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By Hobbes Thomas

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Treason is a crime of itself, malum in se, and therefore a crime at the common-law; and high-treason the highest crime at the common-law that can be. And therefore not the statute only, but reason without a statute makes it a crime. And this appears by the preamble, where it is intimated, that all men, though of divers opinions, did condemn it by the name of treason, though they knew not what treason meant, but were forced to request the King to determine it. That which I desire to know is, how treason might have been defined without the statute, by a man that has no other faculty to make the definition of it, than by mere natural reason.

I desired to understand what treason is, wherein no enumeration of facts can give me satisfaction. Treason is a crime of itself, malum in se, and therefore a crime at the common-law; and high-treason the highest crime at the common-law that can be. And therefore not the statute only, but reason without a statute makes it a crime. And this appears by the preamble, where it is intimated, that all men, though of divers opinions, did condemn it by the name of treason, though they knew not what treason meant, but were forced to request the King to determine it.

B. during our pleasure, Chief Justice of England, &c. P. Methinks it is very plain by these letters-patent, that all causes temporal within the kingdom, except the pleas that belong to the Exchequer, should be decidable by this Lord Chief Justice. For as for causes criminal, and that concern the peace, it is granted him in these words, “for the conservation of our self, and peace of the kingdom,” wherein are contained all pleas criminal; and, in the doing of justice to all and singular the King’s subjects are comprehended all pleas civil.

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