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said, “All, all is vanity and vexation of spirit, except religion, friendship, and literature." He removed to Baltimore and resumed the practice of law. He was a man of fine

appearance and charming social graces. It is related that on one occasion he kept a party of friends up all night long, to their utter astonishment, merely by the powers of his delightful conversation. See “Memoirs of Wirt" by Kennedy.


Letters of the British Spy.
Rainbow, (essays).
Life of Patrick Henry.

Old Bachelor, (a series of essays by a group of friends, Wirt, Dabney Carr, George Tucker, and others).

Wirt's style both in writing and speaking has been often and justly praised for its grace, culture, and luxuriance.

His “British Spy” is composed of ten letters supposed to be left at an inn by a spy, giving opinions on various things and an account especially of public men and orators that he has met in his travels in America. These letters are esteemed Wirt's best literary work, although his “Life of Patrick Henry” is perhaps better known on account of its subject.


(From The British Spy.) It was one Sunday, as I travelled through the county of Orange, [Virginia], that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous, old, wooden house in the forest, not far from the roadside. Having frequently seen such objects before, in travelling through those States, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship.

* James Waddell, it is said, was a relative of the celebrated teacher, Dr. Moses Waddell, of Georgia, president of the State University, 1819-29.

Devotion alone should have stopped me, to join in the duties of the congregation; but I must confess that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness, was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man; his head which was covered with a white linen cap, his shrivelled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the influence of a palsy ; and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.

The first emotions that touched my breast were those of mingled pity and veneration. But how soon were all my feelings changed ! The lips of Plato were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees, than were the lips of this holy man! It was a day of the administration of the sacrament; and his subject was, of course, the passion of our Saviour. I have heard the subject hardled a thousand times; I had thought it exhausted long ago.

Little did I that in the wild woods of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos than I had ever before witnessed.

As he descended from the pulpit to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human solemnity in his air and manner, which made my blood run cold, and my whole frame shiver.

He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour; his trial before Pilate ; his ascent up Calvary ; his crucifixion; and his death. I knew the whole history ; but never until then had i heard the circumstances so seiected, so arranged, so colored ! It was all new; and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in


life. His enunciation was so deliberate that his voice trembled on every syllable; and every heart in the assembiy trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases had the force of description, that the original


scene appeared to be at that moment acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews; the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage. We saw the buffet; my soul kindled with a flame of indignation ; and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clinched.

But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness of our Saviour; when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,"—the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter and fainter, until, his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The effect is inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.

It was some time before the tumult had subsided, so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But-no: the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic.

The first sentence, with which he broke the awful silence, was a quotation from Rousseau : “ Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ, like a God!"

I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis

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in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher; dis blindness, constantly recalling to your recollection old Homer, Ossian, and Milton, and associating with his performance the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses; you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, wellaccented enunciation, and his voice of affecting trembling melody ; you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised; and then the few moments of portentous, deathlike silence which reigned throughout the house; the preacher removing his white handkerchief from his aged face, (even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears), and slowly stretching forth the paisied hand which holds it, begins the sentence, “ Socrates died like a philosopher,”—then, pausing, raising his other hand, pressing them both, clasped together, with warmth and energy; to his breast, lifting his “sightless balls” to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice—“but Jesus Christ—like a God!” If it had indeed and in truth been an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.


(From Life of Patrick Henry.) Hook was a Scotchman, a man of wealth, and suspected of being unfriendly to the American cause. During the distresses of the American army, consequent upon the joint invasion of Cornwallis and Phillips in 1781, a Mr. Venable, an army commissary, had taken two of Hook's steers for the use of the troops. The act had not been strictly legal ; and on the establishment of peace, Hook, under the advice of Mr. Cowan, a gentleman of some distinction in the law, thought proper to bring an action of trespass against Mr. Venable, in the district court of New London. Mr. Henry appeared for the defendant, and is said to have disported himself in this cause to the infinite enjoyment of his hearers, the unfortunate Hook always excepted. After Mr. Henry became animated in the cause, says a correspondent [Judge Stuart], he appeared to have complete control over the passions of his audience : at one time he excited their indignation against Hook : vengeance was visible in every countenance; again, when he chose to relax and ridicule him, the whole audience was in a roar of laughter. He painted the distresses of the American army, exposed almost naked to the rigour of a winter's sky, and marking the frozen ground over which they marched, with the blood of their unshod feet—" where was the man,” he said, “ who had an American heart in his bosom, who would not have thrown open his fields, his barns, his cellar, the doors of his house, the portals of his breast, to have received with open arms, the meanest soldier in that little band of patriots? Where is the man? There he stands—buś whether the heart of an American beats in his bosom, you, gentlemen, are to judge.” He then carried the jury, by the powers of his imagination, to the plains around York, the surrender of which had followed shortly after the act complained of: he depicted the surrender in the most glowing and noble colors of his eloquence—the audience saw before their eyes the humiliation and dejection of the British, as they marched out of their trenches—they saw the triumph which lighted up every patriot face, and heard the shouts of victory, and the cry of “Washington and Liberty!", as it rung and echoed through the American ranks, and was reverberated from the hills and shores of the neighboring river—" but, hark!, what notes of discord are these which disturb the

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