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THE LATE 5IR. JUSTICE
A serious public loss lins fallen on the country iu the death of his Honour Mr. Justice Harding. The manner of his deatli was in keeping with his life. A sensible Hush lay on the city last week when it became known that the senior Puisne Judge lay in his chambers hovering between life and death. Stricken down while in the con- duct of a case on Wednesday, calling in jurors and counsel on Thursday that he might do his last summing up, unable to be removed from the court-house, he died within three days of perfect vigour and judi- cial activity. Perhaps had a choice been given him he would not have asked to die otherwise. He might have wished a few years more of life, but he would have thought it better to die in the strength of his intellect than with impaired faculties, and in the midst of valuable work than after prolonged idle- ness. Idleness was a condition which Mr. Justice Harding could not tolerate ; and if any lesson stands out more promi- nently than another from his life it is that of work. His industry and power of application were marvellous. How many of our young men in any profes- sion are capable of writing a text-hook, and a book which lives and finds edition after edition called for, before they are of age '! Something of this activity no doubt was due to early circumstances. Mr. Justice Harding, like so many emi- nent men in all professions, was a son of the parsonage. Example and neces- sity combined to form bis character. 'Love of knowledge and love oí work wore the gifts be carried from his home into tlie world, and they are of the greatest. Readers of the interesting reminiscences whick we have had the pleasure of publishing will remember that the Judge ascribed his early suc- cess partly to the fact that when other barristers were absent from their cham- bers he could be relied on by solicitors and clients as "always there." The phrase comes to us now with a pathetic ring when wo know that up to the last moment he was there. And this in- dustry was ¡gore thau professional. It was that in the first place of course. He could not have attained his large practice at Uie Bar without it. And though as a Judge lie never went out of his way to display his learning, and was not a little intolerant of such display in others, few men could be more confidently ii'lied on for a knowledge of ali relevant cases. His professional industry linds its monument botli in numerous compilations and in the Sup- reme Court Library, which is almost entirely his ceatlon. But his mental activity went beyond the legal sphere, and so escaped the narrowness too often characteristic! of professional men. Every book of interest in any depart- ment of literature or learning found its way to his private library. Wo have no adinirat'oa for the book-gathering mania which may be only a covering for mental vacuity. Hut lu Judge Hard- ing'» case it meant au enrichment which enlarged liie whole man, and not in- frequently scintillated on the Bench.
Of lils merits as a Judge his legal brethren will no doubt speak at length. We print this morning an eloquent, manly, and discriminating tribute to his wortli from his old colleague at the Bar and ou the Bench, Sir Charles ' Lilley. Hut one or two points may be noted by the laity. Ile was conscientious to Hie backbone. Not that he insisted unduly on technicalities; he was even willing to let these go ir the public convenience was thereby to be served ; and still less would lie per- mit them to be abused as instruments of oppression. Ills conscientiousness showed its Mi* not only in thorough work, but in that exclusive regard to tile re- quirements c-f law, approved or unap proved, which makes the strength ol' the English Bench. It «as inevitable that, with such a conception of his duty, he should make some enemies. Amid tile public excitement and confused clnmour which 'filled tho air during the great sheaiu-s- strike of ISO!, and which in America might have demoralised the very Judges, he nent straight forward to the fulfilment of the task laid on bim by lils country's law:;. We are much mistaken if the "some things" which " have happened Muee then" have not favourably changed the opinions of the party who thought them- selves seriously aggrieved. The truth is that few Judges have been more con- siderate than Mr. Justice Harding of the true interests of the public. For one thing, be lias persistently set his face against the piling up of COS:J. He bas taken occasion, both in his " reml
iiiscences" and on the Bench, to "condemn that careless tinkering with the statutes in which rarliament so often indulges ns most burdensome to the people and to the administration of justice ; and lie has kept a tight rein on such proceedings of counsel ns might needlessly add to the expense of litigation. - The very case before him when he broke down, and which lie made so heroic an eliott to finish, he had taken with reluctance, and had striven to have settled out of court as undeserving of the expense in- volved. It may be added in this con- nection, and as a corrective of ideas prevalent in some quarters on the sub- ject, that when Mr. Harding accepted tlie position he has held so efficiently and honourably for sixteen years he was íeportcd to be making nu income twice as much as the ainouut of salary attached to the judgeship. It Is safe to say that by his industry, by his in- dependence, by the lucidity and justness of his decisions, by his maintenance of the high prestige of a Supreme Court of Justice, tlie late Judge has conferred advantages upon the country which could not have boen and never can be purchased with money. The very large attendance at the funeral ceremony of yesterday was significant both of the impression made by the tragic event of the week and the esteem in wbicli the deceased Judge was held.