A collection of muttered legal colloquy by some damned clever chaps, this latest addition to the dignified Oxonian shelf is gathered together and bound in somber ecclesiastical blue for those who may be captivated by prime courtroom wit. Readers who fancy themselves, like old Rumpole, gowned and wigged and wowing both Tipstaff and learned brethren at a country assize or a session at Ancient Bailey will find ready entertainment and sufficient material for several harmless daydreams. Cavorting through the pages as though they were appearing in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, Lord Chief Justices, mendacious witnesses, country juries, beadles and bailiffs all contribute their patented comic turns. To be sure, there are appearances by several Americans (including the redoubtable Howe and Hummel, layman Alex Woollcott, Darrow and Leibowitz), the odd Aussie and a ""barristress,"" but the show belongs to the fabled titans of British bench and bar. Some of the old stuff isn't all that terrific (the comic Irishman or the outwitted Jew, for example) but other material improves with age (like the convict who asks the court to consider the extreme youth of his counsel, or the doltish jurist who suffers a splinter under his fingernail as a result of scratching his head). Along with ""Horatio Bottomley being examined by Montague Lush, KC;"" and the notorious Tichborne claimant, there are some nice extracts dealing with such matters as a postwar French military trial or early days at the bar. All in all, a suitable text for the old attorney who has everything or the latest member of the bar--who hasn't much of anything yet.