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Thursday, August 15, 1889

Thursday, August 15, 1889

5.45 P.M. W. sitting in bedroom. Just had his dinner. It was clouded: did not know if to go out would be advisable. I returned him the missionary piece. He was very communicative about it. "It seems to me this presents the outline of an ideal personality—nobly great and fine, Christ-like, otherlike. I suppose there's somewhere a good deal to go along with this—facts, experiences—but as it stands, here was a typical man." Then he laughed and when I looked at him, referred to Unitarian missionary to Japan. "It forcibly reminds us of Carlyle, preaching silence in 30 or 40 volumes or more!"

Had read in the morning's papers, accounts of the shooting of Judge Terry in the west.

[Opening paragraph of long newspaper account]—: Lathrop, Cal., Aug. 14.—Ex-Judge David S. Terry, was shot and killed by Deputy United States Marshal David Nagle at the breakfast table in the Depot Hotel this morning. The shooting was caused by an assault made by Terry upon Justice Stephen J. Field, of the United States Supreme Court.
Said to me with considerable vim: "I have looked into it all—looked carefully—at least into the newspaper accounts. I know there is much more to be said than is found in these accounts—more than on the surface: that there are 3 or 4 years there to be accounted for—bitter years, maybe—eventful. But nevertheless the story—its pertinent points, hints, suggestions—is clear to me as it stands. It seems to me the assertion of the majesty of the judiciary—that whether right or wrong—it is not particular—the judges—the panoply—must be sacred—sacred. I confess, I like it—I like the act, approve it: it is one of the few violent deeds, out of the hurrying, crowding, record of newspaper horrors, which commends itself as a moral benefit. It is in fact, the declaration of our government—a declaration much needed in the face of desperadoes, now getting to be many and many,—the declaration of our government that from this day forth the judiciary shall not be slapped in the face—shall be backed by all the power that resides in the arm of the state. Personally, I am always slow to say any word for violent settlement: this you know: but this case is out of the common run—far out. I think we have in the main been very fortunate in our judiciary—almost all the way through—men chiefly incorruptible. Often enough wrong-seeing—but that never to be helped. That deputy—will they do anything with him? I think now—how could they?—what? He was a dead shot—a prompt man—in fact that was the place for a prompt and—for no other. The great significance of the event to me was in the stern determination of the government to protect the Justice at all hazards—that, barring all else—aside from all other knowledge to come—is, to me, its continental significance." So he talked, very vigorously. Yet he had had "a very bad day indeed—without a break, till the afternoon." W. gave me money for insurance, renewing for 6 mos. Returned to me Amiel and "Looking Backward"—which he had found yesterday after I left and laid out for me. Said: "Gilchrist was over last night—stayed during the rain" but "brought nothing new."

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