In 1832 the first American edition of Bishop Gilbert Burnet's "Incidents in the Life of Sir Matthew Hale, Exhibiting his Moral and Religious Character" was published. It also contained Rev. Richard Barter's "Recollections of Hale." Together they paint a very favorable portrait of Hale (1609-1676), who was a barrister, author, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, 1660-1671, and Chief Justice of the King's Bench, 1671-1676.
Hale was well known for his integrity and impartiality on the bench. Here is one story by Burnet (1643-1715):
"One thing was much observed and commended in him, that when there was a great inequality in the ability and learning of the counsellors that were to plead one against another, he thought it became him, as the judge, to supply that; so he would enforce what the weaker counsel managed but indifferently, and not suffer the more learned to carry the business by the advantage they had over the others in their quickness and skill in law, and readiness in pleading, till all things were cleared in which the merits and strength of the ill-defended cause lay. He was not satisfied barely to give his judgment in pauses, but did especially in all intricate ones, give such an account of the reasons that prevailed with him, that the counsel did not only acquiesce in his authority, but were so convinced by his reasons, that I have heard many profess that he brought them often to change their opinions; so that his giving of judgment was really a learned lecture upon that point of law; and which was yet more, the parties themselves, though interest does too commonly corrupt the judgment, were generally satisfied with the justice of his decisions, even when they were made against them."
This book is a companion to Bishop Burnet's "Lives of Sir Matthew Hale and John Earl of Rochester" (1828).