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Xxi.

Judge Bates, the Attorney-General, was one day very severe upon the modern ideal school of [68] art, as applied to historic characters and events. He instanced in sculpture, Greenough's “Washington,” in the Capitol grounds, which, he said, was a very good illustration of the heathen idea of Jupiter Tonans, but was the farthest possible remove from any American's conception of the Father of his Country. Powell's painting in the Rotunda, “De Soto discovering the Mississippi,” and Mills's equestrian statue of Jackson, in front of the President's House, shared in his sarcastic condemnation. He quoted from an old English poet — Creech, I think he said — with much unction:--

“Whatever contradicts my sense I hate to see, and can but disbelieve.” “Genius and talent,” said he, on another occasion, “are rarely found combined in one individual.” I requested his definition of the distinction. “Genius,” he replied, “conceives; talent executes.”

Referring to Mr. Lincoln's never-failing fund of anecdote, he remarked, “The character of the President's mind is such that his thought habitually takes on this form of illustration, by which the point he wishes to enforce is invariably brought home with a strength and clearness impossible in hours of abstract argument. Mr. Lincoln,” he added, “comes very near being a perfect man, according to my ideal of manhood. He lacks but one thing.” Looking up from my palette, I asked, [69] musingly, if this was official dignity as President. “No,” replied Judge Bates, “that is of little consequence. His deficiency is in the element of will. I have sometimes told him, for instance, that he was unfit to be intrusted with the pardoning power. Why, if a man comes to him with a touching story, his judgment is almost certain to be affected by it. Should the applicant be a woman, a wife, a mother, or a sister,--in nine cases out of ten, her tears, if nothing else, are sure to prevail.”

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