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598
n
SELBORNE, 1ST EARL OF


on behalf of Great Britain. In the end the Geneva tribunal made an award requiring the payment by Great Britain to the United States of a sum of about £3,000,000. To those who, in order to promote the cause of international arbitration, are desirous of acquiring a knowledge of the dangers and difficulties which beset this mode of settling disputes, the account which Palmer has left of his part in this arbitration may be commended.

In September 1872 Gladstone again offered him the great seal, which Lord Hatherley had resigned; in the same year he took up his residence in his newly erected house at Blackmoor, in the parish of Selborne, in the county of Hampshire, from which he took his new title as a peer. In the following year (1873) Lord Selborne carried through parliament the Judicature Act; The foundations of this measure were laid so long ago as February 1867, when Palmer had moved for a royal commission on the constitution of the courts, and had taken an active part in the work of that commission, of which the first report was made in 1869. The result of this act of 1873 was to effect a fundamental change in the judicature system. By the operation of the Judicature Act one supreme court with several divisions was constituted; each division could administer the whole law; the conflict of divergent systems of law was largely overcome by declaring that when they were at variance, the principles of equity should prevail over the doctrines of the common law. The details of this great change were embodied in a code of general rules prepared by a committee of judges, over which Lord Selborne for two years presided week by week, with unfaltering attention to the minutest detail. “ If, ” wrote Lord Selborne in his memoirs, speaking of the Judicature Act of 1873, “ I leave any monument behind me which will bear the test of time, it may be this.” It is impossible to separate this fusion of law and equity, this union of all the higher courts into one supreme tribunal, from the construction of a single home for this great institution; and the opening of the Royal Courts in the Strand in the year 1882, when Queen Victoria personally presided in her one supreme court, and handed over the care of the building to Lord Selborne, as her chancellor and as the head of this great body, was impressive as an outward and visible sign of the silent revolution, which owed more to Lord Selborne than to any other individual. To the student of the natural history of jurisprudence the fusion of the two systems of law and equity may well recall a similar result brought about in Imperial Rome; to the student of British institutions, the supreme court, for once presided over in person by the sovereign, could not but recall the Aula Regia, where the Norman kings sat amid their counsellors before equity had arisen to correct law, and before the separation between the three great common law courts had begun. A small incident may illustrate the novelty of the assemblage of the one great court on that day. The queen, on the prayer of the attorney-general, ordered that the proceedings of the day should be recorded, an order which caused a momentary embarrassment to the lord chancellor, as the court had no existing registrar, and no existing book in which the record should be made. On the occasion of the opening of the Royal Courts Lord Selborne received an earldom.

The year 1885 was marked in Lord Selborne's life by the death of his wife, and by his final separation from the party of which Gladstone was the acknowledged leader. That statesman had in the latter part of the year indicated his leaning towards the disestablishment of the Church of England, and towards Home Rule for Ireland. Both these leanings were opposed to the deepest convictions of Lord Selborne; and it was an inevitable result that when in January 1886 Gladstone resumed office as premier, Lord Selborne should not be again his chancellor: on the 30th of January in that year they parted for ever; and Lord Selborne felt that his public life, except so far as he might serve his country by voice or pen, was now over. But neither his courage nor his industry forsook him; and he found, in opposing the new views of his old colleague, ample scope for both voice and pen; and as a member of the House of Lords he continued almost to the last to take part in hearing and deciding appeals, and sometimes in the ordinary business of the House.

In addressing the electors of Midlothian in September 1885, Gladstone had suggested the severance of the Church of England from the state as a subject on which the foundation of discussion had already been laid, and he averred the existence of “ a current almost throughout the civilized world, slowly setting in the direction of disestablishment." Such an utterance from such a man greatly excited the hopes of Nonconformists, who had previously published a manifesto under the title of “ The Case for Disestablishment.” This stirring of the question deeply moved Lord Selborne, who was strongly opposed alike to disestablishment and disendowment, and in the following year, 1886, he published a work entitled A Defence of the Church of England against Disestablishment, with an introductory letter addressed to Gladstone. In the introductory letter he criticized Gladstone's pronouncement on the subject, and especially examined the allegation of a general tendency towards disestablishment in the civilized world at large, and arrived at a negative conclusion. In the body of the book the learned author treated of the history of the English Church, its endowments and the case of the advocates of disestablishment. The work is throughout characterized by an abundant supply of learning and of information as to the history and the state of the Church of England at that time, and by great dialectical acuteness. It is a powerful defence as well as a valuable summary of the history of the established Church in England. In 1888 Lord Selborne published a second work on the Church question, entitled Ancient Facts and Fallacies concerning Churches and Tithes, in which he examined more critically than in his earlier book the developments of early ecclesiastical institutions, both on the continent of Europe and in Anglo-Saxon England, which resulted in the formation of the modern parochial system and its general endowment with tithes. A second edition of this work, embodying the result of its author's subsequent researches in the Vatican library and elsewhere, was published in the year 1892. A perusal of these books will show with how Wide a range of investigation and with what care Lord Selborne prepared himself for the discussion of these ecclesiastical questions which deeply stirred him. But Lord Selborne did not carry on his opposition to Gladstone's proposals only in his library or by his pen; in the year 1886–1887 he travelled to many parts of the country, and addressed meetings in defence of the union between the Church and state and against Home Rule; and in September 1893, in his eighty-first year, he addressed a powerful speech to the House of Lords in opposition to the Home Rule Bill.

Lord Selborne's health had, with the exception of two collapses in 1883 and 1888, which appear to have been due to overwork, continued excellent till February 1895, when he was attacked by influenza. He died on the 4th of May 1895 at his seat in Hampshire, full of years and of honours.

To the subject of university education Lord Selborne at different times in his life gave much time and attention. As a fellow of Magdalen College, he had been desirous of changes which he felt himself bound by his oath from advocating and he had taken part in the discussions on the abolition of tests in the old universities.[1] He gave much time and attention to his duties as chairman of the second Oxford commission under the act of 1876; in 1878 he filled the office of lord rector of the university of St Andrews; and in the following year he presided over a commission on the subject of university education in London. Lord Selborne's literary labours included the publication in 1862 of a selection of hymns, under the title of The Book of Praise, a work in which he was greatly assisted by Daniel Sedgwick (1814–1879), a bookseller and publisher in the city of London. The work was characterized by the great pains taken to ascertain the true authorship of hymns which were either anonymous or attributed to those who had not composed them,

and by a like effort to exclude all variations grafted on the

  1. In 1867 he founded an association for the improvement of legal education, in the hope of brin ing about the establishment or the restoration of “ a general school of law in London on a scale worthy of the importance of the law and of the resources of the Inns of Court." This enterprise was not successful. The opposing forces were too strong to permit Lord Selborne to succeed.