John Leycester Adolphus (1795-1862), co-reporter of the well-known law report Barnewall & Adolphus and, later, Adolphus & Ellis' Queen's Bench Reports, must of been bored as he trudged through the Northern Circuit with the Court of King's Bench, as duty barrister, assigned to the Court.

He wrote an eclogue, defined as poem which describes some aspect of rural life.

The scene is described as The Bank of Windermere at Sunset and it was performed, according to the Law Quarterly Review, "after dinner in the festive Grand Court holden while the Northern Circuit was at Liverpool for the summer Assizes in 1839" (J. L. Adolphus was later appointed a judge of the Court - for more on him, see B. & Ad.).

Windermere was a desolate location for the Northern Circuit - about as far as you could get from London for these court "circuiteers", some 230 miles (370 km). The town lay on the East shore of Windermere Lake (also home of the children's author, Beatrix Pottter).

The protagonists in Adolphus's law eclogue are Gregory Lewin and Addison ("A").

A: How sweet, fair Windermere, thy waveless coast!
'tis like a goodly issue well engrossed

L: How sweet this harmony of earth and sky!
'tis like a well concerted alibi.

cover page Ad. & E. law report, volume 1A: Pleas of the Crown are coarse and spoil one's tact,
Barren of fees and savouring of fact.

L: Your pleas are cobwebs, narrower or wider,
That sometimes catch the fly, sometimes the spider.

A: Come let us rest beside this prattling burn,
And sing of our respective trades in turn.

L: Agreed! Our song shall pierce the azure vault.
For Meade's Case proves, or my Report's in fault,1
That singing can't be reckoned an assault.

A: Who shall begin?

L: That precious right, my friend,
I freely yield, nor care how late I end.

A: Vast is the pleader's rapture, when he sees
The classical endorsement: "Please draw pleas."

L: Dear are the words. I never can read them frigidly:
"We have no case, but cross-examine rigidly."

A: Blackhurst is coy, but sometimes has been wont2
To scratch out Hogginss and write Addison.3

L: Me? Jackson oft deludes. On me he rolls
Fiend-like his eye, then chucks his brief to Knowles.4

A: What fears, what hopes through all my frame did shoot,
When Frodsham's breeches, Gilbert, felt thy boot.5

L: Oh! All ye jail-birds, 'twas a day of sulks
When Roger Whitehead flitted to the hulks.

A: Thoughts much too deep for tears subdue the Court.
When I assumpsit bring, and God-like waive a tort.

L: When witnesses, like swarms of summer flies,
I call to character, and none replies,
Dark Attride gives a grunt, the gentle bailiff sighs.

A: A pleading fashioned of the moon's pale shine.
I love, that makes a youngster new-assign

L: I love to put a farmer in a funk,
Then make the galleries believe he's drank.

A: Answer, and you my oracle shall be,
How a sham differs from a real plea?

L: Tell me the difference first, 'tis thought immense,
Betwixt a naked lie and false pretence.
Now let us gifts exchange; a timely gift
Is often found no despicable thrift.

A: Take these, well worthy of the Roxburghe Club,
Eleven counts struck out in Gobble versus Grubb.

L: Let this within thy pigeon-holes be packed,
A choice conviction on the BumBoat Act6

A: I give this penknife-case, since giving thrives;
It holds ten knives, ten hafts, ten blades, ten other knives.

L: Take this bank-note, the gift won't be my ruin,
'Twas forged by Dade and Kirkwood; see first Lewin7

A: Change we the Venue, Knight; your tones bewitch,
But too much pudding chokes, however rich,
Enough's enough, and surplusage the rest.
The sun no more gives colour to the West,
And, one by one, the pleasure boats forsake
Yon land with water covered, called a "lake".
'tis supper time; the inn is somewhat far,
Dense are the dews, though bright the evening star;
And Wightman might drop in and eat our char.8

REFERENCES:

  • Dade and Kirkwood, 1 Lewin 145 [NOTE 7]
  • Duhaime.org, Poetic Justice: Law Poems
  • Meade and Belt's Case, 1 Lewin 184, per Lord Holroyd [NOTE 1]
  • NOTE 2: According to the footnotes of the Law Quarterly version, "Blackhurst" was a barrister practising at Preston, England.
  • NOTE 3: According to the footnotes of the Law Quarterly version, "Hoggins (was) a barrister on the Northern Circuit - afterwards a Queen's Counsel."
  • NOTE 4: According to the footnotes of the Law Quarterly, op. cit., Jackson was simply 'an attorney" and Knowles: "C. J. Knowles, on the Northern Circuit—afterwards a Q.C."
  • Note 5: Of "Frodsham", from the Law Quarterly, again: "Frodsham, an attorney, was summarily ejected by Gilbert Henderson (Recorder of Liverpool) from his chambers, for some offensive words used by him during an arbitration. Afterwards Frodsham sued Henderson for damages for the assault. His counsel was Serjeant Cross. John Williams, afterwards a Judge of the Court of Queen's Bench, led for the defence, and concluded his speech to the jury by saying, 'I Tow to God, gentlemen, I should have done the same thing myself - an insult - a kick - and a farthing, all the world over!' The jury accordingly found for the plaintiff with one farthing damages. Cross tied up his papers and remarked, 'My client has got more kicks than halfpence.' But it was always a matter of doubt whether he knew that he was saying a good thing or not."
  • NOTE 6: An Act to Prevent the Committing of Thefts and Frauds by Persons Navigating Bumboats and other Boats upon the River Thames2 George III. c. 28
  • NOTE 8: though at the time, a barrister, William Wightman (1784-1863) was later appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench.
  • Pollock, Frederick, The Law Quarterly Review, Volume 1 (London: Stevens & Sons, 1885)