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precision with which you present it. The graces of oratory, such as voice and manner can impart, are never useless, nor to be despised in any kind of speaking, and they are not to be disregarded even in addressing the Court; but they are by no means necessary to a successful effort. The attention of the Judge is directed more to your argument than to you—to your matter rather than to your manner; and, provided that the argument you have constructed be sound and sensible, it will be heard and accepted, although conveyed in broken sentences and inelegant language. Hesitating speech to a Jury is worse than fluent feebleness, because it is mistaken for incapacity ; but, by the Court, fluency and hesitation are alike disregarded, and the speaker is measured more by his mind than by his lips. Do not, therefore, lose courage if you lack expression for your logic; provided only that
you have in your own mind the clear construction of an argument, you may safely trust to your audience to seize it, whatever the difficulty with which you bring it forth.
But then it is difficult to discover if you have in your mind a perfectly reasoned argument. In fact, the mind is very apt, unconsciously to itself, to adopt a summary process of reasoning, and to arrive at a conclusion by jumps, instead of by steps. When, in a vierely contemplative argument, we arrive at a difficulty, the mind is liable to pass on one side of it, or to leap over it, instead of threading its way through it, and often the fault is not found until the thoughts take shape in words. The surest way to avoid this not uncommon discomfiture is to set down your argument upon paper-(not the very words to be used, but only an outline of it)-in the order in which you design to place it before the Court. This
skeleton of the discourse will serve the double
purpose of enabling you to detect any defects or fallacies not seen when it existed only in contemplation, and of keeping you strictly to the point when you are presenting it to the Court. In this summary be careful to separate the several parts of the argument, so that they may be readily caught by the eye, for when you are hurried and flurried by action, a written page is merely a confused mass to your glance, unless the sentences are marked by very
obvious divisions. Although you would not habitually resort to the preacher's practice of announcing the divisions of the discourse to the audience, with the formidable figures that advise them of the task that is before them, it is necessary that you should so state the divisions on your note, for your own guidance. These divisions should be written from the outer margin, and the subdivisions should be written within a second margin, and the cases you propose to cite by way of illustration should be noted within a third margin. The effect of this arrangement is, that at any moment a glance will inform you what you have said, what more you have to say, and in what order
should it. In putting your argument, your manner should be deferential and your language suggestive. Nothing but consummate ability and unquestioned profundity of legal knowledge excuses a dogmatic style of address. It has been endured, and even commanded respect, by the Bench ; but it was accompanied by personal dislike, and
; no junior could adopt it with impunity. Diffidence, even if it take the form of confusion of speech, is sure to receive kindly encouragement from the Judges, and you could not desire a more generous audience.
Do not, however, think that I design to assert that
manner is unimportant in addressing a Judge. Everywhere, and always, it is of moment. A Judge will hear you, and try to understand you, however badly you may express yourself ; but he will listen more readily, and your argument will be more effective, because more certainly understood, if it be couched in good language and uttered with some of the graces of an orator. Even though you may determine never to address a Jury, you should not the less fit yourself to speak in a pleasing strain to the Judges, whether in the Equity Courts or elsewhere.
So, when you address Magistrates at Quarter Sessions, carefully avoid the too frequent fault of talking to them as to a Jury. True, that they are the judges, both of the fact and of the law, and to that extent perform the office of jurymen; but then they are a very special jury, and are not swayed by the clap-trap and fallacies that are commonly used by advocates to influence juries. On this point I speak from some experience, and I can tell you that many a time I have seen the utmost impatience
upon the Bench of eloquent speeches addressed to the Justices, that would have secured a verdict with a Jury. Educated men, sitting as judges, even though they may not be lawyers, desire facts and arguments, and look upon anything more than these, and especially upon complimentary language, sentimentalities and fine phrases, as rather an insult to their understandings. If these last have any effect at all, it is only to weary or to repel
It is often asked, how far jesting is permissible at the Bar. It is not in good taste, perhaps, but I must admit that it is very effective. When the most grave work is being done, men feel the strongest tendency to laugh. It
is wonderful what slight and sorry jests will provoke shouts of laughter in a court of justice. I will not now consider the cause of this, though the philosophy of humour accounts for it. The fact suffices, that when surrounded by solemnity we are most easily tickled to laughter. The Advocate who can summon smiles to the lips of his audience will command their ears more certainly than he who can only call tears into their eyes, and both will achieve an easy triumph over the speaker who can do neither, let him be ever so accomplished in other respects. If, therefore, jesting secures the object of the orator, which is in the first place to procure an attentive hearing, a moderate use of it is permissible. But the danger of the practice lies in the difficulty of observing moderation. The habit grows with indulgence ; a successful jest to-day will provoke two to-morrow, and when the joke comes to the lips, it is almost impossible to suppress
the utterance of it. The conclusion is, that you may jest, with due discretion both as to quality and quantity ; but, conscious of the tendency of the practice to degenerate, keep a watch over yourself, to restrain the impulse when it comes out of place.
I have said that, in the vast majority of cases, you must not speechify to your juries, but only talk to them, especially at Nisi Prius. Eloquence would be worse than useless over a disputed account or a questionable contract-it would be positively ridiculous.
The more simple, straightforward and business-like your speech, the more influence it will carry. It should be plain to homeliness in its language, and entirely unoratorical in manner. You are to discuss with the twelve men before you a matter of business—nothing more; and you address them precisely as you would were you to stop any one of them in the street and hold him by the button while you talked over with him “that little affair.” I can give you no better illustration of my meaning.
Sometimes, though rarely, the occasion will arise when it will be your duty to appeal to the feelings of your Jury. Then do it thoroughly. Throw your whole heart into the work. Do not halt half-way ; do not fear that
go too far; I never yet saw a speaker fail from excess of emotion, but I have seen many fail from lack of it. If it becomes your business to appeal to the feelings at all, there is scarcely a limit to the sweep of the chords ; all may be pressed into your service to produce the one tone it is your purpose to evoke. But remember—and I repeat the rule yet once again, for it is the golden one that lies at the foundation of the art of oratory effectually to kindle the emotions of others
you must yourself be moved; to make them feel you must feel; a mere acted part will not answer. Sympathy is the secret string by which the emotions are awakened, and there is no sympathy with a sham, however well disguised and cleverly acted.