Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/22

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The Lawyer fections, he has never framed, and never will frame, a perfect code. Each efforc to control himself by legal enactment will, to some extent, be thwarted by the very attribute he seeks to curb and con trol. Groping blindly, through inability to comprehend his greatest permanent good, the best he can do is to avoid the warning light marking hidden rocks of individual selfishness, strewn with legal wreckage accumulated through the cen turies, melancholy evidence that man is prone to bless or damn law according to the benefit conferred upon him indi vidually. Compelled to rely on men, hav ing natural impulses and weaknesses, to frame, expound, and execute the law, disappointments many and grievous will attend his efforts, for law deals with the great human problem and the universal sin — human selfishness. Great minds of all times and peoples have labored assiduously to solve this great problem. Repeated failure has not daunted, nor base ingratitude discouraged them. Steadily, surely, the great lawyers of ancient and modern times have contin ued to plead and plan for the advantage, security, and benefit of men, most of whom have struggled against each ad vance, repressing or limiting individual desire, appetite, aspiration or passion. The task of the lawyer has ever been difficult, and never have difficulties been greater than now, especially in our own land. Past experience will aid in the solution of ordinary legal problems, but extraordinary legal problems, arising from pew and rapidly changing condi tions, challenge the genius, originality, and patriotism of the American lawyer. Changes wrought by advancing civili zation, scientific achievement and inven tion, and general dissemination of knowl edge will tax his patience and ability to the utmost. Our fathers were not per plexed by, nor will their methods aid in


the solution of, the great problems in volved in the control of great public service corporations, furnishing light, heat, power, and transportation to the public. They were not confronted with questions arising from close commercial and social relations existing between men and communities widely separated. The long struggle between plebeian and patrician presented problems easy of solution compared with questions in volving unquestioned conflicting rights of employers and employed, and the important incidental rights of third per sons arising out of modern industrial and commercial intercourse and inter dependence. New standards of living, with constantly changing ideals and environment; development of newly dis covered resources; universal education; and growth of great corporate bodies, controlling immense volumes of wealth, combine to broaden the scope of modern legislation, and increase the responsi bility of those charged with the enact ment, enforcement, and exposition of the law. The genius, patriotism, and courage of the lawyer has never failed mankind in any emergency. His liberty, fortune, and blood have frequently and willingly been sacrificed for human weal. Since Solon and Clisthenes, men of noble birth and riches, forced an unwilling aristocracy to submit to democratic constitution and laws in Athens, down to the time when a great French lawyer sacrificed health and fortune in defense of the rights of the condemned, despised, and execrated Dreyfus, lawyers have been true to oath and trust never to forsake the cause of the defenseless or oppressed. Now, then, will the lawyer meet the great emergencies and perform the great duties confronting him at this time? That he will face this labor with clear vision, lofty courage, unyielding patriot