did not exist, as it was held objectionable that lawyers should direct men in their causes.
Men in all callings, and particularly the clergy, meddled and dabbled with the law's administration.
The Court House
was an early necessity, and was as easy of access to all as were the House of Correction
, the stocks and the schools.
Beside the meeting-house was the whipping post; in the market-place was the stocks.
The dealing out of justice was rough and substantial, though direct and effective.
When we remember the fate of Thomas Lechford
, who seems to have been the first lawyer in Massachusetts
, it is with a feeling of trepidation that we seek for his successors for many years after.
‘I am kept,’ wrote Lechford
, ‘from the sacrament, and all places of preferment in the Commonwealth
, and forced to get my living by writing petty things, which scarce finds me bread, and therefore I sometimes look to planting corn, but have not yet here an house of my own to put my head in or any stock going.’
It was not until the last quarter of the eighteenth century that law as a profession offered any inducement to men of learning and ability and that the dominant prejudice was overcome.
About 1768 there were about twenty-five lawyers in Massachusetts
; they were clustered at the larger and more thickly populated localities.
Many of the surrounding towns were, until comparatively recent times, without lawyers.
We look upon those distant and early days with a pitying estimate, a tender compassion, on account of the narrowness, ignorance and demoralizing customs then existing, yet, then were formed the elements of a national character, and of a great Commonwealth, with an unexcelled system of jurisprudence—a profession, within the circle of which the halo of fame surrounds many names commanding our admiration, stirring our enthusiasm and exciting our sober approbation quite as much as any military or naval glory.