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nington, at Encombe, and Lord Eldon suffering under some disease, which is not named, but, which was pronounced fatal. In March 1837 he announced by letter to each member of the family the separation between Mr. Bankes and Lady Frances. In June he had a small family party to celebrate his birthday, and his cheerful manner and pleasant conversation was noticed by his friends. He spent the autumn of the year 1837 partly at Encombe and partly in another journey to the North, Mr. Pennington describing him as never more cheerful or more abundant in anecdote and other pleasant conversation. In November he went to the House of Lords, and paid personally a handsome compliment to Lord Cottenham, on the high reputation he had acquired in his office. From this time his strength rapidly decayed—he was affected by the cold of the severe winter that was then commencing; and, after being confined for some days to his room and bed, he expired in the afternoon of January 13th, at a quarter past four. On the 26th he was buried in the chapel of Kingston, near Encombe.
The biographer, at the conclusion of his narrative, has added the testimonials given by the highest authorities of the law to Lord Eldon's qualifications for the station he held ; testimonials coming not from personal friends but from those opposed to him, and that constantly and conscientiously in political life and general policy, from Sir Samuel Romilly, from Lord Brougham;—he also has given much information worthy of attention on the one accusation which alone seemed to be justly founded, viz. his delay in giving judgment. We must, however, on these points refer to the work itself, and must content ourselves with recording in these pages the opinion of an eminent civilian and well-known writer, who was well acquainted with Lord Eldon's acquirements and the practice of his Court.
“In profound, extensive, and accurate knowledge of the principles of his court,” says Mr. C. Butler, “and the rules of practice which regulate its proceedings, in complete recollection and just appreciation of former decisions,—in discerning the inferences to be justly drawn from them,-in the power of instantaneously applying this immense theoretical and practical knowledge to the business
ceiving almost with intuitive readiness,
immediately before the court, -in per
When Lord Eldon read this just and handsome eulogy by one who had knowledge to estimate his merits correctly, and taste to describe them elegantly, he observed to him, “I have ventured to think that my life exhibits a remarkable proof of what may be done in a free country by moderate talents and never-ceasing industry; but I never presumed to think that I had the merits you have pleased to think it good to ascribe to me. I have feit more consolation than I can express in reading in a part of your work what a considerable person * stated in answer to the imputation of being
* This passage, as it is the declaration of one eminent man which applies to another, we give. . When his son, toid him that the public accused him of dilatoriness, he answered, “My child, when you shall have read what I have read, seen what I have seen, and heard what I have heard, you will feel that if, on any subject, you know much there may be also much that you do not know ; and that something even of what you know may not, at the moment, be in your recollection :-you will then too be sensible of the mischievous and often ruinous consequences of even a small error
ion, Tathas been on and I admit alwijaccuse me of it, I wish to give as m to, &c. We shall only add one Possage more as being the result of a professionalrather 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.”f vising his decisions we should remember
most fairly imputed to me; to y answer the passage I allude
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 senate, 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 had Cicero as their friend; and, as Seneca truly observes of another person still more generally known, “Nomen Attici perire Ciceronis epistolae
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.
t_See Law Magazine, No. XVII, p. 351.
GENT, MAG, Wol, XXIII, D
mon sinănt. Nihil illi profuisset gener Agrippa, et Tiberius progener, et Drusus pronepos; inter tam magna nomina taceretur, nisi Cicero illum
applicuisset.” v. Senec. Ep. 21.
SIR. W. GRANT.
“Of the judges presiding over any of the courts of equitable jurisdiction in the chancellorship of Lord Eldon the only one at all comparable to him in the administration of equity was Sir William Grant, the Master of the Rolls, who retired in the Christmas vacation of 1817. He had not enjoyed an extensive practice at the bar, but, Mr. Pitt wisely deeming that consideration a secondary one in the case of a person possessing such capacity and such acquirements, selected him, in 1799, for Solicitor-General. After discharging with an unsurpassed credit the legal as well as the parliamentary duties of his office, he was advanced, in 1801, to the dignity of Master of the Rolls. He came to the bench without the benefit of that experience in matters of court-practice which not unfrequently forms the main stock in trade of inferior advocates. But his care and industry soon supplied that one deficiency, and there was then nothing left to be desired. If he did not possess the almost intuitive perception and universal range of legal learning by which Lord Eldon as soon as the facts were before him saw their whole relation and result in connection with all the law which bore upon them, yet Sir William Grant was profound in the great principles of our equitable jurisprudence, and had, like Lord Eldon and Lord Lyndhurst, the rare and high power of holding his mind until the very close of all the arguments, unbiassed for or against any view of the case, or any party in it, and open to any light from whatever quarter. Availing himself of these faculties, he maintained on the bench an almost unbroken reserve, and, except when explanation of some fact was wanting, forbore from any interruption of counsel, either by question or observation; insomuch that, among the junior wits of the law, he bore the technical appellation of ‘equity reserved.” His closeness, however, savoured nothing of incivility, and he enjoyed in the fullest degree from the bar the respect and regard ever paid by that justly jealous body to those judges, but to those alone, who duly observe the reciprocal courtesies of their station. His judgments were models of judicial composition, and the Master of the Rolls had no more earnest admirer than the Lord Chancellor. Sir William Grant for many
years after his elevation to the bench retained his seat in the House of Commons. He spoke there seldom, but always with great impression, from the vigorous plainness of his style, and that great faculty of giving effect to argument which was aptly termed in him “the genius of common sense.’”*
Lord GIF Ford.
“In looking round at the close of the preceding year for assistance in the judicial business of the House of Lords the government had turned its attention to the qualifications of the Attorney-General, Sir Robert Gifford. He was a lawyer of good abilities and of still better fortune. He had early distinguished himself in the Court of King's Bench by a terse way of putting his points, and had become a favourite with the judges, if not by any great grasp of mind or depth of knowledge, yet, by the succinctness of his arguments, the readiness of his apprehension, and the respectfulness of his demeanour. For the technical part of his profession his neat mind was remarkably well qualified; and, having succeeded in little things, he was thought likely to suffice for greater. He was, therefore, at the early age of about forty, very strongly recommended by several of the common-law judges for the office of Solicitor-General, and obtained it accordingly. In the House of Commons, as he attempted nothing, he can hardly be said to have failed. Quitting the courts of common law, to which he had been bred, he started as a leader in the Court of Chancery, in the business whereof it was apprehended that his acquaintance with the law of real, that is, landed, property, would give him some advantage. He, however, had but little to do there, and gained no accession of fame from his manner of doing it. Succeeding to the office of Attorney-General, he was, of course, entrusted with the conduct of the Queen's trial; and he discharged the important duty of opening that great issue, just as might have been expected from a lawyer who was in no wise a man of the world, and who knew little, if any thing, of the class of judges he was there addressing, or of the popular influences then beginning to work on the humours and the fears of the legislature. He however acquired some insight into
* See some judicious observations on Sir W. Grant's style of parliamentary oratory * 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.
in the Memoirs of Mr. Horner.—Rev.
these matters in the course of the trial, and acquitted himself with ability in his reply. At the close of 1823 the resignation of Sir Robert Dallas having made a vacancy in the Chief Justiceship of the Common Pleas, Sir Robert Gifford was promoted to that office with a peerage; and, in the spring of 1824, he was transferred from the Common Pleas to the Rolls, as the successor of Sir Thomas Plumer. The appointment was not satisfactory to the Chancery bar; and their disfavour, joined to his own want of early experience in equity practice, made the Rolls Court somewhat difficult and uncomfortable to him. He took great pains, however, and, being naturally quick to learn, he would, probably, had he lived for a few years, have surmounted many of his disadvantages; although in almost everything he did there was visible a constraint which seemed to result from fear of getting beyond his depth, and unwillingness that this depth should be too accurately sounded. It was in the judicial business of the House of Lords where the jurisdiction is merely appellate, and where points, therefore, can seldom arise on the sudden, that he was seen to the greatest advantage. In the disposal of the Scotch appeals, more especially, he gave much satisfaction, and was of material use in enabling Lord Eldon to devote a greater portion of his time to the duties of the Court of Chancery,” &c.
LoRD Stow ELL.
“Lord Stowell had the good fortune to live in an age of which the events and circumstances were peculiarly qualified to exercise and exhibit the high faculties of his mind. The greatest maritime questions which had ever presented themselves for adjudication,-questions involving all the most important points both in the rights of belligerents and in those of neutrals, arose, in his time, out of that great war in which England became the sole occupant of the sea, and held at her girdle the keys of all the harbours of the globe. Of these questions, most of them of first impression, a large proportion could be determined only by a long and cautious process, of reference to principle, and induction from analogy. The genius of Lord Stowell, at once profound and expansive, vigorous and acute, impartial and decisive, penetrated, marshalled, and mastered all the difficulties of these complex inquiries; till, having “sounded all their
depths and shoals, he framed and laid down that great comprehensive chart of maritime law which has become the rule of his successors, and the admiration of the world. What he thus achieved in the wide field of international jurisprudence, he accomplished also with equal success in the narrower sphere of ecclesiastical, matrimonial, and testamentary law. And though where so many higher excellences stand forth that of style may seem comparatively immaterial, it is impossible not to notice that scholar-like finish * of his judicial compositions, by which they delight the taste of the critic, as by their learning and their logic they satisfy the understanding of the lawyer. Like Lord Eldon, he was more repelled by fears of change than attracted by hopes of improvement. On questions, therefore, which involved any kind of disturbance, whether legal, political, or ecclesiastical, his voice was almost always against the mover; or if he opposed not with his voice, as he was little given to parliamentary display, he resisted with a steady vote and an influence which, from his learning, his station, and his close connection and communion with the Chancellor was vastly potential. But he was not more stubborn in legislation than he was free and facile in society; he lived with all the best political and literary company, and to the latest period of his London life his presence was coveted at , all the most agreeable tables of the time, without distinction of party.”
“There are but few materials for estimating the judicial merits of Lord Erskine. In truth, his celebrity does not so naturally connect itself with the equity bench as with the common-law bar. When he came to the Court of Chancery he had not been very conversant with those particular departments of jurisprudence through which the science of equity is most easily approached; and he remained not long enough in that court to become familiar with all its principles. His decisions, therefore, are, perhaps, of less authority than that of some judges, much his inferiors both in strength of understanding and in reach of thought, but more versed in the doctrine and practice of equitable jurisprudence. His fame, however, may well afford to waive any claim upon the short annals of his chancellorship. For more than a quarter of a century he had been the foremost advocate in those courts which hold supreme jurisdiction of liberty and life : and the record which his corrected speeches have preserved of him, such as then he was, will best enable his successors and his country to appreciate, however hopeless it may be to equal, his earnest and brilliant eloquence, his logical reasoning, his exquisite tact, his instinctive quickness, his attaching courtesy, and his indomitable courage.”
SIR John LEACH.
“Mr. Leach, then a considerable leader in the Court of Chancery, received the honour of knighthood, and succeeded to the office of Vice-Chancellor. * * * This judge had a great desire to unite, with the distinction he had earned as a man of talents, the reputation also of a man of ton. Having mixed but little in his early days with the higher classes of society, for whose conversation, indeed, neither his original education nor his subsequent acquirements had very well adapted him, he made the mistake of supposing that a gentleman ought to have something artificial in demeanour and delivery ; and thus he contracted an affectation of manner, in which levity and primness was somewhat fantastically blended. The Prince of Wales, always a mice observer upon taste and manners, was particularly diverted with this foible in a man of Sir John Leach's station and abilities. The Anecdote Book relates the following story.
“It has long been the habit to give the Chancellor, carrying his purse, the nickname of ‘Bags.’ When Sir John Leach was Chancellor to the Prince, he also had a purse; and the Prince said, as Sir John was not so rough in his manners as a King's Chancellor usually was, but a much more polite person, he should call him “Reticule.” Some of his talents were
extraordinary, and had gained him a just distinction in Parliament as well as at the Bar. He delivered himself with great clearness and neatness of expression, and his judgments showed an extensive knowledge of the practice of his Court. He, however, trusted too much to his quickness, and sometimes suffered it to hurry him from his propriety. From the readiness with which he apprehended facts, the most numerous and complicated, he fancied that the same rapid glance had made him master of all their legal bearings too. The consequence was, that, jumping to his conclusions, he often heard with impatience the arguments at the Bar, and, when points were pertinaciously pressed, was not always courteous to Counsel.” If he would have suffered himself to suppose it possible that any conception of his own could be mistaken, he might have held a high place among the judges of our Courts of Equity; but, from his haste to dispose of the causes before him by breaking them down prematurely, his decisions have failed to obtain the full praise which perhaps they intrinsically deserve. Though his address was not agreeable, his disposition was friendly; and, in spite of some littlenesses, he was a high-spirited and firm man. There were no misgivings, no qualms in his courage; and severe afflictions of bodily disease, which more than once acquired the application of the knife, were borne by him with unflinching fortitude.”
“Mr. Perceval was inestimable to his party as a parliamentary leader; but he was not very generally regarded as meriting that character of “a great statesman,' which is thus claimed for him by the friendship of Lord Eldon. He did indeed possess many efficient talents and high faculties, and particularly and eminently
* 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.
Made a speech
On the other part