December 1988 | Volume 39, Issue 8
Here is the upright and honorable public man of mid-nineteenth-century America. Rufus Choate (1799-1859), a prominent lawyer who served terms as a congressman and a senator as well as attorney general of Massachusetts, was a man without a moment to spare or lose. Here we can see his heavy coat trying to calm his necktie’s urgent flight and subdue the surge of his waistcoat; his emphatic, mobile tailoring betrays the wayward force of his thought. Lincoln wore his clothes like this; so did Poe and Emerson. The costume does general honor to propriety but perpetually bursts info small fits of fold and corner that express the volatile man within.