« AnteriorContinuar »
SPEECH, &c. I THANK God that I have been enabled 10 ish Armada, now fall prostrate before the house come here to-day--to perform my duty, and of Bourbon ? Surely, my Lords, this nation is speak on a subject which is so deeply impressed no longer what it was! Shall a people that on my mind. I am old and infirm. I have one seventeen years ago was the terror of the world, foot-more than one foot in the grave. I have now stoop so low as to tell its ancient inveterate risen from my bed to stand up in the cause of enemy, Take all we have, only gire us juuace my country--perhaps never again to speak in | It is impossible! This House.
I wage war with no man or set of zen. 1 [" The reverence, the attention, the stillness wish for none of their employments; nor would of the House," said an eye-witness, “were bere I co-operate with men who still persist in unre. most affecting: had any one dropped a handker- tracted error, or who, instead of acting on a firm, chief, the noise would have been heard." decisive line of conduct, halt between two opin
As he proceeded, Lord Chatham spoke at first ions, where there is no middle path. In God's in a low tone, with all the weakness of one who name, if it is absolutely necessary to declare eiis laboring under severe indisposition. Gradu-ther for peace or war, and the former can not e ally, however, as he warmed with the subject, preserved with honor, why is not the latter comhis voice becanie louder and more distinct, his menced without delay? I am not, I confess, well intonations grew more commanding, and his informed as to the resources of this kingdom, but whole manner was solemn and impressive in I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just the highest degree. He went over the events rights, though I know them not. But, my Lords, of the American war with that luminous and any state is better than despair. Let us at least comprehensive survey for which he was so much make one effort, and, if we must fall, let us fall distinguished in his best days. He pointed out like men! the measures he had condemned, and the results he had predicted, adding at each stage, When Lord Chatham bad taken his seat, L.oru as he advanced, " And so it proved! And so it Temple remarked to him, “You have forgotten proved !” Adverting, in one part of his speech, to mention what we have been talking about. to the fears entertained of a foreign invasion, he Shall I get up?" "No," replied Lord Chathan, recurred to the history of the past : “A Spanish " I will do it by-and-by.” invasion, a French invasion, a Dutch invasion, Lord Richmond replied to Lord Chatham, many noble Lords must have read of in history ; telling him that the country was in no condition and some Lords” (looking keenly at one who sat to continue the war; and that, even if he him, near him, with a last reviving flash of his sar- sell were now (as formerly) at the head of at castic spirit), "some Lords may remember a fairs, his name, great as it was, could not repan Scotch invasion!" He could not forget Lord the shattered fortunes of the country. Lord Chat Mansfield's defense of American taxation, and ham listened with attention, but gave indications the measures of Lord Bute, which had brought at times, both by his countenance and his ges down the country to its present degraded state, tures, that he felt agitated or displeased. from the exalted position to which he had raised When the Duke of Richmond had ended his it during his brief but splendid administration. speech, Lord Chatham made a sudden and stren He then proceeded in the following terms :) My uous attempt to rise, as if laboring under the Lords, I rejoice that the grave has not closed pressure of painful emotions. He seemed eager apon me; that I am still alive, to lift up my to speak; but, after repeated efforts, he suddenly voice against the dismemberment of this ancient pressed his hand on his heart, and sunk down in and most noble monarchy! Pressed down as I convulsions. Those who sat near him caught am by the hand of infirmity, I am little able to him in their arms. His son William Pitt, then assist my country in this most perilous conjunc- a youth of seventeen, who was standing without ture; but, my Lords, while I have sense and the bar, sprang forward to support him. It is memory, I will never consent to deprive the off this moment which Copley has chosen for his spring of the royal house of Brunswick, the heirs picture of the death of Lord Chatham. “His. of the Princess Sophia, of their fairest inherit-tory," says an able writer, " has no nobler scene ance. I will first see the Prince of Wales, the to show than that which now occupied the House Bishop of Osnaburgh, and the other rising hopes of Lords. The unswerving patriot, whose long of the royal family, brought down to this com-life had been devoted to his country, had strives mittee, and assent to such an alienation. Where to the last. The aristocracy of the land stood is the man who will dare to advise it? My Lords, around, and even the brother of the sovereign his Majesty succeeded to an empire as great in thought himself honored in being one of his surextent as its reputation was unsullied. Shall porters; party enmities were remembered no we tarnish the luster of this nation by an igno- more; every other feeling was lost in admira. minious surrender of its rights and fairest pos- tion of the great spirit which seemed to be pass. sessions ? Shall this great nation, that has sur-ing away from among them." He was removed vived, whole and entire, the Danish depredations, in a state of insensibility from the House, and car the Scottish inroads, the Norman conquest—that ried to Hayes, where he lingered a few days, and bas stood the threatened invasion of the Span- I died on the 11th of May, 1778, aged seventy
WILLIAM MURRAY, first Earl of Mansfield, was born at Scone Castle, near Perth, in Scotland, on the 2d of March, 1705. He was the fourth son of Lord Stormont, head of an ancient but decayed family, which had been reduced to comparative poverty by a long course of extravagance. The title having been conferred by James I., Lord Stor mont, like his predecessors, remained true to the cause of the Stuarts. His second son, Lord Dunbar, was private secretary to the Pretender.
William was sent to London for his education at a very early age; and hence Johnson used sportively to maintain, that his success in after life ought not to be put to the credit of his country, since it was well known that “much might be made of a Scotchman if he was caught young.” Not a little, however, had been done for William be fore he left the grammar-school of Perth. Though but fourteen years old, he could read quite freely in the Latin classics; he knew a large part of Sallust and Horace by heart; and was able not only to write Latin correctly, but to speak it with accuracy and ease. It is not surprising, therefore, considering his native quickness of mind, that within a year after he joined Westminster school, he gained its highest distinction, that of being chosen one of the King's scholars. He soon stood as “dux," or leader of the school ; and, at the end of four years, after a rigorous examination, was put first on the list of those who were to be sent to Oxford, on the foundation at Christ Church. His choice had for some time been firmly fixed upon the law as a profession; and nothing could so gratify his feelings or advance his interests as to enter the University. But the straitened circumstances of his father seemed to forbid the thought; and he was on the point of giving up his most ardent wishes in despair, when a casual conversation with a young friend opened the way for his being placed at Oxford, with an honorable provision for his support. Lord Foley, father of the friend referred to, having heard of his superior abilities, and his strong attachment to the law, generously offered to assist him with the requisite means, to be repaid only in the event of his succeeding in after life.
During his residence at Oxford, he gave himself to study with that fervor and diligence for which he was always distinguished, quickened by a sense of the responsibilities he had incurred, and by a fixed resolve to place himself at the head of his profession. He made every thing subservient to a preparation for the bar; and while, in the spirit of that university, he studied Aristotle with delight as the great master of reasoning and thought, he devoted his most earnest efforts to improvement in oratory. He read every thing that had been written on the principles of the art; he made himself familiar with all the great masters of eloquence in Greece and Rome, and spent much of his time in translating their finest productions as the best means of improving his style. Cicero was his favorite author ; and he declared, in after life, that there was not one of his orations which he had not, while at Oxford, translated into English, and, after an in. terval, according to the best of his ability, re-translated into Latin.
Having taken his degree at the age of twenty-two, he entered on the study of the law at Lincoln's Inn in 1737. His labors were now conducted on the broadest scale. While law had the precedence, he carried on the practice of oratory with the utmost zeal. To aid him in extemporaneous speaking, he joined a debating society, where the most abstruse legal points were fully discussed. For these exercises, he prepared him. self beforehand with such copiousness and accuracy, that the notes he used proved highly valuable in after life, both at the bar and on the bench. He found time, also to pursue his historical studies to such an extent, that Lord Campbell speaks of his fa. miliarity with modern history as “ astounding and even appalling, for it prou uces i painful consciousness of inferiority, and creates remorse for time misspent.” Wher: called to the bar in 1730, “ he had made himself acquainted not only with interna tional law, but with the codes of all the most civilized nations, ancient and modern; ne was an elegant classical scholar; he was thoroughly imbued with the literature of his own country; he had profoundly studied our mixed constitution ; he had a sincere desire to be of service to his country; and he was animated by a noble aspiration after honorable fame."
When he first came to London as a boy in Westminster school, he was introduced oy his countryman, Lord Marchmont, to Mr. Pope, then at the height of his unrivaled popularity. The poet took a lively interest in the young Scotchman, attracted not only by the quickness of his parts and the fineness of his manners and person, but by "the silvery tones of his voice," for which he continued to be distinguished to the end of lite. Mr. Pope entered with the warmest concern into all his employments, and as sisted especially in his rhetorical studies during his preparation for the bar. One day, says his biographer, he was surprised by a friend, who suddenly entered the room, in “the act of practicing before a glass, while Pope sat by to aid him in the character of an instructor!" Their friendship continued throughout life ; and in a new edition of the Dunciad Mr. Pope introduced his name, with that of other distinguished men, complain. ing that law and politics should have drawn them off from the more congenial pursuits of literature.
"Wbate'er the talents and lowe'er designed,
How many Martinls were in Pultoney lost!” Some years elapsed after Mr. Murray's call to the bar before he had any business of importance ; and then, after a few successful cases, it poured in upon him to absolute repletion. “From a few hundred pounds a year,” said he, “I found myself in the receipt of thousands." Retainers came in from every quarter; and one of a thousand guineas was sent by Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, with that ostentatious munificence which she sometimes affected. Nine hundred and ninety-five guineas were returned by Mr. Murray, with the significant remark that "a retaining see was never more noi less than five guineas.” He found her a very troublesome client. Not unfrequently she made her appearance at his chambers after midnight, crowding the street with her splendid equipage and her attendants with torches ; and on one occasion when he was absent, his clerk, giving an account of her visit the next morning, said, “I could not make out, sir, who she was, for she would not tell me her name; but she suore so dreadfully that she must have been a lady of quality!"
Soon after the fall of Sir Robert Walpole in 1742, Mr. Murray was appointed Solicitor General, and clected a member of Parliament through the influence of the Duke of Newcastle. His powerful talents were needed for the support of the new adnunistra. tion, which was suffering under the vehement attacks of Mr. Pitt. lIeri commenceil that long series of conflicts which divided for life the two most accomplished crators of the age. It could not be otherwise, for never were two men more completely the an tipodes of each other. Pitt was a Whig; Murray was a High Tory. Pitt was ar. dent, open, and impetuous; Murray was cool, reserved, and circumspect. The intellect of Pitt was bold and commanding ; that of Murray was subtle, penetrating, and refined. Pitt sought power; Murray, office and emolument. Two such men could not but differ ; and differing as they did for life, it was natural that the one should distrust or despise, and the other fear, perhaps hate. In native talent, it would he diffi. cult to say which had the advantage ; but the mind of Murray was more perfectly trained, and his memory enriched with larger stores of knowledge. " In closeness of argument," says an able writer, " in happiness of illustration, in copioi sness and grace of diction, the oratory of Murray was unsurpassed : and, indeed, in all the qualities which conspire to form an able debater, he is allowed to have been Pitt's superior When measures were attacked, no one was better capable of defending them ; when reasoning was the weapon employed, none handled it with such effect; but against declaratory invective, his very temperament incapacitated him for contending with so much advantage. He was like an accomplished fencer, invulnerable to the thrusts of a small sword, but not equally able to ward off the downright stroke of a bludgeon."
In 1754 Mr. Murray was appointed Attorney General, and soon after made leader of the House of Commons under the Duke of Newcastle. “At the beginning of the session," says Horace Walpole, “ Murray was awed by Pitt; but, finding himself supported by Fox, he surmounted his fears, and convinced the House, and Pitt too, of his superior abilities. Pitt could only attack, Murray only defend. Fox, the boldest and ablest champion, was still more forward to worry; but the keenness of his saber was blunted by the difficulty with which he drew it from the scabbard—I mean, the hesitation and ungracefulness of his delivery took off from the force of his arguments. Murray, the brightest genius of the three, had too much and too little of the lawyer ; he refined too much and could wrangle too little for a popular assembly.” We have seen already, in the life of Lord Chatham, what difficulties Murray had to encounter that session in sustaining the ministry of Newcastle, and the crushing force with which he was overwhelmed by his opponent. In 1756 he resolved to endure it no longer, and on the death of Sir Dudley Ryder he demanded the office of Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Newcastle refused, remonstrated, supplicated. “The writ for creating Murray,” he declared, “would be the death-warrant of his own administration." He resisted for several months, offering the most tempting bribes, including a pension of £6000 a year, if he would only remain in the House until the new session was opened, and the address voted in reply to the King's speech. Murray declared, in the most peremptory terms, that he would not remain “a month or a day even to support the address ;" that “he never again would enter that assembly." Turning with indignation to Newcastle, he exclaimed, “What merit have I, that you should lay on this country, for which so little is done with spirit, the additional burden of £6000 a year;" and concluded with declaring his unalterable determination, if he was not made Chief Justice, to serve no longer as Attorney General. This brought Newcastle to a decision. On the 8th of November, 1756, Murray was sworn in as Chief Justice, and created a peer with the title of Baron Mansfield. At a later period he was raised to the earldom.
In entering on his new career, he was called upon to take public leave of his associates of Lincoln's Inn. On that occasion he was addressed in an elegant speech by the Honorable Charles Yorke. The reader will be interested in Mr. Murray's reply, as showing with what admirable dignity and grace he could receive the compliments bestowed upon him, and turn them aside in favor of another.
"I am too sensible, sir, of my being undeserving of the praises which you have so elegantly bestowed upon me, to suffer commendations so delicate as yours to insinuate themselves into my mind; but I have pleasure in that kind of partiality which is the occasion of them. To deserve ceb praises is a worthy object of ambition, and from such a tongue flattery itself is pleasing.
** If I have had, in any measure, success in my profession, it is owing to the great man who kas presided in our highest courts of judicature the whole time I attended the bar. It was im
"Tord Hardwicke, father of Mr. Yorke.
possible to attend to him, to sit under him every day, without catching some beams from his ligin. The disciples of Socrates, whom I will take the liberty to call the great lawyer of antiquity, since the first principles of all law are derived from his philosophy, owe their reputation to their having been the reporters of the sayings of their master. If we can arrogate nothing to ourselves, we can boast the school we were brought up in; the scholar may glory in his master, and we may challenge past ages to show us his equal. My Lord Bacon had the same extent of thought, and the same strength of language and expression, but his life had a stain. My Lord Clarendon had the same ability, and the same zeal for the Constitution of his country, but the civil war prevented his laying deep the foundations of law, and the avocations of politics interrupted the business or the chancellor. My Lord Somers came the nearest to his character, but bis time was short, ar. envy and iaction sullied the luster of his glory. It is the peculiar felicity of the great man I am speaking of to have presided very near twenty years, and to have shone with a splendor that has risen superior to faction and that has subdued envy.
“I did not intend to have said, I should not have said so much on this occasion, but that in this situation, with all that hear me, what I say must carry the weight of testimony rather than appear the voice of panegyric.
“For you, sir, you have given great pledges to your country; and large as the expectations of the public are concerning you, I dare say you will answer them.
“For the society, I shall always think myself honored by every mark of their esteem, affection, and friendship; and shall desire the continuance of it no longer than while I remain zealous for the Constitution of this country and a friend to the interests of virtue.”
Lord Mansfield now entered on that high career of usefulness which has made his name known and honored throughout the civilized world. Few men have ever been so well qualified for that exalted station. He had pre-eminently a legal intellect, great clearness of thought, accuracy of discrimination, soundness of judgment, and strength of reasoning, united to a scientific knowledge of jurisprudence, a large experience in all the intricacies of practice, unusual courtesy and ease in the dispatch of business, and extraordinary powers of application. He came to the bench, not like most lawyers, trusting to his previous knowledge and the aid afforded by counsel in forming his decisions, but as one who had just entered on the real employment of his life. “On the day of his inauguration as Chief Justice, instead of thinking that he had won the prize, he considered himself as only starting in the race.”
How he discharged the duties of his high station, it belongs especially to men of his own profession to determine. One fact, however, may stand in the place of many authorities. Out of the thousands of cases which he decided in the Court of King's Bench, there were only two in which his associates of that court did not unanimously agree with him in opinion. Yet they were, as all the world knows, men of the highest ability and the most perfect independence of mind. Junius, indeed, assailed him with malignant bitterness, but it is the universal decision of the bar that his charges were false as they were malignant. Against this attack we may set off the opinion of Chief Justice Story. “England and America, and the civilized world, lie under the deepest obligations to him. Wherever commerce shall extend its social influences ; wherever justice shall be administered by enlightened and liberal rules; wherever contracts shall be expounded upon the eternal principles of right and wrong; wherever moral delicacy and judicial refinement shall be infused into the municipal code, at once to persuade men to be honest and to keep them so ; wherever the intercourse of mankind shall aim at something more elevated than that groveling spirit of barter. in which meanness, and avarice, and fraud strive for the mastery over ignorance, credulity, and folly, the name of Lord Mansfield will be held in reverence by the good and the wise, by the honest merchant, the enlightened lawyer, the just statesman, and the conscientious judge. The proudest monument of his fame is in the volumes of Burtow, and Cowper, and Douglas, which we may fondly hope will endure as long as the language in which they are written shall continue to instruct mankind. His judgınents should not be merely referred to and read on the spur of particular occa sions, but should be studied as models of juridical reasoning and eloquence."
As a speaker in the House of Lords, the success of Lord Mansfield was greater than