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will refuse to accept as any thing but poetic inventions or even nursery tales.
He is reputed, then, in the domestic reminiscences, to have spoken at a remarkably early age, and to have betrayed, when but a little older, singular gleams of reflection and sense. As a child even, his air, manners and habits bespoke something unusual, something entirely superior to his years-indications of a marked and fine individuality. These were no doubt much assisted by the powerful mould of the person in which he was originatly cast, a large and strikingly developed head, and well-proportioned features, full of all the elements of thought and passion. Such as we know him first by report, in a distant State, whither some of his companions and his chief rival at college and elsewhere brought the fame (as it was for a youth of 17 or 18) of his extraordinary abilities-such as we afterwards knew him, certainly far the most accomplished person and most powerful genius that we have ever met—and such as we know that he seemed, at every part of his life, from his first school upwards, to all who remarked him as his elders or contended with him as his equals, we, at least, are perfectly prepared to receive as genuine all that his family relate of the earliest tokens which he gave of parts the most vigorous and of tendencies the most invincible to the utmost intellectual excellence to which one could be bred up in the country and at the time to which he belonged. We have never seen any other instance of so powerful a determination towards a consummate cultivation of all the arts that are fit to crown admirable gifts with every advantage of complete discipline; and these things were in him so much beyond any thing we ever witnessed in others, that we consider it certain that his "strong nativity" of knowledge must have displayed itself be
It appears that he learnt to read in his mother's arms, while borne about and tended in the manner that we have already described; and that, in the long feebleness of his lower limbs left even by returning health, the new-found treasure of books must have become his main delight. It was probably at this first period of study (as it is no abuse to call it for him, even from the first) that he contracted the taste which we have often heard him express for what had not yet been banished by the Barbauld and de Genlis child's literature-the older tales, we mean, of giants and pigmies, enchantments and fairy-land-the puissant Tom Thumb; or him of the giants, Jack; or the veracious voyager, Gulliver; or the delicious wonders of the Arabian story-tellers;
or that master-piece of probable fiction, Robinson Crusoe. In every thing of this sort, he was deeply read, and was accustomed to dictate afterwards on their superiority to what has displaced them, for the formation of the young mind-the sensible or instructive books, that would have children learn what men learn-that teach just science or fact enough to forestal, not inform, and take the edge off curiositybooks, in a word, which, before yet the fancy or the feelings have been formed, inculcate advanced and multiplied morals for those who are still incapable of experience and led chiefly by the senses. age the compositions are fittest which captivate the most. Leave it to the boy himself, and see what he will devour! In this, indeed, we have a guide obvious enough: the natural process of knowledge is necessarily just that which the rise of knowledge itself has followed among men it begins among rude nations with tales and songs, with what affects the imagination and the heart; and advances long afterwards to positive science. Barbarous nations are but larger and fairer children. If these things seem out of place here, we have been led to them, as the opinions of him concerning whom we write. They have their place in his life, since they were a part of his mind, and probably had their influence over its formation.
Indeed, the care of such a mother as it was Legare's happiness to have; made, as it was, doubly solicitous by his becoming, through the loss of his father, her undivided charge, and by the helpless condition. to which she saw him, her chief hope, reduced by disease-has an image probably as just as it is sweet in the picture which a poet. has drawn of the education of one of the opposite sex by a widowed father:
I may not paint those thousand infant charms,
The orison, repeated in his arms,
For God to bless her sire and all mankind-
All uncompanion'd else her years had gone,
"Till now in Gertrude's eyes their ninth blue summer shone."'*
The piety, the affection, the charity, the early love of knowledge, the tender care repaid with caresses as tender, and probably the fairylove were all parts of this excellent mother's system: for she was clearly wise enough to be "the play-mate e'er the teacher of his mind."
⚫ Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, Canto I.
Between his fourth year and his sixth, when he was first sent out to school, he had probably, with the boundless curiosity which he possessed, read much and formed, what is best formed by this earliest reading, a good English. For 'tis not at school that a boy ever gets a good knowledge of his own tongue, let him learn there whatever else he may. 'Tis much reading, and not teacher's work, which gives him that. But we find his first master, Mr. Ward, (an Englishman then teaching in Charleston,) declaring to his mother, when, in his ninth year, he became importunate to be taught Latin, and she resisted it because she supposed him unprepared, "that he was very far advanced in English, a boy of high talents, fine taste and great industry." His course with this instructor, then, was probably the usual rudimentary one in English-grammar, geography, the elements of history and arithmetic.
Yielding now to the opinion of Mr. Ward and to his own urgent wishes, his mother transferred him to the care of a Catholic priest, Dr. Gallagher, reputed, in that day, the most eminent classical teacher of Charleston. Under this master, with whom he seems to have remained two or three years, we know not precisely what was his progress: we only learn that it was such that the reverend Dr. himself, an enthusiast in Latin literature and in eloquence, but apparently somewhat national in his favorite models of the latter, took the greatest delight and pride in him, pronounced that he would be "an honor to his country for erudition, and, as an orator, the Curran and Burke of America." Mr. Legaré himself was accustomed, at any event, to say that it was to Dr. Gallagher that he owed his passion for classical letters generally, and much of his knowledge of Latin; while it was to Dr. Waddel (his next teacher but one) that he was indebted for his love of Greek.
We have here on the part of Dr. Gallagher, a very bold prediction, when uttered (as it certainly was) of a boy less than 12 years old: bold, we mean, of course, omitting that other glory of Hibernian oratory, who was such an exaggeration of Burke's greatest blemishes as the rhapsodical Counsellor Phillips was of his. It would be difficult, indeed, to fix on any one that has arisen among us so fit to be put in parallel with the great smiter of Jacobinism as was Legaré. Ample as was that illustrious man's erudition; wide and noble as his range of public knowledge; in these and in the entire command of one great practical pursuit (Jurisprudence) Legaré certainly excelled him; while he as certainly surpassed him in all that gives success to the uttered harangue. As an author, bating that they cannot fairly be compared
who died at ages so different, an entire superiority must, on the other hand, be assigned to Burke-the more especially as his speeches belong rather to written than to spoken eloquence. As a great political philosopher again-we mean a statesman and politician in the largest and best sense, and not a metaphysician and sophister of public things, such as we could name if it were worth while the palm over all moderns, except the mighty Florentine secretary, must be assigned to Burke. But here again, in favour of one whose legislative career on a sufficient theatre was so short and yet ennobled by such admirable speeches-one of which, in particular (that on the Sub-Treasury) need shun the comparison of ability with none of Burke's-large allowances must be made for inferior age or occasion or audience. The various papers of Legaré on the Democratic politics of Greece are of a merit at least approaching to that of the productions which constitute Burke's superiority-his several discourses on the French Revolution. Now, these were written under all the advantages of a present event the most agitating and appalling, by a man above 60; and those by one full 20 years younger. In the cast of their genius, of their public virtues, and even, in no small degree of their opinions, they were much alike. Originally, the American's tendency was to the investing philosophic thought and what may be called intellectual passion in a diction ornate and imaginative, like Burke's. In his progress of practice and thought, however, he turned this gorgeousness of a strong imagination to its legitimate and merely occasional office; and arrived at a manner more vigorous, by dint of being simpler and purer. His style grew to be for use that of Fox, for richness-where richness could be permitted--that of Burke. In a word, he became of a true vehemence, a Demosthenian severity and fire; while Burke, rarely addressing tumultuary audiences, never shook off his almost unvarying Ciceronian pomp. Let us, however, return to our narrative, perhaps already interrupted too much.
For what cause he was now, somewhere in his eleventh year, translated from the school of so able a master to another, we do not learn. Probably enough it was out of a special personal admiration for the gentleman (Mr. Mitchell King, afterwards an eminent lawyer and not long since, under circumstances signally honorable, Recorder and Judge of the City Court of Charleston*) then at the head of the lat
* The remarkable trait of beneficence here alluded to cannot be more authentically given than in the subjoined statement of the Charleston Courier. We our
ter-the High School as it really was, of Charleston. It has since risen into what it was originally, in 1785, incorporated to be, the local college of that very cultivated city; and through fortunes suffering long under what may be called the competition of its state, with its abundantly endowed institution at Columbia, now flourishes, under not a numerous but a highly efficient Faculty and the presidency of one who conciliates for it a deserved esteem.
Under Mr. King's care, every way enlightened and affectionate, young Legaré remained between 12 and 18 months, that is, until he had completed his 13th year. From the lessons of one not destined to teach until his own knowledge had congealed into that of the mere pedagogue, but of a better, freer, more general scholarship, fit to be, as it presently became in Mr. K. the instrument of high active pursuits, his pupil cannot have failed to derive if not a large addition to his positive knowledge, yet much as to the taste, spirit and aims that were to give it life. Certain it is that they formed for each other a regard which continued faithfully through life and
selves had, in another form, spoken of the fact upon distant and inexact information, as follows.
"Mr. King, after a laborious life, distinguished as much by merit as by success, has crowned a long professional career by accepting, in a very singular manner, a high judicial appointment, of which the salary is appropriated to the support of the almost destitute family of his predecessor.”—American Review, No. 10. p. 417.
The Courier of Oct. 25. 1845, supplies a correcter and minuter account of the circumstances:
"The tribute to Judge King is one richly merited by that erudite scholar, eminent lawyer and benevolent gentleman; but is somewhat inaccurate in detail. He is not still the incumbent of the judicial chair (as one would infer from the tense in which the reviewer speaks), which benevolence and public spirit alone induced him to occupy only for a season. When the late estimable Judge Axson, Recorder of the City and Judge of the City Court of Charleston, was providentially struck down by paralysis, in the prime of life and usefulness, Judge King, at great personal sacrifice and inconvenience, kindly accepted the office of Additional Recorder, and discharged the duties of the station gratuitously, in order that Judge Axson might continue in the full receipt of his salary; and, on the death of that lamented functionary, he consented to serve for a few months longer, receiving the salary only to bestow it on the family of the deceased-and then, voluntarily vacated the office to resume his suspended professional engagements and literary pursuits."
Merely as an author, and quite apart from the personal regard in which we have cause to hold this excellent gentleman, we rejoice to be able to brighten our page with an act of such singular disinterestedness: