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are respectable in ability, and one of them is considered a very able lawyer. The title is “ your honour.” The emolument is not equal to the heavy expenses of living in Australia. It may be a question whether the judges ought to be selected from the colonial bar, or whether the mode hitherto adopted should be continued of sending them from the bar of England: but, doubtless, it will ultimately be here as in other countries, that the bar will furnish its own superiors. Were this now the case, the difficulty would be excessive of getting the leading barristers to accept the office of judge, however in other respects it may be inviting; as the difference betwixt their professional income, say, £3,000 or £4,000 per annum, and £1,500, would be a sacrifice too great to make for the honour received.
To a stranger there is a want of that peculiar bearing towards each other, in the different ranks of the profession, that one sees and admires so much in Britain ; and the tart rejoinders of the counsel to the judges surprised me not a little : they had all the abruptness but none of the point of Mr. Clerk's celebrated reply to Lord Eldon, when checked by his lordship in an appeal case : "My lord, it is my privilege to speak, but it is your duty to hear.”
To those who are acquainted with the complexity and difficulty of the English law,—its divided jurisdiction of law and equity, its system of common-law pleading, and its artificial principles of evidence,-it will be matter of surprise that in so young a colony as New South Wales, where the relations of society are so simple as compared with those of the mother country, the whole body of English law should have been introduced, and be now acted upon for the administration of justice. The pleadings, both in equity and in common law, flourish in their
full prolixity; and a plentiful crop of litigation is said to be produced by the technical rules of practice. The consequence is, that a large harvest is reaped by the legal profession. It is asserted, marvellous as it may appear, that during the recent crisis even the attorneys themselves were shocked at the money squandered away in legal proceedings, chiefly in consequence of embarrassed men being anxious to stave off the day of payment as long as possible. There is one legal institution in Australia, the operation of which in actual practice it may be of some service to describe : I allude to the trial of Nisi Prius cases before two respectable men, (qualified to act as special jurors,) such as storekeepers and magistrates, instead of before a jury of twelve men. If either party wish to submit the trial to a jury, it is at their option to do so. Again, if either party desire to have a cause tried by special jurors, a motion to that effect must be made, and the court will grant it on proper grounds being shown. But both these proceedings are extraordinary.
The ordinary mode of trial is by two assessors. They are charged by the judge in the same manner as a jury, and in case of a difference of opinion, the judge may give a casting vote. The assessors receive from the successful party ten shillings each ; and as the two assessors generally sit the whole day, they sometimes earn a very handsome remuneration. The advantages of this institution are these : greater despatch than when the trial is by jury ; the withdrawal of two men instead of twelve from their private affairs; and the confidence which is usually generated by the position and character of the assessors. With respect to the emoluments of the legal profession, it must not be inferred that the profession of an attorney is necessarily a thriving one in Sydney ;--so far from it, that
there is no place where connexion is of greater importance, and where, consequently, the bulk of the business is in fewer hands, while many are without clients. With respect to the higher branch of the profession, the fees are not, I understand, upon so high a scale as in England, partly in consequence of the great competition of forensic talent, and in the next place, the business is, as in Scotland and England, engrossed by the older practitioners; while the numerous barristers who have recently arrived in Sydney, or have sprung up in the colony, have only the crumbs to share among them. In former times, I believe that fees of fifty, sixty, and even one hundred guineas were not of very rare occurrence; but even in the most important cases such fees are now unknown. The name of one calculating individual is generally to be found in the list of causes, each day; and it is said, that he systematically refuses to pay every demand, the use of the money due being of more importance to him in his large concerns than the increased amount which he is ultimately forced to pay under the decision of the court.
The New South Wales bar was, after the death of a Dr. Wardel, a lawyer of great ability and practice, and the retirement of a gentleman named Wentworth, so ill supplied, that a person engaged in a lawsuit, finding all the leading talent retained against him by his adversary, inserted an advertisement in the newspapers, headed “ Barristers Wanted !” This was read in England, and occasioned an influx of professional men. Some of these would have been in a miserable plight, by all accounts, but for the sudden growth of Port Philip and New Zealand, where they took shelter, and now procure a very comfortable livelihood.
The “glorious uncertainty of the law” is as common in New South Wales as at home. This may be in part attributable to the introduction of all the technicalities of the English law. In the next place, no judge can be sufficiently skilled in all the different branches of the law,-equity, common law, criminal law, equity pleading, conimon law pleading, and ecclesiastical practice,and yet the supreme court assumes the adjudication of cases in all these branches. At times, it is alleged, it is necessary to point out to the judges the commonest principles of law; and the expectations of judges, counsel, and suitors, with respect to a point of law, are frequently overturned by the chance arrival of a volume of recent reports from England.
Special jury causes, of which I have seen two, sometimes occasion great expense to the suitors in bringing up witnesses from distant parts of the country. At the last sitting there were no less than eight cases which could not be tried, in consequence of the appointed number of days having run out. They were ordered to stand over to the next sittings, when the witnesses will have to be a second time brought up, and suitable refreshers furnished to counsel.
I have just returned from a visit to an old acquaintance, who possesses one of the most splendid villas in the neighbourhood of Sydney, in the midst of an extensive and beautiful garden. The interior of the mansion is handsome and spacious, and fitted up with good taste; comprising in its many elegancies the results of his extensive travels in Europe. Mr. B. is a gentleman very justly esteemed, and is an active member of many of the excellent public institutions in Sydney; and his ample fortune and high respectability are just those lights that settlers in this
distant land should keep ever before them, as guides to show what may be accomplished by prudence, activity, and strict integrity. His gardens are most beautifully arranged.
Here I saw the almond, the fig, the citron ; the blossom, the newly-set fruit, and the ripe fruit of the orange, all on the same tree; the lemon, the loquat, (an excellent Chinese fruit, of the size of a plum, and in taste resembling the gooseberry,) the pomegranate, the grape, nectarine, apricot, and pear; the date, the aloe, the sugar-cane, the strawberry, and, better than all, the delicious water melon. The white cedar is also there, and the bamboo; the dark Norfolk island pine, with its pelican-pouch, and the weeping willow, in all their vigorous and graceful perfection. Fifty hives of bees amuse the leisure hours of my excelent friend and his lady.
I cannot omit this opportunity of expressing iny thanks to the kind friends whose unreserved hospitality I experienced during my stay in Sydney. Coming, as I did, without any letters of introduction, their kindness was as unexpected as it was profuse; and I shall ever retain the most grateful recollection of it.
While merely glancing at the hospitality of Sydney, I may mention meeting at dinner a person of name and rank in his own land, with whose career considerable interest is associated the chief of G
He is a large muscular man, of the Marquis of T. school. His garb was a blue cap with a tarnished silver band, pea coat, thick cloth trowsers, and no waistcoat; and in this he rode seventy miles in a hot wind. Although outré in his attire, whenever he addresses you, you instantly recognise the gentleman. He made himself extremely agreeable ; and the evening passed cheerily away under