The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899, October 15, 1891, Page 5, Image 5

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    'J' II E H E g 1? E R I A N
proportioned room was surrounded by books. The best
editions of the best authors were there ami a generous collec
tion of the classics." 'These,1' said l'leydcll, "are my tools
of trade. A lawyer without n knowledge of history or litem
ture is a mechanic, a mere working'tnason. If he possesses
some knowledge of these he way venture to call himsell an
What are the Dooks that I would suggest to the lawyer
and which will elevate him from a "mere working man" to
an architect!
The Hiblc comes first, as it has the purest and most sim
ple English and furnishes an unlimited field of forcible illustra
tion. The lawyers ho draws his nictitrcs Irom that vast
storehouse can rivet the attention of the simplest mind, can
stir the most stubborn juror, and entertain the gravest judge.
Next to the Hiblc we must place Shakespeare, who wrote
as no other man ever wrote in the English language, whose
knowledge seems universal and power of expression bound
less. How arc we to measure the value of Shakespeare? lie
has lelt us a rich inheritance, greater than the possessions of
old England. If the wealth of England should be destroyed,
it could be replaced from the wealth of other nations, but if
the writings of Shakespeare the children of genius were
destroyed, how incomparably gi cater the loss, for there was
and can lv but one Shakespeare. That loss to the world
could never be estimated. Of the more ancient classics,
Homer and Virgil stand pre-eminent, and should be made
perfectly familiar to every advocate who would give his pub
lic speech adornment and range of fancy necessary to place
in high rank as an orator. Among the English orators and
prose writers, Edmund Hurkt, in my judgment stands high
est. His thought and depth and variety, his command of
languoge marvelous, his learning was universal, his illustra-
tions beautiful, and his manner polished. No man can read
Hurke lor an hour without feeling his own mind has become
expanded, and that he is ready to take a more comprehensive
view of the world that surrounds him, than before, l'lie
writings and speeches of Edmund Hurke should be the com
panion of every lawyer. America has not his equal in gener
al knowledge combined with classical culture, but she has
produced one orator who was a greater statesman, possessed
with more power when dealing with questions that concern
the welfare ol great governments. The reading of his speeches
expands and broadens the intellect, and fits the student for
deep and careful meditation upon the perplexing problems of
the law. I refer to Daniel Webster, whose name seems 1nsep
arable from the grandeur that surrounds his memory.
A lawyer, too, should have lighter literature to keep alive
his inventive genius, to keep his imagination from becoming
drllcd as age creeps over him. Scott, Hulwer, and Victor
Hugo stand high in this department. No lawyer should think
that he has ever readied the time of life when his hours of
recreation cannot be made pleasant by the companionship of
these novelists nor his mind brightened by their woi.dcrful
pen pictures.
I do not wish to be understood as fixing the limit of a law
yer's reading. I have simply suggested the character of lit
erature and range of thought necessary to develop the man
into a profound thinker, a cultured speaker and fit him for the
responsibilities of this most exacting profession.
The lawyer of America to become great must be something
more than a lawyer. lie should be a statesman. No lawyer
can ever be called great in his profession unless he rises above
the mere trial of lawsuits, which involve commonplace actions
in court for the recovery of money," or contests over the title
of real property. He only becomes great when he is able to
grapple with questions within the jurisdiction of our American
courts, which take cognizance of matters of national concern.'
Erskiuc became great in the defense of the people against the
the encroachment of the king, and when he secured the right
of trial by jury. Marshall became great when lie. defined and
carried out the expansive power of the federal constitution.
Pinkney became great when he argued the case of "The
Ncride," which evoked from Chief Justice Marshall the rec
ognition of a master mind as an orator. Daniel Webster be
came great as u lawyer when he wrested from the court the
famous Dartmouth college decision. William Wert became
great when he expounded before the power ol congress to rcg
ulate navigation within the limits of states in the case of Gib
bons vs. Ogdcn. I might go on with illustrations of William
H. Seward, Charles O'Connor, James T. Hrady, Jeremiah S..
Black, and of others no less renowned. I might speak of
some still living, such as David Dudley Field, William M.
Evarti, Senator Edmunds, John K. Dillon and a host of
The lawyers and judges who settled the questions ol inter
state commerce, of a national currency as defined in the legal
tender deicisions, of reconstruction amid the clamorings of
rival states, or the election of a president of this republic,
have held in their grasp the liberty of this people, have stood
between peace and war, and preserved the rich inheritance
of freedom.
So liberal and so thorough is the training of the minds of
great lawyers through the study of general jurisprudence that
they arc fitted to take places in the front rank of American
statesmen in the public service. One writer lias said, "the
mind of the American lawyer bounds through bioad regions'
in which it is permitted to expatiate as the winds daSh about
the great American prairies."
The highway of honor is open to American lawyers. They
have shown their executive ability in the government ofstates.
They have shown their legislative ability in.thc house ol rep
resentatives and in the senate. They have shown their abil
ity to uile nations by the large number who have filled the
presidcntialchair.The man who first fashioned the sound finan
cial poliey3f th's country was a lawyer, Alexander Hamilton.
The secretaries ol slate who settled the most trying difficul
ties between the United States and the nations of Europe
were lawyers, Daniel Webster and William II. Seward. The'
statesman who handled the portfolio of war during our late
gigantic rebellion was a lawyer, Edmund M. Stanton. The
man who held the destiny of this nation in his hands, and by
(iod granted wisdom brought freedom to 4,000,000 slaves and
saved the nation from the wreck and ruin of slashing armies,
as the president of our United States, was a lawyer, Abraham
And now a word to you as professois nftliio university.
The state has given ou the power to' add to this already
prosperous institution of learning, a college of law. In other
departments of the university you arc giving to the young
people a preliminary education, which fits them when they
have gone out. from this school lor study thereafter in special
callings,so that as to them you are not performing a complet
ed work. In the department of law, however, you have taken
a step in advance. In this you are undertaking to lit these
men to enter at once upon the practice of one of the noblest
and grandest professions. This work should be thorough
and complete. I have said something of the labors and duties
that these young men mast perform when they go forth
to battle with the world, if they are to secure' honor for them
selves and bring credit upon this university. They must
climb high upon the steps of the ladder of learning, so as to
be above the reach of meaner rivals. They must be fitted to
dive deep into the science of the profession which they are to