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JOHN B, CASSODAY,
JOHN SCOTT AND JOHN MARSHALL,
LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR ELDON.
JOHN B. CASSODAY, OF MADISON, Wis.
Sixty-five years ago last Friday, the spirit of the most eminent constitutional jurist this country has ever produced, passed from earth to the Celestial City. Under the leadership of the Illinois State Bar Association, the people of the country are today considering the most appropriate method of celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of his entrance upon the duties of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is fitting that such a movement should have originated in this marvelous city—the metropolis of this empire State,-carved out of the old Northwest Territoryceded to the United States by Virginia, the birthplace and home of the great jurist. Before writing the paper about to be read to you, I had carefully studied every opinion ever written by the great Chief Justice and published in the United States Supreme Court Reports—from the first case in the first of Cranch to the last case in the ninth of Peters. In common with all students of those great opinions, such
study generated a profound admiration for the heart that prompted, and the brain that conceived and formulated such comprehensive specimens of irrefragable logic. Fully be lieving that the development of intellect and the moulding of character depend very largely upon environment and opportunity, I was led to study the unfolding of the life and environment of John Marshall, and then to contrast them with the life and environment of his greatest judicial contemporary -John Scott-better known as Lord High Chancellor Eldon. Such contrast, incidentally, involved, to some extent, the comparison of two systems of government and jurisprudence having very much in common-and yet the one is peculiarly Eng. lish and the other is distinctively American. Perhaps, there has been no period in English or American history, more favorable for achieving eminence at the bar or in statesmanship, than that open to those who were born about the middle of the eighteenth century. During the twelve preceding centuries, a partially representative government, in England, had been evolved from the tribal monarchies and despotisms of earlier times; and the most admirable system of jurisprudence, then known among men, had, through the workings of the common law, and other agencies, become firmly established.
At the time of the first appearance of either of the subjects of this paper, the union with Scotland had been established for nearly half a century. George II had been firmly seated upon the throne for twenty-four years. One of the most consunimate equity lawyers that ever trod the soil of England, occupied the woolsack, in the person of Philip Yorke, better known as Lord High Chancellor Hardwicke. William Murray was Solicitor General, and soon became Attorney General and then the pre-eminent Lord Chief Justice Mansfield. The elder William Pitt, better known as the Earl of Chatham, was 43 years of age and the most brilliant debater in Parliament. Robert Henley, better known as the
JOIN B. CASSODAY
Earl of Northington, Wilmot, Charles Pratt, better known as Lord Camden, and the brilliant Charles York were distinguished members of the bar. Edmund Burke had just become of age, while Dunning, Thurlow, Kenyon, Wedderburn, and Warren Hastings had nearly reached their majority; and the latter had been but a few months in Calcutta. Great Britain was the mistress of the seas, and, as the mother of the common law, and the center of learning and influence, occupied the most exalted position among the nations of the earth. But the seven years' war with France had not yet been fought, and the possibilities of the American colonies were undetermined. Such were some of the circumstances under which John Scott first saw the light, on Love Lane in Newcastle in the then county of Durham, England. His two great rivals,
. Thomas Erskine and Edward Law, were, respectively, in their cradles or nurses' arms in Edinburg; while Charles James Fox was playing the pranks of a two-year-old at Oxford; and Richard B. Sheridan was not born until three months afterwards.
John Scott was born June 4, 1751, being the thirteenth birthday of George III, then heir apparent to the throne, whose father, Frederick I'rince of Wales, died that same year, and who, nine years afterwards, was crowned as George III. To his mother is traced the extraordinary talents which distinguished him and his brother William. Master Jackey, as he was called, as well as his brother William, was required to attend church with great strictness, and to report a synopsis of each sermon. William's reports usually consisted of concise summaries; while Jackey's usually consisted of elaborate details. In each case, “the boy was father to the man.” Jackey succeeded in getting through the schools of Newcastle before he reached his fifteenth birthday, without any unusual occurrence, except that he stole more fruit, flowers, and other things, and told more lies and received more floggings than any boy in the vicinity, with no extenuating
circumstances, save that he cocasionally shared his stolen articles with his more select companions and favorite girls. At this juncture, his father, who was a coal dealer, contemplated apprenticing him to learn the trade of coal fitter. Before doing so, however, he wrote to his older son William, who was at that time a tutor at Oxford, where he had graduated two years before and secured a scholarship and also a fellowship. William answered, to the effect, that Jack should be sent to him, as he could do better for him than his father had proposed. Accordingly, Jack started for London on a journey of four days and three nights on the stage coach "Fly," with this inscription, “Sat cito, si sat bene," "Soon enough, if but well enough,” which seems to have been a maxim with him throughout his whole professional and judicial life.
He entered University College, Oxford, May 15, 1766, and took his degree of A. B. February 20, 1770, without anything special to mention, except that he secured a prize on an essay, not, as he claimed, by reason of its merit, but on account of his father's services in driving Charles Edward from Scotland twenty-five years before. He considered himself irrevocably destined to the church, and probably would have been a "parson” had he not, when a little more than 21 years of age, fallen in love at first sight, and, November 18, 1772, eloped with and married Bessie Surtees. While this seemed to block his pathway to honors in the church, yet it in no way facilitated his progress to the bar. Nevertheless, the bar appears to have been his only remaining alternative. About two months after the marriage the parents of both parties became reconciled, and they were re-married and bid adieu to Newcastle.
January 28, 177:3, he entered the Middle Temple, in London, and soon after obtained his degree of A. M., and thereupon entered upon the study of the law with ihe most determined resolution. It is said, that his habit was to rise at four every norning, take little exercise and short and ab
JOHN B. CASSODAY.
stemious meals, and study late at night with Bessie near him, who occasionally would apply a wet towel to his head to drive away drowsiness; that he read Coke upon Littleton once, twice, thrice, and then made an abstract of the whole of it. In 1775 he moved from Oxford to London. With note book in hand he would from day to day take the students' seat in the Court of King's Bench with Mansfield presiding, or in the Court of Chancery, with the dull Bathurst as Lord Chancellor, whom he seemed to prefer. He greatly admired Sergeant Hill, who, on the night of his marriage, is said to have been so absorbed in studying the year books, that he forgot all about his bride. He failed to secure a place in the office of an equity draughtsman, and so bidding adieu to all literature, he patiently copied all the forms he could find. February 9, 1776, less than five months prior to our Declaration of Independence, and less than three months prior to the meeting of the convention in the Colony of Virginia, which terminated June 12, 1776, in the formation of a bill of rights, John Scott, at the age of nearly 25, was admitted to the bar of the King's Bench in England.
At that time, John Marshall was less than 21 years of age, but was a member of a military company known as the Culpepper Minute Men of Virginia, of which each member wore a green hunting shirt with the inspiring words of Henry, "Liberty or Death,” in white letters on the bosom; and upon their banner was the picture of a coiled rattlesnake, with the motto, "Don't tread on me.”
A glance has already been taken of the circumstances and opportunities of the student life of John Scott, and a sim ilar view must now be taken of the student life of John Marshall. He was the oldest of fifteen children, and was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, at a crossroads then known as Germantown, but now a railroad station known as Midland, some forty or fifty miles southwest of Washington, September 24, 1755, and was consequently more than four years