Page images
PDF
EPUB

He certainly engrossed by far the largest share of the talk, but every one by quickly watching an opportunity might put in a wise saw or a joke, and we all parted pleased with ourselves and with him. Noctes conæque Deam.

“But he was," says Lord Campbell, “ like little wanton boys, that swim on bladders,' and before three fleeting summers were gone, he had not only fallen from power, but he was ungenerously deserted by friends, while cruelly assaulted by foes; he was maligned by those to whom he had been a benefactor; all mankind seemed to be in conspiracy against him; and his own mental faculties could hardly bear the shock which they had to sustain."

It may be imagined with what delighted malignity Campbell follows Brougham in what he terms his “ fall,” and which he thinks equalled only by his predecessor, Cardinal Wolsey's. Naturally he could scarce expect to remain fixed at such a zenith of popularity, but his exclusion from office throughout all his subsequent life was a constantly bitter draught. It would have been fatal to Campbell, the very breath of whose life was office. Campbell relates how he took occasion to taunt him, with this exclusion, and in these pages absolutely revels in the thought of it. He relates this little incident as occurring as late as 1847 :

“ While I was reading one evening in the library of the House of Lords, Brougham came up to me, and the following dialogue passed between us : B. Since Denman's Act makes a witness who is interested, competent to give evidence, tell me how Cottenham is. C. I hear it reported that you are to succeed him. B. If I were to take the Great Seal again, my first proceeding ought to be to seal a commission of lunacy against myself. C. Nevertheless, some say that you are the only man now fit to be Chancellor. B. I assure you I never wished to have the Great Seal back after I resigned it. If Melbourne had only treated me with common courtesy we need never have quarrelled ; and what madness would it be now for me to take such an office, when I have no child to be the better for my toils. Here the tears came into his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.”

It is one of Lord Campbell's favorite topics to dilate upon the hatred of the law lords for one another, their calumniation, one of the other, behind his back. For instance, he says :

“I am ashamed when I consider how much I am myself the dupe of this system, as practised among the law lords down to the present time. Lyndhurst, in conversing with me, abuses and laughs at Brougham; Brougham VOL. IV.

19

abuses and laughs at Lyndhurst. I am morally certain that Brougham and Lyndhurst, when talking together, abuse and laugh at Campbell. Yet, instead of checking them, I am afraid that I join with them in this wicked propensity.”

If any were seen in company, he is sure to ascribe some evil signification to it. He thus speaks of Brougham, 1842, when he belonged to neither party :

“ His favorite seat was the woolsack, where he seemed to enjoy divisum imperium with Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst. When referring to them in debate, I was obliged to call the latter “my noble and learned friend on the woolsack,' and the former ómy noble and learned friend on the edge of the woolsack. Lyndhurst, pretending a great deference to Brougham's opinion, now acquired a complete ascendancy over him, which he strengthened and continued by hints that he himself was sick of office, and could not go on much longer with Peel, some of whose measures he did not much relish, and whose cold, stiff, priggish manners he exceedingly disliked. By these or some other means the two law lords became strictly united, not only as political partisans, but as private friends. And they were denominated, even in Parliament, the • Siamese Twins.'”

But in the case of Lord St. Leonards, he has caught a Tartar. St. Leonards and Brougham quarrelled in the House of Lords, and Brougham so far forgot himself as to term his antagonist a “bug," and to describe with an air of loathing his crawling ways and verminous propensities. It happened, too, that while Brougham was Chancellor and Sugden at the bar, there occurred between them a slight dispute, occasioned by Brougham's writing letters during the argument of counsel. As was to be expected, Campbell seizes the opportunity of relating these quarrels with great unction, and represents Brougham and St Leonards as bitter enemies. Of the latter occurrence he writes :

“ Lord Chancellor Brougham, above all disguise, many times in the course of a morning would openly receive letters on the bench, read them, and write, seal, and despatch answers, meanwhile listening to the counsel and asking them questions. This habit was particularly distasteful to that very petulant, though very learned and able, counsel, Sir Edward Sugden (now Lord St. Leonards), who tried to correct it, but was unlucky in the occasion which he took, and the method he employed, for that purpose. As the most marked and effectual intimation of his displeasure, he suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence, while the Chancellor was writing. After a considerable pause the Chancellor, without raising his eyes from the paper, said, “Go on, Sir Edward, I am listening to you?' Sugden. —'I observe that your Lordship is engaged in writing, and not favoring me with your attention. Chancellor. 'I am signing papers of mere form. You may as well say that I am not to blow my nose, or take snuff while you speak. Sir Edward sat down in a huff; but on this occasion he was laughed at, and the Chancellor was applauded.”

Lord St. Leonards has published a little volume, setting himself and Brougham right before the public. Recalling the circumstances of his reconciliation with Brougham, St. Leonards says, —

“ Gathering himself up and turning half away, he said · Well, I think when a man feels that he has done wrong, the sooner he says so the better.' I went up to him, gave him my hand, which he grasped kindly, and I said 'I am much obliged to you, and I shall never again think upon what has passed.' ... From that time till his death Brougham and I were good friends, and I cannot but look with displeasure at Campbell's life of him. When he heard that I had declined the Great Seal a second time, he laid hold of my two arms in the House of Lords, and urged me to retract my refusal. He sent me copies of all his books, and showed me every mark of good-will. ... Lord Campbell knew that for many years Lord Brougham and I were on terms of friendship; but as his book would not be published till after Brougham's death, he was safe in reviving in its most odious form an attack which Lord Brougham had lived to regret and atone for. I can venture to say that nothing would have pained him more than the statement I am commenting on.”

And as to the story of the occurrence in court, Lord St. Leonards represents that there was no laughter; that Brougham took the rebuke in good part, and ceased the practice of writing letters during the argument of counsel. So little is St. Leonards able to appreciate Campbell's spirit of meanness that he adds, “I look in vain for any probable cause of Lord Campbell's rancor against me."

To believe implicitly Lord Campbell's " Lives of Lyndhurst and Brougham ” were to lose all confidence in human nature, and for a lawyer to abandon all sense of the dignity of his profession. Lord Campbell is said to have remarked to Chief Baron Pollock, when they were sitting together in the House of Commons, “ Pollock, we lawyers receive the high wages of an infamous profession.” He

1 “Misrepresentations in Campbell's Lives of Lyndhurst and Brougham.” Cor. rected by St. Leonards (Murray).

could not have better illustrated his meaning than by writing this book. He has represented the most famous lawyers of his age as selfish, malicious, and factious to the last degree, — hating and backbiting one another, - influenced not by patriotic considerations, but simply by the spirit of party, and the desire of selfaggrandizement. He represents the law lords acting on appeals with no judicial spirit, but from party spite. Upon the appeal in O'Connell's case, Campbell says,

“ His (Lord Brougham's) own opinion for affirming the judgment he delivered with unjudicial asperity; and when the judgment was reversed according to the opinion of Lord Denman, Lord Cottenham, and Lord Campbell, he was actually in a furious rage, saying in his place that the decision had gone forth without authority, and would return without respect. He then stepped up to me and whispered in my ear, · You have created a Peer. Tindal will forthwith be brought in to vote against you, Cottenham, and Denman. Do you suppose that the government will go on with a minority of law lords in this House ? Tindal has a fair claim to the peerage, having been so long Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He is a man to be depended upon, and a Peer he will be. I have not a doubt that he recommended this step to Lyndhurst and to Peel; for he is very fond of offering his advice to any government which he patronizes ; but Peel would not listen to it, and Tindal died a commoner.”

Is it true, then, that an ex-Chancellor, sitting as a judge in the highest Court of Appeals of Great Britain, holds his peers patent like a brief with retainer on the side of the political party which gave it him? Is he bound to vote upon a judicial inquiry with that party, whether right or wrong? Was that the deliberate opinion of Henry Brougham, one of the most famous Chancellors of England ?

We cannot believe that an affirmative answer can in fairness be given to these questions. Yet Lord Campbell would have us think so. Thus what he has written for the sake of injuring two political rivals, redounds to the discredit, not merely of his profession, but of his country. The moral he draws is too obvious. The question is, are his facts true? If they are, his moral follows, as a matter of course. Who does not believe that in the private history of every government there is much to be ashamed of, and much which the actors would fain see buried in oblivion, — the bickerings, infidelities, heart-burnings, brought about by selfishness and ambition ? . But these are not all. Lord Campbell would have us think so, and has sought to add to his own fame by spreading on the record the weaknesses and faults of his opponents. But the picture is distorted. In the process of photography, if one shall carelessly or purposely thrust forward his feet to close proximity with the camera, they will, in the result, equal in size is not conceal the face and body. So in these lives Lord Campbell has thrust forward the lower halves of his subjects, and would have us believe them to be perfect likenesses of the whole.

« PreviousContinue »