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Viscount Haldane

Viscount Haldane: 'The Wicked Step-father of the Canadian Constitution'

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 336
  • Book Info
    Viscount Haldane
    Book Description:

    Vaughan's analysis of Haldane's legal philosophy and its impact on the Canadian constitution concludes that his Hegelian legacy is very much alive in today's Supreme Court of Canada and that it continues to shape the constitution and the lives of Canadians since the adoption of the CanadianCharter of Rights and Freedoms.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9385-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    R. Roy McMurtry and Jim Phillips

    Lord Haldane is well known to historians of Canadian constitutional law as one of the Privy Council judges most responsible for reshaping the division of powers in the direction of greater provincial power after the First World War. In this deeply researched biography, Frederick Vaughan, author of a biography of Emmett Hall published by the Osgoode Society in 2004, puts Haldane’s Canadian decisions in the context both of Haldane’s life and thought and of prior Canadian jurisprudence. Haldane’s education, his devotion to Hegelian philosophy, his work as a leading barrister, his various causes, especially educational reform, and his service in...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-2)

    The inscription on the headstone erected in the chapel of Gleneagles reads: ‘Richard Burdon, Viscount Haldane of Cloan, K.T., O.M., Born July 30th 1856, Died August 19th 1928. Secretary of State for War 1905–1912. Lord High Chancellor 1912–1915 and 1924. A great servant of the State who devoted his life to the advancement and application of knowledge. Through his work in fashioning her army he rendered invaluable aid to his country in her time of direst need.’ Missing from that encomium was the enormous role he played in shaping the constitution of Canada in the critical early years...

  6. Göttingen, 1874
    (pp. 3-4)
  7. 1 Home and School for the Mind
    (pp. 5-20)

    After loading the coach with crates of personal belongings – securing them tightly on the roof racks – Richard Burdon harnessed up the four stately brown horses for the long trip from Rotherhurst in Kent to West Jesmond near Newcastle in Northumberland. The year was 1826.

    A week before, he had received word that his father, Sir Thomas Burdon, was not well and he worried that he might not be able to get to see him before matters worsened.¹ He bundled up his wife and two young daughters and set out by coach road for Newcastle. The road, which scarcely deserved the...

  8. 2 The University of Edinburgh and the Seeds of German Philosophy
    (pp. 21-42)

    The towering presence at the University of Edinburgh of Sir William Hamilton, professor of logic and metaphysics and ‘the last great leader of the Common Sense school,’¹ turned heads in the direction of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Unlike most of his English contemporaries, Hamilton possessed a knowledge of German. He challenged the traditional Scottish orientation towards France with a call for more German philosophy in a provocative article in theEdinburgh Reviewfor 1829, entitled ‘The Philosophy of the Unconditioned.’ Hamilton put his considerable presence behind the turn towards German philosophy; he helped to prepare the ground for that...

  9. 3 The Practice of Law and Life in Parliament
    (pp. 43-74)

    Richard Haldane began the formal study of law as a ‘junior legal counsel’ or ‘devil’ in the well-known firm of Tods, Murray and Jamieson. There he immersed himself in conveyancing and Scottish feudal law. He also served for a brief period in the fall of 1876 and winter of 1877 as devil in the Drummond and Reid firm doing mercantile and other legal business prior to leaving for London and Lincoln’s Inn the following spring.

    From the earliest days of his legal education to the end of his life, London was to be his home. It was there, in the...

  10. 4 From the Inns of Court to the War Office
    (pp. 75-102)

    Shortly after taking silk in January 1890, Richard Haldane’s personal life underwent a decisive change of direction: that old ‘force’ that had blindsided him several years before struck once again. In the spring of that year he became engaged to Valentine Munro Ferguson, a young woman he had known for many years. She was of a distinguished Scottish family. Her brother, Ronald Crauford Munro Ferguson, was four years younger than Richard Haldane. They both entered Parliament the same year as Liberals. Ferguson served as member for Leith from 1886 to 1914, and he was elevated to the rank of viscount...

  11. 5 Haldane in the School of the Master
    (pp. 103-117)

    In adopting Hegel as his guide, Haldane must surely have known that he was entering a deeply divided fraternity of scholars. German philosophers had become the centre of serious attention throughout the Western academic world. For a time it appeared that Immanuel Kant, the reclusive Königsberg professor, would prevail unchallenged for the foreseeable future. That ended with the arrival of Hegel armed with a sweeping new historical philosophy of state. He soon accumulated almost as many enemies as friends when he burst upon the European philosophical scene in the middle of the nineteenth century. Any attempt to distil or summarize...

  12. 6 Haldane in the Shadow of Lord Watson
    (pp. 118-144)

    At the height of his busy life at the War Office – with occasional side ventures into higher education in the company of the Webbs – it looked to Richard Haldane, in the first decade of the twentieth century, as if the remainder of his life was destined to be spent in such ministerial matters, far away from his profession as a barrister. And while he remained actively involved in the pursuit of philosophy and kept close contact with professional philosophers such as Bosanquet and Pringle-Pattison, and men of science such as Einstein, these associations remained on the periphery of his formal...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. 7 Haldane and the Reign of Sittlichkeit
    (pp. 145-164)

    Few judges took as much delight in expounding publicly the philosophical foundations of their thinking as Viscount Haldane. He embraced every opportunity to speak or to write about the fundamental principles which guided his judicial reasoning. Prior to delivering the Gifford Lectures in 1902, for example, Richard Haldane publishedEducation and Empirein which he set out his thoughts on university education, especially his plans for a new college of science and technology in London on the German model of ‘scientific training,’ as well as his musings on the ‘Constitutional Development of the Empire.’ This book reveals that he had...

  15. 8 In the High Court of Hegel
    (pp. 165-187)

    Richard Burdon Haldane, now Viscount Haldane of Cloan, in one important sense picked up where Lord Watson had left off: during his tenure on the Judicial Committee, he continued to favour the legislative aspirations of the Canadian provinces. But it is a mistake to view Haldane’s judicial contributions as simply the continuation of Watson’s decentralization of the Canadian constitution, however formally he was bound by the decisions of his predecessor. The story is more complicated than that, and Haldane was a far more complicated man than his predecessor. And just as Watson had found ways around inconvenient precedents, so too...

  16. 9 The State and the Reign of Relativity
    (pp. 188-198)

    No matter how one likes to cut it, Haldane’s jurisprudence in Canadian constitutional cases was tortuous. Despite David Schneiderman’s efforts to explain it by placing it in the context of the emerging debate at the time over ‘corporate personality,’ a debate influenced by the ideas of Frederic William Maitland and Harold Laski, it remains, as Saywell pointedly remarks, ‘bizarre.’¹

    Haldane’s jurisprudence can be understood from his own writings alone; it does not require the support of external forces such as the writings of Maitland or others. One of the principal resources available for an understanding of Haldane’s jurisprudence is his...

  17. 10 Supreme Tribunal of the Empire
    (pp. 199-222)

    There is no disputing that Richard Burdon Haldane had his full share of successes at the War Office and on the Judicial Committee. But he was singularly unsuccessful in his efforts to transform the Judicial Committee and the House of Lords into a ‘supreme tribunal of the Empire.’ Nor was he successful in his attempts at reorganizing the office of the lord chancellor or instituting a ministry of justice responsible to the House of Commons. Indeed, his life’s story would be seriously incomplete if it were not to reveal how central to his ambitions were these failed causes. By reconstituting...

  18. 11 Recollections and Last Days
    (pp. 223-237)

    Richard Burdon Haldane stood out among his friends for one small thing among others: he remained throughout his life clean-shaven in the midst of friends who were wrapped in facial whiskers. To say nothing of George Bernard Shaw, whose great beard has become legendary, Haldane’s older friend Edward Caird – successor to Benjamin Jowett as master of Balliol College, Oxford – sported the grandest mutton chops in an effort to distract attention from his complete baldness. Another friend of Haldane’s, Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison, prided himself on a great white beard that balanced his full head of equally white hair, making him look...

  19. Postscript: The Haldane Legacy and the Modern Court
    (pp. 238-258)

    Most Canadians outside the narrow confines of university philosophy departments will be surprised to learn that G.W.F. Hegel has sunk deep roots in our culture and continues to exercise a considerable influence. As Robert Fulford noted in his review of Robert C. Sibley’sNorthern Spirits: John Watson, George Grant and Charles Taylor: Appropriations of Hegelian Political Thought, ‘Canada has Hegelian feminists, Hegelian constitutionalists, Hegelian sociologists, Hegelian political scientists.’¹ Fulford continued: ‘Sibley ... suggests that even Canadians who don’t actually read Hegel are intuitively Hegelian.’ Hegel’s Canadian presence is so pervasive that it led David MacGregor to conclude in ‘Canada’s Hegel,’...

  20. Notes
    (pp. 259-290)
  21. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-302)
  22. Index
    (pp. 303-308)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-312)