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any commission under it; to which Cromwel replied, that since he had got the possession of the government, he was resolved to keep it, and would not be argued out of it; that however it was his desire to rule according to the laws of the land, for which purpose he had pitched upon him as a person proper to be employed in the administration of justice; yet if they would not permit him to govern by red gowns, he was resolved to govern by red coats.

Upon this consideration, as also of the necessity there at all times is, that justice and property should be preserved, he was prevailed with to accept of a judge's place in the court of common-pleas, wherein he behaved with great impartiality, constantly avoiding the being concerned in any state-affairs; and tho for the first two or three circuits he sat indifferently on the plea-side, or the crown-side, yet afterwards he absolutely refused to sit on the crown-side, thinking it the safer course in so dubious a case.

But notwitstanding his dislike to Cromwel's government, yet this did not drive him, as it did some others, into the extremes of the contrary party; for upon the restoration, of which he was no inconsiderable promoter, he was not for making a surrender of all, and receiving the king without any restrictions; on the contrary, he thought this an opportunity not to be lost for limiting the prerogative, and cutting off some useless branches, that served only as instruments of oppression; for which purpose he moved, as bishop Burnet relates,(6) “That a committee might be appointed to look into the propositions that had been made, and the concessions that had been offered by the late king, and from thence to digest such propositions, as they should think fit to be sent over to the king."

This motion was seconded, and tho through general Monk's means it failed of success, yet it shewed our author's tender regard for the liberties of the subject, and that he was far from being of a mind with those, who looked on every branch of the prerogative as jure divino and indefeasible.

But notwithstanding this attempt, which shewed he was not cut out for such compliances as usually render a man acceptable to a court, yet such was his unblemished character, that it was thought an honour to his majesty's government to advance him first to the station of Lord Chief

(6) Burnet's Hist. of own Times, Vol. I. p. 88.

Baron, and afterwards to that of Lord Chief Justice of the king's, bench; nor indeed could so great a trust be lodged in better hands.

When he was first promoted, the Lord Chancellor Clarendon, upon delivering to him his commission, told him, among other things, “That if the king could have found out an honester or fitter man for that employment, he had not advanced him to it, and that he had therefore preferred him, because he knew none that deserved so well."(c)

He behaved in each of these places with such uncorrupt integrity, such impartial justice, such diligence, candor, and affability, as justly drew the chief practice after him, whithersoever he went; he constantly shunned not only the being corrupt, but every thing which had any apr

, or might afford the least suspicion of it; he was sincerely bent on discovering the truth and merits of a cause, and would therefore bear with the meanest counsel, supply the defects of the pleader, and never take it amiss, when summing up the evidence to be reminded of any circumstance he had omitted; for being in a high degree possessed of that qualification so peculiarly necessary to a judge, I mean patience (without which the most excellent talents may become insignificant) no considerations of his own convenience could prevail with him to hurry over a cause, or dispatch it without a thorough examination; for which reason he made it a rule, especially upon the circuits, to be short and sparing at meals, that he might not either by a full stomach unfit himself for the due discharge of his office, or by a profuse waste of time, be obliged to put off, or precipitate the business that came before him.[1]

(c) Burnet's life of Hale, Edit, 1682. p. 53.

[1] Lord Hale wrote the following rules for his judicial guidance:

Things necessary to be continually had in remembrance. I. That in the administration of justice I am entrusted for God, the king and country; and therefore,

JI. That it be done, Ist, uprightly; 2dly, deliberately ; 3dly, resolutely.

III. That I rest not upon my own understanding or strength, but implore and rest upon the direction and strength of God.

IV. That in the execution of justice I carefully lay aside my own passions, and do not give way to them, however provoked.

V. That I be wholly intent upon the business I am about, remitting all other cares and thoughts as únseasonable, and interruptions.

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He was a great lamenter of the divisions and animosities which raged so fiercely at that time among us, especially about the smaller matters of external ceremonies, which he feared might in the end subvert the fundamentals of all religion: and tho he thought the principles of the non-conformists too narrow and strait-laced, yet he could by no means approve the penal laws which were then made against them; he knew many of them to be sober, peaceable men, who were well affected to the government, and had shewn as much dislike as any to the late usurpation, and therefore he thought they deserved a better treatment; besides, he looked on it as an infringement on the rights of conscience, which ought always to be held sacred and inviolable, and therefore used to say, that the only way to heal our breaches was a new act of uniformity; for which purpose he concurred with Lord Keeper Bridgman and Bishop Wilkins, in setting on foot a scheme for the comprehension of the more moderate dissenters, and an indulgence towards others, and drew the same up into the form of a bill, altho by a vote of the house of commons it was prevented from being laid before the parliament.

VI. That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any judgment at all, till the whole business, and both parties be heard,

VII. That I never engage myself in the beginning of a cause, but reserve myself unprejudiced till the whole be heard.

VIII, Thai in business capital, though my nature prompt me to pity, yet to consider that there is also a pity due to the country.

IX. That I be not too rigid in matters purely conscientious, where all the harm is diversity of judgment.

X. That I be not biassed with compassion to the poor or favor to the rich, in point of justice.

XI. That popular or court applause, or distaste, have no influence upon any thing I do in point of distribution of justice.

XII. Not to be solicitous what men will say or think, so long as I keep myself exactly according to the rules of justice.

XIII. If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to mercy and acquittal.

XIV. In criminals that consist merely in words when no more harm ensues, moderation is no injustice.

XV. In criminals of blood, if the fact be evident, severity is justice.

XVI. To abhor all private solicitations, of what kind soever, and by whomsoever, in matters depending.

XVII. To charge my servants; 1st, not to interpose in any business whatsoever; 2d, not to take more than their known fees; 3d, not to give any undue precedence to causes; 4th, not to recommend counsel.

XVIII. To be short and sparing at meals, that I may be fitter for business.

Tho by this means he was hindered from obtaining a repeal of those laws, yet could he never be brought to give any countenance to the execution of them. I have heard it credibly related, that once when he was upon the circuit, there happened to be a grand jury, who thought to make a merit of presenting a worthy peaceable non-conformist, that lived in their neighbourhood; upon this occasion our judge could not avoid reprimanding them for their ill-placed zeal, which vented itself this way, while no notice was taken of the prophaneness, drunkenness and other immoralities, which abounded daily amongst them; in short, he told them, that if they were resolved to persist, he would remove the affair to Westminster-Hall

, and if he could not then prevail to have a stop put to it, he would resign his place; for he had told the king, when he first accepted it, that if any thing was pressed upon him, which was against his judgment, he would quit his post.

He always retained a serious impression of religion, and in particular was a punctual observer of any vow or engagement he had laid himself under. Having in his younger days on a particular occasion made a vow never to drink an health again, he could never be prevailed on upon any consideration to dispense with it, altho drinking healths was then grown to be the fashionable loyalty of the times.

And thus in every character of life he was a pattern well worthy of imitation: in short, he was a public blessing to the age he lived in, and not to that only, but by his bright and amiable example to succeeding generations; for as a pattern of virtue and goodness will always be a silent, tho sharp reproof to those who deviate from it, so to noble and minds it will not fail of being a mighty spur and incentive to the imitation of it, and by that means leave a real and lasting, tho secret, influence, behind it.

As he justly merited the esteem of all, so in particular he has well deserved of the profession of the law, to which he was so shining an ornament; he contributed more by his example to the removal of the vulgar prejudices against them, than any argument whatever could do.

The great Archbishop Usher had entertained some prejudices of that kind, but by conversation with our author and the learned Selden, he was convinced of his mistake; our author declaring, “That by his acquaintance with them, he believed there was as many honest men among the lawyers


proportionably, as among any profession of men in England.

Never was the old monkish maxim, Bonus Jurista malus Christa, more thoroughly confuted, than by his example. He demonstrated by a living argument, how practicable it was to be both an able lawyer and a good christian; indeed he saw nothing in the one that was any way incompatible with the other, nor did he think, that an unaffected piety sat with an ill grace on any, be his station never so high, or his learning never so great; for tho he diligently applied himself to the business of his profession, yet would he never suffer it so to engross his time as to leave no room for matters of a more serious concernment, as may appear from the many tracts he has wrote on moral and religious subjects.

For this reason, when he found the decays of nature gaining ground upon him, he could no longer be prevailed with to suspend the resolution he had taken to resign his place; that after the example of that great emperor Charles V. he might have an interstice between the business of life and the hour of death.(d)

No wonder then that one so great, so good, should be loved and esteemed while living, should be revered and admired when dead; no wonder the king should be loth to part with him, who had been such a credit to his ment; tho had he held his place some few years longer, such a scene of affairs did then open, as in all likelihood would have greatly distressed him how to behave, as well as the court how to get rid of one, who could not have been removed without great reproach, nor continued without great obstruction to the violent measures that were then pursued.

But it is time to stop, for I mean not to write the history of his life; this would require a volume of itself, and is long ago performed by an able hand;(e) I shall therefore only subjoin his character, as drawn by that learned prelate, and other eminent cotemporaries, by which it will appear, that future times cannot outgo his own in the veneration and esteem they bore him.

The bishop expresses it in short thus: “That he was one of the greatest patterns this age has afforded, whether in his private deportment as a christian, or in his public employ

(d) Inter vite negotia of mortis diem oportere spatium intercedere. Strada de bello Belgico, Vol. I. sub anno 1555.

(e) Bp. Burnet,


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