I’m presenting soon at a seminar entitled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Rules But Were Too Afraid To Ask.” Trying to anticipate questions that lawyers might be too afraid to ask, I thought of this one: “who thought up these rules in the first place?”
So, I did a little research. Like a title search, I’ll work backwards.
Hoffman was an attorney in Maryland. To me, it’s fascinating that 181 years later, our rules are replete with vestiges of his resolutions. I’ve pasted in Hoffman’s 50 Resolutions below.
PLEAS DO NOT CONTACT ME TO COMPLAIN THAT THEY’RE TOO LONG TO READ. I AM NOT FORCING YOU TO READ THEM.
Also, this is a blog. It will still be here later if you don’t want to read all the rules now. You could read 1 a day for the next 50 days. Or none at all. Or all of them on a snow day in January. It’s totally up to you.
Anyway, for those of you too afraid to ask who thought up these rules in the first place, here you go:
1. I will never permit professional zeal to carry me beyond the limits of sobriety and decorum, but bear in mind, with Sir Edward Coke, that “if a river swell beyond its banks, it loseth its own channel.”
2. I will espouse no man’s cause out of envy, hatred, or malice toward his antagonist.
3. To all judges, when in court, I will ever be respectful. They are the law’s vicegerents; and whatever may be their character and deportment the individual should be lost in the majesty of the office.
4. Should judges, while on the bench, forget that, as an officer of their court, I have rights, and treat me even with disrespect, I shall value myself too highly to deal with them in like manner. A firm and temperate remonstrance is all that I will ever allow myself.
5. In all intercourse with my professional brethren, I will always be courteous. No man’s passion shall intimidate me from asserting fully my own or my client’s rights, and no man’s ignorance or folly shall induce me to take any advantage of him. I shall deal with them all as honorable men, ministering at our common altar. But an act of unequivocal meanness or dishonesty, though it shall wholly sever any personal relation that may subsist between us, shall produce no change in my deportment when brought in professional connection with them. My client’s rights, and not my own feelings, are then alone to be consulted.
6. To the various officers of the court I will be studiously respectful, and specially regardful of their rights and privileges.
7. As a general rule, I will not allow myself to be engaged in a cause to the exclusion of, or even in participation with, the counsel previously engaged, unless at his own special instance, in union with his client’s wishes; and it must, indeed, be a strong case of gross neglect or of fatal inability in the counsel, that shall induce me to take the cause to myself.
8. If I have ever had any connection with a cause, I will never permit myself (when that connection is from any reason severed) to be engaged on the side of my former antagonist. Nor shall any change in the formal aspect of the cause induce me to regard it as a ground of exception. It is a poor apology for being found on the opposite side, that the present is but the ghost of the former cause.
9. Any promise or pledge made by me to the adverse counsel shall be strictly adhered to by me; nor shall the subsequent instructions of my client induce me to depart from it, unless I am well satisfied it was made in error, or that the rights of my client would be materially impaired by its performance.
10. Should my client be disposed to insist on captious requisitions, or frivolous and vexatious defenses, they shall be neither enforced nor countenanced by me. And if still adhered to by him from a hope of pressing the other party into an unjust compromise, or with any other motive, he shall have the option to select other counsel.
11. If, after duly examining a case, I am persuaded that my client’s claim or defense (as the case may be), cannot, or rather ought not to, be sustained, I will promptly advise him to abandon it. To press it further in such a case, with the hope of gleaning some advantage by an extorted compromise would be lending myself to a dishonorable use of legal means in order to gain a portion of that, the whole of which I have reason to believe would be denied to him both by law and justice.
12. I will never plead the statute of limitations when based on the mere efflux of time; for if my client is conscious he owes the debt, and has no other defense than the legal bar, he shall never make me a partner in his knavery.
13. I will never plead or otherwise avail myself of the bar of infancy against an honest demand. If my client possesses the ability to pay, and has no other legal or moral defense than that it was contracted by him when under the age of twenty-one years, he must seek for other counsel to sustain him in such a defense. And although in this, as well as in that of limitation, the law has given the defense, and contemplates, in the one case, to induce claimants to a timely prosecution of their rights, and in the other designs to protect a class of persons, who by reason of tender age are peculiarly liable to be imposed on, yet, in both cases, I shall claim to be the sole judge (the pleas not being compulsory) of the occasions proper for their use.
14. My client’s conscience and my own are distinct entities; and though my vocation may sometimes justify my maintaining as facts or principles, in doubtful cases, what may be neither one nor the other, I shall ever claim the privilege of solely judging to what extent to go. In civil cases, if I am satisfied from the evidence that the fact is against my client, he must excuse me if I do not see as he does, and do not press it; and should the principle also be wholly at variance with sound law, it would be dishonorable folly in me to endeavor to incorporate it into the jurisprudence of the country, when, if successful, it would be a gangrene that might bring death to my cause of the succeeding day.
15. When employed to defend those charged with crimes of the deepest dye, and the evidence against them, whether legal or moral, be such as to leave no just doubt of their guilt, I shall not hold myself privileged, much less obliged, to use my endeavors to arrest or to impede the course of justice, by special resorts to ingenuity, to the artifices of eloquence, to appeals to the morbid and fleeting sympathies of weak juries, or of temporizing courts, to my own personal weight of character–nor finally, to any of the overweening influences I may possess from popular manners, eminent talents, exalted learning, etc. Persons of atrocious character, who have violated the laws of God and man, are entitled to no such special exertions from any member of our pure and honorable profession; and, indeed, to no intervention beyond securing to them a fair and dispassionate investigation of the facts of their cause, and the due application of the law. All that goes beyond this, either in manner or substance, is unprofessional, and proceeds, either from a mistaken view of the relation of client and counsel, or from some unworthy and selfish motive which sets a higher value on professional display and success than on truth and justice, and the substantial interests of the community. Such an inordinate ambition I shall ever regard as a most dangerous perversion of talents, and a shameful abuse of an exalted station. The parricide, the gratuitous murderer, or their perpetrator of like revolting crimes, has surely no such claim on the commanding talents of a profession whose object and pride should be the suppression of all vice by the vindication and enforcement of the laws. Those, therefore, who wrest their proud knowledge from its legitimate purposes to pollute the streams of justice and to screen such foul offenders from merited penalties, should be regarded by all (and certainly shall by me) as ministers at a holy altar full of high pretension and apparent sanctity, but inwardly base, unworthy, and hypocritical–dangerous in the precise ratio of their commanding talents and exalted learning.
16. Whatever personal influence I may be so fortunate as to possess shall be used by me only as the most valuable of my possessions, and not be cheapened or rendered questionable by a too frequent appeal to its influence. There is nothing more fatal to weight of character than its common use; and especially that unworthy one, often indulged in by eminent counsel, of solemn assurances to eke out a sickly and doubtful cause. If the case be a good one, it needs no such appliance; and if bad, the artifice ought to be too shallow to mislead any one. Whether one or the other, such personal pledges should be very sparingly used and only on occasions which obviously demand them; for if more liberally resorted to, they beget doubts where none may have existed or strengthen those which before were only feebly felt.
17. Should I attain that eminent standing at the bar which gives authority to my opinions, I shall endeavor, in my intercourse with my junior brethren, to avoid the least display of it to their prejudice. I will strive never to forget the days of my youth, when I too was feeble in the law, and without standing. I will remember my then ambitious aspirations (though timid and modest) nearly blighted by the inconsiderate or rude and arrogant deportment of some of my seniors; and I will further remember that the vital spark of my early ambition might have been wholly extinguished, and my hopes forever ruined, had not my own resolutions, and a few generous acts of some others of my seniors, raised me from my depression. To my juniors, therefore, I shall ever be kind and encouraging; and never too proud to recognize distinctly that, on many occasions, it is quite probable their knowledge may be more accurate than my own, and that they, with their limited reading and experience, have seen the matter more soundly than I, with my much reading and long experience.
18. To my clients I will be faithful; and in their cause zealous and industrious. Those who can afford to compensate me, must do so; but I shall never close my ear or heart because my client’s means are low. Those who have none, and who have just causes are, of all others, the best entitled to sue, or be defended; and they shall receive a due portion of my services, cheerfully given.
19. Should my client be disposed to compromise, or to settle his claim, or defense, and especially if he be content with a verdict or judgment, that has been rendered, or, having no opinion of his own, relies with confidence on mine, I will in all such cases greatly respect his wishes and real interests. The further prosecution, therefore, of the claim or defense (as the case may be), will be recommended by me only when, after mature deliberation, I am satisfied that the chances are decidedly in his favor; and I will never forget that the pride of professional opinion on my part, or the spirit of submission, or of controversy (as the case may be), on that of my client, may easily mislead the judgment of both, and cannot justify me in sanctioning, and certainly not in recommending, the further prosecution of what ought to be regarded as a hopeless cause. To keep up the ball (as the phrase goes) at my client’s expense, and to my own profit, must be dishonorable; and however willing my client may be to pursue a phantom, and to rely implicitly on my opinion, I will terminate the controversy as conscientiously for him as I would were the cause my own.
20. Should I not understand my client’s cause, after due means to comprehend it, I will retain it no longer, but honestly confess it, and advise him to consult others, whose knowledge of the particular case may probably be better than my own.
21. The wealthy and the powerful shall have no privilege against my client that does not equally appertain to others. None shall be so great as to rise, even for a moment, above the just requisitions of the law.
22. When my client’s reputation is involved in the controversy, it shall be, if possible, judicially passed on. Such cases do not admit of compromise; and no man’s elevated standing shall induce me to consent to such a mode of settling the matter: the amend from the great and wealthy to the ignoble and poor should be free, full and open.
23. In all small cases in which I may be engaged I will as conscientiously discharge my duty as in those of magnitude; always recollecting that ‘small’ and ‘large’ are to clients relative terms, the former being to a poor man what the latter is to a rich one; and, as a young practitioner, not forgetting that large ones, which we have not, will never come, if the small ones, which we have, are neglected.
24. I will never be tempted by any pecuniary advantage, however great, nor be persuaded by any appeal to my feelings, however strong, to purchase, in whole or in part, my client’s cause. Should his wants be pressing, it will be an act of humanity to relieve them myself, if I am able, and if I am not then to induce others to do so. But in no case will I permit either my benevolence or avarice, his wants or his ignorance, to seduce me into any participation of his pending claim or defense. Cases may arise in which it would be mutually advantageous thus to bargain, but the experiment is too dangerous, and my rule too sacred, to admit of any exception, persuaded as I am that the relation of client and counsel, to be preserved in absolute purity, must admit of no such privilege, however guarded it may be by circumstances; and should the special case alluded to arise, better would it be that my client should suffer, and I lose a great and honest advantage, than that any discretion should exist in a matter so extremely liable to abuse, and so dangerous in precedent.
And though I have thus strongly worded my resolution, I do not thereby mean to repudiate, as wholly inadmissible, the taking of contingent fees. On the contrary, they are sometimes perfectly proper and are called for by public policy, no less than by humanity. The distinction is very clear. A claim or defense may be perfectly good in law, and in justice, and yet the expenses of litigation would be much beyond the means of the claimant or defendant–and equally so to counsel, who, if not thus contingently compensated in the ratio of the risk, might not be compensated at all. A contingent fee looks to professional compensation only on the final result of the matter in favor of the client. None other is offered or is attainable. The claim or defense never can be made without such arrangement. It is voluntarily tendered, and necessarily accepted or rejected, before the institution of any proceedings.
It (i.e., a contingent fee arrangement) flows not from the influence of counsel over client. Both parties have the option to be off. No expenses have been incurred. No moneys have been paid by the counsel to the client. The relation of borrower and lender, of vendor and vendee, does not subsist between them; but it is an independent contract for the services of counsel to be rendered for the contingent avails of the matter to be litigated. Were this denied to the poor man, he could neither prosecute nor be defended. All of this differs essentially from the object of my resolution, which is against purchasing, in whole or in part, my client’s rights, after the relation of client and counsel, in respect to it, has been fully established, after the strength of his case has become known to me, after his total pecuniary inability is equally known, after expenses have been incurred which he is unable to meet, after he stands to me in the relation of a debtor, and after he desires money from me in exchange for his pending rights. With this explanation I renew my resolution never so to purchase my client’s cause, in whole or in part, but still reserve to myself, on proper occasions, and with proper guards, the professional privilege (denied by no law among us) of agreeing to receive a contingent compensation freely offered for service wholly to be rendered, and when it is the only means by which the matter can either be prosecuted or defended. Under all other circumstances, I shall regard contingent fees as obnoxious to the present resolution.
25. I will retain no client’s funds beyond the period in which I can, with safety and ease, put him in possession of them.
26. I will on no occasion blend with my own my client’s money. If kept distinctly as his it will be less liable to be considered as my own.
27. I will charge for my services what my judgment and conscience inform me is my due, and nothing more. If that be withheld it will be no fit matter for arbitration; for no one but myself can adequately judge of such services, and after they are successfully rendered, they are apt to be ungratefully forgotten. I will then receive what the client offers, or the laws of the country may award; but in either case he must never hope to be again my client.
28. As a general rule I will carefully avoid what is called the “taking of half fees.” And though no one can be so competent as myself to judge what may be a just compensation for my services, yet when the quiddam honorarium has been established by usage or law, I shall regard as eminently dishonorable all underbidding of my professional brethren. On such a subject, however, no inflexible rule can be given to myself, except to be invariably guided by a lively recollection that I belong to an honorable profession.
29. Having received a retainer for contemplated services, which circumstances have prevented me from rendering, I shall hold myself bound to refund the same, as having paid to me on a consideration which has failed, and, as such, subject to restitution on every principle of law, and of good morals, and this shall be repaid not merely at the instance of my client, but ex mero motu.
30. After a cause is finally disposed of, and all relation of client and counsel seems to be forever closed, I will not forget that it once existed, and will not be inattentive to his just request that all of his papers may be careful arranged by me, and handed over to him. The execution of such demands, though sometimes troublesome, and inopportunely or too urgently made, still remains a part of my professional duty, for which I shall consider myself already compensated.
31. All opinions for clients, verbal or written, shall be my opinions, deliberately and sincerely given, and never venal and flattering offerings to their wishes or their vanity. And though clients sometimes have the folly to be better pleased with having their views confirmed by an erroneous opinion than their wishes or hopes thwarted by a sound one, yet such assentation is dishonest and unprofessional. Counsel, in giving opinions, whether they perceive this weakness in their clients or not, should act as judges, responsible to God and man, as also especially to their employers, to advise them soberly, discreetly, and honestly, to the best of their ability, though the certain consequence be the loss of large prospective gains.
32. If my client consents to endeavors for a compromise of his claim or defense, and for that purpose I am to commune with the opposing counsel or others, I will never permit myself to enter upon a system of tactics, to ascertain who shall overreach the other by the most nicely balanced artifices of disingenuousness, by mystery, silence, obscurity, suspicion, vigilance to the letter, and all of the other machinery used by this class of tacticians to the vulgar surprise of clients, and the admiration of a few ill-judging lawyers. On the contrary, my resolution in such a case is to examine with great care, previously to the interview, the matter of compromise; to form a judgment as to what I will offer or accept; and promptly, frankly, and firmly to communicate my views to the adverse counsel. In so doing no lights shall be withheld that may terminate the matter as speedily and as nearly in accordance with the rights of my client as possible; although a more dilatory, exacting and wary policy might finally extract something more than my own or even my client’s hopes. Reputation gained for this species of skill is sure to be followed by more than an equivalent loss of character; shrewdness is too often allied to unfairness, caution to severity, silence to disingenuousness, wariness to exaction to make me covet a reputation based on such qualities.
33. What is wrong is not the less so from being common. And though few dare to be singular, even in a right cause, I am resolved to make my own, and not the conscience of others, my sole guide. What is morally wrong cannot be professionally right, however it may be sanctioned by time or custom. It is better to be right with a few, or even none, than wrong, though with a multitude. If, therefore, there be among my brethren any traditional moral errors of practice, they shall be studiously avoided by me, though in so doing I unhappily come in collision with what is (erroneously, I think) too often denominated the policy of the profession. Such cases, fortunately, occur but seldom; but, when they do, I shall trust to that moral firmness of purpose which shrinks from no consequences, and which can be intimidated by no authority, however ancient or respectable.
34. Law is a deep science. Its boundaries, like space, seem to recede as we advance; and though there be as much of certainty in it as in any other science, it is fit we should be modest in our opinions, and ever willing to be further instructed. Its acquisition is more than the labor of a life, and after all can be with none the subject of an unshaken confidence. In the language, then of a late beautiful writer, I am resolved to “consider my own acquired knowledge but as a torch flung into an abyss, making the darkness visible, and showing me the extent of my own ignorance.” (Jameson)
35. I will never be voluntarily called as a witness in any cause in which I am counsel. Should my testimony, however, be so material that without it my client’s cause may be greatly prejudiced, he must at once use his option to cancel the tie between us in the cause, and dispense with my further services or with my evidence. Such a dilemma would be anxiously avoided by every delicate mind, the union of counsel and witness being usually resorted to only as a forlorn hope in the agonies of a cause, and becomes particularly offensive when its object be to prove an admission made to such counsel by the opposite litigant. Nor will I ever recognize any distinction in this respect between my knowledge of facts acquired before and since the institution of the suit, for in no case will I consent to sustain by my testimony any of the matters which my interest and professional duty render me anxious to support. This resolution, however, has no application whatever to facts contemporaneous with and relating merely to the prosecution or defense of the cause itself, such as evidence relating to the contents of a paper unfortunately lost by myself or others, and such like matters, which do not respect the original merits of the controversy, and which, in truth, adds nothing to the once existing testimony, but relates merely to matters respecting the conduct of the suit, or to the recovery of lost evidence; nor does it apply to the case of gratuitous counsel–that is, to those who have expressly given their services voluntarily.
36. Every letter or note that is addressed to me shall receive a suitable response, and in proper time. Nor shall it matter from whom it comes, what it seeks, or what may be the terms in which it is penned. Silence can be justified in no case; and though the information sought cannot or ought not to be given, still decorum would require from me a courteous recognition of the request, though accompanied with a firm withholding of what has been asked. There can be no surer indication of vulgar education than neglect of letters and notes. It manifests a total want of that tact and amenity which intercourse with good society never fails to confer. But that dogged silence (worse than a rude reply) in which some of our profession indulge on receiving letters offensive to their dignity, or when dictated by ignorant importunity, I am resolved never to imitate, but will answer every letter and note with as much civility as may be due, and in as good time as may be practicable.
37. Should a professional brother, by his industry, learning, and zeal, or even by some happy chance, become eminently successful in causes which give him large pecuniary emoluments, I will neither envy him the fruits of his toils or good fortune, nor endeavor by any indirection to lessen them, but rather strive to emulate his worth, than enviously to brood over his meritorious success, and my own more tardy career.
38. Should it be my happy lot to rank with or take precedence of my seniors, who formerly endeavored to impede my ownward course, I am firmly resolved to give them no cause to suppose that I remember the one, or am conscious of the other. When age and infirmities have overtaken them, my kindness will teach them the loveliness of forgiveness. Those, again, who aided me when young in the profession shall find my gratitude increase in proportion as I become the better able to sustain myself.
39. A forensic contest is often no very sure test of the comparative strength of the combatants, nor should defeat be regarded as a just cause of boast in the victor, or of mortification in the vanquished. When the controversy has been judicially settled against me, in all court, I will not “fight the battle o’er again,” coram non judice; nor endeavor to persuade others, as is too often done, that the courts were prejudiced, or the jury desperately ignorant, or the witnesses perjured, or that the victorious counsel were unprofessional and disingenuous. In such cases, Credat Judaeus Apella!
40. Ardor in debate is often the soul of eloquence, and the greatest charm of oratory. When spontaneous and suited to the occasion, it becomes powerful. A sure test of this is when it so alarms a cold, calculating and disingenuous opponent, as to induce him to resort to numerous vexatious means of neutralizing its force, when ridicule and sarcasm take the place of argument, when the poor device is resorted to of endeavoring to cast the speaker from his well-guarded pivot, by repeated interruptions, or by impressing on the court and jury that his just and well-tempered zeal is but passion, and his earnestness but the exacerbation of constitutional infirmity, when the opponent assumes a patronizing air, and imparts lessons of wisdom and of instruction! Such opponents I am resolved to disappoint, and on no account will I ever imitate their example. The warm current of my feelings shall be permitted to flow on; the influences of my nature shall receive no check; the ardor and fullness of my words shall not be abated–for this would be to gratify the unjust wishes of my adversary, and would lessen my usefulness to my client’s cause.
41. In reading to the court or to the jury authorities, records, documents, or other papers, I shall always consider myself as executing a trust, and as such bound to execute it faithfully and honorably. I am resolved, therefore, carefully to abstain from all false or deceptious readings, and from all uncandid omissions of any qualifications of the doctrines maintained by me, which may be contained in the text or in the notes; and I shall ever hold that the obligation extends not only to words, syllables, and letters, but also to the modus legendi. All intentional false emphasis and even intonations in any degree calculated to mislead, are petty impositions on the confidence reposed, and whilst avoided by myself, shall ever be regarded by me in others as feeble devices of an impoverished mind, or as pregnant evidences of a disregard for truth, which justly subjects them to be closely watched in more important matters.
42. In the examination of witnesses, I shall not forget that perhaps circumstances and not choice have placed them somewhat in my power. Whether so or not, I shall never esteem it my privilege to disregard their feelings, or to extort from their evidence what, in moments free from embarrassment, they would not testify. Nor will I conclude that they have no regard for truth and even the sanctity of an oath, because they use the privilege accorded to others, of changing their language and of explaining their previous declarations. Such captious dealing with the words and syllables of a witness ought to produce in the mind of an intelligent jury only a reverse effect from that designed by those who practice such poor devices.
43. I will never enter into any conversation with my opponent’s client, relative to his claim or defense, except with the consent and in the presence of his counsel.
44. Should the party just mentioned have no counsel, and my client’s interest demand that I should still commune with him, it shall be done in writing only, and no verbal response will be received. And if such person be unable to commune in writing, I will either delay the matter until he employs counsel, or take down in writing his reply in the presence of others; so that if occasion should make it essential to avail myself of his answer, it may be done through the testimony of others, and not by mine. Even such cases should be regarded as the result of unavoidable necessity, and are to be resorted to only to guard against great risk, the artifices of fraud, or with the hope of obviating litigation.
45. Success in any profession will be much promoted by good address. Even the most cautious and discriminating minds are not exempt from its influence: the wisest judges, the most dispassionate juries, and the most wary opponents being made thereby, at least, more willing auditors–and this, of itself, is a valuable end. But whilst address is deservedly prized, and merits the highest cultivation, I fully concur in sentiment with a high authority, that we should be “respectful without meanness, easy without too much familiarity, genteel without affectation, and insinuating without any art or design.”
46. Nothing is more unfriendly to the art of pleasing than morbid timidity (bashfulness – mauvaise honte). All life teems with examples of its prejudicial influence, showing that the art of rising in life has no greater enemy than this nervous and senseless defect of education. Self-possession, calmness, steady assurance, intrepidity–are all perfectly consistent with the most amiable modesty, and none but vulgar and illiterate minds are prone to attribute to presumptuous assurance the apparently cool and unconcerned exertions of young men at the bar. A great connoisseur in such matters says that “what is done under concern and embarrassment is sure to be ill done”; and the judge (I have known some) who can scowl on the early endeavors of the youthful advocate who has fortified himself with resolution, must be a man poor in the knowledge of human character, and, perhaps still more so in good feelings. Whilst, therefore, I shall ever cherish these opinions, I hold myself bound to distinguish the arrogant, noisy, shallow, and dictatorial impudence of some, from the gentle, though firm and manly, confidence of others–they who bear the white banner of modesty, fringed with resolution.
47. All reasoning should be regarded as a philosophical process–its object being conviction by certain known and legitimate means. No one ought to be expected to be convinced by loud words, dogmatic assertions, assumption of superior knowledge, sarcasm, invective; but by gentleness, sound ideas, cautiously expressed by sincerity, by ardor without extravasation. The minds and hearts of those we address are apt to be closed when the lungs are appealed to, instead of logic; when assertion is relied on more than proof; and when sarcasm and invective supply the place of deliberate reasoning. My resolution, therefore, is to respect courts, juries, and counsel as assailable only through the medium of logical and just reasoning; and by such appeals to the sympathies of our common nature as are worthy, legitimate, well-timed, and in good taste.
48. The ill success of many at the bar is owing to the fact that their business is not their pleasure. Nothing can be more unfortunate than this state of mind. The world is too full of penetration not to perceive it, and much of our discourteous manner to clients, to courts, to juries, and counsel, has its source in this defect. I am, therefore, resolved to cultivate a passion for my profession, or, after a reasonable exertion therein, without success, to abandon it. But I will previously bear in mind, that he who abandons any profession will scarcely find another to suit him. The defect is in himself. He has not performed his duty, and has failed in resolutions, perhaps often made, to retrieve lost time. The want of firmness can give no promise of success in any vocation.
49. Avarice is one of the most dangerous and disgusting of vices. Fortunately its presence is oftener found in age than in youth; for if it be seen as an early feature in our character it is sure, in the course of a long life, to work a great mass of oppression, and to end in both intellectual and moral desolation. Avarice gradually originates every species of indirection. Its offspring is meanness; and it contaminates every pure and honorable principle. It cannot consist with honesty scarce a moment without gaining the victory. Should the young practitioner, therefore, on the receipt of the first fruits of his exertions, perceive the slightest manifestations of this vice, let him view it as his most insidious and deadly enemy. Unless he can then heartily and thoroughly eradicate it, he will find himself, perhaps slowly, but surely, capable of unprofessional, means, and, finally, dishonest acts which, as they cannot be long concealed, will render him conscious of the loss of character; make him callous to all the nicer feelings; and ultimately so degrade him, that he consents to live upon arts, from which his talents, acquirements, and original integrity would certainly have rescued him, had he, at the very commencement, fortified himself with the resolution to reject all gains save those acquired by the most strictly honorable and professional means. I am, therefore, firmly resolved never to receive from any one a compensation not justly and honorably my due, and if fairly received, to place on it no undue value, to entertain no affection for money, further than as a means of obtaining the goods of life; the art of using money being quite as important for the avoidance of avarice, and the preservation of a pure character, as that of acquiring it.
With the aid of the foregoing resolutions, and the faithful adherence to the following and last one, I hope to attain eminence in my profession, and to leave this world with the merited reputation of having lived an honest lawyer.
50. Last resolution: I will read the foregoing forty-nine resolutions twice every year during my professional life.