« PreviousContinue »
fest depreciation of the lawyers of the old States is to be attributed to the exodus to the more attractive fields of our young
Brains have not long to wait for employment in the Territories; they are in constant demand, and always at a premium. Money goes a great way, but it can not forever buy mediocrity into office. There are too many competitors for the prizes, and in fact too much capital in the hands of able men to give an inferior man a superior chance. No doubt money decides many a contest, but the winner is nearly always fit to fill the place he secures. As the opportunities for wealth increase with the chances for preferment, you may prepare for a new rush to the Territories without parallel. We are, in fact, in the mere infancy of development. Marvelous as the contrast is between the present and the past, it is as nothing to the contrast between the present and the near future. Our progress has many opulent worlds to redeem and some to conquer from our neighbors. Men like Senators Nye and Stewart, of Nevada, Governor Evans, of Colorado, Governor McCormick, of Arizona, Ben Holliday, of Oregon, and W. C. Rallston, of California, fortunate and honored as they are, will be succeeded by intellects as marked, and by success as brilliant; and most of us will live to see it for ourselves, and to realize that, however heavy the reinforcements, there is room enough and reward enough for all.
[October 6, 1872.]
Now we add to the catalogue of the suddenly called the name of the beloved William Prescott Smith, of Baltimore, who died last Tuesday evening, October 1, in his forty-eighth year. It seems only yesterday that I rode with him to Philadelphia,
WILLIAM PRESCOTT SMITH.
the time passing swiftly under the influence of his pathos and humor. I can recall no character that filled a larger space with brighter gifts. He was in every respect an original man, a combination and a form indeed of most diversified qualities. For many years identified with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and lately recalled to an important position in its management, he was as accurate in his business aptitudes as he was genial in social and literary circles. Successful alike in his dealings with the stern chiefs of great enterprises, he was beloved by all his associates and subordinates, and when he turned from work, to rest from his official duties, to books and the fine arts, he was a companion for scholars and statesmen. Nature had endowed him with a rarely handsome form and features. His manners were unusually fascinating ; his tastes were cultivated and refined ; his memory acute and tenacious; his knowledge of men most thorough. Modest and retiring, he bore himself like a prince in every presence. His ambition seemed to be to make others happy. In society always a universal favorite, and invited every where, his wit shone and sparkled, but never stung. He had no enmities and few enemies, never mixed in politics, and conciliated the affection and confidence of most antagonistic elements. His genius was as marked in the hard attritions of railroad competition as in the skill with which he invented the means of intellectual enjoyment. To soften asperities, to smooth the pathway of life, to befriend the distressed, and to help forward poor young men, these were his chosen ambitions. His mind was instinctively elevated, and when he threw off his daily cares it was surprising to note the variety and purity of his comic talent. Who that ever witnessed his imitations and his burlesques can recall one that approached vulgarity? I remember our voyage across the Atlantic, our rambles through England, and our experiences in France ; how fresh and everrenewing his fun; how vivid his perceptions; how full and ripe his knowledge as he reviewed it in the famous historical places;
and how, when he longed for home, he would brighten the gloom with some fitting story, or mimic one of the many
odd foreigners around us. He was naturally considerate and unselfish, and his deafness made me always anxious to amuse him by that which pleased his eye; but he would anticipate me by taking tickets for the theatre or the lecture-room, and, though he could scarcely hear a word, would appear to enjoy himself like others. He had a habit of ridiculing politicians by making speeches in which he would travestie their manners and make them express thoughts exactly opposite to their own. No comedy ever surpassed these capital scenes, and when he had his friends around him at his own house, he delighted to surprise them by some entertainment, always novel and yet always pointed with a moral. Who can ever forget his Washington's Farewell Address in the Revolutionary costume of the Father of his Country? It was a composition worthy of Boucicault or Dick
These and his books were the pleasures of his leisure hours. And now our friend, so full of health and hope only a few days ago, is laid away among his fathers. Lost to us his beaming smile, his splendid form, his grace, his courtesy, his flowing humor, his gentleness, and his generosity ; every thing gone but their memory, which will live long in the hearts of thousands who were made happy by his own happy nature, and better by a native toleration and affection at once impartial and sincere.
[October 6, 1872.]
PRESIDENTIAL elections are proverbially uncertain until the October contests are decided, and many conflicting hopes are entertained by rival parties. The exultation of the victors and
the disappointment of the vanquished are naturally extreme. Never shall I forget the exciting struggle in 1844, when James K. Polk defeated Henry Clay. The rejoicing of the Democrats and the agony of the Whigs of Philadelphia were literally terrific. Francis R. Shunk had been elected Governor of Pennsylvania in the previous October by a small majority, and the struggle in November was intense. Immense sums were hazarded by the betting men; but when the October fiat was pronounced in Pennsylvania, the verdict in November was decided. It also practically decided the fate of the Whigs as a party. Mr. Clay was regarded as so far superior to Mr. Polk that the triumph of the latter was accepted as the recognition of a mere politician and the degradation of a great statesman. The Kentuckian never recovered from it. His real chance was lost in 1840, when Harrison was elected over Van Buren, and I was not surprised at his violence after his party had preferred a military availability, so graphically described by Henry A. Wise in his biography of John Tyler, just published by J. B. Lippincott. There was no actual contest in 1848, for the Democrats were divided between Cass and Van Buren, and General Taylor had an easy time of it. In 1852 the Whigs made their last stand as a party. Having set Mr. Clay aside in 1844, they ignored Webster for Scott in 1852, and broke the heart of the great New Englander. Pierce literally walked over the course, aided by hosts of angry Whigs. But in 1856 the old fires were relighted. The Republicans came on the stage that year in great force, openly flying the banner of anti-slavery, and they would have won but for the pledges of the Democratic candidate of justice to Kansas. ' The October fight in 1856 in Pennsylvania decided the Presidency. The Democratic majority was small, but it did the work in November. In 1860 there was again not much of a struggle, for there was a hopeless division among the Democrats, who from that time began to grow weaker and weaker, until their folly ripened into the rebellion.
That overthrown, the drama was soon ended. Their single hope of recovery, after General Grant's inevitable re-election, is to accept Republican ideas in full, and to earn the confidence of the country by long and honest devotion to them.
Equanimity in defeat is as pleasant, and yet as difficult to exercise, as magnanimity in victory. A good story is told of the veteran Major Noah, of New York, who, after having been several times chosen to a valuable local office, lost renomination and ran as a stump candidate, and was badly beaten. His negro man, not realizing the event, and not understanding that the groans of the nocturnal visitors to the Major's mansion were any different from their cheers of former times when they came to congratulate him on his triumph, rushed to his master's study, exclaiming, “The boys are at the door, and want to see you.” “Give them my respects, Sam,” was the good-natured reply, “and tell them they have left the Democratic party.” Mr. Clay once sarcastically announced to Van Buren, while the latter was Vice-President, a great Whig triumph, upon which Van Buren left the chair, and, walking to the Kentucky Senator's seat, took a pinch of snuff out of his box, and then drew himself up directly in front of him and heard him through. I saw Judge Douglas in the House of Representatives in February of 1861, while the electoral votes were being counted, announcing his defeat and Lincoln's election, and could not sufficiently admire his bonhomie and wit. It was a period of painful suspense. Breckinridge, as Vice-President, was president of the convention of the two houses, and had himself been defeated for the first office in the nation. Many of the Southern Senators and members had left their seats in advance of the formal act of secession, and some of those who remained were glowering over the constitutional act of recording the vote of the people in favor of the abolitionist, Abraham Lincoln. They had a special hatred of Douglas, whose refusal to yield to Breckinridge had given the election to Lincoln ; but how well he bore