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thority of the master of the rolls, to hear and determine causes, and his general power in the court of chancery, there were (not many years since) divers questions, and disputes very warmly agitated; to quiet which, it was declared by statute 3 Geo. II. c..30, that all orders and decrees by him made, except such as by the course of the court were appropriated to the great seal alone, should be deemed to be valid; subject nevertheless to be discharged or altered by the lord chancellor, and so as they shall not be enrolled, till the same are signed by his lordship. Either party may be subpoenaed to hear judgment on the day so fixed for the hearing; and then, if the plaintiff does not attend, his bill is dismissed with costs; or, if the defendant makes default, a decree will be made against him, which will be final, unless he pays the plaintiff's cost of attendance and shows good cause to the contrary on a day appointed by the court. A plaintiff's bill may also at any time be dismissed for want of prosecution, which is in the nature of a non-suit at law, if he suffers three terms to elapse without moving forward in the cause. When there are cross-causes, on a cross-bill filed by the defendant against the plaintiff in the original cause, they are generally contrived to be brought on together, that the same hearing and the same decree may serve for both of them. The method of hearing causes in court is usually this. The parties on both sides appearing by their counsel, the plaintiff's bill is first opened, or briefly abridged, and the defendant's answer also, by the junior counsel on each side; after which the plaintiff's leading counsel states the case and the matters in issue, and the points of equity arising therefrom; and then such depositions as are called for by the plaintiff are read by one of the six clerks, and the plaintiff may also read such part of the defendant's answer as he thinks material or convenient and after this the rest of the counsel for the plaintiff make their observations and arguments. Then the defendant's counsel go through the same process for him, except that they may not read any part of his answer; and the counsel for the plaintiff are heard in reply. When all are heard, the court pronounces the decree, adjusting every point in debate according to equity and good conscience; which decree being usually very long, the minutes of it are taken down, and read openly in court by the registrar. The matter of costs to be given to either party is not here held to be a point of right by merely discretionary (by the statute 17 Ric. II. c. 6) according to the circumstances of the case, as they appear more or less favorable to the party

vanquished. And yet the statute 15 Hen. VI. c. 4 seems expressly to direct, that as well damages as costs shall be given to the defendant, if wrongfully vexed in this court.

The chancellor's decree is either interlocutory or final. It very seldom happens that the first decree can be final, or conclude the cause; for, if any matter of fact is strongly controverted, this court is so sensible of the deficiency of trial by written depositions, that it will not bind the parties thereby, but usually directs the matter to be tried by jury; especially such important facts as the validity of a will, or whether A. is the heir at law of B., or the existence of a modus decimandi, or real and immemorial composition for tithes. But, as no jury can be summoned to attend this court, the fact is usually directed to be tried at the bar of the court of king's bench, or at the assizes, upon a feigned issue. For (in order to bring it there, and have the point in dispute, and that only, put in issue) an action is brought, wherein the plaintiff by a fiction declares that he laid a wager of 5 with the defendant that A. was an heir at law to B.; and then avers that he is so; and therefore demands the 5 l. The defendant admits the feigned wager, but avers that A. is not the heir to B.; and thereupon that issue is joined, which is directed out of chancery to be tried; and thus the verdict of the jurors at law determines the fact in the court of equity. These feigned issues seem borrowed from the sponsio judicialis of the Romans; and are also frequently used in the courts of law, by consent of the parties, to determine some disputed rights without the formality of pleading, and thereby to save much time and expense in the decision of a cause.

So, likewise, if a question of mere law arises in the course of a cause, as whether by the words of a will an estate for life or in tail is created, or whether a future interest devised by a testator shall operate as a reminder or any executory devise, it is the practice of this court to refer it to the opinion of the judges of the court of king's bench or common pleas, upon a case stated for that purpose, wherein all the material facts are admitted, and the point of law is submitted to their decision; who thereupon hear it solemnly argued by counsel on both sides, and certify their opinion to the chancellor. And upon such certificate the decree is usually founded.

Another thing also retards the completion of decrees. Frequently long accounts are to be settled, encumbrances and debts to be inquired into, and a hundred little facts to be cleared up, before a de

cree can do full and sufficient justice. These matters are always, by the decree on the first hearing, referred to a master in chancery to examine, which examinations frequently last for years; and then he is to report the fact, as it appears to him, to the court. This report may be excepted to, disproved, and overruled; or otherwise is confirmed, and made absolute, by order of the court.

When all issues are tried and settled, and all references to the master ended, the cause is again brought to hearing upon the matters of equity reserved, and a final decree is made; the performance of which is enforced (if necessary) by commitment of the person, or sequestration of the party's estate. And if by this decree either party thinks himself aggrieved, he may petition the chancellor for a rehearing; whether it was heard before his lordship, or any of the judges sitting for him, or before the master of the rolls. For, whoever may have heard the cause, it is the chancellor's decree, and must be signed by him before it is enrolled; which is done of course unless a rehearing is desired. Every petition for a rehearing must be signed by two counsel of character, usually such as have been concerned in the cause, certifying that they apprehend the cause is proper to be reheard. And upon the rehearing, all the evidence taken in the cause, whether read before or not, is now admitted to be read; because it is the decree of the chancellor himself, who now only sits to hear reasons why it should not be enrolled and perfected; at which time all omissions of either evidence or argument may be supplied. But, after the decree is once signed and enrolled, it cannot be reheard or rectified but by bill of review, or by appeal to the house of lords.

A. bill of review may be had upon apparent error in judgment appearing on the face of the decree; or, by special leave of the court, upon oath made of the discovery of new matter or evidence, which could not possibly be had or used at the time when the decree passed. But no new evidence or matter then in the knowledge of the parties, and which might have been used before, shall be a sufficient ground for a bill of review.

An appeal to parliament, that is, to the house of lords, is the dernier resort of the subject who thinks himself aggrieved by an interlocutory order or final determination in this court; and it is effected by petition to the house of peers, and not by writ of error, as upen judgments at common law. This jurisdiction is said to have begun in 18 Jac., I., and it is certain that the first petition, which

appears in the records of parliament, was preferred in that year; and that the first which was heard and determined (though the name of appeal was then a novelty) was presented a few months after; both levelled against the lord chancellor Bacon for corruption and other misbehavior. It was afterwards warmly controverted by the house of commons in the reign of Charles the Second. But this dispute is now at rest: it being obvious to the reason of all mankind, that, when the courts of equity became principal tribunals for deciding causes of property, a revision of their decrees (by way of appeal) became equally necessary as a writ of error from the judgment of a court of law. And, upon the same principle, from decrees of the chancellor relating to the commissioners for the dissolution of chauntries, etc., under the statute 37 Hen. VIII. c. 4, (as well as for charitable uses under the statute 43 Eliz. c. 4.) an appeal to the king in parliament was always unquestionably allowed. But no new evidence is admitted in the house of lords upon any account; this being a distinct jurisdiction: which differs it very considerably from those instances, wherein the same jurisdiction revises and corrects its own acts, as in rehearings and bills of review. For it is a practice unknown to our law, (though constantly followed in the spiritual courts,) when a superior court is reviewing the sentence of an inferior, to examine the justice of the former decree by evidence that was never produced below. And thus much for the general method of proceeding in the courts of equity.




I. And, first, the law ascribes to the king the attribute of sovereignty, or pre-eminence. . Hence it is, that no suit or action can be brought against the king, even in civil matters, because no court can have jurisdiction over him. For all jurisdiction implies superiority of power: authority to try would be in vain and idle, without an authority to redress; and the sentence of a court would be contemptible, unless that court had power to command the execution of it but who, says Finch, shall command the king? Hence it is likewise, that by law the person of the king is sacred, even though the measures pursued in his reign be completely tyrannical and arbitrary: for no jurisdiction upon earth has power to try him in a criminal way; much less to condemn him to punishment. If any foreign jurisdiction had this power, as was formerly claimed by the pope, the independence of the kingdom would be no more; and, if such a power were vested in any domestic tribunal, there would soon be an end of the constitution, by destroying the free agency of one of the constituent parts of the sovereign legislative power.

Are then, it may be asked, the subjects of England totally destitute of remedy, in case the crown should invade their rights, either by private injuries, or public oppressions? To this we may answer, that the law has provided a remedy in both cases.

And, first, as to private injuries: if any person has, in point of property, a just demand upon the king, he must petition him in his court of chancery, where his chancellor will administer right as a matter of grace, though not upon compulsion. For the

end of such action is not to compel the prince to observe the contract, but to persuade him. And, as to personal wrongs, it is well observed by Mr. Locke, "the harm which the sovereign can do in his own person not being likely to happen often, nor to extend itself far; nor being able by his single strength to subvert the laws, nor oppress the body of the people, (should any prince have so much weakness and ill nature as to endeavor to do it,) the inconveniency therefore of some particular mischiefs that may happen sometimes, when a

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