Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/305

This page needs to be proofread.


I'. ll-iij'ini'iH. 301

not until the morning, when in bidding him farewell, he unwittingly remarked, "(iood-by, Mr. Benjamin," that the true state of affairs exposed.

ESCAPE TO THE WEST INDIES.

Eventually he made his way to the Florida coast, embarked in an open boat for the West Indies, and after a series of adventures, which would, in themselves, make a readable book, he landed in Kngland. In a short time he applied for admission to tin- bar, and on his setting up the claim that he was an Englishman, having been born fifty-five years before on British soil, the three years' study re- quired of aliens by law was dispensed with, and he was at once admitted to practice.

Before long his attainments won recognition on every side, and he was made a queen's counsellor. It was while serving in this capacity that Mr. Benjamin did what no other man ever did before, and, prob- ably never will do again he rebuked the House of Lords. He was arguing a case before that august body, when a member supposed to be Lord Cairns ejaculated the single word, " Nonsense!" Mr. Benjamin never moved a muscle, but ceased reading, folded up his brief, and left the hall. The Lords at once sent him an apology, upon which he allowed his junior assistant to return and complete the reading of the argument.

While practicing in the English courts, Mr. Benjamin gave further proof of his manliness and independence. He had occasion to appear before a judge who was notorious for the discourteous manner in which he treated those lawyers who were so unfortunate as to have dealings with him, and who really stood in dread of him. Mr. Benjamin had only begun his argument, when the judge in- formed him quite abruptly that it was useless for him to proceed, a* his mind was already made up. "Your Honor," hotly replied the ex-Confederate, "you, of course, can refuse to hear me argue this case, but I wish to tell you this that never again will I condescend to appear in your court." The judge was so surprised that any bar- rister was bold enough to defy him, that he was at first unable to reply; but, in a moment, he realized that Mr. Benjamin was right, came down from the bench, took him by the hand, apologized, and begged him to proceed, which he did, winning the case. The next \\e<-k, Mr. Benjamin was tendered a banquet for his temerity, by the leading members of the English bar.