« PreviousContinue »
taste and sentiment are at once cherished, corrected, and dignified, and all the social principles of our nature awakened and enforced by a charm of expression which no future accident can efface from the recollection, forms its ground-work; and history and philosophy, chiefly in their reference to man, whether considered in his individual or in his civil character, constitute the superstructure.
Let it not be imagined that, though the terms which we have employed are ordinary, they do not imply a comprehensive range of application; or that we mean a mere passive attendance on the prelections of the schools, or a not less passive course of reading in the closet. We mean that vital application to classical, historical, and philosphical attainments, which prepared such minds for the subsequent study and immaculate practice of the law, and for the high political functions to which they were afterward called, as the D'Aguesseaus and the Cochins * of France, and the Hardwickes and Mansfields of England. +
To fortify these noble and comprehensive sentiments of the nature and duties of his profession, in the breast of the future lawyer, is to perform an useful service to the community. He, therefore, cannot be said to be unworthily employed, who presents to the minds of those by whom the civil and political rights, and through these the substantial prosperity and happiness of their fellow-citizens, are to be vindicated, new mo
* A French critic, speaking of Cochin, says: “ Veut on saa voir comment il parvint à se rendre maitre de ses talens, et à les perfectionner ? Il est aisé de sentir qu' à l'exemple des Grands Hommes qui se sont distingués chacun dans leur genre, ce fut par une étude constante et refléchie des Anciens. S'appliquer de bonne heure à la lecture des Historiens et des Philosophes, pour apprendre des premiers l'origine et l'usage des loix ; des seconds, la manière de penser et de raisonner; tels furent les moyens qu'il jugea propres à le mettre en état de fournir une carrière ou l'esprit ne sauroit se soutenir lui seul.” Sebattier, Trois Siècles Littéraires — voce Cochin.
† See some remarks of Blackstone (Discourse on Study of the Law) on the absurdity of sending young men to attorneys' offices as a proper ground-work of their legal studies, and on the neces. sity of a liberal course of classical and philosophical education.
« Students of the law," says Lord Bolingbroke, “must pry into the secret recesses of the human heart, and become'well acquainted with the whole moral world, that they may discover the abstract reason of all laws; and they must trace the laws of particular states, especially of their own, from the first rough sketches to the more perfect draughts; from the first causes or occasions that produced them, through all the effects, good and bad, that they produced."--Letters on Study of History, M 4
tives to elevated and honourable conduct, or who developes, in their full vigour and beauty, motives imperfectly perceived before; who discloses the moral as well as natural connection subsisting between a previous course of liberal and philosophic study, and the subsequent details of professional research; and, finally, who delineates the path by which that previous study and subsequent research are each to be successfully pursued. On this subject, accordingly, several performances have been submitted to the public; some of them comprehending the different topics to which we have alluded, and others being more limited. Of the former, the best with which we are acquainted is a set of essays originally printed in the periodical paper called The World, and since re-published separately under the title of “ The Barrister;" and of the latter, Mr. Serjeant Wynne's Eunomus, in which a liberal and enlarged method of legal study is elegantly described and inculcated.
* In the work before us, Mr. Raithby treats the subject on a comprehensive scale. He has set himself to remove some preliminary objections which, in certain circumstances, may be alleged against the study of the law altogether; has considered the different moral virtues, the dispositions, and the manners, more peculiarly demanding the young lawyer's attention; has treated the general introductory course of study, literature, philosophy, and history, necessary for the enlarge ment of his mind, and its preparation for entering more liberally on the investigation of his proper science; and has discussed the topic of eloquence, and detailed some particulars of a plan of strictly professional study. This, indeed, is not the order in which the author has proceeded ; for, to say the truth, he has no where paid a scrupulous attention to the arrangement of his subject: but, though we do not quarrel with the comprehensive view which he has taken of it, we cer
* If the student deems it worth whilę, he may farther look into Bridgeman's Reflections on the Study of the Law;" “ Deinology, or the Union of Reason and Elegance, being Instructions to a young Barrister;" “ Simpson's Reflections on the natural and acquired Endowments requisite for the Study of the Law ;” and “ Strictures on the Education proper for the Bar;" all very meagre perform
He will find something better, though in a degree antiquated, in Sir John Doddridge's “ Lawyer's Light, or a true Direction for the Study of the Law, Choice of Books," &c.; and in Chief Justice Reeves “ On the Study of the Law," published in vol. i. of the Collectanea Juridica. Blackstone's Discourse on the Study of the Law is little else than merely a recommendation of it to the different classes of society. II
tainly tainly do disapprove the proportion which he has given to the parts. The only preliminary objections, for example, of which he has taken notice, are such as are peculiar to young spendthrifts; who, having squandered their patrimony in fashionable dissipation, are inclined by their habits to resist the admonitions by which their friends as well as their necessities would urge them to enter on a course of professional discipline. Surely, however, many objections besides those that are peculiar to this class of persons deserved to be examined, and to be removed or admitted as they were found trivial or weighty. This branch of the subject, therefore, ought either not to have been touched or to have been more comprehensively considered. On the other hand, the discussions on eloquence are greatly too much detailed, since the peculiar properties of what is called the eloquence of the bar might have been discussed within the limits of the shortest of the letters employed on it; and, finally, the instructions given on that which must be regarded as the great object of all the previous preparation, a course of strictly professional study,—are very meagre, and almost wholly nugatory. Yet, as far as Mr. Raithby has gone, he has on the whole done well. If on some topics he is niuch too diffuse, and on others too sparing, he is neither unmeaning nor digressive; if he is never profound or original, he is always judicious and sometimes instructive. The moral sentiments, too, which he iculcates, are always pure, and often elevating; and his style, if redundant and therefore deficient in strength, is occasionally eloquent, and never discreditable to the liteterary character of the society of which he is a member.
We shall now extract a few passages on the different topics of the comprehensive outline which is embraced by this performance; thus exemplifying the remarks which we have made, and, we hope, at the same time edifying our readers.
Some of the author's attention, we have observed, is directed to the removal of certain objections which young men of ruined fortunes and dissipated habits, though perhaps of good parts, are apt to oppose to their entrance on a course of professional study. To his young friend who, in the depression of mind arising from such a predicament, had talked of burying himself in the retirement of the country, he thus judiciously and honestly writes :
• I rejoice to find that you begin to enter into my design; that your grief moderates, and that you have put off your journey into ihe country ; though you say, with respect to this last, you have complied rather out of affection for me, and some other of your friends, than a full conviction of the justness of my reasoning upon the subject of retirement. I should have been better pleased had
you relinquished your intention from a conviction of its impropriety. You say that liberty is the very essence of life; and you ask whether that can be a principle of liberty which restrains a man, who is disgusted with society, from leaving it? My dear friend, there are numberless phrases of speech which have got abroad in the world, and which mendearn by rote, and then contract an inveterate habit of continually chattering without thinking of their import, or, indeed, caring any thing about it. Thus it is with this cant of disgust with the world, which obtains chiefly with the ignorant and self-loving part of mankind, who either do not know their duty, or are too idle or profligate to perform it. You are as capable of making accurate observations as any man I know. Remark then what sort of persons they usually are who thus quarrel with the world, and are in such haste to retire from it : you will in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred find them to be people of intolerably fractious dispositions, continually disordered by trifles, and upon uneasy terms with those to whom nature has the most closely united them. Is it then to be expected that they, who cannot be happy with their own flesh and blood, should be easy with a world that can have no motive to coalesce, but where pleasure is the result of the coalition, and that is at once willing and able to thwart the discontented spirit? And he, who is looking for another sort of world than this in the present state of things, is seeking for that which he will never find.
• It is true, there are a few whom a long course of unmerited misfortunes has at length wearied out, who are glad to find in retirement a resting-place, and from whom a departing sigh of reproach may be expected and pardoned ; but these form exceptions, and not examples. He who has youth and strength has no title to this indulgence; his case is a very different one: he is displeased with the world, because it does not exactly suit with his ill formed judgment, or because he is prevented from joining in all its extravagances, and he would claim with an arrogance peculiar to inexperience, the liberty of flying from his duty in it altogether.
• See then the freedom (if it may be thus named) which you are so anxious to enjoy.
What is it? It is such a' freedom as belongs only to the greatest slaves, or the most unfortunate among mankind. Are you emulous of such a condition? You talk of that as a right when you have scarcely reached twenty, which is hardly to be allowed to a man who has felt the disappointments of half a century.'
He thus animates the student to encounter and conquer the difficulties of legal study:
- When I look back upon the history of my own country, or search the records of those which are no more, I rejoice that the most elegant ornaments of the one, and the noblest monuments of the other, are to be found in the fame of those men who have studied the laws, and directed the jurisprudence of their respective nations; and while I contemplate these glowing pictures of departed glory, I feel my mind elevated with the loftiest emotions.
Let me communicate, for a moment, the enthusiasm to yours : look
up to these exalted characters, and resolve at least to imitate, if you cannot equal them; but despair not even of that. think they would ever have risen to their own elevation, if they had not beheld the eminence of some master, whom they then venerated at an awful distance, as you now venerate them? Or if, beholding that eminence, they had been dismayed at it?
By such examples, the study of the law comes recommended-to us; and he who would rise in it must have such examples before his
eyes ; he ought never to lose sight of them. The eloquence, the wisdom, the justice, and the virtue which distinguished them, must be his; he must labour as they have laboured, he must study as they have studied, if he expect to reap the same glorious rewards which have crowned their course. But be not impatient of your progress if you find it at first difficult and tardy; this will be but a natural consequence : you may, however, find it less so than you now imagine; should this prove
do not babble to every one you meet, the great, plans which you have formed, or the atchievement you have executed; this will expose you to ridicule or envy, and will be unworthy of you.
• I know not a more accurate criterion of a noble mind than that silent confidence in its own powers, which incites to great endeavours, and leaves the event to time. The labours of such a mind will be secret but ardent; and its success will be known to the world only by the superiority of the actions it incites. Such a state as this is not attained without perseverance; but, thank Heaven ! it is still attainable by perseverance; and it must be at
ed, or you will never rise to extraordinary flights of talent or of virtue.
• Do you see what you have to do? I am afraid I have been wrong; I have been delighting your imagination with a transient glance of beauty and excellence, from which I must a while with draw you to the less pleasing contemplation of the ineans by which they are to be attained; for great and various as the powers of the human intellect are, still they are in a state of progression, of tedious and humiliating progression ; we are not yet arrived at the state in which we are to behold them flourishing in eternal bloom.
In the letters, accordingly, which immediately follow, Mr. R. enters on the detail of some of the difficulties to be overcome, and the means of overcoming them. Among these, timidity, or a degrading estimate of our own powers, is not only formidable in itself but aggravates every other:
I am now endeavouring,' says the author, “to animate you to a desire of excellence; and for this purpose I have turned your attention towards those who have been its fairest patterns. . It is clear, that if you wish to be like them, you must pursue the path which they have trodden; but you think this looks like arrogance; you think the character of modesty amiable, and that to assume the hope, however remote, of an equality with those renowned men is inconsistent with modesty. This idea appears to me to be