MATTHEW HALE, was Born at Alderly in Gloucestershire, the first of November, 1609. His Grandfather was Robert Hale, an E∣minent Clothier in Wotton-under-edge, in that County, where he and his Ancesters had lived for many Descents; and they had gi∣ven several parcels of Land for the use of the Poor, which were enjoyed by them to this day. Thus he was descended rather from a good, than a Noble Family, and yet what was wanting in the insignificant Titles of High Birth, and Noble Blood, was more than made up in the true worth of his Ancestors. But he was soon deprived of the Happiness of his Fathers Care and Instruction, for as he lost his Mother before he was three years old, so his Father died be∣fore he was five; so early was he cast on the Providence of God. But that unhappiness was in a great measure made up to him: For after some oppo∣sition made by Mr. Thomas Poyntz, his Uncle by his Mother, he was commit∣ted to the care of Anthony Kingscot, of Kingscot Esquire, who was his next Kinsman, after his Uncles, by his Mother. Great care was taken of his E∣ducation, and his Guardian intended to breed him to be a Divine, and being inclined to the way of those then called Puritans, put him to some Schools that were Taught by those of that party, and in the 17th year of his Age, sent him to Magdalen-Hall in Oxford, where Obadiah Sedgwick was his Tutor. He was an extraordinary Proficient at School, and for some time at Oxford. But the Stage-Players coming thither, he was so much corrupted by seeing many Plays, that he almost wholly forsook his Studies. By this he not only lost much time, but found that his Head came to be thereby filled with such vain Images of things, that they were at best Improfitable, if not hurtful to him; and being afterwards sensible of the Mischief of this, he resolved upon his coming to London, (where he knew the opportunities of such Sights would be more fre∣quent and Inviting) never to see a Play again, to which ho constantly ad∣hered. He was now so taken up with Martial matters, that instead of going on in his design of being a Scholar, or a Divine, he resolved to be a Sol∣dier: and his Tutor Sedwick going into the Low-Countries, Chaplain to the Renowned Lord Vere, and he resolved to go along with him, and to trail a Pike in the Prince of Orange's Army; but a happy stop was put to this Reso∣lution, which might have proved so fatal to himself, and have deprived the Age of the great Example he gave, and the useful Services he afterwards did his Country. He was engaged in a Suite of Law with Sir William Whitmore, who laid claim to some part of his Estate, and his Guardian being a Man of a retired temper, and not made for Business, he was forced to leave the University, after he had been three Years in it, and go to London to sollicite his own Bu∣siness. Being recommended to Serjeant Glanvill for his Counsellor, and he ob∣serving in him a clear apprehension of things, and a solid Judgment, and a great fitness for the study of the Law, took pains upon him to perswade him to forsake his thoughts of being a Soldier, and to apply himself to the study of the Law: and this had so good an effect on him, that on the 8th of No∣vember, 1629. when he was past the 20th Year of his Age, he was admitted into Lincolns-Inn: and being then deeply sensible how much time he had lost, and that Idle and Vain things had over-run and almost corrupted his mind, he resolved to Redeem the time he had lost, and followed his Studies with a dili∣gence that could scarce be believed, if the signal effects of it did not gain it Page 3Credit. He studied for many years at the rate of 16 Hours a day: he threw aside all fine Clothes, and betook himself to a plain fashion, which he conti∣nued to use in many points to his dying day.
Yet he did not at first break off from keeping too much Company with some vain People, till a sad Accident drove him from it, for he with some other young Students, being invited to be merry out of Town, one of the Company called for so much Wine, that notwithstanding all that Mr. Hale could do to prevent it, he went on in his Excess till he fell down as dead be∣fore them, so that all that were present, were not a little affrighted at it, who did what they could to bring him to himself again: This did particularly affect Mr. Hale, who thereupon went into another Room, and shutting the Door, fell on his Knees, and prayed earnestly to God, both for his Friend, that he might be restored to Life again; and that himself might be forgiven for giving such Countenance to so much Excess; and he vowed to God, that he would never again keep Company in that manner, nor drink a Health while he lived: His Friend recovered, and he most Religiously observed his Vow, till his Dying day. And though he was afterwards prest to drink Healths, particularly the Kings, which was set up by too many as a distinguishing mark of Loyalty, and drew many into great Excess after his Majesties happy Resto∣ration; but he would never dispense with his Vow, though he was sometimes roughly treated for this, which some hot and indiscreet Men called Obstinacy.
This wrought an entire change on him: now he forsook all vain Company, and divided himself between the Duties of Religion, and the Studies of his Profession; in the former he was so regular, that for 36 Years time, he ne∣ver once failed going to Church on the Lord's day; this observation he made when an Ague first interrupted that constant Course, and he reflected on it, as an Acknowledgement of God's great Goodness to him, in so long a Continuance of his health. He took a strict account of his time, of which the Reader will best judge, by the Scheme he drew for a Diary, which I shall insert Copied from the Original, but I am not certain when he made it; it is set down in the same Simplicity in which he writ it for his own private use.
- Morning. I. To lift up the heart to God in thankfulness for renewing my Life. II. To renew my Covenant with God in Christ. 1. By renewing Acts of Faith receiving Christ, and rejoyoing in the height of that Relation. 2. Resolution of being one of his People doing him Allegiance. III. Adoration and Prayer. IV. Setting a Watch over my own Infirmities and Passions, over the Snares laid in our way. Perimus licitis.
- Day Imployment. There must be an Imployment, two kinds. I. Our or∣dinary calling, to serve God in it. It is a Service to Christ though never so mean. Col. 3. Here Faithfulness, Diligence, Chearfulness. Not to overlay my self with more Business than I can bear. II. Our Spiritual Imployments: Mingle somewhat of God's Immediate Service in this day.
- Retrestments. I. Meat and Drink, Moderation seasoned with somewhat of God. II. Recreations. 1. Not our Business. 2. Sutable. No Games, if given to Covetousness or Passion.
- If alone. I. Beware of wandring vain lustful thoughts, fly from thy self rather than entertain these. II. Let thy Solitary thoughts be profitable, view the E∣vidences of thy Salvation, the state of thy Soul, the Coming of Christ, thy own Mortality, it will make thee humble and Watchful.
- Company. Do good to them. Use God's Name reverently. Beware of leaving an ill Impression of ill Example. Receive good from them, if more knowing.
- Evening. Cast up the Accompts of the Day. If ought amiss, Beg pardon. Ga∣ther resolution of more Vigilance. If well, Bless the Mercy and Grace of God that hath supported thee.
Page 4These Notes have an Imperfection in the Wording of them, which shews they were only intended for his Privacies. No wonder a Man who set such Rul s to himself, became quickly very Eminent and remarkable. Noy the Attorney General, being then one of the greatest Men of the Profession, took early notice of him, and called often for him, and directed him in his Study, and grew to have such Friendship for him, that he came to be called young Noy. He passing from the extream of Vanity in his Apparel, to that of neglecting himself too much, was once taken when there was a Press for the King's Service, as a fit Person for it; for he was a strong and well built Man: But some that knew him coming by, and giving notice who he was, the Press-Men let him go. This made him return to more decency in his Clothes, but never to any Superflulty or Vanity in them. Once as he was Buying some Cloath for a new Suit, the Draper with whom he differed about the Price, told him he should have it for nothing, if he would promise him a Hun∣dred Pound when he came to be Lord Chief Justice of England; to which he answered, That he could not with a good Conscience wear any Man's Cloath, unless he payed for it; so he satisfied the Draper, and carried away the Cloath. Yet that same Draper lived to see him advanced to that same dignity.
While he was thus improving himself in the Study of the Law, he not only kept the Hours of the Hall constantly in Term-time, and continued then to follow his Studies with an unwearied diligence; and not being satisfied with the Books writ about it, or to take things upon trust, was very diligent in searching all Records: Then did he make divers Collections out of the Books he had Read, and mixing them with his own Observations, digected them in∣to Common-place Book; which he did with so much Industry and Judgment, that an Eminent Judge of the Kings-Bench, borrowed it of when he was Lord Chief Baron: He unwillingly lent it, because it had been Writ by him be∣fore he was called to the Bar, and had never been throughly revised by him since that Time, only what Alterations had been made in the Law by subse∣quent Statutes, and Judgments, were added by him as they happened: but the Judge having perused it, said, That though it was Composed by him so early, he did not think any Lawyer in England could do it better, except he himself would again set about it. He set himself much to the Study of the Roman Law, and though he liked the way of Judicature in England by Juries, much better than that of the Civil Law, where so much was trusted to the Judge; yet he often said, that the true Grounds and Reasons of Law were so well de∣livered in the Digests, that a man could never understand Law as a Science so well as by seeking it there, and therefore lamented much that it was so little Studied in England. When he was called to the Barr, and began to make a Figure in the World, the late unhappy Wars broke out, in which it was no easie thing, for a Man to preserve his Integrity, and to live Securely, free from great danger and trouble. He had read the Life of Pompenious Atticus, writ by Nepos, and having observed, that he had passed through a time of much Distraction, as ever was in any Age or State, from the Wars of Marius and Scilla, to the beginnings of Augustus his Reign, without the least blemish on his Reputation, and free from any Considerable Danger, being held in great E∣steem by all Parties, and courted and favoured by them: He set him as a Pat∣tern to himself, and observing that besides those Virtues which are necessary to all Men, and at all times, there were two things that chiefly preseroed At∣ticus, the one was his engaging in no Faction, and medling in no publick Business, the other was his constant favouring and relieving those that were lowest, which was ascribed by such as prevailed to the Generosity of his Temper, and pro∣cured him much Kindness from those on whom he had exercised his Bounty, when it came to their turn to Govern: He resolved to guide himself by those Rules as much as possible for him to do. He not only avoided all publickPage 5Imployment, but the very talking of News, and was always both Favourable and Charitable to those who were deprest, and was sure never to provoke any in particular, by censuring or reflecting on their Actions; for many that have Conversed much with him, have told me they never heard him speak ill of any Person. He was imployed in his practice by all the King's party: He was as∣signed Council to the Earl of Strafford, and Arch-Bishop Laud, and afterwards to the Blessed King himself, when brought to the infamous Pageantry of a Mock-Tryal, and offered to plead for him with all the Courage that so Glorious a Cause ought to have inspired him with, but was not suffered to appear, because the King refusing, as he had good reason, to submit to the Court, it was pretended none could be admitted to speak for him. He was also Council for the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland, and the Lord Capel: His Plea for the former of these I have published in the Memories of the Duke's Life. After∣wards also being Council to the Lord Craven, he pleaded with that force of Ar∣gument, that the then Attorney-General, threatned him for appearing against the Government; to whom he answered, he was Pleading in defence of those Laws, which they declared they would maintain and preserve, and he was doing his duty to his Client, so that he was not to be daunted with Threatnings.
Cromwell seeing him possest of so much Practice, and he being one of the Emi∣nentest Men of the Law, who was not at all affraid of doing his Duty in those Critical Times, resolved to take him off from it, and raise him to the Bench.
To these were added the Importunities of all his Friends, who thought that in time of so much Danger and Oppression, it might be no small Security to the Nation, to have a Man of his Integrity and Abilities on the Bench: and the Usurpers themselves held him in that Estimation, that they were glad to have him give a Countenance to their Courts, and by promoting one that was known to have different Principles from them; affected the Reputation of Honouring and trusting Men of Eminent Virtues, of what perswasion soever they might be, in relation to publick Matters. Not long after he was made a Judge, which was in the year 1653. when he went the Circuit, a Tryal was brought before him at Lincoln, concerning the Murther of one of the Townsmen, who had been of the King's Party, and was killed by a Soldier of the Garrison there. He was in the Fields with a Fowling-piece on his Shoulder, which the Soldier seeing, he came to him and said, it was contrary to an Order which the Protector had made, That none who had been of the King's Party shall carry Arms; and so he would have forced it from him; But as the other did not regard the Order, so being stron∣ger than the Soldier, he threw him down, and having beat him, he left him: The Soldier went into the Town, and told one of his fellow Soldiers how he had been used, and got him to go with him, and lie in wait for the Man that he might be revenged on him. They both watched his coming to Town, and one of them went to demand his Gun, which he refusing, the Soldier struck at him, and as they were strugling, the other came behind and ran his Sword into his Body, of which he presently died. It was in the time of the Assizes, so they were both tryed: against the one there was no Evidence of forethought Felony, so he was only found guilty of Man-slaughter, and Burnt on the Hand; but the other was found guilty of Murther: And though Colonel Whaley that comman∣ded the Garrison, came into the Court and urged, That the Man was Killed only for disobeying the Protector's Orders, and that the Soldier was but doing his Duty; yet the Judge regarded both his Reasonings and Threatnings very little, and therefore he not only gave Sentence against him, but ordered the Execution to be so suddenly done, that it might not be possible to procure a Re∣prieve, which he believed would have been obtained, if there had been time enough granted for it. Another occasion was given him of shewing both his Justice and Courage, when he was in another Circuit; he understood that the Protector had ordered a Jury to be returned for a Tryal, in which he was morePage 6than ordinarily concerned: Upon this Information, he Examined the Sheriff about it, who knew nothing of it, for he said he referred all such things to the under-Sheriff, and having next asked the under-Sheriff concerning it, he found the Jury had been returned by order from Cromwell; upon which he shewed the State, that all Juries ought to be returned by the Sheriff or his lawful Officer; And this not being done according to Law, he dismissed the Jury, and would not try the Cause: Upon which the Protector was highly displeased with him, and at his return from the Circuit, he told him in Anger he was not fit to be a Judge; to which all the Answer he made was, That it was very True.
Another thing met him in the Circuit, upon which he resolved to have pro∣ceeded severely: Some Anabaptists had rushed into a Church, and had disturb∣ed a Congregation, while they received the Sacrament, not without some Vio∣lence; At this he was highly offended, for he said it was intollerable for Men, who pretended so highly to Liberty of Conscience, to go and disturb others; especially those who had the Encouragement of the Law on their side: But these were so sup∣ported by some great Magistrates and Officers, that a stop was put to his pro∣ceedings; upon which he declared, he would meddle no more with the Tryals on the Crown-site. When Penruddocks Tryal was brought on, there was a special Messenger sent to him requiring him to assist at it. It was in Vacation-time, and he was at his Country-House at Alderly: he plainly refused to go, and said, the four Terms and two Circuits were enough, and the little Interval that was between, was little enough for their private Affairs; and so he excused himself; he thought it was not necessary to speak more clearly, but if he had been urged to it, he would not have been affraid of doing it. He was at that time chosen a Parliament-Man, (for there being then no House of Lords, Judges might have been chosen to sit in the House of Commons) and he went to it, on design to ob∣struct the Mad and Wicked Projects then on foot, by two parties, that had very different Principles and ends. Thus he continued administring Justice till the Protector dyed, but then he both refused the Mournings that were sent to him and his Servants for the Funeral, and likewise to accept of the New Commission that was offered him by Richard; and when the rest of the Judges urged it upon him, and imployed others to press him to accept of it, he rejected all their Im∣portunities, and said he could act no longer under such Authority. He lived a pri∣vate man till the Parliament met that called home the King, to which he was re∣turned Knight of the Shire from the County of Gloucester. In that Parliament he bore his share, in the happy period then put to the Confusions that threatned the utter Ruin of the Nation. Soon after this, when the Courts in Westminster-Hall came to be settled, he was made Lord Chief Baron; and when the Earl of Clarendon (then Lord Chancellor) delivered him his Commission, in the Speech he made according to the Custom on such Occasions, he expressed his Esteem of him in a very singular manner, telling him among other things, That if the King could have found out an honester and fitter Man for that Imployment, he would not have advanced him to it; and that he had therefore preferred him, because he knew none that deserved it so well. It is ordinary for Persons so promoted to be Knighted, but he desired to avoid having that Honour done him, and therefore for a considerable time declined all Opportunities of waiting on the King, which the Lord Chancellor observing, sent for him upon Business one day, when the King was at his House, and told his Majesty there was his modest Chief Baron; upon which he was unexpectly Knighted. He continued eleven Years in that Place, managing the Court and all Procedings in it with singular Justice. It was ob∣served by the whole Nation, how much he raised the Reputation and Practice of it: And those who held Places and Offices in it, can all declare, not only the Impartiality of his Justice, for that is but a common Virtue, but his Generosity, his vast Diligence, and his great Exactness in Tryals. This gave occasion to the only Complaint that ever was made of him, That he did not dispatch Matters Page 7quick enough; but the great care he used to put Suits to an End, as it made him slower in deciding them; so it had this good Effect, that Causes tryed before him, were seldom if ever tryed again. Nor did his Administration of Justice lie only in that Court: He was one of the principal Judges that sat in Cliffords-Inn, about settling the difference between Landlord and Tenant, after the Dread∣ful Fire of London: He being the first that offered his Service to the City, for accommodating all the Differences that might have arisen about the Rebuilding it, in which he behaved himself to the satisfaction of all Persons concerned; so that the suddain and quiet Building ofthe City, which is justly to be Reckoned one of the Wonders of the Age, is in no small measure due to the great Care which heand Sir Orlando Bridgeman (then Lord Chief Justice of the Common-Pleas, afterwards Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England) used, and to the Judgment they shewed in that Affair: since without the Rules then laid down, there might have otherwise followed such an endless train of vexatious Suits, as might have been little less chargeable than the Fire it self had been. But without detracting from the Labours of the other Judges, it must be acknowledged that he was the most Instrumental in that great Work; for he first by way of Scheme, contri∣ved the Rules upon which he and the rest proceeded afterwards; in which his readiness in Arithmetick and his skill in Architecture were of use to him.
But it will not seem strange that a Judge behaved himself as he did, who at the Entry into his Imployment, set such excellent Rules to himself, which will appear in the following Paper Copied from the Original under his own Hand.
Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance.
- I. That in the Alministration of Justice, I am intrusted for God, the King and Country; and therefore,
- II. That it be done, 1. Ʋprightly, 2. Delibe∣rately, 3. Resolutely.
- III. That I rest not upon my own Ʋnderstanding or Strength, but Implore and rest upon the Di∣rection and Strength of God.
- IV. That in the Execution of Justice, I carefully lay aside my own Passions, and not give way to them, however provoked.
- V. That I be wholly intent upon the Business I am about, remitting all other Cares and Thoughts, as unseasonable and Interruptions.
- VI. That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any Judgment at all, till the whole Business and both Parties be beard.
- VII. That I never engage my self in the begin∣ning of any Cause, but reserve my self unpre∣judiced till the whole be heard.
- VIII. That in Business Capital, though my Na∣ture prompt me to Pity; yet to consider, that there is also a Pity due to the Country.
- IX. That I be not too Riged in Matters purely Conscientious, where all the barm is Diversity of Judgment.
- X. That I be not byassed with Compassion to the Poor, or favour to the Rich, in point of Justice.
- XI. That Popular, or Court-Applause, or Distaste, have no Influence into any thing I do in point of Distribution of Justice.
- XII. Not to be sollicitous what Men will say or think, so long as I keep my self exactly ac∣cording to the Rule of Justice.
- XIII. If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to Mercy and Acquittal.
- XIV. In Criminals that consist merely in Words, when no more ensues, Moderation is no Injustice.
- XV. In Criminals of Blood, if the Fact be Evi∣dent, Severity is Justice.
- XVI. To abhor all private Sollicitations, of what kind soever, and by whom soever, in matters Depending.
- XVII. To charge my Servants, 1. Not to inter∣pose in any Business whatsoever, 2. Not to take more than their known F•es, 3. Not to give any undue precedence to Causes, 4. Not to recom∣mend Council.
- XVIII. To be short and sparing at Meals, that I may be the fitter for Business.
He would neve receive private Addresses or Recommendations from the grea∣test Persons in any matter, in which Justice was concerned. One of the first Peers of England went once to his Chamber and told him, That having a Suit in Law to be tryed before him, he was then to acquaint him with it, that he might the better understand it, when it should come to be heard in Court. Upon which the Lord Chief Baron interrupted him, and said, He did not deal fairly to come to his Chamber about such Affairs, for he never received any Information of Causes but in open Court, where both Parties were to be heard alike; so he would not suffer him to go on: Whereupon his Grace (for he was a Duke) went away not a little dissa∣tisfied, and complained of it to the King, as a Rudeness that was not to be en∣dured.Page 8But his Majesty bid him content himself that he was no worse used; and said, he verily believed he would have used himself no better, if he had gone to sollicite him in any of his own Causes.
Another passage fell out in one of his Circuits, which was somewhat censured as an affectation of an unreasonable strictness, but it flowed from his Exactness, to the Rules he had set himself: A Gentleman had sent him a Buck for his Table, that had a Tryal at the Assizes; so when he heard his Name, he asked if he was not the same Person that sent him Venison; and finding he was the same, he told him, He could not suffer the Tryal to go on, till he had paid him for his Buck; to which the Gentleman answered, That he never sold his Venison, and that he had done nothing to him, which he did not do to every Judge that had gone that Circuit; which was confirmed by several Gentlemen then present: but all would not do, for the Lord Chief Baron had learned from Solomon, that A Gift perverteth the ways of Judgment, and therefore he would not suffer the Tryal to go on, till he had paid for the Present; upon which the Gentleman withdrew the Record; And at Salisbury the Dean and Chapter having according to Custom, presented him with six Sugar-Loaves in his Circuit, he made his Servants pay for the Sugar before he would try their Cause.
He looked with great Sorrow on the Impiety and Atheism of the Age, and so set himself to oppose it, not only by the shining Example of his own Life, but by engaging in a Cause that indeed could hardly fall into better hands: And as he could not find a subject more worthy of himself, so there were few in the Age that understood it so well, and could manage it more skilfully. The occa∣sion that first led him to Write about it was this. He was a strict observer of the Lords-Day, in which, besides his constancy in the publick Worship of God, he used to call all his Family together, and repeat to them the Heads of the Ser∣mons, with some Additions of his own, which he fitted for their Capacities, and Circumstances; and that being done, he had a Custom of shutting himself up for two or three Hours, which he either spent in his secret Devotions, or on such profitable Meditations as did then occur to his thoughts.
While the Judge was thus imploying his time, the Lord Chief Justice Keyling dying, he was on the 18th of May, 1671. promoted to be Lord Chief Justice of England. He had made the Pleas of the Crown one of the Chief Studies, and by much search, and long Observation, had composed that Great Work concern∣ing them, formerly mentioned: He that holds the high Office of Justiciary in that Court, being the Chief Trustee, and Assertor of the Liberties of his Coun∣try; all People applauded this Choice, and thought their Liberties could not be better deposited than in the hands of one, that as he understood them well, so he had all the Justice and Courage that so sacred a Trust required. One thing was much observed and commended in him, that when there was great Inequality in the Ability and Learning in the Councellors that were to Plead one against an∣other: He thought it became him, as the Judge, to supply that; so he would enforce what the weaker Council managed but indifferently, and not suffer the more Learned to carry the Business by the Advantage they had over the others in their quickness and skill in Law, and readiness in Pleading, till all things were cleared in which the Merits and Strength of the ill defended Cause lay. He was not satisfied barely to give his Judgment in Causes, but did especially in all Intricate ones, give such an Account of the Reasons that prevailed with him, that the Council did not only acquiesce in his Authority, but were so convinced by his Reasons, that I have heard many profess that he brought them often to change their Opinions; so that his giving of judgment was really a learned Lecture upon that point of Law; and which was yet more, the Parties themselves, though In∣terest does too commonly corrupt the Judgment, were generally satisfied with the Justice of his decisions, even when they were made against them. His Impartial Justice, and great Diligence, drew the Chief Practice after him, into whatsoeverPage 9Court he came: Since, though the Courts of Common Pleas, the Exchequer and the Kings-Bench, are appointed for the Tryal of Causes of different Natures, yet it is easie to bring most Causes in∣to any of them, as the Council of Attornies please; so as he had drawn the Business much after him. both into the Common-Pleas, and the Exchequer, it now followed him into the Kings-Bench, and many Causes that were depending in the Exchequer and not determined, were let fall there, and brought again before him in the Court to which he was now removed. And here did he spend the rest of his publick Life and Imployment: But about four Years and a half after this Ad∣vancement, he who had hitherto enjoyed a firm and vigorous Health, to which his great Tempe∣rance, and the Equality of his Mind, did not a little conduce, was on a sudden brought very low by on Inflamation in his Midriff, which in two days time broke the Constitution of his Health to such a degree, that he never recovered it; He became so Asthmatical, that with great difficulty he could fetch his Breath, that determined in a Dropsie, of which he afterwards Died. He under∣stood Physick so well, that considering his Age, he concluded his Distemper must carry him off in a little time; and therefore he resolved to have some of the last Mouths of his Life reserved to himself, that being freed of all Worldly Cares, he might be preparing for his Change: He was also much disabled in his Body, that he could hardly, tho' supported by his Servants, walk through Westminster-Hall, or endure the Toil of Business; he had been a long time wearied with the di∣stractions that his Imployment had brought on him, and his Profession was become ungrateful to him; he loved to apply himself wholly to better Purposes, as will appear by a Paper that he writ on this subject, which I shall here Insert.
First; If I consider the Business of my Profession, whether as an Advocate, or as a Judge, it is true I do acknowledge by the Institution of Almighty God, and the Dispensation of his Providence, I am bound to Industry and Fidelity in it: And as it is an act of Obedience unto his Will, it carries with it some things of Religious Duty, and I may and do take Comfort in it, and expect a Reward of my Obedience to him, and the good that I do to Mankind therein, from the bounty, and beneficence, and providence of Almighty God; and it is true also that without such Employments, civil Societies can∣not be supported, and great Good redounds to Mankind from them; and in these respects the Con∣science of my own Industry, Fidelity and Integrity in them, is a great Comfort and Satisfaction to me. But yet this I must say concerning these Employments, confidered simply in themselves, that they are very full of Cares, Anxieties and Perturbations.
Secondly; That though they are beneficial to others, yet they are of the least Benefit to him that is employed in them.
Thirdly; That they do necessarily involve the party, whose Office it is, in great Dangers, Diffi∣culties, and Calumnies.
Fourthly; That they only serve for the Meridian of this Life, which is short and uncertain.
Fifthly; That though it be my Duty, faithfully to serve in them, while I am called to them, and till I am duly called from them, yet they are great Consumers of that little Time we have here, which as it seems to me, might be better spent in a pious contemplative Life, and a due provision for E∣ternity: I do not know a better temporal Employment than Martha had, in testifying her Love and Duty to our Saviour, by making provision for hm, yet our Lord tells her, That though she was troubled about many things, there was only one thing necessary, and Mary had chosen the better part.
By this the Reader will see that he continued in his Station upon no other Consideration, but that being set in it by the Providence of God, he judged he could not abandon that Post which was assigned him, without perferring his own private Inclination to the Choice God had made for him; but now that same Providence having by this great Distemper disengaged him from the Obligation of holding a Place, which he was no longer able to discharge, he resolved to resign it.
At last having wearied himself, and all his Friends, with his importunate Desires, and growing sensibly weaker in Body, he did upon the 21st day of February, 28 Car. 2. Anno Dom. 167.56. go before a Master of the Chancery, with a little Parchment-Deed, drawn by Himself, and Writ∣ten all with his own Hand, and there sealed and delivered it, and acknowledged it to be Enrolled, and afterwards he brought the Original Deed to the Lord Chancellor, and did formally surrender his Office. As soon as he was discharged from his great Place, he returned home with as much Chearfulness as his want of Health could admit of, being now eased of a Burthen he had been of late groaning under, and so made more capable of Enjoying that which he had much wished for, according to his Elegant Translation of, or rather Paraphrase upon, those excellent Lines in Se∣neca's Thyestes. Act. 2.
Page 10He could not lie down in Bed above a Year before his Death, by reason of the Asthma, but sat, rather than lay in it. He was attended on in his Sickness, by a Pious and Worthy Divine, Mr. Evan Griffith, Minister of the Parish; and it was observ'd, that in all the Extremities of his Pain, when ever he pray'd by him, he forbore all Complaints, or Groans, but with his Hands and Eyes lifted up, was fixed in his Devotions: Not long before his Death, the Minister told him, There was to be a Sacrament next Sunday at Church, but he believed he could not come and partake with the rest; therefore he would give it to him in his own House: But he an∣swer'd▪ No; his Heavenly Father had prepared a Feast for him, and he would go to his Father's House to partake of it: So he made himself be carried thither in his Chair, where he received the Sacrament on his Knees, with great Devotion, which it may be supposed was the greater, because he apprehended it was to be his Last, and so took it as his Viaticum and Provision for his Journey. He had some secret unaccountable Presages of his Death; for he said, that if he did not die on such a Day, (which fell to be the 25th of November,) he believed he should live a Month longer, and he died that very day Month. He continued to enjoy the free use of his Reason and Sence to the last Moment, which he had often and earnestly prayed for during his Sickness: And when his Voice was so sunk that he could not •e heard, they perceived by the almost constant lifting up of his Eyes and Hands, that he was still Aspiring towards that Blessed State, of which he was now speedi∣ly to be possessed. He had for many Years a particular Devotion for Christmas-Day, and after he had received the Sacrament, and been in the performance of the publick Worship of that Day, he commonly wrote a Copy of Verses on the Ho∣nour of his Saviour, as a fit Expression of the Joy he felt in his Soul, at the return of that Glorious Anniversary. There are 17 of those Copies printed, which he writ on 17 several Christmas-Days, by which the World▪ has a Taste of his Poetical Genius, in which, if he had thought it worth his time to have Excelled, he might have been Eminent as well as in other things; but he writ them rather to enter∣tain himself, than to merit the Lawrel. I shall here add one which has not been yet printed, and it is not unlikely it was the last he writ; it is a Paraphrase on Si∣meon▪s Song; I take it from his blotted Copy not at all finished, so the Reader is to make Allowance for any Imperfection he may find in it.
Thus he used to Sing on the former Christmas-Days, but now he was to be ad∣mitted to bear his part in the new Songs above; so that Day which he had spent in so much Spiritual Joy, proved to be indeed the Day of his Jubilee and Delive∣rance; for, between two and three in the Afternoon, he breathed out his Righte∣ous and Pious Soul. His End was Peace, he had no Struglings, nor seem'd to be in any Pangs in his last Moments. He was Buried on the 4th of January, Mr. Griffith Preaching the Funeral Sermon, his Text was the 57th of Isa. verse 1. The Page 11Righteous perisheth, and no Man layeth it to Heart; and Merciful Men are taken a∣way, none considering that the Right eous is taken away from the Evil to come. Which how fitly it was applicable upon this occasion, all that consider the course of his Life, will easily conclude.
It has appeared in the Account of his various Learning, how great his Capaci∣ties were, and how much they were improved by constant Study: He rose always early in the Morning, he loved to walk much abroad, not only for his Health, but he thought it opened his Mind, and enlarged his Thoughts to have the Creation of God before his Eyes. When he set himself to any Study, he used to cast his Design in a Scheme, which he did with a great exactness of Method; he took no∣thing on Trust, but pursued his Enquiries as far as they could go; and as he was humble enough to confess his Ignorance, and submit to Mysteries which he could not comprehend, so he was not easily imposed on, by any shews of Reason, or the Bugbears of vulgar Opinions: He brought all his Knowledge as much to Scientifical Principles, as he possibly could, which made him neglect the Study of Tongues, for the bent of his Mind lay another way. Discoursing once of this to some, they said, They looked on the Common Law, as a Study that could not be brought into a Scheme, nor formed into a Rational Science, by reason of the Indi∣gestedness of it, and the Multipliciry of the Cases in it, which rendred it very hard to be understood, or reduced into a Method; But he said, He was not of their Mind: and so quickly after, he drew with his own Hand, a Scheme of the whole Order, and Parts of it, in a large Sheet of Paper, to the great Satisfaction of those to whom he sent it. Upon this Hint, some pressed him to Compile a Body of the English Law; It could hardly ever be done by a Man who knew it better, and would with more Judgment and Industry have put it into Method: But he said, As it was a Great and Noble Design, which would be of vast Advantage to the Nation; so it was too much for a private Man to undertake: It was not to be Entred upon, but by the Command of a Prince, and with the Communicated En∣deavours of some of the most Eminent of the Profession. He had great vivacity in his Fancy, as may appear by his Inclination to Poetry, and the lively Illustrations, and many tender Strains in his Contemplations; but he look'd on Eloquence and Wit, as things to be used very chastly, in serious Matters, which should come un∣der a severer Inquiry: Therefore he was both, when at the Bar, and on the Bench, a great Enemy to all Eloquence or Rhetorick in Pleading: He said, If the Judge or Jury had a right Understanding, it signified nothing, but a waste of Time, and loss of Words; and if they were weak, and easily wrought on, it was a more decent way of corrupting them, by bribing their Fancies, and biassing their Affections; and wondred much at that affectation of the French Lawyers, in imitating the Roman Orators in their Pleadings. For the Oratory of the Romans was occasion'd by their popular Government, and the Factions of the City, so that those who intended to excell in the Pleading of Causes, were trained up in the Schools of the Rhetors, till they became ready and expert in that luscious way of Discourse. It is true, the Composures of such a Man as Tully was, who mixed an extraordinary Quickness, an exact Judgment, and a just Decorum with his skill in Rhetorick, do still entertain the Readers of them with great Pleasure: But at the same time, it must be acknowledged, that there is not that chastity of Style, that closeness of Reasoning, nor that justness of Figures in his Orations, that is in his other Writings; so that a great deal was said by him, rather because he knew it would be acceptable to hsi Auditors, than that it was approved of by himself; and all who read them, will acknowledge, they are better pleased with them, as Essays of Wit and Style, than as Pleadings, by which such a Judge as ours was, would not be much wrought on. And if there are such Grounds to censure the performances of the greatest Master in Eloquence, we may easily infer what nauseous Discourses the other Orators made, since in Oratory as well as in Poetry, none can do Indifferently. So our Judge wondred to find the French, thatPage 12live under a Monarchy, so fond of imitating that which, was an ill Effect of the Popular Government of Rome: He therefore pleaded himself always in few Words, and home to the Point: And when he was a Judge, he held those that Pleaded be∣fore him, to be the main Hinge of the Business, and cut them short when they made Excursions about Circumstances of no Moment, by which he saved much time, and made the chief Difficulties be well Stated and Cleared.
He had a Soul enlarged and raised above that mean Appetite of loving Money, which is generally the Root of all Evil. He did not take the Profits that he might have had by his Practice; for in common Cases, when those who came to ask this Council gave him a Piece, he used to give back the half, and so made Ten Shil∣lings his Fee, in ordinary Matters that did not require much Time or Study: If he saw a Cause was Unjust, he for a great while would not meddle further in it, but to give his Advice that it was so: If the Parties after that, would go on, they were to seek another Councellor, for he would assist none in Acts of Inju∣stice: If he found the Cause doubtful, or weak in point of Law, he always advi∣sed his Clients to agree their Business: Yet afterwards he abated much of the Scrupulosity he had about Causes that appeared at first view Injust, upon this oc∣casion: There were two Causes brought to him, which by the ignorance of the Party or their Attorney, were so ill represented to him, that they seem'd to be very bad: but he enquiring more narrowly into them, found they were really very good and just; so after this he slackned much of his former Strictness, of re∣fusing to meddle in Causes upon the ill Circumstances that appear'd in them at first. In his pleading he abhorred those too common Faults of misreciting Evi∣dences, quoting Presidents, or Books falsty, or asserting things Confidently; by which ignorant Juries, or weak Judges, are too often wrought on. He pleaded with the same Sincerity that he used in the other parts of his Life, and used to say, it was as great a Dishonour as a Man was capable of, that for a little Money he was to be hired to sav or do otherwise than as he thought: All this he ascribed to the unmeasurable Desire of heaping up Wealth, which corrupted the Souls of some that seem'd to be otherwise born and made for great Things. When he was a Practitioner, Differences were often refer'd to him, which he setled, but would accept of no Reward for his Pains, tho' offer'd by both Parties together, after the Agreement was made; for he said in those Cases he was made a Judge, and a Judge ought to take no Money. If they told him, he lost much of his Time in con∣sidering their Business, and so ought to be acknowledged for it; his answer was (as one that heard it, told me) Can I spend my Time better, than to make People friends, must I have no time allowed me to do Good in. He laid aside the Tenth Fenny of all he got for the Poor, and took great care to be well informed of proper Objects for his Charities: And after he was a Judge, many of the Per∣quisites of his Place, as his Dividend of the Rule and Box-moneys, was sent by him to the Jayls to discharge poor Prisoners, who never knew from whose hands their Relief came. It is also a Custom for the Marshal of the Kings-Bench, to present the Judges of that Court with a piece of Plate for a New-years-gift, that for the Chief Justice being larger than the rest: This he intended to have re∣fused, but the other Judges told him it belonged to his Office, and the refusing it would be a prejudice to his Successors; so he was perswaded to take it, but he sent word to the Marshal, That instead of Plate, he would bring him the value of it in Money: And when he received it, he immediately sent it to the Prisons, for the Relief and discharge of the Poor there. He usually invited his poor Neighbours to Dine with him, and made them sit at a Table with himself: And if any of them were Sick, so that they could not come, he would send Meat warm to them from his Table: And he did not only relieve the Poor in his own Parish, but sent Supplies to the Neighbouring Parishes, as there was oc∣casion for it: And he treated them all with the tenderness and familiarity that became one, who considered they were of the same Nature with himself, andPage 13were reduced to no other Necessities but such as he himself might be brought to: But for common Beggars, if any of these came to him, as he was in his Walks, when he lived in the Country, he would ask such as were capable of Working, Why they went about so idly? If they answered, It was because they could not find Work; he often sent them to some Field, to gather all the Stones in it, and lay them on a Heap, and then would pay them liberally for their Pains: This be∣ing done, he used to send his Carts, and caused them to be carried to such places of the Highway as needed mending. But when he was in Town, he dealt his Charities very liberally, even among the Street-Beggars, and when some told him, That he thereby encouraged Idleness, and that most of these were notori∣ous Cheats: He used to answer, That he believed most of them were such, but among them there were some that were great Objects of Charity, and prest with grievous Necessities; and that he had rather give his Alms to twenty who might be perhaps Rogues, than that one of the other sort should perish for want of that small Relief which he gave them.
The Judge was of a most tender and compassionate Nature; this did emi∣nently appear in his Trying and giving Sentence upon Criminals, in which he was strictly careful, that not a Circumstance should be neglected, which might any way clear the Fact: He behaved himself with that regard to the Prisoners, which became both the gravity of a Judge, and the pity that was due to Men, whose Lives lay at Stake, so that nothing of Jearing or unreasonable Severity ever fell from him. He also examined the Witnesses in the softest manner, ta∣king care that they should be put under no Confusion, which might disorder their Memory: and he Summed all the Evidence so equally when he charged the Jury, that the Criminals never complained of him. When it came to him to give Sentence, he did it with that Composedness and Decency, and his Speeches to the Prisoners, directing them to prepare for Death, were so Weighty, and so free of all Affectation, and so Serious and Devout, that many loved to go to the Tryals when he sate Judge, to be edified by his Speches, and behaviour in them, and used to say, they heard very few such Sermons.
But though the pronouncing the Sentence of Death, was the piece of his Im∣ployment, that went most against the Grain with him; yet in that, he could never be molified to any tenderness which hindred Justice. When he was pressed to recommend some (whom he had Condemned) to his Majesties Mercy and Pardon; he answered, He could not think they deserved a Pardon, whom he himself had Adjudged to Dye. So that all he would do in that kind, was to give the King a true Account of the Circumstances of the Fact, after which his Majesty was to Consider whether he would interpose his Mercy, or let Justice take place. His Mercifulness extended even to his Beasts, for when the Horses that he had kept long, grew Old, he would not suffer them to be Sold, or much Wrought, but ordered his Men to turn them loose on his Grounds, and put them only to easie Work, such as going to Market, and the like; he used old Dogs also with the same care: His Shepherd having one that was become blind with Age, he intended to have killed or lost him, but the Judge coming to hear of it, made one of his Servants bring him home and fed him till he Dyed. And he was scarce ever seen more Angry than with one of his Ser∣vants for neglecting a Bird, that he kept, so that it Dyed for want of Food.
He had a generous and noble Idea of GOD in his Mind, and this he found did above all other Considerations preserve his quiet: And indeed that was so well Estalished in him, that no Accidents, how sudden soever, were obser∣ved to discompose him; of which an Eminent Man of that Profession, gave me this instance: In the year 1666. an opinion did run through the Nation, That the End of the World would come that Year. This, whether set on by Astro∣logers, or advanced by those who thought it might have some relation to the number of the Beast in the Revelation, or prompted by Men of ill Designs, Page 14to disturb the publick Peace, had spread mightily among the People; and Judge Hale going that Year the Western-Circuit, it happened that as he was on the Bench at the Assizes, a most terrible Storm fell out unexpectedly, accompanied with such flashes of Lightning, and claps of Thunder, that the like will hardly fall out in an Age; upon which a whisper or a rumour run through the Crowd, That now was the World to end, and the Day of Judgment to begin; and at this there followed a general Consternation in the whole Assembly, and all Men forgot the Business they were met about, and betook themselves to their Prayers: This added to the horror raised by the Storm looked very dismally; insomuch that my Author, a Man of no ordinary Resolution, and firmness of Mind, con∣fessed, It made a great Impression on himself. But he told me, That he did ob∣serve the Judge was not a whit affected, and was going on with the Business of the Court; From which he made this conclusion, That his Thoughts were so well fixed, that he believed if the World had been really to end, it would have given him no considerable disturbance.
But I shall now conclude all that I shall say concerning him, with what one of the greatest Men of the Profession of the Law, sent me an abstract of the Character he had made of him, upon long observation, and much converse with him: It was sent me, that from thence with other Materials, I might make such a Representation of him to the World, as he indeed deserved, but I resolved not to shred it out in parcels, but set it down entirely as it was sent me, hoping that as the Reader will be much delighted with it, so the Noble Person that sent it, will not be offended with me for keeping it entire, and setting it in the best light I could; It begins abruptly, being designed to supply the defects of others, from whom I had dealier and more copious Informations.
He would never be brought to discourse of publick Matters in private Con∣versation, but in Questions of Law, when any young Lawyer put a Case to him he was very communicative, especially while he was at the Bar: But when he came to the Bench, he grew more reserv'd, and would never suffer his Opinion in any case to be known, till he was obliged to declare it Judically; And he concealed his Opinion in great Cases so carefully, that the rest of the Judges in the same Court could never perceive it: His reason was, because every Judge ought to give Senten•e according to his own Perswasion and Conscience, and not to be sway'd by any respect or defence to another Mans Opinion: And by this means it hath happened some times, that when all the Barons of the Ex∣chequer had delivered their Opinions, and agreed in their Reasons and Ar∣guments; yet he coming to speak last, and differing in Judgment from them, hath exprest himself with so much Weight and Solidity, that the Barons have immediately retracted their Votes and concurr'd with him. He hath sat as a Judge in all the Courts of Law, and in two of them as Chief, but still where ever he sat, all Business of Consequence followed him, and no Man was content to sit down by the Judgment of any other Court, till the Case were brought before him, to see whether he were of the same mind: And his Opinion being once known, Men did readily acquiesce in it; and it was very rarely seen, that any Man attempted to bring it about again, and he that did so, did it upon great Disadvantages, and was always lookt upon as a very contentious Person: So that what Cicero says of Brutus, did very often happen to him, Etiam quos contra Statuit Aequos placatosque Dimisit. Nor did Men reverence his Judgment and Opinion in Courts of Law only: But his Authority was as great in Courts of Equity, and the same respect and submission was paid to him there too: And this appeared not only in his own Court of Equity in the Exchequer Chamber, but in the Chancery too, for thither he was often called to advise and assist the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper for the time being; and if the Cause were of difficult Examination, or intricated and entangled with variety of Settlements, no man ever shewed a more clear and discerning Judgment: If it were ofPage 15great Value, and great Persons interested in it, no Man ever shew'd greater Courage and Integrity in laying aside all respect of Persons: When he came to deliver his Opinion, he always put his Discourse into such a Method, that one part of it gave light to the other, and where the proceedings of Chancery might prove Inconvenient to the Subject, he never spared to observe and re∣prove them: And from his Observations and Discourses, the Chancery hath taken occasion to Establish many of these Rules by which it Governs it self at this Day. He did look upon Equity as a part of the Common-Law, and one of the Grounds of it; and therefore as near as he could, he did always reduce it to certain Rules and Principles, that men might Study it as a Science, and not think the Administration of it had any thing Arbitrary in it. Thus eminent was this Man in every Station, and into what Court soever he was call'd, he quickly made it appear, that he deserved the chief Seat there. As great a Lawyer as he was, he would never suffer the strictness of Law to prevail against Conscience, as great a Chancellor as he was, he would make use of all the Nicities and Subtilties in Law, when it tended to support Right and Equity. But nothing was more Admirable in him, than his Patience: He did not affect the Reputation of Quickness and Dispatch, by a hasty and Captious hearing of the Councel: He would bear with the meanest, and gave every man his sull Scope, thinking it much better to loose Time than Patience: In summing up of an Evidence to a Jury, he would always require the Bar to interrupt him if he did mistake, and to put him in mind of it, if he did forget the least Cir∣cumstance; some Judges have been disturbed at this as a Rudeness, which he always looked upon as a Service and Respect due to him.
His whole Life was nothing else but a continual course of Labour and Industry, and when he could borrow any time from the Publick Service, it was wholly employed either in Philosophical or Divine Meditations, and even that was a Publick Service too as it hath proved: For they have oc∣casioned his Writing of such Treatises, as are become the Choicest enter∣tainment of wise and good Men, and the World hath reason to Wish that more of them werē printed: He that considers the active part of his Life, and with what unwearied Diligence and Application of Mind, he dispatched all Mens Business which came under his Care, will wonder how he could find any time for Contemplation: He that considers again the various Studies he past through, and the many Collections and Observations he hath made, may as justly wonder how he could find any time for Action: But no man can wonder at the exemplary Piety and Innocence of such a Life so spent as this was, wherein as he was careful to avoid every idle word, so 'tis manifest he never spent an idle day. They who come far short of this Great Man, will be apt enough to think that this is a Panegyrick, which indeed is a History, and but a little part of that History which was with great Truth to be related of him: Men who despair of attaining such perfection, are not willing to believe that any Man else did ever arrive at such a height. He was the greatest Lawyer of the Age, and might have had what Practicec he pleased, but though he did most Conscientiously affect the labours of his Profession, yet at the same time, he dispised the Gain of it, and of those profits which he would allow himself to receive, he always set apart a tenth Penny for the Poor, which he ever dispensed with that secrecy, that they who were relieved seldom or never knew their Banefactor: He took more pains to avoid the Honours and Preferments of the Gown, than others do to compass them. His Modesty was beyond all Example, for where some Men who never attained to half his Knowledge, have been pufft up with a high conceit of themselves, and have affected all occasions of raising their own Esteem by depreciating o∣ther Men: He on the contrary was the most obliging Man that ever Practised: If a young Gentleman happened to be retain'd to argue a pointPage 16in Law, where he was on the contrary side, he would very often mend the Objections when he came to repeat them, and always Commend the Gentle∣man if there were room for it, and one good word of his was of more advantage to a young Man, than all the favour of the Court could be.
Having thus far pursued his History and Character, in the publick and Exem∣plary parts of his Life, without interrupting the thread of the Relation, with what was private and Domestick, I shall conclude with a short account of these.
He was twice Married, his first Wife was Anne Daughter of Sir Henry Moore, of Faly in Berkshire, Grandchild to Sir Francis Moore, Serjeant at Law; by her he had Ten Children, the four first Died young, the other six lived to be all Mar∣ried; And he out lived them oll, except his eldest Daughter, and his youngest Son, who are yet alive.