Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/28

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24 Southern Historical Scent;/ /'O/K />.

never shrunk ; and so to denounce it as to bring himself in direct collision with the perpetrator or perpetrators for he took them in crowds as well as singly was a task for which he was instant, in season or out of season.

" Even in the vices of Prentiss there were magnificence and bril- liancy imposing in a high degree. When he treated it was a mass entertainment. On one occasion he chartered a theatre for the special gratification of his friends the public generally. He bet thousands on a turn of a card, and witnessed the success or failure of the wager with the nonchalance of a Mexican monte player ; or, as was most usual, with the light humor of a Spanish muleteer. He broke a faro bank by the nerve with which he laid his large bets, and by exciting the passion of the veteran dealer, or awed him into honesty by the glance of his strong and steady eye.

" Attachment to his friends was a passion. It was a part of the loyalty to the honorable and chivalric, which formed the subsoil of his strange and wayward nature. He never deserted a friend. His confidence knew no bounds. It scorned all restraints and considera- tions of prudence or policy. He made his friends' quarrels his own, and was as guardful of their reputations as of his own. He would put his name on the back of their paper without looking at the face of it, and gave his carte blanche, if needed, by the quire. He was above the littleness of jealousy or rivalry, and his love of truth, his fidelity and frankness were formed on the antique models of the chevaliers. But in social qualities he knew no rival. These made him the delight of every circle ; they were adapted to all, and were exercised on all. The same histrionic and dramatic talent that gave to his oratory so irresistible a charm, and adapted him to all grades and sorts of people, fitted him, in conversation, to delight all men. He never staled and never flagged. Even if the fund of acquired capital could have run out, his originality was such that his supply from the perennial fountain within was inexhaustible.

" His humor was as various as profound from the most delicate wit to the broadest farce, from irony to caricature, from classical illusion to the verge and sometimes beyond the verge of coarse jest and Falstaff extravagance, and no one knew in which depart- ment he most excelled. His animal spirits flowed over, like an arte- sian well, ever gushing out in a deep, bright, and sparkling current.

' ' He never seemed to despond or droop for a moment ; the cares and anxieties of life were mere bagatelles to him. Sent to jail for fighting in the courthouse, he made the walls of the prison resound