Henry Hawkins Brampton.

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

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difficult to keep it. The only really innocent conversa-
tion was when a man talked about himself.

From that popular gossiping establishment I heard
a little story told by the son of Sydney Smith. His
father had been sent for to see an old lady who was
one of his most troublesome parishioners. She was
dying. Sad to say, she had always been querulous
and quarrelsome. It may have been constitutional,
but whatever the cause, her husband had had an
uncomfortable time with her. When Sydney Smith
reached the house the old lady was dead, and the
bereaved widower, a religious man in his way, and
acquainted with Scripture, said :

' Ah, sir, you are too late; my poor dear wife has
gone to Abrahams bosom'

' Poor Abraham !' exclaimed Sydney, ' she'll tear his
inside out.'

As all these things pass through my memory I recall
another little incident with much satisfaction, because
I was retained in the case. It was a scandalous fraud
in connection with the gaming-table. An action was
brought by a cheat against a gentleman who was said
to have lost 20,000 on the cast of the dice. I was
the counsel opposed to plaintiff, who was said to have
cheated by means of loaded dice. I won the case, and
it was generally believed that the action was the cause
of the appointment of the ' Gaming Committee,' at
which tribunal all the rascality of the gaming-tables
was called to give evidence, and the witnesses did so
in such a manner as to shock the conscience of the


civilized world, which is never conscious of anything
until exposure takes place in a court of law or in some
other legal inquiry.

Diabolical revelations were brought to light. How-
ever, as I have said, Lord Palmerston effectually cleared
Crockford's, and it almost seemed, from the evidence
of those who knew Crockford's best, that they never
played anything there but old-fashioned whist for
threepenny points, patience, and beggar-my-neigh-

Here Mr. Goodman asked if there was any evidence
in the case I defended against the supposed cheat, of
the dice being really loaded, because it seemed to him
a very serious charge to make.

I agreed that it was, and that if it stood only on
the accidental rolling of the cubes, the defence ought
not to have been set up. But unfortunately for the
plaintiff, I called the man who made the loaded dice,
and he swore positively that he made them at the
instigation of the plaintiff.

His Royal Highness the then Prince of Wales came
into court during the trial, and seemed interested in
the proceedings. I wonder if His Majesty now re-
members it !

In those days Baron Martin and I met once a year,
he on the Bench and I in court, with a hansom-cab
waiting outside ready to start for the Derby. It is
necessary for Judges to sit on Derby Day to show that
they do not go, but if by some accident the work of
the court is finished in time to get down to Epsom,
those who love an afternoon in the country sometimes
go in the direction of the Downs. There is usually a
run on the list on that day, some asking for adjourn-


ments, some agreeing to postponements, and others
from illness of a witness or other like serious cause
not being ready, so that the Judge is obliged to adjourn
till the following morning, however much he may
protest about public inconvenience and otherwise ex-
hibit his undoubted patriotism and love of work.

Of course Mr. Goodman paid me the five pounds I
lent him, and I hope he never borrowed money for a
worse purpose. He pleased me by saying he was
much interested in these old-time customs, and could
I, before we retired, tell him another story ?

I was proud to oblige an attorney of such prompt
payment, and then told him that there was another
club to which I belonged in those old days, called
' The Hooks and Eyes Club.'

' There I met for the last time poor Douglas Jerrold.
He was one of the Eyes, and always on the look-out
for a good thing, or the opportunity of saying one.
He was certainly, in my opinion, the wittiest man of
his day. But at times his wit was more hurtful than
amusing. Wit should not, in my opinion, leave a sting.
Unfortunately this exquisite gift sometimes degene-
rates into sarcasm, and its pleasantry is gone.

' He was sometimes hard on those who were the
objects of his personal dislike. Of these Sir Charles
Taylor was one. He was not a welcome member of
the Hooks and Eyes, and Jerrold knew it. There was
really no reason why Sir Charles should not have been
liked, except perhaps that he was dull and prosaic :
rather simple, I should say, than dull, for he was
always ready to laugh with the rest of us, whether
he understood the joke or not. And what could the
most brilliant do beyond that ?


' Sir Charles, however, had one redeeming virtue he
was fond of music, and especially of the homely air,
" The Last Rose of Summer."

' " That," said he one evening, " is divine. Oh, T am
always carried away by that tune."

' Jerrold instantly said : " Can any gentleman oblige
us by humming it ?"

' This was the original of the story, which you may
have heard.'

Mr. Goodman had not heard it, which did not surprise
me. 'Jerrold/ I added before we said good-night,
' was a most pleasant humorist, and if he sometimes
caused irritation I am sure it was not intended. The
habit grew upon him of making a pun or a joke where
he could. A smart saying to him was worth living
for, and sometimes betrayed him into an appearance
of malevolence which he never felt. To those whom
he cared for he was amiability itself. Everybody loved
Sir Charles Knight, the friend of all, and one of the
most genial and agreeable members of the Hooks and
Eyes. He was particularly of the former, said Jerrold,
for he hooked everybody on to him by hook and by

' One evening we were particularly merry, and in
consequence, I suppose, the conversation turned on the
subject of epitaphs. What should be written on this
man and that man ? Jerrold had given a good many
epitaphs the last kindness, said he, a man can perform
for his friends when someone asked : " What would
you say for Sir Charles, Jerrold ?"

' " Easy enough," said he, " (rood Knight."

' And now, my dear Mr. Goodman, that is the
epitaph for us, before we can say as we pillow our


heads, here lie two lawyers who never lie on their legs
and who never stand on trifles when lying.'

Goodman was a very simple, ingenuous man, and,
notwithstanding the harvest festival, he laughed
heartily as we shook hands and wished each other
good-night. It had been an interesting day in the
country : I dreamed of the turnips and wurzels, and
I have no doubt he dreamed of my five-pound note,
and my regret at not having shared his benevolence.



I WAS travelling one day on circuit from London to
Norwich. It was shortly after the Rugeley poisoning
case ; and a word or two on that matter may be neces-
sary in order to explain the conversation which I could
not help overhearing between two fellow-travellers,
who were evidently bookmakers returning from the

William Palmer was a surgeon practising at Rugeley
in Staffordshire. He was a great racing man, and
owned one or two racers. A young gentleman of con-
siderable fortune had taken to the turf, and owned
horses. Palmer and he became intimate as companions
in short, they were at Shrewsbury races, where Palmer
lost and Cook won. The latter had considerable sums
of money to receive on bets, and Palmer, desirous of
getting hold of it, poisoned the poor man with
strychnine, took possession of his betting-book and
papers, received all moneys due, and then had him
hastily buried. Ultimately suspicion fell on Palmer ;
he was tried for the murder, and hanged. There was
little doubt he had murdered several others for the
sake of the money for which he had insured their lives,


notably his wife and mother, whose name he had forged
to several bills.

One of the men in the railway-carriage I knew
by sight. His name was Kirby a rough, good-natured,
honest sort of man, I believe, as anyone in a small way
of book-making of that day. His companion was a
stranger. Everybody at that time talked of Palmer
the Rugeley poisoner, for he had just been hanged.

' Bill,' said Kirby, ' I knowed that there Palmer ; did
you f

' No,' said Bill, ' don't know as ever I did.'

' Well, I had dealings with him, and a nice sort
of fellow he was, only nobody never could get any
money from him.' After a pause he continued : 'Well,
he owed me a matter o' five-and- twenty pound, and
I wrote, I suppose, a dozen letters to him, perhaps
more ; but it was no good, and so at last I sent him a
stinger. I knowed what to say to him, for I had 'eeard
a bit from the ostler at the public where I stopped.
He told me as Palmer persuaded him to let him insure
his life, which the fool did, and next time he see Palmer
the doctor gave him a drink that nearly made old Sam
kick the bucket there and then.

' After I sent the letter, Palmer asked me to come
over one day and he'd settle with me. So over I goes,
and when I gets to his house was asked into a little
room, and left there by myself for a goodish while.
On the table was a decanter of sherry wine and a
glass. I was putty thirsty, of course, but I didn't
touch the wine. Howsomever, there it was to help
myself if I'd a mind to. Presently in comes the
doctor with a pleasant smile, a friendly shake of the
hand, and a " Very glad to see you, Kirby ! How are


you getting on, Kirby ? A glass o' sherry, Kirby ? it
will do you good after your walk."

' " I shall be glad to have one, Mr. Palmer, if you'll
join me," I ses, " for a thought come to me about Sam
the ostler."

'"No," he says, "thankee, Kirby, I never drink

' " No more don't I, Mr. Palmer," I ses ; and then I
asked him if it was agreeable to him to pay what
he owed.

' " No," says he, " Kirby, it is not quite agreeable at
present but are you sure you won't take a glass
of sherry, Kirby ?"

' " Quite, sir," I ses, " thankee all the same ; I ain't
no sherry drinker, Mr. Palmer."

' " What will you take ?" ses he ; " you must have

' " No sir, thankee, my little account's all I wants."

' " Well, if you won't take anything," ses he, " you
may as well have a look round my little farm. I've
got some nice little pigs to show you."

' Well, when we got to the sty, there was as nice a
farrer as you could see.

' " I'll tell you what it is, Kirby," ses he : " you've
been very good lettin' that little account of ours stand
over, and I'll make you a present of one of these
sucking-pigs, and my cook shall send him over all
ready for roasting."

' " No, thankee, sir," I ses again ; "I ain't come for
no pigs." / worrit goiri to have his damned sherry and
poisoned pig'

Such was Kirby's story, and I have no doubt he was
doomed to death by Palmer. Some time after, when I


was a Judge and at the Stafford Assizes, I was
talking with Major Talford, the governor of the gaol
where Palmer was hanged, and he told me that Palmer
talked freely about his case while waiting execution ;
that he said all through the trial he expected an
acquittal, and even after the Judge's terrible summing
up, hope did not desert him. ' But,' he added, ' when
the jury returned into court, and I saw the cocked-up
nose of the perky little foreman, I knew it was a gooser
with me.'

On the morning of the execution the path from the
condemned cell to the gallows was wet and muddy, it
having rained during the night, and Palmer minced
along like a delicate schoolgirl, picking his way and
avoiding the puddles. He was particularly anxious
not to get his feet wet.

The prejudice against Palmer in Staffordshire was
such that an Act of Parliament was passed to remove
the trial from that county to the Central Criminal
Court, an invasion of local venue never before known.
I may also add that at that time there was no known
test for the discovery of strychnine in the body, and
Palmer was convicted entirely upon the symptoms
preceding death, and especially the peculiar arching of
the body after. It is now discoverable in every organ
of the system.

During the trial, while the Lord Chief Justice
Campbell was examining an expert doctor so as to
test his evidence, which was in favour of Palmer, the
prisoner wrote on a slip of paper which he handed
down to his junior counsel, Johnny Gray, these words :

' I should like to give just such a dose to that old
devil !' meaning Campbell.

VOL. i. 18


In the days when burglary was punished with
death, there was very seldom any remission. I was in
court one day at Guildford, when a respectably-dressed
man in a velveteen suit of a yellowy green colour and
pearl buttons came up to me. He looked like one of
Lord Onslow's gamekeepers. I knew nothing of him,
but seemed to recognise his features as those of one
I had seen before. When he came in front of my seat
he grinned with immense satisfaction, and said :

' Can I get you anything, Mr. Orkins ?'

I could not understand the man's meaning.

' No, thank you,' I said. ' What do you mean ?'

' Don't you recollect, sir, you defended me at Kingston
for a burglary charge and got me off, Mr. Orkins, in
fly in' colours ?'

I recollected.

' Very well,' I said ; ' I hope you will never want
defending again.'

' No, sir ; never.'

' That's right/

' Would a teapot be of any use to you, Mr. Orkins ?'

' A teapot !'

' Yes, sir, or a few silver spoons anything you like
to name, Mr. Orkins.'

I begged him to leave the court.

' Mr. Orkins, I will ; but I am grateful for your
gettin' me off that job, and if a piece o' plate will be
any good, I'll guarantee it's good old family stuff as '11
fetch you a lot o' money some day.'

I again refused, and then, disappointed at my not
accepting things of greater value, he said :

' Sir, will a sack o' taters be of any service to you V

But this sort of gratitude was not uncommon in.


those days. I told the story to Mr. Justice Wight-
man, and he said :

' Oh, that's nothing to what happened to the Common
Serjeant of London. He had sent to him once a
Christmas hamper containing a hare, a brace and a half
of pheasants, three ducks and a couple of fowls, which
he accepted'

I sometimes won a jury over by a little good-natured
banter, and sometimes annoyed Chief Justice Campbell
when I woke him up with laughter. And yet he liked
me, I believe, for although often annoyed, he was never
really angry with me. He used to crouch his head
down over his two forearms and go to sleep, or pretend
to, by way of showing it did not matter what I said to
the jury. I dare say it was disrespectful, but I could
not help on these occasions quietly pointing across
my shoulder at him, and that was enough. The jury
roared, and Campbell looked up suddenly :
' What's the joke, Mr. Hawkins ?'
' Nothing, my lord ; I was only saying I was quite
sure your lordship would tell the jury exactly what
I was saying.'

' Go on, Mr. Hawkins '

Then he turned to his clerk and said :
' I shall catch him one of these days. Confine your-
self to the issue, Mr. Hawkins.'

' If your lordship pleases,' said I, and went on.
The eccentricities of Judges would form a laughable
chapter. Some of them were overwhelmed with the
importance of their position ; none were ever modest
enough to perceive their own small individuality amidst
their judicial environments ; and this thought reminds
me of an occurrence at Liverpool Assizes, when Huddle-



stone and Manisty, the two Judges on circuit, dined
as usual with the Lord Mayor. The Queen's health
was proposed, of course, and Manisty, with his innate
good breeding, stood up to drink it, whereupon his
august brother Judge pulled him violently by his
sleeve, saying, ' Sit down, Manisty, you damned fool !
ive are the Queen !'

I was addressing a jury for the plaintiff in a breach
of promise case, and as the defendant had not appeared
in the witness-box, I inadvertently called attention to
an elderly well-dressed gentleman in blue frock-coat
and brass buttons a man, apparently, of good position.
The jury looked at him and then at one another as I
said how shameful it was for a gentleman to brazen
it out in the way the defendant did ashamed to go
into the witness-box, but not ashamed to sit in court.

Here the gentleman rose in a great rage amidst the
laughter of the audience, in which even the ushers
and javelin-men joined, to say nothing of the Judge
himself, and shouted with angry vociferation :

' Mr. Hawkins, I am not the defendant in this case,
sir '

* I am very sorry for you,' I replied ; ' but no one
said you were.'

There was another outburst, and the poor gentleman
gesticulated, if possible, more vehemently than before.

' I am not the def '

' Nobody would have supposed you were, sir, if you
had not taken so much trouble to deny it. The jury,
however, will now judge of it.'

' I'm a married man, sir.'

' So much the worse,' said I.



As my business continued to increase, it took me more
and more from the ordinary nisi prius, and kept me
perpetually employed in special matters. I had a
great many compensation cases, where houses, lands,
and businesses had been taken for public or company
purposes. They were interesting and by no means
difficult, the great difficulty being to get the true
value when you had, as I have known, a hundred
thousand pounds asked on one side and ten thousand
offered on the other.

Railway companies were especially plundered in
the exorbitant valuation of owners of lands, and
therefore an advocate who could check the valuers
by cross-examination was sought after. Juries were
always liable to be imposed upon, and generally gave
liberal compensation, altogether apart from the market
value. Experts, such as land agents and surveyors,
were always in request, and indeed these experts in
value caused the most extravagant amounts to be
awarded. Even the mean sum between highest and
lowest was a monstrously unfair guide, for one old
expert used to instruct his pupils that the only true


principle in estimating value was to ask at least twice
as much as the business or other property was worth,
because, he said, the other side will be sure to try and
cut you down one-half, and then probably offer to split
the difference. If you accept that you will of course
get one-quarter more than you could by stating what
you really wanted. No one could deal with the real
value, because there was no such thing known in the
Compensation Court.

On one occasion I was travelling North in connec-
tion with one of these cases, retained, as usual, on
behalf of a railway company. In my judgment the
claim would have been handsomely met by an award
of 10,000, and that sum we were prepared to give.

On my way I observed in my carriage a gentleman
who was very busy in making calculations on slips of
paper, and every now and again mentioning the figures
at which he had arrived repeating them to himself.
When we got to a station he threw away his paper,
after tearing it up, and when we started commenced
again, but at every stoppage on our journey he in-
creased his amount. When we had travelled 250 miles,
the property he was valuing had attained the hand-
some figure of 100,000.

He evidently had not observed me. I was very'
quiet, and well wrapped up. The next day, however,
when he stepped into the witness-box he looked
hard without knowing I had been his fellow-traveller
of the previous night. He was not very sharp, except
in the matter of figures ; but his opinion, like that of
all experts, was invincible. His name was Bunce.

' When did you view this property, Mr. Bunce ? I
understand you come from London.'


' I saw it this morning, sir. '

'Did you make any calculation as to its value
before you saw it ?'

This puzzled him, and he stared at me. It was a
hard stare, but I held out.

He said, ' No.'

' Not when you were travelling ? Did it not pass
through your .mind when you were in the train, for
instance, "I wonder, now, what that property is

' I dare say it did, sir.'

' But don't dare say anything unless it's true.'

' I did, then, run it over in my mind.'

' And I dare say you made notes and can produce
them. Did you make notes ?' After a while I said :
' I see you did. You may as well let me have them.'

' I tore them up.'

' Why ? What became of the pieces ?'

' I threw them away.'

' Do you remember what price you had arrived at
when you reached Peterborough, for instance ?'

The expert thought I was someone whom we never
mention except when in a bad temper, and he was
more and more puzzled when he found that at every
stoppage I knew how much his price had increased.

As the case was tried by an arbitrator and not a
jury my task was easy, arbitrators not being so likely
to be befooled as the other form of tribunal. This
arbitrator especially knew the elasticity of an expert's
opinion, and therefore I was not alarmed for my
client. The amount was soon arrived at by re-
ducing the amount claimed by no less than 90,000.
Thus vanished the visionary claim and the expert.


He evidently had not been trained by the cunning
old surveyor whose experience taught him to be
moderate, and claim only twice as much as you
ought to get.

In another claim, which was no less than 10,000,
the jury gave 300. This was a state of things that
had to be stopped, and it could only be accomplished
at that time by counsel who appeared on behalf of the

Sir Henry Hunt was one of the best of arbitrators,
and it was difficult to deceive him. It took a clever
expert to convince him that a piece of land whose
actual value would be 100 was worth 20,000.

Sir Henry once, I have been told, paid me a com-
pliment of course when I was not present.

' Hawkins,' said he, ' is the very best advocate of
the day, and, strange to say, his initials are the same
as mine. You may turn them upside down and they
will still stand on their legs ' (H. H.).

Sir Henry was sometimes a witness, and as such
always dangerous to the side against whom he was
called, because he was a Judge of value and a man of

One instance in which I took a somewhat novel
course in demolishing a fictitious claim is, perhaps,
worth while to relate, although so many years have
passed since it occurred.

It was so far back as the time of the old Hungerford
Market, which the railway company was taking for
their present Charing Cross terminus. The question
was as to the value of a business for the sale of
medical appliances.

Mr. Lloyd, as usual, was for the business, while I


appeared for the company. My excellent friend pro-
ceeded on the good old lines of compensation advocacy
with the same comfortable routine that one plays the
old family rubber of threepenny points. I occasionally
finessed, however, and put my opponent off his play.
He held good hands, but if I had an occasionally bad
one, I sometimes managed to save the odd trick.

Lloyd had expatiated on the value of the situa-
tion, the highroad between Waterloo Station and the
Strand, immense traffic and grand frontage. To prove
all this he called a multitude of witnesses, who kissed
the same book and swore the same thing almost in
the same words. But to his great surprise I did not
cross-examine. Lloyd was bewildered, and said I had
admitted the value by not cross-examining, and he
should not call any more witnesses.

I then addressed the jury, and said : ' A multitude
of witnesses may prove anything they like, but my
friend has started with an entirely erroneous view of
the situation. The compensation for disturbance of
a business must depend a great deal on the nature of
the business. If you can carry it on elsewhere with the
same facility and profit, the compensation you are
entitled to is very little. I will illustrate my mean-
ing. Let us suppose that in this thoroughfare there
is a good public-house for such a business it would
indeed be an excellent situation; you may easily
imagine a couple of burly farmers coming up from
Farnham or Windlesham to the Cattle Show, and,

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