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GEORGE P. MORRIS,
THE TONES OF WHOSE LYRE HAVE WAKED, IN FOREIGN LANDS, A RESPONSE FROM
"Those chords of pervading Nature,
Which fraternize multitudes of differing nations;"
AND OF WHOM THE AUTHOR OF THESE WRITINGS SAYS:
"Search the wide world over, and you shall not find among the literary men of any nation, one on whom the dignity of a free and manly spirit sits with a grace more native and familiar: whose acts, whether common and daily, or deliberate and much considered, are wont, at all times, to be more beautifully impressed with those marks of sincerity, of modesty, and of justice, which form the very seal of worth in conduct;"
THESE PAGES ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED
BY THE EDITOR.
"Tell Mr. H. B. Wallace I am proud of his praise. He is one of the few in this our day and generation, who can appreciate the solution of a black letter question.”—Letter of Chief Justice Gibson, of Pennsylvania, July 7, 1851.
Je dois maintenant achever cette préface en déplorant la catastrophe exceptionnelle qui me priva récemment d'un éminent disciple, destiné, sans doute, à devenir l'un des meilleurs appuis du positivisme. En signalant, dans la préface du volume précédent, la digne adhésion d'un noble citoyen de Philadelphie, j'étais loin de prévoir qu'une fatale maladie allait m'enlever Wallace, à l'âge de trente-cinq ans.
Quoique nos relations se soient bornées à trois entretiens décisifs, séparés par une correspondance aussi courte que précieuse, elles m'ont permis de juger la perte que fait en lui l'Humanité. D'après un rare concours entre le cœur, l'esprit, et le caractère, il devait puissamment seconder la difficile transition réservée au dix-neuvième siècle. Exempte de toute affectation, sa culture spéculative, tant esthétique que scientifique, correspondait pleinement à sa belle organisation. Mais ses confidences spontanées m'autorisent à penser, malgré les essais littéraires de sa jeunesse, qu'il se serait surtout illustré par la vie active, dans un pays où les grands citoyens prévalent sur les magistrats. J'ose résumer sa véritable appréciation en le comparant au plus éminent des hommes d'Etat américains.
Chaque fois que je vois ainsi disparaître, avant le temps, un être vraiment supérieur, je déplore la fatale impuissance de l'Humanité contre les lois extérieures qui lui ravissent ses meilleurs organes. Quoique l'influence subjective perpétue les services objectifs, elle n'empêchera jamais de sentir que nous fûmes privés de Bichat, de Vauvenargues, de Bellini, etc., sans avoir pu subir leur principal ascendant.-Auguste Comte. Pref., vol. 3eme, du Systeme do Politique Positive, p. xvii.
"Horace Binney Wallace, of Philadelphia, is a son of the late John B. Wallace, and nephew of Mr. Binney. He is a young man of as much ability and power as any I know. His father was one of my best, warmest, truest friends. He died eight or nine years ago. I have cultivated the acquaintance of this son, and if I had the power I would most cheerfully bring him into public service."-Letter of Daniel Webster to Hiram Ketcham, of New York, February 22, 1849.
THE papers which are contained in this volume are the productions of a young man, whose career was terminated in a foreign country, at the age of thirty-five. Much of the last year of his life had been occupied in the pursuit of health. He had previously passed a considerable time in foreign travel, and when at home and while discharging, with remarkable interest and fidelity, all the duties of his social and civil station, had been a constant laborer in his profession, the law, to which science he had contributed some of the best known and most authoritative publications which American Jurisprudence now owns. A volume, entitled "Art, Scenery and Philosophy in Europe," was published in 1855, from manuscripts found in his port-folio at Paris, after his death; but, as a literary writer, he was not during his life-time ever publicly known, nor at all willing to be known. No one of the papers, printed since his death, was ever acknowledged by him in any way; and outside of his profession every thing that he either wrote or printed was given off by him in the most perishable form, and without the least idea of ever claiming or acknowledging it himself, or of its being at any time presented by others as his. These facts are proper to be stated in order that the reader may understand the true relation of Mr. Wallace, to what is here presented as the production of his pen. It is probable that occasional passages in the present volume ought not to be regarded as the completed or final expression of his judgment: and it is certain, from what has been already said, that he did not regard any of the pieces as a satisfactory expression of literary effort. Many of them, as will be seen by the indication placed at the head of each page were written at the age of twenty-one or below it, and were merely tentative; "the flights of a noble bird for the first time essaying his own wings." Indeed his life, up to its close, seemed to have been one chiefly of study and preparation and it was one of
the sad circumstances connected with his death, that his fine powers seem to be arranging themselves, with confidence in their own strength, for great, sustained, and systematic labor in the departments of literature, philosophy and politics, when they were paralyzed at their source.
The pieces, it will be perceived, are different in extent and character. Several of them are fragmentary. A few have been printed in an ephemeral and limited form. Of these several were designed as expressions of friendly feeling to literary men of our country who are the subjects of them, and who till now, it is probable, have never known, except as they may have inferred it from internal evidence, the pen from which they came. Some were contributions, spontaneous or solicited, to the enterprises of unfriended merit seeking subsistence in the scanty fields of our native literature: A few have appeared in newspapers or other journals, the editors of which, while generally ignorant of their source, were usually impressed by the genius whose stamp they bore: And the residue appear to have been written chiefly in obedience to that law which declares that "genius will labor." "He wrote and thought," said one of the guides and exponents of the best public opinion in Philadelphia,* in speaking of Mr. Wallace after his death, "with the most unselfish indifference to the immediate results to his own fame or fortune. To a limited circle of his personal and professional friends and of people who detected his unusual intelligence even in its retirement, was he known: and it was only after his death, when the admiration of these was expressed along with their grief, that the public at large discovered that a man of extraordinary talents had been born and bred among them."
The "Art, Scenery and Philosophy" already referred to, and the volume now printed, form but a small part of Mr. Wallace's literary productions. Other portions of them, along with parts of his correspondence, may hereafter, it is possible, be communicated to the public. Philadelphia, February 26th, 1856.
"The Evening Bulletin," November 25, 1854.
THE PROSE WRITERS OF AMERICA: WITH AN INTRODUCTORY SURVEY OF THE
No man is more deserving of the public gratitude than he who
This volume, greatly enlarged and improved by the numerous editions