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Pace tanti viri, shall the truth be disclosed? If the origin of coifs is investigated, we shall, perhaps, find that Mercury, and not Minerva, is entitled to the merit of the invention. At one period, the clergy were almost the only lawyers known in England; but, in a fit of resentment, they were banished from the bar. Its sweets -for its profits were sweet-could not be easily relinquished. The clerk still pleaded, but disguised in the serjeant's robe, and, by contriving the coif, concealed his clerical tonsure.

But, like many other things, its first origin was lost in its subsequent splendour. The institution became honourable and venerable; and, as such, is still considered and preserved in England. "A serjeant at law," says my Lord Chancellor Fortescue, b "shall not take off his coif, though he be in the royal presence, and talking with his majesty. No one can be made a judge of the courts of king's bench or common pleas, until he is called to the state and dignity of a serjeant." To America, however, it has not been transplanted. We leave it to continue and flourish in its native soil.

In the first ages of Athens, the parties pleaded for themselves; but, in later times, they were allowed to have the benefit of counsel. That the length of their speeches might not exhaust the patience of the judges, or prevent other business equally necessary, it was usual -perhaps the spirit of the custom might be revived with no disadvantage to measure their allotted portion of time by an hour glass, in which they used water instead of sand. So scrupulously exact were they in this parti

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cular, that an officer, whose name denoted his officeEqudog-was appointed to distribute the water equally to each side. While strict justice was required from the advocates, strict justice was done them: the glass was stopped while the proper officer recited the laws which they quoted. Nay, the water remaining at the conclusion of an argument might be transferred to the use of another speaker. Hence this expression-Let such a one speak till my water be run out.


This custom was practised by the Romans. The time allowed, by the law, for the speeches of the advocates is termed, by Cicero, "legitima hora." The patient and indulgent Antoninus, who was a philosopher as well as an emperour, ordered, as we are told by his historian, plenty of water for the speakers at the bar; in other words, he allowed them full time for their speeches, "Quoties judico," says the younger Pliny, " quantum quis plurimum postulat aquæ do”—when I sit in judgment, I give to every advocate as much water as he desires.e

This instance of resemblance between the Athenian and Roman bars is not mentioned on account of its intrinsick importance, but because it proves, more strongly than an important instance could prove, the principle of imitation. The coincident practice could be dictated by no common principle of nature or of society.


Counsellors, or barristers at law, have been long known in England. Formerly they were styled "appren

d Pet. on Jur. 59. 63. 1. Pot. Ant. 118.

Pli. Ep. 1. 6. ep. 2. Pet. on Jur. 134.

3 F

ticii ad legem," apprentices to the law; because they were considered only as learners, and were not permitted to exercise the full office of an advocate, till they were qualified by the knowledge and experience acquired during the long probationship of sixteen years. f Edward the first, it is said, introduced the practice of permitting them to plead in the court of king's bench, before they attained the rank and dignity of serjeants.


Attorney, says my Lord Coke, is an ancient English word, and signifies one who is set in the turn, stead, or place of another. Of these, some are private; and some are publick, as attornies at law. The business of an attorney at law is to manage the practical part of a suit, and to follow the advice of the serjeants or barristers, who are of counsel in it, i

At the common law, no person could appear by an attorney, without the king's writ or letters patent.j In one part of his works, my Lord Coke admires the policy of this regulation. Its genius was to prevent the increase and multiplication of suits. But when statutes permitted the parties to appear by attorney, it is not credible, says he, how suits at law increased and multiplied. Such ill success has ever had the breach of the maxims and the ancient rules of the common law. k In another part of his works, he expresses sentiments more favourable to the appointment of attornies. The act command. ing the judges to admit them, he styles an act of


f Fort. de Laud. c. 50

i 2. Ins. 564. Wood. Ins. 466.

* 2. Ins. 249.

g 1. Reev. 491.


h 1. Ins. 51. b

Wood. Ins, 466.

grace," because the king gave his royal assent to a law for the quiet and safety of his subjects, giving them power to make attornies, whereby he lost such profit of the great seal, as he formerly received in such cases. I


To correct the abuses, which arose from the admission of attornies, whose heads and whose hearts were equally unqualified for the trust, it was enacted, so early as the reign of Henry the fourth, that all the attornies shall be examined by the judges; and such as are good and virtuous and of good fame shall, by the discretion of the court, be received and sworn well and faithfully to serve in their offices; and their names shall be entered on the roll.

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According to the law of the United States, parties may plead and manage their own causes personally, or by the assistance of such counsel or attornies at law, as, by the rules of the several courts, shall be permitted to manage and conduct causes.

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By a rule of the supreme court, it is ordered, that it shall be requisite to the admission of attornies and coun. sellors to practise in that court, that they shall have been such for three years in the supreme court of the state to which they respectively belong, and that their private and professional character shall appear to be fair. In the circuit court for the Pennsylvania district, the same rule

1 2. Ins. 378.

m St. 4. H. 4. c. 18.

Laws U. S. 1, cong. 1. sess. c. 20. s. 35.

■ 2. Ins. 214.

is made with the only difference of "two" instead of "three" years.

By a law of Pennsylvania1 it is provided, that a competent number of persons, learned in the law, and of an honest disposition, may be admitted by the justices of the several courts to practise as attornies in them. No attorney shall be admitted, without taking an oath or affirmation-that he will behave himself in the office of attorney within the court, according to the best of his learning and ability, and with all good fidelity, as well to the court as to the client; that he will use no falsehood, nor delay any person's cause for lucre or malice."

Attornies at law, on one hand, enjoy privileges on account of their attendance in courts: on the other, they are peculiarly subject to the censure and animadversion of the judges.".

In all the courts of Pennsylvania, and in all those of the United States, except the supreme court, the same

P At April sessions, 1804, the abovementioned rule of the circuit court was rescinded, and the following established. "ORDERED, that no person shall be admitted to practise as counsel or attorney of this court, unless he shall have previously studied three years, been admitted two years in a court of common pleas, and in the supreme court of a state or unless he shall have studied four years, been admitted one year in a court of common pleas, and in the supreme court of a state: or unless he shall have studied five years, and been admitted in the supreme court of a state. Satisfaction also of moral character will be required." Ed.

9 1. Laws. Penn. 185. s. 28.

$ 3. Bl. Com. 26.

r Id. 360. s. 38.

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