Page 146

Nov Advocate 2017

944 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 But in many ways it was a very modern period. “The politicians were corrupt, the ecclesiastics lax, the middle classes intent only on making money, and the masses of the people licentious”, writes Harold Nicholson in The Age of Reason. “There was a general lack of confidence in law and order”. “As for religion, the subject, if mentioned in society, evokes nothing but laughter”, Montesquieu recorded. Another contemporary sadly wrote: “Our light looks like the evening of the world”. The light of the world has lasted, however, through another two and a half centuries, through industrial, French, American and a dozen other revolutions; the work of the Middle Temple carpenters has survived innumerable dangers, from the assault of Charles Edward Stuart’s highlanders, who brought pillage and devastation within three days’ march, to the onslaught of Hermann Goering’s winged warriors who dropped a bomb right into the Middle Temple Hall. The sturdy oak planks safely supported famous figures of English legal history while Wolfe was scaling the cliffs at Quebec and had seen 40 years of service by the time Cook discovered what was to become British Columbia. They were more than 80 years old when a diminutive admiral passed between curious bathers on an English beach to be rowed for the last time to the Victory, a century old when England escaped revolution through the Reform Acts; they had seen 137 years of service to the bar before the Fathers of Confederation arrived in London. In contemplating the ancient boards laid down by those nameless craftsmen of the Age of Reason which now serve the Vancouver bar at The Lawyers’ Inn, we might well reflect that had Wolfe not won, had Cook not come, had Nelson lost, had England revolted or had the Fathers stayed home, it is most unlikely there could today have been such a place as British Columbia. But speculation being unbecoming to the legal mind, we might perhaps more properly ponder whether these ancient relics bring any lesson for our times from the example of the architects of the Age of Reason. “They were confident,” says Harold Nicholson, “that by destroying the myths handed down by theology, by teaching their contemporaries to question all previous conventions and institutions, they would establish the principles of reason and justice and liberate the earth from the fallacies and cruelties of previous centuries." “It is curious to note that once creeds are abolished, credulity creeps in”, he adds. “It was the golden age of the charlatan.”


Nov Advocate 2017
To see the actual publication please follow the link above