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demeanor and official gravity may become the profession in these comfortable days of its existence; but in those by-gone times, when the Judge and the lawyer mounted their horses, and rode one and two hundred miles to a Court, and then to another and another yet, and through woods, following merely a bridal-path, crossing the swollen streams upon their horses while swimming, and thrown together at night into a small cabin, the school of Democritus had far more disciples among them than that of Heraclitus. I have certainly been in much greater peril since, but with respect to a real "nonplush ”—(my Western friends will understand me)—the crowning incident of my life was upon the bank of the Scioto Salt Creek, suddenly raised by a heavy rain, in which I had been unhorsed by the breaking of the saddle-girths. My steed was a bad swimmer, who, instead of advancing after losing his footing, amused himself by sinking to the bottom, and then leaping with his utmost force; and this new equestrian feat he continued, till rider, saddle, saddle-bags, and blankets were thrown into the water, and the recusant animal emerged upon one side of the creek, and the luckless traveller crawled out upon the other, as he best could—while the luggage commenced its journey for New Orleans. It appears to me now, that a more dripping spectacle of despair was never exhibited, than I presented, while surveying, many miles from a house, this shipwreck of my travelling fortunes.
These, however, were the troubles of the day; but oh, they were recompensed by the comforts of the evening, when the hospitable cabin and the warm fire greeted the traveller !—when a glorious supper was spread before him—turkey, venison, bear's meat, fresh butter, hot corn. bread, sweet potatoes, apple sauce, and pumpkin butter! The sturdy English moralist may talk of a Scotch supper as he pleases, but he who never sat down to that meal in the West forty years ago, has never seen the perfection of gastronomy.
And then the animated conversation succeeded by a floor and a blanket, and a refreshing sleep!
The primitive court-house built of logs, and neither chinked nor daubed, but with respectable interstices big enough to allow the passage of a man, is another permanent object in this group of recollections. And in this sanctuary, as well as in the public houses, the Court and Bar, and suitors and witnesses, were mingled in indescribable confusion.
Strange scenes sometimes occurred under these circumstances; and a characteristic anecdote is told of General Jackson, in a situation where he displayed his usual firmness, by compelling the submission of a noisy braggadocio who had interrupted the Court, and successfully resisted the efforts of the officers to apprehend him.
I recollect a similar incident which took place in a small village upon the banks of the Ohio. The Court was in session, and the presiding
officer was a Colonel P., a man of great resolution, and of a herculean frame. A person entered the Court Cabin, and by his noise put a stop to the proceedings. He was ordered out, and the Sheriff attempted to remove him; but he put himself upon his “ reserved rights," and made such a vigorous resistance, that the officer retired from the contest. Colonel P. thereupon descended from the bench, coolly took off his coat, gave the brawler a severe beating, and after putting him out of the house, resumed his garment and his seat, and continued his judicial functions.
As I may never have so favorable an opportunity of relating another anecdote characteristic of these times, and which I have long preserved in my memory, I will inflict it upon you now. The principal actor in the scene was my early, and has been my constant, friend, and is yet pursuing his profession in the northern part of Ohio, respected by all who know him. Should these sketches meet his eye, while they recall one of the laughable scenes of his youth, they will recall, I hope, the memory of the writer.
This gentleman was engaged in a cause which came on for trial, but in which I have always suspected he was not prepared. He rose from his seat, and gravely observed, that his client was ready, but that really the members of the Court were too much intoxicated—(he used a worse word than that)-to perform their duties, and he therefore moved their “Honors ” to adjourn. For my own part, I did not believe the charge —at any rate to the extent thus boldly made; and I thought the object of my free spoken friend was, by the aid of a little confusion, to retire from the field with his cause untried and his honor untouched. The matter passed off as a good joke—the Court actually adjourning--and the story is perhaps yet preserved among the judicial traditions of Wood County in Western Virginia.
Thomas Hart Benton.
BORN near Hillsborough, N. C., 1782. Died in Washington, D. C., 1858.
THE DUEL BETWEEN RANDOLPH AND CLAY.
[Thirty Years' View; or, A History of the Working of the American Government for
Thirty Years. 1854.)
come, and almost the hour. It was noon, and the meeting was to
take place at 43 o'clock. I had gone to see Mr. Randolph before the hour, and for a purpose; and, besides, it was so far on the way, as he lived half-way to Georgetown, and we had to pass through that place to cross the Potomac into Virginia at the Little Falls Bridge. I had heard nothing from him on the point of not returning the fire since the first communication to that effect, eight days before. I had no reason to doubt the steadiness of his determination, but felt a desire to have fresh assurance of it after so many days' delay, and so near approach of the trying moment I knew it would not do to ask him the question-any question which would imply a doubt of his word. His sensitive feelings would be hurt and annoyed at it. So I fell upon a scheme to get at the inquiry without seeming to make it. I told him of my visit to Mr. Clay the night before—of the late sitting—the child asleep—the unconscious tranquillity of Mrs. Clay; and added, I could not help reflecting how different all that might be the next night. He understood me perfectly, and immediately said, with a quietude of look and expression which seemed to rebuke an unworthy doubt, I shall do nothing to disturb the sleep of the child or the repose of the mother, and went on with his employment—(his seconds being engaged in their preparations in a different room)—which was, making codicils to his will, all in thie way of remembrance to friends; the bequests slight in value, but invaluable in tenderness of feeling and beauty of expression, and always appropriate to the receiver. To Mr. Macon he gave some English shillings, to keep the game when he played whist. His namesake, John Randolph Bryan, then at school in Baltimore, and since married to his niece, had been sent for to see him, but sent off before the hour for going out, to save the boy from a possible shock at seeing him brought back. He wanted some gold—that coin not being then in circulation, and only to be obtained by favor or purchase—and sent his faithful man, Johnny, to the United States Branch Bank to get a few pieces, American being the kind asked for. Johnny returned without the gold, and delivered the excuse that the bank had none. Instantly Mr. Randolph's clear silver-toned voice was heard above its natural pitch, exclaiming, “Their name is legion! and they are liars from the beginning. Johnny, bring me my horse." His own saddle-horse was brought him for he never rode Johnny's, nor Johnny his, though both, and all his hundred horses, were of the finest English blood-and rode off to the bank down Pennsylvania Avenue, now Corcoran & Riggs's—Johnny following, as always, forty paces behind. Arrived at the bank, this scene, according to my informant, took
“Mr. Randolph asked for the state of his account, was shown it, and found to be some four thousand dollars in his favor. He asked for it. The teller took up packages of bills, and civilly asked in what sized notes
he would have it. 'I want money,' said Mr. Randolph, putting emphasis on the word; and at that time it required a bold man to intimate that United States Bank notes were not money. The teller, beginning to understand him, and willing to make sure, said, inquiringly, You want silver ?' 'I want my money!' was the reply. Then the teller, lifting boxes to the counter, said politely: · Have you a cart, Mr. Randolph, to put it in?' . That is my business, sir,' said he. By that time the attention of the cashier (Mr. Richard Smith) was attracted to what was going on, who came up, and understanding the question, and its cause, told Mr. Randolph there was a mistake in the answer given to his servant; that they had gold, and he should bave what he wanted.”
In fact, he had only applied for a few pieces, which he wanted for a special purpose. This brought about a compromise. The pieces of gold were received, the cart and the silver dispensed with; but the account in bank was closed, and a check taken for the amount on New-York. He returned and delivered me a sealed paper, which I was to open if he was killed-give back to him if he was not; also an open slip, which I was to read before I got to the ground. This slip was a request to feel in his left breeches pocket, if he was killed, and find so many pieces of goldI believe nine-take three for myself, and give the same number to Tat. nall and Hamilton each, to make seals to wear in remembrance of him We were all three at Mr. Randolph's lodgings then, and soon set out, Mr. Randolph and his seconds in a carriage, I following him on horseback.
I have already said that the count was to be quick after giving the word "fire," and for a reason which could not be told to the principals. To Mr. Randolph, who did not mean to fire, and who, though agreeing to be shot at, had no desire to be hit, this rapidity of counting out the time and quick arrival at the command “stop” presented no objection. With Mr. Clay it was different. With him it was all a real transaction, and gave rise to some proposal for more deliberateness in counting off the time; which being communicated to Col. Tatnall, and by him to Mr. Randolph, had an ill effect upon his feelings, and, aided by an untoward accident on the ground, unsettled for a moment the noble determination which he had formed not to fire at Mr. Clay. I now give the words of Gen. Jesup:
“When I repeated to Mr. Clay the word' in the manner in which it would be given, he expressed some apprehension that, as he was not accustomed to the use of the pistol, he might not be able to fire within the time, and for that reason alone desired that it might be prolonged. I mentioned to Col. Tatnall the desire of Mr. Clay. He replied, 'If
you insist upon it, the time must be prolonged, but I should very much regret it.' I informed him I did not insist upon prolonging the time, and I was sure Mr. Clay would acquiesce. The original agreement was carried out."
I knew nothing of this until it was too late to speak with the seconds or principals. I had crossed the Little Falls bridge just after them, and come to the place where the servants and carriages had stopped. I saw none of the gentlemen, and supposed they had all gone to the spot where the ground was being marked off ; but on speaking to Johnny, Mr. Randolph, who was still in his carriage and heard my voice, looked out from the window, and said to me: “Colonel, since I saw you, and since I have been in this carriage, I have heard something which may make me change my determination. Col. Hamilton will give you a note which will explain it.” Col. Hamilton was then in the carriage, and gave me the note, in the course of the evening, of which Mr. Randolph spoke. I readily comprehended that this possible change of determination related to his firing; but the emphasis with which he pronounced the word “may” clearly showed that his mind was undecided, and left it doubtful whether he would fire or not. No further conversation took place between us; the preparations for the duel were finished; the parties went to their places; and I went forward to a piece of rising ground, from which I could see what passed and hear what was said. The faithful Johnny followed me close, speaking not a word, but evincing the deepest anxiety for his beloved master. The place was a thick forest, and the immediate spot a little depression, or basin, in which the parties stood. The principals saluted each other courteously as they took their stands. Col. Tatnall had won the choice of position, which gave to Gen. Jesup the delivery of the word. They stood on a line east and west-a small stump just behind Mr. Clay; a low gravelly bank rose just behind Mr. Randolph. This latter asked Gen. Jesup to repeat the word as he would give it; and while in the act of doing so, and Mr. Randolph adjusting the butt of his pistol to his hand, the muzzle pointing downward, and almost to the ground, it fired. Instantly Mr. Randolph turned to Col. Tatnall and said: “I protested against that hair-trigger.” Col. Tatnall took blame to himself for having sprung the hair. Mr. Clay had not then received his pistol. Senator Johnson, of Louisiana (Josiah), one of his seconds, was carrying it to him, and still several steps from him. This untimely fire, though clearly an accident, necessarily gave rise to some remarks, and a species of inquiry, which was conducted with the utmost delicacy, but which, in itself, was of a nature to be inexpressibly painful to a gentleman's feelings. Mr. Clay stopped it with the generous remark that the fire was clearly an accident: and it was so unanimously declared. Another pistol was immediately furnished; and exchange of shots took place, and, happily, without effect upon the persons. Mr. Randolph's bullet struck the stump behind Mr. Clay, and Mr. Clay's knocked up the earth and gravel behind Mr. Randolph, and in a line with the level of his hips, both bullets having gone so true and close