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TO WILLIAM POPE.
WASHINGTON, June 5, 1823.
MY EXCELLENT FRIEND:
Your letter of the first of May found me at Baltimore plunged up to the chin in law suits. I never like to write to you when my mind is pressed with business. I love to be at my ease that I may talk all imaginable nonsense with you, free from the reproaches of conscience that I am, in the meanwhile, neglecting serious business. Your letters are always most welcome to me; but of late years, since misfortunes have fallen on my friends in Virgina, and since my own destiny seems to have separated me forever from that beloved State, they are the music which Ossian describes-"The memory of joys that are past—pleasant and mournful to the soul."
When alone and unengaged with business, my mind finds a pensive pleasure in running back to scenes we have enjoyed together, and retracing every incident that afforded us so much light-hearted and innocent amusement. That same Rock Castle dinner shines conspicuous in this backward view. Do you remember what a fury our friend Davy got into with O'Reilly's horse, for running in among the corn?" D―n the horse !"—"God forgive me," quoth Davy. And then-"I'll be dab'd:"—and the negro mimic at Saunders' store;-and the crossing the river at night to old Mead's, not to say anything of the scene in the ferry boat,when you surprised O'Reilly so much by rushing in along side of him on horseback.-"Oh! the days!" But among them all, that long trip at Powhatan court house, when we had up the case of Conrad Webb, and old Osbourne's will,-and used to retreat of evenings, and on Saturdays and Sundays, to the sweet shade and tranquillity of Montpelier. That was a charming time. Everything in the trip was delightful,—not excepting Daniel Call's head "waving like a flag on the turnpike." "But the days are gone." Oh! through what sad times have we lived, my dear Pope-what distressing reverses of fortune among our friends! We ourselves, too, have so
certainly seen our best and brightest days, and have so little ahead to expect, that I feel continually disposed to cry out with the preacher" all is vanity and vexation of spirit." And yet VOL. 2-14*
you, my dear friend, are just as fresh and buoyant as if you were only seventeen, and had the whole fairy world of youthful imagination still before you. What a treasure is such a flourishing, such a perennial flow of ever living, ever sparkling spirits! Would that I could be near you to see if they are still to be caught by contagion! But it is extremely dubious whether I shall be able to come to Virginia this summer. I have turned into the practice of the law, might and main, as a refuge both from poverty and low spirits. As yet, I have no reason to complain of my success. It keeps me pretty closely engaged. I have been in Baltimore for five weeks, and in a few days shall go to Annapolis, where I shall probably be detained 'till some time in July. In the course of that month I may be required to attend an intermediate court at the Bowling Green, for the argument of a cause between Henry Lee, son of the General, and Mr. Stuart. The latter is my client. Should this take place, I shall, as at present advised, go on, after the argument is over, to Richmond, and will write you as to the precise time as soon as I know it myself. I need not tell you what sincere pleasure it would afford me to accompany you in your projected visit to Albemarle; but this is more happiness than I dare to hope for. Besides, on reflection,almost all that we cared for in Albemarle are dead and gone, and to me it would be a visit to the tombs of departed friends. The present generation is almost entirely new to me.
This is a croaking letter, my dear Pope, and I am really almost ashamed to send it. Do not infer from it that you would find me a melancholy companion. In company that pleases me I am as gay, to all appearance, as ever-and as well calculated to join in and provoke the laugh. It is only when in solitude I look back to things as they were, and compare them with things as they are, that the cold cloud comes over my heart—but enough and too much of this.
Pray continue to write to me. I wish we could have had one evening at Montpelier as I came down from Mr. Cabell's, but I would not have consented to your turning back-that was out of the question. I was desirous, however, of seeing and hearing you overflow once more in conversation, and convincing you that our separation had made no change in my feelings towards you. In truth, I wanted one of our old time's joyous, uproarious talks
with you. If I do come to Richmond I will go to see you, and I will carry up Major Clarke with me,—and you shall get Morris over, and we will have, at least, one heavenly day. How is my dear Morris? He is one of those acquaintances it always gives me pleasure to think I have made in this mortal pilgrimage. His friendship is among the few bright spots in my retrospect. I take it for granted that you and he still continue to set your horses amicably together. Talking of horses-pray what has become of Morgan Rattler, of whom I think much more sentimentally than I do of Eclipse or Henry? Apropos-what became of your promised visit to Washington, last winter? I gave you the information you wanted, and it was such as I supposed was to ensure your coming on;-but I heard no more of it. I wish I had you with me on this trip to Annapolis. It is one of the prettiest places in the world-and we have both an agreeable court and bar. They are, in truth, merry dogs-love a joke to the coreand you would fit them to a T. And then, we would take the steamboat by Baltimore, home;—and Baltimore, let me tell you, is a place worth looking at ;—the third city in the Union-with a more beautiful vicinage than any city in the world. And you have never seen Washington in summer apparel. You have never mounted those heights and looked down upon three cities at your feet. You have never seen the big Falls of Potomac-y -you have never inspected Fort Washington,-nor rolled on the bay in a steamboat. In short, I doubt exceedingly, if the trip would not afford you more interest than your sentimental journey to the Barracks unless, indeed, you could have Bullock and Phil. Gooch along to act over again the farce of the shingle.
Pray who are those writers in the Enquirer-Pendleton and Wythe?-Ritchie is, I have always thought, as honorable and pure a fellow as any that treads on the soil of Virginia-and his opinions of men and things are as conscientiously formed as any man's-but he does not always see the whole ground-and he is both a little too prompt and a little too obstinate.
With regard to the presidential question, I have thought it most consistent with delicacy, as a member of the cabinet, to withhold the expression of any opinion the one way or the other. From my situation and the opportunities which it gives me of knowing the candidates, it is at least possible that more weight might be
attached to my opinions than they deserve; and, unless the country were in greater danger than I suppose, in this controversy I should not think it fair or proper to make use of any such factitious weight in favor of the one candidate or the other.
The President, from the same course of thinking and feeling, which applies, however, with increased force to him, has observed the most perfect neutrality; and I know no man better qualified to mark out the path of prudence to another. I have a preference, however; and it is highly probable that we agree; though you have not said enough either to mark your own opinion, or to make this conjecture of our agreement a commitment on my side,—which, for the reasons already given, I had rather avoid at present. It is not impossible I may adopt a different course before the affair is over and certainly will if my duty to our common country should seem to require it.
Mrs. Wirt and family are very thankful to you for your kind recollection of them. I need not tell you what a favorite you are with them all-nor how happy they as well as I would be to see you and yours.
letter, in the hope Pray write and Have you had
I have written you here a very long, vapid of drawing a very long and gay one from you. tell me something of your professional goings on. no comical cases lately? Our love to Mrs. Pope and dear Lucy Ann-how are they? "Farewell awhile-I will not leave you long."
THE SUPREME COURT.-NEW YORK STEAMBOAT CASE.· -EXTRACT OF A IN REPLY TO EMMETT. - PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. CANDIDATES. STATE OF PARTIES.—THE PRESIDENT AND CABINET ABSTAIN FROM INTERFERING IN THE CANVASS.-LETTERS TO CARR, MORRIS AND POPE. LA FAYETTE'S RECEPTION AND PROGRESS.-ANECDOTE OF LORD STIRLING.-LETTER FROM GILMER IN ENGLAND.-SHAKSPEARE'S HOUSE.— DEATH OF Robert, the ELDEST SON OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.
I COME now to notice, once more, the labors of the Attorney General in the Supreme Court. The reader has had frequent occasion to observe, in the course of these Memoirs, how rarely the duties of my task have led me to offer even a sketch of the proceedings of the courts in which Mr. Wirt was so constantly engaged. Apart from the consideration, that any attempt to present such proceedings, even in a general narrative of them, to the reader, would but lead to a most tedious and uninteresting enlargement of these volumes, I should find still greater motive to avoid it in the fact, that no memorials exist of these proceedings, and especially of the participation of the counsel in them, beyond the skeleton notes and memoranda which constitute the lawyer's brief, or the yet more imperfect outline which is found in the reporter's analysis of the points of law which may have been discussed.
The fame of the greatest lawyers, so far as it is built up in the active labors of the forum, rests proverbially upon a most slippery basis. No man has yet earned a reputation that has outlived the generation who witnessed his triumphs, upon the mere faith of a reporter's notes. We have an indistinct rumor, an imperfect tradition of the glories of an old forensic renown, in some remembered name of the last century. We turn to the reports to find some picture of that rich and glowing mind which is said to have wrought effects almost miraculous upon the auditors of the courts in the past time, and to have swayed the mul