Representative men interpret the genius of peoples.
Personal virtues and public services are so different in essence and effect, that nations often glorify those whose private characters are detestable, and condemn others who possess the most admirable traits.
The notorious vices of Marlborough
stood not in the way of the titles, honors, and estates which England
heaped on the hero of Blenheim
, and the nobleness of Robert Emmett
did not shield the champion of Irish independence from the scaffold.
But the men of history cannot be thus dismissed from the bar of public judgment with verdicts wrung from the passion of an hour.
There is a court of appeals in the calmer life and clearer intelligence
of nations, and whenever the inherent rights or the moral ideas underlying the movements of society are brought in question, the personal qualities, the honor, the comprehension, the constancy of its leading spirits must contribute largely to the final judgment.
In this forum personal and public character are blended, for in great conjunctures it is largely through their representative men that we must interpret the genius of peoples.