« PreviousContinue »
IN this little volume will be found a series of
short biographical notices of some of our
most renowned English lawyers, having reference principally to the earlier period of their lives, and occasionally detailing a few of their more remarkable "sayings and doings."
From Lord Campbell's “Lives of the Chief-Justices” and of “the Chancellors” I have principally derived my information; and to those delightful volumes the young student is directed, that he may acquaint himself with these illustrious characters in full-drawn portraiture.
This work, designed as a school-prize book, will, it is hoped, stir the mind of many a youth to emulate the worthy example and tread in the footsteps of the eminent men who have from age to age filled the highest places in our Courts of Judicature, and who are among the greatest benefactors and brightest ornaments of our nation.
LIVES AND DOINGS
HILE engaged in preparing these biographical
sketches for the press, I have frequently called
to remembrance an evening I spent, many years ago, in company with the eminent and well-known jurist, the late Mr. John Austin. I saw him under very favourable circumstances, when none were present but his intimate friends and connections, and he was drawn into a long and deeply interesting talk. On returning home I took notes of what he had said, and as some of his observations had reference to the subject of jurisprudence, I have determined to give them here.
After he had been speaking at some length on the subject of languages and dialects, the conversation took a different turn. My father was desirous to obtain Mr. Austin's opinion respecting the question of law as relating to the Christian economy-to the religion of the
New Testament. On this point he stated it to be his opinion that the sanctions of the gospel are drawn from a higher source—that, in fact, there is no such thing as statute or law laid down in the New Testament. The appeal is made to another and higher principle, superior to all the sanctions of law, and having its source from within ;-in which sense he understood the passage in the Romans, "Being a law to themselves," as he said this was a metaphorical expression, and could not be literally taken; it being impossible for a man to make laws for himself, the fact being evident that he could at any time abrogate a self-imposed rule. He further went on to observe, respecting the much contested subject of the freedom of the will, that, in his opinion, there could be no such thing, for that it resolved itself into a question of choice or object--the bondage of the will to sin and evil being exchanged for a subjection of the will to higher influences.
He said, in reference to Christianity, that it is decidedly the most original thing that has ever been presented to view in our world; that its character is entirely unique; and that any man deeply acquainted with history, and able to go back along the records it gives, must feel that the influence of Christianity has done more to humanize than any other cause. Anybody looking into the laws of the more excellent
the emperors—of the Antonines and Adrians, and those called models of piety and goodness—will be at once convinced of the truth of this. The slave is put beyond the pale of humanity; the influence of the principle, “Do to others as you would that they should do to you," is unknown, unfelt; nor is such a sanction anywhere to be found, taken in its true extent,