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Since he became the head of the Queen's Bench he has occasionally appeared in the field of letters on questions connected with municipal or public law, but not in a way to invite respect at home, or attention beyond the limits of Great Britain.
A few years ago he published a monogram on the subject of nationality, in which he reproduced in an abridged form [but quite incorrectly, as the remarks of a most competent judge, Mr. Beach Lawrence, on droit d'aubaine, tend to show) the matter contained in the report of a commission appointed by the Government to inquire into and report upon the laws of naturalization and allegiance in England.
Again, when it was proposed to arraign Nelson and Brand as criminals in England for acts committed in Jamaica under proclamation of martial law, Sir Alexander Cockburn delivered a voluminous charge to the grand jury, which he afterward published with addi. tions and notes, notwithstanding the partiality and the urgency of which, the grand jury refused to find a bill; and it must be confessed that, as a charge, it was passionate, vague, declamatory, and confused; and as an exposition of law, it is valueless when compared with the treatises of Mr. Finlason, in England, and of Mr. Whiting, in America, on the same subject.
This charge, and some proceedings by which it was followed, provoked much criticism. Mr. Gathorne Hardy, for instance, called attention to the fact that the Chief Justice “vacillated,” that he “went from one side to another," so as to render it doubtful what his opinions really were; and Mr.
Hardy, as well as Mr. Mill, who spoke on the other side of the general question, said that the charge was “not law," and was “without legal authority.” Mr. Finlason, a most competent authority, said that,“ although the charge dealt so largely in denunciation," it was “utterly indeterminate and indecisive;" that “it avowed a state of entire doubt;" that, though “there was much denunciation of law laid down [by others], there was no positive declaration of law laid down by the Chief Justice.” The same writer also points out grave mistakes of history as well as errors of law in this charge. Thus, the Chief Justice assumes, as a cardinal thought, that martial law and military law are one and the same thing: a mistake, which implies extraordinary confusion of mind, forgetfulness of his own official opinions in the inci. dents of the rebellion in Ceylon, and ignorance of the most commonplace events of English history, for instance, as detailed in Hallam and Macaulay,
I allude to these criticisms for the reason that, as will appear in the sequel, the same singular intellect . ual traits and moral characteristics of the Chief Justice, which became conspicuous at Geneva, had shown themselves on the Queen's Bench, and had attracted the notice of his fellow-countrymen.
I refer to this charge for another cause. It is difficult for many reasons to measure the exact personal value of ordinary legal opinions delivered, in the course of adjudication, by any judge of the Queen's Bench. All such difficulties cease when he goes out of his way to deliver a demonstrative charge to a
grand jury on one of the semi-political questions of the day, and especially when such charge is carefully revised for the Press, with additions and annotations by himself. Then we have the most satisfactory means of estimating the mental character of that judge. And such is the case here, to the effect of lowering greatly our estimation of the Chief Justice.
A later incident in his judicial career also throws some light on his character, and deserves notice in this connection.
When it was proposed to commence proceedings against Governor Eyre, growing out of what had been done in Jamaica under the same proclamation, Mr. Justice Blackburn delivered a charge to the grand jury, in the course of which he said: “As to the judges of my own court, the Lord Chief Justice, my brother Mellor, my brother Lush, and my brother Hannen,... yesterday I stated to them the effect of what I am now stating to you, and they all ap. proved of it, and authorized me to say, of course, not relieving me from my responsibility, or absolutely binding them, for of course they have not considered it so thoroughly and judicially as I have been obliged to do,-still they authorize me to say they agree
my view of the law, and thought it right.” week later, when the case had been entirely disposed of, the Chief Justice, while sitting on the Bench, denied, with unseemly warmth of language and manner, that he had assented to the law as laid down by Mr. Justice Blackburn; but explained the alleged difference of opinion in such obscure lan
guage as to render it scarcely intelligible. Mr. Justice Blackburn replied, reiterating in temperate language his statement that the Chief Justice had expressly assented to the legal doctrine of the charge, and his colleagues, Justices Mellor, Lush, and Hannen, gave no support to the denial made by the Chief Justice.
The qualities of character exhibited in this incident were the occasion at the time of unfavorable commentary on the part of the British Press and public.
Sir Alexander Cockburn had seemed, on superficial view, a fit person to take part in the important duties committed to the Tribunal of Arbitration. He carried thither the prestige of judicial rank, as the head of one of the most venerable courts of Europe. And he was thorough master of the language in which the discussions of the Tribunal were conducted.
But, unfortunately, it would seem that neither the original constitution of his mind, nor the studies, pursuits, or habits of his life, had fitted him for calm, im. partial, judicial examination of great questions of public law. The same straits of confused thought, equivocation in matters of law, tendency to declamatory denunciation of adversary opinions, which provoked and justified the criticisms of Mr. Finlason, Mr. Gathorne Hardy, and others, and which prompted conflict with Mr. Justice Blackburn, reappeared in more vivid colors at Geneva.
Of the offensive singularities of his deportment as
Arbitrator, we shall have but too much necessity to speak in describing the acts of the Tribunal.
MR. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
In the American Arbitrator, Mr. Charles Francis Adams, the Tribunal had a member worthy of the companionship of Count Frederic Sclopis.
In the United States, persons have been found so foolish as to reproach Mr. Adams because of the his.' torical eminence of his father and of his grandfather, and even because of the intelligence and cultivation of his sons: as if it were a crime in a Republic for a father to have a good son, or a son a good father, or to live in the holy atmosphere of a succession of wise and virtuous mothers.
Besides, if it be meritorious to rise to distinction from lowliness and poverty, it is not less so to resist and overcome the obstacles to personal distinction created by parental station or wealth. In this, which is the only correct view of the subject, all men are self-made. The attributes of Mr. Charles Francis Adams are his own: distinguished parliamentary career in the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts and in the Congress of the United States,-literary merits of a high order as displayed in his “Life and Writings of John Adams,”—able diplomatic repre. sentation of his Government in Great Britain during the whole dark period of our Civil War. He possessed qualities, acquirements, and experience, general and special, which seemed to invite his appointment as American Arbitrator; and in the discharge of the