ePub 版

the Chancery, were all established nearly on the same spot; so that the whole business was conducted within a space of ground of small extent, and the communication of every office of the Court of Chancery with every other office, was short and easy." p. 42.

The establishment of the Court remained on this footing for a long time, but the attorneys at law gradually got an entrance into the court as practitioners. At first they transacted the business between their clients and the Chancery clerks, and divided the fees; but in 1729, they were admitted into the court as sworn solicitors, and soon monopolized all the practice; from that time the clerks in chancery lost their importance, and they have dwindled from seventy-two to eighteen. But the solicitors have become a very powerful body of men, and transact every kind of professional business, not confined as the clerks were to a single court. The acccount of the way in which they get through their business is curious.

“They delegate their duties in their practice in the courts of Common Law, in a great degree, to persons called special pleaders; and their business in equity to persons called equity draughtsmen : whilst in matters of practice, they generally resort to the more immediate officers of the several courts. In another part of their business they are assisted by persons called conveyancers, by whom not only all deeds supposed to have been prepared in a solicitor's office are generally drawn, but even the preparatory business which may enable a conveyancer to draw a deed, is often his work, and not the work of the solicitor.

" Some solicitors do still diligently give their personal attention to their business in Courts of Equity ; but others generally leave it to be transacted by clerks, and sometimes by ignorant clerks.

" It is evident that this mode of conducting business by delegation, may ultimately lead to a general want of that knowledge of their business, which solicitors ought to possess; and it is evident that the knowledge required to enable any man to conduct the business of a solicitor, will, finally, only be the knowledge, to which of his several assistants he ought to resort for the purpose of having his business done for him.

“But even this limited degree of knowledge is sometimes delegated to another description of persons, called managing clerks; who are the real workers of all the under parts of the business. Under these again are other clerks-often mere boys—who are daily sent about with a paper containing written directions, to go with that paper to the several places therein specified, to ask the several questions therein proposed, and take down the answers in writing; and if an attendance on a Master in Chancery should be part of the business to be done, the boy is furnished with a bundle of papers, of the contents of which he knows nothing, and he is ordered to attend the master, not with the expectation of any benefit to his client, but merely to warrant a charge for that attendance in a bill of costs." p. 46.

"For various purposes, and particularly when a cause is brought to a hearing in a court of equity, a duty devolves on the solicitors employed on both sides to abbreviate the pleadings, and the depositions of wituesses, if there should be any. This business was formerly done by the solicitor himself, or by an experienced clerk, whose work was corrected by the solicitor. It is now usually delegated to a stationer, who often delegates it again to his boy. What is called a brief, is, therefore, no longer a brief. It is a mere transcript.” p. 51.

It is to the solicitors then, that his lordship attributes the delay and embarrassment of the courts. They have too many irons in the fire, and have got above their business. We are by no means sure that these observations are entirely inapplicable to our own judicial proceedings. Our lawyers practise in every court to which they can get admittance, and are engaged in all kinds of professional business. In Charleston, the evil from this cause, has become very great. The lawyers cannot attend, or take the time to procure the witnesses when the cause is called, and the case is continued from one term to another; so that after a session of six weeks, the judge has transacted uery little business, except hearing motions for continuance. Mutual indulgence, negligence and forgetfulness are the necessary consequence, so that even cases at Common Law, are often four or five years on the docket.

If the following remarks be thought to savour somewhat of the luudutur temporis arti, it must yet be admitted that they contain a great deal of truth :

“Redundancy is the vice of the age, and it appears in every thing: Perhaps, it is no where more striking, than in the length of modern reports. What Peere Williams would have comprised in a single page, in a modern report may occupy half a volume. The length, indeed, of modern reports, is a serious evil, and a great obstruction in the despatch of business. A case in Peere Williams may be read in five minutes, and its import perfectly comprehended : it may take as many hours to read over a modern report, and in the mass of matter, it may be difficult to discover the import of the whole. In citing a modern case at the bar, the counsel can scarcely avoid adopting something of the prolixity of the reporter; and if in curtailing, he omits what bis adversary may think or choose to think important, the court may be compelled to hear a re-statement of the same long case. The prolixity complained of, is not attributable only to those subjects already noticed : it is to be found every where-in Parliament as well as in Courts of Justice. Almost every modern act of Parliament is an example, and it should be remembered, that six days were occupied by a celebrated orator in opening one article of an impeachment." p. 65.

We recommend these remarks to our new reporter, Mr. Peters, who prints from the counsel's brief every thing, with

long letters and all sorts of evidence, without any bearing on the decision, and then gives the whole story over again in the judge's opinion. He is not so bad, however, as Wheaton, who when the crop of cases happened to be short, was accustomed to eke out the volume, by long extracts from other works, or even from his own common-place book.

when the opinion and the sorts of

ART. IV date of LiteLES BY

ART. IV.- The Life of Erasmus ; with Historical Remarks on

the state of Literature, between the tenth and sixteenth centuries. By CHARLES BUTLER, Esq. of Lincoln's Inn. London. 8vo. John Murray. 1825.

THERE is no portion of history more rich in important events, or which more immediately strikes the mind as having produced definite and lasting effects on the world, than that of the early part of the sixteenth century. The illustrious monarchs that swayed the sceptre—the distinguished pontiff that held the chair of St. Peter—the storms that severed the Christian world into Romanist and Reformer, all combine to give interest to the period. Learning, the fine arts and the elegancies of life, which had before been the almost exclusive property of Italy, now began to develope themselves beyond the Alps in abundance and maturity; and the newly discovered art of printing, while it rendered common the relics of ancient lore, teemed with a modern literature which evinced from its taste and elegance, that the dawn of civilization was complete. Yet far the greatest number of authors of that time, on account of the temporary or local interest of their works, or an overstretched imitation of the ancients, totally destructive of originality and force, have nearly sunk into oblivion. Bembo, Sadoleti, Sannazaro, Sebastian Brand, Paulus Æmilius, &c. are known but to a few scholars, who have given their works a very cursory inspection. Erasmus alone is immediately remembered as one completely identified with his age, while his writings exhibit a wisdom, raciness and genuine humour, still in accordance with the manner of thinking of our day. His labours in the cause of learning recur to the scholar-bis exertions for christianity to the theologian, and his lighter effusions still please tie mere general reader. Indeed, a book cannot be written on that period without bringing to view the extensive influence he exerted, or without quoting some sensible remark, some shrewd observation, or humourous saying of that eternal glory of Holland. His name is much less known in England than on the Continent, where his works, especially some of his minor productions, either in the original or in translation, form a necessary part of the permanent standard literature,

We shall give a short sketch of his life after our own fashion, and then take notice of Mr. Butler and some of his other biographers.

Desiderius Erasmus was born at Rotterdam, the tenth of October, 1467, or thereabouts, as he himself never knew the precise period. He was the love-begotten progeny of a young man of respectable family of Gouda, and Margaret, a physician's daughter of Zevenbergen.* His real name is said to have been Gerardus Gerardi,t which means in the German language amiable. Following the fashion of learned men of those times, who affected to give their names a Latin or Greek turn, he called himself Desiderius, which, in Latin, and Erasmus, which in Greek, has the same signification."| It is true that his mother “had loved, and was a woman,” but this instance excepted, her conduct appears to have been irreproachable; and it is evident from the history of the circumstances, that the perverseness of their parents was the sole cause of the aberration of two amiable and well-disposed lovers. The father sometime after embraced the ecclesiastical state, yet continued to provide for the maintenance of Margaret and her offspring.

At the age of four years, he was put to school, probably at Utrecht, $ where, by his own account, he made little progress, and, according to some authors, was long held up in Holland as a shining example of the beneficial effects of fagging. Bayle suggests that the dullness attributed to him, if any, was in music, a study then of great importance ; yet even in this he must have been a towardly boy, as he was soon engaged as a singer in the cathedral of Utrecht.

In his ninth year he went to the school at Deventer, where his mother attended him to take care of his tender age. This

* Compend. Vitæ.

+ Saxius, Onomasticon Literarium, 3. 14.
Jortin's Life of Erasmus, 1. 3. Fabricius says “ Erasmus prius patrio more
Gerardus Gerardi F. postea e Gerardo (a Germanico Gier, avidus, et Arth, natura)
Desiderius e Gerardi Glio Erasmus fuit appellatus." Owen thus derives it,

Quæritur unde tibi sit nomen Erasmus? Eras mus.
Si sum mus ego, te judice summus ero.

[Jo. Alb. Fabricius, Sylloge. Opusc. 363. Jo. Herold. Declamatio Oper. Erasmi. 8. 637,

institution, in the thirteenth century, was considered as the Athenæum of Belgium, and still maintained a high reputation, notwithstanding the increased light of the succeeding age. His genius here began soon to develope itself, and to attract attention. “lle acquired, with facility, whatever was taught, and retained it faithfully.* As a proof ofthe excellence of his memory, it is stated that he could repeat every word of Terence and Horace. One of his teachers, John Swinthein, was so delighted with him, that kissing him, he declared that he would attain the highest pinnacle of erudition. The celebrated Rudolph Agricola, who may be said to have introduced the muses into Germany, coming into the school during an examination of the themes of the boys, perused that of Erasmus, then in his twelfth year; he was surprised at the invention and the various beauties which it displayed, and after complimenting Erasmus, told him that with perseverance he would make a great man. In many places, Erasmus speaks of the encouragement he derived from those praises.

Among his works are preserved some Latin verses, written by him at Deventer, in his fourteenth year, which are very creditable, but like most grammar-school poetry, have probably the finishing touch of the master. Whilst at this school he received something not quite as pleasant as the praises before mentioned, but quite as durable in a school-boy's memory-various substantial and fundamental applications of the birch, to which he often bitterly alludes, $ "alas,” exclaims the worthy Fuller, speaking on that subject “many a school-master” better answereth the name taidoisiens than waidaywyòs, rather tearing his scholars' flesb with whipping than giving them good education. No wonder if his scholars hate the muses, being presented unto them in the shapes of fiends and furies."||

Losing both his parents while at Deventer, he was left in the hands of faithless guardians, who first dissipated his fortune, and then wished to force him to beconie religious, to escape a just retribution for their own want of religion. But even at that early age, thinking there was “more warmth than piety in a cowl," he resisted manfully the idea of entering a monastery. After using many persuasions, one of his guardians said to him in a rage, "you are a rascal (nebulo) devoid of the good spirit; I renounce my guardianship; see how you will support yourself.” Even these threats could not force him to adopt a vocation so repugnant to his feelings. In the meanwhile, on a visit to the * Beatus Rhenanus, Vita Erasmi.

Bayle Dict. Erasme.

Encomium Moriæ, &c. | Holy and profane state.

« 上一頁繼續 »