Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/254
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
Whilst, as we have intimated, Mr. Benjamin was a great lawyer in every department of the profession, his powers were best displayed in arguing legal and constitutional questions before the courts, and not in the cross-examination of witnesses and general conduct of cases at miss prin. He, therefore, soon abandoned this part of the practice, and confined his labors to the argument of cases before the House of Lords, the Privy Council, and Court of Appeals. His special forte was in the statement of his case. It is said that on one occasion, when he was opposed to Mr. Reverdy Johnson in the Supreme Court of the U. S., after he had stated his case, one of the judges whispered to another, that the "Jew from Louisiana had stated Mr. Johnson out of court." He was less fortunate, however, on a subsequent occasion in the House of Lords, for when he stated a proposition the Lord Chancellor said, sot to voce, "Nonsense." Whereupon Mr. Benjamin quietly gathered up his papers and left the room. The next day the Lord Chancellor apologized, saying he had done what he ought not to have done. It is said he was not afraid of anything, and would not, for a moment, tolerate any treatment which smacked of an insult, no matter from what source it came. As an evidence of this, on one occasion Mr. Jefferson Davis, on the floor of the Senate, said something which Mr. Benjamin construed as an indignity, and he promptly sent Mr. Davis a note, demanding satisfaction, or an apology. To show the high character and chivalrous bearing of Mr. Davis, as soon as he saw he was wrong, he sent Benjamin
papers, for each of which he received $25. His powers of labor and of acquisition were simply immense, and in an incredibly short time, and by a special dispensation, he was granted admission to the Bar. His success was immediate. He began his career in England, as he had done when first coming to the Bar in Louisiana, by writing a law-book, and "Benjamin on Sales of Personal Property," first published in 1868, has run through numerous editions, both in England and in this country, is now the standard work on this subject, and is regarded as a classic in the law, almost immediately on its appearance. A distinguished English Judge directed the Bailiff of his court to see that a copy was kept always by his side.