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but answered Cor tibi restat idem, vix tibi presto fidem. 'Talk what you can, we will never believe you; you have still a cat's heart within you. You do not watch and pray, but you watch to prey.' And so have the Jesuits, yea, and priests too, for they are all joined in the tails, like Sampson's foxes, Ephraim against Ma. nasses, and Manasses against Ephraim, but both against Judah."
Much would be expected from the new impulses and improved English style which marked the reign of Charles I. But not a man appeared at the bar to burst its fetters or so much as clank its chains, even during those stirring moments when the vindication of principles and the shock of parties unmannacled the genius of the nation and of liberty. Lord Clarendon (then Mr. Hyde) has left a striking sketch of what the ministers of English law were at this period. “It is,” he says, “no marvel that an irregular, extravagant, arbitrary power, like a torrent hath broke in upon us, when our banks and our bulwarks, the laws, are in the custody of persons who have rendered that study and profession, which in all ages had been of an honourable estimation, so contemptible and vile, that it would tempt men to that quarrel with the law itself, which Marcius had to the Greek tongue, who thought it a inockery to learn that language, the masters of which lived in bondage." The ship-money case, a spectacle of animating and sublime excitement, failed to exalt the counsel to the level of the subject. As dry technical law arguments, their speeches prove ability and research-no more. Mr. Halborne, one of the counsel for Hampden, after “ hoping his Majesty will excuse them" for arguing the case at all, throws out a timid, tampering allusion to the bearings of the case as a matter of state and government. “If," he says, “any matter or consideration of state come in my way, I will tread as lightly as I can.
I shall be very wary and tender.” But the Chief Justice (Finch) soon rebukes him by saying, “ It belongs not to the Bar to talk of government.” Even the ambitious daring spirit of St. John, also counsel against the crown, reposed in a disquisition purely technical and legal. This may be explained upon either of two suppositions—that the more active and independent of the Bar disdained it as a theatre for their ambition; or they despaired of a struggle on such unequal terms with profligate and all-powerful judges. The House of Commons was, in truth, the only arena, where that first and dearest liberty—the liberty of speech, wrestled for existence. It was there the champions of power and liberty, of monarchy and the people, the ambitious and the faithful, the patriot, the zealot, the courtier, the demagogue, respectively arrayed themselves. There was displayed the sage yet inspiring eloquence of Pym, who felt from his advanced years, only the precious advantage of grave authority and maturer counsel, together with that rare and still more precious disregard of death and danger—the essential spring of all great enterprise - which a spirit above the common order derives from the reflection, that he stakes but a few sad years of remaining infirmity and age, against his country's freedom and his own glory. There shone forth the noble ambition and gallant patriotism of Hampdenthe dark, ardent, subtle, daring and dangerous spirit of St. Johnthe generous faith and honest hatred of Holles—the artful, sagacious,
yet enthusiast genius of the younger Vane—and, it should not be omitted, the respectable virtue of Clarendon, and the classic patriotism of Falkland.
During the Commonwealth the Bar continued barren and degraded as before. The Judges, indeed, used their absolute authority with some appearance of decorun, and sometimes an eloqnent appeal to the obvious sense of the laws—the rights of Englishmen-the sacredness of justice—the common feelings of humanity, rang in the courts, to the very hearts of the people. But it is the accused, not the counsel, who is inspired to a passing movement of eloquence. Colonel Lilburne, a remarkable person of that period, addresses the jury on his trial in the following bold, eloquent, and affecting strain :
“ And therefore, as a freeborn Englishman, and as a true Christian that now stands in the sight and presence of God, with an upright heart and conscience, and with a cheerful countenance, I cast my life, and the lives of all the honest freemen of England, into the hand of God, and his gracicus protection, and into the care and conscience of my honest jury, who, I again declare, by the law of England, are the conservators and sole judges of my life, having inherent in them alone the judicial power of the law, as well as fact: you judges that sit there, being no inore, if you please, but cyphers to pronounce the sentence, or their clerks to say amen to them; being at the best, in your original, but the Norman Conqueror's intruders. And therefore, you, gentlemen of the jury, are my sole judges, and keepers of my life, at whose bands the Lord will require my blood. Therefore I desire you to know your power, and consider your duty both to God, to me, to your own selves, and to your country. And the gracious assisting spirit and presence of the Lord God Omnipotent, the Governor of Heaven and Earth, and all things therein contained, go along with you, give counsel and direct you, to that which is just, and for his glory!”
The following note is subjoined to this passage in the record of the trial :
“ The people with a loud voice now cried amen, amen, and gave an extraordinary great hum ; which made the judges look something untowardly about them, and caused Major-general Skippon to send for three more fresh companies of foot-soldiers.”
After the Restoration, too, when the Bar, more oppressed by the judges, became still more barren of virtue, eloquence, and reputation, the regicides, so called, and others upon whom the reaction fell, defended themselves in person, with an eloquence of peculiar and striking character—fervid, redundant, figurative, and sincere ; but so tinged with sectarian bigotry and fanatical inspiration-so over charged with huge metaphor and Scriptural allusion, as to be alike alien to the business of the world and the principles of taste. Vane defended himself with capacity as well as enthusiasm-vindicating triumphantly his innocence of the particular treasons, but glorying in a cause, the sanctity of which he was prepared to seal with his blood.* The trials of Russell and Sidney are memorable as atrocious mockeries of justice and the law. In a word, Jeffries was the judge. Lord Russell, according to
The verdict and the sentence against Vane were notoriously illegal; and Charles promised to interpose his prerogative of mercy. But, as if for the sake of sharing the infamy of the court and jury, he violated his royal word. There is another party, in retrospect, to this base transaction :-it is Hume, who has disingenuously slurred it over in his History.
Hume, made a weak defence. The fairer presumption is, that he saw defence was unavailing ; and this seeming weakness was a resigned and virtuous tranquillity ;-perhaps he also yielded something to his amiable nature, unwilling to compromise his family and friends by using a tone of more frank and undaunted freedom. Sidney, a republican and sage, whose talents were more exercised, and who aspired more at the setting splendour of a nobile lethum, defended himself with greater expertness and éclat. But neither affected eloquence; and the Bar, whilst these two illustrious patriots were judicially murdered by infamous juries and a tyrant judge, remained silent as the grave. The trials of Hampden (the grandson), prosecuted, or persecuted, for a misdemeanor, when the charge of treason broke down--of Sir Samuel Barnardiston, tried for a similar offence, in gross violation of private correspondence between friends—both admitting full defence by counsel, yet exhibit no traces of eloquence. In the next short reign, disastrous to the sovereign, but auspicious to the pation, one occasion occurred which should have waked the eloquence of earth and heaven -the trial of the Seven Bishops. But even in these proceedings, long and laboured as they are, the accused, invested with ail that is most inspiring in personal innocence, devoted patriotism, spiritual veneration, and political liberty—the public heart beating for their destiny, and bowing homage at their feet--the first talents of the Bar-Lord (then Mr.) Somers, the finest talent of the country, engaged in the defence with all this, the pleadings never rise beyond plain reasoning and mere legal research.
In fine, so paralyzed was the Bar, that it continued impervious and unaffected by the electric virtue of the Revolution. Even when the 8th William III. provided the aid of counsel to address the jury in treason, the advocate seemed unconscious of the removal of his bonds, and the enlargement of his sphere of liberty. The first case under the statute was that of Rookwood. Sir Benjamin Shower, his leading counsel, and a person of the first eminence at the Bar, scarcely availed himself of his privilege. Like a manumitted slave, he dared not yet persuade himself that he was free. He seems afraid of volunteering even an objection of law. “My Lord,” he says, we are assigned as counsel in pursuance of an act of parliament, and we hope that nothing which we shall
say in defence of our client will be imputed to ourselves. If,” he continues, “we refused to appear, we thought it would be a proclamation to the world that we distrusted your candour towards us in our future practice on other occasions.” It should not be passed over that the Chief Justice--and it was Holt-cuts him short, rather churlishly, with—“Look you, Sir Benjamin Shower, go on with your objections ; let us hear what you have to say." And, after all, there is nothing like a set speech in defence to the jury.
A new and illustrious age of literature-the age of refined language, pure taste, polished style, and chastened eloquence-of wit, and sense, and fancy, and philosophy--now succeeded, or had already commenced. But it was the age peculiarly of fine writing,—with so much, therefore, of the excellences of art and discipline, as to be unfavourable to the bold and tumultuous licence of diction, construction, and emotion, which Oratory asserts for herself. The style of Swift would be admirable at the Bar; but it should never, as indeed it could never,
be the leading one. · How much of what is called Swift's style resides in his singular cast of thought, wit, humour, wisdom, and imagination ! And who could be endured as his imitator? It is, then, not at all surprising that the Bar, which had already failed to seize a congenial style of eloquence by which it was surrounded, should not adopt that which was uncongenial to it. Accordingly, in the most important trials of this period, political or private, there is nothing beyond short and negligent statement, and desultory or interlocutory discussion between the court and all the counsel of both sides. The affair of the Duchess of Norfolk affording matter the most prolific' of eloquence in later times the basest profligacy and the highest rank-was treated without eloquence, or even a set speech. In the trial of Sacheverel, at the bar of the Lords, the speeches of Lawyers are decidedly inferior. In the case of Franklin, tried for a libel in “The Craftsman," written by Lord Bolingbroke, the defence is not alone ineloquent, but common-place.
At length, when about the middle of the century that eloquence of free minds, created and inspired by Lord Chatham with little aid, and sustained by him without an equal, flourished in the senate, the Bar felt something of sympathy or emulation, and ventured in the wake of parliament, upon the untried current of oratory. The best, and one of the first specimens of this new eloquence in the courts, is to be found in the trial of Elizabeth Canning—one of the most truly curious affairs in the history of our jurisprudence. Nine innocent lives were compromised, and two creatures on the verge of execution, “because," as a witty foreigner then in England said, “ Elizabeth was pretty and could tell lies." He might have added, because jurors were blockheads, and the populace credulous and cruel. Those who are not acquainted with this trial, which made so much noise in its day, will understand enough of it from the following sketch, somewhat humorously dramatised, but mainly correct, by the same foreigner in his immortal defence of the family of Calas.
“ Elizabeth had quitted the house of her parents, and disappeared for a month, when she returned thin, emaciated, and her clothes in rags, "Good God! in what condition are you returned! Where have you been ? Whence are you come ? What has befallen you?' Alas, my dear aunt, as I passed through Moorfields, in order to return home, two strong ruffians threw me down, robbed me, and carried me off to a house ten miles from London."
“Her aunt and her neighbours wept at this tale. 'Oh, my dear child! Was it not to the house of that infamous Mrs. Webb, that the ruffians conveyed you ? for she lives about ten miles from town.' "Yes, aunt, it was to Mrs. Webb's.' 'To a great house on the right?" "Yes, aunt.' The neighbours then described Mrs. Webb: and the young Canning agreed, that she was exactly such a woman as they described her. One of them told Miss Canning, that people played all night in that woman's house ; that it was a cut-throat place, where young men resorted to lose their money and ruin themselves. 'Indeed it is a cht-throat place,' replied Elizabeth Canning. "They do worse,' said another neighbour, those two ruffians, who are cousins to Mrs. Webb, go on the highway, take up all the pretty girls they meet, and oblige them to live on bread and water, until they consent to abandon themselves to the gamblers in the house.' 'Good God! I suppose they obliged you, my dear niece, to live upon bread and water.' 'Yes, aunt." &c. &c.
The victims of this girl's wicked falsehoods having been saved, she was herself indicted for perjury. Her trial afforded the strongest excitement and the finest sphere to the counsel, and, for the first time, not in vain. Their speeches aim at dialectics in a better style, the constructions and movements, and energy, and fervour of legitimate declamation—something, in fine, which may be called elaborate and avowed oratory. The more inspiring side, from the peculiarity of the case, was that of the crown-on behalf of which Mr. Davy made an excellent reply. A single passage from his peroration will suffice as an example, and deserves moreover to be quoted for its eloquence.
“Of all the crimes (says he) the human heart can conceive, perjury is the most impious and detestable. But the guilt of this person is so transcendent as to defy aggravation. To call upon the God of truth, in the most solemn form, and on the most awful occasion to attest a falsehood--to imprecate the vengeance of Heaven upon her guilty head-to prostitute the law of the land to the vilest purpose-to triumph in the destruction of an innocent fellow-creature--to commit a murder with the sword of justice-and then, having stript her own heart of all humanity, to insinuate herself, by all the arts of hypocrisy into the compassion of otherssuch is the peculiar sin of this person, not yet twenty years of age!"
The progress of eloquence from this period, and the distinctive merits of those who became eminent in the new generation which immediately succeeded at the bar, demands, even in mere outline, a separate notice.
THE GREEK WOMAN.*
She look'd upon the friends around
Her silent bed of death,
Upon her hollow cheek ;
With resignation meek,
* See “ Letter from the East,” vol. 7, page 353, N. M. M. The wife of a Greek, "a young woman of uncommon loveliness, seeing her husband departing, stood on the shore stretching out her hands towards the boat in vain, and imploring in the most moviog terms to be taken on board. The Greek saw it without concern or pity, and without aiding her escape bade his companions hasten their flight. This unfortunate woman, left unprotected in the midst of her enemies, struggled through scenes of difficulty and danger, of insult and suffering, till her health and strength failing, with a heart broken by sorrow, brought her to her death-bed * * * * *
Her husband returned at "last, when the enemy had retreated, and the Greeks had scught their homes again ; and learning her situation was touched with the deepest remorse. But all hope of life was then extinguished; her spirit had been tried to the utmost ; love had changed to aversion, and she refused to see or forgive him." ***** * *
"Her friends, with tears entreated her to speak to and forgive her husband; but she turned her face to the wall, and waved her hand for him to be gone. Soon the last pang came over her, and affection conquered; she turned suddenly round, raised a look of forgiveness to him, placed her hand in his, and died."