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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/203

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Sketch of Capt. Don P. Halsey. 195

went in the fall of 1856 to Europe, where he remained several years, pursuing his studies at the various German universities. He studied at Bonn, Berlin and Heidelberg, all three, and at each won the highest encomiums from the learned teachers under whom he sat, and received several diplomas showing the courses he had success- fully taken. His studies in Europe were not confined to the lan- guages, in which he was specially adept, but embraced the study of science and philosophy as well. More particularly he ga've attention to the law, at the University of Heidelberg, and studied chiefly the civil law, based upon the Roman law or Code of Justinian, and be- came profoundly versed in that system of jurisprudence, so that at one time he contemplated going to Louisiana to practice, where the civil law prevails instead of the common law. He was thoroughly learned in the common law, however, and it is doubtful if any lawyer in the State during the time of his practice, surpassed him in knowl- edge of the history and principles of that great juridical system which most of the American States have received as a common her- itage from the mother country.

His talent for acquiring languages was remarkable, and it was as a linguist that he most excelled, his accomplishments as such being of such a high order that it may be questioned whether his equal could have been found in the South. His grasp of the ancient lan- guages of Greece and Rome was that of the profound and erudite student, while the modern languages of France and Germany, Spain and Italy, were to him as his native tongue. Indeed it was often remarked by educated natives of those countries, who had conversed with him, that he spoke their language without a trace of foreign accent, yet with the grammatical precision and fluent correctness that at once betokened the trained scholar and intellectual gentleman that he was. In speaking English he always observed the same ele- gance of diction, yet never in such a manner as to appear pompous or pedantic, but even in private conversation recognizing the de- sirability of preserving "the well of English pure and undefiled," and showing by his example that it is always in good taste to speak correctly. Slang and colloquialisms jarred on his ear, like as the discordant blare of an unskilled trumpeter, or the squeak of a wheezy hand-organ, must grate on the nerves of the trained musician. He wrote with the same ease and fluency with which he spoke, his let- ters always being models of correct expression, and even legal doc- uments drawn by him evinced the scholarly use of English which was his invariable habit.