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Abused statutes had no tenters,
And men could deal secure without indentures."
JOHN STEPHENS, in 1615, published "Essayes and Characters, ironical and instructive. With a new Satyre, in defense of common Lawyers, mixt with reproofe against their common Enemy." The following extract is said to allude to Ruggles's Latin play of “ Ignoramus," which was a severe attack on law and lawyers :
“ It hath been tolde
Sound wits are modest, shallow wits are bolde;
And therefore did the law-tearme Poet weene
To please a publike eare with private spleene.
Now, O the pitty! that a misconceite
Of some, should all the Law and Lawyers baite.
Content yourselfe (saith Ignoramus), I
Am well acquainted with your pollicy:
You in the fencer's trick are deeply read;
And off'ring at the foot, you mean the head.
As doth a rebell who hath taken armes,
He promises to helpe his countries harmes,
But hath a meaning to surprise the towne,
And make the total regiment his owne,
Such was the meaning, to disgrace the Law
Under a colour'd trick, and wisely draw
That honor to yourselves which follows them.” He also gives the character of an honest lawyer : is a precious diamond set in pure gold ; the one gives glory to the other; and being divided, they be lesse valuable. He knows Law to be the mistres of man, and yet he makes Honesty the mistres of the Law. He hath as much leasure to dispute with Conscience in the most
busie tearme as in the deadest vacation. He rails not against the vices of his profession, but makes his profession commendable by his owne practise of vertue. He may well be a president to the best physicians, for he undertakes no cure when he perceives it inclining to be desperate. He makes the cause, and not the client, the object of his labour. He hath no leasure to protract time, or save his client's opinion with jests premeditated, or windy inferences. He owes so much worship to desert and innocence, that he can as faithfully applaud sufficient worth, as not to insult over, or exclaime against, dull ignorance. He dares know and professe, in spight of potency: hee dares be rich and honest, in despight of custome.”
LYNDSAY. While we are grubbing among ancient remains, it would be wrong to pass over Sir David Lyndsay's “Monarchie,” in which a personage termed “ Experience” thus speaks of Law :
“I would some Prince of great discretion
In vulgar language plainly causde translate
The needful Lawes of this Region:
Then would there not be halfe so great debate
Among us people of the low estate.
If every man the verity did know,
We needed not to treat these men of Law.
To do our neighbour wrong, we would beware,
If we did fear the Lawes punishment:
There would not be such brawling at the Bar,
Nor men of Law chine to such Royal rent,
To keep the Law if all men were content,
And each man do as he would be done to,
The Judges would get little thing adoe.”
SEWELL, in his tragedy “Sir Walter Raleigh,” thus describes Coke and the crown lawyers in the memorable trial of the hero who gave the title to the play:
“I heard the deep-mouth d Pack, that scented Blood
From their first starting, and pursued their View
With the Law Musick of long-winded Calumny.
Well I remember one among the Tribe,
A reading Cut-throat skill'd in Parallels,
And dark Comparisons of wond'rous Likeness,
Who, in a Speech of unchew'd Eloquence,
Muster'd up all the Crimes since Noah's Days,
To put in Ballance with this fancied Plot,
And made e'en Catiline a Saint to Raleigh:
The Sycophant so much o'er-play'd his part,
I could have hugg’d him, kiss'd the unskillful Lies
Hot from his venal Tongue.”
DANIEL, in his lines on “Lord Keeper Egerton,” has the following, which reminds us of a passage in Montaigne :
“Since her interpretations, and our deeds,
Unto a like infinity arise,
As b’ing a science that by nature breeds
Contention, strife, and ambiguities;
For altercation controversy feeds,
And in her agitation multiplies:
The field of cavil lying all like wide,
Yields like advantage unto either side.
Which made the grave Castilian king devise
A prohibition that no advocate
Should be convey'd to th’ Indian Colonies,
Lest their new settling, shaken with debate,
Might take but slender root, and so not rise
To any perfect growth of fine estate;
For having not this skill how to contend,
Th' unnourish'd strife would quickly make an end.”
in “Mustapha,” thus speaks of law :
“ Laws the next pillars be with which we deal,
As sophistries of ev'ry common weal;
Or rather nets, which people do ask leave
That they to catch their freedoms in, may weave;
And still add more unto the sultan's pow'r,
By making their own frames themselves devour.
These Lesbian rules, with show of real grounds,
Giving right, narrow; will, transcendant bounds."
in “ Match me in London,” observes,
“You oft call Parliaments, and ere enact
Laws good and wholesome, such as whoso break
Are hung by the purse or neck. But as the weak
And smaller flies i’ the spider's web are ta’en,
When great ones tear the web and free remain;
So may that moral tale of you be told
Which once the wolf related : in the fold
The shepherds kill'd a sheep, and eat him there;
The wolf look’d in, and see'ng them at such cheer,
Alas! quoth he, should I touch the least part
Of what you tear, you would pluck out my heart.
Great men make laws, that whosoe'er draws blood
Shall dye; but if they murder flocks, 'tis good.
I'll go eat my lamb at home, sir.”
In Tourneur's “Revenger's Tragedie" we find this dialogue : “. Tell me, what has made thee so melancholy? 2. Why, going to law. 1. Why, will that make a man melancholy? 2. Yes, to look long on ink and black
Buckram. I went to law in anno
Quadragesimo secundo, and I
Waded out of it in anno sexagesimo tertio.
1. What! three and twenty years in law ?
2. I have known those that have been five and fifty,
And all about pullen and pigs.
1. May it be possible such men should breathe,
To vex the terms so much ?
2. 'Tis food to some,
My lord. There are old men at the present
That are so poison’d with th' affectation
Of law-words, having had many suits canvassid,
That their common talk is nothing but barb'rous
Latin: they cannot so much as pray, but
In law, that their sins may be remov'd, with
A writ of error, and their souls fetch'd up
To heaven with a certiorari.”
DAVENANT, in his lines on the “Restauration,” says,
“Your clemency has taught us to believe
It wise, as well as virtuous, to forgive.
And now the most offended shall proceed
In great forgiving, till no laws we need.
For law's slow progresses would quickly end,
Could we forgive as fast as men offend.
Revenge of past offences is the cause
Why peaceful minds consented to have laws: