Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/323

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him by a well-known writer of the day came to mind: " Mr. Semmes is of middle height; he has eyes that ijlmv with Promethean fire; regular features in which assiduous labor and long nights of study have left no trace. He is not demonstrative in manner, yet he is a true and reliable friend. His expression is serious, !>ut when excited in speech it grows articulate with the emotions that thrill his soul. His voice is musical and fits every intonation and cadence, his pene- trative intellect is as quick as it is vivid, and does not wait upon labored induction; he darts at once upon the core of his subject, and starts where most reasoners end. He is familiar with the Latin and Greek classics; Tacitus is his favorite author. Disciplined by such an education, his tastes are always correct. In the subtle game of law he is as adroit as a general in the field ; when he gets into his subject and is warmed with it, he utters words of fire that carry the listener along captive with him. If his argument is close to the point, it is at the same time full of his adversary's inconsistencies. He is renowned for his ability to sway courts by his logic, almost irresistible, and his juries by his fascinating eloquence. He is called by some of our lawyers the incarnation of logic. At home his man- ners are amiable and his spirit buoyant and playful; he is a loving and indulgent father and husband, and when he can lay aside the cares of his office he gives himself over to the enjoyment of domes- tic happiness."

Both Mr. Semmes and his wife are charming, interesting conver- sationalists, and, listening to the two, one can understand the long and tender friendship and affection that has bound them as one; it is a union not only of heart and hand, but of mind and soul, and, knowing them well, one can better understand the great success that has attended his life when he meets with such congenial companion- ship and sympathy in the partner of his choice. Father Semmes, too, is a delightful addition to their household, and the tender defer- ence paid to this venerable and beloved priest is a key-note to the character of his brother and sister.

The conversation had drifted in that delightful way characteristic of informal home dinings from one topic to another, when Mr. Semmes began to tell stones of his boyhood at Georgetown and his college days at Harvard. The Semmes family is of French and English descent, and was among the first settlers of Maryland. A member of the family, Middleton Semmes, when a judge of the Court of Appeals in Maryland, discovered among some old colonial papers the record showing that "Joseph Semmes, of Normandy,