One of the most eloquent tributes ever paid to a dog was delivered by Senator Vest of Missouri some years ago. He was attending court in a country town, and while waiting for the trial of a case in which he was interested he was urged by the attorneys in a dog case to help them. He was paid a fee of $25 by the plaintiff. Voluminous evidence was introduced to show that the defendant had shot the dog in malice, while other evidence went to show that the dog had attacked the defendant. Vest took no part in the trial, and was not disposed to speak. The attorneys, however, urged him to make a speech, else their client would not think he had earned his fee. Being thus urged, he arose, scanned the face of each juryman for a moment, and said:
"Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter, that he has reared with loving care, may prove ungrateful. Those that are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him perhaps, when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.
"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 winter winds blow and snow drifts fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will guard the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When any 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 journeys 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 his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away and 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."
Then Vest sat down. He had spoken in a low voice without a gesture. He made no reference to the evidence or the merits of the case. When he finished, the judge and jury were wiping their eyes. The jury filed out, and soon returned with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $500. He had sued for $200. It is even said some of the jurors wanted to hang the defendant.