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CHAP. and glory of the profession, his reverend Master (Egerton), had the commendation of the completest men, but not of the deepest lawyers." He becomes bolder as he advances:*"Again, it may be the continual practice of the strict law, without a special mixture of other knowledge, makes a man corrupt and underhand for a Court of Equity. Jurisconsultus ipse per se nihil nisi leguleius quidam, cautus et acutus,— as much used to defend the wrong as to protect and maintain the most upright cause. And if any of them should prove corrupt, he carries about him armatam nequitiam,—that skill and cunning to palliate the same, so that the mis-sentence which, pronounced by a plain and understanding man, would appear most gross and palpable, by their colours, quotations, and wrenches of the law, would be made to pass for current and specious." He points out the disadvantage of a Chancellor having to decide the causes of his former clients, "who to-day have for their Judge him who yesterday was their hired advocate," and he plainly insinuates (though he professes to disclaim) the imputation, "that a proneness to take bribes may be generated from the habit of taking fees." He concludes this head with a clumsy attempt at palliation: "These reasons, though they please some men, yet, God be praised, if we do but right to this noble profession, they are in our commonwealth no way concluding or demonstrative. For I make no question but there are many scores which profess our laws, who, beside their skill and practice in this kind, are so richly ennobled in all moral and intellectual endowments, ut omnia tanquam singula perficiant, that there is no Court of Equity in the world but might be most safely committed unto them." With respect to himself he affects a mixture of humility and confidence:-" Surely if a sincere, upright, and well-meaning heart doth not cover thousands of other imperfections, I am the unfittest man in the kingdom to supply the place; and therefore must say of my creation as the Poet said of the creation of the world,- Materiam noli quærere,
*If Sir E. Coke was present, his feelings must have been mixed - his hatred of Bacon being at last satiated, but his regard for the honour of the profession cruelly wounded.
on with better taste to confess his disadvantage in coming after two such men as Egerton and Bacon," one of them excelling in most things, the other in all things, — both of them so bred in this course of life, ut illis plurimarum rerum agitatio frequens nihil esse ignotum patiebatur;” adding rather felicitously, "My comfort is this, that arriving here as a stranger, I may say, as Archimedes did when he found geometrical lines and angles drawn every where in the sands of Egypt, Video vestigia humana, I see in this Court the footsteps of wise men, many excellent rules and orders which, though I might want learning and knowledge to invent, I hope I shall not want honesty to act upon." He next lays down certain principles by which he is to be governed, professing great respect for the common law, and laughing at the equitable doctrine, "that sureties are to be favoured;" for, says he, "When the money is to be borrowed, the surety is the first in the intention, and therefore if it be not paid, let him a God's name be the first in the execution." He thus not ungracefully concluded: — “I will propound my old master for my pattern and precedent in
There can be nothing more revolting than the language of English divines during the seventeenth century, who frequently put the King nearly, if not altogether, on a footing with Almighty God.
all things, beseeching Almighty God so to direct me that while I hold this place I may follow him by a true and constant imitation; and if I prove unfit, that I may not play the mountebank so in this place as to abuse the King and the state, but follow the same most worthy Lord in his cheerful and voluntary resignation, Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori."*
CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF LORD KEEPER WILLIAMS TILL THE
THE Lord Keeper now set to work with stupendous energy and with great discretion. By incessant reading and conversation with Finch and the officers of the Court, he had got some little insight into its rules and practice; he never sat in public without the assistance of the Master of the Rolls or some of the common-law Judges supposed to be most familiar with equity; and although he ostensibly delivered the judgment, he took care to be decorously prompted by those on whom he could rely.
fore him to
In spite of his great caution he could not avoid sometimes Waggish misapplying technical terms, and causing a titter among the made belawyers, who viewed him with no favour. * when his Honour the Master of the Rolls, expected, was by sudden illness detained at home, a wag at cule. the bar had the impudence to attempt a practical joke upon the Right Reverend the Lord Keeper. When called to, the wicked counsellor rose demurely, and pretending to look at his brief, made a sham motion, which seems to have been somewhat like that mentioned in the Life of Lord Eldon, for a writ,-"Quare adhesit pavimento." The exact terms of this motion are not mentioned by any Reporter, but we are told on undoubted authority that it was "crammed like a grenade with obsolete words, coins of far-fetched antiquity, which had been long disused, worse than Sir Thomas More's 'An averia carucæ capta in withernam sint irreplegiabilia.' With these misty and recondite phrases he thought to leave the new Judge groping about in the dark." Williams discovered the trick, and, notwithstanding his Welsh blood, he preserved his
* Hacket explains their dislike of him into envy, comparing them to "Joseph's brethren, who hated the very dream of a sheaf, to which they must do obeysance." -p. 60.
CHAP. temper. "With a serious face the Lord Keeper answered him in a cluster of most crabbed notions picked out of metaphysics and logic, as "categorematical" and "syncategorematical," and a deal of such drumming stuff, that the motioner, being foiled at his own weapon, and well laughed at in the Court, went home with this new lesson-that he that tempts a wise man in jest shall make himself a fool in earnest.'
His stupendous industry.
The account we have of his industry shames the most industrious men of this degenerate age. He took his seat in the Court of Chancery in the winter time by candle-light, between six and seven o'clock in the morning. Having sat there two hours, he went to the House of Lords between eight and nine, where the Prince and the Peers were assembled, expecting him to take his place on the woolsack. There he continued propounding and discussing the questions which arose till twelve at noon, every day, and when there was a late debate till past one in the afternoon. Going to the Deanery he took a short repast, and then returned to the Court of Chancery to hear petitions and causes that he had not been able to despatch in the morning. Coming home about eight in the evening he perused such letters and papers as his secretaries had prepared for him, and after that, far in the night, he prepared himself for so much as concerned him to have in readiness for the Lords' House in the morning. His attendances in the Star Chamber and at the Council table did not interfere with the business of the Court of Chancery, where he always attended two hours early in the morning before going elsewhere. He is said to have decided five or six causes in a morning, according to the quality and measure of the points that came to be debated in them, and, that he might make others industrious and punctual like himself, two or three afternoons in every week he had a peremp tory paper consisting of cases that had been long depending, and that he himself appointed to be heard at all events, and, if possible, finally disposed of. He is a striking instance of what may be accomplished without genius by industry. Industry, I think,” says his secretary, "was his recreation,
* Hacket, 75.