Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/59

This page has been validated.
The Virginia Convention of 1788.

liberty. He supposes the American spirit all sufficient for the purpose. I differ from the gentleman in another respect. He professes himself an advocate for the middle and lower classes of men. I profess to be the friend of all classes of men, from the palace to the cottage, without any other distinction than between good and bad men.' His speeches were a complete answer and refutation of Henry's impassioned utterances, and were generally so happy and masterful that he was congratulated on all sides. He was regarded as the Nestor of the body. His opponents, as well as his friends, frequently crowded around him to do him honor. He pointed out the imbecility of the confederation and the urgent necessity for a government in conformity to the Constitution. Said he: "It is the interest of the Federal to preserve the State government; upon the latter the existence of the former depends." His speeches on the tariff feature of the Constitution, the judiciary and other subjects were ingenious and conclusive, and a complete refutation of the arguments of Henry. Pendleton had the happy faculty of analyzing his subject with inimitable tact, scorned the defects or eulogized the perfections with a masterly hand and the attributes of a consumate debator. To appreciate Pendleton it is necessary one should read his speeches inextenso in Elliott's Debates,


Of this distinguished Virginian it may be truly said—

His life was gentle; and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This is a man.'"

When Randolph took his seat in the Convention of 1788 he was in the flower of his manhood, being thirty-seven years old. His figure was portly, his face handsome, his hair long. He had already achieved distinction by his forensic efforts in the deliberations of the Convention at Philadelphia. His acquaintance with the English language was perfect; his voice finely modulated; his periods stately; his gestures graceful.

He was recognized as the most accomplished statesman of his age in the Convention. His father, during the Revolution,