the other a feeling of confidence in the justice of the cause he represented.
He used to say, “If I can free this case from technicalities and get it properly swung to the jury, I'll win it.”
But if either of these essentials were lacking, he was the weakest man at the bar. He was greatest in my opinion as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Illinois
There the cases were never hurried.
The attorneys generally prepared their cases in the form of briefs, and the movements of the court and counsel were so slow that no one need be caught by surprise.
I was with Lincoln
once and listened to an oral argument by him in which he rehearsed an extended history of the law. It was a carefully prepared and masterly discourse, but, as I thought, entirely useless.
After he was through and we were walking home I asked him why he went so far back in the history of the law. I presumed the court knew enough history.
“That's where you're mistaken,” was his instant rejoinder.
“I dared not trust the case on the presumption that the court knows everything — in fact I argued it on the presumption that the court didn't know anything,” a statement which, when one reviews the decision of our appellate courts, is not so extravagant as one would at first suppose.
I used to grow restless at Lincoln
's slow movements and speeches in court.
“Speak with more vim,” I would frequently say, “and arouse the jury -talk faster and keep them awake” . In answer to such a suggestion he one day made use of this illustration: “Give me your little pen-knife, with its short blade, and hand me that old jack-knife, lying ”