Page images

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

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; his 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-but 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

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 of 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.



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.


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.

(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

« PreviousContinue »