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we have a fair test in the contemporary reports of Perry and Knapp. Both are skilful abridgments of the evidence and of the arguments; but to Cockburn and Rowe's belongs the superior merit of perspicuity, without elaboration, and of greater facility of reference. The volume is less known than that of Perry and Knapp, because the latter has been continued in an uninterrupted series down to the parliament of 1847,--like the ten years' parliaments preceding the Reform Bill wholly neglected by the reporters, to the manifest injury of all future practitioners before the election committees,--whilst the work of Cockburn and Rowe ceased on the completion of a single volume.
The session of 1833 also brought Mr. Cockburn his first brief as a parliamentary counsel. On the 26th March, with Mr. Beavan as agent, he appeared as junior counsel for the sitting members for Coventry, Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer and Mr. Edward Ellice, the secretary to the treasury; in the same session he was junior to Sir W. Follett in the Lincoln and Dover petitions, in each case for the sitting members. The cases were out of the ordinary run of petitions. In all three the qualification of the candidate was disputed, and no little legal ingenuity was required to show the legal qualification; whilst in the Coventry case the seats had to be saved notwithstanding the misconduct of the sheriffs, which was specially reported to the House, and notwithstanding the existence of serious riots. In all three cases the seats were saved, the questions as to the qualification had been argued by the leaders, giving little opportunity for any junior to display his ability. On the question of riot, however, and on the right of the sitting member to cross-examine a returning officer who was called only to produce the poll, the junior had the opportunity of showing the "stuff he was made of." The exertions of the advocate were not forgotten by the immediate client who had the power, and, as it proved, the inclination to reward. On the 18th July, 1834, the corporation commission was issued to inquire and report on the state of the corporations in England and Wales. Among the commissioners was Mr. Cockburn; and to him, in conjunction with Mr. Whitcombe and Mr. Rushton, the late police magistrate of Liverpool-than whom no one deserved and few obtained more lasting or more sincere marks of universal esteem-was assigned the North-Midland circuit, comprising, amongst others, the then notorious corporations of Leicester, Warwick and Nottingham. The task was not easy; the corporators were not facile in their proceedings; the acts of themselves and their predecessors, when exposed to public
view, would not stand the light of modern criticism or of more recent reforming notions; the task was, nevertheless, well performed. The general report of the commissioners, with the protest of Sir Francis Palgrave, is well known; and the three thick volumes of appendix containing the district reports, give a mass of information which could have been collected by no other means. The reports on Bridgenorth, Derby, Newark, Newcastle-under-Line, Retford, Stafford, Shrewsbury and Wenlock are the joint production of Mr. Rushton and Mr. Cockburn, and display a searching fulness and clearness, which we are inclined to ascribe largely to the painstaking carefulness of Mr. Rushton. The reports on Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick are by Mr. Cockburn and Mr. Whitcombe. To Mr. Cockburn solely belong the reports on Bewdley, Kidderminster, Newport, Shropshire, Sutton-Coldfield, Tamworth and Walsall. They are drawn up with a scrupulous attention to impartiality; and whether the electioneering sale of the Bewdley seats be set forth in all its deformity, or the courtesy and openness of the Tamworth corporators be commended, there is a fairness and a firmness which well mark the character of the commissioner; yet the reports will not bear comparison with the joint productions in other parts of the district; they are less ample in some of their details, and they have evidently had less care bestowed on their composition.
His employment on this commission brought his merits prominently to the notice of Mr. Joseph Parkes, at that time the astute head of the parliamentary election agents on the side of the Whigs. A more acute client or a firmer friend no barrister could find; and, instructed by him, during the session of 1835 Mr. Cockburn appeared for the sitting member for Canterbury in the first petition, and for the petitioners in the second. He also held a junior brief, but had to pull the labouring oar in the New Windsor petition, acquitting himself with a quickness and tact which often carried the committee with him on points at least extremely doubtful.
During the same parliament the railway bills began to form a prominent feature, and to increase largely the practice of parliamentary counsel. The lion's share of the retainers undoubtedly fell to Mr. Austin; and no one will deny that his peculiarly persuasive manner, his dexterous dealing with hostile witnesses, and his quick perception of the prejudices or the weakness of each particular member of the committee, rendered him amply deserving of the "golden fee" which company after company poured into his clerk's accounts. The position of a counsel before the committees of either House is indeed pe
culiar he needs more tact and manner than law, and more persuasion than eloquence. A barrister may succeed beyond all his competitors,
"though some plead better, with more law than he;"
yet there must be enough of eloquence to please and to convince; enough of law to keep the evidence within reasonable bounds; enough of experience to be able to refer with readiness to other decisions of other committees, and to known rules of practice there and elsewhere; enough of firmness to restrain the private or party fancies of individual members of the particular tribunal; enough of casuistry not to allow your opponent's case to break down the weak parts of your own; and, withal, a dexterity in not allowing that casuistry to be detected; and these qualities must be varied with each varying committee. Many of the modes by which a nisi prius advocate obtains his success are not only worthless but injurious. Distortions of fact are most dangerous; appeals to the passions fail of effect; declamation is utterly ruinous to the declaimer. The critical acumen of an accomplished arguer in banco, and the nice discrimination or distinctions of decided cases, are wholly out of place. Conciseness and logical accuracy, which tell upon the mind of a single judge, are lost within the four walls of a committee-room. Moreover, there are generally two or three members who really understand the question to be decided; a few who fancy that they know more than all the others put together; and many who think the whole affair a bore, and who neither know nor care to know much of the matter to be decided; and in election committees, under the old system, when the "brains had been knocked out" by the respective agents, there was a party majority to contend with, when, to use an expression of a late honourable member," he had voted against his party on one division, and he would take care not to do it again."
Such was the nature of the tribunals before which Mr. Cockburn appeared. Receiving a fair proportion of all the good things. that fell to the lot of the "lucky few," he fully understood the character of these tribunals, and he as fully succeeded in doing justice to his clients. Occasionally there was shown a little infirmity of temper which told against him for the moment; and though he was less dexterous at fence than some of his colleagues, and less forcible in attack, he had one most distinct and excellent qualification, " undaunted courage;" he was seldom to be foiled, never to be put down his first employment in parliament was in defence of the seat, and his great character
istic merit was in defence. Hopeless as others might think the retention of the seat, he was ready and willing to fight so long as he was instructed; and if bribery were the charge trumped up, as it not unfrequently is against the sitting member's agents, no counsel could more firmly or with more indignation resist it, or more effectively save the candidate from the indiscretion or vice of the agent. His conduct on the Great Marlow petition in 1842 is a case precisely in point. One of the counsel had commented strongly on the non-appearance of a lady of title, who was too ill to leave her room, to disprove a charge of personal bribery, and with a sneer had said that she need not have feared to appear as she would have been cross-examined by one of her own rank; Mr. Cockburn disposed of the case and the sneer by avowing that she feared neither the examination nor the examiner, and would as soon submit herself to the questions of the humblest member of the bar as of the "proudest bearer of an ennobled name." The retort did its work, the charge of personal bribery was quietly dropped. In the Taunton petition of 1838 he for the first time led the case, with Mr. Kinglake as his junior, and with his usual success defended the seat. He was in most of the English petitions of that year, including the memorable case of Evesham, where Sir Robert Peel was chairman, and Mr. Peter Borthwick was unseated after the receipt by a schoolmaster of a silver snuff-box, with the singular inscription, "Ex dono amici sui, qui conducit," or as Peel freely translated it, "The gift of his friend, who bought him." The election cases of this session are ably reported by Falconer and Fitzherbert, and will repay the perusal of those anxious to pursue this part of the subject further.
Now it was that Mr. Cockburn paid peculiar attention to the other branch of his profession, was diligent on his circuit, even leaving committees to be present at Exeter, and indicating his determination to be something more than a parliamentary counsel; a position profitable enough, but not one with which a counsel of ambition would rest content. He became also recorder of Southampton, and in this situation obtained the praise of the inhabitants: the little that fell to his duty was done with care and discrimination. In 1841 he obtained his silk gown, and profitably extended that accumulation of fees, for which the election committees of the following year, and the railway contests of the subsequent sessions up to the panic, afforded the most ample opportunities. For the legitimate reward of his toil he was neither too eager nor too careless. For the work that he did he expected and his clerk insisted on the proper honorarium: and so far particular was he that when
a brief for an election committee was ready for delivery, but the fee was not forthcoming, on the assembling of the committee on a fine Derby morning the parties found themselves minus their counsel; who acted on the good old saw, that "a man may as well play for nothing as work for nothing."
The year 1841 was otherwise fortunate for the reputation of Mr. Cockburn, and for the consequent future reward. He had now an opportunity of having his name brought most prominently before the public in a case of considerable importance, to which public attention had been largely attracted; and in which a knowledge of the principles of the civil and the common law were necessary to aid a relative who had been improperly deprived of the office of Dean of York. A full report of the proceedings in the visitorial court of the Archbishop of York, held before Dr. Phillimore, as commissary, commencing in January, 1841, and continued by several adjournments to the 24th July, has been published, and a careful perusal of its contents has confirmed an opinion that the whole history of the courts in our own country affords no instance of a similar course of proceeding. The colloquies between the commissary and the dean were matters of curious comment at the time, and they lose none of their raciness after the lapse of years. The judgment of the commissary is of itself a rich treat: he declares that
"Deeply impressed with the importance of the responsibility, I have brought to the consideration of the subject such lights as my previous habits of study and the practical experience of some years have enabled me to apply to it. I have endeavoured also to bring to the investigation of the question all the patience and impartiality I could command. I am conscious of no bias: indeed, if I had any, there are reasons (which it would be impertinent in me to mention) à priori, why it would be in favour of the dean."
Yet he had just before, in the same judgment, displayed his patience by saying, "you have all heard how this charge was met by Mr. John Singleton, how he shuffled and prevaricated, and disgraced himself:" and the bias in the dean's favour was manifested at the opening, by averring that
"The chapter had fallen into a complete case of disorganization. Whether this was owing to the restless temperament of the dean-to his want of order and method in the arrangement and conduct of business-to his utter contempt of all forms-or to the inordinate pretensions he advanced as the head of the chapter, to the control and government of all other members of the corporate body, (of all which imperfections he has given us ample exemplifications in the course of the present proceedings); I say, whether it arose from these defects