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FRANCIS S. KE Y.
January 12th, 1843. The Attorney General, who was about to commence an argument in a cause before the Court, said, that before proceeding with the matter in hand, he would, at the suggestion of several of his brethren, state to their Honours, that very melancholy tidings had just reached this city, which might make it an appropriate tribute to departed worth, to suspend the business of the day for the rest of the day. He had just been informed that their distinguished Brother Francis S. Key, was no more. And therefore moved that this Court, in honour of the memory of the deceased, should stand adjourned till to-morrow.
Whereupon Mr. Justice Thompson replied:—The Court received this information with feelings of deep affliction, and, in compliance with the application of the Bar, will adjourn until to-morrow.
January 13th, 1843. On the opening of the Court this morning, Mr. Legaré, the Attorney General of the United States, made the following remarks.
“May it please your Honours: “A meeting of the members of the Bar and the officers of the Court, held since the adjournment yesterday, have been pleased to impose on me the melancholy task of communicating their proceedings to the Bench, and conveying to it, their sense of the loss which society and the profession have sustained, in the death of the late FRANCIS Scott Key. I cannot but be deeply conscious of the disadvantages under which I labour, in acquitting myself in this presence of the duty that has been thus confided to me.
“My acquaintance with the excellent man whose sudden death, in the midst of a career of eminent usefulness, public and private, and of the most active devotion to the great interests of humanity, we are now called to deplore, was until a very recent period extremely limited. But short as was my personal intercourse with him, it was quite long enough to endear him to me, in a peculiar manner, as one of the most gentle, guileless, amiable, and attractive beings, with whom, in an experience sufficiently diversified, it has ever been my good fortune to act. Ardent, earnest, indefatigable in the pursuits of his objects, and the performance of his duties,-eloquent as the advocate of whatever cause he embraced, because his heart was true and his sympathy cordial and susceptible,-decided in his own conduct, without one particle of censoriousness or acerbity towards others,—with the blandest manners, the most affectionate temper, the most considerate toleration of dissent, the most patient acquiescence in the decisions of authority, even where he had most strenuously exerted himself to prevent them-his life seemed to me a beautiful pattern of all that is lovely, winning and effective, in the charity of a Christian gentleman. I say effective, for his was no fugitive and cloistered' virtue, which gave no offence because it shunned all contest, and maintained its purity only by avoiding the contaminations of the world. He lived, on the contrary, in the very midst of the passions, the struggles, and the warfare of active and even public life,- he was always in the heat and dust of the arena, armed and equipped for conflict,-he omitted no opportunity of doing good, which either chance or design afforded him; and his patriotism and his philanthropy vied with each other in turning to account every moment of his time which was not engrossed in the cares of his fireside or the business of his profession. I remember with melancholy pleasure that the very last conversation which I held with him, turned upon a project of what he believed to be the most extensive usefulness, which had warmed his heart with enthusiastic hopes for his country and for mankind.
“Of the manner in which he discharged his professional duties, your Honours are, on every account, the most competent witYou know his fidelity to his engagements-his punctuality in attendance at his post-how laborious he was in the preparation of his cases-how full of resources in the management of a cause-how ready, how fertile, how ingenious in the invention and discussion of his topics. Your Honours are therefore fully prepared to receive and confirm the testimony, which his brethren of the Bar have been eager to bear, to the virtues and abilities that adorned him, and which in compliance with their request I have now the honour of submitting to you."
At a meeting of the members of the Bar and officers of the Court, convened in the room of the Supreme Court, in the Capitol, on Thursday the 12th day of January 1843, the Honourable John McPherson Berrein, of the Senate of the United States, was appointed chairman, and Richard S. Coxe secretary.
General Walter Jones submitted the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted.
This meeting has received with deep asfiction, news of the death of FRANCIS S. Key, the ornament of his profession and of human nature. His loss is felt by each individual of this meeting as that of a near, admired, and beloved friend. They feel that it is the general loss, the diffusive grief of the community, not any peculiar grief of attached and devoted friends. Himself the active and enlightened and self-sacrificing friend of man, by man was he beloved, hy man is his death deplored. The fresh emotions caused by his sudden death leave no room for eulogy; his eulogy is deeply spoken in these emotions, and lives in every heart.
This meeting therefore confines itself to such demonstrations of respect to his memory as are more immediately demanded by the character of the deceased and the general regrets which his death has occasioned.
Therefore, Resolved, That we wear the usual badges of mourning for the space of thirty days.
That the Hon. R. J. Walker, the Hon. Charles J. Ingersoll, the Hon. Aaron Ward, the Hon. James J. Roosevelt, P. R Fendall, Esq., Jos. H. Bradley, Esq., Wm. Thos. Carroll, Esq., and Gen. Alexander Hunter, be appointed a committee to go to Baltimore, and attend, on behalf of the meeting, the funeral of the deceased.
Resolved, That Mr. Legaré, the Attorney General of the United States, communicate these proceedings to the Supreme Court, and respectfully request in the name of this meeting, that they may be entered among its records.
Resolved, That the Chairman and Secretary also transmit a copy to the family of the deceased, and assure them of our sincere condolence on account of the great loss they have sustained.”
To which Mr. Justice Thompson made the following reply:
“ The information communicated by the Bar, of the sudden and unexpected death of Mr. Key, was received by the Court with feelings of most sincere regret.
“ The suddenness of this affictive event, is calculated to make a deep impression upon all. His intimate intercourse with the Bar, and his near connexion with one of the Court, bring this dispensation nearer home to us all, accompanied with the solemn admonition.be ye also ready.' We feel very sincerely the loss which the Bench, as well as the Bar, has sustained in this event. We have been so long accustomed to see him at the bar, that his absence will leave a painful void. And the loss of the pleasure and instruction with which we have listened to his arguments will be most sensibly felt. Mr. Key's talents were of a very high order. His mind was well stored with legal learning, and his literary taste and attainments were highly distinguished; and added to these was a private character which holds out to the Bar a bright example for imitation. The loss of such a man cannot but be sincerely deplored.
“ In compliance with the request of the Bar, their proceedings will be entered upon the minutes of the Court."