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Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 25. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Sergeant Smith Prentiss and his career. (search)
rked on, and its treasures flowed spontaneously. There was no air of thought, no elevation, frowning or knitting of the brow, no fixing up of the countenance, no pauses to collect or arrange his thoughts. All seemed natural and unpremeditated. No one felt uneasy lest he should fail; in his most brilliant flights, the empyrean heights into which he soared seemed to be his natural element, as the upper air the eagle's. Among the most powerful of his jury efforts were his speeches against Bird for the murder of Cameron, and against Phelps, the notorious highway robber and murderer. Both were convicted. The former owed his conviction, as General Foote, who defended him with great zeal and ability thought, to the transcendent eloquence of Prentiss. He was justly convicted, however, as his confession, afterwards made, proved. Phelps was one of the most daring and desperate of ruffians. He confronted his prosecutor and the court, not only with composure, but with scornful and mali