« ПредишнаНапред »
told them, he was not apprized by the warrant either of their grounds for prosecuting, or of the reasons which had induced them to he more lenient; that he could not, therefore, act blindfolded, but that, as it happened he had a very accurate knowledge of their ground for prosecuting, because it was impressed upon them by him that the defendant had since been convicted, by two verdicts, of a dangerous fraud on the Government; that he could not therefore, in conscience, give to such a convict the charter of impunity which they had prompted. He took the opportunity of reminding them, with spirit and with dignity, that he was answerable to the public, as well as to his conscience, for the due execution of a judicial trust imposed upon him by his patent. The Board, at 6rst enraged, had the good sense and the manliness, after cool reflection, to confess themselves in the wrong, and to reclaim the letter, so that it should not appear against them."
"When Lord Ferrers was tried, in Westminster Hall, before his peers, for murder, Mr. Pratt's luminous and pertinent manner of stating the material facts were so distinguished, that I heard many excellent judges of legal eloquence call that work (for it is in print, as he delivered it,) a masterpiece of its kind. His cross-examination upon the topic of insanity was judicious, acute, and impressive. I remember the effect, as it were yesterday, when he said, . Had the noble prisoner at the bar a power of distinguishing, as a moral agent, between right and wrong, or was he ignorant, in your opinion, that murder was an offence to God as well as man?'
"His talents, however, as an advocate, brilliant as they were of their kind, in the Court of Chancery, at the Board of Privy Council, and in appeals to the House of Lords, fell very short of those for which he was reserved upon the Bench, and which he had soon the opportunity of displaying, for the public advantage, in a degree which no time can obliterate."
"He has often told me, that in the Court of Chancery multitudes would flock to hear Lord Hardwicke as to hear Garrick; that his clearness of arrangement and comprehension of the subject were masterly, but that his address (and he laid emphasis upon the word), in the turn which he gave to all, whether he was in the right, or was to 'make the worse appear the better reason,' was like magic.
"I never heard Lord Camden speak of Lord Mansfield in terms of asperity, or without a general praise of his wonderful talents."
"In a few months after the King's death, Lord Bute superseded the the Attorney General in that office, and raised him against his will, but it was Hobson's choice, to a vacant seat on the bench as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. I have heard him say that he paused again and again, before he accepted this judicial office, though it was intimated that he was, at all events, to be no longer Attorney-General. It was happy for the public, and for him, that he was over-persuaded by his friends to become a judicial man. Lord Bute had no good will to him in this arrangement. He was no friend of the Whigs, or of such an Attorney General. His object was (and it was, apparently, no improvident calculation) to lay him upon the shelf for the remainder of his life. The new Chief Justice marked at once the philosophy and good humour of despair : — 'I am a figure,' said he, 'put into that nitche in the halls, and am never to leave it.' At another time he said, he was an old family picture out of fashion, and carried up stairs by force into the garret. But what are human calculations? The new Chief Justice of the Common Pleas was a shortsighted prophet as well as Lord Bute."
"His judgment upon the ever-memorable case of Mr. Wilkes, in all its numerous branches, evinced consummate ability, a discriminating acuteness of intellect, and that commanding simplicity of character which never deserted him. Being at Cambridge, I could not hear his speech on Wilkes's liberation, and being impatient to read it, one of the Chief Justice's admirers and friends said, 'Your academical conceit will be disappointed. There are no flowers in it. No Tully. No Demosthenes. It is very sound law — but as dry as a bone I'
"He had freedoms in gold boxes, and sat for his picture in Guildhall. It is
Lord Camden's judicial excellence.
His opinion of Lord Hardwicke.
He is made
His judgment respecting Wilkes.
on his portrait at Guildhall, written by Dr. Johnson.
Lord Camden had no personal acquaintance with Wilkes.
Lord Camden as a criminal Judge.
His merit in deciding appeals before the Privy Council.
His scrape in the House of Lords, in proposing that Peers should be created by Parliament. His opinion of Lord Shelburne. Character of Mr. Dunning.
a whimsical fact that Samuel Johnson, the most avowed and flaming Tory of his age, wrote the Latin inscription, which is at the foot of the picture.
"Among the obloquies of the day, it was broadly asserted that Mr. Pitt and his Chief Justice degraded themselves by adopting Mr. Wilkes; and likewise that Lord Camden had never seen him in his life till he saw him in his own Court of Common Pleas, and that he had no personal intercourse with him. I know, likewise, that neither he nor Mr. Pitt were the favourites of that incendiary. Upon some occasion Mr. Pitt called him the libeller of the King, and blasphemer of his God — which, as being truths very unpolished, he never could forgive. As for Lord Camden, I can vouch for it, and shall not overlook it in the picture of his domestic life—that no man ever breathed who had such an abhorrence of obscenity, or of an improper liberty with sacred names."
"1 never saw him administer criminal justice, but 1 am told that he was remarkably humane, feeling, and compassionate. I remember that he thought Lord Hardwicke's Act, which made forgery capital, too severe, and that he often said, 'no policy could reconcile him to it,' — adding, however, that 'he was, perhaps, in fault, but that he could not help it.'
"I have known him often uneasy under the impression that he bad misconceived a fact or an argument. I observe that, in the Court of Common Pleas, he has more than once confest himself in the wrong. It will be found that in the House of Peers, in the debate on the American tax, he alludes to these habits of his judicial conduct in a very modest and graceful manner."
"It may seem unmanly and frivolous to lay stress upon it, but he possessed the manners of a perfect gentleman, both at the bar and upon the bench, in a degree and with an effect that elevated them into ornaments of a superior mind."
"In plantation appeals he gave equal satisfaction, and his memory of the facts at issue in so advanced a period of his life, could with difficulty be imagined, unless by those who attested the miracle. In causes of a mixed nature from Guernsey and Jersey, his temper, address, and zeal for the good will of those islands to this country, without offence to judicial conclusions, were infinitely meritorious and most critically useful."
"He delivered in the House of Peers all the regulations (in their successive details) of the intended Regency, and stated them with energy of mind unimpaired—though in a single instance he was oppressed by an attack made upon him on a topic in which it was alleged his opinion was unconstitutional, viz. as to the power of creating peers, which he had represented, and with perfect accuracy, to have been vested heretofore in Parliament. Worn out by the conflict, in a fit of low spirits, he confessed the indiscretion, and threw himself upon the mercy of his opponents."
"Lord Shelburne's character is too well known to demand any analysis of it, and I have only to observe that, with all his peculiarities Lord Camden admired his debating powers above those of any other peer in his time, Lord Chatham alone excepted."
"Lord Camden recommended Mr. Dunning to the office of Solicitor General. From that period, as long as he remained at the bar, he had more business than ever fell to the share of any other individual; and I am free to confess more than he should have assumed his power to execute, for to my personal knowledge he often held briefs upon the faith of his attendance, and of his argument, both which he entirely withheld from his client without pleading an excuse for it, and much less returning his fee. This habit was emulated by others, and became an air of those who acquired celebrity at the bar—but no fashion can justify it. If one could ever say in what part of Mr. Dunning's professional merit as an advocate his pre eminence over others was the most conspicuous that problem would, perhaps, be solved — at his chambers. I remember a very marked instance of the homage then paid him by no common man, Lord Thurlow, when Attorney General. I had consulted the latter on a subject of law which bore upon my own personal interest. He invited me to dinner, and gave me his opinion at his table; but having given it, he said, 'Let us go to Dunning; he will set us right in half a minute.' The remark was prophetic as well as candid and liberal."
"It is not a little singular that Lord Camden's outset in the House of Peers, after he became Chancellor, and his last words before he left the woolsack never to be seated upon it again, were equally unfortunate. In the course of the debate, in which he maintained • that expulsion from the House of Commons did not by the law of parliament incapacitate the member so expelled at a future election,' Lord Chatham, who had left the administration, represented him with indiscretion at least, if not with indelicacy, as having declared the same opinion privately to him, when he had not in fact given his colleagues in the cabinet any direct information of it, although all of them perfectly knew it. This exposed him to a very animated, forcible, and popular attack upon him. His friend the Duke of Grafton was peevish in his reply, and they parted in that House with a semblance of mutual asperity."
"I was present when he took his seat as Chancellor in Lincoln's Inn Hall, and was not a little surprised, but more than a little pleased, at his readiness in deciding oil' hand upon the variety of motions which he heard upon what is called 'a Seal Day,' though he had left the Court for some years. It seemed as if he had been in the daily and recent habit of attention to its rules.
"He found a bar elevated in its character for talents and learning. Mr. Yorke was at the head of it. Mr. De Grey, the new Attorney General, had begun to feel his ground firm as a rock under him, and Lord Rosslyn, then Mr. Wedderburn, gave powerful hints of that brilliant eloquence that was in future to make him so distinguished a figure at the bar and in the House of Commons.
"None have denied that Lord Camden filled the judicial province of this new department, so as to unite all the suitors of this Court, and all others in one opinion concerning him—that superior talents for that seat had never fallen to the share of any man except Lord Hardwickc, who bad so wonderfully enlightened the Court by his judicial experience and penetration. Lord Camden's judgment, like that of his model, was uncommonly sound, and his mode of delivering his opinion persuasive: his apprehension quick, and his explanation of the subject luminous. But no Judge, on the other hand, had less conceit of his own undisciplined opinion against the weight of precedents fixed and settled. He likewise avoided the practice of repealing acts of parliament by judicial construction, saying, that 'he could not be more or less enlightened or liberal than his law-giver had enabled him to be.'—Unfortunately he seldom wrote his judgments, so that few of them are extant as compositions."
"He took notes more from habit or from diffidence than from necessity; but he often dispensed with his notes, stating facts with as much accuracy as if he had read what he had written. At the Privy Council, I have known him often go through a cause which had numerous and complicated facts without a note of the arguments delivered by the counsel, and with no written preparation of any kind—with a force and perspicuity almost inconceivable. In the Downing cause he adopted a course I never saw taken by others in my life. Upon some of the topics he read what he had written from his paper—for others he depended on memory alone—and leading them into his MS., he took it up again —then left it again—without embarrassment of any kind.
** But I have now to relate what must appear to those who have read that voluminous and complicated romance, the Douglas cause, more an experiment upon credulous minds than a miracle which evidence can attest. I had an office under him, and I attended him in his coach to the House of Lords. He was then Chancellor. Though I knew him to be anxious, I never had seen him so tremulous and flurried. He was afraid of the demand upon him, which fear he told me had induced him to write, not the whole of his argument, but the heads of it. He had shown them to me in his own hand, fairly written, upon seven or eight pages of folio paper. He said that he was afraid of not using them, and was afraid of using them too—but as it was not his habit—in such an assembly to look at a paper it should throw his thoughts into confusion. When he began to address the House, my attention was fixed upon this paper which he had rolled up. Not having at first any other occasion for it, he waived it as a kind of truncheon. From one topic he was led on to another, and through a very long as well as able and impressive argument he never unfolded
He takes his seat as Chancellor in Lincoln's Inn Hall. The Chancery bar.
His excellence as an Equity Judge.
His wonderful memory.
His judgment in tltc Downing case.
CHAP, that paper, nor was at a loss for a single fact. Lord Mansfield, who followed CXLVI1I. hiTM, spoke from notes, and consulted them without reserve."
Lord Camden's Judgment In Shiplev's Case.
Of the collections which George Hardinge had made of his uncle's speeches, &c, there is only preserved his "judgment in Shipley's appeal," characterised by him as " one of the noblest compositions in the world." The case has lost much of its interest, and the details of it would now be tiresome; but some passages from it must ever be read with delight and instruction.
The appellant, a young man at the University, had been expelled from his college for the supposed offence of publishing a libel, aggravated, as his accusers and judges chose to say, by his being guilty of " general immorality." The college being a royal foundation, he appealed to the King, as visitor. The appeal was heard by the Lord Chancellor, who, in giving judgment, thus began:
"This jurisdiction is exercised in the right of the King, as visitor. It is, in its nature, very peculiar. It is a despotism uncontrolled, and without appeal; the only one of the kind which is known in this kingdom.
"I contemplate with pleasure so numerous an assembly, as there is no restraint upon the visitor but his own character.
"I am called upon to annul, to alter, or to sustain, the sentence passed on Mr. Shipley, the appellant. It is a judgment against this young man, which carries in it a most heavy accusation. It not only convicts him of the first charge, but adds to it a character of 'general immorality,'
"Mr. Shipley, in his appeal, relies on three objections : — I. That the proceeding against him has been irregular. 2. That the proof was insufficient. 3. That the punishment is excessive.
"As to the first point, he says that he was not duly charged; that he had not a fair hearing, and that he was not suffered by his accusers to adduce evidence in his defence. I shall not proceed in this case as in appeals from an inferior to a superior jurisdiction by writ of error, where nothing is to be argued but what appears upon the record. For having all parties before me, and a power of judging de novo, I shall do complete justice by punishing, as I ought, the delinquent on the one hand, and by censuring, or by punishing, the behaviour of the College on the other, if it be such as I do not wish to see repeated."
Having stated the steps in the process, he says, "Not considering here the import of the evidence, I shall pronounce that Mr. Shipley was condemned unheard, and without such previous trial as natural justice required. Whether any fact was proved against him or no, is not, in this view of the subject, material. Such a mode of proceeding is never to be justified or allowed by a Judge. It is a natural principle of justice engraved upon the heart — not acquired from book-learning—that no one is to be condemned unheard.
"It is no apology for these learned gentlemen to allege their ignorance of the municipal code. Let any one of them now lay his hand upon his heart, and say he sincerely believes that Mr. Shipley's witnesses to prove his innocence ought to have been rejected.
"I could wish that persons who arc intrusted, for ingenuous purposes, with a despotic power over youth, would understand the first principles of justice. Were it a case of ordinary discipline, or of customary punishment, I should, in this domestic forum, turn a very deaf ear to complaint, though, as representing the royal visitor, I can reverse any act. I should wish, in all such cases, to leave the governors of a college almost absolute. But in the case of expulsion, I wish for temper, and I must have it, for I must claim it. That punishment is extreme. It is capital. It inflicts academic death. An independent member of the college is, by this mark upon him, sent home degraded, stript of his degrees, and of advantages in certain professions. He comes into the world introduced by odium of character. I should expect that a proceeding, to be attended with such consequences, should be regularly instituted, should be conducted with temper, should be supported by solid proof, and be satisfactory to all reasonable minds.
"The next branch of the charge, imputing 'general immorality,' is liable to CHAP, heavier animadversion. It is most extraordinary that Mr. Shipley, after his first CXLVIII. examination, in which this imputation had never been mentioned, should have a , sentence read against him which convicts him of ■ immoral habiW unheard, unaccused, unprepared. I am free to assert, that in this part of this proceeding the respondents have behaved extremely ill; and when I consider the learning of these gentlemen, I am astonished at the fact which proves them to have branded a young man's character for ever, as far as their power extended, without putting him on his defence."
He then, as if a Judge in the first instance, enters into the merits of the case, and. upon an examination of the evidence, having acquitted the appellant of the charge of publishing the libel, comes to the "general immorality:" "No one can appreciate the extent of this charge. What is it f or what is it not? It includes atheism, baseness, want of probity. If it had stood, it would have ruined this young man for ever. But I pronounce, that no proof maintains this charge, and I am bold enough to add, that, in making it, the Dean and Chapter have infringed the first principles of common justice."