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frequent interruptions, then "a common artifice," till it was twelve o'clock, and they knew that the House of Peers was risen for the day. The Lord Keeper, aware of what was going on in the Commons, hurried the adjournment, bade a final adieu to the woolsack, and had taken his departure precipitately without venturing to cast a lingering look behind.

When it was ascertained that Finch was safe, the question was allowed to be put, and it was carried in the affirmative; a few voices feebly saying, No. The Lord Falkland was appointed to carry up the accusation to the House of Peers.



Finch concealed himself till it was dark. He then pri- Finch vately sent the Great Seal to the King; and, embarking in a flies the galliot which had been suddenly hired for him, made sail for Holland.


At the meeting of the Lords next morning, it was known Lord Falkthat the Lord Keeper had absconded; and Littleton, Chief land brings up imJustice of the Common Pleas, under a commission from the peachment King, was placed on the woolsack as Speaker. Lord Falk- against land immediately appeared at the bar to prefer the impeachment. Having read the articles, he said:

"Nil refert tales versus qua voce legantur.

"The charge was such as required no assistance from the bringer; when voted, having been attended with all possible evidence, and all possible aggravation, that addition only excepted which my Lord Finch alone could make, and had made, by his confession, signified in his flight."

The Lords sent back a message to the Commons, that they had taken into consideration the charges against John Lord Finch, late Keeper of the Great Seal; but having received intimation that he was not to be found, they had ordered him into safe custody as soon as he could be discovered.

It was generally suspected that his escape had been connived at by the popular leaders; but there seems to have been a large majority in the House of Commons who wished to bring him to the block.





letter from


The noble and learned fugitive arrived safely in Holland; and on the 3d of January, 1641, wrote the following letter to Lord Pembroke, to be laid before the two Houses:


My most well-beloved Lord, the interest your Lordship hath ever had in the best of my fortunes and affections, gives me the privilege of troubling your Lordship with these few lines, from one who hath now nothing left to serve you withal but his prayers. These your Lordship shall never want, with an heart as full of true affection to your Lordship as ever any was. My Lord, it was not the loss of my place, and with that of my fortunes, nor being exiled from my dear country and friends, though many of them were cause of sorrow, that afflicts; but that which I most suffer under is, that displeasure of the House of Commons conceived against me. I know how true a heart I have ever borne towards them, and your Lordship can witness, in part, what ways I have gone in; but silence and patience best become me. With these, I must leave myself and my actions to the favourable construction of my noble friends; in which number, your Lordship hath a prime place. I am now at the Hague, where I arrived on Thursday, the last day of last month, where I purpose to live in a fashion agreeable to the poorness of my fortunes. As for any views in this world, I have utterly cast off the thoughts of them; and my aim shall be so to learn to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom that wisdom, that shall wipe all tears from mine eyes and heart, and, lead me by the hand to true happiness, which can never be taken from me. I pray the God of Heaven to bless this parliament with both a happy progress and conclusion; and if my ruin can induce but the least to it, I shall not repine. I truly pray for your Lordship and your noble family, that God would give an increase of all worldly blessings, and in the fulness of days to receive you to his glory. If I were capable of serving any body, I would tell your Lordship, that no man should be readier to make known his devotion and true gratitude to your Lordship, than your Lordship's most humble and affectionate poor kinsman and servant,




He remained in exile about eight years, in great penury and misery, shunned even by the royalists who from time to time escaped beyond seas to avoid the tyranny of the par- Finch in liament. At last, by making an abject submission to Crom- exile. well, and agreeing to pay a sum of money as a delinquent, His return to Enghe was allowed to return; and he lived in retirement till the land. Restoration.

He was then most indecently put into the commission for the trial of the Regicides, — which calls forth this indignant complaint from Ludlow: "Finch, who had been accused of high treason twenty years before by a full parliament, and who, by flying from their justice, saved his life, was appointed to judge some of those who should have been his judges."

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He is only reported to have spoken once during the trials. This was upon the observation of General Harrison, "Whereas, it has been said, we did assume and usurp an authority; say this was done rather in the fear of the Lord."


Lord Finch." Though my Lords here have been pleased to give you a great latitude, this must not be suffered that you should run into these damnable excursions, to make God the author of this damnable treason committed by you."†

Sits on

trial of the


He died soon after, universally despised by cavaliers as His death. well as republicans, by high churchmen as much as by puritans. Leaving no issue, this branch of the family of Finch became extinct; and with it the barony of Finch of Fordwich.

We must rejoice that he escaped the scaffold, of which he was in such danger; but we cannot regret the subsequent misfortunes which befel him. Nothing can be conceived more subversive of public virtue than the continued prosperity of an unprincipled judge and reckless politician, who has notoriously advanced himself by his profligacy, and set at naught all regard to consistency and decency.

* Mem. 365.

† 5 St. Tr. 1025.


of his ex




A. D. 1640.

in selecting

a Lord Keeper.

Sir ED



pointed. Sketch of

his character.


THE Great Seal remained for some time with the King after
the night of the 21st of December, when he so unexpectedly
received it from Lord Finch, about to fly for his life.

In such an extraordinary emergency there was much difficulty in the appointment of a successor. Banks, the Attorney General, had been actively engaged in all the unconstitutional and cruel government prosecutions which had taken place during the suspension of parliaments; and Herbert, the Solicitor General, though recently appointed, had rendered himself almost equally obnoxious to the popular party, by the blind zeal he had displayed in support of the arbitrary principles on which the government had been conducted. The promotion of either of them would therefore have been considered a direct insult to the House of Commons, and an acknowledgment by the King that all his professions of amendment were insincere. There was a disposition to offer office to some of the lawyers on the other side, but none of them could be prudently trusted to preside in the House of Lords,― particularly when it was considered that the impeachments against Strafford and Laud would soon be coming on to be heard. Strafford, now in the Tower, still kept up a private intercourse with his royal Master, — and it is said to have been on his recommendation that, on the 29th of January, 1641, the Great Seal was delivered to Sir EDWARD LITTLETON, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, as Lord Keeper.


Although the appointment did not turn out felicitously, either for him who suggested it or for the public,-apparently a better choice could not have been made, as Littleton was a very

Oliver St. John, long in "the sedition line," was soon after made Solicitor General.

for he had


profound lawyer, and a man of excellent private character; CHAP. and although he had changed sides in politics, — considering the times, he was to be praised for his moderation, not violently persecuted his ancient opinions or his ancient friends. With more moral courage and energy he might have made himself a great name, and prevented the coming collision; but, entertaining the best intentions, he greatly disappointed the expectations of his friends, and he pursued a vacillating course, which ended in his own disgrace, and ag

gravated the calamities of his country.

Edward Littleton, the subject of this memoir, was of an His family. ancient family of the robe, being lineally descended in the male line from the great Littleton, author of " The Tenures," and Judge of the Common Pleas in the reign of Edward IV. This legal patriarch left three sons, the eldest of whom is the ancestor of Lord Lyttleton, and the second of Lord Hatherton. From the third was descended the Lord Keeper, who was born at Mounslow, in Shropshire, in the year 1589, being the eldest son of Sir Edward Littleton, of Hewley, in the same county, likewise of the profession of the law, having been one of the Justices of the Marches, and a Judge of North Wales. Young Edward Littleton was educated at a His eduprovincial grammar school till he was sent to Oxford, and cation. entered a gentleman commoner at Christ Church. Here he applied very diligently to study, and in 1609 he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, having gained great applause for his proficiency in logic and in classical learning. He continued a very diligent student during the remainder of his life.

Being removed to the Inner Temple, he devoted himself to the Year Books and antiquarian lore. He was a bosom friend of Selden, and for some years they carried on their studies in common, often going together to the Tower of London, there to regale themselves with the smell of ancient parchment.* He continued at the same time to keep up an acquaintance with more elegant pursuits. He was a famous swordsman, and he showed in his youth a taste for the military art, which

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A.D. 1606.

At the



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