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“In vain, poor sable son of woe,

Thou seek'st the tender tear;
From thee in vain with pangs they flow,

For mercy dwells not here.
From cannibals thou fled’st in vain ;

Lawyers less quarter give ;
The first won't eat you till you're slain,

The last will do't alive."

Unfortunately these lines have been obliterated.




N the days when Mr. Davenport Hill, the Recorder of

Birmingham, made a professional reputation for himself in the committee-rooms of the Houses of Parliament, he had many a sharp tussle with one of those venal witnesses who, during the period of excitement that terminated in the disastrous railway panic, were ready to give scientific evidence on engineering questions, with less regard to truth than to the interests of the persons who paid for their evidence. Having by mendacious evidence gravely injured a cause in which Mr. Hill was interested as counsel, and Mr. Tite, the eminent architect, and present member for Bath, was concerned as a projector, this witness was struck with apoplexy and died—before he could complete the mischief which he had so adroitly begun. Under the circumstances, his sudden withdrawal from the world was not an occasion for universal regret.

Well, Hill, have you heard the news ?” inquired Mr. Tite of the barrister, whom he encountered in Middle Temple Lane on the morning after the engineer's death. you heard that: died yesterday of apoplexy ?"

- Have

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"I can't say," was the rejoinder, “that I shall shed many tears for his loss. He was an arrant scoundrel.” Come, come,” replied the architect, charitably, "you have always been too hard on that man. He was by no means so bad a fellow as you would make him out. I do verily believe that in the whole course of his life that man never told a lie-out of the witness-box.” Strange to say, this com- 1 ical testimony to character was quite justified by the fact. This man, who lied in public as a matter of business, was punctiliously honorable in private life.

Of the simplest method of tampering with witnesses an instance is found in a case which occurred while Sir Edward Coke was Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Loitering about Westminster Hall, one of the parties in an action stumbled upon the witness whose temporary withdrawal from the ways of men he was most anxious to effect. With a perfect perception of the proper use of hospitality, he accosted this witness (a staring, openmouthed countryman), with suitable professions of friendliness, and carrying him into an adjacent tavern, set him down before a bottle of wine. As soon as the sack had begun to quicken his guest's circulation, the crafty fellow hastened into court with the intelligence that the witness, whom he had left drinking in a room not two hundred yards distant, was in a fit and lying at death’s door. The court being asked to wait, the impudent rascal protested that to wait would be useless ; and the Chief Justice, taking his view of the case, proceeded to give judgment without hearing the most important evidence in the


In badgering a witness with noisy derision, no barrister of Charles II.'s time could surpass George Jeffreys; but on more than one occasion that gentleman, in his most overbearing moments, met with his master in the witness whom he meant to brow-beat. “ You fellow in the


leathern doublet,” he is said to have exclaimed to a countryman whom he was about to cross-examine, “Pray, what are you paid for swearing ?” “God bless you, sir, and make you an honest man," answered the farmer, looking the barrister full in the face, and speaking with a voice of hearty good-humor ; “if you had no more for lying than I have for swearing, you would wear a leather doublet as well as I”

Sometimes Erskine's treatment of witnesses was very jocular, and sometimes very unfair ; but his jocoseness was usually so distinct from mere flippant derisiveness, and his unfairness was redeemed by such delicacy of wit and courtesy of manner, that his most malicious jeux d'esprit seldom rajsed the anger of the witnesses at whom they were aimed. A religious enthusiast objecting to be sworn in the usual manner, but stating that though he would not “ kiss the book,” he would “hold up his hand” and swear, Erskine asked him to give his reason for preferring so eccentric a way to the ordinary mode of giving testimony. “It is written in the book of Revelations,” answered the man, “that the angel standing on the sea held up his hand.“But that does not apply to your case,” urged the advocate; "for in the first place, you are no angel ; secondly, you cannot tell how the angel would have sworn if he had stood on dry ground, as you do.” Not shaken by this reply, which cannot be called unfair, and which, notwithstanding its jocoseness, was exactly the answer which the gravest divine would have made to such scruples, the witness persisted in his position; and on being permitted to give evidence in his own peculiar way, he had enough influence with the jury to induce them to give a verdict adverse to Erskine's wishes.

Less fair but more successful was Erskine's treatment of the commercial traveller, who appeared in the witness box dressed in the height of fashion, and wearing & starched white necktie folded with the "Brummel fold.' In an instant reading the character of the man, on whom he had never before set eyes, and knowing how necessary it was to put him in a state of extreme agitation and confusion, before touching on the facts concerning which he had come to give evidence, Erskine rose, surveyed the coxcomb, and said, with an air of careless amusement, “You were born and bred in Manchester, I perceive.' Greatly astonished at this opening remark, the man answered, nervously, that he was a Manchester manborn and bred in Manchester." Exactly,” observed Erskine, in a conversational tone, and as though he were imparting information to a personal friend—“exactly so; I knew it from the absurd tie of your neckcloth.” The roars of laughter which followed this rejoinder so completely effected the speaker's purpose that the confounded bagman could not tell his right hand from his left. Equally effective was Erskine's sharp question, put quickly to the witness, who, in an action for payment of a tailor's bill, swore that a certain dress-coat was badly. made—one of the sleeves being longer than the other. “You will,” said Erskine, slowly, having risen to crossexamine,“

swear—that one of the sleeves was- - longerthan the other ? Witness. “I do swear it.” Erskine, quickly, and with a flash of indignation, “Then, sir, I am to understand that you positively deny that one of the sleeves was shorter than the other ?” Startled into a self-contradiction by the suddenness and impetuosity of this thrust, the witness said, “I do deny itErskine, raising his voice as the tumultuous laughter died away, “ Thank you, sir; I don't want to trouble you with another question." One of Erskine's smartest puns referred to a question of evidence. "A case,” he observed, in a speech made during his latter years, “being laid

' before me by my veteran friend, the Duke of Queens

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bury-better known as 'old Q-as to whether he could sue a tradesman for breach of contract about the painting of his house; and the evidence being totally insufficient to support the case, I wrote thus: 'I am of opinion that this action will not lie unless the witnesses .do.'It is worthy of notice that this witticism was but a revival (with a modification of a pun attributed to Lord Chancellor Hatton in Bacon's Apophthegmes.

In this country many years have elapsed since duels have taken place betwixt gentlemen of the long robe, or between barristers and witnesses in consequence of words uttered in the heat of forensic strife; but in the last century, and in the opening years of the present, it was no very rare occurrence for a barrister to be called upon for 'satisfaction' by a person whom he had insulted in the_course of his professional duty. During George II.'s reign, young Robert Henley so mercilessly badgered one Zephaniah Reeve, whom he had occasion to cross-examine in a trial at Bristol, that the infuriated witness-Quaker and peace-loving merchant though he was--sent his persecutor a challenge immediately upon leaving court. Rather than incur the ridicule of 'going out with a Quaker,' and the sin of shooting at a man whom he had actually treated with unjustifiable freedom, Henley retreated from an embarrassing position by making a handsome apology; and years afterwards, when he had risen to the woolsack, he entertained his old acquaintance, Zephaniah Reeve, at a fashionable dinner-party, when he assembled guests were greatly amused by the Lord Chan'cellor's account of the commencement of his acquaintance with his Quaker friend.

Between thirty and forty years later Thurlow was called out' by the Duke 'of Hamilton's agent, Mr. Andrew Stewart, whom he had grievously offended by his conduct of the Great Douglas Case. On Jan. 14,

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