years. They have a daughter who goes with them into society, who is quite pretty. All have the reputation of being very fond of the highest society. You know Baron Parke from the books, as well as I. I think the profession place him at the head of the bench; the only two to be compared with him are Alderson and Patteson. Alderson is hasty and crotchety. Parke is also open, in some degree, to the same objection. He is not what you would call fluent on the bench; though there is no particular want of words. I think he could not have been eloquent at the bar. He is evidently a well-read lawyer; and yet he is not a jurist. You will understand my meaning. I know of but one jurist in Westminster Hall; and that is Charles Austin,—brother of John,—of whom I will speak by-and-by. I dined in company with Baron Parke a few days ago; and he told me he had just been reading your ‘Bailments,’ which has been republished here. Next is Baron Alderson.1 He and Baron Parke were both of the Northern Circuit, which has given more judges than any other to Westminster Hall. Abinger, Parke, Alderson, Tindal, Coltman, Williams, and one other,—I forget which,—were all of this circuit. I have written you so much and often about Alderson that I have little to add. Like Parke, he is a Tory; I have heard them both called ‘bitter Tories.’ He has not the air and manner of Parke. Indeed, he is gauche, and abrupt and uneven in his voice. He is an excellent scholar; and when at Cambridge he carried away at the same time the highest classical and mathematical prizes of the University,—a conjunction that has very rarely occurred. He is now about fifty, has light hair, and a high forehead. I have heard from him a higher display of the judicial talent than from any other judge in England. The bar, however, think him often unsafe. Some dislike him on account of his Toryism, others from pique and imagined personal coldness or insult. I think that he has more enemies—or, rather, more who call him hard names—than any other judge in Westminster Hall. Lady Alderson is a modest, quiet person, with a young family; she is the sister of Lady Gifford,— the dowager of the late Lord Gifford. It was to Baron Alderson that I was indebted for an introduction to the latter lady, and also to the Bishop of Durham.2 Lockhart seems to be quite a friend of Alderson. I have always met him when I have been at the Baron's. Alderson has a good deal of dry humor. It was he who said, on Brougham being made Lord Chancellor: ‘If his Lordship knew a little law, he would know a little of every thing.’ Of the other two barons of the Exchequer I literally know nothing. Baron Gurney3 is old, and appears infirm. I never meet him or hear of him in society. On the bench he is always silent, and indeed is dead weight.
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 Ante, Vol. I. p. 362.
3 John Gurney, 1768-1845. He was called to the bar in 1793; assisted Erskine in the trials of Hardy and Horne Tooke; became, after a long training at the bar, a baron of the Exchequer in 1832, and resigned in 1845. His son, Russell Gurney, has been Recorder of London, and was, in 1871, a commissioner on behalf of Great Britain under the Treaty of Washington.
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