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Mr. Crosbie, who shone for several years at the head of the Scotch bar; an honest, and, moreover, an able lawyer, residing in an alley called Allan Close, whence he regularly went every morning to the bar in his robe and wig. At present there are wardrobes, where the barristers, as at the palais de justice at Paris, change their costume. Mr. Crosbie readily settled his business with his clients and the solicitors at the John coffee-house, with a pint of brandy before him. On Saturday his rendezvous was another house called Anchor Close, described by the author of Guy Mannering, under the name of Clerihugh, where Mr. Crosbie used to club with some of his respectable brethren, and even with some judges, in a supper at 6d. per head. I presume the liquor was not comprised in this moderate charge, since the judicial Bacchanalians used to keep up the entertainment till the following morning.
Some scrupulous Englishmen have preserved at London a jesuitical habit, in order to avoid the temptation of violating the sabbath day. They indulge in long sittings at table, and elsewhere, on a Saturday, in order to be sufficiently fatigued for the Sunday, and so devote it to repose. I would lay a wager that the society for the suppression of vice would have nothing to say against such an expedient. I have elsewhere cited an anecdote on this subject.
The Driver of Paulus Pleydell is the portrait of a clerk equally well known, who, according to the expression of his patron, found a substitute for every thing in ale. Ale was to him meat, drink, clothing, bed, and board.
Lord Gardenstone played Mr. Crosbie one of those tricks which amused the jovial bar of that time for a month. My lord met on the road a countryman going to Edinburgh, in order to hear Mr. Crosbie plead his cause. The facetious senator advised the plaintiff to procure himself a dozen or two of farthings at a tobacconist's, in the Grass Market; to fold them carefully in white paper as if they were guineas; and remit them in the nick of time, in the form of fees, to Mr. Crosbie while plead* ing, in order to kindle his zeal. The case was a dry one. Mr. Crosbie occasionally flagged in his eloquence, and the tone of his voice indicated that he was about to cut short the argument, in order to bring the matter to a conclusion, without having sufficiently exhausted it. At each important crisis, when he began to lose breath, the crafty countryman silently slipped a farthing into his hand, and Mr. Crosbie was inspired with new spirit to return to the charge. At the fourteenth farthing, the jury were convinced, and the cause was gained. But at the John coffee house in the evening, the barrister regretted his great exertions, when he found his imaginary guineas reduced to farthings. Did Lord Gardenstone really play this trick on Master Crosbie, or did he merely relate it? No one troubled himself about that; but the whole bar laughed with all their hearts.
Paulus Pleydell's character, on the appearance of
TOJL. II. x
Guy Mannering, particularly amused one of the judges of the quarter-sessions. That judge was Lord Hermand, a kind of judicial Cincinnatus, who was delighted to meet with so faithful a picture of the manners of the lawyers of the old school. It is even reported that while Guy Mannering was recently published, Lord Hermand always carried the novel about him like a manual, and was never tired of asking all he met, whether they had read it. One day, while seated on the bench with his judicial brethren, and gravely discussing some knotty question, Lord Hermand eagerly seized a word that dropped in order to appeal to Guy Mannering, and so warmly maintained its incontestible merit, that he finally drew a volume of it from his pocket, in order more effectually to demonstrate the legitimacy of his enthusiasm. His colleagues in vain remonstrated; he was determined to win the cause; and spouted a whole chapter with the most expressive tone and gesture. The pleasure of the lecture was contagious; and it is said that the judges demonstrated, by their attention and hearty laughter, that the Temple of Themis had never before resounded to so amusing a narrative. During the whole of the scene, the clerk, silently seated beneath Lord Hermand, listened like the rest. That clerk was the anonymous writer Sir W. Scott. I have called Lord Hermand a judicial Cincinnatus; it is because he has preserved with his antique legal manners, the most vivid delight in rural pleasures. The vacations are devoted by him to
the cultivation of his dear Sabine farm. Formerly, such of the legal men as possessed any rural domain, hastened thither as soon as the Saturday's session was over, if they were not detained by some jovial rendezvous at the tavern. Accordingly, it was the custom on Saturdays to plead in demicostume, and sometimes with the spurs on, in order to lose no time in riding away. The wig and the gown were the only paraphernalia rigorously retained. The modern Scotch barristers wear a lighter wardrobe, and the greater part of them plead with their hair dressed a la Titus; but the augmentation of the fees is what they more especially boast as a pledge of the improvements introduced by time into the State's well being. More than one pleader has contributed to the embellishments of Craig Crook, a pretty residence of Mr. Jeffrey, three miles from Edinburgh.*
I shall one day hazard a survey of the intricacies of the Scotch law. I will, at all events, say a few words of the peculiar composition of the Edinburgh courts of justice, in order to serve for commentary to certain entirely local expressions used in the novels of Sir W. Scott. At the court of sessions (a supreme court in civil matters) we find respectable judges and council, such as Messrs Moncrief, Forsyth and Cockburn, who constitute
• Since the writing of this letter, the novel of Redgauntiet has appeared, to supply us with new details about the solicitors and Scotch barristers of the old school. The Edinburgh pettifogger, poor Peter Peebles, is an historical personage.
I further appeal to the novel of St. Ronan's Well, to justify my tcanmag of the literary coteries directed by bat blew.
formidable rivals to Mr. Jeffrey, however skilful as a pleader, and eloquent as an orator, the editor of the Edinburgh Review may be. The Jury Court and the Court of Justiciary will occupy our attention after the Court of Session; from the hall of justice, I propose to make an excursion to the prison, which is not the old Tolbooth, as I have already said, but a modern edifice not far from the Calton Hill, and somewhat lugubrious in the monotony of its architecture.
I shall also detail in what the process of instruction consists for the law students; but I shall reserve such details till I take a review of the various colleges in the University, and probably, before I publish the result of my researches on this important subject, T shall find it expedient to wait till I have seen Glasgow, in order to compare the university of that second town of Scotland with that of the capital.
TO M. AD. LESOURD.
Philosophy, the sciences, poetry, and criticism, have made greater progress in Scotland, than the fine arts in general. The Rev. Mr. Williams,