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individuals. It is a great exaggeration, no doubt, to affirm (p. 146), that with two exceptions among the judges, of persons who, "by some accident, did not directly owe their appointments to Lord Melville, there were not fifteen other men in the island to whom political independence was more offensive than to the fifteen judges." The story is evidently coloured, if not altogether fanciful, of their old habit being to have wine as well as cakes on the bench before them, and that those who remained after Lord Cockburn came to the Bar, continued the practice of drinking pretty heartily while business went on; so that" though the strong-headed stood it tolerably well, yet it told plainly enough upon the feeble; not that the ermine was absolutely intoxicated, but it was certainly sometimes affected." Indeed, the whole of p. 345 has a fancy dress. The picture of his near connection Lord Hermand belongs to this class of caricature, to all appearance making him, though an amiable man, of some ability, and of perfect integrity, yet exceedingly ridiculous, and from his unimportance in all respects, not perhaps worth describing at all, certainly not worth describing in such minute detail. It may be noted that Lord Cockburn is very far indeed from sparing himself: his account is throughout more than modest of his own pretensions. But a tone of exaggeration is here perceivable. Thus, as regards his earliest days, and his master, whom he represents as beyond conception unqualified to teach, he records himself as flogged once in ten days during four years, as never getting a single prize, and as an habitual dunce; and he afterwards says, that of all the speakers at the Speculative Society (76), "he was decidedly the worst, and the most unpromising;" which statement may be supposed an exaggeration, from the company it is found in; for he adds, "worse, perhaps, than even Charles and Robert Grant, both of whom have since risen to high stations in private and in public life." It was, we believe, never denied that these two eminent individuals, Lord Glenelg and his truly-esteemed and lamented brother, had begun to distinguish themselves at that early period by their eloquence. He describes himself as having been very uneasy at the position in which he was placed of presiding at a great dinner given to Mr. Brougham, in 1825, and tells a
story, which clearly, and on the face of it, is fancy, of that gentleman expressing his extreme alarm at having to address so much larger a meeting than he had ever before seen (above 800) under one roof (p. 426). To try how far the accuracy of this statement was possible, we looked to the only two volumes of Hansard within reach, and found that a few days after the dinner, Mr. Brougham had addressed, gallery included, above 700, a few weeks before, above 600,-the occasion on which Mr. Canning, anticipating his speech, made the quotation—
Experto credite quantus
In clypeum adsurgat, quo turbíne torqueat hastam ;"
and, 22 June, 1820, above 700. Now to suppose that the difference of 100 or 150 could make the Edinburgh audience so much more formidable, is ridiculous; and Lord Cockburn manifestly confounded two perfectly different things. Mr. Brougham must have expressed the horror he felt, like all practical speakers, at speaking about nothing,-speaking for mere speaking's sake; a horror of the epideictic oratory which made Mr. Fox all his life incapable of uttering three sentences at an after-dinner discussion.
A remarkable incident was connected with Lord President Blair's funeral. Lord Melville died suddenly the night before; having, before he retired to bed, written a letter to Mr. Perceval on behalf of his oldest friend's family, which he intended to put in the post-office after the funeral; speaking nunc pro tunc, he said he had just returned from attending on that occasion. This accident prevented the letter from being used; but Lord Cockburn adds a colouring to the simple fact. He He says that this letter "gave a feeling account of his emotions at the president's funeral; it was a fancy piece" (p. 258). From all we know of the matter, the "fancy piece" is Lord Cockburn's, not Lord Melville's, who was the last man in the world to give "a feeling account of his emotions," and only said that he had returned from attending the funeral of his oldest friend.
It may not be worth while to note minor inaccuracies in this book, though these are calculated to impair the reader's confidence. Thus Dr. Adam, highly and most justly praised, is represented as wholly unacquainted with the political events of
VOL. I. NO. II.
the day, so that it may be doubted if he ever knew one public measure or man from another" (p. 6); but spoke of liberty from his classical recollections. They who remember that excellent, useful man, give a very different account of his familiarity with the topics of the day. Then Henry Erskine's presiding at a public meeting against the war, is given as the ground of the Faculty of Advocates removing him from the deanship it was, we are pretty confident, a meeting against what were called the "Gagging Bills" of Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville. The hopes of the Tories on Mr. Canning's death-portending a return of their power-are said to have continued for some weeks, but to have been dashed to the ground by "Lord Lansdowne's becoming Home Secretary, with Abercromby and Kennedy as his chief Scotch advisers" (p. 148). Now this is, both in conception and execution, a pure "fancy piece," to use the author's language on another occasion, because every one knows that Lord Lansdowne was Home Secretary some time before Mr. Canning's death, and the only change which then took place was Lord Goderich leaving the Colonies for the Treasury. Other inaccuracies might easily be pointed out. We are told that the account of Professor Ferguson's temper (p. 50) is not correct; that of Professor Robison's ailment is certainly inaccurate (p. 56). The description of Dr. Macknight (erroneously called Thomas, his name being James) is said to be much caricatured; and that Principal Robertson's "language was good, honest, national Scotch" (p. 55), is contrary to all the accounts which remain of him, he being, except in the pronunciation, a scrupulous adherent to the English vocabulary, as Mr. Hill Burton has related also of Mr. Hume, though he, like his brother historian, never laid aside the Doric tones.
It is impossible to question the excellent qualities of Lord Cockburn, or to doubt his talents and information; least of all can any one deny his strict integrity. When we have called in question his severe judgments on some persons, and his statements of facts on many subjects, we have expressed our dissent from the one, and our disbelief of the other, on account of the strong party bias under which he manifestly laboured, and the love of collecting and retailing anecdotes by which he
was actuated. That with all the deductions which can be made from the authority of his book, it will still have many readers, and deserve to have them, we are quite ready to admit; but it was necessary, out of regard to the correctness and purity of legal history, as well as from a sense of justice towards parties no longer alive to defend themselves, and who have left no representatives to undertake their vindication, that we should examine the work narrowly, and prevent the currency of that which, how innocent soever in its origin, nay, however well meant as regarded the design, was nevertheless mingled with, and sometimes entirely founded upon, error.
It has of late years been a prevailing practice to publish, soon after a person's decease, his correspondence, his diaries, or other notes which he may have left as to occurrences in which he bore a part, or of which he was a near observer. That much has been made public which ought never to have seen the light, is unquestionable, and that the memory of the departed authors has been often more injured than the credit of those respecting whom they wrote, cannot be denied; yet as regards both the truth of history and the character of individuals, it may be well suggested that this hasty publication has important advantages. Doubtless it might be far better that all men's statements, whether of fact or of opinion, should be publicly made by themselves, under the checks and safeguards of their personal responsibility; nor can anything be conceived more reprehensible than for men to pursue the course which in some has been so justly reprobated, collecting gossip, mixed with much slander, to be printed after their death, as in Mr. T. Moore's case, for the benefit of their family; or as in M. Châteaubriand's, for his own anticipated profit. But if such things must see the light, and only after their author's decease, it is better that publicity should be given early than at a remote period, when there can exist little chance of the truth being brought out, from the want of contemporary witnesses, or the loss of other contradictory or explanatory evidence. The early publication of Lord Cockburn's Remains falls within the scope of this observation; and has given the means of offering a correction to errors which might otherwise have both been
detrimental to historical truth, and worked injustice to individuals. We have repeatedly had occasion to undertake the defence of those who, like Lord Eldon, had left no relatives who could protect his memory; or like Lord Erskine,1 had left relatives who did not think fit to come forward in his vindication. The entire opposition of our sentiments upon almost all subjects in the former instance, far from making this duty less incumbent, only seemed to call the more for a strict performance of an act of justice. Of those, chiefly assailed by the work before us, we have to the full as great a disapprobation in respect to opinions and errors,-in many particulars in respect to conduct. But we have felt, that seeing error corrected, and therefore justice done, was the more imperative duty; and let it be added, in all sincerity, we have felt the most pure satisfaction in the discharge of it.
ART. II.-ON PROBATE OF WILLS.
HE historical method, though understood before the age
has, in legal matters, been
applied in England with but small research and very little accuracy. The tentamina in this direction of that learned judge, with the exception of those which relate to constitutional matters, are such as to excite regret only for so distinguished a name in the minds of the present generation.
But these failures have nothing to do with the merits of the system, which have been proved, and are indisputable. In
1 It became necessary to state the fact as regarded Lord Erskine, when the absurd stories were published by party organs of causes left undecided, but also when Lord Stanhope thought proper, in his History of the Times, to pronounce an opinion, as confident as it was groundless, and to those even moderately acquainted with the subject, ridiculous, on that great man's literary merits. We perceive a singularly ill-informed critic, in the Edinburgh Review, has lately held up to admiration Lord Stanhope's account of individuals, in his classing Lord Althorpe with the fainéant_leaders of party. The same writer represents Mr. Fox as never attending Parliament from 1792 to 1804! Such things are incredible.