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would rival the fame of Crichton, Walton, Pocock, Sir William Jones, Mezzofanti, or any of the great English or continental linguists. Some of the accounts, indeed, of his feats at this day are so remarkable that I am disposed to regard them as legendary, such as the stories told of Buddha and Mahomet, the first of whom is said, at the age of ten years, to have taught his master Babourenon, fifty non-Indian tongues and their respective characters, while the second, according to his biographer Prideaux, was promised before the throne of the most High that he “ should have the knowledge of all languages.”
At the period, when he left Princeton, his personal appearance was that of one who had grown too rapidly into manhood. He was tall and slender. In his movements, however, he was easy, graceful, and firm, withal showing the nobleness of his origin. His hair and complexion were light brown, the forehead broad and expansive, his nose aquiline his eyes dark blue and brilliant, and the appearance of his whole person pleasing and dignified. His mind had rapidly expanded at Princeton, and he now showed a keen penetration, clear judgment, and comprehensive intellect. He added to these the talent of wit and ridicule in a remarkable degree, recited admirably, possessed a rich fund of anecdote, an easy flow of words, and high animal spirits, and improvised verses and epigrams. The first efforts of his genius, in fact, seemed to be in the direction of the muses. Unrestrained at this early day by the coldness of argument
and the confinement of rules, his mind seemed gladly to indulge in flights of imagination, a thing not uncommon with men of genius. Indeed an early taste for the beauties of poetical composition is in my opinion an almost infallible mark of a refined and elegant mind. Cicero, Valerius, Cato and other ancient philosophers, orators, and historians, are known to have sacrificed to the muses in their earlier productions This talent for versification sometimes led him into difficulties. On one occasion, previous to his return to Yale, he wrote some verses upon an entertainment given by an old lady of Staunton. She was a connection of the family, and he had been accustomed to call her aunt, though she was really no relative. At this party, to the surprise of the small fry, and the disgust of the young gentlemen, the only wine supplied was made by herself from the blackberry, a favourite fruit which flourishes in Augusta. The gay youths expected to sip the juice of the grape in the form of sparkling champagne. This domestic wine is an excellent summer drink, but was not what the fashionable boys expected. When their host provided it, she considered that she was not only conferring a favour, but paying them a compliment. Her well known hospitality, at all events, excluded the idea that in proffering it she was influenced by any mean considerations of economy. “Young America,” however, was dissatisfied with the change. These youths were decidedly of the opinion of Diogenes, who, when asked what wine he preferred, answered, “the foreign."
The thirsty popinjays of that day were as fond as those of our generation of the glass which not only exhilarates, but inebriates, and felt the slight in two ways. Their pride was stung, their wrath kindled, and their thirst remained unslaked, at least by the desired champagne. Consequently they set their wits together to be avenged, and persuaded William Peyton to compose a few stanzas, as they expressed it, “suitable to the occasion." Without a moment's reflection, and evidently while inspired by the Blackberry cordial, he complied with their wishes. His lines began somewhat after this fashion :
This blackberry wine is all very fine,
Probably my reader loses nothing by reason of my inability to procure a copy of these lines, which proceeded in a comical vein to eulogize the home-made beverage, but ridiculed its heady qualities, and the wine itself in comparison with vin etranger. The verses ran through the town, causing no small merriment. Coming finally with the author's name to the knowledge of the old lady, her wrath was kindled. The verses were sent her by a marplot. She put on her spectacles and proceeded to read them, and, though her anger waxed hot, she could not help exclaiming, as one happy joke after another flashed upon her sight, “ Marvellous boy ! marvellous boy.” The improvisator called some days later, before his departure for college, when she had somewhat recovered her temper, and in a graceful manner made his peace with his old friend by
explaining the simple circumstances under which the jeu d'esprit was perpetrated. Thus, by a display of that frankness and candour which formed so prominent a part of his character, and which education and cultivation only rendered more conspicuous, he disarmed her resentment. Her sense of injury removed, she laughed as heartily as anyone at the vexation of the young people and the sparkling wit of the Quixotic bard. A few weeks later, when he left to resume his academic duties, he was supplied by this generous friend with a case of her best “ blackberry," with which, in the midst of his college fellows, he often drank to her health and long life.
It is obvious from this incident that he did not then belong, if he ever did, to that rare class who are never foolish even when they are young ; who never cry out when they are hurt ; never are driven out of their course by adverse winds, and are always able to see that every thing is for the best. Such people in this world of troubles are not only rare but blessed, and are very unlike the rest of us, who cry out a great deal, and are very foolish generally, not only when we are young, but all our lives.
WERE I detailing the life of one whose career had been eventful, I should not occupy the space given in this chapter with what might prove of little interest to the reader. But as few lives worth recording are more devoid of incident, it is not expected that this simple record of his will be adapted to the tastes of those who enjoy only what is now termed sensational reading. As I neither write for, nor expect to please, this class, I shall not omit such minor occurrences in his career as may appear likely to prove useful and interesting to others.
On a fine sunny afternoon of early September, in the year 1825, two young gentlemen dressed in shooting costume were lying on the grass beneath the outstretched branches of an old walnut. This venerable tree threw its grateful shade over an ancient stone building covered with woodbine, honeysuckle, and grape vines, and from which a gurgling stream issued forth. Their fowling-pieces and game-bags were by their sides. This house protected the bubbling spring from which