Abbildungen der Seite

horseback. Here is a pleasant picture of the time of Charles II. Roger North is the narrator, speaking of his brother the renowned Lord Guildford :-

"From Newcastle his route lay to Carlisle. The Northumberland sheriff gave us all arms —that is, a dagger, knife, penknife, and fork, all together. And, because the hideous road along the Tyne, for the many and sharp turnings, and perpetual precipices, was for a coach, not sustained by main force, impassable, his lordship was forced to take horse, and to ride most part of the way to Hexham. We were showed where coal mines burnt underground, but could discern nothing of it besides the deadness of all plants there. We were showed the Picts' Wall; but it appears only as a range or bank of stones, all overgrown with grass, not unlike the brink of the Devil's Ditch at Newmarket, only without any hollow, and nothing near so big. Here his lordship saw the true image of a Border country. The tenants of the several manors are bound to guard the judges through their precinct; and out of it they would not go-no, not an inch-to save the souls of them. They were a comical sort of people, riding upon nags, as they call their small horses, with basket-hilts hanging in broad belts, that their legs and swords almost touched the ground; and every one in his turn, with his short cloak and other equipages, came up cheek by jowl, and talked with my lord judge. His lordship was very well pleased with their discourse, for they were great antiquarians in their bounds." Vol. i. pp. 132, 133.

it had carried the impudent and unscrupulous young lawyer to every town on the western circuit. It can excite no surprise, though it reflects lasting infamy on the hero of the story, to learn that the delivery of the horse was accompanied with a note from Thurlow to the effect that "the animal, notwithstanding some good points, did not altogether suit him."

Lord Eldon was an exception, in the matter of horsemanship, to most of his brethren. He could neither ride nor

drive well.

"Even William Henry Scott, that pattern of an admiring and dutiful son, used to laugh at the great Chancellor's maladroitness in all matters pertaining to horse-flesh. With much glee and agreeable egotism, Lord Campbell tells the following story of Eldon and his favorite child:-'They were walking together in Piccadilly, when a gentleman, driving past them in a smart cabriolet (with a tiger behind), took off his hat and made a low bow. "Who is that?" said Lord Eldon, "who treats me with respect now I am nobody?" "Why, sir," said William Henry, "that is Sir John Campbell, the Whig Solicitor-General." "I wonder what they would have said of me," cried the ex-Chancellor, "if I had driven about in a cabriolet when I was Solicitor-General." "I will tell you what they would have said, dear father," replied William Henry, "they would have said, there goes the greatest lawyer and the worst whip

We over many most entertaining in England."'"-Vol. i. pp. 153, pass pages, in order to introduce one or two personal anecdotes relative to legal horsemen and horsemanship. When Thurlow began his legal career, he was at his wits end to procure a horse, without which he could not have gone on circuit, He had obtained his wig and other paraphernalia on "tick," but how was he to get credit from that peculiarly sharp specimen of British merchants, the horsedealer? By dint of impudence and cleverness he succeeded. Entering the yard of one of the species, he called in authoritative tones for "a very superior roadster." The price was no consideration. "Show me a horse that you can recommend, and if I like him after trial, I'll have him at your own price." The bold imperious manner of the young scamp imposed on the tradesman; a strong and serviceable hackney was saddled; the young barrister was mounted, and forthwith rode off on circuit to Winchester. Before the owner saw the steed again,


We have next many pleasant pictures of the domestic life of the lawyers in the days when the Inns of Court were residences as well as places of business. It is difficult for one of the present generation to people those dark and nar row passages, those sleepy courts, with the forms of women, and to hear the musical echo of childhood's laughter in those desolate abodes. But they were bright and happy homes for three centuries, and it is pleasant to think of the hard-worked barrister bringing his bride home to his "chambers," and receiving and returning the visits of friends liv ing in the same "Inn." There was the chamber of business, the parlor, perhaps a drawing-room, and "a trim compact little kitchen." There the elder children were born, and the dry studies of the pleader were relieved now and then by a good romp with master Tommy. The "hall" was at hand for his

dinner; the library supplied him with store of both professional and general reading; the church or chapel of his Inn furnished sittings for both himself and family; in the garden, calm secluded in ordinary days, he could stroll and meditate; and on "open days" could associate with courtiers and grand ladies from the west, or, if he pleased, with humbler folk, for at such times no decently dressed person was excluded. The weekly meeting of his club was held at a hotel hard by; and at night his drawing-room was the scene of many a happy reunion, where tea and chat, coffee and cards, and to crown all a substantial supper flanked with ale and porter, and followed by steaming punch, closed the day. Now we have changed all that. The barrister has his villa in the suburbs, greatly to the advantage, no doubt, in many ways, of his wife and family. But the removal of the ladies from the Inns of Court has not tended to increase their cheerfulness; and many hints in Mr. Jeaffreson's book indicate that these places are sadly altered for the worse.

"The loves of the lawyers!" Could any juxtaposition of words sound more incongruous? Who has not laughed at the sorry figure which Cupid cuts under cross-examination in a court of law? But depend upon it he has his revenge on the lawyers. You call that hardfeatured man, bristling with horsehair, and cruelly worrying the mischievous little god, a living mummy, do you? It may be so; but surely

"A heart has beat beneath that leathern breast, And tears adown that dusty cheek have rolled."

In truth Cupid has played as strange tricks with lawyers as with any of us. We have nothing to say for Jane Shore, and yet she had the sympathy and pity of her own time and of posterity, and what is more to the present purpose, she so won the heart of the then Solicitor-General, that in spite of her imprisonment as a convicted adulteress, he made her an offer of marriage, and was hardly prevented from making her his wife. Sir Thomas More was an eccentric lover. After vain endeavors to quench the tender passion, he married fair Jane Colt. But he had previously loved her younger sister, and selected

Jane because "it would be a grief and some blemish to the eldest to have the younger sister preferred before her," and so "out of a kind compassion," he "settled his fancy upon the eldest, and soon after married her." Having thus deliberately walked into love, rather than fallen into it, we are prepared to hear that his bearing toward his wife was extremely condescending and patronizing at all times. He exhorted her graciously and sympathized with her, directed her studies, gave "her doses of moral blackboard when she was naughty, and gladdened her heart with delicious praise when she was unusually good." And Jane seems to have been a very submissive and exemplary pupil. But, losing her early, the great chancellor was less fortunate in his second

choice. "Mistress Alice" was, in fact, somewhat of a vixen, and her "patient and scholarly husband" did by no means escape from her bitter and virulent tongue. When he fell under Henry's displeasure and was sent to the Tower, the poor woman went to see him, and the following characteristic dialogue. took place:

"What the goodyear, Mr. More! I marvel that you, who have been hitherto always taken for a wise man, will now so play the fool as to lie here in this close, filthy prison, and be content to be shut up thus with mice and rats, when you might be abroad at your liberty, with the favor and goodwill both of the king and his council, if you would but do as the bishops and best learned of this realm have done; and seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house, your library, your books, your gallery, and all other necessaries so handsome about you, where you might, in company with me, your wife, your children, and household, be merry, I muse what, in God's name, you mean, here thus fondly to tarry?' Having heard her out-preserving his good humor-he said to her with a cheerful countenance, I pray thee, good Mrs. Alice, tell me one thing.' 'What is it?' saith she. not this house as near Heaven as my own?"" -Vol. i. p. 227.


Our author devotes a chapter to the loves of the two great Elizabethan lawyers, Bacon and Coke. Both of them paid suit to Lord Burleigh's granddaughter, the widow of Sir William Hatton. Bacon was "blessed with failure," and Coke "cursed with success." She was an awful termagant. She was continu

ally quarrelling with her husband in private, and indeed the public were soon made spectators of their virulent and indecent bickerings. But probably we should not have had "Coke upon Littleton" if the great lawyer had been on better terms with his wife. More time with her would have involved less time at his desk, and posterity no doubt reaps the benefit of studies in which he found refuge from conjugal clamor. His rival married in two or three years Alice Barnham, "an alderman's daughter," and was every way more fortunate in his selection.

But we must hasten over this tempting subject. We cannot pass away from it, however, without referring, as evidence of the sound moral tone pervading the work, to the chapter on "Early Marriages." The moral is clearly drawn and forcibly stated in favor of such marriages, and is pointed by very apt and touching allusions to the married life of good old Lord Eldon and his inimitable "Bessie." How happy a contrast did their beautiful home-life present to the system which now prevails in the same circles of society, and which, to use our author's wise and warning words, "keeps apart young men and young gentlewomen, consigning the latter to cheerless celibacy, and condemning the former to one form of monastic asceticism, or something worse; whereas, by more sagacious arrangements, they might be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers-contented, prosperous, and hopeful." There is surely "something rotten in the state of Denmark," when a young couple are afraid to face the world as man and wife on the miserable pittance of five or six hundred a year. Under the head of Money" we have a good deal of curious and agreeable gossip about fees to counsel, general and special retainers, judicial corruption, gifts and sales, and judicial salaries. The incorruptibility of British judges in our days happily does not need to be proved, and the profession, as a whole, in spite of certain popular prejudices, enjoys an unimpeachable reputation. Some of our modern novelists have delighted to caricature bench, bar, and the lower grades of the law with an unsparing satire. But such sketches are grossly exaggerated. Time

[merged small][ocr errors]

"Less than twenty years since, in one of England's southern counties, two neighboring landed proprietors differed concerning their respective rights over some unenclosed land, and also about certain rights of fishing in an adjacent stream. The one proprietor was the richest baronet, the other the poorest squire of the county, and they agreed to settle their dispute by arbitration. A Master in Chancery, slightly known to both gentlemen, was invited to act as arbitrator, after inspecting the localities in dispute. The invitation was accepted, and the Master visited the scene of disagreement on the understanding that he should give up two days to the


It was arranged that on the first day he should walk over the squire's estate and hear the squire's uncontradicted version of the case, dining at the close of the day with both contendants at the squire's table; and that on the second day, having walked over the baronet's estate and heard without interruption the other side of the story, he should give his award, sitting over wine after dinner at the rich man's table. At the close of the first day the squire entertained his wealthy neighbor and the arbitrator at dinner. In accordance with the host's means, the dinner was modest but sufficient. It consisted of three fried soles, a roast leg of mutton, and vegetables, three pancakes, three pieces of cheese, three small loaves of bread, ale, and a bottle of sherry. On the removal of the viands, three magnificent apples, together with a magnum of port, were placed on the table by way of dessert. At the close of the second day the trio dined at the baronet's table, when it appeared that, struck by the simplicity of the previous day's dinner, and rightly attributing the absence of luxuries to the narrowness of the host's purse, the wealthy disputant had resolved not to attempt to influence the umpire by giving him a superior repast. Sitting at another table, the trio dined on exactly the same fare-three fried soles, a roast leg of mutton, and vegetables, three pancakes, three pieces of cheese, three small loaves of bread, ale, and a bottle of sherry; and for dessert, three magnificent apples, together with a magnum of port. The dinner being over, the apples devoured, and his eyes twinkling brightly as he spoke, introthe last glass of port drunk, the arbitrator, duced his award with the following exordium: Gentlemen, I have with all proper attention

[ocr errors]

considered your sole reasons, I have taken due notice of your joint reasons, and I have come to the conclusion that your des(s)erts are about equal.”—Vol. i. pp. 334, 335.

We have no space to speak of lawyers' millinery, but people curious in such matters will be instructed and entertained by our author's disclosures respecting wigs, bands and collars, bags, gowns, and hats. The same may be said of musical and theatrical lawyers. The legal gentlemen of Charles I.'s time carried amateur theatricals to a pretty pitch, especially after the publication of Prynne's famous Histriomastix. Indignant at his attack on the licentiousness of the stage, and on the "wanton levity" of play-goers, the members of the Inns of Court got up the most famous and costly masque ever heard of. The revels took place on Candlemas Day, 1633-4, and at short intervals similar follies were enacted in the presence of majesty, queen Henrietta herself sometimes dancing with the masquers, and judging "them as good dancers as she ever saw." Poor Prynne was occupied in "salving the stumps of his ears, which had been cropped by the executioner's knife." Long enough, however, has English sympathy gone with the glorious "cropear," and the masquers and their race are forgotten. By all accounts, the gentlemen of the robe often cut most ridiculous figures on these merrymaking days. But surely there never was any thing so absurd as the scene in the Inner Temple Hall, on occasion of Lord Chancellor Talbot's elevation to the woolsack in 1733-4. After dinner at two o'clock, the company witnessed the performance of Love for Love and The Devil to Pay, and on the withdrawal of the players, the judges, serjeants, benchers, and other dignitaries danced "round about the coal fire "—literally round an empty grate, without a bit of coal or a spark of fire in it. "And all the time of the dance the ancient song, accompanied by music, was sung by one Toby Aston, dressed in a bar-gown, whose father had formerly been Master of the Plea Office in the King's Bench." Verily these legal sages knew how to play the fool.

Mr. Jeaffreson thinks that there is on the whole a rooted though unreasonable distrust of political lawyers in both Houses of Parliament, but especially in

the House of Commons. There seems to be an impression when a lawyer rises to address the Speaker "that he is pleading for place." Many an honorable and able man has been coughed and hemmed down under this unfair and absurd suspicion. Lord Campbell will have it that the Upper House cherish no hostility to lawyers; but that depends on circumstances. They liked Eldon and Lyndhurst ; but Brougham, Erskine, and Westbury had scant courtesy from the hereditary legislators; and Thurlow was both feared and detested. He was fully capable, however, of asserting himself. When on one occasion the Duke of Grafton insolently taunted him with his plebeian origin, Thurlow fixed upon him his "terrible black eyes," surveyed him deliberately from head to foot, and, in a grand voice, said, "I am amazed." A fearful pause ensued, during which the unhappy duke shuddered at his own meanness and his antagonist's revenge; and then, in a louder tone, Thurlow

[merged small][ocr errors]

"Yes, my lords, I am amazed at his grace's speech. The noble duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble peer who owes his seat in this House to successful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honorable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident? To all these noble lords the language of the noble duke is as applicable and as insulting as it is to myself. But I don't fear to meet it single and alone. No one venerates the peerage more than I do; but, my lords, I must say that the peerage solicited me, not I the peerage. Nay more, I can and will say that, as a peer of Parliament, as Speaker of this right Seal, as Guardian of his Majesty's conscience, honorable House, as Keeper of the Great as Lord High Chancellor of England-nay, even in that character alone in which the noble duke would think it an affront to be considered, as a man-I am at this moment as respectable-I beg leave to add, I am at this moment as much respected-as the

proudest peer I now look down upon."-Vol. ii. pp. 122, 123.

No wonder that from the date of that speech, dukes, marquises, earls, and barons all agreed in keeping their hands off the terrible Chancellor.

We pass over the section on Legal Education, though, like all in this book, singularly entertaining and instructive, and address ourselves to that


"Mirth," in which are many fine specimens of forensic wit. From the days of Sir Thomas More downwards, "the profession" has contributed its full share of witticisms to the public entertainment. More himself was full of quiet humor, and endless good things uttered by him are in vogue. He conveyed this humor

with him to the block.

"Finding in the craziness of the scaffold a good pretext for leaning in friendly fashion on his jailor's arm, he extended his hand to Sir William Kingston, saying, 'Master Lieutenant, I pray you see me safe up; for my coming down, let me shift for myself!' Even to the headsman he gave a gentle pleasantry and a smile from the block itself, as he put aside his beard so that the keen blade should not touch it. "Wait, my good friend, till I have removed my beard,' he said, turning his eyes upward to the official, 'for it has never offended his highness!'"-Vol. ii. p. 199.

Hatton once uttered a capital pun:"In a case concerning the limits of certain land, the counsel on one side having remarked with explanatory emphasis, 'We lie on this side, my lord;' and the counsel on the other side having interposed with equal vehemence, 'We lie on this side, my lord,' the Lord Chancellor leaned backwards, and drily observed, 'If you lie on both sides, whom am I to believe?'"-Vol. ii. p. 204.

When Charles II. on one occasion said to Shaftesbury, "Shaftesbury, you are the most profligate man in my dominions," the Chancellor replied: "Of a subject, sir, I believe I am." By the way, Mr. Jeaffreson complains that many legal witticisms are "brutally personal and malignant;" and he gives us a choice specimen or two of the kind. Charles Yorke, calling on members of senate at Cambridge to thank them for supporting his election, thus addressed a don who was reputed to be the ugliest man in the University, "Sir, I have reason to be thankful to my friends in general; but I confess myself under particular obligation to you for the very remarkable countenance you have shown me on this occasion."

Thurlow was notorious for his overbearing insolence and rudeness, not only on the bench and in the House of Lords, but in general society. But he did not always come off victorious in his verbal contests. Mr. Jeaffreson relates the following story, of which, by the way,

many years ago we heard Abernethy quoted as the hero :—

street house one morning, the Chancellor was "On crossing the threshold of his Ormondincensed at seeing a load of paving-stones placed before his door. Singling out the tallest of a score of Irish workmen who were repairing the thoroughfare, he poured upon

him one of those torrents of curses with which his most insolent speeches were usually preluded, and then told the man to move away the stones instantly. 'Where shall I take them to, your honor?' the paver inquired. From the Chancellor another volley of abuse, ending with, 'You lousy scoundrel, take them to hell do you hear me?' 'Have a care, your honor,' answered the workman, with quiet drollery; 'don't you think, now, that if I took 'em to the other place your honor would be less likely to fall over them?'" Vol. ii. p. 211.

Under this head of "Mirth," we have some ghastly tales concerning "hanging judges." The English bench has occasionally been disgraced by men who seemed to take a savage delight in dooming their fellow-creatures to death. One of these, Sir Francis Page, flourished at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and was remarkable for his virulence and cruelty. and cruelty. He lived to be eighty years old, and for a long period enjoyed an infamous notoriety. In his last year of life and office, he is said to have re plied to an inquiry concerning his health,


My dear sir, you see how it fares with me; I just manage to keep hanging on-hanging on." Pleasantly contrasting with this heartless cynicism is the story of Lord Kenyon, who was by no means remarkable for tenderness of heart in general. Upon one occasion, when he saw a woman drop senseless in the dock on hearing him sentence her to death for stealing property to the value of forty shillings from a dwelling, he sprang to his feet, and screamed, in a shrill tone, "I don't mean to hang you do you hear? Don't you hear? Good

! will nobody tell her that I don't mean to hang her?" Let us be thankful, not only for the milder spirit of modern criminal jurisprudence, but for the gentle character of our judges, few of whom can now pass sentence of death even for murder without being disturbed by uncontrollable emotion.

Our author gives us a few good stories illustrative of wit-encounters between

« ZurückWeiter »