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and committed the “great crime” which has compelled Mr. Buckle to blazon forth his name with that of the other criminals concerned; he who, with others in the pride of power and wickedness of heart, availed himself of laws which he was not bound to enforce”—who intrudes his petty prejudice into the sanctuary of justice is not only an iniquitous judge-he is an odious man. It would be worse than puerility to say that the attack made on Mr. Justice Coleridge, in Fraser's Magazine for May, is not directed personally against the man, his character, and general reputation. Mr. Buckle is too great a master of language not to know that he has drawn a powerful picture of a malevolent, bigoted, old judicial savage, and, whether meant or not, of a son equally prejudiced and unfair, both of whom delight in torturing innocent misbelievers in a cowardly and clandestine fashion.
Mr. J. D. Coleridge has replied in the June number of Fraser's Magazine to Mr. Buckle's essay, and animadverted on the offensive accusations contained therein, whether clearly expressed or necessarily implied, and Mr. Buckle has rejoined in a short pamphlet. The latter gentleman, as we now understand him, says, that in the passages which we have quoted, and on which, necessarily, Mr. Coleridge has commented, he did not mean to say that there was a combination between the various bigots who were party to the persecution-judge, magistrates, &c. If so, we must observe Mr. Buckle has been singularly unhappy in his language. We have given in extenso certain of the passages, the signification of which are now questioned, and the reader must judge for himself. But they will not overlook such phrases as the following :-"Neither would he (Mr. J. Coleridge), nor those who supported him, have treated in such a manner a person in the upper classes. No. They select the most inaccessible county, &c., and there they pounce upon a defenceless man,” &c. And, indeed, the writer clubs together “Mr. Justice Coleridge and those who think like him," throughout, as persons united for a common and wicked purpose of persecution. We really do not understand how, according to the ordinary acceptation of the
language employed, any person in common candour could easily interpret its meaning in a different mode to that adopted by Mr. Coleridge. He, indeed, properly distinguishes between what Mr. Buckle positively affirms, and what he leads one to infer; but we do think that Mr. Coleridge is wrong in accusing Mr. Buckle of lacking courage in framing his indictment. There is nothing cowardly or roundabout in his language, to our apprehension. We had no doubts as to Mr. Buckle's meaning; nor do we believe that our readers could have any doubt as to what Mr. Buckle has said, until they happened to peruse his rejoinder to Mr. Coleridge. Thus, again, we read in Mr. Buckle's essay, “Pooley had no counsel to defend him, but the son of the judge acted as counsel to prosecute him.
The father and the son performed their parts with zeal, and were perfectly successful. Under their auspices, Pooley was found guilty.” Now, we certainly did, and do think, that this passage contains an inferential charge (and none the less offensive because indirect) against the two persons there named—Sir John Coleridge and his son. When the writer says they were perfectly successful, having first pointedly alluded to the family connection between the judge and counsel, any impartial reader would conclude that they had a common object, which they achieved, and be led to suspect they acted in concert. Mr. Buckle now declares that he did not intend to suggest that, in the slightest degree, any “private understanding” existed between the judge and the counsel. Here Mr. Buckle again has been very infelicitous in his expressions. What would he say if he read one morning a passage in the papers to this effect?—“Sir John Coleridge was notoriously in such a position that he could not defend himself against dishonourable charges urged in the pages of a periodical; but Mr. Henry Thomas Buckle acted as the man who should pen a libel against him, and Mr. J. W. Parker, who owned a magazine of considerable circulation, was to be the publisher. The writer and the publisher performed their parts with zeal, and were perfectly successful. Under their auspices, Mr. Justice Coleridge was grossly libelled.” Mr. Parker would not be satisfied if, on
complaining of this way of making the statement, he were answered after Mr. Buckle's fashion?"Every word of this is literally and strictly true. Mr. Buckle did write the libellous essay; he and Mr. Parker did perform their parts with zeal, and successfully; and Sir John Coleridge was
of the writing and publishing the essay in Fraser.” It seems to us strange that Mr. Buckle professes not to see the effect of the statement we are referring to, and the necessary innuendo it contains, and still stranger that he should defend himself by saying—“It is the simple and literal truth.” Such literal truths mislead the reader. When, for example, a person declared that he knew “there had been, some time since, a secret connection between a certain gentleman and a pickpocket,” and being called on for an explanation, replied that it was "literally true;" for he had once seen the thief with his hand in the gentleman's pocket, his literalness was held to be more ingenious than candid.
Mr. Coleridge, in our opinion, could not pass over the improper passage in question, and his interpretation of it is not unnatural, while Mr. Buckle’s explanation is unsatisfactory. But as Mr. Buckle seems now to indicate that he did not, and does not, impute to this gentleman (as ordinary readers might have presumed) immoral and unprofessional conduct, this branch of his rhetorical indictment” is withdrawn. It is not now a reckless charge made, but reckless language indulged in, against which we have to protest. But the legal profession is so extensive, and its division so various, that some may well hear of the rumour of an offensive charge made against Mr. Coleridge, who have no means of knowing what manner of man Mr. Coleridge is. For this reason chiefly, we feel bound to take the unusual course of referring personally to the professional character and reputation of the gentleman believed to have been thus assailed. There are men doubtless at the bar, who in pushing themselves risk character and bring discredit on the profession. There are those who resolve, per fas et
1 P. 7 of his " Letter to a Gentleman,” &c.
nefas, to achieve success, and stick at nothing which interferes therewith. With these honour is only a useful phrase, and etiquette a system much prized, inasmuch as it shackles scrupulous men whilst it leaves themselves free. There may be men, moreover, who will truckle to a judge, deceive the court, and take any unfair advantage of any person, be he judge, opponent, client, or even a helpless prisoner in the dock.
Every profession and trade may have some members adhering to it, who are dirty, dishonourable, underhand, and self-seeking, and who would never forego a personal profit if it merely clashed with a professional or moral duty. Such an one might Mr. Coleridge probably be, if he had been guilty of the conduct which it appears was not imputed to him ; but such an one he is
It would have been difficult for a son of Mr. Justice Coleridge to forget the first principles of professional duty in a foolish attempt to carry out a personal predilection for persecution. It would have been strange, indeed, if he were not as honourable and high-minded as he is an able and rising lawyer.
If we were to speculate upon how it came to pass, that Mr. Buckle came thus unnecessarily to introduce the name of the son of Sir John Coleridge into the discussion, we should undoubtedly suggest that it arose from precipitately following the example (as he does in some instances closely) of Mr. Holyoake, who in his pamphlet has been guilty of the vulgar folly of an allusion to “the Coleridges," as "one to prosecute and the other to sentence." This is a curious coincidence, unless indeed it is simply the simple repetition by one writer of the idea of the other. It would be still more remarkable, however, if Mr. Holyoake were to defend himself by saying——“But the two Coleridges were there, and one did prosecute, and the other did sentence.”
We have said thus much upon the personal part of the question which Mr. Buckle has made so prominent; we will now refer to certain facts not presented by Mr. Buckle in the passages we have cited; but which will be found in the letter by
Mr. J. D. Coleridge to the editor of Fraser's Magazine for June, and in an account of Pooley's case by Mr. Holyoake.
And first, if the publication of words, offensive and horrible to the ears and eyes of the community, ought ever to be made cognizable by the criminal law (as to which we now say nothing), then (supposing Pooley to have been sane) the prosecution in question at Bodmin was certainly justifiable.
2ndly, We have Mr. Coleridge's statement, that no suggestion was made to him as counsel for the prosecution, and no notion, either by the judge or himself, was entertained of the deranged mental condition of the prisoner being such as we have no doubt it then was, and had been for years.
3rdly, That Sir John Coleridge recommended Pooley for pardon so soon as he discovered there was true ground to believe that Pooley was diseased in his brain. The letter of the judge to the Home Secretary ought to be read by those who have perused Mr. Buckle's personal attacks. It is as follows :
“ 26, Park Crescent, Dec. 2, 1857. “SIR—Thomas Pooley was convicted before me on three charges of blasphemy of a very offensive character. There was not the slightest suggestion made to me of his being other than perfectly sane, nor was there any thing in his demeanour at the trial, or in the conduct of his defence by himself, which indicated it; nor did I collect it from the manner in which he, as it seemned, habitually committed the offence. But I see no reason whatever why he should not receive a free pardon under the circumstances stated in your letter. Had I been informed of any thing which had led me to inquire into his sanity during the trial, it is probable I might have discovered enough to have led to an acquittal on the ground of insanity, which on such a charge I should have been very glad to have arrived at. I have the honour to remain, sir, your obedient servant,
“ JOHN T. COLERIDGE. “Horace Waddington, Esq.”
This letter is a sufficient assurance to us that Sir John Coleridge, at least, was not anxious for the continued imprisonment of Pooley to gratify his Christian spleen.