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LXVII.

CHAP. vourable terms from either of these powerful parties, and he looked forward to important assistance from Scotland and Ireland, by which he might be in a situation again to make head against the parliament. Whether for negotiation or action, it was important that he should keep up the appearance of a regular government; and that he might make use of the Great Seal for proclamations and grants, he resolved to appoint a new Lord Keeper.

LANE,
Lord
Keeper.
A. D. 1645.

Grant to him of salary, &c.

If he had had a wider choice he could not have selected a better man than the Lord Chief Baron, and when he proposed this appointment it was approved by the whole Council. Accordingly, on the 23d of October, "Sir RICHARD LANE, Knight, was sworn at the Philosophy Schools, in Oxford, into the office of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, taking the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, the oath of office, together with the oath according to the statute lately made for issuing forth of writs for summons of parliament, the Lord Treasurer and divers others being then present."* It has been said, that "the new Lord Keeper had neither a court, suitors, or salary †; but this is not altogether correct, for on the 17th of November following "a patent was granted to the Right Honourable Sir Richard Lane, Knight, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, of 23s. per diem for his diet, and of 261. 13s. 4d. per annum for a winter livery, and 137. 6s. 4d. for a summer livery, and 300l. per annum pension out of the Hanaper, and of all such part of fineable writs to be answered by the Cursitors as former Lord Keepers have had, and of all other fees and allowances belonging to the office of Lord Keeper; the said allowances to begin upon and from the 30th day of August last, and so forwards, so long as he shall continue in the office." However, as all these allowances were to come from fees on grants and writs, it is to be feared that the Lord Keeper's "diet, liveries, and pension," were poorly provided for, and that having already contributed to the supply of the King's wants the small remnant of his private fortune, he now found it difficult to conceal the poverty and misery with

Doquets of patents at Oxford, Temp. Car. I.

† Parke's Chanc. 117.

"Te apud Oxon. xvii°. Novemb. A°. R. R. Caroli, xxi." Doquets, &c.

which he had to struggle. Only three patents are recorded as having passed the Great Seal after his appointment, one to make Sir Thomas Gardiner Attorney General, another to make Sir Jeffrey Palmer Solicitor General, and the third for authorising the Master of the Rolls, and others, to hear causes in Chancery in the absence of the Lord Keeper.

In the following spring, Charles found that the offers made to him were only "devices to amuse the royal bird till the fowlers had enclosed him in their toils." He resolved, therefore, rather than be taken prisoner by Fairfax and Cromwell, who were marching to lay siege to Oxford, to fly to the Scotch army encamped before Newark, and to throw himself upon the generosity of his countrymen. With a view to his flight, and that some order might be preserved for the safety of his friends when he was gone, he appointed a Council "for the better management of the garrison and defence of the city, and placed the Lord Keeper at the head of it.

Great was the consternation in Oxford on the morning of the 27th of April, when the King was not to be found, and it was known that he had escaped at midnight, disguised as a servant, following his supposed master, Ashburnham, on the road to Henley.

CHAP. LXVII.

A. D. 1645.

Charles deself up to

livers him

Scots.

Lane's defence of

Oxford

Fairfax.

Lane, however, behaved with courage and constancy, resolved that if the place could not be successfully defended, it should not capitulate except on honourable terms. Crom- against well, on hearing of the King's escape, employed himself in schemes, by bribing the Scots, to get possession of his person, and Fairfax did not arrive before Oxford till the beginning of June. During the war, this city had been rendered one of the strongest fortresses of the kingdom. On three sides, the waters of the Isis and the Charwell spreading over the adjoining country, kept the enemy at a considerable distance, and on the north it was covered by a succession of works erected by skilful engineers. The garrison now amounted to near 5000 men, the last remnant of the royal army, and a plentiful supply of stores and provisions had been collected in contemplation of another campaign. A stout resistance might have been made; but without the possibility of relief, it must have been hopeless, and all deliberation on

CHAP. LXVII.

Oxford

surren

dered.

Capitula

tion article

Seal.

the subject was put an end to by an order from the King, addressed to the Governors of Oxford, Lichfield, Worcester, and Wallingford, the only places in the kingdom that still held out for him, whereby "the more to evidence the reality of his intentions of settling a happy and firm peace, he required them upon honourable terms to quit those places, and to disband all the forces under their command."

The terms for the surrender of Oxford were negotiated by as to Great Lane. He wished much to have inserted an article, stipulating that he should have leave to carry away with him the Great Seal, the badge of his office, together with the Seals of the other Courts of justice, and the swords of state, which had been brought to Oxford; but to this Fairfax most peremptorily objected, under the express orders of the parliament, by whom they were considered the emblems of sovereignty. Rather than stand the horrors of an assault, Lane signed the capitulation, by which the Seals, along with the swords of state, were all delivered up.*

Royal
Great
Seal de-

livered to

parliament

It is publicly

broken.

On the 3d of July, the parliament with great exultation received a letter from Fairfax, signifying that he had sent by the Judge Advocate of the army the several seals and swords of state, surrendered at Oxford, under the fourth article of the treaty, to be disposed of as the two Houses should direct, and an order was immediately made, "that the King's Great Seal, sent by the general from Oxon, be defaced and broken." In the meantime, those seals were all delivered to Speaker Lenthal, to remain in his custody till the House should call for them.

The ceremony of breaking the King's Great Seal took place with much parade on the 11th of August, the day fixed for the installation of the parliamentary Lord Keeper. Len

"Articles of agreement concluded and agreed on by his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax, Knt., general of the forces raised by the parliament, on the one party, and the Right Honourable Sir Richard Lane, Knt., Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, &c., for and concerning the rendering of the garrison of Oxford."

Art. IV. "That the seals called the Great Seal, Privy Seal, the signets, and the seals of the King's Bench, Exchequer, Court of Wards, Duchy, Admiralty, and Prerogative, as also the sword of state, shall at such time and in the presence of two such persons as the General Sir Thomas Fairfax shall appoint, be locked up in a chest and left in the public library."— Whit. Mem. 210.

thal, appearing at the head of the Commons, produced it at the bar of the Lords. A smith being then sent for, it was by him openly defaced and broken, amidst much cheering,— and the fragments were equally divided between the Speakers of the two Houses.

CHAP.

LXVII.

career.

I should have been delighted to relate that Charles's last Lane's subLord Keeper lived in an honourable retirement during the sequent rule of those whom he considered rebels and usurpers, and survived to see the restoration of the monarchy under the son of his sainted Master; but I regret to say that I can find no authentic trace of him after the capitulation of Oxford. From the language of Lord Clarendon, it might be inferred that he expired soon after that misfortune*, while others represent that he followed Prince Charles to the Continent, and died in exile.

Wood relates that he left behind him a son, who applying to Whitelock for the books and effects left behind him in the Temple when he repaired to Oxford, was told by the republican that he had never known such a person. †

Considering Sir Richard Lane's spotless integrity, and his uniform adherence to his principles, - notwithstanding his comparative obscurity and his poverty, he is more to be honoured than many of his predecessors and successors who have left behind them a brilliant reputation, and ample possessions, and high dignities to their posterity.

Although the life of Charles was prolonged near two years and a half from the time when Lane surrendered the Great Seal to the parliament, yet he never appointed another Chancellor or Lord Keeper, and his reign may be considered as having then closed. We must therefore now take a retro- State of the spect of the changes which the law underwent while he was upon the throne.

law.

of Star Chamber.

In consequence of the abrupt dissolution and long inter- Abolition mission of parliaments, only fifty-one public acts were added to the statute-book in this reign, and by none of these was the letter of the law materially altered. But an unspeakable improvement

CHAP.
LXVII.

Triennial
Act.

Bill for ex

cluding Bishops

from par

liament.

was introduced into the practical administration of justice by
the suppression of the Star Chamber. Not only was the
pretension of legislating by proclamation gone with the power
of enforcing it, but trial by jury was secured to all who were
charged with common-law offences, and there was much less
danger of cruelty in the infliction of discretionary punishment
when the sentence was not to be pronounced by the ministers
of the Crown, who had instituted the prosecution, and who
tried to outbid each other for royal favour by the severity
they displayed.

The King, on the petition of the two Houses, agreed to
make out the Judges' patents quamdiu se bene gesserint, instead
of durante bene placito, but this concession, not being secured
by statute, was disregarded by his sons, and the independence
of the Judges was not properly provided for till the reign of
King William III.* There is no ground, however, for the
vulgar error, that the Judges were all removable at the will
of the Sovereign till the reign of King George III., who, in
reality, acquired his popularity on this subject merely by
taking away the power of his successors to remove Judges
on their first coming to the throne.

The Triennial Act† was a noble law, and framed for the real benefit of the Crown as well as of the subject, notwithstanding the stringent clauses authorising elections, on a certain contingency, without the King's writ. Had it not been inconsiderately repealed by Lord Clarendon, the Stuart dynasty might long have ruled over England.

Considering the insane conduct of the Bishops during the first two Stuart reigns, so severely condemned by Lord Clarendon and all true friends of the monarchy, it is not wonderful that the act should have passed for depriving them of their seats in the House of Lords; but I cannot consider this a permanent improvement in the constitution; for hereditary honours and wealth are so enervating, that the upper House could scarcely at all maintain its position without the infusion of fresh blood from the church as well as the law; and by reason of the talents and character of the right reverend

13 W. 3. c. 2.

16 Car. 1. c. 7.

16 Car. I. c. 27.

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