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Wishing to keep his official expenditure down to the lowest possible sum, a certain sheriff for Cumberland-called in A Northern Circuit,' Sir Frigid Gripus Knapper-directed his under-sheriff not to give white gloves on the occasion of a maiden assize at Carlisle, and also through the mouth of his subordinate, declined to pay the officers of the circuit certain customary fees. To put the innovator to shame, Sir William Gascoigne, the judge before whom the case was laid, observed in open court, "Though I can ompel an immediate payment, it being a demand of right, and not a mere gift, yet I will set him an example by gifts which I might refuse, but will not, because they are customary," and forthwith addressing the steward, added-" Call the sheriff's coachman, his pages, and musicians, singing-boys, and vergers, and give them the accustomed gifts as soon as the sheriff comes." From this direction, readers may see that under the old system of presents a judge was compelled to give away with his left hand much of that which he accepted with his right. It appears that Sir William Gascoigne's conduct had the desired effect; for as soon as the sheriff made his appearance, he repudiated the parsimonious conduct of the under-sheriff- though it is not credible that the subordinate acted without the direction or concurrence of his superior. "I think it," observed the sheriff, in reference to the sum of the customary payments, "as much for the honor of my office, and the country in general, as it is justice to those to whom it is payable; and if any sheriff has been of a different opinion it shall never bias me."
From the days when Alexander Wedderburn, in his new silk gown, to the scandal of all sticklers for professional etiquette, made a daring but futile attempt to seize the lead of the circuit which seventeen years later he rode as judge, The Northern' has maintained the prestige of
being the most important of the English circuits. Its palmiest and most famous days belong to the times of Norton and Wallace, Jack Lee and John Scott, Edward Law and Robert Graham; but still amongst the wise white heads of the upper house may be seen at times the mobile features of an aged peer who, as Mr. Henry Brougham, surpassed in eloquence and intellectual brilliance the brightest and most celebrated of his precursors on the great northern round. But of all the great men whose names illustrate the annals of the circuit, Lord Eldon is the person most frequently remembered in connexion with the jovial ways of circuiteers in the old time. In his later years the port-loving earl delighted to recall the times when as Attorney General of the Circuit Grand Court he used to prosecute offenders against the peace of our Lord the Junior,' devise practical jokes for the diversion of the bar, and over bowls of punch at York, Lancaster, or Kirkby Lonsdale, argue perplexing questions about the morals of advocacy. Just as John Campbell, thirty years later, used to recount with glee how in the mock courts of the Oxford Circuit he used to officiate as crier, "holding a fire-shovel in his hand as the emblem of his office;" so did old Lord Eldon warm with mirth over recollections of his circuit revelries and escapades. Many of his stories were apocryphal, some of them unquestionably spurious; but the least truthful of them contained an element of pleasant reality. Of course Jemmy Boswell, a decent lawyer, though better biographer, was neither duped by the sham brief, nor induced to apply in court for the writ of 'quare adhæsit pavimento;' but it is quite credible that on the morning after his removal in a condition of vinous prostration from the Lancaster flagstones, his jocose friends concocted the brief, sent it to him with a bad guinea, and proclaimed the success of their device. When the chimney-sweeper's boy met his
death by falling from a high gallery to the floor of the court-house at the York Assizes, whilst Sir Thomas Davenport was speaking, it was John Scott whoarguing that the orator's dullness had sent the boy to sleep, and so caused his fatal fall-prosecuted Sir Thomas for murder in the High Court, alleging in the indictment that the death was produced by a "certain blunt instrument of no value, called a long speech." The records of the Northern Circuit abound with testimony to the hearty zeal with which the future Chancellor took part in the proceedings of the Grand Court-paying fines and imposing them with equal readiness, now upholding with mock gravity the high and majestic character of the presiding judge, and at another time inveighing against the levity and indecorum of a learned brother who had maintained in conversation that "no man would be such a
fool as to go to a lawyer for advice who knew how to get on without it." The monstrous offender against religion and propriety who gave utterance to this execrable sentiment was Pepper Arden (subsequently Master of the Rolls and Lord Alvanley), and his punishment is thus recorded in the archives of the circuit:-"In this he was considered as doubly culpable, in the first place as having offended against the laws of Almighty God by his profane cursing; for which, however, he made a very sufficient atonement by paying a bottle of claret; and secondly, as having made use of an expression which, if it should become a prevailing opinion, might have the most alarming consequences to the profession, and was therefore deservedly considered in a far more hideous light. For the last offence he was fin'd 3 bottles. Pd."
One of the most ridiculous circumstances over which the Northern Circuit men of the last generation delighted to laugh occurred at Newcastle, when Baron Grahamthe poor lawyer, but a singularly amiable and placid man,
of whom Jeckyll observed, "no one but his sempstress could ruffle him"-rode the circuit, and was immortalized as 'My Lord 'Size,' in Mr. John Shield's capital song
"The jailor, for trial had brought up a thief,
Whose looks seemed a passport for Botany Bay;
Attorneys and clients, more angry than wise;
"Oft stretch'd were their necks, oft erected their ears,
The horror-struck crowd to the dead-house quick hies;
And now the Sandhill with the sad tidings rings,
Came tail-on-end jumping to see my Lord 'Size.
"The dead-house they reach'd, where his lordship they found,
Most gravely enquiring the cause of his death.
Or wishful, perhaps, of prolonging the treat
Of thus sitting in judgment upon my Lord 'Size.
"Now the Mansion House butler, thus gravely deposed:'My lord on the terrace seem'd studying his charge
And when (as I thought) he had got it compos'd,
And souse in the river straight tumbled Lord 'Size.'
'Now his narrative ended, the butler retir'd,
Whilst Betty Watt, muttering half drunk through her teeth, Declar'd in her breast great consarn it inspir'd,
That my lord should sae cullishly come by his death;' Next a keelman was called on, Bold Airchy by name,
Who the book as he kissed showed the whites of his eyes, Then he cut an odd caper attention to claim,
And this evidence gave them respecting Lord 'Size;—
"Aw was settin' the keel, wi' Dick Slavers an' Matt,
An' the Mansion House stairs we were just alongside,
'Ods marcy! wey, marrows, becrike, it's Lord 'Size
"Sae aw huik'd him, an' haul'd him suin into the keel,
"Now the jury for close consultation retir'd:
Some Death Accidental' were willing to find; 'God's Visitation' most eager requir'd;
And some were for 'Fell in the River' inclin'd; But ere on their verdict they all were agreed,
My Lord gave a groan, and wide opened his eyes; Then the coach and the trumpeters came with great speed, And back to the Mansion House carried Lord 'Size."