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would have demanded, as the only condition, that the reform should be real, and the progress reconstructive and not merely destructive. If he is not entitled to the epithet of a law reformer, he certainly is entitled to be pronounced a liberal man.
Some have gone so far in depreciation of him as to consider him only as a man of quite moderate capacity and more moderate learning advanced to a high place, and, by long continuance in its routine, become accustomed to its studies and practice, and therefore enabled respectably to fulfil its duties, but never exhibiting legal genius like Marshall, or learning like Story, or industry like Shaw. This is certainly a criticism so devoid of plausible fairness as to indicate no real appreciation of the man, or acquaintance with his labors. Others, whose politics tinge all their opinions, derided him, while he lived, as the enemy of the Union, the friend of slavery, and the sympathizer with rebellion, and gladly welcomed his death as a public blessing. Such opinions are not entitled to the respect we give to candid judgments by answering them. In his constitutional opinions he was to the fullest extent committed against any right of secession or nullification, and was, through life, a staunch friend of the Union and the Constitution. The only time in which he came in contact with the executive government during the rebellion was in his opinion in the case of Merryman, which he could neither avoid nor hesitate in. It was a case of habeus corpus, involving the question of the lawfulness of its suspension by the executive. He decided against such a right, and ordered the writ to issue; but on the military authority refusing to obey it, he calmly delivered his judgment that such a proceeding was illegal, but inasmuch as the civil power was without authority to enforce law against military rule, he ordered a copy of his opinion to be filed on the records of the court, to the end that the law might be known if not respected. Less he could not have done consistently with self-respect; more he could not do consistently with the necessary subordination, in time of war, of the judicial to the military power.
In many respects, and in some particulars, the life of Chief-Justice Taney was supremely fortunate. He was destitute of brilliant parts, yet he early succeeded in public and professional life, not beyond his deserts, but earlier and more persistently than can always be relied upon by the most meritorious. It is not enough that a man possesses
those which cause of age of
ability and character to ensure success in life. A certain amount of energy, enterprise, and aid from others is quite as essential. In Andrew Jackson, Mr. Taney found a man quick to appreciate ability, however unpromising the exterior, and true to reward those who served him. Taney was of great use to Jackson in the two offices he held in the Cabinet; and Jackson, in turn, furnished Taney the situation for which nature exactly fitted him.
Mr. Taney was never wealthy, although his practice must have been as lucrative as that of any one at the Maryland bar, excepting, perhaps, Pinkney and Martin ; and they amassed no fortunes. But Pinkney was extravagant, and engaged much in the expensive luxury of diplomatic service; Martin was of dissolute habits. Neither was a good business man in regard to money. Taney was neither of expensive tastes nor dissolute habits, and was by no means a bad manager in money matters; and was actively engaged at the bar up to the age of fifty-ninc. We must therefore look for the cause of his lack of property in the small revenues which the most successful practice in Maryland in those days afforded. It is said that according to his means he was very charitable.
The entire life of the chief-justice, in late years, must have been an agreeable one. It was easy, honorable, and useful. He was a man of regular habits, abstemious life, and domestic character. He was a careful, though not an extensive, reader of solid literature. In early life he had mastered the standard elementary law works; but paid little attention to the numberless brood that compose modern elementary treatises. He had Coke, Littleton, Coke's Reports, Comyn's Digest, and such ancient fountains of the common law, by heart. This was the result of his early studies and his early contests at the bar. He possessed nothing of the restless uneasiness of unsatisfied ambition ; nor was he compelled to submit to the embarrassments and distractions of conflicting and inharmonious pursuits. He loved the law, and was devoted with singleness of purpose to its studies and its thoughts. Neither elegant letters nor distracting politics kept his mind divided. He possessed that true ambition which is content to merit renown, without much solicitude as to seeing it. He found his relaxation in the charms of domestic life, and agreeable, but never ambitious conversation. His recreation he found—not like some great lawyers, in poetry, or like others, in mathematics, or others, in literary dissipation-but in the philosophy of the law itself. When in legal practice, he had no aspiration for oratory to sustain or to lose ; when upon the bench, he had no vain pride to appear anything greater than he really was. This answer of life to the demands of the man's nature, brought that happy contentment and equanimity which are a fortune to its possessor.
The life of the chief-justice in term time must have been highly agreeable. Having but few books, he relied upon reflection and the Law Library for his law. His day's work may be briefly described. He was a reasonably early riser. At eleven, he and his associates proceeded to the courtroom. Listening to arguments until the adjournment, he then went to his library, still carrying in his mind the causes to which he had listened during the session. While bis memory was fresh, he would turn to such few books as he found it desirable to refer to. This was a quick and easy work. That accomplished, he would lie down for an hour's sleep. This over, he returned to his labors. It was then, when he came to digest the case, and to bring to bear upon it his capacious reflective powers, that the genius of the chief justice shone with its highest lustre. He brought to · bear upon the logic of the enquiry the vast powers of his understanding. There was no dallying with the unessential and the trifling detail ; but he went directly to the main point, brushing away with a sturdy independence all besides. There was no trial of the issue by the decisions of others, or the borrowed reasoning of others. For cases he habitually cared but little, and in these supreme hours devoted to reflection, he totally eschewed them. There was no approach to a part, but a comprehensive appreciation of the whole. When this process was completed, an opinion was formed, which added something to the stock of human knowledge. The subsequent labor of committing the reasoning to paper was a quick work.
The chief-justice bad few, if any, of the foibles, peculiarities, or eccentricities of old age, beyond his babit of inveterate smoking. His immaculate private character and unsullied private life are unquestioned in any quarter. The bitterest tongue of party malignity never presumed to hint a stain upon the private fame of Taney. His friendships were firm, and his affections strong. The symmetry, simplicity, directness, and intensity of his nature were the topics of familiar commendation. His faculty of fixing friends was a trait not so much spoken of, but known to his familiar com
panions. He had few, if any, enemies. He had nothing of the pride of station ; but much of the generosity of greatness, much real kindness of heart.
The death of the chief justice coming so closely upon the departure of other great judges of this country and England, a comparison with some of them is provoked ; but we have no space for details. In our country, McLean, Domiell, Bronson, Gibson, and Shaw have recently passed away. In England, Denman, Parke, Campbell, Truro, and Lyndhurst have lately gone from the scenes of court to higher scenes than any courts have witnessed. If we contrast any of them, where shall we seek the superior of Taney ? Nay, more: if we array beside him the long list of the illustrious dead, where, beyond a Mansfield, a Lyndhurst, or a Marshall, shall we find an equal ? The most distinguished of recent state judges have been Shaw, Gibson, and Bronson; of these the latter was incomparably the greatest man, although the rank of both the others has been conclusively established first-class magistrates.
Some points of resemblance, and some marks of dissimilarity between Marshall and Taney we have already indicated. We incline to the opinion that, taking the nature of the men, and the character of the services rendered by them respectively, it must be the judgment of impartial posterity that Marshall was the greater man. But we much question whether that must be conceded in comparing the late chiefjustice with either Mansfield or Lyndhurst. Both were more accomplished men, and riper scholars in the mere learning of the law; but neither could have been his superior as a great magistrate. Both Lyndhurst and Mansfield were active politicians while they were judges. Both were orators and literary men. But these things add little in the estimate of a great chief-justice. The pure fame of Marshall and Taney will endure as long as any record remains of American institutions.
Art. IV.-1. Fama Posthuma a la vida y muerte del doctor Frey
Lope Feliz de Vega-Carpio. Por MONTALVAN. Madrid, 1817. 2. Bibliotheca Hispana Nova. Por Nicolas Antonio. Madrid,
4. Some account of the Life and Writings of Lope Felix de Vega
Carpio. BY HENRY RICHARD LORD HOLLAND. London, 1860. 5. Planto funebre en la muerte de Lope Felix de Vega-Carpio.
Por LARRAMENDI. Madrid, 1635. 6. History of Spanish Literature By GEORGE TICKNOR. In three
vols.; third American edition, corrected and enlarged. Boston : Ticknor & Fields, 1863.
The intellectual decay of nations is one of the most interesting subjects that can engage the attention of the psy. chologist, the philosopher, or the statesman; and nowhere has it been more strikingly exemplified in modern times than in Spain. We do not make this remark in any offensive spirit, or with any disposition to disparage one of the noblest races that have shed lustre on Europe by their enterprising spirit, their intellectual vigor and activity, and their chivalric bravery. No intelligent Spaniard denies that the national intellect is not what it once was. Nor is there any sufficient reason why he should. As well might he deny that his own physical powers have failed at the age of sixty, when it is evident to all who know him that he can no longer perform the feats by which he was distinguished in early life. If he has been temperate in his habits, he is in no manner responsible for the loss of his strength, since he has become weak only in accordance with the same law of nature which ordains that the oak of the forest, though it flourish for ages, will yet one day encumber, as a blighted trunk, the earth, which its friendly branches have so long sheltered. If Spain were the only nation that has exhibited evidences of decay in a similar manner, her people would have some reason to feel sensitive on the subject; but they can point to the greatest nations of all antiquity as examples of the operation of the same law. For this purpose Greece and Rone would be sufficient.
Nor need they search long for modern examples ; they need only turn to Italy,which is no more than the shadow, in intellectual vigor and activity, of what she once was. Indeed, Italy has fallen lower in this respect than Spain ; but the former has been much longer oppressed by the stranger than the latter. From the time of Ferdinand and Isabella to the present, Spain bas had to groan but for a very brief period under any foreign yoke, whereas during the same period Italy has not enjoyed entire freedom from foreign oppression for a single