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It was the boast of Augustus that he found Rome of brick and left it 
of marble. But how much nobler shall be the sovereign's boast, when he 
shall have it to say, that he found law dear and left it cheap ; found it a 
sealed book, left it a living letter; found it the patrimony of the rich, 
left it the inheritance of the poor ; found it the two-edged sword of craft 
and oppression, left it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence. 

— Lord Brougham. 






Copyright, 1898 
By henry M. field 

■\V0 COP! !-:s RECEIVED. 




We are all that are left ! One by one, father, mother, 
brothers, sisters, have passed on till we are standing 
alone ! When, last of all, our eldest brother left us, 
it would have fallen to you to write the story of his 
busy life, but that you were so engrossed with your 
duties on the bench as to forbid any other labor.* 
Hence the task has fallen to me, who can only write as 
a layman. But if the picture be wanting in some pro- 
fessional details, it will at least be drawn by a loving 
hand. And yet it is not from mere personal regard that 
we cherish the memory of our beloved dead, but that he 
was a great figure in his generation. We who were 
nearest to him felt the inspiration most, and now that 
he is gone, we recognize more than ever what we owe 
to him, as next to what we owe to those who gave us 
being, and it is our highest ambition to be not unworthy 
of such a brother, and of such a father and mother. 


*The preparation of this volume was begun soon after the 
death of Mr. Field, and has occupied all the time that the writer 
could give to it for three years. It is a singular coincidence that 
as he closes his work upon it, his brother retires from the 
Supreme Court of the United States after a service of thirty- 
four years and six months — a longer time than that of any 
other man who ever sat upon the bench since the foundation of 
the Government, not excepting the great Chief Justice Marshall. 

I c 


" For at least a third of a century," said the late Mr. 
Austin Abbott, ' ' David Dudley Field was the most 
commanding figure at the American bar." This alone 
would justify, if it did not demand, some record of his 
long and splendid career, while the traditions of his great 
arguments still linger in the memories of the survivors 
of his generation. But he was not merely "a figure at 
the bar," however "commanding" ; he was a reformer 
and reconstructor of the law itself ; in which the work 
that he did cannot be appreciated without some knowl- 
edge of the unsatisfactory state of the law when he 
entered upon the practice of his profession. 

In the colonial period of American history, our law 
was the common law of England, that dates back to 
the time of Alfred the Great, and was overlaid with the 
accumulations of a thousand years. The Acts of Par- 
liament were scattered through hundreds of volumes. 
There were whole libraries of decisions of the courts — 
decisions that were often so contradictory as to create 
hopeless confusion. And even more confusing than the 
law itself, was the administration of the law, as there 
were two Forms of Procedure : in Law and in Equity ; 


whereby what was decided in one might be reversed in 
the other. Was there any necessity for this roundabout 
way to secure simple justice? Was it not possible to 
reduce somewhat the enormous bulk of the English 
law ; to gather up the mighty fragments that were 
scattered all along the centuries, and frame them into 
fixed codes? Such were the questions that a young 
lawyer asked himself more than fifty years ago. He 
believed that, even where chaos reigned, it was within 
the power of man to restore order : to cut a passage 
through the jungle, and "cast up an highway" that 
should lead straight to the Temple of Justice. But the 
very suggestion was so presumptuous as to seem to 
be almost sacrilege. It was a want of respect to the 
traditions of the most conservative of professions. The 
Reform and the Reformer were attacked with argu- 
ment and ridicule : by lawyers and judges ; in courts 
and legislatures. But he was in that stage of early 
manhood when one is inspired by high ideals. The 
very idea of justice was sacred to him. God was the 
Great Lawgiver, and human justice should be framed 
as far as possible on the foundation of eternal justice. 
That was the only thing that could hold the world 
together. If, as Mr. Webster tells us, "Justice is the 
great interest of man upon earth," there can be no 
greater service to humanity than to establish justice by 
law. The union of Justice and Power is the only solid 
foundation for human society. Inspired by such a con- 


viction, the Reform of the Law was to its projector a 
holy crusade. ' Brought up in the old Puritan faith that 
the law of God was not only for the wise but for the 
simple, he would have the law of man brought down tc 
the intelligence of all who were under it. No for- 
eign phrases should obscure its meaning. Every word 
should be in the dear old English tongue wherein we 
were born. If all men could not understand the intri- 
cacies of the law, they could at least understand justice, 
as they felt the stings and wrongs of injustice. He 
would have the pressure of the law like the pressure of 
the atmosphere, resting alike upon all, yet not as a 
burden, but as the very breath of life, the inspiration of 
freedom as well as of justice, that makes men strong 
and nations great. Thus the law should be "of the 
people, by the people, and for the people." 

Such was the dream of the young Reformer. But 
how far did he achieve what he undertook ? A Lord 
Chancellor of England, the late Lord Cairns, said that 
he ' ' had done more for the reform of the law than any 
other man living ; " and expressed his amazement that 
he could vmdertake the enormous labor it involved, 
while at the same time carrying on a large professional 
practice. This was indeed the wonder of all who knew 
him. The work of the student and the codifier alone 
was more than enough to absorb the undivided labor of 
the longest life. But the Reformer was not a recluse, 
shut up within the walls of libraries, which no sound 


from the outer world could invade. He was a soldier 
who was always in the thick of the fight, as must be 
one who was a "commanding figure at the bar." Nor 
was this all. No man was more deeply interested in 
the political questions of the day. A Democrat by 
principle, he was one of the first to break with his party 
on the point of the extension of slavery, which he fought 
in conventions, when he stood almost alone — a move- 
ment that took form in the old Free Soil party, which 
was the nucleus of the Republican party, that at last 
won its victory in the election of Lincoln, and kept pos- 
session of the government for a whole generation after 
the war. 

But above all professional or political ambitions was 
the Reform which he undertook in his early manhood, 
and which filled up the measure of his days till he 
breathed his last in his ninetieth year, a purpose thus 
briefly recorded on his tomb : 






Did any man, living or dead, ever aim higher than 
this ? Is it possible to conceive of anything more noble 
than "to bring justice within the reach of all men"? 
How far he succeeded is another question, which the 


writer, after telling the story in a simple narrative, 
leaves to the reader, asking only that his opinion, what- 
ever it may be, should be formed entirely apart from 
personal considerations. The character here portrayed 
was a very positive one, and roused strong antagonisms. 
The Reformer — like other Reformers — was a man of 
war from his youth, and gave, as well as received, 
tremendous blows. But all this is over now. He has 
gone to the grave, and in that grave should be buried 
all the passions of the hour. But though he is gone, 
his work remains, an inheritance to future generations, 
and may safely be left to the verdict of posterity. His 
name has passed into history, and by history let it be 




From the Stock of the Pilgrim Fathers. ... 1 

Birth and Boyhood. Removal to Stockbridge. . . 13 

The New Home. Going to College. . . . .26 


Studies Law and Enters Practice in New York. Mar- 
riage : Death of his Wife : A Year Abroad. . 84 


The Reform of the Law. The Codes of Civil and Crim- 
inal Procedure. 42 


A Domestic Episode. The Golden Wedding. . . .57 

Codification of the Common Law 68 


Adoption of the Codes at Home and Abroad. . . 84 




"The Commanding Figure at the Bar." . . . .97 


Position in Politics. A Democrat, but opposed to the 
Extension of Slavery. Annexation of Texas. Rise 
of the Free Soil Party 107 

The Nomination of Lincoln. A Chapter of unwritten 
History 121 

The last Effort for Peace 141 

The War that had to come 1G3 


Re-establishment of the Reign of Law. . . . 183 

Work and Play. How he "Warmed both hands at the 
fire of life." 208 

An International Code. Arbitration Instead of War. 219 

The long Vacation : Going round the World. . . 243 

A NEW Chapter in Politics. A Disputed Presidential 
Election. Two Months in Congress. . . . 263 



Joy anu Sorrow. The Death of his Son. Visit to his 
daughter in jamaica 277 


The Afternoon of Life. The Queen's Jubilee. Death 
OF Sib Anthony Musurave 295 

The Peace Conuress in London. 308 


Visit from his daughter and her sons. The Death of his 
brother Cyrus 323 

The last summer among the Hills 329 

Homeward bound. The going down of the Sun. . . 337 




Facing 64 



The liistory of New England dates from Plymouth 
Eock. But the Mayflower was from the beginnmg a 
sort of forlorn hope. Of the hundred pilgrims that it 
had on board, the greater part were so worn out with the 
three months' voyage, and the winter's cold, that when 
the spring came one half were in their graves ; so that 
the brave little ship is but a picturesque figurehead in 
the great drama of American history, and has its place 
of honor chiefly as the pioneer of larger emigrations 
that had in them more of the seeds of empire. Ten 
years later came John Winthrop with an expedition a 
thousand strong, and founded the Colony of Massachu- 
setts Bay. About the same time another pilgrim ship 
had among its passengers a gi-andson of John Field, 
the astronomer, who, a hundred years before Isaac 
Newton, introduced into England the Copernican 
Astronomy. That he was a Puritan of the Puritans 
may be inferred from his very name, the good old 
Scriptural name of Zachariah. But Puritan as he was, 
he was none the less a man of affairs, of the energy 


and enterprise that are needed in the making of a new 

Some historical critics, to whom nothing is sacred, 
would take from us the heroism of our Pilgrim fathers, 
by telling us that they were not seeking ' ' freedom to 
worship God " so much as to better their worldly for- 
tunes. But the two things were not inconsistent in the 
Puritan any more than in the "canny Scot," whose 
psalm-singing and long prayers did not prevent his 
being thrifty at a bargain, or a tremendous fighter on the 
field of battle. The men who landed on the rock-bound 
coast of New England, had first of all to fight for exist- 
ence ; to find homes for their wives and children. But 
wherever they went in the wilderness, they carried the 
ark of God with them, and 

"The sounding aisles of the dim woods rang 
To the anthem of the free. " 

Full of the hfe of the New World, Zachariah Field 
remained but a few years near Boston, when he pushed 
into the interior over a hundred miles to the valley of 
the Connecticut. The old records of Hartford show 
that he was one of the original proprietors, who bought 
the land from the Indians, part of which was held 
as the property of the town, and part was assigned to 
individuals in proportion to the amount contributed to 
the purchase. As he was still in the vigor of man- 
hood he was one of the forty-two men furnished by 


Hartford to take part in the Pequot war. He was 
afterwards one of a company that bought from the 
Indians nine miles square of land lying north of 
Mount Holyoke, and moved up the valley of the Con- 
necticut, hving first in Northampton, and then in Hat- 
field, where he died in 1666. 

In venturing thus far towards the frontier he exposed 
his family to great dangers from the savages that were 
lurking near the settlements. A few years later King 
Philip's war stirred up the Indians from one end of 
Massachusetts to the other. The massacre of Bloody 
Brook (a part of Deerfield), in which a whole company 
of soldiers were killed, sent a thrill of horror through 
the new settlements, that were soon deserted, the peo- 
ple fleeing to Northampton for safety. But a few 
months later the whites turned the tide in the battle of 
Turner's Falls, which gave them rest for some years, 
till the Indians were stirred up again by the French, and 
attacking Deerfield at night, set fire to the town, and 
massacred part of the inhabitants, and made prisoners 
of the rest. In all these terrible scenes few famihes 
suffered more than the Fields, of whom some were 
killed and others, including women, were carried off as 
captives to Canada. 

But in spite of all dangers the brave settlers held 
the fort, or rather held the frontier, and became the 
ancestors of families who have kept the name in honor 
in Northwestern Massachusetts for six generations. 


Among their descendants are not only ministers and 
lawyers and judges, but men of business, whose vast 
interests require as much financial ability as to be Sec- 
retary of the Treasury of the United States ; so that we 
may be pardoned if we claim it as another proof that 
blood will tell, that Mr. Marshall Field, of Chicago, is 
a direct descendant of the old Puritan, Zachariah Field. 
But, though this tribe of Israel was of a fighting 
race, the bravest of men do not care to be wakened too 
often by the war-whoop of the savage : and a grandson 
of Zachariah, " Ebenezer," signifying "Thus far hath 
the Lord helped us," thought it more for his peace of 
mind to go back to the land from which his forefather 
came out, and returned to Connecticut. Nor did he 
stop at Hartford, but went on to the shore of Long 
Island Sound and took up his home in Guilford, in the 
eastern part of the town, now called Madison, where 
he married Mary Dudley, (a descendant of two govern- 
ors of the Colony of New Haven) through whom the 
name of Dudley came into the family. Here he and 
those that came after him abode for more than a hun- 
dred years. In the old burying ground where 

" The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." 

may still be seen side by side three low headstones 
which mark the heads of three generations: for after 
Ebenezer came his eldest son, David, who settled in 
the north part of Madison, probably as early as 1720, 


in a district which, as it was yet uncleared, was called 
' ' The "Woods, " where he soon after erected a frame 
house of two stories, that was literally founded on a 
rock, and is standing to this day. 

After David came Timothy, who lived on the old 
homestead, which he inherited from his father. He 
was a man of great vigor and resolution, which led his 
fellow-townsmen to look to him as a leader in troublous 
times. When he was m the prime of manhood — a little 
over thirty years of age — the War of the Revolution 
broke out, and he entered the army. In 1776 he joined 
the seventh regiment raised in Connecticut for the 
defence of the State, and served under Washington, 
when the great leader, rallying his forces after the dis- 
astrous defeat on Long Island, took a position of defence 
on the upper part of New York Island, between Fort 
Washington and the East River, to watch the British 
troops which then held the city, and took part in the 
battle of White Plains. He was afterward in command 
of a coast guard organized for protection against expe- 
ditions that might attack towns along the shore of Long 
Island Sound, in which he once saved Guilford from 
a raid of Tories who landed June 17th, 1781, and had 
begun to burn the town, when, mustering the farmers 
with their muskets, he attacked them with such spirit 
that he drove them to their boats, leaving their dead* 
and wounded behind them. 

Captain Field lived many years after the war, and 


was a fine specimen of the old "Continentals," who 
united the character of the farmer and the soldier. The 
older inhabitants of the town still remember his striking 
figure. One who says " he can see him now," describes 
him as "a large, broad-breasted, well-built man." 
Even while engaged in peaceful pursuits he kept up the 
mihtary style of dress of other days. ' 'He always wore 
a cocked hat, short breeches, long stockings, and bright, 
silver shoe-buckles ; and I never saw Mm, either on the 
farm or abroad, that he was not dressed in this manner." 

This revolutionary veteran had eight children, of 
whom six were daughters. The sons were both minis- 
ters. The elder, who bore his father's name of Timothy, 
was one of the early pioneers of Western New York, 
and was settled in Canandaigua, where are still many 
of his kindred. He afterward returned to New Eng- 
land, and became a pastor in Westminster, Vermont, 
where he died in 1844, leaving a name that is held by 
the old residents in loving remembrance. The other 
son was the Rev. David Dudley Field, the father of the 
subject of this biography. 

It would be a very imperfect narrative that did not 
pause before the figure of the venerable patriarch who 
forms the link between past generations and the present, 
and whom all who survive hold in tenderest love and 
reverence. He was descended, as we have seen, from a 
race of brave and God-fearing men, who in times of 
danger defended the frontier settlements against the 


savages, and fought for their country's independence. 
But it was a small world into which he came. Yet 
not so small as it seemed. Those days had their 
excitements as well as ours. It was just after the Rev- 
olutionary war. Indeed he was born before the contest 
was decided. The last gun was fired while he was in 
his cradle. Such great events left their impression far 
beliind them. The agitation remained long after the 
conflict was over, and the mind of the country was still 
rocked and tossed, like the ocean after a storm. Every 
hamlet in New England was full of tales of the great 
struggle. The actors in those scenes were still upon the 
stage. There were men who had fought behind the 
entrenchments on Bunker Hill; who had followed 
Washington in all the vicissitudes of the long conflict ; 
who had camped with him at VaUey Forge ; who had 
witnessed the surrender at Yorktown. From a child 
he was familiar with these heroic traditions, for at his 
father's fireside he heard stories of the camp and the 
field. Nor were such things altogether of the past, for 
now and then, like distant thunder, came the sound of 
wars and revolutions beyond the sea. 

With all this, there was an intellectual life in New 
England at the close of the last century and the begin- 
ning of this, perhaps as great as at the present day. In 
every town there were men of education and learning. 
Yale College exerted a powerful influence in Connecti- 
cut, as Harvard did in Massachusetts. It raised up a 


body of educated men — ministers, physicians, lawyers, 
and judges — who were sca,ttered through the State, 
filhng positions of influence, and forming an educated 
class. The town of Guilford had as its minister Rev. 
John Elliott, a man of high classical attainments, whose 
discourses — a few of which are still preserved — show 
him to have possessed uncommon ability and eloquence. 

Like his older brother, this son of Captain Field chose 
the profession of the ministry, for which indeed he had 
such a natural taste, as might be interpreted as a Divine 
call. A schoolmate used afterwards to relate how, 
when boys, they would go off into the woods, where 
"David" would mount a rock, and "preach" at him 
as l^ng as his youthful listener would hear. As he 
walked on the sea-shore, he shouted to the waves, which 
seemed like answering voices, as they came rolling up 
the beach. The late Dr. John Todd, who spent a part 
of his early life in Madison, said : "In my boyhood I 
used to hear about ' Mr. Field,' the young man who had 
gone to college. I walked on the hard sands of the 
beach where he had walked, I stood on the same fishing- 
rocks on which he had stood, and I listened to the same 
surf -roar of the sea to which he had listened." 

Bent on an education, he applied to his minister, who 
had the pleasure of a scholar in reviewing his old studies, 
and fitted him for college along with two of his class- 
mates, Erastus Scranton and Jeremiah Evarts, the 
father of William M. Evarts, the late Secretary of 


State. They entered Yale together m 1798. Field and 
Evarts were room-mates durmg their college course, 
and always entertained for each other the warmest 
affection. The class of 1803 numbered among its mem- 
bers others whose names became honorably distinguished 
in after life — Isaac C. Bates, Senator from Massachu- 
setts ; Judge Hubbard of Boston, William Maxwell of 
Virginia, Governors Tomlinson and Pond of Connecti- 
cut, Junius Smith, who has been called the father of 
ocean steam navigation, and Pelatiah Perit, an eminent 
merchant of New York. But perhaps the best that 
Yale College gave to its students then, came from the 
personal influence of President Dwight, a man of such 
noble presence, combined with such intellect and such 
eloquence, as gave him a great ascendancy over the 
minds of his pupils, who looked up to him as a king of 
men. No one felt his influence more than Field, and 
the impression remained to the end of his life. While 
in college, and for some time after, the intervals of 
study were occupied in teaching school, by which he 
obtained means to complete his education. - 

Graduating with high honors in 1802, he had next to 
prepare for his profession. • At that time there were no 
theological seminaries in the country, and students of 
divinity pursued a course of study with some eminent 
minister. Among these was Dr. Charles Backus of 
Somers, to whom the young graduate went, and found 
something better than theology in his future wife, a 


young lady who bore the name of Dickinson, the daugh- 
ter of Captain Noah Dickinson, who had served as an 
ofl&cer under General Putnam in the old French war, 
and afterwards was in the army in the war of the 
Revolution, and at the return of peace settled down 
to the quiet life of a farmer. One who knew him only 
in the last years of his life describes him as a man of 
commanding appearance, nearly, if not quite, six feet 
high, with an intellectual head and face, that made 
him a fine type of "the gentleman of the Old School." 
The daughter of this old soldier was long remem- 
bered by those who knew her in her youth as having 
great personal beauty, a light graceful figure, and a 
very animated countenance. It was the fashion of 
those times to give to daughters the names of the 
Christian graces, which of course they were expected to 
exemplify, such as Faith, Hope, Patience, and Charity. 
One of her sisters was named Love, and upon this 
daughter of the Puritans was bestowed the meek name 
of Submit. In after years her children sometimes play- 
fully told her that the appellation was not the most 
appropriate, since she had a due share (but not a whit 
too much) of true womanly spirit. As she was born on 
the first day of October, 1782, she had but just reached 
the age of twenty-one when she was married in 1803. 
And truly, if a good wife is from the Lord, no one ever 
had more reason to recognize a special Providence in the 
gift than this young minister. From that day she was 


for nearly fifty-eight years the hght and joy of his 
home. Whoever in all those years shared her hospi- 
tahty, "vvill not forget what brightness and sunshine she 
shed around her. Whatever of success or prosperity 
has attended the family, has been due in a great measure 
to her unselfish spirit, which made every sacrifice for the 
education of her children — to her perpetual buoyancy of 
temper, to her womanly patience, courage, and hope. 

These are tender memories that stand out in touch- 
ing relief against the dark background of those early 
times of struggle and of war, while the figures of 
grandsires who perilled their lives for their country is 
not only a matter of pride for the past, but an inspira- 
tion for the future. Nobody felt this more than the 
Law-Reformer, whose life was one long battle. In the 
days when he had to stand almost alone against a host 
of opponents, he was always able to strengthen his 
courage by remembering that he had the blood of these 
old soldiers in his veins. 



It is hard to transport ourselves back nearly a hun- 
dred years, so as to enter into the life in New England 
at the beginning of this century. It was very primitive 
as compared with the life of to-day. There were no 
railroads and no steamboats. Locomotion was slow 
and difficult. If a country minister wished to visit his 
brother in the next town to discusss the hard points 
of Calvinism, he could not be whirled to the spot in 
an electric car, but had to jog over the hills in his 
" one-hoss shay." But after all the slower gait fur- 
nished the more time to think and ' ' ruminate " by the 
way, and many a minister has preached a sermon to 
his horse before he preached it to his people. Perhaps 
there was as much general intelligence, as much true 
manhness and womanliness, and as much real happi- 
ness, in those simple daj^s of our fathers as in these 
eager and rushing days of ours. Happiness belongs to 
no place or time. Love brings heaven down to earth, 
and makes all things new, and no painter or poet could 


have pictured a sweeter idyll than that of the home- 
coming of the young minister with his young bride, as 
they rode over the hills that autumn day, when the 
woods were aflame with purple and gold, and down the 
valley of the Connecticut to the village that was to be 
their home for many years to come. Every step of the 
way brought him nearer to the home of his childhood, to 
the place where he was born, and to the College where 
he was educated. What a joy it would be to drive 
down to the seaside, where he used to walk upon the 
beach, or to the City of Elms, to meet his old classmates 
on Commencement day, when they would exchange their 
experiences, their hopes and fears, as they ventured out 
upon the scenes of active life. Apart from these imag- 
ings the new parish might not have seemed quite so 
inviting, for Haddam is a rough and rocky town, its 
chief source of wealth being its quarries of granite. 
Nor was there any beauty in the long, straggling vil- 
lage. The old meeting house was a huge barn-like 
structure, which answered not only for a place of wor- 
ship, but for town meetings, and now and then for the 
court, if some poor wretch was to be tried for murder, 
when the eagerness "to be in at the death " was such 
that no other roof could cover the multitude. But after 
all nature had been kindly to the old town, which was 
framed in between the rocky hills and the majestic river 
that wound its way among them on its course to the sea. 
The parsonage was not after the pattern of an Eng- 


lish rectory, with its Gothic doors and windows cov- 
ered with vines, nor of any modern architecture. No 
Quaker dwelhng could be plainer than the two-story 
frame house, that stood so close upon the street as to 
leave but a few feet for a bit of green grass. Nor was 
the salary oppressive. If he was not, like the preacher 
in Goldsmith's Deserted Village, ' ' passing rich on forty 
pounds a year, " his stipend amounted to but httle more, 
though nominally it was more than twice as much — a 
hundred pounds, or five hundred dollars ! This was 
riches indeed had it all been paid in money, but in those 
days there was very little money in the country. There 
was no question between gold and silver as legal tender, 
for it was not often that the people saw the glitter of 
either coin, and those who could not pay in cash paid 
"in kind." A farmer brought a load of wood, and 
received credit for so much toward the minister's sal- 
ary. * I have heard him say that in all these years he 
never had at one time so much as a hundred dollars ! 
But what cared the young minister and his wife so long 
as they had health, and heart, and hope ? If their 
dwelling was plain without, it was bright within, as 
the young mistress filled it with the sunshine of her 
presence ; and never was it so warm and bright as on 

* When Jonathan Edwards was settled in Stockbridge in 1750, the town 
voted him a salary of six pounds, thirteen shillings and fourpence, law- 
ful money, and a hundred sleigh-loads of fire-wood— of which twenty 
were furnished by the white settlers and eighty by the Indians 1 


a winter daj^, February 13tli, 1805, when they welcomed 
into the world their first-born son, to whom they gave 
his father's name of David Dudley Field. 

Hardly was the little creature out of his cradle before 
he began to show signs of a wall of his own. An old 
dame who was employed in the family, and in after 
years used to boast that she had administered to him 
necessary domestic discipline, gave as a reason for it 
that "he was a most determined little fellow." She 
found it hard to break his will. In this the child was 
father of the man. Many found the same difficulty in 
the later stages of his career. 

A boy so full of life could not but be fond of sports, 
though under a little restraint, as he was the min- 
ister's son ! But outdoor exercise of any kind exhil- 
arated him, whether it was skating on the ice-bound 
river, or being whirled at full speed over the crisp and 
glittering snow. 

Still keener was the enjoyment to sit on a winter 
night before a blazing fire, and hear old men tell tales 
of old times ! Their next-door neighbor had been a sea- 
faring man. On a winter evening he and his boys were 
commonly occupied in knitting nets for the shad fishery. 
Then was the time for the old seaman's yarns, to which 
young David would hsten with infinite delight. 

As soon as he was old enough he had been sent to 
school. But from all his schooling he gathered only 
the rudiments of knowledge, for while he was still a 


mere boy, his father took him in hand, to teach him 
sometliing better than learning by rote, to think for 
himself, as he would study out his sums in arithmetic. 
If in after years he showed a remarkable power of rea- 
soning, he owed it largely to the mental discipline that 
he had in liis father's study. 

Then came a passion for reading. But where to find 
the books ! In those days there were no circulating 
libraries. Indeed there was not a library of any kind 
in the town except his father's, and that was composed 
chiefly of books of divinity ! "Of tales and romances 
there were none ; of the English classics little ; and of 
poetry just three books — Milton's Paradise Lost, Young's 
Night Thoughts, and Watts' Psalms and Hymns ! " 
The Night Thoughts suggested doleful meditations, and 
Watts' Psalms and Hymns were meant to be sung, 
and as he was not a singer, he would not presume to 
devote himself to them ; but the sonorous lines of Milton 
caught his ear. He committed pages of them to mem- 
ory, and was constantly repeating them to himself as 
he was wandering about among the rocks and hills. 

With this love of poetry and of nature, nothing 
so captivated him as the broad bosom of the Con- 
necticut, divided by a long and narrow island, which he 
in his youthful enthusiasm thought ' ' one of the prettiest 
spots in the world." Of all things in nature that speak 
not and hear not, there is not one that can become 
so real a companion as a river. Soft and still may 


be its flow, yet in its gentle murmurs it whispers to 
the heart, if it does not speak loudly, while it lulls the 
too sensitive nature. It is not a dead thing, like yon- 
der cliffs of granite, that change not with the pass- 
ing centuries. It is alive, and the very image and 
reflection of our own life, as it is ever in motion and 
always in one direction, never turning back, but flow- 
ing on and on, forever and forever ! Those who in 
after years were accustomed to see the great advocate 
at the bar, in the contests of professional life, could 
not imagine how fuU his mind was of poetry and of the 
love of nature. But those who knew him intimately 
can see him in his boyhood, sitting for hours at the 
window of his father's house, or in the summer time on 
the grassy slope, or under the trees, in that silent com- 
munion ^vith nature, which to him was one of the most 
exquisite dehghts to the last hour of his life. 

And now, as he looks at the river, there go the ships ! 
Even in those early days there was a considerable 
inland commerce on the Connecticut as on the Hudson. 
Sloops and schooners went down the river, bound to 
New York, or it might be to the West Indies, and now 
and then came a full-rigged ship, ^vith broad wings 
outspread to fly across the sea ! AU this excited the 
boy's imagination, till he was seized with a passion for 
the life that thus passed before him, and went to his 
father and begged him to let him go to sea ! — a passion 
that grew stronger when there was a prospect of some- 


thing more exciting than a seaman's hfe, however full 
it might be of novelty and adventure, as all along the 
coast was heard the sound of war, for among the recol- 
lections of his boyhood, he recalled distinctly the break- 
ing out of the war of 1812. Once, talking of the old 
times, he said : "I remember when a boy seven years 
of age, as I was riding with father over the hills to 
Killingworth, a man met us on the road, and told us 
that war was declared with England ! My father was 
startled by the news. The country had been expecting 
it, and yet it caused a shock when it came. It was a 
strange coincidence, that at that moment there came 
up a thunder storm. The sky grew black, the light- 
nings flashed, and the thunder rolled from one end of 
the heavens to the other, as if the elements were in 
sympathy with the storm of war that was to burst 
upon the country. I remember two privateers going 
down the Connecticut river ; and once at New Haven 
I saw English ships-of-war sailing up the Sound. I 
remember also a playmate running up the liill behind 
the village to tell us the great news that Bonaparte had 
been beaten at Waterloo." 

Life in a country village in those days was not very 
eventful. There was not even the sensation of evil, as 
it was a very peaceable community, where every man 
dwelt in safety, with none to molest or make him afraid. 
The farmers did not lock their doors at night, for there 
was nothing to tempt a thief or a robber. The very 


infrequency of crime made it more startling when it 
came, an illustration of which may show the gravity 
and the solemnity with which the people of New Eng- 
land administered justice as under the authority, not 
only of the State, but of God, who had commanded 
that they should not bear the sword in vain. 

In 1815 a man by the name of Peter Lung, living 
in Middletown, of violent temper, and maddened by 
intoxication, murdered his wife. He was arrested, and 
taken to Haddam, the county seat, and confined in jail. 
When the time for trial came, such was the excitement 
of the people, and the eagerness to witness it, that the 
court house did not suffice, and the trial was transferred 
to the meeting house, whose wide floor and deep gal- 
leries held a crowd, that looked on the scene with awe 
and wonder. The venerable Judge Trumbull presided, 
taking his seat in front of the pulpit, in his ruffled shirt 
sleeves and bosom, and his short-clothes. The trial was 
conducted with due deliberation, but the case was .clear, 
and could have but one issue. 

After receiving sentence the prisoner was taken back 
to liis place of confinement, where the village pastor was 
constant in his ministrations till the day of his execu- 
tion, which was to be accompanied by a service such 
as we know not if it could be found anywhere else in 
Christendom, though it once existed in Scotland, and 
is described by Scott in The Heart of Midlothian. It 
was that a sermon should be preached at the execution : 


and this not only to the spectators of the scene, that 
they might profit by the lesson which it conveyed, but 
in presence of the condemned, who was brought into 
the church, and sat in the aisle in front of the pulpit, 
and whom the preacher addressed in person. As the 
prisoner had become attached to his spiritual adviser, 
he desired him to be with him on Ins last day, to 
strengthen him for the moment that he was to suffer, 
and to preach the sermon ! The execution took place 
in Middletown, and drew an immense concourse of 
people from all the surrounding country. Mr. Field 
took with him his son, but ten years old, whose eyes 
were ready to burst when the soldiers brought in the 
prisoner, and fifty years after he said : "I can see 
them now, and hear the clang as they grounded their 
arms ! " The sermon, as was fitting in view of the cause 
of the crime, was a warning against drunkenness, from 
Luke xxi. 34 : " Take heed to yourselves, lest at any 
time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and 
drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day 
come upon you unawares ; " from which the preacher 
denounced that which is the cause of so many acts of vio- 
lence and blood. As he drew near the close, he turned 
to the unhappy man before him, who rose and stood (as 
he had done when receiving sentence from the judge), 
to hear these last words before he was launched into 
eternity. The preacher then addressed him as follows : 
' ' Peter Lung : By your confessions, intemperate 


drinking has been the cause of the calamities which 
have come upon you. This inflamed your passions, 
naturally \aolent and impetuous; filled your tongue 
with prof aneness and threatening, and your hands with 
frequent acts of violence, even upon her who was the 
wife of your covenant. In a fit of intoxication you 
inflicted upon her wounds, marks of which she carried 
to the grave. What you have done, as it has been 
judged by the proper tribunals, subjects you to an 
ignominious execution. From this there is no escape. 
But men who forfeit their fives to the laws of their 
country, may upon repentance receive a pardon from 
God. During your long confinement, as your life has 
drawn nigh unto the grave ; as you have been counted 
with them that go down into the pit; have you cried 
day and night before God ? . , Pray God to search 
your heart, to see if there be any wicked way in you, 
and to lead you in the way everlasting. Whatever you 
do, you must do speedily : for this day thou shalt die. 
Before yonder sun shall set in the west, your proba- 
tionary state will be closed forever. If in any doubt 
about your preparation, you may yet find mercy. He 
who pardoned the penitent thief on the cross, may 
pardon you in the place of execution. Pray God, then, 
if perhaps your sins may be forgiven you. Cry to Him, 
God be merciful to me, a sinner ! and continue those 
cries till death shall remove you hence. May the 
Lord Almighty support you in the trjHng scene before 


you, and through infinite grace have mercy on your 
soul ! " 

When this solemn service was over, the mourn- 
ful procession took up its line of march, the soldiers 
leading the way to the place of execution. Young 
David, who followed in the throng, remembered how 
the wretched man, dressed in a long white robe, that 
was to be his winding-sheet, stood upon the scaffold, 
which was guarded by a body of troopers, who closed 
up around it, and cut the fatal cord with their swords. 
When this last act was over, all turned away, and as 
the people from the country round rode back over the 
hills, they talked together of a scene the like of which, 
at least in the feature here described, has perhaps not 
since been witnessed in New England. 

While these years passed on, the parsonage was 
being filled with a little group of children. Seven were 
born in Haddam, of whom one died in infancy, and 
six were living, with ages from two to thirteen j-ears. 
There were so many little mouths to be fed, little bodies 
to be clothed, and the older ones to be sent to school. 
How this problem was solved, is the secret of the mys- 
terious power that lies in a woman's heart and hand. 
With a salary of five hundred dollars, and six children, 
there was no time for idleness. In those days there 
were no Irish servants, and indeed hardly servants of 
any kind, except a few colored people kept in old fami- 
lies. Almost every woman in the country did her own 


work with such "help" as she could now and then 
find from the assistance of a farmer's daughter. Yet 
such tasks did not daunt this gentle mother with her 
delicate and slender frame. She did not count it hard- 
ship or self-denial, for the passion of her life was 
devotion to her husband and her children, and she 
moved about the house with a light step, singing as she 
went. All day long was the parsonage kept alive by 
her busy hands and feet. But now she was to be left 
alone for five months together, which was their first, 
and — except a visit to Europe thirty years later — their 
last separation. 

This was an episode in his ministerial life that at 
once separated and linked together his two places of 
settlement. The people of New England had begun to 
wake up to the idea of the Great West, which then 
included Western New York, a large part of which was 
still covered by the primeval forest. He read about the 
emigrants from Connecticut and Massachusetts going 
out into the wilderness. Why should he not go and 
preach to them ? He was just in his prime, but thirty- 
seven years old ! Who could endure hardship better 
than he ? Whereupon he resigned his quiet parish on 
the river side, and accepted an appointment under the 
old Missionary Society of Connecticut, to the new settle- 
ments on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and on 
the banks of the Oswego River. The country was then 
a wilderness, through which he rode on horseback, 


preaching in log-houses and under the shade of trees. 
This frontier had been the scene of constant fighting 
during the then recent war, and as he rode along he 
visited several of the fields of battle. Buffalo had been 
burnt by the British, and was still bvit a small strag- 
gling village, in which there was not a single church, 
and he preached in the court house ! 

This absence continued for five months, during which 
the young mother was left alone with her little flock, to 
watch over them, and keep them safely within the fold. 
In after years she often told us of the anxieties of those 
days : how at night, when the little ones were in their 
nests, she would go round the house to see that all was 
quiet, and then lie down and sleep beside her children, 
feeling that they were safe under the eye of God. 

During this period she had a great comfort in her 
oldest boy, who, though he was but thirteen years of 
age, at once took in the situation, and felt that a certain 
responsibility rested upon him to be in the place of the 
absent father, as the protector of his young mother, and 
of his only sister, and the four little boys, the youngest 
of whom was but just out of his cradle. This feeling 
of an older brother, as being the natural guardian of 
the younger, remained through life : a care that was 
rewarded in after years, when he lived to see the young- 
est of those little brothers, and a son of that sister, 
meet on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United 


But at last the father was coming home ! On his 
return he passed through Stockbridge, Mass., where 
the old minister, Dr. Stephen West, past his eightieth 
year, was no longer able to preach, and Mr. Field was 
asked to supply the pulpit for several weeks, and soon 
after was called to be the pastor, and settled the follow- 
ing year, August 25, 1819, then beginning a ministry 
that was to continue nearly eighteen years. 

The removal was no small affair. Teams were sent 
to Connecticut to bring the furniture — a week's journey 
to go and return. There were beds and bureaus, tables 
and chairs, and most weighty of all, boxes piled with 
books, for the minister had accumulated a large hbrary. 
Nearly fifty years after, the subject of this biography 
and the writer of it, both of whom lived in New York, 
had their summer homes in Stockbridge, and took their 
exercise on horseback together. One morning as thej^ 
were riding over the hills, they passed bv a farmer's 
door, who told them that he had in his possession one 
of the teamster's waggons that had done service in this 
memorable exodus, and they rode into the yard to see 
it. There it was, looking like an old army waggon, 
that had been through the wars. It required but little 
imagination to picture it piled with aU the treasures 
of the household, while on the top, riding high in air, 
were perched half a dozen children ; and thus bearing 
"Cfesar and his fortunes," it rumbled over the moun- 
tains to the new home among; the Berksliire Hills. 



The removal of the family to Stockbridge was an 
event to all concerned, and a turnhig-point m their his- 
tory. It is with men as with trees, that the best of 
them inay be improved by transplanting. True, the 
Housatonic was not as large as the Connecticut, but it 
has a beauty all its own as it winds its way through 
the Berksliire Hills. At this point the valley widens, 
stretching away in meadows, that rise gently into hills 
covered with forests, till the horizon is shut in by an 
amphitheatre of mountains. The village is on a plateau 
near the river, and is laid out in one long street, arched 
with elms, underneath which were the residences of 
families some of which bore the names, as they retained 
the manners, of the old Colonial aristocracy. 

The town had a history, which, if not more notable 
than that of many other New England towns, gave it 
a local distinction. The fertility of the valley had 
attracted a tribe of Indians, who gave their name of 
Housatonic to the river, and it Avas to plant a mission 


among them that the first white men came from East- 
ern Massachusetts. What John Eliot had been a hun- 
dred years before, John Sergeant was now, an apostle to 
the Indians, by whom he was so beloved that when he 
was laid to rest, they wished to be buried beside liim 
that they might rise with him in the resurrection. 
After him appeared the stately form of Jonathan 
Edwards, who found the quiet of the wilderness a fit 
seclusion in which to revolve the ever vexed questions of 

"Fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute." 

Then came one who was pastor of the church for sixtj- 
years, that spanned the whole period from the time of 
the old French war through the Revolution and the sec- 
ond war mth Great Britain. This Was Stephen West, 
who, though a man of small stature, was full of patri- 
otic fire, as he showed when the tidings came of the 
battle of Lexington, and the minute men were mustered 
on the village green, and he addressed them, telling 
them to do their duty to God and their country ! He 
lived to a good old age, and was always a notable figure 
in the town when he Avalked abroad arrayed in his three- 
cornered hat, his silver knee buckles, and his gold- 
headed cane, and all stood aside and uncovered their 
heads with a deference that is too much forgotten in 
these democratic, not to say degenerate, days. 

In the Hne of this apostolic succession came the 
new minister in the autumn of 1819. Among the spe- 


cial attractions for the young student was an excellent 
Academy under the instruction of a famous teacher, 
Mr. Jared Curtis, who had a reputation for turning out 
thorough scholars. - And what was even more impor- 
tant than the ' ' head-master, " he met here for the first 
time three young men of similar tastes, with whom he 
formed an intimacy that ripened into the closest friend- 
ship, that continued to the end of their hves. These 
were the brothers Mark and Albert HojDkins, the first 
of whom afterwards became the President of Wilhams 
College, and the other Professor of Astronomy ; while 
the third was John Morgan, who became a Professor at 
Oberlin, Ohio, where his name is held in honor, as are 
the two others in the heart of every man who has been 
a student at Williams within the past generation.* - 

From the Academy the next step was to the College. 
Had his father continued to reside in Connecticut, the 
son would have gone, as his father did, to Yale. But 
Western Massachusetts had a College of its own, which 
bore the name of a gallant soldier. Colonel Ephraim 
Williams, who went from Stockbridge, and fell in the 
old French war. And so to Williams he went with the 
other students from Stockbridge. Those were among the 

* Mr. Field survived them all. It was while he was in Europe, in 
the summer of 1887, that President Hopkins died; but on Ms return he 
prepared, at the request of the Trustees of the College, a fitting tribute to 
the memory of his life-long friend. It was delivered at the following 
Commencement, and is published in Volume III of his Miscellaneous 


happiest days of his life. He loved study, and the harder 
the subject the more he loved it for the very fact that 
it taxed his intellectual ability. No matter what the 
study was, Latin or Greek, or the problems of geom- 
etry, he attacked them all with a fierce determination. 
In those days scientific explorers in Europe and America 
were beginning to make their discoveries, and his eager 
mind was greatly excited by the mysteries which they 
revealed. Long years after he said : "I remember, as 
of yesterday, my feeling at my first lesson in chemistry. 
The world had changed. Instead of a cold, inanimate 
nature, I saw that everytliing was alive. The trees 
seemed nodding to me as I passed ; the air whispered in 
my ears ; every blade of grass, every green leaf, opened 
its wonderful structure. The ground moved beneath 
my feet; the rain, the light, and the clouds brought 
messages ; and even the solid rocks stood full of affini- 
ties, ready to dissolve and form again in new combi- 
nations of their elements." But what fascinated him 
more than aU was the starry heavens, even though it 
was before the modest Observatory had arisen, with 
its dome and its telescope. It was his interest in this 
study, together with his personal regard for Albert 
Hopkins, which led him in after years to give $25,000 
to endow the professorship of astronomy. 

How he ranked as a scholar compared with his class- 
mates, I cannot speak from personal knowledge, as I 
did not enter College for many years after : but even 


then there was a tradition of a race of giants that had 
gone before us: among whom stood the four Stock- 
bridge boys. I heard a great deal about them from an 
" Old Mortahty, " the "Professor of Dust and Ashes," 
who was the collector and purveyor of all the Col- 
lege gossip, and as such the most copious, if not the 
most credible, chronicler of his time. He used to say 
to me, perhaps to exalt my family pride, " They all said 
that Field was the best scholar that they had had in the 
College in ten years ! " 

And yet, though his standing was so high, he did 
not graduate. ' ' The reason why I cannot tell. " Some- 
thing had given offence to the President, Dr. Griffin, 
who was somewhat tenacious of his dignity, and so the 
young man left the College a year before the end of his 
course, without waiting for the valedictory, that his class- 
mates said was sure to be his. But whatever the petty 
irritation, it was soon after removed, and from that time 
to the hour of his death, Williams College had no more 
loyal son than he. The very ground on which it stood 
was sacred. How he loved tliis " Mother," he showed 
by coming back almost every year to the old home, to 
meet his classmates, the companions of other days, and 
recall their common associations. At the Commence- 
ment in 1875 — fifty years after the graduation of Ms 
class — he delivered the Address before the Literary 
Societies, in which he christened Ms Alma Mater 


"Williams the Beautiful." A few passages wiU show 
the spirit of the whole : 

"We, who have returned to this beloved teacher of our youth, 
have come to recall and commemorate the past. We are think- 
ing less of the new than of the old. We lay aside for the day 
whatever thoughts of the busy world outside might disturb the 
place or the time, while we revisit the scenes of college life, call 
up again the memories of those early years, take one another 
by the hand, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's 
voices, and rekindle sympathies dormant or forgotten. How- 
ever long or short be the time since we went forth from the 
gates of this valley, however divergent our paths of life, we 
stand here as brethren. The youngest among us is the comrade 
of the oldest, as the recruit of to-day in a regiment that bears 
upon its colors the names of a hundred fights, looks upon the 
veteran as his comrade, and himself as one of a line of soldiers, 
inheritor and partaker of their fame. Here as there the files 
are continuous despite the changes in the ranks. Once a year 
we have our muster, and though each roll-call, like that of the 
morning after battle, bears many a name to which there is no 
answer, our lines, however thinned, are never broken. 

"The sight of these faces, of these old roofs and halls, of these 
meadows and streams, and of these encircling hills, so quickens 
the inward sense that it sees forms that have vanished and hears 
voices that are silent forever. I behold my classmates as I 
beheld them then filing into the chapel, or gathered at recita- 
tions, or sauntering along the walks, or resting beneath the 
trees. I naark their gait; I hear their earnest debate, their 
hearty laugh, and I recall the strifes, the friendships, the greet- 
ings and the partings of those far-off days. I look into the sky 
— it is the sky of my boyhood ; the stars clear and silent shine 
upon me as they shone fifty years ago. 


"We came as boys; we studied and contended with one 
another. No doubt of the future gave us disquietude. The 
hereafter was the land of promise, bright with the dew of morn- 
ing. The collegian is a dreamer, and, for the most part, a 
dreaming boy. He comes full of energy, incited by hope. He 
lays his hand upon the book of knowledge and opens it. What 
a revelation ! The curtain is lifted and a new world is spread 
before him. He finds in every lesson something new ; the past 
opens its treasures and Natiire reveals herself ; the rocks become 
histories ; the clods grow instinct with life ; the streams pouring 
froni the hills have something to tell. 

"Was it not a great thing for us that, while we were shut 
from the outer world by these mountain barriers, we were shut 
within this valley ? I shall never cease to congratulate myself 
that my sense of beauty was trained within the circle of these 
mountains ; that the morning liglit gilded for my eyes the sides 
of Greylock ; that I saw the sun at noon standing over this end- 
less variety of wood, meadow, and stream; that the evening 
twilight heightened while it softened the beauty of noon ; and 
that when I looked from my window into the moonlight, it lay 
like a transparent celestial robe upon the sleeping valley and 
the watchful hills. 

"So we passed our days. We formed a little community by 
ourselves. Our cares were few, our hopes many, and our friend- 
ships eternal. Factitious distinctions take no root in college 
ground. Nowhere else is character more truly measured; 
nowhere more than here is a sham found out. The words 
' college-mate, class-mate, room-mate ' signify a great deal 
beyond ordinary fellowship. Two students sitting under the 
trees at evening, or walking in the moonlight, confide to each 
other their inmost thoughts. Tlie heart is too fresh to doubt, too 
young to betray. 


"College life, though short reckoned by years, is long reck- 
oned by impressions. These impressions are as ineradicable as 
the heart, whose pulsations begin and end with life. Go where 
you will — take the wings of morning and seek the uttermost 
parts of the earth ; lose yourself in African jimgles or South Sea 
islands — the memories of college days will go and abide with 
you. I have strolled along the Meles with a college-mate, and 
while we talked of Homer, who sang upon its banks, and of 
many other things, new and old, oiu- thoughts reverted to the 
walks along the Hoosac, and we laughed as boys laugh over 
college anecdotes. I have stood on the slopes of Lebanon* by 
the side of an American missionary, and as we looked over the 
sea into the West, our thoughts outran our sight, and lighted on 
'Williams the Beautiful,' its historic Haystack and its Mission 

This feeling continued as long as he lived. Seldom 
did a Commencement pass that, if he was this side the 
Atlantic, he did not return to the old beloved spot, which 
had to him a peculiar fascination. The mountains about 
it were like the mountains roundabout Jerusalem to the 
pious Jew. Every walk along the riverside or among 
the hills had its associations, so that he went about as in 
a happy dream, recalling times long past, with lo\'ing 
memories of the living and the d^ad. On the College 
grounds no figure was more familiar than liis, nor in 
the meetings of the Alumni, where he will long be 
remembered with sorrow that they shall see his face 
no more. 





The young student had now come to the parting of 
the ways. He had finished his College course, and was 
to choose his profession. On that depended his futvire. 
The character of his mind, his habit of questioning, and 
his ardor in debate — -what some would call his combat- 
iveness — drew him to the profession in which there were 
great battles to be fought and victories to be won, and 
he decided in favor of the law. 

But where and how was he to get his education? 
There were no law schools in those days, and a student 
was fortunate who was so favored as to have a chair in the 
office of some lawyer of repute, where, in the intervals 
of such services as he could render, he had the freedom 
of the meagre library, from which, as well as from 
observing the practice in the courts, he could pick up 
the rudiments of his profession. 

Such an opportunity came to him through a family 
resident in Stockbridge, but that might have been said 


to belong to the country, that of Judge Sedgwick, a 
veteran of Revohitionary times : who had been a mem- 
ber of the old Continental Congress; and, after the 
adoption of the Constitution, a member of the House of 
Representatives; from which Washington invited him 
to enter his Cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury ; but 
who seems to have felt himself more at home in Con- 
gress, where he served in both houses, being three years 
in the Senate, and again in the House, where he was 
Speaker of the Sixth Congress. After these long years 
of service to his country, he retired from political life, 
and returned to the law as Judge of the Supreme Court 
of Massachusetts. When he passed off the stage he left 
three sons as the inheritors of his profession, as well as 
of his honored name. The eldest of these, Mr. Theodore 
Sedgwick, had long practised law in Albany, where he 
was the contemporary and friend of Martin Van Buren 
and of others second only to him. On retiring from 
practice he returned to Stockbridge and lived in the old 
ancestral home. But his former partner, a gentleman 
of Dutch descent, Mr. Harmanus Bleecker, still contin- 
ued in Albany, to whom he gave Mr. Field an intro- 
duction, that at once opened his door to the new can- 
didate for the bar. '' 

The day was fixed for his departure. His mother's 
heart was very full, and yet with the courage that is 
combined with the tenderness of woman, she would 
have bid him go, if duty called him, like the Roman 


mother, if it were to return upon his sliield ! His father 
always found strength for any crisis in his rehgious 
faith, and taking his son into his study, he knelt down 
and commended his first-born son to the protection of 
Almighty God, and then gave him for his only capital, 
ten dollars and a little Bible, which he kept to his dying 
day. Thus he went forth from under the paternal roof 
with ten dollars, a Bible, and his father's prayers ! As 
they came out of the door, the old-fashioned stage- 
coach rolled up and took liim awa3^ His home was 
behind him and the world was before him ! 

It was a long drive across the countr}', and the day 
was far spent when he came in sight of Albany, and 
crossing the river in a ferryboat, walked up the hill 
that was crowned by the Capitol in which he was in 
the future to make so many arguments before Courts 
and Legislatures. If "the heart of the stranger " was 
at first very lonelj', the feeling was soon removed by 
the kindness of Mr. Bleecker, who, with true Dutch 
cordiality, made him welcome, not only to his office, but 
to his home, so that he wrote to his father : ' ' My situa- 
tion is quite pleasant. Mr. Bleecker is very pohte and 
very kind. I have every facility for study wliich I can 
wish, and I endeavor to improve them. I feel in good 
spirits. Stockbridge is indeed pleasanter, but when 
our situation is not the best, it may be the next to it " 
— a bit of practical philosophy, to make the best of 
everything, that he carried through life. 


It was not long before he began to feel at home 
in the dear old Dutch city, for which he had a kindly 
feeling ever after ; but still his thoughts would turn 
to New York as offering a larger field for his activ- 
ity. And then what prizes there were in the line of his 
profession ! He knew of a young man ^v^ho realized 
from it five hundred dollars a year ! ' ' Could he ever 
attain to such greatness as that ! " 

Here again the way was o^Dened for him by the 
Sedgwicks, for while the eldest of the family had been 
in the practice of law at Albany, his two brothers, 
Henry and Robert, were in the front rank of their 
profession in New York, and showed the same readi- 
ness to forward the interests of one who came from dear 
old Stockbridge, who, thus invited, transferred his place 
of study to the city that was to be his home for more 
than sixty years. 

V, While referring to this act of kindness, I cannot 
refrain from mentioning another instance of the same 
wliich was told me by the person concerned, the late 
William C. Bryant, who, like Mr. Field, had studied at 
Williams College, and afterwards entered on the prac- 
tice of law in Great Barrington. But as the shy tem- 
perament of the poet did not promise great success 
at the bar, Mr. Henry D. Sedg-wick invited hun to 
come to New York, with the kind assurance that he 
' ' would see what he could do for him, " and showed his 
friendship by introducing him to literary occupation 


that ended in his connection with the Evening Post, 
which brought both fame and fortune, an obhgation 
that he was always ready to acknowledge, even when 
he had risen to such eminence that there was no man 
in all the city who was held in higher respect. Mr. 
Bryant and Mr. Field came to New York about the 
same time, and boarded in the same house, and thus 
began an intimacy and friendship which continued 
through life. -^ 

The change to New York was altogether to his taste, 
as he was more in the current of life, with everything 
to stimulate his ardor in his profession. His first busi- 
ness was to make himself master of the law, to which 
he applied his mind with such intensity as excluded 
everything beside. Day and night he thought of noth- 
ing else. By this devotion he so approved himself to 
the Messrs. Sedgwick, that when the elder brother, 
Henry, was obliged by ill health to retire from practice, 
the younger, Robert, invited Mr. Field to become his 
partner, a promotion which not only gratified his youth- 
ful ambition, but enabled him to take another step that 
was needed to complete his happiness. In the year 1829 
(October 26th), when he was but twenty-four years old, 
he was married to Jane Lucinda Hopkins, a cousin of 
Mark Hopkins, who united such grace of person with 
such refinement of manner, so much sweetness with so 
much character, that he was the happiest of men in the 
thought that he should always have that gentle figure 


at his side ; and when a year later he took in his arms 
his first-born, a son, it seemed as if there was notliing 
more that he could ask of God. And yet there was one 
thing more — a daughter, as a companion to the little 
brother, which was also his three years later. 

But all this brightness was too much to last. After 
but little more than six years, the bride of his youth 
was taken from him, to be followed a few months later 
by a last child, not a year old, who, even in the grave, 
was laid to sleep on her mother's breast. Thus in a 
few months all of joy that the world had given hun, 
had vanished out of sight, and sick of heart, he left — 
not his home, for home he had none — but his city and 
his country, and crossed the sea. 

In after years Mr. Field repeated the voyage so often 
that Europe became almost as familiar to him as his 
own country. And yet there is never but one first 
view, when all impressions are fresh and new. A few 
dates recall his first glimpses of England and the Con- 
tinent : 

" On the 3d of May, 1836, I took passage in the packet West- 
minster for London. There were no steamers on the Atlantic in 
those days. Among the passengers were Horace Binney, Pro- 
fessor Hare, and John Hare Powell. On the 28th of May we 
arrived off the coast of Cornwall where the ship was becalmed, 
and most of the passengers, inchiding myself, went ashore at 
Falmouth. The beauty of England at that season was enchant- 
ing. The hawthorn hedges were in blossom. I took the mail 
coach for Exeter, and from there posted to Bath, and from Bath 


rode on the outside of a coach, the most delightful way of seeing 
the country, to London. I remember well my sensations at see- 
ing Windsor Castle, with the royal standard flying, as we drove 
past in the valley below. The sights of London were of course 
very attractive to me, as I had read of them all my life. My 
eyes devoured Westminster Abbey, Westminster Hall, Temple 
Bar, the Tower, and the other historical jilaces. I witnessed the 
parade in Hyde Park on the anniversary of Waterloo, when the 
Duke of Wellington received the salute of the troops, and I 
remember the people going in and out of Apsley House, to see 
the tables set for the Waterloo Banquet. In the House of Lords 
I heard the Duke of Wellington, Lord Holland, Earl Gray, and 
the Lord Chancellor. I remember the Dvike presenting a peti- 
tion in which the petitioners asked that the Lords should not 
yield to intimidation, 'That, my Lords,' said the Duke, as he 
laid down the petition, in the tone of one accustomed to give 
orders, ' is also my opinion. ' In the House of Commons I heard 
O'Connell, who in the course of his speech, referring to the 
upholders of Irish grievances, said ' They are men of blood ! ' 
at which there was a loud cry of ' No ! No I ' and the Speaker 
drawled out, ' Order 1 Order 1 ' 

"After a few days' stay in London I went to Paris by the 
Malle-Post, taking a seat in the coupe. From Paris, where I 
spent a week or two, I returned to London through Belgium, 
and soon set out for a tour on the Continent, visiting Holland, 
Germany, Demnark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Poland, Bohe- 
mia, Austria, and Italy." 

Of this first year in Europe lie wrote on liis return a 
number of sketches full of the hf e and spirit of a young 
American abroad for the first time, under the title of 
" Sketches over the Sea," that appeared in the Demo- 
cratic Review. 


This absence from his country was for more than a 
year and at a very critical time. "When he returned in 
July, 1837, it was to find the country in a financial col- 
lapse. A panic had swept all the cities, and there was 
a frightful state of alarm in all directions. But such 
was the very time when men needed the counsel of 
the ablest and most trusted legal advisers. Mr. Field 
entered at once on the duties of his profession, and soon 
found his practice larger than ever. If success at the 
bar had been his sole ambition, he had as much of it 
as any man of his age in the country. But there was 
something connected with the law that attracted him 
still more : not the law as it Avas, but as it should be — 
an ideal of the law, which now rose like a star above 
the horizon, towards which he was to direct his course 
during the remainder of his long and eventful career. 



When David Dudley Field began the study of law, 
it was with a f eehng of reverence amounting almost to 
awe. The libraries were filled with books giving the 
laws of England and of all European states, illustrated 
by thousands of cases, which showed how the law was 
applied, not only in the familiar relations of life, but in 
almost every case that was possible or conceivable in 
human society. These mighty tomes, dark with age, 
embodied the wisdom of past generations — the wisdom 
of all countries and all times — the priceless inheritance 
from all the past to the present and to the future in 
secula seculoruni — an inheritance which it was almost 
sacrilege to touch. 

Such was the feeling with which this seeker after 
knowledge and wisdom entered upon the study of the 
law. Nor was it a feeling that he ever fully got over. 
He was never, as some have supposed, an iconoclast 
who would break down all ancient traditions. On the 
contrary, he would conserve, not only "with judicious 


care," but wath religious care, all the treasures of wis- 
dom and of learning that have come down from the 
past. Beginning the study of the law with this feeling, 
the first thing which he attempted was to make himself 
master of the practice, and so hard did he work that he 
had reason to say that "if ever there was anything 
which he understood, it was the practice at common 
law and in equity as then estabhshed in the Courts 
of New York." But he had not gone very far in his 
studies before he began to have misgivings as to whe- 
ther the law as ' ' received from the fathers " was abso- 
lutely ideal in its perfection. The more he studied it, 
the more did it seem to him a very artificial structure — ■ 
comphcated by a multitude of legal technicahties that 
made of it almost an occult science, to be understood 
only by the initiated. In this opinion he was confirmed 
by Mr. Henry D. Sedgmck, who had begun the prac- 
tice of law in Massachusetts, and found it much less 
embarrassed by these technical details than in New 
York, where an excess of forms made the progress of 
a case through the courts very slow. This might serve 
the purpose of legal practitioners, as it made their ser- 
vices the more necessary, or indeed indispensable, but 
did it serve the purpose of those who appealed to the 
law for protection ? Was there no way to hasten the 
laggard steps of justice ? 

While he was thus groping towards the light, he 
was confirmed in his doubts by a couple of opinions 


from high authorities. One was Livingston's Report 
of a Code for Louisiana; the other a Discourse on 
the History and Nature of the Common Law, dehvered 
before the New York Historical Society by Wilham 
Sampson in 1823, and repubhshed with other papers 
under the title ' ' On Codes and Common Law. " 

Out of all this reading and thinking came into the 
mind of the young student at law a vague and misty 
dream of something better, which slowly crystallized 
into a conception of a Reform, and then into a purpose 
of attempting it, even if he should have to undertake it 
single-handed and alone. But what could he do ? As 
long as he was but the junior partner of an eminent 
lawyer, it was not his business to make the law, but to 
practise it. But afterward, when he opened an office 
for himself, he was more free to indulge his dreams. 
Now that he was his own master, was there anything 
that he could do ? The ideal was plain enough : it could 
be stated in a sentence, for it had but two elements : 
first, that the law, as enacted by human governments, 
should be founded in natural justice ; and second, that 
it should be set forth in the simplest and clearest lan- 
guage, so that it should be ' ' understanded of the people. " 
These two points comprised the whole vast question of 
law reform. 

Reform of the Law ! It was a high-sounding 
phrase, that must carry in it something that is vital to 
the State: something which goes down to the very 


foundations of government — to the granite base on 
wliich rests the mighty fabric of human society. That 
the reform might be complete, it must combine the sub- 
stance of the law with the modes of procedure in the 
courts whereby justice is adininistered. In the natural 
order of division we should begin with the substance of 
the law. But in taking down a mighty structure which 
has been the work of ages, to rebuild it, it is more con- 
venient to begin at the top, and dismantle it by degrees, 
taking away stone by stone, and replacing the old by 
the new. Following this toilsome but solid method of 
reconstruction, the first step in Law Reform was in the 
Codes of Procedure. 

Mr. Field had long felt that the great impediment to 
justice was that the way was made wearisome by the 
double mode of Procedure in Law and Equity, wliich 
was a sort of double-tracked road, on which a man 
travelled the distance twice over — first being ushered 
into a luxurious carriage, where he reclined on soft 
cushions, and was carried swiftly and smoothly over 
the ground for a hundred miles ; at the end of which he 
was received most graciously, and assisted across the 
track to another drawing-room car fitted up in the same 
gorgeous style, and in a few hours was whirled back to 
the place from which he started ! On alighting, his im- 
pressions were somewhat divided. It was certainly the 
poetry of motion, but as to progress toward his final des- 
tination, reaUy he might as weU have stayed at home ! 


Such was the system of procedure in the Courts 
when he returned to this country in the summer of 
1837, and he began to consider what he could do for its 
improvement. His first pubhc effort was a Letter to 
GuHan C. Verplanck, pubHshed in 1839, on the Reform 
of our Judicial System. After this he went to Albany, 
and addressed a Committee of the Legislature on the 
subject. - Two years later, at the general election in 
November, 1841, he sought and obtained a nomina- 
tion from the Democratic party for the Assembly of 
New York, with the view of introducing law reform 
measures into the Legislature. Being defeated through 
the interference of Bishop Hughes in his opposition to 
the Public School system, then prevailing in New York, 
which he wished to subvert, he contented himself with 
preparing the draft of three Bills to be introduced by 
Mr. O'Sullivan, his colleague in the candidacy, accom- 
panied by a long Letter in explanation of their provis- 
ions. ./These Bills were introduced; but the Judiciary 
Committee, to which they were referred, did not adopt 
or recommend them. They were printed, however, 
with the Letter, in the Journal of the Assembly. 

The calling of the Constitutional Convention, pur- 
suant to an act of the Legislature of 1845, gave him a 
new opportunity. Before the delegates were elected, 
and in January, 1846, he wrote and published in the 
Evening Post a series of articles on * ' The Reorgan- 
ization of the Judiciary," which were collected in a 


pamphlet and ^viclely cii-culated. He wished to obtain 
a seat in the Convention, with a view to promoting law 
reform ; but the unpopularity to wliich he had subjected 
himself by his hostility to the aimexation of Texas and 
the extension of slavery, made it impossible for him to 
obtain a nomination from the Democratic party, then 
the only one from wliich he could expect an election. 
But if he was not permitted to influence the Convention 
by his voice witliin its walls, he could influence it from 
without, and he did so to the utmost of his power, by 
conversation and correspondence with the members, and 
by articles in the newspapers. The Convention met on 
the first of June, and during the whole summer he kept 
at work. The Evening Post alone had nine or ten 
articles from him, relating to different parts of the 
Constitution. The instrument which the Convention 
offered to the people was adopted at the general election 
in November. It contained two law reforming provis- 
ions — one in the first article, aiming at a general Code ; 
and the other in the sixth article, aiming at the Reform 
of the Practice; both to be set in motion by appoint- 
ments of the Legislature. Both of these provisions 
owed their existence very much to his voice and pen. 

In anticipation of the action of the Legislature, he 
published on the first of Januar}^, 1847, a little treat- 
ise of thirty-five pages, entitled "What shall be done 
with the Practice of the Courts ? Shall it be wholly 
reformed? Questions addressed to lawyers." This he 


followed up by a Memorial to the Legislature before the 
passage of any act by that body, to which he pro- 
cured the signatures of Vice Chancellor McCoun, 
Charles O'Conor, E. P. Hurlbut, F. B. Cutting, Theo- 
dore Sedgwick, James J. Roosevelt, Joseph S. Bos- 
worth, Erastus C. Benedict, and forty-three other law- 
yers of New York. It was in these words : 

" To the Senate and Assembly of the State of Netf York : 

' ' The memorial of tlie undersigned members of the Bar in 
the City of New York respectfully represents that they look with 
great solicitude for the action of your honorable bodies in respect 
to the revision, reform, simplification and abridgment of the 
rules and j)ractice, pleadings, forms and proceedings of the 
covirts of record. They are persuaded that a radical reform of 
legal i^rocedure in all its departments is demanded by the inter- 
ests of justice and by the voice of the people; that a uniform 
course of proceeding in all cases legal and equitable is entirely 
practicable, and no less expedient ; and that a radical reform 
should aim at such uniformity, and at the abolition of all useless 
forms and proceedings. 

' ' Your memorialists, therefore, pray your honorable bodies 
to declare by the Act appointing Commissioners, that it shall be 
theu- duty to provide for the abolition of the present forms of 
action and pleadings in cases at common law, for a uniform 
course of proceeding in all cases, whether of legal or equitable 
cognizance, and for the abandonment of every form or pro- 
ceeding not necessary to ascertain or preserve the rights of the 
parties." * 

* This was presented to the Legislature, and a section introduced Into 
the pending Bill in accordance with the Memorial, except that the word 
which Mr. Field wrote '• every " was by mistake made to read " any." 


Mr. Field's name was naturally brought forward in 
connection with the appointment of Commissioner ; but 
the conservative feehng was too strong, he was too rad- 
ical, and Mr. Nicholas Hill was appointed in his stead. 
The Commission, consisting of Mr. Hill, Mr. David 
Graham, and Mr. Arphaxad Loomis, was estabhshed 
by a law passed April 8th, 1847. The Commissioners 
could not agree, however, in carrying out this pro- 
vision, and Mr. Hill resigned in September. Bj^ that 
time the feehng in favor of radical reform had been 
strengthened, and Mr. Field was appointed in Mr. Hill's 
place by a resolution of the two Houses passed on 
the 29th of that month. Meantime he had published 
"Some suggessions respecting the rules to be estab- 
lished by the Supreme Court," designed to effect a con- 
siderable reform in the pleadings and practice. Upon 
the reorganization of the Commission, it went to work 
in earnest, and on the 29th of February, 1848, reported 
to the Legislature the first instahnent of the Code of 
Civil Procedure. This was enacted on the 12th of 
April following, with very little change, and went into 
effect on the first of July. It was, however, but an 
instalment of the whole work contemplated, and the 
residue was reported from time to time in four different 
"Reports, until the first of January, 1850, when com- 
pleted Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure were sub- 
mitted to the Legislature. These two works covered 
the whole ground of remedial law. 


"The whole ground of remedial law !" Only six 
words ! Yet it is not easy to take in the vast terri- 
tory they cover, and the labor they involve ! This fell 
most upon Mr. Field, for though he had two associates 
on the Commission, they recognized the movement for 
reform as begun by him, and to him, as the gallant leader, 
they left the chief burden, which he in his eagerness 
for the cause was not unwiUing to bear. The labor 
involved was almost incredible. Of this I can speak 
from personal observation. In the year 1847 I went 
abroad, and spent the following winter in Paris, where I 
was a witness of the Revolution of 1848, which upturned 
all Europe. Returning in the autumn, I passed the 
winter of 1848-9 in New York, and under Mr. Field's 
roof. He was then in the inidst of his work on the 
Commission, and I looked on with amazement at the 
amount of labor that he did in every twenty-four hours, 
for he was at the same time carrying on a profes- 
sional practice which had grown to be one of the 
largest in the city. No man stood higher at the bar, or 
was engaged in more important cases both in the State 
and the Federal Courts. It was at such a time, when 
he was already doing the work of half a dozen men, 
that this additional burden was put upon his shoulders. 

But he did not shrink from the double duty, though he 
could not have borne it but by the most careful economy 
of his strength. As he was " called to be a soldier," he 


divided the hours of the day with military precision. He 
rose early, and, taking a cup of tea, mounted his horse, 
which was standing at the door, unless it was a bitter 
winter day, and rode up one of the avenues towards 
what is now the Central Park. This morning ride was 
never intermitted except in the severest weather. After 
breakfast, if he was not required to be at the opening 
of the courts, he shut himself up for two or three hours 
in his library on the work of the Commission, and 
then walked rapidly down town. Everybody knew 
him, for he was tall and straight as a grenadier, and he 
passed down Broadway with rapid strides, like a sol- 
dier marching to battle. From his office he went to the 
courts, where he remained till a late hour of the after- 
noon, when he walked home again. The hour of dinner 
was one of perfect abandon, into which no word of 
business was allowed to intrude : the hour belonged to 
his family, and he gave himself up to the enjoyment 
of their society. When the last good story was told, 
and the last laugh went round the table, he threw him- 
self upon a sofa for a half hour's rest, from which he 
rose hke a giant refreshed with wine, and ready for his 
magnum opus ! Now the deck was cleared, and he 
gave himself to that which was at once the task and 
the joy of his life, the reconstruction of the Codes, the 
fascination of which often kept him at his work till long 
after midnight. 

A life like this, kept up month after month, year 


in and year out, would kill most men: it would have 
killed him, but for the one " saving clause " that nature 
had put into his iron frame. After the day's ' ' fitful 
fever " he slept well. He had not only the power of 
continuous labor such as I never saw in any other 
man, but when the work was done, he could put his 
hand on the macliine and stop it in an instant. He would 
work all day and all night, and for days and nights to- 
gether, with only the briefest snatches of sleep ; but when 
all was over, he could lie down and fall asleep hke a child. 
By this heroic discipline, and the alternation of work 
and rest, he kept the fire in his bones, and the blood in 
his veins, till he breathed his last in his ninetieth year. 
There was also another restorative that he found in 
his voyages to Europe. He loved the sea. He was a 
good sailor, never yielding to the roughest storm, and 
so in his later life he went abroad almost every year. 
The fame of his codes went before him, so that his 
reputation was as great in England as in America, 
perhaps greater, as he had not been there, as here, in 
such fierce antagonism with his opponents. In August, 
1850, he went abroad with his family and left them in 
Rome, returning to New York in December. In Eng- 
land he found a small but determined party of reform 
grappling with the double-headed monster of Law and 
Equity. At a meeting of the Law Amendment Soci- 
ety, at which he was present by invitation, Sir Rich- 
ard Bethel, afterward Lord Chancellor Westbury, 


made a speech in which he said that he thought it "a 
burning shame that a party could recover a judgment 
on one side of Westminster Hall, and on the other side 
be branded as a fraudulent rogue for having recovered 
it!" And yet in presence of this monstrous absurdity 
all the legal wisdom of England seemed insufficient to 
devise a remedy. Even Lord Brougham, who had 
taken up the cause of Law Reform with his accustomed 
energy, while he commended the efforts for the fusion 
of Law and Equity in America, doubted if it could be 
effected in England. Perhaps, however, the long inter- 
view that he had with Mr. Field may have removed 
his doubts, for only a few months after he wrote from 
Cannes that sooner or later it was sure to be adopted. 

How new life was put into the movement for LaAV 
Reform appears from the following in the London 
Spectator : 

"The visit of Mr. Dudley Field to England, and his interest- 
ing statements to the members of our Law Amendment Society 
this week, are real events in the progress of law reform in this 
country. The injustice which the English people submit to in 
the revered name of Law, and in the sacred, but in their case 
profaned, name of Equity, is more enormovis than the future 
historian will be able remotely to conceive. The keystone of 
the barbarous Gothic portal to Justice in our common-law pro- 
cedure was struck out some twenty years ago, when the logical 
forms of legal contest were reduced to their now moderate num- 
ber; other heavy blows have further undermined the ruin, and 
almost cleared away whatever was feudal in that portion of 


their edifice ; and then came the raising of the new and noble 
portal of the County Courts. Still, in all but the most trivial 
litigation the delay and expense are such that justice can only 
be had at a per centage utterly disgraceful to a nation either 
honest or merely clear-handed and commercial. We still pre- 
serve a diversity of tribunals, to administer laws that ought not 
to be inharmonious; and we are prevented from making the 
laws harmonious by the difficulties of finding tribunals able to 
rule the concord and administer the whole field of law as a sin- 
gle empire. In this case, as in a multitude of others, our young 
relations across the Atlantic have done that which we only 
longed to do. In this rivalry of nations, so far above all other 
rivalries, they have pushed development of institutions which 
they received from forefathers common to us both, to a more 
rapid perfection than we. Mr. Dudley Field is one of three men 
who framed a constitutional law for the State of New York, 
under which the courts of legal and equitable jurisdiction have 
been successfully merged ; the enactment has succeeded in prac- 
tical working ; and the spectacle of ' Equity swallowing up Law ' 
has been so edifying to the citizens of his State that three other 
States of the Union have resolved to enact, and four further 
States have appointed conferences to deliberate uj)on, a similar 
procedure. It is imj)ossible — however narrow-minded lawyers 
may object — that what Americans find practicable and bene- 
ficial should be either impracticable or disadvantageous to Eng- 

Returning to New York in December, Mr. Field 
published in the Evening Post five articles on "The 
Completion of the Code," designed to secure the imme- 
diate adoption by the Legislature of the two Codes of 
Procedure which had been reported complete. But 


they had still several years to wait. In May, 1851, he 
rejoined his family in Europe, and travelled with them 
over a great portion of the Continent, and into Egypt 
and Palestine. While in England, on his return home, 
a dinner was given him at the London Tavern by the 
members of the Law Amendment Society, an account 
of which was published in the Morning Chronicle of the 
next day, December 22, 1851. Among the speakers was 
Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke, who was 
Chancellor of the Exchequer under Mr. Gladstone. He 
had lived for some years in Australia, and knew how 
wise laws, whether framed in England or America, 
affected legislation at the very extremities of the British 
empire. In his speech he paid a tribute to Mr. Field 
such as has seldom been paid to any legislator, living 
or dead. He said : 

"He trusted that his honorable friend, Mr. Field, 
would go down to posterity with this glory — that he 
had not only essentially served one of the greatest coun- 
tries in the States of America, but that he had also pro- 
vided a cheap and satisfactory code of law for every 
colony that bore the English name. Mr. Field, indeed, 
had not squared the circle ; he had not found out any 
solid which answered to more than three denominations ; 
he had not discovered any power more subtle than elec- 
tricit}^ nor one that would bow with more docility to 
the service of man than steam. But he had done 


greater things : lie had laid the foundations of peace, 
happiness, and tranquillity, in the establishment of a 
system which would make law a blessing instead of a 
scourge to manldnd. He believed that no acquisition 
of modern times — if he rightly understood what had 
been done in the State of New York — he believed that 
no achievement of the intellect was to be compared to 
that by which Mr. Field had removed the absurdities 
and the technicalities under which New York, in com- 
mon with this country and the colonies, had so long 
groaned." And again: "As to the colonies, he could 
only repeat that he trusted the example of New York 
would not be lost upon them. While England was 
debating upon the propriety of some small and paltry 
reforms in the administration of law, a great master in 
the art of administrative reform had risen there in the 
person of his distinguished friend, Mr. Field, and had 
solved the problem which they in England were timidly 
debating. America had a great future before her, in 
the establishment and diffusion of the arts of peace. 
Let them leave to others — to absolute governments — to 
have their subjects shot down in the street, rather than 
wait even for the headlong injustice of a court-martial ; 
but let it be the lot of England, hand in hand with 
America, to lead the way in the arts of Jurisprudence 
as well as in other arts — let them aim at being the legis- 
lators and the pacificators of the world. " 



When a man has fought a long and hard battle — or 
rather a three j^ears' campaign — with the prospect of 
another trial of strength still longer and harder — he 
maj' be excused if now and then he should retire from 
the scene of action to enjoy a brief interval of rest. 
Amid all the contests of the bar Mr. Field never forgot 
the old home, nor the dear Father and Mother, whose 
gray hairs gave them an added beauty, and whose 
faces, filled vnth a sweet serenity, seemed to reflect the 
peace of that better world which they were approaching. 

Not that there had been anything very notable in 
the years that had passed beyond the ordinary life in a 
country parsonage. In the earlier daj^s of New England 
the minister did not migrate from church to church so 
often as now. Not infrequently a young man was 
settled over a parish, and there remained for life, while 
children and grandchildren grew up around him. 

Not so with the Stockbridge pastor, whose experi- 
ence was peculiar, in that, while he had but two par- 
ishes, he had one of them twice over, swinging as it 


were, like a pendulum, between the old and the new. 
The people of Haddam, who in 1819 had let him go, 
afterwards got into a divided state, which it seemed as 
if no one but their old minister could heal, and called 
him back again ; and he, the good man that he was, 
who always thought more of others than of himself, 
accepted, and for seven years preached in the old bar- 
rack as before, though to another congregation, for the 
sons had come in the place of the fathers, after which 
the long and straggling parish was cut in twain, and 
he took the Northern division of Higganum, where he 
preached for seven years more. It was during tliis 
period, in 1848, the year of the Revolutions in Europe, 
that he went abroad with his son Stephen, and spent 
several months in England and on the Continent. 

In 1851 he completed his seventieth year ; when his 
children, who had grown to manhood and womanhood, 
felt that he had served his generation so faithfully that 
his working days should come to an end ; and asking 
the privilege of providing for his wants, they begged 
him to return to Stockbridge, the dearest spot on earth, 
and there abide till the going down of the sun. This 
loving request could not be refused, and so he made his 
last pilgrimage across the mountains, to the sweet home 
in which he was to spend the remnant of his days. 

Here it was that the autumn of 1853 recalled an 
anniversary that was of interest to us all, as it com- 
pleted fifty years since our father and mother had begun 


the journey of life together ; and now, as they had come 
back to the old home, what more fitting than that chil- 
dren and grandchildren should gather round the patri- 
arch and his faithful companion for half a century, and 
celebrate their Golden Wedding ! 

The family was not only a large one, but a very 
united one : both from affection, and from the necessity 
that was upon them to help one another. This mutual 
helpfulness comes out most under an humble roof. 
Love flourishes in a small interior. The arena is not 
large enough for combats. It is the great and princely 
halls that resound with fratricidal war. Where parents 
and children sit round one table, or one fireplace, the 
instinct of nature draws them together. If for once 
I sketch a domestic scene, it is not so much to show the 
beautiful family life in the old home, as to throw a 
strong side-light on the central figure which it is my 
purpose to portray. Thanks to our dear parents, who 
never had an idle day in their lives, we were all edu- 
cated to the habit of taking care of ourselves, and then 
of one another. In this, as in many other things, the 
eldest of us set an example which we all recognized 
with grateful affection: and never did the heart of 
the son and the brother come out more strongly than 
at this family reunion. There was a light in his face, 
that never shone so brightly as on this happy day. 

Every man has two lives: the outward and the 
inward; which may exist quite apart, even if they be 

60 THE "other man." 

not contrary one to the other. A man's pubhc hfe is 
not his whole hfe, but only half of it, and perhaps not 
the more interesting or attractive half, which may be 
hidden out of sight by his public career. It is a deli- 
cate matter to draw aside the veil that hides that inte- 
rior hfe, but in the case of a strong personality, it may 
be necessary in order to understand the real character 
of the man. The soldier who is bravest in battle may 
be the gentlest when he returns to his little cottage 
under the hill; and he who is by his very profession 
placed in antagonism to other men, and has to strike 
heavy blows, may be quite another man when he returns 
to the relations of domestic life. It is this "other man" 
that I desire to disclose to those who thought they knew 
him, but are just beginning to find out his true charac- 
ter now that he is gone to the grave. 

Few men in our great commercial city were better 
known in one sense and less known in another. He 
lived in New York for more than sixty years : no figure 
was more familiar to the public eye ; and yet no man 
was so little understood. Of those who knew him in 
professional life, probably nine out of ten thought him 
to be a man of iron, cold, stern and severe, all of which 
he may have been in those contests of the bar which 
were a part of his daily life. But at the same time 
he was a man of the strongest personal attachments. 
True, the circle of those whom he loved was not large ; 
it was composed cliiefly of those of his own family. 


But the narrower the circle, the more concentrated and 
intensified was the affection. Never was there, or could 
there be, a more generous elder brother, one more anx- 
ious to promote the interests of all the younger members 
of his family. He had seen what a struggle it cost 
his parents to give him a college education, and denied 
himself every needless expense. In looking over his 
letters from College, it is easy to see with what reluc- 
tance he writes home for so much as twenty dollars, 
and he wished that the other children should not require 
similar sacrifices. On the day that he was twenty-one, 
although he was but a lawyer's clerk, he wrote to his 
father that his first desire was to lighten the burden 
that rested upon him by helping his brothers and sisters 
to get an education ; and the very first money that he 
saved from his meagre income he sent to his sister 
Emilia (afterwards Mrs. Brewer), then at a school for 
young ladies in Hartford. 

Three of his brothers went to Williams College, all 
of whom were indebted to liim for assistance to carry 
them through ; Jonathan and Stephen studied law in 
his office in New York, as did in later years a nephew 
whom we then knew as "Young David," but who is 
now Mr. Justice Brewer, sitting beside his uncle on the 
bench in the well known Court Room in the Capitol in 
Washington. It was because he could be under the 
protection of his older brother, that Cyrus was allowed 
to go to the city at the age of fifteen, when he entered 


a great mercantile house as an errand boy, and thus 
put his feet on the first round of the ladder, on which 
he was to climb so high. Hence in the place of honor 
in the family, next to the Father and Mother, was this 
elder brother, to whom we all owed so much. 

The Golden Wedding was on the last day of Octo- 
ber, 1853. It was a beautiful day in the most beautiful 
season of the year, when 

' ' The woods of autumn all around oiir vale 
Had put their glory on." 

As we came together under the old roof -tree, our first 
thoughts were of the absent and the dead. One child 
had died in infancy. Another had been lost at sea, 
though not till he had given promise of a brilliant 
career. This was the second son, Timothy, who entered 
the navy as a midshipman, and of whom his comrades 
spoke as the life of the ship when they went up the 
Mediterranean, and as foremost in pursviit of the pirates 
who infested the Greek Archipelago. Stephen was on 
the Pacific Coast. He had returned from Europe in 
1849, when the country was wild with excitement over 
the discoveries of gold in California, and had gone to 
the land of promise, where his dreams were fulfilled in 
his notable career at the bar and in the Convention to 
form the Constitution of the State ; and on the bench, 
where he was Chief Justice when called by Lincoln to 
Washington. Cahfornia was not then so near to the 


East as now, and he could not be spared for a voyage 
of many weeks to go and return. Cyrus too had gone 
to South America, but arrived home the day before the 
Golden Wedding. Matthew had been an engineer at 
the South before the war, and built a number of sus- 
pension bridges in Kentucky and Tennessee, one of 
which spanned the Cumberland at Nashville, but was 
destroyed in the retreat of the Confederate Army to 
prevent its being crossed by the army of General Buell. 
At that time he had returned North and lived in South- 
wick, his wife's home, and once represented Hampden 
County in the Senate. Jonathan had settled down in 
Stockbridge, and was one of the leaders of the bar 
in Western Massachusetts. So popular was he that, 
though a Democrat in politics, he was elected by the 
Republicans to the Senate three times in succession ; 
and each time chosen to be its President — an honor 
never before conferred on any member of that body. 
With these brothers we had our two sisters, Emilia and 
Mary. The latter, as the youngest of the group, was 
the pet of the family, and yet was the first to be taken 
from us [only three years later in Paris] ; and because 
of her gentleness and that she died so young, she lives 
in our memories as the sweetest of us all. 

And now the dear old couple stood up side by side, as 
they had stood fifty years before, to receive the congrat- 
ulations of their children, in which I know not whether 
there were more smiles or tears. How happy we all were 


on that wedding day — a day that could never return ! 
Together we sat round the long table that had been 
stretched to furnish seats for some forty guests. And 
then we gathered, as of old, for morning and evening 
prayers, when the Patriarch, who never looked so beau- 
tiful as with that crown of white hair, commended us, 
with a voice that was still strong, to the God of Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob, praying that we might all be 
the "cliildren of the Highest," "sons and daughters 
of the Lord Almighty." Such prayers brought their 
own answer, and as we went forth from the door of the 
old home, we felt that we carried a blessing with us 
that would abide through all the coming years, till we 
too should be ' ' gathered to our fathers. " * 

If any apology be needed for the introduction of this 
domestic episode into a narrative that has to do with 
grave matters of the law, I answer that my object is to 
tell the truth, and the whole truth, of a remarkable life 

* It was not long before our ranks were broken. Of the 
group that stood round our Father and Mother on that day, 
every one of my generation, except myself, has gone to the 
grave. Mary died in 1856; the dear Mother in '61, and the eld- 
er sister, Emilia (Mrs. Brewer), the same year; Father in '67; 
Jonathan in '68, and Matthew in '70; which left but Four 
Brothers to represent the family for nearly a quarter of a cen- 
tury; and of these, two — Dudley and Cyrus — are gone. Stephen 
still lives, but he was not at the Golden Wedding. Soon the 
generation to which we belong will have passed away, but only, 
as we hope and believe, that we all may meet on a happier shore. 


liPi pW^ 


/^v, X. 



and character. It is not enough that I hear men speak 
of Mm as the honored dead, when to me he is the 
beloved dead. I wish them to know him as I knew 
him ; to know the sweetness of his nature, as well as 
the force of his will ; and most of all, of the affection 
that he bore towards those who were of the same father 
and mother. I could go still farther and tell how 
intense was his love for his children, and for the 
grandchildren who were the idols of his heart. But 
it is enough to speak of the generation to which I 
belong. As one of the family, I can testify that, next 
to those who gave us being, we owe what we are to one 
than whom there was never a more dutiful son, or a 
more kind and thoughtful brother. 

But this family affection is often but a form of fam- 
ily pride or ambition, a clannish feeling, that makes 
one stand by his own kin against the world. But such 
an interpretation would do great injustice to one who 
was not only a lover of his clan, but of his race. I 
never knew a man who was more quickly touched by 
sorrow. How often have I heard him, as he came 
home from the business of the day, tell of some poor 
woman who had come to him with a pitiful tale of 
poverty and want, whom he always received with the 
utmost kindness, and listened patiently to her story, 
too happy if he could relieve her distress, or put new 
courage into her sad heart. Or as he walked home in 
the evening, the gaslight flashed in the face of a poor 


girl on the street corner, who was trying to earn her 
bread by seUing papers. As he caught sight of the pale 
wan face, he would stop, making an excuse of buying 
the evening papers, to say a few words that might cheer 
her in her loneliness. 

This tenderness of nature showed itself even in his 
Codes, where he always leaned to mercy's side. Rigid 
as were his ideas of absolute equality before the law, 
yet he thought it not incompatible with justice that the 
law should extend its shield most over those who needed 
it most, and never was it in the more legitimate exer- 
cise of its power than when it stretched out its long and 
mighty arm to protect the poor and the helpless, the 
widow and the child. 

One more picture may close this domestic episode. 
Among the many charities that have sprung up in 
our country, none is more beautiful than that of the 
Children's Aid Society, which takes the little waifs of 
our cities, and transports them far away from the foul 
and noisome streets to the green fields and waving 
prairies of the West, where they can breathe the pure 
air, and learn the ways of industry and virtue. 

Kindred to that, though of more recent date, is the 
Fresh Air Fund, which takes the same class of children 
to the country, though for a shorter time, only for a 
few weeks, that they may romp and play, and fill their 
little mouths with good things, and get pure air in their 
lungs and warm blood in their veins. One of these 


delightful retreats is in Curtisville, a part of Stock- 
bridge, where Mr. John E. Parsons of New York has 
provided what he calls St. Helen's Home, in memory 
of a beloved daughter. Here he has laid out some 
acres, with buildings, clean and sweet, where in the sum- 
mer hundreds are let loose, and run about the grounds 
and climb the trees like so many squirrels, and the 
passer-by may hear their laugh and glee, as a score 
of little naked legs wade into the clear pebbled stream 
that rushes under the bridge. They breathe the fresh 
air all day long, to he down at night in clean beds and 
sleep the sleep of innocence and peace. The place had 
a fascination for Mr. Field, and he often took it in his 
afternoon drive. Sometimes he would pile a dozen 
children into a large carriage for a ride. They all 
knew him so well that they looked for his coming. As 
he sat on the veranda the tiny little creatures would 
climb up on his knees two or three at once. I can see 
him now as he took them in liis arms, and tossed them 
into the air in a grandfatherly way ; while the "good 
gray head " caught the last rays of the sun going down 
in the West — fit type of the peaceful ending of his own 
long day. Never was there a more beautiful picture of 
the two extremes of life than this of sportive childhood 
in the lap of age, wliich no stranger could look upon 
without feeling that, if the "grand old man" had been a 
man of war from his youth, he had always carried under 
his martial cloak a warm, tender and loving heart. 



The happiest scenes must come to an end ; meetings 
must be followed by partings ; and so, after we had 
gathered in the old home under the elms, and paid our 
tribute to those to whom we owed everything, and 
received their blessing ; we had to come back to the 
scenes of common life, and take up again the work 
that we had to do in the world. And here I resume 
the thread of my story. 

"A prophet is not without honor save in his own 
country." It was all very well for Mr. Field to be 
cheered to the echo by English barristers and members 
of Parliament ; but here in America, where the practice 
of the law was in a process of revolution, there was 
quite another feeling. There were many lawyers and 
judges who were not at all disposed to applaud the 
Reformer ; who indeed would have been quite content 
to have him spend the rest of his days in the mother 
country, and practise at the English bar, if he would 
only let his own country, and especially his own pro- 
fession, alone. They were perhaps in a more critical 


mood from the fact that a fragmentary Code of Proce- 
dure had been adopted m 1848, and made a part of the 
law of the State of New York, and they were trjdng 
to adjust themselves to the new conditions. But there 
they wished the Reform to end. An Act had indeed 
been passed by the Legislature appointing a Commis- 
sion, consisting of Chancellor Walworth and two other 
eminent lawyers, to codify the whole substantive law. 
But the slowness of their work was in striking contrast 
with the celerity of Mr. Field's. After two years' med- 
itation, they reported only a small fragment of law, 
which they did not recommend for adoption ; and their 
final report was in substance one of grave doubt as to 
whether the work assigned to them could or ought to 
be done at all. Not unnaturally, the Legislature, in 
April, 1850, repealed the Act itself ! This seemed to be 
a fatal blow. To resuscitate the Commission would be 
like raising the dead, and this was not an age of mira- 
cles. In fact it was seven years before the miracle was 
accomplished — years that were to Mr. Field like the 
seven years that Jacob served for Rachel. But, like the 
ancient lover, he never lost heart or hope. He pleaded 
his cause in a series of Law Reform Tracts on "The 
Administration of the Code" ; "Evidence as to its 
Operation," showing that it had worked well ; "A Short 
Manual of Pleading under the Code " ; and a discussion 
of ' ' The Competency of Parties as Witnesses for Them- 
selves," in support of which he drew up a memorial to 


the Legislature for the passage of a law to admit their 

But all this was only preliminary to a still more 
sweeping Reform, which he proposed in another Tract 
on "The Codification of the Common Law" — a change 
that would be almost revolutionary, and which can- 
not be understood without a brief explanation of this 
"Common Law" which had not only ruled England 
for so many generations, but had extended its rule over 
the greater family of the descendants of Englishmen on 
this side of the Atlantic. 

What was the Common Law ? I am but a layman, 
as unfamiliar with the mysteries of the law as of medi- 
cine. But there is sometimes an advantage in looking 
at a structure from the outside. It gives the spectator 
a point of view from which he can take in the Avhole. 
Looking on therefore, as we laymen do, from a rea- 
sonable distance, what are we to understand by the 
Common Law ? The phrase has a certain inajesty, 
as if it were in Law what the Common Faith is in 
Religion, a symbol of that which, though it be somewhat 
dim and distant, is still too sacred to be lightly spoken 
of. Perchance it stands as a synonym for universal 
justice, and is called common — not because it is in 
any sense low or commonplace, but because it is for all 
men. If that were indeed its significance, it would be 
a noble title for a noble thing. But when we discover 
that the Common Law is only Common Usage, and is 


backed by no great legal authority, our reverence begins 
to abate. 

Yet such is the Common Law of England, from which 
our own is taken. It is not a compilation of the laws 
of the realm, of acts of Parliament, for with the greater 
part of them Parliament had nothing to do. It is made 
up for the most part, not of statutes, but of precedents, 
of the decisions of judges, of whom some were learned 
and some unlearned ; some ^vise and great ; some weak 
and wicked. Derived from England as it has been, 
nobody has spoken of it so contemptuously as Enghsh- 
men themselves. "Do you know," said the great Jer- 
emy Bentham, "how judges make the Common Law? 
Just as a man makes laws for liis dog. When your 
dog does anything you want to break him of, you wait 
till he does it, and then beat him for it. And this is 
the way the judges make law for you and me ! " To 
make the best of it, we cannot help seeing that it is a 
compound of good and bad ; that the stream of time, 
which has brought down to us the wisdom of the past, 
has also swept along on its mighty bosom other and 
meaner things, the mere drift of the ages, with which 
the present generation ought not to be burdened. 

"But imperfect as it is, you cannot get rid of it," 
was the cry ; " it is here, and here to stay forever ! " 
And as for Codification, that was impossible ! As well 
might you attempt to imprison the vast and wandering 
air, or set bounds to the waves of the immeasurable sea. 

72 "walk in the old ways !" 

Even if it were possible, such " narrowing" of the law 
into a small compass would do more harm than good. 
Some even thought its vagueness and uncertainty a 
good feature, as it made it more "elastic," and left 
more scope to the expansive genius of Young America ! 
But other objections were less fanciful. When we 
are told that the great body of lawyers and judges in 
the State of New York were opposed to it, we are not 
to infer that it was from merely frivolous considera- 
tions. Least of all would we impute to them unworthy 
motives. A cause quite sufficient to explain it all is 
found in the simple power of inertia, that weighs upon 
us all like the power of gravitation. There is in every 
man a reluctance to change old habits and usages. Nor 
is this a bad trait. On the contrary, it may be all that 
saves us from mistakes that might prove our ruin. It 
may be our only protection from the consequences of 
our own rashness and folly. Hence it is that we are 
warned in holy writ to ' ' walk in the old ways. " Any 
departure from this rule must first show that the new 
way is better than the old. This Mr. Field endeavored 
to prove by insisting on the absolute necessity of some 
relief from a burden that had grown to such enormous 
proportions. The law was so covered up by the deposits 
of successive generations, that it lay scattered about as 
if among dead men's bones, so that one might almost as 
well seek for it in the catacombs. The richer it was in 
its accumulations, the more unwieldy it became. The 


greater the number of precedents to be quoted, the 
greater the perplexity, for in running back to the decis- 
ions of the courts for generations, it seemed as if every 
possible case had been decided in every possible way. So 
slowly moved the wheels of justice, that in some cases 
a man could hardly hope for a verdict in his life-time. 
An appeal to the Court of Chancery, for example, was 
almost a mockery, as an English judge confessed, when 
he inquired after a particular case and was told that it 
had been referred to that Court, at wliich he asked in 
a melancholy tone, "Have you the heart to send a 
fellow- creature there?" This was a paralysis of jus- 
tice from too much law — a result that is not an infre- 
quent accompaniment of too many refinements in the 
statutes or in the modes of procedure. 

For all this confusion and delay there must be some 
relief, if there was to be any virtue in the law or the 
tribunals of England or America. And this could only 
be by some process of condensation and simplification, 
both of which were combined in "Codification," whereby 
the whole of the Common Law could be framed into 
distinct Codes, which should be so plain and simple that 
the}' could be read and " understanded of the people." 

Such was the aim of Mr. Field, his one great and 
overpowering ambition. It was not to be a breaker 
of the precious traditions of the past. He had no pur- 
pose or desire to destroy the Common Law, but to pre- 
serve it and exalt it by cutting off its excrescences, 


and by translating it into the language of the people, 
so as to make it worthy, not only of the free States of 
America, but of all English-speaking peoples on the 
habitable globe. 

But the stronger the argument for the Code, the 
more violent was the opposition. It was a case of an 
irresistible force striking against an immovable body. 
And so the battle raged, with constant alternations of 
advance and repulse. In 1855 a bill was introduced into 
the Legislature to reorganize the Code Commission, 
making him one of the Commissioners, but its enemies 
were alert and fought it at every step and defeated it. 
The chief opposition came from the older members of 
the bar, who seemed to have a power in the Legis- 
lature to obstruct and defeat any action to which they 
were opposed. Nor were they always very reserved 
in boasting of their power, to which the only answer 
of the Reformer was, "All things come to him who 
waits ! " He did not have to wait much longer before 
the old conservatism gave way. In 1857, on the 6th 
of April — a day that was to be forever memorable in 
the history of Law Reform — an Act which he had him- 
self drawn up with the greatest care, was passed by 
the Legislature, that a new Commission be appointed 
"to reduce into a written and systematic Code the 
whole body of the law of this State, or so much and 
such parts thereof as shall seem to them practicable 
and expedient, excepting always such portions of the 


law as have been already reported upon by the Com- 
missioners of Practice and Pleadings, or are embraced 
within the scope of their reports." 

Very simple words are these to "lay readers," who 
do not take in all their meaning. But to the legal 
mind that one sentence, " to reduce into a written a7id 
systematic Code the whole body of the law," was 
the foretokening of a Revolution. With this came to 
Mr. Field the opportunity of his life. From the time 
that he entered on the practice of law, he had been 
possessed with the idea of Reform : it had been his 
one thought by day and his dream by night. A part of 
his scheme had been realized in the Codes of Procedure, 
but the greater task of reconstructing and codifying 
the substance of the Law itself, yet remained. It was 
the same work of Reform — only in a higher and broader 

The nearer he came to the task, the larger it grew, 
till the cloud that was like a man's hand expanded till 
it covered all the horizon. No bounds could be put 
to its circumference. "Law," says Hooker, "hasher 
seat in the bosom of God, and her voice is the har- 
mony of the world : all things in heaven and earth do 
her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the 
greatest as not exempted from her power." But even 
this magnificent sentence, one of the most splendid in 
the English language, does not exhaust the extent of 
its illimitable reign, for the law of which it speaks is 


only that of the material universe : but in law that is 
to rule and govern mankind, there must be more than 
blind force — more than power, even though it be the 
power of God ; something that appeals to the moral 
sense — to reason and to conscience. 

Even the law of God liimself is not merely the edict 
of Almighty Power, with no recognition of the wants 
or weaknesses of men. That would make Him to be 
like Shiva the Destroyer in the Hindoo theology, whose 
tremendous power rolled over men like the Car of 
Juggernaut, crushing all that came in its way. Not so 
could any one tliink who had been brought up in a 
New England home, where from a child he had been 
taught that the Creator of mankind is the Father of all. 

Nor could a Divine authority be claimed for any 
human decrees. There was no sacredness in law that 
was simply the creation of arbitrary will — of King, or 
Kaiser, or Czar — it was only law that was founded in 
absolute justice that partook of the character of God 
himself, and had somewhat of His authority. 

Approaching the law with such careful steps, it took 
on a sacred character, as if it were a part of religion, 
as it well might be, if it were conformed to the high- 
est standard of rectitude. The work of the legislator 
was not merely to apply the laws of nature to human 
conduct. Nor was it merely the recognition of a bhnd 
force, acting in one fixed and unalterable way, like 
the law of gravitation. The law for communities 


and states was for moral beings, and must have in it 
a moral element — an element of justice so clear and 
plain as to approve itself to him who was under it, so 
that obedience should not be a matter of compulsion, 
but of free choice and will. Justice, in the eye of the 
Reformer, was the rock, the corner-stone, on which to 
buUd the structure of human society. I never knew a 
man who had a stronger sense of justice. In framing a 
law it never occurred to him to modify it in the interest 
of this or that individual, or of this or that class. The 
first question that he asked — and the only question — 
was. Is it right ? Is it just ? Of course, in the work 
of codification, it was not his business to make the law ; 
but in recasting thousands of statutes, there was bound- 
less scope for improving the language by rejecting all 
outlandish phrases, and reducing each statute to its sim- 
plest form by putting it in plain old Saxon words, which 
were most familiar to the common ear, and most suited to 
"the roundabout common sense " of the common people. 
With these two conditions, the law so plain that every 
man could understand it, and so obviously just that 
all should approve it, it would be a moral education 
of the people, who, in learning at once their rights and 
their duties, would be better fitted to be citizens of a 
great and free Commonwealth. 

Such was the task. How was it to be done ? 
Though Mr. Field was at the head of the Commission, 
the work was not left to him alone, for it was too enor- 

78 THE lion's share OF LABOR. 

mous for any one man ; associated with him were two 
of the most eminent members of the bar, Mr. Wilham 
Curtis Noyes and Mr. Alexander W. Bradford, and the 
three were to divide the work between them. They were 
to report at the next session of the Legislature a general 
Analysis of the projected Codes, as preliminary to the 
larger task that remained in the future. To this they 
gave their first attention, Mr. Noyes undertaking to 
prepare the Analysis for the Penal Code, and Mr. Field 
the Analysis for the Political and Civil Codes. 

After this they went to work on the Codes them- 
selves, reporting at every session of the Legislature the 
progress made up to that time. As fast as any part of 
the Draft was prepared it was to be distributed among 
the Judges and others for examination, and afterwards 
to be reexamined, with the suggestions made, and finally 
submitted to the Legislature. No compensation what- 
ever was to be allowed to the Commissioners. 

In this division of labor it will be seen that Mr. Field 
had the lion's share of the work thrown upon him in 
having assigned to him both the Civil and the Political 
Codes. Was it not too much for a man who was no 
longer young ? It was a work for a lifetime, and he 
was already fifty-two years old. But he was still in 
the full vigor of his splendid manhood, and the task 
itself gave him a fresh inspiration. Enthusiasm took 
the place of young blood, and supplied the vital force 
to bear the tremendous strain. 


Of course an undertaking so vast could not be car- 
ried out in detail by any one man, even though he 
should give to it the undivided labor of the longest life. 
In his choice of assistants he preferred young men to old 
men. They might not be so learned in the law, but that 
was in one view of it a qualification, as they were more 
free from the paralyzing influence of old traditions ; 
more alert in mind as well as in body ; more quick 
to receive new ideas ; and last, but not least, had more 
power of continued labor. It was no light task to 
be a co-worker with Mr. Field, for as he never con- 
fessed fatigue himself, he made little account of fatigue 
in others. So long as he was in command, those who 
followed him must keep up with his tremendous pace. 
And yet he was not a hard master, for exacting as he 
was, and imperious in the carrying out of his plans, he 
appreciated talent in others, and was very proud when 
one of his adjutants showed uncommon ability. For 
them it was an admirable training for professional Hfe. 
In the preparation of the Political Code his assistant 
was Mr. Austin Abbott, for whom it was a stepping 
stone to his subsequent distinguished career.* 

With a lieutenant so energetic the work did not 
drag, and on the 10th of March, 1859, Mr. Field was 

* The recent death of Mr. Abbott was a great loss to the bar 
of New York. Had he lived, it was hoped that he would fur- 
nish important contributions to this biography of one under 
whom he had served for several years in the preparation of the 


able to send out the first Draft of the Pohtical Code to 
the parties to whom it was to be submitted, by whom it 
was carefully examined, and returned to him for a final 
revision, which took another year, so that it was not till 
thirteen months later, April 10th, 18G0, that he was able 
to offer this Political Code complete. At the same time 
he suggested the importance of a "Book of Forms," 
which was provided for by a special statute directing 
the Commissioners to prepare it. This too was assigned 
to Mr. Field, under whose supervision it was prepared 
by Mr. Thomas G. Shearman, in the same manner as 
the three Codes : first a Draft, or, as in this case, two 
successive Drafts were circulated, and the revised work 
was reported to the Legislature on the 30th of March, 

Then came the greatest labor of all in preparing the 
Civil Code, in which Mr. Field had the invaluable assist- 
ance of Mr. Shearman and of Mr. Austin Abbott, by 
whose combined labors, under his constant oversight, 
directing, inspiring and pushing on the great work, the 
first Draft of the Civil Code was sent out on April 5th, 
1862. The Draft of the Penal Code, which had been 

Codes, and for whom he had the greatest admiration. Of all 
the tributes to Mr. Field, none was more discriminating, or car- 
ried more weight, than that of one who was not only in the front 
rank of practitioners at the bar, but was also eminent as a 
Teacher of Law, being the Dean of that Department in the 
University of the City of New York. 


assigned to Mr. Noyes, was not presented till two years 
later. It had been prepared with the assistance of Mr. 
B. V. Abbott, and was then read over at meetings of all 
the Commissioners, and amended by them. 

The Political and Civil Codes were left entirely to 
Mr. Field, except that Mr. Bradford prepared a first 
Draft of that portion of the latter which relates to the 
estates of deceased persons. After eight Reports to the 
Legislature, the Commission submitted their Ninth and 
last Report on the 13th of February, 1865 (Mr. Field's 
birthday, on which he completed his sixtieth year), lay- 
ing the full Penal Code upon the tables of the members. 
The Civil Code was already in the hands of the printer, 
but was not issued until the autumn. The revision 
of the Civil Code involved as much labor as its original 
draft. In this work, in addition to the gentlemen 
already mentioned, Mr. Charles F. Stone rendered some 
valuable assistance on the law of real estate. 

These law-reform labors of Mr. Field occupied a 
large portion of liis time for eighteen years, during 
all of which, except the first two years, he not only 
received no compensation, but had to pay the expense of 
his assistants, amounting to many thousands of dollars. 

The Codes for New York were written and rewritten 
several times : every part of the Civil Code at least 
three times and many parts eighteen times ! These 
Codes, as completed, are contained in five octavo vol- 
umes. Three of them— the Civil Code, the Penal Code, 


and the Political Code — give the substantive law. Two 
of them — the Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of 
Criminal Procedure — prescribe the practice of the courts, 
and define their jurisdiction. In the preparation of the 
Codes of Procedure, Mr. Field was associated with 
Mr. Loomis and Mr. Graham ; and in the other Codes 
with Mr. Noyes and Mr. Bradford ; all of whom were 
able and distinguished men in the profession ; but they 
gave to it far less time than he did, and wrought upon 
it with far less intensity. Of his habits of working, 
in the early morning hours and late at night, I have 
spoken elsewhere, a strain that was kept up, not for a 
few weeks or months, but for eighteen long years. 
Thus he gave to it more time than all the others 
combined, indeed all the time which could be spared 
from the labors of an engrossing profession. With 
liim it was the passion of his life — the work which 
he was the first to propose, and was the most deter- 
mined to carry through, and he wrought upon it with 
all the ardor of personal ambition, so that he is univer- 
sally recognized, at home and abroad, as the chief 
author of the Codes. 

"-^ In a letter to his brother Stephen — Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the United States — he speaks thus 
of the opposition he had to encounter : 

' ' Now that my work is finished, as I look back upon 
it, I am amazed at the difficulties I had to overcome, 
and the little encouragement and assistance I received. 


It seemed as if every step I took was to be impeded by 
something laid across my path. I was opposed in 
everything. My hfe was a continual warfare. Not 
only was every obstacle thrown in the way of my work, 
but I was attacked personally as an agitator and a vis- 
ionary, in seeking to disturb long settled usage, and 
thinking to reform the law, in which was embodied the 
wisdom of ages. This was perhaps to be expected when 
I undertook such radical changes in the face of the most 
conservative of professions. But he has little reason to 
complain of the number or violence of his adversaries 
who finds himself victorious in the end. As to any real 
service which I may have rendered to American law, 
and so to the cause of universal justice, of human prog- 
ress and civilization, in short, as to any claim I may 
have to the title of lawgiver and reformer, I am willing 
to be judged by the wise and good after I have passed 

' ' One lesson, which I might perhaps have learned 
by reading, has been taught me by experience, and that 
is, that he who attempts reform must rely upon him- 
self, and that all such enterprises have received their 
start and impetus from one, or at most a very few 
persons." , 



It is one thing to frame an ideal Code, on the strict- 
est Hnes of justice, and quite another thing to have it 
enacted into law by the law-making power, - ' I once 
saw a Revolution, that taught me a good many things, 
and chief of all, the vanity of human expectations. 
When I stood in front of the Tuilleries and saw the 
Royal Palace sacked by a mob, while he who but an 
hour before was a king, was fleeing in disguise for his 
life, it seemed as if the bottom was knocked out of 
everything ; that there was nothing on earth that was 
secure from being overturned and destroyed. \. 'But the 
next lesson was not less a surprise : it was the marvel- 
lous genius of the French people in the creation of a 
new government. It was not many days before Paris 
was flooded with constitutions, each of which was 
believed by its projector to be almost inspired, and 
that, if adopted, it would cure all the evils of human 
society. Few of them were ever heard of again. One 
or two were tried as experiments, but soon broke down 


for want of some needed balance in the political machine ; 
till, four months after the Revolution, all these wild 
dreams were exploded in a four daj-s' battle in the 
streets between the people and the army supporting the 
government, when the attempt to restore the golden 
age was finally drowned in blood ! 
. - Since then I have not been so sanguine of seeing 
great reforms carried by coups d'etat, whether by rulers 
or by people. The march of mankind is slow, and it is 
enough for any generation to help it a httle on its way. 
We in America are not likely to see such a tragic end- 
ing of our schemes for the improvement of human 
society. Happily for us our reforms do not imply revo- 
lutions. But for all that, a Reformer is a man who 
pulls down as well as builds up, and must not be sur- 
prised if he meets with criticism, for the mere suggestion 
of reform is a reflection upon the old state of things 
as needing to be reformed — an assumption which is 
resented by those who are satisfied with things as they 
are. The old ways are good enough for them : and it 
seems to be almost an impertinence when a man comes 
along who thinks that he is ^viser than his generation ; 
and that he can teach them a better way, whether it be 
in law, in politics, or in religion. '-^The Codifier there- 
fore had no reason to complain if his new Codes, how- 
ever skilfully "framed and put together," should not 
be at once accepted by the public, or by those of his 
own profession, who were content with the old tradi- 


tions and usages, which, if not ideally perfect, were 
practically safe. 

On his part he faced the situation squarely, and 
found no fault with the closest scrutiny. He knew 
very well that when the Legislature of New York 
authorized the Commission to prepare the new Codes, 
it had exhausted its power — that its action could not 
bind any future Legislature (which might not be chosen 
until some years later) to adopt the Codes so prepared. 
When they appeared they must stand on their own 
merits, and thereby be justified or be condemned. As 
every Legislature was made up largely from the legal 
profession, he took for granted that, while some might 
be in favor of law reform, others would be opposed 
to it ; and perhaps the greater number be simply 
indifferent, looking upon it as merely an experiment. 
The report bound no one. To the last moment the 
Legislature held the power in its own hands ; and 
though the country lawyers were quite willing, as a 
matter of professional curiosity, that Mr. Field and his 
associates should amuse themselves with their beautiful 
Codes, it would be quite another thing to ask the whole 
bar of the State to put their necks under the yoke ; and 
when it came to that point, the "Reformers" might 
hear from the back districts ! 

With such natural repugnance to change, it was not 
surprising that the adoption of the Codes was slow. 
Even the Codes of Procedure, though they concerned 


but the outward forms of administration of justice, 
instead of the substance of the law, met with opposi- 
tion both within and without the Legislature. Although 
they had been submitted complete on the first of Jan- 
uary, 1850, they had to wait long for recognition, and 
even as yet are only adopted in part. The Code of 
Civil Procedure was once passed by the Assembly, 
but defeated in the Senate ; and a different Code, pre- 
pared by M. H. Throop, though mainly founded upon 
Mr. Field, was adopted between 1876 and 1880. The 
Code of Criminal Procedure was not adopted until 1882. 
Thus the progress of reform was slow : it was only 
the outer walls of Conservatism that had been carried, 
the fortress itself was still to be stormed and taken. 
The revision of the Codes had taken the Commissioners, 
with all their assistants, eight years of the hardest labor. 
Not only had they been outlined with the utmost care, 
but every chapter and article had been revised and 
re-revised, till some portions were changed no less than 
eighteen times. But all this was not enough to insure 
its adoption. There was not a meeting of the Legisla- 
ture that Mr. Field had not to make a pilgrimage to 
Albany, to appear before the Committee of the Senate 
or of the Assembly, where he was always sure to meet 
the determined opposition of some of the ablest mem- 
bers of the Bar in the State, in which they were sup- 
ported by a large number of the legislators, who, from 
professional instinct, were opposed to innovations which 


would oblige them to re-learn, at least to some extent, 
both the substance and the practice of the law. 

These were heavy odds, against which the Reformer 
had to stand almost alone, using all his power of argu- 
ment and of persuasion, with only partial success. The 
Penal Code was indeed enacted in 1881, and has been 
the law of the great State of New York for fifteen 
years ; but the Civil and the Political Codes have not 
been adopted to this day ! The Civil Code, wliich he 
looked upon as the most important of all, has passed 
one of the houses, the Senate or the Assembly, again 
and again ; twice it has passed both by large majori- 
ties ; but failed in either case of receiving the signature 
of the Governor, who shrank from the responsibility 
of putting his name to a Reform which reconstructed 
the very substance of the Law. 

These repeated defeats were of course a sore disap- 
pointment to the Reformer, but after all they ought not 
to have surprised him. In any great movement for 
reform, allowance must be made for the natural con- 
servatism of old institutions, what in mechanics would 
be called the power of greatest resistance. It could not 
be an easy thing to move an old Commonwealth, like 
New York, wedded to old laws, some of which dated 
from the time w^hen the Dutch held Manhattan Island. 

But there was another and broader field in the new 
States and Territories, where the ground had not been 
preoccupied, and so "westward the star" of reform, as 


well as of empire, "took its way." Whenever a 
government was to be formed, its framers saw the 
advantage it would be to begin its pohtical hfe with 
the very best methods of securing justice. While some 
of the older States, like Ohio and the Carolinas, adopted 
only the Code of Civil Procedure, sixteen other States 
and Territories — Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Arkan- 
sas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, 
Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, 
and Washington — adopted in substance both the Civil 
and the Criminal Codes of Procedure ; and to outdo 
them all, Cahfornia, the Queen of the Pacific, led the 
way in adopting, not only the Codes of Civil and Crim- 
inal Procedure, but also the three Codes, Civil, Penal, 
and Political ; and Dakota, which was the first of the 
States or Territories to adopt the Civil Code, has in due 
time taken all the rest, a fitting crown to the great 
State of the Mid- Continent. 

And not Dakota alone ! Beyond the Dakotas lies 
another State three times as large as New York, a 
Highland region, with valleys between the mountain 
ranges, rich as the valley of the Nile. But its first 
occupants were of the lawless character that often 
hang on the border, so that when the stalwart sons 
of the West marched acro&s the plains with their rifles 
on their shoulders, they found that the first thing was 
to put down lawlessness with a strong hand, after which 
they proceeded to lay the foundations of a great Com- 


monwealth worthy of its position in the very heart of 
the Continent. In this no man was more conspicuous 
than Colonel Sanders, who was the first to represent 
Montana in the Senate of the United States. But that 
he owed anything — or that Montana owed anything — 
to the Reform in New York, was first disclosed in the 
following letter : 

Helena, Montana, January 24th, 1896. 

My dear Dr. Field : I learn that you are to write a biography 
of your eldest brother, Mr. David Dudley Field, and I am very 
much pleased to know that so active and useful a life is to be 
described by so faithful and entertaining an author. The State 
of Montana will feel a personal interest in this book of yours, as 
to his labors, more than to those of any other man, is she 
indebted for the very excellent system of statutory law now 
in force within her limits. 

It was my good fortune to know him for a number of years, 
and his lively interest in the codification of our laws not only 
intensified my own interest in it, but gave to it an intelligent 
direction. For a considerable period we sought to secure legis- 
lative action here, and your brother, although he lived remote 
from Montana, and was always busied with very large affairs, 
was never so busy but that he took a lively interest in our prog- 
ress, and by his advice assisted us in the consummation of this 
great legislation. Although advanced in years, he surprised 
me by his earnestness and activity in this matter, and compre- 
hended, and seemed to carry in his mind, the smallest details 
which appertained to the accomplishment of this work. Enter- 
taining a very high opinion of the beneficence of codification, it 
was my good fortune during the last years of his life to meet 
him frequently, and to receive from him information and sug- 


gestions, which he frequently gave also by letter, not only to 
myself, but to members of the Commission who had this codifi- 
cation in charge. During these years, while the work pro- 
gressed, and while we were waiting the passage of the enact- 
ment, his lively interest in it and assistance induced me to 
resolve to furnish him a copy of the statute as it should be 
finally passed ; but the inevitable end came to him before that 

And so I turn to you with some expression of the thanks 
which the people of Montana feel, and which I certainly feel, 
for the labor which he performed, and of which we have been 
able to avail ourselves in the passage of a system of laiv which, 
for comprehensiveness, coherence and perspicuity, stands without 
a parallel in the history of legislation.* If our local needs 

* To an inquiry whether this included all the Codes, the 
writer replies in a second letter that the legislation came to 
Montana by the way of California, which had adopted it from 
New York, and that, though there were some slight changes in 
the transmission, they do not affect the substantial fact that the 
laws which rule Montana to-day are the work of Mr. Field, to 
whom he gives the honor, and to him alone. I quote his very 
words : ' ' There were thrust into the Codes, as passed in Cali- 
fornia, certain pre-existing statutes of this State pertaining to 
the same subject matter, and local as to our conditions and 
needs ; but we have the Political Code of your brother, the Civil 
Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Criminal Proce 
dure, and the Penal Code. These last two, however, are con- 
solidated, and are known in our statutes as the Penal Code, and 
pertain to crimes, and the methods of their punishment. In a 
few instances, possibly, our code commission, instead of taking 
the statutes from California, may have preferred a .substantial 
form of the same statutes taken from Colorado, South Dakota, 


and infirmities have thrust into his codification some legislation 
not projected on the high plane of his code, it is our fault, not 
his ; and it does not impair the great task which he performed, 
not only for Montana, but for all other States availing them- 
selves of his noble work. At a period of life when other 
men would have considered their labors to be over, he was as 
keenly alive to the adoption of these laws by the various States 
as any person I have ever known. 

He was not acquainted in Slontana, nor do I know that 
he ever visited this State, but he took as lively an interest in 
improving its legislation as if he had founded it, and was wholly 
identified with its history. Having edited these statutes and 
published them, it seemed to me appropriate that some recogni- 
tion of his services in behalf of improved legislation and codifi- 
cation should be had ; and, in the preface, I took occasion to 

or some other State ; but these instances are very few, and I 
consider the Montana codes substantially the legislation pre^iared 
by your brother. Departures from the form as prepared by him 
are so insignificant that in generalizing upon the laws they need 
not be referred to." 

To this it should be added that so thorough and complete has 
been the process of "boiling down" the myriads of enactments 
and of precedents scattered through libraries in England as well 
as in America, that the several Codes of Law, Civil, Penal and 
Political, with the Codes of Procedure, are all compressed into 
a single volume much smaller than the Revised Statutes of the 
United States ; so that a citizen of Montana, who has but little 
money to spend on books, needs to have lying on his table but 
three : an English Dictionary to teach the knowledge of his own 
mother tongue ; this Book of the Law, to show him his rights as 
a member of civilized society ; and the good old Family Bible 
to teach him his duties to God and to man. 


mention his name, regretting only that the opportunity was not 
afforded me to say more. If the courts whose quandaries he 
has settled ; the lawyers whose doubts he has resolved ; and the 
citizens whose legal rights in simple and concise words he has 
defined ; could speak in your volume, his name and memory 
wovild certainly be blessed. His was a great life to look back 
upon, and I doubt not your volume, which I bespeak, will set it 
forth in alluring sentences with such detail and generalization 
as shall make it coveted by all intelligent young men of our 

The profession to which I belong will appreciate, but cannot 
exaggerate, the great services rendered by your brother, not 
merely to it and the coui'ts, but to the humblest citizen of the 
land, in simplifying the law and bringing it home to their 
hearthstones. Indeed codification is peculiarly the boon and 
benediction of the poor, and it furnishes some facilities whereby 
the ignorant may become icise. 

His services in endeavoring to secure the settlement of all 
international differences by arbitration bespoke a noble nature, 
humane in purpose and enlightened in comprehension ; and in 
these days, when careless speech seems fraught with so much 
peril, and the spii-it of frivolity pervades so many high places, 
his words of truth and soberness, born of sanity and prudence, 
raise him in the esteem of philanthropists throughout the world. 
It was my fortune to know something of him personally, and 
these great services which he rendered to mankind in no way 
oppressed him. He rose superior to the weariness of the daily 
toil, and was as cheerful and active in social life as any person 
I ever knew. With my wife I recall a journey with him down 
the Hudson River one summer day, a stream with which I flat- 
tered myself I was somewhat familiar, not merely from i^ersonal 
observation of it, but from the works of Irving and Lossing and 
Bryant, and others who had exhausted their genius in painting 


its beauties and describing its history ; but your brother pointed 
out new places of interest along that historic stream, and related 
the events which have made it immortal, until from Albany to 
Manhattan Island it was all aglow with history and romance. 

The dullness of appreciation of the legislative improvements 
with which he was identified, I cannot wholly comprehend, but 
I am satisfied that the States which have availed themselves of 
his services count these enactments as among their most pre- 
cious possessions. To fitly describe such a life as he led is an 
inspiring task, and I do not doubt but that affection and duty 
will lift you to the occasion, and give us a biography not only 
worthy of his own renown, but also worthy of your own pen. 
Such men never die. 

I trust confidently your book will occupy a shelf along with 
the biographies of Sumner and Garrison and the autobiography 
of Mr. Sherman, an example and inspiration to the youth of the 
land, who may learn therefrom the rewards of courageous, intel- 
ligent and patient toil. To those of us who knew him and can 
bear witness to his great service for mankind through so many 
years, it will seem fitting justice that his name be handed down 
by dutiful affection to the gratitude and admiration of future 

ages. Very truly yours, 

W. F. Sanders. 

These are the victories of peace, which are indeed 
no less renowned than the victories of war. As a mes- 
senger of peace Law is next to Rehgion, and most of 
all laws adopted by the people themselves from a sense 
of justice, and for their own protection. No army 
crossing the Continent could carry in its mailed hand 
such a pledge of peace to future generations. 

Nor was the effect of this legal reform limited to our 


own country : the movement was soon felt by our kins- 
men across the sea. As we had derived our laws from 
England, she was equall}" interested with us in any 
improvement in that which was our common heritage. 
This need was felt by her greatest statesmen. In the 
year 1867 I was in London, and saw a good deal of 
John Bright, who was full of congratulations on the 
issue of our civil war, which gave him unbounded hope 
not only for our country, but for the reaction upon his 
own. He thovight it would be no harm to England to 
learn a lesson from America. Among other things, he 
said very earnestly : "I ^vish we had a man in England 
to do for us in the way of the reform of the law what 
your brother has done for America ! " But where to find 
the man was the difficulty. So far as he knew the man 
did not exist. But there were some of his countrymen 
who were not above profiting by our example. What 
America had done England could do. The interest 
thus excited led to the appointment of a Parliamentary 
Committee, and a Crown Commission, to consider the 
whole subject of Law Reform ; and t\\ace when in 
England— in 1851 and in 18G7— Mr. Field was invited 
to meet \vith them, and explain the methods and extent 
of codification in New York. On the latter occasion 
there were present the most eminent legal authorities of 
the Kingdom, including five Lord Chancellors— Lord 
Westbury and Lord Cranworth ; Sir Page Wood, after- 
Avards Lord Hatherlev ; Sir Hugh Cairns, afterwards 


Lord Cairns ; and Sir Roundell Palmer, afterwards Lord 
Selborne. They sat to a late hour of the night, and 
when they rose Lord Hatherley took their visitor by the 
hand and said, "Mr. Field, the State of New York 
ought to build you a monument of gold ! " 

It was not long before the American Codes of Pro- 
cedure were adopted in substance in Great Britain and 
the Colonies. A few years later (in 1874) Mr. Field 
went round the world, and found to his surprise his sys- 
tem of practice in use in the courts in India ! He could 
hardly believe his eyes when he was confronted by the 
rules that he had prescribed, word for word as he had 
written them in his library in New York ; and saw 
justice administered according to them in those far-off 
ends of the earth, Singapore and Hong Kong ! 

This was not ' ' the drum beat, which, following the 
sun, and keeping company with the hours, encircles the 
globe with the martial airs of England," but it was 
something better than the sound of war — the whisper 
of peace, soft as the murmurs of the sea, yet touching 
every shore — peace founded upon justice to subject 
races — the Hindoo, the Malay, and the Chinaman — 
whose rights are not only guaranteed by England, but 
may we not add (this, I am sure, will not offend the 
majesty of England) still further guarded and protected 
by some wise provisions, that have been adopted from 
American law. 


"the commanding figure at the bar." 

A man may frame the laws of a country, and never 
practice in the courts. The two things are distinct, and 
yet they may be united. Mr. Field was a lawyer be- 
fore he became a reformer, and one grew out of the 
other. It was in the daily practice of the law, that he 
saw its defects, and the need — even the necessity — of its 
being cleared of all drift wood, and being brought into 
a compact and orderly form. But who would begin a 
contest that would continue for a great part of his life ; 
and in which he might sacrifice himself for the pubhc 
good ? As there was no one else who had the boldness 
— some would call it the rashness — to undertake it, he 
was forced to the front. Even then his life might have 
been made easy if he had abandoned the practice of his 
profession, when he might have shut himself up in his 
librarj^, and devoted his days and nights to the study of 
all the Codes from Justinian to Napoleon, from which 
to construct a more perfect body of law for his country. 
But to continue at the bar, he would be brought into 
daily contact and antagonism with those who were bit- 


terly opposed to his reform. Yet, disagreeable as it 
might be, it had its advantages, as this constant alterna- 
tion kept him in touch with the practice in the courts, 
so that he saw at once its excellences and its defects — a 
knowledge that was indispensable to any system of 
reform. Here were two lives — the life of the ideal and 
the life of hard reality — going on at the same time side 
by side, yet when it came to writing the stor}^, it was 
necessary to separate them, and treat of each apart in 
order to keep the unity of the subject, and having struck 
upon the trail of Reform, it seemed better to follow it 
to the end, even though it should be anticipating in the 
order of time, after which we could resume the course 
of the professional career. 

The first part being closed, we now change the scene 
from the stillness of the library to the excitement of 
public halls. There is nothing in our American life — 
not even a popular election, or the meeting of Congress 
— that stirs the blood more than a trial, on the issue of 
which may depend men's fortunes, or even their lives. 
Then the court room becomes an arena of combat, 
where lawyers are the gladiators, with judges and 
juries for spectators, and a crowd filling every niche 
and corner, hanging on the words of the speakers, and 
waiting, it may be in breathless anxiety, for the issue. 
In such an arena the subject of our story takes his place. 
How did he bear himself with the leaders of his day ? 
and what will be his fame with posterity ? 


No man can speak for posterity, but one who was 
familiar with all his contemporaries, the late Mr, Austin 
Abbott, did not hesitate to speak of Mr. Field as ' ' the 
most commanding figure at the American bar ! " This 
may be taken as the impulsive utterance of a generous 
friend, whose sense of loss was quickened by the sudden 
death of the object of his admiration. The bar of New 
York counts many illustrious names from the days 
of Alexander Hamilton, whose leadership no man would 
dispute, unless it were his rival, Aaron Burr. After 
him came Thomas Addis Emmet, who was living when 
the young student of law first came to New York. I 
remember well the picture he gave me of that truly 
great man, around whom there lingered the sad memo- 
ries of all that he had done and suffered for ' ' his own 
loved island of sorrow." Judge Story has described a 
scene in the Supreme Court of the United States when 
Emmet was pitted against Pinckney, of Baltimore, a 
combat of giants, which left on the judges and specta- 
tors the highest estimate of the abilities of both. A 
few years later stood at the bar of that high court 
Daniel Webster, for whom the admiration of the 
American people amounted almost to awe. But he too 
belongs to a former generation. 

After these "three mighties," it would be presuming 
to speak of any one of half a dozen great lawyers of our 
time as above all others. They are too near us to be 
rightly judged. There are many stars in our American 


firmament, and it is only when they have receded into 
the distance that future astronomers will determine 
which was the star of greatest magnitude. The writer 
would think it a very poor tribute to one whom he 
holds in reverent as well as loving memory, if he were 
to exalt him by depreciating others. So far is he from 
this that it is a pleasure to recognize those who upheld 
the name and fame of the bar of New York. To old 
citizens whose memories carry them back as far as 
Thomas Addis Emmet, it may seem as if his greatness 
were equalled, if not surpassed, by one whose father 
emigrated from Ireland just before his birth, the late 
Mr. Charles O'Conor. Mr. William Curtis Noyes also 
stood in the front rank of his. profession. But he died 
in 1864 — thirty years before Mr. Field, who had the 
mournful duty of pronouncing his eulogy. Had he 
lived to as great an age, he might have had as great a 
reputation at home and abroad. 

Of this small group of leaders of the bar only one 
remains, Mr. William M. Evarts, who has had a long 
life of distinction both in his profession and in the ser- 
vice of his country, as United States Senator and Sec- 
retary of State. In legal contests he and Mr. Field 
were often pitted against each other. One such I 
remember, in which the famous Thurlow Weed was 
prosecuted for libel upon Mr. Opdyke, the Mayor of 
New York, growing out of some transactions in the 


war.* It was a study to watch the two combatants. 
No men could be more unHke. Mr. Field, like a pow- 
erful athlete, went straight to the mark. No flights of 
fancy turned him aside from the object he had in view. 
To this Mr, Evarts was a perfect contrast. Though of 
slender figure, he had an alertness of mind, a quickness 
of perception, that made him a very dangerous antag- 
onist. He was famous for his long sentences,! that 
stretched on and on till sometimes the meaning seemed 
to be "in wandering mazes lost." And yet it was 
delightful to hear him, (even though the current of his 
thoughts was like that of a beautiful river winding 
hither and thither,) and listeners sat breathless to catch 
the last word. Such was the great advocate and 
lawyer who is with us still. Long may he be spared 
in the city of which he has been a resident for half a 
century, and in which he is looked up to with universal 
respect and veneration, for his own great qualities, and 
as one of a small group of ' ' commanding figures at the 
bar," of whom he is the last survivor. 

It is therefore without raising any question of pre- 
eminence, that the biographer gives the outline of another 
figure that could not but attract attention at any bar or 

* I saw them again pitted against each other in the arguments 
before the Electoral Commission in Washington. 

+ When he was criticized for this, he answered with his pleas- 
ant humor that "he did not know that anybody had reason to 
complain of long sentences except the criminal classes." 


in any public assembly, at home or abroad, in Congress 
or in Parliament, the figure of one whose very presence 
was "commanding," and served at least as a favorable 
introduction, when he rose to address any body to which 
he was a stranger. 

As to the standing of a lawyer, how he ' ' ranks, " (if 
we may use a military word,) that probably depends, at 
least among his professional brethren, quite as much on 
his knowledge of the law given to his client, it may be 
in the privacy of his office, or in a brief statement before 
the court in which there is no attempt at eloquence, as 
in his most labored efforts at the bar. In this knowl- 
edge of the law even those who differed most from Mr. 
Field would hardly claim that he had any superior. 
All who call themselves lawyers are supposed to under- 
stand its general principles. But few men kept up the 
study as he did from the very necessity that was upon 
him in the reconstruction of the law, which compelled 
him to be familiar, not only with the Common Law of 
England and America, but with the jurisprudence of 
other countries, running back to the Roman law, which 
was the foundation of them all. This vast learning 
could not but be of service in his professional practice. 

Being thus master of the law, it did not take him 
long to make himself master of a case. No man was 
quicker to ' ' see through " an involved legal question. 
But that did not supersede the most careful study 
to the minutest detail. To those who knew how 


he was absorbed in his Codes at all hours, early 
and late ; at morning and midnight ; the wonder was 
that he could find time for anything beside. But no 
trial ever came on and found him unprepared. His 
power of abstraction was such that he could, if need 
were, forget everything else, and concentrate his mind 
upon the special case, analyzing it as a chemist analj'zes 
a compound substance. Under the blaze of this search- 
light, he took it, as it were, to pieces, separating the 
immaterial from the material, the essentials, on which 
the whole question turned, and, like a skilful general, 
massed his forces on the vital point. 

When he had thus made himself master both of the 
law and the case, he had no difficulty in making others 
see it. He had a singular precision of language, that 
came in part from his training in the higher mathe- 
matics, so that when he put a proposition in words, 
it was with a sort of mathematical exactness, until it 
might be said of him, as was said of Webster, that 
" when he had stated a case he had argued it." 

But an argument, however logical, may fall flat from 
the coldness of him who presents it. Of this indiffer- 
ence he was never guilty. When he undertook a case, 
he put his own personality into it, and as he had great 
confidence in his own judgment, his opinions, when 
once formed, were very positive. And tliis was one 
element of his power — that he believed in himself ! It 
may seem like making a virtue of egotism and self- 


confidence to say that a man must believe in himself in 
order to have power over others, but no man ever did 
much in the world who did not believe in himself. 

Of course, as with all lawyers of large practice, the 
number of his cases in sixty years was beyond counting. 
At one time his law practice was said to be larger than* 
that of any other member of the New York bar. Some 
idea of the innumerable litigations in which he was 
engaged may be formed from a glance at the fifty vol- 
umes of ' ' Cases and Points, " in which briefs and records 
are bound together in the order of time. Of course, all 
such documents were but fragments, huge but unshapen 
masses of rock that were to be framed into the building 
of some great argument, but, even as they are strown 
over the field of legal controversy, they show an almost 
preternatural activity. * 

' ' But where was the place for Law Reform to come 
in?" was the question that everybody asked ; to which 
he replied that it was a wonder to himself, but added 
with his usual philosophy, "In one way this outside 
work was a benefit to me, for the intensity of my pro- 
fessional life required some relief from the incessant 

* These volumes were sent to his brother, Mr. Justice Field, 
to be kept by him during his life, and at his death to be given 
to the New York State Law Library in Albany. They are sup- 
plemented by a dozen Scrap-books, containing slips from news- 
papers concerning the same litigations and other points of jjer- 
sonal history, that may furnish materials to some future historian. 


mental strain, to which the pursuit of an ideal, like that 
of Law Reform, was a healthful diversion" : ["health- 
ful diversion ! " — that is good for a work that occupied 
him for eighteen years ! ] " and may thus have kept 
me from breaking down." 

As to the mere ' ' business " of the law, it is for the 
most part, like any other business, very prosaic, requir- 
ing no labored argument or eloquence, but only a clear 
head, a good intelligence in ascertaining the facts of a 
case, and what relief or redress may be furnished by 
the law. This is the every-day round of the profession, 
in which there is no opportunity for a great advocate 
to show any superiority to his brethren, all of whom 
are supposed to be to that extent learned in the law. 
If anybody were to go to court to hear Mr. Field, and 
the case were one of some commercial transaction — 
perchance a question of damages, which might be a 
matter of figures — he would probably hear only a simple 
statement of the case, which would be all that it required. 
But give him a great cause, in which great principles 
were involved, and he rose to the occasion with a min- 
gling of argument and of eloquence, in which there 
was a moral as well as intellectual power. When 
he had such a cause to defend, it was with an ear- 
nestness which I always thought he inherited from his 
father, who, as a preacher of the Gospel, was wont 
to speak "with authority," because he spoke from the 
infallible "Word," which no man could question. The 


same positiveness appeared in his eldest son, whom I 
have heard laying down the law as founded in eternal 
justice, in a tone of solemnity that seemed to be an echo 
of the old Puritan when he read the Ten Commandments 
with a hushed awe, as if he had been with Moses in 
the Mount, and had heard the very voice of God ! 

Then it was, as he drew near to the close of an argu- 
ment, that the great advocate appeared in his fullest 
power. It was not that his personal presence, however 
"commanding," overawed the court, but there was 
something in his voice which no judicial bench could 
choose but hear. It was not the soft, persuasive tone 
of one who pleads for mercy for his client. There 
was nothing of the abject or even of the humble peti- 
tioner ; but straightening himself up to his full height, 
he demanded a just verdict ! At that instant there rose 
before him a sense of the majesty of justice as some- 
thing greater even than mercy — as the world is ' ' estab- 
lished in righteousness," which is only another name for 
justice — and that justice he demanded, not only in the 
name of the law of his country, but in the name of a 
just as well as an almighty Lawgiver in heaven. 



[From the painting by Hardie in the Capitol at Albany] 





' Much as Mr. Field loved his profession, he loved his 
country more. Absorbed as he was in the practice of 
the law and in his legal reforms, at the same time he 
kept watch of public affairs, though at first he only 
looked on from without, as an interested spectator. In 
his political creed he formed his own opinions from the 
beginning in a way that was rather surprising in one 
who was born in Connecticut, a State that when he 
was a boy was the seat of the rankest "Federalism," 
and had welcomed in its Capitol the Hartford Con- 
vention, which protested against the war of 1812, as 
threatening to destroy the commerce of New England, 
and in which there were mutterings of disunion not 
unlike those that half a century later burst forth in the 
civil war. That out of an atmosphere thus surcharged 
with anti-democracy should come one so free from it, 
would seem to indicate a complete mental evolution. It 


may have been owing in part to his legal associations 
in Albany and New York, but most of all was it due to 
an independence which asserted itself in early manhood. 
He thought for himself, and studied the questions of 
political economy, as applied to all governments, and 
then specially to his own. In general he held that most 
countries are over-governed, though he would not go 
quite so far as to adopt the extreme maxim of democ- 
racy, ' ' The best government is that which governs least, " 
for that would seem to imply that the ideal state of 
society was no government at all ! But he did believe 
that the tendency in all governments was toward over- 
legislation. Sixty years later he wrote an article for 
the North American Review on the Theory of our 
Government, in which he says : ' ' There are two theo- 
ries of government, the liberal and the meddlesome," 
meaning by the latter that which ' ' dabbles " in all the 
pursuits and occupations of men, and of necessity grows 
into a system of favoritism, which leads every kind of 
industry to hang on the central power, and thus demor- 
alizes the manliness of all who live under it. He would 
not object to the protection of new industries in time 
of war, or in the infancy of the Republic, till they were 
able to stand alone ; but the habit of appljang to the 
Government for protection grew to an enormous abuse, 
that was not at all in harmony with the simplicity 
of our government. That was what he called a 
"meddlesome," and he would have added, a "mischief 


making" government. Instead of this "paternalism," 
in which the government was to play the part of a 
" nursing father " to certain interests, whereb}^ the many 
were taxed for the benefit of a few, he would adopt the 
wider rule : "Protection to all and favor to none ! " 

- With such principles, between the two parties that 
divided the country — the Wliigs and the Democrats — 
he sided with the latter, and the first pohtical speech 
he ever made [in 1842] was in Tammany Hall ! a 
strange beginning for one who was to spend a large 
part of his hfe in fighting against it ! [The par- 
ticular occasion, however, was not one of great impor- 
tance, as it only concerned the nomination of Robert 
H. Morris for Mayor.] But while thus sincere and 
outspoken in his convictions, he was not made for a 
pohtician. He was too rigid and unbending in his 
principles, and would not be bound by caucuses or con- 
ventions. As the natural consequence, he never held 
an office in his life, except for two months in Congress, 
to which he was sent for a special purpose, to prevent 
what he thought to be a great public wrong. He was 
once offered the appointment of Judge of the Supreme 
Court of New York, wliich he declined, feeHng that his 
place was at the bar rather than on the bench. His 
only public position was that of Commissioner of the 
Code, which could hardly be called an office, for, 
although it involved enormous labor, it was all work 
and no pay. " But if he was hedged about with no 


official dignity, lie had what was far hetter — absolute 
independence, freedom to think, and to speak what he 
thought. The very fact that he asked nothing for 
himself gave him the more weight, so that few men in 
public life had a greater influence than he, though he 
stood apart and alone, determined to follow only what 
was dictated by his own sense of public justice and 
public honor. 

Here beginneth a chapter of political history that has 
never been fully written, but which ought to be, as it 
takes us back half a century, to a period when old issues 
were gone, and old parties were broken up, and all 
tilings became new. In that long conflict, which lasted 
for a whole generation, there was no bolder or braver 
combatant for liberty than Mr. Field. Though he was 
a Democrat, he would not be in bondage to the name, 
and the moment that he saw that the party was to be 
used as a means of extending slavery, he spurned its 
authority, and led the way for others to follow. 

The first thing which aroused the alarm of the more 
independent men in both parties was the movement for 
the annexation of Texas, then almost a terra incognita, 
so unoccupied as to invite the floating population that 
always hangs on the border of civilization, who had but 
to cross the Rio Grande to roam over the land at will, 
recognizing no authority but their own. When this 
had gone on for a few years, and the settlers had 
come to number a few thousand, they declared their 


independence of Mexico ! This was their own affair, 
with which we had no concern, till it was proposed to 
annex it to the United States ! The motive of this was 
clear. It was not merely to add to our domain, but to 
give a preponderance of territory and of representation 
in Congress to the slave-holding States. The line had 
been drawn in 1820 by the Missouri Compromise : — 
that slavery should not extend North of a certain par- 
allel of latitude ! But there was no obstacle to its 
expansion Southward. New territory would bring 
increased population, that would enable the South to 
maintain its control of the government. 

The proposal to annex a territory large enough for 
an empire, Mr. Field looked upon as a gigantic rob- 
bery, which was all the worse if Mexico was too weak 
to prevent it. As for title, we had no more right to 
Texas than to Canada. In April, 1844, there was a 
great demonstration at the Broadway Tabernacle at 
which he spoke with the utmost vehemence against 
what he regarded as a national crime. Thus he began : 

" Fellow Citizens : The President has sent to the Senate a 
treaty to annex to the territories of this Union a tract of country 
six times as large as the State of New York — a country which 
till lately was a part of the neighboring and friendly Republic 
of Mexico, and which even now is engaged in open war for its 
independent existence. This treaty has been negotiated with 
a suddenness, a secrecy and haste unparalleled in our annals — 
a suddenness, secrecy, and haste which have no excuse in the 
nature of the act itself or in the circumstances of the country. 


We are in profound peace with all the world, and tranquil at 
home. What then can justify the President in entering upon 
and consummating, so far as depends on him, a treaty of such 
importance, almost before the country was aware it was con- 
templated ? This annexation was ofifered to the Administration 
six or seven years ago, and rejected on grounds in which the 
whole country seemed to acquiesce. We were, therefore, unpre- 
pared for this movement, till it came upon us like thunder in a 
clear sky. But I trust we have, nevertheless, warning enough 
to prepare for the storm. The President was not elected with 
reference to any such question, nor was the Senate, nor the 
House of Rei^resentatives. It is of all questions one in which 
the people should be consulted, and their will ascertained before- 
hand. We appeal from the President to the Senate, from the 
Senate to the States of the Union, from the States to the sov- 
ereign people. If they determine that this measure shall be 
accomplished, let it be ; if they do not, let no secret cabal, no 
set of men in power, effect it. . . . 

"Admit that the cause of quarrel between Texas and Mexico 
was just ; yet the strviggle was one in which we had no right to 
interfere ; and, if we had followed the advice of the fathers of 
our country, we should not have interfered. 

' ' How was the revolution accomplished and made successful ? 
By aid from this country ; without aid from us, Texan indepen- 
dence coiild not have been established. It was well known that 
bands of hunters were organized in the Western States to hunt 
in Texas, though there was nothing for them to hunt but Mexi- 
can soldiers. The aid our people sent them in men, in money, 
in munitions of war, accomplished the revolution. Mexico com- 
plained, and how was she answered by our Government? It 
said, We mean in good faith to fulfil our treaty stipulations, 
but it is impossible to prevent our men from going over ovir 


immense frontier ; we cannot maintain a cordon of troops for 
a thousand miles, in an uninhabited country ; but we will pre- 
vent all aid from this country as far as we can. 

"That answer absolved the Government ; but, if it were not 
able to prevent the wrong which om- citizens perpetrated, let 
it not profit by it. Let us not proclaim our weakness as our 
excuse, and then take advantage of the spoliation which our 
weakness permitted. The state of the case is simply this : Mex- 
ico has been despoiled of one of her finest pi-o\dnces ; the spoilers 
went out from among you, because you could not prevent them. 
Then take not back to your bosom the spoilers and the spoil. 
If you receive them, the whole world will pronounce you faith- 
less. . . . 

' ' The annexation of Texas is war with Mexico I We have 
the authority of our venerable President [Tyler] that it is not 
merely the provocative of war, but war itself. War, moreover, 
declared by the President and Senate, when the Constitution 
confided the war-making power to Congress. Consider what 
must follow such an act. You extend your frontier from the 
Sabine to the Rio Grande. Your troops must occupy the fort- 
resses of Texas. Your troops instead of Texan troops must 
defend them against Mexico. Are you prepared for war ? If 
you are, in the name of justice, in the name of honor, let it be 
fairly and manfully waged 1 I am for war too, when necessary, 
in defence of the rights and liberties of our country. But I 
am not for an aggressive war against a weak and unoffending 
neighbor. The people of this republic are the best judges of 
that question ; let them decide it. If we are to have war, let it 
be such a war as our forefathers waged, in self-defence, for the 
maintenance of our rights and honor." 

But in spite of all warnings, it seemed that the 
Democratic party was to be given up to blindness in 


taking this step. At the Baltimore Convention a few 
weeks after, Mr. Van Buren was thrown overboard, 
simply because he had written a letter against the annex- 
ation of Texas, and James K. Polk was nominated on 
a platform committing the party to it. Polk was elected 
and Texas was brought into the Union. Then came 
the war that Mr. Field had predicted, which, though 
we were victorious, was looked upon by the best people 
of the North with a repugnance that no tidings of vic- 
tory could remove : as I once heard Rufus Choate say 
with his inimitable touch of beautj- and tenderness : 
* ' The wail of the daughters of Mexico is no music to 
our ears ! " 

But when the cruel war was over, it appeared that 
the South had a larger purpose still, for it ended not only 
with the annexation of Texas, but of California also, 
which, however, was obtained, not by conquest, but by 
purchase ; and with this further acquisition came the 
demand that it should be admitted as a slave State ! 
Anticipating this, Mr. Wilmot, a Democrat in Congress 
from Pennsylvania, had introduced as an amendment 
to a bill for purchasing Mexican territory, his famous 
proviso : ' ' That as an express and fundamental con- 
dition to the acquisition of any territory from the 
Republic of Mexico, neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude shall ever exist in any part of the said ter- 
ritory," which was adopted in the House, but rejected 
in the Senate. Soon it became a battle-cry for the 


North. At the same time Mr. Field wrote the famous 
"Secret Circular" and "Joint Letter," designed to 
rally the anti-slavery portion of the Democratic party. 
In 1847 he was a delegate to the Syracuse Convention, 
where the Democratic party was split in two over the 
question of the extension of slavery, and on that occa- 
sion he introduced the famous resolution, long after- 
ward known as "The Corner- Stone," which was for 
years displayed at the head of the leading column 
of the Albany Atlas, as the rallying cry of the Free 
Democracy. It was in these words : 

' ' Resolved, That while the Democracy of New York, repre- 
sented in this convention, will faithfully adhere to all the com- 
promises of the Constitution, and maintain all the reserved 
rights of the States, they declare, since the crisis has arrived 
when that question must be met, their uncompromising hostility 
to the extension of slavery into territory now free, or which 
may be hereafter acquired by any action of the Government of 
the United States." 

^ Matters came to a head in 1848 with the nomination 
of General Cass. When the Democrats of New York 
assembled in mass meeting to hear the report of their 
delegates to Baltimore, they were very much excited. 
Mr. Field wrote the address, which declared their strong 
disapproval. Carrj-ing their feeling into action, a por- 
tion of the party refused to support General Cass, and 
nominated Mr. Van Buren for President, and Charles 
Francis Adams for Vice-President, on the platform of 


no more extension of slavery. In support of these 
principles and candidates, Mr. Field spoke at a large 
meeting in the city, and wrote the address of the 
Democratic- Repubhcan Committee to the electors of 
the State. Nor did he confine himself to New York ; 
he carried the war into New England, into Faneuil Hall, 
where he was introduced by Charles Sumner, and spoke 
with a spirit of resistance to the domination of slavery 
that seemed as if it were an echo of the days of the 

Here was the beginning of the Free Soil party, 
which took the field with increased determination when 
it was proposed to open Kansas and Nebraska to the 
introduction of slavery ! - There was a Chinese wall 
in the way in the Missouri Compromise, which declared 
that slavery should never cross the line of 36 degrees 
and 30 minutes ! All above that was holy ground, 
consecrated to liberty. But what spot on earth was 
ever sacred to an ambitious politician ? Stephen A. 
Douglas, of Illinois, was the most popular man in the 
Northwest, and if he could make himself equally popu- 
lar at the South, he would have a triumphal march to 
the Presidential chair. For this it was only necessary 
to break down the barrier to the extension of slavery, 
when Southern statesmen would be able to boast : 

" No pent up Utica contracts our powers, 
But the whole boundless Continent is ours." 


But it was a delicate matter to touch the Missouri Com- 
promise. It could not be done openly and avowedly, but 
it might be made of no effect by giving it a new inter- 
pretation, to which Mr. Douglas was competent, pre- 
paring a bill in which it was declared to be " the true 
intent and meaning of the act, not to legislate slavery 
into any state or territory, nor to exclude it therefrom, 
but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form 
and regulate their domestic institutions in their own 
way, subject only to the Constitution of the United 
States." This was not a repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise ! Oh no ! Those who voted for it would 
never lay sacrilegious hands on anything so sacred, 
which had come down to them from their fathers ! 
That old fortress of liberty- was left standing in the 
wilderness, a picturesque ruin, covered with moss, 
while the sappers and miners had cut a way through 
the forest, broad enough for the whole South to march 
round it, 

No sooner had the partition wall been broken down 
than planters from Kentucky, Tennessee and other States 
farther South came by boat-loads up the Missouri River, 
with all the field-hands from their plantations, and 
swarmed into what was then known as the Platte 
Country, where the ' ' hot bloods " became the famous, 
or infamous, "Border Ruffians," that long kept the 
country in a state of terror. There were also settlers 
from the East, but "on the side of their oppressors 


there was power," for they were supported by the 
national government, which undertook to put down 
resistance by law, arresting opposers and throwing 
them into prison, till the blood of the North, that was 
supposed to be very cold, began to boil as never before. 
Indignation meetings were held in the Eastern cities, in 
which collections were taken up to supply the Northern 
men with rifles. Nor was this confined to New Eng- 
land : the city of New York was the focus of a great 
popular excitement. Never shall I forget a meeting in 
the old Broadway Tabernacle, that was crowded by 
men in a state of irritation that could hardly be con- 
trolled. I was in the ante-room with Henry Ward 
Beecher, who was pacing up and down, hke a lion in 
a cage. As I sat near him on the platform, I saw that 
he was under the power of a great passion, which cul- 
minated in a dramatic scene when he took up in his 
hands a chain that had been used to bind the limbs of 
men in Kansas, and raising it above his head, he dashed 
it to the floor, and trampled upon it in token of his con- 
tempt and scorn for a government that could stoop 
so low. Such was the excitement that, had there been 
a call for volunteers, many would have been read}' to 
take their muskets on their shoulders, and set their 
faces towards the West. It was easy to call this fanat- 
icism, but it was the kind of fanaticism that soon after 
flamed out on the field of battle. Mr. Field was the last 
man to be called a fanatic, but he was stirred to indig- 


nation by the audacity of the South on the one hand, 
and the cowardice of the North on the other. Of course 
there was a great outcry that he had deserted his party, 
and been false to his Democratic principles, to which he 
replied in a letter to the Albany Atlas, dated May 22, 
1856 : 

"Though I have not hitherto acted with the Republican 
party, my sympathies are of course with the friends of freedom, 
wherever they may be found. I despise equally the fraud 
which uses the name of Democracy to cheat men of their rights ; 
the cowardice which retracts this year what it i^rofessed and 
advocated the last ; and the falsehood which affects to teach 
the right of the people of the Territories to govern themselves, 
while it imposes on them Federal governors and judges, and 
indicts them for treason against the Union because they make 
a constitution and laws which they prefer, and collects forces 
from the neighboring States and the Federal army to compel 
them to submission." 

This Kansas business gave a tremendous impulse to 
the Free Soil Party, which grew to such proportions as 
to give a strong hope that it might elect its candidate 
for the Presidency, for which it nominated Fremont, 
whom Mr. Field supported in speeches in New York 
and Pennsylvania. 

By these successive strokes, the wedge was driven 
deeper and deeper, by which the old Democratic party, 
which had so long ruled the country, was cleft asun- 
der, while the Free Soil Party grew stronger and 


stronger with every battle that it fought, until it 
united with the Anti-slavery portion of the Whigs, 
and formed the Republican Party, that was in the 
fullness of time to gain the control of the government 
in the election of the man for the hour. Here the 
curtain rises on a great figure, and on a series of events 
with whose beginning we enter on the most awful, the 
most tragical, and yet in the end the most triumphant, 
period in American history. 



Man proposes, but God disposes. Ambition over- 
leaps itself. The political manoeuvering which was to 
make a popular leader President, ended in his defeat, 
and the election of his rival. It was one thing for 
Douglas to carry a measure in Congress, and another 
to settle with his constituents at hoine. When he 
returned to Illinois, he found that he had lighted a fire 
on the prairies that could not be put out. He had to 
make a campaign through the State, and wherever he 
went he was confronted by a new antagonist, a tall, 
lank, ungainly Kentuckian, with not a single grace of 
manner, but whose long right arm could deal heavy 
blows. No two men were more unlike even in their 
personal appearance, for while the new-comer stood six 
feet four, Douglas was so diminutive in stature that he 
was nicknamed the Little Giant, a picturesque combi- 
nation of two such figures on the same stage. But 
the contrast in the personality of the men was soon 
forgotten in the earnestness on both sides, which made 


it one of the most exciting political contests ever seen 
in this country. The question was one of supreme 
importance, that of carrying slavery into the new 
Territories, and roused each to put forth his utmost 
strength. Douglas had the advantage of a great repu- 
tation and the skill acquired in many a hard battle, 
but with all this he carried the State only by a bare 
majority, and was reelected to the United States Senate, 
but the contest for the first time made the name of 
Abraham Lincoln known to the American people. 

There is nothing that rouses popular enthusiasm 
like the discovery of an unknown great man. The 
fame of this debate went beyond the bounds of Illinois, 
till the echo was heard even in the East, and though 
the scene of contest was so far away that it was like 
the voice of one crying in the wilderness, yet the voice 
was so clear and strong that men pricked up their ears 
to hear, and asked who it was that spoke, and what 
manner of man he was ? The next step was to invite 
him to come to New York and give a lecture on the 
political situation. How well I remember his first 
appearance before an Eastern audience ! It was in the 
Cooper Institute as it was in the old days, when the 
platform of the great hall was not in the middle, but 
at the far end, and I can see him now as the door 
opened, and the tall figure came forward, accompanied 
by William Cullen Bryant and David Dudley Field. 
As I sat on the platform close to the speaker, I caught 


every word, and observed every gesture. He spoke in 
a high-pitched voice, in which there was not a trace of 
the smooth-tongued orator ; but there was a singular 
clearness in his stj'le, with a merciless logic which no 
listener could escape, as he unfolded link after link 
in the iron chain of his argument. 

But there was more in evidence that night than skill 
in debate : there was a revelation of the man, as one 
who loved his party, but loved his country more. The 
fairness to his opponents was quite unusual in politi- 
cal combatants. It was not as if he were fighting an 
enemy, but reasoning with a friend. The lecture closed 
with an appeal to the South, that was not at all in a 
tone of threatening, but of pleading with kindred, with 
those who were our brothers — if brothers estranged, yet 
brothers still — partakers with us in the great inheritance 
of liberty. It was this "sweet reasonableness," this 
"gentleness of wisdom," and above all, the tone of 
' ' sad sincerity " that gave me, who heard him then 
for the first and the last time, an indelible impression of 
the character of Abraham Lincoln. 

But three months passed and this man of the people 
was a candidate for the Presidency, a step forward 
which took the country by surprise, and which to this 
day is enveloped in some degree of mystery. If we 
were in France we might say that "it is always the 
unexpected that happens," but among a people that 
are not so readily carried away by sudden impulse, 


events come to pass in a more regular and orderly way. 

Since the campaign of Fremont the Republican party 
had grown in numbers till it was strong enough to make 
a bold strike for the possession of the government ; and 
when the Democrats split into two factions, and nomi- 
nated two candidates, while a third party, made up of 
old Whigs and Know-nothings, nominated a third, the 
Republicans felt, like Cromwell, that "the Lord had 
delivered the enemy into their hands. " 

The custom had long obtained of nominating candi- 
dates for the two highest offices of the government — 
President and Vice-President — by a National Conven- 
tion made up of representatives from all the States, 
to double the number of their members of Congress, 
a fair apportionment, and a good way to get at the will 
of the people so long as they were left to freedom of 
choice. The danger came in only when one man under- 
took to do their choosing for them, in which case the free 
election became a solemn farce. New York, having 
two Senators and thirty-three members of the House 
of Representatives, was entitled to seventy delegates, 
that were to be designated by a State Convention which 
met at Syracuse a few weeks before the National Con- 
vention. One who was a member of the nominating 
Committee appointed by this Convention tells me that 
they came together with all due gravity, as if they 
were a legislative body to enter into high debate on 
matters of national importance. "But," he added, 


' ' we might have saved ourselves the trouble, for while 
we were in the room with closed doors, as if delib- 
erating in the profound secrecy of a papal conclave, 
Thurlow Weed sat just outside the door to tell us whom 
to nominate ! " 

Mr. Weed was an old campaigner, who had fought 
many battles and won many victories. I once heard 
the late Mr, Edwards Pierrepont, in a case before the 
courts, speak of him, as he sat at the bar, as ' ' the man 
who had made Senators, Governors and Presidents ! " 
He was now to try his hand again, and laid his schemes 
with full assurance of victor}^ The first thing was to 
have well in hand the delegation from New York. He 
knew the men for his purpose. They must be men of 
good standing in the party, whose names would have 
weight with the pubhc, but at the same time he wanted 
supple, pliant men, not too scrupulous about little mat- 
ters, who held him in awe, and would defer to his 
political sagacity. Of course, he had no use for men 
like Horace Greeley or David Dudley Field, who were 
too independent and self-willed. When they reached 
Chicago Mr. Greeley (to Mr. Weed's great disgust) was 
elected a delegate from Oregon ! Mr. Field was left 
standing without, but found that an outsider may some- 
times have an influence as great as an insider, of which 
he was to give signal proof before the contest was over. 

The Convention met in Chicago May 16th, 1860, in 
a huge, barn-like structure that had been erected for 


the purpose, called " The Wigwam," Here the Repub- 
licans, as they answered to the roll-call, mustered 
465 strong ! All went smoothly for the first two days, 
and seemed to point to one man who among all the 
candidates stood foremost, as if appointed by heaven 
to lead them to victory. This was the distinguished 
Senator from New York, William H. Seward. Nor 
did there seem a doubt of his nomination. On the 
eve of the decisive day Thurlow Weed said that he 
"was sure of success," and Mr. Evarts, that "the vic- 
tory was certain, and would be rapid ! " Indeed Mr. 
Greeley, who was strongly opposed to it, gave up the 
contest, and at midnight telegraphed to the Tribune in 
New York, that the opposition could not concentrate 
upon any candidate, and that Governor Seward would 
be nominated ! 

But when the morning came, and the divisions of 
the Republican army marched into the Wigwam and 
grounded their arms for the more peaceful work of 
the vote, to the amazement of friends and foes, the 
natural heir to the crown was defeated, and Abraham 
Lincoln proved to be the man of destiny. As this 
was a surprise even to the Convention itself, we cannot 
help asking by what influences, open or secret, it was 
brought about, for we cannot exaggerate its impor- 
tance. It was the turning-point in the life of Lin- 
coln. If he had not been nominated that morning, 
he would have remained to be, what he was before. 


a country law5'er in Illinois, making his round with the 
circuit of the courts. He might still have been a con- 
spicuous figure in Western politics, (for he was not a 
man to sink into oblivion,) but for the time at least it is 
probable that he would have returned to his profession 
and the even tenor of his hfe would have flowed on as 
gently as before. 

Nor was the result of less moment to the countr5\ 
With the defeat of Lincoln the hand on the dial of his- 
tory would have been turned backward. The mighty 
succession of events that followed — the secession of the 
Southern States, the call to arms, the four years' war, 
and the abolition of slavery — all would have been passed 
over to another generation. Hence it was a critical 
moment in our national life. In view of the tremen- 
dous consequences that followed in peace and war, it is 
not too much to say that the whole course of American 
history turned on the decision of that hour ! 

As we come to the how and the why of this sudden 
revolution, I turn to a "Life of Lincoln," a massive 
octavo of nearly eight hundred pages, by a distinguished 
author, Henry J. Raymond, the founder and editor of 
the New York Times ; who was thoroughly acquainted 
with the whole history of American politics ; with the 
rise and fall of parties and of men. He records briefly 
that "On Thursday, the 17th of May, the Committee on 
Resolutions reported the Platform, which was enthusi- 
astically adopted. A motion was made to proceed to 

128 Raymond's life op Lincoln. 

the nomination at once, and if that had been done, the 
result of the Convention might have proved very dif- 
ferent, as at that time it was thought that Mr. Seward's 
chances were the best. But an adjournment was taken 
till the morning, and during the night the combinations 
were made which resulted in the nomination of Mr. 
Lincoln. " 

So much and no more ! This is very calmly stated, 
as if it were in the natural order of the proceedings. 
But the reason for this subdued tone is apparent in the 
Preface, in which the author says that the book was 
" prepared during the Presidential canvass of 1864," 
and that ' ' its main object was to afford the American 
people the materials for forming an intelligent judgment 
as to the wisdom of continuing Mr. Lincoln for four 
years more in the Presidential office." 

The purpose of the book, then, was to be a campaign 
document, issued to influence the coming election, a help 
that was sorely needed at that hour when there was 
real danger of Lincoln's defeat — a danger that was 
not removed till after Sherman's capture of Atlanta. 
While there was any doubt as to the result, it would 
have been the height of unwisdoin to open old wounds, 
and revive old antagonisms. For the time it was a 
duty to forget past "unpleasantness," and unite all 
hearts to save the Republic. 

But now that the danger is past, that the war is 
over, and that we are seeking after the truth of his- 


tory, we go back to the original documents, and appeal 
from the Mr. Raymond of 18G4 to the Mr. Raymond 
of 1860, when he was just from the Chicago Conven- 
tion, and tells a fuller and a plainer story, letting out 
the real state of things on that memorable night when, 
as he mildly puts it, "the combinations were made 
which resulted in the nomination of Mr. Lincoln." 
Combinations by whom ? Was there a movement all 
along the hne ? Or was there a secret Gunpowder Plot 
to make an end of Mr. Seward's political ambition ? 

Some have found an easy way to explain the result 
by assuming that there was no plot at all, but only that 
the delegates, in their calm deliberations in the stillness 
of the night, had come to the painful conclusion that 
they must sacrifice their personal preferences to the 
' ' pohtical necessity " of having a candidate who could 
carry the four doubtful States of Illinois, Indiana, Penn- 
sylvania and New Jersey ! No doubt that had its 
weight, but it is one thing to say that it was a reason, 
and another that it was the one and overmastering 
consideration. The latter ]\Ir. Raymond flatly denies, 
and even goes so far as to say that, on the contrary, 
" The nomination finally made was purely an accident, 
decided far more by the shouts and applause of the vast 
concourse which dominated the Convention than by the 
direct labors of any of the delegates." 

Here then we are all at sea. A flippant dismissal 
of the subject only deepens the mystery. If at mid- 


night it was conceded on both sides that the result was 
inevitable, that Seward would be nominated the next 
morning ; and at the appointed hour he was defeated ; 
then between midnight and morning something hap- 
pened. What was it ? To talk in a general way of 
' ' political necessity " is to evade the question : it is an 
explanation that does not explain. Instead of asking, 
What did it ? it is more to the point to ask, Who did it ? 
for it was not abstract considerations, but a living pres- 
ence that appeared in the darkness of that memorable 
night. It was not a miracle, wrought by unseen hands. 
It was the work of men, who were not only in the flesh, 
but very much alive. To Mr. Raymond, looking on as 
a spectator — eager, earnest, and knowing all the actors 
in the foreground — the contest seemed to be not so much 
a political as a personal one. There was no difference 
among the candidates as to the platform of principles on 
which the battle was to be fought : but there came in 
another element more powerful than all the logic in the 
world — the personal antagonism, that no man can tame, 
and that often carries a public body by storm. Whoever 
has been present at a political convention — especially if 
it be to choose a President — knows that it is a cyclone of 
warring ambitions, of which it is not possible to get any 
adequate impression except from one who was in the 
storm-centre, and who can truly say, "All of which I 
saw, and part of which I was." 

If we cannot get such an inside view of the Conven- 


tion from biographers and historians, perchance we 
may get it from the newspaper correspondence of the 
day, where we need no higher authority than Mr. Ray- 
mond himself, when the final decision reUeved him from 
all restraint, and he was free to declare the truth, the 
whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He does not 
seem to have been in any doubt as to who defeated his 
candidate. As no one can tell the story so well as 
himself, it is better to let him tell it in his own words. 
A few days after the Convention adjourned, there 
appeared in the New York Times a letter of two col- 
umns and a half, whose very date is significant, and 
prepares us for the melancholy tone in which it begins : 

"Auburn, May 22, I860.— I have turned aside from' 
my direct route homeward, to pay a visit of respect and 
friendship to Governor Seward. I found him as busily 
and happily engaged in directing the improvements in 
his delightful country residence as if no such incidents 
as treachery and disappointment ever disturbed the 
tenor of political life. " As to his future, ' ' he regards 
his public life as definitely closed. You may dismiss 
all the speculations in which the public journals are just 
now indulging as to his place in the new RepubHcan 
administration — if we have one — as idle and useless. 
Henceforth the only sphere of his labors will be his 
home, and the society which surrounds it." 

From this mournful picture of fallen greatness, Mr„ 
Raymond turns to the author of it, and makes a savage 

132 THE "treachery" OF GREELEY. 

attack upon Horace Greeley, as the creeping, crafty, 
and malignant destroyer of the great statesman. How 
a poor young man, coming from a farm in Vermont to 
be a type-setter in a printing office in New York, could 
rise to such influence and power, is shown by a reference 
to his career. As Mr. Raymond would have it, he owed 
it all to Mr. Seward. ' ' For twenty years Greeley had 
been sustaining the political principles and vindicating 
the political conduct of Mr. Seward through the col- 
umns of the most influential political newspaper in the 
country " ; during all wliich " he was proud to have been 
his personal friend and political supporter," a devotion 
that continued till he was alienated by the fact that 
the great Senator did not sufficiently recognize the hard- 
working Editor, but listened more to the wily influence 
of Thurlow Weed — a dissatisfaction that grew to such 
a point that once, in a moment of irritation, he wrote 
a letter to "the party of the other part," in which he 
announced that "the firm of Seward, Weed and Greeley 
was dissolved ! " This ahenation — though it did not 
come to an open and public rupture — was never healed. 
For six years the retired member of the firm was 

" Nursing his wrath to keep it warm," 

till the Chicago Convention gave him the opportunity 
to "wreak upon Mr. Seward the long-hoarded revenge 
of a disappointed office-seeker " ! 

This was a heavy charge to throw upon Mr. Greeley. 


No matter how much he pleaded innocence — or, to put 
it more gently, wished to divide the responsibility of the 
nomination — Raymond retorts bitterly : " He awards to 
others the credit that belongs transcendently to himself," 
and to sum it all up he says : ' ' The great point aimed 
at was Mr. Seward's defeat ; and in that Mr. Greeley 
labored harder, and did tenfold more, than the whole 
family of Blairs, together with all the gubernatorial 
candidates to whom he awards the honors of the effec- 
tive campaign." 

This is sufficiently explicit. But Mr. Raymond has one 
more indictment to make. The next day he returns to 
the subject in an editorial in which he brings under the 
same condemnation ' ' Dudley Field, who labored with 
equal energy in the common cause," though he does not 
presume to impute to him the charge of " treachery " to 
Mr. Seward, to whom he was never under the slight- 
est obligation. He was a Democrat of the old school, 
who left his party because it had surrendered to the 
Slavery power ; and had joined the Republicans, but 
had no part in their family quarrels. But he did 
not take kindly to the new creation in American 
pohtics of a "boss," who, with none of the responsi- 
bilities and the restraints of office, assumed absolute 
control, setting up one and putting down another : and 
his chief objection to Mr. Seward was, that if ' ' This our 
Caesar" were throned in the Capitol, he would have 
his proconsuls in the provinces, and as the State of 


New York was the richest "provmce" in our American 
empire, he saw a famihar figure sitting in the place of 
custom, receiving tribute, and dividing the spoils, in the 
fine old Roman way. 

In coupling together the names of Horace Greeley 
and David Dudley Field — for he does not mention 
another man — Mr. Raymond brings the matter down 
to a fine point, to specific and definite personalities, and 
singles out the two men who in his opinion were above 
all others responsible for the defeat of Seward, and 
the nomination of Lincoln. That the result was not 
due to Mr. Greeley alone, or chiefly, I have his own 
declaration, for I once spoke to him about it, giving hun 
credit for the sudden change in what seemed to be the 
inevitable course of events, which he disclaimed as 
doing him too much honor. * This at the moment sur- 
prised me, until I learned that there was reason for his 
not assuming too much, since at that dark hour when 
he sent his despatch to New York, he was thoroughly 
demoralized as to the event of the coming day, and 

* Indeed so far was Mr. Greeley from wishing to pose as the 
original Lincoln man, that when he went to Chicago he had 
in view another candidate, Mr. Edward Bates, an eminent law- 
yer of St. Louis, who, being in a slave State, though only just 
on the border, would not alarm the timid conservatives, who 
were frightened by the very name of an abolitionist, and whose 
nomination might give an impetus to emancipation in Missouri. 
So fully was he possessed with this idea that, even after 


would have ' ' thrown up the sponge " if he had not 
been hterally ' ' held up " by a stronger will than his 
own, and by more unflinching courage. 

To see how critical was the situation, that not a 
moment was to be lost, we have to introduce another 
witness, who will take us farther on in unravelling the 
mystery of Mr. Seward's defeat and the nomination that 
followed. It was midnight : in a few hours all would 
be over : whatever was done must be done quickly. 
It is on the night before a battle that the battle is 
planned, though it be not till the morning that it is fought 
and won. It is of the preceding council of war that our 
new witness has somewhat to relate — not as a reporter 
of what somebody else said or did not say, but of what 
he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. 

This is the late Mr. James A. Briggs, a man of the 
best New England stock, a nephew of Governor Briggs 
of Massachusetts, a lawyer by profession, who had lived 
for twenty years in Cleveland, during which time he 
became an intimate personal and political friend of Mr. 
Chase. In 1857 he removed to New York, having his 

Mr. Lincoln was nominated, and Mr. Greeley had returned to 
New York to hear the shouts for "Old Abe," he was not satis- 
fied till he had put himself on record [in The Tribune of 
May 21st, 1860] thus: " I think that Judge Bates, to whom I never 
spoke nor wrote, would have been the wiser choice." This at 
least frees him from the responsibility of having forced Mr. 
Lincoln upon the Convention. 


home in Brooklyn, from which, on November 1st, 1859, 
he wrote to Mr. Lincoln to come and lecture in Plymouth 
Church. This was the lecture that was finally given 
in Cooper Institute. Mr. Briggs was an ardent Repub- 
lican, and went to the Chicago Convention in hope to 
promote the nomination of his political chief. Here he 
was in a position to have a full inside view of the move- 
ments of the several divisions of the party that were 
strugghng for the ascendency, and afterwards felt it to 
be his duty to put on record an account of what passed 
under his own observation. It is brief, but right to 
the point. He says : 

' ' I have always thought that Mr. Lincoln was more 
indebted to Mr. David Dudley Field for his nomination 
for the Presidency at Chicago in 1860, than to any 
other one man. I was present at that Convention 
as the friend of Mr. Chase, but soon found that the 
nomination was to go either to Mr. Seward or to Mr. 
Lincoln, and then I was for Mr. Lincoln. 

' ' I was at the Tremont House, with Mr. Field, Mr. 
Greeley, Mr. George Opdyke, and Mr. Hiram Barney. 
The night before the nomination, about midnight, Mr. 
Greeley came into Mr. Field's room, and threw himself 
down with a feeling of despair, and said ' All is lost ; 
we are beaten ! ' " 

[Mr. Greeley was subject to such sudden depression, 
and the events of the day, and the anticipations of the 
morrow, had tried him to the utmost. He had been all 


the evening in a state of unnatural excitement, * which 
ended in his sending his message to New York, from 
which he came back to Mr. Field's room to throw him- 
self down in a state of collapse, till a strong man lifted 
him up and set him on his feet, and breathed new life 
into him. Who it was that rendered that kindly office, 
I leave to Mr. Briggs to tell :] "To Mr. Greeley's 

cry 'All is lost ! ' Mr. Field rephed ' No, all is not lost ! 
Let us up and go to work ! ' His energetic voice and 
manner seemed to inspire Mr. G-reeley with new life, 
and both immediately went out to renew the struggle. 
Mr. Field particularly worked with a determined will 

* When I was looking about for sources of information, Senator 
Dawes directed me to Mr. Edward R. Tinker, of North Adams, 
Mass. , who was a member of the Convention, and could speak 
from his personal knowledge. Mr. Tinker went on to Chicago 
in the train with some of the delegates from New York, and 
was with them in their quarters in the Tremont House, in what 
INIr. Weed called "The Conspirators' Room," and was in and 
out at all hours of day and night. He says that on the night 
before the vote Mr. Greeley was in a very irritable mood. As 
the hours drew on, he became more and more excited over the 
impending defeat, the blame of which he charged upon others, 
telling them that they were throwing away their votes, at which 
he raged and stormed, and finally burst away and rushed to the 
telegraph office to send a message to New York that Mr. Seward 
would be nominated in the morning, and then, completely 
exhausted, returned to Mr. Field's room, where he found a man 
who was not so easily dismayed. 


and resolute purpose that seemed to know no such word 
as fail. He went from delegation to delegation, and as 
he was from New York, Mr. Seward's own State, and 
yet was opposed to his nomination, he had great influ- 
ence in turning the tide of feeling in favor of Mr. Lin- 
coln. Before morning they returned in high spirits, 
when Mr. Field said : ' The work is done ! Mr. Lincoln 
will be nominated ! ' Mr. Greeley seemed equally con- 
fident — a confidence which was justified by the event. 
But it was in those midnight hours that the work was 
done. That was the turning-point in that memorable 
Convention, and therefore a turning-point in the politi- 
cal history of our country. For the issue then reached, 
I have always been convinced, from what passed under 
my own eyes, that more was due to Mr. Field than to 
any other man." 

Here then at last we seem to have come to the 
Transformation Scene — to the time, the place and the 
actors. This is the missing link in the history which 
connects and explains all the rest. We can well under- 
stand that the delegations were debating among them- 
selves the means of making some combination without 
which there was not, and could not be, any hope of 
success, wavering this way and that, when the sudden 
inrush of two determined men put an end to the divis- 
ions, and led them to form in the ranks that led to vic- 
tory. I have read many Lives of Lincoln, and have 


never found any other explanation of what transpired 
that night that was satisfactory or even plausible. 

This testimony of Mr. Briggs is of the direct and 
positive kind that cannot be controverted except by 
impeaching a man's intelligence or his veracity ; and 
coming right after that of Mr. Raymond, the one con- 
firms the other, answering to the requirement of the 
old Mosaic law, that ' ' in the mouth of two witnesses 
every word shall be established." 

But there is other evidence still, for where brave 
men lead the way, the hesitating and the doubting 
follow ; and it was not long before what was going on 
was whispered from chamber to chamber, from dele- 
gation to delegation, so that when the morning dawned 
there was a general premonition of what was to 
come. As the delegates poured out of the hotels on 
their way to the Convention, the elder Blair, the most 
sagacious politician in the country, turned to Mr. Field 
and asked what he thought would be the result ? and 
when he said, "Mr. Lincoln will be nominated," the 
old man answered in a very positive way, " Well, if 
ive succeed, it will be oiving to you ! ". And so spoke 
New England in the voice of the gallant Anson Bur- 
lingame, who, after the decisive vote was taken, came to 
Mr. Field, as he was sitting on the platform, and said, 
' ' You have nominated Mr. Lincoln : now help us to 
nominate the ' bobbin-bo}' ' " [Governor Banks, of Mas- 
sachusetts] ' ' for Vice-President ! " 


Nor was this the observation of but a few indi- 
viduals : it was common talk among the delegates, 
and those who had watched the course of events. 
In the train that brought home many of the mem- 
bers of the Convention, and others who had been spec- 
tators, was Mr. Clarkson N. Potter, of New York, after- 
wards Member of Congress, who told his friends that 
he saw and heard one and another pointing to Mr. 
Field, and whispering, ' ' That is the man who nom- 
inated Lincoln ! " This general rumor is a sort of 
presumptive evidence, which, when confirmed by divers 
witnesses, outweighs any number of negatives, which 
merely tell what this or that man did not see or hear, 
and, in the absence of all opposing testimony, must 
be considered to decide the question. 

If I thus recall a chapter of unwritten history, it is 
not that I wish to magnify the part of an individual ; 
nor that he ever made any claim to recognition on 
account of it, (a brave soldier is more concerned to win 
the battle than to dispute for the honors of victory) ; but 
that, since it has fallen to me to write the life of one 
who had a part in this making of history, I put on 
record the testimony of others, as but just to the mem- 
ory of him who has passed beyond the reach of any 
earthly ambition. 



It is a brave man who can take the consequences 
of his own acts. Mr. Field had helped to nominate 
Lincoln, and to elect him, and he must bear his share 
of the responsibility. The country was now to face a 
crisis such as it had never faced before. The clouds 
began to roll up from the South and gather all round 
the horizon, till many at the North were frightened at 
the prospect, and loudly declared that the election of 
Lincoln was at once a blunder and a crime ! 

Against all such harsh judgments, or fearful por- 
tents, Mr. Field stood firm, prepared to show that it 
was neither a blunder nor a crime ; that it was the 
only course that could bring a peace worth having, and 
re-establish the Republic on everlasting foundations. 

It was something to have the issue clearly drawn. 
Mr. Seward had predicted an "irrepressible conflict," but 
all good men joined in the prayer, ' ' Give peace in our 
time, O Lord ! " But how could the conflict be kept 
back much longer ? The country was growing ; the 
population was increasing by millions, and the South, 


with its "peculiar institutions," demanded the right of 
way wherever it would go. Forty years before an 
effort had been made to divide the country by the line 
of the Missouri Compromise, but that had been broken 
down, and now the South claimed the right, not only 
to march Westward up to a fixed parallel of lati- 
tude, but beyond it along the mighty courses of the 
Mississippi and the Missouri, stopped by no barrier of 
river, or plain, or mountain, till it reached the Western 

But the election of Lincoln was a danger-signal — a 
warning not to go too far ! Not that he had any design 
to encroach upon the South. He had no such aversion 
to slavery as a New Englander might have, for he was 
born in a slave State, and looked upon slavery as a con- 
dition for which the present generation was not responsi- 
ble, and that was to be tolerated where it existed before. 
He would observe rehgiously all the compromises of 
the Constitution. But beyond that he could not, and 
would not, go : he would not do violence to his com- 
mon sense in regarding slavery as belonging to an 
ideal state of society ; nor was he ready to see the Free 
States of America converted into a great Slave Empire ! 
But the South was not wilhng to wait to see the new 
President installed in office : it looked upon his election 
as a threat, which it must meet in a tone of defiance. 
It demanded as the price of its remaining in the Union 
new concessions, new guarantees, for slavery ; that no 

"peace at any price !" 143 

bounds should be set to its extension now, or in any- 
future time. This was putting the pride of the North 
to the utmost strain. Yet such was the desire for 
peace — peace at any price — that it was willing to sub- 
mit to almost any conditions. Even Mr. Seward, 
opposed in theory to slavery as he was, was ready that 
we should bind ourselves hand and foot by such an iron 
chain as this : "No amendment shall be made to the 
Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress 
the power to abolish or interfere within any State 
with the domestic institutions " [a synonym for slavery] 
"thereof, including that of persons," [how carefully 
they avoided the word slaves !^ "held to labor or ser- 
vice by the laws of said State " ! 

And this resolution was adopted in the Senate by a 
two-thirds vote, 24 to 13, and in the House of Repre- 
sentatives by a little more than two-thirds, 133 to 65. 
Could the spirit of concession farther go ? 

But the South would not be pacified ; it would not 
listen to anything. Scarcely had the result of the elec- 
tion been declared — to be exact, only six weeks later, 
December 24th — when South Carolina, which John C. 
Calhoun had long since familiarized with the idea of 
separation, took the lead, as if ambitious of the place 
of honor, in a formal act of its Legislature, by which 
it seceded from the Union, and the Governor issued 
his proclamation declaring South Carolina to be a 
* ' separate, sovereign, and independent State ! " 


This was a revolution, but one for which she had 
been long preparing. Her public men did not hesitate 
to say that it was but the culmination of events for a 
long course of years. Mr. Rhett, an old politician, said, 
' ' The secession of South Carolina is not the event of 
a day. It was not caused by Lincoln's election, nor 
by the non-execution of the fugitive slave law. It is 
a matter which has been gathering for thirty years. 
The election of Lincoln was only the last straw that 
broke the camel's back. But it was not the only one. 
The back was nearly broken before ! " 

With such unpleasant memories of the past, it is not 
surprising that South Carolina felt the step she took to 
be a happy deliverance. She did not stand upon the 
order of her going. If she had waited a little longer, 
with a show of hesitation and reluctance, it would have 
given a touch of formality and of grace to her good-bye 
to the sisters with whom she had been so long asso- 
ciated. But she had no farewells to give, and no tears 
to shed. So far from this, she was in a happy mood, 
and danced away with that "gayety of heart" with 
which France ten years later rushed into war with 
Germany ! The parallel might be carried still further ! 

The business of secession once begun, the work went 
on briskly. Two weeks later, with the opening of the 
new year, 1861, Mississippi followed the example of 
South Carolina. Two days later Alabama and Florida 
locked arms and went out together ; to be followed 


near the close of the month by Louisiana ; and last of 
all, on the 5th of February, by Texas, the mighty State, 
for which we had gone to war with Mexico. Georgia, 
which was kept back by Alexander H. Stephens, came 
a little later and filled up the procession of States that 
marched out of the Union before Mr. Lincoln had taken 
his seat in the Presidential chair ! 

But the procession was not yet full. Virginia, the 
mother of Presidents, stood on her dignity, not to be run 
away with by less important States, and chose to act 
for herself. "With the old memories of the Revolution 
in her heart, she lingered, and finally decided, before 
taking the last step, to make one more effort for peace, 
by way of a friendly Conference in Washington, to 
see if it were not possible to agree on some method of 
adjustment. It was a novel proceeding to go outside of 
Congress, to submit grave questions to a body having 
no legal authority. But the North did not stand upon 
formalities, if only it might bring peace, and it responded 
promptly to the call. As none of the seceded States 
were parties to it, only twenty-one States were rep- 
resented, but these sent 133 delegates — a body that was 
not only respectable in numbers, but one of great dig- 
nity in the men that composed it, and that was pre- 
sided over by one who was himself a Virginian, as 
well as a former President of the United States, Mr. 
John Tyler. A committee composed of one from each 
State, twenty-one in all, was appointed "with authority 


to report what they might deem right, necessary, and 
proper to restore harmony and preserve the Union." 
Of this committee Mr. Field was a member, a position 
to which he was entitled as the chairman of the New 
York delegation. Thus he was forced into the place of 
a leader, though the part of the North was not to pro- 
pose, but to listen. As it had only exercised its right- 
ful authority in voting for a President, and was satisfied 
with the result, it had nothing to say except to repeat, 
with increased emphasis, its readiness and determination 
to stand by the compromises of the Constitution. 

But that was not enough, for the South had been 
going through an education in its ideas of slavery, until 
it came to regard it as so far from being an evil that it 
was a positive good, an institution that was according 
to the fitness of things ; ordained by nature itself, as 
shown in the natural superiority of the white race. 
Thus exalted by conscious greatness, the men of the 
South were not at all abashed at the boldness 
of the undertaking to make radical changes in the 
Constitution, that had been framed by Washington, 
Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton. Slavery must be 
" unconfined " ; it must have full sweep. Into whatever 
territory a master emigrated, he must have freedom 
to take his slaves with him ; and if, when the popula- 
tion was sufficient for statehood, the majority were 
for slavery, slavery they should have, no power on 
earth withstanding ! 


And there must be a new Fugitive Slave Law, 
with all the modern improvements ! If a master 
wished to go to Boston, he must be free to take his 
black man-servant with him, and if the latter, snuffing 
the air of liberty, were to run away, the city police 
must find him and deliver him up to his master ! He 
might not be hunted with bloodhounds, but all the min- 
ions of the law would be on his track ; and if he could 
not be found, the city or State must pay for his loss ! 

Even this would not satisfy the South. What most 
galled the Southern people was not the loss of a slave 
now and then, but the fact that they could not bring 
the North to see things as they saw them. They must 
do violence to our consciences, compelling us to accept 
as right what we believed to be wrong ; to call evil 
good and good evil. This was asking us to stifle 
the instincts of humanity. They might as well have 
demanded that we should stop the beating of our hearts. 

Had it been possible to comply with these conditions, 
even then the seceding States gave no promise of return 
to the Union, nor had their sister States any authority to 
make it for them. All that could be said was that they 
would (if they saw fit) take it into respectful (or not 
respectful) consideration. They might come back, or 
they might not even take notice of the invitation. But 
if they did return, it would not be by any means as 
prodigal sons, with penitence for the past, or promise 
for the future. If they came at all, it would be as mas- 


ters in the old baronial halls. If there was any repent- 
ing to be done, it must be by those upon whose tame 
and cowardly spirits they looked down with just con- 

These were indeed hard conditions of peace, conditions 
that we cannot read, even at this distance of time, with- 
out being almost ashamed of our country. And yet to 
this degree of humiliation a large portion of the North — 
God forgive them ! — were ready to submit. 

Mr. Field had hstened with as much patience as he 
could to these extraordinary proposals. But while he 
listened the fire burned, and he could not keep silence. 
Time was passing. It was the 20th of February, and 
in less than two weeks there would be a new govern- 
ment in the Capitol. He must give warning of the 
impending danger. With perfect courtesy to his oppo- 
nents, but with a firmness that could not but command 
their respect, he set forth the position of the North in a 
speech which ought to be preserved in every historical 
library, as it was an historic scene, the last effort for 
peace before the breaking out of the most terrible 
civil war of modern times ! As he rose to speak he 
felt the gravity of the situation. It was not in his 
nature to be a prophet of evil ; but lightly as some 
talked of it, he felt that the government, and the coun- 
try itself, were in danger of going to pieces, and he 
spoke with a sad sincerity, which those who heard 
remembered long after. He did not assume to speak 


for others, but his own position he would not have 
misunderstood, and he ' ' cleared the air " in the very 
first sentence : ' ' For myself, I state at the outset that 
I am indisposed to the adoption, at the present time, 
of any amendment of the Constitution." This was 
sufficiently explicit. And now he proceeds to give the 
Reason Why : 

To change the original law of thirty millions of people 
is a measure of the greatest importance. Such a measure 
should never be undertaken in any case, or under any circum- 
stances, without great deliberation and the highest moral cer- 
tainty that the country will be benefited by the change. In this 
case, as yet, there has been no deliberation ; certainly not so far 
as the delegates from New York are concerned. The resolutions 
of Virginia were passed on the 19th of January. New York 
( her Legislature being in session ) appointed her delegates on the 
5th of February. We came here on the 8th. Our delegation 
was not full for a week. The amendments proposed were sub- 
mitted on the 15th. It is now the 20th of the month. We are 
urged to act at once, without further deliberation or delay. 

To found an Empire, or to make a Constitution for a peo- 
ple, on which so much of their happiness depends, requires the 
sublimest effort of the human intellect, the greatest impartiality 
in weighing opposing interests, the utmost calmness in judg- 
ment, the highest prudence in decision. It is proposed that we 
shall proceed to amend in essential particulars a Constitution 
which, since its adoption by the people of this country, has 
answered all its needs, with a haste which to my mind is un- 
necessary, not to say indecent. 

Have any defects been discovered in this Constitution ? I 
have listened most attentively to hear those defects mentioned. 


if any such have been found to exist. I liave heard none. No 
change in the judicial department is suggested. The exercise 
of judicial powers under the Constitution has been satisfactory 
enough to the South. The judicial department is to be left un- 
touched, as I think it should be. You propose no change in the 
form of the executive or legislative departments. These you 
leave as they were before. What you do propose is : to place 
certain limitations upon the legislative power ; to prohibit legis- 
lation upon certain important subjects ; to give new guarantees 
to slavery ; and this, as you admit, before any person has been 
injured, before any right has been infringed. 

There is high authority, which ought to be satisfactory to 
you — that of the President of the United States, now in office ! — 
for the statement that Congress never undertook to pass an im- 
constitutional law affecting the interests of slavery except the 
Missouri Compromise. Well, you have repealed that I You have 
also every assurance that can be given, that the Administration 
about coming into power proposes no interference with your in- 
stitutions within State limits. Can you not be satisfied with 
that ? No ! You propose these amendments in advance. You 
insist upon them, and you declare that you must and will have 
them, or certain consequences must follow. But, gentlemen of 
the Soutli, what reasons do you give for entering upon this 
hasty, this precipitate action? You say it is the prevailing 
sense of insecui'ity, the anxiety, the apprehension you feel lest 
something awful, something unconstitutional, may be done. 
Yet the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Seddon) tells us that Vir- 
ginia is able to protect all who reside within her limits, and that 
she will do so at all hazards. Why not tell us the truth outright ? 
It is not action under the Constitution or in Congress that you 
would prevent. What is it then ? You are determined to pre- 
vent the agitation of the subject. Let us understand each 


other. You have called us here to prevent future discussion of 
the subject of slavery. It is that you fear — it is that you 
would avoid — discussion in Congress, in the State Legislatures, 
in the newspapers, in popular assemblies. 

[The reader will observe the peculiar style of the 
speaker, in which he argues by questions, short and 
sharp, that he rains upon his opponents as if from a 
battery or a mitrailleuse, to which they can make no 
reply — a mode of attack upon dangerous sophistry that 
has been held in honor from the days of Socrates. ] 

But will the plan you propose, the course you have marked 
out, accomplish your purpose ? Will it stop discussion ? Will 
it lessen it in the slightest degree ? Can you not profit by the 
experience of the past ? Can you prevent an agitation of this 
subject, or any other, by any constitutional provisions ? No ! 
Look at the details of your scheme. You propose through the 
Constitution to require payment for fugitive slaves — to make 
the North pay for them. You are thus throwing a lighted fire- 
brand not only into Congress, but into every State Legislature, 
into every county, city, and village in the land. 

This one proposition to pay for fugitive slaves will prove a 
subject for almost irrepressible agitation. You say to the State 
Legislatures, ' ' You shall not obstruct the rendition of fugitives 
from service, but you may legislate in aid of their rendition " — 
thereby implying that the latter kind of legislation will be their 
duty. You thus provide a new subject for discussion and agi- 
tation for all these Legislatures. In the border States especially, 
such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, you will find this agitation 
fiercer than any you have hitherto witnessed, of which you 
complain so much. You will add to the flame until it becomes 
a consuming fire. 


You propose to stop the discussion of these questions by the 
press. Do you really believe that in this age of the world you 
can accomplish that? You know little of history if such is 
your belief. Free speech is stronger than constitutions and dy- 
nasties. You might as well put your hands over the crater of a 
burning volcano, to extinguish its flames, as to attempt to stop 
discussion by such an amendment of the Constitution. Stop dis- 
cussion of great questions affecting the policy, strength, and 
prosperity of the Government ? You cannot do it I You ought 
not to attempt to do it ! 

I wish to speak kindly upon this subject. I entertain no un- 
friendly feelings toward any section. But while you are thus 
complaining of us in the free States, because we agitate and dis- 
cuss the question of slavery, are you not, in a great degree, re- 
sponsible for this agitation yourselves ? Do you not discuss it 
and agitate it ? Do you not make slavery the subject of your 
speeches in the South, and in the presence of your slaves ? Do 
you not make charges against us, which in your cooler moments 
you know to be unfounded ? Do you not charge us in the hear- 
ing of your slaves with the design of interfering with slavery in 
the States, with a design to free them if we succeed ? 

All this yovi have done, and if discontent, anxiety, and mis- 
trust exist among your people, such discussion has contributed 
more to produce them than all the agitation of the slavery 
question at the North. But your amendments are not pointed 
at your disciissions ! That kind of agitation may go on as 
before. It is only the discussion on the other side that you 
would repress ! 

If the condition of affairs among you is as you represent it, 
have you no duties to perform ? Is there nothing for you to do ? 
Should you not tell your people what we have assured you upon 
every proper occasion, that the Republican party has always re- 


pudiated the intention of interfering with slavery, or any other 
Southern institution, within the States ? This you all know. 
Have you told your people this ? If you would explain it to 
them now, would they not be quieted ? Do not reply that they 
believe we have such a purpose. Who is responsible for that be- 
lief ? Have you not continually asserted before your people, 
notwithstanding every assurance we could give you to the con- 
trary, that we are determined to interfere with your rights ? It 
is thus the responsibility rests with you. 

Although such is my conviction, supported, as I think, by all 
the evidence, I am still for peace. Show me now any proposi- 
tion that will secure peace, and I will go for it if I can. We 
came here to take each other by the hand, to compare views, 
explain, consult. We meet you in the most reasonable spirit. 
Anything that honorable men may do, we vnll do. 

We will go back to 1845 when you admitted Texas ; back to 
the Missouri Compromise of 1820. You certainly can complain 
of nothing previous to that time. If, since then, there has been 
any law of Congress passed which is unjust toward you, which 
infringes upon your rights, which operates unfairly upon your 
interests, we will join you in securing its repeal. We will go 
further. If you will point ovit any act of the Republican party 
which has given you just cause for apprehension, we will give 
yovi all security against it. We will do anything hut amend the 
fundamental law of the government. Before we do that we 
must be convinced of its necessity. 

When you propose essential changes in the Constitution you 
must expect that they will be subjected to a critical examina- 
tion; if not here, certainly elsewhere. I object to those pro- 
posed by the majority of the committee — 

1. For what they contain, and 

2. For what they do not contain. 


I do not propose to criticise the language used in your propo- 
sitions of amendment. That would be trifling. I think the 
language very infelicitous, and, if I supposed those propositions 
were to become part of the Constitution, I should think many 
vei'bal changes indispensable ; But I pass by all that, and come 
at once to the substance. 

I object to the propositions. Sir, because they iv&iild put into 
the Constitution new expressions relating to slavery, which %oere 
sedulously kept out of it by the framers of that instrument — left 
out of it, not accidentally, but because, as Madison said, they 
did not ivish posterity to linow from the Constitution that the 
institution existed. 

But I object further, because the propositions contain 
guarantees for slavery, which our fathers did not and would not 
give. In 1787 the Convention was held at Philadelphia to estab- 
lish our form of government. Washington was its presiding 
officer, whose name was in itself a bond of union. It was soon 
after the close of a long and bloody war. Shoulder to shoulder 
— through winter snows and beneath summer suns — through 
such sufferings and sacrifices as the world had scarcely ever 
witnessed — the people of these States, under Providence, had 
fought and achieved their independence. Fresh from the field, 
their hearts full of patriotism, determined to perpetuate the 
liberties they had achieved, the people sent their delegates into 
the Convention to frame a Constitution which would preserve to 
their posterity the blessings they had won. 

These delegates, under the presidency of "Washington, aided 
by the counsels of Franklin and Madison, considered the very 
questions with which we are now dealing, and they refused to put 
into the Constitution which they were making such guarantees 
to slavery as you now ask from their descendants. That is my 
interpretation of their action. Either these guarantees are in 


the Constitution, oi- they are not. If they are there, let them 
remain there. If they are not there, I can conceive of no possi- 
ble circumstances under which I would consent to admit them. 

Mr. MoREHEAD : Not to save the Union ? 

Mr. Field : No, su* — no ! That is my comprehensive answer. 

Mr. MOREHEAD : Then you would let the Union slide ? 

Mr. Field : No, never I I would let slavery slide, and save 
the Union. Greater things than this have been done. This year 
has seen slavery abolished in all the Russias. 

Mr. Roman: Do you think it better to have the free and 
slave States separated, and to have the Union dissolved ? 

Mr. Field : I would sacrifice all I have — lay down my life, 
for the Union. But I will not give these guarantees to slavery. 
If the Union cannot be preserved without them, it can not long 
be preserved with them. Let me ask you if you will recommend 
to the people of the Southern States, in case these guarantees 
are conceded, to accept them, and abide by their obligations to 
the Union ? You answer. Yes ! Do you suppose you can induce 
the seceded States to return ? You answer. We do not know ! 
What will you yourselves do if, after all, they refuse ? Your 
answer is, " We will go with them!" 

Then we are to understand that this is the language of the 
slave States, which have not seceded, toward the free States : 
' ' If you will support our amendments, we will try to induce the 
seceded States to return to the Union. We rather think we can 
induce them to return ; but, if we can not, then we will go with 
them ! " 

What is to be done by the Government of the United States 
while you are trying this experiment ? The seceded States are 
organizing a government with all its departments. They are 
levying taxes, raising military forces, and engaging in commerce 
with foreign nations, in plain violation of the provisions of the 


Constitution. If this condition of affairs lasts six months lon- 
ger, France and England will recognize theirs as a government 
de facto. Do you suppose we will submit to this, that we can 
submit to it ? 

I speak only for myself. I undertake to commit no one but 
myself; but I here declare that an Administration which fails to 
assert by force its authority over the whole country will be a 
disgrace to the nation. There is no middle ground; we must 
keep this country unbroken, or ive give it up to ruin ! 

We are told that one State has a hundred thousand men 
ready for the field, and if we do not assent to these propositions 
she will fight us. If I believed this to be true, I would not con- 
sent to treat on any terms. 

From the ports of these seceded States have sailed all the fili- 
bustering expeditions which have heretofore disgraced the land. 
Their new government will enter upon a career of conquest un- 
less prevented. Even if these propositions of amendment are 
received and submitted to the people, I see nothing but war in 
the future, unless those States are quickly brought back to their 

I do not propose to use harsh language. I will not stigmatize 
this Convention as a political body, or assert that this is a move- 
ment toward a revolution counter to a political revolution just 
accomplished by the elections. Nor will I speak of personal 
liberty bills, or of Northern State legislation, about which so 
much complaint has been made. If I went into those questions, 
much might be said on both sides. We might ask you whether 
you had not thrown stones at us I 

[Then, turning to the second part of his argument, 
Mr. Field wished his Southern brethren to understand 
that, if they were to enter upon amendments of the 


Constitution, the North had concessions to ask as well 
as to give ; that it might at least demand protection 
for its citizens when they visited the South. At present 
a man from Massachusetts or Vermont could hardly- 
cross the line without danger of insult or of violence, 
unless he professed entire satisfaction with the patriar- 
chal institution. If he saw slaves sold on the block or 
flogged on a plantation, he must suppress liis indig- 
nation, or he would be mobbed ! Mr. Hoar, an emi- 
nent citizen of Boston, who Avent to Charleston to attend 
to a legal case invohnng the rights of a Northerner, 
was driven out of the city, and hardly escaped without 
a personal attack. With the memory of such treatment 
in mind, Mr. Field proceeds : ] 

As to what is left out in the plan of reconciliation, the 
majority report altogether omits those guarantees which, if 
the Constitution is to be amended, ought to be there before any 
others that have been suggested. I mean those which will 
secure protection in the South to the citizens of the free States, 
and tliose which will protect the Union against futiure attempts 
at secession ; guarantees which are contained in the propositions 
that I have submitted as proper to be added to the report of the 

But, Sir, I must insist that, if amendments to the Constitution 
are required at all, it is better that they should be proposed and 
considered in a General Convention. Although I do not regard 
this Conference as exactly unconstitutional, it is certainly a bad 
precedent. It is a body nominally composed of representatives 
of the States, and is called to urge upon Congress propositions 


of amendment to the Constitution. Its recommendations will 
have something of force in them ; it will undoubtedly be claimed 
for them in Congress that they possess such force. I do not like 
to see an irregular body sitting by the side of a legislative body 
and attempting to influence its action. 

Again, all the States are not here. Oregon and California — 
the great Pacific dominions, with all their wealth and power, 
present and prospective — have not been consulted at all. Will 
it be replied that all the States can vote upon the amendment ? 
That is a very different thing from proposing them. California 
and Oregon may have interests of their own to protect, proposi- 
tions of their own to make. Is it right for us to act without 
consulting them ? I will go for a Convention, because I believe 
it is the best way to avoid civil war. 

Mr. WiCKLiFFE: If a General Convention is held, what 
amendments will you propose ? 

Mr. Field : I have already said that I have none to propose. 
I am satisfied with the Constitution as it is. 

Mr. WiCKLlFFE: Then, for God's sake, let us have no Gen- 
eral Convention ! 

Mr. Field : I think the gentleman's observation is not logi- 
cal. He wants amendments, I do not. But I say, if we are to 
have them, let us have them through a General Convention. 

And I say, further, that this is the quickest way to secure 
them. If a General Convention is to be called, let it be held 
at once, as soon as possible. If gentlemen from eight of the 
States in this Conference represent truly the sentiment of their 
people, as I will assume they do, there is no other alternative. 
We must have either the arbitrament of reason or the arbitra- 
ment of the sword. The gloomy future alone can tell whether 
the latter is to be the one adopted. I greatly fear it is. The 
conviction presses upon me in my waking and my sleeping 


hours. Only last night I dreamed of marching armies and news 
from the seat of war 1 [A laugh from the Kentucky and Vir- 
ginia benches.] 

The gentlemen laugh. I thought they, too, had fears of war. 
I thought their threats and prophecies were sincere. God grant 
that I may not hereafter have to say, " I had a dream that was 
not all a dream ! " 

For my own State and for the North I have only to say that 
they are devoted to the Union. The love for the Union is the 
strongest of our political affections. New York will stand by 
the flag of the country while there is a star left in its folds. If 
the Union should be reduced to thirteen States — if it should be 
reduced to three States — if all should fall away but herself, she 
will stand alone to bear and uphold that honored flag, and 
recover the Union of which it is the pledge and symbol. God 
grant that time may never come, but that New York may stand 
side by side with Kentucky and Virginia to the end ! That we 
may all stand by the Union, negotiate for it, fight for it, if the 
necessity comes, is my wish, my hope, my prayer. The Consti- 
tution made for us by Washington, Franklin, Madison, and 
Hamilton, and the wise and patriotic men who labored with 
them, is good enough for us. We stand for the Country, for the 
Union, for the Constitution. 

Was there ever a more manly appeal to the sense 
of justice, as well as to the love of country that might 
linger in the hearts of those whose fathers had fought 
for American independence ? Did it call for any sacri- 
fice of interest or of pride on the part of the South ? 
None whatever. Was there a tone of threatening to 
inflame the proud Southern spirit ? Not the slightest ! 
He who pleaded so earnestly for peace spoke more in 


sorrow than in anger — not as to enemies, but as to those 
who were, or ought to be, friends and brothers. Thirty 
years before Mr. Webster had a vision of a conflict, but 
only as it appeared far off on the horizon, and in horror 
he put it out of his sight, only leaving the impression 
in these sad but immortal words that now seemed pro- 
phetic : "When my eyes shall be turned to behold for 
the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him 
shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of 
a once glorious Union ; on States dissevered, discord- 
ant, belligerent ; on a land rent with civil feuds, or 
drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood ! " His prayer 
was answered, and the black cloud disappeared, but 
only to reappear in the next generation. Mr. Field 
was haunted by the vision of a "gloomy future," 
that would not let him sleep while his country was 
going to ruin. He dreamed of ' ' marching armies and 
news from the seat of war" — the very mention of which 
in the Convention only provoked the representatives of 
Virginia and Kentucky to laughter. No wonder that 
such light-hearted men had nothing to propose, or even 
to consider soberly, when they could not believe that 
danger was nigh. The mirthful Virginians who could 
not repress their merriment at Mr. Field's suggestion of 
a possible conflict, may have recalled it with an altered 
feeling when the sound of cannon was heard on the other 
side of the Potomac, and the fair fields of Virginia were 
"drenched in fraternal blood." 


Alas for the lessons of human experience ! In the 
history of nations, as in the lives of individuals, we are 
constantly reminded of what "might have been." It 
was the greatest crisis in American history. The coun- 
tr}^ stood on the brink of civil war. If in that awful 
hour the South had listened to the warning of one of its 
truest friends, what might have been ! One moment's 
pause ! one step backward ! and all might have been 
saved ! And saved, not by any unmanly concession ; 
by any humiliating surrender ! It would have been 
Peace with Honor : with confidence restored and friend- 
ship made stronger than ever ! True, when the con- 
flict came, the sons of the South fought bravely, 
for they had the blood of Revolutionary ancestors in 
their veins. But why should they have fought at all ? 
After four years of battle and of blood they had gained 
nothing and lost everything ! 

Here for the present we will let the curtain fall. It 
will be more pleasant to find, as we shall in a future 
chapter, that when the cruel war was over, and was 
followed by the Period of Reconstruction, Mr. Field 
was the strongest defender of the rights of the Southern 
States to be restored to their former place, as parts of 
' ' a glorious Union, " that should be henceforth and for- 
ever ' ' One and Inseparable ! " 



The war had come ! We had shut our eyes to it — 
we could not and would not believe it till the last. 
Even the secession of the Southern States was looked 
upon at first as merely ' ' sulking ; " the natural fret- 
fulness of "wayward sisters," whose pride had been 
wounded by their defeat in the election, but who needed 
only a little kindly soothing to be reconciled to the inev- 
itable. And so the warlike manifesto did not disturb 
the equanimity of the North, as it proceeded to the 
inauguration of the new President, trusting that when 
the thing was done, and could not be undone, the sober 
second thought of our Southern brethren would bring 
them back into the fold. But in twelve months we 
had been making history very fast. Not quite a year 
before, on almost the last day of winter, a man of giant 
frame from the West had made his first appearance in 
New York. And now reappears the same tall figure, 
though in another guise, standing erect in a carriage, 
as he rides down Broadway, bowing to the tens of 
thousands who crowd doors and windows and house- 
tops — not to see "great Csesar pass," but to see a man 


of the people, elected by the people, to rule over the 
people, of the Great Repubhc ! The joy of the occa- 
sion was a little — or not a little — damped a few days 
later by the fact that as he came nearer to Washington 
the cheers were not so unanimous, and that at the last 
moment he had to make his entrance at an unexpected 
hour, to escape a plot that had been laid for his assassi- 
nation ! But at last he was in the Capital, and had 
taken the oath of office, and was President of the 
United States. 

For a few weeks there was a lull of excitement — 
the "silence in heaven" before the thunder-burst — 
when from far down the Southern coast a dull boom 
"came rolling on the mnd," and instantly the land 
rose up at the sound of war. That first shot upon 
Sumter made an end forever of "Peace Conferences." 
The South had been warned that it "must have either 
the arbitrament of reason, or the arbitrament of the 
sword." It chose the latter, and had to take the conse- 
quences to the bitter end. 

A body of soldiers on parade is always a gay specta- 
cle, and Broadway was crowded more than ever when 
our gallant Seventh Regiment marched down on its 
way to the front, soon followed by regiments that came 
from under the shadow of Bunker Hill, all moving 
towards the Capital, which was for a time cut off from 
communication with the North, as if it were in a state 
of siege. 


The unaccustomed and troubled state of things was 
brought home to me by a Kttle personal experience. 
One evening a company of gentlemen were gathered 
round my brother Dudley's table, among whom was 
Vice-President Hamhn, a very important personage 
at that moment, when there had been a plot for the 
assassination of the President. Wishing to send word 
to Washington by a messenger, I was asked to try to 
work my way through. I got as far as Perryville, 
where I found the Seventh Regiment waiting for the 
means of transport. After some hours the ferryboat 
from Havre de Grace brought a crowd of refugees, 
among whom was Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, Jr., then a 
student at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Yir- 
ginia, where the political atmosphere had become too 
warm for him, and he started North, but found it not 
easy to get through Baltimore, as every stranger was 
an object of suspicion. Seeing the danger, he put on 
a bold face, as if he were a Southerner to the manner 
born, and drove to Barnum's Hotel, entered his name 
and took a room, by which the watchers were thrown 
off the scent, and then sauntered down the street till he 
could turn a corner, when he jumped into a cab and 
drove to the boat, which was just pushing off from the 
wharf. It was a narrow escape, and he warned me 
against rvmniug into the same danger, telling me that 
I could not possibly get through Baltimore, where I 
might be subjected to very rough treatment. Yielding 


to his earnest representations, we came back together 
to New York. To what dangers we might have been 
exposed we saw a few days after, when the Sixth 
Massachusetts Regiment, which was the first to respond 
to the call of the President, was stoned and fired upon 
in the streets of Baltimore, and had to force its way to 
the Capital. 

While such clouds were gathering Mr, Field could 
hardly restrain his impatience at the pettiness of politics 
that was sometimes forced upon him by the impor- 
tunity of others. At the outset of a new administra- 
tion there are always rivalries among the seekers for 
office. Mr. Lincoln knew how his nomination had 
been opposed by the supporters of Mr. Seward. But 
he was the most forgiving of men, and with his native 
generosity he had put Mr. Seward at the head of his 
Cabinet, which led some of his followers to push them- 
selves to the front with a haste that, to say the least, 
was not quite dignified. For this Mr. Field personally 
cared nothing ; but he was not willing that his brave 
companions in arms, the old Free Sellers, who had 
fought the battle against slavery, and formed the most 
radical and determined wing of the Repubhcan party, 
should come in as the rear-guard to a crowd of office- 
seekers. In justice to them he had a long interview 
with the President, in the presence of Mr. Seward, 
Mr, Chase, Mr. Welles, and Mr, Preston King, in 
which the matter was fully explained, and both parties 


were relieved of any further responsibility, Mr. Lincoln 
took in the situation at once, and with his usual tact 
settled these family differences, so as to unite all in the 
one purpose of saving the country — an issue that now 
extinguished the thought of anything else. As soon 
as the people of the United States found themselves 
plunged in a tremendous conflict, all personal interests 
gave way to the one thought of the common safety, 
and those who had been divided in their political rela- 
tions stood side by side in the ranks of war. 

Then events came thick and fast. An army recruited 
from the North was soon massed in Washington for 
its defence, while an opposing army mustered on the 
other side of the Potomac, where on the 21st of July, 
1861, was fought the battle of Bull Run, which, though 
not a great battle as compared with those of a later 
time, has a place in history as the first conflict of four 
terrible years. 

"When it was thus made evident that we were to 
have war in earnest, Mr. Field offered his services 
to Mr. Lincoln, who, recalling perhaps the saying, 
" Old men for counsel and young men for war," might 
well think that a man fifty-six years of age could be 
more useful to his country in sustaining the spirit of 
the people, than at the head of a regiment or a division. 

This is no place to enter into a history of the mighty 
events that followed. As I look back upon it, it seems 
like a horrible dream. Why then should we recall it ? 


It is more than thirty years since the last shot was 
fired, and a new generation has come upon the stage, to 
which it is all ancient historj\ Why should we revive 
such painful memories ? Not to reopen old wounds, 
but to heal them. Great historical events are seen 
best at a distance, when the passions they aroused are 
gone. That time has come. When the leaders of 
armies on both sides can meet on their fields of battle 
and rear monuments alike to friend and foe, we may 
well say that the old bitterness between the North and 
the South is past, and that we can now look upon the 
great struggle in the calm light of history. 

But at the time there was no "calm light of history." 
Events were all in the future. Was there a hope of 
success sufficient to justify a conflict so awful ? Some 
of our best friends abroad thought not. John Bright 
saw from the first that it was a death-struggle between 
Freedom and Slavery, and stood firm for the North, 
But Mr. Gladstone was so shocked by the horrors of 
the war that he looked upon it as one of the most awful 
tragedies in history. That a nation like ours — of one 
race and blood, all speaking the same language, and 
having the same religion — should go to war among 
ourselves, and engage in the work of mutual destruc- 
tion, seemed too horrible for belief, and he would fain 
shut his eyes from the sight ! Near the close of the 
second year of the war he wrote a letter to the late 
Mr. Cyrus W. Field, which is one long and passionate 


outcry, that shows his utter despair. The historical 
vahie of such a letter from such a source will justify 
its quotation here : 

11 Carlton House Terrace, November 27, 1863. 
Mjj dear Sir: I thank you very much for giving me the 
"Thirteen Months." * Will you think that 1 belie the expression 
I have used if I tell you candidly the effect this book has pro- 
duced upon my mind ? I think you will not ; I do not believe 
that you or your countrymen are among those who desire that 
any one should ixxrchase your favor by speaking what is false, 
or by forbearing to speak what is true. The book, then, 
impresses me even more deeply than I was before impressed, 
with the heavy responsibility you incur in persevering with this 
destructive and hopeless war at the cost of such dangers and 
evils to yourselves, to say nothing of your adversaries, or of an 
amount of misery inflicted upon Europe such as no other civil 
war in the history of man has ever brought upon those beyond 
its immediate range. Your frightful conflict may be regarded 
from many points of view. The competency of the Southern 
States to secede ; the rightfulness of their conduct in seceding, 
(two matters wholly distinct and a great deal too much con- 
founded) ; the natural reluctance of Northern Americans to 
acquiesce in the severance of the Union, and the apparent loss 
of strength and glory to their country ; the bearing of the sep- 
aration on the real interests and on the moral character of the 
North ; again, for an Englishman, its bearing with respect to 
British interests — all these are texts of which any one affords 
ample matter for reflection. Bvit I will only state, as regards 

* "Thirteen Months in the Rebel Army. By an impressed 
New Yorker." The letter is taken from the Life of Mr. Field by 
his daugliter. published by the Harpers. 


the last of them, that I, for one, have never hesitated to main- 
tain that, in my opinion, the separate and special interests of 
England were all on the side of the maintenance of the old 
Union ; and if I were to look at those interests alone, and had 
the power of choosing in what way the war should end, I would 
choose for by the restoration of the old Union this very day. 

But there is an aspect of the war which transcends every 
other : the possibility of success. The prospect of success will 
not justify a war in itself unjust, but the impossibility of suc- 
cess in a war of conquest of itself suffices to make it unjust ; 
when that impossibility is reasonably proved, all the horror, all 
the bloodshed, all the evil j)assions. all the dangers to liberty 
and order with which such a war abounds, come to lie at the 
door of the party which refuses to hold its hand and let its 
neighbor be. 

You know that in the opinion of Europe this impossibility 
has been proved. It is proved by every page of this book, 
and every copy of this book which circulates will carry the proof 
wider and stamp it more clearly. Depend upon it, to place the 
matter upon a single issue, you cannot conquer and keep down 
a country where the women behave like the women of New 
Orleans, where, as this author says, they would be ready to form 
regiments, if such regiments could be of use. And how idle it 
is to talk, as some of your people do, and some of ours, of the 
slackness with which the war has been carried on, and of its 
accounting for the want of success I You have no cause to be 
ashamed of your military character and efforts. You have 
proved what wanted no proof — your spirit, hardihood, immense 
powers, and rapidity and variety of resources. You have spent 
as much money, and have armed and perhaps have destroyed as 
many men, taking the two sides together, as all Europe spent 
in the first years of the Revolutionary war. Is not this enough ? 


Why have you not more faith in the future of a nation which 
should lead for ages to come the American continent ; which in 
five or ten years will make up its apparent loss or first loss of 
strength and numbers ; and which, with a career unencumbered 
by the terrible calamity and curse of slavery, will even from the 
first be liberated from a position morally and incurably false ; 
and will from the first enjoy a permanent gain in credit and 
character such as will much more than compensate for its tem- 
porary material losses ? I am, in short, a follower of General 
Scott. With him I say, "Wayward sisters, go in peace." 
Immortal fame be to him for his wise and courageous advice, 
amounting to a prophecy. 

Finally, you have done what men could do ; you have failed 
because you resolved to do what men could not do. Laws 
stronger than human will are on the side of earnest self-defence ; 
and the aim at the impossible, which in other things may be 
folly only, when the path of search is dark with misery and red 
with blood, is not folly only, but guilt to boot. I should not 
have used so largely in this letter the privileges of free utterance 
had I not been conscious that I vie with yourselves in my admir- 
ation of the founders of your republic, and I have no lurking 
sentiment either of hostility or of indifference to America ; nor, 
I may add, even then had I not believed that you are lovers of 
sincerity, and that you can bear even the rudenesss of its tongue. 
I remain, dear sir. very faithfully yours, 

W. E. Gladstone. 
Cyrus Field, Esq. 

This was a terrible indictment of our country, the 
more so as the words were those of a friend. But one 
assumption, which the writer took for granted — that 
it was impossible to subdue the Rebellion — has been 


answered by the event. Our country, with the help of 
God, did achieve the impossible ! 

But the moral question still remains, Was it a just 
war, or a wicked war ? the answer to which we rest 
on two points : that the conflict was, sooner or later, 
inevitable, (as we have shown by the estrangement 
between the North and the South, that grew year by 
year, till it culminated in the secession of eight States ; ) 
and that, at the same time, a separation into two 
countr'ies was impossible. 

If Mr. Gladstone would divide the United States into 
two nations, where would he draw the line ? There is 
no natural boundary between us — no dividing seas, nor 
chain of mountains. Switzerland is throned upon the 
Alps, whose snow-clad heights are a barrier against 
invasion from her more powerful neighbors. India is 
protected by the Himalayas from the descent of any 
modern Alexander the Great. But we have no such 
ramparts to defend us one from the other. Nor are the 
North and the South divided by great rivers, as Canada 
is separated from us by the St. Lawrence and the Lakes. 
We have indeed one mighty river that drains the Con- 
tinent ; that is to North America what the Amazon is 
to South America ; but it does not, like the Amazon, 
run Eastward to empty into the Atlantic, but South- 
ward to empty into the Gulf of Mexico. Wherefore 
the line of division that is drawn between our two 
Republics must be purely an artificial one. Nor could 


it be even a straight line, on one parallel of latitude, 
but, following the borders of the States, it would zigzag 
across the Continent. These irregular boundaries would 
not matter so long as the States were all one Country, 
for this very interlocking of territory would not be 
driving so many wedges into one another's sides, to split 
them apart, but so many bolts of iron to hold them 

But the situation would be changed utterly if the 
great expanse of territory were divided into two coun- 
tries, peopled by two powerful nations. The closer the 
contact the worse for both when there was one ever- 
present source of irritation, since on one side would 
be a Republic built on Freedom ; and on the other a 
Republic (?) built on Slavery ! The States of Ken- 
tucky and Ohio are divided only by the Ohio River. 
What power on earth could keep the slaves on one 
side from steahng across the water in dark nights to 
the land of liberty ? There would be no Fugitive Slave 
Law to bring them back. The movement Northward 
would be as constant as if it were led by the Polar Star. 
With such provocation, how long would the fiery Ken- 
tuckians restrain their anger ? The only protection for 
the South would be a standing army, a demonstration 
on one side that would provoke the same on the other, 
till the zigzag line across the continent would be like 
chain lightning, flasliing incessantly, and keeping two 
great nations forever on the verge of war ! Seeing all 


this, the men of the North, who were not "fire-eaters," 
and had no love of war for its own sake, said, Since 
the issue is inevitable, we may as well meet it in our 
day as leave it to our children. If the war must come, 
let it come now ! Better — a thousand times better — to 
have a war of four years, than a war, like that of the 
Spaniard and the Moor, to be handed down from gen- 
eration to generation ! 

Of all public men in the country, no one saw more 
clearly the inevitable issue than Mr. Lincoln. Long 
before he was President he said to himself and to 
others : "A house divided against itself cannot stand. 
I believe this government cannot endure permanently 
half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union 
to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — 
but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It wiU 
become all one tiling, or all the other. Either the oppo- 
nents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and 
place it where the public inind shall rest in the belief 
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction ; or its 
advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike 
lawful in all the States — old as well as new, North as 
well as South." 

What Mr. Lincoln saw from his point of view in 
the West, Mr. Field had seen even at an earlier date 
in the East. For years he had been fighting against 
the slave power, which was steadily advancing to the 
complete control of the government. At last the 


issue had come, to be settled, not by political conven- 
tions, but on the field of battle ; and if he could not 
march with the regiments, he could at least support 
them by keeping up the patriotic spirit at home. "^Again 
and again he went on to Washington, where he had 
frequent interviews with Mr. Lincoln and the mem- 
bers of his Cabinet, of whom he was most attracted to 
Mr. Chase and Mr. Stanton, as they were old Demo- 
crats, and as on them fell the chief burdens of the war. * 
They in turn found support in his unconquerable spirit, 

* Several years after — when the war was over — in an argu- 
ment before the Supreme Court of the United States on 
"Military Tribunals for Civilians," Mr. Field thus referred to 
Mr. Stanton : "It has been my fortune to be with him in some 
of the darkest hours of the tempest, and I can bear personal 
witness to his indomitable energy ; to the erect front which he 
maintained against all disaster ; to his industry, which knew 
no weariness ; and to his absolute devotion to the public service. 
Next to the President himself, and to the illustrious man who 
organized that gigantic system of finance which carried us 
through without a shock to the public service, to the amaze- 
ment of the Old World and the admiration of the New ; next, 
I say, to the President and his Minister of Finance, the country 
owes more to him than to any other civilian. His services may 
be for the time lost in the blaze of military glory. His labori- 
ous days, and the plain building where he passed them, are now 
eclipsed by the clouds that rolled from the fields of Vicksburg 
and Shiloh, from Gettysburg and Antietam, from Atlanta and 
Petersburg, but when history writes the record of this war, we 
shall find there, in light, the name of Edwin M. Stanton." 


that never gave up even in the darkest hour. After 
the great defeat of the Second Bull Run, Mr. Stanton 
telegraphed to him to come to Washington. He went 
on the same night, and going to his house early the 
next morning, he found the great War Secretary at 
breakfast, as calm as a man could be at that terrible 
moment, when despatches were pouring in with one 
continued tale of disaster ; that our army was fall- 
ing back, as if it might be compelled to seek for 
safety behind the defences of Wasliington ! Together 
they went over to the War Department, where they 
found the President, with Mr. Chase and General 
Halleck. It was no time to exchange compliments, 
and Mr. Field felt that he must speak plainly as to 
the anxiety that pervaded the North at the result 
of the campaign, in which McClellan, after leading 
a mighty host almost to the gates of Richmond, had 
been driven from the Peninsula, and Pope had been 
defeated in the very sight of the Capitol. At this free- 
dom of speech Mr. Lincoln took no offence, but turn- 
ing to Mr. Chase, said, "Mr. Field has a right to 
express himself freely : let us explain the situation to 
him," and sitting down before a large map that hung 
upon the wall, he gave a general outline of the plan of 
the campaign, which showed how perfectly he under- 
stood it, and how competent he was to give, not only 
suggestions, but, if need be, commands, as to the con- 
duct of the war. 


The same lesson lie had at another tune when he 
was invited to accompany the President, with Mr. Chase, 
Mr. Stanton, and Admiral Dahlgren, in a government 
steamer down the Potomac to Acquia Creek, where 
General McDowell was then in command, who was 
sent for to come off to the steamer, and came with one 
or two of his aides, all bespattered with mud, from 
riding over the horrible roads. But neither Mr. Lin- 
coln, nor anybody else, cared for the outward appear- 
ance of these rough riders, but only for what they 
knew and could report. To hear this all gathered round 
the cabin table, where was spread out a map of the 
country, on which they studied the whole field of the 
contending armies as if in a council of war. 

These interviews and conversations raised Mr. Field's 
estimate of Mr. Lincoln's ability, as he saw under that 
plain exterior a man, not only devoted to his country, 
but of such quickness of observation and excellent judg- 
ment, even in a subject so foreign to him as that of 
war, that he had a better idea of the way to conduct 
a campaign than many an officer, with his glittering 
sword and epaulets. This combination of intelligence 
with frankness won, not only the heart of Mr. Field, 
but his fullest confidence, as he saw that the govern- 
ment was not, like a great ship of war in a tempest, 
drifting to destruction for want of a capable com- 
mander. However threatening the storm might be, 
there was a master on the deck, of cool head and brave 


heart, whom it was the duty of all on board to support 
till the storm blew itself out, and the ship, though with 
broken masts and torn sails, floated into the haven 
where she would be. 

Thus strengthened in heart and hope, Mr. Field 
came back to impart to others the same confidence, of 
which at times there was a pressing need. There was 
no want of courage in the soldiers. The army was 
always ready to do its part. Nor were the most trying 
moments those of battle, for then all were strung up 
to the highest pitch of daring. But for the country at 
large, for those far away among the Northern hills, 
the great trial was the long suspense, the slow move- 
ment of armies, the horrors of the battle-field, from 
which thousands were borne to the hospitals, where 
were mingled the dying and the dead. All this made 
the hearts sick of those whose sons and brothers were 
in the field, to a degree that at times almost paralyzed 
the nation. Then the great demand of the country was 
not so much for more soldiers at the front, as for more 
supporters in the rear, a mighty reserve of invincibles, 
who never despaired of the Republic. 

And now, standing off at the distance of thirty years 
— the lifetime of a generation — we may venture on one 
or two general reflections upon the Civil War. Leav- 
ing aside the purely moral considerations, it may not be 
going beyond the mark to say that, next to the Revolu- 
tion, it was not only the most stupendous, but the most 


beneficent event in American history. War is not always 
a curse : it may be the necessary means of the greatest 
good. Our country has passed through three wars, 
each one of which has had a part in the making of the 
nation. It was by an eight-years' war that the Colo- 
nies gained their independence ; the War of 1812 raised 
the United States, if not to a position among the great 
military powers of the world, yet to one that promised 
to make it next to Great Britain on the sea ; while this 
last array of a nation in arms forced upon the world 
the question : If the States were so terrible when 
divided and warring against each other, what would 
they be when united ? 

We may even go a step farther, and say that the 
war for Disunion was indispensable to the Union itself, 
since it eliminated the only cause of separation between 
the North and the South, to the happy issue that they 
should be One Country thenceforth and forever ! 

At the same time it inspired both with a mutual 
respect, which is the first step to any closer relations. 
In this primary discipline war is the greatest of all teach- 
ers. Nothing subdues the loftiness of an opponent Hke 
an unexpected show of power. Up to this time the peo- 
ple of the two great Divisions did not know each other. 
Separated, not only by distance, but by different social 
systems, they grew up with a traditional dislike and 
aversion. The Southern planters formed an aristo- 
cratic class, made up of landed proprietors, who, living 


by the labor of others, were apt to despise those who 
worked with their own hands. They looked upon the 
people of the North as a race of canting hypocrites, who 
worshipped the almighty dollar, and who were so lack- 
ing in manly spirit that they could be treated with a want 
of respect bordering on rudeness, and yet not be pro- 
voked into resistance ! From this impression they had 
a rude awakening, like that of the French when they 
rushed into war with the slow, plodding Germans, but 
soon found themselves engaged in what, to use a mod- 
ern phrase, might be called "a campaign of education." 
The North and the South were never really acquainted, 
till they were introduced to one another on the field 
of battle. From that time they came to regard one 
another with profound respect, for both sides dis- 
played the qualities that compel honor and admiration. 
"Braver men never to battle rode." And the bravery 
seems to have been equally divided. If our imagina- 
tion be taken by what the German poet pictures to the 
eye as "the battle's splendor," we have it here, for 
never in the history of war was greater courage shown 
on both sides, if it be measured by the number of the 
wounded and the dead. In the Franco-Prussian War 
the greatest carnage was in the cavalry charges 
at Mars-le-Tour, when nearly one-half fell killed or 
wounded, a proportion that was surpassed in many of 
the regiments on both sides at Chickamauga. The 
battle of Waterloo began at noon, and continued to the 


going down of the sun : that of Gettysburg was fought 
on and on for three days, and ended at last by the 
repulse of a charge that was more desperate than that 
of the Old Guard. 

And is all this glory of the battle-field to be put away 
and forgotten ? On the contrary, we cherish the memory 
of it as that of which we are justly proud. Our coun- 
try has passed through the greatest civil war in history 
— a war that raged over half a continent — and it still 
lives, and is stronger than ever. And what is more, 
we of the North are proud of those who fought against 
us, of their courage and endurance, in the strength of 
which we both share, as we are no more twain, but one. 

If there was nothing so terrible as Disunion, there 
has been nothing more glorious than Reunion. For- 
eigners do not know what to make of it, when they see 
Northern and Southern Generals meeting at Gettysburg 
and Chickamauga, raising monuments to those who 
fought and fell on both sides. But these heroic memo- 
ries are the proud possession of us all. Nothing in our 
country reflects more honor upon the generosity of the 
American people than the vast cemeteries. North and 
South, in which are gathered the forms of those fallen 
in battle, with this inscription : 

" On Fame's eternal camping ground 
Their silent tents are spread, 
While glory guards with ceaseless round 
The bivouac of the dead." 


But this is anticipating the times of reconcihation, 
while in the order of our chronicle we are but at the 
close of the war, which, if it had its burst of sunshine, 
had also its dark cloud that covered the whole heaven. 
In the midst of our rejoicing at the return of peace, 
came the assassination of our beloved President, and 
for the time all our pride was turned into mourning for 
him who had carried us through the great ordeal of our 
national existence. Overwhelmed at the country's loss, 
Mr. Field went to Washington to attend the funeral, and 
rode from the Capitol in the carriage with Mr. Stan- 
ton, who told him of the President's dream on the night 
before the fatal event. As the members of the Cabinet 
were coming in, Mr. Lincoln said that he had a pre- 
sentiment that something was going to happen, for he 
had had a dream like one that he had before the battle 
of Chickamauga. He was standing by a river where 
the current was swift, rushing by like a torrent, which 
seemed to prefigure a course of events that could not 
be checked or controlled. What could be more signifi- 
cant of an event that was coming very near, that was 
to sweep him away from all part in human affairs ? 
That very night the flood came and bore this emanci- 
pator of a race out of human sight, leaving behind him 
as his only memorial a country saved and an immortal 



The war was over ; but it left wreck and ruin 
behind. North and South had both suffered immeas- 
urably ; but the North the less, as its population was 
double, and its resources were ten times greater, while 
the South was left almost a desert. Towns and cities 
had been bombarded, and the cotton fields, for the 
product of which the looms of England and the Conti- 
nent were standing still, presented a scene of blackened 

But even this was less appalling than the sacrifice in 
tens of thousands of Southern homes, from which some- 
times father and sons had gone out together, of all whom 
but one or two returned. The angel of death had been 
abroad in the land, till it might almost be said, as in 
the plague of the first-born in Egypt, that there was 
not an house in which there was not one dead ! 

The North too had the joy of victory dampened by 
what was harder to bear than the loss of a battle. Our 
country never witnessed a military pageant so imposing 
as the return of the army through Washington, where 


from morning to night was heard the tramp, tramp of 
the legions that had been through the fire, carrying 
proudly the flags that had been torn by shot and shell. 
But in all the triumph of that day there was one bitter 
sorrow : that their beloved President was not there to 
answer to the roll of the drums and the waving of 

The assassination of Lincoln was a national calam- 
ity. Great as was the blow to the North, it was still 
greater to the South, which lost in him its best friend. 
But for that, the sufferings of both, instead of being a 
source of mutual irritation, might have brought them 
into a sympathy of sorrow, that would in time have 
softened into a feeling of tenderness even among those 
who had fought against one another. But that fearful 
tragedy tore open the old wounds, so that it was years 
before they could be healed. 

One of the legacies of the war was martial law, 
which is the law of barbarism, that must be endured 
so long as the savagery of war continues, but winch 
quickly demoralizes those who have been accustomed to 
the gentler ways of peace. To soldiers in command it 
very soon becomes the natural course of justice, with 
the advantage that judgment is quick, and may be fol- 
lowed by speedy execution. It certainly affords great 
facihties in judicial proceedings. There is none of the 
"law's delay," which is so tedious to a man of high 
spirit, who is invested, not with ' ' a Httle, brief author- 


ity, " for if it be " brief, " it is not ' ' little, " as it involves 
the power of life and death. A captain, put at the 
head of a command in the backwoods, in his small 
dominion is as absolute as the Czar of Russia. Let 
him but fix his "glittering eye" on some backwoods- 
man who does not do him reverence, and he has but 
to send a troop of horse, and take the man out of his 
cabin, and bring him before a ' ' drum-head court 
martial," and he can be tried, sentenced, and shot 
and buried in an hour I He need not fear the conse- 
quences, for dead men tell no tales, and can make 
no appeals. But with all its facilities, this ' 'happy des- 
patch" may have unexpected issues. In his haste to 
do justice he may shoot the wrong man ! Such 
accidents will happen now and then to a soldier who 
"does not stand on ceremony," and, under the form of 
military law, he may be guilty of a cold-blooded assas- 
sination ! 

This was one of the abuses of power on both sides 
that are almost inevitable in a civil war. But I speak 
here only of our own sins, not of the sins of others. In 
the Northern States, and especially in the Border States, 
there was many a man who was suspected of want of 
loyalty to the government, of sympathizing with the 
enemy ; and who for such suspicion was branded as a 
"copperhead" — which meant a rebel in disguise, and 
very thin disguise at that — and was liable to be arrested 
and tried before a court martial, and executed, before 


there was an opportunity to appeal to a court that could 
stay the hand of the executioner. How near one might 
come to the scaffold, even though he escaped it, appears 
in a case which is the more notable as it occurred 
near the end of the war, after the capture of Atlanta, 
and when Sherman was preparing for his March to 
the Sea. 

In October, 18G4, a man in Indiana was arrested at 
his home, and thrown into prison at Indianapolis, and 
two w^eeks after was brought to trial by a "military 
commission" upon "charges of conspiracy against the 
authority of the United States, inciting insurrection, 
disloyal practices, and violation of the laws of war ! " 
This was a vague, general charge, that would seem to 
be barred by the fact that, even if it were true, a mili- 
tary commission had no business to try it, since Indiana 
was not the theatre of war, and no more under martial 
law than Massachusetts. If a man had been disloj-^al 
to his government, the courts were open, and he was 
entitled to be tried, not by soldiers, who were not the 
best men to weigh evidence, but by a judge and jury. 
There was clearly a "want of jurisdiction." But tliis 
objection was overruled — the man was brought before a 
court martial and convicted, and sentenced to be hanged ! 
The sentence was approved by the President, and he was 
to be executed on the 19th of May, 18G5 — more than a 
month after the surrender of Lee — a grim tragedy to be 
enacted at the close of the war, in the first joy of peace, 


to send to the gallows a man who had never taken 
up arms against his country ! But his time was get- 
ting short. It was but little more than a week to the 
day appointed for his execution, that a petition was filed 
in the Circuit Court of the United States for Indiana, 
showing that a grand jury of that Court had convened 
after his arrest, but that no indictment had been found 
against him ; and that he had at no time been in the 
military, naval, or militia service ; nor within any State 
engaged in rebellion against the United States at any 
time during the war. The petition demanded that he 
be delivered to the proper civil tribunal to be tried, or 
discharged from custody. 

The defence was that Congress had authorized the 
President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus during 
the rebellion ! Yes : but that authority was not unlim- 
ited either as to time or place : it was not to be con- 
tinued after the war was over, nor was it to be exer- 
cised in every part of the United States. Indeed the 
act expressly excepted ' ' States in which the adminis- 
tration of law had not been disturbed, wdiere any who 
were arrested as prisoners should be brought before the 
Judges of the United States Circuit and District Courts, 
and if the grand jury did not bring in an indictment 
against them, they were to be discharged ! " 

Here then was the question — whether martial law 
could be assumed and enforced in a State that had not 
been touched by war ; and a private citizen could be 


seized by military order ; tried by a court martial, and 
sent to the scaffold ! 

The case was one that appealed very strongly to 
Mr. Field, and he entered into it, not as a matter of 
professional business, but from a sense of justice. 
While the war lasted, no one was more earnest that it 
should be carried through to the end. But when the 
war was over, it was time that the Temple of Janus 
was shut ; and that the people should return to the 
ways of peace. True, some ardent partisans thought 
the advocate was deserting his principles ; "going back " 
on his party. But he knew no party in the Courts of 
Law. If that was treachery to his party, he had at 
least good company, for there stood by his side, not 
only that sturdy old Democrat, Judge Black, of Penn- 
sylvania, but a distinguished Republican who had 
fought in the war, and was afterwards President of 
the United States, General Garfield. But the burden 
of the argument fell on Mr. Field, who rose to the 
height of the occasion, in exposing the injustice of car- 
rying martial law into a State where there had been no 
Avar. The court listened in fixed attention to the very 
last word, as he closed in a tone of the deepest solemnity : 

' ' Thus, may it please the Court, have I performed 
the part assigned me in the argument of this case. 
The materials were abundant. I only fear that I may 
have wearied you with the recital or erred in the selec- 
tion. I could not look into the pages of English law ; 


I could not turn over the leaves of English literature ; 
I could not listen to the orators and statesmen of Eng- 
land ; without remarking the uniform protest against 
martial usurpation, and the assertion of the undoubted 
right of every man, high or low, to be judged accord- 
ing to the known and general law, by a jury of his 
peers, before the judges of the land. And when I 
turned to the history, legal, political, and literary, of 
my own country — my own undivided and forever indi- 
visible country — I found the language of freedom inten- 
sified. Our fathers brought with them the liberties of 
Englislimen, Throughout the colonial history we find 
the colonists clinging, with immovable tenacity, to trial 
by jury. Magna Charta, the principle of representation, 
and the Petition of Right. They had won them in 
the fatherland in many a high debate and on many a 
bloody field ; and they defended them here against the 
mercenaries of the crown of England. We, their chil- 
dren, thought we had superadded to the liberties of 
Englishmen the greater and better guarded liberties of 

' ' These great questions, than which greater never 
yet came before this most august of human tribunals, 
are now to receive their authoritative and last solution. 
Your judgment will live when all of us are dead. The 
robes which you wear will be worn by others, who will 
occupy your seats in long succession, through, I trust, 
innumerable ages ; but it will never fall to the lot of 


any to pronounce a judgment of greater consequence 
than this. It mil stand when the statue which with 
returning peace we have raised above the dome of the 
Capitol shall have fallen from its pedestal, its sword 
broken and its shield scattered in pieces ; nay, when 
the dome itself, which, though uplifted into the air, 
seems immovable as the mountains, shall have crum- 
bled ; it will stand as long as that most imperishable 
thing of all, our mother-tongue, shall be spoken or read 
among men. 

"That judgment, I hope and I believe, will estab- 
hsh the liberty of the citizen on foundations never more 
to be shaken, and ■s\all cause the future historian of our 
greatest struggle to write that, great as were the vic- 
tories of our war, they were equalled in renown by the 
victories of our peace. " 

This was the language, not only of conviction, but 
of a courage which cannot be fully appreciated at this 
distance of time. Xoio the case seems so plain that we 
wonder that any judge on the bench could hesitate a 
moment as to his decision. But thirty years ago the 
people of the North were thinking of their dead Ijang 
on a hundred Southern battle fields. To say a word 
for those who fought against us, seemed to be false to 
our country. This feeling was in the air, and could 
not but invade the bar and the bench. Though 
it seems now that there could be but one side, then 
there were two ; and the other side was argued by a 


lawyer of the very highest rank, Mr. Stansbery of Cin- 
cinnati, then Attorney- General, supported by the ability 
(which no one could dispute), as well as the bull-dog 
pugnacity, of General Butler. That their arguments 
had weight was proved by the fact that the court was 
divided ; of the nine judges four voted to sustain the 
decision of the court martial, which would have sent 
the prisoner to an ignominious execution.* It was a 
narrow escape, but one of immense significance. When 
the prison doors were opened for a man who had been 
standing for weeks and months in the shadow of the 
scaffold, it was a signal to the nation that martial law 
was ended ; that the reign of terror was over ; and that 
the reign of peace and justice was begun ! 

So far, so good ! But that was not the last echo of 
the Civil War. If disaffection to the government was 

* The opinion in the case was written by Mr. Justice Davis 
of Illinois, of whom Mr. Lincoln was wont to speak as "the best 
friend he had in the world." No man knew better the natural 
sympathy, even to tenderness, of the late President, and how, 
if he had lived, instead of taking the airs of a conqueror, who 
would triumpli over the vanquished, he would have been the 
first to pour oil into their wounds ; to soothe their pride ; and 
to turn away their thoughts from the sad legacies of war to the 
brighter hopes of peace. In reading the opinion of tlie Justice, 
one cannot help thinking that, both in its preparation and deUv- 
ery, he must have been conscious that he gave expression, not 
only to his own sense of justice, but to what would have been 
the first prompting of a great heart that had ceased to beat. 


not a capital crime, it could be punished in other ways. 
If the law could not take a man's life, it could deprive 
him of the means of subsistence by imposing conditions 
that would shut him out from the practice of liis pro- / ^■^'^^ 
fession. This was effected by the cunning de^dce of a 
"Test Oath," a form of torture worthy of the Inquisi- 
tion, as it was expressed in the new Constitution that 
was framed for the State of Missouri, in which a man 
who would hold an office, or be a lawyer or a minister 
of the Gospel, must swear that he had never had any 
part in the Rebellion, or sympathy icith it, >\dthout 
wliich oath he could not ' ' hold any office of honor, trust, 
or profit, or be permitted to practice as an attorney, or 
counsellor at law ; nor be competent as a bishop, priest, 
deacon, minister, elder, or other clergj-man of an}- 
religious persuasion, sect, or denomination ! " The 
penalty for neglect to take this oath was, not only 
immediate stopping of the practice of his profession, 
but a fine of five hundred dollars, and imprisonment 
from six months to two years ! 

The pro\'ision of the Constitution which lays down 
these requirements is very long and minute, pointing 
out the offence %vith such manifold specifications as to 
show that it was a net carefully woven to catch the 
smallest offender. Or, to take another illustration, it 
was Hke the scj-the of Father Time, 

" Which cuts down all, 
Both great and small." 


Monstrous as all this was, it could not be said that 
it was a new thing under the sun. The passion for 
vengeance after war is as old as history. Rome made 
her captives pass under the yoke. Nor was it the first 
time that it had appeared in American history. At 
the beginning of the Revolution there were in the colo- 
nies many who still longed for peace, and who could 
not see that there was any sufficient reason for rushing 
into wa,r with the mother country because of some petty 
impost such as a tax on tea ! But they were branded 
as Tories, Some moved across the border into Canada ; 
others emigrated to Nova Scotia. Those who remained 
kept very quiet. But no sooner was the war over 
than they were required, as the condition of citizen- 
ship, to swear, not only to be loyal to the government, 
but that they had always been so ! Tliis was putting 
a premium upon falsehood and perjury, against which 
Alexander Hamilton protested, as a direct violation of 
our Treaty with Great Britain, as well as of the Con- 
stitution of the United States, so that Mr. Field, in 
his argument against Test Oaths, was not fighting a 
new battle, but only against the same injustice that 
roused the indignation of Alexander Hamilton nearly 
a hundred years ago. 

But he had no occasion to refer to a treaty with 
England : it was enough to appeal to our own Con- 
stitution, as against that of the State of Missouri, 
which contained such sweeping disqualifications that 

THE "crime" of a CATHOLIC PRIEST. 193 

it must be itself put to the test to see whether it did 
not violate a higher law. To this end it was first 
brought before the Supreme Court of the State of 
Missouri, which upheld it, from which it was appealed 
to the Supreme Court of the United States, where we 
are now to follow it. As if to show in full relief the 
' ' tall heads " that it was to strike down, the test case 
was that of a priest of the Roman CathoHc Church, 
who had been convicted by the State courts of Missouri 
of the "crime" of teaching and preaching without 
having taken the oath prescribed by the Constitution ! 
Here again Mr. Field appeared before the Court, and 
in the very opening of his argument, thus analyzed 
the new form of Inquisitorial justice : 

' ' Dividing this oath into all its separable parts, it 
will be found to contain eighty-six distinct affirmations 
or tests ! It is both prospective and retrospective ; that 
is to say, it speaks from the time when it is actually 
taken by each person, and relates to all that has gone 
before ; so that, if taken by Mr. Cummings (the priest *) 
now, it will embrace aU his past life, and, if taken five 
years hence, it will embrace not only all his life that is 
now passed, but the five years from this time forward. 

"Altogether, it is a novelty in this country, and I 

* There was also the case of a lawyer the issue of which 
would depend upon the decision in this, which explains the 
allusion on the next page to more than one client. 


believe it is a novelty in the world. I have searched in 
vain for anything in history so sweeping and severe. 

"The State of Missouri steps between the Christian 
flock and its pastor. He cannot ascend the pulpit and 
preach to a devout congregation the resurrection of the 
dead and the life of the world to come ; he cannot teach 
the forgiveness of sins at the bedside of a dying peni- 
tent ; he cannot bless the bride at the altar ; without 
calling God to witness that he is superior to all these 

' ' The Supreme Court of Missouri, the highest tribu- 
nal known to the laws of that great Commonwealth, 
has affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court, and 
thereby declared that there is nothing in the political 
system of that state to forbid the imposition of such a 
test. It is for you. Supreme Judges of all the land, to 
declare whether there is anything in the political system 
of the nation to forbid it." 

The legal argument which follows, though not so 
long as that in the preceding case, which made an end 
of martial law, had the same cumulative force, as one 
proof was piled upon another, till the advocate dis- 
missed the question in these words : 

' ' Here I leave the cases of my clients — cases impor- 
tant not to them only, but to the whole people of Mis- 
souri. That State was born in conflict. The dispute 
about her admission into the Union seemed likely to 
di\nde the Union. Slavery, which she then warmed in 

1 y 


her bosom, stung her, viper that it was. The poison 
entered her vitals, and she has been purified from it 
only by blood and fire. An avenging Nemesis decreed 
that her deliverance should be effected through suffer- 
ing proportionate to her error. 

"She is now free. This oath, so vindictive and 
repulsive, is her last deformity. Let her be rid of that, 
and she will stand erect as well as free. 

' ' My clients, defeated at their own firesides, seek 
protection here. They know that to this chamber they 
can come for shelter, as fugitives of old sought refuge 
beside the altar. You stand the ultimate arbiters of 
constitutional rights ; immovable, however tumultuous 
passions may surge and beat around you, the one stable 
and permanent element in the government of the coun- 
try. Presidents appear and disappear like shadows. 
Senators and Representatives enter the doors of their 
chambers, and go out again, no one knows whither. 
You remain the ornament and defence of the Constitu- 
tion — decus et tutamen.'" 

The decision of the Court soon sent the Test Oaths 
in the way of Martial Law, and it was a special pleas- 
ure to Mr. Field that the opinion was delivered by 
his brother, who had been appointed to the Bench by 
President Lincoln in circumstances somewhat peculiar. * 

- * After the war with Mexico the discovery of gold liad 
caused such an emigration to the Pacific Coast that California 
soon had a population that justified its admission as a State. 


These two decisions of the Supreme Court of the 
United States settled two great questions, and settled 
them forever. There was no more danger to life or 
hberty by martial law, or that a man should be deprived 
of the right to practise his profession, because he could 
not, or would not, swear that he had taken no part in 
the Rebellion, or had any sympathy with it. The law- 

But the settlement of titles to land was made very difficult by 
the fact that large tracts were overlaid by Spanish grants and 
Mexican grants, and later by the "squatter sovereignty" that 
seized whatever was unoccupied. This conflict of claims made 
endless perplexity. Whichever way a case was decided, it was 
sure to be appealed, till it drifted on to the Supreme Court of the 
United States, where the Judges themselves were confused by the 
contradictory opinions. To get some light on these vexed ques- 
tions, a law was passed by Congress creating another seat on the 
Supreme Court, to be filled by a Judge from the Pacific Coast, 
whereupon the Senators and Representatives from California 
and Oregon went in a body to President Lincoln, to ask for the 
appointment of Mr. Stephen J. Field, then Chief Justice of Cali- 
fornia, whose name they presented, not as their first choice, 
but as their only choice. While the nomination was pending, 
Mr. John A. C. Gray, a well known citizen of New York, and 
an old friend of Mr. Lincoln, went to speak to him about it. 
He found the President agreed entirely in the fitness of Judge 
Field, and had but one question to ask : "Does David want his 
brother to have it ? " "Yes," said Mr. Gray. "Then he shall 
have it," was the instant reply, and the nomination was sent 
in that afternoon, and confirmed by the Senate unanimously. 
This was the Justice to whom it fell four years later to write 
the opinion in the Test Oath cases. '^ 


yer was free to practise in the courts, and the priest to 
appear in the pulpit or the confessional, or kneel at the 
bedside of the dying. So far every man in the South 
had recovered his freedom, and had all the rights of 
a citizen of the United States.f But where were the 
States themselves that had taken part in the Rebellion ? 
Were they once more equal members of the Union, or 
were they conquered provinces to be held in a state of 
vassalage to await the pleasure of the conqueror ? If 
they were restored at once without conditions, and with 
their old institutions — slavery and all — they would be 
left just where they were before, and would need but a 
few years to recover their strength, when the battle 
might be renewed. The old State governments, that 
had been fighting the Union for four years, could not 
be left in possession. But when they were deposed, 
who or what should take their place ? There must be 
some sort of government, or the whole South would 
relapse into anarchy. The natural suggestion was that 
a commander who was at the head of a Department 
should take possession of the State Capital, as a nucleus 
round which the loyal elements might gather until the 
time of full reconstruction should come. Meanwhile the 
first necessity was to get rid of Slavery. Mr. Lincoln 
had issued his Proclamation as a war measure, but it 
was all-important that it should be confirmed by an 
amendment imbedded in the Constitution of the United 
States, which was accomplished in the Constitutional 


way, by being proposed by a vote of Congress, and 
confirmed by the votes of three-fourths of the States. 

When this was done so that it could not be undone 
— that the spectre of Slavery and Disunion would never 
come back to plague us — it would seem as if the Pro- 
visional Governments in the South had accomplished 
their mission, and might be allowed to depart, to return 
no more. But what authority established by force of 
arms ever willingly resigned its power ? An officer 
placed in absolute control of a State, felt the dignity 
of his position, and would make the most of it ; and 
if a Legislature was refractory, would turn it out of 
doors, as Cromwell dismissed the Long Parliament. 
Even four years after the war, when General Grant 
was President, General Sheridan, who was in com- 
mand in New Orleans, asked permission to arrest the 
whole Legislature of Louisiana, but fortunately the 
cooler head of liis chief restrained the impetuosity of 
his lieutenant. 

Meanwhile the reign of the carpet-baggers had 
begun, and men who had hung round the camps dur- 
ing the war, but never showed their faces in the front 
of battle, were made Governors, and, supported by a 
Legislature of negroes just off the plantations, went in 
for a general spoliation. There was not much left in 
the South to steal — the freebooters might as well have 
undertaken to rob the dead — but they could at least 


issue bonds, which, though sold at a low rate, would 
yet accomplish the purpose to gather in the spoils. 

How long this would have continued, and how far 
it would have gone, it is hard to say if the inroUing tide 
of corruption had not struck against the breakwater of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, wliich in the 
memorable ' ' McCardle Case " took in review the whole 
question of the Constitutionality of the Reconstruction 
Acts of Congress, which, its opponents claimed, was a 
flagrant invasion of the liberty and rights, not only of 
a single individual, but of milhons of our countrymen. 

In this case, as in all the great cases that he under- 
took, Mr. Field threw his whole soul into it. He was 
indignant at the continuance of military rule after the 
war was over : that regiments should be kept in Charles- 
ton and New Orleans as if they were in a state of siege. 
When was the reign of peace and of law to begin ? 

This argument has a special interest to me as I hap- 
pened to be in Washington at the time and heard it in 
part, when it was interrupted by a singular circum- 
stance. While Mr. Field was speaking a messenger 
came to summon the Chief Justice from his place on 
the bench to a duty to which no Judge had ever been 
called before — to preside over the Senate sitting as a 
Court to try an impeachment of the President of 
the United States ! This postponed the case in the 
Supreme Court for several weeks, when Mr. Field 
resumed and concluded his argument. Without under- 


taking to follow it in detail, it is enough to quote a , 
single passage to show the vehemence with which he 
spoke, and how he carried his position by the continued 
thrust of questions to which there could be but one 
answer : 

"A point very much urged in the argument, and constantly 
referred to in public speeches, is Necessity ! These military gov- 
ernments of the South, they say, are legal because they are 
necessary. The usual phrase is : ' This government has a right 
to live, and no other government has a right to contest it ; and 
whatever Congress determines as necessary to this national life 
is right.' What necessity do they speak of ? There is no Fed- 
eral necessity. The Federal courts are open ; the Federal laws 
are executed ; the mails are run ; the customs are collected. 
There is no interference with any commissioner or officer of 
the United States anywhere in the country. There is no neces- 
sity, therefore, of a Federal kind for an assumption of the gov- 
ernment of Mississippi. What, then, is the necessity ? Is that 
the reason why the military government is there ? If you are 
to wait until you get repentant rebels— or I should perhaps 
rather say, if you wait until you make rebels repentant by fire 
and sword— you will have to wait many generations. Of all 
the arguments, that of necessity has the least force. ' We will 
not allow the Southern States to govern themselves, because, if 
we do, the government will fall into the hands of unrepentant 
rebels 1 ' Well, what is that to you. if they obey the laws— if 
they submit to your government ? Do you wish to force them 
to love you ? Is that what you are aiming at ? Of course, it 
should be the desire and the aim of all governments to make the 
people love as well as obey ; but as an argument for a military 
government, it is an extraordinary one. 'Well then,' they say. 


' we must protect the loyal men at the South, and therefore the 
military government, which is the only one adequate to the end, 
must be kept up.' To that I answer, first, that the General of 
your armies, the person upon whom this extraordinary power 
has been thrown, himself certified that there was order through- 
out the South, so far as he could observe. But are tliere no 
other means than military coercion ? The Union men of the 
South, we liave been told, were in the majority, and have ever 
been in the majority, and it was the minority by which the people 
were driven into secession. Is government by the United States 
necessary to sustain the majority — a majority, we are told, of 
the white people ? They say that secession was carried by 
a minority of the whites against the majority, and that the 
majority have always been loyal. That is a perfect answer, 
then, to the objection. ' Necessity ' is the reason given by 
tyi'anny for misgovernment all the world over. It was the rea- 
son given by Philip II. for oppressing the Netherlands by the 
Duke of Alva ; it was the reason given for the misgovernment 
of Italy by Austria ; it was the reason given for the misgovern- 
ment of Ireland by England. 

" 'This Nation has a right to live ! ' Certainly it has, and so 
have the States, and so have the people. Every one of us has 
the right, and the life of each is bound up with the life of all. 
For who compose my nation, and what constitutes my country ? 
It is not so much land and water. They would remain ever the 
same though an alien race occupied the soil ; there would be the 
same green hills, and the same sweet valleys, the same ranges 
of mountains, and the same lakes and rivers ; but all these com- 
bined do not make up my country. They are the body without 
the soul. That word, country, comprehends within itself place 
and people, and all that history, tradition, language, manners, 
social culture, and civil polity, have associated with them. This 
wonderful combination of State and nation, which binds me to 


both by indissoluble ties, enters into the idea of my country. 
Its name is the United States of America. The States are an 
essential part of the name and of the thing. They are repre- 
sented by the starry flag, which their children have borne on so 
many fields of glory, the ever-shining symbol of one Nation and 
many States. They are not provinces or countries ; they are 
not principalities or dukedoms ; but they are fiee republican 
States, sovereign in their sphere, as the United States are sover- 
eign in theirs ; and all essential elements of that one, undivided 
and indissoluble Country, which is dearer than life, and for 
which so many have died. As the State of New York would 
not be to me what it is, if, instead of the free, active Common- 
wealth, it were to subside into a principality or a province, so 
neither would the United States be to me what they are, if, 
instead of a union of free States, they were to subside into a 
consolidated Empire. For such an Empire we have not borne 
the defeats and won the victories of civil war. 

The case had this further remarkable issue : that it 
was never decided by the Supreme Court, though pre- 
vious decisions indicated clearly what the result would 
be. Having been interrupted while the impeachment 
of Andrew Johnson was going on, the decision was 
postponed, perhaps that Congress might be spared the 
humiliation of having its own act declared null and 
void. The Court therefore deferred judgment, and 
the act was speedily repealed, a victory in another 
form, which emphasized still further the wantonness 
and wickedness of this cruel legislation. 

After such heavy bombardments the iron gates of 
military rule seemed to be giving way. If the military 


occupation continued, it was not quite so arrogant. 
The South no longer felt the pressure of the iron hand. 
The arguments against Militarj' Tribunals for Civilians, 
and against Test Oaths, had done their work ; and that 
in the McArdle case required no judicial decision, inas- 
much as Congress itself hastened to repeal the act in 
which it had assumed an authority which it did not 
possess. But there is nothing that men or governments 
are so reluctant to abdicate as power, and if it be 
restrained in one form, it will appear in another. There 
was still an opportunity for Congress to accomplish by 
indirection what it did not dare to claim openly. The 
right of suffrage had been given to the colored people 
of the South. But how to enforce it was the problem. 
To that end Congress passed an Enforcement Act, 
which provided that ' ' if two or more persons should 
band or conspire together ... to injure, oppress, 
threaten, or intimidate any citizen with intent to pre- 
vent or hinder his free exercise and enjoyment of any 
right or privilege, granted or reserved to him by the 
Constitution or laws of the United States, said persons 
should be held guilty of felony ! " Nearly a hundred 
persons were indicted in Louisiana, eight of whom 
appeared before the Circuit Court, and three of them 
were convicted, from which they appealed to the Supreme 
Court of the United States. This was the famous 
Cruikshank case, in which Mr. Field appeared for the 


The act had been skilfully framed. One word in 
it was enough to rouse the suspicions of the North — 
the word "conspire," which suggested that there was 
a dark and deep-laid conspiracy to defeat the result of 
the war by secret combinations to spread terror among 
the colored people, and so to drive them away from the 
polls, and deprive them of the fruits of their new-born 
hberty. To this Mr. Field replied : 

' ' An accusation of conspiracy is of all accusations the most 
dangerous to meet, and the easiest to make men believe, in an 
excited community. It is the harshest engine of tyranny ever 
used under the form of law ; and its frequent use is the strong- 
est evidence of misgovernment. From the bloody days wlien 
the compassing or imagining the death of a king was the miser- 
able pretence upon which tyrants took the lives and confiscated 
the estates of their victims, to the present hour, no surer proof 
of good or evil government can be found than the chapter on 
conspiracies in the statute-book of a country. One has but to 
compare the statutes of well-governed Connecticut with the 
statutes of misgoverned Ireland, to learn what an odious engine 
of oppression is the law of conspiracy." 

But his main argument turned on the relation of 
the States to the general government. Overstrained 
as had been the doctrine of State rights by the South 
to justify secession, yet it would be going too far the 
other way, if the result of the war should be to destroy 
the States, uniting them all in one consolidated govern- 
ment. The States still existed, not to be overrun and 
trampled down by armies or by undue assumptions of 


the central authority. If Congress could by its action 
destroy the rights of the States, so that they would be 
but weak and helpless members of one central power, 
the Republic would have passed into a Kingdom. 
And when it undertook to lay down stringent 
prohibitions as to interference with the ballot in the 
States, it must go one step farther and consider how it 
could enforce its prohibitions without running against 
the buckler of State sovereignty. As Mr. Field put it : 
"Congress cannot destroy a State. If to-morrow 
the Legislature of Massachusetts should pass a law 
denying the right of suffrage to every colored man in 
the Commonwealth, Congress could not authorize the 
President to march the garrison of Fort Warren into 
the State House, and turn the members out of doors. 
Why could not Congress do tliis ? The answer is that 
Massachusetts is a self-existing and indestructible mem- 
ber of the American Union, and neither Congress, nor 
any other department of the Federal Government, has 
power to destroy any essential attribute of the sover- 
eignty of that Commonwealth. In saying this I am 
justified by recent decisions of this Court. No longer 
ago than 1868 this Court, speaking by its late Chief 
Justice (Mr. Chase), uttered these memorable words, 
which will live in constitutional history as long as the 
Constitution lives in its vigor : ' Not only can there be 
no loss of separate and independent autonomy of the 
States, but it may be not unreasonably said that the 


preservation of the States and the maintenance of their 
governments are as much within the design and care 
of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union 
and the maintenance of the National Government. 
The Constitution in all its provisions looks to an 
indestructible Union composed of indestructible 
States.^" The language of an older Judge, the ven- 
erable Justice Nelson, was not less emphatic. Five 
years before he had said from that bench : ' ' The Gen- 
eral Government and the States, although both exist 
within the same territorial limits, are separate and 
distinct sovereignties, acting independently of each 
other within their respective spheres. The former in 
its appropriate sphere is supreme, but the States within 
the limits of their powers not granted (or reserved) are 
as independent of the General Government as that gov- 
ernment within its sphere is independent of the States. 
, . . The two governments are upon an equality. 
In respect to the reserved powers the State is as sover- 
eign and independent as the General Government." 

Here the differences of opinion were distinctly out- 
lined. The two positions involved two theories of 
government. If the General Government were to take 
to itself all that came within the range of life, Kberty 
and protection, what was there left for the State Gov- 
ernments to do? Their occupation was gone. "For 
what is there in the world," said Mr. Field, "for State 
legislation, but life, liberty, and the protection of the 


law ? " If the General Government assumed this, it 
assumed everything, and the States were but the 
executors of its imperial will. That was a perfectly 
intelligible form of government, but it was not the 
government that was established by the fathers of the 
Republic in the Constitution of the United States. 
This was the Ark of the Covenant, that must be kept 
sacred from the touch of any destroying hand. In the 
previous generation the Constitution had the greatest 
of American statesmen as its Defender and Expounder. 
But Mr. Webster never saw the nation under such a 
strain as that of the Civil War — a convulsion so awful 
that it seemed to turn back the course of nature, and 
we had to look round to see if it had not destroyed 
both Liberty and Law in one tremendous ruin. Then 
the work had to be done all over again by men of the 
post-helium period, like Mr. Field, who, seeing how 
vital was the Constitution to the National existence, 
"compassed it about on every side," buttressing the 
ancient walls, till now the Citadel is stronger than ever, 

" Four square to all the winds that blow." 



The greatest service that Mr. Field ever rendered to 
his country (always excepting his Codes) was the long, 
stout and stubborn fight for the rights of the South 
— a contest, not in battle, nor on the floor of Congress, 
but in the highest Court of the land, where it went on 
year after year, till justice triumphed at last, but only 
at the sacrifice to him who led the fight of many old ties 
and friendships. This was the painful thing about it, 
that he had to part company from many of his dearest 
friends, to whom it seemed a kind of treachery to the 
^ ' grand old party " that had carried the country through 
the war, to unloose its iron grasp on the "conquered" 
States. But Mr. Field's partj^ ties had been long 
weakening. He was too independent to be a politician. 
Though he was one of the founders of the Free Soil 
party, and took all the hard knocks in the days of con- 
flict, he left to others the spoils of victory ; while his 
connection with the Republican party may be said to 
have ended with the death of Lincoln. The day after 
the funeral he had an interview with Andrew Johnson, 


in which they discussed the pohtical future. As both 
had been old Democrats, they were agreed as to the 
general principles of republican government. In the 
immediate crisis Mr. Field's most earnest hope was 
that the new President would carry out the conciliating 
policy of his predecessor. But Johnson was so wanting 
in tact, that he was soon at loggerheads with Congress, 
which threatened him with impeachment. Yet head- 
strong as he was, Mr. Field always thought that he 
was right and Congress wrong. But so eager was the 
latter to crush out whatever stood in its way, that it 
did not always stop to consider its own constitutional 
powers. Its assumptions of authority were checked 
only by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and even 
then the policy of the Government was to rule the 
South by force. ^^Seeing this tendency in the Repub- 
hcan party towards what he looked upon as a great 
political heresy, the centralizing of all power in the 
general government ; (a power that had become stiU 
more odious by giving the vote to millions of negroes, 
who could neither read nor write ;) this old Free Soiler 
gradually withdrew from the party which he had done 
so much to create, hoping for some better leadership 
from the lesson of sore experience. 

But the administration of Grant was a disappoint- 
ment almost equal to that of Johnson. He was a great 
soldier, but he carried too much of military authority 
into civil life, and thought he could govern the country 


as he commanded the army. So apparent was this 
that many of those who had supported him for the first 
term hoped that his own good sense would lead him 
to retire with dignity, and that the country would 
choose some wise statesman to preside over it. But 
could there be anything more grotesque than the nomi- 
nation of Horace Greelej^, who, "svith all his talents as 
an editor, was a man of great weaknesses, of a childish 
vanity, which those about him would use for their own 
selfish purposes ? So absurd did the nomination appear, 
that Mr. Field could not bring himself to take any part 
in the canvass, nor even to cast his vote. 

Thus relieved from all political ties, he was free 
to give himself up whollj' to his legal practice, which 
had grown to immense proportions, v. In looking over 
his papers, I find huge folios filled with reports of the 
great cases in which he was the leading counsel, and 
I am amazed at the multiplicity and variety of the 
questions raised. The principles of law may be few 
and simple, but their applications are infinite. And 
here comes into exercise a penetration which is a sort 
of genius, as it belongs only to a very high order of 
mind, a quality which, when united with eloquence of 
speech, makes the great advocate like Rufus Choate, a 
combination of talents that is inherited by one who 
bears that illustrious name. * 

*Mr. Joseph H. Choate, of ^lew York. 


A practice so large was of course a constant strain 
upon Mr. Field's intellectual and even physical strength. 
But did he count it a hardship ? On the contrary, it gave 
him the keenest enjoyment. No profession is a drudgery 
to him who is a master of it. An artist loves to paint, 
if he can paint ivell, and a great advocate is not unwill- 
ing to show the "hidings of his power." ► The harder 
the case the better ! The more it tasks his strength, 
the greater its fascination ! He is attracted by its 
very difficulties, as the man of science is attracted by 
a problem that taxes all his powers. The greater 
the issue, the greater the courage it demands, and 
the strategy in laying out the field and marshal- 
ling the evidence. But in all this there is a mental 
excitement, not unmixed with pleasure, especially by 
one who is conscious of his strength, and is of that 
combative temperament, which I must confess was 
fully developed in Mr. Field. As he was very positive 
in his opinions, so he was in his likes and dishkes. 
He was a man after Dr. Johnson's own heart, who 
"loved a good hater." He did not merely have a mild 
disapprobation of wrong : he hated it, and hated the 
man that did the wrong. And hence he looked upon 
fighting as in many cases not only the natural thing, 
but the right thing. If this wicked world was ever to 
be reformed, so he reasoned, it must be turned upside 
down ; and in order to this there must be fighting and 
a great deal of it. It was one of his maxims that the 


only men who made any lasting impression on the 
world were the fighters ! Where would have been the 
Reformation if Luther had not been a man of war ? 
And so he reasoned that, in his own profession of the 
law, "the combat" must "deepen" for years, and per- 
haps for generations, if there was to be any progress. 

With this instinct of the warrior, he never counted 
the odds, though he should be warned that there were 
many adversaries, nor even though it were added that 
there were giants among them ! He always preferred 
"a foeman worthy of his steel." Nothing irritated 
him more than to have a weak opponent, whose mind 
was so flabby that there was nothing to take hold of, 
or to make an impression upon. But give him a pow- 
erful antagonist, and he was more than willing to take 
the heaviest blows, as it was with him a point of honor 
to return them with interest. -^ 

This was one side of the man. But were it all I 
had to say of liim, it would do him great injustice, as 
it would give the impression that he was a man of 
iron (as he was), but that he was nothing more ; that 
he was a cold, hard man, with few friends and many 
enemies ; and withal that he was so preoccupied with 
the duties of his profession, that he had little time for 
the courtesies, the amenities, and the enjoyments of life. 

Nothing could be more unjust or untrue. He was 
indeed a many-sided man, engaged in manifold activi- 
ties, and enjoyed them all ; and was inflamed with 


the gaudium cei'taminis — "the rapture of the strife" 
— when he entered into the contests of the bar. 

But the bravest soldier sometimes longs for the quiet 
of his tent, and no one ever welcomed it more than 
Mr. Field. Though his professional life was in the 
city, he loved the country. He was a country bo}", 
born on the banks of the Connecticut, where he loved to 
sail on the broad river, or to ramble among the hills — 
a passion that remained with him till the last hour of 
his life. When he was fourteen years old, his father 
removed to Stockbridge, one of the most beautiful vil- 
lages of New England, where his son, even when grown 
to manhood, and occupied with large affairs, always 
spent his vacations, and the happiest day in all the year 
was that on which he turned his back on the city, and 
started for his summer home. He Avas particular as 
to the very day of going, and would take his flight, if 
possible, on the 20th of May, partly because it was his 
father's birthday, but also because it was the time of 
the apple blossoms. The valley of the Housatonic is 
full of orchards, which are then all aglow with their 
delicate white blossoms, and the air is laden with 
their perfume. 

His first home was at Laurel Cottage, near the foot 
of Laurel Hill, which Miss Sedgwick has made the 
scene of "a very thrilling passage in "Hope Leslie" ; 
but a few years later he bought a large farmhouse, 
perhaps a hundred years old, with two or three hun- 


dred acres of ground, on the top of a hill, that is a 
background for the village which it looks down upon, 
taking in the valley of the Housatonic, and having a 
wide sweep of mountains all round the horizon.* 

About the same tune I bought a more modest farm- 
house, with a few acres, a little farther to the West, so 
that we saw each other every day, and almost every 
hour of the day. He was very regular in his habits, 
rising early for his morning ride, in which I was often 
his companion. Nothing could be more exquisite than 
those rides over the hills, drinking in the dewy fresh- 
ness of the morning air, with the song of birds, and all 
the sights and sounds that mark the wakening of 
nature to a new day's life. If I was detained from 
going, I kept a lookout for him, and saw him at a dis- 
tance, as that tall figure came up the road under the 
willows, and if he caught sight of me, he was sure to 
turn into our grounds and ride up to the door to give 
me his morning salutation. He had been accustomed 
in his boyhood to hear the old divines of New England 
speak of this world as "a wilderness," which was fit 
only for a state of probation, and would call out to me, 
"Well, Henry ! for this 'wilderness world' this is 
pretty good ! " and then turn with a hearty laugh, and 
ride away, repeating some fragment of poetry, of which 

* Dean Stanley, who spent several days with Mr. Field, said 
the view was the most beautiful he had seen in America. 


his head was alwaj^s full. If it was after the summer 
was past, I could hear faintly the murmur of the famil- 
iar lines : 

" Ere, in the Northern gale. 

The Summer tresses of the trees are gone, 
The woods of Autumn, all around our vale, 
Have put their glory on." * 

Nor was he limited to his morning rides. Such was 
the exhilaration of being in the country, and living in 
the open air, that he was always getting up excursions 
to Monument Mountain, or Mount Everett at one end 
of the county, or Greylock at the other, from which 
he now and then rode over the mountains, and came 
down into the valley of the Connecticut. 

But the climate of New England is variable, and 
sometimes even in midsummer there was a day that 
was dark and dreary. But the sudden change did not 
trouble him. He was but too glad to have the excuse 
for a blazing fire, where, stretched in an easy chair, his 
"creature comforts" were complete, and if he had a 
few friends around him, he asked for nothing more. 
Then was the time to see him at his best, as he was 
free from care, and running over with reminiscences of 
past years and distant lands. 

* Written by Bryant when he was a young lawyer in Great 
Barrington, and published in the United States Literary Gazette, 
October 15th, 1824. 


From this animated conversation he would turn to 
reading. He had but Uttle taste for music or painting. 
He was not a connoisseur of pictures, and he hardly 
knew one tune from another. But he devoured books. 
He was fond of poetry, and had innumerable pieces 
at his tongue's end. Even the dullest listener could 
not but be roused by his ringing voice, as he read 
"The Ride of Paul Revere" and " How they brought 
the good news to Ghent. " Then turning to Milton, he 
would quicken his pace to the dancing gait of L' Allegro, 
and after a pause reduce it to the slow and measured 
steps of II Penseroso. 

But for subhmity of style there was nothing to 
him like the Bible. As he had been brought up 
to read it at morning prayers, he was familiar with 
it from Genesis to Revelation, and turned to it for 
its poetry and its eloquence. In this he was like Mr. 
Webster, of whom the late Chief Justice Chapman, of 
Massachusetts, once told me that the greatest intellect- 
ual treat of his life was in hearing him, not in a public 
lecture, but in private conversation, discourse of the 
Book of Job, of which he would talk by the hour, and 
on which he had sometimes wished to write a com- 
mentary ! Mr. Field had the same enthusiasm for his 
favorite psalms, such as "The Lord is my shepherd, 
I shall not want" ; and Luther's psalm, "God is our 
refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." 
In certain passages, such as ' ' They that go down to 


the sea in ships ; that do business in great waters ; 
these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the 
deep " ; there was a majestic roll like the roll of the sea, 
to which there came back a response like the sound of 
many waters, ' ' Oh that men would praise the Lord 
for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the 
children of men ! '' But his enthusiasm did not stop 
with the poetry of the Bible : he found poetry in its 
prose : in the stately rhythm of the old Hebrew, as in 
Solomon's dedication of the Temple, or Jacob's farewell 
to his sons. I can hear him now reading: "Reuben, 
thou art my first-born ; my might and the beginning 
of my strength," and "The sceptre shall not depart 
from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, 
till Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of 
the people be. " 

These are sweet memories of a brother's life, but 
there was something nearer and sweeter still. While 
he had good will toward all men, his affection was 
reserved for an inner circle, into which no stranger 
could intrude. What he was to his daughter and her 
children will appear in the next chapter, when we follow 
him in pursuit of them round the globe. But what he 
was to his brothers I can tell. Our father's family was 
a large one — ten children in all — eight sons and two 
daughters. But one by one they dropped away, till, 
a full quarter of a century ago, the two sisters and 
four of the eight brothers were gone, leaving behind 


Dudley, Stephen, Cyrus, and myself, as the only sur- 
vivors. As three of us lived in New York, it needed 
only a visit from the Judge in Washington to bring us 
all together. Those were our happiest moments, when 
we could sit round one small table — "we four and no 
more ! " — and all be boys again. We talked of all 
things past, present and to come ; of school days and 
College days ; of our modest ambitions as we looked 
out from the Berkshire Hills upon the great world at 
a distance, and began to dream dreams and to see vis- 
ions ; of our early struggles and disappointments ; and 
of the varied hfe of the after years. Into all this no 
one of us entered with more of abandon to the spirit of 
the hour. As he talked of his youth, his youth came 
back again ; the old light was in his eyes ; and an 
inexpressible sweetness (of wliich no man had more for 
those he loved) flushed in the noble countenance. And 
now — as I think of the immense vitality that carried 
him into his ninetieth year ; of the great part that he 
acted in the world ; and of all that he was to us who 
knew him best ; whereby he drew to himself love at 
home and honor abroad — it seems as if he touched life 
at every point, and got out of it as much as it had to 
give, or that was worth living for. If it were all to 
be put in a single line, I know of none more fitting 
than that which was written of Walter Savage Landor, 
" He warmed both hands at the fire of life ! " 



The year 186 G will be memorable in history as that 
in which two hemispheres were united, so that it could 
be said, in a real and true sense, that there was no 
more sea ! The honor of that great achievement be- 
longs to an American, as was fully recognized by the 
best authorities, who knew its whole histor}^ from the 
beginning to the end, such as Lord Kelvin and the late 
Sir James Anderson and Sir John Pender. There was 
nothing in which the Great Commoner of England, John 
Bright, delighted more than to refer, as he did in his 
speeches again and again, to "his friend Cyrus Field," 
as ' ' the Columbus of our time, who, after no less than 
forty voyages across the Atlantic in pursuit of the great 
aim of his life, had at length by his cable moored the 
New World close alongside the Old ! " That magnifi- 
cent tribute was simple justice. But there was an inside 
history to the great undertaking. No one outside of his 
own family will ever know the terrible strain of those 
twelve long years, and how the spirit of the projector, 
when cast down by defeat, was ralUed and reanimated 


by the undaunted courage of his eldest brother, who saw 
in this iron hnk between the two countries, not only a 
commercial benefit to both, but a new tie drawing nearer 
together those who were of the same blood. Now that 
the work was done, and that the two countries were no 
more divided by the sea, but were literally within speak- 
ing distance, why cDuld they not be brought into the 
closest relations of mutual confidence ? 

This was a dream that Mr. Field had long cherished. 
Every summer he spent a few days or weeks in England, 
where he had a large acquaintance with public men — 
lawyers and judges, and members of Parliament — among 
whom he found a great liberality of thought on all polit- 
ical questions. Indeed he often said that, while America 
was more democratic in her institutions, there was more 
individual independence in England. We were too much 
in bondage to parties, or to public opinion, the most 
despicable tyrant that ever reigned over a high-spirited 
people. A democracy might be the most galling tyranny 
in the world. Better have one tyrant than a thousand ! 
Hence he felt that, in the great lesson of good govern- 
ment, we had much to learn as well as much to give. 
So he exchanged experiences with his English friends 
with the utmost frankness, both assured that, no matter 
how many defeats the cause of liberty might suffer, 
right and justice would prevail at the last : that 

" Freedom's battle once begun, 
Though often lost, is ever won." 


The first thing was to have a perfect understanding 
between the two countries. To this end he spoke in 
England as he spoke in America, with the utmost frank- 
ness ; aiming to exorcise distrust wherever he found it 
on either side, and to allay the sensitiveness that made 
it a matter of pride that each should stand in armed de- 
fiance of the other. Such an attitude of jealousy and 
suspicion was unworthy of either. Instead of this he 
would that there should be a union in the two peoples 
of all true-hearted men — the good, the wise, and the 
brave — in a brotherhood that might in time take a legal 
form by act of Congress and of Parliament. Nor need 
it stop there, but extend from country to country, till 
all nations should be bound together in a Holy Alliance, 
not of despots and tyrants, but of the kindred races of 

That very year (1866) Mr. Field was present at a 
meeting of the British Association for the Promotion of 
Social Science at Manchester, and, perhaps inspired by 
the great event that had sent an electric thrill through 
two continents, he proposed the appointment of a com- 
mittee to prepare the Outlines of an International Code, * 

* Happily this scene is not left entirely to the imagination. 
At the time an enterprising searcher after situations that prom- 
ised to be turning points of history, took a photograph of 
"Mr. Field proposing the preparation of an International Code," 
in which appear the well-known faces of some of England's most 
illustrious men. 


which it should report for correction and amendment, 
and that, when thus completed, should be presented 
to the different countries represented for their adoption. 
The suggestion was welcomed with enthusiasm, and 
a committee of eminent jurists appointed on the spot. 
But when it came to carrying it out, they found an 
embarrassment from their wide separation, so that each 
one would have to work as it were " at arm's length," 
when they needed to be in constant consultation. 
Mr. Field, however, did not lose heart or hope, but 
returned to the charge the next year at the meeting 
of the Association in Belfast, in an address on the 
Community of Nations ; all of which were one in that 
their interests were one ; while England and America 
were so bound together by ties of blood that war 
between them would be nothing less than fratricide. 
No matter which was victorious, it would be an 
unspeakable calamity to both. He said : 

' ' We may look upon England and America frowning at each 
other across the Atlantic ; mutually jealous, slow to redress 
injuries, and ready to offer or receive affronts. Stimulated by 
bad men, in the passionate madness of the hour, they rush into 
war for what is foolishly called the supremacy of the seas. Let 
it become an internecine war. We should fight each other by 
sea and land. There would be battles in the Atlantic, the 
Pacific, and the Indian Oceans. Wherever we could strike each 
other, we should strike. You would batter down some of our 
towns, and we some of yours. Timid merchantmen flying from 
pursuing cruisers, burning houses along the coasts, and ships 


sunk upon the sea, would bear witness to the madness and f ury 
of the great contending nations. At the end of all, after each 
had burned and killed enough, one might be driven from the 
sea, leaving the other in undisputed supremacy. But would 
either be better off than when the war began? Would the 
beaten and humiliated combatant be as useful to the victor as 
before ? Would the victor be wiser, better, or happier ; to say 
nothing of that store of hate which would be accumulated and 
laid aside for the renewed strife of a later generation ? Would 
the merchants of London and New York, or of Belfast and Bos- 
ton, have gained by turning rich and useful customers into 
exasperated and impoverished enemies ? Would the institutions 
of England or America be improved by the conflict? Would 
not the wealth and culture of both — all, indeed, w-hich makes 
man better and happier in each — be lessened in the waste and 
desolation of the struggle ? " 

This was not the language of fear, deprecating a 
contest for which one side was unprepared — it was the 
manlj' utterance of reason and justice, spoken in the 
name of humanity, and in the name of Almighty God, 
who is the Father of all the nations of the earth, and 
would have His children dwell together in unity. 

That this might be our inheritance forever, it should 
not be left to rest only on sentiment, but be assured by 
a recognition of the Community of Nations, which were 
indeed but separate members of one great family. 
This was a part of modern civilization, of which the 
ancients knew nothing. Two thousand years ago 
every state that was conscious of its power stood apart, 


sovereign and alone, in proud isolation and defiance : 
" Old empires sat in sullenness and gloom," 

hardly recognizing a common humanity. In the Latin 
language the very word liostis meant at once stranger 
and enemy. There was no right but that of the 
strongest. As Rome and Carthage looked across 
the Mediterranean, the highest ambition of each was 
to destroy the other. The Carthaginians claimed the 
supremacy of the sea, and if any strange sail rose above 
the horizon, they pursued it as if it were a pirate, and 
seized its crew and threw them overboard. Nor did a 
Roman feel that he violated any law, human or divine, 
if he killed a Carthaginian. That two great powers, 
looking out upon the same blue sea, could live as 
friendly neighbors, never occurred to them. The idea 
of the brotherhood of the whole human race was born 
with Christianity. 

But century after century had to come and go before 
this brotherhood was recognized among communities 
and states. It was not till what are comparatively 
modern times, less than three hundred years ago, that 
Grotius gave form to international law in his great 
work on the Rights of War and Peace [De Jure Belli 
et Pacis] , which was followed by Puf endorf some fifty 
years after. But what they wrote then may not serve 
the purpose now, for this is not the same world as that 
of Grotius and Pufendorf . The nations do not stand 


apart as they did three hundred, or one hundred, or even 
fifty years ago. The ends of the earth are coming 
together till it may almost be said that there are no 
more "foreign countries." With our ease of cormnu- 
nication it is as if we were of one language and of one 
speech, and international communication leads almost 
of necessity to international law. But it may be more 
easy to understand one another's language than their 
ideas of justice. If those who are brought in contact 
were homogeneous, their relations would easily adjust 
themselves. But in many cases their ways and ours 
are not only different, but antagonistic, as we are of 
different races and religions. There are in the world 
a hundred and twenty millions of Moslems, to whom 
the only law is that of the Koran, so that between 
Egyptians and Englishmen justice has to be adminis- 
tered by mixed tribunals composed of representatives 
of both. With such confusion of ideas, it is not always 
possible, even with the best intentions, to be just to 
others, and just to ourselves. 

Who then shall make the law for nations ? Is it not 
almost inevitable that it will be made by force ; that the 
%vill of the stronger will be imposed upon the weaker ? 

And where should a reformer begin ? Was it neces- 
sary to turn upside down the whole fabric of existing 
law, crude as it might be ? By no means. Mr. Field 
was no iconoclast to break in pieces the idols of the past. 
His idea was not to destroy, but to improve. The world 


would move slowly at best, but it might be kept moving 
in the right direction. With no visionary dreams of a 
millennium, or of an ideal state of society, he believed 
that it was possible for nations to adjust their relations 
to one another on such a broad plane of fairness and 
mutual benefit, that they should no longer dream of 
the glory of conquest as the height of their ambition. 

But the preservation of peace was only one part of 
International Law, though it might be the most impor- 
tant part. Yet in its full extent it included all the rela- 
tions of one country to another. As Mr. Field puts it : 

"International law is that body of rules recognized among 
nations, defining their rights and duties toward each other, and 
the rights and duties of their people respectively, as growing out 
of international relations. The law is vast in extent and infinite 
in detail. It encircles the earth, holds or assiunes to hold the 
strongest nations in its grasp, and affects to a greater or less 
extent the relation of every human being. You may intrench 
yourself in camps and fortresses, yet its voice will reach you ; 
you may take the wings of morning, but you cannot escape its 
presence. Its office is to regulate the conduct of your own 
nation toward all other nations and all strangers ; and to govern 
and protect you into whatever part of the world you go. No 
sovereign is so haughty, no subject so poor, as to be beyond its 
authority. It knows neither latitude nor longitude, wears the 
same face under northern and southern skies, and utters one 
voice to the Caucasian, the African, and the Mongolian." 

So vast was the realm over which International Law 
had sway. It was a power like gravitation that held 


the world together. But to some it seemed to be an 
indefinite and almost intangible tiling, which it was 
quite impossible to reduce to any fixed form. It was 
like one of the forces of nature, which, however power- 
ful, could not be confined, and, as it were, imprisoned 
within the iron bars of a Code. So thought Lord 
Russell, the Lord Chief Justice of England, who is cer- 
tainly one of the first authorities in the world. In a 
recent Address before the American Bar Association, 
he refers to the work of Mr. Field, but thinks he at- 
tempted the impossible. He says : 

" The rules of international law are not to be traced with the 
comparative distinctness with which municipal law may be 
ascertained. I would not advocate the codification of interna- 
tional law. The attempt has been made, as you know, by Field 
in this country, and by Professor Bluntschli of Heidelberg, and 
by some Italian jiu-ists, but has made little way towards success. 
Indeed, codification has a tendency to an-est progress. It has 
been so found, even where branches or heads of municipal law 
have been codified, and it will at once be seen how much less 
favorable a field for such an enterprise international law pre- 
sents, where so many questions are still indeterminate. After 
all it is to be remembered that jural law in its widest sense is as 
old as society itself ; ubi societas ibi jus est ; but international 
law, as we know it, is a modern invention. It is in a state of 
growth and transition. To codify it would be to crystalize it ; 
uncodified it is more flexible and more easily assimilates new 
rules. While agreeing, therefore, that indeterminate points 
should be determined and that we should aim at raising the 
ethical standard, I do not think we have yet reached the point 


at which codification is practicable, or if practicable would be 
a public good." * 

But Mr. Field, with American audacity, saw no 
such impassable barriers in the way. He had read the 
prophecy of the last days, that the valleys should be 
exalted and the hills made low to prepare an highway 
for the coming of the Prince of Peace, and every strong- 
armed toiler could help to clear obstructions out of the 
way. As to the impossibility of framing a 'Code,' he 
had said long before : 

' ' There is no more difficulty in framing a Code of Interna- 
tional Law than of national, or (as it is sometimes, though 
inaccurately, called,) municipal law. The established rules of 
International Law have already a written record ; they are con- 
tained in the treaties entered into between nations, in acts of 
legislation, in the decision of courts of law, and in treatises of 
publicists. All that is thus contained can be gathered from its 
various repositories, condensed, analyzed, and arranged, and 
stated in distinct propositions." 

* Lord Russell adds in the very next paragraph, ' ' Among the 
most successful experiments in codification in English commu- 
nities have been those in Anglo-India, particularly the Penal 
Code, and the Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure." He was 
probably not aware that this was, in part at least, a contribution 
from Mr. Field, who, in his journey round the world, spent a 
few days at Singapore, and inquiring of the Attorney-General, 
who called to see him, what was the Code of the Straits Settle- 
ments, was answered, "The Code of New York" ! and indeed, 
turning to the printed page, he read the very words that he had 
written in his library on the other side of the globe. 


Between two such authorities, it would be presum- 
ing to give an opinion, but for Mr. Field it must be 
said that he claimed nothing more than to be a pio- 
neer of reform, leading the way where others would 
follow. Though for convenience he used the word 
"Code" * as part of a title, he took good care to define 
the limits of what he undertook. In the preface he says : 
" This work should be taken for what its name imports : 
Draft Outlines of an International Code. It is not put 
forth as a completed Code, nor yet as the completed 
Outlines of a Code, but as a Draft of the Outlines." 
Surely it would not be possible to take a more unpreten- 
tious title. It was an experiment rather than a finality. 
He said: "It is intended for suggestion, and is to 
undergo careful and thorough revision." He was 
content to labor, and that other men should enter 
into his labors. In the second edition he makes full 
acknowledgment of what he has received from others : 
"I have had the advantage of many suggestions, and 
have given the work a careful revision." Nor was he 
disturbed if others should claim all the honor, quite 
wilhng to leave it to those who should come after him 
to do him justice. 

* Even the word ' 'Law" itself has to be used in a peculiar sense, 
for strictly speaking there can be no such thing as law which 
does not emanate from a lawgiver, who has the authority to 
make the law, and power to enforce it. both of which are want- 
ing in the case of International Law. 


The first step was a study of the existing state of 
International Law as laid down by writers of authority 
on the multitudinous subjects which it embraces, and 
as recognized in treaties between different countries. 
The treaties made by Great Britain, if not a law to 
the world, were a law to herself, so far as concerned 
the countries with which they were made. If other 
countries were to adopt the same rules, there might 
grow up a general consensus of opinion and practice, 
which would have the force, if not the form, of an 
enactment of law. Another authority was found in 
the diplomatic correspondence between different gov- 
ernments ; and another still in the judicial decisions 
of the higher courts in cases involving contested 
points. These investigations, spread over a field so 
vast, were reduced to a general result by drafting 
into separate articles what were accepted as rules 
of law, with comments and arguments in their sup- 
port. The burden of this original examination and 
analysis of authorities, throughout the greater part of 
the work, was borne by Mr. Austin Abbott and his 
partner, Mr. Howard Payson Wilds, and, on certain 
special subjects, by Mr. Charles Francis Stone, all 
members of the New York bar. Mr. Wilds was en- 
gaged in these researches for nearly five years.* 

* President Barnard, of Columbia College, prepared the titles 
on " Money," " Weights and Measures," " Longitude and Time," 
and "Sea Signals." 


With such experts ransacking hbraries and explor- 
ing every source of information, there was accumulated 
a mass of material that would have dismayed a man of 
less courage than Mr. Field. But with his tempera- 
ment, the greatness of the undertaking only stimulated 
his indomitable energy, and all the hours that he could 
snatch from his professional engagements — his morn- 
ings and his midnights — were given to the work of 
International Law. 

And what came out of all these busy years ? A brand 
new Code, evolved out of his own brain ? Not at all ! 
It was the same old law with modern improvements. 
Was the law the only branch of human knowledge in 
which there was no such thing as progress ? The 
world was changing and the law must change with it. 
If this was taking liberties with the past, it was a lib- 
erty that must be taken by any generation ^vith the 
work of its predecessors. 

But modest as were its pretensions, the ' ' Outlines 
of a Code" grew and grew into a volume that quite 
appalls the ordinary reader. If I do not attempt a 
critical analysis of such a work, it is because that is too 
high for me ; it belongs to one whose life has been 
given to legal studies, who only can appreciate the vast 
range of subjects (the table of contents alone covers 
forty pages ! ), and is competent to analyze each separate 
part, so as to judge how far it is a real contribution to 
International Law. 


Without attempting anything so ambitious, it may 
be permitted to one who is not a lawyer to dwell briefly 
on the last third of the book, which is given up to War, 
in which it is apparent that the author has put into it, 
not only his legal knowledge, but his whole heart, 
hoping that long after he had passed away it might 
remain as a plea for peace and good will among men. 

To begin with, he did not deny that a war might 
be sometimes inevitable — coming like a convulsion of 
nature, a storm or an earthquake, which man was pow- 
erless to resist. Nor would he deny that wars had some- 
times subserved the cause of liberty and of civilization. 
The gallant fleets of England destroyed the Spanish 
Armada. By a seven years' war our country won her 
independence. By a civil war of four years slavery was 
destroyed. By war Italy was made united and free. 
No appeal to justice could have persuaded Austria to 
give up Lombardy and Venice : they had to be wrenched 
from her on the field of battle. The tyrant Bomba 
ruled Naples and Sicily till he was driven out by the 
invasion of Garibaldi. In such cases war was the 
only relief from a situation that was too terrible to 
be borne. 

But for the most part wars were precipitated by pride, 
hatred or ambition. For such a war Mr. Field had a 
double abhorrence : not only because it was wicked, but 
because it was insane, in that it did not settle anything 
but the question of brute force ! It did not prove that 


the victorious power was right ; that its cause was 
just ; and that the conquered state, which shrank back 
defeated and almost destroyed, was a sinner above other 
nations, or indeed above its victorious enemy. Nor did 
it even settle the question of peace. On the contrary, 
one war sowed the seed of other wars, that might be 
continued from generation to generation, till one power 
or the other was destroyed ; or if permitted to exist, 
it was only as a subject or a slave ! 

Looking then at the question from before and after, 
Mr. Field reasoned that the proper moment to stop a 
war was before it was begun ; before any rash act had 
put either power where it could not retreat with honor, 
or at least without a sacrifice of national pride. There- 
fore he reasoned that in case of differences between 
two countries, the mode of procedure should be settled 
beforehand, so that neither should be thrown off its 
balance by some sudden irritation, but could look at any 
question in the clear light and tranquil atmosphere of 
peace and friendship. To this end he suggested three 
simple provisions, which, if followed, would make war 
almost impossible : 

"First: that there should be a simultaneous reduc- 
tion of the enormous armaments which now weigh 
upon Europe ! " That alone would save millions of 
dollars a day, and thus lift a burden that presses sorely 
upon every power on the continent ; while the mere 
pause would cool the hot blood of the belhgerents. 


"Second: that if any disagreement or cause of 
complaint should arise between nations, the one 
aggrieved should give formal notice to the other, speci- 
fying in detail the causes of complaint and the redress 
sought, and that this complaint should be formally 
answered within a certain period." This would prevent 
hasty action, and give time for both parties to think it 
over, and to ask themselves if there were really anything 
in dispute that was worth fighting about. If such a 
course had been pursued by France and Germany before 
the fatal declaration of July, 1870, we should probably 
have been spared the last Franco- German war ; although 
it must in truth be said that the French were so mad 
for war, to show that France, and not Germany, was 
the great military power of the continent, that it is 
doubtful whether anything could take the conceit out 
of them but a few tremendous defeats. Then, indeed, 
they began to open their eyes, and would have gladly 
retreated. But it was too late, and they had to drink 
the cup of humiliation to the very dregs. We on this 
side of the Atlantic have taken care to avoid any possi- 
bility of misunderstanding with our neighbors by insert- 
ing a provision in our treaties with Bolivia, Guatemala, 
Peru, San Salvador and New Granada, that a blow 
should never be struck without full notice of any griev- 
ance that might be peaceably composed. 

' ' Third and last : If the parties did not agree, 
they were to appoint a Joint High Commission " ; 


[representing the two countries] ' ' and if that failed, a 
Tribunal of Arbitration " [made up of representatives 
from other nations friendl}'- to both] . 

Could there be anything more simple than this ? 
Would it involve any sacrifice of dignity on the side of 
either party ? Was there any humiliation in arguing 
a question in a tone and temper of mutual respect, as 
if each had the fullest confidence in the sincerity and 
fairness of the other ? Such frankness would be a les- 
son in national manhood. 

We need not theorize about it when we have a case 
in point, that is the best of all arguments. At the close 
of our civil war there was a very bitter feeling against 
England, from whose ports had gone out the ships that 
had preyed upon our commerce till they had nearly 
driven it from the ocean. The case hngered for six 
years till Mr. Gladstone, seeing that the fires were still 
smouldering, with a frankness that did him infinite 
honor, made advances towards having the question 
settled forever ; and, as if to show that England was 
ready to meet us more than half way, instead of invit- 
ing the American representatives to come to London, 
he sent the English representatives to Washington, to 
deliberate ^vith us under the shadow of the Capitol, where 
both sides went to work with such earnest purpose, 
that in a few weeks they had agreed to submit the whole 
question to a Tribunal of Arbitration, to be composed 
of five members ; one to be designated by the Queen, 


and anotlier by the President ; with a request to the 
King of Italy, the President of the Swiss Confederation, 
and the Emperor of Brazil, each to name an arbitrator, 
and in case of the failure of either to act, the request 
was to be transferred to the King of Sweden and Norway. 

When the treaty was duly signed and sealed, the 
English representatives came on to New York to embark 
for home, and the night before they sailed, they were 
entertained by Mr. Cyrus Field at Delmonico's, where 
they had the opportunity of meeting several hundreds 
of our most eminent citizens. The feeling on both sides 
was one of unbounded relief and satisfaction. I can 
hear now the ringing voice of the Marquis of Ripon 
saying proudly, ' ' The treaty between the two countries 
is an honest treaty, of which neither has reason to be 
ashamed ! " Ashamed indeed ? There is nothing in all 
our history of which we have more reason to be proud. 

A few months later the Tribunal met in Geneva, 
and after listening to the arguments of great advo- 
cates on both sides, gave their decision that England 
should pay an indemnity of fifteen millions of dollars ! 
Was it a humiliation of England that the case went 
against her? Then was it a humiliation for us that 
another arbitration a year or two later about the fisheries 
on the coast of Newfoundland went against us ! The 
only difference was that we had to pay but five millions, 
while England had to pay fifteen ! Does that seem a 
great deal of money ? Both together would not have 


paid the cost of war for a week ! But really the ques- 
tion of money is too paltry to be so much as named 
when two governments have to decide the policy of two 
great countries that profess to be civilized and Christian. 
In closing the address with which he presented the 
International Code, Mr. Field took good care to guard 
himself from misrepresentation : 

" I do not mean to say that every claim which one nation 
may make upon another should be submitted to arbitration. 
There may be claims which no self-respecting nation would sub- 
mit to any arbiter, such as those which touch its equality or 
independence. To put an extreme case : suppose Spain were to 
claim the sovereignty of Holland, pretending that it had not 
been lost by Philip II, or by any of his successors, I would not 
have Holland submit such a claim to the decision of any arbiter 
or of any human power. It is not difficult to draw the line 
between questions which can, and those which cannot, be sub- 
mitted to arbitration." 

But if war is inevitable, or has already come, then 
how shall it be conducted ? There is such a thing as 
civilized war. War does not destroy all rights on 
either side, for even enemies have rights. First of all, 
war cannot be waged upon women and children, or 
peaceable citizens going about their lawful occupations. 
If a city is to be attacked, notice should be given to 
non-combatants, that they may get out of the way. 
To bombard a city with a hundred thousand inhabit- 
ants in their houses, or going about the streets, would 


be an act of barbarism, as atrocious as to set it on 
jSre, The people of Moscow indeed put the torch to 
their own city as a means of self-defence. But if Napo- 
leon had set fire to it, his name would live in history 
as that of another Attila, the scourge of God ! 

The first principle of civilized warfare is that it shall 
be waged only between armed forces on land or sea. 
This is imperative if we are to preserve the character 
of civilized nations, and not wage war as savages and 
barbarians. Against this savagery the proposed revis- 
ion of International Law sets up every barrier of civil- 
ization. If nations are seized with such madness that 
they must have it out on the field of battle, let them 
fight like men, and not like demons, whose only thought 
is that of destruction, of the innocent as well as the 
guilty, of the helpless as well as the strong. There is 
at least a certain decency to be observed in the way 
that nations begin and conduct a war. Here are a few 
of the barriers that must not be broken down. There 
shall be no wanton destruction of private property. 
Armies may fight with swords and guns and cannons, 
but not with poisoned weapons, nor explosive bullets 
that not only kill, but tear the body in pieces. And 
the Sisters of Charity and other good angels that hover 
over the battlefield or watch in the hospitals to relieve 
the agony of the wounded and the dying, shall be 
sacred from all rude hands. Nor shall any fierce 
invader bombard towns and cities that have no defence. 


All these ways of making war are relics of an age of 
barbarism. Then follow chapters with such sugges- 
tive titles as these : 

" Of those who may icage hostilities; against tvhom hostilities 
may be tcaged ; the instruments and modes of hostilities ; truce 
and armistice ; medical and religious service ; prisoners ; hostil- 
ities against property ; contraband of tear ; visitation, search, 
and capture ; blockade ; prize ; and the effect of ivar uiion the 
obligations of nations and their members, upon intercourse and 
the administration of justice. In respect of neutrals, the abso- 
lute right of a nation to remain neutral while others are at war 
is asserted in the strongest terms." 

Here is an array of topics, each of which is enough 
for a treatise or a volume. But the end to be secured 
was worthy of all the labor of the greatest and the best 
of all countries, for it is a combined effort to put an end 
forever to one of the greatest calamities that can afflict 

" I do not say," said Mr. Field, "that war is the greatest 
of all calamities, for I think that national degradation and 
slavery, or general corruption and the reign of fraud, are 
evils still greater. An oppressed people may and must rise 
against its oppressors. A nation attacked may and must defend 
itself. He who would not fight to the death in defense of his 
family or his country is not fit for this world. But, in propor- 
tion as the defense is just, the attack is unjust. There would 
be no occasion for the rising of an oppressed people if there were 
no oppression, and no need of defensive war if there were not 
first an aggressive war. And, of course, in proportion as you 
diminish the aggression you diminish the defense. In other 


words, if there were no aggressive and unjust war, there would 
be no war of defense — that is to say, no war at all. 

"Nor would I detract in the least from the merits of those great 
captains who, fighting for the rights of their countrymen, have 
earned renown ; nor would I dispute that there is in war frequent 
occasion for, as there has often been a display of, high heroic vir- 
tues. But the great men who displayed these virtues have them- 
selves deplored the occasion and the evils of the war which they 
had been obliged to wage. Our own Washington was not only first 
in war but first in peace, as he was -first in the hearts of his 
countrymen ; and it was the Duke of Wellington, if I remember 
right, who said that there was nothing worse than a battle 
gained except a battle lost. 

" I would not, indeed, discourage the cultivation of the heroic 
virtues or take away the opportunities of their exercise ; but, 
assuredly, war is not the only school where they can be culti- 
vated or exhibited. There will always be suffering enough in 
the world for the exercise of all the virtues. Does not the ship- 
master who puts his ship about in a stormy sea at the signal of 
a shipwrecked brother, and stays by him through the dark and 
perilous night till the daylight comes, that he may save him 
at the risk of his own life, exhibit as much heroism as any of 
those who fought at Waterloo ? Did not the captain of the 
Northfleet, who the other day calmly accepted death that he 
might save women and children, exhibit as much heroic virtue 
as any of the brave six hundred who charged at Balaklava ? 
Was Howard less a hero than Marlborough ? Would you not as 
soon deserve the eulogy which Burke pronounced upon the for- 
mer, as the poem with which Addison celebrated the victory of 
the latter? Let him who would win renown through labor, 
endurance, and self-sacrifice, go abroad into the world and make 
war upon the wrong with which it is filled." 


With such devotion to the welfare of our race, the 
"good time" for which we have been waiting through 
all the centuries would soon come. Indeed in the vis- 
ion of the speaker, it was coming now, and with this 
glimpse of the dawn he brought his words to a close : 

' ' I am not sanguine enough to suppose that war is in our time 
to be put an end to altogether, but I do suppose that increased 
intercourse and the general progress of civilization have more 
and more inclined men to the ways of peace. The armor that 
now hangs useless in our baronial halls ; the battlements that 
now serve for ornament in place of defense ; the walls of cities 
once formidable but now converted into promenades ; are so 
many witnesses of successive steps in the progress from contin- 
ual war to frequent and long-enduring peace. I do suppose, 
further, that, by judicious international arrangements, the 
chances of war occurring may be lessened, and that when, 
unfortunately, it does occur, its evils may be mitigated. Such 
has been the object of the imperfect work which I now 
place, with all its defects, in the library of this Association, 
the closing act of a task undertaken seven years ago, and 
now fulfilled." 

With this Mr. Field laid down the burden that he had 
taken upon him seven years before. It was a work in 
which it was impossible to make rapid progress. He 
had to advance slowly, revising and re-revising every 
page and line — only to feel at last that it was still very 
"imperfect," and to submit it "with all its defects ! " 
From this self-depreciation we may appeal to the judg- 
ment of eminent jurists in Europe, and to the fact that 


it has been translated into French and Itahan. Yet to 
a work on which he spent years of labor, he gave only 
the title of ' ' Outlines, " as if it were but the dim fore- 
shadowing of Avhat he would have it to be. Such 
indeed it was. This was not an affectation of modesty, 
but an expression of his sense of how little he, or any 
one man, could do. He would have been the last to 
ask others to be satisfied with what did not satisfy him- 
self, for he looked ujDon International Law as a jjrogres- 
sive science, which must advance with the progress of 
manldnd. The utmost he hoped to do was to make his 
contribution to the "common weal" of the world. 
Those who came after him would have far greater 
opportunities, as they would have the wisdom of all the 
ages. He was but one of the pioneers that went before 
the grand army of progress to point the way. To the 
future it belongs to fill up the "Outlines" that have here 
been sketched on a broad canvas by a master's hand. 



In the army of the United States officers of high 
rank are retired at the age of sixty-four ! Their days 
of battle are over ; their names are placed on the roll 
of honor, and they can take their seats, like Roman 
emperors, in the Coliseum, and look down serenely 
upon those who are still engaged in the combats of the 
arena. But in the professions there is no limit of age. 
There may be veterans, but there are no pensioners, 
who are provided for by a grateful country. Nor 
would a man like Mr. Field accept any price, or any 
honor, that retired him to the rear, which he would 
have looked upon as a gilded exile from the stormy 
activities of hfe. To live he must keep in the ranks of 
war. That inaction would have cut short his days 
seems probable, when we recall the fact that, after he 
passed the age of military retirement, he not only sur- 
vived, but was an actor in the stirring events of his 
time, for another quarter of a century ! 

But he must have now and then a change of scene, 
which he found by frequent visits to England and the 
Continent, where he had so many friends that he was 


as much at home as in his own country. He had also 
travelled in the East. But now there was an attrac- 
tion which drew him farther still. He was nearing the 
line of seventy when he set out on the longest journey 
of his life — to go round the world ; and not by the 
shortest line, straight east along a Northern latitude, 
but by the longest, that crossed the Equator, and 
reached far down into the Southern Hemisphere. The 
distance was great, but the attraction was greater, for 
there at the Antipodes was the idol of his heart, his 
only daughter, who was predestined to a life in ' ' lands 
remote " when she became the wife of a Governor of a 
British Colony. Sir Anthony Musgrave was the Gov- 
ernor of Newfoundland at the time of the laying of the 
Atlantic Telegraph in 1866, and gave a hearty English 
welcome to Mr. Cyrus Field. This was the beginning 
of an acquaintance, not only with his familj^, but with 
that of his brother Dudley, whose only daughter he 
married in 1870, when Sir Anthony was Governor of 
British Columbia. From this distant post he was sent 
half way round the world to Africa, to be Governor of 
Natal ; and next was promoted to the Governorship of 
South Australia, where Mr. Field set out to seek his 
child, literally at the world's end. 

But he could not go anywhere, to an}^ part of the 
habitable globe, without keeping in mind the great mis- 
sion of his life, the Reform of the Law. He had fin- 
ished his New York Codes, and they were fighting their 


way across the Continent. When he went abroad, he 
found a similar movement in other countries, which, if 
not inspired from America was along the same lines, 
and working to the same end, so that their reformers 
and ours could exchange ideas in the most friendly 
way, as fellow- workers in the same good cause. We 
could reach out our hands across the sea, not only to 
the great nation from which we are sprung, but to all 
the races to which we were more distantly allied. 
Mr. Field's ideas always had a logical relation one to 
another ; and in his mind the natural order of progress 
was that justice should go before, and liberty would 
follow after ; and that ' ' the fruit of righteousness 
would be peace," not only in the spiritual life, but in 
all the relations that are formed among men. 

This would be better than all the Peace Societies, 
which had attempted much, but accomplished little. 
There was a Peace Society in this country, which held an 
anniversary once a year in Tremont Temple, in Boston ; 
as another society met in Exeter Hall, in London ; at 
which good men and good women deplored the great 
armies and great battles, and prayed for universal peace. 
But so far as stopping war, they did not so much 
as stir a ripple on the mighty waters of public opinion 
in Europe or in America. This was brought home to 
us very clearly one evening in May, 1873, when Mr. 
Field invited a few friends to his house in Gramercy 
Park, to hear the report of Dr. James B. Miles, who 


had been abroad as the agent of the American Peace 
Society. It was the same old story. Everybody in 
England was in theory as much for peace as John 
Bright, and yet that did not prevent constant warlike 
preparations. Was there not a better way to culti- 
vate the amenities out of which grow friendly relations 
by looking into kindly faces, and listening to kindly 
voices ? This was a large question to be discussed 
before a small company in a private parlor. But tall 
oaks from little acorns grow, and that very evening 
these gentlemen resolved themselves into a modest 
"Committee" — out of which grew a body more impos- 
ing in name, as well as in numbers and in power, as it 
brought together a few months later at Brussels some 
of the most distinguished publicists of England and the 
Continent, to form ' 'An Association for the Reform and 
Codification of the Law of Nations," of which Mr. Field 
was chosen the first President. 

The movement was a success from the very begin- 
ning. The peculiar charm of the new organization was 
its unpretentiousness, its simplicity and its absolute free- 
dom. It claimed no authority. It was in no sense a 
political body, composed of delegates from different 
countries, to advocate some policy that might be more 
favorable to one than another. It was more like the 
scientific associations that meet from year to year, now 
in London or Edinburgh, and now in Paris or Vienna, 
to record new discoveries in science, and lead the way to 


still greater achievements. Nor was it limited to jurists, 
but included statesmen and political economists, with 
perhaps here and there a dreamy philosopher, who had 
in his brain some social reorganization, that would be a 
cure for all the ills of the human race. But this only 
enlivened the discussions, as it showed the wide range 
of opinion that was allowed, and the contact, or even 
collision, of such theorists with men who were nothing 
if not "practical," might enlarge the ideas of both. 
Naturally an intercourse so free and unrestrained led to 
the formation of many friendships, as all national prej- 
udices dissolved in the warm atmosphere of a generous 
enthusiasm for a great cause, that of universal justice 
and peace. 

At the close of this first meeting Mr. Field gave 
a dinner to the members, at which the burgomaster 
of Brussels and the English Consul at Antwerp were 
guests. As might be supposed, the occasion was one 
of mutual congratulation between the representatives 
of different countries, who felt that it was indeed one 
step forward in the progress of the world. 

This was sowing the seed that was to bear fruit in 
many directions. The report of that first Conference in 
Brussels (which was in its purpose and spirit, if not in 
name, a Peace Congress,) attracted immediate attention 
beyond the border of Belgium, so that when Mr. Field 
arrived in Paris, he was feted by the French as well as 
by Americans. In passing through Turin, he paid a 


visit to Count Sclopis, who had been President of the 
International Tribunal at Geneva, (when they celebrated 
the event that was uppermost in both their minds in a 
cup of tea, that was served for the first time from the 
silver service presented to him by the United States 
Government ; ) and in Rome he formed a very warm 
friendship with the Prime Minister, Signor Mancini, 
and other Italian statesmen. 

But now he was to leave Europe behind, and the 
long journey began when he embarked with his wife 
from Brindisi for Alexandria. He had been in Egypt 
nearly a quarter of a century before, in 1850, but had 
only gone as far as Cairo, to get a sight of the Pyra- 
mids ; but now he went up the Nile in a steamer to 
the First Cataract, nearly six hundred miles. 

But it was not till they returned to Cairo, and 
crossed to Suez and took the steamer for Bombay, that 
they felt that they were indeed bound to the Far East. 
The voyage down the Red Sea, with Asia on one side 
and Africa on the other, is full of historic interest. 
Walking on the deck, when the sun is setting over the 
Dark Continent, one can see on the other side his last 
rays fall on the cliffs of Mount Sinai. Had my brother 
been landed on that barren Arabian coast, as I was nine 
years later (in 1882), he too might have been mounted 
on his camel, measuring off the long stretches of the 
Desert, "the great and terrible wilderness," on his way 
to the Holy Land. But he kept down the Red Sea, 


and at Aden sailed out into the Indian Ocean ; and in 
another week came in sight of the great wall of moun- 
tains that are known as the Ghauts of Western India. 

To the traveller there is no country in the world 
more fascinating than India, which Mr. Field took in 
to the full, as he went up the country to Allahabad, 
where the two sacred rivers, the Jumna and the Ganges, 
mingle their waters, and millions of pilgrims come to 
wash away their sins ; and thence to Agra, with its 
wondrous Taj, the most exquisite tomb in the world in 
architectural beauty and grace ; to Delhi, the capital of 
the great Mogul Empire ; to Cawnpore, where the blood 
of the great massacre still cries from the ground ; to 
Lucknow, that will always have a place in history for 
its heroic defence in the terrible siege ; to Benares, the 
holy city ; and last of all came down to Calcutta, the 
capital of British India. 

From Calcutta they sailed for Ceylon. While wait- 
ing at Point de Galle for the steamer that was to take 
them to Australia, Mr. Field went up to Colombo and 
thence to Kandy, which is to Buddhists what Jeru- 
salem is to Christians, or Mecca to Mohammedans ; 
where is a shrine which they visit with the utmost 
veneration, as it contains a sacred relic in a tooth of 
Buddha ! Here are the two High Priests of that faith, 
to whom he was introduced by the English official, 
who said, to give him an idea of their exalted dignity, 
*'This is the Buddhist Archbishop of Canterbur}', and 


this the Archbishop of York ! " He asked them about 
their doctrine of Nirvana, which they said "was not 
that the souls of the departed sank into annihilation, but 
found rest in a place of eternal and conscious repose." 
Returning to Point de Galle, they embarked in a 
Peninsular and Oriental steamer and bore away into 
the vast Southern Ocean, to which all other oceans are 
but seas. Never before had Mr. Field such an impres- 
sion of the waters that girdle the earth. Day after day, 
and week after week, they sailed on, and saw nothing 
but the heavens above and the waters below, till, as 
with the Ancient Mariner, 

• • So lonely 'twas that even God 
Seemed not there to be." 

But there was a fascination in this very silence and 
immensity. The sea was calm, and as he sat on deck 
at night, above him shone the Southern Cross and all 
the constellations that revolve round the Antarctic pole. 
But of land there was not a sign, not even an island 
thrown up by an earthquake, like the Peak of Teneriffe. 
Nor was there a sign of human life, not even a sail on 
the horizon, save once, when an Italian barque rose up 
like a phantom ship, as it came out of the East and 
sailed into the West, "looking," said Mr. Field, "as it 
passed over the water, like a great white flying eagle." 
But all voyages must have an end, and after three 
weeks they had their first sight of Australia in the port 


of New Albany, where they hailed their country's flag, 
flying from the peak of two American whalers, which 
had gone thus far from home in search of a cargo. 
One of the captains was from New Bedford, Massa- 
chusetts. His wife had accompanied him in his long 
voyage, and made a little flower garden out of a box 
on the deck, where were growing her native flowers 
to remind her of her New England home. 

Passing along to South Australia, they reached 
Kangaroo Island, off Adelaide, on a bright moonlight 
night. Never was a scene more striking. The ship 
w^as moving on without a sail, every rope of her cord- 
age distinctly traced on the background of the clear 
sky, the shore visible along the island and up the bay, 
while the revolving lights told them that they had reen- 
tered the regions of civilized life. 

The next morning the Governor's secretary came on 
board to greet them and tell them the glad news that 
Lady Musgrave had that morning, March 10th, 1874, 
borne another son, for whom the bells were ringing out 
a welcome as they drove into Adelaide from the port of 
Glenelg. The little fellow for whom the bells rang, is 
now Lieutenant Arthur Musgrave in the English army. 

Although Mr. Field had been led to undertake this 
long A'oyage to the Antipodes by the yearning of his 
heart to see one who was inexpressibly dear to him, yet 
he never visited any foreign country without making a 
careful study of its natural features and resources ; of 


its towns and cities ; and above all, of its population. 
In every place to which he came he had his eyes open, 
observing and reflecting as to the future of the new 
world which was rising in the Southern Hemisphere. 
Though Australia was no longer to be drawn on the 
map, and spoken of in geographies, as an island, but 
as a Continent, it had many disadvantages in the vast 
wastes of the interior, that were as desolate as the 
steppes of Siberia, or the Desert of Sahara. Yet it 
had many compensating advantages in its coast line of 
thousands of miles, indented with bays and ports for 
commerce, and above all in being settled by the mighty 
English race, who have been the colonizers and civil- 
izers of so large a part of the world. 

Thus delightfully occupied in observations of every- 
thing round him, and above all in the charming domestic 
scene in the Government House, the weeks in Adelaide 
flew quickly. But at last he had to tear himself away, 
and they took a coast steamer for Melbourne, where 
he was surprised to find a city not forty years old, 
(it was first settled in 1835,) with over two hundred 
thousand inhabitants ; with streets as wide as our New 
York avenues ; with stately Parliament Houses ; an 
University and a Cathedral ; libraries and museums ; 
a Royal Park and other public gardens ; with courts 
of law and banking houses, representing the great firms 
of London ; and clubs and theatres and all the signs 
of European civilization. Best of all, were the private 


residences, whose architecture and tasteful surround- 
ings showed that they were the abodes, not only of 
wealth, but of English culture and refinement. 

Another sail along the coast brought them to Sydney, 
the old Botany Bay, to which at the beginning of the 
century England transported its criminals, but that had 
proved itself worthy of another population, which gave 
it a character befitting the capital of New South Wales, 
whose schools and colleges and churches showed that it 
too, like Melbourne, was modelled after dear old England. 

Continuing northward, the steamer stopped for a day 
at Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, where Mr. Field 
went up to the city and dined with the Governor, Lord 
Normanby, little dreaming that his son-in-law. Sir 
Anthony Musgrave (after being five years Governor of 
Jamaica), would be Governor of Queensland, and there 
die and be buried far from his native England ! 

And now they were no longer on the open sea, as 
they passed inside of the Great Barrier Reef, the most 
extensive range of coral reefs in the world, which forms 
a mighty breakwater within which they had as com- 
plete inland navigation as if they were on the coast of 
Norway or the voyage to Alaska. 

The last persons they saw in Australia were two 
American missionaries, husband and wife, standing on 
the high bank of Cape Torrens, and waving them a 
farewell, a benediction which they heartily returned, 
for one result of Mr. Field's journey round the world 


was to exalt his opinion of the character of the mission- 
aries, and of the work they were doing, and he was 
often heard to say that, if he had to choose between 
them and our consuls, or even many of our ministers, 
he would take the former as the best representatives 
of his country. 

As they approached the Equator, the sun was more 
directly over their head, and the heat was so oppressive, 
though relieved somewhat by the trade-winds, that they 
were more than willing to take a long siesta in the mid- 
day hours, and keep watch bj- night. It is commonly 
supposed that the constellations of the Northern Hemi- 
sphere are more brilliant than those of the Southern, 
but in those midnights it seemed as if the stars came 
nearer to the earth, and the heavens glowed with 
immeasurable splendor. 

The culmination of their long A'oyage was in the 
Arafura Sea, where, between the islands of Bali and 
Lombok, they were so near the shore that they saw the 
natives about their cabins, while above them rose the 
Peak of Bali, twelve thousand feet high — just the 
height of the Peak of Teneriffe — which was girdled 
with three zones : one from the sea upwards to the 
clouds ; the second a robe of clouds, where a storm 
with lightning was playing ; and the third the clear 
top, shining in the sky. 

And now they were sweeping along the shores of 
Java, one of the richest islands in the world, with its 


background of lofty mountains, and its foreground of 
rich tropical vegetation, over which towered its majestic 
palms ; an island that supports a population of thirty 
millions, ten times that of the whole continent of Aus- 
tralia ! It was night before they anchored off Batavia, 
but so eager was Mr. Field to go on shore, that he went 
at once, and at daybreak was exploring a city which, by 
its innumerable canals, showed that it was in many fea- 
tures a reproduction of its ancestral Holland. 

Turning Northward from Java, they had in view 
for two days the island of Sumatra, a thousand miles 
long, and larger than all Great Britain. In this last 
stretch they crossed the Equator, and were once more 
in the Northern Hemisphere, as they landed at Singa- 
pore, the Southern point of Asia ! 

Here they were still under English dominion. The 
Governor was Sir Andrew Clarke, who invited Mr. 
Field to dinner, at which he met the Maharajah of 
Johore, who came in Oriental dress, and brought 
his cook with him, that he might not eat forbid- 
den meats. The Attorney-General also called on Mr. 
Field, and when asked what was the judicial procedure 
of the Straits Settlements, answered that they had the 
New York Code, which, of course, was very gratifj-ing 
to one who had the chief part in framing that Code on 
the other side of the world. It seemed to say that 
justice is of no country ; that it is the same in all lati- 


tudes and longitudes ; the rightful inheritance of all 
climes and of all the races of men. 

From Singapore it is a week's sail to Hong Kong, 
but here too he did not coine as a stranger, for his 
Codes had gone before him, and the Governor, Sir 
Arthur Kennedy and Chief Justice Smale joined to 
do him honor ; while Messrs. Burroughs and Russell, 
American merchants, received them with that generous 
hospitality which the great mercantile houses in the East 
are always so ready to show to distinguished visitors. 

From Hong Kong it is but a few hours' sail across 
the strait and up the Canton River to the great city 
of that name, where Mr. and Mrs. Field were received 
by Mr. Cunningham, agent of the firm of Russell 
and Company, whose ample establishment was put at 
their disposal, and partly fitted up to receive them. 
Here they were treated with great hospitality ; every 
day English or American residents were invited to 
meet them at dinner. Archdeacon Graj^ of the English 
Church accompanied them in their excursions ; the most 
remarkable of which were a visit to the place of behead- 
ing, a real Potter's Field, (where they were shown the 
cleaver with which heads were struck off, and a bag 
containing heads that were waiting to be sent to the 
homes of those who had suffered death ; ) and a visit 
to the Courts, where the accused were brought in with 
chains about their necks ; one end of wliich was passed 
through a hole in a heavy stone, that the poor wretch had 


to carry when he moved. As he came before the Judge, 
he laid the stone on the floor and prostrated himself, 
when the charge of crime was read to him, and he was 
sternly interrogated about it, and his answers writ- 
ten down. One of the accused denied his guilt and 
stoutly protested his innocence, at which the Judge 
ordered him to be put to the torture, not by the rack, 
or by the touch of red-hot iron, but by hanging him 
up by the thumbs and toes, which was agony enough. 
The man stood it for about ten minutes, when he con- 
fessed and was let down — a short way to extort a con- 
fession, not always from the guilty, for it might be 
from the most innocent, who would confess any crime 
rather than suffer an agony that was worse than death 
itself. This Chinese justice showed that China had 
hardly emerged from barbarism. Instead of being a 
sign of ci\alization, it was but a ghastly token of man's 
inhumanity to man. 

They returned by Macao, wliich is a little peninsula 
long ago granted to the Portuguese, and once a place 
of some commercial importance. It is now as quiet 
as a country village, but the beauty of nature still 
remains, enhanced by an interesting historical associa- 
tion, as the visitor is taken into a pretty garden in 
wliich Camoens, the Portuguese poet, wrote the Lusiad. 

From Hong Kong the travellers took passage by the 
French steamer to Shanghai, where they had a hearty 
welcome from our Consul, Mr. Seward, and Mr. Wil- 


liam H. Fogg, a merchant from New York. As Mr. 
Seward had an official visit to make to the Tao-tai, the 
head man of Shanghai, answering to a French Prefect, 
he asked Mr. Field to accompany him. So one morning 
they set ont in their sedan chairs, winding through the 
narrow streets till, as they approached the official resi- 
dence, they were saluted with fireworks like Roman 
candles. The Tao-tai came forward to meet them, and 
took them into a room with benches on three sides, 
where he waved them to the right and left, and took his 
seat between them. Tea was then brought in, which 
is always preliminary to any official discussion, and 
when the latter was ended, they retired with the same 
courteous formality. 

But still more interesting to Mr. Field was it to see 
the administration of justice, which had also its peculiar 
features. As Shanghai had quite a large foreign pop- 
ulation, there were mixed tribunals, in which foreign 
Consuls sat wdth the Chinese authorities to watch the 
proceedings. Mr. Field was present one morning when 
Mr. Seward sat with a Chinese judge who despatched 
business without much ceremony, as in a case where 
there was a contest over a pile of silver dollars, which 
were laid on the table. He made short work of it by 
reaching out his hand, and taking a part and passing 
it over to one man, and the remainder to the other. 

The next case was a criminal one. The culprit was 
found guilty and sentenced to be flogged, which was 


done at once. He was laid upon his face on the ground, 
while the executioner took a bundle of rods and began 
to whip his bared legs. The man cried lustily, and when 
he got up was further punished by the cagne, which is 
made of two pieces of board, each with a half circle 
cut in it, to be put together round the neck, so that the 
man could not lay his head on a pillow or on the ground, 
nor reach his face with his hands. A more cruel j)un- 
ishment it would be difficult to imagine. Is it that the 
enormous population of China makes them indifferent 
to human life or human suffering ? 

Leaving Shanghai in one of the Pacific Company's 
steamers for Japan, they passed through the Inland Sea, 
which, with its thousands of islands, is the most beau- 
tiful Archipelago in the world. The American passen- 
gers were reminded that they were nearing home as 
one evening they heard voices on the upper deck sing- 
ing ' ' Marching through Georgia ! " 

From Yokohama Mr. Field made a visit to Tokio, 
and an excursion to Inoshima and to the great statue of 
Buddha at Dai-Butz. The evening before he left he 
dined with Iwakura, the Prime Minister of Japan, at 
his palace, in company with Mr. Bingham, the Amer- 
ican Minister, Except for the swarthy figures and 
Oriental costumes, the dinner might have been given 
in Paris, as the service was in the French style, even 
to the champagne. 

In Yokohama he met Sir Harry Parkes, the British 


Minister, who had been long in the East, and had a 
hfe of incident, not unmixed with danger. One eve- 
ning, as they were talking of the old times, he told of 
an attack made upon him and his party by fanatics in 
Osaka some years before. They were passing through 
the streets escorted by English soldiers, when some 
Japanese fanatics rushed upon them with sharp drawn 
swords and began cutting at the soldiers. They did 
bloody work, and one was bleeding freely, when Sir 
Harry rushed up to him and bade him stand his ground, 
saying, "Remember that you are an English soldier !" 

He had come as near losing his head in Cliina as 
in Japan. Dean Stanley told Mr. Field that Sir 
Harry once described his conversation with a fellow- 
prisoner, who with him was condemned by the Chinese 
authorities to be executed the next morning ! They 
passed a part of the night in comparing the sensations 
they expected to feel when led out to execution ! 
A gruesome subject indeed for their midnight hours ! 
But by some happy intervention the morning brought 
light into the prison cell, and the execution was indefin- 
itely postponed. 

When our travellers left Japan, they said good bye 
to the Old World. As they steamed out of the harbor 
of Yokohama the crews of the American ships of war 
gave them three cheers. That was their last recogni- 
tion, for once on the Pacific they saw not a sign of life 
for seventeen days as they bore away to the East, over 


a sea as calm as that of the Southern Ocean, and which 
gave them the same sense of the infinite. Day after 
day they saw nothing but the blue sky above and the 
blue waters below, with the long swell, that never broke 
into a ripple, over which the great ship moved as if 
conscious of her strength. On the last day, as the}* 
approached the coast, they ran into a heavy fog, which 
compelled them to slow up for two or three hours, when 
all at once it lifted and disclosed the bright top of a 
mountain ten miles below San Francisco. At this the 
good ship seemed to lift up her head, and dasliing on 
with the speed of a race-horse, passed the Golden Gate 
into the great harbor of the West, and stood still. 

Their arrival was not unexpected, as Mr. Field's 
brother, the Justice, who was here from Washington, 
was waiting for him, and with other kinsfolk, the Ash- 
burners, made the wanderers feel that they were once 
more at home, and in a few days they were rested 
from their voyage. A special car was put at their dis- 
posal as far as Salt Lake, where they halted and visited 
the Mormon City, and had an interview with Brigham 
Young, who generously offered to introduce Mrs. Field 
to his seventeen wives — an honor which she politely 
dechned ! The next day they continued their journey, 
and reached their Stockbridge home in July, 1874, 
where, looking down from the hill top, they felt that in 
all the world there was no spot quite so restful as this 
"Happy Valley" nestled in the Berkshire HiUs. 



When a man has just returned from a voyage to the 
Antipodes, he might be excused if he should take at 
least a breathing spell before he starts off on a new 
expedition. But Mr. Field was not as other men are. 
He was still in his prime, in his seventieth year, and it 
was not in him to rest while there were new worlds to 
conquer. The year before, when he helped to form the 
Association in Brussels, he promised to be present at 
the next meeting, though meanwhile he had to make 
the circuit of the globe, and the very next month after 
he reached home, he was again on the sea. 

This time the meeting was at Geneva in Switzerland, 
where he found that the good seed had taken root, and 
was bearing fruit in the Old World as well as the New. 
It received a new impulse from the very place of its 
meeting, in the "Salle d' Alabama," so called from the 
fact that in it had met the representatives of different 
nations to arbitrate between England and America as 
to the claims of the latter for the ships destroyed by 
the Alabama in our civil war, for which the arbitrators 


awarded to our country an indemnity of fifteen millions 
of dollars. This had made the hall historic, in memory 
of which it was ornamented with agricultural imple- 
ments, which had been moulded out of cannon, to sig- 
nify that the reign of peace was approaching, when the 
nations should learn war no more. 

During the year past the Association had become 
known even in the Far East. When Mr, Field was 
in Japan he dined with the Prime Minister Iwakura, 
and in the course of conversation mentioned that on his 
return to America he was again to cross the sea to 
attend the meeting of the Association for the Reform 
and Codification of the Law of Nations, which was to 
be held in October at Geneva, and suggested that Japan 
should send a delegate ! The Minister was at once 
interested, but did not know whether the Council, or 
some official body mentioned by him, would approve of 
it in the time required. But when the time came and 
Mr. Field was on his way to his destination, he saw in 
the papers that the Japanese envoy to Rome was also 
en route to Geneva to attend the meeting. There he 
was indeed, with his wife, and two very intelligent and 
interesting persons they were, and added much to the 
pleasure of the European delegates. 

These annual meetings were getting to be great 
events in the life of Mr. Field. As he was a good 
sailor, he thought nothing of the week's voyage. The 
change from life on shore was grateful to him, and he 


could sit on deck in any weather, and drink in the salt 
sea air with a feeling of exhilaration. 

The next year the Association met at The Hague, 
where it was received with great distinction, not only 
by the notables of the bench and the bar, but by the 
court. As the King of the Netherlands was absent, the 
Queen and the Ministers, and the two Chambers, hon- 
ored them with all manner of attentions, ending with a 
reception by the Queen at the "Palace in the Wood." 
In two weeks he was again on the ocean on his return. 

At home he took life more easily, going up to Albany 
now and then to argue a case before the Court of Appeals, 
where he was a little — or not a little — shocked at the 
free and easy way of conducting the proceedings, and 
finally persuaded both judges and advocates to adopt a 
little more of ceremony : the judges to wear gowns, like 
the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, 
which seemed to be the fitting "robes of justice" ; and 
the bar to rise as the judges entered, and stand till they 
had taken their seats. A little of this observance of the 
stately forms of the past, he thought, by adding to the 
outward dignity, added also to the respect due to the 
highest courts of justice. 

From Albany it was an easy change to Washing- 
ton, where he was still more at home, not only in the 
Supreme Court, but among the old habitues of the 
National Capital, some of whom seemed to belong to 
another generation. Thus he writes March 1, 1875 : 


' ' Being in Washington, I paid a visit to the elder 
Mr. and Mrs. Blair, both of whom are more than eighty 
years old, and yet vigorous in mind, and (except that 
he is a little weak in the legs) strong enough in body to 
ride on horseback ! What a picture from the days of 
our fathers it must be to see this aged couple riding 
together over the hills, as we may suppose that Martha 
Washington rode beside her husband a hundred years 
ago ! " 

The greatest satisfaction to him was to find that 
"the war was over," not only on the battle-field, but 
in personal relations, as well as in political life. After 
four years of war, it had taken ten years of peace before 
the angry waves were lulled to rest. But that happy 
time had come at last. On the same date he wrote : 

' ' I think the revolution in our politics is over, and 
that hereafter we shall see things moving in their usual 
channels. A Democratic House of Representatives 
comes into power on Friday, the 4th of March, and w^e 
shall have no more Enforcement Acts, Force Bills, Civil 
Rights Bills or suspension of the Habeas Corpus." 

This blissful state of mind continued through the 
year, and on the next first of January (1876) he wrote : 

" At midnight the bells rung out their chimes to salute both 
the parting and the incoming year. I listened till they died 
away at half-past twelve. This morning the flags are flying on 
every flag-staff in the city, to greet the centennial year. This 
patriotic fervor is a beautiful thing. With it no nation can fall ; 


without it no nation can stand long. We have many faults, but 
there is at bottom a fund of good sense, energy, love of right and 
love of country, that will, I believe, carry us through all perils. 
Every man, hewever, must do his duty to the public. The 
trouble with us has been that each has been too much absorbed 
in seeking his own prosperity. As if in sympathy with the time, 
the weather has become perfect. The air is like May and the 
sun warm." 

Little did he think that a new storm was impending, 
that would try the strength of our institutions almost 
as much as the war itself, and bring him quite unex- 
pectedly into public life. The crisis was one unknown 
in our history, and which the fathers of the Republic 
never dreamed of, even as a possibility — a disputed 
Presidential election ! Through the ordeal of an elec- 
tion the country had to pass in every four years, and 
the time came round in the Centennial year of 1876, as 
that completed a hundred years from the date of the 
Declaration of Independence. But of the course of 
events that year I knew little, as I had been for more 
than a year following my brother round the globe, 
and I remember well that, as we entered the harbor of 
San Francisco, and the custom house officers came on 
board, in my eagerness for news, my first question was, 
' ' Who has been nominated for President at the Con- 
vention in Cincinnati ? ", fully expecting to hear the 
name of James G. Blaine, when to my surprise the 
answer was "Rutherford B. Hayes," then Governor of 
Ohio, a name that, however honorable in peace and in 


vrar, (for he had been in the army, and borne a brave 
and a manly part in fighting for his country,) I had 
never happened to hear before ; while on the other side 
had been nominated Mr. Samuel J. Tilden, the Gov- 
ernor of New York, whom I had known for twenty 
years, as he was not only a resident of the city, but 
lived on Gramercy Park, a few doors from my brothers, 
so that I knew all his goings out and comings in. 
Between these two candidates, I thought we were sure 
to have a good man, who, if not a great President, like 
Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln, would be at least 
a figure-head of the Great Republic, of whom we should 
have no reason to be ashamed. 

The election took place on the 6th day of November, 
and the next morning it was announced all over the 
country, without a dissenting voice, that Mr. Tilden had 
received 203 votes in the Electoral College, while Mr. 
Hayes had received but 166. It was a very simple sum 
in arithmetic for any school-boy to subtract the one from 
the other, which gave Mr. Tilden the handsome majority 
of 37 electoral votes, so that he was duly elected Presi- 
dent of the United States ! The Repubhcans gave it up. 
The New York Tribune admitted it without a question, 
explaining it in the only simple and natural way, that 
it was all because "Mr. Tilden had too many votes ! " 

But those were the days of the "carpet-baggers," 
when the Southern States were still in the hands of 
Northern men, many of them worthless adventurers, 


who had gone South after the war to spoil the Egyp- 
tians, and who had the votes in their hands, and the 
battle was not lost until they had made out the official 
returns, and if perchance the majority happened to be 
on the wrong side, what more easy than to throw out 
a sufficient number, on the plea of fraud, to turn 
the scales the other way ? The Democrats might do 
the voting, but as long as the Republican ' ' returning 
boards" did the counting, they could laugh at any 
Democratic majorities. 

This was a line of operation of infinite possibili- 
ties, and a certain ' ' managing editor " figured it out 
that if the returns from Louisiana, which had eight 
electoral votes, and from South Carolina, which had 
seven, and from Florida, which had four, making nine- 
teen in all, could be taken from the column of Tilden, 
and put to the credit of Hayes, it would give the latter 
a majority of one ! This was a scheme fitly hatched in 
the dark hours of night, which had been no sooner con- 
ceived than the plotter, eager to set it in motion, has- 
tened up town, to the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and waked 
a Western Senator, who was one of the war horses of 
the Republican party, and who believed that in politics, 
as in war, anything was lawful to beat the enemy ! To 
him was communicated the Gunpowder Plot to blow the 
Democrats sky high ! "But the election was over ! " 
' ' Oh yes, but it was not too late to change the result, for 
the whole business was not settled till the official returns 


were made ! " The policy was to keep these back till it 
should be seen just what change of votes would be neces- 
sary to make a majority on the other side ! To help 
them in their plot, the conspirators had a private code by 
which they could communicate with the boards at the 
South, telling them not to make their returns to Wash- 
ington till they had received the fullest information and 
instruction from the North ! 

Never was a plot more skilfully laid, nor one in 
which the engineers were more completely masters of 
the situation. The wicked partners at the South were 
ready to swear to anything ! If the Democrats had 
carried Louisiana by a few hundred, or a few thousand 
majority, the Republican managers would take their 
solemn oath that there had been much more than that 
number of fraudulent votes, for it was always wise to 
have a liberal margin ! 

But was it possible that such a made-up majority 
reversing the actual vote would be accepted by Con- 
gress ? That was the question. As if to complicate 
the case still more, the two houses were divided — for 
while the House of Representatives, which had been 
more recently elected by the people, was largely Demo- 
cratic (so that if there were no election by the Electoral 
College, and the choice were thrown into the House, 
it would immediately elect Mr. Tilden), yet the Senate, 
which held over, was still strongly Republican. Between 
the two there was a strife that agitated the whole coun- 


try to such a degree that there were fears that it might 
culminate in another civil war. Some bold hunters of 
Kentucky threatened to march on Washington with a 
hundred thousand men ! ' ' And they will soon see what 
we shall do -with them ! " was Grant's quick reply. But 
the uneasiness was universal. Congress met on the 4th 
of December, but business was paralyzed by this all- 
engrossing question. 

Mr. Tilden had the good fortune to be represented 
in the House by his most intimate personal friend, Mr. 
Abram S. Hewitt, afterwards Maj^or of New York ; 
but it was important to have also a legal representative 
to meet the constitutional questions that might arise, 
and as there was a vacancy in the delegation from 
the city by the resignation of Smith Ely, who had 
been chosen Mayor, Mr. Tilden wished Mr. Field to 
take the vacant place, and he was accordingly nomi- 
nated and elected, and served to the end of the term.* 

No sooner had he entered the House of Representa- 
tives than he became a very conspicuous figure by his 
attacks upon what he regarded as the brazen infamy 
of the false returns. One of the side scenes was the 
examination of the Boards of Louisiana and Florida, 
for which the House had appointed a special committee. 

* Strange to say, Mr. Field had voted for Hayes, but so con- 
vinced was he that Tilden was elected, that his sense of justice 
revolted from an intrigue to rob him of the high office to which 
he had been chosen by the American people. 


At one or two of these examinations I was present, and 
it was truly pitiful to see how the perjurers writhed 
under the questions of their merciless interrogator. It 
was onl}^ necessary to look in their hang-dog faces to 
see that they were well aware that they did not, and 
could not, deceive their inquisitors ! And yet one could 
only look at them with a sort of contemptuous pity for 
the poor creatures who were throwing away their honor, 
if they had any to lose, for the benefit of outsiders who 
took good care not to expose themselves to the just 
punishment of the law. 

But the work to be done was not confined to the 
exposure of false witnesses. There were legal questions 
to be settled by the highest authorities. As a supe- 
riority to the House was assumed by the Senate, as the 
body that was to receive the returns, to open the cer- 
tificates, and declare the result, it became necessary 
that the House should assert itself, and Mr. Field drew 
five resolutions on the power of the House in respect 
to the electoral count, which were reported from the 
special committee by Proctor Knott and Randolph 
Tucker. He drew also the objections to counting the 
votes of Louisiana and Florida ; and further, as some 
timid folk were afraid that the country would go to 
pieces if it should be without a President for twenty- 
four hours, he drew a bill, which passed the House, 
to provide for the administration of the Presidency 
in case of a failure to elect ! One step farther was 


the drawing of a bill for the legal procedure called 
quo ivai'ranto, which the Democratic caucus voted to 
have brought in, and which Mr. Field did bring in, but 
which did not pass the House. Here he thought his own 
party flinched from their guns, for he was very confident 
that if he could once get the case before the courts, 
Mr. Tilden would have established his title within six 
months, imless indeed all law was trampled down by 
the violence of party spirit. 

But now all these dreams and warlike preparations 
were laid aside by a new proposal. As there was a 
dead-lock between the two Houses, wisdom finally pre- 
vailed to this extent, that their difference of opinion 
should be submitted to an impartial tribunal composed 
of five Senators, five Representatives, and five members 
of the Supreme Court, fifteen in all, which sat for sev- 
eral days in the court room, where Mr. Field and Mr. 
Charles O'Conor were on one side, and Mr, Evarts on 
the other. The argument of the latter it was my privi- 
lege to hear, and it was a great forensic display, although 
his opponents might say that it showed more ability 
than fairness. His whole argument revolved round one 
point : that the Commission had no power — as Con- 
gress had no poiver — to go behind the returns. Even 
though they believed them, or even knew them, to be 
false, there was no remedy ! The constitutional pro- 
vision was simply that ' ' The President of the Senate 
shall, in presence of the Senate and House of Repre- 


sentatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall 
then be counted." But tvhat votes? The real votes 
deposited by lawful voters, or the result of stuffed 
ballot boxes, or a false count ? No matter for that ! 
Right or M'-rong, just or unjust, it must stand ! I can 
hear him now saying, and repeating, that there was no 
power that could go behind the Returning Boards ; that 
the work was put into their hands "to be done, and 
so done that it could not be undone ! " 

This was the argument used in the Electoral Commis- 
sion, when they sat by themselves to render their decision. 
In vain did Mr. Justice Field put an imaginary case : 

"Suppose the canvassers had made a mistake in 
footing up the returns, that changed the result of the 
election — a mistake that they discovered before the vote 
was counted: was there no remedy?" "No !" was 
the answer. "Then," said the Justice, "a mistake in 
arithmetic, in the adding up of figures, may elect a 
President of the United States, and Congress is power- 
less to prevent it ! " Again he asked : 

"Suppose the canvassers were bribed; or had entered 
into a conspiracy to commit a fraud ; and in pursuance 
of the bribery or conspiracy, altered the returns, declar- 
ing elected persons not chosen by the voters, and had 
transmitted their vote to the President of the Senate, 
but that before the vote was counted the fraud was 
detected and exposed : was there no remedy ? " 

Again the same answer, ' ' No ! whatever fraud there 


may have been must be discovered and protested against 
before the Boards made their returns " [an impossibihty 
when the Boards were themselves the conspirators to 
defraud ! ] ; to which the Judge answered : 

" If this be sound doctrine, it is the only instance in 
the world where fraud becomes enshrined and sanctified 
behind a certificate of its authors. It is elementary 
knowledge that fraud vitiates all proceedings, even the 
most solemn ; that no form of words, no amount of 
ceremony, and no solemnity of procedure, can shield it 
from exposure or punishment." 

Once more he put the question in this form : 

' ' Suppose the canvassers were coerced by force ; by 
men putting pistols at their heads, and threatening to 
blow out their brains if they did not perjure themselves, 
and swear to a lie : was there no remedy ? " 

Again ' ' No ! No ! " an answer which not only con- 
doned clerical errors and mistakes, but in giving the 
highest reward to perjury, held out a bribe to every 
degree of villainy and crime ! 

"But," said one of the leaders of the Republicans, 
"if you had the trump card, wouldn't you play it ? " 
"the trump card" being the perjured returns ! This 
was a taunt worthy of the gamblers of Monte Carlo, 
but hardly to be thrown in the face of the august 
Electoral Commission ! But weak and wicked as it 
was, it prevailed before that great Tribunal when they 
disclaimed all power to discriminate between lawful 


votes and returns that they knew, or might know, to 
be fraudulent, and thus enthroned in the place of power 
one who had not been elected by the American people ! 
So the deed was done, and on the ith of March, 1877, 
Mr. Hayes was inaugurated President of the United 
States ! His administration was in some respects a 
marked improvement on that of his predecessor, who, 
being a soldier, naturally leaned upon the army for sup- 
port, and kept large garrisons in the Southern cities, as 
if they were conquered provinces. To withdraw these 
was one of the first acts of the new administration — 
a step taken by the advice of the Secretary of State, 
Mr, Evarts ; while the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. 
John Sherman, bj^ a wise financial policy, restored the 
public credit, resumed specie payments, and began to 
pay off the enormous debt incurred by the war at the 
rate of a hundred millions a year ! In all these signs 
of returning prosperity no one rejoiced more than Mr. 
Field. But even this might be too dearly paid for by 
the sacrifice of the national honor. As he looked over 
the country, and saw the cities alive with the activity of 
business, and the fields waving with abundance, there 
was one bhght on the smiling landscape — that we were 
under a government, or at least an administration, that 
had no right to exist ; that there was in the chair of 
President one who was not placed there by the people's 
will. As to personal qualifications half the country 
might prefer Mr. Hayes to Mr. Tilden. But that had 


nothing to do with the case. The question was not 
which was the better man, but ivhom did the people 
elect f He was the Lord's anointed, and no one 
else could take the crown without sacrilege. The 
assumption of authority by another was as flagrant an 
usurpation as if General Grant had surrounded the 
Capitol with troops, and declared that he would hold 
possession. The right of the people to choose their own 
rulers was the highest token of sovereignty, and it had 
never been disputed. The country had just celebrated 
the centenary of its independence, and in all that hun- 
dred years there was never a question of right to the 
succession. Were we to begin now, and follow after 
the South American republics, where power can be 
grasped by any pretender, if he has the army behind 
him ? So reasoned Mr. Field, in whose view this seizure 
of the Presidency was the greatest of crimes ; even 
though the country, with its immense vitahty, might 
survive the shock, and still flourish under it, or in spite 
of it. No glittering prosperity could ever blot out the 
memory of this stupendous wrong. 



Even the most intrepid traveller is not likely to make 
more than one gi-and tour around the world. Mr. Field 
had gone to the ends of the earth to see his child, and 
now it seemed as if the ends of the earth were coming 
to him, when, in the regular course of promotion in the 
Enghsh service. Sir Anthony Musgrave, after five years 
in South Australia, was transferred in 1877 to the island 
of Jamaica, of which he was Governor for five years. 
This was within a week's sail from New York, and 
brought those dearest to the father and grandfather 
very near home. As he sat alone on the night of 
February 12th, 1878, he wrote: "The last hours of 
seventy- two years are nearly run out. I have had in 
the main a happy and a prosperous year. My vigor, 
bodily and mental, is unimpaired. The great event 
of the past year in my domestic life has been the 
visit of my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, 
which gave me unspeakable happiness " ; to which he 
adds, as if it were from the overflow of a heart too full 


to be restrained, that he had decided to build a church 
tower in Stockbridge, with a peal of bells, in the name 
of his grandchildren, living and dead, to be called the 
Children's Chimes. "It will be a memorial of those 
who are enshrined in my heart, while the ringing of 
the chimes at sunset I trust will give pleasure to all 
whose good fortune it is to live in this peaceful valley." 
The generous purpose was carried out that very year. 
The modest campanile was erected on the green in front 
of the church, and bears an inscription which tells us that 






IN 1739. 

But Sergeant was not the only missionary in the wil- 
derness. In his footsteps came Jonathan Edwards, 
who, though he was the philosopher of his age, preached 
not only to the handful of white settlers, but, by an 
interpreter, to the Indians, till in 1758 he was called to 
be President of the College at Princeton, where he died ; 
after whom Stephen West was the pastor for sixty years. 
The associations of three such saintly men may well 
make the place holy ground. 

The autumn of that year (1878) brought Mr. Field's 
usual pilgrimage abroad, where he spent his time chiefly 
on the Continent, going directl}'' from Liverpool to 
Frankfort-on-the-Main to attend a meeting of the Inter- 


national Association, which was made dehghtful by the 
hospitahty of the warm-hearted Germans, who gave 
them a pubhc dinner and an excursion to Homburg, 
courtesies which certainly contributed to the cause of 
peace and good will. 

After the meeting he went on to Munich, and thence 
through Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart and Carlsbad to 
Strasburg and Metz, from which he visited the field of 
Gravelotte, where (as he thought) the French ought 
to have been victorious, and apparently would have 
been but for the incompetence of Bazaine. From Metz 
he went to Luxemburg, and drove about the town, 
through the park built on the site of the old fortifica- 
tions and along the deep ravines, which form a moat 
round the beautiful city. If this did not rouse in him 
the war spirit, it did the historical spirit, and so he must 
needs make a pilgrimage to Sedan, and go over the 
battle field, and visit the house where Napoleon the Third 
surrendered to King Wilham of Prussia ! From these 
warlike memories he came to Paris on a more peaceful 
errand, to attend the meeting of the Institute of Inter- 
national Law, where he met an old friend, Mr, Groes- 
beck, of Cincinnati, and the representatives, not only 
of different countries of Europe, but also of Asia, in the 
Chinese and Japanese Ministers. One evening that he 
dined with the former, it was amusing to observe the 
diversity of languages. Neither of these Ministers 
spoke any language but his own, but each had a secre- 


tary who could speak French, so that when the Chinese 
Minister gave a toast, his secretary translated it into 
French to the Japanese secretary, who translated it 
into Japanese to the Japanese Minister ! It was well 
that the sentiment that was to pass through three lan- 
guages was one of peace and prosperity to all. 

These visits to Europe were not unf requently returned 
in America. The same autumn Dean Stanley crossed 
the sea, accompanied by his friend Mr. (now Sir) 
George Grove and Dr. Harper, who were all guests 
of Mr. Cyrus Field in New York and at his place 
on the Hudson. Then, wishing to show them a little 
of the scenery of New England, he brought them up to 
the Berkshire Hills, and after taking them to Williams 
College, came with them to Stockbridge, where they 
were for several days the guests of our oldest brother. 
It was delightful to see the enthusiasm of the Dean as 
he looked down from the hill top into the valley, through 
which the Housatonic winds its way, and exclaimed 
in surprise, "Why did you not tell me of all this?" 
As we drove him to Lenox, the Stockbridge Bowl, 
set in the bosom of the hills, reminded him of the lake 
scenery of England. On Sunday he preached in the 
Episcopal church, and (recalling the historical associa- 
tions which he had learned only the previous day, how 
Ephraim Williams of Stockbridge, as he was to go out 
to the field in the old French war, made the bequest that 
was the foundation of the College which bears his name,) 


thus alluded to the young hero who had fallen in battle 
a hundred and twenty-three years before : ' ' Had the 
forefathers of this great nation not struggled to reclaim 
the wilderness, and convert the savage, and build up 
the Church of God by river and by forest ; had there 
not been men like the gallant soldiers who guarded these 
frontiers, to catch, in the intervals of war and blood- 
shed, visions of a happy and peaceful future, and lay 
the foundations on which learning and religion might 
freely flourish and abound — this nation would never 
have been born, this empire would never have arisen." 
From the church he came to our cottage on the hill 
and spent the afternoon. My brother had told me that 
his delight was, not to see our cities, so much as the 
interior of American homes. I can see him now as he 
sat upon a low chair before the open fire, (for which 
there was an excuse in a touch of frostiness in the 
October air,) more interested to ask questions about 
the country and its local history, than to speak of aught 
which concerned himself or England. When at last we 
walked across the lawn as the sun was going down in 
the West, his gentle face seemed to reflect the peace and 
calm of the day, as he said, ' ' I would not have missed 
this for anything." In return for our little courtesy 
he hoped to welcome us to Westminster Abbey, where 
he could have the pleasure of going with us over the 
ancient pile, pointing out the historic names of many 
generations ; but alas ! before we crossed the sea again, 


he too was laid to rest in the shadow of tlie great Abbey 
which he had done so much to make known to the world. 

Thus in the midst of life we are in death, a warn- 
ing that was soon to come home to us nearer still. 

The year 1880 should be marked with a cross, in 
token of a great sorrow, the death of Mr. Field's only 
son, which came without a warning. It was midsum- 
mer, and the city was deserted, as all who could get 
away had fled to the seashore or the mountains. Our 
family was divided in its country homes, Cyrus having 
a place at Dobbs Ferry, and "Young Dudley" (as we 
sometimes called him to distinguish him from his father) 
at Hastings — both on the Hudson. But wherever we 
were, Stockbridge was the paternal home, where our 
father and mother had lived and died, and were buried, 
and where the eldest and the youngest of the brothers 
spent their summers, and here we had planned our 
family meeting. Mr. Field, who was at the moment at 
Long Branch, was to come up to welcome his brother the 
Justice and his wife from Washington. His daughter- 
in-law had come in advance, while his son, who was 
very fond of coaching, would drive four-in-hand across 
the country. A more beautiful excursion could hardly 
be found in Old England itself than that from the Hud- 
son to the Housatonic. It is all hill and valley, with 
roads winding hither and thither through the woods or 
along the course of streams, and when he took his seat on 
the box, with no companion but the faithful " Michael," 


and cracked his whip, they started at full speed, and 
went up hill and down dale. Not the slightest incident 
marred the dehght of the journey, till, as the sun was 
setting over the Western hills, he drove up to his father's 
door. Here were all the conditions of a deHghtful fam- 
ily union, when in a few hours all was changed. After 
the long drive of the day he slept soundly, but woke in 
the morning and spoke to his attendant in liis usual 
cheerful tone, when suddenly the heart stopped beating, 
the golden bowl was broken, and life came to an end. 
It Avas but a few minutes before we, who were near 
neighbors, were on the spot. But one glance at the 
marble face was enough, and all that could be done 
was to soothe the distracted wife. A message was sent 
immediately to his uncle Cyrus to be communicated to 
his father, and the next morning brought both to the 
home that was now turned into a house of mourning. 
On the afternoon of the same day, August 10, 1880, 
The Evening Post announced the sad event : 

"Mr. Dudley Field, the only son and the partner of the emi- 
nent lawyer David Dudley Field, died suddenly this morning. 
He left Hastings-on-the-Hudson last Friday morning to drive 
to Stockbridge, Mass., and was at that time in excellent health. 
He had made arrangements to meet all his uncles at Stockbridge 
this week, and Judge Field and the Rev. Dr. Field had already 
joined him and were with him at six o'clock this morning, when 
he died very suddenly of disease of the heart. 

" Mr. Field was forty-nine years old, and was very well known 
in this city both as counsel and advocate, although his profes- 


sional reputation was necessarily overshadowed by that of his 
father. He was very popular in the profession, being a man of 
pleasing address and genial temperament, and his death will 
be sincerely mourned by a very large circle of acquaintances." 

The shock was all the greater because it was wholly 
unexpected. It was the sudden close of a life that was 
still in the prime of vigorous manhood, and that prom- 
ised so much. From his very boyhood he seemed to 
have every gift of fortune. From College he went 
abroad, and spent a year in Europe and the East. But 
the greatest of his opportunities was to sit at the feet 
of a master of the law, and to enter upon practice with 
the prestige of his father's name. Thus the world had 
opened all its gates to him for a brilliant career. On 
such a prospect the curtain now fell. 

It was a sad day when the old home, known for its 
hospitality, saw a gathering for another purpose, indi- 
cated by the flag at half-mast. A note in his father's 
diary gives the incidents of the last farewell : 

" August 12. To-day my son was buried. The sky was low- 
ering, but there was no rain. The funeral services were very 
simple. At five o'clock our nearest friends came to the house, 
where a prayer was said and a few verses of Scripture read, and 
then the carriages wound slowly down the hill, following the 
remains to the Episcopal church, where the full service was 
read, the anthem chanted and the hymn ' Abide with me ' sung. 
Then the body was borne to the grave by the workmen in. my 
service, assisted by a few others, the pall-bearers, relatives and 
assemblage following on foot. At the grave the coffin, covered 


with flowers, was placed in a cedar cover, and the whole lowered 
into a vault made of brick at the bottom and sides, and covered 
with heavy slabs of marble. On the turf which covered the 
ground I placed an anchor of flowers at the foot, and a broken 
shaft of flowers at the head. Mournful chimes were then played 
a few minutes, and we left the grave and the cemetery. By 
this time the moon, half full, had taken the sun's place, and a 
soft light shone upon us as we returned to our home. I could 
but think that it was a merciful providence which had brought 
my son to die imder his father's roof, and to be borne to his last 
resting-place by his father's servants." 

So ended a career whose possibilities seemed but half 
fulfilled when he was cut down in the midst of his days. 
But if the brilliant promise of his early life fades in 
the distance, we cannot forget the warmth of a heart 
that never grew cold. He had a great love of children, 
and the early death of his only child was a blow from 
which he never recovered. Perhaps none have a better 
opportunity to know the heart of a young man than 
his classmates in College. Living in daily intercourse, 
they know one another more intimately and more truly 
than in the great outside world. And therefore it has 
been so grateful to us to hear those who knew him then 
tell us that there was no one to whom they could go 
more freely for any act of kindness ; and that all felt 
that they had lost a friend when they heard that he had 
gone to the grave. They will keep his memory green.* 

* In 1883 his father placed a memorial window of his only son 
in St. Paul's Church in Stockbridge, and one also in the hall of 
the Kappa Alpha Society in Williamstown. 


A heavy heart is not made hght by a change of 
place. But it is a rehef to the burden of sorrow to turn 
from dwelhng only on one who is ' ' loved and lost " to 
another not less dear who still remains. So long as there 
is yet one to love, a stricken father is not quite desolate, 
mourning as one who will not be comforted. To find 
such a change of scene and association Mr. Field left 
New York at the close of autumn for Jamaica, of which 
Sir Anthony Musgrave was the colonial governor. A 
few notes from his diary will keep track of the voyage 
and the visit : 

"November 25, 1880. Started in the ship Atlas, bound to 
Jamaica, on a visit to my daughter and her family. A snow- 
storm had come in the night, and the streets, the ship and the 
shores of the bay were all white as we steamed out to sea. It 
was very cold, and I had to wrap myself in my warmest. But 
the sea was not ruffled, the snow and rain had ceased, and the 
night was fine. After a day or two the repose of the voyage 
gave me relief from the constant strain of work, with the added 
burden of so much sorrow. When I came on board I was nearly 
worn out ; but the quiet of the sh(p, the absence of care, and 
the softly murmuring sea soothed my nerves. Nobody impor- 
tuned me, nobody called me. I was alone with myself, with a 
small ship's company, and with nature, the sea, the winds, the 
clouds and the stars. 

" November 28. Dudley's birthday. As I sat upon the deck 
all the morning, I thought of the bright day when he was born, 
in a front chamber on Murray Street, looking out upon the 
green of Columbia College, and a canary singing in his cage 
over the coming of the child. I ran along the years of his life 


till he died. How my lieart was bound up in him ! Then I 
thought of what was left to me in my daughter and her chil- 
dren, to whom I am going. " 

As they were sailing Soutliward, each day brought 
a milder climate, and all the passengers were on deck, 
enjoying the softer air, while he was for the most part 
sitting in his sea-chair with a book. He had taken with 
him the recently pubKshed "History of Our Times," 
by his old friend Justin McCarthy, and very interesting 
he found it. It set him to thinking whether government 
was really made much better by the long discussions in 
Parliament or in Congress, apropos of which he recalled 
an observation of Lord Normanby, whom he had met 
six years before in Queensland, that in all his life in 
Parliament he had never heard but two speeches that 
changed the vote in the House of Commons : one was 
a speech of Lord Palmerston on the famous Don Pacifico 
case ; and the other a speech of Macaulay on the exclu- 
sion of the Master of the Rolls from the privilege of 
sitting in Parliament. So diflQcult was it to move the 
government. Sir Rowland Hill told him of his expe- 
rience in getting his plan of cheap postage introduced. 
He argued and argued, but made little impression till 
one day the Duke of Wellington sent for him to explain 
it, and getting interested, told him he would take it up. 
As the Iron Duke could speak in a tone of command, 
soon everybody discovered that cheap postage was one 


of the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon the people 
of England ! 

"November 30. The last day of autumn. About nine last 
evening we passed Wattings Island, 1,000 miles due south from 
New York and 470 from Kingston, and Bird Island at four this 
morning, and at six stopped at Fortune Island and took on board 
negro workmen for service on the ship and in port till her 
return. From this we passed Castle Island and then struck out 
straight for Cape Maysi, the eastern end of Cuba. 

•'December 2. Kingston. We anchored off the harbor in 
the night, and steamed up to town by seven o'clock this morn- 
ing. 'The Governor's carriage was waiting for me, and I was 
driven to King's House, where I found myself at eight o'clock 
surrounded by my daughter and her husband and their children. 

' ' December 6. At three in the afternoon we left King's House 
in a landau and drove five miles to Gordon-Town, at the foot of 
the Port Royal Mountain. There taking the horses, which had 
been sent on before, we followed a bridle-path, said to have been 
laid out by the Spaniards, for an hour and a half, when we drew 
up before a low cottage, 4,000 feet above the sea. This is Flam- 
stead, where Jeanie and her family have passed three summers. 
It is said to be eighty years old, and is embowered in flowers 
and vines. Kingston, city and harbor, is at our feet, and the 
highest range of the Blue Mountains, 8,000 feet, fills the horizon 
to the north and east. When Columbus was asked by Isabella 
what Jamaica looked like, he crumpled a sheet of paper, and 
then opening it half way, said that the surface was like that ! 
It was a good illustration. I never saw a mass of mountains 
of so many shapes and so sharply cut. The thermometer now, 
at eleven o'clock, stands at 71, and a gentle breeze stirs the 
foliage about me as I write. Church, the artist, resided for a 
while in these hills, at a cottage a mile or so to the southeast 


of Flamstead, and he thinks the climate the best lie has ever 
known. The quiet is complete ; there is no neighbor within 
fifteen minutes' walk. 

"December 8. Yesterday at three P. M. we had a shower of 
rain, lasting half an hour. When it ceased, we started on a 
ride among the mountains— Jeanie, Anthony, an orderly, a ser- 
vant on foot and myself, in single file, along steep mountains 
and among stunted trees. We passed the spot where Jeanie 
was thrown over the hillside from a runaway horse. It is a 
frightful place, and it was a miracle that she was not killed. 
Our path lay along Mount Elizabeth, to the southern end. The 
views were grand. We did little more than walk our horses, 
now and then starting into a gentle trot. Coming down from 
the mountain one day, we saw a phenomenon I had never seen 
before. It had been raining, and instead of a rainbow there was 
a circle, an aureole, around the head of each of the riders as he 
rode, mirrored in the mist on the opposite side of the ravine. 

"December 20. Yesterday afternoon at five I went with 
the Governor to the camp of the West- Indies Regiment to hear 
the band. The musicians were all black except the leader. The 
privates of the regiment are black, but the ofiicers are white. 
I am told that there is not a black officer, high or low, in the 
British Army. 

"December 28. In the afternoon the Governor, Mr. Baden 
Powell and myself, made a visit to the Commodore at Port Royal. 
We were taken over to the tomb of a person who was swallowed 
up in the great earthquake, thrown out again, and lived after- 
ward thirty years ! 

"In Jamaica I learned two lessons. One was how completely 
one phase of life and occupancy could be blotted out by another. 
We are apt to think with amazement of the changes in Europe 
which the Northern barbarians effected when they came down 


upon the Roman Empire. The example of Jamaica explains it 
fully. The Spaniards colonized the island and inhabited it for 
two hundred years, until it was taken from them by the Eng- 
lish. There is not now, however, so far as I could learn, a ves- 
tige of Spanish rule remaining, except the broken walls of a 
convent on the north side of the island ; the names of three or 
four small streams emptying into the sea, also on that side ; and 
the corruption of a name constantly vised on the south side. 
Near Kingston is a small river which rushes rapidly through a 
ledge of rocks. This is now called ' Bog Walk,' a corruption, 
no doubt, of Boca d' Agua. 

"The other lesson was the impossibility of either a social or 
political admixture of the Aryan and the Negro races. The 
population of Jamaica is roughly estimated at 500,000, of whom 
50,000 are whites, 100,000 browns, and the rest blacks. The 
negroes live in comfortable huts, and the green lanes of their 
villages are often charming. On market days there are crowds 
of men and women buying and selling. The white dresses and 
the headgear of the women make a pictiu-esque scene. But in 
spite of all this, and though they are as free as the whites, and 
have been so for seventy years, there is no mingling of the races. 
The browns hold themselves aloof from the negroes, and the 
whites from both." 

It is a far cry from Jamaica to the Alps, and yet 
there was Mr. Field in the following autumn. On the 
last day of summer he left St. Moritz at seven o'clock, 
drove up the Engadine to the Malaya Pass, and descended 
by a very long and steep zigzag to the valley, a road 
that is wonderful for its scenery. At Casteregno he 
passed the boundary between Switzerland and Italy. 
Here the chestnut trees begin to cover the sides of the 


valley. Having taken the extra post, he travelled rap- 
idly to Lake Como, where a steamer was waiting, and 
at six o'clock he was in the Grand Hotel at Bellagio. 
A day or two after he had one of the surprises that 
make the delight of travel : 

"September 2. At the wharf this morning, as I was about 
to go on the steamer for Como, I met my brother Stephen and 
his wife, who had been at the Hotel Grande Bretagne all day 
yesterday, neither of us knowing that the other was at Bellagio. 
We went together to Como, and there I left them at the station 
to go on to Milan, where I am to meet them on Monday. Around 
the lake the houses, gardens, boat-houses, fountains, winding 
walks, and the dark green foliage, with the variety of trees, 
shrubs and vines, make scenes of indescribable beauty. The 
charm of the Italian lakes lies in the grandeur of the mountains 
that surround them, the frequency of bays and inlets, the wind- 
ings of the lakes, and the softness of the climate, not to mention 
the numberless villas which in the course of generations have 
been built upon the shores. 

"September 5. Milan. The town is full of visitors to the 
Italian Exposition. I have visited it with great interest, con- 
sidering what advances Italy has made since her unity has been 
established. Of all the European nations, she is to me the most 
interesting, from the progress she lias made since she was freed 
from the rule of Austria, Naples and the Pope, and of the petty 
sovereigns who divided and enslaved her, and has become one 
united kingdom from the Alps to the Adriatic. Milan is a bright 
and cheerful city. The people are better looking than the 
French or Swiss ; the profiles and bearing of both men and 
women are finer. 

"September 22. Went to Mentone, where the house of most 


interest to me was the Pension Anglo- Americana, in which my 
grandchildren stayed in 1879. Arrived at Monte Carlo at five 
and took lodgings for the night at the Hotel de Paris, opposite 
the Casino. The day was wintry and the breakers dashed hard 
against the shore. The road was either alongside the breakers 
or above them, giving the most picturesque views of land and 
sea ; a succession of headlands jutting out into the deep, with 
bays between ; from which rose slopes covered with vineyards 
and orange-trees, and dotted with churches and villas, and 
behind all a glorious background of mountains. Strange that 
all this beauty and sublimity should be profaned by the vices of 
men, but here at Monte Carlo is the greatest gambling house in 
Europe. After dinner we paid a visit to the famous (or infamous) 
Casino, where we were required to present our cards, and received 
in exchange tickets of admission to the Cercle des Etrangers. 
and passed into a large hall, a sort of reception room, where men 
and women were walking up and down, and then into the gam- 
bling room, where were four tables, three for roulette and one 
for faro, and all crowded with players, among whom were a 
number of women ! Another entrance opened into a reading- 
room, furnished with more papers than I have seen together 
since I came abroad. Into this I strayed, and was met with the 
ghastly news of Garfield's death ! I had no heart to think of 
anything else, and came straight back to the hotel. 

"Returning to Paris shortly after, I attended a memorial ser- 
vice for the martyred President in the Protestant Church of the 
Oratoire. No death since that of Lincoln has created such a 
sensation throughout Europe as that of Garfield." 

This year the Social Science Congress met in Dublin, 
which Mr. Field had not visited before, and in his first 
walk round the town he ' ' found the streets as dirty 


as in New York" [happily our streets are better now], 
and there was a great deal of squalid poverty, but these 
unfavorable impressions were soon dispelled by Lord 
O'Hagan, the Irish Lord Chancellor, who invited him 
to be his guest at "Woodlands" and with true Irish 
hospitality gave a dinner in his honor, at which thirty 
sat down at the table, among whom were Archbishop 
McCabe and Mr. W. E. Forster, the Chief Secretary 
for Ireland, with whom he dined the next evening at 
the Vice-regal Lodge in Phenix Park. Mrs. Forster 
is a daughter of the famous Dr. Arnold. 

But, with true American curiosity, the one spot in 
Dublin that Mr. Field wished to see was the place where 
Robert Emmet was executed, one of the saddest trage- 
dies in history, with which every American is familiar. 
The pathetic story of his secret engagement to the 
daughter of Curran, as told by Washington Irving,* 
and his courage in the face of death, have thrown a 
romantic association over his name, which was increased 
by the emigration of his brother, Thomas Addis Emmet, 
with other illustrious exiles, to the New World, where 
Mr. Field had seen them in his early days, and it was 

*The picture by Irving in his "Broken Heart" receives its last 
touch from the lines of Moore ending : 

Oh ! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest, 

When they promise a glorious morrow ; 
They'll shine o'er her sleep, like a smile from the West, 
From her own loved island of sorrow ! 


a sad interest to stand on the very spot where perished 
the youthful martjT of Irish independence. 

It had become such a habit of Mr. Field to spend 
part of his summer vacation abroad, that it is enough 
to say that the next year (1882) he followed his usual 
course, with only this change, that, as the place of 
meeting of the Association for the Reform and Codifi- 
cation of the Law of Nations was in Liverpool, he had 
no necessity to cross the Channel. Nor was this a 
hardship or privation, for though he had friends in 
France, Germany, and Italy, yet next to his own coun- 
try, there v/as no spot on earth where he felt so much 
at home, and so much in love with the country and the 
people, as in dear old England, where he spent two 
delightful months, returning in October. 



The happiest part of a man's life is when he has 
come to "the land where it is always afternoon." The 
struggles of life are over ; the battles fought, the vic- 
tories won. Not that he has ceased to be an actor in 
the world's affairs, but he has reached a higher eleva- 
tion, where he breathes a serener air. Into that broad 
upland Mr. Field had now come. Though he was 
approaching his eightieth year, his eye was not dimmed, 
nor his natural force abated. His form was as erect 
and his step as quick and firm as ever. But there was 
a little softening of the inner man. Old contests, if not 
forgotten, were subdued. The combative element in 
him was not quite so strong, perhaps because the victori- 
ous can afford to be magnanimous. Or was it rather 
that the sun had crossed the meridian, and that life, if 
not quite so stirring as in the midday of battle, was full 
of quiet thoughts, of cheering memories, and still more 
cheering anticipations. With the years, as they had 
come and gone, there had been a more general recogni- 
tion at home and abroad of the immense service that 


he had rendered in his reform of the law, in sweeping 
away the technicahties of legal procedure, which, from 
once being sacred, had now become matters of ridicule 
and contempt. In 1883 Lord Coleridge made a visit to 
this country and was received everywhere by bench and 
bar with the respect due to the Lord Chief Justice of 
England. On the eve of his departure New York did 
him honor in a great array of the legal profession at the 
Academy of Music, which he addressed with a frank- 
ness that disarmed all criticism. He did not assume 
to speak for England, as he held a somewhat isolated 
position in the politics of that country. ' ' I have never 
shrunk," he said, "from calling myself a radical, who, 
while greatly admiring Mr. Gladstone, find myself more 
heartily in accord with Mr. Bright than with any other 
living Englishman." A most happy introduction this, 
which sounded as if the Lord Chief Justice of England 
were almost a republican ! At any rate he sympathized 
with liberty wherever he found it, and saw more to admire 
than to criticize, and was more ready to learn than to 
teach. In this spirit he referred to our systems of juris- 
prudence, ' ' some of which he confessed he had not been 
successful in mastering " — a gentle suggestion that even 
here there were a few things that might be improved 
in the administration of the law ! He had been told 
that the English courts despatched business more rap- 
idly than ours, and ' ' he could not express the pleasure 
he felt to think that anything in England was done 


faster than here — even a lawsuit ! " He had been told 
also that the English judges take the liberty of assum- 
ing the direction of affairs more than the practice of 
some of our States would permit. From his point of 
view he could not help thinking that the English were 
right ; and yet from our point of view, so different 
were the circumstances, that we might be right too. 

But better than all was the lesson of England's expe- 
rience. He said : ' ' As the result of ten years of labor 
by a committee of which he was the chairman, the 
English judges had recommended certain changes in 
the methods of procedure, to simplify proceedings. 
It was high time that something was done. A dis- 
tinguished practitioner once said that he did not think 
the world or England would be the worse if every case in 
' Meeson and Welsby ' had been decided the other way ! " 
But this conservatism was not confined to England, 
for he had been told that in one of our States these old 
methods of practice shone as bright as ever ! To such 
worshippers of the past he suggested that, "as we had 
in the Yellowstone Park a collection of the prodigies 
and monstrosities of nature, so the lovers of these old 
forms should set up a park for quaint pleadings, where 
the absque hoes and surrebutters might be preserved 
to gratify future curiosity "—to all which Mr. Field 
listened with a quiet satisfaction that he had lived to 
see the day when England and America were united 
in the work of Law Reform. 


But — to turn from the professional to the personal — 
as our eldest brother was the head of the family, it 
was a part of our household traditions to remember his 
birthday. With the death of his only son, and the 
absence of his only daughter, his three brothers were 
his nearest kindred, and it would have been a sort of 
sacrilege — at least towards our household gods — if we 
had not all come together. We must meet somewhere : 
if it could not be in New York, then in Washington, in 
the well-known house on Capitol Hill, which has been 
famous for thirty years for its generous hospitahty. 
Here we met on his birthday in 1884. Of course it 
added to our pleasure that others should share in our 
admiration for one so dear to us, as when the Justices 
of the Supreme Court of the United States came in a 
body to pay their respects ; and at dinner the govern- 
ment was represented by President Arthur and his 
Secretary of State, Mr. Frelinghuysen ; Chief Justice 
Waite, and Judges Harlan, Blatchford, aod Gray ; 
Senators Edmunds, Bayard, and Gibson ; Mr. Carlisle, 
Speaker of the House ; with Representatives Randall, 
Tucker, Hewitt, and Dorsheimer ; to whom was added 
a representative from the Antipodes in Sir Henry Parke, 
whom Mr. Field had met on the other side of the globe, 
at Sydney, where he was Prime Minister of New South 
Wales. With his large stature and white hair he was 
a striking figure, such as became one of the founders 
of the new empire of the Southern seas. 


The next birthday (1885) rounded out his eightieth 
year, when his brother Cyrus gave a reception, at which 
were not only representatives of his own profession, 
lawyers and judges, but men of science and learning, 
Professors in Columbia College and in the University 
of New York ; and men of affairs, merchants and bank- 
ers — all of whom came together to do honor to one who 
had done as much as any man of his day to establish 
the foundations of the Commonwealth. 

In the month of April he was invited to Halifax, 
Nova Scotia, to make an address at the Dalhousie 
University, where he was received with the greatest 
courtesy by the bench and the bar. A number of the 
judges went to the station to meet him and bid him 
welcome. The Academy of Music was crowded to hear 
his address on the Comparative Jurisprudence of the 
English-speaking peoples. Of the impression made by 
this visit I have heard from several quarters, but from 
no one who was more enthusiastic than the late Sir 
John Thompson, whom I met at the Bering Sea 
Arbitration in Paris, and again at Ottawa, when he 
was the Prime Minister of Canada, and made for him- 
self such a reputation across the sea as led to his 
appointment as one of the Privy Council, for which he 
was called to England to be sworn into office, and had 
gone with the Ministers to Windsor for that purpose, 
where he died suddenly in the Castle, to the great grief 
of the Queen. The English government paid an honor 

300 THE queen's jubilee. 

to his memory such as had never been given to any one 
on this side of the ocean except to George Peabody, in 
sending a ship-of-war to take his remains to Hahfax, 
where he was buried with all the funereal pomp of a 
great military parade with reversed arms and folded 
banners. He was one of the men who could hardly find 
words to express his admiration of David Dudley Field. 

The year 1887 was an annus mirabilis, as it was 
the year of the Queen's Jubilee, an anticipation of what 
we have had ten years later. As it was to be in early 
summer, Mr. Field sailed for England on the 1st of 
June, and on the 21st, the great day of the feast, was 
in his place in Westminster Abbey, in the Diplomatic 
Gallery, where he and Mr, Phelps were the only ones 
in plain dress, a stern simplicity which republicans might 
regard as a distinction, (as it was for Franklin in Paris,) 
in contrast with the rich costumes and decorations of 
the European Ambassadors. The scene was one of the 
greatest brilliancy, but of course all eyes were fixed 
upon the central figure, eyes that were wet with tears, 
when the Queen seemed to be lost in the mother, as she 
kissed her children and grandchildren. 

That was a time of general rejoicing in London, a 
pleasant episode of which followed two days after in 
a dinner given bj^ the Association of Foreign Consuls, 
in which forty nations were represented : indeed every 
nation that had diplomatic relations with England, 
except China. As they came in one by one, and their 


names were announced, now the Consul of Germany, 
and now the Consul of Brazil, etc., etc., it seemed as if 
indeed the ends of the earth were coming together, and 
that tliis was a sign and token of the time when 

"The war-drum throbs no longer, and the battle flags are furled 
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world." 

But no Parhament could keep a grandfather long 
away from his grandsons, the eldest of whom, who bore 
his own name, was at Dartmouth, on board the train- 
ing ship Britannia ; while the two younger were in 
Scotland, pursuing their studies under the watchful 
care of Mrs. Drummond, a friend and kinswoman of 
Dean Stanley. They lived in a castle, an old building 
of irregular shape, once the scene of conflicts between 
the Highlands and the Lowlands in their border feuds. 
The grounds were charming, full of old trees and pleas- 
ant walks. From the castle Mr. Field drove to the 
school where were Arthur and Herbert, when he had 
to confess that it was impossible to describe his emotion 
as the dear boys opened the door and rushed into his 

Returning from Scotland, he had a few days to spare, 
and thinking it a good time to see ' ' how they do things 
on this side of the sea," he went down to Durham 
to attend the Assizes. There were two judges, one a 
Protestant and the other a Catholic, both of whom went 
to church before they went to court, Mr. Field attended 


the service in the Cathedral, where he had a seat in the 
chancel, and observed the judge, as he came in wig and 
gown with an escort of the sheriff, chaplain and police- 
man, after which there was a sermon ! The two judges 
had apartments in the old palace of the bishops. At 
eleven o'clock they came to the court house in a stage 
coach, preceded by trumpeters. This was preserving 
the majesty of justice ! Mr. Field went first to the 
criminal court with the judge and sat beside him all the 
morning. He charged the grand jury, who stood in a 
side balcony a few feet higher than the judge. Then 
he waited for them to act on the indictments presented, 
while he read the depositions of the committing magis- 
trate. After half an hour two of the grand-jurors 
came into the balcony and the ofiQcer in charge passed 
down to the clerk of the assize, in a net bag fastened to 
the end of a pole, two indictments, and withdrew. The 
person indicted was brought in and put on trial. In one 
case two defendants were tried for highway robbery ; 
one was acquitted, the other found guilty and sentenced 
to penal servitude. A woman was put on trial for con- 
cealing the birth of a dead child. She had no counsel, 
but the judge was very lenient, and when the jury 
found her guilty, with a strong recommendation to 
mercy, he let her off with only a week's imprisonment. 
Mr. Field then went over to the ci\al court, where 
Judge Matthew was sitting, and in the evening dined 
with the judges at the Castle. 


Two old customs he found still kept up at Durham : 
one, for the judges to receive on leaving each a jacobus, 
to help them procure protection on their forward jour- 
ney ; the other, to be entertained by the Dean, where 
as they dine a hymn is chanted, and at the end the 
Dean gives them his blessing and a shilling ! 

From Durham he went to Bath, the great resort of 
English fashion a hundred years ago, and still famous 
from its association with the distinguished figures of 
a former generation. Here lived Lord Chatham and 
Gibbon the historian ; Fielding, the novehst ; Lady 
Huntington, the friend of "Wesley ; Napier, the author 
of the Peninsular War ; and Walter Savage Landor. 

Leaving these memories behind, Mr. Field was .next 
to witness a demonstration of the present greatness of 
England in the naval review at Portsmouth, where he 
was a guest on board of one of the troop ships and fol- 
lowed the Queen's yacht through the whole squadron, 
a display of "sea-power" such as the world never saw 
before, nor since till ten years afterward (1897), when 
it was eclipsed, but only by England herself, and in the 
same Avaters. 

From the Isle of Wight he came back to London to 
attend the Peace Conference at Guildhall, where they 
were welcomed by the Lord Mayor, and in the eve- 
ning a great banquet was given at the Mansion House, 
at which there were three hundred guests, and 'Mr. 
Field had to respond for his countrymen. 


That summer (of 1887) seemed to be devoted to fetes 
and celebrations. But after the sunshine come the 
shadows : and the next year he was called to England 
on a sadder errand. He was spending the summer at 
his seaside home on the Sound. The 9th of October was 
the birthday of his daughter, and his thoughts were fly- 
ing over the seas to her, when a message from his brother 
Cyrus was put into his hand, telling him that her hus- 
band, Sir Anthony Musgrave, had died at Brisbane, the 
capital of Queensland, the day before, after an illness 
of but five hours ! The shock was the more terrible 
in that it was wholly unexpected. He was in the full 
vigor of manhood, and never more active or more use- 
ful. Brought up in the service of his country, he was 
an admirable type of that class of men Mdio, trained for 
their high positions, have done so much for the glory 
of England. With his long experience in different 
parts of the world, he may have well looked forward 
to many years of usefulness and honor. His death was 
therefore a great public loss. But the most agonizing 
reflection to Mr. Field was that his only child was a 
widow, and far away on the other side of the globe. 
But, thanks to the ocean telegraph, it was possible to 
communicate with her, and with his message of sym- 
pathy went the assurance that he would meet her in 
England, to which he assumed that she would imme- 
diately return ; and he sailed the next month. He 
met her at Plymouth, which was her first port, and 


came with her to London. After a week or two they 
went to Scotland, to see her youngest son, Herbert. To 
a stricken mother no sympathy could be so tender as 
that of one who had shared her great sorrow. He 
was still there at school near the picturesque old castle, 
whose occupants were as venerable as its ancient walls. 

Returning to London, it was necessary to make plans 
for the winter. It was too late to return to America, 
and the winter in England would be bleak and cold. 
And so, after some deliberation, Mr. Field decided to go 
with a party of friends to Egypt, where they spent the 
winter, going up the Nile, and did not return to England 
till the spring, and reached America in May. 

After nearl}^ a year's absence from his country he 
was glad of a quiet summer in Stockbridge. Nothing 
was so restful to him as nature, and he was more than 
willing to exchange the ceaseless roar of London for 
the stillness of the Berkshire Hills. The last of June 
brought the day of Commencement at Williams Col- 
lege, and we drove up through the county together. 
With the beauty of the season were the associations 
of other days, as we passed over the same old roads, 
through the woods, and by lake and stream, that we 
had travelled many times when life was young. 

At Williamstown he missed his life-long friend Mark 
Hopkins, to whom it had been his sad privilege to pay 
his tribute of love and admiration the year before. 
There were a few old veterans wandering about the 


grounds, as if looking for some familiar face that they 
should see no more. At the meeting of the alumni 
Mr. Field was the most conspicuous figure, and when 
he entered the dining hall, the whole company rose and 
greeted him with cheers. Grateful as all this was, it 
was a constant reminder that he belonged to a genera- 
tion that was rapidly disappearing. 

The summer was passing quietly when there came 
a shock to us all. On the 14th of August the tele- 
graph brought the astounding news that that very day 
there had been an attempt upon the life of our brother 
Stephen by the notorious Terry, who had threatened to 
kill him because of a decision which he had given on 
the bench — a threat which might have been treated 
with contempt had it not been that he was a man of 
blood (he had killed Senator Broderick in a duel many 
years before), which led the government to detail an 
officer to accompany the Judge on his visit to Califor- 
nia to hold court — a precaution that proved to be very 
timely, as the bully, who was a giant in stature, fol- 
lowed him from place to place to carry out his threat, 
and finally approached him at a table and struck a blow, 
and raised his arm for another, which would probably 
have been fatal, if the officer had not shot him dead on 
the spot ! The tragedy created great excitement in 
California and all over the country. Although the 
issue was a relief, we could not feel that our brother 
was quite safe till he had crossed the Continent and we 
had him under our own roof. 


IThough two Presidents of the United States had been assassinated, the 
attack on Justice Field was the Jlrst on a Justice of its Supreme Court. Had 
he fallen in the discharge of his duty, he would have been succeeded soon 
after by one of his own blood. Justice Brewer is the nephew of Justice Field 
and of David Dudley Field, whose Christian name he bears, and in whose 
office he began the study of law. and inherited the courage of both his 
uncles, as well as their clear head and determined will.^ 




1 "^^ '^ ■' 1 




The season closed with more grateful associations. 
Mr. Field, in addition to the duties imposed upon him 
by his connection with societies at home and abroad, 
was also the President of the American Bar Associa- 
tion, which met this year (1889) at Chicago. It was 
not the first time that he had been in that city on a 
similar errand. Thirty years before it had been his 
fortune to deliver an address at the opening of the Law 
School of the University of Chicago on the Magnitude 
and Importance of Legal Science. The present occa- 
sion brought together hundreds of lawyers, not only 
from the West, but from all parts of the country. In 
his opening address he reviewed the changes in statute 
law in the States and by Congress during the preced- 
ing year. The sessions continued for three days, and 
were closed, in the usual American style, by a dinner, 
at which he presided "with a dignity and grace," says 
one who was present, "that gave a pecuHar charm 
to the occasion." It was a lesson in courage, and 
an inspiration and example to the young men of the 
profession, to see so many of the most distinguished 
members of the bar gather round this old warrior, who 
had fought the battle of law reform for half a century. 



The summer of 1890 found Mr. Field once more in 
England, so regular was the swing of the pendulum 
from one side of the ocean to the other, from the land 
of his fathers to the home of his children. His daugh- 
ter, after the death of Sir Anthony Musgrave, had 
taken a house at Harrow for the education of her sons 
at the famous school founded more than three hundred 
years ago, from which have come many who have added 
to the glory of England in arms; in literature and 
science ; in the pulpit and at the bar. 

To be with those so dear to him was to Mr. Field 
the chief attraction to England, but he had also this 
summer a special engagement, to preside at a Peace 
Congress, to be held in London, that would bring 
together representatives from many countries, who 
were enlisted one and all in the common cause of 
promoting the peace of the world. 

As it was necessary for him to be in London, or 
very near to it, no suburb could be more convenient 
than Harrow, which is only ten miles away, and from 
its elevation (for it is "Harrow-on-the-Hill") one can 


almost see the dome of St. Paul's, so that while he was 
far enough from the great city to be out of its rush 
and roar, yet he was so near that he could be whirled 
into it in half an hour, and be brought back again at 
any hour of day or night. 

As the meeting of the Congress was not to be until 
July Mr. Field had several weeks to enjoy the society 
that gathers only in a great capital. At a lawn party at 
Mr. Gladstone's he met Lord Ripon, whom he had last 
seen at a reception in New York, on his return from 
Washington, where he had led the way for the Ala- 
bama arbitration. As he was afterward the Governor- 
General of India, he had represented England in two 
hemispheres. With Lords and Commons were well- 
known writers, among whom were Mrs. Humphrey 
Ward and Mr. James Bryce, who has made our part 
of the English race known to our kinsmen across the 
sea by his "American Commonwealth." But the chief 
charm of all was Mr. Gladstone himself, moving about 
among his guests, enlivening all by the animated con- 
versation of one of the greatest of living men. 

From the Prime Minister who had ruled England 
for so many years, it was but a step to the present 
Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, and the members of 
his cabinet, whom Mr. Field met at St. James's Palace, 
where the Prince of Wales received in place of the 
Queen, with his brothers, the Duke of Edinburgh and 
the Duke of Connaught. 


From Palace to Parliament was an easy transition. 
That very evening he had an appointment at the House 
of Commons, where he heard an animated debate on 
the Irish question between Mr. Balfour, Mr. Gladstone, 
Sir George Trevelyan and others, after which he dined 
with Sir Richard Webster in the crypt below, where 
may be seen every evening when Parliament is in ses- 
sion some of the most famous men of England. With 
Sir Richard were two of his sisters, and Sir William 
Hart Dyke and his wife, with the Solicitor-General and 
Mr. Henry Moskelyne. 

Turning from Parliament, which has centuries of 
history behind it, Mr. Field found that England was 
not so old as to be above trying new experiments in 
government, the most notable of which was the Lon- 
don County Council, that had been introduced to take 
the place of the old ' ' vestries, " which, antiquated and 
cumbrous as they were, were yet so rooted in the very 
soil of England, like the oaks which had stood the 
storms of a thousand years, that it seemed that they 
could not be removed. Yet the Reformers did achieve 
the impossible in framing an ideal city government, 
which is almost as difficult as to frame that of a king- 
dom. To govern Paris is to govern France. It would 
be too much to say that to govern London is to govern 
England : but certainly a wise and just government of 
the greatest city in the world would be an "object 
lesson " to all cities and all countries. 


Mr. Field was curious to see this new departure in 
city government, and Mr. Frederic Harrison, who was 
a member of the Council, took him to it, and introduced 
him to the President, Sir John Lubbock, who had suc- 
ceeded Lord Rosebery. He found it to be composed of 
men of all ranks and conditions, from the Duke of 
Norfolk, the first Duke of the realm, to John Burns, 
the representative of the working classes. In one point 
it extended its membership further than any American 
body, as it had at least one member of the other sex, 
Miss Cobden, a daughter of the famous Richard Cob- 
den. Whether it was that her gentle presence imposed 
a restraint upon the other members, the proceedings 
were as quiet and orderly as if they had been in a 
church. There was none of the hurly burly and con- 
fusion that one sees in the Chamber of Deputies in 
Paris or in our House of Representatives in Washing- 
ton. Everything was conducted so purely with a single 
eye to business, that, if Mr. Field had been asked his 
opinion, and his pride as an American had not forbid- 
den, I am afraid that he would have answered that 
London had the best municipal government in the 
world ; while New York, vnih its Board of Aldermen, 
largely composed of Irish bar keepers, had the worst ! 
Whether it wiU be better under the constitution of 
the Greater New York remains to be seen. 

It was full midsummer when the Peace Congress 
opened. It had been organized only the year before in 


Paris, where it had its first meeting, and now crossed 
the Channel, carrying out what in war might be called 
a strategic movement, recognizing the principle that to 
reach the people of a country, the most direct way is to 
advance on the capital, the centre of population. As 
became a country in which the Christian religion is 
recognized as the most potent influence for peace 
among men, its sessions were prefaced by a special 
service on the preceding Sunday in St, Paul's Cathe- 
dral, where seats were reserved for the delegates, and 
Canon H, Scott Holland preached a sermon on the 
text, ' ' They shall beat their swords into ploughshares 
and their spears into pruning hooks," 

On Monday morning the delegates assembled at the 
Westminster Town Hall, where they were met by the 
Organizing Committee, of which Mr, Hodgson Pratt 
was chairman and Mr. W. Evans Darby secretary. 
Nothing could be more grateful than the hearty English 
welcome. If they could only have had the presence of 
two of their old leaders ! But Lord Shaftesbury, who 
had been the friend of Mr. Field for many years, and 
was foremost in every good cause, had gone to the 
grave ; and the mighty voice of John Bright was 
forever silent. But the love of liberty, of justice, and 
of peace, which they had kindled in the hearts of their 
countrymen, remained behind them. It was also an 
inspiration to those who came from the Continent. 
France was represented by a Member of the Institute, 


M. Frederic Passy, who took a very active part in the 
discussions, as did also Dr. Charles Richet, of the 
University of Paris, M. I'Abbe Defourny, and others, 
who read papers and made speeches in French. 
Whether it was the presence of the Gauls that kept 
away the Germans or not, there were but three repre- 
sentatives from Germany, one of whom was a resident 
of London, and another a lady, the widow of a Ger- 
man pastor, who had lived there ; while the third, Mr. 
Gustav Meier, was a prominent citizen of Frankfort- 
on-the-Main, but too progressive and radical in opinion 
for the German authorities. He removed later to 
Switzerland. There were representatives from Italy 
and Spain ; Belgium and Holland ; Denmark and 
Sweden ; Austria and Servia ; and even from Asia 
Minor and India. 

In his welcome the Chairman had said : ' ' We have 
desired to mark our international character by appoint- 
ing a president who is not an Englishman, but a citizen 
of a friendly nation, on the other side of the Atlantic," 
and in the afternoon the Congress was formally opened 
by Mr. Field, who as he rose to speak, looked round on 
an audience such as is rarely assembled in London, or 
in any European capital. Of course, it was largely one 
of Englishmen, with a strong element of Americans, 
but with them were many of other countries who, if 
they spoke in different tongues, recognized one another 
as kindred in a common humanity. 

314 MK. field's address. 

Mr. Field began by disclaiming for the Congress 
any official character. "We are here," he said, "to do 
our part in influencing public opinion to promote the 
peace of nations. We have no authority from any 
government. We appeal — as we only can appeal — to 
the reason and the conscience of our fellow men." 
Then advancing immediately to his subject : the two 
great conditions of peace were Disarmament and Arbi- 
tration, The first was more of an European than an 
American question, as our army was so small that it 
would hardly serve for the smallest European State. 
Though our country spread across a continent, and 
our population was over sixty-four millions, yet our 
"standing army" numbered but twenty-five thousand 
soldiers ! But it should be said in explanation that we 
really had no enemies : that our vast dominion was 
bounded, not by rival kingdoms, but by two oceans ; 
so that we needed but two or three dozen regiments, 
which were distributed from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; 
a regiment here and there holding a fort that guarded 
one of our great commercial cities, and that might, on 
occasion, serve as an aid to the police in case of mobs 
or riots ; while other regiments were distributed on the 
border to protect the settlers against the Indians. As 
to the cost of our army, it was utterly insignificant 
for a nation so rich as ours. 

But the moment we crossed the ocean all was 
changed. Here were great empires crowding one an- 


other, whose armies had swelled to hundreds of thou- 
sands, till the whole continent trembled under their 
mighty tread. The mere existence of such countless 
hosts, drawn up in battle array, was itself a provoca- 
tion to war. And then the fearful cost ! Even Eng- 
land, the richest nation in the world, felt the drain 
upon her vast resources. Said Mr. Field : 

"The btirdens of the warlike establishments of the Conti- 
nental States are already grievous to be borne. Yet the German 
Emperor has just called for more batteries of artillery to be 
added to his vast army, that he may be able to cope with the 
ever-increasing armaments of France ; and even in England — 
impregnable England — it seems to be a political maxim that her 
navy must always be kept on a level with any two navies in the 
world. In the admirable address of Mr. Charles Roundell, on 
the progress of the working classes of England during the pres- 
ent reign, it is stated that a calculation has been made for the 
purpose of showing how each pound of the national taxes has 
been spent during the present century. The calculation is, that 
there has been spent out of each pound : 

s. d. 
On war and preparations for war 16 Z)^ 

On all expenses of civil government 3 8)^ 

For all these wastes and woes there was but one 
remedy, an agreement between nations that, in case of 
difference, instead of rushing into war, the questions 
in dispute should be submitted to the impartial judg- 
ment of outside parties, that were not enemies to 
either, but friends to both ! This was not a new thing 


under the sun. "Arbitration between States," said 
Mr. Field, "is as old as civilization." 

"Two of the Grecian States, when Greece was in her glory, 
had a long-standing dispute about an island off their coast. 
They finally agreed to submit the dispute to arbiters, and the 
award was religiously kept. Since then the world has been 
deluged in blood, but now and then during the tempest a voice 
has been heard crying for the arbitrament of reason to replace 
the arbitrament of the sword. Henry of Navarre was one of 
those who cried for it, and the Papacy has more than once offered 
its mediation. Finally, when the Temple of Janus was closed in 
1815, men turned their thoughts more than before to the means 
of preventing the reopening of the gates. If the means adopted 
have not been altogeth-er successful, they have prevented some 
wars, and even one prevented is worth all the trouble that the 
friends of peace have ever taken. 

Of this arbitration our two English-speaking coun- 
tries had given a noble illustration. After our Civil 
War we were in anything but a friendly mood. A 
sense of wrong kept up a constant irritation, a feeling 
of bitterness, that might have continued to this day, 
if we had not agreed to submit our differences to an 
outside, and therefore an impartial, tribunal. 

The Alabama arbitration was a lesson to the whole 
world. But the Americans had bettered tiio instruc- 
tion by going one step further still in what we may 
call preventive arbitration, as it anticipates danger in 
case of any incident that excites the public, and pre- 
vents an explosion by the assurance that the matter 


will be fairly met, and fully explained, if not directly 
between the parties themselves, yet by reference to 
other countries that are friends of both. Only the 
year before the Congress in London, there had been an 
' ' International Conference " in Washington, composed 
of representatives of all the Republics of North, Cen- 
tral, and South America, which, after some weeks of 
deliberation, adopted arbitration as the principle of 
American International Law for the settlement of 
differences, disputes, or controversies that might arise 
between them ! At the close of this conference Mr. 
Blaine, Secretary of State, bidding adieu to the dele- 
gates, said : "If in this closing hour the Conference 
had but one deed to celebrate, we should call the world's 
attention to the deliberate, confident, and solemn dedi- 
cation of two great continents to peace. We hold up 
this new Magna Charta, which abolishes war, and 
substitutes arbitration between the American Repub- 
lics, as the first and great fruit of the International 
American Conference." 

The summer of 1890 may well be called a golden 
summer, as the very air seemed to be filled with peace : 

No war nor battle's sound 
Was heard the world around." 

The whole earth was at rest and quiet. Hardly had 
the Peace Congress adjourned before it was followed 
by another assemblage, kindred but not the same, an 


"Inter- Parliamentary Conference," composed of mem- 
bers of the Parliaments of different countries, who in 
meeting face to face came to that full understanding, 
which is the best assurance of peace. When their 
deliberations were over, they all sat down together at 
a feast of good will, at which Mr. Field was a guest, 
and when called upon for his word of cheer, answered 
briefly : 

"My Lords and Gentlemen, I am going to preach you a very 
short sermon upon the text projDOsed by Mr. Shaw-Lefevi-e — an 
International Parliamentary movement. Last week I had the 
honor of being present at an unofficial Congress, composed of pri- 
vate individuals of many nations, earnestly bent on doing what 
they might to further the cause of international arbitration. 
To-night I am proud to address a body of ParUamentary repre- 
sentatives inspired by the same lofty ideal. 

"I hear people declare us enthusiasts, dreamers, unpractical 
folk chasing a phantom. But stop a moment I Think a moment ! 
Is it true that we are unpractical ? What is that prayer we hear 
Sunday after Sunday, 'Give peace in our time, O Lord.' What 
does that mean ? It means that we have the consciences of the 
world with us. Things change as time rolls on. Suppose the 
common people in the time of the Plantagenets and Tudors had 
claimed the right to manage the aflPairs of the nation. What 
would the nobles have said ? But what do the nobles say now ? 

■•' We are called unpractical, but when the German Emperor 
demands more battalions for his armies, and a representative of 
the groaning German people rises in the Reichstag and asks %vith 
whose blood and whose money those battalions are to be paid 
for — is that unpractical ? And when the statistician tells you 
Englishmen that during the whole of this century, for every 


pound of public money raised, 16s. Z}4d. have been spent for 
war — is that unpractical ? And when you learn that to-day out 
of six hundred and seventy members of the House of Commons 
there are two hundred and thirty -four ready to vote for an arbi- 
tration treaty, and that if only one hundred more members will 
join us, the problem is solved — is that unpractical ? 

No ! we are not visionaries in fighting the battle of civiliza- 
tion. The contest may be long, but the victory is sure. We 
may not see it in our day, but our children will, when the church 
bells shall ring all over the world for the coming of universal 
peace. " 

And was this gathering of the nations merely pomp 
and show, signifjang nothing ? On the contrary it was 
more sacred and binding than any treaty. From the 
hour when the Americans were taken into the hearts 
and homes of England, they could not help feeKng 
that they were no more "aliens from the common- 
wealth of Israel," but fellow-heirs in the great inherit- 
ance of learning, of liberty, and of religion. 

After the strain of this continued excitement Mr. 
Field felt the need of rest, and with his daughter and 
her two younger cadets (the eldest was on board his 
ship in the Mediterranean), took flight to the Continent. 
They had engaged rooms at Heidelburg, which had 
especial attractions to young students in its ancient 
university, as well as in its beautiful scenery on the 
Neckar. Leaving them in these picturesque surround- 
ings Mr. Field went to Homburg, to which Americans 
flock not only for its waters, but for the great number 


of visitors from all parts of Europe, among whom are 
always some notable personalities. 

A striking figure this summer was the old Duke of 
Cambridge, so long the commander in Chief of the 
English army, in which he succeeded the Duke of Wel- 
lington, to whom Mr. Field was introduced, and al- 
though watering-place acquaintances do not ordinarily 
amount to much, there seems to have been an attrac- 
tion between these two old veterans. Again, a stranger 
of such commanding presence that he might have been 
a soldier, introduced himself as Sir Charles Russell. 
The two men were at once drawn to each other by the 
common interests of professional life, and by the rela- 
tions of their two countries, and were soon plunged in a 
long conversation about the English bar and English 
politics. This first interview gave Mr. Field a very 
high opinion of his new acquaintance, so that it was 
no surprise, on the death of Lord Coleridge, to see Sir 
Charles Russell named at once for the succession as 
the Lord Chief Justice of England. 

From these restful days Mr. Field was recalled to 
England to take part in another "Association" of 
which he was a member, and might almost be called 
the founder — that "for the Reform and Codification of 
the Law of Nations," which met this year at Liverpool. 

Returning to London, he joined some American 
friends, with whom he had been invited to pay a visit 
to Winst^d Abbey, the home of Byron, an invitation 


which appealed to one who could well remember when 
Byron was the idol of the youth of America, not only 
for his poetry, that will live as long as the English 
tongue, but for his romantic career, dying in Greece, 
where he had gone to join in the struggle for liberty. 

Accepting the invitation, they left London for New- 
stead Station, where the carriage of Mr. Webb, the 
proprietor of the estate, was waiting for them. The 
Abbey is a mile and a half distant, to which they were 
driven between rows of trees to where a turn brought 
them in sight of the Abbey, the arch of the chapel 
standing in the gloaming naked against the sky. The 
rest of the old pile remains or has been restored. 

They were welcomed with true English hospitality 
and introduced to whatever there was that had any 
association with the poet. Here was Byron's own 
room, with the bed on which he slept, and the old hall, 
where he had his revels with his friends. The room 
assigned to Mr. Field was the one occupied by Wash- 
ington Irving when he visited the Abbey, to take in 
its features for the description in his Sketch Book. 
From the Abbey they were driven to Hocknall church, 
where the poet sleeps after his stormy life : and the 
evening was spent in looking over his manuscripts. 

From this old Abbey Mr. Field and his friends flew 
away to Scotland to visit American friends on Loch 
Lomond, and then, returning to Liverpool, embarked 
for their home beyond the sea. 



To spend a season in London, in a constant round of 
public meetings and social engagements, may be very 
delightful, but would hardly be prescribed by a physi- 
cian to a man in his eighty-sixth year. Mr. Field had 
an iron frame that could bear any amount of fatigue, 
but when he had crossed the sea he felt the reaction, 
and found it wise to reserve his remaining strength by 
going into winter quarters. 

But to a man who never wanted for occupation the 
months were not long nor lonely, and he celebrated his 
eighty-sixth birthday with his brothers and nephews 
and nieces around him. In the evening General Sher- 
man came in to offer his congratulations. They were 
warm friends, and found great pleasure in recalling 
their memories of former years. But the warrior's 
work was done. The next week he was taken ill and 
died in a few days. The funeral pageant was such as 
had not been seen in New York since that of General 
Grant, and was a warning to many of the veterans 
who followed him to the grave, among whom was Mr. 


Field. The warning came none too soon, for in another 
week he, too, was in the hands of the doctor, who, after 
a careful examination, told him that his stout old heart 
did not beat quite so firm and strong as when he was 
in the full swing of lusty life. Its irregular beating 
was a danger signal. As he could not go abroad to see 
his dear ones, they must come to him. He took a 
house at Dobbs Ferry, where he was soon joined by his 
daughter and her two youngest sons, as the oldest was 
on board his ship. Thus the family that had been at 
Harrow the jeav before was established on the banks 
of the Hudson and passed a happy summer together. 

It was not till the beginning of September that they 
took their leave. As Mr. Field's brother Cyrus had a 
yacht, which was always at the service of coming and 
departing guests, they all went on board for their last 
sail. It was a perfect day. The woods were beginning 
to be touched with their autumn hues, while light 
clouds were floating in the deep blue sky. In an hour 
or two the boat drew up at the Cunard dock, from 
which the voyagers waved their adieus to those on 
board the yacht as it turned and steamed up the river. 

Mr. Field lingered in the country for some weeks to 
enjoy the beauty of the autumn, coming into town on 
the 12th of October. He was still under the doctor's 
care, but went out on the 3d of November to cast his 
vote for the first time under the new ballot, formed 
after the Australian model. 


The next day saw him in a novel court. Though he 
had been all his life arguing cases at the bar, he had 
never been present at an ecclesiastical tribunal ! Pro- 
fessor Briggs, of the Union Theological Seminary, was 
accused of heresy before the Presbytery of which I 
was a member, and I invited my brother to accompany 
me to hear his defence. It was written out in full, and 
the reading took two hours and a half. But Mr. Field, 
who was always interested in a subtle argument, sat to 
the end, though I am afraid that he did not go away 
with increased respect for our church courts, when he 
saw an eminent scholar arraigned because of his inter- 
pretation of some passages in the Old Testament. But 
he was not much concerned about the issue, for he was 
sure that, sooner or later, truth would make its way. 
He was content to say with Galileo, "The world does 


The winter was a very quiet one, as the rigors of 
the season kept him within doors, but even then there 
was an exhilaration in looking out through the frosted 
panes at the fljnng snow. Though shut up among his 
books, he was not without company in the great minds 
that spoke to him from the printed page, while he was 
still an interested observer of the events of the passing 
time. His friends, too, felt it to be a pri%alege to spend 
an hour in conversation with him, so that he was never 
lonely, and when he completed his eighty-seventh year, 
looking backward on the life that was nearly ended, 


and forward to the longer life that was soon to begin, 
he thus moralized with himself : 

What is it noiv to live ? It is to breathe 

The air of heaven, behold the pleasant earth. 

The shining rivers, the inconstant sea, 

Sublimity of mountains, wealth of clouds, 

And radiance o'er all of countless stars. 

It is to sit before the cheerful hearth 

Witli groups of friends and kindred, store of booTiS, 

Rich heritage from ages past ; 

Hold sweet communion soul with soul, 
On things now past, or present or to come. 
Or muse alone upon my earlier days. 

Unbind the scroll whereon is writ 

The story of my busy life. 
Mistakes too often, but successes more, 
And consciousness of duty done. 
It is to see with laughing eyes the j)lay 

Of children sporting on the lawn. 

Or mark the eager strifes of men 

And nations, seeking each and all. 

Belike advantage to obtain 

Above their fellows ; such is man ! 
It is to feel the pulses quicken, as I hear 

Of great achievements near or far 
Whereon may turn x)erchance 
The fate of generations ages hence. 
It is to rest with folded arms betimes. 

And so surrounded, so sustained. 

Ponder on what may yet befall 

In that unknown mysterious realm 


Which lies beyond the range of mortal ken, 
Where souls immortal do forever dwell, 
Think of the loved ones who aw^ait me there, 
And without murmuring or inward grief, 
With mind unbroken and no fear, 
Calmly await the coming of the Lord. 

With such serenity he contemplated the future. 
But he could not be insensible to the sorrow of one so 
dear to him as his brother Cyrus, whose life had been 
not only one of great activity and distinction, but of 
complete domestic happiness. Married at the age of 
twenty-one, he had lived with the wife of his youth for 
half a century. Only a few months before they had 
celebrated their golden wedding, with congratulations 
from both sides of the ocean. But the next summer, 
when they had removed to their beautiful home on the 
Hudson, she was taken ill, and died at the close of 
autumn, to be followed in a few months by their eldest 
daughter, which, with other sorrows, quite broke his 

From that moment he lost his interest in life. He 
had no heart to go anywhere, but once came with 
Dudley to us on my birthday. It seemed to comfort 
him to be with his brothers, and we tried all our gentle 
arts to cheer him. He brightened a little and once or 
twice a smile passed over his sad face. But his heart 
was in the grave, and we could not repress the forebod- 
ing that this family meeting might be our last, and so 


it proved. In June he went to the countrj^, and there in 
midsummer the end came. In the diary which Dudley 
kept, he recalls the final scene : 

"July 12th. Our dear brother Cyrus breathed his 
last this morning. He had been ailing and mourning 
all the while since our dinner at Henry's, but in June 
he was moved to his country seat at Dobbs Ferry, 
where he hoped he might revive, and he did a little, 
but it was only a flush of life from the country air, 
and so he lingered, sometimes better, sometimes worse. 
Stephen arrived from "Washington a week before, and 
Henry from Stockbridge, and both remained at the 
house and were with him constantly. I went two or 
three times a day from Hastings, where Laura [the 
wife of Dudley, Jr.] was occupying her old home. 
This morning Stephen and Henry sent for me to hasten 
to Cyrus's bedside. I knew what the message meant, 
and went at once. I found him unconscious, but 
breathing still ; we watched him closely, sitting by 
his bedside, the three brothers, Mrs. Judson and 
her two sons. Hemorrhage from the lungs set in, 
and at 9 :50 his Hps ceased to move. His busy life was 

"A simple religious service was held at his house 
on Thursday afternoon, and the next morning we went 
in a funeral train to Stockbridge, where we rode slowly 
through the village street, so beautiful with its long 
avenue of maples and elms, to the old Congregational 


Church, in which our father had preached for so many 
years, and the beloved form was laid in the aisle before 
the pulpit. The service was very simple : only a 
prayer, with reading of the Scriptures and the singing 
of one or two favorite hymns ; and the procession 
formed again, and moved across the green to the 
burying ground where our father and mother lay, and 
where his wife had been laid but a few weeks before. 
There, in the sweet summer afternoon, we laid him to 
rest in a bed of ferns and pine boughs and covered 
with flowers. Peacefully now he sleeps where he so 
often said he wished to sleep, by the side of his wife 
and close to his father and mother, his sister and his 
oldest son. Long as any of us survive, shall we 
cherish the memory of our beloved brother." 



The summer of 1893 Mr. Field did not spend abroad. 
One year before we had laid our dear Cyrus to rest 
beside his kindred, among the hills where he was born, 
and his eldest brother could not but choose to pass 
the following summer — the last, as it proved, that he 
was to spend on earth — in the quiet valley so dear to us 
all from its associations with the living and the dead. 

As Mr. Field's house on the hill top in Stockbridge 
was much too large for his diminished household, he 
took up his home for the summer in the village, in 
"Laurel Cottage," that was full of pleasant memories 
as it had belonged to his second wife. * 

It is in a quiet nook, embowered among the trees, 

*Mr. Field was three times married, first to Jane Lucinda 
Hopkins, of Stockbridge, who was the mother of his children, 
who died in 1836 : second to Mrs. Harriet Davidson, the widow 
of James Davidson, who died in 1864 : and third to Mrs. Mary- 
Elizabeth Carr, the widow of Dr. Samuel J. Carr, a physician of 
Baltimore, who died in 1876. "Laurel Cottage" has since been 
made familiar to the public by the delightful letters of Matthew 
Arnold, who occupied it in the summer of 1886. 


with a background on one side of the rocky knoll of 
Laurel Hill, at the foot of which the Housatonic flows 
gently under the willows. Mr. Field's room was on 
the second floor, in the rear, looking South, so that it 
was full of sunshine, while from the window he looked 
down the green slope to the river, beyond which rose 
the wooded side of Bear Mountain, so named from the 
bears that were once as numerous among the rocks and 
trees as were the Indians who built their wigwams in 
the valley below.* 

And if there was sunshine without there was sun- 
shine within. He was always sitting at his table, 
reading or writing, but ready to lay down book or pen 
to talk on the topics of the day, on which he gave his 

* Possibly his interest was increased because of a feeling 
almost of reverence for the primeval forest. The sound of the 
woodman's axe had no music to his ears, and he was almost 
indignant at the farmers, who swept acres upon acres, leaving 
the earth naked and bare. This he looked upon as a kind of 
desecration, and from time to time bought large tracts to save 
the forests, so that at last he found himself the owner of a whole 
mountain side. Of this he gave to the town fifty -eight acres, 
including the Ice Glen, a deep gorge in the mountain (which 
had apparently been rent asunder by an earthquake), that for 
its wildness is a favorite resort of the young people, who come 
at night, when the darkness is lighted up by flaming torches, 
which but magnify the surrounding gloom and perchance give 
a creeping chill to the young men and maidens, that is only 
removed as they emerge by a dance on the green I 


opinions freely, and was no less ready to listen to mine, 
however little they might be worth, from which we 
wandered off to graver subjects, for his mind was so 
active that he was ready to talk on the law or the 
Gospel, on politics or religion. 

It may surprise some who did not know the man to 
be told that our conversations were often on the gravest 
subjects — of the supernatural and the life to come. He 
did not talk of these things with everj'^body. As he did 
not intrude into the opinions of others, no stranger 
would presume to catechise him as to his belief or 
unbelief. But, like every thoughtful man, he was not 
without his questionings about the great mysteries of 
life, and when he was with an old friend, like Mark 
Hopkins, he talked freely. But now that friend was 
gone, and he had his own silent, solitary thoughts. As 
he rode over the hills, and saw the sun going down in 
the west, he could but reflect how soon he would sink 
below the horizon. And then what? Was it all a 
blank ? or was there another life that was to begin ? 
Man's breath goeth forth from his nostrils. But is the 
soul only a breath ? Is thought only the vibration of 
particles of the brain, as the strings of an instrument 
give forth sound ? When the instrument is broken 
the music is gone. Why may not the last sigh of 
the departing soul be the utter going out of life, 
growing fainter and fainter till it is lost in the eternal 
silence ? 


All these questions hung on the greater one of the 
existence of God. Mr. Field had in his college days 
studied Butler's Analogy and Paley's Natural Theol- 
ogy, and accepted their conclusions. But with his 
logical mind he was always open to argument, and 
was not afraid to look any proofs squarely in the face, 
even if they led him to annihilation ! Such a man 
could not be indifferent to the scientific speculations of 
the day, supported as they were by new discoveries. 
Darwin had made a great stir in the scientific world by 
his work entitled "Origin of Species by Means of Nat- 
ural Selection," followed up by "The Descent of Man," 
in which he attempts to trace it to a development from 
a lower order of animal life. Indeed he did not hesi- 
tate to picture the ancestor of the human race, saying 
that "Man is descended from a hairy quadruped, fur- 
nished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal 
in its habits ! " This was an ancestry that was not very 
flattering to our pride, but the theory was caught up 
by the atheists of the Continent as doing away with 
the need of an Author of all things. But in America 
there was at least one man of science, Louis Agassiz, 
who was not carried away by this assumption of supe- 
rior knowledge : as I once heard him declare in the 
ringing voice that bespoke a conviction which nothing 
could shake, that the adaptation of means to an end, 
which runs through nature, is the infallible token of 
mindy the proof of an intelligent Creator. 


Another great authority was equally positive. In 
the year 1884 the British Association for the Promotion 
of Science met for the first time on this side of the 
Atlantic, in Montreal, and among the distinguished 
men who came to it was Sir William Thomson, now 
Lord Kelvin. As he had been closely associated with 
our brother Cyrus in the laying of the Atlantic cable, 
the latter claimed him as his guest as soon as he landed 
in America. On his way to Montreal, he came to us in 
our country home, and spent a few days in the Berk- 
shire Hills. Of course I could not lose the opportunity 
of questioning such an authority on the relation of 
science and religion — questions which he met with the 
coolness of a philosopher, to whom nothing was sacred 
but truth. He thought that the much vaunted theory 
of natural selection had had its day. Cold and cheer- 
less as it was, he would not shrink from it, if it was 
supported by evidence. But it was, to use the form of 
a Scotch verdict, "unproven." "But what," I asked, 
' ' do you say to the bold prediction of Tyndall that ' in 
matter will yet be found the promise and the potency 
of all life?'" to which he answered with a smile, "I 
do not think Tyndall would say that now;" and then ho 
told me how Pasteur had exploded the theory of spon- 
taneous generation ; and gave me his own opinion that 
the argument from design in the material world, a8 
wrought out in what he called ' ' that excellent old book, 
Paley's Natural Theology," was unansiverable ! 


All these points I talked over with my brother for 
hours, and he assented to the conclusions, but never 
argued about it, for the questions were too awful to be 
discussed like a point of law. Sometimes he sat silent, 
leaning his head upon his hand, with a far-away look, 
as if he was peering into the distant and unknown. A 
photograph taken, I know not where, perhaps on the 
other side of the globe, shows him in these thoughtful 
moods, as I have seen him a thousand times. 

But happy as he was this last summer in riding about 
the Berkshire Hills, yet as the season drew on, and the 
autumn leaves began to fall, I perceived a yearning for 
the dear ones beyond the sea, and he said, ' ' I want to 
see my daughter once more, and my boys," as he 
always called his grandsons, even when they were 
nearly grown to manhood. Indeed the eldest, who bore 
his grandfather's name of Dudley, had just reached his 
majority, and it was partly to celebrate this event that 
he wished to spend the coming Christmas in England. 
If he could but once more be with that beloved 
group, he could die happy. The doctors shook their 
heads, for he had not yet fully recovered from the 
illness of three years before. But love carried it over 
prudence and that last satisfaction was given him. 
Leaving home late in the autumn, in two weeks he 
was sitting before the open fire at the home of his 
daughter in East Grinstead, in Sussex, about thirty 
miles from London, to which Lady Musgrave had 


removed after her sons had finished their studies at 
Harrow. Here they were all gathered round him. 
Dudley was already a midshipman in the navy, but 
fortunately his ship was now in an English port, so 
that he was able almost every Sunday to visit his 
mother and grandfather. Arthur was in the military 
school at Woolwich, while the youngest, Herbert, had 
made his studies for the same profession, and had gone 
through his examinations, but had not yet heard the 
result, for which he was waiting with no small anxiety, 
as there were four hundred candidates, and only fifty 
appointments. But one morning The Times brought 
the full report, from which it aj^peared that he was, 
not only one of the fifty, but the second on the list ! 
This was, of course, immensely gratifying to the young 
soldier, and to his mother and brothers, but perhaps 
most of all to his grandfather, in whom the paternal 
instinct was very strong. It did one's heart good to 
see the mixture of pride and affection that glowed in 
his face as he looked round the little circle of those 
who had his blood in their veins. If he was ambitious 
for his grandsons, it was only that as they grew in 
years they should develop a manliness that gave promise 
of an honorable career. In a pamphlet of "Personal 
Recollections" which he had prepared for his grand- 
children, he closes with this tender farewell to those 
who should come after him : 

"Here, in the middle of my eighty-eighth year, I 


close what are hardly worthy to be called 'Reminis- 
cences,' since they are little more than a succession of 
dates, with names of persons and places. But even 
these have their use. The dates of the years as they 
pass are so many milestones to mark the successive 
stages of our life's journey : while the names of places 
far apart on the face of the globe, tell of the goings to 
and fro : and as a background for the personalities 
that appear as actors on the stage, they recall the 
varied scenes and occupations of a long and laborious 
life. These guide posts will be of service at least to 
my grandchildren, who from these 'Notes' may turn 
back to the 'Diaries,' where all is detailed with greater 
fullness, from which they may know what manner of 
man their grandfather was. To them he leaves this 
brief story of his life, only reminding them that, on 
whichever side of the ocean their lot may be cast, the 
elements of true manhood are the same ; and bequeath- 
ing to them, as their best inheritance, the love of free- 
dom, the spirit of independence ; fidelity in every posi- 
tion, private or public ; and the traditions of truth, 
justice and honor." 



Delightful as are the homes of England, the coun- 
try is not quite the same in December as in May. 
It is now as when Keats wrote the exquisite lines : 

"St. Agnes' eve ! ah, bitter chill it was ; 
The owl with all his feathers was a' cold." 

Although Sussex is in the south, and its chalk hills rise 
up like the cliffs of Dover, as if to protect the land 
from the sea, yet the winds sweep over the South 
Downs, and howl round castle and cottage. Mr. Field, 
accustomed to the blazing fires of America, had to wrap 
himself up very warmly, and still felt that the climate 
of England in winter was not quite suited to one of his 
age ; and after the Christmas holidays were over, and 
the grandfather's heart was filled with joy and pride, 
he bade adieu to the household so dear to him, and 
accompanied only by his faithful valet, Watson, who 
had been with him for years, he crossed the Channel 
to Paris, where he found his "nice and warm apart- 
ment waiting for him " at his old quarters in the Hotel 
Bristol. Though it was mid- winter Paris was as gay 


as ever. But he was so eager to get into a warmer 
climate that he left the same night for Cannes, though 
he missed the luxury of travel to which he had been 
accustomed in America. "The train de luxe,^^ he 
said, " is a misnomer : there is no luxury in it ! " But 
any feeling of discomfort vanished as he reached Mar- 
seilles, and looked out on the glittering Mediterranean. 

Nice was bathed in sunshine. His hotel was on the 
quay, and even in mid- winter, January 15th, he re- 
ports : "The sun is shining all glorious this morning." 
His letters seem to breathe the warmth of the atmos- 
phere. He writes to his daughter : 

"Of course I greatlj^ miss your companionship, and 
that of my dear boys, but I am better off in this 
climate. The sun has shone brightly the five days 
that I have been on the Riviera, and I am perfectly 
comfortable. My faithful Watson guards me. I took 
a walk with him before lunch along the boulevard, 
which skirts the bay for a mile or so. The scene was 
a gay one, such as only France can exhibit : all sorts 
of people and all sorts of vehicles, and I might add all 
sorts of amusements. The French are an amiable and 
volatile people, with a streak of the tiger in them ! " 

And now the sea itself took on a new interest, when 
a letter from England informed him that his oldest 
grandson, who was a midshipman in the navy, and 
had been waiting orders, had been ordered to the East 
India squadron. He answered at once : 


"This is good news if the station is healthy. I sup- 
pose that on board the ship one is protected from 
disease more than on land. God i:)rosper the dear 
fellow ! How fortunate it is that I came over as I 
did, and could see all my brave boys and you together. 
Give Dudley my warmest love and wish him every 
good fortune. Keep up your heart, my darling ! " 

Writing again, he asked about the ship and her 
commander, and was gratified to get the best reports, 
not only of the superior officers, but of his fellow 
midshipmen. A few days later he writes : ' ' Before 
this my dear Dudley is off on his way to his duty in 
the service to which he has devoted himself for life. 
What a dear brave fellow he is ! He will yet do us 
all credit, I firmly believe." 

Happy dreams of a proud grandfather, which 
warmed his heart every time he thought of "his 
boy " on his way to India to the brilliant career which 
had been pictured for him. Happy in his anticipa- 
tions, he was happy also that he did not live to 
suffer the bitterness of disappointment. But only a 
few months after his own death in America, came the 
tidings that the grandson who bore his name and had 
given such promise for the future, had died on the 
other side of the globe, in the harbor of Bombay. 

From Nice Mr. Field took his journey by easy 
stages : resting a couple of days at Monte Carlo ; and 


again at Mentone, where a daughter of his brother 
Cyrus, Mrs. Andrews, had Kved for many years. 

When he reached Genoa, he laid out his plan for 
the rest of the winter. He had six weeks to spend in 
Italy, and dividing the time so as to get the most out 
of it, he thought it wiser, instead of going direct to 
Florence and Rome and Naples, to reverse the order 
and sail from Genoa to Naples, so as to be at once in 
the warmest climate, where he might spend a couple 
of weeks, and then come north slowly, so as to be in 
Rome for the Holy Week, and "wind up with Florence, 
from which it would be an easy day's journey back to* 
Genoa, from which he was to sail for America. 

This was an excellent division of time, which he 
carried out with a military precision, and with a success 
beyond his anticipations. He wrote from Naples, "The 
weather is so mild that I do not need a fire. I have no 
sensation of cold ; and being careful to keep out of the 
night air, I feel as safe as if I were in Stockbridge or 
Gramercy Park." And then, looking out upon the 
Mediterranean, he adds : ' ' Dudley is by this time far 
on his way to Port Said. I can imagine the dear fellow 
sailing past Naples in this 'great and wide sea.' God 
bless him and you all ! " One day he spent in an ex- 
cursion to Pompeii, and found the excavations greatly 
extended since his visit fifty-seven years before ! Look- 
ing back through all those years it was like recalling a 
past existence to sit in the Grand Hotel du Vesuve, 

IN ROME. 341 

and look out upon the bay that never loses its beauty, 
and see the smoke of Vesuvius ascending as he had 
seen it in the long ago of more than half a century. 

Yet with all the attractions of Naples those of 
Rome were greater. The very next morning after his 
arrival he was in St. Peter's, and "To-morrow," he 
writes, "J. intend to visit the Coliseum, and other 
monuments of old Rome. But I restrain myself to 
two or three hours a day." He had reason to be on his 
guard, for nothing is more wearying than sight-seeing. ' 
In his younger days he had explored them all, going 
day after day to the Forum and the Capitol ; seeking 
out the spot where "great Caesar fell;" and riding 
along the Appian Way, where he could almost hear the 
tramp of the Roman legions, returning from the wars, 

" Bringing many captives home to Rome, 
Whose ransom did the public coffers fill." 

If he had not now the strength for such fatiguing 
excursions, it was something still "to breathe that 
haunted air." 

But modern Rome, if it be not quite so imposing to 
the imagination as ancient Rome, is still the Capital, 
and combines more to attract the stranger than any 
other ItaHan city. He found the climate but little 
changed from that of Naples. There it had been 
almost too warm for an overcoat ; while in Rome the 
air was a httle crisp, but all the more bracing. He 


writes to his daughter : "If you could see me basking 
in the full light of an Italian sun, you would think me 
well off. All is cheerful about me. Our hotel (the 
Quirinal) is excellent, the city is clean, the streets are 
full of people, all seeming interested in something ; life 
is in its best estate as far as outward appearances go." 

With so many attractions, it is not surprising that 
Rome should bring together, more than any other city 
in Europe except Paris, a very miscellaneous society, 
as it is from many countries ; and a very charming 
one, as it includes artists and authors and scholars 
studying ancient history ; and notable public men : 
French deputies or English Members of Parliament ; 
who, to prolong the Christmas holidays, find no winter 
resort so full of interest as the ' ' Eternal City. " 

Rome has also a large American colony. The hotel 
was fuU of Americans, who appeared at a reception 
given by Mrs. John Hay in numbers equal to the 
weekly reception of the American Minister. In this 
goodly company no one was more welcome than Mr. 
Field himself. Wherever he went he was surrounded 
by friends and admirers, who were all delighted with 
the youthfulness of one who seemed to belong to an- 
other generation. Those who had known him in former 
years said they had never seen him more full of life ; 
at once enjoying more and contributing more to the 
enjoyment of others. 

Those whom he had known in his earlier visits were 


few, but it was good to look into their faces again. 
The oldest of these was the American artist Terry, 
who had lived in Rome half a century, and his charm- 
ing wife, whose first husband was the famous sculptor 
Crawford, and who was the mother of the popular 
author, Marion Crawford. As Mr. Field's birthday 
(February 13th) was at hand, they would have him to 
dine with them. He felt it to be hardly prudent to be 
out in the evening, but could not deny himself the 
pleasure of sitting down at luncheon with such dear 
old friends. The same day he wrote to his daughter in 
a tone of grateful satisfaction with the past and calm 
contemplation of the future : "I am stronger than I 
was a year ago, when I passed my birthday with the 
Judge in Washington. The voyage and the sea and 
the journey since have done me good, and above all 
the visit to you and the sight of my boys has created a 
soul under the ribs of death." But in his last words 
there is a tone of sadness that is almost prophetic : 
' ' What may be in store for us in the year now entered 
upon God only knows. I only know that we must 
keep brave hearts, prepared for any event, and seeking 
to do our duty whatever may befall." 

Next to Rome in its attraction to those who come 
over the sea, is Florence, where every winter brings 
together a large foreign population, in which are hun- 
dreds of Enghsli and American visitors : and here, as 
at Rome, Mr. Field's countrymen gave him a hearty 


welcome. Among the resident Americans no one is 
better known than Professor Fiske, of Cornell Univer- 
sity, who has lived here for years, which he has devoted 
to collecting rare books. His early editions of Petrarch 
are of such value that he keeps them locked up in 
cases as he would precious jewels. Another treasure 
is a collection of Icelandic literature ! Most of us 
hardly know that Iceland ever had a literature. It 
would seem as if the intense cold would freeze the 
very blood and brains of the inhabitants. But the long 
evenings have been favorable to reading and to writing 
also. Here is a Bible centuries older than Luther's, 
and a collection of other volumes which show that 
there was a dawn of letters in this far away island, 
almost in the Arctic circle, long before the Renaissance 
came in Central and Southern Europe. 

Among the well-known virtues of our American 
professor is that of hospitality to his countrymen, 
which he shows in the most delightful way. He would 
come in his carriage to take Mr. Field to a drive to the 
Tower of Galileo, or to some other of the beautiful 
points of view around Florence ; and next bring the 
codifier of America face to face at his table with one 
of the most distinguished of jurists and statesmen of 
Italy ; and again give him a reception at which he 
could meet the best representatives of Italian society 
as well as the English and American residents. These 


courtesies made his visit so pleasant that he could say 
truly, ' ' My days are passing serenely in Florence. " 

But such days always come to an end, and he took 
his way to Genoa, from which on the 28th of March 
he writes to his daughter : 

"It is now eleven o'clock and we go on board at 
four. So these are my last words before reaching my 
own beloved land. We leave Genoa at ten to-morrow, 
and go first to Naples, touch at Gibraltar, and through 
the Azores direct to New York, where our arrival is 
promised for the 9th of April. 
"Ever lovingly 

"Your father, 

"David Dudley Field." 

With this last message of affection to the one he 
loved most on earth, he embarked the next morning 
from the birthplace of Columbus, for the new world 
that Columbus discovered, and on a ship that bore the 
name of Columbia ! 

Looking, as we were somewhat anxiously, for his 
safe return, we counted the days from the time that 
the good ship passed the Straits of Gibraltar. Al- 
though it was April, the voyage was so tempestuous 
that most of the passengers kept snugly in their berths. 
But no storm could drive him below. He was so supe- 
rior to the weakness of others that he hardly showed 
the proper degree of sympathy. I always told him 
that such indifference was from the absence of the 


sensibilities which belong to our poor human nature, 
which only provoked his amusement, for nothing in 
nature thrilled him in every nerve like a storm at sea. * 
The rough weather did not abate till they were in sight 
of our coast, and indeed the Columbia entered our 
harbor in what Americans would call a blizzard ! As 
soon as she was reported to be coming up the bay, I set 
off for the pier of the Hamburg American Line, in 
Hoboken. The ship was at the dock, and Mr. Field 
had just driven away. Following to Gramercy Park, 
I found him not at all the worse for his voyage. As 
soon as he heard my voice he called to me, and as I 
entered the room, he was standing with his back to a 
blazing fire, and threw his arms around me, saying, ' ' I 
was never better in my life ! " That brotherly embrace 
I shall never forget : 

" A.h, little thought we 'twas ovir last I" 

Even now, as I think of him those arms are round 
me still. 

Going up to his library, we spent an hour in ex- 

* The Eev. Dr. Van Dyke, of New York, who was his fellow 
passenger, wrote afterwards that "on the voyage he was so 
happy, so energetic, and such an inspiring companion, that in 
spite of his great age he seemed young. Those days on the sea 
were pleasant to him ; and he increased the pleasure of others. 
I shall always be glad to think that I was his fellow-traveller 
and privileged to listen to his wise and cheerful conversation." 


changing the experiences of the winter. He had much 
to tell of England, France and Italy, while I could 
only supplj" the domestic incidents of which he wished 
to hear. But no matter what was the subject, he 
entered into it and gave his opinion with all his old- 
time freedom. Recalling it since, I have asked myself 
if there was any trace of feebleness or mental decrepi- 
tude, and I cannot recall the slightest. Although he 
was in his ninetieth year, there was no confusion of 
thought or language. He was within a few hours of 
the end of life, and yet his mind was as clear, and his 
conversation as fresh and vigorous, as if he were but 
seventy or fifty. Whatever weakness might touch his 
stalwart frame, his intellect never grew old ! 

I came again in the afternoon, but a reporter was 
with him, and our conversation was deferred till the 
next daj". We never looked into each other's eyes 
again. That very night, about three o'clock, he awoke 
with a chill and rang for his valet, who was so well 
trained and experienced that he was competent to act 
as nurse and almost as doctor, who did everything to 
relieve him. But as soon as his physician could be 
called, he found that the chill was the forerunner of 
pneumonia. Watson said that there had been some 
delay at the pier after the ship reached it, and that Mr. 
Field went suddenly from the warm cabin into the cold 
air on the dock. His old heart trouble, from which the 
doctor said he had probably not been entirely free any 


time during the last twenty or twenty-five years, reap- 
peared, and he sank from hour to hour. I saw him 
that afternoon, and calhng his name, there was a faint 
sign of recognition, but he did not speak. After a con- 
sultation, the physicians thought he still might rally, 
and that I could safely go home. But at three o'clock 
in the morning the nurse called the doctor, who saw at 
a glance that, as one expressed it, "the great lawyer 
was going before the greatest Judge," and in half an 
hour, without a tremor, a motion or a sigh, the heart 
stood still. 

Coming so suddenly, the shock to us was terrible. 
But when we recovered our self-possession, we could 
not but reflect on what might have been : that he 
might have died on the other side of the ocean, in a 
foreign country, surrounded by strangers ; or on the 
voyage, in which case we should have had sorrow 
upon sorrow. But he had reached his country, and 
died under his own roof, among his kindred. Nor 
could the summons have come more gently. The foot- 
steps of death had been as soft as the footsteps of 
angels. As long as he was conscious of anything, it 
was of home, and of the love and the tenderness here 
and beyond the sea. 

And, after all, the work to which he had devoted 
his life was done. He had but one remaining ambition 
(to be sure it was a pretty large one), that his codes 
should be adopted all over the world 1 He said : 


*'Tliey are written and published. It is only a ques- 
tion of time when they will be accepted." He was 
going up into the Berkshire Hills (for which he waited 
only till the apple blossoms should appear), where he 
would spend the summer, not only in the scenes most 
dear to him, but in an occupation to which he had 
looked forward with eager interest. It was to put on 
record the story of his long and somewhat stormy life, 
that would be a history of the great battle for Law 
Reform, in which he had been foremost for more than 
half a century. Thus he was twice happy in the past 
and the future ; in his memories and his anticipations ; 
when he closed his eyes for the last time and sank to 
his rest. 

As only the day before the city papers had announced 
his arrival from Europe in robust health, few knew 
even of his illness, so that the announcement of his 
death was a surprise. One of the first to whom word 
was sent was Mr. Choate, who had been for years his 
neighbor in Stockbridge. He came immediately, and, 
as he looked upon the marble brow of one who was but 
a few hours before so fuU of life, he said that he had 
never seen anything so majestic in death ; that 

"He lay like a warrior taking his rest, 
With his martial cloak around him." 

As soon as the bulletins announced the sad event, 
there was a general feeling among the people to whom 


his form and figure had been famihar for half a cen- 
tury, that a great personality had disappeared, whose 
like they should not see again. Every public tribute was 
paid to his memory. The flag upon the City Hall was 
hung at half-mast. The courts adjourned, with appro- 
priate words from the bench. The Legislature was 
then in session and, to quote the report from Albany, 
"the news of the death of this great man wakened a 
feehng of profound regret," The speaker, who an- 
nounced it in the Senate, said : ' ' He died crowned with 
honor. Hislife was a lesson and an inspiration." Both 
houses adjourned in respect to his memory, and ap- 
pointed committees to attend his funeral. 

The last service was on Sunday afternoon in Cal- 
vary church, where he had attended for forty years, 
which was crowded by representatives of the old fami- 
lies of New York, and a large deputation from Wil- 
liams College, with the President at their head. The 
pall-bearers were : Chief Justice Fuller, of the Supreme 
Court of the United States ; Charles Butler, who was 
over ninety years of age ; William M, Evarts, Joseph 
H. Choate, John Bigelow and Abram S. Hewitt ; 
Judges Charles Andrews and A. R. Lawrence and ex- 
Judge Charles A. Peabody ; Chancellor MacCracken, 
Robert E. Deyo, H. H. Anderson and Robert M. 

The services were, as he would have wished, very 
simple, with no eulogy. It was enough to hear in the 


arches above the echo of the voice that has sounded 
through all the centuries, ' ' I am the Resurrection and 
the Life, saith the Lord : he that believeth in Me, 
though he were dead, yet shall he live ! " 

The next morning we bore him away to the Hills, to 
which his eyes had been turned, and laid him down 
under a weeping willow, whose long tresses drooped 
over his place of rest, beside the graves of those he 

When we came back from that visit to the house 
prepared for all the living, a great element had gone 
out of our lives, and the world seemed emptier than 
before. But if public applause could make up for the 
loneliness of grief, we had it in an abundance that was 
quite overwhelming. The tributes from the press were 
such as I have never seen at the death of an}- one 
except our martyred Presidents, or the heroes of the 
war. This took me by surprise, for with all my love 
for him, I could not but remember that he had been a 
man of war from his youth, and I looked for some 
sharp criticisms, but every voice was hushed, and all 
recognized the immense service which he had rendered 
to his country. One editor indeed, who is second to 
none of his brethren in America, placed him high 
among the lawgivers of history, and as such among 
the benefactors of mankind. 

When a man who has been so long in the public eye 
passes away, the first question that -sviU arise in some 


minds is as to the benefactions that he left behind him. 
These were things which Mr. Field never spoke of. 
His codes were his best legacies. But, as to the minor 
point, although it is something which does not concern 
the public, I may dismiss it in a few words which will 
be quite sufficient. As some thought of Mr. Field as 
of a cold temperament, absorbed in his own affairs, now 
that he is gone, we may lift the veil of privacy, and 
show him as he was. 

Certainly he was not of the number of those who 
throw away money right and left, where it might do 
as much harm as good. His gifts were prompted by 
personal attachments. He had the feeling of a child 
towards the place where he was born. Our parents, to 
whom we owed everything, were married in 1803, so 
that 1878 measured off three-quarters of a century, 
and on the very wedding day, the last day of October, 
the four brothers who were living, went up to the old 
home in Haddam, Conn., to dedicate two small parks 
which they gave for the recreation of the inhabitants, 
one on the site of the old meeting-house, where our 
father preached for years, and the other on "Isinglass 
Hill," a bold, rocky eminence rising behind the village, 
where the older brothers used to play. There was a 
large gathering of the people, who seemed much pleased 
with this remembrance of the old town. Some years 
after, when our eldest brother died, it was found that 
in his will he had given $5,000 to Haddam, that the 


parks might be laid out with taste by the planting of 
trees, with open lawns between, that they should be an 
inheritance to the people forever. The same home 
feeling had led him to give $10,000 for the tower in 
Stockbridge, to which he added in his will $5,000 for 
the ringing of the chimes at sunset. Of public objects 
the first in his eye was AVilliams College, to which he 
gave first and last $40,000. 

But there was one act of beneficence, done in secret, 
that was still more characteristic. When Chief Justice 
Taney died he left two daughters who w^ere literally 
penniless, and had to support themselves b}^ writing in 
the departments. When this came to be known, there 
was a general feeling that it was not quite to the honor 
of the profession that the daughters of the Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States 
should be left to want. At a meeting in Washington 
the case was stated delicately, and it was assumed that 
the bar would deem it not onl}^ its duty but its pleasure 
to look after the family. But the sympathy did not go 
beyond the stage of oratory. Chagrined at this failure 
to pay what he regarded as a debt of honor, Mr. Field 
gave to the clerk of the Supreme Court his bond to 
remit to one of the daughters $500 a year during her 
life, which he paid from 1873 till her death in 1891, 
thus contributing $9,000 to save the credit of the bar. 
This he did when he had never seen the daughters, nor 
the Chief Justice himself, except on the bench, and 


though his decision in the Dred Scott case was very 
repulsive to him. The incident is enough to show that, 
if he was careful as to whom he gave, when his heart 
was touched he was a very generous man. 

But the gift of money is the least of all gifts, for if 
given unwisely, it will only make the poor poorer, and 
more dependent than before. It is not charity that 
men want, but justice. If it be a good deed to step 
forward to defend a poor man in the courts, it is better 
still to give him a law by which he can protect himself. 
Teach him his rights, and he can stand on his feet, 
calling no man master. When he is on the same level 
as the rich man he is lifted up with a feeling of self- 
respect. He is as good as anybody. There is one law 
for all men. No man is so high as to be above its 
power : and none so low as not to be under its pro- 

But how far have the reforms of the law introduced 
by Mr. Field extended ? Are they not limited to a few 
States, so that in point of fact but a small portion of 
the American people share in these benefits, real or 
imagined? This is not a question for argument, but 
for statistics, for which I do not trust to any knowledge 
of my own, but to the authority of one who is as well 
informed as any man in the country. To my inquiry 
how far the new codes have been adopted in the United 
States he replies as follows : 


"New York, January 12, 1898. 
"Dear Dr. Field : 

"Your brother's codes, with such modifications as 
were deemed necessaiy to accommodate them to each 
locaHty, were adopted in whole or in part in Twenty- 
seven States and Territories. 

"But, in addition to this, the principles of your 
brother's Code of Civil Procedure, and especially its 
fundamental doctrine of fusion of law and equity, 
have made their way in so many other States, that I 
do not know of any, outside of New England, Dela- 
ware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania and Tennessee, which have not been 
seriously affected by the influence of his codes. As 
to these, Louisiana is still governed practically by the 
French law ; Pennsylvania had united law and equity 
long before the codes were framed ; and there was 
really not so much occasion for reforms in that direc- 
tion in New England as in other parts of the covmtry. 
Even in the excepted States, the old common law 
practice hardly exists, outside of New Jersey, Delaware 
and Pennsylvania. In fact, the principal difference 
between States which have adopted the codes and those 
which have not is that in the latter the process of 
reform has been carried out by cutting away useless 
forms instead of by positive constructive work. 

"Thomas G. Shearman." 

This was an extraordinary statement, but it only 


whetted my appetite for something still more exact. 
States and territories are indefinite quantities, ranging 
from forty thousand inhabitants in Nevada to six mil- 
lions in the State of New York. The total result would 
be more satisfactory if the separate statements could be 
transmuted into the aggregate population, for which I 
applied to the same high authority, and received the 
following answer : 

"New York, January 18, 1898. 
My Dear Dr. Field : 

"In reply to your inquiry I have made a hasty 
calculation, from which I judge that, assuming our 
population in 1890 to have been 03,000,000, 38,000,000 
of those resided in States where your brother's codes of 
practice have been in substance adopted. But the fun- 
damental principle of those codes — that is, the fusion of 
law and equity, and the administration of Justice in a 
single court, instead of being divided between a court 
of law and a court of chancery — have been adopted in 
States containing much more than nine-tenths of all 
the population. Of course, some of these, such as 
Pennsylvania, had adopted this principle long before 
the date of your brother's codes ; but for the most 
part, this change is a result of the codes. 

"Thomas G. Shearman." 

This is simply astounding. It is a revolution. The 
computation of thirty-eight milhons is made on the 
basis of the census of 1890. But Mr. Field lived till 


1894, and the natural increase of these four years 
would be at least two millions, making a total of forty 
millions ! 

But can such sweeping changes be permanent ? 
Those who were opposed to the codes from the begin- 
ning, have explained their success as a craze for reform, 
which had swept over the country as a tidal wave, but 
which would be followed by a reaction, and pass away 
as swiftly as it came. This is indeed possible, but is it 
probable ? We can only judge of the future by the 
past. So far we have yet to learn of a single State or 
Territory that, having adopted these codes, has gone 
back to the "beggarly elements" of the old, tedious 
and roundabout way of obtaining justice. "Revolu- 
tions do not go backward," at least peaceful revolutions 
that are in the line of human progress. If the new 
laws are better than the old why should the}' not stand 
till they are superseded by codes that are better still ? 
But this is a free country, and we are not responsible 
for what may be done by a future generation. We 
read in the Bible that once the sun went backward, but 
we hardly expect to see the miracle repeated m our day. 

Accustomed as we are to see our legislatures meet- 
ing from year to year, and enacting new provisions of 
law, we are apt to think of laws as transitory things, 
which change with the ever-shifting popular a\411. But 
they are the oldest creations of man — as old as civiliza- 
tion, or as history itself. To trace the genealogy of 


our laws, we should not stop at King Alfred, nor the 
Code of Justmian, but go back to the laws of Moses, 
which, though given three thousand years ago, have 
been flowing on through all these centuries, like the 
waters of the Nile. When our Pilgrim fathers crossed 
the sea they formed in the cabin of the Mayflower a 
constitution for their little State, which they tried to 
frame after the pattern given in the Mount. Traces 
of that code still remain. The setting apart of one 
day in seven as a day of rest, dates from Mount Sinai, 
while the sacredness of marriage received its sacrament 
of baptism in the Garden of Eden. 

As laws are the oldest of human institutions so are 
they the most enduring. A good laAV does not weaken 
by time, but grows stronger and stronger. Men do not 
get tired of justice, but cling to it, and hand it down 
as a sacred heritage to their children. The legislator 
who has framed but one such law has planted in the 
earth an acorn that may grow to be an oak, with trunk 
so strong, and arms so wide, that many generations 
shall sit under its shade. It may even grow to the 
stature of the cedars of Lebanon, whose mighty trunks 
have stood the storms of three thousand years ! The 
sturdy growths of law become knarled and knotted by 
time, till they become a part of the very constitution of 
human society, to endure as long as society itself. 

And well is it that it is so, for law is the only thing 
that holds the world together ; and holds it not for 


evil, but for good : not to make men slaves, but to 
make them free. 

A thought that was never out of Mr. Field's mind 
was the moral effect of laws that commend themselves 
to the plain and sober sense of common people. He 
believed that nothing was so demoralizing as injustice, 
as it destroys the sense of right and wrong. On the 
other hand a simple maxim of law, that was an echo 
of common sense and common justice, was an educa- 
tion in righteousness, and the constant pressure of a 
code so framed was a powerful influence upon national 
character — an influence that was not only perpetuated 
but increased from generation to generation. 

' ' Let me make the songs of a people, and I care not 
who makes its laws," is a very pretty saying that lacks 
nothing but truth. A song of home or country may 
indeed send a thrill to the heart of an exile from the 
land of his birth. But laws are not meant to thrill us 
with transient sensations, but to rule our lives, grasp- 
ing us like the forces of nature, surrounding us like the 
atmosphere, and holding us fast like gravitation. 

Does this put us in the remorseless gripe of nature ; 
under the crushing weight of laws to which there is no 
relief of sunshine or of song? I answer that in the 
last analysis law is harmony. "Law has her seat in 
the bosom of God, and her voice is the harmony of the 
w^orld." Gentle manners are the offspring of an au- 
thority that is firm but kindly. When there is one 


law for all men, high aud low, rich and poor, then will 
come the day of the great reconciliation. But it is in 
the order of things that law should go before, and 
songs and rejoicings should follow after. 

If it be a question of the fame that shall live, as 
between the lawgiver and the conqueror, we have the 
final judgment of one who was both. When Napoleon 
was in exile at St. Helena, he found that Europe was 
not perpetuating his name by celebrating his victories, 
and that they would give him but a poor hold on the 
gratitude of the world that he was leaving behind. 
But there was another and better title to the remem- 
brance of future generations : "I shall go down to 
posterity with the Code in my right hand ! " Was 
there ever a nobler claim for immortality? Napoleon 
is dead, but the Code Napoleon still lives and ma^^ live 
as long as the nation for which it was made exists. 
But is he the only one that has followed this path to 
glory? On the morning when the flag was drooping 
at half-mast over the City Hall, a judge sitting on the 
bench adjourned his court, saying that the words of 
Napoleon might have been spoken with far more truth 
of an American jurist who had just breathed his last.* 
May not the tribute of honor which we gladly pay to 
the sovereign who served his country by his laws more 

*If the benefit of laws be measured by the myriads they rule, 
the population of the States and Territories which adopted the 
codes, was greater than the whole population of France. 


JAM oo.- 


than by his wars, be claimed also for one who devoted 
his life to the laws of another country in another 
hemisphere ? 

Here, at the end of my story, I recur to my text on 
the title page : "It was the boast of Augustus that he 
found Rome of brick and left it of marble. But how 
much nobler shall be the sovereign's boast, when he 
shall have it to say that he found law dear and left it 
cheap ; found it a sealed book, left it a living letter ; 
found it the patrimony of the rich, left it the inherit- 
ance of the poor ; found it the two-edged sword of 
craft and oppression, left it the staff of honestj" and 
the shield of innocence." 

Our American reformer was no sovereign and had 
no power to establish law by a decree, but standing 
alone — with but one purpose before him, that inscribed 
upon his tomb : 

" To bring justice tuithin the reach of all men " — 

he pursued it for half a century, against an opposition 
that would have crushed most men, till before he closed 
his eyes in death he had given law to forty millions 
of his countrymen. Surely he who has left such a 
record to those who come after him, will have a name 
in history, as one who did as much as any man of his 
generation, to bring in the better time — which prophets 
have foretold — of the universal reign of righteousness 
and peace. 









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