Henry Hawkins Brampton.

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as ' one of the fraternity.' Prejudice, alas ! will injure
the best of characters, as Envy will attack the most
meritorious. The borrower, on the other hand, is
never looked upon in any other light than a down-
trodden honest man or a deluded fool. lie is often

Here is an incident in Lewis's business life that will
show one phase of his character :

He held a number of bills, many of which were
suspected by him to be forged that is to say, that
the figures had been altered after the signature of
the acceptor had been written.

They were all in the name of Lord

One day Lewis met his lordship in the Park and
mentioned his suspicion, at the same time inviting
him to call and examine the bills. The noble lord
was a little amazed, and proceeded at once to Lewis's
office. Seating himself on one side of the table with
his noble creditor opposite, Lewis handed to him the
bills one by one and requested him to set aside those
that were forged.

The separation having been made, it appeared that
over twenty thousand pounds worth of the bills were
forged! The noble lord was a little startled at the
discovery, but his mind was soon eased by Lewis
putting the whole of the forged bills into the fire.

' There's an end of them, my lord,' said he. ' We


want no prosecution, and I do not wish to receive
payment from you. I ought to have examined them
with more care, and you ought not to have left space
enough before the first figure to supplement it by
another. The rogue could not resist the temptation.'

So ended this monetary transaction, creditable alike
to the honour and generosity of the money-lender.



THE most steady of minds will sometimes go on the
tramp. This was never better illustrated than when
the young curate was being married, and the officiating
clergyman asked him the formal question, ' Wilt thou
have this woman to thy wedded wife ?'

The poor bridegroom, losing self-control, and not
having yet a better - half to keep him straight,
answered, ' That is my desire,' anticipating by a con-
siderable period a totally different religious ceremony
of the Church, namely, the Baptism of Infants. In
his anticipation the young man had overreached the
necessities of the situation.

This momentary digression leads me to the follow-
ing story : I was staying at the house of an old
friend, a wealthy Hebrew, while another of the
guests was Arthur A'Becket. As will sometimes
happen when you are in good spirits, the con-
versation took a religious turn. We drifted into
it unconsciously, and our worthy host was telling us
that he was in the habit of praying night and morning.
Being in a communicative mood, I said, ' Well, since
you name it, I sometimes say a little prayer myself.'


The Hebrew was attentive, and seemed not a little
surprised. ' This is especially the case in the morning,'
I added.

But once upon a time my mind wavered a little
between business and prayer, and I found myself in
the midst of my devotional exercise saying, ' Gentle-
men of the jury.'

' Thank God !' cried A'Becket, ' our friend Hawkins
is not a Unitarian.'

I often wonder how I was able to get through
the amount of business that pressed upon me and
retain my health, but happily I did so. One
great factor in my fortunate condition of health was,
perhaps, that I had no ridiculous ambition. What
was to come would come as the result of hard work,
for I was born to no miraculous interpositions or
official friendships.

Having dropped gambling, I set to work, and after
a long spell of nisi prius, in all its phases, had
engaged my attention, a new sphere of action pre-
sented itself in the shape of Compensation Cases an
easy and lucrative branch, which seemed to be added
to, rather than have grown out of our profession ;
but whatever was its connection, it was a prolific
branch, hanging down with such good fruit that it
required no tempter to make you taste it.

Railway, Government, and Municipal authorities
were everywhere taking land for public improvements,
and where they were there were, as a rule, my friend
Horace 'Lloyd and myself, fighting in friendly rivalry
as to the amount to be paid.

But before I say a word or two about my labours in
this landscape for it is rather that than a ' field ' I


must mention an incident that occurred in the course
of my advocacy as a Queen's Counsel.

Lord Romilly was Master of the Rolls when Jessel,
afterwards Master of the Rolls, was Solicitor- General.
I was retained to cross-examine some witnesses in a
Chancery suit. It was a case in which the plaintiff
prayed that the Corporation of London might be
restrained from taking proceedings against my clients,
who were building shops on the Corporation ground ;
these buildings, it was alleged, would be prejudicial
to the interests of New Smithfield, which was the
property of the Corporation.

Jessel was my leader, but I was 'brought in to
cross-examine.' Chancery leaders are not supposed
to have devoted their studies to the art of cross-
examination, and at that time knew little, if anything,
about it, any more than a dentist would understand
how to amputate a limb. Consequently, when they
were of opinion that an affidavit was false, they had
recourse to a common law advocate to examine into
the grounds upon which that very learned document
was constructed. I speak with great reserve, because I
am not acquainted with the minds of Chancery men.

' Leading ' is much easier than cross-examining, and
Jessel was a good leader. A leader is like the ring-
master in a circus, and merely smacks his whip and
cries ' Hoop-la 1' or words to that effect, while the
dauntless cross-examiner rides any number of horses,
and if successful secures the applause of the audience
by his skilful horsemanship. Jessel was my ring-

I was instructed to cross-examine with the view of
showing that, whatever might be the rights or the


wrongs of the Corporation of London with regard to
their Smithfield Market, they had allowed the works
to proceed without interruption for so long a time that
it would be inequitable to interrupt them at this period.

Mr. Wentworth was the managing clerk for the
defendants, my clients, and I mention that gentleman's
name for reasons which will appear more particularly

No sooner did I meet the great leader than he
asked, by no means pleasantly :

' What are you here for ?'

I said, as the fact was, I had come to cross-examine
the witnesses for the Corporation on behalf of the

He growled : ' Then you may as well go back to
your own court, for you'll do no good with them by
any of your cross- examiners/ nodding significantly at

This was quite after the Chancery manner of those
days. Chancery counsel generally resent all intrusion
from what they call outsiders, and think they possess
the exclusive right to the ear of the court. They very
nearly do possess it. This nodding and winking at the
Judge was not in the best form, either, as it seemed to
me then.

At this moment Mr. Wentworth came up, and I
told him all that Jessel had said, and described the
polite manner in which he had addressed me.

Wentworth, in an imitative tone of Jessel's rough-
ness, both of voice and manner, said : ' Oh, never mind
him, Mr. Hawkins : you cross-examine, and it will be
no fault of yours if you don't succeed ; but I am sure
you will.'


Jessel, seeing I was intent on remaining and doing
my duty, began to show what he supposed to be
fellow-feeling for me in my awkward position, though
what the awkwardness was I failed to understand, as
he failed to understand what my position and duties
were. Still, he seemed to be desirous of making
things pleasant, and showed his idea of what was
true advocacy by taking me aside and saying :
' Although you cannot do a bit of good, you had better
earn your fee' (which was fifty guineas), 'and then
they'll be satisfied.'

Such was the equity of the situation according to
the future Master of the Rolls.

Being thus encouraged by my leader, I went to
work for about three hours, during which time I
managed to elicit all I wanted, and the Master of the
Rolls, requiring no more nods from Jessel, took time to
consider his judgment.

In the course of a few days Romilly gave judgment,
which is only remarkable for the observation that
accompanied it.

' Little,' said he, c as I value cross-examination
generally, I must say that the cross-examination of
Mr. Hawkins much struck me.'

It is not wonderful that the Master of the Rolls
should think very little of cross-examination such as
he had generally in his court; but a special cross-
examiner from the Common Law Courts was a different
matter, and struck the learned Master so forcibly that
he gave judgment upon it.

It was so effective that the wealthy Corporation of
London, who had lost their case in consequence, were
altogether amazed and remained dumb for the future


respecting their claim, and would not permit their
solicitor to appeal. To them the cross-examination
was decisive.

I mentioned Mr. Wentworth's name not only as
instructing me in this case, but as a man on whom you
could implicitly rely in all circumstances. He was
a shrewd, clever, well-bred lawyer, and I will give an
instance of his straightforwardness.

I was counsel for the plaintiff in a claim against
the Metropolitan Railway Company, Lloyd, as usual,
being my opponent. It was tried before a jury, and
after the case had proceeded for some little time we
agreed to refer the amount of compensation to be
awarded to the foreman of the jury, dispensing with
the services of the eleven.

It seemed so fair and desirable an arrangement
that Mr. Wentworth, who was instructing Lloyd
against me, said :

' If Mr. Hawkins will consent to that, I will under-
take to pay whatever sum the foreman awards.'

Of course, there was no necessity to pledge himself
thus arbitrarily against all contingencies ; but he did
so, his desire being to put a stop to all future

Our claim was 10,000, which meant, of course,
that a verdict for considerably less would satisfy the
plaintiff; but it is always necessary to claim more
than you want, as the tribunal always gives you credit
for doing so, and if you did not you would in nine
cases out of ten get less than you ought.

The foreman, however, to the surprise of everybody,
and to no one greater than ourselves, awarded us
22,000 !


Lloyd was absolutely upset at the exaggerated sum,
asseverated with much particularity of expletive, and
swore it could not, would not, and should not stand.
By all that was holy he'd appeal against such an
award as that ! But notwithstanding his threats,
there was no getting my client to throw off 12,000
if he could retain it. There was no necessity, how-
ever, for him to worry about it. Mr. Wentworth was
firm ; nothing would induce him to waver ; he had
given his word. 'Whatever the foreman awards I
will pay. I told Mr. Hawkins I would do so if you
referred it to the foreman, and I will pay the amount.'
In this honourable spirit he resisted all endeavours
to persuade him to make an application to set aside
the award.

Wentworth seemed to take a bird's-eye view of
human nature, as it seems to me, and he had a
perfect right to take it from any altitude he pleased,
so long as he did not injure the people he was looking
at. I have not the least doubt it was an honest
award, although certainly excessive.

Ever after I objected, when I was opposed to Went-
worth, to his being bound to sign a written under-
taking for anything when he had once given his word.



' FARMER HYDE ' will long be remembered and not
easily forgotten by those who had the pleasure of his
acquaintance. The old practitioners in compensation
cases often saw an additional five hundred pounds in
his cheery smile when he entered the witness-box on
the one side, and a corresponding diminution by it
on the other. When he shook his head it was con-
sidered five hundred or perhaps a thousand off the
gross amount. Many would have ' barred ' his smile
if they could. ' Farmer Hyde ' was ubiquitous, as
were his ' Tables of Valuation,' a standard work on

I treated his evidence once with such careless in-
difference that it was disposed of in a way that
not only took him by surprise, but roused him to
considerable anger, I am afraid. He was like a
burning mountain.

There never was a more trustworthy surveyor,
which made it all the worse for those who wished to
dispose of his evidence, and there was no way of
doing it by the usual methods of cross-examination.
I had recourse, therefore, to a new style of my own


invention for the occasion. It only served me once.
Although he was trustworthy, of course his opinions
were open to question. Byde was a burly, healthy-
looking man, who dressed in a well-to-do working
farmer's style. He lived in a neat little cottage
near Woking, but, as I said, came into court always
with a good-humoured smile, such as a man has when
he feels that he is to be the principal performer on
the stage.

Knowing him well, I said good-naturedly, in the
case I am speaking of :

' Good -morning, Mr. Eyde. Just come from the
country ?'

' Yes, Mr. Hawkins.'

' How are the crops going on ?'

'Very well,' said he.

' Turnips healthy ?'

'Yes, Mr. Hawkins, very.'

Then he gave his evidence on behalf of my
opponents, and to their great surprise I asked
nothing in cross-examination, so they could not re-
examine on my merely friendly conversation. My
reason for not cross-examining was a good one, as I
think, for I intended to treat his evidence as that
of a respectable farmer, and asked the jury in a
jocular manner what information they could expect
from an agriculturist, who might know a great deal
about turnips, but in a matter of this sort it might be
well to suggest that they should not place too much
reliance on his knowledge, whatever high opinion they
entertained of his honour.

Thereafter he got to be known as ' Farmer Hyde.'

There was another case in which the tables were


nearly turned against me through my chaffing a
witness. When a counsel makes a mistake of that
sort, and is unfortunate enough to raise the laugh
against himself, his client has to pay for it. Luckily,
I had presence of mind enough to escape, but not
entirely to my satisfaction, for I had gone too far,
and might have hurt the witness's feelings, which I
had no right to do, and was sorry for afterwards.
Being in unusually exuberant spirits on this particular
morning, and full of the humour of the situation, I
let myself go. I was defending the proprietor of an
equestrian circus which was located at Gravesend,
and belonged to a Mr. Lawrence Levi.

I learnt very early in my career that a witness
should never score against the cross-examiner, and
on this occasion nearly lost the benefit of many years'
experience. But I was tempted irresistibly by the
extremely conceited manner of the witness, who was
manager of the circus, and the most matador-looking
coxcomb I had ever seen in the box.

He assumed a military air which was the caricature
of the most insufferable blockhead. His black hair
was parted down the middle and pomatumed at the
sides, which gave him the appearance of a stage
corsair of the Byronic type, while his moustache was
so formidable and so curled up and waxed at the ends
that I could scarce refrain from laughing. His name
was Phillips, but I thought it should have been
Binaldo, or something of that sort. Phillips was too
low and commercial for such a stage hero. The whole
court, Judge and all, were in a laughing mood, and
I knew well enough that the least word would set
them off, and it did so sooner than I expected.


' Now, Captain Phillips !' said I ; and the laughter

At that time moustachios were confined to the
military, and a man who exhibited that decoration
was looked upon as a fop, especially if he arrayed
himself in cavalier boots and a blue coat. When I
said, ' Now, Captain Phillips,' I involuntarily put my
fingers to my chin, where never a hair had been allowed
to show itself. This had the effect of calling the atten-
tion of the audience to the point of the question.

Phillips, however, was equal to the occasion, and,
turning upon me with a theatrical air, declaimed :

' I am not Captain Phillips ; but we are not all so
bare-faced as you, Mr. Hawkins !'

It was a smart reply, and by no means calculated to
smooth my temper, which I seldom lost, for nothing
in advocacy can be worse. It was necessary to retrieve
my position, as the retort of Phillips had turned the
laughter against me, and unless I could give him one
back the verdict would be lost ; such are the chances
of advocacy that the result may hang upon a small

' I beg your pardon, Mr. Phillips,' I answered ; ' the
circus whip has made you smart, and you have done
justice to your teacher.'

This was taken everywhere in good part, because
I said it in such a manner that no offence was taken
even by Phillips, and we got on so well afterwards
that in his gratitude for my well-disposed jocularity
he gave himself entirely away.

I must now describe a remarkable event that occurred
a great many years ago, and which caused no little
VOL. i. 13


amusement at the time indeed, for years after
Baron Parke used to tell the story with the greatest

In those old days there was a prize-fight on Frimley
Common, and it was known long after as the ' Frimley
Common Prize-Fight,' although many a battle had
taken place on Frimley Ridges before that time, and
many a one since. This particular fight was so cele-
brated because one of the combatants was killed, and
I remember the events connected with it as clearly
as if they had taken place only yesterday. At the
following Kingston Assizes the victorious pugilist was
indicted for manslaughter. It was an awful charge,
especially before the Judge who was then presiding.
The man, however, escaped for the moment, and a
warrant was issued for his apprehension.

At the following circuit I was at Guildford, where
the Assizes were being held. At that early date after
the fight, the man ' wanted ' for the manslaughter
could be easily identified, as not only would his hair
be closely cropped and his whiskers shaven off, but
he would bear visible signs of the punishment he had
undergone in the encounter.

I was sitting in court one afternoon when a country
sporting attorney of the name of Morris quietly sidled
up to me. I ought to mention that at these Assizes
Lord Chief Justice Earle was sitting, and it was well
known that he also detested the Prize Ring, and had
therefore no sympathy with any of its members. He
was consequently a dangerous Judge to have anything
to do with in a case of this kind. His punishment
would be sure to be one of severity and a conviction a
dead certainty. There was a sparkle in the sporting


solicitor's eye as he glanced at me over his shoulder,
which plainly intimated that he had something good
to communicate.

As he came in front of the seat where I was, he said,
in a subdued whisper, that he had been instructed by

Lord to defend the accused prize-fighter ; that the

man was at that moment in the town, and would like
to have my opinion as to whether it would be prudent
to surrender at these Assizes surrender, that is to say,
to the constables who were on the look-out for him ;
or whether it would be better, as they were ignorant
of his whereabouts, to delay his trial until the next
Assizes, when he would be better prepared to face the
tribunal, as by that time he would have recovered
from the punishment he had received.

It is certain the jury would have taken his battered
appearance as evidence of the damage he had inflicted
on his adversary, whom he had unfortunately killed ;
and even more likely that Earle should have regarded
his injuries in the same light, and punished him more
severely for having received them. I had a perfect
right to answer the question put to me, and felt that
it was my duty to the accused to answer frankly.
So I said there was little doubt, as the man was
dead, and the accused still bore unmistakable signs of
the contest, there would be pretty clear evidence of
identity ; that as Earle was not a fool, he would
most certainly convict him ; while being opposed
to everything connected with the 'noble art of self-
defence ' he might send him to penal servitude for a
number of years.

I had no need to say more ; the solicitor, who was a
ready-witted and voluble man, was anxious to amal-



gamate his opinion with mine. He was shrewd, and
caught an idea before you could be sure you had one

' The most prudent thing, sir,' he said, ' would be to
surrender at the next Assizes, and not at these. That
is just what I thought, sir, and so I told him, advising
in the meantime that he should carefully avoid putting
himself in the way of the police.'

I have no doubt he acted on this opinion, for I heard
that he left the town immediately, and was neither
seen nor heard of again till the eve of the Spring
Assizes, which were to be held at Kingston, and at
which Baron Parke was to preside. The Baron was
one of the shrewdest of men, as anyone would discover
who attempted to deceive him.

Two or three days before Commission-day the
attorney for the accused presented himself to me
again, and once more sought my opinion with regard
to the trial and the surrender of the accused.

' Would it be proper,' he asked, ' for my client
to show his respect for the court and dress in a
becoming manner, or should he appear in his every-
day clothes as a working bricklayer, dirty and un-
washed ?'

Again I advised, as was my duty, that he should
scrupulously regard the dignity of the Bench, and
show the greatest respect to the learned Judge who
presided ; that he ought not to come in a dis-
graceful costume if he could help it, but appear as
becomingly attired as possible. That was all I said.
Let me also observe, what, perhaps, there is no occa-
sion to say, that I impressed upon the attorney that
his client should abstain from any appearance of


attempting to deceive the Judge, and informed him,
as the fact was, that his lordship was scrupulously
particular in all points of etiquette and decorum.
The attorney was quite aware of that, and said he
would take care that his client should act faithfully
in accordance with my advice. Moreover, I added
as a last word, ' The Judge is too shrewd to be
taken in.'

After thus duly impressing upon him the impor-
tance of a quiet behaviour, I suggested that any
costume other than that of the man when actually
engaged in the fight might throw some difficulty in
the way of a young and inexperienced country con-
stable identifying him. It was never too late for
even a bricklayer to mend his garments or his man-
ners and adjust them to the occasion. The policeman
who alone could identify the Frimley champion had
not seen him for many months not since the fight, in
fact ; and the prisoner ought not to appear in the dock
in fighting costume, as the young Surrey constable saw
him on that one occasion. Moreover, Baron Parke
would not like him to appear in that dress.

This was, as nearly as I can remember, all that took
place between us. Judge, now, of my surprise, if you
can, when the case was called on, to see the prisoner
appear in the dock looking like a young clergyman,
dressed in a complete suit of black, a long frock-coat,
fitting him up to the neck and very nearly down
to the heels. He had the appearance of a very
tame curate. His hair, instead of being short and
stumpy, as when the young policeman saw him, was
now long, shiny, and carefully brushed over both
sides of his forehead, which gave him the appear-


ance so fashionable amongst the saints of the Old

I was utterly astounded at the change from the rude,
rough bricklayer, scarred all over the face, to the
clergy man -like appearance of this gentlemanly prisoner.

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Online LibraryHenry Hawkins BramptonThe reminiscences of Sir Henry Hawkins, baron Brampton (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 21)