Chapter 17: London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December, 1838.—Age, 27.
To George S. Hillard, Boston.London, Nov. 4, 1838.my dear Hillard,—I do not delay one moment to acknowledge the receipt of your touching letter, communicating the intelligence of the death of your dear child.1 Would that these lines could go to you as swiftly as my sympathy! I sorrow with you from the bottom of my heart, and I fear that the lightsome letters which I have written latterly, all unconscious of your bereavement, may have seemed to flout your grief. I have been rejoicing while you have been sad; I have been passing, with joy lighting my steps, from one pleasant abode to another, while you have been sitting still in the house of mourning. Would that I could have shaken to you some of the superflux of happiness which has been my lot, and received upon my abler shoulders something of that burden under which I fear you may faint! I opened your letter this morning, by the faint light of dawn, on my arrival from Holkham,—after a long night's journey. I knew, of course, the familiar hand, and hurriedly broke the seal to get those tidings of my friends, which, amidst all that has befallen me, come like refreshing airs. I pitied you and your wife; but rejoiced when I read that she bore her loss with calmness. It is hardly for me to whisper consolation to you. Though not unconscious of sorrow myself, I have never yet felt such a bereavement as yours; I cannot, therefore, speak with the authority of suffering. But I can well imagine that, even to you, desolate as you are, there may be society of the richest kind in the cherished image of that dear creature, whose body has been taken from you,—in the recollection of his expanding faculties, his tender smiles, and, above all, his unsullied purity of soul. Think of him where he is, his own pure spirit mingling with the greatness and goodness that have been called away before him, nor finding aught purer or more  acceptable than itself. And has he not escaped toils and trials, which would perhaps—if he had lived to encounter them—have made him mourn that he was born? These are stale topics, which will not, I fear, reach the depths of your sorrow. Let me, however, urge you to renounce, as a false indulgence, what I would call the luxury of grief. Think with gladness that God has cast such a sunbeam across your path, though for a short time, and followed by clouds and darkness; and be consoled by calling to mind the present bliss of your boy, and your own sterling performance of the duties of a father. . . . I feel ashamed almost to have written what I have; it is all so tame, and commonplace, and unsatisfactory. But you have poured out your heart in that most beautiful letter; and I could not rest easy till I had tendered you my sympathy in that way and language which, for the moment, has seemed most appropriate. Let me know that you are calm and happy, and believe me, with new ardor, Affectionately yours,
To Judge Story, Cambridge.London, Nov. 4, 1838.my dear Judge,—Once more in London, this mighty concentration of human energies, wishes, disappointments, joys, and sorrows! Its vastness is inconceivable and untold. I last wrote you from Wentworth House, the proud seat of Lord Fitzwilliam. Since then I have passed over a considerable tract of country,—have seen York Minster, so venerable for its antiquity, so rich in Gothic ornament, and perambulated the walls of that ancient city; visited Hull on the eastern coast of England, seen the brass statue of William III. on horseback, which adorns its principal square, crossed the broad Humber while a hurricane was blowing, and driven by the storm sought shelter for the first time in my life in the inside of the coach,—to my joy and astonishment found that I could bear the confinement without sickness,—and arrived at Boston. How I thrilled when I saw a guide-board on the road pointing ‘to Boston!’ But I did not find that neat, trim, well-ordered place which I had always known under that name. They were engaged in their caucuses for municipal elections; and I was curious to go to the meetings of both parties. They were in different inns; the tables were covered with long pipes and mugs, and the village politicians were puffing and discussing and sipping their porter, in a style that would make a very good caricature print in the book illustrative of English manners and society, which I shall not write! I went to the venerable Guildhall; penetrated even to its kitchen, and inspected the spit, now rusty in these days of reform, on which for generations had revolved the meats that were to make glad the stomachs of the fathers of the town. From Boston went to Lynn, an ancient and commercial place of about fourteen thousand inhabitants, passing over the spot where King John lost his baggage, and over the Wash. . . .  Arrived at Holkham, the superb seat of Lord Leicester, better known as Mr. Coke. After four days at Holkham, where were Lords Spencer and Ebrington,2 Edward Ellice,3 &c., got into the mail which drives through Lord Leicester's park, rode inside all night, and this morning arrived in London. Now for Westminster Hall. Mr. Justice Vaughan is afraid there will be no room for me on the full bench, but still thinks I may sit between him and Lord Chief-Justice Tindal. This I resolutely decline. I will not sit on the bench. The Queen's counsel row is surely enough. As ever, affectionately yours,C. S.P. S. You have received doubtless the edition by Maxwell of your ‘Equity Pleadings.’ He has received a very flattering note about it from Mr. Wigram, one of the leaders of the Chancery Bar.
To Judge Story.London, Nov. 16, 1888.my dear Judge,—It is mid-day, and yet I am writing by candlelight. Such is a London fog. I am knocked up by a cold, and have determined to avoid Westminster Hall to-day and to keep in the house, hoping to be well enough to dine with Bingham this evening. The Attorney-General asked me, a few days ago, for some American references that would bear upon the case of Stockdale v. Hansard,4 wherein the question arises whether the House of Commons could privilege a libellous publication. I have written him in reply, stating that no such question had yet risen among us; but that the matter of contempts had been discussed repeatedly in the United States, and have referred him to your ‘Commentaries on the Constitution’ for the completest view of the subject. The Attorney further asked me to write to you, to ascertain if you were aware of any  authorities or discussions in the United States which would reflect light upon the question. . . . Sir William Follett's grand reputation you well know. If the Tories should come into power, and he would accept the place, I think it more than probable that he could be Lord Chancellor. Sir Edward Sugden is on the shelf completely;5 and the immoralities of Lord Lyndhurst render him not very agreeable to Sir Robert Peel. But I will not discuss these things now; I shall soon send you a ‘many-sheeter,’ or several letters, in which I will give you sketches of all the judges and lawyers, reporters, &c. I need not say that I now know nearly all, and with many have contracted relations of intimacy and familiarity which I have not with any member of the bar in America (except Greenleaf), between whom and myself there is the same disparity of age. All the serjeants and Queen's counsel I know; but of this hereafter. Mr. Burge has sent me his work on Colonial Law6. . . . Remember me as ever to your family, and believe me, As ever, affectionately yours,
London, Nov. 16, 1838.my dear Hillard,—. . . I am oppressed by the vastness and variety of this place. Put two Bostons, two New Yorks, two Philadelphias, and two Baltimores all together, and you may have an idea of London. There is no way in which one is more struck by its size than by seeing the variety and extent of its society. In all our towns a stranger would meet every day in society some of the persons, perhaps all, that he met yesterday. In London, one has an infinite variety. Take my case: I have been in town only a few days; I first dined at the Garrick Club, where was James Smith, giving in the most quiet way the social experiences of his long life; Poole, the author of ‘Paul Pry,’ sitting silently and tremblingly in a corner, beneath a fine painting of John Kemble; the editors of the ‘Times’ and ‘Globe’ laughing and dining together, not remembering the morning and evening severities in which they had indulged; Hayward, poor in health, taking a light dinner; Stephen Price sipping his gin and water, &c. Next I dined with Mr. Justice Vaughan and Lady St. John en famille; next with Baron Alderson, where we had Sir Gregory Lewin,7 Sir Francis Palgrave,8 Serjeant Talfourd, and Lockhart; next with the Lord Mayor at Guildhall;  next passed the day at