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The praise bestowed by the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews * upon two of the lives in these volumes, as originally published in the Law Magazine, has induced the Author to believe that a collection of Memoirs of Eminent Modern Judges would not be unacceptable to the profession and to the public generally.. The characters and fortunes of those great men who have added reverence to the judgment-scat during the last half century can scarcely fail to furnish topics of varied interest, and amusement. Commencing with the mighty master of common law, Sir Francis Buller, their history includes those eloquent holders of the Great Seal, Lords Loughborough and Erskine; the three admirable chiefs of the Queen's Bench, Lords Kenyon, Ellenborough, and Tenterden; those memorable Masters of the Rolls, Lord Alvanley and Sir William Grant; those scientific lawyers, the one in real property, the other in common law, Lord Redesdale and Sir Vicary Gibbs; and ends with the fortunate brothers — not more fortunate than deserving -Lords Stowell and Eldon.
In the biographies of these revered magistrates, whose contemporary course reflects light upon each other, and illustrates the legal annals of our times,
* Reviews of the Life of Lord Eldon by Twiss, and of Lord Stowell.
there are comprehended records of eloquent debate, and able statesmanship, and useful legislation; many bright passages of national history; reports of those eventful trials which move the feelings, and stir the blood; the struggles and triumphs of advocacy; the narrative of early disappointments and severe privations; of persevering diligence, determined fortitude, and unwearied hope; of the lucky chance and crowning victory; the clouded opening of their fortunes and its serene close; the mode and manner, so well worth studying, in which these intellectual prizemen, “ bankrupt of health and prodigal of ease,” achieved wealth, titles, and fame. We trace the gradual ascent of the surgeon's boy, and the barber's son, up the rugged steep, and rejoice over the course of the brothers Scott, working their way from the coal-fitter's yard at Newcastle, to the height of civil greatness — teaching the valuable lesson fraught with courage
and constàncy to the profession, that neither lowliness of birth, nor absence of fortune, nor delay of opportunity, is sufficient to crush or subdue the progressive and expanding force of talent and industry. But as the bold counsel,
" Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito,"
could be addressed with safety to the true mariner alone, it is the real lawyer only who should derive encouragement from these Memoirs and may afford to be sanguine.
In proportion, however, to the interest, is the peril of the task, the topics and persons discussed being comparatively modern. The fear of inflicting pain upon survivors by any indiscreet statement, an
anxious wish not to wound the sensitive feelings of relatives by any mistaken impression or unguarded criticism, the dangers of error, -have long deterred the Writer from a work which he would not even now have undertaken but for the sanction of those who are interested in the truth of his details. He has been studious to reconcile the most scrupulous sense of discretion and delicacy with a faithful and accurate likeness of each of the distinguished Personages, inherently too great to have their features distorted by flattery. The use of biography teaching by examples would be imperfect, and the portraiture of legal worthies as deceitful as that of the limner of royalty when required to paint without shade, were defects of temper cautiously suppressed, and all infirmities of character planed away. The Author feels too deep a reverence for the sanctity of the judicial character to be wilfully guilty of detraction. In the most excited times of party violence their order has been respected. When all that we hold most venerable and worthy of esteem was assailed with calumny, when the peers and prelates incurred groundless imputations, not a whisper was breathed against the mirror-like purity of the judicial character; upon its absolute integrity there did not rest even for a moment the gliding shadow of suspicion.
From a consideration of delicacy due to relatives, the biographer has in every instance where there were immediate descendants surviving, requested and obtained permission to publish these Memoirs. To the Earl of Eldon, to Lords Kenyon, Alvanley, Redesdale, and Tenterden, and to the Hon. Thomas Erskine, his