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caster-are permanently seated in the metropolis. The members of the latter, by means of the circuits travelled by the judges, and the more popular nature of their business, are better known to the general public than their brethren of the Equity Bar. Before the judges of the Common Law Courts comes all the more serious criminal business of the country. Members of this section of the Bar, as successful advocates on the criminal side on their several circuits, not unfrequently achieve a reputation for acuteness and eloquence, leading to success also in the higher walks of the profession.
Skill in addressing a jury, though perhaps not the highest, is still a very high qualification for successful advocacy. It is very difficult to describe exactly the qualities essential for its acquirement. An easy flow of language is doubtless indispensable to the success of every public speaker; but he who seeks to gain verdicts has need of many qualities besides fluency of utterance to win the attention and captivate the judgment of a jury. To this end mere volubility is of little avail. The talent perhaps most essential is tact, for without this useful gift even great oratorical power fails in the arduous contests of the courts; while by its aid, as by a beacon's light, the cautious advocate perceives and shuns dangers unheeded by a perhaps more brilliant but less subtle antagonist. The battle once begun, an advocate should be prompt to decide upon his line of action and strenuous in its maintenance when determined ; moreover, let him appear to be in earnest in his contention, as though impressed with the truth and justice of his cause.
The whole end and object of the art of advocacy being to win the sympathy and convince the judgment of those addressed, a speaker should, on all occasions, adapt his discourse to the feelings and understandings of those whom he strives to persuade. Finally, with force and clearness must now be united brevity of speech; of all errors, prolixity is the least tolerated; and very rare, at the present day, are the cases in which a lengthy oration is necessary or even permissible.
Such a combination of qualities procures their fortunate
possessor not only ample employment, but also a wider fame than higher mental endowments without such gifts generally earn. Of the laurels gained in this branch of legal practice, the members of the Equity Bar have hitherto had no share. In those courts, until very lately, a jury was unknown; and even now the intervention of that tribunal is of rare occurrence; there, the courts themselves, courts, with one exception, consisting of a single judge, decide almost all questions upon evidence not given orally before them. Thus, without witnesses to examine and to test, or a jury to address and persuade, counsel could but scantly exercise or display either their astuteness or their eloquence. It follows, then, that advocates eminent in the Common Law Courts enjoy a wider if not a higher reputation than the leaders of the Courts of Equity. Upon the several circuits, the public—especially its fairer portion—throng the assize courts, and listen in admiring wonder as the favourite orator of the day appeals by turns to the passions, the prejudices, the sympathies, or the reason of the jury. The audience carry away from these scenes vivid and perhaps exaggerated impressions of the skill and eloquence of the speaker, and thus his fame is noised abroad and quickly spreads beyond the narrow circles of the profession.
We have before observed that, without its own limits, little is known of the internal institutions of the forensic body and the rules and system of its government. The different denominations and grades into which it is divided—Queen's counsel learned in the law, serjeants-at-law, doctors of law, masters of the bench of the several Inns of Court—these all seem a complete mystery to the majority even of the educated public.
Barristers consist of three grades or ranks, namely; Queen's counsel, serjeants-at-law, and outer or utter barristers—the rank and file of the profession—to these may be added the advocates of the ecclesiastical courts, who are now entitled to practice as counsel in any of Her Majesty's courts of law and equity, as if they had been duly called to the degree of barrister-at-law. In olden times, the degree of serjeant-at-law
VOL. XXIII.-NO. XLV.
(serviens ad legem ) was the most honourable known in the legal profession. Even to the present day the custom continues of admitting into this venerable order the judges of the three Common Law Courts upon their advancement to the Bench. Hence, a serjeant is in court always addressed from the Bench as “brother;" this barren distinction, however, being almost all that is left to them of their ancient privileges. The rank is in little request in these days, being reckoned of but secondary value, without the precedence necessary to place its bearer upon an equality with a Queen's counsel. It is, however, occasionally sought by those who, though they may have arrived at a certain standing and enjoy a moderate practice, nevertheless see no prospect of being included in the list of Her Majesty's counsel. Upon attaining to this degree, a barrister leaves the Inn of Court to which he has previously belonged, and becomes a member of Serjeant's Inn. The serjeants, therefore, with the fifteen judges, form, as the members of that society, a body of themselves, apart from the rest of the profession.
At present the leaders of the English Bar are, for the most part, to be found among Her Majesty's counsel, the Attorney-General being the recognised head of the whole body. To become one of Her Majesty's counsel is the object, at some period of his career, of every barrister who aspires to play a leading part in the superior courts of law or equity. We may observe that the patent of a Queen's counsel is, with few exceptions, conferred only upon those who, as juniors, have enjoyed considerable business at the Bar; these exceptions having been generally made in favour of men of some political or literary eminence.
Barristers obtaining the patent of a Queen's counsel are, thereupon, in most cases, elected Masters of the Bench or Benchers of their Inn. The electors to this dignity are the benchers themselves of the respective Inns, and a very small proportion of dissentient votes excludes a candidate. There is, therefore, good security that no individual will be elected a
bencher unless his professional and private character are alike without a stain.
There are four Inns of Court, each having the privilege of calling to the Bar;" namely, Lincoln's Inn, the Inns of the Middle and Inner Temple, and Gray's Inn. In each Inn, besides the
"Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors,
The very noble and approved good masters" of the Bench or benchers of the Inn, there are two other grades: barristers-at-law and students-at-law. The benchers constitute the governing body of each Inn, they administer its affairs, manage its property, and call its students in due course to the degree of barrister-at-law. The power, moreover, which makes, can also unmake; the Bench which confers the privileges of the forensic toga, can also unfrock the wearer who bears himself unworthily. The importance of the trust thus confided to the benchers in the exercise of these powers can scarcely be exaggerated; since, in fact, they hold in their keeping the credit and good fame of a profession whose utility to society is measured by the honour and integrity, as well as by the ability and learning, of its members. Should a barrister feel aggrieved by the decision of the Bench of his Inn, he may appeal to the fifteen judges, whose verdict is final. The disbarment but a few years ago of an eminent advocate, and the revelations of a trial still fresh in the minds both of the profession and the public, have given a general insight into the exercise of their powers by the benchers.
That some control and supervision over the conduct of barristers ought to exist, and ought to be such as can be practically enforced against delinquents, cannot be doubted. Nor will it be denied that a tribunal within the profession, possessed of full powers to judge and to punish offenders against professional usage, or the general laws of honour and honesty, is required not only for the correction of delinquent barristers, but also for the protection of suitors in our courts.
But it is submitted that some alteration is needed in the mode in which the existing tribunal of the Bench carries on its proceedings. While the benchers have ample powers over any member of their Inn, whose offences are brought before them, their authority over the instruments of evidence upon which to form their judgments is very limited. Some of the most valuable prerogatives of a court of justice are wanting to the courts of the Bench. They have, in fact, no power to enforce the attendance of any witness, or to compel the production of any document. The tribunal itself is unmanageable from its numbers, and from its very constitution is liable to variation from day to day as an inquiry proceeds.
The unsatisfactory action of the court or parliament of the Bench, as at present constituted, was not long ago manifested in a too notorious case—an investigation marvellously protracted came after all to an abortive result, a conclusion mainly due to the defective machinery of the court itself.
It is true that in another instance a great offender was convicted and expelled from the profession he had disgraced. But these are not, unhappily, the only examples of scandals touching members of the Bar. Other cases have occurred which even more strongly prove the necessity for an accessible and effective tribunal to take cognizance of professional misdemeanours.
If we examine the elements of which that confessedly learned and honourable body, the English Bar, is now composed, we may perhaps find some explanation of the comparative frequency in these later years of malpractices amongst its members. The four Inns of Court receive their recruits from every rank and degree of educated men. The younger sons of our noble families come to the Bar with an eye perhaps to some moderate and early provision ; or, more ambitious, looking upon it'as one of the recognised avenues to distinction and wealth. Country gentlemen send their elder sons to study and practice in the law for a while, to qualify them thereby for fulfilling with larger usefulness the duties of the magistracy and the legislature; young men of every class, at the close of their university