Page images

insensibly be so devoted to the king, as the only conservator and protector of all that is dear and precious to them, and will be so zealous to please him, whose greatest pleasure is to see them pleased,

that when they make choice of persons again to serve in parliament, they will not choose such as they wish should oppose the king, but therefore choose, because they have, and be. cause they are like to serve the king with their whole hearts ; and since he desires what is best for his people, to gratify him in all his desires. This blessed harmony would raise us to the highest pinnacle of honour and happiness in this world ; a pinnacle without a point, upon which king and people may securely rest and repose themselves against all the gusts, and storms, and temptations, which all the malice of this world can raise against us; and I am sure you will all contend to be at the top of the pinnacle.

I have no more to add but the words of custom ; that the king declares this present parliament to be dissolved; and this parliament is dissolved accordingly.


Second Duke of Buckinghum.)

Børn 1627, died 1688. He is famous for having written the satiri

cal play of the Rehearsal. His speech at a grave conference between the lords and commons, to decide the limits of the judicial authority of the former, is very like what one might expect from him. He seems chiefly anxious to avoid the imputation of knowing or caring more about the matter than became a gentleman. and a wit ; at the same time he talks very well about it.

Duke of Buckingham's Speech on the Right of the

Lords to try certain Causes.

Gentlemen of the House of Commons, I AM commanded by the house of peers to open to you

the matter of this conference, which is a task I could wish their lordships had been pleased to lay upon any body else, both for their own sakes and mine; hay. ing observed in that little experience I have made in the world, there can be nothing of greater difficulty, than to unite men in their opinions, whose interests seem to disagree

This, gentlemen, I fear, is at present our case ; but yet I hope, when we have a little better considered of it, we shall find that a greater interest does oblige us, at this time, rather to join in the preservation of both our privileges, than to differ about the violation of either.

We acknowledge it is our interest to defend the right of the commons ; for should we suffer them to be

oppressed, it would not be long before it might come to be our own case; and I humbly conceive it will also appear to be the interest of the commons to uphold the privilege of the lords, that so we may be in a condition to stand by and support them.

All that their lordships desire of you upon this occasion, is, that you will proceed with them as usually friends do, when they are in dispute one with another ; that you will not be impatient of hearing arguments urged against your opinions, but examine the weight of what is said, and then impartially consider which of us two are the likeliest to be in the wrong.

If you are in the wrong, we and our predecessors have been so for these many hundred years ; and not only our predecessors, but yours too. This being the first time that ever an appeal was made, in point of judicature, from the lords' house to the house of comVOL. I.



mons: nay, those very commons which turned the lords out of this house, though they took from them many other of their privileges, yet left the constant prac. tice of this till the very last day of their sitting; and this will be made appear by several precedents these noble lords will lay before you, much better than I can pretend to do.

Since this business has been in agitation, their lordships have been a little more curious than ordinary, to inform themselves of the true nature of these matters now in question before us, which I shall endeavour to explain to you as far as my small ability, and my aversion to hard words, will give me leave. For, howsoever the law, to make it a mystery and a trade, may be wrapt up in terms of art, yet it is founded in reason, and is obvious to common sense.

The power of judicature does naturally descend, and not ascend ; that is, no inferior court can have any power which is not derived to it from some power above it.

The king is by the laws of this land, supreme judge in all cases ecclesiastical and civil; and so there is no court, high or low, can act but in subordination to him; and though they do not all issue out their writs in the king's name, yet they can issue out none but by virtue of some power they have received from him.

Now, every particular court has such particular power as the king has given it, and for that reason has its bounds : but the highest court in which the king can possibly sit, that is, his supreme court of lords in parparliament, has in it all his judicial power, and conse. quently no bounds; I mean, no bounds of jurisdiction : for the highest court is to govern according to the laws, as well as the lowest.

I suppose none will make a question, but that every man, and every cause, is to be tried according to magna charta ; that is, by his peers, or according to the laws of the land ; and he that is tried by the ecclesiastical courts,

the court of admiralty, or the high court of lords in parliament, is tried as much by the laws of the land as he that is tried by the king's bench or common pleas. · When these inferior courts happen to wrangle among themselves, which they must often do by reason of their being bound up to particular causes, and their having all equally and earnestly a desire to try all causes themselves, then the supreme court is forced to hear their complaints, because there is no other way of deciding them; and this, under favour, is an original cause of courts, though not of men.

Now these original causes of courts must also of necessity induce men, for saving of charges, and dispatch sake, to bring their causes originally before the supreme court; but then the court is not obliged to receive them, but proceeds by rules of prudence, in either retaining or dismissing them, as they think fit.

This is the sum of all that your precedents can shew us, which is nothing but what we practice every day; that is, very often, because we would not be molested with hearing two many particular causes,

we refer them back to other courts : and all the argument you can possibly draw from this, will not in any kind lessen our power, but only show an unwillingness we have to trou. ble ourselves often with matters of this nature.

Nor will this appear strange, if you consider the conai stitution of our house ; it being made up partly of such whose employments will not give them leisure to attend the hearing of private causes, and entirely of those that can receive no profit by it.

And the truth is, the dispute at present is not between the house of lords and house of commons, but between us and Westminster Hall: for as we desire to have few or no causes - brought before us, because we get nothing by them, so they desire to have all causes brought before them, for a reason a little of the contrary nature.

For this very reason, it is their business to invent new ways of drawing causes to their courts, which

ought not to be pleaded there ; as, for example, this very cause of Skinner that is now before us (and I do not speak this by rote, for I have the opinion of a reverend judge in the case, who informed us of it the other day in the house,) they have no way of bringing this cause into Westminster Hall, but by this form," the reason and sense of which I leave you to judge of.

The form is this; that instead of speaking as we ordinary men do that have no art, that Mr. Skinner lost a ship in the East Indies, to bring this into their courts they must say, that Mr. Skinner lost a ship in the East Indies, in the parish of Islington, in the county of Middlesex.

Now some of us lords that did not understand the refinedness of this style, began to examine what the reasons of this should be ; and so we found, that since they ought not, by right, to try such causes, they are resolved to make bold, not only with our privileges, but the very sense and language of the whole nation.

This I thought fit to mention, only to let you see that the whole cause, as well as many others could not be tried properly in any place but at our bar, except Mr. Skinner would have taken a fancy to try the right of jurisdictions between Westminster Hall and the court of admiralty, instead of seeking relief for the injuries he had received, in the place only where it was to be given him.

One thing I hear is much insisted upon, which is the trial without juries: to which I could answer, that such trials are allowed of in the chancery and other courts, and that when there is occasion for them we make use of juries too, both by directing them in the king's bench, and having them brought up to our bar.

But I shall only crave leave to put you in mind, that if

you do not allow us, in some cases, to try without juries, you will then absolutely take away the use of impeachments; which I humbly conceive you will not ihink proper to have done at this time.

« PreviousContinue »