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and Louisiana, the powers and jurisdiction of Circuit Courts, it proposed to repeal; and provided that there should be, thereafter, Circuit Courts for said districts, to be composed of the Justice of the Supreme Court assigned to the Circuit, to which such districts respectively belonged, and of the District Judge of said district.

The resolution was subsequently modified, so as "to instruct the Committee on the Judiciary, so to amend the bill, as to discharge the Judges of the Supreme Court from attendance on the Circuit Courts of the United States, and further to provide an uniform, efficient system for the administration of justice in the inferior courts of the United States.”

The terms of the resolution indicate that a great question was at issue; no less than the Judiciary of the United States. The President, in his annual message to Congress in 1825, adverted to the subject. It was referred at that session to the appropriate committee; which, in their report, discussed the reform required, (as they said,) by the exigencies of the country, and proposed by bill, material alterations in the whole system.

The question engaged the finest talent in the House. It was upon this topic, that Mr. Burges made his first speech.' His observations were confined to the bill introduced by the Committee, and the resolution before quoted, submitted by Mr. Mercer, of Virginia. This is reputed to be one of his happiest efforts; uniting judgment, power and eloquence. Antecedent to this period, little was known of Mr. Burges, beyond the limits of his own State; for the scenes of private life had been more welcome to him than the theatre of political contention. He entered the House of Representatives, therefore, with no prepossessions on either side. By his commanding powers of mind and character only, could he be known; and by them only he advanced in popularity. When, on the important subject of the Judiciary, he rose to address the House, his very appearance inspired respect. A man was now speaking, whose locks

2

1 See Part II. for this speech.

2 The personal appearance of Mr. Burges indicates a number of years beyond his real age.

were whitened by many a winter's frost; and from whose lips, flowed lessons of experience; by whose bending form, and melodious tones, and deliberate enunciation, and captivating manner, all minds were arrested; and by whom, the attention of all was rivetted, from the beginning to the end of his speech. When he was pleading for the independence of the Judiciary, that shield of our national union, and imploring Congress not to enter the hallowed temple, by any act of profanation; when he urged them to extend protection over the judicial edifice, "that it may subserve the wants, and satisfy the requirements of these increasing States, and the multiplying millions of this great nation, until the American Eagle shall, with one wing, winnow the breezes of the Atlantic, and with the other, hover over the quiet waters of the Pacific; until the colossal power of the Republic, standing on the lofty mountains of this continent, shall, with one hand, extend the olive branch to the peaceful nations of the earth, and with the other wave the sword of justice, over the satisfied and tranquil citizens of these widely extended regions,"-it was then a veteran member exclaimed"That speech is one of the greatest displays of eloquence ever made in this hall." From that time the reputation of Mr. Burges was acknowledged in a wider sphere; in his increasing fame, the nation participated. A few days after this address, which was the only one made by him during the session, he was attacked by the asthma, to which he is subject, and he could not perform any arduous labor for the remainder of the session.

CHAPTER V.

Death of Mr. Burges's daughter.-He is re-elected to Congress.-Death of his other daughters. He speaks on the Revolutionary Claims.-Mr. Mallary's Resolution. He replies to Mr. McDuffie.-Address before the American Institute of New-York.-Death of his son.

For many years, Mr. Burges's life had flowed in a smooth current. His family circle was more and more endeared to him, and its treasures satisfied his fondest hopes. But soon they were to be darkened, and cut down, as it were, in their blossom. In 1826, his second daughter died, in the twentyfirst year of her age. Accomplished in mind, beautiful in her person, winning in her disposition and manners, a fond and cherished object of a father's care, and a mother's tenderest solicitude, she was taken in the day-spring of life, from that father's protection, and laid down to sleep in her grave. To one possessed of delicate feelings, like Mr. Burges, this event could not but make a deep impression. The affliction seemed almost too poignant to be borne. In early life, he had shared the attendant ills of obscurity and disappointment; in later years, he had struggled against other misfortunes, and they were heroically surmounted. But, when death came, and seized a beloved child, his spirit was bent, like the reed by the

storm.

In August, 1827, he was re-elected a Member of the House of Representatives of the United States, without opposition. This event in his public life, was followed by another and another domestic bereavement. The following September, his youngest daughter died, in her fourteenth year. In October, his eldest daughter died, in her twenty-third year. Three children were thus in a few weeks consigned to the tomb. It seemed to him, "that nature's law was reversed." He thought that these

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children would go to the last home of their father; not the father to the graves of his daughters. When time had assuaged the bitterness of sorrow, then, like a Christian, he was reconciled; and was consoled by the reflection, that their pure spirits dwelt with a Father in Heaven.

At the commencement of the session of 1827-8, Mr. Burges did not mingle in the debates of the House. Bowed down by affliction, and confined for weeks by sickness, when able to attend in the Capitol, he could not enter with his wonted vigor and enthusiasm into the many questions then engaging Congress. As Chairman of the Committee on Military Pensions, he submitted a bill, accompanied with an elaborate report, on the claims of the surviving officers of the revolutionary army. In January, he addressed the House in explanation of the report, and in favor of some pecuniary grant to the venerable survivors of the army. That speech is replete with strong arguments, and beautiful illustrations. The army which suffered so much for the liberty of human nature, he contended, ought to receive from Congress, some remuneration for their services.1

Mr. Burges desired that a law should be enacted for the revolutionary soldiers, more considerable in amount, and more extensive in application, than that which finally prevailed. He wished to provide not only for the living men who had fought during the war, but also for the widows of such as had died before their country had given them any such testimonials of gratitude.

A resolution was introduced at this session, 1827-8, by Mr. Mallary, of Vermont, to amend the bill on Wool and Woollens. The question, as presented to the House, involved the great Woollen trade of the United States. Familiar with its principles and details, and knowing its importance to every section of the country, Mr. Burges spoke on the resolution. The debate was continued with great ability, for many weeks. In its progress, there was a sharp encounter between himself and Mr. McDuffie of South Carolina, who came upon Mr. Burges without warning. The latter knew not, that his antagonist

1 See Part II.

had taken the least exception to any remarks of his, on Mr. Mallary's resolution. Mr. McDuffie arose with great self-possession, and called upon the reporters "to mark him, and write his speech in their books ;" and then poured upon Mr. Burges a storm of invective, which turned every eye towards him. Mr. Burges listened with surprise and astonishment, but not with impatience; and if the Speaker had permitted him to continue, Mr. McDuffie would have felt yet deeper mortification.

Mr. Burges said :-"I claim the right to reply to what the gentleman from South Carolina has been permitted to allege against me. The pamphlet so much abused by that gentleman, is the speech which I began here in my place, and which, had it not been for want of health, I should have finished. It was then written. It was spoken, so far as it was spoken, as it was written, except the reply to the Chairman, as it is now published. I did then, as I do now, denounce the honorable gentleman for a gross plagiarism on the Boston Report. It was then done in his presence. I would not rob the gentleman of any of his claims to originality. Since he came into public life, he has certainly discovered a mind not altogether barren; and can call up a numerous family of political sophisms, legitimately, and in all their features, peculiarly his own. More than this I cannot allow him. His teeming genius could never have produced A Report on the State of the Finances,' had there never been any intercourse between him and the masculine absurdity of the Boston Report. The gentleman accuses me of making this accusation against him insidiously. It is no part of my character to do so; and the gentleman knows that his allegation has no connexion with the fact. I said it openly on this floor. I have put it in print, and I sent a printed copy of the whole speech to him, for his perusal. Had the present effusion of his genius and gentlemanly accomplishments, been poured out upon me then, I should have looked for the source of it, in the fiery and combustible elements of his nature. The generously passionate temper of a Southern clime, can furnish no such apology for that cautious malevolence, which lies in

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