Henry Hawkins Brampton.

The reminiscences of Sir Henry Hawkins, baron Brampton (Volume 1) online

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I dared not laugh, but it was difficult to maintain my
countenance. Deceive Baron Parke ! I thought ; he
would deceive the devil himself, who knew a great deal
more about parsons than Parke did.

What the Bar thought I cannot say. I know that
they put down their heads, otherwise they must have
laughed outright, for a prize-fighter who had killed
his man, surely, in the world's history, never presented
so meek an appearance. His hands, too, looked quite
incapable of such a deed, and as he pulled off his right
glove and took his pen to write something, you could
only imagine it was more fit to join a lady's in a
minuet than to punch anybody's head, especially
that of a prize-fighter.

Dear old Parke looked at him for a considerable time,
as though he had never seen a prize-fighter before,
and was determined to make the most of him. If the
ghost of Hamlet had stood in the dock instead of the
prisoner, he would not have surprised the Judge more
than the prisoner did.

It was a masterpiece of deception, notwithstanding
my serious warning, ' Don't attempt to deceive the
Judge, however much you may puzzle the young
policeman.' Those were my parting words.

On the jury, it so happened, was an elderly Quaker,
in his full array of drab coat, vest, and breeches, with
the regulation blue stockings. He had long whitish
hair, and a Quaker hat in front of him on the ledge of


the jury-box. He was what might be called a * factor '
in the situation, which it was no easy matter to know
in a moment how to deal with. He would be against
prize-fighting to a certainty, but how far he might be
inclined to convict a prize-fighter was another matter.
At last I made up my mind in what way to deal with
him, and it was this, not on the merits of the noble
art itself, but on those of the case. If I could convince
this conscientious juror that there might be (that would
be good enough), a doubt as to identity, it would
be sufficient for my purpose, so I mainly addressed
myself to him, after disposing of the young policeman
pretty satisfactorily, leaving only his bare belief to be
dealt with in argument. The young policeman's belief
that that there was the man showed what a strong
young policeman he was.

I asked the Quaker to allow me to suggest, for the
sake of argument only, that he, the Quaker, should
imagine himself putting off his Quaker dress, and
assuming the costume of a prize-fighter, his hair cut
so short that it would present the appearance of an
aged rat ; ' then,' said I, ' divest yourself of your shirt
and flannel strip yourself, in fact, quite to the skin
above your belt and with only a pair of cotton drawers
of a sky blue, or any other colour you might prefer, and,
say, a bird's-eye fogle round your waist, your lower
limbs terminating in cotton socks and high-lows with
the additional ornamentation to all this elegant drapery,
of a couple of your front teeth knocked out and I will
venture to ask you, sir, and any one of the gentlemen
whom I am addressing, whether you think your own
good and respectable wife herself would recognise the
partner of her joys ?'


The burst of laughter which this little transformation
of the respectable stout old Quaker occasioned I was in
no way responsible for ; but even Old Parke fell back
in his seat, and said :

' Mr. Hawkins ! Mr. Hawkins 1'

I knew what that meant, and when the usher, by
dint of much clamour, secured me another hearing,
I continued :

' Nay, sir, and if you looked at yourself in a looking-
glass you would not be able to recognise a single feature
you possessed, had you been battered about the face
as the unfortunate man was. Why, the young police-
man says in his evidence his nose was flattened, his eyes
were swollen black, blue, and red, his cheeks gashed and
bloody ! But it is enough : if that is a correct descrip-
tion, although a mild one, of the man as he appeared
after the scene of the conflict, how can you expect the
young constable to recognise such an individual months
afterwards, or any of the witnesses, although to their
dying day they would not forget the terrible dis-
figurement of the poor fellow whom you are supposed
to be trying ?'

All this time there was everywhere painfully sup-
pressed laughter, and even the jury, all of them
Epsom men, and many of whom I knew well enough,
were hardly able to contain themselves.

His lordship, after summing up the case to the
jury, looked down quietly to me, as I was sitting
below him, and murmured :

' Hawkins, you've got all Epsom with you !'

' Yes,' I answered, ' but you have got the Quaker ;
he was the only one I was afraid of.'

' You have transformed him/ said the Judge.


In a few minutes the verdict showed the accuracy
of his lordship's observation, for the jury returned a
verdict of not guilty.

I must say, however, that Parke did his utmost
to obtain a conviction, but reason and good sense were
too much for him.



AMONGST the illustrious men whom I have met, the
name of Sam Warren deserves remembrance, for he
was a genial, good-natured man, full of humour, and
generally entertained a good opinion of everybody,
including himself. He not only achieved distinction
in his profession and became a Queen's Counsel, but
wrote a book which attained a well-deserved popu-
larity, and was entitled ' Ten Thousand a Year.'

He was a member of the Northern Circuit, and
I believe was as popular as his book. That he did
not become a Judge, like several of his friends, was
not Sam's fault, for no man went more into society,
cultivated acquaintances of the best style, or had
better qualifications for the honour than he.

But although he did not achieve this distinction,
he was made a little lower than that order, and
became in due time a Commissioner in Lunacy, a post,
as it seemed from Sam's description, of the highest
importance and no little fun.

A part of the Commissioner's duties was to visit
lunatic asylums and other places where these patients
were confined, with a view to report to the authorities


his opinion of the patients' mental condition. No
doubt to a man of Sam's observant mind this work
presented many studies of interest, as well as situa-
tions of excitement, and at times of no little humour.
He found, for instance, that many of these poor
creatures were possessed of a much larger income than
ten thousand a year. Some of them were Dukes and
some supernatural beings, who were just on a visit
to this little clod of a world to see how things were

The Commissioner had to consider, amongst other
matters, the cause of the particular state of mind in
which his patients were, and it was necessary, there-
fore, to direct his attention to them with that object.

Soon after his appointment, and before he had become
used to the work, he told me of a singular experience
he once had with a particular gentleman whom he
was intending to report as having perfectly recovered
from any mental aberration with which he might have
been afflicted. Sam wondered how it was possible
that a gentleman of such culture and understanding
should be considered a fit subject for confinement, for
he had several pleasant and intellectual conversations
with him, and found him quite agreeable and refined,
and of a perfectly balanced mind.

' I had been told,' said the Commissioner, ' that the
peculiar form of derangement with this gentleman
was that he had aspired to distinction in the English
Church ; and on one memorable occasion when I called
he received me, not with the usual familiarity, but
with a certain stiffness and solemnity of bearing which
was hardly in keeping with his courteous demeanour
on other occasions. One had to be on one's guard


at all times, or one might get a knife plunged into
one without notice. I chatted with him for some
time in a kind and easy manner, hoping to find that
the mild restraint and discipline had done the poor
fellow good. Alas ! how deceived I was, when, in a
sudden rage, he turned upon me, and asked who the
devil I thought I was talking to !'

' I told him a gentleman of a kind nature, I was
sure, and of an amiable disposition.

' " Yes," said he, " but that is no reason why you
should not treat me with proper deference and with
due respect for my exalted position."

' I bowed politely, and expressed a hope that I
should never forget what was due from one gentle-
man to another.

' " No, no," said he, " that kind of excuse will not do.
One gentleman to another, indeed ! Whom are you
talking to ? I insist on your treating me with
reverence and respect. Perhaps you do not know
that I urn St. Paul?"

1 " Indeed !" said I, " I was not aware that I was
speaking to that holy Apostle, to one whom I hold in
extreme reverence, and whose writings I have made
my study." '

After that, it seems, they got on very well together
for the rest of the interview. Warren was able to
delight him with his knowledge of Cappadocia,
Phrygia, and Pamphylia, and the little incident of
leaving his cloak at Troas, his shipwreck, and a vast
number of things which the Apostle seemed very
pleased to hear, while he conducted himself with that
pious dignity which well deserved the obsequious rever-
ence of the official visitor. On parting St. Paul said :


' You are rather mixed in your Scriptures ; the only
thing you are accurate about is leaving my cloak at

On Warren's next visit he resolved to conduct
himself with more reverence. St. Paul was looking
much the same as on the previous occasion. Sam genu-
flected, and held down his head, putting his hands
devoutly together, and making such other manifesta-
tions of reverence as he thought the case required.

St. Paul looked at Warren with wonderment, and was
evidently by no means satisfied with his salutations.

' Who the devil,' said the madman, ' do you think
you are making those idiotic signs to ? Whom do
you take me for ?'

' St. Paul, your holiness.'

' " St. Paul, your holiness,'' ' he repeated. ' My ,

you ought to be put into a lunatic asylum and looked
after. You must be stark mad to think I am the holy
Apostle St. Paul. What put that into your silly brains ?
Down on your knees, villain, at once, and prostrate
yourself before the Shah of Persia the dawn of
creation and the light of the universe !'

' I thought this was coming it pretty strong,' con-
tinued Sam, ' but as it was all in my day's work, I
conformed as well as I could to my instructions. The
difficulty was in knowing how to address His Majesty,
so I stammered, " Dread potentate I" and seeing it
pleased him, " Light of the universe," I cried, " it
is morning ! May I rise ?" '

' " I perceive," said the Shah, " you are a genius." '

'What did you think of his state of mind after
that ?' I asked.

Sam laughed and answered : ' I thought he was


getting better, more rational, and thanked him for
his good opinion. " Mighty potentate," said I,
"monarch of the universe, I apologize for my mistake,
but I was at St. Luke's yesterday."

' " My faithful Luke !" said he, and clapped his hands.
I knew once more where he was.

' " The last time," said I (thinking I would rather
have him the amiable Paul than the savage Shah),
"your Majesty informed me that you were the holy
Apostle St. Paul !"

' " So I am," answered the Shah.

' " I am at a loss, your Majesty, I humbly confess, to
understand how your immortal Highness can be at one
and the same time the blessed Apostle St. Paul and the
Shah of Persia."

' " Because you are such a damned fool !" replied His

'Here was the fierceness of the Shah, but immediately
the gentleness of the Apostle restored him to a more


amiable mood, and coming towards me with a smile,
he said :

' " The explanation, my dear sir, is simple ; " and then,
in a quiet, confidential tone, he added : "It was the same
mother, but two fathers !" '

' I had another experience not long after in the same
asylum,' continued Warren. ' One of my patients told me
he had married the devil's daughter when I was asking
him about his relations. " She was a nice girl enough,"
he said, " and although my people thought I had
married beneath me, I was satisfied with her rank,
seeing she was a Prince's daughter. We went off on
our honeymoon in a chariot of fire which her father


lent us for the occasion, and had a comfortable time' of

it at Monte Carlo, where all the hotels are under her

father's special patronage."

" I hope," said I, "your marriage was a happy one."
"Yes," said he, with a sigh, "but we dont get on

well with the old folks" '

I used to talk a good deal, and loved to do so, to the
old Judges that is, the Judges of my earlier days
whom I never think of but with affectionate remem-
brance that is, the majority of them.

Sir Frederick Pollock, I believe, was unequalled in
kindness and consideration to all who appeared before
him, but more especially to the junior members of
the Bar ; and nothing helps a young man to learn his
work and to do it well like the kindly consideration
of the Judge. Many a difficulty disappears with a
little encouragement from him, whereas nothing so
cripples a man's energies and suppresses his ability as
contemptuous demeanour on the part of the Bench.

In criminal cases Sir Frederick was fair and im-
partial. He would not convict a prisoner merely
because he believed him to be guilty, and never when
there was anything like a reasonable doubt in the
evidence. The prisoner had the benefit of it as a matter
of course and as a right.

As a young man a very young man I once had to
make an application to Sir Frederick Pollock, then
Lord Chief Baron, who was sitting at nisi prius.

In support of my application I read an affidavit, and
then handed it up to his lordship, who hastily took it,
read it, and afterwards, in a somewhat less courteous
manner than was usual with him, said he was of


opinion that it should not be granted, and peremp-
torily dismissed it !

Of course, I was dissatisfied, and declared it was a
denial of justice, a statement I was sorry for after-
wards, but was too much annoyed to acknowledge at
the time. Pollock took no notice of my observation,
except to say that he required my attendance in court
at half-past nine on the following morning, before the
court sat for its regular business.

I had not the least idea as to the fate that awaited
me, and was not so particularly comfortable after re-
ceiving the notice to attend. When I entered the
Chief Baron's room the next morning, his lordship was
walking up and down. Whatever my anticipations
were, he quickly relieved my anxiety by shaking hands
very heartily and with a kind grasp.

Then, without more ado, he said he had been hasty
on the previous day when I made my application, and
had not given himself time to duly consider the affidavit
on its merits. Since then, however, he had been driving
round the Park, and had carefully weighed both the
affidavit and my application. ' I have come to the
conclusion,' he added, ' that I was wrong, and I now
give my full consent to your motion, and make the
order asked for.'

The order was made ; not a word was said about my
own hastiness ; his very manner forbade it on my part,
and his real good-heartedness prevented it on his. The
matter there ended, but from that moment I never
forgot his kindness or the gratitude and respect I owed
him. Pollock was strong as well as amiable.

Lord Abinger was another whom I have already
mentioned, but he was not so amiable as Pollock.


Many years after this incident the Chief Baron taught
me a good deal as to the duties of counsel and

It happened in this way : I was defending a man
who was charged with setting fire to a stack of corn.
My old friend and enemy, Rodwell, as usual, was for
the prosecution.

Rodwell called a witness who swore that he saw the
light put to the stack. The Lord Chief Baron was
paying the closest attention to the evidence, and I
think his exemplary conduct, his acute, keen, and
judicial mind, make this incident almost unique in the
trials of this country.

Rodwell proved his case as completely as could have
been desired, with the exception of a single fact, and,
doubtless, everyone saw at once that it was a some-
what material one. The witness who swore to having
seen the light applied to the stack minutely described
the man, and gave his height, build, and dress, all of
which accurately agreed with those of the prisoner.
No part of the description was wanting, and there
stood the man answering exactly to the appearance of
the incendiary.

But there was still one question of the utmost
importance which the counsel for the Crown had
omitted to ask. The question was whether the man
at the bar was really the man who was seen setting
fire to the stack.

It was an all-important one, and, whether omitted
purposely or by accident, it was not for the counsel
who defended the prisoner to bring it home to him.
There is much even here to learn in advocacy.

It was no part of my duty to ask if the prisoner

VOL. i. 14


was the man, but there was a lesson for me to learn,
and one which I never forgot. It was this : do not
ask a question which may injure your client.

At last it came to the Lord Chief Baron's turn to
deal with this singular piece of evidence, and before he
told the jury there was no case for them to consider,
made this observation :

' Gentlemen of the jury, there is an important
question which neither of the learned counsel has
thought proper to ask. Mr. Rod well, for reasons best
known to himself, has not done so, and it is not for me
to inquire into those reasons. Mr. Hawkins has not
done so, and I can well understand his conduct, which
was right and proper : it was not for him to prove the
case for the prosecution. He is for the defendant,
and any omission on the part of the Crown is to the
advantage of the prisoner. His client is perfectly safe
as the matter now stands, for, so long as that question
is unanswered the prisoner, by all the rules of
evidence, cannot be convicted, and ought not to be,
whether he be guilty or not guilty. But as I sit here
in the interests of justice, without favour to the one side
or the other, neither leaning to the Crown nor to the
subject, it is my bounden duty, with that object in
view, and none other, to put the question which has
been omitted by the prosecuting counsel. Let the
witness who gave evidence to seeing the light applied
to the stack stand back.'

When he had once more mounted the box, the Lord
Chief Baron looked steadily at him, and said :

'You have given us a circumstantial, and as it
appears an accurate, account of what you saw. You
were near enough to tell us the height and to describe


the dress and appearance of the man. Now answer
this question, Yes or No : Was that the man V

The witness answered emphatically, ' No, my lord,
he was not.'

The jury were, of course, told to find a verdict of
' Not guilty,' and the man was discharged.

It was an extraordinary occurrence in advocacy,
and gives rise to many theories. What Mr. Rodwell's
idea was, or that of the solicitors for the prosecution,
is not known. Although a Judge has no right to
cross-examine for the one side or the other, he has a
right to put a question in an impartial manner for
clearing up a doubtful piece of evidence, and for
taking every precaution that injustice is not done by
any omission on the part of counsel.




IN the old days some of the Judges had a habit of
swearing, which has happily gone out with many
other now obsolete customs.

It should be remembered, however, that the tastes
and modes of thought of bygone days excused a great
deal that could not be tolerated now. The vicious
habit of drinking, perhaps, was the worst of all,
because it led to general depravity. That, however,
has also become a habit of the past to an extent that
can never be conceived by those who did not live in
those remote times. The three-bottle man was not a
wonder, but a regular contributor to the evening's
hilarity. The Sunday morning fights on the village
green to settle the week's accounts, the Sunday drink-
ing and society's debauchery, were the common habits
of an age that had little respectability and less

In speaking with an old friend, who was always
propounding some conundrum, he asked which I
thought the worst letter in the alphabet. I con-
sidered, and after weighing the merits and demerits
of a great number of good and bad characters, said :


' " B " has the worst reputation, but is in reality as
harmless as " Z," although not so virtuous as " I."
" B " is heavy ordnance, no doubt, and takes a good
deal of loading and firing, but when all is said and
done he makes more noise than he inflicts damage.'

In reality, your quick-firing * D ' is the most wicked
of all. He is always ready for action, and annoys one
horribly. He gets into every situation, and what I
am going to relate, although it might shock the too
fastidious, will not surprise one who knows anything
of the world.

There was a Judge, whose name I will not give,
who was so dreadfully prone to this indulgence that,
being one day in particularly good form, he enjoyed
himself more than usual, and came out very strongly.

The story was told to me by his associate, who,
sitting immediately under his lordship, heard every
word. The associate afterwards became a peer of the
realm, which I hope will be a guarantee for the
truthfulness of his information. He must have quite
earned a peerage by the ordeal he went through with
that Judge.

There was a lawsuit about a stack of hay, a small
matter to occupy the time and intellect of a High
Court Judge. Nevertheless, it had to be tried, and
two exceedingly long-winded Serjeants-at-Law were
engaged, one on either side. To show how small a
matter it was, I may say that a couple of good
hungry donkeys would have pretty well disposed of
the haystack while the two voluble Serjeants were
talking about and converting it metaphorically into
legal chaff. These two advocates, indeed, were little
more than chaff-cutting machines, but they had eaten


the haystack in fees before ever they came into

Dear old Johnny ! I don't mind identifying him so
far as his Christian name goes bore the interminable
conflict of words and arguments for a long time, nearly
a whole day in fact, but not without frequent admoni-
tions, and oftentimes muttered expressions of disgust.
At last the eruption came.

' D the plaintiff I' said his lordship between his

On went the learned gentlemen. The Serjeant for
the plaintiff was addressing the jury, and when he
mentioned the defendant, ' D the defendant !'
muttered dear old Johnny.

On rolled the volume of eloquence notwithstanding,
and presently, for about the hundredth time, came the
word ' haystack.'

' D the haystack !' said the Judge.

The other learned Serjeant next had a turn at the
haystack, and was cutting at it pretty forcibly when
old Johnny muttered, with his teeth set :

' D them altogether !'

Even this was not the finish. The jury were now
being enlightened on the question of quality and the
various grasses, such as bents, clover, etc., which were
necessary for the quality of hay contracted for by his
client, when the Judge, losing all patience, looked over
at his associate below, and in a voice audible enough
for the orator himself to notice, said :

' Dear, dear, do stop those d Serjeants.'

If such were the manners of the great, how can one
be surprised at the conduct of the ignorant? But
I suppose swearing is as natural as whistling, and


therefore the more necessary it becomes to restrict
its indulgence. But speaking of those times reminds
me of a story.

A very humane gentleman, hearing that a poor miner
in a North-Country coal district had lost by a sudden
bereavement, his only child a little boy of whom he
and his wife were dotingly fond called upon them
and inquired about the funeral, offering to pay all
expenses and to assist them in any way he could. But

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