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Many of his friends, not here today, have been called this last year to other tasks and places that need them during the war. They, like ourselves, because of him are better able to understand and win through for Democracy, an ideal that held his faith and that he did so much to make a practical reality.
In honoring him this morning, the inspiration that always came from him during life will come anew to us.
On motion of Mr. Solicitor General Fahy, Judge Calvert Magruder was elected Chairman and Mr. Charles Elmore Cropley, Secretary.
On taking the Chair, Judge Magruder said:
Amid the din and distractions of war, we do not forget to honor our great men of peace. Thus, we are met today to pay merited tribute to Louis D. Brandeis and to his work as citizen, lawyer and judge. Your Committee on Resolutions2 has prepared a report, which will now be presented by Mr. Lloyd Garrison.
Mr. Lloyd Garrison, acting on behalf of this Committee, presented resolutions which, after the following addresses by Judge Learned Hand, Mr. Paul A. Freund and Senator George W. Norris, were adopted and later presented to the Court, post, pp. xxrx—xxxvi.
2The members of this Committee were: Honorable Calvert Magruder, Chairman; Messrs. H. Thomas Austern, Charles C. Burlingham, W. Graham Claytor, Jr., Benjamin V. Cohen, Warren S. Ege, Herbert B. Ehrmann, Morris Ernst, Alvin E. Evans, George E. Farrand, Adrian S. Fisher, Bernard Flexner, Henry J. Friendly, Lloyd Garrison, Henry M. Hart, Arthur D. Hill, Mark Howe, Charles E. Hughes, Jr., Willard Hurst, Louis L. Jaffe, David Lilienthal, Jack Neale Lott, Jr., Archibald MacLeish, Joseph Warren Madden, Samuel H. Maslon, William E. McCurdy, Robert N. Miller, George Maurice Morris, Nathaniel L. Nathanson, John Lord CBrian, Robert G. Page, David Riesman, Jr., William G. Rice, Jr., Harry S. Shulman, Henry L. Stimson, Hatton W. Sumners, William A. Sutherland, Frederick Van Nuys, Robert F. Wagner, and Charles Warren.
The Chairman responded:
Mr. Justice Brandeis was a man of many sides. We are now to hear addresses from various viewpoints: from a distinguished federal judge; from a former law clerk of the Justice, a law professor now serving in the Office of the Solicitor General; and from an honored elder statesman, who has labored in the halls of Congress to make a political reality of the principles for which Louis D. Brandeis stood.
Address of the
A man's life, like a piece of tapestry, is made up of many strands which interwoven make a pattern; to separate a single one and look at it alone, not only destroys the whole, but gives the strand itself a false value. So it must be with what I say today; this is no occasion to appraise the life and work of the man whose memory we have met to honor. It would be impossible at this time to do justice to the content of so manifold a nature and so full a life; its memorial stands written at large, chiefly in the records of his court; perhaps best preserved in the minds of living men and women. Before passing to my theme, I can therefore do no more than allude to much that I can ill afford to leave out: for instance, to his almost mystic reverence for that court, whose tradition seemed to him not only to consecrate its own members, but to impress its sacred mission upon all who shared in any measure in its work, even menially. To his mind nothing must weaken its influence or tarnish its lustre; no matter how hot had been the dispute, how wide the final difference, how plain the speech, nothing ever appeared to ruffle or disturb his serenity, or to suggest that he harbored anything but regard and respect for the views of his colleagues, however far removed from his own. Nor can I more than mention the clear, ungarnished style which so well betrayed the will that lay behind; the undiverted purpose to clarify and convince. How it eschewed all that might distract attention from the thought to its expression. The telling phrase, the vivid metaphor, the far-fetched word that teases the reader and flatters him with the vanity of recognition—these must not obtrude upon that which alone mattered: that conviction should be carried home. So put it that your hearers shall not be aware of the medium; so put it that they shall not feel you, yet shall be possessed of what you say. If style be the measure of the man, here was evidence of that insistence upon fact and reason which was at once his weapon and his shield. Others too must speak of the fiery nature which showed itself when stirred, but which for the most part lay buried beneath an iron control; of that ascesis, which seemed so to increase that towards the end one wondered at times whether, like some Eastern sage, the body's grosser part had not been quite burnt away and mere spirit remained; of those quick flashes of indignation at injustice, pretence, or oppression. These and much more which would make the figure stand out more boldly against its background, I shall not try to portray:—I must leave them to others who can speak more intimately and with more right.
At the risk of which I spoke a moment ago, I mean to choose a single thread from all the rest, which I venture to believe leads to the heart and kernel of his thinking, and—at least at this present—to the best of his teaching. I mean what I shall describe as his hatred of the mechanization of life. This he carried far indeed; as to it he lived at odds with much of the movement of his time. In many modern contrivances which to most of us seem innocent acquisitions of mankind—the motor car for instance—he saw a significance hostile to life's deeper, truer values. If he compromised as to a very few, the exceptions only served to emphasize the consistency of his conviction that by far the greater part of what passes for improvement, and is greedily converted into necessity, is tawdry, vain and destructive of spiritual values. In addition, he also thought that the supposed efficiency with which these wants were supplied was illusory, even technologically. He had studied large industrial aggregations as few have and was satisfied that long before consolidation reached its modern size, it began to go to pieces at the top. There was a much earlier limit to human ability; minds did not exist able to direct such manifold and intricate structures. But that was only an incident; the important matter was the inevitable effect of size upon the individual, even though it neither limited nor impaired efficiency. Allied with this was his attitude towards concentration of political power which appeared so often in what he said from the bench. Indeed, his determination to preserve the autonomy of the states—though it went along with an unflinching assertion of federal power in matters which he reckoned truly national—amounted almost to an obsession. Haphazard as they might be in origin, and even devoid of much present significance, the states were the only breakwater against the ever pounding surf which threatened to submerge the individual and destroy the only kind of society in which personality could survive.
As is the case with all our convictions, the foundation for all this lay in his vision of the Good Life. It is, I know, a little incongruous to quote from another's vision of the Good Life who was in most respects at the opposite pole of belief and feeling; but nevertheless there comes to my mind a scrap from the inscription above the gate of the Abbey of Theleme.
"Here enter you, pure, honest, faithful, true,
"Come, settle here a charitable faith,
He believed that there could be no true community save that built upon the personal acquaintance of each with each; by that alone could character and ability be rightly gauged; without that "neighborly affection" which would result no "faith" could be nourished, "charitable" or other. Only so could the latent richness which lurks in all of us come to flower. As the social group grows too large for mutual contact and appraisal, life quickly begins to lose its flavor and its significance. Among multitudes relations must become standardized; to standardize is to generalize, and to generalize is to ignore all those authentic features which mark, and which indeed alone create, an individual. Not only is there no compensation for our losses, but most of our positive ills have directly resulted from great size. With it has indeed come the magic of modern communication and quick transport; but out of these has come the sinister apparatus of mass suggestion and mass production. Such devices, always tending more and more to reduce us to a common model, subject us—our hard-won immunity now gone—to epidemics of hallowed catchword and formula. The herd is regaining its ancient and evil primacy; civilization is being reversed, for it has consisted of exactly the opposite process of individualization—witness the history of law and morals. These many inventions are a step backward; they lull men into the belief that because they are severally less subject to violence, they are more safe; because they are more steadily fed and clothed, they are more secure from want; because their bodies are cleaner, their hearts are purer. It is an illusion; our security has actually diminished as our demands have become more exacting; our comforts we purchase at the cost of a softer fibre, a feebler will and an infantile suggestibility.
I am well aware of the reply to all this; it is on every tongue. "Do not talk to us," you say, "of the tiny city Utopias of Plato or Aristotle; or of Jefferson with his dream of a society of hardy, self-sufficient freeholders, living in proud, honorable isolation, however circumscribed. Those days are gone forever, and they are well lost. The vast command over Nature which the last century gave to mankind and which is but a fragmentary earnest of the future, mankind will not forego. The conquest of disease, the elimination of drudgery, the freedom from famine, the enjoyment of comfort, yes even that most doubtful gift, the not too distant possession of a leisure we have not yet learned to use—on these, having once tasted them,