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Entered according to the act of Congress, the 12th day of October, 1832, by
E. L. CAREY & A. HART, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The publishers of this volume present it to the public, not merely as a testimonial of their sincere respect for a distinguished fellow citizen, but as an offering which they know will be most acceptable to the community at large. It is an exalted duty to rescue from the precarious tenure of ephemeral publications the reputation of an eminent man, and with this view they have been induced to cause a volume of the public speeches of Mr. Sergeant to be prepared, in order to give them the permanence they deserve to have, and of which, while scattered in detached pamphlets and periodicals, they could not be secure. The responsibility of the attempt is altogether with them. It was determined on, and has been made without consultation with Mr. Sergeant. The materials to which the publishers have had access, were scattered through congressional reports and newspapers, and it has been with some difficulty they have been collected. They are believed however to be in every respect accurate.
It was their hope to be able to publish a number of the forensic arguments of Mr. Sergeant, as well as his congressional speeches. In this, they have been, in great measure disappointed. The fame of an advocate is too often traditionary, and while during his active career his influence
is most sensibly felt and readily acknowledged, as soon as the personal ascendancy is withdrawn, the charm lingers only in memory, and with the life of the last contemporary is forgotten. The physical labours of preparing forensic arguments for the press is altogether incompatible with the unceasing occupation of a professional man in active business, and until the science of reporting “speeches” shall extend to the judicial as well as the legislative halls, the advocate, in a vast majority of instances, must be satisfied with the proud distinction of a life of honour and useful ness, and be content, as soon as it terminates, to be forgotten. The history of the English bar strongly illustrates the truth of this assertion. Of all the master-pieces of eloquence that have been produced by the great English lawyers during the last century and an half, but one elaborate collection survives; and no one, especially if he be a lawyer, can peruse the volumes of Lord Erskine's Speeches without regret, deep regret, that a similar memorial of some of his predecessors, of Dunning, of Wedderburne, of Yorke, of Pratt and of Murray, has not been rescued from the grasp of oblivion. It was a remark of Mr. Pitt, that were he allowed to redeem from forgetfulness any one of those works of genius of which in ancient or modern times the fame only has survived, he would select a single speech of Lord Boling broke, accurately and faithfully reported, in preference to all the rest. A lawyer might, in the same spirit prefer an argument fresh from the lips, or corrected by the pen of Lord Mansfield, to any of the obliterated records of departed genius.
To the American bar, the same remark will as justly apply. A recent publication has, in a single instance,