Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Rarely has a death produced so painful a sensation in any community as did that of Lucius F. Robinson in the city of Hartford and throughout the state. A young man so full of promise, mingling so closely fulfillment and promise, and surrounded by so much to make life desirable, has not often been called from the world. With a culture of manners and a grace of person that fitted him to shine in elegant society, he combined the most substantial qualities of mind and character. With a fine classical education, which he regarded not as a mere preparation for the work of life, to be abandoned for its graver duties, but as a means of recreation and higher culture to be pursued through life, he possessed a natural vigor and penetration of mind which enabled him to grapple easily with the most abstruse and profound questions of the law, and in an industry that has hardly ever been surpassed by that of any enthusiast in any pursuit. Without the stimulus of pecuniary need, which is so necessary a spur to the activity of most men, he found a sufficient motive to industry in a high and honorable ambition to excel in his profession. To the aid of this ambition came an increasing and at last almost absorbing love of the law. I have heard him say that, after the fatiguing labors of the day in court or in his office, he could sit down late in the evening to read a volume of reports with more pleasure than he ever read a book of mere entertainment. With this love of his profession, this industry, and his superior intellectual qualities, and the discipline and culture of a fine education, he naturally attained very early a marked and prominent position at the bar, and at the time of his death, then but thirty-seven years of age, he stood in the front rank of the profession as a practitioner. No lawyer in the state, of his age, stood so high. He was employed during the later years of his life on as many cases, and on cases of as great magnitude, as any of the older members of the bar of his county, and he occasionally went into other counties, particularly for the argument of causes before the supreme court. With the increase of his professional business, the industry, of which he had already acquired the habit, became a necessity. No case which he undertook to manage was neglected by him, while to those of magnitude, or of special legal interest or difficulty, he gave an amount of labor in preparing them for trial, particularly upon points of law, that compelled him to forego the sleep and recreation that were indispensable to his health; and the disease under which he fell was brought on, it is believed, by the intense and unremitting application of mind to which, for some months previous, he had subjected himself.
Mr. Robinson had not reached that age when, with ripened judgment and knowledge, he might have given to the profession, in a durable form, some of the fruits of his study. His recorded memorials are mainly in the epitomes of his arguments as published in the later volumes of the Connecticut Reports. These volumes, however, contain one monument, more complete than the rest, of his legal capacity and learning, as well as of his literary culture, in the opinion of the Supreme Court in the case of The Connecticut Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. The New York & New Haven Railroad Co., 25 Conn. Reps., 271, which, though bearing the name of Judge Storrs, was yet written by Mr. Robinson, at the request of the judge. Judge Storrs himself informed me of the fact at the time, and I should not now feel at liberty to state it if he had not mentioned if freely to others since Mr. Robinson's death. The question there discussed is one of great legal interest, and it is treated in a masterly manner, as well as in a style of elevated judicial eloquence. The easy mastery of the subject on the part of the writer is the more striking that he had had no previous familiarity with the case by being connected with it.
Mr. Robinson was for several years the attorney of the city of Hartford, and almost all the legislative acts of the last ten years in relation to the city, and particularly those establishing or reorganizing the city court, police court, and court of common council, were drawn by him. The new charter recently granted to the city, and by which the city limits were greatly extended, and the complicated machinery of a city of the larger size introduced, was also prepared by him. No lawyer at our bar was so familiar as he with the local questions growing out of the administration of the city government.
He occasionally exercised his literary talents, which were of a high order, in political effusions, generally of a humorous character, and intended for the entertainment of a social circle, but always graceful and spirited. He also wrote, particularly in the early part of his professional life, occasional articles for the political press, though in his later years he took little part in politics. He also, in the year 1852, assisted one our city publishers in getting out an edition of Cotton Mather's Magnalia, furnishing translations of all the numerous Greek and Latin passages contained in it.
Mr. Robinson was born in Hartford, on the 1st day of February, 1824. He was the son of David F. Robinson, one of its prominent citizens. He was married in 1850, to the only daughter of Ex-Gov. Joseph Trumbull, of Hartford, whom, with four children, he left behind. His wife was a niece of Chief Justice Storrs, and Mr. Robinson had become a great favorite with the judge, who, having no children, regarded him with the fondness of a father, and after his death mourned him as a son. It is supposed that the weight of this affliction hastened his own death, which occurred a few months after. Mr. Robinson died of erysipelas, on the 10th day of March, 1861. During his sickness he expressed the most entire resignation to the will of God, and great peace of mind in view of his approaching death.
His death occurred on the day following that of Francis Parsons, Esq., who was one of his nearest neighbors. The Hartford County bar, at a meeting called on the occasion, passed the following resolutions:
"Resolved, That we regard with profound sorrow the deaths of Francis Parsons and Lucius F. Robinson, Esquires, members of this bar, who have just deceased; the one in the maturity of his manhood, the other in its prime; the one just completing a professional life of usefulness and honor, and prepared to crown it with a benignant old age, the other in the midst of the most absorbing and arduous labors of his profession, with a position already attained that would satisfy and ambition of most men, and the highest rewards of the law in sure prospect, and with an industry that made him deserve, and an ability and culture that would have enabled him to adorn, any position which an honorable ambition could have desired.
"Resolved, That while our hearts are deeply saddened by the loss of our departed brethren, we contemplate with great satisfaction their many excellences of character and Christian virtues, cherishing their memories, and commending their example to those who may seek, in the honorable practice of the legal profession, a life of distinction and usefulness."