Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Entered according to the act of Congress, the 12th day of October, 1832, by
E. L. CAREY & A. HART,

in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

PREFACE.

THE publishers of this volume present it to the public, not merely as a testimonial of their sincere respect for a distinguished fellow citizen, but as an offering which they know will be most acceptable to the community at large. It is an exalted duty to rescue from the precarious tenure of ephemeral publications the reputation of an eminent man, and with this view they have been induced to cause a volume of the public speeches of Mr. Sergeant to be prepared, in order to give them the permanence they deserve to have, and of which, while scattered in detached pamphlets and periodicals, they could not be secure. The responsibility of the attempt is altogether with them. It was determined on, and has been made without consultation with Mr. Sergeant. The materials to which the publishers have had access, were scattered through congressional reports and newspapers, and it has been with some difficulty they have been collected. They are believed however to be in every respect accurate. It was their hope to be able to publish a number of the forensic arguments of Mr. Sergeant, as well as his congressional speeches. In this, they have been, in great measure disappointed. The same of an advocate is too often tra

ditionary, and while during his active career his influence is most sensibly felt and readily acknowledged, as soon as the personal ascendancy is withdrawn, the charm lingers only in memory, and with the life of the last contemporary is forgotten. The physical labours of preparing forensic arguments for the press is altogether incompatible with the unceasing occupation of a professional man in active business, and until the science of reporting “speeches” shall extend to the judicial as well as the legislative halls, the advocate, in a vast majority of instances, must be satisfied with the proud distinction of a life of honour and usefulness, and be content, as soon as it terminates, to be forgotten. The history of the English bar strongly illustrates the truth of this assertion. Of all the master-pieces of eloquence that have been produced by the great English lawyers during the last century and an half, but one elaborate collection survives; and no one, especially if he be a lawyer, can peruse the volumes of Lord Erskine's Speeches without regret, deep regret, that a similar memorial of some of his predecessors, of Dunning, of Wedderburne, of Yorke, of Pratt and of Murray, has not been rescued from the grasp of oblivion. It was a remark of Mr. Pitt, that were he allowed to redeem from forgetfulness any one of those works of genius of which in ancient or modern times the same only has survived, he would select a single speech of Lord Bolingbroke, accurately and faithfully reported, in preference to all the rest. A lawyer might, in the same spirit prefer an argument fresh from the lips, or corrected by the pen of Lord Mansfield, to any of the obliterated records of departed genius. To the American bar, the same remark will as justly apply. A recent publication has, in a single instance, supplied the deficiency, and in a measure done justice to one distinguished lawyer of our country; but with this exception, and a few reports of cases selected on account of some special public interest, the same of the American lawyer has had no substantial memorial. Detached arguments of Mr. Sergeant, might have been obtained from the volumes of the Federal and State Reports, but on examination they were sound to be mere sketches, as noted by the reporter, and without the least revision. The only forensic argument inserted in this volume, is the one delivered by Mr. Sergeant before the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of the Cherokee nation, and those who heard him on that occasion, or who have ever heard him when arguing with his peculiar eloquence a cause in which his feelings were deeply interested, need not be told how inadequate the report is to his merits, nor how strongly it illustrates what has been said of the transitory nature of an advocate's fame. It has been inserted, however, as the only one which has had even a partial revision. Abridged as it is, and divested of all the ornaments of rhetoric, it will be read and admired as a fine specimen of argumentative eloquence, having for its object to enforce by reason the results of honest and deliberate reflection. It is to be regretted that one other argument of Mr. Sergeant, (we refer to the one delivered in the Circuit Court of the United States, at Philadelphia, in the Nicholson land case,) should not be given to the public in an elaborate form. It was an effort worthy of the orator and the occasion. He was there in the proud attitude of the representative of a great Commonwealth of whose reputation he was jealous, and whose legislation he was called on to

« AnteriorContinuar »