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"pressions as were a dishonour to the governf ment, and to the dignity of his office; and "particularly, that he, the said Sir William "Scroggs, did, in 1679, commit and detain in "prison, in such unlawful manner, among "others, Henry Carr, G. Broome, Edward *' Berry, Benjamin Harris, Francis Smith, senior, "Francis Smith, junior, and Jane Curtis, citi"zens of London: which proceedings of the "said Sir William Scroggs are a high breach "of the liberty of the subject, destructive to "the fundamental laws of this realm, and con"trary to the Petition of Rights, and other "statutes, and do manifestly tend to the in"troducing of arbitrary power.
0. " That the said Sir William Scroggs, in "further oppression of His Majesty's liege "people, hath, since his being made chief "justice of the said Court of King's Bench, in "an arbitrary manner, granted divers general "warrants for attaching the persons, and seizing "the goods, of His Majesty's subjects, not "named or described particularly in the said "warrants, by means whereof, many of His "Majesty's subjects have been vexed, their "houses entered into, and they themselves "grievously oppressed, contrary to law." *
* The following is Mr. Hume's account of this impeachment: —" The chief justice was very obnoxious for dis
It would be hardly possible to conceive a mote direct progress to despotism, than that which these articles describe. The discretion given by the law seems to have been grossly abused for the purpose of punishing those who were obnoxious to the court. The recollection of the evils here enumerated, and the care of our ancestors to close this avenue to arbitrary power, may be traced in the provisions of the Bill of Rights. It may also be remarked, that the characters which have been handed down to us of the judges of this reign, amply justify the fears that were entertained of their influence. "Lest the means of destroying the best Protestants in England should fail," says Algernon Sydney, in the speech which he left behind him, "the Bench was filled with such as had been blemishes to the Bar." Scroggs, Saunders, and Jeffries, unworthy of the name of judges, were the fit tools of a King above the law. Intemperate and scandalous in their private conduct, savage
missing the grand jury in an irregular manner, and thereby disappointing that bold measure of Shaftesbury and his friends. For this crime, the Commons sent up an impeachment against him, as also against Jones and Weston, two of the judges, who, in some speeches from the Bench, had gone so far as to give the first reformers the appellation of fanatics." Vol. viii. p. 145. It must be allowed, that this is either a careless or an unfair representation.
and merciless in the exercise of their public functions, they were fawning to their Sovereign, indulgent to themselves, insolent and overbearing to the prisoners who obtained at their Bar the appearance of a trial. * North and Pernberton were more respectable; but the one was prejudiced, and the other unprincipled.
The impeachment ordered by the Commons could not be brought to a trial before the dissolution of parliament; but Scroggs was soon after removed from the Bench. His disgrace seems to confirm the truth of the charges against him. It is gratifying to find, that, even in the worst times, public opinion may reach those who debase themselves so far as to abuse the sacred name of justice, and, instead of being the organ of the laws, speak from the Bench the language of the Court.
The Commons now passed a vote, in consequence of the general cry against corruption, that no member should accept of any office, or place of profit from the Crown, without leave of the House. t
* If any one thinks this character too severe, let him look at the portraits of these men by North. See Appendix.
-f There had been great talk of certain conditions to be offered to the King. Lord Russell was to be Governor of Portsmouth; Colonel Titus, Secretary of State; Sir Wil
A message from the Lords desired their concurrence to a vote, declaring the existence of a Popish plot in Ireland. In agreeing to this vote, the Commons added another, that the Duke of York's being a Papist, had given great encouragement to this plot, as well as that in England.
The last address of the Commons, insisting on the Exclusion Bill, had created great division in the King's council. Sir William Temple thought that, as there existed a difference between the two Houses on the subject, the King might, with decency, excuse himself from giving any positive answer. But those ministers, who had been branded in the votes of the Commons, thought there now remained no safety for them, but in a total disuse of parliaments. In order to widen the breach, therefore, they drew up an answer, in which the King told the Commons, that he was confirmed in his opinion against the Exclusion Bill, by the judgment of the Lords. Sir William Temple, who neither
Ham Jones, Chief Justice; Lord Shaftesbury was to be Lord Treasurer; but he, when he heard of it, fell into a great passion, that he should be thought capable of sacrificing the public good to his private interest, The report of this project caused the self-denying vote mentioned in the text. Such is the account given in James's Life, for the accuracy of which I will not vouch.
agreed to the spirit, nor prepared the form of this address, was prevailed upon by the King to deliver it. When he appeared at the Bar of the House, Sir William Jones, who had conceived an affection for him, told him, that for himself, he was old and infirm, and did not expect to live long; "but you," he added, "will, "in all probability, live to see the whole king"dom lament the consequences of the message "you have now brought us from the King."
The manner in which this message was received, shows that the House of Commons were resolved to go all lengths, rather than recede from their favourite measure. Mr. Booth said, that as no expedients in lieu of the Exclusion Bill had been proposed, after two years' consideration, and the endeavour of two successive Parliaments, it was plain that nothing plausible could be offered. He, therefore, proposed resolutions, declaring, that without that Bill, neither the King, nor the Protestant religion, could be safe; that without it, no money could be given; that lending money by way of advance upon the King's revenue, should be prevented; and that, as some of the King's advisers had been said to have advised a dissolution of parliament, they should be censured. The motion was seconded by Lord Russell, who was for " sticking to the Bill,