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Chancery should always attend and sit on the bench with him in Court, and two in his own house.*
He was exceedingly cautious, "not venturing to wade beyond the shallow margin of equity, where he could distinctly see the bottom." He always took time to consider in cases of any difficulty; and in these he was guided by the advice of one Sir Richard Swale, described as his "servant-friend," who was a Doctor of the Civil Law, a Master in Chancery, and well skilled in all the practice and doctrines of the Court.
By these means Lord Chancellor Hatton contrived to get on marvellously well; and though suitors might grumble, as well as their counsel, the public took part with him, and talked with contempt of "the sullen serjeants," who at first refused to plead before him. All were dazzled with the splendour of his establishment; and it was said that he made up for his want of law by his constant desire to do what was just. But the more judicious grieved; and, in spite of all his caution and good intentions, he committed absurd blunders, and sometimes did injustice. ‡
The attention of the nation was soon taken from all such matters by the danger which threatened the religion and [JULY, 1588,] liberties of the country. The INVINCIBLE ARMADA was now afloat; and Elizabeth was reviewing her army at Til
* Ordo Curiæ. Decimo viij°, die Aprilis Anno Regni Elizabeth Regine xxx°. ** The Rt Ho. Sir Christopher Hatton, Knight, Lo. Chauncelor of England, having bene enformed that of late yeres the Courte of Chauncery hathe bene for the most parte unfurnished of such Masters of the Chauncery as are in ordynary and have Ther Maties fee to attende there, whereby the dignitye of that honorable courte hath bene in some sort blemished, and the same destitute of such assistauntes and advice of theirs as were meete and necessary, For remedy thereof the said Lo. Chauncelor dothe order that fower of the said ordynary Masters of Chauncery shall dayly in their course attende at or in the said Courte of Chauncery upon the benche there, unless some speciall cause shall draw them from thence, and then he or they whose course it shalbel, to procure some other of the ordynary Masters of this Courte to supply their places in their absence. And also the Lo. Chauncelor dothe also farther order that two of the said Masters being in ordynary, shall lykewise daylye attende on every Monday, Tuysday, and Thursday, in the afternoones, at the said Lo. Chauncelor's howse, to assist his Lop, in such causes as there shalbe opened and heard before him in every terme. The order then makes some regulations about fees, "secluding all Extraordinary Masters within three myles compasse of the Citty of London, and suburbs of the same, and in all other places where the said ordynary Masters shalbe from doinge any manner of actes or exercisinge any authoryty belonging to the offyce and cleeve to the same."
"Splendidissime omnium quos vidimus gessit et quod ex juris scientiâ defuit æquitate supplere studuit."-Camdeu.
There was one ceremony which he must have performed with peculiar grace,installing a Master, May 16, 1587. "This present day Richard Swale, gentleman, Doctor of the Civil Law, was placed as a Master of the Chancery in ordinary in the room of Mr. Doctor Barkeley deceased, by the Right Honourable Sir Christopher Hatton, Knight, Lord Chancellor of England: and his Lordship did put on the said Mr. Swale's cap," &c. Reg. Lib. B. p. 492. A hat being substituted for the cap the ceremony remained down to Lord Brougham's time.
1 It was not yet settled what particles and parts of the auxiliary verbs should be used as separate words.
bury. The Chancellor attended her; and, if the Spaniards had landed, was ready to have fought valiantly by her side.*
English bravery, assisted by the elements, having swept from the seas the armament which was to overpower and [Nov. 1588.] to subjugate England, a parliament was called; and, on the first day of the session, the Queen being on the throne, Lord Chancellor Hatton eloquently opened to the two Houses the cause of the summons: he told them "that her Majesty had made it her constant study, from the very beginning of her reign to this time, to preserve peace, not only at home, but also abroad. That she had given no occasion to the many princes about her to invade her dominions, nor had taken arms to revenge the many injuries which others had inflicted upon her. Neither the infant state of Scotland, nor the treachery of France, nor the divisions of her enemies, nor the frequent solicitations of the Dutch, nor all these things combined, could move her to war. And when she heard that mighty preparations were making against her and her kingdom, she chose rather to propose peace than to cast all hopes of it aside; for she sent a set of grave, prudent, and noble persons as her ambassadors to treat of it. Which, while they were labouring to effect, behold a vast navy of Spanish ships were seen on our English coasts; such a navy, that, for numbers and greatness of the ships, for quantity of arms and military forces, and for all kinds of necessary stores, were never seen to float on the ocean before. But God Almighty, her Majesty's hope, defender, and preserver, rendered this vast armada of her enemies vain and useless. For the British navy, by far inferior in numbers and strength, happily attacked once and again those huge raised-up rocks and mountains of ships, and, at the third conflict, so dispersed, shattered, and disabled them, that, never thinking to renew the fight, they fled for it, and took a long course hitherto unheard of; for they steered round Scotland, Ireland, and the most northern regions, and by those means hoped to regain the Spanish coasts. But what shipwrecks they suffered,-what hardships they bore,-how many ships, soldiers, and seamen they lost, neither can they yet know,
* It is upon this occasion that the famous dialogue is supposed to have passed between him and Sir Walter Raleigh :
"Sir Christ. Hat. True gallant Raleigh;
"Sir Walter R. O most accomplish'd Christopher, I find
Thy stanch sagacity still tracks the future
In the fresh print of the o'ertaken past.
You know, my friend, scarce two revolving suns
nor we for certain learn. But do you not imagine that they are ardently studious of revenge? and that they will employ the power and riches of Spain to accomplish it? Know you not the pride, fury, and bitterness of the Spaniard against you? Yes: behold the great cause of summoning this parliament, that, in this full assembly of the wisest and most prudent persons of this kingdom, a diligent preparation may be made, that forces, arms, and money may be in readiness, and that our navy, our greatest bulwark, may be repaired, manned, and fitted out for our protection and safeguard
Although not a peer himself he was anxious for the honour of the House over which he presided as Speaker, and he mentions in a letter a vain attempt he had made to remove a complaint which for centuries has been uttered there: "The use of the higher house is not to meddle with any bill until there be some presented from the Commons; and so, by reason thereof, the first part of the sitting should be spent idly, or to small purpose, I thought it fit to inform myself what bills there were remaining since the last parliament, of which the Lords had good liking, but could not be passed by reason of want of time, and those I meant to offer to their Lordships till such time as there came some from the Lower House."t
Sir Christopher was now installed Knight of the Garter, (being the third Chancellor on whom this honour was conferred,) and he was at the height of his greatness. But although he was never turned out of office, he met with much mortification before his death. Camden represents that his appointment was maliciously suggested to the Queen by his rivals in her good graces, that by his absence from Court, and the troublesome discharge of so great a place, which they thought him not able to undergo, his favour with the Queen might flag. They were mistaken if they supposed that he would be utterly disgraced by the incompetent manner in which he must discharge.his judicial duties: but they calculated rightly in anticipating that, prevented from showing her the devoted attention with which he had hitherto ever cultivated her as an admirer of her person as well as a member of her government, he would gradually lose his interest in her affections. The Earl of Leicester, who had occasionally been superseded by Hatton, now completely regained his ascendancy, and he prevailed upon her to create for him the new office of "Lord Lieutenant of England and Ireland," which would have conferred upon him almost royal authority throughout the empire. A warrant had been made out for this appointment; but the Chancellor, on constitutional and personal grounds, highly disapproved of it. He ventured to re
* Taken from Lords' Journals. See I Parl. Hist. 353. I must say that this speech of "the dancing Chancellor" is in better taste than any performance of his predecessors, either ecclesiastical or legal,
† Harl. MSS. 6994. f. 148.
monstrate against it, and he induced Burghley to join [AUG. 1588.] with him in trying to convince the Queen of the impolicy of the measure. Without any open rupture with the Queen, the Chancellor contrived still to withhold the Great Seal from the patent,-when the man who had so long swayed her inclinations and had compromised her reputation, was opportunely seized with a violent disorder which, whether it arose from natural causes, or from the anguish of disappointed ambition, or from poison administered by his wife and [SEPT. 1588.] her paramour, quickly terminated his existence.
The Queen's extravagant purpose was thus concealed from the public, and after a plentiful effusion of tears in memory of her worthless favourite, tranquillity was restored to the Court. Had Hatton been still Vice-chamberlain and Gentleman of the Privy Chamber,—at leisure to masque it as in former days, he probably would now have filled, without dispute, the vacancy which Leicester's death created; but while he was sitting in the Star Chamber and in the Court of Chancery, and listening to applications at his private house for injunctions in cases of great emergency, and consulting anxiously with Dr. Swale how he should dispose of petitions, and what decrees were to be pronounced in the causes which he had heard, (besides, that he was now somewhat declining into the vale of years),-the young Earl of Essex, not yet twenty-one, was sighing at her feet, and by his songs and his tilting, by his spirit and address, by his flowing locks and unrazored lip, had captivated her affections, and had been rapidly promoted to be Master of the Horse, Captain General of the cavalry, a Knight of the Garter, and Prime Favourite. The spoiled schoolboy, tired of the fondness of "the old woman," as he called her, had fled the Court and clandestinely joined the expedition fitted out under Sir Francis Drake, for the coast of Spain, to avenge on Philip the insults of the Armada. Still Hatton was too much occupied to avail himself of this conjuncture, and he had the deep mortification of finding himself on his occasional [A. D. 1589.] visits to Whitehall or St. James's, to Richmond or Greenwich, entirely neglected and slighted for younger men.
The handsome youth from Devonshire who had thrown his brave silken cloak into the mire for a foot-cloth to the Queen had been appointed to the post which he himself had once held, and which he would now have been delighted to exchange for the Great Seal Sir Walter Raleigh was intrusted with the special care of her person as Captain of her band of Gentlemen Pensioners."
Once, while Hatton was holding the Great Seal in its red velvet bag, at a tilting match, to which he had been invited during the vacation, he was present when the Queen singled out Charles Blount, the second son of Lord Mountjoy, then a student in the Inner Temple, expressed her approbation of his looks and agility, presented her hand for him to kiss, and sent him a chess queen of
gold as a token which he openly bound to his arm with a crimson riband.*
The youths could not have any serious apprehensions from the rivalry of the Chancellor, but they combined with other more experienced courtiers, who marked his declining favour, to set the Queen against him, and there was a general disposition at Court to vex and annoy him. We may remember that the Queen had lent a sum of money to free him from the embarrassments occasioned by his youthful extravagance, and he had since become farther indebted to her in respect of certain crown rents he had received, for which he was liable to account. Perhaps [A. D. 1591.] without any prompting (for she was always very mean in money concerns), she now desired that all these debts should be discharged, and she represented to him that as he had been for two or three years in possession of the most lucrative office in
ledged the gift, he could no longer plead poverty. He acknow
ledged the debt and her Majesty's forbearance, but represented his total inability yet to discharge it on account of the great charges brought upon him by the manner in which his installation had been conducted for her Majesty's honour, and by reason of his having confined himself strictly to the ancient fees, which, from the increased expense of living, had became very inadequate. He did not ask her to forgive him the debt, but he earnestly implored that further time might be allowed him for its payment. She was inexorable, and believing that this excuse was a mere pretence for cheating her, she directed her Attorney and Solicitor General to institute legal proceedings against him on his bond and statute merchant, under which the whole of his goods and lands might have been seized, and his person would have been liable to imprisonment.
All contemporary accounts agree that the Queen's neglect and cruelty had such an effect upon his spirits that he died of a broken heart. In Trinity term, 1591, it was publicly observed that he had lost his gaiety and, good looks. He did not rally during the long vacation, and when Michaelmas term came round he was confined to his bed. His sad condition being related to Elizabeth, all her former fondness for him revived, and she herself hurried to his house in Ely Place with cordial broths, in the hope of restoring him. These she warmed and offered him with her own hand, while he lay in bed, — adding many soothing expressions, and bidding him live for her sake. But," he said, "all will not do: no pulleys will draw up a heart once cast down, though a Queen herself should set her hand thereunto." He died in the evening of Friday the 21st of November, in the 52d year of his age.t
* This incident afterwards gave rise to a duel between Blount and the Earl of Essex, to the great delight of the Queen, who said "that her beauty had been the object of their quarrel." Had the Chancellor been the challenger, he might have recovered his lost ground.
† Camden, without descending into particulars which he considered inconsistent