fastidiously picked up their skirts and retirednto carp that things had not turnednout as they expected. Henry and Brooksnspent their talents blaming their ownnand their country’s degradation onnSoutherners, Jews, the predeterminednforces of history, uncouth new men likenGrant (who were but the natural outcomenof their own vision)—on everythingnexcept themselves. By contrast,nthe Southerners staked all on their vision,nlost, and retired from the field chastenednbut with their honor intact.nThe self-emasculation of the Adamsesnin the fourth generation was the realndescent from glory. New England fellnswiflly from overwhelming predominanceninto genteel irrelevance or arrogant nul­nLabyrinthine PuzzlesnJerold S. Auerbach:/«s*ice WitifoutnLaw?; Oxford University Press; NewnYoik.nEugene B. Goodman: Ml the JusticenI Could Afford; Harcourt BracenJovanovich; San Diego, CA.nLeo Janos: Crime of Passion; G. P.nPutnam’s Sons; New Yorls.nJames B. Stewart: The Partners;nSimon and Schuster; New York.nbyX.MarkKulishnXt is at the bar and the bench,” proclaimednAlexis de Tocqueville, “that thenAmerican aristocracy is found.” Since hisntheme was the absence of aristocracy ianAmerica, Tocqueville could not leavensuch an extraordinary statement unexplained.nThe lawyer, Tocqueville acknowledged,nwas aristocratic only inncertain respects. His specialized vocationnconferred upon him a strong sensenof professional solidarity with his peers,nMr. Kulish tvrites front Denver, CO.n20inChronicles of Culturenlity. To the extent that the Puritan idealnof America was preserved, it was preservednby simple, clearheaded Midwesterners,nsprung of common or immigrantnstock, who went to work to redeemnthe American dream and to preserventhe American sense of decency.nTo the extent that that decency was preserved,nit was largely extrapolitical. Politicsnwas accepted as a degraded sphere,ntolerable only because it was unimportantnThe great dream of republican ethicsnand virtue that had inspired the Foundersnwas dead, never to be resurrected. Thisndescent from glory was more than thentragedy of one family. It was an Americanntr^edy, the echoes of which still reverberatendawn the long hall of history. Dnand a deeply ingrained habit of orderlynthinking. In other respects, he was ancreature and beneficiary of the ethos ofnindividual self-interest found throughoutnthe democratic society. Because nonfirm social latticework remained afternthe decline of an aristocratic order, seriousndisputes among individuals with nonenduring and definable social ties to eachnother had to be fought out and settled inna neutral and impersonal arena in accordancenwith venerable and authoritativenrules and procedures.nThe striving of persons (and, in time,nof corporations posing as juridical persons)nfor that equal justice under thenlaw, which the free democratic ordernheld before them as its great promise,nleft lawyers in the position of expeditersnof democratic social life. Their skill innperforming the tasks implicit in that mandatenhave often been admirable and atntimes even breathtaking. Yet as the legalnprofession expended its energies in morenand more grandiose and idiosyncraticnways, its aristocratic qualities werensteadily drained of substance. As thenfierce representation of clients’ interestsnbecame more obvious, the service ofnnnjustice became less apparent. The tracingnof procedure and precedent turnedninto a labyrinth, so that familiarity withnthe baffling passageways was essentialnfor survival in a harsh struggle of witsnand wUls.nEventually, the sacredly held (thoughnfiindamentally secular) ideal of equalnjustice for all was discovered to be elusive,ndifluse, and often profoundly unsatisfyingnwhen it was judicially attainednor vindicated. However noble this idealnmight be in itself, its grim pursuit oftennengenders, or causes to fiirther proliferate,na dreadful pettiness of spirit. Thus, asnwas implicit in Tocqueville’s descriptionnof its ambivalent character, the legalnaristocracy was imable to fiilfiU the highestnmission of an aristocracy as Tocquevillenenvisioned it: to lend greatness ofnpurpose to the activity of society as anwhole while leaving its members freenand creative. From this unsavory state ofnaf&irs there seems no clear avenue of escape.nLaboriously contrived means of attainingnjustice other than through a legalnsystem have proven equally legalistic,neven if nonlegal in name, and equallynconducive to a narrowing of aspirations—nin short, to mediocrity.nMr . Stewart’s The Partners is a lucidndescription of the upper reaches of thenlegal aristocracy as it exists today. As henrecounts eight instances of how variousnelite American law firms have respondednto the challenge of a particular case ornproblem, Mr. Stewart forgoes broad conclusions.nStill, one discerns throughoutnan unabashed reverence for the ideal ofnthe attorney-aristocrat, the grand expediternof irreproachable professionalnintegrity. The ideal is imperiled, however,nfor it is clear that Mr. Stewart alsonharbors an uneasy skepticism of the appropriatenessnof the character and scopenof the activities of such firms.nMr. Stewart’s accounts of such endeavorsnas the negotiation of the termsnunder which the frozen assets of Irannwould be released in exchange for thenfreeing of the American hostages, of then