One”: Bacon’s Education a) Bacon’s University Education Bacon had a low opinion of his formal education, both at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Gray’s Inn of the Inns of Court, where he studied law. But in examining his ideas for education reform, it is logical to start with what happened to him. As was customary for his day, Bacon was matriculated at university at what was, by modern standards, a very early age—thirteen. In June of 1573, he “went up” to Trinity College, Cambridge with his older brother, fifteen year-old Anthony, whose progress had been delayed by severe health problems. (Anthony, like his father, had severe asthma, which ran in the family.) The two boys roomed together at Trinity College, subject to the constant concern of their mother, whose anxious letters are still a primary source on Bacon’s life. 17 Bacon stayed at Cambridge until March of 1576. He left before obtaining a degree. From his later criticisms in The Advancement of Learning and De Augmentis , it was clear he experienced the typical curriculum and pedagogy of an undergraduate at Trinity College, under its first statutes of 1552. Trinity was no ordinary college. As Arthur Gray observed, under these statutes, “[e]laborate provision is made for a teaching staff within the College, and a schedule of the subjects of education is drawn up which conforms to the new curriculum of study which in the reign of Edward VI [1547-1553] was substituted for the old routine prescribed for trivium and quadrivium .” 18 This course was rigorous. * A preliminary version of this article was presented as the Francis Bacon Annual Lecture at the Huntington Library, San Marino, California on May 8, 2003. I am most grateful to the Bacon Foundation and its devoted trustees and to Dr. David Sieburg and his colleagues at the Huntington Library. I am also particularly grateful to my Administrative Assistant, Brendan Farmer, and Deborah H. Goldstein, Boston College Law School, 2003. Their intelligence and hard work was invaluable. 17 See Daniel R. Coquillette, Francis Bacon (Edinburgh and Stanford, 1992), pp. 23-69, 311-315; Catherine Drinker Bowen, Francis Bacon: The Temper of a Man (Boston, 1963), 23-37 (hereafter, “ Bowen ”). See also the highly entertaining biographies by Daphne du Maurier, Golden Lads (London, 1975) and The Winding Stair: Francis Bacon, His Rise and Fall (New York, 1977).
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