A Successful Lawyer

His Practice and Poverty—Circuit Court—House Enlarged in his Absence—Horse, Saddle-bags, and Buggy—His Character—Not Defend a Client in Wrong—An Interesting Case—The Old Negress and Her Son Redeemed—Colonel Baker and Lincoln—What Judge Treat relates—Deluded into a Wrong Case—Refused to Defend his Client when Convinced he was Guilty—Another Case—A Suit against a Railroad—Refused $250 offered him—What Gillespie Thought of him as a Lawyer—What Sparks said of him—How he saved Jack Armstrong's Son from the Gallows—Aunt Hannah and her Gratitude—His Eloquence and Power—How he Assisted Aunt Hannah afterwards—Released her Son from the Army when President—What his Associate said of his Plea—Habits of Study—Sending Money to Parents—Spends $750 for his Mother—Letter to his Dying Father—Testimony of Judge Davis and Judge Drummond

When Lincoln commenced the practice of law he was too poor to own a horse and saddle-bags. He was obliged to borrow this outfit of a friend, until he scraped together enough money to purchase one.

“But why did he need a horse and saddle-bags?” the reader will ask.

At that time the Court went to the clients instead of the clients going to the Court. That is, Court business was laid out in Circuits; and the Court travelled from place to place, holding sessions, and transacting such business as the locality brought to it. Lincoln was in the “Eighth Judicial Circuit” of Illinois; and for several years travelled over it on horseback, with no other outfit than the contents of his saddle-bags and a cotton umbrella. A longer or shorter period was occupied in completing the “Circuit,” according to the amount of business brought to the Court. Lincoln was sometimes absent three months from home on the Circuit. During one of these long absences his wife had a second storey and a new roof put upon their house, as a surprise to him. It was nicely finished when he returned. Coming in front of his old home, he sat upon his horse surveying the changed habitation, and pretending not to recognize it, he called to a man across the street,—

“Stranger, can you tell me where Lincoln lives? He used to live here.”

When he got a little more of this world’s goods, he set up a one-horse buggy,—a very sorry and shabby- looking affair, which he generally used when the weather promised to be bad. But the lawyers were always glad to see him, and the landlords hailed his coming with pleasure.

Honesty, kindness, generosity, fairness, justice, and kindred qualities distinguished him in the practice of law. A whole volume of incidents might be related, illustrating these qualities of the man, but a few only can be given.

A stranger called to secure his services.

“State your case,” said Mr. Lincoln. The man stated it at considerable length, when Lincoln surprised him by saying,—

“I cannot serve you, for you are wrong and the other party is right.”

“That is none of your business, if I hire and pay you for taking the case,” retorted the man.

“Not my business!” exclaimed Lincoln. “My business is never to defend wrong if I am a lawyer. I never take a case that is manifestly wrong.”

“Well, you can make trouble for the fellow,” added the applicant.

“Yes,” responded Lincoln, “there is no reasonable doubt but that I can gain the case for you. I can set a whole neighbourhood at loggerheads; I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars, which rightfully belongs as much to the woman and her children as it does to you. But I won’t do it.”

“Not for any amount of pay?” inquired the man.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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