Henry Hawkins Brampton.

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

. (page 21 of 21)
Online LibraryHenry Hawkins BramptonThe reminiscences of Sir Henry Hawkins, baron Brampton (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

While Mr. Hawkins was replying one afternoon
Mr. Whalley, M.P., came in and sat next to the


Claimant. He was, from the first, one of his most
enthusiastic supporters.

' Well/ he said, ' and how are you getting on
to-day ? How are we getting on, eh ?'

' Getting on,' growled the Claimant ; ' he's been
going on at a pretty rate, and if he goes on much
longer I shall begin to think I am Arthur Orton,
after all. '

I will conclude this chapter with the following
reminiscences of the trial by Lord Brampton himself :]

I had a great deal to put up with from day to day
in many ways during this prolonged investigation.
The Lord Chief Justice, Cockburn, although good,
was a little impatient, and hard to please at times.

My opponent sought day by day some cause of
quarrel with me. At times he was most insulting,
and grew almost hourly worse, until I was compelled,
in order to stop his insults, to declare openly that I
would never speak to him again on this side the grave,
and I never did. My life was made miserable, and what
ought to have been a quiet and orderly performance
was rendered a continual scene of bickering and
conflict, too often about the most trifling matters.

With everyone else I got on happily and agreeably,
my juniors loyally doing their very utmost to render
me every assistance and lighten my burden.

Even the Claimant himself not only gave me no
offence from first to last, but was at times in his
manner very amusing, and preserved his natural good
temper admirably, considering what he had at stake
on the issue of the trial, and remembering also that
that issue devolved mainly upon my own personal


Nor was the Claimant devoid of humour. On the
contrary, he was plentifully endowed with it.

One morning on his going into court an elderly lady
dressed in deep mourning presented him with a religious
tract. He thanked her, went to his seat and perused
the document. Then he wrote something on the tract,
carefully revised what he had written, and threw it on
the floor.

The usher was watching these proceedings, and, as
soon as he could do so unobserved, secured the paper
and handed it to me.

The tract was headed, ' Sinner, Repent !'

The Claimant had written on it : ' Surely this must
have been meant for Orkins, not for me !'

Louie's story of picking him up in the boat must
have amused him greatly. If he was amused at the
ease with which fools can be humbugged, he must
also have been astounded at the awful villainy of
those who, perfect strangers to him, had perjured
themselves for the sake of notoriety.*

I did what I could to shorten the proceedings. My

* In this case of Louie, the fact of Mr. Hawkins' skill was
dangerous. One of the jury told me that at first the story
was so improbable that they did not believe it, but that when
they found he could stand days of cross-examination from
such a man as Hawkins they had their doubts. I mentioned
this circumstance to Lord Brampton, and he said it was quite
true there must be some danger ; but that the man placing
himself on the ocean, away from everybody and everything
but the boat and the sea, there were no surrounding circum-
stances by which the truth of his story could be tested, and
therefore all he could do was to rely upon improbabilities.
When the antecedent circumstances of Louie's life became
known, nothing was easier for him than the mere dismissal of
that part of the case altogether.


opening speech was confined to six days, as compared
with twenty - eight on the other side, my reply to
nine. But that reply was a labour fearful to look
back upon. The mere classification of the evidence
was a momentous and necessary task. It had to be
gathered from the four quarters of the world. It had
to be sifted, winnowed, and arranged in order as a
perfect whole before the true story was evolved from
the complications and entanglements with which it
was surrounded.

And when I rose to reply, to perform my last work
and make my last effort for the success of my cause,
I felt as one about to plunge into a boundless ocean
with the certain knowledge that everything depended
upon my own unaided efforts as to whether I should
sink or swim. Happily for the cause of justice, I
succeeded ; and at the end, although flattering words
of approval and commendation poured upon me from
all sides, from the highest to the humblest, I did not
then realize their value to the extent that I did after-
wards. The excitement and the exertion had been too
great for anything to add to it.

But I afterwards remembered ay, and can never
forget the words of the Lord Chief Justice himself,
the first to appreciate and applaud, as I was passing
near him in leaving the court : ' Bravo ! Bravo,
Hawkins !' And then he added : ' I have not heard
a piece of oratory like that for many a long day I' And
he patted me cordially on the back as he looked at me
with, I believe, the sincerest appreciation.

Lord Chelmsford, too, who years before had given
me my silk gown, was on the Bench on this last day,
and I shall never forget the compliment he paid me on


my speech. It was of itself worth all the trouble and
anxiety I had undergone.

Beyond all this, and more gratifying even still, my
speech was liked by the Bar, from the most eminent
to the briefless.

But greatest of all events in that eventful day was
one which went deeper to my feelings my old father,
who had taken so strong a view against my going to
the Bar, and who told me so mournfully that after
five years I must sink or swim ; my old father, who
had never once seen me in my wig and gown from that
day to this, the almost closing scene in my forensic
career, came into court and sat by my side when I
made successfully the greatest effort of my life.



A 000 033 789 9

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21

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