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cisions are upon a given point, the difference between one who is a lawyer and nothing more, and a man of ripe and general cultivation, is not perceptible; but, when the problem proposed is the elucidation of a new point, in which the truth is to be sought by the help, not of direct but of indirect and collateral light, the superiority of the latter over the former is made manifest. His habits of reflection, of tracing effects to causes, and of reasoning from given data to the establishment of contested propositions, enable him to tread firmly in those untried paths, in which the man of forms and precedents stumbles with uncertain and unsteady steps.
We should be guilty of gross injustice to Mr. Hoffman, if we omitted to mention, with the highest commendation, the tone of moral feeling, which breathes from every page of his work. He loses no opportunity to impress upon the mind of the youthful student, that it is not enough for him to be a good lawyer, and a good scholar, but that he must also be a good man, and that the highest attainments are imperfect, without that delicate moral sense which feels a stain like a wound, and that resolute moral strength which makes a man subunit to be torn in pieces rather than do what he knows to be wrong. His remarks on professional deportment are conceived and written with an energy and glow, which remind us of some of the most eloquent passages in the ethical writings of Cicero. These portions of his work we most earnestly recommend to our young legal friends, to confirm and enlighten that moral sensibility which the young are not often without, but which so many cast aside, as an unprofitable incumbrance, after they have begun to run the world's race. Let them read again and again the Resolutions in regard to professional deportment, in the latter part of the second volume, which could have been written only by one, who, in all the various perplexities of an extensive practice, had preserved a spotless purity of moral feeling, and in whom the instinctive sense of right had been aided and strengthened by practical good sense and clear mental discrimination. They are valuable, as giving distinctness and definiteness to principles which are vague, because general ; and they sustain the same relation to a rule of conduct, which the problems in arithmetic and algebra do, to the formula by which they are solved. There is hardly one of the whole forty, about which there can be any doubt; and though a few of them may seem to betray a dainty and fastidi
ous sense of professional decorum, the fact that they proceed from so high an authority should lead one to suspend his opinion, and inquire whether his own standard may not require elevation. We cannot but reflect (with a sigh at the contrast presented by the actual state of things), how different and how much more attractive an aspect the profession and practice of the law would assume, were these to become the ruling principles of even any considerable portion of the members of the bar. How would those needless asperities and irritations disappear, which goad a gentle nature into madness, or sonething like it, and petrify a stubborn one into stone. How would the dark places be enlightened, and the crooked paths be made straight! But why contemplate a picture, whose ideal hues only serve to make the harsh tints of reality more unsightly?
We feel strongly upon this subject, because the practice of the law is full of peril to the moral nature, and because we fear that we are not improving in this respect. We have been assured, by some of our seniors, not particularly given to the croaking mood, that in their younger days there was a bigher standard of character and a better tone of feeling among lawyers, a more unbroken courtesy in their intercourse with each other, and a more unerring moral sense presiding over their relations to their clients. To these representations, however, we do not yield implicit credence, knowing, that from the time of Nestor downwards, it has been the habit of those who have passed into the lengthening shadows of life, to disparage the things that are, and magnify those which have been. But it cannot be doubted that, comparisons apart, there is very great room for improvement. We have ourselves heard advocates, in their addresses to the jury, (especially where they closed) wilfully pervert and color the testimony of witnesses, in a manner it was inelancholy to hear. We have seen witnesses themselves treated with an insolent rudeness, betokening as much want of moral feeling as of courtesy and humanity. We have known of lawyers, degrading their honorable profession by mean and dirty tricks, for which the most appropriate punishment would be a ducking in a horse-pond." 'Without assenting exactly to the comparison, which likens courts of justice to a chimney, that carries off the smoke, which would Otherwise render the house uninhabitable, we are aware, that there are so many disagreeable circumstances attending the practice of the law, that a lawyer who is disposed to make the most of his privileges, may render himself a very uncomfortable person to every one, with whom he comes in contact ; and we feel also that one who is at the same time a good lawyer and a bad man, is a perfect caput lupinum, upon whom honest men have a right (morally speaking) to set their dogs, as upon a wolf or a bear.
Those moral perils, which we have spoken of as encompassing the practice of the law, are of two kinds ; one, of obvious and palpable ones, against which he who is forewarned is fore-armed. There is danger that the professional man, in his zeal for his client's success, will not examine the quality of the means by which that success may be attained ; and that he will surrender his conscience into his client's hands, and plead his instructions as an apology for oppression or dishonorable conduct ; than which a more lame apology was never offered, none more savouring of that odious sophistry by which a man endeavours to drown the remonstrances of his own outraged moral sense. There is danger, too, that in his intercourse with his brethren, he will obey the law of selfishness, rather than the law of honor or the law of love, and endeavour to gain paltry advantages, by disingenuous suppressions of the truth, by treacherous surprises, by wilful procrastination, and a surly, disobliging temper, which makes the most of accident, oversight, and forgetfulness. The love of money too will beset him with continual temptation. It will tempt him to give such advice as shall be beneficial to his own interests, and fan the expiring embers of ill-will till they kindle into a broad blaze of litigation. It may constrain him to forget the distinction between his own money and that which is intrusted to him on behalf of others, and may lead him into that petty and reprehensible form of dishonesty, which unnecessarily delays the payment of a just due.
Besides these, and others like them, in which he who sins, sins against light, there are other perils, perhaps more formidable, because less obvious. There is danger, that the habit of constantly taking and supporting one side of a contested question, may in time extinguish the power of separating what is true from what is false, and that evil shall wear no different likeness from good. Abeunt studia in mores,
" is a remark peculiarly applicable to the studies and employments of the bar. Lawyers, too, are in the habit of seeing so much of the
guilt and infirmities of humanity, and of contemplating its darkest side, that they are in imminent peril of losing all respect for, and sympathy with, human nature, and 'degenerating into cold-blooded skeptics and sneering misanthropes. He who enters upon the profession with the resolve that the man shall never dwindle into a fractional part of the lawyer, will not fail to guard against these and all other malign influences, by all sorts of purifying, elevating, and softening exercises; and Mr. Hoffman's eloquent pages will furnish powerful moral talismans to sustain and defend the pilgrim on his dim and perilous way.
Mr. Hoffman earnestly recommends to the student, to take up some one of the four courses of study which he prescribes, and go through with it. We have no doubt that a faithful attention to the most limited of the four would be enough to make one a sound and competent lawyer ; but we doubt whether many will undertake it ; and we do not consider the chief value of the work to consist in the courses of study which it prescribes, simply as courses. There are different ways of learning law, as well as of learning any thing else ; and each mind selects the course most congenial to its nature. Without wishing to discourage hard study (without which nothing great was ever accomplished), the fact that a man may read more books than is good for him, is as true in law as in other things. It is very possible for a man to be as much encumbered with his book-learning, as David was with Saul's armour Great learning requires great powers to make it efficient. The club of Hercules, without the arm of Hercules to wield it, is but a harmless piece of timber. The great value of the “ Course of Legal Study” to the practising lawyer, will be found to consist in the help which it will afford in the investigation of law points. It is an admirable catalogue raisonnée to the vast treasures of the Roman, continental, and common law. Here one sees, at a glance, the path of inquiry opened to him; and all he has to do is to pursue it with resolute steps. So extensive, thorough, and profound is Mr. Hoffman's learning, that the most experienced practitioner, and the best read lawyer, cannot fail to derive benefit from his labors, especially in such questions as require them to seek the foreign aid of the European and ancient Roman law.
But the great merit of this work consists in the beneficial influence which it is calculated to exert upon young lawyers VOL. XLVI. NO. 98.
and law students. It is emphatically the student's friend. It is written with a glow of professional enthusiasm, which mature years and long commerce with the world have not had power to chill ; and which, though it may move the ridicule of the frivolous, and the sneer of the morose, cannot fail to awaken a throb of responsive feeling in an ingenuous and manly bosom. Here may be found the most judicious advice on books and study, elegant criticism and ripe learning, all conveyed in those cordial tones of encouragement, which are calculated to rouse the indolent, animate the desponding, and confirm the aspiring. The tone of the work is uniformly elevated, addressing itself to the highest and best principles of our nature, and leading the young to the pure and unfading sources of honor, happiness, and respectability. The constant reply of Lagrange to the young men who consulted him respecting their mathematical studies, was, “ Study Euler ; ” and in like manner we should say to every law student from Maine to Louisiana, “ Study Hoffman." Without the “Course of Legal Study,” we should deem the most ample law library imperfect. We want no better test than this work supplies, to judge of a young man's fitness to excel in the profession of the law. If he read it with coldness and apathy, lay it down without reluctance, and return to it as a task, we should tell him frankly, that he had mistaken his vocation, that the stuff was not in him out of which a lawyer could be made ; and we should advise him to seek some other more congenial employment. But if he take it up with eagerness and close it with regret, study diligently the didactic portions, and read the eloquent passages with sparkling eyes and glowing cheek, we should joyfully encourage him to persevere; we should confidently predict his future eminence; we should see already within his grasp, the laurel of the advocate and the ermine of the judge.
We take leave of Mr. Hoffman with sincere acknowledgments for the pleasure which his work has afforded us, and assure him that it will give us much gratification to hear from him again. We hope that he will continue to enrich the jurisprudence of our country, with those harvests which his yeare of study and reflection have given him.