Mr. Harrison -send-
Eden H. Davis, deceased
If it please the court, and you say brethren of the Bar -
It seems appropriate when one of our number has been taken from us, who was long with us, and who by the power of his intellect and Kindness of his heart, for many years inspired deeply both our respect and affection, that at least some passing notice should be taken of the sad and instructive event.
Our friend is no longer before human tribunals as an advocate-he is a party now in the world of spirits.
As we contemplate this sad event, in this place, the shadows of the past gather over us; the memory of events long gone crowd upon us, and the shades of departed members of this Bar, seem to hover about us, and wait to receive into their midst the spirit of one who was worthy to be a co laborer with them in the profession.
Henceforth he must be to us as one of them.
I, do not propose upon this mournful occasion, to indulge in the language of panegyric.
My regard for the memory of the dead, and for the obligations of the living, would equally rebuke such a course.
The severity of truth, is at once our proper duty and our best consolation.
My knowledge of the early life of Mr. Davis, is very limited, and was derived from himself.
The years of his early manhood were passed in obscurity, and devoted to manual labor, sometimes he was employed as a Carpenter, and at other times in farming.
I, became acquainted with him when I was a student, in the year 1845. He then resided at Morristown, in the North part of this County, and held the office of Justice of the Peace of Hanover Township, his sun was then near its Zenith.
It is said, there is a Divinity that shapes our ends.
Rough hew them as we will, and it may be said that but for the circumstance of the election of Mr. Davis, to this obscure position and his subsequent entry upon the duties thereof.
At this period he attended the sessions of our Courts and acquired a limited practice.
In the year 1849, He removed with his family to this place, and at once entered upon the practice of his profession.
He soon came into active competition with such lawyers as Judge Wm. J.
Peaslee, John Rymand, Judge Logan, Thomas A. Hendricks, Martin M.
Ray, and other distinguished members of the Bar. With few advantages save those anfered by nature, without the benefits of a liberal or collegiate education, Mr. Davis soon rose to the front venule.
He was endowed with a venerable retentive memory, Quick perceptions, and a calm collected self poise, which no excitement could ruffle or disturb.
The excellence of his natural faculties was soon displayed. His assiduity , skill, fidelity in professional engagements, and incorruptible integrity secured public confidence.
In the year 1855, Mr. Davis formed a co-partnership with the late lamented
Judge Cyrus Wright in the practice of the law, and from that time continuously up to 1872, and until he became afflicted with the lingering disease, which terminated in his death.
He had but few equals and no superior as a practitioner at this Bar.
Mr. Davis from the nature of his affliction and disease declined very gradually, and although his death has been expected for many months, the shock it produced, and the tributes of respect to his memory exhibited by his fellow citizens, attest the depth of the public sorrow.
Mr. Davis, was no less remarkable for his social qualities than for the excellence of his legal abilities.
To the young members of the Bar, he always extended a word of Kindness and encouragement, and was always affable and courteous to them., when they deserved it, they were sure of receiving from him instruction and expressions of commendation.
It was this feature in the character of Mr. Davis, that first attracted my attention and won my esteem for him.
Yet he was not a man of negative character by any means. He knew perfectly what was an unworthy act, and had a clear apprehension of who the actor was.
He hated oppression in any form, and anything addressed to him in the shape of dictation was offensive to him and was certain of his rebuke.
Self reliant and determined as Mr. Davis was in all his actions, he was, nevertheless
anciliating. He did not obstinately adhere to things impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, he contented himself with the
nearest approach to it.
Mr. Davis never occupied official position other than the one alluded to, and that of Notary Public.
Although he possessed elements of character which would have enabled him to succeed perhaps in no less degree in politics, than at the Bar.
But coming to the Bar late, with a family and limited means, and having already experienced what many other have, that without means there can be but little leisure, and with leisure not much thought.
He like a true rotary, devoted his remaining years and energies to the shrine of the profession of his choice, with the results of substantial success.
He was no servile follower for breed. And could not like some be led.
His egotism had sometimes been spoken of during his life, but it was the simplest kind of egotism, if indeed it could be called such, and had for its basis a peculiarity in his practice, which was, that in the course of the most protracted trail,
He kept no notes or written memorandum of the testimony, and in his argument to the Court or to the jury, He relied solely upon his memory as to what the evidence had been in the cause, and it is but justice to his memory to say that in this, as a general rule, he was correct.
He had no envy in his composition. He never assailed another, or tried to pull him down that he might rise himself.
Detraction he was not guilty of. He was ambitious, but his ambitions was to surpass you, not to ruin you.
He may have been but too ambitious of success, if so, it is but fair to admit that that is a fault of our profession, especially among its leaders.
It may be said in this connection that there is more truth than fiction in those profound lines of the poet.
He who ascends the mountain top shall find
Its loftiest peeks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
The religious character of Mr. Davis, does not afford matter for special remark from me, further than to say that in his belief he was a universalist.
He attached less importance than is usually done to religious controversial dogmas and ceremonies, and the lines which divide orthodox churches.
He was not a bigot, but in the contrary was tolerant, and could fully appreciate the merits of other denominations.
Mr. Davis, was hospitable and sociable in his private relations. He was a kind husband and an indulgent parent. His tastes and habits were pure and simple. He did not gamble or indulge in the use of intoxicating drinks, and even derided the use of tobacco.
He was endowed with a nice discriminating taste for order and neatness, and readily detected anything out of place either in his office or at his residence.
His dress was neat and plain, deriding all superfluities, and he was particular and neat in his handwriting.
It is the teaching of inspiration that "no man liveth and no man dieth unto himself."
Hence there is a lesson taught no less in the death than in the life of every man, eminently so in the case of one who has filled a large space in the thoughts and regard of his fellow men. Particularly instructive at this time in the event which we now deplore, although the circumstances attending his decease were such as are calculated to assuage rather than aggravate the grief which it must necessarily cause.
The three score and ten making the ordinary period of human life had been nearly reached, and full of years and of professional honors, he has gone to his rest. I know not what kind of monument may be erected to perpetuate his memory, but this I may say, that as long as the Records of the Courts of this County are preserved and resist the corroding effects of time, the memory of Eden H. Davis, will not be lost to any who have ever known him.
1st Resolved that we recognize in the death of our worthy brother Eden H. Davis the hand of that providence to whose dispensation we all bow with reverence and humiliation.
2nd Resolved that the deceased was a worthy citizen exemplary husband and father and one of the brightest ornaments of the Bar from the time of his admission in 1846 until 1872 at which time by reason of age, labor and diseased mind and body he was compelled to retire from the Bar to private life since which time his decline mentally and physically has been continuous until his death on the 31st day of May 1878.
3rd Resolved that we will ever cherish the memory of the deceased with greatful rememberance of his many kind deeds, and we hereby tender our heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved family.
4th Resolved that the members of the Shelby County Bar attend the funeral of our now deceased brother in a body and that they cause a copy of these resolutions to be entered of record in the Shelby Circuit Court, and that the secretary of this meeting furnish the family of the deceased a copy thereof.
Transcribed by Barb Huff