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death as to a drunken sleep; he parts with existence wantonly, because he knows nothing of its value. Mere men of pleasure are, therefore the most careless of duelists, the gayest of soldiers. To know the true value of being, yet to lay it down for a great cause, is a pitch of heroism which has rarely been attained by man. That mastery of the fear of death which is so common among men of spirit, is nothing but a conquest over the apprehension of dying. It is a mere victory of nerve and muscle. Those whose days have no principle of continuity—who never feel time but in the shape of ennui-may quit the world for sport or for honour. But he who truly lives, who feels the past and future in the instant, whose days are to him a possession of majestic remembrances and golden hopes, ought not to fancy himself bound by such an example. He may be inspired to lay down his life, when truth or virtue shall demand so great a sacrifice; but he will be influenced by mere weakness of resolution, not by courage, if he suffer himself to be shamed, or laughed, or worried out of it! Besides those who have no proper consciousness of being, there are others even pernaps more pitiable, who are constantly irritated by the knowledge that their life is cut up into melancholy fragments. This is the case of all the pretending and the vain; those who are ever attempting to seem what they are not, or to do what they cannot; who live in the lying breath of contemporary report, and bask out a sort of occasional holiday in the glimmers of public favour. They are always in a feverish struggle, yet they make no progress. There is no dramatic coherence, no unity of action, in the tragi-comedy of their lives. They have hits and brilliant passages perhaps, which may come on review before them in straggling succession; but nothing dignified or massive, tending to one end of good or evil. Such are self-fancied poets and panting essayists, who live on from volume to volume, or from magazine to magazine, who tremble with nervous delight at a favourable mention, are cast down by a sly alliteration or satirical play on their names, and die of an elaborate eulogy “in aromatic pain.” They begin life once a quarter, or once a month, according to the will of their publishers. They dedicate nothing to posterity ; but toil on for applause till praise sickens, and their “life's idle business” grows too heavy to be borne. They feel their best days passing away without even the effort to build up an enduring fame; and they write an elegy on their own weaknesses! They give their thoughts immaturely to the world, and thus spoil them for themselves for ever. Their own earliest, and deepest, and most sacred feelings become at last dull common-places, which they have talked of and written about till they are glad to escape from the theme. Their days are not “linked each to each by natural piety,” but at best bound together in forgotten volumes. Better, far better than this, is the lot of those whose characters and pretensions have little “mark of likelihood;”— whose days are filled up by the exercises of honest industry, and who, on looking back, recognise their lives only by the turns of their
fortune, or the events which have called forth their affections. Their first parting from home is indelibly impressed on their minds—their school-days seem to them like one sweet April of shower and sunshine—their apprenticeship is a long week of toil;-but then their first love is fresh to them as yesterday, and their marriage, the births of their children, and of their grand-children, are events which mark their course even to old age. They reach their infancy again in thought by an easy process, through a range of remembrances few and simple, but pure, and sometimes holy. Yet happier is the lot of those who have one great aim ; who devote their undivided energy to a single pursuit; who have one idea of practical or visionary good, to which they are wedded. There is a harmony, a proportion, in their lives. The Alchemist of old, labouring with undiminished hope, cheering his solitude with dreams of boundless wealth, and yet working on, could not be said to live in vain. His life was continuous—one unbroken struggle—one ardent sigh. There is the same unity of interest in the life of a great verbal scholar, or of a true miser; the same singleness of purpose, which gives solidity to floating minutes, hours, and years. The great Lawyer deserves an eminent rank among true livers. We do not mean a political adventurer, who breathes feverishly amidst the contests, the intrigues, and petty triumphs of party; nor a dabbler in criticism, poetry, or the drama; nor even a popular nisi-prius advocate, who passes through a succession of hasty toils and violent excitements to fortune and to oblivion. But we have respect to the real dull plodder—to him who has bidden an early “Farewell to his Muse,” if he ever had one: who anticipates years of solitary study, and shrinks not back; who proceeds, step by step, through the mighty maze with a cheerful heart, and counts on his distant success with mathematical precision. His industry and self-denial are powers as true as fancy or eloquence, and he soon learns to take as hearty a pleasure in their exercise. His retrospect is vast and single—of doubt solved, stoutest books mastered, nicest webs disentangled, and all from one intelligible motive which grows old with him, and, though it “strengthened with his strength,” will not diminish with his decline. It is better in the end to have had the pathway of life circumscribed and railed in by forms and narrow observances, than to have strayed at will about the vast field open to human enterprise, in the freest and most graceful wanderings; because in the latter case we cannot trace our road again, or call it over; while in the first, we see it distinctly to the end, and can linger in thought over all the spots where our feet have trodden. The “old names” bring back the “old instincts” to our hearts. Instead of faint sympathies with a multitude of things, a kind of small partnership with thousands in certain general dogmas and speculations, we have all our own past individual being as a solid and abiding possesSion. A metaphysician who thinks earnestly and intensely for himself, may truly be said to live
long. He has this great advantage over the aboat as reasonable as to say, a man never most felicitous inventor of machinery, or the was young because he has grown old, or never most acote of scientific inquirers, that all his lived because he is now dead. The length or discoveries have a personal interest; he has agreeableness of a journey does not depend on his existence for his living study; his own the few last steps of it, nor is the size of a heart is the mighty problem on which he medi- building to be judged of from the last stone tates, and the "exceeding great reward" of his that is added to it. It is neither the first por victories. In a moment of happy thought he the last hour of our existence, but the space may attain conquests,"compared to which the that parts these two-not our exit, nor our en laurels which a Cæsar reaps are weeds." trance upon the stage, but what we do feel, and Years of anxious thought are rewarded by the think while there that we are to attend to in attainment of one triumphant certainty, which pronouncing sentence upon it. Indeed, it would immediately gives a key to the solution of a be easy to show that it is the very extent of thousand pregnant doubts and mysteries, and human life, the infinite number of things conenables bim almost to "curdle a long life into tained in it, its contradictory and fluctuating an hour.” When he has, after long pursued and interests, the transition from one situation to baffled endeavours, rolled aside some huge diffi- another, the hours, months, years, spent in one culty which lay in his path, he will find beneath fond pursuit after another; ibat it is, in a word, it a passage to the bright subtleties of his nature, the length of our common journey, and the through which he may range at will, and quantity of events crowded into it, that, baffing gather immortal fruits, like Aladdin in the sub- the grasp of our actual perception, make it terranean gardens. He counts his life thus not slide from our memory, and dwindle into noonly by the steps which he has taken, but thing in its own perspective. It is too mighty by the vast prospects which, at every turn for us, and we say it is nothing! It is a speck of his journey, have recompensed his toils, in our faney, and yet what canvas would be over which he has diffused his spirit as he big enough to hold its striking groups, its endwent on his way rejoicing. We will conclude less objects! It is light as vanity; and yet if this article with the estimate made of life from all its weary moments, if all its head and hearthis own experience by one of the most pro-aches were compressed into one, what fortifound and original of thinkers.
tude would not be overwhelmed with the blow! " It is little, it is short, it is not worth having What a huge heap, a huge dumb heap,' of -if we take the last hour, and leave out all wishes, thoughts, feelings, anxious cares, sooththat has gone before, which has been one way ing hopes, loves, joys, friendships, it is com. of looking at the subject. Such calculators posed of! How many ideas and trains of senseem to say that life is nothing when it is over; timent, long, deep, and intense, often pass and that may, in their sense, be true. If the through the mind in one day's thinking or readold rule--Respice finem-were to be made abso- ing for instance! How many such days are lute, and no one could be pronounced fortunate there in a year, how many years in a long life, till the day of his death, there are few among still occupied with something interesting-still us whose existence would, upon such condi- recalling some old impressionstill recurring tions, be much to be envied. But this is not a to some difficult question, and making progress fair view of the case. A man's life is his in it, every step accompanied with a sense of whole life, not to the last glimmering snuff of power, and every moment conscious of the the candle; and this I say is considerable, and high endeavour or the glad success;" for the not a little matter, whether we regard its plea- mind seizes only on that which keeps it emsures or its pains. To draw a peevish con- ployed, and is wound up to a certain pitch of clusion to the contrary, from our own super- pleasurable excitement by the necessity of annuated desires of forgetful indifference, is its own nature."-Hazlitt's Table Tulk, Essay 6.
ON THE PROFESSION OF THE BAR.
TAENE is no pursuit in life which appears the founders of honourable families. If the more captivating at a distance than the profes- young aspirant perceives, even in his hasty sion of the bar, as it is followed and rewarded and sanguine glance, that something depends in English courts of justice. It is the great on fortuitous circumstances, the conviction avenue to political influence and reputation; only renders the pursuit more inviting, by addits honours are among the most splendid ing the fascinations of a game of chance to which can be attained in a free state; and its those of a trial of skill. If he is forced to conemoluments and privileges are exhibited as fess that a sacrifice of principle is occasionally prizes, to be contested freely by all its mem- required of the candidate for its most lucrative bers. Its annals celebrate many individuals situations, he glories in the pride of uptempted who have risen from the lowest ranks of the virtue, and pictures himself generously resiste people, by fortunate coincidence, or by patient ing the bribe which would give him riches and labour, to wealth and station, and have become l authority in exchange for conscious rectitude
and the approbation of the good and wise. While he sees nothing in the distance, but glorious success or more glorious self-denial, he feels braced for the severest exertion; nerved for the fiercest struggle; and regards every throb of an impatient ambition as a presage of victory. Not only do the high offices of the profession wear an inviting aspect, but its level course has much to charm the inexperienced observer. It affords perpetual excitement; keeps the faculties in unceasing play; and constantly applies research, ingenuity, and eloquence, to the actual business of life. A Court of Nisi Prius is a sort of epitome of human concerns, in which advocates are the representatives of the hopes and fears, the prejudices, the affections, and the hatreds of others, which stir their blood, yet do not endanger their fortune or their peace. The most important interests are committed to their discretion, and the most susceptible feelings to their forbearance. They enjoy a fearful latitude of sarcasm and invective, with an audience ready to admire their sallies, and reporters eager to circulate them through the land. Their professional dress, which might else be ludicrous, becomes formidable as the symbol of power; for, with it, they assume the privilege of denouncing their adversaries, confounding witnesses, and withstanding the judge. If the matter on which they expatiate is not often of a dignified nature or productive of large consequences, it is always of real importance; not a mere theme for display, or a parliamentary shadow. The men whom they address are usually open to receive impressions, either from declamation or reasoning, unlike other audiences who are guarded by system, by party, or by interest, against the access of conviction. They are not confined to rigid logic, or to scholastic sophistry, but may appeal to every prejudice, habit, and feeling, which can aid their cause or adorn their harangue; and possess a large store of popular topics always ready for use. They do not contend for distant objects, nor vainly seek to awaken an interest for futurity, but struggle for palpable results which immediately follow their exertions. They play an animating game for verdicts with the resources of others, in which success is full of pleasure, and defeat is rarely attended with personal disgrace or injury. This is their ordinary vocation; but they have, or seem to have, a chance of putting forth all the energies of their mind on some high issue; and of vindicating their moral courage, perchance by rescuing an innocent man from dishonour and the grave, or by standing, in a tumultuous season, between the frenzy of the people and the encroachments of their enemies, and protecting the constitutional rights of their fellows with the sacred weapons of the laws. What dream is more inspiring to a youth of sanguine temperament than that of conducting the defence of a man prosecuted by the whole force of the state? He runs over in thought the hurried and feverish labour of preparation: the agitations of the heart quelled by the very magnitude of the endeavour and the peril; and
feeling seems to open full of irresistible argument and happy illustrations; till his reasonings become steeped in passion; and he feels his cause and his triumph secure. To every enthusiastic boy, flattered by the prophecies of friends, such an event appears possible; and, in the contemplation, wealth, honour, and long life, seem things of little value. But the state of anticipation cannot last for ever. The day arrives, when the candidate for forensic opportunities and honours must assume the gown amidst the congratulations of his friends, and attempt to realize their wishes. The hour is, no doubt, happy, in spite of some intruding thoughts; its festivities are not less joyous, because they wear a colouring of solemnity; it is one more season of hope snatched from fate, inviting the mind to bright remembrance, and rich in the honest assurances of affections and sympathy. It passes, however, as rapidly as its predecessors, and the morrow sees the youth at Westminster, pressing a wig upon aching temples, and taking a fearful survey of the awful bench where the judges sit, and the more awful benches crowded with competitors who have set out with as good hopes, who have been encouraged by as enthusiastic friends, and who have as valid claims to success as he. Now then, having allowed him to enjoy the foretastes of prosperity, let us investigate what are the probabilities that he will realize them. Are they, in any degree, proportioned to his intellectual powers and accomplishments? Is the possession of some share of the highest faculties of the mind, which has given him confidence, really in his favour? These questions we will try to solve. We may, perhaps, explain to the misjudging friends of some promising aspirant, who has not attained the eminence they expected, why their prophecies have been unfulfilled. They think that, with such powers as they know him to possess, there must be some fault which they did not perceive; some want of industry, or perseverance; but there was probably none; and they may rather seek for the cause of failure in the delicacy of feeling which won their sympathy, or in the genius which they were accustomed to admire. Men who take a cursory view of the profession are liable to forget how peculiarly it is situated in relation to those who distribute its business. These are not the people at large; not even the factitious assemblage called the public; not scholars, nor readers, nor thinkers, nor admiring audiences, nor sages of the law, but simply attorneys. In this class of men are, of course, comprised infinite varieties of knowledge and of worth; many men of sound learning and honourable character; many who are tolerably honest and decorously dull; some who are acute and knavish; and more who are knavish without being acute. Respectable as is the station of attorneys, they are, as a body, greatly inferior to the bar in education and en
imagines himself settled and bent up to his dowments; and yet on their opinion, without
own part in the day of trial—the low tremulous
appeal, the fate of the members of the profession depends. It can scarcely be matter of surprise that they do not always perceive, as by intuition, the accurate thinking, the delicate satire, the playsulfancy, or the lucid eloquence, which have charmed a domestic circle, and obtained the applause of a college, even if these were exactly the qualities adapted to their purposes. They will never, indeed, continue to retain men who are obviously unequal to their duty; but they have a large portion of business to scatter, which numbers, greatly differing in real power, can do equally well; and some junior business, which hardly requires any talent at all. In some cases, therefore, they are virtually not only judges but patrons, who, by employing young men early, give them not merely fees, but courage, practice, and the means of becoming known to others. From this extraordinary position arises the necessity of the strictest etiquette in form, and the nicest honour in conduct, which strangers are apt to ridicule, but which alone can prevent the bar from being prostrated at the feet of an inferior class. But for that barrier of rule and personal behaviour, solicitors would be enabled to assume the language and manner of dictators; and no barrister could retain at once prosperity and self-respect, except the few, whose reputations for peculiar skill are so well established, as to render it indispensable to obtain their services. It is no small proof of the spirit and intelligence of the profession, as a body, that these qualities are able to preserve them in a station of apparent superiority to those on whom they virtually depend. They frequent the places of business; they follow the judges from town to town, and appear ready to undertake any side of any cause; they sit to be looked at, and chosen, day after day, and year after year; and yet by force of professional honour and gentlemanly accomplishments, and by these alone, they continue to be respected by the men who are to decide their destiny. But no rule of etiquette, however strict, and no feelings of delicacy, however nice and generous, can prevent a man, who has connections among attorneys, from possessing a great advantage over his equals who have none. It is natural that his friends should think highly of him, and desire to assist him, and it would be absurd to expect that he should disappoint them by refusing their briefs, when conscious of ability to do them justice. Hence a youth, born and educated in the middle ranks of life, who is able to struggle to the bar, has often a far better chance of speedy success than a gentleman of rank and family. This consideration may lesson the wonder, so often expressed, at the number of men who have risen to eminence in the law from comparatively humble stations. Without industry and talent, they could have done little; but, perhaps, with both these they might have done less, if their early fame had not been nurtured by those to whom their success was a favourite object, and whose zeal afforded them at once opportunity and stimulus which to more elevated adventurers are wantIng. Let us now examine a little the kind of talent
be obtained; as, from want of attention to this oint much disappointment frequently springs. e will first refer to the lower order of busimess—that by which a young man usually becomes known—and then take a glance at the Court of Nisi Prius, as it affords scope to the powers of leaders. We pass over at present that class of men who begin to practice as special pleaders, and after acquiring reputation, are called late in life with a number of clients who have learned to value them as they deserve. These have chosen a safe and honour. able course; but the general reader would find little to excite his interest in a view of their silent and laborious progress. We speak rather of the business of Criminal Courts and of Sessions, in which young men generally make first trial of their powers, and of the more trivial and showy order of causes which it may sometimes be their good or ill fortune to lead. In this description of business, it must be obvious to every one that there is no scope for the higher powers and more elegant accomplishments of the mind. But it is not so obvious, though not less true, that these are often encumbrances in the way of the advocate. This will appear, if we glance at the kind of work he has to perform, the jury whom he is to influence, or the audience by whom he is surrounded. Even if the successful performance of his duty, without regard to appear. ances, be his only aim, he will often find it necessary to do something more painful than merely to lay aside his most refined tastes. To succeed with the jury, he must rectify his understanding to the level of theirs; to succeed with the audience, he must necessarily go still lower; because, although there are great common themes on which an advocate may raise almost any assembly to his own level, and there are occasions in which he may touch on universal sympathies, these rarely, if ever, arise in the beginning of his professional life. On those whom he has to impress, the fine allusion, the happy conceit, the graceful sophistry, which will naturally occur to his mind, would be worse than lost. But though he may abstain from these, how is he to find, on the inspiration of the instant, the matter which ought to supply their place? Can he, accustomed to enjoy the most felicitous turns of expression, the airiest wit, the keenest satire, think in a moment of a joke sufficiently broad and stale to set the jury box and the galleries in a roar! Has he an instinctive sense of what they will admire? Is not, he is wrong to wonder that he makes less impression than others, who may be better able to sacrifice the refinements which he prizes, and ought not to grudge them the success which fairly and naturally follows their exertions. The chief duties of a junior are to examine witnesses; to raise legal objections; and, in smaller cases, to address juries. We will show in each of these instances how much a man of accurate perceptions and fastidious tastes must overcome before he can hope for prosperity. The examination of witnesses, in chief, gene
by which success at the bar will most probably
rally requires little more than a clear voice, a
tolerable degree of self-possession, a superficial knowledge of the law of evidence, and an acquaintance with the matter to which the witnesses are expected to speak. There are critical cases, it is true, in which it is one of the most important duties which an advocate can perform, and requires all the dexterity and address of which he is master. But the more popular work, and that which most dazzles bystanders, is cross-eramination, to which some men attribute the talismanic property of bringing falsehood out of truth. In most cases, before an intelligent jury it is mere show. When it is not founded on materials of contradiction, or directed to obtain some information which the witness will probably give, it proceeds on the assumption that the party interrogated has sworn an untruth, which he may be induced to vary. But, in the great majority of cases, the contrary is the fact, and therefore the usual consequence of speculative cross-examining is the production of a more minute and distinct story than was originally told. Still a jury may be puzzled; an effect may be produced; and as, in cases of felony, an advocate is not permitted to make a speech, he must either cross-examine or do nothing.” Here then, taste, feeling, and judgment, are sometimes no trifling hindrances. A man who has a vivid perception of the true relation of things cannot, without difficulty, force himself to occupy the attention of the court for an hour with questions which he feels have no bearing on the matter substantially in issue. Even when he might confound the transaction, the clearness of his own head will scarcely permit him to do the business well. He finds it hard to apply his mind to the elaborate scrutiny of a labourer's dikner or dress, the soundness of his sleep or the slowness of his cottage time-piece; and he hesitates to place himself exactly on a level with the witness who comes to detail them. His discretion may sometimes restrain him from imitating the popular cross-examiners of the day, but his incapacity will prevent him stillostener, until,like them, he has become thoroughly habituated to the intellectual atmosphere of the court in which he practises. In starting and arguing points of law, a deep knowledge of law, and a faculty of clear and cogent reasoning, might seem qualities of the highest value. At Nisi Prius, before a Judge, they are so, or rather would be if the modern course of transacting business left a junior any opportunity to use them. But they are very far from producing unmingled advantage before inferior tribunals. As the bench is not often filled with magistrates profoundly learned, futile objections are almost as likely to succeed as good ones, and sometimes more so, because those to whom they are addressed have a vague notion of law as something full of mere arbitrary quiddities, and therefore likely to be found in direct opposition to common sense. Now, a man who is himself ignorant of a science is obviously better fitted to hit the fancies of the respectable gentlemen who entertain such a notion, than one who thoroughly understands its rules. The first
* This has been happily altered since the publication of this copy.
will raise objections where the last would be silent; or will defend them with the warmth of honest conviction, where the lawyer would introduce them with hesitation and abandon them without a struggle. When a man has nothing really to say, he is assisted greatly by confusion of language, and a total want of arrangement and grammar. Mere stupidity, accompanied by a certain degree of fluency, is no inconsiderable power. It enables its possessor to protract the contest long after he is beaten, because he neither understands his own case, nor the arguments by which he has been answered. It is a weapon of defence, behind which he obtains protection, not only from his adversaries, but from the judge. If the learned person who presides, wearied out with endless irrelevancies, should attempt to stop him, he will insist on his privilege to be dull, and obtain the admiration of the audience by his firmness in supporting the rights of the bar. In these points, a sensitive and acute advocate has no chance of rivalling him in the estimation of the by-standers. A young man may, indeed, display correctness of thought, depth of research, and elegant perspicuity in an argument on a special case, in the Court of King's Bench; but few will hear and fewer listen to him; and he will see the proceedings of the day shortly characterized in the newspaper of the morrow as “totally destitute of public interest,” while the opposite column will be filled with an elaborate report of a case of assault at Clerkenwell, or a picturesque account of a squabble between a pawnbroker and an alderman To address a jury, even in cases of minor importance, seems at first to require talents and requirements of a superior kind. It really requires a certain degree of nerve, a readiness of utterance, and a sufficient acquaintance with the ordinary line of illustration used and approved on similar occasions. A power of stating facts, indeed, distinctly and concisely is often important to the real issue of the cause; but it is not one which the audience are likely to appreciate. The man who would please them best should omit all the facts of his case, and luxuriate in the commonplaces which he can connect with it, unless he is able to embellish his statement, and invest the circumstances he relates with adventitious importance and dignity. An advocate of accurate perceptions, accustomed to rate things according to their true value, will find great difficulty in doing either. Most of the subject matter of flourish, which is quite as real to the superficial orator as any thing in the world, is thrown far back from his habitual thoughts, and hardly retains a place among the lumber of his memory. Grant him time for preparation, and a disposition to do violence to his own tastes, in order to acquire popularity, and he may approach a genuine artist in the factitious; but, after all, he will run great risk of being detected as a pretender. A single touch of real feeling, a single piece of concise logical reasoning, will ruin the effect of the whole, and disturb the well-attuned minds of an enlightened jury. Even the topics which must be dilated on are often such as would