He completed his education at the South
Carolina College, graduating therefrom in 1809 with the highest honor of his class.
We frequently hear people speak disparagingly of first honor men. I am sure the facts do not warrant any such characterization.
If you will study the history of the alumni of any institution, you will be surprised to learn how many of the more distinguished graduates were first honor men. If, however, to win the first honor is a misfortune and a burden to carry in after life, Mr. Petigru
had no harder fate than many others, among whom I may name Judge David L. Wardlaw
, Dr. J. H. Thornwell
and Hugh S. Legare
, each of whom merits the designation, clarum et venerabile nomen
. Mr. Pettigru
was well versed in literature.
He was familiar with the poets and with all the great masters of literature.
When a boy he was fond of reading Pope
, and as the years glided swiftly by he found his interest in them continuing as strong as ever.
There have been a great many lawyers in Carolina
who have affected literature and at the same time excelled in their chosen profession, notably: the silver tongued orator, William C. Preston
, and the accomplished man of letters, Hugh S. Legare
The latter was fortunate enough to enjoy almost every advantage afforded by education and travel, and he did not fail to embrace and improve his opportunities.
It was a mooted question in that day, and it has never been settled yet, whether it is best, or even good, for a lawyer to be known as dabbling much in literature.
was afraid that it hurt himself.
has presented some strong arguments on the other side.
He maintains that literature benefits and improves the very means which a lawyer uses to attain success.
It sharpens the wit. It enlarges and improves the diction.
It broadens the mind and widens the scope of vision.
It cultivates and develops the powers of analysis and discrimination.
Stimulates the imagination and strengthens the memory.
On the other hand, it is argued that literature unfits one for practical life.
It tends to make one shun the aggressive, bustling world, and to long for quiet and repose.
The drift of opinion and the force of example in this country, perhaps, tend to sustain this better view, while in England
the opposite is the case.
Again, Mr. Petigru
excelled as a conversationalist.
He was noted for his wit and repartee, and many of his bright sayings have been handed down to us and pass current yet, no doubt considerably exaggerated.
His home in Charleston
and the up-country was the favorite resort of those who wanted to be entertained with ideas, experiences and incidents that were fresh, sparkling and vivacious.
He was very