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The defense of Tweed has been conducted as fairly as ever defense was conducted in the world. There is no occasion to go into particulars, but I defy any fault-finder or calumniator to put his finger on a single act which the severest critic could justly censure. The delays that have occurred, and the miscarriages that have happened, are all traceable to the mistakes or the mischances of the prosecution.
The third proposition, namely, that Tweed paid his counsel out of the money of which he robbed the city, is as groundless as the second. Assuming, for the sake of the argument, that he robbed the city and that he paid counsel, how does it follow that what went to the one came from the other? There is no pretense that the identical money paid is traceable to the city. The charge is, that certain contractors obtained payment of bills that were not due, or greater than were due; that one quarter, or less than one quarter, of the amount went into Tweed's bank account, and that he drew out the money from time to time, but what he did with it no man has yet attempted to show. By what series of transmutations these sums of money, or rather these shifting credits, which have not been traced, are nevertheless followed, or supposed to be followed, into the hands of Tweed's counsel, it would trouble the most adroit conjurer to point out. If Tweed had never in his life been possessed of a dollar beyond what he drew from these credits six years ago, and the increase of the same, all that could with certainty be said of the means, which on any given day since he had for the payment of counsel, would be that they were the fruits of speculations and business, carried on with capital dishonestly obtained.
But it has never been pretended that he was destitute of other means. If we may credit common report, he was rich before the peculations began, and while they were going on he paid out a million or so to corrupt the Legislature. What, then, is meant? Is it that because a portion of a man's estate has been dishonestly gotten, therefore, nobody should receive a payment from him? Let us see how that would work. If a lawyer can not receive money from him, nobody else can. He could not pay his doctor. He could not disburse money for board or lodging, or buy a railway-ticket, or hire a house, or
send his children to school, if he had to pay for it. Assuming that a portion of his property was honestly and a portion dishonestly acquired, the theory of the Governor must be, that he could not properly use any portion of this property to protect his right to the honest portion of it—a theory so preposterous carry its own refutation.
If the theory were once accepted, the presumption of innocence would stand reversed, and a suspected person would have to prove himself guiltless before he could be defended. The fool who protested that he would not venture into the water until he had learned to swim, was a wise man compared with the believers in this theory. If the men of this world were omniscient-the lawyer and the client, the giver and the receiver, the officer and the citizen, the Governor, the Legislature, and the Judge-then might their eyes at a glance detect the stain upon the money which unclean hands offered; but in that blissful state there would be no occasion for the relation of lawyer and client, because judgment would be intuitive and unerring. But how is it now? James Jackson, we will suppose, owns a newspaper, and was engaged, once upon a time, in questionable enterprises: bought up city markets; procured the votes of common councils and legisla tures; won lawsuits, and grew rich. Is the newspaper which he bought with the fruits of these operations clean or unclean? John Jones was a public officer, employed to make contracts for the Government; he received commissions from contractors; was indicted and tried. Were the fees with which he retained counsel-I beg pardon, subsidized them— paid out of stolen money? John Doe has just failed, with fifty thousand dollars in bank; other assets of half a million, and debts of two millions; his creditors call him a thief, and charge him with purchasing when he knew he could not pay, and they pursue him with arrests and attachments. May he rightfully draw out a fifth part of his bank balance to retain counsel for his defense? Richard Roe is a large importer from abroad, and a large purchaser at home; he is, by nine tenths of his acquaintances, supposed to present exceptionally low invoices at the custom-house, and to purchase by auction goods which must have been smuggled: can a Christian man with a
clear conscience, let to him a storehouse, or receive wages at his hands, or take his alms in church, to say nothing of a counsel fee, if he happens to be indicted for participation in smuggling? Where is the separating and purifying process to begin, and where is it to end? All they who handle unclean money, all presidents of bankrupt corporations who have taken unconscionable salaries, all makers of adulterated wines, dealers in adulterated food, venders of adulterated milk, all who put false labels on their goods or publish lying advertisements to deceive the unwary, all despoilers of foreign authors by pirating their books, all dishonest dealers whoever they may be-these are not only bad citizens, who deserve punishment for their misdeeds, but they are incapable of making a valid transfer or paying for any service, or satisfying any want, that requires the expenditure of money.
The charge against Tweed was in some respects like that against one who, some years ago, was charged by eight indictments with having received as a public officer large sums of money belonging to the United States, to be paid to certain persons for supplies, and obtaining from those persons receipts for such sums, but paying them less, pocketing the difference. He appeared by counsel, who no doubt were paid; but it seems not to have occurred to any one at that time to inquire where the money paid them came from. Not a lamentation was heard that the money of the Government was used to subsidize legal talent in order to screen somebody from punishment. Observe what progress we have made in ten years. And at the rate we are going, it will be impossible, at the end of the next decade, for any man, whose obscurity does not shield him from all observation, to have any dealings with anybody, because by that time every such person will be charged by somebody with something wrong, be it true or false.
Our worthy friend the ex-Governor has not himself wholly escaped the flood of calumny that is beginning to ingulf all professions and all characters, public and private. * * * That was another reason why he should not himself fall into the same error of condemning without hearing. There are occurrences which do not require investigation, and need no explanation, but which, held up before the Governor, might remind him
of the value of caution, if not of charity. He did not half exhaust his subject. He might, for instance, have spoken of the lack of independence in candidates for office. He might have gone back to the time when he was candidate for reëlection to the office of Governor, and found himself in Cooper Institute addressing the electors, and, as it were, asking them for votes. The country then was profoundly agitated at the prospect of what seemed imminent, a President seeking election for a third term. Governor Dix's speech was, as his speeches always are, well composed and well spoken; but one topic was somehow omitted. It seemed to the audience to have been forgotten, and, as he was leaving the stage, he was called back and reminded of the omission. He returned, and what did he say? Instead of telling them how he would act himself, and how he advised them to act, he contented himself with giving this opinion:
"I am asked, fellow-citizens, my opinion as to the third term. Although I have regarded the discussion of this question as premature, I have not hesitated to give a direct answer to any question which has been personally addressed to me. I gave my opinion, when asked in this way, weeks ago, months ago. I have not been willing to thrust myself forward in this canvass, with any declaration of my views frankly, because I know very well that, if I did not answer it directly, a misconstruction would be put upon my silence. I say then, distinctly, that I am not in favor of a third term. Forty years ago, fellow-citizens, in one of the first speeches I ever made in public, I proposed an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, extending the Presidential term to six years, and making the President ineligible for the next six. I have repeated this proposition over and over again, in resolutions and addresses at public meetings, and, until such an amendment to the Constitution can be made, I am, as I have always been, in favor of adhering to the rule which had its origin in the patriotic breast of Washington, which has been held sacred by his successors for more than three quarters of a century, and which has acquired in practice a force almost as potential as if it had been ingrafted on the constitutional compact. It has sunk deep into the hearts of the people, and I believe any disposition to violate it would be received with marked disfavor. I do not believe that such a purpose exists anywhere. Washington and Jackson, who were rewarded by their country by the highest distinction in its power to give, voluntarily retired from office after having a second time received the highest mark of the confidence and gratitude of their countrymen. General Grant has been rewarded for his great services to the country by the same high distinction, and I do not doubt,
fellow-citizens, that when he deems the proper time has arrived, he will express his desire to be relieved from the cares of office, and give, by his action, additional force to the example of his illustrious predecessors."
Why not say what the people wished to hear, that he was not only opposed to a nomination for a third term, but would vote against the candidate nominated for it, though he were recommended by a hundred conventions? This would have been the kind of language for a statesman, a courageous politician, a leader of the people.
I must not forget another omission, from the January lecture. The preceding summer had been memorable for an attack upon the highest Court of this State, an attack, the like of which had not been seen for malignity and falsehood. The Governor could hardly have forgotten it, for it was recent, and it related to Tweed. Why speak of the demoralization of the times, and omit all mention of that? Are we to infer that he approved it, or that he was afraid to speak his mind concerning it? Whichever it be, let us tell him that, if its success had equaled its purpose, no one act would have done more to undermine the faith of the people in their judicial officers and institutions. Nothing has ever happened in the politics of our State more wicked, and nothing but its impotence saved it from becoming a most alarming evil. Why strain at a gnat and swallow a camel?
But I have said enough to show how grievously the Governor misunderstood his subject, his audience, and himself. Perhaps I have taken his words too seriously, and given them more significance than he intended. But even, if they were spoken hap-hazard, the easy talk of an idle moment, they may be taken in earnest by unsuspecting persons, and should not go unanswered and unrepelled.
There is one part of the lecture which goes part way to redeem the faults of the rest; the concluding portion, in which we are told, in words touching and eloquent, how little, after all, the current of human life has changed in the lapse of ages. The same hopes and fears, the same passions, the same struggles for place and wealth agitated the breasts of those who dwelt on the banks of the Nile and the Tiber, when they were the seats of civilization and power, as move the hearts of men, now that