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80 it be done regularly, deliberately, and so far forth only as the exigence or convenience justly demands it; and in this respect the saying is true, Salus populi suprema lex esto." * * *
« He that thinks a state can be exactly steered by the same laws in every kind as it was two or three hundred years ago, may as well imagine that the clothes that fitted him when a child should serve him when he was grown a man. The matter changeth, the custom, the contracts, the commerce, the dispositions, educations, and tempers of men and societies, change in a long tract of time, and so must their laws in some measure be changed, or they will not be useful for their state and condition; and besides all this, time is the wisest thing under heaven. These very laws, which at first seemed the wisest constitution under heaven, have some flaws and defects discovered in them by time. As manufactures, mercantile arts, architecture, and building, and philosophy itself, secure new advantages and discoveries by time and experience, so much more do laws which concern the manners and customs of men.”
The multiplication and growth of the laws are urged by Hale as inducing a necessity for their revision and reduction :-“By length of time and continuance, laws are so multiplied and grown to that excessive variety, that there is a necessity of a reduction of them, or otherwise it is not manageable. *** And the reason is, because this age, for the purpose, received from the last a body of laws, and they add more, and transmit the whole to the next age ; and they add to what they had received, and transmit the whole stock to the next age. Thus, as the rolling of a snow-ball, it increaseth in bulk in every age till it becomes utterly unmanageable. And hence it is that, even in the laws of England, we have so many varieties of forms of conveyances, feoffments, fines, release, confirmation, grant, attornment, common recovery deeds enrolled, &c. because the use coming in at several times, every age did retain somewhat of what was past, and added somewhat of its own, and so carried over the whole product to the quotient.. And this pro
duceth mistakes : a man, perchance, useth one sort of conveyance where he should have used another. It breeds uncertainty and contradiction of opinion, and that begets suits and expense. It must necessarily cause ignorance in the professors and profession itself, because the volumes of the law are not easily to be mastered.” The mode in which Sir Matthew Hale proposed to accomplish the desired reform in our juridical system is pretty fully explained by him : that the king, on the address of both houses of parliament, should direct the judges and other fit persons to prepare proper bills to effectuate the object:— that these bills should be brought into the house of commons :—that, after having been twice read and committed, the judges should be called before the committee to explain the reasons and grounds of the proposed alterations; and that those learned persons should again attend the house of lords for the same purpose. “Bills thus prepared and hammered,” adds Sir Matthew Hale, « would have fewer flaws, and necessity of supplemental or explanatory laws, than hath of late times happened.” It is to be much regretted that the tract from which these extracts have been made is left imperfect by the author, and the particular alterations which he probably intended to recommend are consequently unknown. A few pages only are devoted to these subjects, from which, however, some valuable suggestions are to be gathered. The observations on the propriety of rendering the county court a cheap and efficient tribunal are especially worthy of notice. In the year 1796, Mr. Hargrave also published the excellent treatise of Hale On the Jurisdiction of the Lords' House of Parliament, and in the preface expressed a hope that he should be enabled to present to the public a complete edition of Lord Hale's works; a design which, unfortunately, has never been completed. [Note 36.]
The zeal with which Sir Matthew Hale availed himself of every opportunity to increase the stores of his professional knowledge is evinced by the rare and curious collection of MSS., relative to the law, which he accumu
lated, at great expense, in his lifetime, and which on his death he bequeathed to the library of Lincoln's Inn. The purchase and transcription of these MSS. are said to have cost him upwards of 15001. ; a very large sum of money to be expended in those days by one who owed his fortune to his professional exertions.
As a scholar, Sir Matthew Hale distinguished himself by the composition of various works, some of which were published in his lifetime, and others after his decease. His chief study was theology, to which he devoted the principal leisure hours of his active and laborious life. His great work, The primitive Origination of Mankind considered and examined according to the Light of Nature, has been variously judged. His Contemplations moral and divine excited the admiration of Wilkins and of Tillotson. [Note 37.] He was the author of two or three scientific tracts, which must be judged with a reference to the then state of physical knowledge. His classical attainments were not considerable. His knowledge of Greek appears to have deserted him by disuse, and his translation of the Life of Atticus does not afford any favourable specimen of his critical knowledge of the Latin. * His English style was powerful and copious, sometimes to a fault. His poetical compositions, in which he occasionally indulged, on religious subjects, possess very little merit.
His style of speaking was slow and sometimes embarrassed, but occasionally he rose into eloquence. the Honourable Roger North, “ by the produce always paid for the delay, and on some occasions he would utter sentences heroic.”+
In private life the character of Hale was calculated to attract the love and reverence of his friends. modest and retiring disposition, he appears to have shunned society, and thus fell under the unjust imputation of admitting none but flatterers to his presence. In his family he was not happy. His sons disgraced themselves by their profligate lives, and in the decline of life * Life of Lord Guilford, vol. i. p. 123.
+ Id. p. 120.
" His stop," says
he himself married one of his own servants. To his inferiors he was always liberal and considerate, and extended his kindness even to the animals that had faithfully served him. His charities were most extensive. In his friendships he was very fortunate, enjoying the conversation and good opinion of Selden and of Vaughan, of Ward, Barrow, Tillotson, Wilkins, and Stillingfleet, and, amongst the dissenters, of the celebrated Baxter.
LORD KEEPER GUILFORD.
1640-1685. THERE does not, perhaps, exist in English literature a more singular and characteristic piece of biography than the life of the Lord Keeper Guilford, by his younger brother, the Honourable Roger North. The ardent affection of the author for his distinguished relative, his intimate acquaintance with the transactions which he records, his stores of anecdote relating to his contemporaries, and the indescribable naiveté' of his style, confer a peculiarly interesting character upon his book. To abridge such a narrative, to despoil the picture of the author's peculiar colouring, and to relate the history in other language, must be to destroy nearly all the interest which attaches to the original. In the following memoir, therefore, an attempt is made to preserve, where it is possible, the language of the biographer.
Francis North, afterwards Baron Guilford and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, was the second son of Dudley Lord North, Baron of Kertling, in Cambridgeshire, and Knight of the Bath. He received his earliest education under a schoolmaster of the name of Wallis, at Isleworth, a rigid presbyterian, whose wife, a zealous independent, « used to instruct her babes in the gift of praying by the spirit.” “ All the scholars," says the biographer, made to kneel by a bedside and pray ; but this petit
* Life of Lord Guilford, p. 124
spark was too small for that posture, and was set upon the bed to kneel with his face to a pillow ; and in this exercise of spiritual prayer they had their directions from her. I have heard his lordship say, that all he could remember of his performance was praying for his distressed brethren in Ireland.” After passing some years at another school of the same kind, young North was removed to Bury school, then under the superintendence of Dr. Stevens, cavalier master.” From Bury, his next step was to the university, where he became a Fellow Commoner of St. John's College, Cambridge, on the 8th June, 1653. During his residence there, he applied himself principally to mathematics and natural philosophy, in which he made considerable progress. Being destined for the bar, he was, on the 27th November 1665, admitted a student of the Middle Temple ; and although his retiring disposition rendered him at first averse to the profession, he commenced his studies with much zeal and earnestness. “ He used constantly the commons in the hall, at noon and at night, and fell into the way of putting cases (as they call it), which much improved him, and he was very good at it, being of a ready apprehension, a nice distinguisher, and prompt speaker. He used to say, that no man could be a good lawyer that was not a good put-case.” He commonplaced largely, and studied with great diligence the yearbooks and the elder writers of the law. His appearance and character at this period of his life are thus described by his brother.
“ He was of low stature, but had an amiable ingenuous aspect, and his conversation was answerable, being ever agreeable to his company. His hair grew to a considerable length, but was hard and stiff, and did not fall as the rest of the family, which made it bush somewhat, and not without a mixture of red and grey. As to his humour, he was free from vanity himself, and hated it in others. His youthful habits were never gay or topping the mode, like other inns of court gentlemen, but always plain and clean, and showed somewhat of firm