Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/249

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Hawkins
Hawkins
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division, and being knighted was almost immediately transferred to the exchequer division. He was the first judge appointed to the exchequer division since the Judicature Acts had superseded the court of exchequer. Hawkins and Chief Baron Kelly deeply resented the provision of those acts by which every judge of the high court was to be styled 'Mr. Justice' and the old style of baron of the exchequer was dropped. Hawkins, who made vain efforts to secure the appellation of 'Baron Hawkins,' invariably called himself for private purposes 'Sir Henry Hawkins,' instead of *Mr. Justice Hawkins.' The exchequer division was absorbed in the queen's bench division in 1880.

In Sept. 1877 Hawkins tried at the Central Criminal Court 'the Penge case,' when Louis and Patrick Staunton, the wife of Patrick, and a servant named Alice Rhodes were jointly indicted for the murder, by ill-treatment and intentional neglect, of the wife of Louis. The case was on the wide borderland between murder and manslaughter, and the sufficiency of the evidence of complicity against Alice Rhodes was open to question. All were convicted of murder and sentenced to death, Rhodes subsequently receiving a free pardon and the sentence on the others being commuted to penal servitude for life (cf. J. B. Atlay's Trial of the Stauntons, 1911). Hawkins tried at about the same time many other murder cases which attracted public attention, and this circumstance, together with the alliterative attractiveness of the phrase 'Hanging Hawkins,' gave rise to a loose popular impression that he was a judge of a peculiarly severe or even savage temper. For this idea there was no real foundation. Hawkins was an admirable criminal judge. Extremely patient and thorough, he took care that both the case for the crown and that for the accused person should be exhaustively stated and tested to the utmost. His summings-up — in which in his later years it was his invariable practice never to open his note-book unless for the purpose of reading to the jury some fragment of the evidence in which the actual words used were of great importance — were models of lucidity and completeness. His manner, while dignified, was considerate to the point of being almost gentle. He had a strong hatred of cruelty and of any serious and deliberate outrages against either person or property, and in the gravest cases he did not shrink from deserved severity. On the other hand the period of his judgeship practically covered the great change in the direction of leniency to criminals. In this movement Hawkins was one of the more progressive authorities. He greatly favoured the lightest punishment for first offences, even where the offences themselves were serious, but he never went to the lengths favoured by the more extreme reformers. As a criminal judge Hawkins had very few equals during twenty-two years. As a civil judge he failed to convey the impression that to do justice between the parties was his single aim. Innumerable stories were told — some of them with substantial foundation — of the ingenious devices whereby he contrived that the case before him either should be peferred by consent to arbitration or should not be tried out to a clear determination on the merits. These devices, usually extremely adroit, could hardly be described as otherwise than mischievous. Of the current explanations of this peculiarity that which was least wanting in plausibility was that the judge's principal motive was to avoid the reversal of his decisions on appeal. The author of 'The Life in the Law of Sir Henry Hawkins' states that Hawkins said to him 'I have a horror of adverse criticism, to which I am perhaps unduly sensitive.'

In another respect Hawkins's judicial character presented a strange contrast. When, while doing the work he liked, he was summing up important or comphcated evidence in a criminal case, he had a command of excellent EngUsh, accurate, forcible, and dignified, which would have stood the test of absolutely literal reproduction in print. On the other hand, in delivering a considered judgment he was verbose and tautological ; he failed to grasp the principles of the law and to deduce from them the true effect of the facts before him, and he involved himself in contradictions. Two of his judgments which establish these facts beyond question are those in Hicks V, Faulkner (8 Q.B.D. 167) on the law of malicious prosecution, and in R. v. Lillyman {[1896] 2 Q.B. 167) on a question of evidence in criminal cases. The latter judgment of the court for crowni cases reserved was so unsatisfactory that for nine years, while it remained a leading authority, it was invariably construed as meaning the contrary of what it said, until in 1905, in the case of R. v. Osborne, in the same court, it was substantially overruled.

Hawkins resigned his judgeship in 1898 and was sworn of the privy council. He was created a peer on 27 Aug. 1899 by the title of Baron Brampton of Brampton in