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ferent sorts and parts of the evidence, and compare them together in point of solidity, clearness, and force. A habit of analyzing, combining, methodising, and balancing evidence, in this manner, will be a constant and a valuable resource in the practice of the law. Every one, who has observed or experienced that practice, must be sensible, that a lawyer's time and attention are more employed, and his talents are more severely tried, by questions and debates on evidence, than by those on all the other titles of the law, various, intricate, and extensive as they are. * To wield the weapons of evidence forms an important article in a lawyer's art. To wield them skilfully evinces a good head : to wield them honestly as well as skilfully evinces, at once, a good head and a good heart; and reflects equal honour on the profession and on the man. a. I have, on this occasion, said nothing concerning the artificial rules of evidence, which are framed by the law for convenience in courts of justice. These, unquestionably, ought to be studied and known. Concerning these, much learning may be found in the several law books. Particular rules may be seen, adapted to particular cases. An intimate acquaintance with those rules will be of great practical utility in what I may call the retail business of the law; a kind of business by no means to be neglected; a kind of business, however, which should not be suffered to usurp the place of what is far more essential—the study and the practice too of the law, as a science founded on principle, and on the nature of man. The powers and the operations of the human mind are the native and original fountains of evidence. Gaudy, but scanty and temporary cascades may sometimes be supplied by art.
But the natural springs alone can furnish a constant and an abundant supply. He, too, who is in full possession of these, can, with the greatest facility, and to the greatest advantage, display their streams, on proper occasions, in all the forms, and with all the ornaments, suggested and prepared by the most artificial contrivances.
It is generally supposed—and, indeed, our law books, so far as I recollect, go upon the supposition—that the evidence, which influences a court and jury, depends altogether upon what is said by the witnesses, or read from the papers. This, however, is very far from being the case. Much depends on the pleadings of the counsel. His pleadings depend much on a masterly knowledge and management of the principles of evidence. Evidence is the foundation of conviction: conviction is the foundation of persuasion: to convey persuasion is the end of pleading. From the principles of evidence, therefore, must be drawn that train and tenour of reasoning, which will accomplish the aim of the pleader, and produce the perfection of his art.
A rich and an immense prospect opens to my view; but I cannot now attempt to describe it,
THE END OF THE FIRST PART.
OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES AND OF PENNSYLVANIA-OF THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT,
IN my plan, I mentioned, that I would consider our municipal law under two great divisions; that, under the first, I would treat of the law, as it relates to persons; and that, under the second, I would treat of it, as it relates to things. I pursue those two great divisions; and begin with persons.
Persons are divided into two kinds—natural and artificial. Natural persons are formed by the great Author of nature. Artificial persons are the creatures of human sagacity and contrivance; and are framed and intended for the purposes of government and society.
When we contemplate the constitution and the laws of the United States and of the commonwealth of
Pennsylvania; the mighty object, which first arrests our attention, is—the people. In the laws of England, as they have been imposed or received during the last seven centuries, the “people” is a title, which has scarcely found a place, or, if it has found a place occasionally, it has attracted but a very disproportionate degree of notice or regard. Of the prerogative of the king, frequent and respectful mention is made : he is considered and represented as the fountain of authority, of honour, of justice, and even of the most important species of property. Of the majesty of the people, little is said in the books of our law. When they are introduced upon the legal stage, they are considered as the body, of which the king is the head, and are viewed as the subjects of his crown and government.
This has not been the case in all countries; it has not been the case in England at all times. It has, indeed, been the case too often and too generally; but the pages of literature will furnish us with a few brilliant exceptions. Of one permit me to take a very particular notice; for of a very particular notice it is highly deserving.
At the mention of Athens, a thousand refined and endearing associations rush immediately into the memory of the scholar, the philosopher, the statesman, and the patriot. When Homer, one of the most correct, as well as the oldest and one of the most respectable, of human authorities, enumerates the other nations of Greece, whose forces acted in the siege of Troy; he arranges them under the names of their different kings: but when he comes to the Athenians, he distinguishes them by the peculiar appellation of “the people” of Athens.
* Anoes, Pot. 12. Iliad 1, 2, v. 547.
Let it not surprise you, that I cite Homer as a very respectable authority. That celebrated writer was not more remarkable for the elegance and sublimity, than he was for the truth and precision, of his compositions. -The geographer, who could not relish the exquisite beauties of his poetry, felt, however, uncommon satisfaction in ascertaining, by the map, the severe accuracy of his geographical descriptions. But let me mention what is still more to my present purpose and justification. From one of the orations of Æschines it appears highly probable," that in the Athenian courts of justice, the poems of Homer, as well as the laws of Athens, were always laid upon the table before the judges; and that the clerk was frequently applied to, by the orator, to read passages from the former, as well as from the latter. On the authority of two lines from Homer's catalogue of the Grecian fleet, was determined a controversy between the Athenians and the inhabitants of Salamis. His immortal poems, like a meteor in the gloom of night, brighten the obscure antiquities of his country? “
By some of the most early accounts, which have been transmitted to us concerning Britain, we are informed, that “the people held the helm of government in their own power.”* This spirit of independence was a ruling principle among the Saxons likewise. Concerning their original, it is both needless and fruitless—I use the expressions of the very learned Selden –to enter the lists; whether they were natives from the northern parts of Germany, or the relicks of the army under Alexander. But their government, adds he, was, in general, so suitable to that of the Grecians, that it cannot be
*1. Gill. 26, c 1. Gill, 3. * Bac. on Gov. 2. ‘Id. 9.