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for he doth not believe witches; and so, to show they have some, hang the poor wretches. All which tendency to mistake, requires a very prudent and moderate carriage in a judge, whereby to convince, rather by detecting of the fraud, than hy denying authoritatively such power to be given to old women."
His lordship did, indeed, whenever he could, lay open the imposture, and procure the acquittal of witches. But when Mr. Justice Raymond and he went the circuit together, and his co-judge condemned two women to death for the crime, he appears to have contented himself, "with concern, that his brother Raymond's passive behaviour should let them die," without himself making any effort to save them. His opinions respecting libels were surprisingly liberal for a judge of the cavalier party, and may serve to put shame to the courtly lawyers of more enlightened days.
'• As to the business of lies and libels, which, in those days, were an intolerable vexation to the court, especially finding that the community of gentle and simple strangely ran in with them; it was moved that there should be more messengers of the press, and spies, who should discover secret printing-houses, (which, then, were against law,) and take up the hawkers that sold libels, and all other persons that dispersed them, and inflict severe punishments on all that were found guilty. But his lordship was of a very different opinion, and said that this prosecution would make them but the more inquired after; and it was impossible to hinder the promulgation of libels; for the greediness of every one to get them, and the high price, would make men, of desperate fortunes, venture any thing: and, in such cases, punishments never regulate the abuse; but it must be done, if at all, by methods undermining the encouragement: yet, if any were caught, he thought it was fit to make severe examples of them. But an extraordinary inquisition to be set up, and make so much noise, and the punishment falling, as was most likely, not on the authors and abettors, but some poor wretches that sought to get a penny by selling them, would, as he thought, rather incense than abate the abuse. His notion was, that his majesty should order nothing extraordinary, to make people imagine he was touched to the quick; but to set up counter writers that as every libel came out, should take it to task, and answer it . And, so, all the diurnal lies of the town also would be met with ;for, said he, either we are in the wrong, or in the right; if the former, we must do as usurped powers, use force, and crush all our enemies right or wrong. But there is no need of that, for we are in the right; for who will pretend not to own his majesty's authority according to law? And nothing is done, by his majesty and his ministers, but what the law will warrant, and what should we be afraid of? Let them He and accuse till they are weary, while we declare at the same time, as may be done with demonstration, that all they say is false and unjust; and the better sort of the people, whom truth sways, when laid before them, will be with us. This counsel was followed; and some clever writers were employed, such as were called the Observator and Heraclitus, for a constancy, and others, with them, occasionally; and then they soon wrote the libellers out of the pit, and, during that king's life, the trade of libels, which, before, had been in great request, fell to no'thing."
Mr. North, notwithstanding the liberality of some of his opinions, was made a privy counsellor, and some time after Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He opposed Jeffries, the celebrated Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, with mildness and caution, and secured and used wisely the esteem of his sovereign. He appears to have forseen, that the consequence of the violent and arbitrary measures, which he was unable to prevent, would, if continued, work the downfall of the Stuart family. His private life was temperate and regular, untainted with the vices of the times. His brother-in-law, actually fearing his virtue might be visited as a libel on the court, seriously advised him to keep a mistress in his own defence; "for he understood, from very great men, that he was ill looked upon for want of doing so; because he seemed continually to reprehend them;" which notable advice was concluded by an offer, "that, if his lordship pleased, he would help him to one." His lordship's regard to virtue, as well as his usual caution, which tokl him, "there was no spy like a female," made him regard this proffer with a scorn, which utterly puzzled his adviser. He was, however, tremulously alive to ridicule. Aware of this infirmity, Jeffries and the Earl of Sunderland took advantage of a harmless visit he made to see a rhinoceros, to circulate a report, that he had ridden on the animal. This threw him into a state of rage and vexation truly surprising; he turned on his questioners with unexampled fury, was seriously angry with Sir Dudley North for not contradicting it with sufficient gravity, and sent for him that he might add his testimony to his own solemn denial. His biographer, who actually performs the duty of confidante, as described in The Critic, to laugh, weep, or go mad with the principal, is also in a towering passion at the charge. He calls it, " an impudent buffoon lie, which Satan himself would not have owned for his legitimate issue;" and is provoked beyond measure, that "the noble Earl, with Jeffries, and others of that crew, made merry, and never blushed at the lie of their own making; but valued themselves upon it, as a very good jest." He was afflicted by no other "great calumny," notwithstanding the watchfulness of his foes. One of his last public acts was, to stop the bloody proceedings of Jeffries in the West, which he did by his influence with the King. He did not long survive the profligate prince, whom he sometimes was able to' guide and to soften. He walked in the Coronation of James the Second, when imperfectly recovered from a fever; and, after a gradual decline of some months, expired at his house at Wroxton, really hurried to the grave by the political broils and vexations attendant on the Great Seal. "That pestiferous lump of metal," as our author terms it, was given to Jeffries, whom it did not save from an end more disastrous and fearful.
The work before us, as we have already intimated, is rendered more interesting by the admirable characters which it contains of the old lawyers. These are all drawn, not only with great and most felicitous distinctness, but are touched in a mild, gentlemanly, and humane spirit, which it is refreshing to recognise in these days of acrimony and slander. Even those who were most opposed in interest and in prejudice to the author, receive ample justice from his hands. Hale, whose dislike to the court rendered him obnoxious to the author, or which is the same thing to his brother, is drawn at full length in all his austere majesty. Even Serjeant Maynard, the acknowledged " anti-restoration lawyer," whose praise was in all the conventicles, and who was a hard rival of "his lordship," receives due acknowledgment of his learning, and that he was, to his last breath, true as steel to the principles of the times when he began his career. Sir William Scraggs, the fierce voluptuary and outrageous politician, is softened to us by the single engaging touch, that "in his house every day was a holiday." And Jeffries himself, as exhibited here, seems to have had something of real human warmth within him, which redeems him from utter hatred. The following is a summary of his character.
"His friendship and conversation lay much among the good fellows and humourists; and his delights were, accordingly, drinking, laughing, singing, kissing, and all the extravagancies of the bottle. He had a set of banterers, for the most part, near him; as, in old time, great men kept fools to make them merry. And these fellows, abusing one another and their betters, were a regale to him. And no friendship or dearness could be so great, in private, which he would not use ill, and to an extravagant degree, in public. No one, that had any expectations from him, was safe from his public contempt and derision, which some of his minions, at the bar, bitterly felt. Those above, or that could hurt or benefit him, and none else, might depend on fair quarters at his hands. When he was in temper, and matters indifferent came before him, he became his seat of justice better than any other I ever saw in his place. He took a pleasure in mortifying fraudulent attorneys, and would deal forth his severities with a sort of majesty. He had extraordinary natural abilities, but little acquired, beyond what practice in affairs had supplied. He talked fluently, and with spirit; and his weakness was that he could not reprehend without scolding; and in such Billingsgate language, as should not come out of the mouth of any man. He called it giving a lick with the rough side of his tongue. It was ordinary to hear him say, Go, you are a filthy, lousy, nitty rascal; with much more of like elegance. Scarce a day passed that he did not chide some one, or other, of the bar, when he sat in
the Chancery; and it was commonly a lecture of a quarter of an hour long. And they used to say, This is your,s; my turn will be to-morrow. He seemed to lay nothing of his business to heart, nor care what he did, or left undone; and spent, in the Chancery court, what time he thought fit to spare Many times, on days of causes at his house, the company have waited five hours in a morning, and, after eleven, he hath come out inflamed, and staring like one distracted. And that visage he put on when he animadverted on such as he took offence at, which made him a terror to real offenders; whom also he terrified with his face and voice, as if the thunder of the day of judgment broke over their heads: and nothing ever made men tremble like his vocal inflictions. He loved to insult, and was bold without check; but that only when his place was uppermost . To give an instance. A city attorney was petitioned against for some abuse; and affidavit was made that when he was told of my lord chancellor, My lord chancellor, said he, / made him; meaning his being a means to bring him early into city business. When this affidavit was read, Well, said the lord chancellor, then I will lay my maker by the heels. And, with that conceit, one of his best old friends went to jail. One of these intemperances was fatal to him. There was a scrivener of Wapping brought to hearing for relief against a bummery bond; the contingency of losing all being showed, the bill was going to be dismissed. But one of the plaintiff's counsel said that he was a strange fellow, and sometimes went to church, sometimes to conventicles: and none could tell what to make of him; and it was thought he was a trimmer. At that the chancellor fired; and, A trimmer! said he; / have heard much of that monster, but never saw one. Come forth, Mr. Trimmer, turn you round, and let us see your shape: and, at that rate, talked so long that the poor fellow was ready to drop under him; but, at last, the bill was dismissed with costs, and he went his way. In the hall, one of his friends asked him how he came off 1 Came off, said he, / am escaped from the terrors of that man's face, which I would scarce undergo again to save my life; I shall certainly have the frightful impression of it as long as I live. Afterwards, when the Prince of Orange came, and all was in confusion, this lord