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OUR NOBLE CALLING
THE LEGAL PROFESSION
POINT OF THE JOKE
DECISION ON BAPTISM
A REMARKABLE INCIDENT
· A DOUBTFUL COMPLIMENT STRONG PERSONAL ATTACHMENT-IRISH WIT-ENGLISH JOKES ABOUT LAWYERS GREATNESS UNAPPRECIATED ALL IN HIS WIFE'S NAME A RETORT BY CURRAN - REMITTING A FINE A CASE ON ALL-FOURS"—"GOING OUT WITH THE TIDE.'
S we well know, lawyers generally entertain an exceedingly exalted opinion of their profession. Textbooks, opinions of courts, addresses innumerable to graduating students, all bear witness to the fact that our noble profession is the most honorable of human callings, the safeguard of society, the palladium of our liberty.
True, some uncharitable layman has suggested: "Yes, all this, and more, has been said a thousand times, but always by lawyers."
There are persons yet in life who, practically at least, hold with Aaron Burr, that "law is that which is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained," and that lawyers, like the Roman augurs of old, always smile when they meet one another on the street. The by no means exalted opinion of two men as to "our noble profession" will appear from the following.
A few days after Knott was admitted to the bar, he was sitting alone in his office, waiting for clients, when a onegallowsed, awkward-looking fellow from the "brush" walked in without ceremony, dropped into the only vacant chair, and inquired: "Air you a lawyer, mister?" Assuming the manner of one of the regulars, Knott unhesitatingly answered that he was. "Well," said the visitor, "I thought I would drap in and git you to fetch a few suits for me." Picking up his pen with the air of a man with whom suing people was an everyday, matter-of-course sort of an affair, Knott said:
"Who did you wish to sue?" To which—with a prolonged yawn the prospective client drawled out: "I ain't particular, Mister, I jest thought I'd get you to pick out a few skerry fellows that would complemise easy!"
The remaining incident is an experience of my own, when, at the age of twenty-two, I had hung out my sign in the then county-seat of Old Woodford.
My first client had retained me to obtain a divorce because of abandonment during the two years last past by the sometime partner of his joys and sorrows. The bill for divorce was duly filed; but on "the coming in of the answer," a continuance of the suit, for cause shown, was granted to the defendant.
At an early hour on the morning thereafter, my client called, and I soon discovered he was in a frame of mind by no means joyous. The disappointment he expressed at the continuance of his suit was evidently sincere. My explanation of the impossibility of preventing it, and the confident hope I held out that he would certainly get his divorce at the next term, evidently gave him little relief. He at length intimated a desire to have a confidential talk with me. I took him into my "private office" (that has a professional sound, but as a matter of fact my office had but one room, and that was open as day" to everybody) and assured him that whatever he said to me would be in the strictest confidence. Feeling that I was on safe ground, I now spoke in a lofty tone of the sacred relation existing between counsel and client, and that any communication he desired to make would be as safe as within his own bosom, "or words to that effect." Relieved, apparently, by the atmosphere of profound secrecy that now enveloped us, he "unfolded himself" to the effect that some years before he had been deeply in love with an excellent young lady in his neighborhood, but for some trifling cause he could now hardly explain, he had in a pique suddenly turned his attentions to another to whom he was soon united in the holy bonds that he was now so anxious to have sundered by the strong arm of the law.
A deeply drawn sigh was here the prelude to the startling
revelation, that since his present sea of troubles had encompassed him about the old flame had been rekindled in his heart. I now candidly informed him that I was wholly inexperienced in such matters, but as his counsel I would take the liberty to advise him of the monstrous impropriety of any visible manifestation or expression of the newly revived attachment. This was followed by the comforting assurance upon my part, however, that when divorced, he would be thereby restored to all his ancient rights and privileges, and lawfully entitled to reënter the matrimonial lists in such direction, and at whatever gait seemed to him best. The sigh to which the above was the prelude, hardly prepared me . for the startling revelation that another fellow was now actually keeping company with the young lady. My client's feelings here overcame him for a moment, and he complained bitterly of his hard fate in being "tied up," while the coast was clear to his competitor. After a moment of deep study, he expressed the opinion in substance, that if his rival could only be held in check until the divorce was granted, he was confident all would be well.
I here told him that this was all beyond my depth, and along a line where it would be impossible for me to render him any service. Hitching his chair up a little closer, and looking at me earnestly he said: "You are a good-looking young fellow, and rather a glib talker, and I will give you this hundred dollars if you will cut that fellow out until I get my divorce!" Declining with some show of indignation, as well as surprise for I was young then in the practice — I assured him that his proposal was out of the domain of professional service, and could not be thought of for a moment. In a tone indicating deep astonishment, he said: "Why, I thought a lawyer would do anything for money!"
"Yes," I replied, "most anything, but this is the exception; and besides, if the young lady is as beautiful as you say she is, you would be in greater danger from me at the end of your probation than from the other fellow." "Oh, Lord, I had n't thought of that,” he exclaimed, as he pocketed his hundred dollars, picked up his hat, and left my office.
Near the close of the following term of court, as the decree was being signed granting the divorce aforementioned, I approached my client as he sat solitary in the rear of the courtroom, and earnestly congratulated him upon the fact that he was now free and at liberty to fight his own battles. "Yes," he replied, with a groan that touched the heart of the tipstaff near by, "but it 's too late now; she married that other fellow last Thursday."
TAKEN BY SURPRISE
Upon a time, far back, Ballou, of happy memory, was Judge of the Woodford Circuit Court. A young lawyer, after diligent preparation and exhaustive argument, confidently submitted his first case to the tender mercies of the Court. To his utter dismay, His Honor promptly rendered a decision adverse to the contention of the youthful barrister. Deeply humiliated by his defeat, the latter exclaimed: "I am astonished at such a decision!" The admonition of a brother, to patience, failing to accomplish its charitable purpose, the irate attorney asseverated more excitedly than before, his astonishment at such a decision. Whereupon the judge ordered the clerk to enter up a fine of five dollars against the offending attorney for contempt of court. Silence now reigned supreme, and the victim of judicial wrath sank back into his seat, utterly dismayed. The strain of the situation was at length relieved in part by an old lawyer from the opposite side of the trial table, slowly arising and solemnly remarking: "Something might be said, Your Honor, in extenuation of the conduct of my young friend. It is his first case, one in which he felt the deepest interest, and upon the successful issue of which, he had founded his fondest hopes. I trust Your Honor, upon due reflection, will remit this fine. It is true, he has with much vehemence expressed his astonishment at the decision of the Court. But his youth and inexperience must surely be taken into account. Ah, Your Honor, when our young brother has practised before this court as long as some of us have, he will not be surprised at any decision Your Honor may make !"
MISSING THE POINT OF THE JOKE
Sidney Smith is credited with saying that it required a surgical operation to get a joke into a Scotchman's head. And not a bad reply that of the Scotchman: "Yes, an English joke."
It is unnecessary, however, to cross the Atlantic in order to find a few well authenticated cases where the surgical operation would have been required. The Hon. Samuel H. Treat, United States Judge of Southern Illinois, was one of the ablest and most upright of judges, and possibly on or off the bench - the most solemn-appearing of all of the sons of
This little incident was related by Judge Weldon. Soon after the close of the War, he one day told Judge Treat a story he had heard upon a recent visit to Washington. McDougall, formerly of Illinois, but at that time a Senator from California, had become very dissipated near the close of his term. At a late hour one night a policeman on the Avenue found him in an utterly helpless condition-literally in the gutter. As the officer was making an ineffectual attempt to get the unfortunate statesman upon his feet, he inquired: "Who are you?" The reply was: "This morning I was Senator McDougall, but now I am Sewered!"
A few moments later Mr. Hay came into the office and Judge Treat said: "Hay, Weldon has just told me a good story about our old friend McDougall. Mac was in the gutter, and a policeman asked him who he was, and Mac told him, "This morning I was Senator McDougall, but now I am the Hon. William H. Seward!"
Upon the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the City of Bloomington, the oration was delivered by the Hon. James S. Ewing, late Minister to Belgium. In the course of his address, he related the following incident:
"In the early history of this county, two boys one day went into the old courthouse to hear a lawsuit tried. There