Obrazy na stronie

dilatory. That has been often and I admit most fairly imputed to me; to all who accuse me of it, I wish to give as my answer the passage I allude to," &c.

We shall only add one passage more as being the result of a professional rather than a political judgment, and, therefore, more entitled to credit for impartiality, for though professional prejudices are strong they must yield in intensity and in injustice to political animosity.

" Of the value of Lord Eldon's that he who comes latest has, as to general judgments, though sometimes too tardily principles, nothing to invent and little to pronounced, it would be superfluous to add. That he has the less brilliant enlarge. The grammarian or rhetorician * though more difficult task of distinguishmay find fault with the structure of the ing the effect of these principles, of resentences. The worthy judge himself, conciling the ever-growing variety of prea bad judge of style, found fault with cedents, and of guarding the application the reporters for reducing to some limit of old principles and precedents to a new their excessive length. But these sen- cause from any doubt as to the precise tences the real-property lawyer will fix in points to which such authorities are aphis memory, and disregard, as much as plied. Lords Nottingham and Hardwicke their author, the want of paint and drapery. may be considered the fountains of equity The worth of some few may be impaired law. It was reserved for Lord Eldon to by leaving the question with which the illustrate them both, as Coke illustrated court had to grapple in abeyance, or by Littleton, by the admirable commentaries keeping too closely to minute details, and he has preserved on the decisions of his their practical application. But in re- predecessors."'t rising his decisions we should remember

We shall now add a few critical sketches of the character of some of the most eminent of Lord Eldon's contemporaries in the law, not only for the just and pleasing records of their worth, but for the discriminating judgment shown in estimating their various talents and acquirements. Those interested in the subject may have the leisure and curiosity to compare the present portraits of some of the persons with those sketched by Lord Brougham in his Gallery of the Statesmen of the time of George III. and, as regards some of the others, perhaps the present recollection of them, drawn fresh as it is from life, may be the only one rendered permanent, by being incorporated in a popular work like the present. To our minds these tributes, however small, to departed excellence of whatever kind are eminently gratifying, especially when the picture is brightened by the strokes of the artist's pencil, who was familiar with the lineaments he adventured to draw. They remind us of those noble and generous testimonies which the great Roman statesman and orator so loved to bear to his scarcely less great rivals either in the forum or the sepate, and which forms one of those portions of the remains of his enchanting eloquence to which we are never tired of referring. It is in these divine pages that the names of Crassus and Hortensius, of Pollio and Licinius, still survive, though every relic of the splendid triumphs of their genius has long passed away. That their names still live in the fame and memory of ages, is entirely owing to the circumstance of having bad Cicero as their friend ; and, as Seneca truly observes of another person still more generally known, “ Nomen Attici perire Ciceronis epistola

in a decision ; and conscience, I trust, will then make you as doubtful, as timid, and, consequently, as dilatory, as I am accused of being," &c. Butler's Rem. p. 264.

* In our opinion the construction of sentences, and the general composition in Lord Eldon's speeches and letters, is so devoid of correctness and eloquence, as to contradict a belief we would willingly entertain, that a clear-headed man must express himself clearly.-Rev.

† See Law Magazine, No. XVII. p. 351. GENT. MAG. VOL. XXIII,


mon sense.

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non sinùnt. Nihil illi profuisset gener Agrippa, et Tiberius progener,
et Drusus pronepos ; inter_tam magna nomina taceretur, nisi Cicero illum
applicuisset.” v. Senec. Ep. 21.

years after his elevation to the bench re•
“Of the judges presiding over any of tained his seat in the House of Commons.
the courts of equitable jurisdiction in the He spoke there seldom, but always with
chancellorship of Lord Eldon the only one great impression, from the vigorous plain-
at all comparable to him in the adminis- ness of his style, and that great faculty of
tration of equity was Sir William Grant, giving effect to argument which was
the Master of the Rolls, who retired in aptly termed in him the genius of com-
the Christmas vacation of 1817. He had
not enjoyed an extensive practice at the

LORD GIFFORD. bar, but, Mr. Pitt wisely deeming that consideration a secondary one in the case of “ In looking round at the close of the a person possessing such capacity and preceding year for assistance in the judicial such acquirements, selected him, in 1799, business of the House of Lords the governfor Solicitor-General. After discharging ment had turned its attention to the with an unsurpassed credit the legal as well qualifications of the Attorney-General, as the parliamentary duties of his office, Sir Robert Gifford. He was a lawyer of he was advanced, in 1801, to the dignity good abilities and of still better fortune. of Master of the Rolls. He came to He had early distinguished himself in the the bench without the benefit of that ex- Court of King's Bench by a terse way of perience in matters of court-practice which putting his points, and had become a not unfrequently forms the main stock in favourite with the judges, if not by any trade of inferior advocates. But his care great grasp of mind or depth of knowledge, and industry soon supplied that one defin yet, by the succinctness of his arguments, ciency, and there was then nothing left to the readiness of his apprehension, and the be desired. If he did not possess the respectfulness of his demeanour. For the almost intuitive perception and universal technical part of his profession his neat range of legal learning by which Lord mind was remarkably well qualified ; and, Eldon as soon as the facts were before him having succeeded in little things, he was saw their whole relation and result in thought likely to suffice for greater. He connection with all the law which bore was, therefore, at the early age of about forty, upon them, yet Sir William Grant was very strongly recommended by several of profound in the great principles of our the common-law judges for the office of equitable jurisprudence, and had, like Lord Solicitor. General, and obtained it acEldon and Lord Lyndhurst, the rare and cordingly. In the House of Commons, high power of holding his mind until the as he attempted nothing, he can hardly very close of all the arguments, unbiassed be said to have failed. Quitting the for or against any view of the case, or courts of common law, to which he had any party in it, and open to any light from been bred, he started as a leader in the whatever quarter. Availing himself of Court of Chancery, in the business these faculties, he maintained on the bench whereof it was apprehended that his an almost unbroken reserve, and, except acquaintance with the law of real, that is, when explanation of some fact was want- landed, property, would give him some ing, forbore from any interruption of advantage. He, however, had but little counsel, either by question or observation; to do there, and gained no accession of insomuch that, among the junior wits of fame from his manner of doing it. Sucthe law, he bore the technical appellation ceeding to the office of Attorney-General, of equity reserved.' His closeness, how. he was, of course, entrusted with the conever, savoured nothing of incivility, and duct of the Queen's trial; and he dishe enjoyed in the fullest degree from the charged the important duty of opening that bar the respect and regard ever paid by great issue, just as might have been exthat justly jealous body to those judges, pected from a lawyer who was in no wise but to those alone, who duly observe the a man of the world, and who knew little, reciprocal courtesies of their station. His if any thing, of the class of judges he was judgments were models of judicial com- there addressing, or of the popular inposition, and the Master of the Rolls had fluences then beginning to work on the no more earnest admirer than the Lord humours and the fears of the legislature. Chancellor. Sir William Grant for many He however acquired some insight into

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* See some judicious observations on Sir W. Grant's style of parliamentary oratory in the Memoirs of Mr. Horner.-Rev.

these matters in the course of the trial, and depths and shoals,' he framed and laid down acquitted bimself with ability in his reply. that great comprehensive chart of maritime At the close of 1823 the resignation of law which has become the rule of his sucSir Robert Dallas having made a vacancy cessors, and the admiration of the world. in the Chief Justiceship of the Common What he thus achieved in the wide field Pleas, Sir Robert Gifford was promoted to of international jurisprudence, he acthat office with a peerage ; and, in the complished also with equal success in the spring of 1824, he was transferred from narrower sphere of ecclesiastical, matri. the Common Pleas to the Rolls, as the monial, and testamentary law. And successor of Sir Thomas Plumer. The though where so many higher excellences appointment was not satisfactory to the stand forth that of style may seem com. Chancery bar ; and their disfavour, joined paratively immaterial, it is impossible not to his own want of early experience in to notice that scholar-like finish * of his equity practice, made the Rolls Court judicial compositions, by which they delight somewhat difficult and uncomfortable to the taste of the critic, as by their learning him. He took great pains, however, and, and their logic they satisfy the understandbeing naturally quick to learn, he would, ing of the lawyer. Like Lord Eldon, he probably, had he lived for a few years, was more repelled by fears of change than have surmounted many of his disad. attracted by hopes of improvement. On vantages ; although in almost everything questions, therefore, which involved any he did there was visible a constraint which kind of disturbance, whether legal, politiseemed to result from fear of getting cal, or ecclesiastical, his voice was almost beyond his depth, and unwillingness that always against the mover; or if he opposed tbis depth should be too accurately sounded. not with his voice, as he was little given It was in the judicial business of the House to parliamentary display, he resisted with of Lords where the jurisdiction is merely a steady vote and an influence which, appellate, and where points, therefore, from his learning, his station, and his can seldom arise on the sudden, that he close connection and communion with the was seen to the greatest advantage. In Chancellor was vastly potential. But he the disposal of the Scotch appeals, more was not more stubborn in legislation than especially, he gave much satisfaction, and he was free and facile in society; he lived was of material use in enabling Lord Eldon with all the best political and literary to devote a greater portion of his time to company, and to the latest period of his the duties of the Court of Chancery," &c. London life his presence was coveted at

all the most agreeable tables of the time, LORD STOWELL.

without distinction of party." " Lord Stowell had the good fortune to

LORD ERSKINE. live in an age of which the events and circumstances were peculiarly qualified to " There are but few materials for esti. exercise and exhibit the high faculties of mating the judicial merits of Lord Erskine. his mind. The greatest maritime questions In truth, his celebrity does not so naturally which bad ever presented themselves for connect itself with the equity bench as adjudication,-questions involving all the with the common-law bar. When he most important points both in the rights came to the Court of Chancery he had of belligerents and in those of neutrals,- not been very conversant with those arose, in his time, out of that great war particular departments of jurisprudence in which England became the sole oc- through which the science of equity is cupant of the sea, and held at her girdle most easily approached; and he remained the keys of all the harbours of the globe. not long enough in that court to become Of these questions, most of them of first familiar with all its principles. His deimpression, a large proportion could be cisions, therefore, are, perhaps, of less determined only by a long and cautious authority than that of some judges, much process, of reference to principle, and in- his inferiors both in strength of underduction from analogy. The genius of standing and in reach of thought, but Lord Stowell, at once profound and ex- more versed in the doctrine and practice of pansive, vigorous and acute, impartial and equitable jurisprudence. His fame, how. decisive, penetrated, marshalled, and mas- ever, may well afford to waive any claim tered all the difficulties of these complex upon the short annals of his chancellor. inquiries ; till, having sounded all their ship. For more than a quarter of a century

There are a few Latin epitaphs and inscriptions scattered in the volumes by Lord Stowell, of which the composition is very classical and correct.-Rev.


he had been the foremost advocate in those extraordinary, and had gained him a just courts which hold supreme jurisdiction distinction in Parliament as well as at the of liberty and life ; and the record which Bar. He delivered himself with great his corrected speeches have preserved of clearness and neatness of expression, and him, such as then he was, will best enable his judgments showed an extensive knowhis successors and his country to appre- ledge of the practice of his Court. He, ciate, however hopeless it may be to equal, however, trusted too much to his quickhis earnest and brilliant eloquence, his ness, and sometimes suffered it to hurry logical reasoning, his exquisite tact, his him from his propriety. From the readiinstinctive quickness, his attaching cour- ness with which he apprehended facts, tesy, and his indomitable courage." the most numerous and complicated, he

fancied that the same rapid glance had SIR JOHN LEACH.

made him master of all their legal bear" Mr. Leach, then a considerable leader ings too. The consequence was, that, in the Court of Chancery, received the jumping to his conclusions, he often honour of knighthood, and succeeded to heard with impatience the arguments at the office of Vice-Chancellor.

the Bar, and, when points were pertinaThis judge had a great desire to unite, ciously pressed, was not always courteous with the distinction he had earned as a to Counsel.* If he would have suffered man of talents, the reputation also of a himself to suppose it possible that any man of ton. Llaving mixed but little in conception of his own could be mistaken, his early days with the higher classes of he might have held a high place among society, for whose conversation, indeed, the judges of our Courts of Equity; but, neither his original education nor his sub- from his haste to dispose of the causes besequent acquirements had very well fore him by breaking them down premaadapted him, he made the mistake of turely, his decisions have failed to obtain supposing that a gentleman ought to have the full praise which perhaps they intrinsomething artificial in demeanour and de- sically deserve. Though his address was livery ; and thus he contracted an affecta- not agreeable, his disposition was friendly ; tion of manner, in which levity and prim- and, in spite of some littlenesses, he was ness was somewhat fantastically blended. a high-spirited and firm man. There The Prince of Wales, always a nice ob- were no misgivings, no qualms in his server upon taste and manners, was parti- courage; and severe afflictions of bodily cularly diverted with this foible in a man disease, which more than once acquired of Sir John Leach's station and abilities. the application of the knife, were borne by The Anecdote Book relates the following him with unflinching fortitude.” story.

MR. PERCEVAL. “ It has long been the habit to give the Chancellor, carrying his purse, the nick- “ Mr. Perceval was inestimable to his name of • Bags. When Sir John Leach party as a parliamentary leader ; but he was Chancellor to the Prince, he also had was not very generally regarded as merita purse ; and the Prince said, as Sir John ing that character of a great statesman,' was not so rough in his manners as a which is thus claimed for him by the King's Chancellor usually was, but a friendship of Lord Eldon. He did indeed much more polite person, he should call possess many efficient talents and high fahim Reticule.' Some of his talents were culties, and particularly and eminently

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* Lord Brougham records that certain wits used to call the Chancellor's Court

oyer sans terminer,”' and that of the Vice-Chancellor's, “ terminer sans oyer." It once happened that all the causes in Sir John Leach's Court were cleared by him before the end of Term, and that three or four days were left, in which nothing remained to do. Somebody asked how the judge was to fill up his time. " Why,” said Sir George Rose, “ let him have his causes set down again, and hear the other side." Sir Samuel Romilly said, “The tardy justice of the Chancellor was better than the swift injustice of his deputy." We add some humorous lines by Mr. Rose, now Sir G. Rose, in which this habit of the Vice-Chancellor is not overlooked. Mr. Leach

Mr. Parker Made a speech

Made the case darker Angry, neat, but wrong ;

Which was dark enough without ; Mr. Hart

Mr. Cooke On the other part

Cited his book, Was heavy, dull and long.

And the Chancellor said I doubt.

one which is now justly esteemed among a a man. No kindlier tribute was ever bestatesman's most essential endowments,- stowed upon the memory of a rival than the firmness necessary to check the march the graceful allusion to his death in Mr. of self-entitled Liberalism, with its train of Canning's celebrated speech of the 22nd noisy, lawless camp-followers. But in of the following June, on the Romun Ca. politics the values of certain qualities lic question :- When I first gave notice of vary with the times ; and in Mr. Perceval's this motion (early in the month of May), day, when the best informed classes of so. I expected that my most formidable antaciety, who now feel it needful to make a gonist upon it would be my late lamented stand against progressive movement, were friend ; and I should have argued the favourable at least to such an amount of question with him in no other spirit and change as might adjust the old institu. with no other feelings than tions of the country to its modern exigen

• If a brother should a brother dare' cies, the unyielding resolution of the Mi. nister found but little sympathy among to the proof and exercise of arms. I know persons unconnected with his party. So not who is to buckle on his armour against far from being acccounted to him for a me this day. Would to God that he were virtue, it was set down as his chief defect. here to wield his weapons with his own With somewhat more of justice, he was

hand --that the cause bad the advantage of reputed to be deficient in extent and com. his abilities, so we had the benefit of his prehensiveness of view. The course of presence, his earlier life had not left him sufficient Tuque tuis armis, nos te poteremur, leisure for studying the general philosophy

Achille!'" of politics, and the safe limits of the antagonist forces which mingle in the consti

LORD LONDONDERRY. tution of a free community. Belonging by birth and connection to a party whose " In early life, Lord Londonderry, then great maxim was to keep things as they Lord Castlereagh, by the measures which were, he had taken it for granted that their he took as a member of the Irish Governa prescriptive opinions must be right. Of ment for suppressing the rebellion and ef. those opinions he was suddenly called fecting the Union, had incurred the viru. from his profession to become the minis. lent hatred of the demagogues of Ireland; terial champion ; and whatever tended to and his official reputation afterwards susshake or even qualify them, he regarded tained much damage from the failure of as prejudicial to the monarchy and to the the Walcheren expedition, fitted out under Church, to both of which he was sincerely his management. But when, on the attached. He, therefore, with the daunt- death of Mr. Perceval, he succeeded to be less courage of his nature, directed the leader of the House of Commons, he whole force of a strong and ready, though evinced powers, both of general counsel near-sighted, mind against innovation in and of departmental administration, which general, without sufficiently distinguish. rapidly raised him into high esteem; and ing in favour of demonstrated improve the ability with which he negotiated the

But his opposition, however great settlement of Europe at the conclu. zealous, was generous and frank; and sion of the war definitively placed him, by though, from the want of early training for general consent, in the foremost rank of that kind of conflict, he was under some the statesmen of his time. Strangers, vidisadvantage in his first struggles with the siting the gallery of the House of Compractised politicians of the Whig opposi- mons in the expectation of a rhetorical tion, yet he took up, and employed with display from its leader, were generally 80 much quickness, judgment, and spirit, disappointed in Lord Castlereagh, whose the materials furnished to him by his col- ordinary language, abundantly fluent, was leagues and subalterns, that, possessing wanting both in force and in correctness ; also the gift of a correct and perspicuous -although now and then, on subjects of style, he soon became, by the confession special excitement, he would rise for a of all parties, one of the most powerful short time into a strain which few of his debaters of his time. He had personal adversaries could equal. In the judgment, qualities, too, which contributed materially however, of persons who understood the to his acceptation in debate. His domestic practical objects of Parliamentary debate, virtues, his fidelity to his friends, bis ar- his general defects of style were fully comdent and almost flagrant zeal, bis since. pensated by those other more essential rity, his disinterestedness, his unaffected merits which he eminently combined piety, his extensive benevolence and cha. his long experience and accurate knowrity, all told upon his parliamentary posie ledge of public affairsm_his leading spirit, tion, and fortified him as a Minister, his clearness and grasp of understanding, by the regard which they won for him as bis judicious selection of topics, his gala


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