Lawyers Sermon Illustrations

Lawyers Sermon Illustrations

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Curran

A farmer, attending a fair with a hundred pounds in his pocket, took the precaution of depositing it in the hands of the landlord of the public-house at which he stopped. Having occasion for it shortly afterwards, he repaired to mine host for the amount, but the landlord, too deep for the countryman, wondered what hundred was meant, and was quite sure no such sum had ever been lodged in his hands. After many ineffectual appeals to the recollection, and finally to the honour of Bardolph, the farmer applied to Curran for advice. "Have patience, my friend," said Curran; "speak to the landlord civilly, and tell him you are convinced you must have left your money with some other person. Take a friend with you, and lodge with him another hundred in the presence of your friend, and then come to me." We may imagine the vociferations of the honest rustic at such advice; however, moved by the rhetoric of the worthy counsel, he followed it, and returned to his legal friend. "And now, sir, I don't see as I'm to be better off for this, if I get my second hundred again—but how is that to be done?" "Go and ask him for it when he is alone," said the counsel. "Aye, sir; but asking won't do I'm afraid, and not without my witness, at any rate." "Never mind, take my advice," said the counsel; "do as I bid you, and return to me." The farmer returned with the hundred, glad at any rate to find that safe again his possession. "Now I suppose I must be content, though I don't see as I'm much better off." "Well, then," said the counsel, "now take your friend with you, and ask the landlord for the hundred pounds your friend saw you leave with him." We need not add, that the wily landlord found that he had been taken off his guard, while our honest friend returned to thank his counsel exultingly, with both of his hundreds in his pocket.


Mr. Curran was once engaged in a legal argument; behind him stood his colleague, a gentleman whose person was remarkably tall and slender, and who had originally intended to take orders. The judge observing that the case under discussion involved a question of ecclesiastical law; "Then," said Curran, "I can refer your lordship to a high authority behind me, who was once intended for the church, though in my opinion he was fitter for the steeple.


A Good Example

Chamillart, comptroller-general of the finances in the reign of Louis XIV., had been a celebrated pleader. He once lost a cause in which he was concerned, through his excessive fondness for billiards. His client called on him the day after in extreme affliction, and told him that, if he had made use of a document which had been put into his hands, but which he had neglected to examine, a verdict must have been given in his favour. Chamillart read it, and found it of decisive importance to his cause. "You sued the defendant," said he, "for 20,000 livres. You have failed by my inadvertence. It is my duty to do you justice. Call on me in two days." In the meantime Chamillart procured the money, and paid it to his client, on no other condition than that he should keep the transaction secret.


Legal Point

A few years ago it happened that a cargo of ice was imported into this country from Norway. Not having such an article in the Custom house schedules, application was made to the Treasury and to the Board of Trade; and, after some little delay, it was decided that the ice should be entered as "dry goods;" but the whole cargo had melted before the doubt was cleared up!


Lord Brougham tells the following story. It is a curious instance of the elucidation of facts in court.—During the assizes, in a case of assault and battery, where a stone had been thrown by the defendant, the following clear and conclusive evidence was drawn out of a Yorkshireman.—"Did you see the defendant throw the stone?" "I saw a stone, and I'ze pretty sure the defendant throwed it." "Was it a large stone?" "I should say it wur a largeish stone." "What was its size?" "I should say a sizeable stone." "Can't you answer definitely how big it was?" "I should say it wur a stone of some bigness." "Can't you give the jury some idea of the stone?" "Why, as near as I recollect, it wur something of a stone." "Can't you compare it to some other object?" "Why, if I wur to compare it, so as to give some notion of the stone, I should say it wur as large as a lump of chalk!"


Questioning

Sir John Fielding gave a curious instance in the case of an Irish fellow who was brought before him when sitting as a magistrate at Bow-street. He was desired to give some account of himself, and where he came from. Wishing to pass for an Englishman, he said he came from Chester. This he pronounced with a very rich brogue, which caught the ears of Sir John. "Why, were you ever in Chester?" says he. "To be sure I was," said Pat, "wasn't I born there?" "How dare you," said Sir John Fielding, "with that brogue, which shows that you are an Irishman, pretend to have been born in Chester?" "I didn't say I was born there, sure; I only asked your honour whether I was or not."


Thelwall, when on his trial at the Old Bailey for high treason, during the evidence for the prosecution, wrote the following note, and sent it to his counsel, Mr. Erskine: "I am determined to plead my cause myself." Mr. Erskine wrote under it: "If you do, you'll be hang'd:" to which Thelwall immediately returned this reply: "I'll be hang'd, then, if I do."


Peter the Great, being at Westminster Hall in term time, and seeing multitudes of people swarming about the courts of law, is reported to have asked some about him, what all those busy people were, and what they were about? and being answered, "They are lawyers." "Lawyers!" returned he, with great vivacity, "why I have but four in my whole kingdom, and I design to hang two of them as soon as I get home."


A Sheepish Lamb

Counsellor Lamb (an old man, at the time the late Lord Erskine was in the height of his reputation) was a man of timid manners and nervous disposition, and usually prefaced his pleadings with an apology to that effect; and on one occasion, when opposed to Erskine, he happened to remark that "he felt himself growing more and more timid as he grew older." "No wonder," replied the witty but relentless barrister, "every one knows the older a lamb grows the more sheepish he becomes."


A learned serjeant, since a judge, being once asked what he would do if a man owed him £10, and refused to pay him. "Rather than bring an action, with its costs and uncertainty," said he, "I would send him a receipt in full of all demands." "Aye," said he, recollecting himself, "and I would moreover send him five pounds to cover possible costs."

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