The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899, October 15, 1891, Page 4, Image 4

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    Til K H ESP IS U I AN.
ns Shnkcsperc gathcied nil knowledge into poetry, snid of
the laws "It Is inc of the best and noblest of human sci
ences, n science which docs 'mere to cultivate nnd invigorate
the understanding than nil other kinds of learning put
together." The lawyer who undertakes to reach results by
evading or forsaking the fixed principles of that science, has
not reached that degree of attainment which makes htm n
worthy member of the profession. The judg who writes
opinions or reaches conclusions without the application of the
fixed principles of the science of law is but building flimsy
castles which will soon be in ruins about him. "Ol all
things human," remarked Tacitus, "the most precarious
and transitory is a reputation for learning and power which
has no strong support ol its own."
The law being a science, it demands adherence to its
fundamental principles. Who can read the maxims of the
law, as collected and illustrated in a single volume by Herb
crt liroom, without therein finding the rules that have con
trolled the judgments of the greatest jurists? These maxims
may be found running through the written opinions of judges
from the ruder ages to the higher refinement of the present
time, and have fuund a place in the code of every civilized
nation. We have reached an age when legal reasoning and
the applications of principles in the various sources of litlga"
tion occasioned by our increased commerce and national intct
course have produced subtleties and nice distinctions hot
formerly known, yet those have not dostroyc.l the maxims of
the law, but have rendered our accurate acquaintance with
them all the more desirable. 1 believe it is as true that an
accurate knowledge of the first principles is as imperative in
the study of law as in the study of any other science.
It is the province of the professor in the law school to see
that the mind of the student is drawn to these essential clc
incuts in his education and to cull Irom the vast libraries of
reports and decisions 'hose cases that illustrate the applica
tion of the primary elements and principles of hw to the con
travel ted questions between litigants.
It is the duty of I he professor to deal with the law as a
science, nnd to start the student on the highway towards
acquit ing a knowledge of the deep, broad, and fundamental
principles of that science. Such is the chief value of a law
The successful lawyer must love and idealize his profes
sion. He must be proud of its history, and exult in the great
names that adorn it. Pages from the books of the great
law writers should be to him as matters of common know,
ledge. Text books by leading authors, such as Hlackstone,
Kent and Grcenlcaf, Parsons, Cooley and Pomeroy, must he
mastered by the most intense, profound and iudelaligablc
' study. His thoughts must be impressed "and his enthusiasm
stirred by the far-reaching power of these writers in applying
the fundamental principles of the science of law. I am not
speaking of that study which the law student gives to these
writers, I refer to the study which the practical lawyer must
give in reviewing them. If ever a practicing lawyer comes
to feel that he has learned all the law that he desires tu
leain, and no longer devotes himself to study except when he
may find it necessary in preparing to argue a case in hand,
that man has reached the period of decline. Through
the thousands- of volumes of reports are scattered opinions
written by the greatest judges, which opinions stand out in
their majestic and beautiful proportions like the chiseled
work of renowned sculptors. It is in the reading of these
opinions produced by master minds, that the thoughtful law
yer finds how principles should be applied to reach results,
to arrive at correct conclusions.
The greatest of American judges was Marshall, .whose
scholastic opinions have the polish of the most refined litera
ture, and the keenest of judicial reasoning. His opinions
can always be read with profit and delight. The lawyer who
has become familiar with the opinions of Maishall, covering
the period of thirty-five years that he presided over the
supreme court ol the United States "with native dignity and
unprcteudimg grace," has become lamilinr with the manner
in which the sciejice of law is made to solve the most difficult
questions, by a polished reasoning that commands approval
and can provoke no dissent.
There have been others approaching near him. We can
not omit an allusion to that grand man, the late associate jus
tice, Samuel P. Miller, whose penetrating intellect detected
at once the impoilant facts in a case, and whose discriminat
ing mind seized upon the controlling elements and wont to a
conclusion that was invincible and always commanded the
highest respect. He was supremely fitted for his exalted
judicial position by his solid judgment, and his opinions can
always be studied as masterly expositions of the law.
There are those now living, on the bench ol the supreme
court of the United States, and on the supreme bench in
many ol the states, whose opinions brighten and embellish
the pathway of the studious lawyer.
When it is remembered that no man ever achieved lame
or power at the bar until he had practiced and studied law
for twenty years or more, it is idle to imagine that one can
depend upon superficial study or flashes of genius to make
him a competitor with the foremost men of the profession.
To become a first class lawyer one must have all the princi
ples and elements of law fastened upon his memory, and
must have so great a familiarity with the leading text books
and judicial opinions that the same may at nil times appear
spread out before him, subject to his gaze, as he would look
upon a vast landscape, viewing the hills and valleys, the
river and small streams wandering toward it, the trees and
flowers, all blending in harmonious unison, while from any
part of which he may turn for embellishments.
It is one thing to knowwh at law I?, and it is another thing
to know how to state it to a court. It is still another, and a
task cqunlly difficult, to gather facts and to state them to a
court and to so arrange and embellish them before a jury so
as to produce convictions unci reap results. A lawyer should
be a perfect scholar in the field of general literature ns well
as in the field of general law. lie should possess knowledge
on general subjects. In addition to literature and history, the
fine ails, poetry, music, painting, and sculpture should be
made to conti Unite to his store of valuable information
"l'rom a mind filled with classical imagery and poetic fancies
troop metaphors, which fix the fact, rivet the attention and
lend a pleasing charm to the speaker's style.
Illustrations of this we may find in the speeches of Ers
kine, Curran, Pinkncy, Choate and Prentiss, and by listening
to and studying the oratory of some of the greatest lawyers of
the present day, such as Joseph Choate, 'Robert Ingcrsoll,
William Evarts, Thomas J. Samuels, and were it not that I
might be thought to flatter I would mention two or more from
our own state of Nebraska.
The minds of jurors vary as do the tints upon the clouds,
and the advocates to remove prejudice and inspire confi
dence, must be able to draw the illustrations from the fields
of nature, remembering, as Virgil tells us, that "hearts are
touched by human things," and he must also employ the pol
ished rhetoric found in the classics.
Sir Walter Scott's, description of a lawyer's library in
Scotland, as found in that charming novel, "Guy Manner
ing," furnishes an excellent illustration of the extensive
learning necessary o make a successful lawyer. "The well
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