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of the counties. There should, Lord Denman thinks, be such a reform of abuse, such a sweeping abolition of fiction and verbiage-those pets of English lawyers--the establishment of such an intelligible course of procedure in our courts, as will be satisfactory to the public and conducive both to the honour and interest of our profession.
With great deference to the noble and learned lord, this can only be achieved by making the superior courts almost on a footing with the County Courts. That is the only standard of what is “ satisfactory to the public.”
The first step towards doing this is to multiply the circuits to at least six times a year; to reduce the fees to the same or nearly the same amount as the County Courts; to give them exclusive jurisdiction in all suits where more than 501. is claimed; and in all those actions which they now have an exclusive right to try, such as ejectment, libel, &c. The pleadings, moreover, would require to be reduced to the same level as in the County Court suits. The superior courts, or a single judge in either of them, should also hear all appeals from the inferior courts. Exclusive audience should be of course reserved to barristers in the superior courts. One judge would suffice for each circuit.
If such measures be adopted, the profession of the Bar may be preserved with benefit instead of injury to the public. Any other mode of doing so will only degrade the profession and deteriorate the character of public justice, by making the interests of the nation subserve those of an isolated class.
We confess that we are and have been prone to cling with great partiality to our old and revered forms of law; perhaps too much so; and to hope, even against hope, that a system, the parent of so pure a jurisprudence as ours, might well-with moderate adaptations to the progress and requirements of the times-continue and endure with the empire it has strengthened and adorned. This seems to be no longer possible; and alterations of a character far beyond administrative changes and mere improvements must be inevitable, when they are recommended by a mind so masterly, and a judgment so matured, as those of Lord Denman.
It is indeed no vain fear which the learned Lord expresses, that the present system may end by extinguishing the very class of men from whom the judges of both courts can be supplied. We confess that we see no other means of keeping the Bar in existence, than such an one as we have ventured to trace.
The project recently entertained, of allowing clients to instruct counsel, is so derogatory to their position, and would prove so subversive of their respectability, that we trust it will not be renewed. It might, however, be advantageously provided, that in all cases tried, even in the County Courts, where the damages are above 201., counsel should have exclusive audience whereever three barristers were present. This would make a very material difference, and secure them some amount of business in these courts ; the attorneys, in such cases, being also secured their fee as at present. The entire addition to the suitor would be the 1l. 3s. 6d. payable to counsel, and this would surely be no serious drawback from the economy of an extension of cheap justice-so great, that from 201. to 801. are saved in the great majority of causes over the old mode of trying them.
The abandonment of the old system of Pleading seems to be the sore point with a large portion of the profession. Now the object of pleading is simply to advertise the parties respectively of the cause of action and the kind of defence, by means of which a triable issue is joined. This is done every day in the County Courts when the suit is about to be heard. The great objection arising from this is, that, although the judge may easily take care that the issue is properly raised, it may so happen that it is one which either of the parties may not have anticipated, and the proceeding with the trial would under such circumstances be an obvious injustice. The remedy is to give the judge full power to adjourn the hearing, on such terms as he may think fair. This is done in the County Courts, and it certainly is attended by very little if any inconvenience.
The “ Times” thus comments on the prospect opened to the profession by the County Courts :
"But if, as we believe, the chief legal business will hereafter be transferred to the County Courts, the character, the rules of conduct, and the established morality of those who practise in those courts assume an importance equal to that hitherto attaching to the rules of Westminster Hall. The immense body of persons who have hitherto been accustomed, in the various characters of attorneys, barristers, and judicial functionaries, to contribute to the administration of the law in the metropolis, will, in fact, soon be scattered in separate groups over the country. The great mass of business will be done in the county courts. The law will be kept uniform by means of a central court of appeal, for which a very restricted bar will be found sufficient. If this great change is effected rapidly, as everything induces us to believe it will be, the practical question is immediately suggested-will it be wise to continue the distinction heretofore existing between the two branches of the profession, and thus enable a provincial bar to arise round each county court, with all the rules which have been hitherto adopted, or shall we entirely break down the distinction between barristers and attorneys, and trust to chance for the good government of those by whose means the law is to be administered? We certainly ought to bear in mind that throughout the United States of America the barrister and attorney are onethe client from whom you to-day have received your instructions you may to-morrow represent in court. In the populous cities of the United States the division of employments does indeed arise, although the law unites the characters of counsel and attorneys. Legal firms, consisting of two or more partners, divide the labour of the profession among them—the one partner seeing the clients, the other representing them in court. But the advantage which we believe to follow the legal division, in the shape of a more nice and strict rule of conduct, is not so likely to result from this merely convenient arrangement. Eager competition will become unscrupulous. The supervising public not being numerous, the profession not being guarded by a body of leaders peculiarly amenable to public opinion, rapacity and recklessness may, we fear, become the characteristics of the lower grades of the judicial hierarchy-corruption of the higher."
We trust no such amalgamation will ever occur as that which subsists in America: it must lower the body from whom our judges spring, and the whole status of jurisprudence be deteriorated, an evil for which no convenience could compeusate.
ART. X.-LORD CHANCELLOR COTTENHAM.
more distinguished contemporary, the subject of the present notice, followed him to the grave. Long friendly competitors at the bar, and practising constantly in the same court, they both took their seats in the House of Lords on the same day, at the opening of parliament in 1836: they both in their turn presided as Master of the Rolls in the court in which they had worked out for themselves fame and fortune; and there is but little doubt that, had Lord Langdale's health permitted, he would have succeeded his friend and rival on the woolsack. The promotion was in each instance at first unlooked for, and regarded with suspicion by the public and the bar : but both judges vindicated by their conduct on the bench the discernment, or the good fortune, which had marked them for such elevation.
It can hardly be doubted, however, that great as were the judicial qualifications of the late chancellor (and notwithstanding all his faults, we would point him out as one of the greatest judges that have ever adorned the bench) it was his political views which chiefly led to his promotion. And a more unflinching partisan never earned a coronet. The judicial excellence wbich he displayed after his elevation was a matter of surprise to all—to none more than to the political friends who had placed him there. No display of talent, no early promise, no vigorous effort of mature years, could have influenced the selection. Entering at the usual time at the University of Cambridge, he took the degree of B. C. L. at Trinity, in 1803, without any extraordinary distinction :' and he had long before he took his degree (an unusual proceeding) entered his name on the books of Lincoln's Inn, so early as January, 1801, when he was little more than nineteen years of age : a pledge at once and an earnest of his self-dedication to the genius of law. He studied the usual time at the chambers of a special pleader; having selected for that purpose the guidance of Mr. Tidd, the celebrated legal foster father of so many of our most eminent judges during the last twenty years. As Mr. Pepys intended to practise exclusively on the equity side of Westminster Hall (an intention to which, although at that time unusual, he strictly adhered) he continued his studies after quitting Mr. Tidd's chambers, under the auspices of the late Sir Samuel Romilly, and was called to the bar in 1804. But notwithstanding the early and undeviating devotion with which he had thus steadily completed a course of study much longer than that previously undertaken, the golden fruits of so much and such particular toil were not to be plucked yet. It was not until the year 1821, when he had completed the mature age of forty years—a period to which a successful barrister rarely defers his settlement in life-that Mr. Pepys felt sufficient confidence in his future to undertake the responsibilities of a family. On the 30th of June in that year he married the daughter of Mr. Wingfield, and niece to the present Earl of Digby, by whom he has had twelve children, six sons and six daughters, all of whom, we believe, as well as Lady Cottenham, survive. And it was not until the close of the year 1826, twenty-two years after he had been called to the bar, that Mr. Pepys exchanged his stuff gown for the silken dignities of a king's counsel. With the long delay however of such promotion, his political views may have had something to do; though this is improbable, Mr. Pepys never having up to that time taken any part in public life, and his first efforts when he did at length venture upon the arena of the House of Commons, not being such as either to excite exultation among his friends, or to inspire terror in the ranks of his opponents.
' Lord Langdale died at Tunbridge Wells on Good Friday, 18th April, 1851: Lord Cottenham, at Lucca, on the 29th of the same month.
In 1830, however, he made his first step in that political arena, where he was destined so shortly afterwards to play one of the
· There was at that time no examination in going out in law.
most prominent parts; being named Solicitor-General to the Queen-Consort. And in 1831 he made his first appearance in the House of Commons, representing Lord Fitzwilliam's borough of Malton, for which he was, on bis subsequent promotions as Solicitor-General to the crown, and Master of the Rolls, from time to time re-elected, and for which he continued to sit until he took his seat in the House of Lords, as Chancellor, at the opening of Parliament, in 1836.
His first essays at St. Stephen's however, though respectable, conveyed no promise ; and the most that can be said for his last efforts in the Lower House is, that they disappointed none. During the five years in which he occupied a seat in the House of Commons, whether as a private meniber, or while connected with the government, he spoke but seldom ; nor did any of his speeches aim at being more than common sense; praiseworthy chiefly in this, that they never descended to commonplace. However, the liberal party at that time were absolutely suffering the last straits of famine for want of legal talent; and after shelving more than one unfortunate experiment as incompetent or impracticable, they at length found themselves reduced (as it was thought) to Mr. Pepys; who accordingly was, in February 1834, appointed Solicitor-General (in the place of Sir Wm. Horse, who retired to a mastership in Chancery), and knighted : and in the month of September following the same inevitable necessity, which appeared to guide the steps of the then ministry in lieu of choice, raised Sir Charles Christopher Pepys, on the decease of Sir John Leach, to the Mastership of the Rolls, and the honours of a Privy-Councillor. Little did they know the man when they placed him there : little did they suspect how invaluable the ally would eventually prove, whom they were thus putting in training for the woolsack. And well it was for Sir Charles that the appointment sheltered from the storms and uncertainties of politics, fell vacant at the time it did; for in the ensuing month the liberals being no longer able to carry on their maladministration, at least in the then state of feeling of the country, resigned, to wake way for Sir Robert Peel's brief but brilliant ministry of 1834-5. 1 The flourishing eulogium of the
new Master of the Rolls by Lord Brougham, on taking leave of the Court of Chancery (3 M. & K., last page) goes for nothing. The length of time the seals remained in commission after the readyent of the Whigs to power is unanswerable. Sir Charles was known to be a keen partisan ; if he had been also known to possess such admirable judicial powers as Lord Brougham's eulogium expressed, why was he not made Lord Chancellor in 1835 ?- What attribute did he want? There was no competitor, whose rival merits could perplex the ministry. Yet the seals remained in commission for eight months.