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publication of our article.* We did what we could ; we published all that came to our hands; we set down certain notorious facts; we commented upon those facts and the evidences in language that we never used before, and trust that our duty will never again compel us to employ concerning any member of the profession, least of all a Recorder and a Queen's Counsel; and we cheerfully accepted the verdict which assessed that language at the sum of forty shillings when applied to the character and career of Mr. Digby Seymour.
But before dismissing the subject from our pages, we are bound to set our readers right on one point at least which affects the character of this periodical. It was insinuated by Mr. Lush, more than once in his observations to the jury, that the article on Mr. Seymour was written by some one who was actuated by a bitter personal hostility against him, who was a member of his Circuit, and one at least of the instigators of the proceedings before the Benchers. We are informed, moreover, that some days before the trial, and during its progress, the name of a barrister on whom it was thought convenient to fix, and to whom “internal evidence” was supposed to point, was sedulously circulated in Westminster Hall as that of the author of the article. The idea was no new one with Mr. Seymour, whose singular idiosyncrasy it is to believe or to represent himself the injured object of an envious conspiracy laid by all the eminent members of his profession; who has imputed to the Northern Circuit a “cruel opposition and a determined effort to keep him down;" who has accused the Benchers of the Middle Temple of “injustice,” and of making
every presumption against him ;” and who will probably, in
* Mr. Lush asserted that the statement had been circulated before the publication of our article; i.e., before the 1st of May, 1862. We are confident that the learned counsel must have been mistaken in his dates; we cannot ascertain that any one saw or heard of the pamphlet until some time after this. To this hour, as far as we are aware, it has not been published, nor has any copy reached our hands which has not been marked "for private circulation only." We may observe that the pamphlet does not contain the whole of the evidence before the Benchers, and that what does appear is not printed in a connected form.
his next speech to a Southampton audience, ascribe his failure in obtaining damages against our publisher, to the professional jealousy of the Lord Chief Justice, and the notorious corruption of Middlesex special juries. But we are astonished that Mr. Lush, an honourable man, commanding the respect and confidence of the Bar, should have uttered, or should have insinuated, against this Magazine, the disgraceful imputation that its pages were suffered to become the vehicle of any private animosity. We do Mr. Lush the justice to believe that he will feel no ordinary regret for the studied inuendoes he employed, when he reads our solemn assurance that the article in question was not written by any member of the Northern Circuit, nor by any one connected with or even cognizant of the charges brought against Mr. Seymour, or deriving any knowledge of the case from any source other than those open to the whole public, nor by any one personally hostile to the gentleman in question. The idea evidently predominant in Mr. Lush's mind when he opened his case to the jury, that the author of the article was some one whose name he would fain have uttered, in the belief that the utterance might have suggested personal animosity, was in truth “ the baseless fabric of a vision.” No doubt the author of the article, in common with his brethren in the profession, may have felt no ordinary anger at the unworthy accusations brought by Mr. Seymour against a large section of the Bar; he may have been indignant to hear meanness, cowardice, and envious oppression imputed to a body of men, who, whatever their other faults, are at least free from these miserable vices. Such indignation was not only excusable, but natural and just, and needed no personal differences to point its sting. The pages of this Magazine were never degraded to a quarrel.
We regret that we are constrained to comment on another part of Mr. Lush's remarks. He thought fit to palliate, if not to defend, the bargain made by Mr. Seymour with an attorney to pay a debt due to that attorney by holding briefs on which the fees should be marked, but should not be paid. Forced to admit that such a bargain was unprofessional, Mr. Lush was pleased to affirm that it was nevertheless “ an act of honesty." We protest strongly against the use of language of this sort on such a subject. In the first place, we deny that any act which is wholly unprofessional can also be honest. Every man who enters our profession does so under the implied obligation that he will abide by its rules and usages, that he will take no unfair advantage of his brethren, and that he will comport himself as a man of honour and a gentleman. He who violates those rules and usages, and secretly violates them, whether to obtain practice or to relieve himself of difficulties, is not acting honestly towards the body to which he belongs. But, in the second place, we condemn the morality which ignores all view of the client in judging of such a transaction. Granting for a moment that the bargain might be defensible as between barrister and attorney, what sort of honesty does Mr. Lush esteem it towards the public? Both branches of the profession enjoy a monopoly, but they enjoy it only on public grounds and for the public good. The Bar are entrusted with the privilege of exclusive audience in order that suitors may be assured of an independent and incorrupt advocacy. Attorneys are protected by statute in the sole exercise of their peculiar functions, that their clients may approach them with a full confidence in their professional integrity. Are we then to be told that a bargain made by a solicitor to employ, for his own pecuniary gain, a particular counsel, to the exclusion of other, and it may be better men, is, on either side, an act of honesty ? That a secret agreement between A. and B. to pay B. the debt due by A. out of C.'s unsuspecting pocket, is a transaction which is even to be palliated ? We are startled by the standard of honour necessary to the conception of such a sentiment. Those who account such conduct honesty should at least have the grace to add with the dramatist,
For ourselves, we unhesitatingly denounce such a bargain as a conspiracy against the public, and its defence as an insult to the Bar.
So far as his quarrel with this Magazine is concerned, we have done with Mr. Digby Seymour, and were he simply a practitioner at the bar he might take his forty shillings and depart in peace. But there is a grave question which the interests of the public compel us to keep before them :Is Mr. Digby Seymour to continue Recorder of Newcastle? The answer to this question rests on much more narrow grounds than any inquiry touching Mr. Seymour's worthiness to remain a Queen's Counsel or a member of the Bar. In the latter case, some overt act, committed within a reasonable time before the investigation, and proved beyond doubt, might be fairly required, and the fifteen Judges would probably hesitate to sanction a disbarment on any grounds less than these. But we apprehend that the position of a criminal Judge has far higher requirements as to character than the mere absence of specific proof of guilt. A man entrusted with judicial functions, in the upright exercise of which the liberty and reputation of his countrymen are concerned, must be not only above guilt, but above suspicion. No verdict of “not proven," qualified by heavy censure, can justify the continued occupation of the criminal bench. The
* It will appear from some observations which fell from Mr. Lush, that he doubts the correctness of the assertion in the article, that “ an unknown member of the Bar has been expelled from its ranks for offences certainly not greater than the charge which the Benchers say was proved against Mr. Seymour.”. Mr. Lush asked (see page 213) to what case we could allude.' We will tell him. About the time when Mr. Seymour was on his trial before the Benchers of the Middle Temple, a barrister, of the name of Claydon, was arraigned before the Benchers of Lincoln's Inn for breaches of professional etiquette, such as taking briefs without the intervention of attorney, advertising for business, &c. He was found guilty, and was disbarred. Is Mr. Lush prepared to say that equal justice was meted out in these two cases? Does he think that a Queen's Counsel and a Recorder should be allowed to get briefs in any way he can, with mere censure, while a poor and struggling man should be disbarred for conduct of a like nature ? If Mr. Lush does think so, which we can scarcely believe, we trust that he is singular in his opinion.
public and the profession are equally bound to bestir themselves in the matter. The nation has lang survived the evil which once sorely afflicted it—a corrupt and time-serving Bench, and a confidence, absolutely unlimited, is now reposed in the independence and integrity of the Judges. But that confidence will be shaken, and the efficiency of the administration of justice will consequently be lowered, if any grade in the judicial hierarchy should be suffered to fall into disrepute. If nothing is done by the Home Secretary, we trust that some independent member of the House will bring the matter forward. It is comforting to know that in such a case Parliament will offer every facility to Mr. Seymour to bring the whole evidence touching his character before the public, and thus at one triumphant blow to demolish his enemies, and exhibit his own innocence clear as the noonday. Some people are simple enough to ask why this has not been done already.
There is, at any rate, one beneficial result to which this unpleasant scandal is likely to lead. The Bar has been so stirred by the disclosures that have been made, and so general an impression has arisen as to the inefficiency of the present arrangements for the preservation of a becoming discipline, that a movement has already been begun to effect a re-organization of the profession. It is felt that the time has arrived when the Bar of England should have a corporate existence, and speak publicly with one voice; when it should be able to legislate for its own affairs, and maintain its own honour, and when the public should be put in possession of some authoritative expression of its views on legislative and other questions affecting its interest and status. So far as we are aware, every other body of advocates existing in Europe is united under a single government, and has the advantage of corporate action, The English Bar, alone, is crippled by a mediæval division into four diverse societies, and has no power of dealing with its own regulations, or asserting its opinion as a