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Sir E. Sackville.

the opinions of those moderate politicians who recoiled from extremes on either side, it was Sir Edward Sackville, the brother and heir of the childless Earl of Dorset. Pre-eminent in beauty of person, and in the vigour of a cultivated intellect, he wanted nothing to fit him for the highest places in the commonwealth but that stern sense of duty without which no man can be truly great. Protestantism, as a great revolt from oppression, he could understand and sympathize with. But Protestantism as a rule of life was beyond his ken. He had early broken away from the restraints of marriage, and had followed the seductions of his roving fancy wherever he was attracted by a bright eye or a tender glance. One dark day had passed over him without startling him from his evil course. His guilty love had in some way or other entangled him in a quarrel with Lord Bruce of Kinloss, which led to a challenge. The duel was fought on the frontier, half-way between Antwerp and Bergen-op-Zoom, amongst the grassy fields which stretch out their level surface to the low horizon. Young Bruce was left bleeding to death upon the sward, and Sackville returned to find the reward of his prowess in the arms of the light wanton for whose sake he had stained his sword with the life-blood of a fellow-creature.

Such deeds, it is true, are not always followed by penalties of which the world takes cognisance. A man may do them, and yet may die in the full possession of wealth, and of all that wealth can give. But he who does such things is at least morally the worse for them. The shape in which Sackville's punishment came was, that when the great crisis arrived, and England was marshalled into two opposing camps, he, the man of splendid acquirements, the delight of listening senates, could not choose but take the side on which the arousing voice of Puritanism was hushed, and lived to be the minister of Charles without adding weight to the cause which he had adopted.

That time, however, had not yet arrived. Sackville's known Supports good-will towards the cause of the German ProtesCoke. tants, his recent determination to accompany Vere to the Palatinate, which had been characteristically retracted on

1621

THE NEW PLAN ABANDONED.

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account of some personal affront, had given him the confidence of the popular party; whilst his respect for the prerogative made him equally a favourite with those who looked with dread on the encroachments of the House of Commons. He had been chosen at the beginning of the session to the chairmanship of the Committee for inquiry into the Abuses in Courts of Justice, and it had only been by ill health that he had been compelled to resign its functions into the hands of Phelips. He thoroughly detested everything that savoured of violence or exaggeration; and it might have been expected that he would gladly have yielded to the apparent moderation of the King's suggestion. His personal friendship for Bacon was likely to draw him in the same direction. Yet, in spite of all this, when he stood up it was to second Coke's motion, with some unimportant modifications. No further resistance was possible; and the House resolved that the King should be informed that if he would lay his scheme before the Lords, they would be ready to join the Upper House in giving him a joint reply. As a matter of course, Phelips was allowed to go before the Peers with his demand for a conference on the charges against Bacon.1

The King's plan relinquished.

James's first thought upon hearing what had passed was to prosecute his design. He told Calvert to thank the Commons for their reply, and to assure them that he had already sent to the Lords the message which they desired. If this was the case, his messenger was speedily recalled. At all events, nothing more was heard of the royal scheme. If Bacon were consulted on the matter, it may well be supposed that he would be the first to point out that it was now hopeless. If the Lower House could have been induced to give a warm support to the Crown, the Lords might perhaps have given way. But with the Commons. lukewarm or hostile, it was madness to suppose that the Peers would relinquish one tittle of their ancient jurisdiction. Any attempt to press the matter now would only be to the detriment of the accused.

That very afternoon had been appointed for the conference 1 Proceedings and Debates, i. 193; Commons' Journals, i. 563.

The charges laid before the Lords.

Bacon's

between the Houses. Not a word was breathed on the subject which had been in agitation during the morning. Phelips contented himself with laying before the Upper House the evidence collected in the cases of Aubrey and Egerton, and with respectfully demanding inquiry.1 After the conference was at an end, Buckingham hastened to York House to inform the Chancellor of the events of the day. He found him more cheerful than he had letter to the been of late, and full of confidence that the Lords Peers. would do him justice. When he left, he carried with him a letter in which the sick man begged for time to answer his accusers, adding that he thought it likely that more petitions would be put up against him; but that he hoped that they would not give any weight to the mere number of the complainants. He had made more than 2,000 decrees yearly; and it was easy to make a great show by hunting for accusations. Whatever the charges might be, he trusted that time would be granted him to answer them severally.

The next day the Lords resolved to proceed at once to the examination of witnesses; and at Southampton's motion an answer, drawn up in rather curt terms, was returned to the Chancellor's letter. Bacon was briefly informed that justice would be done."

March 20.

Bacon was right in supposing that the attack thus commenced would not rest here. The next morning a Wharton's petition was presented to the Commons, demanding inquiry into his acceptance of a bribe of 300l. from

Lady

case.

Lady Wharton.

Lady Wharton-such is the story which may yet be gleaned from the records of her endless litigations-had been three times married. Her second husband, Sir Francis Willoughby, had left her a considerable property, which had given rise to long and bitter contention in the law courts. Her last appearance in Chancery, at least, had not arisen from any fault of her own. A discontented servant, rummaging amongst her

1 Proceedings and Debates, i. 194; Commons' Journals, i. 563. Lords' Journals, iii. 51, 53. 2 Ibid. iii. 54.

1621

LADY WHARTON'S CASE.

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papers, lit upon a deed by which Sir Francis, long before he married her, had made over to his daughters by his first wife, a large portion of those very lands which he subsequently bequeathed to his widow. The man saw in his discovery an opportunity for revenge, took a note of the contents of the document, and, as soon as an opportunity offered, communicated what he had learned to the husbands of Sir Francis's three surviving daughters. The consequence was, that in the spring of 1618 a Chancery suit was commenced by these three gentlemen to compel the surrender of the deed, whilst Lady Wharton filed a cross bill to obtain a judicial declaration of its invalidity.

On October 30, 1619, Bacon delivered judgment in the cause. Sir Francis, it appeared, had reserved to himself a power

of revocation; and, though there was no legal proof Bacon's judgment. that he had made use of any such power, there was sufficient evidence that he had again and again acted in such a way as to show that he considered the deed no longer to be binding upon him. Upon these grounds the Chancellor decided that the deed must be considered to have been revoked, and that there were no grounds for compelling Lady Wharton to surrender a document which was no longer of any importance.1

The whole question was practically settled by this decision, though Lady Wharton's demand for a formal condemnation of the deed had yet to be heard. Accordingly, the lawyers on both sides were summoned to York House to argue what must have appeared to Bacon to be a question now devoid of interest. The deed was produced, and Serjeant Ashley, the counsel for Lady Wharton's opponents, brought forward some arguments in favour of his clients which had not been used in court before. Bacon, accordingly, was about to direct that the questions thus raised should be formally argued before him, when Shute, who

1 Order, Willoughby v. Wharton, Oct. 30, 1619, Feb. 12, 1621, Order Book, 1619 A. fol. 978, 1620 A. fol. 749. Miscellaneous Chancery Proceedings; Eliz. to James II.; Bills and Answers; Single Bills, 1620 -24, Part 33, No. 98. Dalston v. Willoughby, May 11, 1622.

was acting as counsel for Lady Wharton, interposed. His opponents, he said, should have no benefit by his client's bill. She would at once withdraw her demand for a declaration of its invalidity. In fact, she had got all that she wanted. As she was now entitled to keep the document in her own hands, it was of no importance whatever to her whether its invalidity were formally declared or not. Upon this the lawyers on the other side, who probably knew well enough that Serjeant Ashley's arguments were worth little or nothing, expressed their willingness to withdraw their bill also. Bacon, accordingly, agreed to the dismissal of both bills by the consent of the parties, taking care, however, to direct Churchill, the registrar, to see that, in entering the order, the reasons which he had recently alleged against the validity of the deed were allowed to appear.1

Bacon's decision had satisfied the lawyers, and had satisfied the claims of justice; but, as is not unfrequently the case, it

1 "E. Willoughby, Esqre., Winifred his wife, W. Pargiter and Abigail his wife, M. Wood and Frances his wife, Plaintiffs.

"The Lord and Lady Wharton, Sir R. Lovelace, and E. Molineux, Defendants, et e contra.

"William Pargiter maketh oath that My Lord Chancellor having appointed one counsellor of a side to attend him at his house, where Mr. Serjeant Ashley, being of counsel with the plaintiffs, read a deed of my lady's brought thither by Mr. Shute being of her counsel, and after the reading of the said deed used some reasons to his Lordship on the plaintiff's behalf, which my Lord confessed he had not heard before; whereupon it was desired on the plaintiff's behalf, that my Lord would be pleased to appoint a time to hear them, for those reasons were the substance of my lady's cross bill. His Lordship was well pleased so to do, but Mr. Shute, being of counsel with my lady, refused to go to a hearing upon that bill, affirming that the plaintiffs should have no benefit by my lady's cross bill, for they would let it fall, and desired his Lordship to dismiss it; whereupon the counsel of the plaintiffs desired a dismission of their bill also; whereupon his Lordship did pronounce a dismission of both bills, with some reasons to be inserted against the validity of the plaintiff's deed; and the Registrar, Mr. Churchill, did draw up an order for dismission of both bills accordingly about the latter end of Michaelmas Term last.

Intratum.

Juratum 27° Junii, 1620.

Chancery Affidavits, Trin. T. 1620, No. 90.

Jo: Amye.”

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