His Versatility of Talent
Keeping abreast of the times as he did, he knew the latest theories, discoveries, and inventions, – all that was going on in the world of science and art, of men and measures. Nothing seemed to escape his notice, or to be beyond his grasp. His range of information was truly encyclopedic. It was said of him, as of another eminent publicist – I think it was of Col. Theodore Roosevelt: – “He had the greatest and most accurate knowledge on the largest number of subjects, of any man I ever knew.”
He had a mathematical knowledge that made him an adept in figures and much more than an amateur in astronomy. He knew the names of all the constellations with their principal stars, and loved by night to sweep the heavens with his powerful telescope, and observe the phases of the moon and movements of the planets and their satellites. This love of astronomy and aptness with figures, he said, “ran in the family,” was an inherited gift from his mother.
He was also a well-known student of sociology and a past-master in domestic and political economy, a wise and far-seeing publicist and an enlightened statesman – an ardent Republican, but not an office – seeker, or politician, out for the spoils.
If his role as a lawyer required a knowledge of diseases and their symptoms and treatment, by the study of medical treatises bearing on his case he became, for the nonce, a pathologist; of surgery a surgeon; of finance a financier, – and so with many of the applied and useful arts.
The many railway, telegraph and patent suits he tried made of him a railroad organizer, director, and president, an electrician and industrial expert. He once tried a case in which the plaintiff had been injured in a railroad accident, and so astonished the Court and experts that a surgeon in attendance, surprised at his technical knowledge of anatomy, asked him when and where he had experimented, and from what institution he had graduated. His wonderful capacity for acquiring knowledge needed on any subject accounts for this versatility.