MR. WALLACE is in several respects a remarkable man. He has for many years held an eminent station in his profession, and is pre-eminently entitled to the self-gratulation of reflecting, that his success has been of that honorable kind in which neither accident nor patronage had any share. Of his early life and original prospects I have heard little, beside the fact that, in his youth, he found himself alone in the world, without competence or connections, and with merely the rudiments of general knowledge; and that under these disheartening circumstances, instead of acquiescing in the obscurity to which he was apparently doomed, he formed, and for years persevered in a solitary plan of self-instruction, until, feeling his courage and ambition increased by the result of the experiments he had made upon himself, and measuring his strength with the difficulties to be encountered, he rejected the temporary allurements of any more ignoble calling; and, with a boldness and self-reliance which the event has justified, decided upon the Bar as the most suited to his pretensions.

With this view, and with a patient determination of purpose, which is among the most trying exercises of practical philosophy, he qualified himself for Trinity College, and entering there, gave himself (what was probably his chief motive in submitting to the delay) the reputation of having received a regular and learned education. He was called to the Bar in 1798, where his talents soon bringing him into notice, he advanced at a gradual and steady pace to competence, then on to affluence, and finally to the conspicuous place which he now fills in the Irish courts. He obtained a silk gown about

Considering, as I do, Mr. Wallace's mind to be in its original constitution what may be denominated one of all-work, I should say of it, that among the multiform and dissimilar departments of intellectual exercise involved in the profession of the law, there was scarcely any for which he could not have provided a corresponding aptitude of faculty. His powers have, however, been very much confined to those classes of cases in which facts, rather than legal doctrines, are the subject-matter of investigation. This may have been partly accidental; for, at the Irish bar, it is not only a matter of chance whether the individual is to succeed at all, but chance, in the majority of instances, determines the particular faculties that must be developed and permanently cultivated for the purpose. There the aspirant for professional eminence can not, as in England, select a particular department, and make it the subject of his exclusive study.* One comes to the scene of exertion, relying upon his stores of learned research and his capacity for the solitary labors of the deskbut the necessity of taking whatever business is offered, throws him into a totally dissimilar line. He becomes a nisi-prius or motion lawyer, upon compulsion; strains his lungs in open court, to a pitch that neither nature nor himself had ever designed; and ascertaining by experience that this is to be his way of "getting on," resigns his original studies as unproductive toil, and concludes a prosperous career, without having ever given an opinion upon a title, or settled the draft of a deed of assignment.

Another starts upon the strength of his oral qualifications. Full of confidence and ardor, and fired with admiration of preceding models, he is all for eloquence-and eloquence of the highest order. He studies black-letter, and technicalities as a painful effort, but his cordial meditations are over the defence of Milo, and the immortal productions of the Athenian school.

* At the Irish as at the American bar, the lawyer takes all business that comes to him-whether Nisi Prius, criminal, equity, mercantile, ecclesiastical, or civil, not declining special pleading and conveyancing. In England, the lawyer usually limits himself to one line, on which he concentrates his attention and abilities. The natural result is that one practice makes good general and the other produces eminent special lawyers.-M.


273 In his ambitious reveries, he sees before him a brilliant perspective of popular occasions, with the usual accompaniments of crowded galleries, spell-bound juries, an admiring bench, an applauding bar-but let him take heed. It is at all times in the power of two or three friendly attorneys, who are in any business, to get him into Chancery, and keep him there, and with the best intentions imaginable (if he only prove competent to the tasks assigned him) to blast his fame for eloquence for ever.*

It does not, however, appear to me, that Mr. Wallace is one of those to whom any cross-purposes of this kind have assigned a final destination that can be reasonably lamented. The cases in which he is in most request, are, perhaps, those in which he was originally, and still continues more peculiarly fitted to excel.

Judging of him from his professional attributes and his collateral pursuits, I am led to infer that the early and strongest propensity of his mind was for the discovery of truth; or in other words, that he was more of the philosopher than the sophist; and it will, I apprehend, be generally found true, that such an intellect, however competent to seize, is less prone to retain

* I could cite more than one example of persons, whose talents for publicspeaking have been thus suppressed. I know of only one exception; or to speak more strictly, of an instance of very uncommon powers of oratory, breaking out long after the enthusiasm of youth had passed away, and in despite of a long subjection to habits of an opposite tendency. It was that of an Englishman, the present Mr. Justice Burton. He had been disciplined in all the severity of his native school, and forced his way at the Irish bar, entirely by his legal superiority. It was only, when in the regular course of seniority he came to address juries, that it was first discovered by others, and probably by himself, that there lay in the depths of his mind a mine of rich materials that had never been explored. To the last he had to dig for them. For the first half hour he was nothing; it took him that time to reconnoitre his subject, and get thoroughly heated: after that he was-not an accomplished speaker-for he never affected the externals of oratory-but in its great essentials-unity of purpose, and bold, rapid, and impassioned reasoning, enforced by the vigorous practical tones and gestures of real life-possessor of an energy, that at times, and often for a long time together, was quite Demosthenic. [Charles Burton, late one of the puisne Judges of the Queen's Bench in Ireland, was induced to leave the English for the Irish bar by Curran, and merited all the praise here given him. He died in December, 1847, aged 87, much lamented.-M.]`

and manage, a large mass of the multiform propositions of English law, where the terms in most familiar use are often subtile deductions from distant principles that are no longer visible to those who employ the terms with most effect; and where, in fact, the process of argumentation may be likened to the working of an algebraic equation, in which the final result is ascertained by the juxtaposition of signs rather than by a comparison of ideas. He has also indulged in too constant a sympathy with the concerns of general humanity, to have ever shrunk into a mere technical proficient. To form the true "Leguleius, cautus atque acutus," a man must make up his mind to remain for years and years profoundly indifferent to all that passes beyond the precincts of his immediate calling. He must take the course of legislation as he would the course of the stars, as things above him; and never venture, even in his most private reflections, to pry into the policy of an Act of Parliament, saving so far as the preamble may be pleased to enlighten or perplex him on that point. If questions on the Currency rage around him, he must take no part, except in hoping that the decision will not diminish the exchangeable value of the counsel's fee. If he chances to hear that a bog has burst from its moorings, or that a blazing comet threatens to pounce upon our planet, he must leave them to be treated of by the curious in such matters, and go on with his meditations over a special demurrer. He must bring himself, in short, to take no interest, direct or indirect, in aught that does not come home to his learned self. His bag must be to him the true sign of the times; and as long as it continues in high -condition, he is to rest satisfied that human affairs must be running a prosperous career.

Mr. Wallace has, however, found constant and profitable occupation in a branch of his profession, where a proficiency does not involve a corresponding waste of sensibility. He is in high repute in jury cases, and still more in those cases where issues of fact come under the investigation of the court, upon the sworn statements of the parties and their witnesses. It was said of the celebrated Malone, that to be judged of, he should be heard addressing “a jury of twelve wise men;" and

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certainly when I consider the eminent qualifications of Mr. Wallace, distinguished as he is for a solid and comprehensive judgment; for manly sagacity rather than captious subtilty in argument; for the talent (and here he peculiarly excels) of educing an orderly, lucid, and consistent statement out of a chaotic assemblage of intricate and conflicting facts; for his knowledge of human nature, both practical and metaphysical, and, along with these, for the sustained and authoritative force of his language and delivery, which operate as a kind of personal warranty for the soundness of every topic he advances; I should say that the most fitting place for the exhibition of such powers would be before such a tribunal as the admirers of Malone would have assigned him; but a tribunal, so constituted, is not to be found. The most discriminating of Irish sheriffs would be somewhat puzzled in his efforts to empannel a round dozen of special sages in a jury-box; but though wisdom in such numerical force is not to be met with, there is a tribunal in Ireland (a novelty perhaps) filled by persons, who for knowledge, intellect, and impartiality, may, without exaggeration, be denominated "four wise men," and who are most frequently called upon to serve as jurors in that description of cases in which Mr. Wallace's professional superiority is most acknowledged.* Those cases (in technical parlance called heavy motions") are more numerous in the Court of King's Bench, partly from its exclusive jurisdiction, as a court of criminal law, and also in no small degree from its present constitution, and the consequent influx of general business, by which the public confidence in its adjudications is unequivocally declared.

* Mr. Curran, on one occasion, was trying a case before Lord Avonmore and a stupid Dublin Jury, by whom his best flights of eloquence and wit were wholly unappreciated. Addressing them, with a side glance at the Judge, he stated that Hesiod, a famous Greek historian, had exactly expressed his views, and quoted two lines of Latin! "Why, Mr. Curran," said the Judge, "Hesiod was a poet not an historian, and the lines you quote are not Greek but Latin: they occur in Juvenal." Curran contended that they were Greek, and the dispute grew warm. At last, Curran said, "Well, my lord, I see we must disagree. If it were a matter of law, I should bow to your lordship's opinion, but it is one of fact, and rests with the Jury to decide. Let us send it up as collateral issue to the Jury, and I'll be bound that they will-find it Greek !”—M.

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