Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wednesday, January 31, 1934

Walked to school with Pauline. It was cold this morning. I paid my English fee for literature Monday.

Statue of Old Drum
Johnson County Courthouse
Warrensburg, MO

Long story short:
Old Drum was a foxhound named Drum (or Old Drum) that had been killed in 1869 by a
sheep farmer. The farmer had previously announced his intentions to kill any dog found on his
 property. The dog's owner was suing for damages in the amount of $50, the maximum allowed by law.

George Graham Vest, a lawyer as well as a politician, represented the dog's owner and vowed
he would "win the case or apologize to every dog in Missouri." Vest's closing argument to the
jury made no reference to any of the testimony offered during the trial, and instead offered a
eulogy of sorts. Vest won the case (a possibly apocryphal story of the case says that the jury
awarded $500 to the dog's owner) and also won its appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Only a partial transcript of Vest's "Eulogy on the Dog" has survived and it follows:

"Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become
his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those
who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name
may become traitors to their fairth. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from
him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of
ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when
success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud
upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world,
the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is
his dog.

Gentlemen of the jury: A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in
health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow
and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the
hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters
with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were
a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and
reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through
the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the
faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against
danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes
the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all
other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his
head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true
even to death."

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