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for the plaintiff, and the defendant (who was conducting his own case) was throwing out assertions of the truth of the matter, which the judge interfered to check as wholly inadmissible in the state of the record. Mr. Scarlett, with his wonted smile of perfect, entire, and complacent confidence, said: Oh! my Lord, he is quite welcome to show — what he cannot — that his slander was well founded.' The man went on and called a witness or two, - nay, he was making much way in his proof, — when Mr. Scarlett appealed to the judge for protection. “No' (or rather • Na'), said Mr. Baron Wood, “I won't: it's your own fault. Why did you let him in?' The man proved his case and got a verdict, to the extreme annoyance of Mr. Scarlett."
In Parliament his success as a speaker was not so great, but we think it is partly accounted for by his not entering the House of Commons until he was near fifty, and by his being engrossed all the time he was there by the labors of an enormous practice. His speech on the allowance made to the Duke of York, as custodian of his father's person, was admitted to be extremely powerful. He himself says, in speaking of Erskine :
“ I have heard him several times when he spoke second only to Pitt and Fox, and commanded the profoundest attention. What can be expected from a lawyer in great practice, who has not time for the exigencies of his own profession ? Mr. Burke used to say, “The best that the lawyers bring us in this House is but the rinsing of their empty bottles.'
“ I can say for myself, that, though I received many compliments upon my first speech in Parliament, and though I was not conscious of any deficiency of talent for debate, I found it impossible to pursue my profession consistently with the application to Parliamentary subjects which was essential to my pretending to any lead in the House of Commons.”
This strikes us as common sense; and the consequence of it is, that barristers so overworked are apt, in the House, to confine themselves to subjects upon which they can speak without giving much time to preparation; namely, legal subjects or the legal aspect of political subjects, — topics not very attractive to a lay audience.
And here, perhaps, a digression may be permitted us into an inquiry as to the truth of the oft-repeated assertion, that great lawyers generally have failed in Parliament, and of the usual inference that there is something incompatible between the training of the Bar and great eminence in a legislative assembly, especially when it is not largely made up of lawyers. With the explanation we have above given, we deny the fact. It seems to us a bold generalization from the case of Erskine's asserted failure in the House of Commons. The thesis has been most positively supported by Macaulay, who had an extreme dislike of the profession he originally intended to follow. In his review of Croker's edition of Boswell, he says:
“It is the same with some eminent lawyers. Their legal arguments are intellectual prodigies, abounding with the happiest analogies and the most refined distinctions. The principles of their arbitrary science being once admitted, the statute-book and the reports being once assumed as the foundations of reasoning, these men must be allowed to be perfect masters of logic. But if a question arises as to the postulates on which their whole system rests, — if they are called upon to vindicate the fundamental maxims of that system which they have passed their lives in studying, — these very men often talk the language of savages or of children. Those who have listened to a man of this class in his own court, and who have witnessed the skill with which he analyzes and digests a vast mass of evidence or reconciles a crowd of precedents which, at first sight, seem contradictory, scarcely know him again when, a few hours later, they hear him speaking on the other side of Westminster Hall, in his capacity of legislator. They can scarcely believe that the paltry quirks, which are faintly heard through a storm of coughing, and which do not impose on the plainest country gentleman, can proceed from the same sharp and vigorous intellect which had excited their admiration under the same roof and on the same day.”
We have no doubt there is foundation in the Parliamentary career of some great barristers for this, but we think it is a superficial treatment of the subject. The first fallacy is in assuming that it is peculiar to the bar. There are, as the present time has shown, many excellent clergymen, - learned, eloquent, laborious, distinguished as commentators, as preachers, and as pastors setting forth in their daily lives the religion which they teach — who make sorry figures when the whole foundations of that religion are attacked. And so it is in politics and in legislative assemblies. What are called " practical” statesmen, like Walpole and Palmerston, - men who have governed the country with admirable sagacity, and led the House of Commons with eminent success, would probably, in most cases, be unequal to a defence of the Constitution, “ which they have passed their lives in studying.” Imagine a discussion on the science of government between Sir Robert Walpole and Montesquieu ! And yet Lord Macaulay would not, from these instances, draw a conclusion unfavorable either to theologians or politicians. There are lawyers who cannot reason except upon the principles of “the statute-book and the reports,” and there are clergymen and statesmen who cannot reason in theology or politics, except upon the assumption of the truth and wisdom of the religion or government to which they have been accustomed. In this country where a government had to be formed and a system of constitutional law created, there is no difficulty in finding lawyers who can argue à priori on the principles of government or jurisprudence. It is a part of their training and daily occupation.
1 The explanation of the dislike which literary men, like Macaulay and Thackeray, who were educated for the Bar, are apt to have for the profession, perhaps is, that, while pursuing an unattractive study, they were surrounded by fellow-students who, widely different from them, were immersed in legal subjects, took hold of them with enthusiasm, and at table, in their walks, and at all times, could talk of nothing but law. A man who only regarded law as a disagreeable necessity, which he was determined to escape from if he could, would soon feel about the subject eternally dinned into him as a boy does about a dish which he was compelled to live on at school.
“ Clive,” says Macaulay again, “ put himself into the hands of Wedderburn, afterwards Eord Loughborough, one of the few great advocates who have been also great in the House of Commons." The illustration is unfortunate. Wedderburn undoubtedly stands high in the second class of Parliamentary debaters, but he was not a great advocate. No barrister ever made a more signal failure in the House of Commons than did he in the Common-law courts. In the Court of Chancery his success was only ordinary. His promotion to the Solicitor and Attorney Generalship, and afterwards to the bench, was owing solely to Parliamentary and political services. But passing by this error, we deny the fact that Lord Macaulay assumes. When great lawyers have taken hold in earnest of the science of Parliamentary dialectics, they have succeeded as well as anybody else. Somers, Cowper, Murray, Dunning, Grant, Romilly, Plunket, Brougham, Follett, Cockburn, Palmer, and Cairns prove this. Lord Lyndhurst did
i We have purposely named only those lawyers to whom all the time, professional duties and success were the first objects in view. Many of the most eminent English statesmen and debaters, like Macaulay himself, began life at the Bar; and two of the most prominent at the beginning of the century, Dundas and Perceval, after being the one Lord Advocate, and the other Attorney-General, rose to the highest political offices in the State. But their careers are exceptional, and resemble those of American rather than of English statesmen.
not make any figure in the House of Commons, for the reason, probably, that Scarlett mentions; and for four years in the House of Lords he was nothing but an ordinary law-lord. But, in 1831, when the opportunity offered and he took hold of debating in earnest, although then fifty-nine, he became one of the greatest speakers the Upper House has ever seen. In our country the instances are very numerous ; and in France, many might be found like Odillon Barrot, Berryer, Baroche, and Rouher.
A man may succeed at the bar, and fail in Parliament; but the converse is true, as Wedderburn's case shows. The greatest debater in the House of Commons was Fox; yet Lord Brougham says, and says, we think, justly, — “I never was more clear of any thing that had not been tried, than I have always been, both that Fox must have failed and Pitt succeeded completely at the bar.” Much versatility of talent is not always a gift bestowed even on the greatest men.
To return to Scarlett: in Parliament he remained consistently attached to his principles, and saw, not without a querulousness a little unmanly, men who were younger, and whose qualifications were inferior to his own, except that they were Tories, pass before him to the highest honors of his profession. The same thing had happened to Romilly and other eminent Whig barristers, who, unlike him, died before reaching the goal of an English barrister's ambition. Lord Brougham, praising justly his fidelity to principle, thinks that if he had early gone over to the Tory party, he would have become Attorney-General, before the time at which he was made King's Counsel, and have succeeded Lord Ellenborough, in 1818. There may be some doubt as to this. Lord Eldon, greedy of power, and jealous of any possible rival either in the House of Lords or in the Cabinet, systematically kept down those barristers whose great abilities made him fear that they might become such in the future, and reserved his favors for those whom he thought, from lack of Parliamentary ability, he had no reason to fear; and he would certainly not have liked to see Scarlett Lord Chief Justice.1
i Lord Ellenborough's appointment, first as Attorney-General, and afterwards as Lord Chief Justice, was the work of Addington, the Prime Minister, and before Lord Eldon had fairly got hold of the Great Seal. Copley's promotion as Solicitor-General, the beginning of his great career, was, as is well known, owing to Lord Castlercagh, Lord Eldon always feared and disliked him.
At length, in 1827, when Mr. Canning became Prime Minister, a portion of the Whig party, headed by Lord Lansdowne, joined him, and Scarlett succeeded Sir Charles Wetherell as Attorney-General, and was knighted; and he then left the Northern Circuit, which professional rules would no longer allow him to attend. His tenure of office was less than a year; for when, after Canning's death and Lord Goderich's failure to carry on a coalition government, the Duke of Wellington became Prime Minister in January, 1828, he resigned with the rest of the Whigs. He, however, returned to office after the passage of the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act, in 1829, which broke the Tory party in twain, and compelled the Duke to seek assistance from the Opposition.
This was the beginning of the political tribulations that tended, when he finally joined the Conservative party, to embitter him against his old associates, - a bitterness that his family naturally shared, and which shows itself very perceptibly in these memoirs.1 It was, undoubtedly, expected by the Whigs, that the Duke of Wellington would eventually bring forward some measure of reform, to which the whole Whig party were deeply pledged, and likewise would invite Lords Grey and Lansdowne and others of their leaders to the Cabinet, and Scarlett accepted office with the approval of his party. But the Duke, an intense Tory at heart, and who had been made a Reformer, in his own despite, by circumstances, had no idea of doing either. He rather sought a reconciliation with the Protestant Tories; and, on the first day of the session of the new Parliament, in 1830, he recklessly threw down the gauntlet to his Liberal supporters, by declaring a most uncompromising and bitter hostility to any Parliamentary Reform whatever. The Protestant party, however, were not
1 Some of Mr. Campbell Scarlett's readings of English history are new, — not to say startling; as, for example, that “the Conservative Opposition at last defeated the Reform Government, and returned to office” (p. 9); that “Mr. Canning had accepted the appointment of Governor-General of India, but the King was anxious that he should take the seals of the Foreign Office instead,” (p. 105); that Lord Grey, as well as Lord Fitzwilliam, supported Mr. Canning in 1827 (p. 106). Mr. Scarlett, likewise (pp. 100, 101), dwells with complacency on George the Fourth's regard for his father, as something of which his family has reason to be proud. We had supposed that, in these days, all agreed that the greatest compliment George the Fourth could pay to a public man, was to hate him with the bitter hatred he entertained towards Grey, Brougham, and Denman.