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“ rest in this judgment, that in the punishment of it “ the justice of this House may not deny him the due “ honour both to precede and exceed the rest."
This speech was productive of important results. Four resolutions were passed in the House, declaring that the raising of ship-money,” that the “extra“ judicial opinion of the Judges,” “the ship-writs," and the “judgment in Mr. Hampden's case were all “ contrary to the laws of the realm, rights of property, “ and petition of right, &c.” Mr. Hyde proposed that a Committee should be appointed to ascertain if the Judges had been threatened or solicited to give their judgment on ship-money; and as delay might have frustrated the object, it was proposed that two of the Committee should go immediately “to visit all the “ Judges, and ask them apart, in the name of the Com" mons, what messages Lord Finch, when Chief Justice “ of the Common Pleas, had brought them from the “ King in the business of ship-money; and whether “ he had not solicited them to give judgment for the “ King in that case.”
The motion was generally approved ; Lord Falkland and Mr. Hyde were included in the members of the Committee. The result of the investigation was, that Justice Croke and others confessed that the Lord Chief Justice Finch had frequently, whilst that matter was pending, earnestly solicited them to give their judgments for the King, and often used his Majesty's name
' Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion,' vol. i. p. 523. Appendix B.
* Rushworth, Coll., vol. iv. p. 88.
On the 21st of December the Lord Keeper desired “ to be heard to speak for himself before any vote pass “ against him.” A chair was placed at the bar for him, on which he laid the “Great Seal, and would “neither sit down nor wear his hat, though the Speaker “ motioned to him to do so; but, standing and bare“headed,' made a very elegant and ingenious speech, “ delivered with an excellent grace and gesture as well " as words;" partly a vindication of his conduct, and partly a submissive appeal to their feelings and their favour. He succeeded in moving the compassion of some of his hearers, but not in justifying his conduct. He was voted guilty by the House on four principal charges, and Lord Falkland was appointed to carry up the accusation to the House of Peers the following day. But earlier still had the Lord Keeper risen: he dared not face the accusation, and fled in disguise to Holland. The articles of impeachment were ordered to be carried up to the Lords on the 14th of January, and, at the request of Lord Falkland, Mr. Hyde “ was appointed 6 to be assistant unto him for the reading of the articles “ to be declared against the late Lord Keeper.”3 The Lords, sitting in Committee of the whole House, gave the Commons the desired meeting. Lord Falkland began his address by a modest reference to himself, saying, “ These articles against my Lord Finch being “ read, I may be bold to apply that of the poet, · Nil “ refert tales versus quâ voce legantur.'” He then enlarges on the crimes of the Lord Keeper, “ whose life," he says, “ appears a perpetual warfare (by mines and " by battery, by battle and by stratagem) against our “ fundamental laws, which (by his own confession) “ several conquests had left untouched, -against the “excellent constitution of this kingdom, which hath “ made it appear unto strangers rather an idea than a “real commonwealth, and produced the honour and “ happiness of this to be a wonder of every other “ nation; and this with such unfortunate success, that, “ as he always intended to make our ruins a ground of - his advancement, so his advancement the means of " our further ruin.” Lord Falkland then enters in detail upon the several articles of his impeachment, of which the principal grounds were, disobeying the House when Speaker in the Parliament of 1628, by refusing to put a motion at their command; using threats and persuasions to the Judges on the opinion given on ship-money; pronouncing cruel and illegal sentences in the forest causes, when Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; advising the King against Parliaments, and framing and advising the publication of the King's declaration after the last Parliament. “ If what he had plotted,” continued Lord Falkland, “ had taken root on this wealthy and happy kingdom, " there could have been left no abundance but of “ grievances and discontentment, no satisfaction but “ amongst the guilty. It is generally observed of the “plague, that the infection of others is an earnest and “ constant desire of all that are seized by it; and as “ this design resembles that disease in the ruin, de"struction, and desolation it would have wrought, so it
| Nalson, Coll., vol. i. p. 693. : Whitelock's Memorials, p. 38.
3 Rushworth, vol. iv. p. 139.
“ seems no less like it in this effect; for having so “ laboured to make others share in that guilt, that his “ solicitation was not only his action but his works“ making use both of his authority, his interest, and im“portunity to persuade; and in his Majesty's name “ (whose piety is known to give that excellent preroga“tive to his person that the law gives to his place—not “ to be able to do wrong) to threaten the rest of the “ Judges to sign opinions contrary to law, to assign “ answers contrary to their opinions, to give judgment “ which they ought not to have given, and to recant “ judgment when they had given it as they ought.” He observes that this was plotted against England by an Englishman, “which increaseth the crime in no less “ degree than parricide is beyond murther.” Also, “ that “ he had turned our guard into a destruction, making “ law the ground of illegality.” He alleges that this is a treason “ as well against the King as against the “ kingdom; for whatever is against the whole is un“ doubtedly against the head ;” that “it takes from his “ Majesty the ground of his rule—the laws; and that it “ takes from his Majesty the principal honour of his “ rule—the ruling over free men-a power as much “ nobler than over villeins, as that is than that over “ beasts; which endeavoured to take from his Majesty " the principal support of his rule, the hearts and “ affections of those over whom he rules (a better and “surer strength and wall to the King than the sea is “ to the kingdom), and strengthen a mutual distrust, “ and by that a mutual disaffection, between them, to “ hazard the danger even of the destruction of both.”
He then alludes to the personal concern their Lordships have in preserving their common liberties, founded and asserted by their noble ancestors, and resisting the establishment of an arbitrary government, that would have made even their Lordships and their posterity “ but right honourable slaves.” “My Lords,” adds he, in conclusion, “ I will spend no more words, luctando “ cum larva, in accusing the ghost of a departed person, " whom his crimes accuse more than I can do, and his “ absence accuseth no less than his crimes. Neither will “ I excuse the length of what I have said, because I “ cannot add to an excuse without adding to the fault “ or my own imperfections, either in the matter or the “ manner of it, which I know must appear the greater “ by being compared with that learned gentleman's “great ability, who hath preceded me at this time; and “I will only desire, by the command and in behalf of “ the House of Cominons, that these proceedings against “ the Lord Finch may be put in so speedy a way of “ dispatch as in such cases the course of Parliament will " allow.”!
The following day (Jan. 14th, 1640) the thanks of the House of Commons were “ordered to Mr. St. John “ and Mr. Whitelock, the Lord Falkland and Mr. “ Hyde, for the great services they have performed to “ the honour of this House and the good of the Com“ monwealth in their conduct of this business.”2 Lord Clarendon describes Lord Falkland as “ so rigid an “ observer of established laws and rules, that he could
Rushworth, vol. iv. pp. 139-41.
• Ibid., p. 141.