« VorigeDoorgaan »
he has every adventitious aid to success. I lery is ineffective in St. Stephen's. He is Nature has favored him. Tall, well-form- too talkative, too restless. There is a want ed, prepossessing in appearance; with a face of calm self-possession, of dignity, of repose. which, if not intellectual, is at least highly He says too much by half. He takes a expressive and intelligent; and a voice clear view enough of the case, but he myswhich, if it wants tone and modulation, is tifies it by his explanations and repetitions. always powerful and often impressive; with If he had a sort of attorney-general's devil a confident manner, acquired in the courts, at his elbow, to winnow his speech and and habits of mind which, if they did not sum up his arguments, the residuum would carry him beyond the superficial, at least tell effectively. made him extremely ready,-qualified in For the higher duties of an attorneythis way for a popular assembly, he ought, general he seems to be unfit. It was his one would think, aided by his singular luck, good fortune never to have been placed in to have made his way. But it was not so. the post of danger and difficulty ; but, He is undervalued on the score of shallow- although his performances might have beness; his opinions or his arguments carry lied these anticipations, there is some reano weight; credit is not given to him even son to believe that he would have been for the knowledge and power of mind which found deficient : for, on more than one he possesses ; a notion has got abroad that, occasion, when the Government were sudboth as a lawyer and as a politician, he is denly placed in a dilemma from which a a pretender. The dullest, heaviest, most shrewd and able attorney-general might laborious of legal plodders, would have a have rescued them, Sir Frederic Thesiger better chance with the House of Commons proved unequal to the task. He“ founthan he. The cause appears to be, that dered” as no lawyer ought, and was helped the very qualities which secure him success out by those not of the cloth. He has no in the courts militate against him in the pretension to be called a constitutional House. Take up whatever subject he may, lawyer; he is not even a safe parliamentary -a grave political question, a legal argu- advocate. He has retrograded in usefulment, an ex-officio explanation, or a rail-ness as he has advanced in rank. His first way case,-he equally seems to speak as essay in the House of Commons appeared from a brief. He carries all the habits, to justify an expectation of after success. gestures, and mode of treatment of the It was a speech on the China war, displaynisi prius advocate into parliament. All ing great tact as well as ability ; but it was is superficial,-arguments, illustrations, not followed up by anything better, or even all seem borrowed. He seems to have no as good. reserve of thought. You never hear a philosophical remark generated by the case before him : all is sacrificed to produce the momentary impression. There is also, per- The position of Sir John Jervis, as athaps wrongly, an appearance of haste. torney-general, is an instance of success Like the barrister who, knowing nothing of scarcely less remarkable than that of his the contents of his brief till it is put into predecessor. If his rise was not quite so his hands, twitches his gown and begins rapid, it is at least not more easily to be common-place with the jury till his eye has accounted for ; his claims, if differing in glanced over the case, Sir Frederic seems some respects from those of Sir Frederic, always in his speeches to trust to the inspi- being certainly of no higher order. Yet he ration of the moment. Perhaps he does reached the attorney-generalship at the age himself injustice in all this; perhaps his of four-and-forty; and such is the dearth of manner belies his mind; that is very likely. legal talent in the House of Commons, But the effect on the House is the same. that Lord John Russell could not, from They are only a very large jury, we know; among his followers, have selected any in and consummate tacticians like Peel, or dividual (that is to say, for the solicitorRussell, or Graham, can manage them as generalship, which always precedes the well as Sir Frederic can manage the twelve other) who possessed in a greater degree wiseacres who, on the average, may com- those qualifications which, within the last pose his nisi prius audience; but it is by few years, have been deemed sufficient to very different means. Sir Frederic does establish a claim to office. not succeed so well with a special as with a As an advocate in the courts, Sir John common jury; for similar reasons his artil- | Jervis has not been so successful as Sir
SIR JOHN JERVIS.
Frederic Thesiger. He has the reputation legal argument he manifests a superiorityof being a better lawyer, but he is certainly as regards clearness, precision, method, not so able at nisi prius. The personal and research, that has long been recognised characteristics of the former are more favor- by the bench. He has written several able to success with a jury. Sir John books which show him to be laborious in Jervis wants that plasticity of temperament the dry details of his profession; but they which enables Sir Frederic Thesiger to are chiefly on points of practice. adapt himself to the particular wants of
Sir John Jervis started in life with many his client for the time being. He has not advantages. Although Sir Frederic Thethe same facility of address : his efforts siger is of good extraction, his connexions have an air of labor, and want that off-were not those most calculated to forward a hand ease with which Sir Frederic throws man at the bar. Sir John Jervis, on the juries off their guard. His countenance, other hand, was pushed into the groove in although highly intelligent, even handsome, which he was afterwards to run. His father is not capable of variety of expression : was chief-justice of Chester, before the there is a severity in his aspect, which it change was effected in the Welsh judgerequires a forced humor to remove. His ships, and a member of parliament. His style of address is hard, his voice monoto- relationship to the St. Vincent family was nous and somewhat harsh ; and there is also of service to him. His father's inaltogether a roughness and brusquerie, fluence procared for him, while he was yet which in the first instance displeases. He very young at the bar, an office in the speaks like one who has been all his life Court of Exchequer, which gave him a cerpractising at sessions in the country and tain standing in that court, and an imporhas not yet learned the London courtliness. tance very useful with attorneys. He was But if these peculiarities rather militate also early in life returned for Chester, against his success in some cases at nisi which ancient city he has continued to reprius—and a first rate ladies' man, and a present in parliament ever since. With first-rate juries' man, are more alike than such advantages, and the abilities and perone would suppose—he has other and more severance we have attributed to him, it is really valuable (though not so lucrative) not surprising that he should have sucqualities, which make him useful in the ceeded at the bar. highest degree, in causes where more ca- In the House of Commons, without libre is required. He practised long and having achieved any reputation for oratory, successfully as a stuff-gownsman, and, as Sir John Jervis has, upon the whole, obdid Sir William Follett, took the lead in tained more success than Sir Frederic Thevery important cases, long before he ob- siger. At the same time it should be retained precedence. He has a keen intel- membered that he has had more experience, lect, great shrowdness, an admirable cool- and greater opportunities of studying the ness for a Welshman, and indomitable temper of the House. His parliamentary energy, and an everlasting perseverance. career has extended over a period not very Although his addresses to a jury are not far short of twenty years, while Sir Fredeimpressive in themselves, he creates a pre- ric, entering at a more advanced time of possession by his evident self-reliance and life, too, has been only seven years in the thorough command of all the points of his House of Commons. But there are other
Wherever a cause is to be won by reasons why Sir John Jervis has succeeded fair means only, by a plain statement of there. The senatorial John Bull likes a facts, clear comprehension of the points, practical man. Your Macaulays and and sound, forcible argument, then Sir Sheils he admires, and feels proud of, for John Jervis is strong, although, in cross- grand field-days; but for ordinary business examination, his earnestness defeats its occasions, give him, especially in a lawyer, own object, and in mystification or cajolery a plain man of business, of few words and he must give way to many men below him many facts. Nay, we are not sure that he at the bar. The more enlightened the would like to see a revival of the great conjury, the more able and effective is his stitutional lawyers, for he thinks he underadvocacy. With the court, too, he has stands the constitution a great deal better much influence. Without any pretensions than they; and what he wants an attorneywhatever to take his stand even by the general for, is to explain the technicalities side of Follett or Wilde, he is admitted to of acts of parliament, and to keep him out be a safe, sound lawyer; and in a hard of scrapes. Now, in this view of the func
SIR FITZROY KELLY.
tions of his office, Sir John Jervis is in-| Russell reflects quite as much credit on valuable. He is singularly quiet and un- that statesman's magnanimity, as that it assuming ; never obtrudes himself on the should have been given to him at so comHouse unnecessarily, as“ plain John Cain-paratively an early age is honorable to the mel” used to do ; would not for his life receiver. presume to lecture them on their proceed- Upon the whole, the verdict both of the ings; yet is always ready, always sound, House of Commons and of the profession always wary. Above all, he does not make seems to be in favor of Sir John Jervis. long speeches. The very qualities which But although there are ample grounds for give him weight in important cases in the estimating his performances at the bar, it court, also help him in the house of Com-is, perhaps, premature to pronounce a decidmons. He is a plain-spoken, unambitious, ed opinion upon his qualifications for his straightforward man of business, and has present post. It is just, however, to say, made his way by these qualities, added to that in every case in which he has been his legal knowledge and natural abilities, called on to speak on behalf of the Governand a total absence of pretension.
ment, he has proved himself equal to emerIn a political point of view, the promo-gencies; and, although such emergencies tion of Sir John Jervis to office has been have not been of a very trying order, not honorable to him. Unlike most parlia- yet to have failed is at least good foundamentary lawyers, he cannot be said to have tion for future success. attached himself to a party. His appointment cannot be ascribed to political servitude. He could only be numbered as among the supporters of the Whigs, by a If the promotion of Sir Frederic Thesiger stretch of their political creed: he has was too rapid, that of Sir Fitzroy Kelly rather been prominent amongst the Radi- was too slow. He is in every respect a sucals. He might even have been called an perior man to any of those who immediately ultra-Radical; and whenever there was a preceded or succeeded him in office. Cirstruggle of principle between the leaders of cumstances, rather than his own errors, the Liberal party and their extreme follow- have delayed his advancement until long ers, the name of Mr. Jervis might always after the period when the opinion of the be found among the latter. There is every profession and of the public demanded that reason to believe, that in his political he should receive some official recognition views he is quite sincere-not that, as in of his talents and parliamentary services. the case of so many of his profession, he Even at the bar, the development of his has adopted them in the belief that they powers long preceded their acknowledgment would further his advancement. For, be- by the dispensers of legal honors.
For sides that he chose what was not likely to many years, while he still continued to be the winning side, the circumstances practise as a junior, he had all the weight under which he has sat in parliament have of a leader. The patient, pains-taking, left him full scope for an honorable inde- quiet, almost humble, stuff-gownsman, was pendence of opinion. Before he took more trusted by suitors, and more respected office he was always distinguished for a by the bench, than many a queen's counsel boldness and manly independence in his with a showy reputation. If the leaders of style of treating party leaders, as well as in the day, the Scarletts, the Campbells, or his manner of addressing the House; and, the Folletts, could not be had, it was by not many months before he received his ap- no means an extraordinary thing to find pointment as solicitor-general, but at a attorneys sending their briefs to Kelly. time when it was evident to all men that For there was, in his mode of conducting a the split among the Conservatives must let case, a quiet self-reliance, a cool watchfulin the Whigs, and, if so, that from his ness, a shrewd tact, that inspired confidence long standing in parliament, and at the in those whose interests were at stake, and bar, he must be high on the list for prefer- commanded the respect of juries. His ment by the future ministers, he took bearing seemed to counteract, in their occasion to rise and deliver a strong and minds, the influence of even the most imsomewhat bitter attack on Lord John Rus- posing array of names retained for the sell, for having been outstripped by Sir adverse party. His imperturbable selfRobert Peel in the race of concession. possession, his absolute command of the His subsequent appointment by Lord John I moves on the board, his clear perception of all the points of his case, and an almost in all cases, wants the power of throwing feline watchfulness and quickness to pounce off his own peculiar character and habits of upon flaws on the other side, gave him an thought, and adopting the manners which advantage over men, whether queen's coun- would harmonize the best with the character sel or stuff-gownsmen, who were only intent of the case, or what may seem to be the on self-display; for he never sacrificed the calibre of the jury. If the idea were not interest of his client to even the most absurd in connexion with a successful adtempting opportunities of speech-making; vocate, one might almost attribute to and, therefore, the less he strove to appear diffidence or mauvaise honte the apparent brilliant, the more he really shone. Not difficulty with which he forces himself up or that his excellence lay especially in his ad- down to the level of his case. All his dress to the jury. If in wariness, tact, and efforts (except on some great occasions perfect self-restraint, while erecting a mask- when he becomes thoroughly aroused) aped battery, he approaches very near to, if he pear subdued, as though he could produce does not equal, what the late Lord Abinger startling results, if he would allow himself was at nisi prius, he wholly wants the unc- the requisite energy or excitement. His tuous facility, the persuasiveness, the power manner of conducting a cause conveys the of charming a jury into identity of feeling idea that he reins in and almost suppresses with himself
, which gave that distinguished power, which, if it had full play, would advocate his unrivalled power. Sir Fitzroy make itself apparent in astonishing effects. Kelly's mode of address is too uniformly To the sameness of his manner is added a cold, too formal-almost to preciseness, monotony of voice, and a general flatness of too unelastic, to suit the many exigencies style, which are on the whole disagreeable. of nisi prius pleading. In cases of a high A person seeing him for the first time in order, which have to be decided by argu- a court of law might go away with the imment and reason, the intellectuality of his pression that he was a very indolent advocountenance, and his air of profound cogita- cate,—that he considered it too much tion, serve well to give an appearance of trouble to exert himself to master his case, body and strength to the mere tissue of or produce the desired impression on the thought he weaves out of his facts. He is jury. But that would be to do him great impressive on the judgment as other men injustice. It is in manner alone that this are impressive on the feelings. His argu- seeming inactivity exhibits itself. There ments have an additional weight because is not an advocate at the bar who really they appear to speak the conclusions of a takes more pains or exerts himself more severe analysis, and mature judgment of the than Sir F. Kelly. His extraordinary case, derived from a long study of its bear-quickness of perception and caution make ings. For even had he taken up his brief him a most "safe man as counsel. It is for the first time, only a few minutes before quite an amusing study to watch the rapid he came into court, there would be the movements of his piercing eye, as it casts same deceptive gravity of treatment, the furtive side-glances from under his oversame tacit intimation that of course it had hanging brows. He seems to know intuihad the benefit of many days at chambers, tively what is passing in the mind of judge, of a series of cogitations and consultations. jury, or witness. No man feels his way Such, however, are his habits of application, more stealthily or safely in the dark than and such his conscientious devotion to his Sir F. Kelly, when he has a doubtful case duty, that cases of this kind are rare indeed. in hand. Although there are many more Usually, he is as much identified with his showy cross-examiners-clever, facetious client's interest as if he were plaintiff or persons, who can put a witness to shame and defendant himself; and although he seldom raise a laugh in the court, forgetting its touches the sympathies of a jury, the ear-effect on their cause--no man handles a nestness and perseverance of his advocacy questionable character in the box with more often appeal successfully to their sense of masterly art, whether he be for him or justice. But in a different class of cases against him, or pulls to pieces a pretender in cases, for instance, of the kind in which with a better show of moral indignation. the most persuasive eloquence and genial Besides his position as a nisi prius advomanners of Sir Frederic Thesiger give him cate, Sir F. Kelly enjoys a high reputation a supremacy, Sir Fitzroy Kelly does not with the profession. He is universally spofulfil the expectations formed from his ge- ken of as a sound lawyer ; indeed, the very neral reputation. He is uniformly the same character of his general business seems to indicate that he is equal to any difficulty. | Tory candidates, but also of what were the There is a quiet confidence in his own pow- general practices of the party to which they ers of argument, and a readiness in meeting belonged. The constitution of the comany new point of the case, however suddenly mittee was adverse to the sitting members, started, and illustrating it by references and the late Mr. Patrick Maxwell Stewart implying great legal knowledge, which are was the chairman. calculated to impress non-professional ob- Whatever might have been the bias of servers with a belief in his full capability the committee, they had but little scope for and trustworthiness. The judges, too, evi- its exercise, the evidence being of the most dently pay much attention, and even decisive kind. Although, at first, the witdeference, to his arguments and opinions. nesses kept out of the way, yet enough was He certainly stands as first man for the elicited from some of them to prove that time being, at the common-law bar. the grossest bribery had been practised;
Sir Fitzroy Kelly's parliamentary career and the subsequent features of the case has been unfortunate, but not from the same assumed, except for the baseness of the causes that militated against the success of whole affair, almost a dramatic interest. Sir Frederic Thesiger. Although he has The Ipswich case—as well for its foundanot taken a first-rate position as an orator, tion of facts as for the extraordinary prohe has always acquitted himself ably, and cesses resorted to, by parties of station and has induced confidence in his powers. His unblemished character, to corrupt or intirise has been retarded by personal acts of midate witnesses, and fight an audacious his own, which, looked at in any point of battle with the law-proceedings which, if view, must be admitted to have involved detailed in a satirical novel, would be proconsiderable culpability,-of that kind of nounced improbable, but which have found which the House of Commons are compelled, but too many parallels in our electoral by the exactions of an “organized hy-history-ranks by the side of the most pocrisy,” to be intolerant. Sir Fitzroy flagrant instances of outrageous corruption Kelly placed himself, early in his parlia-on record. It occupied parliament during mentary life, in a position which made him a considerable portion of the session of the scapegoat of one of their moral fits. 1835 ; for the House of Commons having, After having stood for Ipswich in 1832, and according to their usual custom, pounced failed, he again contested the borough in upon the little offenders—that is to say, not 1835. A very severe struggle ensued on the least culpable, but the least powerfulthis occasion, concerning which all kinds of spent a long time in playing with their rumors spread among the public, as if elec- victims, frightening and torturing them, ere tioneering license had in that case been they finally dismissed them from their grasp. carried to its very extreme limits. At last, The really guilty parties—those on whose Mr. Kelly apparently defeated his rival, behalf, though not by whose act, the offenand he was duly returned to parliament as ces were committed—were, of course, alone of the Tory members for Ipswich. He lowed to escape. We are not going to enter took his seat, and for several months con- into a history of the Ipswich election case, tinued to speak, and vote, and discharge but merely to recall those parts of it which the ordinary functions of a member of par- pressed on Sir Fitzroy Kelly; nor, perhaps, liament. His advent was regarded with would it be necessary or desirable to revive much interest, because he was known to be the memory even of those, but that they one of the soundest as well as of the fore-afterwards exercised a direct influence on most men at the bar; and his rise to offi- his parliamentary character and position. cial eminence was considered certain. But, It appears that during the progress of in the meanwhile, a petition had been pre- the inquiry before the committee, Mr. sented against his return, on the ground of Kelly, then being the sitting member, and bribery and other practices contrary to the the party most deeply interested in the law. This petition was prosecuted with result, appeared before them, ostensibly in especial energy and perseverance, pot mere- the character of counsel for some of the ly on the interest of the unsuccessful candi-parties whose conduct was impugned. dates, but also because, in the then state Some statements he made on this occasion, of parties, it was a great .object with the as to the exact effect of which there seems political friends of those gentlemen to hold to have been some doubt, were calculated the Ipswich case up as a flagrant proof, not materially to affect the issue ; and neither merely of the personal misconduct of the the public nor the committee, it seems,