A Fragment from a Lawyer’s Portfolio
Nay then, if ladies learn the law
Our trade is disappearing:
If gentle belles grow pleaders, how
Shall we obtain a hearing?
From year to year our courts must sit
Without one long vacation;—
The wisest of us would want wit,
To answer one oration.
And, faith, to look and listen too
Will be too great a peril—
Chief justices again must sue,
And Chancellors demur still.
Your pleas and arguments to file
Too hard would be our duty;—
Who would shew cause against a smile,
Or make a brief of Beauty?
Then, Mira, (since in law your skill
A verdict might pronounce well)
If for myself I plead too ill,
Why chuse me for your Counsel?
Perhaps of advocates like me
’Tis wise to be the chuser;
For whatsoe’er I win for thee,
Myself must be the loser;—
To win thy birthright if I stand,
Against myself I’m pleading;
If thou hadst neither wealth nor land,
Mine might be worth thy heeding.
And should I lose thy cause, thou know’st
Thou never may’st be poorer;
Was every other title lost,
To me thou hast a surer.
Thou can’st not fee me, for no price
Could pay the zeal that stirs me—
Thy gold our wit and logic buys,
But not a soul to serve thee.
Since I, thy advocate, am taught
By thee, my youngest client,
My case for judgment shall be brought,
And thou shalt give advice in’t.
Let me as special pleader stand—
Be thou both judge and juror;
I only of the court demand
Reply without demurrer.
I claim a fair estate to hold
That but one deed can sever,
Untax’d, unmortgag’d, and unsold—
And hewn for purchase never.
Can wits, expert to find a flaw,
Conveyance of the heart doubt?
That freehold owns no heir at law—
The next of kin is barr’d out.
By deed of gift complete and free
To hold it I endeavour,
Else in Love’s Court of Chancery
I’ll lodge th’estate for ever.
There, if my judge disdains my plea,
My suit shall still be pendent—
Grant me but one in equity,
I’ll never make an end on’t.