ART. VIII.-Westminster Hall, or Professional Relics and Anecdotes of the Bar, Bench and Woolsack. 3 vols. London.

AMIDST a great deal of dull trash, this compilation (for it is little more) contains a portion of entertaining matter, and suggests hints on some subjects, of no doubtful interest. Authentic morsels of biography, and valuable anecdotes of law and lawyers, put together with judgment, could scarcely fail of being attractive in a country where the only sovereign is the law, and where the high places in the commonwealth are generally occupied by those who have been leaders in the forum; but we cannot bestow very exalted encomiums upon this selection, which is deficient, considered as a whole, both in interest and novelty. We have often wondered that, in this book-making age, it should never have occurred to some one qualified for such an undertaking, to write a work for the benefit of law students, containing sketches of the most celebrated professional characters, exhibiting their course of study, and the means by which they attained to distinction; their extraordinary attainments, and their generally honourable conduct in public and in private life; with the decided influence so frequently exercised by them over the character of their age and their country. The materials are abundant, but widely scattered among a variety of works in different languages. Though Great Britain has furnished her full proportion, other countries, with equal justice, boast of their legal sages. Even these States, young as they are, have maintained an honourable competition with the old world in the production of learned judges as well as eloquent advocates; and, perhaps, if a fair estimate were made of those now living in England, France and America, it would be found that the courts of the two first are not, generally, more richly furnished than those of the last. Let it be remembered, that there are, perhaps, from six to seven thousand persons in these States, daily and hourly studying and practising law, either as attornies, advocates or judges, whilst in Great Britain they do not probably exceed one third of that number, and the assertion will not appear extravagant. Thus for every legal genius that arises there, we have an equal chance for two or three; for the old notion of the deterioration of human nature by transplantation to America is, we flatter ourselves, now exploded; and it cannot be denied that our free institutions are highly favourable to intellectual improvement. If, notwithstanding, it be asserted that we do not rank with the

eminent jurists of the old world, and that facts are stubborn things, we would ask in what respects Marshall, Parsons, Kent, and others who might be named, fall short of Mansfield, Butler and Eldon; and if the latter had been destined to preside in our courts, whether they would have excelled the former in the discharge of their duties? For ourselves we cannot believe they would. There is a striking difference between the education and life of an American and English lawyer, which would, perhaps, disqualify the latter from maintaining in our courts a successful contest with the former. In England, the complexity of the system, its antiquated, mysterious and perplexing rules, with their endless exceptions; its forced constructions and almost invisible distinctions have a tendency to improve the lawyer at the expense of the man; whilst in this country, other and more exalting circumstances improve the man, though, perhaps, somewhat at the expense of the mere technical practitioner. As soon as the American lawyer attains to high reputation, he is enticed into public life, when the contentions of politics, and the interests of states become the objects of his attention, to the enlargement of his intellectual powers. Instead of sinking down into the little lawyer whose ideas are imprisoned within the bounds of a single branch of jurisprudence, and whose contracted intellects can, after a while, comprehend nothing that is not embraced in his digests, he looks abroad; he perceives something which he regards as better than mere technical learning, and resolves to attain it; he soars aloft; and though he may fall short of his high aim, he seldom fails to reach an elevation far beyond the fondest aspirations of any professional drudge in Westminster Hall. He, who in Great Britain devotes himself to the profession, becomes acute, subtle and learned in that department of the science which he may have selected, whilst in every thing else he is, with few exceptions, decidedly ignorant: here, on the contrary, he becomes a man of business, an acute debater, a respectable legislator, as well as a general lawyer, by which we mean a constitutional lawyer, solicitor in equity, and proctor. In England they complain that the law is a jealous mistress, depriving of her favours all who remit their attentions or who address them even incidentally to other objects. Polite letters are proscribed, poetry is a meteor whose pernicious influence would blast their prospects for ever, and even history is to be shunned as warring against jurisprudence.

"The science of the law (say these volumes) as it at present exists, demands the painful industry of a long and laborious life. No one who has not attempted to master it, can conceive the insurmountable difticulties which continually present themselves to the most diligent mind,

making new claims upon its patience, its resolution, and its energy. It is impossible that even the most assiduous person should arrive at that point of knowledge which would justify him in laying aside his books, and resting satisfied in the conviction that he is master of the science. This impression naturally deters the lawyer from the prosecution of other pursuits. He is aware that in turning the powers of his mind to foreign employments, his professional attainments will but too probably suffer. At all events, he is certain that they will suffer in the estimation of others. Perhaps no instance can be pointed out in which a devotion to occupations not within the pale of the profession, has not been more or less injurious to the reputation of the person indulging in it. It is true that men of high genius may have surmounted the obstacles which this circumstance has thrown in their way, but they have nevertheless experienced its effects. Even the splendid intellect of Bacon, employed upon subjects alien to his profession, subjected him to censure as a lawyer. The several books,' says Osborn in his advice to his son, 'incomparable Bacon was known to read, besides those relating to the law, were objected to him, as an argument of his insufficiency to manage the place of Solicitor-General, and may lie as a rub in all their ways, who, out of a vain glory to manifest a general knowledge, neglect this caution.""

This prejudice against literary lawyers may exist in England, and, perhaps, it is not altogether without some foundation in truth; for they have so many intricate subjects of legal study, involving arbitrary rules and legal fictions, with which we in America have nothing to do, that a whole life may be fully employed in refreshing the memory after the science has been conquered. The doctrines relative to the poor and their settlements, and to bankruptcy, filling many volumes-the learning upon courts ecclesiastical, palatine, county and baron; of the forest, the marshalsea and the palace;-that upon outlawry, premunires, ancient demesne, appeals of death, assize, deodands, simony, common, copyholds, royal franchises, customs of London, excommunication, fines and recoveries, tythes, common recoveries, formedons, gavelkind, heresy and offences against religion, priests, prerogative, information, privilege, stamp, sequestration, wager of law and of battle, with fifty others which might be enumerated, are only regarded here as matters of curiosity, or at most as furnishing occasional illustrations in forensic discussion. No lawyer is obliged to have more than a general idea of them; he need not master them as a study, and his memory is thus relieved from more than a camel-load of Jumber, which in England presses heavily on the intellects of the bar, and not seldom disgusts some of its most gifted votaries. The late Mr. Canning, in his poem on Friendship, bears feeling testimony to the truth of this remark.

"Oft when condemned midst Gothic tomes to pore,
And dubious, con th' embarrassed sentence o'er,
While meteor-meaning sheds a sickly ray
Through the thick gloom, then vanishes away;
With the dull toil tired out, th' indignant mind
Bursts from the yoke, and wanders unconfined."

But the branches of the law which we have retained, have been wonderfully simplified by the practical genius of this country. Being all in turn legislators, our faculties are continually exercised in the abolition of senseless or antiquated rules, and in the substitution of such as we deem more rational. Our laws are to operate immediately upon ourselves and our children in society, and, therefore, we try to make them as good and as plain as we can. Mr. Brougham is now struggling, as Bacon, Hale, Coke, Hargrave, Barrington and others did before him, to reduce the English system to simplicity in several particulars. What he so well recommends, we actually accomplished, together with a great deal more, almost a century ago; and if his enlightened views are even now, as we think, in advance of the legal mind in England, which still seems blinded with prejudice in favour of ancient errors and absurdities, with what admiration should we regard our ancestors who so long ago effected for us these wise changes?

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Let it not be supposed from what has been said, that we think the science, as it exists with us, is of easy attainment. This is a fatal but too general opinion, and should be corrected. We have, it is true, weeded it of much ancient and useless learning, but it has necessarily extended itself to other subjects of deeper importance, which are scarcely ever heard of among European lawyers. The great doctrines of the rights of man in a state of self-government, which have been brought to practical perfection here; the principles of international and constitutional law; and the adaptation of the laws to the genius of a republican people, are all subjects of profound and hourly interest in these States. They must be carefully studied, and the mind should be so trained in the early and continued application of legal principles, as to create, what may be called, a legal understanding or apprehension-that intuitive accuracy of judgment which is the peculiar property of the wellgrounded American lawyer. So far from its being forbidden to our students to turn their attention to polite literature, it is expressly enjoined by our most distinguished jurists. Judge Hopkinson, in a very good address, delivered about two years since before the Law Academy of Philadelphia, strongly urges it. He says " But I cannot forbear to recommend what I fear

is not sufficiently estimated as a preparatory study of a lawyer: I mean elegant literature; that which is of the first order, and formed by the soundest principles of taste. Without speaking at present of the ancient models of history, poetry and eloquence, I would call your attention to the distinguished classics and scholars of our own language. In addition to Shakspeare, Milton and Dryden, an English library will furnish plentiful and rich materials to strengthen and adorn the mind. The days of Elizabeth and Anne abound with writers of the first eminence for force and skill of argument, for neatness and precision of narration, and for all the refinement of genius and taste. The English forum has its orators, as worthy of imitation as the Roman. All these belong to the accomplished lawyer. The grasp of his profession is universal." And here we cannot omit the occasion to say, that an evil exists in this State which is highly unfavourable to the training of good lawyers and even good men, and which cannot be too speedily corrected. Admission to the bar is far too easy. Any citizen of twenty-one years of age, who can undergo an examination, which the act calls rigid, but which is, and we fear necessarily must be the very reverse-is entitled to admission. A young man of quick apprehension, who has read Blackstone's Commentaries, and glanced at our Acts of Assembly, may be licensed to practise in our highest courts; and many trade upon this slender stock of knowledge; for after admission, it is too much to expect hard study, unless there is business to require it—with the distractions of which, on the other hand, anything like profound elementary study is almost altogether incompatible. The tendency of this absurd system is the destruction of our youth in a professional, and often in a moral point of view. Ignorance can attract no clients-its inseparable companions are idleness and low indulgences. It is true, if a half-educated lawyer has a small independence and some mother-wit, he may win popularity enough to attain a seat in the Legislature, when by cunning, so congenial to the nature of little minds, he may raise himself even to the bench; but the wretched figure he then makes, and the injuries he daily commits, soon render him an object of ridicule or abhorrence. The only cure for this evil, is a long legal noviciate. Four years study at least should be required by law, for in less time it is impossible for an ordinary youth to have his mind sufficiently imbued with the science, to convince him of the necessity of future study, if he desire to be eminent. Members of the legislature, in whose power alone it is to apply the necessary correction, should reflect on these things. They should remember that an ignorant bar necessarily creates

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