Home  »  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men  »  Lord Ellenborough

S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Lord Ellenborough

  • [Edward Law, an eminent English judge; born in Cumberland, 1750; leading counsel for Warren Hastings, 1785; attorney-general, 1801; chief-justice of the King’s Bench, 1802, and raised to the peerage; died 1818.]
  • Mr. Preston, we are bound to hear you, and I hope we shall do so on Friday; but, alas! pleasure has been long out of the question.

  • To Mr. Preston, the famous conveyancer, who in arguing a case had not exhausted the “Year-Books” by evening, and applied to know when it would be their lordships’ pleasure to hear the remainder of his argument. Another tiresome conveyancer, having, toward the end of Easter Term, occupied the court an entire day about the merger of a term, the chief-justice said to him, “I am afraid, sir, the term, although a long one, will merge in your argument.”—CAMPBELL: Life, chap. li.
  • A smartly dressed Quaker came into court, and, when tendered the Bible, demanded to be allowed to affirm. As he did not wear the distinguishing features of his sect, Ellenborough asked him, “Do you really mean to impose upon the court by appearing here in the disguise of a reasonable being?” This reminds one of Talleyrand, who said to Mme. de Staël of her “Delphine,” which was thought to contain a caricature of him in the character of an old woman, “That is the book, is it not, in which you and I are exhibited in the disguise of females?” The masculine character of the authoress gave point to the question.
  • Of Michael Angelo Taylor, who, though very short of stature, says Campbell, was well knit, and thought himself a very great man, Lord Ellenborough said, “His father, the sculptor, had fashioned him for a pocket-Hercules.”—Ibid.
  • Erskine urged Ellenborough to take the Great Seal, while the latter knew that if he refused it, it would be offered to Erskine: he therefore twitted the great advocate upon his ignorance of equity by the question, “How can you ask me to accept the office of lord chancellor, when I know as little of its duties as you do?”
  • You may go on, sir: so far, the court is quite with you.

  • A young counsel, who had the reputation of being a very impudent fellow, began his speech, “The unfortunate client, who appears by me,”—and, after repeating it two or three times, stopped short. “You may go on, sir,” said Ellenborough, in his mildest tone: “so far, the court is quite with you.”—Ibid.
  • The demagogue Hunt began his address in mitigation of punishment for sedition, by complaining that he had been accused of “dangerous eloquence;” when Ellenborough interrupted him by saying, “My impartiality as a judge calls upon me, sir, to say, that, in accusing you of that, they do you great injustice.”—Ibid.
  • A tedious bishop having yawned during his own speech, Lord Ellenborough remarked, “Come, come, the fellow shows some symptoms of taste; but this is encroaching on our province.”
  • Randle Jackson, a declamatory speaker, who despised technicalities, and relied on his eloquence, began his argument, “In the book of nature it is written”—“Be good enough, sir,” broke in the chief-justice, “to mention the page from which you are about to quote.”
  • When told that the penurious Lord Kenyon was dying, “Die?” asked Ellenborough, “what will he get by that?” Lord Campbell says that he often heard the traditional description of the large, gloomy house which Lord Kenyon occupied in Lincoln’s Inn Fields: “All the year through, it is Lent in the kitchen, and Passion Week in the parlor.” Some one having mentioned, that, although the fire was very dull in the kitchen-grate, the spits were always bright; “It is quite irrelevant,” said Jekyll, “to talk about the spits, for nothing turns upon them.” Being told that the motto “Mors Janua Vita,” put up in the hatchment over Lord Kenyon’s house after his death, was a mistake of the printer (for vitæ); “Mistake!” exclaimed Ellenborough, “it is no mistake. The considerate testator left particular directions in his will that the estate should not be burdened with the expense of a diphthong.”—Life of Kenyon, chap. xlv.