Imatges de pÓgina

those who are ruled by force, will soon require force to rule them." A noble sentiment-the germ of all good and righteous government, the forgetfulness of which has led to many of our social disasters, and a recurrence to which, though still too partial, has been the great merit of recent legislation.

In 1829, on the elevation of Sir James Moncreiff to the Bench, Jeffrey was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocatesa strong testimony to his legal eminence, and all the stronger that the majority of the Bar at that time was unquestionably opposed to him in politics. He did not, however, continue in this position long. In 1830 the Grey ministry came into office, and Jeffrey was made Lord Advocate-the first Whig lawyer who had held this appointment, excepting for the short interregnum of 1806, since the year 1782. He stood for the city of Edinburgh under the old regime, but was defeated by a narrow majority of the Council; but on the passing of the Scottish Reform Bill he was elected along with Lord Dunfermline, then Mr. Abercromby, to represent the city of his birth in the first Reformed House of Commons.

If we were to envy any period of Jeffrey's history, it would be the evening of this election. Not that the mere position of Member of Parliament, even for the metropolis of Scotland, honourable as it is, is worthy such a sentiment, but that casting his eyes back on the experience of his long and anxious liferemembering the small and despised band who began the great conflict of Scottish freedom at his side-recalling the laborious. and incessant warfare maintained through many an unpromising campaign which he had waged with oligarchy and misgovernment and finding himself at last the hero of the long hoped. for triumph-he must have felt within him as pure a sense of gratified ambition as ever soothed the repose of a patriot's heart. So we can conceive might feel the colonist, who, looking from some commanding city over populous villages and fruitful plains, the lowing of many flocks breaking on his ear, and the air filled with the sounds of busy industry, could recall the day when his own axe lowered the first tree of the primeval forest, and the ploughshare, guided by his hand, turned the first clod on those slopes now yellow with the autumn harvests.

We have already alluded to his career in Parliament. His speech on the Reform Bill was unquestionably a great effort of political reasoning - and whether it told on the House or not, remains a memorial of what he would have been if he had remained in that position longer. But we do not mean to uphold his Parliamentary reputation as that on which his fame depends. Unquestionably it was not so; and in saying this, we do not detract, in the most insignificant degree,

from the estimate we have ventured to form of the enlarged and noble intellect of the man. The most experienced debater in the House of Commons, captured at the age of sixty, and set to argue a point before the Inner House, or even at the bar of a country presbytery, would, we think make but an indifferent figure. We suspect that Lord John Russell, or Sir Robert Peel, would feel singularly uncomfortable under such an ordeal, and would probably run a chance of being rudely put down by some saucy junior, or half-fledged incumbent. It was only by long and laboured steps that Fox rose to be the greatest debater of the world. Sheridan only prevailed after many unsuccessful trials. Even Peel, who now commands that House with the wand of a magician, was once a dull, lame, ineffective, and awkward performer. The greater the reputation with which a man starts in that assembly, the worse for his chances of success. Jeffrey could not afford to plunge into the mêlée, and dash for the chances with every raw novice of the Legislature. He had earned and won his fame elsewhere; and had done enough, and has left enough to show the world, that if the Senate had been his sphere, he possessed in rare abundance all the qualities which would have made him its ornament.

Yet another stage; not the most conspicuous, beyond its immediate circle of influence, but not the least honourable or useful of his valuable life. A vacancy having occurred on the Bench of the Court of Session in 1833, he was promoted to that honour, under the title of Lord Jeffrey. Though coming to the judicial function at an age when our American neighbours disband such functionaries, there never sat on the judgment-seat in this country a more practical, upright, and in every sense successful judge. The extraordinary elasticity of his endowments was never more displayed than in their immediate adaptation to the new scene of their exertion; and it is no exaggeration to say, that when death robbed our Bench of so bright an ornament, the remembrance of the critic and the orator in the public mind was almost shut out by the sense of the irreparable loss sustained by his removal from the seat of justice. During the years that he officiated in the Outer House, where the Judges prepare causes for ultimate decision, and decide subject to review, his singular candour, good nature, and acuteness, rendered him popular with all branches of the profession. No labour daunted him; no pleader, however prosy, could disturb his equanimity, or lull into lethargy the activity of his mind. Rapid to a miracle in his apprehension of an argument, he had often followed out the logical deduction, and arrived at the result, while the panting speaker toiled after him-but never in vain. For he had that rare companion of intellectual

power-he was never ashamed of being convinced. However strongly he might express a first impression, he was as open to argument as if it had been the opinion of another, and not his own he had indicated. And he the very child of fancythe feared and dreaded critic-the favoured, but not spoiled associate of the witty and the great, bent his mind to dusty forms of process, and the dull routine of the most wretched litigation with as much faithful intensity as in days gone by he had grappled with the heresies of a nation's literature, or shaken the empire of despotic power.

But it was on his removal to the Inner House, which took place in 1842, that his judicial qualities shone out with the greatest lustre. The two Divisions of the Inner House consist of four judges each, who hear causes, and decide finally in public; and during the time Lord Jeffrey sat in the First Division, we believe there never was a tribunal that enjoyed more of the confidence of the country. Much of its excellence was undoubtedly due to Jeffrey himself. Though junior in judicial standing to the rest of the Court, he felt and asserted the position which his years, ability, and reputation gave him not indeed in the way of assumption or arrogance in judicial opinion-for his colleagues were great lawyers, and men of enlarged knowledge and long experience and Jeffrey, as his years increased, seemed more and more deferential to the views of others, although not less decided in his own. But he never feared or failed, when occasion required, to interpose, when it seemed to him that conclusions were arrived at too rapidly, or preconceived impressions were likely to prevail against argument. His great courtesy to the Bar, and his singular patience, might be taken as models of judicial demeanour. But who shall tell the almost magic charm that he imparted to the dull routine of a Court of Justice? That he touched nothing which he did not adorn was the least of his praise. How many sat daily there, listening to the wonderful words of that now venerable sage, replete with wisdom, eloquence, and legal lore-catching those bright jewels which he scattered as profusely over the musty pages of a trumpery Record, as if he were engaged on some immortal work! Let our young barristers who crowded that Court room tell how the dull shafts of legal argument came back from his quiver tipped with silver-how strangely and wonderfully the bright flashes of his mind lighted up the darkest and dingiest recesses of the most technical walks of jurisprudence-how known truths were decked, and dim misty paths of logic were illumined by his genius-and how he seemed to have summoned the aid of all the Muses to assist at the solemnities of Themis.

We may see great lawyers and great judges in our day, but we shall never look upon his like again.

He is gone; and what we have written is one faint garland laid on his honoured tomb. But our task is not yet done-our woven wreath still needs some of its brightest flowers. We can but touch what remains with a light, and we do it with a trembling hand. For who that ever came within the fascination of his society-that ever enjoyed his acquaintance or his friendship, can even yet speak, or write, or think of him without emotion? If he was great as a critic, as a lawyer, and as a judge, he was without a rival in the charms of his conversation, and the wonderful attractions of his daily intercourse. He was the best talker of his day; and no accomplishment is more enviable or more rare. He was not a professed sayer of good things-not a monopolizer of sound-not a lecturer let loose at a dinner-table -but genial, free, and ever fresh, welled forth his thoughts from the fountains of his mind-full of wit, and quaintness, and the most playful fancy, yet tinged with wisdom and deep philosophy, such as left every man who heard him better and happier than before. It signified not what the scene or what the theme. He was no niggard of his riches. He poured out the treasures of his mind to all who sought him, and with a temper which time only sweetened and softened, as the shadows lengthened on his glorious day, a large benevolence of heart, that always bled for human suffering, and beat in sympathy for all the cares, and perplexities, and harassments of this bewildering world-a store of enlarged experience of men and times, ever prompt to advise the doubting and succour the distressed-unbounded liberality and unmeasured kindness, what wonder that all who ever came within that enchanted circle,

"Nescio qua dulcedine capti,"

should have remained subject to his attraction, and should have felt as if a great chord in their existence had snapped asunder when his place among the stars of this world was left desolate.

He has gone down to his grave laden with all under which a man would wish to die-honour, love, obedience-troops of friends-everything which should accompany the old age of such a man-the gratitude of a nation in whose service his life was spent, and the unfeigned tears of all who were ever privileged to come within the reach of his influence. And as he neared his final resting-place, to which his eye had been long cast forward, the light of divine truth brightened his soul, and cast its mellowing tints on his sunny and cheerful mind. Peace to his ashes and may Scotland prove herself worthy of such a son, by being stirred up by his great example to deeds of dignity and virtue.


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