from The Borough
These lines are from George Crabbe's The Borough which is a description of the characters and preoccupations of an English township around the end of the 18th Century. Most things in it are drawn from life and are as sedulously faithful to their subject as Dutch genre painting. But the description of the lawyer's psychology is somehow more archetypal, as if Crabbe had ranged over the whole field of lawyerdom for his character. That said, they are brilliantly accurate.
Published 21/03/2010 | 05:00
Rage, Hatred, Fear, the Mind's severer ills, All bring Employment, all augment his Bills;
As feels the Surgeon for the mangled Limb, The mangled Mind is but a Job for him;
Thus taught to think, these legal Reasoners draw Morals and Maxims from their views of Law;
They cease to judge by Precepts taught in Schools, By Man's plain sense, or by religious Rules;
No! nor by Law itself, in Truth discerned, But as its Statutes may be warped and turned;
Of some good Act you speak with just applause, "No! no!" says he, "twould be a losing Cause;"
Blame you some Tyrant's Deed? - he answers "Nay, He'll get a verdict; heed you what you say."
Thus to Conclusions from Examples led, The Heart resigns all Judgement to the Head;
Law, Law alone, for ever kept in view, His Measures guides, and rules his Conscience too.