Page images

with the fallacies and doubts thereof, render us in a posture unable to extricate ourselves; but we must have recourse to the shrine of the lawyer, whose oracle is in such request, because it pretends to resolve doubts.

2. The quarterly terms at Westminster; whereas, when justice was administered in every county, this interest could not possibly grow to an height, but every man could mind and attend his own cause, without such journeying to and fro, and such chargeable attendance, as at Westminster-Hall. For, first, in the country, the law was plain, and controversies decided by neighbours of the Hundred, who could be soon informed in the state of the matter, and were very ready to administer justice, as making it their own case: but, as for common lawyers, they carry ouly the idea of right and wrong in their heads, and are so far from being touched with the sense of those wrongs, against which they seem to argue, that they go on merely in a formality of words. I speak not this out of emulation, or envy, against any man's person, but singly in behalf of the people, against the corruption of the interest itself.

After the Conquest, when courts and terms were established at Westminster (for how could the darling of prerogative thrive, unless always under the King's eye?) Men were not at leisure to take so much pains for their own, but sometimes they themselves, sometimes their friends, in their behalf, came up in Term-time to London, to plead their causes, and to procure justice. As yet, the interest of lawyers was a puny thing, for one friend would undertake to plead his cause for another; and he which was more versed in the tricks of the law, than his neighbour, would undertake a journey to London, at the request of those who had business to do, perhaps his charges borne on the way, and some small reward for his pains; there were then no stately mansions for lawyers, but such agents (whether parents, friends, or neighbours to the parties) lodged like other travellers, in inns, as country attornies still do. Hence it came to pass, that, when the interest of lawyers came to be advanced in Edward the Third's time, their mansions or colleges were still called Inns, but, with an addition of honour, Inns of Court.

The proceed of lawyers interest is as followeth: when such agents, as we have spoken of, who were employed by their neighbours at London, and by this means coming to be versed in the niceties of the law, found it sweeter than the plough, and controversies beginning to increase, they took up their quarters here, till such time as they were formed into an orderly body, and distinct interest, as now they are.

There is ground enough to conclude, even from the letter of the statute law, that men's parents, friends, or neighbours did plead for them, without the help of any other lawyer”.

After the lawyers were formed into a society, and had hired the Temple of the Knights Templers, for the place of their abode, their interest was not presently advanced, but by the contentions of the people, after

* anno 28. Edward. Primi 1300, cap- 11. But it may not be understood hereby, that any persons shall be prohibited to have counsel of pleaders, or of learned men in the law, for his fee, or of his parents and next friends.

a long series of time; so that the interest of lawyers (in the height which now it is) comes from the same root, as pride and idleness, i. e. from fulness of bread, or prosperity, the mother of strife. Not but that just and equal administrators of laws are very necessary in a commonwealth; but when once that, which was at first but a title, comes to be framed into an interest, then it sets up itself, and grows great upor the ruins of others, and through the corruption of the people.

I take this to be a main difference between lawful and corrupt interests. Just interests are the servants of all, and are of an humble spirit, as being content to have their light put out by the brightness of that glory which they are supplemental to. But corrupt interests fear a change, and use all wiles to establish themselves, that so their fall may be great, and their ruin as chargeable to the world as it can; for such interests care for none but themselves.

The readiest way to inform such men is, to do it within us, for most men have the common barretor within them, i. e. principles of contention and wrong; and thus the law becomes the engine of strife, the instrument of lust, the mother of debates, and lawyers are as make-bates, between a man and his neighbour.

When Sir Walter Raleigh was upon his tryal, the lawyers, that were of council for the King, were very violent against him; whereupon Sir Walter, turning to the jury, used these words: Gentlemen, I pray you consider, that these men, meaning the lawyers, do usually defend very bad causes every day in the courts, against men of their own profession, as able as themselves, what then will they not do against me,' &c.? Which speech of his may be too truly affirmed of many lawyers, who are any thing or nothing for gain, and, measuring causes by their own interest, care not how long right be deferred, and suits prolonged. There was a suit in Gloucestershire, between two families, which lasted since the reign of Edward the Fourth, till of late composed, which certainly must be ascribed either to the ambiguity of the law, or the subtlety of the lawyers, neither of which are any great honour to the English nation.

How much better were it to spend the acuteness of the mind in the real and substantial ways of good, and benefit to ourselves and others? And not to unbowel ourselves into a mere web, a frothy and contentious way of law, which the oppressed man stands in no more need of, than the tender-hearted Christian of Thomas Aquinas to resolve him in his doubts.

If there be such a thing as right in the world, let us have it sine fuco. Why is it delayed, or denied, or varnished over with guilty words? Why comes it not forth in its own dress? Why doth it not put off law, and put on reason, the mother of all just laws? Why is it not ashamed of its long and mercenary train? Why can we not ask it, and receive it ourselves, but must have it handed to us by others? In a word, why may not a man plead his own case? Or his friends and acquaintance, as formerly, plead for him?

Memorable is that passage in King James's speech in the Star-Cham

+ Camden Brit. in Gloucest

ber, "In countries, says he, where the formality of law hath no place, as in Denmark, all their state is governed only by a written law, there is no advocate or proctor admitted to plead, only the parties themselves plead their own cause, and then a man stands up, and pleads the law, and there is an end; for the very law-book itself is their only judge: happy were all kingdoms, if they could be so; but here curious wits, various conceits, different actions, and variety of examples breed questions in law." Thus far he. And if this kingdom deth resemble Denmark, in so many other customs, why may it not be assimilated to it in this also? especially considering, that the world travels with freedom, and some real compensation is desired by the people, for all their sufferings, losses, and blood.

To clear the channel of the law, is an honourable work for a senate, who should be preservers of the people's rights.

[ocr errors]


Of the Proceedings of a


Assembled in the Plain of Ageda in Hungary, about thirty leagues distant from Buda, to examine the Scriptures concerning Christ, on the twelfth of October, 1650. By Samuel Brest, there present.

Also, a relation of some other observations in his travels beyond the seas; and particularly in Egypt, Macedonia, Dalmatia, Calabria, Apuleia, Sicily, Assyria, Sclavonia, France, Spain, and Portugal; the Islands of Cyprus, Candia, Patmos, and Delphos; the cities of Carthage, Corinth, Troy, Constantinople, Venice, Naples, Leghorn, Florence, Milan, Rome, Bottonia, Mantua, Genoa, Paris, &c.

[From a Quarto edition, printed at London, for Richard Moon, at the Seven Stars in St. Paul's Church-Yard, near the great North-Door, 1655.]

The contents of this pamphlet are very extraordinary; some of them of the last importance to the Christian commonweal, and all of them matter of great curiosity, and scarce to be met with in any other English historian. As for the author, take his own account of himself as follows:



There was nothing I more desired, than to travel beyond the scas, and to know the various manners of the nations of the world; for which, through God's providence, I had an opportunity offered me, to my great satisfaction, being chirurgeon of an English ship in the Streights, where, for a cure that I did for Orlando de Spina, of Gallipoli, an eminent man in those parts, I was by him preferred to be captain of a ship of Malta, which was set out by the said Orlando, and committed to my command against the Turks in the Arches, in assistance to the Venetians; in the which service I spent about nine months, till the tempestuous season of the year forced me to return into harbour again. And, in this time of employment, I made five fights at sea, and two at land; being chosen, by lot, to invade the Turk's country, with a certain company of soldiers collected out of our fleet, to do some execution upon the borders of the enemy, and to get some provision for our relief; in all which fights, tho' very perilous, God gave me the victory. The whole time I spent beyond the seas, before and after this employment, was almost four years, not staying long in any one place. But first I travelled to all the sea-towns of note for merchandising, to know the trade of the places, and the conveniency of their harbours, that I might be able to do some profitable service in merchant affairs. Also I travelled into several countries, and the most eminent cities and towns therein, viz. Egypt, Macedonia, Dalmatia, Calabria, Apuleia, Sicily, Assyria, Sclavonia, and some parts of Spain and Portugal; to the Islands of Cyprus, Candia, Patmos, and Delphos; to Carthage, Corinth, Troy, and Constantinople; besides niany other towns and places; but my longest abode was in Italy, and therein at Venice, Naples, Leghorn, Florence, Milan, Rome, Bottonia, Mantua, Genoa, &c. And at last, looking homeward, I came into France, taking a brief view of many eminent places in that kingdom. And at Paris I found many of my countrymen, of which, though some be persons of great quality, yet, God knoweth, they are in a low condition. And, now, I shall give a brief account of some of iny observations, during the time of my abode beyond the seas.


T Paris, our countrymen live peaceably, and enjoy our religion without disturbance. There is a place allowed them, with neces sary accommodations for the exercise of religion. Dr. Steward did often preach to them; and, for their form of worship, it is the same that was formerly in England, with the Book of Common-Prayer, and the rites therein used; and also they continue the innovations that were practised by many of our clergy; as, bowing at the name of Jesus towards the altar, &c. which, I know, giveth offence to the good French protestants, who, to me, did often condemn those innovations for Romish superstitions; doubtless, they would do our church and our religion more credit there, if they did use less ceremony. As for the Frnch papists, truly they are more civil to them than was expected; fothe opinion of the world, where I have been, is but mean of that

nation. And, I believe, the Italians may be their Cousin-Germans, for both of them are false and faithless enough. And this consideration (God having taken away Orlando, my noble friend, who did always much countenance me) did lessen my affection to continue in that service; for my soldiers were all Italians, except a few Greeks; and I never saw much cause to be confident in their fidelity; but it was chiefly for fear of him, that they were so tractable to me.

As for religion, in most parts where I have been, it is generally the same with the church of Rome; but for the Grecians, for amongst them I was, they are neither pure protestants nor pure papists; I mean, neither only protestants, nor only papists, but their religion is a mixture of both; for, though they hold some fundamentals with us, yet they follow many of the Romish superstitions; and, according to my observation, they follow more the religion of Rome, than the protestant church, and they are much poisoned with heresies.

But of all nations, according to my observation, none are more zealous for the religion of Rome than the Spaniards; who, I think, for this, are more Romanists than the Romans themselves; for, with them, there is an Inquisition, and in Rome I never heard of the same dangerous snare*; there I had as much freedom, as I could desire; and more courtesy than I could expect, without any temptatiou to apostatise from my religion.

As for the occurrences that I met with, they were many, but these four were the most considerable:

First, The strangling of the great Turk, by the Janizarics, at which time there was great fear and trouble in Constantinople; but they inthroned his son, and this brought about a peaceable seitlement; and with him there were cut off divers basha's heads; all whose heads, excepting the great Turk's, lay three days in chargers before the palacegate for the publick view of the people, which, they say, is the custom for the noblemen that are beheaded.

The next thing is, the flowing of the river Nile in Egypt, the manner whereof is this: it beginneth to flow about the fifteenth of June, every year; the people know the time thereof, and expect it accordingly; and this is after their harvest, which is usually ended about the beginning of May. As for rain, there seldom falleth any in Egypt. During the time the river is up, all the country appeareth like islands. Their towns are seated upon hills, and their lower grounds are all covered with waters; and the inhabitants use small boats to pass from place to place about their affairs; and, because they know the yearly flowing of the Nile, they provide for the safety of their cattle till the waters are wasted away again. There are also certain pillars of stong set up, with divers marks upon them, by which they know the degrees of the rising, and the usual heighth that the waters do ascend unto;' and, if the waters do ascend above the highest mark, they do expect some strange consequence thereof. But the greatest wonder, is the sent cessation of the plague upon the flowing of this river. There died some thousands of the plague, the day before the flowing of the Nile,


There is an Inquisition at Rome, but not so rigorous.

« PreviousContinue »