Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Lord Coke, the Preface to his Charge given at the Assises houlden in Norwich, the fourth of August, 1606. - Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. II
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The Lord Coke, the Preface to his Charge given at the Assises houlden in Norwich, the fourth of August, 1606. - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. II 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 2.
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The Lord Coke, the Preface to his Charge given at the Assises houlden in Norwich, the fourth of August, 1606.
Because I perceive the time hath more swiftly passed then I did expect: my strife and labour with my selfe, hath bin in my selfe to abreviate what I purpose to speak. And though my speech shall principally bee directed to you of the Jurie, which are sworne: yet for that I know the scope and summe of my endevours are solely dedicated to Gods glory and my countries publicke benefit, I hope that all my words shall extend unto the generall good of all these here present; unto whom they are spoken. For I do purpose in my course, as it were with a finger to point out those growing and groning evils, which doe not only for the present time disturb & hurt our Publique Weale, but doe also strive, and that with a most dangerous force to deface, ruin, & utterly subvert the Honors of our auncient name, & our now Great Brittaines Monarchie. But before the substance of my intended speech receives his purposed begining, I think it not amisse first to begin with my selfe, and of my selfe to speake thus much.
There was a certaine young Romane, whose youth so directed his labours, with industrious care to attaine to knowledge by the reading and study of good letters, as that the Senat of Rome amongst themselves determined to make that yong man a Judge: thereby with honored reputation to recompence the travels of his youth, & to give encouragement unto other Romane Citizens by their good endevors to attain unto like estate & credit in the government of Romes Publique Weale.
It happened that shortly after the determination by the Consuls & Senat agreed upon, the yong man upon whom the place of a Judge should be conferred, comming unto the knowledge therof, fell presently into a deepe consideration with himselfe about the force & Office of that worthy place wherunto he should be called. And first considered that in his owne opinion, he was most unfit: sufficiently to execute the substantiall and somtimes dangerous (though most commended duties) properly belonging to so great a dignity. For this yong Roman having many Friends, Kinsfolkes, & Allies, some of them of such Rancke & Place, in the authority of government, as that their love or hate could not aptly draw unto it selfe a light or trivial respect (amongst whom) this young man thoght that comming to be a Judge; time might unhappely produce some such occation wherin his sentence, in the place of Judgement, might give distaste, procure enimies, loose Friends & gaine suspect of hatefull partialitie. From which corrupt & most impoysoned evill, thogh this yong Roman did never so much desire, to stand cleared, yet Judging amongst Friends, & Kinsfolks, he should assuredly (as he thought) by some detractors, be therof suspected.
The Romaine Cittizen having thus unto himselfe presented divers Obsticles and Objections, which could not in his owne sence receive sufficient contradiction, he resolved by no meanes to take upon him the place & person of a Judge: but did use all his Friendes and greatest power of meanes to perswade the Senate, to alter their determination concerning him and to bestow so great an Office on some other, that might more worthily deserve the same.
Whilest this young man continued in a discontented passion, with purpose to desire some good advice, he goeth unto a faithfull friend of his, whom he acquainted with what the Senate purposed, and how loath he was to undertake so high an Office as to be a Judge. His friend upon hearing the cause, presently concluded, that hee had great reason to shun the execution of such an Office, in the discharge where of, so much danger rested. For (said he) Cave ne sis Judex inter Amicos because inter Amicos Judicare1 Amongst friends to judge, is a thing nothing more dangerous. And therefore be constantly advised, that in any wise he should refuse such honor, though offered unto him: and rather be contented with a meane and privat life, then in such a place to be imployed; in which he should assuredly loose old friends, and get new enemies.
This yong man (though thus by his friend advised, and in himselfe resolved never to take upon him any such, as he accounted dangerous dignitie) yet when he understood, that the Senat would not be altered in their purpose, but that by them the place was decreed unto him, he then determined with himselfe, to trie the counsell of some other friend, whose Judgement and Experience might beare some generall note, in directing the high affaires to the State belonging. And in this purpose he went unto a certain Nobleman, whose prudent wisdome had oft bin used in businesse of most weighty consequence: unto whom, when he had laid open his mind, shewed his griefe, and signified the Senats pleasure. The noble Gentleman with pleasant, yet grave alacritie of spirit (seasoned with the soundnesse of a learned and understanding wisedome) did most powerfully advise, that this young man should cheerefully accept so worthy an Office, being so freely bestowed upon him. And that he should by no means seeme to neglect the gracious clemencie of supreme authoritie. Nor in any sort account it dangerous amongst friends to judge: for in the Office and execution of Judgement, he that is a Judge (Desinet esse Amicus 2) ceaseth to be a friend: for in the manner of judgement, no acquaintance, no griefes, no friends, no remembrance of fore-passed present, or hope of future friendship must direct the thoughts of him that is a Judge. All that on judgements seat is done, must be, because justice commaunds the doing thereof, and that with no other affection, but onely because it is just. And therefore said this Noble Gentleman unto his friend, arme thy selfe, in the constancie of a conscionably uprightnes, and be noe longer loath to execute the Honorable Office of a Judge, but in thy love to Romes Common-wealth, dedicate thy laboures to her publique benifit.
By the grave and sage advice of that Honored Lord, this yong man wasperswaded contrarie to his former purpose, with humble thankfulnes to accept that Office, which the Senate without any meanes of his, was pleased freelie to bestowe upon him: and yer genrallie made shew as if he ment the contrarie and soddainlie preparing a sumptuous Feast, unto which he envited all his Friends, Kinsfolke, and familiar acquintance, seeming that in regard he did rather choose to leave his Countrie, then to take upon him the Office of a Judge: he had provided a Banquet or Feast, to Banquet with his Friends before his departure: and in some solemne maner would take leave of them all. Who being, as they thought, to this end assembled: did sorrowfully expect the occasion of their griefe, by the departure of their friend, which when the yong man perceived, he spake thus unto them.
It is true that I purpose as I must, to take my leave of you all, and to be a stranger to my dearest friends, and nearest Allies: I must forget all former friendships, and my most familiar Acquaintance, I must accompt as greatest strangers unto me; Thus must I depart from you, & yet continue amongst you, for by the love, power & authoritie of the Senate, I am appointed to be a Judge, and in the seate of Justice, I must forget the remembrance of your former friendships and acquaintance, and onely in the person of a Judge, with respect tokeepemyconscience cleare, I must with equitie & uprightnes, justly administer justice unto you all. And this is my cause, by the love & favour of my greatest maister King James, in whose royall and gratious disposition I am, (Sinè precationeè, vel precatio,3 without price or request, freely called unto this great Office, by the favour of my King) Unto whose service, my life, and all I have is humbly bound, by him, and by his gratious Clemency, I am thus sent to bee a Judge amongst my Kinsfolkes and familiar friends, even in bosome of my native Country.
I must therefore as the young Romaine did, take leave of all former Acquaintance, & do that which is just unto all Estates and Degrees, without partialitie. Which dutie (by Gods permission and assistance) I will faithfully performe, so long as God and my King shall please: that in this place I be employed in the uprightnesse and equitie of Judgement, shall all my performance entirely consist. The contrarie whereof shall (as I hope) neither be desired nor expected. And thus much for my selfe.
[1. ][Ed.: Beware that you be not a judge between friends, [because] to judge between friends.]
[2. ][Ed.: ceases to be a friend.]
[3. ][Ed.: without payment or seeking.]