Page images
PDF
EPUB

general joy, and silence the acclamations of victory? They are the notes of John Hook, hoarsely bawling through the American camp, beef! beef! beef!

The whole audience was convulsed : a particular incident will give a better idea of the effect, than any general description. The clerk of the court, unable to command himself, and unwilling to commit any breach of decorum in his place, rushed out of the court-house, and threw himself on the grass, in the most violent paroxysm of laughter, where he was rolling, when Hook, with very different feelings, came out for relief into the yard also. “Jemmy Steptoe,” said he to the clerk, “what the devil ails ye, mon?” Mr. Steptoe was only able to say, that he could not help it. “Never mind ye,” said Hook," wait till Billy Cowan gets up : he'll show him the la’.” Mr. Cowan, however, was so completely overwhelmed by the torrent which bore upon his client, that when he rose to reply to Mr. Henry, he was scarcely able to make an intelligible or audible remark. The cause was decided almost by acclamation. The jury retired for form's sake, and instantly returned with a verdict for the defendant. Nor did the effect of Mr. Henry's speech stop here. The people were so highly excited by the tory audacity of such a suit, that Hook began to hear around him a cry more terrible than that of beef; it was the

cry tar and feathers: from the application of which, it is said, that nothing saved him but a precipitate flight and the speed of his horse.

of

JOHN RANDOLPH.

1773-1833.

JOHN RANDOLPH of Roanoke, was born at Cawson's, Virginia, being a descendant of Pocahontas in the seventh generation. He lost his father early in life. His beautiful mother, to whom he was devotedly attached, afterwards married St. George Tucker, who happily was a true father to her children and educated John himself. Her death in 1788 was a life-long distress to her gifted son.

He was a prominent actor in all the stirring political life of the times, being in Congress from 1800 until his death, except from 1812 to 1814, and again in 1830 when he was minister to Russia, a position which he resigned, however, in order to return to the excitement of politics at home. He freed his slaves by will on his death, which occurred in Philadelphia as he was preparing to go abroad for his health. Many anecdotes are told of him, and he is one of the most interesting and striking figures in our history. See Benton's account of his duel with Clay; also Life, by Garland, and by Adams.

WORKS.

Addresses.

Letters to a Young Relative.

John Randolph is noted for his wit, eloquence, and a power of sarcasm scathing in its intensity which he often employed, thereby making many enemies. “He is indeed original and unique in everything. His language is simple, though polished, brief, though rich, and as direct as the arrow from the Indian bow.”—Paulding.

THE REVISION OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION.

(From a Speech in the Legislature, 1829.) Doctor Franklin who in shrewdness, especially in all that related to domestic life, was never excelled, used to say

that two movings were equal to one fire. And gentlemen, as if they were afraid that this besetting sin of republican governments, this rerum novarum lubido (to use a very homely phrase, but that comes pat to the purpose), this maggot of

Sir, I

innovation, would cease to bite, are here gravely making provision that this Constitution, which we should consider as a remedy for all the ills of the body politic, may itself be amended or modified at any future time. Sir, I am against any such provision. I should as soon think of introducing into a marriage contract a provision for divorce, and thus poisoning the greatest blessing of mankind at its very source,—at its fountain-head. He has seen little, and has reflected less, who does not know that “necessity” is the great, powerful, governing principle of affairs here. am not going into that question which puzzled Pandemonium,—the question of liberty and necessity;--,

“ Free will, fixed fate, foreknowledge absolute; ” but I do contend that necessity is one principal instrument of all the good that man enjoys. The happiness of the connubial union itself depends greatly on necessity, and when you touch this you touch the arch, the keystone of the arch, on which the happiness and well-being of society is founded. Look at the relation of master and slave (that opprobium, in the opinion of some gentlemen, to all civilized society and all free government). Sir, there are few situations in life where friendships so strong and so lasting are formed as in that very relation. The slave knows that he is bound indissolubly to his master, and inust, from necessity, remain always under his control. The master knows he is bound to maintain and provide always for his slave so long as he retains him in his possession. And each party accommodates himself to the situation. I have seen the dissolution of many friendships,-such, at least, as they were called; but I have seen that of master and slave endure so long as there remained a drop of blood of the master to which the siave could cleave.

Where is the necessity of this provision in the Constitution? Where is the use of it? Sir, what are we about? Have we not been undoing what the wiser heads-I must be permitted to say so-yes, Sir, what the wiser heads of our ancestors did more than half a century ago? Can any one believe that we, by any amendment of ours, by any of our scribbling on that parchment, by any amulet, by any legerdemain-charm-Abracadabra--of ours can prevent our sons from doing the same thing,—that is, from doing what they please, just as we are doing as we please? It is impossible. Who can bind posterity? When I hear gentlemen talk of making a Constitution for "all time,” and introducing provisions into it for "all time," and yet see men here who are older than the Constitution we are about to destroy (I am older myself than the present Constitution : it was established when I was a boy), it reminds me of the truces and the peaces of Europe. They always begin, “In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity," and go on to declare “there shall be perfect and perpetual peace and unity between the subjects of such and such potentates for all time to come ;

and in less than seven years they are at war again.

GEORGE TUCKER.

1775-1861.

GEORGE TUCKER, a relative of St. George Tucker, was, like him, born in the Bermudas, and came to Virginia in 1787. He was reared and educated by St. George Tucker, and practiced law in Lynchburg. He served in the State Legislature and in Congress, and in 1825 he was elected professor of Moral Philosophy and Political Economy in the University of Virginia, a position which he filled for twenty years. His novel, “ Valley of the Shenandoah,” was reprinted in England and translated into German.

[graphic][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »