Lawyers Sermon Illustrations

Lawyers Sermon Illustrations

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Sir William Jones and Thomas Day

One day, upon removing some books at the chambers of the former, a large spider dropped upon the floor, upon which Sir William, with some warmth, said, "Kill that spider, Day; kill that spider!" "No," said Mr. Day, with coolness, "I will not kill that spider, Jones: I do not know that I have a right to kill that spider. Suppose, when you are going in your coach to Westminster Hall, a superior Being, who perhaps may have as much power over you as you have over this insect, should say to his companion, 'Kill that lawyer, kill that lawyer!' how should you like that, Jones? and I am sure, to most people, a lawyer is a more noxious animal than a spider."

Sir Fletcher Norton was noted for his want of courtesy. When pleading before Lord Mansfield, on some question of manorial right, he chanced unfortunately to say, "My lord, I can illustrate the point in an instant in my own person: I myself have two little manors." The judge immediately interposed, with one of his blandest smiles, "We all know that, Sir Fletcher."

The Stocks

Lord Camden once presided at a trial in which a charge was brought against a magistrate for false imprisonment, and for putting the plaintiff in the stocks. The counsel for the magistrate, in his reply, said, the charges were trifling, particularly that of putting in the stocks, which everybody knew was no punishment at all. The chief justice rose, and leaning over the bench, said, in a half whisper, "Brother, were you ever in the stocks?" "In the stocks, my lord! no, never." "Then I have," said his lordship, "and I assure you, brother, it is no such trifle as you represent." His lordship's knowledge of the stocks arose from the following circumstance. When he was on a visit to Lord Dacre, his brother-in-law, at Alveley in Essex, he walked out one day with a gentleman remarkable for his absence of mind. When they had reached a hill, at some distance from the house, his lordship sat down on the parish stocks, which stood by the road side; and after some time, asked his companion to open them, as he wished to know what kind of punishment it was; this being done, the absent gentleman took a book from his pocket, and sauntered about, until he forgot both the judge and his situation, and returned to Lord Dacre's house. When the judge was tired of the experiment he had so rashly made, he found himself unable to open the stocks, and asked a countryman who passed by to assist him. "No, no, old gentleman," replied Hodge, "you was not set there for nothing, I'll be bound!" Lord C. protested his innocence, but in vain; the countryman walked on, and left his lordship to meditate for some time longer in his foolish situation, until some of Lord Dacre's servants, chancing to pass that way, released him.

Hanging Judge

Counsellor Grady, in a late trial in Ireland, said, he recollected to have heard of a relentless judge; he was known by the name of the Hanging Judge, and was never seen to shed a tear but once, and that was during the representation of The Beggar's Opera, when Macheath got a reprieve!

It was the same judge, we believe, between whom and Mr. Curran the following pass of wit once took place at table. "Pray, Mr. Curran," said the judge, "is that hung beef beside you? If it is, I will try it." "If you try it, my lord," replied Mr. Curran, "it is sure to be hung."

Keep to the Point

Lord Tenterden contracted such an inveterate habit of keeping himself and everybody else to the precise matter in hand, that once, during a circuit dinner, having asked a country magistrate if he would take venison, and receiving what he deemed an evasive reply, "Thank you, my lord, I am going to take boiled chicken," his lordship sharply retorted, "That, sir, is no answer to my question; I ask you again if you will take venison, and I will trouble you to say yes or no, without further prevarication."

Longs and Shorts

There were two barristers at the Irish bar who formed a singular contrast in their statures. Ninian Mahaffy, Esq., was as much above the middle size as Mr. Collis was below it. When Lord Redesdale was Lord Chancellor of Ireland, these two gentlemen chanced to be retained in the same cause, a short time after his lordship's elevation, and before he was personally acquainted with the Irish bar. Mr. Collis was opening the motion, when the lord chancellor observed, "Mr. Collis, when a barrister addresses the court, he must stand." "I am standing on the bench, my lord," said Collis. "I beg a thousand pardons," said his lordship, somewhat confused. "Sit down, Mr. Mahaffy." "I am sitting, my lord," was the reply to the confounded chancellor.

Lord Kaimes used to relate a story of a man who claimed the honour of his acquaintance on rather singular grounds. His lordship, when one of the justiciary judges, returning from the north circuit to Perth, happened one night to sleep at Dunkeld. The next morning, walking towards the ferry, but apprehending he had missed his way, he asked a man whom he met to conduct him. The other answered, with much cordiality, "That I will do with all my heart, my lord. Does not your lordship remember me? My name's John ——, I have had the honour to be before your lordship for stealing sheep!" "Oh, John! I remember you well; and how is your wife? She had the honour to be before me too, for receiving them, knowing them to be stolen." "At your lordship's service. We were very lucky; we got off for want of evidence; and I am still going on in the butcher trade." "Then," replied his lordship, "we may have the honour of meeting again."

During the long vacation, the sergeant usually retired to his country seat at Rowell in Northamptonshire. It happened, during one autumn, that some of the neighbouring sportsmen, among whom was the present Earl Spencer, being in pursuit of a fox, Reynard, who was hard pressed, took refuge in the court-yard of this venerable sage. At this moment the sergeant was reading a case in point, which decided that in a trespass of this kind the owners of the ground had a right to inflict the punishment of death. Mr. Hill accordingly gave orders for punishing the fox, as an original trespasser, which was done instantly. The hunters now arrived with the hounds in full cry, and the foremost horseman, who anticipated the glory of possessing the brush, was the first to behold his victim stretched lifeless on the ground, pinioned to the earth by plebeian pitchforks. The hunters were very anxious to discover the daring culprit who had presumed to deprive the field and the pack of their prey; when the venerable sergeant made his appearance, with his book in his hand, and offered to convince them that execution had taken place according to legal authority. The sportsmen got outrageous, but the learned sergeant was not intimidated; he knew the force of his authorities, and gravely invited the attention of his auditory to a case from one of the old reporters, that would have puzzled a whole bar of modern practitioners to controvert. The effect was ludicrous; the extraordinary appearance of the worthy sergeant, not in his bargown, but in what these adventurous mortals called a mere bedgown; the quaintness of his manner, the singularity of the occurrence, and the novelty of the incident, threw them completely out.

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