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serious project, and insisted that the author should give a specimen of the style of his contemplated work. Whereupon the young barrister--not pausing to remind à company of lawyers of the words of the original: “Tenant in fee simple is he which hath lands or tenements to hold to him and his heirs for ever.”_-recited the lines

“He that holdeth his lands in fee

Need neither to quake nor quiver,
Thumbly conceive: for look, do you see

They are his and his heirs' forever.” The mimicry of voice being not less perfect than the verbal imitation, Yorke's hearers were convulsed with laughter, but so unconscious was Sir Lyttleton of the ridicule which he had incurred, that on subsequently encountering Yorke in London, he asked how “that translation of Coke upon Littleton was getting on.” Sir Lyttleton died in 1732, and exactly ten years afterwards appeared the first edition of “The Reports of Sir Edward Coke, Knt., in Verse'-a work which its author may have been inspired to undertake by Philip Yorke's proposal to versify ‘Coke on Littleton.'

Had Yorke's project been carried out, lawyers would have a large supply of that comic but sound literature of which Sir James Burrow's Reports contain a specimen in the following poetical version of Chief Justice Pratt's memorable decision with regard to a woman of English birth, who was the widow of a foreigner:

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( Chorus of Puisne Judges.)
“Living the husband; but him dead

It doth revive again.”

Chief Justice Pratt's decision on this point having been reversed by his successor, Chief Justice Ryder's judgment was thus reported:

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In the early months of his married life, whilst playing the part of an Oxford don, Lord Eldon was required to decide in an important action brought by two undergraduates against the cook of University College. The plaintiffs declared that the cook had “sent to their

an apple-pie that could not be eaten.The defendant pleaded that he had a remarkably fine fillet of veal in the kitchen. Having set aside this plea on grounds obvious to the legal mind, and not otherwise then manifest to unlearned laymen, Mr. John Scott ordered the apple-pie to be brought in court; but the messenger, dispatched to do the judge's bidding, returned with the astounding intelligence that during the

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progress of the litigation a party of under-graduates had actually devoured the pie—fruit and crust. Nothing but the pan was left. Judgment: “The charge here is, that the cook has sent up an apple-pie that cannot be eaten. Now that cannot be said to have been uneatable which has been eaten; and as this apple-pie has been eaten, it was eatable. Let the cook be absolved.

But of all the judicial decisions on record, none was delivered with more comical effect than Lord Loughborough's decision not to hear a cause brought on a wager about a point in the game of Hazard.' A constant frequenter of Brookes's and White's, Lord Loughborough was well known by men of fashion to be fairly versed in the mysteries of gambling, though no evidence has ever been found in support of the charge that he was an habitual dicer. That he ever lost much by play is improbable; but the scandal-mongers of Westminster had some plausible reasons for laughing at the virtuous indignation of the spotless Alexander Wedderburn, who, whilst sitting at Nisi Prius, exclaimed, “Do not swear the jury in this case, but let it be struck out of the paper. I will not try it. The administration of justice is insulted by the proposal that I should try it. To my astonishment I find that the action is brought on a wager as to the mode of playing an illegal, disreputable, and mischievous game called “Hazard;' whether, allowing seven to be the main, and eleven to be a nick to seven, there are more ways than six of nicking seven on the dice ? Courts of justice are constituted to try rights and redress injuries, not to solve the problems of the gamesters. The gentlemen of the jury and I may have heard of ‘Hazard' as a mode of dicing by which sharpers live, and young men of family and fortune are ruined; but what do any of us know of seven being the main,' or

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'eleven being the nick to seven ? Do we come here to be instructed in this lore, and are the unusual crowds (drawn hither, I suppose, by the novelty of the expected

I entertainment)to take a lesson with us in these unholy mysteries, which they are to practice in the evening in the low gaming-houses in St. James Street, pithily called by a name which should inspire a salutary terror of entering them? Again, I say, let the cause be struck

I out of the paper. Move the court, if you please, that it may be restored, and if my brethren think that I do wrong in the course that I now take, I hope that one of them will officiate for me here, and save me from the degradation of trying 'whether there be more than six ways of nicking seven on the dice, allowing seven to be the main and eleven to be a nick to seven'—a question, after all, admitting of no doubt, and capable of mathematical demonstration.”

With equal fervor Lord Kenyon inveighed against the pernicious usage of gambling, urging that the hells of. St. James's should be indicted as common nuisances. The 'legal monk, as Lord Carlisle stigmatized him for his violent denunciations of an amusement countenanced by women of the highest fashion, even went so far as to exclaim-“If any such prosecutions are fairly brought before me, and the guilty parties are convicted, whatever may be their rank or station in the country, though they may be the first ladies in the land, they shall certainly exhibit themselves in the pillory."

The same considerations, which decided Lord Loughyborough not to try an action brought by a wager concerning chicken-hazard, made Lord Ellenborough decline to hear a cause where the plaintiff sought to recover money wagered on a cock-fight. “There is likewise," said Lord Ellenborough, “another principle on which I think an action on such wagers cannot be maintained.

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They tend to the degradation of courts of justice. It is impossible to be engaged in ludicrous inquiries of this sort consistently with that dignity which it is essential to the public welfare that a court of justice should always preserve. I will not try the plaintiff's right to recover the four guineas, which might involve questions on the weight of the cocks and the construction of their steel spurs.”

It has already been remarked that in all ages the wits of Westminster Hall have delighted in puns ; and it may be here added, with the exception of some twenty happy verbal freaks, the puns of lawyers have not been remarkable for their excellence. L'Estrange records that when a stone was hurled by a convict from the dock at Charles I.'s Chief Justice Richardson, and passed just over the head of the judge, who happened to be sitting at ease and lolling on his elbow, the learned man smiled, and observed to those who congratulated him on his escape, “ You see now, if I had been an upright judge I had been slaine.” Under George III. Joseph Jekyll* was at the same time the brightest wit and most shameless punster of Westminster Hall; and such pride did he take in his reputation as a punster, that after the fashion of the wits of an earlier period he was often at considerable pains to give a pun a well-wrought epigrammatic setting. Bored with the long-winded speech of a prosy sergeant, he wrote on a slip of paper, which was in due course passed along the barristers' benches in the court where he was sitting

* One of Jekyll’s best displays of brilliant impudence was perpetrated on a Welsh judge, who was alike notorious for his greed of office and his want of personal cleanliness. “My dear sir,” Jekyll observed in his most amiable manner to this most unamiable personage, "you have asked the minister for almost everything else, why don't you ask him for a piece of soap and a nail-brush ?”

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