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This land of law, lawyers and lawmakers is badly in want of a jurist or two. Advocates, special pleaders, log-rollers, and codes that are recodified every twelvemonth are poor substitutes for a few men capable of perceiving the principles of equity, systematizing their expression and making them simple, uniform and absolute in practice. When a judge in one of the largest and most enlightened States of the Union grants a writ of error to a convict whom he has twice sentenced to be hanged, it is plain to the dullest unprofessional eye that something is radically and mischievously wrong with bench, bar, or legislature, or with all three. It makes the administration of justice, in its best aspect, a lottery; the goddess blindfolded, it may be, but only for drawing from the wheel. In the worst aspect it makes of it a hideous mockery. With the proverbial uncertainty of the law we have been long familiar. It is measurably curable. We are now confronted by its proverbial certainty to go wrong. Whether the cause lie in the mode of election and tenure of judges, a tendency of the bar to limit its responsibility by the title and the ethics of the attorney, or the endless tinkering of forty legislatures, or in all of these combined with other influences that might be suggested, it is evident that we are ripe for law reform, and that our Romilly cannot appear too soon.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
Sonnets, Songs and Stories.
By Cora Kennedy Aitken. London:
Hodder & Stoughton.
This little book is one of that numerous class which is the despair of the critic. Its spirit is so much better than its letter that one is left in doubt whether its author is incapable of more careful finish, or is simply disdainful of it. Mrs. Aitken is apparently a lesser Mrs. Browning, cast in a Scotch mould. She is fond of writing upon patriotic or historic themes, and through all her poems runs a current of strong religious feeling. Without being in any sense an imitator of Mrs. Browning, there is a certain trick of phrase here and there which recalls her style, while the choice of subjects continually reminds one of Mrs. Browning’s favorite themes. One of her sonnets, called “Unless” (an awkward title enough, by the by) begins thus: