We recently came across this drawing by our hero Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) (whose desperate advocate we’ve appropriated in our masthead) that says everything you need to know about preparing for oral argument:
Google translation: “Do I need eloquence before so high a judge? As familiar with form as with background and who by his position will always be at the head of humanity?”
Sensing that some nuances had been lost in translation, we consulted our multi-lingual friend, an interpreter at the UN in Vienna. She wrote back:
“Humph, work for breakfast!
I’d never seen this one before.
So, he’s practicing declaiming.
One step beyond anthropomorphism, since it’s with a stick.
Nothing out-of-way in the expressions.
The French are always talking about forme et fonds, presentation/structure and substance. But these are also hatmakers’ terms: since felt hats are molded/formed and tophats have crowns with fonds in them. When forme et fonds are in harmony, all is tiptop.
And to be at the head of humanity is to be tops, as well as a topper.
And now, back to my baguette beurre!”