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its slogan title, “Bigger, Busier, Better Memphis," a club with a membership of over two thousand, representing every line of business, trade and industry, from adding machines to wood works.
Warming up, I could tell them that we will soon have a municipal auditorium, so magnificent in its architecture and vast in its proportions, that even the Shriners, instead of declining an invitation will clamorously seek admission.
Increasing in fervor, I could in the exhuberance of unrestrained enthusiasm, tell them our trade and commerce has grown so marvelously fast and great that another mammoth bridge is being built across the mighty Mississippi, to avoid constant congestion in transportation.
In a bashful strain like this, if my nerve and vocabulary should hold out, I could continue, and with glowing zeal, portray to them the unparallelled attractions and probabilities, present and prospective, of our city-a veritable Duluth of Proctor Knott fame until the delegates themselves, if they should believe one tithe of what I should say, would telegraph home to their managers to close their business houses and factories, and would wire their wives to pack up, and all come at once to Memphis, before every avenue of activity should be congested and closed, and their entry barred for want of room.
Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Jackson and other beautiful and flourishing cities, and towns, too numerous to mention, scattered broadcast as municipal pearls throughout the State, whence this splendid assemblage of lawyers have come, could extend to such convention like welcome, replete with praise of their own resources and accomplishments, without breach of propriety between host and guest.
But, Mr. President, we are not today greeting delegates to conventions of the kind, useful and needful as they are, in the advancement of material prosperity, and in the dissemination of knowledge—of profit and loss, where business methods, facilities, and localities are weighed in business scales, and goods, wares, and merchandise, figuratively speaking, are displayed for the attraction of investment comers and customers. Other loftier and not lucrative objects are our aim.
Annually, we meet to cultivate professional ethics and social intercourse. More than that, we meet to consider and commend measures for the curtailment of litigation; the abridgement of the law's delay; reduction of expenses to litigants; uniformity of laws; simplicity in their administration, and other needed and wholesome enactments. What nobler and more unselfish task could engage the time and attention of good citizenship?
I would that laymen, who are always welcome, would largely attend our meetings, to the end that they might know and appreciate our endeavors, and by their voice and vote, co-operate with us in their legislative adoption, whether at biennial, or perennial sessions.
Although not germane to an address of welcome, I cannot refrain from spontaneously uttering an ardent wish that they would actively and persistently aid us in our efforts, especially to amend, or to make anew, our old and infirm Constitution, to meet the requirements of new conditions and environment, and to keep abreast with other States which have noted and heeded the needs of a live and thrifty age.
With these high purposes prompting us, we have gathered at Memphis today, from every part of the State, at our worthy President's bidding, who names both the time and place of our annual meeting, and in the selection of which, the individual membership has no voting voice. And so it is, we are cordially your involuntary host, while you are voluntary our most acceptable, though technically, uninvited guests—a most delightful and unique relation, wherein we are all hosts, and all are guests of each other for common pleasure and common good, and wherein good fellowship is the sentiment supreme, and loyalty to law and order, and the promotion of both, are duties sublime.
I apprehend that this meeting, presided over as it will be, by one of our most gracious members—a learned and leading lawyer-supported as he is, by an active and earnest central council, and with a program of rare attraction in subjects, and in speakers, all eminent, will indeed be a most enjoyable symposium of legal learning-enhanced in pleasure by a paper to be read, scholarly in style, thought and research, as I am sure it will be—even though not by a lawyer.
Aside from an intellectual treat, permit me to say that I am certain nothing will be omitted to make your cordial welcome a delightful reality, in the hospitality, which it will be yours to enjoy during every hour of your stay, when not engaged in association work.
Its members, and others, with their gracious wives and winsome daughters, will, I am sure, engage in active rivalry to make your visit as happy, as happy can be.
It would be an unpardonable invasion of the Committee's functions should I venture to tell you in advance all that is, or ought to be, in store for you—such as luncheons at high noon; receptions everywhere, with juleps of grape juice, automobile drives on beautiful boulevards, and through lovely parks; steamboat excursions, and the banquet final—not omitting golf for such of our guests as would enjoy physical recreation after long listening to lawyers, oftimes with pleasure, and sometimes with patience, as time limit drew nigh.
This reminds me, to inject an amusing incident wherein a flighty lawyer, having completed only one-half of his argument, turned dramatically to the clock and feelingly said: “Yon dial plate admonishes me of the rapid flight of time, and the painful and constantly recurring thought of it, has made me forget what I was about to say.” To which the court, with great relief, replied: “Although given to you, you are not bound to consume it all. Your forgotten argument will be duly considered.”
My pleasurable duty will have been done, when I shall have conveyed to you our sincere and hearty welcome. It will then remain for the Committee of Arrangements to make good, wherein, if they fail, the Committee on Grievances will be heard from at our next annual session.
Seven association meetings have been held at Memphis. We only wish they had been or will be, seven times seven, for your coming has always furnished pleasure, and your going has always left behind a feeling of closer union and higher estimate of the Bar Association of Tennessee. Without more, we greet and welcome you.
Mr. Biggs:—Gentlemen, your committee has selected to respond to this eloquent and cordial address of welcome a speaker of such attainments that when he was twenty-one years of age he was elected as speaker of the House of Representatives of this State that he might continue speaking perpetually during the meeting of that assembly. It affords me very great pleasure to present to you the Hon. Hilsman Taylor, of Trenton, who will respond to the address of welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Taylor.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen and Members of the Bar
Association of Tennessee:
The only objection that I have to responding to an address of welcome is the time at which you have to respond. One could perform this ceremony much more effectively if he were permitted to enjoy all of the hospitalities before he had to tell about them. Of course, I know that every word spoken by the distinguished gentleman in his eloquent address of welcome was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; and I can now see this entire Association embraced by the men and women of Memphis, in my mind's eye, but just think how much better I could tell you how we have enjoyed it, when we are about to leave. However, that might be a dangerous thing to do, considering the fact that some of us come from dry towns, but I forgot, Memphis is dry, too.
This is the second time in the last few years that the Association has met in Memphis and in behalf of those of us who attended the meeting the last time, I want to thank the Bar and the people of Memphis twice for their cordial welcome into their splendid and hospitable city. Too much cannot be said of your treatment of the visitors at the last meeting, and I feel that you will even do more this time. We appreciate profoundly the warm welcome and generous hospitality that has been so eloquently extended to us.
Your magnificent and progressive city stands here on the banks of the mighty Father of Waters, the embodiment of prosperity, thrift and energy, the gateway to the Southwest. There is in the atmosphere that which makes men hurry onward and upward forever seeking and striving for a higher goal. An invitation to the stranger is not needed to your city, for the latch strings hangs on the outside and it is known far and wide that in Memphis a man's success is only measured by his ability and his application.
For a great many years, the fathers were saying “Go West young man,” but now all over Tennessee from the Great Smoky Mountains, on the East, passing on West into other States and territories the Patriarchs are saying “Go to Memphis, Young man, go to Memphis.”.
All over Tennessee, Memphis is painted as a city flowing with milk and honey and a place where any industrious young man can gather in the money. The greatest glory for the ambitious country youth is success in Memphis and they believe that success in Memphis will be the reward of the strong. When a country boy sniffles the fresh air from the forests on a frosty morning and drinks his fill of nature's exhilarating freedom he feels he can conquer any great city.
Memphis is strictly a Southern city, full of Southern people, and there are none who can give the same warm welcome that the people of the South can, and we appreciate your welcome more because we know you have let the business take care of itself, and given yourselves over to our enjoyment and pleasure. We esteem this a great honor very highly, but, we feel that our cause is one that deserves great honor. The Bar Association of Tennessee was not formed to aid the lawyers; it was not formed for the pleasure nor profit of the members, but that the lawyers might get together and help their clients, that they might exert their best efforts to keep the State in the straight and narrow channel of wise and efficient government and restrain useless and costly litigation.
Most conventions, associations and meetings have for their purpose the betterment of the members of the organization or the success of some particular party or class, but the only good that we ask or seek is the public good, innovations that help all alike and of which any man may partake freely of who places himself in the right position in the proper state. The lawyer is the world's greatest Altruist and the only man who is at all times seeking to do good for others and especially is that true of those who attend our annual meetings for only those come who love their profession and love the work for the work's sake.