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SPOKEN IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,
The Reverend Father in God,
ROBERT, LORD BISHOP OF COVENTRY AND LITCHFIELD.
Being brought to the Bar to answer for himself.
Loudon, printed by R. B. for Richard Lownds, and are to be sold at his Shop
without Ludgate. 1641. Quarto, containing six Pages.
Master Speaker, AS
S it hath been ever my fashion (and, in truth, it is my disposition)
to endeavour, at the least, to give satisfaction to every man, even to the meanest, that hath had any sinister conceptions of me, be it scandalum datum, or acceptum ; so hath it been my ambition, and I have sought it with affection (as to all men) so much more to this honourable assembly, especially concerning the late petition and protestation exhibited unto bis sacred Majesty, and the lords and peers in parliament. But, in the first place, Master Speaker, I am, as it becomes me, to give most hearty and condign thanks to the poble knights, citizens, and burgesses, of this honourable house of commons, for that they have been pleased, by a general vote, and, I hope, unanimous, to give me leave to speak for myself, and to lay open the truth of my cause, concerning the said petition and protestation before them.
And now, Master Speaker, to address myself to the business, whereof I shall not speak as a lawyer, for I have no head for law, neither shall I need to touch upon any point thereof; nor as a flourishing orator, as dosirous to hear himself speak, I have long since laid aside my books of rhethorick: my
desire is, Master Speaker, to tread in the steps of an old divine, of whom Sozomen writes in his ecclesiastical history, who, groaning under the like heavy burthen and accusation as I do, chose rather to vent his own sense, and express the truth of his cause in plain language, than to colour or cloak falshood, and to extenuate his offence, by forced, trapped, and new varnished eloquence: and to that purpose, my conceptions and narration shall stand only upon two feet, negation and affirmation. There are some things that I must deny, and, yet justly, somewhat I must affirm, and that I shall do ingenuously and fully. First, for the negative: I never framed, made, nor contrived,
compiled, or preferred, any such petition or protestation; I never was at any meeting, consultation, or conference, about any such business; nay, I never heard of any intention, much less execution of any such thing, until it was the Wednesday in Christmas, being the 29th of December, at which time it was brought unto my house in Coventgarden, being betwixt six or seven at night (subscribed by eleven of my brethren) with a request, that I would subscribe suddenly also. And for the affirmation, presuming that so many learned, grave, and wise men, well versed in matters of that nature, would not have attempted any such thing, without good counsel, to the endangering of themselves, and their brethren, and to the distaste of the lords, and that all the rest of the bishops, in or about the cities of London or Westminster, should subscribe thereunto, and that it should not be preferred, without the approbation, and mature deliberation of good counsel, and of us all: I made the twelfth, and set to my hand, which I do now acknowledge, and never denied; nay, the first time that I came to the bar in the Lords house, Iacknowledged that my hand was to it, and divers of this honourable presence heard it so read unto them, out of the journal of the lords house.
Now, Master Speaker, if these my deceived and deceiving thoughts (to use St. Bernard's phrase) have led me into an error, the error is either Ex ignorantia juris, an unskilfulness in the law, or Debilitate judicü, a weakness of my apprehension, or else Ex nimia credulitate, out of the too much confidence in others, not of any prepensed malice, or out of a spirit of contradiction, as the Lord knoweth. The schoolmen tell me, that Duo sunt in omni peccato, there is actio, et malitia actionis ; I own the action, the subscription is mine; but, that there was any malice in the action (to cross any vote, at which I was not present, nor never heard of) I utterly disavow.
And, therefore, Master Speaker, I shall become an humble suitor, that I may recommend three înost humble requests, or motions, to this honourable house.
The first motion is, that you would be pleased to tread in the steps of Constantine, the Christian emperor, who had ever this resolution, that, if he should see Sacerdotem peccantem, an offending divine, he would rather cast his purple garment upon him, than reveal the offence, for the gospel's sake of Christ.
My second motion is, that, if my subscription shall make me a delinquent and worthy of any censure, then the censure may not exceed, but, at the highest, be proportionable to the offence.
The third and last motion is, that that of Plautus (after my fifty-eight years painful, constant, and successful preaching of the gospel of Christ in the kingdom of England, and in foreign parts) may not be verified of me: Si quid bene feceris, levior pluma gratia est ; si quid mali feceris, plumbeas iras gerunt. And now, Master Speaker, I might here tender divers motions to the consideration of this honourable house, for favourable construction of my rash subscription; I may say commiseration, but all without ostentation; that is far from me; but rather for the consolation of my perplexed soul, for the great affliction, restraint, and disgrace, which I have long sustained (which is far greater, than
ever I endured before, and transcends the dangers and jeopardies of the seas, and the miseries of the wars, whereof I have had my share) and partly for the vindication of my former reputation, calling, and profession, which is now so clouded, eclipsed, and blacked in the eyes
of the world, and scandalised in the mouths of the vulgar multitude, that, without reparation, and restoration to my former esteem, I shall never have heart to shew my face in a pulpit any more, wherein I have wished to end my days. But I wave them all, because I will not detain you from other occasions of greater importance, and desire my ways may be made known unto you rather by inquisition, than my own relation : only I shall appeal to the noble knights, citizens, and burgesses of the diocese where I now live, and of the other, wherein formerly I did live, as, namely, the honourable city of Bristol ; which I can never name without that title, not only in respect of their piety, unity, and conformity, but also in respect of their love, kindness, and extraordinary bounty unto me: I appeal to them for their testimonies, and knowledge of my courses amongst them ; nay, I appeal to the records of the honourable house, where, I am confident, after sixteen months sitting, there is nothing found, that can trench upon me; neither, I hope, will, or may be.
And therefore my humble suit is for expedition, if you intend accusation; or rather for your mediation, that I may speedily return to my own home and cure, to redeem the time, because the days are evil,' as the apostle speaks, and to regain the esteem and reputation, which I was long in getting, and long enjoyed, but lost in a moment; for, if I should out-live (I say not my bishoprick, but) my credit, my grey hairs and many years would soon be brought with sorrow to the grave.
I have done, Master Speaker, and there reinains nothing now, but that I become a petitioner unto Almighty God, that he will be pleased to bestow upon you all the patriarch's blessing, even the dew of heaven, and fatness of the earth; and I end with that of St. Jude,
Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied unto you:' I say again, with a religious and affectionate heart, Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied unto you.'
THE SEVERAL OFFICES, AND OFFICERS,
MILITIA OF ENGLAND,
With the power of the Parliament to raise the same, as they shall
judge expedient, &c.
Collected and found among the Papers of the late Mr, John Pymm,
HEN kings were first ordained in this realm, the kingdom, was
divided into forty portions, and every one of those portions or counties' was committed to some earl, to govern and defend it against the enemies of the realm. Mirror of Justice, p. S.
Those earls, after they received their government in each county, divided them into centurians or hundreds; and in every hundred was appointed a centurian or constable, who had his portion and limits assigned him to keep and defend with the power of the hundred, and were to be ready, upon all alarms, with their arms. against the common enemy. These, in some places, are called wapentakes, which, in French, doth signify taking of arms. Mirror, p. 10, 12. Henry VIII. folio. 16, 17.
King Alfred first ordained two parliaments to be kept every year, for the government of the people, where they were to receive laws and justice. Mirror, p. 10, 11.
The peers, in parliament, were to judge of all wrongs done by the king to any of his subjects. Mirror, p. 9.
The ancient manner of choosing and appointing of officers, was by those over whom their jurisdiction extended.
1. Tythingman: this man was, and at this day is, chosen by the men of his own tything, and by them presented to the leet, to be sworn for the true execution of his office,
2. Constable: this officer is chosen by the inhabitants who are to be governed by him, and those of the place where his jurisdiction lieth, and presented unto the leet to be sworn.
3. Coroner: this officer hath jurisdiction within the whole county, and therefore was chosen by the freeholders of the county, in the county court. Cook's Magna Charta, p. 174, 175, 559.
4. Such as had charge to punish such as were violaters of Magna- . Charta ; these were chosen in the county-court, as appeareth by Stat. 28. Ed. 1. c. 1. 17.
5. Sheriffs : were, in time past, and by the common law, to be chosen likewise in the county-court. Lamb. Saxon laws, fol. 136. stat. 28. Ed. I. c. 8, 13. Cook's Magna Charta, 175, 559. Mirror,
6. Lieutenants of counties (anciently known by the name of Heretoch) were chosen in the county-court (which Cook upon Magna Charta, p. 69. calls the folkmote.) Lamb. Saxon laws, folio 136. Mirror, p. 8, 11, 12.
7. Majors and bayliffs, in boroughs and towns corporate, are chosen by the commonalty of the same corporation within their jurisdiction.
8. Conservators of the peace were anciently chosen by the freeholders in the county-court. Cook's Magna Charta, 558, &c.
9. Knights for the parliament are to be chosen in the county-court, stat. 7. H. IV. cap. 15. 1. H. V. 1. 8. H. VI. cap. 7. 10. H. VI.
10. Verderers of the forest are chosen 'within their jurisdiction, by the inhabitants. Cook's Magna Charta, 559.
11. Admirals, being the sheriffs of the counties, as Selden in his Mare Clausum, p. 169, 188, affirms, must be chosen as the sheriffs were, viz. in the county-court. But the parliament of R. II. folio 29, saith, they are chosen in the parliament, the representative body of the realm, because they had the defence of the realm by sea committed unto them.
12. The captain of Calais, viz. Richard Earl of Warwick, in the time of Henry VI. refused to give up his captainship of Calais unto the king, because he received it in parliament. Cowels interpreter in the word Parliament.
13. The lord chancellor: to whom is committed the great seal of England, being the publick faith of the kingdom, was in former times chosen in parliament. Lamb. Archeion, p. 48. Dan. Chronicle, p. 189, 148, 195.
14. Lord treasurer: an officer to whom is of trust committed the treasure of the kingdom, was, in like manner, chosen in parliament.
15. Chief justice: an officer unto whom is committed the administration of the justice of the realm, was chosen in parliament. Lamb. Archeion, p. 48. ut supra.
Anno 15. Ed. III, the king was petitioned in parliament, that the high officers of the kingdom might, as in former times, be chosen in parliament. To which the king yielded, that they should be sworn in