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In 1977 he was elected judge of the twenty-sixth judicial circuit of Illinois, and continued a judge of that court until he was elected to the Supreme Court, in 1888. In 1878 he was assigned by the Supreme Court to duty as judge of the Appellate Court for the First District, and from that time until his election to the Supreme Court he continued in active service as judge of said Appellate Court. From June, 1892, to June, 1893, he served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois.
"In his relations as lawyer, as legislator, as judge of the circuit and as justice in the courts of review of this State he was always industrious, learned and faithful in the discharge of his duties; in his relations as husband and father he was kind, prudent and affectionate; as a citizen, patriotic and conservative; and in his intercourse with his brethren of the bar he was frank, courteous and obliging. His opinions as judge of the Appellate Court and as justice of the Supreme Court are full, comprehensive, satisfactory and convincing, and show a careful study on his part of all the facts in the record and a thorough consideration and understanding of the legal principles applicable to the case. In his death the State has lost a good citizen, a great judge, and those who enjoyed the privilege of his intimate acquaintance, a true and valued friend.
“This association adopts this brief memorial in sincere respect for his memory and in sympathetic condolence with his family and friends."
Judge SHOPE, continuing to address the court, said:
Standing in this presence to-day, after the lapse of sufficient time for the poignancy of our grief to become in some degree assuaged, we are enabled to take a calmer view of the life and services of the great lawyer in honor of whose memory the resolutions were passed which I have just read in your hearing.
I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Judge BAILEY in the summer of 1857. We were then just commencing our professional careers, each ambitious to attain proficiency and dignity in the profession. At that early day he gave decided evidence, as I had occasion to know, of the painstaking, careful study and scrutiny of his case which ever after characterized him at the bar and upon the bench. I found him genial, warm-hearted and obliging, but somewhat reserved, and wholly indisposed toward all those dissipations in which, unhappily, too many of our cotemporaries were
prone to indulge. I knew him on until his death, and in every walk of life he fulfilled the bright promise of his young manhood. He had early acquired habits of close study and thought, and having a mind singularly analytical and logical, the mastery of the common law and its mode of procedure soon marked him at the bar as a most successful practitioner. His intimate knowledge of the principles of the law, combined with great tact and knowledge of affairs and of men, made him a formidable antagonist, and it surprised no one that he very soon went to the front ranks in his profession. As a practitioner he was always ready, evincing a thorough knowledge of his case and of the principles of law governing it, and won the confidence of the jury and court by his eminent fairness and uniform courtesy towards his opponents. He was singularly self-poised, and took the assaults upon his positions with unruffled temper and parried them by superior knowledge and skill.
He was three times elected to the circuit bench, and enjoyed at once the confidence and esteem of the bar and people. Within a year of his first election as circuit judge he was chosen by this court as Appellate Judge for the First Appellate District. Of his work upon that bench, as well as of his work subsequently upon this, the records speak more eloquently in his praise than anything that can now be said. He was not only a profound lawyer, but he had, by wide and extensive reading and accurate study, drawn copiously from the great storehouse of knowledge, and was equipped for his work by a broad and liberal education,—an education in nowise limited to academic study, but the result of persistent and methodical courses of study and close thought, continued during his entire career. He came to the bench with a thoroughly well-trained mind, and equipped at all points for the discharge of the public duty.
His indefatigable industry and preparation for his work enabled him to perform a great amount of work in a limited time,-a qualification eminently required, if not absolutely essential, in a judge of this court. No one who knew Judge BAILEY'S qualifications, or had opportunity to observe his industry and methods, was surprised that he kept the work of this court, arduous and exacting as it is, well in hand. He carried into his discharge of these arduous duties that uniform courtesy and kindly consideration for the bar and for his associates that ever characterized him.
He was strong in his convictions, and had the courage always to express and defend them, whether at the bar or in the conference room. He made up his mind after such investigation and thought as the circumstances rendered possible, and, guided by an intuitive sense of right, came to his conclusions. He had always the courage of his convictions, and demanded everywhere the right to judge of the quality of his own acts by the light he could obtain, yet always with gentleness and courtesy accorded the same right to others. Usually firm in his convictions, he listened willingly to argument, impartially weighed it and yielded readily when convinced. No judge had greater respect for or yielded more readily to authority than he did. That great question, "What is the truth?" seemed ever present before him, and he sought its solution with conscientious diligence. He filled the definition of Lord Bacon, that "Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident; and above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue." His opinions, enunciating those great principles which he had so well learned and which lie at the foundation of the progress of the race, are monuments to his great industry and learning, and will be read and followed long after the identity of the hand that wrote them is forever lost.
As a member of the legislature he took high rank, and by his untiring industry and devotion to the interests of the public ended his legislative career with added honors.
In private and social life Judge BAILEY was most estimable. Retiring in disposition, he was, by those who knew him least, sometimes regarded as distant and unapproachable; but to those who knew him well he was of most genial disposition, and was always ready to meet every advance with cordiality. He was warm-hearted and sincere, and to those whom he loved or who had won his confidence and esteem, helpful and kind always.
In his family he was a prince, but a prince with all those qualities of heart which make home all that is lovable and beautiful. His deep affection for his family, while never ostentatiously displayed, was one of the characteristics of this man, who was great enough to recognize every where that love is the first of God's laws. No one associated with him, following the death of his son, could question the great depth of sorrow that filled his soul. While, with a meekness and submission born of an unalterable faith in the good
ness of the Supreme Ruler of all, he went about his duties day by day, yet much of his elasticity was gone,- -a light had gone out of his life, never more to be lighted this side the grave.
The character of this strong man was simple and pure. His great strength, his poise of character, came from and were based upon an unalterable conviction of the truth of christianity. This he carried into his life and exemplified at his death.
I cannot disassociate thought of his life from that of an unfinished column, which, though replete with strength and beauty, is left by the builder before the shaft has risen to the hight and proportions designed by the architect. He was a loving and lovable man, a true and helpful friend, a great and learned lawyer and judge. In his death, those of us who, by long association, learned to know and love him, have met an irretrievable loss; the State and the public at large have lost a most valuable public servant; the law one of its ablest expounders, and truth and purity an able, fearless and untiring advocate and defender. He has solved the problem, not of death, but of life, and, as we may believe, realized the full fruition of his faith. To such an one we instinctively address ourselves, "Say not good night, but in some brighter clime bid us good morning."
I move your Honors that the resolution of the Chicago bar, which I have read, be spread upon the records of this court.
Mr. JUSTICE WILKIN responded:
Few relations in life bring men into closer touch with each other than that of associates on this bench. The consideration of an almost endless variety of questions presented for decision, and their investigation and discussion, soon bring to light the personal characteristics of every member of the court. With more than seven years of such opportunities to form an estimate of the character of our deceased brother BAILEY as a lawyer, man and judge, we do not hesitate to give our unqualified assent to what is said of him in the resolutions just read. It is neither injustice to others nor mere extravagance of expression to say, that in proportion to his term of service no judge on this bench has more industriously, earnestly or ably performed his duties. Few, if any, have rendered more valuable services to the bench and bar of our State. When he came to this court he was not only equipped with a strong legal mind, thoroughly educated and broadly cultured, but with a ripe
experience in judicial work. It would have been difficult to find a man in Illinois better qualified for service in its court of last resort in 1888, when he entered upon its duties. It is often, and truly, said, "the best lawyers do not always make the best judges." To patiently investigate the facts of every case and judicially apply the law requires more than mere learning in the profession or ability to successfully try cases at the bar. Judge BAILEY was not only an able lawyer, but he possessed the judicial mind and temperament in an eminent degree. In the examination and decision of cases he sought, but one end-the correct legal conclusion. No matter how complicated the facts or difficult the ascertainment of the law, his mind was only satisfied after he had thoroughly investigated the whole case and honestly and conscientiously believed he had found its correct solution on legal principles. To the accomplishment of that purpose he bent all his energies with a painstaking industry seldom equaled. To say he made mistakes is but to recognize the painful truth that human judgment, however enlightened and however carefully expressed, has always been and ever must be fallible. That he earnestly maintained a position once assumed, but evidenced his sincerity in the belief of its correctness. In doing so he was never dogmatical, but always considerate of opposing views and respectful to those entertaining them. It is no exaggeration to say he never spoke unkindly or ill-naturedly of any one. Among his many splendid traits of character, his self-control and uniform courtesy towards others were most marked. He was just, generous and forgiving at all times and under all circumstances. His promotion to the Supreme bench was not unsought. It was, in his own language, "the realization of a long-cherished ambition." Neither did he enter upon its duties feeling that other opportunities might tempt him to leave it. He often said, "I hope to spend the rest of my active life on this bench." That wish he was permitted to realize. For months he performed his full share of our work in the shadow of the death which he knew must soon overtake him, and he only laid down his pen a few weeks before the final summons came. To human conception his death seems untimely, but it is gratifying to know that he met it with unfaltering courage and with a christian's faith and hope, leaving to his family and the people of this State the legacy of an honorable name and an exemplary life.