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HUGH SWINTON LEGARÉ.
1797-1843. Hugh Swinton LEGARÉ (pronounced Le-gree') was born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Huguenot and Scotch descent. He was educated at South Carolina College which he entered at the age of fourteen, and became an excellent scholar, especially in the languages both ancient and mod
He studied law, and then completed his education in the good old way by a course of travel and study in Europe. His learning is said to have been almost phenomenal : he was one of the founders of the “ Southern Review.”
On his return from Europe, 1820, he was elected to the State Legislature: 1830, he was made Attorney-General of the State; from 1832 to 1836 he was chargé d'affaires at Brussels ; in 1836 he was elected to Congress, and in 1841 appointed Attorney-General of the United States. He died in Boston, whither he had gone to take part in the Bunker Hill Celebration.
Chief Justice Story said of him: “His argumentation was marked by the closest logic; at the same time he had a presence in speaking which I have never seen excelled.” See Life, by Paul Hamilton Hayne.
Essays, Addresses, &c.
Memoir and Writings, (edited by his sister, Mrs. Bullen).
COMMERCE AND WEALTH VS. WAR.
(From a speech in the House, 1837.) A people well clad and well housed will be sure to provide themselves with all the other comforts of life; and it is the diffusion of these comforts, and the growing taste for them, among all classes of society in Europe, it is the desire
of riches, as it is commonly called, that is gradually putting an end to the destructive and bloody game of
and reserving all the resources hitherto wasted by it, for enterprises of industry and commerce, prosecuted with the fiery spirit which once vented itself in scenes of peril and carnage.
But, sir, the result of all this is that very inequality of wealth, that accumulation of vast masses of it in a few hands, against which we have heard so much said lately, as if it were something inconsistent with the liberties, the happiness, and the moral and intellectual improvement of mankind. Gigantic fortunes are acquired by a few years of prosperous commerce-mechanics and manufacturers rival and surpass the princes of the earth in opulence and splendor. The face of Europe is changed by this active industry, working with such mighty instruments, on so great a scale.
I have travelled in parts of the continent which the spirit of gain, with its usual concomitants, industry and improvement, has invaded since the peace, at an interval of fifteen years, and been struck with the revolution that is going on. There is a singularly beautiful, though rather barren tract of country between Liege and Spa, where, in 1819, my attention had been principally attracted by the striking features of a mountainous region, with here and there a ruin of the feudal past, and here and there a hovel of some poor hind,—the very haunt of the “Wild Boar of Ardennes ” in the good old times of the House of Burgundy.
I returned to it in 1835, and saw it covered with mills and factories, begrimed with the smoke and soot of steam-engines; its romantic beauty deformed, its sylvan solitudes disturbed and desecrated by the sounds of active industry, and the busy hum of men. I asked what had brought about so great a change, and found that the author of it—a man having a more numerous band of retainers and dependents than any baron bold of the fourteenth century, and in every respect more important than many of the sovereign princes on the other side of the Rhine—was an English manufacturer, who had established himself there some twenty years ago, without much capital, and had effected all this by his industry and enterprise.
Such, sir, is the spirit of the age; of course, in this young and wonderfully progressive country, it is more eager and ardent—and therefore occasionally extravagant—than any. where else. But it is in vain to resist it. Nay, I believe it is worse than vain. It is evidently in the order of nature, and we must take it with all its good and all its evils to. gether.
[From the Essay on Demosthenes.] The charge of effeminacy and want of courage in battle seems to be considered as better founded. Plutarch admits it fully. His foppery is matter of ridicule to Æschines, who, at the same time, in rather a remarkable passage in his speech on the Crown, gives us some clue to the popular report as to his deficiency in the military virtues of antiquity. “Who,” says he “will be there to sympathize with him? Not they who have been trained with him in the same gymnasium? No, by Olympian Jove! for, in his youth, instead of hunting the wild boar and addicting himself to exercises which give strength and activity to the body, he was studying the arts that were one day to make him the scourge
of the rich.” Those exercises were, in the system of the Greeks,
considered as absolutely indispensable to a liberal education. That of Demosthenes was certainly neglected by his guardians, and the probability is that the effeminacy with which he was reproached meant nothing more than that he had not fre
quented in youth the palestra and the gymnasiuni, and that his bodily training had been sacrificed to his intellectual.
That he possessed moral courage of the most sublime order is passed all question ; but his nerves were weak. If the tradition that is come down to us in regard to his natural defects as an orator is not a gross exaggeration, he had enough to occupy him for years in the correction of them. But what an idea does it suggest to us of the mighty will, the indomitable spirit, the decided and unchangeable vocation, that, in spite of so many impediments, his genius fulfilled its destiny, and attained at last to the supremacy at which it aimed from the first! His was that deep love of ideal beauty, that passionate pursuit of eloquence in the abstract, that insatiable thirst after perfection in art for its own sake, without which no man ever produced a masterpiece of genius. Plutarch, in his usual graphic style, places him before us as if he were an acquaintance,-aloof from the world ; immersed in the study of his high calling, with his brow never unbent from care and thought; severely abstemious in the midst of dissoluteness and debauchery; a waterdrinker among Greeks ; like that other Agonistes, elected and ordained to struggle, to suffer, and to perish for a people unworthy of him
“ His mighty champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.”
Let any one who has considered the state of manners at Athens just at the moment of his appearance upon the stage of public life, imagine what an impression such a phenomenon must have made upon a people so lost in profligacy and sensuality of all sorts. What wonder that the unprincipled though gifted Demades, the very personification of the witty and reckless libertinism of the age, should deride and scoff
at this strange man, living as nobody else lived, thinking as nobody else thought; a prophet, crying from his soli. tude of great troubles at hand; the apostle of the past; the preacher of an impossible restoration ; the witness to his contemporaries that their degeneracy was incorrigible and their doom hopeless; and that another seal in the book was broken, and a new era of calamity and downfall opened in the history of nations.
We have said that the character of Demosthenes might be divined from his eloquence; and so the character of his eloquence was a mere emanation of his own. It was the life and soul of the man, the patriot, the statesman. highest attribute of all,” says Dionysius, “is the spirit of life-torveúpa—that pervades it."
A DUKE'S OPINIONS OF VIRGINIA, NORTH AND SOUTH CARO
LINA, AND GEORGIA. [From a Review of “Travels of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar” in 1825-6.] In his journey through Virginia, our traveller visited Mr. Jefferson, with whom, however, he does not appear to have been as much struck as he had been with the late Mr. Adams. The Natural Bridge he pronounces " one of the greatest wonders of nature he ever beheld,” albeit he had seen “Vesuvius and the Phlegrean Fields, the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, the Island of Staffa, and the Falls of Niag. ara.” “Finally" (to use a favorite mode of expression of his own), he is amazed at the profusion of militia titles in Vir. ginia, which almost persuaded him that he was at the headquarters of a grand arıny, and at the aristocratic notions of some of the gentlemen in the same state, who make no secret of their taste for primogeniture laws and hereditary nobility,
He passed through North Carolina too rapidly to do anything like justice to the many remarkable things which that