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vated imaginations; of more deep and accurate research ; and of more various and finished learning. But if the capacity to examine a question by the most comprehensive analysis; to subject all its relations to the test of the most subtle logic; and to exbibit them in perfect transparency to the minds of others ; — is the capacity to detect, with an unerring judgment, the weak points of an aryument, and to strip off every veil from sophistry or error; — if the capacity to seize, as it were by intuition, the learning and arguments of others, and instantaneously to fashion them to his own purposes ; - if, I say, these constitute some of the highest prerogatives of genius, it will be difficult to find many rivals, or superiors to Mr. Dexter. In the sifting and comparison of evidence, and in moulding its heterogeneous materials into one consistent mass, the bar and the bench have pronounced him almost inimitable.
His eloquence was altogether of an original cast. It had not the magnificent coloring of Burke, nor the impetuous flow of Chatham. It moved along in majestic simplicity, like a miglty stream, quickeping and fertilizing everything in its course. He persuaded, without seeming to use the arts of persuasion; and convinced, without condescending to solicit conviction. No man was ever more exempt from finesse or cunning in addressing a jury. He disdained the little arts of sophistry or popular appeal. It was, in his judgment, something more degrading than the sight of Achilles playing with a lady's distaff. It was surrendering the integrity, as well as honor, of the bar. His conduct afforded, in these particulars, an excellent example for young counsellors, which it would be well for them to imitate, even though they should follow in his path with unequal footsteps.
His studies were not altogether of a professional nature. He devoted much time to the evidences and doctrines of Christianity ; and his faith in its truths was fixed after the most elaborate inquiries. That he was most catholic and liberal in his views, is known to us all; but, except to his intimate friends, it is little known, how solicitous he was to sustain the credibility of the Christian system; and how ingenuous and able were his expositions of its doctrines.
As a statesman, it is impossible to regard his enlightened policy and principles without reverence.
He had no foreign partialities, or prejudices, to indulge, or gratify. All his affections centred in his country; all his wishes were for its glory, independence, and prosperity. The steady friend of the constitution of the United States, he was, in the purest and most appropriate sense of the
terms, a patriot and a republican. He considered the union of the States, as the polestar of our liberties; and, whatever might be bis opinion of any measures, he never breathed a doubt, to shake public or private confidence in the excellence of the constitution itself. When others sank into despondency at the gloomy aspect of public affairs, and seemed almost ready to resign their belief in republican institutions, be remained their inflexible advocate. He was neither dismayed by the intemperance of parties, nor by the indiscretion of rulers. He believed in the redeenuing power of a free constitution ; and that, though the people might sometimes be deceived, to their intelligence and virtue we might safely trust, to equalize all the eccentricities and perturbations of the political system. He had the singular fortune, at different times, 10 be the favorite of different parties, occupying in each the same elevation. It is not my purpose to examine, or vindicate bis conduct in either of these situations. I feel, indeed, that I am already treading upon ashes thinly strewed over living embers. The present is not the time for an impartial estimate of his political conduct. That duty belonys, and may be safely left, to posterity. Without pretending to anticipate their award, we may with some confidence affirm, that the fame of Mr. Dexter bas little to fear from the most rigid scrutiny. While he lived, he might be claimed with pride by any party ; but now that he is dead, he belongs to his country.
To conclude; Mr. Dexter was a man of such rare endowments, that, in whatever age or nation he had lived, he would have been in the first rank of professional eminence. It is unfortunate, that he has lest no written record of himself. The only monument of his fame rests in the frail recollections of memory, and can reach future ages only through the indistinctness of tradition or history. His glowing thoughts, his brilliant periods, and his profound reasoninys, have perished for ever. They have passed away, like a dream, or a shadow. He is gathered to his fathers ; and his lips are closed in the silence of death.
I rejoice to have lived in the same age with him; and to have been permitted to hear his eloquence, and to be instructed by his wisdom. I mourn, that my country bas lost a patriot without fear or reproach. The glory, that has settled on bis tomb, will not be easily obscured; and if it shall grow dim in the lapse of time, I trust, that some faithful bistorian will preserve the character of bis mind in pages, that can perish only with the language, in which they are written.
OF THE HON. JOHN MARSHALL, LL. P., CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME
COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.
(First published in the National Portrait Gallery, 1833.]
John Marshall, (the present Chief Justice of the United States,) was born in Fauquier county, in the state of Virginia, on the 24th of September, 1755. His father was Thomas Marshall, of the same state ; who served with great distinction in the revolutionary war, as a colonel in the line of the continental army. Colonel Marshall was a planter, of a very small fortune, and had received but a narrow education. These deficiencies, however, were amply supplied by the gifts of nature. His talents were of a high order, and he cultivated them with great diligence and perseverance; so that he maintained, throughout his whole life, among associates of no mean character, the reputation of being a man of extraordinary ability. No better proof need be adduced, to justify this opinion, than the fact, that be possessed the unbounded confidence, admiration, and reverence of all his children, at the period of life, when they were fully able to appreciate his worth, and compare him with other men of known eminence. There are those yet living, who have often listened with delight to the praises bestowed on him by filial affection ; and have heard the declaration, emphatically repeated from the lips of one of his most gisted sons, that his father was an abler man than any of his children. Such praise from such a source is beyond measure precious. It warms,
while it elevates. It is a tribute of gratitude to the menory
of a parent, after de has put the last seal upon his character, and at a distance of time, when sorrow has ceased its utterance, and left behind it the power calmly to contemplate his excellence.
Colonel Marshall had fifteen children, seven of whom are now living; and it has long been a matter of public fame, that all the children, females as well as males, possessed superior intellectual endowments. John was the eldest child ;
of course, the first to engage the solicitude of his father. In the local position of the family, at that time alınost upon the frontier settlements of the country, (for Fauquier was a frontier county,) it was of course, that the early education of all the children should devolve upon its head. Colonel Marsball superintended the studies of bis eldest son, and gave him a decided taste for English literature, and especially for history and poetry. At the age of twelve he had transcribed Pope's Essay on Man, and also some of his moral essays. The love of poetry, thus awakened in his warm and vigorous mind, never ceased to exert a commanding influence over it. He became enamoured of the classical writers of the old school, and was instructed by their solid sense and their beautiful imagery. In the enthusiasm of youth, he osten indulged himself in poetical compositions; and freely gave up his hours of leisure to those delicious dreamings of the muse, which (say, what we may) constitute some of the purest sources of pleasure in the gay scenes of life, and some of the sweetest consolations in adversity and affliction, throughout every subsequent period of it. It is well known, that he has continued to cultivate this favorite study, and to read with intense interest the yay, as well as the loftier, productions of the divine art. One of the best recommendations of the taste for poetry in early life is, that it does not die with youth ; but affords to maturer years an invigorating energy, and to old age a serene and welcome employment, always within reach, and always coming with a fresh charm. Its gentle influence is then like that so happily treated by Gray. The lover of the muses may truly say,
“ I feel the gales, that round ye blow,
To breathe a second spring.” The contrast, indeed, is somewhat striking between that close reasoning, which almost iejects the aid of ornament, in the juridical labors of the Chief Justice, and that generous taste, which devotes itself with equal delight to the works of fiction and song. Yet the union has been far less uncommon than slight observers are apt to imagine. Lord Hardwicke and Lord Mansfield had an ardent
thirst for general literature, and each of them was a cultivator, if not a devotee, of the lighter productions of the imagination.
There being at that time no grammar-school in the part of the country, where Colonel Marshall resided, his son was sent, at the age of fourteen, about a hundred miles from home, and placed under the tuition of a Mr. Campbell, a clergyman of great respectability. He remained with him a year, and then returned home, and was put under the care of a Scotch gentleman, who was just introduced into the parish, as pastor, and resided in his father's family. He pursued his classical studies under this gentleman's direction, while he remained in the family, which was about a year; and at the termination of it, he had commenced reading Horace and Livy. His subsequent mastery of the classics was the result of his own efforts, without any other aid than his gramınar and dictionary. He never had the benefit of an education at any college, and his attainments in learning have been nursed by the solitary vigils of his own genius. His father, however, continued to superintend his English education, to cherish his love of knowledge, to give a solid cast to his acquirements, and to store his mind with the most valuable materials. He was not merely a watchful parent, but an instructive and affectionate friend; and soon became the most constant, as he was at the time almost the only intelligent, companion of his son. The time, not devoted to his society, was passed in hardy, athletic exercises, and probably to this circumstance is owing that robust constitution, which yet seems fresh and firm in a green old age.
About the time when young Marshall entered his eighteenth year, the controversy between Great Britain and her Arnerican colonies began to assume a portentous aspect; and engaged, and indeed absorbed, the attention of all the colonists, whether they were young, or old, in private and secluded life, or in political and public bodies. He entered into it with all the zeal and enthusiasm of a youth, full of love for his country and liberty, and deeply sensible of its rights and its wrongs. He devoted much time to acquiring the first rudiments of military exercise, in a voluntary, independent company, composed of gentlemen of the county; to training a militia company in the neighbourhood ; and to reading the political essays of the day. For these animating pursuits, the preludes of public resistance, he was quite content to relinquish the classics, and the less inviting, but, with reference to his future destiny, the more profitable, Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone.