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on record which show that the judge could occasionally relax into a milder mood, and indulge in pleasantry foreign from his ordinary temper. When a counsel, too much addicted to self praise, had declared in the course of his address, that such things were enough to drive one from the bar, ‘Don't threaten the court,' said his lordship, 'with such a terrible calamity. On another occasion, when an eminent conveyancer came express from the Court of Chancery to the King's Bench to argue a question of real property, and commenced an erudite speech by gravely observing that an estate in fee-simple was the highest estate known to the law of England.' 'Stay, stay,' interrupted the Chief Justice, let me write that down ;' and having done so, and deliberately read the note he had taken,- The court, sir,' he added, "is indebted to you for the information. The irony would have sufficed to disturb the self-possession of most men, but the learned advocate was impervious to such weapons, and having continued his address till the court rose, then enquired when it would be their lordships' pleasure to hear the remainder of his argument. “Mr.
P rejoined the Chief Justice, we are bound to hear you, and shall do so on Friday; but pleasure has been long out of the question. On some occasions, however, his lordship met his equal, of which the following furnishes an example.
• Mr. Brougham having defended the proprietors of a paper who were indicted for libel, and made an impassioned address to the jury in their behalf, Lord Ellenborough, in summing up, remarked, that the defendant's counsel had imbibed the noxious spirit of his client, and had inoculated himself with all the poison and virus of the libel. Mr. Brougham, when his client was brought up for judgment, complained with proper spirit of these animadversions.
My lord, why am I thus identified with the interests of my client? I appear here as an English advocate, with the privileges and the responsibilities of that office, and no man shall call in question my principles in its faithful and honest discharge. It is not, assuredly, to those only who clamour out their faith from high places, that credit will be given for the sincerity of their professions.' The judge made no comment on this manly remonstrance, but was too highminded himself not to admire its spirit.'--ib. 353—4.
On another occasion, in December, 1817, Lord Ellenborough received from an obscure individual, the severest rebukes which were probably ever administered in court to an English judge. We knew William Hone, and may be somewhat influenced in our judgment by the affectionate esteem in which we hold his memory. He was one of the mildest and most urbane of men. The benignity of his countenance was a fair index of his heart. He would not have hurt a worm, but the obvious determination
of his judge to secure a conviction, stirred his gentle nature, and aroused within him the strongest indignation. Having been acquitted on his first trial, at which Mr. Justice Abbott presided, Lord Ellenborough came into court on the following day, 'to compel,' as Mr. Townsend admits, in his life of the former, 'a verdict of guilty. His interruptions of the accused were frequent and unseemly; but William Hone, though worn by fatigue, exhausted both in body and in mind, scarcely able on some occasions to collect himself sufficiently to comprehend the objections taken to his course, with the anxieties of a numerous family pressing upon him, and the whole power of Government employed to crush him, rose with the occasion, and by his manly sense and genuine English fortitude, worsted his formidable antagonists. 'It was hoped,' said the accused on his third trial, which, in defiance of common decency was persisted in, by certain very grave members of the cabinet, that William Hone could not stand the third day; that he would sink under his fatigue and want of physical power. “He can't stand the third day,' said these humane and Christian ministers; we shall have him now; he niust be crushed.' Oh, no, no, he must not be crushed; you cannot crush him. I have a spark of liberty in my mind, that will glow, and burn brighter, and blaze more fiercely, as my mortal remains are passing to decay. There is nothing can crush me but my own sense of doing wrong; the moment I feel it, I fall down in self abasement before my accusers; but when I have done no wrong, when I know I am right, I am as an armed man; and in this spirit I wage battle with the Attorney-General, taking a tilt with him here on the floor of this court. From the unseemly and partizan interruptions of the Judge, Mr. Hone appealed to an impartial jury. 'I feel,' said he, addressing Lord Ellenborough,
the grievance of which I complain ; I am to be tried, not you. When I shall have been consigned to a dungeon, your lordship will sit as coolly on that seat as ever; you will not feel the punishment. I feel the grievance, and I remonstrate against it. .... Gentlemen,' he added, addressing the jury, under an inspiration worthy the advocate of English freedom, it is you who are trying me to-day. His lordship is no judge of me. You are my judges, and you only are my judges. His lordship sits there to receive your verdict. He does not even sit there to regulate the trial, for the law has already regulated it.'* The accused was acquitted, and common report attributed the Judge's death, which occurred on the 11th of December in the following year, to the mortification experienced on this occasion.
• Hone's Three Trials.
This report is discredited by our author, who mentions the following anecdote in evidence of its falsity.
There is no truth in the popular notion, that Lord Ellenborough was killed by the result of Hone's trial. As a proof how little his nerves were shaken, the late Bishop Turner, who rode with him from Westminster, has mentioned in private conversation that he laughed at the hooting and tumultuous mob, who surrounded the carriage, remarking that their saliva was more dangerous than their bite. He suddenly pulled the check-string at Charing Cross : • It just occurs to me that they sell the best red herrings at this shop of any shop in London; buy six. The dainty was purchased, and the judge, whom the people supposed to be half slain, made a hearty meal.'—ib. p. 389.
Mr. Townsend's notice of these trials is amongst the least satisfactory portions of his work. He admits, as we have already seen, the predetermination of the judge, and confesses that he acted with too inexorable rigour,' yet fails to mark, in terms at all adequate to the occasion, the wrong that was attempted. Those were days of darkness, when the Government of the nation was in the hands of men whose intellects were as feeble as their malice was intense. We have happily fallen on better times, but must not forget to whose noble resistance we are greatly indebted for the preservation of our liberties.
We now turn to a more pleasing topic, and regret that our space allows us only briefly to notice the unrivalled talents and great services of Lord Erskine. He was born at Edinburgh, in January, 1750, and having been educated at the high school of that city, thence proceeded to the University of St. Andrews. His early destination gave little promise of his subsequent career. In 1764 he went to sea as a midshipman, and four years afterwards exchanged the navy for the army, receiving a commission as ensign on the 1st of September, 1768. His ultimate adoption of the legal profession is thus explained by Mr. Townsend :
• The cause of his second change has been variously ascribed to the persuasions of his mother, a lady of excellent discernment to the admiration called forth by the exercise of his talents in .conversation and debate-to the ‘res angusta domi,' and the claims of an increasing family,--and, lastly, to the ennui produced by a desul. tory course of life, which his occasional pamphlets on the abuses of the army could not furnish sufficient occupation to remove. To his happy determination the whole of these causes with combined force probably contributed; the success of his brother Henry at the Scottish bar, of which he was for many years the grace and ornament, affording also a felicitous precedent. “At the house of Admiral Walsingham,' says Cradock, • I first met with Erskine and Sheridan, and it was there the scheme was laid that the former should exchange
the army for the law; and in consequence our excellent friend, Mr. Hinchcliffe, was applied to, who kindly received him at Trinity Lodge, and obtained for him a nobleman's degree. He was now twenty-six, and to save further loss of time entered his name on the boards of Trinity, Cambridge, as fellow-commoner, and kept terms simultaneously as student at Lincoln's Inn. His sole object in taking a bachelor's degree being to dispense with two out of the five years' noviciate, according to the then regulations of the inns of court, he did not enter the senate-house for honours, and confined his attempts at university distinction to the gaining a college prize for a declamation on the Revolution of 1688.'—ib. 403-404.
His difficulties at first were very great, as his means were restricted, and his family was becoming numerous. He resided, we are told by Mr., Reynolds, “in small lodgings, near Hampstead, and openly avowed that he lived on cow-beef, because he could not afford any of a superior quality; dressed shabbily, expressed the greatest gratitude to Mr. Harris for occasional free admissions to Covent Garden, and used boastingly to exclaim to my father, “Thank fortune, orit of my own family I don't know a lord.
All however that was wanted, was a fair opportunity of displaying his powers. Give him this, and his success was certain. Happily, the occasion was speedily furnished, and the following is his own account of it :
"I had scarcely a shilling in my pocket when I got my first retainer. It was sent me by a Captain Baillie, of the navy, who held an office at the Board of Greenwich Hospital, and I was to show cause in the Michaelmas term against a rule that had been obtained in the preceding term, calling on him to show cause why a criminal information for a libel reflecting on Lord Sandwich's conduct as governor of that charity should not be filed against him. I had met, during the long vacation, this Captain Baillie at a friend's table, and after dinner I expressed myself with some warmth, probably with some eloquence, on the corruption of Lord Sandwich as First Lord of the Admiralty, and then adverted to the scandalous practices im. puted to him with regard to Greenwich Hospital. Baillie nudged the person who sat next to him, and asked who I was. Being told that I had just been called to the bar, and had been formerly in the navy, Baillie exclaimed with an oath, Then I'll have him for my counsel! I trudged down to Westminster Hall when I got the brief, and being the junior of five, who would be heard before me, never dreamt that the court would hear me at all. The argument came on. Dunning, Bearcroft, Wallace, Bower, Hargrave, were all heard at considerable length, and I was to follow. Hargrave was long-winded, and tired the court. It was a bad omen ; but, as my good fortune would have it, he was afflicted with the strangury, and was obliged to retire once or twice in the course of his argument, This protracted the cause so long, that, when he had finished, Lord Mansfield said that the remaining counsel should be heard the next morning. This was exactly what I wished. I had the whole night to arrange in my chambers what I had to say the next morning, and I took the court with their faculties awake and fresbened, succeeded quite to my own satisfaction (sometimes the surest proof that you have satisfied others), and, as I marched along the Hall after the rising of the judges, the attorneys flocked around me with their retainers. I have since flourished, but I have always blessed God for the providential strangury of poor Hargrave.'— ib. 405–406.
Throughout his professional life he was not more distinguished by the splendour of his advocacy, which was confessedly unequalled, than by a fearless discharge of his duty to his clients. A striking instance of this occurred on the trial of Dr. Shipley, when he persisted, in opposition to Mr. Justice Buller, in asking the jury to explain their verdict. “Sit down, Mr. Erskine,' said the judge with considerable warmth ; 'know your duty, or I shall be obliged to make you know it in some other way.' The advocate rejoined with equal warmth, “I know my duty as well as your lordship knows your duty; I stand here as the advocate of a fellow-citizen, and I will not sit down.' The judge was wise enough to be silent. He probably felt that a greater than himself was present, and the independence of the bar was proudly maintained.
Erskine was engaged in the State prosecutions of Hardy, Horne Tooke, and Thelwal; and his expositions of constitutional law, and splendid defence of public liberty on these occasions, justly rendered him the idol of the nation. In the following extract the demeanour of Horne Tooke, one of the intended victims of a merciless court, is graphically described.
The moment he was ushered into the dock, he began with the air of an aggrieved individual, as the complaining party :
"My Lord, I beg leave to represent to the Court that we have just come out of a very confined and close hole, and the windows, now opened at our backs, expose us to much cold air ; that our health, particularly my own, will be considerably endangered, and most probably we shall lose our voices, before we leave the place : I shall therefore request of the Court to be dismissed as soon as their convenience will permit.'
When asked how he would be tried, he eyed the Court for some seconds with an air of significant meaning, which few assumed better, and, shaking his head emphatically, answered, 'I would be tried by God and my country! But'-there was no occasion to fill up the break-how much he feared that he should not.
• Being allowed, as an indulgence, to sit by his counsel, the intractable prisoner told the Court, 'I cannot help saying that, if I