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lowing regulations. I. That no person should be admitted a member of the faculty of advocates, who had not attended an university for seven years. II. That no person should be admitted to trials after twenty-seven years of age, from the dan. ger of his having contractes improper habits of life in other profeffions. III. That a committee of seven shall be appointed, without whose authority no person shall be admitted to trials. These regulations received the approbation of the faculty, and were presented to the court of session to receive their sanction; but the judges, with a becoming attention to the dignity of the court, and the rights of the subject, delayed the confideration of them till next feffion.
There is fomething very extraordinary in this mode of proceeding. The reputation of the faculty of advocates, for learning; abilities, and polished manners, was never higher than at present. They boast, and with justice, in their report, that in former periods, as well as at present, they have been distinguished by members, not only eminent for their'knowledge in law, but whose general literature and knowledge did honour both to their own profeffion, and the times in which they lived, And yet, at this very moment, when their character stands the highest, they wish to alter the mode of admittance, and fut that very door by which they themselves entered to their preferment and honours ! The new restrictions proposed by the committee, and adopted by the faculty, seem chiefly intended to prevent the writers, or clerks to the signet, becoming members of the faculty of advocates. Yet, according to the present law, the bench of judges may be supplied from the clerks to the signet. • The 19th article of the treaty of union provides,
" That here. after none shall be named to be ordinary lords of session, but such who have served in the college of justices as advocates or principal clerks of session for the space of five years, or as writers to the signet for the space of ten years ; with this provision, that no writer to the fignet be capable to be admitted a lord of session, unless he undergo a private and public trial on the civil law, before the faculty of ad. vocates, and be found by them qualified for the said office, two years before he be named to be a lord of the session; yet so as the qualifi. cations made, or to be made, for capacitating persons to be named or. dinary lords of session, may be altered by the parliament of Greata Britain."
Independent of the application of these new regulations for admiffion into the faculty of advocates, to an order of men from which the bench of judges may be supplied, from a con. fideration of the general point these restrictions are unconstitutional and absurd. By the law and constitution of this country, every subject of the kingdom may betake himself to
any profeffion he pleases, at any period of his life. This is a propofition, the truth of which is universally eftablished. The proposed regulation therefore appears to be a direct violation of the liberty and common right which we enjoy by the law of the land. It is a restraint which nothing less than the omnipotence of the legislature can introduce, as being a very strong limitation of the conftitutional rights of the subject. The court of ferfion, to which the faculty of advocates applied for confirmation of their new regulations, is invested with judicative powers, but not legislative. The force of statute was even deemed requisite to confer on them the right of establishing and regulating the forms of their own judicial proceedings. The act 1540 C. 93, which ratifies the institution of the col. lege of justice, contains the following clause: “ AND ATI TOUR * gives and grants to the president, vice-precident and fenators, power to make ficke acts, statutes and ordinances, as they thall think expedient, for ordouring of procels and hasty expedition of justice".
The inexpediency of introducing a rule by which every man, who is twenty-seven years of age, thall be excluded from the bar, as a profeffion, is obvious at first view. It excites our aftonishment, that in fo learned a fociety as the faculty of advocates, and near a century after the revolution, the principles of despotilim should be found to prevail over the liberal fpirit and generous sentiments of liberty. From the monopolizing spirit of a petty corporation, such illiberal restrictions might bave been expected; but the very idea of them, from a society of learned men, throws an indelible reproach on their fame, and confirms the opinion of their southern neighbours, that the genius of Scotland is hostile to freedom. To limit and depress the powers of the mind, by rendering the condition of men stationary ; to suppress the exertions of capacity and talents, by confining honour and emolument, to persons of a particular description, is the very genius of despotic govern,
An attempt to narrow the scene of merit in so confpicuous a manner as is proposed in these regulations, and to circumfcribe the powers of the mind in the very bloom of life, is inconfiftent with the principles of free government; and contary to what is to be found in the annals of
civilised nation. Were the records of biography to be traced, it would be found, that a great part of the most illustrious cha sacters, in all ages and countries, were men who came late into those profeffions, in which their talents were brought forth to the world. Men of indolent dispositions, and ordinary talents, continue in the condition where accident or parental choice had placed them. From the ascendency of fortune in
all human affairs, men are frequently arranged in stations inferior to their merit, or unsuitable to their genius ; and if their ambition was to be extinguished by illiberal regulations, talents would remain in obfcurity, which might be exercised for the benefit of mankind, and the honour of their country. Some of the moft eminent prelates, and even primates of the church of England, were not originally destined to the church. Tillotson and Secker were educated among the diffenters. The brother of the present Dean of Faculty at Edinburgh, and other English counsellors who figure at the bar, bad attempted other profeffions before they found out the threatre which was adapted to their talents. The fame observation applies to Scotland. Phyficians, who are at the head of the medical line in the University of Edinburgh, were once furgeons in country villages or provincial towns. The bar, and the bench too, have received foine of their brightest ornaments from the army, the university, and the fignet. The celebrated Viscount of Stair, universally acknowledged to be the purest as well as deepest fountain of Scottish law, was a captain of horse, and had reached his fortieth year when he came to the bar, Lord Tinwald held a professor's chair in Edinburgh, before he difplayed his eloquence at the bar, or his wisdom on the bench, Lord President Cragie, and Lord Kaims, were bred clerks to the fignet.
To fix the æra when the human faculties begin to unfold, is beyond the power of man.
Scit genius natale, comes, qui temperat aftrum.
Naturæ Deus humana, and he alone, the period when the powers of the mind begin to open and to shine. And to check or circumfcribe their vigour, or their lustre, is contrary to the order of nature and the interests of society. We hope that a selfish and tyrannical project, , the offspring of little jealousy, and the monopolizing fpirit, intended to thwart the powers of genius, and limit the sphere of merit, will find no encouragement in an age, in which science and humanity have gained victories and erected trophies.
Liber fum : nihil quod ad libertatem pertinet â me alienum puto. The memorial which hath given rise to these reflections is fen. fible and spirited, in a very high degree. :
It is to be regretted, however, that it is not upon fale at the shops of the baoksellers. As it regards a very public matter, it ought surely to be circulated in the fullest form. To check the spirit of domination in public focieties, is a virtue in a state, which has freedom for the object of its institution. It is from insidious attacks like the present, that the liberty of this couns try has much to fear. Many small encroachments must be
made, before any grand assault can take place upon the fabric of our government. It is always of use to give battle to the adorers of tyranny ; it defeats a present danger ; it calls repeatedly the virtuous citizen to the recollection of patriotism, and it teaches the slave to frown, to despair and to tremble. The author, accordingly, of the performance before us, is intitled to the best thanks of the friends of freedom ; and, while we must applaud the candid liberality of his mind, we must acknowledge that he can not only think with clearness and precision, but express himself with purity and elegance.
Art. XIII. The Heiress ; a Comedy, in Five Afts. By Lieutenant
General Burgoyne. 8vo. is. 6d. Debret. London, 1786. 1 T has long been a reproach to the English among foreign na
tions, and deeply felt by persons of taste and refinement at home, that our comic theatre is polluted with indecency, obfcenity and farce. The freedom of the English government, the independence and opulence of its subjects, give rise to a greater variety of character, than is to be met with in other countries : comic humour is, in a particular manner, the characteristic of the people: comic representations too are their favourite entertainment ; yet how few comedies are there in our language, which a man of taste would chuse to see represented before virtuous women, or to read in the closet to his wife, his daughter, his fifter, or his mistress, in the modest sense of the word? The comedies of Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar are distinguished by wit, humour, and character, but they are disfigured by vice and false ridicule ; and the licentiousness is so interwoven with the texture of the fable, that all attempts to strip them of their meretricious allurements, and adapt them to the chaste tafte of a refined audience, have failed of success. Of late years comic representations have been improved with regard to the morality of the performance ; but while they were innocent, most of them were insipid ; the anruals of the season, which appear, perifh and are forgotten. The regulated drama which, uniting the excellencies of the French and English theatres, blends energy, spirit, force of character, and the vis comica, with art, elegance, delicacy, touches of sen
timent, and the expression of polished manners, hath been often I wished for, but seldom found. In this view 6 The Heiress” is
in a high degree intitled to the approbation of the public; and, as a genteel comedy, ranks in the first line. It abounds with a variety of incidents ; but there is an unity of interest preserved through the whole ; and the theatre is never perplexed and entangled with a multiplicity of business. It contains happy and comic situations, without those stage-tricks, which are contrived to draw the applause of the galleries. The characters are natural, well discriminated and supported. The dialogue is written with spirit and elegance, though there is sometimes a want of ease. It is difficult to form a judgment of a play from independent paffages, but the following extract will, we believe, convey a favourable idea of this performance.
Lady Emily. -But here comes the 'Alscrip and her friend : lud! lud! lud! how shall I recover my spirits ! I must attempt it; and if I lose my present thoughts in a trial of extravagance, be it of their's or my own, it will be a happy expedient.
Enter Miss Alfcrip and Mrs. Blandish.
Miss Alfcrip runs up to Lady Emily and kisses her forehead. Lady Emily. I ask your pardon, Madam, for being so aukward, but Iconfefs I did not expect fo elevated a salute.
Mass Alfcrip. Dear Lady Emily, I had no notion of its not being universal. In France, the touch of the lips just between the eyebrows has been adopted for years.
Lady Emily. I perfectly acknowledge the propriety of the custom, It is almost the only spot of the face where the touch would not rik a confufion of complexions.
Mifs Alfcrip. He! he! he! what a pretty thought !
Mrs. Blandish. How I have long'd for this day!--Come, let me put an end to ceremony, and join the hands of the sweetest pair that ever nature and fortune marked for connection. (Foins their hands,)
Miss Alfcrip. Thank you, my good Blandis, tho' I was determined to break the ice, Lady Emily, in the first place I met you. But you were not at Lady Doricourt's last night. '
Lady Emily (affectedly). No, I went home directly from the Opera ; projected the revival of a cap, read a page in the trials of temper; went to bed, and dream'd I was Belinda in the Rape of the Lock,
Mrs. Blandish. Elegant creature.
Miss Afcrip (afide). I must have that air, if I die for it. (Imitating) I too came home early; fupped with my old gentleman ; made him explain my marriage articles, dower, and heirs entail ; read a page in à trial of divorce, and dreamed of a rose-colour equipage, with em. blems of cupids issuing out of coronets !
Mrs. Blandish. Oh, you sweet twins of perfection! what equality in every thing! I have thought of a name for you— The inseperable inimitables.
Miss Áfcrip. I declare I shall like it exceedingly-one fees fo few uncopied originals--the thing I cannot bear.
Lady Emily. Is vulgar imitation-I must catch the words from your mouth to fhew you how we agree.
Miss Afcrip. Exactly. Not that one wishes to be without affectation. Lady Emily. Oh I mercy forbid !
Miss Alfcrip. But to catch a manner, and weave it, as I may say, into one's own originality, Mrs. Blandish. Pretty! Pretty!