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Hooke (as we have seen, page 185 of this article) as having been the first to perceive the possibility of the chronological identification of strata by fossils, but it cannot justify the defect of impartiality in the recent history. We have even remarked that throughout this volume our author is curious in his researches into the early history of English science--witness his allusion to Hooke (Rosmos, p. 466)—to Gilbert's proposal to determine latitude by magnetic dip (p. 429)—to Bacon on the form of continents (p. 307) -Childrey's first description of the zodiacal light (p. 409)—and Halley on the Cosmical origin of aërolites (p. 125); but this does not at all console us, but the reverse—for the sparing allusions to the great steps made in Great Britain in the modern branches of science. It is not enough that English books are cited as mere authorities for a fact, as Dr. Buckland's · Bridgewater Treatise' is not unfrequently. We miss the recognition of the place which our geologists are entitled to hold in the history of science, which was never so conspicuous as within the recollection of those now alive.
We have alluded to geology in particular, because the defect is striking, and because the subject is generally understood in this country. Perhaps in some other branches of science the deficiency is even more striking; but we do not choose to dwell upon a topic at once disagreeable and invidious; and we are very willing to conclude with an admission highly creditable to Baron Humboldt. We perceive no trace of personal ill-will or jealousy in any part of the book or its citations. In the part where our author has allowed most scope to his unbiassed and best informed judgment, there it is most impartial and most comprehensive. Distinguished as a traveller, he might have had some temptation to withhold or attenuate the praises which our British scientific navigators and explorers have so peculiarly merited. But it is exactly the reverse : the praises of Burnes, of Darwin, of Franklin, Beechey, and Ross, are amongst the most cordial in the book. Where our author could draw most on his own stores of knowledge, and was least subjected to the influence of less highminded friends, there his native generosity is best shown.
Art. VII.- History of the House of Commons from the Conven
tion Parliament of 1688-9 to the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. By W. Charles Townsend, Esq., A.M., Recorder of
Macclesfield. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1843. W E have here a collection of biographical notices of all the
W Speakers who have presided during the hundred and fortyfour years above defined, and of several Members of Parliament the most distinguished in that period. The selection of the latter has not been made on any very intelligible system; but much useful and curious information is scattered throughout the volumes. The life of Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, is the most laboured, and will be read with interest. It removes some of the imputations which have long rested upon a statesman who was much overpraised during his official life, and has since been unjustly disparaged: yet it leaves his character a mass of strange contradictions. An old Whig of Republican origin, at the head of the Tory ministry; a Presbyterian, deriving strength from his supposed devotion to the Church; a lover of letters and the liberal arts—the good-humoured associate of literary men in their leisure hours—so reserved and mysterious with all men in affairs of importance, as to repel attachment and confidence; the minister who felt that he owed everything to the partiality of a wayward sovereign, yet appears to have forgotten all the respect to which she was entitled; condemned by his position to manage the feelings of a royal prude,' and performing that most difficult task with success, though he occasionally entered her presence affected with liquor.
Mr. Townsend's judgment on public characters appears to be in general candid and dispassionate: we may wish that a greater number of parliamentary leaders had been introduced: nor can we think his apology for stopping so very short of our own times entirely satisfactory. The great majority of those whom he delineates are members of his own profession; and in Westminster Hall an opinion will probably prevail that he does not exemplify the old proverbial remark which he says has been frequently made in the House of Commons. •Touch a lawyer,' said Edmund Waller, and all the lawyers will squeak;' but if the same description cannot be given of this catalogue as that applied to Gilbert Burnet's · History of His Own Times '
And malefactors every one;' yet his legal portraits are frequently by no means flattering. Some who richly deserve the name are unsparingly shown up: but others, on whose merits a reasonable esprit de corps might have dilated with pride and satisfaction, are not placed in relief with the lustre which fairly belongs to them.
For instance, we may be puzzled to discover why the respectable Recorder of Macclesfield should designate the Lord Chief Justice Holt as one of the Dii minorum gentium. He, indeed, admits his name to be the greatest among these inferior deities, and that beyond comparison; a distinction likely enough to be disputed by the admirers of Lord Mansfield, if conferred on Holt merely as a judge—and which becomes still more questionable when the great success of that learned Lord as a parliamentary leader in both Houses is remembered ;—but we find no reason (except from the accident of his not having held the highest office in the law, nor filled the chair of the House of Cominons) for placing Holt in a lower class than Maynard, Lechmere, Baron Price, or even Sir Joseph Jekyll, who occupies the lowest rank among his
Dii majores. Mr. Townsend very properly rejects, and completely refutes a vulgar story of Holt having used coarse and offensive language to the Speaker of the House of Commons ; yet he whimsically rakes up another equally coarse anecdote of the same description not worth preserving, if true, and much more likely to be a stupid invention. But the fame of a judge must rest on his judicial conduct. With that of Holt we are peculiarly well acquainted; for his decisions, which have been handed down to posterity by a more numerous body of reporters than those of any other judge, have ever held the highest authority in our courts. Mr. Townsend justly calls his judgment in the case of Ashby v. White a 'noble judgment,' and gives a very short extract from it. On this important question the Chief Justice had the misfortune to differ from his three colleagues in court—a misfortune which he felt severely, as, by those who are imbued with the true judicial spirit, it always must be felt, though sometimes unavoidable. He was also constrained to differ from the recorded vote of the House of Cominons, who considered his views as inconsistent with their privileges, and had often and recently visited such expressions of dissent with their vengeance. In the opinion, however, which he conscientiously believed to be true Holt persisted, and ultimately had the satisfaction of seeing it adopted by a majority of the whole body of the judges, and by the House of Lords. We have thus all the assurance that authority can give that he was not blinded by any personal motive,-the puerile love of popularity, or a vulgar itch for braving a dignified assembly: that he did not perVOL, LXXVII. NO, CLIII.
vert the law, but on the contrary şayed it from perversion in its hour of peril, and by his resistance, long his sole resistance, defeated the attempt to set up an arbitrary power in England.
It may be thought that his character could afford to lose whatever a few trivial stories might detract from it. Perhaps so. But truth is not without its value. Human reputation in broad rumour lies,' and hundreds form their judgment from tales that pass current for one that weighs the real merits of the man. The story of Holt's insulting the Speaker had become, by dint of often telling, generally believed. Mr. Townsend styles it apocryphal, and demonstrates its falsehood. Wherefore, then, repeat it again? The other story rests on no better authority. But here also Holt may best defend himself; for the able and learned judgment referred to, and another growing from the same transaction, mark the gentleman and the scholar as well as the lawyer; a vein of simple and touching eloquence runs through them wholly inconsistent with the coarse dulness imputed.
Another Chief Justice—the late Lord Ellenborough-has likewise encountered the censure of this historian. The learned lord applied the following remarks to that yote of the Convention Parliament which consigned Sir Francis Pemberton and Sir Thomas Jones to Newgate:
'It is surprising, upon looking at the record in that case (an action against the Serjeant-at-arms for false imprisonment), how a judge should have been questioned and committed to prison by the House of Commons for having given a judgment which no judge who ever sat in this place could differ from. .... It was after the Revolution, which makes such a commitment for such a crime a little alarming. It must be recollected, that Lord Chief Justice Pemberton stood under the disadvantage, at that period, of having been one of the judges who sat on the trial of Lord Russell, and therefore did not stand high in popularity after the Revolution, when the judgment and attainder in that case had been re. cently reversed by Parliament. I would not, however, have it for a moment supposed that I cast the least reflection upon Lord Chief Justice Pemberton for his conduct in Court upon that trial. He was a man of eminent learning; and being no favourite of either party at that time (for he was shortly after that trial removed from his situation), was probably an honest man. Nor can I find any fault for his direction in matter of law upon that trial.'*
And the Attorney-General having described Pemberton, with reference to his examination before the House of Commons, as one of the boldest judges who ever spoke, Lord Ellenborough observed, that
* The same opinion is expressed by Mr. Phillipps in his valuable work respecting the State Trials, and was probably entertained by the government which removed Pemberton from his office immediately after.
‘Holt was still a bolder judge; for when he was summoned before a committee of the House of Commons, appointed to hear and report his reasons for his judgment in the Banbury case, he said that “if the record were removed before the Lords by Error, so that it came judicially before them, he would give his reasons very willingly, but he would not be questioned for the reasons of his judgment in that manner.”' This happened within a few years after the proceeding against Lord Chief Justice Pemberton, which no doubt Lord Holt had then in his contemplation.'- Burdett v. Abbott. On which Mr. Townsend is pleased to observe, speaking of the Convention Parliament, that their treatment of the judges who presided over the legal iniquities of the two preceding reigns has been severely censured, with more severity, perhaps, than the very peculiar occasion called for.'-vol.ii. p. 155.
Now we conceive that no occasion can furnish an excuse for manifest injustice, and that the only question here is, whether Lord Ellenborough's view of their treatment of the judges be correct. Mr. Townsend adopts the same view, informing us that
Sir Francis Pemberton's defence of his own judgment must un. deniably be deemed a sound exposition of the law.' Why, then, is he classed with the judges who presided over legal iniquities?' And is there any severity of censure in alleging, that the vote which condemned him to Newgate for rendering a just judgment was calculated to excite both surprise and a little alarm in the mind of one of his successors?
The fact is, that the Convențion Parliament is a decided favourite with this author: it may be styled his hero, as the Long Parliament has been styled the hero of Mrs. Catherine Macaulay's History. In his table of contents he observes that the Convention Parliament 'used their spiriting gently,' which phrase he thinks so appropriate that he repeats it in his text. He justifies the encomium by a negative kind of praise, which, dexterously employed, might shed a mild lustre over the names of Domitian or Nero,- by enumerating various outrages and excesses which they did not commit. They excepted but twenty-six persons from their Act of Indemnity; they directed few prosecutions; they did not · dabble in blood;' they even negatived a motion to hang 'two of the judges, according to the notable example of the head justice who was executed at Tyburn in Richard II.'s time, for a general example, at Westminster Hall gate.' He thinks that judges and crown lawyers might have been more hardly dealt with than they actually were, and for serious transgressions. The chief miscreant,' says Mr. Townsend, rising here into eloquence, 'Jeffries himself, ensanguined as in a scarlet robe, Jay at their mercy in the Tower;