|Strangers to Us All||Lawyers and Poetry|
A Great Advocate: James T. Brady
During the war of 1812 two Irish emigrants landed in New York after an eventful voyage, during which they had had a narrow escape from a British privateer. They were Thomas S. Brady and his young bride. On a public occasion, long after, James T. Brady, the son of this couple and the most distinguished advocate at the New York bar, took pride in speaking of himself as "the son of an Irish father, who migrated in hot haste, and was chased into the port of New York, his highest ambition being that his son might be born in America."
It was a good stock. The clan Mac Braidaich occupied, of old, an extensive territory near the centre of Ireland. The name became O'Bradaich, O'Brady, Brady. Then came Saxon rule, and the Bradys, from a powerful clan, passed into dependent tenants. The family had contributed a greater number of priests and bishops to the Irish Church than any other. The crest of the housea mailed hand grasping a scimitar and cutting a feathersuggests the story of Saladin, and seems symbolic of a clear and incisive intellect.
Thomas S. Brady had culture, wit, eloquence, generosity and character. His father, a true scion of this strong and vigorous race, had given him a thorough classical education; and so in 1815 we find him teaching school at No. 21 Warren Street, New York, and gaining daily in reputation as an accomplished teacher. Many of his pupils are prominent men in New York today. The mother says Judge Daly, was "a woman handsome in person, as I remember her, having a fine natural intellectone of those mothers whose quiet virtues shed their blessed influence over families, and are felt so long in their durable effect upon children."
To this couple was born, on the 9th of April, 1815, a man-childduly christened James Topham, and destined to make his name a household word in the homes of his native city, and a name of honor in his native land.
James was early set to study in his father's school. His old schoolfellow, Judge Daly, pictures him at seven years of age as "a little boy with a large head and a very small frame; his great head bending over his desk, and his little feet playing beneath; his mind intently fixed on his lesson, which he was rather slow to acquire. A great, warm-hearted little boy, exceedingly unselfish, most affectionate in his attachment to his young school companions, and exceedingly beloved by them."
Another schoolmate recalls incidents which show that his independence and indomitable courage were inborn. "He was of a brave, determined disposition, but always kind to every one." "He was a delicate boy, with a very large head; not a handsome boy (Tom was very handsome); was called little Jim Brady' all the early part of his life." As he grew in stature and in fame, the epithet, no longer fitting, was dropped; but to those who knew him best, he was "Jim Brady," or "James T," as it might happen, to the last. He was so noticeable, says still another schoolfellow, "for his loving kindliness as a boy, that it almost obliterates every other recollection."
Young Brady went from the school-room to his father's office (his father had meantime entered the profession of law) then in Nassau Street, afterward removed to Beekman Street, in the "Inns of Court," where he was office boy and student. A quick-witted, bright boy, sometimes letting the temptation of a repartee prove too strong for that consideration for others, which, later in life, was so marked a characteristic of him; as when, on entering an old gentleman's office, the little office boy neglected to take off his cap, and the old gentleman reproving him, said: "My son, when I go into a gentleman's office I take off my hat." "So do I!" flashed back Master Impudence. He was, however, generally diffident, modest, and industrious, gathering in knowledge in every direction; and when he felt free to express his opinionsas he did to his father, whose pride and joy he wasof remarkable originality and independence of thought. His brother remembers a discussion with his father in which James advanced and maintained resolutely the opinion that classical studies were no help, but rather a hindrance to originality. No doubt a grave heresy, in the eyes of the carefully trained classical scholar. The riper judgment of the son, however, changed his position, and later in life, his opinions of the value and importance of a thorough classical training would have left no room for a renewal of that discussion.
The business of the office, in its details and management, was soon entirely in his charge; and, in those days before the Code, when everything was managed by special pleading, the drawing of pleadings, briefs, and other papers necessarily involved great study and precision.
When he was about nineteen a gentleman remarked to his father, "Your son is of fine promise." "Yes, sir, he is a boy of great promise, a boy of splendid intellect and noble character. Young as he is, I regard him as a walking encyclopædia, his mind seems to gild every subject it touches." The career of the son has certainly justified the estimate of the father.
At this time, and during all his early years at the bar, he was a hard student. Lodging in the office, he frequently passed the whole night in a study, adding another to the examples of those who have supplemented the lavish gifts of nature by the most intense application and industry, the consciousness of high powers only stimulating to increased exertion. His earnest and protracted studies at this period are spoken of by all who then knew him. The naturalness of his manner, the spontaneous working of his mind, his fertility and readiness, led the younger members of the bar to imagine that he owed little to industry or training; but, highly gifted as he was, he would doubtless have attributed his success to these early studious years.
Brady was admitted to the bar in 1835. He was twenty years of age. His first case, other than in the Ward Courts, was an insurance case, in which Mr. Charles O'Conor was the opposing counsel. It became so apparent that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of Mr. Brady's client to recover many times the value of the destroyed goods, that Mr. O'Conor fairly ridiculed the case out of court. But, if he lost his case, Brady made his mark. Judge Daly, who was present, declares that he displayed all his wonderful powers of eloquence. The same exhibition of the powers of eloquence, it is said, characterized the first appearance in public of Choate and of Pinckey. Indeed, I believe this to be the case with all great natural speakers. The art of oratory may be acquired; but the magnetic power called eloquence is inherent.
Mr. Brady himself, speaking of the same occasion, said that he trembled all over, and everything grew dark before his eyes, so that he could not see the jury; but, steadying himself by placing his hands on the table before him, and keeping his face turned toward the jury, he spoke on till he recovered his composure.
A few months after, he was engaged in a case in which great interest was felt. The quiet of the town on the Sabbath had been suddenly disturbed by an incursion of newsboys shouting out the newspaper, the "Sunday Morning News," and the church-going portion of the community were greatly shocked and scandalized. One Sunday morning an unusually audacious boy bawled out the name of his paper in the ears of Mr. Gerard, at the very door of the church. Seizing the boy, Mr. Gerard gave him to an officer, whom he promised to protect in the arrest. The officer thereupon took him to the Tombs. The magistrate discharged the boy; but the right of the newsboys to sell the paper was warmly defended in a suit brought against the officer for making the arrest. Mr. Gerard defended the officer, Mr. Brady appeared for the boy. The court was crowded. Brady's speech was broad, liberal, and powerful. The jury were charmed with it and the audience delighted; many strangers congratulated him. The verdict was against him; but, as he said, only a jury of philosophers could have given him a verdict in such a state of public feeling. The Jews had taken great interest in the case, and were present in large numbers. Many of them thereafter became his clients. From that day he never wanted for business. With him there was no dreary waitinghe stepped into the arena, and at once was welcomed to the contest. Of his appearance there, and who were among his compeers, Mr. McKeon says: "We may refer to the period of his introduction to the bar of this city as a epoch in its history. In looking back at the past, we see rising before us George Wood, treading with no uncertain step through the labyrinths of the law of real property; Daniel Lord following, with his legal eye, commerce over the long and dreary waste of waters; David Graham, the younger, and Ogden Hoffman, standing in full panoply of intellectual power before our criminal tribunals. Into the lists where stood these proud knights young Brady sprang, ready to contend with the mightiest of them. How well he contended many of you well remember, and the honors paid to his memory are justified by the triumphs he has won."
At this time, the Supreme Court met four times a yearat New York, Albany, Utica, and Rochester. The leading lawyers of the State attended its sessions, and here the younger men learned, as the young Athenians in the Garden and the Academy, from the lips of living teachers. Only the men of acknowledged power attended the sessions of this court, and it spoke volumes for young Brady's ability that he was among them.
Early in his professional career he found himself at the head of a family, and was forced to practise the strictest economy and prudence. His accounts kept at that time show that he struggled bravely and successfully; but they indicate also much self-denial. The man whose nature was lavish as the sun became, when duty demanded, as careful and painstaking as if "getting and saving" were his leading characteristics. At this time, he was grave and reserved, his devotion to his studies and business was redoubled, and his own personal expenses were diminished to the least possible sum. He had a high motivethe support and training of his motherless sisters. To a friend asking why he, of all men so fitted for domestic happiness, had never married, his answer was: "When my father died, he left five daughters, who looked to me for support. All the affection which I could have had for a wife went out to those sisters; and I have never desired to recall it." His own devotion was rewarded by the devotion of a family. His brother and sisters, much younger than himself, looked up to him as a father and always treated him with the respect due to that relation. The "Thirty-nine Articles" he drew up for the government of the household over twenty years ago are still extant, and are full of quiet humor.
The brave, self-reliant youth undertook and carried through the task without help from any outside source. With this pressure on him, he worked indefatigably. His synopses and notes of cases, and his notes for his pleas were made with great precision, thoroughness, and clearness. He always had a theory of a case, and knew his objective points; and with close, unerring logic he made his way to the mark. The idea that he relied on his eloquence and the inspiration of the moment to win his case is erroneous. He knew his case thoroughly; and the flowers of rhetoric with which he adorned his arguments or fascinated his hearers were but the wreath beneath which he hid the shining steel and tough shaft of the lance of logic, which he drove straight home, through shield and breast-plate.
His remarks at the meeting of the bar on the occasion of the death of John Van Buren are of interest in this connection, as explaining his own character and ability as lawyer and man:
What change is needed to adapt this to fit its author?
The bashful boy had rapidly risen in his profession. He was retained by Goodyear in the great india rubber case of Goodyear vs. Day, which was argued at Trenton in the United States Circuit Court, before Justices Grier and Dickerson. Daniel Webster was his senior counsel. Mr. Choate was opposed. Brady had worked for months, and opened the case in a two days' speech. Mr. Webster said on rising that if the case was won, the triumph would be due to its able and thorough preparation by his junior. "I thank you, Mr. Brady," he said, "for the manner in which you have opened this case; you have cut a broad highway through it." It was a great combination. The greatest constitutional lawyer and the two best advocates of the nation. In connection with the india rubber cases is a fact which testifies to his character. A salary of $25,000 a year for life was offered to be settled on him by the rubber company if he would advise a certain course; but not deeming it right he rejected the offer. When, in France, in 1851, the rubber cases coming in controversy there, Mr. Brady substantially gave in French, to Etienne Blanc, the French advocate, the materials for his brief.
For the last twenty-five years, up to the time of his death, he had been retained upon most of the celebrated cases, criminal and civil. He was sought especially in cases of contested wills, his development of the theory of "moral insanity" in the great case of the forger Huntington having shown him a master in the power of subtle discrimination. In preparing this case his labors were indefatigable. He mastered the subject of insanity in all its phases, and became as familiar with medical authorities as he was with those of the law. His fertile, original mind made incursions into this new field, discovered there unsuspected treasures, and brought back rich spoils.
He was indeed a master of medical jurisprudence, and has imposed his theories upon the law of the land. In the Parish Will case, the Allaire case, the argument before the Court of Appeals in Mr. Forrest's divorce case, the Gardiner Will case, the Street Commissioner cases, and the case of Governor Price of New Jersey, where he won the heaviest verdict that had then been given in a civil suit, $300,000, he gave additional proof of his general powers as a lawyer, so fully proved before in the great india rubber cases. For those who, knowing his superior powers as a popular speaker and as a criminal advocate, hence concluded that he was not a great lawyer, stands the fact that in all these cases he was opposed by the ablest veterans of the bar, "the lawyers" par excellence, and won his triumphs contending with no unworthy foes. A line from a letter of Erskinewhose reputation for knowledge of the law was in like manner dimmed by the splendor of his eloquenceapplies here: "Remember that no man can be a great advocate who is no lawyer; the thing is impossible."
The knowledge of civil cases is generally limited to those personally interested; but whole communities are moved by great criminal trials, so fame as a great criminal lawyer is far more widely disseminated. The shooting of Philip Barton Key, United States District Attorney at Washington, by Daniel E. Sickles, Member of Congress from New York City, from their public and social position and the romantic story with its tragic end, fixed the eyes of all in America and of thousands in Europe upon the dingy courtroom at Washington, where for days the life of the since distinguished major-general hung on the decision of twelve men. John Graham and James T. Brady, of New York, were there, without fee or reward, to serve their boyhood friend. Associated with them was the great lawyer, Edwin M. Stanton, since Secretary of War; Joseph Bradley, of Baltimore; and Peter Cagger, of Albany. It was no small mark of confidence that these distinguished men requested the youngest of their number to conduct the examination and cross-examination of all the witnesses. Upon the management of the case hung the only chance of safety. Adverse public opinion pressed terribly against the accused. The tact and skill with which vital points of evidence were elicited or suppressed, won the admiration of all lawyers. After twenty days of struggle, Mr. Sickles walked forth a free man, and the fame of James T. Brady as a great jury lawyer became national. At this time, Mr. Brady conceived the highest esteem for the great abilities of Mr. Stanton, and the warmest love for the man. This opinion he clung to through all the stormy times when, as Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton became the mark for detraction and hate; when some patriotic men, wounded by the brusque manner of the head of the War Department, gave expression to feelings of bitter dislike. It was not the least of the proofs given by James T. Brady of the possession of rare independence and courage that he dared to stand up in Tammany Hall and declare "that he knew they hated Edwin M. Stanton, but he, a Democrat, knew him, and held him in his heart of hearts!" Few men at that time could have spoken those words in that hall. But James T. Brady was never known to shrink from foe or friend.
The trial of Baker for the murder of Poole furnished a notable instance of Mr. Brady's intrepidity in behalf of a client. It was at the height of the "Know-Nothing" excitement, and Poole, after receiving the fatal bullet, having exclaimed, "I die an American," succeeded in causing himself to be regarded as a martyr to the cause. Lingering for days withas the post-mortem proveda bullet deeply imbedded in his heart, the interest and excitement became intense; and, on the day of his funeral, twenty thousand men walked in solemn procession behind the coffin of the martyred "rough." In such a state of public feeling Baker was put on trial for his life. At the opening of the charge by the judge, aroused by its tenor, Mr. Brady seized a pen and commenced writing rapidly, indignation showing itself in his set lips and frowning brow. The moment the judge had ceased he was on his feet and began: "You have charged the jury thus and thus. I protest against your so stating it." The judge said he would listen to the objections after the jury had retired. "No," exclaimed the indignant orator, "I choose that the jury shall hear those objections;" and, defying interference, he poured forth impetuously forty-five separate and formal objections, couching them all emphatically in words of personal protest to the judge. The force of the judge's charge on that jury was pretty effectually broken. The indignation of the advocate at this time was real, not simulated; and he, at least, of the New York bar, dared to defy and to denounce injustice, even when clad in ermine. Of such were those brave, elder members of the legal profession, who, in former days and other lands, kept alive the fires of civil liberty.
After two trials here he obtained a change of venue, and the trial was transferred to Newburg. This gave rise to another incident, which Brady was fond of telling, especially when he wished to disarm prejudice against the looks of any witness or client. The trial was to be held before Judge Chas. A. Peabody, in the Supreme Court. The judge, lawyers, high sheriff, deputies, and prisoner all went up in the cars to Fishkill. The streets were crowded by thousands, eager to see the prisoner. As they passed to the boat to cross over to Newburg, the judge happened to take the arm of High Sheriff Willets. Some one recognizing the sheriff, pointed out his companion as the accused murderer, with recognizing the sheriff, pointed out his companion as the accused murderer, with "Don't you see his d___d bloodthirsty face!" fancying, as Brady would say, they saw all the lineaments of a brutal murderer in the calm, bland features of his Honor.
Another instance of his intrepidity before a judge was in the Busteed case. The judge had threatened to convict him for contempt. Busteed had apologized; and Brady also, with his matchless grace and courtesy, had tendered Busteed's apology; but the judge still said that he should send him to prison. "You will, will you?" said Brady. "I say you will not!" And, citing authority after authority against his power to do so, he dared him to thus stretch his prerogative. The judge thought best to excuse Mr. Busteed.
The fertility of his mind and its rapidity of action, as shown in drawing the objections in the Baker trial, were once illustrated on an occasion when, on a case being called, Mr. Brady answered that his side was ready. The opposite counsel also stated that he was ready, and appeared for the plaintiff. "No," said Brady, "I am for the plaintiff;" adding, "I think I must know which side I am on." However, he was, at last, convinced that he was mistaken. So gathering up his papers, he requested his Honor to excuse him for twenty minutes, as he saw he was for the defendants instead of, as he had erroneously supposed, for the plaintiffs, adding, "and, from my knowledge of the merits of the case, I am heartily glad that I am to defend instead of prosecute!" He left the room returned in twenty minutes, tried, and won the cause!
The Hon. Luther R. Marsh gives an instance of Mr. Brady's fertility in an important case to which he himself had given thorough and, as he felt, exhaustive preparation. He asked Mr. Brady to assist him on the trial, Brady having had no previous knowledge of the case. "Go on and open your case fully, use all your points without regard to me," said Brady. Mr. Marsh did so, and sat down, wondering what new matter Mr. Brady could find to stay. To his astonishment Brady rose and presented seven new and striking points.
Of his quickness in the law of a case an instance is given where a recent decision adverse to his position was introduced. Taking the book in his hand he said it does not appear whether this case has been heard in the Court of Appeals, but when it is it will be reversed for such and such reasons; which eventually proved to be the exact reasons given by the court reversing the decision. Conceding all his wonderful brilliancy and originality, Judge Daly states, however, that his greatness as a lawyer lay in his sound judgment in the general management of a case. It is stated that in no case involving constitutional questions have his arguments been reversed in the highest appellate court.
Of his manner, Mr. Porter says, "who can ever forget the peculiar manner of his we have all felt and none can describe. It was evanescent as the fragrance of the rose." From the time he entered the courtroom his by-play with the jury commenced. He made himself thoroughly at home with them. It is said that he never lost a case in which he was before a jury for more than a week; by that time they saw everything with his eyes. He was counsel in fifty-two capital cases, in not one of which was he every unsuccessful, except in that of Beall, who was tried by a court-martial at Fort Lafayette, on charge of being a "spy and guerilla.
It is related that once having successfully defended a man charged with murder, as he was leaving the court the judge said, "Mr. Brady, the next case is that of a man charged with murder; he has no counsel, can you defend him?" "Certainly," said Brady, and instantly went on with the trial. The judge assigned him in the same way to two others charged with a similar crime; so, that in succession, he defended and cleared four capital cases, giving a week's unrequited time to these four criminals. He was obliged to decline to follow this up in the case of the next man, charged with burglary, who, having no counsel, desired him to be assigned to him.
Generous in all respects, he gave with princely liberality his professional services at the call of the distressed, or in the case of personal friends. Every poor Irish man or woman in the city felt that he had a champion in him, and would doubtless have said of James T. Brady, as did the poor Scotchman of Henry Erskine, when a neighbor was dissuading him from going to law with a rich man who had wronged him, on the ground that he had no means to employ counsel, "Yes dinna ken what you're saying, maister, there's no a puir mon in a' Scotland need to want a friend or fear an enemy, sae lang as Hairry Asken lives."
The case of a young man who was charged with murder in what was claimed an accidental fracas, attracted a good deal of interest. He was a Mason, and that society applied to Mr. Brady to defend him, tendering twenty-five hundred dollars as a fee; but, for some cause, he declined the case. Not long after, one afternoon, a neatly-dressed, modest young girl came to the office and asked for Mr. Brady. Told to walk into his private office, she timidly approached his desk and saying: "Mr. Brady, they are going to hang my brother, and you can save him! I've brought you this money, please don't let my brother die!"she burst into tears. It was a roll of $250 which the poor girl had begged in sums of five and ten dollars. The kind-hearted man heard her story. "They sha'nt hang your brother, my child," said he; and, putting the roll of bills in an envelope, told her to take it to her mother and he would ask for it when he wanted it. The boy was cleared. In Mr. Brady's parlor hangs an exquisite picture, by Durand, with a letter on the back asking him to accept it as a mark of appreciation for his generous kindness in defending this poor boy. Mr. Brady prized that picture.
I have alluded to his manner toward a jury; toward witnesses he was courteous and considerate, when possible. Once a witness, who had evidently told a prepared story, showed so much agitation when Mr. Brady began to cross-examine that he could not proceed; Mr. Brady was very kind, sent for a glass of water for him, took pity on his distress, and in ten minutes the witness requited his kindness by retracting the whole of his evidence, melted by the magic of his manner. Toward the judges on the bench he was respectful and perfectly frank; he would have scorned any temporary advantage gained by the slightest misrepresentation to them.
To his brother lawyers he was the very soul of courtesy. His last appearance in a courtroom, before Judge Blatchford, in the United States District Court, was signalled by an act of courtesy to Mr. Stoughton, Which was only noticeable in him, because it was his last. Every action of his professional or private life testified how royally he bore "The grand old name of gentleman." To his associates in a case, and more especially to the younger ones, he never failed to render any assistance possible, and to give every credit. He knew that encouragement, not censure, vitalizes and inspires. Rare tenderness for the feelings of others lay deep in the hidden nature of the man, and seemed ever eager for manifestation.
Like every lawyer in large criminal practice there were numerous laughable incidents in his experience. I give a few anecdotes illustrative, which can doubtless be largely supplemented by the bar. He had a keen sense and enjoyment of humor, and has often said he would take time to write out and collect in a book the humorous incidents and anecdotes coming to his knowledge during his long service at the bar. Would that he had left such a pleasant memento.
Once when, in the height of his appeal to the jury, a dog began barking vigorously, he whirled around, shaking his finger at the dog, and said gravely, with the quickness of thought, "I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips let no dog bark!"
An Irishman once came to his office: "And are yez Misther Brady?" "I am; come in, Patrick; what is it you wish?" "I ax yer pardon; I oughtn't to intrudé upon yez." "But what is it, Patrick?" "Well, yer honor, it isn't for the likes o' me to be comin' troublin' yer honor." "But tell me what you want, Pat." "Well, yer honor, I kem to see yer about a friend of mine as met wid an accident?" "An accident?" said Mr. Brady. "Then why don't you go to a doctor?" "Arrah, shure you're the docther for my friendhe had an accident which wants yer honor." "Well, what was it?" "Well, yer honor, he was arristed for a thrifle of a burglary, shure!" Quick as Mr. Brady was with the readiness of his race for repartee, he sometimes met his match among his own countrymen. He was once examining an unwilling witness who persistently called him Mr. O'Brady. At length, even his proverbial good-nature being a little ruffled, he said to the witness, "You need not call me Mr. O'Brady. I've mended my name since I came here and dropped the O." "Have ye now? Pon my sowl it's a pity ye didn't mend yer manners at the same time!"
Of his own power of repartee and flashing wit all who knew him will recall many an instance. He wasted, at a social dinner or a chance conversation, witticisms worthy of Sidney Smith or Tom Hood and fanices that would have endowed a poet. His friends enumerate speech after speech, and lament that no phonographer was present to report them. Notably at a presentation dinner to Leonard W. Jerome, in token of his patriotic liberality early in the war; and the Gerard dinner, where all the powers of his eloquence seemed to vie with each other, and wit, humor, pathos, fancy and eloquence moved the hearers to smiles or tears at the speaker's will. It was the last brilliant effulgence of the setting sun; yet all who listened thought his sun at noonday splendor.
On one occasion, urging the plea of self-defense on the part of a client charged with murder, he said: "A man's face and figure were given to him by God Almighty as a sacred charge, to which he should permit no man to do violence, and in discharge of that trust he should permit no sacrilege." A clergyman present was very much impressed by his presentation of the idea, and made it the subject of a sermon.
In 1848, he became Corporation Attorney, which position he held for two years. It was his custom, in order to expedite business, to attend at every session of the Common Council, so that as every case came up the Council could have the benefit of his judgment. In that way much valuable time was saved, as many things were condemned at once by the adverse opinion of the attorney. It is stated that during his official term only three suits were recovered against the city, and that in each of those three cases the council had taken action entirely contrary to his advice. To those who are at all cognizant of the sits against the city in these latter days, the above statement speaks volumes both for the Council and the counsellor. He also held for a short time the post of prosecuting attorney. Three boys were charged with stealing a boat. It was proved that they took the boat to go over to Long Island to get some apples, and were taken when half way back on their return. Brady said to the magistrate, "Your honor, it is evident that the boys had no design of stealing the boatthey were only after apples, as you and I have been many a time." It is needless to add his "clients" were discharged. He evidently took a humane view of his duty as public prosecutor.
In considering a case he saw the general principles upon which it was based by the facts, and cared little for precedents, believing with Burke that "cases are but dead things; principles alone are living and productive." He kept himself, of course, familiar with the changes in statute law and with "practice," but of later years trusted the briefs of the junior counsel as to the catalogue of precedents. His memory, however, was wonderful for its minuteness and precision, and his early years of study had stored his mind with legal lore, ever ready on occasion, as many an opponent has found. He went straight at the objective points of a case, and had the true art of the advocate in presenting his own strong points to the best possible advantage, without making too prominent those of his adversary. He was suggestive in his argument, and enlisted the jury in his reasoning, so that they were very apt to take it up where he left off, and arrive at the conclusion he did not express. He was used to say, that the facts were the first term, the law the second, of the syllogism, and the third was for the jury to findthat is the verdict. Many examples could be given of his retentive memory in regard to the minutiae of a case told to him hurriedly in a court roomnot tried for months, and at trial finding him perfectly familiar with all the material points and even the names of the witnesses, etc.
Summing up his qualities as a lawyer Mr. Graham pronounces him great in every department of his profession, and concludes
Gifted with the qualities that would have made him a great party leader, there was no position of political power to which he might not have aspired. He persistently declined every overture to political station, and coveted no honors outside his profession. He even declined the appointment of Attorney-General of the United States, though that might have been held to be directly within his professional limits; but he preferred to find "the post of honor in a private station." His political beliefs were honestly entertained and freely expressed. He was a lifelong Democrata theoretical extreme "States' Rights" man, and the only time he ran for conspicuous political position was when he became the candidate of the Breckenridge wing of his party for the governorship of New York. He took the nomination (as he said to his intimates at the time) in order that the Southerners might not have it to say that in this election they had no candidate. He believed in giving implicit obedience to the requirements of the Constitution, and recognized their obligations as binding in all respects. So the man whoas was said of him by one who knew him bestenjoyed all things that any find enjoyable, except those that gave pain to anything (on which account he detested hunting and fishing), because the Constitution enjoined it, sustained the Fugitive Slave law and was a Breckenridge Democrat. But when war was precipitated, and the South he had so resolutely defended were in the position of violating the Constitution, like Douglas, his fellow Democrat, Mr. Brady threw his whole soul into the cause of the North and of the Constitution.
He was in Philadelphia when the news came from Sumter. Returning to New York, he went into his office and told his partner that he must take care of the business; as for himself, he was going to enlist at once. It was only when Secretary Stanton showed him that he could be of far more service out of the field than in it, that he reluctantly consented to forego this purpose. From the first moment, all his powers, his time, his money, were given freely, absorbingly; and no man's influence was greater. His war speeches would fill a volume, and make a proud monument to his fame.
I cannot pretend to follow him through the war. A single incident, however, will show both his spirit and his ready wit. On one occasion, about the time of the draft troubles, he spoke at a great meeting in Brooklyn, with Admiral Stringham. There was an attempt to break up the meeting; but he told them that a New York boy, educated in the experiences of the Sixth Ward and the excitements of Tammany Hall, was not to be frightened by a little ruffle upon a wave, like this.
They tell you that they propose to have the great drama of the American Republic enacted with the part of Hamlet left outthe American people without the Yankee: [Laughter.] Did ever moral man hear the like of this? [Laughter.] It is the Irishman's definition of nonsense" a legless stocking without any foot." [Laughter.] Well, they want peace. " I want peace," says Vallandigham: "I want peace," says the Hon. ex-Mayor Wood, of New York. I am afraid they have mistaken their grammarthey want pieces. [Laughter.] They want peace, do they? So do we; so does every man, woman, and child in this country; and when they tell us, in their dishonest resolutions, that they are the special advocates of peace, does not the lie come back to them from every truthful breast over all of the broad lands of the North, and East, and West?
But I must pass rapidly by his war record, noble and suggestive as it is, and turn to regard the man as he appeared to those who knew him, and as he exhibited himself in daily life.
"If," said Judge Porter, "an artist could produce a perfect likeness of James T. Brady, as we have seen him under the inspiration of a great theme, and in the glow of earlier manhood, we should scarcely need anything more to convey to after times the living impress of the man. In that intellectual and beaming face, lighted up, as it often was, with almost womanly grace and beauty, shone out the character and the genius which made him the popular advocate of his time."
An ambrotype, taken about his fortieth year, fulfils the above conditionsa rare and exquisite masterpiece of the subtile artist, light; as if the sun delighted to look upon so manly a man. The form slender and full of grace, not yet taking on the fulness of later life; the noble head upraised; the fresh face, untouched by age or care, only paled by thought, it looks the very incarnation of intellect.
The head of Mr. Brady was not merely great in quality, but great in size also. It was, emphatically, a "massive head," its circumference measuring 24 3-8 inches, or 3-8 of an inch more than that of Daniel Webster. It was absolutely as well as relatively (for he was much smaller than Webster) a great head, and of remarkable symmetry and beauty.
All children loved him, as he loved them. His little niece, remembered in his will as "my dearly beloved Toot," was his constant home companion. The following rhymed letter to the little daughter of his friend, Mr. Clarence Seward, shows the pains he would take to please the little folks. Being at Washington, engaged in a cause, the little daughter of the friend with whom he was associated sent, in a letter to her father, a little note to Mr. Brady, asking him to give her something for "the Sanitary," which drew out an impromptua veritable impromptu, scratched off on the moment and mailed at once. Here are some of the lines:
While his love thus went out to all, it burned brightest and warmest in the home circle. His relations with his brother, Judge John R. Brady were peculiarly intimate. The home, office, purse, alms of the two brothers were ever in common, till the election of John R. to the bench of the Court of Common Pleas terminated their law partnership, and it is needless to say to any one who knew the brothers, that after that time James T. tried no causes in that court. His brother was summoned at the moment of his attack, and was with him till the last. Who that knew them can forget the wit and humor which characterized the brotherstheir common inheritance from that father whose fame as a raconteur and whose powers of repartee are still remembered.
In the trial of the Allaire Will case, in preparing his argument, for which Mr. Brady had passed the entire night, he said that all his "inspiration" came from a singe rose, which a lady in the audience had given him just as he was to speak. One of his clients was a poor blind girl, and the pathos with which he pictured her and condition was given in a single touch: "She could not even know the beauties of this rose." Blindness in the abstract may be touching, but that one should not be able to see the beauty of that single flower, fresh with morning dew, would have brought its sad deprivation home to the heart of the dullest oaf that ever sat on jury bench.
A friend once asked him, "Have you any special end or aim in this life to accomplish; anything which, when done, you will say, I've gained my ends and will stand aside for younger men?'" He was silent for a little, and then said, thoughtfully, "Nothing for to-morrow, nothing for the future. I am thankful only that I have been allowed to live for to-day." This idea he expressed somewhat in reference to his brother in "A Christmas Dream," a sketch published in the "New World," Park Benjamin's paper, in 1846. The sketch is as fine in its way as Dicken's First Christmas Card. His former pupil and friend, Stephen Masset, read it to appreciative Australian audiences each returning Christmas. On his return here, Mr. Brady gave it to Mr. Masset to be published in book form, with a characteristic dedication.
Of his estimate of life and of death he has left testimony. At the Dickinson bar meeting he said,
Like you I honor greatness, genius and achievements, but I honor more those qualities in a man's nature which show that while he holds a proper relation to the Deity, he has also a just estimate of his fellow men, and a kindly feeling toward them. I would rather have it said of me after my death, by my brethren of the bar, that they were sorry I had left their companionship, than to be spoken of in the highest strains of a gifted panegyric. When I think of Mr. Dickinson I think of a man who, I am quite sure, had no guile in his nature, and who died leaving no living creature to rejoice at his death; and the man who can say that of himself, in the still watches of the night, when his conscience is inspected only by the Almighty and himself, need not, in my imperfect view of religious sentiment and duty, he much afraid to die!"
At the Kent meeting he said,
I do not regard the mere circumstance of physical death with any poignant emotion of grief or sorrow; but I do contemplate with awe the destruction of an intellect. I can never bear to think that when the body returns to dust, the mind which animated, vivified and controlled it is forever lost. I say with a great writer:
I think the great dramatist made no greater failure than in the scene where he represents Hamlet holding in his hand the skull of the poor jester. It was an occasion which should have been surrounded with intense feeling, and made eloquent with profound and elevating thought. . . . We do not believe that this intellect perishes, though the frame may decay and dissolve into its elements. We believe in the sweet assurance and promise so sweetly expressed by that other great poet, Whittier, of whom our country may so justly boast:
He had a great admiration for the poems of Whittier, and when, one day, after dinner, his brother-in-law, Mr. Jarvis, read "Snow Bound" to him, he was so charmed that he said: "I don't know Mr. Whittier, but I am going to write and thank him for the pleasure he has given me," and calling his little secretary "Toot" to bring him some paper, he dashed off the following letter which for some cause was not sent, but has been found since his decease. It shows what it was, the hasty outpouring of a warm appreciative heart:
His private benefactions were countless, and only now the tithe of them come to light. In enjoyment of a princely income, he has left but a moderate fortune, and of his vast receipts, others have benefited far more largely than himself. He had been in active practice at the bar, engaged in its most important business from the first, for thirty-four long years; add to that the four years before his admission when, in his father's office, he was practically in his profession, and you have a life of thirty-eight years in the most wearing of the professions.
The day after the Gerard dinner, speaking to some of his family,
he said, "I am glad my friends seem to have been pleased last
night, for I feel that it is the last time I shall ever appear on
a like public occasion." It proved a true prophecy: one week
from the day of the dinner he was stricken with paralysis, and on
Tuesday morning, February 9, 1869, about five o'clock, he passed
quietly from earth. He recovered his consciousness after the first
attack and retained his intellect in all its clearness down to the
time of the second attack, twelve hours previous to his death, rallying
so much that hope was entertained of his recovery. Father Ducy,
a young priest, whom he had found as an office boy, and at his own
request, educated as a priest, was sent for by his brother, Judge
Brady, and was with him from the first moment, and remained with
him; having , at last, the mournful satisfaction of performing,
over his remains, the funeral mass in the great cathedral of St.
Patrick, crowded to suffocation with the many friends of his loved
patron and friend. Mr. Brady died sustained by the last ministrations
of the Catholic Church; and so he had ever wished to die.