Obrazy na stronie

school, and a Roman Catholic pervert. It is lection of personal sketches, and of Scotchreally a kind of comfort to laymen to find that above all, of Edinburgh society and Edinthe clergy are no better than themselves. burgh manners, by a title which bears no The infidels in the book are, we think, not so relation to the contents of the volume. The bad as many of the professedly religious author made no pretensions to, and had no pepeople. An infidel might have written a culiar qualifications for, the office of a general considerable part of the book and called it historian. He was not a Macaulay or a Gib“Hypocrisy, or the causes and consequen- bon ; but in felicity of personal portraiture, ces of religious belief." We know of no and in pointed, terse, and vivid power of work, written by an enemy of Christianity, anecdote, he has few rivals, and scarcely that presents us with such unfavorable pic- any superiors. He is not the author of a tures of religious preachers and teachers. diary like Evelyn and Pepys. He is not a On the whole, we prefer_Archer to Mr. Boswell, detailing with graphic fidelity the Mooney, the fashionable Evangelical, (au- opinions of other minds, nor a mere caustic thor of the Armageddon Almanac,) or to observer, like Horace Walpole, of the socieArchdeacon Morgan, and his Puseyite son. ty in which he mingled. But possessing

The author goes out of his way (at least many of the qualifications which have securwe cannot see how it bears on his religious ed for these writers their enduring popularargument) to sketch commercial society in ity, he adds to them the sagacious wisdom of “ Cottonham, the great metropolis of manu- a superior mind, guided by the experience factures.” Here, as in many of his other he had gathered from having mingled sketches of character, he probably has hit largely and acted his part well,' in the upon some of the worst characteristics of troubled times which now belong to histhe society ; but the effect of his representa- tory. tion is entirely marred by its broad and un Ås one reads the book in the dull cold qualified style. Many of the men may be too print, how keenly we feel the absence of the much absorbed in their money-getting, and speaking, eye, the expressive gesture, the many of the women may be too slavish in tone and manner which gave life to the their idolatry of county aristocracy, but these anecdote as he used to tell it! The spirit two characteristics do not exhaust their is evaporated, and the residuum is left. whole human capabilities; nor do they ever But there still remain so much of picturappear in such glaring and unrelieved esque detail, and such delightful traits of colours as they do at “Mrs. Smeythe's” din- sociable garrulity, that animation and grace ner-party at Cottonham.

are given to even obsolete anecdote. In An aggressive and unjust satire on hu- dealing with common things and the doings man nature justifies us, we think, in ex- of obscure men, the author has the power of pressing our opinion more strongly, than if trifling without being undignified for meanwe were dealing with a mere literary failure. He joins in delightful union wit with wisBut if the author of this work would, on moral dom; and has given us a book which, with grounds, temper the tone of his satire, and all its imperfections, is a valuable contribu. from a knowledge of his own literary tion to the literature of the time,-an anistrength and weakness abandon the field of mated delineation of those persons and that fiction, ---we feel confident, from the evidence life which have just passed away; a keen, which the last half of his third volume af. but never a malicious satire; and the reflecfords, that his earnestness and real might tions of an intellect which could appreciate yet do good service in the cause of religion, the merits of an opponent, unbiassed by and his impressive writing make itself felt personal antipathy or party warfare ; the in other departments of literature.

whole being joined together in a narrative which, though it changes its hero at every page, is not disjointed, and never drags.

The book was commenced in 1821, and it treats of persons who had figured on the

stage at the end of the last century. Much Art. VII.---Memorials of His Time. By of it necessarily must therefore be at second HENRY COCKBURN. Edinburgh. 1856. hand, and much of what is original must

have been the result of dim and imperfect The title of this book is a misnomer. A recollection. To many of its statements work which refers only incidentally to the the rules of rigid evidence cannot be appublic events of the most stirring half-cen- plied. Its auther frankly tells us, that, tury in the history of mankind, can scarcely before 1821, he “ had never made a single be called Memorials of the Times. Injus- note with a view to such a record.” Warntice is done to the author of a delightful col. ed by this, we are not surprised at the im

perfections of several of the statements, at many years. The appointment to all the the tasty rendering of a few matters-of-fact, Scottish offices in the gift of the Crown which a fresher reollection would have pre- was in his hand. He made and unmade vented; and, what was scarcely to be ex- placemen at his pleasure; persons recompected, the failure to convey the clinch or mended by nothing but their family or their the antithesis, the epigram and the point of political zeal, destitute of abilities as of chathe joke. Whether the world has been fur- racter, were placed in offices of trust,-on nished with all that Lord Cockburn had the judgment-seat as elsewhere; and no one written, the editor has failed to tell ; al- dared call in question the wisdom of the dethough it may be fairly deduced from the cree. Henry Cockburn thus entered life baldness and inconsecutiveness of various under circumstances that would have led portions of the work, that a heavy hand him, had he been a less conscientious man, has been used in pruning down severities to at an early period of his professional career, suit the conventionalities of the day, and to to all the distinctions of professional success. avoid wounding the sensibilities of living in this respect none of his contemporaries vanity. How far this has been successful could bear the least comparison. Cranston will be seen hereafter ; but in judging of the and Jeffrey, and Thomson and Gillies, were, finish of the picture, we cannot overlook the besides being destitute of effective patronage, fact that a process has been resorted to by weighed down with that which, if it was not which the literary fame of the author has not a crime, was at least inconvenient-poverty. benefited. The work is incomplete, too, in The early lives of successful lawyers are reference to the time at which it closes. generally a narrative of straitened circumProfessing to be a memorial of his times, it stances overcome by self-denial bearing ulticloses with the year 1830, and the author mate fruit in the acquisition of those habits died in 1854, the interval being that during of industry and perseverance that ultimately the greater part of which Lord Cockburn lead to fortune. Thurlow's advice to a fathhad the best opportunities for digesting his er who asked his opinion as to the best edureflections upon mankind; freed by his ele- cation for his son, intended for the bar, was vation to the Bench from the jostling cares this, “Let your son spend his own fortune, and anxieties of professional labour at the marry, and spend his wife's ---then let him bar, and forbidden by his position to mingle be called to the bar; he cannot fail to sucin the public events which had previously ceed.” The lesson was capable of being acengrossed him. That, during this period of quired by means less expensive. It is only comparative leisure, the busy hand had necessary to read the history of the early ceased to write, and the shrewd head had no struggles of some of the men we have just more wise imaginings, we will believe only named, to find that the virtues consequent when it is stated as a fact. Till then we upon a want and poverty that might be must live in the hope that there exists called pinching, might be acquired without another lively chronicle of the twenty-four the previous career of dissipation. The life years of his judicial career, which sketches of Thomas Thomson, the greatest antiquarian with as sparkling vivacity the virtues, the lawyer whom Scotland has known since follies, and the shams of our own day, and Lord Hailes, has recently been written by which, when this generation has followed Mr. Cosmo Ínnes, and printed for private him to his rest, will amuse and instruct pos- circulation, and certainly affords a lesson to terity. Meanwhile, let us partake of the the penniless lawyer of encouragement and feast before us, and not envy our successors hope. Mr. Innes' interesting biography that they perhaps may have a better. If contains letters which passed between Thomthe book wants the relish which personalities son and his father, that do honour to the would give it, it has a point in raciness that memory of both. Thomson had no means cannot be found in the generalities of history, of livelihood except the pittances which his -not that the writer was in a condition to father, the minister of Dailly, could afford to depone to everything he tells, but being con- give him from the scanty stipend of £105 a temporary with the events, he was also year; and after doing all this, the minister familiar with the leading actors, bore a leading lived respectably, and entertained his neighpart in the transactions, was a keen observer, bours : and after educating his family, and and imbued with that feeling and knowledge seeing them established in life, he died withthat only a contemporary can possess. out a farthing of debt. “The thing," says

Lord Cockburn began life with advantages Mr. Innes, " is still so common in the manses possessed by few of his contemporaries. of Scotland, that it would be impertinent to His mother's sister had married Henry praise the virtuous economy, the rigid selfDundas, Lord Melville, the man who pos- denial, that it requires to live like gentle sessed a despotic sway over Scotland for folks, and educate a family on £105 a-year,”

Thomson, preparing to come to the bar, change situations. When we parted, does so in this spirit :

you, like myself, had formed no resolutions about

your future schemes in life ; indeed every profes“ If, for a few years at first, I should be unable sion is, to us poor men, beset with so many and to support myself completely, I hope a moderate so insurmountable difficulties, that it is almost additional assistance would be sufficient. Except impossible to determine. As for myself, I believe in the article of dress, no extraordinary expense I shall never come to a resolution ; but as you is necessary, as there is no rank to support ; and are confined within narrower bounds than me, (I it will be very difficult to starye a man who can mean there are fewer lines which you can have in live on bread and milk."

view,) therefore it will be more easy for you to

make a choice." The minister asks him kindly,

Jeffrey was the son of a Deputy-Clerk of " How are ye provided for victuals ? Have ye Session, and had the advantage of Thomson clothes enow? Have ye good fire? Do you in an Edinburgh connexion and an Edinburgh take care to change your shoes when they are home. Yet at the time he married he had wet? Your finances will, I think, from your ac- only an income of £100, derived from busicount of unavoidable expenses, need some supply. ness obtained through his father, and all of Acquaint me freely. You know my willingness

. which, as he pathetically states in one of his My stock is not yet exhausted. I have sent ten guineas. Though I have entire confidence in letters, would have disappeared you, I shall be glad to see a state of what you two persons had died, or gone mad, or if he call the national debt; chiefly that I may be able had the misfortune to offend them by his to conjecture what may be necessary for the ser- frivolity, or a difference of opinion. In 1794, vice of the year. I can suppose that your money he says, in one of his letters to his broaffairs make you uneasy ; but I hope to relieve ther:you from all this distress, and I hope we shall all be so wise as to use every wise and prudent precaution of avoiding what may be avoided."

“I will tell you truly that my prospects of success are not very flattering. I have been con

sidering very seriously, since I came last here, the The stately Cranston interests himself probability of my success at the bar, and have largely in Thomson's domestic concerns, but little comfort at my prospect; for all the emLord Cockburn's portrait of Cranston is not ployment I have has come entirely from my father, flattering; it leaves the impression of a or those with whom I am otherwise connected.” stilted and artificial personage, whose blood might have some prospect of employment. Being

He dreams of some other occupation where he was torpid, and heart cold

to all the ordi- “ determined,” he says, “ that I will not linger nary infirmities of humanity. If such was away the years of my youth and activity in an his character (which we do not admit) in unprofitable and hopeless hanging on about our his later life, the few letters of his early Courts as I see not a few doing every day." days that we possess, which are printed in this Biography of Thomson, have a pleasant

He adds with great truth, as many who freshness about them. A joyous letter to have come after him can sadly testify, who Thomson thus concludes :

have paced the weary boards of the Parlia

ment House waiting for that employment “ Erskine is engaged, but I have seen him and which never came,_" Besides the waste of Clerk, and they send you their love. Mrs. May that time which can never be replaced, the has hired a lass for you,-a decent sober woman, mind becomes at once humiliated and enand an excellent cook. She was last with Mr. feebled in such a situation, and loses all that Cleghorn, the coachmaker, and had been sixteen years in the family. Wages £5 per annum, and energy which alone can lead it to enterprise £1, 10s. for tea. She is very anxious that there

and success." Yet there is a delightful should be a girl in the house, not to assist her, buoyancy in Jeffrey's heart, marrying, as he for she thinks herself up to all the work, bat be- did, on his £100 a-year. cause it is dangerous to live in a house alone with you young men! Eight strikes. Yours for

“Life went a-maying,

With nature, hope, and poesy, ever, G. 0."

When he was young." Cranston's circumstances are described by “You would not marry," he says to his himself as by no means flourishing. In a brother, “in this situation, and neither would letter to Thomson of 5th of June 1789, he 1, if I saw any likelihood of its growing betsays :

ter before I was too old to marry at all, or

did not feel the desolation of being in soli“You are now enjoying in perfection the otium cum dignitate-otium, walking, fishing, lounging, tude or something worse than any of the inchattering, love making, eating and sleeping - conveniences of poverty. Besides, we trust cum dignitate, with a master of arts cap! What to providence, and have hope of dying before a happy man are you ; what would I give to ex- we get into prison.”

Certainly ideas have altered much since ' efforts as an advocate read tamely in the Jeffrey's day,- perhaps not to the increase recollection of the impression they created of happiness. There was one virtue in the at the time; not from any poverty of thought public opinion of fifty years ago, when it or deficiency of vigour in expression--but, allowed a professional man, having the so- because along with those, he possessed the cial status of an advocate, to marry upon an power of a great actor, who could transpose income so limited, and to preserve his posi- his whole soul into the scene, and by a look tion and his independence, though he took or a change of tone, deepen the impression himself and his wife to the airy altitude of a of his declamation or his argument. third story, and furnished his rooms for £40. When all this is admitted in reference to

Of Cockburn's own pecuniary circum- Cockburn, we have admitted all which can stances we are told nothing in any of the be considered remarkable in his qualificapublications which bear his name. That he tions as a lawyer. Unfortunately he was inwas exempt from the miserable pinching fected with that same indolent and careless which gave many an uneasy hour to Thom- love of enjoyment by which Thomson threw son and Jeffrey, and, indeed, was in a posi- away his powers, and which in the case of tion that may be considered affluent, may Cockburn left him at no high place as a be well believed, when it is remembered lawyer either at the bar or on the bench. that his father was one of the Barons of the While his employment was extensive and Court of Exchequer. This, of course, was a varied in all matters of fact requiring to be disadvantage according to Thurlow's view; determined by a jury, it was otherwise in but if there was any delay in the attainment reference to questions which involved mere. by Cockburn of independence, it cannot be ly points of law to be argued before the easily traced to this source. It indicates courts. In such practice he was surpassed great modesty to find so little about him- by men far his inferiors in natural talent, self, in works which speak so much about but who had the industry to acquire that others. His powers in the field of literature professional knowledge of the law which were only exhibited to the public as his Cockburn never did. The drudgery was career was about to close. To the general too much for one who gave up study when world he was known as the successful advo- he entered life. This was a great misforcate, and the famous Whig politician, who tune on his own account, and on that of in evil times had fought the battle of free suitors. Had he resigned the habits of dom unawed by opposition, unseduced by indolent indulgence, consequent upon the the ties of relationship or the temptations keen enjoyment of external nature, he might of office. As an advocate he never had his have taken as high a place in forensic legal equal at the Scotch bar in addressing juries. discussion with judges as with juries., Logic, Though he lived in daily competition with clear and connected; expression homely but Clerk and Cranston, and Moncreiff, and Jef nervous and emphatic, would have rendered frey, there was not one of them all who a legal argument in his hands a formidable united in himself the same forensic power. weapon. He was contented, however, with He was a man of note even among the Ana- his enjoyment, for which he was willing to kim. Much of this was due to the natural pay the price of moderate employment and qualities of the man, apart from anything modified fame. The same defect accompaacquired by study or experience. He had nied him to the bench, and if possible bea homely, -apparently unstudied mode of came intensified there. Not urged on by expression; he delivered himself in a tone the spur of opposition, and the anxieties of so modulated, as to appear to jurymen not clients, his duty seemed rather a plaything to use the trained oratory of a hired advo- than the serious business of life. The law, cate intent to lead them to his own conclusion the parties, the counsel, the agents, the misirrespective of the truth, but to state the erable litigants, were puppets in a rareeconscientious suggestions of a man like them- show, out of which might be got the amuseselves, who put the case in a way so simplement of a smile. The great object of his that they could not misunderstand it, or horror was a lengthy bore. He set an exavoid yielding their conviction to the speak- ample of a virtue which he wished others to er. He knew intimately the Scottish char- practise, in being short in his orations. He acter. He identified himself with the feel- must have studied Tacitus, and avoided ings and prejudices of his hearers. He was Alison. At all events, there was no innever hurried by the ambition of eloquence, fliction so painful to his temper or his into soaring above their heads, and yet his patience, as the oratory of an over-zealous homely and apparently artless but artful and loquacious counsel. Thus it happened, touches, had all the effect of the most bril. that cases being impatiently heard, were imliant and successful oratory. Some of his perfectly understood. The judgments that

he delivered were unsatisfactory and fre- every question, and to put a bridle upon the quently reversed ; and men forgot in the rapidity of extemporaneous judgment. imperfections of the judge many of the in- In the midst of the chaos of English, valuable qualities that endeared him as a American, and Scottish judicial opinions, man.

(for all are quoted daily,) those of Cockburn He complains in his Memorials, that in are remarkable for one peculiarity. They the old rough days at the end of the last are always short, pointed, and intelligible. century, when Braxfield and Eskgrove, and If their brevity is sometimes unsatisfactory, that race of judges were on the Bench, that as indicating imperfect attention to the case, there were no published reports of the opin- yet, when he did enter into details, they ions of the judges. The Court was a mob; never encumbered the lucidity of his exprestheir deliberations a wrangle; and the ulti-sion. In matters of fact he was almost mate decision depended upon the whim or always, and in questions of law, he was the caprice of the moment. Opinions, so sometimes right. Even when he erred, he formed and so delivered, would not have is deserving of perusal from the faculty he been of much service to posterity, and we possessed of placing before the mind some cannot mourn for them as for the Decades striking view or illustration, which threw of Livy. A gentleman of the name of Mr. an illumination upon all around, and either Robert Bell was, however, desirous of per- pointed the way to conviction, or served as petuating what wisdom there might be de- the means for discovering the fallacy. No livered from the Bench; and he commenced one can appreciate the merit of such an to publish a set of reports on the principle opinion so much as the miserable beings of giving the judicial dicta in detail. The who, in the silent watches of the night, have proposal was revolutionary and Jacobinical, to pore over numberless authorities for the and received with alarm by the Bench. morning's debate, and who,-wandering up The reporter" was actually called into the and down through long opinions that, like Robing Room and admonished to beware." the passages in some ancient tenement exEskgrove's objection was— The fellow taks haust the victim by their endless maze,-at doon ma very words ”—a great injury to last, when driven nearly to insanity or dehis Lordship certainly. Time wore on, and spair, find a haven of rest in the short and a new spirit has animated the scene. Year clear statement in Cockburn's opinion. It after year there appear bulky tomes from was this simplicity of diction and clearness London, New York, and Edinburgh, contain- of style, this intelligibility of statement, in ing more printed matter than was sufficient itself a power, which rendered his judgment, previously for centuries of legislation, in if reversed by the Inner Courts in Scotland, which, in the smallest possible type, the bit a most formidable thing to struggle with in of gold is beaten so very fine that some- the House of Lords. The utterly untechnitimes it becomes invisible. Of course the cal character of his mind made his judgonly escape from this ponderous mass is ments read in the eyes of a foreign lawyer that of passing it by. Except the unhappy with a force not due to their intrinsic merits; reporters, there was never yet a human crea- and hence it happened that decrees which ture who travelled it through. A slave, had been reversed by his brethren in Scotconvicted of murder, was offered the alter- land, weré returned to in the House of native of either reading from beginning to Lords, and mainly in consequence of his end Guicciardini's History of the Wars in argument. On the bench his demeanour Italy, or the galleys. He stood in suspense was always conciliatory and forbearing, and only for a moment-he took the latter. only a harmless jest indicated the misery he An alternative equally frightful might have suffered when subjected to the peine forte et been put to him had the modern publication dure, of interminable'loquacity. of legal reports been at the time in existence. In the number for August last of the It is not merely the length, but the number English Law Magazine and Law Review, and variety of judicial opinions—the result there appeared an article which has been of the crudest as of the maturest thought,- publicly attributed to Lord Brougham, and which unsettle the law and imperil every which bears undeniable traces of that fine decision when it afterwards comes to be re- Roman hand. In a previous number of the viewed. By express act of the American same Magazine, which has not Lord CockCongress, every judgment of the Supreme burn for his text, but Lord Brougham himCourts of the United States must be pro- self, there are several characteristic notes nounced in writing, and cannot be delivered written by a hand different from that which on the same day on which the case was produced the text, and whose labours are debated by counsel,-an admirable regula- in a different style. The text sometimes tion, calculated to bring out the merits of censures and hints a fault,—the notes never;

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