Front Page Titles (by Subject) (Preface) Deo, Patriae, Tibi. 2 - Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I
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(Preface) Deo, Patriae, Tibi. 2 - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 1.
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(Preface) Deo, Patriae, Tibi.2
I had no sooner (good Reader) made an end of the Sixth Part of my Commentaries or Reports, but the greatest Case that ever was argued in the Hall of Westminster began to come in question, and afterwards was Argued by all the Judges of England. This great Case (for that Memory is infida & labilis3 ) whiles the Matter was recent and fresh in mind, and almost yet sounding in the Ear, I set down in writing, out of my short Observations which I had taken of the effect of every Argument, (as my manner is, and ever hath been) a summary memorial of the principal authorities and reasons of the Resolutions of that Case, for mine own private solace and instruction. I never thought to have published the same, for that it was not like to give any direction in like Cases that might happen, (the chiefest end of publishing Reports) it is of his own nature so like the Phoenix, and so singular and rare in accident, as the union of two famous and ancient Kingdoms in ligeance and obedience under one great and mighty Monarch. Now when I had ended it for my private, I was by commandment to begin again (a matter of no small labour and difficulty) for the publick. For certainly, that succinct method and collection that will serve for the private memorial or repertory, especially of him that knew and heard all, will nothing become a publick Report for the present and all posterity, or be sufficient to instruct those Readers, who of themselves know nothing, but must be instructed by the Report only in the right rule and reason of the case in question. And as unda gignit undam,4 so commonly one labour cometh not alone: This brought on another with it; for seeing this Case was of so rare a quality, I thought good as well for thine instruction and use (good Reader) as for the repose and quiet of many, inresolving of Questions and Doubts (wherein there hath been great diversity of Opinions) concerning their estates and possessions, to publish some others that are common in accident, weighty in consequent, and yet never resolved or adjudged before: So as it is now verified in this, that which hath been said of old, Labor labori laborem addit.5
With this Seventh Work or part of my Reports (whereunto Almighty God of his goodness hath in this short time, amongst many other publick Employments, enabled me) I have out of my love unto all my dear Countrymen, of what perswasion in Religion soever they be, thought good to give them all a caveat or fore-warning in a Case of great importance, that deeply and dangerously concerns them all in so high a point, that in the first degree it is a Praemunire,6 and in the second High Treason. And yet many men, without all fear (by reason I think they know not the Law) run into the danger thereof almost every day. I must confess, that this is a writing or a scribling World, quotidie plures, quotidie pejus scribunt.7 And sure I am, that no man can either bring over those Books of late written (which I have seen) from Rome or Romanists, or read them, and justifie them, or deliver them over to any other with a liking and allowance of the same (as the Authors end and desire is they should) but they run into desperate dangers and downfalls; for the first offence is a Praemunire, which is to be adjudged to be out of the Kings protection, to lose all their Lands and Goods, and to suffer perpetual Imprisonment, and they that offend the second time therein, incur the heavy danger of high Treason. These Books have glorious and goodly Titles, which promise directions for the Conscience, and remedies for the Soul, but there is mors in olla:8 They are like to Apothecaries Boxes, quorum tituli pollicentur remedia, sed pixides ipsae venena continent,9 whose Titles promise remedies, but the Boxes themselves contain Poyson. This forewarning I give out of conscience and care of their safety, that blindfold might fall into so great danger by their means whom they so much reverence. I am not afraid of Gnats that can prick and cannot hurt, nor of Drones that keep a buzzing, and would, but cannot sting.
Non metuo pulicis stimulos, fucique susurros.10
And little do I esteem an uncharitable and malicious practise in publishing of an erroneous and ill spelled Pamphlet, under the name Pricket, and dedicating it to my singular good Lord and Father in Law the Earl of Excester, as a Charge given at the Affises holden at the City of Norwich, 4 Augusti 1606. Which I protest was not only published without my privity, but (besides the omission of divers principal matters) that there is no one period therein expressed in that sort and sense that I delivered it: Wherein it is worthy of observation how their expectation (of scandalizing me) was wholly deceived, for behold the catastrophe. Such of the Readers as were learned in the Laws, finding not only gross Errors and Absurdities in Law, but palpable mistakings in the very words of Art, and the whole context of that rude and ragged Stile, wholly dissonant (the Subject being legal) from a Lawyers dialect, concluded, that inimicus & iniquus homo superseminavit zizania in medio tritici:11 The other discreet and indifferent Readers, out of Sense and Reason, found out the same conclusion, both in respect of the vanity of the phrase, and for that, I publishing about the same time one of my Commentaries, would, if I had intended the publication of any such matter, have done it my self, and not to have suffered any of my works to pass under the name of Pricket, and so una voce conclamaverunt omnes,12 That it was a shameful and shamless practice, and the Author thereof, to be a wicked and malicious falsary.
In these and the rest of my Reports, I have (as much as I could) avoided Obscurity, Ambiguity, Jeopardy, Novelty and Prolixity. 1. Obscurity, for that is like unto Darkness, wherein a Man for want of Light, can hardly with all his industry discern any way. 2. Ambiguity, where there is Light enough, but there be so many winding and intricate ways, as a Man, for want of direction, shall be much perplexed and intangled, to find out the right way. 3. Jeopardy, either in publishing of any thing, that might rather stir up Suits and controversies in this troublesome World, than stablish quietness and repose between Man and Man (for a Commentary should not be like unto the Winterly Sun; that raiseth up greater and thicker Mists and Fogs, than it is able to disperse) or in bringing the Reader, by any means, into the least question of peril or danger at all. 4. Novelty, For I have ever holden all new or private interpretations, or opinions, which have no Ground or Warrant out of the Reason or Rule of our Books, or former Presidents, to be dangerous, and not worthy of any Observation: For periculosum existimo quod honorum virorum non comprobatur exemplo.14 5. Prolixity, For a Report ought to be no longer than the matter requireth, and as Languor prolixus gravat medicum, ita relatio prolixa gravat lectorem.15
The Case of Postnati, I confess, is longer than any of the rest, and that for three Causes. 1. For that it was an Exchequer-chamber Case, for deciding whereof all the Judges of England (as the Law doth require) did argue openly and at large. 2. For that never any Case within Mans Memory, was argued by so many Judges in the Exchequer-chamber, as this was, there having argued the Lord Chancellor and 14 Judges. 3. For the variety as well of the important matter, as of the several kinds of excellent Learning and knowledge, delivered in the Arguments of this Case.
Finally, With these Wishes and Desires I conclude. 1. That the Studious Reader might indeed receive as great profit and delight in Reading this work, as I did (unless mine own judgment deceive me) in composing and framing thereof. 2. That quoad ejus fieri possit, quaiam plurima legibus ipsis difiniantur, quam paucissima vero Judicis arbitrio relinquantur.16
[2. ][Ed.: To God, to the country, to you.]
[3. ][Ed.: untrustworthy and unstable.]
[4. ][Ed.: a wave begets a wave,]
[5. ][Ed.: Labour adds work to work.]
[6. ][Ed.: The offence of introducing a foreign power into the Kingdom, used particularly to regulate Roman Catholics in the Kingdom.]
[7. ][Ed.: every day more people write, and every day worse.]
[8. ][Ed.: death in a jar.]
[9. ][Ed.: the labels whereof promise remedies, but the boxes themselves contain poison,]
[10. ][Ed.: I am not afraid of the sting of the flea and the humming of the drone.]
[11. ][Ed.: an enemy and a wicked man has scattered tares in the midst of the wheat.]
[12. ][Ed.: they all shouted with one voice.]
[13. ][Ed.: For force and wrong turn themselves around, and most often return to him from whence they came.]
[14. ][Ed.: I consider anything dangerous that is not proved by the example of good men.]
[15. ][Ed.: just as a prolonged illness grieves the doctor, so a prolix report grieves the reader.]
[16. ][Ed.: as far as may be, most things should be defined by the laws themselves and little should be left to the discretion of the judge.]