When Lincoln became a lawyer, he carried to the bar his habitual honesty. His associates were often surprised by his utter disregard of self-interest, while they could but admire his conscientious defense of what he considered right. One day a stranger called to secure his services.
"State your case," said Lincoln.
A history of the case was given, when Lincoln astonished him by saying:
"I cannot serve you; for you are wrong, and the other party is right."
"That is none of your business, if I hire and pay you for taking the case," retorted the man.
"Not my business!" exclaimed Lincoln. "My business is never to defend wrong, if I am a lawyer. I never undertake a case that is manifestly wrong."
"Well, you can make trouble for the fellow," added the applicant.
"Yes," replied Lincoln, fully aroused, "there is no doubt but that I can gain the case for you, and set a whole neighborhood at loggerhead. I can distress a widowed mother and her six fatherless children, and thereby get for you six hundred dollars, which rightly belongs as much to the woman and her children as it does to you; but I wonít do it."
"Not for any amount of pay?" continued the stranger.
"Not for all you are worth," replied Lincoln. "You must remember that some things which are legally right are not morally right. I shall not take your case."
"I donít care a snap whether you do or not!" exclaimed the man angrily, starting to go.
"I will give you a piece of advice without charge," added Lincoln. "You seem to be a sprightly, energetic man; I would advise you to make six hundred dollars some other way."