------------*-*- II -- '
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
MRS. L. C. TUTHILL.
"We h on erth ua other me, have &n:
Wm tbhy mn mfe l Let -l delsp."
" I the lexicon ofyoth, which FRte m m
For a bright masood, thU is no mek we
GEORGE P. PATTNAM.
LOND6N: PUTNAM'S AMERICAN AGOCY.
Rmazu, according to Act or Congres. Is "h yew 1M0, by
GEORGE P. PUTNAM,
IsteClark's06a of the Dititc Court of the United St" fer AhS Boatwu
Diphic1 of NeW Y.&
NDWADI) 0. JEKINS, PUINTXRn N STBUUOr"n3
No. 114 Nasaeu Btreet. New York
Givz me the best possible example of an American Law -
yer-a model for the young men of our country.
"The late Jeremiah Mason, of Boston," was the prompt
I recommend to your notice John Jay, of New York,"
"Bring forward Chief Justice Marshall as a glorious ex-
ample I" exclaimed a fervent admirer of that great man.
Do not forget Pinckney, of Maryland, one of the ablest
lawyers this country has produced," added a fourth adviser.
William Wirt would prove the most exciting and encour-
aging example to the youthful aspirant to legal distinction."
Stay, stay I my good friends, you have already made out
a brilliant constellation of bright particular stars "-may-
they prove guiding-stars to success.
It is bt an humble task to daguerreotype from spirited
painting executed by others. Yet, a similar task i at-
tempted in this little volume. The original likenesses were
drawn by great masters,* and the full-length pprtraita will,
doubtless, be carefully studied, when after years give time
Webster, Jay, Wheaton, Kennedy.
CHAPTER L PAM
Jeremiah Mason, .
Self-onSfdence.-Gouvenour Mori, 1
John Jay .
Unity of Purpoae.-John Marshall, . ,
William Pinney, .. 4
EnerM and PeMeverae.-Will-m Pl y, . I
William Wirt'e Childhood, . . ..
William Wirt Boyhood, . .
William Wirt Admitted to the Bar, .
CHAPTER XI. rAox
William Wirt' Legal Prg 91
A Prophecy, 94
Moderty and Emulatio, 99
William Wirt's Advice to a Young Lawyer, 118
Wirt and Pinckney, 120
The Closing Scene, . 16
General Learning.-Legark Parker, Du Poneau, 199
Religious Prinaiple Chief Justice Tilghman and Oharles
Ohauncey, Esq., . 1
No .. 18
Who Sha leplte
With trath the soal of latltual rank 1"
"The moet Imprtant thing in life is the choloe of a proflmln."*-PaeeL
LET no boy think of becoming a lawyer, unless
one, better qualified than himself, discover his talentr,-
talents peculiarly adapted to that learned profesion.
A ue for everything, and vb7thl to its use.
Do not spoil a good merchant or mechanic, by moiling
through life a poor lawyer.
Neither should the mistakes of partial friends mislead.
"That boy is a famous disputer" says a proud father;
" he can always make the wrong appear the better rea-
son; he will make a capital lawyer."
Because he is like a snarling puppy, biting at every-
body's heels No, sir; he is not the boy for a lawyer.
My son is as running as a fox," says the fond moth-
er, whose watchful eye he evades; "he will do right well
for a lawyer."
** La chose is plus important a Is vie, 'et Ie choiz d'a matir.
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
Low cunning is the mark of a small mind. Wisdom
can find no room there.
That fellow has a glib tongue of his own; he will
make a great noise at the bar," says the schoolmaster,
who has been deceived by the ready recitations, which
have been merely an effort of memory. The mill may
make as much noise when there is no grist in the hop-
per, as when it is full. The schoolmaster should remem-
ber,-vox et preterea nihil.
"But here is an incipient lawyer surely, for he is al-
ways setting the other boys by the ears!"
A pitiful mistake It is the business of the lawyer
to gi people out of difficulties, not the mean, detestable
ffort to plunge them into quarrels which this boy's con-
duct exhibits. As well might you say, that the steam-
engine was made on purpose to blow people up-sky-high.
Study well your own capabilities. Does your heart
thrill at the burning words of eloquence ? The noble deeds
of great men, do they fill you with enthusiasm ? Do
they excite in you a fervent determination to act a glori-
ous part in the life-drama Are you filled with an irn
tense desire to defend the cause of the oppressed, to re-
store the injured to their rights, to sustain the laws of
your country 1
Ambition may be a noble, generous passion, or it may
be the meanest, and most selfish of all passions,--
"That sin by which the rebel angels fell."
THE LAWYER. 11
The ambition of an unprincipled man of genius, is vastly
different from that of the man who is" great through sound
sense and strong judgment." These are far better qual-
ifieations for a lawyer, than that indefinite attribute-
We acknowledge that there is an aptness or fitness for
a particular calling or profession, which is usually mani-
fested in boyhood;(1.) and this should, if possible, be fol-
(1.) The examples to illustrate "Success in Life" are purpoely
drawn fom the biography of our own countrymen, yet reference to dis-
tinguished me of other countries will occasionally be made in their.
William Pitt, son of the first Earl of Chatham, was little meas the
fourteen years of age when he went to reside at the U nid iab f
Cambridge. At that time, says his biographer, Dr. Totfliitrer
wards Bishop of Winchester, who was also his tutor, "his proadeley
in the learned languages was probably greater than was ever acquired
by any other person in such early youth. In Latin authors he seldom
met with difficulty, and it was no uncommon thing for hiu to read
into English six or seven pages of Thucydides which he had not pre
viously seen; sometimes without a mistake. He had such an eract-
nes in dibhainating the sense of words, and so peculiar a penetra-
tio n in sing at once the meaning of writers, that he never seemed
to learn, bat only to recollect. Nor was it in learning only, that Mr.
Titt was so superior to persons f his age. Though a boy in years d '
appearance, hi manners were Imed and his behavior manly. He
mixed in conversation with unaffected ivacity, and delivered is sen-
timents with perfect ease, equally fee fm shyness and dippaney,
and always with strict attention to propriety and decorum.
While Mr, Pitt was an under-graduate, he never omitted attending
dapel, morning and evening, or dining in the public hall, elpt
when prevented by indisposition. Nor did he pass a single evening
out of the college walls. His sweetness of temper and vivacity of
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
lowed out. To attempt putting another upon the boy,
will usually be but labor in vain; and what is so plastered
on will at best but set untowardly, and have always hang-
ing to it the ungracefulness of constraint and affecta-
disposition endeared him to me in a degree which I should in vain
attempt to express.
At the age of seventeen he began to mix with other young men of
his age and station, then resident at Cambridge, and no one was ever
more admired by his acquaintance and friends. He was always the
most lively person in company, abounding in playful wit and repartee,
but never known to excite pain or give just ground of offense.
Though his society was universally sought, and from the age of sev-
enteen or eighteen he constantly passed his evenings in company, he
steadily avoided every species of irregularity, and he continued to pur-
sue his studies with ardent zeal and unremitted diligence during his
whole residence in the university. In the course of this time I never
knew him to spend an idle day, nor did he ever fail to attend me at
the appointed hour. At this early period there was the same firm-
eDOS of principle and rectitude of conduct, which marked his character
in the more advanced stages of life."
(S.) It is Jid of Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England,-" While he
was yet a ild, the signs of genius, for which he was in after life
distingul*d,'ooeld not have escaped the notice of his intelligent
parents. they must have been conscious of his extraordinary pow-
es, and of their responsibility, that, upon the right direction of his
ind, his future eminence, whether as a statesman or as a philosopher,
almost wholly depended. In his twelfth year he was meditating upon
the laws of the imagination. At thirteen, he was sent, fully prepared,
to the University of Cambridge. In one of his essysy Bsooe says,
"Ostom is most perfect whei it beginneth in young years; this is what
we all education, which is, in efect, but an early custom." And yet
this same wise man says:-" The mould of a man's fortunes is in his
"Great through ond ss and stron judgment;
Great by comprehensive views of things;
OGnet by high and elevated purpoe."-Diel FWstr.
JEREMIAH MASON was by birth and education a Con-
necticut man. That little State has been the nursery
from which thousands and ten thousands have gone forth,
to every part of the Union, to fill the high places of the
The ancestors of Jeremiah Mason, for several genera-
tions, had resided in the north-east section of that State,
and one of his near relations still owns the very property
purchased from the Indian sachem, Unaa. It lies in
the town of Lebanon, in Windham county. There Jer-
emiah Mason was born, on the 27th of April, 1768. He
was the sixth of nine children. His father was a man of.
" considerable opulence, and highly esteemed by the com-
munity." Moreover, he was a truly good man.
His mother," says Mr. Webster, was distinguish-
ed for a good understanding, much discretion, the purity
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
of her heart and affections, and the exemplary kindness
and benevolence of her life. It was her great anxiety
to give all her children the best education, within the
means of the family, which the state of the country
would allow, and she was particularly desirous that Jere-
miah should be sent to college."
In my recollection of my mother," says Mr. Mason,
" she was the personification of love, kindness, and be-
nevolence." Blessed tribute of grateful memory from
such a son!
At sixteen years of age, young Mason was sent to
Yale College, in his native State, and there was gradua-
ted in 1784. He received one of the honors of the class
and performed a part in the Commencement exercises,
which greatly raised the expectations of his friends, and
gratified and animated his love for distinction.
In the course of a long and active life," says he, I
recollect no occasion when I have experienced such eleva-
tion of feeling."
Mr. Mason was destined for the law, and commenced
the study of that profession with Mr. Baldwin,(8.) at New
Haven. From thence, after a year, he went to Vermont,
and studied in the office of Stephen Rowe Bradley.
(L) The Ho. Simeon Baldwin, of New Haven, "a gentleman who has
lived to perform important public and private duties; has served his
country in Congress, and p the bench of the Supreme Court of Con-
necticut, and still lives to hear the account of the peaceful death of his
Having completed the required course of preparatory
study, Mr. Mason was admitted to the bar in Vermont
and New Hampshire.
A few miles below Walpole, in New Hampshire, at
Westmoreland, he commenced practice, at the age of
twenty-three. But Walpole being a larger village,
where he could find congenial society and more busi-
ness, he wisely determined to remove to that place.
A journey to Virginia, at this period, formed an inter-
esting variety in the life of the young lawyer. He men-
tions having been highly gratified with seeing Presi-
dent Washington, and was charmed by the urbanity and
dignity of his manner. He also heard Fisher Ames make
his celebrated speech upon the British Treaty.
From Walpole, Mr. Mason removed to Portsmouth,
and there his practice became extensive. A few years
after his removal, he was appointed Attorney-General of
the State of New Hampshire. Very much confined to
his profession, he never sought office or political elevation.
Yet he was at length persuaded to accept the post of a Sen-
ator of the United States, and took his seat there in June,
1818. He was at once acknowledged as holding a high
position among the great men who were there assembled.
But the law was his forte, and for that he determined
to relinquish political eminence. He resigned his seat in
the Senate in 1817. In 1882, Mr: Mason removed to
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
This slight sketch of Jeremiah Mason has been pre-
sented, merely as an introduction to the character given
of him by Mr. Webster; than whom, surely, no one
understands better, what qualifications make the com-
plete lawyer. It should be carefully studied by all who
aim at success in the profession.
The characteristics of Mr. Mason's mind, as I think,
were real greatness, strength, and sagacity. He was
.great through sound sense and sound judgment. Great
by comprehensive views of things. Great by high and
elevated purposes. Perhaps sometimes he was too cau-
tious and refined, and his distinctions became too minute;
but his discrimination arose from a force of intellect, and
quick-seeing, far-reaching sagacity, everywhere discern-
ing his object, and pursuing it steadily. Whether it
was popular or professional, he grasped a point and held
it with a firm hand. He was sarcastic sometimes, but
not frequently; not frothy or petulant, but cool and
vitriolic. Unfortunate for him on whom his sarcasm
His conversation was as remarkable as his efforts at
the bar. 6I was original, fresh, and suggestive; never
dull or indifferent. He never talked when he had no-
thing to say. He was particularly agreeable, edifying,
and instructive to all about him.
"As a professional man, Mr. Mason's great ability lay
in the department of the Common Law. In this part of
THE LAWYT 17
jurisprudence, he was profoundly learned. He had drunk
copiously from its deepest springs; and he had studied
with diligence and success the departures from the Eng-
lish Common Law, which had taken place in this country,
either necessarily, from difference of condition, or posi-
tively, by force of our own statutes. In his addresses,
both to courts and juries, he affected to despise all elo-
quence, and certainly disdained all ornament; but his ef-
forts, whether addressed to one tribunal or the other, were
marked by a degree of clearness, directness, and force,
not easy to be equalled.
But political eminence and professional fame fade
away, and die with all things earthly. Nothing of char-
acter is really permanent, but virtue and personal worth.
These remain. Whatever of excellence is wrought into
the soul itself, belongs to both worlds. Real goodness
does not attach itself merely to this life; it points to
another world. Political or professional reputation can-
not last forever; but a conscience void of offence before
God and man, is an inheritance for eternity. Religion,
therefore, is a necessary and indispensable element in
any great human character. There is no living with-
out it. Religion is the tie that connects man with his
Creator, and holds him to His throne. If that tie be all
sundered, all broken, he floats away, a worthless atom
in the universe; its proper attractions all gone, its des-
tiny thwarted, and its whole future nothing but dark-
BUCCES IN LIFE.
nes, desolation, and death. A man with no sense of re-
ligious duty, is he whom the Scriptures describe-in such
-terse but terrific manner-as living without God in the
world." Such a man is out of his proper being, out of
the circle of all his duties, out of the circle of all his
happiness, and away, far, far away, from the purposes
of his creation.
A mind like Mr. Mason's-active, thoughtful, pene-
trating, sedate-could not but meditate deeply over the
condition of man below, and feel its responsibilities. He
could not look on this wondrous frame,
'This universal frame, thus wondrous fair,
without feeling that it was created and upheld by an In-
telligence, to which all other intelligence must be respon-
sible. I am bound to say, that in the course of my life,
I never met with an individual, in any profession or con-
dition of life, who always spoke, and always thought,
with such awful reverence of the power and presence of
God. No irreverence, no lightness, even no too familiar
allusion to God and His attributes, ever escaped his lips.
The very notion of a Supreme Being was, with him, made
up of mm and solemnity. It filled the whole of his great
mind with-the strongest emotions. A man like him, with
all hi proper sentiments and sensibilities alive in him,
must, in this state of existence, have something to be-
lieve, and something to hope for; or else, as life is ad-
vancing to its close and parting, all is heart-sinking ad
oppression. Depend upon it, whatever may be the iltd
of an old man, old age is only really happy when, on fel- '
ing the enjoyments of this world pass away, it begins to
lay a stronger hold 'on those of another.
Mr. Mason's religious sentiments and feelings were
the crowning glories of his character.
Mr. Mason died in old age, not by a violent stroke
from the hand of death; not by a sudden rupture of the
ties of nature, but by a gradual wearing out of his con-
stitution. He enjoyed through life, indeed, remarkable
health. He took competent exercise, loved the open air,
and avoiding all extreme theories or practice, controlled
his habits of life by the rules of prudence and modera-
His whole life, marked by uniform greatness, wisdom,
and integrity; his deep humility, his profound reverence
for the Divine Majesty, his habitual preparation for
death, his humble trust in his Saviour, left nothing to be
desired for the consolation of his family under this great
loss. He was gradually prepared for hi departure.
His last years were passed in calm retirement; and he
died as he wished to die,-with his faculties unimpaired,
without great pain, his family around his bed, and the
precious promises of the Gospel before his mind." *
Here is, indeed, a character suited for the yomng
man's model. Trace its lineaments, as drawn by the
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
hand of a master. Ponder upon it, analyse it, for it wi
bear the nicest scrutiny.(4.) It will demonstrate to yo
that a lawyer, in spite of his peculiar temptations, may
be a truly religious man, and be acknowledged as such
by the whole community.
Chief Justice Shaw recommends the character of Mr.
Mason, as an example to all those young men who take
upon themselves the responsibilities, and aspire to the
honors of the legal profession.
"It is true," he says, "that every one cannot feel
assured of the eminent natural gifts which characterized
Mr. Mason's mind; but all can imitate the patient study,
the industrious investigation, the unshaken integrity,
and.conscientious fidelity which prominently marked the
career of this eminent Jurist."
(4) Th tre t admiration is that by which we receive other minds
into our own."
"Thing out of hope an ompmed oft with vMterba."-Iethlpr.
"Tihe pnd prctioe question bs, how we us to avod the dukLnes ad the deLt,
and take oar poon ia the fab and frtile. s these a lt et for I th matter.or
is it our own doing "
"So build we ap the being that we ar."- Wordeerth.
SWHEN Sir Walter Raleigh, in a meditative mood,
scribbled the line, I would climb, but fear to fall," he
was, doubtless, "screwing his courage to the sticking-
place." His royal mistress added, "Then why attempt .,
to climb at all?" This taunt stung him to the quick;
his wavering self-confidence was restored and permanently
Disappointments throw weak minds off their balance;
the strong and the wise perceive that they are from
without, and make use of them for their own advantage.
Instead of continuing under the dark and sullen clouds of
discontent, they emerge into clearer light, and go on
with more cheerful alacrity. It has sometimes been
remarked, that great ocoaSions produce great men. Not
so; the great men already are such; they only want
occasions to call forth their talents. Give them a fair
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
field, and the confidence which belongs to true greatness
will enable them to prove their strength.
There is an immense difference between self-confidence
and self-conceit. When the young artist Corregio first
saw the beautiful paintings of Raphael, and exclaimed,
"I, too, am a painter," it was not arrogant self-con-
ceit, it was the consciousness of similar power.
Admiral Nelson was exceedingly piqued, when he was
a young man, because he was not mentioned in a news-
paper paragraph, in which an action was briefly de-
scribed, where he had been present. "Never mind,"
said he, I will one day have a Gazette of my own."
The consciousness of courage and navalskill prompted
this proud resolution. Self-conceit is a wren in peacock's
feathers; self-confidence, the soaring eagle. You may
have been puffed up into overweening conceit of your-
self by the flattery of others, but nothing excepting the
internal conviction of power, can give you self-confidenoe.
"I hve read in some marvelous story,
Same legend strange and vague,"
of a man who was cast upon a desert island, among a
people who had lost their king. The story says not how
he became a runaway; but when the people saw the
stranger, they fansied he was their sovereign, and im-
mediately placed the glittering crown upon his brow,
and the goldenseceptre in his hand. '
"Uneay lies the head that wears a brown "
The hidof the hapless runaway ms, indeed, htve
Men qM7, and &e hand that had lately eld the
plough, or grasped the blacksmith's hammer, must hae
trembled, as it lifted the smptnr. *
Manyj a time and oft would he ha* elinquished
these emblems of power, and with them the g tnese that
had been thrust upon him. But no; he was their king,
.ad a king he must remain.
In a similar condition, many a lawyer has found him-
self; too late, he has discovered that neither by nature
nor by education was he fitted for the profession which
he had chosen, or, still more unfortunately, that which
had been forced upon him.
It is a mistake, fraught with direful consequences, that
a man can only be respectable or distinguished, by be-
longing to one of the learned professions."
As for the honor of different vocations, there never
was a truer sentence than the stale one of Pope-stale
now, because it is so true-
SAct well your prt, thee all the i or lie.'
And it is the just boast of our own country, that in no
oieiliMd nation is the force of this philanthropic maxim
se nobly illustrated as in ours-thgpks to our glorious
When the celebrated Gouverneur Mrris left college,
he lost no time in deliberating on the chose of a profes-
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
sion, for he seems to have destined himselffor the Jaw,
from the time of his first reflections on the subject. His
ancestors had gained renown in this career, and it was
natural that his inclination should lead him in the same
direction. He knew, moreover, that his success in life,
his fortune and fame, his future usefulness and consider-
ation, depended upon his own efforts.
Naturally active, sanguine in his temperament, con-
scious of his powers, and not wanting in ambition, he
had an early and continued confidence in himself, which
enabled him to command all the resources of his mind,
and to convert them, on any given occasion, to the best
account. In fact, this self-confidence was one of the re-
markable features of his character through life, and
perhaps its tendency was rather to err on the side of
boldness and presumption, than on that of timidity and
reserve. But there are few more enviable qualities of the
understanding, than the power of ascertaining its own bias
and strength, and of causing these to unite and co-oper-
ate in the attainment of a difficult object. No man
had this power in a greater degree than Gouverneur
Morris, nor exercised it with more skill and effect. He
has often been heard to say, that in his intercourse with
men, he never knew the sensation of fear or inferiority,
of embarrassment or awkwardness. Although this al-
most daring self-possession, which never forsook him,
may, at times, have deprived his manners of the charm
THE LAWYER 25
which a becoming difidence and gentleness of demeanor
are apt to infuse, yet as a means of advaneementin the
world, it must be allowed, when properly regulated, to
take the precedence of every other quality."
Self-depreciation is not humility, though often mis-
taken for it. Its source is oftener mortified pride.
Self-confidence must have its foundation in self-knowl-
edge. A proper, a just estimate of one's abilities, alone
can ensure that confidence, which is neither arrogant nor
It might have been supposed by some persons, who
were contemporaneous with the poet Milton, that he pos-
sessed an arrogant confidence in his own genius; but time,
the best test, has proved that he did not overestimate his
He says, These abilities, wheresoever they be found,
are the inspired gift of God, rarely bestowed." Yet so
conscious was he of the "gift," that he deems himself
prepared for a "work," "not to be raised from the
heatof youth, or the vapors of wine, like that which flows
at waste from the pen of some vulgar amourist, or the
trencher fury of a rhyming parasite, nor to be obtained
by the invocation of dame Memory and her seven daugh-
ters, but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit who
can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends
out his seraphim, with the hallowed fire of his altar, to
touch and purify the lips of waom he pleases."
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
But, notwithstanding this consciousness of power, and
this acknowledgment of the source from which it was de-
rived, did Milton expect success, without vigorous effort
on his own part ? No; read, young man, for your spe-
cial benefit, what he says of his mode of life. My
morning haunts are where they should be, at home; not
sleeping, or concocting the surfeits of an irregular feast,
but up and stirring; in winter, often ere the sound of
any bell awake men to labor or devotion; in summer, as
oft with the bird that first rouses, or not much tardier,
to read good authors, or cause them to be read till the
attention be weary, or memory have its full freight;
then, with useful and generous labors, preserving the
body's health and hardiness, to render lightsome, clear,
and not lumpish' obedience to the mind, to the cause of
religion, and our country's liberty."
Sic iter ad astra.
The self-confidence which accomplishes the end de-
signed, success, is not founded upon self-partiality, or self-
exaggeration-but upon true, consistent self-knowledge,
Whbeof you me a well-deurvl plr."
A NAME has oftentimes had an influence on the
choice of a profession. That distinguished and excellent
lawyer, John Jay, of New York, was named after the
Hon. John Chambers, one of the Judges of the Supreme
Court of the Province. There is nothing distinctive in
the name John, but being thus called as the namesake of
a great man, should excite an earnest desire to sustain the
reputation which another has fairly earned. This seems
to have been an incitement to John Jay. But a still
more decided and effective inflence than that of a name
was exercised upon the opening mind of John Jay.
Peter Jay had ten children; John was his eighth
child, and was born in the city of New York, the 12th
of December, 1745. The character of his parents was a
theme on which their son John delighted to converse; for
seldom have parents been so loved and reverenced as they
were by him. Both father and mother were actuated by
SUccEss IN LIFE.
sincere and fervent piety. The father possessed strong
masculine sense-was a shrewd observer and admirable
judge of men; resolute, persevering, and prudent; -an
affectionate father, a kind master, but governing all under
his control with mild but absolute sway.
The mother had a cultivated mind and fine imagina-
tion, and was mild and affectionate in her temper and
manners; a cheerful resignation to the will of Providence,
during many years of sickness and suffering, bore witness
to the strength of her religious faith. Two of the
children, a son and a daughter, were attacked in their
infancy by small-pox, and were deprived of sight by
this formidable disease. It was thought that the two
little sufferers could be brought up more safely and ad-
vantageously in the country than the city. For this
purpose the father purchased a farm at Rye, on the
shores of Long Island Sound, whither he removed his
family, while John was still in the nurse's arms.
Notwithstanding the cares of a large family, the mo-
ther devoted much of her time to the instruction of the
two blind children, and the little John. To the former
she read the best authors, to the latter she taught the
rudiments of English, and the Latin grammar. When
John was between six and seven years old, his father,
writing about him, remarked, Johnny is of a very grave
disposition, and takes to learning exceedingly well. He
will soon be fit to go to grammar school.'
When eight years old, l was sent to a grammar
school at New Rochelle, kept by the Rev. Mr. Stoops,
pastor of the French Church. His character, even *
this early age, seems to have been sufficiently marked to
excite the favorable anticipations of his discerning father,
who, in a letter to a friend, observed, I cannot forbear V
taking the freedom of hinting to you, that my Johnny
gives me a very pleasing prospect. He seems to be en-
dowed with a very good capacity-is very reserved, and
quite of his brother James's disposition for books.'
The gentleman, to whose charge he was now committed,
was a native of Switzerland, and of odd habits, ignorant
of the world, regardless of money, and remarkable for
absence of mind; he devoted every moment of leisure to
his studies, particularly to the mathematics, leaving the
undisputed government of himself and his household to
his wife, who was as penurious as he was careless. The
parsonage, and everything about it, was suffered to decay;
and the boys were treated with little food and much
scolding. John contrived to prevent the snow from
drifting upon his led, by closing the broken panes of
glass with pieces of wood. The contrast between such
lodgings, and such treatment, and that to whi"h he was
accustomed at hone, was not pleasing, but not without
its uses. The plain and simple diet to which he was
confined, led to that indifference to the quality of his
food for which, through life, he was remarkably distin-
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
guished, while his constitution, no doubt, derived addi-
tional strength and vigor from the hardships to which he
was exposed. His health was robust, and in after life
he used to mention the pleasure he at this time enjoyed
in roaming through the woods and gathering nuts, which
he carried home in his stockings, which he stripped off
for the purpose.
The inhabitants of the village of New Rochelle were
chiefly descendants of French refugees, and French was
spoken by them as well as at the parsonage, and John
thus acquired, with little trouble, a language for which he
afterward had so much use. He remained at this school
three years, when his father took him home and placed
him under the instruction of a private tutor, who com-
pleted his preparation for college.
At the early age of fourteen John Jay entered Co-
lumbia College, in New York, then called King's Col-
lege. The President was the excellent Dr. Samuel
The young freshman was now suddenly introduced to a
soene entirely new to him, and was thrown among com-
panions of various dispositions and habits, without any
other guide or monitor than his own good sense and
virtue. His intercourse with others made him sensible
of his own deficiencies, and he commenced the work of
correcting them with a resolution and perseverance
not often accomplished in early youth. His artic-
THZ LAWYER R. 81
ulation was indistinct, and his mode of pronouncing the
letter 'L,' exposed him to ridicule. He purchased a
book written by Sheridan, probably his Lectures on
Elocution,' and shutting himself up daily in his room,
studied the rules, and practiced upon them, till his object
He had, moreover, a habit of reading so rapidly, as to
be understood with difficulty. For the purpose ocor-
recting this fault, he read aloud to himself, making a full
stop after every word, until he had acquired the com-
plete control of his voice, and he thus became an ex-
With the same energy he pursued all his studies, and
especially English composition. So intent was he upon
this, that when about to write an English exercise, he
placed paper and pencil 'by his bedside, that if, while
meditating upon his subject in the night, a valuable idea
occurred to him, he might make some note of it, even in
the dark, that might recall it in the morning. His ap-
plication and correct deportment acquired for him the
esteem and friendship of the President.
At the Commencement exercises, the Latin Salutatory
Oration was considered the highest honor, and this was
spoken, in the year 1764, by John Jay.
But, while yet in college, he decided upon a profession,
and commenced reading law with one of his fellow-
students. Two weeks after he was graduated, he entered
82 SUCCESS IN LIFE.
the office of Benjamin Kissam, Esq.,(5.) of New York,
as a student at law.
After Mr. Jay was admitted to the bar, it sometimes
happened that he was engaged on the opposite side to Mr.
Kissam. On one of these occasions, the latter being em-
barrassed by some position taken by the other, pleasant-
ly remarked in court, that he had brought up a bird to
pick out his own eyes. Oh no," retorted his opponent,
not to pick out, but to open your eyes."
Mr. Jay married Sarah, the youngest daughter of
Governor Livingston, of New Jersey, a zealous and dis-
tinguished patriot of the Revolution.
The Revolution was an interruption to Jay's legal
pursuits. He was chosen a delegate to the Continental
Congress, from the city and county of New York. This
Congress met at Philadelphia, as every American knows,
(5.) Lindley Murray, afterward distinguished by his various works
on grammar and elocution, was at this time a student in the same
office. In a short memoir of himself, published after his death, he
paid the following tribute to his early companion:--" The celebrated
John Jay, Esq., late Governor of New York, was my fellow-student
for about two years. His talents and virtues gave at that period
pleasing indications of future eminence. He was remarkable for
strong reasoning powers, comprehensive views, indefatigable application,
and uncommon frmness of mind. With these qualifications, added to
a just taste in literature, and ample stores of learning and knowledge,
he was happily prepared to enter on that career of public virtue by
which he was honorably distinguished, and made instrumental in pro-
moting the good of his country."
in 1774. Mr. Jay was perhaps the youngest member of
the House, being then in his twenty-ninth year.
Notwithstanding his youth, he was placed on a com-
mittee for drafting an address to the people of Great Brit-
ain, and a memorial to the people of British America
The address to the people of Great Britain was drawn
up by Mr. Jay, and adopted by Congress. Mr. Jeffer-
son, while ignorant of the author, declared it to be a pro-
duction certainly of the finest pen in America."
Mr. Jay from this time devoted himself to the service
of his country, in the field and in the cabinet, until the
termination of the eventful struggle for liberty.
Mr. Jay was chosen Chief Justice of the State of
New York, immediately after its organization as a State,
an office which he found incompatible with other duties,
and resigned it.
He was afterward sent as Minister Plenipotentiary to
Spain; then on a mission to France; and later, as Envoy
to England. Under Washington's administration, Mr.
Jay officiated for a time as Secretary of State; and when
the Supreme Court of the United States was organized,
he was appointed Chief Justice. Subsequently, he was
chosen Governor of the State of New York, and late
in life, President of the American Bible Society.
* It may seem that Mr. Jay might, with more propriety, be
called a statesman than a lawyer; but the law was his
profession, asit has been thatof the many who have taken a
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part in the councils of the nation, or represented it abroad.
His character well deserves careful study-that noble
character which gave him a title to those honors which
encouraged his youth and adorned his age. It is a stimu-
lating example for all whom Hope beckons on to suc-
The character of John Jay is simple and uniform; it
is perplexed by no eccentricities or contradictions. His
public and his private life, his professions and his con-
duct, form one harmonious whole. Endowed by his Cre-
ator with a vigorous mind, a sound judgment, and a pi-
ous heart, he pursued right objects; selected his means
with an almost intuitive perception of their fitness, and
used them with a prudence that rarely failed to ensure
success. Formed by nature with that irritability of tem-
per which is so often at once the attendant and the bane
of genius, he acquired a degree of equanimity seldom
attained by any.
Although warm, constant, and disinterested in his
friendships, he indulged no feelings of hostility toward
those who attempted to injure him; and no act of his life
is known that indicated a desire for revenge. He was,
however, free from that weak confidence which too often
makes well-disposed men the dupes of artifice and malice.
Having once had good cause to doubt a man's sincerity
or integrity, he never after trusted him. "Separate your-
self from your enemies," was the rule by which he regu-
T E LAWYER
lated his conduct toward those who wished him ill; and
in the whole course of his life he never deserted a friend
nor courted an enemy.
A sense of future accountability seems to have been
always present to his mind, and he esteemed the sentence
his fellow-men might pass upon him, when compared with
the realities of the judgment-day, as the dust of the
Few could claim a more entire exemption from the sins
comprehended in the lust of the eyes and the pride of
life. Although for many years filling stations which ne-
cessarily brought him into constant intercourse with the
rich and the fashionable, his dress, furniture, and equi-
page were always as plain and frugal as propriety would
permit. As a republican, he thought it became him to
set an example of plainness and simplicity; as a Chris-
tian, he acknowledged the obligation to be temperate in
all things. But his frugality had nothing in common
with parsimony. "A wise man," he said, has money
in his head, but not in his heart." His contributions to
the ever-varying calls of religion and benevolence were
cheerful and generous. It was a favorite saying with
him, that ostentation and rapacity go together. He was
liberal in all his contracts, acting on the maxim that no
hard bargain is a good one. To his poor neighbors he
often made loans without interest, and when payment
could not be exacted except by distressing them, he for-
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gave the debt, and to his bounty were they frequently in-
debted for food, clothing, and medical attendance.
A distinguishing trait in Mr. Jay's character was mod-
esty; not an affectation of inferiority to others, or a dis-
trust of his own powers, but a total absence of all en-
deavor to attract admiration. He assumed no impor-
tance, claimed no deference, and boasted of no merit.
He had had full experience of the pleasures and the pains
of public life, and his advice to his sons was, never to ac-
cept an office, except from a conviction of duty.
His patriotism, prompted and guided by the precepts
of Christianity, ever refused to make the smallest sacrifices
of truth or justice to the cause of his country, while for
the same object it was always ready to surrender what-
ever else was most dear to him. Much as he loved
his country, he spurned the principle implied in the
sentiment,-" Our country, right or wrong;" and on
all occasions, public as well as private, inflexibly ad-
hered to the maxim that honesty is the best policy.
Mr. Jay's religion was fervent, but mild and unosten-
tatious. Through life he continued a member of the
On the whole, his life exhibits a rare but interesting
picture of the Christian patriot and statesman, and justi-
fies the universal reverence for his character so eloquent-
ly described in an address delivered, soon after his death,
by G. C. Yerplanck, Esq.
THE LAWYER. 87
A halo of veneration seemed to encircle him as one
belonging to another world, thoQgh lingering among us.
When the tidings of his death came to us, they were re-
ceived through the nation, not with sorrow or mourning,
but with solemn awe, like that with which we read the
mysterious passage of ancient Scripture,-' AND ENOCH
WALKED WITH GOD, AND HE WAS NOT, FOR GOD TOOK
UNITY OF PURPOSE
]ea fwruw on him who waste that retion on a destiny ldependent of him-
alf, which be euht to m ari for atioeM of which he s matur."-8ir Js. Jaietsek
Whoever i not froed by nooaity, but feels within him, rowing with his gowth,
=a ioellatio. as tnre and nvarylug as the magneto nodle, let him hblow its pointing,
triusing to it a epom iL tbh dowt."
THE power of concentrating thought, or what the
phrenologists call concentrativeness, is a primary requi-
site for an able lawyer. Without it, he may become an
eloquent orator and a persuasive pleader, but not a con-
vincing advocate, nor a wise counselor. In addition to
this intellectual faculty, he must possess an indomitable
will--a will, irresistible as the lightning which splits
" the gnarled, unwedgeable oak," and constant as the at-
traction of gravitation.
The recklessness with which young men squander the
glorious talents with which they have been endowed by
the Creator is marvelous,-pitiful. Instead of a fixed,
THE LAWYER. 89
determinate aim, toward which all efforts converge, they
try their skill, now in this direction, and then in one
diametrically opposite.(6.) Gathering flowers where fancy
leads, and laurels which will be in the sere and yellow
leaf" before the wearers have reached the meridian of
life, they gradually pass into the shade of mediocrity, and
their suns set ingloriously.
Distinction, in any profession, is not the reward of
such divided effort. There must be early, continuous,
self-denying labor. Without such unwearied application,
talents the most commanding will not give the impulse
necessary to reach the aim. The sinewy anr of the
long-practiced archer can only draw the bow of Ulysses,
and the calm, steady eye can only send the arrow to the
The unity of purpose, which ensures success, does not,
by any means, reject those acquirements which are sec-
ondary or subsidiary. The old adage says, "Every
part helps every other part." The .most eminent law-
yers have not neglected mathematical studies, nor the
cultivation of taste, yet these were subordinates, and kept
their place in the ranks.*
A fine example of the unity of purpose here recom-
mended, is furnished by the late Chief Justice Marshall.
(&) "Many a man has lost being a great man, by splttig into two
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There is no denying it,-Virginia and Massachusetts
grow* great men. Among Virginia's noblest sons was
John Marshall. How came he to be a great man?
John's father, Thomas Marshall, was a planter; not a
rich planter, but a man of moderate fortune. A lim-
ited education, even for the times in which he lived,
was all that the planter received; and yet he was a man
of uncommon ability, and made the best possible use of
the means afforded him for the acquisition of knowledge.
He was a man of strong, good sense, and commanded
the reverence, and won the confidence and affection of
John was the eldest of fifteen children. All these
children were richly endowed with intellect; but it was
a pleasure to this eldest-born to declare, when he stood
among the foremost men of the country, that his father
was superior to any of his gifted sons. This he was
accustomed to say when he was capable of appreciating
John was, literally, a backwoodsman, for Fauquier
county lay upon the western frontier of the State.
There were no schools in the neighborhood. Colonel
Marshall taught his own children, and thus gave their
infant minds such a bent and inclination as suited his
own taste. Happily it was a correct one, for no gnarled
and twisted twigs" seem to have been the consequence.
To graw wheat, rice, &e, is a Southern provincialism.
Colonel Marshall was a devoted admirer of English
classic literature. For history and poetry especially, he
had a strong inclination, which John early imbibed.
The wild adventure and romantic scenery of the new
settlements would tend to excite the imagination, and
call out energy and activity. The Indians were their
neighbors, and might at any time become foes. Inter-
minable forests stretched their umbrageous shades to the
far-west. Mountains and ravines, dark, unexplored cav-
erns, and foaming cataracts, met the view of the young
Genius is a fire that is early enkindled in the soul."
There are few great men who have not in early life
dallied with the muses.
Amid beautiful scenery, and with the course of read-
ing which young Marshall pursued, it is not surprising
that there was an early manifestation of poetical senti-
ment, and an attempt to form the sounding line."
At the age of twelve, John Marshall had transcribed
Pope's Essay on Man, and also some of his moral essays.
The love of poetry, thus awakened in his warm and
vigorous mind, never ceased to exert a commanding in-
fluence over it."
At the age of fourteen, John Marshall was sent from
home, and placed under the care of Mr. Campbell, a
respectable clergyman. After remaining a year with
this gentleman, he returned to the house of his father,
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who had procured a tutor to reside in his family. At
the end of this year he had commenced reading Horace
and Livy. "His subsequent mastery of the classics
was the result of his own efforts, without any other aid
than his grammar and dictionary. He never had the
benefit of an education at any college, and his attain-
ments in learning were nursed by the solitary vigils of
his own genius. His father, however, continued to
superintend his English education, to cherish his love of
knowledge, to give a solid cast to his acquirements, and
to store his mind with the most valuable materials. He
was not merely a watchful parent, but an instructive
and affectionate friend, and soon became the most con-
stant, as he was at the time almost the only intelligent
companion of his son. The time not devoted to his
society was passed in hardy, athletic exercises, and prob-
ably to this circumstance was owing that robust con-
stitution which remained fresh and firm in a green old
But the American Revolution came on, and other in-
terests were, for a time, merged in that great event.
In 1775, John Marshall was appointed first lieutenant
in a company of minutemen, enrolled for actual service.
Lieutenant Marshall was engaged in the battle of the
Great Bridge, where the British troops, under Lord
(7.) The body ought to be the sol's bet friend, d ordil, dtiful
THE LAWYT 48
Dunmore, were replsed with great gallantry. In 177,
he was promoted to the rank of captain, and fought in
the memorable battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and
Monmouth. During a season of inaction, he attended
the law lectures of Mr. Wythe, afterward Chancellor
of the State, and a course of lectures on natural philoso-
phy, given by Mr. Madison, President of William and
Mary College, Virginia. After thus passing the winter
and spring of 1779-80, in the summer he obtained a
license to practice law. In October he returned to the
army, and continued in service till the next February,
1781. These circumstances are dwelt upon more particu-
larly, to show how few were the advantages of education
received by John Marshall, compared with the elaborate
and finished education of the present day. The best
part of education, after all, is that which a man gives
himself. Most young men have intellectual power
enough, if constantly and effectively applied, to become
useful and highly respectable in their trade of profession.
The difficulty usually is, that they are too weak of pur-
pose, too fluctuating and unsteady in their aims and
efforts.(8.) The moment the leading-strings of their
guardians and preceptors are loosened, they stumble and
stagger under the weight of responsibility resting upon
them, and too often fall by the way-side, weary with the
(8.) ny a centbomn titea poor use ime ferme.-Ba)ros Weemerpy.
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strife. Not so with Marshall; fe braced up strong sin-
ews and steady nerves for mental, as he did for physical
He rapidly rose to distinction at the bar. In the
spring of 1782, he was elected a member of the State
Legislature, and in the autumn of the same year a mem-
ber of the Executive Council.
In 1783, he married Miss Ambler; a happy union,
which continued for nearly fifty years.
The dangers and difficulties of those days drew tal-
ent of all kinds into one channel; and lawyers were,
almost of necessity, statesmen. Although Marshall
devoted time to legal study and to practice, yet the
affairs of the confederacy, at this crisis, demanded his
enlightened efforts and powerful support. Dangers men-
aced the infant republic, and Marshall was one of those
wise "statesmen who have ears to hear the distant
rustling of the wings of Time. Most people only catch
sight of Time when it is flying away. When it is over-
head, it darkens their view." After the adoption of the
Constitution of the United States, some of the leading
features of which Marshall had eloquently and power-
fully advocated, he determined to relinquish public life,
and to devote himself exclusively to his chosen profes-
sion. But, having been unanimously elected a represen-
tative to the State Legislature by the citizens of Richmond,
he reluctantly yielded to the earnest wishes of his con-
THE LAWYER. 46
stituents. For three successive years he continued in
the Legislature, and then declined a re-election. But
again he was induced, at# trying period in the history
of Virginia, to become oneof her legislators.
President Washington requested Marshall to accept
the office of Attorney-General of the United States, but
he declined it, upon the ground of its interference with his
lucrative practice in Virginia. He was also solicited by
Washington to accept the place of Minister to France,
which he respectfully declined. He afterward accepted
the appointment of Envoy to Amsterdam, in conjunction
with General Pinckney and Mr. Gerry. Upon him
principally devolved the duty of preparing the ofafil
dispatches. "They are models of skillful reasoning
forcible illustration, accurate detail, and urbane and dig-
On his return home, Mr. Marshall resumed his pro-
fessional labors with high hopes, for he had lost fqr
clients during his absence, and new ones were daily
added to the list. He peremptorily refused to become a
candidate for Congress for a while; yet, he could not
turn a deaf ear to. the urgent entreaty of one whose
persuasive arguments were seldom resisted. General
Washington invited Mr. Marshall to pass a few days at
Mount Vernon, whither he went in company with Mr.
Washington did not for a moment disguise the object
8UCCE8 IN LIFE.
of his invitation. It was to urge upon Mr. Marshall and
Mr. Washington the propriety of their becoming candi-
dates for Congress. Mr. Washington yielded to the
wishes of his uncle, without a struggle; but Mr. Mar-
shall resisted, on the ground of his situation, and the
necessity of attending to his private affairs.
General Washington said, that there were crises in
national affairs which made it the duty of a citizen to
forego his private for the public interest. He considered
the country to be then in one of these."
The conversation was long, animated, and impressive,
full of the deepest interest, and the most unreserved confi-
dence. It had its effect. Mr. Marshall became a can-
didate, and was elected to Congress. Before his election
he was offered a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court,
by President Adams. This he declined, and Mr. Bush-
rod Washington was appointed. In May, 1800, Mr.
Marshall was nominated by the President to the office of
Secretary of War. In 1801, he became Chief Justice
of the United States-an office which, by many, is con-
sidered the highest in our country.
The fame of the warrior(9.) is forever embodied in the
history of his country, and is colored with the warm
lights reflected back by the praise of many a distant age.
The orator and the statesman live not merely in the rec-
(9.) "The greatnee of the warrior is poor a4 low composed with
the magnanimity of virtue."
THE LAWYER. 47
collections of their powerful eloquence, or the deep im-
pressions made by them on the character of the genera-
tion in which they lived, but are brought forth for public
approbation in political debates, in splendid volumes, in
collegiate declamations, in the works of rhetoricians, in
the school-books of boys, and in the elegant extracts of
The place of justice," says Lord Bacon, is a hal-
lowed place," and he who holds that place and there sus-
tains the majesty of the law, is to be venerated from age
to age. In the character of Chief Justice Marshall,
moderation was united with firmness, sagacity with mod-
esty, learning with experience and solid wisdom.
What, indeed, strikes us as most remarkable in his
whole character, even more than his splendid talents, is
the entire consistency of his public life and principles.
There is nothing in either which calls for apology or con-
cealment. Ambition never seduced him from his princi-
ples, nor did popular clamor deter him from the strict
performance of duty."
Amid the extravagances of party spirit, he has stood
with a calm and steady inflexibility; neither bending to
the pressure of adversity, nor bounding with the elasti-
city of success. He has lived as such a man should live
(and yet how few deserve the commendation), by and
with his principles. If we were tempted to say in one
word what it was in which he chiefly excelled other men,
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we should say in wisdom; in the union of that virtue
which has ripened under the hardy discipline of princi-
ples, with that knowledge which has constantly sifted
and refined its old treasures, and as constantly gathered
Interesting as it is to contemplate such a man in his
public character and official functions,-there are few
great men to whom one is brought near, however dazzling
maybe their talents or actions, who are not thereby painful-
ly diminished in the estimate of those who approach them.
The mist of distance sometimes gives a looming size to
their character, but more often conceals its defects. To
be amiable as well as great,-to be kind, gentle, simple,
modest, and social, and at the same time to possess the
rarest endowments of mind, and the warmest affections,
is a combination devoutly to be wished, but seldom met.
Yet Chief Justice Marshall was in the domestic circle
exactly what a wife, a child, a brother, and a friend
would most desire."
II posedsit, au plus hant d6gro, oes faculties brillante qul president
aux arts d'imagination mais qui constituent anua, on qui fioondent Pl'prit
d'invention, dans tons lea genres; oette vivacit6, et oette inergie de coneop-
tion qui rendent une nouvelle vie aux objets, en les exprimant, et qui leI
embellisent encore, en lee faimant revive. Toutefois et per une renoontre
aussi hureuse que rare, il 6tait 6galenmet dou6 de oes qualit6s 6minentee
qui foment lea penseurs. Exeroe aux meditations profondes il tait capable
de snivre avec incroyable persiv6rance lea deductions lea plus Ctendune; il
savant atteindre par un regard p6nitrant, les distinctions leI plus d611
cates, et quelquefois lee plus subtile."--De Gemdo.
ONE of the most brilliant luminaries of the law came
near hiding his legal talents under a bushel. William
Pinckney, of Annapolis, in Maryland," commenced the
study of medicine, but happily discovered that he had
mistaken his vocation, and turned his attention to the le-
gal profession. He seems to have lost no time in fitting
Himself for it, as we learn that, at the age of twenty-
two, he was admitted to the bar.
Let us see with what equipment he was provided for
Ia Willam Pickney was born A. D. 1764.
i n_6___ n_____n__n
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the forensic field. He was carefully instructed in clas-
sical studies by a private teacher, to whom he afterward
rendered the warmest tribute of gratitude and affection.
For three years he pursued his legal studies under Mr.
Justice Chase, an eminent lawyer of the Maryland bar.
During this time he disciplined his mind by the cultiva-
tiolf of logic, so that no fallacies could be imposed upon
his understanding. He became acute in his perception
of truth, and dexterous in the use of arguments for its
support. He had perfect command of his native lan-
guage, and poured it forth in a rich, melodious voice,
accompanied by an animated and graceful delivery. To
all these he added a person dignified and manly, and a
fine, strong physiognomy. It is not surprising, therefore,
that his first efforts at the bar were hailed as omens of
In 1796, Mr. Pinckney was induced to leave his pro-
fessional pursuits and accept the appointment of Commis-
sioner to Great Britain. He went with his family to
London, where he resided for eight years.
In one of his letters written during this absence, he
says,-" It is my most earnest wish to return home with-
out loss of time, and to apply in earnest to my profession,
for the purpose of securing, while my faculties are unim-
paired, a competence for my helpless family. A few
years of professional labor will bring me into the sere
and yellow leaf of life, and if I do not begin speedily, I
shall begin too late. I am used to adverse fortune, and
know how to struggle with it; my consolations cannot
easily desert me-the consciousness of honorable views,
and the cheering hope that Providence will yet enable me
to pas my age in peace. It is not of small importance
to me that I shall go back to the bar cured of every pro-
pensity that could divert me from business-stronger than
when I left it-and, I trust, somewhat wiser. In regard
to legal knowledge, I have been a regular and industri-
ous student for the last two years, and I believe myself
to be a much better lawyer than when I arrived in Eng-
In another letter he makes some remarks on party
spirit, which it would be well for every young American
to reflect upon conscientiously.
I am prepared," says Mr. Pinckney, "on my re-
turn, to find the spirit of party as high and phrensied as
the most turbulent would have it. I am even prepared
to find a brutality in that spirit which in this country
(England) either does not exist, or is kept down by the
predominance of a better feeling. I lament that this is
so; and I wonder that it is so-for the American people
are generous and liberal, and enlightened. We are not,
I hope, to have this inordinate zeal, this extravagant
fanaticins entailed upon us, although really, one might
almost suppose it to be a part of our political creed, that
internal tranquillity, or rather the absence of domestic
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discord, and a rancorous contention for power, was in-
compatible with the health of the state, and the liberty
of the citizen. I profess to be temperate in my opinions,
and shall put in my claim to freedom of conscience; but
when both sides are intolerant, what hope can I have
that this claim will be respected 1"
Mr. Pinckney returned to the United States in 1804,
and "immediately resumed with renewed ardor his pro-
fessional pursuits. During his long residence in Eng-
land, he had never laid aside his habits of diligent study,
and had availed himself of opportunities for intercourse
with the accomplished lawyers of that country. He was
in the constant habit of attending the debates in the two
houses of Parliament; a higher standard of literary at-
tainments than had been thought necessary to embellish
and adorn the eloquence of the bar in his own country,
was held up to his observation. He employed his leisure
hours in endeavoring to supply what he now found to be
the defects of his early education, by extending his knowl-
edge of English and classical literature. He devoted pe-
culiar attention to the subject of Latin prosody and Eng-
lish elocution, aiming, above all, to acquire a critical
knowledge of his own language-its pronunciation-its
terms and signiications-its synonymes; and, in short,
its whole structure and vocabulary. By these means, he
added to his natural facility and fluency, a copiousness
and variety of elegant and appropriate diction, which
graced even his colloquial intercourse, and imparted new
strength and beauty to his forensic style.""
Mr. Pinckney removed from Annapolis to Baltimore,
after his return from England, and in 1806, he was ap-
pointed to the office of Attorney-General of the State of
Maryland. But events of stirring interest to the coun-
try again called him from his favorite pursuits. He
was induced by Mr. Jefferson to accept the appointment
of Minister Extraordinay to Great Britain, in conjunc-
tion with Mr. Monroe, to treat with the British Cabinet,
on matters which then agitated the two countries, and
which finally resulted in the war of 1812-14.
With regard to the acceptance of this responsible mis-
sion, he says in a letter to a friend: The plain matter
of fact is, a great national crisis occurs, which requires,
or is supposed to require, an extraordinary foreign mis-
sion. The President, whom I might be said to know
only by character, offers this important charge to me. I
give up my profession. I surrender all my hopes of fu-
ture fortune. I forego a second time, and forever, the
I1 To the young man, it is strongly reeommeaded to keep a Oo.
moo-place Book. If he degn to be a lawyer-let o portion a the
book be specially devoted to law-no matter how much he enriehe
this department, with extrm t and quotations having a direct bearing
upon law, but at the same time, let him eull frely ad Irequntly
from the wide fields of general literature. The srir of elegant and
appropriate dietoo, thou oopied out by his hand, will give tue ad
vigor to hie ow style, without making him an imitate.
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
expectation of placing my numerous and helpless family
in a state of independence. I am willing to admit that
I may have acted improvidently, but I am quite sure
that I have not deviated from that path of honor in which,
with an approving conscience, I have walked from my
boyish days. My appointment is known to have been as
completely unsolicited as ever appointment was from the
beginning of the world."
Mr. Pinckney earnestly endeavored to remove by pacific
means the obstacles thrown in the way of a neutral com-
merce, and strenuously maintained the honor and rights
of his country. He met with many and great discourage-
ments. During all the time of his absence he was anx-
ious to return to his beloved home, and yet the interests
of the country demanded his stay.
In a letter to Mr. Madison, who had succeeded Mr.
Jeferson in the Presidency, Mr. Pinckney says, I pray
you most earnestly to recall me immediately, if you find
it in any way expedient to do so. Believe me, I shall go
back to my profession with a cheerful heart."
Again he writes to Mr. Madison, I ask your leave at
this time to close my mission here, because I find it im-
possible to remain. Age is stealing upon me, and I shall
soon have lost the power of-retrieving the time which has
been wasted in endeavors to deserve well of my country.
Every day will make it more difficult to resume the hab-
its which I have twice improvidently abandoned. At
present, I feel no want of cheerful resolution to seek
them again, as old friends which I ought never to have
quitted, and no want of confidence that they will not dis-
Finding that all remonstrance on the part of our
government was useless, the President recalled Mr.
Pinckney. On the 1st of February, 1811, he had an au-
dience of leave, at Carlton House, and soon after em-
barked for home in the frigate Essex, and arrived in
June. With his accustomed alacrity and ardor, he im-
mediately resumed the labors of his profession.
In the following December; the President offered him
the appointment of Attorney-General of the United States,
which he accepted; but finding it inconvenient to reside
at the seat of government, he soon resigned the office.
Mr. Pinckney was actively engaged in the defence of
the country, during the war. He commanded a volunteer
corps, with which he marched to Bladensburg, at the
time of the attack on the city of Washington by the
British, under General Rosa. He conducted with great
gallantry in the action at Bladensburg, and was severely
wounded. After the peace, he resigned his command.
Mr. Pinckney was soon after sent as a Representative
to Congress, from the city of Baltimore. It would seem
that, however strong might have been his desire to pur-
sue his profession, the calls of his country were too urgent
to be resisted.
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
The biographer mentions that Mr. Pinckney frequently
came in conflict with the great abilities of Samuel Dex-
ter, whom he pronounces one of the ablest men this
country has produced. He adds, "The manner in
which Samuel Dexter combined the various talents and
attainments of the common lawyer, the civilian, and the
statesman, may be appealed to as a striking example of
those expansive views, and liberal studies, which distin-
guished the more eminent advocates at the American
Samuel Dexter wai the son of an eminent merchant of
Boston, of the same name. The Dexter Professorship of
Sacred Literature, at Harvard University, was founded
by the elder Dexter, who was one of the distinguished
patriots of the Revolution.
The son was graduated at that University, in 1781.
After being admitted to the bar, he rose rapidly to emi-
nence in his profession, and in the public councils'of his
He was elected first as a Representative, and then as a
Senator to Congress, where he took a high standing as
an eloquent and able debater. During the administration
of the first President Adams, he was appointed Secretary
of War, and of the Treasury.
The features of the intellectual character of Mr.
Dexter presented a strong contrast with those of Mr.
Pinckney. He had cultivated his powers by silent medi-
station and reflection, rather than by the stuAdy# o b
Without being at all deficient in mere technical n g,
he relied mainly upon his own'distinguished faculties;
and, in his legal investigations, sought for those original
principles which lie at the foundation of every civilized
code. His forensic style was marked by a strong mets-
physical logic, combined with great purity and simplicity
of diction; and he unfolded the most perplexed and in-
tricate questions of public and private law with a power
of analysis which seemed almost intuitive."
ENERGY AND PERSEVERANCE.
Enefy bis h ma'.s i pey.,"-ProidMlt Dwigt.
ONx of the most remarkable features in the character
of Pinckney, was his indomitable perseverance. Not-
withstanding the frequent diversion of his splendid
talents into other channels, he returned to the law with
fresh ardor and zeal. His brilliant success at the bar
was as much the effect of extraordinary diligence and
labor, as of his genius and rare endowments of mind.
His continued application to study, writing, and public
speaking, a physical constitution as powerful as his intel-
lectual, enabled him to keep up with a singular perse-
verance. He was never satisfied with investigating his
causes, and took infinite pains in exploring their facts
and circumstances, and all the technical learning con-
nected with them. He constantly continued the practice
of private declamation as a useful exercise; and was in
the habit of premeditating his pleadings at the bar, and
THE LAWYER. 69
his other public speeches, not only as to the general order
or method to be observed in treating his subject, the
authorities to be relied upon, and the leading topics of
illustration, but frequently as to the principal passages
and rhetorical embellishments. These last he sometimes
wrote out beforehand, not that he was deficient in facility
or fluency, but in order to preserve the command of a
correct and elegant diction. All those who have heard
him address a jury, or a deliberative assembly, know that
he was a consummate master of the arts of extemporane-
ous debating; but he believed, with the most celebrated
and successful orators of antiquity, that the habit of
written composition is necessary to acquire and preserve
a style at once correct and graceful in public speaking-
without this aid it is apt to degenerate into colloquial
negligence, and to become enfeebled by tedious verbosity.
His law papers were drawn up with great care, and his
written opinions were elaborately composed, both as to
matter and style."
Mr. Pinckney engaged in the performance of his profes-
sional duties with unusual zeal, always regarding his own
reputation as at stake, as well as the rights and interests
of his clients, sensibly alive to everything which might
affect either. He spoke with great ardor and vehemence.
It must be evident that the most robust constitution
would not be sufficient to sustain such intense and unin-
termitted labor, where every exertion was a contest for
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
victory, and each new success a fresh stimulus to ambi-
tion. He therefore found it necessary to vary his occu-
pations, and to retire altogether from the bar for a season.
He accepted the appointment of Minister Plenipoten-
tiary to the Court of Russia, and of Special Minister to
that of Naples.
Mr. Pinckney said to one of his friends, There are
those who wonder that I will go abroad, however honora-
ble the service. They know not how I toil at the bar;
they know not all the anxious days and sleepless nights;
I must breathe awhile; the bow forever bent will break.
Besides, I want to see Italy-the orators of Britain I
have heard-but I want to visit that classic land, the
study of whose poetry and eloquence is the charm of my
life. I shall set my foot on its shores with feelings
that I cannot describe, and return with new enthusiasm,
I hope new advantages, to the habits of public speaking."
Mr. Pinckney sailed for Naples in the Washington,
commanded by Commodore Chauncey, and landed on the
classic shores of Italy on the 26th of July, 1816. He
immediately applied himself to the business of his mis-
sion. Some obstacles in the way of his Russian mission
presented themselves, but they were removed, and he
went to St. Petersburg, where he remained for nearly
A gentleman who became acquainted with Mr. Pinckney
at St. Petersburg, in a letter to a friend at home, among
THE LAWYZR. 61
other things, mentions that "his (Mr. Pinkney's) great
forte was his thorough and exact acquaintance with the
English language, with its best models of diction, with
its significations, its grammar, and its pronunciation.
Upon this he prided himself exceedingly, and well he
might, for you know the singular art and skill with which
he displayed his mastery over his own language; his
power of using it with astonishing force, elegance, and
accuracy, in the simplest conversation, upon common
topics, in his legal arguments, which were to instruct and
influence the finest minds in the country, and in the
debates of the Senate, which were to affect permanently
and vitally the destinies of the nation."
After about two years' residence abroad, Mr. Pinckney
asked to be recalled; and, soon after his return home, he
was elected to the Senate of the United States. This
was in 1820.
He continued his professional labors with the same in-
tense application and ardent desire of success which had
marked his whole career. But his busy life was hurrying
to a conclusion. He died at Washington, on the 26th qf
The character of Pinckney, as delineated by Wheaton,
is one which every aspirant for legal distinction should
To extraordinary natural endowments, Mr. Pinokmy
added deep and various knowledge in hi profusion.
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A long course of study and practice had familiarized his
mind with the science of jurisprudence. He had felt
himself originally attracted to it by invincible inclina-
tion; it was his principal pursuit in life, and he
never entirely lost sight of it in his occasional deviations
into other pursuits and employment. He was devoted
to the law with a true enthusiasm; and his other studies
and pursuits, so far as they had a serious object, were
valued chiefly as they might minister to this idol of his
affections. He said, "the bar is not the place to acquire
or preserve a false or fraudulent reputation for talents;"
and, on that theatre, he felt conscious of possessing those
powers which would command success.
When actively engaged in the practice of his profes-
sion, he toiled with almost unparalleled industry. All
other pursuits, the pleasures of society, and even the
repose which nature demands, were sacrificed to this en-
grossing object. His character, in this respect, affords
a bright example for the younger members of the profes-
sion. His entire devotion to his professional pursuits
was continued with unremitting perseverance to the end
of his career. He continued to exert all his faculties, as
if his entire reputation were staked on each particular
.No abilities, however splendid, can command success
at the bar, without intense labor and persevering appli-
Mr. Pinckney enjoyed the reputation of having been
rarely equaled, and, perhaps, never excelled in the
power of reasoning upon legal subjects. His mind was
acute and subtle, and, at the same time, comprehensive
in its grasp, rapid and clear in its conceptions, and sin-
gularly felicitous in the exposition of the truths it was
employed in investigating.
His style does not appear to have been originally
modeled after any particular standard, or imitated from
the example of any particular writer or speaker. It was
formed from his peculiar manner of investigating and
illustrating the subjects with which he had to deal; and
was impressed with the stamp of his vigorous and- com-
prehensive intellect. It displayed, occasionally, the
copiousness, fore?, and idiomatic grace, and the boldness
and richness of metaphor which distinguished the old
writers of English prose. But in all its essential quali-
ties, Mr. Pinckney's style was completely formed long
before he had the advantage of studying any of these
models of eloquence.
Whoever has listened to him on a dry and complies-
ted question of mere technical law, when there seemed
to be nothing on which the mind delighted to fasten,
must recollect what a charm he diffused over the most in-
tricate and arid discussions by the clearness and purity of
his language, and the calm flow of his graceful elocution.
His favorite mode of reasoning was from the analogies
64 SUCCESS IN LIFE.
of the law; and whilst he delighted his auditory by his
powers of amplification and illustration, he instructed
them by tracing up the technical rules and positive insti-
tutions of jurisprudence to their original principles and
Of the extent and solidity of his legal attainments, it
would be difficult to speak in adequate terms, without
the appearance of exaggeration. He was profoundly
versed in the ancient learning of the common law, its
technical peculiarities and feudal origin. He was famil-
iar with every branch of commercial law, and extensively
acquainted with the principles of international law.
His favorite law-book was the Coke Littleton, which
he had read many times. Its principal texts he had
treasured up in his memory, and his arguments at the bar
abounded with perpetual recurrences to the principles
and analogies drawn from this rich mine of common-law
He was not what is commonly called a learned man, but
he excelled in those branches of human knowledge which
he had cultivated as auxiliary to his principal pursuit.
It has been already mentioned that he was a thorough
master of the English language-its whole structure and
vocabulary. He used to relate to his young friends an
anecdote, which explains one of the motives which in-
duced him at a mature age, and after he had risen to em-
inence, to review and extend his classical studies, and at
THE LAWYER. 66
the same time illustrates one of the most remarkable
traits of his character-that resolution and firmnes of
purpose with which he devoted himself to the acquisition
of any branch of knowledge he deemed it desirable to
possess. During his residence in England, some ques-
tion of classical literature was discussed at table in a
social party where he was present, and the guests in turn
gave their opinions upon it. Mr. Pinckney being silent
for some time, an appeal was at length made to him for
his opinion, when he had the mortification to be compelled
to acknowledge that he was unacquainted with the sub-
ject. In consequence of this incident, he was induced to
resume his classical studies, and actually put himself un-
der the care of a master for the purpose of reviewing
and extending his acquaintance with ancient literature.
During the whole course of his active and busy life,
Mr. Pinckney pursued his professional studies, and those
which related to the English language, with the strictest
method and perseverance. In other respects he seems
to have read in the most desultory manner. possible, to
gratify his curiosity and to keep pace with the current
literature of the day. His teqaoious memory enabled
him to retain the stores of miscellaneous knowledge he
had thus acquired, and his mind was enriched with liter-
ary and historical anecdote.
His profession was the engrossing pursuit of his life,
and beyond that his talents shone most conspicuously in
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
those senatorial discussions which fall within the province
of the constitutional lawyer.
When some members of the Senate were accused of
ambitious motives, Mr. Pinckney said,-" For myself I
can truly say, that I am wholly destitute of what is com-
monly called Ambition. It is said that Ambition is the
disease of noble minds. If it be so, mine must be a vul-
gar one, for I have nothing to desire in this world but
professional fame, health and competence for those who
are dear to me, a long list of friends among the virtuous
and the good, and honor and prosperity for my country."
From a letter written from St. Petersburg by some
person well acquainted with Mr. Pinckney, we learn
that his neatness and attention to the fashionable cos-
tume of the day were carried to an extreme, which ex-
posed him, while at home, to the charge of foppery and
affectation. But it should be remembered how large a
portion of his life he had spent abroad, and in the high-
est circles of European society. Though he undoubt-
edly piqued himself upon being a finished and elegant
gentleman, yet his manners and habits of dress were ac-
quired in Europe, and so far from being remarkable
there, they were in exact accordance with the common
and established usages of men of his rank and station."*
From a lawyer's common-place book,-" Cleanline is to be cul-
tivated. lt. It is a mark of politeness. 2d. It produces love. It
ber an analogy to purity of mind."
The lawyer's dress and address are his first letters of
introduction. He makes his own way afterward.
It is said of Sir Matthew Hale, that in his youth be
loved fine clothes," but that he passed from the "ex-
treme of vanity in his apparel, to that of neglecting him-
self too much," and was, in consequence of his shabby
appearance, once taken up by a press-gang, for the King's
service; for he was a strong and well-built man, but
some that knew him, coming by and giving notice who
he was, the press-men let him go. This made him re-
turn to more decency in his clothes."
The editor of the Life of Sir Matthew, in connection
with this anecdote, quotes from an old English writer as
Let thy apparel be decent, and suited to the quality
of thy place and purse; too much punctualitie and too
much morositie are the two poles of pride."
WILLIAM WIRT'S CHILDHOOD.
For the otretu that we mri,
Tim is with material filled;
Our to-days and yeaerday,
An the blocks with whih we build."-Lagf llm.
FoR the encouragement of young men laboring under
serious disadvantages, an example will now be given of
one who, in the words of his eloquent biographer,*
" springing from an humble origin, was enabled to attain
to high distinction among his countrymen."
William Wirt was born in the year 1772. His father
kept a tavern in Bladensburg, Maryland. William was
the youngest of six children, and was early left an or-
phan, his father dying before he was two years old, and
his mother before he had reached his eighth year.
William was a lively, shrewd, pleasant-tempered, and
beautiful boy, upon whom many eyes were turned in
Ho. John P. Kennedy, from whose "Life of Wirt" we hve, with
his permiion, made copiou extracts.
THE LAWYER. 69
And well it was for the orphan boy that he won this
In a charming autobiography, written for his own
family, William Wirt has given an amusing and exceed-
ingly interesting account of his early life.
He says, In 1779, I was sent to Georgetown, eight
miles from Bladensburg, to school. I was placed at
boarding with the family of Mr. Schoolfield, a Quaker.
They occupied a small house of hewn logs at the eastern
end of Bridge street. Friend Schoolfield was a well-set,
square-built, honest-faced, and honest-hearted Quaker;.
his wife one of the best of creation. A deep sadness fell
upon me when I was left by the person who accompanied
me to Georgetown. When I could no longer see a face
that I knew, nor an object that was not strange, I re-
member the sense of total desertion and forlornness that
seized upon my heart. Unlike anything I have felt in
after years, I sobbed, as if my heart would break, for
hours together, and was utterly inconsolable, notwith-
standing the maternal tenderness with which good Mrs.
Schoolfield tried to comfort me. Almost half a century
has rolled over the incident, yet full well do I recollect
with what gentle affection and touching sympathy she
urged every topic that was calculated to console a child f
my years. After quieting me in some measure by her
caresses, she took down her Bible and read to me the
story of Joseph and his brethren. It is probable I had
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
read it before, as such things are usually read, without
understanding it; but she made me comprehend it, and
in the distresses of Joseph and his father, I forgot my
own. His separation from his family had brought him
to great honor, and possibly mine, I thought, might be
equally fortunate. I claim some sense of gratitude. I
never forgot an act of kindness, and never received one
that my heart has not impelled me to wish for some oc-
casion to return it. So far as my experience goes, I am
persuaded, too, that doing an act of kindness, and still
more, repeated acts to the same individual, are as apt to
attach the heart of the benefactor to the object, as that
of the beneficiary to the person who does him the service.
It was so in this instance. I went to see Mrs. School-
field after I became a man, and a warmer meeting has
seldom taken place between mother and son."
Here, then, is the secret of the kindly regard,"-the
affectionate, grateful disposition of the youthful Wirt.
The romance of his character is exhibited, most amus-
ingly, in the following account of his first love. The boy
must have been at the time eight years old. He tells
the story as follows :-
"From Georgetown I was transferred to a classical
school about forty miles from Bladensburg. I was board-
ed with a widow lady by the name of Love, and my resi-
den.e in her family forms one of the few sunny spots in
the retrospect of my childhood. There were two boys of
THE LAWYER. 71
us near the same age; Johnson Carnes was rather older
and larger than I was. He was a good, diffident, rather
grave boy, with better common sense than I had: but he
did not sing, was rather homely, and had no mirth and
frolic in him; I, on the contrary, was pert, lively, and
saucy-and they used to say pretty withal-I said smart
things sometimes, and sang two or three songs of humor
To crown all, I had a sweetheart, one of the prettiest
cherubs that ever was born. Mr. Thomas Reeder lived
on the banks of the Potomac. The house was of brick,
situated on a high, airy bank, giving a beautiful view
of the river, which is there four miles wide. Peggy
Reeder was the only child of her parents, about my
own age, rather younger, and as beautiful as it
is possible for a child to be. We fell most exceed-
ingly in love with each other. She was accustomed to
make long visits to her Aunt Love; and no two lovers,
however romantic, were ever more happy than we. On
my part, it was a serious passion. No lover was ever
more disconsolate in the absence of his mistress, nor more
enraptured at meeting her. I do not know whether it is
held that the affections keep pace with the intellect in
their development, but I do know that there is noting .
the sentiment of happy love which I did not exri
for that girl, in the course of the two years when Z t-
sided as Mrs. Love's. When I left there we werq firmly
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
engaged to be married at the following Easter. I felt
proud and happy, not in the least doubting the fulfillment
of the engagement at the time appointed.
As for school, Mr. Dent was a most excellent man,
a sincere and pious Christian, and, I presume, a good
teacher. In the two years, Johnson Carnes and myself
got as far advanced as Caesar's Commentaries, though
we could not have been well grounded, for when I chang-
ed to another school, I was put back to Cornelius Nepos.
Mr. Dent was very good-tempered. I do not remember
to have received from him a harsh word, or any kind of
punishment, but once."
The imaginative character of William Wirt's mind
was early developed. He says, I became sensible of
the power of forming and pursuing, at pleasure, a day-
dream, from which I derived great enjoyment, and to
which I found myself often recurring. There was
nothing in the scenery around me to awaken such vagaries.
It was tame, gentle, and peaceful; there was neither in-
centive nor fuel for poetic dreams. Mine were the
.amusements of the dull morning walks from Mrs. Love's
to the school-house. It was a walk of about two miles,
and my companion was rather disposed to silence. I
remember very distinctly the subject of one of these
vagaries from the circumstance of my having recalled,
renewed, and varied it again and again, from the pleasure
it aforded me. I imagined myself the owner of a
THE LAWYER .
beautiful black horse, fleet as the winds. My pleasure
consisted in imagining the admiration of the immense
throngs on the race-field, brought there chiefly to witness
the exploits of my prodigy of a horse. I could see them
following and admiring him as he walked along by the
course, and could hear their bursts of applause as he shot
by, first one competitor and then another, in the race.
The vision was vivid as life; and I felt all the glow of
triumph that a real victory could have given."
Desire of distinction! How it already throbbed at
the heart of the school-boy !
The next change in the early life of William Wirt
was to the school of the Rev. James Hunt, the Presby-
terian minister in Montgomery county. There he board-
ed in the family of Major Magruder, a planter. The
original nafne was MacGregor.
The Major showed marks of Highland extraction.
He was large, robust, and somewhat corpulent, with a
round, florid face, short, curling, sandy hair, and blue-gray
eyes. He was strong of limb, fiery in temperament, hos-
pitable, warm-hearted, and rough. He was a magistrate,
and ex officio a conservator of the peace, which, how-
ever, he was as ready, on provocation, to break as to
preserve. At times, he was kind and playful with the
boys; but woe betide the unfortunate boy or man who
became the object of his displeasure. Mrs. Magruder's
contrast with her husband was striking. She was quiet,
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
and generally silent. I do not remember having heard
her speak a dozen times in the two years that I lived in
the family. But the Major's voice I remember, as the
loud north wind that used to rock the house and sweep
the snow-covered field. They had a large family, seven
sons and four daughters. The grown sons were numerous,
and loud enough to keep the house alive, being some-
what of the Osbaldistone order, except that there was not
a Rashleigh among them; nor was there a Di Vernon
among the girls."
Major Magruder's household embraced not less than
twenty white persons. To these there was a constant
addition, by visitors to the young people of the family.
It was, in fact, an active, bustling, merry, noisy family,
always in motion, and often in commotion. To me it
was painfully contrasted with the small, quiet, affection-
ate establishment of Mrs. Love. There I had been the
petted child, and supreme object of attention. Here I
was lost in the multitude, unnoticed, unthought of, and
left to make my way, and take care of myself, as well as
I could. My hair, which, under the discipline of Mrs.
Love's daughters, was as clean and soft as silk, now lost
its beauty. I had been spoiled by indulgence, and was
really unfit to take care of myself. I did not know how
to go about it. Young as I was, I had reflection enough
to compare the two scenes in which I had lived, to feel
my present desolation, and to sigh over the past. The
THE LAWYEL. 75
tune of Roslin Castle never recurred to my memory
without filling my eyes with tears."
"There was another circumstance which embittered
my residence at Major Magruder's. One of my com-
panions was ill-tempered, and I became the peculiar
object of his tyranny. There was that in my situation
which would have disarmed a generous temper. I was a
small, feebly-grown, delicate boy, an orphan, and a poor
one, too, but these circumstances seemed rather to invite
than to allay the hostility of this fierce young man.
During the two years that it was my misfortune to be in
the house with him, and his school-fellow, I suffered a
wanton barbarity, that so degraded and cowed my spirit,
that I wonder I have ever recovered it."
This was the part of Wirt's life-apprenticeship
which was to try his mettle. Here he undoubtedly lost
the pert" and saucy ways of which he accuses
himself. Let us see how he sought to relieve himself
from his persecutor.
The rest of the family were content to let me alone,
and I became, at length, well content to be so. I can
recall here the first experience I had of the refuge and
comfort of solitude." Often have I gone to bed long
before I was sleepy, and long before any other member
of the household, that I might enjoy, in silence and
1i "Solitude is the nurse of genius."
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
to myself, the hopes which my imagination never failed
to set before me. These imaginings rest on my memory
with the distinctness of yesterday. I looked forward to
the time when I should be a young man, and should
have my own office, of two rooms, my own servant,
and the means of receiving and entertaining my friends
with elegant liberality, my horse, and fine equipment, a
rich wardrobe, and these all recommended by such man-
ners and accomplishments as should again restore me
to such favor and affectionate intercourse as I had known
at Mrs. Love's. I never dreamt of any other revenge
on my tormenting school-fellow, than to eclipse him, and
make him sue for my friendship."
These extracts from the autobiography, which, by
the way, was only given by Mr. Wirt till his eleventh
year, sufficiently indicate the temperament of the boy,
and give us no slight glimpses of the future aspirations
of the man. They show how true an eye and how true
a heart he had for the kindly influences that fell in the
way of his youthful experience."
The ingenuous and quick-sighted boy" was, doubt-
less, shy and diffident, and the trials of his desolate con-
dition as an orphan, must have been greatly enhanced by
his extreme sensitiveness. But where the boy felt entire
confidence, he could be gay and light-hearted. Fortu-
nately, the aunt with whom he lived, while quite young,
won that confidence, and before her, he exhibited traits of
THE LAWYER. 77
character not observed by others, particularly the alterns-
tion from grave to gay," from thoughtfulness to light-
hearted ease." When his uncle was debating with her
the question of his education, she remarked, "When I
look at that dear child, he scarcely seems one of us, and
I weep when I think of him."
"Such an expression," says Mr. Kennedy, "would
seem to indicate some early presage of that superiority
which his riper years developed."
William Wirt remained until he was fifteen years of
age at the school of Mr. Hunt. Here, he laid the firm
foundation for his future intellectual career. "He ac-
quired some insight into astronomy, some taste for phys-
ics, some relish for classical study, but above all, some
sharpness of appetite for the amusements afforded by the
'run of the library.'
That library cheated him out of many a worse rec-
reation, and whilst it captivated his boyish imagination
with its world of treasures, it served also to implant in
his mind that love of various lore, which seeks its enjoy-
ment among the flowers that enamel the broad fields of
A taste for reading formed thus early, is indeed one
of the most effectual preventive of vice. The gratifi-
cation of that taste is, moreover, taking the whole course
of a long life into view, one of the highest enjoyments that
man can have upon this earth.
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
Many men who have won distinction by their intel-
lectual accomplishments, have been able to trace their
first impulses toward an honorable renown, to the oppor-
tunities afforded by a miscellaneous library, and to the
tastes which it has enabled them to improve."
There seems to have been in the case of William
Wirt, quite a sufficient concentration of methodized
study, in the pursuit of his own laborious profession, to
justify and commend the habit of light and excursive
reading in all other departments of science or literature.
It may be said to have been Mr. Wirt's characteristic
quality of mind, to perceive and keenly to relish the
riches of that upper world of thought-humane letters.
These, comprehending in their scope nearly everything
that is graceful in aesthetics, everything that is beautiful
in art, glowing in poetry, and eloquent in thought, pre-
sent to the student a field of various observation, which
can only be cultivated and enjoyed by the most appa-
rently desultory study."
The lawyer who is thus prepared has a wide field for
illustration, of immense advantage, when he comes to ad-
dress a jury.
Wirt tried his pen first upon poetry.
"He read how Pope" had first tempted his muse
at twelve years of age. He himself was now thirteen;
why shouldn't he versify ?"
S I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came."
Sure enough, why should not so imaginative a mind
produce genuine poetry 1
"He tried his hand at it, and failed. He accordingly
resolved that nature had not made him a versifier. There
was, however, the world of prose open to him, and forth-
with he set out upon that quest."
This resolve was a fortunate one, for he might other-
wise have made only a second-rate poet, instead of a
first-rate lawyer. At this very time, William Wirt was
acquiring a taste for the profession in which he after-
ward became so distinguished.
Mr. Hunt was in the habit of taking his pupils to the
Montgomery court, in term time, to give them some insight
to those mysteries which may be said to be, in this coun-
try, the ladder to preferment. The court-house was
some four miles from the school. The whole troop,
headed by the Domine, went on foot, and with due so-
lemnity entered the rustic hall of justice, and took their
seats in the unoccupied jury-box. Amongst the pleaders,
one of the youngest was William H. Dorsey, well known
to the school and neighborhood. He became their favor-
ite, and in their eyes a hero. Boys have a great instinct
for hero-worship;-and worship with them is imitation."
Why should we not have a little court of our own 1"
said the schoolboys. "Agreed."
Mr. Hunt's school-room forthwith became the court-
room, and here the youthful Wirt first displayed the
80 SUCCESS IN LIFE.
germs of that forensic eloquence which, in after years,
charmed both judge and jury. He also drew up the con-
stitution for the youthful moot court and a prefatory let-
ter of apology.
WILLIAM WIRT'8 BOYHOOD.
"Build to-day, the, amo uad san,
With a fde sad ample bae;
And amudia uad earn,
Shall to-morow ISd it, plao."- Lu/fd*w.
WHEN William Wirt was fourteen years old, he left
school. His small patrimony was expended, and at this
early age he was to be thrown upon his own resources
for support. But his amiable deportment and his talents
had won for him powerful friends.
Mr. Peter A. Carnes was an early patron and most
useful friend to the lad. This gentleman belonged to
the bar of Maryland. He had the best opportunities to
observe the character of the young and sprightly boy,
whose qualities were so well adapted to captivate his re-
gard. This acquaintance ripened into a strong and last-
ing attachment, which was subsequently manifested in
the most substantial proofs of friendship to his family."
Mr. Carnes afterward married Elisabeth, the eldest
sister of William Wirt, and being thus connected, the
interest in his prot6g6 increased, and he was able to ren-
der him essential service.
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
Besides Mr. Carnes, there was another who now
took an interest in the success of the youthful scholar,
and whose connection with him had the most happy influ-
ence in shaping his career to that eminence which he af-
Ninian Edwards, afterward Governor of Illihois, was
the classmate of Wirt at Mr. Hunt's school. When
young Edwards went home, after the breaking up of that
school, he carried with him the constitution of the moot
court which Wirt had drawn up, and the prefatory re-
port. The father, Benjamin Edwards, it seems, was
so much struck with the talent displayed in them, that
he soon after wrote to Wirt, inviting him to come into
his family as a tutor to his son Ninian and two of his
nephews, who were preparing for college.
Mr. Edwards assured the young tutor that his library
should be at his service, and this would be a great advan-
tage in prosecuting his studies. Soon, the pupil, now
converted into a teacher, was most comfortably estab-
lished at Mount Pleasant-as this seat was appropriate-
ly called-in the bosom of a hospitable, cultivated, and
Who will presume to say that merit does not meet
with reward? Here was a lad of only fifteen, promoted
above his school-fellows, and making his way in the world.
His first step is taken upon the ladder of eminence. He
was now brought under genial influences. Mr. Edwards
THE LAWYER. 88
was well versed in general literature, his mind was
strong, direct, and trained to reflection; his demeanor
challenged respect and esteem by its dignity; his char-
acter, public and private, was distinguished for lofty pat-
riotism and inflexible virtue. His manners were affable,
and particularly agreeable to the young."
To the last day of his life, Wirt could not speak of
Benjamin Edwards but with a grateful affection, which
seemed to be even more than filial."
When Wirt had conquered the obstacles of poverty,
and, as Mr. Kennedy forcibly remarks, had hewn his
way to a brilliant reputation, he wrote to his benefactor
as follows:-" You have taught me to love you like a
parent. Well indeed may I do so, since to you, to the
influence of your conversation, your precepts and your
example in the most critical and decisive period of my
life, I owe whatever of useful or good there may be in
the bias of my mind or character. Continue, then, I im-
plore you, to think of me as a son, and teach your chil-
dren to regard me as a brother: they shall find me one
indeed, if the wonder-working dispensations of Provi-
dence should ever place them in want of a brother's arm,
or mind, or bosom."
The young tutor's destination was the bar, but after
all, there were many drawbacks to his success. He was
shy and timid. His enunciation was thick and indistinct,
marked by a nervous rapidity of utterance. Round,
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
clear, and dauntless speech," may well be considered the
lawyer's first, second, and third recommendation to the
Mr. Edwards encouraged his young friend to overcome
these obstacles. He told him how many distinguished
men had either broken down, or feared a break-down, at
their first trial as public speakers.
Dorsey," said he, whom you so much admire, and
Pinckney, whom you will admire still more when you shall
have seen him, are making their way to distinction under
as great disadvantages as any you have to encounter."
Wirt passed twenty happy and useful months under
the roof of Mr. Edwards. He devoted his leisure to
classical study and preparation for his chosen profession.
At the expiration of this period his health failed, and by
the advice of friends he was induced to make a journey
to Georgia on horseback. There he passed the winter
with his friend and brother-in-law, Mr. Carnes, and his
The traveler set out alone. He was in his seven-
teenth year. The way was long, and a great deal of it
lay through a dreary wilderness of pine-forest and sand.
It was no light enterprise in that day, but we may well
imagine that to the cheerful boy, so full of pleasant fan-
cies and rosy hopes, the wayside brought no weariness.
In the first outlook of a youth of seventeen upon the
world,-mounted upon a steed, with a purse sufficiently
stored to bring him to his journey's end,-with all his
worldly goods packed on a pad behind his saddle,-with a
gay heart in his bosom, and a sunshiny face beneath his
beavei,-what is there on the globe to make him sad 1"
If our young adventurer had kept a journal of this
expedition, it would, doubtless, have demonstrated the
content and joy with which he pursued his lonely journey.
His health and vigor were restored, and in the spring he
returned to Maryland.
WILLIAM WIRT ADMITTED TO THE BAR.
"Thus, in the destittion of the wild desert, does our young Ihmael require for him-
elf the highest of all posem ions, that of Self-help."- Carlls.
AT the early age of seventeen, Wirt commenced the
study of the law, with William P. Hunt, the son of his
former preceptor. This was a year of vast consequence
to his future progress, for he seems to have been already
at the very gate of the Temple of Themis. Maryland,
however, was not to be the theatre where the most con-
spicuous acts in the life-drama of William were to be
While with Mr. Hunt," writes Wirt, a friend in-
formed me of a very advantageous station for a lawyer
in the State of Virginia. Everybody urged me to seize
it. I removed my residence immediately to Virginia,
and after residing about five months with a Mr. Swann,
an acquaintance and school-mate of Tom Carnes, and a
young fellow of distinguished legal abilities, I applied
to the judges for a license, and obtained the signature of
three of their honors."
This is the introduction of William Wirt to Virgin-
ia, a State with whose fame he grew to be almost in-
separably identified, and toward which he never ceased
to look with the affection of a child to a parent.
The court in which he was admitted to practice was
that of Culpepper county, and his residence was at the
The equipment" of William Wirt, for the learned
profession into which he had now entered, would seem
as insufficient for a modern practitioner as would the bow
and arrow of the savage for the United States soldier.
He has told the story himself, that his whole magazine
of intellectual artillery at this period, comprised no other
munitions than a copy of Blackstone, two volumes of
Don Quixote, anA a volume of Tristram Shandy.
And how was he, thus equipped and with so little
drilling, to meet the contest with well-trained, disciplined
antagonists ? It will be remembered that Wirt was con-
stitutionally diffident, and that he had not yet overcome
the hurried speech and thick tongue" which annoyed
him at school. Judge, then, young man, what must
have been William Wirt's emotions when called "for
the first time to discourse the most difficult and perplex-
ing of all human lore in the presence of the frowning
and solemn majesty of the bench," or those twelve men
who represent the country."
"The young votary, who, for the first time, stands in
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
this presence, surrounded by its usual and characteristic
auditory ;-when he sees the compact pavement of heads,
with their multitudinous eyes concentred upon one focus,
and that focus himself, all eager to hear every word,"-
what but nightmare" can give an idea of the op-
pressed brain and bewildered sight" of the shy and un-
practiced youth, under these trying circumstances 1"
One such scene I have witnessed," says Mr. Ken-
nedy, and I remember the agony with which the con-
fused novitiate arose a second time-having been but a
moment before compelled to take his seat, in the hope to
collect his routed thoughts. His second essay was not
more fortunate than the first. He stood silent for a
brief space, and at the end was able to say,-' Gentle-
men, I declare to Heaven, that if I had an enemy, upon
whose head I would invoke the most cruel torture, I could
wish him no other fate than to stand where I stand now.'
Curiously enough, the sympathy which the appeal
brought him, seemed almost instantly to give him strength.
A short pause was followed by another effort, which was
completely, and even triumphantly, successful."
William Wirt's first appearance at the bar has been
described in a memoir written by his friend, Mr. Cruse.
With these advantages,"-a rich and melodious voice
when undisturbed by timidity, a pleasing person and pre-
possessing manners,-" and defects"-an indistinct enun-
ciation, and extreme bashfulness,-" he was to begin the
competitions of the bar in a part of the country where he
was quite unknown, where much talent had preoccupied
the ground. There is no part of the world where, more
than in Virginia, these embarrassments would be lessened
to a new adventurer, as there is nowhere a more courteous
race of gentlemen. There was, however, another embar-
rassment-our lawyer had no cause. But he encountered
a young friend much in the same circumstances, who
had a single case, which he proposed so share with
Wirt, as the means of making a joint ddbut. With this
small stock in trade, they went to attend the first County
Their case was one of joint assault and battery. The
motion was opened by Wirt's friend, with all the alarm
of a first essay. The bench was then, in Virginia County
Courts, composed of the ordinary justices of the peace;
and the elder members of the bar, by a usage, the more
necessary from the constitution of the tribunal, fre-
quently interposed as amid curia, or informers of the
conscience of the court. It appears that on the case
being opened, one of these customary advisers interposed.
The ire of our beginner (Wirt) was kindled by this re-
ception of his friend, and by this voluntary interference
with their motion; and when he came to reply, he forgot
the natural alarms of the occasion, and maintained his
point with recollection and firmness. This awakened
the generosity of an elder member of the bar, a person
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
of consideration in the neighborhood, and a good lawyer.
He stepped in as an auxiliary, remarking that he also
was amicus curia, and in this capacity would state his
conviction of the propriety of the motion, and that the
court was not at liberty to disregard it; adding, that its
having come from a new quarter, gave it but a stronger
claim on the candor and urbanity of a Virginian bar. The
two friends carried their point in triumph."
Not the most sanguine friend of Wirt had prophesied
so successful a termination to his first effort.
The ordeal was past,-the ice was broken,-and the
new barrister felt that he might thenceforth walk into
the courts unquestioned.
There had been a want of system in Wirt's course of
preparation, which must have increased his natural diffi-
dence of himself. He must, too, have been conscious of
ignorance on many points connected with his profession;
and his extreme youth was not calculated to inspire his
clients with unlimited confidence. Yet, in spite of this
formidable array of unpropitious circumstances, "his
practice at the bar of Culpepper increased, and during
the two years which he remained in that part of the
country, he secured the esteem and regard of influential
WILLIAM WIRT'S LEGAL PROGRESS.
"Shall he who loan, inspired by loftier views,
LAfe's little Oes and little pains refue 1"
"Let your heart be tender, but your breast strong, and struggle sad hope a4 the ame
IN the neighborhood of Charlotteville, at Pen Park,
resided Doctor George Gilmer. This place was in the
immediate neighborhood of Mr. Jefferson, and within a
day's ride of Mr. Monroe and Mr. Madison. The
delightful residence of Dr. Gilmer afforded, among other
great attractions, the best society of the time-choice
books were found in the library, instructive and agreeable
conversation enlivened the fireside. But the richly-gift-
ed daughter of Dr. Gilmer was the crowning attraction
of Pen Park. Mildred Gilmer was intellectual, kind,
cheerful, and noted for her good sense. The imagina-
tive and susceptible young barrister found a fairy-land
in this romantic spot, and a spell in the eye and tongue
of the maiden, which charmed too wisely to be broken.
The father's regard for him opened the way to a closer
alliance, and it was not long before he took his place in
the family as a cherished son-in-law."
92 SUCCESS IN LIFE.
Wirt was now in his twenty-fifth year. His practice at
the bar was increasing, and his reputation widely extend-
ing. The stores of English literature-Hooker, Boyle,
Locke, Barrow, South, Bacon, and Milton-now delighted
and enriched his mind.
Mr. Cruse, who knew William Wirt well at that
time, says, He was highly engaging and prepossessing.
His figure was strikingly elegant and commanding, with
a face of the first order of masculine beauty, animated,
and expressing high intellect. His manners took the
tone of his heart; they were frank, open, and cordial,
and his conversation, to which his reading and early pur-
suits had given a classic tinge, was very polished, gay,
and witty. Altogether he was a most fascinating com-
panion, and to those of his own age, irresistibly and uni-
The temptations which surrounded Wirt at this time
were fearful. An unbounded hospitality, amongst the
gentlemen of the country, opened every door to the indul-
gence of convivial habits."
It is deeply to be lamented that these temptations
were sometimes too strong for the virtue of William
Wirt, and that he yielded occasionally in such a way as
to occasion deep anxiety to his friends, and future re-
morse to himself. Willingly would we have drawn a
thick veil over the faults that thus dimmed the bril-
liancy of the young barrister's character, but truth
THE LAWYER. 98
obliges the biographer to confess that there were some
aberrations from the path of virtuous sobriety, which
William Wirt deeply, sadly regretted in after years.
"Once, u he (Sir Matthew Hale) was buying some cloth for a new suit, the draper,
lith whom he differed about the price, told him he should have it for nothing, if he
wold promise him a hundred pounds when he came to be Lord Chief Justice of Eng-
lad. To which he answered, that he could not, with a good conscience, wear any
man's cloth unless he paid for it.' So he satufied the draper, and carried away the
cloth. Yet the draper lived tosse him advanced to that same dignity."--Bislp Baest.
ONE of those fortunate prophecies, which surprise by
their realization, is mentioned in connection with this pe-
riod of Wirt's life, as an incident worth relating.
James Barbour, Dabney Carr, and Wirt were on
their customary journey to Fluvanna, the adjoining coun-
ty to Albermarle, to attend the court there,-" the State
of Flu," as that county was called in their jocular terms.
Wirt was noted for making clever speeches, as they rode
together. Sometimes he rode ahead of his companions,
and, waiting for them by the road-side, welcomed them,
in an oration of mock gravity, to the confines of '* the
State of Flu," representing himself to be one of its
dignitaries, sent there to receive the distinguished persons,
into whom he had transformed the young attorneys of
the circuit. These exhibitions, and others of the mae
kind, are said to have afforded many a laugh to the aton.
S* TH LAWYER. 96
The three friends dinedtad pased the night at Carr's
Brook, in Albemarle. During the visit, Barbour enter-
tained the company with a discourse upon the merits of
himself and his companions, in the course of which he
undertook to point out their respective destinations in af-
"You, Dabney," said he, have indulged a vision of
judicial eminence. You shall be gratified, and shall hold
a seat on the bench of the Court of Appeals of Virginia."
Your fortune, William," he continued, addressing
himself to Wirt, shall conduct you to the Attorney-
Gencralship of the United States, where you shall have
harder work to do than making bombastic speeches in
the woods of Albemarle. As for myself, I shall be cor-
tent to take my seat in the Senate of the United States."
This jocular prophecy has become notable in conse-
quence of its exact fulfillment, in respect to each of the
These were golden days to William Wirt. He went
to Albemarle poor, and without powerful friends. He
had very little experience in the business of life, and no
great store of useful knowledge. Moreover, he had not
entered into the lists with powerful adversaries to prove
his strength, and was not very sanguine as to his final
Here he found himself surrounded with warm friends
capable of appreciating his merits, and able to aid him
SUCCESS IN LIFE.
with judicious instruction and wise counsel. But dark
clouds came over the cheerful path that Wirt was tread-
ing with a joyous heart. His father-in-law, Dr. Gilmer,
-that invaluable instructor, guide, and friend,-was re-
moved by death. In the fifth year of his married life a
still heavier blow was inflicted in the loss of his wife.
This, if not the first, was the most painful lesson of
his life upon the uncertainty of human happiness, and
the duty of establishing hopes upon a surer foundation
than the treasures of earth."
Adversity is not unfrequently the most healthful ingre-
dient in the cup of human experience, and the best tonic
to brace the mind for those encounters in which virtue is
proved and renown achieved.
In the early letters of Wirt there are occasional indi-
cations of that reverence for religious subjects which
formed so prominent a characteristic of his later life.
No occasion of hilarity, no youthful indiscretion, seems
ever to have betrayed him into the profanation of sub-
jects esteemed sacred, or to the practice of the scoffs and
jests which sometimes disgrace thoughtless youth, or
The death of his wife deepened the religious senti-
ment, and led him to desire more earnestly the solace of
Christian faith, and of that hope which is as an anchor
to the soul, sure and steadfast."
The delightful residence of Pen Park had become full.
of sad associations to the sensitive heart of Wirt; he
left the beloved spot, and established his residence in
Richmond. So intense was his melancholy, that for a
time he suspended his legal practice. His friends, how-
ever, persuaded him to resume some occupation of mind,
and through their influence he was appointed Clerk of
the House of Delegates. This office was one of suf.
cient consideration to be regarded by a young man as
an advancement in the career of life. It was, besides,
not so engrossing but that he might pursue his profes-
sion whilst he held it.
This appointment was so far serviceable to him that it
brought him into personal acquaintance with some of the
most distinguished men of the day. He met with full
approbation in his new office, and was re-elected in the
two succeeding years. The young clerk became a great
favorite with all.
This portion of his life, Wirt was accustomed to con-
sider, on a review of it, one of great temptation. He
was, however, frequently led to reflect upon the necessity
of a steady aim, if he would arrive at eminence in his
It as already been remarked that the elocution of
Wirt in the early period of his professional career was
indistinct, and his manner embarrassed. There was hs-
itation at one moment, the too rapid low of utterance at
another, and frequent stammering.
98 SUCCESS IN LIFE.
Wirt, in speaking of these difficulties to a friend, said,
"My pronunciation and gesture at this time were terri-
bly vehement. I used, sometimes, to find myself liter-
ally stopped by too great rapidity of utterance; and if
any poor mortal was ever forced to struggle against a
difficulty in that matter, it was I; but my stammering
became at last a martyr to perseverance, and except
when I get some of my youthful fires lighted, I can man-
age to be pretty intelligible now."
It will be very encouraging to those who may be
troubled with similar difficulties of enunciation to know,
that Wirt entirely overcame them by careful attention
and judicious practice.
MODESTY AND EMULATION.
Thm ae gat meen nogh to emit u to Wi at tmee uot."
AT the close of the third session of the Legislature, for
which Mr. Wirt had officiated as clerk, he was chosen,
unanimously, one of the Chancellors of the State of
Virginia. This was a high honor for a man only twenty-
nine years of age, and shows the estimation in which he
was already held by his adopted State.
It had not entered into his imaginings to expect such
a mark of favor from the Legislature. The same diffi-
dence in himself, which forbade him to solicit such a
distinction, now wrought in him some perturbation of
spirit in the accepting of it. It is not always the quality
of true genius to distrust itself, for there are instances of
men of the brightest parts protruding themselves upon
the public, with that eager self-commendation which we
are accustomed to call vanity in weaker minds; but this
attribute of diffidence is so generally the accompaniment
of youthful merit, that we scarcely err when we recken
sUCCE8s IN LIFE.
upon it as one of the signs by which we may prophesy
This modesty is, most assuredly, quite pleasing in a
young man, and gains the good-will and the assistance of
his elders, who have already won their way to eminence.
The historian, Prescott, says, If we are to point out
a moral as the key of the fiction of Don Quixote, we may
pronounce it to be, the necessity of proportioning our un-
dertakings to our capacities." Aye, there's the rub! How
is a young man to know his own capacities 1 Thrust
out the invisible fruit-buds of your soul, and as a man,
you will profit by the ripened fruit," says Jean Paul.
When Mr. Wirt went to consult Mr. Monroe about
accepting his appointment, and expressed doubts and
fears as to his suitableness, either in age or acquirements,
for the poet, Mr. Monroe replied, "that the Legis-
lature, he doubted not, knew very well what it was doing,
and that it was not probable Mr. Wirt would disappoint
either it or the suitors of the court."
The duties of his new station required that Mr. Wirt
should reside in Williamsburg, and it seems he was
quite willing to remove to that place. He writes on the
oocsion to a friend, as follows:-
"I wished to leave Richmond, on many accounts. I
dropped into a circle, dear to me for the amiable and
brilliant traits which belonged to it, but in which I had