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expect, and both set their hearts and my ears at rest; not moving me in any thing against these rules ; knowing that my answer is now turned from a “nolumus” into a “non possumus." It is no more, I will not, but, I cannot, after this declaration.
And this I do also under three cautions.
This first is, that there be some things of a more secret and council-like nature, more fit to be acted than published. But those things which I shall speak of to-day are of a more public nature.
The second is, that I will not trouble this presence with every particular, which would be too long; but select those things which are of greatest efficacy, and conduce most “ ad summas rerum ;* leaving many other particulars to be set down in a table, according to the good example of my
my last predecessor in his beginning.
And lastly, that these imperatives, which I have made but to myself and my times, be without prejudice to the authority of the court, or to wiser men that may succeed me; and chiefly that they are wholly submitted unto the great wisdom of my sovereign, and the absolute prince in judicature that hath been in the Christian world ; for if any of these things which I intend to be subordinate to his directions, shall be thought by his majesty to be inordinate, I shall be most ready to reform them. These things are but, “ tanquam album prætoris;" for so did the Roman prætors, which have the greatest affinity with the jurisdiction of the chancellor here, who used to set down at their entrance, how they would use their jurisdiction. And this I shall do, my lords, “ in verbis masculis;” no flourishing or painted words, but such as are fit to go before deeds.
The king's charge, which is my lanthorn, rested upon
The first was, that I should contain the jurisdiction of the court within its true and due limits, without swelling or excess.
The second, that I should think the putting of the great seal to letters patents was not a matter of course to follow after precedent warrants; but that I should take it to be the maturity and fulness of the king's intentions : and therefore of the greatest parts of my trust, if I saw therein any scruple or cause of stay, that I should acquaint him, concluding with a " Quod dubites ne feceris,"
The third was, that I should retrench all unnecessary delays, that the subject might find that he did enjoy the same remedy against the fainting of the soul and the consumption of the estate ; which was speedy justice. “ Bis dat, qui cito dat.”
The fourth was, that justice might pass with as easy charge as might be; and that those same brambles, that grow about justice, of needless charge and expense, and all manner of exactions, might be rooted out so far as might be.
These commandments, my lords, are righteous, and, as I may term them, sacred; and therefore to use a sacred form, I pray God bless the king for his great care over the justice of the land, and give me, his poor servant, grace and power to observe his precepts. Now for a beginning towards it, I have set down and applied particular orders to-day out of these four general heads.
For the excess or tumour of this court of chancery,
I shall divide it into five natures.
The first is, when the court doth embrace and retain causes, both in matter and circumstance merely determinable and fit for the common law; for, my lords, the chancery is ordained to supply the law, and not to subvert the law. Now to describe unto you or delienate what those causes are that are fit for the court, or not fit for the court, were too long a lecture. But I will tell you what remedy I have prepared. I will keep the keys of the court myself, and will never refer any demurrer or plea, tending to discharge or dismiss the court of the cause, to any master of the chancery, but judge of it myself, or at least the master of the rolls. Nay farther, I will appoint regularly, that on the Tuesday of every week, which is the day of orders, first to hear motions of that nature before any other, that the subject may have his "vale” at first without attending, and that the court do not keep and accumulate a miscellany and confusion of causes of all natures,
The second point concerneth the time of the complaint, and the late comers into the chancery ; which stay till a judgment be passed against them at the common law, and then complain : wherein your lordships may have heard a great rattle and a noise of a “præmunire," and I cannot tell what
But that question the king hath settled according to the ancient precedents in all times continued. And this I will say, that the opinion, not to relieve any case after judgment, would be a guilty opinion ; guilty of the ruin, and naufrage, and perishing of infinite subjects: and as the king found it well out, why should a man fly into the chancery before he be hurt? The whole need not the physician, but the sick. But, my lords, the power would be preserved, but the practice would be moderate. My rule shall be therefore, that in case of complaints after judgment, except the judgments be upon “ nihil dicit,” and cases which are but disguises of judgment, as that they be judgments obtained in contempt of a preceding order in this court, yea, and after verdicts also, I will have the party complainant enter into good bond to prove his suggestion : so that if he will be relieved against a judgment at common law upon matter of equity, he shall do it “ tanquam in vinculis," at his peril.
The third point of excess may be the over-frequent and facile granting of injunctions for the stay-. ing of the common laws, or the altering of possessions; wherein these shall be
rules. I will grant no injunction merely upon priority of suit ; that is to say, because this court was first possessed: a thing that was well reformed in the late lord chancellor's time, but usual in the chancellor Bromley's time; insomuch, as I remember, that Mr. Dalton the counsellor at law put a pasquil upon the court in nature of a bill; for seeing it was no more but, My lord, the bill came in on Monday, and the
arrest at common law was on Tuesday, I pray the injunction upon priority of suit : he caused his client that had a loose debtor, to put his bill into the chancery before the bond due to him was forfeited, to desire an order that he might have his money at the day, because he would be sure to be before the other. I do not mean to make it a matter of an horse-race who shall be first at Westminster-hall.
Neither will I grant an injunction upon matter contained in the bill only, be it never so smooth and specious; but upon matter confessed in the defendant's answer, or matter pregnant in writing, or of record; or upon contempt of the defendant in not appearing, or not answering, or trifling with the court by insufficient answering. For then it may be thought that the defendant stands out upon purpose to get the start at the common law, and so to take advantage of his own contempt; which may not be suffered.
As for injunctions for possession, I shall maintain possessions as they were at the time of the bill exhibited; and for the space of a year at the least before, except the possession were gotten by force or any trick.
Neither will I alter possession upon interlocutory orders, until a decree; except upon matter plainly confessed in the defendant's answer, joined also with a plain disability and insolvency in the defendant to answer the profits.
As for taking of possession away in respect of contempts, I will have all the process of the court spent first, and a sequestration of the profits before I come to an injunction.