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Other ANECDOTES illustrative of LORD MANSFIELD's Judicial, and of
his Political CAARACTER.
[From the First VOLUME of BIOGRAPHICAL, Literary, and Porr
TICAL ANECDOTES, of several of the most eminent Men of the pret fent Age.] TI
CHE admirers of lord Mans was supposed, by some people, to
field have always thewn conduct himself in the capacity of themselves dissatisfied with any a double 1py. He owed his apitatement of such parts of his con- pointment to the duke of New duet as tended to the diminution castle, for the purpose (as was conof his celebrity. They affert his jectured) of giving the duke inforimpartiality, his wisdom, his pene- mation of the proceedings and tration and patience.
transactions of Leicester house, and “ On the contrary, those persons preserved his interest at Leicesterwho have declared his lordship ca. house by giving information to pable of committing every enormi- lord Bute of the designs and tranfty whenever he had opportunity actions of the ministry, in which to advance the power of the crown, he was assisted by his friend lord or trespass on the liberty of the Mansfield, then Mr. Murray. Whesubject, have been offended when ther these opinions are ftrictly corever he has been complimented rect or not, it is certain that lord with the titles of a great lawyer, Bute had authentic information of and an upright judge. They ar all the projects and measures of raign his principles of law, and de- the ministry, even at the time ny his impartiality.
when the politics of St. James's " Between these extremes, lord and Leicester-house differed most. Mansfield's true character will not
“ It has been the great felicity be eafily nor perhaps accurately de- of lord Mansfield's reputation, that fined. That it lay between them his conduct has generally been is true; but to which it most in- viewed on the favourable side on. clined, may, in the opinion of some ly. And that such detached parts persons, be difficult to ascertain." of it as reflected moft to his honour
• During the whole adminiftra- have been principally those which tion of the Pelhams, he adhered have been held up to public view. to the whigs, and particularly to If the whole of his conduct had Mr. Pelham, whose confidence he been fairly and impartially examinobtained much in the same way ed, it would in many points have that his friend Mr. Hone obtained brought to our remembrance the that of the duke of Newcastle. conduct of those learned chiefs, They (Stone and Murray) were Trefylian, Keyling, Scroggs, Jefaccused of being jacobites, and the feryes, and some others.” accusation was brought before the " It is generally allowed, that house of lords. But they had dex- in most cates between subject and terity and influence sufficient to subject, he thewed great penetrastop the progress of the enquiry. tion and judgment. He pofleifed Mr. Stone then being sub-governor a talent, if it may be called fo, of to the prince (the present king) discovering the merits of a cause
before it was half heard. This late declaratory act of parliament
quickness, however, sometimes be- of the rights of juries, which was trayed him into too early a propen- brought forward by Mr. Fox and
fon in favour of one of the parties. Mr. Erskine, and was supported And in this precipitatiou he was by a considerable part of the mimore than once or twice unjuft. niftry. The artful and dangerous So difficult it is, for the most acute practices of lord Mansfield (in these understanding, at all times, to dir. political trials, to interesting to cover bidden truths; and to dan- public liberty) to which he had gerous it is, to entertain a conceit through life moft tenaciously ad. of poflefling, by intuition, a talent hered, and had ardently maintained superior to the rest of mankind. to be law, were totally annihilated Yet this is perfedly true of lord and done away. Juries were reMansfield. Some lawyers have oc- stored to their constitutional rights, casionally assumed a course of imi- which fixes upon bis memory and tation, but the attempt has been character a more indelible itigrua, so clumsy and inadequate, it scarce- than could have been inflicted by ly deserves the name of a carica- an article of impeachment. The ture.
many transgreflions he had com“ In all those political causes mitted on law, justice, and hunanconcerning the press, in which the ity, rendered this act of parliament crown was party, he was partial in abiolately neceifary. Lord Camthe extreme. His rule of law uni- den, though far advanced in years, formly was, that the crown was vigoroudly supported the bill in the never wrong in those causes. To houle of lords, and condemned all the liberty of the press he was a lord Mansfield's doctrines in terms fincere and implacable enemy. His of jutt afperity. definition of this liberty was, a ** There is a fact not less respedpermission to print without a li- ing lord Mansfield's favourite opicenfe, what formerly could only nion, than his great delign upou
be printed with one.' In trials for the rights of juries, in all questions i libels, he has been heard to deliver concerning the liberty of the prefs,
such language from the bench, as which distinguishes him to have ought to have fushed the jury been from principle, as well as fiuwith indigpation. In thote trials, dy, perhaps, the inost dangerous his inyariable pra&ice was, in his enemy to the constitutional rights charge to the jury, to make a la- of juries, that ever fat in a court boured reply to the defendant's of justice, since the time of the starcounsel. Will any candid perfon chamber. say this was proper conduct in a " The fa& here alluded to, hapjudge, who ought to be strictly pened on the trial of John Wilimpartial? This is not the language liams, ir the month of July, 1764, of prejudice-for the truth of it an for re-publishing the North Brio appeal may tafely be made to ati ton in volunies. Serjeant Glynn, thote persons who are yet alive, who was countel for Williams, who heard him upen those acca- said, with a strong emphatis
That in the matter of libel, they “ But a stronger proof cannot. I were the proper judges of the be giren of lord Manstield's general law, as well as the faci, that they misconduct and unif-directions to : had the full right to determine, jurics, in cases of libels, thau' the whether the detendant had pub
« lished the North Briton with the 1770, when he gave a paper to the
intent as laid in the Attorney-ge- clerk of the house of lords, con
neral's information.' Lord Mans- taining the opinion of the court of field stopped him Thort, and declar- King's-Bench, upon one of the wied in a very strong and menacing als of Junius's letters. manner, ' That if serjeant Glynn “ The house of lords was summon* afferted that doctrine again, he ed at the request of lord Mansfield,
(lord Mansfield) would iake the on Monday the eleventh day of • opinion of the twelve judges upon December. Great expectations were
it. The learned serjeant inftants raised. Lord Mansfield's doctrines ly saw the snare, and the design concerning libels had been much that was concealed under it. He canvassed in the house of comwas sensible of the danger to public mons, in consequence of a motion liberty, in submitting a question made by serjeant Glynn; it was which was to be worded by lord therefore supposed and believed, Mansfield upon the rights of juries, that his lordihip intended to bring to the opinions of the twelve judges the subject before the house of at that time. No one could doubt lords. And, probably, that was his that a confiderable majority of the original intention. But when the twelve judges would confirm all house met (on the eleventh of Delord Mansfield's doctrine concern- cember) his lord'hip only said, that ing libels, and particularly all his he had left a paper containing the lordihip's limitations of the rights opinion of the court of King'sof juries. The learned ferjeant Bench with the clerk ; and that therefore, with great prudence, and their lordships might read it, and a great regard for the rights of ju- take copies of it. The paper, and ries, saw that it was more proper lord Camden's answer, are printed to submit, than to give lord Mans- in all the parliamentary debates.] field an opportunity of obtaining an “ It is scarcely pollible to couauthoritative confirmation of his ceive any thing more ridiculous innovations in the conftitution, than this was. He certainly inult Thus, by a device of lord Mans- have changed his intention, for 1.0 field, the rights of juries upon this person will credit that he had the great point hung as it were upon a
honse fummoned for the paltry fingle thread. Well might judge purpose of telling their lordships Willes say, ' mark bim!' Had lord he had left a paper with the clerk. Mansfield's project taken effect; Lord Camden asked him, if he and had the majority of the judges meant to have his paper entered acquiefced, of which it is more lipon the journals ? No! No! than probable he had no doubt, it said lord Mansfield, only to leave muft have been extremely difficult, it with the clerk.' and next to an impossibility ever to “ Next day lord Camden athave recovered the rights of juries, tacked lord Mansfield pretty sharpwhich lord Mansfield (had ufurped, ly on the subject of his paper, and and which usurpation had been put several questions to him conconfirmed by the judges.
cerning the sense of it. Lord “ Upon another occasion, lord Mansfield said it was taking him Mansfield attempted the same de- by surprise, and that he would not, vice, but the weakness of his nerves answer interrogatories. Lord Camprevented the design being carried den defired that a day might be juto effect. This was in the year fixed for his lordship to give his
answers; but lord Mansfield would the private conduct of the judge, not consent,
and then to maintain, that a ftate “ As far as this attack upon lord ment of the private conduct of a Mansfield went, it was perfe@ly ju- judge at chambers, or at his own dicious; and it would have been house, was a contempt of the court. imprudent to have pushed the mat. It would not be very difficult, to an ter further ; because an attempt of artful bad man, to construe moft that fort might, and most probably libels into a contempt of court. would, have brought the subject “ Mr. Dunning law the extent into general debate; and thereby of the mancuvre. The case was have been the cause of establishing this. Lord Mansfield had altered lord Mansfield's doctrine irreversi the record in the case of Mr. bly, and cloathing it with all the Wilkes at his own private boufe. folemn graces and sanctions which Amongst the many parts of lord a certain well known crafty influ Mansfield's conduct which were ence can easily procure.
censured in the Letter on Libels " The next attack that lord and Warrants, was this fact, of his Mansfield made on the rights of ju- altering the record. The writer's sies, was not less interesting, but it ftatement of this fact, lord Manswas open and avowed. The judges field called a contempt of the court. of his own court supported his de. The process upon a contenupt, lign without, perhaps, perceiving which is always some clear indirthe nature and extent of it; at putable fact, and generally againft lean it may be candid to admit the the officers of the court, attornies pollible fuppofition, for lord Mans or evidence, is by itsuing a writ of feld's art was usually the best of attachment, and the defendant anart; it was the art to conceal it swering upon oath such interrogafelf: but ibis attempt was attended tories as thall be put to him. If with an advantage to the public he purges himself (as it is called) that lord Mansfield did not foresee. of the charge, he is acquitted; if It brought forth the strong admir not, the court inflict such punith. ed talents, and great legal abilities ment as they think proper. There of Mr. Dunning, afterwards lord is no other trial, nor any jury callAiburton.
ed in. “ It has been already mentioned,
" Whether what lord Mansfield under the head of the duke of had done was right or wrong, could Grafton, that lord Mansfield was not by this process become a matexceedingly hart by a tract of great ter of enquiry, por even of animadcelebrity, entitled ' A Letter on
vertion. If lord Mansfield had • Libels and Warrants, &c. He proceeded in any of the usual ways therein saw his doctrines of law, against libels, by action, informaand his concluct as a judge, treated tion, or indictment, there would in a manner that was no way fa have been latitude for the display vourable to his views. But, al of the ingenuity and ability of though he was ardent to panish counsel. He took this for the the printer, he did not choose to more prudent and certain way. trust a jury with the cause. He But his attempt was opposed with therefore contrived a new mode, or a degree of intrepidity and firmnets rather revived a very obsolete one he did not expect." from the fiar-chamber. This was (Our limits will not permit us to connect the matter of libel with to infcrt the outlines of the argu,
ments, why the writ of atachment gan to flourish, in his usual style, Mould not ittue.]
upon the sacred privileges of am* In July 1705, the ministry balladors, the law of nations, &c. were changed; and a total revo &c. repeated something about collution in politics took place. Mr., lulive inotions, and took notice that Yorke, who had been appointed the application for redress ought attorney-general, was desirous of regularly to have been made to continuing the prosecution; but count Bruhl, or to his majesty's the marquis of Rockingham, who attorney-general. was then minifter, interposed, and « Mr. justice Afton said, delibeprevented any farther proceedings. rately, that he agreed entirely with
"" In the month of November, the lord chief justice, and that the 1768, a woman having appeared motion ought not to be granted. before two of his majesty's justices “ Sir Fletcher Norton then said, of peace, to swear a child against that, after he had declared himself the secretary to count Bruhi, the the adviser of the motion, he did Saxon minister; the count inter not expect to have heard it again fered, and the justices were afraid called collusive; that he despised to proceed. The woman applied to and abhorrel all ideas of collusion fir Fletcher Norton, who advised as much as any man in that court; that a motion ihould be made in that it was the first time, and he the court of King's-bench for a per- hoped it would be the last, that he emptory mandamus to the juf- 1hould hear the court of King'stices to proceed in that filiation. bench refer an injured subject of The motion was accordingly made England to a foreign minister, or to by Mr. Mansfield.
an attorney-general for redress; “ The lord chief justice Mans- that the laws of this country had field received it with marks of an- not left his majesty's subjects, comger and surprise; he said he did plaining of injury, without a legal not understand what was meant by and certain protection ; that their such collusive motions, unless it claim was a claim of right, upon was to draw from that court an which the court of king's-bench had opinion upon the privileges of fo- full authority to inquire, and must reign ministers, which they had no determine ; that if his clients were right to meddle witb; that the injured, he should always bring motion was absolutely improper; them to that court for redress, let that he wondered who advised it, who would have committed the inand that he certainly should not jury, and he would take care that grant the mandamus.
that court should do them justice; • Sır Fletcher Norton then got that his motion was proper, and up, and said, that the party was ihould not be withdrawn. bis client; that his majesty's sub “ Judge Yates then said, that jects, when injured, had a right to the reasons offered by fir Fletcher redress somewhere or other; and Norton had clearly convinced him ; that he knew of no place where that he had not the least doubt of such redress could be legally the authority of the court to proapplied for or obtained, but in the tect his majesty's subjects ; and court of King's-bench; that there that, for his part, he should never fore he had advised the motion. refer them either to a foreign mi" Lord Mansfield, upon this, be- nister, or to an officer of the crown;