The Story of Old DrumGeorge Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as U.S. Senator from Missouri
from 1879 to 1903 and became one of the leading orators and debaters of
his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life
when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court
while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog.
During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to
present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech (this is
a portion of it) and won the case.

“The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this
selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never
proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. 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 him against danger, to fight against
his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his
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 the graveside
will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad,
but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.”

George Graham Vest – c. 1855

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