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THE RIGHT HON.
D.C.L., M.P., J.P., AND D.L.
THE Chief Secretary for Ireland, as Sir Michael HicksBeach is still called across the Channel, is the eldest son of the late Sir Michael Hicks Hicks-Beach, the Eighth Baronet, his mother being Harriett Vittoria, second daughter of John Stratton, Esq., of Farthinghoe Lodge, Northamptonshire. He was born on October 23rd, 1837, in Portugal Street, Grosvenor Square. The subject of this sketch was educated at Eton, afterwards entering at Christ Church, Oxford, where he had a distinguished career, graduating B.A. in 1858, and M.A. in 1861. In 1879 an honorary D.C.L. degree was conferred upon him. In 1864 Sir Michael was elected M.P. for East Gloucestershire in the Conservative interest, retaining his seat for the county until the present hour—a period of seventeen years. The other member (Mr. Yorke) is not only the colleague of Sir Michael, but he was born but a twelvemonth before him, and, strangely enough, was also an Etonian, and was educated at the same University. There has been no contest in East Gloucestershire since 1854, when Sir Michael's father was returned by a majority of more than 1,000 votes; the sitting Members being too popular to give the Liberals any encouragement to wrest this strong - hold of Constitutionalism from them. Sir Michael had not been in the House of Commons very long before it was found that he possessed not only considerable political acumen, but great administrative ability; and the late Earl of Beaconsfield suggested that the then comparatively young Member for East Gloucestershire would make an admirable Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board, which office he filled for nearly a twelvemonth (from Feb. till December, 1868). During a few weeks of this period, Sir Michael Hicks Beach was Under Secretary of State for the Home Department. On the re-accession to office of the Conservatives, in 1874, Lord Beaconsfield—with characteristic penetration-appointed Sir Michael Hicks-Beach to the Chief Secretaryship for Ireland, the Duke of Abercorn* being Lord Lieutenant. This office he retained until 1878, when he became Secretary for the Colonies, holding this position until the advent of the present Government in 1880. We stated at the outset that Sir Michael HicksBeach is still called the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It does not require many words to prove why this is so. During his four years of office he evinced not only a warm interest in the people, but his action in the House of Commons was dignified by a rare capacity for legislating for the dissatisfied population of the sister island ; and the generous Irish heart, ever ready to appreciate honest effort on its behalf, was moved to an unwonted pitch of enthusiasm. Whatever of evil, or of contentment, may result from the Land Act of this Session, no statesman is more qualified to give an opinion upon its probable effects, than Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. His knowledge is the result of a thoughtful experience, but no such expression as “ Party" entered his vocabulary when he was Chief Secretary. That the traditions of the school to which he belongs are more in harmony with remedial legislation than those of the Government now in office, of course Sir Michael would insist upon; but his conscientious labours for the pacification of Ireland were far beyond the accident of politics, and he set himself to work as a statesman and not as a partisan. The more recent speeches of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach proclaim his subtle knowledge of Ireland and the Irish.
* For memoir of the Duke of Abercorn, see the October number.
But public work and its consequent anxieties did not thoroughly exhaust the subject of this sketch. He has taken a very active part in the local affairs of his county ; and what are called "Agricultural Politics” have ever found a practical exponent in Sir Michael. He has been, in past years, Chairman of the Cirencester Chamber of Agriculture (in his own immediate neighbourhood); and, subsequently, Chairman of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, in London. And for the long space of twenty-two years--even while holding public office-Sir Michael HicksBeach has entirely managed his own landed property—of no inconsiderable extent-in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. The best way to ascertain the popularity, or otherwise, of a landlord, is to visit his estates and call on the tenantry. From considerable experience in this direction we have no hesitation in placing it upon permanent record that no living English landlord is more beloved. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach was never content with a mere hearsay-knowledge of the welfare of his tenants. He has ever made personal enquiry into the veriest details, devoting time which one would think he could scarcely have spared to the subject. The result is that his “people" (as an old Wiltshire lady insisted on calling the tenants of Sir Michael) are contented and prosperous, and like those of the Duke of Wellington, in Hants, they are ever honest enough to bear testimony to the equitable treatment they receive.
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach has travelled a great deal, and in 1870 he spent much of the year in the United States and in Canada.
In 1864 the Right Hon. gentleman married (1) Caroline Susan, daughter of J. H. Elwes, Esq., and in 1874 (2) Lucy Catherine, daughter of the Third Earl Fortescue. He is a J.P. and D.L. for Gloucestershire.
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach is a sound Churchman, with leanings towards the Anglo-Catholic movement. He has never been a party-man, however, and is ever ready and willing to help on every movement which has for its object the spiritual or temporal benediction of the race.
CHARLES HALL, Q.C.
MR. CHARLES HALL is the second son of the Honorable the Vice-Chancellor Sir Charles Hall, and was born in London on the 3rd August. 1843. He was educated at Harrow, and afterwards proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1865, and M.A. in 1868. Mr. Hall was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in November, 1866, going the Sussex Sessions and the Home Circuit. In 1877 (November) he was appointed AttorneyGeneral to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, and in 1878 he was appointed Tubman to the Court of Exchequer.
This ancient office gave pre-audience in the Court of Exchequer over the whole of the Bar (the "Postman ”-a kindred office-excepted). It ceased to exist upon Mr. Hall's vacating it, when appointed one of Her Majesty's Counsel on June 3rd, 1881. Mr. Hall is a Member of the South Eastern Circuit.
Coming from an ancient English family-not a few members of which have been eminent lawyers—Mr. Charles Hall has had the advantage, not only of a gentle ancestry, but also of a thoroughly legal training and legal traditions. His father-one of the soundest and most respected of English judges—may well be proud of so distinguished a son, who, with the exception of the late Lord Justice Thesiger, is one of the youngest barristers who ever took silk. He is considered by members of his own profession as certain of a Judgeship, and that before very long. Should their anticipations be realised, we should have the unique spectacle of a father and son both dispensing justice at the same time from the Bench, the nearest modern approach to which is the case of the Coleridges.
Mr. Charles Hall is unmarried, and belongs to the Marlborough, White's, the Garrick, and the Turf Clubs.
SIR CHARLES FORSTER, BART., M.P.
THE three most familiar and venerated figures in ancient Westminster of this generation are those of the late Lord Hatherley and Dean Stanley, and the subject of this memoir, Sir Charles Forster. Either in the Abbey, the streets, or the old Hall of Westminster, one is almost sure of meeting the genial statesman, when he is in London, who forms the subject of this sketch. Although getting to stoop a little, through study and close attention to political life, Sir Charles has lost none of his characteristic impulsiveness, and without being in any one sense a martinet his devotion to personal duty, and his objection to the dolce far niente is proverbial. The late Dean of Westminster once characterised Sir Charles Forster to the writer as “his most philosophical auditor.” Sir Charles generally went to the Abbey when the Dean or any one else of note occupied the pulpit.
Sir Charles Forster who was born in 1815, graduated at Oxford in 1840, in which year he married Frances Catherine, daughter of John Surtees, Esq., of Newcastle, and neice to Lord Chancellor Eldon, by whom he has three sons. Sir Charles has served in Parliament twenty-nine years, having been returned in 1852 for Walsall, of which borough his father was the first representative on its enfranchisement by the Reform Act of 1832. During that time he has held the seat uninterruptedly, having been only twice opposed, on both of which occasions he defeated his opponents by very large majorities. He has taken an active part in the business of the House, and served on its standing Committees. For the last sixteen years the subject of this sketch has been Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions, in which capacity he has to discharge very responsible and delicate duties, as the organ of the Committee of the House in vindicating the course which has been taken in the acceptance or rejection of petitions, on the ground of informality or "breach of privilege.” Throughout the whole of his parliamentary career he has been a faithful follower of Mr. Gladstone, and given a uniform support to the various measures of progress introduced by him and other Liberal statesmen. He took a prominent part in checking the evils of the “Truck” system, which at one time prevailed extensively in South Staffordshire, and was Chairman of the Select Committee appointed on this subject in 1854. He also succeeded in removing a great blot on our criminal jurisprudence by abolishing forfeiture on conviction of treason and felony. His Bill for the repeal of that“ barbarous relic of a barbarous age” received the Royal assent in the session of 1870. His speech on the Second Reading is worthy of recall.
Mr. C. Forster in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time said, “his object was to abolish the law which forfeited to the Crown the property of any person convicted of felony. It was identical with the Bill he had introduced in 1864 on the same subject. The history of the question since that time, however, afforded a striking illustration of the difficulties with which private members had to contend in endeavouring to pass through that House the simplest measure of public utility. Before 1864 the proposed legislation had been twice recommended by the Statute Law Commissioners, and when he introduced his Bill it was