before the Virginia Historical Society, December 15, 1853, and contained in the Virginia Historical Reporter
for 1854 (Vol.
I., pp. 81-83), a very rare pamphlet.
says: ‘Although as the contests of the Convention
the lines of division were strictly drawn between the friends and opponents of the old constitution, now that those strifes are past, and most of the active spirits of those exciting times are no more, it may not be inappropriate to class two names together, which, though never on the same side of the perpetually recurring call of the roll, were bound by the cords of Christian affection and were united in the support of all the religious and humane schemes which honored the age in which they lived—James Mercer Garnett
and William Harrison Fitzhugh
was by many years the elder of the two, and may be said to have closed his political life twenty years before the assembling of the Convention
and before that of Fitzhugh
He had been a member of the House of Delegates and was a member of the House of Representatives during the entire second term of Mr. Jefferson
's administration; and though rarely engaged in prolonged debate, was an efficient coadjutor of the party at the head of which was Mr. Randolph
, which opposed the policy of that statesman.
Thenceforth he almost renounced public life, and devoted his time to agriculture, education, and religion, three great interests which then required all his fostering care.
He was not far from sixty, but retained in his gait the elasticity and erectness of a young man. He did not make a formal speech during the session, but watched the progress of events with the strictest attention, and some one present may remember how distinctly his sonorous voice was heard above all others at the call of the ayes and nays, and was recognized at once.
He was full of life and delighted in society, of which his polished manners, his humor deepening at times into a caustic wit, and his large historical recollections made him a brilliant ornament.
If John Randolph
excited the mirth of the Convention
at the expense of Mr. Jefferson
's “mould-boards of the least possible resistance,” Garnett
brought forth roars of laughter in private circles at Mr. Madison
's scheme of hitching the bison to the plough.
It was in the social gathering that the artillery of his political party was brought to bear with the most decided success; and many a young politician, who would have taken the alarm at an allusion to the embargo on the war, sunk under the raillery played against the philosopher and the farmer.’
was a man of high education, as his writings show,