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where. The Criminal Court was the best school in
which to learn your work of cross-examination and


examination-in-chief, while the Courts of Equity were
probably the worst. But I shall not dwell on my
struggles in connection with the Old Bailey at that
early period of my life. What will be more interest-
ing, perhaps, are some curious arrangements which
they had for the conduct of business and the enter-
tainment of the Judges.

These are a too much neglected part of our history,
and when referred to in reminiscences are generally
referred to as matters for jocularity. They exercised,
however, a serious influence on the minds and feelings
of the people, as well as their manners ; more so than
a hundred subjects with which the historian or the
novelist sometimes deals.

In all cases of unusual gravity three Judges sat
together. Offences that would now be treated as not
even deserving of a day's imprisonment in many cases
were then invariably punished with death. It was
not, therefore, so much the nature of the offence as
the importance of it in the eyes of the Judges that
caused three of them to sit together and try the

They sat till five o'clock right through, and then
went to a sumptuous dinner provided by the Lord
Mayor and Aldermen. They drank everybody's health
but their own, thoroughly relieved their minds from
the horrors of the court, and, having indulged in
much festive wit, sometimes at an alderman's expense,
and often at their own, returned into court in solemn
procession, their gravity undisturbed by anything that
had previously taken place, and looking the picture of
contentment and virtue.

Another dinner was provided by the Sheriffs ; this


was for the Recorder, Common Serjeant, and others
who took their seats when their lordships had

I ought to mention one important dignitary
namely, the chaplain of Newgate whose fortunate
position gave him the advantage over most persons,
for he dined at both these dinners, and assisted in the
circulation of the wit from one party to another ; so
that what my Lord Chief Justice had made the table
roar with at five o'clock, the Recorder and the Common
Serjeant roared with at six, and were able to retail at
their family tables at a later period of the evening.
It was in that way so many good things have come
down to the present day.

The reverend gentleman alluded to of course
attended the court in robes, and his only, but solemn,
function was to say ' Amen ' when the sentence of
death was pronounced by the Judge. It was worth
hearing, because it sounded like an air-bubble break-
ing from his windpipe : a wheezy kind of performance,
and worth very little to anybody concerned, still less
to the prisoner.

There were curious old stories, too, about my lords
and old port at that time which are not of my own
reminiscences, and, therefore, I shall do no more than
mention them in order to pass on to what I heard and
saw myself.

The first thing that struck me in the after-dinner
trials was the extreme rapidity with which the pro-
ceedings were conducted. As Judges and counsel were
exhilarated, the business was proportionately accele-
rated. But of all the men I had the pleasure of
meeting on these occasions, the one who gave me the


best idea of rapidity in an after-dinner case was Muir-

Let me illustrate it by a trial which I heard. Jones
was the name of the prisoner. His offence was that
of picking pockets, entailing, of course, a punishment
corresponding in severity with the barbarity of the
times. It was not a plea of ' Guilty,' when, perhaps, a
little more inquiry might have been necessary : it was
a case in which the prisoner solemnly declared he
was ' Not guilty,' and therefore had a right to be

The accused having ' held up his hand,' and the jury
having solemnly sworn to hearken to the evidence,
and ' to well and truly try, and true deliverance make,'
etc., the witness for the prosecution climbs into the
box, which was like a pulpit, and before he has
time to look round and see where the voice comes
from, he is examined as follows by the prosecuting
counsel :

' I think you were walking up Ludgate Hill on
Thursday 25th, about half-past two in the afternoon
and suddenly felt a tug at your pocket and missed
your handkerchief which the constable now produces.
Is that it ?'

' Yes, sir.'

' I suppose you have nothing to ask him ?' says the
Judge. ' Next witness.'

Constable stands up.

' Were you following the prosecutor on the occasion
when he was robbed on Ludgate Hill, and did you
see the prisoner put his hand into the prosecutor's
pocket and take this handkerchief out of it ?'

' Yes, sir.'

VOL. i. 3


Judge to prisoner : ' Nothing to say, I suppose ?'
Then to the jury : ' Gentlemen, I suppose you have
no doubt ? I have none.'

Jury : ' Guilty, my lord,' as though to oblige his

Judge to prisoner : ' Jones, we have met before
we shall not meet again for some time seven years'
transportation next case.'

Time : two minutes, fifty-three seconds.
Perhaps this case was a high example of expedition,
because it was not always that a learned counsel could
put his questions so neatly ; but it may be taken that
these after-dinner trials did not occupy on the average
more ihsmfour minutes each.

Of course, in those days there were Judges of the
utmost strictness as there are now, who insisted that
the rules of evidence should be rigidly adhered to.
It was only occasionally that you were favoured with
such despatch. I will give some instances of a Judge
whose abilities were of a remarkable order, and whose
memory is still fresh in the minds of many of my
contemporaries I mean Mr. Justice Maule. His
asthmatic cough was the most interesting and amusing
cough I ever heard, especially when he was saying
anything more than usually humorous, which was
not infrequently. He was a man of great wit, sound
sense, and a curious humour, such as I never heard
in any other man. He possessed, too, a particularly
keen apprehension. To those who had any real ability
he was the most pleasant of Judges, but had little
love for mediocrities. He flourished in the days I
have been speaking of, those of Tindal and Jervis,
who were in the Common Pleas, a court always pro-


lific of the very finest Judges our country ever had.
Perhaps, however, I should place the Exchequer of a
later period on the same elevated plane.

Maule's voice was as peculiar as his cough, and both
in concert gave you the idea he was speaking out
of a large gramophone, only more distinct than the
gramophone generally is. His scientific knowledge
was excellent. I remember on one occasion a great
personal friend consulting him as to the instructions
he should give to an architect who was to prepare
plans for building a music-room in addition to some
others in his house.

' Have you told the architect what you want ?'
asked Maule.

' No,' said his friend, ' not yet.'

' Then don't,' said Maule, ' for God's sake ! If you
have not told him, you may stand a chance of getting
it, but if you give him scientific instructions your
scientific instructions you will so puzzle the poor
man that the odds are you will get nothing in the
world like what you require. Leave it to him.'

The same Judge possessed also a great amount of
common-sense, which on the Bench is of much more
importance than learning itself, because a small
quantity of the latter, in most cases, goes a long way
if aided by the former. The more pedantry the less

Maule was one day hearing cases in what are called
' Judges' Chambers,' where a good deal of skirmishing
and sharp-shooting between boys who come from
solicitors' offices and represent the firm, used to take
place over pleadings and other preliminary matters,
before the general action commenced.



These conflicts were sometimes annoying, especially
if the Judge was of a wavering mind, or a disposition
to please both sides. Maule was by no means that
kind of man, and after he had given his prompt
decision, one of the boys lost his temper and evidently
thought the Judge was wrong. This was the boy who
had lost his case ; the other boy thought the Judge
was right in his law. Alas ! the first boy, as he
approached the doorkeeper, muttered the words : ' A
damned old fool !'

This was too much for the doorkeeper a gentleman
who had been told off to do his duty in that station
of life in which Providence, supported by solicitous
friends, had placed him, during the last forty years
and he could not 'stand it.' In his opinion, such
language, applied to a learned Judge of the High
Court, amounted to little less than high treason, if
it was not really a much greater offence.

Consequently, as in duty bound to make all the
mischief he could, this official immediately reported
the words the lad had used to the Judge.

' Bring him back,' said Maule ' bring him back at


Then, pale and trembling, the youth stood before
the Judge in reverential attitude, with his chin on his
breast and his eyes cast down to the floor ; he who
had been so bold and indiscreetly loud in damning the
old fool a minute previously.

' I understand,' said his lordship, ' that in passing
out of these chambers you called me " A damned old
fool !" I don't say you are wrong, my boy, for a
moment ; you may be right. I may be a damned old
fool, but it would have been more polite if you had


deferred the expression of your opinion until you were
outside. You may now go.'

Such was his sense of dignity a dignity that did
not condescend to punish as a Judge what was spoken
against the mere individual as a man ; he was not
defending the self-conceit of his office, and I think
rather admired the boy's outspoken frankness.



I COME now to the theological department of Mr.
Justice Maule's character. I have said he had a keen
discernment, and no man ever was endowed with a
greater abhorrence of hypocrisy. I learnt a great deal
in watching him and noting his observations. One
day a very sad case was being tried. It was that
of a man for killing an infant, and it was proposed
by the prosecution to call as a witness a little brother
of the murdered child.

The boy's capacity to give evidence, however, was
somewhat doubted by the counsel for the Crown, John
Clark, and it did honour to his sense of fairness.
Having asked the little boy a question or two as to
the meaning of an oath, he said he had some doubt as
to whether the witness should be admitted to give
evidence, as he did not seem to understand the nature
of an oath, and the boy was otherwise deficient in
religious knowledge.

He was asked the usual sensible questions which

St. Thomas Aquinas himself would have been puzzled

to answer ; and, being a mere child of seven, or at most

eight, years of age, without any kind of education,



was unable to state what the exact nature of an
oath was.

Having failed in this, he was next asked what,
when they died, became of people who told lies.

' If he knows that, it's a good deal more than I do,'
said Maule.

' Attend to me,' said the Crown counsel. Do you
know that it's wicked to tell lies ?'

' Yes, sir,' the boy answered.

' I don't think/ said the counsel for the prosecution,
' it would be safe to swear him, my lord ; he does not
seem to know anything about religion at all. You can
stand down.'

' Stop a minute, my boy,' says Maule ; ' let me ask
you a question or two. ' You have been asked about
a future state at least, I presume that was at the
bottom of the gentleman's question. I should like
to know what you have been taught to believe.
What will become of you, my little boy, when you
die, if you are so wicked as to tell a lie ?'

'Hell fire,' answered the boy with great prompti-
tude and boldness.

' Right,' said Maule. ' Now let us go a little further.
Do you mean to say, boy, that you would go to hell
fire for telling any lie V

' Hell fire, sir,' said the boy emphatically, as though
it were something to look forward to rather than shun.

' Take time, my boy,' said Maule ; ' don't answer
hurriedly ; think it over. Suppose, now, you were
accused of stealing an apple ; how would that be in
the next world, think you ?'

' Hell fire, my lord 1'

' Very good indeed. Now let us suppose that you


were disobedient to your parents, or to one of them ;
what would happen in that case ?'

' Hell fire, my lord !'

' Exactly ; very good indeed. Now let me take
another instance, and suppose that you were sent for
the milk in the morning, and took just a little sip while
you were carrying it home ; how would that be as
regards your future state ?'

' Helljire /' repeated the boy.

Upon this Clark suggested that the lad's absolute
ignorance of the nature of an oath and Divine things
rendered it imprudent to call him.

' I don't know about that,' said Maule ; ' he seems
to me to be very sound, and most divines will tell you
he is right.'

' He does not seem to be competent,' said the

' I beg your pardon,' returned the Judge, ' I think
he is a very good little boy. He thinks that for every
wilful fault he will go to hell fire ; and is very
likely while he believes that doctrine to be very strict
in his observance of truth. If you and I believed that
such would be the penalty for every act of misconduct
we committed, we should be better men than we are.
Let the boy be sworn.'

On one occasion, before Maule, I had to defend a man
for murder. It was a terribly difficult case, because
there was no defence except the usual one of insanity.

The court adjourned for lunch, and Woollet, who
was my junior, and I went to consultation. I was
oppressed with the difficulty of my task, and asked
Woollet what he thought I could do.

' Oh,' said he in his sanguine way, ' make a hell of


a speech. You'll pull him through all right. Let 'em
have it.'

' I'll give them as much burning eloquence as I can
manage,' said I, in my youthful ardour ; ' but what's
the use of words against facts ? We must really stand
by the defence of insanity ; it is all that's left.'

' Call the clergyman,' said Woollet ; ' he'll help us
all he can.'

With that resolution we returned to court. I made
my speech for the defence, following Woollet's advice
as nearly as practicable, and really blazed away. I
think the jury believed there was a good deal in what
I said, for they seemed a very discerning body and a
good deal inclined to logic, especially as there was a
mixture of passion in it.

We then called the clergyman of the village where
the prisoner lived. He said he had been Vicar for thirty-
four years, and that up to very recently, a few days
before the murder, the prisoner had been a regular
attendant at his church. He was a married man with
a wife and two little children, one seven and the other

' Did the wife attend your ministrations, too ?' asked

' Not so regularly. Suddenly,' continued the Vicar,
after suppressing his emotion, ' without any apparent
cause, the man became a Sabbath-breaker, and absented
himself from church.'

This evidence rather puzzled me, for I could not
understand its purport. Maule in the meantime was
watching it with the keenest interest and no little
curiosity. He was not a great believer in the defence
of insanity, except occasionally, that of the solicitor


who set it up, and he watched the Vicar with scru-
tinizing intensity.

' Have you finished with your witness, Mr. Woollet ?'
his lordship inquired.

' Yes, my lord.'

Maule then took him in hand, and after looking at
him steadfastly for about a minute, said :

'You say, sir, that you have been Vicar of this
parish for four-and-thirty yearsf

' Yes, my lord.'

' And during that time I dare say you have regu-
larly performed the services of the Church ?'

' Yes, my lord.'

' Did you have week-day services as well ?'

' Every Tuesday, my lord.'

' And did you preach your own sermons ?'

' With an occasional homily of the Church.'

' Your own sermon or discourse, with an occasional
homily ? And was this poor man a regular attendant
at all your services during the whole time you have
been Vicar ?'

* Until he killed his wife, my lord.'

' That follows I mean up to the time of this
sabbath -breaking you spoke of. He regularly attended
your ministrations, and then killed his wife ?'

' Exactly, my lord.'

' Never missed the sermon, discourse, or homily of
the Church, Sunday or week-day ?'

' That is so, my lord.'

' Did you write your own sermons, may I ask ?'

' Oh yes, my lord.'

Maule carefully wrote down all that our witness
said, and I began to think the defence of insanity


stood on very fair grounds, especially when I perceived
that Maule was making some arithmetical calculations ;
but you never could tell by his manner which way he
was going, and, therefore, we had to wait for his next
observation, which was to this effect :

' You have given yourself, sir, a very excellent
character, and, doubtless, by your long service in the
village, have richly deserved it. You have no doubt
also won the affection of all your parishioners, probably
that of the Bishop of your diocese, by your incom-
parable devotion to your parochial duties. The result,
however, of your indefatigable exertions, so far as this
unhappy man is concerned, comes to this '

His lordship then turned and addressed his observa-
tions on the result to me.

* This gentleman, Mr. Hawkins, has written with
his own pen and preached or read with his own voice
to this unhappy prisoner about one hundred and four
Sunday sermons or discourses, with an occasional
homily, every year'

There was an irresistible sense of the ludicrous as
Maule uttered, or rather growled, these words in a
slow enunciation, and an asthmatical tone. He paused
as if wondering at the magnitude of his calculations,
and then commenced again more slowly and solemnly
than before.

' These,' said he, ' added to the week-day services
make exactly one hundred and fifty-six sermons, dis-
courses, and homilies for the year.' (Then he stared
at me, asking with his eyes what I thought of it.)
' These, again, being continued over a space of time,
comprising, as the reverend gentleman tells us, no less
than thirty-four years, give us a grand total of Jive


thousand three hundred and four sermons, discourses,
or homilies during this unhappy man's life.'

Maule's eyes were now riveted on the clergyman as
though he were an accessory to the murder.

'Five thousand three hundred and four,' he re-
peated, ' by the same person, however respectable and
beloved as a pastor he might be, was what few of us
could have gone through unless we were endowed with
as much strength of mind as power of endurance.

' I was going to ask you, sir, did the idea ever strike
you when you talked of this unhappy being suddenly
leaving your ministrations and turning Sabbath-
breaker, that after thirty-four years he might want a
little change ? Would it not be reasonable to suppose
that the man might think he had had enough of it ?'

' It might, my lord.'

' And would not that in your judgment, instead of
showing that he was insane, prove that he was a very
sensible man f

The Vicar did not quite assent to this, and as he
would not dissent from the learned Judge, he said

'And,' continued Maule, 'that he was perfectly
sane, although he murdered his wife ?'

All this was very clever, not to say facetious, on
the part of the learned Judge, but as I had yet to
address the jury, I was resolved to take the other
view of the effect of the Vicar's sermons, and I did so.
I worked Maule's quarry, I think, with some little
effect ; for after all his most strenuous exertions to
secure a conviction, the jury believed, probably, that
no man's mind could stand the ordeal ; and, further,
that any doubt they might have, after seeing the two


children of the prisoner in court dressed in little black
frocks, and sobbing bitterly while I was addressing
them, would be given in the prisoner's favour, which
it was. This incident in my life is not finished. On
the same evening I was dining at the country house of
a Mr. Hardcastle, and near me sat an old inhabitant
of the village where the tragedy had been committed.

' You made a touching speech, Mr. Hawkins,' said
the old inhabitant.

' Well,' I answered, ' it was the best I could do
under the circumstances.'

' Yes,' he said ; ' but I don't think you would have
painted the little home in such glowing colours if you
had seen what I saw last week when I was driving
past the cottage. No, no ; I think you'd have toned
down a bit.'

' What was it ?' I asked.

' Why,' said the old inhabitant, * the little children
who sobbed so violently in court this morning, and to
whom you made such pathetic reference, were playing
on an ash-heap near their cottage ; and they had a
poor cat with a string round its neck, swinging back-
wards and forwards, and as they did so they sang :

' " This is the way poor daddy will go !
This is the way poor daddy will go !"

Such, Mr. Hawkins, was their excessive grief!'
Yes, but it got the verdict.



Two incidents in my very junior days have left their
impression duly stamped on my mind. So true is it
that the most endurable mementos are the unkind-
nesses inflicted upon us, especially in those days when
they might have ruined our chances of success.

Before Lord Abinger and three other Judges I was
holding my first brief in bane. It was doubtless
a very bad case, or perhaps I should not have been
entrusted with it. I was holding it for my old and
respected tutor. But being so bad a case made it, as
I thought, the less necessary for four mighty Judges
to come down upon me like sledge-hammers at every
argument I used.

But I remember chiefly Abinger, whose manner was
rude and unkind to a degree. This is sixty years ago !
But can a man blot out memory ? If he would try to
forget, the effort itself would make him remember.
I was arguing away in fine style, having recovered
from that nervous sensation which kills many a good
advocate, and thought I was doing pretty well. I was
persistently pressed upon this point, and that, by first
one of my lords and then another ; but I as persistently


held on, perhaps a little too pertinaciously, when Lord
Abinger, with his white cambric to his eye, which
was painfully affected and probably accounted for his
temper, put to me a string of questions in this form :

' What would you say, sir, if so and so were the
case' a set of supposititious facts of the most em-
barrassing character, and of the relevancy of which
I had not the slightest conception ' what would you
say, sir, if so and so, and if such and such, and this
and that, were the case ?'

He was trying to ensnare me, so, to avoid the
entanglement I answered, rather boldly, I dare say :

' My lord, I should say that that case was not
this case.'

Abinger started back like a broken bow, and
snappishly said :

' I did not say it was, young man. Go on.'

And on I went until, very shortly after, the whole
four Barons mercilessly set upon me, and mercifully
put me out of my misery. That was my first attempt
at 'sticking up to the court in bane.' You must
have a very strong case if you succeed ; and if your
case is strong, you will not require, or did not in those
days require, much argument to make them see it.

Not long after, Abinger came my circuit. This
was the last we saw of him, for he died at Bury
St. Edmunds, and was succeeded by a man who was
at all points a scholar, a lawyer, and a gentleman,
who would, and who could, never behave discour-
teously to anyone who approached him. His court
was the most agreeable of any I ever practised in.
He was Sir Frederick Pollock.

The other incident I refer to was before Gurney (J.),


a man the very opposite of his son, Russell Gurney,
late Recorder of London, and the best criminal Judge,
I think, of my time. He was, moreover, all kindness
and courtesy, without lacking firmness and resolute
impartiality. 'I not only/ said he, 'wish to believe

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