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Page:Samuel Scoville -Abraham Lincoln, His Story.djvu/50

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: HIS STORY

human nature, and a broad grasp of legal principles, which finally made him the leader of the Illinois bar, "A stranger going into a court when he was trying a case would after a few minutes find himself instinctively on Lincoln's side and wishing him success." This was the way his methods impressed an associate.

Lincoln's mildness and good humor were habitual, but woe be to him who relied on those qualities to take a wrongful advantage of his client. In a murder case in which he represented the defendant, the judge unexpectedly made a ruling which was contrary to the decisions of the Supreme Court and was most injurious to Lincoln's client. A spectator described what follows: "Lincoln rose to his feet as quick as thought and was the most unearthly looking man imaginable. He roared like a lion roused from his lair and he said and did more things in ten minutes than he ordinarily said and did in an hour."

Perhaps the real secret of his success at the bar can best be summed up by the statement of E. M. Prince, who had seen him try over a hundred cases of all kinds:

Mr. Lincoln had a genius for seeing the real point in a case at once and aiming steadily at it from the beginning of a trial to the end. The issue in most cases lies in very narrow compass, and the really great lawyer disregards everything not directly tending to that issue.