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a slovenly manner, for which a schoolboy would be whipped. * CHAP. The " Tatler" had done much to inspire a literary taste into CXXIXall ranks. This periodical had ceased, but being now succeeded by the " Spectator," Philip Yorke "gave his days and nights to the papers of Addison."
Although he never approached the excellence of his model, He writes a he was so far pleased with his own proficiency that he aspired "aspeC'^.the to the honour of writing a " Spectator." Accordingly, with tor." great pains, he composed the well-known Letter, signed "Philip Homebred," and dropped it into the Lion's mouth. To his inexpressible delight, on Monday, April 12. 1712, it came out as No. 364., with the motto added by Steele: —
.' Navibus atque
Quadrigis petimus bene vivere."
As a lawyer desirous of upholding our craft by all fair means, I should have been proud to have warmly praised this performance, but I am sorry to acknowledge that I cannot honestly object to the terms in which it was "vilipended" hy Dr. Johnson.f I will, however, select one or two of the best passages, in the hope that the reader may form a more favourable judgment of it. — Having described a foolish mother, who is persuaded that "to chain her son down to the ordinary methods of education with others of his age, would be to cramp his faculties, and do an irreparable injury to his wonderful capacity," Mr. Philip Homebred, trying to imitate the manner of Addison, thus proceeds : — "I happened to visit at the house last week, and missing the young gentleman at the tea-table, where he seldom fails to officiate, could not, upon so extraordinary a circumstance, avoid inquiring after him. My Lady told mc he was gone with his woman, in order to make some preparations for
* This undoubted fact shows strikingly the difference between speaking and writing; for some of those who did not at all know the division of a discourse into sentences, or the grammatical construction of a sentence, have been listened to with great and just admiration when addressing a jury, — without their inaccuracies and inelegancics being discovered. Erskine could compose with accuracy and elegance, but this could be said of very few of his contemporaries.
t "He would not allow that the paper (No. 364.) on carrying a boy to travel, ugncd Philip Homebred, which was reported to be written by the Ld. Ch. Hard»icke, had merit. He said, 'it was quite vulgar, and had nothing in it luminous.'"— Boswell's Life of Jahwson, vol. vi. p. 152.
CHAP, their equipage; for that she intended very speedily to carry CXXIX. hiin fa travel, Tne oddness of the expression shocked me a little; however, I soon recovered myself enough to let her know that all I was willing to understand by it was, that she designed this summer to show her son his estate in a distant county in which he had never yet been. But she soon took care to rob me of that agreeable mistake, and let me into the whole affair.". ..." When I came to reflect at night, as my custom is, upon the circumstances of the day, I could not but believe that this humour of carrying a boy to travel in his mother's lap, and that upon pretence of learning men and things, is a cose of an extraordinary nature, and carries on it a particular stamp of folly. I did not remember to have met with its parallel within the compass of my observation, though I could call to mind some not extremely unlike it. From hence my thoughts took occasion to ramble into the general notion of travelling, as it is now made a part of education. Nothing is more frequent than to take a lad from grammar and taw, and under the tuition of some poor scholar, who is willing to be banished for thirty pounds a year and a little victuals, send him crying and snivelling into foreign countries. Thus he spends his time as children do at puppet-shows, and with much the same advantage, in staring and gaping at an amazing variety of strange things; strange, indeed, to one who is not prepared to comprehend the reasons and meaning of them; whilst he should be laying the solid foundations of knowledge in his mind, and furnishing it with just rules to direct his future progress in life, under some skilful master of the art of instruction."—Here we have good sense and grammatical language, but does the writer give us "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn ?" — has he succeeded in attaining "an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious?" Had he taken to literature as a trade, he would have had poor encouragement from Lintot and Cave, and he would hardly have risen to the distinction of being one of the heroes of the Dunciad. I fear me it will be said that a great lawyer is made ex quovis ligao, and that he who would starve in Grub Street from his dulness,—if he takes to Westminster Hall, may become " the CHAP, most illustrious of Chancellors." cxxiX
I have no means of knowing how this paper was received at the time. — It is said that our law student wrote another, which was published in a subsequent volume, but which, probably, had less applause, for he did not distinctly own it, and his family could never identify it. He wisely adhered to juridical studies, and laboured more and more assiduously to qualify himself for his profession.
He now regularly attended the courts in term time, taking His prepanotes of the arguments and judgments,—which in the evening tne bar. lie revised and digested. He likewise attended to oratory, and acquired that close and self-possessed manner of speaking before the public by which he was afterwards distinguished. I do not find any thing expressly said about his politics in early life, but, from his lather's connection with the Dissenters, he was probably bred in the Low Church party. He, no doubt, was a zealous Whig when patronised by Lord Parker; and I do not find any charge of inconsistency ever brought against him.
The house of Brunswick was actually on the throne prior He is to his appearance in public life. He was called to the bar in Easter Term, 1715, being then in his twenty-third year.*
His progress was more rapid than that of any other debutant in the annals of our profession. He was immediately pushed by old Salkeld, who himself had many briefs to dispose of, and who had great influence among his brother attorneys. Several young men with whom he had formed an intimacy while in his clerkship, now being "upon the roll," were perhaps of still greater use to him.
* "Parliament tent . 6° die Maij, 1 715.—Mr Simpson T. proposed by Mr Jiuncy, M' York P. proposed by Mr Mulso, Mr fforster J. proposed by Mr Harcourt, Mr Newton J. proposed by Mr Oflley, Mr Idle J. proposed by Mr ATery, M' Brabant H. proposed by Sr William \V bite-lock, and Mr Sherwood J. proposed by M' Attorny Genall, for the Degree of the Utter Barr."
On the 20th of the same month Mr. Philip Yorke was admitted to a set of chambers.
The following is the only other entry relating to him in the Books of the Middle Temple:
"Ad Parliament, tent. lO01" ffeb'J, 1720"10. — It is ordered — That Sr Philip Yorke, Kn*. his Mnj'"" Soil' Generall, be called up to the Bench of this Society in order to his Beading."
CHAl\ He began his practice in the Court of King's Bench, CXXI where he enjoyed the marked favour of Lord Chief Justiee He rapidly Parker. It soon happened that he had to argue a special gets into case upon an important and intricate point of law. The judgment of the Court was with his client, and he received high compliments from the Chief Justice for the research, learning, and ability which he had displayed. * From that day forth he was much employed in the "special argument line," although it was some years before he acquired the reputation of a " leader." Goes the By Mr. Salkeld's advice, he chose the "Western Circuit, Circuit. where, although he had no natural connection, — by means which must have excited some jealousy and distrust, but which could not be proved to be incorrect, he was suddenly in good junior business at every assize town. About two years after his start Mr. Justice Powis, a foolish old Judge, went the Western Circuit, and, surprised to see so young a man in every cause, was anxious to know how he had got on so rapidly. It has been said since, that early success on the Circuit must arise from "sessions, a book, or a miracle." The practice of barristers practising at Quarter Sessions had not then begun, and, miracles having ceased, Powis thought that young Yorke must have written some law book, which had brought him into notice. The bar dining with the Judges at the last place on the Circuit, and the party being small on account of so many having taken their departure for London, before the toast of "Prosperity to the Western Circuit," and "Quinden. Pasck." were given f, there was a pause in the conversation, and Mr. Justice Powis, addressing the flourishing junior, who was sitting nearly opposite to him, said, "Mr.
* We arc not told how he received those compliments. He was probably pleased and grateful; but I once heard a young barrister, who entertained a very high, and perhaps somewhat excessive, opinion of his own merits, say, under similar circumstances, " I think the Judges use a very great liberty in presuming to praise me for my argument."
f It would appear that the present custom then prevailed of the Judges, when the barristers dine with them, giving as a toast when the party is to break up, " Prosperity to the O. Circuit," except that, at the last place on the Spring Circuit, they afterwards give " Quinden. l'asch." being the first return of Easter Term; and on the Summer Circuit, " Cras. Animarum," being the first return in Michaelmas Term; which is as much as to say, " To our next merry meeting in Westminster Hall."
Yorke, I cannot well account for your having so much GHAP.
• • • CXXIX
business, considering how short a time you have been at the bar; I humbly conceive you must have published something"; for, look you, do you see, there is scarcely a cause before the Court, but you are employed in it, on one side or other. I should, therefore, be glad to know, Mr. Yorke, do you see, whether this is the case ?"— Yorke. "Please ye, my Lord, I transhave some thoughts of publishing a book, but, as yet, I have coke upon made no progress in it." The Judge, smiling to think that Llttlet°"
.. . . .into verse.
his conjecture was not quite without foundation, became importunate to know the subject of the book, and Yorke, not being able to evade his inquiries, at last said, "I have had thoughts, my Lord, of doing Coke upon Littleton into verse; but I have gone a very little way into it."—Powis. "This is something new, and must be very entertaining; and I beg you will oblige us with a recital of a few of the verses." Mr. Yorke long resisted, but finding that the Judge would not drop the subject, bethought himself that he could not get rid of it better than by compounding a specimen of such a translation, something in the Judge's own words, and introducing the phrases with which his Lordship was in the habit of interlarding his discourse upon all occasions, let the subject be grave or gay. Therefore, accompanying what he intended to say with some excuses for not sooner complying with the Judge's request, he recited the following verses, as the opening of his translation :—
"He that holdeth his lands in fee
Need neither to quake nor to quiver,
A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear. Although all others present perceived the jest, the learned Judge was not struck by the peculiarity of the diction, and was so much convinced that this was a serious attempt to impress upon the youthful mind the great truths of tenures, that meeting Mr. Yorke a few months afterwards in Westminster Hall, he
* The first section of Littleton in prose says —" Tenant in fee simple is he which hath lands or tenemeuts to hold to him and his heirs for ever."