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ADDRESS

DELIVERED AT COLUMBIA, S. C., DECEMBER, 1890

AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE

SOUTH CAROLINA BAR ASSOCIATION

THE RELATION OF

OF LAW

LAW TO JUSTICE

YOUR kind invitation, Mr. President and gentlemen, has brought me a long way from home. Too far, perhaps, for the little I have to say. But I could not resist the attraction of meeting, for once in my life at least, and under auspices so pleasant, the Bar of South Carolina upon their own historic and hospitable soil.

It is the misfortune of our profession in America that we have so little common ground. We are spread over so wide a surface, and distributed among so many jurisdictions, that the most of us never meet. We follow through the reports one another's labors; we appreciate and profit by the learning of the courts of States other than our own; many names of judges and advocates become familiar to us, yet they are in great part the names of those we never see, or, if

ever, only too rarely. It is one of the happiest offices of associations like yours to overcome in some measure these boundary-lines, and to create among the Bar a better knowledge of their brethren and a wider and kindlier intercourse between them.

There is no profession in the world so fortunate as ours in the congeniality and fraternal spirit of its members. It has been well said of us that “We strive mightily as adversaries, but we eat and drink as friends.” It seems as if there was something in the quality of justice, like that of mercy, which blesses those who give as well as those who receive; those who minister at its altars as well as those who share its beneficence. It makes friends, somehow, of those who deal with it. Its continuous support appears to conduce to that mutual consideration and forbearance which must underlie all human fellowship worthy of the name. Lawyers are constantly reminded that there are two sides to most cases, good motives often to be found under mistaken conduct, and a right to fair hearing and patient judgment that is to be denied to no man.

The earliest origin of the profession in England, in the ancient societies of Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn, and the Middle and the Inner Temple, founded so long ago that “the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” was surrounded and nourished by the bonds of personal and social, as well as professional, fraternity. And so it has continued to the present time. Still, as of old, in those venerable inns, is spread the daily table, open to all their members; still, on one day in each of the four terms of the year, called "the grand day,” their hospitalities are generously dispensed by the benchers. And the guest who finds himself seated in one of those old halls, the place of so many memorable scenes, its walls adorned with the portraits and its windows emblazoned with the arms of the great lawyers and judges who, from generation to generation, through so many centuries, have lived and wrought and grown famous there, learns by happy experience that the traditions of the place and of the vocation to which it is consecrated are those not only of learning and talent and high endeavor, but of the closest good-fellowship and brotherhood as well.

In our own country, despite the geographical separation I have alluded to, the profession, in all the many circles into which it is divided, is no whit behind in fraternal spirit and kindly intercourse. He changes the sky, but not the mind, who runs across the sea or traverses the continent, so long as he still finds himself within the reach of the generous recognition and the genial courtesy that are always to be looked for among his brethren of the bar. And the lawyer who lives to look back upon a fortunate career finds that its happiest memories are those of its associations rather than of its successes.

But all this congeniality, so pleasant and so characteristic, is but the incident and the ornament of the profession, not its object. Its claims to influence and distinction must rest upon very different and much higher ground. It must be something more than an agreeable club of accomplished men. It has held in this country, thus far, a high place. It has exercised in society and in public affairs a commanding force. It has brought forth a large proportion of the best American men. Shall it maintain that position in the years that are to come? Are there any visible indications to the contrary which ought to attract our attention?

Institutions are not immortal. Like men, they have their rise, their prosperity, their decay, their extinction. There is not one that is indispensable

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