Page:Men of the Time, eleventh edition.djvu/182

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BRETT.

St. Lucia, which post he held till Oct., 1861. In that capacity he was present in Martinique in August, 1859, at the inauguration of a statue to the Empress Josephine, when he delivered an address in French, for which he received the special thanks of the Emperor Napoleon III.; but the chief incident in his administration was the visit to St. Lucia, in March, 1861, of Prince Alfred, now Duke of Edinburgh. He has written, "St. Lucia, Historical, Statistical, and Descriptive," 1844; "The Diamond Rock and other Poems," 1849; "Modern English Literature: its Blemishes and Defects," 1857; "Warrawarra, the Carib Chief, a Tale of 1770," 2 vols., 1876; and some other works which appeared anonymously. He has also contributed to periodical literature.

BRETT, The Right Hon. Sir William Baliol, Master of the Rolls, eldest surviving son of the Rev. Joseph George Brett, of Ranelagh, Chelsea, by Dora, daughter of George Best, Esq., late of Chilston Park, Kent, was born in 1817. From Westminster School he was sent to Caius College, Cambridge (B.A. 1840; M.A. 1845). At this period he was famous for his skill in rowing, and he was in three University crews. In 1846 he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. He chose the Northern circuit, and soon acquired a large practice. He possessed a peculiar knowledge of ships and nautical matters, and also of many mercantile pursuits; and he displayed rare skill in selecting the topics most pleasing to juries, and in presenting business matters clearly to business men. In March, 1860, he obtained his silk gown, and at the same time he was made a bencher of his Inn. His political career commenced in 1866, when, in view of a general election, he went down to Rochdale to oppose Mr. Cobden, and in this advanced Liberal borough declared himself to be, not merely a Conservative, but a Tory. Nevertheless he made so much progress among the constituents, that Mr. Cobden deemed it prudent to visit Rochdale personally, in order to defend his seat. Mr. Brett did not succeed in his bold attempt, and he failed in the contest against Mr. T. B. Potter. In July, 1866, he stood for Helston in Cornwall. This election became famous from the circumstance of there being a tie, and the Mayor assuming to give after four o'clock a casting vote. For doing this the Mayor was summoned before the House of Commons, and Mr. Brett was seated on petition. Mr. Brett represented Helston till 1868, being in Feb. of that year appointed Solicitor-General, on which occasion he received the honour of knighthood. During the short period he remained in office he took a prominent part in passing, in 1868, the Registration Act, which enabled the general election to be taken in that year, and the Corrupt Practices Act, which is now in force. In Aug., 1868, when it was known that the Conservative party had failed to gain the support of the country, he was appointed a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and by the operation of the Judicature Act, he became a Judge of the High Court of Justice in 1875. He tried the gas-stokers, and passed on them a sentence, which, by some persons, was deemed unduly harsh, and by others a necessary sentence, considering the great danger caused to the metropolis by the strike. His sentence on Col. Valentine Baker was also much criticised. In Oct., 1876, he was made a Judge of the intermediate Court of Appeal, and added to the Privy Council. In April, 1883, he was appointed Master of the Rolls, on the recommendation of Mr. Gladstone, in the place of the late Sir George Jessel. He married, in 1850, Eugenie, daughter of Louis Mäyer