A blupete Essay

On Manners, Part 12 to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Lawyers"

Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re -- mild in manner, strong in argument.

And do as adversaries do in law, --
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
Shaks.: The Taming of the Shrew.

How sweet and gracious, even in common speech,
Is that fine sense which men call courtesy!
Wholesome as air and genial as the light,
Welcome in every clime as breath of flowers, --
It transmits aliens into trusting friends,
And gives its owners passport round the globe.
James T. Fields: Courtesy.

Law's the wisdom of all ages,
And manag'd by the ablest sages,
Who, tho' their business at the bar
Be but a kind of civil war,
In which th' engage with fiercer dudgeons
Than e'er the Grecians did, and Trojans;
They never manage the contest
T' impair their public interest,
Or by their controversies lessen
The dignity of their profession.
Butler: Hudibras.

"... As the Frenchman said, 'Il y a toujours le manière.' Very true. Yes. There is the manner. The manner in laughter, in tears, in irony, in indications and enthusiasms, in judgements - and even in love. Manner in which, as in the features and character of a human face, the inner truth is foreshadowed for those who know how to look at their kind." (Joseph Conrad.)13

Oliver Wendell Holmes was of the view that all men of success required a fair capital of manners and set forth, "A Few Rules for Deportment":
  • Nothing so vulgar as to be in a hurry. -- ... Stillness of person and steadiness of features are signal marks of good-breeding. Vulgar persons can't sit still, or at least, they must work their limbs or features.
  • Talking of one's own ails and grievances. -- Bad enough, but not so bad as insulting the person you talk with by remarking on his ill-looks, or appearing to notice any of his personal peculiarities.
  • Apologizing. -- A very desperate habit, - one that is rarely cured. Apology is only egotism wrong side out. Nine times out of ten, the first thing a man's companion knows of his shortcoming is from his apology. It is mighty presumptuous on your part to suppose your small failures of so much consequence that you must make a talk about it.
  • Good dressing, quiet ways, low tones of voice, lips that can wait, and eyes that do not wander, - shyness of personalities, except in certain intimate communions, - to be light in hand in conversation, to have ideas, but to be able to make talk, if necessary, without them, - to belong to the company you are in, and not to yourself, - to have nothing in your dress or furniture so fine that you cannot afford to spoil it and get another like it, yet preserve the harmonies throughout your person and dwelling: I should say that this was a fair capital of manners to begin with.14
  • The true gentleman:
    "... he is one who never inflicts pain... The true gentleman... carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast - all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home... He can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours when he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort; he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best... He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults; he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned on philosophical principles; he submits to pain because it is inevitable; to bereavement because it is irreparable, and to death because it is his destiny."15
    And finally, -- Never, never forget your manners on dealing with the court. Accept the decision of the court immediately and with respect. A judicial decision may be appealed; but, at some point, a court's order in regards to a particular issue becomes final. Certainly, a lawyer has to learn for his own health to accept the decisions of the court and encourage his client to do the same. If one continues to be dissatisfied with the law or the way it has been administered then it should be pointed out that we have, available to us all, democratic means to change the law or the manner in which it is administered.


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    Peter Landry

    2011 (2019)