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Honor--that the scale would be made even between us, and the right presented to this jury, not, to be sure, for their absolute governance, but for their aid among conflicting arguments. I do trust I do hope—I do praynay, I demand, as a matter of justice on the part of one of the most helpless and friendless individuals so far as the management of a case in a court of justice is concerned-who has ever appeared in this court, that your Honor will feel the impropriety of this remark as to unfriendliness, and that you will not be turned aside from the performance of that duty from which I never believe you have shrunk; and that on this occasion, disregarding that or any other observation-utterly forgetting it-you will go to this jury with the impressions which the evidence has made on your mind, uninfluenced and unswayed by this gross impropriety.” — New York Herald's Report of Forrest Divorce Case, p. 157.
That this had its effect not only on judge and jury, but on the public, none acquainted with the circumstances will deny. But perhaps the most telling, as well as the most eloquent, part of this truly noble effort is that in which the orator exposes the pure and virtuous pretensions of Forrest to public derision and scorn. There is a startling earnestness in this whole criticism, but we can only give a small fragment or two. They, however, need no introduction; they fully explain themselves.
"But now look at the other side. How far is it probable, that for the mere purpose of enabling his wife to talk about the circumstance, or for the purpose of screening her in the eyes of the servants, that Mr. Forrest would submit to the monstrous degradation of lying every night for four months, by the side of one whom he had proved and found to be a shameless harlot, in dishonorable and lascivious communication with a man whom he knew, as he stated in his affidavit, to be a vile wretch, but whom, notwithstanding, he introduced to the society of his wife, and used to leave alone with her on many occasions. Certainly he did so on
I ask you, is this credible? Why, what a patient, mild, innocent, self-denying creature this must be, who, when he found his wife unchaste, and was determined to punish her on that account, still, in order to salve and save her character, and to screen her from disgrace, would lay lis pure and uncontaminated person on the same bed for four long months? Do you believe it? Is it credible? I submit, gentlemen, that the fact of his thus occupying the same chamber for four months is conclusive evidence that he did not believe anything whatsoever to the disparagement of his wife. But he says he did ; and yet he admits that he intended to separate from her. He made not a single charge against her, and stood ready, as her champion, to defend her honor, if any body would assail it. That he admits, and strange enough it is. But let us see how they stood on approaching the 1st of May, 1849, when the separation must take place—when the separation did take place-his establishment being then broken up. What are his acts at that time? They are very kind towards her. În April he took her out to ride. Her own picture the picture of a degraded harlot-whom he was about to turn from his side, is sacredly preserved among his family treasures, and transmitted to the mansion of Fonthill, to grace its walls whenever it shall come into use. His own picture-the family picture; the picture of the man whom she had degraded and dishonored-he, with his own hand, carries to the carriage, accompanies her, and in the face of day and of their friends,
delivers her that picture, to keep as a keepsake and evidence of unbroken connection with the original. They part as lovers; not, to be sure, with a broken sixpence, each retaining half, but keeping each the picture and image of the other, to be treasured and preserved as an evidence that there was still an attachment between them, unbroken, at least, by crime or shame. Does it admit of any other construction ? No, gentlemen." Report of Forrest Divorce Case, pp. 165, 166.
The advocate then proceeds to show how the defendant had placed his wife in the family of Mr. Bryant, and on this he makes the following comment:
“He (Mr. Forrest) after these four months' contemptible disguise, covering his own shame to blind the eyes of Dame Underwood and Robert Garvin-the tell-tale Dame Underwood-wound up by taking this contaminated woman and placing her at the pure hearth of that pure, honorable, most respected, and most respectable family. I should like to know has any man a right to come into a court of justice and call his wife polluted, and demand a divorce from her, who could be guilty of such inconceivable baseness as to ask her to go to a young couple (the wife being the daughter of a dear and ancient friend,) living in peace, happiness, and honor, and plant at their hearth a vile creature, reeking with tho abomination of a filthy crime-who, in all probability, would pollute whoever touches her. Why, if Mr. Edwin Forrest had done this, he would be infinitely a worse man than perhaps ever I ought to esteem him-for there is a kind of philosophy by which people think they have a right to do what hey please with their own, and as this woman was his wife, why, perhaps he may have thought that he had a right to do with her what he pleased, and to cast þer from him, innocent though she
But I know no man who conceives that he has a right to plant a thorn of guilt and infamy in the garden of his neighbor-and Mr. Forrest is not guilty of this offence. I claim for him and for human nature, that he is not guilty of it; and from the fact that he is not guilty of this offence, I ask you to convict him of another, and different, and far less heinous, perhaps less inexcusable, offence against morality and justicethat of condemning unjustly his innocent wife."--16., p. 166.
Rarely, if ever, has logic been more dexterously used than in this passage; all the circumstances which tell against the defendant are so artfully arranged, but without the least appearance of art—nay, without any apparent effort—that the conclusion of the oratoris absolutely irresistible. Those who heard this speech and were capable of appreciating its influence had no doubt of the result; this will be the more easily understood if it be borne in mind that although that before us is better than most reports, it gives but a feeble idea, as we well remember, of the impression made by the living, burning words as they fell from the orator's lips, rendered doubly eloquent and persuasive by the looks and gestures with which they were accompanied. None who heard the greater part of his speech, as we did, were surprised to learn that when the case was terminated nearly all the leading lawyers of New York-about sixty in number
united in presenting Mr. O'Conor with a valuable piece of silver, bearing a highly eulogistic inscription. Had we been among the particular friends of Mrs. Forrest, those who regarded her as a much injured woman, it might be said that we were disposed to place an undue estimate on the labors which secured her triumph; but although we are no admirers of Mr. Forrest, and have but little respect for the course ho pursued during this trial, we confess we have always been so ungallant as to think that the innocence of Mrs. Forrest of some of the principal offences laid to her charge, is not
Of the members of the New York bar who commenced their professional career about the same time as Mr. O'Conor, there are but few who now survive. _ The most distinguished of the former are, Thomas Addis Emmet, (died in 1827,) David B. Ogden, (dead ten or twelve years,) George Wood, (dead two or three years,) Edward Sanford, (lost in the Arctic, 1854,) Francis B. Cutting, (retired from the profession) Ogden Hoffman, (dead six or eight years,) Benjamin F. Butter, (dead a few years,) William C. Noyes, (died recently.) In short, so far as we are aware, or have been able to learn, only two survive, namely, James W. Girard and Daniel Lord. Both these gentlemen still practise and are the seniors of Mr. O'Conor.
The leading members of the New York bar, at the present day, who are not considered " old,” are James T. Brady, Wm. M. Evarts, Edwards Pierrepont, Richard O'Gorman, Louis B. Woodruff, George Ticknor Curtis, (late of Boston) John E. Burrill, John McKeon, J.B. Robinson, (“Richelieu.' Some two or three of these are distinguished in the profession as representative men ; and as such we may take occasion before long to exainine their pretensions to a niche in that temple whose deities are Demosthenes, Cicero, and Blackstone ; meantime the only one we feel justified in enshrining is Charles O'Conor.
Our readers will bear us testimony that there are none more chary of the use of the term genius than we. The reason is that we think there are extremely few in any age who possess that noblest of divine gifts ; probably not more than a dozen among the whole human family. Yet we are convinced that Charles O'Conor possesses that high order of genius whose province it is to persuade even against the will. His oratory is, indeed, not of the ornate style; he is not fond of tropes or figures ; he never uses expressions of any kind merely because they are beautiful. On examining any of his speeches it is found that what seems most careless in the delivery or construction, has a direct, logical bearing on the proposition which he means to establish.
Another faculty rarely possessed, even by the most gifted, and which is highly characteristic of O'Conor, is that of exercising an almost equal influence on the most illiterate and most learned. If this be not eloquence we do not understand what the term means, nor do we know in what form to seek,
“ The power of thought, the magic of the mind.” But according to the greatest masters it is eloquence. O'Conor is not only eloquent in addressing judge and jury; in dealing with witnesses ne is wonderfully sagacious, adroit, and successful. Unlike the great majority of the lawyers of the present day—who for the credit of the profession would do well to imitate his example in that particular-he avoids :all harshness, even in cross-examination. Because he has thoroughly studied the subject, and understands human nature, his course is rather to conciliate even the adverse witness whom he knows to have entered the court with the lie in his mouth. It has been our privilege to be present at the pleadings of some of the most eminent advocates and jurists of Europe, as well as America; many a time have we heard Lord Denman and Sir Edward Sugden, as well as Napier, O'Connell, Whiteside, Shiel, and O'Hagen-men who may be said to represent every style of forensic eloquence and forensie skill, and we do not hesitate to say that there is not one of the courts in which we have heard them plead, or speak, from the Record Court and Queen's Bench to the bar of the House of Lords, in which the subject of this paper would not be considered an advocate of the first rank.
ART.V.-Essays on the Administrations of Great Britain, from 1782
to 1830. Contributed to the Edinburgh Review. By the Right Hon. Sir George CORNEWALL LEWIS, Bart. London, 1864.
We cannot transcribe the name of this work without a word concerning its lamented author. Sir George Corne. wall Lewis had reached middle life before he entered Parliament. He was approaching fifty when he first held high office. Already he had gained an enviable reputation as an admirable scholar, a sound critic, and a judicious commentator upon history and political science. If in parliament he had only maintained his reputation and been content with it, he would have achieved sufficient honor for one man. But he was not content to do so. In the eight years that elapsed between his re-entrance into the House of Commons in 1855 and his death in 1863, he rose from a humble political position to the first rank of English statesmen, and was regarded by a large section of the liberals as the most proper successor of their present veteran leader. But an untimely death again put an end to the confident hopes and expectations of his friends and countrymen, and like Sir William Molesworth, Lord Herbert, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Canning, Lord Elgin, the Duke of Newcastle, and Mr. Cobden--all lost within the last ten years, not to mention more than one veteran statesman retired from public life-he was taken away before old age and in the full vigor of his faculties. Sir George Lewis was distinguished by another fact; he and Mr. Walpole are the two most prominent of what, since the Reform Bill, has been a growing class of public men; of those who have not received the early training on ce considered essential to success in high office. Perhaps, too, he may be regarded as the most eminent of the statesmen who have joined high literary distinction to equal political services.
These essays were not published in their present form until after their author's death, and consequently did not receive that final revision which he would probably have bestowed upon them before publication. They were con. tributed to the Edinburgh Review. in part while Sir George, having been relieved from attendance on parliament by his constituents failing to re-elect him, filled the position of its editor. They were evidently written by a busy man, who had no time to elaborate them into brilliant monographs. Their style is as graceless and unattractive as a congressional or parliamentary report. Initials and abbreviations are often used. Those who expected in this book anything resembling Macaulay's essays on Horace Walpole's letters and on Lord Chatham, in many respects a similar series, must have been greatly disappointed. Nevertheless, few faults can be found with it; the essays are what their writer intended them to be a calm, perspicuous and faithful review of those political changes to which the Buckingh am Papers had drawn attention. No man could be found more competent than Sir George Lewis to pass judgment on the VOL. X1.-NO. XXI.