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for the good and preservation of the whole. But these two, under favour, are not to be confounded in judgment. We must not piece up want of legality with matter of convenience; nor the defailance of prudential fitness, with a pretence of legal justice.
To condemn my lord of Strafford judicially, as for treason, my conscience is not assured that the matter will bear it; and to do it by the legislative power, my rea son, consultively, cannot agree to that; since I am persuaded neither the lords not the king will pass this bill; and consequently, that our passing it will be a cause of great divisions and combustions in the state.
Therefore, my humble advice is, that laying aside this bill of attainder, we may think of another, saving only life; such as may secure the state from my lord of Strafford, without endangering it as much by division, concerning his punishment, as he hath endangered it by his practices.
If this may not be hearkened unto, let me conclude in saying that to you all, which I have thoroughly inculcated in mine own conscience upon this occasion : let every man lay his hand upon his own heart, and seriously consider what we are a going to do with a breath : either justice or murder; justice on the one side; or murder, heightenend and aggravated to its supremest extent, on the other. For, as the casuists say, He who lies with his sister, commits incest; but he that marries his sister, sins higher, by applying God's ordinance to his crime. So, doubtless, he that commits murder with the sword of justice, heightens that crime to the utmost.
The danger being so great, and the case so doubtful, that I see the best lawyers in diametrical opposition concerning it; let every man wipe his heart, as he does his eyes, when he would judge of a nice and subtle object. The eye, if it be pretincted with any colour, is vitiated in its discerning. Let us take heed of a blood-shotten eye in judgment.
Let every man purge his heart clear of all passions; I
know this great and wise body politic can have none; but I speak to individuals from the weakness of which I find in myself. Away with personal animosities, away with all flatteries to the people, in being the sharper against him, because he is odious to them. Away with all fears, lest by sparing his blood they may be incensed. Away with all such considerations, as that it is not fit for a parliament, that one accused by it of treason should escape with life. Let not former vehemence of any against him, nor fear from thence that he cannot be safe while that man lives, be an ingredient in the sentence of any one of us.
Of all these corruptives of judgment, Mr. Speaker, I do, before God, discharge myself to the utmost of my power, and do, with a clear conscience, wash my hands of this man's blood, by this solemn protestation,—that my vote goes not to the taking of the earl of Strafford's life.
(Earl of Strafford,)
Was a gentleman of an ancient family in Yorkshire, and created a peer by Charles I. He at first opposed the court with great virulence and ability; but afterwards became connected with it, and recommended some of the most obnoxious measures. After a bill of attainder was passed against him, at the instigation of the commons, the king refused for a long time to give his assent to it, till at last lord Strafford himself wrote to advise him to comply, which he did with great reluctance. He was beheaded 1641. Whatever were his faults, he was a man of a fine understanding, and an heroic spirit ; and undoubtedly a great man. What follows is the conclusion of his last defence before the house of lords.
Ir is hard to be questioned upon a law which cannot be Where hath this fire lain hid so many hundred
years, without smoke to discover it, till it thus burst forth to consume me and my children?
That punishment should precede promulgation of a law, to be punished by a law subsequent to the fact, is extreme hard. What man can be safe, if this be admitted?
My lords, it is hard in another respect, that there should be no token set by which we should know this of fence; no admonition by which we should avoid it. If a man pass the Thames in a boat, and split himself upon an anchor, and no buoy be floating to discover it, he who owneth the anchor shall make satisfaction; but if a buoy be set, there, every man passeth upon his own peril. Now, where is the mark, where is the token upon this crime, to declare it to be high treason?
My lords, be pleased to give that regard to the peerage of England, as never to expose yourselves to such moot points, such constructive interpretations of law; if there must be a trial of wits, let the subject matter be of somewhat else than the lives and honours of peers.
It will be wisdom for yourselves, for your posterity, and for the whole kingdom, to cast into the fire these bloody and mysterious volumes of constructive and arbitrary treason, as the primitive christians did their books of curious arts, and betake yourselves to the plain letter of the law and statute, that telleth us what is, and what is not treason, without being ambitious to be more learn. ed in the art of killing than our forefathers.
It is now full two hundred and forty years since any man was touched for this alleged crime, to this height, before myself. Let us not awaken these sleeping lions to our destruction, by taking up a few musty records that have lain by the walls so many ages, forgotten or neglected.
May your lordships please not to add this to my other misfortunes; let not a precedent be derived from me so disadvantageous as this will be, in its consequence, to
the whole kingdom. Do not, through me, wound the interest of the commonwealth; and howsoever these gentlemen say, they speak for the commonwealth; yet, in this particular, I indeed speak for it, and shew the inconvenience and mischiefs that will fall upon it; for, as it is said in the statute 1 Henry IV. no one will know what to do or say, for fear of such penalties.
Do not put, my lords, such difficulties upon ministers of state, that men of wisdom, of honour, and of fortune, may not with cheerfulness and safety be employed for the public. If you weigh and measure them by grains and scruples, the public affairs of the kingdom will lie waste; no man will meddle with them who hath any thing to lose.
My lords, I have troubled you longer than I should have done, where it not for the interest of those dear pledges a saint in heaven hath left me.
[At this word he stopped awhile, letting fall some tears, to her memory; then he went on]
What I forfeit myself is nothing; but that my indis cretion should extend to my posterity, woundeth me to the very soul !
You will pardon my infirmity. Something I should have added, but am not able; therefore let it pass.
Now, my lords, for myself, I have been, by the blessing of Almighty God, taught, that the afflictions of this present life are not to be compared to the eternal weight of glory which shall be revealed hereafter.
And so, my lords, even so, with all tranquillity of mind, I freely submit myself to your judgment, and whether that judgment be of life or death, te Deum laudamus,
DR. JOSEPH HALL,
(Bishop of Exeter and afterwards of Norwich,)
Was born 1574, and died 1656. He suffered a good deal from the Puritans He is celebrated, without much reason, for the fineness of his writings.
Bishop Hall's Specch.
THIS is the strangest bill that ever I heard since I was admitted to sit under this roof; for it strikes at the very fabric and composition of this house, at the style of our laws; and therefore, were it not for that it comes from such recommendation, it would not, I suppose, undergo any long consideration; but coming to us from such hands, it can't but be worthy of your best thoughts and truly, for the main scope of the bill, I shall yield to it most willingly, that ecclesiastical and sacred persons should not ordinarily be taken up with secular affairs.
The minister is called vir Dei, a man of God. He may not be vir Sæculi; he may lend himself to them upon occasion, but not give himself over purposely to them in short, he may not so attend worldly things as that he do not neglect divine things. This we gladly yield. Matters of justice therefore are not proper, as in an ordinary trade, for our function, and, by my consent, shall be in general waved and deserted; which for my part I never had meddled with, but in a charitable way, with no profit, but some charge to myself, whereof I shall be glad to be eased:
Tractent fabrilia fabri.