« VorigeDoorgaan »
ger, and not the whole estate of their religion and well-doing, she would most willingly pardon the offence committed against her; but that she would, for the good of her subjects, take the matter into consideration, and send them her resolution with all conveniency." The ungainly Puckering was attended, on this occasion, and prompted by, the accomplished courtier, Hatton, the Queen's Vice-chamberlain, who pleased her much more than the Serjeant, and, without any one suspecting it, was now so near to greatness.
The fears of Elizabeth and the English nation being quieted by the death of Mary, for which they were all so eager,-Puckering's next appearance was as counsel to prosecute Secretary Davison, in the Star Chamber, for his presumption in sending off the warrant for execution without due authority. The account says, that "he aggravated Davison's offence, and was forward to accuse, and yet seemed more pro forma tantum than of any matter he had to charge him withal."* And certainly those who were then assembled must have had more gravity than the Roman Augurs meeting each other, if they were able to keep their countenance while they were playing their parts in this farce; although it turned out a serious matter for the poor Secretary, who had a heavy fine imposed upon him, and was permanently deprived of his office.
For these services, Puckering was now made Queen's Serjeant, and thereby put over the Attorney and Solicitor [A. D. 1575.] General.†
He was soon after leading counsel for the Crown in the celebrated prosecution of Knightley for a libel before the Star Chambert, and the important trial of the Earl of Arundel for high treason, before the Court of the Lord High Steward.§ On this last occasion he had rather a curious dialogue with the noble prisoner, who desired to know how he was a traitor? Puckering, Serj. "The traitors have a good conceit of my Lord of Arundel, knowing him to be affected to the Catholic cause. It is defined, that the Catholic cause is mere treason. Petro Paulo Rosetto came over to sound noblemen and gentlemen in England." There was a picture produced, found in my Lord's trnnk, wherein was painted a hand bitten with a serpent, shaking the serpent into the fire, -about which was written this posy, Quis contra nos?-on the other side a lion rampant, with his chops all bloody, and this posy, Tamen Leo. The noble prisoner in vain said "he had received it innocently as a new-year's gift." He was found guilty by his Peers; but being respited, he died a natural death in the Tower. T
Puckering's last appearance at the bar was on the trial of Sir John Perrot, late Lord Deputy of Ireland, for high treason. This rough soldier had always been very loyal to the Queen; but, when
* 1 St. Tr. 1233.
† Or. Jur. 97.
1 St. Tr. 1263.
§ PUCKERINGUS, Regius ad legem serviens, exorsus primam accusationis partem fusius explicavit."-Camd. Eliz. vol. ii 4.
|| 1 St. Tr, 1253.
T Ibid. 1263.
in a passion, had been in the habit of speaking of her very disrespectfully; and being recalled in disgrace, his enemies, taking advantage of his hasty expressions, were resolved to bring him to the scaffold.
Puckering, in opening the case to the Jury, gravely contended, that words were sufficient to establish the charge against the prisoner, for "the original of his treasons proceeded from the imagination of his heart, which imagination was in itself high treason, albeit the same proceeded not to any overt act; and the heart being possessed with the abundance of his traitorous imagination, and not being able to contain itself, burst forth in vile and traitorous speeches, for Ex abundantia cordis os loquitur.”*
Evidence was then given that the prisoner, when Lord Deputy, had said at the Council table, "Stick not so much on the Queen's letters of commandment, for she may command what she will, but we will do what we list." " Nay, God's wounds! I think it strange she should use me thus." "This fiddling woman troubles me out of measure." It is not safe for her Majesty to break such sour bread to her servants;" and that he had used other such uncourtly expressions. A feeble attempt was likewise made to show that he had been engaged in a treasonable correspondence with the Prince of Parma.
Puckering, as leading counsel for the Crown, then summed up, and (seemingly without any speech from the prisoner, or direction from the bench,) "prayed the jury to consider well of that which had been said, and willed them to go together." Perrot, however, burst out in a passion, desiring them to have a conscience in the matter, and to remember "that his blood would be required at their hands." The jury departed from the bar, and in three quarters of an hour returned with a verdict of Guilty.†
The Queen was much pleased with the report brought to her of Serjeant Puckering's zeal on this occasion, and she forthwith rewarded him for it; but it should be remembered to her honour, that when she afterwards read an account of the trial she refused to allow the sentence to be carried into execution,-repeating with applause the rescript of Theodosius, "If any person speak ill of the Emperor through a foolish rashness or inadvertency, it is to be despised; if out of madness, it deserves pity; if from malice, it calls for mercy."
Puckering's honours were showered upon him at Greenwich in the evening of Sunday the 28th day of May, 1592. First, he was conducted into the Queen's closet and there knighted.‡ He was next admitted of the Privy Council, and having taken the oaths, he was led into the Council Chamber, placed at the lower end of the Council table, and made to sign a paper as Privy Councillor.
* 1 St. Tr. 1318.
‡ Ibid. 1326.
+ "Per semetipsam Dnam. Reginam in privatâ camerâ suâ in Equestrem dignitatem recepius fuit et ornatus.'
He was then conducted back to the Queen's closet, where her Majesty having addressed to him an eloquent discourse upon the duties of the office she was about to bestow upon him, and exhorted him to strive to please God and to do justice to all who should come before him as suitors*, delivered into his hands the Great Seal, with the title of "Lord Keeper." He then with the other Councillors returned to the Council Chamber, and took his place at the upper end of the table according to his new rank.
Other memorable legal promotions took place at the same time, -Sir John Popham being made Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench,-Sir Thomas Egerton, Attorney General,-and Sir Edward Coke, Solicitor General.
On the 4th of June, the Lord Leeper rode in great state from York House, near Charing Cross, which became the official residence of several successive Lord Keepers and Lord Chancellors, to Westminster Hall, attended by a long retinue of Lords, Knights, Judges, and lawyers, and publicly took the oaths in the Court of Chancery. Four days afterwards he sat the first time in the Star Chamber.
Puckering held the Great Seal as Lord Keeper till his death, a period of four years,-with the character of judicial ability and personal integrity. But although profoundly versed in all the mysteries of the common law, he was nothing of a civilian, and his mind was not much imbued with the general principles of jurisprudence. His practice had been confined almost entirely to the Common Pleas, till, in his capacity of Queen's Serjeant, he was obliged to conduct government prosecutions. He had occasionally of late gone into the Court of Chancery; but from Lord Chancellor Hatton his knowledge as an Equity lawyer did not much improve. He was thought therefore to take too narrow and technical a view of the questions which came before him, and he left the field of equity almost virgin ground to his successor, Lord Ellesmere, by whom it was cultivated so successfully.
There being a call for Serjeants soon after his installation, he gave his brethren these admonitions,—some of which would be very serviceable to the bar at the present day :
"If you find the cause to be unconscionable, cruel, unmerciful, or grounded upon malice or for vexation, reject it and deal not therein. Dissuade your client from it, which, if you cannot do, leave him in his madness and phrensy. In all your pleadings seek not advantages to trip one of you the other by covin or niceness; and as you are of one profession, so lovingly and brotherly warn the one the other of any thing mistaken or misconceived in pleading. I am to exhort you also not to embrace multitude of causes, or undertake more places of hearing causes than you are well able to
Quoad tam placitandum Deo, qm ut ppli sui omnes coram ipso causas ad agendum hentes, bono moderamine tractarent et recte ab eo in omnibus satiefie rent."-Rot. Cl. 34 Eliz,
consider of or perform, lest thereby you either disappoint your clients when their causes be heard, or come unprovided, or depart when their causes be in hearing. For it is all one not to come as either to come unprovided or depart before it be ended."*
A new parliament was called in the beginning of the year 1593, and Lord Keeper Puckering, in the presence of [FEB. 19, 1593.] the Queen, delivered the initiatory harangue to the two Houses. With all the prolixity and tediousness of Serjeants in old times, he dilated upon the relations of England with Spain, France, the Empire, the Low Countries, and Scotland: He drew a piteous picture of her Highness's necessities, "which had actually caused her to sell part of her Highness's Crown:" He warned them that the calling of this parliament was "not for the making of any more new laws, for there were already so many that, rather than burden the subjects with more, it were fitting that an abridgement were made of those there were already; and,” said he, “whereas, heretofore, it hath been used that many have delighted themselves in long orations, full of verbosity, and of vain ostentations, the time that is precious should not be so spent."+
The Speaker elected was the famous Edward Coke, lately made Solicitor General, who when presented at the bar of the House of Lords disqualified himself to the Queen in quaint phrase, saying, among other things, "as in the heavens a star is but opacum corpus until it have received light from the sun, so stand I corpus opacum, a mute body, until your Highness's bright shining wisdom hath looked upon me and allumed me. How unable I am to do this office my present speech doth tell: of this House I am most unfit; for amongst them there are many. grave, many learned, many deep wise men, and those of ripe judgments; but I am untimely fruit, not yet ripe, a bud scarcely blossomed. So, as I fear me, your Majesty will say, Neglecta frugi, eliguntur folia,-amongst so many fair fruit ye have plucked a shaken leaf.”‡ The Lord Keeper, by the Queen's command, thus addressed him:
Mr. Solicitor, her Grace's most excellent Majesty hath willed me to signify unto you, that she hath ever well conceived of you since she first heard of you, which will appear when her Highness elected you from others to serve herself. By this, your modest, wise and well composed speech, you give her Majesty further occasion to conceive of you above that which ever she thought was in you. By endeavouring to deject and abase yourself and your desert, you have discovered and made known your worthiness and sufficiency to discharge the place you are called to. And whereas you account yourself corpus opacum, her Majesty, by the influence of her virtue and wisdom, doth enlighten you, and not only alloweth and
† 1 Parl. Hist. 858.
* Reg. Lib. A. 1580. f. 189. 1 Parl. Hist. 861.
approveth you, but much thanketh the Lower House, and commendeth their discretion in making so good a choice, and selecting so fit a man."
Speaker Coke then delivered another florid oration in her Majesty's praise, concluding with the triple prayer in the name of the Commons, for freedom of speech, freedom from arrest, and access to her royal person.
Lord Keeper Puckering.-" Liberty of speech is granted you; but you must know what privilege you have ;-not to speak every one what he listeth, or what cometh in his brain to utter-but your privilege is Aye! or No! wherefore, Mr. Speaker, her Majesty's pleasure is, that if you perceive any idle heads which will not stick. to hazard their own estates, which will meddle with reforming the Church, and transposing the Commonwealth, and do exhibit any bills to that purpose, that you receive them not until they be viewed and considered by those who it is fitter should consider of such things, and can better judge of them."*
The famous Peter Wentworth, the Puritan, and three other members, thought to evade this injunction by presenting a petition to the Lord Keeper, instead of making a motion in the House, that the Lords would join in supplicating her Majesty that she would agree to settle the succession to the Crown, for which they had a bill ready drawn. But they were immediately called before the Council, and the Lord Keeper telling them that the Queen was highly displeased at their presumption, they were all committed to prison. A motion was made for their release; but it was answered that her Majesty had committed them for causes best known to herself, and that she would release them whenever she thought proper, and would be better pleased to do it of her own proper motion than from their suggestion.†
At the close of the session Speaker Coke, having delivered an oration comparing her Majesty to the queen bee, sine aculeo, Lord Keeper Puckering was not very complimentary to the Commons, saying that "her Majesty thought that, in some things, they had spent more time than they needed. She misliked also that such irreverence was shown to Privy Councillors, who were not to be accounted as common knights and burgesses of the House, who are councillors only during the parliament; whereas the others are standing councillors, and for their wisdom and great service are called to the wisdom of the state."-So was privilege dealt with by these great lawyers, Puckering and Coke, who were probably applauded by many for assisting in restraining the usurpation of the Commons!
During Puckering's time parliament did not again meet, and no other public event occurred in which he was concerned,-entire tranquillity prevailing at home, and the attention of the nation. being absorbed by the expeditions fitted out against Spain.
† D'Ewes, p. 497.
* 1 Parl. Hist. 862.