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Ero avvocato; ero stato presentato al tribunale: si trattava ora di trovare i clienti. Tutti i giorni andavo al palazzo per vedere arringare i maestri in quell’arte e, intanto, mi guardavo bene attorno, sperando che il mio aspetto potesse risultare gradevole a qualche difensore il quale decidesse così di affidarmi una causa in appello. Infatti un avvocato novello non può brillare e farsi onore nei tribunali di prima istanza; solo nelle corti superiori si può fare sfoggio della propria scienza, della propria eloquenza, della propria voce e della propria abilità: quattro mezzi tutti ugualmente necessari affinché un avvocato, a Venezia, sia di primo rango.
I was a lawyer; I had been presented at the bar: it was necessary to find some clients. I would go to court every day to watch the masters of my art present their pleadings and to assess the various sides—and in the hopes that perhaps my visage would prove attractive enough for some prospect who might give me an opportunity to make my premiere in an appellate case. It is not in the courts of the first instance that a lawyer makes his audition or builds a reputation, it is rather in the appellate courts that one learns the lawyer’s science, his eloquence, his voice and grace: these are the four properties essential for an attorney, in any event a Venetian attorney, to reach the first tier of the profession.
–Carlo Goldoni, Memorie lib i, cap xxiv (1787)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”