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that at times you find these things necessary in some occurrences of new circumstances; such as, when a villanous plaintiff aims at the reputation or property of his neighbour, and the injured defendant produces a number of stubborn facts to vindicate his right and expose the villain; then it becomes necessary to have recourse to etiquette and fiction, in order to puzzle, perplex, and involve the subject; to furnish an advocate with a thousand arguments, which serve to baffle a simple and honest witness; enrage the defendant, that he may hastily utter something to be caught at, which may serve to confound the jury, weary the judge, and multiply extra fees; which is the attorney's end and the client's wo.
The Saviour's similitudes and lawyers' fictions, in your opinion, are nearly synonymous. No; in my opinion, they widely differ. The Saviour's similitudes have, or have had, existence, but lawyers' fictions never had. The Lord's similitudes convey truth; lawyers' fictions convey lies. The Saviour's similitudes instructed the people ; lawyers' fictions blind and confound them. Christ conveyed spiritual treasure to the heart; the lawyer draws treasure fom the pocket. Christ fed the mind; the lawyer pinches the belly. Jesus saves the soul; the other often starves the body. Therefore the Lord's similitudes and your fictions are no more synonymous than Pharaoh's fat and lean kine: one class fed on their common food, and looked well; the other devoured their fellow kine,
but never looked the better. The one ted on grass, and throve; the other on flesh, and starved.
But do, sir, explain the ambiguous phrase, etiquette; for you are a barbarian unto me. It is like speaking into the air: you may speak well, but I am not edified; and is it not better to speak one word to edification, than ten thousand in an unknown tongue?
You tell me there is an etiquette to be observed, which, to a man unversed therein,' as you presume me to be,“ may seem absurd and ridiculous, and a violation of reason and truth, and yet consistent with both. If it be any thing that lies within the compass of natural reason and truth, why should I be so unversed therein? And, if consistent with the principles of reason and truth, why should it appear to me absurd, ridiculous, and a violation of both? Either I must be destitute of common sense and reason, or else etiquette must be something that goes beyond the common abilities given by the God of nature. I always thought that human learning sprung from the abilities which God gives to men; but according to you, it is otherwise; for there is something in etiquette consistent with reason and truth, that to a man of truth and reason may seem absurd, ridiculous, and a violation of both. You should let such words alone, unless you understand them. It exposes a man's ignorance to bring in a word that in its genuine original signification means simply a note or ticket on a bag, as Boyer's French Dictionary informs every schoolboy, and then to couple it with fictions. A ticket is one thing, a lie is another : however, the tickets in the lawyer's bag are generally contrived to take the notes out of his client's money-bag; and so far the allusion is more applicable than the writer himself seems to have been aware of.
However, though I understand not the mystery of fiction, it is plain from this piece of yours, , that it has been exploded by some who have understood it: for you tell me that ' Fictions were formerly termed an abuse of law; but, from the vicissitudes of the times, and occurrences of new circumstances, they have been a long time thought necessary, and allowed.' Times are changed indeed, if abusive fictions are become necessary! Either the ancients had more conscience, and less duplicity; or else modern wisdom has made them fools, by consecrating their abuse to a necessary good. To be plain : the term fiction, in opposition to fact, means a lie; and fact, in opposition to fiction, means the truth. I am inclined to think this is a jargon peculiar to yourself. Gipsies have their own gibberish; and every juggler has his own dialect, which serves to puzzle the wise, confound the ignorant, and blind the judicious. A fiction may
necessary to muddle a man's brains, and plunder his purse; but there is no call for it to bring iniquity to light, condemn the wicked, or justify the righteous. Therefore the ancients in terming it an abuse of law, shew their honesty;
its being now allowed of, shews the corruption of the present times; and they who use it are no better than time-servers : so that you may with justice adopt the motto of the poet; Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis; As the times change, so change we.
As a minister of the gospel, I have a right to use my liberty, and to drop a word against a dishonest lawyer or any other dishonest man, and leave conscience to apply it. And, however censorious you may think me to be, this is no new opinion. One who probably knew more of law, and lawyers too, than ever I did, or perhaps ever shall, has gone beyond me, and left his judgment of the profession in general in a very singular epitaph, which I heartily recommend to your perusal, leaving you to make your own application. The epitaph alluded to may be seen in the buryingground of St. Pancras, to the following effect: This stone is inscribed to the memory of Mr. Thomas
Abbot, of Swaffham, in the county of Norfolk, Attorney at Law; who died lamented by his friends, (enemies he had none) after a painful and tedious illness, which he bore with the patience, resignation, and fortitude of a dying man. He departed this life August 16, Anno Domini 1762. Aged 48.
Here lieth one, (believe it if you can ;)
I think it is a pity that you introduce the scriptures into your empty harangue. You might have shot your bolts at me, and let the word of God alone; for it is but a parable in the mouth of a fool at best. “ Jonathan, David's uncle, was a counsellor, a wise man, and a scribe.” He might belong to David's privy-council, be a wise politician, and a secretary of state, and yet be destitute of that wisdom which makes a man wise to salvation. We read of God's taking the wise in their own craftiness, and carrying the counsel of the froward headlong. Graceless counsellors, however wise, instead of inheriting Solomon's better portion, are entitled to the worst : “ The wise [in Christ] shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Ahithophel was one of David's counsellors, 1 Chron. xxvii. 33; "and the counsel which he counselled was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God,” 2 Sam. xvi. 23. He was David's equal, his guide, and his acquaintance; with whom he took sweet counsel, and walked to the house of God: yet all this did not entitle him to glory; nor was his end like that of the perfect and the upright, which is peace.
There were scribes who were writers and expounders of the law of God; such as Ezra, who stood in a pulpit, and read, gave the sense, and caused his audience to understand the reading, Neh. viii. 4, 8. These were spiritual lawyers, who handled the weighty matters of the law, and carried on a holy suit between God and conscience. And there are such still, who are spiritual scribes,