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Pinkney shall have a biographer of genius, he will, by preserving the real echoes of his fame, do more for his immortality than Pinkney could have done for himself if he had preserved his speeches. His fame had a magnitude by refraction, which would have been impaired by the publication of his speeches. I have no doubt that Pinkney himself thought so. Had he not, he would have written out his speeches. He did, I have been told, begin to write out his speech in the great case of the Nereid-but abandoned it. Why? Not through indolence,-for, in every thing that could advance his fame, he was one of the most indefatigable men that ever lived. He abandoned it, doubtless, because he was himself disappointed in the effect when he saw it upon paper. The secret, I am persuaded, was that all his experiments convinced him of the difference of effect between a speech written and the same speech delivered.


How apt are we to forget this difference in making our estimate of Demosthenes and Cicero! We measure them only by the speeches they have left us, forgetting that the speech itself is scarcely the hundredth part of the power of the orator. Demosthenes himself, seems to have thought it no part, since he makes delivery every thing; and, we may suppose, entertained pretty much the same notion of a speech which Pope did of forms of government, that which is best administered is best."

"Nevertheless, if I could produce such speeches as those of Cicero and Demosthenes, I would willingly encounter the trouble! But they either wrote out their speeches a priori, or they had more leisure a posteriori, than I have. You may rely upon it, they were not engaged as I am in the county court practice of Baltitimore. I am convinced they had not as much business as I have even in the Supreme Court-to say nothing of my official business, my practice in the two courts at Baltimore, and in the Court of Appeals and the Chancery at Annapolis, with an occasional practice in Alexandria, &c. &c. If Cicero had had all this he could not have kept his exordia cut and dry, as he is said to have done,-to say nothing of writing out whole orations. By-the-bye, when did they write their orations? I have a notion that Demosthenes, after the example of Pericles, wrote his before hand, and Cicero generally after. In the case of Milo, we know that he wrote after. Pliny, the younger, says that he himself, used to write his own immedi

ately after delivery, while his mind was yet warm with the subject. Did Erskine write his, or were they written for him? By-the-way, they are most excellent, these speeches of Erskine's. I had occasion to read his defence of Hadfield when I was last in Baltimore. There is a power of discussion in it which greatly raised my opinion of him. Added to this intrinsic power of his speeches, the power of delivery ut supra,-he must have been a most puissant wight. But I am off from your proposition.

"As to writing off speeches,-can this be done, except as Pliny did it,-immediately after delivery? I doubt the practicability of doing it faithfully at any distance of time. It must be done whilst the mind is yet tossing with the storm, and before the waves have lost either their direction or magnitude. I delivered what I thought quite a respectable speech about a month ago, but I was obliged to follow it up immediately with a host of minor subjects, and thus all the impressions of the first were obliterated. I could sit down and write a speech on the same subject and in the same general current of argument-but this is all; and this is not worth while.

"There is sometimes a good deal of unfairness in this business of writing speeches. A man who has exposed himself to a palpable hit in an argument, and has received it, is apt to take care to withdraw the occasion in the speech which he prepares for publication, and thus give his adversary the appearance of having gone out of his way to give him an unprovoked thrust; or he will, in his prepared speech, alter the occurrence in some way so as to diminish the poignancy and felicity of the reply. In the 9th vol. of Wheaton you will see a faint illustration of this. When Emmett introduced his "Quæ regio," in the steamboat case, there was not the slightest allusion to the despondency of Æneas in the original. On the contrary, any one would have supposed, from the manner of the quotation, that Æneas had uttered it on some occasion of triumph. The contrast of the occasion was heard, for the first time, in the reply. But in the printed report you will see that he suggests that contrast. So, that even our good friend Emmett could not resist the temptation into which this business of writing out speeches is sometimes apt to lead us.

“After all, if I can find time and inclination this summer, I will try my hand as you propose-sed, multum quære de hoc-not, believe me, with any vain, silly expectation of being 'cited hereafter in disquisitions on the sublime and beautiful'—as you jocularly suggest, but for the gratification of such of my friends as may feel any curiosity about me.

"Think of becoming rich, having leisure, and writing!'To be sure I do. Why should I not? A hundred or two years of life'-you think and I might do all this.' Why, sir, how old do you take me to be? I ask but three score and ten of life and health to do it all. As to my being very rich-I have no wish for it. But I must feel that my death would leave my family independent, or I could not write with any heart. If I could secure this point, I know nothing that I should enjoy more than to tell posterity what I have seen and heard-though, possibly, as Voltaire said of Rousseau, my letter might not come to hand."

This brief dissertation upon the writing out of speeches, belongs to an age in literature which is passing way. The present generation scarcely realize the importance which seems to have been given, in past time, to this preservation of the orations of distinguished speakers. There is no branch of literature which is so surely destined to the back shelves of the library as this. There are very few orations of the forensic character, or even of the parliamentary, which possess sufficient interest to procure them to be incorporated in the literature of a nation. It may sometimes occur, indeed, that their relation to a great historical event, or their subserviency to the illustration of some great code or some attractive part of a code of public law, may give them a foothold sufficiently stable to preserve them as objects of value to posterity. Speeches in the elucidation of art or science, which thus partake of the character of lectures, some occasional portraitures of renowned men, some discourses on the policy of governments, may, from the value of the subject and the felicity with which it is treated, be brought into the category of things to be kept, multiplied and delivered to after generations. But such productions of mind derive no value from their having been spoken, and will no further be thought worthy of preservation

than as they may prove to be successful exhibitions of the power of good thinking and good writing. They will be appreciated, according to their deserts, as essays or treatises, not as speeches.

A speech written out, if reported in the actual language of the orator, is generally a verbose, redundant and overloaded discourse, glowing, it may be, with impassioned language, abounding in fervid thoughts, scattering flowers of wit and sentiment along its path, warming the imagination with brilliant figures, and charming with happy terms of expression; but it is, at the same time, as every one must feel, the language which has been on the lips of an actor, a thing that has been played; and it is rescued only from the judgment of a severe criticism, by the reflection that it may not fairly be subjected to that ordeal, whilst it is detached from the circumstances of time, place and occasion of its delivery and the adjuncts of the orator's voice, person and manner. To deal with it otherwise, would be as unfair as to pass judgment against a song without hearing the tune which has given it its chief popularity.

A speech, not written in the words in which it was pronounced, is no speech. It is a discourse upon the same subject, and will stand or fall upon its merits as a literary composition. No allowance is to be made, in such a case, for the faults or pruriencies, which escape censure, only, when it can be pleaded for them, that they are the inevitable overflow of a mind too vividly at work to restrain the abundance of its current. It will be measured by the standard which is applied to the productions of the closet, and whatsoever is merely oratorical in it will be regarded as an offensive superfluity. We relish a speech, whilst the occasion that has produced it is fresh upon our minds;-still more, if we are well acquainted with the orator and can picture to ourselves his gestures, tones of voice and expression of face. We are captivated by the glowing extravagances, even, of his expression, his quick and appropriate repartee, his detection of the dexterity and craft of his opponent, who had laid an ineffectual snare to entrap him. We see in all this the action of the play, and as long as we find an interest in the contemplation of these conditions and environments-to use a phrase which has recently come in vogue-of the speech and the orator, we take pleasure in it as a speech. But when these topics of interest fade away from it;-when the occa

sion is forgotten; the man no longer remembered, when the public has ceased to talk of it, and years have intervened,—how few speeches retain their raciness! In general, nothing is more dull, as matter for continuous reading, than a volume of orations. They are but monuments of labor, which, for the most part, serve no better purpose than to transmit a well engraved portrait of the orator to the next generation, with a heavy, but,—as the world is willing to allow,-authentic certificate of the great consideration and esteem in which the original was held amongst the men of his own times, how faithfully he toiled, how deeply he thought, and how much he said. Judicious readers are apt to lay aside such volumes with the reflection, that if the orator had employed the same labor in well written books, upon subjects wherein he was capable of giving instruction, his fame would, peradventure, have secured to itself a longer flight.


I have little now to offer in the way of biographical detail, during the present and the ensuing years-1825 and 1826,beyond what is supplied by the letters of Mr. Wirt, which, written principally to the members of his own household, deal with matters of trivial interest and personal concern, and which represent him under the amiable relations of domestic life, planning the education of his children, contributing to the happiness of the family circle by the unrestrained utterances of a mirthful temper, or occasionally giving expression to those sentiments of religion and piety which were taking deeper root in his heart and exercising the most benignant influence upon his character. may observe him at this period of his life under circumstances which are greatly calculated to enhance our estimate of the general success of his career. He was now in his fifty-fourth year. He had enlarged the sphere of his acquaintance with the world, its business, and its cares, and over its pleasant points of communion, almost to the widest verge which it attained during his life. Friends were multiplied, and honor, public applause, reverence, and the full contentment of useful labor, now greeted his advance to the confines of age and promised the delights of all worldly blessings upon the evening of his days. Softened rather than made proud by these dispensations of good, his mind was assuming a richer tint from that mild and mellow radiance which a sensibility to religious convictions imparts to a thoughtful nature. VOL. 2-18

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