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PROCEEDINGS HAD IN THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS, AT OTTAWA,
ON THE 21ST DAY OF OCTOBER, 1890, BEING OF THE
OCTOBER TERM OF THAT YEAR.
The Hon. CORYDON BECKWITH, formerly one of the Justices of this Court, died at Chicago, on August 18, 1890. At the October Term, 1890, held at Ottawa, on the 21st day of October, the following proceedings were had, the following members of the Court being present: John SCHOLFIELD, Chief Justice; Joseph M. BAILEY, ALFRED M. CRAIG, BENJAMIN D. MAGRUDER, DAVID J. BAKER, SIMEON P. SHOPE and JACOB W. WILKIN, Justices.
HENRY S. MONROE, Esq., addressed the Court:
If your Honors please--The duty has devolved upon me, as a member of the Chicago bar, to present to this court the memorial adopted at its meeting held in honor of our brother, and former associate justice of this court, the Hon. CORYDON BECKWITH. With the permission of the court, I will read the memorial :
“We, the members of the Chicago bar, have learned with profound regret of the death of our brother, the Hon. CORYDON BECKWITH, and, prompted by our regard and affection for him, have met to give ex
pression to our feelings, and record our estimate of his abilities as a lawyer and a jurist, his character as a man and a citizen, and his qualities as a friend.
“He was born, reared and educated in the State of Vermont, and there commenced the practice of his profession. He came to Chicago in 1853. The State was new, its population small, and our city hardly more than a thriving frontier town, and the great questions upon which their prosperity depended, to a large extent remained to be settled. Few men, from natural powers of mind or education, were better fitted to comprehend them, and their bearings upon the prosperity of our city and State, than he. He was a man of great physical strength, of a strong and vigorous mind, of amazing powers of labor and investigation, and of a wonderful memory, particularly for elementary principles. He had most carefully studied the fundamental principles of our jurisprudence, had traced the current of the common law from its source, and clearly understood what it had done for the English race.
In tracing that history, he was led to the investigation of the origin of our equity jurisprudence, studied its development, and mastered the principles of civil law which lay at its foundation and had inspired and instructed its chancellors. He studied the departures from the common law which had taken place in this country, either from changes of condition or by force of statutes, and the additions to. equitable jurisdiction caused by changes in the methods of business, by inventions, the introduction of steam, and the great corporate enterprises which followed. Hence he brought to the investigation of the great questions which arose during that marvelous period of growth and development which followed his settlement here, a power of mind and profundity of knowledge surpassed by none in the State or Nation.
"It is impossible in this memorial to give even a brief synopsis of his life and work in Chicago; but it is proper to state, that no man in Illinois has occupied a more honorable and conspicuous position as a lawyer, or had greater influence in molding and developing the jurisprudence of the State, than he. No one has more ably represented his clients, or to a greater extent commanded the admiration of the bench and bar. He was devoted to his profession, and cared nothing whatever for social notoriety or official position. He had all the qualities requisite for a great jurist, loved the consideration of legal questions, and during the short period he was on the bench of our Supreme Court,
showed marked ability and exerted great influence; but he was glad to leave it and resume the practice of his profession. He determined all questions submitted to him, not controlled by statute, upon principle, and paid little attention to decisions, knowing that no two cases are alike, and believing that if he had determined rightly he could convince the tribunal which was to decide. Hence he devoted more labor to the investigation of the facts, the relations of the parties to thein and to each other, than to the law of his cases. The decisions of the great judges and chancellors of England, which helped to form and had become a part of our jurisprudence, and of the great judges and chancellors of our own country, who graced the bench during the formative period of our institutions, and taught the people of this free nation that the laws derived from monarchical England were sufficient, under our constitution, to decide all questions involving individual or property rights, had been carefully studied, and were familiar to him, and aided in the conclusions to which he arrived. If he believed he was right, the fact that decisions could be found against him never discouraged him or changed his course, and the fact that there was no precedent for the course he was going to take never prevented his taking it.
“In the management of important and complicated cases, where large interests were at stake and combinations necessary, no man could plan more quickly or correctly, or with more unerring judgment call to his aid lawyers exactly fitted to do what was required. He was in his profession what a great commander is in an army. He was not perhaps considered, and did not wish to be considered, a great trial lawyer; yet few men ever managed important and complicated cases before juries with more skill or greater success than he. He was most careful and laborious in his preparation for trial. He generally managed to get the , confidence of the jury by his able and candid manner of stating his case. He was shrewd and careful in marshaling and presenting his evidence, and his great powers of analysis, and his straightforward, logical and forcible reasoning, generally enabled him to carry away the verdict from more brilliant advocates.
“His distinguishing characteristics as a lawyer were a strong and vigorous mind, great powers of thought and investigation, good common sense, an intuitive judgment which enabled him to grasp the controlling features of his case, great powers of condensation and extraordinary fertility of resource, a profound knowledge of the prin