Page images
PDF
EPUB

CA

King's Bench as a student, I saw him with a silkgown on his back, making a motion with far more hesitation and distress than I ever witnessed on the part of the youngest and most obscure tyro. This was the first time of my seeing him in the character of a lawyer: the last time was at the Council-board. It must, I think, have been by Lind's means that I enjoyed a privilege, in which I had so few to share with me. I speak only from present inference; for I do not recollect that he himself was there. At that board Franklin stood as the silent, and necessarily defenceless butt of his eloquent invectives. No hesitation then : self and language were in equal perfection subjects of command. Fortunate was I beyond all probability in being present at so memorable a scene. Members of the board, nearer a dozen, I believe, than a score, sitting on the opposite sides of a long table. At the upper end the Duke of Portland as President. Auditors I question whether there were more than a dozen besides myself. Of the President's chair, the back parallel to, and not far distant from the fire: the chimney-piece projecting a foot or two from that side of the apartment formed a recess on each side. Alone, in the recess, on the left hand of the President, stood Benjamin Franklin, in such position as not to be visible from the situation of the President, remaining the whole time like a

rock, in the same posture, his head resting on his left hand; and in that attitude abiding the pelting of the pitiless storm. If necessary, at the call of a subpæna, I could give some tolerable account of the materials, colour, and buttons of that coat, which, I am ashamed to think, retarded for such a length of time, not much less I fear than a week, if not the cessation of hostilities, at any rate the conclusion of peace between so many mighty contending powers and their subject millions. Before the incident ever found its way into the public prints, I had it from a noble friend, who was present at the last exhibition of the important vestment, as I was at the first. To return to Wedderburn, I was not more astonished at the brilliancy of his lightening, than astounded by the thunder, that accompanied it. As he stood, the cushion lay on the Council-table before him : his station was between the seats of two of the members on the side of the right hand of the Lord President. So narrow were the dimensions of this important Justice-chamber; they were those of a private drawing-room. I would not, for double the greatest fee the orator could on that occasion have received, been in the place of · that cushion : the ear was stunned at every blow : he had been reading, perhaps in that book in which the Prince of Roman Orators and RhetoricProfessors instructs his pupils how to make

impression. To the instrument recommended, I think by Cicero, the floor being hard, and the cushion soft, he substituted the hand. Our late friend, (Dr. Parr,) considering whom I am now addressing, (Mr. Barker,) I run no small risk in venturing the observation, seemed to have studied in the same school. Lest for making the desired impression psychological power should not suffice, he rather too often helped it out with physical, and the table groaned under the assault. The striking contrast between the early and the later exhibitions of the accomplished orator, may afford an encouraging lesson to young men. I remember a similar, though not an equal contrast in Lord Kenyon. I remember a similar and equal contrast in the fortification-loving Duke of Richmond, from whom, when occupying the place now occupied by Wellington, at the house from which I write, I had once the honour of a visit, which, according to a custom scarce ever infringed in my whole life, I left unreturned.

When Lord Pigot's conduct in his capacity of Governor of Madras, * became the subject of

*[“ George Lord Pigot. Narrative of the Revolution in the Government of Madras, Sept. 11. 1776. Account of the Subversion of the Legal Government at Madras, by imprisoning the Governor in Aug. 1776. Lond. 4to. Defence of Lord Pigot, Lond. 1777. 4to. ” Dr. Watt's Bibl. Brit.Case of Captain Brereton, by Mr. Lind, 1779. Appendix to Ditto.Bibliotheca Parr. 547. 677. E. H. B.]

inquiry and accusation, as is shown in the history of the day; Lind, in his capacity of barrister, was applied to, to defend him, and accordingly did so in a 4to. volume, for which he received, if I misrecollect not, the sum of £1,000. This, I think, was the sum received by Lord Thurlow, when counsel, for the part he took, I do not exactly recollect which, in the great Douglas- Cause. This being a matter of a comparatively private nature, and for which such a rapidity was requisite, as could not admit of any time for revision by a friend, I took no part in it, unless it were in the way of incidental conversation.

While the lady above spoken of was living with him in the house above spoken of, he prevailed upon his sisters, one or both, to make occasional visits there, that she might not be altogether destitute of company of her own sex, In this mode of life her local situation was several times changed, but to the last was not uncomfortable. The nature of her position with him excepted, her conduct was irreproachable ; but that circumstance opposed of course an irresistible bar to any female visitors other than such, as she herself would not have consented to receive. By this consideration it was that he was induced to make her his wife: the marriage took place at St. Andrew's, Holborn; name of the officiating clergyman, I believe, Eton ; present his eldest sister Mary and your humble servant, who, in the character of father for the occasion, gave her to him. This you will see is tolerably good evidence, that there be nothing about me to render me either in law incompetent, or in probability incredible. As to the time, the register will shew it: not so much as the year is at present in my remembrance. I question whether since the time of my first seeing her, as above, a twelvemonth had elapsed. Genealogical importance, the ceremony had none: of political, it was not altogether destitute. No sooner had the event taken place, than the bridegroom sent advice of it to his Royal Master: the answer was, the grant of a life-annuity of 500 ducats, (the half of his,) in the event of her surviving him, and this annuity, as I had occasion to know, (for I had some trouble with it,) was paid for a number of years. The injured King's finances being in a state less and less flourishing, I had every now and then to turn secretary in her name. Sometimes, I believe, it was to him that the letter was addressed; sometimes, to his above-mentioned nephew, who, if I do not forget, had a few debentures in our Irish Tontines, in which case, it must have been in the first class, bearing date the year 1773. When the King died, the arrear was considerable. Letters, one or more, from the King to her, on the occasion of the news of her husband's death, I

1

[ocr errors]

as C

« PreviousContinue »