Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/Hyghest Court of Law in ye Kyngdom. Ye Lords Hearyng Appeals.

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 15.

Hyghest Court of Law in ye Kyngdom. Ye Lords Hearyng Appeals.


Hyghest Court of Law in ye Kyngdom. Ye Lords Hearyng Appeals.

[Thurſday, June 7th, 1849.]

UP, and to the Houſe of Lords, where a Committee of Privileges touching a diſputed Peerage, wherein I had no Concern, but did only go for a Sight of the Inſide of the Houſe, and well worth ſeeing indeed it was; and the Carving, and Gilding, and Blazoning, a rich Feaſt to the Eye. There preſent none but my Lord Brougham and my Lord Campbell, and three or four other Lords, which methought a poor Muſter, but a ſmaller do often ſerve for a Court of Appeal; for their Lordſhips do truſt all their Law Buſineſs to the Law-Lords' Hands. Counſel ſpeaking at the Bar of the Houſe, and the Clerks of the Houſe before them at the Table, all in their Wigs very (lately, but my Lords lolling on the Benches, free and eaſy, they only having the Right to make themſelves at Home, yet droll to fee the Officers of the Houſe forced to ſtand, but ſome of them leaning againſt the Stems of the gilt Candlelticks, faſt aſleep on their Legs. Did think I mould go to deep too, if I ſtayed much longer, and about to depart; but glad I did not; for preſently the Counvel made an End, and then my Lord Brougham examining a Witneſs was almoſt the beſt Sport that I ever had in my Life.—The Witneſs, one of the Attornies for the Claimant of the Title, and Lord Brougham ſuſpecting ſome Trickery in the Caſe, and good Lack! how he did bait and ferret him to draw it out, aſking the moſt peremptory Queſtions, and ſometimes a ſecond before the firſt could be anſwered, firking with Impatience like one ſmarting with Stinging Settles: which was great Mirth, at leaſt to all but the Witneſs. It did well-nigh cauſe me to laugh outright, and commit a Breach of Privilege, to hear him in a Fume, echo the Witneſſ's Anſwers, and cry Eh? What! How! Why? and Wherefore? and demand how he could do this, or came not to do the other, and how was that, and ſo forth, and then let his Memory right, next make a ſhort Speech, then give a little Evidence of his own, and again go back to the Examination. It feemed that the Pretender to the Peerage had been helped with Money to maintain his Suit by certain Perſons, and my Lord did ſtrive to worm out of the Lawyer their End therein: but to no Purpoſe; for he had met with his Match; ſo forced to content himſelf with a Quip on the Chances of the Witneſſ's Client. Then another Witneſs examined; a Chirurgeon, whom Lord Brougham did make merry with for his jolly good-natured Looks, and did jeſt upon concerning his Vocation: and the other did bandy Jokes with my Lord, and gave him as good as he brought. Methinks ſuch Bantering is ſtrange of a Peer, and one that hath been Lord Chancellor and uſed to fit on the Woolſack, or anywhere elſe but the Box of an Omnibus. But ſtrange, how ſober a Speech in ſumming up the Evidence my Lord did make after all; and no Doubt he can be reaſonable and quiet when he pleaſes. Save a few Words from Lord Campbell, not a Syllable ſpoke by any Peer but my Lord Brougham; wherefore methinks he muſt have been thoroughly happy, having had nigh all the Talk to himſelf. But the higheſt Court of Law in the Realm numbering ſo few, put me in mind of the Army in Bombaſtes Furioſo, and the Vagaries of Lord Brougham did not the leſs incline me to fancy it ſomewhat of a Burleſque.