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JUDAHPHILIP BENJAMIN (1811-1884)

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Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 740 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JUDAHPHILIP BENJAMIN (1811-1884), Anglo-American lawyer, of Jewish descent, was born a British subject at St Thomas in the West Indies on the 11th of August 1811, and was successively an American lawyer, a leading Confederate politician and a distinguished English barrister. He eventually died in Paris a domiciled Frenchman. After 1818 his parents lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and he went to Yale in 1825 for his education, but left without taking a degree, and entered an attorney's office in New Orleans. He was admitted to the New Orleans bar in 1832. He compiled with his friend John Slidell a valuable digest of decisions of the superior courts of New Orleans and Louisiana; and as a partner in the firm of Slidell, Benjamin & Conrad, he enjoyed a good practice. In 1848 he was admitted a councillor of the supreme court, and in 1852 he was elected a senator for Louisiana, and thereafter he took an active part in politics, declining to accept a judgeship of the supreme court. In 1861 he withdrew from the Senate, left Washington and actively espoused the Confederate cause. He joined Jefferson Davis's provisional government as attorney-general, becoming afterwards his secretary for war (1861-1862), and chief secretary of state (1862-1865). Although at times subject to fierce criticism with regard to matters of administration and finance, he was recognized as one of the ablest men on the Confederate side, and he remained with Jefferson Davis to the last, sharing his flight after the surrender at Appomattox, and only leaving him shortly before his capture, because he found himself unable to go farther on horseback. He escaped from the coast of Florida in an open boat, and after many vicissitudes reached England, an exile. In 1866 his remaining property was lost in the banking failure of Overend & Gurney. In London Benjamin was able to earn a little money by journalism, and on the 13th of January 1866 he entered Lincoln's Inn. He received a hospitable welcome from the legal profession. The influence of English judges who knew his abilities and his circumstances enabled him to be called to the bar on the 6th of June 1866, dispensing with the usual three years as a student, and he acquired his first knowledge of the practice and methods of English courts as the pupil of Mr C. E. (afterwards Baron) Pollock. Pollock fully recognized his abilities and they became and remained firm friends. Benjamin was naturally an apt and useful pupil; for instance, an opinion of Mr Pollock, which for long guided the London police in the exercise of their right to search prisoners, is mentioned by him as having been really composed by Benjamin while he was still his pupil. Benjamin joined the northern circuit, and a large proportion of his early practice came from solicitors at Liverpool who had correspondents in New Orleans. His business gradually increased, and having received a patent of precedence, he was on the 2nd of November 1872 called within the bar as a queen's counsel. In addition to his knowledge of law and of commercial matters he had consider-able eloquence, and a power of marshalling facts and arguments that rendered him extremely effective, particularly before judges. He was less successful in addressing juries, and towards the close of his career did not take Nisi Arius work, but in the court of appeal and House of Lords and before the judicial committee of the privy council he enjoyed a very large practice, making for some time fully £i5,000 a year. The question of raising him to the bench was seriously considered by Lord Cairns, who, however, seems to have thought that the ungrudging hospitality and goodwill with which Benjamin had been received by the English legal profession had gone far enough. Towards the close of his career he was in ill health, and he suffered from the results of a fall from a tramcar. He retired in 1882 to a house in Paris which he had built and where he had been in the habit of passing his vacations with his wife, who was a Frenchwoman. He never returned to practice, but came back to London to be entertained by the bench and bar of England at a banquet in the Inner Temple Hall on the 3oth of June 1883. He died at Paris on the 6th of May 1884. Benjamin was thick-set and stout, with an expression of great shrewdness. An early portrait of him is to be found in Jefferson Davis's Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. His political history may be traced in that work, and in John W. Draper's American Civil War and von Hoist's Constitutional History of the United States. Many allusions to his English career will be found in works describing English lawyers of his period, and there are some interesting reminiscences of him by Baron Pollock in the Fortnightly Review for March 1898. His Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property with References to the American Decisions and to the French Code and Civil Law—a bulky volume known to practitioners as Benjamin on Sales—is the principal text-book on its subject, and a fitting monument of the author's career at the English bar, of his industry and learning. Many of his American speeches have been published. See Judah P. Benjamin, by Pierce Butler (Philadelphia, 1907, with a good bibliography).
End of Article: JUDAHPHILIP BENJAMIN (1811-1884)
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Newspaper Cutting (The Times) 2nd of July, 1883: 'Entertainment To Mr Benjamin, Q.C., At The Inner Temple Hall. On Saturday evening, Mr Benjamin, Q.C., was entertained at dinner, on the close of his forensic career, by the English Bench and Bar, the Attorney-General presiding. The entertainment took place at the Inner Temple Hall, as did the dinner some 18 months ago to Lord Bramwell. It is a beautiful hall, which has lately been rebuilt, and it is adorned by portraits of the most eminent and illustrious of those who have given dignity to the profession in past generations. The hall on this occasion was filled with a splendid company, and presented a magnificent spectacle. About 200 members of the profession, including all its higher and more distinguished ornaments, joined in the entertainment. The following is a complete list of the company: - The Attorney-General (in the chair), the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England; Lord O'Hagan, Lord Bramwell, Lord Watson, Lord Fitzgerald, law lords; Lord Miltown, the Master of the Rolls; Sir R. Couch, Sir Henry Keating, Privy Council; Mr Justice Denman, Mr Baron Pollock, Mr Justice Manisty, Mr Justice Stephen, Mr Justice Williams, Mr Justice Mathew, Mr Justice Cave, Mr Justice Kay, Mr Justice Chitty, Mr Justice Butt, Mr Justice A.C. Smith, Judges; the Solicitor-General, the Lord Advocate for Scotland, the Attorney-General for Ireland; the following Queen's Counsel: - Messrs. William Ambrose, Q.C., J. Anstie, Q.C., T.H. Baylis, Q.C., R.J. Biron, Q.C., Blake, Q.C., of the Canadian Bar), H. Bompas, Q.C., F.A. Bosanquet, Q.C., J.R. Bulwer, Q.C., M.P., Sir William Charley, Q.C. (the Common Serjeant), A. Cohen, Q.C., M.P., Montague Cookson, Q.C., T.H. Cowie, Q.C., J.T. Crossley, Q.C., Horace Davey, Q.C., M.P., Dr. Deane, Q.C., B.B. Finlay, Q.C., J. Forbes, Q.C., W. Forsyth, Q.C., Sir John De Gex, Q.C., Sir Hardinge Giffard, Q.C., M.P., H.A. Giffard, Q.C., J. Graham, Q.C., William Grantham, Q.C., M.P., W. Gully, Q.C., Cozens Hardy, Q.C., Graham Hastings, Q.C., Staveley Hill, Q.C., M.P., W. Hall, Q.C., H.B. Ince, Q.C., M.P., F.A. Inderwick, Q.C., M.P., A. Jelf, Q.C., W. Karslake, Q.C., Kerr, Q.C., (of the Canadian Bar), J.F. Leith, Q.C., Hon. Chandos Leigh, Q.C., Hon. A.F.O. Liddell, Q.C., K.C.B., Under-Secretary of State, F. Lockwood, Q.C., E. Macnachten, Q.C., M.P., AE. M'Intyre, Q.C., M.P., A. Miller, Q.C., J.P. Murphy, Q.C., J. Hinde Palmer, Q.C., M.P., William Pearson, Q.C., William Petheram, Q.C., F. Philbrick, Q.C., S. Pope, Q.C., W. Potter, Q.C., J.J. Powell, Q.C., R.T. Reid, Q.C., M.P., J. Rigby, Q.C., W.F. Robinson, Q.C., Serjeant Robinson, R. Romer, Q.C., Charles Russell, Q.C., M.P., A. Scoble, Q.C., Pembroke Stephens, Q.C., F. Waller, Q.C., J. Westlake, Q.C., R.E. Webster, Q.C., F.M. White, Q.C., A. Wills, Q.C., William Willis, Q.C., M.P., Cooper Willis, Q.C., T.E. Winslow, Q.C., and the following members of the Bar: - Messrs. R.G. Arbuthnot, L.M. Aspland, De Courcy Atkins, J.G. Barnes, R.A. Bayford, W. Beale, J.C. Bigham, J. Boyle, A. Bremner, Gainsford Bruce, H.B. Buckley, W.H. Butler, Spencer Butler, E.W. Byrne, R. Campbell, G. Candy, E. Cannot, J. Chaplin, J. Chester, A. Cock, R. Herne Collins, W.O. Danckwerts, Israel Davis, H.B. Deane, H.F. Dickens, K.E. Digby, S. Druce, F.C. Duncan (of the American Bar), J. Edge, Escott, B. Eyre, Henry Fellows, G.A. Fitzgerald, J.D. Fitzgerald, W.F. Finlason, J.T. Fitzadam, D. Fletcher, E. Ford, J. Fox, D. French, R.W. Fullarton, F. Gore, B.D. Greene, S. Grenier (of Colombo), J.P. Grain, Corrie Grant, M. Guiry, G. Gumbleton, R. Haldane, S. Hall, Chadwyck Healey, G. Wood Hill, T.C. Hedderwick, F. Hollams, P. Rose Innes, C. Jemmett, F.H. James, E. Jones, Ingle Joyce, W.R. Kennedy, D. Kingsford, A.T. Laurence, Northmore Lawrence, Yate Lee, F.H. Lewis, Hon. Alfred Lyttleton, C.O. Macrae, F.W. Maclean, M.J. Mackenzie, R.A. M'Call, J. Macdonell, G. Man, H.F. Manisty, C.R. M'Clymont, E. Nicholls, W. M'Connell, C. Medd, J. Moorsom, J.F. Moulton, D.N. Nicol, J. Horne Payne, A.B. Pearson, W. Phillimore, M. Pilcher, H.B. Poland, E.H. Pollard, L.D. Powles, F.W. Raikes, E. Ridley, E. Rolland, Cecil Russell, C.H. Scott, T.V. Scully, H. Shebbeare, H.G. Shee, J.E. Skinner, T.W. Snagge (County Court Judge), L. de Souza, J.M. Solomon, James Stirling, P. Stokes, Charles Stubbs, T. Thomas, Francis Turner, C.R. Tyser, Howard Vincent (Criminal Investigation Department), J. Hume Williams, Montagu Williams, E. Wilberforce, T. Wilkinson, H. Winch, S. Woolf, J.G. Witt, R.V. Williams, Shiress Will, J.E. Wilkins (formerly Her Majesty's Consul at Chicago), R.S. Wright, G.F. Williams, Van Wagner (of the American Bar), and A. Young and S.H. Day (honorary secretaries). After the toast of "The Queen" had been drunk with the usual warmth, The Attorney-General rose to propose the toast of the evening, "The Health of Mr Benjamin" - and was received with great cheering. He spoke as follows: - My Lords and Gentlemen, - A second time it is my duty on behalf of our profession to welcome a distinguished guest. Eighteen months ago the Bar of England made acknowledgement of the worth and character of a great Judge; tonight the Bench and Bar unite to bid welcome and to wish God speed to an old and valued comrade. (Loud cheers). Remarkable and unprecedented as this gathering is, still the causes which have occasioned it are easy to tell. Yet to trace them we must recall some 18 years that are past. It was then that the close of a great struggle had been reached. The strife of a nation had ceased. Some whom fortune had deserted found no longer a home in their own land. Among them was one who had taken a foremost part in that struggle. Civilian jurist as he was, while he had not carried, yet he had lived within the sound of, arms. And thus he had to bear the usual lot of vanquished men. Little save honour, reputation, and great gifts remained to him. And so passing from his old home and starting on the journey of a new life, he turned towards the people among whom his fathers had dwelt. (Loud cheers.) Even already all that I need tell you seems told, for you know the rest. (Cheers.) You know how Mr Benjamin came among us and how we have received him. Ejectum littore egentem accepimus, but no regret, no self-reproach has ever come to us for having given him place within our kingdom. He knocked at our doors and they were wide opened to him. We found place for him in our foremost rank, we grudged him not the leadership he so easily gained - we were proud of his success (cheers), for we knew the strength of the stranger among us, and the Bar is ever generous even in its rivalry towards success that is based on merit. (Cheers.) And the merit must have been there, for who is the man save this one of whom it can be said that he held conspicuous leadership at the Bars in two countries? To him this change of citizenship and transition in his profession seemed easy enough. From the first days of his coming he was one of us. We had been taught by the same teachers, Coke and Blackstone; Kent and Story had been, or at least ought to have been, our common guides, and it may be that the broad view of jurisprudence which Mr Benjamin ever displayed taught us to know that it was not from English juries alone that a true exposition of our law was to be gathered. (Cheers.) But he was one of us not only in this common knowledge. The honour of the English Bar was as much cherished and represented by him as by any man who has ever adorned it, and we all feel that if hospitality our profession has afforded him he has repaid it, amply repaid it, not only by the reputation which his learning has brought to us, but by that which is more important, the honour his conduct has gained for us. (Cheers.) But he became one of us in fuller spirit yet, not only the lawyer but the man was of us. (Cheers.) Rivalry with him seemed to create rather than disturb friendship, and it was within the walls of our Courts that Mr Benjamin first found those friends who sit around him tonight. (Cheers.) And how strange and quick must have been his power to make them! Mr Benjamin sees here no small gathering of men who have come in friendship to his side. To other men it may be given also to have many friendships, but they take a lifetime to form. They commence in childhood and strengthen and increase as life goes on. The years are few since Mr Benjamin was a stranger to us all, and in those few years he has accomplished more than most men can ever hope in a lifetime to achieve. But while these strange circumstances and great qualities have brought us here, it is not enough to speak only of the years that Mr Benjamin has passed among us. Time, unduly aided by accident, has warned our guest that it is wise he should leave us. But years, many years, yet, it is our earnest hope, are in store for him - years which perfect rest will afford him health to enjoy - years which the reflection of a life well led and duty well done will render contented and happy. May we not hoe and ask that among those reflections this evening's scene will sometimes be recalled, and that the friends who have thus delighted to show him honour shall not be absent from his mind and thoughts? My lords and gentlemen, for many reasons, one being that our guest wished it, I have studied brevity to-night. My part in this welcome is thus poorly played. It is for you to prove its warmth and sincerity, and I ask you one and all - from you, my Lord Chancellor, to the veriest junior among us - now to show our guest that, as in past times our welcome to him was earnest and true, so now our hopes for his future life come with like sincerity from our hearts. (Loud cheers.) The toast having been warmly received, Mr Benjamin, on rising to return thanks, was received with loud cheering. He said, - Dear and honoured Friends, - I trust you will pardon me for thus addressing you. It is the only term which will embrace you all. (Cheers.) I feel embarrassed beyond measure by the conflict of emotions I feel in the effort to address you. I cannot for an instant attempt to disguise the feelings of joy, of gratification, excited in my heart by the cordial, the generous reception you have been pleased to give to the ill-merited but eloquent eulogium of my friend the Attorney-General. (Cheers.) Still more I am embarrassed by the occasion which has given rise to this meeting. The feelings of joy and gratification are counterbalanced - more than counterbalanced - by the reflection, unutterably sad, that to the large majority of those present my farewell words to-night are a final earthly farewell - that to the large majority of you I shall never again be cheered by the smiling welcome, by the hearty hand-grasp, with which I have been greeted during many years, and which had become to me almost the very breath of my life. (Cheers.) It was on the 16th of December, 1832, that I was first called to the Bar; and on the 7th of December last I had accomplished 50 years of professional life, when I left London for the purpose of enjoying a few weeks' Christmas vacation, without the remotest idea that I was not to resume professional labours. But an insidious malady, which had been gradually though imperceptibly undermining my strength, suddenly assumed an acute phase, and I was condemned, by medical mandate, to absolute repose. I was told it was no longer possible for me to pursue an active professional life, and that any excitement might at any moment prove fatal; and I received a firm intimation that I could not hope for any cure so effectual as to enable me at any future time to resume active exertion in the profession. In a word, I was pronounced a confirmed invalid, with possibly some uncertain extension of life, but solely on the condition of absolute repose and refraining from all possible excitement. I need hardly say to an audience like this that to tell me or any person of a nature like mine to abstain from all possible excitement is to tell him to cease the active exercise of the profession; for without the ardour of forensic contest what is the profession worth? (Cheers.) It therefore only remained for me to submit, as best I might, to the medical interdict against active exertion. Of course the first thought was to return my briefs to my clients that they might be able to retain other counsel, and thus to make know my intention of retirement. No sooner was this made known - it is impossible for me to describe the emotion with which I received the shower of letters which arrived by every post from clients, from my brethren at the Bar, from gentlemen who adorned the judicial bench - on all sides expressions of the warmest regret and sympathy with which they received the announcement of my enforced retirement. (Cheers.) I am not ashamed to say that I was compelled sometimes to shed tears on reading the expressions of kindness and regret when I received them. (Cheers.) Of course it is out of the question for me to enter into detail in matters of this sort. But this I will say - that from many members of the junior branch of the Bar I received expressions of the warmest acknowledgment for services rendered to them of which I was utterly unconscious; but of this I am sure - that any kindness I may have shown to any junior member of the Bar has been but the feeblest and faintest acknowledgment of the kindness and cordial welcome I have received since I first came among you - from all the members of the profession, from the Bench and the Bar, on every possible occasion on which there was an opportunity of exercising kindness to me (Cheers.) It is of course impossible for me to recall here in public what it would be easy for me to do, if I could permit myself thus to recall the memory of past kindnesses which exist vividly in my memory and will always be recorded by it with feelings of the most affectionate gratitude. (Cheers.) I pass them by, but I trust you will permit me to say a few words of those who have passed away since my first arrival among you (cheers) - Lord Justice Turner (cheers), Lord Justice Giffard (cheers), Lord Hatherley, then Vice-Chancellor Wood (cheers), and the late Chief Baron Kelly. (Cheers.) These concurred in insisting that I should be dispensed with the regular three years of "terms," and that I should be at once called to the Bar. I speak only of those who have passed away, and I cannot express the great debt of gratitude I owe to them. (Cheers.) I look around me and I see friends who have shown me kindness from the first moment when I came among you. (Cheers.) I speak not of them, however, but of those who insisted on my being at once called to the Bar; and on my first circuit, when I had for my leader the present Master of the Rolls, before the late Lord Justice Lush, to whom I had not then the honour of being known, that learned judge wrote me immediately a kind and affectionate note, congratulating me on seeing me holding my first brief, and expressing a hope that it would be the precursor of many more. (Cheers.) I had no reason to suppose that he even knew me, and yet he was prompt to recognize that a word from him would be of inestimable value to me at that time as an encouragement. (Cheers.) Among the leaders of the Northern Circuit I of course see around me many from whom I received kindness; but I speak only of the dead, and among those were Stephen Temple, Edward James, Quain, and my dear old friend the lamented Holker, who was then rapidly making his way to the first rank in the profession, and who proffered me his friendly services, with the ardour of that warm and affectionate nature which made him so universally beloved. (Cheers.) And then there was that great Judge, the late Master of the Rolls (cheers), whose premature decease is still deplored by all England as a national loss. (Cheers.) In the very last week of his existence while suffering intensely and continuously, while in spite of suffering he was devoting himself with superhuman energy to the duties of his high office, he actually found time to write me a long letter full of kindness and sympathy, assuring me of his regard and wishing me a long and happy life in my enforced retirement. To that letter I wrote an answer, mentioning that I had seen in all the papers allusions to the state of his health and to the failures of his physical powers, and, assuming that these were merely premonitory symptoms, that he was overworking his system, I wrote imploring him to take a respite so as to enable him to resume his labours with renovated strength. I do not know whether he ever received that letter. It could not have reached him until the Saturday. And on the Monday I was shocked by the news of his death. Why do I dwell on these topics? Because from the Bar of England I never, so far as I am aware, received anything but warm and kindly welcome. (Cheers.) I never had occasion to feel that any one regarded me as an intruder. (Cheers.) I never felt a touch of professional jealousy. (Cheers.) I never received any unkindness; on the contrary, from all quarters I received a warm and cordial welcome to which, as a stranger, I had no title, except that I was a political exile, seeking by honourable labour to retrieve shattered fortunes wrecked in the ruin of a lost cause. (Cheers.) This is a theme on which I could dwell for hours, endeared as it is to me by reminiscences which will never fade away from my mind. But I am warned that I must not go on, and that excitement, however pleasurable it may be in thus recalling past times and passages in my career at the Bar, however pleasing the excitement may be, I am warned that it is a pleasure in which I must not indulge, and, therefore, I must conclude by thanking you all from the bottom of my heart for the kind reception you have given me ever since I first came among you down to this magnificent testimonial the recollection of which will never fade from my memory, and on which I shall always love to dwell. (Cheers.) I thank you all. (Cheers.) Dr. Deane proposed the toast of "The Bench," and adverted to the great changes that had taken place in the constitution of the Bench in recent years. The old high judicial offices had passed away. Titles and dignities had vanished, but the men remained the same. The Lord Chancellor, - On behalf of the members of the Bench who are present I have to thank you for the manner in which you have received the toast so kindly proposed by my old friend and school fellow, Dr. Deane. You know far better than I can tell you how intimate the connexion is between the Bench and the Bar. I cannot admit that any recent changes have made any but nominal differences between the Bench of the present day and the Bench in the times of our illustrious predecessors, or between the relations of the Bench to the Bar. We have all spent the best years of our lives at the Bar (cheers), and we all, from the comparative calmness of our present position, look back - sometimes, I must confess, with fond regret - to the days when we were partakers of the manifold interests, the keen intellectual contests, and the generous rivalries of the Bar. (Cheers.) We never can feel otherwise than identified with those at the Bar who now discharge those duties which formerly were ours, and from who our successors must come. (Cheers.) We also see in the Bar those upon whom we depend for constant assistance, and for constant and most necessary forbearance in the discharge of our duties, and we thank them for the manner in which they help us by that forbearance, and their indulgence for our shortcomings. (Cheers.) If I had to speak of Mr Benjamin only as an English barrister as I have known him from the Bench, I should say that no man, within my recollection, has possessed greater learning or displayed greater shrewdness or ability, or greater zeal for the interests intrusted to him, than he has exhibited. (Cheers.) To these high qualities he has united one still higher, and Whig I think has always been a characteristic of the English, and not only of the English Bar but the Bar of every part of Great Britain - the highest sense of honour (cheers), united with the greatest kindness and generosity (cheers), and the greatest geniality in his intercourse with all the branches of the profession. (Loud cheers.) That we should no longer have the benefit of his assistance and the light of his example is a loss to us all. (Cheers.) Notwithstanding the full justice which has been done to the subject by my friend the Attorney-General, perhaps I may be permitted to refer to one other peculiar feature of this great occasion. We are not only here to express our regard and respect for a man who has stood in the most conspicuous position at the head of the working English Bar, but we recognize the cosmopolitan character of our profession in all countries, and especially in countries of the English-speaking race. It is very nearly 20 years since I filled the office now so worthily filled by my honourable and excellent friend the Attorney-General. (Cheers.) I had been called upon to represent, as he has done to-day, the Bar of England when we entertained the most remarkable and distinguished advocate of the French Bar - M. Berryer; and I felt that it was a proud privilege to recognize on that occasion the services which the Bar had rendered in all civilized countries to the cause of liberty and the cause of justice. (Cheers.) Mr Benjamin reminds us by the circumstances of his very remarkable career of our union with the members of our own profession in that greets country the United States of America, whose divisions we deplored and, as they have ended, may now forget. (Cheers.) We are one with them. They have inherited our laws and our traditions; they help us to carry out the best of those laws and the best part of those traditions, by which we recognize in them the same qualities which we venerate in our own illustrious predecessors, of which they are proud; and we received from them one of the men who in our own time has most illuminated and adorned the profession of the Bar of England. (Cheers.) Lord Coleridge, Lord Chief Justice of England, in proposing the toast of "The Bar of England," said, - If I were to attempt to handle one tithe of the subjects which the toast I have to propose calls up into the mind, my address would be long indeed. But I need not enter into such topics as the honour, the eloquence, the integrity, and learning of the bar - we know them - they may be taken for granted - they have almost passed into proverbs. In the very few words with which I shall preface this toast I desire to choose only two characteristics of the Bar, both well known, but which it occurs to me the occasion makes it peculiarly proper to insist upon. I mean the independence of the Bar (cheers), and its great and unrivalled generosity. (Cheers.) It is easy enough in these times to be independent - indeed, not to be independent is somewhat of a discredit. But in former times, and in other times, it was not quite so easy to be independent. (Cheers.) It was not quite so easy in the days when Hale offered to defend Charles I; when Somers did defend the seven Bishops, and when Erskine, at the risk and indeed with the actual loss of office, defended Tom Paine, and when between the "United Irishmen" and the scaffold there stood only the courage and the eloquence of Curran! (Cheers.) But I believe that if the occasion occurred again the Bar would never be deterred from the exercise of their high privileges by any sense of danger. (Cheers.) It never has been so, and it never will be. (Cheers.) On a great occasion - to which the Lord Chancellor has referred - I remember M. Berryer saying that even under Louis Napoleon the last refuge of French liberty was in the French Bar. (Cheers.) And I know that even the Bourbon tyranny of Naples, though it fettered, perhaps, yet it could not silence the eloquence of Italian advocates. (Cheers.) But it is perhaps one of the more attractive characteristics of the Bar which occasions such as this bring more into prominence - I mean its matchless generosity. (Cheers.) I know of no profession which upon the whole is so generous in its conduct and its judgments. (Cheers.) There is none in which the competition is so keen; there is none in which the struggle between man and man is, from various inevitable circumstances, so intensely personal; and yet there is no profession in which there is such fast friendship between professional rivals. (Cheers.) Here and there, it is true, you may meet with exceptions; you may meet men not generous, who treasure up the sense of defeat, who are gloomy over differences, whom no success sweetens, and whom disappointment embitters; but these are entirely exceptions. (Cheers.) I hope no one will suppose me guilty of a silly vanity if I venture to allude to my own experience as an example. Many of you know that the whole course of my professional life was spent in contest with a man much greater than myself; all my life at the Bar was spent in fighting John Karslake (cheers), and yet between John Karslake and myself not only was there never any quarrel, but there was on the contrary the most cordial and most intimate friendship. (Cheers.) I believe that it is so now, that it has always been so, and I trust it will always be so. (Cheers.) But if I wanted an instance to point to I should say, look at Mr Benjamin. (Cheers). He came among us as a foreigner, in mature life, with great and known celebrity, yet he has told us how he was received, and he knows that from no single member of the profession, high or low, was there ever one spark of jealousy at the unrivalled success which he so speedily attained, both on his circuit and in Westminster-hall. (Cheers.) He knows we were all proud of him. He knows that with a unanimity remarkable even in this generous profession, Bench and Bar have met with enthusiastic cordiality to do him honour. (Cheers.) I am told by a learned friend of mine, older than myself, and who knows everything, that 40 years ago some similar honour was intended for - though, as it happened, it could not be actually received by - Story. Forty years have elapsed, and we pay such an honour to one more distinguished than Story (cheers); but whom we think of here as an English barrister and an Englishman. (Loud cheers.) I think that you all well know that to stand well with the profession, to enjoy its good opinion, is the dearest wish of the heart, and that to attain it is the greatest success that any barrister or judge can enjoy. (Cheers.) I propose, then, as a toast "The English Bar." But whose name shall I couple with it? My learned friend the Attorney-General is the recognized head of the Bar; but it is the blessing of this country that political differences never affect personal esteem. (Cheers.) And in place of the Attorney-General, who has already addressed you, I will give you the name of one who, since Sir John Holker's lamented departure, is the Attorney-General's predecessor, and probable successor. (Cheers and laughter.) I give you, then, Sir Hardinge Giffard (cheers), my old friend of Oxford days (cheers) with whom I have fought many a battle, and with whom I have had many a pleasant day (cheers), and who, if he would only take a sounder view of politics (cheers and laughter) would be really a most admirable man. (Cheers and laughter.) No one is so fit to return thanks for the Bar except only the Attorney-General himself, and the toast could not be responded to better than by Sir Hardinge Giffard. (Cheers.) Sir Hardinge Giffard, in responding to the compliment, declared that he did so only as the representative of the Attorney-General, who was the head of the Bar, and he added emphatically that he believed the English Bar would never be properly represented except by its legitimate head. The company then separated.'
Newspaper Cutting (The Times) 9th of May, 1884: 'Mr Benjamin, Q.C. One of the most remarkable careers came to an end on Tuesday by the death of Mr Judah Philip Benjamin. His parents were English Jews; he was born in the West Indian island of St. Croix; was an attorney of Louisiana, Senator of the United States, and Secretary of State for the Southern Confederation; became an English journalist, barrister, Queen's Counsel, and Bencher of Lincoln's-inn; and at length took up his residence in Paris, where he died. His life was as various as an Eastern tale and he carved out for himself by his own unaided exertions not one but three several histories of great and well-earned distinction. The secret of this remarkable success is told in a few pregnant words by a leader of men, who gave practical effect to the highest possible estimate of Mr Benjamin's ability. "Mr Benjamin," writes Jefferson Davis, in his "Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," the reasons by which he was guided in choosing each member of his Cabinet, "had impressed me with the lucidity of his intellect, his systematic habits, and capacity for labour." But to these qualities must be added indomitable faith in the future, and a courage which no reverses could damp. The starts in their courses fought Judah Benjamin, but he struggled on till the sun, "in which he loved," he said, "to bask like a lizard," came out and gave him new prosperity. Mr Francis Galton has shown that legal ability is hereditary, as is indicated by the names of the Montagus, the Norths, the Coleridges, the Pollocks, and the Denmans; no less inherited is that elastic resistance to evil fortune which preserved Mr Benjamin's ancestors through a succession of exiles and plunderings, and reappeared in the Minister of the Confederate cause, together with the same refined apprehension of legal problems which informed the subtleties of the Talmud. Judah Philip Benjamin's parents, having resolved to seek their fortune in the New World, set out in 1811 for New Orleans. Before reaching the Gulf of Mexico they learned that the Mississippi was blockaded by a British fleet, although war had not yet been officially declared, and the famous duel between the Chesapeake and the Shannon did not occur till two years later. The ship out into St. Croix, which is now a Danish island, but was then in the possession of Great Britain. Here Judah Benjamin was born and spent the first four years of his life. His birth as a British subject was recognized when, more than 50 years later, he was called to the Bar in London. The family settled at Wilmington, in North Carolina. The son attended Yale College from the age of 14, but left three years later without taking a degree. He went into an attorney's office in New Orleans in 1832, studied law, took pupils, and compiled a digest of the reported cases in the local court. This laborious work was undertaken for his own use, but became known in the office, was called for and freely lent (for Mr Benjamin was always one of the most generous and kindly of men) every day. Then his friend Thomas Slidell joined him in extending its scope, and the two young authors brought out the first systematic collection of the law as applied in New Orleans. It was called a "Digest of the Reported Decisions of the Superior Court of the late Territory of Orleans, and of the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana." Roman, Spanish, and French as well as English law, and the acts and judgments of the local authorities, are discussed in its pages; and the book gives some idea of the width of observation upon which Mr Benjamin could afterwards draw in formulating the principles of jurisprudence. Thomas Slidell alone re-edited the work in 1840. Benjamin was already too busy to remain a text-writer. His clear, silvery voice was heard, and his figure, short but strong, on which was set a resolute, square face, animated by piercing eyes beaming with intelligence, was seen constantly in the courts. He had also thrown himself into politics, became what was called a Whig, and on the disruption of the party joined the Democrats. New Orleans was the great emporium of the cotton trade, and Benjamin took the front rank among the lawyers by whom the rights of planters and merchants were adjusted and determined. In 1847 Sutter found the Californian gold mines, and a crowd of Mexicans rushed to pick up the flakes of gold, shouting "Oro! Oro!" The year before the country had been annexed by the United States, and after the manner of their kind land-grabbers from the East had bought up the best lands, which otherwise would have become the property of the United States. The Republic appointed a Commission to investigate the intricate Spanish titles under which the speculators claimed. Benjamin and Reverdy Johnson went as counsel before the Commission, having $25,000 each on their briefs. Benjamin was impressed by the natural wealth of the soil, irrespective of the auriferous resources which gave such an impetus to its development. What seemed yellow dunes stretched all along the shore as they passed up in their steamer. "Look closer," said one who knew the country, "do you see those black specks on the yellow?" He had to own that they seemed to him like cattle grazing. "Did you ever see cattle grazing on sand"? he was asked. Those yellow banks are hills covered with Indian corn, which here grows wild, and the cattle are feeding on the maize." He ate peaches in California from a tree which had been planted only 18 months before, and had every reason to anticipate the great future which the State has now obtained. Mr Benjamin's earnings in New Orleans were on the whole less than when at the English Bar. His annual professional gains never exceeded £16,000 in America, and he had to share these fees with two partners; all lawyers in America being in theory solicitors and barristers at one and the same time, though in practice in the large cities one member of the firm is the advocate and the others occupy themselves with details out of court. In England for two or three years he made a sum approximating to £15,000, without any necessity for division, his clerk being automatically provided for by the custom which gives an independent fee to the barrister's man of business. In 1852 Benjamin was elected a member of the Senate of the United States, the August body which controls the foreign affairs of the Republic. When, in 1857, he was again returned, his colleague was John Slidell, whose seizure with Mason, while they were on their way in a British steamer from America to Europe on a mission on behalf of the Confederate Government, came near to involve Great Britain in the struggle. Charles Sumner, who was invariably opposed to Benjamin in the Senate, rated his eloquence above that of any other speaker, and of his address on the last day of the year 1860, when he justified the doctrine of State rights and avowed his adhesion to the cause of Secession Sir George Cornewall Lewis said, "It is better than our Benjamin (Disraeli) could have done." Meanwhile, Mr Benjamin had been offered by Franklin Pierce, during his Presidency of the United States from 1853 to 1857, the post of a Judge of the Supreme Court, and had declined the appointment. On February 4, 1861, he withdrew from the Senate, left Washington hastily, and was appointed by Jefferson Davis Attorney-General in the provisional Government of the Southern Confederacy. In August there was a temporary vacancy in the responsible and trying post of Secretary of War. Benjamin was appointed Acting Secretary and fulfilled the duties of the office till February, 1862, when the Cabinet was re-organized, and a permanent Secretary named. Mr Davis then nominated Benjamin Secretary of State, and he held that post till Sherman's famous march of 2,600 miles to the sea broke up the Confederate cause, and the leaders fled. The defeat saved Benjamin's life. It was the habit of the Confederate chief to send to the Secretary of State everything which was not strictly within the province of some other Minister. As difficulties increased, so did the labours of the Secretary. He went down to the office at 8 a.m., and remained there, with very brief intervals, till 1 and 2 in the morning. He would have broken down, he has said, if he had not been relieved. Strange stories were told of his adventures in the general debacle. After many hair-breadth escapes he got in an open boat, old and leaky, from Florida to the Bahamas, where he landed. He was shipwrecked on his way to Nassau, in a vessel laden with sponges. A British man-of-war rescued the unfortunate passengers and carried them to St. Thomas. The steamer in which he started from this island caught fire and had to put back. At length Mr Benjamin reached England. He had, of course, lost his fortune, with the exception of a few hundreds - at the most three thousand - pounds. The victorious Government naturally proceeded to confiscate such property as he had been unable to remit to England, but a small parcel of real estate was overlooked, and many years afterwards (in 1883) he told a friend that he had just sold a piece of land his interest in which the United States Government had failed to discover. The war was over in 1865. On January 13, 1866, Benjamin entered at Lincoln's-inn. The young men who came up from Oxford and Cambridge to eat their dinners in hall that Hilary term saw a grizzled man, old enough to be their father, who had, after four years of the fiercest fights, unremitting labour, and the exercise of great power, just escaped with his life, and now sat quietly down to qualify himself to earn his bread, worked at the library, and entered as a pupil the chambers of Mr Charles Pollock. By the influence of Lords Justices Turner and Giffard, of Page Wood (Lord Hatherley) and Sir Fitzroy Kelly, the secretary of the Confederacy was dispensed from the regular three years of unprofitable dining, and called to the Bar in Trinity term (June 6) 1866. Thus, at the age of 55, Mr Benjamin became an English barrister, joined the old Northern Circuit, and immediately got briefs from Liverpool lawyers, who knew from their American correspondence what a word of power was the name of Judah Benjamin in New Orleans, Washington, and Richmond. His first leader was Sir W.B. Brett, now Master of the Rolls. On his first circuit the new counsel received a note from the late Lord Justice Lush. who congratulated him on holding his first brief, and hoped it would be the precursor of many more. Meanwhile Overend Gurney's bank had failed; the wreck of Mr Benjamin's fortune had gone with it, and he was writing articles for a bare livelihood. The story of his rise is too recent to be circumstantially told. In 1868 he published his classical work, "A Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property, with reference to the American decisions, to the French code and civil law," commonly called "Benjamin on Sale." It was, as he explained in his preface, an attempt to develop the principles applicable to all branches of the subject, while following "Blackburn on Sale" as a model for guidance in the treatment of such topics as are embraced in the work. The book commanded immediate attention. It was not a crude collection of decisions, as such publications too often are. It was a reasoned and orderly presentment of the law, a discussion of its principles, accompanied by illustrations from the best of the reported cases, and a merciless rejection of those which were repugnant to general rules. It is said that Baron Martin would never take his seat without this vade mecum of the commercial lawyer beside him on the bench. It had a great success both in England and America. A new edition by the author was issued in 1873, and in 1883 there appeared a third edition by Messrs. Pearson and Boyd. It was Mr Benjamin's intention to have revised his last edition throughout as it passed through the press, and he had accordingly read and approved it up to the chapter on Delivery when his health gave way, and he was interdicted by his physicians from any further work. Having been admitted a Palatine "silk" for Lancashire, it was understood that he had applied without success for rank at the large creation of Queen's Counsel in January, 1872; but a few months later he argued "Potter v. Rankin" in the House of Lords, and it was said at the time that Lord Hatherley was so impressed with the ability of his argument that he at once ordered a patent of precedence to be made out. Mr Benjamin's rank as leader accordingly dated from 1872, immediately after that of the present Solicitor-General, Sir Farrer Herschell. When he first settled in London he practised in all the courts, and made many masterly addresses to juries; but in the very peculiar and difficult art of examining and cross-examining witnesses and managing a case at Nisi Prius, he did not shine. This requires a special experience of the peculiar class of jurymen who are to be influenced; no one, for example, can read a speech of Demosthenes without acknowledging that what was very convincing at Athens would merely disgust a juror at Temple-bar. But in arguments before the Court which depended on the scientific treatment of legal questions Mr Benjamin's superiority became early established. After a few years he confined himself to these. "Anson v. the North-Western Railway" was his last case at Nisi Prius. Thenceforward he restricted himself to the Court in Banc or Courts of Appeal, but was likewise often taken into Chancery to argue before an Equity Judge. Still later, feeling the absolute necessity of restricting his exertions, Mr Benjamin refused to go into any court other than the House of Lords and the Privy Council except for a fee of 100 guineas, and a client having demanded a consultation at his own house, the fee of 300 guineas was fixed. The Privy Council was, perhaps, his favourite tribunal; his wide acquaintance with foreign systems of law qualified him in an eminent degree to deal with the cases from the colonies and dependencies of Great Britain which come before the Judicial Committee in Downing-street. His great faculty was that of argumentative statement. He would so put his case, without in the least departing from candour, that it seemed impossible to give judgment except in one way. It must be confessed that this was a dangerous power, and sometimes imposed on himself. His "opinions" were, in consequence, sometimes unduly sanguine, or at least seemed so in cases which he had not the opportunity of arguing himself. When he did argue he often justified by his advocacy advice which had seemed the hardiest. "The Franconia" was perhaps the best-known of his cases. It dealt, to some extent, with international law, in which, having been not only a lawyer but a statesman, he was at home; but it was a criminal case, and so of a class with which he was not usually concerned. More characteristic examples will be revealed by a glance at the columns of The Times between 1872 and 1883, or by dipping into the pages of the "Appeal Cases." Here we find him arguing questions about bills of exchange, a husband's liability for his wife's debts ("Debenham v. Mellon"), the duties of the charterer of a ship, the explicit rights of the Caledonian and North British Railways under their Acts, the re-opening of accounts closed in New Zealand nine years before, the perjury of Thomas Castro, otherwise Arthur Orton, otherwise Sir Roger Tichborne, &c. Once he is recorded to have come into collision with a Court, and once only, and the story may now be told because the end of it reflects honour on both concerned. He objected, and very naturally, to the interruptions of judges, who often make it extremely difficult to maintain any connected argument. A very learned lord having more than once interposed, met a proposition of Mr Benjamin's with the ejaculation "Monstrous!" Mr Benjamin tied up his papers, bowed, and retired from the House of Lords. The junior proceeded with the argument. The noble lord, with his usual generosity, publicly sent a conciliatory message to Mr Benjamin, and Mr Horace Davey, who was second counsel, was heard in reply, although the practice of the House of Lords was thus infringed upon, two counsel having already been heard on that side. The difference was afterwards entirely composed. It happened that when it was fresh Mr Evarts, the American lawyer, was in England, was entertained by Mr Benjamin at the Continental Hotel, and heard the story. He immediately capped it with one from America, which does not show any superiority in the manner of advocates in the States. Interruption was, however, in this American court still less justifiable, because the advocates are there only allowed an hour each to state their case in. Counsel being often interrupted in a difficult case, at last stopped, and facing the bench said, "I have told your honours that this is a puzzling case, and I am afraid it will be made even more so if your honours put more puzzling questions than the facts themselves." Mr Benjamin had long struggled against diabetes and a weakness of the action of the heart. He was accustomed to go over to Paris, sometimes at the end of every week, at other times in short vacations which he took. Here his wife and daughter resided, the latter married to Capitaine de Boursignac. In 1880 he fell from a tramcar in Paris, and his health was observed to suffer from that date. At Christmas, 1882, he left town for the French capital, as usual, was forbidden by his doctors to return, and his briefs went back to the clients. His professional brethren invited him to a grand banquet in the Inner Temple Hall, over which the Attorney-General presided as leader of the bar, while the Lord Chancellor (the Earl of Selborne) and Lord Coleridge, as well as Sir H. James, made memorable speeches. But the most affecting of all was Mr Benjamin's farewell, framed with great rhetorical beauty, but spoken in terms of the deepest sadness, to England. Those who pressed his hand on that occasion felt, as he warned them himself, that they grasped it for the last time. He has spent the intervening months in Paris, in the house which he built for his own pleasure on the Avenue d'Jena. Here her waited for the east winds, which proved so fatal this year, to pass away. He saw the first green leaves of the spring unfold, wrote "he feared he should soon be confined to one room," and at length has realized the presentiment. His life in Paris was spent among the loving cares of those who owed all to him. His life in London was the simple existence of a bachelor in chambers, or in St. James's. He would dine at the Junior Athenaeum, stroll with a cigar in his mouth into the billiard-room or the card-room, to see "the boys," as he called his juniors, play, and sometimes engage in a game himself. He was a skilful player at most games. He never, unless very hard pressed, worked after dinner, and he would postpone his dinner till 9 if he could do by so doing get through his tasks before the time for digestion came. If that was impossible he dined at 7 or 8, resumed work at 10, and sat up till 2. He rose at 8, finding it impossible, as he confessed, to get up, as some lawyers have done, at 5 to go through his briefs. This was the manner of life of one of the hardest workers and one of the ablest, and at the same time most amiable and unassuming, men of his time. He remained faithful to what he called "the lost cause," and no one who claimed his bounty on the ground of losses suffered in the great Civil War went empty away.'
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