Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/35

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ments on the- cast's of Ross v. Vcrtner, 5 How., 305; Vick et a/, v. tin- .J//r< >/ <;//</ Aldtnncn of 1'it'^ffntrff, i How., 381; and the Plan- Hank v. Snodgrass etal, he will I think, concur in this opinion.

"Anecdote, an- n<t wanting to show that even in the Supreme Court he argued soim- cases of great importance without knowing anything about them till the argument was commenced. One of these savors of the ludicrous. Mr. Pn-ntis.x was retained, as asso- ciate counsel, with Mr. (now General) M , at that time one of

the most promising, as now one of the most distinguished, lawyers in the State. During the sesssion of the Supreme Court at which

the case was to come up, Mr. M called Mr. P.'s attention. to the

case and proposed examining the record together; but for some reason this was deferred for some time. At last it was agreed to examine into the case the night before the day set for the hearing.

At the appointed time Prentiss could not be found. Mr. M was

in great perplexity. The case was of great importance; there were able opposing counsel, and his client and himself had trusted greatly to Mr. P.'s assistance. Prentiss appeared in the court-room when the case was called up. The junior counsel opened the case, read- ing slowly from the record all that was necessary to give a clear per- ception of its merits, and made the points and read the authorities he had collected. The counsel on the other side replied. Mr. P. rose to rejoin. The junior could scarcely conceal his apprehensions. But there was no cloud on the brow of the speaker; the conscious- ness of his power and approaching victory sat on his face. He commenced, as he always did, by stating clearly the case and the questions raised by the facts. He proceeded to establish the propo- sitions he contended for, by their reason, by authorities and collateral analogies, and to illustrate them from his copious resources of com- parison. He took up, one by one, the arguments of the other side, and showed their fallacy; he examined the authorities relied upon in the order in which they were introduced, and showed their inapplica- bility and the distinction between the facts of the cases reported and those in the case at bar. Then, returning to the authorities of his colleague, he showed how clearly, in application and principle, they supported his own argument. When he had sat down his colleague declared that Prentiss had taught him more of the case than he had gathered from his own researches and reflection.

" Mr. Prentiss had scarcely passed a decade from his majority when he was the idol of Mississippi. While absent from the State his name was brought before the people for Congress, the State then