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can with difficulty be transformed into a radical. Convince his reason by oracular proof, and he is with you; unfold to him your darling theory, which has not as yet been tested, he will laugh at your enthusiasm, and ask you to cite a case. Thus we have a large and influential class of men who are made by force of circumstances the heavy ballast in the ship of state, the grand counterpoise which regulates those wild and distracting elements which sometimes threaten the safety of our society.
Their conservatism may be only senseless inertia in many, still, as a whole, they play a most salutary and important part in checking the mad career of rampant reformers, born too long before their time.
The chronic aversion which a majority of the profession entertain to departing from the ancient landmarks which their fathers have established, operates as a clog to the progressive movements of the age. Old lawyers object to legal reforms, because they very naturally prefer the time-honored system to learning a new practice in which they have had no more experience than the more youthful members of the bar. Their ideas have run so long in the rut of precedent, that they cannot be diverted to meet the wants of a changing society, and adapt themselves to the reforms of a more enlightened age. What may be an offspring of barbarism, they often look upon as the wisdom of centuries. Then, again, many regard the law as a dextrous foil to thurst or parry with, as occasion requires, and never dream that it may serve the great ends of humanity and public benefaction.
Let us now take a glance at the present aspect of this profession, and compare it, in point of ability, character and accomplishments, with what it was in the earlier days of our Republic.
Not many months gone by, two of the brightest stars in the galaxy of legal talent dropped from their places, and left it almost in utter darkness. Rufus Choate and Nicholas Hill were, at the periods of their decease, concededly the ablest representatives of their profession. Choate, as a brilliant advocate and exemplar of forensic eloquence, a lawyer who sweetened his judicial acquirements with the amenities of art, literature and science, was without a rival in the Union ; Hill, as a profound jurist, a subtle analyzer of legal principles, an enthusiastic delver in the mines of precedent, and a logician that carried conviction to the minds of the bench, was without a compeer in the annals of the bar. Both have passed away, and their loss creates the same permanent vacancy in the bar that the death of Webster and Clay occasioned in the Senate.
But if we take a more extended view of the legal fraternity of to-day, and judge of it as a whole, and not by its most distinguished votaries, it will appear, I think, that the average character and ability of this class of men have essentially deteriorated during the last thirty years.
The law was once reckoned among the learned professions, but it is less worthy that rank now than formerly. In the days of Wirt, Pinckney, Otis and Henry; and later, when Marshal, Kent and Story shed a dazzling lustre over the profession they adorned, it must have been something of an honor to have been a member of the bar in good standing. Now the titles of attorney and counsellor give no particular prestige to their possessor, and they are no longer suggestive of the same admirable qualities that were implied by the in former times. It is not a very great achievement to get admitted to practice now, but the labor requisite to become a good lawyer can never be diminished Years ago, the legal student was required to pass through a preparatory course of seven years, studying the classics four and the law three years. He was then admitted as an attorney, and after three years' actual practice, took the degree of counsellor.
The discipline and thorough training which this long term of study involved, necessarily imparted something like adequate qualification to the youngest practitioner, and inspired a kind of confidence in his first clients. But how is it now? Lawyers are made with quite as much facility as doctors, and both can get a license to bleed people for about the same sacrifice of time and money.
Six months or a year spent in a law-office has now become the average preparation made by those ambitious for the honor of the bar. Law students who can draw a chattel mortgage and fill up a blank complaint on a promissory note, are apt to think they have mastered the sublime mysteries of the science, and are anxious to receive retaining fees, and look out for costs. Then, again, not a few enter the profession because they regard their legal title as a badge of gentility, and believe the practice a life of ease and leisure. Many enter it, as before suggested, as a mere prelude to political honors, and some pervert it into a licensed method of picking pockets. And when there is such a general stampede among young men from honest, manual labor and productive industry, of course there is a precipitate rush at the legal profession; and it may yet come to pass that every man will be his own lawyer.
But this state of things is not unfortunate for the old lawyers, because the dullest tyro in his profession will provoke a little litigation if he have any friends or relatives, and experienced counsel is likely to get one side of it, and generally the best side. On the other hand, clients will not suffer largely from the inexperience of young attorneys, for they will not entrust them with important suits until they have given public proof of their talent and professional skill. So it happens, that although admission to the bar is made very easy, the attainment of eminence there, or the securing of a lucrative practice, was never more difficult than at present. When the law becomes a kind of Botany Bay for those whose indolence and ignorance banish them from more exclusive pursuits, it must lose something of its former prestige and honorable distinction. It becomes the fit subject of the keen satire contained in the fancied address of a judge to a class of students just admitted to the bar. The language of the dignitary of the Bench was as follows:
‘Young gentlemen, I need not detain you longer; you are perfect. But I will dismiss you with a few words of advice that you will do well to follow. You will find it laid down as a maxim of civil law, never to kiss the maid when you can kiss the mistress as well. Follow out this principle, young gentlemen, and you are safe! Never say, bool to a goose when she has the power of laying golden eggs. Let your faces be long and your bills longer. Never put
your hand into your own pocket when any body's else is handy. Keep your conscience for your own private use, and do n't trouble it with other people's matters. Look wiser than an owl, and be as oracular as a town-clock. Plaster the judge and butter the jury. And above all things, young gentlemen, get money! Honestly if you can — but get money! I welcome you to the bar.' This advice is of the character best suited to the tastes and capacity of a large class of young men from which the profession is yearly recruited.
Once it was customary for students to pay distinguished lawyers considerable sums for the privilege of remaining in their offices and being instructed in the principles of the law. And on certain days these counsellors delivered lectures to their pupils, and conducted their legal education in a becoming manner. These facts show that the preliminary training and preparatory discipline of young men designing to enter the profession in those times, was in some degree proportionate to its duties and exigencies, and resulted in latter years in producing those able lawyers and profound jurists who have been the pride of our young Republic. The popular law-schools of the present day are doing much to rescue the legal profession from the low estate to which it is inevitably tending. These institutions confer degrees, teach the law as a science, and inspire the student with a proper sense of the dignity and responsibility of his chosen pursuit. For the law, if rightly comprehended, is the noblest and most beneficent of the sciences. Its origin is divine; it aims to secure justice to all, to protect life, liberty and property, to punish crime, regulate the multiform affairs of society, and in its more extended range to establish the rules of government and preside over the intercourse of nations.
As the solar system and all the starry worlds of God's illimitable universe discharge their various functions in accordance with some fixed and inscrutable plan, so all civilized society, institutions, communities and governments, are continued and sustained by virtue of human laws, which regulate and control their individual and relative action. Annihilate the laws of nature, and chaos would ensue. Abolish all time-sanctioned customs, constitutions and statutes, · and the world would be a pandemonium. Thus, law being a social and political necessity, there must always be a class of men whose business is, to understand, apply and interpret it when occasion demands. He who does this, assumes a high and important trust. A good lawyer, therefore, should be a good man. He should be a man of pure and lofty spirit, of strict integrity and unsullied honor, who loves truth and justice; adding to all these a thorough knowledge of the principles and practice of his profession. Such a man can be of vast service to his fellows, do many a noble and generous deed, be admired for his legal talent, and be respected for his moral worth and personal character. But a mean and unprincipled lawyer is a most dangerous member of society; his knowledge of and right to use the law, increase his capacity for doing mischief, and serving his own private ends. His clients are at his mercy ; the widow and orphan the victims of his rapacious villainy !
The writer would not say one word against any one entering the pale of the bar, if he do it understandingly, with no extravagant notions of sudden success, with the requisite qualifications, and a willingness to forego many of the
pleasures and enjoyments of life, in steadfast devotion to his chosen profession. He should not enter it as a mere stepping-stone to political preferment, for that is prostituting the calling to a foreign purpose. He should not do it as a means of amassing wealth ; for as Henry Clay once said: 'It is usually the fate of the American lawyer to work hard, live high, and die poor.' Not to gratify a lofty ambition merely, for an advocate seldom acquires a national reputation, and never an enduring fame. And, above all, he should not regard the profession as a comfortable refuge from manly, hard-fisted toil on the farm or in the work-shop, thinking his legal title confers upon him any particular honor or exclusive privilege. If he imagines the name of counsellor invests him with any peculiar sanctity, or exempts him from any of the incidents of our common humanity, he would do well to ponder on the reflection of Hamlet in the church-yard. The young Prince of Denmark, as he watches the two clowns digging a grave, perceives that they are throwing up skulls from the excavation, and tossing them about with as little ceremony as if they were foot-balls. He picks one up, and holding it on the palm of his hand, says in that fine vein of philosophical musing for which his character is noted: “There is another; why may not that be the skull of a lawyer ? Where be his quiddits now, his quil. lets, his cases, his tenures and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action battery?'
AN INDIAN HYMN.
On! soft falls the dew, in the twilight descending,
And tall grows the shadowy hill on the plain ;
Like the storm-spirit dark o'er the tremulous main!'
• Is it the low wind through the wet billows rushing,
That fills with wild numbers my listening ear ?
The strange-playing minstrel whose music I hear?'
* Great Spirit of Good, whose abode is the heaven,
Whose wampum of peace is the bow in the sky,
Yet turn a deaf ear to my piteous cry?'
UTTER ANCES OF A L ALCOL.
AN INDIAN POE T.
BY HENRY R. SOIO OLORAFT
THE WOIP PO WIL: CHORUS OF INDIAN BOYS.
Wuppowil, whippowil, flying about,
Tell me, my busy birds, what do you mean?
SENECAS. The name of this tribe has often been a subject of inquiry, without leading to any satisfactory answer. How the name of a Roman moralist and philosopher should have been transferred to a North-American Indian tribe, is as much a mystery to-day as it could have been when Hendrik Hudson sailed through the Highlands.
In a map of Nova Belgica, published at Amsterdam in 1654, this tribe are called Sinnecars. In Lawson's Travels in South-Carolina in 1700, they are called Sinnekars. They call themselves Ondawaga, or People of the Hill, in relation to a myth by which they trace their origin to a hill on Canandaigua
* The name of a female in Chippewa.
+ Nabain --- husband in Algonguin.