Archive for April 22nd, 2018

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Lecture I from “The Pleader’s Guide” by John Anstey

This is from The Pleader’s Guide, a Didactic Poem in Two Parts: Containing Mr. Surrebutter’s Political Lectures on the Conduct of a Suit at Law, including the Arguments of Counsellor Bother’um, and Counsellor Bore’um, in an Action for Assault and Battery, betwixt John-a-Gull and John-a-Gudgeon.

Of legal Fictions, Quirks, and Glosses,
Attorneys’ gains, and Clients’ losses,
Of Suits created, lost, and won,
How to undo, and be undone;
Whether by Common Law, or Civil,
A man goes sooner to the Devil,;
Things which few mortals can disclose
In Verse, or comprehend in Prose,
I sing—do thou, bright Phoebus, deign
To shine for once in Chanc’ry-lane;
And, Clio, if your pipe you’ll lend
To Mercury, the Lawyer’s friend,
That Usher of the golden rod,
Of Gain and Eloquence the God,
Shall lead my steps with guidance sure,
Safe through the” palpable obscure,
And take my parchments for his labour
To cover your harmonious tabour.
“Pindus to wit“—or where you chuse,—
At Lincoln’s Inn, or Arethuse,
For Bards and Lawyers, both with ease,
May place the Venue where they please;
No matter where an action’s laid,
A Contract or a Poem made:
Is there a proud o’erbearing wight
Who tramples on his neighbour’s right,
Superior in his own opinion
To Lawyers, and the Law’s dominion?
Say, what compulsive mode of action .
Must give the injur’d, satisfaction;
What forms, what fictions must combine
To make the parties Issue join;
And better may enable those
Who draw their Pleas, or Briefs compose,
To hold the balance of success
With such precision and address,
That both the combat may sustain,
And neither the advantage gain;
But when ’tis o’er and judgment given,
The scales may prove so just and even,
That each may venture to make oath
The Law’s impartial to them both;
When both in rags their folly rue,
The Victor and the Vanquish’d too?

Hear then, and deign to be my readers,
Attorneys, Barristers, and Pleaders,
Shrieves, Justices, and Civil Doctors,
Surrogates, Delegates, and Proctors,
Grave Judges too, with smiles peruse
The sallies of a Lawyer’s Muse.
A buxom lass, who fain would make
Your sober sides with laughter shake;
And, good my Lords, be kind and gracious,
And, though You deem her contumacious,
Ne’er to the Fleet, or Bridewell send her,
But spare a ludicrous offender,
Who longs to make your muscles play,
And give your cheeks a holiday.

Hear me, ye Wits, and critics too,
And learned Dames in Stocking blue,
And you, ye Bards, my book who dip in,
In hopes to catch its Author tripping,
Some Mercy still, and Justice shew him,
And purchase ere you damn his Poem.

But chiefly thou, dear Job, my friend,
My kinsman to my verse attend;
By education form’d to shine
Conspicuous in the pleading line,
For you, from five years old to twenty,
Were cramm’d with Latin words in plenty,
Were bound apprentice to the Muses,
And forc’d with hard words, blows, and bruises,
To labour on Poetic ground,
Dactyls and Spondees to confound,
And when become in Fictions wise,
In Pagan histories and lies;
Were sent to dive at Granta’s cells,
For Truth in Dialectic wells,
There duly bound for four years more
To ply the Philosophic oar,
Points metaphysical to moot,
Chop logic, wrangle, and dispute;
And now, by far the most ambitious
Of all the sons of Begersdicius,
Present the Law with all the knowledge
You gather’d both at School and College.
Still bent on adding to your store
The graces of a Pleader’s lore;
And, better to improve your taste,
Are by your Parent’s fondness plac’d
Among the blest, the chosen few,
(BIest, if their happiness they knew,)
Who for three hundred guineas paid
To some great Master of the Trade,
Have, at his rooms, by special favour,
His leave to use their best endeavour
By drawing Pleas, from nine till four,
To earn him twice three hundred more;
And, after dinner, may repair
To ‘foresaid rooms, and then and there
Have ‘foresaid leave, from five till ten,
To draw th’ aforesaid Pleas again;
While thus your blissful hours run on
Till three improving years are gone,
Permit me, with these rhymes, awhile,
Your leisure moments to beguile,
And guide your bold advent’rous ways
Safe through that wide and pathless maze
Where Law and Custom, Truth and Fiction,
Craft, Justice, Strife, and Contradiction,
With every blessing of Confusion,
Quirk, Error, Quibble, and Delusion;
Are all, if rightly understood,
Conspiring for the public Good,
Like jarring Ministers of State,
‘Mid Anger, Jealousy, and Hate,
In friendly Coalition join’d,
To harmonize and bless mankind.

From: Anstey, John, The Pleader’s Guide, a Didactic Poem in Two Parts: Containing Mr. Surrebutter’s Political Lectures on the Conduct of a Suit at Law, including the Arguments of Counsellor Bother’um, and Counsellor Bore’um, in an Action for Assault and Battery, betwixt John-a-Gull and John-a-Gudgeon, the Seventh Edition, 1815, T. Cadell and W. Davies: London, pp. 3-12.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=H9EIAAAAQAAJ)

Date: 1796

By: John Anstey (17??-1819)