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became the order of the day.* Lawyers swarmed in every town and village, and notwithstanding the multitude to be provided for, the fund, for a time at least, showed no signs of exhaustion. The supply could not exceed the demand. As one result, most exorbitant fees were exacted, and freely paid. As another result, a personal acumen, keen to discover this fact, attracted here a great legal acumen to take advantage of it, and as has been remarked already, the bar which assembled in term time at Jackson, the seat of government, included within it men highly gifted by nature, who, by close study and long experience, had made attainments in the science of law not often surpassed.
But occupying, as it did, this high position, it is no thoughtless panegyric which proclaims him of whom I am writing its brightest ornament. Others might, doubtless, have been selected who approached, nay, who reached the same level with himself in some one or more particulars, but in that wholeness of character already attributed to him, he far, very far, outstripped them all. In most, if not all the cases of first importance, where large interests were involved, or great principles of law were to be applied, his name, on one side or the other, is found as counsel, showing him to have been in the enjoyment of a practice as honorable, as extensive, as lucrative, as probably ever fell to the lot of a man similarly situated with himself.
And now occurs an event in his life which strongly illus
* The following extract from a letter, written by a legal friend, under date of VICKSBURG, April 18, 1833, will show with what violence litigation was raging at that point-and also how many were in readiness to help it on. The case was substantially the same throughout the State.
“To your inquiries about business, a paper I sent you some time ago, containing our advertisement, will give you the best information. We will hereafter have as much to do as we can well manage ; particularly of heavily litigated business. If you had been inclined to accept your brother's generous proposition to become a member of the legal profession, now would have been your harvest. There are two thousand and five hundred suits brought to the May term, 1838, of the Circuit Court of this county alone-more than a suit to each voter! We bring more than a hundred of these which is considerably more than the average to each lawyer --there being about sixty lawyers in town. We will also bring from twenty to fifty Chancery suits, the fee in each of which will be handsome. So that, to make the matter short, we are doing very well."--ED.
trates that generous hope, that consciousness of power which belonged to his nature. Disgusted with a State deeply branded with the stigma of repudiation--that vile thing he so deeply loathed and so bitterly denounced and attracted to a field where his versatile genius should have a wider scope and a more varied exercise, he turns his back upon the scene of his earlier triumphs and his later success, to commence over again the gallant struggle. He becomes a resident of the neighboring State of Louisiana, the only State in this Union where the Civil Law is found. He enters the lists where he must contend with weapons to which he is all unused, to find himself arrayed against veterans in the profession, whose fame was fully established as long ago as when, if not himself despised, he held the despised office of a teacher of youth on the banks of the Mississippi-veterans who for years, so. active had been the service, might almost be said to have slept upon their arms, and who had become perfectly familiar with all the intricate by-ways of that intricate system. A most hazardous venture, that few indeed would have tried, and from which fewer still would have wrested success. But even here Fortune follows her favorite, and suffers not the laurel with which she has decked his brow to fade or wither. But this sketch has already swelled far beyond my intention, and I may not follow him further. A few words relative to his success in the department of Criminal Law, and I have done.
That in the most dire exigence which ever happens to men in this world, services such as your brother was pre-eminently calculated to render should fail to be in constant requisition, is not to be expected. We accordingly find him, either in his own or a neighboring State, continually employed to defend men arrainged for offences whose penalty was death; and if the success attending his efforts cannot be called remarkable, it is only because in all such cases, acquittal was the rule-conviction the exceptior-a remark which is, perhaps, true, though not to tlie same extent, of even the older States.* Altogether aside
* It was in criminal trials that the juniors flourished. We went into them with the same feeling of irresponsibility that Alien Fairfield went into the trial of poor
from any of the accidents belonging to the case, a conviction for capital crime is a difficult thing everywliere. The leaning is all in favor of the accused. The legal maxim which gives him the “ benefit of a doubt,” is strongly seconded by the natural instincts of the heart, which, while it weighs the evidence, still never forgets the terrible penalty. A recent successful prosecution, obtained, it is true, against unusual odds, even in law-abiding, order-loving Massachusetts, was hardly less a cause of surprise than of gratification.
But when to these inherent obstacles is superadded a condiPeter Peeble's suit vs. Plainstaines, namely—that there was but little danger of hurting the case. Any ordinary jury would have acquitted nine cases out of ten without counsel's instigating them thereto--to say nothing of the hundred avenues of escape through informalities and technical points. In fact, criminals were so unskillfully defended in many instances, that the jury had to acquit in spite of the counsel. Almost anything made out a case of self-defence-a threat-a quarrel-an insultgoing armed, as almost all the wild fellows did-shooting from behind a corner, or out of a store door, in front or from behind-it was all self-defence! The only skill in the matter, was in getting the right sort of a jury, which fact could be easily ascertained, either from the general character of the men, or from certain discoveries the defendant had been enabled to make in his mingling among "his friends and the public generally," --for they were all, or nearly all, let out on bail or without it. Usually, the sheriff, too, was a friendly man, and not inclined to omit a kind service that was likely to be remembered with gratitude at the next election.
part of criminal cases, except misdemeanors, were for killing, or assaults with intent to kill. They were usually defended upon points of chivalry. The iron rules of British law were too tyrannical for free Americans, and too cold and unfeeling for the hot blood of the sunny South. They were denounced accordingly, and practically scouted from Mississippi judicature, on the broad ground that they were unsuited to the genius of American institutions and the American character. There was nothing technical in this, certainly.
But if the case was a hopeless or very dangerous one, there was another way to get rid of it. “The world was all before" the culprit " where to choose.” The jails were in such a condition--generally small log pens-that they held the prisoner very little better than did the indictment: for the most part, they held no one but Indians, who had no friend outside who could help them, and no skill inside to prize out. It was a matter of free election for the culprit in a desperate case, whether he would remain in jail or not; and it is astonishing how few exercised their privilege in favor of staying. The pains of exile seemed to present no stronger bars to expatriation, than the jail doors or windows.
The inefficiency of the arresting officers, too, was generally such that the malefactor could wind up his affairs and leave before the constable was on his track. If he gave bail, there were the chances of breaking the bond or recognizance, and the assurance against injury, derived from the fact that the recognizors were already broke.- The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi, p. 59. VOL. II.
tion of society tending to produce similar results, the difficulty is increased so as hardly to admit of being overestimated. The very laxity and inefficiency of the law furnishes the accused with a most legitimate plea of justification, and indeed has much to do in the interpretation and application of the maxims which define the offence. To determine what constitutes a "a reasonable ground of aların," so as to render a homicide justifiable as being in necessary self-defence, we must first know how far the authority of the State affords a protection, and how far each one is left to depend upon his own arm for defence. To compel a man to "flee to the wall,” even in the weakest sense the expression will admit of, in a country where the chances are that his opponent has a revolver in his pocket, and a bowie-knife under his yest, especially if at the same time there be small fear before his eyes of any law to deter him from using them, would seem an absurdity hard to be exceeded. To qualify herself for a successful prosecutor, the State must first prove herself to be a competent guardian. Paradox as it may appear to be—it is still true, that in a state of society where the carrying of deadly weapons is tolerated and practised, life is held very cheap, and at the same time very valuable; and a man who, in a sudden affray, or under a slight provocation, would not hesitate to take another's life, transferred to the jury-box, refuses to award the panishment of death, however justly merited.
The influence, too, of the survivor--I mean the accused party ---and of his friends, is capable of being exerted in very different degrees, as the society of which he is a meinber is more or less advanced, and is more or less under the authority of efficient laws. During my residence in Mississippi, I had offered to my notice, more than once, a practical illustration of this remark. Other similar considerations might be adduced to the same purpose, but it seems unnecessary to attempt a further explanation of the infrequency of such convictions, when it is rather matter for surprise that they should, under such circumstances, occur at all.
Address before the New England Society of New Orleans-Letters-Address on
Behalf of the Starving Poor of Ireland-Death of his Eldest Sister-Letters Address to the Returned Volunteers of Gen. Taylor's Army---Letters.
He began the new year, as usual, with a letter to his mother. Here it is :
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 1, 1846. MY DEAR MOTHER:-
I cannot let the day pass without sending you my most affectionate regards, and wishing you a happy New Year. I wish I was in Portland or you were here, that I might pay you in person my love and respect. I trust you are well and happy, and that many new years to come will continue to find you so; for your happiness is multiplied among all your children, and when you enjoy health and comfort, it fills us all with pleasure. Mary and Abby have both written you to-day, and I suppose given you all the news; so I shall not have much to say. We have at length got fairly settled down in New Orleans, and begin to feel at home. I am much pleased with the change, and like New Orleans a great deal better than Vicksburg. We are quite pleasantly situated, and have a nice house. I am gratified with my prospects here, and do not doubt I shall succeed very well. I have already considerable business, and if my health is spared, do not fear for the future. I only regret I did not move here many years ago.
The weather has been unusually cold and rainy, though now