Memoirs of James Robert Hope-Scott, Volume 2
by Robert Ornsby
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It is almost superfluous to say that Mr. Hope-Scott never exceeded the legitimate bounds of forensic debate. All litigated questions, and especially this species of private legislation, have two sides, and it is the business of an advocate to present in the most favourable light the cause which he is retained to defend. Deliberate sophistry is as culpable as false relations of fact; but completeness or judicial impartiality belongs to the tribunal, and not to the representative of the litigant. When all moral scruples have been allowed their full weight, the qualifications of a great advocate are almost exclusively intellectual. It is to this part of Mr. Hope-Scott's character that I have strictly endeavoured to confine myself. It is probable that an attempt to analyse a distinct personal impression may have produced but a vague result. I have little doubt that, although Mr. Hope-Scott was almost unequalled in professional ability, his real life lay outside his occupation as an advocate. The grounds of the affection and admiration with which he is remembered by his family and his nearest friends have but a remote connection with the faculties and accomplishments which I have endeavoured to describe.

Another friend (Mr. H. L. Cameron), who had continual opportunities, from about the year 1859, of observing Mr. Hope-Scott's character in its professional aspect, furnishes some very interesting reminiscences, on a part of which, however, it may be worth while to observe that the versatility and pliability of intellect which the writer so well describes in Mr. Hope-Scott is no doubt more or less common to every great barrister, and is a habit to which all who are actively engaged in the profession are obliged to train their minds as they can. Still, it is equally certain that Mr. Hope-Scott possessed this faculty in an uncommon degree; and, in order to form a complete idea of him as he appeared in the eyes of his contemporaries, as well as to understand the relations of one part of his character to another, it is necessary to draw these features in considerable detail. After noticing particularly a very pleasing trait in Mr. Hope-Scott's demeanour as a leading counsel, shown in the kindness and tact with which, in consultation, he took care to prevent the inexperience or ignorance of his juniors being made apparent, and sought rather to ask them questions on points which they were likely to know something about, Mr. Cameron continues as follows:—


What made Mr. Hope-Scott so much loved by all who were brought into contact with him was his great amiability, thorough kindness of heart: his care was always not to hurt or wound another's feelings; and even in the heat of debate, and under great provocation, I never heard him utter an unkind word, or put a harsh construction on the conduct of any one, even an adversary.

As regards his talents, they are so universally known and admitted, that I can say very little you have not heard already. Westminster has rarely— never certainly in later years—heard such an advocate. The secret of his great success at the bar, beyond his intellectual power, lay, I think, in a peculiar charm and fascination of manner—a manner which could invest the driest and most technical matters with interest, and compelled the attention of the hearers to the subject under discussion. The melody of his voice was, to me, one of his greatest attractions. Then, again, what a noble presence! and that goes a long way at the Bar. I can look back, and see now, as he used to walk into his room to attend some consultation, how vigorous, handsome, and stately he always appeared, bringing the force of his powerful intellect at once to bear upon the subject under consideration, doing all in such a genial manner, without any attempt at showing his mental superiority to those around him.

In those busy times he would perhaps be engaged in twenty different cases on the same day; the competition to engage him was most keen: it was almost the first thing one thought about when clients came to consult upon a new scheme. He would go from one committee to another, by some extraordinary means always being at the place where he was most needed. It was marvellous how he kept all these matters distinct in his brain; he was never in confusion or at fault. In one room he would open a case, say an Improvement Bill, with a brilliant speech setting forth all its merits, a speech which would probably immediately impress the committee and carry the case, whatever after arguments might be urged against it, or speeches made by other counsel. Then he would go into another room, and cross-examine a skilled witness in a railway case, showing his intimate knowledge of engineering, and beating the witness perhaps on his own ground. Then he would take an Irish case, or a Gas and Water Bill, or landowner's case, whose property was about to be intersected, a ratepayer's, a carrier's, each case being thoroughly gone into, and thoroughly mastered and understood. After all this, and late in the day, when any one else would have felt fatigued and exhausted, in mind at any rate, if not in body, he would go into a room where an inquiry had been going on perhaps for weeks, and reply on the whole evidence. Those who know what labour this entails can alone appreciate such a capability.

No one at the bar whom I have ever heard reasoned with such perfect lucidity. He would explain a case which his client the solicitor would have wrapped up in fifty or sixty brief sheets, and involved in as much obscurity as it were well possible, to a committee in a few minutes; and I have often thought his clients never understood their own cases until he had explained them. It was wonderful how he could make a committee (sometimes composed of by no means the highest specimens of mankind) understand a case; and his persuasive power with those tribunals was also marvellous.

One word more on his character in his business life, and that is as to his entire conscientiousness. No case did he ever consider insignificant or beneath his notice. He gave the same attention to the humblest client that he would to a duke. He never left anything he had to do half done: his work was thorough, complete, good. Time, which he considered his client's, was never wasted; and to enable him to get through his work he would rise at four or five o'clock in the morning, and he would be engaged either getting up a case, attending consultations, or in committee until five or six o'clock in the evening. His life was an exact fulfilment of that precept, 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' [Footnote: Mr. H.L. Cameron. Letter to Miss Hope, October 28,1877.] To what has now been expressed by critics so competent, I shall add the only passage which I have been able to discover, in which Mr. Hope-Scott has left on record any opinion relating to himself in connection with his professional experience in an intellectual point of view. In pleading before the Select Committee of the Lords, on behalf of Eton College, on the Public School Bill of 1865, after stating his objection to the notion of such subjects as natural philosophy playing so very large a part in early education as some persons would have them do, he goes on to say:—

I, if I may venture here to speak of myself, have observed enough in a life which has been tolerably devoted to business to know this, that the possession of knowledge upon any one subject is worthless compared to the possession of a power of using it when you have got it. My Lords, in my profession, though not in my part of it, there are many men who will take up a patent case, or a mining case, without the slightest previous knowledge of the natural sciences relating to it, and who will make statements to a jury which the scientific men at hand will stand aghast at; what does that mean? It means that they have been so trained in the acquisition of knowledge when presented to them, that it becomes to them a mere matter of get-up, in many instances, to acquire an amount of knowledge which would absolutely electrify many a learned society. [Footnote: Min. Evid. Sel. Com. Public Sch. B. p. 209.]

Notwithstanding the qualification under which Mr. Hope-Scott here speaks, it will be seen from a case I shall presently cite (the 'Caledonian Railway,' p. 110) that he describes a faculty he was of course aware that he himself possessed. He said, I believe, in conversation, that there was hardly any subject which he had not had occasion to look up in his profession, and this was one of the reasons which made him so fond of it.

It will perhaps give pleasure to those whose affection for Mr. Hope-Scott's memory has suggested this record, if I note down some particulars of his daily round of occupations during the most active period of his life, principally supplied me (with other interesting details) by the kindness of Mr. John Q. Dunn, who, from the year 1859 until the end, was Mr. Hope- Scott's confidential clerk, continually about him in the most unreserved trust, made out his daily agenda, and was intimately acquainted with all his habits and ways.

Mr. Hope-Scott rose early, between five and six o'clock, made his coffee, and then went through his devotions, a black ebony crucifix, with the figure of our Lord in brass, on the table before him. Wherever he went he had this carried with him. [Footnote: This particular crucifix, however, was only used by Mr. Hope-Scott after his first wife's death. It was the one which she held in her hands when dying.] His next employment was his brief, which he read with great rapidity, [Footnote: 'Bellasis says you never read even a brief, but divine its contents in half the time required.'—Bishop Grant to Mr. Hope-Scott, November 19, 1852.] making notes as he went on. This lasted till about eight, when he dressed and breakfasted. He then drove from his private residence, or from Norfolk House, to attend consultations in Chambers at 9.30. Each consultation lasted five or ten minutes, sometimes fifteen, never more, until eleven o'clock, not a minute being wasted. Public business then commenced, in the Lords at eleven, in the Commons at twelve. His papers having been taken over to the various committee-rooms, he would go from room to room, making a speech here, or cross-examining witnesses there, as the occasion might require, throughout the day. He was always cool and business-like, never in the slightest degree flurried. This, which was only due to his immense self-control, made people imagine that the work was excessively easy to him. Business before the committees lasted till four, when the bags were collected (which were a porter's load); and in Chambers another series of cases ensued, from four to five or six. In the intervals of business he would dictate, with surprising exactness and calmness, letters on his private affairs, such as the management of his Highland estate—minute directions for painting outhouses it might be, or the like small matters. At six he went home in a cab, tired and exhausted; dinner followed, after which he invariably went to sleep for two hours, waking up about ten, when he read his prayers. He commonly slept sound, and got up next morning bright and fresh. Clients sometimes came as early as six or seven, and had undivided attention for three-quarters of an hour: these audiences amounted, in fact, to fresh verbal briefs, but were never charged for, as the arrangement was made for his own convenience.

On first undertaking to write this memoir, the idea naturally suggested itself whether it might not be possible to give something like a connected history of Mr. Hope-Scott's practice at the bar, especially considering the great social interest of the whole subject of railway construction in these countries, of which it really forms part. But I was assured by those thoroughly conversant with the matter, that such a task was not to be thought of. Legal arguments, occupying many hours for days together, however extraordinary they no doubt were as efforts of talent, and however important to those concerned at the time, who, perhaps, might be seen expecting, with white faces, the long-pending decision of committees for or against them, cannot, after the lapse of a generation, nay, after a far shorter interval than that, be even understood without an amount of labour which few would be inclined to devote to them. It may, indeed, be said that railway law is the creation of such great advocates as Mr. Hope-Scott, who reigned supreme in their own province at the time of its formation; and no doubt suggestions of counsel may have been adopted into law. But how to assign to each his share in the mighty structure? or guess to whom any particular change may have been due? It would at all events be the office, not of the biographer, but of the historian of jurisprudence. I shall nevertheless so far venture to deviate from the advice to which I have referred as to notice five or six cases, not as being in every instance of special and remembered celebrity, but merely as specimens of the kind of practice in which Mr. Hope was engaged. Two of these will also give me the opportunity of quoting some clever articles from the contemporary newspaper press, serving to show what the opinion about Mr. Hope-Scott was at the time, as the criticisms of his professional friends already given convey to us a distinct idea of the impression which he produced on his brethren of the Bar. I take first a case in which the Caledonian Railway Company were concerned, as it is very clearly and concisely explained by Mr. Hercules Robertson (better known as Lord Benholme, his title as Lord of Session), one of the counsel associated in it with Mr. Hope-Scott, in a letter which has been kindly communicated to me:—

1. The Caledonian Railway.—'We were associated together as counsel for the Caledonian Railway Company in supporting several important bills upon Parliamentary committees, involving difficulties of no ordinary magnitude. One very important object that Company had to attain was leave to alter their entrance into Glasgow by lowering their access by many feet of perpendicular elevation. Their bill proposed to effect this by a tunnel which had to be interposed between the canal above, on the surface, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway beneath. Our tunnel had to pass between these hostile undertakings just at the point where the former of these lay above the other with a very scanty space between. The difficulty was to induce the committee to believe that the thing was possible—that it was in the power of engineering to thread a way for the Caledonian Railway so as not to bring down the water of the canal on the one hand, or to break into the other railway by destroying its roof on the other. Mr. Hope-Scott had a power of persuasion that owed its efficacy not more to his commanding talents than to his straightforward ways and his honest and candid manner, which seemed to afford a satisfactory pledge that he would not seriously and anxiously advocate anything that was not true and possible. By his powerful assistance the Caledonian Company carried their bill, and in the course of the proceedings I had a full opportunity of estimating the elements of success in Mr. Hope-Scott's career which made him one of the most popular of Parliamentary counsel. I need hardly say that his kindness and courtesy to myself were all that I could expect or wish from one with whom I was otherwise so closely connected.—H. J. RORBETSON.'

2. Award by Mr. Hope-Scott and Mr. R. Stephenson.—In 1852 Mr. Hope- Scott was associated with Mr. Robert Stephenson, the celebrated engineer, in making an important award upon certain questions in difference between the London and North-Western and North Staffordshire Railway Companies. This document, dated October 6, 1852, appears in the newspapers of the day; but either to quote from or analyse it would not be of the slightest interest to my readers. A letter of Mr. R. Stephenson's to Mr. Hope-Scott on some private business of later date is of more value for our purposes as showing the opinion which this great engineer had formed of Mr. Hope-Scott in his own field, and also that these two remarkable men were by that time on the terms of intimacy that might be expected where minds of such calibre, and so capable of understanding each other, met in the conduct of affairs.

Robert Stephenson, Esq., C.E. to J. R. Hope-Scott, Esq., Q.C.

24 Great George Street: 2 Feb. 1855.

My dear Hope-Scott,—I have a sketch, in hand for your bridge. Your specification is excellent. I know what you want exactly. If I had not finished my engineering career, I should certainly have been jealous of your powers of specification. I do not know that it is sufficient to base a contract upon that would hold water in law; nevertheless, it is sufficient for me. I cannot offhand state the cost; but when the sketch and estimate are made, you shall see them; and if the cost exceeds your views, there will be no harm done; on the contrary, I shall have had the pleasure of scheming a little for you by way of pastime.

Yours faithfully,


James Hope-Scott, Esq.

3. The Mersey Conservancy and Docks Bill.—The speeches delivered by Mr. Hope-Scott in this case (June 23 and 24,1857) on behalf of the Corporation of Liverpool against the Mersey Docks and Conservancy Bill, were considered as among his greatest forensic efforts. His engagement in it was originally due to an accident, the brief having been given in the first instance to Mr. Plunkett, in whose chambers, as already mentioned. Mr. Hope had been a pupil. Mr. Plunkett having been prevented by illness from taking the brief, it was placed in the hands of Mr. Hope-Scott, who made a brilliant use of the opportunity. To place the reader in possession of the main question, it may be sufficient to state that the object of the Bill was to consolidate the Liverpool and Birkenhead Docks into one estate, so as to vest the whole superintendence of the Mersey in one body, principally elected by the Docks Ratepayers for the time being. This was felt by the Corporation of Liverpool as an unjust interference with their local rights, and the case is argued by Mr. Hope-Scott (when he comes upon general grounds) as one in which the commercial was being sacrificed to the jealousy of the manufacturing interest, and the principle of local government to that of centralisation. The reasonings as to matters of fact and business which make up the great bulk of these speeches are quite outside of our range, which can only deal with that which is more popular and rhetorical. Two specimens in the latter style I venture to quote—one of them appearing an excellent example of the genial humour he knew so well how to throw around the driest of arguments; the other a highly coloured view of the history and position of Liverpool in the commercial world, and of the danger of disturbing it in obedience to the clamour of its manufacturing rivals. The treatment of the subject rather reminds us of Burke's manner, and it is easy to see that Mr. Hope-Scott's own political feelings, always constitutionally conservative, would here assist his eloquence, as, in a far higher degree, the same sympathies had added splendour to his early display before the House of Lords. In the case before us it is hardly necessary to say that millions of money were concerned. An exciting scene is remembered in connection with it, the secretary of the Birkenhead Docks fainting away during the proceedings. Mr. Hope-Scott is said to have received a fee of 10,000l.; but a friend, likely to be well informed, thinks this is a fable.


[After describing the provisions of an earlier centralising scheme proposed by Government in 1856, Mr. Hope-Scott proceeds:]

Well, sir, all this set the game fairly afoot; and such a day's sport could hardly have been anticipated since the days when—

Earl Percy of Northumberland A vow to God did make, His pleasure in the Scottish woods Three summers' days to take.

The Queen herself had not indeed made a vow, but had announced the hunting from the throne. The Royal Commissioners had driven the whole country for game, and there was a large field, nearly all the counties of England being interested spectators; the hounds in good condition—very skilful whips— everything seemed to promise a fine day's sport: and what would have been the issue is not very easy to foresee, had it not been for what I may be allowed to term (pursuing the metaphor) the very unfortunate riding of the gentleman who, upon that occasion, acted as huntsman. It appears from his own statement at the outset that he had very little previous acquaintance with the country; but he went off with very considerable confidence upon 'the shipping interest,' and there seemed to be every prospect of his having a pleasant ride; but as he got along, he seems to have found the ground deeper and the fences stiffer than he had reckoned upon, and, moreover, that 'the shipping interest' had been a good deal exhausted in the service of the department before.

So about the middle of the day (it is more easy to give a description of personal events in the form of analogy than from direct representation)— about the middle of the day he seems to have changed his mount; and when he was next seen he was going at a tremendous rate across country, firmly seated upon the 'natural rights of man.' As you may suppose, he very soon made up for lost ground upon so splendid a creature. But the difficulties began when he came up with the hunt; for the horse in question is a desperate puller, very awkward to manage in old enclosures, and not at all accustomed to hunt with any regular pack, least of all with her Majesty's hounds. The consequence was what might have been expected. He was hardly up with the hounds when he was in the middle of them, rode over half the pack, and headed the whole; and so there was nothing for it but for the master of the hounds to call them off, and declare he would not hunt that country again until he had had a further survey made of it.

Now I have endeavoured to give, in as gentle a manner as I can, an account of that which caused the principal disaster on this famous sporting day. It was stated that further information was necessary. But another member of the Government described the difficulty in a good deal broader terms. Mr. Labouchere declared that 'the sons of Zeruiah had been too strong for them.' However that may be, a select committee was appointed. [Footnote: Report: Mersey Conservancy and Docks, Westminster, 1857, p.46.]


What has made Liverpool? Manchester says it has made Liverpool. Sir, the East and West Indies, America and Africa and Australia have made Liverpool, just as they have made Manchester. We know that for a long time that western side of the kingdom was far behind the eastern portions of it; that it had no wool trade, which was the old staple of the country; that South Lancashire was covered with forests; that in Edward the Second's time there was but one poor fulling-mill in Manchester: and what has been the eventual result? After long waiting, after long delays, a new continent in the far west, and a new British Empire founded in the far east, have come to the relief of that portion of the country; that, concurrently with the development of that system, a Brindley, a Watt, an Arkwright, a George Stephenson arose. And so it is that Liverpool became what it is; and so it is that Manchester became what it is. But who was watching this great design of Providence in its small beginning? Who was fostering the trade? Who was promoting the internal communications with Manchester? Who was spending money and giving land for the benefit of the infant trade? It was the corporation of Liverpool.... Where was representation and taxation then, sir?... You cannot have it till the port is made. You cannot have it till the risk has been run, till the ratepayers have been created. Then, no doubt, you may turn round upon the body who have made the port, made the ratepayers, made them what they are; and you may insist upon dethroning them from that position which they have occupied, at so much risk and so much labour, up to the time when the full development of the trade takes place. Now, sir, that is the case with Liverpool. It is the case with nearly all the remarkable ports of this kingdom. And then, forsooth, when all this has been done, and when Liverpool has nursed from its infancy the rising trade of the Mersey, watched it, developed it into a system which is unequalled, I venture to say, in the habitable world, we are to have gentlemen from Manchester coming down upon us to tell us that the true nostrum to make a port is taxation and representation, and to turn out those who, before there was any trade to tax, taxed themselves in order to create it.

* * * * *

Apart from the Great Western Company's intervention this is a case of Manchester against Liverpool; in other words, it is a struggle between a manufacturing and a commercial interest. Now, sir, what is called the balance of power in the British Constitution, meaning as it does the equipoise caused by conflicting interests and passions, is a principle which is not confined to constitutional forms, but works out throughout the whole body of society; and we find a gradual tendency in latter days to conflicts between classes, and classes which were before allied together against other classes. We know the distinctions between land and trade, speaking generally, and the conflicts which have ensued. In these latter days we have had trade subdivided into manufactures and commerce.... What you are asked to do now is to humble a commercial interest at the instance of a manufacturing interest.... There can be no doubt, sir, that if we contrast the habits of mind of different classes, commercial pursuits give a different tone and a different feeling. I am not saying it is better, I am not saying it is worse—that is not my question—but a different tone and feeling from what manufacturing pursuits do. I will not even analyse the cause of it; but I may state this much, that commerce has that which manufacture has not. It has its traditions and its history upon a higher and very different footing: it has even its romance and its poetry. A profession exercised within a port which is associated with such names as those of Tyre, of Byzantium, of Venice, of Genoa, of the Hanse Towns, and many of the chief cities of history, may be said to have some liberal features which I do not say are beneficial; I am merely saying that they are different from those which arise out of the associations of manufacture. Images of greatness and of splendour are connected with the one much more than with the other, and the term 'merchant princes' is a term which neither historians nor orators would treat as otherwise than properly applied to many of the chief men of the cities which I have named in former days, and many of the chief men of the cities with which we are now dealing. Moreover commerce brings the parties engaged in it into connection and contact with almost the whole known world. Liverpool is not the Liverpool of Lancashire only, or of Cheshire only, or of England only; Liverpool is the Liverpool of India, of China, of Africa, of North and South America, of Australia—the Liverpool of the whole habitable globe; and she has her features of distinction; she has her habits of thought and feeling, her traditions of mind fostered by influences such as these. There she sits upon the Mersey, a sort of queen of the seas; and Manchester, her sister, looks at her and loves her not. She too is great, and she too is powerful—but she is not Liverpool, and she cannot become Liverpool. At Liverpool she is lost in the throng of nations and the multitude of commerce; she is merely one of the many customers of the port. Well, as she cannot equal Liverpool, what is the next thing? It is to pull down Liverpool; to make Liverpool, forsooth, the Piraeus of such an Athens as Manchester! That, sir, will suit her purpose, but will it suit yours?... No commercial interests can act, sir, more than any other interests, without some local association, without some united home, such as is afforded in the constitution of our own port.... To found upon injustice, and to proceed by agitation, to put down a rival whom they cannot help admiring though they cannot love—that, sir, is a process neither worthy of them nor likely to accord with the views of the constitutional politician, who is willing indeed that, according to the natural force of circumstances and the development of time, every interest should acquire its legitimate position in the balance of power under the constitution, but who certainly would not lend his aid to destroy by anticipation and violently any of those great commercial landmarks which remain—and long may they remain—in this country, standing monuments of the past, and affording in the present working of different political passions and interests a counterpoise, the loss of which would soon be felt, and would lead every one to regret the legislation which had converted this bill into an Act. (Pp. 213, 214, 221- 4.)

4. The L. B. & S. C. Company—the Beckenham Line.—In this great case Mr. Hope-Scott was retained by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company to oppose a bill by which it had been sought to construct a new and rival line by Beckenham, and, with his usual address, succeeded in turning it out. The question was one of considerable local importance, and on its decision a clever article appeared in the 'West Sussex Gazette,' written by the editor of that paper, the late Mr. William Woods Mitchell, in whose sudden death in 1880 the public press of England lost a most able and talented journalist, who (I may remark in passing) had as considerable a share as any one in carrying the principle of unstamped newspapers. His description of Mr. Hope-Scott's style of pleading is interesting, as conveying the impressions of a very sharp-sighted spectator, and, so to speak, placing before our bodily vision what such refined criticism as that of Mr. Venables has addressed rather to the eye of the mind.

To one of an impulsive temperament Mr. Hope-Scott's unconcern and sang- froid is perfectly irritating. It is amazing how he remembers minute points and names. From the highest questions of policy down to Mr. Ellis's cow and ladder case he was 'up' in detail, never lost for a word, and not to be astonished at anything. If the House of Commons were on fire he would ask the committee simply if he should continue until the fire had reached the room, or adjourn on the arrival of the engines. Whilst he delivers his speech he is keeping up a little cross-fire with the clerks behind, who scratch out the evidences and papers as he requires them. Now he will drink from the water-glass, now take a pinch of snuff, then look at his notes, or make an observation to some one; but still the smooth thread of his speech goes on to the committee: but it is smooth, and says as plainly as possible, 'My dear friend, I am not to be hurried, understand that if you please.' When, however, Mr. Scott has a joke against his learned friend he looks round, and his dark eyes twinkle out the joke most expressively.... There was a slight twinkle as he said to the committee, 'Now I come to the question of gradients.' It was amusing to see the five M.P.s twist in their chairs, and how readily the chairman told Mr. Scott the committee required to hear nothing further about gradients. Had the question of gradients been entered upon, one might have travelled to Brighton and back ere it was concluded. Mr. Hope-Scott had the advantage of a good case, and he 'improved the occasion.' He further had the advantage of the three shrewd gentlemen at his elbow, Messrs. Faithfull, Slight, and Hawkins, who allowed no point to slumber. The great features in favour of the Brighton Company were—first, that their line was acknowledged by all to be well connected; secondly, that Parliament had never granted a competing line of as palpable a character as the Beckenham; thirdly, that it had been shown by a committee of inquiry that competing lines invariably combine to the detriment of the public; and lastly, that the opposition line was not a bona fide scheme, and not required for the traffic of the district. Mr. Denison replied at a disadvantage. [The chairman announced:] 'The committee are unanimous in their decision that the preamble of the bill has not been proved.' The B. and S. C. has won the race. Another victory for Scott's lot! [Footnote: Scott's lot. There was a celebrated trainer of the day, named Scott; and this expression was very familiar in the records of the turf.] The Beckenham project thrown out. [Footnote: West Sussex Gazette, June 18, 1863.]

The same writer (I have been told) also remarked that Mr. Hope-Scott succeeded with the committee by making an exceedingly clear statement of the case, thereby making them think that they knew something about it—and that was half the battle. When it was over, Mr. Hope-Scott observed to a friend, 'It is very likely I shall hear of that again; and very probably I shall be on the other side.' In fact, the affair got mixed up with the South-Eastern, from which company Mr. Hope-Scott received a prior retainer, and carried the Beckenham line against the L. and B. On that occasion he met the probable production by the opposing counsel of the statement from his previous speech by showing that circumstances alter cases, and that two or three years make a great difference. These latter particulars, however, I only give as conversational. To prevent any adverse impressions which might be given by such random talk, I would remark in passing, that a case like the foregoing is not a question of right or wrong, truth or falsehood, but of a balance of expediency, which it is a counsel's business in each instance to state, though certainly not to overstate. Further on (p.124) the reader will find evidence of Mr. Hope-Scott's resolute conscientiousness in the matter of fees.

5. Scottish Railways: an Amalgamation Case.—A bill for the amalgamation of certain Scottish railways was one of the great cases in which Mr. Hope-Scott was concerned in the Parliamentary Session of 1866. A correspondent of the 'Dundee Advertiser' takes occasion from it to contribute to that journal a sketch of Mr. Hope-Scott's personal history and professional career, with sundry comments on his style as an advocate. From this article I shall quote so much as refers in general to the Scottish part of his practice, and particularly to the case above mentioned. It will be perceived that the writer takes a comparatively disparaging view of Mr. Hope-Scott's manner of pleading; but this only shows the coarse drawing which those who write for the people often fall into, like artists whose pictures are to be seen from a great distance. For convenience of arrangement I make a transposition in the passage which I now place before the reader.

Mr. Hope-Scott in pleading his cases has a peculiarly easy style of speech, which can hardly be called oratory, because it would be ridiculous to waste high oratory on a Railway or a Waterworks Bill. But he has an apparently inexhaustible flow of language in every case he takes up, and every point of every case. He has little gesture, but is graceful in all his movements. He fastens on every point, however small—not a single feature escapes him; and he covers it up so completely with a cloud of specious but clever words, that a Parliamentary committee, composed as it is of private gentlemen, are almost necessarily led captive, and compelled to view the point as represented by him. It was eminently so in the Amalgamation case. The specious excuses for unmitigated selfishness there put forth were poured into the ears of the committee with such an air of innocent candour, and with such a clever copiousness, that the committee was, as it were, flooded and overwhelmed by his quiet eloquence; and though Mr. Denison with the keen two-edged sword of his logic cut through and through the watery flood in every case, it was just like cutting water, which immediately closed the moment the instrument was withdrawn. I am not doing Mr. Scott injustice when I say that in the Amalgamation case his tact was at least in as much demand as his ability, and that for downright argument his speeches could not for one moment be compared to those of Mr. Denison. But having a bad case to begin with, and having to make a selfish arrangement between two railway companies appear a great public advantage, he certainly, by his quiet skilful touches, turned black into white before the committee with remarkable neatness. His reply on the whole case was another flood of rosewater eloquence, which rose gently over all the points in Mr. Denison's speech, and concealed if it did not remove them. It was like the tide rising and covering a rock which could only be removed by blasting. Mr. Denison has the keen logical faculty which enables him to bore his way through the hardest argument, and blast it remorselessly and effectually as the gunpowder the rock. Mr. Scott, again, prefers to chip the face of the rock, to trim it into shape, to cover it over with soil, and to conceal its hard and rocky appearance under the guise of a flower-garden, through which any one may walk. And with ordinary men this style of thing is very popular. I do not mean that Mr. Scott is incapable of higher things. Far from it. I believe that had he to plead before a judge few could be more logical and powerful than he; but it is a remarkable evidence of the 'Scottishness' of his character, if I may coin a phrase, that when he has to plead before a committee of private gentlemen who have to be 'managed,' he should deliberately select a lower style of treatment for his subjects.

* * * * *

From his birth and social position, his mixing with the noblest and best society in the land, and his versatility and quick perceptive powers, Mr. Hope-Scott is so thoroughly master of the art of pleasing that a committee cannot fail to be ingratiated by him; and is certainly never offended, as he is gentlemanly and amiable to a fault. His temper is unruffled, and his speeches brimful of quick wit and humour; and when a strong-minded committee has to decide against him, so much has he succeeded in ingratiating himself with them that it is almost with a feeling of personal pain the decision is given. I remember seeing the chairman of one of the committees look distinctly sheepish as he gave his decision against Mr. Scott, and could not help thinking how much humbug there was in this system of Parliamentary committees altogether.

* * * * *

Mr. Hope-Scott has had a great deal to do in regard to Dundee and district business in Parliament. He represented the Harbour Trustees when they obtained their original Act, and he has had a hand in forwarding or opposing most of the railways in the district. He was employed by Mr. Kerr at the formation of the Scottish Midland; and I may mention that he was also employed in regard to the original Forfar and Laurencekirk line. In his conduct of the latter case a characteristic incident occurred which shows the highly honourable nature of the man. It was at the time of the railway mania, when fancy fees were being given to counsel, and when some counsel were altogether exorbitant in their demands. Mr. Hope-Scott was to have replied on behalf of the Forfar and Laurencekirk line, but intimated that he would not have time to do so, he being engaged on some other case. It was supposed, as fancy fees were being freely offered to secure attendance, that Mr. Scott was dissatisfied with his, and accordingly an extra fee of 150 guineas was sent to him along with a brief and a request that he would appear and make the reply. Mr. Scott sent back the brief and the cheque to the agents, with a note stating his regret that they should have supposed him capable of such a thing, also stating that he feared he would not have time to make the reply; but requesting that W. Kerr, of Dundee, should be asked to visit him and prepare him for the case, that he might be able to plead it if he did find time. This was done; he did find the time, he pleaded the case, but would not finger the extra fee! How different this conduct from that of some of the notorious counsel of those days, who, after being engaged in a case, sometimes stood out for their 1,000-guinea fees being doubled before they would go on with it!' [Footnote: I have heard of even a stronger case at that period than those alluded to by this writer—of a brief of 300l. being returned by the counsel and agents backwards and forwards till it reached 3,000l.] ('Dundee Advertiser,' July 2, 1866.)

6. Dublin Trunk Connecting Railway.—This was a case of some interest in 1868 or 1869, when schemes were in agitation for the connection of lines and the construction of one great central station for Dublin. Seven bills had been proposed, two of which their supporters had great hopes of carrying: the Dublin Trunk Connecting line few had thought would pass, when Mr. Hope-Scott went into the committee-room one afternoon, examined some witnesses, and made a speech which carried all before it; and, to the astonishment of all, the bill passed. The project, indeed, was never realised, but all agreed that Mr. Hope-Scott's single speech before the committee had snatched the affair from the hands of all the other competing parties.

7. His professional services to his old College of Eton in one important case (the Public Schools Bill of 1865) have already been more than once referred to. [Footnote: See vol. i. p. 17, and the present vol. ii. p. 106.]

But he similarly assisted Eton on other occasions also. One of these was a contest it had with the Great Western Railway Company in 1848, and which did not terminate in complete success; but his exertions (which were gratuitous) called forth a most emphatic expression of thanks in an address to him from the head-master (Dr. Hawtrey) and from the whole body of the masters. They say:—

It would indeed have been impossible by any such payment to have diminished our debt. For we feel that you spoke as if you had a common interest in our cause, and the advocate was lost in the friend. Nothing was wanting in our defence which the most judicious eloquence, combined with the sincerest regard for Eton, could supply:—

Si Pergama dextra Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.

But if the great object of our wishes could not be obtained against an opposition so powerful, restrictions have been imposed on the direction of the Great Western line, which would not have been granted but for the earnestness of your address to the committee; and whatever alleviations there may be to the evils which we expected, we shall owe them entirely to your advocacy.

I have little to add to what has now been brought together, yet a few scraps may still interest the reader.

Mr. Hope's first general retainers (as already stated) date in 1844; but by the time he retired he was standing counsel to nearly every system of railways in the United Kingdom (not, however, to the Great Western, though he pleaded for them whenever he could—that is, when not opposed by other railways for which he was retained). With the London and North-Western he was an especial favourite. It is believed that on his retirement his general retainers amounted to nearly one hundred—an extraordinary number; among which are included those given by the Corporations of London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool, and others. There was, in fact, during his last years, constant wrangling among clients to secure his services. The cry always was 'Get Hope-Scott.' That there may have been jealousy on the part of some as to the distribution of time so precious, may easily be supposed. I find a hint of this in a book of much local interest, but which probably few of my readers have met with, 'The Larchfield Diary: Extracts from the Diary of the late Mr. Mewburn, First Railway Solicitor. London: Simpkin and Marshall [1876].' Under the year 1861 Mr. Mewburn says (adding a tart comment):—

The London and North-Western Railway Company had, in the session of 1860, twenty-five bills in Parliament, all which they gave to Mr. Hope-Scott as their leader, and he was paid fees amounting to 20,000l., although he was rarely in the committee-room during the progress of the bills.— 'Larchfield Diary,' p. 170.

As to this, it must be observed that the companies engaged Mr. Hope-Scott's services with the perfect knowledge beforehand that the demands on his time were such as to render it extremely doubtful whether he could afford more than a very small share of it to the given case. They wished for his name if nothing else could be had; and, above all, to hinder its appearing on the opposite side. It was also felt that his powers were such, that a very little interference or suggestion on his part was very likely to effect all they wished. People said, 'If he can only give us ten minutes, it will direct us. We don't want the chief to draw his sword—he will win the battle with the glance of his eye.' In reference to one case I have described (No. 6) a client exclaimed, 'Even in ten minutes he put all to rights. We should have gone to pieces but for those ten minutes.' One is reminded of the exclamation of the old Highlander who had survived Killiecrankie: 'O for one hour of Dundee!' With these facts before us, and the astonishing unanimity of the best informed witnesses, as to Mr. Hope- Scott's straightforwardness and high sense of honour, I think Mr. Mewburn's objection is sufficiently answered. A remark, however, may be added, which I find in an able article in the 'Scotsman' (May 1, 1873): 'Often unable to attend his examination of minor witnesses, Mr. Hope-Scott nevertheless took care to possess himself of everything material in their evidence by careful reading of the short-hand writers' notes, and he always contrived to be at hand when the examination of an important witness might be expected to prove the turning-point in his case.'

The same writer goes on to say:—

Mr. Hope-Scott was not classed as a legal scholar, nor did his branch of the profession, which was the making, not the interpreting of laws, demand that accomplishment. His power lay, first, in a strong common sense and in a practical mind; next, in a degree of tact amounting to instinct, by which he seemed to read the minds of those before whom he was pleading, and steered his course and pitched his tone accordingly; and lastly, in being in all respects a thorough gentleman, knowing how to deal with gentlemen.... Though sincere and zealous in [religious] matters, Mr. Hope- Scott never, in his intercourse with the world and with men of hostile beliefs, showed the least drop of bitterness, or fell away in the smallest degree from that geniality of spirit which marked his whole character, and that courtesy of manner which made all intercourse with him, even in hard and anxious matters of business, a pleasure, not only for the moment, but for memory.

The following anecdote will serve to show that Mr. Hope-Scott was not the man to abuse the power which of course he well knew that he possessed, of 'making the worse seem the better cause.' Once when engaged in consultation with a certain great advocate, they both agreed that they had not a leg to stand upon. —— said that he would speak, and did deliver a speech which was anything but law. Mr. Hope-Scott being then called, bowed, and said that he had nothing to add to the speech of his learned friend. 'How could you leave me like that?' asked the other. 'You had already said,' replied Mr. Hope-Scott, 'that you had no case.'

In his latter years Mr. Hope-Scott was thought to have become rather imperious in his style of pleading before the Parliamentary committees: I mention this, not to pass over an impression which probably was but incidental. Of an opposite and very beautiful trait see an example in Mr. Gladstone's 'Letter' (Appendix III.).

It is obvious that Mr. Hope-Scott's professional emoluments must have been, as I have already said in general, very great. Notwithstanding his generosity and forbearance, it was no more possible for him, with his talents and surroundings, to avoid earning a splendid income than (as Clarendon says of the Duke of Buckingham) for a healthy man to sit in the sun and not grow warm. Into the details of his professional success in this point of view I must refrain from entering. Although, considering the great historical interest of the era of 'the railway mania,' the question of the fees earned by a great advocate of that period can hardly be considered one of merely trivial curiosity, still, the etiquette and let me add the just etiquette, of the profession would forbid the use of information, without which no really satisfactory outline of this branch of my subject could be placed before the reader, least of all by a writer not himself a member of the profession. The popular notion of it must, I suppose, have appeared not infrequently in the newspapers of the day—an example may be found at p. 204 of this volume—and but very recently a similar guess appeared in a literary organ of more permanent character. But to correct or to criticise such vague statements on more certain knowledge, even if I possessed it, is what can hardly be here expected. Indeed, I ought rather to ask pardon for mistakes almost certainly incident to what I have already attempted.

In concluding the present subject I may remark that Mr. Hope-Scott's professional labours by no means represent the whole work of his life. Nominally, he was supposed to be free for about half the year, but in reality this vacant time was almost filled up by other work of a business nature undertaken out of kindness to friends or relations—precisely what the old Romans called officia. Such was the charge of the great Norfolk estates, and of the long-contested Shrewsbury property; [Footnote: Bertram Talbot, last Earl of Shrewsbury of the Catholic branch, had bequeathed considerable property to Lord Edmund Howard (brother-in-law to Mr. Hope-Scott), on condition of his assuming the name of Talbot. His right to make this bequest was disputed by his successor, and a protracted litigation ensued in 1864 and the next few years, throughout which Mr. Hope-Scott acted as friend and adviser of the Howards, to whom he was guardian. The importance of this cause celebre here consists chiefly in the self-sacrificing labours by which Mr. Hope-Scott succeeded in saving something for his relative out of the wreck, when to rescue the whole proved to be hopeless. I am not aware that it need be concealed that he had a very strong opinion against the justice of the decision.] such was another trust, on a considerable scale, for connections of his family in Yorkshire, involving, like the former, a great deal of travelling, for he was not satisfied with merely looking at things through other people's eyes. Such, too, his guardianship of his elder brother's eight children [Footnote: Mr. George W. Hope died on October 18, 1863—a great sorrow to Mr. Hope-Scott, to whom for years, in the earlier part of his career, his house had been a home, and who regarded him throughout with deep affection.] for about ten years before his death. A fourth may be added, that of the family of Mr. Laing, solicitor at Jedburgh, a convert who died young, requesting Mr. Hope to protect the interest of his seven children. A fifth, too—the guardianship of the children of his old legal tutor, Mr. Plunkett. The four first-mentioned guardianships occupied Mr. Hope till nearly the end of his life. And, on the top of all this, add a most voluminous correspondence, in which his advice was required on important subjects by important persons—and often on subjects which were to them of importance, by very much humbler persons too.

Of the spirit in which he laboured, the following passage of a letter of his to Father (now Cardinal) Newman gives an idea. Like some other letters I have quoted, it almost supplies the absence of a religious diary of the period. It is an answer to a letter of Dr. Newman's, presently to be given (p. 143).

J. R. Hope-Scott, Esq., Q.C. to the Very Rev. Dr. Newman.

Abbotsford: Dec. 30, 1857.

Dear Father Newman,—... And now a word about yourself. I do not like your croaking. You have done more in your time than most men, and have never been idle. As to the way in which you have done it I shall say nothing. You may think you might have done it better. I remember that you once told me that 'there was nothing we might not have done better'—and this was to comfort me; and it did, for it brought each particular failure under a general law of infirmity, and so quieted while it humbled me. And then as to the future: what is appointed for you to do you will have time for—what is not, you need have no concern about. There! I have written a sermon. Very impudent I know it is; but when the mind gets out of joint a child may sometimes restore it by telling us some simple thing which we perhaps have taught it. Pat your child then on the head, and bid him go to play, while you brace yourself up and work on, not as if you must do some particular work before you die, but as if you must do your best till you die. 'Alas! alas! how much could I say of my past, were I to compare it with yours! And my future—how shall I secure it better than you can yours? But I must not abuse the opportunity you have given me.... With all good wishes of this and every season,

Yours very affectionately,


The Very Rev. Dr. Newman, Birmingham.



Mr. Hope's Engagement to Charlotte Lockhart—Memorial of Charlotte Lockhart—Their Marriage—Mr. Lockhart's Letter to Mr. J. R. Hope on his Conversion—Filial Piety of Mr. Hope—Conversion of Lord and Lady Henry Kerr—Domestic Life at Abbotsford—Visit of Dr. Newman to Abbotsford in 1852—Birth of Mary Monica Hope-Scott—Bishop Grant on Early Education—Mr. Lockhart's Home Correspondence—Death of Walter Lockhart Scott—Mr. Hope takes the Name of Hope-Scott—Last Illness and Death of Mr. Lockhart—Death of Lady Hope—Letter of Lord Dalhousie—Mr. Hope-Scott purchases a Highland Estate—Death of Mrs. Hope-Scott and her Two Infants—Letters of Mr. Hope- Scott, in his Affliction, to Dr. Newman and Mr. Gladstone—Verses in 1858— Letter of Dr. Newman on receiving them.

This biography here reaches the point where the history of Mr. Hope's marriage may fitly be placed before the reader. It was an event which, as I have already hinted, may very probably have been connected, like his eager pursuit of the Bar, with the break-down of his early ideas as to the Church of England. Yet, viewed merely in its worldly aspects, the step was one which could have caused no surprise, the time for it having fully arrived, as he was now thirty-five, in a conspicuous position in society, and making a splendid income. The lady of his choice was Charlotte Harriet Jane Lockhart, daughter of John Gibson Lockhart, and granddaughter of Sir Walter Scott. It was through Lady Davy that Mr. Hope had made Mr. Lockhart's acquaintance; and thus what appeared a very meaningless episode in his juvenile years materially affected his destiny in life. In a letter of July 23, 1847, to his sister, Lady Henry Kerr, he speaks as follows of the important step in life he had decided upon, and of the character of his betrothed:—

I have for a long time contemplated the possibility of marriage, and had resolved that, all things considered, it might, under God's blessing, be the best course which I could pursue. It was not, however, till I had made acquaintance with Charlotte Lockhart that I was satisfied I should find a person who in all respects would suit me. This a general knowledge of her character (which is easily known) convinced me of, and I then proceeded rapidly, and, as far as I can judge, am not mistaken in my choice.

She is not yet twenty, but has lived much alone; much also with people older than herself, and people of high mental cultivation. She has also had the discipline of depending on those habits of her father which are inseparable from a literary and, in some degree, secluded life. In short, she has had much to form her, and with great simplicity of character, and unbounded cheerfulness, she combines far more thought than is usual at her age. Having no mother and few connections, she is the more likely to become entirely one of us; which I value, not only on my own account, but for the sake of my mother, to whom I am sure she will be a very daughter.

I have said more to you about her than I have written to any one else, for I distrust marriage puffs, and desire that people may judge for themselves.... You may be assured that I look upon marriage in a very serious light; and I pray God heartily that it may be to us, whether in joy or sorrow, the means of mutual improvement, so that, when the account is rendered, each may show some good work done for the other.

Yours affectionately,


A little expedition which ensued on the engagement was long remembered as affording a very bright passage in their lives. With Lady Davy as kind chaperon, Mr. Hope and his betrothed visited his brother-in-law and sister, Lord and Lady Henry Kerr, at the Rectory of Dittisham, near Dartmouth, that the future sisters might become acquainted. The exquisite beauty of the scenery about the Dart, the splendour of the weather, and the charm of the moment, altogether made this a time of happiness not to be forgotten by any of those who shared in it. To the outline conveyed in Mr. Hope's letter I shall add a few traits obtained from other sources, and thus complete, as far as possible, the image they present. Charlotte Lockhart is described as a very attractive person, with a graceful figure, a sweet and expressive face, brown eyes of great brilliance, and a beautifully shaped head: the chin indeed was heavy, but even this added to the interest of the face by its striking resemblance to the same feature in her great ancestor, Sir Walter Scott. A dearly cherished portrait of her at Abbotsford shows all that sweetness we should expect, yet it is at the same time full of character and decision. Her style of dress was marked by singular simplicity; and, unless to please her husband, or when society required it, she rarely wore ornaments. She was of a bright and cheerful nature, at first sight extremely open, but with that reserve which so often shows itself, on further acquaintance, in minds of unusual thoughtfulness and depth. There was something especially interesting in her manner—a mixture of shyness and diffidence with self-reliance and decisiveness, quite peculiar to herself. Her look, 'brimful of everything,' seemed to win sympathy and to command respect. Without marked accomplishments, unless that of singing most sweetly, with a good taste and natural power that were always evident, she had a passion for books, about which, however, she was particularly silent, as she dreaded anything like pretensions to literature. Her talent and quickness made everything easy to her, and she seemed to get through all she had to do with great facility. But this was much assisted by an extraordinary gift of order and method, which enabled her, without consulting her watch, to fix the instant when the time had arrived, for example, for prayers, so that her friends would say they felt sure she carried a clock in her head. Punctual to a minute, she seemed never to lose a moment. She governed herself by a rule of life, drawn up for her by Bishop Grant (and afterwards by Cardinal Manning), memoranda of which were found in her Prayer-book. Notwithstanding ill-health, she almost always commenced her devotions, even if unable to rise early, at six in the morning, and observed a perfect system in the round of her daily duties. She was never idle, and nothing that might be called her recreations was allowed to be decided by the wish of the moment, but was all settled beforehand—the time to be allotted, for instance, to a carriage drive, or to visiting. Mr. Hope-Scott himself said of her, that if she lay down on the sofa in the afternoon to enjoy a few hours of Dante or Tasso, you might be sure that every note had been answered, every account set down and carefully backed up, every domestic matter thoroughly arranged. As Lady Davy expressed it, 'she was a very busy little housewife, putting order into every department.'

Of the usual lady's industry of needlework, plain or fancy, she got through an amazing quantity; but she was also, in her early years, of great use to her father, whose companion she had been in a literary life of great loneliness, by relieving him of much of his correspondence. The same diligent and endearing aid she afterwards rendered to her husband in all his harassing overwork. Her great love and admiration for him, combined with her own natural reserve, made her somewhat disinclined to go into society; and in his compulsory absences, at which she was never heard to murmur, she could be happy for weeks together, with her child, in a comparatively solitary life at Abbotsford. Yet she was also quite able to appreciate society, and is described by her friends as a delightful companion, hardly ever talking of herself, and always charitable in talking of others. Though placed in the state of riches, and having unlimited permission from her husband to spend as much as she pleased, she was notwithstanding never wasteful, but governed her household expenditure with the prudence of an upright and well-regulated mind, taking the greatest pains that all around her should have strict justice. She spent nothing needlessly upon herself, but gave largely, and in the most self-denying manner, for charitable purposes, especially the Orphanage under the sisters at Norwood, which she appears to have constantly endeavoured to follow in spirit, making her inner life, as far as possible, that of a religious. She is remembered to have disposed of, for the sake of the Norwood Orphanage, a precious ornament, given her by her husband, which had belonged to the Empress Josephine; but a portion was reserved for a Lady altar in the Church of St. Mary and St. Andrew, Galashiels. When in London, it was her delight to visit St. George's Hospital, where her attendance was efficient and regular, so long as she was able to render it.

Mr. Hope and Charlotte Lockhart were married at the parish church of Marylebone on August 19, 1847, his brother-in-law, Lord Henry Kerr, officiating; and after the wedding he took his bride to the Duke of Buccleuch's house at Richmond, which had been lent to them for the honeymoon. The autumn was spent at Rankeillour, and the winter at Lady Hope's in Charles Street. In 1848 Mr. Hope rented Abbotsford from his brother-in-law, Walter Lockhart Scott, and removed thither in August of that year. On the death of the latter, in 1853, he became its possessor in right of his wife, and for the remainder of his days made it his principal residence.

Mr. Hope's conversion, as we have seen, took place before Easter in 1851. To his wife, the surrender of united prayer (of all trials the severest on both sides) was a sore distress: but the perception of truth is always aided by consistency, at whatever sacrifice; she had read and thought much on the controversy, and by Whitsuntide had followed her husband into the True Fold. Mr. Lockhart regarded his son-in-law's conversion as a grief and a humiliation; but, nevertheless, the nobleness of his nature, and the deep regard he always felt for his virtues, prevailed without an effort. His letter on that occasion does himself as much honour as it does to Mr. Hope.

J. G. Lockhart, Esq. to J. R. Hope, Esq., Q.C.

S[ussex] P[lace]: April 8, 1851.

My dear Hope,—I thank you sincerely for your kind letter. I had clung to the hope that you would not finally leave the Church of England; but am not so presumptuous as to say a word more on that step as respects yourself, who have not certainly assumed so heavy a responsibility without much study and reflection. As concerns others, I am thoroughly aware that they may count upon any mitigation which the purest intentions and the most generous and tender feelings on your part can bring. And I trust that this, the only part of your conduct that has given me pain, need not, now or ever, disturb the confidence in which it has of late been a principal consolation to me to live with my son-in-law.

Ever affectionately yours,


That incipient leaning to Catholicity which is so observable among the literary men of the later Georgian era, especially of the school of Sir Walter Scott, was probably not wanting in Mr. Lockhart. At Rome he seems to have chiefly lived among Catholics; and quite in keeping with this view is an anecdote I have heard, of his observing to Mr. Hope, when once at Mayence they were watching the crowd streaming out of the cathedral, 'I must say this looks very like reality.' This was in the course of a visit they made to Germany in 1850, when Mrs. Hope was staying at Kreuznach for her health. As for Lady Hope, her decidedly Protestant principles caused her to feel profound distress when her son became a Catholic. She anxiously sought to know what Roman Catholics really believed, and whether they worshipped the Blessed Virgin or not.

Her son wrote her the following beautiful letter the Christmas Eve after his conversion:—

J. R. Hope, Esq., Q.C. to his Mother, the Hon. Lady Hope.

Abbotsford: Dec. 24, '51.

Dearest Mamma,—... Writing on Christmas Eve, I cannot forbear, dearest mamma, from wishing you the blessings of this season, although I feel that in doing so I must necessarily cause painful thoughts; but amongst these, I trust, you will never admit any which imply that my love for you has diminished, or that I profess a religion which does not enforce and cherish the feelings of duty and affection which I owe to you. That I have often been wanting in my conduct towards you I well know and sincerely regret; but I can safely say that you have been throughout my life, to me, as you are still, an object of love, respect, and gratitude such as I scarcely have elsewhere in the world. Take then, dearest mamma, your son's Christmas prayers. They are addressed to the God who gave you to me, and whom I thank heartily for the gift; and if I believe that His will has been manifested otherwise than you see it in some things, remember that this does not extend to the precepts of love and charity, or alter one tittle of my obligation and desire to be and to show myself to be

Your most affectionate Son,


In the course of 1853 Mr. Hope's brother-in-law and sister, Lord and Lady Henry Kerr, were received into the Catholic Church. They ultimately settled near Abbotsford, at Huntley-Burn, a name familiar to all who have read Lockhart's 'Life of Scott,' which afforded more frequent opportunities for the intimate and affectionate intercourse which existed between the families. Mr. Hope's other immediate relatives, however unable they might be to sympathise with his change, retained their love and admiration for him undiminished. Writing from Luffness to Mr. Badeley (Jan. 21, 1852), he says: 'Here there has been no controversy, it being agreed that we shall not talk.... We meet everywhere so much kindness now, that we can make no pretence to confessorship.' His life as a Catholic, now that he had once found anchorage in the faith, passed in unbroken peace of mind, in wonderful contrast to the storms of which we have been so long telling, that swept over him before he reached this haven.

The years immediately succeeding Mr. Hope's marriage with Charlotte Lockhart were probably the happiest of his life. He was then most buoyant, most in health, most himself, and at the height of his intellectual powers. His improving and practical hand was soon felt wherever he resided. He did much for Rankeillour, but for Abbotsford wonders. The place had been greatly neglected, the trees unthinned, and everything needing a restoration. He added a new wing to the house, formed a terrace, and constructed an ingenious arrangement of access by which the tourists might be admitted to satisfy their curiosity, while some sort of protection was afforded to the domestic privacy of the inmates. [Footnote: Particulars of some of the improvements will be given later on. The new house at Abbotsford was begun about 1855, and completed and furnished in 1857.] What he did for the Church I shall tell by-and-by. [Footnote: See chapter xxvi.] At both Rankeillour and Abbotsford Mr. Hope maintained a graceful hospitality, in every way befitting his position. A letter which has been communicated to me from a lady (now a nun) who was on a visit at Abbotsford during the autumn and winter of 1854, gives a very pleasing and distinct idea of the domestic life there during that brief period of happiness, which, however (as we shall see presently), was already chequered by sorrow destined in the Divine providence to become yet deeper and sadder. To this letter I am indebted for the following particulars, which I have ventured slightly to rearrange, yet keeping as closely as possible to the words of the writer:—

The impression left by that most interesting and charming family could never be effaced from my mind. It always seemed to me the most perfect type of a really Christian household, such as I never saw in the world before or since. A religious atmosphere pervaded the whole house, and not only the guests, but the servants must, it seems to me, have felt its influence. But, apart from that, there was so much genial hospitality, and every one was made to feel so completely at his ease. Mr. Hope-Scott was the beau ideal of an English gentleman, and a model Catholic devoted to the service of the Church, doing all the good that lay in his power, far and near. There was a quiet dignity about him, and at the same time he was full of gentle mirth, full of kindness and consideration for others; and for every one with whom he came in contact, high and low, rich and poor, there was a kind word or a generous act.

Among all the guests of this happy interval, [Footnote: Lord and Lady Arundel and their family, Count Thun, Lady Davy, Lady Lothian, Lord Traquair, Bishop Carruthers, Mr. Badeley, &c.] none were more joyfully welcomed than Dr. Newman, who spent above five weeks at Abbotsford during the winter of 1852-3, though a much longer visit had earnestly been wished for by his kind host. It was a visit memorable in many ways, and at a memorable time of the Cardinal's life, the year of the first Achilli trial (this took place June 21-24), in which Mr. Hope, though not one of his advocates, had rendered the most efficient help to the illustrious defendant by his counsel and support. The Catholic university of Ireland, as will be seen from the following letter, was also then preparing, for which its first legislator had turned to Mr. Hope as among the most trusted of his advisers.

J. R. Hope, Esq., Q.C. to the Very Rev. Dr. Newman.

5 Calverly Terrace, Tunbridge Wells: October 23, '52.

Dear Newman,—I am much grieved by the account of your health which you send. Do, I entreat you, take rest at once—and by rest I understand, and I suspect from Dr. Murray (?), total removal from work and change of scene. We hope to go to Abbotsford early next month. We have a chapel in the house, but no chaplain. You would confer on us the GREATEST pleasure, and would at the same time secure your doctor's object, if you would come down there and spend with us the three or four months which will elapse before our return to town. You can say mass at your own hour, observe your own ways in everything, and feel all the time, I hope, perfectly at home. Do, pray, seriously think of this.

As to the University question which you put to me, I can give no reference here; and I suspect my view is rather historical than in the way of strict definition. In England public teaching in the schools preceded all the colleges, and the latter provided the training which the university did not undertake. In Scotland and in most places abroad there are no colleges in our English sense, and public teaching is the essence of their systems. Perhaps by looking into Athy Wood you may find passages to refer to, but I would rather rest upon the general statement of their origin. There are some derivations ascribed to the word universitas as relating to universal knowledge, but I doubt them. Wife and child well.

Yrs affly,


I subjoin a few lines from Dr. Newman's answer to this invitation (which at first he was unable to accept):—

It would be a great pleasure to spend some time with you, and then I have ever had the extremest sympathy for Walter Scott, that it would delight me to see his place. When he was dying I was saying prayers (whatever they were worth) for him continually, thinking of Keble's words, 'Think on the minstrel as ye kneel.' (Dr. Newman to J. R. H. from Edgbaston, Birmingham, Oct. 29, '52.)

Not less interesting is a letter in which he recalls this visit, years after. Writing to Mr. Hope-Scott on Christmas Eve, 1857 [compare p. 131], Dr. Newman says:—

I am glad to call to mind and commemorate by a letter the pleasant days I passed in the North this time five years. Five years has a melancholy sound to me now, for it is like a passing-bell, knolling away time. I hope it is not wrong to say that the passage of time is now sad to me as well as awful, because it brings before me how much I ought to have done, how much I have to do, and how little time I have to do it in.... I wonder whether Badeley is with you? What a strange thing life is! We see each other as through the peep-holes of a show. When had I last a peep at him or you?

At Abbotsford one blessing was still wanting to the completion of domestic happiness. It may be assumed that, after successes so brilliant, Mr. Hope could not but desire to found a family which should continue, in his own line, names so famous as those which he inherited and represented; but this was long withheld. His first child, a boy, was still-born (1848); the next, after an interval of four years (October 2, 1852, Feast of the Guardian Angels), was a daughter, Mary Monica (now the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell-Scott), named after a favourite saint of his; and several years more elapsed before the birth of another son. A passage from one of Bishop Grant's letters to Mr. Hope will be read with interest at this point, both for the characteristic piety and for the intimacy of their friendship to which it witnesses:—

The Right Rev. Dr. Grant, Bishop of Southwark, to J. R. Hope, Esq., Q.C.

Dec. 10, 1852.

My dear Mr. Hope,—... As you will have more opportunities at Abbotsford than you will perhaps find in London, it may be well to tell you that the Italian nurses begin almost before children know how to use their eyes, to make them notice prints or statues of our dear Mother and of the saints. This helps their imagination, such as it is; and, after all, when we know how some babes notice their parents and nurses, there is every reason why we should accustom them to notice holy things. And, as they begin to talk, it is right to follow the rule which St. Augustine says his mother had, of constantly letting the sacred names drop, so that the great doctor says she completely destroyed his relish for all oratory from which those sweet names were absent.

May the blessings of Christmas fall abundantly on all at Abbotsford!

Yours very affectionately,


Mr. Hope's domestic circle at this time included Mr. Lockhart, who, though not yet a very old man, was verging towards the close of a literary life of great toil. He was much with his son-in-law and daughter in Scotland and in London, and they sometimes stayed with him in Sussex Place. At length he had his books taken down to Abbotsford, where they still are, in a room called the Lockhart Library. When absent, he wrote almost daily either to his daughter or to Mr. Hope; and the collection of his letters, still preserved, affords a most amusing record, sparkling with genial sarcasm, of whatever was going on around him in London society. There is endless talk and incident, floating in that society, which never finds its way into print, or not till after the lapse of many years; and such is precisely the material of this home correspondence of Mr. Lockhart's. It would be perhaps difficult to name letters with which they can be accurately classed. I do not forget Horace Walpole, and Swift's 'Journal to Stella.' But Lockhart's wit was more playful and more natural. The great charm of his letters is, that he thought, so far, of nothing but simply to relate what was likely to amuse his daughter, whether the matter in itself was of the least consequence or not. Such, however, were not the only topics of which he had to tell. Mr. Lockhart, who, with his somewhat haughty self-possession, might have been described, as the late Lord Aberdeen was, by one who knew him well, as 'possessing a heart of fire in a form of ice,' had yet a deeply felt but secret sorrow, with which even his resolution could hardly cope. If I do not disguise that for years he had much to vex him in the wild ways of a son whom he yet never ceased to love, it is only because otherwise I could convey little idea of the unreserved manner in which that lofty spirit could turn for consolation, in letter after letter, to Mr. Hope, or to his daughter, never failing to find all the comfort with which a wise head and a kind heart can reward a confidence so pathetic.

Mr. Hope's conduct, all through these trials, was indeed forbearing and generous to such a degree as would make it a great example to all who have to sustain crosses of that kind. But enough, perhaps, has been said on the subject. In 1848 a severe illness of his brother-in-law at Norwich afforded another of those occasions in which he displayed that zeal and helpfulness in ministering to the sick, of which there are so many instances in his life. Walter Lockhart Scott died at Versailles on January 10, 1853. [Footnote: Walter Lockhart Scott and Charlotte (wife of Mr. Hope-Scott) were the last survivors of the children of Mr. Lockhart and Sophia, daughter of Sir Walter Scott. The eldest son, though very short-lived, is well remembered as 'Hugh Littlejohn,' to whom the Tales of my Grandfather were dedicated.] Mr. Hope then assumed the name of Hope- Scott, by which I shall henceforth speak of him. It was on the occasion of her brother's death that Bishop Grant addressed the following beautiful letter to Mrs. Hope-Scott:—

The Right Rev. Dr. Grant, Bishop of Southwark, to Mrs. Hope-Scott.

January 20 [1853].

My dear Mrs. Hope,—Although there is no artistic merit in the enclosed, I hope you will allow me to send it on account of the meditation which it suggests, how our dear Lord had the thought of His sufferings present to His mind in early childhood—indeed, from the first moment of His earthly existence. This thought may help to strengthen us when we reflect that He has not given us the foretaste of our sorrow, but has allowed us to grow up without any anticipation of distinct sorrow and suffering; and, for the first years, without any thought of their coming at all. When affliction comes at last in all its real bitterness, we can lighten it by uniting it to His sorrow, and by asking Him to remember His promise of making it easy to us.

I should not have troubled you so soon if it had not occurred to me that the days which follow the announcement of a cause of grief are often more trying than the commencement of them, and that during them the need of consolation may be more felt.

I do not know why I should intrude my poor sympathy upon you, but when we have shared in joy it seems ungrateful not to be willing to have a part in sadness, and therefore I hope you will excuse me....

Yours very respectfully,


Mr. Lockhart never got over the death of his last-remaining son. His health began to fail; he went to Rome for change of climate; came back worse, and soon after went down to his half-brother's at Milton-Lockhart. Thither Mr. and Mrs. Hope-Scott went to see him, and entreated him to come to Abbotsford. He at first decidedly refused, and his will was a strong one; but some time after, when the house was full of Catholic guests, he suddenly announced that he wished to go immediately to Abbotsford. He arrived there, hardly able to get out of his carriage, and it was at once perceived that he was a dying man. He desired to drive about and take leave of various places, displaying, however, a sort of stoical fortitude, and never making a direct allusion to what was impending. To save him fatigue, it was important he should have his room near the library, but he shrank from accepting the dining-room (where Sir Walter Scott had died), and it required all Mr. Hope-Scott's peculiar tact and kindness to induce him to establish himself in the breakfast-room close by. There he remained until the end. Yet he would not suffer any one to nurse him, till, one night, he fell down on the floor, and, after that, offered no further opposition. Father Lockhart, a distant cousin, was now telegraphed for, from whom, during Mr. Lockharts's stay in Rome, he had received much kind attention, for which he was always grateful. He did not object to his kinsman's presence, though a priest; and yielded also when asked to allow his daughter to say a few prayers by his bedside. Mr. Hope-Scott, in the meantime, was absent on business, but returned home one or two days before the end, which came suddenly. He and Mrs. Hope-Scott were quickly called in, and found Miss Lockhart (affectionately called in the family 'Cousin Kate') reading the prayers for the dying. Mr. Lockhart died on November 25, 1854, and was buried at Dryburgh Abbey, beside his father-in-law Sir Walter Scott. The insertion of these particulars, which are of personal interest to many of my readers, will perhaps be justified by their close association with the subject of this memoir.

After little more than a twelvemonth Mr. Hope-Scott had the sorrow to lose his mother. Lady Hope died rather suddenly on December 1, 1855, in consequence, it was thought, of injuries she had sustained from an accidental fall in the Crystal Palace a few days before. In writing to acquaint Mr. Gladstone with this sad event (December 4) [Footnote: Lady Frances Hope also died within a week after, on December 6, 1855.] Mr. Hope- Scott says:—

To you and Mrs. Gladstone, who knew her, I may confidently say that I believe a kinder, more generous and self-denying nature has seldom existed. To us, her children, her life has been one of overflowing affection and care; but many, many besides her immediate relations have known her almost as a mother, and will feel the closing of her house as if they had lost a home.

The following letter, written from India on the same occasion, is in every way deeply interesting:—

The Marquis of Dalhousie to G. W. Hope, Esq.

Gov't House: Feb. 6, 1856.

It was very kind of you, my dear George, to think of me, far away, when your heart must have been so sore. But, indeed, your kindness was not thrown away, or your considerate thoughtfulness misplaced.

Even Jim and yourself have not grieved with more heartfelt sorrow for that dear life that has been lost than I have in my banishment.

Thirty years have gone since your mother began to show to me the tenderness of an own mother. I loved her dearly—she loved me, and loved what I loved. In the prospect of a return which has few charms for me the thought of finding Lady Hope good, kind, gracious, motherly, as she always was for me, was one of the few thoughts on which I dwelt, and to which I returned with real pleasure, and now it is all gone; and you would think it exaggerated if I said how deeply it depresses me to feel that it is so.

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