William Page Wood Hatherley.

A memoir of the Right Hon. William Page Wood, baron Hatherley online

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stand. And there were certain marked features in

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272 MEMOIR. 1868—

his character which no one who often associated
with him, however young, could help observing ;:
especially his feminine delicacy of feeling and
tenderness of heart, his detestation of untruthful-
ness in every form and degree, of vanity, and
affectation apid self-conceit. Directly or indirectly,,
he would always strive to impress upon a youthful
mind the great duty of being industrious, and of
doing all work as thoroughly as possible, the great
advantages and happiness of independence, the
injustice and wickedness of imputing evil motives
to the actions of others.

His exceeding trustfulness, indeed, in human
nature, and his extreme reluctance to suspect evil
of any one, was most remarkable and touching in
one who, as a lawyer and a man of the world, was
of course often compelled to come in contact with
the baser elements in men. But he had that
Christian charity which, ever bearing in mind the
image in which man was originally made, and
loving the Divine Master through whom the lost
image can be re-created, ' believes all things, hopes
all things, endures all things.' And, in proportion
to his unwillingness to suspect evil, was his
distress at the discovery of it in any one whom
he loved, or in whom he had reposed confidence.
The shock of such disclosures seemed for a time to
shake his whole being, and nothing ever seriously
disordered his health but grief of this kind. Yet

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repeated experience of these trials, and repeated
abuses by others of his generosity, never hardened
him, never wore out his patience, or made him
slacken his efforts to reclaim the wrong doer, and
give him another opportunity of regaining a lost
position or a lost character.

It would be impossible to ascertain, or form any
estimate of, the amount of money which he must
have given away in the course of his life, and
certainly he would not have Uked his gifts to be
enumerated. It may suffice to say here, that
besides the many public institutions to which he
was a large contributor, and the local charities in
Westminster, more especially the Free Library
which he was instrumental in founding, the schools,
the hospital, and the refuge, to most of which he
doubled all his subscriptions when he became Lord
Chancellor, his private gifts to needy and strug-
gUng individuals were so numerous that it is im-
possible to form any probable calculation even of
their amount.

Some of the characteristics which have been just
mentioned, were noticed in a leading article in the
' Times,' written when his resignation of the office of
Lord Chancellor was imminent ; and I quote from it
here chiefly to show that the judgment of a private
individual, and a relative, is not at variance, to say
the least, with the testimony of pubUc opinion.
After criticising some of the defects in the Lord

Vol. II. T

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Chancellor's proposals for reform of the judicature,
and pointing out that they were partly due to his
desire to ' deal tenderly with the* feeUngs of the
law lords,' the article proceeds : ' Amid all the
defects we are compelled to note, there shines a
character of singular sweetness, simplicity, and
dignity. Pure from all suspicion of self-seeking,
the Lord Chancellor has ever shown himself ready
to beUeve in the candour, the frankness, and the
disinterestedness of others ; and if ever a touch of
resentment lent warmth to his tone in addressing
his peers, it has been because the sincerity of the
motives of his friends has been assailed, or because
he has been shocked by double-dealing on the part
of others. It is this absolute purity of character
which led to a judgment pronounced on his speech
on the second reading of the Irish Church Bill,
when it was said that though its reasoning was
cogent and strong, and its eloquence well sustained,
the predominant impression it left on the minds of
men who had pursued the debate from the begin-
ning, and had thus heard peers and prelates of the
highest and best deserved oratorical reputation,
was that it was the speech of a perfect gentleman
* sans peur, et sans reproche/

On the Sunday after his death. Canon Parrar
preached a beautiful and eloquent sermon in St.
Margaret's Church in reference to him, boldly taking
for his text the words in Acts xi. 24, ' For he was a

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good man.' ' Of many men,' he said, ' nay, of most
men, I should hesitate to use without modification
the text which I have chosen to-day. A man's good-
ness may have been unknown to the world, or it
may have been mixed with large alloy ; and if we
speak of it without explanation we run the risk of
being unreal, of encouraging a lax standard, of
holding up a mistaken estimate. We may say of
many from our hearts, "He was a great man, he
^vas courageous, he was a patriot, he had a gene-
rous nature, he had many virtues ; " but to say of a
man outright he was a good man, is praise so high
that it is not often that any one would dare to use
it in the pulpit. Nevertheless I do use it fearlessly

Now, certainly, no one can deny that this text,
'which is also placed underneath the window
-erected to Lord Hatherley's memory in St. Mar-
garet's Church, was justifiably applied to him. Yet
it will be borne in mind by the readers of these
pages that no one ever deprecated or shrank from
.such unquahfied praise more than he did, and few
men have bestowed upon themselves more abun-
dant accusation and reproach. This circumstance,
however, will not shake our conviction that he was,
allowing for necessary human imperfection, an
eminently good man. On the contrary, a really
good man is necessarily a very humble one, because
he measures himself not by a worldly but by a

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Divine standard, and is consequently filled with a
sense of his shortcomings. There is a passage in a
Sermon of Dr. Newman's on ' Secret Faults ' which
enlarges upon this truth in the most beautiful and
admirable manner. ' No one,' he says, ' begins
to examine himself, and to pray to know himself
(Uke David in the text ^), but he finds within hina
an abundance of faults which before were either
entirely, or almost entirely, unknown to him. That
this is so we learn from the written hves of good
men, and our own experience of others. And hence
it is that the best men are also the most humble r
for having a higher standard of excellence in their
minds than others have, and knowing themselves
better, they see somewhat of the breadth and depth
of their own sinful nature, and are shocked and
frightened at themselves. The generahty of men
cannot understand this : and if at times the habitual-
self-condemnation of religious men breaks out into-
words, they think it arises from afiectation, or from a
strange distempered state of mind, or from acci-
dental melancholy and disquiet. Whereas the con-
iession of a good man against himself is really a
witness against all thoughtless persons who hear it^
and a call on them to examine their own heart.
Doubtless the more we examine ourselves the more
imperfect and ignorant we shall find ourselves to be.'

^ Psalm xix. 12. * Who can understand his errors ? Cleanse Thou
me from secret faults.'

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A few words may be said, in conclusion, on
some little details of character, habits of life, and
personal appearance which have not been noticed
in the preceding pages. Lord Hatherley possessed
the valuable faculty of so completely abstracting
his mind from surrounding objects, and concen-
trating it upon the work before him, that he
could read or write upon any subject, in the midst
of talking or any other kind of noise, without being
in the least distracted, nor could his attention be
diverted unless he was touched, or called upon
by name, in a loud voice, and generally several
times over. He had an intense love for the beauties
of nature, and for many forms of animal life. His
eagerness to catch sight of any curious bird or of
squirrels, for which he had an extraordinary ad-
miration, was a subject of much amusement some-
times to his friends. He had great difficulty, owing
to his bad eyes, in seeing rapidly moving creatures
of this kind, and his delight when he succeeded was
proportionally great. Partly also, no doubt on ac-
count of his defective sight, he never excelled as a
youth in active sports, although his physical strength
was good ; but he was always a rapid and vigorous
walker, and a first-rate swimmer, and continued the
practice of bathing in the sea almost to his old age.
His health was excellent ; for, although he sufiered
almost daily from a pecuhar kind of indigestion, he
was never disabled by illness from keeping any of

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278 • MEMOIR.

his professional engagements. He had also remark-
able power of abstinence from food. He ate a very-
light breakfast, and his luncheon consisted of two
or three small biscuits and a glass of water ; yet
upon this scanty fare he was capable of working
hard all day, and though he ate a hearty dinner
he did not care to how late an hour it was

Before he made his speech on the second
reading of the Irish Church Bill he had been sitting
judicially in the House from ten to four o'clock, and
after taking a Uttle tea and bread and butter he
resumed his seat at five. About half-past nine
Mr. Gordon Whitbread, going to the back of the
woolsack, besought him to retire for a brief interval
and have some more tea, which was ready for him
in his room ; but the Bishop of Lichfield was
speaking, and he did not think it would be respect-
ful to leave the House until he had finished or
nearly finished. He was then persuaded to retire
and rest for a few minutes. The debate was un-
expectedly prolonged by the speech of Lord West-
bury, who had written in the morning to say that
he was too unwell to attend the House. Lord!
Hatherley spoke after him, and was followed by
Lord Cairns, and did not get home to dinner till
past three o'clock in the morning. Nevertheless he
was down to breakfast at nine o'clock, and this was
the first occasion on which he ever missed attending:

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the early service at the Abbey on account of a late
sitting, either at the House of Commons, or the
House of Lords. He was in fact excessively tena-
cious of all habits and customs which he had once
adopted ; and he must have been nearly, if not
quite, the last man in England who wore a blue
tail coat and metal buttons, which he continued to
do, I think, down to the year 1852, or about the
time when he became a judge.

He had a handsome face, which in old age was
well set off by his snow-white hair ; his features
were regular and rather small, although his head
was of the most uncommon size. His hat would
cover the whole head and face of most men,
even those whose heads were rather above than
under the ordinary size. His bright and beaming
countenance expressed the warmth and benignity
of his nature, though his very deep-set eyes, and a
habit of knitting his brow when reading or listen-
ing intently, especially to an argument in court,
occasioned at times a seeming aspect of sternness ;
but he could also look really and almost terribly
stern when his indignation was excited by hearing
of some deed of injustice, or cruelty, or deceit.
Of the portraits which are prefixed to the two
volumes of this Memoir, the first, taken from a
chalk head by Mr. Eichmond, represents Lord
Hatherley's happiest and most serene expression as
he appeared in private Ufe ; the second, taken from

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a photograph, is a good spedmen of his aspect on
the judicial bench.

I have reserved, as a fitting termination to this
Memoir, some remarks which the present Lord
Chancellor has been so kind as to write, at my
request, on the character of Lord Hatherley as a
man and a judge. And, last of all, I have placed
some verses composed about him by the late Dean
of Westminster, the exact occasion of which I have
unfortunately not been able to discover ; but it was
something of this kind. There had been a paro-
chial meeting in St. John's schoolroom, and in some
speech which Lord Hatherley had to make there,
he introduced the proverb ' a rolling stone gathers
no moss,' in a way which captivated the Dean's
fancy, and started the idea which he has worked
out in the poem. Probably Lord Hatherley had
referred to his long residence in Westminster as a
source of great happiness and advantage to
himself, as leading to many warm friendships, and
surrounding him with all manner of kindly and
tender associations and reminiscences, which cannot
be enjoyed by the restless spirit which roves from
place to place, * the rolling stone ' which ' gathers
no moss.'

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From the Right Honourable the Earl of Selborne,
Lord High Chancellor of England.

'K I were asked what qualities of Lord
Hatherley distinguished him most from other good
and able men whom I have known, I think I
should mention his simplicity, straightforwardness,
and entire freedom from all forms of pride. He
was a resolute and courageous man ; strong in his
convictions, and never flinching from them ; quick
of apprehension, and clear in judgment. But he
was also patient and candid, gentle and courteous.
There was nothing affected or artificial about him ;
he uever appeared to be thinking about himself,
or pursuing any selfish ends ; he had no egotism,
or vanity, or arrogance. He never cared for
display. Modesty, and consideration for others
were, in him, not the result of a shy or hesitating
disposition, but of habitual self-control. He was
an essentially generous man; never jealous, or
envious ; charitable in spirit as well as in act ;
always ready to give help and counsel to those who
sought it from him.

' As a judge, his merits and defects were alike
traceable to these quahties in his character. His
patience and courtesy led him to listen attentively
to the arguments on both sides, without incon-

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venient interruptions. His candour and con-
sideration for the advocates and their clients led
him to deal, in his judgments, with the various
points taken in argument, sometimes more fully
than was necessary for the purposes of the imme-
diate question. His quickness of understanding,
and sound and ready knowledge of law, enabled
him to dispose of most of the cases brought before-
him without delay ; and his unambitious tempera-
ment made him, perhaps, too negligent about the
form of his judgments, which were (generally) not
committed to writing. They were, from these
causes, often discursive, and wanting in concise-
ness; but they were almost always sound and
accurate ; and the parties concerned seldom left
his court without feeling that everything which
they had to say had been properly considered.
There were few appeals from his decisions, and
most of those appealed from were confirmed.'

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By A. P. Stanley, Becm of Westminster,


' A rolling stone gathers no moss.'

I travell'd down the vale of years,
The path of mingled smiles and tears ;
For shelter from the rude wind's shock
I sate beside a tall grey rock.
Long had it stood, from year to year,
Unchanged, whilst all was changing near.
Thro' summer dews, thro' winter snows.
Still deepening in its calm repose ;
The storms that from the mountain roar'd.
The floods that through the valley pour'd,
Fix'd yet more firm its ancient place.
Gave brighter hues and fresher grace ;
Beneath its base the wild flowers sprung.
The feathery fern around it hung ;
Its head the hoary lichen crown'd.
Its sides the mantling ivy bound ;
The spreading shrub, the towering tree.
That flung their branches far and free.
And scatter'd wide their flower and fruit.
Deep in its heart of heart struck root,

So in life's wanderings have I seen
A good old age so richly green.
Around whose form, beneath whose feet
Bright children play, kind neighbours meet ;

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Within whose deep and open heart,
From each soft place and tender part
Sweet thoughts their fragrant odour shoot,
Good deeds their firmest fibres root.

Not so the restless stones that leap
From stream to stream, from steep to steep.
Smooth, slippery, solid as they glide.
But harder than the hard wayside.
Along whose bright and burnish'd mass
Can creep no blade of living grass.
Within whose stark, unyielding breast
No seed or blossom finds its rest ;
But from the stem intruder shrinks.
To calmer nooks and humbler chinks.


No ! let some cold congenial fate

Plant in the marbled halls of state

The rolling stone that, day by day

Continuing in no constant stay.

Spurns without heed or sense of loss

The softening touch of kindly moss.

Give me the Eock that stands unmoved,

By long familiar contact proved,

* The good grey head which all men know.

The tower that stands four square to all the winds

that blow,'
The hand across whose steadfast grasp
The thousand tendrils of a home can clasp ;
The heart that gathers sure and fast
The flowers of times to come, the lichens of the


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Note, — The following verses are selections from the-
poems which Lord Hatherley composed on various occa-
sions, and from the sonnets which h(3 regularly wrote
every year on January 5 and September 12, being the
anniversaries of his marriage and of his wife's birth.

Mabch 1833.

How calmly on thy coffin'd couch thou sleepest,
Dear babe, in this thy last and mortal slumber !

How still thy fragile form ! no more thou weepest,
Earth's fetters now no more thy soul endumber.

Short was the death-throe, for thine unstain'd spirit
Disarm'd Death of his sting — disown'd his terror ;

Tho' sprung of Adam, thou didst but inherit
His sinful frame, and not his guilty error.

Perhaps e'en now thy Sabbath light is dawning.
And heralds in the everlasting morrow ;

Around thee breaks the bright, tho' sunless morning.
And dissipates the mists of earthly sorrow.
^ A brother of the Editor, who died in infancy.

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Already standest thou at Heaven's portal,

Already hearest the seraphic choir,
Thy guiding Angel swells the strain immortal.

Nor stops his onward flight, still soaring higher ;

Onward to Him, the light of thy salvation,
Who in His everlasting arms upbore thee ;

What time the waters of regeneration

With faith and tearful prayer were sprinkled o'er thee.

And now the veil of flesh is torn asunder.
The filmy cloud of sense before thee driven ;

And thou beholdest in ecstatic wonder

The glory, power — ah ! more ! the love of Heaven.

Yet not unknown on earth love's sweet emotion ; —
Thine iniknt joy no sickening pain could smother.

When, gazing on her look of fond devotion,

Thou stretchedst forth thine arms to clasp thy mother.

Haply thou knowest how, tho' left behind thee.
She felt thou did'st but for a time forsake her.

And, fondly loving, cheerfully resign'd thee

To One who loved thee more — thy Heavenly Maker.

Thy father, too, tho' many a careworn feature

Break love's full tide in man, and check its flowing.

Would speak in accents gentle as his nature.

Till answering raptures in thine eyes were glowing.

But for a time they mourn thy loved caresses.
But for a time can death the faithful sever ;

He who once bless'd in joy, in sorrow blesses.
And when ye meet again shall bless for ever.

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January 5, 1838.

Dear Wife ! when last we hail'd our wedding-mom
The earth lay sleeping in her snowy vest,

No sound of life upon the breeze was borne.
The birds lay hush'd in winter's deepest rest.

But see ! he hath relax'd his iron grasp,^

The ploughman whistles o'er his furrow'd way.

The primroses their folded buds unclasp,

The lark and thrush pour forth their roundelay.

True love no season knows — the varied years
May teU of winter's cold or summer's heat ;

And such our wayward thoughts when hopes and fears
Alternate stirr'd the heart's responsive beat.

But love hath centred in one lasting thought
Our hearts unchanging, if with fervent pray'r

And faith and all-confiding hope besought.

Heaven's grace still nurture what it planted there.

Blest Lord ! who at the closing wedding-feast
In Cana bad'st the choicest wine to flow.

Grant us, in our declining years, the best
And richest treasures of Thy love to know !

* On January 6, 1838, the birds were singing, and the flowers
blossoming, as in Spring. On the same day, the year before, the
ground was deeply covered with snow.

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September 13, 1840.

Dear Wife ! how brightly shines this blessed mom.
As though again it rose upon thy birth ;
Nor in the sunny clime where thou wast bom *
Was ever shed abroad more radiant mirth.
See ! from the teeming bosom of the earth
Yon creaking waggon drags th' o'erhanging pile,
And yet the laughing gleaner fears no dearth ;
The orchard glades with golden promise smile.
So when the Angel reapers shall descend.
And, ere a curse hath scorch'd the barren ground.
Shall safely gather the Lord's harvest home.
Laden with fruits of grace, may we attend
His feast ! and, fearing not the trumpet's sound.
Say, * Amen, even so Lord Jesus come ! '

September 12, 1842.2

Charlotte ! yon ocean rock'd thine infant sleep.

Till the wide arms of this majestic stream

Upbore thee homeward ! did'st thou smile or weep ?

For I would know thy very childhood's dream —

Whether it were of India's golden gleam

That lit thy birth — or of the wailing cry

Of sea-birds, and the harshly creaking beam.

And winds that through the shrouds sigh'd mournfully ;

For love is of all time, and doth in one

The father's, brother's, husband's heart enfold ;

* India.

^ We came by steamer from Ipswich to London on this day.

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And with that heart I love thee, though this day
Remind me how thy circling years have run,
Yet love is of th' Eternal, nor grows old,
Nor fades, till time itself be past away !

Septembek 12, 1843.

Dear Wife ! the lengthening shadows round us fall.

And warn us that our noon of life is past,

Th' autumnal wind sighs heavily, a pall

Of tearful mist our sky hath overcast.

The Infant,* Youth,^ and hoary Eld,* how fast

They vanish'd as in dreams ! And we, bereft,

Now tremblingly await the wintry blast,

And count with careful eye our treasures left.

We shrink not from Thy judgments, gracious Ix)rd,

Wherewith Thou teachest us — for we are bom

To sorrow, as in sin — here, as above,

God's will be done ; 'tis Thy own gracious Word ;

And they who sleep in Thee await a mom

Of light and joy eternal as Thy love.

January, 1844.

Charlotte ! the air is genial and serene,
Tho' leafless be the woods, and the bright sun
Woos the coy violet from her bed of green,
Tho' his return be scarcely yet begun.

» C. M. S. « E. G. M. ' M. W.

Vol. n. U

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The robin carols boldly, 'neath the screen
Of yonder hedge chirps many a shyer bird ;
High overhead (the songster's self unseen),
The lark's shrill throbbing note of praise is heard
So fare it with our hearts ; 'tis winter now,
As men count seasons in our changing life,
And sadly fall the leaves around our home ;
Yet can God's Spirit calm our troubled brow,
And faith and hope be ours ; then, dearest Wife,
Sing we His praises, till His kingdom come.

September 12, 1844.

• Bealings.

Dear Wife ! how beautiful and still api)ears
Thy former home ! Yon dial on the green
With unmoved finger mocks the idle years,
That circle round, yet leave unchanged the scene ;
Save where the cedar rears its head serene
In slow majestic growth, or deeper shade
Marks how the saplings weave a spreading screen.
Yet show the uplands bright athwart the glade.
So may our love abide, unchanging still,
Save in its upward growth ; or spreading round
To friends and kindred, nor exclude the gleam

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Online LibraryWilliam Page Wood HatherleyA memoir of the Right Hon. William Page Wood, baron Hatherley → online text (page 17 of 20)