Slike strani

The one,

Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss convey'd of antiquity; their old age was cheered by its A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade."

delightful reminiscences. To them belongs the We may not mourn over the departure of fine panegyric of Cicero, “Erant in eis plurimæ such men. We should rather hail it as a kind litteræ, nec ex vulgares, sed interiores quædam, dispensation of Providence, to affect our hearts et reconditæ ; divina memoria, summa verborum with new and livelier gratitude. They were et gravitas et elegantia ; atque hæc omnia vitæ not cut off in the blossom of their days, while decorabat dignitas et integritas.” yet the vigor of manhood flushed their cheeks,

I will ask your indulgence only for a moment and the harvest of glory was ungathered. They longer. Since our last anniversary, death has fell not as martyrs fall, seeing only in dim per- been annually, busy in thinning our numbers. spective the salvation of their country. They I may not look on the right, or the left, withlived to enjoy the blessings earned by their out missing some of those who stood by my labors, and to realize all which their fondest side in my academic course, in the happy days hopes had desired. The infirmities of life stole spent within yonder venerable walls. slowly and silently upon them, leaving still be- “These are counsellors, that feelingly perhind a cheerful serenity.of mind. In peace, in soade us what we are," and what we must be. the bosom of domestic affection, in the hallowed Shaw and Salisbury are no more. reverence of their countrymen, in the full pos- whose modest worth and ingenuous virtue session of their faculties, they wore out the last adorned a spotless life; the other, whose social remains of life, without a fear to cloud, with kindness and love of letters made him welcome scarcely a sorrow to disturb its close. The joy- in every circle. But, what shall I say of Haven, ful day of our jubilee came over them with its with whom died a thousand hopes, not of his refreshing influence. To them, indeed, it was friends and family alone, but of his country. “a great and good day.” The morning sun Nature had given him a strong and brilliant shone with softened lustre on their closing eyes. genius; and it was chastened and invigorated by Its evening beams played lightly on their brows, grave, as well as elegant studies. Whatever becalm in all the dignity of death. Their spirits longed to human manners and pursuits, to human escaped from these frail tenements without a interests and feelings, to government, or science, struggle or a groan. Their death was gentle as

or literature, he endeavored to master with a an infant's sleep. It was a long, lingering twi- scholar's diligence and taste. Few men have light, melting into the softest shade.

read so much or so well. Few have united such Fortunate men, so to have lived, and so to manly sense with such attractive modesty. His have died. Fortunate, to have gone hand in thoughts and his style, his writings and his achand in the deeds of the Revolution. Fortu- tions, were governed by a judgment, in which nate, in the generous rivalry of middle life. energy was combined with candor, and benevoFortunate, in deserving and receiving the high- lence with deep, nnobtrusive, and' servid piety. est honors of their country. Fortunate in old His character may be summed up in a single age to have rekindled their ancient friendship line, for there with a holier flame. Fortunate, to have passed

“ was given through the dark valley of the shadow of death

To Haven every virtue under Heaven." together. Fortunate, to be indissolubly united in the memory and affections of their country. He had just arrived at the point of his profesmen. Fortunate, above all, in an immortality sional career, in which skill and learning begin of virtuous fame, on which history may with to reap their proper reward. He was in possevere simplicity write the dying encomium of session of the principal blessings of life-of forPericles, "No citizen, through their means, ever tune, of domestic love, of universal respect. put on mourning.

There are those who had fondly hoped, when I may not dwell on this theme. It has come they should have passed away, he might be over my thoughts, and I could not wholly sup- found here to pay a humble tribute to their press the utterance of them. It was my prin- memory. To Providenco it has seemed fit to cipal intention to hold them up to my country- order otherwise, that it might teach us “what men, not as statesmen and patriots, but as shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.” scholars, as lovers of literature, as eminent ex- We may not mourn over such a loss, as those amples of the excellence of the union of ancient who are without hope. That life is not too learning with modern philosophy. Their youth short which has accomplished its highest deswas disciplined in classical studies; their active tiny; that spirit may not linger here, which is life was instructed by the prescriptive wisdom | purified for immortality.


There is, indeed, in the fate of these unfortu- But where are they? Where are the vilnate beings, much to awaken our sympathy, lages, and warriors, and youth; the sachems and much to disturb the sobriety of our judg- and the tribes; the hunters and their families ? ment; much, which may be urged to excuse They have perished. They are consumed. The their own atrocities; much in their characters, wasting pestilence has not alone done the mighty which betrays us into an involuntary admira- work. No—nor famine, nor war. There has tion. What can be more melancholy than their been a mightier power, a moral canker, which history? By a law of their nature, they seem hath eaten into their heart-cores-a plagne, destined to a slow, but sure extinction. Every which the touch of the white man communiwhere, at the approach of the white man, they cated—a poison which betrayed them into a fade away. We hear the rustling of their foot lingering ruin. The winds of the Atlantic fan steps, like that of the withered leaves of au- not a single region which they may now call tumn, and they are gone for ever. They pass their own. Already the last feeble remnants monrnfully by us, and they return no more. of the race are preparing for their journey beTwo centuries ago, the smoke of their wigwams yond the Mississippi. I see them leave their and the fires of their councils rose in every val- miserable homes, the aged, the helpless, the ley, from Hudson's Bay to the farthest Florida, women and the warriors, “ few and faint, yet from the ocean to the Mississippi and the lakes. fearless still.” The ashes are cold on their naThe shouts of victory and the war-dance rang tive hearths. The smoke no longer curls round through the mountains and the glades. The their lowly cabins. They move on with a slow, thick arrows and the deadly tomahawk whistled unsteady step. The white man is upon their through the forests; and the hunter's trace and heels, for terror or despatch; but they heed the dark encampment startled the wild beasts him not. They turn to take a last look of their in their lairs. The warriors stood forth in their deserted villages. They cast a last glance upon glory. The young listened to the songs of other the graves of their fathers. They shed no tears; days. The mothers played with their infants, they utter no cries; they heave no groans. and gazed on the scene with warm hopes of the There is something in their hearts which passes future. The aged sat down; but they wept speech. There is something in their looks, not not. They should soon be at rest in fairer of vengeance or submission, but of hard necesregions, where the Great Spirit dwelt, in a sity, which stifles both; which chokes all utterhome prepared for the brave, beyond the west- ance; which has no aim or method. It is ern skies. Braver men never lived; truer men courage absorbed in despair. They linger but never drew the bow. They had courage, and for a moment. Their look is onward. They fortitude, and sagacity, and perseverance, be- have passed the fatal stream. It shall never be yond most of the human race. They shrank repassed by them—no, never. Yet there lies from no dangers, and they feared no hardships. not between us and them an impassable gulf. If they had the vices of savage life, they had They know and feel that there is for them still the virtues also. They were true to their coun- one remove farther, not distant nor unsèen. It try, their friends, and their homes. If they for- is to the general burial-ground of their race.* gave not injury, neither did they forget kindness. If their vengeance was terrible, their

From the Discourse pronounced at the request of the fidelity and generosity were unconquerable Essex Historical Society, in commemoration of the first setalso. Their love, like their hate, stopped not tlement of Salem, Mass. on this side of the grave.


WILLIAM Wiet, one of the most celebrated advocates and accomplished writers of the nineteenth century, was of a humble but respectable parentage. His father was a Swiss by birth, his mother a German. Some time prior to the Revolution they settled at Bladensburg, in Maryland, where they accumulated a small property by keeping the village tavern. At that place their distinguished son, who was their sixth and youngest child, was born, on the eighth day of November, 1772. During his infancy his father died, and on the death of his mother, which occurred just as he was entering upon his ninth year, he passed into the family of his uncle, Jacob Wirt, under whose guardianship he spent his minority. At seven he was sent from home to a school in Georgetown, now of the District of Columbia, from whence, after spending nearly a year unsatisfactorily, he was removed to a classical school in Charles County, Maryland.

At this school he remained until the year 1782. Being naturally a lively boy and accustomed to say “smart things, and sing songs of humor very well," he became a great favorite among his schoolmates, as well as in the widow's family in which he resided, and was as happy as a child could be away from his home and the natural objects of his affections. In reverting to this period of his life, he says: “From the time I rose, until I went to bed, the live-long day, it was all enjoyment, save only with two drawbacks—the going to school, and the getting tasks on holidays—which last, by-the-bye, is a practical cruelty that ought to be abolished. With the exception of these same tasks and a slight repugnance to the daily school, Mrs. Love's was an elysium to me.” From this school he was transferred to that of the Reverend James Hunt, a Presbyterian minister in Montgomery county, and there, during four years' tuition, he received his principal instruction in the classics and mathematics. The library of his preceptor afforded a fund of general reading, which he eagerly grasped and profited by. He read with avidity the old dramas, Josephus, Pope, Addison, Horne's Elements of Criticism, and Guy, the Earl of Warwick, “which last he obtained from a carpenter in the employ of Mr. Hunt,” and further satiated his passion for reading by a fragment of Peregrine Pickle, which he probably obtained from the same source. About this time he turned his attention to composition, and although in most of his poetical productions, thought was sacrificed to rhythm, a circumstance which soon put an end to his muse, in his prose efforts he met with encouragement, and became a confirmed reader and anthor. Among numerous essays which he prepared, one fell into the hands of his teacher, and was read with unqualified praise. The history of it, as given by his friend and biographer, will be read with interest: “It was engendered by a school incident, and was a piece of revenge more legitimate than schoolboy invention is apt to inflict when sharpened by wrongs real or imaginary. There was an usher at the school, and this usher, who was more learned and methodical than even-tempered, was one morning delayed in the customary routine by the absence of his principal scholar, who was young Wirt himself. In his impatience, he went often to the door, and espying some boys clinging like a knot of bees to a cherry tree not far off, he concluded that the expected absentee was of the number, and nursed his wrath accordingly. The truth was, that the servant of a neighbor with whom Wirt was boarded at that time, had gone that morning to mill, and the indispensable breakfast had been delayed by his late return. This apology, however, was urged in vain on the usher, who charged in corroboration the plunder of the cherry tree; and though this was as stoutly as truly rejoined to be the act of an English school hard by, the recitation of Master Wirt proceeded under very threatening prognostics of storm. The lesson was in Cicero, and at every hesitation of the reciter, the eloquent volume, brandished by the yet chafing tutor, descended within an inch of his head, without quailing his facetiousness however, for he said archly, “take care, or you'll kill me!' We have heard better-timed jests since from the dextrous orator, for the next slip brought a blow in good earnest, which being as forcible as if Logic herself with her closed fist’ had dealt it, felled our hero to the ground. “I'll pay you for this, if I live,' said the fallen champion as he rose from the field. * Pay me, will you ? ' said the usher, quite furious; 'you will never live to do that.' 'Yes, I will!' said the boy.

“Our youth was an author, be it remembered, and that is not a race to take an injury, much less an affront, calmly. The quill, too, was a fair weapon against an usher, and by way of vent to his indignation at this and other continued outrages, but with no view to what so seriously fell out from it in furtherance of his revenge, he indited some time afterward an ethical essay on anger. In this, after dae exhibition of its unhappy effects, which, it may be, would have enlightened Seneca, though he has himself professed to treat the same subject, he reviewed those relations and functions of life most exposed to the assaults of this fury. A parent with an undutiful son, said our moralist, must often be very angry ;-a master with his servant, an inn-keeper with his guests;—but it is an usher that must the oftenest be vexed by this bad passion, and, right or wrong, find himself in a terrible rage; and so he went on in a manner very edifying, and very descriptive of the case, character and manner of the expounder of Cicero. Well pleased with his work, our author found a most admiring reader in an elder boy, who, charmed with the mischief as much as the wit of the occasion, pronounced it a most excellent performance, and very fit for a Saturday morning's declamation. In vain did our wit object strenuously to the dangers of this mode of publication. The essay was 'got by heart,' and declaimed in the presence of the school and of the usher himself, who, enraged at the satire, demanded the writer, otherwise threatening the declaimer with the rod. His magnanimity was not proof against this, and he betrayed the incognito of our anthor, who happened the same evening to be in his garret when master usher, the obnoxious satire in hand, came into the apartment below to lay his complaint before his principal. Mr. IIunt's house was one of those one-story rustic mansions yet to be seen in Maryland, where the floor of the attic, without the intervention of ceiling, forms the roof of the apartment below, so that the culprit could easily be the hearer, and even the partial spectator, of the inquisition held on his case. 'Let us see this offensive libel,' said the preceptor, and awful were the first silent moments of its perusal, which were broken, first by a suppressed titter, and finally, to the mighty relief of the listener, by a loud burst of laughter. •Pooh! pooh! Mr. this is but the sally of a lively boy, and best say no more about it; besides that, in foro conscientiæ, we can hardly find him guilty of the publication. This was a victory; and when Mr. Hunt left the room, the conqueror, tempted to sing his Io Triumphe in some song allusive to the country of the discomfited party, who was a foreigner, was put to flight by the latter's rushing furiously into the attic, and snatching from under his pillow some hickories, the fasces of his office, and inflicting some smart strokes on the flying satirist, who did not stay, like Voltaire, to write a receipt for them. The usher left the school in dudgeon not long afterward, like the worthy in the doggerel rhymes,

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Many years after the usher and his scholar met again. Age and poverty had overtaken the poor man, and his former pupil had the opportunity of showing him some kindnesses which were probably not lessened by the recollection of this unpremeditated revenge.

Soon after Mr. Wirt reached his fifteenth year, the school, of which he had been so long a member, was disbanded, and he returned to his home in Bladensburg. At this time he seems to have been in a position of great doubt and uncertainty as to his future course. The small inheritance he received from his father's estate was not sufficient either to support him at college or during the prosecution of a professional education, and the immediate circle of his native town afforded little that was calculated to strengthen or improve his mind. A circumstance, however, soon occurred which relieved him of all doubt, and ultimately led to his preferment. Ninian Edwards, one of his classmates at Mr. Hunt's school, on his return home, took with him some of Mr. Wirt's literary productions, which attracted the attention of his father, Mr. Benjamin Edwards, and caused him to interest himself in the young author's behalf. Learning that he was desirous of obtaining an education, and that the limited state of his finances rendered this desire unattainable, he proposed that young Wirt should become a tutor in his family, and at the same time continue his studies with the aid of his private library. This proposition met with a ready acceptance, and he remained with his benefactor about twenty months, enjoying an intercourse at once familiar and advantageous. Mr. Edwards, senior, was a man of strong mind and reflective disposition, fond of the young, and rendered particularly agreeable to them by the charm of his conversation. In his young protégé he always found a ready and eager listener, and upon him he bestowed the kindest advice, instruction and encouragement; predicting for him a high and honorable distinction.

* Biography of William Wirt, by Peter Hoffman Cruse; page 22.

In 1789, owing to the critical state of his health, Mr. Wirt, by the advice of his physician, visited Augusta, Georgia, where he remained until the spring of the following year. Soon after his return he commenced the study of law with Mr. William P. Hunt, the son of his former preceptor, and, after spending nearly a year under his guidance, he removed to the office of Mr. Thomas Swann, from whence he was admitted to practice, in the autumn of 1792. He commenced his professional career at Culpepper court-house in Virginia. His library at this time consisted of a copy of Blackstone, two volumes of Don Quixote, and a volume of Tristram Shandy.* After experiencing for some time the usual embarrassments incident to early practice-want of clients and a general acquaintance with people—he encountered a young friend much in the same circumstances, but who had a single case, which he proposed to share with Mr. Wirt as the means of making a joint debut; and with this small stock in trade, they went to attend the first county court. Their case was one of joint assault and battery, with joint judgment against three, of whom two had been released subsequently to the judgment, and the third, who had been taken in execution, and imprisoned, claimed the benefit of that release as enuring to himself. Under these circumstances, the matter of discharge, having happened since the judgment, the old remedy was by the writ of audita querela. But, Mr. Wirt and his associate had learned from their Blackstone, that the indulgence of courts in modern times, in granting summary relief in such cases by motion had, in a great measure, superseded the use of the old writ; and accordingly presented their case in the form of a motion. The motion was opened by Mr. Wirt's friend, with all the alarm of a first essay. The bench was then in Virginia county courts composed of the ordinary justices of the peace; and the elder members of the bar, by a usage the more necessary from the constitution of the tribunal, frequently interposed as amici curiæ, or informers of the conscience of the court. It appears that upon the case being opened, some of these customary advisers denied that a release to one after judgment released the other, and they denied also the propriety of the form of proceeding. The ire of our beginner was kindled by this reception of his friend, and by this voluntary interference with their motion; and, when he came to reply, he forgot the natural alarms of the occasion, and maintained his point with recollection and firmness. This awaked the generosity of an elder member of the bar, a person of consideration in the neighborhood and a good lawyer. He stepped in as an auxiliary, remarking that he also was amicus curiæ, and perhaps as much entitled to act as others; in which capacity he would state his conviction of the propriety of the motion, and that the court was not at liberty to disregard it; adding, that its having come from a new quarter gave it but a stronger claim on the candor and urbanity of a Virginian bar. The two friends

* Memoirs of the Life of William Wirt, by John P. Kennedy. Vol. 1., p. 57.

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