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Some Features Of The Law
by [?]


THERE is a difference between religion and the amazing circumstructure which, under the name of theology, the priesthoods have builded round about it, which for centuries they made the world believe was the true temple, and which, after incalculable mischiefs wrought, immeasurable blood spilled in its extension and consolidation, is only now beginning to crumble at the touch of reason. There is the same difference between the laws and the law–the naked statutes (bad enough, God knows) and the incomputable additions made to them by lawyers. This immense body of superingenious writings it is that we all are responsible to in person and property. It is unquestionable authority for setting aside any statute that any legislative body ever passed or can pass. In it are dictates of recognized validity for turning topsy-turvy every principle of justice and reversing every decree of reason. There is no fallacy so monstrous, no deduction so hideously unrelated to common sense, as not to receive, somewhere in the myriad pages of this awful compilation, a support that any judge in the land would be proud to recognize with a decision if ably persuaded. I do not say that the lawyers are altogether responsible for the existence of this mass of disastrous rubbish, nor for its domination of the laws. They only create and thrust it down our throats; we are guilty of contributory negligence in not biting the spoon.

As long as there exists the right of appeal there is a chance of acquittal. Otherwise the right of appeal would be a sham and an insult more intolerable, even, than that of the man convicted of murder to say why he should not receive the sentence which nothing he may say will avert. So long as acquittal may ensue guilt is not established. Why, than are men sentenced before they are proved guilty? Why are they punished in the middle of proceedings against them? A lawyer can reply to these questions in a thousand ingenious ways; there is but one answer. It is because we are a barbarous race, submitting to laws made by lawyers for lawyers. Let the “legal fraternity” reflect that a lawyer is one whose profession it is to circumvent the law; that it is a part of his business to mislead and befog the court of which he is an officer; that it is considered right and reasonable for him to live by a division of the spoils of crime and misdemeanor; that the utmost atonement he ever makes for acquitting a man whom he knows to be guilty is to convict a man whom he knows to be innocent. I have looked into this thing a bit and it is my judgment that all the methods of our courts, and the traditions of bench and bar exist and are perpetuated, altered and improved, for the one purpose of enabling the lawyers as a class to exact the greatest amount of money from the rest of mankind. The laws are mostly made by lawyers, and so made as to encourage and compel litigation. By lawyers they are interpreted and by lawyers enforced for their own profit and advantage. The whole intricate and interminable machinery of precedent, rulings, decisions, objections, writs of error, motions for new trials, appeals, reversals, affirmations and the rest of it, is a transparent and iniquitous systems of “cinching.” What remedy would I propose? None. There is none to propose. The lawyers have “got us” and they mean to keep us. But if thoughtless children of the frontier sometimes rise to tar and feather the legal pelt may God’s grace go with them and amen. I do not believe there is a lawyer in Heaven, but by a bath of tar and a coating of hen’s-down they can be made to resemble angels more nearly than by any other process.