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PERHAPS there is not to be found at this age of the world any station in general so responsible for its influence, and so dignified for its intrinsic worth, as that occupied by the American Lawyer. Viewed only as a tool in pandering to the reckless and unbounded passions of his fellow men, or in defending their grossness and corruption, he indeed presents to us a sickly and sorry spectacle ;-the appearance of one who deliberately sells his high birthright for a "mess of pottage :" but regarding him in the position he truly holds, as the interpreter of man's actions and of man's relation to man-as one appointed to preserve an accurate balance of the scales of justice-as the sworn enemy to disorder and sedition, to vice and crime, and the ready defender of virtue, of morality and religion, our preconceived contempt vanishes to make room for an opinion of candor and impartiality. We deem him the holder of one of the most dignified and important stations, to whose influence society is related. The clerical profession is of more limited and select influence, requiring none of that keen insight into the human character so essential to the Lawyer, none of that variety of information without which the legal profession would be but a frail texture, illy provided for the entanglements of dispute and litigiousness. In the latter profession are found in an extraordinary combination all the duties and consequent influences of the dispenser of justice, of the expounder and interpreter of human actions, of the valiant defender of religion and virtue, and of the man of letters. A stranger concurrence of duties never presented itself in any profession, and a greater array of qualifications for high and noble success can nowhere else be found requisite. In view of the dignity, of the rank, and of the astonishing influence it is felt to exert on our people, we have made this brief preface to a few remarks on the prospects of the American Lawyer, and the necessity of comporting his character and action to their appear
America is yet in the bloom of her youth. Her halls of justice have
as yet scarcely accumulated the dust and cobwebs of half a century ; her judicial benches have been consecrated by the occupancy of but few learned and noble men; her Congress, which first learned its elements in the principles of government not three quarters of a century ago, has never yet been monopolized by any array of genius and eloquence, though England's halls may look upon it with a jealous eye; her legislative halls returns with a glad echo the tones of the youthful aspirant for honor, and the genius of letters stands ready with a harvest of laurels for any who by self-denying energy may choose to gather them. This is the open field for our Lawyers ; in any, or in all, may they rise, and that too, only by the careful training and husbandry of the very talents that establish them in their profession.
Under the nicely defined customs of England relative to competitors, in this profession, every post, whether of high or low esteem, like property, is inheritable only to those of a class previously defined and limited; for the counselor and the barrister, for the statesman and the mere parliamentarian, there are requisite as many distinct classes of qualifications; each as he attains his desired excellence in that rank to which his inclinations directed him, and for which his abilities fitted him, looks no farther : the whole is an organized, mechanical system, tending rather to cramp than to expand the energy and powers of its subjects. It imparts, it is true, a solid dignity and high standard to each distinct division of the profession, while as an offset to this, we look in vain for that noble ambition, which grasps all within its reach, and all honorable rivalry for excellence subsides into the meagreness of individual eninities and jealousies.
How soon these limits may, and as some would imagine, must divide the legal ranks of America, it is impossible now to determine. Enough is it for our lawyers to know, that all before them is comparatively unoccupied. The boundaries of the profession, like those of America's own soil, yet encircle untamed forests, mountains unascended, valleys and glens never yet penetrated, and plains whose teeming clod was never yet upturned. He who sets forth from his professional studies with equipments adapted to all his projects, has every inducement to make those projects grand and exalted, and if he but look faithfully at his prospects they can be no other. Step by step may he wend his way up to the highest honors an intelligent nation can confer; his manhood and middle age may be surrounded and guarded by the esteem and admiration of thousands, and he will peacefully recline on his gathered laurels in his old age, until the innocence of a second childhood' shall have prepared his spirit for entrance into its eternal rest. In the capacity of a statesman he sees more broadly the range of objects he may grasp; enlightened views of social compact, of civil relations and of the intercourse of nations may all be his. As a lover of literature there is abundant room for him, and his country claims its occupancy by him ; and finally, that portion of American mind, which is as yet unformed, looks to the advice and opinions he may even unsuspectingly let fall for a basis to their own predilections and final judgment.