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somewhat out of sight. A more rigid and exact judgment would probably, in some cases, have pronounced a severer sentence, but the error, if error it be, is on virtue's side, and may easily be corrected by an intelligent reader, from the facts supplied. We shall not, of course, attempt to notice all the 'Lives' contained in these volumes. Some of them have recently been given to the public with much greater fulness than consisted with Mr. Townsend's plan, and the interest of others is almost, though not entirely, restricted to members of the legal profession. We pass over, therefore, the earlier biographies, simply extracting the following anecdote of Lord Kenyon, which strikingly illustrates the absurd cruelty of our criminal code, and the marvellous perversion exercised by a false system over a strong intellect. Though the man revolted at the barbarity of the law, the judge zealously opposed its amelior
'An interesting anecdote of Lord Kenyon's sensibility was related in the House of Commons by Mr. Morris in the debates of 1811. Of the occurrence that gentleman had been an eye-witness. On the home-circuit,' he said, some years since, a young woman was tried for having stolen to the amount of forty shillings in a dwelling house. It was her first offence, and was attended with many circumstances of extenuation. The prosecutor appeared, as he stated, from a sense of duty; the witnesses very reluctantly gave their evidence, and the jury still more reluctantly their verdict of guilty. The judge passed sentence of death; she instantly fell lifeless at the bar. Lord Kenyon, whose sensibility was not impaired by the sad duties of his office, cried out in great agitation from the bench: 'I don't mean to hang you will nobody tell her I don't mean to hang her?' 'I then felt,' he justly added, " as I now feel, that this was passing sentence, not on the prisoner, but on the law.' This deserved reproach never startled the learned judge, who was a devout believer in the perfection of the penal laws, and, without rising superior to the prejudices of the age in which he lived, gained a reputation for mercy above his colleagues, by yielding more frequently than they did to the impulses of compassion. His humanity, active in cases of life and death, so far as his conscience would allow, was less alert in behalf of those criminals to whom secondary punishments had been awarded, and never slumbered so soundly, as when a fashionable libertine was to be amerced in damages, a seditious libeller to be sent to gaol, or a knavish attorney to be struck off the rolls.'-vol. i. p. 86.
Lord Ellenborough ranks amongst the highest ornaments of the judicial bench. He was the fourth son of Dr. Edmund Law, Bishop of Carlisle, and was born at Great Salkeld, in Cumberland, on the 16th of November, 1750. At twelve years of age he was placed on the foundation of the Charter
House, where he continued nearly six years, and is described by a contemporary as at once moody and good tempered, a bluff, burly boy, ever ready to inflict a blow, or perform an exercise for his schoolfellows.' In 1768 he removed to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he gained distinguished honours, and formed the acquaintance of several who were afterwards eminent in their various departments. Being elected a fellow of his college, he quitted Cambridge in 1773, and entered himself of Lincoln's Inn. His energetic, enduring, and proud spirit, is strikingly depicted at this time, in a short letter addressed to his college friend, Archdeacon Coxe. He was at this time engaged in a pleader's chambers.
After holding a pen most of the day in the service of my profession, I will use it a few minutes longer in that of friendship. I thank you, my dearest friend, for this and every proof of confidence and affection. Let us cheerfully push our way in our different lines, the path of neither of us is strewed with roses, but they will terminate in happiness and honour. I cannot, however, now and then help sighing, when I think how inglorious an apprenticeship we both of us serve to ambition, while you teach a child his rudiments, and I drudge at the pen for attorneys. But if knowledge and a respectable situation are to be purchased only on these terms, I for my part can readily say, hdc mercede placet. Do not commend my industry too soon; application wears for me at present the charm of novelty; upon a longer acquaintance I may grow tired of it.'— ib. p. 306.
Happily for himself he did not grow tired of his occupation, but applied with unwearied diligence to the subtleties of special pleading, and did not venture on being called to the bar till 1780, when he selected the northern circuit, and was greatly aided in his early professional career by family connections. An opportunity was speedily afforded of displaying, with full effect, and on the most prominent theatre, the high qualities with which he was endowed. This was the trial of Warren Hastings, whose case he was engaged to lead; a high and arduous task,' as Mr. Townsend justly remarks, 'for a young man of only eight years standing at the bar.' His opponents on the occasion were the most illustrious men of the day. Burke, Fox, Sheridan, Windham, and Grey were arrayed against him; and though he trembled and was somewhat overpowered at the outset, he manfully addressed himself to his duty, and fearlessly discharged it. Miss Burney, who was an eye-witness of the scene, has given an animated account of the demeanour of Mr. Law, from which we extract the following brief passage.
To hear the attack, the people came in crowds; to hear the defence, they scarcely came in tête-à tête. Mr. Law was terrified exceedingly, and his timidity induced him so frequently to beg quarter from his antagonists, both for any blunders and any deficiencies, that I felt angry with even modest egotism. We (Windham and I) spoke of Mr. Law, and I expressed some dissatisfaction that such attackers should not have had able and more equal opponents.' But do not you think Mr. Law spoke well,' cried Windham; clear, forcible?' 'Not forcible,' cried I; I would not say, not clear.' He was frightened,' said Windham; he might not do himself justice. I have heard him elsewhere, and been very well satisfied with him; but he looked pale and alarmed, and his voice trembled.' 'In his second oration,' continues Miss Burney, 'Mr. Law was far more animated, and less frightened, and acquitted himself so as almost to merit as much commendation, as, in my opinion, he had merited censure at the opening.'-ib. 309.
In the course of the trial he became cool and collected, was subtle in the detection of errors, unsparing in the exposure of his opponents, and profoundly versed in all the legal questions which were mooted. The inclination of the court was well known, and the accused was acquitted by a majority of 23 to 6. Law received nearly £3000 in fees, and, what was of far greater value, he derived from his efforts on this occasion, a sensible increase of personal reputation, and a consequent accession of business. From this period he rapidly rose in Westminster Hall, and began to be cheered by the prospect of high preferment. During the ministry of William Pitt, he was regarded with coldness and suspicion, as the son of a Whig bishop, but on the formation of the Addington cabinet, in 1801, he was made attorney-general, and entered the House of Commons, as member for one of the now disfranchised boroughs. His reply to the premier, when this appointment was tendered, with an offer of two days for consideration, on account of the probably brief duration of the new government, was highly characteristic of his decision and firmness. Sir,' said Mr. Law, 'when such an offer is made to me, and communicated in such terms, I should think myself disgraced, if I took two days, two hours, or two minutes to deliberate upon it. I am yours; and let the storm blow from what quarter of the hemisphere it may, you shall always find me at your side.'
It is reported of George III., that on Mr. Law attending the first levee after his appointment, he was asked by the monarch, if he had ever been in Parliament; and having replied in the negative. That is right,' said the royal interrogator; 'my attorney-general ought not to have been in Parliament, for then, you know, he will not be obliged to eat his own words.'
As a parliamentary debater he was far from attaining the highest rank, though equally remote from the signal failure which has attended some others whose eloquence at the bar was greatly superior to his.
'He was then fifty-one, an age generally considered too late for those who hope to acquire the fame of parliamentary orators. St. Stephen's Chapel is strewn with the wrecks of eminent lawyers, but Sir Edward Law was not added to the long and melancholy list. The vigour with which he threw himself into all legal and constitutional questions, and the spirit with which he went out in all weathers as a debater, soon elicited the respect and attention of the house. He spoke with an energy that reminded the old members of Thurlow, on subjects connected with his peculiar functions; fearless, full of matter, and copious in diction, a hard hitter, even when he spoke carelessly. During a debate on the Prince's claim, when he remarked that the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster were placed under the control of Henry the Sixth, it was suggested from the opposition bench that the law was shortly after changed. Ay,' said the Attorney-General, in times of trouble. The honourable gentlemen opposite seem well versed in the troubles of their country.'-ib. pp. 324, 325,
In the upper house he was a frequent speaker on 'questions of constitutional and general polity. His oratory, which was generally without premeditation, had vast unadorned power, but its effect was marred by ebullitions of temper. He threw his vigorous spirit into whatever topic he discussed, infusing a strength of mind and muscle, which could not brook restraint or tolerate contradiction.' His success as a parliamentary speaker was greatly impaired by his extreme irritability, which sometimes showed itself in the most repulsive forms imaginable. On these occasions he was apparently unconscious of the trespass he was committing, and would sometimes even gratulate himself on his freedom from asperity. An instance of this occurred, when he accused Lord Grey of uttering 'a base and calumnious imputation,' and sat down, to the infiuite amusement of the house, expressing a conviction of having defended himself without bitterness towards his opponent. At a later period Lord Holland inflicted a severe but dignified castigation on the irritable judge, which was too ably conceived, and is too honourable to the memory of that estimable nobleman to allow us to pass it by. We avail ourselves of Mr. Townsend's sketch of this memorable passage.
'That nobleman, in 1811, brought forward a motion for an account of all informations ex officio in cases of libel, in a temperate and judicious speech, which elicited one of a totally different spirit from the judge, who, making a law against himself, remarked, that he
knew nothing more to be deprecated in that house than violent and Vague declamations resting on no grounds. (Hear, hear, from Lord Holland). The noble lord might call all that he had said a mere tirade; but in all that he had said, did he not bottom himself on facts? (Hear, hear, from Lord Holland.) The cries of the noble lord could not convince him that he had not. He was used to tumults and alarms; they never yet could put him down. Were he to die the next instant, he never would yield for one moment to tumult!' The keen and cutting irony with which Lord Holland rebutted this unjust attack was long personally remembered by the house, and will richly reward perusal. The following is a short specimen: My lords, I must trespass for a few minutes on your time, for I feel myself called upon, not indeed to answer arguments, but to repel accusations and charges; not to combat objections to my motion, but to vindicate my character from aspersions which have been thrown out, I will not say in a disorderly and unparliamentary manner, but at least in a style and tone which, fortunately for the dignity of your deliberations, is rare and unusual in this house. I have been told, not by inference, but in direct terms, that I am captious, that I am passionate, that I am indirect, and unmanly. I profess not the temper of bearing such charges with equanimity; and if I were to disguise my astonishment, I will say my indignation, at hearing them brought against me, I should, in fact, prove myself guilty of that insincerity with which I am charged. With respect to the vehemence or passion with which I may have expressed myself, I should have hoped that the learned lord would have had the charity to recollect that I never had the advantage of those judicial habits from which he has profited so much; and which, as they require from him, so they have no doubt taught him, that calmness and composure of mind for which he is so remarkable, The practice of such duties, and the exercise of such temper as these duties require, can alone bring the feelings of men to so perfect a state of discipline, and produce, even in the delivery of their strongest opinions, that dignified and dispassionate tone which adds a grace to all the noble and learned lord's public appearances, and has so eminently distinguished his conduct on this night's debate. I fear, my lords, I shall never attain that composure of manner and command of temper, of which the noble and learned lord inculcates the necessity, full as much as he affords the example. Indeed, I must acknowledge that I shall not even aspire to emulate the model he holds out to me, and, while I admire his precepts, must confess that I have no ambition to follow his example. The clamorous invective, which has nothing to recommend it but authority, is as much clamour as the cries and shouts of a mob; and I hope that I shall have the courage and honesty to treat it, come from whom it may, with a due portion of that feeling which the noble and learned lord so properly reserves for all clamour unfounded in reason.''. ib. pp. 331-333.
Though grave and austere to a fault, several anecdotes are