Resorting to stimulants after illness, his marked excess in this respect on the occasion of his inauguration as vice-president undoubtedly did him harm with the public. Faults of personality were his great handicap. Though approachable and not without kindliness of manner, he seemed hard and inflexible; and while president, physical pain and domestic anxieties, added to the struggles of public life, combined to accentuate a naturally somewhat severe temperament.
When he did converse it was in simple language, a contrast to his later writings, where an involved style and the use of new or universal words are drawbacks upon the speculations of a genius original and profound, but with the faults of solitude.
Whatever its faults may be - and it is for our successors to judge of these - there is this to be said in its favour: that it is in nowise dogmatic. The eloquence of facts appeals to the scientific mind nowadays much more than the assertion of crude and unproven principles.
As a statesman, he certainly committed grave faults - through excess of diplomatic subtlety, lack of forethought, and sometimes even through ingenuousness; but it must with justice be admitted that, in spite of his reputation for pugnacity and obstinacy, he never failed, either by temperament or on principle, to exhaust every peaceful expedient in settling questions.
This latter question had not presented itself to the prophet's mind; his object was simply to correct the opinion of the people that their present misfortunes were due not to their own faults but to those of their predecessors.
A man of extraordinary coolness and self-control, his faults in every kind were faults of excess: it is the mark of them all.
All patristic students now recognize the great inequality of these authors, and admit that they are not free from the faults of their times; it is not denied that much of their exegesis is untenable, or that their logic is often feeble and their rhetoric offensive to modern taste.
The frankness with which he attacks the court of Rome for its exactions is remarkable; so, too, is the intense nationalism which he displays in dealing with this topic. His faults of presentment are more often due to carelessness and narrow views than to deliberate purpose.
Cringing, venal, avaricious, dishonest, the Arab combines all the faults of a vicious nature with those which a degraded religion inculcates or encourages.
But there are two tests of a more objective character that may be used - orthography, and indication of lacunae or other faults in his exemplar.