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lence and the contempt of study. Let him remember that the powers which surmounted the disadvantage of those early habits, were such as very rarely appear upon this earth.
Let him remember, too, how long the genius, even of Mr. Henry, was kept down and hidden from the public view, by the sorcery of those pernicious habits; through what years of poverty and wretchedness they dooined him to struggle; and, let him remember, that, at length, when in the zenith of his glory, Mr. Henry, himself, had frequent occasions to deplore the consequences of his early neglect of litcrature, and to bewail the ghosts of his departed hours.'
At the age of fifteen years, young Henry was placed behind the counter of a merchant in the country; and at sixteen his father set him up in trade, in partnership with his brother William. Through laziness, the love of music, the charms of the chase, and a readiness to trust every one, the firm was soon reduced to bankruptcy. The only advantage which resulted from his short continuance in mercantile business was an oppportunity to study human characters.
At eighteen Mr. Henry married the daughter of an honest farmer, and undertook to cultivate a few acres for himself. His only delights, at this time, were those which flow from the endearing relations of conjugal life. His want of agricultural skill, and his unconquerable aversion to every species of systematic labour, terminated his career as a planter, in the short space of two years. Again he had recourse to merchandise, and again failed in business. Every atom of his property was now gone, his friends were unable to assist "him any further; he had tried every means of support, of which he thought himself capable, and every one had failedl; ruin was behind him; poverty, debt, want, and famine before; and as if his cup of misery were not already full enough, here was a suffering wife and children to make it overflow. Still he had a cheerful temper, and his passion was music, dancing, and pleasantry. About this time he became fond of geography and historical works generally. Livy was his favourite; and Livy, in some measure, awakened the dormant powers of his genius. As a last effort, he determined, of his own accord, to make a trial of the law. He, however, disliked the professional business of an attorney at law, and he seems to have hoped for nothing more from the profession than a scanty subsistence for himself and his family, and his preparation was suited to these humble expectations; for, to the study of a profession, which is said to require the lucubrations of twenty years, Mr Henry devoted not more than six weeks. On examination, he was licensed, rather through courtesy, and some expectation that he would study, than from any conviction which his examiners had of his present competence. At the age of four and twenty he was admitted to the bar; and for three years occupied the back ground; during which period the wants and distressess of his family were extreme; and he performed the duty of an assistant to his father-in-law in a tavern.
In 1764, he pursued his favourite amusement of hunting, with extreme ardour; and has been known to hunt deer, frequently for several days together, carrying his provisions with him, and at night encamping in the woods,
After the hunt was over, he would go from the ground to Louisa court, clad in a coarse cloth coat stained with all the trophies of the chase, greasy leather breeches ornamented in the same way, leggings for boots, and a pair of saddle-bags on his arm. Thus accoutred, he would enter the court-house, take up the first of his causes that chanced to be called; and if there was any scope for his peculiar talent, throw his adversary into the back ground, and astonish both court and jury by the powerful effusions of his natural eloquence.
In the same year he was introduced to the gay and fashionable circle at Williamsburg, then the seat of government for the state, that he might be counsel in case of a contested election: but he made no preparation for pleading and, as we might naturally suppose, none for appearing in a suitable costume. He moved awkwardly about in his coarse and threadbare dress; and while some thought him a prodigy, others concluded him to be an ideot: nevertheless, before, the committee of elections, he delivered an argument which judge Tyler, judge Winston, and others, pronounced the best they ever heard. In the same year, it is asserted on the authority of Mr. Jefferson, that Mr. Henry gave the first impulse to the ball of the revolution. He originated the spirit of the revolution in Virginia, unquestionably; and possessed a dauntless soul, exactly suited to the important work he was destined to perform.
In the year 1765, he was a member of the assembly of Virginia. He introduced his celebrated resolutions against the stamp act, which breathed a spirit of liberty, and which had a tendency to rouse the people of that commonwealth in favour of our glorious revolution. After his death, there was found among
papers one sealed, and thus endorsed; “ Inclosed are the resolutions of the Virginia assembly, in 1765, concerning the stamp act. Let my executors open this paper." Within was found the following copy of the resolutions, in Mr. Henry's handwriting
“Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this, his majesty's colony and dominion, brought with them and transmitted to their posterity, and all other his majesty's subjects, since inhabiting in this, his majesty's said colony, all the privileges, franchises, and immunities, that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed, by the people of Great Britain.
“Resolved, That by two royal.charters, granted by king James the first, the colonists aforesaid, are declared entitled to all the privileges, liberties and immunities, of denizens and natural born subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England.
“Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, and the easiest mode of raising them, and are equally affected by such taxes themselves, is the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, and without which the ancient constitution cannot subsist.
"Resolved, That his majesty's liege people of this most ancient colony, have uninterruptedly enjoyed the right of being thus governed by their own assembly, in the article of their taxes and internal police, and that the same hath never been forfeited, or any other way given up, but hath been constantly recognized by the king and people of Great Britain.
"Resolved, therefore, That the general assembly of this colony have the sole right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever, other than the general assembly aforesaid, bas a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."
“On the back of the paper containing those resolutions, is the following endorsement, which is also in the hand-writing of Mr. Henry himself. “The within resolutions passed the house of burges... ses in May, 1765. They formed the first opposition to the stamp act, and the scheme of taxing America by the British parliament. All the colonies, either through fear, or want of opportunity to form an opposition, or from influence of some kind or other, had remained silent. I had been, for the first time, elected a burgess, a few days before; was young, inexperienced, unacquainted with the forms of the house, and the members that composed it. Finding the men of weight averse to opposition, and the commencement of the tax at hand, and that no person was likely to step forth, I determined to venture, and alone, unadvised, and unassisted, on a blank leaf of an old law book, wrote the within. Upon offering them to the house, violent debates ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast on me, by the party for submission. After a long and warm contest, the resolutions passed by a very small majority, perhaps of one or two only. The alarm spread throughout America with astonishing quickness, and the ministerial party were overwhelmed. The great point of resistance to British taxation was universally established in the colonies. This brought on the war, which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.
"Reader! whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere, practise virtue thyself, and encourage it in others. P. HENRY.'
Such is the short, plain, and modest account which Mr. Henry has left of this transaction.
Every American realized the truth expressed in Mr. Henry's resolutions; but no man beside him