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but at Hitterton, Greenpool, and Hammerham the business is exceedingly heavy. At each of the two last-named places it is my melancholy lot to sit in court for a fortnight at a stretch. If the intelligent reader thinks it is an easy thing to sit for twelve successive days in the back benches of a court doing nothing, let me tell him that an eminent Q.C. who is engaged in nearly every case on my circuit told me he was far more exhausted by sitting in court doing nothing when he first came circuit as a junior, than he now is when he is actively engaged in business all day long in court.
So heavy is the business at the last three towns upon my circuit, that I have known the judges to sit from nine o'clock in the morning till ten o'clock at night, in order to finish it in time to open the commission at the appointed day at the next town on circuit. If this were not done punctually, of course the business of the whole circuit would be thrown into inextricable confusion. Should the judges, however, not be able to finish the business at Hitterton in time to open the commission at Greenpool upon the appointed day, one of the Q.C.s on circuit who is not overburdened with business is sent forward to do so. Of course he is received with exactly the same ceremony as the judges themselves would be; and it is a fact (such is the weakness of human nature) that there are Q.C.s to be found who would gladly undertake this duty, including the listening to a long sermon at Greenpool parish church, for the pleasure of being looked upon for a few hours by the ignorant vulgar as a veritable judge. In olden days, it was the custom for the high-sheriff and many of the county magistrates to meet the judges a mile or two outside of the assize town, and escort them in splendid procession to the assize courts. Now, however, in this utilitarian age, the railway train brings Her Majesty's judges into the heart of the county town, and they are escorted to and from the assize courts by a posse of policemen. Nay, so negligent now-a-days are some of the high sheriffs, that I remember reading, a year or two ago, in the newspapers how a high-sheriff of a certain county was sternly reprimanded and severely fined by a judge for suffering his (the judge's) carriage-door to be opened by an hostler in his shirt-sleeves !
Socially, the men on my circuit have a tendency to split up into three divisions. Firstly, the leaders ; secondly, the middle-aged juniors, like myself; and thirdly—as we men in middle-life love to call them—the extreme juniors.' The extreme juniors' I have reason to believe, form, notwithstanding the slighting way in which the other two classes speak of them, an exceedingly lively body. They are too young to be anything but light-hearted; and as none of them have any business, they are not envious of each other. Moreover, as most of them go the same sessions, they come to know each other better than we, who only go circuit together, do. Sessions are held four times a year, and the bar rules regarding them are very strict. A man on my circuit who goes to Greenpool sessions, is not allowed to go to Hammerham sessions. Were he to do so, he would be punished by expulsion from the Greenpool sessions mess, and, as a matter of course, the Hammerham sessions men would refuse to elect him into their mess. All men who mean to practise at the bar go sessions as soon as they are called to the bar, and, as a rule, if a góes sessions steadily for a few years, he is sure to get some briefs. Becoming a leader at sessions, he may thereby come to get briefs on circuit, and even in London.
Up to a few years ago, almost all practising barristers, without any exception, lived in London, and only went to country towns at assize times. Latterly, however, it has become the practice for young barristers, to 'localise,' as it is termed, in such great towns as Greenpool and Hammerham. Here, instead of sitting in Temple chambers wait
ing for the briefs which never come, they often at once get into practice in the local county courts, and in arbitrations, &c. The tendency of the present age, moreover, clearly is to establish local courts in large towns, and to reserve the law-courts in London as appeal courts for the decision of the points of law which may arise in the local courts. In olden times, when travelling was difficult, there was, no doubt, great convenience in justice being brought, by means of the circuit system, to the very doors of the inhabitants of each county in England. Should local courts, however, be established in all the chief towns of the kingdom, it is far from improbable that a blissful day may arise, even in the lifetime of the present writer, when, in consequence of the total abolition of the circuit system in England, it will not only be unnecessary, but absolutely impossible, for him to go‘on circuit' any more!
A RISING JUNIOR.
MR. PAGE is everywhere spoken of as 'a rising junior,'—some people even going so far as to say of him that he is a risen junior. I observed at the last Greenpool assizes that Mr. Page was 'in' thirty-seven cases out of a cause-list of eighty, which fact sufficiently proves him to be the ' leading junior' on my circuit. Considering that he is only thirty-six years of age, and that he has been scarcely eleven years at the Bar, Mr. Page has undoubtedly achieved a great success in his profession. Yet that success is, after all, not to be wondered at. Mr. Page is a man of great natural ability; he has ever since his college days were over been anxious to attain success at the Bar; and he has always had a most powerful 'backing' amongst solicitors. Mr. Page has, in truth, never known what it was to be without briefs. His father is the head of the largest firm of solicitors in Greenpool, and upon the very day after that on which young