Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the adjustment rendered, and from which the definitive measurement must be obtained.

In the composition of this work the author has occupied a neutral ground of observation. Save in two or three instances, he was neither the professional nor social contemporary of its subjects, and had no prejudices to subserve or predilections to gratify. Lord Coke says that “ a juror should stand indifferent as he stands unsworn"; and this has been the exact position of the author. He has extended his researches throughout the State, endeavored to obtain information from every known source, weighed the evidence, compared the testimony, drawn his conclusions from established facts, and striven to treat of merit in respect to the degree in which he has found it. He has followed the flash of the star of eminence, and subjected his pictures to the brilliancy of its twinklings.

In the execution of his labors he has, in some instances, experienced much difficulty in obtaining the necessary data, and much perplexity in finding phrases to express the nice discriminations necessary in the analysis of character, and to define its multifarious features, which he has found to be as varied as the outlines of form and the shades of color. But, such as it is, the author bids its departure upon the wings of its fate; and if, like Noah's raven, it be lost upon the wide expanse, let his intentions be its only memorial ; but if it should return with the olive-branch of favor, and the author should outlive the present older generation of lawyers, he will supplement it with a second volume, in furtherance of the record of that eminence of which Mississippi furnishes so many illustrious examples, both among her living and her dead.

To Mr. Justice H. H. Chalmers, of the Supreme Court, General T. J. Wharton, and Attorney General T. C. Catchings, who were appointed, respectively, by the Governor, the Chief Justice, and the author, as an advisory committee on the work, the author tenders his sincere thanks for their kind suggestions and wholesome counsel, and for the patience with which they withstood the annoyance incidental to that relation.

JAMES D. LYNCH.

West Point, Miss., December 1, 1880.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

GENIUS-ITS SOURCE-ITS UNIVERSAL APPLICATION-ITS VARIED MANI

[blocks in formation]

The definition of that intuitive principle or subtle quality of the mind, which we call genius, is yet an unanswered question ; at least, it has never received an intelligent interpretation ainong men.

Its source lies concealed in the unexplored recesses of human nature; nor is its presence known until, awakened by the touch of opportunity, it bursts from its gyves, and flashes upon the world with a light that illuminates the extending scope of its own vision.

But, whatever may be the abstract nature of geuius, its qualities are readily recognized, and its manifestations easily judged. Its course is upward and onward, and its flight is bounded by no definable horizon, while its zenith is hidden somewhere in the realms of eternal and untarnished light.

The application of genius is universal, and it has kindled its beacons along the highway of every sphere of life, penetrated the occult depths and obscure labyrinths of every science, and illumined a path for the advancement of every art. It is, indeed, the assignable coefficient of all enterprise and the multiplicative exponent of all progress. .

Nor is genius to be measured by its means of appliance. It perhaps required as much genius in Adain and Eve to patch their fig-leaf aprons as in the manufacture of the finest fabrics of modern art, and as much in Noal to fit the timbers of the ark as in the construction of the proudest vessel that ploughs the waves of the western world. But from the summit of Ararat it winged its way with new-fledged pinions until it rested in triumph upon the pinnacle of Solomon's Temple ; whence it gave sanctified utterance to the tongue of prophecy, and guided the pen of inspiration along the pages of Holy Writ. Yet, while the hand of genius was hewing and fashioning the pines of Lebanon into the columns of the great temple, with uplifted eye it gazed into the starry canopy of heaven, caught the first glimpse of the star of Christianity, and, like a sentinel on the watch-tower, heralded every gleam of knowledge that flashed across its vision; and thence, with increased glow, it illuminated the pages of Grecian and Roman literature, and evoked those sparkling gems of thought whose coruscations will dazzle the eyes of the intellectual world to the end of remotest time.

But, in conformity with the vicissitudes of all human grandeur, the eyes of genius were at length closed by the cold finger of Fate ; and, hurled by the hand of barbarism from the Tarpeian rock, it lay for ages hidden beneath the wreck and ruins of the Roman Empire ; yet the spark glowed on until it slowly arose from the smouldering ashes, burst through the pall of the dark ages, and rekindled its blaze in the revival of learning.

Yet, while the true course of genius is upward, it is not always subordinated to the good of mankind, but is often perverted and prostituted to unhallowed purposes by the wayward passions that flourish in its train. While with pious sweat it could carve the lofty architraves and rear the temple of Jelovah, it could with sacrilegious hand heave the huge rocks, and pile them upon the Tower of Babel, with mad desire to invade the very chambers of the Almighty. While it strung the pastoral lyre and tuned the shepherd's reed, it gave power to the destructive engines of Archimedes, and the fatal twang to the archer's bow; and though it glowed in the natural laws of Kepler and the civil code of Justinian, flashed through the glasses of Galileo, and illuminated the hallowed visions of Luther, it also glittered in the crown of Alexander, burnished the helmet of Cæsar, and famed in the sword of Bonaparte.

But, whatever may be the mode of its indication ; whether it

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »