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THE HONOURABLE JOHN MʻLEAN,
Associate-JUSTICE IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.
“If you Whigs make a President, in 1848," said I one day to a friend, “let it be Judge M‘Lean.” “Do not wish that, Mrs. Maury," was the reply, “ Judge M'Lean is canonized; if he were taken away from the Supreme Court, where is the Guardian of the Constitution ?” Such was the compliment paid to the virtue and talents of this good and great man by one of the most eminent of the Whig leaders, and his public and private life, presenting one fair page of integrity and honour, fully justify the words. I frequently visited the Supreme Court, sometimes spending many hours in listening to the able advocates engaged in the business going on; and, before I had ever been presented to Judge M‘Lean, was honoured by his protection, and gratified by his
notice. My little son was, on general occasions, my only escort; he attended me to my seat, and then took leave, generally returning every hour to enquire if I was ready to retire. I was thus alone in the Court, and might probably have felt somewhat embarrassed, being unknown, and in the midst of strangers; but Judge M'Lean entering at once into the delicacy of my position, always bowed to me from the Bench, as well on my departure as on my entrance. The compliment was the more gratifying, because MʻLean was usually at that time the presiding Judge on the Bench.* Immediately, by this recognition, I felt myself in the society and under the protection of the graceful and benignant Judge, and no words can express the relief afforded me by this most delicate and refined attention; the impulse of a heart filled with that charity which surpasses comprehension.
In 1829, when General Jackson was elected to the Presidency, Mr. M'Lean was the Postmaster
* This arrangement took place in consequence of some causes coming before the Court, in which Judge MʻLean had had much previous opportunity of obtaining information,
General; “ and he was,” said Charles J. Ingersoll, “the very best Postmaster that the country ever “ had; he discharged the office with industry, punctuality and economy, and displayed great “ ability in the arrangements. Judge MʻLean “ employed many females, in various small towns, “and found the Postmistresses quite as efficient
the Postmasters.” General Jackson appointed Mr. M'Lean to the Bench of the Supreme Court in 1829, consequently, he has been a Judge seventeen years. He is universally respected for the unbiassed justice of his decisions; his politics are rather Whig than Democratic, but his impartiality is unimpeachable, and men of all parties join to praise his public career.
Judge M‘Lean is remarkably handsome; his person is tall and dignified, and the sweep of his black silk gown is quite graceful; he is fifty-seven, of fair complexion, light blue eyes, somewhat bald, (Judges in America are wise, and look so too, without the help of wigs,) and with a profile of admirable proportions, the forehead, nose, mouth, and chin, being perfect in their outline; the expression is of the noblest moral character, mingled
with somewhat of playfulness. The Judge possesses the advantage of a very harmonious voice; his manners on the Bench are perfectly affable and respectful, both to the Judges and the Advocates, and I have never, even in the most wearisome causes, seen him betray one symptom of impatience. On my
arrival in Cincinnati, I was most hospitably received by Judge MʻLean, and had then the opportunity of witnessing his amiable and benevolent character, his domestic happiness, and his social habits.
Residing in the free state of Ohio, separated from the slave state of Kentucky only by the Ohio river, the opinions of this calm and disinterested statesman, founded as they are upon personal observation, must have great value in the question of the abolition of Slavery; I was curious to learn them,—“If you touch Slavery," replied he,“ you risk a separation of the Union.” These words are oracular, and were uttered by a man whom no abolitionist can surpass in the genuine love of freedom and of right. If one so well informed, so full of benevolence as John MʻLean, anticipates
so vast an evil both to the white man and the
black from the agitation of this question, as the breaking up of the Union, how can men wholly ignorant of the real nature of the subject venture to promulgate their baseless, impracticable visions, to the outrage of common sense, and the injury of charity? But thus it is, “that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
The Methodist Church has the honour of numbering Judge MʻLean among her votaries. I accompanied him twice to church, for having seen him in the most exalted, as well as in the most endearing, of human relations, I wished (and I hope with no idle curiosity) to see him in the presence of his God. The Judge kneeled reverently before the altar of the Almighty, for it was the time of prayer; his eyes were closed, but his fine countenance became impressed with mental devotion, and when the preacher entered upon his eloquent discourse, for truly eloquent it was, and described the blessed effects of brotherly love, tears flowed down his cheeks, and the motion of his lips informed me, though his voice was inaudible, that he was in communion