« AnteriorContinuar »
survived several suits begun within his remembrance in the English chancery, and arrived, through an honorable career, to the advanced age of eighty-six. Many instances of repartee are related of the old judge,' which for genuine epigrammatism are scarcely inferior to some of the best of Piron and Talleyrand.
When a practising attorney, many years ago, he happened, while arguing a question of some difficulty, to illustrate a point in his case by a pretty free use of the vocabulary of the card-table. The presiding judge abruptly inquired what he meant by addressing such language to the court ?
· I meant, your Honor, to be understood,' was the reply.
On another occasion, a judge, vexed with the difficulty, or irritated by the insignificance, of a cause which T was conducting, cried out : “Sir, why do you bring such a case as this into court ? Why not leave it out to some of your honest neighbors ?' 'Because, your Honor,' replied the barrister, 'we do n't choose that honest men should have any thing to do with it.'
In the early days of Vermont jurisprudence, the strict decorum which now very generally distinguishes the New England bar was comparatively unknown. Nothing was more common than sharp altercations between the Bench and the Bar; such wranglings indeed as would now be deemed contempt of court,' were they to occur only between the lawyers themselves. On one occasion Judge T-, who was then plain · Esquire,' had addressed a sound argument to the court, and sat down. The judge, who chose to argue the question rather than decide it at once, replied in a feeble argument, which the lawyer in his turn demolished. The judge rejoined by repeating, without any material variation, his first reply; and then closed the pleadings' by an adverse decision. Your Honor's two arguments,' said T— addressing himself partly to the court and partly to the bar,' remind me of a story. A foolish old woman in Connecticut, being one evening at a party, was greatly at a loss for something to say. At length she ventured to in. quire of a gentleman who sat next her, whether his mother had any children?' The gentleman politely pointed out the absurdity of her inquiry. I beg pardon,' exclaimed the old lady, perceiving her mistake; 'you do n't understand me; I meant to inquire whether your grand-mother had any children ?'
I remember an anecdote of Judge 0—, father of the distinguished president of the Wesleyan University, which is very characteristic of the man, and is, I have no doubt, authentic. At a session of the court in Addison county, Judge O was violently attacked by a young and very impudent attorney. To the manifest surprise of every body present, the judge heard him quite through, as though unconscious of what was said, and made no reply. After the adjournment for the day, and when all had assembled at the inn where the judge and many of the court-folk had their lodgings, one of the company, referring to the scene at court, asked the judge • why he did not rebuke the impertinent fellow?' Permit me,' said the judge, loud enough to call the attention of all the company, among whom was the fellow' in question ; ‘per
mit me to tell you a story. My father, when we lived down country, had a dog ; a mere puppy, I may say. Well, this puppy would go out every moonlight night and bark at the moon for hours together.' Here the Judge paused, as if he had done with the story. Well, well, what of it ? exclaimed half a dozen of the audience at
"O! nothing, nothing whatever; the moon kept right on, just as if nothing had happened !
J. G, 8.
* ARE all aboard ? — quick ! all ashore! Heave off the bo’line ! Lively there! haul in the plank! cried Captain A-, of the good steamer S — The short, sharp ring of our engine-bell was heard as the last words were spoken; the ever-noisy sailors, with their strange Franco-Canadian patois,' made the air vocal with sweet sounds,' mixed as it was with German, French, and Irish cries for lost wives, luggage and children. Amidst it all, like some huge wounded monster of the deep, the engine heaved and groaned ; the wheels moved round, the mass of wood and iron seemed a thing of life and will; and a few minutes having passed, the wharf, the crowd which 'had come down to gaze or say farewell, and at last the town, were lost to view.
As the boat went on, the loud confusion gradually gave way to order; and the sailors, clustering in groups, told of hair-breadth 'scapes by flood and'. town ; while the immigrants, who had not realized their golden dreams of this hemisphere, were cursing it for their mishaps, and going to their native land again. The cabin passengers were chatting in small groups, or promenading in the balmy air of a June evening, while some few were smoking on the forward-deck, among the sailors, horses, immigrants and freight, with which that deck was nearly filled.
The night wore on; the moon had hid its modest face behind a cloud; star after star sparkled its last and disappeared, until there were none left in Heaven. The belles and beaux, and business-men from time to time slipped off to bed ; and the 'Fat Gentleman,' who made each group he joined the evening through, a laughing.chorus, with his sunny, ruddy face, and the broad humor he had put in every motion, word and look — last though far from least - soon followed them.
Being left alone with my own sweet and bitter fancies,' I listened for a time to the monotonous heaving of the steam-monster below, and feeling no fatigue, took a travelling companion from my pocket, and read. An hour passed on; the words grew less and less distinct; the book fell from my hands; and I was dreaming too.
"And there was darkness and wo, and the cry thereof went up to heaven.'
Mon Dieu, nous somnes mort!' was shrieked beside me, as I was awakened by a noise like loudest thunder; a crash, a crushing, which appeared to tear the boat apart; and for the instant, what was under me sank rapidly. The first quick thoughts which flashed upon my brain were, that the boilers had burst, blown out the bottom of the boat, and we were going down! With a deep sinking feeling at my heart, which stopped its beatings for the time, and a belief that all was over now, I looked about to see from whence destruction was to come; but neither splinters, fire, nor steam appeared.
Among the passengers confusion at once reigned supreme; for all the decks were crowded as by magic with all sorts of people ; dressed, half-dressed, and undressed too; some screaming, some inquiring. The French-Canadians, whom danger always frightens, first embraced each other frantically, then uttered prayers, cries, shrieks, and made night hideous with their noisy fears. I hastened forward, asking by the way the cause of all this noise; but ‘Ah mon Dieu ! Je ne sais pas, Monsieur,' was all they answered me. I looked across the bulwarks, but the sky was dark, the water darker, and neither light nor shore was visible. Then passing to the other side, I pressed my way between the crew and passengers, whom fear had made half mad : the same · blackness of darkness' met my bewildered gaze. From thence, proceeding aft, I glanced upon the boilers as I passed; but they were whole, and the bright fire burned steadily within. Passing on through the dense crowd, to the steamer's side, the sad reality burst on my sight in all its horrors, like a night-mare dream of Hades. Chance, accident, or wilfulness, had brought the largest steamer on the lake in contact with us. There she lay within some fifty feet, her deck all dark with frantic people, and going down so rapidly that we could see her sink: the waves already touched her lower deck.
A large batteau, which would have held some fifty men, with seven in it, had already reached our steamer, from the sinking boat; indeed they were all trying to reach it, as the sole ark of their salvation.' The excitement at our gangway was intense. How could it well be otherwise, with some two hundred human beings dying as it were within our grasp, whose outlines could be dimly seen, as they sprang into the other boats, or rushed from side to side in wild confusion.
Our engine-bell now rang; the wheels went round, and we were leaving them behind. The thought flashed through the mind, 'We too are sinking, and are running for our lives;' and such was the fact. For a moment they gazed upon each other's faces, and silence came upon them like a spell.
Not so with those upon the other boat. They heard, in the sharp ring of our engine-bell, the knell of all their hopes. Around them were the waves; no shore was visible; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.' Then there went up from that mass of sinking souls to Heaven a cry? a scream ? a shriek ? No, none of these; they hardly make an echo to the sound. It was a death-wail!- long, and loud, and deep, with echoes of an infinite despair in every varying note. I closed my ears against the sound, and tried to close my soul to all the lawful thoughts which thronged upon it; but they would not keep away; and images of sinking hundreds filled the imagination. Babes clinging to their mothers struggling in the waves; old men going down with the death-gurgle in their throats; women shrill-shrieking in despair, as the