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elled for several years in various parts of England, Scotland,
Germany, Switzerland, be, forming acquaintance with the

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500 SparW$ tAfi ofMmU. [lone,

most distinguished public men, with nobles and kings, tad
returned to America in December, 1798, baring been absent
from his native country ten years. In the mean time politi-
cal parties had here grown up, and become bitter. In bis
sentiments he was a decided Federalist, although be did not
join in all the measures of the Federal party. Thus he pre-
ferred Jefferson to Burr in the angry contest for the presi-
dency in the winter of 1801, and was very decidedly in favor
of the Louisiana purchase, to which, as is well known, the
Federalists were m general warmly opposed. But all the
leading measures of that party met with his approbation, and
bad his earnest support. " There," says Mr. Sparks, " he
took a stand, and there he maintained it to the end of bis
life, sometimes, perhaps, with a zeal that outstripped pru-
dence, but always with an honesty of purpose, a fearlessness
of responsibility, and an ingenuous, hearty good will, that
commanded the respect of his opponents, and deserved from
his friends and foes the praise of high-minded patriotism."

In 1800, MoiTis was chosen by the legislature of New
York to supply a vacancy in the Senate of the United States.
He remained m the Senate three years, when, by the change
of political parties, he was superseded in office, and retired
Co private life.

" During the three years of Mr. Morris's service in the Sen-
ate of the United States, he was a strong pillar in the Federal
party, thoroughly imbued with their policy and principles, and
generally uniting in tKeir acts. The occasions on which he
made conspicuous efforts, were in the debates on the repeal of
the internal taxes, on the judiciary establishment, and on
Ross' resolutions for taking possession of New Orleans." pp.
480, 481.

These speeches, which have been preserved, would of
themselves give us a high opinion of the ability and elo-
quence of Morris, were we without other testimony. His
mind was evidently fertile in resources, and he grasped his
subject with the power of a commanding and cultivated intel-
lect, and with all the fervor of an ardent temperament. Dur-
ing the remainder of his life he resided at Morrisania as a
private citizen. But he still kept up a lively interest b pub-
lic affairs, and carefully scanned the progress of events. To
him belongs *^ the splendid conception of connecting the vast

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MM.] ^^Mrib'^ Uft o/Btmii. ^1

wtters of Erie and the upper lakes, with those of the Atkntic
through the channel of the Hudson." Others have their
meed of praise in bringing forward and perfecting the scheme,
but *^ he wa$ first to give shape and consistency to the thought,
or make it knovm to the world.** This Mr. Sparks fairiy
demonstrates. In the darkest period of the revolution it is
well ascertained that Morris predicted '' that at no very dis-
tant day the waters of the great inland seas would, by the
aid of man, break through their barriers and mingle with
those of the Hudson." And in 1795, 1801, 1803, &c., he
urged, over and over again, the practicability of this plan, and
impressed upon others a sense of its importance. From 1810
till his death in November, 1816, he was chairman of the
Board of Canal Commissioners, and three of the four reports
made by them, within that period, to the legislature of New
York, were drawn up by him. Nor was this all.

** During the six last years of Mr. Morris's life, his thoughts
and his time were incessantly occupied with this business of
the Erie Canal, not more in discharging his duties as a com*
missioner to their fall extent, than in devising preliminary and
incidental means for advancing the enterprise. He sought
knowledge from able and skilful engineers, from the results of
long experiments in other countries, from the aids of science,
and from personal observation. He examined minutely all the
surveys, that were made from time to time, entered into com-
plicated calculations on the motion, pressure, absorption, and
evaporation of water, as depending on the quality of the soil
and position of the canal route ; he formed estimates, not leas
complicated and difficult, respecting the cost of excavations,
embankments, aqueducts, and lockage ; in short, there were
no details, which he did not thoroughly investigate, and subject
to the scrutiny of his judgment. His two first reports to the
legislature are very able documents, indicating at the same
time a profound knowledge of the subject, and an uncommon
enlargement of mind and foresight. Mr. Bleecker has weU
and truly observed, that ' what he then prophesied is now foe-
come history.' His remarks on the internal commerce of the
United States, as connected with the Atlantic and with Ca|i*
ada, and as ultimately affecting our national improvement and
prosperity, are the dictates of wisdom, the fruits of a laborioua
inquiry concerning the physical structure and resources of the
counUy, and of a deep search into the causes, which carrjr for*

VOL. I. NO. VI. 64

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ward the intereourae, growth, and refiaemeiit of society ." pp.

Mr. Sparks has inserted in the latter part of the first vol-
ume, extracts from a Sketch of Morris's character drawn by
Madame de Damas, a French lady, who was well acquamt-
ed with him. The Sketch is felicitous in delmeating his
prominent characteristics, and unites accuracy with delicate
discrimination. It is, indeed, somewhat overchai^ed in the
manner of its execution, — embellished according to the
taste and habit of the French, especially of the French
ladies. But we believe it to be in substance correct, and
that all that is said of him is true, although we might not
subscribe to the manner in which it is told.

The second and third volumes contain selections from his
correspondence, diplomatic and private, while in Europe, and
after his return to thb country. The private correspondence
embraces letters to a great variety of distinguished persons,
nobles, gentles, and ladies, in EDgiand and on the Continent,
and to many of the leading men in the United States. His
letters while in France, and his Diary for that period, consti-
tute a valuable history of the Revolution, narrated in a flow-
ing, though occasionally in a careless style. His private
letters do equal credit to his understanding and affections,
and are on the whole very good specimens of epistolary skill.

Mr. Sparks has raised the general estimate of the charac*
ter of Gouverneur Morris, simply because he has made it
better known. There are but few among us who are inti-
mately acquainted with that part of our revolutionary his-
tory, which is contained in the lives and actions of the lead-
ing men of that period. The amount of knowledge that most
possess, is confined to prominent events in the war, and to
the recollection that such and such individuals commanded in
the army or gained distinction in the cabinet ; but does not
extend to that minute and quickening information, which well-
wrought biography so fully yields. Morris, by his letters,
Diary, and speeches has left a monument of his own indus-
try, and has established an enduring fame. His prevailing
fault was " a forwardness of manner, a licence of expression,
and an indulgence of his humor '^ at the expense of others,
which sometimes annoyed his friends and doubtless made
him many enemies. But this arose not from any malevo-
lence in bis nature, but rather from a consciousness of his

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leaSL] Sparks' 8 Life of Morru. 603

own intellectual srtrength, and that pride of opinion and quick
perception of the ridiculous that marked his character; while
his good qualities far outweighed this defect. He possessed
prompt discernment, an open and ingenuous disposition, great
political wisdom and sagacity, and the power of accomplish*
mg, and accomplishing well, whatever depended upon the
operations of his own mind. And to his other resources was
added a facility in bringing to his aid whatever might illus-
trate or adorn the subject in hand. History and patient
investigation and close observation had given him an intimate
knowledge of man, and made him wise to discern the future,
and advise well for the immediate occasion. If he sometimes
erred in opinion, it was honest error, and be was too ingenu-
ous not to correct it when convinced of its existence. We
like his open, honorable, and direct course. If sometimes it
led him into difficulty, and gave the sting to enmity, it was
on the whole advantageous ; and we would that there were
more such politicians, who would '* speak right on," and not
be guilty of tortuous conduct and disguise.

Mr. Sparks has made a very interesting volume of biogra-
phy, and has, we think, done full justice to the subject. It
has been objected by some that the work is too large. Per-
haps here and there the materials might have been a little
more condensed ; but we do not think that much could have
been done in this way without injuring the texture of the
whole. The biography is contained in one volume, and only
so much of general history is introduced as is necessary to
place the character of Morris in prominent relief The
biographer's own comments and reflections are brief and to
the purpose. The extracts from the Diary we would not
willingly spare ; and as to the letters which fill the second
and third volumes, they are such pleasing illustrations of the
qualities both of the head and heart of the writer, that we
would rather demand a greater number than be deprived of the
present supply. It is important, we think, to the history of
our country in its most eventful era, that the lives of the
great men of our revolution should be given to us in full ; and
where materials are so ample and valuable as in the work
we have described, we hope there will be equal liberality in
the use.

We have only to add, that while the general appearance
of these volumes in type and paper is gTOd, we regret that

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S04 Edwards'aBiogruphyofSdf^TmtghtMen. [hime,

the press has not been corrected with more care. The typo*
graphical errors are too numerous for a work of this char«>

Art. X. • — Biography of Self Taught Jtfen, with an Ji#ro-
duciory Essay. By 6. B. Edwards. Boston. Perkins
b Manrin. 1882. ISmo. pp. 313.

This little volume consists of short biographical sketches
of individuals who mainly by their own unaided eflbrts, and
often in the most unfavorable circumstances, have risen to
eminence in learning, or science, or successful action. The
Introductory Essay which precedes these narratives is writ-
ten with good sense and ability, and contains many just and
striking views of the intellectual and moral condition and
wants of our country. The topics touched upon are of the
highest importance ; and though only brief suggestions are
made, they are evidently the fruit of enlightened and com-
prehensive reflection ; while the pure moral tone and earnest
patriotism which pervade the whole are highly creditable to
the writer's heart. These suggestions relate to the danger
of innovation and rapid change, — the importance of a more
fervent and general cooperation of the friends of intelligence
and sound principles, — the religious aspect of questions of
political economy, — the immense importance of preserving
the due ascendency of mind over matter, — and the formation
of a national Christian literature. In connexion with these
suggestions and for accomplishing the conditions on which
our national well->being is suspended, the author places great
reliance upon that class of young men among us, who feel
the thirst for knowledge and the impulse to high exertion,
hot who, little friended by circumstances, are obliged to work
out their way to knowledge and usefulness by their own en-
ergy. The JBssay is chiefly taken up in describing the char-
acteristic excellences and defects of minds thus formed.
Then follow the biographical sketches which are intended
to afford direction and encouragement to such as are thus
obliged to rely upon their own exertions, and to contend
with difficulties. And as the book is designed for young
men of this country, it is not only gratifying, nut perhaps the
incitement will be the more quickening, that of the thirty-

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1888.] Edward^s Biography of S^^ToHght Men. 806

three sketches whieh the vohime contains, the Editor has
found subjects for thirteen in our own land, — examples too,
especially such as Sherman, Rittenhouse, Huntington, and
King, so worthy to be studied and followed. Y^e think the
work is'likely to be acceptable and usefol to those for whom
it was intended. Example afiTords not only the most com-
pendious instruction, but also the most awakening and sus-
taining motive to action. When we see what man has donoi
and how it was done, we foel more strongly what man can
do ; and Faith springs up. Purpose becomes more lofty and
resolved, Hope is animated, and thereof Power is bom, which
had else lain dormant for ever. For Faith is the parent of
Power, and in a wider than the common interpretation, does
it overcome the world, removing mountains and working
wonders. Narratives like these strikingly illustrate the force
of application in overcoming almost every conceivable obsta-
cle. They prove how independent we really are, if we
choose to DC, of those outward circumstances, which to the
aspiring but feeble, to the indolent or irresolute, seem to
make such a difference between man and man, and without
the aid of which the avenues to leammg or eminent usefol-
ness seenf impassably barred up. They exhibit the power
of lofty determination and untiring perseverance. Thdy
show how, under the Providence of God, obstacles of every
sort and size are made to give way, or minister to the uncon-
querable will, that does not falter in its purpose, nor relax
its struggle. They show what may be done by labor. They
inculcate the salutary lesson that the secret of success is
hard work ; that nothing greatly good and noble can be
achieved without it. They speak with a stirring voice to
the spirit of the young : What will you be? What will you
do ? Have an object in life, — have some distinct and defi-
nite aim. Live for something ; let it be something worth
living for ; and for that be willing to labor with the whole
energy of your being. And they teach every one who feels
in himself the thirst for knowledge, or the impulse to high
exertion, that however unfriended he may be by outward cir-
cumstances, he never need despair of achieving a measure of
success worth having lived for, if only he will make the very
utmost of the possibilities of his actual condition, if he will
fix his eye steadfastly on his object, pursuing it through evil
report and through good report with unwavering constancy

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900 Edwards' $ Biography of Se^-Taught Mtn. [June;

of purpose and unrelaxing rigor of exertioD. In shott, ihej
are calculated to enkindle a noble ardor^ and to direct it on
the high road to success.

We are inclined to think, however, that in preparing this
volume, the writer would have better attained his A>ject if
the sketches had been fewer in number and more minute and
full. The quickening influence of such a work does not de-
pend so much on the number of illustrious names that are set
down in it with the registered result of their labors, as on
the full and vivid picture of the individual presented in the
progress of his inward and outward life, as he pursues his
way to knowledge and usefulness through poverty and friend-
lessness and every obstacle. Thus the reader is brought into
intimacy with a noble spirit. It becomes a living example,
exciting the keenest sympathy, and inspiring a kindred ardor.
We should have preferred, therefore, that several of the nar-
ratives of individuals who are either less distinguished, or
the materials for whose lives are more scanty, had been omit-
ted in order to give room for a fuller portraiture of such men
as Heyne, Alexander Murray, and Gifibrd.

In regard to the style we might find matter of criticism.
There is, particularly in the Essa^, a too frequent occurrence
of short sentences, without any thmg new or important requir-
ing an emphatic annunciation. Five or six of the shortest
sentences not unfrequently occur in succession, which contain
but little more than a bare reiteration of the same thought in
a different form, or certainly are without any proportionable
variation and progress of thought, and which would much more
properly have been wrought together as members of one pe-
riod. One is reminded of what Coleridge says of sentences
made for asthmatic lungs to read, and for men of asthmatic in-
tellects to understand. Mr. Edwards's style in this particular
is evidently formed on a vicious system, which, as well as
another fault that struck us, namely, an occasional ambitious-
ness of thought and language, we should be glad to see cor-
rected ; for we have a high respect for Mr. Edwards's ability
and for the lofty and earnest spirit by which he is actuated.
Though he has made a useful book, we think he can make
a better ; and we hope that he will go on in his efforts to
excite our young men to the love of learning and of honor-
able and useful exertion.

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1893.] ^ Da9i$*$ Preeede$it$ of IndictmetUs. S07

Art. XI. — Precedents of Indictments ; to which is pre-
fixed a Concise Treatise upon the Office and Duty of
Grand Jurors, By Daniel Davis, Solicitor General of
Ma^acbusetts. Boston. Carter, Hendee, &; Babcock.
1831. 8vo. pp. 319.

This volume contains, besides a short treatise upon the
Office and Duty of Grand Jurors, three hundred and forty-
four Precedents of Indictments ; the form of an Informa-
tion ; several forms of Informations quo warranto ; the form
of a writ of Certiorari, of a writ of Error, of a writ of Habeas
Corpus, and of several pleas in criminal cases. These forms
are accompanied with many short notes at the bottom of the

In bis "Treatise upon the Office and Duty of Grand Ju-
rors," our author tells us, that the institution of grand jurors
is one of the most ancient which we derive from our English
ancestors. It is known to have existed for nearly a thous-
and years. In relation to this institution Mr. Davis says,
" From long experience and observation it may be safely
asserted, that [there has been] no body of men, designated to
exercise important powers and functions connected with the
judicial department of our government, [who] have been
more respected, or concerning whom the public opinion has
uniformly been more favorable, than the grand jurors select-
ed and organized according to the laws and usages of our
happy country."

This subject is divided and considered under the following
heads :

'' JFHrst, Their number and qualifications, as required by law.

'' Secondly, The mode of selecting and summoning them.

" Thirdly. The course of proceeding after their appear-
ance in court. Their oath ; its nature and obligations.

" Fourthly, The right of challenging grand jurors, and the
right of the court to instruct them as to the principles of evi-

** Fifthly. The mode of proceeding, after the grand jury
are organized.

** Sixthly. The nature of the evidence to be submitted to
them, and the principles and grounds upon which it is to be
received and decided upon by them.

** Seventhly. The right of the grand jury to compel the
attendance of witnesses. The finding of the bills, d&c.

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606 Dam^s Precedents o/MiefmenU. [Jtme,

** EiglUkly, The amendment of indictmenls bj the order
of court, and the consent of the grand jury." p. 4.

The remarks under each of these heads are pertinent.
And the information communicated, or at least much of it, is
such as could not come from any one who had not spent his
life as a public prosecutor. It must be highly useful to the

But the work is chiefly made up of Precedents of In<»

"The volume is intended," says the author, ''to furnish a
more extensive and complete collection of precedents of indict-
ments, than has hitherto been contained in any one work upon
that subject ; and to reduce them to as great a degree of concise-
ness and simplicity as may be consistent with their correctness
and validity. In the forms herein contained, the obsolete lan-
guage ; the ancient but unnecessary technical phrases ; and
the superfluous prefatory allegations and averments, which are
still retained in the English and American collections, have
been rejected." p. iii.

We have looked over these forms, and can bear testimony
to the truth of this remark as a general one ; but we ap-
prehend that even in this volume there are many precedents
containing superfluous words and unnecessary averments.

In the very first precedent in the book the author rejects
the words ^' force and arms" ; and in a note refers to Iiaw-
kins and Hale as authorities for so doing. In another note he
refers to the same writers to show that the word ^^ dignity "
at the close of the precedent may be omitted ; and yet it is
retained in /that as well as in most of the other precedents.
Why retain one and reject the other when the same author-
ities apply to both with equal force.

In No. 39, which is a precedent '' for an assault not ac-
companied with a battery,'' the person upon whom the
assault is alleged to have been committed is said to be ^^ in
the peace of the said Commonwealth." And yet, in the
note, many authorities are cited to show that these words,
^* in the peace of the said Commonwealth then and there
being," are wholly unnecessary. These words are also re-
tained in Nos. 40 and 41. But in No. 4S, which like the
three former precedents is upon the subject of assaults, and
^< tot an assault and beating out an eye/' these wonb, '^ in

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the peace/' Imv aie omitted, but io that preeedmt the per*
lOD who b alleged to have made the assault is said ^< to he
of a deprayed and malicious disposition."

In No. 43, which is <^ for an assault and tearing the hair
off prosecutor's head/' the person who makes the assault is
not alleged to be of ^^ a depraved and malicious disposition/'
but be upon whom it is made is said to be ^^ in the peace of
the Commonwealth."

According to these precedents, therefore, it would seem
that when an eye is beat out, we need not allege that the
prosecutor was in the peace of the Commonwealth, but must
aver that the assailant is of a deprared and malicious dispo*
sition ; but when the prosecutor's hair is torn off his head,
he must allege that he was in the peace of the Common-
wealth, but need sa^ nothing of the disposition of the assail-
ant. To justify this distinction the Solicitor ought to have
cited, and must, we think, have relied upon the maxim, that
^' the law is as nice as a new laid egg."

We merely refer to the following precedents, as contain-
mg more or less superfluous matter, viz. Nos. 135, 136, 178,
179, 180, 181, 182, 183. Our author in his prefatory re-
marks says, '^ It seems singular that the best and most mod-
em compilers of these precedents should retain allegations
and avennents, so long since exploded ; and, at the same
time, carefully note the authorities by which they have been
decided to be unnecessary and superfluous." And he happi-
ly adds, " there is no better reason for retaining the obsolete,
and, in some instances, it may be said the exploded language
found in the ancient forms in criminal processes, than there
would be in retaining the costume of the age in which it was
first adopted." There can be no doubt that the prece-
dents in this volume are very much improved in this particu-
lar, but some of them are not perfect ; and not so perfect as
they would have been, if the author had adhered more strictly
to his own rule. We are reminded of the answer of a law-
yer, who, when inquired of by a lady why a certain brother
of his profession left it for theology, said, he found it easier
to preach than to practise.

it cannot be denied, however, that the value of these pre-
cedents is very much increased by the notes which are very
numerous, thoueh generally very short, in which the author
informs the pubUc whether the precedent was original with

VOL. I. NO. VI. 65

Online LibraryJoseph Lyon MillerAmerican monthly review → online text (page 52 of 54)