Page images

tiem) give this discovery of his Indignation against his own Fudges, for Actions contrary to those Fundamental Laws, that he commanded the execution of forty of them; which may be a seasonable Caveat to Judges of our Times.

Secondly, Hubert de Burgo, once Chief Justice of England, (having advised Edw. 1. in the 11th Year of his Reign, in his Council holden at Oxford, to cancel this Great Charter, and that of the Forest) was justly sentenced according to Law, by his peers, in open Parliament. When the Statute callid CONFÍK MAT 10NES CHARTARVM was made ; in the first Chapter whereof, Magna Charta is peculiarly callid the Common Law, 25 Edw. 1. Chap. 2.

Thirdly, The Spencers (both Father and Son ) for their arbitrary Domination, and rash and evil Counsel to Edward the Second (by which he was seduced to break the Great Charter) were banish'd for their pains, as Cook relates.

Fourthly, The fame Fate attended Trefilian and Belknap for their illegal Proceedings.

Fifthly, The Breach of this Great Charter was the ground of that exemplary Justice, done upon Empson and Dudley, whose Case is very memorable in this point: For tho they gratified Henry the Seventh in what they did, and had an All of Parliament for their Warrant, made the 11th of his Reign ; yet met they with their due Reward from the hands of Justice, that Axt being against Equity and Common Reason, and fo no justifiable Ground or Apology for those frequent Abuses and Oppressions of the People they were found guilty of. Hear what the Lord Cook further faith concerning the Matter : “ There was an Alt of Parliament made in the 11th Year of “ King Henry the Seventh, which had a fair flattering Preamble,

pretending to avoid divers mischiefs, which were (ift) The « high Displeasure of Almighty God. (20) The great Let of the common Law. And (3d) The great Let of the Wealth of this Land. " And the Parvien of that At, tended in the Execution con" trary, EX DIAMETRO, viz. To the high Displeasure of Almighty God, and the great Let, nay the utter Subversion of the Com

mon Law, and the great Let of the Wealth of this Land, as here« after shall appear : The substance of which A&, follows in these words:

That from thenceforth, as well Justices of Alize, as Justices of the Peace, in every County, upon Information for the King before them made, without any Finding or Presentment by Twelve Men, Mall have full Power and Authority, by their discretion, to hear and determine all Offences, as Riots, unlawful Asemblies, &c. committed and done against any Att or Statute made, and not repeald, &c. (a Case that very much resembles this of our own Times.)


Z 4

“By pretext of this Law, Empson and Dudley did commit “ upon the Subjects unsufferable Presľure and Oppressions ; " and therefore this Statute was jujily, soon after the decease of “ Hen. 7. repealed, at the next Parliament after his decease, by a the Statute of i Hen. 8. Chap. 6.

“ A good Caveat to Parliaments, to leave all Causes to be measu'd -" by the Golden and Streight Metwand of the Ldx, and not to the “ uncertain and crooked Cord of Discretion.

“ It is almost incredible to foresee, when any Maxim or Fundamental Law of this Realm is alter'd ( as elsewhere hath been “ observd) whát dangerous inconveniences do follow; which moft “ expresly appeareth by this moft unjust and strange Act of “ the 11th of Hen. 7. For hereby, not only Empson and Dudley “ themselves, but such Justices of Peace (corrupt Men ) 25 « th-y caused to be authoriz’d, committed most grievous and “ heavy Oppressions and Exations; grinding the Faces of the “ poor Subjects by Penal Laws (be they never fo obsolete, or « unfit for the time ) by Information only, without any Pre“ sentment or Tryal by Jury, being the antient Birth:right e of the Subject; but to hcar and determine the same, by their « discretions; inflicting such Penalty, as the Statute not re“ pealed, impos’d. These and other like Oppressions and Es. " actions by, or by the means of Emplon and Dudley, and their “ Instruments, brought infinite Treasure to the King's Coi« fers; whereof the King hunself, at the end, with great “ grief and compunction, repented, as in another place we « have observ'd..

“ This Statute of the inth of Hen. 7. we have recited, and “ Thewed the just inconveniences thereof; to the end, that the 6 like should 'never hereafter be attempted in any Court of “ Parliament; and that others might avoid the fearful End of « those two Tine-servers, Emplon and Dudley, Qui eorum nequitis insistunt, corum exitus perhorrefcant.

“ See ile Statute of 8 Edw. 4. Chap. 2. A Statute of Live“ ries, an Information, doc. By the discretion of the Judges, “ to stand as an Original, cc. This Act is defervedly repeald, « vide 12 R. 2. Chap. 13. Punishment by Discretion, t. vide 5th of Hen. 4. Chap. 6, 8. See the Commission of “ Sewers : Discretion ought to be thus describ'd ; Discretio eft

discernere per Legem, quid fit jujlum. From whence three Things $6 feem mult remarkable.

First, The great Equity and Justice of the Great Charter, with the high value our Ancestors have most deservedly set

Secondly, The dreadful Maledictions, or Curse, they have donounc d upon the Breakers of it; with those exemplary


upon it.

Punishments they have not spared to inflict upon such notorious Offenders.

Thirdly, So hainous a thing was it efteemid of old, to endeavour an Enervation or Subversion of these antient Rights

and Privileges, that Acts of Parliaments themselves (other• wise the moit sacred with the People ) have not been of force

enough to secure or defend such persons from condign Punishment, who, in pursuance of them, have acted inconvitent with

our Great Charter. Therefore it is that great Lawyer, the · Lord Cook, doth once more aggravate the Example of Empson

and Dudley (with persons of the same Rank) into a juft Caution, as well to Parliaments as Judges, Justices and inferior Magistrates, to decline making or executing any Act that may in the leaft seem to reftringe or confirm this so often avowed and confirmed Great Charter of the Liberties of England, since

Parliaments are said to err when they cross it; the Obeyers of [ their Aēts punish'd as Time-serving Transgreffors; and that

Kings themselves (tho enrich'd by those courses) have, with great Compunction and Repentance, left among their dying Words their Recantations.

Therefore must notable and true it was, with which we shall conclude this present Subject, what the King pleased to observe in a Speech to the Parliament, about 1662. (viz.) The good old Rules of Law are our best Security.

The manner of the Court's Behaviour towards the Prisoners and Jury, with their many extravagant Exprelons, must not altogether flip our Observation.

First, Their Carriage to the Fury out-do's all Precedents; they entertain'd them niore like a Pack of Felons, than a Fury of honest Men; as being fitter to be try'd themselves, than to acquit others. In short; no fury, for many Ages, receiv'd lo many Instances of Displeasure and Affront; because they preferid not the bumour of the Court, before the quiet of their own Consciences, even to be esteem'd as perjur'd; tho they bad really been so, had they not done what they did.

Secondly, Their Treatinent of the Prisoners was not more unchristian than inhumane. History can scarce tell us of one Heathen Roman that ever was so ignoble to his Captive: What! to accuse, and not bear them; to threaten to Bore their Tongues, Gag and Stop their Mouths, Fetter their Legs, merely for defending themselves, and that by the antient Fundamental Laws of England too. O Barbarous ! had they been Turks and Infidels, that Carriage would have ill become a Christian Court; such Allions proving much stronger Diffuasives, than Arguments to convince them, how much the Christian Religion inclines Men to Justice and Moderation above their dark Idolatry. It is truly lamentable that such occasion should


[ocr errors]

he given for Intelligence to Foreign Parts, where England hath had the Reputation of a Christian Country, by the ill treating of its sober and religious Inb.ubitants for their conscientious Meetings to worship God. But above all, Disenters had little reason to have expected this boarish fierceness from the Mayor of London, when they consider his eager prosecution of the King's Party under Cromwell's Government, as thinking he could never give to great a Teftiinony of his Loyalty to that new Instrument; which makes the old Saying true, That one Runagade is worse the three Turks.

Alderman Bludworth, being conscious to himself of his partial kindness to the Popish Firers, hopes to make amends by his żealous Prosecution of the poor Disenters; for at the same Sessions he moved to have an Evidence of no small quality) against Harrison the Friar, sunt to Bridewell and Whipt; That he was earnest to have the Jury fined a'nd imprisoned, because they brought not the Prisoners guilty for only worshipping their God. Whence it may be easy to observe, That Popis Friars, and Prelatical Perfecutors, are mere Confederates.

But what others have only adventured to ftammer at, the Recorder of London has been so ingenuous as to speak moft plainly; or else what mean those two fatal Expresons, which are become the talk and terror both of city and Country?

First, In affuring the Jury, That there would be a Law rezt Seffim of Parliament, That no man should have the prote&tion of the Lax, but such as conformed to the Church? Which, should it be as true, as we hope it is false (and a dishonourable Prophecy of that great Assembly) the Pipists may live to see their Marian days outdone by profess’d Protestants.

But surely no English-min can be so sottish, as to conceire that his Right to Liberty and Property came in with his Profeffion of the Protestant Religion ; or that his natural and humane Rights are dependant on certain religious Apprehensions ; and confequently he must efteem it a Cruelty in the Abstract, that Perfons should be deny'd the benefit of those Laws which relate to civil Concerns, who by their deportment in civil Affairs have no ways tranfgrefs d them, but inerely upon an Opinion of Faith, and Matter of Conscience.

It is well known, that Liberty and Property, Trade and Corrmerce, were in the World long before the points in difference betwixt Protestants and Diffenters, as the common Privileges op Mankind; and therefore not to be measured out by a con. forming to this, or the other religious Persuasion, but purely as Englismen,



Secondly, But we should rather chule to efteem this an Expression of Heat in the Recorder, than that we could believe a London's Recorder should say, an English Parliament should impose so much Slavery on the prelent Age, and entail it upon their own Pofterity (who, for ought they know, may be reckond among the Diffenters of the next Age) did he not encourage us to believe, it was both his Defire and his Judgment, from that deliberate Elegy be made on the Spanish Inquisition, expressing himself much to this purpose : Viz. « Till now I never understood the Reason of the Policy and « Prudence of the Spaniards, in suffering the Inquisition amongst « them: And certainly it will never be well with us, till 6 something like unto the Spanis Inquisition be in Englanda The gross Malignity of which Saying, is almost inexpressable. What does this but justify that hellith Design of the Papists, to have prevented the firft Reformation ? If this be good Doctrine, then Hoggestrænt, the grand Inquisitor, was a more venerable Person than Luther the Reformer. It was an expreffion that had better become Cajetan, the Pope's Legate, than Howel, a Protestant City's Recorder. This is so far from helping to convert the Spaniard, that it is the way to harden him in his Idolatry, when his abominable Cruelty shall be esteemid Prudence, and his most barbarous and exquisite torturing of Truth, an excellent way to prevent Faction.

If the Recorder has spoke for no more than himself, it is well; but certainly he little deserves to be thought a Proteftant, and á Lawyer, "that put both Reformation and Law into the Inquisition: There being nothing more deftru&tive of the Fundamental Laws and Liberties of England, and that noble Design of Primitive Reformation, than the Arbitrary Power and Terrifying Racks of the Spanish Inquisition. And doubtless the fúpreme Governors of the Land are highly oblig'd in Honour and Conscience (in discharge of their Truft to God and the People) to take these things into their serious Consideration, as what is expected from them by those who earnestly wil Theirs and the Kingdom's Safety and Prosperity.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

A Poft.

« PreviousContinue »