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Holt's house in Bedford Row, the Chief Justice was equal to the occasion. “I come to you,” said Lacy, prophet from the Lord God, who has sent me to thee and would have thee grant a nolle prosequi for John Atkins, his servant, whom thou hast sent to prison.” Whereto the judge answered, with proper emphasis, “Thou art a false prophet and a lying knave. If the Lord God had sent thee, it would have been to the Attorney General, for the Lord God knows that it belongeth not to the Chief Justice, to grant a nolle prosequi; but I, as Chief Justice, can grant a warrant to commit thee to John Atkins's company.” Whereupon the false prophet, sharing the fate of many a true one, was forthwith clapped in prison.
Now that so much has been said of Thurlow's brutal sarcasms, justice demands for his memory an acknowledgment that he possessed a vein of genuine humor that could make itself felt without wounding. In his undergraduate days at Cambridge he is said to have worried the tutors of Caius with a series of disorderly pranks and impudent escapades, but on one occasion he unquestionably displayed at the university the quick wit that in after life rescued him from many an embarrassing position. “ Sir,” observed a tutor, giving the unruly undergraduate a look of disapproval, “I never come to the window without seeing you idling in the court.” “Sir,” replied young Thurlow, imitating the don's tone, “I never come into the court without seeing you idling at the window.” Years later, when he had become a great man, and John Scott was paying him assiduous court, Thurlow said, in ridicule of the mechanical awkwardness of many successful equity draughtsmen, “ Jack Scott, don't you think we could invent a machine to draw bills and answers in Chancery?' Having laughed at the suggestion when it was made, Scott put away the droll thought in his memory ; and when he
had risen to be Attorney General reminded Lord Thurlow of it under rather awkward circumstances. Macnamara, the conveyancer, being concerned as one of the principals in a Chancery suit, Lord Thurlow advised him to submit the answer to the bill filed against him to the Attorney General. In due course the answer came under Scott's notice, when he found it so wretchedly drawn, that he advised Macnamara to have another answer drawn by some one who understood pleading. On the same day he was engaged at the bar of the House of Lords, when Lord Thurlow came to him, and said, “So I understand you don't think my friend Mac's answer will do ?” “Do !” Scott replied, contemptuously. “My Lord, it won't do at all! it must have been drawn by that wooden machine which you once told me might be invented to draw bills and answers.” “That's very unlucky,” answered Thurlow, “and impudent too, if you had known—that I drew the answer myself.”
Lord Lyndhurst used to maintain that it was one of the chief duties of a judge to render it disagreeable to counsel to talk nonsense. Jeffreys in his milder moments no doubt salved his conscience with the same doctrine, when he recalled how, after elating him with a compliment, he struck down the rising junior with “Lord, sir ! you must be cackling too. We told you, Mr. Bradbury, your objection was very ingenious ; that must not make you troublesome : you cannot lay an egg, but
you must be cackling over it." Doubtless, also, he felt it one of the chief duties of a judge to restrain attorneys from talking nonsense when- -on hearing that the solicitor from whom he received his first brief had boastfully remarked, in allusion to past services, “My Lord Chancellor ! I made him !"-he exclaimed, “Well, then, I'll lay my maker by
—, the heels,” and forthwith committed his former client and patron to the Fleet prison. If this bully of the bench
actually, as he is said to have done, interrupted the venerable Maynard by saying, “You have lost your knowledge of law; your memory, I tell you, is failing through old age,” how must every hearer of the speech have exulted when Maynard quietly answered, “ Yes, Sir George, I have forgotten more law than you ever learned ; but allow me to say, I have not forgotten much.”
On the other hand it should be remembered that Maynard was a man eminently qualified to sow violent animosities, and that he was a perpetual thorn in the flesh of the political barristers, whose principles he abhorred. A subtle and tricky man, he was constantly misleading judges by citing fictitious authorities, and then smiling at their professional ignorance when they had swallowed his audacious fabrications. Moreover, the manner of his speech was sometimes as offensive as its substance was dishonest. Strafford spoke a bitter criticism not only with regard to Maynard and Glyn, but with regard to the prevailing tone of the bar, when, describing the conduct of the advocates who managed his prosecution, he said : “Glynne and Maynard used me like advocates, but Palmer and Whitelock like gentlemen ; and yet the latter left out nothing against me that was material to be urged against me.” As a Devonshire man Maynard is one of the many cases which
may be cited against the smart saying of Sergeant Davy, who used to observe: “ The further I journey toward the West, the more convinced I am that the wise men come from the East.” But shrewd, observant, liberal though he was in most respects, he was on one matter so far behind the spirit of the age that, blinded and ruled by an unwise sentiment, he gave his parliainentary support to an abortive measurə to prevent further building in London and the neighborhood.” In support of this measure he observed, “This building is the ruin of the gentry and ruin of religion, as leaving many good
people without churches to go to. This enlarging of Lon
. don makes it filled with lacqueys and pages. In St. Giles's parish scarce the fifth part come to church, and we shall have no religion at last.”
Whilst justice has suffered something in respect of dignity from the overbearing temper of judges to counsel from collisions of the bench with the bar, and from the mutual hostility of rival advocates, she has at times sustained even greater injury from the jealousies and altercations of judges. Too often wearers of the ermine, sitting on the same bench, nominally for the purpose of assisting each other, have roused the laughter of the bar, and the indignation of suitors, by their petty squabbles. “It now comes to my turn,” an Irish judge observed, when it devolved on him to support the decision of one or the other of two learned coadjutors, who had stated with more fervor than courtesy altogether irreconcilable opinions_“It now comes to my turn to declare my view of the case, and fortunately I can be brief. I agree with my brother A, from the irresistible force of my brother B's arguments.” Extravagant as this case may appear, the King's Bench of Westminster Hall, under Mansfield and Kenyon, witnessed several not less scandalous and comical differences. Taking thorough pleasure in his work, Lord Mansfield was not less industrious than impartial in the discharge of his judicial functions ; so long as there was anything for him to learn with regard to a cause, he not only sought for it with pains but with a manifest pleasure similar to that delight in judicial work which caused the French Advocate, Cottu, to say of Vr. Justice Bayley : “Il s'amuse à juger :" but notwithstanding these good qualities, he was often culpably deficient in respect for the opinions of his subordinate coadjutors. At times a vain desire to impress on the minds of spectators that his intellect was the paramount power of the
bench ; at other times a personal dislike to one of his puisnes caused him to derogate from the dignity of his court, in cases where he was especially careful to protect the interests of suitors. With silence more disdainful than any words could have been, he used to turn away from Mr. Justice Willes, at the moment when the latter expected his chief to ask his opinion ; and on such occasions the indignant puisne seldom had the prudence and nerve to conceal his mortification. “I have not been consulted, and I will be heard !” he once shrieked forth in a paroxysm of rage caused by Mansfield's contemptuous treatment; and forty years afterwards Jeremy Bentham, who was a witness of the insult and its effect, observed : “At this distance of time-five-and-thirty or forty years
the feminine scream issuing out of his manly frame still tingles in my ears." Mansfield's overbearing demeanor to his puisnes was reproduced with less dignity by his successor ; but Buller, the judge who wore ermine whilst he was still in his thirty-third year, and who confessed that his “idea of heaven was to sit at Nisi Prius all day, and to play whist all night," seized the first opportunity to give Taffy Kenyon a lesson in good manners by stating, with impressive self-possession and convincing logic, the reasons which induced him to think the judgment delivered by his chief to be altogether bad in law and argument.
WITS IN SILK' AND PUNSTERS IN 'ERMINE.'
HILST Lord Camden held the chiefship of the
Common Pleas, he was walking with his friend Lord Dacre on the outskirts of an Essex village, when