The Lawyer1 By Hon. C. E. McLaughlin of the Sacramento (Cal.) Bar President of the California Bar Association BUT for human selfishness there would be no necessity for human law. Passion, pride, avarice, ambition, appetite and other manifestations of man's thirst for pleasure, power, and self-gratification constitute the elements ever waging relentless war against the potency of municipal law. Government, necessarily, involves limi tation of mental and physical power to gratify selfish desire, and through the ages men have resisted surrender of any measure of natural advantage. This never-ceasing struggle between human selfishness and human reason is evi denced by the creation and destruction of many governments, the enactment, nullification, and repeal of many codes. Unselfish men, of great ability, have, in all countries at all times, been engaged in an effort to frame and effectuate a perfect system of law protecting the weak from the strong and promoting the general good. But, ever and anon, these efforts have come to naught through the selfishness of individuals. Governments organized to protect and secure human rights have been used by tyrants to increase and intensify human wrongs. Laws beneficent in conception and expression have been converted into instruments for increase and perpetua tion of power established and sustained by imposition, injustice, and cruel op pression. Earnest men have spent their lives passing laws for weal of humankind, 1 Annual address of the President of the California Bar Association, delivered at Fresno, Cal., Nov. 21, 1912.
only to suffer torture, exile, and death at the hands of those in whose behalf they labored. During the existence of the Roman Re public, a struggle between the plebeians and the patricians engrossed the atten tion of Rome's ablest men. The ple beians fought stubbornly for alleviation of their wrongs and vindication of their rights. None seconded their efforts more ably than Spurius Cassius, author of the first great agrarian law. His great ability was exercised in behalf of the plebeians. Yet he was hurled from the Tarpeian rock, and as he fell he heard the cheers of the plebeians applauding his unjust and terrible punishment, secretly contrived by the patricians, whose power he sought to curb. Factions successful in forcing enact ment of laws, limiting exercise of special privileges have, in turn, exercised special privileges, and ruthless perversion has often characterized the conduct of men entrusted with power to enforce right eous laws. The twelve tables of Rome, attesting in every line the wisdom, humanity, and unselfishness of its framers, was law of republican Rome, invoked as warrant for the arrest and condemnation of Virginia, saved from the lust of Appius Claudius by the dagger of her father, who had pleaded in vain for legal redress. Through maladmin istration of this law citizens were de prived of life and despoiled of property with impunity, vice laughed at virtue, and privilege exulted in the wrongs which brought wealth and happiness