« VorigeDoorgaan »
movements within the limit of the law officially devolved. He was again returned to his constituency, but was re-elected with very little personal exertion; and Parliament had again assembled, and the Bill was again introduced before two months had expired. Although the Grey Ministry had now a great majority, yet the opposition to the Bill was extremely severe; and the last debate in the Commons terminated on the 21st of September by a vote of 345 to 236, in favor of the measure, which now rested with the Peers; while the Birmingham and other political unions assumed an attitude of the most embarrassing character to the Attorney-General, the representative of a large and popular constituency, foreseeing the probable necessity for prosecutions, which essential as they might become in his official, would almost necessarily injure his Parliamentary position. The Peers threw out the Bill on the 7th October. Upon the 20th the King, firm still in his attachment to the Reform measure and Ministry, prorogued Parliament. The winter of 1831 and 1832 was even more gloomy and riotous than its immediate predecessor. Bands of ill-conditioned men, assuming the titles and the wrongs of Reformers, excited riots to profit by the temporary disruption of society. Incendiarism began at Derby and spread to Nottingham, the AttorneyGeneral's constituency. The Duke of Newcastle's castle at Nottingham was burned down. The county paid 21,000l. for that fire; and the Attorney-General found scope for the exercises of his official functions in his own town. Near to the end of October Sir Charles Wetherell, the Recorder of Bristol, proceeds to open his Court in that city. A great riot ensued, for Sir Charles was a zealous Tory. His presence was a pretext for rogues and vagabonds to institute a carnival of disorder. Half of one square was burned down, and many lives were lost. The Mayor was a singularly quiet man, who shrunk from giving those implicit orders which the commanding officer, Colonel Brereton, required. The latter gentleman from kind-heartedness temporized with the mob, and endeavored to restore peace by persuasion, without bayonets. The magistrates and the officer were brought to trial. The proceedings against the former were extremely painful to the Attorney General, and they were acquitted. The proceedings against Colonel Brereton were painful to all parties. He had endeavored to reconcile conscience and duty, and he was misdirected and misinformed. The fourth day of his trial closed.
subsequent winter brought wild work to Sir | Thomas Denman. Harassed by the legal business of the great Reform measure, he was compelled to recognize a lawless state of society both in the agricultural and the manufacturing districts. Fire-raising and machine breaking were prevalent crimes, and when a homestead or its corn-ricks made the sky lurid in the dark nights of winter, it also added to the load of business in the Crown Office. The Ministry were surrounded by anxieties, and that new destroyer, the cholera, in the autumn of 1830, and the winter of 1831, was creeping to the north and west in slow but solemn and sure progress, to increase the disorder. The Reform Bill was introduced by Lord John Russell to the Commons on the 1st of March, 1831. The debate was the longest remembered in Parliament on any single measure, and the division on the second reading was the largest. The numbers respectively were 302 and 301. The Bill was read a second time by a majority of 1. Mr. Calcraft, who had been Sir Thomas Denman's first Parliamentary friend, managed to get into the lobby only in time to present an even vote. He had been in Parliament for thirty-five years. He remained thus to carry the Reform Bill, and he never voted again; having, like another friend of the Attorney-General, committed suicide. The Easter recess was passed by many persons in the organization and strengthening of the political unions, which trode on the fringes and margin of the constitution. On the 18th of April the Commons met in Committee on the Bill, and the Ministry were defeated by a majority of 8 on General Gascoyne's amendment against the reduction of the number of members which constitute the House; and again by 22 on an amendment upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer's motion to go into a Committee of Supply. The real crisis of the Reform Bill had arrived. Its opponents in Parliament were confident and furious; its supporters were desponding and doubtful; not that they were afraid for the ultimate fate of their measure, but for the means by which it should be carried. The King was favorable, but would not contemplate the dissolution of a Parliament which had not completed its first year. The Peers denied the propriety of this exercise of the prerogative. The denial roused the energy of the King, and on the 22d of April he prorogued Parliament. These historical events are referred to here merely to indicate the hidden work of the Attorney-General; on whom the responsibility of keeping these
He had two little daughters, and they had dent. His decisions proceeded upon an arno mother. Always his last act at night had duous application to the arguments and evidbeen to look into their bedroom and say good ence. The incorruptibility of our judges is night to the sleeping children. Afterwards now unquestioned, but their application to the servants observed that on this night he business is a different subject, and deficiency passed their door. He was heard walking in that respect is one form of corruption, and in his room until they all slept. In the judgments are given in some courts with a morning he was dead-shot by his own hand rapidity altogether inconsistent with justice. -a brave man and kind, but unwilling to fire | The counsel on both sides, in perhaps the eren upon the worst of the people.
greatest cases of the last thirty years, solicitThe fierce agitations of these troubleded the Bench for an early decision, which times, the close treading on the edges of con- was promised to them in three days. These stitutional law by all parties; the absolute three days, lawyers relate, were passed by infringement of its principles by the nominal the presiding representative of justice in busy supporters of his own party; the investiga- pic-nicing, at a rural retreat, from which be tions into riots and the trials of the rioters, returned fresh for judgment. Lord Denman weighed heavily on the energies and the might have arrived at the same findings, but heart of the Attorney-General. The history he would not have reached them through of the Reform Bill belongs rather to the life the medium of a cigar-case. As Chief Justof other statesmen than to that of Sir Thomas ice he adequately represented the feeling of Denman. It became law; and other grand the English people in his time. He united struggles opened on the Parliamentary and firmness with a mild demeanor towards all political fields. None was grander than the men, and patiently examined the statements destruction of slavery, or nearly equal to it adduced Þefore him in his official capacity. in moral sublimity. This discussion, and all The greater portion of his labors originated its consequent labors, was a sunny spot in in cases with which, after the decision is his overwhelming toil; and among many given and the costs are paid, the principals friends of the negroes, no man labored more alone are interested; but during his presidassiduously to uproot this insulting crime to ency two important political questions were bumanity, or rejoiced more sincerely at the discussed and settled in a manner not caladvent of that august day when the British culated to raise the character of the courts fag, wherever it was planted, shadowed only with the people. freemen.
The case Stockdale v. Hansard was the He expressed a lively interest in all those first. The House of Commons had ordered social reforms that were either partially or the publication of certain reports op prisons, wbolly effected in the years immediately sub- in which a book published by Stockdale was sequent to the passing of the Reform Bill. described as obscene and disgusting in the The Bank and East India Charters had to be extreme. He raised an action of libel against remodelled, and the opinion of the Law offi. the publishers who pleaded the privileges of cers of the Crown had to be obtained. These Parliament, in bar, for whom Messrs. Hansard few words were often lightly spoken, but the acted.lo November, 1836, Lord Denman opinion of the chief officer was never lightly declared that the authority of the House formed. The retirement of Earl Grey from could not justify the publication of the libel. the Premiership virtually broke up the Reform In May, 1837, the Committee of the House Ministry; and a peerage was conferred on arrived at an opposite conclusion. Lord DenSir Thomas Demnan in that year, 1834, when man argued that Parliament could not be he was named Chief Justice of England. permitted to libel individuals through the
Thenceforward his years flowed more reports of their committees without a reequally. The Chief Justice was remarkable medy. The Commons maintained that the for his calm and dignified bearing on the publication of evidence supplied to their comBench; bis cheerful devotion to its important mittees was essential to good legislation, and duties; the attention and cares which he should be privileged. They, however, dibestowed on cases, and the diligence with rected their publishers to plead, who were which he pursued his duties, and cleared subjected to damages, and having defended away the arrearage of his Court. No man the action they were bound to meet its consince the days of Sir Mathew Hale discharg; sequences. The trial occupied some time, ed the functions of Chief Justice of England and, at its conclusion, Síockdale brought anwith more dignity than Lord Denman. Like other action, for the Hansards continued to his great predecessor be was an earnest stu. sell the reports. The damages were laid at 50,0001. Acting upon the instructions of He presided at the last public trial of a the House, Messrs. Hansard declined to plead. Peer, when Lord Cardigan went through A jury assessed the damages at 6001.; and that mockery of justice for wounding Captain the Court directed the sheriffs of London to Harvey Tuckett in a duel. The presiding recover the sum, from the property of the judge was grave and solemn, but the busiprinters. They endeavored to obtain delay, ness otherwise was a satire on justice. but Stockdale had nothing to do either with The celebrated review on appeals of their convenience or the constitutional ques. O'Connell's trial brought out the only parttion, and wanted bis money. The sheriffs izan opinion with which Lord Denman was made a levy, and on the 16th December, chargeable, in any great political case, on the 1839, to avoid the embarrassment of a public Bench. Mr. O'Connell and his friends were sale, the amount was paid. The sheriffs, tried by a jury, consisting of gentlemen who Evans and Wheelton, were more annoyed made great exertions to escape the responregarding the allocation of these funds than sibility. After they were impanelled, the other persons usually are even to obtain traversers and their counsel employed all money. They were willing to pay them over artifices that ingenuity could suggest, to proto Stockdale, but the House of Commons long the proceedings. Upon the twentythreatened to commit them; or they were fifth day a verdict of guilty was returned. willing to retain them, but Lord Denman But the indictment had been divided into threatened them with imprisonment for con- eleven counts-each of which contained diftempt. They were deliberating on this ferent charges; and the jury, upon oath, anxchoice of evils when the Commons seized ious to be precise, divided the various matthem on the 20th January, 1840, for levying ters in each count, discharging the prisoners on their publishers goods. Lord Denman from some, and finding others proved. Mr. issued a writ of habeas corpus, by which he O'Connell and his friends were sentenced to had the pleasure of an interview with the a heavy fine, and a moderate imprisonment. sheriffs, but they returned to confinement. The case was taken, by appeal, before the Stockdale was next imprisoned by the House, judges, and finally found its way to the and his attorney followed; but he progress- peers, who reversed the judgment.
The ed with bis actions, and on the 17th February Law lords alone voted on the appeal, namethe fifth of the series was pending. Public ly, Brougham against, Campbell
, Cottenopinion favored the judge more than the ham, and Denman for; but Lord Denman, representatives; but on the 5th March Lord in delivering his judgment, lowered himself John Russell introduced a Bill, to confer on from the Bench to the Bar, and insisted that Parliamentary papers exemption from the the proceedings, if maintained, would reduce libel law, and by retrospective clauses to re-trial by jury to "a mockery, a delusion, and lease Messrs. Hansard from the cases cur
This end had been very nearly Lord Denman and other peers endea. accomplished by proceedings anterior to, vored to amend the Bill so as to prevent and pending, the trial. An honest verdict the publication of libels on private individuals, could only be returned at the risk of perbut the imendment trould have vitiated the sonal danger. An individual called on the entire Act, and was therefore rejected while wife of one juryman on the day before the the measure was carried. The merits of the close of the trial, and offered a widow's cap dispute were never fully discussed. “Much for sale, saying, it will be wanted if O'Conmight be said on both sides.” The Chief nell be found guilty. The business of the Justice occupied high grounds. He consider- jurymen was greatly neglected during the ed his Court the last refuge of popular proceedings. They became for many years liberty. The Commons, with equal firmness, proscribed men. They were insulted in the alleged that the representatives of the people streets, and in danger of their lives, while could more satisfactorily than any other their finding was an act of moral courage, power grant their freedom. One thing may of which the three peers who dissented from be admitted, that in reports of Parliamen- the opinions of the subordinate and younger tary evidence, as in the speeches of members, judges were innocent; for Denman, even in private individuals can be very grossly libel- the Queen's case, was supported by popular led, without any redress. Lord Denman applause. sought to prevent this wrong without a re- Trial by jury was, is, has been, and ever medy, but his object was impracticable, un- will be, "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare"
a less by infringing Parliamentary privileges, in Ireland, because unanimity is requisite to and it was defeated.
a verdict there as in England. Political trials
in periods of strong excitement seldom afford | his Court. Lord Campbell succeeded him; the materials for a verdict of this description. and he was active in proclaiming the weakAll juries should decide, as in Scotland, by a ness of his friend, to all who could spread majority; or, if a casting majority be deem- the story. Campbell commiserated 'Dened insufficient, by one of two thirds. A list man's failing strength, and, although his of murderers who have escaped in Ireland senior in years, bade highly for the Chief by the operation of the present law would Justiceship. The secret of this affair reastonish the English people. mains to be discovered. Undoubtedly Lord Denman used very strong language on the trial last named. The decision was agreeable to politicians at the time, but they were not bound, therefore, to admire the arguments used for its support. Certainly Lord Denman heard from many influential quarters that he was sick, very sick, weak, and required rest. He struggled against this persecuting sympathy for years, but in 1850 he retired from the Bench, respected and even venerated by the Bar. His latter years were passed in a genial retirement. He did not attend the Peers often, but he was always ready to support his African policy, for which the father contended in the senate, and the son on the sea. His career had neither been dazzling nor eccentric, but steady and useful; presenting a noble precedent to young men, who, in Lord Denman's history, find solid perseverance more than compensating the absence of that genius, which gleams like wildfire in the tale of more than one of his contemporaries. But was his mind deficient in the higher attributes of genius, or had he brought them into subordination under qualities which he deemed more valuable ? The question can only be answered by a careful reading of his speeches, yet we hold by the latter alternative. He was struck with apoplexy, and died at Stoke Albany, Northamptonshire, on the 22d of September last.
Lord Denman's strong statements were based, however, on the decision of the counts by the jurymen. According to his views, if one count includes a charge for murder, with the theft of a silver watch, and the former is clearly demonstrated, while the latter is not proved, the jury should return a verdict of acquittal on the whole rather than separate the major from the minor accusation. This practice would form "a mockery, delusion, and snare."
The reversal of the sentence disarmed O'Connell, and the judgment of the Peers may have been justifiable on political but not on legal grounds. After that came the famine. The autumn of 1844, when this proceeding occurred, was the last year of health and plenty for Ireland, until its great judg. ment, still lingering, was partially expended. Mr. O'Connell sunk under a complication of misfortunes. He became an exile seeking health, and died in a struggle to reach Rome. He left in Ireland a memorable, but scarcely a loved, or even a respected name. The career of few men in the last generation inspires the present with more regret. The Napoleon of politics, he effected little or nothing for the people, whom we are bound to
believe that he loved.
An intrigue commenced in the same year, 1844, for the removal of Lord Denman from
CONSUMPTION OF LIFE DURING THE REIGN OF NICHOLAS.-The consumption of human life during the reign of the Emperor Nicholas has been enormous. He has carried on war with the Circassians uninterruptedly for 28 years, at an annual cost of 20,000 lives on the Russian side alone, making a grand total of nearly 600,000 Russians who have perished in attempting to subdue the independence of Circassia. In the two campaigns against Persia, as in the Hungarian campaign and the two Polish campaigns of 1831-32, there are not sufficient data to enable me to form a correct estimate of the Russian loss, which was, however, in the Persian and Polish wars enormous. In the two campaigns against
VOL XXXIV.-NO. I.
Turkey of 1828-29, 300,000 fell, of whom, however, 50,000 perished by the plague. The loss of the Russians, in various ways. since the entry of the Danubian Principalities, is understood at 30,000. In these calculations it should be borne in mind that no estimate is attempted to be made of the sacrifice of human life on the side of those who fought for their liberties against the aggressions of Russia. If this calculation were attempted, it is probable that the result would prove that neither Julius Cæsar, nor Alexander, nor even Tamerlane, has been a greater scourge to the human race than the present Emperor Nicholas.-The Emperors Alexander and Nicholas, by Dr. Lee.
From the Quarterly Review.
SAMUEL FOOTE, THE HUMORIST.*
FEW things are in their nature so fleeting as a joker's reputation. Within a generation it lives and dies. The jest may survive, but the jester is forgotten, and it is wit that flies unclaimed of any man; or, more frequently; jest and jester both have passed away, and darkness has swallowed up the fireworks altogether. And this perhaps is better than to outlive liking, even in so trumpery a matter as a broad grin. Horace Walpole has told us how much Lord Leicester suffered who had such a run in George the First's reign, when, having retired for a few years, he returned to town with a new generation, recommenced his old routine, and was taken for a driveller;
and one would not choose to have been that
But it is not simply that this kind of reputation has small value or duration in itself, but that it lowers any higher claim in its possessor. Laughter runs a losing race against the decencies and decorums; and even Swift, when he would have taken his proper place on the topmost round of the ladder, was tripped up by the "Tale of a Tub" So much the weaker his chances, whose laughter has dealt with what partakes itself of the transi tory; who has turned it against the accidents and follies of life; who has connected it with the obtrusive peculiarities of character, as much as with its substance and realities; and who must therefore look to be himself not always fairly associated with the trivialities he has singled out for scorn. In life, and in books, it is the same. It is wonderful how seldom men of great social repute have been permitted to enjoy any other; and there is written wisdom of old date to this day unappreciated, because of the laughing and light exterior it presents to us. In an age of little
Of the three books whose title-pages are transcribed at the head of this article, the reader may candidly be told that it is not our intention to say anything. What we are going to write is suggested by what we have not found in them. In the first, an ingenious Frenchman, and noted Anglo-maniac, reveals the discoveries he has made of eccentric Englishmen, from Swift to Charles Lamb. In the second, a contemporary English humorist, himself of no small distinction, eloquently discourses of his illustrious predecessors from Addison to Goldsmith, and passes upon them some hasty and many subtle sentences. universally popular wit of the reign of the third, a young and deserving writer, Charles the First, who, according to Sir Wil-whose cleverness would be not less relished liam Temple, was found to be an intolerable
bore at the court of Charles the Second.
if a little less familiar and self-satisfied in tone, takes in hand the whole subject of Satire and Satirists, dismisses Q. Horatius Flaccus with the same easy decision as Mr. Punch, and is as much at home with Juvenal and George Buchanan as with Thomas Moore and Theodore Hook. Yet in these three successive volumes-full of English heroes, of eccentricity, humor, and satire, there is One name altogether omitted which might have stood as the type of all; being that of an Englishman as eccentric, humorous, and satirical as any this nation has bred. To the absent figure in the procession, therefore,
we are about to turn aside to offer tribute. and to show its claims to have been reWe propose to speak of that forgotten name; membered, even though it now be little more than a name.
* Les Excentriques et les Humoristes Anglais au Dixhuitième Siècle. Par M. Philarète Chasles. Paris. 1848.
The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century. By W. M. Thackeray. London. 1853. Satire and Satirists. By James Hannay.
wit and perpetual joking, this is a fault which has not much chance of remedy.
It was once both a terrible and a delightful reality. It expressed a bitterness of sarcasm and ridicule unexampled in England; and a vivacity, intelligence, and gaiety, a ready and unfailing humor, to which a parallel could scarcely be found among the choicest wits of France. It was the name of a man so popular and diffused, that it would be difficult to say to what class of his countrymen he gave the greatest amount of amusement; it was the name of a man also more dreaded, than any since his who laid the princes of Europe