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We seek for them in vain in nature, and may therefore reasonably presume that thay spring out of the peculiar state of the public taste, without possessing any real foundation in the mind itself; that they are rather the fashion of the dress, than any essential part. In the natural world we find nothing which answers to them, or feels like them-but a happy assemblage of living objects springing up, not in strait lines and at a fixed distance, but in God's own order, which by its apparent want of design, conveys the impression of perfect innocence and humility. It is not for that which is human to be completely divested of the marks of art; but every approach towards this end, must be an approach towards perfection. The poet should be free and unshackled as the eagle; whose wings, as he soars in the air, seem merely to serve the of fice of a helm, while he moves on simply by the agency of the will.' p. 25.
True it is that every man has a right to his opinion and taste concerning rhyme. This we readily agree to. But why, in a treatise on the growth of the mind, it should come under such cruel censure, we can see no reason. And how the mind or the morals are to be benefited by the exclusion of rhyme from poetry, is to us incomprehensible. We confess ourselves partial to this kind of music; for music it certainly is. We wage no warfare against blank verse, or any other species of poetry; but we should regard the disuse of rhyme, as anything rather than an improvement. This however is not the place for a defence of it; nor was Mr Reed's pamphlet the place for an attack upon it. We introduced the passage, because we intended from the first to deal plainly with the writer, and with his whole performance; and to show how beauty in it was succeeded by defects, and defects were mingled and conjoined with beauty; to show how a singular acuteness was accompanied by a strange want of precision; how boldness fought in vain in the darkness, and usefulness was marred by mystery.
We should not have dwelt thus long and thus seriously on the "Observations,' if we had not considered it in some respects a performance of more than common merit, and had not entertained a sincere respect for the talents of its author. If we have indulged a little in remarks which were other than serious, it is not because we would cast a slight upon his opinions, but because we thought that some of them were inappropriately introduced, and enigmatically expressed. His love of nature, his unaffected piety, his high and manly sense of liberty, his confidence in hu
man progressiveness, and his longings after a higher and better state of the world than that which it now exhibits, are entirely delightful to us, and induce us to hope for some future production from his pen, in which we shall find more matter for admiration and less room for complaint.
ART. V.—Some Account of the Life, Writings, and Speeches of
MR WHEATON'S book had been long enough before the public to have required, perhaps, a notice in our last number. We were the less anxious about the delay, however, as its interest is not of a transitory sort, but allied with a great and abiding name. That of Pinkney must attract a curiosity, as permanent as the tradition of his eloquence, and as the juridical records in which it so often and conspicuously recurs.
Of a life so engrossed by strenuous intellectual labor, all students especially, in every department of knowledge, will be desirous to know something. They will be curious to learn, whether these extensive conquests in the domain of professional learning were accomplished by irregular and abrupt incursions, or by methodical and disciplined approaches; what influence they cast on his temper and habits; and innumerable minute particulars, which are interesting only from their connexion with genius. Many a doubting aspirer will seek, in the life of such a man, wherewithal to solve the question so often debated betwixt ease and glory, how far these trophies of learned fame are worth the cost of their acquisition. Readers of this description, and all, indeed, who love to observe conspicuous genius nearly and familiarly, complain that the present volume is by no means so abundant in those characteristic touches, from which we love to combine for ourselves the portrait of genius, as might have been expected from the celebrity of its subject, and his recent death. The life of the studious and the contemplative seldom furnishes, it is true, that variety of interest which arises out of one of action and business. But Mr Pinkney, they observed, was not merely a closet man. He was conspicuous, and the subject of
some obloquy, on the political theatre; he was long engaged in negotiations full of expectation and interest, which brought him into contact with some of the most distinguished men of the age; he travelled in famous and classical countries; and the results, too, of these advantages, and of his untiring application, were not read silently in books, but were heard in courts of justice, and in senates, where they may be supposed to have left vivid and various impressions on the auditors. Many anecdotes, they think, illustrative of the character formed, and of opinions gathered, during this busy course of action, must be floating among his contemporaries, which, had they been more industriously sought by his biographer, would have relieved the dry and documentary air of his book.
All this is very specious, but we are not sure that it is entirely just. The circumstance, that Mr Pinkney resided so long abroad, removed him from among his contemporaries at home; and his habits of life and thought were such, when in this country, as to bring him scarcely more under their close observation. But, besides this, who would think to measure the interest of a biography, by the importance of the part, which has been played by its hero? A Reynolds in this respect surpasses a Hume. Even where the theatre is the same, the parts equally serious and important, and the personages inseparably connected in the eyes of mankind, a Pitt shall leave scarce any traces of himself, but those which are engraved by the pen of history, while a Napoleon shall bequeath us the most ample and interesting of all the memoirs of men. Some accident of circumstance, but more often of character, determines this point beyond the control of the most gifted biographer. The title of Mr Wheaton's work is very unpretending. The work itself presents us, however, with some interesting fragments of the correspondence, writings, and speeches of a very remarkable man; and it is as wise, perhaps, to thank him for having collected and preserved what might otherwise have perished, as to amuse ourselves with disquisitions on what he might have done. We shall proceed therefore, from our author's volume and from a few inconsiderable gleanings of our own, to throw together some brief notices of the character of this celebrated jurist, in connexion with a hasty sketch of the principal events of his life.
William Pinkney was born at Annapolis, in Maryland, on the 17th of March, 1764. His father, whom he always spoke of as a man of firm temper, and of a strong and original cast of
mind, was an Englishman by birth, and took the part of the parent country during the revolution. The boyish ardor, or wilfulness, of young Pinkney was pleased with the adoption of opposite sentiments; and one of the freaks of his patriotism was to escape from the vigilance of his parent, and mount night guard with the soldiers at the fort in Annapolis. He retained, to the end of his life, a strong partiality for his native town, and took a pleasure in pointing out to his intimates, especially the young, the scenes of his childsh toils and sports. His early education was imperfect; but this was less owing to the narrow circumstances of his father, who spared no pains for his son, than to the disturbed state of the times. His private teacher, Brathand, left the country on this latter account; and the affection, which his pupil always continued to entertain for him, was warmly reciprocated by the preceptor, who, after the lapse of several years, expressed the greatest pleasure at meeting in England an acquaintance of Pinkney's, and was eager in his inquiries about him; one of my greatest regrets,' said he, 'in leaving America, was that I had to part from my promising pupil.'
They, who remember him at this period of life, describe him as already animated by that impatience of a superior, which characterized him at a later day, and which was, in some sort, both the strength and the weakness of his character. This temper was not confined to the rivalries of study, but extended to the rougher competitions of boyhood. One anecdote of the former he used to relate of himself, as a ruse which might be pardoned in a youth. There was a debating club in the town, of which Pinkney was a member. A question had been assigned for a certain evening, when all the polite company of the place was expected to attend; and our orator repaired early one morning to a secluded place in the vicinity, to prepare himself in solitude, against the coming occasion. His antagonist in the debate, who was also his chief competitor in the club, was there, however, before him; and our young aspirer took the benefit of some friendly skreen to overhear his declamation unobserved. result,' said he, 'was brilliant. In the evening my antagonist's speech, which was well enough seasoned with rhetoric, was received with acclamation. But when I came to make my extempore reply, which I had very earnestly prepared during the day, I was at home, as you may guess, on every point. The night was mine, and thenceforth I was king of the club.'
It was a like display of rare talents in another society of the
same kind, which determined him to seek his fortune at the bar; and, like Chancellor King, and the late Master of the Rolls in England, he was indebted to the notice and friendship of discerning genius, for this fortunate change in his views. At the time we speak of, he was a student of physic under Doctor Goodwin, then an extensive practitioner in Baltimore, and was one of a small debating society of students of medicine, at one of whose meetings the late Judge Chase of Maryland happened to be present. Struck with the genius, the musical voice, and the energetic manner of Pinkney, as yet a mere lad, and quite unknown to him, he earnestly advised him to the study of law, inviting him to Annapolis, and offering him the free use of his library, and whatever other aid he could afford him. Under this not least distinguished of the eminent lawyers who have been the boast of Maryland, Pinkney was deeply imbued with learning of the realty,' and in special pleading, that logic of the law, of which he afterwards became a master; and in 1786 he removed to Harford county, in his native state, to commence there the practice of his profession.
From this time he rose rapidly in public confidence and honors. He was chosen in 1788 a delegate from Harford to the state convention, which ratified the constitution of the United States; and, in the October of the same year, a member of the house of delegates. In 1790 he was elected to Congress; a station, which for professional reasons he declined; and he was several years a member of the executive council of Maryland. He was afterwards a delegate from Anne Arundel county, having removed to Annapolis, the county town, in 1792. He had married in 1789, the sister of Commodore Rodgers, a lady who still survives him. His professional assiduity continued, meantime, unabated; and while he held a distinguished rank in the councils of his native state, he rose gradually to the head of its bar. In his dress and personal habits, at this time, he was very wide of that niceness and minute precision, which, on his return from Europe, distinguished him, perhaps, to affectation. He indulged freely in the use of the sovereign weed,' and cultivated his popularity by mingling carelessly with his rustic constituents. At a later day he was very far from admitting society on the same easy terms, and punctiliously affected all the outward observances, which he conceived to belong to the manners of a gentleman, and to denote a perfect knowledge of high breeding.