Mr. Erskine at Baron Alderson's the day of his appointment. He is a very quiet, modest, and gentlemanly person; and these qualities, united to the great name he bears (he is the second son of the Erskine), make his appointment quite acceptable to the bar,—though they do not generally regard him as an addition to the strength of the bench; and his promotion does not devolve more business upon rising juniors, as would that of a prominent leader. Baron Parke, however, thinks his services will be valuable, and regards the appointment as an excellent one. Being the son of a Lord, and with the prefix of ‘Honorable,’ he will not be knighted, as the other judges are. Passing to the Exchequer, we have, first, the Lord Chief-Baron,—Abinger.1 You know his wonderful success at the bar,—confessedly the greatest advocate of his time, yet never eloquent, and supposed by all to be the most competent person possible for the bench; and in this opinion all would have persevered, nisi regnasset. He is the great failure of Westminster Hall. To his own incompetency he added last term a jealousy of Barons Alderson and Parke. He wants the judicial capacity: he was so old before he reached the bench that he could not assume new habits. I should, however, do him injustice, if I did not tell you that Mr. Maule—one of the first lawyers in Westminster Hall—told me that he was mending; that he had given up all idea of competing with Parke and Alderson in technical learning and subtlety, and seemed now to aim directly at the common sense of a case,— a habit quite valuable in a judge supported by such learned associates. In person Lord Abinger is large and rather full, or round: he is the largest judge on the bench. He has become a thorough Tory; and in society, I think, is cold and reserved. Brougham says that Scarlett was once speaking of Laplace's ‘Mecanique Celeste’ at Holland House as a very easy matter; Brougham told him he could not read it, and doubted if he could do a sum in algebraical addition. One was put, and the future Lord Abinger failed; and, as Lord B. said, he did not know so much about it as a ‘pot-house boy.’ It was reported in Westminster Hall that arrangements were recently attempted to procure his retirement in favor of his son-in-law, the Attorney-General; but unsuccessfully. Baron Parke2 is the senior puisne judge. He is about fifty-six years old; is rather above the common size, quite erect, and with eyes the brightest I ever saw. He is always dressed with great care, and in the evening wears a blue coat and bright buttons,—which is also the dress of Lord Abinger and several other judges. He is a man of society, and succeeds to a remarkable extent in uniting a devotion to this with great attention to his elevated judicial duties. He is also not a little conceited and vain. Lady Parke is a person of remarkable personal attractions for her
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 16 : events at home.—Letters of friends.— December , 1837 , to March , 1839 .—Age 26 - 28 .
Chapter 17 : London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 18 : Stratford-on-avon.—Warwick.—London.—Characters of judges and lawyers.—authors.—society.— January , 1839 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 19 : Paris again.— March to April , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 20 : Italy .— May to September , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 21 : Germany .— October , 1839 , to March , 1840 .—Age, 28 - 29 .
Chapter 22 : England again, and the voyage home.— March 17 to May 3 , 1840 . —Age 29 .
Chapter 23 : return to his profession.— 1840 - 41 .—Age, 29 - 30 .
Chapter 24 : Slavery and the law of nations.— 1842 .—Age, 31 .
Chapter 25 : service for Crawford .—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.— 1843 .—Age, 32 .
Chapter 27 : services for education.—prison discipline.—Correspondence.— January to July , 1845 .—age, 34 .
Chapter 28 : the city Oration,— the true grandeur of nations. —an argument against war.— July 4 , 1845 .—Age 34 .
1 James Scarlett was born in Jamaica, in 1769; called to the bar in 1791; made Attorney-General in 1827; Chief-Baron of the Exchequer in Dec., 1834, and a peer the next month, as Baron Abinger. He presided in the Exchequer until his death in 1844. His failure as a judge was hardly less conspicuous than his success at the bar. Lord Brougham has given a sketch of him in his ‘Autobiography,’ Vol. III. Chap. XXVIII.
2 Ante, Vol. I. p. 321.
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