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riosity, continued our progress on foot, along Holborn, towards Fleet Market. The conduct of the lord chancellor had been more prudent. He admitted a serjeant's guard into his house in Great Ormond-street, and by a judicious display of this small force, which was marched and countermarched, so as to give it the appearance of fresh detachments arriving, he deterred the populace from making an attack."
It was afterwards the subject of regret to Lord Mansfield, that he had not displayed a similar vigour. “I shall never, indeed, forget,” says Mr. Erskine *, “ what I have heard the late mild and venerable magistrate, Lord Mansfield, say upon this subject, whose house was one of the first attacked in London. I have more than once heard him say, that, perhaps, some blame might have attached upon himself and others in authority, for their forbearance in not having directed force to have been at the first moment repelled by force; it being the highest humanity to check the infancy of tumults.”
Lord Mansfield narrowly escaped in safety. For a few days he did not appear in court; but on the 14th of June he again took his seat. « The reverential silence,” says Mr. Douglas, who at that time reported the decisions of the king's bench,“ which was observed when his lordship resumed his place on the bench, was expressive of sentiments of condolence and respect, more affecting than the most eloquent address the occasion could have suggested.' The loss which Lord Mansfield sustained was irreparable. In pursuance of a vote of the house of commons, the Treasury, through the surveyor-general, made an application to his lordship for the particulars and amount, in order to arrange a proper compensation. To this application his lordship returned the following answer :
“ Besides what is irreparable, my pecuniary loss is great. I apprehended no danger, and therefore took no precaution. But how great soever that loss may be, I * Speeches, vol. iii. p. 33.
+ Dougl. Rep. p. 446.
think it does not become me to claim or expect reparation from the state. I have made up my mind to my misfortune as I ought, with this consolation, that it came from those whose object manifestly was general confusion and destruction at home, in addition to a dangerous and complicated war abroad. If I should lay before you any account or computation of the pecuniary damage I have sustained, it might seem a claim or expectation of being indemnified. Therefore you will have no fur. ther trouble on this subject from," &c. &c.
On the trial of Lord George Gordon for his participation in these proceedings, Mr. Erskine, in the admirable speech which he delivered on that occasion, alluded with great felicity to the destruction of Lord Mansfield's house, and drew from it an argument in favour of his client. “ Can any man living,” he exclaimed, “ believe that Lord George Gordon could possibly have excited the mob to destroy the house of that great and venerable magistrate, who has presided so long in this great and high tribunal, that the oldest of us do not remember him with any other impression than the awful form and figure of justice; a magistrate, who had always been the friend of the protestant dissenters against the illtimed jealousies of the establishment; his countryman too; and, without adverting to the partiality not unjustly imputed to men of that country, a man of whom any country might be proud? -No, gentlemen ; it is not credible that a man of noble birth and liberal education (unless agitated by the most implacable personal resentment, which is not imputed to the prisoner,) could possibly consent to this burning of the house of Lord Mansfield.” *
Amongst the poetical effusions which this catastrophe produced, the following verses appeared from the pen of Cowper :
* Erskine's Speeches, vol. i. p. 112.
“ When wit and genius meet their doom
In all-devouring flame,
And bid us fear the same.
They felt the rude alarm;
“ There memory, like the bee that's fed
From Flora's balmy store,
Had treasured up before.
Have done him cruel wrong:
The honey on his tongue.” Of Lord Mansfield's political life after th year 1780 little remains to be said. He had long ceased, as he stated himself *, to be one of the efficient advisers of the crown; and it was only in his place as a peer, or by the exertion of that influence which always waits upon a man of high character in a high station, that he took any part in politics. During the famous coalition administration in 1782, he opposed, in conjunction with the chancellor, Lord Thurlow, the bill for the prevention of contractors sitting in parliament t, and that for excluding officers of the excise and customs from voting 1.. In the latter speech he controverted the then popular doctrine, that the influence of the crown was increasing, and ought to be diminished, and spoke with considerable energy against “ the associations and meetings without doors for the express purpose of awing and controlling parliament.” He also, in the course of the same year, spoke against the insolvent debtors' bill, considering it as an injury to credit. § One of the latest occasions upon which he addressed the house of peers was upon Lord Effingham's motion relative to the resolutions of the house of commons against Mr. Pitt's administration. His lordship opposed the resolutions moved by Lord Effingham, as tending to produce a breach between the two houses. The speech exhibited even more than
* Ante, p. 183.
+ Parl. Hist. vol. xxii, p. 1362.
a usual portion of that constitutional timidity by which Lord Mansfield was distinguished : it was almost wholly composed of fears, and prognostications of evil.*
At length, after having presided for upwards of thirtytwo years over the court of king's bench, the increasing infirmities of Lord Mansfield induced him to retire from his office. His resignation took place in the year 1788, upon which occasion the counsel practising in his court presented to him the following address, by the hands of Mr. Erskine :
To the Earl of Mansfield. “ My Lord, “ It was our wish to have waited personally upon your lordship in a body, to have taken our public leave of you, on your retiring from the office of chief justice of England; but judging of your lordship's feelings upon such an occasion by our own, and considering, besides, that our numbers might be inconvenient, we desire, in this manner, affectionately to assure your lordship, that we regret, with a just sensibility, the loss of a magistrate whose conspicuous and exalted talents conferred dignity upon the profession, whose enlightened and regular administration of justice made its duties less difficult and laborious, and whose manners rendered them pleasant and respectable.
“ But, while we lament our loss, we remember with peculiar satisfaction, that your lordship is not cut off from us by the sudden stroke of painful distemper, or the more distressing ebb of those extraordinary faculties which have so long distinguished you among men ; but that it has pleased God to allow to the evening of a useful and illustrious life the purest enjoyments which Nature has ever allotted to it the unclouded reflections of a superior and unfading mind over its varied events; and the happy consciousness that it has been faithfully
* Parl, Hist, vol. xxiv. p. 515.
and eminently devoted to the highest duties of human society, in the most distinguished nation upon earth.
“ May the season of this high satisfaction bear its proportion to the lengthened days of your activity and
To this address Lord Mansfield immediately returned the following answer:
“ To the Honourable T. Erskine, Serjeants’ Inn.
« Dear sir, “ I cannot but be extremely flattered by the letter which I this moment have the honour to receive.
“ If I have given satisfaction, it is owing to the learning and candour of the bar: the liberality and integrity of their practice freed the judicial investigation of truth and justice from difficulties. The memory of the assistance I have received from them, and the deep impression which the extraordinary mark they have now given me of their approbation and affection has made upon my mind, will be a source of perpetual consolation in my decline of life, under the pressure of bodily infirmities, which made it my duty to retire.
“ I am, dear sir,
Caen Wood, June 18. 1788
It was Lord Mansfield's good fortune to retain, to an extended old age, the use of those faculties by which in early life he had been so much distinguished. In the year 1793, his nephew, Lord Stormont, having occasion to consult him on a cause in the house of lords, in which he was interested, found his mind perfectly clear and collected. A few days after this interview he was seized with an attack which soon terminated fatally: