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"Next in turn, after Lord Grey, came my Lord Brougham. "Well,' I said to myself, “Hal! I have known thee, young devil - old devil these thirty years! . . . . Thou wilt make thyself heard, articulately and distinctly, to the utmost ends and corners of the room.' He did so.
He spoke with no straining; but the hall was hushed, and his voice went over and round it in low, deep, but clear tones, like the voice of a lion in the desert."
In another letter he writes,
“ Brougham spoke and fulfilled what I had presaged in my own mind. I know that he will be heard when others are unheard. He spoke like a lion roaring - not angrily, but distinctly - in an African desert.” 1
Mr. Sala testifies that he retained this characteristic of his speech even in his old age:
“ The shock head of hair was blanched. The 'black' Brougham became an old white lion. He could roar, however, on occasion. At that same Huddersfield festival I told you of anon, there arose in the course of the speech making a tremendous disturbance. A baronet, member for the borough, was present, and, for some reason I know nothing of, had become very unpopular. His appearance on the platform was the signal for a storm of hisses, hootings, catcalls, and Kentish fire. Brougham was in the chair, nodding, as I thought. Suddenly he rose. His eye flashed; the famous nose seemed to quiver, and the snowy mane to be stirred. •Silence!' he thundered; "silence, or you shall hear My voice !' The people of Huddersfield had heard it with a vengeance. In an instant there was silence, as dead as that you might imagine to reign after the explosion of a powder mill. The proceedings came to a most harmonious termination. Lord Brougham was then in the eighty-third year of his age.” 2
“But," as Lord Brougham says, “oratory is only the half, and the lesser half, of the nisi prius advocate ;” and however superior to other lawyers he may have been as an orator, he certainly failed in the other equally important but less showy half of an ideal advocate. An examination of his critical estimate of other celebrated lawyers manifests the high standard which he had set before him, and the numerous grand qualities which he considered to be the requisites of a good lawyer. He must have felt that he did not possess a combination of these qualities ; indeed, that no human being could attain such a degree of excellence. While he considered “ that the foundation of all excellence was to be laid in an early application to general knowledge,” he added, “ that professional eminence can only be attained by entering betimes into the lowest drudgery the most repulsive labors, of the profession. Even a year in an attorney's office, as the law is now practised, I should not hold too severe a task, nor too high a price to pay, for the benefit it must surely lead to; but at all events, the life of a special pleader, I am quite convinced, is the thing before being called to the bar.” 1
1 Life and Letters, iii. 127.
? Temple Bar, June, 1868.
Too much of his youth had been engrossed in the alluring pursuit of “general knowledge,” to the neglect, as he himself intimates, of wholesome professional drudgery. He could not submit to a vigorous application to those tiresome technicalities of the law, an acquaintance with which he affected to despise so much in other lawyers. It would seem that he failed in that other half of an advocate, which comprises a thorough preparation of his cases, a careful study of the facts, a critical survey and arrangement of the authorities, and a dexterous presentation of such as are favorable; a skilful examination in chief, and a penetrating and judicious cross-examination. Such is the foundation upon which alone can be reared the elegant superstructure of brilliant oratory and dazzling rhetoric. These arduous but essential preliminaries afford few opportunities for display, and go for little with the outer world; without a close attention to them, however, no enduring fame as a lawyer can be secured. Although Lord Brougham had a ready memory, unusual resources of knowledge from which to draw; although he was indomitably persevering and indefatigably industrious, and had, in addition, a powerful constitution, enabling him to undergo untold labor, yet he had no moderation. He was impetuous and impatient of detail. He jumped at inferences; and, seizing and dwelling upon a prominent argument, one apparently sufficient to cover the whole case, he would exhaust that to the neglect of other equally, if not more, important features of his subject. There was thus a lack of finish, a want of thoroughness, an incompleteness about all that he did. He had an uncommon amount of energy and industry, but he was destitute of judgment; a most needful requisite in a lawyer, having in view, not only his own personal benefit and reputation, but also the interests of his clients. As a politician, he was likened to the “bellua anceps,” the elephant
1 Letter to Mr. Macaulay, March 10, 1823.
in battle, often more formidable to his friends than to his foes.1 His deficiency in tact, good judgment, and sound sense, characterized all his actions, while his inaccuracy materially impairs the value of his writings.
It must be borne in mind that he was never heart and soul a lawyer; that law was little else than the thread upon which he hung his various fancies and his dearer pursuits. A great man he assuredly was; a great philanthropist, an earnest reformer of abuses, but not by any means worthy to be classed with the greatest lawyers of the age.
One last word from Mr. G. A. Sala as to Lord Brougham's personal appearance:
" From 1830 to 1866, - the period between his brightest glow of fame and his mental eclipse, — he was always the same gaunt, angular, rawboned figure, with the high cheek bones, the great flexible nose, the mobile mouth, the shock head of hair, the uncouthly cut coat with the velvet collar, the high black stock, the bulging shirt front, the dangling bunch of seals at his fob, and the immortal pantaloons of checked tweed.”
The same writer says, " In later life Lord Brougham, though his dress was odd, was as neat and trim an old gentleman as you would wish to see; but in his days of political power, and parliamentary and legal labor, he was said to have been a terrible sloven. An old lady I knew many years since in West
a moreland — she had been the proprietor of a newspaper at Kendal, and helped Brougham materially in one of his great electioneering contests, in return for which he made her the practical present of a horse and gigtold me that he just chucked † clouse upon him like hay on to th' tynes of a fork;' that it was easier to get him to drink a bowl of punch than to shave himself, and that when he left his lodgings in the morning for the assize court, his servant had frequently to run after him with the white Deckerchief he had forgotten to don.” ?
We cannot do better than accept the kindly summing up of the noble acts of his protracted and well-spent life, by his old enemy "" “Punch,” 3.
" The ninety-year-old man was part of all,
Great part of most that's worthiest and best :
Scarce through that long day's work paused once to rest.
i Dublin Review.
2 Temple Bar, June, 1868.
THE ERIE RAILROAD ROW.
"Man and boy," said old John Adams, “I have known New York politics for sixty years, and to me they have always been the devil's own incomprehensible.” The element of incomprehensibility, noticed by the second President, without disappearing from the politics of the Empire State, has since extended to her law, which puzzles and confounds the mind of the foreign advocate now, as did her politics the instinct of the statesman then. This paper has been entitled the Erie railroad “Row," simply because the litigations which disgraced the New York courts in the spring of 1868, and which arose out of the operations of those contending for the control of that road, are deserving of no other
Such an extraordinary perversion of the process of law; such an utter absence of respect for the bench; such contempt for the forms and courts of justice as was then exhibited, - ought not to pass unnoticed. There is in it that which should give pause to the community, and challenge an instant of reflection. It illustrates several things ; it may, in one point of view, be regarded as a significant indication of the spirit of the times; or, in another, as a development of the moral condition of our greatest city ; or, again, as a picture of prevailing morals and manners; or, perhaps, it might throw some light on the practical working and tendencies of an elective judiciary. Possibly, from a severe study of the proceedings in their various forms, the patient student at the New York bar might arrive at some insight into the principles of practice under the Code, or of the New York law as it emanates from the successors of Kent. As, however, the Code is a mystery of little interest to the outer world, and as the successors of Kent are such only in form, it would hardly be worth while to go far below the surface of this extraordinary legal episode in search of any erudite legal principles which may there be concealed.
On Monday, the 17th of February last, Mr. Frank Work, a director of the Erie Railroad, appeared, by Messrs. Rapallo and Spencer, his attorneys, before George G. Barnard, a justice of