Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

who had a full sense of his own importance both personal and functional, and who prided himself on the dignity of a British employé, (though the English did call him by the undignified name of “Black John," from a certain opacity of complexion,) presently returned, not pale, but yellow with rage, and told them that the Greek Archbishop had not only refused to resign Katinko, but falling into a passion, had shaken his right reverend fist in the face of him, the said « Black John," Impiegato di suu Maestà Britannica, &c. &c. The Consul then put on his uniform, and summoning his drogoman, they all went together to lay the business before Taïr-bey, the Mootzellim, or Governor of Smyrna.se

The Turk received them with dignified courtesy, and chibooks and coffee, but when the business was propounded to him by the Drogoman, he replied with something like a sneer and a reproach Mashallah! and what am I to do touching this matter? Are not the Cerigotes your own people, and British subjects, out of my jurisdiction? In truth it is a pity you cannot make them! comport themselves more decently !"

Now all this was true enough, for the Maltese, the Greeks of the Ionian islands, of which Cerigo is one, who abound in Turkey, and more particularly at Smyrna, enjoy all the privileges of British subjects, are subtracted from the grinding oppression and summary laws of the Turks, the masters of the country, and are dependent solely on the Consul of England. Mr. Bcould not but feel that the dilemma was rather an awkward one-he must show to the Turks, jealous of the protection and privileges our worthy protegés possess, and, be it said, sometimes abuse, his inability of preserving order, or punishing offences among them. This, however, he was obliged to do; and when he had explained that in the absence of British ships of war, he had no force to employ against the refractory, the Mootzellim summoned my old acquaintance, little Hadji-bey, and sent him off to settle the business, or at all events to recover the maiden, who like another Helen might have fired another Troy.

I have painted Hadji's portrait elsewhere, but for those who have not seen, or have forgotten it, let me sketch it here. Hadji-bey, or, as some of the English used to call him, “ Hatchet-bey,” from an hermaphroditical weapon, half-axe, half-hammer, which he always carried in his hand, is chief of the Police of Smyrna-he is a sage, dignified person, though his breadth may rather exceed than fall short of his height; he is a consummate dandy in his way withal; he always rides on horseback-his horse is always bedizened from portrail to crupper, from shoulder to knee, and he (the Hadji, not the horse) always hums! a Turkish tune as he goes about his avocation, though it may be at the moment to administer the bastinado, or to cut off a head. He is a great wit, and it is wonderful to hear the many funny things he has said, when heels have been inverted in the air, a neck squeezed in a bowstring, or a head placed between the legs. He is courteous to the Frank and Greek ladies, and admires them much, though he wonders what their husbands can be thinking about, to let them gad away, showing all their faces, and dancing and waltzing with other men, just as if nothing were to come of “ all that palming work." He has all a Turk's eagerness for money, and is never known to refuse a bribe, though the favour to be accorded to the briber, when he has once got his piastres in his pouch, is by no means so certain. But the qualities that so admirably fit him for the high office he holds in Osmanly administration, are firmness and prompt decision, indefatigable activity and cunning. No work comes amiss to him-he is as ready at one thing as another, and away, therefore, at the order of the Moot-' zellim, posted Hadji-bey, with some two hundred Turks at his heels, tacticoes, Albanians, and other bare-legged irregulars, to possess himself of the disputed person of the Cocona Katinko.

The principal Greek church and the Archiepiscopal residence are situated in the Frank street of Smyrna, and with a spacious, flagged court-yard, in part a cemetery, are enclosed by high walls. When Hadji and his troop arrived at the gate, he found it barricadoed, and saw, through a grating, that the court was occupied by a host of Greeks who were highly excited, and seemed quite ready to oppose force by force.

“ We must cajole the Pezavinks,” thought the astute Hadji,“ or they may give us some dirt to eat, before we get this chit of a girl," and he advanced with a friendly face to parley with the Greeks.

I regret I cannot render the Bey's eloquence, but it went to prove that the Franks were decidedly in the wrong that they were a cursed troublesome set, always putting Smyma in hot water for some wbim or other--that the Greeks were quite right in taking their own; but that for prudence and peace the Palikari had better place the cause of all this turmoil in his, their friend Hadji's hands he would only carry her to the Mootzellim's, who would only see justice done to all parties, and so all would end well.

The Greeks, who ought not to have been cajoled by one who had cajoled them so often, took the bait, and the fair Katinko was peacefully given up to: the worthy Hadji, who turned his horse's head towards the Governor's Konak, followed by the maiden with dishevelled hair, and her relations, and countrymen, who went along with his sturdy Turks. As he approached the Konak he sent the weeping subject of brawl and contention on before him, and no sooner was he within the strong palisade that surrounds the Governor's residence, than beating back the Greeks who had gone in with him, he closed the gates on the rest, and after grinning at them through the wooden bars, and speaking disrespectfully of their mothers and grandmothers, he dismounted and walked on to the house with Katinko.

The consternation of the poor girl in the midst of savage-looking, armed Turks was excessive: she knew not to what fate they were going to lead her ; but her joy was as great when she found herself in the presence of her kind master's friends, and heard from the Mootzellim that she was to be restored to him and her mistress, who had sailed for Constantinople during these proceedings, their vessel having weighed anchor as soon as Mr. S-saw the business in a proper train.

The Consul agreed to give the pretty Cerigote the protection of his own roof until another ship should depart for the capital; and it was determined that the restoration should be made with “ pomp and circumstance," to please the offended Franks and mortify the already mortified Greeks.

At the approach of the lovely evening--the evening of the same day--when the motley population of Smyrna was promenading, or the gaze-bos of the Christian houses were filled with black-eyed maidens, coquetting with the passers by, or talking of the stirring events of the morning, Hadji in his criinson cloak and smartest turban, and mounted his finest and most cumbrous saddle, with the pretty little Greek Katinko en croupe, and followed by the full array of his tacticoes, Albanians, and nondescripts, issued from the Turkish into the Frank quarter, and with an air of triumph, and humming his Turkish tupe, went with a solemn steps and slow" through the long narrow street to the door of the British Consulate, where he deposited his somewhat blushing charge.

A few days after, Mr. H-, an English merchant, took the fair Katinko under his charge, and conveyed her to her dear mistress at Constantinople, where her troubles were over, But the Greeks at Smyrna had to smart for having occasioned them: her brother was bastinadoed ; a number of Cerigotes and others were imprisoned, and the Archbishop and his church fined to the tune of fifty thousand piastres Turkish. Trade had been bad at Smyrna, the Mootzellim's receipts from the Custom-house most unsatisfactory; the worthy Governor, too happy at the opportunity of inflicting an avaniah on the Greeks, smiled as he encashed the fine, and, no doubt, said Mashallah! (God is great!)

C. M. F.

SKETCHES OF THE SCOTTISH BAR, NO. III.

Mr. Forsythe, A GREAT change has taken place in the general character of the members of the Scottish Bar since the time when Plydell might serve for their representative. Whether the change is altogether for the better, it might be difficult to determine.

Formerly, only the scions of the aristocracy were admitted into the faculty. Such of them as devoted themselves to business, possessed little general information beyond what a classical education furnished them with, or natural shrewdness enabled them to pick up in discharging the duties of a profession which, more than any other, brings a man in contact with all classes of society, and enables him to examine narrowly their pursuits, habits, and modes of thinking. They were honourable and urbane from occupying a distinguished place in the first circles; they were shrewd and self-possessed from habits of business; they possessed a correct taste from the nature of their early studies; they were narrow-minded from a habit of considering all subjects only as they bore upon their own pursuits; they were pedantic both from professional causes and the comparatively narrow sphere within which they moved. Like all their countrymen of the better classes at that period, they exhibited a strange mixture of refinement in their general deportment and coarseness in their hours of relaxation.

An essential change has come over the spirit of the profession. The wall of separation between the magnates of the land and the middle and lower classes has been broken down, and all find equally ready admission to the Bar. The example first set by Kaimes and a few of his contemporaries, and carried to greater lengths by Jeffrey and his friends, of cultivating faculties and tastes of the mind which have little immediate bearing upon the practice of law, is now almost universally followed. The Scottish Bar is more at ease with the spirit of the age; its sentiments are less exclusive; its range of ideas less narrow; its principles and motives of action less shackled, less tinged with the prejudices of a caste; its members more numerous, both because of the extended commercial relations of the country and of the greater field opened for the selection of them; they can not now look forward to necessarily vegetating, in the course of time, into one of those numerous official situations which can only be filled by them. They must be busy, active, pushing; and the necessity of greater exertion, united with the more indiscriminate reception of men from all classes of society, while it has called forth more masculine intellect and commanding characters, has also given birth to a great number of low, uneducated, reckless practitioners ;-it has introduced what was before unknown in Scotland—a class equivalent to the counsel of the Old Bailey.

The effect of this change has been, in the first place, to smooth down the characteristic features which distinguished our lawyers from the rest of the community. When there is any thing markedly pe

culiar about a member of the Scottish Bar in our day, you may rest assured that it is characteristic more of the individual than his profession. In the second place, it has rendered the circumstance of an individual's belonging to the Bar a less certain index of his station in society. The profession is still highly honourable; the importance of its duties; the talents it requires; the responsibility it infers, give an elevated tone to the more generous and educated mind. But at the same time, less exclusive than of old, it contains many neither of cultivated minds nor gentlemanly feelings--men capable of cringing to the lowest patronage-of the most disgusting servility-of any prostitution of the sacred character of a minister of justice which brings gain along with it.

Of the present members of the Bar, there is scarcely one who so well deserves to be studied as the subject of our present sketch, as well on account of the strength, originality, and peculiarity of his character, as on account of his having been the first to vindicate in his own person the right of every class of the community to be allowed admission into the Faculty of Advocates. The energy and perseverance with which Mr. Forsythe fought his way into that body, and the important consequences of his admission, in modifying its character, entitle him to consideration.

We defy you to pass him, even in the jostling throngs of the Parliament House, without notice, or without a wish to know something about him. His figure is heavy and colossal; the trunk seeming to cause even the sturdy supporters upon which it is propped to bend beneath its weight. To add to the massiveness of his appearance, his nether man is usually arrayed in pantaloons and gaiters, which can scarcely be said to deserve their provincial appellation of tights, for they hang around him in huge puckering folds like the skin of the rhinoceros. His gait is truly elephantine-ponderous and siow. His face is square and massive, rather receding from the chin to the top of the forehead-level as a plank, except for the protrusion of a tolerably-well-formed nose. He has a most decided squint, the apparent inclinations of his orbs of vision diverging nearly at right angles. The corners of his mouth are prolonged, as if emulating the sidelong extension of his look—and yet he is by no means an ugly man. His features are by no means unpleasing, only there is an iron expression in his visage, and an impenetrability, the result of the impossibility of encountering his look.

Nor may the reader set him down in virtue of this description as a mere brawny lump of vulgarity. It has been our lot to encounter Mr. Forsythe in evening parties, when he had laid aside his business anxieties, donned his close-fitting, glossy black suit, and powdered his head till it rivalled the driven snow. With all his unwieldiness, he had an air of dignity, and looked the gentleman of the old school. It is rare, too, on these occasions to see him without one of his daughters hanging on his arm, and her presence, and the hilarity of the hour, seem to eathe a softne o'er his rugged front. He looks for the time like Arthur's seal basking in a cloudless, breathless noontide. Without relaxing his wonted stiffness, he evidently enjoys himself after a quiet and peculiar fashion.

His style of speaking is quite in accordance with his appearance terse, dry, and any thing but fluent. He haws and 'hems, and his sen'tences drop from him abrupt, constrained, and slowly as eve-drops from the roof when the rain has long been over. There is no attempt at ornament in his diction, or elevation in his thoughts or sentiments. He employs the plainest and simplest words, and the least involved phrases, on all occasions, and rather seeks to reduce any topic to the level of his own habitual thoughts, than to allow himself to be carried away with it. Perhaps an example may best convey to the reader what we feel we are most hopelessly labouring to express.

The right worshipful magistracy of Edinburgh, and the equallyrespectable incorporation of butchers (fleshers, as they are termed in the Attic dialect of Modern Athens) chanced to go to loggerheads, and like all fools they insisted upon going further to law! and like most who go further, they fared worse. But we have no time to moralize. Mr. Forsythe was retained by the slayers of oxen. The peroration of his address to the jury was somewhat after the following fashion. (To complete the picture, the reader will have the goodness to keep in view the orator's clients in the back-ground, listening with pride and delight to the dignity with which he invested their cause.) * Hem!—Gentlemen of the jury! You may perhaps think the present question a small matter—(hawk, hem !)—but, gentlemen, I suppose you have all heard of John Hampden (hawk!). You remember that the object for which (hem!) he stood out against the King was, (a hawk, hem!) was neither more nor less than a pénny impost. (a-hem!) Now, gentlemen, this is precisely the case of my clients. So you see, gentlemen, (hem!) the cause you are this day called upon to try, is the very cause (a hawk, hem !) for which Hampden died on the field and Sidney on the scaffold !” These words, uttered in a harsh voice, with his eyes apparently wandering in any direction but that of the persons he was addressing, and an involuntary and habitual sneer in every tone and gesture, certainly did not elevate his clients or their cause above their natural sphere, but for the moment it reduced the proverbial heroes of constitutional freedom in the feelings of all the bystanders to a level with them. He could not “raise a mortal to the skies,” but he succeeded in bringing “an' angel down." His style of conducting and pleading a cause is worthy of the man

He takes a masculine grasp of the point he intends to urge, but he' rarely grapples with the pervading principle of a dubious legal question. He seeks rather to confuse every thing than to establish any thing. His object is rather to baffle than to conquer. He is better adapted for a protracted and obstinate defence than for an attack. “ Even though vanquished, he can argue still.” Let the Court decide against him upon the most obvious and palpable grounds, he will not give in, but seek to lead their attention to some point which has never been raised, indicating the arguments he could have drawn from this unregarded view, in hopes to shake the judges' confidence in the stability

of their own decision, by interposing between them and it such a vibrating atmosphere as we see on a warm summer day quivering over the plain, lending an appearance of motion to the

ner.

« AnteriorContinua »