Page images
PDF
EPUB

ume of some six hundred pages. I was privileged to read it. It was an admirable history, lucid and well proportioned and presenting the subject with great charm of style. I urged its immediate publication; but he deferred it, and finally, in a fit of excessive modesty, burned the book.

Full of thought and knowledge and gifted with a rare felicity of expression, he was often called upon to make public addresses, particularly at gatherings of the bar, from Pennsylvania and Virginia in the east to Colorado in the west. As it is the purpose of this volume to preserve a selection of these, they may be left to speak for themselves.

He was always a Democrat, and believed earnestly in the ancient principles of that party. But he lent himself to none of the vagaries which it has of late years too often followed. He looked upon the protective tariff as an abomination that led to infinite corruption, and upon free silver as the clamor of the dishonest for a scaling of their debts. He stood firmly with Mr. Cleveland. Indeed, Mr. Cleveland owed his nomination in no small measure to Judge Rose. As head of the Arkansas delegation in the convention that first nominated him, Judge Rose succeeded in throwing the whole vote of the state to Mr. Cleveland; and owing to its alphabetical position near the head of the list, as the votes were called again and again, the solid phalanx of Arkansas evoked much applause and had a decided influence upon the column that followed.

Like every successful lawyer, he devoted much of his time to the service of corporations, but never did he wear their collar. He always maintained an attitude of dignified independence, and he never permitted the interest of his clients to sway his judgment on any public question. He was first of all a man and a citizen, placing the public welfare above every other consideration, and uttering his views freely and fearlessly whenever he felt that the interests of the people were in jeopardy.

Those who heard him in court, and saw with what ease and grace he handled the questions under consideration had no idea of the tremendous labor that laid the solid foundation of his argument. There was no parade of learning and all seemed facile and spontaneous. His briefs, too, were short and to the point, characterized by remarkable clearness of diction and a felicity of style that made them delightful reading. But his preparation of his cases was most laborious. Before looking up the law he thoroughly mastered the facts, so that he was sure of the ground upon which he stood. Then he threw himself into the investigation of the law with an earnestness that bordered on frenzy. Often he would make himself sick from overwork in the preparation of an important case. When he had accumulated all the law that was to be found in the books he did not throw at the court the undigested mass. He sifted the chaff from the wheat, and used only the best; presenting it in so persuasive a manner that success usually crowned his efforts.

He was not a noisy speaker. His voice was not strong; but it was well modulated and agreeable to the ear. In oral discourse he had the same felicity of diction as in writing. He never repeated himself, never hesitated for a word; and his speeches, if taken down in shorthand, would have been found to be models of literary style. He excelled particularly in argument and exposition. His vast knowledge of law and of history enabled him to bring to bear upon any subject an extraordinary profusion of persuasive illustrations. He also had a fund of wit and humor that illumined every discourse with delightful sallies. At times he could be deeply moving; and when his indignation was aroused, he was capable of the most withering sarcasm and the most merciless ridicule.

In his relations with the courts he was a model. He was courteous and respectful, but he exacted an equal respect and courtesy in return. With their mistakes he was patient; but when he believed that they were acting from unworthy motives, his indignation was expressed in the most fearless manner. More than one unworthy judge received at his hands a castigation that he never forgot.

He was one of the happiest of after-dinner speakers, witty, amusing and eloquent by turns. These speeches were all extemporaneous and only one of them was taken down in short-hand. This is given in the following pages.

Early in 1907, Mr. Roosevelt, then president of the United States, passed through Little Rock. At a luncheon given to him Judge Rose responded to a toast in his honor. This made so favorable an impression upon Mr. Roosevelt that he appointed Judge Rose an ambassador to the Hague Peace Conference of that year, along with Mr. Jos. H. Choate and General Horace Porter. From the day of his appointment Judge Rose devoted his whole time to the study of international law, so that when the conference assembled he was far better equipped than most of the delegates. Added to this was his perfect mastery of the French language; and these, with the charm of manner that made him a natural diplomat, gave him a conspicuous position in that distinguished gathering. The conference, of course, did not put a stop to wars; but it did much to codify the law of nations, and so to avoid future misunderstandings.

On October 25, 1903, he and Mrs. Rose celebrated their golden wedding. All their children were with them save one, who had died in infancy. Of the nine all but one were married, and each brought to the gathering his first wife or her first husband. The occasion was a memorable one in the annals of Little Rock. Most of the city turned out to congratulate the bride and groom, and many friends came from a distance to do them honor.

It has been well said that lawyers usually work hard, live well and die poor. Judge Rose was certainly a tireless worker and he gave himself and family every reasonable comfort; but fortunately he did not die in poverty. Though he was reasonable in his charges and generous in his donations to charity, the amount of business that he dispatched was so enormous that after bringing up nine children he was able to accumulate a competency, so that his declining years were passed in dignified ease.

When he reached seventy he realized that his strength was failing; so he retired from the active practice, and devoted the remainder of his life to study and travel. From time to time he would take a case in the appellate courts that interested him, and his briefs and arguments made at this period of abundant leisure were probably the ablest and the most profound of all. It was characteristic of his chivalrous nature that his last appearance in court was on behalf of an unfortunate young woman who had been despoiled of her very considerable inheritance under the pretence that she was illegitimate. The spoilers had buttressed themselves behind judgments and confirmations until their position seemed impregnable; but with an amount of labor and research that was almost incredible, he succeeded in breaking down all their defenses and in restoring her to the enjoyment of her rights.

To the end his mind retained not only its youthful vigor, but its youthful outlook. Mentally he never grew old, never became ultra conservative, a laudator temporis peracti. He believed that the world was on the whole continually growing better, and he was interested in its every advance; and this interest remained unabated to the last.

At the beginning of 1913 it was apparent that his bodily strength was rapidly failing. His mind remained as bright and clear as ever; but he, who had been a great walker, was unable to walk the half dozen blocks from his home to his office. In

« PreviousContinue »