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The Life of William late Earl of Mansfield. By John Holli
day, of Lincoln's Inn, Esq. F.R.S. and Barrisier at Law. 410. 11. 1s. Boards. Elmfly. 1797.
THE biographical department of English literature has been juftly reproached for a deficiency in the article of EMINENT LAWYERS; and the circumstance is not less a subject of surprise than of regret. Whatever paucity of incident may in general attend the lives of those who are devoted to the various branches of abstract learning, a similar barrenness of biographic materials will seldom be found in the private history of the chosen few, among the gentlemen of the long robe, whóarrive at profeffional diftinction : on the contrary, their lives are frequently distinguished by the trials of fortitude, and the struggles of perseverance; or, if auspicious patronage prepares a smoother way to legal eminence, there may yet be reasons which render a literary portrait of the fortunate individual peculiarly interesting to the public.
The latter description characterises the illustrious subject of thefe memoirs. To attract the discriminating favour of a Hardwicke, and to obtain the immortal panegyric of a Pope, were circumstances sufficient to give celebrity to the career of lord Mansfield, while employed in the duties of the advocate. That part of his life is confequently deftitute of the eventful complexion fo favourable to the delineations of the biographer. If we view him, however, in the capacity of a judge, it must be allowed that the fagacious equity of his decisions, the falcinating eloquence with which he adorned the dry topics of jurisprudence, and the personal dignity and affability which diftinguished his performance of the functions of his high magisterial situation, afford a very striking theme for literary eulogium.
The want of a proper tribute to these fplendid qualifications is thus noticed by the writer of the present work. • The author of these sheets has, during four revolving years, CRIT. REV. VOL. XXII. Jan, 1798.