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into independence, had his friend Mr. Fox lived and continued in power. Mr. Serjeant Marshall is the author of the Treatise on the Laws of Insurance, which is a regular essay on the subject, as Mr. Park's book is only a collection of cases. Mr. Serjeant Vaughan is the brother of Sir Henry Halford, Bart., Physician to his Majesty, and has considerable practice, although I cannot say he conducts it so as to draw down my admiration. His manner is flippant and vulgar; and I have no great opinion of his profundity. Mr. Serjeant Onslow is a gentleman of family, and presides, with considerable merit, at the Surrey Quarter-Sessions.
Mr. Serjeant Rough is a rising advocate, and enjoys the “ vantage ground” of the belles lettres, being a poet and a scholar. Of the remaining Serjeants I confess myself unqualified to speak. I have attended the Court of Common Pleas but little ; and it has been but seldom that the mountain has come to Mahomet. I have occasionally seen, I believe, all these learned Serjeants in the Court of King's Bench: but, with the exception of the leaders, they go thither only to argue points of law from their respective Circuits.
It is not very lately either that I have been a frequent attend. ant of the Court of Chancery, where practise those eminent law. yers, Sirs Arthur Pigott, and Samuel Romilly, Mr. Richards, Mr. Hurt, and Mr. Leach. The former two of these gentlemen were the Whig Attorney and Solicitor-General; and Sir Samuel Romilly has since immortalized himself by his senatorial inde. pendence, and by his attempts to reform the penal code of his profession. Sir Samuel Romilly came to the bar late in his life, and at first practised in the Court of King's Bench, and went the Circuits, a duty which is seldom performed by the practicers at the Chancery Bar, on account of the lateness, in the Spring and in the Summer, at which the Lord Chancellor rises. Sir Sa. muel's bar-practice in the Court of Chancery is what Mr. Garrow's is in the Court of King's Bench; he is in almost every cause; and, as for chamber-practice, such as answering cases, of which Mr. Garrow has little, Sir Samuel is obliged very frequently to close the flood-gates of his office for months toge. ther, till he have reduced the pile of unanswered 'cases,
which lies on his table. Sir Samuel's eloquence is gentlemanlike and in. sinuating, and his voice remarkably melodious. He cannot choose but be a master of the science of equity; and he is, in every other sense of the word, a most powerful advocate, rather over than under-stating his cases. He bore down, indeed, almost all before him at the Chancery-bar, like Sir Vicary Gibbs in the Court of King's Bench, till Mr. Hart was made King's Counsel, an able and firm advocate. Should Sir Samuel Romilly ever reach the highest honour of his profession, the Bench of his Court (of which event there are no very sanguine hopes, and Sir Arthur Pigott, his senior, cannot be passed by) he will doubtless reflect equal credit upon the station itself, and the Monarch, who shall place him there ; but should he remain in the comparatively humble rank, which he at present occupies, he will have the satisfaction of enjoying both mental and personal independence, and the pleasing consciousness of having lived for his country rather than for himself. Sir Arthur Pigott has less practice; but he maintains an excellent reputation both for ability and integrity. Mr. Richards has perhaps the second de. gree of business' within the Chancery-bar: he is an intelligent and gentlemanly barrister, and has succeeded solely by his owa merits. Mr. Hart is an acute and powerful advocate, of easy eloquence, and of intimate acquaintance with every branch of the science of equity. Mr. Leach is more popular perhaps as a se. nator, than as a barrister; but he is eminent within the Chan. cery-bar, and is reckoned a learned and pleasing advocate. The remaining names of note within this bar, are those of Messrs. Alexander, Hollist, and Fonblanque,-the last gentleman the au. thor of the Treatise of Equity. Behind this bar, are many men of talent and promise, the most eminent of whom is, perhaps, Mr. Wetherell, an excellent real-property lawyer, and a spirited advocate: but Mr. Bell is reckoned by far the deepest lawyer at this whole bar, and takes the lead in the practice of equity-drawing.
With the practicers of the Court of Exchequer, the fourth and last Court of Record in Westminster-hall, I am the least of all acquainted. The principal I believe to be the Solicitor-Generat (Sir Thomas Plumer), Mr. Dallas, Mr. Leycester, and Mr. Dauncey, besides many gentlemen of the other three Courts, to whom I have already adverted. Of the King's Bench merits of two of these names I spoke in my last letter: of the other two I am not competent to judge. They are all four King's Counsel, and so are many gentlemen, whose names will not be found in my letters, because they have either ceased to practice, or are by no means eminent practitioners. The celebrated Mr. Mingay is still alive; Mr. Adam, the Member, still pleads, I believe, at the bar of the House of Lords; and Mr. Hargrave, the celebrated Conveyancer, now and then comes into the Courts to support his own opinions on real-property points. These, and many others, are either King's Counsel, or have Patents of Precedence. A Patent of Precedence is equivalent in giving rank to the appointment of King's Counsel, and does not subject the advocate to the necessity of obtaining a dispensation from the Crown before he can plead against it *. In this Court of Exchequer there are two barristers, who are called the post-man and the tub-man, from the places in which they sit, and who take precedence in motions of all others behind the bar.
barristers, “ A custom has of late years prevailed of granting Letters Patent of Precedence to such Barristers as the Crown thinks proper to honour with
I have now gossipped my paper full, and have exhausted all my information and observation upon the subject of the English bar. It certainly does not boast of much real eloquence at present; but it possesses a very considerable share of legal and other learning, and miscellaneous talent. Its respectability ranks perhaps higher than it ever did ; and the practice of crown law at the Old Bailey and the Quarter Sessions is no longer thought disreputable; nor can it ever be while those bars retain the names of Knowles (Common Serjeant), Knapp, Raine, Gurney, and Pooley. I am, &c.
Art. XI.-On the Custom of Hissing at the Theatres, with some
Account of a Club of Dumned Authors.
MR. REFLECTOR, I am one of those persons whom the world has thought proper to designate by the title of Damned Authors. In that memorable season of dramatic failures, 1806-7, in which no fewer, I think, than two tragedies, four comedies, one opera, and three farces, suffered at Drury-lane theatre, I was found guilty of constructing an afterpiece, and was damned.
Against the decision of the public in such instances there can be no appeal. The Clerk of Chatham might as well have proa tested against the decision of Cade and his followers, who were then the public. Like him I was condemned, because I could write.
Not but it did appear to some of us, that the measures of the popular tribunal at that period savoured a little of harshness and of the summum jus. The public mouth was early in the season fleshed
upon the Vindictive Man, and some pieces of that nature, and it retained through the remainder of it a relish of blood. As Dr. Johnson would have said ; sir, there was a habit of sibilation in the house.
that mark of distinction; whereby they are entitled to such rank and preaudience as are assigned in their respective patents; sometimes next after the King's Attorney-General, but usually next after his Majesty's Counsel then being. These (as well as the Queen's Attorney and Solicitor-General), rank promiscuously with the King's Counsel, and together with them sit within the bar of their respective courts, but receive no salaries, and are not sworn, and therefore are at liberty to be retained in causes against the Crowp,"-3 Black. Com. 28.
Still less am I disposed to inquire into the reason of the comparative lenity, on the other hand, with which some pieces were treated, which, to indifferent judges, seemed at least as much deserving of condemnation as some of those which met with it. I am willing to put a favourable construction upon the votes that were given against us; I believe that there was no bribery or designed partiality in the case ;-only “our nonsense did not happen to suit their nonsense;" that was all.
But against the manner in which the public on these occasions think fit to deliver their disapprobation, I must and ever will protest.
Sir, imagine but you have been present at the damning of a piece -those who never had that felicity, I beg them to imagine-a vast theatre, like that which Drury-lane was, before it was a heap of dust and ashes (I insult not over its fallen greatness, let it recover itself when it can for me, let it lift up its towering head once more, and take in poor authors to write for it, hic cæstus artemque repono)—a theatre like that, filled with all sorts of disgusting sounds-shrieks, groans, hisses, but chiefly the last, like the noise of many waters, or that which Don Quixote heard from the fulling mills, or that wilder combination of devilish sounds which St. Anthony listened to in the wilderness.
0, Mr. Reflector, is it not a pity, that the sweet human voice, which was given man to speak with, to sing with, to whisper tones of love in, to express compliance, to convey a favour, or to grant a suit—that voice, which in a Siddons, or a Braham, rouses us, in a Syren Catalani charms and captivates us, that the mu. sical, expressive human voice should be converted into a rival of the noises of silly geese, and irrational venemous snakes !
I never shall forget the sounds on my night; I never before. that time fully felt the reception which the Author of All III in the Paradise Lost meets with from the critics in the pit, at the final close of his Tragedy upon the Human Race-though that, alas! met with too much success
from innumerable tongues,
And Dipsas. For hall substitute theatre, and you have the very image of what takes place at what is called the damnation of a piece, and properly so called; for here you see its origin plainly, whence the custom was derived, and what the first piece was
that so suffered. After this none can doubt the propriety of the appellation.
But, sir,, as to the justice of bestowing such appalling, heart. withering denunciations of the popular obloquy, upon the venial mistake of a poor author, who thought to please us in the act of filling his pockets,- for the sum of his demerits amounts to no more than that it does, I own, seem to me a species of retri. butive justice, far too severe for the offence. A culprit in the pillory (bate the eggs) meets with no severer exprobration.
Indeed, I have often wondered that some modest critic has not proposed, that there should be a wooden machine to that effect erected in some convenient part of the proscenium, which an unsuccessful author should be required to mount, and stand his hour, exposed to the apples and oranges of the pit ;-this amende honorable would well suit with the meanness of some authors, who in their prologues fairly prostrate their sculls to the Audience, and seem to invite a pelting.
Or why should they not have their pens publicly broke over their heads, as the swords of recreant knights in old times were, and an oath administered to them that they should never write again.
Seriously, Messieurs the Public, this outrageous way which you have got of expressing your displeasures, is too much for the occasion. When I was deafening under the effects of it, I could not help asking, what crime of great moral turpitude I had committed : for every man about me seemed to feel the offence as personal to himself, as something which public interest and pri. vate feelings alike called upon him in the strongest possible manner to stigmatise with infamy.
The Romans, it is well known to you, Mr. Reflector, took a gentler method of marking their disapprobation of an author's work. They were a humane and equitable nation. They left the furca and the patibulum, the axe and the rods, to great of. fenders : for these minor, and (if I may so term them) extramoral offences, the bent thumb was considered as a sufficient sign of disapprobation, vertere pollicem; as the pressed thumb, premere pollices, was a mark of approving.
And really there seems to have been a sort of fitness in this method, a correspondency of sign in the punishment to the offence; for as the action of writing is performed by bending the thumb forward, the retroversion, or bending back of that joint, did not unaptly point to the opposite of that action, implying, that it was the will of the audience that the author should write no more. A much more significant, as ell as more humane, way of ex. pressing that desire, than our custom of hissing, which is altogether senseless and indefensible. Nor do we find that the Roman au,