Page images
PDF
EPUB

his leisure time in catching butterflies.

He indulges in none

of the ordinary dissipations by which the statesman and the man of letters can unbend his bow. Mr. Gladstone, as might be expected, is most catholic in his tastes, but, except for wood-cutting and pedestrianism, he can hardly be said to be much of an athlete. He has played cricket and other games, but he has never thrown himself into them with that passion which is necessary for success, although one could imagine Mr. Gladstone being the champion cricketer of England, if he gave his mind to it, even now. But in outof-door sports he prefers Shank's pony to any other means, excepting the cutting down of trees, of amusing himself. He is a great pedestrian, and is able to distance any ordinary walker, although he will soon be in his 80th year. Mrs. Gladstone is also a good pedestrian, and one Summer they amused themselves one afternoon by ascending a hill some 3000 feet above the sea-level without appearing to feel the exertion arduous. At indoor games Mr. Gladstone used to enjoy a rubber at whist, but he is now more devoted to back-gammon, a game which he plays with the same concentration of energy and attention that he devotes to the preparation of a Budget or the course of a parliamentary debate. He occasionally plays at draughts, but is a very bad hand at the chequers.

Mr. Gladstone's society has always been an immense addition to the company to which he was invited. No one could be more humble and more simple, or more ready to "take a back seat," but he never takes airs upon himself, and falls in harmoniously with anything that is going on. The account published some time ago of Mr. Gladstone as a conversationalist is singularly incorrect in representing him as monopolising all the conversation. Mr. Gladstone no doubt takes his fair share, which is a very large one, but no one is less given to monopolising talk than he. He can talk about anything, and pours out a flood of information, of anecdote and of illustration, upon any theme that may be started in a fashion which makes the ordinary visitor feel that the best service he can render is to listen, merely throw

ing in, from time to time, a remark necessary to start Mr. Gladstone along on a fresh track, or to force him to draw still more deeply from the immense reservoir of hoarded knowledge which he has under his command.

Not that Mr. Gladstone is a man whom you can lightly contradict, or one before whom you would care to hazard any observation which you had not carefully considered. The promptitude with which he comes down upon any unhappy wretch who may have happened to hazard an observation which Mr. Gladstone does not believe to have been founded on fact is like the swoop of an eagle on its prey. The eye flashes and the unfortunate interlocutor is compelled to "stand and deliver" his facts, his references, and his "justificatory pieces" in a fashion which once experienced is never forgotten. The peculiar flash in Mr. Gladstone's eye as he turns upon anyone whose remarks or acts have slightly ruffled the equanimity of his soul, was very marked ten years ago! Of late he requires more rousing than he used to, but even still there are times when those who know him can well understand the remark of the West-countryman who once wrote to Mr. Gladstone saying: "You do not know me, and have forgotten that we ever met. I have not forgotten you, nor can I ever forget the flash of your eagle eye on Frome platform, which went through me."

Mr. Gladstone has been one of England's most wonderful statesmen. His influence has been world-wide, and will last until the end of time. Many years have elapsed since Macaulay described Mr. Gladstone as the "rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories, who follow reluctantly and mutinously a leader whose experience and eloquence are indispensable to them, but whose cautious temper and moderate opinions they abhor." How completely his career has disappointed the "stern and unbending Tories," it is unnecessary to say.

The purity of Mr. Gladstone's motives no one has ever dared to question. His public and private character are beyond reproach. The generosity and magnanimity with

which he treats his political adversaries; his fidelity to his colleagues and constituents; the earnestness with which he throws himself into any cause which he believes to be right —are traits which should not be forgotten in estimating his character. Mr. Gladstone is a singularly great and noble man, and has honestly won the admiration with which he is universally regarded.

CHAPTER V.

ORATORY IN FRANCE.

HE legal profession in France has achieved for itself

ΤΗ

a proud position. The forensic orators of France. have always been justly noted for their great humanity, their chivalrous courage, profound knowledge of the law, their varied accomplishments, and their powerful eloquence. They have always discharged their duties to their clients with the greatest boldness and fidelity. Not only has the French bar been remarkably free from corruption, but judicial corruption has always been punished there with great severity. As a proof of the strict severity with which corruption on the part of any member of the court, in France, was punished, it is said, that, as long ago as 1348, one of the judges, named Alani de Ourdery, was hanged by order of the parliament for corruption in office.

Another instance of the same impartial justice occurred in 1496, when Claude de Chamvreux, a judge and formerly a councillor, was convicted of corruption in regard to certain matters which had been referred to him. A strong effort was made to save him, but the guilty judge was not allowed to escape. "He was deprived of his office, and openly stripped of his scarlet gown and furred cap; and then with naked feet and bare head, and holding in his hand a lighted torch, he fell upon his knees upon the floor, and begged aloud for mercy from God, and the king, and justice, and the parties whom he had injured. The report which he had falsified was then torn to pieces by an officer of the court;

and the culprit was conducted to the quadrangle of the Palais de Justice, and, being consigned over to the public executioner, was forced to mount upon a cart, and conducted to the pillory, where he stood for three hours. He was afterwards branded on the forehead by a hot iron with a fleur de lis, and banished forever from the realm." It is a great pity that all unjust judges in every country could not be treated in a similar manner, and when our civilisation becomes higher they will be.

The order of advocates in France bore some analogy to the order of knighthood, as may be seen by the following rules, to which, with many others, the advocate promised obedience upon his admission to the bar:

"1. He shall not undertake just and unjust causes alike without distinction, nor maintain such as he undertakes, with trickery, fallacies, and misquotations of authorities.

"2. He was not, in his pleadings, to indulge in abuse of the opposite party or his counsel.

"3. He was not to compromise the interests of his clients, by absence from court when the cause in which he was retained was called on.

"4. He was not to violate the respect due to the court, by either improper expressions, or unbecoming gestures.

"5. He was not to exhibit a sordid avidity of gain, by putting too high a price upon his services.

"6. He was not to make any bargain with his client for a share in the fruits of the judgment he might recover.

"7. He was not to lead a dissipated life, or one contrary to the gravity of his calling.

"8. He was not, under pain of being debarred, to refuse his services to the indigent and oppressed."

The last rule, it will be noticed, breathes the very spirit of chivalry.

"Purity of life and disinterested zeal in the cause of the poor and friendless were enjoined upon the chevalier and the advocate alike; and doubtless the resemblance between the two professions, of which the latter was thus reminded, had a powerful effect in producing a tone of high-minded

« PreviousContinue »