Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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WILLIAM HUNGERFORD, one of the most eminent lawyers that this state has ever produced, died at Hartford, where he had resided during most of his professional life, on the 15th day of January, 1873, at the age of 86. At a largely-attended meeting of the Hartford County bar, held on the following day, the following resolutions were offered by Hon. Richard D. Hubbard, and adopted by the bar: -
"Resolved, That we, the members of this bar, have learned of the death of the HON. WILLIAM HUNGERFORD with feelings of the deepest sorrow, and we regard it a sacred duty to give to his memory this expression of our respect and regard. Mindful as we are of that eminent success to which he attained by his own industry and integrity, we would - while regretting that his career is ended - point with pride to the record of a life well spent in the labors of our profession. The high position which he occupied for so many years at this bar, and the public confidence and respect which he secured, and which became stronger and greater as his life grew longer, are signal and animating proofs to those who come after him that thorough legal investigation, severe application to business, and blameless purity, are virtues sure of their reward and worthy the emulation of all.
"Resolved, That we shall ever cherish the memory of our deceased brother, for his intimate and thorough knowledge of the science of law; his untiring devotion to his practice; his sound and reliable judgment; his uniform kindness and courtesy to his brethren; his conscientious regard for truth and justice; and for his spotless professional example during his long life, thereby elevating the character of the profession, and making for him the reputation he richly deserved, of being a model lawyer and an honest man."
The remarks of William R. Cone, Esq. and Mr. Hubbard upon the resolutions give a very full and interesting account of the life and character of Mr. HUNGERFORD. Mr. Cone was for many years his partner in the practice of his profession.
MR. CONE'S ADDRESS.
It will be expected of me, from my relations to him who has long been esteemed the father of this bar, that I should upon this occasion say something of his life and character.
WILLIAM HUNGERFORD was born at East Haddam, November 22, 1788, and was consequently 86 years and nearly 2 months old when he died. He graduated at Yale College in the class of 1809. Immediately after graduating he was engaged in teaching at the academy of Westchester, in the town of Colchester, for about six months. He then studied law with the Hon. Matthew and ex-Governor Roger Griswold of Lyme, and was admitted to the bar in 1812. He commenced and pursued his profession in his native town, East Haddam, until 1829, when, upon the election of the late Judge Williams to a place upon the bench of the Supreme Court, and Judge Ellsworth to a seat in Congress, he removed to Hartford, where he resided until his death, having outlived every member who was at the bar in the counties of Middlesex, New London and Hartford, where he usually practiced, when he was admitted. His life was never entangled with any care outside his profession and his studies. During the first eight years of his professional life, while at East Haddam, his business and income from his practice were exceedingly small, scarcely sufficient to meet his expenses; yet, during this time he devoted himself most earnestly to the study of law and elementary treatises within his reach, and patiently and most carefully prepared the cases committed to his charge. While thus making himself familiar with the leading treatises and with the maxims of the law, during these eight years, Coke upon Littleton was read and re-read many times; Fearne on Contingent Remainders was his companion and delight; and Blackstone was read through thirty times in course, and he was so familiar with the text that for years after he could give every division and subdivision in its order without reference to the book. During this whole time his practice was principally confined to the trial of cases before justices of the peace, where the amount in controversy was limited to the sum of thirty-five dollars. He also read carefully English history as a part of his professional study, and traced out with the greatest care the origin, rise and establishment of the laws and ordinances which lay at the foundation of the system of jurisprudence brought here by our Puritan ancestors; and he became more familiar with English history and its connection with English law, and the causes that gave rise to particular rules of practice, than any other lawyer I have ever known. During this time he also read and studied attentively the works of Shakespeare as the great delineator of character, and as affording an insight into the passions of the heart, and the causes which influenced and controlled the actions of men. Although not then a professedly religious man, yet he studied his Bible with the earnestness and devotion of a true Christian. And that old Bible, so well worn, has been the companion of his life, and bears upon its leaves and its every page the evidence of how well it was loved and how faithfully it has been studied during this life of eighty-six years. Law, Shakespeare and the Bible were his constant study, while history filled up the time not given to others. This period of the first eight years of his professional life, thus devoted to patient study, was the foundation of his great learning as a lawyer, his success as an advocate, and his familiarity and ready application and adaptation of the principles which underlie the science of law, to new facts and cases as they arise in the progress of business and in the development of new fields of industry and the new and ever changing sources of litigation. During all these discouraging eight years he regularly attended the sessions of the higher courts, both in Middlesex and New London counties, usually traveling the whole distance on foot, where he listened attentively to the trial of cases and the arguments of the lawyers, making himself familiar with the rules of practice in the trial of causes, while at the same time he made and cultivated the acquaintance of the leading lawyers of the state. At the head of the profession in that day were such men as Roger M. Sherman, Calvin Goddard, David Daggett, Seth P. Staples and Nathan Smith. These men, though his seniors, were his firm friends, and became his intimate associates. Sherman, the greatest lawyer of that day, once said of him that he himself was always instructed by a consultation with that young man; for he always had something to suggest in relation to a case which he had forgotten or which he never knew. And so at an early day he gained the confidence, esteem and good opinion of those giants in the law, and was often afterwards associated with them in the trial of causes upon the floor of the house, where cases before the legislature were then tried, and in the higher courts.
His first case in the Supreme Court of Errors was that of Watrous v. Watrous, in 1820, in which he was associated with Staples and opposed by Sherman. And from that time until he relinquished his profession, there was scarcely a term of the Superior Court in the counties in which he practiced, in which he was not engaged in some cases and often associated with those prominent lawyers. The case in which he acquired the greatest reputation after his establishment in practice, was that of Mather v. Chapman, growing out of the levy of an execution, and involving the question of constitutionality of an act of the legislature validating levies of execution, tried in the Supreme Court of Errors in 1826. The decision was to have been prepared by Judge Lanman, but for some reason was never done, and the decision was therefore never reported. He was associated in that trial with David Daggett, who was most enthusiastic in his praise of Mr. HUNGERFORD's argument, and lost no opportunity in commending his ability, industry, and patient investigation, and pronounced him the most able and learned lawyer of his age within his acquaintance. This was the turning point in his success and his reputation steadily increased until he was acknowledged to be at the head of the profession in this state, and probably had no superior as a lawyer in the country. For his great attainments as a lawyer, Yale College, in 1856, conferred upon him the degree of LL.D., and the honor was never more appropriately conferred. His industry was proverbial and wonderful. His endurance seemed to know no limit. When he commenced his profession there were few elementary books, scarcely any reports to be had, and in this dearth of books and law treatises, at one time he wrote out an entire volume, which he could not otherwise procure, that he might use it as a reference in the trial of his cases. He also compiled a manuscript volume of all the legal maxims which he could find in the course of his reading or heard in the trial of cases to which he listened, and this he used as a textbook.
When he came to Hartford the first volumes of the Connecticut Reports had been published, and they contained not more than three or four cases upon the subject of insurance. The whole law upon insurance has been established and settled since that time, and he had the chief agency in discussing and settling those principles. The law relative to steamboat navigation, involving that of common carriers, the law growing out of railroad charters and the condemning of lands for railroad uses, have all grown out of the progress of the age, and the great and leading cases connected with these branches of trade and business have been investigated by him and settled. The great case of The Hartford & New Haven Railroad Company v. Kennedy, is the leading case upon the subject of the personal liability of a subscriber or holder of stock for the payment of installments, and has been followed and sanctioned in every state in the Union. The opinion as delivered by Judge Huntington, compiled from the brief and argument of Mr. HUNGERFORD, contains nothing either in the arguments, illustrations or authorities, which is not contained in his brief, and has by the most learned lawyers and judges all over the land been pronounced one of the most learned and exhaustive arguments ever printed upon this subject. It has been spoken of as "one of exceeding power, nay of amazing scope and ability." His efforts were not spasmodic and displayed upon great and exceptional occasions, but uniform and powerful, commanding the attention and carrying with them the conviction of the triers; and whether the amount involved was large or small, his client had his best efforts and careful preparation. The case of Lyman v. Hale (11 Conn. Reports), although involving only a peck of pears, was carefully prepared and as forcibly presented as was this great and leading railroad case, upon the result of which and the establishment of the principle involved, the great railroad interests of the county, which have since grown to such proportions, depended, and upon which they have been sustained. His mind was of the highest order and the most comprehensive grasp, disciplined by habits of patient and arduous investigation, profound research, close reasoning and great powers of concentration, combined with extensive reflection and sound judgment. He was always cool and self-possessed, and nothing could divert him from his argument or distract his attention from the strong points of his case. A severe, demonstrative and exhaustive reasoner, with a voice harsh and powerful, with little or no effort at elegance, and seldom using other than the simplest language, yet upon occasions Mr. HUNGERFORD moved his hearers with a power quite irresistible. His wit and humor, both at the bar and in his private intercourse, made him always attractive and delightful. His stories were ever well told, and had a pertinency in their application which always hit to the point. His jokes always partook of genuine humor, and were never combined with sharpness or bitterness, calculated to wound or pain any one, even the most sensitive, and I do not believe he ever, by word or act, knowingly caused unhappiness to anybody. The tradition of the bar, the love of the right because it was right, the hatred of the wrong because it was wrong, and the outspoken denunciation of oppression or corruption as offences against the majesty of justice, never became to him things of the past. They were the controlling principles of his life, and were carried into every day practice in his profession, and so embodied in his very existence that he was never known to do a thing for the sake of securing a successful result in his case, which would not accord with the strictest principles of honesty, integrity, truth and professional honor and candor. No trick or chicanery, no swerving from the strictest principles of honesty, ever found place in his life or his professional practice. He had the confidence and commanded the attention of the court by force of his arguments, the clear, logical, systematic and orderly presentation of the facts of the case, from which he would demonstrate as conclusively and clearly as ever a mathematical proportion was demonstrated, that the result should be in his favor; and when he was through there really seemed left no room to question the conclusions which necessarily followed from them. His own convictions were formed after full investigation of his case - after ascertaining as far as possible what claims would be made on the other side, and how far and what proof could in probability be adduced in support of the adverse claim. Neither judge nor triers had any doubt of his sincerity. He would not argue a point which he did not himself believe. The judges knew and believed this, and so did the triers, and this gave him a power and influence which were astonishing, and while at the bar he was successful in more cases than any other lawyer in the state ever was. If he had a case which he did not believe to be just, or in which he had grave doubts whether he ought to succeed, he was quite sure to have settled or withdrawn even at the loss of his own fees, and the expenses, which he paid. He was exceedingly sensitive under an adverse decision, and would not, as some lawyers would have done, dismiss the case from his mind, but I have known him, after the labor and fatigue of a session of the court were over, so entirely review the preparation of a case, making an entirely new brief with reference to the arguments and decision against him, that he might see and satisfy himself whether he or they were in the wrong, and in what particular.
Another characteristic was his perfect professional unselfishness, and his readiness to aid any professional brother, especially the younger members of the bar, both in the county and from all parts of the state, who used to come to consult him in relation to their cases. I have know him to spend a whole half day, when he himself was especially busy, in looking up authorities and suggesting points to some young man, in the preparation of his case, out of the purist kindness, and because he remembered, and often referred to it, how relieved he himself once was in a case - an action of account, - about which he was greatly perplexed, by Judge Hosmer, who was a traveling index to the law, referring him to an authority which saved him his case. He was never tired of doing these acts of kindness to his brothers.
Mr. HUNGERFORD had no taste for political life, and was no seeker for office. While at East Haddam, he many times represented the town in the legislature of the state; and after his removal to Hartford was several times a delegate from this town to the General Assembly. He always devoted himself laboriously to his duties; was always a useful and most influential member, advocating and sustaining what he conscientiously believed to be right, and condemning what he believed to be wrong. In 1818 he was a member of the Convention which framed the constitution of Connecticut; and is believed to be the last survivor of that distinguished body of men. In politics he was allied in principle with the old federal, and afterwards with the whig, and later with the republican party; but he was in no sense a partisan, for he believed that for the interests of the country and the purity of the government it was necessary and desirable that party organizations should exist and be encouraged.
Mr. HUNGERFORD, although frequently urged by friends of all parties to accept the office of Judge of the Superior and Supreme Courts, would never consent to the use of his name for that or any other office. He was, as I have said, a most laborious man, never indulging in any recreation beyond his intercourse with his relatives and friends, and with such professional and business acquaintances as at times came to his office for an half hour or so and enjoyed his genial humor, pertinent, witty and pungent sayings, his extensive information, his knowledge of and familiarity with men and his estimate of them and their influence. When combined with his knowledge of the history of his own and other times, his intuitive judgment and knowledge of human nature and causes by which men are influenced, made him one of the most delightful companions and associates. Naturally diffident, retiring and most delicately sensitive in all his feelings, and having a certain muscular contraction of the face, produced in early life by an attack of the measles, similar to that which afflicted Lord Brougham, and which, as his lordship said of himself, "made his nose act as if conscious of deserving to be pulled," he excluded himself from general society, and was only known as a conversationalist and a social man by his intimate friends and professional brethren, all of whom delighted in his society. Among those who always sought his society as they visited the city and became his intimate friends were Judge David Daggett, Roger M. Sherman, Seth P. Staples, Nathan Smith, Calvin Goddard, Henry Strong, Jabez Huntington, Lyman Law, William P. Cleveland, Jacob B. Gurley, Ebenezor Learned, Asa Bacon, and others. When, however, thrown into general society, and among ladies, which was sometimes the case, he made himself most agreeable and interesting. Never lacking for conversation, familiar with all the topic and events of the day, ready with story, anecdote, and repartee, he made himself the attraction of the company. Although a bachelor he had a great friendship for children and their sports, in which he would engage with the simplicity and zest of a child, and was never so happy as with one on his shoulder, another upon his back, and a third in his lap, all pulling at his hair and his ears, or combing his head. He made himself as gleeful as the wildest of them.
Mr. HUNGERFORD had a strong attachment for home, and his reluctance to change his room at his hotel was such that for nearly thirty years, and so long as he remained there, he occupied the same. His office was the same until the rebuilding of Central Row, where he selected in Hungerford & Cone's block the place nearest the one previously occupied, and there for more than forty years, and within four feet, measured off from his writing table, he has had his home and spent his time, and there from seven o'clock in the morning till eleven at night during his professional life, except when at his meals or in the court room, he could always be found.
He was never a traveler. Professional business in early life led him once or twice over the borders into Rhode Island, and subsequently once to Springfield, and once to the city of New York; and with these exceptions it is believed he was never beyond the borders of Connecticut; and yet he was as familiar with the geography and general appearance and resources of other states, and the prominent places in them, and could converse as familiarly and intelligently in respect to them, and their leading lawyers and prominent men, as most persons whose knowledge had been acquired and made familiar by repeated visits to the places themselves. Nothing seemed to escape him which was worth observing, and he never forgot anything which was worth remembering. He had the wonderful faculty of making his extensive and varied information available at the right time and in the right place. He seemed to have it ever ready at his call to be applied to the purpose for which he desired to use it; and so it was in relation to his cases; every fact was made available, in its right place, every argument was made applicable to the proper point in the case, and everything was exhausted in the trial. At one time it was said, and it was probably true, that he knew more persons in the state of Connecticut whom he could recognize and call by name than any other man in the state. When residing in East Haddam and practicing in Middlesex County, there was scarcely a man in that county who arrived at manhood, whom he did not know and whom he could not call by name.
No man was ever more sympathetic or possessed of greater tenderness of feeling than he. In the trial of John Muchell for the murder of his son, Mr. HUNGERFORD was engaged for his defense. Muchell was believed to have money, and able to procure the attendance of his witnesses; but as he stoutly denied that he had the means, (which after his trial he acknowledged to be untrue,) Mr. HUNGERFORD furnished the money and undertook the defense. The night prior to his argument of the case he neither left his office nor closed his eyes. The responsibility which he felt resting upon him, involving the life of his client, was so overwhelming that he could not sleep. The apprehension that he might leave something unsaid or undone which might have saved him from the gallows, so pressed upon him that he unable to rest, and the effort he made was probably one of the best and most powerful he ever made; and it resulted in an acquittal of his client of murder, but he was found guilty of manslaughter. The sense of responsibility was so great, when the life of a fellow was involved, that he never after undertook the defense of any criminal, and refused to be engaged in any criminal case.
His strong attachment to his relatives and friends was another strong characteristic of the man. His father and mother lived to an advanced age; and so long as he resided in Middlesex County, every Saturday night found him at the old homestead to pass the Sabbath with them, in the quiet and sacredness of his country home, although the distance was nearly six miles, and usually traveled by foot; and always after his removal he spent some weeks of every year at his home; and when in 1835 he heard of the sickness of his father, which proved to be his last, when on the trial of a most important case at New Haven, he at once abandoned it, and in the night in the most unparalleled cold weather he hastened to the old home, performing most of the journey on foot to save himself from freezing, to see his aged father for the last time, and bury him; and he returned, sorrowing as only a devoted son could sorrow for a good father. In his early professional life, that father became financially embarrassed and his first earnings were devoted to his relief. He assumed and paid these liabilities to the utmost farthing and secured for the occupancy of his parents through life the old homestead, which ever had so many and sweet attractions for him as well as for them. Although it cost him the entire earnings of the first seventeen years of his professional life, he ever regarded the investment in that old homestead, worth perhaps $800, as the tangible property to show for it, as the most satisfactory investment he ever made, for it secured to them quiet and happiness for the remainder of their lives. Since then his accumulations have been freely and generously used for the comfort and support of a maiden sister, and the education and aid of nephews and nieces, whom he has assisted with an open and liberal hand.
There is another phase of the life just closed, to which if I did not direct attention I should do dishonor to the dead and injustice to the living, and especially to the younger members of the bar, who are entitled to the benefit and public influence of his example as a lawyer in this regard, and a great wrong to the profession of which he was so proud and distinguished an example. I refer to his character as a Christian man. He made no display of his religion; his Bible was his daily companion, and was daily consulted; and his well-ordered life was a witness to his sincerity, his Christian experience and devotion. His office, while in practice, was upon Central Row, and his lamp was the last to be extinguished, as he rarely left his office before eleven o'clock at night. For years before he made a public profession of his faith and united himself with the Center Church, that late hour of every day was in the silence and quiet of that office spent in religious observances, and in earnest prayer. There are those now in life, and others who have gone before him, who in passing that office door, after the bustle and labors of the day were over, have listened to his most earnest and touching prayers, remembering at the mercy seat his friends, his associates, and his brethren in the profession, and supplicating the richest of Heaven's blessings. These forty years and more has he been a man of prayer and of consistent Christian life. In June, 1861, he made a public profession of religion and united with the Center Church, and has died at the age of eighty-six years in the full possession of his faculties, and with a firm faith in the promise of the Bible, and in confident hope of a blessed existence hereafter.
He has been my friend, counselor and guide. For more than forty years we were associated in the most intimate relations, and during all these years not a word has been spoken or an act done on his part which has caused the slightest unpleasantness between us, and now I have parted from him for the last time on earth, but the meeting is only deferred for a little and a more joyful one, I trust in the City above. His monument is in his excellent character and great worth. "The marble, the bronze, the iron are decomposed by the air, or corroded by rust, but the remembrance of his bright example shall live eternally."
MR. HUBBARD'S ADDRESS.
The resolutions which I have had the honor to submit are not the mere forms of eulogy. They are words of truth and soberness which mark the departure of a great lawyer and good man. One after another, in quick succession, we have parted with nearly all the elder brothers of our profession. Not one who has not left behind a just and fragrant memory; not a few of them leaving in their places worthy representatives of their name and blood. We are called at last to part with the patriarch of our profession; not perhaps, the most brilliant of his fellows, but the severest student and sturdiest laborer of them all. A distinguished lawyer of France was once asked by the first Napoleon why he had never married. "Upon my word, sire, I have never had time," said he. This was literally true of our deceased brother. His profession was his sole mistress - his supreme ambition. To it he devoted himself in season and out of season, without respite, without relaxation, almost without society. In my appreciation he was a sort of hermit, who buried himself in his books and his work with more than religious vigor and vigils. His office was not a place of business merely. It was his home. Perhaps I should rather say his cloister, for he was rarely absent from it except on duty or business. Lord Coke, I think it is he, counts it one of the felicities of the common lawyer that he rarely dies without lineal descendants. If, less happy in this than some of his brethren, our friend has left no direct representatives of his name and line, we are all children of his professional lineage and heirs of his great example. Would that we were heirs of his great learning as well. But I fear he has dropped this mantle on no successor.
And this brings me to say that, in the multitude of his gifts, the greatest of all by far was his professional erudition. His memory was a natural hive for learning, and he stored and filled it up with the busy industry and cunning architecture of the bee. The evidence of this does not rest in tradition merely. His reported arguments in the Supreme Court for nearly half a century are the proof. Nor was his learning a mere barren collection of the memory, as is often the case with great scholars, but a mass of fertile and ready material which he knew how to mould and impress to the manifold and every day uses of his profession; and above all, and then most of all, when some knotty question arose, having its roots in the abstruse science of the law, or back in its ancient learning; such questions are likely to beset us, not only in consultations, conveyancing and pleadings, but all along and at every step of the trial, and sometimes they come upon us from ambush, as it were, and confound, perhaps overthrow us by a deadly surprise; it was on such occasions that he showed himself master of the field. He sprang to his weapons at a bound, and his weapons were a full equipment, from the strange heavy old armor of Littleton and the Year Books down to the most cunning and newly-contrived fences and foils of forensic warfare. In a word he was, I think, the most learned lawyer at the bar of this state. In saying this, I do not forget Sherman and Baldwin, and Ingersoll and Perkins, and such as they. I doubt if, as a legal scholar, the bar of America had his superior. To those who were not of the profession, and to whom therefore its scientific learning is a dry jargon, he seemed at times perhaps like a burdened camel, toiling through the parched and pathless desert, but to the learned judges who knew the value of his stores, his coming was a token of welcome, for he always came freighted with a better merchandise than that of spices and gold and silver. As an advocate he had few of the graces of the orator. His manner, though not awkward, was not graceful. His temperament was not magnetic, his mind not imaginative or brilliant, and he rarely rose into eloquence. His voice was somewhat harsh and untrained. His style was not free from certain mannerisms, and he sometimes smothered a little, his argument, as it seemed to me, with an excess of readings and citations. But in spite of all this, he was eminently successful both to the court and in the jury; to the court of course, because he was a profound lawyer, and to the jury because, though not a brilliant advocate, he possessed a vigorous common sense which pierced to the marrow of a question, and an honesty which was transparent. And then, in addition to this, he had a certain quaintness of style which served to embroider, as it were, the staple of his argument, and a gift, not perhaps of wit, but of dry humor - a strange and grotesque drollery which would burst up in unexpected jets along the line of his logic, and which served to gladden what might otherwise have seemed harsh and crabbed.
With his brethren of the bar he was not merely respected as a leader and chief whose character and virtues shed a luster upon all; but he was loved by all, for he was the soul of uprightness and honor in his practice. He hated pettifoggers and tricksters - those vermin of the profession, who set every man's hand against his neighbor - a class of men whom the law brands as barrators, and who, as some old English writer has expressed it, hate the settlement of a law suit as the hangman hates a pardon. He never attempted to tickle the ears of the groundlings in a trial, nor to draw blood from his adversaries by biting sarcasms. He never paid personal court to jurors, nor had "friends" on the panel, nor took "auricular confession" from the judges. The profession was not to him a mere trade in which to earn one's daily bread, nor a brawl for hire, nor a whetstone to the craft of politics; nor was it a means of assisting knaves to engineer Black Friday frauds, Erie rings and Credit Mobilier swindles, nor to promote legislative jobberies by corrupt services or unbecoming importunities in the lobby; but on the other hand a clean and conscientious function, in which as counsellor, as ductor dubitantium, clients were advised to the things which are honest and of good report, and in which the law, which is another name for justice, good morals and social order, was rightfully and impartially administered. Pro clientibus saepe, pro lege semper.
I have thus far spoken of the lawyer. Permit me now to say a word of the man. I received a part of my professional training in his office. I know something of his personal qualities and the beauty of his daily life. I shall remember not to forget them and what I owe to his kindness, his counsels and his wisdom. In a word, he was, within the range of his friendships - a range, to be sure, somewhat limited - one of the most gentle, simple-hearted and brotherly of men, a man of almost womanly innocence and purity of life. I have never known but one man who I think exceeded him in these qualities. He too was a lawyer. It was that rarest of men, the late Governor Seymour.
And now when I consider this long life closed - these many years ended of eminent labor in the highest ranks of the forum - and nothing left of it all but a tolling bell, a handful of earth and a passing tradition - a tradition already half past - I am reminded of the infelicity which attends the reputation of a great lawyer. To my thinking, the most vigorous brain work of the world is done in the ranks of our profession. And then our work concerns the highest of all temporal interests, property, reputation, the peace of families, liberty, life even, the foundations of society, the jurisprudence of the world, and as a recent event has shown, the arbitrations and peace of nations. The world accepts the work, but forgets the workers. The waste hours of Lord Bacon and Serjeant Talfourd were devoted to letters, and each is infinitely better remembered for his mere literary diversions than for his whole long and laborious professional life-work. The cheap caricatures of Dickens on the profession will outlive, I fear, in the popular memory, the judgments of Chief Justice Marshall, for the latter were not clownish burlesques, but only masterpieces of reason and jurisprudence. The victory gained by the counsel of the seven bishops was worth infinitely more to the people of England than all the triumphs of the Crimean war. But one Lord Cardigan led a foolishly brilliant charge against a Russian battery at Balaklava, and became immortal. Who led the great charge of the seven great confessors of the English church, against the English crown at Westminster Hall? You must go to your books to answer. They were not on horseback. They wore gowns instead of epaulettes. The truth is, we are like the little insects that in the unseen depths of the ocean lay the coral foundations of uprising islands. In the end come the solid land, the olive and the vine, the habitations of man, the arts and industries of life, the havens of the sea and ships riding at anchor. But the busy toilers which laid the beams of a continent in a dreary waste, are entombed in their work and forgotten in their tombs.
Yet the infelicity to which I have alluded is not without its compensations. For what, after all, is posthumous fame to him who brought nothing into this world and may carry nothing out? The dead leave behind their reputations alike with their estates. A man may be libeled to day as a fool, a fanatic, and a knave, and to-morrow his libellers sneak into his funeral procession, and the chief magistrate of forty millions of freemen begs the honor of two feet of space at his obsequies. It is the old story - the tax which posthumous fame so often pays for its title - a garret and a crust in life, a mausoleum and statue afterwards. What avails it all? We may justly console ourselves with the reflection, that we belong to a profession which above all others shapes and fashions the institutions in which we live, and which, in the language of a great statesman, "is as ancient as the magistracy, as noble as virtue, as necessary as justice" - a profession, I venture to add, which is generous and fraternal above all others, and in which living merit is appreciated in its day, according to its deserts, and by none so quickly and so ungrudgingly as by those who are its professional contemporaries and its competitors in the same field. We have our rivalries - who else has more? - but they seldom produce jealousies. We have our contentions - who else has so many? - but they seldom produce enmities. The old Saxons used to cover their fires on every hearth at the sound of the evening curfew. In like manner, but to a better purpose, we also cover at each nightfall the members of each day's struggle and strife. We never defer our amnesties till after death, and have less occasion therefore than some others to deal in post mortem bronzes and marbles. So much we may say without arrogance of ourselves - so much of our noble profession.
No better proof and illustration can be found than in the life just closed - a life clear and clean in its aims - full of busy and useful labors - void I dare believe of offence towards God and man, and crowned in its course with that three-fold scriptural blessing - length of days, and riches, and honor.