Page images

his benefit at the like hours) by saving threepence during the next fortnight, buying with it Franklin's Life, and reading the first page. I am quite sure he will read the rest; I am almost quite sure he will resolve to spend his spare time and money, in gaining those kinds of knowledge which from a printer's boy made that_great man the first philosopher, and one of the first statesmen of his age. Few are fitted by nature to go as far as he did, and it is not necessary to lead so perfectly abstemious a life, and to be so rigidly saving of every instant of time. But all may go a good way after him, both in temperance, industry, and knowledge, and no one can tell before he tries how near he may be able to approach him."

We may here mention that in 1825, Lord Brougham was elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow; _bis opponent, Sir Walter Scott, lost the election by the casting vote of Sir James Mackintosh, in favour of Lord Brougham.

Among the originators of the London University, Lord Brougham occupies a foremost rank, and partly by the aid of his indefatigable talents, that establishment was opened, in 1828, within seventeen months from the day on which the first stone was laid,

Early in the year 1827 was established “the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,” of which Lord Brougham became, and continues to this day, chairman. In the original prospectus, issued under his sanction, we find " The object of the Society is strictly limited to what its title imports, namely, the imparting useful information to all classes of the community, particularly to such as are unable to avail themselves of experienced teachers, or may prefer learning by themselves.”_ The Society commenced their labours by a set of Treatises, the first or "Preliminary Treatise,” “On the objects, pleasures, and advantages of Science," being from the pen of Lord Brougham; and in perspicuity and popular interest, this treatise is unrivalled in our times. His Lordship is also understood, in conjunction with Mr. Charles Bell, to be engaged in illustrating with notes an edition of Paley's works, to be published by the above Society.

In the preceding outline of the political life of Lord Brougham, we have quoted but few points of his personal character. This has been so well drawn, and so recently too, that we are induced to adopt the following traits from a contemporary Magazine. The paper whence these are extracted, purports to be a description of the Lord Chancellor's first levee :

‘Unfeigned respect for, and a slight personal acquaintance with, the noble person who now holds the seals, led me to attend his last levee. The practice of receiving the respects of the public on one or two stated occasions is sufficiently ancient, but I have understood was discontinued, or not much observed, in the latter days of Lord Eldon. It was revived with somewhat greater splendour by Lord Lyndhurst, but still it attracted little public notice. I incline to think that it was reserved for Brougham to illustrate the ancient custom, by the splendour of those who chose to be dutiful to the Lord Chancellor. The fashion of going to court is such, that it infers little personal respect to the individual monarch; but the practice of attending the levee of an inferior personage is to be ascribed to the respect which individual eminence commands. When Lord Brougham announced his levees, it could not be known whether he should receive the homage of the aristocracy, to whom it was not supposed that his lordship’s 'politics were very amicable. moreover thought that the republican, or, to speak more guardedly, the whig Lord Chancellor would care little for a custom in which there was no manifest utility. He had declared that the gewgaws of office delighted him not; and 1 dare say he would fain bring his mind to believe that all ceremonial was idle, perhaps contemptible. But it is the greatest mistake to suppose that Lord Brougham is inattentive to the ceremonies with which his high place is surrounded. A careful observer will see clearly that imposing forms are per

Metropolitan, edited by T. Campbell, Esq.--No. 1.

It was

[ocr errors]


fectly agreeable to his mind; nobody could ridicule form better, so long as he beld no situation which required the observance of customary rules; but elevated to his present distinction, it is plain that he enjoys all the little peculiarieties of his office. Somebody said that he presided in the House of Lords in a bar whig, and instanced the fact as a proof of his reforming temper; but it was not true. Accident may have obliged him to take his seat in this ungainly form, but he had no purpose of deviating from the ancient full-bottom, and he is now to be seen in all the amplitude of the olden fleece. In like manner he observes the strict regime, so fantastical to a stranger, of causing counsel to be shouted for from without, although they are actually present; and he adds to the oddness of this custom by receiving them with a most imposing mien, and putting on his chapeau as they advance. This is a form, for which the model is not to be found in the practice of his immediate prede

It is possible, however, that his extensive and minute reading may have made him aware that Wolsey, peradventure, or some great chancellor of old, had the fancy to be covered when the suppliants approached. Let any one observe with what studied dignity he performs the duty of announcing the royal assent to Acts of Parliament: he assumes a solemnity of tone for which his voice is not ill-fitted, but which is unusual with him. These small circumstances, and many such which might be mentioned, show that State is not uncongenial to his mind. Why should it? His weakness consists in the unreal contempt for what is not really contemptible. With his high notions of office, I should have been surprised if he had foregone the levee; and assuredly he has not reckoned without reason; for a more splendid or flattering pageant could not be witnessed than that which his rooms exhibited. Unquestionably the most remarkable man in the empire at this moment, it is his fortune to attract the honourable regards of all who are distinguished as compeers. It is not my intention to offer any estimate of what I conceive to be his genuine worth, as he may be appreciated in a more dispassionate time; I speak of him only as a man filling a very large space in the consideration of the empire. Judging from the throng of all classes upon this occasion, whose favour is desirable, no man is more popular *

* The Chancellor took his place at a corner of the room, backed by his chaplain, and was soon encircled by the visitants ; his dress remarkably plain, being a simple suit of velvet in the court cut. The names were announced from the bottom of the stairs, and each person as he entered walked up to the Chancellor and offered his respects. The numbers were so great that it was impossible to devote any marked attention to each; as soon, therefore, as the visiter had made his bow, he retired into the throng, or took his departure through the adjoining room. I was not present at the first of the levees which were held, and at which the attendance was very distinguished; but a friend who was, spoke very highly of the manner in which the Chancellor performed his noviciate. The Archbishop of Canterbury came early, and was very kindly received: he was followed by the Archbishop of York, and several other bishops, whose attendance gave proof that, differ as they might from Lord Brougham, they surely did not consider him an enemy to the Church

The most remarkable visiter of that evening was the Duke of Wellington ;-the crowd was astonished, and I dare say the Chancellor himself was surprised, when his name was sent up-I doubt if they had ever met in the same room before. Their political lives, with the exception of the Catholic Question, were one unvarying course of opposition, if not enmity. I suspect that for a time the Duke despised the talk of the lawyer; and, on the other hand, Brougham had often declared, that the respect which he entertained for military glory was not very lofty. Some of his bitterest tirades were levelled at the Duke personally. No one will deny that it was high-minded in the Duke to lay aside resentment of every sort, and offer this mark of respect as well to the man as the office. The Chancellor was flattered by the attention, and shook the Duke by the hand very cordially * * *. Not the least remarkable personage in the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


room was the Lord Advocate of Scotland. Brougham and he are very old friends, and have been much engaged in the same species of literature. Brougham was his predecessor in the editorship of the Edinburgh Review-a fact which is not generally known, but which is certain. Brougham was not the first editor, having filled that office for a short time after Sidney Smith withdrew from the situation. Jeffrey appeared extremely petit in his courtdress, and did not seem very much at home: he was acquainted with but few of his fellow visiters, and had too much good taste to occupy much of the Chancellor's attention : they did not seem to hold any conversation beyond the usual common-place inquiries

After I had paid my respects to the Chancellor, there came tripping up the Marquess of Bristol, with a springy step, which he must surely have acquired at the old court of France; for I am sure that no such movement could be attained on English ground. The elasticity of this noble lord was such, that when once put in motion, he continued to spring up and down in the manner of the Chinese figures, which are hawked by the Italian toy-venders. Had I been told that the head of the house of Newry was a dancing-master, who had not yet learned the present modes, I should certainly have believed the story without scruple, if I had met him anywhere else. He had no sooner left the Chancellor, than he was laid hold of by a fidgetty solicitor, who was the only member of his class in the room, and who, I understand, is a sort of favourite of the Chancellor. The obsequious grin, and the affected ease of this worthy, do not convey any very favourable impression on his behalf. He was solicitor for the Queen, and in this capacity formed an intimacy with her chief counsel, which an ill-natured person would perhaps think makes him now forget in some measure the great disparity betwixt their present condition. The Chancellor gave no discouragement to his familiarity

A variety of lords, squires, generals, 088a innominata followed, for whom the Chancellor cared perhaps about as much as I did. At length Sir James Scarlett was announced, and the Chancellor left his place to meet him. His welcome was very hearty. Brougham was doubtless gratified by this token of respect from a man who was indisputably his leader in the courts, and for whose forensic abilities it is known that he entertains, and has often expressed, the highest admiration. The position of the two men was singular, and to the ex-attorney not very enviable. Scarlett was in high practice before Brougham was even called to the bar. He kept a head of him in their profession throughout; and twice he had filled the first places at the bar, when the respective attainments of these eminent persons were such, that if Brougham had been placed before him, Scarlett would have had just ground of complaint; and the bar would have unanimously decried the appointment. Now, however, by one of those cross accidents which will occur in the most fortunate lives, Scarlett was, with strict justice and universal acquiescence, placed below his former competitor, and in direct opposition to all the early friends with whom he commenced his political

It was matter of necessity and of course that he should go out when his employers were obliged to surrender office; and no man could complain that Brougham should then be elevated to a distinction, which in other circumstances Scarlett might have thought his own by indisputable right _* The Speaker of the House of Commons was then announced. Brougham and he met as warm friends, though certainly men having little in kindred. In point of talent there is no ground of comparison; yet it may be doubted whether they are not nearly as great in their own way. I have no notion of the place which the Speaker held in parliament before he was elected to the chair, and I know few situations which require more tact and management. In these qualifications the present Speaker is signally gifted. He brings a degree of good nature to the office, which no event, however untoward, can ruffle ;-bis calmness never forsakes bim : be is the same easy, dignified chairman at all times. The Commons are a truly turbulent body, but they are not impatient of his sway. In all emergencies he is vigorously supported:


in his hands, the authority of his office, though rarely exercised, has lost none of its force. Brougham himself was one of the most fiery spirits in this hot region; but a word from the Speaker would calm him in an instant. Among other qualifications for command, he is possessed of a fine mellow, deep-toned voice, which, while it powerfully enunciates the “ Order,” frees the command from all harshness or severity. As the first commoner in the land, and a truly estimable gentleman, he was entitled to be well received * *. The last person of note who arrived before I departed was Sir Thomas Denman. The Chancellor was engaged with some one at the moment, and nothing passed betwixt them but an exchange of bows. It was nearly ten years since I had seen Brougham and Denman together; the Queen's trial was then the allengrossing topic of public consideration. Who could then have foretold that these men would have in so short a space won the confidence of a sovereign, whom they attacked with a degree of virulence which, even in those days of party violence, was generally condemned? The change in feeling is creditable alike to all.”

Of the eloquence and general character of Lord Brougham, we have the following excellent portraiture by a master-hand :*

“Mr. Brougham is from the North of England, but he was educated in Edinburgh, and represents that school of politics and political economy in the house. He differs from Sir James Mackintosh in this, that he deals less in abstract principles, and more in individual details. He makes less use of general topics, and more of immediate facts. Sir James is better acquainted with the balance of an argument in old authors; Mr. Brougham with the balance of power in Europe. If the first is better versed in the progress of history, no man excels the last in a knowledge of the course of exchange. He is apprized of the exact state of our exports and imports, and scarce a ship clears out its cargo at Liverpool or Hull, but he has notice of the bill of lading. Our colonial policy, prison discipline, the state of the hulks, agricultural distress, commerce and manufactures, the bullion question, the Catholic Question, the Bourbons or the Inquisition, 'domestic treason, foreign levy,' nothing can come amiss to him,he is at home in the crooked mazes of rotten boroughs, is not baffled by Scotch law, and can follow the meaning of one of Mr. Canning's speeches. With so many resources, with such variety and solidity of information, Mr. Brougham is rather a powerful and alarming, than an effectual debater. In so many details (which he himself goes through with unwearied and unshrinking resolution) the spirit of the question is lost to others who have not the same voluntary power of attention or the same interest in hearing that he has in speaking; the original impulse that urged him forward is forgotten in so wide a field, in so interminable a career. If he can, others cannot carry all he knows in their heads at the same time; a rope of circumstantial evidence does not hold well together, nor drag the unwilling mind along with it (the willing mind hurries on before it, and grows impatient and absent)---he moves in an unmanageable procession of facts and proofs, instead of coming to the point at once-and his premises (so anxious is he to proceed on sure and ample grounds) overlay and block up his conclusion, so that you cannot arrive at it, or not till the first fury and shock of the onset is over. The ball, from the too great width of the calibre from which it is sent, and from striking against such a number of hard, projecting points, is almost spent before it reaches its destination. He keeps a ledger or a debtor-andcreditor account between the government and the country, posts so much actual crime, corruption, and injustice against so much contingent advantage or sluggish prejudice, and at the bottom of the page brings in the balance of indignation and contempt, where it is due. But people are not to be calculated into contempt or indignation on abstract grounds; for however they may submit to this process where their own interests are concerned, in what regards the public good we believe they must see and feel instinctively, or not at all.

Spirit of the Age ; or, Contemporary Portraits, 1825. By the late Mr. Hazlitt.

There is (it is to be lamented) a good deal of froth as well as strength in the popular spirit, which will not admit of being decanted or served out in formal driblets ; nor will spleen (the soul of opposition) bear to be corked up in square patent bottles, and kept for future use!

“Mr. Brougham speaks in a loud and unmitigated tone of voice, sometimes almost approaching to a scream. He is fluent, rapid, vehement, full of his subject, with evidently a great deal to say, and very regardless of the manner of saying it. As a lawyer, he has not hitherto been remarkably successful. He is not profound in cases and reports, nor does he take much interest in the peculiar features of a particular cause, or show much adroitness in the management of it. He carries too much weight of metal for ordinary and petty occasions : he must have a pretty large question to discuss, and must make thorough-stitch work of it. Mr. Brougham writes almost, if not quite, as well as he speaks. In the midst of an election contest he comes out to address the populace, and goes back to his study to finish an article for the Edinburgh Review, sometimes indeed wedging three or four articles (in the shape of refaccimentos of his own pamphlets or speeches in parliament) into a single number. Such indeed is the activity of his mind that appears to require neither repose, nor any other stimulus than a delight in its own exercise. He can turn his hand to any thing, but he cannot be idle. There are few intellectual accomplishments which he does not possess, and possess in a very high degree He speaks French (and, we believe, several other modern languages) fluently: is a capital mathematician, and obtained an introduction to the celebrated Carnot in this latter character, when the conversation turned on squaring the circle, and not on the propriety of confining France within the natural boundary of the Rhine. Mr. Brougham is, in fact, a striking instance of the versatility and strength of the human mind, and also in one sense of the length of human life, if we make a good use of our time. There is room enough to crowd almost every art and science into it. If we pass ' no day without a line,' visit no place without the company of a book, we may with ease fill libraries or empty them of their contents. Those who complain of the shortness of life, let it slide by them without wishing to seize and make the most of its golden minutes. The more we do, the more we can do ; the more busy we are, the more leisure we have. Mr. Brougham, among other means of strengthening and enlarging his views, has visited, we believe, most of the courts, and turned his attention to most of the constitutions of the continent. He is, no doubt, a very accomplished, active-minded, and admirable person."

Lord Brougham married, in 1816, Mary Anne, relict of John Slade, Esq., of Hill street, Berkeley-square; by whom he has one daughter. Lady Brougham's maiden name was Eden: she is nearly related to the Auckland and Handley families. At her marriage with Mr. Slade, in 1808, she was accounted an extremely beautiful young woman; and she was still possessed of great personal charms at the period of her second union. Lady Brougham had by her former marriage a son, who inherits his father's estate, and is an officer in the army, and a daughter. Lady Brougham brought no property to her husband but her jointure of £1,500 a-year, and the house No. 5, Hillstreet.

Lord Brougham was born in 1779, and is, consequently, in his fifty

second year.

« PreviousContinue »