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should their talents irradiate beyond this point, they will be the most proper persons, nay, will generally become dramatic authors; but if their genius concentrates here, they fall within
definition of three fourths of mankind, whose abilities never soar above mediocrity.
In studying the law then, we learn men and manners, by precept and example ist by precept.
In examining the spirit of the law of nations, as far as respects the policy of states, we observe the prejudices of party, the petulance of faction, and schemes of general government. By pursuing the inquiry further (for history is absolutely blended with the study of the law) we learn the manners of the party who composed a faction, their views, and how far their interest had led them to make a stretch of power subservient to their passions. By going a very little further, we learn what these passions were, which gave elasticity to the springs of action, and particular movement to the whole machine. I could trace my arguments farther, by examining the characters of eminent legal personages, as connected with the history of our own civil government; but I should perhaps exceed the limits allowed for an essay of this kind.
The second point is easily discussed: by intercourse, that is what I mean by example, (for I suppose a lawyer has the most extensive intercourse with mankind, of any person in being) he comes to a very accurate knowledge of human nature, not only by the society he must move in, to increase his connexions, but by the observations he must make of the manners of mankind, that he may be able forcibly to appeal to the passions of every person who is qualified to compose a part of the jury of his country. A considerable degree of knowledge is acquired also, from attending courts of judicature; a variety of eccentric characters appear as witnesses; or, if he wishes now and then to be acquainted with the infamous modes of deceit, so often practised on the unsuspecting stranger in this great city, his attendance on criminal prosecutions, or knowledge of the crown bar, as treated by Colquhoun, will enable him to dive into the depths, and develop the mysteries which disgrace the opulent metropolis we live in. If he possess this fund of useful information, if he can exhibit a picture of these vices in the face of day, who is so proper a person as himself, “ to hold the mirror up to nature?” Thus by precept and example, the student of the bar obtains a knowledge of men and manners. I will say nothing
of the vacant time he has on his hands, when perhaps to improve his powers of speaking, he attends theatres, and imbibes an early desire for stage productions and exhibitions.
As I have transgressed all bounds, I will take up a page or two of your next number, with a few more remarks, while I conclude this essay by observing, that I think, I have now proved, that the genius of a student at the bar, leads him to the knowledge of mankind; if then his talents irradiate beyond this point, he will become a dramatic author.
For the Mirror of Taste.
Mr. Editor, You have compelled me to reveal some other unfortunate incidents of my character, which a man of so tender and delicate nerves might wish buried in obscurity and silence. In my last communication I hinted that a certain lady to whom my addresses were paid, discontinued her favourable regards because I was convicted of eating pea-nuts,* while Othello was smothering Desdemona. This lady was a sprightly widow, beautiful in her appearance, but what riveted my adoration, she inherited a large patrimonial estate without any children by her former husband, which I should have regarded in the light of mortgages. She seemed to entertain no unfavourable opinion of the match until the adventure of the pea-nut unfortunately exposed that nonchalance trait of my character, which I now do not hesitate to acknowledge. She was possessed by nature of a strong sensibility that had been heightened and inflamed by the study of novels and romance. An union between two of characters so opposite would have resembled a wedlock between a sunbeam and an icicle. However, I persevered in defiance of the pea-nut, and might probably have overcome the antipathy occasioned by that incident, had it not been my misfortune to have been opposed by a formidable rival. This
wore an epaulette that I did not much regard; but the truncheon that intersected his person in a right line was to me, an object of more serious contemplation. Knowing the passion of my Amanda for novels, and how poorly I was qualified to perform the character of Rinaldo, I laboured with all my might and main
“ Ground nuts.".
to persuade her that a duel was no criterion of courage. I told her that it was my determination to make a bold stand against the caprice of the day, and if civilly invited to a contest of that kind to give decisive evidence of my courage by declining the invitation. The greatest men of antiquity looked upon their lives as in some sort the property of the public, and consequently inferred that the public alone had a right to the disposal. Sir, I never saw a pistol or a sword, but what I felt a certain foreboding anxiety that
my life was intimately connected with the safety of the commonwealth. And in times so perilous as the present, is it not the duty of one who feels for his country's honour, one who abhors duelling, to reserve his life for great and important occasions? Notwithstanding these arguments are so obvious, nothing is more common, and to the shame of the age I proclaim it, than to behold the names of some of my brother patriots posted in our public papers as pitiful poltroons and cowards. Now, sir, to bear this with becoming dignity is in my mindithe criterion of courage.
. These arguments so obvious and irresistible I attempted with all the eloquence in my power to impress upon the mind of my Amanda. I was perfectly aware of the prejudices of the public, and how ungrate that body is prone to be for the important services which patriots of my class intend to render their country. She listened with much attention, and I flattered myself that I had made a proselyte to my principles. My military rival, in the affections of Amanda, had before this broad avowal of my motives behaved towards me with the courtesy of a gentleman. We exchanged salutes very cordially, and I was by long practice enabled to look with some composure on the instrument that dangled by his side. From some cause or other, and to me it was perfectly inscrutable, his whole demeanor suddenly underwent a total alteration. He never returned my civility, but passed me with an indifference bordering on contempt. If I happened to meet him in the company of Amanda, he engrossed all the conversation, rioted on every smile, and left me the solitary consolation of fumbling my watch key in a neglected corner of the room. I remonstrated against his conduct with becoming indignation, and to my utter astonishment received a message of the following import. I hope Mr. Editor, you will pardon the illegibility of my writing; for iny hand, at the distance of fourteen years from the time of the trans VOL. III.
action, shakes with such violence I can hardly preserve the mastery of my pen.
Sir, The language which you uttered last night was such as no gentleman can hear. My demand is that you give me instant reparation. My friend, to whom I have communicated my intentions will make every necessary arrangement. Yours, &c.
After I had acquired sufficient composure to hold the pen, I returned the following answer:
Sir, The tenor of your note is too plain to be doubted. I have to observe in reply, that my country to whom my life is devoted, cannot dispense with the services of her patriots, which puts me under the inevitable necessity of declining your invitation. You must observe, sir, that this is no choice of mine, but forced upon me by circumstances over which I have no control; and I hope that no perseverance on your part will compel me to resort to the laws of my country for protection.
Thus, Mr. Editor, ended this controversy; but the sequel of my courtship may easily be imagined. Amanda tired of my addresses informed my military rival of my determination if I should ever be summoned to the field, and suggested this expedient to put an end to my visits. The result was, that my rival inherits the lands I fell in love with, and that I shall ever hereafter remain the bachelor,
The following review is extracted from a British publication of high repute. We think it interesting, as it contains not only some acute and well written observations on the personal requisites of Cooke and Kemble for their profession, but some opinions equally just and ingenuous respecting the country and people of England. The Stranger in England; or, Travels in Great Britain. Containing Re
marks on the Politics, Laws, Manners, Customs, and distinguished Characters of that Country; and chiefly its Metropolis: with Criticisms on the Stage. The whole interspersed with a variety of Characteristic Anecdotes. From the German of C. A. G. Goede. In Three Volumes, 12mo.; 15s. Matthews and Leigh, London: 1807.
The statements and opinions of Englishmen, with respect to other countries, have always been perused here with great avidity; but as we can neither confirm nor refute the accounts they are pleased to deliver to us, the authors, no doubt, frequently give a loose to imagination; and, when they are at a loss for facts, substitute whatever comes uppermost, without regard either to truth or probability. Their maxim is to elevate and surprise, and, setting detection at defiance, they boldly follow the career of Baron Mun. chausen, resolved to be equally marvellous, if they cannot rival him in entertainment. The Stranger in England, on the contrary, is more likely to deceive himself than us: if he says his mind freely, his remarks will merit our attention; he will exhibit to us, in their true colours, many manners and customs to which our national prejudice has given a hue that does not properly belong to them; and even his own prejudices (for what country is without them?) will afford matter for reflection and inquiry that may prove both interesting and useful.
M. Goede seems to be an ingenuous and intelligent writer; and, as far as we are enabled to judge, has taken a close and pretty accurate survey of our country. He arrived in England in 1802, just before the peace of Amiens, and remained here nearly two years. On his return to Germany he communicated his observations to his countrymen in five volumes, from which the most interesting parts are extracted in this translation.
The author commences with a liberal, and we feel happy in adding, a just compliment to our nation, “ where (he says,) the genius of commerce has erected his standard, and the goddess of liberty has fixed her abode.”
« The generality of travellers found their expectation respecting the national wealth of this country, upon the airy visions of their own heated brains. They figure to themselves magnificent castles for the nobles, streets composed of splendid palaces for the rich, and every exterior of pomp and luxury: while the people form a back ground to their picture, grouped in miserable classes of poverty and wretchedness. But what do they find the reality? Here princes, lords, and commons, inhabít one description of houses; and many a wealthy Englishman devotes his life to the simplicity and domestic comforts of retirement.-No powerful baron presumes to aim at unbecoming preeminence; misery retires to the asylum which humanity provides for its relief; and an enviable equality is every where visible. The people appear to govern, while they obey; and never, on important questions, are they to be awed into a passive and abject submission."