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attempt to render proceedings in the Court of Chancery cheaper or more expeditious, or to improve any of our institutions, no peculiar blame is to be imputed to him, for he lived at a time where the system of optimism, graced by the inimitable Commentaries of Blackstone, prevailed in Westminster Hall, and half a century elapsed before it was doubted that appearance to a subpæna in Chancery must necessarily be enforced by a commission of rebellion—that by the eternal constitution of things, Common Law actions must be commenced by latitat, capias, or quo minus,—or that fraud and trifling violations of property must be checked by the multiplication of capital punishments.
Lord Northington is said to have kept up his acquaintance with the Greek and Latin classics, and to have shown some acquaintance with Hebrew. He was singularly unskilled in the composition of English. Indeed, I can discover in him no love of literature, and I should conjecture that when he had got through his offieial labours he devoted himself to convivial enjoyment or the common gossip of vulgar life. He not only never aimed at authorship, but I do not find that, like Camden, Thurlow, or Wedderburn, he associated with literary men or with artists.
His great delight was to find himself in a circle of lawyers, or common-place politicians, and to indulge in boisterous mirth and coarse jocularity. He seems himself to have possessed a rich fund of humour. Many of his sayings and stories used to be repeated by young students, when
'Twas merry in the ball,
And beards wagged all, but would not be found suited to the more refined taste of the present age.
He likewise indulged in a bad habit which seems to have been formerly very general, and which I recollect when it was expiring - of interlarding conversation with oaths and imprecations as intensitives — even without any anger or excitement.
But in spite of these faults into which he was led by the fashion of the times, he was a strictly moral, and even a religious man. He continued to live on terms of the utmost
. I cannot even relate his compliment to the capucity of Lady Northington, or to the bright eyes of his daughter, Lady Bridget.
affection and harmony with his wife, and he composed two beautiful prayers for her use - one soon after their marriage, and the other on the birth of their second child — proofs of his piety and tenderness, which she regarded with enthusiasm, till the last hour of her existence. In all the domestic Amiable in
domestic relations he deserves high commendation. He was parti- life. cularly attached to his daughter - Lady Bridget, who, with the most perfect feminine delicacy, inherited his powers of humour, and was celebrated for sprightliness of repartee, as well as for her beauty. She was in the habit of reading for her father, and it is said that she could even extract amusement for the gay society in which she mixed, out of bills, answers, and affidavits; but this must have been in ridiculing the proceedings of the Court, and all concerned with them.
Lord Northington, in his person, was a remarkably hand- His person. some man-of the middle size—rather thin—but till crippled by the gout, very active and athletic. His portrait, by Hudson, gives him a very agreeable expression of countenance, and represents him, when on the woolsack, with a complexion still fresh and rosy, instead of being, like most of those who have reached this painful elevation, of the colour of the parchment they have pored upon - or like Mr. Surrebutter's, in the Pleader's Guide, with
“ A certain tinge of copper
Quite professional and proper.'
his wife His de
, having brought him eight children, three sons and five daugh- scendants. ters. Only one son survived him, Robert, the second Earl, who was at an early age elected one of the members for Hampshire, and continued to represent that county till his father's death. He was a great personal friend and political associate of Charles James Fox, and when the coalition ministry was formed in 1783, he was sent as Lord Lieutenant to Ireland, with Mr. Wyndham for Secretary. He is said to have been likely to have succeeded well in this post from the frankness and popularity of his manners, as well as his good
. Pleader's Guide, Part I. Lecture vi.
sense and firmness, but he was soon removed from it by the ascendency of the younger Pitt. * He afterwards died at Paris, on his return from Italy, in July, 1786, and having never been married, the title became extinct.
The daughters all formed high alliances, but they all died without issue, except Lady Elizabeth, married to the eminent diplomatist, Sir Morton Eden, afterwards raised to the Irish peerage by the title of Lord Henley,— whose son, my most valued friend, was the editor of Lord Northington's judgments, and who, having married a lady adorned with every grace and virtue, the sister of Sir Robert Peel, left by her a son, the present Lord Henley, — the representative of his great-grandfather, the Lord Chancellor.
His present repre
• Preface to Eden's “ Reports,” xxix. Henley's “Life of Lord Northington," 62–64.
† The epitaph says, that "he was nominated in MDCCLXXXIV to the arduous and distinguished station of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland : where, in times very difficult, he manifested such talents, assiduity, and firmness, as conciliated the love and respect of the nation over which he presided, and gained him the approbation and esteem of his sovereign and his country.”
LIFE OF LORD CHANCELLOR CAMDEN FROM HIS BIRTH TILL THE
DEATH OF 'GEORGE II.
I now enter on a most pleasing task. The subject of the following memoir was one of the brightest ornaments of my profession, and of my party, for I glory like him in the name of Whig, although, I hope, I have never been reluctant merits of to point out the errors of Whigs, or to praise Tory talent, Lord Camhonour, and consistency. From some of the opinions of Lord Camden I must differ, and I cannot always defend his conduct; but he was a profound jurist, and an enlightened statesman,- his character was stainless in public and in private life, - when raised to elevated station, he continued true to the principles which he had early avowed, - when transferred to the House of Peers, he enhanced his fame as an assertor of popular privileges, — when an Ex-chancellor, by a steady co-operation with his former political associates, he conferred greater benefits on his country, and had a still greater share of public admiration and esteem, than while he presided on the woolsack, – when the prejudices of the Sovereign and of the people of England produced civil war, his advice would have preserved the integrity of the empire — when America, by wanton oppression, was for ever lost to us, his efforts mainly contributed to the pacification with the new republic,- and Englishmen, to the latest generations, will honour his name for having secured personal freedom, by putring' andnd to arbitrary arrests under general warrants, for having established the constitutional rights of juries, and for having placed on an imperishable basis the liberty of the press.
Charles Pratt, afterwards Lord Chancellor and Earl Cam. His family, den, was descended from a respectable gentleman's family that had been long settled at Careswell Priory, near Collumpton, in Devonshire. The first distinguished member of it was
CHAP. his father, Sir John Pratt, who was an eminent barrister in CXLII.
the reigns of William III. and Queen Anne, -gained conLord Chief siderable reputation by supporting the Whigs in the House
of Commons as representative for Midhurst, - at the acPratt, his father. cession of George I. was appointed a puisne Judge of the
King's Bench, and in 1718 succeeded Lord Macclesfield as Chief Justice of that Court. The most famous decision in his time was respecting the right of a widow who had married a foreigner to claim parochial relief after his death from the parish in which she was born— thus reported in Sir James Burrow:
“ A woman having a settlement
Married a man with none,
If what she had was gone ?
Suspended did remain
It doth revive again."
6 but him dead,
He likewise drew upon himself a great share of public attention by the able manner in which he conducted the trial of the famous Christopher Layer for high treasont, and by his decided opinion in favour of George I. respecting the Sovereign's control over the education and marriage of his grandchildren. I
He was twice married, and had a very numerous family. Charles was the third son by the second wife, daughter of the Reverend Hugh Wilson, a canon of Bangor, and was born in the last year of the reign of Queen Anne. Of bis boyhood little is recorded, except that, from his quickness and love of reading, he was considered a lad of promise, and that, from his cheerful and affectionate temper, he was a great favourite among his companions.
When only ten years old, he had the misfortune to lose his father; but this was probably the remote cause of his future eminence. While he was studying the law, and
* Burr, Sett. Cas. ; Burn's Just. tit. “ Settlement."
15 St. Tr. 1195.
+ 16 St. Tr. 93.