This chapter takes a look at the barristers. Becoming a barrister was always something of a gamble: only a minority achieved even a modicum of professional success, and many quit the profession in disgust while relatively young men. The position worsened in the years after the Napoleonic Wars when the size of the Bar expanded far more quickly than the demand for barristers — partly because the end of the war made alternative careers in the army and navy much less appealing. Nonetheless for an ambitious young man, particularly of an earlier generation, the Bar was not necessarily a bad choice: it required great effort and considerable ability, luck and patience, while the rewards were far from certain. But it was relatively open to talent, and the rewards of success were great, not just in material terms, but in prestige and fame, and it could open a door into a career in politics as well as in the law.
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