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The Life of William late Eart of Mansfield. By John Holliday, of Lincoln's Inn, Efq. F.R. S. and Barrifier at Law. 410. 11. 1s. Boards. Elmfly. 1797.
THE biographical department of English literature has been justly reproached for a deficiency in the article of EMINENT LAWYERS; and the circumstance is not lefs a fubject of furprise 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 fimilar barrenness of biographic materials will feldom be found in the private hiftory of the chofen few, among the gentlemen of the long robe, who arrive at profeffional diftinction: on the contrary, their lives are frequently distinguished by the trials of fortitude, and the ftruggles of perfeverance; or, if aufpicious 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 defcription characterifes the illuftrious subject of thefe memoirs. To attract the difcriminating favour of a Hardwicke, and to obtain the immortal panegyric of a Pope, were circumstances fufficient 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 decifions, the fafcinating eloquence with which he adorned the dry topics of jurifprudence, and the perfonal dignity and affability which diftinguifhed his performance of the functions of his high magifterial fituation, 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 thefe fheets has, during four revolving years,