« VorigeDoorgaan »
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.
'While I am upon this subject, I can not 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 amid 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.' Mr. Bushe 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 court-lady 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 anything approaching to an offensive personality escapes. No 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 anything 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. 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
*The late Lord Manners.-M.
Sir Jonah Barrington, in the amusing "Personal Sketches of his own Time," dedicates a chapter to the Fire-eaters of Dublin, and gives a list of leading personages (including about a dozen judges) who had fought duels in his time. He says: "The number of killed and wounded among the bar was very considerable. The other learned professions suffered much less."—M.
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 motion-days, 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 details of scenes to which the Irish judges, from long familiarity, listen almost unmoved, as to mere ordinary outrages of course. 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 wo 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 honor" 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 hardihood to face the danger, he is waylaid and
* Illicit whiskey-so called, from being generally distilled on the mountainous tracts. [Sometimes called potheen, as made in a little pot, or Innoshowen, from the locality where the best was produced.-M.]
ORATORY OF THE AFFIDAVIT.
beaten black and blue for his presumption: if he shows the King's writ, it is torn from him, and flung back in fragments in his face. Resistance, remonstrance, and entreaties, 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 honor," he draws up a bulletin of his kicks and bruises in the form of an affidavit, to ground a motion that "another writ do issue;" or, as it might be more correctly worded, "that another process-server do expose himself to as sound a thrashing as the last." This is not an exaggerated picture; and in order to complete it, it should not be omitted that the instigator of the outrage, as soon as he can with safety appear abroad, will, to a certainty, be found among the most clamorous for proclamations and insurrection-acts, to keep down the lawless propensities of his district.*
I have offered a specimen of Irish society, as I could collect it from affidavits daily produced in court; yet, shocking and disgusting as the details are, I confess it is not easy to repress a smile at the style in which those adventurous scenes are described. The affidavits are generally the composition of country attorneys. The maltreated process-server puts the story of his injured feelings and beaten carcase into the hands
* Considerable, ingenuity used to be exercised in the treatment of processservers in Ireland. It was said, as a sort of boast, that "the King's writ would not run in Connaught." This meant that nobody could serve it. To say of any stranger, in that district, that he looked like a process-server, was to condemn him, at the least, to an utter impossibility of obtaining food, fire, and lodging, whether for love or money. If a man were found with a copy of a writ in his pocket, waiting the opportunity to serve it on a popular defendant, he was simply condemned, in the first instance, to make a meal, scrap by scrap, until they were consumed, of the parchment original and the paper copy. If · detected a second time, the common penalty was to have his ears cut off. A third attempt was rarely made, the punishment being to take off the culprit's shirt, hold him on the ground, and draw a thorny furze-bush over his back, to and fro, until it was shockingly lacerated. This agreeable and humane practice, which was called carding, chiefly prevailed in Tipperary. At present, among other changes in Ireland, is the tolerance of legal satellites. Writs now "run" in Connaught and Tipperary, quite as freely as in Devonshire or Dur ham.--M.
of one of these learned penmen; and I must do them the justice to say, that they conscientiously make the most of the task confided to them. They have all a dash of national eloquence about them; the leading qualities of which, metaphor, pathos, sonorous phrase, impassioned delineation, &c., they liberally embody with the technical details of facts, forming a class of oratory quite unknown to the schools"The Oratory of the Affidavit." What British adviser, for instance, of matters to be given in on oath, would venture upon such a poetical statement as the following, which I took down one day in the Irish Court of Common Pleas: "And this deponent farther saith, that on arriving at the house of the said defendant, situate in the county of Galway aforesaid, for the purpose of personally serving him with the said writ, he the said deponent knocked three several times at the outer, commonly called the hall-door, but could not obtain admittance; whereupon this deponent was proceeding to knock a fourth time, when a man, to this deponent unknown, holding in his hands a musket or blunderbuss, loaded with balls or slugs, as this deponent has since heard and verily believes, appeared at one of the upper windows of said house, and, presenting said musket or blunderbuss at this deponent, threatened, that if said deponent did not instantly retire, he would send his, this deponent's, soul to hell;' which this deponent verily believes he would have done-had not this deponent precipitately escaped."
Ir any one, being a stranger in Dublin, should chance, as you return upon a winter's morning from one of the "small and early" parties of that raking metropolis-that is to say, between the hours of five and six o'clock-to pass along the south side of Merrion Square,* you will not fail to observe that among those splendid mansions there is one evidently tenanted. by a person whose habits differ materially from those of his fashionable neighbors. The half-opened parlor-shutter, and the light within, announce that some one dwells there whose time is too precious to permit him to regulate his rising with the sun's. Should your curiosity tempt you to ascend the steps, and, under cover of the dark, to reconnoitre the interior, you will see a tall, able-bodied man standing at a desk, and immersed in solitary occupation. Upon the wall in front of him there hangs a crucifix. From this, and from the calm attitude of the person within, and from a certain monastic rotundity about his neck and shoulders, your first impression will be, that he must be some pious dignitary of the Church of Rome absorbed in his matin devotions.
But this conjecture will be rejected almost as soon as formed. No sooner can the eye take in the other furniture of the apartment-the book-cases clogged with tomes in plain calf-skin binding, the blue-covered octavos that lie about on the tables and the floor, the reams of manuscript in oblong folds and begirt with crimson tape than it becomes evident that the party meditating amid such objects must be thinking far more
One of the principal squares in Dublin, in which Mr. O'Connell resided for about thirty years.-M.