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my studies, & ride the circuits, & inhale the English new reports and treatises as country air, & enjoy otium cum digni- they came out. I made much use of the tate. I never dreamed of volumes of Corpus Juris, & as the Judges (Livingreports & written opinions. Such things ston excepted) knew nothing of French were not then thought of. I retired or civil law I had immense advantage back to P in the Spring of 1798 & in that over them.
I could generally put my Summer rode all over the Western wild- Brethern to rout & carry my point by erness & was delighted. I returned mysterious want of French and civil law. home and began my Greek & Latin, & The Judges were republicans & very French, & English, & law classics as kindly disposed to everything that was formerly, & made wonderful progress in French, and this enabled me without exbooks that year.
citing any alarm or jealousy, to make In 1799 I was obliged to remove to
free use of such authorities & thereby Albany, in that I might not be too much
enrich our commercial law. from home, & there I remained station- I gradually acquired preponderating ary for 24 years. When I came to the influence with my brethern, & the volbench there no reports or State prece- umes in Johnson after I became Ch. J. dents. The opinions from the bench in 1804 show it. The first practice was were delivered ore tenus. We had no for each judge to give his portion of law of our own, & nobody knew what it opinions when we all agreed, but that was. I first introduced a thorough ex
gradually fell off, but for the two or amination of cases & written opinions. three last years before I left the bench, In Jany T 1799 the 2d case reported in
I gave the most of them. I remember 1st Johnsons cases, of Ludlow vs. Dale
that in 8th Johnson all the opinions one is a sample of the earliest. The judges Term are per curiam. The fact is I when we met all assumed that foreign
wrote them all, & proposed that course sentences were only good prime facie.
to avoid existing jealousy & many a per I presented and read my written opinion curiam opinion was so inserted for that that they were conclusive & they all
reason. gave up to me & so I read it in court Many of the cases decided during the as it stands.? This was the commence
16 years I was in the Supr. Court were ment of a new plan, & then was laid the
labored by me most unmercifully, but first stone in the subsequently erected it was necessary under the circumstances temple of our jurisprudence.
in order to subdue opposition. We had Between that time & 1804 I rode my
but few American precedents. One share of circuits, attended all the terms,
judge was democratic, and my brother & was never absent, & was always ready Spencer particularly of a bold, vigorous, in every case by the day. I read in that dogmatic mind, & overbearing manner. time -8 and completely abridged English authorities did not stand very the latter, & made copious digests of all high in those feverish times, & this led
me a hundred times to attempt to bear 5 Words omitted in the original.
down opposition, or flame it by exhaust6 Probably January, 1806, first case in 1 Johnson, Ludlow v. Bowne.
ing research & overwhelming authority. 7 For a note indicating an error of mem- Our Jurisprudence was probably on the ory in Chancellor Kent's allusion to the ten
whole improved by it. My mind ceror of this decision, see Professor Schofield's article in 1 Illinois Law Rev. p. 257.
tainly was roused, & was always kept ar8 Blank in the original.
dent and inflamed by collision.
In 1814 I was appointed Chancellor. (mathematically accurately) master of The office I took with considerable re- the facts. It was done by abridging the luctance. It had no claims. The per- bill, and then the answers & then the disson who left it was stupid, & it is a curi- positions, & by the time I had done this ous fact that for the nine
I was in slow tedious process I was master of the that office, there was not a single deci- cause & ready to decide it. I saw where sion, opinion or dictum of either of my justice lay and the moral sense decided two predecessors (Ch. Livingston & Ch. the cause half the time, & I then set
-)o from 1777 to 1814 cited to me down to search the authorities until I or even suggested. I took the court as had exhausted my books, & I might once if it had been a new institution, & never & a while be embarrased by a technical before known to the U. S. I had noth- rule, but I most always found princiing to guide me, & was left at liberty to ples suited to my views of the case, & assume all such English chancery pow- my object was to discuss a point 10 as ers and jurisdiction as I thought applica- never to be teazed with it again, & to ble under our constitution. This gave anticipate an angry & vexatious appeal me great scope, & I was only checked to a popular tribune by disappointed by the revision of the Senate & court counsel. of Errors. I opened the gates of the During those years at Albany, I read court immediately, & admitted almost a great deal of English liturature, but gratuitously the first year 85 counsellors, not with the discipline of my former dithough I found there had not been but vision of time. The avocations of busi13 admitted for 13 years before. Busi- ness would not permit it. I had dropped ness flowed in with a rapid tide. The re- the Greek as it hurt my eyes.
persersult appears in the seven volumes of vered in Latin, & used to read Virgil, Johnson's Ch. reports.
Horace, Juvenal, Lucan, Salust, Tacitus, My study in Equity jurisprudence was &c & Ciceros offices, & some of them anvery much confined to the topics elicited nually. I have read Juvenal, Horace & by the cases. I had previously read, of Virgil eight or ten times. I read a great course, the modern Equity reports, down deal in Pothiers works and always conto the time, & of course I read all the sulted him when applicable. I read the
as fast as I could procure Ed & Q reviews and Annl register ab them. I remember reading Pear Wil- initio & thoroughly, & voyages & travels liams as early as 1792 and made a digest & the Waverley novels &c, as other of the leading doctrines. The business folks did. I have always been excessiveof the court of chancery oppressed me ly fond of voyages and travels. very much, but I took my daily exercise, In 1823 a solemn era in my life arriv& my delightful country rides among ed. I retired from the office at the age the Catskill or the Vermont mountains of 60, & then immediately with my son with my wife, & kept up my health and visited the Eastern States. On my respirits. I always took up the cases in turn the solitude of my private office & their order, & never left one until I had the new dinasty did not please me. I finished it. This was only doing one besides would want income to live as I thing at a time. My practice was first had been accustomed. My eldest daughto make myself perfectly & accurately ter was permanently settled in N. York,
9 Blank in original.
10 "So" omitted.
& I resolved to move away from Al- My reading now is as you may well bany, & I ventured to come down to N. suppose, quite desultory, but still I read Y. & be Chamber Counsel, & the trus- with as much zeal and pleasure as ever, tees of Columbia College immediately I was never more engaged in my life tendered my again the old office of pro- than during the last Summer. I acceptfessor which had been dormant from ed the trust of receiver to the Franklin 1795. It had no salary, but I must do (insolvent) Bank, & it has occupied, & something for a living, & I undertook perplexed, & vexed me daily, & I had (but exceedingly against my inclination) to write part of the 3rd volume, & search to write & deliver law lectures. In the books a good deal for that very object, two characters of Chamber Counsellor and I have revised the proof sheet. and College lecturer, I succeeded by If I had a convenient opportunity steady perseverance beyond my most (though I do not see how I can have sanguine expectations, & upon the whole one) I would send the 3rd volume out the five years I have lived here in this to you, & another to our excellent City since 1823 have been happy & pros
friend, Governor Carroll, to whom I beg perous, & I live aside of my daughter, you will be so good as to present my & I take excursions every summer with best respects & the expression of my my wife & daughter all over the country. great esteem. I have been twice with he 11 Canada & Your suggestion of an Equity treatise in every direction. I never had better
contains a noble outline of a great & health. I walk the battery uniformly be
useful work, but I cannot & will not enfore breakfast. I give a great many
ter on such a task I have much more to written opinions, & having got heartily
lose than to gain & I am quite tired of tired of lecturing I abandoned it, & it Equity law. I have done my part, & was my son that pressed me to prepare
choose to live more at my ease, & to a volume of lectures for the press. I be prepared for the approaching infirmihad no idea of publishing them when I
ties of age.-On reviewing what I have delivered them. I wrote over one vol
written, I had thoughts of burning it, I ume and published it as you know. This speak of myself too entirely, & it is enled me to remodel & enlarge, & now the tirely against my habit or taste, but I 3rd volume will be out in a few days, &
see no other way fairly to meet your de
sires. I am obliged to write a 4th to complete
I am with great respect and good wishes,
JAMES KENT. 11 So in original.
Thomas Washington, Esq.,
SOME young lawyers and law clerks
OME young lawyers and law clerks published in 1901!" protested the law
were gathered in the State Library, clerk. "I have got to chase through all bent upon sprinkling salt on the tail of the digests since that time, and take my the elusive precedent.
chances on guessing the right digest "This law business isn't all that it's heading at that. If they would only get cracked up to be," said one of the law up a complete table of American Cases clerks, recently graduated from a law with references to all the reports where school. “Cases, cases, everywhere, and they are reported and all the digests not a case in point.”
where they are digested, that would be "What's the trouble?" asked a fellow- a snap! Then I could take this case, worker. “You make me think of the Gordon v. Burris, 141 Mo. 602, cited by young man who, after attending an eve- Greenleaf, find in the Table where it is ning law class for three weeks, was ask- digested and so get the reference that ed how he liked the law, and said that he would cover all later cases. If publishwas sorry he had learned it; there was ers would do that, there'd be some sense nothing in it. Isn't that something like in it.” your case?"
"Yes, if !” laughed all the others, "Perhaps so," admitted the law clerk, mockingly. joining in the laugh against him, "but it (And there was a joke on somebody.) isn't so much that I don't know how to find what is wanted, as that it is such a
"I'd like to add to your Table,” said blame lot of work. Now look here!
another young lawyer, "an annotation to Here Greenleaf on Evidence (16th Ed.)
show whether the cases cited have been states the situation as follows:
reversed or affirmed by a higher court. “According to one view, the evidence of
Now, here I have a case, Beardslee v. execution [of the will] introduced by the proponent may suffice to raise a presump- Ingraham (N. Y.) 106 App Div. 506. tion of sanity, so as to require the opponent
94 N. Y. Supp. 937. I'm going to argue to introduce evidence of insanity. By another view, the evidence of execution does a case to-morrow, and the man against not raise this presumption, and the pro
me is going to rely on this case. I have ponent therefore has the duty of coming forward, as in any other case, with some
an idea that it may have been reversed, evidence of his facium probandum; i. e., but the only way I can find out is to go sanity.'
through every subsequent volume of the "That isn't very conclusive, and I'd New York Appellate Division Reports. like to know how the courts have han
universal Table of Cases would dled this question since the 16th edition give me that important bit of informaof Greenleaf was published. How can I tion, it would save a good deal of time get a line on the later cases?”
that ought to be worth money to me.” "You'll have to hunt through the di- "Yes, if !” laughed all the others, gests,” said the librarian.
mockingly. “And Greenleaf's 16th edition was (And the joke was still there.)
“I have another suggestion to make,” "I can see another use for that Table," said a third lawyer in the room, who had chipped in another lawyer, who had been listening to the preceding conversa
been listening quietly at another table. tion. “I had a case cited to me the other “I am struggling here with a miscitation. day, Montgomery v. Crossthwait, 90 The Supreme Court cited the other day, Ala. 553. I've got to see that case. It
in a decision which I want to use, the is absolutely essential; but it happens
case of Hodges v. Causey, 77 Mass. 353. there isn't a copy of that volume of Ala
Now there is no such case as Hodges v. bama Reports in town, not even in this Causey in 77 Mass. The court has got library. I can't get that case without
the citation wrong, but I've got to find sending away for the volume, or sending
that case if it is in existence. My future to the clerk of court for a certified copy.
depends upon it. I suppose it's up to
me to look through every volume of Now, the chances are that that case is
every set of State Reports there are in right here within reach of my hand, if I knew where to find it. It has certainly
the country. Are there forty-five now,
or forty-nine? Now, if your Table of been reported in the Southern Reporter,
American Cases were at hand, all I probably in the Lawyers' Reports Anno
would have to do would be to run my tated, or in the American State Reports; finger down the H’s until I struck but I can't find it there without hunting Hodges v. Causey, and there I'd find the laboriously through the tables of those
correct citation, of course. If some enseveral sets. Now, if Now, if your universal
terprising publisher would only adopt Table of Cases would only give parallel
your suggestion—" references to all other standard reports
"Yes, if!" laughed all the others, where the case is to be found, it would
mockingly. save me a lot of trouble.”
(And the joke was that a complete “Yes, if !” laughed all the others, Table of American Cases, containing all mockingly.
of these features, will be included in the (But they didn't see the joke.) Decennial Digest.)