Page images


yet that was the accident of the person, and not the some scandal to step between the king and his own intention of the place; and things were to be taken virtue; and that it was the duty of subjects rather in the institution, not in the practice.

to take honours from kings' servants and give them His lordship's second reason was, that both by to kings, than to take honours from kings and give philosophy and civil law, “ordinatio belli et pacis them to their servants : which he did very elegantly est absoluti imperii,” a principal flower of the crown; set forth in the example of Joab, who, lying at the which flowers ought to be so dear unto us, as we siege of Rabbah, and finding it could not hold out, ought, if need were, to water them with our blood : writ to David to come and take the honour of taking for if those 'flowers should, by neglect, or upon the town. facility and good affection, wither and fall, the gar- His lordship's last reason was, that it may cast land would not be worth the wearing.

some aspersion upon his Majesty ; implying, as if His lordship's third reason was, that kings did so the king slept out the sobs of his subjects, until he love to imitate primum mobile, as that they do not was awaked with the thunderbolt of a parliament. like to move in borrowed motions : so that in those But his lordship’s conclusion was very noble, things that they do most willingly intend, yet they which was with a protestation, that what civil endure not to be prevented by request: whereof he threats, contestation, art, and argument can do, hath did allege a notable example in king Edward III. been used already to procure remedy in this cause ; who would not hearken to the petition of his com- and a promise, that if reason of state did permit, as mons, that besought him to make the black prince their lordships were ready to spend their breath in prince of Wales: but yet, after that repulse of their the pleading of that we desire, so they would be petition, out of his own mere motion he created him. ready to spend their bloods in the execution thereof.

His lordship's fourth reason was, that it might be This was the substance of that which passed.






pal points, and certify my opinion thereof; reserving IT MAY PLEASE YOUR SACRED MAJESTY,

the rest as a sheaf by me to draw out, at farther With the first free time from your Majesty's ser- time, farther matter for your Majesty's information vice of more present despatch, I have perused the for so much as I shall conceive to be fit or worthy projects of Sir Stephen Proctor, and do find it a the consideration. collection of extreme diligence and inquisition, and For that part, therefore, of these projects which more than I thought could have met in one man's concerneth penal laws, I do find the purpose and knowledge. For though it be an easy matter to run scope to be, not to press a greater rigour or severity over many offices and professions, and to note in in the execution of penal laws; but to repress the them general abuses or deceits; yet, nevertheless, abuses in common informers, and some clerks and to point at and trace out the particular and covert under ministers, that for common gain partake with practices, shifts, devices, tricks, and, as it were, them : for if it had tended to the other point, I for stratagems in the meaner sort of the ministers of my part should be very far from advising your justice or public service, and to do it truly and un- Majesty to give ear unto it. For as it is said in the derstandingly, is a discovery whereof great good use psalm, “ If thou, Lord, should be extreme to mark may be made for your Majesty's service and good of what is done amiss, who may abide it?" so it is your people. But because this work, I doubt not, most certain, that your people is so insnared in a hath been to the gentleman the work of years, multitude of penal laws, that the execution of them whereas my certificate must be the work but of cannot be borne. And as it followeth ; " But with hours or days, and that it is commonly and truly thee is mercy, that thou mayest be feared :” so it is said, that he that embraceth much, straineth and an intermixture of mercy and justice that will bring holdeth the less, and that propositions have wings, you fear and obedience: for too much rigour makes but operation and execution have leaden feet; I people desperate. And therefore to leave this

, most humbly desire pardon of your Majesty, if I do which was the only blemish of king Henry VII.'s for the present only select some one or two princi- ' reign, and the unfortunate service of Empson and



Dudley, whom the people's curses, rather than any it is no composition, but law, brought to overthrow; the other work is a a discontinuance; and in work not only of profit to your Majesty, but of piety that case there is no petowards your people. For if it be true in any pro- nalty but costs: and the portion, that within these five years of your Ma- poor subject will never jesty's happy reign, there hath not five hundred sue for his costs, lest it pounds' benefit come to your Majesty by penal laws, awake the informer to rethe fines of the Star-chamber, which are of a higher vive his information, and kind, only excepted, and yet, nevertheless, there so it escapeth clearly. hath been a charge of at least fifty thousand pounds, 2. Informers receive 2. This is an abuse that which hath been laid upon your people, it were more pensions of divers persons appeareth not by any prothan time it received a remedy.

to forbear them. And ceeding in court, because This remedy hath been sought by divers statutes, this is commonly of prin- it is before suit comas principally by a statute in 18, and another of 31, cipal offenders, and of the menced, and therefore of the late queen of happy memory. But I am of wealthiest sort of trades requireth a particular opinion that the appointing of an officer proper for For if one trades- inquiry. that purpose, will do more good than twenty sta

may presume

But when it shall be tutes, and will do that good effectually, which these break the law, and an- the care and cogitation of statutes aim at intentionally.

other not, he will be soon one man to overlook inAnd this I do allow of the better, because it is richer than his fellows. formers, these things are none of those new superintendencies, which I see As for example, if one easily discovered: for let many times offered upon pretence of reformation, as draper may use tenters, him but look who they be if judges did not their duty, or ancient and sworn because he is in fee with that the informer calls in officers did not their duty, and the like: but it an informer, and others question, and hearken is only to set a custos or watchman, neither over not, he will soon outstrip who are of the same judges nor clerks, but only over a kind of people the good tradesman that trade in the same place that cannot be sufficiently watched or overlooked, keeps the law.

and are spared, and it and that is, the common promoters or informers : And if it be thought will be easy to trace a the very awe and noise whereof will do much good, strange that any man bargain. and the practice much more.

should seek his peace by In this case, having I will therefore set down first, what is the abuse one informer, when he discovered the abuse, he or inconvenience, and then what is the remedy lieth open to all, the ex- ought to inform the bawhich may be expected from the industry of this perience is otherwise: for rons of the exchequer, and officer. And I will divide it into two parts, the one informer will bear the king's learned counone, for that, that may concern the ease of your with the friend of an- sel, that by the Star-champeople, for with that will I crave leave to begin, as other, looking for the like ber, or otherwise, such knowing it to be principal in your Majesty's inten

taxers of the king's subtion, and the other for that, that may concern your And besides, they have jects may be punished. Majesty's benefit.

devices to get priority of

information, and to put in Concerning the ease of liis Majesty's subjects, an information de bene polled and vexed by common informers. esse, to prevent others,

and to protect their penThe abuses or incon- The remedies by the in

dustry of the officer.

And if it be said this is 1. An informer exhi- 1. The officer by his pillory matter to the inbits an information, and diligence finding this former, and therefore he in that one information case, is to inform the will not attempt it; alhe will put a hundred court thercof, who there- though therein the statute several subjects of this upon may grant good is a little doubtful; yet if information. Every one costs against the inform- hanging will not keep shall take out copies, and er, to every of the sub-thieves from stealing, it every one shall put in his jects vexed : and withal is not pillory will keep several answer. This will not suffer the same in- | informers from polling. cost perhaps a hundred former to revive his infor- And herein Sir Stephen marks: that done, no mation against any of addeth a notable circumfarther proceeding. But them; and lastly, fine stance: that they will pethe clerks have their fees, him, as for a misdemeanor ruse a trade, as of brewers and the informer hath his and abuse of justice : and or victuallers, and if any dividend for bringing the by that time a few of such stand out, and will not be water to the mill. examples be made, they in fee, they will find

It is to be noted, that will be soon weary of means to have a dozen this vexation is not met that practice.

informations come upon with by any statute. For

him at once.






3. The subject is often 3. The officer keeping | king if the suit prevail; delays therein used ; and for the same offence vexed a book of all the informa- of the ability of the per- lastly, he is to see that by several informations : tions put in, with a brief son, and the like. By the fines sessed be duly sometimes the one infor- note of the matter, may reason whereof, the fine put in process, and anmer not knowing of the be made acquainted with that is set is but a trifle, swered. other; and often by con- all informations to come as 20, 30, or 40s. and it federacy, to weary the in: and if he find a pre- runs in a form likewise party with charge: upon cedent for the same cause, which I do not well like: every of which goeth pro- he may inform some of the for it is ut parcatur misis, cess, and of every of them barons, that by their order which purporteth, as if he must take copies, and the receiving of the latter the party did not any make answers, and so re- may be stayed without way submit himself, and lieve himself by motion any charge to the party at take the composition as of the court if he can; all; so as it appear by the of grace of the court, but all which multiplieth due prosecution of the for- as if he did justify himcharge and trouble. mer, that it is not a suit self, and were content to

by collusion to protect the give a trifle to avoid


Which point of form Concerning the king's benefit which may grow by hath a shrewd consea moderate prosecution of some penal laws. quence: for it is some

ground that the fine is The abuses or incon.

set too weak. veniences.

The remedies.

And as for the inform1. After an informa- 1. The officer in this er's oath touching his tion is exhibited and an- point is to perform his composition which is swered, for so the statute greatest service to the commonly a trifle, and is requires, the informer for king, in soliciting for the the other ground of the the most part groweth to king, in such sort as li. smallness of the fine, it composition with the de- cences be duly returned, is no doubt taken with an fendant; which he can- the deceits of these frau- equivocation : as taking not do without peril of dulent compositions dis- such a sum in name of the statute, except he covered, and fines may a composition, and some have licence from the be set for the king in greater matter by some incourt, which licence he some good proportion, direct or collateral mean. ought to return by order having respect to the Also, these fines, light and course of the court, values both of the matter as they be, are seldom together with a declara- and the person; for the answered and put in protion upon his oath of the king's fines are not to be true sum that he takes delivered, moneys

2. An information go

2. The officer is to fol. for the composition. Up- given by the party, “ ad eth on to trial, and pass- low for the king, that the on which licence so re- redimendam vexatio-eth for the king. In posteas be returned. turned, the court is to tax nem,” but as moneys this case of recovery, the a fine for the king. given “ ad redimendam informer will be satisfied,

This ought to be but culpam et pænam legis;" and will take his whole as it is now used, the li- and ought to be in such moiety, for that he accence is seldom returned. quantity, as

counts to be no composiAnd although it contain make the laws altogether tion : that done, none will a clause that the licence trampled down and con- be at charge to return the shall be void, if it be not temned. Therefore the postea, and to procure duly returned; yet the officer ought first to be judgment and execution manner is to suggest that made acquainted with for the king. For the they are still in terms of every licence, that he may informer hath that he composition, and so to have an eye to the sequel sought for, the clerks will obtain new days, and to of it: then ought he to be do nothing without fees linger it on till a parlia- the person that ought to paid, which there being ment and a pardon come. prefer unto the judges or no man to prosecute, there

Also, when the licence barons, as well the bills can be no man likewise is returned, and thereupon for the taxations of the to pay; and so the king the judge or baron to sesse fines, as the orders for giv- loseth his moiety, when a fine; there is none for ing further days, to the his title appears by verthe king to inform them of end that the court may be dict. the nature of the offence; duly informed both of the 3. It falleth out some

3. The officer in such of the value to grow to the weight of causes, and the times in informations of

case is to inform the



may not

weight, and worthy to be king's learned counsel, There be other points wherein the officer may be prosecuted, the informer that they may prosecute of good use, which may be comprehended in his grant dieth, or falls to poverty, if they think fit.

or instructions, wherewith I will not now trouble or his mouth is stopped,

your Majesty, for I hold these to be the principal. and yet so as no man can

Thus have I, according to your Majesty's refercharge him with compo

ence, certified my opinion of that part of Sir Stephen sition, and so the matter

Proctor's projects, which concerneth penal laws : dieth.

which I do wholly and most humbly submit to your 4. There be sundry sei- 4. The officer is to Majesty's high wisdom and judgment, wishing zures made, in case where take knowledge of such withal that some conference may be had by Mr. the laws give seizures, seizures, and to give in-Chancellor and the barons and the rest of the learned which are released by formation to the court counsel, to draw the service to a better perfection. agreements underhand, concerning them. And most specially that the travels therein taken and so money wrested This is of more diffi- may be considered and discerned of by the lord from the subject, and no culty, because seizures are treasurer, whose care and capacity is such, as he benefit to the king. matter in fact, whereas doth always either find or choose that which is best

All seizures once made suits are matter of record: for your Majesty's service. ought not to be dis- and it may require more The recompence unto the gentleman, it is not my charged, but by order of persons to be employed, part to presume to touch, otherwise than to put the court, and therefore as at the ports, where is your Majesty in remembrance of that proportion, some entry ought to be much abuse.

which your Majesty is pleased to give to others out made of them.

of the profits they bring in, and perhaps with a great deal less labour and charge.









in your gracious answer to these our petitions. For

this we are persuaded, that the attribute which was The knights, citizens, and burgesses assembled in given by one of the wisest writers to two of the parliament, in the house of your commons, in all best emperors, “ Divus Nerva et divus Trajanus," humbleness do exhibit and present unto your most so saith Tacitus, “res olim insociabiles miscuerunt, sacred Majesty, in their own words, though by my imperium et libertatem ;" may be truly applied to hand, their petitions and grievances. They are your Majesty. For never was there such a conhere conceived and set down in writing, according servatory of regality in a crown, nor ever such a to ancient custom of parliament: they are also pre- protector of lawful freedom in a subject. faced according to the manner and taste of these Only this, excellent sovereign, let not the sound later times. Therefore for me to make any additional of grievances, though it be sad, seem harsh to your preface, were neither warranted nor convenient; | princely ears: it is but gemitus columbæ, the mournespecially speaking before a king, the exactness of ing of a dove: with that patience and humility of whose judgment ought to scatter and chase away heart which appertaineth to loving and loyal suball unnecessary speech as the sun doth a vapour. jects. And far be it from us, but that in the midst This only I must say; since this session of parlia of the sense of our grievances we should remember ment we have seen your glory in the solemnity of and acknowledge the infinite benefits, which by your the creation of this most noble prince; we have | Majesty, next under God, we do enjoy; which bind heard your wisdom in sundry excellent speeches us to wish unto your life fulness of days; and which you have delivered amongst us; now we unto your line royal, a succession and continuance hope to find and feel the effects of your goodness, I even unto the world's end.

It resteth, that unto these petitions here included I do add one more that goeth to them all; which is, that if in the words and frame of them there be any thing offensive ; or that we have expressed ourselves otherwise than we should or would; that your Majesty would cover it and cast the veil of your grace upon it; and accept of our good intentions, and help them by your benign interpretation.

Lastly, I am most humbly to crave a particular pardon for myself that have used these few words ; and scarcely should have been able to have used any at all, in respect of the reverence which I bear to your person and judgment, had I not been somewhat relieved and comforted by the experience, which in my service and access I have had of your continual grace and favour.










The knights, citizens, and burgesses of the house this true and effectual distribution, that there depended of commons, have commanded me to deliver to your upon tenures, considerations of honour, of conscience, lordships the causes of the conference by them and of utility. Of these three, utility, as his Maprayed, and by your lordships assented, for the se- jesty set it by for the present, out of the greatness cond business of this day. They have had report of his mind, so we set it by, out of the justness of made unto them faithfully of his Majesty's answer our desires : for we never meant but a goodly and declared by my lord treasurer, touching their hum-worthy augmentation of the profit now received, and ble desire to obtain liberty from his Majesty to treat not a diminution. But, to speak truly, that conof compounding for tenures. And first, they think sideration falleth naturally to be examined when themselves much bound unto his Majesty, that in re liberty of treaty is granted : but the former two innova, in which case princes use to be apprehensive, deed may exclude treaty, and cut it off before it be he hath made a gracious construction of their pro- admitted. position. And so much they know of that, that Nevertheless, in this that we shall say concerning belongs to the greatness of his Majesty, and the those two, we desire to be conceived rightly: we greatness of the cause, as themselves acknowledge mean not to dispute with his Majesty what belongeth they ought not to have expected a present resolu- to sovereign honour or his princely conscience; betion, though the wise man saith, “ Hope deferred is cause we know we are not capable to discern of the fainting of the soul.” But they know their them otherwise, than as men use sometimes to see duty to be to attend his Majesty's times at his good the image of the sun in a pail of water.

But this pleasure. And this they do with the more comfort, we say for ourselves, God forbid that we, knowingly, because that in his Majesty's answer, matching the should have propounded any thing, that might in times, and weighing the passages thereof, they our sense and persuasion touch either or both; and conceive, in their opinion, rather hope than dis- therefore herein we desire to be heard, not to inform couragement.

or persuade his Majesty, but to free and excuse But the principal causes of the conference now ourselves. prayed, besides these significations of duty not to And first, in general, we acknowledge that this be omitted, are two propositions. The one matter tree of tenures was planted into the prerogative by of excuse of themselves; the other, matter of pe- the ancient common law of this land : that it hath tition. The former of which grow's thus. Your been fenced in and preserved by many statutes, and lordship, my lord treasurer, in your last declaration that it yieldeth at this day to the king the fruit of a of his Majesty's answer, which, according to the great revenue. But yet, notwithstanding, if upon attribute then given unto it by a great counsellor, the stem of this tree may be raised a pillar of supbad imaginem Cæsaris fair and lively graven, made port to the crown permanent and durable as the

« PreviousContinue »