« הקודםהמשך »
At length he lighted on the very spot.
THE IRISH BAR, AS IT WAS AND AS IT IS. The legal profession in this country to save, when life and death, liberty has changed surprisingly, but so has and honour were the fearful topics, the country itself, and it would be handled with unmatched energies, with strange that a profession which exists a courage that nothing could shake, upon the feelings, wrongs and passions and an eloquence at once sublime and of the people should remain unmoved, terrible. The impassioned student may while the social and political system dwell with rapture over these impeunderwent rapid and fearful alterations. rishable records of Irish oratory, which Whether the Irish Bar has changed for owe their origin to the fearfully misdithe better is another question, and rected politics of the time, till his very which would be solved according to soul is fired with emulation, and he the different opinions, and perhaps po- thirsts to rush forward in defence of no. litics, of each individual. But it must person in particular, but of the rights strike every person acquainted with the of the whole human race. Yet, when history of Ireland for the last forty reason assumes her ascendancy, and the years, that the political temper of the effervescence of youth bas cooled and Irish Bar has been as wonderfully settled, he will read the history of the cbanged as the style and method of legal profession of the period alluded their transaction of professional busi- to with pride indeed, at the manifestaness “ What a glorious thing,” ex tion of the highest intellect and spirit, claims a young and ambitious spirit, but also with mingled sensations of “ must it not have been to have lived grief, pity and terror-grief for the in the days of Yelverton and Burgh, deep wounds inflicted on his country in the brilliant times of Curran, or of by her impious sons, for the havoc of those now sobered spirits, Burrowes, human life, perpetrated by furious biBushe and Plunket, but who then moved gotry and the wildest revenge-pity with splendour in the political firma- for the noblest talents misapplied, for ment, shining brightly therein, and ga- genius perverted to the purposes of thering triumphant "laurels ; what a evil, for the ignominious fate of the soul-stirring spectacle to have witnessed young, the gallant, and the brave, who the trial of Hamilton Rowan, or the died the death of rebels, but might have Sheares', or Wolfe Tone, or the young lived the lives of patriots—and with a Emmet," -- those were the fine times for well-founded terror lest the artifices of the lawyers and for the fame of their unprincipled and wicked men might profession, when the larger the subject bring down upon his country a recurthe greater appeared to be the talents rence of the frightful calamities with of the advocate, when the more des- which, at no remote time, she was perate the case, the mightier the effort scourged and afflicted.
The eventful period of our melancholy formance of professional duty, this history, alluded to above, required the might not be necessary ; but if it did exertions, not of the reasoning faculty not, and it could not, interfere with to demonstrate difficult propositions, or either, a display of eloquence, on suitaunfold hidden stores of learning, hived ble occasions, could not fail to be as up by years of laborious application, laudable as attractive. Neither has the but it demanded, and the supply was want of this winning faculty been equal to the demand, the highest order compensated by a closer logic, or a of imaginative eloquence, that could greater conciseness of expression ; for melt the toughest heart, awaken the those who are in the habit of attendsleeping sympathies of the soul and ing the courts at the more lively and bend them to the desired purpose—that bustling periods, when the “twelve could stir up indignation or cause tears good men, and true, stand together to to flow, subdue the reason through the hear the evidence,” will not complain influence of the affections, or when all of a want of diffusiveness in the else failed, confound and terrify those speakers. who were insensible to softer emotions. What demonstrates the unpleasant The grand qualities of the soul, compe- truth, that first-rate genius is a scarce tent to produce effects so great, are no commodity, at the present time, with longer required ; Demosthenic elo- the legal profession, is the somewhat quence is not wanted every day, and indifferent figure that several experitherefore does not now exist to the enced members of the Irish bar have same extent as formerly in the learned made of late years in the house of profession. This is no doubt true ; but commons. Surely, without any fear it may fairly be asked, if the occasion of losing character, they might in: required, would the mighty orator dulge on so glorious a stage in the haparise? We rather think not; at least piest flights of oratory, and prove, if amongst the seniors of the bar who daily they could, their mental excellence; appear before the public, and with whose but with the exception of a few, (some talents and powers, as far as they go, of whom we almost regret having vawe are familiar-learning and research cated their seats in the zenith of their they undoubtedly display-consummate fame, although they were called to skill with the most gentlemanly address high and honorable preferment,) they -but the mighty attributes of the ora- have seldom ventured to soar above *tor are not to be found amongst them. mediocrity. If the reader were to Now, there is nothing presumptuous in turn over the pages of the Irish debates this assertion ; if nature's brightest gift, of thirty-five years ago, and compare perfected by art, were possessed by them, the lawyers of that day, as speakers, it would occasionally appear in a single with those of the present day, humisentence or a word, betraying the mas- liating to the latter would be the conterspirit, as grains of gold, washed down trast. But may not geuius and cultiby the stream, tell of the rich mine that vated eloquence exist amongst the juconstitutes their more distant source. niors of the profession, if not to be Legal subtleties, technicalities, and found amongst the seniors ? It may, facts could not always chain down to and no doubt it does. We are contheir vulgar level the more divine qua- vinced a large portion of unemployed lities of the soul; they would escape and splendid ability might be met with from the contagion of dullness, exhi- among the younger members of the biting their godlike nature in bright bar. We do not, however, mean to pictures, which genius alone can draw; include that troublesome class who exor if a due regard for propriety and the pect to make a rapid progress in legal first object of a rational speaker, to deli- practice and repute, upon the mere ver himselfsuitably to the subject, would strength of a successful course of acaprevent them soaring, on ordinary demic discipline, and who entertain exoccasions, to the height to which travagant pretensions on the most rithe broad wings of their imagina- diculous grounds ; nor yet amongst the tion might raise them, they would, at numerous class of vastly clever young least, lift the subject, be it ever so gentlemen, the ornament of the teahumble, and dignify it by chaste and table and ball-room, and the shining elegant expression. For the attain- lights of debating clubs, whose future ment of justice, or the faithful per- greatness has been often predicted by
old grandmothers and maiden aunts. late years, sprung up in the profession. We might seek for it, where alone we We have now what was unknown some could expect to find it, amongst that thirty years ago, a distinct and almost serious and select class of industrious, exclusive Chancery Bar ; and it can be thoughtful, clear-headed young men, of asserted beyond the shadow of dispute, strong capacity, extensive knowledge, that there is not in the empire a more and a natural power of eloquence learned and accomplished class of pracfashioned and improved by study, for titioners than its leaders are at present. the display of which the right opportu- Comparisons are odious ; but if the nity is wanting, and which on occasions reader were to witness the studied suof little moment they dare not evince. perciliousness of Sugden, and others The condition of such men at the Irish whom we might mention in WestminBar is unenviable enough: with that ster Hall, and to contrast it with the modesty and sensitiveness inseparable calm, respectful, and grave deportment from true talent, they shrink from of our eminent Chancery practitioners, such a notoriety as they might probably his respect for the latter would be not a attain by sacrificing their time and abi- little increased. What is more to their lities in advocating the designs or fur- praise, it is not only to the Court they thering the purposes of the demagogue are invariably polite, they are equally and his faction. Poverty and obscurity so to their juniors in the profession ; are in their eyes preferable to money, they do not deal in sarcastic remarks, and a name acquired by such disreput- nor do they ever stoop to evince a able practices. They are contented to mean and discreditable jealousy; on the waste the flower of their youth, in dry, contrary, always accessible and friendly, painful and laborious study, patiently they seem to take a pleasure in lending expecting, at some future day, that em their assistance and the benefit of their ployment for their talents from which experience whenever sclicited, and this shallow and obtrusive mediocrity has, in the kindest spirit. Were Englishfor the present, excluded thein. They men to visit our courts more frequentsit month after month and year after ly, they would disabuse their minds of year, preserving the respectability of the absurd notion, that with us Irish, their characters, although enduring in law as in every thing else, all is conmany a privation. Amongst them we fusion and blunder; they would see with believe there exists a high order of elo- what regularity, temper, and decorum, quence, enriched by learning, and culti- the business of our courts is conducted. vated by industry and taste. They The Exchequer would shew them how may not be noisy in their patriotism, business could be dispatched, and the nevertheless their love of country is Master of the Rolls teach them a spepure, ardent, and consistent. How few cies of regularity to which they have amongst them figure at the political been hitherto strangers. They would arenas, to violate the decorum of their be surprised to find, that some of the profession; and how fatal would it be legal functionaries talked more indifferfor the tranquillity and safety of their ent declamation in the courts of Westcountry if they suffered themselves to minster, than any six lawyers in the be influenced by the seditious spirit of Four Courts of Dublin. It is true, the the day—if they lent the aid of their prejudice which existed in the minds of character and eloquence to the wild Englishmen, as to the bombast of the project of “ Repeal,” and humiliated Irish bar, is disappearing fast ; the utthemselves by following in the wake of ter failure of Mr. Phillips, and the comthe most capricious and remorseless parative failure of Mr. Sheil, are strong Cleon that, in the name of liberty, ever proofs that the days of rhetorical floutyrannised over a misguided people. rish,” if ever they existed, are past ;
But if the glory of the Bar for bril- and that even eloquence, unaccompaliant and effective oratory has been di- nied by sound knowledge and industry, minished, their capacity and fitness for must fail, when placed in competition dispatch of business' has wonderfully with practical ability.* increased. A division of labor has, of
An accomplished English writer, in an article on Irish forensic eloquence, had the good taste and candour to remark, that “ to judge from recent examples, it may
The usual course of legal education ness of the heart, which medicine canfor the Irish bar, is just as dry and not cure, arising from hope deferred technical as for the English, and just to dread the circuit, from the certainty as well qualified to extinguish taste and of being drained of his small resources, genius. It would not be possible for a without the return of a single guineayoung Irish barrister to commit a more to experience tedious vacations, affordfatal mistake, than that of seeking to ing ample time for study and gloomy establish bis fame by a flowery appeal reflections, and what is worse, to en: to the passions; it would be the short dure idleness in the midst of a busy road to obscurity--the attornies would term of the most irksome character listen to his fine sentences with a saga- because altogether involuntary. The cious shrug ; if he attempted to quote bright prospects formed in the glow poetry they would quit the court in and enthusiasm of youth, are overcast indignationi'; but if they heard the by such dispiriting realities, the lofty aspirant for their favour argue a expectations not unwarrantahly enterspecial demurrer successfully, turn tained, from a consciousness of talent, round his opponent from a defect are chilled by disappointment and nein an affidavit, or save the costs of a glect ; insomuch that the young lawyer motion by some sharp point of prac. begins to doubt the existence of that tice, then indeed, would these unpo- capacity and judgment on which he etical gentlemen smile most encou. had relied for eminence and fame. The ragingly, and congratulate the matter. elastic spirit is thus not unfrequently of-fact tyro on the flattering prospect crushed, fine sentiments destroyed, and of future professional eminence. the hopes of a generous ambition blight
Before we conclude, we feel disposed ed. The sympathies are deadened in to throw out a few hints to those who his bosom, and if, at last, he creeps into are thinking of putting their names on business, he wades through it like a laKings' Inns, not for the purpose of borious drudge, uncheered by the endiscouragement, but as suggestions livening influence of a noble emulawhich it may be not unuseful to remem- tion, and advancing in years, learns to ber.
deride the feelings and emotions iu In the first place, the law is the tar- which he once delighted to indulge. diest of all professions : it is no un
There is an extremely foolish obsercommon thing to speak of a young man, vation, frequently made by people who of fifteen years standing at the bar, and take credit for great discernment, that the it is the general and almost natural surest way for a man to rise in the profescourse of events, for a man of fair ta- sion of the law, is not to be possessed of lents and competent knowledge to re a shilling at starting; this sounds exmain seven or ten years without hold- tremely well; but we put a plain quesing a brief, a severe trial this to the tion, how is the unfortunate young barmost patient, a wearisome probation to rister, destitute of fortune or connechim who has some little independence; tion, to exist, during the years of his but to the individual who depends sole- perilous probation,—what is he to do, ly on his own exertions for support, it until the wonderful opportunity occurs is attended with a distressing series of which is to bring him at once to wealth hardships and privations. What more
and fame; and for how many years painful than the struggle to preserve may he not wait, notwithstanding the a gentlemanly appearance on scanty most constant application of his enermeans,ếto endure for years that sick- gies to professional studies, before “ the
well be doubted, whether we ought not to copy, instead of sneering at, our Irish brethren of the gown, for each of these gentlemen (alluding to Messrs. Driscoll and Johnstone, on the memorable · Bottle-conspiracy case,') confined himself exclusively to commenting upon the evidence individually affecting his client, leaving the political bearings of the prosecution to Mr. North ; while we find Mr. Pollock, who in the Morning Journal case was retained to defend Mr. Gutch, on the ground that he was not criminally responsible as nominal publisher of an article of which he knew nothing till it appeared in print, flying off into a lofty eulogium on the value of a free press, and citing Junius to prove it.”