網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cess in the higher departments of the profes- then, has often, on the instant, to select out of sion. An advocate should not only throw his a variety of matters, precisely those which will mind into the cause, but his heart also. It is make the best show, and be least exposed to not enough that the ingenuity is engaged to observation and answer; to estimate the proelicit strength, or conceal weakness, unless bable case which lies hid in his adversary's the sympathies are fairly enlisted on the same brief, and prepare his own to elude its force; side. To men of lofty habits of thinking, or to decide between the advantage of producing of cold constitution, this is impossible, unless a witness and the danger of exposing him; or, the case is of intrinsic magnitude, or the client if he represents the defendant, to apply evi. has been wise enough to supply an artificial dence to a case new in many of its aspects, or stimulus in the endorsement on the brief. take the grave responsibility of offering none. Such men, therefore, are only excellent in pe. Besides the opportunity which the forms and culiar cases, where their sluggish natures are mode of trial give to the exercise of skill, the quickened, and their pride gratified or disarmed laws of evidence afford still greater play for by a high issue, or a splendid fee. Persons, ingenuity, and ground for caution. Some of on the other hand, who are prevented from these are founded on principle; some on mere saying “ no,” not by cowardice, but by sym- precedent; some caprice; some on a desire to pathy; whose hearts open to all who happen swell the revenue; and all serve to perplex to be their companions; whose prejudices the game of Nisi Prius, and give advantages vanish with a cordial grasp of the hand, or to its masters. The power which they exhibit melt before a word of judicious flattery; who among its intricacies is really admirable, and have a spare fund of warmth and kindness to may almost be considered as a lower order of bestow on whoever seeks it; and who, ener- genius. Its efforts must be immediate ; for the getic in action, are wavering in opinion, and exigency presses, and the lawyer, like the infirm of purpose, will be delighted advocates, woman, “who deliberates is lost.” He cannot if they happen also to possess industry and stop to recollect a precedent, or to estimate all nerve. The statement in their brief is enough the consequences of a single step; yet he deto convert them into partisans, ready to triumph cides boldly and justly. His tact is, in truth, in the cause, if it is good, and to cling to it, if the result of a great number of impressions, it is hopeless, as to a friend in misfortune. By of which he is now unconscious, which gives this instinct of sociality, they are enabled not him a kind of intuitive power to arrive at once only to throw life into its details, and energy at the right conclusion. Iis effects do not make into its struggles, but to create for themselves a show in the newspapers: but they are very a personal interest with the jury, which they eloquent in the sheriff's office, and in the rolls turn to the advantage of their clients. It has of the court. often been alleged that the practice of the law Besides exerting these qualities, a leader prepares men to abandon their principles in may render his statements not only perspicuthe hour of temptation; but it will often ap- ous but elegant; relieve the dulness of a cause pear, on an attentive survey of their character, by wit not too subtle; and sometimes enliven that the extent of their practice was the effect the court by a momentary play of fancy. To rather than the cause of their inconstancy.' describe Mr. Erskine, when at the bar, is to They are not unstable because they were suco ascertain the highest intellectual eminence to cessful barristers, but became successful bar- which a barrister, under the most favourable risters by virtue of the very qualities which circumstances, may safely aspire. He had no render them unstable. They do not yield on imaginative power, no originality of thought, a base calculation of honour or gain, but be- no great comprehension of intellect, to encumcause they cannot resist a decisive compliment ber his progress. Inimitable as pleadings, his paid to their talents by the advisers of the corrected speeches supply nothing which, taken crown. They are undone by the very trick of apart from its context and the occasion, is sympathy which has often moulded them to worthy of a place in the memory. Their most the purposes of their clients, and swayed juries brilliant passages are but commonplaces exto their pleasure.

quisitely wrought, and curiously adapted to But the great power of a Nisi Prius advo- his design. Had his mind been pregnant with cate consists of tact in the management of a greater things, teeming with beautiful images, cause. Of this a by-stander sees but little ; if or endued with deep wisdom, he would have the art be consummate, nothing; and he is, been less fitted to shed lustre on the ordinary with difficulty, made to comprehend its full feelings and transactions of life. If he had value. He hears the cause tried fairly out; been able to answer Pitt without fainting, or observes perhaps witnesses on both sides ex- to support Fox without sinking into insignifiamined; and thinking the whole merits have cance, he would not have been the delight of been necessarily disclosed, he sees no room special juries, and the glory of the Court of for peculiar skill, except in the choice of topics King's Bench. For that sphere, his powers, to address to the jury. But a trial is not a his acquisitions, and his temperament were hearing of all the matters capable of discovery exactly framed. He brought into it, indeed, which are relevant to the issue, or which accomplishments never displayed there before would assist an impartial mind in forming a in equal perfection-glancing wit, rich humour, just decision. It is an artificial mode of de- infinite grace of action, singular felicity of termination, bounded by narrow limits, go- language, and a memory elegantly stored, yet verned by artificial rules, and allowing each not crowded with subjects of classical and fanparty to present to the court as much or as ciful illustration. Above his audience, he was little of his own case as he pleases. A leader, not beyond their sight, and he possessed rare

facilities of raising them to his own level. In anxiety in the crisis of a cause, but instantly this purpose he was aided by his connection decides among complicated difficulties, and is with a noble family, by a musical voice, and almost always right. He can bridge over a by an eloquent eye, which enticed men to for- nonsuit with insignificant facts, and tread upon give, and even to admire his natural polish the gulf steadily but warily to its end. What and refined allusions. But his moral qualities Johnson said of Burke's manner of treating a tended even more to win them. Who could subject is true of his management of a cause, resist a disposition overflowing with kindness, “he winds himself into it like a great serpent." animal spirits as elastic as those of a school. He does not take a single view of it, nor deboy, and a love of gayety and pleasure which sert it when it begins to fail, but throws himshone out amidst the most anxious labours? self into all its windings, and struggles in it His very weaknesses became instruments of while it has life. There is a lucid arrangefascination. His egotism, his vanity, his per- ment, and sometimes a light vein of pleasantry sonal frailties, were all genial, and gave him and feeling in his opening speeches; but his an irresistible claim to sympathy. His warm- greatest visible triumph is in his replies. These est colours were drawn, not from the fancy, do not consist of a mere series of ingenious but the affections. If he touched on the ro- remarks on conflicting evidence; still less of a mantic, it was on the little chapter of romance tiresome examination of the testimony of each which belongs to the most hurried and feverish witness singly; but are as finely arranged on life. The unlettered clown, and the assiduous the instant, and thrown into as noble and detradesman, understood him, when he revived cisive masses, as if they had been prepared in some bright recollection of childhood, or the study. By a vigorous grasp of thought, he brought back on the heart the enjoyments of forms a plan and an outline, which he first disold friendship, or touched the chord of domes- tinctly marks, and then proceeds to fill up with tic love and sorrow. He wielded with skill masterly touches. When a case has been and power the weapons which precedent sup- spread over half a day, and apparently shattered plied, but he rarely sought for others. When by the speech and witnesses of his adversary, he defended the rights of the subject, it was he will gather it up, condense, concentrate, and not by abstract disquisition, but by freshening render it conclusive. He imparts a weight up anew the venerable customs and immuni- and solidity to all that he touches. Vague ties which he found sanctioned by courts and suspicions become certainties, as he exhibits parliaments, and infusing into them new en them; and circumstances light, valueless, and ergy. He entrenched himself within the forms unconnected till then, are united together, and of pleading, even when he ventured to glance come down in wedges which drive conviction into literature and history. These forms he into the mind. Of this extraordinary power, rendered dignified as a fence against oppres- his reply on the first trial of "The King v. sion, and cast on them sometimes the playful Collins," where he gained the verdict against hues of his fancy. His powers were not only evidence and justice, was a wonderful speciadapted to his sphere, but directed by admi- men. If such a speech is not an effort of genius, rable discretion and taste. In small causes he it is so much more complete than many works was never betrayed into exaggeration, but con- which have a portion of that higher faculty, trived to give an interest to their deiails, and that we almost hesitate to place it below them. to conduct them at once with dexterity and Mr. Scarlett, in the debate on the motion relagrace. His jests told for arguments; his di- tive to the Chancellor's attack on Mr. Abergressions only threw the jury off their guard, crombie, showed that he has felt it necesthat he might strike a decisive blow; his au- sary to bend his mind considerably to the roudacity was always wise. His firmness was no tine of his practice. He was then surprised less under right direction than his weaknesses. into his own original nature; and forgetting He withstood the bench, and rendered the bar the measured compass of his long adopted immortal service; not so much by the courage voice and manner, spoke out in a broad northof the resistance, as by the happy selection of ern dialect, and told daring truths which astoits time, and the exact propriety of its manner. nished the house. It is not thus, however, that He was, in short, the most consummate advo- he wins verdicts and compels the court to grant cate of whom we have any trace; he left his "rules to show cause!" profession higher than he found it; and yet, Mr. Brougham may, at first, appear to form beyond its pale, he was only an incomparable an exception to the doctrines we have endeacompanion, a lively pamphleteer, and a weak voured to establish; but, on attentive consiand superficial debater!

deration, will be found their most striking exMr. Scarlett, the present leader of the Court ample. True it is, that this extraordinary man, of King's Bench, has less brilliancy than his who, without high birth, splendid fortune, or predecessor, but is not perhaps essentially in- aristocratic connection, has, by mere intellecferior to him in the management of causes. tual power, become the parliamentary leader He studiously disclaims imagination; he rarely of the whigs of England, is at last beginning addresses the passions; but he now and then to succeed in the profession he has condegives indications which prove that he has scended to follow. But, stupendous as his disciplined a mind of considerable elegance abilities, and various as his acquisitions are, and strength to Nisi Prius uses. In the fine he does not possess that one presiding faculty tact of which we have already spoken—the in- imagination, which, as it concentrates all tuitive power of common sense sharpened others, chiefly renders them unavailing for inwithin a peculiar circle-he has no superior, ferior uses. Mr. Brougham's powers are not thus and perhaps no equal

. He never betrays (united and rendered unwieldy and prodigious,

but remain apart, and neither assist nor im-ers are all as distinct and as ready for use as pede each other. The same speech, indeed, those of the most accomplished of Old Bailey may give scope to several talents; to lucid practitioners. His most remarkable faculty, narration, to brilliant wit, to irresistible rea- taken singly, the power of sarcasm, can be soning, and even to heart-touching pathos; understood, even by a Lancaster jury. And but these will be found in parcels, not blended yet, though worthy to rank with statesmen beand interfused in one superhuman burst of fore whom Erskine sunk into insignificance, passionate eloquence. The single power in and though following his profession with zeal which he excels all others is sarcasm, and his and perseverence almost unequalled, he has deepest inspiration_Scorn. Hence he can hardly been able to conquer the impediment awaken terror and shame far better than he of that splendid reputation, which to any other can melt, agitate, and raise. Animated by man must have been fatal ! this blasting spirit, he can “bare the mean These great examples are sufficient for our hearts" which wlurk beneath” a hundred purpose, and it would be invidious to add “stars," and smite a majority of lordly more. Without particularizing any, we may persecutors into the dust! His power is all safely affirm that if the majority of successful directed to the practical and earthy. It is advocates are not men of genius, they are men rather that of a giant than a magician ; of of very active and penetrating intellect, disBriareus than of Prospero. He can do a hun- ciplined by the peculiar necessity of their prodred things well, and almost at once; but he session to the strictest honour, and taught by cannot do the one highest thing; he cannot by their intimate and near acquaintance with all a single touch reveal the hidden treasures of the casualties of human life, and the varieties the soul, and astonish the world with truth and of human nature, indulgence to frailty and beauty unknown till disclosed at his bidding. generosity to misfortune. It is impossible to Over his vast domain he ranges with amazing estimate too highly the value of such a body activity, and is a different man in each pro- of men, aspiring, charitable, and acute; who, vince which he occupies. He is not one, but sprung from the people, naturally sympathize Legion. At three in the morning he will make with their interests; who, being permitted to a reply in parliament, which shall blanch the grasp at the honours of the state, are supplied cheeks and appal the hearts of his enemies; with high motives to preserve its constitution; and at half-past nine he will be found in his and who, if not very eager for improving the place in court, working out a case in which a laws, at least keep unceasing watch over bill of five pounds is disputed, with all the every attempt to infringe on the rights they plodding care of the most laborious junior sustain, or to pervert them to purposes of opThis multiplicity of avocation, and division of pression. If they are too prone to change their talent, suit the temper of his constitution and party as they rise, they seldom do so from base mind. Not only does he accomplish a greater or sordid motives, and often infuse a better variety of purposes than any other man-not spirit into those whose favours they consent only does he give anxious attention to every to receive. petty cause, while he is fighting a great politi. Let no one of those who, with a conscious. cal battle, and weighing the relative interests ness of fine talents, has failed in his profesof nations-not only does he write an article sion, abate his self-esteem, or repine at his for the Edinburgh Review while contesting a fortune. A life of success, though a life of county, and prepare complicated arguments on excitement, is also a life of constant toil, in Scotch appeals by way of rest from his gene- which the pleasures of contemplation and of rous endeavours to educate a people—but he society are sparingly felt, and which somedoes all this as if it were perfectly natural to times tends to a melancholy close. Besides, him, in a manner so unpretending and quiet, the best part of our days is past before the that a stranger would think him a merry gen- struggle begins. Suceess itself has nothing tleman, who had nothing to do but enjoy him- half so sweet as the anticipations of boyish self and fascinate others. The fire which burns ambition and the partial love by which they in the tough fibres of his intellect does not were fostered. A barrister can scarcely hope quicken his pulse, or kindle his blood to more to begin a career of anxious prosperity till than a genial warmth. He, therefore, is one after thirty; and surely he who has attained man in the senate, another in the study, an- that age, after a youth of robust study and, other in a committee room, and another in a manly pleasure, with firm friends, and an unpetty cause; and consequently is never above spotted character, has no right to complain of the work which he has to perform. His pow. the world!

THE WINE CELLAR.

[New MONTHLY MAGAZINE.)

Facilis descensus Averni,
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hic labor, hoc opus est.

VIRG. In the deep discovery of the subterranean world, a shallow part would satisfy some inquirers, who, if two or three yards were opened beneath the surface would not care io rake the bowels of Potosi and regions towards the centre.

SiR THOMAS BROWNE.

Men have always attached a peculiar inte-, a better and wiser self. Blest with good but rest to that region of the earth which extends never boisterous spirits; endowed with the for a few yards beneath its surface. Below rare faculty not only of divining one's wishes, this depth the imagination, delighting to busy but instantly making them his own; skilful itself among the secrets of Time and Mortality, in sweetening good counsel with honest flathath rarely cared to penetrate. A few feet of tery; able to bear with enthusiasm in which ground may suffice for the repose of the first he might not participate, and to avoid smiling dwellers of the earth until its frame shall grow at the follies he could not help discerning; old and perish. The little coin, silent picture ever ready to indulge the secret wish of his of forgotten battles, lies among the roots of guest" for another bottle,” with heart enough sbrubs and vegetables for centuries, till it is to drink it with him, and head enough to take turned into light by some careful husbandman, care of him when it was gone, he was (and yet who ploughs au inch deeper than his fathers. is) the pleasantest of advisers, the most genial The dead bones which, loosened from their of listeners, and the quietest of lively compaurns, gave occasion to Sir Thomas Browne's nions. On this memorable day he had, with noblest essay, “had outlasted the living ones his accustomed forethought, given particular of Methusalem, and in a yard under ground, orders for our entertainment, and I hastened and thin walls of clay, outworn all the strong to enjoy it with him, little thinking how deep and spacious buildings above them, and quietly and solemn was the pleasure which awaited rested under the drums and tramplings of three us. conquests.” Superstition chooses the subter We arrived at the Coffee House about ranean space which borders on the abodes of six on a bright afternoon in the middle of Septhe living, and ranges her vaults and mysteri- tember, and found every thing ready and ex. ous caverns near to the scenes of revelry, cellent; and the turtle magnificent and finely passion, and joy; and within this narrow rind relieved by lime punch effectually iced; grilled rest the mighty products of glorious vintages, salmon crisply prepared for its appropriate the stores of that divine juice which, partaking lemon and mustard; a leg of Welch mutton of the rarest qualities of physical and intellec- just tasted as a “sweet remembrancer" of its tual nature, blends them in happier union heathy and hungry hills; woodcocks with within us. Here, in this hallowed ground, the thighs of exquisite delicacy and essence germs of inspiration and the memorials of de- " deeply interfused" in thick soft toast; and cay lie side by side, and Bacchus holds divided mushrooms, which Nero justly called “the empire with ihe King of Terrors.

flesh of the gods," simply broiled and faintly As I sat indulging this serious vein of re- sprinkled with Cayenne.* Our conversation flection, some years ago, when my relish of was, of course, confined to mutual invitations philosophy and port was young, a friend called and expressive criticisms on the dishes; the to remind me that we had agreed to dine to- only table-talk which men of sense can tolegether with rather more luxury than usual. rate. But the most substantial gratifications, I had made the appointment with boyish eager- in this world at least, must have an end; and ness, and now started gladly from my solitary the last mushroom was at length eaten. Unreveries to keep it. The friend with whom I had planned our holiday, was one of those few * This trait sufficiently accounts for the flowers which persons whom you may challenge to a convi were seen scattered on the sepulchre of Nero, when the vial evening with a mathematical certainty of popular indignation raged highest against his memory= enjoying it;—which is the rarest quality of perial auspices. Had Lord Byron been acquainted with friendship. Many who are equal to great exi- ine flavour of choice mushrooms, he would have turned gencies, and would go through fire and water

to give it honour due after the following stanza, one of

the noblest in that work, which, with all its faults of to serve you, want the delicate art to allay the waywardness and haste, is a miracle of language, papetty irritations, and heighten the ordinary en

thos, playfulness, subliinity, and sense. joyments of life, and are quite unable to make When Nero perish'd by the justest doom themselves agreeable at a tête-à-tête dinner.

Which ever ihe destroyer yel destroy'd,

Amidst the roar of liberated Rome, Not so my companion; who, zealous, proinpt, The nations free, and the world overjoy'd, and consoling in all seasons of trial, had good Sorne hand unseen strew'd flowers upon his tomb

Perhaps the weakness of a heart not void sense for every litile difficulty, and a happy

Of feeling for some kindness done when power humour for every social moment; at all times Had left the wretch one uncorrupted hour!

fortunately for the repose of the evening, we | That Hermitage, stealing gently into the chamwere haunted by the recollection of some bers of the brain, shall make us“ babble of green highly flavoured port, and, in spite of strong fields;" and that delicate Claret, innocently evidence of identity from conspiring waiters, bubbling and dancing in the slender glass, shall sought for the like in vain. Bottle after bottle bring its own vine-coloured hills more vividly was produced and dismissed as “not the thing,” before 'us even than Mr. Stanfield's pencil till our generous host, somewhat between libe- There from a time-changed bottle, tenderly ral hospitality and just impatience, smilingly drawn from a crypt, protected by huge primebegged us to accompany him into the cellar, val cobwebs, you may taste antiquity, and inspect the whole of “his little stock,” and feel the olden time on your palate! As we choose for ourselves! We took him at his sip this marvellous Port,* to the very colour word; another friend of riper years and graver of which age has been gentle, methinks we authority joined us; and we prepared to fol- have broken into one of those rich vaults in low our guide, who stood ready to conduct us which Sir Thomas Browne, the chief butler to the banks of Lethe. All the preparations, of the tomb, finds treasures rarer than jewels. like those which preceded similar descents "Some,” saith he,“ discover sepulchral vessels of the heroes of old, bespoke the awfulness containing liquors which time hath incrassated and peril of the journey. Our host preceded into jellies. For besides lacrymatories, notable us with his massive keys to perform an office lamps, with oils and aromatic liquors, attended collateral to that of St. Peter; behind, a dingy noble ossuaries; and some yet retaining a imp of the nether regions stood with glasses vinosity and spirit in them, which, if any have in his hands and a prophetic grin on his face; tasted, they have far exceeded the palates of and each of us was armed with a flaming torch antiquity ;-liquors, not to be computed by to penetrate the gloom which now stretched years of annual magistrates, but by great conthrough the narrow entrance before us. junctions and the fatal periods of kingdoms.

We descended the broken and winding stair. The draughts of consulary date were but crude case with cautious steps, and, to confess the unto these, and opimian wine but in the must truth, not without some apprehension for our unto them.” upward journey, yet hoping to be numbered We passed on from flavour to flavour with among that select class of Pluto's visiters, our proud and liberal guide, whose comments “ quos ardens evexit ad æthera virtus.” On a added zest even to the text which he had to sudden, turning a segment of a mighty cask, dilate on. A scent, a note of music, a voice we stood in the centre of the vast receptacle long unheard, the stirring of the summer of spirituous riches. The roof of solid and breeze, may startle us with the sudden revival stouily compacted brickwork, low, but boldly of long-forgotten feelings and thoughts, but arched, looked substantial enough to defy all none of these little whisperers to the heart is attacks of the natural enemy, water, and resist so potently endowed with this simple spell as a second deluge. From each side ran long the various flavours of Port to one who has galleries, partially shown by the red glare of tried, and, in various moods of his own mind, the torches, extending one way far beneath the relished them all, This full, rough, yet fruity busy trampling of the greatest shopkeepers wine, brings back that first season of London and stock-jobbers in the world; and, on the life, when topics seemed exhaustless as words other, below the clamour of the Old Bailey and coloured with rainbow hues; when Irish Court and the cells of its victims. What a students, fresh from Trinity College, Dublin, range! Here rest, cooling in the deep-delved were not too loud or familiar to be borne; cells, the concentrated essences of sunny when the florid fluency of others was only lireyears! In this archway huge casks of mighty some as it interrupted one's own; when the wine are scattered in bounteous confusion, vast Temple Hall was not too large or too cold like the heaped jewels and gold on the “rich for sociality; and ambition, dilating in the strond” of Spenser, the least of which would venerable space, shaped dreams of enterprise, lay Sir Walter's Fleming low! Throughout labour, and glory, till it required more wine to that long succession of vaults, thousands of assuage its fervours. This taste of a liquor, bottles, “in avenues disposed,” lie silently firm yet in body, though tawny with years, waiting their time to kindle the imagination, bears with it to the heart that hour when, havto sharpen the wit, to open the soul, and to ing returned to my birth-place, after a long and unchain the trembling tongue. There may eventful absence, and having been cordially you feel the true grandeur of quiescent power, welcomed by my hearty friends, I slipped and walk amidst the palpable elements of mad- away from the table, and hurried, in the light ness or of wisdom. What stores of sentiment of a brilliant sunset, to the gently declining in that butt of raciest Sherry! What a fund fields and richly wooded hedgerows which were of pensive thought! What suggestions for the favourite haunt of my serious boyhood. delicious remembrance! What " aids to re- The swelling hills seemed touched with etheflection !" (genuine as those of Coleridge) in real softness; the level plain was invested that Hock of a century old. What sparkling with purpureal gleams;" every wild rose and fancies, whirling and foaming, from a stout stirring branch was eloquent with vivid recolbody of thought in that full and ripe Cham- lections: a thousand hours of happy thoughtpagne! What mild and serene philosophy in

* Old Port wine is more ancient to the imagination ihat Burgundy, ready to shed " its sunset glow" than any other, though in fact it may have been known on society and nature! This pale Brandy, fewer years; as a broken Gothic arch has more of the softened by age, is the true "spirit” which spiritos antiquity about it than a Grecian temple. Port “disturbs us with the joy of elevated thoughts." I the classical mythology, is always young.

« 上一頁繼續 »