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The fourth point is concerning the communicating of the authority of the chancellor too far; and making, upon the matter, too many chancellors, by relying too much upon the reports of the masters of the chancery as concludent. I know, my lords, the masters of the chancery are reverend men; and the great mass of the business of the court cannot be sped without them; and it is a thing the chancellor may soon fall into for his own ease, to rely too much upon
them. But the course that I will take generally shall be this; I will make no binding order upon any report of one of the masters, without giving a seven-night's day at the least, to shew cause against the report, which nevertheless I will have done modestly, and with due reverence towards them: and again, I must utterly discontinue the making of an hypothetical or conditional order; that if a master of the chancery do certify thus and thus, that then it is so ordered without farther motion ; for that it is a surprise, and giveth no time for contradiction.
The last point of excess is, if a chancellor shall be so much of himself, as he shall neglect assistance of reverend judges in cases of difficulty, especially if they touch upon law, or calling them, shall do it but “pro forma tantum,” and give no due respect to their opinions: wherein, my lords, preserving the dignity and majesty of the court, which I account rather increased than diminished by grave and due assistance, I shall never be found so sovereign or abundant in mine own sense, but I shall both desire and make true use of assistance. Nay, I assure your lordships, if I should find any main diversity of opinion of my assistants from mine own, though I know well the judicature of the court wholly resteth in myself ; yet I think I should have recourse to the oracle of the king's own judgment, before I should pronounce. And so much for the temperate use of the authority of this court; for surely the health of a court, as well as of a body, consisteth in temperance.
For the second commandment of his majesty, touching staying of grants at the great seal; there may be just cause of stay, either in the matter of the grant, or in the manner of passing the same. Out of both which I extract these six principal cases which I will now make known: all which, nevertheless, I understand to be wholly submitted to his majesty's will and pleasure, after by me he shall have been informed; for if “ iteratum mandatum" be come, obedience is better than sacrifice.
The first case is, where any matter of revenue, or treasure, or profit, passeth from his majesty; my first duty shall be to examine, whether the grant hath passed in the due and natural course by the great officers of the revenue, the lord treasurer and chancel. lor of the exchequer, and with their privity ; which if I find it not to be, I must presume it to have passed in the dark, and by a kind of surreption ; and I will make stay of it till his majesty's pleasure be farther known.
Secondly, if it be a grant that is not merely vulgar, and hath not of course passed at the signet by a “ fac simile,” but needeth science, my duty shall be to examine whether it hath passed by the learned counsel and had their docket; which is that his majesty reads, and leads him. And if I find it other. wise, although the matter were not in itself inconvenient, yet I hold it a just cause of stay, for precedent's sake, to keep men in the right way.
Thirdly, if it be a grant which I conceive, out of my little knowledge, to be against the law; of which nature Theodosius was wont to say, when he was pressed, “ I spake it, or I wrote it, but I granted it not if it be unjust:" I will call the learned counsel to it, as well him that drew the book as the rest, or some of them: and if we find cause, I will inform his majesty of our opinion, either by myself or some of them. And as for the judges, they are judges of grants past, but not of grants to come, except the king call them.
Fourthly, if the grants be against the king's public book of bounty, I am expressly commanded to stay them until the king either revise his book in general, or give direction in particular.
Fifthly, if, as a counsellor of estate, I do foresee inconvenience to ensue by the grant in reason of estate, in respect of the king's honour, or discontent, and murmur of the people; I will not trust mine own judgment, but I will either acquaint his majesty with it, or the council table, or some such of my lords as I shall think fit.
Lastly, for matter of pardons; if it be for treason, misprision, murder, either expressed or involute, by a“ non-obstante;" or of piracy, or of “præmunire," or of fines, or exemplary punishment in the star-chamber, or some other natures; I shall by the grace of God stay them until his Majesty, who is the fountain of grace, may resolve between God and him, how far grace shall abound or super-abound.
And if it be of persons attainted and convicted of robbery, burglary, etc. then will I examine whether the pardons passed the hand of any justice of assize, or other commissioners, before whom the trial was made; and if not, I think it my duty also to stay them.
And your lordships see in this matter of the seal, and his Majesty's royal commandment concerning the same, I mean to walk in the light; so that men may know where to find me : and this publishing thereof plainly, I hope, will save the king from a great deal of abuse, and me from a great deal of envy; when men shall see that no particular turn or end leads me, but a general rule.
For the third general head of his Majesty's precepts concerning speedy justice, it rests much upon myself, and much upon others : yet so, as my procuration may give some remedy and order to it. For myself, I am resolved that my decree shall come speedily, if not instantly, after the hearing, and my signed decree speedily upon my decree pronounced. For it hath been a manner much used of late in my last lord's time, of whom I learn much to imitate, and somewhat to avoid; that upon the solemn and full hearing of a cause nothing is pronounced in court, but breviates are required to be made; which I do not dislike in itself in causes perplexed. For I con
s fess I have somewhat of the cunctative; and I am of
opinion, that whosoever is not wiser upon advice than upon the sudden, the same man was no wiser at fifty than he was at thirty. And it was my father's ordinary word, “You must give me time.” But yet I find when such breviates were taken, the cause was sometimes forgotten a term or two, and then set down for a new hearing, three or four terms after. And in
the mean time the subjects pulse beats swift, though : the chancery pace be slow. Of which kind of inter
mission I see no use, and therefore I will promise regularly to pronounce my decree within few days after my hearing ; and to sign my decree at the least in the vacation after the pronouncing. For fresh justice is the sweetest. And to the end that there be no delay of justice, nor any other means-making or labouring, but the labouring of the counsel at the bar.
Again, because justice is a sacred thing, and the end for which I am called to this place, and therefore is my way to heaven; and if it be shorter, it is never a whit the worse, I shall, by the grace of God, as far as God will give me strength, add the afternoon to the forenoon, and some fourth night of the vacation to the term, for the expediting and clearing of the causes of the court; only the depth of the three long vacations I would reserve in some measure free from business of estate, and for studies, arts and sciences, to which in my own nature I am most inclined.
There is another point of true expedition, which