Page images

exclusively to the christians; and Constantine called upon all the functionaries attached to the old religion to renounce their faith or relinquish their offices. Difference of religion became an impediment of marriage, and a cause of disinheritance from father to son; and jews and pagans were prohibited from holding christian slaves in servitude. Juridical persons or corporations had also become more numerous than formerly, since the christian religion had given rise to a great number of churches, convents, houses of refuge, and other establishments of the same kind, before unknown. We meet with the generous charity of the christian morality, in a great number of civil regulations concerning pupils, and especially in regard to the poor, a forgotten class, unknown under the system of polytheism, but from thenceforward becoming every day more numerous by the progressive abolition of slavery. The female sex, also, by the influence of christianity, obtained a greater social and civil emancipation. The dignity of their existence gained much with the new religion. The dominical power and the paternal power were diminished; and the right of selling one's children was almost suppressed, since the father was only allowed to exercise it in a case of miserable necessity, and in regard to new-born children (sanguinolenti), whom the law allowed him the faculty of redeeming at the same price. The right of chastisement was subjected to a new amelioration, in so far as the intervention of a magistrate was made necessary to its exercise in many cases. The paternal power might be taken away from those who made a bad use of it. The ancient pontifical charges, which discharged one from the paternal power, were replaced in this respect by the new dignities of the Roman church. As to the right of life and death of masters over their slaves, it was completely suppressed. Antoninus had established wise regulations in this respect; Constantine confirmed and extended them; and he also repressed the cruelty of the chastisements which were sometimes inflicted upon slaves. On this subject, the title de emendatione servorum of Justinian's Code may be consulted. To the ancient solemn forms of enfranchisement, Constantine added that of enfranchisement in the churches. We have already seen what was the general influence of christianity on the institution of marriage, which was prohibited between the godfather and godmother, between the jew and the christian, between the seducer and his victim, the man and woman guilty of adultery, &c. Second marriages were restrained; and we may find in the law 3 of the Theodosian Code, de nuptiis, in connection with the Novel 74, chap. iv. § 1, the commencement of the intervention of the church in acts of civil state; but the necessity of the nuptial benediction was not imposed until afterwards. Celibacy ceased to be regarded as injurious to the public order; but, on the contrary, was made honorable, and considered as the most holy and respectable state. No other idea was now attached to it than that of chastity; privileges were accorded to those who devoted themselves to it; and it was then that the monastic life made immense progress. Even in the married state, continence was regarded as a virtue. From thenceforth the provisions of the law Papia, designed to encourage marriage and to favor fruitful unions, disappeared. But while Constantine abolished this part of the law, he retained those of its provisions which restrained the faculty of disposing between husband and wife, and which accorded well with the spirit of christianity. Concubinage was treated with disfavor, though tolerated for a long time afterwards; adultery and rape were punished with the severest penalties; the causes of divorce were restrained and carefully specified; divorce by mutual consent was favored, when the cause for which it was sought was the desire of the parties to live in chastity.

We find, lastly, in the influence of christianity, the reason of the gradual substitution of the principle of family affection for that of political affection, in the devolution of successions; and we discover it also in the laws concerning paternal usufruct, —the revocation of donations on account of ingratitude, –legitimation, — dower, — benefit of inventory, and several other matters. But this research of detail would require developments from which we are obliged to abstain.


[Lord Hardwicke, whose life is contained in our last number, retired from the office of chancellor, in November, 1756. On his retirement, the great seal was put in commission, for a year, in the hands of chief justice Willes, sir John Eardley Wilmot, and baron Smyth. It was then given to sir Robert Henley, afterwards earl of Northington, with the title of lord keeper, which was subsequently changed for that of lord chancellor. The following sketch of the life of lord Northington is abridged from a review of a memoir of him by his grandson, lord Henley, in the fifth volume of the Law Magazine. Of this work, the reviewer speaks as follows:

“Lord Henley's memoir (the rest of the volume being filled up with extracts from some of lord Northington's decrees) consists but of sixty-four as small streamlets of print as ever meandered through so many meadows of margin; that is, it contains in all about the same quantity of letter-press as might fill from twenty-five to thirty pages of the Law Magazine. Now, in this small compass, we need hardly say, it would be utterly hopeless to look for any of those minute details of manners, of character and of private history, which after all form the principal charm of biography. The author, in fact, has attempted nothing of this. So far as we can see, he has set about his task with little or no advantage in point of materials over any other person who might have chosen to undertake it; and had he been merely Mr. A B, a stranger to lord Northington and his family, we should have pronounced him to have performed it creditably, though as coming from lord Henley, his grandson, it certainly has not realized our expectations.”]

LoRD NorthingtoN was the second son of Anthony Henley, a man of ancient descent and tolerably large fortune, well

known in the classic days of William and of Anne, among those gentlemen of wit and pleasure about town, who flourished so abundantly in that time. He is said to have been an occasional contributor to the Tatler and the Spectator; he trifled also with the nine sisters, after the manner of the mob of gentlemen who write with ease, and enjoyed considerable repute as a connoisseur of music. The mansion and estate of the Grange, in Hampshire, now the property of Mr. Baring, were his inheritance; as also, a considerable income arising from ground-rents in Lincoln’s-Inn-fields, where also stood his town house, at present occupied by the college of surgeons. All this, of course, originally formed no part of the patrimony of the second son, (though, as it happened, he did eventually become master of it, on his elder brother dying without issue, in 1745); and being reduced to the same unfortunate necessity as he would have labored under had he been born of a family in the “middle classes,” namely, that of gaining his own livelihood, the bar was chosen for his profession. During the whole course of his education, and of his professional career, he was, in the strictest sense, the contemporary of lord Mansfield. They were together at Westminster school, and afterwards at Oxford, where Henley entered as a member of St. John's, but subsequently became a fellow of All Souls. The dates of their respective calls to the bar, too, have only an interval of about eighteen months between them, Murray's having taken place in Michaelmas term, 1730, and Henley's in Trinity, 1732.' Whether their acquaintance as school-fel

* The biographer has evidently made some mistake in the date either of the entry, the call, or the graduating as master of arts. He tells us that Northington was entered of the Inner Temple, on the 1st of February, 1728, and called to the bar June 23d, 1732, not taking his master's degree till the year following, 5th July, 1733. This could not be; he must either have been a member of the society during five years, or have taken this degree at the time of his call.

lows produced anything like close intimacy during the period of their studentship, we are not informed by the work before us: nor, indeed, does it afford us the slightest particulars of the plan or mode of reading adopted at this time by the future lord chancellor. For aught we are told to the contrary, he might have been the most idle, or the most studious, of all the members of the inns of court. That he was not the most absteminous, however, with regard to the bottle, we are very distinctly given to understand; and a pleasant anecdote is hereupon recorded, which we shall extract for the benefit of all such thirsty students as may think themselves destined to figure one day upon the woolsack: “Murray, we are told, ‘when he first came to town, drank champagne with the wits.” His classic tastes and literary attainments, says a biographer, led him to prefer the society of scholars and men of genius, to that of his professional brethren. Henley, also, was not without his potations, but they were the juice of a more powerful vintage, and perhaps flowed in more copious streams. Besides, though both a scholar and a wit, his conversation was too boisterous and jovial to be endured in the circles where the accomplished Murray shone. A few All Souls friends, or some congenial spirits of the Temple, were the companions, after the labors of the day, of his convivial hours. The truth is, that drinking was at that time the ruling vice and bane of society, and Henley was not at this early period of life fortunate enough to escape the general contagion. His errors, however, were no more than what most high-spirited and ardent youths in some way or other fall into at their first entrance into life, and he soon recovered from their influence; but many a severe fit of the gout was the result of his early indulgences. When suffering from its effects, he was once overheard in the house of lords to mutter, after some painful walks between the wooksack and the bar, “If

« PreviousContinue »