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Attorney-general in 1712, but preferred by Harley irrespective of politics. Inheriting the legal talents of his father, a judge of the King's Bench, and like him, contributing to the profession a valuable volume of reports; he was, with general assent, appointed Lord Chief Justice, and called up to the House of Peers. He is the first judge who laid down the excellent principle on Woolaston's trial, under which blasphemous libels have been since chastised, “that Christianity was part and parcel of the law of England. Judicious lawyer as he was, be displayed a remarkable instance of narrow-mindedness on a memorable occasion. When a bill was introduced into the House of Lords for passing all statutes in the English language, Lord Raymond alone opposed this tardy measure of common sense, saying that, “if the bill passed, the law must likewise be translated into Welch, as very many in Wales understood not English.” The Duke of Argyle retorted well, “that our prayers were in our native tongue that they might be intelligible, and why should not the laws, wherein our lives and properties are concerned ? He was glad to see that the learned Lord, perhaps as wise and learned as any that ever sat in that House, had nothing more to offer against the bill than a joke!"
His clinging to such an absurd prejudice in favour of a dead over a living language, forms a remarkable proof how prone lawyers are to cherish the very corruptions of prescriptive usage, to love the ruin for its ivy, and to venerate the coin for its rust.
* Lord Raymond's Reports, * Parliamentary History, vol. viii. .
We have now placed under review the lives of the Speakers, the first commoners of England, at whose request those perennial privileges of the House of Commons, their perfect freedom of person and of speech, are each new Parliament recorded. We have, even at the risk of diffuseness, examined the character and fortunes of the great lawyers who vindicated those privileges, and made their clientship immortal. The privileges themselves have been traced from the first dim outline to their full development, and the time-worn oppressive claims of immunity explored, the shadow of whose burdens has long since passed away. But there remains a large field of disquisition, full of historical interest, and well repaying the most curious research—the summary and arbitrary coercive power claimed and abused by this high tribunal over their own body and over strangers; those vindictive privileges, some of which are essential to the plenary power of the grand inquest of the nation, bound to enquire into abuses and to accuse offenders, though defaced with caprice and favour and tyranny, and other manifest usurpations over the authority of the executive and the freedom of the subject. “Poor and impotent, indeed,” said Lord Ellen borough, a " would
• Case of Burdett v. Abbott, 14 East.
MEMOIRS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.
be the privileges of Parliament, if they could not protect themselves against all injuries and affronts offered to the aggregate body, which might prevent or impede the full and effectual exercise of their parliamentary functions."
In this department of both Houses of Parliament, as in some great armoury, are contained all the weapons of senatorial vengeance, a few rusting in the sheath, but the greater portion glittering and apt for use—their right to punish for contempt, in the nature of attachment summarily and without appeal ; to commit to the custody of the Serjeant, to the Gatehouse, to Newgate, or the Tower, all who obstruct or contemn their functions ; by hostile votes and resolutions to strike down offenders against the common weal; to burn the books they may condemn, and to coerce the authors; to let slip the law-officers of the Crown to impeach great delinquents, to attaint their name and blood, to determine the crime, and, by a retrospective cruelty, to punish the criminal. In reviewing the exercise of these undefinable, uncontrollable privileges over the people at large, a calmjudging lover of our constitution will find much to regret, and no little to condemn. Even when we contemplate their undoubted power over those of their own community, and examine their punishments of offending members of their own body, we shall too often miss the principles of equity and moderation interwoven with our common law, but an utter disregard of which popular assemblies, when inflamed by prejudice or passion, are ever apt to betray.
The power of punishment, as it were, for contempt is naturally applicable to offences against established order, committed by any of themselves. In the earliest authoritative record that is extant of their daily proceedings, the Commons' Journal of the first Parliament of Edward VI., we find, on 21st January, 1547-8, a short entry of an order, that John Storie, one of the burgesses, shall be committed to the custody of the Serjeant. Articles of accusation were afterwards read, and Storie was committed to the Tower, where he lay till the 2nd March. He afterwards suffered death for treason under Elizabeth, and appears to have been of such ungovernable temper as to have fallen a second time under the censure of the House for disrespect to the Speaker. The right of the House to punish its own members for indecent abuse of the liberty of speech may be deemed a consequence of the King's concession of that liberty; and its right to maintain order in debate is plainly incident to the privilege of debating at all.
The Speaker, being invested with full authority to preserve decorum, is expected by the House to take notice of any individual acting disorderly, and, should he persist in his contumely, to name the refractory burgess.
On the 23rd January 1693, it was“ resolved, to the end that all the debates should be grave and orderly, as becomes so great an assembly, and that all interruptions should be prevented, that no member of this House do presume to make any noise or disturbance while any member shall be orderly debating, or whilst any bill, order, or other matter shall be in reading or opening; and, in case of such noise or disturbance, that Mr. Speaker do call upon the member by name making such disturbance, and that every such person shall thereby incur the displeasure and censure of the
Hatsell, Tit. Speaker.
House." This naming by the Speaker occurs in early times, when a member trespassed on the license of debate. Mr. Glascock, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, having inveighed against the inferior sort of justices, then nicknamed basket-justices, and, when called upon to explain himself, having aggravated his offence by saying, “These are more like the wise men of Chaldee, that could never give judgment till they saw the entrails of beasts ; our statutes penal are like the beast born in the morning, at his full growth at noon, and dead at night; so these statutes, by the end of the year, are carried dead in a basket to the justices' house "—the Speaker, Sir John Croke, throwing his mantle over the calumniated magistracy, interposed, calling on the slanderous member by name, “Mr, Glascock, you speak from the matter and purpose, and this that you have spoken you must justify.”. There must, however, have been much truth in his strictures, not unpleasant to the puritan spirit that began to prevail; for when Sir Robert Wroth moved that Mr. Glascock should answer for his petulance at the bar, all said, “No, no," the reproof by their head being probably considered sufficient punishment for the offence.
When Mr. Lenthall, son of the late Speaker, at the first sitting of parliament after the Restoration, declared, in the fervour of his new-born loyalty, that those who had levied war against the late king were as blameable as those who cut off his head, he received by name a reprimand from the Chair, which the folly and dangerous consequence of his assertion well deserved. The indomitable Prynne was twice censured in his
Townsend's Proceedings in Parliament.