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[111]

To Charlemagne Tower, Waterville, N. Y.

Law School, Divinity Hall, No. 10, Sept. 29, 1831.
A new curtain has arisen. I am treading another scene of life. I behold new objects of study, and am presented with new sources of reflection. I have left Boston and the profitless thoughts which its streets, its inhabitants, its politics, and its newspapers ever excite. I find myself again in loved Cambridge, where are sociability and retirement, and where those frittering cares and thoughts which every city inflicts upon its unlucky sojourners do not intrude. I feel differently, very differently, from what I did when I enjoyed this town, in all the nonchalance of an undergraduate, heedless of time,—that property more valuable than silver and gold,—and seeking, in the main, a pleasant way to throw away hours and minutes. I now feel that every moment, like a filing of gold, ought to be saved. But in the acting up to this feeling, strong as it may be, will lie the failure. Labor, though we all acknowledge its potency, still has too repulsive a front. Be it my duty to see in its appearance nothing but invitation and incentive. Yes, duty shall gird me for its endurance. But, to stop this vague sermonizing, I am now a regular member of the Law School, have read a volume and a half of Blackstone, and am enamored of the law. Tower, we have struck the true profession; the one in which the mind is the most sharpened and quickened, and the duties of which, properly discharged, are most vital to the interests of the country,—for religion exists independent of its ministers; every breast feels it: but the law lives only in the honesty and learning of lawyers. Let us feel conscious, then, of our responsibility; and, by as much as our profession excels in interest and importance, give to it a corresponding dedication of our abilities. And yet I give back in despair when I see the vast weight which a lawyer must bear up under. Volumes upon volumes are to be mastered of the niceties of the law, and the whole circle of literature and science and history must be compassed. . . .

Tell me what law-books you have read and are reading, and whether you have taken notes of or ‘commonplaced’ any of your study. I have taken some notes from Blackstone of the different estates, contingent remainders, &c. As to Blackstone, I almost feel disposed to join with Fox, who pronounced him the best writer in the English language. He is clear, fluent, and elegant, with occasionally a loose expression and a bad use of a metaphor; but what a good thing for our profession that we can commence our studies with such an author. His commentaries unfold a full knowledge by themselves of the law,—a knowledge to be filled out by further study, but which is yet a whole by itself. . . .

The lower floor of Divinity Hall, where I reside, is occupied by law-students. There are here Browne and Dana of our old class, with others that I know nothing of,—not even my neighbor, parted from me by a partition-wall, have I seen yet; and I do not wish to see him. I wish no acquaintances, for they eat up time like locusts. The old classmates are enough. . . . I


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Blackstone (3)
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