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endeavoured to be made between legal evidence and real evidence, or, between such evidence as our law requires and such as, in natural justice and equity, ought to be admitted. But, my lords, this is a distinction without a difference: for what is evidence of a fact before any judicature whatsoever, but such testimony as the nature of the case requires to induce a moral certainty of the truth of the thing testified. The greater or less consequence the case is of, the more or less proof is required to induce such certainty.

“ One of the learned gentlemen at the bar (Mr. Wearg), I suppose, out of pure zeal for this bill, and not with a design to misguide his audience, did roundly affirm before your lordships that no evidence, strictly speaking, was legal but what was mathematical. I am confident that gentleman would not have given this as his opinion, under his hand, at his chamber, because he knows it is directly contrary to truth. He knows very well that no offender that puts himself upon his trial can be convicted but upon the oath of one or more witnesses; he dares not deny but that such conyiction is founded upon legal evidence, strictly so speaking, and no one will pretend to say that any evidence of witnesses can be called mathematical.

“ But here these post-office clerks are forced to call in aid a messenger and a servant, to fix the handwriting of the letters they produce; the letters themselves are unintelligible, and therefore the assistance of the decipherers, and some cant names must be added, before they can wire-draw treason out of them. My lords, these decipherers refuse to give your lordships any reason for the construction they have made --they shelter themselves by saying that to give you a reason would be to discover their art. Happy art, indeed that shall enable the artist to swear a man into high treason, and yet it shall not be in the power of the accused person to disprove him! I do not find that these gentlemen pretend to act by unerring rules ; they themselves own they may be mistaken, and therefore, until your lordships are let further into their secret, you will judicially look upon the art of decyphering to be no more than the art of guessing, and esteem him that guesses best to be the best decypherer.

“ But, my lords, this is not the first instance wherein I have observed judgment and opinion to be confounded and mistaken, the one for the other, and that, too, in a very gross and dangerous manner. My lords, men's opinions, generally speaking, are nothing else but their fancies or imaginations, and are usually grounded upon personal pique or party prejudice : these are weak and slender foundations, and have nothing to do, and I hope, in England, never will have any thing to do, where a man's life, his liberty, or his property is concerned. But, my lords, a man forms his judgment according to the evidence that is offered him ; that alone is his rule, and as the perspicuity or uncertainty of that appears, justice requires a determination accordingly. But, as the bishop's case now stands, the evidence of his guilt appears very dark, and, for ought I can observe, is like to continue so.”

The peroration is very beautiful : “My lords, I have now done, and if, upon this occasion, I have tried your patience, or discovered a warmth unbecoming me, your lordships will impute it to the concern I am under, lest, if this bill should pass, it should become a dangerous precedent for after ages. My zeal as an Englishman for the good of my country

VOL. II.

D

obliges me to set my face against oppression in every shape, and wherever I think I meet with it (it matters not whether one man or five hundred be the oppressors), I shall be sure to oppose it with all my might : for, vain will be the boast of the excellency of our constitution, in vain shall we talk of our liberty and property, secured to us by laws, if a precedent shall be established to strip us of both, where both law and evidence are confessedly wanting. My lords, upon the whole matter, I take this bill to be derogatory to the dignity of parliament in general, to the dignity of this House in particular: I take the pains and penalties in it to be much greater or much less than the bishop deserves. I take every individual branch of the charge against him to be unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. I think there are no grounds for any private opinion of the bishop's guilt, but what arises from private prejudice only; I think private prejudice has nothing to do with judicial proceedings; I am, therefore, for throwing out this bill.”

With this honourable display of principle and public spirit the distinguished career of Lord Cowper was closed. His health had been long delicate, and had for years been partially sustained by a strict adherence to regimen in exercise and diet. Immediately on the prorogation of parliament, within a fortnight after the passing of the bill of pains and penalties, he retired, over-wrought with the exertions of the session, to his house in Hertfordshire, in the hope of recruiting his shattered health by the enjoyment of quiet and fresh air ; but his constitution was enfeebled beyond recovery ; his strength daily declined, until, entirely worn out, on the 10th of October, 1723, he breathed his last, and was buried on the 19th of the same month in the parish church of Hertingfordbury. That church, which contains splendid monuments to his brother and other less eminent members of his family, has not even a tablet to record the talents and virtues of the distinguished founder of their nobility. More lasting, however, than storied urn or marble bust are the ineffaceable characters he has traced in his country's annals, among the ablest of her statesmen, one of the purest of her patriots, and a consummate orator. It might be said of him, as Ben Jonson said of the Lord Verulam, that he commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his discretion. No man had their affections more in his power; and the fear of every man that heard him speak was, lest he should make an end.” In a paper of the Spectator, dedicated to his honour under the name of Manilius, it is well said :-"His merit fares like the pictures of Raphael, which are either seen with admiration by all, or at least no one dare own he has no taste for a composition, which has received so universal an applause.”a

Calamy's Memoirs.

* Spectator, No. 467.

36

CHAPTER II.

ANOTHER Chancellor, of whig creation, under George I., of less repute, and ungraced with pomp of heraldry, was Peter King, the only son of Mr. Jerome King, a substantial grocer and dry-salter in the city of Exeter. He was born there in the year 1669, and designed by his father for the useful though inglorious occupation, which had secured to himself a comfortable income. Young King, after acquiring the rudiments of an ordinary provincial education, at the grammar-school of his native city, was introduced behind the counter, to learn the thriving business to which he was taught to look for his future support. Who* (says a biographer, with amusing naiveté), that had stept into the shop of Mr. Jerome King, and had there seen his son up to the elbows in grocery, could have perceived in him a future Chancellor of Great Britain! But the prospect of knowledge, and some dim glimpses of ambition visited him even through this ungenial atmosphere. All the pocket-money he could hoard he devoted to the purchase of books, and every hour of leisure to their eager perusal. Bred up chiefly among Dissenters, it is not surprising that his studies should have comprehended inquiry into those religious questions which, at the period of the Revo

• Noble's continuation of Granger.

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