Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux

English barrister, politician, and Lord Chancellor of Great Britain (1778-1868)

The Right Honourable Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, PC (September 19, 1778May 7, 1868) was a British statesman who became Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.

Quotes edit

  • The corresponding Society, except about six members, consists of the most dispicable and brutal of mobs. Men whose ignorance and savage barbarity renders them fit only for being tools—indeed, they are the common day laborers about town. This party, perfectly distinct in its nature from the opposition, has done more to ruin its cause, than Pitt and his party ever could have foreseen.
    • Letter to John Loch (30 May 1798), quoted in Brougham and His Early Friends: Letters to James Loch, 1798–1809, Vol. I (1908), p. 35
  • What is valuable is not new, and what is new is not valuable.
    • From The Edinburgh Review, The Work of Thomas Young (c. 1802)
  • The English Bar is in a very great degree tedious, and, to say the least of it, somewhat uncertain. I look forward with no small horror to five years' dull, unvaried drudgery, which must be undergone to obtain the privilege of drudging still harder, among a set of disagreeable people of brutal manners and confined talents.
    • Letter to John Loch (20 August 1802), quoted in Brougham and His Early Friends: Letters to James Loch, 1798–1809, Vol. I (1908), p. 344
  • The more I see and hear, the more I conceive some clear, short, and firm declaration of the party necessary, separating ourselves (without offensive expressions) from the Radicals, and avowing our loyalty, but at the same time our determination to stand by the constitution, and to oppose all illegal attempts to violate it, and all new laws to alter its free nature.
    • Letter to Lord Grey (1 November 1819), quoted in The Life and Times of Henry, Lord Brougham, Vol. II (1871), p. 351
  • There have been periods when the country heard with dismay that "the soldier was abroad." That is not the case now. Let the soldier be abroad; in the present age he can do nothing. Let the soldier be abroad if he will, he can do nothing in this age. There is another personage,—a personage less imposing in the eyes of some, perhaps insignificant. The schoolmaster is abroad, and I trust to him, armed with his primer, against the soldier in full military array, for upholding and extending the liberties of his country.
    • Speech, Opening of Parliament (January 29, 1828), reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 221.
  • Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.
    • Speech to the House of Commons (January 29, 1828).
  • In my mind, he was guilty of no error he — was chargeable with no exaggeration — he was betrayed by his fancy into no metaphor, who once said that all we see about us, Kings, Lords, and Commons, the whole machinery of the State, all the apparatus of the system, and its varied workings, end in simply bringing twelve men into a box.
    • Present State of the Law (February 7, 1828).
  • In my mind, he was guilty of no error, he was chargeable with no exaggeration, he was betrayed by his fancy into no metaphor, who once said, that all we see about us, Kings, Lords, and Commons, the whole machinery of the State, all the apparatus of the system, and its varied workings, end in simply bringing twelve good men into a box.
    • Present State of the Law (February 7, 1828).
  • Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties
    • Title of book (published 1830).
  • The Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill.
    • Slogan coined during the general election, regarding the Reform Bill (c. July 1830), quoted in Lord John Russell, Recollections and Suggestions, 1813–1873 (1875), p. 74
  • [He said] that might, slumbering in the arms of temperate freemen, which, though he hoped the fatal experiment never would be tried, he had a confident persuasion would, if it ever should become necessary, be uplifted as manfully as it was by their forefathers, when they marshalled the way, through blood and danger, to a free constitution... Of powers thus exercised, and for so hallowed a purpose, we have now a glorious example in a neighbouring nation, which has now made your case its own, and which, after long being, as some say, your enemy, has now become your competitor in the glorious race of liberty, which, roused by unbearable oppression, groaning—but that freemen will not groan—has risen in its might, and driven, as your forefathers drove, a tyrant from the throne which he had polluted, and from a capital which he had stained with the blood of free and innocent citizens. From this castle-yard, at the close of the American war, burst forth a flame in favour of parliamentary reform, which, spreading over the country, eclipsed, during the system of terror and persecution, by fires of a less pure and holy nature, quenched by the blood shed in the name of liberty by those who called themselves its votaries in France, has at length, now that peace has been restored to us, burst forth again with renovated splendour to illuminate your hearts, and with such vigour as will ultimately destroy the abuses of your country. I hail its progress with joy and rapture! Be it mine to fan the flame, &c.!
    • Speech in Yorkshire (August 1830), quoted in 'Reform in Parliament', Quarterly Review, vol. XLV (April & July 1831), p. 281
  • Do you think that a reporter has a right to supply or suppress any part of a judgment?
    • Cadell v. Palmer (1833), 1 Cl. & F. 372.
  • We, with all our monarchical principles—for I will not call them prejudices—we, with all our aristocratic feelings, for I will not call them superstitions—we, with all our natural abhorrence of the levelling system and a democratic form of government, were impatient of beholding a great and rising empire, founded by monarchical England's sons, a republic—a level republic—in the veins of whose members flowed the blood of aristocratic England. We saw those republican principles rooted and planted deep in the hearts and feelings of 3,000,000 of Englishmen—we saw them ruling, and conquering, and flourishing, without a king to govern, without a prelate to bless, without a noble to adorn them—we saw all this effected at the point of the sword after a series of defeat, disaster, and disgrace to the British arms. No wonder, then, that all strong feelings and deeply-rooted prejudices were called into fierce action so often as the successes of America were remembered—so often as the name of the new republic was pronounced.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (7 April 1843)
  • The judicial ought to be kept entirely distinct from the legislative and executive power in the State. This separation is necessary both to secure the independence of the judicial functions and to prevent their being influenced by the interests of party or by the voice of the people.
    • The British Constitution (1844), 322, 323; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 2-8.
  • The Judge has not organs to know and to deal with the text of the foreign law, and therefore requires the assistance of a foreign lawyer who knows how to interpret it.
    • Sussex Peerage Case (1844), 11 Cl. & F. 115.
  • A contract executed without any part performance.
    • R. v. Millis (1844), 16 C1. & Fin. 719; describing marriage.
  • Equity has not relieved against gross improvidence.
    • Duke of Beaufort v. Neeld (1845), 12 CI. & F. 260.
  • The Sovereign can only act by advisers, and through the instrumentality of those who are neither infallible nor impeccable— answerable, indeed, for all that the irresponsible Sovereign may do, but liable to err through undue influence, and to be swayed by improper motives.
    • Brownlow v. Egerton (1854), 23 L. J. Rep. Part 5 (N. S.), Ch. 390; 8 St. Tr. (N. S.) 258.
  • The same Being that fashioned the insect, whose existence is only discerned by a microscope, and gave that invisible speck a system of ducts and other organs to perform its vital functions, created the enormous mass of the planet thirteen hundred times larger than our earth, and launched it in its course round the sun, and the comet, wheeling with a velocity that would carry it round our globe in less than two minutes of time, and yet revolving through so prodigious a space that it takes near six centuries to encircle the sun!
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 274.
  • Real knowledge never promoted either turbulence or unbelief; but its progress is the forerunner of liberality and enlightened toleration.
    • Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 366.
  • Not a step can we take in any direction without perceiving the most extraordinary traces of design; and the skill everywhere conspicuous is calculated in so vast a proportion of instances to promote the happiness of living creatures, and especially of ourselves, that we feel no hesitation in concluding that, if we knew the whole scheme of Providence, every part would appear to be in harmony with a plan of absolute benevolence.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 261.
  • Death was now armed with a new terror.
    • Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Brougham delivered a very warm panegyric upon the ex-Chancellor, and expressed a hope that he would make a good end, although to an expiring Chancellor death was now armed with a new terror. Thomas Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors, vol. vii. p. 163. Lord St. Leonards attributes this phrase to Sir Charles Wetherell, who used it on the occasion referred to by Lord Campbell. It likely originates with the practice of Edmund Curll, who issued miserable catch-penny lives of every eminent person immediately after that person's decease. John Arbuthnot wittily styled him "one of the new terrors of death", Carruthers, Life of Pope (second edition), p. 149.

Attributed edit

  • The great unwashed.
    • Reported as attributed to Brougham in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 647-49.

Quotes about Brougham edit

  • Sometimes rhetorical phrases are applied even by eminent Judges to propositions of law. In Lord Dungannon v. Smith Lord Brougham in eloquent language declared it as "one of the corner stones of the law," and I understand the Lord Chancellor in the same case to have considered the decision in Jee v. Audley to be "one of the landmarks."
  • Lord Grey's first offer to Brougham was Attorney-General. Brougham took the letter and quietly tore it in two and threw it under his feet; that was his whole reply. He then reiterated his notice for Reform, and Lord Grey took fright, and would have given him the Rolls, but the king, forewarned, would not do that; and so he became Chancellor.
    • John Wilson Croker to Lord Hertford (8 December 1830), quoted in L. J. Jennings (ed.), The Croker Papers: The Correspondence and Diaries of the Late Right Honourable John Wilson Croker, LL.D., F.R.S., Secretary to the Admiralty from 1809 to 1830, Vol. II (1884), p. 80
  • The management of our press [for the 1807 election] fell into the hands of Mr. Brougham. With that active and able man I had become acquainted through Mr. Allen in 1805. At the formation of Lord Grenville's Ministry, he had written at my suggestion a pamphlet called The State of the Nation... His early connection with the Abolitionists had familiarized him with the means of circulating political papers, and given him some weight with those best qualified to co-operate in such an undertaking. His extensive knowledge and extraordinary readiness, his assiduity and habits of composition, enabled him to correct some articles, and to furnish a prodigious number himself.
    • Lord Holland, Memoirs of the Whig Party During My Time, Vol. II, ed. Henry Edward Lord Holland (1854), pp. 227-228
  • Brougham's success at the bar is prodigious; much more rapid and extensive than that of any barrister since Erskine's starting.
    • Francis Horner to J. A. Murray (8 December 1812), quoted in Memoirs and Correspondence of Francis Horner, M.P., Vol. II, ed. Leonard Horner (1843), p. 136
  • To be sure, he has done wonders this session. A mere tongue, without a party and without a character, in an unfriendly audience, and with an unfriendly Press, never did half so much before. As Sydney Smith says, "verily he hath a devil."
    • Thomas Macaulay to Macvey Napier (1 September 1838), quoted in Selections from the Correspondence of the Late Macvey Napier, Esq., ed. Macvey Napier (1879), p. 270
  • If left out he would indeed be dangerous; but if taken in he would simply be destructive. We may have little chance of being able to go on without him, but to go on with him would be impossible.
    • Lord Melbourne, remarks upon his appointment as Prime Minister (c. April 1835), quoted in W. M. Torrens, Memoirs of the Right Honourable William, Second Viscount Melbourne, Vol. II (1878), p. 111
  • Brougham...became...the educator and radicalizer of his party.
  • [On 3 February 1824] Mr. Brougham pronounced a tremendous philippick against their present designs, and former conduct. Excelling, as that learned gentleman's oratory does, in bitterness of sarcasm, and severity of attack, he seems on this occasion to have outdone all his former efforts of a similar kind. His words inspired in the breasts of his hearers the same indignation with which his own was evidently animated, and the House resounded with cheers at every pause, whilst he was dragging each separate Sovereign of the Allies before the tribunal of a free and popular assembly, to answer for their attempts to crush by mere physical force the just liberties of the world.
    • Augustus Stapleton, The Political Life of the Right Honourable George Canning, Vol. I (1831), p. 296
  • The cause of law reform in England for the last forty years can never be disjoined from the name of Henry Brougham.

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