Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

universitatis satisfacere noluerit cum effectu, infra triduum ab universitate expellatur ; cæteris pænis juxta privilegia, consuetudines, et statuta malefactoribus imponendis, eisdem malefactoribus infligendis.

And in the same statute it follows ; contra cancellarii quoque prohibitionem colluctantes et alias sibi inobedientes et contumaces cum super hujusmodi secundum modum universitatis fuerint convicti, sine differentiâ personarum simili pænâ coerceantur, si hoc meruerit protervitas contumacium. In another statute of like antiquity we read thus: Item excommunicamus et excommunicatos denunciamus omnes perturbatores pacis universitatis Cantabrigiæ, ac etiam omnes et singulos privilegia libertates seu consuetudines ejusdem uni. versitatis approbatas et consuetas indebitè et malitiose impugnantes, &c. And again, we find in the same body of statutes, in what manner they are to be dealt with who obstruct the jurisdiction ; judicis jurisdictionem impedientes excommunicentur.

I will not trouble your lordship with more quotations from our statutes, which are full of this matter ; but since the author of the letter in St. James's Post, October 23. thinks fit to intimate that there is not so much as the

appearance of tute for the power of degrading,” I beg leave to lay before you part of another statute full in this point. The title of it is, ne clerici ad forum laicale trahantur. The view of the statute is to prevent and punish all attempts in the members of the university to decline the university jurisdiction; it decrees therefore, that not only all who actually prosecute others in other courts, but likewise that all who do alios in hac parte quomodolibet vexare, shall stand excommunicated till they make full satisfaction; and they are to make satisfaction in two respects, (which I rather take notice of, because it shows the ground of the senate's interest in these matters,) to the party vexatiously molested, and to the university cujus jurisdictio fuerit usurpata vel impedita : and it farther declares that every offender of this kind be a quocunque actu et honore doctorali, magisteriali, seu scholastico alienus habeatur extunc et exclusus.

On this foundation your lordship will be better able to judge of the present affair. Dr. Bentley acquaints the public that

any sta

[ocr errors]

a

.

the original cause had relation to a fee paid him as Regius Professor; this is so far true, that the doctor would not have pretended, I believe, to this fee if he had not taken himself to be Regius Professor; but then it is equally true that this fee could not be so much as claimed by him as Regius Professor : the king’s professor has a salary appointed him, and paid by Tri-. nity College, and has no manner of claim or pretence to any fee whatever for any thing that he does or can do as professor This fact I will venture to say you may depend on; so may you on this other, that considering him as father of the inceptors in divinity, in which capacity only he could pretend to any fee,) he had no right to four guineas or any part of that sum by any statute or custom of the university: it was an arbitrary demand, begun by himself, supported by threats and violence; and he might just as well have claimed ten guineas as four; as he publicly declared indeed to the vice-chancellor and heads twelve months ago, that if they pretended to contradict him in taking four, he would insist on ten, or there should be no doctors in divinity created. It would be too long a story to tell your lordship now, on what gounds Dr. Bentley calls himself Regius Professor, or to set forth by what violent methods he seized the chair in opposition to those who had the right of election, and in direct contradiction to the charter of foundation, which excludes the Master of Trinity from being professor, for very good reasons; and among others this is a very substantial one, that the charter constituting a Regius Professor appoints the Master of Trinity in many cases to be the professor's visitor, in such manner that without him others, concerned as visitors, can do nothing: but I shall pass by this matter, because it is very probable that the doctor's present endeavors will render it necessary to open this whole scene before a proper authority.

Well then, suppose him to be Regius Professor.

About a year ago his Majesty was pleased to honor the university with his royal presence; and according to ancient usage in such cases, the university had an extraordinary commencement, and conferred degrees in all faculties on the persons named by his Majesty. In divinity there were many promoted to be doctors; who, according to custom, applied to the professor to be presented and created. Dr. Bentley, besides the usual (and therefore statutable) fee for presenting and creating, demanded of each four guineas; complaint of this was brought before the vice-chancellor and heads, who were of opinion that the professor had no such right. On this Dr. Bentley (supposing there could be nothing done without him) declares none of the doctors should commence; that the vice-chancellor or heads should not judge of his demand; and that if any questioned his right to four guineas, he would insist on ten. Here then was at first setting out a renunciation of the university jurisdiction in a cause, which in every view was subject to their jurisdiction, and to theirs only. Many of the new doctors, who had a great way to go home, considering that to go home and to come again, when this demand should be determined, for their degrees would be a loss greater than four guineas, complied, and were presented and created; and others, that they might not lose their seniority, complied likewise, though they did it with difficulty; and therefore Dr. Bentley, going on to refuse submission to the university, gave promissory notes to some of them to return their money, if ever the cause should be determined against him by the king or his secretaries. I am not sure that I am exact in the form, for I have not seen any of these notes; but that they excluded the university jurisdiction, I am sure from all accounts. Now this was such an overt act of that crime which our statutes declare punishable with the greatest severity, that I think it had been, together with his speeches and declarations to the same effect in the senatehouse before the whole university, a sufficient ground to have proceeded against him; and had the offence been then laid hold on, and the punishment since inflicted by the senate been at that time decreed against him, the university would have been so justifiable in their proceedings, that the doctor must have torn our constitution up by the roots before he could have had any redress but from a proper behavior and submission on his own part. That he was not proceeded against, I do for myself verily believe to be owing to a tenderness in the governors of the university, who were unwilling that any dispute should arise, from the happy occasion of his Majesty's presence among us. They foresaw (what experience has now

[ocr errors]

confirmed) that every thing of this kind would be charged as a mark of disaffection ; they knew how certainly some would make the charge, and how easily others would receive it. They sat down therefore with a tameness, of which I defy the doctor and his friends to give a like instance since the foundation of the university.

But nothing being done in consequence of Dr. Bentley's promissory notes, and there being no likelihood of a determination from the court, where (by all I can learn) there was no inclination to take hold of a cause so peculiarly under the jurisdiction of the university; some of the sufferers began to complain, and Dr. Middleton many months ago declared that if he had not his four guineas returned, he would commence a suit against the doctor in the vice-chancellor's court. The letter in the St. James's Post, October 18th, charges our vice-chancellor with being in the concert to bring disgrace on Dr. Bentley, and as having the chief hand in this design : a suggestion so unworthy, and (as I believe) so false, that nothing can exceed it, and the doctor himself, if he pleases, is best able to justify the vicechancellor. The vice-chancellor's proceedings show the quite contrary to what is charged on him; Dr. Middleton applied to him for a decree many weeks (I think months,) before he could obtain one : in the meanwhile the vice-chancellor applied to Dr. Bentley, and not once or twice, but often desired him to put an end to this cause, and not to permit it to come to a public hearing; and he had so far prevailed on him once, that (as Dr. Bentley's friends here aver) he sent the four guineas to the vice-chancellor to be disposed of as he thought fit; but the vice-chancellor not being at home, all went back again: and whereas it is suggested that the vice-chancellor said, that if ever Dr. Bentley's case came before him, he would condemn him, I have reason to suspect that this must arise from what the vice-chancellor said to the doctor himself in friendship, when he pressed him to make up the cause : and if it does, it is a sad instance of the effects of passion.

But at last the vice-chancellor told Dr. Bentley plainly that he could not in justice any longer deny a decree, and that if he was resolved to do nothing himself, he would grant one. Then Dr. Bentley threw in his way the objection from the ne

a

cessary concurrence of nine heads to grant an arrest against any doctor or head of a college; on this the vice-chancellor calls a meeting of the heads, the objection is proposed and considered, the statute examined ; and they declare that they see no ground for such a privilege in cases of this nature; and to prevent any such pretence to the obstruction of common justice, they declare themselves ready to give authority (if it was wanted) to grant such a decree: this was afterwards put into form and signed by nine heads. This objection being over, the vice-chancellor, that he might be wanting in no respect or even in civility to Dr. Bentley, wrote him a letter to acquaint him with what was done, and to desire him once more to consider whether he would end this cause himself before a decree issued. In answer to this letter Dr. Bentley comes to the vice-chancellor, expostulates with him in very high terms, and among many other very indecent expressions, told him at his own house, “that he would not be judged by him and his friends over a bottle,” meaning the heads who had been in a consultation with the vice-chancellor on this affair. So that whilst he thought nine heads could not be had many being out of town) to join with the vice-chancellor, so long their authority was necessary; but after they had joined, their authority was nothing: they were the vice-chancellor's bottle friends, and he would submit to none of them. This appears to me, after the best inquiry I can make, to be a just and true account of our vice-chancellor's conduct in this affair to the time of granting the decree; and I refer it to your lordship, or even to any man of common reason to judge whether here is any thing that looks like a man acting in concert to bring disgrace on Dr. Bentley.

But to go on : after this usage, and after all hopes of Dr. Bentley's doing any thing to put an end to the cause were over, the vice-chancellor granted his decree; and it was put into the hands of the beadle, who is the proper officer to serve it on such occasions. What Dr. Bentley's behavior was when he was served with the decree of the vice-chancellor, your lordship shall have in the words of the beadle's deposition, which he delivered on oath.

« AnteriorContinua »