Obrázky na stránke

the other side; the taxing-master has no cognisance of the skill and eminence of a lawyer; but taxes irrespective of his private knowledge of the intrinsic worth of counsel employed. There is no doubt, much benefit would accrue to the public, if one man were competent by law to conduct a cause right through, from the issue of the writ to the issuing of execution, including appearance at the trial; he would be acquainted with the facts from the start, and render unnecessary those many consultations which occur between barrister and attorney, and consequently lessen the expenses. Under the present system, counsel, who is to conduct the cause at the trial, seldom confronts the client before he sees him in the witness-box; he has to rely solely for information on the facts stated in the brief delivered, which information is frequently inadequate, and sometimes inconsistent with the witness's evidence in the box. The best proof of the foregoing is the increasing tendency of attorneys to conduct a cause right through, when they have the power; a notable instance of which is to be witnessed every day in the Melbourne Insolvent Court, where intricate examinations are conducted with consummate ability by attorneys. And they, forsooth, opposed to the Amalgamation Bill! Mr. Murray Smith voted against Mr. Coppin's Bill, stating, as his reason for so doing, that, as both barristers and attorneys were opposed to it, he could see no reason for change. This gentleman must little know the consequences attendant on the future prospects of any barristers who ventured to express an opinion otherwise. Bread and meat are considerations far before free thought and outspoken expression of opinion. The horrors of a taboo at the hands of his feeders (the attorneys) would visibly present itself in bas-relief to the eyes of the ambitious barrister. Further, Mr. Murray Smith must remember that legislation is for the benefit of the public, not of a class. The lower branch, well pleased with their happy condition, and jubilant in the majesty of their power, say amalgamation is merely a cry got up for the benefit of barristers unskilled and feeble in mind, and by the junior Bar, who are not fit to be entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a cause. Strange it is, this incapacity never extends to attorneys long established, or junior; if income and quantity of legal employment is a true test of such capacity, not the examinations at the Melbourne University, where the student-at-law and articled clerk stand on the same basis. Some of the former will facetiously say the capacity of the latter, with some notable exceptions, must

have lain dormant during their University terms. Where is the young attorney of ordinary business habits and intelligence who can not, and does not, make a fair living at his profession in this colony? The embryo barrister (however brilliant his University career) who can boast the same is a sight to gladden the vision.

An honourable member (an attorney again), in opposing Mr. Mason's Bill in the Legislative Assembly, expressed himself in favour of some provision by which a barrister could become an attorney, and, vice versâ, an attorney a barrister; but the learned gentleman did not attempt to explain the reason why. Perchance this gentleman is identical in interest, if not in person, with an anti-amalgamationist previously mentioned in this article. Had the Bill been framed in the desired form, perhaps it would be rank blasphemy to suggest that this Circe-like opponent might have expressed himself in favour of some scheme analogous to that now before Parliament. Consistency and logic are not of much importance, so long as the main object, e.g., stonewalling or rejection of the Amalgamation Bill is obtained. If the honourable gentleman had favoured us with some reason, it might then be possible to meet him on even ground; as he has not, I can only conjecture. Is it possible he fears that, under amalgamation, no one lawyer would obtain sufficient court work to sharpen the edge of his understanding and furnish him with that legal acumen and knowledge that is so necessary in order to enter the lists with the learned judges? If so, let me hastily dissipate all solicitude on that score; for if this gentleman will take the trouble to glance at the New Zealand and South Australia law reports, he will find the same names constantly recurring, and the same lawyers appearing as counsel, and also he will find one lawyer instructing another to appear as counsel alone or in conjunction with himself. I can assure him that, if the present Amalgamation Bill becomes law, there will be nothing in the wide world to prevent his firm instructing any lawyer to appear as counsel.

In the foregoing pages, I have only given vent to opinions that are common in Temple Court, amongst the senior as well as the junior Bar; and were it not for the fearful consequences dependent on the expression of such heterodoxy, I feel confident the matter would have been placed before the public with much greater cogency, and by an abler pen than has indited these pages. The writer is not desirous of change; he is no advocate of sudden innovations. If members of the bar were permitted, without incurring social calumny and professional ruin, to revert to their undoubted rights,

see the public direct, concurrently with attorneys, for all purposes, and when necessary employ an attorney to issue a writ or move the sheriff (which without doubt is peculiarly the attorney's function), he could see no reason for legislation, which is solely required to remove an utterly misconceived custom, but which, however, is a custom, and has all the practical effects of positive law. Whilst the present system exists, every junior barrister who hopes for success must crony and cringe to attorneys till he very nigh loses all self-respect. The contest going on is very similar to the fight which existed some centuries back between the Courts of Queen's Bench and Common Pleas for business. The fictions which the Courts of Queen's Bench and Exchequer invented to increase their revenues are as unfounded, ingenious, and one-sided, as the rules of etiquette which the attorneys have now coined, by means of which a barrier is practically drawn between the Bar and the public, and the attorney advanced from something better than a mere scrivener to be master of the situation. The sooner it is swept away, the sooner will the learned and noble profession of the Bar shine again in all its lustre, and hold out inducement to those who have intelligence, industry, and integrity to recommend them, though perhaps blessed with no cordon of attorney acquaintances.

The writer of these pages would have little hesitation in appending his name to this article, were it not for a wholesome fear of the professional consequences which would undoubtedly befall him, and this must be his excuse to the public for remaining anonymous.

J. W. J.


THE Melbourne Review for October contains a rejoinder to my article on "Nineteenth Century England,"* in which Mr. Topp reaffirms his reading of the political situation in Europe, and his belief in the immediate advent of a German world-kingdom-another Nebuchadnezzar-image, before which all nations and peoples and kindreds and tongues are to fall down in worship, to an accompaniment, not of sackbut and dulcimer, but of Krupp cannon and mitrailleuses. Mr. Topp and myself have thus each expended an article upon the other, with the customary result; we have not convinced each other, and in our most sanguine moments we hardly hope that we have convinced any body else. Controversial ink is a fluid, alas! of singular harmlessness and inefficiency. De Quincey complains somewhere that there are no marks by which we are able to determine when a theory or an argument is controversially dead, and may be peremptorily required to betake itself to a coffin. A proposition may be defunct by all the laws of logic, and yet persist in walking about the world with an air of the rudest health, and in spite of Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferioque, and the whole syllogistic sisterhood. There are no coroners' juries, unfortunately, in the intellectual world, to sit on a slain argument, certify to its decease, and direct the interment of the corpse. I confess, I think the map of the world, as prophetically readjusted by Mr. Topp, has been shown to be a very airy and baseless projection; but then, I cannot persuade Mr. Topp himself of this. The gap made in his theory, may not, to quote Mercutio, have been "so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door;" still, I cherish the persuasion that it was enough to do its business. But then, Mr. Topp himself declines to take this view of the case; and life is both too brief and too busy to permit of debate being waged without visible end or profit. All

* Victorian Review for July, 1880.

I have to say on the main point in debate betwixt us, therefore, may be dismissed in a few sentences. But Mr. Topp's paper bristles with obiter dicta of a very furiously debatable quality indeed. In the most matter-of-fact, not to say unconscious, way, he advances as truisms, propositions which, I venture to think, would be vehemently denied by nine sensible men out of every ten; and on one or two of these felonious obiter dicta, it may be worth while to spend a few moments' discussion.

On the general subject in debate-the probable future of the world's politics- Mr. Topp makes a concession that satisfies equally one's patriotism and one's common sense; and that, moreover, justifies my first article. He disavows his belief that England. is about to make her final disappearance from history, after the manner of Alsace, as a German department, and under charge of a Prussian major-general. He says, indeed, that I must have read his first paper carelessly to have ever suspected him of such a belief. He devoted almost an entire foot-note, he claims, to the interests of Great Britain; showing that the universal empire of Germany "would not directly endanger the independence of the British Empire, though undoubtedly it would seriously affect her position, and compel a careful reconsideration of her foreign policy." I acknowledge the foot-note; but let me remind Mr. Topp that the very thesis he undertook to sustain was that of the establishment by Germany of an "universal empire;" or-for Mr. Topp is painfully loose in his adjectives—it was an "European empire," which was to stand "revealed before the astonished and wondering gaze of all mankind;" or, still more exactly, an empire whose type is supplied by " the dominion of the seven-hilled city of the Tiber." Now, England, if not Scotland, were certainly included in the empire of the Cæsars; and both England and Scotland, according to the latest geographical intelligence, continue to stand where they did, and are part of Europe; and the idea of an "universal" empire certainly forbids the exception of so large a piece of the modern world as the British Nation, to say nothing of Asia and America. Enter, to the sound of drums, an "Empire" which is all at once "Universal," "European," and Cæsarian, but which, yet, Mr. Topp hastens to assure us in a foot-note, only affects England to the extent of requiring her to "seriously reconsider her foreign politics!" There is surely a delicious reminder of the Midsummer Night's Dream in this! Mr. Topp's Germany, like Bottom's lion, is the most fearful wild-fowl living; therefore, Mr. Topp writes VOL. III.--No. 13.


« PredošláPokračovať »