It may seem strange that in the present current of prejudice against learning, and learned men, the school-master had not been taken up, that spoke Latin. The fact was, the people did not know that it was Latin. Some took it for one language, and some for another. Thus, when he accosted persons in the street, with his puzzling phrases to translate, either on account of the peculiarity of the idiom, or the ellipsis of the sentence, answers were given correspondent to the mistake. Thus:
I do not understand Spanish.
I never learned Welsh.
It is Greek to me.
I do not understand Dutch.
Mea Valentiam, si quis----
I have never been among the Indians.
Potatoes are very good.
As for the blind Lawyer, humanity interposed on his behalf. There is a generosity in the public mind that leads them to pass by the unfortunate. The sovereign people, like other sovereigns do not make war upon bats. His lectures were short, and did not cost much. The loss of money, leaves a bite behind it worse than the sting of the wasp. It is this that excites a prejudice against lawyers; and yet people are, themselves, to blame. It is their own self-love, and unwillingness to think themselves in the wrong, that leads to law. Covetousness, deceives.
O, si angulus ille, mihi foret--
I must have that nook of woods, that runs out there. It will make a calf-pasture.
I admit that bar oratory is carried to excess, and there is too much of it occasionally; it is valued by the quantity, more than the quality. But there is a great deal of excellent oratory to be found at the bar. There are stamina, though retrenchments might be made.
The great defect is, the making many points; the cat that had but one way to escape, stood as good a chance, as the fox that had a thousand. Seize the turning point of the cause; if it can be done, and canvass that. The stroke of the eye, or the coup deil, which characterizes the great general, is the being able to see, at once, the commanding point of the field: to abandon the out posts, and concentrate his forces. Why need a man be taking time to shew, in how many ways, he can kill a squirrel? If he can take him down with a rifle ball at once, it is enough.
Oratory has no where a finer province, than at the bar. In a deliberative assembly, there is no such scope. Questions of finance have nothing to do with the heart. No man can be an orator at the bar, that has not a burning love of justice. For it is this gives the soul of oratory. An advocate thinking merely of the fee can be no orator. The soul must be expanded by the love of virtue.
In a deliberative assembly, it is difficult to be honest. Party will not suffer it. At the bar a man may be honest. For, in a cause he is not supposed to speak his own sentiments, but to present his side of the argument; and with truth in his statements. The attempting to hold what is not tenable, is a mark of weakness. Why then a prejudice against lawyers? I exclude attornies that are mere money gatherers; or professional men, that screw the needy, and grind the faces of the poor. Such there will always be. But nature presents nothing without an allay of evil.
As to the blind fiddler if it should be asked, why he was not accounted mad, it was because he was not denounced. There is a great deal in calling out mad dog. Besides, the insignificance of the scraper, protected him in the republic. He was so busy scraping, that he never meddled with politics, and this was a great help. And as he played every tune to every one that asked, having no predilection for Langolee, above the Etric banks, he gave no offence.
When these virgins, nothing loath, had been conducted to the bowers mantled with the natural vine, an offspring arose in a few years, such as that from whence the poets have drawn their best fictions. You will have no occasion to read Ovids Metamorphosis, to have an image of Daphne, or Proserpine; Diana and her nymphs; the Dryads, Hamadryads, or other personages. Just cross over into these new forests and there you have them in reality: maids bathing their snowy limbs in transparent streams; climbing the mountain top, collecting flowers, or gathering berries of the wood. Nature is here in her bloom; no decay or decrepitude. All fragrancy, health, and vivacity.
The stripling of these woods, is distinguished from the city beau; but it will not become me to say who has the advantage: whether the attitude of the presented rifle; or that of the segar in the teeth, is the most manly? Which looks best, the hunting shirt open at the neck, or the roll of muslin that covers it, and swells upon the chin? These are things to be canvassed by the curious. I am of opinion, however, that it is better to be clear sighted than purblind, and to be able to see a deer in a thicket, than to have need of a glass, before the nose to direct the steps where there is nothing to stumble over.
It can be no slur upon the descendant of a western settler, that his mother was obtained in barter, with her hair descending to her girdle; or waving in ringlets on her shoulders; and the moisture of her eye brightened with a tear at the emigration; when he considers, that, in all places, matrimony, to use the pun of Bishop Latimer, has been, in a great degree, a matter of money; and the consideration of the contract not always what the lawyers call a good consideration, that is affection; but a valuable one, wealth. Even if the circumstance should be considered as less honourable than a marriage settlement with forms, and perfect equality, in the transaction; it will be forgotten in a century or two, and it may come to be doubted whether there was ever such a thing as barter at all.