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This ornament of the English Bench,
and who has been pronounced by a legal authority
substances which the foot treads upon ? Such a man may be supposed to have been equally qualified with Mr. Paine, to
• Look through Nature up to Nature's God:' Yet the result of all his contemplations was, the most confirmed and devout belief in all, which the other holds in contempt as despicable and drivelling superstition.
“ But this error might, perhaps, arise from a want of due attention to the foundations of human judgement, and the structure of that understanding which God has given us for the investigation of truth. Let that question be answered by Mr. Locke, who to the highest pitch of devotion and adoration was a Christian : Mr. Locke, whose office was to detect the errors of thinking by going up to the very fountains of thought, and to direct into the proper track of reasoning the devious mind of man, by showing him it's whole process from the first perceptions of sense to the last conclusions of ratiocination; putting a rein upon false opinion, by practical rules for the conduct of human judgement. “ But these men,' it may be said,
were only deep thinkers, and lived in their closets unaccustomed the traffie of the world, and to the laws which practically regulate mankind.' Gentlemen, in the place where we now sit to administer the justice of this great country, the never-to-be-forgotten Sir MATTHEW HALE presided; whose faith in Christianity is an exalted commentary upon it's truth and reason, whose life was a glorious example of it's fruits, and whose justice, drawn from the pure fountain of the Christian Dispensation, will be in all ages a subject of the highest reverence and admiration.
“ But it is said by the author, that the Christian fable is
“ one of the greatest Judges that ever sat in Westminster Hall, as competent to express as he was able
but the tale of the more ancient superstitions of the world, and may be easily detected by a proper understanding of the mythologies of the heathens.' Did Milton understand those mythologies? Was he less versed, than Mr. Paine, in the superstitions of the world ? No. They were the subject of his immortal song: and though shut out from all recurrence to them, he poured them forth from the stores of a memory rich with all that man ever knew, and laid them in their order as the illustration of real and exalted faith, the unquestionable source of that fervid genius which has cast a kind of shade upon all the after-works of
• He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time-
But it was the light of the body only, that was extinguished: the celestial light shone inward,' and enabled him to
justify the ways of God to man.'
The result of his thinking was, nevertheless, not quite the same as the author's before us. The mysterious Incarnation of our Blessed Saviour (which this work blasphemes in words so wholly unfit for the mouth of a Christian, or for the ear of a Court of Justice, that I dare not and will not give them utterance) Milton made the grand conclusion of his · Paradise Lost,' the rest from his finished labours, and the ultimate hope, expectation, and glory of the world :
* A virgin is his mother, but his sire
“ The immortal poet, having thus put into the mouth of the
to conceive,”* was the only child of Robert Hale,t Esq. Barrister, who threw up his practice at the bar,
Angel the prophecy of man's redemption, follows it with that solemn and beautiful admonition addressed in the poem to our first parent, but intended as an address to his posterity through all generations :
. This having learn'd, thou hast attain'd the sum
“ Thus you find all that is great or wise or splendid or illustrious among created beings, all the minds gifted beyond ordinary nature, if not inspired by it's universal Author for the advancement and dignity of the world, though divided by distant ages and by clashing opinions, yet joining as it were in one sublime chorus to celebrate the truths of Christianity, and laying upon it's holy altars the never-fading offerings of their immortal wisdom.'
* East's Reports, V. 17.
+ The father of Robert Hale was an eminent clothier at Wotton Under Edge, where he and his ancestors had lived for many descents, and had given to the poor several parcels of land enjoyed by them to this day. His wife, the mother of Matthew Hale, was a Poyntz of Alderly, descended from the noble family of Poyntz at Acton. On his death, out of his small estate of 1001. per ann. he gave one fifth to the poor of Wotton, which his son confirmed and increased, with this regulation, that it should be distributed among such poor housekeepers as did not receive the alms of the parish :' for ' to give it to such as did, was only to
because he could not regard what is called 'giving colour in pleadings, and some other chicanes common to the profession, as reconcilable to the scrupulous veracity and justice required in a Christian;
save so much money to the rich, who were bound to provide for them.'
* In Mr. Edgeworth's admirable work, on Professional Education,' occur the following judicious remarks :
" Whether he should defend a cause which he knows to be unjust, or a client whom he believes to be guilty, is a question which every man should consider and determine for himself before he goes to the bar. He cannot take a better time to settle it, than while he is attending courts and trials, where he will continually see examples, that must show him the necessity of forming rules for his own conduct. There is a certain sort of morality by courtesy, which bodies of men establish for the mutual ease and convenience of their conscience and their interest; and there is a jocular sort of convivial wit, which is current among professional latitudinarians, and which sometimes imposes upon those who have really some conscience. By hearing certain breaches of common honesty and certain arts of deception spoken of every day without any censure, and even in a stile of jovial triumph, young men insensibly confound their notions, and deaden their sense of right and wrong. Instead of judging themselves by the universal standard of morality, they are satisfied if they do nothing that is counted dishonourable by the body corporate, into which they have entered.
“ In the heyday of youthful spirits, in the flow of convivial conversation, in the bustle and triumph of professional business and success a man might be deaf to the small still voice of conscience; but it speaks in thunder in retirement, and in the declining years of life. It is said, that a celebrated Barrister, after he had retired from the bar, was observed to grow extremely melancholy ; and one day, when a friend noticed the dejection of his countenance, and inquired what he was thinking of?' he replied, “ I am thinking how many honest families I have sacrificed to Nisi Prius victories.”.
“ To prevent the irremediable misery of such a reflexion, a man of feeling and sense, who intends to practise at the bar,
retired into the country, and lived upon the income of a small estate at Alderly in Gloucestershire, where his son Matthew was born November 1, 1609. Both parents dying while he was a child, the care of his education devolved upon his maternal uncle Poyntz, who consigned him to the care of his next kinsman, Antony Kingscot, Esq. By him he was placed under the tuition of Mr. Staunton, the puritanical vicar of Wotton Under Edge, till the year 1626, when he was sent to Magdalen Hall, Oxford. Here, he became a great proficient in learning; and continued for some time very assiduous at his studies. But some strolling players arriving at the university, his manners were corrupted by frequenting theatrical amusements; and he fell into many levities, which for a time turned him aside from his literary pursuits.* He now began to learn manly exercises; and being robust and active, succeeded so well in fencing and the management of military weapons, that he was induced to accompany Mr. Sedgwick his tutor,
will begin by determining what he ought and what he ought not to do in his professional character: he will not leave the decision of his conduct to chance, to the cry of a party, or the half-inebriated intellects of a set of jovial companions. He will observe, by what rules the best of his profession have governed themselves; he will consider, on what their rules are founded; he will examine what is most for the interest of society, as well as for the honour of individuals; and by this he will be guided, free from vain scruples or profligate temerity.”
* This, however, is denied by Mr. Stephens, who published his Contemplations:' and with regard to his love of the theatre, it was not long before he found it relaxed his habits of seriousness, disconcerted his plans of study, and above all (as he apprehended) hazarded the loosening, if not the eradicating, of his religious principles : upon which he made a solemn vow, during his whole life most strictly observed, never to see a play more.