"Also the ignorance of what is Equity in their own causes, which Equity not one Man in a thousand ever Studied, and the Lawyers themselves seek not for their Judgments in their own Breasts, but in the precedents of former Judges, as the Antient Judges sought the same, not in their own Reason, but in the Laws of the Empire."
— Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679)
I see Sir Edw. Coke has no mind to lay any fault upon the Men of his own Profession; and that he Assigns for Causes of the Mischiefs, such things as would be Mischief, and Wickedness to amend; for if Peace, and Plenty, be the cause of this Evil, it cannot be removed but by War and Beggery; and the Quarrels arising about the Lands of Religious Persons cannot arise from the Lands, but from the doubtfulness of the Laws. And for Informers they were Authorised by Statutes, to the Execution of which Statutes they are so necessary, as that their number cannot be too great, and if it be too great the fault is in the Law it self. The number of Concealers, are indeed a number of Couseners, which the Law may easily Correct. And lastly for the multitude of Attorneys, it is the fault of them that have the power to admit, or refuse them. For my part I believe that Men at this day have better learn't the Art of Caviling against the words of a Statute, than heretofore they had, and thereby encourage themselves, and others, to undertake Suits upon little reason. Also the variety and repugnancy of Judgments of Common-Law do oftentimes put Men to hope for Victory in causes, whereof in reason they had no ground at all. Also the ignorance of what is Equity in their own causes, which Equity not one Man in a thousand ever Studied, and the Lawyers themselves seek not for their Judgments in their own Breasts, but in the precedents of former Judges, as the Antient Judges sought the same, not in their own Reason, but in the Laws of the Empire. Another, and perhaps the greatest cause of multitude of Suits is this, that for want of Registring of conveyances of Land, which might easily be done in the Townships where the Lands ly, a Purchase cannot easily be had, which will not be litigious. Lastly, I believe the Coveteousness of Lawyers was not so great in Antient time, which was full of trouble, as they have been since in time of Peace, wherein Men have leisure to study fraud, and get employment from such Men as can encourage to Contention. And how ample a Field they have to exercise this Mystery in is manifest from this, that they have a power to Scan and Construe every word in a Statute, Charter, Feofment, Lease, or other Deed, Evidence, or Testimony. But to return to the Jurisdiction of this Court of the Kings-Bench, where, as you say, it hath power to correct and amend the Errors of all other Judges, both in Process, and in Judgments; cannot the Judges of the Common-Pleas correct Error in Process in their own Courts, without a Writ of Error from another Court?
See Tracts of Thomas Hobbâ€™s Containing I. His Life in Latine, Part Written by Himself, Since His Death Finished by Dr. R.B. II. His Considerations on His Reputation, Loyalty, Manners and Religion. III. His Whole Art of Rhetorick, in English IV. His Discourse by Way of Dialogue Concerning the Common Laws of England. V. Ten Dialogues of Natural Philosophy. &c. (London: Printed for William Crooke at the Green Dragon without Temple-Bar, 1681). <Link to ESTC>
Text from The Art of Rhetoric, With a Discourse of the Laws of England. By Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. (London: Printed for William Crooke at the Green Dragon without Temple-Bar, 1681). <Link to ESTC><Link to EEBO>
Searching text at Pastmasters, British Philosophy: 1600-1900 (Intelex, 2000).