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I THE esses: bar.


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Newarl Bar aiii Law Lilirary Associatioi,

©elivei'ed ^J^l\m'MJiy 'Ejveqiq^, June 4t\\, 1§T4-






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iBiark Bar aM Law Liary Associatioa,

©elivei'ed ¥l:iui'^day 5ejvei)iii^, Juiie 4tl), 18^4.

1 874.




I enter "with great satisfaction and with grateful acknowledg-
ment of the honor I have received, upon the duties of President
of the Newarii Bar and Law Library Association.

It is an institution I have long desired to see established.
Not alone because of the need among us of a public Law Library,
though if that were its only purpose, it would claim the earnest
support of us all; but because of those other ends to which such
a library is but a single means, " the maintenance of the honor
and dignity of the profession of the law, the cultivation of social
intercourse among its members, and the increase of its usefulness
in promoting due administration of justice."

It can hardly be, gentlemen, that there should be difference
of opinion among us as to the dignity of the profession to which
we belong. I will not say that it is as noble a calling as that
which seeks to save men's souls, and to raise mortality from its
groveling wretchedness to that immortality of puyty and happi-
ness for which its Maker has formed and fitted it. Nor, perhaps,
can it be fairly argued that it is as necessary to mankind as that
other profession which even savages must possess, which cares for
the health of the body and expends its energies in prolonging
physical life. And yet what is life without the government of
law? How can there be society without it? How happiness
without society ? What satisfaction in society without civiliza-
tion ? What in civilization without freedom ? And how can the
rights of men in free civilized society be understood, established
and maintained, unless there be men learned in the law; able cor-
rectly to expound it; to frame and administer it as a system; and

then, as judges, to declare and enforce it; as advocates to inform
and aid the judiciary, and in the other less publicly exercised
branches of the profession to carry out its innumerable details ?
Further, how necessary to the perfection of its benefits is it not,
that these men be pure in heart, incapable of prostituting their
talents or their influence ; how dangerous, unless they, as a class,
in prosecuting their labors, are impelled and controlled by the
desire of usefulness to their fellow-men, by sense of duty to the
Great Source of all law and government, scorning to recognize as
principal inducements, and struggling always to avoid cherishing,
unduly, any motives of inferior dignity.

This is a base world in which we live, gentlemen, fitted though
it is for the acquisition of wonderful happiness. The soul that
aspires to the attainment of purity, finds its wings loaded when it
would stretch them for flight. The lawyer who would be worthy
of his profession and reach its acme of attainment, has much in
himself to struggle with, more in his necessary surroundings. He
sees so much of the weakness and wickedness of human nature :
he deals so constantly with its basest motives, that it is hard,
very hard to keep his soul undefiled. He must call to his aid
everything which can stimulate a lofty tone, and brace him for
daily struggle with the forces which encumber and pull him down.
And greatest of all these helps to this great end is esprit de corps,
a sentiment of brotherhood in pursuit of the -great object, by
which each sustains the other as do soldiers who touch elbows
advance more boldly to meet the shock of battle ; and indispen-
sable to the acquisition, retention, refinement and increase of this
sentiment is association.

That the profession possess so much of this sentiment of broth-
erhood is due to the necessary and constant association of its
members. It is singularly free from petty jealousies. Lawyers
contend warmly, give and take hard blows, have, momentarily,
hard feelings towards each other, sometimes enmities more or less
rooted. But, as a class, they do not decry each other. They do
not strike from behind. They challenge comparison with the fol-
lowers of any other profession or of any art in this point of view.

The philosophy of this diiference in their favor from other men
is their daily association, informing them constantly of each other's
merits, teaching charity for mutual defects, compelling mutual
dependence. And hence the advantage of such institutions as we
this nisrht inaugurate. Through the direct cultivation of social
intercourse, it aims directly at increasing our esprit de corps, and
at establishing rules, and diffusing among us all views of profes-
sional duty, which will elevate and purify our daily practice.

That such is the result of such associations experience every-
where shows. The magnificent tone of the English bar is doubt-
less greatly due to the necessity of every barrister being educated
in some one of those societies through which he enters the profes-
sion, and of which he continues to be a member. And, wherever
in this country such associations as this exist, they are found mea-
surably to effect the same beneficial result. A most notable
instance of rapidly derived benefit is familiar to us all. The purifi-
cation of the judiciary in the great neighboring metropolis by the
impeachment and conviction of its disgraceful members is due
largely, if not wholly, to the creation of just such an association
as this, and its combining the bar in the resolve to rescue society
from judicial corruption and villainy. Thank heaven no such
necessity exists here. It is difficult for Jerseymen to comprehend
how judges can be corrupt. But associations that can purify, can
even more easily prevent impurity. And such, now-a-days, is
the universality and extent of the greed for wealth, so frequent
the adoption of the profession as a mere trade, and by men not
blessed with the best opportunities for education ; so much has
the number of legal practitioners been increased, that an associa-
tion having the aims of this, has become well nigh a necessity.

You are familiar with the scope of the association as apparent
in its constitution and by-laws. It seeks " social intercourse
among lawyers" as a substantial end, and as a means tending to
the growth of a proper esprit de corps. It seeks the maintenance
of the honor and dignity of the profession by subjecting every
member to disgrace if duly convicted of professional misconduct,
and by authorizing action according to law against persons guilty

, ' 6

of such misconduct, even though not members of the Asso-
ciation. It seeks it also by systematizing supervision of
proposed changes , in the laws, and suggesting improve-
ments in legal education and in the rules regulating admission to
practice. All this in addition to the object most palpably desira-
ble, the establishment of a public Law Library, the need of which
has always been and is now increasingly felt. The enormous
mu.ltiplication of reports, their great expanse, the impossibility of
having all in private collections, make such a library indispensable
to the younger members of the profession, and almost equally
desirable for the seniors.

Gentlemen, the Bar of Newark has always been distinguished.
We owe it to our predecessors to do all we can to maintain its
ability, honor and usefulness. And I have thought it would be a
fitting thing on this very interesting occasion, for me to add to
the desultory reflections which 1 have had the honor so far to pre-
sent, a sketch of the men of our Bar who have passed away, and
with some of whom few among us have been acquainted. I beg
leave to say that it is no proof of my own age that I remember
so many. I came to the bar, you will be kind enough to note, at
a very early age, too early indeed, by some years. And some of
those I shall mention, I knew before my admission.

Chief Justice Hornblower presided at this Circuit when I first
knew anything of it. You are all, doubtless, familiar with his
appearance, from the excellent engraved portrait of him which
hangs in some of our offices. It is said that the painting lately
placed in the Supreme Court room at Trenton is a good likeness
of him at middle age. It is hard for those who knew him later to
believe it. He was a small, slight man, of a frail, almost feeble
appearance, slow in his ordinary walk, careful in dress, neat in all
personal arrangements ; yet, in spite of his apparent feebleness,
capable of the greatest amount of work, performed for the love of
it. Deeply learned, accurate, especially distinguished for readi-
ness of apprehension and nicety of discrimination, perfectly in
love with the law as a science, hating wrong in any shape, fear-
less, almost careless as to public opinion or feeling, instinctively

just, of fervid impulses, with absolutely no pride of opinion,' though
having a child-like delight in his own performances, seeking
always to be fair, though frequently becoming, too much interested
not to seem otherwise than unbiased, — these were his leading
mental and moral characteristics. He never intended wrong to
any one, great or small. His nature leaned to the support of the
weak. He might be imposed upon, but was beyond temptation
to wrong-doing. A decided, humble Christian, kindly affable,
especially to the young, delighted to have happy youth around him,
his latch-string ever on the outside, no man ever more deserved
good will than Joseph C. Hornblower, and very few passed so
many years of happy usefulness as he.

The Bar of that early day seemed to me, if they really were
not, giants. There was the first Chancellor Williamson, whose
features are familiar to all who attend Supreme Court, a man of
the keenest intellect, most careful preparation, shrewdest tact in
management ; not spoken of as an orator, but whose powers of
reasoning and whose professional learning were exceeded by Very
few. There was the elder Elias Van Arsdale, though he very sel-
dom appeared before any tribunal but that of Chancery, an emi-
nently handsome man, of fine presence, habitually reserved and
somewhat secluded, a constant and severe student, punctilious in
accuracy, full of equity learning, which was his specialty, and
popularly regarded as the great Chancery lawyer of the day.
There was William Halsey, who was what I might call the great
rough-and-tumble advocate of the State, of strong, rugged nature,
large and portly presence, indomitable pluck and persistency, elo-
quent — not making pretension to learning as a lawyer but seek-
ing success mainly before juries. Many actions in those days
were tried before the Court of Common Pleas, composed then of
as many Justices of the Peace as could be congregated for the
occasion. Glorious trials those must have been ! And many
were the anecdotes which the elders related of the funny inci-
dents of litigation. There was also the late Chancellor Halsted,
who, in his vigorous erect old age still remains among, or at least
near us, distinguished all his long life for acuteness of perception,

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rare learning, unflinching fidelity to his client and to what he
thought was right, and for tlie power of close analysis and skilful
statement. There was Smith Scudder of Elizabeth, father of the
present distinguished member of the Hudson Bar, and represen-
tative in Congress from that district, a lawyer of industry, learn-
ing and noted ability. There was also, certainly to a young man's
eye, chief among all the seniors, Theodore Frelinghuysen, of whom
the present distinguished Senator was an adopted son, renowned
in Church and State, remarkable for elevation of character, and
whose forensic ability, overshadowed by the conspicuous nature of
his services on the platform and in the Senate, seems to me, always
his enthusiastic admirer in every department of effort, to have
been more striking than his undeniable merit elsewhere than in the
courts. He was a grand specimen of true manhood, simple in all
his tastes, modest yet not devoid of proper self-appreciation, think-
ing himself no greater than the smallest, but still no smaller than
the greatest, free from the slightest ostentation, and apparently
from the least elation at the success which had always come
unsought to his hand ; of learning, in all matters and to the
extent to which learning is necessary, though scarcely to be
ranked among those with whom law is a hobby and quaint law
literature a delight ; in intellect, quick, clear, direct, and espe-
cially remarkable for the instinctive rapidity and accuracy with
which he seized the strong point of his case, and the vehement
vigor with which he presented it; a noble figure of a man, whose
face looked all he was, and master of an elocution so natural that
you could not remark it as skilful, which carried a jury along with
his train of thought, and fastened them to his conclusion, as a rapid
river drives along the drift-wood which it encounters ; all this
joined to a voice like a flute, managed so as to thrill you when-
ever he sought to stir the emotions — this was Theodore Freling-
huysen as an advocate — certainly such he was to the enthusiastic
young men of his later days at the bar. He left it in 1838 in the
zenith of his powers — when he was less than sixty years old — to
take charge of the New York University, making, as I think, the
greatest mistake of his life by abandoning the field for which

nature and education had most completely fitted him ; a field too
grand for any man to entirely desert.

I almost distrust my opinion of this distinguished man, knowing
how warm was my personal attachment to him. And yet I am
free to say that among all the advocates i have known, none has
ever seemed to me to display more tact, judgment and power than
Mr. Frelinghuysen. And the weight of his character was such
that he was almost omnipotent with juries. Fortunately he
always sought only to advocate the right side.
' Close upon the heels of these seniors, who dropped away one
after the other, were eminent men, known more or less to most of
you. There was Asa Whitehead, one of the strongest and hon-
estest men the State ever produced ; whose legal opinion in this
part of the State was almost more respected than that of any other ;
who, without pretending to polish, while yet never offensive
to taste, wielded a battle-axe in argument from whose blows men
had to stand aside. Essentially a strong man — of excellent judg-
ment — an honest intellect as well as an honest soul — a man who
should have been Chancellor or Judge, but who lived through a
long life of great eminence in his profession, without ever being
called on to serve in public station, too proud to seek office, and
therefore forgotten. There was the younger Elias Van Arsdale,
an admirable lawyer and tactician, who never spoke at the bar,
but who could prepare and manage a cause as few ever could.
There was Amzi Dodd, uncle of the present Vice Chancellor, of
remarkable head and figure, fonder, it was said, of disputation
either upon the five points of theology, the science of fluxions, con-
tingent remainders or anything else about which disputation was
difficult, than of any delight in life ; who was reputed to carry all
the papers of his office in his hat, and often lost hat and papers
together. 1 never heard him but once, for he died shortly after I
came here to study. But no man had a higher local reputation
as a thinker and for argument than he. There was John P. Jack-
son, who soon exchanged his legal career for the duties in which
he 80 distinguished himself, of railroad manager. It is easy to see
what he would have been had he remained at the Bar, There


was Archer Gifford, a gentleman of rare accomplishments and
much curious learning, devoting himself mostly to equity cases,
and always most respected and beloved. There was Amzi Arm-
strong, whose early death deprived the State and the country of
one of their most valuable citizens. He was a spare, angular figure,
bent and hollow chested, of thoughtful, absorbed expression,
living for the law, and for nothing else, except the vindication when
occasion came, as was the way with all, then, of his political opin-
ions. A student from childhood, he had stored his mind with legal
information. He was profound, exact, clear, and eminfintly judi-
cious and practical. Possessed of the dangerous gift of bitter satire,
he yet was singularly amiable at heart — modest and unassum-
ing. He was the most conscientious man as to the rights of clients
to his time and services I ever knew. Distinguished always, he
yet had just reached the point of full development when, taking
cold by exposure after an argument, he was seized with consump-
tion, and after lingering a year, died, to the great grief of the
whole State, and especially of his fellow-citizens of this county.
1 have not yet mentioned Governor Pennington, because at the
early period I have been recalling, he was discharging the duties
of his office. Nor need I say much to recall him to your minds. .
For after his return to the bar in 1842 he practiced among us
nearly twenty years, beloved as few men are, and respected for
his peculiar ability, both with courts and juries. He was such a
splendid looking man, so full of bonhommie, his jokes were so
good and told so agreeably, and his heart was so kind, that all
loved him dearly, while with courts his strong common sense and
direct manner of approaching and discussing every subject made
him a most formidable adversary. No man ever exceeded William
Pennington in " strong roundabout common sense," or in power of
terse expression.

I must not forget among those that are gone, Alexander C, M.
Pennington, thought by many to have had the finest intellect of all
the distinguished lawyers of that name — certainly possessed of
many rare qualities as a lawyer and an advocate ; most persistent
in purpose and thorough in preparation, leaving no stone unturned


to eflfect success for his client; learned, astute, bold and irrepres-
sible. We had, too, at this bar up to 1849 or thereabouts, the
very popular John Chetwood, who then went to California and
won hi^h and deserved distinction, a man of large attainments,
graceful and forcible elocution, and the soul of honor and gentle-
manly feeling and conduct. The Van Arsdale family furnished
us two other friends, Robert Van A'rsdale, whose death but a
short time since, though he had practically long left the local bar,
recalled to our memories his amiable life, his learning and upright-
ness ; and his younger brother, Jacob, for several years the Prose-
cutor of the Pleas for this county, successful and faithful in that
important office, and a favorite at the bar and in the county. All
knew his integrity, capacity and amiability. And only lately
there passed away William K. McDonald, everybody's friend, and
whom everybody loved, the soul of honor and of courtesy, of ele-
gant learning, literary even more than legal ; perhaps more uni-
versally popular as a citizen than any lawyer among us.

The roll of the Essex Bar is not complete without the mention
of others whose lives were mostly passed elsewhere. Martin Ryer-
son, of Sussex, distinguished as a lawyer and Judge, began his
profession here. So, before him, and before my time, did Abram
0. Zabrirfkie, of Bergen, afterwards of Hudson, whose recent sad
-death just at the end of his Chancellorship, robbed us of one of
the greatest minds and biggest hearts New Jersey ever owned.
So, also, a late Chief Justice, Edward VV. Whelpley, was first of
this Bar. He studied law, and after his admission occupied the
same office with myself when we were boys together ; and removed
after one or two years to Morristown. A grand legal mind was
his, and sad was it that he died just at the culmination of its
development. His career indicated that time would have made
him not only an eminent but a great Judge.

Besides all these, till the counties of Passaic and Union were
respectively set off", the lawyers of Patcrson and Elizabeth were
uieml)ers of the Essex Bar. Thus must we mention on our roll,
among others, Aaron Pennington and James Speer of Patcrson,
John J. Chetwood, Francis B. Chetwood and Benjamin William-


pon of Elizabeth. The two last were Prosecutors, and Mr. J. J.
Chetwood Surrogate of this county. Propriety will not permit
me more than hastily to mention the living. But of Aaron Pen-
nington and John J. Chetwood, who are gone, I can speak a word
or two. The first, brother of Governor Pennington, resembled
him closely in appearance, mind and character. He was, perhaps,
more of a book-lawyer; and his nomination as Chancellor, by Gov-
ernor Newell, during the famous interregnum, was eminently fit
to be made. John Joseph Chetwood was a gentleman of great
astuteness and practical talent, who enjoyed for a long time a large
practice and wielded a great influence in the section of the county
now comprised within Union

There are two among our most distinguished names still living,
to whom, nevertheless, allusion can be made, since one is certainly
forever gone from the bar, the other mainly absorbed in the pur-
suits of statesmanship. 1 need not mention them nor dwell upon
merits familiar to us all. Enough to say that no more distin-
guished Judge occupies the Bench of the Supreme Court of the
United States than is one of these eminent men — while the other
worthily upholds an honored name and the reputation of his native
State in the Senate

1 must break the rule not to mention the living, in regard to two
other distinguished citizens, still spared, and covered with well-,
deserved honors. I mean the two judges who succeeded Chief
Justice Hornblower in presiding at this circuit — the afterward
Chancellor, at first Chief Justice Green, and Governor, afterward
Justice Haines.

They who did not know Henry W. Green as a Circuit Judge,
missed seeing an eminent illustration of judicial majesty. His
great ability was certainly never excelled in New Jersey, and
even less conspicuous than his stern, yet gracious manner in exer-
cising his high office. He sat patient, untiring, admitting evi-
dence with great liberality, and bearing and adjudicating all points .
with rare impartiality through the cause on trial. But when he
came to charge the jury, he was so sweeping in supporting the
side he thought in the right, that counsel on both sides were half


ashamed ; the successful advocate, because his own effort appeared
by comparison so worthless ; the unsuccessful one because his
seemed weak and needless. Be was that rare achievement,
a great Judge. His absence from the bench, the result, it is
believed, of over anxiety for perfection in discharging judicial
duty, is a most sorrowful and deplorable loss to law as a science,
and to the State and the country. Their sympathies follow him
into iiis letirement with earnest wishes for his restored health
and happiness.

We all knew Judge flaines, and that is saying that we all loved
him. Was there ever a finer exemplification of the Christian gen-
tleman ? What self-control he constantly exhibited ; what sincere
desire to be right; what devotion to the cause of the weak, op-
pressed or attacked by the strong ; what patient, constant atten-
tion to every duty ; what modesty as to his own sufficiency ; and
iiow judicious and practically right was he generally found.

The bar of Essex, my friends, ought to be a good bar, for a
good Bench makes tliat, as on the other hand, a bar distinguished
for virtues and learning, supplies and compels, eventually, a com-
petent, inncorruptible, sagacious bench. And we have, and
always have had presiding over us, Judges under whom it was
both a satisfaction jand an honor to practice; learned, just, judi-
cious, right-loving, God-fearing, independent, incorruptible.

Counting up our jewels, we find that the Essex Bar has within
the last fifty years furnished the State with five Chancellors, the
two Williamsons, Pennington, Halsted, the present incumbent
of that high office, the personal friend of us all, Chancellor Run-
yon, and we may fairly add, since he both studied and practiced


Online LibraryCortlandt ParkerThe Essex bar → online text (page 1 of 2)