Obrazy na stronie

and in the latter there is found the most Cockburn, for the office of Solicitor-General; intimate acquaintance with the aspirations a statement that must be novel to that reof Lord Brougham, and minute information spected Judge, and who, so far as we can in regard to his family history. One of the see, never had any appetite for place, though notes is deserving of notice, from whose he once discusses with Horner the propriety hand soever it came :

of his taking a Sheriffship.

It is difficult to comprehend the course of * Fully appreciating," says the writer, “ as we conduct of a man whose judgment is dependdo the public and private virtues of Lord Cock- ent upon the inconstancy of his irritable burn, we could never erase from our own mind the temper. Yet no one can mistake the spirit impression that there ran a deep vein of selfishness which dictated such remarks as these : through his nature, which he had profitably worked throughout a long life, and had not quite exhaust

“Lord Cockburn's very indifferent life of Lord ed down to the day of his decease. He started in Jeffrey had given him but a moderate rank life as a Tory, but was soon drawn within the among biographers; not that there was more to sparkling circle of young Whigs, who, as we have be urged against it than the want of judgment; . seen, towards the commencement of the century, the political — that is, the party - prejudice ungave their impress to the bar of Scotland.”--Law der which the book was written, formed another Magazine, Vol. 52, p. 15.

ground of complaint; and the same objection

may certainly be taken to the work before us. Upon what this is founded the anonymous Our office keeps us from weighing all the defects author has not told, as he was bound to tell or merits of the work, unless in so far as it deals the public. There must be some obliquity with legal subjects; and we therefore shall not of moral vision in a writer who could see in stop to remark upon the favour with which it Lord Cockburn's nature the opposite of

has been received by the public, and which it

owes chiefly to the insatiable desire of readers to what it was, and who could deduce from his see a page filled with proper names; a desire so career a conclusion which none others have strong with some, that we have known a person arrived at. We admit that he was indolent, of great learning and eminence declare, he could and indolence is often the parent of selfish- read the Court Guide' with more interest than ness; but that Cockburn was sordidly selfish many of the books which are published.” (Law for the promotion of any interests of his, is Mag., vol. 55, p. 233.) a statement that could only have been made by one who had not a proper appreciation times in the Memorials of Cockburn. We

Lord Brougham's name occurs several of the force of his own language. Had he have three specific anecdotes, which, if they worked his “selfishness” for his own inter: do not exhibit their subject in the most ests, what promotion at the bar of Scotland heroic light, are characteristic, and were with such influence as his, would have been denied him! The relative of Henry Dun- told by Cockburn with the utmost good das had only to ask and it would be given the taste of his surviving " friend.”

nature. They have not however been to him. But casting upon one side the honours

One of them occurs in reference to the and delightful sense of independence of comfortable position, he walked on in one that of Lord Eskgrove, one of the most

best sketch that Cockburn ever drew undeviating course of political consistency, ludicrous personages who ever sat even faithful to the last. He bore with patience the scowls of political opponents, the es upon the Scottish bench — trangement of friends, and won his way

“ Brougham tormented him, and sat on his fairly to honour. He was not a specimen skirts, wherever he went, for above a year. The of the patriotism that is the result of calcu- Justice liked passive counsel

, who let him dawlation of profit and loss,--for it was a losing dle on with culprits and juries in his own way ; game from the beginning. His patriotism and consequently he hated the talent, the elowas something more than the mere effusion quence, the energy, and all the discomposing of swelling words. It is hard that having qualities of Brougham, At last it seemed as if a fought manfully, and borne, through those the poor Justice was delighting himself with the long thirty years, the icy chill of exclusion prospect of being allowed to deal with things as from the honours of public life so plentifully he chose; when lo! his enemy appeared — tall, showered upon meaner men, he should in cool, and resolate. I declare," said the Justice, his grave be refused simple justice. How that man Broom, or Broug-ham, is the torment he worked the vein it is impossible for us of my life. His revenge, as usual, consisted in to tell. He was made a Judge because it sneering at Brougham's eloquence, by calling it was his due, and because no advocate of his did the Harangue say next? Why, it said this


or him, the Harangue. Well, gentlemen, what time could prefer a claim equal to his. (misstating it); but here, gentle-men, the Lord Brougam says that Mr. Murray waived Harangue was most plainly wrongg, and not in 1830 his own pretensions in favour of intelligibill.""

The remaining anecdote told of the are filled with alleged inaccuracies, such as, Harangue exhibits not his brusquerie, but a that Principal Robertson did not speak modesty offensive to his feelings. His ad- national Scotch, as Cockburn affirms, which mirers in Edinburgh gave him a public Brougham denies "except in the pronuncidinner in 1825, at which the chair was ation." But who is this Daniel come to occupied by Cockburn.

judgment ? As the Spectator says, "No “When the waiters were clearing the tables, humour, whim, or particularity of behaviour,

man ought to be tolerated in a habitual and the talking-time was approaching, Brougham told me that he thought the most alarming by any who do not wait on him for bread." moment of life was, when the speaker, after set- A severe censure is pronounced upon the tling himself into his chair for an important practice exemplified by Cockburn and by debate, paused for an instant before calling up Moore, of leaving their Diaries behind them, the mover ; but that he would rather endure that and making statements of fact in reference a hundred times, than rise and address the to personal character, the responsibility of audience before him, which, he said, was the which they throw upon their executors. Is it this was the feeling of that practised orator, i not equally reprehensible to find a man need not be ashamed to confess that I felt very shielding himself under the anonymous, uneasy. However, it was, on the whole, a suc- making the bold statements and giving the cessful and impressive meeting."

rude contradictions which disfigure Lord

Brougham's review? Lord Braxfield, it This is not agreeable to the orator who had seems, was a wise and humane judge braved senates and bridled kings. Accor- “as every one knows." Cockburn is in dingly, he pronounces this story “ of Mr. error as to him, and as to Henry Erskine, Brougham” to be entirely fancy; and he and Hermand, and Principal Robertson, and mentions that Mr. Brougham "a few days as to what took place at the trials for after the dinner had addressed (gallery in sedition; and he colours, exaggerates, and cluded) above 700; a few weeks before, misrepresents, “as every one knows,” or, above 600, and on 22d June 1820, above" as was well known in Edinburgh.” And 700;” and on none of these three occasions this unkind stab is given on such vague aswas he afraid. It is "ridiculous" to sup- sertion, to an old friend's memory, and pose that the difference of 100 could make what is still dearer to the world - the printhe Edinburgh audience so much more for- ciples of freedom involved in these old midable. It was not the number at which trials. Lord Brougham was alarmed; it was “at Brougham was one of Lord Cockburn's speaking about nothing, speaking for mere contemporaries; an Edinburgh Reviewer ; speaking's sake, a horror of the epededeictic a Whig politician; and so far as his inoratory which made Mr. Fox all his life constant nature would allow him, the friend incapable of uttering three sentences at an of the band of lawyers who gave an impress after-dinner discussion.” It may be so; to the time. It is curious, however, to trace Cockburn, at least, candidly confesses that the consistency of nature between youth and he was labouring under a nervous quivering, age. In the lives and letters of Cranston, and he is scarcely to be condemned as an of Jeffrey, of Horner, of Mackintosh, of incorrect historian, if, without explanation, Sydney Smith, there will be found a hearty, he attributed to the same cause the terror warm, and joyous outpouring of affection of his friend.

to one another. Not one kindly word, howIn the same style the rest of Lord ever, is ever said by one of them of Brougham. Brougham's article proceeds. The memo- He first promises Jeffrey his support; he rials are filled with - exaggerations.” The then becomes restive, and retracts; and again, author is a “ dealer in anecdotes," and after being soothed, he returns to duty. “colours his facts,” and from "party pre-|(Horner's Life, vol. i. p. 186.) He quarrels judice" and " love of recounting anecdotes," with Horner and reduces that gentlest of his statements are incorrect. He is guilty mankind to despair, because, being ignorant of bad taste, and has repeated as sober of any reason for a quarrel, Horner can do truth what he at first coined for merriment, nothing towards a reconciliation. (Horner's and what repeated narration ultimately con- Life, vol. ii. p. 74.) At last the fit passes vinced himself to be real. At every ten off, and after several years of cold estrangelines, the words “colouring and exaggera- ment, he relents and admits to his old famition" are charged, as if the garrulity of age liarity a man who had, perhaps, only offended had so thoroughly overtaken the writer as his vanity. In short, Brougham appears to to leave him in his passion only one idea. have been an erratic comet that scared them Cockburn's sketches are caricatures, and all at once an object of alarm and admirawhere not satirical are malignant; and pages tion; and so through life he has been charac

terized by the same unaccountable levity, given, almost always possessed alone vacillation, and incoherence, which has ren- fierce, nervous, overwhelming declamation, dered him the sport of every petty passion and close, rapid argument.” * of the hour.

find examples of this in the collected works No one would wish to speak otherwise of the great orator. We have sometimes than kindly of a man who, at least for an opportunity of comparison between twenty-two years, has tasted few of the Cockburn and his reviewer as to their relaglories and all the disappointments of am- tive skill in portrait painting. They differ bition. Yet one who thrusts himself upon very widely in the impression which they the public attention in the spirit of a leave. Individuality, in the sketches of gladiator, to fight at his own hand, and bear Brougham, is lost. We are looking upon down opposition with the dictatorial tone of costume figures where a blank is left for a conqueror, cannot complain, if, while as the face, -- the personal identity eluding the sailing others, he is hiinself judged. When grasp of fancy. Censure, admiration, and Lord Brougham attacks his friend for being even personal qualifications are generalized, a relator of anecdotes, why does he forget till they become common ;, and anecdotes the bulky tomes which bear his own name, intended to illustrate individual character, and which profess to give sketches, anecdotes, are not the best, and are often spoilt by the and portraits of the small and great of all author's eloquence in the telling. Every lands and times? The difference between quality of Mirabeau is dwelt upon but his the two writers is, that the one confines oratory ; diplomacy is scarcely mentioned himself to memoirs of persons that he knew, in the sketch of Talleyrand; the life of and writes in a style bright with immor- Frederick the Great is a collection of the tality; while the other favours mankind discreditable anecdotes of his private life, with anecdotes and sketches of persons of his great achievements and his wonderful all countries, all professions, all creeds, some struggles being compressed into a few pasof whom he knew, and some of whom he sages of depreciatory narrative. The fierce did not, in a style often energetic and outburst introduced in the life of Wilkes as eloquent, but always loose, disjointed, and to the bad demagogic arts, of which he was diffuse. He belongs to the school which not guilty, and the mean practices which he seeks effect from exaggeration or sup- is admitted not to have followed, published pression, and which, though sometimes pro- twenty years ago by way of abusing ducing powerful passages, more frequently O'Connell, and which now read so oddly evaporates in fustian and rant. While when O'Connell, and Melbourne, and Al. many of his figures want the freshness and thorp, and the appropriation clause are vigour of sketches from the life, they are des- things of history, is reproduced in the new titute of the finish of historical portraiture. edition. All this passionate insinuation will And, amid all, there is ever mingling the be unintelligible to another generation. predominant vanity of the author, whose Alas! when writers compose biographical services to mankind, if not at all times sketches according to their passions, what directly insisted on, are ingeniously enforced tortures are laid up for the future historian! by repeated notices of the most perfect type If, like Cobbett, Brougham is one of the of character - -a lawyer and a rhetorician. most copious of writers, he is also like CobTo be perfect, however, there must be the bett one of the most inconstant that ever combination, in that exact measure which abused the liberty of the press. In his old fills the outline with the figure of the retired age he writes the recantation of a thousand statesman. The lawyer is insufficient if he speeches. His fluctuating praise or blame be destitute of that noble rhetoric which of individuals or of parties, his defence or enabled Henry Brougham to ascend without abuse of principles and systems, are all ineffort from the professional pleading to cidental to the personal feelings of the command the attention and applause of moment. For the doctrines themselves, the listening senates: the mere orator, again, is opinions, the measures he has alternately wanting if he possess not the perfect know- advocated and denounced, his pretensions to ledge of men, and the practised aptitude for ordinary consistency are such as not to bear business which the contests of Nisi Prius the hazard of a gratuitous appearance in always give. His opinion, too, of his own Court. He upholds the horrors of the reign style, varies from that commonly received, of terror in Scotland to-day, as if he were and the light of Burke's genius pales before wholly unconscious of ever having written the brighter sun of his biographer. “The anything before. kinds of composition are various, and Burke excels in them all, with the exception of two, the very highest, given to few, and when * Brougham's Works, vol. i. p. 232. Ed. 1855. VOL. XXVI.


Lord Cockburn's Memorials are filled with its memories might expire. Lord Cockburn sketches of the troubled politics of the Scot- might have been indulged in the retrospect tish reign of terror. He recurs to the sub- of sufferings borne and of triumphs achieved; ject at almost every page, as one that had but his ancient friend will have it otherwise, much occupied his mind; and truly the and he probes the old sore so that its rankworld has never had such a striking picture ling pains leave no rest to the sufferer. He of it. Life was certainly not pleasant in seems to have a horror of the waters of those days, when not merely freedom of Lethe, and will only bathe in Phlegethon. speech, but almost freedom of thought was We live in an age of fresh ideas. The a crime. There have been three periods in things which interested the youth of CockScottish history more peculiarly unfortunate; burn and Brougham, have become to us and to have lived in them must have been a wearisome and unprofitable. The old party trial,- times like those under which the shibboleths have lost their significance, and Italians are now living, when at every step, the faith which once could remove mountains, the air is tainted with the trail of a police is, in the breast of a new generation, chilled spy. Over the fair fields of the Lombardo- and dead. A feeble reflection of that ancient Venetian kingdom, men of foreign language spirit is exhibited by Cockburn, when proand of foreign mien bear down a sensitive fessing to act as its historian, and by his race, proud of their traditions and their his- friend when subjecting him to criticism. tory. The materialities of life, though pos The political trials of 1792-96 constitute sessed in ample abundance, are no compen- the text for an elaborate commentary and sation for the want of that which gives to moral. According to Lord Cockburn, the life its charm. So, when Baliol surrendered persons then condemned were guilty of no the independence of his country to Edward, crime; and assuming them to be guilty of and foreign legions spread from the Solway sedition, of which they were accused, the to the Shetland Isles, and the calm of despair punishment was illegal. Upon both these settled upon a prostrate people, Scotland for points we have the shock of a point-blank a time felt in all its agony the miseries of contradiction; as we have also upon the conquest. So, when during the twenty- merits and virtues of the Judge who tried eight sad

years which constituted the reign them. of the last Stuarts, all that was great and All who die are honoured with tears ! true-hearted was hunted from valley to The friend is lamented by his friend, the mountain, and the scaffolds were deluged husband by his wife, the father by his child. with the blood of martyrs, the people had ren, and the apostle of liberty carries with another taste of the horrors of a scientific him the regrets of mankind. Even Braxdespotism. These were times when sus- field has now a coronach of wailing over his picion became proof, and when law was op- tomb. He was not a cruel magistrate, who pression. But the life of a nation outlives abused power, and bent the laws to the opthe life of man, and in its circuit compre- pression and misery of the land. He was hends that retributive or compensating not a brutal judge, coarse in his manners, award which is denied to individuals. The inhuman in his treatment of the feeble; overpowerful oppressor is often followed to the bearing and insolent to serve his party or to grave with honour, and monuments are reared gratify his passions; and whom no scruples to his memory, and the good and the brave are of conscience kept back an instant from his cast upon the hill side, and receive justice object. If he has hitherto received a preonly from history. To them the right re- eminent renown in infamy, he now deserves ward comes too late; but a nation endures a more lasting one in our gratitude and comfor ages; it creates a future for itself, and miseration. The world has hitherto been colours that future with its own character. in error. His name ought not to be linked The blood of martyrs is the seed of religion. with Lauderdale and Mackenzie. He beFrom their tombs they speak a lesson of longs to the category of which Duncan heroism and magnanimity to posterity; and Forbes was the chief. He exhibits to manthe Scotland of this day is all the better that kind the splendid spectacle of great talents they lived and suffered.

long exercised with difficulties, and high It is not a pleasant duty to rake up the principles never tainted with guilt. Such is smouldering embers of ancient controversies the sketch by this new historian who is to

- Ignes suppositos cineri doloso. A more blot from our minds the fixed traditions and agreeable duty would it have been to have the burning memories of half a century. dwelt upon many of the cheering pictures of The world sometimes admires the chivalold manners and times, and of modern im- rous devotion that runs counter to the current provement and civilisation, which Cockburn's of history and the prejudices of the mass. It Memorials afford us. The war is over and may arise from moral courage and real convic

tion; more frequently from Quixotism of dis " As Mr. Muir has brought many witnesses to position, soured by disappointment and embit- prove his general good behaviour, and his recomtered by personal antipathy. The proud mending peaceable measures and petitions to Pareagle does not here soar in his own meridian. liament, it is your business to judge how far this

should operate in his favour, in opposition to the Ile enters into a sphere where he has no evidence on the other side. Mr. Muir might have superiority over others. Of the merits and known that no attention could be paid to such a character of Lord Braxfield, and of the merits rabble. What right had they to representation ? and demerits of those proceedings which He could have told them that the Parliament ended in the banishment of Thomas Muir and would never listen to their petition. How could his unhappy compatriots, there are thousands they think of it? A government in every counas capable of judging and pronouncing an try should be just like a corporation; and in this

country it is made up of the landed interest, which opinion as Lord Brougham.

alone has a right to be represented. As for the Lord Cockburn says, “ that no impartial rabble, who have nothing but personal property, censor can avoid detecting throughout the what hold has the nation of them? What sewhole course of the trials not mere casual curity for the payment of their taxes? They may indications of bias, but absolute straining for bundle up all their property on their backs and convictions, .. In every case sentiments leave the country in the twinkling of an eye, but were avowed (from the Bench) implying landed property cannot be removed." (State

Trials.) the adoption of the worst current intemperance. If, instead of a supreme Court of What in the captain's but a choleric word, justice sitting for the trial of guilt or of in- is in the soldier flat blasphemy. It was the nocence, it had been an ancient commission right of a land-owner to exercise his privilege appointed by the Crown to procure convic of freedom of speech ; it was sedition in the tions, little of its judicial manner would have landless or poverty-stricken yeoman. This required to be changed. ::: In order to was the view also of Dr. Samuel Horsley, a find a match for the judicial spirit of this bishop of Pitt's creation, who at the same time Court at this period we must go back to the

gave it as his opinion in Parliament,—“that days of Lauderdale and Dalziel."

he did not know what the mass of the peoAll this is contradicted, and Braxfield, it ple in any country had to do with the laws, now seems, was not blasphemous and arbi- but to obey them.And the conclusion of trary. When he damned a lady who was the charge belongs to this school. “The tenplaying with him at whist, he did not, as dency,” said Braxfield, "of the panel's conCockburn says, apologize to her by saying duct was plainly to promote a spirit of revolt, that he mistook her for his wife. He did and if what was demanded was not given, not say, of course, to IIorner's father, one of to take it by force. His Lordship had not the jurors who tried Muir, " Come awa', the smallest doubt that the Jury were like himMaister Horner, come awa', and help us to self convinced of the panel's guilt, and dehang ane o' thae damned scoondrels." Nor, sired them to return such a verdict as would when Gerald pleaded that our Saviour was do them honour.”—(Robertson's Report.) a Reformer, did Braxfield retort, "Muckle

Lord Braxfield may, in quieting disconhe made o' that, -he was hanget." So far, tent and allaying sedition, have intended to too, from wishing convictions, he rather interpose the mediation of kind offices and aided the accused, as is plainly seen from temperate words. His object may have the State trials to which Cockburn refers.

been to stop the descent of the iron flail, and It were well, when censure is thus, so satisfy even unreasoning and inconsiderate liberally administered, that the censor him- passion. His heart may have beat with the self should be correct. So far from referring to the State trials as an authority, Cock- nancing the untimely fervour which only

patriotic aspiration of merely discounteburn says that the proceedings“ are very gave to an affrightened Government a prefaintly given” there. They do not exhibit text and an arm of vengeance; and on the the interruptions by Braxfield to the prisoner, judgment-seat he might have only wished and they give no account of the whole tone to curb, by the humanity of the law, that and spirit of the trial. Yet they tell how he relentless 'vindictiveness which, though it was reprimanded and commanded to sit punished, also brutalized a people. If so, down, and how his witnesses were bullied, his charge does not do him justice; and he and how he was told more than once to has received hard mercy from posterity, make an end of his evidence, and, lastly, which has sat in stern judgment on his they give a summing up which, if it had been tomb. attributed to Jeffreys, would have found no

“ This old Judge, one to dispute its origin. This is the charge with one foot in the grave; with dim eyes, of the impartial Judge :

strange To tears, save drops of dotage ; with long white

« PoprzedniaDalej »