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may reply then, in the first place, that civil society, for which men are evidently defigned, cannot be upheld unless effectual means are provided for maintaining the rights of its members ; that injustice cannot be repressed in any tolerable degree by unsettled and arbitrary proceedings adopted in particular cases, nor by any other method than the establishment of general laws; and that these laws would become nugatory, were there not an order of men appointed to claim and apply their affiftance in behalf of the injured. We may proceed in the next place to observe, that every man ought to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty ; that it becomes the Advocate to leave to Judges and Juries the determination of doubtful points, and to consider almost every point as doubtful, until the trial shall afford him an opportunity of learning and appreciating the various facts and arguments on which the claim of the opposite party depends; and that although occasional evils may result from the universal and invariable application of established laws, he may conscientiously demand, under any circumstances whatever, a decision conformable to them, not merely because the universal and invariable applicas tion of them is essential to the due distribution of justice, but because the nation has avowedly consented and resolved to acquiesce in their decision of all questions to which they are meant to be applied. But does not this answer, it may be said, give the Advocate a liberty which Christianity denies to him? Does it not teach him, that immoral means may be used to accomplish a beneficial end; that individual acts of fraud and injustice may be vindicated and abetted, for the sake of
upholding a system, by which fraud and injustice are on the whole restrained ? By no means: it gives no countenance to a doctrine so clearly condemned in the Gospel. Let it be remembered, that the standard to which the Advocate refers the cause of his client is not the law of Reason, or the law of God, but the law of the Land; and that he appeals no further to the two former than as they are incorporated into the latter ; that his peculiar and proper object is not to prove the side of the question which he maintains morally right, but legally right; that the law offers its protection only on certain preliminary conditions; that it refuses tơ
take cognizance of injuries, or to enforce redress, unless the one be proved in the specific manner, and the other claimed in the precise form, which it prescribes ; and consequently that, whatever be the pleader's opinion of his cause, he is guilty of no breach of truth and justice in defeating the pretensions of the persons whom he opposes, by evincing that they have not made good the terms on which alone they could be legally entitled, on which alone they could suppose themselves entitled, 'to fuccess.
“ It follows then, the objector will reply, " that a Barrister may conscientiously “ undertake the management of any suit what
ever; convinced as he may be that it is both a “ cruel and an iniquitous prosecution, originat“ing in rapacity, malice, or revenge." This conclusion is altogether groundless. Cases may frequently occur in which an Advocate would be highly blamable were he to undertake the defence of the cause proposed to him, though by defending it he should violate no precept of justice. If in consequence of facts communicated to himself, or through circumstances established by public notoriety, a cause should 7
present present an aspect fo dark as to leave him no reasonable doubt of its being founded in iniquity or baseness, or to justify extremely strong fufpicions of its evil nature and tendency; he is bound in the sight of God to refuse all connection with the business; and, if he finds himself inadvertently entangled in it, to relinquish it without delay (a).
The foregoing reasoning may be illustrated by an example. The father of a family dies, having bequeathed his estate, in consequence of disapproving his son's way of life, to a nephew. The son claims the property in a court of law ; pleading that the testator was disordered in his understanding, and that the will was not attested by competent witnesses. A Barrister well acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, is desired by the nephew to undertake his defence. Suppose the private sentiments of the Counsel to be, that
(a) Were we to suppose a cause to depend for success on a human law manifestly contrary to the law of God, a Barrister would be obliged in conscience to refufe all concern with it. Thus, in former times, no Lawyer ought to have taken any share in prosecutions founded on acts of Parliament for burning of heretics.
the father had cherished unreasonable prejudices against his son ; and therefore was guilty of a moral crime in making the nephew his heir. Yet he may defend with a safe conscience the title of the latter. For it is no part of his office to vindicate the motives of the parent. They are not the points against
. which the attack of the fon is directed; they are not the grounds on which the law will form its decision. Whatever then may be the opinion of the Advocate respecting them, he may fairly endeavour to subftantiate matters of fact perfectly distinct from them, the foundness of the testator's intellect, and the legal admissibility of the persons who attested the will. But if he were aware that the disgust which the father had conceived against his child arose from the secret machinations of the nephew; if he were aware that parental affection had been extinguished by insidious artifices, and the credulity of old age besieged by fabricated calumnies ; he ought to decline the retainer with inward abhorrence, and not to disgrace himself for a moment by appearing to countenance guilt so palpable and enormous,