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CONTINUATION OF THE LIFE OF LORD HARDWICKE TILL THE DEATH OF
I am sorry to be obliged to begin my account of Lord HardApril 27, wicke, as Chancellor, by reprobating that conduct
which his indiscriminate admirers have justified, and which some moderate men have attempted to palliate.
I have related how Lord Chancellor Talbot, from his admiration of the genius of Thomson the poet, and from personal kindness for him, had rescued him from the penury
and dependence, then the fate of men of letters, by appointing him
Secretary to the Briefs.” This was an office in the Court of Chancery which, in strictness, was held only under the Chancellor making the appointment, but the holder of which was generally continued in it by the succeeding Chancellor. Of all the cases ever known, Thomson's is the one where it might have been expected that the usage of confirmation would have been most eagerly adhered to." The author of The Seasons was not only a man of genius and most amiable in his private character, but he was warmly attached to the Whig party, and had essentially promoted its interests by his writings. He had received the office, on which he was entirely dependent, from the colleague and personal friend of the present Chancellor, as a reward for his public services, as well as for his attachment to young Talbot, with whom he had travelled, and to whose memory he had offered a touching tribute of applause.
I give the most mitigated account I can find of the affairin the words of Dr. Johnson,—who disliked Thomson, as a Scotsman, as a Whig, and as the author of “ LIBERTY,” and was willing to cast blame in this affair upon him, rather than
n There are several such offices held under re-appointed in 1835, I intimated that such the Attorney-General. When I was first applications were unnecessary; and my sucappointed to that office in 1834, I had the cessors, Sir Frederick Pollock, Sir William usual applications to be continued in them, Follett, and Sir Frederick Thesiger, have bewhich of course were granted. When I was haved in the same spirit.
HIS UNGENEROUS CONDUCT TO THOMSON.
upon the Chancellor. After stating the poet's appointment to his office by Lord Talbot, he thus proceeds :-" Thomson now lived in ease and plenty, and seems for a while to have suspended his poetry; but he was soon called back to labour by the death of the Chancellor, for his place then became vacant; and though Lord Hardwicke delayed for some time to give it away, Thomson's bashfulness or pride, or some other motive, perhaps not more laudable, withheld him from soliciting; and the new Chancellor would not give him what he would not ask. He now relapsed to his former indigence ; but the Prince of Wales was at that time struggling for popularity, and, by the influence of Mr. Lyttelton, professed himself the patron of wit; to him Thomson was introduced, and being gaily interrogated about the state of his affairs, said, “that they were in a more poetical posture than formerly,' and had a pension allowed him of one hundred pounds a year.
We cannot without indignation think of a man in Lord Hardwicke’s situation seeking to subject Thomson to the humiliation of asking a favour, when it might naturally have been expected that his continuance in the office of secretary would have been spontaneously and earnestly pressed upon him. Even Mr. Salkeld's “gratis clerk” had shown some degree of pride, and disliked carrying home cabbages from Covent Garden, and oysters from the fishmonger's! An attempt has been made to praise Lord Hardwicke as a patron of literary merit, because he afterwards obtained a pension from the public purse for Mallet as a reward for his pamphlet against Admiral Byng; but, says a contemporary, "let it be recollected that the same man, on his succeeding Talbot as Lord Chancellor, deprived Thomson, a poet and patriot of the first class, of the place of Secretary of Briefs, which had been given him by his predecessor, and was the poor poet's only subsistence and support." Although Lord Hardwicke always took cạre not only to have the law on his side, and was generally solicitous to have something plausible to say in his own defence, should his conduct be questioned,—it must be confessed that he was not only rather selfish, but that, from heartlessness, he even lost opportunities of doing acts which would have been considered generous, and which would have given him popularity--without depriving him of money, or of any family aggrandisement.
P Cooksey, 36.
• Dr. Johnson's Life of Thomson.
We are now to see him in his glory as an Equity Judge. Although he by no means distinguished himself in framing laws to be enacted by Parliament-viewed as a magistrate sitting on his tribunal to administer justice, I believe that his fame has not been exceeded by that of any man in ancient or modern times; and the long series of enlightened rules laid down by him having, from their wisdom, been recognised as binding on all who have succeeded him, he
be considered a great legislator. His decisions have been, and ever will continue to be, appealed to as fixing the limits, and establishing the principles, of that vast juridical system called EQUITY, which now, not only in this country and in our colonies, but over the whole extent of the United States of America, regulates property and personal rights more than the ancient COMMON LAW.
The student, animated by a generous ambition, will be eager to know whence this great excellence arose ?-Like every thing else that is valuable-it was the result of earnest and persevering labour. A complete knowledge of the common-law was the foundation on which he built. This he had gained not only by reading but by circuit experience, by continuing frequently to plead causes in the King's Bench and Exchequer while he was Attorney-General, and by presiding above three years in a common-law court. Having been initiated in Chancery practice during his clerkship with Mr. Salkeld, he had read attentively every thing to be found in the books connected with equity, and he had actually been a regular practitioner in Chancery during the whole of the Chancellorships of Lord Macclesfield and Lord King. He now revived his recollection of that learning by again going over the whole of it as if it had been new to him; and he obtained MS. notes of such of Lord Talbot's decisions as were of any importance, so that in all branches of professional information he was equal, and in many superior, to the most
eminent counsel who were to plead before him. But
that to which I mainly ascribe the brilliancy of the career on which he was entering, was the familiar knowledge he acquired of the Roman civil law. The taste for this study he is said to have contracted from the necessity of preparing himself first to argue as an advocate, and then to decide, as a judge, appeals to the House of Lords from the Court of Session in Scotland. In that country he found the Roman civil law regulating the enjoyment and succession of personal property,
d.D. 1737 1756.
A.D. 1737-56. HIS KNOWLEDGE OF ROMAN CIVIL LAW.
and even frequently alluded to by way of illustration in questions respecting entails. Like most English lawyers, in preparing for the bar, he had hardly paid the slightest attention to it. While Attorney-General he was retained in many Scotch appeals, and for the occasion he was obliged to dip into the Pandects and into the commentaries upon them; but although he had the discernment to discover the merit of these admirable compilations, it was not indispensably necessary for the discharge of his duty that he should examine them systematically, and his time was filled up with more urgent occupations. Now that he was to sit in the House of Lords as sole Judge to decide all appeals from Scotland, he saw the necessity of making himself a profound Scotch lawyer, and he found that this was impossible without being a good civilian. Therefore, having gone through Mackenzie, Bankton, and Stair,9 he regularly proceeded to the Corpus Juris Civilis with Vinnius, Voet, and other commentators, and his mind was thoroughly imbued with the truly equitable maxims of this noble jurisprudence. I delight in recording how his unrivalled eminence as an Equity Judge was achieved,
- lest the aspiring but careless student should think it could be reached by natural genius and occasional exertion :
Lord Hardwicke, having bestowed unremitting pains in qualifying himself for the discharge of his high duties,—when occupying the judgment-seat exhibited a pattern of all judicial excellence. Spotless purity-not only an abstinence from bribery and corruption, but freedom from undue influence, and a hearty desire to do justice--may at that time, and ever
9 He took special delight in “ Dirleton's and the said bank note enclosed therein by Doubts,” saying, “his doubts are more valu. him, through ignorance, and not from any able than other people's certainties."
ill.intent whatsoever." Upon his paying all * One attempt was made to bribe Lord expenses, and consenting that the 201. should Hardwicke. Thomas Martin, mayor of Yar- be distributed among the poor prisoners in mouth, being threatened with a bill in Chan the Fleet, the order was discharged.-27th cery, wrote a letter to the Lord Chancellor April, 1748. Sanders's Orders, ii. 628.bespeaking his favour, and enclosing a bank Lord Sidmouth prosecuted in the King's note for 201., of which his acceptance was Bench, for an offer to bribe him, a simpleton requested “for his trouble in reading the who, when the criminal information came papers." An order being made upon his down, joyfully showed it to his family and worship, to show cause why he should not his friends, believing that it was the patent be committed to the Fleet for his contempt, for the office he wished to purchase. he swore " that the said letter was wrote, VOL. VI.
afterwards, be considered as belonging to all English Judges. But I must specially mention of this Chancellor, that he was not only a patient but an eager listener, conscious that he could best learn the facts of the case from those who had been studying it, and that, notwithstanding his own great stores of professional learning, he might be instructed by a junior counsel, who for days and nights had been ransacking all that could be found scattered in the books on a particular topic, actuated by a desire to serve his client, and to enhance his own reputation. While the hearing was going on, the cause had the Chancellor's undivided and devoted attention. Not only was he undistracted by the frivolous engagements of common life, but during a political crisis, when there were to be important changes in the cabinet, when his own continuance in office was in peril, he was, as usual, calm and collected; and he seemed to think of nothing but whether the injunction should be continued or dissolved, and whether the bill should be dismissed with, or without, costs? Some said that he was at times acting a part, and that he was considering how he should conduct a political intrigue, or how he should answer an opponent in debate,-when he pretended to be listening to a thrice-told tale; but so much is certain, that no argument ever escaped him, and that, in taking notes, it was observed that “his pen always moved at the right time.” He used to declare, that“ he did not take his place upon the bench to write letters to his correspondents, or to read the newspaper.'
His voluminous note books are still extant, containing, at great length, the material proceedings of the Court during each day,--the statement of the case, the evidence, and the arguments of counsel, -with the answers to be given to them enclosed within brackets. When he took time to consider, he generally wrote his judgments either in his note books or on separate papers, to which his note books refer. Unlike some Judges, deservedly of high reputation, whose impression on hearing a case stated was never known to vary, he appears not unfrequently, upon further argument
s i. e. I presume, when anything was said of all the facts, and all the law, of every case worthy of being noted.
that came before bim. But I have seen a Judge ! I must say, that this last practice has indulge his curiosity by turning over the unoccasionally been carried to an indecorous and wieldy pages of the “Times," while a counsel inconvenient length. A glance at a news. has been opening, in a condensed manner, a paper may be permitted to a Judge during a very important and complicated case--requirtedious reply, as a hint to the counsel against ing the closest attention of a Judge, however prolixity; and such was the habit of Lord quick, learned, and discriminating. Mansfield, who was ever completely master