A cavalcade was coming by, and upon enquiry it was found to be a crowd of people with a lawyer gagged. The knob in his mouth was rather long; and the poor man seemed to be in pain, by the extension of his jaws. He could not speak, which was a great privation, it being his daily employment, and the labour of his vocation. For the people thought he spoke too much, or at least was tedious in his speeches, and took up the time of the court, and juries, unnecessarily. But this was a new way of correcting amplification in an orator. It is true that things strike more than words, and the soldier, in a Roman assembly, who held up the stump of his arm lost in battle, pleaded more effectually, for his brother, the accused, than all the powers of eloquence. But it was a wicked thing, and entirely, a la mob, to stretch the jaws so immeasurably. But the people will have their way; when they get a thing into their heads; there is no stopping them; especially on a fair day, such as this was. It is true the thing was illegal, and he could have his action, but they took their chance of that.
The fact is, the tediousness of lawyers, in their harangues, is beyond bearing, and is enough to drive the people to adjustment bills, and any thing, to get quit of them. The opener of a cause must lead you into the whole transaction, instead of leaving it to the evidence to do it. He must give you a view of the whole scope of his case. This might be in a few words. But he wants to make a speech; a strong impression at the first. He must tell you how he means to draw up his evidence; how to fight his men. I should not like my adversary to know this; I would not tell the court, lest he should hear it. What would we think of a general who should mount the rostrum in the presence of the enemy, and explain the order of his battle? I love the art of managing a cause for its own sake, and I like to see it scientifically won. The less speaking, almost always, the better for a cause. There s such a thing, as "darkening counsel by words without knowledge." Atticism is favourable to perception in the hearer. We do not carry wheat to be ground before it is sifted of the chaff. Yet there may be an error on the other side. The declination to brevity may be too great. I am afraid to say much on this head, lest I should be understood to undervalue eloquence, and check it altogether. But certain it is, that excess is on the side of quantity, in speaking at the bar at present. The juries feel it, and twist and turn themselves into all shapes to avoid it. The courts feel it, and on many occasions groan for deliverance.