Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Beauchampe; or, The Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion. >> Chapter XIII >> Page 128

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 128

Novel (Romance) | Lea and Blanchard | 1842
Transcription 128 BEAUCHAMPE.

body else looked on with trembling and with terror, throw
yourself in the way of Drummond's horses and save the
poor boy from being dashed to pieces ? There was surely
no lack of courage there !"" No ! in that sense, my son, I labour under no defi-
ciency. But this sort of courage is of the meanest kind.
It is the courage of impulse, not of steadfastness. Hear
me, William. You have more than once allowed the ex-
pression of a wonder to escape you, why a man, having
such a passion for books and study, and with the appear-
ance of mental resources, such as I am supposed to pos-
sess, should be content, retiring from the great city, to set
up his habitation in this remote and obscure region. My
chosen profession was the law ; I was no unfaithful stu-
dent. True, I had no parents to lament my wanderings
and failures ; but I did. not wander. I studied closely,
with a degree of diligece which seemed to surprise all
my companions. I was ambitious�intensely ambitious.
My head ran upon the strifes of the forum, its exciting
contests of mind and soul�its troubles, its triumphs. This
was my leading thought�it was ,my only passion. The
boy-frenzies for women, which are prompted less by
sentiment or judgment, than by feverish blood, troubled
me little. Law was my mistress--took up all my time
absorbed all my devotion. I believe that I was a good
lawyer�no pettifogger�the merely drilled creature who toils for his license, and toils for ever after solely for this
petty gains, in the miserably petty arts of making gains
for others, and eluding the snares set for his own feet by
kindred spirits. As far as the teaching of this country
could afford me the means and opportunity, I endeavoured
to procure a knowledge of universal law�its sources�its
true objects�its just principles�its legitimate dicta. Mere
authorities never satisfied me, unless, passing behind the
black gowns, I could follow up the reasoning to the first
fountains�the small original truths, the nicely discrimi-
nated requisitions of immutable justice�the clearly defined
and inevitable wants of a superior and prosperous society.
Every thing that could illustrate law as well as fortify it;
every `collateral aid, in the shape of history or moral truth,
I gathered together, even as the dragoon whose chief agent
is his sabre, yet takes care to provide himself with pistols,
that may finish what the other weapon has begun. Nor