Letter from Eardley Nortous to R.Sadgopachariar

Posted in legal profession by Gautam on June 11, 2009

On my first day at the High Court, Chennai I was specifically asked to go over the first ever case entertained by the court (CS 351); the defendants of this particular case were perhaps responsible for why I found it so uniquely brilliant.  Defs. 1 and 2 were Mr.Jamshedji Kanga and N.A.Palkhivala.

In another room, there is a letter by Eardley Nortous to R.Sadgopachariar.  I took time off on my last day today to note it down:



Dear Sadgopa,

It is melancholy to think that today, on the close of this dying year, what changes you and I have seen in the many years that have glided by since you and I were young, times when we accepted every “Goose for a Swan and every lass for a queen.” Almost all my old friends have gone to their long account and you and I are just about the only two left to recall the days of July 1879.

Is it old age that has discouloured my vision? Have I really lost the capacity og gauging merit when and where I see it? I ask these questions because I cannot held holding that most institutions have deteriorated since you and I put on our gowns before Turner and Muthusami. Perhaps I am all wrong. But where is the patient courteous hearing, the obvious desire to learn all that had to be learnt, the meticulous scrutiny, lest inadvertently injustice should be perpetrated, the fearlessness of consequences- where have all these things gone?

Do our judges possess them not?  What is the answer?

I see it in the discontent stalking abroad, in the sullen acceptance of rulings where once they were accepted as the righteousness of judicial pronouncement, in the waning faith in British Justice, in the revolt against the system which hangs up the law of the land in order to be certain of convictions without appeal. Some of these innovations make even my blood boil. Can one be surprised if the younger spirit overtep the bounds of prudence and commit themselves to courses which common sense repudiates. We have fallen on parlous times. We need strong men determined to do what is right irrespective of all consequences. Where are they? You will not find them among the puny clique in Simla or Delhi…..

The modern seem very bent on repudiating all that the Statesmanship of the past was careful to build up, all that it prized, the good name of England for good faith, the reputation of Great Britain in the adage that an Englishman’s word was his bond. But I am not pessimistic. I see fine materials before me if only wisdom and imagination will perceive and make use of them. It will take long however to restore- if ever it can be done- the high moral tone of our common profession. I honestly think it would be imprudent to disfranchise every English lawyer for I cannot disguise that in some respects you have a great deal to learn from the best of us. The worst you can discard as soon as you like. My branch of the profession has fallen back with yours. Can we resuscitate either?

In the ultimate triumph of the principles for which I have laboured all my life, here I have no doubt. I forsee however obstacles of a serious character between yourselves and success and I regret to see that your countrymen are of their own volition raising difficulties none of which are the Englishmen’s creation. Well come to see me when I come down to Madras about the 12th of next month for a civil appeal in the High Court.

Meanwhile believe me your affect friend


Lots to make of and learn from this letter.

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2 Responses

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  1. payday loans calgary said, on July 9, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I should say that implicity has lots of interesting perspective. Looks like the author did a good job. will be regular here. Thank you.

  2. abc said, on August 24, 2009 at 11:21 am


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