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

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of a grateful heart, but said it was of no use no use
whatever; that instead of 1,250 he had other bills
coming in, and unless they could all be met he might
just as well let the others go.

' How much do you really want to quite clear you V



I asked, with a simplicity which astonishes me to this

' Well,' he said, ' nothing is of the least use under

I was a little staggered, but, pitying his distress
of mind, went once more to my bankers' and made the
further necessary arrangements. I borrowed the whole
amount at five per cent., and placed it to the credit of
this brilliant Queen's Counsel.

The only terms I made with him on this new con-
dition of things was that he should, out of his incoming
fees, pay my clerk 500 a quarter until the whole sum
was liquidated. This he might easily have done, and
this he arranged to do, but the next day he pledged
the whole of his prospective income to a Jew, incurred
fresh liabilities, and left me without a shadow of a
chance of ever seeing a penny of my money again, and
I need not say every farthing was lost, principal and
interest. I say interest, because it cost me five per
cent, till the amount was paid.

His end was as romantic as his life, but it is best
told in the words of my dear old friend Charley
Colman, who never spares colour when it is necessary,
and in that respect is an artist who resembles Nature.
Thus he writes :

' What a coward at heart was ! He allowed

himself to be sat upon and crushed without raising
a hand or voice in his defence of himself. When
he returned from America he accepted a seat in

office in the office of the man who urged Lord

to prosecute him.

' After your gift to him a noble gift of 3,000 he
called at my chambers, spoke in high terms of your


generosity, and wished all the world to know it, so
elated was he. I was to publish it far and wide. He
went away. In half an hour he returned, and begged
me to keep the affair secret. " Too late," said T.
" Several gentlemen have been here, and to them I
mentioned the matter, and begged them to spread it
far and wide." His heart failed him when he thought
he would be talked about.

' He was a kind-hearted fellow at times generous
to a fault, always most abstemious ; but he had a
tongue, and one he did not try to control. He used
to say stinging things of people, knowing them to be

' What a life ! What a terrible fate was his t
Turned out of Parliament ; made to resign his
Benchership ; his gown taken from him by the
Benchers ; driven to America by his creditors to get
his living ; not allowed to practise in the Supreme
Court in America. At forty-five years of age his life
had foundered. He returns to England for what?
Simply to find his recklessness had blasted his life, and
then ?

1 Sometimes, in spite of all, I feel a moisture in my
eye when I think of him. Had he been true to him-
self, what a brilliant life was open to him ! What a
practice he had ! Up to the last he told me that he
turned 14,000 a year. He worked hard, very hard,

and his gains went to or to chicken hazard!

Poor fellow !'



I WAS retained at Hertford Assizes with Peter
Ryland, a practising barrister on that circuit, as my
leader, to prosecute a man for perjury, which was
alleged to have been committed in an action in which
a cantankerous man, who had once filled the office
of High Sheriff for the county, was the prosecutor.
Wealthy and disagreeable, he was nevertheless a hen-
pecked tyrant.

Mrs. Brown, his wife, was a witness for the prose-
cution in the alleged perjury, which was unfortunate
for her husband, because she had the greatest know-
ledge of the circumstances surrounding the case ; while
Mr. Brown had the best knowledge of the probable
quality of his wife's evidence.

When we were in consultation and considering the
nature of this evidence, and arranging the best mode of
presenting our case to the jury, Brown interposed, and
begged that Mr. Ryland should call Mrs. Brown as the
last witness. He said it was all-important she should
come last. ' It is Mrs. Brown's wish,' he pleaded.

' But,' says Ryland, ' Mrs. Brown ought to be
called first. It is all-important in my view that she


should be called in that order, which you must see is
the natural order Mrs. Brown first, the rest any-
where' (or, perhaps, better nowhere, thought Brown,
if Mrs. Brown is to be believed).

' You'll find the other way best,' says Brown.

But Byland positively refused to proceed in any
other than the proper course, which was to call the
lady first instead of last.

As I left Ryland, Brown came up to me, thinking
me, probably, more amenable to reason, and in the
most beseeching manner begged me to press upon
Ryland the course he, Brown, had suggested. I
assured him that Mr. Byland would do what was best
and most prudent; at the same time saying that,
if he could give me any good reason for calling Mrs.
Brown last, I was sure he would do so if he agreed
with it. Whereupon said Brown :

' Well, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Byland did not seem to
think very well of my case on the evidence, so I have
come to the conclusion that Mrs. Brown ought to be
the last witness, because, if anything goes wrong during
the trial or anything is wanting, Mrs. Brown will be
quite ready to mop it all up.'

This in a prosecution for perjury was one of the
boldest propositions I had ever heard.

I need not say ' good Mrs. Brown was called, as she
ought to have been, first.' The lady's mop was not in
requisition at that stage of the trial, and the jury
decided against her.

I was sometimes in the Divorce Court, and dear old
Jack Holker was generally my opponent. He was
called 'Long Odds.' In one particular case I won
some eclat. It is not related on that account, however,


but simply in consequence of its remarkable incidents.
No case is interesting unless it is outside the ordinary
stock-in-trade of the Law Courts, and I think this was.

The details are not worth telling, and I therefore
pass them by. Cresswell was the President, and the
future President, Hannen, my junior.

We won a great victory through the remarkable
overconfidence and indiscretion of Edwin James, Q.C.,
who opposed us. James's client was the husband of
the deceased. By her will the lady had left him the
whole of her property, amounting to nearly 100,000.
The case we set up was that the wife had been
improperly influenced by her husband in making it,
and that her mind was coerced into doing what she did
not intend to do, and so we sought to set aside the
will on that ground.

I am stating the matter in this somewhat round-
about fashion because all readers of these reminiscences
will not be lawyers.

Edwin James had proved a very strong case on
behalf of the validity of the will. He had called the
attesting witnesses, and they, respectable gentlemen
as they undoubtedly were, had proved all that was
necessary namely, that the testator, notwithstanding
that she was in a feeble condition and almost at the
last stage, was perfectly calm and capable in mind and
understanding exactly, in fact, as a testator ought to
be who wills her property to her husband if he retains
her affection.

The witnesses had been cross-examined by me, and
nothing had been elicited that cast the least doubt
upon their character or credibility. Had the matter
been left where it was, the 100,000 would have been


secured. But James, whatever may have been his
brilliance, was wanting in tact. He would not leave
well alone, but resolved to call the Rev. Mr. Faker, a
distinguished Dissenting minister.

In fiction this gentleman would have appeared in the
melodramatic guise of a spangled tunic, sugar-loaf hat,
with party-coloured ribands, purple or green breeches,
and motley hose ; but in the witness-box he was in
clerical uniform, a long coat and white cravat, with
corresponding long face and hair, especially at the
back of his head. A soberer style of a stage bandit

/ O

was never seen. He was just the man for cross-
examination, I saw at a glance a fancy witness, and,
I believe, a Welshman. As he was a Christian warrior,
I had to find out the weak places in his armour. But
little he knew of courts of law and the penetrating art
of cross-examination, which could make a hole in
the triple-plated coat of fraud, hypocrisy, and cunning.
I was in no such panoply. I fought only with my
little pebble- stone and sling, but took good aim, and
then the missile flew with well-directed speed.

I had to draw a bow at a venture at first, because,
happily, there were no instructions how to cross-
examine. Not that I should have followed them
if there had been ! But I might have got a fact or
two from them.

It is well known that artifice is the resource of
cunning, whether it acts on the principle of concealing
truth or boldly asserting falsehood. Here the reverend
strategist did both : he knew how a little truth could
deceive. You must remember that at this point of
the case, when the Rev. Faker was called, there was
nothing to cross-examine about. I knew nothing of


the parties, the witnesses, the solicitors, or anyone
except my learned friends. It would not have been
discreditable to my advocacy if I had submitted to a
verdict. I will, therefore, give the points of the
questions which elicited the truth from the Christian
warrior ; and probably the non-legal reader of these
memoirs may be interested in seeing what may some-
times be done by a few judicious questions.

1 Mr. Faker,' I said.

' Sir,' says Faker.

' You have told us you acted as the adviser of
the testatrix.'

'Yes, sir.'

' Spiritual adviser, of course ?'

A spiritual bow.

' You advised the deceased lady, probably, as to her
duties as a dying woman ?'


' Duty to her husband was that one ?'

A slight hesitation in Mr. Faker revealed the vast
amount of fraud of which he was capable. It was the
smallest peephole, but I saw a good way. Till then
there was nothing to cross-examine about, but after
that hesitation there was 100,000 worth ! He had
betrayed himself. At last Faker said :

' Yes, Mr. Hawkins yes, sir : her duty to her

' In the way of providing for him ?' was my next

' Oh, yes ; quite so.'

' You were careful, of course, as you told your learned
counsel, to avoid any undue influence ?'

' Certainly.'


' The will was not completed, I think, when you first
saw the dying woman on the day, I mean, of her
death ?'

' No ; not at that time.'

' Was it kept in a little bag by the pillow of the
dying woman, who retained the keys of the bag

' Oh yes ; that is quite right.'

' Had it been executed at this time ? I think you
said not ?'

' Not at this time ; it had to be revised.'

' How did you obtain possession of the keys ?'

' I obtained them.'

' Yes, I know ; but without her knowledge ?'

It was awkward for Faker, but he had to confess
that he was not sure. Then he frankly admitted that
the will was taken out of the bag in the lady's
presence, of course, but whether she was quite dead
or almost alive was uncertain ; and then he and the
husband spiritually conferred as to what the real
intention of the dying woman in the circumstances was
likely to be, and having ascertained that, they made
another will, which they called ' settling the former
one' by carrying out the lady's intentions, the lady
being now dead to all intentions whatsoever.

This was the will which was offered for probate !

Cresswell thought it was a curious state of affairs,
and listened with much interest to the further cross-
examination :

' Had you ever seen any other will ?' I inquired.
It was quite an accidental question, as one would put
in a desultory sort of conversation with a friend.

' Er yes I have,' said Faker.


' What was that ?'

'Well, it was a will, to tell you the truth, Mr. Hawkins,
executed in my favour for 5,000.'

' Where is it ?'

' I have not the original,' said the minister, ' but
I have a copy of it.'

' Copy ! but where is the original ?'

' Original ?' repeats Faker.

' Yes, the original ; there must have been an original
if you have a copy.'

' Oh,' said the Rev. Faker, ' I remember, the original
was destroyed after the testatrix's death.'


' Burnt !'

Even the very grave Hannen, my ever-respected
friend and junior, smiled ; Cresswell, never prone to
smile at villainy, smiled also.

' The original burnt ! and only a copy produced !
What do you mean, sir ?'

The situation was dramatic.

' Is it not strange ?' I asked, ' even in your view
of things, that the original will should be burnt and
the copy preserved ?'

' Yes,' answered the reverend gentleman ; ' perhaps
it would have been better '

' To have burnt the copy and given us the original,
and more especially after the lady was dead ! But,
let me ask you, why did you destroy the original

I pressed him again and again, but he could not
answer. The reason was plain. His ingenuity was
exhausted, and so I gave him the finishing stroke with
this question :


' Will you swear, sir, that an original will ever
existed ?'

The answer was, ' No !'

I knew it must be the answer ; because there could
be no other that would not betray him.

' What is your explanation ?' asked Cresswell.

' My explanation, my lord, is that the testatrix had
often expressed to me her intention to leave me 5,000,
and I wrote the codicil which was destroyed to carry
out her wishes.'

Cresswell had warned James early in the case as to
the futility of calling witnesses after the two who alone
were necessary, but to no purpose ; he hurried his
client to destruction, and I have never been able to
understand his conduct. The most that can be said
for him is that he did not suspect any danger, and
took no trouble to avoid incurring it.

It is curious enough that on the morning of the trial
we had tried to compromise the matter by offering

The refusal of the offer shows how little they thought
that any cross-examination could injure their cause.

Hannen said he could not have believed a cross-
examination could be conducted in that manner without
any knowledge of the facts, and paid me the compli-
ment of saying it was worth at the least 80,000.



TATTERSALL'S, in my time, was one of the pleasantest
Sunday afternoon lounges in London. There was a
spirit of freedom and social equality pervading the
place which only belongs to assemblies where sport is
the principal object and pleasure of all. There was
also the absence of irksome workaday drudgery ; I
think that was, after all, the main cause of its being
so delightful a meeting-place to me.

There was, however, another attraction, and that
was dear old Baron Martin, one of the most
pleasant companions you could meet, no matter
whether in the Court of Exchequer or the ' old King.'
A keen sportsman he was, and a shrewd, common-
sense lawyer so great a lover of the turf that it is told
of him, and I know it to be true, that once in court
a man was pointed out to him bowing with great
reverence, and repeating it over and over again until
he caught the Baron's attention. The Judge, with
one pair of spectacles on his forehead and another
on his eyes, immediately cried aloud to his marshal,
' Custance, the jockey, as I'm alive !' and then the


Baron bowed most politely to the man in the crowd,
the most famous jockey of his day.

Speaking of Tattersall's reminds me of many things,
amongst them of the way in which, happily, I came to
the resolution never to bet on a horse-race. It was
here I learnt the lesson, at a place where generally
people learn the opposite, and never forgot it. No
sermon would ever have taught me so much as I
learnt there.

Like my oldest and one of my dearest friends on the
turf, Lord Falmouth, I never made a bet after the
time I speak of. No one who lives in the world
needs any description of the Tattersall's of to-day.
But the Tattersall's of my earlier days was not exactly
the same thing, although the differences would not
be recognisable to persons who have not overkeen

The institution has perhaps known more great men
than Parliament itself not so many bishops, perhaps,
as the Church, but more statesmen than could get
into the House of Lords ; and all the biographies that
have ever been written could not furnish more illus-
trations of the ups and downs of life, especially the
downs, nor of more illustrious men.

Here the great and the small mingled on terms of
friendly intimacy and equality ; the wit met the fool
in joyous rivalry, and the rich met the poor in the
same spirit of friendly emulation. Country squire and
Cockney sportsmen talked of the merits of the Flying
Dutchman or Voltigeur, Surplice or the losing favourite
in the famous Hermit's year the last year, if I
remember rightly, of the old Tattersall establishment.

The names of all the great and mediocre people who


visited the famous rendezvous would fill a respectable
Court guide, and the money transactions that have
taken place would pay off the National Debt. All this
is a pleasant outcome of the national character.

Do not suppose that Judges, other than dear old
Sam,* never looked in, for they did, and so did learned
and illustrious Queen's Counsel and Serjeants-at-Law,
authors, editors, actors, statesmen, and, to sum it
up in brief, all the real men of the day of all pro-
fessions and degrees of social position.

At first my visits were infrequent ; afterwards I
went more often, and then became a regular attendant.
I loved the ' old Ring,' and yet could never explain
why. I think it was the variety of human character
that charmed me. I was doing very little at the Bar,
and was, no doubt, desirous to make as many acquaint-
ances as possible, and to see as much of the world as
I could. It is a long way back in my career, but I go
over the course with no regrets and with every feeling
of delight. Everything seems to have been enjoyable
in those far-off days, although I was in a constant state
of uncertainty with regard to my career. There were
three principal places of pleasure at that time : one
was Tattersall's, one Newmarket, and the Courts of
Law a third.

There used to be, in the centre of the yard or court
at Tattersall's, a significant representation of an old
fox, and I often wondered whether it was set up as a
warning, or merely by way of ornamentation, or the
symbol of sport. It might have been to tell you to be
wary and on the alert. But whatever the original
design of this statue to reynard, the old fox read me a
* Martin.


solemn lesson, and seemed to be always saying, ' Take
care, Harry ; be on your guard. There are many
prowlers everywhere.' And when the fox meditates in
that way, you may be sure the hounds are not far off.
He was a wonderful fox, and full of good advice to all
who could understand his meaning, which I thought
I did. He acted upon me, I candidly confess, as a
monitor, be his mission what it might, so that I grew
intimate with him as well as conversational, and when-
ever I entered the place our eyes met.

But there was another monitor in constant attend-
ance whose language I better understood, and who
was deservedly respected by all who had the pleasure
of his acquaintance that is to say, by all who visited
Tattersall's more than once. He was not in the least
emblematic like the old fox, but a man of sound
sense with no poetry, of an extremely good nature, and
full of anecdote. You might follow his advice, and it
would be well with you ; or you might follow your
opinion in opposition to his and take your chance.
His name was Hill Harry Hill they familiarly called
him, and although you might have many a grander
acquaintance, you could never meet a truer friend.

He was an old and much-respected friend of Baron
Martin, and that says a great deal for the monitor;
for if anybody in the world could understand a man,
it was Baron Martin. Whether it was the Prime
Minister or the unhappy thief in the dock, he knew all
classes and all degrees of criminality. The dear old
Baron was not poetical with regard to landscapes, for
if one were pointed out to him by some proprietor of
a lordly estate, he would say, ' Yes, a vera fine place
indeed ; and I would have the winning-post there /'

VOL. i. 1


Those who can go back to the days of Harry Hill
but I fear there are few will know that my eulogy
is not undeserved, and his cheery face and genuine
pleasant manner will never fade from the memory of
those who * love life and see many days.'

Harry had his wits about him, as most sportsmen
have, and those who could ' take him in ' would break
a respectable record in the art of cunning, even if we
included an antiquated gentleman whose name is
never mentioned in the polite society where a spade is
never called by that name, but, as Bishop Magee said,

a shovel. However, if a man has his wits about

him, you may back him against the field of mediocrities.

I once saw the Baron in quiet conversation with
my renowned friend, old Harry Hill, and felt that
strange sensation which invariably comes over us when
we think we are being talked about. I knew, how-
ever, to my consolation, that it was in no unfriendly
way. The Baron knew me, as I afterwards discovered,
although I had never up to this time been introduced
to him, except in court. I had conducted several
cases before him, but as to his opinion of my ability I
knew absolutely nothing. He was kind to all juniors,
and sympathetic, but beyond that his mind and opinion
were a blank. I afterwards discovered it.

The old fox and Harry Hill ! The two characters
at Tattersall's in those days can never be forgotten,
and so I have been tempted to linger over them longer
than I should probably from a merely literary point of

It may seem strange in these more enlightened days
that at that time I was under the impression that no
one could make a bet unless he had the means of pay-


ing if he lost. This statement will provoke a smile,
but it is true. The consequence was that I was de-
barred from speculating where I thought I had a most
excellent chance of winning, having been brought up
to believe that the world was almost destitute of
fraud a strange and almost unaccountable idea which
only time and experience proved to be erroneous.
Judge of the vast unexplored field of discovery that
lay before me ! Harry Hill was better informed. He
had lived longer, and had been brought in contact
with the cleverest men of the age. He knew at a
glance the adventurous fool who staked his last chance
when the odds were a hundred to one, and also the
man of honour who staked his life on his honesty
and sometimes lost, alas !

There were 'blacklegs' in those days who looked
out for such honest gentlemen, and won scoundrels
who degrade sport, and trade successfully on the
reputations of men of honour. You cannot cope with
these ; honesty cannot compete with fraud either in
sport or trade.

It was a very brief Sunday sermon which Harry
preached to me this afternoon, but it was an effective
one, and out of the abundance of his good nature
he gave me these well-remembered words of friendly
warning :

' Mr. Hawkins, I see you come here pretty regularly
on Sunday afternoons, but I advise you not to specu-
late amongst us, for if you do we shall beat you. We
know our business better than you do, and you'll get
nothing out of us any more than we should get out
of you if we were to dabble in your law, for you know
that business better than we do.'



This disinterested advice I took to heart, and
treated it as a warning. I thanked Mr. Hill, promised
to take advantage of his kindness, and kept my word
during the whole period that Tattersall's remained in
the old locality, which it did for a considerable period.

The establishment at this time was at Hyde Park
Corner, and had been rented from Lord Grosvenor
since 1766. It was used for the purpose of selling
thoroughbreds and other horses of a first-rate order

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