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put aside, and in the hurry-scurry in which we are now passing our time, forgotten until accident brought it to my view a few moments ago.

I would not have you believe me capable of neglecting for a moment so kind a letter from so beloved a friend-nor that I am affecting Lord Bolingbroke's sentiment, that "in my prosperity my friends shall always hear of me; in my adversity, never.”— In truth, I feel no adversity-no diminution of prosperity, no depression of spirits, mind, body or estate; on the contrary, I feel that a barren mountain is about to be taken from my breast in this oppressive office,-barren of every thing but the mere honor, of which I have had enough, and which, thank God, I have not tarnished.

Pinkney and Emmet both died "with harness on their backs,❞— and if I were to continue to bear the conjoint burthen of duties of Attorney General and private practitioner, I should probably do the same. I am, therefore, greatly relieved by getting rid of onehalf of the burthen, and trust confidently that I shall be able to carry the residue with more glory than ever, and without sinking under it. In the martial exercises of Greece and Rome, you know, they carried heavier armor than it was necessary for them to bear in actual war, that the latter might seem, and in fact be, comparatively light. So I hope I shall find it.


My wife, on a full view of the whole ground, gives the preference to Baltimore. She is delighted to get away from the threatening storm and from the new association here-and my children are all reconciled to it. I have, thank God, a happy, innocent and most affectionate family, and I have every prospect in a few years of placing them in independent if not affluent circumstances. I am bright and buoyant with hope, and shall meet the spring of the year with all its own appropriate gaiety and cheerfulness. As Erskine said, when they turned him out of the office of Chancellor, "I am much obliged to them, for they have given me, in exchange for a dog's life, that of a gentleman." I have greater confidence in that God who has never forsaken me, even in those headlong moments of my life when I have forgotten myself;—and in addition to this, with so much on earth to cheer and support me, such a family, such friends, I should be a poor wretch, indeed,

to despond. God willing, you shall hear of me in time to come to my advantage.

But you must continue to write to me.--For three and thirty years your letters have had more influence on me than those of any other man. Your conversation, your letters, your friendship, your encouragement, have always acted on me like charms. I confess that I am constitutionally weak enough to require to be told by my friends that they approve my course. I am dog or cat enough to love them to pat me on the head, and call me a fine fellow. I have been used to this sort of petting, and it is sweet and cheering to me. I believe that if they were all to quarrel with me, and break off from me without cause, (and I will take care that it shall be without cause if such a calamity shall ever befal me,) I have pride and manhood enough to bear me up with a high head; but I should much prefer not to be put to the proof—and you, I am sure, are not the man who will ever forsake me. "We clomb the hill thegither"—and we now totter down, and will sleep thegither at the foot, John Anderson my Jo.”


This is the last letter I shall ever frank to you as Attorney General. We hope to be established in Baltimore in April or May at the farthest. Heaven bless and prosper you!

Your true and ever devoted friend,



WASHINGTON, March 22, 1829.

It was my intention, my dear friend, to write to you by Mr. Archer, but I was so much pressed by the Supreme Court, about the time of the rising of Congress, that I could not find a moment for friendship.

My health was nearly broken down at the commencement of the court, for it followed immediately on a long and hard campaign which I had in Baltimore, and the double duty of preparing both for my public and private causes. A short respite restored

and some of the hardest forensic battles I ever fought, have been since my recovery. I am now as well as ever, and buoyant with even youthful hope and expectation.

The office I have held for the last twelve years, I have filled without discredit to my country or myself I hope with some honor to both. I leave it without a single reproach even from my enemies-if I have any,-and with the respect, I might say the affection, of the Supreme Court.

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The General, I fear, is in the hands of two or three most miserable advisers :—private and not official advisers, I mean. Some of his appointments for the cabinet have astounded the more enlightened part of his political supporters.* One of them has been heard to say "this is the Millenium of Minnows." McL. of Delaware is reported to have declared that his political life was closed-that he should resign his seat in the Senate;John Randolph, that he should throw up his commission in the line. I see that he has since declined a re-election.


It is matter of relief both to my family and myself to get away from such a scene of contention and confusion. I shall feel prouder and happier in the rank of a private gentleman than I have done here for the last four years. The more I see of public life the more sick I become of it, and the more deeply I am convinced that all is vanity and vexation of spirit beyond the happy domestic and social circle. I am blessed in my family, blessed in my friends: I have a well-founded hope of leaving those who are immediately dependent on me provided against want, and of dying, as I have lived, esteemed and beloved by those whose esteem and love I prize above all earthly possessions.

I shall have a busy summer, for I have to argue a cause in Boston, about the twentieth of June, and must hurry back to the Court of Appeals in Maryland. I am not likely to rust from inactivity.

* Without designing to cast an injurious reflection upon any member of that cabinet, I am enabled to make, at least, one exception from the partial disparagement implied in the text, by the following extract from a letter of Mr. Wirt's, written to a friend a short time before the organization of the cabinet-in which he says, in speaking of his prospects of future practice in the Supreme Court,—“ As to the Supreme Court, if Jackson appoints a splendid fellow for Attorney General—Mr. Berrien, for example-he will diminish the attraction of that court very much by taking away a great part of the bone of contention."

How comes on Montpelier?-Have you any fun afloat? How does time sit on you? Lightly, I hope, as ever. Old age could scarcely be said to have reached you when I saw you last-for your life has been perpetual youth, like the constant spring of the tropics, fruits and flowers flourishing on the same tree in endless succession.

Thirty-one years, man and boy, have we known each other,and I have seen in you no variation nor shadow of turning. Time and death seem to be disarmed by your kind and cheerful heart, and are reluctant to spoil your sport. May you flourish in immortal youth, "unhurt amidst the war of elements, the wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds!"

Virginia will ever be dear to my heart,-settle and die where I may. I love the State and the people. Men are there far dearer to me than any others I can ever know. They are such as I shall not encounter again on this side of heaven. It is not choice, but fortune, that separates me from the State.

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But life, my dear friend, will soon be over with us both, and we shall have to try another scene of things. not darken at it, for God is merciful,-and follies, not crimes.

Yet, my spirit does my sins have been

Your friend,


Mr. Wirt was now about to test his professional reputation upon a new and distinguished theatre. In his letter to Mr. Pope he announces, as we have seen, that he was engaged to try a cause in Boston, in June. He was not altogether unused to appear before tribunals out of the range of his ordinary practice. In the years 1826, '27 and '28, he had been employed by the Government to aid in the argument of some important causes in Philadelphia, which had acquired celebrity throughout the country from the magnitude of the interests involved, as well as from the extraordinary character of the facts. The profession will remember them, when I say that they grew out of a seizure, by the Government, of VOL. 2-23*

a cargo of teas alleged to have been irregularly imported. The Attorney General took a leading part in these trials, and won for himself new forensic honors, in the estimation of the astute and intelligent bar in whose forum the cases had been disposed of. He had occasion to allude to this in a letter to his friend Pope. Speaking of the unfavorable impression which had been raised against his professional character by the publication of his few literary works, and alluding particularly to the British Spy and the Old Bachelor as "recreations, written merely for the newspapers, in which they were first published," he said:" They have certainly contributed to impair my reputation for strength of mind, and to fix on me the character of a flowery declaimer. In Philadelphia," he added—“ the lawyers made no bones of telling me that they expected only a siren song, and had heard a powerful argument. It was the same thing in Baltimore, when I first came here; and so it was in Washington. So that I brought a bad forensic character with me, and I have been struggling, ever since, to overcome it by giving up rhetoric and sticking to logic and to law. I have reason to believe that I have succeeded, wherever I have appeared, in bettering my character somewhat as a reasoner and a lawyer."

He was now to bring the opinion, expressed in this extract, to the ordeal of a rigorous criticism in a distant court, where, it may be believed, the professional judgment was not likely to be swayed by personal favor-nor yet rendered unduly severe by foregone prejudices. Where, in fact, the lawyer would be very likely to be measured by his merits.

The Boston case in which he was employed was that of Henry Farnum, administrator, de bonis non, of Tuthill Hubbart, against Peter C. Brooks. It was a case upon a bill in equity, brought before the Judges of the Supreme Court of the State, involving an investigation of a long train of accounts, and as little likely, perhaps, to enlist interest beyond that of the parties immediately concerned in the issue, as any case on the docket. Mr. Wirt was employed for the plaintiff, assisted by Messrs. Nicols and Rand. The opposing counsel was Mr. Webster, with Messrs. Warner and Gorham for his colleagues.

This is an outside view of the field of battle and of the array of the parties.

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