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intervene to make his attendance possible; at all events to occasion his being retained by the other side.
Undoubtedly, a person with so many engagements must occasionally have found himself unable to perform some of them; but we know that when such an event unfortunately occurred, no party concerned was more distressed at it than himself. While preparing this sketch, we have been told of a case by a most respectable solicitor in which he had specially retained Sir William to conduct an important cause for him at the assizes. When the time arrived he was prevented by a family affliction from attending; but not only did he attend at a subsequent assize without a second fee, which was quite a matter of course, but he pressed upon his client, who had been vexatiously made to pay the costs of the day, the full amount thus paid, amounting to £400, which the client as peremptorily refused to accept. A fact like this is worth a thousand surmises, and puts them all to flight; but we may confidently add our belief, that the items of fees returned or refused, from kindness and other voluntary motives, would be found to form a much larger head in his books than persons unacquainted with such matters would readily imagine. In one half-year we believe he returned £800, and in the course of a few years £4000.
MR. JUSTICE WILLIAMS.
THE losses of our honoured profession are following in quick succession. After Sir William Follett had been taken from us, the tear for Chief Justice Tindal was not yet dried, when a yet more sudden fate deprived us of one of the most universally beloved members of the Law, one whose great and various accomplishments, and high station among the dignitaries of the Bench, are lost in the sentiment of regret for a man who may be truly said to have passed through life without a single enemy. Not that there was in him any indication of possessing the neutral, the unimportant character, the indiscriminate good nature, the general assentation which oftentimes makes middling men rather borne with than esteemed, and more liked than respected. No one had more clear and decided opinions than Mr. Justice Williams,-none ever thought more for himself, or acted more on his own convictions; few were less cautious in expressing an unpopular opinion, or took less care to conceal his unfavourable impressions of others, or was less disposed to tame down his expression of those sentiments, that they might be in harmony with those he was addressing. Far from affecting the character of Mr. Harmony, he was rather what might be called a good hater, but in the better sense of the phrase. For when he differed with you, he left no room to fancy he did so from the spirit of contradiction; and when he pronounced his condemnation of either a doctrine, or a person, or a class, there was no doubt that he did so conscientiously for the sake of truth, and not vainly from the love of singu
larity,—while in all he said, there prevailed a kindly nature, and appeared an honest purpose. Little won
der, then, is it if his society was most delightful, and his loss left a sad blank in the select circle he frequented. But we are anticipating in these reflections, which are drawn from us by the sensation produced by his sudden death, and our reference to the sorrow it occasioned.
Sir John Williams was born in January, 1777, and was consequently within a few months of completing his seventieth year, when he died. Bunbury, near Tarporley, in Cheshire, was the place of his birth. His father was rector of the place, and there were, before him, two generations of clergymen, the grandfather and great-grandfather of the Judge, and he, as might be expected, though free from all bigotry, was a person of religious character, and regarded the Established Church with deep veneration, though with not the least intolerance towards those who dissented from her doctrines or discipline.
He received his classical education at a very excellent seminary of an extensive description in Manchester, and would often talk with much satisfaction of the eminent merits of Mr. Wright, its head master, a man of great learning, and uncommon powers of teaching. "The lesser orations," (he would say with pride and pleasure), and then the Crown and the Embassy "we went through, and never turned our back upon a word or a phrase or an allusion,”—for, of course, none better than he knew that the great orator hardly ever uses an expression which is difficult; and yet the sense is to us so often difficult, that he may be pronounced one of the hardest of authors, inasmuch as a person shall give the meaning of each word separately, and yet be wholly unable to render the sense of the whole passage. The poets were attacked as unmercifully, and with equal success, as he himself has irrefragably proved by his exquisite verses. Under the tuition of this learned and honest teacher, he made the progress which it
might be expected a scholar of great ability, intense application, singularly strong desire to learn, would make under so excellent a master.
From this seminary he proceeded to Cambridge, and was entered of Trinity College. He there pursued his studies, took a good degree, and, on leaving the University, was called to the bar in 1804. He immediately chose the great circuit, the Northern, at that time under the lead of Serjeant Cockell, Mr. Park, and Mr. Topping; Mr. Scarlett and Mr. Raine being candidates for the succession should those leaders be promoted, or their health or their popularity fail. Mr. Williams brought with him the reputation of having diligently applied to pleading under Mr. John Atkinson, of Lincoln's Inn, who trained several good lawyers: he brought also the fame of a first-rate classical scholar. His admirable disposition soon ensured him the respect and esteem of all his fellows, and he very easily attained a fair share of practice. The Sessions which he attended were those of Manchester and Preston, a sessions greater in business than several of the circuits; and he attended them several years before Mr. Scarlett quitted them.
As no men more speedily or more surely ascertain each other's merits than the barristers, so it was soon found that he possessed abundantly some of the essential qualities which lead to success in our profession. He was a most diligent reader of his brief, never coming into court without the most perfect and most accurate knowledge of his case, nor ever turning to others, whether senior or junior, for supplying the defect of his own industry and care. He was most provident and circumspect in the conduct of a cause, whether he led or followed. He gave his whole mind to it, whatever was to be done. Quicquid agas id pro virili agere was his maxim, as he once cited it aloud in reference to a somewhat slipshod remark of the Judge (Mr. Justice Park), and in rebuke of that remark which had
very absurdly charged him with taking too much pains. The quotation produced a great effect on those who heard it, and was often afterwards in their mouths. His examination in chief was greatly and deservedly admired, for it visited every corner of the witness's knowledge, obtained from him all he could give, and threw on each part of the case whatever light might come from him. His cross-examination was also powerful; and in re-examination he restored and set up his witness well and judiciously, and without overdoing it so as to excite suspicion, and thus lend to an adverse interrogatory a force and weight which did not belong to it. His speeches were truly admirable, concise, forcible, elegant in diction, dictated by the most correct taste, formed upon the antique model with which no one was more familiarly acquainted. The feud arising out of the Queen's case long deprived him of the rank in his profession to which his merits and his practice entitled him; for Mr. Brougham having, by the Queen's death, lost his precedence as her Majesty's Attorney-General, Lord Eldon did not venture to continue his silk gown, for fear of displeasing the King, George IV. (a high-minded Sovereign, and very perfect gentleman), and therefore he was constrained to lead causes for six years without having along with him the eleven or twelve of the Circuit who were his seniors; and the result was, that all of them, except Mr. Serjeant Hullock and Mr. Williams, were thrown out of business, in order to gratify the very dignified spite of a great Sovereign, and save his Chancellor the ten minutes' annoyance of thwarting his royal caprice. The same reason operated against giving Mr. Williams his rank, for he, too, had been one of her Majesty's counsel. And, though the King might very possibly have had no objection to promote him, provided his leaders in that great cause (Messrs. Brougham and Denman) remained clothed in stuff gowns, that would have created too loud an outcry at the Bar for the