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such as weredisagreeable, most arbitrary and
to declare what they had to say in their own way and method; but would interrupt them, because they behaved themselves with more gravity than he: and, in truth, the people were strangely perplexed, when they were to give in their evidence; but I do not insist upon this, nor upon the late hours he kept up and down our city. It's said, he was every night drinking till two o'clock, or beyond that time: and that he went to his chamber drunk : but this I have only from common fame; for I was not in his company. I bless God, I am not a man of his principles or behaviour. But in the mornings he appeared with the symptoms of a man that, over night, had taken a large cup. But that which I have to say is the complaint of every man, especially of them who had any law-suits. Our chief justice has a very arbitrary power in appointing the assize when he pleases : and this man has strained it to the highest point. For whereas we were accustomed to have two assizes; the first about April or May, the latter about September; it was this year, the middle (as I remember) of August before we had any assize: and then he dispatched business so well, that he left half the causes untryed; and, to help the matter, has resolved, that we shall have no more assizes this year.' It may be supposed, that Jefferies did not forget this speech, when he sat in judgment as lord steward on Delamere, and behaved towards him in his wonted brutal manner. Burnet assures us,
“ all people were apprehensive of very black designs when they saw Jefferies made lord chief justice; who was scandalously vitious, and was drunk every day : besides a drunken
a Delamere's Works, p. 143.
excessive fines, for comparatively very small
ness of fury in his temper, that looked like enthusiasm. He did not consider the decencies of his post: nor did he so much as affect to appear impartial, as became a judge; but run out, upon all occasions, into declamations that did not become the bar, much less the bench. He was not learned in his profession: and his eloquence, though vitiously copious, yet was neither correct nor agreeable a.”—North's picture of the man the reader, perhaps, will not think more amiable. “ His friendship and conversation,” says he, “lay much among the good fellows and humourists: and his delights were, accordingly, drinking, laughing, singing, kissing, and all the extravagances of the bottle. He had a sett of banterers, for the most part, near him: as, in old time, great men kept fools to make them merry. And these fellows, abusing one another and their betters, were a regale to him. And no friendship or dearness could be so great in private, which he would not use ill and to an extravagant degree in public. No one, that had any expectations from him, was safe from his public contempt and derision : which some of his minions, at the bar, bitterly felt. Those above, or that could hurt or benefit him, and none else, might depend on fair quarter at his hands. When he was.in temper, and matters indifferent came before him, he became his seat of justice better than any other I ever saw in his place. He took a pleasure in mortifying fraudulent attornies, and would deal forth his severities with a sort of majesty. He had extraordinary natural abilities; but little acquired, beyond what practice in affairs had supplied. He talked fluently,
• Burnet, vol. I. p. 567.
and trifling offences 3.-And, to fill up the
and with spirit; and his weakness was, that he could not reprehend without scolding; and in such Billingsgate language as should not come out of the mouth of any man. He called it giving a lick with the rough side of his tongue. It was ordinary to hear him say, Go: you are a filthy, lousy, knitty rascal : with much more of like elegance. Scarce a day passed that he did not chide some one or other of the bar, when he sat in chancery: and it was, commonly, a lecture of a quarter of an hour long. And they used to say, This is yours; my turn will be to-morrow. He seemed to lay nothing of his business to heart, nor care what he did or left undone; and spent, in the chancery court, what time he thought fit to spare. Many times, on days of causes, at his house, the company have waited five hours in a morning, and, after eleven, he hath come out inflamed and staring like one distracted. And that visage he put on when he animadverted upon such as he took offence at, which made him a terror to real offenders; whom he also terrified with his face and voice, as if the thunder of the day of judgment broke over their heads: and nothing ever made men tremble like his vocal inflictions. He loved to insult; and was bold without check: but that only when his place was uppermosta." A fine justiciary this! worthy, indeed, of the masters he served ; and abundantly qualified to execute all their designs From such judges, what had not the public, the honest part of the public, to expect?.
sa Excessive fines were inflicted for comparatively small offences. After the sheriffs and charter of Lon
Life of Guildford, p. 219.
measure of the iniquities of this reign, some
don came under the power of the crown, it was determined to make those smart who had opposed its measures. As the judges were sure cards, nothing but proper juries were requisite: and these were soon found out by the sheriffs, whose office it was to return them. “These juries,” according to Burnet, “ became the shame of the nation, as well as a reproach to religion: for they were packt; and prepared to bring in verdicts as they were directed, and not as matters appeared on the evidence a." However this was, certain it is, the judges availed themselves of their verdicts; and, in consequence of them, inflicted most heavy penalties on such as were prosecuted at the suit of the crown.--Pilkington, late sheriff of the city, on very doubtful evidence, was convicted of reflecting on the duke of York as one concerned in the burning of London, and fined 100,0001. Mr. Hampden, for a high misdemeanour, was fined 40,0001. and committed till paid.
Mr. Braddon, and Mr. Speke, for saying lord Essex was murdered when the king was in the Tower, had one 2,0001. and the other 1,0001. imposed on them; were to find sureties for good behaviour during life; and to be committed till they performed it". In 1684, the duke of York having brought an action against Titus Oates, grounded upon the statute de scandulis magnatum, for calling him traitor, the defendant suffered judgment to go against him by default: whereupon a writ of inquiry was taken out, directed to the sheriff of the county of Middlesex, to enquire by a jury what damages the plaintiff had sus
See his Trial,
* Burnet, vol. I. p. 536. printed London, 1684. fol.
o Id. ibid.
Trial, Lond. 1684.
of the best men, and best patriots”, that
tained hereby; and, upon a motion made in the court of King's Bench, a day was given to the defendant to shew cause why that writ should not be executed. But Oates, knowing the times, and with whom he had to do, neglected it, as thinking it would be to no purpose. Whereupon the writ on the given day was executed; and the jury gave the duke 100,0001. damages, and twenty shillings costs". This effectually secured Oates for future vengeance. -Mr. Dutton Colt had been assessed in the like sum, for scandalous words, against his royal highness, some time before. -Sir Samuel Barnardiston, for writing some letters to a friend, in which honourable mention was made of lord Russell and Mr. Sidney, who had been put to death by the government, and some account given of court transactions, was, on an information by the attorneygeneral in the court of King's Bench, convicted, and condemned to pay a fine of 10,0001, to the king; find sureties for his good behaviour during life, and committed till it was paid and done b.- -Numberless other convictions there were of a like kind with these; which, as they are to be found in our general histories, I here omit: these being abundantly sufficient to shew what revenge was pursued, and what instruments were made use of, to crush those who had any way disgusted Charles, his brother, or his ministers! May England never see such times again!
33 Some of the best men, and best patriots, were condemned, and executed, out of a spirit of revenge.] Those who are conversant in English history, will easily guess, that lord Russel and Algernon Sidney are
* Oates's Trial, Lond. 1684.
Barnardiston's Trial, Lond. 1684.