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law. The privilege can of course be only purchased by the rich, and thus, by a perversion of all equity, the food which nature must have meant in preference for the poor and hungry, is monopolised by those who are already satiated with the fat of the earth. If there be any common sense or natural right in the law, why is it limited to particuJar birds and beasts? why not extended to rats and mice, and sparrows and tomtits ? or why, indeed, not pushed out to sea, and rigorously exercised upon sprats and mackerel, oysters and herrings : Quite ridiculous ! you exclaim. Not at all. King John did in fact lay a total interdict upon all the winged, as well as the fourfooted creatures, to which we may perhaps owe Magna Charta, quite as much as to the patriotism of the barons ; and had the monarch been as fond of fishing as of hunting, he would probably have included the tenants of the deep in bis claim. His arbitrary enactment has been modified; but, if unjust in part, surely it is unjust in the whole, for how can you decide which of the wild birds and beasts were made by God Almighty for the gentlemen, and which for the rabble ?
“Really, my worthy neighbours, it does not seem very creditable to your resources that you cannot kill time in the country, unless you have some innocent fowl or animal to kill with it, an excuse much more natural in the mouth of an ignorant savage, who has, moreover, the plea of actually shooting for his dinner, than from the lips of well-fed and well-educated men in civilized life, many of whom are magistrates and legislators. It may be true, that by your residence upon your estates, you enable a few tradespeople to live ; but it is equally true that by your traps and spring-guns, as well as by your enforcement of these sanguinary laws, you occasion a good many fellow-creatures to die, so that, upon the whole, humanity may be no great gainer by your presence. For my part, I consider these statutes to be not less inefficacious than inhuman, for heavy penalties only raise the value of the commodity, and high prices will beget poachers, just as high duties beget smugglers. I cannot alter them, but I can evade their mischief and annoyance by having nothing subject to their exercise ; and thus, gentlemen, you have my reasons for routing out all the game upon my estate. I was reading i'other day of some beast, (wasn't it the Musk animal ?) that bites off the bag in which its perfume is contained, when hard pressed by the hunters, and is thus suffered to escape. I have made a somewhat similar compromise with the poachers, and am happy to inform you that I am no longer worried and tormented. You continue to enforce unjust and useless laws, and must not wonder if you are pretty often called upon to exchange your peace of mind for a partridge. You don't know my nephew Vincent, a monstrous clever young man, who is now at Cambridge. He sent me last week a copy of verses upon this very subject and though some of his unmannerly terms are quite inapplicable to my present auditors, they are so germane to the matter that I hope you will excuse my reading them to you. This is what the saucy fellow writes.
Philanthropists may preach in vain,
Jurists may scold and wrangle,
Agrarian boobies ! who admit
That for a short lived season
Or exercise of reason;
Large-acred fools ! ye may be right,
(Those coalesced encroachers)
With sacrifice of poachers.
Pass laws that Draco would disown,
Shoot, banish, trap the peasant;
A Christian with a pheasant.
But hope not vainly to unite
With sanguinary rigour;
Ye Tyrants of the trigger !
Thus I concluded my speech, the longest I had ever made, except when I was once Chairman of the Fishmongers' Company, and I am happy to see that it had the effect of freeing me from the intrusions of the game-preservers, as effectually as my previous measures had enabled me to get rid of the game, so that, by the blessing of Heaven, I now possess my house and grounds in peace, un visited by either squires or poachers.
The sporting season, or, in other words, the period of the rural civil war, is now approaching ; and as it is not impossible that other civic squires may have made the same sort of country investment as myself, and be equally exposed to the strife, torment, and bloodshed of the Game Laws, I have thought it right to send a statement of my case to the New Monthly Magazine, that they may know how to escape from their miseries, and, by imitating my example, be made partakers of my present enviable tranquillity.
Sly Paul buys verse as he buys merchandise,
Then for his own he 'll pompously recite it
By law his own although he could not write it!
The feeble growth or total absence of eloquence, before Lord Erskine, is a standing contumely against the English Bar. But however commonplace the reproach, there is something curiously anomalous in the fact. Civil liberty is not alone the noblest object, but the true source of legitimate eloquence. Yet France, with her absolute moDarchy and corresponding institutions, produced respectable is not accomplished models of oratory in her courts, when England, with a free constitution and the most popular of tribunals, had not one advocate penetrated with the sacredness, or conscious of the dignity of his calling.
This penury at the Bar contrasts still more curiously with the redundant eloquence of English poetry and prose. Hume has suggested as a cause, that the study of our law requires the drudgery of a whole life ; that its genius is intolerant, if not incapable, of eloquence. But French jurisprudence, somewhat less technical, was quite as laborious -embracing the learning of text-books and commentators, criminalists and civilians, to a vast extent. The example of France, therefore, refuted Hume's suggestion, even when he wrote. That of Lord Erskine, with some exceptions still nearer, deprives it of all colour at the present day. Successful practice at the Bar is compatible, perhaps even congenial, not with eloquence alone, but with liberal attainments and the highest range of knowledge, in public business, literature and science. This position, half a century ago, would scarce have been admitted to the dignity of paradox, or the honours of refutation. There is now no truth more conspicuously proved by living example.
But whence the singular phenomenon of a long and seemingly hopeless barrenness of oratory in our courts ? Probably no single cause produced or can account for it. One seems to be that the sphere of oratory at the English Bar was greatly, and is still considerably, circumscribed. Up to the 7th William III. the law disallowed full defence by counsel, at least the judges did, in felony and treason; and it continues to be withheld in felonies even now. No such restriction ever existed in France. There the advocate escorted the accused through every stage and every step of the trial, upon the facts and circumstances as well as the law of the case. But the chief and blighting influence in England appears to have been the tyranny and insolence with which the judges and crown-lawyers abused justice and enslaved the Bar, on the one side-the corrupt and quailing spirit of the Bar itself, on the other.
The name of Lord Bacon is justly held the pride and glory of his country; but it were well for his country and his fame that he had never been chancellor, law-officer, or lawyer; this, without reference to the trite subject matter of his impeachment and disgrace. The sagacious spirit, rich imagination, and nervous style of Bacon, must be sought elsewhere than in his pleadings and judgments; or, if any traits be discerned, they are subordinate and rare. The disastrous servility and sordid ambition of this great man are truly mournful. He not only prostituted his conscience, but sacrificed his taste, in pure sycophancy to the pedant king. His reasoning power, in the philosopher supreme, degenerates with the lawyer to curious sophistry-his wit and learning to quaint pedantry and puerile allusion-his court panegyrics to flatteries and conceits. Witness the arguments in support of imposts by prerogative, against the privileges of habeas corpus and bail; his speeches in the Star-chamber against law, liberty, and reason; and his various personal addresses and allusions to the sovereign. Presenting a petition of grievances, unwillingly, as organ of the House of Commons, to the Harlequin-Solomon on the throne, he says, “ Only this, excellent sovereign, let not the sound of grievances, though it be sad, seem harsh to your princely ear. It is but gemitus columbæ-the mourning of a dove, &c." One of the pleadings least unworthy of him is his charge in the Star-chamber on the duelling case. But even bere, though untrammelled by politics, he volunteers a servile homage to the insolence of aristocracy and power. The offenders, it should be observed, were not of the higher orders. “It is not,” says he, “amiss sometimes in government, that the greater sort be admonished by an example made in the meaner, and that the dog be beaten before the lion.” The sycophant lawyer, who thus violated British justice and vilified human nature, could never touch the eloquence of the Barwhich is essentially the eloquence of justice, humanity, and freedom. It would have even been a state-crime in the eyes of Lord Bacon. He denounced a barrister (Whitlocke) in the Star chamber, for the offence of presuming to give his opinion as counsel on a question of prerogative. But at last the most auspicious occurrence of his life—his disgrace, disenchanted and released him; and now, abandoning courts and kings and politics, for solitude, philosophy, and science, his genius assuming its proper stature and natural movements, produced those writings which have not merely immortalized his name, but redeemed or cast into shade the vices of his life and character.
Sir Edward Coke's is another name repeated by lawyers with something of idolatry. It is almost an impertinent truism to say, that he was profoundly learned in the law-ihat he even possessed stamina and acquirements which might have made an orator-a sagacity acute and clear, if slightly fantastical-valuable and varied reading-a minute acquaintance with the remains and models of antiquity. But these endowments were lost upon the groveling lawyer and servile politician. It is true, indeed, that as he had deeply imbibed, so he strenuously defended the principles of the ancient common law of tenures. But again, his conscience here was not tried very severely ; and he seems governed not so much by a sense of regal right and enlightened justice, as by the crazy zeal of an antiquary for a favourite pursuit. In his capacity of a criminal and constitutional lawyer, he appears alike recreant to law and freedom. The Star-chamber jurisdiction was vindicated and praised by him. He justified the legality of benevolences, after having previously declared against them. He gave a shufiling approbation of imposts by the crown, and held that persons committed by warrant of the privy council, for secrets of state (arcana imperii) were not entitled to habeas corpus and bail. . He read, it is true, a pitiable recantation of this last opinion in parliament, at a subsequent period, and in a succeeding reign, being now converted into a patriot by his disgrace at court! Defending himself with one of bis habitual conceits, that “his decision was not yet twenty-one years old, but under age," and the still more revolting judicial reason, that many traitors were confined per mandatum concilii at the time," he adds, with something between effrontery and naiveté, “ I confess when I read Stamford and had it in my hands, I was of that opinion, at the council table ; but when I perceived that some members of this house were taken away even in the face of this house, and sent to prison, and when I was not afar off from that place myself, I went back to my book, and would not quit till I had satisfied myself.” No one at all versed in English history, is uninformed of his behaviour to Raleigh and Essex on their trials. After outraging the most accomplished scholar, the most gallant gentleman, and perhaps the truest patriot of his age with the rhetoric of such expressions, as “ vile,” “ execrable," “odious," " viper," "traitor," -and this, iniquitously breaking in upon the just defence of a man speaking for his life and honour; he says, " the king's safety and thy clearing cannot agree-go to, I will lay thee on thy back for the arrantest traitor,” &c. At length one even of those unprincipled commissioners who condemned Raleigli, had the grace to blush at the scandalous ruffianism of the crown counsel. “Be not," said Lord Cecil," so impatient, Mr. Attorney-give him leave to speak." _“ How !” exclaims Mr. Attorney, "if I be not patiently heard, you encourage traitors, and discourage es. I am the king's sworn servant, and must speak." The following note next follows in the report of the trial.-“ Mr. Attorney now sat down in a chafe, and would not speak until the commissioners urged and entreated him. After much ado he went on and made a large repetition, &c. and at the repeating of some things, Sir Walter interrupted him, saying, he did him wrong.'” “Thou art,” rejoins Mr. Attorney, “ the most vile and execrable traitor that ever lived.”—“ You speak,” says Raleigh,“ bar. barously, indiscreetly, and uncivilly.” The demeanour of the illustrious prisoner throughout this singular contest presents a noble opposition of calm dignity, high breeding, and superior reason. The petulance of the court minion “sitting down in a chafe” is a finishing trait of character. Eloquence, according to Longinus, is denied the political slave. The maxim applies equally to the political minion. He may be, like Sir Edward Coke, a pedant, a sophist,—at most, a rhetorician. It is denied bim to be an orator. The foregoing are revolting proofs of his servility and insolence. The following still more curious morceau from bis elaborate speech in the gunpowder treason case, may be taken as an example of his quaintnesses, conceits, and pedantries on the most solemn occasions—with the additional sin of buffoonery.
“ S. P. Q. R. was sometimes taken for these words, Senatus Populusque Romanus; the senate and people of Rome :' but how they may truly be expressed thus,-Stultus populus quærit Romam-'a foolish people that runneth to Rome.' (Next comes the following apologue.) "The cat having a long time preyed upon the mice, the poor creatures at last, for their safety, contained themselves within their holes ; but the cat finding his prey to cease, as being known to the inice, that he was indeed their enemy and a cat, deviseth this course following, viz changeth his hue, getteth on a religious habit, shaveth his crown, walks gravely by their holes. And yet perceiving that the mice kept their holes, and looking out, suspected the worst, he formally, and father-like, said unto them, Quod fueram non sum, frater : caput aspice lonsum! 'Oh, brother, I am not as you take me for, no more a cat ; see my habit and shaven crown!' Hereupon some of the more credulous and bold among them were again by this deceit snatched up: and, therefore, when afterwards he came as before to entice them forth, they would come out po more, VOL. X. No. 56.-1825.