STUDYING LAW, 1842-1845 -- AT COLUMBUS AND AT THE
HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
Columbus, November , 1842.
MY DEAR LITTLE DIARY: -- You have not heard a word from
me for six or eight months. How anxious you must be
lest I have been "worked off." But cease your troubling. I have
not yet "shuffled off this mortal coil"; but I have finished my
college life, and one of the shreds or strands of the "coil" is
severed. Yes, my dearest, college scenes and pleasures have all
passed by, and you shall hear no more of the petty strifes, wild
sports, and extravagant desires which make up the sum of a
I have parted from the friends I loved best, and am now
struggling to enter the portals of the profession in which is locked
up the passport which is to conduct me to all that I am destined
to receive in life. The entrance is steep and difficult, but my
chiefest obstacles are within myself. If I knew and could
master myself, all other difficulties would vanish. To overcome
long-settled habits, one has almost to change "the stamp of
nature"; but bad habits must be changed and good ones formed
in their stead, or I shall never find the pearls I seek. Of these
matters you shall hear more at another time. For know that I
design to make you the repository of all my secrets, the confi-
dential friend before whom I shall spread my troubles and diffi-
culties, my hopes and fears, and to whom I shall resort whenever
whim or inclination prompts me to make a transcript of my
thoughts. You may, therefore, expect to hear sundry things con-
cerning my progress in the study of law, and my ideas generally
of the things around me. Do not feel any disgust at the apparent
egotism which will characterize my epistles, for I tell you in ad-
vance, that I am the hero and principal character of every scene;
108 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and at every future rising of the curtain the tallest feather shall
overshadow my brow and the brightest jewel will glitter in my
I commenced the study of law in the office of Sparrow and
Matthews the 17th of October last. Blackstone's "Commenta-
ries" occupy my attention first.
Columbus November 19, 1842.--Another week has passed,
and a careful man should post his books every Saturday night
to know how he stands with his customers. This is the rule for
a business man. Is it of no importance to the student to know
how he stands with his books, himself, and the world without?
If dollars and cents are worthy a merchant's long train of ac-
counts, are no memoranda needed by the student to ascertain
how he has improved each hour as it passed? Shall he alone
neglect to balance his books? No, no. To him "time is money"
--nay, more than money. Gold that's lost, renewed exertion
may regain, but time once fled is gone forever. Then, let me give
an impartial statement of what I have done, and what I have
left undone, not only during the week past, but also during the
whole month since I commenced the study of law.
I have read upwards of seven hundred and fifty pages of
Blackstone, being an average of more than one hundred and fifty
pages per week; also fifty pages of Chillingworth, an average of
ten pages per week; also one hundred and fifty pages of logic,
an average of thirty pages per week. Five pages of German
committed to memory, together with the general rules of gram-
mar and construction which applied. Besides this, I have read a
good deal of what may be denominated trash, and which has
been injurious. Some one hundred or one hundred and fifty
pages of Milton and Shakespeare may be reckoned as offset to
a portion of the above-mentioned "trash."
The quantity of information contained in the pages read, if
once acquired, would be a sufficient reward for the cost in
labor and time. If the amount passed over is only considered,
my month's work has been a good one, and a large balance ap-
pears in my favor. But there is another element which should
enter into this account, viz., the manner in which the work has
STUDYING LAW, COLUMBUS, 1842 109
been executed. In order to ascertain this, it is necessary to say
something of the end in view, and then we may speak of its
In studying Blackstone's "Commentaries," the object should
be twofold--legal information and mental discipline; and suc-
cess in the attainment of one of these ends implies success in the
other. If mental discipline is totally neglected, little legal infor-
mation will be acquired, and vice versa. The important powers
to be disciplined in studying a work like Blackstone, are the mem-
ory and attention. The other great powers of the mind, as ap-
prehension, judgment, and reasoning, are of necessity called into
action. But Blackstone's style is so clear that his meaning is
seldom obscure, and he is so prespicuous in the statement of the
reasons for what he says and in his explanations, that great ex-
ertion is not requisite to comprehend him. As it is all plain read-
ing, the attention is the only power especially exercised. If this
is well done the memory by natural consequence will be engaged.
Thus much for what should be done. Now to what has been
My attention has not been so exercised as to acquire the in-
formation and discipline which would satisfy my desire. And
consequently I am not satisfied with my month's work in Black-
My chief object in studying Chillingworth is to discipline the
reasoning faculty. I found my task easier than I anticipated, and
accomplished more than I expected to when I commenced. Yet
I have not done as much as I now know I could have done. On
the whole, this account balances.
In the study of logic, my object being only to refresh my mem-
ory, was accomplished. In German I have made respectable
progress, but I must do better in future. In my miscellaneous
reading I have been injured by permitting mself to read news-
papers. I must curb my propensity to this as I find it no benefit.
I am satisfied that for this month I have been greatly deficient
in many particulars. I have studied long enough each day and
each week throughout the whole month. I have passed over
sufficient ground. The deficiency is in the execution. My rules
for the ensuing month shall be made out soon.
110 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
November 26, 1842.--The first volume of Blackstone has
been finished since last Saturday and I have commenced the
second, with a full determination to read it with more attention
than I have heretofore given to my law reading. German daily
grows more interesting and I begin to long for the time when
I can read it with facility.
Chillingworth has been neglected for the ladies, not because I
love the society of the ladies better than his, but because the
tyrant necessity compelled me to abandon his "great argument."
I shall commence it again next week. My rules for the month
First. Read no newspapers.
Second. Rise at seven and retire at ten.
Third. Study Law six hours, German two, and Chillingworth
Fourth. In reading Blackstone's "Commentaries," to record
CAMBRIDGE, August 27, .
DEAR MOTHER:--I did not keep a diary while travelling
from the West, but I can easily give you an account of my perilous
adventures and hairbreadth escapes. Like St. Paul, I have passed
through dangers by sea and perils by land. We had several
alterations in the weather, sunshine a little, storms frequently,
and rains oftentimes.
At Sandusky City I saw Will Lane and spent a few minutes
with him. He urged me to decide on staying here a year and
a half, as he is coming in a year and would like to spend a few
months here with me. I met Julia Buttles on the boat on her
way to Cleveland; spent the first evening on the lake very
pleasantly in her company.
At Buffalo I gallanted Mrs. Pease on her first shopping ex-
cursion to the fancy stores, gave her what little instruction I
could in that most important accomplishment of city ladies--
shopping, found her a very quick and ready scholar. In fact,
she soon excelled her teacher. If she could take a few lessons
from Cousin Sarah she would easily become proficient. At
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 111
Buffalo I left the wedding couple on account of my anxiety to
reach here by Commencement, which I learned was to take place
in a few days.
I stopped at Niagara. I spent three hours rambling about the
falls. I should like to spend a week thus, and will the first good
opportunity I have. To be appreciated and enjoyed, the falls
should be studied as much as any other great poetical wonder (as
Milton or Shakespeare). I was disappointed in the first impres-
sion. At a glance, it appeared like a sort of mill-dam affair.
The "second sight" altered the impression for the better. The
third--but, as Mr. Vandeman would say, "and so on."
The Lake Ontario route I like very much; fine boats, fine
towns, and beautiful scenery are not the only attractions. From
Oswego to Boston the travelling was by canal and railroad, slow
and swift, monotonous and changing, but nothing to attract par-
ticular attention except the passengers of which we had the usual
variety--old women with squalling children and old maids with
barking poodles, young men with foppish airs and young women
with silly smiles and sillier tongues, crazy students, and all cre-
ation driven by the cold rains from Saratoga gambling home,
complaining of all the ills of flesh from the gout to the headache;
groanings over lost umbrellas, crushed bandboxes, and wet
weather. In short, there were all sorts of men and all sorts of
women, in all sorts of humours and with all sorts of troubles,
which afforded me material for all sorts of reflection and all
sorts of fun.
All in good time I reached Cambridge, found acquaintances
who treated me like gentlemen, got a room and boarding-place
to suit, was introduced to the professors with whom I am much
pleased, and was duly registered as a law student. The first
studying will be done tomorrow.
The commencement exercises were interesting; not better than
the best average of Kenyon exhibitions. The ceremonies were
very imposing. All the great men of this State except Webster
were present. John Quincy Adams looks exactly as his pictures
represent him. He appeared to enjoy himself well. No man
applauded more heartily when anything good was said. A fine
address was delivered before one of the Societies by Mr. Hillard.
112 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
This is a beautiful place. I took a walk with my chum to
Mount Auburn. I need not speak of its beauty. Hedges is my
roommate. Eight Buckeyes are here, old acquaintances. Three
of the Middletown lads of Webb's. MacNeil took his room last
night. Judge Swan, I saw in Boston. His son entered college.
I am well pleased here. My table is too low to write on. Ex-
cuse scrawl this time. I'll write to Fanny in three weeks. I
shall be kept busy, so don't crowd me by urging me to write
often. I'll do it when I can.
Find out if you can Dickinson's first name. Love to all; a
kiss to Laura without the "No you don't."
Your affectionate son,
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Cambridge, August 28, 1843.--After having studied law for
ten months under friend Sparrow in Columbus, it was deemed
best that I should enter the Law School of Harvard University,
where I could receive the instructions of those eminent jurists
and teachers, Story and Greenleaf. In accordance with this
opinion of myself and friends, I came here and entered the Law
School last week. The term commences today. Whatever reso-
lution and ability I have shall now be brought out. I have much
lost time to regain and my mind to discipline. The institution,
teachers, and students I like. My roommate (Hedges of Tiffin)
is a good one; my other associates (Buckeyes, too,) are of the
right sort. What is then wanting to ensure success in my win-
ter's work? Nothing but my own irresolution or folly. Then--
then; but no, I will not resolve.
Cambridge, August 29, 1843.--Yesterday we heard the intro-
ductory remarks of our learned professors. After speaking of
the object of our assembling, Judge Story proceeded to remark
on the requisites of a finished legal character. He spoke at some
length of the advantage and necessity of possessing complete
control of the temper, illustrating his view with anecdotes of his
own experience and observation. His manner is very pleasant,
betraying great good humor and fondness for jesting. His most
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 113
important directions were: Keep a constant guard upon temper
and tongue. Always have in readiness some of those unmeaning
but respectful formularies, as for example, "The learned gentle-
man on the opposite side," "My learned friend opposite," etc.
When in the library, employ yourself with reading the titles, title
pages, and tables of contents of the books of reports which it con-
tains, and endeavor to get some notion of their relative value.
Read Blackstone again and again--incomparable for the
beauty and chasteness of its style, the amount and profundity of
Harvard, August 31.--"Law is the perfection of human rea-
son, the wisdom of all ages. Whatever is not reason is not law.
If these trite sayings are true, it follows as certainly 'as the night
the day' that precedents must not be slavishly followed, but in
every case reason and justice should prevail, although the strong-
est current of authorities runs to the contrary."
September 1, 1843.--I have now finished my first week in the
Law School. I have studied hard and am confident that my real
gain is as great as I should have had in two weeks in an office.
Our lectures have all the advantages of recitations and lectures
combined, without their disadvantages. We have no formal lec-
tures. Professors Story and Greenleaf illustrate and explain as
they proceed. Mr. Greenleaf is very searching and logical in
examination. It is impossible for one who has not faithfully
studied the text to escape exposing his ignorance; he keeps the
subject constantly in view, never stepping out of his way for the
purpose of introducing his own experience.
Judge Story, on the other hand, is very general in his ques-
tions so that a person well skilled in words affirmative and neg-
ative shakings of the head need never more than glance at the
text to be able to answer his interrogatories. He is very fond of
digressions to introduce amusing anecdotes, high-wrought eulo-
gies of the sages of the law, and fragments of his own expe-
rience. He is generally very interesting, often quite eloquent.
His manner of speaking is almost precisely like that of Corwin.
In short, as a lecturer he is a very different man from what you
would expect of an old and eminent judge; not but that he is
114 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
great, but he is so interesting and fond of good stories. His
amount of knowledge is prodigious. Talk of "many irons in the
fire," why, he keeps up with the news of the day of all sorts from
political to Wellerisms; and new works of all sorts he reads at
least enough to form an opinion of, and all the while enjoys him-
self with a flow of spirits equal to a schoolboy in the holidays.
So, ho! the pleasures of literature are not so small after all.
September 10.--I have visited Mount Auburn, Bunker Hill,
Prospect Hill, and the Navy Yard, and find them all what they
are represented by travellers to be. A bad sentence. I'll say no
more of my trip for fear of making worse.
Moot court was held for the first time today. The arguments
of counsel were certainly very good.
September 16.--The past week has gone too fast. I've learned
too little, wasted too much time, and been too careless in attend-
ing to mental discipline. Although I have read much and heard
much, I can scarcely tell that I know more now than I did one
week ago. Some items I'll drop: "Pleading and evidence a law-
yer should always have at his tongue's end. Chief Justice Mar-
shall was the growth of a century. Providence grants such men
to the human family only on great occasions to accomplish its
own great ends. Such men are found only when our need is the
greatest. Four great judges I have known in my time. I could
not say that one was greater than another; but either was a head
and shoulders taller than any man now living.
"When a young lawyer, I was told by a member of the bar at
which I practiced, who was fifteen years my senior in the pro-
fession, that he wished to consult me in a case of conscience.
Said he: 'You are a young man and I can trust you. I want your
opinion. The case is this: I am engaged in an important cause.
My adversary is an obstinate, self-willed, self-sufficient man, and
I have him completely in my power. I can crush his whole case.
It is in my hand, and he does not know it, does not suspect it.
I can gain the case by taking advantage of this man's ignorance
and overweening confidence. Now, the point is, shall I do it?'
I answered, 'I think not.' 'I think not, too,' he replied, 'I've
determined to go into court tomorrow, show him his error and
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 115
set him right.' He did it. This was forty-five years ago, but
I have never forgotten that act nor that man. He is still living
and I have looked upon him and his integrity as beyond all esti-
mate. I would trust him with untold millions; nay, with life,
with reputation, with all that is dear."--Story.
September 20, 1843.--What I hear during the day and can
recall at night, if worthy of note, I mean to write in a book.
I heard Mr. Jared Sparks lecture on "Colonial History." His
style of writing and [his] delivery are very plain, but his learning
is varied and extensive and his judgment good. He spoke of the
learning, religion, and authors of colonial times. As to what we
call learning, there was next to none in the Colonies. The people
were too busy in clearing land, making roads, and building
churches to think of making great strides in literature. In the
Northern Colonies, common schools were early established; in
the Southern, except South Carolina, they were neglected. The
sons of the wealthy were sent to Oxford and Cambridge. So
that at the South were more fine scholars and more ignorant
citizens than in the North. The first college established was
Harvard; the others founded prior to the Revolution were Yale,
Providence [Brown University], King's (now Columbia),
Princeton, and William and Mary.
There was great religious intolerance in many Colonies. Rhode
Island, under the auspices of Roger Williams, and Maryland,
settled by Catholics, were exceptions and opened wide their
arms to every sect and creed.
The first author of distinction was Cotton Mather--a man of
great talents, extensive reading, and retentive memory, but greatly
deficient in good sense and stability. Unbounded credulity was
his great failing; no tale was too marvellous for his ear. No
ghost story came to his knowledge which was not speedily pub-
lished to enlighten the wise and astonish the ignorant.
Jonathan Edwards was a man of vast abilities, equal to the
ablest men of his time, but much of his time and talents were
[was] spent in fruitless attempts to solve speculative difficulties
in theology. "Vain babblings, strifes of words, philosophy falsely
116 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Benjamin Franklin was the best writer who arose before the
Revolutionary contest called to its aid pens able to contend with
the minds of Europe. His works are the only American writings
[which] deserved the rank of classic till within the last forty
Judge Story said: "A liberal allowance for a lawyer's library
would be ten thousand dollars; for convenience merely, three
thousand dollars would suffice; for necessity, three hundred dol-
lars might answer; and many eminent lawyers have commenced
with less. My library was worth three hundred dollars. All my
means were contained in that, and it exhausted all my means.
The reports have quadrupled and elementary treatises are ten
times as numerous now as in my day.
"Thomas Jefferson said: 'When conversing with Marshall,
I never admit anything. So sure as you admit any position to
be good, no matter how remote from the conclusion he seeks to
establish, you are gone. So great is his sophistry, you must
never give him an affirmative answer, or you will be forced to
grant his conclusion. Why, if he were to ask me whether it were
daylight or not, I'd reply, "Sir, I don't know, I can't tell."'
"A lawyer should never resort to petty tricks to increase his
business. He should not leave 'a celestial bed to prey on garbage.'
Courts will not unravel the threads that are good from the threads
that are bad, but will leave the whole fabric exactly as it was
September 26.--Judge Story in his lecture remarked that,
as a body, lawyers, so far as his observation extended, were more
eminent for morality and a nice sense of honor than any other
class of men. They have the most important and delicate secrets
intrusted to them. They have more power of doing mischief and
are more instrumental in healing family dissensions, neighbor-
hood feuds, and general ill blood than any other profession.
He considers the man who lays a wager on the result of an
election as more an enemy, or rather more dangerous, to public
liberty than the avowed adversary of our institutions. Wagers
tempt men to use corrupt means to gain power, and power cor-
ruptly gained is sure to be corruptly used. The result is a con-
tinual sinking in the scale, worse than despotism, for it is for the
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 117
interest of despots to make matters no worse, while corruption
must increase to secure its ends.
Equity will furnish a remedy to the man who goes wretched
and ruined from the gaming table. So a great wrong shall not
I made a bet today with Hedges that I should be married within
four years of the first of January, 1844. Another with Neil that
he would be married by the time he was twenty-six; each bet, a
present, value twenty-five dollars.
October 2, 1843.--In two more days I shall be twenty-one
In moot court today, a question was discussed involving
the subject of conditional grants of lands. It was intricate
and difficult enough. One learns, or may learn, a great deal by
giving good attention to these discussions. The law is gen-
erally fully spread out, reports ransacked for old cases, opinions,
maxims, dictums, and statutes are all marshalled to give strength
and force to the contending parties. I need not speak of new
knowledge; it was all new, and I have it preserved in my notes.
In Blackstone we passed over nothing worthy of note. Green-
leaf spoke of an inaugural address of Dr. Reynolds, pronounced
on taking the chair of the law department in one of the literary
institutions of South Carolina, as containing something valuable
on the origin of juries. In bailments, nothing singular. In Ger-
man, the same. In short, today, but for the moot court, would
have been barren.
Cambridge, October 7, 1843.--Another week is with "the
years beyond the flood." A few days ago, in the eye of "the
wisdom of all ages," I was a minor without enough discretion to
spend "the millionth part of a mill"; now, in the estimation of
"the perfection of human reason," I am wise and prudent enough
to decide upon matters involving interests more precious than
all "the wealth of Ormus and of Ind." Whence the difference?
Does the lapse of a few short hours transform the headstrong
and headlong child of passion into the cautious, long-sighted,
sensible disciple of experience, soberness, and wisdom? Verily
I know not that. I'm still the same piece of flesh and blood,
118 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
bones and sinews; the same bundle of habits--some very good,
some very bad, and some very indifferent. I have still the same
rudder to shape my course and direct my destiny; the same evil
propensities to mar my hopes and make shipwreck of my happi-
ness; and more valuable than all, though often unheeded, "the
still small voice" which will be heard at some time or another,
at some place or other, however its whisperings may be drowned
in the tumultuous struggles of life and lost in the jar of the pas-
sions. Yes, and my fine spirits are with me to cheer the sinking
spirit in the hour of its fainting and weariness, and my good
stout heart is here, beating time to the tune of life, marking life's
passage, never to cease till it has tolled the knell of life's depar-
Twenty-one! A man in years, a boy in knowledge and wis-
dom. A third of life gone, and the first rudiments yet to be
mastered. But why speak in tones of despondency? Many of
those who have been shining lights in the world of learning were
as ignorant as I am now when no older than I. Yet they had
something in them; aye, and what was the something? Was [it]
aught but resolution? And can I not have that? For the future,
I'll try to do better, in every sense of the good word, than I
ever yet have done.
October 18.--I have seen Colonel Johnson at a repeal meeting
in Faneuil Hall since I last wrote in my weekly. I heard some
speakers in Marlboro Chapel address the Whigs of Boston.
They were good speakers but no better than the good speakers
I intend to write the names of the judges whom Story gives
his opinion of in my record hereafter. It may be of use in
ascertaining the value of various reports.
I attended an exhibition of the junior class yesterday. The
addresses were barely respectable with, perhaps, one exception.
Washington Allston's life and character were the subject of a
fine writer, and a chaste and elegant declaimer. Another address
on the Roman characters of Shakespeare was well written and
delivered in a dashing, offhand style that pleased the audience
vastly better than the stiff, unnatural manner which seems to
characterize the delivery of the most of the students of Harvard.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 119
In a certain case Professor Greenleaf said there was a quid
pro quo, but not much of a quo. Sic, sic.
Cambridge, October 22, 1843.--I visited last evening one
of my former schoolmates, one who was my chum at Middle-
town more than five years ago. He has altered but little in ap-
pearance and still less in character and manners. He is a fine
scholar and possessed of a scholar's feelings and opinions. He
can acquire and retain without great exertion the most difficult
matters in the study of languages and natural science, but cannot
work the material which he has collected with that readiness
which is the true test of mental strength, and which enables the
true intellectual Titans with small supplies to triumph over the
best equipped warriors of the schools. He is a fine fellow; his
faults belong to his training; his virtues are inborn. And with
all his literary taste, and in spite of the natural influences of
education, he looks to nothing more exalted than the life of a
merchant. Strange but true.
What am I doing to prepare myself for the life struggle upon
which I am soon to enter? What have I learned which will
aid me in the severe conflicts through which a lawyer must pass,
and by which he is to be proved before he can reach the higher
walks of his profession? What training of the faculties have I
submitted to, to give them that vigor which is needed to grapple
successfully [with] the difficulties of the most trying profession
known among men? What have I done to give me that refined
and correct taste which is required for success even in the low-
est literary efforts? Alas, to all these and a thousand similar
questions which might be asked, I have but one answer. Noth-
ing, nothing, absolutely nothing. But it is not yet too late. From
henceforth let me bend up my best energies to the great work
of fitting myself to act well my part in the drama of life. Let
not another sun set upon a day which has not added something
to my stock of instruments or my power and skill in using them.
I belong to one law club and one debating club where ques-
tions upon miscellaneous subjects are discussed. Let me never
utter a sentence in either which has not been well weighed, and
found worthy of utterance. In brief, let me in all things work
120 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
with a will, and thus may my year at Cambridge be one of joy
October 25.--Today I made my first argument on a law ques-
tion. I was before a law club formed by seven or eight of the
students for the purpose of improving ourselves in debating and
investigating legal questions. The point discussed was concern-
ing the validity of an agreement by which the pledgee should re-
tain the pledge at a stipulated price if the terms of the contract
were not fulfilled. The question turned more on general reason-
ing than on mere authority. I was poorly prepared and my suc-
cess was in keeping with my preparation. I mean my success
was poor when compared with my own standard, for if the
argument of my learned opponent were the standard, I should
regard mine as tolerably good. My opponent was Atcheson, of
Kentucky; the judge, Foster, of New Hampshire, and the audi-
ence was "respectable though not large," consisting of Bucking-
ham, of my own State, and Russell, of Plymouth. I found my-
self not so ready in thought and expression as when I left Ken-
yon a little over a year ago, since which time I have not exer-
cised my powers in extempore debating. But I hope in a few
weeks to rub off the rust, and be able to [appear] with credit and
success as a good extempore debater. I am to discuss a question
in moot court in about three weeks, and from now till that time
all my exertions shall be bent to come off respectably from that
B. Rolken, our German teacher, gave us today the origin of
the name of the celebrated Swiss song. It is the custom of the
Swiss herdsmen to call their cattle from the hills in the evening
by blowing upon a horn. The herdsmen observed that the
gradations of rank are always observed among cattle, the stout-
est and most venerable bullock or cow always taking the lead,
and the remainder following in regular order in a long train.
This long file is called in German Rang. The name of the file
is by a natural association transferred to the tune which causes
the cattle to move in this singular manner, hence "Ranz des
I heard Mr. J. Q. Adams address the Whigs of Norfolk
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 121
County at Dedham yesterday. His speech contained little politics
but much abolitionism. Some of it was very good, much of it
unreasonable and very unfair. My opinion of the venerable
but deluded old man was not [at] all changed. His speech was
rather dry; contained some good hits and exhibited some sparks
of the internal fires which, when aroused into flame, render him
the impersonation of "the old man eloquent." I do not wonder
that he is regarded as a dangerous adversary in a mere personal
encounter. He is quick, sharp, fearless, and full of the wit and
learning of all ages. He is not at all times an interesting or
eloquent speaker, but when aroused by the repeated attacks, the
sneers and taunts of his bitter foes, he is truly a most formid-
October 27.--Hoffman, in his "Law Studies," gives a number
of resolutions proper for a law student to make on setting out
on his journey into the dreary wilderness (the figure is true if
not in good taste) of the law. He prescribes a course of study,
which, if adopted and faithfully pursued, cannot fail to render a
man an able lawyer. Now, why not adopt the resolutions, deo
juvante, and pursue the course? No harm can result from it;
much good may, and no one would be willing to acknowledge
his inability to prosecute to the end the course of studies pre-
scribed. Method and regularity are necessary in this, as in all
great undertakings, for anything worthy the name of success.
If I rise punctually at six o'clock in the morning, I shall have
time enough to exercise before breakfast. Then, Mondays, the
law till II; German till 2 P. M.; moot court till 7; the evening,
to write out my notes and at least an hour for Hoffman's course
and my old friends, Whately and Chillingworth. Tuesday, the
law till I P.M.; the whole afternoon, to devote to Hoffman and
moot questions; the evening, to law and my aforementioned
favorites. Wednesday, till 2 the same as Monday, and the after-
noon to Hoffman and moot questions; the evening, the same
as Tuesday. Thursday, law till I; afternoon to German, and
evening like Tuesday. Friday, till 2 law and German; afternoon
and evening to bringing up arrears in law, German, and Hoff-
man. Saturday, two hours to law and the rest of day and eve-
122 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
ning to sport and Hoffman's course. Sunday, attend to corre-
spondence, once to church, and evening for friends. Now, may
not I safely promise myself a good degree of success if I reso-
lutely commence and continue the line marked out? At all
events with the gallant Miller, "I'll try, sir."
I am now in the midst of my preparation for an argument in
moot court. Reading for authorities is, indeed, like feeding on
narcotics. The stimulus is too great for a healthy stomach,
agreeable and exciting at first, but speedily followed by satiety
Greenleaf says of all funds, refunds are the poorest. "Never
turn a cold shoulder upon a friend in distress. Lord only knows
how soon you may exchange places with him. Be wise in time."
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, October 30, 1843.
MY DEAR SISTER:--I have troubled you with letters so
often since I have been here, that it was not without some hesi-
tation that I made up my mind to write to you again this morn-
ing. I can plead no excuse for the offense better than that which
Hoffman gives--in a little work I lately bought--for authors;
of whom Young says:
"Some write confined by physic, some by debt;
Some, for 'tis Sunday: some, because 'tis wet."
It will not, I imagine, overstrain your powers of analysis
to discover which of these causes is the moving one with me.
Sabbath mornings I usually give to correspondence, and evenings
I regularly attend church in Boston. There are many induce-
ments to this regularity in spending the afternoon. Besides the
desire of forming a good habit in this regard, the sermon, the
music, the elegant churches, and the fashionable audience are
by no means weak attractions; or rather, taken together, these
form an attraction sufficiently strong to overcome my natural
inertia; for if taken separately I am sure my personal obser-
vation would not render me extravagant in their praise. I took
it for granted that the clergymen of Boston were finished schol-
ars and able men. It is, perhaps, well that I did, for I should
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 123
never have formed the opinion from any of the sermons I have
heard. I shall go to one of the most frequented churches this
afternoon and shall hereafter, I hope, be able to say I have
heard one sermon which is better than Mr. Dobb usually de-
Of music, you know I am not a judge, and upon the strength
of authority am bound to confess that I have heard some which
was excellent beyond all comparison. I adopt this opinion for
the sake of my own reputation as a person of good taste. I
might as well deny the antiquity of the pyramids or dispute
against the sun, as to hint that three shrill, piercing female
voices, assisted by the harsh croaking of two cracked bass ones,
were not more melodious and sweeter far than the harmony of
the spheres. The organ I heard last Sunday at Trinity Church
won "golden opinions" from persons who never heard it,--
costing ten thousand dollars,--and now wins leaden opinions
from those who hear it. Corwin once said: "Whiskey is the
great leveller of modern times." Not a greater one than fashion.
In looking around among the "dear hearers" of the masculine
gender (I'll speak of the feminine shortly), the family likeness
which pervades them strikes one at the first glance, and this is the
effect of fashion. No man's style of dress betrays his character.
All wear the same kind of cravats, whiskers are all of one size
and form, coats of the same cut, hair brushed sleek and smooth
and glossy behind, carefully coaxed up (often contrariwise of
nature) in front, and the same demure, self-satisfied expression
quietly reposes on all sorts of faces. The man of thin, hard
visage, whose features were never made to express anything
but energy and resolution, emulates with a becoming spirit and
wonderful success the meekness which sits smiling in soft
humility on the smooth round cheek of his dough-faced neighbor.
And the women--the ladies--the young ladies aye, and the old
ones, too, how pious they look! "Thank God we are not as
other" women may be seen on every countenance in characters
as plain, if not so large, as those which prescribe humility in
staring gilt letters on the stone tables each side of the altar.
As for beauty, I have yet to see the girl who could be a belle
124 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
In your last you reject in good set phrase the idea that manners
are what sisters feel concern about, when thinking of brothers.
Well, be it so. I never imagined you cared about aught which
was not in your estimation of importance to my real happiness
when speaking of what was likely to benefit or injure me. But
how prettily and naturally 'twas said: "Low fellows, such for
instance as you would find in Sandusky"; and you might have
added with truth and such as can be found anywhere by the
man who is anxious to associate with them. What made me
think of this? My chum bought Count d'Orsay's little book
on etiquette, lately published, which is good of its kind and con-
tains one thing which pleased me greatly and which I commend
to you. What do you suppose it to be? Bethink yourself of
your most grievous offense, most common, too, against the laws
of polished society! "Read, mark," etc.: "At family dinners
when the common household bread is used, it should never be
cut less than an inch and a half thick." I read it twice to be cer-
tain, then how I laughed. But that is not all. "A learned judge,
mark Jew, oh, a learned judge!"--"There is nothing more
plebeian than thin bread at dinner."
I heard J. Q. Adams address his constituents the other day.
He said he was to start for Ohio the next day. His subject was
Abolitionism, the admission of Texas, and kindred topics. He
said much that was unfair and unreasonable, much that was
dry, some things that were very good, and made a thrust or two
at Captain Tyler [President John Tyler] that told well. My
opinion of the old man's power and character was not at all
changed. I could see that in him which would make a most
formidable adversary in a personal encounter on the floor of
Congress, and when aroused that he could come up to the very
idea of "the old man eloquent."
The world wags well with me. The Law School satisfies me
perfectly Judge Story continues a model man. He wears well,
as is sometimes said,--a good test of character. Boston is
certainly the finest city in the world. The finest scenery around
it. Walking home from Mr. Adams', which is about twelve miles
from here, we passed through a paradise on earth. For some
miles it is very hilly, the road quite crooked, and on every knoll
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 125
and at every turn we saw some splendid family mansion. But I
wouldn't live in Boston for any ordinary consideration. "All is
seeming, false, and hollow."
If my ink were not so thick I'd write more. As it is I'll spare
you the infliction.
Your affectionate brother,
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. W. A. PLATT,
November 3, 1843.--I have for some time been in the habit
of taking brief notes of the lectures and [of the] cases argued in
moot court, but have heretofore neglected to note the opinions
held by our professors of other distinguished members of the
profession. Judge Story pronounces some highly wrought
eulogies in the course of his remarks. In the last decision he
said: "Sir James Mansfield was a very sensible, old-fashioned
common-law lawyer. He knew nothing but the common law;
he cared for nothing else; and although a great judge, yet he
had not the grasp of mind for which Lord Ellenborough was
"Brougham is a very able, clear-headed man, but not the
greatest judge who ever sat upon the English bench.
"Tindale is an old-fashioned common-law lawyer, like Sir
James Mansfield, but a strong man.
"Baron Parke is one of the ablest judges who ever sat upon
the English bench and, perhaps, the greatest lawyer now in
"Chief Justice Gibson, of Pennsylvania, is one of the best
judges in America, I can hardly mention his superior."--Green-
November 14.--For four or five days my attention has been
withdrawn from my regular studies by the speeches I have lis-
tened to in reference to the subjects decided by the people at
the election yesterday. I am not so easily enlisted in the ex-
citements attending political discussions as I was prior to the
election of General Harrison to the Presidency. I have not
126 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
formed an opinion upon any of the leading measures of public
policy now proposed by the two great political parties which
divide the country. I do not, therefore, take a very deep in-
terest in the result of elections; but my desire to listen to some
of the great lights of New England induced me to attend some
of the meetings which have been held within a few days.
The best speaker I heard at the Democratic meetings was
George Bancroft, the historian. He is a very inferior man in
appearance and is said to be penurious and even mean in respect
of private dealings. He has none of those advantages of person
and voice which contribute so much to the success of public
speakers, but he has an elegant flow of language, a chaste style,
and a well-stored mind; so that he is really one of the most in-
teresting speakers I have heard.
R. C. Winthrop, M. C., from Boston, is a young man of fine
attainments, a correct taste, and good natural ability. He ap-
pears to be much beloved, and is a very agreeable and effective
speaker. He appears to be rapidly improving as a popular
Senator Choate is a strong man. His style of speaking is
that of an impulsive, ardent, able, and practiced lawyer of the
Daniel Webster has been styled "the godlike" in derision.
But if any man born of woman deserves the epithet, it is Daniel
Webster. The majesty of pure intellect shines forth in him.
In speaking, he betrays no passion, no warmth, but all is cold
and clear that falls from his lips. He can indeed be aroused.
Hayne learned that. But he is habitually calm and passionless.
Yet there is a charm about the greatness of his intellect and
grandeur of his mien which holds one suspended upon his lips.
But the election is over. Now let me return to my duty and
not leave it soon again.
November 15.--Francis [Richard H.] Dana, Jr., of Boston,
author of "Two Years Before the Mast," delivered a lecture
before the Lyceum this evening on "American Loyalty." After
having briefly adverted to the odium attached to the word loy-
alty, and the reasons of it, he proceeded to draw the distinction
between this principle, or sentiment, and patriotism,--the first
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 127
being the attachment and affection one has for the institutions
and government of his country, the latter love of country.
The French, for example, are the most patriotic people of the
globe, and yet a people with less loyalty cannot be found under
the whole heaven. The English are as loyal as they are brave
and proud. The sentiment is a noble, high-minded one--con-
sistent with the highest dignity, the greatest pride, of personal
character. He spoke of our want of it, the benefit of it, its
conservatism; the evil tendency of its contrary. The two classes
of men: Samuel Adams said, "Cousin John, you were born to
build up. I was born to tear down."
Today I argued my first cause in moot court, and though my
success was not flattering, yet I see nothing to discourage a map
in earnest in this matter, as I am.
Greenleaf says: "You might as well attempt to abolish light
as the principles of pleading. A clear statement of a man's case
often wins the battle. Commend me to the lawyer who can
make a short, lucid statement of the grounds upon which rests
his case. Look to it, gentlemen!"
November 27.--For the first time in my life I went to the
theatre last week. I have been in Thespian societies but never
before in a regular theatre. I heard Mr. Macready play Hamlet.
The part I suppose was well acted, but I take about as much
pleasure in reading the play as I did in hearing it.
"Judge Parker was a good-natured lazy boy when at college,
became a good-natured lazy lawyer, and made afterwards a
good-natured lazy judge. He was universally beloved; always
decided right, but gave miserable reasons for his opinions.
While in the profession he used always to decide according to his
own common sense, steering by the light of the Ten Command-
ments, and to advise his clients that that was the law."
I have read Cicero's "Offices," the first work after the Bible
recommended by Hoffman to the attention of the law student.
Its pure morality is worthy of its great author, but not so high
as that of "the Book of books."
"As well we might compare
A taper's glimmer to the sun's broad glare,
A pygmy ninepin to a pyramid."
128 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I am now reading Aristotle's "Ethics," or rather I am reading
the outline of all Aristotle's works, given by Gillies in his intro-
duction to the "Ethics." Aristotle was, indeed, a great man for
his age, or for any age--the Bacon of antiquity. He founded
the Peripatetic sect, was the pupil of Plato (the pupil of So-
crates), and the preceptor of Alexander; the contemporary of
Philip and Demosthenes, and was born B. C. 385.
He defines cause in its four senses, the material, the formal,
the efficient, and the final. In proving the existence of the
Deity, Aristotle says there can be no causation without a first
cause. In like manner, no demonstration without first truths
which are self-evident--more plain than any arguments which
can be used to establish them.
I am not in the habit of betting, but have made the following,
contrary to my habit: That W. A. Neil will fall in love during
the winter vacation ensuing.--Oysters. Hayes and Neil.
That W. C. Hedges will be married within six years.--A
present worth twenty-five dollars.--Hayes [and] Hedges.
That I will [shall] be married by the time I am twenty-five.--
Amount as above; parties as above.
Cambridge, November 30.--I had the pleasure of listening
this evening to a lecture on "Irish History and O'Connell," by
an Irishman. The Irish are an eloquent people. They are
natural orators, with all the ardor and passion, the wit and depth
of feeling, knowledge of human nature, and power of expres-
sion, which belong to the orator of nature. The lecturer was a
small humpback, sharp-featured and grim, and taken all in all
[as] unprepossessing in appearance as any man I have seen for
many a day. But how the external belied the internal, the real
man! He opened by giving a brief sketch of Irish history for
the last half century. The legislature which ratified the Union
was composed of men of great talent, but of little patriotism.
They did not represent the Irish people, nor regard their wel-
fare. Nine-tenths of the people (the Catholics) were excluded
from the halls of legislation. The remainder were timid, avari-
cious, or the covetous of power and rank. There was terror for
the timid, lucre for the miser, and the epaulette, the judicial robe,
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 129
and the crook for the ambitious. Thus was the Union estab-
lished. Catholics were excluded from posts of honor and profit.
Indeed, they might die for the glory of a bigoted Protestant
king, but it must be in the ranks; they could rise no higher than
lieutenant-colonel. They might spend their youth and wear
out their strength in dangers and hardship, with the prospect of
retiring on half pay with half a body and that sorely riddled and
sixpence a day to starve on.
He touched on Irish elections, rotten boroughs, cruel landlords,
and suffering tenants. Drollery seems to have its favorite abid-
ing place in Ireland. The eve [of] an election he likened to the
approach of the millennium. The lords became courteous to the
boors, the ladies loved to frequent the huts of the peasantry,
shillelahs were bought at antiquarian prices, plants were sold as
natural curiosities, and even old hats and vests were better than
new. Irish factions were defined and described. The peasants
were mere cyphers; the lords were the left-hand figures that gave
the expressions value. But the Irish Association was formed.
Divisions were healed; man was exalted; orators were trained;
the pungent Attic and the ponderous Doric phrase were become
habitual. O'Connell is a phenomenon in history. He has the
love of the whole people, the power of a king. He has retained
his influence for years and it will last till he dies. He is eloquent
December 3, 1843.--In five weeks this term ends. Oh, how
little I have done! How little I have learned! Yet this eternal
delay, always resolving and never performing. But stop, stop.
I've done something, learned something; have not entirely
neglected my duties. Cheerfulness is the characteristic of my
disposition, but no one would imagine it from reading what I
write. But these five weeks! Let every lesson be well learned
--German, Blackstone, contracts; let my club duties come next,
and finally forget not my reading of Hoffman's course and the
study of logic. There is my duty. Now, up and at it!
December 21, 1843.--The term is nearly finished; but two
weeks remain. The last three we have been oppressed with a
multiplicity of duties. Three or four recitations a day and moot
130 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
courts, not infrequently three times a week, have driven us very
hard. We have a short respite till after Christmas, and I shall
improve it, in one way, by inditing a few ideas which have been
accumulating for the few weeks past.
I have read Aristotle's "Ethics" in Gillies' translation of that
great philosopher's works. The style of the translation is most
excellent. The work treats of virtue and vice. Virtue is defined
to be mediocrity of which either extreme is vice. Thus courage
is the mean between rashness and cowardice; liberality is be-
tween profusion on the one hand and avarice,--equally removed
from the two blamable extremes. There are some cases in which
one extreme is little thought of because the vice which corre-
sponds to it is almost unknown; thus temperance is the mean
between excess and a vice which because of its infrequency has
no name. Upon the whole, I have not learned so much from
this volume as I should from the perusal of a modern author
upon the same subject. I found many ideas which are to be
found in later writers without any acknowledgment; much that
was very sensible and little that was not so. Yet the impression
upon my mind was not so enduring or strong as to render the
whole my own.
In Beattie's works, I read yesterday a short account of memory
and the methods of improving it. Like all of his works, with
which I am acquainted, it is plain and practical. The difference,
according to him, between memory and the imagination is not, as
some have supposed, merely that the impression is stronger, or
the image more visible to the mind's eye in one case than an-
other [the other]; but there is a real difference between the two
faculties--easier known and felt than explained. We can re-
member to have seen a lion and we can imagine a whale. No
one would mistake the meaning. Nor is the difference in the
belief owing to the emotions in the case of memory being less
lively than in the case of imagination. For who has not a more
lively, more complete idea of Shakespeare's Hamlet or of Falstaff
than of Caesar or Aristotle? Yet the former [are] characters
in fiction and the latter, in history.
For improving the memory, the habit of attention, repetition
of the thing to be retained, and constantly calling oneself to ac-
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 131
count or self-examination; writing, or reading aloud, in order
to take in the idea through the medium of more than one sense,
and keeping a journal are the chief means pointed out.
Judge Story delivered the most eloquent lecture I ever heard,
yesterday morning, on the duty of American citizens to adhere
honestly and implicitly to the Constitution. The application was
particularly directed to the Abolitionists. "There is a clause in
the Constitution which gives to the slaveholder the right of re-
claiming a fugitive slave from the free States. This clause, some
people wish to evade, or are willing wholly to disregard. If one
part of the country may disregard one part of the Constitution,
another section may refuse to obey that part which seems to bear
hard upon its interests, and thus the Union will become a mere
'rope of sand,' and the Constitution (worse than a dead letter),
an apple of discord in our midst, a fruitful source of reproach,
bitterness, and hatred, and, in the end, discord and civil war;
till exhausted, wasted, embittered, and deadly foes have severed
this Union into four, six, or eight little confederacies, or the
whole shall crouch under the iron hand of a single despot. Such
must inevitably follow the first success of those mad men who
even now are ready to stand up in public assemblies and in the
name of conscience, liberty, or the rights of man, to boast that
they are willing and ready to bid farewell to that Constitution
under which we have lived and prospered for more than half a
century, and which, I trust, may be transmitted unimpaired from
generation to generation, for many centuries to come. It was
the result of compromise and a spirit of concession and for-
bearance, and will end when that spirit dies from the hearts of
this people. Let no man think to excuse himself from any duty
which it enjoins. No mental reservation can save his honesty
from reproach. Without perjury, no public officer can ever be
false to his trust by refusing to execute the duties enjoined by
that glorious instrument. In the case between the States of
Pennsylvania and Maryland, I delivered the opinion at the
solicitation of my brothers, who adopted unanimously my first
I commenced reading Paley this evening on "Moral Philoso-
132 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
December 25.--I need not say anything about the style of
Paley. It is so clear, plain, and pointed [that] I can never for-
get it. His definitions I may find fault with as incorrect, but
their meaning is very plain. The first place I found to object
to, is where he speaks of [a] moral sense. He gives the argu-
ments in favor of and against it, and concludes by observing that
it is a matter of pure curiosity in his system, as he looks for
more authoritative sanctions than the secret pangs of conscience
which the sinner feels. I cannot, at present, form an opinion
upon this celebrated question, but incline to the belief in a moral
sense to a certain extent. My position is that all men naturally
approve what they believe right; or, perhaps, better thus: All
men have a faculty, or by what other name it may be called, by
which they are led to believe there is a moral quality in actions.
This does not assert that men naturally approve what is right,
for this would imply that men really know what is right, and all
would then agree, which is confessedly false; but it only means
that men have such a disposition that if conscience was sufficient-
ly enlightened all would think alike upon all important points in
Now, this cannot be overturned by the arguments advanced
against a moral sense which at the same time discerns and ap-
proves the right. First, all men do not approve the same acts.
True, but all men do approve what they believe is right. Sec-
ondly, neither imitation, nor any principle of association by
which certain acts done to third persons are judged of as if
they affected ourselves, can account for the fact that in all ages
every individual of every nation has exhibited the strongest evi-
dence of possessing this disposition to approve certain acts and
disapprove of others. Nor can it be accounted for on our
author's principles, that everything is to be judged of by its
tendency and is right because it is expedient. For men speak of
this moral quality in many instances, when the act is of such a
nature that they cannot say it is either expedient or the con-
trary; and acts are every day pronounced wrong which, to human
foresight, are highly expedient.
This reasoning is by no means satisfactory to myself, but in
my present circumstances I can give no better. I do believe that
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 133
honesty, according to [the] old adage, is the best policy, as a
general rule; or that which is really expedient is right. Yet I do
not believe that this expediency is the test of the morality of ac-
tions, or that an act is therefore right, which conduces to the
greatest happiness, because of such tendency. But a safer rule
would, it seems to me, be to say, that is right which God com-
mands or wills, because he wills it. With this rule, men would
only be solicitous to know His will. While if the rule makes
happiness the test, it will vary as greatly as do men's ideas of
this greatest good, and the standard would really be made to
depend on the whims, prejudices, and passions of men who are
enough under the dominion of these, without constituting them
Virtue, he defines, the doing good to man, in obedience to the
will of God, for the sake of eternal happiness. Why would
it not be equally correct to say, "for the sake of eternal happiness
because God commands it"? Rewards and punishments appear
to me additional motives to obedience, not the sole, nor even the
December 26.--Yesterday I visited the city, crossed over to
East Boston, saw the steamship Hibernia, [and] went on board
a fine ship named after one of the prominent public men of this
State, Governor Davis. It being Christmas the good citizens,
especially the female portion and the juvenile, were out, decked
off in holiday attire, and with their pleasantest faces on; but it
was a dry, though gay sight.
Judge Story today said that the law of the land is no part of
any man's contract, by tacit consent. The law is above every
contract and governs it. But the idea of its being a part of an
agreement made under [it] might lead to some very strange
A State might pass a law saying that in future all contracts
might be altered or impaired as the Legislature shall see fit.
Now, this law entering into every contract would be a part of it,
and no law the Legislature could pass would impair its validity.
Thus would one of the most valuable provisions in the National
Constitution, viz., "No State shall pass any law impairing the
134 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
obligation of contracts," would be rendered a "dead letter," nay,
worse, a "mere mockery."
December 29.--As the end of the session draws nigh, my at-
tention begins to be drawn more frequently from the law than
comports with my present pursuits and interests. Literature and
politics fill the current of my thoughts. Literary honors, I have
not the ability and genius to attain, and mere political honors,
as such, are too dearly purchased at the price of tranquil enjoy-
ment, fine feelings, and a fair fame. But though honors are thus
excluded from "things hoped for," yet the enjoyment and good
name which learning can bestow are worth a man's exertions.
Latin enough to master a few of the first authors. Greek enough
for Demosthenes and Homer. French and German must be
attained within a few years. And whatever the law can bring
in addition shall be struggled for as becomes a man in earnest.
Greek, I have hitherto thought too difficult to be learned after
having so long neglected it; but I have been meditating on that,
and the result of some reflection is that I'll try to add that to
my other acquisitions. It can be done. Chancellor Kent re-
sumed his classical studies at twenty-five. Many men have com-
menced them at a period even later in life; then why not?
I must also endeavor to improve in writing and speaking.
The study of rhetoric and standard authors are the means by
which the first is to be accomplished; the study of logic and such
works as Chillingworth, Webster, Burke, etc., for the second;
and increasing pains in the practice of both.
I have here laid down an immense labor for myself, and if
nothing else, it will furnish me occupation and encouragement,
"the surest alleviation in sickness and the best means of enjoy-
ment in health."
December 31, 1843.--A few hours more will bring me to the
commencement of a new year. The shortness of human life
has, in all ages, among all classes of men, been a topic of com-
plaint. Theophrastus, at ninety, complained that he had to die
just as he had learned how to live. In this complaint how in-
consistent men are. Those who have wealth and leisure feel the
time hang heavily upon their hands; they sigh for some novelty,
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 135
some way to kill time. The man of business is impatiently look-
ing forward to the time when wealth shall crown his efforts;
the student longs for the moment when he may embark on the
ocean of life, and the politician strives to shorten the period
which separates him from the goal of his ambition. Thus all
men complain that life is too short, and that the parts of which
life are made up are too long. Yet life is not made up of the
weeks and months which measure duration. Good actions and
great thoughts are the measures of life. A man of ninety may
be a child and the man [of] thirty a veteran. It is not how
long but how much which turns the scale. Wisdom bringeth
gray hairs. There are periods in life when our energies are
aroused, great exertions are made, and a few hours at such a
time may have a more important and lasting effect upon our
whole after life than years of ordinary life. So, in the history
of nations. There are epochs characterized by great activity
in developing the resources and giving free scope to the energies
of a people, which do more for their advancement in a few
years than had been done in ages before.
There are some questions in the alternative, that not to decide
in favor, is to decide against the thing under consideration. A
man travelling a road comes to one leading off, and is in doubt
whether to pursue it. Now, not to decide for the new is to de-
cide for the old. So in matters of religion. To hesitate is, for
that time, at least, to decide against it.
There are many speculative difficulties which deter some men
from deciding in favor of a change of life. But these diffi-
culties, many of them, never can be settled; and if they could, it
would not alter a man's practical conduct whichever way they
were settled, or if they remain unsettled. Speculation is not
life. We need not deliberate longer before we begin to act.
We are not expected to stop thinking because we have com-
menced acting. No man is less able to deliberate because he has
The above are a few ideas which I heard today, contained in
an excellent sermon by Dr. Walker. In the afternoon he proved
the existence of the future state thus: There is not perfect
justice in the moral government of this world. But God is per-
136 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
fectly just. Ergo, perfect justice will be done, which is not in
the present and must be in the life to come.
But the New Year! Oh, now for good resolves--to be
broken as usual. But, indeed, I do love study better than I did
a year ago. So, let me go on--learning to reason, to write, to
speak, to remember, to govern myself, and [to] regulate my dis-
position, etc., etc.
January 4, 1844.--Judge Story delivered his last lecture for
this term today. His parting advice was good and his farewell
to those who were about leaving the school feelingly eloquent.
He spoke of the necessity of laying a deep and broad foundation
in the elementary principles; the distinction between a shrewd,
ready practitioner, and the man who regarded the law with the
eye of reason and studied it in a spirit of philosophy. "The law,"
said he, "has been styled a jealous mistress. She will not share
a divided heart. A lawyer must never become a political
meddler if he wishes to have a lawyer's mind." He never knew
a lawyer who had entered the political arena who ever recovered
the power and temper which he had before possessed. He never
knew a man, "you will never know a man, whose devotion to
his legal pursuits, if persisted in, has not been abundantly re-
warded. Keep out of politics till you are forty, and then you
can, with the experience of forty years, direct your course for
yourselves. I know that I now speak to those whose views of
life are widely different from mine. I am glad that it is so. You
have high hopes, ardent desires, boundless confidence, ambition
and energy. These are the feelings proper for youth. They
are given you for wise purposes. If you felt as I feel, if you
knew what I know, those efforts which will make life useful,
and render you a blessing to your age and country, if directed
aright, would never be made. Ambition, energy, ardent desire
would be nipped in the bud.
"To those who now leave the school, I would say, you carry
with you my best wishes. I may live to see some of you able
advocates before me. I may hear of the success of others. You
know not how I am rejoiced to hear of your success, and what
a lively interest I take in your welfare. When I go from among
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 137
you, the proudest inscription I would ask upon my tomb would
be the fact that while I was professor in the Law School of
Harvard College so many thousands graduated from it."
Pshaw, how my haste (indecent!) spoils the "old man elo-
January 13, 1844.--We have had a week of freedom from
duty, and, I may almost add, from pleasure. But no, it has
passed off pleasantly enough. I have studied as much as usual.
I commenced French Tuesday; have had four recitations. It
appears to be much easier than German. If I have good luck
I shall learn enough by vacation's end to go on without a teacher.
I have kept at German, too. The result is I am now as dull and
stupid as an ass. I have read Beattie's "Psychology," too. His
ideas about disciplining the mind and regulating the affections
and passions are excellent. I shall endeavor to profit by them.
Paley's "Philosophy," I have not finished. It is to be read after
Beattie. I shall soon take it up again. I shall write letters, read
German, study French, and continue Hoffman's course, while
I am here, till the beginning of next session. But I must write
no more, as [I] am dry, though docile. How I dread that visit
to Vermont! The loss of time, etc. Well, well, no difference.
January 15, 1844.--Last evening I attended a meeting of
Unitarians which was conducted a good deal like Methodist class-
meetings. After the meeting had been opened in the usual man-
ner, the regular pastor of the church, or some other clergyman,
read a chapter in the Bible, made a few comments upon, it, and
closed with proposing for consideration the following question:
"Is life more to be dreaded than death?" For several minutes
no one appeared inclined to say anything. Finally, silence was
broken by a fat, jolly, gray-headed little man, who commenced
by saying, in a tone full of good humor: "Well, to me your
question seems to be no question at all; for life so far from
being dreadful is of all things the most desirable, and death, we
all know, is a fearful thing.
'Aye but to die, and go we know not where,
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot'!
138 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
But life is full of things pleasant to the senses and the soul.
When we think of the seasons, the earth, the blue sky, the vege-
table and animal kingdoms--all for men's happiness,--we can-
not but pronounce life a blessing." The pleasant old man con-
tinued his remarks in the same train of good feeling for some
minutes. He was followed by a young divinity student, who,
having (as I conjectured) prepared a few thought for expres-
sion, did not speak to the question, but gave us what seemed to
him a very correct picture of a human being refusing to obey
the laws of his Creator. The picture which he thought so apt
and beautiful was that of a man who throws himself before a
triumphal car with the certainty of being crushed to atoms.
Next a lawyer, somewhat advanced in years, arose and com-
menced by observing that while he agreed with his venerable
friend upon the left, that life was a blessing, yet he must differ
with him as to death, which he considered a blessing, also. There
was no uncertainty about our future life. The wicked and the
good after death find their reward. He said he had examined
Scripture with a view to form a correct opinion as to the pun-
ishment which probably awaits the wicked. He said he had
found nothing inconsistent with the idea that life is a blessing to
all. Remorse of conscience was hell, and this remorse, he
thought, might in time prepare a man for a better state of never-
ending happiness, and thus, in the end, good and bad become
I wrote to Uncle yesterday asking his opinion about my future
course: Whether I ought to stay here or return to Ohio and be
admitted to the bar as soon as possible. Well, I needn't say any-
thing about it. I shall be satisfied to do either.
But the law of real property, how perseveringly I mean to
study it next session.
This French grammar! The entrance into any science is dry
and difficult, but commencing a language is particularly tedious--
not so tedious as it once was, not so difficult as it once was. But
I'll strain a peg to acquire it quick.
January 19.--I have just bought a copy of the "Spectator"
in two volumes. I think it was Burke who said, "He who would
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 139
understand the English language must give his days and nights
to the reading of Addison."* On such a condition, I fear I
shall not soon understand the language; but if an occasional
reading of Addison will avail anything, I shall learn some of the
rudiments before I am a thousand years older.--Genug!
January 22.--I am growing very lazy in performing my part
to the diary. Studying French the greater part of the fore-
noon and evening and walking to Boston for exercise in the
afternoon leave me very little time to write in.
I have finished Beattie's "Moral Philosophy," "Theology,"
and a portion of his "Politics." Good sense and good intention
are the great merits of his writings. All ideas which would not
occur to a person upon a little reflection are taken from other
I have commenced reading Locke's "Essay on the Human
Understanding." I shall not be able to give it so attentive and
thorough a reading as it deserves, but I hope to learn much
from it now, and must wait till a more convenient season for
thorough study before I can expect to master it. His preface
and introduction are characterized by honesty and modesty. The
object of the essay is to discuss the origin and extent of our
ideas, the extent of human powers, the foundation of belief,
assent, and opinion. I will try to save something for my pen.
Addison's writings are pleasant companions, and will prove as
useful as they are agreeable.
[Sometime during his stay in Cambridge, probably early in
1844, Hayes started out to make a list of books he had read
with the date of the first reading. But he did not finish the
task. His headings were "Poetry," "History," Biography,"
"Philosophy, Theology, and Morals," "Political," "Novels, Tales,
Romances." Only under the two first headings are there entries.
*No, not Burke, but Dr. Johnson. The exact statement is: "Who-
ever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and ele-
gant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes
140 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Under "Poetry," we have: Shakespeare's plays, 1839; Pope,
Bryon and Moore, 1840; Milton, Paradise Lost, 1840; Paradise
Regained, 1842; Samson Agonistes, 1842; Lalla Rookh, 1836;
Lady of the Lake, 1833; Marmion, 1839; Lord of the Isles, 1842;
Scott's Poetical Works, 1843; Campbell's Poetical Works, 1843;
Shelley, Queen Mab, 1839; Willis, 1844. Under "History," the
list is: United States, 1833; Hale's, 1839; Bancroft, as it ap-
peared; Marshall, 1840; Botta, 1839; Hume, Abdgt., 1835;
Mackintosh, 1842; Tyler, 1839; Gillies' Greece, 1839; Fergu-
son's Rome, 1839; Milman's Jews, 1839; Gibbon, 1841; Gold-
smith's Rome, 1837; Goldsmith's Greece, 1837; Butler's Univer-
sal History, 1835; Hallam's Constitutional History, 1844.]
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, January 30, 1844.
To the President and Members of the Phi Zeta Club in general
and Commodore Perry in particular.
WELL BELOVED:--I take great pleasure in acknowledging the
receipt of the letter written by the worthy commodore in behalf
of the club. As it is the first communication I have received from
the "daughters of Jupiter," I might perhaps be excused for in-
dulging in a short Philippic on "the unpardonable delay," "cold
neglect," "forgetfulness of old associations," and other crimes of
the same gender wherewith you are chargeable; but as I am nat-
urally of a forgiving turn of mind I cannot find it in my yield-
ing temper to withhold absolution for the past in consideration of
your correspondent's promise of amendment for the future.
When I commenced this rambling epistle I thought I would
devote the first and last pages to folly, to show that grave studies
and a few months' experience hadn't spoiled me, and this side I
would take to say a few sensible things and scrape acquaintance,
under as favorable circumstances as I could, with my new broth-
ers. Perry introduced each one in a manner peculiar to himself.
Yet I would have been greatly pleased to have had a few lines
from each of you in order to have something to assist in con-
jecturing the tone of the mind with which I was playing. In this
view a great deal may be said in a few words. For instance, in
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 141
reply to "the question direct," the pretty young Quakeress told
Judge Parker: "The Lord knows that I love thee." The Judge
was fond of saying that those words contained more than many a
labored argument of two hours' length. However, friends, when
we meet, as I hope we often shall, here is a hand for you. We
are not strangers. Acquaintance will, I doubt not, confirm what
association has commenced. Friend Camp, I suppose, intends to
study law and practice in northern Ohio. If this supposition be
correct, we shall probably be often together, and I am sure that
at the bar I shall always be proud to call him my friend. For
the student who has the industry and ability to master the diffi-
culties of his college course, will not be apt to grapple unsuccess-
fully with the difficulties of the study of law. Of the practice, I,
of course, cannot speak.
I enjoy myself here, as I have everywhere else, remarkably
well. In the Law School, we have, generally speaking, the best
portion of those who graduate at the other great colleges of the
country. All having the same general object in view, and there
being no motives for divisions of any kind, all are willing to see
others succeed in making rapid progress and to give aid when
needed. We are under no restraint and have perfect freedom in
respect of libraries, lectures, clubs, etc. The students from Yale
are commonly better speakers and appear better in moot court
and the lecture room than those who graduate here. The so-
cieties in this college are miserable enough, ill got up and badly
sustained. So that the graduates are not able to cope with the
graduates of other institutions in those exercises which require
the kind of ability that is acquired in such societies as the two at
Kenyon, and a number at Yale, etc. I am satisfied more than
ever from what I have seen here that there is a great deal of non-
sense in the talk we often hear about the difference between col-
leges. The great thing is the habits and spirit of the student. I
am already beginning to do penance for my neglecting the lan-
guages at Kenyon by taking lessons to recover lost ground in that
way. The question, "What is the use?" cheated me once. I hope
I shall profit by it. But good--there is the supper bell beyond a
I have just come from a fine supper of hot buckwheats and
142 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
am in the best possible humor. The mercury stands at 9 below
zero. The grate is full of glowing, red-hot, jolly looking coals:
Hedges has gone up to the hall; and here I am communing with
the old brotherhood. When I was at Kenyon I kept a sort of
journal in which I noted things notable as they arose. It is now
lying before me. Among the notes of two years ago are sundry
curious things about the doings of the club. . . . All that I can
recall of those times,-and of these matters my memory is not of
the worst,--is accompanied with associations the most agree-
able, recollections the most laughable. In fact, speaking of the
name, our club might properly enough be styled the Jolly Club,
if my feelings may be taken as a standard of what others feel.
Those whom I used to love well at Kenyon--their memory grows
dearer every day; and I think I might say that the converse (or
better, perhaps, the vice-versa) of that is also true That is, those
whom I liked not very much then I now like still less when I
think of them.
Now, possibly, some of you don't perceive the drift of what
I have been doling out for the space of about half a page. But
the legal gentlemen among you know, or ought to know, (and the
rest of you I will tell), that in Bills in Chancery the proportion of
words to ideas is about as an hundred to one; so that when you
wish to charge a man with wrongfully keeping possession of your
land, you must first give him a detailed account of pretty much all
that has occurred in your family since your great-grandfather
was a brat of six months old. From this you will easily per-
ceive that the foregoing preachment about old times and old
friends is in the nature of a Bill in Equity. I will now give you
the pith of it in the form of a syllogism which your logicians will
tell you is called b Arb Ar A. It stands thus:
The old Phi Zeta of two years ago is the present Phi Zeta;
But I loved the old Phi Zeta with "a love surpassing the love
Ergo: I love the present Phi Zeta with a love, etc."
If this syllogism doesn't satisfy even Ben Lang and his goat
(of which Stephen makes honorable mention) I know of nothing
which will. . . .
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 143
Tell me in your next whether you ever hear from Elliot or
Kinsolving, Dutch or Boyd, and what. Give my respects to
those you write to of the club. . . .
RUD. P. Z.
S. S. PERRY,
January 31.--Today I attended a club composed of the mem
bers of the Law School who are remaining here during the vaca-
tion. The subject debated was the admission of Texas into the
Union. I advocated the negative on constitutional grounds.
Public speaking is no more difficult than I expected to find it
after so long disuse. Connected trains of thought and logical
reasoning must be the end of all my efforts. These are more
useful and more difficult of attainment than fluency or grace of
manner. No man of clear conceptions and logical habits of
mind can fail to be fluent; and practice, careful practice, will
remove those faults of manner which are to be avoided.
I have lately been reading Locke's "Essay on the Human
Understanding." I do not know what opinion to form about
his doctrine of innate ideas. If I had heard nothing against it,
I should adopt it. I cannot discover its weak points. His re-
marks about the idea of God are certainly correct. What two
persons have the same notion of the Supreme Being?
February 18, 1844.--Yesterday I returned from Vermont
after a visit of nearly two weeks with my grandmother,
uncles, and cousins. They have not changed more since I last
saw them, about six years ago, than is to be expected in the
ordinary course of nature. Grandmother has been very in-
dustrious all her life. She is almost eighty and retains the use
of her mental faculties in a good degree of perfection. Her good
strong sense and great industry have made her very useful to
all who have had anything to do with her. She bid me farewell
(as she said) for the last time. I hope, however, to see her, at
least, once again.
My uncle Austin Birchard is a most excellent man. His tal-
ents and industry with the aid of better advantages for education
144 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
in early life would have given him a high rank in whatever pur-
suit he might have engaged. In fact, though deprived of early
discipline and shut out by deafness from one great source of
improvement, he has notwithstanding acquired a reputation for
political information and sagacity, and energy and success in his
business which belongs to few men in his section of the country.
I enjoyed myself very much in his company. The reflection that
constantly urged itself upon me while conversing with him was:
"If Uncle could accomplish so much with so little encourage-
ment, and held back by his infirmity, what ought I not to ac-
complish with so great assistance and motive as I have always
had?" Ah! there it is again. Ambition will peep out occa-
sionally, philosophical as I have become. But Judge Story was
right. "Ambition and confidence, high hopes, bright anticipa-
tion are proper inmates for the youthful breast." They furnish
the incentives to exertion without which we should be as useless
as we would be miserable.- Locke.
February 21.--Received a letter this morning from my old
friend Trowbridge. His eyes are slowly improving. Good. I
hope that in a few months the gladsome light of jurisprudence
will begin to shine upon him.
"Locke," the last word on the opposite page. What I intended
to say about him or his writings I do not know, but I am nearly
through with his "Essay." Some of it is too deep to be grasped
in a hasty perusal. His ridicule of maxims, or axioms, is per-
haps carried too far, yet it is not without reason.
Went to the city yesterday; streets wet, muddy, and slippery.
Bought another number of the Mirror Library, containing poems
by Drake, Prior, and Keats. The poems I've not read, but
Willis' observations give their chief characteristics, I suppose.
If Willis would not strive so much after quaint forms of expres-
sion, and would write with more shortness and perspicuity, I
would be better pleased with the drippings of his pen. I am
studying French. Translating is easy enough. A Latin scholar
ought to be able to translate easy narrative in three weeks.
February 22.--Washington's Birthday. Celebrated in the
city in the usual manner; military parade, the firing of cannon,
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 145
balls, etc. The language of eulogy has been exhausted in ex-
tolling the character and services of Washington. He is the
Went to a book auction in the city; bought a German Testa-
ment; shall read it Sabbaths, and thus have the true doctrines
of the Saviour at the same time that I add to my knowledge of
the German language.
Felt tired and low-spirited when I got home. The filth and
noise of the crowded streets soon destroy the elasticity of health,
which belongs to the country boy. Oh me, I am so dull. I have
been reading French anecdotes all the afternoon. Witty say-
ings and smart repartees are highly relished by the French. They
preserve them and are fond of repeating them. French is the
language for conversation, German for philosophy, English for
eloquence and tragedy.
February 26.--The summer session of the Law School com-
menced today. One hundred and six students made their ap-
pearance. Professor Greenleaf made the opening address. The
only thing in it worthy of remark was his idea of a lawyer.
"A lawyer is engaged in the highest of all human, pursuits, the
application of the soundest reason and purest morality to the
ordinary affairs of life. He should have a clear head and a true
heart always acting at his fingers' ends."
Moot court cases were given out. Mine is to come up in three
weeks. I have read the first chapters in Cruise and Kent. The
respite afforded by the vacation seems to have had a very salu-
tary influence. The law is quite interesting. I hope it may so
continue. At all events, I shall endeavor to profit by this ses-
sion, as it may be my last in the school. A new Buckeye stu-
dent has joined the school named Folsom. He appears to be
quite intelligent and of a good heart.
I must try to acquire greater mildness of temper and affability
of manners. I cannot complain of nature; she has not been nig-
gardly, but habit has somewhat changed the stamp of nature.
Let me reform the habit--a task easily accomplished--and
much will be done towards giving me the manners and senti-
ments of a true gentleman.
146 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
February 27.--Heard Mr. Greenleaf's introductory lecture in
Kent and Cruise. In addition to the writers on the laws of
nations mentioned by Mr. Kent, he spoke of Wheaton as one
of the best compilers of the true doctrines who has yet treated
of the subject. The great English writer he said was a mere
case lawyer who seldom ventured into the water, but hugged the
shore, sailing from headland to headland. The style of Kent, I
have heard, was vague and general; such as to leave no clear and
distinct ideas upon the mind. I do not find it so. From one
day's acquaintance, I have ventured to form a favorable opinion
of the "Commentaries."
Cruise has been called one of the most dry and forbidding
books in the law. I came to the study of it with an exaggerated
idea of its difficulty and a strong anxiety and determination to
master it. After a short cruise I see no reason to despair.
It has rained today and is now snowing. Our club met and
placed me on the first question. Two cases to argue in three
February 28.--"A young lawyer should take the statutes of
his State and examine [them] to see if they are copied from the
statutes of any other State, which have been commented upon
or explained by judges in delivering their opinions. Note the dif-
ference between your own statute and the wording of that under
which the case arose and make the reference in a note in the
margin. Note in the margins of your statute-book the decisions
which have been made by the courts of your own, State upon
any particular section. You will thus have the law and the place
of its exposition before your eye at the same glance. Note in
your Cruise or other work (in the margin opposite the author's
dictum) any decision relating to the same point. Acc. (accord-
ing), contra, and quaere (?) to the signs of agreement, oppo-
sition, and doubt respectively. The benefits of this are too plain
to need remark."
Today has been pleasant and I have felt fine. Studied hard,
rose early, and am now satisfied to go to sleep. Have had no
time to think much on home, old friends, the future, and other
subjects which claim wandering thoughts.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 147
February 29.--"Dane's abridgment is a town-meeting of legal
principles without a moderator." Dr. Franklin writing to an
English friend after the commencement of the War of Independ-
ence, signed as follows: "Hoping for an early adjustment of our
difficulties, I remain till then your enemy, and you mine."
The law of real property is difficult, but I begin to see a little
farther before me, and do not despair of some day becoming in-
formed upon the subject. I read Blackstone first, then Cruise,
and finally take up Kent. To me Kent appears the clearest and
most concise writer upon the subject.
I have been looking every day this week for friend Neil with
letters and news from my friends in Columbus, but he has not
yet made his appearance.
Snow is thawing rapidly; cloudy tonight. I have read no
French or German this week, except five chapters in the Testa-
ment, Sabbath morning. Shall commence studying both in a few
weeks. Now for the close of my work.
March 3, 1844.--Time flies. The laws of nations and real
property are not quite so interesting as a play of Shakespeare, a
romance of Scott's, or a humorous tale of Dickens; yet they are
not the driest of all dry things. Vacations are really useful; a
short respite from study gives a real relish for the law. "Form
your habits so that every change must be for the better," says
Paley. This I am trying to do, so far as reading aright goes.
I read Chillingworth over and over again. For Saturday night's
reading, the Spectator is my companion. Sunday, the German
Testament and Milton are my friends. During this week I must
add a little French and German to my law studies, besides com-
pleting my preparation to argue a case before the Marshall Club.
The task for this week will be as difficult to accomplish as any
I shall have during the term, but by rising early, eating moder-
ately, and studying hard, I can do all that I ought to expect to-
wards acquitting myself respectably. I know what I ought to
do, and how to do it. It only remains to do it. Action after
investigation and decision.
March 11, 1844.--I heard Professor Longfellow lecture on
the modern languages and literature this forenoon. His lecture
148 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
was merely introductory. I was much pleased with his style,
manner, and matter. By the modern languages, he meant the
six languages of northern Europe: German, English, Danish,
Swedish, Icelandish, and Netherlandish; and the four southern:
Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian. The first wave that
rolled over Europe from the east was the Celtic. It divided when
it reached the ocean in France, the greater portion flowing north
over the Low Countries, Denmark, Iceland, Great Britain, and
Ireland. The rest moved south leaving traces in southern France
and the Peninsula. The next wave was the Gothic which rolled in
and formed the language of Germany, and moving westward
mixed with the Angles and formed the Anglo-Saxon or English.
The German was divided into the high and low, but the high Ger-
man is the polite language, being a compound of both dialects.
The Latin language was carried with the Roman arms, and
wherever they obtained permanent conquests the Latin became the
language of the learned. By corruptions of this were formed the
Castilian, the French, and the Italian. A portion of one corrup-
tion was taken into England by the Normans and mingled with
the English, and thus formed one of the elements of our mother
Charles V characterized the languages thus: "I would speak
French to my wife; Italian to my mistress; English to the birds;
German to my horse, and Spanish to my God."
March 18.--Since writing the notice of Mr. Longfellow's
first lecture, I have attended two more on Anglo-Saxon literature.
They were rather interesting, owing more to the novelty and in-
trinsic interest of the subject, than to the ability displayed by
the lecturer. There are a few pieces of poetry in the Anglo-
Saxon, but of no great value. One piece is concerning the fall of
Adam -- Milton's subject. The prose writings consist of the old
Chronicle--historical--and the collections of laws made by Al-
fred and other Saxon kings. The language is in many respects
similar to the German, and is not very different from the English
in many of its words. I think I will one day study it to aid
in mastering my own vernacular.
My case in moot court was argued today. It was a mean
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 149
little case, and my performance, I am free to confess, was worthy
of the cause. I must turn my whole efforts to acquiring a
thorough mastery over my thoughts. I must study to acquire a
steady command of myself, so as to be able to express clearly,
without repetition, and logically, the thoughts which are connected
with the subject under discussion.
April 8, 1844.--Here we are almost in the middle of spring.
Well, verily, as has been often said by wiser men than myself,
"tempus fugit." I have written nothing lately but have done a
good deal. One acts most when he writes least. Axiomatic, that!
Welladay, more faults to cure. A superabundance of animal
spirit causes a flux, as one may say, in the wrong direction.
Trifling remarks, boyish conduct, etc., are my crying sins. Mend,
Judge Story commenced lecturing again today. His health has
been poor of late and he seems to be failing by degrees. He an-
nounced his intention today to write a work on shipping. What
a prolific brain!
I am now dipping into several works, all on the subject of law;
but my note-books are the places to record all this.
I am now quite lame, from scuffling, and all my fingers stiffened
by playing ball. Pretty business for a law student. Yes, pretty
enough; why not? Good exercise and great sport. I shall com-
mence reading logic again tonight instead of Chillingworth and
must finish it by the middle of June.
April 18, 1844.--"There is no complaint more common in
the mouths of law students than that of being compelled to study
so much which is no longer law. That which is now law on
any given point--any settled point--may be found in a few
minutes' time by one who has never studied law an hour in his
life; but the reasons of it--its history, philosophy, and bearing
on other points--can only be known and appreciated by him who
has laid a deep and broad foundation in the rules and reasons of
the old law. Let no one, therefore, be disheartened because he
is forced to toil through much that is obsolete. This is requisite
to be thoroughly master of that which is."
150 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Thank my stars, I am fairly rid of those gloomy feelings,
which torment one so bitterly during a large part of the first
year's reading. Hard, continued toil remains, but it will be ac-
companied with pleasure, carried on with enthusiasm and ardor.
What remains (vast as it is) to be done, will be done cheerily
and with a will. I am in fine spirits tonight.
May 12, 1844.--For many days I have been very busily en-
gaged. The study of the law of real property, preparation for
the performance of duties in clubs, the weather, and the political
movements of the day, have all together kept me from paying
the proper attention to other affairs.
I heard Webster make a political speech in Faneuil Hall Thurs-
day evening. He supports the nominations of the Baltimore
Convention of May 2, Clay and Frelinghuysen. But his speech
was poor for him. His course for the few months he remained
in the Cabinet was a serious injury to his reputation.
I heard Walker preach twice today. What a powerful reasoner
he is! How solemn and impressive are his appeals! His subject
in the forenoon was taken from Proverbs xxvi: 16-17. Cruelty
for sport, false wit, ill-timed jests, sarcasm, ridicule, and all the
means of wounding the feelings of a fellow creature wantonly.
Let me bear it in mind. I need such admonition. This after-
noon his argument was against the common notion, "We must
consider principles not consequences; duties are ours, events are
We are not to be deterred from a course of conduct which we
deem right out of fear of personal consequences, but in deciding
upon the right, we are to look to the tendencies and consequences
of our acts, the mischiefs which they may work to others may
render bad that which by our theory is good. Christ is given
as a model. Evils are to be removed as He would have removed
them; not by fanaticism, by violence and bloodshed, but quietly,
persuasively, with passionless serenity.
About two months of this term remain. I mean to drop all
of Story's studies except "Conflict of Laws" and Abbott, [and]
give my time to Greenleaf and examinations of cases for club
questions. Brief time; make much of it.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 151
May 18.--We have had a little excitement here for a few
days past, occasioned by a skirmish between some of the South-
ern law students and the members of the senior class in college.
It has resulted in a few slight bruises, the loss of a few soap-
locks, and the expulsion of one or two from each department.
"Sic transit, etc."
I am progressing slowly in the acquisition of the learning of
real property. I shall be glad when this term is through. My
health requires more attention than can be given it while en-
gaged in study. In six weeks the vacation begins. Then I
shall throw aside my books entirely for a season. Since I com-
menced the study of the law I have taken no sufficient recrea-
tion. If ever I have any students I shall earnestly advise them
to take respite enough to prevent them from becoming disgusted
and wearied out with study. Truly "much study is [a] weariness
to [of] the flesh." A few months of close application can be
easily borne by a young man of regular habits and good con-
stitution, but continual study seems to dry up the fountains of the
heart, cramp the intellect, sour the temper, and ruin health. But
enough. Complaining is foolish.
I love study, after all, and I am likely to have enough of it to
do. To acquire sufficient knowledge of the theory of my pro-
fession, master the practice, become a correct, vigorous writer,
a good speaker, a respectable classical scholar, and to acquire the
miscellaneous information requisite to furnish out a gentleman,
--these will take study, time, patience, and all the exertion of
which I am capable.
May 26.--I heard Dr. Walker preach this morning from the
text, "Faith without works is dead." Luther found so much in
the Epistle of James which conflicted with his own favorite doc-
trines, that he pronounced it "strange." And others have thought
it of little worth because Christ is mentioned but once or twice
and then coldly; because the doctrines of the resurrection and
regeneration are scarcely noticed; and because it treats so much
of the principles of mere morality. But these are not good
reasons for putting up one inspired writer above another--Paul
above James. It would rather seem to be wise to adopt views by
152 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
which passages apparently conflicting may be harmonized and
discrepancies explained and reconciled.
The great controversy concerning faith and works depends, in
a great measure, for its origin and continuance on the ambiguity
of the two words, faith and works. If by works is meant the
mere outward act, there may be salvation without works, as a man
may have great generosity without the opportunity or means of
exhibiting it. So, on the other hand, the acts of generosity may
be performed without merit. If by faith is meant only the intel-
lectual acts of belief and approval of what is true and good, this
without works is dead. But if by faith is meant the internal dis-
position, which will manifest itself in outward acts whenever
opportunity occurs, this faith is essential to salvation. So that
while Paul and James use different language, their doctrines are
the same; they view the subject from different positions, but their
views are the same. Paul looks to the origin of the act, James
to the consummation of the disposition. It is interesting in this
connection to trace the differences between the Jewish and the
Christian dispensation. That was a dispensation of works, this
of faith. In that, the external rites and observance were the all
important. In this, the feelings, the heart is regarded. In an-
other aspect, the difference appears striking. The religion of the
Bible is one of obedience and progress. The Old Testament con-
tains a system of rules to be strictly followed in forms and cere-
monies, suited to the childhood of our race in this respect. The
New Testament looks to principles of action; if these are right
all is right. But rules may be outgrown, while principles are
eternal. So that while the Jewish dispensation, being temporary,
has passed away, the Christian is eternal and must remain.
Now, in the use of the writings of the two apostles, we must
consider the crying sin of the age in which we live and the people
before whom we appear. If it is to speculation and mysticism,
then the efficacy of works, as appears in the Epistle of James,
should be preached; if to outward observances, pompous cere-
mony, rites, etc., then justification by faith as declared by Paul
should be proclaimed.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 153
CAMBRIDGE, June 2, 1844.
DEAR SISTER:--Do not think I am so punctilious as to require
an answer to every line I write you before I am willing to pen
another. I should have written to you or Mother today even if
your letter had not been received, and delay in writing has been
occasioned by the usual cause, study, want of interesting news,
etc., etc. You may always feel safe in making the most positive
assurances of my well-being to Mother whenever I am negligent
about writing, according to the old adage, "True friends are al-
ways remembered in adversity." I am well satisfied with the
decision by which I shall have the pleasure of seeing those babies
and sharing in the general gratification of receiving our West
India and other friends. I did not know but "the universal
Yankee dollar" would outweigh any considerations in the opposite
scale, and require that I should spend my vacation here, or if I
came home, not return. But I suppose I am to be regarded now
as the chancellor of my own exchequer; if so the policy of my
administration can be explained in very few words. I am willing
that the last cent that William has at my disposal of that Marion
money should go for the tacks to nail up my shingle. To that
extent I am willing to go to please either myself or friends. I
do not adopt this notion because I entertain very extravagant
ideas of my chances of making money, but because if my health
continues good I can be satisfied with about as little as any of my
acquaintance. So that my self-confidence results in this, that
though I am not very powerful to do, I am quite willing to suffer.
I have no correct notion as to how much I may draw upon
William for, but if any of you want anything of me which doesn't
require more of the needful than that amount, I am perfectly
ready to meet your wishes; all this with the qualification that I
shall not only not ask but, if I can prevent it, not permit William
to inconvenience himself in this matter.
We have fine weather here now and all things go on so pleas-
antly that the time of my return will soon come around. Every
few weeks some great stir is made to keep us from suffering
from the blues. We have had college rebellions, Texas meet-
ings, Whig notifying meetings, with Webster as the orator in
Faneuil Hall, a great state temperance celebration, State Aboli-
154 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
tion Convention; and some faint attempts are now being made to
excite enthusiasm for the nominees of the Loco-foco convention,
Polk and Dallas. Altogether I think the blood would scarcely
stagnate in my veins even if the antics of the Law School didn't
keep me in occupation. At the Washingtonians' celebration, I
had a grand good time. Women and children formed a large part
of the assembly, and in the procession were mothers carrying one
child and leading another through the dust. I was quite struck
with the spirit of one crowd of little girls, the eldest not above
twelve, headed by a couple of little "seven-year-olds" carrying
a banner inscribed, "Temperance Men or no Husbands." I could
hardly believe their mothers knew they were out.
I had not heard from Uncle for so long that I began to believe
he must be on his way East. I am not sorry that he kept away,
for until a week past the winds have been chilly and bad for
persons in his health, but by your letter it appears that he is
running into temptation by putting himself in Miss Johnson's
way. I am sure he would be justified in taking temporary meas-
ures to abate a nuisance. Perhaps he could manage to get up a
quarrel with her and in that way obtain a little peace. To obtain
peace is said to be a justification of war. Another maxim which
would be authority for his acts is that "all is fair in love, war,
and politics." Now, under whichever category he chooses to
place himself he is safe. I take it one or the other must be the
case for to be neutral in such affairs is beyond human power.
This is all the laws of nations can do for him.
Fanny, this is one of the warmest days you ever saw. I am
sweating large drops. Do excuse my folly. Remember I've been
to church once today and shall go again soon. I don't believe I
shall write more than once more before I come home. We have
one more lecture than is common the remainder of the term.
The term ends the fifteenth of July. I shall start very soon after
that date for Columbus.
Love to all, and (as I was reading in a letter of Alexander
Hamilton's to his wife) "a thousand kisses for those babies."
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 155
June 12, 1844.--Judge Story has been lecturing for the last
week on the Constitution. I will set down the principal things
he mentions which I might otherwise forget.
He commenced with a short history of the Colonies, the Dec-
laration of Independence, and the adoption of the Confederation.
The Congress of 1776 assumed powers, for they had none con-
ferred on them by the people, which assumptions of power
were acquiesced in and thus ratified. Washington's commission
was granted, alliances formed, armies raised, debts contracted,
and other acts of sovereignty performed by this Congress with-
out a shadow of authority, till the adoption of the Confedera-
tion in 1781. The emergency required it.
The principal acts of the first congresses were done with Vir-
ginians for leaders, because that Massaachusetts, the other lead-
ing Colony, was so deeply and so immediately interested. Thus
Lee moved the resolution of Independence, Jefferson wrote the
Declaration, Washington led the armies. But John Adams car-
ried the measure by his boldness and energy. He never spoke
over twelve minutes; no one-hour rule was needed then. At
the time of the Declaration so doubtful were the members of
Congress of the people's acquiescence, that they took every means
of forestalling public opinion. And John Jay wrote to a friend:
"The measure is adopted. Build bonfires on the hills, have re-
joicings and assemblings that the public mind may be made
The Congress of 1777 issued paper money and sent a letter to
induce capitalists to take it, saying: "Money may take to itself
wings and fly away but the faith of a nation will remain."
To show the weakness of considerations of honor and duty
when opposed by interest, look at the unpaid officers and sol-
diers of the Revolution.
Again, under the Confederation, stay laws and all manner of
laws were passed; conflicting interests were too strong for state
pride. Marshall, Madison, P. Henry, and Washington were able
for eight years (1781-1789) to keep Virginia to the line of duty
by only a majority of one, two, or three in opposition to the
demagogues whose power consisted in appeals to the passions,
the distresses, etc., etc., of the people!
156 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
So strong was the feeling excited by the counter legislation
on the subject of imposts, that Massachusetts and Connecticut
seriously contemplated the conquest and division of Rhode Island
who allowed all articles to come in duty free.
The debates of the conventions of the States to ratify the
Constitution are in a great measure lost. The debates in Vir-
ginia were the best reported and the members of that convention
say they are very incorrect. In Massachusetts no reports worth
anything. The writings of those times are some of them to be
found in the American Museum, and the Federalist. "Greater
and purer men than its authors never lived." "I have heard
Samuel Dexter, John Marshall, and Chancellor Livingston say
that Hamilton's reach of thought was so far beyond theirs that
by his side they were schoolboys; rush tapers before the sun at
ON THE BANK. Washington desired written arguments from
the members of his Cabinet. Jefferson and Randolph opposed by
reasons so cogent that Washington came to doubt. He sent for
Hamilton, told him the state of his mind. Hamilton was sur-
prised, said he had never dreamed of Washington's doubting;
that had he known that he would not have written his report and
recommended the course adopted. General Washington said he
had not doubted till he saw Jefferson's and Randolph's arguments;
and said he: "You must answer them, or I cannot sign the bill."
Hamilton went to Mr. Lewis, the first lawyer of Philadelphia,
who had no doubt of a bank's constitutionality, and asked him to
listen to his argument, tell him the errors, and add suggestions of
his own. They walked in Mr. Lewis's garden the whole after-
noon. Hamilton went over his whole argument and at sundown
of the seventh day after General Washington had received the
bill, they separated, satisfied that the argument was as strong as
possible. That evening, General Hamilton told his wife to give
him a cup of strong coffee, that he should not come to bed that
night as he was to write all night. That night he wrote the argu-
ment of eighty pages which contains all that has since been said,
or can be said, in favor of the constitutionality of a bank, and
it is unanswerable. All the departments of the Government
have acquiesced in the decision made by General Washington.
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 157
Mr. Madison regarded the question as settled in 1816. The
Supreme Court with a majority of Republican [now Democratic]
judges, Marshall delivering the opinion, unanimously decided its
constitutionality in the case of Maryland (and Ohio). [No.
The citation should be "McCulloch v. Maryland," the famous
case decided in 1919.]
June 13.--THE FINAL INTERPRETER. The judge first spoke of
the opinion sometimes expressed that nothing is settled by
precedent in constitutional questions. "If so, no one knows his
rights or duties. The executives, States, and legislatures enter-
tain different views of the same question at different times. Fif-
teen years ago New Hampshire thought and resolved that a
Bank of the United States was constitutional; she now thinks
and resolves the opposite. When I came into political life South
Carolina maintained the highest constitutional doctrines. She
prided herself as always having so stood. Now we know, etc.,
etc. We should soon be in the situation of old Judge Strong of
this State in regard to our statutes. 'Yesterday the law was
so, but I can't tell how it is today. I haven't yet heard what our
Legislature has done.'
"It is a singular fact in relation to this matter that the only
questions, which have been regarded as settled, are those in which
the powers exercised were most doubtful. For example, the
power of removal in the Executive. It is nowhere given, no-
where implied by fair construction. It is really an incident to
the power of appointment; but that power is in the President
and Senate. There, then, should be the power of removal. But
the first Congress determined otherwise. General Washington
was so esteemed that they feared that it would look like a want
of confidence in him to refuse him the power of removal. It
passed the Senate by the casting vote of John Adams, the Vice-
President. But this early decision has been held final by all
strict constructionists. Again, the acquisition of foreign terri-
tory; denied by President Jefferson; finally acquiesced in, [and]
now regarded as settled.
"The post-office question. The right to carry letters,--is it
exclusive in the general Government? This has been considered
158 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
settled, but is now raised and we shall be called to decide it the
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, July 1, .
DEAR UNCLE:--By a letter which I received from home a
short time since, I find that contrary to my previous expectation,
mother will not come East this summer, and that I am expected
to spend my vacation in Ohio. I am sorry to lose the opportunity
of realizing the pleasure I had anticipated in spending a short
time this fine weather with my pretty cousins at Fayetteville, but
May and Charlotte may be glad to escape the teasing which was
in store for them, so that my loss will be their gain.
Uncle Sardis is not married, and, I think, will not be, so that
his trip eastward will probably be deferred to another season.
It is expected, I believe, that Uncle William will visit the United
States this season, and our folks in the West will expect a visit
from him and his lady; so that Fanny expects to receive visits
from all her friends, and I hardly know when you would have a
better time to return some of the visits you have received from
us than this summer. You would have an opportunity of seeing
the people of Ohio in their glory--in the midst of an exciting
canvass--and of witnessing some of our great gatherings, of
which, I suppose, there will be as many and as large as in 1840.
I shall leave here next Saturday for New York and shall be home
in two weeks from this time. Thursday next there will be a
Whig rally up at Concord, at which some distinguished men are
expected. It is so near that I shall certainly go up,--there be-
ing no exercises in the Law School on that day.
Judge Story is now lecturing on the Constitution. It is, of
course, needless to say anything of his mastery over the subject.
He touches upon all the questions which have been raised at dif-
ferent times in Congress, and in the courts upon points of con-
stitutional law. The tariff, bank, navy, post-office department,
internal improvements, public lands, etc., etc., have each been
thoroughly examined, so far as they are affected by the Constitu-
tion. In common with others of his school, he thinks well-
established precedents settle the most of these questions; and in
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 159
speaking of the opponents of this doctrine, he says that they
agree in considering some questions as settled by the practice of
the Government; and what is a little curious is, that those ques-
tions are many of them as to the exercise of the most doubtful
powers which are claimed to belong to the general Government.
For instance, the power of removal exercised continually by the
Executive is sanctioned by nothing but the practice of the Gov-
ernment. Also, the acquisition of foreign territory, the exclusive
right of the Government to carry the mails, and many others.
This only shows in another light the inconsistencies of that
school of strict constructionists of which Mr. Calhoun is now
the head and front. But enough of this. The lectures are
highly interesting, as the judge is able to give many items of
valuable information in relation to the history of the Constitu-
tion--its framers, their views and intentions (?)--and its prac-
tical workings, which are not to be found in print. And gen-
erally the exercises of the school this term have been as useful
as I could expect. I shall return next term about the 25th of
Love to Aunt and my cousins. I hope I shall see them soon
again, if it is not till you are all in the snow of winter once more.
If you see any of the Hayes connection, I wish you would
tell them that Uncle William is expected to come to Ohio, so
soon as he visits the United States.
Your affectionate nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
AUSTIN BIRCHARD, ESQ.
Cambridge, September 21, 1844.--I have been here studying
hard about three weeks. I spent my vacation very pleasantly at
home in Columbus. I did not fall in love nor meet with any un-
common accidents. I shall remain here until the middle of next
January, after which time I shall remain in Ohio, commencing the
practice of my profession as soon as possible. I am applying my-
self almost exclusively to the law. My deficiencies are so many
and apparent that I fear no exertion I can now make will prepare
160 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
me for entrance into business as well as I could wish. But what
I leave undone now may be finished, partially at least, during the
intervals of leisure which for many years I am to expect. During
that time I must also devote considerable time to literature and
history with particular reference [to qualifying myself] as a
writer and speaker. The ability to speak is so valuable to a
lawyer that no time is misspent which is given to its attainment.
Night before last I had an opportunity of listening to one of the
best speakers I ever heard, J. M. Berrien, of Georgia. His natural
advantages are great. A fine form,--rather portly,--an in-
tellectual countenance, with a most winning smile and silvery
voice, are but the external graces which adorn the man. He is
an accurate, logical reasoner, fluent, warm, and entertaining. I
never heard a speaker who could make abstract reasoning so inter-
esting. Now, though I can never hope to equal him for want of
his natural endowments, yet his habits of thought, power of ex-
pression, and winning manner, arising from sweetness of temper,
can in some degree be acquired by continued study, attention, and
effort. If I could succeed in approaching him, how would it
rejoice my friends, and how pleasing it would be to myself. First,
knowledge of my profession; second, general information; third,
the power of using my materials, and fourthly, manners and
temper suited to these acquirements.
October 1, 1844.--Professor Longfellow thinks that the fame
of Goethe stands fairer in Germany now than it ever did before.
Some of his writings certainly have an immoral tendency, while
others are as pure and elevating as any that were ever written
by uninspired penman. Goethe thought that so far as an author
was careful of the moral principles of his work, so far was the
perfection of the work likely to be lessened. He would prefer to
write nothing immoral, but virtue must be sacrificed to literary
Judge Story considers Albert Gallatin and Hamilton the
greatest financiers this country has ever produced. Gallatin al-
ways said that he found in the treasury department nothing to
alter. Hamilton had formed a system perfect in all its parts.
Gallatin used to say that speakers, eloquent speakers, were too
STUDYING LAW, HARVARD, 1843-1845 161
abundant in Congress; business men, good committeemen,
were too scarce. He was one of the greatest men of
his time. Samuel Dexter, of whom Marshall said, "a man of
greater mind I never knew," and Fisher Ames, one of the most
fluent men who ever lived, called on Hamilton to get him to ex-
plain some of his financial plans. Hamilton conversed with them
for three or four hours, going over the whole subject. After
leaving the room Ames said to Dexter: "Hamilton is a man of
most extraordinary power. Now, Dexter, to be plain with you, I
have not understood one word Hamilton said for the last three-
quarters of an hour. How is it with you?" To which Dexter
replied: "Don't stop there. I haven't understood anything for
the last two hours. I was in a thick fog, I couldn't follow him."
October 5, 1844.--I am now twenty-two years old--and one
day. Oh, time--time! But, "Look not mournfully into the past.
It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear and with a
I must change my plan of reading. Read now not those works
which I think best, for I shall always have those at hand, but
those which I shall not be likely to find elsewhere. Carry this
into all my studies--polite literature, reported cases, and
treatises. I will commence this Monday.
November 9, 1844.--Politics have filled all minds for the last
ten days. During the last five days I have not learned as much
as I ought to learn in one. But now the din of politics is sub-
siding, I shall listen to the voice of reason. The result of the
Presidential election has disappointed me greatly. I would start
in the world without a penny if by my sacrifice Clay could be
chosen President. Not that the difference to the country is likely
to be very great, in my opinion, but then to think that so good
and great a man should be defeated. Slandered as he has been,
it would have been such a triumph to have elected him. But it
cannot be. Now I must withdraw my thoughts from party poli-
tics and apply my whole energies to the law. There will be no sad
reverses there, if I am true to myself. I will begin the first of
162 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
next week and apply myself patiently, earnestly, constantly to the
law till I leave the Law School.
November 18, 1844.--The greatest speech Wirt ever made
was in the case of the "Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia."
The greatest speech Webster ever made was in the Dartmouth
College case. Judge Marshall was affected to tears by the elo-
quent peroration of Wirt. He then said: "I have not shed a
tear before since Webster delivered his great speech in the Dart-
mouth College case. I then did not expect ever to shed another
upon such an occasion." The three greatest opinions to be found
in the books are "Griswold v. Waddington," 16 John, by Kent.
January 1, 1845.--This is the beginning of the new year. In
two or three weeks I shall leave the Law School and soon after
shall begin to live. Heretofore I have been getting ready to live.
How much has been left undone, it is of no use to reckon. My
labors have been to cultivate and store my mind. This year the
character, the whole man, must receive attention. I will strive to
become in manners, morals, and feelings a true gentleman. The
rudeness of a student must be laid off, and the quiet, manly de-
portment of a gentleman put on--not merely to be worn as a
garment, but to become by use a part of myself. I believe I know
what true gentility, genuine good breeding, is. Let me but live
out what is within, and I am vain enough to think that little of
what is important would be found wanting.
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