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22 Vand. L. Rev. 21 (1968-1969)

handle is hein.journals/vanlr22 and id is 33 raw text is: ELLIOTT E. CHEATHAM

A Knight there was, and that a worthy' man
That fro the tyme that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredon and curteisie..
And though that he was worthy, he was wys,
And of his port as meeke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vileynye ne sayde
In al his lyf unto no manner wight.
He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.
-Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue 11. 43-46, 68-72.
A verray, parfit gentil knight! Was there ever a more apt
description of an individual than this is of Elliott Cheatham? It's so
apt it's almost a caricature. The angular, erect carriage. The soft and
soothing, yet vigorous and resonant voice. The dignity that carries a
strong sense of respect of self and others, yet of his port as meeke as
is a mayde. The rectitude that one feels from his mere presence, not
coming from a sense of self-rightousness, but from a love of trouth
and honour, fredon' and curteisie. The wysdom of a Nestor. The
loyalty to institutions and friends, and the moral and physical courage
which one would automatically associate with a parfit knyght. The
true consideration and innate kindness and gentilness that come from
an instinctive sensitivity for the feelings of others. Even the antique
spelling seems appropriate. There is an aroma of old-fashionness
which makes one think of earlier, less-hurried fimes and wish that he,
too, could grow old in such a gracious fashion. That overworked
cliche, a true Southern gentleman, is neither overworked nor cliche
when it is applied to him.
Yet all of this is deceptive and misleading. For Elliott Cheatham
is a man of young ideas-often radical ones. His thoughts and plans
are of the future, and he looks to the past only for the lessons it gives
as to how the future can be improved. He thinks always of the
energizing forces of the law.'2 He sees the turmoil and vicissitudes of
contemporary society as a challenge to the law, the lawyer, and the
1. My edition of Chaucer carries a glossary which defines the word as meaning freedom,
or liberality-generosity. I'll accept both meanings.
2. This phrase was taken by him from an article by Harlan F. Stone, when he was U.S.
Attorney General. Stone, The Future of Legal Education, 10 A.B.A.J. 233, 234 (1924); Instead


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