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“In the discharge of his high duties,” says a distinguished writer, “there was so much gentleness, modesty and simplicity united with such depth and compass of mind, that the profession loved him quite as much as they admired and respected him. His demeanor on the bench was a model of judicial dignity and courtesy. Whether the counsel was eminent or comparatively little known, he listened with the same attention, patience and respect.” “ He was endowed by nature,” says Mr. Binney, “with a patience that was never surpassed

never surpassed — patience to hear that which he knew already, that which he disapproved, that which questioned himself. When he ceased to hear it was not because his patience was exhausted, but because it ceased to be a virtue.”

While a great judge in all the branches of the law, his most enduring fame and pre-eminence was in expounding the Constitution. When, in 1801, Marshall took his seat upon the Supreme Bench, this republic was in its infancy and largely an experiment.

What the Constitution was and meant had never been declared by the highest courts of the land. But as early as 1805, Marshall declared that “the United States for many important purposes forn a single Nation. The States are constituent parts of the United States.” He promulgated the rule that “neither a strict nor a liberal interpretation, but the plain meaning of the words, should govern in the construction of the Constitution of the United States. Being called upon so early in our judicial history to expound the Constitution on so many questions, and having discharged that important trust so ably and well, it was fitting that he should have been called the “Father of the Constitution." It has been well said that “ Marshall found the Constitution paper and made it power; he found it a skeleton, and clothed it with flesh and blood."

In his "Lives and Times of the Chief Justices," Mr. Flanders observes that in his reasoning the great jurist "proceeded onward to his conclusions. He did not incumber himself nor embarrass others with a mass of authorities. Discerning, as if by intuition, the principle upon which the decision must depend, he did not look for cases either to illustrate or support it. Witness his judgment in the Dartmouth College case. In truth, however, on questions of constitutional law, there were no precedents to guide him. He was necessarily obliged to rely on the native strength of his mind; and it is here that his unrivaled penetration, his powers of analysis and combination are most conspicuously displayed. In acquisitions, in various legal knowledge, he has been surpassed by others, but for grasp of intellect and profoundness of judgment, where shall we look for his equal? He was less dependent on mere learning than others, for so distinguishing were his faculties, and so exquisite his penetration, that he unfolded the original principles which lie at the very foundations of the law."

Coming upon the bench in its infancy, when less than one hundred decisions had been rendered by his predecessors, it devolved upon this young jurist “to lay the foundations and rear a framework of a new kind of jurisprudence in which the matters of litigation are enlarged to include the most profound questions of statesmanship and the very structure and powers of government itself.” That he laid the foundations broad and deep, wisely and well, and builded a judicial structure that will stand the test of time, his judicial opinions covering a period of over a third of a century surely attest.

Such a man would have been great and attained dis


tinction in any vocation of life, but Marshall, while he could and would have achieved success as a statesman bad he remained in political life, built well an imperishable monument in the decisions he left behind during his long and eventful career, and in his “History of Washington,” and his “History of the Colonies.”

Chief Justice Fuller has said of him that “in mere learning he has been surpassed by some, but in pure reasoning by none.” It is related that at the conclusion of the delivery of one of his logical and unanswerable opinions Marshall added: “These seem to me to be the conclusions to which we are conducted by reason and the law. Brother Story will furnish the authorities." In studying the life and character of Marshall, especially his judicial career, one is led irresistibly to the conclusion that there was strongly implanted within him a desire to base every legal conclusion upon the principles of sound law, justice and right. He sought that which is the object of every legal investigation the truth; and usually found it. When he stated the facts of a case in his simple but strong way, the natural conclusion followed as cer. tainly as any demonstration in mathematics. This intuition, or art of reasoning, if you prefer, scores a great advantage in a judge seeking for the true light. This God-given talent Marshall possessed in the highest degree.

At an earlier period of our judicial history, Marshall was often compared with Story and Taney by those who saw in the latter points of excellence over those of the former; and while it may be admitted that Story was more learned, it is believed that in view of the great crises in our judicial and national history through which the

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former passed, and probably averted in a measure by his exposition of our fundamental law in a perilous period of our infancy, impartial history will accord him a higher rank in judicial eminence than either of the others have been able to attain. As Americans we are proud of them all, but as Americans far removed from the jealousies always existing when the participants are on or near the scene of action, it must be, and I believe is, conceded, that Marshall reached the highest point upon the mountain range of judicial distinction and greatness ever attained by an American jụdge.

Indeed, his contemporary and colleague, the great and learned Story bimself, paid this among other tributes to his chief: “Enter but that hall and you saw him listening with a quiet, easy dignity to the discussions at the Bar; silent, serious, searching; with a keenness of thought which sophistry could not mislead or error confuse or ingenuity delude; with a benignity of aspect which invited the modest to move on with confidence; with a conscious firmness of purpose which repressed arrogance and overawed declamation. You heard him pronounce the opinion of the court in a low but modulated voice, unfolding in luminous order every topic of argument and measuring its value, until you felt yourself in the presence of the very oracle of the law.” Story also said that “next to Washington, he stands the idol of all good men. And who so well deserves it?”

As already intimated, Marshall was exceptionally learned and strong in his interpretation of the Constitution. It has been said that to pay a tribute to Marshall is to write a history of American constitutional law. His decisions are the embodiment of clearness, logic, rea

son and law, and will live and be quoted as long as there are courts of law and justice.

"As in the heavens the urns divine,
Of golden light, forever shine -
Though clouds may darken, storms may rage,

They'll still shine on from age to age.” Mr. Wirt, the great orator, lawyer and statesman, has said of this extraordinary man that “he possesses one original and almost supernatural faculty, the faculty of developing a subject by a single glance of his mind, and detecting at once the very point on which a controversy depends. No matter what the question, though ten times more knotty than 'the gnarled oak,' the lightning of heaven is not more rapid or more resistless than his astonishing penetration. Nor does the exercise of it seem to cost him an effort; on the contrary, it is as easy as vision. I am persuaded that his eyes do not fly over a landscape and take in its various objects with more promptitude and facility than his mind embraces and analyzes the most complex subject.”

One notable characteristic of this truly great American, as indeed it is of most great men, was his simplicity of manners, habits and form of expression. Although not a college graduate, the most abstruse and complex questions of law and fact were stated by him with such clearness and precision, and yet in strong but simple forms of expression, that what seemed complex was made to appear simple and plain.

Many incidents of his simplicity of character have been told and are familiar to every reading American, but none perhaps shows forth the simple faith of this great Chief Justice more strikingly than the fact that he never

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