FEBRUARY 2, 1892
Upon Tuesday afternoon, February 2, 1892, being the time assigned for the presentation of resolutions in connection with the death of the Hon. ISAAC MARSTON, formerly one of the Justices of this Court, which occurred on October 31, 1891, Hon. A. A. Ellis, Attorney General, addressed the Court as follows:
May it please the Court:
For the third time within two years this Court has been called upon to pause in its labors to bear the announcement of a death of one of its former members, and to pay the tribute of respect to the memory of a revered associate. In the case of two of those to whom I refer, rest came after a long, active life, and at the close of careers of honor and distinction, protracted beyond the ordinary span of human life. Of Judge CAMPBELL and Judge CHRISTIANCY it could be appropriately said that they died at a ripe old age, after an honorable career, and were entitled to rest from their labors. Now we are called upon to mourn the loss of one who has been cut off in his prime, at an age when he was still gathering of the knowledge of this world, and enjoying the blessings of home and family, and when hope and ambition still stirred in his breast, and while yet friends and associates leaned upon him, as a true friend and a strong man, whose courage, judgment, and honest purposes made him dear to all who knew him. ISAAC MARSTON, who a short time ago occupied the position of Chief Justice of this Court, and who had held many places of honor and trust in the gift of the people of this State, is dead, and in his death the State lost one of its most honored citizens. Cut off, as he was, at the age of fifty-two years, his death was a public calamity.
He was precocious in his youth, but unlike many, if not most, of those who matured young, he had not ceased to grow in wisdom, in knowledge, and in those graces of character which made him each year more dear to his multitude of friends. The bench, the bar, and the people of this State loved and trusted him, and had great expectations for his usefulness, which death abruptly terminated.
For some time past his friends, and those who were intimately connected with him, knew that his life was fast waning away, and that the time was short when we would be called upon to mourn his death. Only two terms ago ISAAC MARSTON argued his last case before this Court. I remember how weak in body he was at that time, but how strong and clear were all his mental faculties. Before this same table where I now stand speaking of his departure, he sat in the chair, in body too weak to stand before the Court, his mind free from any cloud, and his keen perceptions of the law seeming to grow clearer as his hold on life grew weaker and weaker.
Judge MARSTON was a self-made man, true to his convictions and true to his friends. He was born on a foreign shore, adopted this State as his home, and, step by step, a day laborer, an office boy, a lawyer, a representative, the attorney for the State, and a Judge of this high Court; and all those changes were brought about within a space of about nineteen years. Well might the people of this State mourn the loss of so good and wise a citizen.
I have been commissioned by the Detroit Bar to present to this Court a copy of the resolutions adopted at a meeting called to express their sense of loss at the untimely death of their friend, and ask that they be spread on the journals of the Court, and published in the records, as a perpetual memorial of the high esteem in which he was held by them.
In the same manner also I have been requested by the Bar of Bay county, where Judge MARSTON’S early practice was mostly had, and his early triumphs secured, to present the resolutions adopted by them, and ask that the same disposition be made of them.
Resolutions of the Detroit Bar Association.
Judge ISAAC MARSTON was born January 3, 1839, in the county Armagh, Ireland, beginning life as apprentice to a merchant. He served three years in that capacity, when his enterprising spirit could no longer brook the shackles of small employment, and he came to this country at about the age of seventeen years, hopeful of the possibilities for greater improvement which our institutions afford. Without means, and without assured employment, he began his life in this country in Oakland county, Michigan, as a farm laborer. With but thirty dollars, an accumulation that even in those days seemed small and meager, he entered the law department of the University of Michigan. After a stay there of but two years, he graduated among the first of his class, and opened a law office at Alma, in Gratiot county. It seemed as if Providence intended that privation and misfortune should strengthen his character and bring out the reserve of latent energy which he showed up to his last sickness, for, before he had established a clientage, or was even sustaining himself, his office and books were destroyed by fire. This was the turning point of his ,career and two years later he removed to Bay City, and there engaged in the practice of his profession, subsequently becoming a partner of the Hon. H. H. Hatch, and afterwards with E. A. Cooley, Esq., under the firm name of Marston, Hatch & Cooley.
During this period Mr. MARSTON had served as justice of the peace, prosecuting attorney, and city attorney. He was elected a member of the State Legislature in 1873, and in 1874 he was appointed Attorney General by Governor Bagley. In 1875 he was elected by a most complimentary vote to the Supreme Bench of this State to fill the vacancy caused by Judge CHRISTIANCY’S election to the United States Senate. He resigned in 1883, and the rest of his life has been spent in the practice of law among us here in Detroit.
Judge MARSTON’S career is remarkable, even in this country of great possibilities. Starting a poor boy, before the age of fifty he had achieved high honors in the legislative department of the State, and had served with rare ability as Attorney General, and had filled, to a higher measure than the average, the exalted offices of Associate Justice and Chief Justice of this State.
As a lawyer he was the peer of any. Fearless and honorable to a high degree, he added to his ability the weight of these attributes, and was an antagonist in the trial courts whom no good lawyer met with undue confidence. His services upon the Bench are shown in his clear, lucid, and forcible opinions. As a man he was honest in every act of life. He hated all shams, and did not hesitate to unmask them. His disposition was generous, his love of humor great; and his kindness of heart and ready sympathy made him a colleague and associate whom to know was at the same time to love. Although he had been less than ten years in practice at this bar, we feel we are in bounds in saying that the death of scarcely any other of it members would come to so many of us with so great a realization of personal loss.
Resolved, That we express our most heartfelt sympathy with his bereaved family, in whose sorrow we share, and that a suitably engrossed copy of these resolutions be transmitted to them.
Resolved, That these resolutions be presented to the Supreme Court of this State, to the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and to the Circuit Court for the County of Wayne, with a request that they be spread upon the journals of these courts.
Detroit, November 2, 1891.
HENRY M. DUFFIELD.
JOHN D. CONELY.
(Signed) MICHAEL BRENNAN.
WM. H. WELLS.
JOHN G. HAWLEY.
EDWARD W. PENDLETON,
Secretary Detroit Bar Association.
Resolutions of the Bay County Bar.
At a meeting of the Bay County Bar Association, held at the circuit court rooms in Bay City on the second day of November, A. D. 1891.
Present, H. H. HATCH, President, F. S. PRATT, Secretary, and the members of the association.
The chair announced the fact of the death of Hon. ISAAC MARSTON, formerly a member of this association. Addresses were made by several of the members, and thereupon a committee was appointed to draft appropriate resolutions. Hon. T.A.E. Weadock, chairman of said committee, reported the following resolutions, which were read and unanimously adopted:
Resolved, By the members of the Bay County Bar, at a meeting convened on occasion of the death of Hon. ISAAC MARSTON, late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan, that we learn with profound sorrow of the decease of so eminent and esteemed a member of our profession; that in his death our profession has lost one of its ablest and brightest minds, a jurist of extraordinary ability; that his decisions on the Bench were progressive, and did much to mould the law of our State because of their practicability and adaptation to our age; that as a member of the State Legislature, Attorney General of the State, and a Justice of the Supreme Court, and in other responsible positions, he always brought to bear not only rare ability, indomitable energy of purpose, and a clear perception of the requirements and responsibilities of the position, but that honesty and integrity of purpose that marked him a man, a jurist, and a statesman.
Resolved, That we commend to our brethren of the bar his example as a faithful and affectionate husband and father; a loyal, generous, and devoted friend; a public spirited and honorable citizen; a jurist, judge, and an, able, zealous, and courteous lawyer.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, the Circuit Court for the County of Bay and to the widow of Judge MARSTON, and that each of said courts be requested to enter the same at length upon its records.
Hon. THOMAS M. COOLEY spoke as follows:
May it please your Honors:
It is not as a mere formality that I appear here to-day to second the resolutions that have been presented to you by the learned Attorney General.
It was my great good fortune to be the acquaintance and friend of Judge ISAAC MARSTON for thirty years. I saw him, perhaps, first of all those who are here to-day, when he came to me, still a boy, not yet having reached the age of twenty-one, to express his desire to enter upon the study of the law. A little inquiry showed me that he was without the usual attainments that are deemed necessary before that study is entered upon. His education was slight. He had been a grocer’s apprentice in a distant land. He had come from that land without the means of support, and, landing in this country, he was glad to accept the position of “hired man,” as we express it, upon a farm. He had worked there for a time, but only while he was determining in his own mind what he would take up as his business for life; and when he had decided to study law he came to the University. But he came without the means of living there. And, what would have appeared singular in most men, he seemed to be without a perception of the fact that want of pecuniary means constituted serious impediment to a man who was about to start out in life. To him it only presented a state of facts that might render necessary unusual and more persistent efforts than must be made by others who, by birth or otherwise, were differently circumstanced. But he took it as a matter of course that he was to make all necessary effort, and that in some way he would find work, however undesirable in itself, whereby he might pay his way through the University. It never occurred to him that with sufficient willingness he could fail in this; and with the aid of those he met there, who saw in his face the proofs of energy and worth, he happily did not fail. In the mean time he was perfectly willing to submit to such deprivations as would naturally come in his way, and to live in the simplest and least expensive manner. In short, he saw something ahead he was to attain, and he proceeded at once to put aside such obstacles as stood in his way, without apparently a thought or a suspicion that there was a possibility he might not succeed. Nor did those who learned to know him at the University fear that failure would be his lot. They noticed his earnestness, they learned how quick were his perceptions, how soon he mastered legal principles, and how readily he made friends, and they prophesied for him an honorable, if not a high, career. Meantime, however, he was willing to do whatever was honorable to enable him to support himself and the young family he soon had on his hands, provided it did not take him away from his selected business. He filled for a time the lowest judicial office in the State, not thinking it beneath him, so long as it gave him a support and enabled him to be useful to his fellow citizens. Gradually we see him rise above that. It was not long before we find him a member of the Legislature of the State, and hear of him there as a man of influence. The grocer’s apprentice had become an important man in the State.
Now, to those who knew how recent it was that he was an apprentice boy, this speedy evaluation may seem strange, unless they knew, as we did, how willing he was to work, how quick he was in perception, how readily he seemed to grasp a legal proposition and follow it to its logical conclusions. It was no more than was to be expected of a young man of that character, even though his abilities be not of the highest, should achieve a high position.
It was not many years when, a vacancy having occurred in the office of Attorney General of the State, that great-hearted and careful executive and that good judge of men, John J. Bagley, invited him to fill the place. I need not stop here to show in detail that he filled it well, for that is what we all know. And then, a few years later, when a vacancy was made on the Bench of this Court by Judge CHRISTIANCY retiring from it, he was called to fill that place. He seemed to come to it by a species of natural selection. It was thought due to that part of the State, and he was the man to whom, for his fitness, men naturally turned, so he was invited to it.
I might stop here to enumerate one by one the qualities which I think eminently fitted him for the place. His character was entirely above reproach; his integrity was unquestionable; his mind was judicial in the highest degree; he was as free as any man with whom it has been my fortune to be acquainted from anything in the nature of prejudice, or of such partisanship as could in the least degree raise any question as to the possibility of partiality or dislike swaying his judgment; and nobody raised any question of his eminent fitness for the place in this regard, or ever suspected that he could be swerved one way or the other by political, social, or personal affiliations.
In his judicial decisions he always addressed himself to the very point in issue, caring very little for the graces of language, and not apparently seeming to think them important. He was on the Bench to do what was right, to apply the law directly to such cases as came before him, and he used such language as would, in his opinion, be understood, and, instead of leading any one into confusion, would furnish a useful precedent in future cases; and that was all he seemed to care for. His career upon the Bench was not so long as the people would have liked to have it. I cannot say with entire certainty why he retired. I think there were several reasons. His failing health was probably more manifest to him than it was to us; and, if he saw the end of his career not far off, he was not to be blamed if he desired to increase his income so as to leave his family in a position that secured them in comfort, and in at least the ordinary enjoyments of life. He did not go, however, until he had made such mark in the judicial records of the State as will remain always to his credit. He filled the place that had been filled by ISSAC P. CHRISTIANCY; he sat upon the Bench between JAMES V. CAMPBELL and BENJAMIN F. GRAVES; and when I say that he was recognized by the bar and the people as filling fitly the place of the first, and as being fit associate of the other two in judicial work, I have said all that need be said in his honor, for these were men who in any country having a jurisprudence similar to ours might do honor to any court.
And yet I would say something further in his honor. No doubt ISAAC MARSTON was ambitious; it was right he should be so; it is right that all men shall be so. The Attorney General has well spoken of him as a remarkable man, and we assent to this at once when we remember in how short a time he stepped from the position of a mere day-laborer to the highest place in the judiciary of a great state; and no doubt every step he took in that elevation was a step that gratified him. But there was something that he loved more than all these, and that, when he had reached this high position, he enjoyed beyond all the gratification that could have been brought him by official position of any grade.
ISAAC MARSTON was pre-eminently a man who loved his home, his wife, and his children. His wife had followed him on the way up from the first step to the last, and was gratified, no doubt, as he was, with every advancement; but with each of the two the highest enjoyments were to be found where he in retiring sought them,— in the home circle.
It is sometimes expected on occasions like this that something will be said about a man’s religious life. I shall say little in that regard in respect to Judge MARSTON, for he himself was accustomed to say but little. I can say that he was frank, he was just, he was true; that in all the nearest and dearest relations of life he was not merely a man above reproach, but he was an exemplar in any community of which he was a member; but I cannot say he ever belonged to any professed religious society. I know this, however, that any society, professedly religious or otherwise, that adopts and seeks to follow the teachings of the Man of Nazareth and the doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man, and demands no assent to creeds which assume a knowledge of the unknowable— any such society would have thrown wide open its doors of membership to ISAAC MARSTON, and welcomed him as a worthy brother.
Mr. JUSTICE MCGRATH spoke as follows:
“Before man made us citizens, great Nature made us men.”
It was my fortune to meet Judge MARSTON in active practice at the bar, and to me the charm of his life was his personal character. His ready wit, his genial disposition, his professional courtesy, never forsook him. In the heat of trial or of discussion, notwithstanding his earnestness, his intense devotion to the interests of his client, he never forgot his manliness. Honored in his profession, his ability as a lawyer of high standing recognized, he never forgot the amenities of that profession. He never allowed the spleen of his client to affect his conduct of the cause in hand.
He was a foeman worthy of our steel, yet he fought without acrimony. He gave to his client the highest fidelity, the best of his intellect; but no retainer was large enough to cause him to forget the respect due the court, the decorum of the court-room, or the dignity of his calling. Searching in his examination of witnesses, he never forgot that a witness had rights which a lawyer was bound to respect. Often witty, then sarcastic, then invoking invective; but his wit and sarcasm and invective were without poison, and left no heart-aches. He was a brave antagonist, yet never querulous. Good nature, always the sign of a large and generous soul, pervaded his every act.
Whether upon the Bench, in the midst of a hotly contested trial, in his office, at a gathering of his professional friends, or in that home that he loved fondly, there was the same geniality of disposition always. Into every circle he carried a glow and warmth of friendliness that dispelled all stiffness, invited good cheer, and created an atmosphere of good-fellowship. He always charmed us with his native wit, and captured us with his sincerity and candor. There was no malice in his nature, no dyspepsia in his disposition.
Even after he realized that death had thrown its shadow across his pathway, he knew no fear, but maintained his wonted cheerfulness, and met the grim destroyer like a man conscious of an upright life. He approached his grave like one “that wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.”
There was no pedantry, in ISAAC MARSTON’S make-up. His great and generous nature lifted him above arrogance. He laid aside the ermine and took up the green bag in my own city with that native modesty that characterized his life. His presence was soon felt in that metropolis, and he has left his footprints and finger marks there as everywhere. He soon gathered about him a large circle of warm and enthusiastic friends.
ISAAC MARSTON honored the bench, honored the bar. The biography of his life abounds with practical lessons. Its first chapters are replete with instances of hardship, or reverses, of struggle, of perseverance, of application and unflagging industry. Its later chapters abound with rich results, born of those earlier struggles, of that application and untiring industry, which alone can give to genius the strength to conceive.
“To those who know thee not, no words can paint;
And those who know thee know all words are faint.”
Remarks by Mr. JUSTICE LONG:
The story of the life and character of Judge MARSTON never loses its interest by repetition. It illustrates the possibilities of success in this country,— of a young man of foreign birth coming here without friends or money, a stranger in a strange land, and building for himself a name and fortune. He came, a mere boy, and by his industry, integrity, and ability elevated himself to one of the most honorable positions in the State; and he has left his imprint upon the public affairs of the State, which are enduring monuments of his greatness.
But few of us here to-day knew him personally in his young manhood. That he was filled with an ardent and mastering ambition to overcome all obstacles to success, no one can doubt who became acquainted with him after his advent from the law school at Ann Arbor. From what has been said of him in those years before taking his law course, it is apparent that he was no ordinary boy. He was poor, and, though not struggling with abject poverty, he was compelled to earn a livelihood, and, like many young men of those days, he did whatever his hands found to do. He worked upon a farm and at other kinds of manual labor until he acquired sufficient to start himself at Ann Arbor. What his ambitions and aspirations were then we may pass over. It is his life after he entered upon his profession as a lawyer of which I shall speak.
He settled in Gratiot county, and for a time struggled for a livelihood and a name and fame as a lawyer. Perhaps he passed through that state of waiting and hoping for clients that has been the common lot of the most of us who started in the profession of the law as our life work. We who are gathered here may look back upon those struggles as something akin to our own struggles, our own hopes and aspirations, successes and failures.
He tarried for a time in Gratiot county, and then moved to bay county, where his real work as a lawyer began. My first recollection of him is his appearance as one of the counsel in a suit in the circuit court for Genesee county which had been transferred from Bay. He was a young man, and in appearance a mere boy; but well do I remember the impression his management and conduct of that trial left upon me. He was calm and deliberate in his presentation of the case and in the putting in of the testimony; but, when he came to the argument, he presented it in all its features with such logic and force that it was remarked by the members of the Genesee county bar that young MARSTON would make his mark in the world.
Soon after this, in one of the political struggles of the sixth congressional district, in which young MARSTON refused to be bound by the action of his party convention, because he did not believe in the candidate of its choice, he was styled by the supporters of the candidate the “Boy from Bay.” He was thus early in his political and party affiliations so resolute and fearless that no party ties could bind him unless he was convinced of the purity of the candidate and his fitness for the place, as also that justice and fair dealing had been used in securing such nomination. This manliness and fearlessness in his actions, which no party ties could control and from which no friends could induce him to depart, characterized him as brave, honest, and true throughout his whole life. In his profession he achieved success. He was as true to his clients and as zealous in the presentation of their causes as he ever was when called to act in any other field. He had builded upon those principles of the common law which were founded in right and justice.
On April 1, 1874, he was appointed Attorney General of the State by Governor Bagley, and his opinions as such officer at once brought him into public notice throughout the State. Many important questions relative to the rights of the State were raised by the different departments of the State government, and were submitted to him. His opinions were taken up by the public press and published to the world, and they were so logical and forcible, and brought him into such prominence before the public, that upon the resignation of Judge CHRISTIANCY on February 27, 1875, to accept the United States Senatorship, he was appointed and afterwards elected one of the Associate Justices of this Court, which position he held from the time of his appointment, April 9, 1875, to the time of his resignation from the Bench, on February 28, 1883. His opinions are to be found, beginning in the 32nd Michigan Report, page 27, the case of Ludwig v. Stewart, to the 50th Michigan Report, page 258, the case of Portman v. Fish Commissioners, occupying nineteen volumes of the reports.
At the time of his coming upon this Bench it was occupied as his associates by Justices COOLEY, CAMPBELL, and GRAVES,— men who had made the Michigan Reports the most sought for of any of the reports of the western states,— and the fame of these learned Justices extended over the whole country. Mr. Justice COOLEY had already published his great work on Constitutional Limitations, which had gained for its author a widespread reputation as a legal writer, and the work was to be found upon the shelves of almost every public and private law library, not only in this State, but in the other states of the Union; and the author was then preparing his works on Torts and Taxation. Justices CAMPBELL and GRAVES had also won great renown by. their written opinions published in the Michigan Reports, and followed by the courts of other states; and Justice CAMPBELL had been recognized as a writer of great clearness and force in literary circles. It was among these learned Justices that Judge MARSTON took his seat on April 9, 1875. They were men long trained in their judicial duties, and of mature years. Judge MARSTON was many years their junior, and sitting beside them upon the Bench, as I first saw him on entering the court-room at that April term, my mind was carried back to the political struggles, and I thought how appropriately he had been styled the “Boy from Bay.” No one doubted his learning and ability to discharge the duties of that office. He took his place among those gray-haired men as calmly as though he had already grown accustomed to it, and from the outset his promise of usefulness was fulfilled.
He remained on this Bench a little less than eight years. During that time his friends who had urged his appointment and election never for a moment had occasion to regret their course. His opinions are filled with that careful thought and study, and are written with that same vigor, which were manifest in his practice at the bar. He always spoke to the point in controversy, and he always wrote to the point, without any of that circumlocution which characterizes so many judicial writers. Long before the time of his retirement from the Bench he had become recognized by the people of this State, and especially by the bar, as the peer of his associates. He had endeared himself to the bar by his manly bearing, his urbanity, his thoughtfulness towards the younger members, and his pleasant and cheerful words of comfort to them. He was the especial favorite of the younger members, and they greatly felt his loss upon his retirement. He felt at that time, undoubtedly, that his continual and arduous duties upon the Bench had begun to undermine his health, and that his duty to himself and his family required his resignation. Upon leaving the Bench, he settled in Detroit with his family, where he lived up to within a few weeks prior to his death. So great was his popularity as a lawyer, and so widespread the belief in his ability and integrity, that he sprang at once to the forefront of the bar of Wayne county and of the State. He built up, in the few years from 1883 to 1891, a large and lucrative practice.
For the last two years of his life his physical strength had greatly weakened; and during the last year so greatly impaired was his health that he was at times confined to his bed for weeks. He still retained through all his physical pain and suffering that same vigorous intellect, and that same kindly greeting was extended towards all who approached him. During the last year, though nearly prostrated by the dread disease which finally took him from us, he appeared before this Court in the case of State v. Sparrow, recently decided. He was too weak, physically, to stand during the argument, but though sitting I have never listened to a more clear and logical argument than there presented. He was filled with his subject, and his sentences were so modulated and so eloquent that he seemed like one inspired. This was his last argument before this Court.
He was most happy in his domestic life. He was united in marriage soon after his admission to the bar with Emily Sullivan, who still survives him. Four children— three sons and one daughter— are the fruits of their marriage. His family mourns the loss of a loving husband and father, and the bar of the State a generous and well-beloved brother.
I knew him intimately and well, and have loved him these many years. His loss is a personal affliction. He was the soul of honor. He was filled with gentleness.
His last days were peaceful. He leaned upon the Arm that is able to save; he has gone to his reward.
Let it be our pleasure, as it will be our duty, to teach those who come after us to imitate the private virtues, remember the public services, and cherish the reputation of this man. What a lesson his life has taught! Who to-day can read the lesson of such a life without the feeling that only in our country and under our institutions could a boy, especially of foreign birth,—however bright, however strong intellectually and morally,— raise himself from poverty and lowliness, without the aid of influential friends, to the position of Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, the highest position in the gift of the people? It teaches its lessons to our youth. It teaches them to love our country and its institutions; to thank God that under His guidance and care our fathers builded here on this continent such a government.
By Chief Justice MORSE:
I heartily concur in all that has been said by the bench and bar in praise of Judge MARSTON.
He was a useful man; a citizen of positive convictions as to duty, which he always fearlessly avowed; an able, upright, and energetic lawyer; an honest, learned, and conscientious judge. There was no time-serving element in his nature and hypocrisy in anything was hateful to him. He was frank and open as the day in all his intercourse with his fellows, whether as friend, neighbor, advocate, or judge. For this he was well beloved by all who knew him.
As an advocate at the bar, he had few, if any, superiors in this State. And his client always had the full benefit of his great powers, for he was a tireless and faithful worker.
His fidelity to what he believed to be right led him, while yet a mere “Boy from Bay,” to bolt the nomination by his political party of a candidate for Congress whom he believed to be unworthy of the place, and by his energetic and fearless work upon the hustings he compassed his defeat.
His fidelity to what he believed to be right as a lawyer was equally steadfast and fearless, at all times and under all circumstances. It was impossible for him to deceive a client or to neglect his business; nor yet would he, even in his client’s interest, seek to deceive the court. He was as frank and honest in the presentation of legal questions as he was in his every-day life.
His work upon this Bench has been justly eulogized. His labors before us as an advocate and counselor have always been in aid of the Court, and, as he believed, in the interest of justice. As a friend and companion he was the most genial and unselfish of men; and there is not one who knew him but will mourn that we, and the world, must lose, so untimely as years are counted, the benefit of his knowledge of the law, his wonderful energy and industry in his profession, the fearless honesty of the man, the love and kindly spirit of one who was indeed the friend of all mankind.
It is ordered that these resolutions here presented, and the remarks thereon, be printed in the reports, and that a suitable memorial page be dedicated to his memory; and as a further mark of respect the Court will stand adjourned for the day.
The following communication was received:
HON. A. B. MORSE, Chief Justice Supreme Court.
My Dear Sir: As a student in the office of the late Judge MARSTON for nearly a year immediately after my admission to the bar, I wish to express my appreciation of the friendship then formed and continued thereafter, my acknowledgment of his kindness and good-will, and my regard for his memory. With feelings of sorrow for the loss, I realize how difficult it is to clothe those feelings in appropriate language.
I became acquainted with the late Judge MARSTON in April, 1874, immediately after his appointment by Governor Bagley as Attorney General. With limited knowledge of the practice of the law, I now appreciate better than ever the value and aid of his methods and manner of work. I was in his office in Lansing, and the place afforded me an excellent opportunity for study and acquaintance. He was a quick and rapid worker, and a lover of intellectual work. He endeavored to find, if possible, the principle and reason for the law, and to apply the same to the facts and the question under consideration. He was always ready to encourage and assist the younger attorneys with whom he was associated; but he impressed them with the necessity of relying upon themselves.
After he left the Bench, our former acquaintance became closer and nearer; and he was always willing to offer aid and suggestions whenever sought.
His death, for many days, brought a flood of memories of the past; what he did, and how he did it; what was the hope of his youth, or the ambition of his early life. I apprehend that they were to a large extent fully realized.
The story of his life, as known to many of this bar from his youth,— alone, with confidence in himself and in his abilities; the persistent devotion, at first under adverse circumstances, to his profession, but with success; his election on this Bench at the age of thirty-six; his work while Judge; his subsequent success in the practice, all crowded into the space of fifty-two years,— reads more like fiction than the real life of a man whose death to-day fills our hearts with sorrow. It affords a rich field for reflection. How true:
“We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.”
“One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.”
When his name was prominently mentioned as the successor of Judge CHRISTIANCY, while talking with me about it before his nomination, he expressed his apprehension that it would not be wise to accept it, on account of his age; that the bar would not have confidence in him; but his success dispelled such doubt.
His life is a forcible illustration of the saying that it is not the number of years we live, but how well, and that well-directed efforts to one’s life work seldom fail to be recognized, and to merit and reap reward.
Judge MARSTON possessed the happy faculty of making friends and acquaintances, and he was fortunate in the friends which he made from the time he began the study of the law. His life presents a strong illustration of two features of the present age:
First. The possibilities of life. It is not often that we find a better example. Ambitious, energetic, and faithful in his work, from a humble beginning, without the aid of parents, possessed and endowed with the talents peculiar to the Scotch-Irish people, whose intellectual force and brightness have shone in so many professions in the last two hundred years, he reached success, and rapidly rose to the front ranks of his profession, fulfilling the hopes of his friends and the promise of early life. Not unworthy of the promotions, he has given a result of the possibilities of life which the profession and people of Michigan should remember. At no time and in no country could these possibilities have found so ready a recognition or fruition.
Second. His life also furnishes a bright example of having one’s abilities equipped and ready for occasions. It is said that circumstances make men; but, while it is true in part, men must be ready and prepared for the circumstances when they come. His appointment to the office of Attorney General was on account of personal friendship between him and Attorney General Ball, his predecessor. His election to the Supreme Bench was due to a large extent to the thoroughness and success of his work as Attorney General. These promotions came because he was prepared to accept and to do the work expected. They would not have come to him had he not done the work of his profession thoroughly and carefully.
His love for his home and family, first and nearest his heart, and their comfort and happiness a source of delight; true to his friends and generous to all; frank in his manner and nature; thorough and conscientious in his work; successful in his professio; happy in his associations and faithful in his trusts,–he was a man whose friendship, success, and memory it is wise and respectful in the hurry of these days for us to remember, and tenderly to pay a tribute of affection, and around which to wreath a garland of fitting words.
Beyond the borders of Michigan, her brightest reputation is her educational institutions. How wisely the originator–the Rev. Mr. Pierce–of her school system planned and builded; alike ope to the son of the humblest peasant, to the orphan boy inspired with a love of knowledge, and to those more favorably situtated. With gratitude and thankfulness the sons of Michigan, by birth or adoption, accept and remember these privileges. With pride and admiration Michigan points to her sons who achieve renown and success by reason of these institutions. He to whose memory we pay our tribute to-day gladly embraced these priceless opportunities. His life is an example of what these educational facilities accomplish. Proud are the sons of Michigan of their State; but the State may well be proud of such a son.
Toledo, Ohio, February 1, 1892. Geo. P. Voorheis.