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sacred flame once kindled would have smouldered, ready to burst out when freed from the load of Chancery precedents and official cares. But as he advanced in life he seems to have contracted a contempt for all liberal studies, and to have valued men only according to their rank, their riches, and their political influence. I find no trace of hie having the smallest intercourse or correspondence, except with lawyers, or the leaders of faction. He obtained a pension for Mallet (a man doing no honour to the country of his birth), under pretence of his literary celebrity, but, in reality, for writing a pamphlet when the nation was exasperated by the ill conduct and disasters of the war, to turn the public resentment and vengeance from the ministry upon Admiral Byng. Dr. Birch, well known as a scholar and historical collector, had been tutor to his sons, and had dedicated the " Thurloe State Papers" to the Lord Chancellor himself. One of his pupils, much attached to him, seeing him neglected and starving, thus ventured to address the great distributor of church patronage: — "From my own acquaintance with him I can only confirm the general character he bears of being a clergyman of great worth, industry and learning, subsisting at the mercy of booksellers and printers, without any preferment but a small living in the country, which will scarce keep a curate. He is a person of excellent heart as well as head, and by his diligence and general knowledge in most parts of learning, may be made extremely useful to the public." The reply was an offer of a living in Wales of 30/. a year, which Dr. Birch declined accepting. Lord Hardwicke thought it his duty to dispose of ecclesiastical preferments in his gift—with a view to increase his own political influence, — without any scrupulous regard for the interests of religion, and — without the slightest respect for scientific or literary merit.* He has had his reward. While Somers, Harcourt, and Murray are immortalised in the poems of Addison and Pope, Hardwicke was only praised by the dull authors of treatises on the practice of the Court of Chancery, or dull compilers of Chancery
* When he was actually going out of office, and jobbing in church preferment could be of no avail to him, he gave Dr. Birch a better living in the city of London.
Reports. With all his titles and all his wealth, how poor is Chap. his fame in comparison of that of his contemporary, Samuel' Johnson, whom he would not have received at his Sunday evening parties in Powis House, or invited to hear his stale stories at Wimple! A man desirous of solid fame would rather have written the "Rambler," the "Vanity of Human Wishes," "Rasselas," or " the Lives of the Poets," than have delivered all Lord Hardwicke's speeches in parliament, and all his judgments in the Court of Chancery, although the Author had been sometimes obliged to pass the night on the ashes of a glasshouse, and at last thought himself passing rich with his 300/. pension—while the Peer lived in splendour, and died worth a million.*
Beyond his efforts in English prose composition, which I His letter have already mentioned, I am not aware of any thing from Kames. Lord Hardwicke's pen, except his celebrated letter to Lord Karnes. That profound jurist and philosopher, about to publish his treatise on "Equity," sent the "Introduction," explaining his general views on the subject in MS., to the great Ex-chancellor, whose fame was, if possible, higher in Scotland than in his own country. Lord Hardwicke's answer is a very masterly performance f, and shows that he might have left some permanent monument of his fame to have placed him in the same category as Sir Thomas More, Lord Bacon, and Lord Clarendon, — great English Judges, who enriched the literature of their country. He not only gives an admirable sketch of the origin of Equity Jurisdiction in England, but enters deeply into the general principles on which the essential distinction between Law and Equity rests, and on which they are respectively to be administered. Unlike mere Chancery practitioners, whom favour or accident has elevated to high judicial office, and
• It is whimsical enough that Johnson himself for a moment wished that, instead of being at the head of English literature, he had been a " law Lord." But at other times he showed a consciousness of his own superiority to Chancellors and Peers: "It is wonderful, Sir, with how little real superiority of mind men can make an eminent figure in public life." '— Hardwicke is to Johnson as the most interesting Life that could be written of Hardwicke is to Boswell's " Life of Johnson," — the proportion of a farthing candle to the meridian sun.
f June 30. 1759. Lord Woodhouselee's " Life of Lord Kames," i. 237.
'Bos. iv. 191.
who, religiously persuaded that Chancery practice is the perfection of human wisdom *, sincerely and strongly think that whatever differs from it must be absurd and mischievous,—while he contends, like Lord Bacon f, that the administration of law and equity should be committed not to the same court, as in Scotland, but to separate courts, as in England,—he liberally admits that there are partial advantages and inconveniencies belonging to both systems, and that there is ground for considerable difference of opinion upon their rival pretensions. He afterwards discusses, in a most luminous manner, the important question, how far in the Praetorian jurisdiction the conscience of the Judge, or arbitrium boni viri, is to be controlled,—and beautifully shows the advantage of general rules in restraining caprice as well as corruption, and in letting the world know how civil rights are defined and will be adjudicated. Whether a Lord Hardwicke has been held up by some of his inju
good classi- m m r «>"
cal scholar? dicious flatterers as a great classical scholar, and we are referred to a letter which he wrote in the year 1724, "Samueli Clerico," in which he asks the learned Dr. Samuel Clerk to revise an epitaph composed on one of the Bradford family to whom he was related by marriage in consequence of a request "a Cocceio uxoris meae germano, tibi bene noto."J But there is nothing in this letter beyond what could be accomplished by a lad who had been at an ordinary grammar school; and Lord Hardwicke must be cited as an instance of success—not in consequence of a finished education, but in spite of a very defective one. By the anxiety with which he gave his own sons the benefit of accademical discipline,
* Once, in a conversation I had with a very eminent counsel at trie Chancery bar, who wore a silk gown, respecting the effect of " notice to a purchaser of an unregistered deed," I opposed his opinion by citing a decision in point of Chancellor d'Agesseau. "Ah !" said he gravely, "but had the French Lord Chancellor called in the assistance of the French Master of the Rolls?" This reminded me of the English tar, who, returning home from a French prison, said to bis companion, "Jack, what rum'ns 'em 'ere Frenchmen be! Do you know, Jack, that they call a horse a Shuvel, and a hat a Chofper?"
t "Apud nonnullos receptum est, et jurisdictio, qua: decernit secundum a;quum et bonum, atque ilia altera qua; procedit secundum jus strictum, iisdem curiis deputentur; apud alios autem, ut diversis: omnino placet curiarum separatio. Neque enim servabitur distinctio casuum, si fiat commixtio jurisdictionum; sed arbitrium legem tandem trahet."—Dt Aug. L. viii. c. 3. aph. 45.
i Birch's MSS. Brit. Mus.
he showed the consciousness he felt of the unequal fight he Chap. had fought from the want of it. cxxxvn.
There is extant one specimen of his poetical composition, Jj^ poetrV. which will perhaps be considered as justifying him in for ever renouncing the Muses, and trusting his reputation with posterity to Aik. and Ves. Sen. Lord Lyttleton had written a copy of verses, addressed to the Countess of Egremont, entitled "Virtue and Fame," supposed to be a Dialogue between these two ladies, in which Virtue, after drawing the character of the best of wives and mothers, concludes by getting Fame right, who thought this must be the wife of a country parson,
"Who never saw the court nor town,
Addition extempore, by Lord Chancellor Hardaicke.
"Fame heard with pleasure — straight replied,
I am sorry that neither from print nor the tradition of No perWestminster Hall can I collect any personal aneedotes or dotes of noted sayings of Lord Hardwicke to enliven my dull nar- mm. rative of his Life. * I suspect that, unlike his immediate successor, studying his dignity very uniformly, and always very observant of decorum, he added little to the "ana" of his age. We must not look for the workings of his genius
* There is one story related of him worth mentioning, which shows that he followed the precedent of Lord Chancellor Cowper in being civil to the House of Cromwell. There being a suit beard before him in which Oliver's grandson was a party, while the opposite counsel was very irrelevantly and improperly inveighing against the memory of the Protector, the Lord Chancellor said, "I-observe Mr. Cromwell standing outside the bar there .inconveniently pressed by the crowd; make way for him, that he may sit by me on the bench." It is needless to add, that the representative of the family being so noticed, the orator felt rebuked, and changed his tone.
in Joe Miller, but exclusively in the Parliamentary History and the Chancery Reports.
I have now only to state that "he was one of the handsomest men of his time, and bestowed great attention to his appearance and dress." There were reports circulated of
his gallantries with a Lady B , and with the celebrated
Mrs. Wells; but for these there was as little foundation as for his conjectured intimacy with Fanny Murray and Kitty Fisher. He was a perfect pattern not only of temperance and sobriety, but also of conjugal fidelity.
Before proceeding to speak of his wife and his descendants, I will further assist the reader to come to a right judgment upon his merits and defects, by presenting characters of him as drawn by three eminent contemporaries who knew him well; the first being his greatest vituperator, the second his most indiscriminate eulogist, and the third speaking of him, I think, in the words of impartiality and truth. Says Horace Walpole: "He was a creature of the Duke of Newcastle, and by him introduced to Sir Robert Walpole, who contributed to his grandeur and baseness, in giving him an opportunity of displaying the extent of the latter, by raising him to the height of the former. He had good parts, which he laid out so entirely upon the law in the first part of his life, that they were of little use to him afterwards, when he would have applied them to more general views. On his promotion, he flung himself into politics, but, as he had no knowledge of foreign aflairs but what was whispered to him by Newcastle, he made a poor figure. In the House of Lords he was laughed at, — in the cabinet despised."
On the other hand, he is extravagantly praised by another Honourable,—Danes Barrington,—who considers him above all human failing: "There is not a report of a single decision of Lord Bacon; some few indeed (and those unimportant ones) by Lord Nottingham: we have hardly a determination of consequence by the great Lord Somers: and though he was succeeded by lawyers of ability and eminence, yet it may be said that we owe the present beneficial and rational system of equity to the peculiar national felicity of the greatest lawyer and statesman of this or, perhaps, any other