« ZurückWeiter »
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
To the same,
5. PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE, –
Mr. Legaré to the Hon. Isaac E. Holmes,
to the Hon. Alfred Huger,
to the same,
to the same,
to his Sister,
To have joined, in a degree singular every where, the studies of the closet with practical life in several of its most difficult forms: to have plunged, with an early passion of scholarship, into its vigils, never afterwards intermitted, and yet not to have stiffened into the pedant or the professor: after attaining the command of Arts and Learning, to have known how to rise to a far nobler, rarer thing, and bring them into the vigorous service of active affairs and the great world: not to have studied himself out of the native strength of his parts, but only into their readier and surer exercise: not to have lost himself in words or systems, but turned their mastery into that of things: to have filled himself to the lips with languages without spoiling his own, and with literature without losing his originality: in a country of rapidity and shallowness, where to do quickly and popularly is to do successfully, to have dared to be solid and sincere : unabated in his purposes by public inappreciation, the luck of ignorance, the jeers of blockheads, to have held on his courageous way to honor: to have scorned all success, but that which is seized and borne off by the mere strong hand and violence of ability and merit: as a lawyer, pausing little at forms, technicalities, the jargon of the science, the mere symbols of its knowledge, to have grasped, from the outset, at all those nearly unattempted resorts, that should make a light and an era in jurisprudence amongst us: as an orator, to have armed himself with an eloquence, not the mere happiness or ill abundance of such speech, glittering and facile, as popular institutions at once make common and forbid to rise to art the most consummate, but such as vied, in regularity, force and polish, with the glories of classic greatness: as a statesman, to have made his way, through a succession of important trusts up to nearly the most eminent, almost without popular favor, in a country where that favor is all in all, to blow, like the wind, where it listeth, and to fall, like the rain, upon
the godly and ungodly alike: in such stations, to have won, even amid those furies of party, which make of our politics little else than hostile camps, and a perpetual civil war without the honor of arms, the respect and regrets of all parties at once :—these things are the praise of him whose life we are about to relate, with as little exaggeration or partiality, as a warm personal attachment will permit.
Hugh Swinton LEGARE, the son of Solomon Legaré, junr., and of Mary Swinton his wife, was born in Charleston, S. C., on the 2nd January, 1797. On the father's side, he was of that Huguenot race, the incunabula of many of the best families of his State, whom the same spirit, which drove the Pilgrims” of New-England to its then dreary coast, led to seek Freedom under a more genial sky and gentler institutions, planned by the philosophic liberality of Locke, but destined—except in the real religious equality, the legal toleration which they were the first to establish-to endure, like other instances of extemporized Constitutions and philosophic visions of government, barely until they had been reduced to practice.
On the maternal side, he was of a lineage still more strenuousthat of those Scottish Swintous, celebrated for their prowess in the traditions of the Border which they long defended; one of whom, "stout Sir Alan,” figures in the animated page of Froissart and in his copyist, Sir Walter Scott.* The genealogy, lost in every other form, is still assured, among their American descendants, by one of those domestic marks which even Democracy, in its enmity of all distinclions, but slowly obliterates—the transmission, from generation to generation, of certain favorite baptismal names. Those of Hugh and Alan, proper to the Swintons of that ilk, of Simprin-Mains and Swinton-Quarter, seem of frequent recurrence among the Carolinian race. Of the precise date of their migration hither, we are not informed. William Swinton, the grand-father of Mrs. Legaré, is believed to have been sent out, as Surveyor-General of the Province, some time between 1721 and 1731. The family names were William, Hugh and Alexander. They are reputed, however, to have been Covenanters; so that he of whom we write mixed in his veins whatever of either French or Scottish blood was inimical to tyrants.
* See his "Halidon Hill," Sir Alan is its hero. The notes contain various references to the history of the family, of whom, this chief was the companion of the Bruce. Sir Walter says of them, in his Preface, after reciting Pinkerton's account of the part Sir Alan played in the battle of Halidon Hill, “The tradition of the Swinton family, which still survives in lineal descent, and to which the author has the honor to be related, avers,” etc. He afterwards describes, as they really were, his remarkable person, his extraordinary prowess, and the cognizance of his family :
"There needed not, to blazon forth the Swinton,
As doth his frame the champion.” Douglas, in his "Baronage," p. 132, says, “The armorial bearings of the ancient family of Swinton are sable, a cheveron, or, between three boar's heads erased, argent. Crest, a boar chained to a tree, and above, on an escroll, J'espere. SupPORTERS, two boars standing on a compartment, whereon are the words, Je pense.” Scott makes them trace their feats up to the old days of Malcolm call’d the maiden;" who belongs to some date that was very old in Bruce's time. We find a modern Swinton one of the authors of the great “Universal History." Another Swinton, to whom we cannot now more precisely refer, is said to have made, on his estate of Swintondale, one of the earliest attempts at what has since become the steam-boat.
His progenitor, Solomon Legaré, the first emigrant of the name, from whom he was fifth in descent, left his native land for America in 1695 or 1696, and fixed his residence in the north-eastern part of the city of Charleston. Acquiring in that quarter of the town a considerable landed property, he bestowed it upon two of his sons and a daughter: while, purchasing another body, on the opposite side of the city, traversed by a street which still bears his name, he left this, entire, to his son Solomon, the father of Thomas, whose son, a third Solomon, was the father of Hugh Swinton Legaré. The city estate thus inherited by the second Legaré he sold, in great part,-purchasing, in its stead, possessions on the neighboring John's Isand; which henceforth became the chief seat of that branch of the family, and where still remain, in the possession of those of the name, two ancient mansions, erected by their forefather, the son of the emigrant.*
* The South-Carolina Gazette, of the year 1760, contains the subjoined notice of the death of the original emigrant:
“Died, on the 8th May, 1760, Mr. Solomon Legaré, Senr., in the 87th year of his age-one of the oldest settlers in this Province. He had been here 64 years.”
The steps of descent and alliance are traced as follows:
IV. Solomon, the great-grandson; who, intermarrying with Mary, the daughter of Hugh Swinton and of Susannah Splatt his wife, became the father of Hugh Swinton Legaré.