His overweening self-esteem was his chief blemish;
and if he compared himself with his great fellow laborers, there was some point on which he was superior to any one of them; he had more learning than Washington
, or any other American statesman of his age; better knowledge of liberty as founded in law than Samuel Adams
; clearer insight into the constructive elements of government than Franklin
; more power in debate than Jefferson
; more courageous manliness than Dickinson
; more force in motion than Jay
; so that, by varying and confining his comparisons, he could easily fancy himself the greatest of them all. He was capable of thinking himself the centre of any circle, of which he had been no more than a tangent; his vanity was in such excess that in manhood it sometimes confused his judgment and in age bewildered his memory; but the stain did not reach beyond the surface; it impaired the lustre, not the hardy integrity of his character.
He was humane and frank, generous and clement; yet he wanted that spirit of love which reconciles to being outdone.
He could not look with complacency on those who excelled him, and regarded another's bearing away the palm as a wrong to himself; he never sat placidly under the shade of a greater reputation than his own, and could try to jostle aside the presumptuous possessor of recognised superiority; but his envy, though it laid open how deeply his self-love was wounded, had hardly a tinge of malignity, and never led him to derelictions for the sake of revenge.
He did his fame injustice when, later in life, he represented himself as suffering from persecutions on account of his early zeal for independence; he was no weakling to whine about injured feelings; he