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that the Chief-Justice had at least pledged himself to the point.
“ Lord Mansfield, breaking down : ‘My Lords, I did not pledge myself to any particular point. I only said I should hereafter give my opinion. And as to fixing a day, I said, No, I will not fix a day.'”
“ The dismay and confusion of Lord Mansfield,” says Horace Walpole," was obvious to the whole audience; nor did one Peer interpose a syllable in his behalf.”
After this unfortunate fiasco, Lord Mansfield, for some time to come, took little if any part in the debates. Mr. Justice Bathurst was made Lord Chancellor, and Mansfield resigned his post as Speaker of the House of Lords.
In 1775, when the great struggle with the American colonies occupied the thought and energy of the nation, he received the leadership of his party, and became again the chief organ of the Government in the Upper House. We have already alluded to this part of his career, and pass from it with the remark that his services were highly esteemed by the King, who created him a Knight of the Thistle, and afterwards raised him to the dignity of Earl of Mansfield, with remainder to his nephew, Viscount Stormont, and his heirs. In 1777 he was called upon to try Horne Tooke for a libel written in opposition to the American War, and on this occasion he left to the jury not only the question of fact but of law, not only of publication but of criminality. Horne Tooke was found guilty. Mansfield was present in the House on the 7th of April, 1778—the day which witnessed the great Chatham's last appearance on the political stage. Who does not remember the scene- -the entrance of the aged statesman, “hanging upon two friends, lapped up
in flannel, pale and emaciated ”—those friends being his son, William Pitt, and his son-in-law, Lord Mahon. As he passed to his seat with slowness and difficulty, leaning on his crutches, the Peers all rose as a mark of respect. “Within his large wig, little more was to be seen than his aquiline nose and his penetrating eye. He looked like a dying man, yet never was seen a figure of more dignity.”
“I thank God,” he said, "that I have been enabled to come here this day to perform my duty, and to speak on a subject which has so deeply impressed my mind. I am old and infirm -have one foot, more than one foot, in the grave. I am risen from my bed, to stand up in the cause of my country-perhaps never again to speak in this House." He expressed his pleasure that he was still able to protest against the dismemberment of this ancient and most noble monarchy.
“My lords, his Majesty succeeded to an empire as great in extent as its reputation was unsullied. Shall we banish the lustre of this nation by an ignominious surrender of its rights and fairest possessions ? Shall this great kingdom, that has survived, whole and entire, the Danish depredations, the Scottish inroads”-and here he looked at Lord Mansfield" and the Norman Conquest ; that has stood the threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada, now fall prostrate before the House of Bourbon ? Surely, my lords, this nation is no longer what it was! Shall a people that, seventeen years ago, was the terror of the world, now stoop so low as to tell its ancient inveterate enemy, 'Take all we have, only give us peace?' It is impossible !
“I wage war," he continued, “with no man, or set of men. I wish for none of their employments; nor would I co-operate with men who still persist in unretracted error; or who, instead of acting on a firm decisive line of conduct, halt between two opinions, where there is no middle path. In God's name, if it is absolutely necessary to declare either for peace or war, and the former cannot be preserved with honour, why is not the latter commenced without hesitation ? I am not, I confess, well informed of the resources of this kingdom, but I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just rights, though I know them not. But, my lords, any state is better than despair! Let us at least make one effort; and if we must fall, let us fall like men.”
* Seward, “ Anecdotes," ii. 383.
The Duke of Richmond having replied, Chatham made an effort to speak again.
“He fell back npon his seat,” says Lord Camden, “and was to all appearance in the agonies of death. This threw the whole House into confusion. Every person rose upon his legs in a moment, hurrying from one place to another-some sending for assistance, others producing salts, and others reviving spirits; many crowding about the Earl to observe his countenance; all affected ; most part really unnerved; and even those who might have felt a secret pleasure at the accident, yet put on the appearance of distress, except only the Earl of Mansfield, who sat still, almost as much unmoved as the senseless body itself.”
In the “No Popery" riots of 1780, so vividly depicted by Charles Dickens in his “Barnaby Rudge,” Lord Mansfield was fated to be a signal sufferer.
His judicial decisions, conceived in the most enlightened spirit, had always acknowledged and protected the rights of conscience, and vindicated the liberties of the Protestant Dissenter as of the Roman Catholic. This wise tolerance excited the popular wrath. On the 6th of June, the so-called “Protestant Association," some 60,000 strong, after marching in procession through the City, swept into Palace Yard, and surrounded the Houses of Parliament. Owing to the illness of Thurlow, the Lord Chancellor, Mansfield had to preside that day as Speaker in the Upper Chamber. As he drove through Parliament Street he was recognised by the mob, who broke the windows of his carriage, and assailed him with shouts and execrations as a notorious Papist. With difficulty he reached the door, through which he passed into his retiring-room, and received the protection of the officers of the House against the rabble that pressed close upon his footsteps. With rent robes and dishevelled wig he proceeded to take his seat upon the woolsack, preserving his usual dignity and composure of mien. Other Peers had been still more grossly ill-treated. The Archbishop of York's lawn-sleeves were torn off and thrown in his face; the Bishop of Lincoln, his carriage having been broken in pieces, was carried fainting into a gentleman's house, whence, later on, he went away in disguise; Lords Stormont, Hillsborough, and Townshend had narrowly escaped with their lives; the Duke of Northumberland was forced out of his carriage, robbed of his watch and purse, and almost stripped of his clothes.
The day's business, however, was begun with the usual formalities, and the Duke of Richmond was speaking in support of a bill for annual parliaments and universal suffrage—an infelicitous measure to bring forth at such a crisis—when Lord Montford rushed in, besprinkled with mud and hair-powder, and broke into a torrent of agitated speech. The Duke of Richmond, offended at this interruption, appealed to the woolsack for protection, and Mansfield endeavoured to interfere; but Lord Montford claimed to be heard on a matter of life and death, asserting that Lord Boston, on his way to his duty as a Peer of Parliament, had been roughly handled, and would certainly be murdered if none hastened to his assistance. At this crisis the House presented an almost grotesque appearance. Some of their lordships moved restlessly about, with their hair loose upon their shoulders; others were bespattered with mud thrown by plebeian hands; most of them as pale as the Ghost in “ Havılet ;” and all of them greatly perturbed, and speaking loudly and together. One proposed to send for the Guards, another for the justices or civil magistrates ; many vociferated,
Adjourn ! Adjourn !;” while the skies resounded with the huzzas, shoutings, hootings, and hissings in Palace Yard.
Lord Townshend at last plucked up courage to volunteer, if joined by others, to attempt Lord Boston's
The Duke of Richmond was fired by his example, but suggested that if they went as “a band,” the mace ought to be carried before the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, and that he should go at their head—the conscript fathers of Great Britain, led by their consul, advancing to meet the plebs in all their dignity! Lord Mansfield did not lack physical courage, and expressed himself perfectly willing to take the post of honour—and danger—so courteously provided for him; but the Duke of Gloucester wisely disapproved of a device which would hardly have had other than fatal results. While the perplexed senators continued their discussion, in came Lord Boston, who, by skilfully engaging some of the leaders of the mob in a subtle argument on the question "whether the Pope really was AntiChrist," had contrived to effect his escape with no other damage than dishevelled hair and a considerable sprinkling of hair-powder over his clothes. Lord Mansfield