By Hobbes Thomas
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Additional resources for Dialogues between Philosopher & English Lawyer
What is the meaning of the word compassing, or imagining? L. On this place Sir Edward Coke says, that before the making of this act, voluntas reputabatur pro facto, the will was taken for the deed. And so saith Bracton; spectatur voluntas, et non exitus; et nihil interest utrum quis occidat, aut causam præbeat, that is to say, the cause of the killing. Now Sir Edward Coke says, this was the law before the statute; and that to be a cause of the killing, is to declare the same by some open deed tending to the execution of his intent, or which might be cause of death.
Therefore I insist only upon this, that no record of a judgment is a law, save only to the party pleading until he can by law reverse the former judgment. And as to the proceeding without juries, by two sufficient witnesses, I do not see what harm can proceed from it to the commonwealth, nor consequently any just quarrel that the justice of the common-law can have against their proceedings in the Admiralty. For the proof of the fact in both courts lieth merely on the witnesses; and the difference is no more, but that in the imperial law, the judge of the court judgeth of the testimony of the witnesses, and the jury doth it in a court of common-law.
But there be many more; for there be a very great many reasonable exceptions almost to every general rule, which the makers of the rule could not foresee; and very many words in every statute, especially long ones, that are, as to grammar, of ambiguous signification, and yet to them that know well to what end the statute was made, perspicuous enough; and many connexions of doubtful reference, which by a grammarian may be cavilled at, though the intention of the lawmaker be never so perspicuous.