"A mans life is not to be trifled away, it is to be offered up and sacrificed to honorable services, public merits, good causes and noble adventures"
BACON, Francis. The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Knight, his Majesties Attourney generall, touching duells… Printed [by George Eld] for Robert Wilson, and are to be sold [by Robert Wilson and W. Bladen] at Graies Inne Gate, 1614.
Small 4to. Bound in light brown morocco, gilt text and 5 raised bands to spine, all edges gilt, inner boards decorated in gilt; pp.[vi, blank], 61, with some blank filler leaves added by the binder; first and last leaves (both blank) cut away as usual, some light toning of the original paper stock (to be expected), a little external scuffing to edges, with an unnamed armorial bookplate to front paste down endpaper, and the bookplate of the Fox Pointe collection to front free endpaper.
This well known and influential work records Bacon's case against duels. His scathing essay on the practice condemns it as a wasteful and dishonourable way of resolving disputes, moreover one which endangers both secular and religious authority (aka, if people start taking the law into their own hands to perform ad hoc executions, it no longer really has any meaning - also, think of the mess). This text is an important and rare part of the tapestry in James I's anti-duelling campaign in the 1610s, fuelled by a series of high profile combats between important politicians and figures of note in the summer and autumn of 1613.
Of the surviving texts we possess relating to the Jacobean anti-duelling campaign, Francis Bacon's "The charge touching duells" was published not only as a chastisement against duelling, but as a rebuke to the very idea of disputes of honor that fuelled duelling in the first place. Whilst contemporaries such as Henry Howard, the earl of Northampton sought to find other ways to resolve insults of honor, Bacon was of a mind that to entertain those claims as serious just encouraged everyone to ever increasing acts of violence, and that everyone should just grow up and stop shooting each other because someone called them a pigeon-liver.