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Such is Mr. Buckle's statement of Pooley's case, and such his commentary thereon. Although we confess it is uncongenial to our feelings to be obliged to repeat some of the above paragraphs in our pages, this course has, under the circumstances, become necessary, especially since their author has also published, in some further remarks, his own account of what the above extracts signify; and this latter explanation differs materially from the meaning which we attached to them.
“ What the verdict of public opinion may be, I cannot tell,” says Mr. Buckle. Although we do not pretend to record such verdicts (having, nevertheless, a strong opinion what must be the judgment of all who are able to arrive at one on this subject), we are able to say what is the sentiment throughout the legal profession. It is one of indignation, not unmingled with shame. Of indignation that a judge, among the eminent men who were his contemporaries on the bench pre-eminent for his great learning, sterling ability, and judicial virtues, should be thus attacked in an unjustifiable libel; of shame that a man, venerable and venerated, possessed in a remarkable degree of a pure love of justice, distinguished for courtesy and kindness in all the relations of life, public and private; and who, having retired from the bench, best beloved, esteemed, and honoured by those who best knew him, and knew how to value what is amiable, estimable, and honourable—that such a man as Sir John Coleridge should have been subjected to slander so virulent, mistaken, and foolish, as that into which Mr. Buckle has unfortunately been betrayed.
According to our experience, so far from there being a disposition to laud Mr. Buckle's efforts, either on the part of the public or of the legal profession, there is a general concurrence in opinion that the critic, in writing and printing his scandalous charges against Sir John Coleridge, has evinced insufficient appreciation of the facts connected with Pooley's trial, and total misapprehension of the principles and practice of criminal law. In fact, Mr. Buckle has put himself in a false position. But, from his peculiar constitution of mind, we quite believe that he
does not now, nor will he be ever able himself to perceive that this is so.
Although Mr. Buckle, we find, did not ask the question-one very pertinent to the subject, however—as to who Sir John Coleridge is, yet we may perhaps be allowed to make this inquiry. Who, then, is this man “of cold heart and shallow understanding,” who, acting together with a certain wretched and intolerant faction with which he was connected, selects the most inaccessible county in England, * where the press is least active, and the people most illiterate, and then “pounce upon a defenceless man, and make him the scapegoat” for the offences of more powerful unbelievers, who are too strong to be attacked ? What has been the history and life of this “unjust and unrighteous judge,” this iniquitous person, who, with his son as prosecuting counsel, was cruel and cowardly enough to crush an unfortunate victim, in order that malignant prejudices might be gratified, and the spleen of a miserable clique of intolerant religionists be humoured? Who is this functionary, who abuses a high and sacred office for his own mean, revengeful, and cowardly purposes? We do think that Mr. Buckle might have made some inquiries himself on the subject, as obviously character forms an element in calculating the probable motives of a man acting in a transaction such as Mr. Buckle has described. Had he done so, he would then perhaps have learnt that Sir John Coleridge was distinguished at his university as an accomplished scholar—that he was then the intimate friend of a body of earnest, zealous, and highly-gifted contemporaries—no insignificant men in later life-that his society was courted, his correspondence cherished, and his opinions valued by some of the leading and most thoughtful men of the age—that, in his professional career at the bar, he obtained the success which terminated in his promotion to the bench, by the legitimate exercise of his talents, his distinguished fame as a lawyer, and his high and unblemished reputation.
* Mr. Buckle has repudiated the notion that he here meant, that the judge exercised any choice as to where the case should be tried, or had any knowledge that such a case as Pooley's was to be tried previous to the trial. If Mr. Buckle has been misunderstood, it is his own fault for writing loosely and wildly on two important topics-human liberty and personal character.
We, who for years have been wont to watch Mr. Justice Coleridge on the bench, feel ashamed in referring to what must be more or less within the knowledge of the whole professionhis lofty character, strong undeviating sense of rectitude, and zeal for constitutional rights of all on whose interests he had to decide. We know that the occupants of the English bench are,
. and indeed have been for years, marked by high judicial qualities; but amongst our judges Mr. Justice Coleridge was conspicuous for his possession of the brightest and most admirable of these virtues. His love of Justice seemed an instinct-his search after the very truth a necessary and essential condition of his mind. His overwhelming sense of personal duty, and his absence of all “ fear or favour” (which sometimes, according to Bacon, beset judges), were proverbial. Whilst he listened with the moderation and modesty which belong to real knowledge and true wisdom, to the arguments of counsel and the opinions of his brethren on the bench, he delivered his own judgments with perfect independence and resolution, which is not their least merit."
Mr. Buckle might also, with a very little inquiry of those from whom he could easily have received authentic information, have ascertained that the private life and personal virtues of the man whom he has thought proper to accuse of crimes against society and outrages upon humanity, are such as would shed a lustre upon any name, and render it impossible for him to have committed an abominable act from a wicked motive. Nor can it be contended in excuse that the criticism was legitimately applied to a public officer, not to the man. A“most unjust, unrighteous judge," "a stony-hearted man," tyrannical and insolent
a in office, who "ferrets out obsolete laws” to gratify his malignity,
1 In our last Number reference was made to one of the excellent judgments of Coleridge, J., in which he vindicates the “liberty” of the subject with remarkable eloquence and force, see No. XIII., p. 17.
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
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.”
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