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[330] and really ill (being beaten out by dining in society, and often breakfasting and lunching in the same way every day for more than a month); but they treated me very kindly: and Sir Peter Laurie, the late Lord Mayor, proposed my health in a very complimentary speech, in the course of which he ‘hoped that he might have the honor of calling me his friend,’ &c. I rose at once, and replied in a plain way, without a single premeditated thought or expression, and found myself very soon interrupted by ‘hears;’ and Littledale and Park and Vaughan all gave me more hearty applause. As I sat down, Vaughan cried to me: ‘Sumner, you've hit them between wind and water!’ I should not omit to mention that I simply expressed, in my remarks, the deep affection which all educated Americans owe to England; that we look upon her with a filial regard; that in her churchyards are the bones of our fathers: and then I touched upon the interest which I, a professional man, felt in being permitted to witness the administration of justice here; and concluded by proposing the health of the judges of England,—‘always honorable, impartial, and learned.’ Mr. Charles Phillips1 (the notorious Irish orator), was at the table. I wish I were at home, to give you personal sketches of the lawyers and judges. My heart overflows when I attempt to speak of them; their courtesy and high sense of honor you have never overrated. The bench and the bar seem to be fellow-laborers in the administration of justice. Among the judges for talent, attainment, and judicial penetration, the palm seems to be conceded to Baron Parke,—a man of about fifty or fifty-five, with a very keen, penetrating, chestnut eye, and an intellectual countenance. At his table I met the chief barristers of the Western Circuit,—Erle, Manning, Bompas, Rogers, Douglas, &c.; and they have invited me, very kindly, to visit their circuit. At table, after Lady Parke had left, I put to the Baron and the bar the question on which you have expressed an opinion, in the second volume of my ‘Reports,’2 with regard to the power of a jury to disobey the instructions of the court on a question of law in rendering a general verdict; and on which, you know, Baldwin 3 has expressed an opinion opposite to yours. Parke at once exclaimed, and Erle and Bompas chimed in, that there was no possible ground of question; that a court should instruct a jury to take the law absolutely as it is laid down from the bench; and that a jury should not presume, because it has the physical power, to pronounce upon the law. I was quite amused to see how instantaneously they all gave judgment in the matter, and what astonishment they expressed when I assured them that some persons held otherwise in America.

I have recently breakfasted with Lord Denman, as I was so engaged as not to be able to accept his invitation to dinner. Bland, noble Denman! On the bench he is the perfect model of a judge,—full of dignity and decision,


1 1787-1859. He was born in Sligo; removed to London in 1821, where he was often counsel in criminal trials, and became, in 1846, Commissioner of the Insolvent Debtors' Court.

2 United States v. Battiste, 2 Sumner's Reports, p. 240.

3 United States v. Wilson, Baldwin's Reports, p. 78.

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