« AnteriorContinuar »
it is at home.” He is now old,* but he has lived long enough for glory: and whenever he passes away, he will leave a memory equally venerable for talents, integrity, and services done to the State ; and, as far as I have ever heard, unsullied with one considerable stain.
LORD ELDON. R. MUDIE.—“ Babylon the Great." You enter the House of Lords just as the Chancellor has taken his seat upon the woolsack, and while there is no other person in the House, save a casual Bishop.— The Chancellor is the only person you behold, sitting with the imperturbable serenity and unbroken cheerfulness of a Brahmin at his devotions, amid the richness of some Indian solitude. You cannot help feeling pleased that you are enabled thus to contemplate this man,-many would compliment him by saying this nobleman this foremost of England's Peers, in importance of office, and (discounting prejudices) in clearness and in grasp of intellectmany would compliment Lord Eldon thus; but, it is more due to his being the architect of his own fortunes,—to his unbounded knowledge of justice and of equity between man and man-to his unwearied attention to his professional and parliamentary duties—to his undeviating straight-forwardness in his political course, erring and antiquated as that course may be, which will not bend itself to the line, or come out to the light of the spirit and practice of an ever-changing world, to pay the tribute to man ! You are pleased, and you have great reason to be pleased, that you are enabled to contemplate Lord Eldon, without any thing to distract your observation or disturb your reflections; and when you look upon him, you cannot but feel that you are looking at a personage of no every-day occurrence. The lines of his face, deeply as they are marked, have none of those twistings and angularities which say that the spirit within (whatever may be its strength, or its sparkling), is apt to be blown about by the winds of adverse passions. There is a shrewdness
a perfect approfondissement in every point of his At the time of the third edition of the Rhetorical Reader's going to press, this venerable ornament of his country was in the enjoyment of tolerable health, though in the 90th year of his age. His Lordship died in 1836, in his 91st year.
visage, which shows you that his mind can in an instant scan the whole, and measure the parts, of the most extensive and most complicated subject that can come before him ; there is a firmness, and yet a softness and repose, in the strong muscles above his lips, which at once tell you that he will never utter what he does not himself believe, and that he will never utter it in a way which shall not be agreeable. His eyes, though they have the stillness and the apparent depth of mountain lakes when the wind dares not even whisper ; and though they indicate that some profound mental operation is going on within, --some knotty point, darkened by all the sophistry of the bar, and damaged by the blundering of less clear-headed men of the bench, is in the act of being resolved, and brought back again to clearness and consistency—or some deeply laid and cunningly conducted fraud, by which generations unborn were all but spoiled of their heritage, is in the very' act of being detected, exposed, put an end to,—though they tell you this, they have none of that dull filminess, that oblivious glimmer of hunting after thought, which deadens the eyes of minor men while in cogitation upon minor subjects : there plays a gentleness, a perfect good humour, a wit happy and harmless as that of an infant, and a something else which no one can name, about them, which, if
have any speculation in you at all, force you to come to the conclusion, that the cheerfulness which Lord Eldon has uniformly possessed during the very long period of his labours, is a cheerfulness resulting from the consciousness of having done his DUTY,—a consciousness in which, if you be free from prejudice, you cannot bring yourself to believe that he is mistaken.- Altogether, Lord Eldon is an uncommon man ;-uncommon, not in a party or an administration merely, but uncommon in a nation or an ageeven in nations or ages. Even his enemies, and they have been neither few nor silent, must concede to him the possession of natural talents and capacities of the very highest order ; nor can they deny to him the largest stock of acquired knowledge --that is, more especially, of acquired legal knowledge, of any man now living. That Lord Eldon—that the humbly descended, and for a long time unsuccessful and neglected, John Scott, should have risen to the very summit of trust-worthy and political office,-should have been for so long a period Lord Chancellor of England and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, is equally creditable to himself and to his country ! *
* The county of Northumberland may well be proud of having given
and of man,
R. MudiE.—“ Babylon the Great.” The Peers of Parliament are as thoroughly imbued with the principles and the love of liberty, and with the knowledge of every thing that can advance the interests of society, as any class of British subjects. Nor are they the less likely to exercise those feelings and defend those rights, because they are somewhat more measured in their temper and their eloquence than the members of the other House. One of their Lordships—in point of ardent love of liberty
-a man in whom the sheer and almost unbidden power of genius planted itself with a firmness, and shot up with a strength and a sublimity, to which there is nothing counterpart in the recent annals of the world. Born not under the most auspicious circumstances, and nurtured not upon the world's most flowery side, a portion of the genuine spirit of man-an intense breathing of that afflatus which not all the Courts and all the Colleges in the world can inspire, came upon the Hon. Thomas Erskine, and enabled him, in the teeth of many an adverse circumstance, to make a stand for English liberty, and take a station among British patriots, of which the genuine instances are but too easily numbered.
When a general movement toward revolution on the part of nations, and a general disposition to meet that movement with haughtiness and harshness on the part of their rulers, threatened to lacerate the social compact in many of the European states—when the government of this country, yet feeling the disgrace and defeat which it had sustained from its own colonists in the West, and dreading the dark clouds which were every where collecting in the most lowering and appalling shapes in the East, was disturbed from its usual wisdom, and driven away from its usual paternal solicitude, for the happiness, the prosperity, and
prosperity, and the liberty of its subjects, and proceeding or preparing, or at least seeming to prepare, for modes of actions and lines of policy which, had they been adopted and proceeded in, might have embroiled it in the impending ruin, Thomas Erskine arose, and did perhaps more for the Government, and certainly more for the PEOPLE of England, than any other man of almost any time. When they who looked only to the stability of the throne, or, rather, to the security of their own places under the throne, were preparing, in the anguish of begun despair, to do that which even they never would have dreamed of in the exercise of judicious courage-when even the orators, who professed to despise that which they had schooled themselves in oratory in the hope of obtaining, were wavering and irresolute, or, at any rate, wasting their time, and dissipating their abilities, in Utopian projects of general reform, (which never were fitted, and probably never intended, to come into practical operation) — when the very corner-stone of England's Palladium was threatened to be moved from its place—when the most glorious leaf in the volume of her liberties, seemed about to be given as dry stubble to the blasts of anarchy—when that Jury of his Peers, by which England's best law says that every man shall be TRIED, was in jeopardy of being made a piece of idle mummery–when there was some danger that justice would abandon the scales of equity and the curtana of mercy, and grasp the crooked falchion of vengeance with both her hands—when, in short, England and England's weal were rocking to their very bases, and the governors and the governed were in the very act of being burst asunder, to meet again in the collision of national ruin,-it was then, then that Erskine, with no weapon save that of TRUTH, and no auxiliary but that of transcendent and overpowering genius, sprang forward at the very point of extremity, and by preserving the integrity of the law, worked at once the salvation of the throne and of the people !*
birth to the two illustrious lawyers, Lords Eldon and Stowell ;-they would have been distinguished in any country and in any age ; and though their politics are not popular-perhaps not liberal—no unprejudiced person can deny their unrivalled merit. -Lord Eldon died in 1838, in his 87th year.
• This brilliant forensic orator died in 1823, aged 73. Though upwards of 25 years old when he commenced the study of “the law" (hav. ing previously served both in the army and navy,) he shortly became the most effective Counsel of his time; outshone, by his forcible and captivating eloquence, all his brother barristers; and, during Mr. Fox's administration, had the honour of becoming the first subject in the State - LORD CHANCELLOR!
PICTURE OF A LADY'S TAKING THE VEIL.
REV. GEO. CROLY.
In the low echoes of the anthem's close