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To Professor Simon Greenleaf.

Washington, March 3, 1834.
my dear Mr. Greenleaf,—Mr. F. S. Key1 is now speaking in the Supreme Court, where I write these lines. The case before the court is an important one, between Amos Binney and the Chesapeake Canal,2—Key, Walter Jones, and Webster on one side, and Coxe and Swann on the other. Key has not prepared himself, and now speaks from his preparation on the trial below, relying upon a quickness and facility of language rather than upon research. Walter Jones,3—--a man of acknowledged powers in the law, unsurpassed, if not unequalled, by any lawyer in the country,—is in the same plight. He is now conning his papers and maturing his points,—a labor which, of course, he should have gone through before he entered the court-room. And our Webster fills up the remiss triumvirate. He, like Jones, is doing the labor in court which should have been done out of court. In fact, politics have entirely swamped his whole time and talents. All here declare that he has neglected his cases this term in a remarkable manner. It is now whispered in the room that he has not looked at the present case,4 though the amount at stake is estimated at half a million of dollars.

The insurance case,5 argued by Selden, of New York, at Boston last year before Judge Story, has been argued here since my being in town by Selden on one side and Charles G. Loring and Webster on the other side. It was Loring's first appearance in the Supreme Court, and he acquitted himself honorably, drawing from Webster a practical compliment, dictated probably as much by his own convenience as by his sense of the merits of the argument, though they were superlative. He declined arguing the question after the learned argument of his friend, though a very large property was at stake, —saying, that out of respect to himself and to the court he would not pass over superficially, as he necessarily must, what his friend had discussed so thoroughly and satisfactorily. Loring spoke from a very full brief; was very clear and full, delivering his argument in a calm, undisturbed manner, which was a beautiful contrast to the rhetorical, excited, disturbed, tinselled manner of Selden, who spoke as if addressing his constituents at the Park or at Tammany Hall. Loring's manner was that of reason. The court and all present were highly impressed.

We expect a very interesting case. Wheaton v. Peters,—an action brought by Wheaton (the old reporter) against Peters for publishing in his ‘Condensed Reports’ the twelve volumes of Wheaton, thus, as is alleged, violating Wheaton's copyright. One of the grounds of the defence—and a very interesting one—is, that there cannot be a copyright in the opinions of

1 Francis Scott Key, 1779-1843, author of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’

2 8 Peters' Reports, p. 201.

3 1775-1861. An eminent lawyer, for many years residing and practising his profession at Washington.

4 Mr. Coxe, counsel on the other side, so informed Sumner.

5 Hazard v. New England Marine Insurance Co., 8 Peters' Reports, p. 555; 8 c. 1 Sumner's Reports, p. 218.

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