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partnership with thousands in certain general dogmas and speculations, we have all our own past individual being as a solid and abiding possession.
A metaphysician who thinks earnestly and intensely for himself, may truly be said to live long. He has this great advantage over the most felicitous inventor of machinery, or the most acute of scientific inquirers, that all his discoveries have a personal interest; he has his existence for his living study; his own heart is the mighty problem on which he meditates, and the " exceeding great reward" of his victories. In a moment of happy thought he may attain conquests," compared to which the laurels which a Caesar reaps are weeds." Years of anxious thought are rewarded by the attainment of one triumphant certainty, which immediately gives a key to the solution of a thousand pregnant doubts and mysteries, and enables him almost to "curdle a long life into an hour." When he has, after long pursued and baffled endeavours, rolled aside some huge difficulty which lay in his path, he will find beneath it a passage to the bright subtleties of his nature, through which he may range at will, and gather immortal fruits, like Aladdin in the subterranean gardens. He counts his life thus not only by the steps which he has taken, but by the vast prospects which, at every turn of his journey, have recompensed his toils, over which he has diffused his spirit as he went on his way rejoicing. We will conclude this article with the estimate made of life from his own experience by one of the most profound and original of thinkers.
"It is little, it is short, it is not worth having—if we take the last hour, and leave out all that has gone before, which has been one way of looking at the subject . Such calculators seem to say that life is nothing when it is over; and that may, in their sense, be true. If the old rule—Reapice finem —were to be made absolute, and no one could be pronounced fortunate till the day of his death, there are few among us whose existence would, upon such conditions, be much to be envied. But this is not a fair view of the case. A man's life is his whole life, not the last glimmering snuff of the candle; and this I say is considerable, and not a little matter, whether we regard its pleasures or its pains. To draw a peevish conclusion to the contrary, from our own superannuated desires or forgetful indifference, is about as reasonable as to say, a man never was young because he has grown old, or never lived because he is now dead. The length or agreeaWeness of a journey does not depend on the few last steps of it, nor is the size of a building to be judged of from the last stone that is added to it . It is neither the first nor the last hour of our existence, but the space that parts these two —not our exit, nor our entrance upon the stage, but what we do feel, and think while there—that we are to attend to in pronouncing sentence upon it. Indeed, it would be easy to show that it is the very extent of human life, the infinite number of things contained in it, its contradictory and fluctuating interests, the transition from one situation to another, the hours, months, years, spent in one fond pursuit after another; that it is, in a word, the length of our common journey, and the quantity of events crowded into it, that, baffling the grasp of our actual perception, make it slide from our memory, and dwindle into nothing in its own perspective.. It is too mighty for us, and we say it is nothing! It is a speck in our fancy, and yet what canvass would be big enough to hold its striking groups, its endless objects 1 It is light as vanity; and yet if all its weary moments, if all its head and heartaches were compressed into one, what fortitude would not be overwhelmed with the blow! What a huge heap, a ' huge, dumb heap,' of wishes, thoughts, feelings, anxious cares, soothing hopes, loves, joys, friendships, it is composed of! How many ideas and trains of sentiment, long, deep, and intense, often pass through the mind in one days thinking or reading for instance! How many such days are there in a year, how many years in a long life, still occupied with something interesting—still recalling some old impression— still recurring to some difficult question, and making progress in it, every step accompanied with a sense of power, and every moment conscious of' the high endeavour or the glad success;" for the mind seizes only on that which keeps it employed, and is wound up to a certain pitch of pleasurable excitement by the necessity of its own nature."—HazlitC* Table Talk, Essay 6.
ON THE PROFESSION OF THE BAR.
There is no pursuit in life which appears more captivating at a distance than the profession of the bar, as it is followed and rewarded in English courts of justice. It is the great avenue to political influence and reputation; its honours are among the most splendid which can be attained in a free state; and its emoluments and privileges are exhibited as prizes, to be contested freely by all its members. Its annals celebrate many individuals who have risen from the lowest ranks of the people, by fortunate coincidence, or by patient labour, to wealth and station, and have become the founders of honourable families. If the young aspirant perceives, even in his hasty and sanguine glance, that something depends on fortuitous circumstances, the conviction only renders the pursuit more inviting, by adding the fascinations of a game of chance to those of a trial of skill. If he is forced to confess that a sacrifice of principle is occasionally required of the candidate for its most lucrative situations, he glories in the pride of untempted virtue, and pictures himself generously resisting the bribe which would give him riches and authority, in exchange for conscious rectitude and the approbation of the good and wise. While he sees nothing in the distance, but glorious success or more glorious self-denial, he feels braced for the severest exertion; nerved for the fiercest struggle; and regards every throb of an impatient ambition, as a presage of victory.
Not only do the high offices of the profession wear an inviting aspect, but its level course has much to charm the inexperienced observer. It affords perpetual excitement; keeps the faculties in unceasing play; and constantly applies research, ingenuity, and eloquence, to the actual business of life. A Court of Nisi Prius is a sort of epitome of human concerns, in which advocates are the representatives of the hopes and fears, the prejudices, the affections, and the hatreds of others, which stir their blood, yet do not endanger their fortune or their peace. The most important interests are committed to their discretion, and the most susceptible feelings to their forbearance. They enjoy a fearful latitude of sarcasm and invective, with an audience ready to admire their sallies, and reporters eager to circulate them through the land. Their professional dress, which might else be ludicrous, becomes formidable as the symbol of power; for, with it, they assume the privilege of denouncing their adversaries, confounding witnesses, and withstanding the judge. If the matter on which they expatiate is not often of a dignified nature or productive of large consequences, it is always of real importance; not a mere theme for display, or a parliamentary shadow. The men whom they address are usually open to receive impressions, either from declamation or reasoning, unlike other audiences who are guarded by system, by party, or by interest, against the access of conviction. They are not confined to rigid logic, or to scholastic sophistry, but may appeal to every prejudice, habit, and feeling, which can aid their cause or adorn their harangue; and possess a large store of popular topics always ready for use. They do not contend for distant objects, nor vainly seek to awaken an interest for futurity, but struggle for palpable results which immediately follow their exertions. They play an animating game for verdicts with the resources of others, in which success is full of pleasure, and defeat is rarely attended with personal disgrace or injury. This is their ordinary vocation; but they have, or seem to have, a chance of putting forth all the energies of their mind on some high issue; and of vindicating their moral courage, perchance by rescuing an innocent man from dishonour and the grave, or by standing, in a tumultuous season, between the frenzy of the people and the encroachments of their enemies, and protecting the constitutional rights of their fellows with the sacred weapons of the laws. What dream is more inspiring to a youth of sanguine temperament than that of conducting the defence of a
man prosecuted by the whole force of the state1 He runs over in thought the hurried and feverish labour of preparation; the agitations of the heart quelled by the very magnitude of the endeavour and the peril; and imagines himself settled and bent up to his own part in the day of trial—the low tremulous beginning, the gradually strengthening assurance; the dawning recognition of sympathy excited in the men on whose lips the issue hangs; till the whole world of thought and feeling seems to open full of irresistible argument and happy illustrations; till his reasonings become steeped in passion; and he feels his cause and his triumph secure. To every enthusiastic boy, flattered by the prophecies of friends, such an event appears possible; and, in the contemplation, wealth, honour, and long life, seem things of little value.
But the state of anticipation cannot last for ever. The day arrives, when the candidate for forensic opportunities and honours must assume the gown amidst the congratulations of his friends, and attempt to realize their wishes. The hour is, no doubt, happy, in spite of some intruding thoughts; its festivities are not less joyous, because they wear a colouring of solemnity; it is one more season of hope snatched from fate, inviting the mind to bright remembrance, and rich in the honest assurances of affections and sympathy. It passes, however, as rapidly as its predecessors, and the morrow sees the youth at Westminster, pressing a wig upon aching temples, and taking a fearful survey of the awful bench where the judges sit, and the more awful benches crowded with competitors who have set out with as good hopes, who have been encouraged by as enthusiastic friends, and who have as valid claims to success as he. Now then, having allowed him to enjoy the foretastes of prosperity, let us investigate what are the probabilities that he will realize them. Are they, in any degree, proportioned to his intellectual powers and accomplishments 1 Is the possession of some share of the highest faculties of the mind, which has given him confidence, really in his favour1 These questions we will try to solve. We may, perhaps, explain to the misjudging friends of some promising aspirant, who has not attained the eminence they expected, why their prophecies have been unfulfilled. They think that, with such powers as they know