previous next

[331] and yet with mildness and suavity which cannot fail to charm. His high personal character and his unbending morals have given an elevated tone to the bar, and make one forget the want, perhaps, of thorough learning. In conversation he is plain, unaffected, and amiable. I talked with him much of Lord Brougham. He assured me that Brougham was one of the greatest judges that ever sat on the woolsack, and that posterity would do him justice when party asperities had died away.1 (Of Lord B. by-and-by.) I told Lord Denman the opinion you had formed of Lord B., from reading his judgments; and his Lordship said that he was highly gratified to hear it. Denman called the wig ‘the silliest thing in England,’ and hoped to be able to get rid of it. He is trying to carry a bill through the Lords, allowing witnesses to affirm in cases of conscientious scruples,2 and inquired of me about the practice in America; but he said he could not venture to allude to any American usage in the Lords, for it would tell against his measure. Think of this! I must not omit to mention that Lord Denman has invited me to visit him on the Home Circuit, where I shall certainly go, as also to the Western; and to the North Welsh Circuit,—perhaps also the Oxford; and, the greatest of all, the Northern. To all of these I have had most cordial invitations.

I have heard Lord Brougham despatch several cases in the Privy Council; and one or two were matters with which I was entirely familiar. I think I understand the secret of his power and weakness as a judge; and nothing that I have seen or heard tends to alter the opinion I had formed. As a judge, he is electric in the rapidity of his movements: he looks into the very middle of the case when counsel are just commencing, and at once says, ‘There is such a difficulty [mentioning it] to which you must address yourself; and, if you can't get over that, I am against you.’ In this way he saves time, and gratifies his impatient spirit; but he offends counsel. Here is the secret. I have heard no other judge (except old Allan Park) interrupt counsel in the least. In the mean time, Brougham is restless at table, writes letters; and, as Baron Parke assured me (Parke sits in the Privy Council), wrote his great article3 in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ for April last at the table of the Privy Council. I once saw the usher bring to him a parcel of letters, probably from the mail,—I should think there must have been twenty-five,—and he opened and read them, and strewed the floor about him with envelopes; and still the argument went on. And very soon Brougham pronounced the judgment in rapid, energetic, and perspicuous language,—better than I have heard from any other judge on the bench. I have already quoted the opinion of Denman. Barristers with whom I

1 See ‘Life of Lord Denman,’ Vol. I. p. 257, for Denman's opinion expressed in the House of Commons, Dec. 16, 1830, in relation to Brougham's probable success as an equity judge.

2 He brought the bill forward, first, in 1838, again in 1842, and again in 1849,—each time without success. The measure became a law in 1854,—the year of his death,—by virtue of the twentieth clause of the Common Law Procedure Act, which was extended to other courts by later acts. ‘Life of Lord Denman,’ Vol. II. pp. 72, 106, 216, 217.

3 Ante p. 318.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
H. Brougham (4)
James Parke (2)
Edinburgh Review (1)
Allan Park (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1854 AD (1)
1849 AD (1)
1842 AD (1)
1838 AD (1)
December 16th, 1830 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: