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ated, but in fact, was subdued and characteristically modest, and I sympathized with and admired him as much for his self-restraint in withholding facts that might overtax the credulity of strangers to the State, as for his eloquent and masterly presentation of those he chose to dwell upon, and in my own thoughts, I placed him in the class to which the Deacon who knew himself to be possessed of a great gift of speech, unconsciously assigned himself when he spoke in class-meeting upon the subject of the wonderful works of the Creator. In his closing period he fervently exclaimed: “The Creator made the majestic mountains and He made the smallest animals that inhabit them; He made the mighty sea, and He made the smallest fishes that swim in it; He made man the greatest of all his creations and he made the flowers of the field; He made me, my brethren; and He made a daisy."
Now don't think that I am by implication accusing your Governor of indulging in self-laudation, either consciously or otherwise. The story is told for the purpose of faintly expressing my idea of the class to which both Governor and people belong—the chosen ones of God's best creation.
All of this is but preliminary to the expression of my appreciation and gratitude for the honor of the invitation to address you on this occasion. Are not the lawyers universally conceded to be the best and purest representatives of good citizenship in every community? Do they not in fact originate all legislation and interpret and administer the laws after they have made them? And thus reflect the progressiveness, intelligence and morality of the people of whom they are a part? In proof of an affirmative answer to these questions we have the fact that throughout the whole history of popular government, the people have always held the lawyers responsible for the insufficiencies of legislation as well as for the failures and defects in the administration of justice. Therefore, in being permitted to address so many members of the very best
body of citizens in one of the two best States in the Union, I am doubly honored and it devolves upon me to say something worthy of the occasion, else my spoken thanks will sound empty and insincere, since when one fails in act to fill the measure of reasonable expectation, he brands himself as being unworthy of confidence reposed in him for failure must result either from incompetency or lack of appreciation, and both are badges of unworthiness.
And now I hope you will not deem it improper for me to speak of my subject. I am aware it is unfashionable for speakers to do this, and decidedly bad form to persist in sticking to any one theme, but a natural conservatism keeps me in the rear of fashion, and forces me in this instance to violate its canons to the extent at least of informing you that I know I have a subject and have considered it in some of its phases. The fact is I selected it myself, not from choice, but of necessity. When urged to name it I had no conception of what I might want to talk about, and in desperation hit upon the words “New Models,” because they offered opportunity for a widely diversified application. If so inclined, I could under them discuss new styles in spring bonnets, fire arms, salads, or automobiles; new methods in love, war, politics or business; new ideals in fine arts or literature; new principles in ethics, law or religion; anything from collar buttons to new constitutions falls within their scope, and so long as I dealt with new forms, ideas or ideals, I knew I could not travel outside the meaning of these words.
But my choice of subjects under this title finally settled upon this inquiry: “Do the requirements of our present civilization call imperatively for the adoption of new ideas and principles, both in the law itself and in its practical administration? Under our system and practice do all conditions of men in fact as well as in theory stand on equal ground before the law? Are our courts of justice a sanctuary for the weak whose lawful rights are invaded, or have they been turned
into the stronghold of lawless power? Should there be inscribed over the portals of the court room the words: 'Come, ye disconsolate!' or 'Abandon hope all ye who enter here?'
These questions are being asked with doubtful misgivings by many well-intentioned people.
When the public mind became convinced that widespread corruption and incompetency existed in the public service, and that the vast accumulations of this, the wealthiest and most productive nation the world has ever seen, have been and are being diverted from their rightful owners into the hands of a comparatively few individuals, the public conscience became aroused and active, began investigating everything and everybody, and is insisting upon and will not be denied the purification of the body politic, and the practical enforcement in the administration of the law of the principle of “equal rights to all and special privileges to none."
Naturally the law itself and its instrumentalities have not escaped this general scrutiny, and even men of sound judgment are doubting the sufficiency of our jurisprudence and the present type of judicial machinery to serve the needs of a rapidly progressing civilization of ever increasing complexity. Lawyers, whether of the bench or bar, are public servants, and being such, should fairly answer the questions propounded to them by those whom they serve, and if they refuse or attempt to evade the performance of this plain duty, they become recreant to their trust.
It does not satisfy the mind of the average inquirer to tell him that our jurisprudence is the wisest and most just ever evolved by man. He cares no more for the common law of England, which is the foundation of our fabric, and which nearly every lawyer makes it a point to venerate, than he does for the civil law or that of the Medes and Persians. It carries no conviction to his mind to quote the old masters, such as Coke, Littleton, Mansfield, More, Erskine, Burke, Marshall,
Kent or Webster. These names work no spells with him. He does not look back of today, but judges the administration of justice by its present results. The crucial question with him is, “If I take my case into court, will I stand upon an equal footing with my adversary? Will I get justice? And if I do, will the time and expense consumed in waging the litigation from one end of the judicial line to the other, deprive me of all of the substantial fruits of victory?"
If from his observation of results obtained by other litigants he concludes that victory would bring him no substantial fruits, while defeat would impose a double burden upon him, he is very likely to pronounce the law a failure, and declare that he will have none of it. That man is being fed upon husks when reminded that the law is an exact science, and is just and beneficient in its operation.
Is not the rule by which he disposes in his own mind of the question of the sufficiency of the law, a proper one? We judge the hunter by the game he bags, the fisherman by his string of fish, the artisan by his handicraft, the merchant by the growth and prosperity of his business, the inventor by the utility of his invention, the author by the books he writes, and the lawyer by the victories he achieves for his clients. The processes by which each reaches his object do not specially interest any save those in the same line of endeavor. It is right to apply the same standard to the law maker, the law expounder, the law itself and its machinery, and therefore it devolves upon us who are properly chargeable with the failures of the law to demonstrate that our methods and system are all-sufficient to produce the best results, or else to point out the respects in which they should be remedied.
For the benefit of those in the audience who may be unfamiliar with the science of law, I will say that in most of the states of the union, the system in vogue has for its foundation that portion of the common law and equitable jurisprudence of England that has not
been discarded by the National and State Constitutions and statutory enactments. The imported common law is not a philosophical science, that is, it is not a system of principles evolved by scientists and philosophers, but is a collection of principles and rules that received the sanction of general usage and custom. Its origin may be traced back almost to the time of the Saxon invasion, at a time when the people were ignorant, uncouth, superstitious and in thraldom to their rulers. Its history is the story of progress.
It has kept pace with the march of civilization. It began when the dogma of the divine right of spiritual and temporal rulers to work their will upon the people was accepted as a matter of course, without question, and marched along with the people in their journey towards popular government. Its fundamental principles are those of natural right and justice, and being such, are as flexible in their adaptability to the changing conditions of advancing civilization as they are inflexible and unchangeable in purpose. Considering the common law and equity as but two divisions of the same jurisprudence, one of which supplements the other, I have no hesitation in saying that the basic principles of this system are immutable by reason of their inherent justice, which being true, it follows that the ingenuity of man could not improve upon them, and therefore the foundation of our structure at least is sound, and should not be demolished to make way for another.
But the rules and practices by which these principles are sought to be applied and enforced, are not so invulnerable against criticism. In the nature of things they must be varied and changed in order to fill the need of varying and changing social and industrial conditions. There is no more reason for clinging to an old rule or practice after it has outlived its usefulness than there is for sticking to an old model of anything else. New inventions and models in the administration of justice are just as essential to progress in the science of law as they are to that in any other line of human