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This, at least, was the distinction here. The young men and the literary men all admired him; the old men and the politicians found their opinions and dignity too little regarded by the impetuous stranger. The reasons of this are to be sought, I should think, in his education and constitution; and I was, therefore, not disposed to like him the less for his defect. I was not disposed to claim from a man who must have passed his youth in severe and solitary study, and who was not brought into that class of society which refines and fashions all the external expressions of character, until his mind and habits were matured, and he was brought there to be admired and to dictate,—I was not disposed to claim from him that gentleness and delicacy of manners which are acquired only by early discipline, and which are most obvious in those who have received, perhaps, their very character and direction from early collision with their superiors in station or talents.

Besides, even admitting that Mr. Jeffrey could have been early introduced to refined society, still I do not think his character would have been much changed; or, if it had been, that it would have been changed for the better. I do not think it would have been possible to have drilled him into the strict forms of society and bienseance without taking from him something we should be very sorry to lose.

There seems to me to be a prodigious rapidity in his mind which could not be taken away without diminishing its force; and yet it is this rapidity, I think, which often offended some of my elder friends, in the form of impatience and abruptness. He has, too, a promptness and decision which contribute, no doubt, to the general power of his mind, and certainly could not be repressed without taking away much of that zeal which carries him forward in his labors, and gives so lively an interest to his conversation; yet you could not be an hour in his presence without observing that his promptness and decision very often make him appear peremptory and assuming.

In short, he has such a familiar acquaintance with almost all the subjects of human knowledge, and consequently such an intimate conviction that he is right, and such a habit of carrying his point; he passes, as it seems to me, with such intuitive rapidity from thought to thought, and subject to subject,—that his mind is completely occupied and satisfied with its own knowledge and operations, and has no attention left to bestow on the tones and manners of expression. He is, in fact, so much absorbed with the weightier matters of the discussion,—with the subject, the argument, and the illustrations,—that he forgets the small tithe of humility and forbearance which he owes

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Francis Jeffrey (1)
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