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Horace Binney' exclaims:
“What were the States before the Union ? The hope of their ememies, the fear of their friends, and arrested only by the Constitution from becoming the shame of the world.”
Sir Henry Maine? remarks:
“It is not at all easy to bring home to the men of the present day how low the credit of republics bad sunk before the establishment of the United States. The Federal Constitution has survived the mockery of itself in France and in Spanish America. Its success has been so great and striking that men have almost forgotten that, if the whole of the known experiments of mankind in government be looked at together, there has been no form of government so unsuccessful as the republican."
The vast and salutary change which has thus given hope to the world and replaced a spectacle of what was weakest and most disheartening in human society by a spectacle of national greatness and popular happiness at which mankind wonders has been doubtless due, under Divine Providence, to many of our institutions and to many of our public men, but it has been the work of no institution so visibly as of the Supreme Court of the United States, and of no man, unless it be of Washington, so indisputably as of John Marshall.
This eminent magistrate, unmoved by the obloquy or clamor of his day, was yet mindful of the voice of history. In the words of Lord Mansfield, applied to him by Story::
“He wished for popularity; that popularity wbich
Eulogy, p. 46. Post, Vol. III, 320.
follows, not that which is run after; that popularity which, sooner or later, never fails to do justice to the pursuit of noble ends by noble means."
Or, as Story himself says:
“He aspired to that fame which is enduring and may justly be conferred by future ages; not to that fame which swells with the triumphs of the day, and dies away long before it can reach the rising generation.”
And what he wished for, that he has. Of all the men in high office who listen to-day to bis eulogies, how many, I ask you, will have life, will have even being, in the thoughts of their countrymen sixty-six, or even six, years after their earthly lives have closed ? Which one of those now powerful and prominent in the land can hope, with reason, to be more than a swiftly-fading memory, more than a name men have already half forgotten a single year after his epitaph has been graven on his tomb? In the vast whirring, crashing bustle of modern industrial civilization, flitting shapes of transitory dig. nity hurry by us from one abyss of oblivion to another and are gone ere we well know that they are: who will think a century's, nay, a generation's, space hence of our country's rulers of to-day? How many among her: rulers in the days of my own childhood, even of my early manhood, can be recalled, save by an effort of memory, now? Yet from this chaos of forgotten mediocrity a few names, a few lives stand forth gaining, instead of losing, in distinctness and stature as the years roll by, growing into their true and lasting greatness as Time sweeps into his rubbish heap all the false and transient eminence of petty men beside them. And the figure of the great Chief Justice, of the man who made our Constitution the liv
1 Discourse, p. 44. Post, Vol. III, 366.
ing bulwark of our orderly freedom, who taught our courts their full mission and our people to trust in our courts, who, in himself, left us a model for all judges and an object of reverence for all men, that figure will endure a breathing, speaking guide to the thoughts and acts and lives of Americans while America is yet great and yet worthy of her greatness, while the justice of her courts is yet the justice of righteousness.
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA.
A celebration was held in West Virginia by the State Bar Association at their regular annual meeting at Parkersburg. The meeting was held in the Auditorium at two o'clock p. m. on the 4th of February, 1901. The Auditorium was filled to its entire capacity by a large audience of ladies and gentlemen invited from all parts of the State, members of the local bar and of the State Bar Association, including the venerable John J. Jackson, of the District Court of the United States, who was appointed by President Lincoln and holds the oldest commission among the Federal judges; Hon. M. H. Dent, of the Supreme Court of West Virginia; Hon. Alston G. Dayton, Hon. L. N. Tavenner, and others in the public service, as well as local officials. Henry M. Russell, of Wheeling, presided in the absence of L. J. Williams, of Lewisburg, the President of the Association; and without a formal address introduced the orator of the occasion, the Hon. Henry Billings Brown, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Oration of Justice Brown. It is scarcely too much to say that the history of the Supreme Court of the United States, as the recognized mouth-piece of the Constitution, began with the installation of John Marshall as its Chief Justice one hundred years ago to-day. It is true that the court had been in existence eleven years. But no case was decided upon its merits for the first three years after its organization, and
the cases finally disposed of during those eleven years did not exceed forty in number. But one important constitutional question was passed upon, and the people were so little pleased with the decision that they promptly overrode it by an amendment to the Constitution. The court had not even a reporter. Prior to Marshall's accession, its reports were published as an appendix to Dallas' reports of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Such reports are contained in 330 pages of Curtis' Decisions, wbile 2,400 pages are now necessary for the reports of a single term.
The importance of the court was greatly underestimated by the people and by the legal profession. Even the Chief-Justiceship was so little thought of that Jay resigned it to become Governor of New York, and subsequently declined a reappointment, to retire to private life. Rutledge resigned his position as Associate Justice to become Chief Justice of South Carolina. Robert H. Harrison hesitated long between a seat upon the Supreme bench and the Chancellorship of Maryland, and finally decided in favor of the latter, though he lived but a few montbs thereafter.
Marshall, however, bad scarcely taken bis seat upon the bench when the first of that series of constitutional cases (Marbury v. Madison) which were to make his name immortal was called to the attention of the court. With that case Marshall may be said to have entered upon his career as the expounder of the Constitution.
The great charter of our Federal Government, the Constitution of the United States, comparatively recent as it is, is believed to be, with the single exception of the Constitution of Massachusetts, the oldest written scheme of a National Government now in existence. While there are