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couraging to keep them, under these circumstances, wasting their time at school; the dangers of idleness, either at home or at school, are almost equally to be dreaded at this period of their lives. At home, the sons of rich parents often find in grooms and coachmen worse and more dangerous companions, than any that could be found among the most idle and mischievous schoolboys; the younger sons of opulent parents, who are frequently intended for the law, are peculiarly subject to acquire in this manner, even under the parental eye, tastes and notions, which destroy in a few months, perhaps in a few days, the precious labour of years, and all future hope of professional application and eminence. If the boy learn from the coachman, that the characteristic of a gentleman is to drive four in hand, he will look with admiration and perhaps envy upon his elder brother, on whom this glorious privilege devolves by birthright, or is entailed by family settlements; and he will lament his hard fate in being condemned to college studies, and the drudgery of the law. In less opulent families, where there are no high-bred grooms or coachmen to spread infectious tastes or opinions, yet there is always danger for an overgrown schoolboy, while he is loitering at home in abeyance before he goes to college. Even in the best regulated and most agreeable private families, the ease and indolence, and we may add, the unearned happiness, which a youth tastes, is not always favourable to the habits of application and exertion, which are absolutely necessary for those, who are to make their bread by the laborious study and practice of the law. Perhaps a clever boy may be prepared to go to college as early as the age of fourteen or fifteen, and his parents might not wish to trust him at that early age to his own management. As some boys are far more prudent than others of the same age, it is impossible to state any fixed period for sending young men to college: but in different cases there may be an interval of one, two, or three years between their school and their college studies ; this period, when the freshness and vivacity of youth admit the most lively and salutary impressions, must not be lost.
Opulent parents, who have not the means of employing a son advantageously and agreeably at home, might at this age trust him to the care of some prudent intelligent tutor, who should travel with him, not into foreign countries, but in his own, to show him the manufactures, the agriculture, the modes of life in different classes of society. Information on these subjects can perhaps never be acquired better at any period of life by a lawyer; for after a young man goes to college, his time is occupied with other studies, and he becomes fixed to a place: when he goes to the inns of court, for a great part of the year he is stationary, and his attention is confined to one object while he is studying law. Yet the various species of local and popular knowledge, to which we allude, must be useful, indeed necessary, to a lawyer. In a commercial country like ours, disputes relative to property are, of all others, the most frequent; and these often depend on the knowledge of the local customs of tradesmen, manufacturers, and farmers. An acquaintance with the manners and dialects of these classes of people, as well as with their customs, must give a lawyer great advantages in discerning the truth of evidence, and in making it apparent to a judge and jury. The ignorance of common things, which is often betrayed by gentlemen
of the long robe, is sometimes ridiculously displayed in court.
“ And so, my lord,” said a sailor, in giving evidence before a judge, “ as I was saying, I had hold of the painter.” By the word painter, the sailor meant a small rope, by which a boat is towed after a ship; but his lordship, utterly unacquainted with the phraseology of our British tars, understood the word painter in its usual sense, and mistaking a rope for a man, found himself strangely puzzled, and could by no means comprehend the evidence, till some one, less ignorant of common affairs than himself, assisted him by giving an explanation of the term. This is a story probably well known, but there are many similar instances on record against our judges, Brian Edwards, in the preface to his History of Jamaica, mentions, that an English judge, in trying a cause relative to the produce of a West India plantation, was utterly at a loss to know, what was meant by molasses. .
- There is scarcely any species of knowledge, which may be acquired in the counting-house or the warehouse, at the Bank or in the dock, at the easel of the artist or in the workshop of the artificer; there are no ways of earning money, no modes of life, which may not, in the infinite variety of cases that come before an English lawyer, be essentially serviceable to the interests of his client, and to his own reputation,
Any one, who looks even at the common reports of trials in the newspapers, may perceive the truth of this assertion. In one and the same paper, we may see a trial about thousands between guardians and wards; where the jet of the question depends on ascertaining the mode in which compound interest is, or ought to be, calculated by bankers. Next comes a cause about a fraudulent contract for whalebone, in which the whole turns upon knowing the difference between the weight of this commodity when wet or dry. Then follows a trial between a lady, plaintiff, and a birdfancier, defendant, about the sale of a nightingale or a hullfinch ; and on the cross-examination, we hear from the birdfancier of rubbish notes and pure jug, which terms the lawyer must explain, for the bird-fancier cannot to the satisfaction of the jury. Then we have a cause concerning the value of a cable, and the lawyer hears of rogues-yarn, and must be prepared to explain to the gentlemen of the jury what it means, and to show them that it is peculiar to the navy. Next follow trials about the antiquity of porcelain, or the originality of a picture; and here the knowledge acquired from the potter and the artist will be useful even to the lawyer. Beside the direct use which may be made of such knowledge, an advantage may be derived from it, which does not appear pro-, bable at first view. The reader will perhaps smile if it be asserted, that it will tend not only to improve the judgment, but also to increase the power of wit. Wit arises from the perception of resemblances between ideas and objects, which do not at first view appear to have any connexion with each other. This faculty may be strengthened and quickened by habit; it has been observed", that no man, even of moderate capacity, ever determined and laboured to become a punster
without succeeding. By turning the attention continually to the similarity of the sounds, and the dissimilarity of the meanings of words, this inferior species of wit is easily attained ; and from this very circumstance is undervalued. A talent for that kind of wit which is more esteemed depends, however, upon similar habits, only the attention must be turned not merely to the jingle of sounds, but to the observation of resemblances in a great number of objects: the more remote from each other the ideas appear, the greater the admiration we feel for the ready wit, which brings them instantly together. Supposing the original and habitual quickness of perception in any two individuals to be equal, he who has the greatest variety of ideas will have the greatest power of wit. The changes on a few ideas are soon rung, but the combinations which may be made are infinite as the numbers increase, and the chances of happy results increase in proportion. It has been observed by a judicious philosopher, that many of the writers, who have been most famous for wit, have also been men of learning; for instance, Cervantes, Rabelais, Butler, and Swift. Their learning, indeed, appears to have been highly advantageous to their wit, by heightening the contrast between the comic and serious, the burlesque and solemn. Many men have immense magazines of learning without any wit; but they have not a collection of ideas of outward objects and of observations on common things, or acquaintance with men and manners ; therefore they have little chance or power of combining thoughts in that mode, which constitutes the wit of conversation.
If a young man can collect a variety of these common