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19 > Page 19 of Address on the life and character of the late Richard H. Menefee : delivered before the Law Society of Transylvania University, in the chapel of Morrison College in Lexington, April 12th, 1841 / by Thomas F. Marshall.

19 last time his immortal energies at the bar. Like the Hebrew giant his last effort was the greatest. Oh, would to God that he had been or could have been induced to spare himself! But the occasion had come, and the ruling passion strong in death, broke out with irresistible force to throw its radiance over his funeral pile. Ambition has been called the last infirmity of noble minds. To me it seems to constitute their essence and their strength. I mean not the love of power, but that higher ambition, the love, the yearning after that imperishable fame, which shines through far generations and with an increasing light over the memory of great and glorious talents, greatly and gloriously exerted in the cause of justice and mankind. This appeared to me to be the master passion of Mr. Menefee's soul. He must have been conscious of an extraordinary fate and an extraordinary genius. He must have appeared to himself as he certainly did to all oth- ers, a man marked out from birth for great actions and the most splendid distinction. What had he not achieved His friends may challenge the history of this country for a parallel. I have said that I had observed him closely in 1836. I have had inti- mate opportunities since his retirement from Congress. I have conversed with him since his disease was distinctly developed and the qualities which struck me with so much force upon our first acquaintance appeared to gather strength with time. There was an unsparing intensity in his mind, a concentration of the whole soul upon his pursuits, a haste, a rapidity, as though he feared the sun of life should go down ere the goal assigned to his genius had been attained. Was he conscious, (such a sus- picion has sometimes flashed across me and from remembered conversations gathered strength,) could he have been conscious that the seeds of early death were implanted in his original con- stitution, and was it this which spurred his fiery soul to such gigantic and unpausing strides upon his road to greatness! Himself at all events he did not and he would not spare. This was his only crime; the generous marty; for this and this alone can his country reproach him. Perchance the opportuni- ty of measuring himself with that great genius, whom he had pro- posed originally as his standard, struck upon his heroic tempera- ment, and roused the poetry of his nature, as being a meet finale to a life like his. Be that as it may, he dashed at the opportunity