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There are, at this time, the most distinguished talents at the bar: but there hath been a complaint for a long while, and justly, of a sad de. clension *
The Chancellor D'AGUESSEAU, who, in discharging the functions of his public employment, hath acquired the greatest renown in this age,
is universally esteemed a man of extraordinary abi lities; a profound lawyer; a correct and elegant writer. But I am not aware that the public opinion allows him the same superiority as an Orator, although he hath handled many subjects worthy of the highest strains of Eloquence. This illustrious magistrate was not as yet possessed of all the strength of his genius when he employed himself on subjects of a rhetorical nature ; and it would be doing him injustice to judge of his talents by a small number of discourses which were the earliest productions of his youth.
Advocates, in general, do not take sufficient pains with their causes. They are more copious
proached.'-ROLLIN's Belles Lettres, vol. ii. ch. iii. $3, Art. ii. p. 262-266.
See the various useful remarks of the same author on the Eloquence of the Bar, vol. ii. ch. iii. 9 3, throughout.
* Mr. Knox finds occasion to observe, that the Elo. quence of the bar is greatly degenerated from that liberal
Oratory which immortalized Cicero'.-See his strictures on this subject in his Liberal Education, $ xx. p. 189.
than vehement; and many of them sacrifice glory to vanity, by lengthening out their pleadings, that they may engross more attention from a public audience.
But it is not enough, to shew one's self; it is necessary to be held in admiration when one wishes to become celebrated.
Nor ought it to be concealed, that literary men, who are accustomed to write with more care, have a marked superiority over Advocates, whenever they assume their profession.
Neither Le MAITRE nor PATRU* occupy the first place in the French Bar. This honour is reserved for PELISSON t, who hath deserved im
* PATRU was the first,' says Voltaire, 'who introduced correctness and purity of language in pleadings.' He obtained the reputation of a most exact speaker and excellent writer, and was esteemed so perfectly knowing grammar and his own language that all his decisions were submitted to as oracles. Born 1604, died 1681..-Biog. Dictionary.
† Pelisson composed three famous pleadings on behalf of Fouquet, who had been his patron, and Superintendant of the Finances, but afterwards disgraced. Voltaire says, • they resemble those of the Roman Orator, the most of any * thing in the French language. They are like many of “Cicero's Orations; a mixture of judicial and state affairs, • treated with an art void of ostentation, and with all the ornaments of an affecting Eloquence.'-General Biog. Dict.
• Pelisson was one of the finest geniuses of the seven* teenth century. He excited the admiration of all around
mortal fame by composing his memoirs for the superintendant Fouquet : but above all for Arnaud, who hath, himself, surpassed all advocates in “The Apology for the English Catholics,” accused of a conspiracy against King Charles II. in 1678. Read that eloquent discussion. What tears will not Arnaud draw from you upon the death of the virtuous Viscount Stafford! An Orator, without attempting to be one, he does not discover any design to affect you: but, by the simple recital of facts, merely by logical arguments, by the depositions of the witnesses upon which the Catholics were condemned, he irrefragably proves their innocence, he moves your compassion for the fate of the unfortunate persons, whose misfortunes he recounts, and he stamps with perpetual infamy the memory of the famous Oates, who invented that absurd calum ny*. Never was moral demonstration carried him: his · Preface to the works of Sarrasin,' is reckoned a master-piece in its way. • He was,' says Voltaire, “an • indifferent poet, but a man of great eloquence and learn. ing:'-—New Biog. Dict.
* M. Maury expresses himself like a zealous Catholic. It must, at the same time, be owned, that much of the virulence of party animosity between Protestants and Papists distinguished the transactions of the reign of Charles II. The trial and conviction of the Jesuits and of Stafford, with all the concomitant circumstances attending these events, have given rise to a difference of opinion respecting the innocence or guilt of that unfortunate nobleman. Without deciding on the subject, the reader is referred to Humne's History of England; also to Titus Oates's Narrative of the Popish Plot, with other Tracts on the same subject, 1679.
farther. Nor ought we to forget that in this work Arnaud justifies the Jesuits whom he hated, and defends their cause with a zeal as noble as affecting.
It were doubtless to be wished, that this celebrated Arnaud had always selected subjects equally proper for the display of his talents. He was only in his twenty eighth year, when Des Cartes consulted him on his Physical Medita* tions,' and was astonished at the depth of his genius. He was born with the spirit of a warrior. The works he composed were chiefly polemical. But he deserves to be ranked amongst the most eloquent men of his age. We know that he was a most profound grammarian, and that he equalled Malbranche in metaphysics. Boileau esteemed him as his oracle in poetry; he remained constantly attached to him notwithstanding his long misfortunes ; and afterwards rendered homage to the merit of this illustrious exile, in his epitaph for Bourdaloue, whom he styles, “ after Arnaud, the most illustrious man in France*.”
* After this brief sketch of the Eloquence of French Ad. yocates, it will afford the reader no unpleasing comparison if he turn his thoughts to the English Bar. The Editor confesses that he should deem it a reflection on the gentlemen of the learned profession, were he to circumscribe the number of eloquent men among them within as narrow bounds as the Abbe does those of his nation.
tance so perceptible, between the Advocates of the French Bar, and the Orators of the Roman Senate, by suggesting the different interests which were entrusted to them. Cicero, I know, has sometimes had the glory of being styled “the “ Defender of the Republic;" but did he pot often undertake causes of less importance ? and are not most of his Orations devoted to the affairs of his fellow-citizens? This great man wanted not an extraordinary Auditory in order to display all the riches of his genius. He was more eloquent when he pleaded before the Roman people, than when he spoke in the presence of Cæsar.
His Oration for Ligarius is written in a charming style ; but it is not considered as the most eloquent of his works. Cicero requests the life
The English Bar has long continued to be a school for Eloquence. There, some of our greatest Statesmen and Parliamentary Orators have been formed for eminence.While the names of Harcourt, Hardwicke, Blackstone, and others, are left on record, and such men who still exist are mentioned, as Mansfield, Thurlow, Loughborough, Pitt, Erskine, and others, the reputation of the English Bar is secured, and the noblest patterns are presented for the imitation and laudable emulation of others of the same learned body who are rising into public notice and estimation,