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his life, to his other legal attainments, an extensive acquaintance with the principles of international law, and the practice of the Prize Courts. In his legal studies he preferred the original text writers and reporters, (è fontibus hauriri,) to all those abridgments, digests, and elementary treatises, which lend so many convenient helps and facilities to the modern lawyer, but which he considered as adapted to form sciolists, and to encourage indolence and superficial habits of investigation. His favorite law book was the Coke Littleton, which he had read many times. Its principal texts he had treasured up in his memory, and his arguments at the bar abounded with perpetual recurrences to the principles and analogies drawn frrom this rich mine of common law learning.' pp. 176, 183.
He was, indeed, a wonderful legal logician. As an orator it is a more delicate task to estimate his pretensions. On this point he was eminently ambitious; the more so, perhaps, as he might consider it less certain. In the parliament and courts of Great Britain, the last then adorned by Sir William Scott and Lord Erskine, he found a style of oratory more classical and embellished than was usual at the bar of America; and, if we may trust tradition, his study of that model impaired both the fire and the ease of his natural rhetoric. Mr Wheaton tells us, that he always continued to declaim in private, and that it was his habit to premeditate, not only the general order of his speeches, and the topics of illustration, but the rhetorical embellishments; which last he sometimes wrote out beforehand. We have been informed by one well acquainted with his habits, that he seldom or never wrote any part of his speeches. But the discrepancy may be reconciled by remembering, that the premeditated compositions of so trained a mind would be little the less perfect, in not being committed to paper. But, though his law papers might have been drawn up with much care,' and might have 'exhausted the subjects committed to his consideration, it does not appear that they, or any of his written productions, cost him much effort. On the contrary he composed with great rapidity, writing his letters, diplomatic papers and opinions extremely fast, and with so heavy a hand as to cut constantly through the paper.
It was only after his return from his second mission to England, that we had the opportunity of witnessing ourselves any of his forensic displays. His manner, at that time, was certainly very peculiar; but, to our apprehension, it seemed not so much tinged with foreign imitations, as by his own peculiarities of mind
and taste. It was apparently studied to the minutest action; and we know that he practised much before the mirror. The defects of his manner may be imputed, therefore, to a vicious taste; for no man seemed to enjoy more self-possession, and few, a greater facility of reaching what he intended. At the beginning, he spoke in low and indistinct murmurs, as if he were conjuring up the spirit of his elocution by muttered incantations. During this period his action was constrained, and there was a show of timidity, which notwithstanding his usual confidence, was sometimes unaffected. In some of his latest efforts at the bar, where the occasion had drawn public expectation towards him, his lips have been seen to part with their color, his cheeks to turn pale, and his knees to shake. He has often said, that he never addressed an audience without some painful and embarrassing emotions in the beginning. As he advanced, these boyish tremors disappeared; he became bold, erect, and dictatorial; his voice swelled from its low notes, which were extremely musical, always parting with its charm as it rose; though his high notes were rather inarticulate and imperfect than harsh. He spoke with great vehemence, rushing from thought to thought with a sort of ferocity; his eye fiery, his nostrils distended, and his lips covered with froth, which he would wipe away. His gesture was quite as peculiar. His right arm was not brandished in the usual manner, but brought in frequent sweeps along his side; his right foot advanced, and his body alternately thrown back, as if about to spring, and heaved forward again, as if in act to strike down his adversary; big drops of sweat all the while coursing along their channels from his forehead. This 'heat and tempest of his passion,' he would sustain through periods, that might have mastered the sturdiest frames. The impression, which this violence made on his auditory, was of course, not always advantageous to the orator. It was too much the habit of his manner, to gain the credit of being excited by his subject, and threw over his best efforts a frigidness, which was not diminished by the circumstance, that he never seemed so lost in the current of his thought, as to forget altogether the eagerness of display. He never pressed so earnestly to his goal, as not to be turned aside by the golden glitter of an ornament. He became sensible to the vices of his elocution at a later day, and in some of his speeches avoided those of his manner almost entirely. His success in this reform, at an age when most men find their habits too rigid for change, proves how much he could fashion himself to his own taste.
With all these faults of manner, it were rash and unjust to deny, that Mr Pinkney was an orator. Neither the wit, nor the thought, nor the harmony of Pope, has, in the opinion of some critics, enrolled him among poets, because he wanted the invention and the passion of his art. In the same qualified sense we might, perhaps, deny to this great champion of the bar the prize of oratory, which he so earnestly contended for, and to which he brought so many important pretensions, extent of learning, compass of thought, a forcible logic, felicity of illustration, and a correct and polished diction. To some, who remember the vehemence of manner which we have described, and the ambitiousness of his illustration, it may seem a strange heresy to deny him the praise of true fervor and rich invention; yet, as his warmth appeared to us to be that of the rhetorician, so his figures seemed cold, and rather embroidered on the web of his discourse, than woven into it. Nor do we impute this, we acknowledge, to the affectation of a model, but to an original deficiency of some of the qualities neccessary to eloquence, and, among the rest, that undefinable power of enchaining the sympathy of the hearers. His ambition of display sometimes weakened the force of his argument, engaged him in the pursuit of too remote analogies, and retarded his approach to the point, at which he aimed. Even his diction, admirable as it was, cannot be entirely commended; wearing often the air of too much elaboration, and being sometimes disfigured by affectations; so that this vehicle of his thought did not always move easily along, from the number and quaintness of its ornaments. His hits, if we may be allowed the word, were sometimes felicitous and witty, but they often ended in a cold conceit, and were not always edged with courtesy. Yet no man could hear him for an hour, without owning, that he was a noble genius and an elegant scholar; and the instances were very rare, in which any person, who had listened to him once, however much he might be dissatified with his manner and peculiarities, would not return with renewed delight to witness his successive efforts. To the time of his last public appearance in Washington, the court room was always thronged with the wise, the learned, the fashionable, when it was known that he was to speak; and he uniformly riveted the attention of his auditors, through the technical details of his longest and dryest arguments. The combined causes of this charm we shall not attempt to analyze; they may all be ultimately traced to the workings of an intellect, powerful in its original gifts, adornVOL. XXIV.No. 54.
ed by culture, and enriched with acquisitions gained by a life of studious toil and active experiment.
We insert the following passages from a pamphlet, published by him under the signature of Publius, after the commencement of the late war, and in defence of its policy, as among the best specimens of the style of his written compositions.
Nothing is more to be esteemed than peace," (I quote the wisdom of Polybius,) "when it leaves us in possession of our honor and rights; but when it is joined with loss of freedom, or with infamy, nothing can be more detestable and fatal." I speak with just confidence, when I say that no federalist can be found who desires with more sincerity the return of peace than the republican government, by which the war was declared. But it desires such a peace as the companion and instructer of Scipio has praised; a peace consistent with our rights and honor, and not the deadly tranquillity which may be purchased by disgrace, or taken in barter for the dearest and most essential claims of our trade and sovereignty. I appeal to you boldly; are you prepared to purchase a mere cessation of arms by unqualified submission to the pretensions of England? Are you prepared to sanction them by treaty and to entail them upon your posterity, with the inglorious and timid hope of escaping the wrath of those whom your fathers discomfited and vanquished? Are you prepared for the sake of a present profit, which the circumstances of Europe must render paltry and precarious, to cripple the strong wing of American commerce for years to come, to take from our flag its national effect and character, and to subject our vessels on the high seas, and the brave men who navigate them, to the municipal jurisdiction of Great Britain? I know very well that there are some amongst us (I hope they are but few), who are prepared for all this and more; who pule over every scratch occasioned by the war, as if it were an overwhelming calamity, and are only sorry that it is not worse; who would skulk out of a contest for the best interests of their country to save a shilling or gain a cent; who, having inherited the wealth of their ancestors without their spirit, would receive laws from London with as much facility as woollens from Yorkshire, or hardware from Sheffield. But I write to the great body of the people, who are sound and virtuous, and worthy of the legacy which the heroes of the revolution have bequeathed them. For them, I undertake to answer, that the only peace which they can be made to endure, is that which may twine itself round the honor of the people, and with its healthy and abundant foliage give shade and shelter to the prosperity of the empire.'
'As the war was forced upon us by a long series of unexampled
aggressions, it would be absolute madness to doubt, that peace will receive a cordial welcome, if she returns without ignominy in her train, and with security in her hand. The destinies of America are commercial, and her true policy is peace; but the substance of peace had, long before we were roused to a tardy resistance, been denied to us by the ministry of England; and the shadow, which had been left to mock our hopes and to delude our imaginations, resembled too much the frowning spectre of war to deceive any body. Every sea had witnessed, and continued to witness, the systematic persecution of our trade and the unrelenting oppression of our people. The ocean had ceased to be the safe highway of the neutral world; and our citizens traversed it with all the fears of a benighted traveller, who trembles along a road beset with banditti, or infested by the beasts of the forest. The government, thus urged and goaded, drew the sword with a visible reluctance; and, true to the pacific policy which kept it so long in the scabbard, it will sheathe it again, when Great Britian shall consult her own interest, by consenting to forbear in future the wrongs of the past.
The disposition of the government upon that point has been decidedly pronounced by facts which need no commentary. From the moment when war was declared, peace has been sought by it with a steady and unwearied assiduity, at the same time, that every practicable preparation has been made, and every nerve exerted to prosecute the war with vigor, if the enemy should persist in his injustice. The law respecting seamen, the Russian mission, the instructions sent to our Chargé d'Affaires in London, the prompt and explicit disavowal of every unreasonable pretension falsely ascribed to us, and the solemn declarations of the government in the face of the world, that it wishes for nothing more than a fair and honorable accommodation, would be conclusive
proofs of this, if any proofs were necessary. But it does not require to be proved, because it is self evident. What interest, in the name of common sense, can the government have (distinctly from that of the whole nation) in a war with Great Britain? It is obvious to the meanest capacity, that such a war must be accompanied by privations, of which no government would hazard the consequences, but upon the suggestions of an heroic patriotism. The President and his supporters have never been ignorant that those who suffer by a war, however unavoidable, are apt rather to murmur against the government than against the enemy, and that while it presses upon us, we sometimes forget the compulsion under which it was commenced, and regret that it was not avoided with a provident foresight of its evils.
'It will, therefore, be no easy matter to persuade you that this