網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[blocks in formation]

When fools fall out, for ev'ry flaw,
They run horn mad to go to law,
A hedge awry, a wrong plac'd gate,
Will serve to spend a whole estate,
Your case the lawyer says is good,
And justice cannot be withstood;
By tedious process from above
From office they to office move;
Thro' pleas, demurrers, the dev❜l and all,
At length they bring it to the hall;
The dreadful hall by Rufus rais'd,
For lofty Gothick arches prais'd.

The FIRST OF TERM, the fatal day,
Doth various images convey;
First from the courts with clam'rous bawl
The criers their attorneys call;
One of the gown, discreet and wise,
By proper means his witness tries;
From Wreathock's gang-not right or laws
H'assures his trembling client's cause;
This gnaws his handkerchief, whilst that
Gives the kind ogling nymph his hat;
Here one in love with choiristers
Minds singing more than law affairs.
A serjeant limping on behind
Shews justice lame, as well as blind.
To gain new clients some dispute,
Others protract an ancient suit,
Jargon and noise alone prevail,
While sense and reason's sure to fail;
At Babel thus law terms began,
And now at Westm- er go on.

99

re

The advocate, whose subornation of perjury is hinted at, is in the foremost group; he is offering money to one of Wreathock's gang.' This Wreathock was a villainous attorney, who ceived sentence of death for his criminal practices, and was ordered to be transported for life in 1736. It is a notorious fact, that many years ago wretches sold themselves to give any evidence, upon oath, that might be required; and some of these openly walked Westminster-hall with a straw in the shoe to signify that they wanted employment as witnesses; such was one of the customs of the "good old times," which some of us regret we were not born in. The "choirister" in a surplice, bearing a torch, was probably one of the choir belonging to Westminsterabbey. To his right hand is the "limping serjeant" with a stick; his serjeantship being denoted by the coif, or cap, he

wears; the coif is now diminished into a small circular piece of black silk at the top of the wig, instead of the cap represented in the engraving. The first shop, on the left, is occupied by a bookseller; the next by a mathematical instrument maker; then there is another bookseller; beyond him a dealer in articles of female consumption; beyond her a bookseller again; and, last on that side, a second female shopkeeper. Opposite to her, on the right of the hall, stands a clock, with the hands signifying it to be about one in the afternoon; the first shop, next from the clock, is a bookseller's; then comes a female, who is a map and printseller; and, lastly, the girl who receives the barrister's hat into her care, and whose line appears to sustain the turnovers "" worn by the beaus of those days with "ruffles," which, according to Ned Ward, the sempstresses of Westminster-hall nicely "pleated," to the satisfaction of the " young students" learned in the law.

"L

Enough has, probably, been said of the engraving, to obtain regard to it as an object worth notice.

The first day of term is occupied, in the common law courts, by the examination of bail for persons who have been arrested, and whose opponents will not consent to the bail justifying before a judge at his chambers. A versified exemplification of this proceeding in the court of King's Bench, was written when lord Mansfield was chief, and Mr. Willes Hewitt was then cryer, Mr. Mingay, a a justice of the court; a person named celebrated counsel, still remembered, is represented as opposing the bail proposed by Mr. Baldwin, another counsel:

CHAP. 10.

KING'S-BENCH PRACTICE.
OF JUSTIFYING BAIL.

Baldwin. Hewitt, call Taylor s bail,—for I Shall now proceed to justify.

Hewitt. Where's Taylor's bail?
1st Bail.

Hewitt. Make way.
Lord Mansfield.-

I can't get in.

For heaven's sake

begin.
Hewitt. But where's the other?
2d Bail.

Here I stand. Mingay. I must except to both.-Command Silence, and if your lordship crave it,

Austen shall read our affidavit.

Austen. Will. Priddle, late of Fleet-street, gent.

Makes oath and saith, that late he went

To Duke's-place, as he was directed
By notice, and he there expected
To find both bail-but none could tell
Where the first bail lived-

Mingay.

Very well.
Austen. And this deponent further says,
That, asking who the second was,
He found he'd bankrupt been, and yet
Had ne'er obtained certificate.
When to his house deponent went,
He full four stories high was sent,
And found a lodging almost bare;
No furniture, but half a chair,
A table, bedstead, broken fiddle
And a bureau.

(Signed) William Priddle.
Sworn at my chambers.
Francis Buller.
Mingay. No affidavit can be fuller.
Well, friend, you've heard this affidavit,
What do you say?

2d Bail.

-Sir, by your leave, it

Is all a lie.

Mingay. Sir, have a care, What is your trade?

2d Bail.

A scavenger.
Mingay. And, pray, sir, were you never
found
Bankrupt?

2d Bail. I'm worth a thousand pound.
Mingay. A thousand pound, friend, boldly

said

Truly no.

Mingay. My lords, you hear,-no oaths
have check'd him:

I hope your lordships will—
Willes.
Reject him.
Mingay. Well, friend, now tell me where
you dwell.

1st Bail. Sir, I have liv'd in Clerkenwell These ten years.

MY FIRST BRIEF

"A lawyer," says an old comedy which I once read at the British Museum, "is an odd sort of fruit-first rottenthen green-and then ripe." There is too much of truth in the homely figure. The first years of a young barrister are

In what consisting? 2d Bail.

Stock in trade.

What sum you're bail for? 2d Bail.

Mingay. And, pray, friend, tell me,-do spent, or rather worn out, in anxious leisure. His talents rust, his temper is you know injured, his little patrimony wastes away, and not an attorney shows a sign of remorse. He endures term after term, and circuit after circuit, that greatest of all evils-a rank above his means of supporting it. He drives round the country in a post-chaise, and marvels what Johnson found so exhilarating in its motion—that He eats is, if he paid for it himself. venison, and drinks claret; but he loses the flavour of both when he reflects that his wife (for the fool is married, and married for love too!) has perhaps just dined for the third time on a cold neck of mutton, and has not tasted wine since their last party-an occurrence beyond even legal memory. He leaves the festive board early, and takes a solitary walk-returns to his lodgings in the twilight, and sees on his table a large white rectangular body, which for a moment he supposes may be a brief-alas! it is only a napkin. He is vexed, and rings to have it removed, when up comes his clerk, who is drunk and insolent: he is about to kick him down stairs, but stays his foot on recollecting the arrears of the

Mingay- Half-a-guinea dead. (Aside.)
My lords, if you've the notice read,
It says Duke's-place. So I desire
A little further time t' inquire.
Baldwin. Why, Mr. Mingay, all this va-
pour?

learning was extensive; his abilities great; his application unwearied; his integrity unimpeached. In religious principles he was an Unitarian Christian and Protestant; in political principles the friend of the civil liberties of mankind, and the genuine constitution of his country. He died August 4, 1787, and was buried on the 9th in Bunhill-fields' burying-ground, near to the grave of Dr. Jebb," his tutor at college: "the classical hand of Dr. Parr" commemorated him by an epitaph.

Willes. Take till to morrow.
Lord Mansfield.

One of the best papers in Mr. Knight's late "Quarterly Magazine," of good articles, is so suitable to this day, legally considered, that any one sufficiently interested to sympathize with "the cares and the fears" of a young lawyer, or, indeed, any one who dares to admit that a lawyer may have bowels, as well as an appetite, will suffer the Confessions of a Barrister to be recorded here.

Call the paper. The preceding pleasantry came from the pen of the late John Baynes, Esq. a Yorkshire gentleman, who was born in April, 1758, educated for the law at Trinity college, Cambridge, obtained prizes for proficiency in philosophy and classical attainments, was admitted of Gray's-inn, practised in his profession, and would probably have risen to its first honours. Mr. Nichols says "his

fellow's wages; and contents himself with wondering where the fellow finds the means of such extravagance.-Then in court many are the vexations of the briefless.-The attorney is a cruel person to them-as cruel as a rich coxcomb in a ball-room, who delights in exciting hopes only to disappoint them. Indeed I have often thought the communications be tween the solicitors and the bar have no slight resemblance to the flirtation between the sexes. Barristers, like ladies, must wait to be chosen. The slightest overture would be equally fatal to one gown as the other. The gentlemen of the bar sit round the table in dignified composure, thinking just as little of briefs as a young lady of marriage. An attorney enters not an eye moves; but somehow or other, the fact is known to all. Calmly he draws from his pocket a brief practice enables us to see at a glance that the tormentor has left a blank for the name of his counsel. He looks around the circle as if to choose his man; you cannot doubt but his eye rests on you; he writes a name, but you are too far off to read it, though you know every name on your circuit upside down. Now he counts out the fee, and wraps it up with slow and provoking formality. At length all being prepared, he looks towards you to catch (as you suppose) your eye. You nod, and the brief comes flying; you pick it up, and find on it the name of a man three years your junior, who is sitting next you: you curse the attorney's impudence, and ask yourself if he meant to insult you.-" Perhaps not," you say, "for the dog squints."I received my maiden brief in London. How well do I recollect the minutest circumstances connected with that case! The rap at the door! I am a connoisseur in raps-there is not a dun in London who could deceive me: I know their tricks but too well; they have no medium between the rap servile, and the rap impudent. This was a cheerful touch; you felt that the operator knew he should meet with a face of welcome. My clerk, who is not much under the influence of sweet sounds, seemed absolutely inspired,and answered the knock with astonishing velocity. I could hear from my inner room the murmur of inquiry and answer; and though I could not distinguish a word, the tones confirmed my hopes;-I was not long suffered to doubt-my client en. tered, and the roll of pure white paper

tied round with the brilliant red tape, met my eye. He inquired respectfully, and with an appearance of anxiety, which marked him to my mind for a perfect Chesterfield, if I was already retained in —— V.—— -? The rogue knew well enough that I had never had a retainer in my life. I took a moment to consider; after making him repeat the name of his case, I gravely assured him I was at perfect liberty to receive his brief. He then laid the papers and my fee upon the table; asked me if the time appointed for a consultation with the two gentlemen who were" with me" would be convenient; and finding that the state of my engagements would allow me to attend, made his bow and departed. That fee was sacred, and I put it to no vulgar use. Many years have now elapsed since that case was disposed of, and yet how fresh does it live in my memory! how perfectly do I recollect every authority to which he referred! how I read and re-read the leading cases that bore upon the question to be argued! One case I so bethumbed that the volume has opened at it ever since, as inevitably as the prayer-bock of a lady's maid proffers the service of matrimony. My brief related to an argument before the judges of the King's Bench, and the place of consultation was Ayles's coffee-house, adjoining Westminster-hall. There was I before the clock had finished striking the hour; my brief I knew by heart. I had raised an army of objections to the points for which we were to contend, and had logically slain every one of them. I went prepared to discuss the question thoroughly; and I generously determined to give my leaders the benefit of my cogitationsthough not without a slight struggle at the thought of how much reputation I should lose by my magnanimity. I had plenty of time to think of these things, for my leaders were engaged in court, and the attorney and I had the room to ourselves. After we had been waiting about an hour, the door flew open, and in strode one of my leaders, the second in command, less in haste (as it appeared to me) to meet his appointment, than to escape from the atmosphere of clients in which he had been just enveloped, during his passage from the court. Having shaken off his tormentors, Mr. walked up to the fire-said it was cold-nodded kindly to me and had just asked what had been the last night's division in the ho sewhen the powdered head of an usher was

away few

protruded through the half open door to every wig of the white inclined plane, at announce that “ Jones and Williams was the

upper

end of which I was standing, called on.” Down went the poker, and turned round; and in an instant I had

with streaming robes, the eyes of seventy "learned friends ” leaving me to meditate on the loss which looking me full in the face! It is hardly the case would sustain for want of his to be conceived by those who have not assistance at the expected discussion. gone through the ordeal, how terrific is Having' waited some further space, I this mute attention to the object of it. heard a rustling of silks, and the great How grateful should I have been for any

our commander in chief, sailed into thing which would have relieved me from the room.

As he did not run foul of me, I its oppressive weight--a buzz, a scraping think it possible I may not have been of the shoes, or a fit of coughing, would invisible to him; but he furnished me have put me under infinite obligations to with no other evidence of the fact. He the kind disturber. What I said I know simply-directed the attorney to provide cer- not; I knew not then; it is the only lain additional affidavits, tacked about and part of the transaction of which I am zailed away.

And thus ended the first ignorant; it was “a phantasma, or consultation. I consoled myself with the hideous dream.” They told me, however, thought that I had all my materials for to my great surprise, that I spoke in a myself, and that from having had so much loud voice; used violent gesture, and as more time for considering the subject than I went along seemed to shake off my trepi. the others, I must infallibly make the best dation. Whether I made a long speech or speech of the three. At length the fatal a short one I cannot tell; for I had no day came. I never shall forget the thrill power of measuring time. All I know with which I heard open the case, is, that I should have made a much longer and felt how soon it would be my turn to one, had I not felt my ideas, like Bob speak. O, how I did pray for a long Acre's courage, oozing out of my fingers' speech ! I lost all feeling of rivalry; and ends. The court decided against us, would gladly have given him every thing erroneously as I of course thought, for that I intended to use myself, only to the young advocate is always on the right defer the dreaded moment for one half- side. The next morning I got up early hour. His speech was frightfully short, to look at the newspapers, which I exyet, short as it was, it made sad havoc pected to see full of our case. with my stock of matter.

The next

obscure corner, and in a small type, I found speaker's was even more concise, and yet a few words given as the speeches of my my little stock suffered again severely. leaders : and I also read that “Mr.I then found how experience will stand followed on the same side" in the place of study. These men could not, from the multiplicity of their engagements, have spent a tithe of the time upon the case which I had done: and yet they had seen much which had escaped my research. At length my turn came. I

It is affirined of sir William Blackwas sitting among the back rows in the old court of King's Bench. It was on the

stone, that so often as he sat down to the first day of Michaelmas term, and late in composition of his Commentaries on the

Laws of England, he always ordered a the evening. A sort of darkness visible"

bottle of wine wherewith to moisten the had been produced by the aid of a few candles dispersed here and there. I arose, other professional men sometimes solace

dryness of his studies; and in proof that but I was not perceived by the judges, their cares by otherwise disporting them. who had turned together to consult, sup- selves, there is a kind of catch, the words posing the argument finished. B-was the first to see me, and I received from

of which, having reference to their art or him a nod of kindness and encourage

mystery, do so marvellously inspire them, ment which I hope I shall never forget. gravity, io a right merry tune :

that they chant it with more glee than The court was crowded, for it was a question of some interest; it was a

A woman havivg settlement, dreadful inoment—the ushers stilled the Married a mau with none ; andience into awful silence. I began, The question was, he being dead and at the sound of an unk.own voice, If ihat she had was gone ?

In an

LECAL GLEE.

[blocks in formation]

SOUTH SEA BUBBLE.

In 1711, the ninth year of queen Anne's reign, a charter of incorporation was granted to a company trading to the South Seas; and the South Sea company's affairs appeared so prosperous, that, in 1718, king George I. being chosen governor, and a bill enabling him to accept the office having passed both houses, on the 3d of February, his majesty in person attended the house of lords, and gave the royal assent to the act. A brief history of the company's subsequent progress is interesting at any time, and more especially at a period when excess of speculation may endanger private happiness, and disturb the public welfare.

On the 27th of January, 1719, the South Sea company proposed a scheme to parliament for paying off the national debt, by taking into its funds al. the debt which the nation had incurred before the year 1716, whether redeemable or irredeemable, amounting in the whole to the sum of 31,664,5517. 1s. 14d. For this the company undertook to pay to the use of the public the sum of 4,156,3061.; besides four years and a half's purchase for

all the annuities that should be subscribed into its fund, and which, if all subscribed, would have amounted to the sum of 3,567,5031.; amounting, with the abovementioned sum, to 7,723,8097.: in case all the annuities were not subscribed, the company agreed to pay one per cent. for such unsubscribed annuities.

To this arrangement parliament acceded, and an act was passed to ratify this contract, and containing full powers to the company accordingly. In March following South Sea stock rose from 130 to 300, gradually advanced to 400, declined to 330, and on the 7th of April was at 340. This so encouraged the directors, that on the 12th they opened books at the South Sea house for taking in a subscription for a portion of their stock to the amount of 2,250,000l. every 1007. of mediately subscribed for at that price, to which they offered at 3001.: it was imbe paid for by nine instalments within twelve months. On the 21st, a genera) Midsummer dividend should be 10 per court of the company resolved, that the and all other additions to their capital cent., and that the aforesaid subscription, before that time, should be entitled to the said dividend. This gave so favourable a view to the speculation, that on the 28th the directors opened a second subscription for another million of stock, which was presently taken at 4007. for every 1007., and the subscribers had three years allowed them for payment. On the 20th of May, South Sea stock rose to 550. So amazing a price created a general infatuation. Even the more prudent, who had laughed at the folly and madness of others, were seized with the mania; they borrowed, mortgaged, and sold, to raise all the money they could, in order to hold the favourite stock; while a few quietly sold out and enriched themselves. Prodigious numbers of people resorted daily from all parts of the kingdom to 'Change-alley, where the assembled speculators, by their excessive noise and hurry, seemed like so many madmen just escaped from cells and chains. All thoughts of commerce were laid aside for the buying and selling of estates, and traffic in South Sea stock, Some, who had effected sales at high premiumns, were willing to lay out the money on real property, which consequently advanced beyond its actual value: cautious landowners justly concluded that this was the time to get money without risk, and there

« 上一頁繼續 »