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minutes. I was now to see a somewhat longer sitting of that secret tribunal. First came the crier, George Wood, afterwards Baron of the Exchequer, who, making proclamation with three O yez's, called on all manner of persons who owed suit and service to the Grand Court to draw near and give their attendance. I begin to doubt if these mysteries are to be written down, si sit mihi fas audita loqui. However, I shall only reveal of the things caligine mersas, what no one can regard as covered with an impenetrable veilnothing which is not matter of common conversation in presence of the uninitiated. Proclamation having been thus duly made, up rose Mr. Attorney-General Law, afterwards filling the inferior office of King's Attorney-General, now holding that of the Circuit. He gave the Court to be informed that he had an offender, though a young one, to bring before them, in the person of one Daniel Giles, Gent.; and then recited, in a count or two, the matter of his information, to wit, the delivery of letters of introduction to attorneys. He presumed a possible ignorance of the party, that he was committing a grave offence, and craved the sentence of the Court, which was then pronounced on the motion of Serjeant Cockell (called Sir John, though his name was William; but he was a great actor, and ably personated Falstaff, both in acting and in drinking, as well as in other particulars). He moved that Giles be forthwith appointed Penny Postman to the Circuit, from the genius he had shown for carrying and delivering letters. This was agreed to; and the young gentleman accordingly ever after held the place, and never after delivered any letters of introduction, I will answer for it.
When the assizes for York had nearly closed, our Grand Night was held; but its mysteries I am not to unveil. This only I may say, that the speeches of Mr. Attorney-General and Mr. Solicitor were full of a kind of wit and humour, which then seemed to me
more broad than refined; a kind of lumbering, rough, horseplay joke pervaded it; and it was so much couched in conventional forms, having such frequent allusion to circuit anecdotes, with which I then was unacquainted, that I with some difficulty could be made, by those who sat next me, to comprehend the cause of the shouts of hearty laughter which followed each pleasantry. Thus I heard the excellent and amiable and most able Holroyd called currently "the Flagitious Holroyd," and sometimes, by way of variety, "Seely Holroyd." This it seems arose from some letter that had been read at a trial, where a person of the same name (or rather, an idem sonans, for it was the Yorkshire name of Oldroyd,) had been called "that flagitious Oldroyd:" and so, when our friend had been cross-examining a witness, and pressing a question she did not much relish, she retorted with another question, "What signifies putting sike seely or (such silly) questions to a body?" No more was wanting to stamp two additions to our friend's
At this Court, our Crier, George Wood, addressed us, or rather me, for all speeches began "Mr. Junior," and my end of the table is deemed the upper end. He set forth his long services and great age, and prayed for his retirement. But this was hardly heard to an end. Mr. Attorney, as soon as the shout of indignation had subsided, presented himself with much solemnity to the Court, and declared that he had heard the proposition with an amazement, and even an horror, which he in vain attempted either to master or to describe. He expatiated on the Crier's extreme youth, as shown by his beauty, rivalling the Apollo,his nimble movements, especially his easy gait; he declared that if he were suffered to retire on such false and fraudulent pretences, no man, no institution, was safe; he therefore moved that the consideration of his application be indefinitely deferred-a form
which he declared he adopted only to save the feelings of a hitherto worthy officer of the Circuit, and to avert the indignation he saw ready to burst forth upon his head. There was immediately entered a resolution to that effect, and further, that "George Wood continually do cry;" to which I found reference made in the records, by the entry, that "the Crier had called the Court like a cherub." These allusions to his outward form originated in his being peculiarly ill-favoured, and walking in a most awkward and infirm style; so that he was sometimes termed "the Wood Dæmon" (from a melodrame then in vogue); and sometimes likened, when he became judge, to the knight at chess, on account of his peculiarly amorphous head, and the uncouthness of his movement.
He was, however, highly esteemed among us, for his profound knowledge of special pleading, his accurate understanding and sound judgment, and his inflexible honesty. He had property in Yorkshire, which involved him in tithe-suits and quarrels: hence he, both at the bar and on the bench, was a bitter enemy to the parson's claims, and, without meaning any wrong, seldom gave his case entirely fair-play. This perhaps affected him towards a great prelate, whose conduct he attacked; and when, at the episcopal palace, complaint was made of his vehement language, he shortly, and with his wonted dryness, said, “I did not think a bishop would have committed a fraud" (which he pronounced "fraad").
Among lesser qualifications, he was famous for the extreme conciseness of his style. This followed him to the bench: his charges to the jury, in explaining any matter of law, were models of clearness and of conciseness. It was not, however, very safe to set him right, when he had by mistake omitted or misrepeated any part of the evidence, for he would then say, "True, gentlemen, it is as the learned counsel says, but so much the worse for his argument."
To illustrate the singular conciseness of his manner, may be given a story which, it may well be said, "he used to tell," for I believe he never told any other, and that one he was constantly called upon to tell at the Circuit table, and always told it in the same words, and always with the same unbounded applause. It was as follows, for, having so often heard it, we knew it by heart: "A man having stolen a fish, one seeing him carry it away, half under his coat, said, Friend, when next you steal, take a shorter fish, or wear a longer coat.' In this narrative-which certainly represents the scene perfectly, and gives an epigrammatic speech-there are not above one-andthirty words-particles included.
Having mentioned the humours of the Grand Court, and said that they at first seemed mummery-and somewhat elaborate, if not tiresome mummery-to my young vision, I must now confess how entirely I was mistaken, and how even I became sensible of their great importance, for which reason I have described them. In the speeches of the great law officers, the Attorney and Solicitor-General, each leader in his turn was made the subject of comment, always jocosebut not seldom wrapping up censure upon some exceptionable proceeding,—as of manner to a junior; of tameness towards the Bench; of flattery towards the provincial grandees; of infirmity of temper towards other leaders. The joke passed away, the laugh was innocuous; but the hint was taken, and the lesson remained. Then again, a member of the Circuit had dined in company with an attorney, possibly at his country-house. This was carefully noted, and he was congratulated upon his extensive, or his very select acquaintance, for which he paid so many gallons of claret to the Circuit purse-that being the denomination of the coin in which fines were paid; or he had been seen to condole with an attorney on the loss of his wife; and was therefore himself condoled with,
by the Grand Court, on the heavy affliction which had befallen him in the melancholy decease of worthy Mrs. Quirkly. The distinguished preferment attained by D. Giles, in consequence of his love of letters, has been already mentioned. J. Allan Park had somewhat puffed Richardson to an attorney or two, as a young man of excellent promise; and stated that he had so high an opinion of him, that he had made him his executor. The Attorney-General failed not to note this in his next speech at the Grand Court, which seriously alarmed Richardson, and drew from him a solemn declaration, that he should consider any such recommendations as hostile, and not friendly acts. This, however, did not save him from the title of Executor; till some one, observing the testator's ruddy face of health, and the executor's very pale and emaciated appearance, made the two change places, and gave Richardson the name of the Defunct.
Now in all this there was implied, and not at all concealed, a most salutary watchfulness over the professional conduct of the Circuit. Every one felt that he was observed in all he did, out of court, as well as in. No one, indeed, was suffered to withdraw himself from the jurisdiction, as by not frequenting the Bar table. If any person remained several days absent from the mess, and it appeared that he had dined in his lodgings, being in good health, he was cited to appear; and, if necessary, the messenger of the Circuit, with his assistants, was despatched to bring him bodily into court. The certainty that any undue means taken to obtain practice would be visited by punishment, and if persisted in, by disgrace, even by expulsion from the Circuit, was kept ever before the eyes of all. Even the jests were subservient—ancillary, as we say-to the same end. They kept us ever in mind of the serious visitations ready at any moment to come down upon real offences; they were like the crack of the waggoner's whip, to be followed