« ZurückWeiter »
as a lawyer has ben already dated, and univerfally acknowledged. He therefore begs leave briefly to confine himfelf to a few traits, which eminently diftinguifhed his lordfhip in private life, where he (bone, if poffible, with greater luftre than in the more elevated departments of a ilatelman and a judge.
"Few noblemen have had that happy method of combining dignity with wifdom, and liberality with frugality, equal to lord Maiiffield. Every thing in and about his manfion had the appearance of fplendor and plenty, without that fhow of oftentation and wafte, which difgufts every fenfible mind; and which, at the fame time it gives an idea of the wealth, ftrik.es us with the folly of the poffclTor, By his fervants he was confidered rather as a father and patron than a mailer: many of them lived with him fo many years that they were fit for no other fervice; and peace, plenty, and happinefs, were depicted in the countenance «if every domeftic. His lordfhip's charities, which ■were infinitely more extenfive than is generally imagined, were given away and diffufed with good fenle and noblenefs of mind rarely equalled; fixpences, (hillings, and half-crowns, he feldom conferred, confidering fuch fums as doing no real good, as the objeft fo relieved would, 011 the day following the donation, be equally diftrefled as on the day preceding it; but, when by fums of ten or twenty guineas he could relieve the virtuous and neceflitated from embarraflrnents by debt, by ficknefs, or otherwife, and put them in a way to provide for themfelves and families, he did it cheerfully, and with that eafe and good-nature, which, infiead of wounding, encouraged the feelings of the receiver, and always, if poffible, with fuch fecrecy and quiet*
nefs as if be would not bare his left hand know what his right hand did. Although his lordfhip's powers in convention were uncommonly great, yet he never affumed a more than equal (hare of it to himfelf, and was always as ready to hear as he was to deliver an opinion. The faculty of converting with eafe and propriety he retained •to the very laft; and he was as quick at reply'In his latter years as at any period of his life; whether he fupported his own argument, or refuted thofe of his adversary, his obfervations were delivered with that judgment and grace which evinced the precifion of a fcholar and the elegance of a gentleman. He was a fincere Chriftian without bigotry or hypocrify, and he frequently received the facrament, both before and after he ceafed to leave home: and there was con« ftantly that decorum, that exemplary regularity to be feen in every department of his houfehold, which would have done credit to the palace of an archbifliop.
"Such were the virtues, fuch the endowments, and rare qualifications, which pervaded, eherifhed, and adorned his private life.' Thefe he feduloufly cultivated and difleminated through a long lite. How powerful was their coincidence, how happy their effects!
"We are arrived at a period which is in genereal painful to relate —the laft hours of a great man! or of a real friend! yet when we calmly confider the very advanced age of lord Mansfield, and the whole tenor of his long life, we may fairly draw this conclufiou. that for once dead had loft his fting, and was no longer to him a king of terrors.
"In many conferences with his friend and phyficianDr.Tu rton,during the three or four laft years of' 4>J tlte the earl's life, his lordfliip had obferved, how hard it was, that an old mao on the verge of fonrfcore and ten year*, could not be perfnitfed to die quietly To felect a more ftriking iuftance, a few years before his deceafe, he lay for a time in a (ta c of iufenfibility: by means of biifters, and other phyfical efforts, returning life enabled him to chiile his ph'. lirian. by alking a queffion tquaiiy uiicommon and unexpected—' VV' hv did you endea "'TViE admirers of lord Manf
* vour to bring me back when I
* was fo far gone in my journey?'
"Early in .\.arcli, 1793, 'orc' Stormont having occafion to confult his uncle on a law-cafe then depending in the houfe of lords, faid his ideas and rccolie&ion were perfeftly clear.
"On Sunday, March the 10th, his lordfliip did not talk at breakfaft as ufual, but feemed heavy, and complained of being very fleepy, and his pulfe was low; vohtiles and cordials were ordered for him, and cantliarides were applied te the ifliies. On the Monday he feemed rather better. On Tuefday morning he defired to be got up and taken to his chair; but foon wifned to be put to bed again; and faid, 'Let-' me deep—let me
* fleep.' After this he never fpoke. On his return to bed he feemed perfectly eafy, breathed freely and uninterruptedly like a child, with as calm and ferene a countenance as in
his befl health, and had a good pulfir, but was clearly void both of fenfe and fen Ability. A blifter was applied to the arm, which it affected no more than it would any inanimate fabftance. Scotch fnufF was inferted into the noftrils by means of a feather, without the leaft effect. Some attempts were alfo made to get nourifhmeiit down by means of a fpoon, but to no purpofe; and, as the laft attempt had nearly choaked him, it was defifted from, and his moLth was afterwards merely moiftened by a feather dipt in wine and water. In this ftate his lordfliip continued without any apparent alteration, forrie fymptoms of the vital fpark remaining, yet glimmering faintly, till the morning of Monday the 18th, wben there was an appearance of mortification on the part mod prefled by lying, and his pulfe began to beat feebly. Fears were now entertained that he fhould awake to mifery, which he fortunately did not; but continued to fleep quietly till the night of Wednesday the ao.'h, when the lingering dying taper was quite extinguifhed. He expired without a groan, in the 89th year of his age; doling a long life of honor to himfelf, and great nfe to fociety, in a way the nnoft to be defired: and it may be faid of bis lordfliip, as it was of king David, that he died in good old age, full of days, riches, and honour,"
Other Anecdotes llluftrative of Loud Mansfield's Judicial, and 01 his Political Character.
[From the First Volume ofBiosrAphical, LiterAry, and PoliTical Anecdotes, of feveral of the moft eminent Wen of the prefect Age.]
-1- field have always fhewn themfelves difiatisfied with any flatement of fuch parts of his conduct as tended to the diminution of his celebrity. They aflert his impartiality, his wifdom, his penetration and patience.
"On the contrary, thofe perfons who have declared his lordfhip capable of committing every enormity whenever he had opportunity to advance the power of the crown, or trefpafs on the liberty of the fubjecr, have been offended whenever he has been complimented with the title's of a great lawyer, and an upright judge. They arraign his principles of law, and deny his impartiality.
"Between thefe extremes, lord Mansfield's true character will not be eafily nor perhaps accurately defined. That it lay between them is true; but to which it moft inclined, may, in the opinion of fome perfons, be'difficult to afcertain."
"During the whole adminiftration of the Pelhams, he adhered to the whigs, and particularly to Mr. Pelham, whofe confidence he obtained much In the fame way that his friend Mr. Stone obtained that of the duke of Newcaftle. They (Stone and Murray) were accufed of being Jacobites, and the accufation was brought before the , houfe of lords. But they had dexterity and influence fnftkient to flop the progrefs of the inquiry. Mr. Stone then being fub-governor So the prince (the prefeat king)
was fuppofed, by fome people, to conduct himfelf in the capacity of a double fpy. He owed his appointment to the duke of New* caftle, for thepurpofe(as was con* je&ured) of giving the duke infermation of the proceedings and tranfaftions of Leicefter-houfe, and preferved his interelt at Leicefterhoufe by giving information to lord Bute of the defigns and transactions of the miniftry, in which he was afliftcd by his friend lord Mansfield, then Mr.Murray. Whether thefe opinions are ftri&ly correct or not, it is certain that lord Bute had authentic information of all the projects and meafures of the miniftry, even at the time when the politics of St. James's and Leicefter-houfe differed moft.
"It has been the great felicity of lord Mansfield's reputation, that his conduct has generally been viewed on the favourable fide only; and that fuch detached parts of it as reflected moft to his honour have been principally thofe which have been neld up to public view. If the whole of his conduft had been fairly and impartially examined, it would in manv points have brought to our remembnnce the conduct of thofe learned chiefs, Trefylian. Keyling, ^croggs, Jefferyes, and fome others."
"It i-> generally allowed, that in moft cafes between fnbjeft audi fubjtft, he (hewed great penerration and judgment. He poflefled a talent, if it may be called fo, of difcovering the merits of a canfe' D 4 before
before it was half heard. This quicknefs, however, fometimes betrayed him into too early a pro;poison in favour ot one of the parties. And in this precipitation he was rnore than once or twice unjuft. So difficult it is, for the mod acute underftanding, at all times, to discover hidden truths; and fo dangerous it is, to entertain a conceit of pofleffing, by intuition, a talent fuperior to the reft of mankind. Yet this is perfectly true of lord Mansfield. Some lawyers have occafionaily afli.in.ed a courSe of imitation; but the attempt has been fo'cluinfy and inadequate, it Scarcely deferves the name of a caricature.
"In all thofe political caufes concerning the prefs, in which the crown was party, lie was partial in the extreme. His rule of law uniformly was, that the crown was never wrong in thofe caufes. To the liberty of the prefs he was a fincere and implacable enemy. His. definition of this liberty was, a • permiffion to print without a licenfe, what formerly could only be printed with one. In trials for libels, he has been heard to deliver fuch language from the bench, as ought to have flufhed the jury with indignation. In thofe trials, his invariable practice was, in his charge to the jury, to make a laboured reply to the defendant's counfel. Will any candid perfon fay this was proper conduft in a judgj, who ought to be ftri&ly impartial? This is not the language of prejudice—for the truth of it an appeal may" fafely be made to all thofe perfons who are yet alive, who heard him upon thofe occafions.
"But a Stronger proof cannot be given of lord Mansfield's general mifconduft and mif-dire&ions to juries, in cafes of libels, than the
late declaratory aft of parliament' of the rights of juries, which was brought forward by iVJr. Fox aiid Mr, Erfkine, and was Supported by a confiderable part of the miniftry. The artful and dangerous practices of lord Mansfield in thefc political trials, fo interefting to public liberty, to which he had through life mod tenacioufly adhered, and had ardently maintained to be law, were totally annihilated and done away. Junes were reftored to their conftitutional rights which fixes upon his memory and character a more indelible Stigma, than could have been inflicted by an article of impeachment. The many tranSgreffions he had committed on law, juftice, and humanity, rendered this a£l of parliament absolutely neceflary. Lord Camden, though far advanced in years, vigoroufly Supported the bill in the houfe of lords, and condemned all* lord Mansfield's doctrines in terms of juft afperity.
"There is a faft not Icfs refpefting lord Mansfield's favourite opinion', tUan his great defign upon the rights of juries, in all queifions concerning the liberty of the prefs, which diftinguifhes him to have been from principle, as well as ftudy, perhaps, the moft dangerous enemy to the conftitutional rights of juries, that ever fat in a court of juftice, fiuce the time of the ltarchamber.
"The iaft here alluded to, happened on the trial of John Williams, in the month of July, 1764, for re publifhing the North Briton in volumes Serjeant Glynn, who was counfel for Williams, Slid, with a ftrong emphafis,
• That in the matter of libel, they 'were the proper judges of the
* law, as well as the h&; that they 4 had the full right to determine, 'whether the defendant had pub* Jiflied the North Briton with the
* intent as laid in the Attorney-ge4 nerai's information.' Lord Manffield flopped him fhort, ancfdeclared in a very ffron^ ami menacing manner, 'That if ferjeant Glynn 4 aflcrted that doclriiie asain, ,he 4 (lord Mansfield) would take the 4 opinion of the twelve judges upon 4 it.' The learned ferjeant inftanrly faw the fnare, and the defign that was concealed under it. He was fenfible of the danger to public liberty, in fubmitting a queftion which was to be worded by lord Mansfield upon the rights of juries, to the opinions of the twelve judges at that time. No one could doubt that a confidereble majority of the twelve judge* would confirm all lord Mansfield's doctrine concerning iibejs, and particularly all his lprdfhip's limitations of the rights of juries. The learned ferjeant therefore, with great prudence, and a great regard for the rights of juries, faw that it was more proper to fubmit, than to give lord Manffield an opportunity of obtaining an authoritative confirmation of his innovations in the conftitution. Thus, by a device of lord Manffield, the rights of jurits upon this great point hung as it were upon a fingle thread. Well might judge Willes fay, « Mark htm ." Had lord Mansfield's project taken effeft; and had the majority of the judges acquiefced, of which it is more than probable he had no doubt, it nxuft have been extremely difficult, and next to an impoffibility, ever to have recovered the rights of juries, which lord Mansfield had ufurped, and which ufurpation had been confirmed by the judges.
44 Upon another occafion, lord Mansfield attempted the fame device, but the weaknefs of his nerves prerented the defign being carried »nto effect. This was in the year
1770, when he gave a paper to the clerk of the houfe of lords, containing the opinion of the court of King's Bench, upon one of the trials of Junhis's Letters.
•'The houfe of lords wasfummoned at the requeft of lord Mansfield, • on Monday the eleventh day of December. Great expectations were raifed. Lord Mansfield's doctrines concerning libels had been much canvafled in the houfe of commons, in confluence of a motion made by ferjeant Glynn; it was therefore fuppofed and . believed, that his lordfhip intended to bring the fubjeft before- the houfe of lords. And, probably, that was his original intention. But when the houife met (on the eleventh of December) his lordfhip only faid, that he had left a paper containing the opinion of the court of King's Bench with the clerk; and that their_ lord (hips might read it, and take copies of it. [The paper, and lord Camden's anfwer, are printed in all the parliamentary debates.]
"It is fcarcely poffible to conceive any thing more ridiculous than this was. He certainly mull have changed his intention, for no perfon will credit that he had the houfe fummened for the paltry purpofe of telling their lordfliips he had left a paper with the clerk. Lord Camden aiked him, if he meant to have his paper entered upon the journals? 'No! no!' faid lord Mansfield, 'only to leava 'it with the clerk.'
"Next day lord Camden attacked lord Mansfield pretty fliarply on the fubject of his paper, and put federal quefiions to him concerning the fer.fe of it. Lord. Mansfield faid it was taking him by furprife, and that he would not anfwer interrogatories. Lord Camden defired that a day might be fixed for his lordfhip to give his 1 anfwers;