Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

of delay avowed by Pym, and affords an early example in the measures of the Long Parliament of that spirit of hasty legislation which arises from the expectation of having to act on the defensive.

Petitions from various places, complaining of different grievances, were presented ; and on the occasion of one being read from Watford (Herts), against ship-money, on the 4th December,' Lord Falkland spoke at some length on the illegality of the tax and on the opinion of the Judges. After some apologies for undertaking the task imposed upon him, by being intrusted with the report of the Committee, he disclaimed any personal hostility towards those against whom he had to speak, and adds that public interest alone extorted from him that which, to use his own words, “I would not say if “I conceived it not so true and so necessary, that no “ undigested meat can lie heavier upon the stomach “ than this unsaid would have lain upon my conscience.” “ Mr. Speaker,” continued he, “ the constitution of this “ commonwealth hath established, or rather endea“ voured to establish, to us the security of our goods, " and the security of those laws which would secure us “and our goods, by appointing for us Judges so settled, “ so sworn, that there can be no oppression but they of “ necessity must be necessary; since, if they neither “ deny nor delay us justice, which neither for the great “ or little seal they ought to do, the greatest person in " this kingdom cannot continue the least violence upon “ the meanest. But this security, Mr. Speaker, hath been almost our ruin, for it hath been turned, or rather

Nalson, Coll., vol. i. p. 654.

[ocr errors]

al

“ turned itself, into a battery against us; and those per“ sons who should bave been as dogs to defend the “ sheep, have been as wolves to worry them.”

“ These Judges,” he continued, “ have delivered an “ opinion and judgment in an extra-judicial manner, " that is, such as came not within their cognizance, they “ being Judges, and neither philosophers nor politicians.” He then alludes to the opinion delivered by the Judges, and comments thus forcibly upon its culpability :-" In “ this judgment they contradicted both many and learned " acts and declarations of Parliament, and those in this “ very case,—in this very reign, —so that for them they “ needed to have consulted with no other record but “ with their memories.” The plea of imminent danger alleged by the Judges to justify the King's right to impose the tax of ship-money is thus treated :-“ They “ have contradicted apparent evidences by supposing “ mighty and imminent dangers in the most serene, quiet, “ and halcyon days that could possibly be imagined ; a “ few contemptible pirates being our most formidable “ enemies, and there being neither Prince nor State “ with whom we had not either alliance, or amity, or “ both. They contradict the writ itself, by supposing " that supposed danger to be so sudden that it would “ not stay for a Parliament, which required but forty “ days' stay, and the writ being in no such haste, but “ being content to stay forty days seven times over. Mr. “ Speaker, it seemed generally strange that they saw not “ the law, which all men else saw but themselves.” Such conduct, he declared, created “general great wonder,” but that still greater indignation was felt at the reason

given for their judgment than even at the illegal writ itself; " and that, after they had allowed to the King the “ sole power in necessity, and the sole judgment of neces“sity, and by that enabled him to take both from us, what “ he would, when he would, and how he would,—that " they yet wished to persuade us that they had left us our “ liberties and properties.” He complained that, “ by “ the transformation of us from free subjects unto that “ of villeins, they disable us by legal and voluntary sup“plies from expressing our affection to his Majesty, and " by that to cherish his to us, that is, by Parliaments.” He then attributes all the miseries we have suffered, and should yet suffer, to this cause, “ that a most excellent “ Prince hath been most infinitely abused by his Judges, “ telling him that by policy he might do what he “ pleased;"—and that “since these men have trampled “ upon the laws which our ancestors have provided with “ their utmost care and wisdom for our undoubted “ security-words having done nothing, and yet they “ have done all that words can do, we must now be “ forced to think of abolishing of our grievances, and of “ taking away this judgment and these Judges together, “and of regulating their successors by their exemplary 66 punishment.”

He then alludes to the accusation of Lord Strafford “ for intending to subvert our fundamental laws, and to “ introduce arbitrary government, which we suppose he “ meant to do; we are sure these have done it, there “ being no law more fundamental than that they have 66 already subverted, and no government more absolute " than that they have really introduced. Not only the

ein

“ severe punishment, but the sudden removal of these “ men,” he deems “ will have a sudden effect in one “ very considerable consideration.” “We only accuse,' continued he, “and the House of Lords condemn; in " which condemnation they usually receive advice “ (though not direction) from the Judges." He pointedly remarks on the bias likely to be given by selfinterest in the advice of accused persons, and then, in a strain of eloquent indignation, directs his attack against the person whom he regarded as most guilty. “Mr. “ Speaker,” said he, “ there is one that I must not lose “ in the crowd, whom I doubt not but we shall find, “ when we examine the rest of them, with what hopes " they have been tempted, by what fears they have been “ assayed, and by what and by whose importunity they “ have been pursued, before they consented to what “ they did; I doubt not, I say, but we shall find him to “ have been a most admirable solicitor, but a most “ abominable judge; he it is who not only gave away “ with his breath what our ancestors had purchased for “ us by so large an expense of their time, their care, “ their treasure, and their blood, and employed their “ industry, as great as his injustice, to persuade them to “ join with him in that deed of gift; but strove to root “ up those liberties which they had cut down, and to “ make our grievances immortal, and our slavery “ irreparable, lest any part of our posterity might “ want occasion to curse him; he declared that power “ to be so inherent to the Crown, as that it was “ not in the power even of Parliaments to divide " them.”

That the Lord Keeper is the person thus spoken of, he says “ will be to tell them no news :" but he then reminds the House “ that his place admits him to his “ Majesty, and trusts him with his Majesty's con“ science ;” as well as giving him “unlimited power in “ Chancery ;” adding, “For my part, I think no man “ secure that he shall think himself worth anything “ when he rises, whilst all our estates are in his breast “ who hath sacrificed his country to his ambition ; “ whilst he who hath prostrated his own conscience hath “ the keeping of the King's; and he who hath undone “ us already by wholesale hath a power left in him “ by retail.” He then alludes to the Lord Keeper's own speeches in the beginning of the Parliament, when he declared “ that his Majesty never required any“ thing from any of his Ministers but justice, and in“ tegrity; against which if any of them have trans“ gressed, upon their heads, and that deservedly, it “ ought to fall; it was full and truly said; but he hath “ in this saying pronounced his own condemnation. “ We shall be more partial to him than he is to himself “ if we be slow to pursue it.”

In conclusion Lord Falkland moved that a select Committee “ might draw up his and their charge; and “ if he shall be found guilty of tampering with judges “ against the public security, who thought tampering “ with witnesses in a private cause worthy of so great a o fine,- if he should be found to have gone before the “ rest to this judgment, and to have gone beyond the

ve

I Lord Keeper Finch.

? Viz. against the Lord Keeper and the Judges.

« AnteriorContinuar »