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going on in my view, on the finest plain and amidst the most captivating landscape in the world!-I can't stand this divine echo of the bugle from the mountains!
"The music pauses for the drill, and I resume my pen. Poor Robert is very differently employed, being now under examination before the academic staff, to determine whether he is to be admitted or not. He has been told by Thayer that the examination is very severe; but Thayer kindly requested a private interview with him this morning and put some preparatory questions to him. He has told me that Robert will certainly pass.
"There goes the band again!-and here come these ravishing echoes once more from the mountains, which mountains hover over us with the old revolutionary fort, "Putnam," crowning the summit to the southwest. It is all in vain to write. There are too many beautiful objects. We have Newburg in full view, eight miles up the river, seen through the majestic jaws of the mountain, which form the passage for the river to the northwest. The academic staff have come to see me. Robert is highly spoken of.
"I go to Newburg to-morrow to get on board of a descending boat at ten at night."
THE TRIALS AT BEL AIR.-ENCOUNTERS PINKNEY.-RIVALRY.-LETTER TO CARR. SEVERE LABORS. .- SICKNESS. REMEMBRANCES OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.-SUMMER EXCURSION TO SARATOGA, LAke george, eTC.— CHARLES COLLEY-A STORY OF MR. POPE'S.-LETTER TO POPE.—BURGOYNE'S SURRENDER.
THE cases which had taken the Attorney General to Bel Air last year, now came on for trial in April. There was a great array of counsel. Mr. Pinkney and General Winder were the leading members associated in the defence. Mr. Wirt, General Harper, Mr. Mitchell,—a gentleman distinguished at the Baltimore bar for his professional talents, and not less for his wit and humor, were engaged, with others, in the prosecutions. I hope I shall not be considered as transcending the limits of propriety, in referring to a few passages in the letters written to Mrs. Wirt, at this period, relating to these trials. They speak confidentially, and in good earnest, the writer's exultation in the success of his own performances. There is no motive at this time to conceal such opinions; and the expression of them, when we regard the circumstances in which they were written, and especially the person to whom they were addressed, will scarcely be open to the censure of egotism. We shall see the old rivalry renewed.
"This being my day to make a speech, I commenced at ten, thinking I should have done in two hours: but I spoke four, and was so much exhausted at two o'clock, that the Court adjourned without my application,-I being then only about half way in my speech. I satisfied myself; and knowing me as you do, that is enough for me. I will only add that Pinkney paid me the compliment to say that it was very beautiful and apparently very argumentative.' Others hold more flattering language; but I am
a modest man, as you know, and can say nothing further on the occasion. I was hoarse and extremely fatigued; but, judging by my feelings to-night, I shall be able to resume to-morrow with increased vigor.
"Thursday, April 5.
"I wrote you on Monday evening after I had finished about half my speech. The next day at two o'clock I closed. I have rarely, if ever, made a better argument. General Winder has been speaking ever since, and to-day comes out Roland. He has been closeted ever since he heard the first part of my speech, on Monday, to the subject of which alone he means to confine his answer, leaving the residue to Winder. We look for an Etnean explosion from him. He is certainly put up to full speed, and has much character staked upon his appearance. He has been unwontedly civil and kind to me.
"Saturday, April 7.
"This is the fourteenth day since this argument was opened. Pinkney, before he began, promised to speak only two hours and a half. He has now spoken two days, and is, at this moment, at it again for the third day. You will be gratified to hear that although there are four counsel on the same side with me, and the veteran General Harper,-hitherto the only Maryland rival of Pinkney,―among them, yet here the Attorney General is regarded as his chief antagonist, and the comparison made by the Court, the bar and the bystanders far from being to my prejudice."
Trifles such as these, which on other occasions might be liable to disparaging comment, acquire value in a biographical sketch as exponents of character. They are to be regarded as illustrative anecdotes, which often serve to cast a better light upon personal qualities or the features of the mind, than more earnest and acute dissertation. They are chiefly valuable in the present case, for the evidence they furnish us of that eager, sensitive and stimulating desire in the breast of Wirt, to contend with and to excel, if possible, the most renowned and skilful competitors in the theatre of his own art.
The letter which follows opens a history of severe labor and its too common penalty, disease. It is not without a strain of
jocular vain-glory which usually goes with a cheerful ambition, and tells of a sanguine temper and a contented life. The remembrances of revolutionary France, with which it concludes, have some signification in connexion with events of the present day.
MY DEAR FRIEND:
TO JUDGE CARR.
WASHINGTON, May 14, 1821.
Your letter is a cordial to me. It is such a letter as was to have been expected from such a friend, under the excitement that produced it. Who can say that life is not worth having while such a friend is to be found and enjoyed? But enough, in this strain-for you know how much more I think and feel than I say.
The alarm which you have had, on my account is, I hope, unfounded—at least in the extent to which it seems to have gone. It was only a longer continued, though a much less severe recurrence of an infirmity to which I have been subject, ever since I was fourteen years old-a vertigo,-the first attack of which I experienced at old Parson Hunt's, in Montgomery county, twelve or fourteen miles above this place, while I went to school there, in 1786 or 1787. I had been, at that time, sitting, with my elbow on my knee, and my head resting on my hand, reading Swift's account of Partridge, the Almanac-maker, for the first time in my life; it was before breakfast, in a winter's morning, and before a rousing fire, which I was too much engaged to feel—when, on being suddenly called upon by old Mrs. Hunt, from the next room, to ring the bell, I started up and crossed the floor to the bellstring and had only time to pull it once or twice, when my head began to swim and I fell-bereaved of all sensation and reflection, except that I was spinning on the floor like a top. A most profuse and deadly sweat, with sick stomach, followed-whereupon I got clear of my sickness. I sent for young Dr. Galt, who, at my request, bled me, although he assured me it was unnecessary, and that the whole was attributable to disordered stomach. Minor attacks, accompanied with dimness and blindness of sight, have been frequent with me, some of which I have had to disperse by jumping up and dancing over the floor; but I have thought nothing of them, except as transient inconveniences, and not even worth mentioning.
During the last Supreme Court I was very much engaged. I was forced to lose my wonted sleep, and had not a moment for exercise. The Court kept me constantly engaged till four o'clock: I had then to hasten home to dinner, and, immediately afterwards, to sit down to my papers till ten, eleven and twelve at night-then up again at three or four in the morning, and with merely time enough to take breakfast, off, as rapidly as my carriage could drive me, to the Capitol, at eleven. This, I bore very well for six weeks-when I was required to decide a question of usage, in the department of State, in settling the accounts of foreign ministers, without any previous knowledge on the subject, and with no other guide than huge accounts, of which not one item in a hundred applied to the case. I always disliked accounts. It is a dray-horse business, in which even the triumph of acuteness, in discovery has never compensated me for the nauseous labor of the research it was a case, too which required a speedy answerand this, after the exhaustion of past toils in court, and during the labor of others still pressing me. As I hate to say "I can't," even worse than I hate accounts, I determined to see it out; and, despatching my wife and daughter to De Neuville's, and the children to bed, I set into my task.
It was, while pursuing this, exhausted by past toils and want of sleep, that the symptoms of vertigo returned; not with half the violence I had before experienced-but enough so to require me to undress and go to bed. I did so, and sent for a physician, was bled, &c. The disease was again referred, as Galt had referred it, to sick stomach, totally unconnected with apoplexy or palsy. I know that it is the same vertigo I have had all my life-differing, as I said, in nothing, but its following me up with more frequent but less violent attacks. But a truce with all this. I believe if I had not been Attorney General, they would have let me enjoy my vertigo in peace, and have made no noise about it; but now, I suppose I must die outright through etiquette.
Why, sir, have not I been to Bel Air, in the midst of it all, and bearded that "damn'd magician Glendower," without suffering the thousandth part that the earth did, at the birth of the Welshman-nay, without suffering by the struggle or in the comparison? Tut, man-don't tell me!-Am I not in my youth yet-in the bloom of my youth, and the very hey-day of my blood? Poh, VOL. 2-11*