« السابقةمتابعة »
upon him at all sides; and he himself was heard to say, that he never knew the difference' (any medium) between a total want of employ. ment and a gain of 30007, a year.' To this, Mr. Pope alludes in the following lines:
"Graced as thou art, with all the power of words, So known, so honour'd at the house of Lords."
The second of these lines has been considered as a great falling off from the first. They were thus parodied by Colley Cibber:
"Persuasion tips his tongue whene'er he talks, And he has chambers in the King's-bench walks."
- His lordship confined his practice to the court of chancery. His command of words, and the gracefulness of his action, formed a striking contrast with the manner of some of his rivals, who were equally distinguished by the extent and depth of their legal knowledge, and their unpleasant enunciation. After he had filled with great applause, the offices of solicitor and attorney general, he was created chief justice of the King's Bench in May 1756, on the decease of Sir Dudley Ryder. He held that situation during two and thirty years. On every occasion, he was equally attentive to the bar and the suitors of the court. In all he said or did, there was a happy mixture of good-nature, good-humour, elegance, ease, and dignity. His countenance was indescribably beauti ful; it was an assemblage of genius, dignity, and good nature, which none could behold without reverence and regard. An engraving by Bartolozzi of a portrait of his lordship by Sir Joshua Reynolds, presents a strong resemblance of him in a very advanced age. Nature had given him an eye of fire; its last lingering gleam is exquisitely exhibited in the engraving. His voice, till it was affected by the years which passed over him, was perhaps unrivalled in its sweetness and the mellifluous variety of its tones. There was a similitude' (similarity) between his action and Mr. Garrick's; and, in the latter part of his life, his voice discovered something of that gutturalness by which Mr. Garrick's was distinguished, He spoke slowly, sounding distinctly every letter of every word. In some instances he had a great peculiarity of pronunciation: authority and attachment, two words of frequent use in the law, he always pronounced awtawrity and attaichment. His expressions were sometimes low; he did not always observe the rules of grammar; there was great confusion in his periods, very often beginning without ending them, and involving his sentences in endless parentheses: yet, such was the charm of his voice and action, and such the general beauty, propriety, and force of his expressions, that, while he spoke, all these defects passed unnoticed. No one ever remarked them, who did not obstinately confine his attention and observation to them.
Among his contemporaries, he had some superiors in force, and some equals in persuasion; but in insinuation, he was without a rival or a second. This was particularly distinguishable in his speeches from the bench. He excelled in the statement of a case; Mr. Burke said of
t," that it was, of itself, worth the argument of any other man." He divested it of all unnecessary circumstances; brought together all that were of importance; placed them in so striking a point of view, and connected them by observations so powerful, but which appeared to arise so naturally from the facts themselves, that frequently the hearer was convinced before he began to argue. When he argued, he shewed equal ability, but it was a mode of argument always peculiar to himself. His statement of the case predisposed the hearers to fall into the very train of thought he wished them to take, when they should come to consider his arguments. Through these he accompanied them, leading them insensibly to every observation favourable to the conclusion he wished them to draw, and diverting every objection to it; but, all the time, still keeping himself concealed; so that the hearers thought they formed their opinions in consequence of the powers and workings of their own minds, when, in fact, it was the effect of the most subtle argumentation and the most refined dialectic.
In the fundamental principles either of the constitution or the jurisprudence of this country, no one dreaded innovation more than he did. His speech on the case of Eltham Allen shews his notions on the great subject of toleration. He was the first judge who openly discountenanced prosecutions on the popery laws. It has been argued, that his knowledge of law was by no means profound, and that his great professional eminence was owing more to his oratory than to his knowledge. This was an early charge against him: Mr. Pope alludes to it in these lines:
"The temple late two brother serjeants saw,
And shook his head at Murray as a wit."
To decide on his lordship's knowledge of the law, a serious perusal of his arguments as counsel, in Mr. Atkyns's Reports, and of his speeches as judge, in Sir James Burrows's, Mr. Douglas's, and Mr. Cowper's, is absolutely necessary. If the former be compared with the arguments of his contemporaries, many of whom were men of the profoundest knowledge that ever appeared at the chancery bar, it will not be discovered, that, in learning or research, in application of principles, or in recollection of cases, his arguments are in any wise inferior to those of the most eminent among them. Nor will he suffer by the comparison, if his speeches in giving his judgements from the bench, are compared with those of the counsel at the bar.
It was not on great occasions only, that his lordship's talents were conspicuous: they were equally discoverable in the common business of the courts. Par negotiis neque supra, was never more applicable than to the discernment, perseverance, abilities, and good humour with which he conducted himself in this part of his office. The late Earl of Sandwich said of him, that his talents were more for common use, and more at his finger-ends, than those of any other person he had known, But his highest praise is, that his private virtues were allowed by all, and his personal integrity was never called in question.'
VOL. XVIII. N.S.
Junius terms Lord Mansfield a bad man and a worse judge,' calling in question both his private virtues and his personal integrity; but Junius, Mr. Butler probably thinks to be, in this case, nobody. Even in his own sketch of his Lordship's portrait, it is not difficult, however, to recognise, veiled under the language of panegyric, the traits of the same character which employed the caustic pen of the mighty Censor. Of such a person as Mr. Butler has described, it would be risking nothing to affirm, that if not a good man, he must have been a very dangerous one. The wily Scotchman, the political lawyer, is betrayed in the very terms of the eulogy. It is the portrait of a great man, (and such, unquestionably, Lord Mansfield was,) but not of a man of the highest style of greatness. His Lordship is said by Horace Walpole to have been naturally timid, and, like most timid men, inclined to severity, if not to cruelty. He was for a long time the parliamentary champion of the Newcastle administration in the Commons' House; but, ashamed, it may be, of his coadjutors, or distrustful of their being able to stand their ground, nothing could induce him to waive, even for a few months, securing the rich remuneration for his political services, afforded by the death of Lord Chief Justice Ryder. At a critical moment, when all his oratory was wanted in the House on behalf of his friends, that high office became vacant; he demanded it, and his demand was reluctantly acceded to.
Lord Hardwicke is spoken of in very high terms.
At the period when the Reminiscent engaged in the profession of the law, the talents displayed by lord Hardwicke in the senate and on the bench, were the universal theme of panegyric. Some,but faintly, blamed him for too frequently permitting principles of equity to control rules of law, and this charge was occasionally insinuated by lord Northington, his immediate successor. But, the eminent merit of his lordship's general administration of justice in his court was admitted by all,'
Lord Mansfield is said to have mentioned him in terms of admiration and of the warmest friendship. When his Lordship pronounced his decrees, wisdom herself,' he said, ' might be supposed to speak.' Both Burke and Wilkes also are stated to have described lord Hardwicke's oratory to the Author in these very words. Our readers will have in recollection Lord Waldegrave's pithy remark, that he was undoubtedly an ex'cellent Chancellor,' and that had he been less avaricious, less proud, less unlike a gentleman, and not so great a poli
The very charge brought against Lord Mansfield by Junius.
tician, he might have been thought a great man.'* There was, probably, some pique and some ill nature, together with some truth in this representation. Mr. Nicholls, in his "Re"collections," describes the Earl as certainly a very able magistrate, and a very honest man under a most craving appetite-extreme avarice; but then, he was not even suspected of having ever acquired money by incorrect means.' He was not the first nor the last Lord Chancellor who has been reproached for his frugality and his keen sense of the value of money. On the whole, Mr. Nicholls does him no more than justice when he says, that he must be reckoned among our greatest and most spotless lawyers.'
Lord Camden's eloquence is described by our Reminiscent,' as of the colloquial kind, extremely simple, diffuse, but not desultory; abounding with legal idioms, but these were always introduced with a pleasing effect. Sometimes,' it is added, his Lordship rose to the sublime strains of eloquence; but the sublimity was altogether in the sentiment; the diction ⚫ retained its simplicity; this increased its effect.'
As a speaker,' says Mr. Nicholls, Lord Camden possessed one beauty beyond any man I ever heard; his style and his delivery were little above those of private conversation. 'He seemed to be arguing with a friend, rather than contending with an adversary; it was the mitis sapientia Lalii.' In this respect, he is represented as the very contrast of Lord Mansfield, by whom every thing was done with effort. Lord Camden is stated to have been a great novel reader.
The judicial oratory of Lord Rosslyn is described by Mr. Butler as having been exquisite ;' his arguments were perspicuous, luminous in their order, and chastely elegant: the Author thinks that justice has seldom been done to either his heart or his talents. But the most perfect model of judicial eloquence,' continues Mr. Butler, (and here most persons, we believe, will subscribe to the justness of his panegyric,) is that of Sir William Grant.'
In hearing him, it was impossible not to think of the character given of Menelaus by Homer, or rather by Pope; that
"He spoke no more than just the thing he ought." But Sir William did much more:-in decompounding and analysing an immense mass of confused and contradictory matter, and forming clear and unquestionable results, the sight of his mind was infinite. His exposition of facts and of the consequences deducible from them, his discussion of former decisions, and shewing their legitimate weight and authority, and their real bearings upon the point
* Eclectic Review, N.S. Vol. XV. p. 427.
in question, were above praise: but the whole was done with such admirable ease and simplicity, that while real judges felt its excellence, the herd of hearers believed that they should have done supreme the same. Never was the merit of Dr. Johnson's definition of a perfect style," proper words in proper places," more sensibly felt than it was by those who listened to Sir William Grant, The charm of it was indescribable; its effect on the hearers was that which Milton describes, when he paints Adam listening to the angel after the angel had ceased to speak ;-often and often has the Reminiscent beheld the bar listening, at the close of a judgement given by Sir William, with the same feeling of admiration at what they had heard, and the same regret that it was heard no more.'
On this follows a panegyric on the present Chancellor, to whose merits as a judge, with the single drawback of a slowmoving cautiousness in giving the results of his interminable deliberation, that is sometimes not a little inconvenient to the suitors, all parties have concurred in yielding their suffrage. The greater is the pity that so good a Chancellor should have upon his hands the business of Speaker of the House of Lords, and all the toilsome duties of the Cabinet. A man with his good humour and bonhommie, so fond as he is of a joke, so good a shot, as well as so sound a lawyer, how much is it to be regretted that he should be a politician and a minister !
The Reminiscences relating to Parliamentary Eloquence, open with a spirited character of the great Pitt, Lord Chatham. We must make room for nearly the whole of it.
Of those by whom Lord North was preceded, none probably, except Lord Chatham, will be remembered by posterity. It was frequently given to the writer of these pages to hear the speeches, both in the house of Commons and the house of Lords, of this extraordinary man. No person in his external appearance was ever more bountifully gifted by nature for an orator. In his look and his gesture, grace and dignity were combined, but dignity presided; the "terrors of his beak, the lightning of his eye," were insufferable. His voice was both full and clear; his lowest whisper was distinctly heard, his middle tones were sweet, rich, and beautifully varied; when he elevated his voice to its highest pitch, the house was completely filled with the volume of the sound. The effect was awful, except when he wished to cheer or animate; and then he had spirit-stirring notes, which were perfectly irresistible. He frequently rose, on a sudden, from a very low to a very high key, but it seemed to be without effort. His diction was remarkably simple, but words were never chosen with greater care. He mentioned to a friend of the Reminiscent, that he had read twice, from beginning to end, Bailey's Dictionary, and that he had perused some of Dr. Barrow's Sermons so often, as to know them by heart.
His sentiments, too, were apparently simple; but sentiments were never adopted or uttered with greater skill. He was often fa