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Which fatal swiftness did the other lead,
No, let her mourn; the sad expression runs
In the same strain with what her true-born sons
A ROD FOR THE LAWYERS:
WHO ARE HEREBY DECLARED TO BE THE GRAND ROBBERS
AND DECEIVERS OF THE NATION;
GREEDILY DEVOURING YEARLY MANY MILLIONS OF
THE PEOPLE'S MONEY.
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
A WORD TO THE PARLIAMENT,
A WORD TO THE ARMY.
BY WILLIAU COLE, A LOVER OF HIS COUNTRY.
Isa. x. 1, 2.-Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write
grievousness that they have prescribed : To turn aside the needy from judg. ment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows
may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. Isa. ii. 14.-The spoil of the poor is in your houses.
London: Printed in the year 1659. Quarto, containing twenty pages *.
COURTEOUS READER, HAD
AD not my affections to my countrymen more engaged me,
than any particular enmity I have against the lawyers corrupt interest, by any damage I have sustained by them, I should have forborne publishing the ensuing lines. But if the very heathens could say,
non solùm nobis nati sumus," we are not only born for ourselves, but that, next to the duty we owe to God, we are bound, every individual man, to be a helpful member to his country. Why should I, or any man, keep silence, whilst this pestiferous generation of the lawyers runs from city to country, seeking whom they may devour? It is thy duty, as well as mine, to cry aloud for justice against them; it is thy duty, and every honest
* This is the fortieth number in the catalogue of pamphlets in the Harleian Library, VOL, VII.
Englishman's to the land, to take care hereafter never to chuse any of that generation to make laws for us: I say, not to chuse them for parliament men. Were not there too many of them now in this present parliament, I should hope and expect far bet. ter things than now I do; but now God is pulling down the high and mighty, is discovering the wickedness of men in power, hath, most miraculously, slain the glory of princes, I can with confidence
say, “ Deus dabit his quoque finem.” I do not altogether despair, that, before I die, I may see the inns of courts, of dens of thieves, converted into hospitals, which were a rare piece of justice: that so as they formerly have immured those that robbed the poof of houses, so they may, at last, preserve the poor themselves.
That the end of all laws and magistracy ought principally to tend to the ease. safety, and well-being of the people governed, I presume no rational man or men will deny. And, indeed, therefore it is the usual cry and saying, both among the masters of oppression, the lawyers, and the ignorant people that know no better, that the laws of England, as also the ways of executing them, are the safest and best laws in the world; and whosoever shall alter the said laws, or ways of executing them, will unavoid. ably introduce a mischief instead of a benefit. But to those is answered, that the major part of the laws, made in this nation, are founded on principles of tyranny, fallacy, and oppression, for the profit and benefit of those that made them; for know this, that when William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, undertook to conquer this nation, he was not singly himself able to raise money or men enough to perform such a design, without the voluntary conjunction of most of the nobles and gentry that were his sub. jects; who sold and mortgaged almost all the lands and estates they had in Normandy, to furnish them out in that design. Now, therefore, when the said William had conquered this nation, he was forced to suffer those his Norman peers to share with him in the benefit, as they voluntarily did in the hazard. From him it came to pass, that he, the said conqueror, and his nobles, made a division of the land amongst themselves, and whosoever were tenants to the said conquerors, held all their lands for a long space in vassalage under them, merely at their will and mercy; whereupon all laws were made in French, and it was accounted a base thing in England to be called an Englishman. Then did these conquerors make such laws as suited best to keep the people in slavery and subjection, as the English now use the Irish, that they might have all the benefit they possibly could screw out of the people. llence came it to pass, that all penal laws were made for the benefit of the king, the lords of manors, and other great officers, who were the king's creatures. This was, and still is, the ground and reason why the life of man, which assuredly, by the law of rea301, is sufficient to answer any crime, was not alone taken away
upon conviction of treason, murther, or felony, but also the estates of offenders were forfeited by law to the king, or lord of the manor; which hath been the cause that many an ionocent hath suffered, as Naboth, who was destroyed by Ahab, that so he might enjoy his vineyard. These laws were not before the conquest, neither have been since the conquest ever introduced in Kent; which county submitted to the said Duke of Normandy, reserv. ing to themselves their laws and rights; and therefore it is the saying in Kent, “ the father to the bough, and the son to the plough:” and surely in that county is as little robbing, murther. ing, &c. as in other counties; and therefore there is not such necessity for that law, as some sophisters pretend, to keep the people in dread and awe: neither indeed do I think there is such an absolute necessity for the hanging men for theft, but, as heretofore in the nation, there may be another way found out, more agreeable to the laws of God and reason, for punishing of theft, as selling to foreign plantations, or the like, &c. But, if at last the law to hang thieves must continue, I wish it may take hold of the great ones first, lest we renew the practice once in Athens, where they hanged none but little thieves, and the great thieves pronounced sentence. " Verbum sat sapienti:" I am more afraid of those that rob by power of a law, than those that sneakingly endeavour to take my purse on the highway. Now, although it may be alledged, and truly that is all, for by reason it cannot be proved, that there is some reason for the forfeiting the estates aforesaid; yet, at least, let the person damnised be the enjoyer, or the wife and children of the person murdered. But why there should come forfeitures on ships cast away, driven up to full sea. mark, to lose the best cable and anchor; men to be carried away into slavery, taken at sea, the ship remaining with her lading firm and sound, to be forfeited to the lord admiral for a deodand to be forfeited; to say, if a horse drown his master, the horse to be forfeited, and this to be pleaded for; or many such laws, to be grounded on reason, is so ridiculous, that I think the first and grand deceiver of mankind cannot find sophistry enough to furnish the lawyers with to plead for it.
But some will say, that, though we were conquered, yet our noble ancestors, by dint of sword in the barons wars, regained • their freedom, and forced the king to condescend to that famous ' law, called Magna Charta.'
For answer, know this, that when the nobles in those days found the king altogether inclined to his minions and flatterers, and thereby made laws to inslave the said nobles as well as the com. mons had been before, they saw there was a necessity for them to stand up for their own privileges; who, being popular, what by fear and love, they engaged the commons with them in war, and took the king prisoner, forcing him to consent to all things that were necessary, to preserve themselves from the king's will, but never, in the least, acted from any love to the poor commons, but what they were absolutely necessitated to; neither freed the said
commons from the bondage they were in to themselves. Now, as all the laws of the land have been made by the king, the great lords, gentry, and lawyers, when the lower house, one-third
part whereof usually consisted of lawyers, had gratified the king and upper house; so also did the king gratify the lower house, both the gentry and lawyers, and agreed to laws for their advantage. For indeed, it is not much for the advantage of the gentry, that seeing the laws are so corrupt and chargeable, they thereby can, and indeed have done, and in most parts do still keep the poor in such subjection, that not only their own tenants, but other poor that live near them, must run and go, and work, and obey them,, as they shall please to command them, else they run the hazard of being undone; and what advantage the charge and delay of lawsuits is to the great lawyers, you may judge. How have some lawyers, from being worth nothing but their books, come to purchase thousands yearly lands, as it is commonly called, by the sins of the people! This is the reason why parliaments have not made the nation free; our pretending deliverers have been our destroyers; and, indeed, it was irrational to expect better things. Who will expect grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Who will expect ease from oppression, from masters of oppression, the lawyers ? If you will have clean streams flow from the fountain, you must be sure to cleanse the fountain itself.
That the lawyers have only sought their own advantage, al. though to the total impoverishing the nation, consider this fol. lowing:
I have often, both in city and country, made as near an ine quiry as possibly I could in a general way, what number of law. yers there might be in England and Wales, in all offices, as judges, masters of chancery, serjeants at law, counsellors, attornies, sol. licitors, with the rest of the rabble; and I cannot find, by calcu. lation, but that there are, great and small, masters and servants, by the best account I can estimate, above thirty thousand. Now, consider at what high rates the very meanest of these live; see but a very country hackney, and you will find he goeth clothed in a genteel garb, and all his family; he keeps company with the gentry, and yet usually quickly getteth an estate over and above his expences, which cannot possibly be less than one hundred and fifty pounds per annum. Now, if sạch country lawyers live at that rate, bring the judges, masters of rolls, counsellors, attornies, registers, cum multis aliis, in the common law, chancery, and admiralty, and you will find that this mercenary generation, one with another, do not receive less yearly from the people, in their law-practice, I say the number of thirty thousand, than two hun. dred and fifty pounds per annum each man. What, if some have but fifty, then know some have thousands. Surely, I believe, that Prideaux ard Maynard will not, nor can deny it. Now, at this rate, to say, two hundred and fifty pounds per annum to each lawyer, these thirty thousand receive seven millions and half of money yearly, which is seventy-five hundred thousand pounds;