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tumult and commotion; from particular persons to dissention of families and alliances ; yes, to national quarrels, according to the infinite variety of accidents, which fall not under foresight. So that the state by this means shall be like to a distempered and imperfect body, continually subject to inflammations and convulsions.
Besides, certainly both in divinity and in policy, offenses of presumption are the greatest. Other offenses yield and consent to the law that it is good, not daring to make defense, or to justify themselves; but this offense expressly gives the law an affront, as if it were two laws, one a kind of gown law and the other a law of reputation, as they term it. So that Paul's and Westminister, the pulpit and the Courts of justice, must give place to the law, as the King speaketh in his proclamation, or ordinary tables, and such reverend assemblies; the yearbooks and statute books must give place to some French and Italian pamphlets, which handle the doctrines of duels,—which, if they be in the right, transeamus ad illa, let us receive them, and not keep the people in conflict and distraction between two laws.
Again, my lords, it is a miserable effect, when young men full of towardness and hope, such as the poets call “ Aurore filii,'' sons of the morning, in whom the expectation and comfort of their friends consisteth, shall be cast away and destroyed in such a vain manner. But much more it is to be deplored when so much noble and genteel blood should be spilt upon such follies, as, if it were adventured in the field in service of the King and realm, were able to make the fortune of a day and change the future of a kingdom. So your lordships see what a desperate evil this is : it troubleth peace; it disfurnisheth war; it bringeth calamity upon private men, peril upon the State, and contempt upon the law.
SIR EDWARD COKE (1552-1633)
THE EMINENT ENGLISH JURIST
HE name of Sir Edward Coke is one of the most famous in
English legal lore, through his inestimable work, “ Coke upon
Littleton,” which is of the highest authority in English law and a rich mine of legal learning. Blackstone, another noted legal author, says of it: “He hath thrown together an infinite treasure of learning in a loose, desultory manner.” Adopting the law as his profession, Coke rapidly acquired a very extensive practice, was appointed Solicitor-General in 1592 and Attorney-General in 1594, and was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons in 1593. In 1613 he became Chief-Justice of the King's Bench, from which he was removed in 1616, because he was not sufficiently obseqious to the court or king. In 1622, he was imprisoned for months in the Tower for his opposition to the court party, and, subsequently, as a member of Parliament, he zealously opposed the arbitrary measures of the court, and was a leader of the popular party. He has been severely censured for his insolence to Raleigh when on trial before him, and for his cruelty in applying torture to persons charged with crime.
THE CHARGES IN RALEIGH'S CASE [Coke's oratory was chiefly legal, of which we give a brief example from his charge in the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh for high-treason. Raleigh was accused in 1602 of taking part in what was known as Lord Cobham's conspiracy against the king. Tried in 1603, he was convicted without satisfactory proof, his demeanor during the trial—in which Coke assailed him with great severity—being such as to change the public hostility to sympathy and admiration. In the following Coke marshals against him various intended delinqueneies with which Raleigh had nothing to do.]
My speech shall chiefly touch these three points : imitation, supportation, and defence. The imitation of evil ever exceeds the precedent; as, on the contrary, imitation of good ever comes short. Mischief cannot be supported but by mischief; yea, it will so multiply that it will bring all
to confusion. Mischief is ever underpropped by falsehood or foul practices; and because all these things did occur in this treason, you shall understand the ruin, as before ye did the bye.
The treason of the bye consisteth in these points : First, that the Lords Grey, Brooks, Markham, and the rest intended by force in the night to surprise the King's Court, which was a rebellion in the heart of the realm,-yea, in the heart of the heart, in the Court. They intended to take him that is a sovereign to make him subject to their power ; purposing to open the doors with muskets and cavaliers, and to take also the Prince and the Council; then, under the King's authority, to carry the King to the Tower, and to make a stale of the admiral.
When they had the King there to extort three things from him : First, a pardon for all their treasons; second, a toleration of the Roman superstition—which their eyes shall sooner fall out than they shall ever see; for the King has spoken these words in the hearing of many: “I will lose the crown and my life before ever I will alter religion.” And, third, to remove counselors.
In the room of the Lord Chancellor they would have placed one Watson, a priest, absurd in humanity and ignorant in divinity. Brook, of whom I will speak nothing, was to be Lord Treasurer. The Great Secretary must be Markham, oculus patria. A hole must be found in my Lord Chief-Justice's coat. Grey must be Earl-Marshal and Master of the Horse, because he would have a table in the Court; marry, he would advance the Earl of Worcester to a higher place.
All this cannot be done without a multitude ; therefore, Watson, the priest, tells a resolute man that the King was in danger of Puritans and Jesuits, so as to bring him in blindfold into the action, saying, “That the King is no king until he be crowned ; therefore, every man might right his own wrongs.” But he is rex natus, his dignity descends as well as yours, my lords.
Then Watson imposeth a blasphemous oath, that they should swear to defend the King's person ; to keep secret what was given them in charge; and seek all ways and means to advance the Catholic religion. Then they intend to send for the Lord Mayor and the alderman, in the King's name, to the Tower, lest they should make any resistance, and then to take hostages of them, and to enjoin them to provide for them victuals and munition. Grey, because the King removed before midsummer, had a further reach ; to get a company of swordsmen to assist the action ; therefore he would stay till he had obtained a regiment from Ostend or Austria. So you see these treasons were like Sampson's foxes, which were joined in their tails though their heads were severed.
SIR JOHN ELIOT (1590–1632)
A MARTYR TO ENGLISH LIBERTY
MONG the famous statesmen and orators of the Parliaments of
Charles I. Sir John Eliot occupied a high position, and was a
leader among those who protested against the arbitrary acts of the King. The impeachment of the Duke of Buckingham was due to a powerful speech made by him, and for this he was imprisoned for a time in the Tower. Again, in 1629, he offended the King by remonstrating against his acts of tyranny, and was once more sent to prison for his boldness. Here, as he refused to retract, he was confined in a dark and cheerless apartment which ruined his health.
As an orator Eliot had remarkable powers. “He had,” says Forster, “ some of the highest qualities as an orator-singular power of statement, clearness and facility in handling details, pointed classical allusions, keen and logical argument, forcible and rich declamation.”
THE PERILS OF THE KINGDOM [On the 3d of June, 1628, Eliot delivered a bold speech in the House of Commons, in support of the “Petition of Right,” in which he brought severe and daring charges against the delinquency of the Government, attacking it in a strenuous manner, which strongly recalls that of Demosthenes. We give his eloquent peroration.]
The exchequer, you know, is empty, and the reputation thereof gone; the ancient lands are sold ; the jewels pawned ; the plate engaged ; the debt still great ; almost all charges, both ordinary and extraordinary, borne up by projects! What poverty can be greater ? What necessity so great ? What perfect English heart is not almost dissolved into sorrow for this truth?
For the oppression of the subject, which, as I remember, is the next particular I proposed, it needs no demonstration. The whole kingdom is a proof; and, for the exhausting of our treasures, that very oppression
speaks it. What waste of our provisions, what consumption of our ships, what destruction of our men there hath been ? Witness that expedition to Algiers ; witness that with Mansfeldt; witness that to Cadiz ; witness the next-witness that to Rhe; witness the last (I pray God we may never have more such witnesses !)-witness, likewise, the Palatinate ; witness Denmark, witness the Turks, witness the Dunkirkers, witness all! What losses we have sustained ! How we are impaired in munitions, in ships, in men! It is beyond contradiction that we were never so weakened, nor ever had less hope how to be restored.
These, Mr. Speaker, are our dangers, these are they who do threaten us, and these are, like the Trojan horse, brought in cunningly to surprise
In these do lurk the strongest of our enemies, ready to issue on us ; and if we do not speedily expel them, these are the signs, these are the invitations to others! These will so prepare their entrance that we shall have no means left of refuge or defence; for if we have these enemies at home, how can we strive with those that are abroad? If we be free from these, no other can impeach us. Our ancient English virtue (like the old Spartan valor) cleared from these disorders-our being in sincerity of religion and once made friends with Heaven; having maturity of councils, sufficiency of generals, incorruption of officers, opulency in the King, liberty in the people, repletion in treasure, plenty of provisions, reparation of ships, preservation of men-our ancient English virtue, I say, thus rectified, will secure us; and unless there be a speedy reformation in these, I know not what hopes or expectations we can have.
These are the things, sir, I shall desire to have taken into consideration ; that as we are the great council of the kingdom, and have the apprehension of these dangers, we may truly represent them unto the King, which I conceive we are bound to do by a triple obligation of duty to God, of duty to his Majesty, and of duty to our country.
And therefore I wish it may so stand with the wisdom and judgment of the House that these things may be drawn into the body of remonstrance, and in all humility expressed, with a prayer to his Majesty that, for the safety of himself, for the safety of the kingdom, and for the safety of religion, he will be pleased to give us time to make perfect inquisition thereof, or to take them into his own wisdom, and there give them such timely reformation as the necessity and justice of the case doth import.
And thus, sir, with a large affection and loyalty to his Majesty, and with a firm duty and service to my country, I have suddenly (and it may be with some disorder) expressed the weak apprehensions I have ; wherein if I erred, I humbly crave your pardon, and so submit myself to the censure of the House.