I have a very distinct conception, not only of his character, but of the nature of the influence which he exerted upon society. I think I may say that his character was a matter of history in Virginia tradition, for no man was known or beloved by a wider or more important circle of friends in Virginia at the time of his death, than James M. Garnett, and none had a more distinct individuality of character in their opinion. Did any great question suddenly arise in American politics, no man of those who knew him, and he was known to many, doubted where he would be found, and the same may be said of questions of social progress or ethical importance. Mr. Garnett was a Virginia gentleman, a Christian philosopher, a cultivated scholar, owning a well selected library, which was unusually large for a private individual. He possessed keen powers of observation, exercised over a large circle of acquaintances, a rich turn for humor and rare powers of description and conversation. He knew how to amuse as well as to instruct, making himself agreeable to old and young. To the last day of a long life he retained these powers, and in my frequent visits to his home I never failed to derive pleasure and instruction from his conversation. It must be remembered that he was a close observer of all classes of society, for he mingled with them all. He was a lover of mankind.I have thus endeavored, sir, very inadequately, to portray the moral and intellectual features of my revered ancestor, of whom I have no recollection save an indistinct memory of his personal appearance, and to pay even this small tribute to his memory. I hope that I have been able to bring his picture, even though but a partial one, before the sons of his neighbors and friends, by whom he was so highly esteemed and honored, and to adduce some reasons why his portrait should occupy the prominent position which you have assigned to it. I trust, sir, that others may be led by your example in forming this collection of portraits, to revere the Virginians of the olden time, than whom no nobler race of men has existed on this earth.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.