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dents of the two Universities,' in the year 1589, when he is supposed to have denounced the author of “Hamlet' as one of those who had “left the trade of Noverint, wherety they were born, for handfuls of tragical speeches”—that is, an attorney's clerk become a poet, and penning a stanza when he should engross.
• As You Like It’ was not brought out until shortly before the year 1600, so that Nash’s Noverint could not have been suggested by it. Possibly Shakespeare now introduced the “Be it known unto all men,” &c., in order to show his contempt for Nash's sarcasm.
In Act 11. Sc. 1, there are illustrations which would present themselves rather to the mind of one initiated in legal proceedings, than of one who had been brought up as an apprentice to a glover, or an assistant to a butcher or a woolstapler :—for instance, when it is said of the poor wounded deer, weeping in the stream
thou mak’st a testament
And again where the careless herd, jumping by him without greeting him, are compared to "fat and greasy citizens,” who look
“ Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there,”—
without pitying his sufferings or attempting to relieve his necessities.
It may perhaps be said that such language might be used by any man of observation. But in Act 111. Sc. 1, a deep technical knowledge of law is displayed, howsoever it may have been acquired.
The usurping Duke, Frederick, wishing all the real property of Oliver to be seized, awards a writ of extent against him, in the language which would be used by the Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer
Duke Fred. Make an extent upon his house and lands
an extendi facias applying to house and lands, as a fieri facias would apply to goods and chattels, or a capias ad satisfaciendum to the person.
So in ‘King Henry VIII. we have an equally accurate statement of the omnivorous nature of a writ of PRÆMUNIRE. The Duke of Suffolk, addressing Cardinal Wolsey, says,
“ Lord Cardinal, the King's further pleasure is,
Because all those things you have done of late
In the next scene of “As You Like It’ Shakespeare shows that he was well acquainted with lawyers themselves and the vicissitudes of their lives. Rosalind having told “who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal,” being asked, “Who Time stands still withal ?" answers
With lawyers in the vacation ; for they sleep between term term, and then they perceive not how Time moves.
Our great poet had probably observed that some lawyers have little enjoyment of the vacation after a very few weeks, and that they again long for the excitement of arguing demurrers and pocketing fees.
In the first scene of Act iv. Shakespeare gives us the true legal meaning of the word “attorney,” viz. representative or deputy. [Celui qui vient à tour d'autrui ; Qui alterius vices subit; Legatus; Vakeel.]
Ros. Well, in her person I say—I will not have you.
Ros. No, faith, die by attorney. The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man died in his own person, videlicet, in a love-cause.*
* So in ‘Richard III.,' Act iv. Sc. 4, the crook-backed tyrant, after murdering the infant sons of Edward IV., audaciously pro
I am sorry to say that in our time the once most respectable word “attorney” seems to have gained a new meaning, viz. “a disreputable legal practitioner;" so that attorneys at law consider themselves treated discourteously when they are called “ Attorneys.” They now all wish to be called Solicitors, when doing the proper business of attorneys in the Courts of Common Law. Most sincerely honouring this branch of our profession, if it would please them, I am ready to support a bill “ to prohibit the use of the word Attorney, and to enact that on all occasions the word Solicitor shall be used instead thereof."
Near the end of the same scene Shakespeare again evinces his love for legal phraseology and imagery by converting Time into an aged Judge of Assize, sitting on the Crown side :
Ros. Well, Time is the old JUSTICE that examines all such offenders, and let Time try.
As in • Troilus and Cressida' (Act iv. Sc. 5) Shakespeare makes Time an Arbitrator :
“ And that old common ARBITRATOR, Time,
Will one day end it.”
poses to their mother to marry the Princess Elizabeth, their sister, and wishing the Queen to intercede with her in his favour, says
Be the attorney of my love to her. Again in the same play (Act v. Sc. 3) Lord Stanley, meeting Richmond on the field at Bosworth, says
I by attorney bless thee from thy mother.
Much Ado About Nothing.
It has been generally supposed that Shakespeare, in the characters of Dogberry and Verges, only meant to satirize the ignorance and folly of parish constables—a race with which we of this generation were familiar till the establishment of the metropolitan and rural police; but I cannot help suspecting that he slily aimed at higher legal functionaries—Chairmen at Quarter-sessions, and even Judges of assize,—with whose performances he may probably have become acquainted at Warwick and elsewhere.
There never has been a law or custom in England to "give a charge” to constables; but from time immemo
presiding judge. This charge, we are bound to believe, is now-a-days always characterised by simplicity, pertinence, and correctness, although, according to existing etiquette, in order that it may not be too severely
Court till the charge is over. But when Justice Shallow gave the charge to the grand jury at sessions in the county of Gloucester, we may conjecture that some of his doctrines and directions were not very wise; and Judges of the superior courts in former times made themselves ridiculous by expatiating, in their charges to grand juries, on vexed questions of manners, religion,