Curran And The Judge

Soon after Mr. Curran had been called to the bar, on some statement of

Judge Robinson's, the young counsel observed, that he had never met the

law, as laid down by his Lordship, in any book in his library. That

may be, sir, said the Judge; but I suspect that your library is very

small. Mr. Curran replied, I find it more instructive, my Lord, to

study good works than to compose bad ones.[1] My books may be few; but

the title-pages give me the writers' names, and my shelf is not

disgraced by any such rank absurdities, that their very authors are

ashamed to own them. Sir, said the Judge, you are forgetting the

respect which you owe to the dignity of the judicial character.

Dignity! exclaimed Mr. Curran; My Lord, upon that point I shall cite

you a case from a book of some authority, with which you are, perhaps,

not unacquainted. He then briefly recited the story of Strap, in

Roderick Random, who having stripped off his coat to fight, entrusted

it to a bystander. When the battle was over, and he was well beaten, he

turned to resume it, but the man had carried it off. Mr. Curran thus

applied the tale:--So, my Lord, when the person entrusted with the

dignity of the judgment-seat lays it aside for a moment to enter into a

disgraceful personal contest, it is in vain when he has been worsted in

the encounter that he seeks to resume it--it is in vain that he tries to

shelter himself behind an authority which he has abandoned. If you say

another word, I'll commit you, replied the angry Judge; to which Mr. C.

retorted, If your Lordship shall do so, we shall both of us have the

consolation of reflecting, that I am not the worst thing your Lordship

has committed.

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