Great lawyers… The Devil and Daniel Webster (bumped).

I came across favorite 25 short stories by accident.  By accident as well, I came across last night an old movie I had never seen, “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” I was riveted, even though there were some exaggerated acting moments…  Equally by accident I remembered the name given to the one who sells his soul to the devil, “Jabez”...  Sometime in 2oo1, there was a little book that came out about the power of a prayer to Jabez…  Also, by accident, I discovered that the author of that prayer book quit on his project in Zimbabwe.

Despite all these accidental turns, I loved the movie, especially the dialogue between the devil and Daniel Webster:

Dan’l Webster’s brow looked dark as a thundercloud. “Pressed or not, you shall not have this man,” he thundered. “Mr. Stone is an American citizen, and no American citizen may be forced into the service of a foreign prince. We fought England for that in ’12 and we’ll fight all hell for it again!”

“Foreign?” said the stranger. “And who calls me a foreigner?”

“Well, I never yet heard of the dev–of your claiming American citizenship,” said Dan’l Webster with surprise.

“And who with better right?” said the stranger, with one of his terrible smiles. “When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on her deck. Am I not in your books and stories and beliefs, from the first settlements on? Am I not spoken of, still, in every church in New England? ‘Tis true the North claims me for a Southerner, and the South for a Northerner, but I am neither. I am merely an honest American like yourself–and of the best descent–for, to tell the truth, Mr. Webster, though I don’t like to boast of it, my name is older in this country than yours.”

“Aha!” said Dan’l Webster, with the veins standing out in his forehead. “Then I stand on the Constitution! I demand a trial for my
client!”

“The case is hardly one for an ordinary court,” said the stranger, his eyes flickering. “And, indeed, the lateness of the hour–”

“Let it be any court you choose, so it is an American judge and an American jury!” said Dan’l Webster in his pride. “Let it be the quick or the dead; I’ll abide the issue!”

“You have said it,” said the stranger, and pointed his finger at the door. And with that, and all of a sudden, there was a rushing of wind outside and a noise of footsteps. They came, clear and distinct, through the night. And yet, they were not like the footsteps of living men.

Read more here.

About Barbara Dillon Hillas

Mother of global nomads; wife of diplomat; peripatetic lawyer; annotator of foreign service life, rule of law, culture, travel, & whatever strikes my fancy.
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3 Responses to Great lawyers… The Devil and Daniel Webster (bumped).

  1. Pingback: The devil and the Pope. | Dum Spiro SperoDum Spiro Spero

  2. Pingback: The mocking of lawyers. | Dum Spiro SperoDum Spiro Spero

  3. Webster takes all the predictions in stride, and asks only if the Union will prevail. Scratch reluctantly admits that, though a war will be fought for it, the United States will remain united. Webster then laughs and kicks him out of the house. It is said that the devil never did come back to New Hampshire afterward.

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