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would probably have directed this ceremony to complete the title.
So fond was he of law terms, that afterwards, when Henry IV. is made to lecture the Prince of Wales on his irregularities, and to liken him to Richard II., who, by such improper conduct, lost the crown, he uses the forced and harsh figure, that Richard
“Enfeoffed himself to popularity” (Act III. Sc. 2). I copy Malone's note of explanation on this line :“Gave himself up absolutely to popularity. A feoffment was the ancient mode of conveyance, by which all lands in England were granted in fee-simple for several ages, till the conveyance of lease and release was invented by Serjeant Moor about the year 1630. Every deed of feoffment was accompanied with livery of seisin, that is, with the delivery of corporal possession of the land or tenement granted in fee."
To “sue out livery” is another law term used in this play (Act iv. Sc. 3),-a proceeding to be taken by a ward of the crown, on coming of age, to obtain possession of his lands, which the king had held as guardian in chivalry during his minority. Hotspur, in giving a description of Henry the Fourth's beggarly and suppliant condition when he landed at Ravenspurg, till assisted by the Percys, says,
“ And when he was not six-and-twenty strong,
Sick in the world's regard, wretched and low,
King Henry the Fourth,
Arguments have been drawn from this drama against Shakespeare's supposed great legal acquirements. It has been objected to the very amusing interview, in Act 1. Sc. 2, between Falstaff and the Lord Chief Justice, that if Shakespeare had been much of a lawyer, he would have known that this great magistrate could not examine offenders in the manner supposed, and could only take notice of offences when they were regularly prosecuted before him in the Court of King's Bench, or at the assizes. But although such is the practice in our days, so recently as the beginning of the eighteenth century that illustrious Judge, Lord Chief Justice Holt, acted as a police magistrate, quelling riots, taking depositions against parties accused, and, where a primâ facie case was made out against them, committing them for trial. Lord Chief Justice Coke actually assisted in taking the Earl and Countess of Somerset into custody when charged with the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, and examined not less than three hundred witnesses against them,-writing the depositions with his own hand. It was quite in course that those charged with the robbery at Gadshill should be “had up” before Lord Chief Justice Gascoigne, and that he should take notice of any of them who, having disobeyed a summons to appear before him, happened to come casually into his presence.
His Lordship is here attended by the tipstaff (or orderly), who, down to the present day, follows the Chief Justice, like his shadow, wherever he officially appears. On this occasion the Chief Justice meeting Sir John, naturally taxes him with having refused to obey the summons served upon him to attend at his Lordship’s chambers, that he might answer the information laid against him; and Sir John tries to excuse himself by saying that he was then advised by his “counsel learned in the laws,” that, as he was marching to Shrewsbury by the king's orders, he was not bound to come.
Again, it is objected that a Chief Justice could not be supposed, by any person acquainted with his station and functions, to use such vulgar language as that put into the mouth of Sir William Gascoigne when Falstaff
the butcher's shop in which it is alleged that young Shakespeare employed himself in killing calves.
Ch. Just. To punish you by the heels would amend the attention of your ears; and I care not if I do become your physician.
But “to lay by the heels” was the technical expression for committing to prison, and I could produce from the Reports various instances of its being so used by distinguished judges from the bench. I will content myself with one. A petition being heard in the Court of Chancery, before Lord Chancellor Jeffreys, against a great City attorney who had given him many briefs at
Lord Chancellor, he exclaimed—“My Lord Chancellor ! I made him!” Lord Chancellor Jeffreys :—“Then will I lay my MAKER by the heels.” A warrant of commitment was instantly signed and sealed by the Lord Chancellor, and the poor attorney was sent off to the Fleet.
I must confess that I am rather mortified by the advantage given to the fat knight over my predecessor in this encounter of their wits. Sir John professes to treat the Chief Justice with profound reverence, interlarding his sentences plentifully with your Lordship“God give your Lordship good time of day: I am glad to see your Lordship abroad: I heard say your Lordship was sick: I hope your Lordship goes abroad by advice. Your Lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time, and I most humbly beseech your Lordship to have a reverend care of your health.” Yet Falstaff's object is to turn the Lord Chief Justice into
ceeds,-insomuch that after the party accused of felony has vaingloriously asserted that he himself had done great service to the state, and that his name was terrible to the enemy, the Chief Justice, instead of committing him to Newgate to answer for the robbery at Gadshill, is contented with admonishing him to be honest, and dismisses him with a blessing ;-upon which Sir John is emboldened to ask the Chief Justice for the loan of a
Chief Justice is made to break off the conversation, in which Falstaff's wit is so sparkling, with a very bad pun.
Ch. Just. Not a penny, not a penny: you are too impatient to bear crosses.*
The same superiority, is preserved in the subsequent
mesne process for debt at the suit of Dame Quickly, he gains his discharge, with the consent of the Chief
* So bad is this pun that perhaps it may not be useless to remind you that the penny and all the royal coins then had impressed upon them the sign of the cross..