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there was even something, as they sauntered to and fro, in their languid gait and undecided movements, from which it could be inferred that their sensations were melancholy and irksome. I was for some time at a loss to account for this extreme disproportion between the supply and the demand ; so much greater than any ever known to exist in England. During my stay in Dublin, I accidentally fell into conversation with an intelligent Irish gentleman, who in the early part of his life had been connected for some years with the profession of the law. I mentioned what I had observed, and asked for an explanation : he gave it pretty nearly as follows; and, allowing now and then for a little national exaggeration of manner and expression, I am inclined to confide in what he stated as substantially correct.—“ Your remark is just, that our bar is grievously overstocked; and crowds of fresh members are flocking to it every term, as if for the sole purpose, and certainly with the effect, of starving one another. If the annual emoluments of the profession were collected into a common fund, and equally distributed among the body, the portion of each would not exceed a miserable pittance. The ordinary explanation of this is, that the profession of the law is like a lottery, where the greatness of the prizes allures an extraordinary number of competitors : this is true to a certain extent in England, as well as here ; but I suspect with this difference, that in England almost every person, before he purchases a ticket, assures himself
, that he has, not only some chance of the highest prizes, but a great chance of the intermediate and smaller ones; whereas with us not more than one-fourth of the holders have the slightest ground of calculating upon either the one or the other. This inordinate preference for the profession of the bar in this country arises from many causes. As one of the chief, I shall mention the preposterous ambition of our gentry, and their fantastic sensitiveness on the article of 'family pride.' All our distresses and humiliations have not yet tamed us into right notions upon the most important concerns of life. In every thing we still prefer glare to substance,-in nothing more than in the choice of a profession for our sons. An Irish father's first anxiety is to give his son a calling in every way befitting the ancient dignity of his name ; and in this point of view the bar has peculiar attractions. It is not merely that it may, by possibility, lead to wealth, or, perhaps, to a peerage, or a seat in the privy council, though these are never left out of the account, but, independently of all this, an adventitious dignity has been conferred upon it, as a profession, by the political circumstances of the country. Until the act of 1792, no catholic could become a barrister ; all the emoluments and dignities of the law were the exclusive property of the privileged few; and they were so considerable, that the highest families in the kingdom rushed in to share them. This for whom a cause was waiting, seized the first that drifted within reach, and appeared in court, dripping like a river-god.-—“ Well, Mr. Curran,” asked one of the judges, “ how did you leave your friends coming on below?”- Swimmingly, my Lord.” In the course of the morning, one of these learned friends (who, from missing his footing, had come in for a thorough sousing) repeatedly protested to their Lordships, that he should feel ashamed to offer such and such arguments to the Court.-Curran, in reply, complimented him upon his delicacy of feeling, which he represented as “ truly a high and rare strain of modesty, in one who had just been dipped in the Liffey."
stamped an aristocratic character and importance upon the profession. To be counsellor" in those days was to be no ordinary personage. Many of them belonged to noble houses ; many were men of name and authority in the state; all of them, even the least distinguished, caught a certain ray of glory from the mere act of association with a favoured class contending for the most dazzling objects of competition. Much of this has passed away; but a popular charm, I should rather say a delusion still attaches to the name; and parents, duped by certain vague and obsolete associations, continue to precipitate their sons into this now most precarious career, without the least advertence to their substantial prospects of success, and in utter ignorance of the peculiar habits and talents required to obtain it. It is a common by-word, with us, that no one who really deserves to succeed at our bar will fail. This may be very true; but what a complication of qualities, what a course of privation, what trials of taste, and temper, and pride, are involved in that familiar and ill-understood assertion. barrister who looks to eminence from his own sheer unaided merits, must have a mind and frame prepared by nature for the endurance of unremitting toil. He must cram his memory with the arbitrary principles of a complex and incongruous code, and be equally prepared, as occasion serves, to apply or misapply them. He must not only surpass his competitors in the art of reasoning right from right principles—the logic of common life; but he must be equally an adept in reasoning right from wrong principles, and wrong from right ones. He must learn to glory in a perplexing sophistry, as in the discovery of an immortal truth. He must make up his mind and his face to demonstrate, in open court, with all imaginable gravity, that nonsense is replete with meaning, and that the clearest meaning is manifestly nonsense by construction. This is what is meant by • legal habits of thinking ;' and to acquire them he must not only prepare his faculties by a course of assiduous and direct cultivation, but he must absolutely forswear all other studies and speculations that may interfere with their perfection. There must be no dallying with literature ; no hankering after comprehensive theories for the good of men; away must he wiped all such • trivial fond records.' He must keep to his digests and indexes. He must see nothing in mankind but a great collection of plaintiffs and defendants, and consider no revolution in their affairs as comparable in interest to the last term report of points of practice decided in Banco Regis. As he walks the streets, he must give way to no sentimental musings. There must be no commercing with the skies ;' no idle dreams of love, and rainbows, and poetic forms, and all the bright illusions upon which the “ fancy free' can feast. If a thought of love intrudes, it must be connected with the law of marriage settlements, and articles of separation from bed and board. So of the other passions; and of every the most interesting incident and situation in human life--he must view them all with reference to their " legal effect and operation." If a funeral passes by, instead of permitting his imagination to follow the mourners to the grave, he must consider, how far the executor may not have made himself liable for a waste of assets by some supernumerary plumes and hatbands, beyond * the state and circumstances of the deceased ;'-or if bis eye should light upon a requisition for a public meeting, to petition against a
grievance, he must regard the grievance as immaterial, but bethink himself whether the wording of the requisition be strictly warrantable under the provisions of the convention act.
“Such is a part, and a very small part of the probationary discipline to which the young candidate for forensic eminence must be prepared to submit; and if he can hold out for ten or fifteen
years, his superior claims may begin to be known and rewarded. But success will bring no diminution of toil and self-denial. The bodily and mental labour alone of a successful barrister's life would be sufficient, if known beforehand, to appal the stoutest. Besides this, it has its many peculiar rubs and annoyances. His life is passed in a tumult of perpetual contention, and he must make up his sensibility to give and receive the hardest knocks. He has no choice of cases; he must throw himself heart and soul into the most unpromising that is confided to him. He must fight pitched battles with obstreperous witnesses. He must have lungs to outclamour the most clamorous. He must make speeches without materials. He must keep battering for hours at a jury that he sees to be impregnable. He is before the public, and at the mercy of public opinion, and if every nerve be not strained to the utmost to achieve what is impossible, the public, with its usual goodnature, will attribute the failure to want of zeal or capacity in the advocate—to any thing rather than the badness of the cause. Finally, he must appear to be sanguine, even after a defeat; and be prepared to tell a knavish client, that has been beaten out of the courts of common law, that his . is a clear case for relief in equity.' The man who can do all this deserves to succeed, and will succeed ; but unless he be gifted with the rare qualifications of such men as Curran, Bushe, and Plunket, or be lifted by those fortuitous aids upon which few have a right to count, he cannot rationally expect to arrive at eminence in his profession upon less rigorous conditions.
“Hitherto,"continued my informant, “ I have been speaking of such as come to the bar as simply and solely to a scene of professional exertion ; but there is another and a still more numerous class who are sent to it for the sake of the lucrative offices with which it abounds. It was no sooner discovered that our bar was uninfluential, and likely, on occasions, to be a troublesome body in the state, than the most decisive measures were taken to break its spirit. Places were multiplied beyond all necessity and all precedent in England. By a single act of parliament, two and thirty judicial offices were created, to be held by barristers of six years' standing, and averaging each from five to eight hundred pounds a year. This was one of the political measures of the late Lord Clare, an able lawyer, and excellent private character; but, like many other sound lawyers and worthy gentlemen, a most mischievous statesman. He had felt in his own experience how far the receipt of the public money may extinguish a sensibility to public abuses. And he planned and passed the bar-bill. The same policy has been continued to the present day. The profession teems with places of emolument ; and the consequence is, that every subdivision of the parliamentary interest' deputes its representative, to get forward in the ordinary way, as talents or chance niay
favour him, but at all events to receive in due time his distributive portion of the general patronage.
“The views of Lord Clare, and his successors, have been to a certain extent attained. The Irish bar no longer takes any part as a body in public concerns; but if it were expected that they were to be disciplined into a corps of corrupt and violent partizans, the plan, for the honour of their country and their profession, has failed. I could collect that it is very unusual for any of these, either expecting or enjoying the favours of the government, ever to make themselves unworthily conspicuous, by clamouring for a continuance of the system under which they thrive. If they have not the high virtue to sacrifice their personal interests to the public good, they at least have the dignity to abstain from all factious co-operation with the party to which they are considered to belong; and, in Irish politics, neutrality of this kind is no ordinary merit.
“I must also add, as highly to the credit of the Irish bar, that their personal independence, in the discharge of their professional duties, bas continued as it used to be in the best days of their country. The remark applies to the general spirit of the entire body. There may be exceptions that escaped my observation ; but I could perceive no symptoms of subserviency--no surrender of the slightest tittle of their clients' rights to the frowns or impatience of the bench. I was rather struck by the peculiarly bold and decisive tone, with which, when occasions arose, they asserted the privileges of the advocate. An idea has prevailed of late, let me hope incorrectly, that with us a political defendant has a difficulty in finding an advocate, upon whose nerves and zeal he can rely. Such a suspicion has never been entertained in Ireland. Humbled and exhausted as she has been, her bar has not yet been drained of its purity and strength. In that country an obnoxious defendant has much to fear, and from many quarters; but when the hour of his trial approaches, he has, at least, the consolation of knowing that he can never want the support, and to any number he may wish, of able and honourable men, in whose loyalty to their trust, and intrepidity in discharging it, he may confidently repose.
“While I am upon this subject, I cannot omit a passing remark upon another quality, by which I consider the gentlemen of this bar to be pre-eminently distinguished—the invariable courtesy of manners which they preserve amidst all the hurry and excitement of litigation. The present Chancellor of Ireland, himself a finished gentleman, was struck upon his arrival by the peculiarly gentlemanlike manner in which he observed business transacted in his court.' I have given an instance of this forensic suavity in my notice of Mr. Bushe.—He is the great model of this quality. He hands up a point of law to the bench with as much grace and pliancy of gesture, as if he were presenting a courtlady with a fan. This excessive finish is peculiar to himself; but the spirit which dictates it is common to the entire profession. Scenes of turbulent altercation are inevitably frequent, and every weapon of disputation-wit and sneers, and deadly brain-blows must be employed and encountered ; but the contest is purely intellectual : it is extremely rare indeed that any thing approaching to an offensive personality escapes. I confess that I far prefer this systematic respect for the high feelings of the gentleman to the less courtly usage of our bar, where I have not unfrequently heard flat contradictions, and unqualified imputations of professional ignorance, very liberally bandied to and fro between the learned combatants. Nothing of this ultra-forensic
warmth occurs in the Irish courts. It is avoided on common principles of good taste : it is also prevented, if I am rightly informed, by the understood feeling that any thing bordering upon personal rudeness must infallibly lead to a settlement out of Court."
When I first frequented the courts in Dublin, I went entirely with the view of witnessing the specimens of forensic talent displayed there. The result of my observations upon these will come in more naturally in connexion with the particular characters of whom I propose to treat. But I found more than I had expected; and one circumstance that very forcibly struck me demands a few words apart. I would recommend to any stranger wishing to obtain a thorough insight into the state of manners and morals in the interior of Ireland, without incurring the risk of a visit to the remoter districts, to attend upon a few motiondays in any of the Irish courts of common law. A large portion of these motions relate to ineffectual attempts to execute the process of the law; and the facts that daily come out, offer a frightful and most disgraceful picture of the lawless habits of the lower, and also, I regret to add, of the higher orders of the community. One of our judges in Westminster Hall would start from his seat in wonder and indignation at the detail of scenes to which the Irish judges, from long familiarity, listen almost unmoved, as to mere ordinary outrages of
The office of a process-server in Ireland appears to be, indeed,, a most perilous occupation, and one that requires no common qualities in the person that undertakes it: he must unite the courage and strength of the common soldier with the conduct and skill in stratagem of the experienced commander ; for woe betide him, if he be deficient in either. The moment this hostile herald of the law is known to be hovering on the confines of a Connaught gentleman's domain, (that sacred territory into which his Majesty's writs have no right to run,) the proud blood of the defendant swells up to the boiling point, and he takes the promptest measures to repel and chastise the intruder : he summons his servants and tenants to a council of war; he stiffens their fidelity by liberal doses of " mountain-dew * ;" they swear they will stand by “ his honour” to the last. Preparations as against a regular siege ensue ; doors and windows are barred; sentinels stationed; blunderbusses charged; approved scouts are sent out to reconnoitre; and skirmishing parties, armed with cudgels and pitchforks, are detached along every avenue of approach. Having taken these precautions, the magnanimous defendant shuts himself up in his inmost citadel to abide the issue. The issue may be anticipated; the messenger of the law is either deterred from coming near, or, if he has the hardhihood to face the danger, he is way-laid and beaten black and blue for his presumption :-if he shews the King's writ, it is torn from him, and flung back in fragments in his face. Resistance, remonstrance, and intreaties are all unavailing ; nothing remains for him but to effect his retreat, if the power of moving be left him, to the nearest magistrate, not in the interest of the defendant, where with the help of some attorney that will venture to take a fee against “ his honour,” he draws up a bulletin of his kicks and bruises in the form
* Illicit whiskey—so called, from being generally distilled on the mountainous