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Nor can it be alleged, as a reason for Lord Campbell's spite, that he could accuse his distinguished contemporaries with opposition to this extraordinary progress. On the contrary, he owed much of it to them, as he himself confesses. Thus ingratitude is added to ill-nature. Upon his earliest promotion, — his taking the first step of the many which led him so constantly upward, — the appointment to the office of Solicitor General in November, 1832, he addressed the following letter to Lord Brougham:
“ COURT OF King's BENCH. “MY DEAR LORD CHANCELLOR, —
“ Allow me instantly to express to you my warmest thanks for your kindness, which I shall never forget to my latest hour. “ Yours most gratefully,
It is also reported, on excellent authority, that he owed his obtaining the Chancellorship in 1859 to Lord Lyndhurst's good offices, there being two other candidates in the field, supported by members of the government, and that he said to Lyndhurst on the day he took his seat on the Woolsack, “I owe this to you.” He himself relates how in 1832 “ Lyndhurst in a very handsome manner addressed to me a laudatory epistle, offering to make me a puisne judge of the Court of King's Bench.” His life of Brougham contains many letters from the latter, couched in the warmest terms of friendship beginning “Dear Jack,” or “My dear C. J.” and it also appears from the following passage that he was much indebted to Brougham for an additional step in promotion:
“ But, strange to recollect, he (Brougham) had now formed the resolution that I should succeed Lord Denman, in the Queen's Bench; and, if I had been his own brother, he could not more zealously have exerted himself to accomplish that object. During the autumn I received several letters from him on the subject. The last beginning, “My dear C. vulgo dearest Jack,' contains the following postscript:
“* Between you and me, Denman will never sit again. My own opinion is that you must take it. Then if Cottenham goes you can easily slide in there. I have given this as my decided opinion to all inquiring friends. I am ready to stand by you to the death in both arrangements, and in H. of Lords. This I do partly for your own sake ; partly for the public; and you are at full liberty to quote me if of any use. 6. Yours,
Brougham gave him most friendly and sensible advice also, of which, as it is naive as well as instructive, we quote the greater part: —
“I select from his correspondence at this time the letter containing Brougham's admonitions to guide me on my elevation to the bench, which appear to me very sensible, although it may be thought that they show that he considered himself the beau idéal of a perfect judge:
"GRAFTON STREET, Wednesday evening. “MY DEAR C.,- As you are now Chief Justice, I will use a court freedom. I advised Denman and also Wilde : the former followed my advice and benefited; the latter's habits were too strong and he did not follow, and was the worse for it.
“Don't suppose the truisms I am going to give out are therefore valueless. They are really all the better.
« First. I beg of you to regard your first week as your most important, even on cir. cuit, certainly in banc. All the impression a man is ever to make does not turn on his start, but nine parts in ten do; and if the start is inauspicious, he has an up-hill work to do for long and long.
“ I had some luck in immediately on entering Chancery, having a good case to start on (an old client of yours, De Tastet), and I overruled bad bankrupt law of Mansfield (Sir J.). The benefit I had hence, and of a judgment in Dom. Proc., the day I first sat there, was inconceivable. My arrears prevented me from retaining my first gains. But I afterwards by written judgments (quite necessary) recovered lost ground. Therefore I repeat, consider every one matter as a difficult thing, to be got over by diligent care, and expend your entire force on every one thing, small as well as great, for the first week or two. Afterwards you can afford to take your ease in your own court.
" Second. I need not remind you of the fatal error Scarlett, Pollock, and others made of thinking lightly of judicial difficulties, because they had been leaders and not pleaders. No doubt your business is to take large views like a leader; but nine parts in ten of your work is akin to the pleader's ways. This is an error you are not the least in risk of falling into. ... Excuse these matters, prompted by regard, and wholly consistent with confidence and respect; and wishing you a long and happy reign over learned puisnes and civil barristers. « Believe me, &c.,
Still it is not difficult to discover the real cause of Lord Campbell's detraction of Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Brougham. Rochefoucauld, remarks, “ Le haine pour les favoris n'est autre chose que l'amour de la faveur. Le dépit de ne la posséder se console et s'adoucit par le mépris que l'on témoigne de ceux qui la possèdent; et nous leur refusons nos hommages, ne pouvant pas leur ôter ce qui leur attire ceux de tout le monde.” They were both his superiors, and he knew it. If the term genius may ever be applied to the unimaginative intellects of lawyers or statesmen, both Lyndhurst and Brougham may be said to
have been men of genius. It was not merely in degree, but in kind, that their minds differed from Campbell's. Campbell was undoubtedly an able man, and a good lawyer; but he was plodding and plain. He was neither above nor below his business. He had no eloquence and little wit. He was engaged in a greater number of cases at the bar, and probably was a more safe and trustworthy counsel, than either of his more famous contemporaries ; undoubtedly he received a larger professional income. But he appeared in no “causes célèbres;” he gained no popular applause; no thronged court rooms greeted his efforts at eloquence. Brougham and Lyndhurst openly laughed when he published his collection of " speeches.” He was neither a power in politics, nor a leader in society. The daily press rung not with his forensic nor parliamentary contests. Altogether, in spite of his majority of retainers, learned arguments, and successful verdicts, he found himself completely eclipsed by his less painstaking but more brilliant associates. Hence, throughout this entire volume, while he decries the performances of his rivals in the province where he himself claims to have excelled them, he ridicules, and abuses them for successes in fields in which he knew he could stand no comparison. Hinc illæ lachryma.
“Now it was that I first came into professional rivalry with Brougham, and at this stage of our career he greatly eclipsed me. Hitherto, since I was called to the bar, I had been creeping on very slowly, but steadily justifying or opposing bail — moving for judgment as in case of a nonsuit, or arguing a special demurrer, turning upon whether a venue had not been improperly omitted, in alleging a traversable fact. Suddenly I was called upon to appear as counsel at the bar of the House of Lords, on behalf of Firmin de Tastet, a wealthy Spanish merchant, to oppose a bill introduced by the government, as a great war measure against Napoleon, by preventing the exportation of Jesuit's-bark from England to the Continent for the supply of his armies then suffering from intermittent fever. My client had several cargoes of this medicine stored in England, which if this bill passed would become a useless drug upon his hands. Brougham at the same time was retained as counsel at the bar of both Houses, for the Liverpool merchants who had petitioned against the Orders in Council, framed by way of retaliation for Napoleon's Berlin and Milan decrees, which declared the British Isles in a state of blockade. My affair was soon over, as I had only one evening given me to examine my witnesses and to make my speeches; and I returned to my bail, my motions of course, and my special demurrers. Brougham's lasted six weeks, during which he may be said to have made his fortune. For many successive days, in both Houses, he examined a vast crowd of witnesses, and he delivered many most admirable speeches, showing great knowledge of political economy and the details of trade, and inveighing in unmeasured terms against the false policy of the English government, by which not only neutral nations were grossly injured, but our own commerce and manufactures were nearly ruined. The speeches of counsel at the bar of either House are generally delivered to empty benches; but Brougham spoke to crowded audiences, and hundreds were turned away every evening who could not gain access even to hear the broken murmurs of his eloquence. The petitioners were defeated, and did not gain their object until 1812, when Brougham himself was a member of the House of Commons; but from his efforts in this case he acquired brilliant fame as an orator, and the certainty was established that he would make a figure in public life.” .
Of Lyndhurst, at the bar, he speaks as follows:
“ Finding that, after having been nine years at the bar, his progress was very slow in a stuff gown, and that he was not likely soon to gain such a position as entitled him to ask to be made a King's Counsel, he resolved to take the dignity of Sergeant-at-Law, supposed to be open suo periculo to any barrister of fair reputation and seven years' standing. Accordingly he was coifed, and gave gold-rings, choosing for his motto “Studiis vigilare severis,” which some supposed was meant as an intimation that he had sown his wild oats, and that he was now to become a plodder. ...
“ While Attorney General he continued the second in practice in Westminster Hall, though still at a long distance from Scarlett, who, by his own merits and the partiality of Lord Tenterden, was decidedly the first. At this time no state trial, nor cause célèbre of any sort arose, and I have in vain looked for any further producible specimen of Copley's forensic eloquence. He was wonderfully clear and forcible; but he could not make the tender chords of the heart vibrate, having nothing in unison with them in his own bosom. He was more solicitous about the effect he might produce while speaking, than about the ultimate result of the trial. Therefore he was unscrupulous in his statement of facts when opening his case to the jury, more particularly when he knew that he was to leave the court at the conclusion of his address, on the plea of attending to public business elsewhere. I was often his junior, and on one of these occasions when he was stating a triumphant defence, which we had no evidence to prove, I several times plucked him by the gown and tried to check him. Having told the jury that they were bound to find a verdict in his favor, he was leaving the court; but I said “No! Mr. Attorney, you must stay and examine the witnesses ; I cannot afford to bear the discredit of losing the verdict from my seeming incompetence; if you go, I go.' He then
dexterously offered a reference, to which the other side, taken in by his bold opening, very readily assented."
Again he says of Brougham,
“ Generally with us, a lawyer's practice at the bar leads to Parliament; but in Brougham's case Parliament led to practice at the bar. His forensic performances, unaided, never would have given him any considerable position. His habit was, immediately before setting off upon the circuit, to make a long splashing' speech about jurisprudential reform, copiously introducing black-letter lore, got up for the nonce, which persuaded the northern attorneys and their clerks that he was profoundly versed in the common law of this realm. Præsentia minuit famam; they were a little disappointed when he came down among them and showed that he was not quite up to the distinction between actions ex contractu and actions ex delicto. But, when, in a few months, they read another speech of the same sort, which he had delivered to an admiring senate, they thought he must be able to obtain ample damages for non-payment of a bill of exchange, or for an assault. Excluded from Parliament, there was nothing to counteract the unfavorable impression he made, when a brief in any ordinary matter was intrusted to him. Accordingly his business fell off, and he began to despond. He might have got on in the Crown Court, where a knowledge of law may be dispensed with, but here also he failed; for when engaged for the prisoner, he was singularly indiscreet in the questions he put. Seemingly he acted upon the supposition that his client was really innocent (a presumption of law which nine times out of ten was contrary to the fact), and as at that time the prisoner's counsel could not address the jury, he made but a poor hand of it when employed to get off a burglar or a highwayman.
“He even contracted a distaste for the circuit, and till he wore a silk gown as Attorney General to Queen Caroline, he was glad of an excuse for staying away from an assize town.”
And again, later on in life, –
“ But what discouraged him more, he was by no means flourishing in his profession. He made no progress on the circuit. In London, his House of Lords business had left him from his neglecting it; he only expected to be employed on extraordinary occasions in the courts of law. In common suits, I myself was sometimes opposed to him, which I thought a luxury; for his name gave a sort of celebrity to every trial he was engaged in, and if the verdict could by indiscreet management go against him, he was sure to confer the splendor of victory on his opponent.
“Reports were circulated that he was about to leave the bar in despair, and to devote himself exclusively to politics.”