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England by William the Conqueror, the land of the kingdom was divided amongst his followers, or vassals, in the same manner that lands were usually divided upon the continent. Every man, instead of paying rent in money for the land which he held, was bound to supply the person from whom he held it, with a certain number of armed men, on horseback, or on foot. The person to whom he owed this service was called his liege lord. Persons who were themselves princes frequently had liege lords over them; in particular, the emperor of Germany had a great number of princes and dukes for his vassals, who were all bound to him as their liege lord.
“ King Henry. – You are right, justice ; and you
weigh this well;
The first line of this speech cannot be put into plainer prose than as it stands in the original." You are right, justice ; and you weigh this well; therefore continue in your office, deciding what is right and wrong, and determining between the weights of different evidence and arguments, as a person weighs things in scales to determine their value, and execute justice as you did on me; and I wish your honours may increase during a long life, and that you may see a son of mine obey you as I did, if he offend as I have done. I shall then gladly repeat what my father said of me~' I am happy to have a judge who is bold enough to execute the laws against my own son, and no less happy to have a son that submitted, in such a wise manner, to the hand of justice.”
Therefore still bear the balance and the sword. The chief justice of the king's bench has neither a balance (a pair of scales), nor a sword, carried before' him'; but the allegorical figure of Justice is represented in painting and statuary, by a female figure blindfold, to show that Justice should not respect the persons of people; with a balance in her left hand, to de* note that she weighs carefully before she determines; and with a sword in her right hand, to denote that Justice can punish offenders with the sword of the law. The roman ma.
gistrates had axes surrounded with rods, carried before them, as emblems of punishinent; the rods to punish smaller offences, the axe to punish greater crimes with death. Though the judges have not swords carried before thein, yet the king, who is the head of the law, and who is represented by the chief justice of the king's bench, has the sword of state carried before himn on days of ceremony.
“ You committed me;
have done 'gainst me- - There is my hand :
4 You committed me to prison, for which bold and dignified conduct I entrust to your hand the sword of Justice, which you used to : bear, and which never was stained by any injustice, whilst in your care ; at the same time putting you in mind, to use it hereafter with the same courage, justice, and impartiality, < with which you used it against me.-=There is my band: you shall be a father to me; I will
publish such decrees, as you advise, and I will submit my will to your experience and wisdom."
v............You committed me, -- For which I do commit into your Here the words committed, sent to gaol, and, commit, entrust, are purposely employed to make a kind of gingle in the sound, a kind of pun, or double meaning, of which authors of bad taste are fond. Shakspeare condescended to employ this false ornament in his best plays ; but it cannot be justified even by his authority.
Tb' unstained sword.-Unstainel here has a secret reference to the blood which the sword of justice may be supposed to have shed. This is not a pun, but a just metaphor. The variable meaning of words is, in argument and reasoning, the chief source of errour and confusion ; but in poetry it contributes to diversify and ornament. Pure, unstained blood, means, in general, nobility unsullied by crimes or dishonourable actions; but the unstained sword of Justice means not stained with pure and innocent blood. The blood of the guilty does not stain the sword of the law.
With this remembrance. -- Hoping that you will remember.
There is my hand. I give you my hand; I shake hands with you, as a pledge or token of my promise.
Stoop and humble my intents.-Lower and moderate my intents or intentions 'by your advice.
" And princes all, believe me,
I beseech you;
“ And, princes, believe me, my father has carried my wildness and youthful follies into his grave with him*; for all my former affections or propensities lie there; and his sedate spirit lives in me, to disappoint the expectation which the world has of my being a dissipated monarch, and to contradict prophecies and opinions which were formed from my former conduct."
* Perhaps some allusion is meant here to the jewish expiatory sacrifice; but as this is not a fit place for such a discussion, I must refer my young readers, for 10 explanation, to their preceptors.