Blackstone, Sir William

, knight, and LL. D. an illustrious English lawyer, was born July 10, 1723, in Cheapside, in the parish of St. Michael-le-Querne, at the house of his father, Mr. Charles Blackstone, a silkman, and citizen and bowyer of London, who was the third son of Mr. John Blackstone, an eminent apothecary, in Newgate-street, descended from a family of that name in the west of England, at or near Salisbury. His mother was Mary, eldest daughter of Lovelace Bigg, esq. of Chilton Foliot, in Wiltshire. He was the youngest of four children, of whom, John died an infant, Charles, the eldest, and Henry, the third, were educated at Winchester-school, under the care of their uncle Dr. Bigg, warden of that society, and were afterwards both fellows of New college, Oxford. Charles became a fellow of Winchester, and rector of Wimering, in Hampshire; and Henry, after having practised physic for some years, went into holy orders, and died in 1778, rector of Adderbury, in Oxfordshire, a living in the gift of New-college. Their father died some months before the birth of the subject of this article, and their mother died before he was twelve years old. | from his birth, the care both of his education and fortune was kindly undertaken by his maternal uncle, Mr. Thomas Bigg, an eminent surgeon in London, and afterwards, on the death of his eldest brothers, owner of the Chilton estate, which, if we mistake not, is still enjoyed by that family. The affectionate care of this uncle, in giving all his nephews a liberal education, supplied the great loss they had so early sustained, and compensated, in a great degree, for their want of more ample fortunes, and it was always remembered by them with the sincerest gratitude. In 1730, being about seven years of age, he was put to school at the Charter-house, and in 1735 was, by the nomination of sir Robert Walpole, on the recommendation of Charles Wither, of Hall, in Hampshire, esq, his cousin by the mother’s side, admitted upon the foundation.

In this excellent seminary he applied himself to every branch of youthful education, with the same assiduity which accompanied his studies through life. His talents and industry rendered him the favourite of his masters, who encouraged and assisted him with the utmost attention; so that at the age of fifteen he was at the head of the school, and, although so young, was thought well qualified to be removed to the university and he was accordingly entered a commoner at Pembroke college, Oxford, ISov. 30, 1738, and was the next day matriculated. At this time he was elected to one of the Charter-house exhibitions, by the governors of that foundation, to commence from the Michaelmas preceding, but was permitted to continue a scholar there till after the 12th of December, being the anniversary commemoration of the founder, to give him an opportunity of speaking the customary oration, which he had prepared, and which did him much credit. About this time, also, he obtained Mr. Benson’s gold prize medal of Milton, for verses on that poet. Thus, before he quitted school, his genius received public marks of approbation and reward; and so well pleased was the society of Pembroke college with their young pupil, that, in the February following, they unanimously elected him to one of lady Holford’s exhibitions for Charter-house scholars in that house.

Here he prosecuted his studies with unremitting ardour, and, although the classics, and particularly the Greek and Roman poets, were his favourites, they did not entirely | engross his attention logic, mathematics, and the other sciences were not neglected. From the first of these, (studied rationally, abstracted from the jargon of the schools), he laid the foundation of that close method of reasoning for which he was so remarkable and from the mathematics, he not only reaped the b’iiiefit of using his mind to a close investigation of every subject that occurred to him, till he arrived at the degree of demonstration which the nature of it would admit, but converted that dry study, as it is usually thought, into an amusement, by pursuing the branch of it which relates to architecture. This science he was peculiarly fond of, and made himself so far master of it, that at the early age of twenty, he compiled a treatise entitled “Elements of Architecture,” intended for his own use only, and not for publication, but esteemed by those judges who have perused it, in no respect unworthy of his maturer judgment, and more exercised pen.

Having -determined on his future plan of life, and made choice of the law for his profession, he was entered in the Middle Temple, Nov. 20, 1741, and found it necessary to quit the more amusing pursuits of his youth for the severer studies to which he had dedicated himself, and betook himself seriously to reading law. His sensations on this occasion are admirably expressed in some verses since published in Dodsley’s poems, vol. IV. entitled “The Lawyer’s Farewell to his Muse,” in which the struggle of his mind is expressed so strongly, so naturally, with such elegance of language, and harmony of versification, as must convince every reader, that his passion for the muses was too deeply rooted to be laid aside without much reluctance and that if he had pursued that flowery path, he would not, perhaps, have proved inferior to the best of our modern poets. Several little fugitive pieces, besides this, have at times been communicated by him to his friends, and he left (but not with a view to publication) a small collection of juvenile pieces, both originals and translations, which do him no discredit, inscribed with this line, from Horace,

Nec lusisse pudet, sed non incidere ludum.

Some notes on Shakspeare, which just before his death he communicated to Mr. Malone, and which were inserted by him in his supplement to Johnson and Steevens’s edition of that author, shew how well he understood the meaning, Rs well as the beauties, of that, his favourite among the | English poets and we may mention likewise his elegant and acute defence of Addison, inserted in the life of that author, in the second edition of the Biographia Britannica.

In November 1743, he was elected into the society of All Souls college, and in the November following, he spoke the annual speech in commemoration of archbishop Chichele, the founder, and the other benefactors to that house of learning, and was admitted actual fellow. From this period he divided his time between the university and the Temple, where he took chambers in order to attend the courts: in the former he pursued his academical studies, and, on the 12th of June 1745, commenced B.C. L.; in the latter he applied himself closely to his profession, both in the half, and in his private studies, and on the 28th of November 1746, was called to the bar.

The first years of a counsel’s attendance on the courts afford little matter proper to be inserted in a narrative of this kind and he, in particular, not being happy in a graceful delivery, or a flow of elocution, (both of which he much wanted), nor having any powerful friends or connexions to recommend him, made his way very slowly, and acquired little notice and little practice yet he then began to lay in that store of knowledge in the law which he has since communicated to the world, and contracted an acquaintance with several of the most eminent men in that profession, who saw through the then intervening cloud, those talents which afterwards were exerted with so much splendour.

At Oxford his active mind had more room to display itself; and being elected into the office of Bursar, soon after he had taken his degree, and finding the muniments of the college in a confused, irregular state, he undertook and completed a thorough search, and a new arrangement, from whence that society reaped great advantage. He found also, in the execution of this office, the method of keeping accounts in use among the older colleges, though very exact, yet rather tedious and perplexed; he drew up, therefore, a dissertation on the subject, in which he entered into the whole theory, and elucidated every intricacy that might occur. A copy of this tract is still preserved, for the benefit of his successors in the Bursarship. But it was not merely the estates, muniments, and accounts of the college, about which he was usefully employed during his residence in that society. The Cpdrington, | library had for many years remained an unfinished building. He hastened the completion of it, rectified several mistakes in the architecture, and formed a new arrangement of the books under their respective classes.

The late duke of Wharton, who had engaged himself by bond to defray the expence of building the apartments between the library and common room, being obliged soon after to leave his country, and dying in very distressed circumstances, the discharge of this obligation was long despaired of. It happened, however, in a course of years, that his grace’s executors were enabled to pay his debts; when, by the care and activity of Mr. Blackstone, the building was completed, the college thereby enabled to make its demand, and the, whole benefaction recovered. In May 1749, as a small reward for his services, and to give him further opportunities of advancing the interests of the college, he was appointed steward of their manors and in the same year, on the resignation of his uncle Seymour Richmond, esq. he was elected recorder of the borough of Wallingford, in Berkshire, and received the king’s approbation on the 30th of May.

The 26th of April, 1750, he commenced doctor of civil law, and thereby became a member of the convocation which enabled him to extend his views beyond the narrow circle of his own society, to the general benefit of the university at large. In this year he published “An essay on Collateral Consanguinity,” relative to the claim made by such as could by a pedigree prove themselves of kin to the founder of All-Souls college, of being elected preferably to all others into that society. Those claims became now so numerous, that the college, with reason, complained of being frequently precluded from making choice of the most ingenious and deserving candidates. In this treatise, which was his first publication, he endeavoured to prove, that as the kindred to the founder, a Popish ecclesiastic, could be only collateral, the length of time elapsed since his death must, according to the rules both of the civil and canon law, have extinguished consanguinity; or that the whole race of mankind were equally founders’ kinsmen. This work, although it did not answer the end proposed, or convince the then visitor, yet did the author great credit; and shewed that he had read much, and well digested what he had read. And most probably, the arguments contained in, it had some weight with his Grace the late | archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Cornwallis, when about forty years ago, on application to him, as visitor of the college, he formed a new regulation, which gives general satisfaction, by limiting the number of founder’s kin; by which the inconvenience complained of was in a great measure removed, without annihilating a claim founded on the express words of the college statutes. In forming this new regulation, his Grace made choice of Mr. Blackstone as his common-law assessor, together with ’Dr. Hay the civilian.

After having attended the courts in Westminster-hall for seven years, and finding the profits of his profession very inadequate to the expence, in the summer of 1753, he determined to retire to his fellowship and an academical life, still continuing the practice of his profession, as a provincial counsel. He had previously planned, what he now began to execute, his “Lectures on the Laws of England,” a work which has so justly signalized his name. In the ensuing Michaelmas term he entered on his new province of reading these lectures; which, even at their commencement, such were the expectations formed from the acknowledged abilities of the lecturer, were attended by a very crowded class of young men of the first families, characters, and hopes. In July, 1755, he was appointed one of the delegates of the Clarendon press. On his entering on this office, he discovered many abuses which required correction; and much mismanagement which demanded new and effectual regulations. In order to obtain a thorough insight into the nature of both, he made himself master of the mechanical part of printing and to promote and complete a reform, he printed a letter on the subject, addressed to Dr. Randolph, then vice-chancellor. This and his other endeavours produced the desired effect; and he had the pleasure of seeing, within the course of a year, the reform he had proposed, carried into execution. About a year before this, he published “An Analysis of the Laws of England,” as a guide to those gentlemen who attended his lectures, on their first introduction to that study; in which he reduced that intricate science to a clear method, intelligible to the youngest student.

In 1757, on the death of Dr. Coxed, warden of Winchester, he was elected by the surviving visitors of Michel’s new foundation in Queen’s college into that body. This new situation afforded fresh matter for his active genius; | and it was chiefly by his means that this donation, which had been for some years contested, became a very valuable acquisition to the college, as well as an ornament to the university, by completing that handsome pile of building towards the High-street, which for many years had been little better than a confused heap of ruins. The engrafting a new set of fellows and scholars into an old established society could not be an easy task, and in the present instance was become more difficult, from the many unsuccessful attempts that had been made, all of which had only terminated in disputes between the members of the old and the visitors of the new foundation; yet under these circumstances Dr. Blackstone was not disheartened, but formed and pursued a plan, calculated to improve Mr. Michel’s original donation, without departing from his intention and had the pleasure to see it completed, entirely to the satisfaction of the members of the old foundation, and confirmed, together with a body of statutes he drew for the purpose, by act of parliament, in 1769.

Being engaged as counsel in the great contest for knights of the shire for the county of Oxford in 1754-, he very accurately considered a question then much agitated, whether copyholders of a certain nature had a right to vote in county elections? He afterwards reduced his thoughts on that subject into a small treatise; and was prevailed on by sir Charles Mordaunt, and other members of parliament, who had brought in a bill to decide that controverted point, to publish it in March 175H, under the title of “Considerations on Copyholders.” And the bill soon after received the sanction of the legislature, and passed into a law.

Mr. Viner having by his will left not only the copy-right of his abridgement, but other property to a considerable amount, to the university of Oxford, to found a professorship, fellowships, and scholarships of common law, he was on the 20th of October, 1758, unanimously elected Vinerian professor; and on the 25th of the same month read his first introductory lecture; one of the most elegant and admired compositions which any age or country ever produced this he published at the request of the vice-chancellor and heads of houses, and afterwards prefixed to the first volume of his Commentaries. His lectures had now gained such universal applause, that he was requested by a noble personage, who superintended the education of our | present sovereign, then prince of Wales, to read them to his royal highness; but as he was at that time engaged to a numerous class of pupils in the university, he thought he could not, consistently with that engagement, comply with this request, and therefore declined it. But he transmitted copies of many of them for the perusal of his royal highness who, far from being offended at an excuse grounded on so honourable a motive, was pleased to order a handsome gratuity to be presented to him.

In 1759 he published two small pieces merely relative to the university the one entitled, “Reflections on the opinions of Messrs. Pratt, Morton, and Wilbraham, relating to lord Litch field’s Disqualification,” who was then a candidate for the chancellorship the other, “A Case for the opinioji of counsel on the right of the University to make New Statutes.

Having now established a reputation by his lectures, which he justly thought might entitle him to some particular notice at the bar, in June 1759, he bought chambers in the Temple, resigned the office of assessor of the vicechancellor’s court, which he had held about six years, and soon after the stewardship of All-Souls college; and in Michaelmas term, 1759, resumed his attendance at Westminster, still continuing to pass some part of the year at Oxford, and to read his lectures there, at such times as did not interfere with the London terms. The year before this he declined the honour of the coif, which he was pressed to accept of by lord chief justice Willes and Mr. justice (afterwards earl) Bathurst.

In November 1759, he published a new edition of the Great Charter, and Charter of the Forest; which added much to his former reputation, not only as ‘a great lawyer, but as an accurate antiquary, and an able historian. It must also be added, that the external beauties in the printing, the types, &c. reflected no small honour on him, as the principal reformer of the Clarendon press, from whence no work had ever before issued, equal in those particulars to this. This publication drew him into a short controversy with the late Dr. Lyttelton, then dean of Exeter, and afterwards bishop of Carlisle. The dean, to assist Mr. Blackstone in his publication, had favoured him with the collation of a very curious ancient roll, containing both the Great Charter, and that of the Forest, of the 9th of Henry III. which he and many of his friends judged to be an | original. The editor of the Charters, however, thought otherwise, and excused himself (in a note in hjs introduction) for having made no use of its various readings, “as the plan of his edition was confined to charters which had passed the great seal, or else to authentic entries and enrolments of record, under neither of which classes the roll in question could be ranked.” The dean, upon this, concerned for the credit of his roll, presented to the Society of Antiquaries a vindication of its authenticity, dated June the 8th, 1761 and Mr. Blackstone delivered in an answer to the same learned body, dated May the 28th, 1762, alleging, as an excuse for the trouble he gave them, “that he should think himself wanting in that respect which he owed to the society, and Dr. Lyttelton, if he did not either own and correct his mistakes, in the octavo edition then preparing for the press, or subijiit to the society’s judgment the reasons at large upon which his suspicions were founded.” These reasons, we may suppose, were convincing, for here the dispute ended .*

*

It may be here mentioned, that, as an antiquary, and a member of this society, into which he was admitted February the 5tb, 1761, he wrote “A Letter to the hon. Daines Barrington, describing an antique Seal, with some observations on its original, and the two successive controversies which the disuse of it afterwards occasioned.” This seal, haviug the royal arms of England on it, was one of those which all persons having the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction were obliged by the statute of the 1st of Ed. VI. ch. ’2, to make use of. This letter is printed in the third volume of the Archaeologia but his discussion of the merits of the Lyttelton roll, though containing much good criticism; has not yet been made public.

About the same time he also published a small treatise on the Law of Descents in Fee Simple.

A dissolution of parliament having taken place, he was in March 1761, returned burgess for Hindon, in Wiltshire, and on the 6th of May following had a patent of precedence granted him to rank as king’s counsel, having a few months before declined the office of chief justice of the court of common pleas in Ireland.

Finding himself not deceived in his expectations in respect to an increase of business in his profession, he now determined to settle in life, and on the 5th of May, 1761, he married Sarah the eldest surviving daughter of the late James Clitherow, of Boston-house, in the county of Middlesex, esq. with whom he passed near nineteen years in the enjoyment of the purest domestic and conjugal felicity, for which no man was better calculated, and which, he used often to declare, was the happiest part of his life by her | he had nine children, the eldest and youngest of whom died infants seven survived him viz. Henry, James,*

*

Now principal of New Inn hall, assessor to the vice-chancellor, and deputy Steward.

William, Charles, Sarah, Mary, and Philippa the eldest not much above the age of 16 at his death.

His marriage having vacated his fellowship at All- Souls, he was, on the 28th of July 1761, appointed by the earl of Westmoreland, at that time chancellor of Oxford, principal of New-inn hall. This was ah agreeable residence during the time his lectures required him to be in Oxford, and was attended with this additional pleasing circumstance, that it gave him rank, as the head of an house in the university, and enabled him, by that means, to continue to promote whatever occurred to him, that might be useful and beneficial to that learned body. An attempt being made about this time to restrain the power given him, as professor, by the Vinerian statutes, to nominate a deputy to read the solemn lectures, he published a state of the case for the perusal of the members of convocation upon which it was dropped.

In the following year, 1762, he collected and republished several of his pieces, under the title of “Law Tracts,” in 2 vols. 8vo. In 1763, on the establishment of the queen’s family, Mr. Blackstone was appointed solicitor general to her majesty, and was chosen about the same time a bencher of the Middle Temple.

Many imperfect and incorrect copies of his lectures having by this time got abroad, and a pirated edition of them being either published, or preparing for publication in Ireland, he found himself under the necessity of printing a correct edition himself; and in November, 1765, published the first volume, under the title of “Commentaries on the Laws of England,” and in the course of the four succeeding years the other three volumes, which completed a work that will transmit his name to posterity among the first class of English authors, and will be universally read and admired, as long as the laws, the constitution, and the language of this country remain. Two circumstances respecting this great work, omitted by his biographer, we are enabled to add from unquestionable authority. So anxious was he that this work should appear with every possible advantage, that he printed three copies of the first | volume, which he sent to three learned friends, for their opinion. The other circumstance does honour to his liberality. After reserving the copy-right in his own hands for some years, he disposed of it to Messrs. Strahan and Cadell for a considerable sum, but as, immediately after concluding the bargain, the decision passed the house of lords, which depreciated literary property, he offered Messrs. Strahan and Cadell, to cancel the agreement, and substitute another, by which he thought they would be less injured. These gentlemen, however, met his proposition with a corresponding liberality, and the original bargain stood; and every reader will be glad to hear thatthey were no losers, the work soon becoming, and yet remaining, in every sense, an English classic.

In 1766, he resigned, the Vinerian professorship, and the principality of New-inn hall finding he could not discharge the personal duties of the former, consistently with his professional attendance in London, or the delicacy of his feelings as an honest man. Thus was he detached from Oxford, to the inexpressible loss of that university, and the great regret of all those who wished well to the establishment of the study of the law therein. When he first turned his views towards the Vinerian professorship, he had formed a design of settling in Oxford for life he had flattered himself, that by annexing the office of professor to the principality of one of the halls (and perhaps converting it into a college), and placing Mr. Viner’s fellows and scholars under their professor, a society might be established for students of the common law, -similar to that of Trinity hall in Cambridge for civilians. Mr. Viner’s will very much favoured this plan. He leaves to the university “all his personal estate, books, &c. for the constituting, establishing, and endowing one or more fellowship or fellowships, and scholarship or scholarships, in any college or hall in the said university, as to the convocation shall be thought most proper for students of the common law.” But notwithstanding this plain direction to establish them in some college or hall, the clause from the delegates which ratified this designation, had the fate to be rejected by a negative in convocation.

In the new parliament chosen in 1768 he was returned burgess for Westbury in Wiltshire. In the course of this parliament, the question, “W 7 hether a member expelled was, or was not, eligible in the same parliament,” was | frequently agitated in the house with much warmth and what fell from him in a debate being deemed by some persons contradictory to what he had advanced on the same subject in his Commentaries, he was attacked with much asperity, in a pamphlet supposed to be written by a baronet, a member of that house. To this charge he gave an early reply in print. In the same year, Dr. Priestley animadverted on some positions in the same work, relative to offences against the doctrine of the established church, to which he published an answer.

Mr. Blackstone’s reputation as a great andable lawyer was now so thoroughly established, that had he been possessed of a constitution equal to the fatigues attending the most extensive business of the profession, he might probably have obtained its most lucrative emoluments and highest offices. The offer of the solicitor generalship, on the resignation of Mr. Dunning, in Jan. 1770, opened the most flattering prospects to his view. But the attendance on its complicated duties at the bar, and in the house of commons, induced him to refuse it. But though he declined this path, which so certainly, with abilities like Mr. Blackstone’s, leads to the highest dignities in the law, yet he readily accepted the office of judge of the common pleas, when offered to him on the resignation of Mr. Justice Clive; to which he was appointed on the 9th of February 1770. Previous however to the passing his patent, Mr. Justice Yates expressed an earnest wish to remove from the king’s bench to the court of common pleas. To this wish Mr. Blackstone, from motives of personal esteem, consented but on his death, which happened between the ensuing Easter and Trinity terms, Mr. Blackstone was appointed to his original destination in the common pleas; and on his promotion to the bench, he resigned the recordership of Wallingford.

He seemed now arrived at the point he always wished for, and might justly be said to enjoy “otium cum dignitate.” Freed from the attendance at the bar, and what he had still a greater aversion to, in the senate, “where (to use his own expression) amid the rage of contending parties, a man of moderation must expect to meet with no quarter from any side,” although he diligently and conscientiously atcended the duties of the high office he was now placed in, yet the leisure afforded by the legal vacations he dedicated to the private duties of life, which, as | the father of a numerous family, he now found himself called upon to exercise, or to literary retirement, and the society of his friends, at his villa, called Priory-place, in Wallingford which he purchased soon after his marriage, though he had for some years before occasionally resided at it. His connection with this town, both from his office of recorder, and his more or less frequent residence there, 'from about 1750, led him to form and promote every plan which could contribute to its benefit or improvement. To his activity it stands indebted for two new turnpike roads through the town; the one opening a communication, by means of a new bridge over the Thames at Shillingford, between Oxford and Reading the other to Wantage through the vale of Berkshire. He was indeed always a great promoter of the improvement of public roads: the new western road over Botley Causeway was projected, and the plan of it entirely conducted by him. He was the more earnest in this design, not merely as a work of general utility and ornament, but as a solid improvement to the estate of a nobleman, in settling whose affairs he had been most laboriously and beneficially employed. To his architectural talents, also, his liberal disposition, his judicious zeal, and his numerous friends, Wallingford owes the rebuilding that handsome fabric, St. Peter’s church. These were his employments in retirement; in London his active mind was never idle, and when not occupied in the duties of his station, he was ever engaged in some scheme of publifc utility. The last of this kind in which, he was concerned, was the act of parliament for providing detached houses of hard labour for convicts, as a substitute for transportation. Of this scheme we have just given some account in the life of Blackburn the architect. It has been put in practice in several counties, but the question as to the beneficial effects of solitary confinement, although frequently agitated, has not been so completely decided as to obviate many objections which have been lately offered.

It ought not to be omitted, that the last augmentation of the judges’ salaries, calculated to make up the deficiencies occasioned by the heavy taxes they are subject to, and thereby render them more independent, was obtained in a great measure by his industry and attention.

In this useful and agreeable manner he passed the last ten years of his life j but not without many interruptions | Ly illness. His constitution, hurt by the studious midnight labours of his younger days, and an unhappy aversion he always had to exercise, grew daily worse not only the gout, with which he was frequently, though not very severely, visited from 1759, but a nervous disorder also, that frequently brought on a giddiness or vertigo, added to a corpulency of body, rendered him still more unactive than, he used to be, and contributed to the breaking up of his constitution at an early period of life. About Christmas 1779 he was seized with a violent shortness of breath, which the faculty apprehended was occasioned by a dropsical habit, and water on the chest. By the application of proper remedies that effect of his disorder was soon removed, but the cause was not eradicated for on his coming up to town to attend Hilary term, he was seized with afresh attack, chiefly in his head, which brought on a drowsiness and stupor, and baffled all the art of medicine the disorder increasing so rapidly, that he became at last for some days almost totally insensible, and expired on the 14th of Feb. 1780, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

A few weeks before he died, he was applied to by the trustees for executing the will of the late sir George Downing, bart. who had bequeathed a large estate for the endowing a new college in Cambridge, to give his assistance in forming a proper plan for this society, and framing a body of statutes for its regulation. This was a task to which his abilities were peculiarly adapted and it may be difficult to determine, whether the application reflected more, honour on the trustees, or on him. He had mentioned to some of his most intimate friends, his undertaking this business with great pleasure, and seemed to promise himself much satisfaction in the amusement it would afford him but, alas his disorder was then coming on with such hasty strides, that before any thing could be done in it, death put an end to this and all his labours, and left the university of Cambridge, as well as that of Oxford, to lament the loss of Mr. Justice Blackstone. He was buried, by his own direction, in a vault he had built for his family, inliis parish church of St. Peter’s in Wallingford. His neighbour And friend Dr. Barrington, bishop of Landaff, now of Durham, at his own particular request, performed the funeral service, as a public testimony of his personal regard and highest esteem.

In his public line of life he approved himself an able; | upright, impartial judge perfectly acquainted with the laws of the country, and making them the invariable rule of his conduct. As a senator, he was averse to party violence, and moderate in his sentiments. Not only in parliament, but at all times, and on all occasions, he was a firm supporter of the true principles of our happy constitution in church and state on the real merits of which few men were so well qualified to decide. He was ever an active and judicious promoter of whatever he thought useful or advantageous to the public in general, or to any particular society or neighbourhood he was connected with; and having not only a sound judgment, but the clearest ideas, and the most analytical head that any man, perhaps, was ever blessed with; these qualifications, joined to an unremitting perseverance in pursuing whatever he thought right, enabled him to cany many beneficial plans into execution, which probably would have failed, if they had been attempted by other men.

He was a believer in the great truths of Christianity, from a thorough investigation of its evidence: attached to the church of England from conviction of its excellence, his principles were those of its genuine members, enlarged and tolerant. His religion was pure and unaffected, and his attendance on its public duties regular, and those duties always performed with seriousness and devotion.

His professional abilities need not be dwelt upon. They will be universally acknowledged and admired, as long as his works shall be read, or, in other words, as long as the municipal laws of this country shall remain an object of study and practice and though his works will only hold forth to future generations his knowledge of the law, and his talents as a writer, there was hardly any branch of literature he was unacquainted with. He ever employed much time in reading, and whatever he had read and once digested, he never forgot. He was an excellent manager of his time and although so much of it was spent in an application to books, and the employment of his pen, yet this was done without the parade or ostentation of being a hard student. It was observed of him, during his residence at college, that his studies never appeared to break in upon the common business of life, or the innocent amusements of society; for the latter of which few men were better calculated, being possessed of the happy faculty of making iis own company agreeable and instructive, whilst he | enjoyed, without reserve, the society of others. Melancthon himself could not have been more rigid in observing the hour and minute of an appointment. During the years in which he read his lectures at Oxford, it could not be remembered that he had ever kept his audience waiting for him, even for a few minutes. As he valued his own time, he was extremely careful not to be instrumental in squandering or trifling away that of others, who, he hoped, might have as much regard for theirs, as he had for his. Indeed, punctuality was in his opinion so much a virtue, that he could not bring himself to think favourably of any who were notoriously defective in it.

The virtues of his private character, less conspicuous in their nature, and consequently less generally known, endeared him to those he was more intimately connected with, and who saw him in the more retired scenes of life. He was, notwithstanding his contracted brow (owing in a great measure to his being very near-sighted), a cheerful, agreeable, and facetious companion. He was a faithful friend, an affectionate husband and parent, and a charitable benefactor to the poor *, possessed of generosity, without affectation, bounded by prudence and ceconomy. The constant accurate knowledge he had of his income and expences (the consequence of uncommon regularity in his accounts) enabled him. to avoid the opposite extremes of meanness and profusion.

Being himself strict in the exercise of every public and private duty, he expected the same attention to both in others and, when disappointed in his expectations, was apt to animadvert with some degree of severity on those who, in his estimate of duty, seemed to deserve it. This rigid sense of obligation, added to a certain irritability of temper, derived from nature, and increased in his latter years by a strong nervous affection, together with his countenance and figure, conveyed an idea of sternness, which occasioned the unmerited imputation, among those who did not know him, of ill-nature but he had a heart as benevolent and as feeling as man ever possessed. A natural reserve and diffidence which accompanied him from his earliest youth, and which he could never shake off, appeared to a casual observer, though it was only appearance, like pride especially after he became a judge, when he thought it his duty to keep strictly up to forms (which, as he was wont to observe, are now too much laid aside), and | not to lessen the respect due to the dignity and gravity of his office, by any outward levity of behaviour.

For this excellent memoir of Judge Blackstone, we are indebted to the Preface prefixed to his “Reports,1780, 2 vols. folio, written by James Clitherow, esq. his brother-­in-law. For its length no apology can be necessary, for Blackstone may justly be ranked among the illustrious characters of the eighteenth century, and as possessing a claim to permanent reputation which it will not be easy to lessen. It was not long after his death, before the sons of Oxford paid the honours due to the memory of so eminent a scholar and benefactor. In 1781, a portrait was presented to the picture-gallery, by R. Woodeson, D. C. L. professor; T. Milles, B. C. L.; T. Plumer, A. M.; and H. Addington, A. M. (now lord Sidmouth), scholars upon Viuer’s foundation: and in 1784, by the liberality of Dr. Buckler, and a few other members of All Souls, a beautiful statue, by Bacon, was erected in the hall of that college, and may be considered as one of its most striking ornaments. His arms are likewise in one of the north windows of the elegant chapel of All Souls.1

1

From Memoirs as above.—In 1782, a strange, rambling Life of Sir W. Blackstone, appeared in an 8vo volume, remarkable only for captious remarks.