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It is accordingly in this court that Mr. Wallace, in his ordinary every-day manner, as an advocate, may be heard to most advantage. His skill in dissecting a knavish affidavit is admirable, and renders him the terror of all knavish deponents upon whom he may have to operate. The exhibition is often amusing enough to a disinterested spectator. The party whose conscience is to undergo the ordeal of a public scrutiny, may be seen seated by his attorney; his countenance at first glowing with a defensive smirk of self-complacent defiance, but manifesting, as the investigation into his candor and veracity proceeds, the most marvellous varieties of hue and expression. An inconsistency or two are pointed out, and his smile of anticipated triumph gradually degenerates into a sub-acid sneer. A fraudulent suppression is next put up, and then he begins to look at his attorney; and, finding no refuge there, to look very grave. The counsel proceeds, inexorably accurate in his detections, and caustic in his comments. Our worthy deponent begins now to tremble for his reputation, and not without reason; for down come upon it a succession of mortal blows, every one of which the listening crowd, who desire no better sport, pronounce, by a malignant buzz, to have been “a palpable hit." This quickly brings on the final stage. Our hero, "according to the very best of his knowledge, information, and belief," is mortified and wrathful in the extreme. He starts and frowns and shifts his posture, and compresses his lips, and clenches his fists: he would give worlds (so at least says his eye; and I would believe it as soon as his affidavit) to have just one blow at the head of his merciless torturer, or to tell him in open court that he is a calumniator and an assassin. He is on the point of committing some extravagance, when his attorney throws in a word or two of cool advice, to prevent his rage from boiling over, and the paroxysm gradually works itself to rest in silent vows of indefinite vengeance, or in sotto-voce murmurings of impotent vituperation.
In such cases as the preceding, the severity of Mr. Wallace's animadversions is forgotten with the occasion; but when, in the discharge of his duty, he has been impelled to be equally unceremonious in his comments upon litigants of a higher
LICENSE OF THE BAR.
order, murmurs have arisen, and questions been started as to what are or ought to be the privileges of a barrister, in arraigning the conduct and motives of the parties to whom he is opposed. The irritated suitor of course exclaims against a license under which he has smarted, as an intolerable grievance, and in general finds many sufficiently disposed to join in his indignation; but no disinterested person, acquainted with human nature as developed in the course of our legal proceedings, and considering alone the ends of justice, can easily bring himself to desire that the privileges complained of should be in any way abridged. The law makes a counsel personally responsible for any injurious observations upon the characters of individuals not warranted by his instructions; and that those limits are seldom exceeded may be collected from the fact, that actions for slander of this description are unheard-of in practice. But if his instructions are manifestly libellous, is he not under a paramount moral obligation to suppress the obnoxious matter? or is every just and honorable feeling of the gentleman to be merged in the conventional character of the barrister? The answer is: - A counsel can not tell whether his instructions be true or false; and though they should lean heavily upon an individual of previously unblemished reputation, he is not on that account to take it for granted that they are calumnious.
It is a matter of daily experience, that litigation makes strange discoveries in the characters of men. Persons of unsuspected integrity no sooner become plaintiffs or defendants. in a cause, than, blinded by self-interest, or inflamed with the silly desire of obtaining a victory, they are found resorting to every knavish artifice to establish an unjust or resist an equitable demand. How, then, in any given case alleged to be of this description, can the counsel assure himself beforehand that the result will falsify his instructions? Is he, in defiance of them, to be incredulous and forbearing; and from his conjectural doubts and misgivings, to put forward a statement so tame and wary as to deprive his client of the benefit of that honest indignation in the court or jury, which the real facts of the case might justify?
The present Chief-Justice Best* once said, in conversation, of a barrister: "That man is unfit to conduct a case at the Quarter Sessions: he believes what his client tells him." There is equal truth in the converse of the proposition. A barrister, who should make it a rule to act upon the disbelief of what his client tells him, would prove equally incompetent. But still, it is constantly urged, the privilege thus contended for produces much unwarrantable vituperation. To this it may be replied, that custom has given to language a peculiar, qualified forensic sense, just as it has a Parliamentary one; and that, thus understood, the invectives of counsel are purely hypothetical, and go for nothing, unless corroborated in proof and sanctioned by a verdict. If cleverly thrown off, they may for the moment gratify the bystanders, or ruffle the temper of the party against whom they are directed-but they leave no stain upon his reputation, if twelve men upon their oaths pronounce him to be an honest man. The " daggers" that a counsel "talks," are merely weapons handed up to the jurybox: if any of them draw blood, the jury must strike the blow. And it may be further observed, that this latitude of speech is indirectly of no small service to the ends of justice, by the terrors it holds out to persons who would have no compunction in speculating upon the chances of fraudulent litigation, but are sufficiently worldly and sensitive to shrink from a public and unrestrained exposure of their iniquity.
In judging of an Irish barrister's capacity for the higher orders of forensic eloquence, it is but just to remember, that in that country great occasions are extremely rare; and hence,
* William Draper Best was educated at Oxford, called to the bar in 1789, rose into good practice, became Sergeant-at-Law in 1800, and soon after was made Chief-Justice of Wales and Solicitor-General. In 1802, he entered Parliament, where he voted on the liberal side. In 1819, he was knighted and placed on the bench as one of the Justices of the King's Bench, and in 1824, was made Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas, which he resigned in 1825, when he was called to the House of Lords. He was a good advocate, a skilful lawyer, an indifferent legislator, an inconsistent politician, and occasionally so partial on his summing-up as to be called the "Judge-Advocate." He was very irritable while on the bench, owing to bodily disease.-M.
DUBLIN THEATRE RIOT.
279 no doubt, a habit that prevails there of speculating upon the effects that particular individuals would produce, were they only supplied with opportunities commensurate with their powers. It was thus when the Queen's case was raging, that the national pride of the Irish bar broke out in vain regrets that one of their Crown officers, a man of surpassing qualifications for the conduct of such a cause, should not have been afforded such an opportunity of rising to the highest summit of what I may call the conjectural fame that he enjoyed in his profession. They pictured to themselves Charles Kendal Bushe, appearing at the bar of the House of Peers, as the presiding counsel for the Crown upon the trial of that imperial issue, and uniting to every solid requisite for the discharge of such a duty, a collection of peculiar attributes, that seemed as if expressly designed for swaying the decision of such a tribunal on such an occasion. They saw him there with his matured professional skill and chastened eloquence his fine imposing presence-his rich, sonorous voice his masterly powers of countenance, whether he spoke or listened -his profound, unremitting by-play, now refuting by an indignant start, now enforcing by a moral shudder—his elevated courage, and natural grace of gesture, tone, sentiment, and diction, in not one of which the most finished courtier of them all could have detected a provincialism. Considering all these, and the subject, and the auditory, the admirers of this eminent and accomplished person completed (and perhaps not unjustifiably). the ideal picture, by representing to themselves as the final issue, the torrent of popular indignation successfully stemmed, and the imperial diadem wrested from the brow of the royal defendant.
A similar feeling prevailed among many with respect to Mr. Wallace, upon the occasion of the only political case of any moment that has in latter years occurred in Ireland-the trial of the rioters at the Dublin theatre. It was one of the singularities of that case, that the popular feeling was all on the side of the prosecution, and that, with the exception of the Attorney-General [Plunket], none of the counsel for the Crown were animated by a warmer sentiment than a determi
nation to perform an unwelcome duty. That duty the SolicitorGeneral [Joy], who spoke to the evidence, performed with legal ability and unquestioned integrity. No one could accuse him of the insidious suppression of any doctrine or argument that bore upon the case; but it was impossible for him to be eloquent. All his passions and prejudices were against his cause, and he had not the flexibility of temper to assume a tone of indignant energy of which he was unconscious. It is, therefore, easy to account for the general wish that such a man as Mr. Wallace had supplied his place. He would not have allowed himself to have been entrammelled by any personal or official restraints, but, giving the fullest scope to all his powers, and superadding his authoritative denunciations as an individual to his invectives as an advocate, would have the jury feel (and this was what was wanted) that they were themselves upon their trial, and must be held by the public to be accomplices in the factious proceeding against which they should hesitate to pronounce a verdict of conviction.
The personal determination of character and practical efficiency of talent for which Mr. Wallace is so distinguished, have been confined almost exclusively to his professional exertions; but the mention of those qualities brings to my recollection one rather memorable occasion upon which they were called into action, and with a suddenness of result that can not be duly appreciated by any who were not actual witnesses of the scene. In the beginning of the year 1819, the friends of the Catholic cause, considering that the time had arrived when the sense of the Protestant inhabitants of the Irish metropolis might be safely taken upon their question, determined, after much anxious deliberation, that a public meeting of that portion of the community should be convened for the purpose of recording their sentiments in the form of a petition to Parliament for Emancipation. Though pretty confident of success, they foresaw that the Orange faction would rise en masse, to interpose every kind of obstruction to so new and obnoxious an experiment. To prevent this, or, at the worst, to be prepared for it, preliminary measures were taken for giving the proposed assemblage every possible degree of