Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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NOTE - prospective and retrospective.
THE present volume completes the second series of my reports of judicial decisions, designated CONNECTICUT REPORTS, consisting of twenty volumes. From my terminating this series here, it may be natural to infer, as some probably will, that it is to be the end of my labours as a chronicler of the law. It is certain that it may be. It may become so, either by the act of God, by the act of the court, or by the voice of the Connecticut bar. But I have come to this determination, principally, in view of a very simple fact, viz. that some of the volumes happen at present to be out of print, and are not likely to be reprinted soon. As complete sets cannot be furnished, it seems unwise to increase the number of odd volumes; and to avoid this evil, I have concluded to begin a new series. It must be distinguished, in some way, from the preceding series; otherwise there will be confusion in citations. It might be cited as Day's Rep. N. S.; but a simpler mode, sanctioned by inherent propriety and analogous usage, seems to me preferable. A young friend of mine of the New-Haven county bar, (STEPHEN W. KELLOGG, Esq.) has engaged to assist me in my future labours, so far as I may need assistance and his professional engagements will admit of his rendering it. I therefore propose, that the series in contemplation be cited as Day & Kel. R., until a change of circumstances shall render a change of citation necessary or proper. And to guard against misapprehension, I state, that I contemplate, in this change, no throwing off or division of responsibility. So long as I continue to hold the office of Reporter, every case will be either wholly prepared by me, or undergo my careful revision, before it is passed to the printer; and even then I shall, as heretofore, read the proofs once and again.
Standing in the gap between the past and the future, I shall not incur the penalty of a by-gone age, if I pause awhile - and look back; for I am not escaping, by divine command, from a wicked place.
It is now forty-six years (a) since I entered upon an employment somewhat analogous to that in which the great lexicographer of England had been occupied, when he declared, that the unhappy mortal engaged in it was "exposed to censure without hope of praise, and liable to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward." Still if I have been useful in "removing rubbish and clearing obstructions from the path" of the enlightened jurist, it will not disturb me, if he "presses forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates his progress." I may have, indeed, somewhat of the "solitude" which he experienced, at the close of his labours, but without the "gloom." If he, after the lapse of seven or eight years only, could say, that he had "protracted his work till most of those whom he wished to please, had sunk into the grave," what must be the result, when the period of protraction has been extended more than sixfold!
After all, I cannot add with him, that "success and miscarriage are empty sounds" to me. Because the province assigned me was one of humble labour, I have not been the less solicitous to be found faithful in it; nor will the award of success therein be, on that account, the less grateful to me.
Besides, the cotemporaries of my early days have not all departed. A few of my seniors even, remain. I am happy to refer to one, who was my fellow student in the most distinguished law school then in the country; who encouraged my incipient attempts as a juridical annalist, and aided me, by the communication of his own notes; who, for many years, was at the head of practice in his own county at least, and after serving the public in the state and national legislature, accepted a seat on that bench from which the principles of justice and equity regulating the concerns of this community, are authoritatively promulgated and applied; who, for eighteen years, discharged, with distinguished purity and ability, the trust committed to him, occupying, for more than three-fourths of that period, the first place among his associates; who was my fellow boarder, before we had families of our own, my near neighbour afterwards, and my unswerving friend at all times; - he, in a green old age, remains, to look back upon the progress of our jurisprudence, and the efforts of himself and others for its advancement, during the last half century. His immediate predecessor in the office referred to, who, fifty-four years ago, was a member of the same court, differently organized, has but just departed.(b) And a member of the court, which, thirty-seven years ago, first made it my official duty to report its decisions, still lives, in physical and mental soundness. A few others, whom, in my early professional life, I admired and respected, as I have done ever since, likewise remain.
But if I stood alone - the sole survivor of all that started with me or before me - the want of such witnesses, at this point of my course, would bring no gloom to my mind. Should I reach the gaol before me, "without faltering or turning aside, the approbation of those, who came, or may come, after me, with my personal consciousness, would satisfy all my cravings. Whatever may be my future situation or employment, may I not hope for a place in their continued friendship and encouragement? Will not the remembrance of their companionship enliven the weariness of age? Will it cease, if I am longer continued in an employment, which has engaged my thoughts and labours from youth to age, in the solacing hope that I was thus discharging some part of the debt which I owed to my profession?
HARTFORD, May 20th, 1851.
(a) My reports - both series - embrace a period of forty-nine years; but the first volume of the first series, embracing a period of three years, is made up of cases, prepared indeed and published by myself, but decided before I began to take minutes regularly with a view of reporting the cases.
(b) The Hon. DAVID DAGGETT, late Chief Justice, experienced "the last of earth," at his residence in New-Haven, April 12th, 1851. Vide post.
NOTE - valedictory.
In a note prefixed to the 20th volume of these Reports, I remarked, that that volume might terminate my labours as a report, by the act of God, by the act of the court, or by the voice of the Connecticut bar. Since that time God has vouchsafed to me prolonged life and a working state of health; the court have not disapproved of my labours; and to my brethren of the bar I am indebted for their continued favour. The consequence is, the appearance of the present volume. A change of title or mode of citation was also suggested. But as this is the last volume which I expect to publish, the reason given for such change will have little weight; and as there are some objections to it, and the court have advised me not to make it, the title or mode of citation will continue unchanged. After the completion of this volume, I shall retire from all responsibility of a public nature. On this event, touching as it is to me, and associated as it is with so many grateful recollections, I can only say, in view of "all the past," to those now living, judices instructissimi, valete; socii dilectissimi, vos quoque valete! My regrets at parting are, however, in both cases, somewhat softened, by the hope I indulge, that their reputation, as jurists and jurisconsults, has not materially suffered, by passing through my hands.
Hartford, April 1, 1853.
HON. THOMAS DAY, long and honorably connected with the Supreme Court of Errors, as Reporter of its judicial decisions, having declined a re-appointment to that office, the Judges of said Court passed the following Resolution:
SUPREME COURT OF ERROR,
Hartford County, June Term, 1853
The Hon. THOMAS DAY having declined a re-appointment to the office of Reporter of judicial decisions, which he has continued to fill, with distinguished ability, fidelity and usefulness for the unprecedented period of nearly half a century, we deem it proper to avail ourselves of his retirement, to express our high respect for his eminent services and exalted character, and to tender to him the tribute of our acknowledgment, for his advancement of juridical science, through his numerous reports and other legal productions, and for his uniform kindness and courtesy, in all his intercourse with us and our predecessors, with our best wishes for his future welfare and happiness.
At the Term of said Supreme Court holden at Litchfield, on the third Tuesday of June, 1853, WILLIAM N. MATSON, of Hartford, was appointed Reporter of the judicial decisions of said Court, for the year ensuing.[footer.htm]