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I’d been unlading. Look here.” Mr. Deane opened a book

2023-12-01 10:46:53 [map] source:Headwind and Evil Waves Network

Mr. Clapp opened the case in a regular speech. Rising from his seat, he ran his fingers through his hair, and commenced, much as follows:

I’d been unlading. Look here.” Mr. Deane opened a book

"We come before you on this occasion, gentlemen of the jury, to plead a cause which it is believed is unprecedented, in its peculiar facts, among the annals of justice in our great and glorious country. Never, indeed, should I have believed it possible that an American citizen could, under any circumstances whatever, have been compelled during so long a period to forego his just and legal rights; ay, that he could be forced to the very verge of abandoning those rights--all but forced to forget them. Yet, such are the facts of the case upon which you are now to decide. The individual appearing before you this day, claiming that the strong arm of the law be raised in his behalf, first presented himself to me, with the very same demand, six years since; to my shame I confess it, he was driven unaided from my door--I refused to assist him; he had already carried the same claim to others, and received from others the same treatment. And what is this claim, so difficult to establish? Is it some intricate legal question? Is it some doubtful point of law? Is it a matter which requires much learning to decide, much wisdom to fathom? No, gentlemen; it is a claim clearly defined, firmly established; never yet doubted, never yet denied: it is a claim, not only recognized in the common-law of every land, protected in the statute-books of every nation, but it is a claim, gentlemen, which springs spontaneously from the heart of every human being--it is the right of a son to his father's inheritance. A right, dear alike to the son of one of our merchant princes, and to the son of the porter on our wharves."

I’d been unlading. Look here.” Mr. Deane opened a book

"Mr. Clapp paused; he looked about the court, rested his eyes on his client, ran his fingers through his curls, and then proceeded.

I’d been unlading. Look here.” Mr. Deane opened a book

"Gentlemen; I have told you that it is the right of a son to his father's inheritance, which we this day call upon you to uphold. It is more; it is the sacred cause of the orphan that you are to defend. Yes, gentlemen; at the moment when William Stanley should have taken possession of the inheritance, which was his by the threefold title of nature, of law, and of parental bequest, he was a mere boy, a minor, a wanderer on the deep; one of that gallant class of men who carry the glorious colours of our great and happy country into every port, who whiten every sea with American canvass--he was a roving sailor-boy!"

And setting out from this point, Mr. Clapp made a general statement of the case, coloured by all the cheap ornaments of forensic eloquence, and varied by allusions to the glory of the country, the learning of all judges, particularly American judges, especially the judges then on the bench; the wisdom of all juries, particularly American juries, especially the jury then in the box. He confessed that his client had been guilty of folly in his boyhood; "but no one, gentlemen, can regret past misconduct more than Mr. Stanley; no son ever felt more deeply than himself, regret, that he could not have attended the death-bed of his father, received his last blessing, and closed his eyes for the last time!" Mr. Clapp then read parts of Mr. Stanley's will, gave an outline of his client's wanderings, and was very particular with names and dates. The sailor's return was then described in the most pathetic colours. "He brought with him, gentlemen, nothing but the humble contents of a sailor's chest, the hard-earned wages of his daily toil; he, who in justice was the owner of as rich a domain as any in the land!" The attempts of this poor sailor to obtain his rights were then represented. "He learned the bitter truth, gentlemen, that a poor seaman, a foremast hand, with a tarpaulin hat and round-jacket, stood little chance of being heard, as the accuser of the rich and the powerful--the men who walked abroad in polished beavers, and aristocratic broad-cloths." Aristocracy having once been brought upon the scene, was made to figure largely in several sentences, and was very roughly handled indeed. To have heard Mr. Clapp, one would have supposed aristocracy was the most sinful propensity to which human nature was liable; the only very criminal quality to which republican nature might he inclined. Of course the defendants were accused of this heinous sin; this brilliant passage concluded with a direct allusion to the "very aristocratic trio before him." Mr. Stanley was declared to be no aristocrat; he was pronounced thoroughly plebeian in all his actions and habits. "Like the individual who has now the honour of addressing you, gentlemen, Mr. Stanley is entirely free, in all his habits and opinions, from the hateful stain of aristocracy." He continued, following his client's steps down to the present time, much as they are already known to the reader. Then, making a sudden change, he reviewed the conduct of the defendants as connected with his client.

{ "Aristocracy" = Susan Fenimore Cooper was very familiar with court proceedings in the 1840s. Her father was at this time involved in a series of generally successful libel suits against newspapers, which defended themselves by accusing him of being "aristocratic," a sore point, as he had repeatedly denounced aristocracy as the worst of all forms of government}

"What were their first steps at the death of Mr. Stanley, the father? Merely those which were absolutely necessary to secure themselves; they inquired for the absent son, but they inquired feebly; had they waited with greater patience he would have appeared, for the story of his disinheritance would never have reached him. Whence did that story proceed from? It is not for me to say; others now present may be able to account for it more readily. No, gentlemen, it is a bitter truth, that the conduct of the executors has been consistent throughout, from the moment they first took possession of the Stanley estate, until their appearance in this court; the conduct of the rival legatee has also been marked by the same consistent spirit of opposition, from the time of his first interview with Mr. Stanley, after he had arrived at years of discretion, and knew the value of the estate he hoped to enjoy; from the moment, I say, when he coolly ordered the unfortunate sailor to be locked up in Mr. Wyllys's smoke-house, until the present instant, when his only hope lies in denying the identity of Mr. Stanley's son." Mr. Clapp dwelt for some time upon this first interview, and the smoke-house; as he had previously hinted to Hazlehurst, he laboured to make that affair "look ugly," to the best of his ability. If the language of the Longbridge lawyer had been respectful throughout the preliminary proceedings, his tune in the court-room changed completely. As he drew towards the close of his speech, he gave full scope to a burst of virtuous indignation against wickedness and hypocrisy in general, and particularly against the conduct of the defendants. He declared himself forced to believe, that both Mr. Wyllys and Hazlehurst had suspected the existence of William Stanley from the first--others might have the charity to believe they had been ignorant of the young man's existence, he only wished he could still believe such to have been the fact--he had believed them honestly ignorant of it, until it was no longer possible for the prejudices of a long-standing friendship and intimacy to blind his eyes, under the flood of light presented by proofs as clear as day--proofs which his respected brother, the senior counsel, and himself, were about to lay before the court. He wished to be understood, however; he never for one moment had included in these suspicions--so painful to every candid, upright mind, but which had recently forced themselves upon him--he repeated, that in them he had never included the respected lady who filled the place of step-mother to his client, whose representative he now saw before him, in the person of a highly distinguished lawyer of the Philadelphia bar; he did not suppose that that venerable matron had ever doubted the death of her husband's son. He knew that excellent lady, had often met her in the social circle; none admired more than he, the virtues for which she was distinguished; he had never supposed it possible, that if aware of the existence of William Stanley, she could have sat down calmly to enjoy his inheritance. Such a case of turpitude might not be without example; but he confessed that in his eyes, it would amount to guilt of so black a dye, that he was unwilling to accuse human nature of such depravity; it went beyond the powers of his, Mr. Clapp's, imagination to comprehend. No, he acquitted Mrs. Stanley of all blame; she had been influenced and guided by the two gentlemen before him. He had himself observed, that during all the preliminary proceedings, the venerable step-mother of his client had shown many symptoms of doubt and hesitation; it was his firm conviction, it was the opinion of his client, of his brother counsel, that if left to her own unbiassed judgment, Mrs. Stanley would immediately have acknowledged her husband's son, and received him as such. He appealed to the defendants themselves if this were not true; he called upon them to deny this assertion if they could--if they dared! Here Mr. Clapp paused a moment, and looked towards Mr. Grant.

The defendants had already spoken together for an instant; Mr. Ellsworth rose: "The answer which the counsel for the plaintiff was so anxious to receive, was reserved for its proper place in the defence. Where so much might be said, he should scarcely be able to confine himself within the bounds necessary at that moment. Let the counsel for the plaintiff rest assured, however, that the answer to that particular question, when given, would prove, like the general answer of the defence, of a nature that the interrogator would, doubtless, little relish."

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