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Chambers, William / Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 461 Volume 18, New Series, October 30, 1852


No. 461. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2_d._


On the 18th day of February 1850, Her Majesty's steamship _Rattler_
was lying at anchor about twenty miles to the northward of Ambriz, a
slave depôt situated on the western coast of Africa. Week after week
had passed away in dull uniformity; while the oppressive heat, the
gentle breeze which scarcely ruffled the surface of the deep, and the
lazy motion of the vessel as it rolled on the long unceasing swell
that ever sets on that rocky shore, lulled the senses of all into a
sleepy apathy. The only music that ever reached our ears was the
eternal roar of that monotonous surf, as it licked the rugged beach
with its snowy tongue.

A few miles off, a range of low brown hills, covered with a stunted
vegetation, runs parallel with the shore--along their undulating
sides, angular spires of granite project through the parched and
scanty soil; while on their highest brow one solitary giant stands,
resembling an obelisk, from which the anchorage derives its name, 'The
Granite Pillar.' No appearance of human life or labour exists
around; the whole is a desert, over which these columnar
formations--resembling a city of the Titans, crumbling slowly into
dust--hold an empire of solitude and death. The imagination is
oppressed with a sense of utter desolation that withers every mental

This day was passing like so many before it; the sun was low on the
horizon, and its yellow beams were throwing a brassy tint over the sea
and sky; the sailors were engaged, some fishing with patient
assiduity, others, grouped into small knots, listening to prosy yarns;
while a few were prostrated round the decks in attitudes of perfect
abandonment or sleep. The officers were leaning over the taffrail,
trying, with a sportsman-like anxiety worthy of better prey, to hook a
shark, which was slowly meandering under the stern; or looking
contemplatively into the dark-brown waves, either watching the many
forms of animal life which floated by, or recalling to memory the dear
objects of distant lands. The officer of the watch, with his spyglass
under his arm, was pacing languidly his narrow round, when 'Sail ho!'
in clear and piercing tones, resounded from the mast-head, and with
electric speed filled the dreamers with life and energy.

'Point to her,' cried the officer of the watch; while all eyes were
directed to the look-out aloft, whose glass was immediately stretched
to the north. Speculation now sits in every vacant eye, and conjecture
on every silent tongue. The captain was at his post with vigilant
alacrity. 'How is she standing? what sail is she under?' was soon
answered, and the orders, 'Get the steam up, lower the propeller,'
echoed round the decks, mingled with the shrill pipes of the
boatswain's mates.

The men flew to their posts; and whilst the cumbrous screw was
descending slowly into the water, the stokers had roused the
smouldering embers into life.

'All hands up anchor!' The capstan revolves and creaks, as one and all
of these willing men strain their starting muscles at the bars. The
anchor reluctantly leaves its oozy bed; but the chinking of the cable,
as it steadily ascends, reveals no change, until it swings at the bow.

'Go on ahead!' The steam whistles through its silent chambers, like
sweet music, calling into life that ponderous mechanism, until it
appears to dance with joy.

'Helm a-port--steady so!' The waves rise high on either bow as we dash
through the foaming waters. Our distance from the object rapidly
diminishes, while eager eyes are directed ahead, until it is seen from
the deck. Hope fills the breast of the sanguine, despair that of the
gloomy and desponding. Sure eyes and good telescopes soon descry the
Yankee ensign floating aloft in lazy folds; and as we come still
nearer, those accustomed to observe the shape of sails and set of
masts, detect the peculiarities of an old acquaintance. It is the
_Lucy Ann_, an American vessel of a very suspicious character, which
has been frequently boarded by our cruisers, but has ever been
protected by the flag of her apparent country.

We are soon alongside, and our captain boards her, to examine her
'papers' once again, and to insnare, if possible, our wily enemy. On
his return, we continue our course towards the Congo, whither they
have been persuaded we are going for water. No sooner, however, do the
shades of evening protect our movements from observation, than we
change our course, and proceed directly out to sea a hundred miles or
so, to prevent her passing us in the dark should she take her slaves
on board this night, as it is suspected she will do.

Daylight comes next morning, and the best telescopes from aloft sweep
the horizon, but not a speck can be seen on that desert sea. The sails
are stripped from the vessel's masts, and she lies like a dead log,
round which, at the unwonted spectacle, shoals of dolphins and
porpoises come to gambol. It was pleasant to have something like life
near us, and though it belonged to another element, it seemed a
connecting-link with the rest of the animated creation. One long hour
after another had passed away, and the most hopeful began to despair,
while the expressions of the desponding grew more energetic against
the propriety of lying thus inactive; but Captain Cumming, as patient
in biding his time as he is quick in resolving and acting when the
moment arrives, only replied: 'Wait till to-morrow morning!' This
arrived like the last, and every eye was turned towards the rising sun
as it slowly emerged from the waves, not to gaze on the purple
radiance that streamed from its broad disk, but with the expectation
of seeing the object of our solicitude revealed by the light of the
eastern sky. Each one turned slowly away, disappointed, as soon as he
found that he had been looking in vain; but there appeared a sullen
pleasure in the eyes of those who had been prophesying evil, as their
predictions appeared to be fulfilled.

As a matter of precaution for whatever might happen, the steam was
ready; orders were now given to proceed, and we steamed on slowly
towards the land. One hour passed away thus, another, and nearly a
third, when a negro, perched beside the main truck, sang out with all
his lungs: 'Sail ho!' His keen sense of vision, outstripping that of
his white comrade, distinguished as a small speck the lofty royals,
while the vessel was far below the horizon. A smile of satisfaction
wreathed with dimples even the grimest faces, when the object of our
pursuit approached us near enough to be recognised. Without faltering,
she came on steadily, with every sail set, and her banner proudly
waving in the gentle breeze, forbidding search. Each eye eagerly
scrutinised her, speculation was busy, and the emotions were various
as the temper and habit of each individual mind.

Having arrived alongside, our captain again boarded her in his gig. He
was received politely, and without embarrassment, by the Yankee, who
immediately offered refreshments, which were declined. Not a slave was
to be seen, nor did there exist any smell, so universal a concomitant
to indicate their presence. Some forty Brazilians, each with a cigar
in his mouth, were loitering round the clean decks, while the crew
were busy at the pumps, creating the greatest possible noise, in the
accomplishment of which they were assisted by a flock of parrots and
love-birds, perched in every direction.

Once more the ship's papers were produced, and carefully scanned, and
the absence of one important document was detected. On being demanded,
it was positively refused, and the presumption was thus created that
it did not exist, and that therefore all were false.

These proceedings occupied a considerable time--a matter of
preconcerted importance, as the suspicion was entertained that slaves
were concealed below, and that soon the danger of impending
suffocation would reveal the fact. Our chief took up a position near
the main hatchway, and listened anxiously for the slightest
indication. Various manoeuvres were tried to get him away without
success. The Brazilians were beginning to appear impatient; and on
board the _Rattler_, whence, by telescopes, the proceedings were
watched with deepest interest, the hopes of even the most sanguine
were becoming faint, when Captain Cumming was observed to start, and
point to the deck. He had heard the stifled sound of intolerable agony
rise from below his feet, like a peal of distant thunder. The slaves
were suffocating from want of air, and their dread of their jailers
was extinguished in the immediate struggle for life.

In a moment, the American perceived that the game he had been so
skilfully playing was lost, and his assumed coolness deserted him. In
a voice choked with emotion, he rapidly uttered: 'She is a Brazilian.
I am not the captain; this is,' pointing to a tawny Portuguese at his

'Haul down the flag, and hoist her proper colours.'

Down came that ensign, polluted by the traffic it protected, amid the
cheers of our men, which made the welkin ring.

'Don't let the poor devils die,' cried the stout American mate,
actuated by the generosity of the race he sprang from, which his
degrading employment could not wholly stifle. Assisted by our men, who
had jumped out of the boat, the hatches were soon removed, exposing to
view a mass of human misery which, being once seen, must remain
impressed on the memory for ever--the naked bodies of men, women, and
children, writhing in a heap, contorted, gasping for air, sinking from
exhaustion, and covered with sweat and foam. The darkness which
surrounded them only deepened the shades, without concealing a single
feature; whilst the dense and sickening steam which curled heavily up
from the reeking mass, made it a picture too horrible to contemplate,
and one the minute details of which must be left to haunt the memory
of those who were unfortunate enough to witness it.

First one and then another endeavoured to ascend, but with a strength
unequal to the task, they fell back into the mephitic abyss. Our men
rushed forward to their aid, and catching hold of their imploring
hands, placed them upon deck. There, prostrate and indiscriminately
huddled together, they gradually recovered from the effects of that
terrible confinement, where 547 human beings were, without a breath of
fresh air, kept for above two hours crushed together in a space only
about three feet in height, and with a superficial extent not equal to
that of their bodies, unless in a sitting position! The ordeal proved
too much for the vital energy of above twenty, who perished one by one
during the next fortnight or three weeks, without having felt the
blessing of freedom.

An officer with a few men were immediately placed in charge of the
prize, and navigated it to St Helena. The slaves, when there, are
declared free, but upon conditions such as render it generally
necessary for them to emigrate to the West Indies, to become, let us
hope, happy and useful members of a British colony.

The Brazilians and American crew were taken on board the _Rattler_,
and conveyed back to Ambriz, from thence, in all probability, to
return to their horrible trade, in the hope of being more successful
on another occasion. The captain was seen a few months afterwards, in
another American vessel, returning from the Brazils, prepared, in all
likelihood, to play a similar game with better success from the lesson
he had received. The opportunity afforded us of observing the
character of these men, produced a more favourable feeling towards
them than was at first sight entertained. Several pleaded honourable
motives for the degraded position in which they felt themselves
placed, and nearly all would have done credit to a more respectable

Our gallant chief's calculations were found to have been rigidly
correct. That night after we left them, they believed that a boat
would be detached to watch their movements; they therefore anchored,
and waited for daylight. When that arrived without an enemy in sight,
they felt secure.

The slaves, worn out by previous marching and counter-marching to
shipping places, where their embarkation was prevented by the
vigilance of our cruisers, rendered it almost a matter of necessity
that they should now be taken on board. Their bodies had been galled
and emaciated by the chains they carried, by the slender store of dry
farina--the only food provided for them--and by the precarious and
scanty supply of water obtainable on the arid plains or in the tangled
forests they had traversed. The first canoe-load was taken alongside
the ship about four o'clock in the afternoon, and in an hour the whole
were on board. This is reckoned the most favourable time for getting
under-way, as darkness enables them to leave the land without danger
of being observed.

The preceding is a faithful picture of one of the melancholy incidents
belonging to the hateful traffic in slaves. Let us hope that the time
has at length nearly arrived which has been so long waited for, when
we may say with truth, it is abolished; leaving only the memory of it
to darken the page of history, and remain a moral lesson to mankind.


Literary talents and habits are fortunately not always dissociated
from world-like conduct and skill in affairs. We have now become
familiar with a class of men who, while cultivating even the more
flowery fields of the Muses, are not on that account the less
distinguished in their professional walks, or by the active part they
take in the great practical movements of the age. The public, which
does not readily admit of two ideas respecting any one man, is apt to
lose sight of the literary in the worldly merit; but the former does
not the less exist, and perhaps in time it will be equally
acknowledged. We regard Mr Cox, author of the book under notice, as a
remarkable example of the union of the man of affairs with the author.
We learn, from a local record,[1] that he rose, about twenty years ago
as an attorney in a western town, and took an active part in the
fervid political doings of 1830-31. Ambitious of higher professional
honours, he removed to London, and entered at the bar. In the course
of eight or nine years, he has proceeded from one adventure to
another, till he is now one of the most multiform of men. Not merely
does he follow a strictly professional course as a barrister, but he
conducts several periodical works of a laborious nature--the _Law
Times_ (newspaper), the _Magistrate_, the _County Courts' Chronicle_,
and a series of Criminal Law Cases. For the preparation of these
works, he has a printing establishment, the management of which would
be a sufficient occupation for most men. It gives work to 250 persons,
and 10,000 business accounts are kept in it. As if all these
engagements were not enough, Mr Cox has established the well-known
literary periodical work (fortnightly) the _Critic_. The conducting of
a work designed to report upon the current literature of the day is
perhaps one of the most delicate of tasks, for the critics necessarily
are themselves authors, are the friends and enemies of authors, and
are of course liable to all the usual fallacies which beset human
judgment. Hence it is that we see one such work lose credit through
its universal benevolence, and another rush to the opposite extreme,
of asserting independence by an unvarying tone of rancour and
dissatisfaction--obviously a not less unjust course both to literary
men and the public, and in the long-run, equally sure to destroy the
credit of the men who adopt it. Amidst the difficulties proper to such
a task, we believe the _Critic_ has hitherto steered a comparatively
irreproachable course, keeping mainly in view a faithful and
painstaking _account_ of every book submitted to its notice, and
neither trading upon the smiles nor the groans of authors. Of a warm
and cordial nature, and with an intense love of literature, he seems
to have known how to encourage genius, even while pointing to its
errors; and, if we may judge by the internal evidence of the work
itself, he has succeeded in rallying round him many of the high and
generous spirits of the time. The _Critic_ is distinguished by a more
than usual proportion of thought, and by very little of the small
superficial cant of criticism.

It will excite some surprise that Mr Cox has found time, amidst his
numberless duties, to prepare a professional work of considerable
magnitude, and of solid merit and utility. Such, we take leave to say,
is the _Advocate_, of which the first volume is now before us.[2] It
is a book which, though intended primarily for young legal aspirants,
will also instruct, and indeed entertain the public. It is more than
this for those who can pursue the spirit of a work through its
details, and see the character of an individual or a class rising
palpably out of reasonings, maxims, and material circumstances. Such
readers will give a hero to the pages before us, and follow him in his
career with more than the interest that waits upon romance. They will
observe, in the first place, his natural advantages: 'Has he a healthy
frame, capable of enduring long-continued exertion of mind and body,
the confinement of the study, the excitement of practice, the crowded
court by day, the vigil of thought by night? Can he subsist with a
sleep of five hours? Can he, without dyspepsy, endure irregular
meals--hasty eatings and long fastings? If he be not blessed by nature
with the vigorous constitution that will bear all this, and more, let
him not dream of adventuring into the arena of advocacy.' Good lungs
and a strong voice are indispensable: strong rather than
agreeable--let him even scream or squeak, as some of his brethren do,
but scream or squeak with _power_. His mental qualifications are--keen
and rapid perception, sound judgment, power of concentration, and that
imagination which paints in words. Of these, the first is the
cornerstone of the mental character of the advocate. Of the moral
qualities, courage and self-confidence must be combined with caution,
and the whole elevated by honesty and truthfulness of nature. At this
point the philosophical reader will perhaps demur, and inquire whether
those clients who are in the wrong find any difficulty in obtaining
the most talented defenders--for a con-si-der-ation. But we will
postpone that issue.

In addition to his natural qualifications, the advocate must possess
what is called a small pecuniary independence: 'The practical
conclusion we would deduce from the review we have taken of the
expenses unavoidably attendant upon the profession of advocate, and
which amount at the least to L.650 previous to his call, and to L.250
per annum afterwards, is this:--Let no man who values his happiness,
or his ultimate success in life, make the bar his profession, unless
he has resources, other than his profession, upon which he can rely
for a clear income of L.150 per annum at the least. This will still
leave L.100 to be provided for by that profession; but that is a risk
he may not unreasonably run, if conscious that, in all other respects,
he is qualified for ultimate success. With less than that, it would be
unwise to incur the hazard. With no resources, as is sometimes seen,
it is madness.'

The aspirant to the bar must methodise his time. 'In mapping out the
day, make ample allowance for rest and for refreshment. Nothing is
gained in the end by unduly abbreviating these. Provided you work
without wasting a moment in your working-hours, you can afford to be
liberal in your apportionment of time to exercises of the body and
relaxations of the mind. Above all, and at whatever sacrifice, begin
your allotment by devoting two hours at the least in each day to
active bodily exercise, and give one of these to the early morning,
and the other to the evening. So with your meals. First consult
health, without which your studies will be unproductive, and your
hopes of future success blighted. Thus, then, would stand the account
for the day:--Exercise, two hours; meals and rest, three; sleep,
seven; for study, twelve.' Twelve hours for study would be too long,
if he did not make study itself a recreation by means of variety. 'The
profound should be exchanged for the more superficial; the grave for
the gay; such as engage the reasoning powers for those which appeal
rather to the perception or the memory. Natural science should take
its turn with law; languages with logic; rhetoric with mathematics,
and such like--an entire change in the faculties employed being in
fact a more perfect relief than entire rest.' An hour to the more
difficult law-books is enough at a time, but that hour should
alternate frequently with lighter studies. Educational and
professional studies--physical training--and exercise in the art of
speaking, are all of high importance; and it will be found that our
author's advice on the subject is worth attending to. The education of
the aspirant must be completed in the chambers--first, of a
conveyancer; second, of a special pleader (or, if aiming at the equity
bar, of an equity draughtsman); and third, of a general practitioner.
As for his formal and nominal studentship in the Inns of Court, that
merely serves prescriptively to qualify him for his call to the bar.
'If he purposes to practise as a conveyancer, or at the equity bar, he
should enter himself at Lincoln's Inn; but if he designs to practise
the common law, either as a special pleader, or immediately as an
advocate, his choice lies between the Inner and Middle Temple and
Gray's Inn,' The Inner Temple is the most select; the Middle Temple
the most varied in its society; and Gray's Inn the most liberal in its
table. Having chosen his Inn, 'he must obtain the certificate of two
barristers, members of the society, together with that of a bencher,
that he is a fit person to be received into it;' and he is admitted,
as a matter of course.

Many of our readers, on entering the City, through Temple Bar, have
seen a small open gateway on the right hand. It is a quiet,
retired-looking place, grave, and somewhat gloomy; and in contrast
with Fleet Street, and its torrent of population, is rather striking
and remarkable. Yet, hurried away by the living stream, they have
doubtless passed on, and perhaps have forgotten to inquire to what
that solemn avenue leads. Let them enter, the next opportunity they
have, and make use of their own eyes. 'A few paces, and you are beyond
the roar of wheels and the tramp of feet. Tall, gloomy,
smoke-embrowned buildings, whose uniformity of dulness is not
disturbed by windows incrusted with the accumulated dust of a century,
hem you in on either side, and oppress your breathing as with the
mildewy atmosphere of a vault. The dingy ranks of brick are broken by
very narrow alleys; and here and there, peeping under archways, you
may espy little paved court-yards, with great pumps scattering
continual damp in the midst of them, and enclosed with just such dusky
walls and dirty windows as you have already noticed. You are amazed at
the silence that prevails in these retreats, so near the living world,
and yet so entirely secluded from it. But not less will you be
interested by the peculiar appearance of the persons you meet in this
place. The majority of them carry packets of written papers tied about
with red tape, and folded after a fashion here invariably observed....
First, and most abundant, are certain short, thin-visaged,
spare-limbed, keen-featured, dapper-looking men, who appear as if they
had never been young and would never be old, clothed in habiliments of
sober hue, seemingly as unchangeable as themselves. They walk with a
hurried step, and a somewhat important swing of the unoccupied arm. A
smaller packet of the aforesaid tape-tied paper peeps from either
pocket; they look right on, and hasten forward as if the fortunes of
half the world rested upon their shoulders, and the wisdom in the
briefs at their elbow had all been distilled from the skull covered by
that napless hat. If you do not move out of the way, you will probably
be knocked down and trodden upon by them--unconsciously of course.
They are _attorneys' clerks_.

'The second species found in this region are more youthful in aspect,
carry themselves with more swagger, wear their hats jantily, with
greasy curls coaxed to project beyond the brim. They affect a sort of
secondhand gentility, cultivate great brooches, silver guard-chains,
and whiskers, and have the air of persons claiming vice-royalty in the
dominions in which they live and move and have their being. They are
_barristers' clerks_.

'The third class are gentlemanly but very shabbily dressed men, who
look as if they were thinking of something beside themselves. They are
of all ages, and statures, and complexions; of feature of all degrees
of ugliness _in form_ and beauty of _expression_. You cannot mistake
them; there is a family-likeness running through all of them. They are

'The fourth species are composed of men of busy, bustling aspect,
arrayed for the most part in garments of formal cut, and of the
fashion of a bygone day. They _always_ look as ordinary men do when
told on some pressing emergency to "look sharp." Their countenances,
motions, and gait express thought and anxiety. They hurry onward,
noticing nothing and nobody. They are _attorneys_.

'Lastly, you discern a few wasted forms and haggard faces, on which
lines are traced by the icy finger of Disappointment, and garments,
growing ragged, ill protect from the keen draughts that play through
these passages hearts aching with the sickness of hope deferred. The
pockets, though tightly buttoned, are lank and light. They step
briskly and eagerly onward, if entering; they creep slowly, if passing
out toward the street. They are _clients._'

This is the Temple, and these are its denizens; but in pursuing your
way, as you emerge suddenly from the huge masses of building in which
you have been swallowed up, you see with new surprise an open area of
green turf, with beds of flowers, rows of trees, and leafy walks, and
shady seats; and hear the fit and natural accompaniments of such a
scene--the shrill voices of children, and the silvery laugh of ladies
as they stroll through the Temple Gardens. Groups of law-students,
too, 'are lounging there, laughing and talking; and a few solitary
youths, with pale faces and earnest eyes, are poring upon great books
in professional bindings, heedless of the attractions of tree or
flower, or child or woman.'

Beyond the garden is the great water highway of the metropolis, the
princely Thames, with its crowding barges, its flashing skiffs, and
sweeping steamers. Among the gloomy buildings there is _yet_ another
garden-plot, with a fountain in constant play; and yet another, a
smooth-shaven lawn, with paths and flower-beds, on the brink of the
river. 'Here, in this garden of the Middle Temple, there is no human
presence to disturb the profound quiet of the place, as in the more
spacious garden of the Inner Temple which you have lately quitted.
Seats are scattered about, and pretty summer-houses invite to study or
contemplation, but they are unoccupied by any visible presence. One is
inclined to imagine that the Benchers have dedicated this garden to
the exclusive occupation of the dead luminaries of the law, as the
garden on the other side is devoted to its living oracles. With such a
fancy, we always feel disposed to take off our hat to the invisibles,
as we pass the tranquil spot where we suppose them to be "doomed for a
certain time to walk."'

A red building on the right is the magnificent hall of the Middle
Temple, with the carved screen of oak taken from the Spanish Armada.
This is the hall in which the Templar eats his way to the bar; but if
he should have no appetite for such dinners, it is not necessary that
he should devour more than three, provided he pays for the whole
fourteen. 'Shortly before the hand on the dial over the doorway points
to five, crowds of gentlemen may be seen hurrying through the
labyrinthine paths that intersect the Temple in all directions, and
concentrating at the yard before the hall, for dinner there waits for
no man, and, better still, no man waits for dinner. Gowns are provided
for the student in the robing-room, for the use of which a small
term-fee is paid, and, thus habited, he is introduced into the Hall.
But it is now no longer hushed and sombre, but a scene of brightness
and bustle. The tables are spread for dinner in close and orderly
array; wax-lights in profusion blaze upon them; a multitude of gowned
men are lounging on the seats, or talking in groups, or busily looking
out for the most agreeable places, which are secured by simply placing
the spoon in the plate. Suddenly a single loud thump is heard at the
door. All rush to their seats: it is opened wide; the servants range
themselves on either side, and between their bowing ranks behold the
benchers enter in procession, and march to the dais allotted to them.
The steward strikes the table three times with his hammer to command
silence, says a grace before meat, and the feast begins.' Gradations
of rank are closely observed. 'The benchers' tables are ranged upon
the dais, across the hall. The tables in the body of the hall are
placed lengthwise, the barristers occupying those nearest to the dais,
and the students taking the others indiscriminately. They are laid so
as to form messes for four, each mess being provided with distinct
dishes, and making a party of itself. The persons who chance to be
seated at the same mess need no other introduction; he who sits at the
head is called "the captain;" he first carves for himself, and then
passes the dishes to the others in due order. The society presents
each mess with a bottle of wine--always port--a custom which might be
most advantageously violated.'

The Temple is not exactly a part of the United Kingdom: it is rather a
tributary state. It preserves its own peace, collects its own taxes,
and laughs at the City, with whose municipal burthens it has nothing
to do. The inhabitants may live in town or country, as they please,
for both are within the domain. They may occupy an attic, a first
floor, a parlour, an area, just as they like. The Templar seems in
constant sanctuary, where no one dares intrude upon him but his
laundress and his clerk. Both these, as figured by our author, are
admirable specimens of the natural history of the Temple; but we have
no room to give them entire, and must not spoil them by abridgment.
Besides, the aspirant waits: he is not yet called.

The call consists in his proposal by a bencher, the posting of his
name in the hall, his arraying himself in a gown and wig, his taking
the oath of abjuration, supremacy, and allegiance, his being bowed to
by the bench of benchers, and his treating his friends after dinner to
as much dessert and wine as they can hold. He is now an Advocate, and
selects his circuit. 'To every circuit there belongs a band of
gentlemen who were never known to hold a brief, to whom nobody ever
dreamed of offering a brief, and who, if it had been offered, would
probably have declined it. Yet they travel the entire circuit, are
punctual in bowing to the judge at the opening of the court in the
morning, sit there with heroic patience all the day through, nor leave
until his lordship announces that he will "take no other case after
_that_," when they look delighted, rise like school-boys released, and
rush from the court to enjoy half an hour's holiday before dinner.'
This is a sad companionship to get into; yet regularity in attending
even an unproductive circuit is necessary to eventual success. The Bar
must enter the assize town on the same day, that they may all start
fair; they must not live in a hotel, but take lodgings; and they must
not, while on the circuit--that is, in their professional
character--shake hands with an attorney.

We have now started our hero fairly in his profession, and we must
refer to the book itself for his adventures in practice. No less than
eleven chapters are devoted to this part of his life, and yet the
volume before us, although separately published, is only the _first_
volume. We have said and quoted enough to shew that Mr Cox possesses
in an eminent degree the versatility of talent so necessary in a
literary man of the present day; and we lay down the _Advocate_ with
the conviction, that it possesses much that is new, suggestive,
wholesome, and instructive, as well as much that is interesting and


[1] The _Somerset County Gazette_.

[2] _The Advocate, his Training, Practice, Rights, and Duties._ By
Edward W. Cox, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. London: Law Times Office. 1852.


I will tell you all about an affair--important as it proved to me; but
you must not hurry me. I have never been in a hurry since then, and
never will. Up till that time inclusive, I was always in a hurry; my
actions always preceded my thoughts; experience was of no use; and
anybody would have supposed me destined to carry a young head upon old
shoulders to the grave. However, I was brought up at last 'with a
round turn.' I was allowed a certain space for reflection, and plenty
of materials; and if it did not do me good, it's a pity!

My father and mother both died when I was still a great awkward boy;
and I, being the only thing they had to bequeath, became the property
of a distant relation. I do not know how it happened, but I had no
near relations. I was a kind of waif upon the world from the
beginning; and I suppose it was owing to my having no family anchorage
that I acquired the habit of swaying to and fro, and drifting hither
and thither, at the pleasure of wind and tide. Not that my guardian
was inattentive or unkind--quite the reverse; but he was indolent and
careless, contenting himself with providing abundantly for my
schooling and my pocket, and leaving everything else to chance. He
would have done the same thing to his own son if he had had one, and
he did the same thing to his own daughter. But girls somehow cling
wherever they are cast--anything is an anchorage for them; and as
Laura grew up, she gave the care she had never found, and was the
little mother of the whole house. As for the titular mother, she had
not an atom of character of any kind. She might have been a picture,
or a vase, or anything else that is useless except to the taste or the
affections. But mamma was indispensable. It is a vulgar error to
suppose that people who have nothing in them are nobody in a house.
Our mamma was the very centre and point of our home feelings; and it
was strange to observe the devout care we took of a personage, who had
not two ideas in her head.

It is no wonder that I was always in a hurry, for I must have had an
instinctive idea that I had my fortune to look for. The governor had
nothing more than a genteel independence, and this would be a good
deal lessened after his death by the lapse of an annuity. But sister
Laura was thus provided for well enough, while I had not a shilling in
actual money, although plenty of hypothetical thousands and sundry
castles in the air. It was the consciousness of the latter kind of
property, no doubt, that gave me so free-and-easy an air, and made me
so completely the master of my own actions. How I did worry that
blessed old woman! how Laura lectured and scolded! how the governor
stormed! and how I was forgiven the next minute, and we were all as
happy again as the day was long! But at length the time of separation
came. I had grown a great hulking fellow, strong enough to make my
bread as a porter if that had been needed; and so a situation was
found for me in a counting-house at Barcelona, and after a lecture and
a hearty cry from sister Laura, a blessing and a kiss from mamma, and
a great sob kept down by a hurricane laugh from the governor, I went

Four years passed rapidly away. I had attained my full height, and
more than my just share of inches. I already enjoyed a fair modicum of
whisker, and had even made some progress in the cultivation of a pair
of moustaches, when suddenly the house I was connected with failed.
What to do? The governor insisted upon my return to England, where his
interest among the mercantile class was considerable; Laura hinted
mysteriously that my presence in the house would soon be a matter of
great importance to her father; and mamma let out the secret, by
writing to me that Laura was going to 'change her condition.' I was
glad to hear this, for I knew he would be a model of a fellow who was
Laura's husband; and, gulping down my pride, which would fain have
persuaded me that it was unmanly to go back again like the ill
sixpence, I set out on my return home.

The family, I knew, had moved to another house; but being well
acquainted with the town, I had no difficulty in finding the place. It
was a range of handsome buildings which had sprung up in the
fashionable outskirt during my absence; and although it was far on in
the evening, my accustomed eyes soon descried through the gloom the
governor's old-fashioned door-plate. I was just about to knock, really
agitated with delight and struggling memories, when a temptation came
in my way. One of the area-windows was open, gaping as if for my
reception. A quantity of plate lay upon a table close by. Why should I
not enter, and appear unannounced in the drawing-room, a sunburnt
phantom of five feet eleven? Why should I not present the precise and
careful Laura with a handful of her own spoons and forks, left so
conveniently at the service of any area-sneak who might chance to pass
by? Why? That is only a figure of speech. I asked no question about
the matter; the idea was hardly well across my brain when my legs were
across the rails. In another moment, I had crept in by the window; and
chuckling at my own cleverness, and the great moral lesson I was about
to teach, I was stuffing my pockets with the plate.

While thus engaged, the opening of a door in the hall above alarmed
me; and afraid of the failure of my plan, I stepped lightly up the
stair, which was partially lighted by the hall-lamp. As I was about to
emerge at the top, a serving-girl was coming out of a room on the
opposite side. She instantly retreated, shut the door with a bang, and
I could hear a half-suppressed hysterical cry. I bounded on, sprang up
the drawing-room stair, and entered the first door at a venture. All
was dark, and I stopped for a moment to listen. Lights were hurrying
across the hall; and I heard the rough voice of a man as if scolding
and taunting some person. The girl had doubtless given the alarm,
although her information must have been very indistinct; for when she
saw me I was in the shadow of the stair, and she could have had little
more than a vague impression that she beheld a human figure. However
this may be, the man's voice appeared to descend the stair to the
area-room, and presently I heard a crashing noise, not as if he was
counting the plate, but rather thrusting it aside _en masse_. Then I
heard the window closed, the shutters bolted, and an alarm-bell hung
upon them, and the man reascended the stair, half scolding, half
laughing at the girl's superstition. He took care notwithstanding to
examine the fastenings of the street-door, and even to lock it, and
put the key in his pocket. He then retired into a room, and all was

I began to feel pretty considerably queer. The governor kept no male
servant that I knew of, and had never done so. It was impossible he
could have introduced this change into his household without my being
informed of it by sister Laura, whose letters were an exact chronicle
of everything, down to the health of the cat. This was puzzling. And
now that I had time to think, the house was much too large for a
family requiring only three sleeping-rooms even when I was at home. It
was what is called a double house, with rooms on both sides of the
hall; and the apartment on the threshold of which I was still
lingering appeared, from the dim light of the windows, to be of very
considerable size.

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Library mainpage -> Chambers, William -> Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 461 Volume 18, New Series, October 30, 1852