Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

such for others, as well as for himself. We are disposed to suspect, that some critics would call the conception of the following sonnet forced and unnatural; but to us it is nothing less. In fact, it is the invariable tendency of intellects of a certain class and character, to transfer, by a strong effort of the imagination, the colour of their own thoughts and sentiments to the external objects of nature, and thus escape from that which oppresses and disturbs them, by sharing it with other things. This is what the poet is doing in the instance we are about to adduce; and nothing of the kind was ever done with more truth of feeling, and in more appropriate terms.-How exquisite are the two first lines !

“ With how sad steps, O moon! thou climb'st the skies!
How silently—and with how wan a face!
-What! may it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case;
I read it in thy looks ;-thy languish'd grace,
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then e'en of fellowship, O moon! tell me-
Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth poseess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?"-

This is some what in the manner of Shakspeare, both in the conception and expression. The following song is delightfully simple; though a certain class of critics, who require a man to be a sage and a lover at the same time, will perhaps think that it is somewhat “ silly sootb," and dallies with the innocence of the subject a little too childishly.

" Sloep, baby mine, Desire !-nurse Beauty singeth.
Thy cries, O baby! set mine heart an aching
The babe cries_Way-thy love doth keep me waking!
Lully, lully, my babe-hope cradle bringeth,
Unto my children alway good rest taking:-
The babe cries --Way-thy love doth keep me waking !
Ninco, baby mine, from me thy watching springeth,
Nloop then a little---pap content is making.
The babe cries-Nay--for that abide I waking."

Nothing can be more natural than the following exposition of the effects of passion onthe human mind and its perceptions.

" In wonted walks since wonted fancies change,
Some cause there is which of strange cause doth rise ;
For in each thing whereto mine eye doth range
Part of my pain, me-seems, engraved lies.
The rocks, which were of constant mind the mark,
In climbing steep-now hard refusal show; , ,
The shading woods seem now my sun to dark;
And stately hills disdain to look so low;
The restful caves now restless visions give;
In dales I see each way a hard ascent;
Like late mown meads, late cut from joy I live;
Alas! sweet brooks do in my tears augment :-)
Rocks, woods, hills, caves, dales, meads, brooks answer me :
Infected minds infect each thing they see.” .

The following is the romance of true passion; not a spurious imitation or affectation of it.

“ Stella—think not that I by verse seek fame-
Who seek, who hope, who love, who live but thee ;
Thine eyes my pride, thy lips my history:
If thou praise not, all other praise is shame.
Nor so ambitious am I as to frame
A nest for my young praise in laurel tree;
In truth I swear I wish not there should be
Graved in my epitaph a poet's name;
Nor, if I would, I could just title make,
That any laud to me thereof should grow,
Without my plumes from others' wings I take;
For nothing from my wit or will doth flow,
Since all my words thy beauty doth indite,
And love doth hold my hand, and makes me write."

We must now take a final leave of Sir Philip Sidney, by expressing a respect for his character amounting to love, and an admiration of his talents amounting to reverence; and by advising all those who are not equally impressed with these feelings by our notices of him, to peruse and study his works themselves, and then think otherwise of him if they can.

Art. V.--Chronica Juridicialia ; or, an Abridgement and Con

tinuution of Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales; containing a Calendar of the Years of our Lord God and the Kings of England, &c. from William the Conqueror to the year 1739. With Chronological Tables of the names of all the Lord Chancellors, Judges, Serjeants, &c. shewing the times of their several promotions, &c. opposite to the years in the said Calendar. , Second edit. 8vo. 1739.

There is, perbaps, no class of men who live more immediately within the observation of the public eye, than the judges of our courts of justice. The importance of the functions which they are appointed to perforin, the private interests which are affected by their decisions, their high station in a liberal and much regarded profession, and the rank accorded to them in society, all contribute to render their character and conduct the object of personal attention. The display and pomp too which attend all their movements, as the great administrators of public justice, allure the eyes of the crowd. The entry of a judge into an assize town, escorted by the sheriff and his attendants, and surrounded by his javelin-men, as they are termed, is, to the provincial spectators, a very awful and imposing ceremonial. A variety of little arts have been invented to keep alive this feeling of veneration. Ermine and scarlet, and full-bottomed wigs on the judgment-seat, and shovel hats and scratches off it, distinguish the administrators of our laws, whose time of life in general prevents these usages from appearing ridiculous. They are addressed by a title peculiar to the nobility ; * and nothing is omitted which can contribute to render them honoured and respected.

It would have been well if at every period of our history the judges had contented themselves with the professional distinctions thus freely bestowed upon them, but unfortunately this has not been the case. The eminent station assigned them necessarily brings them into occasional contact with the government and the court; and how dangerous this approxi. mation is to the interests of the public, we learn from history. The biography of many of our judges is, on this account, by no

* It was only, however, during the last century that the puisne judges began to be addressed by the title of “ your lordship.” In the year-books they are constantly addressed by the title of "sir,” “sir, vous voyez bien," &c. The late Serjeant Hill was, we believe, the last who persisted in the ancient fashion.”

means confined to their judicial career, but often embraces , the political history of the times in which they lived. Nor are their memoirs, by any means, devoid of other interesting matter. The subjects of them are generally men who mingled much in society, and whose names are consequently connected with those of the celebrated persons of their day. Occasionally, too, we meet amongst them with men whose singular characters and eccentric habits, render their biography highly entertaining. It is with the view of collecting the * scattered anecdotes relative to the most remarkable of these personages, that we enter upon the present task; and, in the following pages, we propose to give some account of the more distinguished ornaments of the bench, during a very singular period of judicial history,—the reign of Charles II.

At the commencement of the seventeenth century a very considerable change had begun to take place in the character of the judges. In the political struggles which were even then generating, it was a difficult task for men of their influence and station to remain neuter. In earlier times the Crown had never thought it worth while to bespeak the services of the judges, in assisting it to assert the prerogative ; the hand of power had, in general, been sufficiently strong without such aid. “ It is very observable,” says Clarendon, in speaking of the opinions delivered by the judges upon the matter of ship-money, “ It is very observable, that in the wisdom of former times, when the prerogative went highest (as very often it hath been swoln above any pitch we have seen it at in our times) never any court of law - very seldom any judge or lawyer of reputation was called upon to assist in any act of power, the Crown well-knowing the object of keeping those the objects of reverence and venera. tion with the people, and that though it might sometimes make sallies upon them by the prerogative, yet, that the law would keep the people from any invasion of it, and that the king would never suffer. whilst the law and the judges were looked upon by the subject, as the asylum for their liberties and security.(Clar. Rebel. I. 124.) Upon the accession of James I. however, these maxims were forgotten, and a system of intimidation and corruption was then commenced by the Crown which did not terminate until the Revolution. We have on a former occasion* enabled the reader to form some idea of the conduct.. observed by James I. towards his judges, and, it is almost unnecessary to advert to the infamous prostitution of the judicial character which distinguished the reign of his successor. With respect to the affair of ship-money, even Clarendon speaks of

* See Life and Character of Sir Edward Coke. Retros. "Rev. viii. 105.

it in the warmest terms of reprobation. “And here the da-
mage and mischief cannot be expressed, that the Crown and
State sustained by the deserved reproach and infamy that at-
tended the judges, by being made use of in this and the like
acts of power.” Upon the whole, however, the odious part
acted by the judges in the reign of Charles I., was perhaps
serviceable to the interests of freedom, by awakening the feel-
ings of the people; and Finch's speech in the Exchequer cham-
ber, is said to have rendered ship-money much more abhorred
and formidable than all the commitments of the Council Table.
But without canvassing the character of the Bench at this
period, or during the Commonwealth, which we may possibly
attempt upon some future occasion, we shall only observe, that
the system which had its origin in the reign of James I., and
attained so pernicious a maturity during that of his son, was
revived in all its full vigour soon after the Restoration. In the
times of the Plantagenets and the Tudors it was unnecessary
to veil the encroachments of power under the semblance of
justice; but now, when any act of oppression or iniquity was
to be wrought, it was essential to .clothe it with the judicial
sanction. Accordingly we find that the utmost exertions were
at this time made by the Crown, and in general with the greatest
success, to render the judges subservient to the royal wishes.
The consequence of this was, that men of loose principles, and
abandoned manners, were selected to fill the judgment-seat ;
and the records of our courts of justice are disgraced with such
names as Jefferies, Scroggs, Wright, and Saunders, (though in
legal attainments the latter was eminently fitted for his station.)
Of the personal character of Saunders, and, indeed, of some
* other of the judges of this time, an account has been given in
., our former volumes,* which we shall not repeat upon this oc-
casion, only observing that it will be necessary to recur to the
portrait of Saunders, as painted by Roger North, in order to
complete the series of sketches which we now intend to pre-
sent to the reader.

In discussing the character of our English judges, an ex-
amination into the nature of the tenure by which they held
their offices (a subject very ably illustrated by Mr. Şerjeant
Heywood in the Appendix to his Vindication of Fox's Historical
Work,) will be found to throw great light upon our judicial bio-
graphy. During the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. the
commissions of the Chief Justices of the King's Bench were in
general without any specification of the tenure, and they were
removeable at the pleasure of the king. The puisne Judges,
both of the King's Bench and Common Pleas, held quam diu

... 2

[merged small][ocr errors]

* Retros. Rev. vol. ii. p. 252;

vol. viii. p. 17.

« ПредишнаНапред »