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Cato, more honest than the soft, polite and delicate Scipio Africanus? In short, are not honesty and humanity compatible? And what is the most genuine and captivating politeness, but humanity refined ?"
But to return from this digression. The qualities, by which Mr.
strikes the multitude, are his ingenuity and his wit. But those, who look more closely in. to the anatomy of his mind, discover many properties of much higher dignity and importance. This gentleman, in my opinion, unites in himself a greater diversity of talents and acquirements, than any other at the bar of Virginia. He has the reputation, and I doubt not a just one, of possessing much legal science. He has an exqui. site and a highly cultivated taste for polite literature; a genius quick and fertile ; a style pure and classick; a stream of perspicuous and beautiful elocution; an ingenuity
which no difficulties can entangle or barrass; and a wit, whose vivid and bril. liant coruscation, can gild and decorate the darkest subject. He chooses his ground, in the first instance with great judgment; and when, in the progress of a cause, an unexpected evolution of testimony, or intermediate decisions from the bench, have beaten that ground from under him, he possesses a happy, an astonishing versatility, by which he is enabled at once, to take a new position, without appearing to have lost an atom, either in the measure or stability of his basis. This is a faculty which I have observed before in an inferiour degree; but Mr. .... is so adroit, so superiour in the execution of it, that in him it appears a new and pecu. liar talent; his statements, his narrations, his arguments, are all as trans arent as the light of day. He reasons logically, and declaims very handsomely. It is true, he
never brandishes the Olympick thunder of Homer, but then he seldom, if ever, sinks beneath the chaste and attractive majesty of Virgil.
His fault is, that he has not veiled his ingenuity with sufficient address, Hence, I am told, that he is considered as a Proteus; and the courts are disposed to doubt their senses, even when he appears in his proper shape. But in spite of this adverse and unpropitious distrust, Mr. ... ..'s popularity is still in its flood; and he is justly considered as an honour and an ornament to his profession.
Adieu my friend, for the present. Ere long we may take another tour through this gallery of portraits, if more interesting objects do not call us off. Again my S......, good night.
Richmond, October 30.
Talents, my dear S...... wherever they have had a suitable theatre, have never failed to emerge from obscurity and assume their proper rank in the estimation of the world. The celebrated Camden is said to have been the tenant of a garret. Yet from the darkness, poverty and Ignominy, of this residence, he advanced to distinction and wealth, and graced the first offices and titles of our island. It is impossible to turn over the British biography, without being struck and charmed by the multitude of correspondent examples: a venerable group of novi homines, as the Romans called them : men, who, from the lowest depths of obscurity and want, and without even the influence of a patron,
have risen to the first honours of their country, and founded their own families anew. In every nation, and in every age, great talents, thrown fairly into the point of publick observation, will invariably produce the same ultimate effect. The jealous pride of power may attempt to repress and crush them; the base and malignant rancour of impotent spleen and envy may strive to embarrass and retard their flight; but these efforts, so far from achieving their ignoble purpose, so far from producing a discernible obliquity in the ascent of genuine and vigorous talents, will serve only to increase their momentum and mark their transit with an additional stream of glory.
When the great earl of Chatham first made his appearance in our house of commons, and began to astonish and transport the British parliament, and the British nation, by the boldness, the force and range of his thoughts, and the celestial fire and pathos