This was a good point, but not quite fair.
The exultation over the “meagre verdict” was expressly in view of the fact, that the cause was undefended—that Fenimore and his counsel had it all their own way, evidence, argument, charge, and all. Still, Richard had a good chance here to appeal for a large verdict, and he did it well.
On one other point Richard talked more like a cheap lawyer and less like a—like what we had expected of him—than through the general course of his argument.
In his pleadings, he had set forth Horace Greeley and Thomas Mc-Elrath as Editors and Proprietors of the Tribune, and we readily enough admitted whatever he chose to assert about us except the essential thing in dispute between us. Well, on the strength of this he puts it to the Court and Jury, that Thomas McElrath is one of the Editors of the Tribune, and that be, being (having been) a lawyer, would have been in Court to defend this suit, if there was any valid defense to be made.
This, of course, went very hard against us; and it was to no purpose that we informed him that Thomas McElrath, though legally implicated in it, had nothing to do practically with this matter—(all which he knew very well long before)—and that the other defendant is the man who does whatever libeling is done in the Tribune, and holds himself everywhere responsible for it. We presume there is not much doubt even so far off as Cooperstown as to who edits the Tribune, and who wrote the editorial about the Fonda business.
(In point of fact, the real and palpable defendant in this suit never even conversed with his partner a quarter of an hour altogether about this subject, considering it entirely his own job; and the plaintiff himself, in conversation with Mr. McElrath, in the presence of his attorney, had fully exonerated Mr. M. from anything more than legal liability.) But Richard was on his legs as a lawyer—he pointed to the seal on his bond—and therefore insisted that Thomas McElrath was art and part in the alleged libel, not only legally, but actually, and would have been present to respond to it if he had deemed it susceptible of defense!
As a lawyer, we suppose this was right; but, as an Editor and a man, we could not have done it.
“Richard” gave way, and “ Horace” addressed the jury in a speech of fifty minutes, which need not be inserted here, because all its leading ideas are contained in the narrative.
It was a convincing argument, so far as the reason and justice of the case were concerned; and, in any court where reason and justice bore sway, would have gained the case.
‘Should you find, gentleman,’ concluded Mr. Greeley
that I had no right to express an opinion as to the honor and magnanimity of Mr. Cooper, in pushing his case to a trial as related, you will of course compel me to pay whatever damage has been done to his character by such expression, followed and accompanied