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party, and in common with them deprecate the doctrine of nullification, now inculcated by the dominant party in that state, 'yet they do not believe it to be proper, and therefore decline the appointment of delegates by this legislature to attend said proposed convention.'
Bank of the United States.-A resolution was passed' approving the veto on the bill re-chartering' this bank, and 'the measures of policy recommended and pursued by the present administration of the General Government.'
JOHN DUNNING-LORD ASHBURTON.
[The name of John Dunning frequently appears among the counsel in Burrow's Reports, which are so often cited in our courts that an American lawyer naturally has as much curiosity respecting those whose names appear in the cases there reported as respecting those who appear in our own reports. We accordingly extract the most striking passages of a biographical sketch of Mr. Dunning, afterwards Lord Ashburton, in the London Law Magazine for April, 1833.]
John Dunning began life without any of the advantages attendant upon birth and fortune. His family was originally from Gnatham, in the neighborhood of Tavistock, in Devonshire; but his father had settled at Ashburton, in the same county, where he practised as an attorney. He had married the daughter of a Mr. Henry Judsham, of Old Port, in the parish of Modbury; and the fruits of the match were in all three children, the eldest of whom, a boy, died in his infancy, and the youngest, a daughter, at a more advanced age, but unmarried. The John Dunning of whom we have here to speak, was his second son. He was born on the 18th of October, 1731, in the house where his father resided and carried on his business, which house is still standing, and is pointed out at this day to the stranger by the townspeople of Ashburton, with no little pride and complacency. They have also John Ford, the dramatic author, to boast of as a native of their town, or at least of its immediate vicinity, and of its having produced in more modern times two men of considerable note in the world of letters; namely, Dr. Ireland, the Dean of Westminster, and Mr. Gifford, the late editor of the Quarterly Review.
There was another young man at the same time a student in the Temple with Dunning, whose career in this respect had been similar, and whose success afterwards kept pace with his own; namely, Kenyon, who became the successor of Lord Mansfield in the Court of King's Bench. Dunning and he were on terms of very close intimacy. Horne, better known afterwards as Horne Tooke, who was then keeping terms at the Inner Temple, was one of their habitual associates; and from his account of their mode of living, it appears that they all three found it advisable to circumscribe their expenses within the very strictest bounds of economy. Out of term, they used generally to dine at a small eating-house near Chancery-lane, where their meal was supplied to them at the charge of seven-pence halfpenny a head. 'Dunning and myself were generous,' added Tooke, when telling this
to his friend Mr. Stephens, ' for we gave the girl who waited upon us a penny a-piece; but Kenyon, who always knew the value of money, sometimes rewarded her with a halfpenny, and sometimes with a promise.'
For some time after his call to the bar, which is recorded as having taken place on the 2d of July, 1756, matters did not mend with Dunning, so far as regarded his finances. He travelled the western circuit,' says Mr. Polwhele, in his history of Devonshire, but had not a single brief; and had Lavater been at Exeter in the year 1759, he must have sent counsellor Dunning to the hospital of idiots. Not a feature marked him for the son of wisdom.' His appearance, indeed, was singularly unprepossessing. His stature was of the smallest, and his limbs, though none of them absolutely deformed, (unless, indeed, considerable bandiness, and an unusual protrusion of the shin bones in front, may be said to have merited that title for his legs,) were ill-shaped and awkwardly put together; nor were the defects of his figure at all atoned for by any counterbalancing beauties of countenance. The feature that would most probably have produced upon Lavater the unfavorable impression above hinted at, was a short and peculiarly cocked nose, which, if we recollect right, the philosopher of Zurich upholds to be an unfailing symptom of small intellect.
In the case of Combe v. Pitt, (Trinity term, 1763,) which arose out of the election for Ilvechester in Somersetshire, it fell to his task to argue a demurrer; and the ability with which he acquitted himself upon the occasion drew forth a handsome compliment from Lord Mansfield. The gentlemen on both sides,' he said, (the other was Mr. Yates, not long afterwards a judge of the court,) had both argued like lawyers, and had uttered not a word too much or a word too little.'
About this time his practice is said to have netted him nearly a thousand a year, and he had every prospect of seeing it gradually augmented by that steady increase which almost every man of perseverance and ability may fairly count upon at the bar, when he has once got what Dunning had now obtained, but what so many of the profession are, like Archimedes, vainly looking out for all their lives, namely, a spot whereupon to place the fulcrum. At the conclusion of this year, (1763) however, he had the good fortune to be engaged in a case, upon the event of which the attention of the whole kingdom may be said to have been most anxiously directed, and in consequence he found himself raised at one single bound to the eminence he might otherwise have toiled many a weary year to attain. The case we allude to was the prosecution
instituted by Leach the bookseller against the messengers, who had seized his papers and imprisoned his person under the authority of the general warrant issued by the Secretary of State for the arrest of the persons concerned in the publication of the North Briton. For his brief in this cause he was indebted to the recommendation of his friend Wilkes. They had been on terms of intimacy from a very early period of Dunning's professional career, a time when both were frequent attendants of an evening at Nando's, and George's, and the Grecian, and other coffeehouses about the Temple, which, though principally patronized by the lawyers who had their residence in the immediate neighborhood, still retained sufficient of their former character as the resort of literary men, to secure them the occasional presence of the same class of loungers who had been wont to haunt them in the days of the Tatler and the Spectator. This was not the only occasion of Dunning's being indebted for business to Wilkes, before his celebrity at the bar had placed him above the want of any such exertion of friendship in his behalf.
Before the courts in bank and at nisi prius he was equally, both as to practice and ability, the leading common law barrister of Westminster Hall; and it was a question with many, in which situation of the two he appeared to the greatest advantage. He had all the legal learning and the sound logic which could qualify him for shining in the first; and he wanted not either the acuteness, the wit, or the eloquence, that may be displayed in the second. In legal argument, though his diction was more concise than in his addresses to juries, he seldom neglected a single topic that could be adduced in his favor, and rarely sat down without having completely exhausted his subject; leaving little else for the junior who had to follow on the same side, but repetition. His fluency was almost unbounded. Such an accident as stopping short for want of words was unknown to him; for if by chance it so happened, that the appropriate expression did not suggest itself to his mind simultaneously with the idea, and he was for the moment at a loss, he had the art never to betray the embarrassment by hesitation, but to repeat part of the last sentence he had uttered, as if merely for the sake of impressing it with greater earnestness; in the course of which process, brief as it was, he had full time to find the word he was in search of. With all this his utterance was extremely rapid; and yet it is a singular fact, that while many distinguished orators in the habit of speaking very slowly, Mansfield and Thurlow for instance, have been remarked to commit frequent inaccuracies of grammar, the extreme volubility of Dun
ning scarcely ever betrayed him into any. His diction was for the most part neat and perspicuous; and though occasionally a sentence might be lengthened out into parentheses one within the other, or so involved in quaint turns as to form a labyrinth from whence none of his hearers could see any outlet, he had a peculiarly happy facility in finding the close. In short, his periods might dangle in the air ever so long, but in the end were sure to fall to the ground, and fall too on their legs. This kind of sentences occurred just often enough in his discourse to give the whole the air of entire extemporisation, which the generality of Dunning's auditors never doubted his speeches to be, and which in the common routine of cases they no doubt were. We need hardly say how important a quality is the appearance of improvisation in public speaking.
To this sketch of his style of oratory we will here add an extract from a character of Dunning written by Sir William Jones. If any thing should appear exaggerated in the passage we mean to quote, (the account of his wit, for example,) it will be only necescessary to recollect that Dunning had been the friend and patron of the author.
'His language was always pure, always elegant, and the best words dropped easily from his lips into the best places, with a fluency at all times astonishing, and, when he had perfect health, really melodious. His style of speaking consisted of all the turns, oppositions, and figures which the old rhetoricians taught, and which Cicero frequently practised, but which the austere and solemn spirit of Demosthenes refused to adopt from his first master, and seldom admitted into his orations, political or forensic. Many at the bar and on the bench thought this a vitiated style; but though dissatisfied as critics, yet, to the confusion of all criticism, they were transported as hearers. That faculty, however, in which no mortal ever surpassed him, and which all found irresistible, was his wit. This relieved the weary, calmed the resentful, and animated the drowsy; this drew smiles even from such as were the object of it, scattered flowers over a desert, and, like sunbeams sparkling on a lake, gave spirit and vivacity to the dullest and least interesting cause. Not that his accomplishments as an advocate consisted principally in volubility of speech or liveliness of raillery. He was endowed with an intellect sedate yet penetrating, chaste yet profound, subtle yet strong. His knowledge, too, was equal to his imagination, and his memory to his knowledge. He was no less deeply learned in the sublime principles of jurisprudence and the particular laws of his country,