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prepared; as I said before, I was alone and new to this description of professional conflict which required so much judgment, readiness, and self-possession. Although determined to do my utmost I was very anxious. Some gentlemen whom I knew well were to be on the jury, and all of them were eminent merchants in the city. Some of them willing to encourage me had entrusted me with cases in the Circuit; while eager to do my best for my client I was far from indifferent about my own reputation, and I was impressed with the erroneous belief that everything depended upon the exhibition I was about to make of my professional skill and capacity. How much in the outset of a career we often underrate or exaggerate the effects of our debut. No doubt that it is or may be in the highest degree important; it starts us well, but the goal is not won, and it must be followed up by labour, steadiness, perseverance and attention to the business entrusted to our care. The young lawyer may in his first effort fail, but how often do we see that this very failure only stimulates to new and more resolute exertions. In most cases, with perseverance and a heart in his work, the day of triumph will come, and when it does beware of the man whose debut was a failure. The strife and the struggle have sharpened his intellect, hardened his nerves, and taught him consummate skill in the use of his weapons. The time appointed for the trial was ten o'clock, and I took my seat immediately in rear of the Queen's Counsel table, a few minutes before that hour. My papers were before me, my books on each side, a goodly row, for I was armed to the teeth. The trial excited considerable interest, and already the spectators began to assemble. The clerk was in his seat, and the criers were in attendance. Then came the defendant's counsel—wily and experienced men. They lounged in carelessly and nodded to me patronisingly as they passed to the Queen's Counsel table, where they took their seats. Shortly after some of the jury arrived, and then others followed, and soon the Court was pretty full. Precisely at ten the judge took his seat, and as he did so the crier called silence, and the counsel rose to make their bows. It was then that I felt the full weight of my responsibility. My client was at my side, and nervously anxious. The judge was a large impressive-looking man, about fifty years of age, with a careless impassive expression of countenance, and wore the appearance of one long accustomed to such scenes. How unconcerned they look these judges, whose words and decisions affect so much the fortunes and happiness of thousands who seek justice at their hands. He had always been very kind, and had often spoken many an encouraging word to me in his off-hand easy way, but he had a clear head and prompt judgment, and understood thoroughly all the arts and wiles of our profession. I knew his look of indifference and almost weariness took in and fathomed all that was going on. I felt this now, and when his cold and steady eye met mine, it seemed tb say, or I thought it did, "You have a hard struggle before you, but faint heart won't do here." He enquired of the clerk if the parties were ready to proceed with the oase. When answered in the affirmative, he ordered them to be called. To the plaintiff's name I answered firmly " I appear " ; my voice seemed to ring through the whole court house. The defendant's counsel nodded carelessly to the clerk when their client's name was called. The names of jurors being called over, and they sworn, the judge said, rather impatiently, "Go on, gentlemen; who opens the case?" "I do, your Honor," said I; and I was immediately upon my feet. One of the defendant's counsel, with his head upon his hand, and his elbows on the table, looked round at me carelessly, and then whispered something to his senior, who smiled. A dark mist was now setting in upon my eye and brain, the objects and persons around me were at times receding and then flashing in my face, like things seen moving in the vapours of the early morning. At first I felt as light as a feather, and then as heavy as lead. I did not tremble, but I felt as if I were paralysed. I took up some of my papers. The jury settled themselves in their seats, and seemed fixed in attitudes of critical attention. Some of them I thought even gave me painfully anxious glances out of the corners of their eyes; they looked as if they pitied me. This was all imagination. What they really wanted was to have the matter over and to get away. Before me were these twelve educated intelligent business men. The judge was opposite me, my client by my side, and the audience around me. About ten seconds elapsed from the time I rose to my first utterance, "May it please the court, and you, gentlemen of the jury," yet it seemed a century; I had lived at least ten years in that time. The judge looked impatient, and seemed to say, Go on, sir, go on. I felt a shiver running along my nerves, and then all the blood in my veins rushed tumultuously to my brain. I felt as if every man in the room, even to the judge, was my mortal enemy, and ready to break forth in a roar of laughter at my position. But, thank God, my young nerves were strong; they did not give way. I began my statement of the case with a deliberation which must have impressed my hearers with the conviction that I was insane. But I had mastered the facts thoroughly; they were impressed on my memory as if engraven in adamant; my blood slowly warmed, and the equilibrium of the circulation was gradually restored. I rapidly forgot myself and all else, except the facts of the case. I spoke nearly an hour, and laid the facts clearly before the jury. Though modest and so timid then, the judge told me in after years that I made a very creditable effort. When I closed I had thoroughly recovered my self-possession and I felt sure of success.
I had not, however, much time to waste in glowing anticipations, or in admiration of my efforts. I had scarcely taken my seat when the judge, never a very patient man, growled out, "Well sir, your first witness, go on." I proceeded to adduce my evidence and notwithstanding severe and browbeating cross-examinations I established by no less than ten witnesses all the essential averments of my declaration. The policy of insurance, the fire on the morning in question, the loss and value of the furniture and wearing apparel, and my application in due form to be paid. Thus supported, the case seemed impregnable, and both my client and myself were confident of a verdict in our favour. I was really at a loss to conceive or to understand what my opponents had, or could have, to say, but there were breakers ahead; I did not perceive them then, but I could now; I received a lesson then, I am not likely to forget. I soon saw where I was drifting, as one of the opposite counsel carelessly rose and bowing quietly to the judge and jury he began in a conversational style to state his few choice words, to him mere platitudes; he was very complimentary to his young friend, who had certainly given proof of great care, industry and promising ability. He had, moreover, made out a very plausible case for the jury, "But," he added, with a deferential look at the Bench and a confidential glance at the jury, "these things are well understood in courts of justice; gentlemen, men of intelligence like yourselves and I may add perhaps, the honorable and learned judge who presided over this court, will require something more before this case is disposed of. It will be our painful duty to present a different, a very different picture of this case to your consideration; I say painful, gentlemen, because our clients always deeply regret when they feel obliged to resist a claim on account of fraud, and fraud not only in its ordinary sense, but falsehood and fraudulent statements of the grossest character." In this strain he proceeded to show that my client was strongly suspected of having set fire to the premises. Grave suspicions were prevalent, and in fact, he might venture to add, that proof he believed existed, but these things were always difficult to establish and detection and conviction were almost impossible; besides, he said, that ground had been abandoned because there was indeed no wish to press too hard upon the plaintiff. They would, however, prove that if he was not guilty of a crime he had anticipated one and had removed a certain portion of his furniture before what he would call, the accident, had occurred. It was even very doubtful if any of the wearing apparel had been destroyed. It would also be made clear to the court and jury that the furniture destroyed by the fire was almost worthless. In any view of the matter it would appear from the evidence that the claim was accompanied by false statement and was of the most fraudulent character, and that the only verdict which could be rendered in the case would be one sending the plaintiff out of the court, branded, he was sorry to say, as a man guilty of the grossest fraud.
This address had obviously made a great impression on the jury, and I confess that a feeling of great uneasiness came over my mind at the cool confident tone of my adversary's speech. He had closed with the remark that the evidence they were about to adduce would relieve the court and jury of all embarrassment in disposing of the case. The defendant's counsel then proceeded to adduce evidence in support of the defence. They examined several witnesses, and their testimony was strong, very strong against the plaintiff. After establishing in a general way that his loss had been very trifling, they produced a witness who had acted as one of the appraisers on behalf of the Company after the fire. He was a respectable intelligent-looking man, and had given the premises and every article of furniture in the house, a very particular examination. When I saw him step into the witness box after the evidence which had been adduced, I felt as if my case was likely to receive a finishing stroke. He spoke strongly and decisively, and among other statements was one whioh ruined my case. After describing the condition and appearance of the house inside, and shewing that the chest of drawers was empty, but uninjured; that no carpets had been destroyed, and apparently no household furniture or wearing apparel were lost or damaged, he proceeded to show that no hair mattrasses were there at the time of the fire. He proceeded to show the jury a quantity of manilla found there, and assured these gentlemen that the idea of there being any hair mattrasses was preposterous; that he had taken this bundle of manilla from the mattrasses which plaintiff pretended were of hair, but there was no hair in them. To all appearance my case was lost; my client was speechless with dismay. I raised my hand to my head and felt that my temples were throbbing as if a high fever was on me. I looked up to the judge whose look seemed to say "your case is in a very critical position, and the chances are all against you." What was passing in his mind I don't know, but his eyes conveyed the meaning to me.
I rose to cross-examine this formidable witness. I first asked him how old he was and requested him to favour the court and jury with his exact age, if possible. He raised his hand to his forehead and reflecting a moment he answered that he was as near as he could attest forty years of age. I then asked him where he was born and a variety of other questions not very important but calculated to call off attention from his evidence. I called upon the clerk to be very particular in taking down the witness's exact words. At length he became impatient and said he did not see what all this had to do with the case. I reminded him that this was none of his particular business and requested him to answer my questions without any evasion. I then required him to say how often he had acted as appraiser for the defendants or for any other insurance company. He replied that he had acted once before for defendants. He was then asked to say whether his evidence on one occasion had not given rise to some very unpleasant circumstances. He became indignant and refused to answer. I then said " Very well, sir, I will not press you on that point as I perceive you do not relish being interrogated in regard to these matters." He replied that I was mistaken but he did not wish to be asked questions that had no sense. "Very well, sir," I said, "as you please, you probably know better than "I do, what you should or should not answer touching these "matters. You have no objection, I presume, to take your bundle "of manilla, taken from the plaintiff's premises, to open it and "show it to each of the jury." He did so, and one of the jury looking at it closely, said: "why, the greater portion of your