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Title: Homes of American Statesmen - With Anecdotical, Personal, and Descriptive Sketches
Author: Various
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Homes of American Statesmen - With Anecdotical, Personal, and Descriptive Sketches" ***

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  [Illustration: Birth-place of Henry Clay]


  [Illustration: Marshfield, Residence of Daniel Webster]



  Anecdotical, Personal, and Descriptive Sketches,






  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by O.D. CASE &
  CO., in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
  for the District of Connecticut.


We need hardly commend to the American public this attempt to describe
and familiarize the habitual dwelling-places of some of the more
eminent of our Statesmen. In bringing together such particulars as we
could gather, of the homes of the men to whom we owe our own, we
feel that we have performed an acceptable and not unnecessary service.
The generation who were too well acquainted with these intimate personal
circumstances to think of recording them, is fast passing away; and
their successors, while acknowledging a vast debt of gratitude, might
still forget to preserve and cherish the individual and private memories
of the benefactors of our country and race. We therefore present our
contribution to the national annals with confidence, hoping that in
all respects the present volume will be found no unworthy or unwelcome
successor of the "Homes of American Authors."

Dr. R.W. Griswold having been prevented by ill health from
contributing an original paper on Marshall, we have availed ourselves,
with his kind permission, of the sketch which he prepared for
the "Prose Writers of America." All the other papers in the present
volume have been written expressly for it: and the best acknowledgments
of the publishers are due to the several contributors for the zealous
interest and ability to which these sketches bear witness.

For several of the original letters which we have copied in
_fac-simile_, we are indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Sprague
of Albany.

The drawing of the residence of the "Washington Family," and a few of
the smaller cuts, have been copied, with some variations, from
Mr. Lossing's very valuable work, "The Field-Book of the Revolution."
Most of the other illustrations have been engraved from original
drawings, or daguerreotypes taken for the purpose.


  WASHINGTON                    MRS. C.M. KIRKLAND                   1
  FRANKLIN                      C.F. BRIGGS                         64
  JEFFERSON                     PARKE GODWIN                        77
  HANCOCK                       RICHARD HILDRETH                    95
  JOHN ADAMS                    CLARENCE COOK                      123
  PATRICK HENRY                 EDWARD W. JOHNSTON                 151
  MADISON                       EDWARD W. JOHNSTON                 179
  JAY                           WILLIAM S. THAYER                  197
  HAMILTON                      JAMES C. CARTER                    231
  MARSHALL                      R.W. GRISWOLD, D.D.                261
  AMES                          JAMES B. THAYER                    276
  JOHN QUINCY ADAMS             DAVID LEE CHILD                    299
  JACKSON                       PARKE GODWIN                       339
  RUFUS KING                    CHARLES KING, L.L.D.               353
  CLAY                          HORACE GREELEY                     369
  CALHOUN                       PARKE GODWIN                       396
  CLINTON                       T. ROMEYN BECK, M.D.               413
  STORY                         FRANCIS HOWLAND                    425
  WHEATON                                                          447
  WEBSTER                       HENRY C. DEMING                    471


  MARSHFIELD, RESIDENCE OF DANIEL WEBSTER                 Frontispiece
  BIRTH-PLACE OF HENRY CLAY                                 Cover page
  SITE OF WASHINGTON'S BIRTH-PLACE                                   3
  GREENOUGH'S STATUE OF WASHINGTON                                   6
  HOUDON'S STATUE OF WASHINGTON                                      8
  CHANTREY'S STATUE OF WASHINGTON                                   10
  RESIDENCE OF THE WASHINGTON FAMILY                                13
  MOUNT VERNON                                                      16
  TOMB OF WASHINGTON'S MOTHER                                       19
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, CAMBRIDGE, 1775                        23
  WASHINGTON'S PEARL-STREET, NEW-YORK, 1776.                        25
  HOUSE NO. 1 BROADWAY, NEW-YORK                                    26
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, MORRISTOWN, N.J., 1779                 28
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, CHAD'S FORD, 1777                      32
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, WHITE MARSH, 1777                      33
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, VALLEY FORGE, 1777                     34
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, TAPPAN, 1778                           37
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, NEWBURGH, N.Y.                         41
  WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS, ROCKY HILL, N.J., 1783                 45
  MOUNT VERNON, REAR VIEW                                           49
  WASHINGTON'S TOMB                                                 60
  OLD SOUTH CHURCH, BOSTON                                          69
  GRAVE OF FRANKLIN, PHILADELPHIA                                   74
  FRANKLIN'S MONUMENT, BOSTON                                       76
  MONTICELLO, JEFFERSON'S RESIDENCE                                 79
  HANCOCK HOUSE, BOSTON,                                            97
  RESIDENCE OF THE ADAMS FAMILY, QUINCY, MASS.                     125
  RESIDENCE OF PATRICK HENRY, VA.                                  153
  OLD CHURCH AT RICHMOND, VA.                                      164
  OLD COURT HOUSE, VA.                                             178
  MONTPELIER, MADISON'S RESIDENCE                                  181
  JAY'S RESIDENCE, BEDFORD, N.Y.                                   199
  BALL HUGHES' STATUE OF HAMILTON                                  233
  MARSHALL'S HOUSE AT RICHMOND, VA.                                263
  BIRTH-PLACE OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS                                 301
  HERMITAGE, RESIDENCE OF JACKSON                                  341
  RUFUS KING'S HOUSE, NEAR JAMAICA, L.I.                           355
  ASHLAND, RESIDENCE OF HENRY CLAY                                 371
  CLAY'S BIRTH-PLACE                                               394
  CLINTON'S RESIDENCE, MASPETH, L.I.                               415
  H.K. BROWN'S STATUE OF CLINTON                                   424
  STORY'S HOUSE AT CAMBRIDGE, MASS.                                427
  WHEATON'S RESIDENCE NEAR COPENHAGEN                              449
  WEBSTER'S BIRTHPLACE                                             473

=Fac-similes of Letters.=

  WASHINGTON.                                                        2
  FRANKLIN.                                                         65
  JEFFERSON.                                                        78
  HANCOCK.                                                          96
  JOHN ADAMS.                                                      124
  MADISON.                                                         180
  JOHN JAY.                                                        198
  MARSHALL.                                                        262
  AMES.                                                            277
  JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.                                               300
  JACKSON.                                                         340
  RUFUS KING.                                                      354
  HENRY CLAY                                                       370
  CALHOUN.                                                         397
  DEWITT CLINTON.                                                  414
  STORY.                                                           426
  WHEATON.                                                         448
  WEBSTER.                                                         472


[Illustration: Washington fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Site of Washington's Birth-place]



To see great men at home is often more pleasant to the visitor than
advantageous to the hero. Men's lives are two-fold, and the life of
habit and instinct is not often, on superficial view, strictly consistent
with the other--the more deliberate, intentional and principled one,
which taxes only the higher powers. Yet, perhaps, if our rules of
judgment were more humane and more sincere, we should find less
discrepancy than it has been usual to imagine, and what there is
would be more indulgently accounted for. The most common-place
man has an inner and an outer life, which, if displayed separately,
might never be expected to belong to the same individual; and it would
be impossible for him to introduce his dearest friend into the sanctum,
where, as in a spiritual laboratory, his words and actions
originate and are prepared for use. Yet we could accuse him of no
hypocrisy on this ground. The thing is so because Nature says it should
be so, and we must be content with her truth and harmony, even if they
be not ours. So with regard to public and domestic life. If we
pursue our hero to his home, it should be in a home-spirit--a spirit
of affection, not of impertinent intrusion or ungenerous cavil. If we
lift the purple curtains of the tent in which our weary knight reposes,
when he has laid aside his heavy armor and put on his gown of ease, it
is not as malicious servants may pry into the privacy of their superiors,
but as friends love to penetrate the charmed circle within which disguises
and defences are not needed, and personal interest may properly take
the place of distant admiration and respect. In no other temper is it
lawful, or even decent, to follow the great actors on life's stage to
their retirement; and if they be benefactors, the greater the shame if
we coolly criticize what was never meant for any but loving eyes.

The private life of him who is supereminently the hero of every true
American heart, is happily sacred from disrespectful scrutiny, but less
happily closed to the devout approach of those who would look upon it
with more than filial reverence. This is less remarkable than it may at
first sight appear to us who know his merit. The George Washington of
early times was a splendid youth, but his modesty was equal to his other
great qualities, and his foresee the noon of such a morning. And when
the first stirring time was over, and the young soldier settled himself
quietly at Mount Vernon, as a country gentleman, a member of the Virginia
House of Burgesses, a vigorous farmer and tobacco planter, a churchwarden
in two parishes, and a staid married man with two step-children, to whom
he was an active and faithful guardian, no one thought of recording his
life and doings, any more than those of his brother planters on the
Potomac, all landed men, deer and fox-hunters and zealous fishermen, who
visited each other in the hospitable Southern fashion, and lived in rustic
luxury, very much within themselves. Few, indeed, compared with the
longings of our admiration, are the particulars that have come down to
us of Washington's Home--the home of his natural affections; but he had
many homes of duty, and these the annals of his country will ever keep
in grateful memory. Through these our present design is to trace his
career, succinctly and imperfectly indeed, and with the diffidence which
a character so august naturally inspires. Happily, many deficiencies in
our sketch will be supplied by the intimate knowledge and the inborn
reverence of a large proportion of our readers.

It seems to be a conceded point that ours is not the age of reverence,
nor our country its home. While the masses were nothing and individuals
every thing, gods or demigods were the natural product of every public
emergency and relief. Mankind in general, ignorant, and of course
indolent, only too happy to be spared the labor of thought and the
responsibility of action, looked up to the great and the fortunate till
their eyes were dazzled, and they saw characters and exploits through
a glorious golden mist, which precluded criticism. It was easy, then,
to be a hero, for a single success or a happy chance sufficed. Altars
sprang up in every bye-road, and incense fumed without stint or question.

To-day the case is widely different. We give nothing for nothing.
Whatever esteem or praise we accord, must be justified, inch by inch, by
facts tangible and productive, successes undimmed by any after failure,
and qualities which owe nothing to imagination or passion in the observer.
No aureole is allowed about any head unless it emanate from it. Our
Apollo must actually have sent the shaft, and to the mark, too, or we
sneer at the attitude of triumph. If we erect a statue, no robe is
confessed to be proper drapery but the soiled and threadbare one of
every-day life and toil. No illusion--no poetry! is the American maxim
of our time. Bald, staring, naked literality for us! He is the true
philosopher who can

    Peep and botanize
  Upon his mother's grave

if the flowers required by science happen to grow there.

All this may be very wise and knowing, yet as long as the machine called
man has something within it which is not exactly a subject for
mathematical measurement, there will remain some little doubt of the
expediency of thus stripping life of its poetry, and bringing all that
is inspiring to the test of line and plummet. Just now, however, there
is no hearing for any argument on this side.

[Illustration: Greenough's Statue of Washington]

What shall we think, then, of a character which, in a single half
century, has begun, even among us, to wear something of a mythical
splendor? What must the man have been, whom an age like this deliberately
deifies? Who but Washington has, in any age, secured for himself such a
place in the universal esteem and reverence of his countrymen, that simple
description of him is all that can be tolerated, the public sense of his
merits being such as makes praise impertinent, and blame impious?

WASHINGTON! It were almost enough to grace our page and our volume with
this honored and beloved name. The commentary upon it is written in every
heart. It is true the most anxious curiosity has been able to find but a
small part of what it would fain know of the first man of all the earth,
yet no doubt remains as to what he was, in every relation of life. The
minutiæ may not be full, but the outline, in which resides the expression,
is perfect. It were too curious to inquire how much of Washington would
have been lost had the rural life of which he was so fond, bounded his
field of action. Providence made the stage ready for the performer, as
the performer for the stage. In his public character, he was not the man
of the time, but for the time, bearing in his very looks the seal of a
grand mission, and seeming, from his surprising dignity, to have no
private domestic side. Greenough's marble statue of him, that sits
unmoved under all the vicissitudes of storm and calm, gazing with
unwinking eyes at the Capitol, is not more impassive or immovable than
the Washington of our imaginations. Yet we know there must have been
another side to this grand figure, less grand, perhaps, but not less
symmetrical, and wonderfully free from those lowering discrepancies
which bring nearer to our own level all other great, conspicuous men.

[Illustration: Houdon's Statue of Washington.]

We ought to know more of him; but, besides the other reasons we have
alluded to for our dearth of intelligence, his was not a writing age on
this side the water. Doing, not describing, was the business of the
day. "Our own correspondent" was not born yet; desperate tourists had
not yet forced their way into gentlemen's drawing-rooms, to steal
portraits by pen and pencil, to inquire into dates and antecedents, and
repay enforced hospitality by holding the most sacred personalities up
to the comments of the curious. It would, indeed, be delightful to
possess this kind of knowledge; to ascertain how George Washington of
Fairfax appeared to the sturdy country gentlemen, his neighbors; what
the "troublesome man" he speaks of in one of his letters thought of the
rich planter he was annoying; whether Mr. Payne was proud or ashamed
when he remembered that he had knocked down the Father of his Country
in a public court-room; what amount of influence, not to say rule, Mrs.
Martha Custis, with her large fortune, exercised over the
Commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States. But rarer than
all it would have been to see Washington himself deal with one of those
gentry, who should have called at Mount Vernon with a view of favoring
the world with such particulars. How he treated poachers of another sort
we know; he mounted his horse, and dashing into the water, rode directly
up to the muzzle of a loaded musket, which he wrenched from the astounded
intruder, and then, drawing the canoe to land, belabored the scamp soundly
with his riding whip. How he would have faced a loaded pen, and received
its owner, we can but conjecture. We have heard an old gentleman, who
had lived in the neighborhood of Mount Vernon in his boyhood, say that
when the General found any stranger shooting in his grounds, his practice
was to take the gun without a word, and, passing the barrel through the
fence, with one effort of his powerful arm, bend it so as to render it
useless, returning it afterwards very quietly, perhaps observing that
his rules were very well known. The whole neighborhood, our old friend
said, feared the General, not because of any caprice or injustice in his
character, but only for his inflexibility, which must have had its own
trials on a Southern plantation at that early day.

[Illustration: Chantrey's Statue of Washington]

Painting and sculpture have done what they could to give us an accurate
and satisfying idea of the outward appearance of the Father of our
Country, and a surpassing dignity has been the aim if not the result, of
all these efforts. The statue by Chantrey, which graces the State House
at Boston, is perhaps as successful as any in this respect, and white
marble is of all substances the most appropriate for the purpose. From
all, collectively, we derive the impression, or something more, that in
Washington we have one of the few examples on record of a complete and
splendid union and consent of personal and mental qualifications for
greatness in the same individual; unsurpassed symmetry and amplitude of
mind and body for once contributing to the efficiency of a single being,
to whom, also, opportunities for development and action proved no less
propitious than nature. In the birth, nurture and destiny of this man,
so blest in all good gifts, Providence seems to have intended the
realization of Milton's ideal type of glorious manhood:

    A creature who, endued
  With sanctity of reason, might erect
  His stature, and, upright, with front serene,
  Govern the rest, self-knowing; and from thence,
  Magnanimous, to correspond with Heaven;
  But, grateful to acknowledge whence his good
  Descends, thither, with heart and voice and eyes,
  Directed in devotion, to adore
  And worship God supreme, who made him chief
  Of all his works.

We may the more naturally think this because Washington was so little
indebted to school learning for his mental power. Born in a plain
farm-house near the Potomac--a hallowed spot now marked only by a
memorial stone and a clump of decaying fig-trees, probably coeval with
the dwelling; none but the simplest elements of knowledge were within
his reach, for although his father was a gentleman of large landed estate,
the country was thinly settled and means of education were few. To
these he applied himself with a force and steadiness even then remarkable,
though with no view more ambitious than to prepare himself for the
agricultural pursuits to which he was destined, by a widowed mother,
eminent for common sense and high integrity. His mother,
characteristically enough, for she was much more practical than
imaginative, always spoke of him as a docile and diligent boy,
passionately fond of athletic exercises, rather than as a brilliant or
ambitious one. In after years, when La Fayette was recounting to her,
in florid phrase, but with the generous enthusiasm which did him so much
honor, the glorious services and successes of her son, she replied--"I
am not surprised; George was always a good boy!" and this simple phrase
from a mother who never uttered a superfluous word, throws a clear light
on his early history. Then we have, besides, remnants of his
school-exercises in arithmetic and geometry, beautiful in neatness,
accuracy and method. At thirteen his mathematical turn had begun to
discover itself, and the precision and elegance of his handwriting were
already remarkable. His precocious wisdom would seem at that early age
to have cast its horoscope, for we have thirty pages of forms for the
transaction of important business, all copied out beautifully; and joined
to this direct preparation for his future career are "Rules of Civility
and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation," to the number of one
hundred and ten, all pointing distinctly at self-control and respect for
the rights of others, rather than at a Chesterfieldian polish or policy,
and these he learned so well that he practised them unfailingly all his
life after.

[Illustration: Residence of the Washington Family.]

A farm in Stafford County on the Rappahannoc, where his father had lived
for several years before his death, was his share of the paternal estate,
and on this he lived with his mother, till he had completed his sixteenth
year. He desired to enter the British Navy, as a path to honorable
distinction, and one of his half brothers, many years older than himself,
had succeeded in obtaining a warrant for him; but the mother's
reluctance to part with her eldest boy induced him to relinquish this
advantage, and to embrace instead the laborious and trying life of a
surveyor, in those rude, early days of Virginia exposed to extraordinary
hazards. Upon this he entered immediately, accepting employment offered
him by Lord Fairfax, who had come from England to ascertain the value of
an immense tract of land which he had inherited, lying between the Potomac
and Rappahannoc rivers, and extending beyond the Alleghanies. The
surveying party was accompanied by William Fairfax, a distant relative
of his lordship, but the boy of sixteen was evidently the most important
member of the party. When the hardships of this undertaking became too
exhausting, he returned to the more settled regions, and employed himself
in laying out private tracts and farms, but he spent the greater part
of three years in the wilderness, learning the value of lands, becoming
acquainted with the habits and character of the wild Indian tribes, then
so troublesome in the forests, and fitting himself by labor, study, the
endurance of personal hardships and the exercise of vigilance and
systematic effort, for the arduous path before him.

At nineteen Washington had made so favorable an impression that he was
appointed, by the government of Virginia, Adjutant-General with the rank
of Major, and charged with the duty of assembling and exercising the
militia, in preparation for expected or present difficulties on the
frontier. He had always shown a turn for military affairs, beginning
with his school-days, when his favorite play was drilling troops of
boys, he himself always taking command; and noticeable again in his
early manhood, when he studied tactics, and learned the manual exercise
and the use of the sword. It was not long before the talent thus
cultivated was called into action. Governor Dinwiddie sent Major
Washington as commissioner to confer with the officer commanding the
French forces, making the delicate inquiry by what authority he presumed
to invade the dominions of his Majesty King George III., and what were
his designs. A winter journey of seven hundred and fifty miles, at least
half of which lay through an unbroken wilderness, haunted by wild
beasts, and more formidable savages, was the first duty of the youthful
Major under this commission, and it occupied six weeks, marked by many
hardships and some adventures. The famous one of the raft on a
half-frozen river, in which Washington narrowly escaped drowning, and
the other of a malcontent Indian's firing on him, occurred during this
journey; but he reached the French post in safety, and had an amicable,
though not very satisfactory conference, with the Sieur St. Pierre, a
courteous gentleman, but a wily old soldier. Governor Dinwiddie caused
Major Washington's account of the expedition to be published, and when a
little army was formed for the protection of the frontier, Washington
received a command, with the rank of Colonel, at twenty-two years of
age. Advancing at once into the wilderness, he encountered a French
detachment, which he took prisoners, with their commander, and so
proceeded during the remainder of the season, with general success. The
next year, serving as a volunteer, it was his painful lot, when just
recovering from a severe illness, to witness Braddock's defeat, a
misfortune which, it is unanimously conceded, might have been avoided,
if General Braddock had not been too proud to take his young friend's
prudent counsel. All that an almost frantic bravery could do to retrieve
the fortunes of this disastrous day, Washington, whom we are in the
habit of thinking immovable, and who was at this time weak from the
effects of fever, is reported to have done; and the fact that he had two
horses shot under him, and his coat well riddled with rifle balls, shows
how unsparingly he exposed himself to the enemy's sharp-shooters. A
spectator says--"I saw him take hold of a brass field-piece as if it had
been a stick. He looked like a fury; he tore the sheet lead from the
touch-hole; he pulled with this and pushed with that; and wheeled it
round as if it had been nothing. The powder-monkey rushed up with the
fire, and then the cannon began to bark, and the Indians came down."
Nothing but defeat and disgrace was the result of this unhappy
encounter, except to Washington, who in that instance, as in so many
others, stood out, individual and conspicuous, by qualities so much in
advance of those of all the men with whom he acted, that no misfortune
or disaster ever caused him to be confounded with them, or included in
the most hasty general censure. It is most instructive as well as
interesting to observe that his mind, never considered brilliant, was
yet recognized from the beginning as almost infallible in its judgments,
a tower of strength for the weak, a terror to the selfish and dishonest.
The uneasiness of Governor Dinwiddie under Washington's superiority is
accounted for only by the fact that that superiority was unquestionable.

[Illustration: Mount Vernon]

After Braddock's defeat, Washington retired to Mount Vernon,--which had
fallen to him by the will of his half-brother Lawrence--to recoup his
mind and body, after a wasting fever and the distressing scenes he had
been forced to witness. The country rang with his praises, and even the
pulpit could not withhold its tribute. The Reverend Samuel Davies hardly
deserves the reputation of a prophet for saying, in the course of a
eulogy on the bravery of the Virginian troops,--"As a remarkable
instance of this, I may point out that heroic youth, Colonel Washington,
whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a
manner for some important service to his country."

When another army was to be raised for frontier service, the command was
given to Washington, who stipulated for a voice in choosing his
officers, a better system of military regulations, more promptness in
paying the troops, and a thorough reform in the system of procuring
supplies. All these were granted, with the addition of an aid-de-camp
and secretary, to the young colonel of twenty-three. But he nevertheless
had to encounter the evils of insubordination, inactivity, perverseness
and disunion among the troops, with the further vexation of deficient
support on the part of the government, while the terrors and real
dangers and sufferings of the inhabitants of the outer settlements wrung
his heart with anguish. In one of his many expostulatory letters to the
timid and time-serving Governor Dinwiddie, his feelings burst their
usual guarded bounds: "I am too little acquainted, sir, with pathetic
language, to attempt a description of the people's distresses; but I
have a generous soul, sensible of wrongs and swelling for redress. But
what can I do? I see their situation, know their danger and participate
in their sufferings, without having it in my power to give them further
relief than uncertain promises. In short, I see inevitable destruction
in so clear a light, that unless vigorous measures are taken by the
Assembly, and speedy assistance sent from below, the poor inhabitants
that are now in forts must unavoidably fall, while the remainder are
flying before a barbarous foe. In fine, the melancholy situation of the
people, the little prospect of assistance, the gross and scandalous
abuse cast upon the officers in general, which reflects upon me in
particular for suffering misconduct of such extraordinary kinds, and the
distant prospect, if any, of gaining honor and reputation in the
service, cause me to lament the hour that gave me a commission, and
would induce me, at any other time than this of imminent danger, to
resign, without one hesitating moment, a command from which I never
expect to reap either honor or benefit; but, on the contrary, have
almost an absolute certainty of incurring displeasure below, while the
murder of helpless families may be laid to my account here. The
supplicating tears of the women and moving petitions of the men melt me
into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind,
I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy,
provided that would contribute to the people's ease."

[Illustration: Tomb of Washington's Mother.]

This extract is given as being very characteristic; full of that fire
whose volcanic intensity was so carefully covered under the snow of
caution in after life; and also as a specimen of Washington's style of
writing, clear, earnest, commanding and business-like, but deficient in
all express graces, and valuable rather for substance than form. We see
in his general tone of expression something of that resolute mother,
who, when her son, already the first man in public estimation, urged her
to make Mount Vernon her home for the rest of her days, tersely
replied--"I thank you for your affectionate and dutiful offers, but my
wants are few in this world, and I feel perfectly competent to take care
of myself." Directness is the leading trait in the style of both mother
and son; if either used circumlocution, it was rather through
deliberateness than for diplomacy. Indeed, the alleged indebtedness of
great sons to strong mothers, can hardly find a more prominent support
than in this case. What a Roman pair they were! If her heart failed her
a little, sometimes, as what mother's heart must not, in view of toils,
sacrifices, and dangers like his; if she argued towards the softer side,
how he answered her, appealing to her stronger self:

            MOUNT VERNON, 14th Aug., 1755.


"If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if
the command is passed upon me by the general voice of the country, and
offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect
dishonor upon me to refuse it; and that, I am sure, must, or ought to,
give you greater uneasiness than my going in an honorable command. Upon
no other terms will I accept of it. At present I have no proposals made
to me, nor have I advice of such an intention, except from private

      "I am, &c."

When the object for which he had undertaken the campaign--viz.: the
undisturbed possession of the Ohio River--was accomplished, Washington
resigned his commission, after five years of active and severe service,
his health much broken and his private affairs not a little disordered.
The resignation took effect in December, 1758, and in January, 1759, he
was married, and, as he supposed, finally settled at Mount Vernon--or,
as he expresses it in his quiet way--"Fixed at this seat, with an
agreeable partner for life, I hope to find more happiness in retirement
than I ever experienced amidst the wide and bustling world." And in
liberal and elegant improvements, and the exercise of a generous
hospitality, the young couple spent the following fifteen years; the
husband attending to his duties as citizen and planter, with ample time
and inclination for fox-hunting and duck-shooting, and the wife, a kind,
comely, thrifty dame, looking well to the ways of her household,
superintending fifteen domestic spinning-wheels, and presiding at a
bountiful table, to the great satisfaction of her husband and his
numerous guests. When the spirit of the people began to rise against the
exactions of the mother country, Washington was among the foremost to
sympathize with the feeling of indignation, and the desire to resist,
peaceably, if possible, forcibly if necessary. Of this, his letters
afford ample proof. When armed resistance was threatened, Washington was
immediately thought of as the Virginia leader. When Congress began, in
earnest, preparations for defence, Washington was chairman of all the
committees on the state of the country. When the very delicate business
of appointing a commander-in-chief of the American armies was under
consideration, Washington was the man whose name was on every tongue,
and who was unanimously chosen, and that by the direct instrumentality
of a son of Massachusetts, though that noble State, having commenced the
struggle, might well have claimed the honor of furnishing a leader for
it. What generosity of patriotism there was, in the men of those days,
and how a common indignation and a common danger seem to have raised
them above the petty jealousies and heart-burnings that so disfigure
public doings in time of peace and prosperity! How the greatness of the
great man blazed forth on this new field! What an attitude he took
before the country, when he said, on accepting the position, "I beg
leave to assure the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could
have tempted me to accept this arduous employment, at the expense of my
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I
will keep an exact account of my expenses. These, I doubt not they will
discharge, and that is all I desire." There was a natural, unconscious
sovereignty in thus assuming to be the judge of what it might be proper
to expend, in concerns the most momentous, extensive, and novel, as well
as in taking the entire risk, both of payment and of public
approbation,--in a direction in which he had already found the
sensitiveness of the popular mind,--that equals any boldness of
Napoleon's. We can hardly wonder that, in after times, common men
instinctively desired and expected to make him a king.

The battle of Bunker Hill had taken place in the time that intervened
between Washington's consent and the receipt of his commission, so that
he set out for Cambridge, with no lingering doubt as to the nature,
meaning, or result of the service in which he had pledged all. He writes
to his brother, "I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its
prospect, and in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found." His
residence at Cambridge, a fine old mansion, still stands, and in worthy
occupancy. Here it was that he undertook the intolerable duty of
organizing a young army, without clothes, tents, ammunition, or money,
with a rich, bitter and disciplined enemy in sight, and boiling blood on
both sides. Here it was that General Gage, with whom he had fought, side
by side, twenty years before, on the Monongahela, so exasperated him by
insolent replies to his remonstrances against the cruel treatment of
American prisoners, that he gave directions for retaliation upon any of
the enemy that might fall into American hands. He was, however,
Washington still, even though burning with a holy anger; and, ere the
order could reach its destination, it was countermanded, and a charge
given to all concerned that the prisoners should be allowed parole, and
that every other proper indulgence and civility should be shown them.
His letters to General Gage are models of that kind of writing. In
writing to Lord Dartmouth afterwards, the British commander, who had
been rebuked with such cutting and deserved severity, observes with
great significance, "The trials we have had, show the rebels are not the
despicable rabble we have supposed them to be."

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Cambridge 1775.]

Washington was not without a stern kind of wit, on certain occasions.
When the rock was struck hard, it failed not in fire. The jealousy of
military domination was so great as to cause him terrible solicitudes at
this time, and a month's enlistments brought only five thousand men,
while murmurs were heard on all sides against poor pay and bad living.
Thinking of this, at a later day, when a member of the Convention for
forming the Constitution, desired to introduce a clause limiting the
standing army to five thousand men, Washington observed that he should
have no objection to such a clause, "if it were so amended as to provide
that no enemy should presume to invade the United States with more than
_three_ thousand."

Amid all the discouragements of that heavy time, the resolution of the
commander-in-chief suffered no abatement. "My situation is so irksome to
me at times," he says after enumerating his difficulties in a few
forcible words, "that if I did not consult the public good more than my
own tranquillity, I should long ere this have put every thing on the
cast of a die." But he goes on to say, in a tone more habitual with
him--"If every man was of my mind, the ministers of Great Britain should
know, in a few words, upon what issue the cause should be put. I would
not be deceived by artful declarations, nor specious pretences, nor
would I be amused by unmeaning propositions, but, in open, undisguised
and manly terms, proclaim our wrongs, and our resolution to be
redressed. I would tell them that we had borne much, that we had long
and ardently sought for reconciliation upon honorable terms; that it had
been denied us; that all our attempts after peace had proved abortive,
and had been grossly misrepresented; that we had done every thing that
could be expected from the best of subjects; that the spirit of freedom
rises too high in us to submit to slavery. This I would tell them, not
under covert, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, 180 Pearl street, New-York

[Illustration: House No. 1 Broadway

    The house No. 1 Broadway, opposite the Bowling-green, remained
    unaltered until within a year or two in the shape here presented,
    in which it had become familiar to all New-Yorkers. It was built
    by Captain Kennedy of the Royal Navy, in April, 1765. There Lee,
    Washington, and afterwards Sir Henry Clinton, Robertson, Carleton,
    and other British officers were quartered, and here André wrote
    his letter to Arnold.--_Lossing._ It was afterwards occupied by
    Aaron Burr. Very recently, this interesting house, which in
    New-York may be termed _ancient_, has been metamorphosed by the
    addition of two or three stories, and it is now _reduced_ to be
    the Washington Hotel.]

When the British evacuated Boston, Congress voted Washington a gold
medal, with abundant thanks and praises; and, thus compensated for the
cruel anxieties of the winter, he proceeded with unwavering courage to
New-York, where new labors awaited him, and the mortifying defeat at
Gowanus, turned into almost triumph by the admirable retreat afterwards.

The movement from New-York city to Harlem Heights should have been
another glory, and nothing on the part of the Commander-in-Chief was
wanting to make it such, but a panic seized two brigades of militia, who
ran away, _sans façon_, causing Washington to lose, for a moment, some
portion of the power over his own emotions for which he is so justly
celebrated. He dashed in among the flying rout, shouting, shaming them,
riding exposed within a few yards of the enemy; and, finding this of no
avail, drew his sword and threatened to "run them through," and cocked
and snapped his pistol in their faces. But all would not do, and General
Greene says, in a letter to a friend, "He was so vexed at the infamous
conduct of the troops, that he sought death rather than life."
Washington, the "man of marble," would have preferred a thousand deaths
to dishonor.

A new army was now to be raised, the term of the last enlistment having
expired; and, to form a just opinion of Washington's character and
talents, every letter of his, to Congress and others during this period,
should be studied. Such wisdom, such indignation, such patience, such
manly firmness, such disappointment! every thing but despair; the
watchfulness, the forethought, the perseverance displayed in those
letters, give a truer idea of the man than all his battles.

Take a single passage from one of his letters:--"I am wearied almost to
death with the retrograde motion of things, and I solemnly protest, that
a pecuniary reward of twenty thousand pounds a year would not induce me
to undergo what I do; and after all, perhaps, to lose my character, as
it is impossible, under such a variety of distressing circumstances, to
conduct matters agreeably to public expectation, or even to the
expectation of those who employ me, as they will not make proper
allowances for the difficulties their own errors have occasioned."

And besides that which came upon him daily, in the regular line of duty,
the yet more difficult work of bearing up the hearts of others, whose
threats of abandoning the service were the running bass that made worse
the din of war. "I am sorry to find," writes the Chief to General
Schuyler, "that both you and General Montgomery incline to quit the
service. Let me ask you, sir, what is the time for brave men to exert
themselves in the cause of liberty and their country, if this is not?
God knows there is not a difficulty that you both very justly complain
of, which I have not in an eminent degree experienced, that I am not
every day experiencing. But we must bear up against them, and make the
best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish." In
studying the career of Washington, nothing strikes one more frequently
than that no fame came to him fortuitously, not only did he borrow none,
usurp none, fall heir to none that belonged to others; he earned every
tittle that has ever been awarded to him, and evidently contributed very
much, by his secret advice and caution to officers placed in difficult
positions, to enhance the measure of praise bestowed on his companions
in arms.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Morristown, New Jersey. 1779.]

Dark as these times were, Washington's peculiar merits were every day
becoming more and more evident; indeed the darkest hours were his
opportunities. He might well say, after the loss of Fort Washington,
which had been held contrary to his judgment,--"No person ever had a
greater choice of difficulties to contend with than I have;" yet he
carried the war into New Jersey with all the resolution and courage of a
victor. Never without a party, too often a very large one, ready to
disparage his military skill, and throw doubts upon his energy in the
conduct of the war, he pursued his plans without swerving a hair's
breadth to court the popular gale, though a natural and honorable love
of reputation was one of the ruling passions of his soul. It was
impossible to make the people believe that a series of daring encounters
would have cost the Commander-in-chief far less than the "Fabian policy,"
so scorned at the time; but Washington saw then, in the very heat of
the contest, what the result has now made evident enough to all, that
England must carry on a war on the other side of the globe under an
immense disadvantage, and that considering the general spirit of the
American people, the expense to an invading power must be greater than
even the richest nation on earth could long sustain. That the necessity
for delay was intensely mortifying to him, we have a thousand proofs;
and it was not the least bitter drop in his cup, that in order to
conceal from the enemy the deficiencies occasioned by the delay of
Congress to meet his most strenuous requisitions, he was obliged to
magnify his numbers and resources, in a way which could not but increase
the public doubts of his promptness. No one can read his letters,
incessant under these circumstances, without an intense personal
sympathy, that almost forgets the warrior and the patriot in the man.

His being invested with what was in reality a military dictatorship, did
not help to render him more popular, although he used his power with his
accustomed moderation, conscientiousness and judgment. In this, as in
other cases, he took the whole responsibility and odium, while he
allowed others to reap the credit of particular efforts; giving to every
man at least his due, and content if the country was served, even though
he himself seemed to be doing nothing. This we gather as much from the
letters of others to him as from his own writings.

The celebrated passage of the Delaware, on Christmas-day, 1776,--so
life-like represented in Leutze's great picture,--flashed a cheering
light over the prospects of the contest, and lifted up the hearts of the
desponding, if it did not silence the cavils of the disaffected. The
intense cold was as discouraging here as the killing heat had been at
Gowanus. Two men were found frozen to death, and the whole army suffered
terribly; but the success was splendid, and the enemy's line along the
Delaware was broken. The British opened their eyes very wide at this
daring deed of the rebel chief, and sent the veteran Cornwallis to
chastise his insolence. But Washington was not waiting for him. He had
marched to Princeton, harassing the enemy, and throwing their lines
still more into confusion. New Jersey was almost completely relieved,
and the spirits of the country raised to martial pitch before the
campaign closed. Those who had hastily condemned Washington as half a
traitor to the cause, now began to call him the Saviour of his Country.
Success has wondrous power in illuminating merit, that may yet have been
transparent without it. But even now, when he thought proper to
administer to all the oath of allegiance to the United States, granting
leave to the disaffected to retire within the enemy's lines, a new
clamor was raised against him, as assuming undue and dangerous power. It
was said there were no "United States," and the Legislature of New
Jersey censured the order as interfering with their prerogative. But
Washington made no change. The dangers of pretended neutrality had
become sufficiently apparent to him; and he chose, as he always did, to
defer his personal popularity to the safety of the great cause. And
again he took occasion, though the treatment of General Lee was in
question, to argue against retaliation of the sufferings of prisoners,
in a manly letter, which would serve as a text in similar cases for all

What a blessing was Lafayette's arrival! not only to the struggling
States, but in particular to Washington. The spirit of the generous
young Frenchman was to the harassed chief as cold water to the thirsty
soul. No jealousies, no fault-finding, no selfish emulation; but pure,
high, uncalculating enthusiasm, and a devotion to the character and
person of Washington that melted the strong man, and opened those
springs of tenderness which cares and duties had well-nigh choked up. It
is not difficult to believe that Lafayette had even more to do with the
success of the war than we are accustomed to think. Whatever kept up the
chief's heart up-bore the army and the country; for it is plain that,
without derogation from the ability or faithfulness of any of the heroic
contributors to the final triumph, Washington was in a peculiar manner
the life and soul,--the main-spring and the balance-wheel,--the spur and
the rein, of the whole movement and its result. Blessings, then, on
Lafayette, the helper and consoler of the chosen father of his heart,
through so many trials! His name goes down to posterity on the same
breath that is destined for ever to proclaim the glory of Washington.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Chad's Ford, 1777.]

Chad's Ford, in Delaware, was the scene of another of those disasters
which it was Washington's happy fortune to turn into benefits. The
American army retreated from a much superior force, and retreated in
such disorder as could seem, even to its well-wishers, little better
than a flight. But when, after encamping at Germantown, it was found
that the General meant to give battle again, with a barefooted army,
exhausted by forced marches, in a country which Washington himself says,
was "to a man, disaffected," dismay itself became buoyant, and the
opinion spread, not only throughout America, but even as far as France,
that the leader of our armies was indeed invincible. A heavy rain and an
impenetrable fog defeated our brave troops; the attempt cost a thousand
men. Washington says, solemnly, "It was a bloody day." Yet the Count de
Vergennes, on whose impressions of America so much depended at that
time, told our Commissioners in Paris that nothing in the course of our
struggle had struck him so much as General Washington's venturing to
attack the veteran army of Sir William Howe, with troops raised within
the year. The leader's glory was never obscured for a moment, to the
view of those who were so placed as to see it in its true light.
Providence seems to have determined that the effective power of this
great instrument should be independent of the glitter of victory.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, White Marsh, 1777.]

Encamped at Whitemarsh, fourteen miles from Philadelphia, Washington,
with his half-clad and half-fed troops, awaited an attack from General
Howe who had marched in that direction with twelve thousand effective
men. But both commanders were wary--the British not choosing to attack
his adversary on his own ground, and the American not to be decoyed from
his chosen position to one less favorable. Some severe skirmishing was
therefore all that ensued, and General Howe retreated, rather
ingloriously, to Philadelphia.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Valley Forge, 1777.]

This brings us to the terrible winter at Valley Forge, the sufferings of
which can need no recapitulation for our readers. Washington felt them
with sufficient keenness, yet his invariable respect for the rights of
property extended to that of the disaffected, and in no extremity was he
willing to resort to coercive measures, to remedy evils which distressed
his very soul, and which he shared with the meanest soldier. His
testimony to the patience and fortitude of the men is emphatic: "Naked
and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable
patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been, ere
this, excited by their sufferings to a general mutiny and dispersion."
And while this evil was present, and for the time irremediable, he
writes to Congress on the subject of a suggestion which had been made of
a _winter campaign_, "I can assure those gentlemen, that it is a much
easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances, in a
comfortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold bleak hill,
and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets. However,
although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and distrest
soldiers, I feel super-abundantly for them, and from my soul I pity
those miseries which it is neither in my power to relieve nor prevent."

It was during this period of perplexity and distress on public accounts,
that the discovery of secret cabals against himself, was added to
Washington's burthens. But whatever was personal was never more than
secondary with him. When the treachery of pretended friends was
disclosed, he showed none of the warmth which attends his statement of
the soldiers' grievances. "My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of
me," he said, "they know the delicacy of my situation, and that motives
of policy deprive me of the defence I might otherwise make against their
insidious attacks. They know I cannot combat their insinuations, however
injurious, without disclosing secrets which it is of the utmost moment
to conceal." * * * "My chief concern arises from an apprehension of the
dangerous consequences which intestine dissensions may produce to the
common cause."

General Howe made no attempt on the camp during the winter, but his
foraging parties were watched and often severely handled by the
Americans. When Dr. Franklin, who was in Paris, was told that General
Howe had taken Philadelphia, "Say rather," he replied, "that
Philadelphia has taken General Howe," and the advantage was certainly a
problematical one. Philadelphia was evacuated by the British on the 18th
of June, 1776, General Clinton having superseded General Howe, who
returned to England in the spring. Washington followed in the footsteps
of the retreating army, and, contrary to the opinion of General Lee,
decided to attack them. At Monmouth occurred the scene so often cited as
proving that Washington _could_ lose his temper--a testimony to his
habitual self-command which no art of praise could enhance. Finding
General Lee with his five thousand men in full retreat when they should
have been rushing on the enemy, the commander-in-chief addressed the
recreant with words of severe reproof, and a look and manner still more
cutting. Receiving in return a most insolent reply, Washington
proceeded, himself, by rapid manoeuvres, to array the troops for battle,
and when intelligence arrived that the British were within fifteen
minutes march, he said to General Lee, who had followed him, deeply
mortified,--"Will you command on this ground, or not?" "It is equal with
me where I command," was the answer. "Then I expect you to take proper
measures for checking the enemy," said the General, much incensed at the
offensive manner of Lee. "Your orders shall be obeyed," said that
officer, "and I will not be the first to leave the field." And his
bravery made it evident that an uncontrolled temper was the fault for
which he afterwards suffered so severely. During the action Washington
exposed himself to every danger, animating and cheering on the men under
the burning sun; and when night came, he lay down in his cloak at the
foot of a tree, hoping for a general action the next day. But in the
morning Sir Henry Clinton was gone, too far for pursuit under such
killing heat--the thermometer at 96°. Many on both sides had perished
without a wound, from fatigue and thirst.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Tappan, 1778.]

The headquarters at Tappan will always have a sad interest from the
fact that Major André, whose fine private qualities have almost made the
world forget that he was a spy, there met his unhappy fate. That General
Washington suffered severely under the necessity which obliged him, by
the rules of war, to sanction the decision of the court-martial in this
case, we have ample testimony; and an eye-witness still living observed,
that when the windows of the town were thronged with gazers at the stern
procession as it passed, those of the commander-in-chief were entirely
closed, and his house without sign of life except the two sentinels at
the door.

The revolt of a part of the Pennsylvania line, which occurred in
January, 1781, afforded a new occasion for the exercise of Washington's
pacific wisdom. He had felt the grievances of the army too warmly to be
surprised when any portion of it lost patience, and his prudent and
humane suggestions, with the good management of General Wayne, proved
effectual in averting the great danger which now threatened. But when
the troops of New Jersey, emboldened by this mild treatment, attempted
to imitate their Pennsylvania neighbors, they found Washington prepared,
and six hundred men in arms ready to crush the revolt by force--a
catastrophe prevented only by the unconditional submission of the
mutineers, who were obliged to lay down their arms, make concessions to
their officers, and promise obedience.

As we are not giving here a sketch of the Revolutionary War, we pass at
once to the siege and surrender at Yorktown, an event which shook the
country like that heaviest clap of thunder, herald of the departing
storm. All felt that brighter skies were preparing, and the universal
joy did not wait the sanction of a deliberate treaty of peace. The great
game of chess which had been so warily played, on one side at least, was
now in check, if not closed by a final check-mate; and people on the
winning side were fain to unknit their weary brows, and indulge the
repose they had earned. Congress and the country felt as if the decisive
blow had been struck, as if the long agony was over. Thanks were
lavished on the commanders, on the officers, on the troops. Two stands
of the enemy's colors were presented to the Commander-in-Chief, and to
Counts Rochambeau and De Grasse each a piece of British field ordnance
as a trophy. A commemorative column at Yorktown was decreed, to carry
down to posterity the events of the glorious 17th of October, 1781.
There was, in short, a kind of wildness in the national joy, showing how
deep had been the previous despondency. Watchmen woke the citizens of
Philadelphia at one in the morning, crying "Cornwallis is taken!" Sober,
Puritan America was almost startled from her habitual coolness; almost
forgot the still possible danger. The chief alone, on whom had fallen
the heaviest stress of the long contest, was impelled to new care and
forecast by the victory. He feared the negligence of triumph, and
reminded the government and the nation that all might yet be lost,
without vigilance. "I cannot but flatter myself," he says, "that the
States, rather than relax in their exertions, will be stimulated to the
most vigorous preparations, for another active, glorious, and decisive
campaign." And Congress responded wisely to the appeal, and called on
the States to keep up the military establishment, and to complete their
several quotas of troops at an early day. With his characteristic
modesty and courage, Washington wrote to Congress a letter of advice on
the occasion, of which one sentence may be taken as a specimen.
"Although we cannot, by the best concerted plans, absolutely command
success; although the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to
the strong; yet, without presumptuously waiting for miracles to be
wrought in our favor, it is an indispensable duty, with the deepest
gratitude to Heaven for the past, and humble confidence in its smiles on
our future operations, to make use of all the means in our power for our
defence and security."

It was this man, pure, devoted, and indefatigable in the cause of his
country and her liberties, that some shortsighted malcontents, judging
his virtue by their own, would now have persuaded to finish the struggle
for liberty by becoming a king. The discontent of the officers and
soldiers, with the slowness of their pay, had long been a cause of
ferment in the army, and gave to the hasty and the selfish an excuse for
desiring a change in the form of government. The king's troops had been
well fed, well clothed, and well paid, and were sure of half-pay after
the war should be finished, while the continentals, suffering real
personal destitution, were always in arrear, drawing on their private
resources, and with no provision whatever for any permanent pecuniary
recompense. As to the half-pay, Washington had long before expressed his
opinion of the justice as well as policy of such a provision. "I am
ready to declare," he says, "that I do most religiously believe the
salvation of the cause depends upon it, and without it your officers
will moulder to nothing, or be composed of low and illiterate men, void
of capacity for this or any other business. * * * Personally, as an
officer, I have no interest in the decision; because I have declared,
and I now repeat it, that I never will receive the smallest benefit from
the half-pay establishment." But the deep-seated jealousy of the army,
which haunted Congress and the country, like a Banshee, throughout the
whole course of the war, was too powerful for even Washington's
representations. All that could be effected was an unsatisfactory
compromise, and some of the officers saw or affected to see, in the
reluctance of the government to provide properly for its defenders, a
sign of fatal weakness, which but little recommended the republican
form. Under these circumstances, a well written letter was sent to the
Commander-in-Chief, proposing to him the establishment of a "mixed
government," in which the supreme position was to be given, as of right,
to the man who had been the instrument of Providence in saving the
country, in "difficulties apparently insurmountable by human power," the
dignity to be accompanied with the title of KING. Of this daring
proposition a colonel of good standing was made the organ. Washington's
reply may be well known, but it will bear many repetitions.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Newburgh, N.Y.]

            NEWBURGH, 22 May, 1782.


"With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I have read with
attention the sentiments you submitted to my perusal. Be assured, Sir,
no occurrence in the course of the war has given me more painful
sensations than your information, of there being such ideas existing in
the army as you have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence, and
reprehend with severity. For the present, the communication of them will
rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter shall
make a disclosure necessary.

"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have
given encouragement to an address, which, to me, seems big with the
greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If I am not deceived in
the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your
schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, in justice to my own
feelings, I must add that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see
ample justice done to the army than I do; and as far as my powers and
influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they shall be employed to
the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion.
Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country,
concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these
thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any
one else, a sentiment of the like nature.

      "I am, Sir, &c.,

This letter is extremely characteristic, not only because it declines
the glittering bait, for that is hardly worth noticing where Washington
is in question, but for the cool and quiet tone of rebuke, in a case in
which most other men would have been disposed to be at least
dramatically indignant. The perfectly respectful way in which he could
show a man that he despised him, is remarkable. He does not even admit
that there has been injustice done to the army, though the fact had cost
him such loads of anxious and ingenious remonstrance; but only promises
to see to it, "should there be any occasion." It would have been easier
for him, at that very moment, at the head of a victorious army, and with
the heart of the nation at his feet, to make himself a king, than to
induce Congress to do justice to the troops and their brave officers;
but identifying himself with his army, he considered that his own
private affair, and would accept no offer of partnership, however
specious. Happily the name of the "very respectable" colonel has never
been disclosed; an instance of mercy not the least noticeable among the
features of this remarkable transaction.

During the negotiations for peace which so soon followed the surrender
at Yorktown, the discontent of the army reached a height which became
alarming. Meetings of officers were called, for the purpose of preparing
threatening resolutions, since called "the Newburgh addresses," to be
offered to Congress. The alternative proposed was a relinquishment of
the service in a body, if the war continued, or remaining under arms, in
time of peace, until justice could be obtained from Congress.
Washington, having timely notice of this danger, came forward with his
usual decision, wisdom, and kindliness, to the rescue of the public
interest and peace. While he took occasion, in a general order, to
censure the disorderly and anonymous form proposed, he himself called a
meeting of officers, taking care to converse in private beforehand with
many of them, acknowledging the justice of their complaints, but
inculcating moderation and an honorable mode of obtaining what they
desired. It is said that many of the gentlemen were in tears when they
left the presence of the Commander-in-Chief. When they assembled, he
addressed them in the most impressive manner, imploring them not to
tarnish their hard-won laurels, by selfish passion, in a case in which
the vital interests of the country were concerned. He insisted on the
good faith of Congress, and the certainty that, before the army should
be disbanded, all claims would be satisfactorily adjusted.

His remonstrance proved irresistible. The officers, left to
themselves,--for the General withdrew after he had given utterance to
the advice made so potent by his character and services,--passed
resolutions thanking him for his wise interference, and expressing their
love and respect for him, and their determination to abide by his
counsel. In this emergency Washington may almost have been said to have
saved his country a second time, but in his letters written at the time
he sinks all mention of his own paramount share in restoring
tranquillity, speaking merely of "measures taken to postpone the
meeting," and "the good sense of the officers" having terminated the
affair "in a manner which reflects the greatest glory on themselves."
His own remonstrances with Congress were immediately renewed, setting
forth the just claims of those who "had so long, so patiently, and so
cheerfully, fought under his direction," so forcibly, that in a very
short time all was conceded, and general harmony and satisfaction

His military labors thus finished,--for the adjudication of the army
claims by Congress was almost simultaneous with the news of the signing
of the treaty at Paris,--Washington might, without impropriety, have
given himself up to the private occupations and enjoyments so
religiously renounced for eight years,--the proclamation of peace to the
army having been made, April 19, 1783, precisely eight years from the
day of the first bloodshedding at Lexington. But the feelings of a
father were too strong within him, and his solicitudes brooded over the
land of his love with that unfailing anxiety for its best good which had
characterized him from the beginning. Yet he modestly observes, in a
letter on the subject to Col. Hamilton, "How far any further essay by me
might be productive of the wished-for end, or appear to arrogate more
than belongs to me, depends so much upon popular opinion, and the temper
and dispositions of the people, that it is not easy to decide." He wrote
a circular letter to the Governors of the several States, full of
wisdom, dignity, and kindness, dwelling principally on four great
points--an indissoluble union of the States; a sacred regard to public
justice; the adoption of a proper military peace establishment; and a
pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the States, which
should induce them to forget local prejudices, and incline them to
mutual concessions. This address is masterly in all respects, and was
felt to be particularly well-timed, the calm and honoured voice of
Washington being at that moment the only one which could hope to be
heard above the din of party, and amid the confusion natural during the
first excitement of joy and triumph.

[Illustration: Washington's Headquarters, Rocky Hill, N.J., 1783]

Congress was not too proud to ask the counsel of its brave and faithful
servant, in making arrangements for peace and settling the new affairs
of the country. Washington was invited to Princeton, where Congress was
then sitting, and introduced into the Chamber, where he was addressed by
the President, and congratulated on the success of the war, to which he
had so much contributed. Washington replied with his usual self-respect
and modesty, and retired. A house had been prepared for him at Rocky
Hill, near Princeton, where he resided for some time, holding conference
with committees and members, and giving counsel on public affairs; and
where he wrote that admirable farewell to his army, perhaps as full of
his own peculiar spirit as any of his public papers. His thanks to
officers and soldiers for their devotion during the war have no
perfunctory coldness in them, but speak the full heart of a brave and
noble captain, reviewing a most trying period, and recalling with warm
gratitude the co-operation of those on whom he relied. Then, for their
future, his cautions and persuasions, the motives he urges, and the
virtues he recommends, all form a curious contrast with those of
Napoleon's addresses to his troops. "Let it be known and remembered," he
says, "that the reputation of the federal armies is established beyond
the reach of malevolence; and let a consciousness of their achievements
and fame still incite the men who composed them to honorable actions;
under the persuasion that the private virtues of economy, prudence, and
industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the more splendid
qualities of valor, perseverance and enterprise were in the field." Thus
consistent to the last he honored all the virtues; showing that while
those of the field were not misplaced in the farm, those of the farm
might well be counted among the best friends of the field--his own life
of planter and soldier forming a glorious commentary on his doctrines.

The evacuation of New-York by the British was a grand affair, General
Washington and Governor George Clinton riding in at the head of the
American troops that came from the northward to take possession, while
Sir Guy Carleton and his legions embarked at the lower end of the city.
The immense cavalcade of the victors embraced both military and civil
authorities, and was closed by a great throng of citizens. This absolute
_finale_ of the war brought on the Commander-in-Chief one of those
duties at once sweet and painful--taking leave of his companions in
arms; partners in toil and triumph, in danger and victory. "I cannot
come to each of you to take my leave," he said, as he stood, trembling
with emotion, "but I shall be obliged if each of you will come and take
me by the hand." General Knox, the warm-hearted, stood forward and
received the first embrace; then the rest in succession, silently and
with universal tears. Without another word the General walked from the
room, passed through lines of soldiery to the barge which awaited him,
then, turning, waved his hat, and bade to friends and comrades a silent,
heartfelt adieu, which was responded to in the same solemn spirit. All
felt that it was not the hour nor the man for noisy cheers; the spirit
of Washington presided there, as ever, where honorable and high-minded
men were concerned.

The journey southward was a triumphal march. Addresses, processions,
delegations from religious and civil bodies, awaited him at every pause.
When he reached Philadelphia he appeared before Congress to resign his
commission, and no royal abdication was ever so rich in dignity. All the
human life that the house would hold came together to hear him, and the
words, few and simple, wise and kind, that fell from the lips of the
revered chief, proved worthy to be engraved on every heart. In
conclusion he said:--"Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire
from the great theatre of action; and, bidding an affectionate farewell
to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here
offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public
life." He said afterwards to a friend:--"I feel now as I conceive a
wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a step with a heavy
burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the
haven to which all the former were directed, and from his house-top is
looking back, and tracing with an eager eye the meanders by which he
escaped the quicksands and mire which lay in his way, and into which
none but the all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have
prevented his falling." And to Lafayette, he says:--"I am not only
retired from all public employments, but I am retiring within myself,
and shall be able to view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of
private life with a heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am
determined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the
order of my march, I will move gently down the stream of life until I
sleep with my fathers."

That the public did not anticipate for him the repose and retirement he
so much desired, we may gather from the instructions sent, at the time
he resigned his commission, by the State of Pennsylvania, to her
representatives in Congress, saying that "his illustrious actions and
virtues render his character so splendid and venerable that it is highly
probable the world may make his life in a considerable degree public;"
and that "his very services to his country may therefore subject him to
expenses, unless he permits her gratitude to interpose." "We are
perfectly acquainted," says the paper, "with the disinterestedness and
generosity of his soul. He thinks himself amply rewarded for all his
labors and cares, by the love and prosperity of his fellow-citizens. It
is true no rewards they can bestow can be equal to his merits, but they
ought not to suffer those merits to be burdensome to him. * * * We are
aware of the delicacy with which such a subject must be treated. But,
relying in the good sense of Congress, we wish it may engage their early

The delegates, on receipt of these instructions, very wisely bethought
themselves of submitting the matter to the person most concerned before
they brought it before Congress, and he, as might have been expected,
entirely declined the intended favor, and put an end to the project
altogether. If he could have been induced to accept pecuniary
compensation, there is no doubt a grateful nation would gladly have made
it ample. But Washington, born to be an example in so many respects, had
provided against all the dangers and temptations of money, by making
himself independent as to his private fortune; having neglected no
opportunity of enlarging it by honorable labor or judicious management,
while he subjected the expenses of his family to the strictest scrutiny
of economy.

[Illustration: Mount Vernon (rear view).]

His first care, on arriving at Mount Vernon, was to ascertain the
condition of his private affairs; his next to make a tour of more than
six hundred miles through the western country, with the double purpose
of inspecting some lands of his, and of ascertaining the practicability
of a communication between the head waters of the great rivers flowing
east and west of the Alleghanies. He travelled entirely on horseback, in
military style, and kept a minute journal of each day's observations,
the result of which he communicated, on his return, in a letter to the
Governor of Virginia, which Mr. Sparks declares to be "one of the
ablest, most sagacious, and most important productions of his pen," and
"the first suggestion of the great system of internal improvements which
has since been pursued in the United States." On a previous tour,
through the northern part of the State of New-York, he had observed the
possibility of a water communication between the Hudson and the Great
Lakes, and appreciated its advantages, thus foreshowing, at that early
date, the existence of the Erie Canal. In 1784, Washington had a final
visit from Lafayette, from whom he parted at Annapolis, with
manifestations of a deeper tenderness than the weak can even know.
Arrived at home, he sat down at once to say yet another word to the
beloved: "In the moment of our separation, upon the road as I travelled,
and every hour since," (mark the specification from this man of exact
truth,) "I have felt all that love, respect and attachment for you, with
which length of years, close connection, and your merits have inspired
me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, whether that was
the last sight I should ever have of you? And though I wished to say No!
my fears answered Yes!" He was right; they never met again, but they
loved each other always. Lafayette's letters to Washington are
lover-like; they are alone sufficient to show how capable of the softest
feeling was the great heart to which they were addressed.

Space fails us for even the baldest enumeration of the instances of care
for the public good with which the life of Washington abounded, when he
fancied himself "in retirement," for we have unconsciously dwelt, with
the reverence of affection, upon the picture of his character during the
Revolution, and felt impelled to illustrate it, where we could, by
quotations from his own weighty words; weighty, because, to him, words
were things indeed, and we feel that he never used one thoughtlessly or
untruly. Brevity must now be our chief aim, and we pass, at once, over
all the labor and anxiety which attended the settlement of the
Constitution, to mention the election of Washington to the Presidency of
the States so newly united, by bonds which, however willingly assumed,
were as yet but ill fitted to the wearers. The unaffected reluctance
with which he accepted the trust appears in every word and action of the
time; and it is evident that, as far as selfish feelings went, he was
much more afraid of losing the honor he had gained than of acquiring
new. The heart of the nation was with him, however, even more than he
knew; and the "mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations"
than he had words to express at the outset, was soon calmed, not only by
the suggestions of duty, but by the marks of unbounded love and
confidence lavished on him at every step of his way by a grateful
people. The Inaugural Oath was taken, before an immense concourse of
people, on the balcony of Federal Hall, New-York, April 30, 1789, and
the President afterwards delivered his first Address, in the Senate
Chamber of the same building, now no longer standing, but not very
satisfactorily replaced by that magnificent Grecian temple wherein the
United States Government collects the Customs of New-York. The house in
which the first Presidential levee was held will always be a point of
interest, and the consultations between Washington and the great
officers of state about the simple ceremonial of these public
receptions, are extremely curious, as showing the manners and ideas of
the times, and the struggle between the old-country associations natural
to gentlemen of that day, and the recognized necessity of accommodating
even court regulations to the feelings of a people to whom the least
shadow of aristocratic form was necessarily hateful. We must not condemn
the popular scrupulousness of 1789 as puerile and foolish, until we too
have perilled life and fortune in the cause of liberty and equality.

[Illustration: House of the First Presidential Levee, Cherry street]

A dangerous illness brought Washington near the grave, during his first
Presidential summer, and he is said never to have regained his full
strength. In August his mother died, venerable for years and wisdom, and
always honored by her son in a spirit that would have satisfied a Roman
matron. She maintained her simple habits to the last, and is said never
to have exhibited surprise or elation, at her son's greatest glory, or
the highest honors that could be paid him. Her remains rest under an
unfinished monument, near Fredericksburgh, Virginia.

Of the wife of the illustrious Chief, it is often said that little is
known, and there is felt almost a spite against her memory because she
destroyed before her death every letter of her husband to herself, save
only one, written when he accepted the post of Commander-in-Chief. But,
to our thinking, one single letter of hers, written to Mrs. Warren,
after the President's return from a tour through the eastern States,
tells the whole story of her character and tastes, a story by no means
discreditable to the choice of the wisest of mankind. Mr. Sparks gives
the letter entire, as we would gladly do if it were admissible. We must,
however, content ourselves with a few short extracts:--

"You know me well enough to believe that I am fond only of what comes
from the heart. Under a conviction that the demonstrations of respect
and affection to him originate in that source, I cannot deny that I have
taken some interest and pleasure in them. The difficulties which
presented themselves to view in his first entering upon the Presidency,
seem thus to be in some measure surmounted. * * * I had little thought,
when the war was finished, that any circumstances could possibly happen
which would call the General into public life again. I had anticipated
that from that moment we should be suffered to grow old together, in
solitude and tranquillity. That was the first and dearest wish of my
heart. I will not, however, contemplate with too much regret,
disappointments that were inevitable, though his feelings and my own
were in perfect unison with respect to our predilection for private
life. Yet I cannot blame him for having acted according to his ideas of
duty, in obeying the voice of his country. The consciousness of having
attempted to do all the good in his power, and the pleasure of finding
his fellow-citizens so well satisfied with the disinterestedness of his
conduct, will doubtless be some compensation for the great sacrifice I
know he has made. * * * With respect to myself, I sometimes think the
arrangement is not quite as it ought to have been, that I, who had much
rather be at home, should occupy a place with which a great many younger
and gayer women would be extremely pleased. * * * I am still determined
to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have
learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery
depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the
seeds of the one or the other about with us, in our minds, wherever we
go." The whole letter bespeaks the good, kind, dutiful and devoted wife,
the loving mother,--for she represents her grandchildren as her chief
joy,--and the sensible, domestic woman. What more can any man ask in the
partner of his bosom? She was the best wife possible for Washington, and
he thought her such, and loved her entirely and always. The picture by
Stuart shows her, even in the decline of life, to have been of a
delicate and sprightly beauty.

Another eight years of public duty and public life--two presidential
terms--were bravely borne by the pair always longing for Mount Vernon.
The reluctance of Washington to the second term of office was even
stronger than that which he had expressed to the first, but he was
overborne by stress of voices. "The confidence of the whole Union,"
writes Jefferson, "is centred in you. * * * There is sometimes an
eminence of character on which society have such peculiar claims, as to
control the predilection of the individual for a particular walk of
happiness, and restrain him to that alone arising from the present and
future benedictions of mankind. This seems to be your condition, and the
law imposed on you by Providence in forming your character, and
fashioning the events on which it was to operate." And Hamilton says--"I
trust, and I pray God, that you will determine to make a further
sacrifice of your tranquillity and happiness to the public good." And
such were, throughout, the sentiments of the first men of the country,
without distinction of politics. Thus urged, he yielded once more, even
after he had prepared a farewell address to the people on his
contemplated resignation.

It was during this second term that Fox spoke of Washington before
Parliament, concluding thus:--"It must indeed create astonishment, that,
placed in circumstances so critical, and filling for a series of years a
station so conspicuous, his character should never once have been called
in question. * * * For him it has been reserved to run the race of glory
without experiencing the smallest interruption to the brilliancy of his
career." And Mr. Erskine, writing to Washington himself, says:--"I have
taken the liberty to introduce your august and immortal name in a short
sentence which will be found in the book I send you.[1] I have a large
acquaintance among the most valuable and exalted classes of men; but you
are the only human being for whom I ever felt an awful reverence. I
sincerely pray God to grant a long and serene evening to a life so
gloriously devoted to the universal happiness of the world."

The evening was indeed serene, but it was not destined to be long. Two
years were spent in domestic and social duty and pleasure, the old
Virginia hospitality being carried to an enormous extent at Mount
Vernon, over which General and Mrs. Washington presided, with all that
good sense, dignity, and _bonhommie_ united, which seems now to have
characterized their home life. Mrs. Washington, content with the
greatness described by the wise king, looked well to her maidens, and so
managed the affairs of a large establishment that "the heart of her
husband could safely trust in her, so that he had _no need of spoil_."
Who knows how much the good management of his household affairs had to
do with Washington's superiority to the temptations of gain? The ladies
should see to it that they so regulate their habits of expense that
their husbands have "no need of spoil." The extravagant tastes of Mrs.
Arnold, amiable woman though she was, are known to have heightened her
husband's rapacity, and thus added to the incentives which resulted in
treason and just ruin. Mrs. Washington, when she was in the highest
position in the nation, wore gowns spun under her own roof, and always
took care, in her conversation with the ladies about her, to exalt
domestic employments, and represent them as belonging to the duty of
woman in any station. She was supposed to have written a patriotic
paper, published in 1780, called "The Sentiments of American Women," but
the authorship has not been ascertained. The energy and consistency of
her patriotic feeling was, however, perfectly well understood, and she
is said to have borne her part in the conversation of the distinguished
company at Mount Vernon, with invariable dignity and sweetness. The
General had returned with unction to his rural and agricultural
pursuits, keeping up his life-long habit of rising before the sun, and
after breakfast making the tour of the plantation on horseback. These
employments were somewhat interrupted by the speck of war which troubled
our horizon in 1798, on which occasion all eyes were turned to him, and
his friends and the President called upon him once more to give his
services to the country. His reply was consistent with the tenor of his
life, "In case of actual invasion by a formidable force, I certainly
should not intrench myself under the cover of age and retirement, if my
services should be required by my country in repelling it." Without
waiting for his reply, the Senate had appointed him to the post of
Commander-in-Chief, and the Secretary at War was despatched immediately
to Mount Vernon with the commission, which was at once accepted. This
involved Washington once more in a press of correspondence and many
anxious duties; and his letters during this time show that his mind had
lost none of its fertility or his judgment of its soundness. He
predicted at once that France would not invade the United States, and
the event justified his foresight. But another Enemy lay in wait for
him, and to this one the hero succumbed, in the same manly spirit in
which he had battled with an earthly foe. Great suffering was crowded
into the twenty-four hours' illness which served to prostrate that
vigorous form, and to still that active brain; but he could look up, at
the last, and say--"I am not afraid to die."

December 14, 1799, was the day of his death, and the 18th of the same
month saw him laid, by a weeping multitude, in the family vault at Mount
Vernon; not the tomb in which his ashes now repose, but the old one,
which he had been planning to rebuild, saying "Let that be done first,
for perhaps I shall want it first."

We have thus traced the Father of our Country through all his earthly
Homes, to that quiet one by the side of the Potomac, the object of
devout pilgrimage to millions yet unborn. One more Home there is for
him, even in this changing world--that which he possesses in the hearts
of his countrymen, one which we cannot picture or describe, but from
which he can never be displaced by the superior merit of mortal man.
Other heroes may arise, will arise, as the world shall need them,
exponents of their times and incarnations of the highest spirit of the
race from which they spring; but America can have but one
Washington--one man in whom the peculiar virtues of the _American_
character found their embodiment and their triumph. In saying this we
may well be proud but not vainglorious. If the great truth it implies be
not yet known and read of all men, we should be humbled by the thought
that we are so slow to follow our immortal leader. Washington's
indomitable spirit of freedom, as evident when at nineteen he withstood
the English governor, as when in 1774 he "went to church and fasted all
day," in sympathy with the people of Boston, in their resolution against
the Port Bill; his self-control, the perfection of which made his fierce
passions the sworn servants of virtue; his humanity, which no personal
suffering or fatigue could blunt, and no provocation extinguish; his
manly temper, never daunted by insolence or turned into arrogance by
triumph; the respect for the civil virtues which he carried with him
through all the temptations and trials of war; the faith in God and man
which sustained him, and was indeed the secret of his power and his
success,--what a legacy are these! All that he accomplished is less to
us than what he was. To have left an example that will never need
defence or substitution to the end of time; an ideal that will warm the
heart and point the aspiration of every true American, when hundreds of
millions shall be proud of the name; to stand forth, for ever, as what
we, happy citizens of the country in which that great soul was cradled,
and to which his heart and life were devoted, think a MAN ought to
be--what a destiny for him! It is his reward. God has granted his
prayers. Nothing earthly would have satisfied him, as we know by what he
rejected. He has received that for which he labored. Who dare imagine
the complacency--only less than divine, with which the retrospect of
such a life may be fraught! Let us indulge the thought that when in the
heat of party, the lust of power, or the still deadlier hunger for
wealth, we depart from his spirit, he is permitted to see that the
dereliction is but temporary and limited; that his country is true to
him if his countrymen sometimes err; that there is for ever imprinted,
on the heart and life of the nation, the conviction that in adherence to
his precepts and imitation of his character there is safety, happiness,
glory; in departure from that standard, deterioration and decay. It must
be so, for can we conceive him blest without this?

[Illustration: Washington's Tomb.]

As if to stamp the American ideal with all perfection, it is remarkable
that Washington stood pre-eminent in manly strength and beauty, and that
a taste for athletic exercises kept him, in spite of illnesses brought
on by toil, anxiety, and exposure, in firm health during most of his
life. His picture at sixty-two, that which he himself thought the best
likeness that had been taken of him, exhibits one of the loveliest
faces that an old man ever wore. And it is marvellous how any one that
ever looked into the clear blue depths of the eye in Stuart's unfinished
picture, could be persuaded to believe Washington stern, cold, and
unfeeling. Some have even thought it added to his dignity to represent
him thus. All the historians in the world could not prove such a
contradiction to the stamp of nature. But the picture by Pine--the old
man, faded somewhat, and a little fallen in outline, wears the face of
an angel; mild, firm, modest, sensitive, aspiring, glorious! It meets
your gaze with a tenderness that dims our eye and seems almost to dim
its own. Of all the portraits of Washington, this and the half-imaginary
one made by Mr. Leutze from a miniature taken when Washington was
seventeen, are the most touchingly beautiful, and, as we verily believe,
most characteristic of the man.

It is proper, though scarcely necessary, to say that this sketch of
Washington's life is drawn from Mr. Sparks' history, since no research
can discover a single fact overlooked by that faithful and just


[1] On the causes and consequences of the war with France.


[Illustration: Franklin fac-simile of letter]


An English traveller in the United States once expressed his
astonishment at nowhere finding a monument of Franklin. He regarded it
as a new proof of the ingratitude of republics. But if we have erected
no columns, nor statues, to the memory of our first great man, we have
manifested our gratitude for the services he rendered us, and the hearty
appreciation of his character, which is universal among us, in a better,
more affectionate and enduring manner. We name our towns, counties,
ships, children, and institutions after him. His name is constantly in
our mouth, and his benevolent countenance and lofty brow are as familiar
to us as the features of Washington. We have Franklin banks, Franklin
insurance companies, Franklin societies, Franklin hotels, Franklin
markets, and even Franklin theatres. One of our line of battle ships is
called the Franklin, and there will be found a Ben Franklin, the name
affectionately abbreviated, on all our western lakes and rivers. The
popular heart cherishes his memory more tenderly than that of any of our
great men. Washington's heroism and lofty virtues set him above us, so
that while we look up to him with veneration and awe, we hardly feel
that he was one of us. His impossible grandeur forbids the familiar
sympathy which we feel for our own kind. But Franklin's greatness is of
that kind which makes the whole world kin. In him we recognize the
apotheosis of usefulness. He was our Good Genius, who took us by the
hand in our national infancy, and taught us the great art of making the
most of the world. He warmed our houses by the stove which still bears
his name, and protected us from the terrifying thunderbolt by his simple
rod. He showered upon us lessons of wisdom, all calculated to increase
our happiness, and his wise and pithy apothegms have become an important
part of our language. Never before was a young nation blessed with so
beneficent and generous a counsellor and guide. The influence of
Franklin upon the national character is beyond estimate. He taught us
alike by precept and example; and, in his autobiography, he laid the
corner stone of our literature, bequeathing us a book which will always
be fresh, instructive, and charming, while our language endures, or we
look to literature for instruction and entertainment.

Franklin was a pure, unadulterated Englishman; he came of that great
stock whose mission it is to improve the world. Though we claim him, and
justly, as an American, he was born, and lived the better part of his
life, a subject of the English crown. There was never a more thorough
Englishman, nor one whose whole consistent life more happily illustrated
the Anglo-Saxon character, nor one who was better entitled to be called
an American, or who showed a more lively and enduring love for his
native soil.

Every schoolboy is familiar with the history of Franklin; his
autobiography is our national epic; it is more read than Robinson
Crusoe; and our great national museum, the Patent Office, has been
filled with the results of ambitious attempts to follow in the path of
the inventor of the lightning-rod. One boy reads Robinson Crusoe and
runs off to sea, while another reads Franklin's Life and tries for a
patent, or begins to save a penny a day, that he may have three hundred
pennies at the end of the year. There are writers who have accused
Franklin of giving a sordid bias to our national character. But nothing
could be more unjust. There is nothing sordid in the teachings of our
great philosopher; while the example of his purely beneficent life has,
doubtless, been the cause of many of the magnificent acts of private
benevolence which have distinguished our countrymen.

Franklin says in his autobiography, in reference to his stove, which has
warmed so many generations of his countrymen, and rendered comfortable
so many American homes: "Governor Thomas was so pleased with the
construction of this stove that he offered to give me a sole patent for
the vending of them for a term of years; but I declined it from a
principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., that
as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be
glad of an opportunity to serve others by an invention of ours: and this
we should do freely and cordially." No, there was no sordidness in the
teachings of Franklin.

His immortal biography was commenced at the ripe age of sixty-six, while
he was in England, a time of life when most men have lost the power to
instruct or amuse with the pen; but it has the ease, the freshness, and
the vigor of youth. It was continued at Passy, in France, and concluded
in Philadelphia. He was one of the few instances of a precocious genius
maintaining his powers to an advanced period of life. There were no
signs of childishness in his almost infantile compositions, or of
senility in his latest productions.

Every body knows that the grandfather of Doctor Franklin was the sturdy
old puritan, Peter Folger, who wrote the homely verses which Mr. Sparks
doubts the propriety of calling poetry, and who dwelt in "Sherborn
Town." The house in which he lived, and where the mother of Franklin was
born, was still in existence but a few years since, though in a very
dilapidated condition. We remember making a pilgrimage to it in our
boyish days, after reading the Life of Franklin, and wondering in which
of its little rooms the grandfather of the philosopher sat, when he
penned the lines which the grandson thought were "written with manly
freedom and a pleasing simplicity." The house stood near the water, at
the head of a little cove, or creek, and near it was a bubbling spring,
from which the mother of the philosopher must have often drank. At that
time there were no evidences of the surrounding grounds having been
cultivated, and a wretched family inhabited the ruin. There are many
descendants of Peter Folger still living, some of whom have been eminent
for their learning and talents; but, it is a remarkable circumstance,
that, though Franklin's father and grandfather each had five sons, who
grew up to man's estate, there is not one male descendant living of that

[Illustration: Old South Church, Boston.]

Franklin was born on the 6th of January, old style, 1706, in a house
that stood on the corner of Milk-street, opposite the old South Church,
Boston, in which he was christened. The church is still standing, but
the house has been demolished, and, in its place, there is a large and
handsome granite warehouse, which is made to serve the double purpose of
a store and a monument. On the frieze of the cornice is the inscription
in bold granitic letters, THE BIRTH-PLACE OF FRANKLIN. We cannot help
thinking that it is just such a monument as he would have recommended,
if his wishes had been consulted. But the house in which our great
philosopher spent his earlier years, and to which his father removed
soon after the birth of his youngest son, is still standing, very nearly
in the same condition in which it was during his youth. It is on the
corner of Hanover and Union streets, and the wooden gilt ball of the old
soap-boiler is still suspended from an iron crane, with the inscription
JOSIAS FRANKLIN, 1698. The ball is the original one, but it must have
been many times regilt and relettered. The building is occupied by a
shoe dealer in the lower part, but the upper rooms are in the occupancy
of an industrial whose art had no existence until near a century after
the death of Franklin's father. A daguerrean artist now takes likenesses
in the rooms where the boy-philosopher slept, and sat up late at night
to read Defoe's Essay on Projects, and Plutarch's Lives, by the
glimmering light of one of his father's own dips. It was here too that
he read the Light House Tragedy, after having cut wicks all day; and it
was in the cellar of this house, too, that he made that characteristic
suggestion to his father, of saying grace over the barrel of beef, which
he saw him packing away for the winter's use, to save the trouble of a
separate grace over each piece that should be served up for dinner. This
anecdote may not be strictly true, but it is perfectly characteristic,
and very much like one he tells of himself, when he was the
Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of Pennsylvania. The chaplain
of his regiment complained to him that the men would not attend prayers,
whereupon, says Franklin, "I said to him, 'it is perhaps below the
dignity of your profession to act as steward of the rum; but if you were
only to distribute it out after prayers you would have them all about
you.' He liked the thought, undertook the task, and, with the help of a
few hands to measure out the liquor, executed it to satisfaction, and
never were prayers more generally and more punctually attended."

This kind of humorous good sense, was one of the marked peculiarities of
his character; there was lurking wit and humor in all his acts, and in
his gravest essays, of which his epigrammatic letter to his old friend
Strahan, the king's printer, is a notable example.

The old house in which Franklin spent his boyhood is now a long distance
from the water, and in the midst of a wilderness of brick and granite
buildings, but he speaks of it as near the shore, and it was close by
that he built the little wharf of stolen stones, which induced his
father to impress upon him the great truth that "that which was not
honest could not be truly useful."

Where the young apprentice lived when he was boarded out by his brother,
and first "went in" to vegetarianism, we have not been able to
ascertain; and, on his flight from Boston, in his seventeenth year, he
does not appear to have remained long enough in New-York to have had a
home. The first place he slept in, in Philadelphia, was a quaker
meeting-house; but his first home in the city which he afterwards
rendered famous, from having resided in it, was at a public house in
Water-street, known as the Crooked Billet; not a very significant sign
to us of the present generation. Wherever Franklin went, or in whatever
new sphere he applied himself to business, he immediately inspired
confidence in his ability, and gained friends, as all able men do. The
runaway boy of seventeen had hardly begun to put Bradford's printing
office in order when he was called upon by Colonel French, and Sir
William Keith, governor of the province, who invited him to a tavern,
offered him a bottle of Madeira, and proposed to set him up in business;
yet he was not of a glib tongue and a prepossessing appearance.

At the age of eighteen he made his first voyage to London, and lived in
Little Britain with his friend Ralph at a cost of three shillings and
sixpence a week. Franklin worked in Palmer's famous printing house in
Bartholomew Close, near a year, and for the first and only time of his
life was improvident and extravagant, spending his earnings at plays and
public amusements, and neglecting to write to Miss Read in Philadelphia,
with whom he had "exchanged promises." He worked diligently, though, and
during that time wrote and published "A Dissertation on Liberty and
Necessity, Pleasure and Pain," This essay gained him the friendship of
an author who took him to the Horns, a pale ale-house, introduced him to
Dr. Mandeville and promised him a sight of Newton. He afterwards removed
to lodgings in Duke-street, and occupied a room up three pairs of
stairs, which he rented of a widow, who had an only daughter, with whom
he used to sup on half an anchovy, a very small slice of bread and
butter, and half a pint of ale between them. He remained eighteen months
in England, and returned to Philadelphia with the expectation of
entering into mercantile business with his friend Denman.

It was during his voyage from London to Philadelphia that he wrote out
the plan for regulating his future conduct, which, he says, he had
adhered to through life. The plan has not been preserved, but we have
the life which was conformed to it, and can easily conceive what it was.

Fortunately for mankind his friend Denman died soon after the return of
Franklin to Philadelphia, whereby his mercantile projects were
frustrated, and he was compelled to return to his trade of printing; he
was just turned of twenty-one, and not finding employment as a
merchant's clerk, he undertook the charge of his former employer's
printing office. Here his inventive genius was taxed, for he had to make
both types and ink, as they could not be procured short of London. He
also engraved the copper plates, from his own designs, for the paper
money of New Jersey, and constructed the first copper plate press that
had been seen in the country. He could not long remain in the employment
of another, and, before the end of the year, had established himself in
business as a printer, in partnership with his friend Meredith. His life
now commenced in earnest, he was his own master, and held his fortune in
his own hands; he had already discerned "that truth, sincerity, and
integrity, were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life;" and
day by day his genius ripened and his noble character was developed. In
the year 1730, he was married to Miss Read, and laid the foundation of
the Pennsylvania Library; the first public library that had been
commenced in the country. The two succeeding years of his life were not
marked by any striking event, but they were, perhaps, the two most
important in his history, as during that time he schooled himself to
virtue by a systematic course of conduct, the particulars of which he
has given in his biography. At the end of this period he commenced his
"Poor Richard's Almanac," the publication of which was continued by him
twenty-five years. It was the first successful attempt in authorship on
this side of the Atlantic. His first "promotion," as he calls it,
meaning his first public employment, was on being chosen Clerk of the
General Assembly; and the next year he was appointed Postmaster at
Philadelphia. His private business all the time increased; he founded
societies for philosophical purposes; continued to publish his paper;
wrote innumerable pamphlets; was elected colonel of a regiment; invented
his stove, and engaged in all manner of beneficial projects; he
established hospitals and academies, made treaties with the Indians,
became Postmaster General, and after devising means for cleaning the
streets of Philadelphia, turned his attention to those of London and

[Illustration Grave of Franklin, Philadelphia]

But, it is with the "Homes" of Franklin that our limited space must be
occupied, and not with his life and actions. Although he occupied, at
various times, almost as many different houses as there are headquarters
of Washington, yet there are few of them now left; living always in
cities, the houses he inhabited have been destroyed by the irresistible
march of improvement. In his fifty-first year, he was sent to London by
the General Assembly to present a petition to the king, and to act as
the agent of Pennsylvania in England. He sailed from New-York and
arrived in London in July, 1757, and at this point of his life his
autobiography ends. From an original letter of his in our possession,
written on the eve of his departure from Philadelphia, he directs that
letters must be sent to him in London at the Pennsylvania Coffee House,
in Birchin Lane, where he doubtless lived on his first arrival, but his
permanent home in London, during fifteen years, was at Mrs. Stevenson's
in Craven-street. He travelled much in Great Britain and on the
continent, was present at the coronation of George III., and returned to
America in 1762, having stopped awhile at Madeira on the voyage. He went
to England again in 1764, and after a brilliant and most serviceable
career abroad, returned to his native home in season to sign his name to
the Declaration of Independence, giving a greater weight of personal
character, and a more potent popular influence to the cause than any
other of the immortal participators in that glorious act. He died in the
year 1790, on the 17th of April, at 11 o'clock at night, in his 85th
year, in his house in Market-street, Philadelphia, which he had built
for his own residence. His remains lie by the side of his wife's, in the
burying ground of Christ Church, covered by a simple marble slab, in
conformity with his directions. There is a small granite pyramid in the
Granary burying ground in Boston, which the economical citizens make do
double duty, as a memorial of the greatest name of which their city can
boast, and a monument to his parents.

[Illustration: Franklin's Monument, Boston]


[Illustration: Jefferson fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Monticello, Jefferson's Residence]


Jefferson would have been a notable man in any country and any age,
because he possessed both genius and character. Without the former he
could never have succeeded, as he did, in moulding the opinions of his
contemporaries and successors, and without the latter, he would not have
been, as he was, bitterly hated by his enemies and cordially loved by
his friends. His genius, however, was not of that kind which in the
ardor of its inspiration intoxicates the judgment; nor was his
character, on the other hand, of the sort which moves an admiration so
profound, unquestioning and universal, as to disarm the antagonism its
very excellence provokes. There was enough error and frailty, therefore,
mingled with his eminent qualities both of mind and heart, to involve
him in seeming contradictions, and to expose his life to double
construction and controversy. At the same time, it has happened to him
as it has often happened in human history, that the hostility awakened
by his acts during his life, has dwindled with the lapse of time, while
his fame has grown brighter and broader with every renewal of the
decisions of posterity. No man, we may now safely say, who has figured
on the theatre of events in this country, with the single exception of
Washington, occupies a larger share of the veneration of Americans.

He was born at Shadwell, in Albemarle county, Virginia, in 1743. His
father, dying when he was twelve years of age, left him a large
inheritance. He was educated at the College of William and Mary, studied
law under the celebrated George Wythe, began the practice of it in 1767,
and in 1769 was chosen a member of the provincial legislature, where his
first movement--an unsuccessful one--was for the emancipation of the
slaves. But a greater question soon engrossed his mind. Already a spirit
of opposition had been excited in the colonies to the arbitrary measures
of the parliament of Great Britain,--that very legislature was dissolved
by the Governor, in consequence of the sympathy displayed by its leading
members with the patriotic proceedings of Massachusetts,--it appealed to
the constituency, and was triumphantly returned,--and then in 1773, its
more active spirits organized, in a room of a tavern at Raleigh, a
system of correspondence, designed to inflame the zeal and unite the
efforts of the colonists against the encroachments of power. As a result
of this activity, a convention was called in Virginia for the purpose of
choosing delegates to a more general Congress. Jefferson was a member of
it, but not being able, on account of ill-health, to attend, drew up a
paper on the Rights of British America, which the convention did not
adopt, but which it published; "the leap he proposed," as he says,
"being too long for the mass of the citizens,"--and which Edmund Burke
in England caused to run through several editions. The pamphlet procured
him reputation, and the more honorable distinction of having his name
placed in a bill of attainder, moved in one of the houses of Parliament.
Thus early was he identified with the champions of liberty in the new

In 1775, Jefferson took his seat for the first time in the Continental
Congress, whither he carried the same decided and liberal tone which had
marked his legislative efforts. He was soon appointed on the most
important committees, and especially on that, which, on the motion of
the delegates of Virginia, was raised to prepare a Declaration of
Independence for the colonies. It was a measure carried only after a
strenuous and hot debate, but it was finally carried by a large
majority; and to Jefferson was assigned the task, by his associates, of
preparing the document destined to inaugurate a new era in the history
of mankind. How he executed the duty the world knows; for this paper
became the charter of freedom to a whole continent; and annually to this
day, millions of people read it with gratitude, reverence, joy, and
praise to God. For a second time, then, we behold our Jefferson, a
chosen champion of liberty, linking his name, not with a bill of
attainder this time; but with the most signal event in the destiny of
his country,--and one, second to none in the political fortunes of

The Declaration proclaimed, Mr. Jefferson retired from his place in the
Congress to resume his seat in the legislature of his native State;
where, an imperfect Constitution having been adopted, during his
absence, he was immediately involved in the most indefatigable labors
for its reform. In connection with Wythe, Mason, Pendleton, and Lee, he
prepared no less than 136 different acts, from which were derived all
the most liberal features of the existing laws of the Commonwealth. They
laid the foundation, in fact, of the code of Virginia,--as a mere
monument of industry, they were a most extraordinary work, but when we
consider the importance of some of the principles of legislation which
they introduced, sufficient in themselves to have immortalized the name
of any man. Among these principles, were provisions for the abrogation
of the laws of entail and primogeniture, for the establishment of
religious freedom, for a complete amelioration of the criminal code,
including the abolition of capital punishments in all cases, except of
treason and murder, for the emancipation, at a certain age, of all
slaves born after the passage of the act, for the division of the
counties into wards and towns, and the establishment thereby of free
municipal institutions, and for the introduction of a system of popular
education, providing for schools in each town, academies in each county,
and a University for the State. The three first were carried into
effect; but the others, in consequence of his personal absence on other
duties, failed. But what a different destiny would have been that of
Virginia if they had not failed! How intrepid, too, the mind which could
conceive and urge such measures at that time! Society in Virginia was
then divided into three classes, the land and slave-owners, the
yeomanry, and the laboring people. Jefferson was by birth and position
of the first class, but his chief associations had been among the second
class, while his sympathies were with the third class, or rather with
all classes. Had his suggestions been adopted, these distinctions would
have been destroyed, and Virginia raised to the first place among the
free nations of the earth. Thus, for a third time, we find Jefferson
among the foremost advocates of the liberty and advancement of the

In 1779 he was chosen the successor of Patrick Henry, as the Governor of
the State; but war having been declared, and a military invasion being
at hand, he resigned the position on account of his want of military
talents, in favor of General Nelson. He had barely time to escape with
his family before the enemy entered his house. Congress twice solicited
him to go abroad, first to negotiate a peace, and then a treaty of
alliance and commerce with France, but as "the laboring oar," in his own
language, "was at home," it was not until the year 1782, when the
assurance that a general peace would be concluded, became stronger, that
he consented to quit his country. The preliminary articles of a peace,
however, were received before the time of his departure, and the objects
of his mission being thus accomplished, he was again chosen to Congress
in 1783.

The great question then, was the formation of a better government for
the colonies, than the weak and ill-jointed confederation of the time
had afforded. Jefferson was prepared to enter into its discussion with
ardor, bringing to the task that keen sagacity and that stern republican
spirit, which were among his chief characteristics, when he was joined
to Adams and Franklin in a commission for negotiating treaties of
commerce with foreign nations. He arrived in Paris in June of 1785. His
practical insight into affairs, his vast information, and his determined
will, made him a valuable acquisition even to the distinguished
abilities of his colleagues. His labors were incessant, and yet he found
time to participate, as far as his diplomatic functions allowed, in the
stirring and brilliant scenes then going forward on the theatre of
Europe. The part that he had performed in the great battles for liberty
in America, attracted towards him the regards and the confidence of all
the prominent actors of the revolutionary drama of France. It was at his
house that the patriots most frequently met; it was in his house that
the Declaration of Rights which preceded the first French Constitution
was drafted; it was at his house that the First Constitution was
proposed; it was from him that Lafayette received many of his best and
noblest impulses, and to him that the earlier leaders of the struggle
looked for sympathy, concurrence, and direction. In after years, in the
bitter political contests of the day, it was a topic of reproach that he
was under French influence, but the truth was, as some one has
sagaciously remarked, that the French had been brought under an American
influence. He simply continued to be abroad what he had always been at
home, the pioneer and consistent friend of popular rights,--the
unflinching supporter of popular liberty.

It was during this interval of absence in Europe, that the controversy
in respect to a better constitution of government for the colonies, to
which we have just alluded, was brought to a head. There had always been
a substantial union between them, founded upon contiguous geographical
position and their common interests, as well as their community of
origin, languages, laws and religion, which the common danger of the
Revolution had served to strengthen and cement. But as yet their
political union was inchoate and fragile. It was a simple improvement
upon the classical confederacies of history, such as had prevailed in
ancient Greece, on the plains of Etrusca, before Rome was, among the
dikes of Holland, or along the declivities of the Swiss Alps,--and such
as Montesquieu and the accepted writers praised as the perfection of
political arrangement, clear of all defects, and secure from foreign
violence and domestic weakness. Yet, in the practice of the New World,
it had not justified the praises of the theorists, for a fatal vice, an
alarming and radical weakness had been developed in its want of due
centripetal force. In other words, it was rather a conglomerate than a
united whole, and the difficulty of the new problem which it raised
consisted in the proper adjustment of the federal and central with the
State and local authority. Parties were, of course, immediately formed
on the question of the true solution of it, the one favoring a strong
central power, taking the name of Federalist; and the other, disposed to
adhere to the separate sovereignty and independence of the States,
taking the name of Anti-Federalist. In the end, the Constitution
actually adopted, a work only second in importance to the Revolution
itself, or more properly the constructive completion of it, was a
compromise between the two, although the original parties still
maintained their relative positions, as the friends and foes of a
preponderating general government.

Jefferson inclined to the anti-federalists, but not being in the midst
of the debate, was scarcely mingled with its more exciting quarrels. It
is hard to say, what shape, or whether a different shape at all, would
have been given to the instrument of union, had he been at home to take
part in its formation. We think it probable, however, that his immense
personal influence, combined with his sharp forecast and decentralizing
tendency, would have succeeded in modifying its more aristocratic and
conservative features, especially in regard to the absorbing power of
the Executive and the irresponsible tenure of the Judiciary. Be that as
it may, the choice of him by Washington, in 1789, for the post of the
first Secretary of State, gave him an opportunity of exercising his
talents and manifesting his disposition, in the organization of the new

There were two antagonisms which he found it necessary at the outset to
meet; first, the tendency to federal absorption, and second, the
reliance upon law rather than liberty, both embodied in the person of
Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, a man of genius, of
energy, of sincere convictions, and the confidant of Washington. The two
men were, therefore, speedily self-placed in strong opposition. Hamilton
had been educated in a military school, he admired the British
Constitution, and, though he was an earnest patriot, as his efficient
services in the war, and his masterly vindications of the Constitution
had proved, he cherished a secret distrust of the people. Jefferson, on
the other hand, had sympathized all his life with the multitude,
approved, or rather had anticipated, the French philosophy, which was
then in vogue, disliked the English models of government, and was
sanguine of the future. It was inevitable, consequently, that the
opposition of such men, both able, both decided, both earnest in their
plans, should widen into an almost irreconcilable hostility. In 1793,
Jefferson resigned, but not until, by his reports to Congress on the
currency, the fisheries, weights and measures, and by his correspondence
with foreign ministers, he had placed his department on a level with the
Foreign Offices of the older nations. It is to him that we are indebted
for our decimal coinage, and through him, as Mr. Webster, a competent
and not too friendly judge, has confessed, our diplomatic intercourse
was raised to a dignity and strength which will bear comparison with any
that other governments can produce.

In 1797 Jefferson was called from his retirement to act as
Vice-President of the United States,--a place of not much practical
efficiency, but which he illustrated by compiling a manual of
Parliamentary Practice, which has ever since been the standard by which
the proceedings of legislative bodies in this country are regulated.
There was no position, indeed, which he does not appear to have been
able to turn to some advantage to his country and his fellow-men.

At the close of his term as Vice-President, he was chosen President,--a
choice in which a final blow was given to the doctrines of Federalism,
and the democratic republic finally inaugurated. We shall not, however,
enter into the contests of that period, nor attempt to detail the
measures of his administration. They are subjects for history, not for
an outline like this we sketch. Suffice it to say, that the aspirations
of the people were not disappointed by the results of his action. He
rescued the functions of government from the improper direction which
had been given to them, he organized strength through simplicity, he
almost doubled the territory of the Union, he caused the vast regions of
the west, now the seat of populous empire, to be explored, he gave us
character abroad, and maintained tranquillity at home,--and, last of
all, against the solicitation of his friends, with a popular prestige
that would have carried him in triumph through a third or fourth term of
office, even to the close of his days, he consecrated for ever the
example of Washington, by resigning, as that great man had done, at the
end of eight years.

These are the simple facts of Jefferson's active career, and they need
no comment. They present a character obviously too transparent to allow
of much mistake. All his life points to a few simple but great objects.
By his sanguine temperament, his keen insight, his quick and cherishing
sympathies, his strong love of justice, his kindly visions of the
future, he was made a democrat; and, under no circumstances could he
have been any thing else. He hated tyranny, he loved truth, and he was
not afraid of man; how then could he avoid becoming what he was, the
apostle of freedom, author of the Statutes of Virginia and the
Declaration of Independence, founder of the republican party, a name of
power to future generations which have scarcely yet come up to the
greatness and breadth of his enlightened opinions? Errors of conduct he
may have committed, for who is perfect? impracticable views he may have
enunciated, for who is all-wise? but the glory of his achievements is an
imperishable remembrance of his countrymen, illustrating their history
to all nations and to all times. "A superior and commanding intellect,"
it has been eloquently said, "is not a temporary flame burning brightly
for a while, and then giving place to returning darkness. It is rather a
spark of fervent heat, as well as radiant light, with power to enkindle
the common mass of human mind; so that when it glimmers in its own
decay, and finally goes out in death, no night follows, but it leaves
the world all light, all on fire, from the potent contact of its own

The retirement of Mr. Jefferson at Monticello was passed in the
cultivation of his estate, in the pursuit of letters, in cheerful
intercourse with friends, in the duties of a liberal hospitality, and in
advancing his favorite project of a University of Virginia. His notes on
Virginia, and his contributions to scientific periodicals, together with
his extensive correspondence, had brought him to the acquaintance of the
most distinguished scientific men of the world, and his eminent
political services had made him known to statesmen. His house was,
therefore, always thronged with visitors, who, attracted by his fame,
were charmed by his conversation, astonished by his learning, and warmed
into love by the unaffected kindliness of his deportment. A beautiful
retirement, full of grandeur, of simplicity, of dignity and repose! A
patriarch of the nation which he had helped to found, and which he lived
to see in a condition of unparalleled advancement,--illustrious in two
hemispheres,--his name connected with events that introduced a new era
in the history of his race,--surrounded by the grateful admiration of
growing millions of people; his old age was passed in the serenest
contentment, amid the blandishments of literature and science, the
interchanges of friendly offices, and in useful labor in the library or
on the farm.

Monticello, which is the name which Mr. Jefferson had given to his home,
was built in one of the most enchanting regions of Virginia. "It seemed
designed by nature," says a writer, "as the very seat from which, lifted
above the world's turmoil, one who has exhausted what it can bestow of
eminence, might look down, withdrawn from its personal troubles, but
contemplating at leisure the distant animation of the scene. It was a
place scarcely less fit for the visionary abode of the philosophic
speculatist, than by its far-spread and shifting beauties of landscapes
to inspire a poet with perpetual delight." On a spire of the romantic
Blue Ridge, whose varying outlines stretch away from it till they are
lost to the sight, with a sylvan scene of unsurpassed loveliness in the
vale below, the quiet Rivanna meandering through rich fields on one
side, the pleasant village of Charlotteville dotting the other, while
the porticoes and domes of the University rise in the distance behind,
it overlooked a combination of natural pictures that are rarely found in
one spot.

"The country," says the visitor we have just quoted, "is not flat, but a
gently waving one; yet, from above and afar, its inequalities of surface
vanish into a map-like smoothness, and are traceable only in the light
and shade cast by hill and plain. The prospect here has a diameter of
near a hundred miles: its scope is therefore such that atmospheric
effects are constantly flickering over it, even in the most cloudless
days of a climate as bright if not quite so soft as that of Italy; and
thus each varying aspect of the weather is reflected, all the while,
from the features of the landscape, as the passions are over the face of
some capricious beauty, that laughs, and frowns, and weeps almost in the
same breath. Near you, perhaps, all is smiling in the sunlight; yonder
broods or bursts a storm; while, in a third quarter, darkness and light
contend upon the prospect, and chase each other. The sky itself is thus
not more shifting than the scene you may have before you. It takes a new
aspect at almost every moment, and bewitches you with a perpetual

The mansion of the philosopher was placed on the top of an eminence
commanding this beautiful scene. It was somewhat fantastic in its
architecture, owing to the additions and rebuildings that had been
constantly going on, to adapt it to the enlarged wants and changing
tastes of the occupant, but it was spacious, richly furnished and
commodious. The rarest treasures of literature adorned the library, and
indeed every part bore witness to the affluence and cultivated pursuits
of the venerable sage. A farm of some fourteen thousand acres lay about
among the hills, which was laboriously and carefully husbanded, and
which gave employment in various ways to a number of artificers and
mechanics, whose dwellings were distributed about the slopes. His
estate, in short, was a small and almost independent community in
itself, capable of supplying the ordinary needs and even the luxuries of
a highly civilized condition of social existence. As a proof of this, we
may state by the way, that the carriage of the proprietor, as well as
many of the tools and implements in daily use, had been manufactured on
the premises. But the wonder of the place was the library, which was not
only extensive, but extensively rich in its rare possessions, which the
master had seduously collected during his long residence abroad from
every nook and corner of Europe. Unfortunately many of these books,
afterwards presented to Congress, were burned in the conflagration of
the Capitol. Of the man himself, a guest, who was any thing but an
admirer, has left this record.

"Dressed, within doors, as I saw him last, no longer in the red
breeches, which were once famous as his favorite and rather conspicuous
attire; but still vindicating by a sanguine waistcoat his attachment to
that Republican color; in gray shorts, small silver kneebuckles, gray
woollen stockings, black slippers, a blue body-coat, surmounted by a
gray spencer; tall, and though lithe of person and decidedly graceful
and agile of motion and carriage, yet long and ill-limbed, Mr.
Jefferson's figure was commanding and striking, though bad, and his face
most animated and agreeable, although remarkably ugly. His legs, by no
means shunned observation; yet they were scarcely larger at the knee
than in the ankle, and had never been conscious of a calf. Still, though
without strength, they had always borne him along with vigor and
suppleness. These bodily qualities and a health almost unfailing, he
preserved, in a singular degree, to the very close of his long life. At
the time I speak of, when he was in his eighty-first year, he not only
mounted his horse without assistance and rode habitually some ten miles
a day, but, dismounting at a fence breast-high, would leap over it, by
only placing his hand on the topmost rail. He walked not only well and
swiftly, but with a lightness and springiness of tread, such as few
young men even have. It was a restless activity of mind, which informed
all this unusual mobility of body; and the two, I think, were, in him,
greatly alike. For his intellect had, like his person, more size than
shape, more adroitness than force, more suppleness than solidity, and
affected its ends by continuity of action not mass of power, by
manipulation not muscularity. You may batter to pieces with a small
hammer that which a cannon-ball would not shiver. He was never idle:
nay, hardly a moment still. He rose early and was up late, through his
life; and was all day, whenever not on foot or a-horse-back, at study,
at work, or in conversation. If his legs and fingers were at rest, his
tongue would sure to be a-going. Indeed, even when seated in his library
in a low Spanish chair, he held forth to his visitors in an almost
endless flow of fine discourse, his body seemed as impatient of keeping
still as his mind, it shifted its position incessantly, and so twisted
itself about that you might almost have thought he was attitudinizing.
Meantime, his face, expressive as it was ugly, was not much less busy
than his limbs, in bearing its part in the conversation, and kept up,
all the while, the most speaking by-play, an eloquence of the
countenance as great as ugly features could well have. It stood to his
conversation like the artful help of well-imagined illustrations to the
text of a book: a graphic commentary on every word, that was as
convincing to the eyes as was his discourse to the ears. The impression
which it conveyed was a strong auxiliary of all he uttered: for it begat
in you an almost unavoidable persuasion of his sincerity."

Jefferson's conversation is described as the most agreeable and
brilliant of his day; but was it this which gave him his personal power?
He was not in other respects a man of any pre-eminent personal
qualities; he did not possess commanding military skill; he was no
orator, having seldom spoken in public; and though a good writer, he was
not particularly distinguished in that line. His conversation,
therefore, may have helped him in acquiring a mastery of the minds of
men; but the real secret of his success consisted in two things--in his
general superiority of intellect, and in his rich, generous, noble
intuitions. He saw the truths and spoke the words, which the world
wanted to see and hear, at the right time--a little in advance of his
generation, but not too much in advance so as to "dwarf himself by the
distance." His sympathetic genius beat responsive to the genius of his
age. His instincts were the instincts of the men of his day; more
decided and pronounced than theirs, but still recognized as a prophecy
of what they felt the deepest and wanted the most. All the talent, all
the cunning, all the selfish calculation of the world could not have
enabled him to reach the heights which he attained by the simple and
consistent utterance of his nature. He conquered, as Emerson says in
speaking of the force of character over and above mere force of some
special faculty, because his arrival any where altered the face of
affairs. "Oh, Iole, how did you know that Hercules was a God?"
"Because," answered Iole, "I was content the moment my eyes fell upon
him. When I beheld Theseus, I desired that I might see him offer battle,
or at least guide his horses in the chariot race; but Hercules did not
wait for a contest; he conquered whether he stood or walked, or sat, or
whatever thing he did."

Happy in his life, Jefferson was no less happy in his death, for he went
peacefully to rest on the fiftieth anniversary of the great day which he
had done so much to make great, the Jubilee of our national
freedom,--when the shouts of the people, as they ascended from the
innumerable vales, to his receding ears, must have sounded as a prelude
to the swelling voices of posterity.


[Illustration: Hancock fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Hancock House, Boston]


In the mouths of the people of New England, and indeed throughout the
United States, the name of John Hancock has become a household word. In
the State of Massachusetts, where he was born, lived, and died, and in
the affairs of which he took, for five-and-twenty years, so very active
and leading a part, he enjoyed a degree and a permanence of popularity
never yet obtained by any other man. And yet we may observe and the same
thing may be noted in other and more recent instances--a remarkable fact
that deserves to be pondered--that his high degree of popularity was not
at all dependent upon any peculiar embodiment or manifestation on his
part of the more prevailing and characteristic traits of the community
about him. Indeed the popular favor which Hancock enjoyed would seem to
have been determined, as the attachment of individuals so often is, and
as has happened also in other notable instances, rather by the
attraction of opposites.

And yet Hancock's line of descent was such as might naturally enough
have inspired the expectation of finding in him a good many more marks
of the old puritan temper and manners than he ever exhibited. From the
days of the first settlement of New England, down to the period of the
Revolution and afterwards, the "ministers" constituted a sort of
clerical nobility, enjoying a very high degree of influence and
consideration; and it is to forefathers of that order, that a large part
of the most distinguished and influential New England families may trace
their origin. The elder sons of these ministers, commonly, and the
younger ones often, were educated to the profession of their fathers,
long regarded in New England as the most certain road to distinction,
whether spiritual or temporal. But as the demand for ministers was
limited, and as their families were generally pretty large, many of
their sons found it necessary to engage in the avocations of civil life,
in which they not uncommonly attained to wealth and high social
positions. Yet, for the most part, however zealous and successful they
might be in the pursuit of temporal objects, they still continued to
exhibit pretty evident marks of their clerical descent and breeding in a
certain stiff, cold, and austere gravity, if not, indeed, in a certain
sanctimonious air even in the very act of concluding the very tightest
and sharpest of bargains;--all the attributes, in fact, comprehensively
and impressively conveyed to an inhabitant of New England by the title
of _Deacon_, which office, as if still clinging to the horns of the
altar, they often filled; thus becoming pillars and supports of that
church of which their fathers had been the candlesticks.

The grandfather of John Hancock, himself called John, was for more than
fifty years, as if by a sort of vaticination of the future, minister of
Lexington, near to Concord; thus associating with that of Hancock
another name, now to all American ears so familiar as the scene of the
first revolutionary bloodshed. We are told by a biographer of this first
John Hancock, that he possessed "a facetious temper," but in the grim
old portrait which still hangs on the walls of his grandson's family
mansion-house, very small traces of facetiousness appear; and so far as
physiognomy goes, we should be rather inclined to look to his
grandmother, to whose accompanying portrait the artist has given a fine
open countenance, with something of a magnificent and voluptuous style
of beauty, for the source of those social qualities and captivating
manners by which their famous grandson was distinguished. The minister
of Lexington had two sons, both also ministers, one of whom became his
father's colleague. The other, the father of our John Hancock, was
settled at Braintree, near Boston, in that part of it which now
constitutes the town of Quincy; and it was here that in the year 1737
our John Hancock was born, only a short distance from the birth-place of
John Adams, who was some two years his senior. The old house in which
the future patriot first saw the light was destroyed by an accidental
fire previous to the Revolution; and the land on which it had stood
coming subsequently into the possession of John Adams, he presented it
to the town of Quincy as a site for a future academy.

At the age of six or seven years, the young John Hancock was left
without a father; but in his uncle, Thomas Hancock, he found a guardian
and protector, who not only loved him, but was able to assist him.
Thomas Hancock early in life had been placed as an apprentice to a
Boston stationer, and had afterwards set up in that line of business for
himself: but subsequently extending the sphere of his operations, he
became one of the most eminent and successful merchants of New England.
As he had no children, he adopted, as his own, his young nephew, whose
affable and joyous temper had not failed to make him dear to his uncle,
as they did to so many others; and having sent him to Harvard College,
where he graduated at the early age of seventeen, he took him afterwards
into his counting-house to be initiated into the mysteries of
merchandise; and in due season admitted him as a partner. It was,
perhaps, as well on business as for pleasure, or general improvement,
that the young Hancock visited England, whither he went in company with
the returning Governor Pownall, whose taste for social enjoyment was
similar to his own, and where he saw the funeral of George II. and the
coronation of George III., little thinking at that moment how active a
part he was himself soon to take in curtailing the limits of the British
monarchy, and in snatching from the young king's crown its brightest

Thomas Hancock, the uncle, died in 1764, leaving behind him a fortune
amassed by his judicious and successful mercantile enterprises, of not
less than $350,000, one of the largest ever acquired in Boston, up to
that time, though small in comparison with several of the present day,
when even ten times as much may be produced by combined good fortune,
tact, and perseverance. Thomas Hancock bestowed by his will some
considerable legacies for charitable purposes, among others a thousand
pounds to Harvard College to endow a professorship of oriental
languages, being thus, as the historian of the college assures us, the
first native American to endow a professorship in any literary
institution;--but the great bulk of his fortune he bequeathed to his
favorite nephew, $250,000 at once, and a reversionary interest in
$100,000 more, of which his widow was to enjoy the use during her life.

Thus in 1764, at the early age of twenty-seven, and just upon the eve of
the commencement of the revolutionary disputes with the mother country,
John Hancock came into possession of one of the largest fortunes in the

Yet, though this large estate was an instrument and a stepping-stone,
without the help of which Hancock would never have attained to that
social and political distinction which he coveted and enjoyed so much,
yet without his rare personal gifts and accomplishments it would have
been wholly unavailing to that end; and so far from qualifying him,
would have disqualified him, as it did so many other of the rich men of
that time, for playing the conspicuous part he did in political affairs.
Though for some time after his uncle's death he continued in business as
a merchant, there were others who knew much better than he how to
increase estates, already in the popular estimate--especially
considering the use made of them--quite too large. Indeed, his business
operations do not seem to have had mainly or primarily in view the
making of money; for though he started new enterprises, going largely
into ship-building, it was rather, at least so Hutchinson insinuates, as
a politician than as a capitalist, looking more to the number of people
he employed, and the increase thereby of his influence and popularity,
than to the enlargement of his already plentiful fortune. There were
others also who knew much better than he how to keep what they had, at
least as they thought, men who used no less economy in spending their
money than they or their fathers had done in acquiring it. But although
the rich man who keeps his capital entire, and even increasing, is, in
some sense, certainly a public benefactor, yet the fountain that
overflows, sending forth a copious stream which the thirsty passers-by
are all free to drink from, or at least to look at, is always more
joyfully seen and more pleasingly remembered--even though it does run
the risk of some time running dry--than the deep well, whose water is
hardly visible, and which, though quite inexhaustible, yet for want of
any kind of a bucket that can be made to sink into it, or any rope long
enough to draw such a bucket up, is very little available to the parched
throats of the fainting wayfarers, who, in the spirit and with the
feelings of Tantalus, are thus rather disposed to curse than to bless

To be able to make money is, at least in New England, a very common
accomplishment, to be able to keep it not a rare one; but very few have
understood so well as Hancock did, how to make the most of it in the way
of spending it, obtaining from it, as he did, the double gratification
of satisfying his own private inclinations, at the same time that he
promoted his political views by the hold that he gained on the favor and
good-will of his fellow-citizens.

He possessed, indeed, in a degree, those tastes which wealth is best
able to gratify, and to the gratification of which it is most essential.
In the very face and eyes of the puritanical opinions and the staid and
ultra-sober habits of New England, he delighted in splendid furniture,
fine clothes, showy equipages, rich wines, good dinners, gay company,
cards, dances, music, and all sorts of festivities. Nothing pleased him
so much as to have his house full of guests to share with him in these
enjoyments, and few were better qualified, by winning manners, graceful
and affable address, a ready wit, a full flow of spirits, and a keen
enjoyment of the whole thing, to act the part of master of the feast.
But while thus luxuriously inclined, he had no disposition for gross
debauch: and the presence of ladies at all his entertainments, while it
seemed to give to them a new zest, banished from his house that riotous
dissipation into which mere male gatherings are so certain to sink; and
which in times past, in New England, made the idea of gross dissipation
almost inseparable from that of social enjoyment, nor even yet is the
distinction between them fully apprehended by every body.

Among other property which Hancock had inherited from his uncle, was a
stone mansion-house, still standing, and now in the very centre of the
city of Boston, but which then was looked upon as quite retired and
almost in the country. This house, which was built about the year that
Hancock was born, fronts eastwardly on Boston Common, since so
elaborately improved and converted into so beautiful a park, with its
gravel walks, trees, and smooth-shaven lawns, but which was then a
_common_ in the old English sense of the word, a common pasture for the
cows of the neighbors, and a training field for the militia, with very
few improvements except a single gravel walk and two or three rows of
trees along Tremont-street. This house was situated a little west of the
central and highest summit of that triple hill, which had early acquired
for the peninsula of Boston the name of Trimountain,--since shortened
into Tremont, and preserved in the name of the street above mentioned,
which central summit was, from an early period, known as Beacon Hill, a
name preserved in that of Beacon-street. This name was derived from the
use to which this highest central summit had been put from a very early
period--materials being always kept in readiness upon the top of it for
kindling a bonfire, as a means of alarming the country round in case of
invasion or other danger. After having been a good deal graded down,
this summit is now occupied as a site for the State House, which, with
its conspicuous dome, crowns and overlooks the whole city.

It was in this mansion-house of his uncle's, which seems as if by a sort
of attraction to have drawn the State House to its side, that Hancock
continued to live except when absent at Philadelphia in attendance on
the Continental Congress; and not content with its original dimensions,
to afford more room for his numerous guests, he built at one end of it a
wooden addition, since removed, containing a dining-room, dancing-hall,
and other like conveniences. It was here Hancock, assisted by his
amiable and accomplished wife, who entered into all his tastes and
feelings, and who contributed her full share to give expression and
realization to them, presided over so many social dinner parties and gay
assemblages, dressed out, both host and guests, in that rich costume
which Copley, who was one of Hancock's near neighbors, loved so well to
paint, and of which his pencil has transmitted to us so vivid an idea.
Nor did he show himself abroad with less display than he exhibited at
home, his custom being to ride on public occasions in a splendid
carriage drawn by six beautiful bays, and attended by several servants
in livery.

While the public attention was thus drawn upon him by a display which at
once attracted and gratified the eyes of the multitude, whose envy at
that time there was less fear than now of exciting, and by a generous
and free hospitality, the more captivating for not being either
indigenous or common, the part which Hancock took in the rising disputes
with the mother country converted him into that popular idol, which he
continued to be for the remainder of his life; and which, to one so
greedy as he was of honor and applause, must have been in the highest
degree gratifying. It is indeed not uncommon to depreciate the public
services of such men as Hancock, by ascribing all to vanity and the love
of distinction; as if without the impulse of these motives any great
efforts would be made to serve the public! Worthy indeed of all honor
are those men in whom these impulses take so honorable a direction; and
happy the nation able to purchase such services at so cheap a rate!

In 1766, two years after his uncle's death, Hancock was chosen, along
with James Otis, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Cushing, one of the four
representatives from Boston to the General Court. The seizure, two years
after, of his sloop Liberty, for alleged violations of the revenue laws,
in evading the payment of duties on a cargo of wine imported from
Madeira, closely and personally identified him with the resistance then
making throughout the colonies to the attempt to collect a revenue in
America by parliamentary authority alone. This seizure led to a riot
which figures in all the histories of that period, by which the
commissioners of the customs were driven from the town, and in
consequence of which two or three British regiments were ordered to
Boston--the first step on the part of the mother country towards a
military enforcement of the authority which she claimed. Hancock felt
personally the consequences of this riot, in a number of libels or
criminal informations filed against him in the Court of Admiralty, to
recover penalties to the amount of three or four hundred thousand
dollars, for violations of the revenue laws. "It seemed," writes John
Adams in his Diary, and he had ample opportunity to know, for he was
retained as Hancock's counsel, "as if the officers of the court were
determined to examine the whole town as witnesses." In hopes to fish out
some evidence against him; they interrogated many of his near relations
and most intimate friends. They even threatened to summon his aged and
venerable aunt: nor did those annoyances cease till the battle of
Lexington, the siege of Boston, and the expulsion of the British from
that town shut up the Admiralty Court, and brought the prosecution, and
British authority along with it, to an end.

At the commencement of the disputes with the mother country, the
sentiment against the right of parliament to impose taxes on the
colonies had seemed to be almost unanimous. The only exceptions were a
few persons holding office under the crown. The rich especially, this
being a question that touched the pocket, were very loud in their
protests against any such exercise of parliamentary authority. But as
the dispute grew more warm and violent, threatening to end in civil
commotions, the rich, not doubting that the mother country would triumph
in the end, and fearing the loss of their entire property in the attempt
to save a part of it, began to draw back; thus making much more
conspicuous than ever the position of Hancock as a leader of the popular
party. Indeed there was hardly a wealthy man in Boston, he and Bowdoin
excepted, both of whom had not accumulated but inherited their property,
who did not end with joining the side of the mother country. And the
same thing may be observed of Massachusetts, and indeed of New England
generally. Of all the larger and better-looking mansion-houses, of
eighty years old and upwards, still standing in the vicinity of Boston,
of which the number is considerable, there are very few that did not
originally belong to some old tory who forfeited his property out of his
very anxiety to preserve it. Hancock's acceptance of the command of the
company of cadets or governor's guard, whence the title of colonel by
which for some time he was known; his acting with that company as an
escort, at the funeral of Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, who was very
obnoxious to the patriots; his refusing to go all lengths with Samuel
Adams in the controversy with Hutchinson as to the governor's right to
call the General Court together, elsewhere than in Boston; and the
circumstance that although he had been several times before negatived as
a member of the council, Hutchinson had at length allowed his name on
the list of counsellors proposed by the General Court; these and perhaps
some other circumstances excited indeed some suspicions that Hancock
also was growing lukewarm to the popular cause. But these he took care
to dissipate by declining to sit as counsellor, by acting as orator at
the Anniversary of the Boston Massacre, and by accepting, not long
after, an appointment as one of the delegates to the Continental
Congress. The oration above alluded to, delivered in March, 1774, and
which Hancock's enemies pretended was written for him by Dr. Cooper, was
pronounced by John Adams, who heard it, "an eloquent, pathetic, and
spirited performance."

"The composition," so he wrote in his diary, "the pronunciation, the
action, all exceeded the expectation of every body. [These last were
certainly not Cooper's.] They exceeded even mine, which were very
considerable. Many of the sentiments came with great propriety from him.
His invective, particularly against a preference of riches to virtue,
came from him with a singular dignity and grace." A passage in this
oration, which was afterwards printed, on the subject of standing
armies, gave great offence to the British officers and soldiers by whom
the town continued to be occupied, and not long after Governor Gage
dismissed Hancock from his command of the company of cadets; whereupon
they disbanded themselves, returning the standard which the governor on
his initiation into office had presented to them.

The sensibilities of the British officers and soldiers being again
excited by some parts of an oration delivered the next year by Dr.
Warren, on the same anniversary, a few weeks before the battle of
Lexington, a military mob beset Hancock's house and began to destroy the
fences and waste the grounds. Gage sent a military guard to put a stop
to their outrages.

But it was no longer safe for Hancock to remain in such close contiguity
to the British troops. He was president of the Provincial Congress of
Massachusetts, which, in consequence of the act of parliament to modify
the charter of that province, had lately assumed to themselves the power
of the purse and the sword. He was also president of the provincial
committee of safety, which, under authority of the Provincial Congress,
had begun in good earnest to prepare for taking arms for the vindication
of those rights which the men of Massachusetts claimed under the now
violated and (so far as parliament had the power) abrogated Charter of
the province. Under these circumstances, Hancock abandoned his house,
which was subsequently occupied by Lord Percy as his headquarters; and
at the time of the march of the British troops for Concord, he was
living at Lexington, in company with Samuel Adams. Indeed it was
supposed that one of the objects of this march was to seize the persons
of those two patriots, to whom Gage seemed to point as the authors of
the collision at Lexington by the issue of a proclamation, in which
pardon was offered to all who, giving over their late traitorous
proceedings, would furnish proof of their repentance and of their
renewed allegiance to their king, by submitting to the authority of his
duly appointed governor, and of the late act of parliament: but from
this pardon John Hancock and Samuel Adams were excepted, their offences
being too flagrant to be passed over without condign punishment.

Before the issue of this proclamation, Hancock had already proceeded to
Philadelphia, where the famous Continental Congress of 1775 was already
in session, composed, to a great extent, of the same members with its
predecessor of the year before, but of which he had been chosen a member
in place of Bowdoin. He was a fluent and agreeable speaker, one of those
who, by grace of manner, seem to add a double force and weight to all
which they say; yet in that illustrious assembly there were quite a
number, including John Adams, from his own State, compared with whom he
could hardly have claimed rank as an orator. There were also in that
assembly several able writers; the state papers emanating from whose
pens were compared by Chatham to the ablest productions of the
republican ages of Greece and Rome; but Hancock was not one of those.
There were men of business there who undertook, without shrinking, all
the Herculean labors of organizing the army and navy, the treasury and
the foreign office of the new confederation--but neither in this line
does Hancock appear to have been greatly distinguished. And yet it was
not long before, by his appointment as president of that body, he rose
to a position in Continental affairs, no less conspicuous than that
which we have seen him exercising in those of his own province.
Circumstances led indeed to this situation, quite apart from Hancock's
personal qualifications, and yet had he not possessed those
qualifications in a high degree, he would never have had the opportunity
of immortalizing himself as he has done by his famous signature at the
head of the Declaration of Independence,--a signature well calculated to
give a strong impression with those who judge of personal character by
handwriting, of the decided temper and whole-hearted energy of the man.
Virginia, as the most populous and wealthy of the colonies, had received
the compliment of furnishing the President of the Congress of 1774; and
Peyton Randolph--a planter and lawyer, an elderly gentleman of the old
school, formerly attorney general of that province, and in Governor
Dinwiddie's time, sent by the Assembly on a special message to England,
to complain of the governor for the fees he exacted on patents of
land--had been first selected for that distinguished station. He had
again been chosen as President of the new Congress; but being also
speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and that body having been
called together by Lord Dunmore, in what proved to be its last meeting,
to consider Lord North's conciliatory propositions, it became necessary
for Randolph to return home. His place in Congress was filled, in
compliance with an arrangement previously made by the House of
Burgesses, by no less distinguished a successor than Thomas Jefferson;
but in filling up the vacant seat of President of Congress, during what
was then regarded as but the temporary absence of Randolph, it was
natural enough to look to Massachusetts, the next province to Virginia
in population and wealth, no ways behind her in zeal for the cause, and,
as the result proved, far her superior in military capabilities. Nor
among the delegates present from Massachusetts, was there any one who
seemed, on the whole, so well fitted for the station, or likely to be at
all so satisfactory to the delegates from the other States, as John
Hancock. Had James Bowdoin been present, he would perhaps have been more
acceptable to the great body of the members than Hancock, as being less
identified than he was with violent measures. But though chosen a
delegate to the first Congress, the sickness of Bowdoin's wife had
prevented his attendance; and the same cause still operating to keep him
at home, John Hancock had been appointed, as we have mentioned, in his
place. Of Hancock's four colleagues, all of whom were older men than
himself, Samuel Adams certainly, if not John Adams also, might have
disputed with him the palm of zeal and activity in the revolutionary
cause; but not one of them risked so much as he did, at least in the
judgment of his fellow-members from the middle and southern provinces,
who were generally men of property. He alone, of all the New England
delegates, had a fortune to lose; and while his wealthy southern
colleagues looked with some distrust upon the Adamses, regarding them
perhaps a little in the light, if we may be pardoned so coarse an
illustration, of the monkey in the fable, who wished to rake his
chestnuts out of the fire at the risk and expense of other people's
fingers, no such idea could attach to Hancock, who, in point of fortune,
had probably as much to lose as any other member, except perhaps John
Dickinson--for the wealthy Charles Carrol, of Maryland, had not a seat
in the Congress. At the same time Hancock's genial manners and social
spirit, seemed to the members from the southern and middle provinces to
make him quite one of themselves, an associate in pleasure and social
intercourse, as well as in business; while the austere spirit and
laborious industry of the Adamses threatened to inflict upon them the
double hardship of all work and no play. But while the moderate members
found, as they supposed, in the fortune which Hancock had at stake a
pledge that he would not hurry matters to any violent extremes; the few
also most disposed to press matters to a final breach, were well
satisfied to have as president, one who had shown himself in his own
province so energetic, prompt, decisive, and thorough.

Yet Hancock's colleagues, and the members generally from New England,
never entirely forgave the preference which had been thus early shown to
him; and upon many of the sectional questions and interests which soon
sprung up, and by which the Continental Congress was at times so
seriously belittled and so greatly distracted, Hancock was often accused
of deserting the interests of New England, and of going with the
southern party. The internal and secret history of the Continental
Congress or rather of the temporary and personal motives by which the
conduct of its members, as to a variety of details, was influenced,
remains so much in obscurity that it is not easy to ascertain the
precise foundation of those charges, reiterated as they are in letters
and other memoirs of those times; but on the whole, no reason appears to
regard them otherwise than as the natural ebullition of disappointed
partisanship against a man, who, in the struggle of contending factions
and local interests, strove to hold the balance even, and who did not
believe, with Samuel Adams and some others, that political wisdom was
limited to New England alone.

The President of Congress, in those times, was regarded as the personal
representative of that body and of the sovereignty of the Union; and in
that respect filled, to a certain degree, in the eye of the nation and
of the world, the place now occupied by the President of the United
States, though sharing, in no degree, the vast patronage and substantial
power attached to the latter office. In his capacity of personal
representative of the nation the President of Congress kept open house
and a well-spread table, to which members of Congress, officers of the
army, attachés of the diplomatic corps foreign and domestic,
distinguished strangers, every body in fact who thought themselves to be
any body--a pretty large class, at least in America--expected
invitations; whereby was imposed upon that officer pretty laborious
social duties, in addition to his public and political ones, which were
by no means trifling. All these duties of both classes, Hancock
continued to discharge with great assiduity and to general satisfaction,
for upwards of two years and a half, through a period at which the power
and respectability of the Continental Congress was at its greatest
height, before the downfall of the paper money and the total exhaustion
of the credit of the nation at home and abroad had reduced the
representative of the sovereignty of the nation to a pitiful dependence
on the bounty of France, and upon requisitions on the States, to which
very little attention was paid. Feeling all the dignity of his position,
Hancock took one of the largest houses in Philadelphia, where he lived
in profuse hospitality, and all upon advances made out of his own
pocket. After his day, it became necessary for Congress to allow their
president a certain annual stipend out of the public treasury to support
the expenses of his household. In Hancock's time, this was not thought
of; and it was not till near the close of the war, after the precedent
had been established in the case of his successors, that he put in any
claim for the reimbursement of his expenses.

There is a story, that Hancock, when chosen President of Congress,
blushed and modestly hung back, and was drawn into the chair only by the
exertion of some gentle force on the part of the brawny Harrison, a
member from Virginia, and afterwards governor of that State. And yet,
according to John Adams, Hancock was hardly warm in his seat when he
aspired to a much more distinguished position. He expected to have been
appointed Commander-in-Chief of the American armies, and displayed in
his countenance, so Adams says in his Diary, the greatest vexation and
disappointment when Washington was named for that station. It is certain
that he had some military aspirations, for he wrote to Washington
shortly after his assumption of command, requesting that some place in
the army might be kept for him, to which Washington replied with
compliments at his zeal, but with apprehension that he had no place at
his disposal worthy of Colonel Hancock's acceptance. Not long after his
return to Boston, his military ardor revived. He procured himself to be
chosen a major-general of the Massachusetts militia, and he marched the
next summer (1778) at the head of his division to join the expedition
against Newport, in which the French fleet and troops just arrived under
D'Estaing, a detachment from Washington's army under Sullivan, Greene,
and La Fayette, and the militia from the neighboring States were to
co-operate. But D'Estaing suffered himself to be drawn out to sea by the
English fleet, which had appeared off Newport for that express purpose,
and after a slight running engagement, the fleet, while struggling for
the weather gauge, were separated by a violent storm, in which some of
D'Estaing's ships were dismasted and others greatly damaged, so that he
judged it necessary to put into Boston to refit. The American army
meanwhile had crossed to Rhode Island, and established itself before
Newport, but as Count D'Estaing could not be persuaded to return, it
became necessary to abandon the island, not without a battle to cover
the retreat. With this expedition, Hancock's military career seems to
have terminated; but on arriving at Boston, he found ample work on hand
better adapted perhaps to his talents than the business of active
warfare. Sullivan, of a hot and impetuous temper, and excessively vexed
at D'Estaing's conduct, was even imprudent enough to give expression to
his feelings in general orders. It was like touching a spark to tinder,
and the American army before New-York, which shared the general's
feelings, encouraged by his example, "broke out," so Greene wrote to
Washington, "in clamorous strains." The same disappointment was bitterly
felt also at Boston; for the British occupation of Newport had long been
an eyesore to New England, occasioning great expense in keeping up
militia to watch the enemy there, and in projects for their expulsion;
and the prevailing dissatisfaction at the conduct of the French admiral
soon found expression in a serious riot between the populace of the town
and the sailors of the French fleet, threatening to revive all those
violent prejudices against the French, fostered in the colonies for near
a hundred years, and which the recent alliance with France had glossed
over indeed, but had not wholly subdued. Upon this occasion, Hancock
exerted himself with zeal and success to prevent this ill-temper, which
had broken out between the classes least accustomed to restrain their
feelings or the expression of them, from spreading any higher. He opened
his house to the French officers, who, delighted at the opportunity of
social enjoyment and female society, kept it full from morning till
night, and by his "unwearied pains," so La Fayette wrote to Washington,
did much to heal the breach which Sullivan's imprudence had so
dangerously aggravated. On this occasion, at least, if on no other,
Hancock's love of gayety, and of social pleasures, proved very
serviceable to his country.

During his absence at Philadelphia, his popularity at home had undergone
no diminution, and he soon resumed, as a member of the council, on which
since the breach with Gage the executive administration had devolved, a
leading influence in the State administration; and when at last, after
two trials, a constitution was sanctioned by the people, he was chosen
by general consent the first governor under it. This was a station of
vastly more consideration then than now. Under the old confederation, at
least after the Continental Congress, by the exhaustion of its credit
and the repudiation of its bills, had no longer money at command, the
States were sovereign in fact as well as in words; while all that
reverence which under the old system had attached to the royal
governors, had been transferred to their first republican successors.
Since that period the State governments have sunk into mere
municipalities for the administration of local affairs, and all eyes
being constantly turned towards Washington, the executive offices of the
States, even the station of governor, are no longer regarded except as
stepping-stones to something higher.

Hancock discharged his office as governor to good acceptance for five
years, when he voluntarily retired, making way for James Bowdoin, who
might be regarded in some respects as his rival, the head of a party,
perhaps more intelligent, and certainly far more select, than that great
body of the population by whom Hancock was supported; but whom, so at
least his opponents said, he rather studied to follow than aspired to
lead. During Bowdoin's administration, occurred Shays' insurrection, one
of the most interesting and instructive incidents in the history of
Massachusetts, but into the particulars of which we have not space here
to enter. This insurrection, of which the great object was the
cancelling of debts, an object which the States now practically
accomplish by means of insolvent laws, was thought to involve, either as
participators more or less active, or at least as favorers and
sympathizers, not less than a third part of the population of the State.
The active measures taken at Bowdoin's suggestion for putting down the
insurgents by an armed force, and the political disabilities and other
punishments inflicted upon them after their defeat, did not at all tend
to increase Bowdoin's popularity with this large portion of the people.
Though Hancock's health had not allowed him to take his seat in the
Continental Congress, to which he had again been chosen a delegate, and
by which he had, in his absence, been again selected as their
president--yet, weary of retirement, he suffered himself to be brought
forward as a candidate, and to be elected as governor over Bowdoin's
head--a procedure never forgiven by what may be called the party of
property, against which the insurrection of Shays had been aimed, whose
members thenceforth did not cease, in private at least, to stigmatize
Hancock as a mere demagogue, if not indeed almost a Shaysite himself.
Nor indeed is it impossible, that the governor, with all his property,
had some personal sympathies with that party. He, like them, was
harassed with debts, which, as we have seen in the case of the college,
he was not much inclined, and probably not very able, to bring to a
settlement. He still had large possessions in lands and houses in
Boston, but at this moment his property was unsalable, and to a
considerable extent unproductive; and a stop law might have suited his
convenience not less than that of the embarrassed farmers in the
interior, who had assembled under the leadership of Shays to shut up the
courts and put a stop to suits. This scheme, however, had been
effectually put down prior to Hancock's accession to office, and it only
remained for him to moderate, by executive clemency, the penalties
inflicted on the suppressed insurgents--a policy which the state of the
times and the circumstances of the case very loudly demanded, however
little it might be to the taste of the more imperious leaders of the
party by which those penalties had been inflicted. But even this same
party might acknowledge a great obligation to Hancock for the assistance
which they soon after obtained from him in securing the ratification by
Massachusetts of that federal constitution under which we now so happily
live. Still governor of the State, he was chosen a delegate from Boston
to the State convention, called to consider the proposed constitution:
and though incapacitated by sickness from taking his seat till near the
close of the session, he was named its president. The federal
constitution had been already ratified by five States, Delaware,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut. But Virginia, New
York, and North Carolina, were known to be strongly against it, and its
rejection by Massachusetts would, in all probability, prevent its
acceptance by the number of States required to give it effect. The
convention was very equally divided, and the result hung long in doubt.
At last Hancock came upon the floor and proposed some amendments,
principally in the nature of a bill of rights, agreed to probably by
concert out of doors, to be suggested for the approval of Congress and
adoption by the States under the provision for amendments contained in
the constitution, and most of which were afterwards adopted. Thus
sweetened, the constitution was fairly forced down the reluctant throat
of the convention; and unlike the typical book of St. John, though so
bitter in the mouth, it has fortunately proved sweet enough and very
nourishing in the digestion.

On the occasion of Washington's visit to Boston, subsequently to his
inauguration as President, a curious struggle took place between him and
Hancock, or perhaps we ought rather to say, between the Governor of
Massachusetts and the President of the United States, on a question of
etiquette. Hancock, as Governor of Massachusetts, insisted upon the
first call, a precedence which Washington, as President of the United
States, refused to yield. Finding himself obliged to succumb, Hancock's
gout and other complicated diseases served him for once in good stead;
for in the note which he finally sent, announcing his intention to wait
upon Washington, they answered as a convenient excuse for not having
fulfilled that duty before.

Some two or three years after, we find Governor Hancock, out of
deference to the puritanical opinions and laws of the State, involved in
another noticeable controversy, but one into which he could not have
entered with any great heart. Shortly after the adoption of the federal
constitution, a company of stage-players had made their appearance in
Boston, and though the laws still prohibited theatrical exhibitions,
encouraged by the countenance of the gayer part of the population, they
commenced the performance of plays, which they advertised in the
newspapers as "Moral Lectures." Some of their friends among the
townsfolks had even built a temporary theatre for their accommodation, a
trampling under foot of the laws, which seemed the more reprehensible as
the legislature, though applied to for that purpose, had twice refused
to repeal that prohibitory statute. "To the legislature which met
shortly after," we quote from the fourth volume of Hildreth's History of
the United States, "Governor Hancock gave information that 'a number of
aliens and foreigners had entered the State, and in the metropolis of
the government, under advertisements insulting to the habits and
education of the citizens, had been pleased to invite them to, and to
exhibit before such as attended, stage-plays, interludes, and theatrical
entertainments, under the style and appellation of Moral Lectures.' All
which, as he complained, had been suffered to go on without any steps
taken to punish a most open breach of the laws, and a most contemptuous
insult to the powers of government. Shortly after this denunciation by
the governor, suddenly one night, in the midst of the performance of
'The School for Scandal,' the sheriff of the county appeared on the
stage, arrested the actors, and broke up the performances. When the
examination came on, having procured able counsel (one of whom, if we
mistake not, was the then young Harrison Gray Otis), the actors were
discharged on the ground that the arrest was illegal, the warrant not
having been sworn to. This error was soon corrected, and a second arrest
brought the performances to a close. But the legislature, finding that
the sentiment of the town of Boston was strong against the law, and that
a new and permanent theatre was in the course of erection, repealed the
prohibitory act a few months after."

This temporary triumph over the poor players was one of the last of
Hancock's long series of successes; unless indeed we ought to assign
that station to the agency which he had in procuring the erasure from
the federal constitution of a very equitable and necessary provision,
authorizing suits in the federal courts against the States by
individuals having claims upon them. At such a suit, brought against the
State of Massachusetts, Hancock exhibited a vast deal of indignation,
calling the legislature together at a very inconvenient season of the
year, and refusing to pay the least attention to the process served upon
him. Yet the Supreme Court of the United States, not long after, decided
that such suits would lie, as indeed was sufficiently plain from the
letter of the constitution. But the sovereign States, with all the
insolence customary to sovereigns, whether one-headed or many-headed,
scorned to be compelled to do justice; and the general clamor raised
against this reasonable and even necessary provision, caused it to be
ultimately struck from the constitution.

Before this was accomplished, Hancock's career of life was over. Worn
down by the gout and other aristocratic diseases, which the progress of
democracy seems, since his time, to have almost banished from America,
he expired at the early age of fifty-six, in the same house in which he
had presided over so many social and political festivities, lamented by
almost the entire population of the State in whose service he had spent
the best part of his life, and whose faithful attachment to him, spite
of some obvious weaknesses on his part, had yet never flagged.

Had we space and inclination, many lessons might be drawn from the
history of his life. We shall confine ourselves to this one, which every
body's daily experience may confirm: that success in active life,
whether political or private, even the attainment of the very highest
positions, depends far less on any extraordinary endowments, either of
nature or fortune, than upon an active, vigorous, and indefatigable
putting to use of such gifts as a man happens to have. What a
difference, so far as name and fame are concerned, and we may add, too,
enjoyment and a good conscience, between the man who puts his talent to
use and him who hoards it up, so that even its very existence remains
unknown to every body but himself and his intimate friends.

=John Adams.=

[Illustration: John Adams fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Residence of the Adams Family, Quincy, Mass.]


"Oh that I could have a home! But this felicity has never been permitted
me. Rolling, rolling, rolling, till I am very near rolling into the
bosom of mother earth."

Thus wrote the venerable John Adams to his wife, in the sixty-fifth year
of his age, and the last of his Presidency. A few years previous he had
uttered the same sigh, nor is it infrequent in his letters. "I am weary,
worn, and disgusted to death. I had rather chop wood, dig ditches, and
make fence upon my poor little farm. Alas, poor farm! and poorer family!
what have you lost that your country might be free! and that others
might catch fish and hunt deer and bears at their ease!"

This was written in the days when there was such a thing as genuine
patriotism; when, as in the noble Greek and Roman years, there lived
among us also noble men, who freely surrendered all that life offered
them of sweet and splendid, to work for their fellows, and to exalt
their country's state, content that old age should find them poor in
fortune and broken in health, so only that integrity remained, and a
serene conscience led them undisturbed to the end of life.

Among these former glories of our Republic, the name of John Adams
stands in the clearest sunlight of fame. No purer patriot ever lived.
The names which dazzle us in history become no fables when read by his
light; Plutarch tells no nobler story, records no greater claims; Athens
and Sparta smile upon him from their starry places, and Rome holds out
her great hand of fellowship to him--for there is no virtue which has
lived that may not live again, and our own day shows that there has
never been a political corruption so base as to despair of being

Concerning the civil life of such a man, much might with ease be
written. The head and front of every great political movement of his
country, from his thirtieth year to the day of his death he lived no
obscure life, and was missed from no contest. "The great pillar of
support to the Declaration of Independence," as Jefferson called him,
its fearless and eloquent defender, the right hand of his country's
diplomacy, and the strength of her treaties, he is a portion of her
history and his acts are her annals. But this devotion to the great
political struggles of his time was not consistent with home delights.
These he was to scorn and to live laborious days. Early immersed in the
stirring events of his day, he surrendered to the duty of serving, all
private claims; he gave up his profession, he separated himself from his
wife and children to go wherever he could be useful; he abandoned a mode
of life most dear to him; and leaving his little Sabine farm and his
friendly books, with no hopes of personal aggrandizement, and small,
unjoyous prospect of success in the venture he was aiding, went out to
fight. His first act of importance, a worthy beginning to such career,
was his defence of Preston, in the famous trial for the murder of
certain citizens of Boston by British soldiers, in 1770. Preston was the
captain of the British troops stationed in Boston, and under government
orders. As may easily be imagined, in the uneasy state of public
feeling, exasperated by real injuries and petty tyrannies, suspicious,
discontented and spurred on by men who circulated a thousand injurious
reports, the people and the foreign soldiery were ready at any moment to
break out into open quarrel. Finally, this did indeed happen. The
soldiery, provoked beyond endurance, resisted the assaults of the
people, and fired upon them. Captain Preston was arrested and
imprisoned; five citizens had been killed and many wounded, and it was
with difficulty that the people were restrained from rising into furious
rebellion. Preston was taken to prison to await his trial, but it was
for a time impossible to obtain counsel, so great was the hatred of the
people to the soldiery, and so strong the feeling that no man would be
safe from violence who would attempt to defend these foreigners for the
murder of his own fellow-citizens. John Adams--then a rising lawyer in
Boston, and a man who had already given hints of coming greatness--was
sent for by the unfortunate captain, who begged him to undertake his
cause. "I had no hesitation in answering," says Adams in his
autobiography, "that counsel ought to be the very last thing that an
accused person should want in a free country; that the bar ought, in my
opinion, to be independent and impartial at all times, and in every
circumstance, and that persons whose lives were at stake ought to have
the counsel they preferred. But he must be sensible this would be as
important a cause as was ever tried in any court or country in the
world; and that every lawyer must hold himself responsible, not only to
his country, but to the highest and most infallible of all tribunals,
for the part he should act. He must therefore expect from me no art or
address, no sophistry or prevarication in such a cause, nor anything
more than fact, evidence, and law would justify." And a little after he
tells us what it cost him to act up to his own standard of duty. "At
this time I had more business at the bar than any man in the province.
My health was feeble. I was throwing away as bright prospects as any man
ever had before him, and I had devoted myself to endless labor and
anxiety, if not to infamy and to death, and that for nothing, except
what was and ought to be all in all, a sense of duty. In the evening, I
expressed to Mrs. Adams all my apprehensions. That excellent lady, who
has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of tears, but said she was
very sensible of all the danger to her and to our children, as well as
to me, but she thought I had done as I ought; she was very willing to
share in all that was to come, and to place her trust in Providence."

Such were the politicians of that day; and though we do not doubt that
private virtue as much abounds with us as with them, and that as great
private sacrifices as this was public can be instanced in these later
times, yet no one will be so hardy as to say that any politician of this
day would brave such hazards or so daringly face peril. Politics are
become a trade with us. The curse of popular governments is this, that
they make office desirable in proportion to the ease with which it is
attained, and that seeking place becomes in time as legitimate a
profession as seeking oysters. No one will so mock at common sense, or
hold the judgments of his fellow spectators in such light esteem, as to
aver that any one of our public men serves his country for his country's
sake, or for any better reason than because it is conducive to bread and
butter. Hence it is with us a jeer and a by-word to talk about
patriotism. The fact seems to be, that our material prosperity is so
great, our resources so boundless, our outlook so glorious, our liberty
so well assured--or at least the liberty of those among us who are
white--that there is no call for sacrifice and patriotic service. The
country is rich and can well afford, if she will be served, to pay the
servant; but we speak of devotion to principle, which we believe is
clean gone out from us, and can be predicated of no public man.

John Adams, son of John Adams and Susannah Boylston Adams, was born at
Quincy, Massachusetts, on the 19th day of October, 1735. He received the
best education that the times afforded, graduated at Harvard College,
and afterward commenced the study of divinity with a view to the
ministry; at the same time he was occupied in teaching school, that
universal stepping-stone in New England to professional life. Indeed,
there was then hardly more than there is now any such thing as a
schoolmaster by profession; and without doubt a sufficing reason for the
fact that our young men are so inefficiently educated, is, that the
teachers are in nine cases out of ten only one lesson in advance of
their scholars. In those days, however, the schoolmaster was apt to be a
person of some consequence. He held a position very often next in
importance to that of the parson, and ruled an autocrat over his little
flock of beardless citizens. Nowhere has he been better described than
in "Margaret," in the character of Master Elliman, whose mingled
pompousness, verbiage, and pedantry, admirably represent the class to
which he belonged. But the character gradually lost its individuality as
society advanced, until at length the great bulk of teachers, except in
the colleges, were merely young men preparing for the learned

The injurious effect of this state of things, which has made a very
decided mark upon our national character, we will not discuss here, but
it is well to note the differences between the manners of the colonial
times, and those of our present day--and of these differences none is so
striking as the great decrease of respect in which professional men are
held with us compared with that which was yielded to them by our
forefathers. With them the schoolmaster, the parson, the physician, the
lawyer, were considered and treated as a sort of sacred nobility, apart
from the vulgar, and wholly refusing admixture with them; they were
placed in the seats of honor, and counted among counsellors; their
company was sought by the wealthy and the educated, their acts were
chronicled, and their words were echoed from mouth to mouth. In the
streets, when the schoolmaster or minister appeared, the children at
play drew up into a hurried line, took off their caps, made deferential
bows and listened with humility to the greeting or word of advice.
Nowadays, the Pope himself would be hustled in an omnibus, and if Master
Elliman were to appear in the streets and offer advice to the children,
ten to one but that they would throw dirt at him. It was in the twilight
which followed the departing day of these venerable times and preceded
the coming on of these degenerate darker hours, that John Adams became a
pedagogue. He was hardly at that age fit to be a teacher. He was
thoughtful, ambitious and lofty in his aims, but he was also somewhat
indolent and wanted persistency. It is true that his mind was hardly
made up as to what he should do for a living. We have said that he began
with studying for the ministry, but he tells us that he at one time read
much in medical books, and inclined to the study of physic.[2]

Yet I imagine that his inclination to either of these professions was
never very strong. His education at Cambridge, then the high seat of
orthodoxy, and perhaps the advice of his parents, his father holding an
office in the church government of his town of some importance at that
day, may have led his mind in the direction of the ministry, and his
studies in that line were very regular and persistent for some time.
Surgery and medicine had probably merely the fleeting fascination for
him which they have for multitudes of eager young men, striving to pry
into all the subtile secrets of nature, and to find out all the
mysteries which environ us. But as he says of himself, "the law drew me
more and more," and in his Diary under the date of Sunday, 22d of
August, 1756, we have the following entry:--

"Yesterday I completed a contract with Mr. Putnam to study the law,
under his inspection, for two years. I ought to begin with a resolution
to oblige and please him and his lady in a particular manner; I ought to
endeavor to please every body, but them in particular. Necessity drove
me to this determination, but my inclination, I think, was to preach;
however, that would not do. But I set out with firm resolutions, I
think, never to commit any meanness or injustice in the practice of law.
The study and practice of law, I am sure, does not dissolve the
obligations of morality or of religion; and, although the reason of my
quitting divinity was my opinion concerning some disputed points, I hope
I shall not give reason of offence, to any in that profession, by
imprudent warmth."

He now gave up his school, and somewhat changed his manner of life.
Before we leave him let us hear his quaint description of the schoolboys
of his day--not very different from the youngsters of 1853.

"15. Monday (1756).--I sometimes in my sprightly moments consider myself
in my great chair at school, as some dictator at the head of a
commonwealth. In this little state I can discover all the great
geniuses, all the surprising actions and revolutions of the great world,
in miniature. I have several renowned generals not three feet high, and
several deep projecting politicians in petticoats. I have others
catching and dissecting flies, accumulating remarkable pebbles,
cockle-shells, &c., with as ardent curiosity as any virtuoso in the
Royal Society. Some rattle and thunder out A, B, C, with as much fire
and impetuosity as Alexander fought, and very often sit down and cry as
heartily upon being outspelt as Cæsar did, when at Alexander's sepulchre
he recollected that the Macedonian hero had conquered the world before
his age. At one table sits Mr. Insipid, foppling and fluttering,
spinning his whirligig, or playing with his fingers, as gayly and
wittily as any Frenchified coxcomb brandishes his cane or rattles his
snuff-box. At another, sits the polemical divine, plodding and wrangling
in his mind about "Adam's fall, in which we sinned all," as his Primer
has it. In short, my little school, like the great world, is made up of
kings, politicians, divines, L.L.D.'s, fops, buffoons, fiddlers,
sycophants, fools, coxcombs, chimney-sweepers, and every other character
drawn in history, or seen in the world. Is it not, then, the highest
pleasure, my friend, to preside in this little world, to bestow the
proper applause upon virtuous and generous actions, to blame and punish
every vicious and contracted trick, to wear out of the tender mind every
thing that is mean and little, and fire the new-born soul with a noble
ardor and emulation? The world affords us no greater pleasure. Let
others waste their bloom of life at the card or billiard-table among
rakes or fools, and when their minds are sufficiently fretted with
losses, and inflamed by wine, ramble through the streets, assaulting
innocent people, breaking windows, or debauching young girls. I envy not
their exalted happiness. I had rather sit in school and consider which
of my pupils will turn out in his future life a hero, and which a rake,
which a philosopher, and which a parasite, than change breasts with
them; though possessed of twenty laced waistcoats and a thousand pounds
a year.[3]"

One of the most interesting features of the early part of the "Diary"
from which these extracts have been taken, is the perfect simplicity and
truthfulness with which the writer details his efforts to attain
steadfastness of purpose and diligence in study. He feels in moments of
reflection the value of his time and the sacredness of duty; he makes
the best resolutions, and concocts the wisest plans for improvement and
the most liberal schemes of study; but his animal spirits, which flowed
on in cheerfulness, even to his latest day of life, his social nature,
and his admiration for women, all played sad pranks with his resolves,
and drew out from him many a repentant sigh over lost and wasted time.
Yet this trouble ceases almost as soon as he begins to study law and
gives up his uncertain dallyings with schoolkeeping, divinity, and
medicine. Having once put his shoulder to the wheel, he worked with
vigor, and began to show what greatness of character there was in him.
Let it not be understood from what we have said, that John Adams was
ever a seeker after low or vulgar pleasures. More than once in his
"Diary" he ridicules the foolish, extravagant, licentious amusements of
the young men of his time. Card-playing, drinking, backgammon, smoking,
and swearing, he says are the fashionable means of getting rid of time,
which excited in his mind only contempt. "I know not," he says, "how any
young fellow can study in this town. What pleasure can a young gentleman
who is capable of thinking, take in playing cards? It gratifies none of
the senses, neither sight, hearing, taste, smelling, nor feeling; it can
entertain the mind only by hushing its clamors. Cards, backgammon, &c.,
are the great antidotes to reflection, to thinking, that cruel tyrant
within us! What learning or sense are we to expect from young gentlemen
in whom a fondness for cards, &c., outgrows and chokes the desire of

Up to the time of his commencing the study of law with Mr. Putnam, John
Adams had resided in Braintree, sharing in the social intercourses of
the place, its tea-parties, clubs of young men, visiting and receiving
visitors, and all the common civilities of country life. On one
occasion, we find him taking tea and spending the evening at Mr.
Putnam's, in conversation about Christianity. This was at the time when
Adams was studying divinity, and it is evident that he discussed
religion and theological subjects with a good deal of interest, since we
find that the talk at almost all these meetings turns in that direction.
There seems to have been a decided leaning towards speculation and doubt
in the minds of many men, on the subject of Christianity, at that day,
and we frequently find their opinion very frankly expressed in the
"Diary," and left almost without comment by the recorder. He was very
fond of chatting with his neighbors over a social cup of tea, sometimes
after a day spent in hard study, at other times resting from the
fatigues of attending to little affairs about the farm, loading and
unloading carts, splitting wood, and doing other chores. He is apt to be
a little impatient with himself. He finds it easier to say before going
to bed that he will rise at six than to get up when the hour arrives.
Several days in the "Diary" bear for sole record--"Dreamed away this
day," and once when several had slipped by without any seeming good
result, he writes--"Thursday, Friday. I know not what became of these
days;" and again--"Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. All spent in
absolute idleness, or which is worse, gallanting the girls." The next
day--"Tuesday. _Sat down and recollected my self_, and read a little in
Van Muyden, a little in Naval Trade and Commerce."

And so the good seems always leading him on, always eluding him, and
playing sad momentary havoc with his peace of mind. But he consents to
no doubtful terms with the enemy. He determined to conquer the foes of
sloth, inattention, social indulgence, and do his whole duty. With the
responsibilities of time came the cure for youthful follies, and his
marriage in the thirtieth year of his age, dealt the last fatal blow to
all his enemies. In 1764 he thus writes:--

"Here it may be proper to recollect something which makes an article of
great importance in the life of every man. I was of an amorous
disposition, and, very early, from ten or eleven years of age, was very
fond of the society of females. I had my favorites among the young
women, and spent many of my evenings in their company; and this
disposition, although controlled for seven years after my entrance into
college, returned, and engaged me too much till I was married.

"I shall draw no characters, nor give any enumeration of my youthful
flames. It would be considered as no compliment to the dead or the
living. This I will say:--they were all modest and virtuous girls, and
always maintained their character through life. No virgin or matron ever
had cause to blush at the sight of me, or to regret her acquaintance
with me. No father, brother, son, or friend, ever had cause of grief or
resentment for any intercourse between me and any daughter, sister,
mother, or any relation of the female sex. These reflections, to me
consolatory beyond all expression, I am able to make with truth and
sincerity; and I presume I am indebted for this blessing to my

       *       *       *       *       *

"I passed the summer of 1764 in attending courts and pursuing my
studies, with some amusement on my little farm, to which I was
frequently making additions, until the fall, when, on the 25th of
October, I was married to Miss Smith, second daughter of the Rev.
William Smith, minister of Weymouth, granddaughter of the Hon. John
Quincy, of Braintree, a connection which has been the source of all my
felicity, although a sense of duty, which forced me away from her and my
children for so many years, produced all the griefs of my heart and all
that I esteem real afflictions in life."[4]

In 1758, his term of study with Mr. Putnam being expired, John Adams
left Worcester, having determined for several reasons not to settle
there, but to establish himself, if possible, in Braintree, where his
father and mother resided. They had invited him to live with them, and
he says that as there had never been a lawyer in any country part of the
county of Suffolk, he was determined to try his fortune there. His
acquaintances told him that "the town of Boston was full of lawyers,
many of them of established characters for long experience, great
abilities, and extensive fame, who might be jealous of _such a novelty
as a lawyer_ in the country part of their county, and might be induced
to obstruct me. I returned, that I was not wholly unknown to some of the
most celebrated of those gentlemen; that I believed they had too much
candor and generosity to injure a young man; and, at all events, I could
try the experiment, and if I should find no hope of success, I should
then think of some other place or some other course." The result was
that he established himself in Braintree, living at his father's house,
and continuing his studies patiently and perseveringly until clients
began to appear. He gives an amusing account of his first "_writ_," and
chronicles its failure with a nonchalant stoicism which can hardly
conceal his vexation at being laughed at by his acquaintances among the
young lawyers of the town. His residence in Braintree seems to have been
a pleasant one. He had much leisure for study and reading, and made good
use of his time. He was acquainted with all the people of consequence in
the town, and was, as we have said, fond of visiting, calling in to take
a social pipe or glass, as was the fashion of the day, to chat with the
wife or daughter of the house, to discuss with the head of the family
the last political bubble of the hour, the prospect of the crops, the
expediency of this or that proceeding in the village, or any of the
local topics of the day. Sometimes we find him with a knot of young
fellows met together of an evening, discussing with one or two some
question in morals or rhetoric, or sitting abstracted with a book or his
pipe on one side the chimney, the room filled with smoke, the rest of
the party engaged in card-playing, backgammon, or other sedative game.
At another time, though somewhat later, he speaks of hearing "the ladies
talk about ribbon, catgut, and Paris net, riding-hoods, cloth, silk, and
lace;" and again he has a pleasant picture of taking tea at his
grandfather Quincy's--"the old gentleman inquisitive about the hearing
before the governor and council, about the governor's and secretary's
looks and behavior, and about the final determination of the board. The
old lady as merry and chatty as ever, _with her stories out of the
newspapers_." He had through life a serene equable mind, he took the
kindness and unkindness of fortune with even looks, and preserved his
relish for a joke undiminished, in all his circumstances. We have before
us two portraits of John Adams painted, the one when about forty years
of age, the other when he was ninety. The younger likeness is a face of
remarkable beauty, the forehead broad, serene, and intelligent, the
eyebrows dark and elegantly arched over a pair of eyes which we make no
doubt did fierce execution among the young women of the period who came
under their sparkling influence. The lips full, finely curved, and
giving an expression of great sweetness to the face, are yet firmly set,
and combine with the attitude of the head to convey an impression of
haughtiness and dignity. The chin is full, rounded, and inclined to be
double; the powdered hair and the stiff coat take away from the youthful
appearance of the picture.[5] The other portrait is from an original by
Gilbert Stuart, and was painted when John Adams was in his ninetieth
year. At this time he was obliged to be fed from a spoon; yet no one,
looking at this noble, vigorous head, with its fine color and
magnificent forehead, would suppose his age so great. The beauty of the
young man has grown into the fuller nobility of a face in which there
appears no trace of any evil passion, no mark of any uneasy thought, but
an undisturbed serenity that looks back on life and awaits death with
the happiest memories and the gladdest anticipations.

In 1768, Mr. Adams, by the advice of his friends, who were urgent with
him, removed to Boston, and took the house in Brattle Square called the
White House. His son, John Quincy Adams, was born the year before--his
life commenced with the most stirring period of his country's history,
and it was his good fortune to bring down to our times so clear a memory
of those events as to make a conversation with him on the subject an era
in the life of an American. Shortly after the removal of John Adams to
Boston, he was requested to accept an office under government; but
although it was offered to him without respect to his opinions, which
were well known to be hostile to the British rule in Massachusetts, and
although the office was very lucrative, yet he insisted on refusing it,
because he feared that he should sacrifice his independence in some
manner to the influences of the position. He therefore declined any
connection with the government, and continued the practice of the law,
which had now become the source of a very handsome income, and was
leading him by rapid steps into a very wide and honorable repute.

Before leaving Braintree, John Adams had become accustomed to a great
deal of exercise, riding horseback to Boston, Germantown, Weymouth, and
other adjoining towns; cutting down trees, superintending planting and
harvesting, and every way taking a good share of the work on his farm.
Some of the pleasantest portions of the "Diary" are those in which he
describes this part of his life. The following extract gives a moral
picture of his habits:--

"October, 22. Friday. Spent last Monday in taking pleasure with Mr.
Wibird. * * * * * * * *

Upon this part of the peninsula is a number of trees, which appear very
much like the lime tree[6] of Europe, which gentlemen are so fond of
planting in their gardens for their beauty. Returned to Mr.
Borland's,[7] dined, and afternoon rode to Germantown, where we spent
our evening. Deacon Palmer showed us his lucerne growing in his garden,
of which he has cut, as he tells us, four crops this year. The Deacon
had his lucerne seeds of Mr. Greenleaf, of Abington, who had his of
Judge Oliver. The Deacon watered his but twice this summer, and intends
to expose it uncovered to all the weather of the winter for a fair
trial, whether it will endure our winters or not. Each of his four crops
had attained a good length. It has a rich fragrance for a grass. He
showed us a cut of it in 'Nature Displayed,' and another of St. Foin,
and another of trefoil. The cut of the lucerne was exact enough; the pod
in which the seeds are is an odd thing, a kind of ram's-horn or straw.

"We had a good deal of conversation upon husbandry. The Deacon has about
seventy bushels of potatoes this year on about one quarter of an acre of
ground. Trees of several sorts considered. The wild cherry-tree bears a
fruit of some value; the wood is very good for the cabinet-maker, and is
not bad to burn. It is a tree of much beauty; its leaves and bark are
handsome, and its shape. The locust; good timber, fattening to soil by
its leaves, blossoms, &c.; good wood, quick growth, &c. The larch-tree;
there is but one[8] in the country, that in the lieutenant-governor's
yard at Milton; it looks somewhat like an evergreen, but is not; sheds
its leaves.

"I read in Thompson's Travels in Turkey in Asia, mention of a turpentine
called by the name of turpentine of Venice, which is not the product of
Venice, but of Dauphinè, and flows from the larch tree. It is thick and
balsamic, and used in several arts, particularly that of enamelling.

"24. Sunday. Before sunrise.--My thoughts have taken a sudden turn to
husbandry. Have contracted with Jo. Field to clear my swamp, and to
build me a long string of stone wall, and with Isaac to build me sixteen
rods more, and with Jo. Field to build me six rods more. And my thoughts
are running continually from the orchard to the pasture, and from thence
to the swamp, and thence to the house and barn, and land adjoining.
Sometimes I am at the orchard ploughing up acre after acre, planting,
pruning apple-trees, mending fences, carting dung; sometimes in the
pasture, digging stones, clearing bushes, pruning trees, building to
redeem posts and rails; and sometimes removing button-trees down to my
house; sometimes I am at the old swamp burning bushes, digging stumps
and roots, cutting ditches across the meadows and against my uncle; and
am sometimes at the other end of the town buying posts and rails to
fence against my uncle, and against the brook; and am sometimes
ploughing the upland with six yoke of oxen, and planting corn, potatoes,
&c., and digging up the meadows and sowing onions, planting cabbages,
&c., &c. Sometimes I am at the homestead, running cross-fences, and
planting potatoes by the acre, and corn by the two acres, and running a
ditch along the line between me and Field, and a fence along the brook
against my brother, and another ditch in the middle from Field's line to
the meadows. Sometimes am carting gravel from the neighboring hills, and
sometimes dust from the streets upon the fresh meadows, and am sometimes
ploughing, sometimes digging those meadows to introduce clover and other
English grasses."[9]

Thus passed the days of his early married life in Braintree, between the
earnest study of the law, the participation in social intercourse with
friends and neighbors, and occasional Bucolical episodes. In 1768, as we
have said, he removed to Boston, and but seldom went into the country.
In 1771, however, we find him writing as follows:

"The complicated cares of my legal and political engagements, the
slender diet to which I was obliged to confine myself, the air of the
town of Boston, which was not favorable to me, who had been born and
passed almost all my life in the country, but especially the constant
obligation to speak in public, almost every day, for many hours, had
exhausted my health, brought on a pain in my breast, and a complaint in
my lungs, which seriously threatened my life, and compelled me to throw
off a great part of the load of business, both public and private, and
return to my farm in the country. Early in the Spring of 1771, I removed
my family to Braintree, still holding, however, an office in Boston. The
air of my native spot, and the fine breezes from the sea on one side,
and the rocky mountains of pine and savin on the other, together with
daily rides on horseback and the amusements of agriculture, _always
delightful to me_, soon restored my health in a considerable degree.

"April 16. Tuesday evening. Last Wednesday, my furniture was all
removed to Braintree. Saturday I carried up my wife and youngest child,
and spent the Sabbath there very agreeably. On the 20th or 25th of
April, 1768, I removed into Boston. In the three years I have spent in
that town, have received innumerable civilities from many of the
inhabitants; many expressions of their good will, both of a public and
private nature. Of these I have the most pleasing and grateful
remembrance. * * * * *

"Monday morning I returned to town, and was at my office before nine. I
find I shall spend more time in my office than ever I did. Now my family
is away, I feel no inclination at all, no temptation, to be any where
but at my office. I am in it by six in the morning, I am in it at nine
at night, and I spend but a small space of time in running down to my
brother's to breakfast, dinner, and tea. Yesterday, I rode to town from
Braintree before nine, attended my office till near two, then dined and
went over the ferry to Cambridge. Attended the House the whole
afternoon, returned and spent the whole evening in my office alone, and
I spent the time much more profitably, as well as pleasantly, than I
should have done at club. This evening is spending the same way. In the
evening, I can be alone at my office, and nowhere else; I never could in
my family.

"18. Thursday--Fast day. Tuesday I staid at my office in town; yesterday
went up to Cambridge, returned at night to Boston, and to
Braintree,--still, calm, happy Braintree,--at nine o'clock at night.
This morning, cast my eyes out to see what my workmen had done in my
absence, and rode with my wife over to Weymouth; there we are to hear
young Blake--a pretty fellow.

"20. Saturday. Friday morning by nine o'clock, arrived at my office in
Boston, and this afternoon returned to Braintree; arrived just at
tea-time; drank tea with my wife. Since this hour, a week ago, I have
led a life active enough; have been to Boston twice, to Cambridge twice,
to Weymouth once, and attended my office and the court too.

"But I shall be no more perplexed in this manner. I shall have no
journeys to make to Cambridge, no General Court to attend; but shall
divide my time between Boston and Braintree, between law and
husbandry;--_farewell politics_."[10]

During Mr. Adams's residence in Boston he did not always occupy the same
house. In April, 1768, he removed, as we have said, to the White House
in Brattle Square. In the spring, 1769, he removed to Cole Lane, to Mr.
Fayerweather's house. In 1770, he removed to another house in Brattle

In 1772 he again removed to Boston with his family, and finding, as he
says, that "it was very troublesome to hire houses, and to be often
obliged to remove, I determined to purchase a house, and Mr. Hunt
offering me one in Queen-street, near the scene of my business, opposite
the Court House, I bought it, and inconvenient and contracted as it was,
I made it answer, both for a dwelling and an office, till a few weeks
before the 19th of April, 1775, when the war commenced."

In 1774 Mr. Adams was appointed delegate to the first American Congress
at Philadelphia, and was obliged to leave his family in Braintree, while
he himself remained with the Congress. He continued to reside in
Philadelphia, visiting his family but seldom, and then in a very hurried
manner, till the year 1776, when he was appointed commissioner to France
in the place of Silas Deane, who was recalled. The treaty with France
having been concluded by Dr. Franklin before Mr. Adams reached Paris, he
returned home after an absence of a year and a half.

Hardly had he returned before he was again dispatched as Minister to the
Court of St. James. While abroad at this time he made some stay in
Paris, was afterwards at Amsterdam for the purpose of negotiating a loan
and forming a treaty of amity and commerce with Holland, and still
later, in 1785, was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain.
During all this time he had been separated from his wife--a space of
nearly six years--but in 1784, finding that there was no prospect of a
return, he sent for Mrs. Adams to join him in London. On reaching
London, Mrs. Adams found that her husband was in Paris; her son, John
Quincy Adams, was sent by his father to escort his mother and sister to
France. The letters of Mrs. Adams, describing their mode of life in
Paris, or rather at the little town of Auteuil, and also those which
give an account of her residence in London, are most charmingly written,
and we wish there was room for long extracts from them, but we already
trespass upon the reader's kindness. We have space for only one pretty
domestic picture.

The family are expecting a packet of letters from America, which their
friend Mr. Charles Storer has sent from London to Paris. They had some
difficulty in procuring them from the post-office.

"About eight in the evening, however, they were brought in and safely
delivered, to our great joy. We were all together. Mr. Adams in his easy
chair upon one side of the table, reading Plato's Laws; Mrs. A. upon the
other, reading Mr. St. John's "Letters;" Abby, sitting upon the left
hand, in a low chair, in a pensive posture;--enter J.Q.A. from his own
room, with the letters in his hand, tied and sealed up, as if they were
never to be read; for Charles had put half a dozen new covers upon them.
Mr. A. must cut and undo them leisurely, each one watching with
eagerness. Finally, the originals were discovered; 'Here is one for you,
my dear, and here is another; and here, Miss Abby, are four, five, upon
my word, six, for you, and more yet for your mamma. Well, I fancy I
shall come off but slenderly. Only one for me.' 'Are there none for me,
sir?' says Mr. J.Q.A., erecting his head, and walking away a little

On his return from Europe, Mr. Adams resided--whenever political duties
permitted his absence from the seat of government--at the mansion in
Quincy, the name by which the more ancient portion of Braintree was

The estate was purchased after the revolution. The house had been built
long before by one of the Vassall family, a well-known republican name
in England in the time of the commonwealth, some members of which had
transferred themselves to Jamaica under Cromwell's projects of
colonizing that island, and from thence had come to Massachusetts. But
time had changed them from republicans to royalists, and when the
revolution broke out they were on the side of the mother country. In
Quincy, however, the race had run into females, and the house belonged
to a descendant by the name of Borland, who sold it to the agent of Mr.
Adams. It was then, however, very different from what it is now. Mr.
Adams nearly doubled the size of it, and altered the front. It has since
been altered once or twice, and lately by the present occupant, Mr.
Charles Francis Adams, a grandson of the President.

In this house Mr. Adams continued to reside till his death in 1826.
During the time that he was in Philadelphia and Washington as President
and Vice-President, Mrs. Adams remained at Quincy, partly on account of
her health, partly to take charge of her husband's private property,
which had never been large, and which had suffered much diminution from
the expenses incident to public life.

Mrs. Adams's account of her residence in Washington--the troubles which
she had in procuring almost the necessaries of life in that out of the
way settlement--her description of Washington and the White House at
that early date, have been printed too often in newspapers all over the
country, to need insertion here. Not less interesting than these letters
are those which describe her life in Philadelphia; her little sketches
of society in that city, then the seat of government, have all the
charms which the unaffected letters of an elegant woman cannot fail to

The following letter will conclude our article, showing, as it does, the
peaceful occupations of this happy aged couple, retired to their beloved
home to await the inevitable summons, to which they looked forward with
the beautiful resignation of minds in love with virtue, and conscious of
no offence against the laws of God or man.

            TO THOMAS B. ADAMS.

            QUINCY, _12 July, 1801_.


"I am much delighted to learn that you intend making a visit to the old
mansion. I wish you could have accomplished it so as to have been here
by this time, which would have given you an opportunity of being at
Commencement, meeting many of your old acquaintances, and visiting the
seat of science, where you received your first rudiments.

"I shall look daily for you. You will find your father in the fields,
attending to his haymakers, and your mother busily occupied in the
domestic concerns of her family. I regret that a fortnight of sharp
drought has shorn many of the beauties we had in rich luxuriance. The
verdure of the grass has become a brown, the flowers hang their heads,
droop, and fade, whilst the vegetable world languishes; yet still we
have a pure air. The crops of hay have been abundant; upon this spot,
where eight years ago we cut scarcely six tons, we now have thirty. 'We
are here, among the vast and noble scenes of nature, where we walk in
the light and open ways of the divine bounty, and where our senses are
feasted with the clear and genuine taste of their objects.' * * * * *

"I am, my dear Thomas, affectionately, your mother,

           "ABIGAIL ADAMS."

Mrs. Adams died at Quincy on the 28th of October, 1818, aged seventy-four

John Adams died at the good age of ninety-one years, on the 4th of July,
1826. We thank God, as he did, that a life spent in the service of his
country should close without pain and in perfect tranquillity of soul,
on the anniversary of the best day in her history, and a day with which
his name is for ever associated in our gratefullest memories.


[2] "Three months after this (during the second quarter), the Selectmen
procured lodgings for me at Dr. Nahum Willard's. This physician had
a large practice, a good reputation for skill, and a pretty library.
Here were Dr. Cheyne's works, Sydenham, and others, and Van Swieten's
Commentaries on Boerhaave. I read a good deal in these books, and
entertained many thoughts of becoming a physician and surgeon."--_The
Works of JOHN ADAMS, edited by CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS_--Vol. II., p. 7.

[3] The Works of John Adams--Vol. II., page 9.

[4] The Works of John Adams--Vol. II., p. 145.

[5] This picture is engraved in the "The Life and Works," Vol. II.,
Frontispiece. We are obliged to guess at the age when it was taken,
since we find no hint concerning it--indeed no reference to the picture
any where in the book.

[6] "The American nettle-tree. One of these is still to be seen growing
out of the top of the rock at this place."--_Ed. The Life and Works._

[7] "This is the mansion afterwards purchased by the writer, in which he
lived from the date of his last return from Europe until his death in

[8] This tree still remains in fine condition on Milton Hill.--_Ed.
The Life and Works._

[9] The Life and Works--Vol. II., p. 136-138.

[10] The Life and Works--Vol. II., p. 255.

=Patrick Henry.=

[Illustration: Patrick Henry fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Residence of Patrick Henry, Va.]


There is no "Home of an American Statesman" that may more fitly claim
the leading place in this our repository than the dwelling of Patrick
Henry--the earliest, the most eloquent, and the wisest of those whose
high counsels first swayed us as one people and drew us to a common
cause; as resolutely as ably directed that cause to its noble event;
and, in a word, performing in the civil struggle all that Washington
executed in the military, achieved for us existence as a nation.

In the Heroic Age, however, such as was to us the Revolution, men build
not monuments nor engrave commemorative inscriptions: those of nature,
identified by rude but reverential tradition, alone attest where the
founders of a race, the great-fathers of an empire, have sprung.

If there be, among the many men of that brave day, one prompter and more
unfaltering than all the rest; if, among all who moved by stirring words
and decisive acts the general mind of the country, there was one who
more directly than any, or than all, set it in a flame not to be
extinguished; if amidst those lights there was one, the day star, till
whose coming there was no dawn, it was certainly Henry. It is true that,
before him, Massachusetts had her quarrel with England, but not with the
common sympathy of the colonies. For, averse, from her very foundation,
to not merely the dominion, but the very institutions of the mother
country, she had kept up with it a continual bickering, religious as
well as civil; a strife at best local, often ill-tempered and factious;
so that her too frequent broils, commanding little regard, would have
continued to come to nothing had not an opposition to English measures
sprung up in a more loyal quarter. The southern colonies, meanwhile, had
always loved the parent land, both church and state, and naturally had
been indulgently dealt with by its legislation. Thus, until that
ill-advised measure, the Stamp Act, came, to affect all the American
plantations alike, there had been nothing to draw us together in a
common cause, a common resistance. The Stamp Act gave that cause, and
Henry led that resistance. Young, obscure, unconnected, unaided,
uncounselled, and even uncountenanced, he yet, by the sudden splendor of
his eloquence, his abilities, and his dauntless resolution, carried
every thing before him; animated the whole land to a determined
assertion of their rights; established for himself a boundless influence
over the popular mind; used it, whenever the occasion came, to sound the
signal of an unshrinking opposition to every encroachment; led the way,
independently of all movements elsewhere; devised and brought about
every main measure of preparation; rejected all compromise; clearly the
first to see the certain issue of the contest in European interposition
and the establishment of our Independence, pursued steadily that aim
before even he could openly avow it: and finally, when things were ripe;
assumed it for his State, instructed her deputation to propose it to all
the rest, and indeed, involved them in it beyond avoidance, by setting
up a regular and permanent Republican Constitution in Virginia; a step
that allowed no retreat, and was not less decisive than the heroical act
of Cortez, when, marching upon Mexico from his landing-place, he burnt
his vessels behind him. Henry was, in a word, the Moses who led us forth
from the house of bondage. If there had been an opposition before his,
it was not the appointed, and would have been an ineffectual one. There
had, no doubt, been Jews enough that murmured, even before he who was to
deliver them appeared. We may, therefore, fitly apply to Henry, in
regard to the bringing about of our Independence, all that Dryden so
finely said of Bacon in science:

    "Bacon, like Moses, led us forth, at last:
    The barren wilderness he passed;
    Did on the very border stand
    Of the blest promised land;
    And from the mountain-top of his exalted wit,
    Saw it himself and showed us it."

And yet Henry, like nearly all his illustrious fellow-laborers of
freedom, sleeps in an undistinguished grave. At his death, party spirit
denied to his memory the tokens of public admiration and regret, offered
in that very legislature of which he had been the great light, and
which, indeed, he had called into being. Since that sorry failure--for
all faction should have been hushed over the body of a citizen and a man
so admirable--no further notice has been taken of him; and he who
merited a national monument, only less proud than that due to Washington
himself, slumbers beneath an humble private one at Red Hill, the
secluded residence where he died.

But we turn to those personal particulars of this extraordinary man
which are appropriate to the design of the present volume. Not a few of
them will be found to involve important corrections of the received
account of his early years, and a new view, therefore, of his genius and

In that received account, his sole original biographer, Mr.
Wirt--writing without any personal knowledge of him, and neglecting to
consult the most obvious and authentic source of information, his four
surviving sisters, ladies of condition and of remarkable
intelligence--has fallen into the vulgar error, to which the peculiar
position and fortunes of Mr. Henry at first gave rise, and which he
afterwards, for warrantable political purposes, encouraged. When he
suddenly burst out from complete obscurity, an unrivalled orator, a
consummate politician, and snatched the control of legislation and of
the public mind from the veteran, the college-bred, the wealthy and
high-born leaders who had till then held it, the homeliness of dress
which befitted his narrow circumstances, the humility of aspect and the
simplicity of manners, which were unaffected traits of his disposition,
naturally assigned him in the eyes of both those who were of it and of
those who looked down upon it, to the plebeian class. It suited the envy
of these, it delighted the admiration of those, to regard him--that
unintelligible marvel of abilities, which had thus all at once effaced
every thing else--as a mere child of the people. The really skilful, who
understand intellectual prodigies and never refer them to ignorance or
chance, must have seen at once, through the cloud in which he stood, a
great and an enlightened understanding, too competent to a high and a
complex public question, not to be strong in knowledge as well as
faculties. The few cannot have mistaken him for that fabulous thing, an
ignorant genius; for they must have seen in his commanding and complete
eloquence the art, in his masterly measures the information, of one
thoroughly trained, though in secret, to the business of swaying men's
minds, and of conducting their counsels, though hitherto apart from
them. All but this highest class, however, of the rivals whom he at once
threw into eclipse naturally sought to depreciate him as a mere
declaimer, a tribunitian orator, voluble and vehement as he was rude,
rash, and illiterate. Could the tapers that, at Belshazzar's feast, went
out before the blaze of that marvellous handwriting on the wall, have
been afterwards permitted to give their opinion of it, they would, of
course, have talked disdainfully of its beam, as mere phosphorus or some
other low pyrotechnic trick. Such was the reputation which the
vanquished magnates in general, and their followers, endeavored to fix
upon the young subverter of their ascendency. He was not of one of the
old aristocratic families; he was a low person, therefore he had never
been within the walls of a college, still less had he, like many of
them, finished, with the graces of foreign travel, a public discipline
of learning; he was, therefore, by their report, illiterate, although,
certainly, in his performances, all the best effects of education were
manifest, without its parade. While they called him ignorant, he always
proved himself to know whatever the occasion demanded, and able
victoriously to instruct foe and friend. Shunning, from his sense, all
assumption, and from his modesty, all display, he never pulled out the
purse of his acquirements to chink it merely, but only to pay; so that
no man could tell what he had left in the bottom of his pocket; and
thus, a ragged-looking Fortunatus, he always surprised men with his
unguessed resources. Strange powers, undoubtedly, he had, that must have
not a little confounded the judgment of the best observers; unexercised
in the forum, he had risen up a consummate master of the whole art of
moving in discourse the understanding or the passions; unpractised in
public affairs, he had only to appear in them, in order to stand the
first politician of his day; unversed in the business and the strategy
of deliberative assemblies, he had only to become a member of one, in
order to be its adroitest parliamentary tactician. As he was dexterous
without practice, so was he prudent without experience; for, from the
first he shone out as the wisest man in all the public councils. He
seems to have escaped all that tribute of error which youth must almost
invariably pay, as the price of eminence in public affairs; he fell into
no theory, he indulged no vision, he never once committed a blunder; in
short, ripe from the beginning, he appeared to be by instinct and the
mere gift of nature, whatever others slowly become only by the aid of
art and experience. Bred up in seclusion, though (as the high
cultivation of his sisters testified to all who knew them) in a
household whose very atmosphere was knowledge, he had, beyond a good
acquaintance with Latin, the rudiments of Greek, French, mathematics,
and an early familiarity with the best English authors--those of the
Elizabethan age, of the Commonwealth, and of Queen Anne's day-received
little direct instruction; none, but from his father and books, his
early companions, so that his scholastic instruction was really slender.
But he had been taught, betimes, to love knowledge and how to work it
out for himself; how, in a word, to accomplish what best unfolds a great
genius, self-education. For schools and colleges--admirable contrivances
as they are for keeping up among mankind a common method and a common
stock of information--are but suited, as they were but designed, for the
common run of men. Applying to all the same mechanical process; bringing
to the same level the genius and the dunce, they act excellently to
repair the original inequality, sometimes so vast, with which nature
deals out understanding among the human race. In a word, they are
capital machines for bringing about an average of talent; but it is at
the expense of those bright parts which occasionally come, that they do
it. Their methods clap in the same couples him who can but creep and him
who would soar; harness in the same cart the plough-horse and the
courser. The highest genius must be its own sole method-maker, its own
entire rule. From what it has done, rules are deduced; but for its
inferiors, not for it: its whole existence is exceptional, original; and
whatever, in its disciplining, would tend to make it otherwise, serves
but to check and to diminish its development.

No greater error, therefore, than to suppose that a man as extraordinary
as Patrick Henry, who, mature from the first, rose up a consummate
speaker and reasoner, and, amongst men of large abilities, knowledge,
and experience, constantly showed himself, in matters the weightiest and
the most difficult, superior to them all, could have been uneducated. In
reality he had learned of the best possible master, for such a
man--himself. That he knew, that he even knew more solidly, because more
effectually and to the purpose, than all those around him, the great
subjects with which he dealt so wonderfully, is beyond all question.
Now, though the genius of Mr. Henry was prodigious, and though there be
things which genius does, as it were, intuitively and spontaneously,
there are other things which are not knowable, even by genius itself,
without study; which the utmost genius cannot extemporize, cannot
produce from nothing, cannot make without their materials previously
amassed in its mind, cannot understand without their necessary
particulars accumulated in advance; and it was in just such things--the
highest civil ability, which comes of wisdom, not genius; the greatest
eloquence which cannot be formed but by infinite art and labor--that he
stood up at all times supreme. The sagacity of statesmanship with which
he looked through the untried affairs of this country, saw through
systems and foretold consequences, has never been surpassed; and his
eloquence, judged (as we have alone the means of judging it) by its
effects, has never been equalled.

Such then, even upon the traditionary facts out of which his biographer
has shaped into a mere fable his sudden rise and his anomalous
abilities, is, of necessity, the rational theory of Mr. Henry's
greatness. But, without any resort to induction, the simple truth, if
Mr. Wirt had sought it in the natural quarter, would have conducted him
to the same conclusions as we have just set forth.

At the time when Mr. Wirt collected his materials, he was yet, though of
fine natural abilities, by no means the solid man that he by and by
became. His fancy was exuberant, his taste florid, his judgment
unformed. Himself in high repute for a youthful and gaudy eloquence,
which, however, he afterwards exchanged for a style of great severity
and vigor--he had been urged to his immature and ambitious undertaking,
by admirers who conceived him to be little less than a second Henry. His
besetting idea seems to be much akin to Dr. Johnson's "who drives fat
oxen should himself be fat:" namely that the life of a great orator
should be written by a great orator; and that he was to show not only
Mr. Henry but himself eloquent. In general his book does him credit, as
merely a literary performance, although sadly deformed, in what were
intended for its best passages, by an inflation of which he must have
been afterwards greatly ashamed, as a sin against all style, but
especially that proper to his subject--the historic. Let us add--in
simple justice to a man of great virtues and elevation, as well as
gentleness of mind and feelings, whose memory has upon us, besides, the
claim of public respect and of hereditary friendship--that his
biography, wherever his own, is, in spite of party spirit, written with
the most honorable candor, and vindicates Mr. Henry with equal fairness
and ability from the aspersions cast upon his conduct in the "Alien and
Sedition" business by the Jeffersonian faction. Wherever he (Mr. Wirt)
has depended upon his own researches alone, he displays both diligence
and discrimination; but unhappily, he accepted the loose popular
traditions, which are never any thing but a tissue of old women's tales;
he relied upon a mass of casual contributions, chiefly derived from the
same legendary sources or from uncertain, confused, and (as himself lets
us see) often contradictory memories; and above all, he adopted
implicitly the information supplied by a certain Thomas Jefferson; who,
besides being a person of whom the sagacious and upright Henry cherished
a very ill opinion--so that _he_ could not well be supposed a very
special repository of the orator's personal confidences--was a gentleman
who had all his life driven rather the largest and most lucrative trade
in the calumny of nearly all the best and greatest of his
contemporaries, that has ever been carried on in these United States,
much as that sort of commerce has long flourished and yet flourishes
amongst us. Upon such things he had come to a splendid political fortune
while he lived, and when he died, with a pious solicitude to provide for
his posterity, he bequeathed to his grandson all the unspent capital
stock of his slanders (his Memoirs and Ana) to carry on the old business
with and keep up the greatness of the family.

The effect of all this was to turn what before was strange or obscure,
in Henry's history, into little better than a fable, a sort of popular
and poetic myth of eloquence, in which the great speaker and statesman
fades away into a fiction, a mere creation of the fancy, scarcely more
real or probable than the account in old Master Tooke's "Pantheon," of
Orpheus's drawing the rocks and trees and the very wild beasts along
with him by his powers of song. Nay, in one main point, Master Tooke's
legend more consults verisimilitude: for _he_, instead of shocking all
probability by representing his hero to have been without education,
sends him as private pupil to the Muses themselves, who are reputed to
have kept, then as now, the best Greek and Latin colleges a-going.

It is certainly true, in excuse for all this, that the mighty men who,
for their exploits and services, became the demigods of fable, "the fair
humanities of old religion," had scarcely more struck the excited
imagination of their times than had Henry. Like theirs was the obscurity
of his birth, the mystery of his education, the marvel of his
achievements. Of his many great speeches, scarcely one uncorrupted
passage can be said to survive; so that even of that which all felt and
know we have but the faintest shadow. A fragmentary thought is all of
genuine that is left us out of a whole immortal harangue; some powerful
ejaculation stands for an entire oration, and dimly suggests, not
explains its astonishing effects. To all purpose historic of his
eloquence, he might just as well have lived before alphabetic writing
was invented. At best, the oratory that entrances, agitates, enraptures,
transports every man in a whole assembly, and hurries him totally away,
thrilling and frenzied with sensations as vehement as novel, sets all
reporting, all stenography at defiance. Before it, shorthand--at most,
the dim reflection of such things; a cold copy, a poor parody where it
is not a burlesque of speech in its great bursts--drops its pen, and
forgets even to translate; which, after all (_haud inexpertus loquor_),
is the utmost it can do. But of not even such translation did Mr. Henry,
upon any occasion but two,[11] receive the advantage such as it is.
Every where in these the single but skilful reporter confesses, by many
a summary in parenthesis, that at certain passages he lost himself in
the speaker, and could not even attempt to render him. Thus it comes
that, of his transcendent harangues--those which made or directed the
Revolution--we have only a few scattered sentences, and the seemingly
amazed descriptions which attest their extraordinary effects. There is
but one exception: a version, to appearance tolerably entire, though
still evidently but a sketch, of his "Liberty or Death" speech, when, on
the 20th March, 1775, he told the Convention of Virginia, assembled in
the "Old Church" at Richmond (St. Johns), that "they must fight," and
moved to arm and organize the militia. This, even in its existing form,
is a prodigiously noble speech, full of vigor in the argument, full of
passion in the appeals, breathing every where the utmost fire of the
warrior, orator, patriot, and sage. Fitly uttered, it is still--though of
course it must have lost greatly in the transmission--a discourse to
rouse a whole nation invincibly to arms, if their cause and their
courage were worthy of it. That speech evidently, and that speech alone,
is, in the main, the true thunder of Henry: all the others are but the

[Illustration: Old Church Richmond, Va.]

But though from all these causes, he already, in Mr. Wirt's day, stood,
as seen through the fast-gathered haze of tradition, a huge but shadowy
figure, it was the business of the biographer, instead of merely showing
him to us in that popular light, to set him in a true one. The critical
historian clears up such mists, defines such shadows, and calls them
back not only to substance but proportion, color, life, the very
pressure and body of the times. What if the historic truth had passed
into a poetic fable? Mr. Wirt should have dealt with it, not as a bard,
a rhapsodist, but a philosophical mythologist, who from fable itself
sifts out the unwritten facts of a day, when fable was the only form of

Besides, however, adopting for the fundamental facts of Mr. Henry's
character all these false sources, his biographer utterly neglected (as
we have already intimated) the most obvious and the most natural ones.
He had then four surviving sisters, women not merely of condition but
intellectually remarkable.

To none of these did Mr. Wirt resort for any domestic particulars of his
early life, which of course none knew so well as they. Well acquainted
with them all--sprung from one of them--we have cause to know the
astonishment with which they met this written account of his early years
and his breeding up. Had Mr. Wirt personally known these highly
cultivated and very superior ladies, distinguished as they were for the
completeness and solidity of their old-fashioned education, he must have
seen at once that his own story of Henry's youthful institution and ways
is about as true as it is that Achilles was born of a sea-goddess, had a
centaur for his private tutor, and was fed upon lion's marrow to make
him valiant.

His very lineage was literary. His father, John Henry, a Scottish
gentleman of Aberdeen, was a man of good birth, of learned education,
and, when he migrated to Virginia, of easy fortune. He was the nephew of
Robertson, the great historian of his own country and of ours. The name
of his mother, Jane Robertson, an admirable and accomplished person, is
still preserved and transmitted among her female descendants. His
cousin, David Henry, was the associate editor of the "Gentleman's
Magazine," then a leading publication, with Edward Cave, the last of the
learned printers; whose brother-in-law and successor he became. The
family bred many of its members for the church, which in Britain implies
such influence as secures preferment. John's younger brother, Patrick,
thus taking orders, received a rectorship near him, and followed him to
this country. In those days of Episcopacy, benefices drew after them not
merely comfortable reverence, but goodly emolument and even authority in
civil life; so that the parsons were a power in the State. All this
Patrick, a man worthy of it, employed. His brother already possessed it;
and thus both took their station among the gentry, though not the
aristocracy, of the land--its untitled nobility: for, in effect, such an
order, sustained by primogeniture and entails, then existed throughout
lower or tide-water Virginia.

John attained to the command of the regiment of his county, to its
surveyorship, and to the presiding chair of its magistracy; stations
then never conferred but upon leading men in the community. More
careless, however, of his private interests than of the public, without
exactly wasting his fortune, he gradually frittered it away; and though
he repaired it for a time, by an advantageous marriage with the young
and wealthy widow (a Winston by birth) of his most intimate friend, Col.
John Syme, of the Rocky Mills, yet before the tenth year of Patrick, his
second son (born 29th May, 1736), he found himself so straitened as to
have need to make himself an income by setting up in his house a private
classical school. Assisted to this by the reputation of being one of the
best scholars in the country, he taught for a number of years with great
approval the children of his friends and his own; abandoning the pursuit
only when one of its inducements--the education of his own sons and
daughters (two of the former and five of the latter)--had ceased.

Under such circumstances, and especially when we repeat that those four
of his daughters whom we knew were persons greatly admired for the
masculine goodness and extent of their education, it may be judged how
likely, how possible it is that Patrick, with his boundless
aptitude--always, in after life, applied most rapidly and successfully
to whatever he had need to understand--can have grown up to manhood
almost uninstructed, ignorant, and idle. Genius, of which it is the very
essence that it has an uncontrollable affinity for the knowledge proper
to its caste, has often been seen to surmount obstacles seemingly
invincible to its information; never yet wilfully, incorrigibly, and in
spite of every influence around, to shut out the open and easy daylight
of intelligence, and darken itself into voluntary duncedom. The thing,
we repeat is a flat, a bald and a flagrant impossibility. You might as
well tell us that a young eagle, instead of taking to the sky as soon as
its pinions were grown, has, though neither caged nor clipped, remained
contented on foot and preferred to run about the barn-yard with the
dunghill fowls. No! your "mute Miltons" and your harmless Cromwells
sound very prettily to the fancy, but in plain fact, were no Miltons
unless they sang, no Cromwells unless they conquered. Genius and
Heroism--the most strenuous of human things--were never dull, slothful,
idle; never slighted opportunity, but always make, if they do not find

Accordingly, the sisters of Mr. Henry always asserted that, whatever
their brother might appear abroad, he was a close voluntary student at
home; exploring not only his father's library, which was large and good,
but whatever other books he could lay his hands upon; dwelling, with an
especial delight, upon certain great authors, of whom he seemed to make
his masters; but cultivating assiduously what was then called "polite
learning," and merited the name, along with history at large, and that
of the free states of antiquity, and of England in particular. His great
favorites were Livy and Virgil; not (as Mr. Wirt supposes of the former)
in a translation, but the original. That the sisters were right on this
point is sufficiently proved by the fact that, a few years ago, his
Latin Virgil was in existence, its margins all filled with his
manuscript notes. We need hardly say that he who was not content with
Dryden as a translator was clearly not a-going to take up with poor old
Philemon Holland, then the current English disfigurer of the most
animated and picturesque of historians. Henry's sisters indeed, and the
only one of his schoolfellows that we have ever met, were persuaded that
he read Latin almost as readily as English. Mr. Wirt himself had learned
that the great Paduan was ever in his boyish hands; now, that single
point established, he might without hesitation have proceeded to five
clear and important inferences: first, that no boy has a favorite book
but because he is fond of books generally; secondly, that when his
favorite is, though of the highest merit, a very unusual one, he must
not only have read much, but with great discrimination: thirdly, that if
his favorite was in a special class (not a mere miscellanist) he was
well read in that class, addicted to it: fourthly, that he was enamored
of such a favorite for his matchless merits, both of matter and of
style; his sensibility to the former of which particulars implied
information, to the latter a well-formed taste: fifthly, that no mere
translation of Livy--especially not flat, tame old Holland--nothing short
of the golden original, could have inspired such a Livian affection. But
this is not all; when--coming to be put into the possession of the
scanty remaining body of Mr. Henry's papers (ill-preserved by his not
very wise progeny) and invited to write his life more authentically--we
ourselves began first to study his speeches and his mind critically, it
did not take us long to perceive, what is indeed easily seen, that Mr.
Henry's early passion for Livy--born of course of Livy's conformity to
his genius--had deeply tinged the peculiar style of his eloquence, the
peculiar character of his politics, was, in sooth, the immediate source
of both; that the harangues in Livy had been his models of discourse;
that the sentiments of public magnanimity, which Livy every where, and
we may say Livy alone breathes, were transfused into Henry's spirit, and
gave to his ideas of a state that singular grandeur, that loftiness,
that heroism, which fills and informs them. His love of freedom
even--his republicanism--was such as Livy's; popular, yet patrician: not
your levelled liberty, too low to last, which, to keep down the
naturally great, sets up the base on high; but a freedom consistent with
the eminence and the subordination of natural orders mutually dependent;
equal under the law, but distinct in their power to serve the state, as
bringing to its aid, this rank higher counsels and obligations, that,
force and numbers; in short, not merely a tumultuary, a mob liberty, but
a social and a regulated concert of all classes, the absolute
predominance of none; a republican, not a democratic aim. Less learned
than Milton, certainly, but of a highly kindred spirit, he was very like
him in his general political system; but was more practical, better
acquainted with men. The one had more of the poetical element in him,
the other more of the political. Both were deeply religious; without
which no man can be a safe politician. Each towered above all the men of
his day, except one, a warrior; and nearly such relation as Milton held
to Cromwell did Henry hold to Washington. Alike in the antique cast of
their minds, they were yet alike in being, withal, thoroughly English in
their notion of actual freedom: for Henry's mind was just as little
touched with any of the Jeffersonian fancies of Frenchified liberty as
Milton's own. Both were of the historic, not the so-called philosophic
school of politics: for history was evidently the only treatise on
government that either thought worthy of any attention. If they had ever
stooped to the systematic writers, from the great sources (wise
histories) out of which those writers can at most draw, it can only have
been to despise nearly every mother's son of them. Finally, alike in so
many things, they were not unlike in their fate: both "fell upon evil
times," and lost their public credit in the land of which they had
matchlessly vindicated the public cause: Milton died sightless, and
Henry too blind for the light of the Virginia abstractions.

Every thing confutes the vulgar theory of his greatness. Had he been
ignorant at his first rise, the growth of his talent, as well as of his
knowledge, would have been traceable in his performances; but on the
contrary, he burst out, from the first, mature and finished. By the
universal consent, his very earliest speeches were quite equal to any
thing he ever after pronounced. Had these been at sixteen, it would go
far to prove that his eloquence, his ability, and even his information
came (as such things never came in any other instance) without
cultivation: but his first speech, that in "the parson's cause," at
Hanover Court House, in 1763, when he was twenty-nine years old; the
same period of life at which Demosthenes and Cicero shone out; a period
after which there may be large additions to artificial knowledge, but
can seldom be any to the natural splendor of the faculties.

We have known many who knew Mr. Henry, in the entire unreserve of that
domestic life, in which he so much loved to unbend himself. All such
agreed that he was a man of very great and very various information. He
read every thing. At home, his interval between an early dinner and
supper-time (after which he gave himself up to conversation with his
friends, or to sport with his children, or to music on the violin and
flute, which he played) was always consecrated to study: he withdrew
from company to his office and books. His very manner of reading was
such as few attain, and marks the great and skilful dealer with other
men's thoughts: he seldom read a book regularly on; but seemed only to
glance his eye down the pages, and, as it were, to gallop athwart the
volume; and yet, when he had thus strid through it, knew better than any
body else all that was worth knowing in it contents. A learned physician
who dwelt near him, told us, in speaking of this wide range of his
knowledge, that he had, for instance, to his surprise, found him to be a
good chemist, at a time when an acquaintance with that science was
almost confined to medical men. Except in private, however, he kept the
secret of his own attainments, content to let them appear only in their
effects. This was, originally, out of his singular modesty; but by and
by when his vanquished rivals of college-breeding sought to depreciate
him as low-born and uneducated, he from policy conformed to imputations
which heightened the wonder of his performances and therefore added to
his success.

Let us add one more fact, substantive and significant. The range of a
man's mind, the very particulars of his studies may usually, when he is
not a mere book-collector or other affector of letters, be pretty
definitely ascertained from the contents of his library. In that view,
finding that a list of Mr. Henry's was embraced in the records of the
Court of Probate of his county, we examined and copied it. For that day,
his library, besides its merely professional contents, is quite a large
one--some five hundred volumes, mostly good and solid. We found it to
contain the usual series of Greek school-books, probably all he had ever
read; for the language was then slightly learnt in Virginia: a good many
of the Latin authors, and various French ones. The last language we
know, from other sources, that he understood. Now, he was the man in the
world the least likely to have got or to keep books that he did not

Such was the enigma of Patrick Henry's mind; and such is its clear
solution: a solution which, at least, must be confessed to substitute
the rational for the irrational, the possible for the impossible, the
positive of domestic evidence for the negative of popular tradition.

Apart, however, from such testimony, there were other proofs that should
have suggested themselves to the anatomist of life character, the
physiologist of his genius. When we ourselves first began minutely to
consider his speeches, their effects, all that is told of the manner in
which those effects were brought about, the reach and the diversity of
his powers, their admirable adaptation to all occasions and to all
audiences--for he swayed all men alike by his eloquence, the low and the
high, the ignorant and the learned; the unapproached dramatic perfection
of his voice, gesture, manner, and whole delivery; his mastery, not only
in speech, but off the tribune and man to man, of all that can affect
either men's reason or their imagination, we could not, for our lives,
help coming to the conclusion that all this must be skill, not chance;
and that instead of being the mere child of nature, he was the most
consummate artist that ever lived. Nature bestows marvellous things, but
these are not within even her gift. She gives the gold, but she does not
work it into every beautiful form; she gives the diamond, but she does
not cut it; she bestows the marble, but did not carve the Olympian Jove
nor the Belvidere Apollo. In fine, we had, in much acquaintance with men
the ornaments of the public life of our times, been accustomed to
understand all the minute mechanism of civil abilities; and when we came
to examine closely this matchless piece of machinery, we could not avoid
believing, in spite of all assertions to the contrary, that each
particular part, however nice and small, must have been made by hand and
most painfully put together. And thus, perceiving every thing else in
this prodigious speaker to have been so masterly, we became convinced
that his style, his diction must have been, in the main, as excellent as
every thing else about him. It could not have been otherwise. He whose
thought was so high and pure, whose fancy was so rich, and the mere
outward auxiliaries of whose discourse (voice, and action) had been so
laboriously perfected, can, by no possibility, have failed to make
himself equally the master of expression. What we have as his, is mere
reporter's English; and no man is to be judged by that slop of sentences
into which he is put and melted away by their process. In that menstruum
of words, all substances are alike. It is the true universal solvent, so
long sought, that acts upon every thing and turns it into liquid babble.
Mr Henry knew and often practised, not only upon the multitude but the
refined; the power of a homely dialect, and saw how wise or brave or
moving things may be made to come with a strangely redoubled effect, in
the extremest plainness of rustic speech. His occasional resort to this,
however, of course struck much upon the common attention and got him the
reputation, among other foolish reputations, of habitually using such
locutions; when, in reality, he was master of all modes of discourse
alike, and only employed always that which best suited his purpose.

There is yet one more false notion, in regard to him, which Mr. Wirt has
done much to propagate: the notion, we mean, that Henry never
condescended to be less than the great orator; that, instead of
sometimes going about his business on foot, like other lawyers and
legislators, he rode for ever in a sort of triumphal car of eloquence,
dragging along a captive crowd at his conquering wheels; and, in short,

    "He could not ope
  His mouth, but out there flew a trope."

On the contrary, no man was ever less the oration-maker. He never used
his eloquence but as he used every thing else--just when it was wanted.
In the mass of public business, eloquence is out of place, and could not
be attended to. A man who was always eloquent would soon lose all
authority in a public body. Mr. Henry kept up always the very greatest,
and merited it, by taking a leading part in all important matters and
making more and better business speeches than any body else.

A long preliminary this; but we trust not uninteresting. It was, at any
event, necessary that we should first, in the Bentonian phrase,
"vindicate the truth of history," and set a great character in its
proper public light, before passing to those humble particulars of
private life to which we now proceed.

In person, he was tall and rather spare, but of limbs round enough for
either vigor or grace. He had, however, a slight stoop, such as very
thoughtful people are apt to contract. In public, his aspect was
remarkable for quiet gravity. It seems to have been a rule with him
never to laugh and hardly to smile, before the vulgar. In their presence
he wore an air always fit to excite at once their sympathy and their
reverence; modest, even to humility; and yet most imposing. In all this
he played no assumed, though he could not have played a more skilful
part: for the occasion and the presence appear always to have so duly
and so strongly affected him, as at once to transform him into what was,
at each instant, fittest. Thus his art, of which we have already spoken,
might well be consummate; for he was all that, for mere purposes of
effect, he should have seemed to be, the very impersonation of the cause
and the feelings proper to the hour. Great wisdom, indeed, an
unshrinking courage, and yet an equal prudence, a patriotism the most
fervent, a profound sensibility, a rare love of justice, yet a spirit of
the greatest gentleness and humanity, and in a word, the highest
virtues, public and private, crowned with a disinterestedness, an
absence of all ambition most singular in a democracy (which above all
things breeds the contrary) made him--if Cicero be right--the greatest
of orators, because the most virtuous of men that ever possessed that
natural gift. No man ever knew men better, singly or in the mass; none
ever better knew how to sway them; but none ever less abused that power,
for he seems ever to have felt, in a religious force, the solemnity of
all those public functions, which so few now regard. It was probably the
weight of this feeling, along with his singular modesty, that made him
shun official honors as earnestly as others seek them. It is evident
that no power, nor dignity, nor even fame could dazzle him. It was only
at the public command that he accepted trusts from his State; and he
always laid them down as soon as duty permitted. All offers of Federal
dignities,[12] up to the highest, he rejected. He had served his State
only in perilous times, when (as the Devil says in Milton) to be highest
was only to be exposed foremost to the bolts of the dreaded enemy; or at
some conjuncture of civil danger; but when peace and ease had come and
ambition was the only lure to office, he would not have it.

If, however, he was thus grave, on what he considered the solemn stage
of public life, he made himself ample amends in all that can give
cheerfulness to the calm of retirement in the country. When at last
permitted to attend to his private fortune, he speedily secured an ample
one. It was enjoyed, whenever business allowed him to be at home, in a
profuse and general, but solid and old-fashioned hospitality, of which
the stout and semi-baronial supplies were abundantly drawn from his own
large and well-managed domain. His house was usually filled with
friends, its dependencies with their retinue and horses. But crowds,
besides, came and went; all were received and entertained with
cordiality. The country all about thronged to see the beloved and
venerated man, as soon as it went abroad that he was come back. Some
came merely to see him; the rest to get his advice on law and all other
matters. To the poor, it was gratuitous; to even the rich without a fee,
except where he thought the case made it necessary to go to law. All
took his counsel as if it had been an oracle's, for nobody thought there
was any measure to "Old Patrick's" sense, integrity, or good nature.
This concourse began rather betimes, for those who lived near often came
to breakfast, where all were welcomed and made full. The larder seemed
never to get lean. Breakfast over, creature-comforts, such as might
console the belated for its loss, were presently set forth on
side-tables in the wide entrance hall. Of these--the solid, not the
liquid parts of a rural morning's meal--breakfast without its slops, and
such as, if need were, might well stand for a dinner, all further comers
helped themselves as the day or their appetites advanced. Meanwhile, the
master saw and welcomed all with the kindliest attention, asked of their
household, listened to their affairs, gave them his view, contented all.
These audiences seldom ceased before noon or the early dinner. To this a
remaining party of from twenty to thirty often sat down. It was always,
according to the wont of such houses in that well-fed land, a meal
beneath which the tables groaned, and whose massive old Saxon dishes
would have made a Frenchman sweat. Every thing is excellent at these
lavish feasts; but they have no luxuries save such as are home-grown.
They are, however, for all that is substantial and plain, the very
summit of good cheer. At Governor Henry's, they never failed to be,
besides, seasoned with his conversation, which at table always grew gay
and even gamesome. The dinner ended, he betook himself, as already told,
to his studies until supper, after which he again gave himself up to
enjoyment. In this manner came, with the kindliest and most cheerful
approach, the close of his days; upon which there rested not a stain nor
(such had been through life his personal benignity) a hostility. Except
tyrants and other public enemies, he had lived at peace with man and
God, achieving most surprising and illustrious things, and content, save
the sight of his liberated country, with little reward beyond that which
he bore in his own approving bosom.

[Illustration: Old Court House, Va.]


[11] The debates in the Virginia Convention on the Federal Constitution,
and his forensic argument against the recovery of the forfeited British

[12] He is said (_Wirt_, p. 404) to have been offered by Washington the
Secretaryship of State and the embassy to Spain. He certainly was, by
him, also offered the War Department, and by Mr. Adams the embassy to
France. These are known. When the papers of Alexander Hamilton come to
be published down to those of 1796, it will be seen that he was then
offered, by the heads of the Federal party, through John Marshall, the
nomination for the Presidency, as Washington's successor, but declined


[Illustration: Madison fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Montpelier, Madison's Residence]


Science has had, and perhaps will ever have, its fancies; and fancy has
often aspired to become science; for between the two--wide apart as they
are said to lie--stretches an uncertain domain, which they seem
alternately to occupy by incursion, and of which, when thus seized upon,
each appears, oddly enough, often to take possession in the rival name
of the other. Thus Astronomy, growing visionary, has pretended to trace
from the aspects of the heavenly bodies, not merely their laws and
motions, but the vicissitudes of human fate; and chemistry has had its
poetic visions of an elixir of life and of the philosopher's stone;
while, on the other hand, mere imagination has quite as often attempted
to erect, out of the airiest things, a philosophic realm of her own, and
to deduce into positive sciences the bumps upon the human skull, the
freaks of Nature in the conformation of the features, and even the
whimsical diversities of people's handwriting. From all these have been
set up grave methods of arriving at a knowledge of men's faculties and

It is surprising that, among these fantastic systems of physiognomy,
that easy and natural one should never have been set on foot, which
might connect the structural efforts of individuals with the cast of
their minds and feelings. To do this would be especially easy in new
countries, where nearly every one is compelled to build his own abode,
and where, for the most part, there is so little of architectural
solidity that habitations seldom last for above a generation, and even
he who inherits a house inherits but a ruin. Thus the simplicity of
Patrick Henry's habits and tastes might be inferred from the
primitiveness of his dwelling. You might have guessed his
unambitiousness from the absence about his home of any thing that
betrayed a longing for grandeur. All was plain, substantial, good;
nothing ostentatious or effeminate. The master's personal desires
coveted nothing beyond rural abundance and comforts--such blessings as
are quite enough to make private life happy and preserve it uncorrupt.
In all this you might discern the public man who cherished, as a
politician, no visions, no novelties; sought, of course, to build up for
his fellow-citizens no other nor better happiness than such as crowned
all his own wishes; believed little in pomp and greatness; loved our old
hereditary laws, manners, liberties, victuals; and dreaded French
principles and dishes as alike contaminating and destructive.

Man, as we have already intimated, is a constructive animal. He alone is
properly such. For the inferior creatures that build do so upon a
single, instinctive, invariable method, always using the same material;
he, rationally and inventively, as outward circumstances may require, or
as, when these constrain him little, his individual fancy, desires, or
judgment may prompt. In the nomadic state a tent of skins, a lodge of
bark, are the sole structures for shelter that fit his wandering life;
and the rudeness of these invites to no decoration, while convenience
itself forbids all diversity of contrivance for him, who, paying no
ground-rent, may decamp to-morrow; and, bound by no leasehold, may carry
his tenement with him, like that travelling landlord, Master Snail, or
abandon it like that lodger by the season, Dame Bird. In short, he comes
not under the terms of zoological or botanical description, as having a
_habitat_; under the line he lives, as did father Adam and mother Eve
(whose housekeeping in Eden, Milton so well relates), in a bower of rose
and myrtle; at the pole, he burrows beneath the snow or makes his
masonry of ice; in Idumea, he dwells, like its lions, in a cavern; on
the Maranon, he perches his house in a tree-top, and his young
ones--plumeless bipeds though they be--nestle among the feathered
denizens of the mid-air; in certain mining regions, he is born and dies
hundreds of fathoms under ground, and perhaps never sees the light of
day; in Naples, he lives, as do the dogs and cats of Constantinople, in
the streets. Thus, whatever idea, whatever purpose, whatever need,
whatever fancy, predominates in him when he builds, it takes shape, it
finds expression, it embodies itself, forthwith, in fitting material,
fittingly contrived, and is, according to his habitative wish, his taste
in a tabernacle, possibly a pig-sty, possibly a palace; for his range of
invention stretches over every thing that lies between the two.

The founders of the great commonwealths of antiquity--the Grecian
statesmen and warriors, the Roman consuls--lived at home, during the
most glorious period of their several states, in an extreme simplicity;
content with a truly noble penury, while they built up the grandeur of
their country. The constructive propensity of the Athenian instead of a
private direction towards his personal gratification, took the generous
form of a passion for public monuments; that of the Roman turned itself,
until the decline of the Republic began, upon the rearing of trophies
and triumphal arches, rather than of lordly mansions; and dictators
sometimes, consuls often, were called from the cot and the plough to the
supreme trusts of war and peace. But this was all in the spirit of ages
and institutions, when the citizen lived in the state and sought his
private, in the public greatness and happiness. Modern times present few
individual instances of the like. In those ancient politics, the state
leaned on the citizen; in our modern, the citizen leans on the state.
Then, public life was much, private life was little; now, it is
reversed, the citizen wants not to help the state, but wants the state
to help him. Now, over-civilization has so multiplied the conveniences
of life, and habit has rendered its indulgences so necessary, that he
who, being great, can live without and above them, has need to be of a
rare elevation, an inherent grandeur of soul.

The statesman whose mansion and whose habits in retreat we are about to
describe, without being altogether of that heroical cast of mind which
graced the character of a Washington, a Henry, or a Clay, had yet much
of that elevated simplicity which marks the highest strain of greatness.
Mr. Madison, when he laid down what he had so worthily and wisely worn
as to have disarmed all previous reproach and hostility--the supreme
dignity of the Union--returned quietly to his hereditary abode, resumed
the unaffected citizen, and seemed to be as glad to forget his past
greatness as to escape from the anxieties and envy that attend power as
shadows do the sun. He went back, after his stormy but successful
presidency of eight years, to his father's seat, Montpelier, where, but
for the accident--the same which befell a hero of Irish song, Denis
Brulgruddery--of his mother's being on a visit to her mamma at the time,
he would certainly have been born. There, like a sensible man, and a
good fellow to boot (as he was), he sat down on a fine plantation, in a
good old-fashioned house, with a fine old cellar of old-fashioned wines
under it, and the best old Virginian servants in it, to spend the rest
of his days upon that wise plan which King Pyrrhus proposed to himself,
but, postponing too long, did not live to execute. He (that is, Mr.
Madison, not Pyrrhus) sat down like an actor who has played out his part
with applause, calmly to look at the rest of the piece, no further
concerned in its business, but not affecting (as others have done) the
uninterested spectator of the performance. He did not assume the
philosophic sage; he did not bury himself in a monastic gloom like
Charles V.; nor, like the same discrowned prince and Mr. Jefferson,
betake himself to mending watches; nor, like Dioclesian, to cultivating
cabbages; but in the bosom of that pleasant retreat, which had witnessed
his youthful preparation for public toils, sought the repose from them
which he had fairly earned; and sweetening it with all that could give
it zest, in the companionship of the amiable wife who had shared with
him and adorned public honors, and in the society of the many personal
friends that his virtues and talents drew about him, passed the evening
of his days in gentlemanly and genial ease and hospitality.

Montpelier, the residence to which, as an only child, he had succeeded
at his father's death, is a plain but ample, and rather handsome
habitation of brick, around which spreads out, in such undulations of
gently-waving swells and irregular plains as pleasantly diversify the
view, a fertile domain of some two thousand six hundred acres; a part of
it well cultivated, but a still larger part yet in all the wildness of
nature. The region is one where she has shed, in great beauty, the
softest picturesque of hill and dale, forest and glade. At hand, in the
rear, rises, as if to adorn the prospect with bolder contrasts, the
gracefully wavering chain of the southwest mountain, to fence on one
side the vale of Orange and Albemarle, on whose southeastern edge of
nodding woods and green fields Montpelier lies embosomed and embowered;
while on the other side, in the airy distance beyond that vale, tower in
fantastic line the blue peaks of the long Appalachian ridge, breaking the
horizon, as if to form another and a more fanciful one. The wide scene,
caught in glimpses through the mantling trees, or opening out in the
larger vista of farm beyond farm, or shining in loftier prospect above
the tree-tops and the low hills, offers to the ranging eye, many a
charming view,--sweet spots of pastoral beauty; jutting capes and
copses, or nodding old groves of woodlands; the rich and regular
cultivation of spreading plantations, amidst which glisten now a stately
mansion, and now a snug farm-house, each decorated with its peculiar
growth of trees for shade or fruit; and far away, mountain regions,
whose heights, and whose rude and massy but undefined forms, suggest to
the fancy the savage grandeur of that remoter landscape which the eye
knows to be there, though it mocks the sight with what is so different.
All these are, at frequent points, the aspects of that fine country from
Orange court-house up to Charlottesville; they are nowhere seen in
greater perfection or abundance than just around Montpelier. At almost
every turn, one discovers a new pleasure of the landscape; at nearly
every step, there is a surprise. It looks like a realm of pictures; you
would almost think that not nature had placed it there, but that the
happiest skill of the painter had collected and disposed the scenes.

The house, we have said, is plain and large. Its size and finish bespeak
gentlemanly but unpretending ease and fortune. It has no air of assumed
lordliness or upstart pretension. No foreign models seem to have been
consulted in its design, no proportions of art studied; yet it wants not
symmetry as well-planned convenience, comfort, and fitness lend, as if
without intention. A tall, and rather handsome columned portico, in
front, is the only thing decorative about it; but is not enough so to be
at all out of keeping. It is of the whole height of the central
building, of two stories, and covers about half its length of some
forty-five feet. Broad steps, five in number, support and give access
along its entire front. Its depth is about one-third its width. The main
building itself is a parallelogram, near half as deep as it is long. At
each flank, a little receding, is a single-storied wing of about twenty
feet, its flat roof surmounted by a balustrade. The house stands on a
gently-rising eminence. A wide lawn, broken only here and there by
clumps of trees, stretches before it. On either side are irregular
masses of these, of different shapes and foliage, evergreen and
deciduous, which thicken at places into a grove, and half screen those
dependencies of a handsome establishment--stables, dairies and the
like--which, left openly in sight, look very ill, and can be made to
look no otherwise, even by the trying to make them look genteel: for
they are disagreeable objects, that call up (attire them as you will)
ideas not dainty. As, therefore, the eye should not miss them
altogether--for their absence would imply great discomfort and
inconvenience--the best way is to half-veil them, as is done at

In the rear of the house lies a large and well-tended garden. This was,
of course, mainly the mistress's care; while the master's was, as far as
his bodily feebleness permitted, directed towards his agricultural
operations. In the Virginia economy of the household, where so much must
be ordered with a view to entertaining guests all the while, the garden
plays an important part. Without ample supplies from it, there would be
no possibility of maintaining that exuberant good cheer with which the
tables continually groan, in all those wealthier habitations where the
old custom of a boundless hospitality is still reverently observed. In
such--and there are yet many, although the Jeffersonian "Law of
Descents," and the diffusion of the trading spirit are thinning them out
every day, as rum and smallpox are dispeopling our Indian tribes--there
is little pause of repletion. Every guest must be feasted: if a
stranger, because strangers ought to be made to pass their time as
agreeably as possible; if a friend, because nothing can be too good for
one's friends. Where such social maxims and such a domestic policy
prevail, there will seldom, according to Adam Smith's principle of
"Demand and Supply," be any very serious lack of guests. Indeed, the
condition is one hard to avoid, and so pleasant, withal, that we have
known persons of wit and breeding to adopt it as their sole profession,
and benevolently pass their lives in guarding their friends, one after
another, from the distresses of a guestless mansion. But, to return to
the garden of Montpelier; there were few houses in Virginia that gave a
larger welcome, or made it more agreeable, than that over which Queen
Dolly--the most gracious and beloved of all our female
sovereigns--reigned; and, wielding as skilfully the domestic, as she had
done worthily and popularly the public, sceptre, every thing that came
beneath her immediate personal sway--the care and the entertainment of
visitors, the government of the menials, the whole policy of the
interior--was admirably managed, with an equal grace and efficiency.
Wherefore, as we have said, the important department of the garden was
excellently well administered, both for profit and pleasure, and made to
pour forth in profusion, from its wide and variously-tended extent, the
esculents and the blooms, herb, fruit, flower, or root, of every season.
Nor was the merely beautiful neglected for the useful only; her truly
feminine tastes delighted in all the many tinted children of the
parterre, native and exotic; and flowers sprang up beneath her hand, as
well as their more substantial sisters, the vegetables. In a word, her
garden was rich in all that makes one delightful; and so of all the
other less sightly but needful departments of her large and well-ordered

We should, however, slight one of its most pleasing features, were we to
omit mentioning the peculiar purpose to which was consecrated one of
those low wings of the building which we have briefly described. There
dwelt, under the most sacred guard of filial affection, yet served in
her own little separate household by servants set apart to her use, the
very aged and infirm mother of Mr. Madison; a most venerable lady, who,
after the death of her husband, thus lived under the tender guardianship
of her son and of her daughter-in-law, down to near her hundredth year,
enjoying whatever of the sweets of life the most affectionate and
ingenious solicitude can bestow upon extreme decrepitude. Here she
possessed without the trouble of providing them, all the comforts and
freedom of an independent establishment; and tended by her own
gray-haired domestics, and surrounded at her will by such younger
relatives as it gratified her to have about her, she passed her quiet
but never lonely days, a reverent and a gentle image of the good and
indeed elevated simplicity of elder times, manners, and tastes. All the
appointments of her dwelling bespoke the olden day; dark and cumbrous
old carved furniture, carpets of which the modern loom has forgotten the
patterns; implements that looked as if Tubal Cain had designed them;
upholstery quaintly, if not queerly venerable. In short, all the objects
about her were in keeping with her person and attire. You would have
said that they and she had sat to Sir Godfrey Kneller for a family
picture; or that you yourself had been suddenly transported back to
Addison's time, and were peeping by privilege into the most secluded
part of Sir Roger de Coverley's mansion. Indeed, to confirm the
illusion, you would probably find her reading the Spectator in the large
imprint and rich binding of its own period, or thumbing--as our
degenerate misses do a novel of the Dickens or Sue school--the leaves of
Pope, Swift, Steele, or some other of those whom criticism alone (for
the common people and the crowd, of what is now styled literature, know
them not) still recalls as "the wits of Queen Anne's day." These were
the learning of our great-grandmothers; need we wonder if they were
nobler dames than the frivolous things of the fancy boarding-school,
half-taught in every thing they should not study, made at much pains and
expense to know really nothing, and just proficient enough of foreign
tongues to be ignorant of their own? The authors we have mentioned,
their good contemporaries, and their yet greater predecessors, who gave
to our language a literature, and are still all that holds it from
sinking into fustian and slipslop, a tag-rag learning and a
tatterdemalion English, were those that lay around this ancient lady,
and beguiled her old age as they had formed and delighted the youth of
her mind and heart. If you made her refer to them, as the favourite
employment of her infirmity-compelled leisure, it was pleasant to hear
her (as in that other instance which we have given of Patrick Henry's
sisters) talk of them as if they had been dear and familiar personal
friends. Perhaps, however, authors were then better loved and more
respected by their readers than they are nowadays; and possibly this was
because they deserved to be so; or indeed there may be a double decline,
and readers as much worse than the writers. Not that either of these is
the fact, or even a conjecture which we ourselves entertain. We merely
mention it _en passant_, as a bare possibility. The opinion would be
unpopular, and should not be admitted in a democracy; of which it is the
very genius to have no opinions but such as are popular; and therefore
to think no thoughts that might betray one into an opinion not that of
the majority.

Such books then, and, when her old eyes grew weary, the almost equally
antiquated occupation of knitting, habitually filled up the hours of
this old-time lady; the hours, we mean, which pain or feebleness
remitted her for occupation. As to those sadder moments of suffering, or
of that sinking of the bodily powers which presses at times upon
far-advanced age, she bore them with the cheerfullest patience, and even
treated them as almost compensated by the constant delight of the
affections which the pious care of her children gave her all the while.
Nothing could exceed their watchfulness to serve her, soothe her,
minister to her such enjoyments as may be made by lovingness to linger
around even the last decline of a kindly and well-spent life. In all
such offices, her son bore as much part as his own frail health and the
lesser aptitude of men for tending the sick permitted; but no daughter
ever exceeded in the tender and assiduous arts of alleviation, the
attentions which Mrs. Madison gave to her husband's infirm parent.
Reversing the order of nature, she became to her (as the venerable
sufferer herself was accustomed fondly to say) the mother of her second
childhood. Mistress as she was of all that makes greatness pleasing and
sheds a shining grace upon power, Mrs. Madison never appeared in any
light so worthy or so winning, as in this secret one of filial affection
towards her adopted mother.

It was a part, however, of her system of happiness for the ancient lady,
at once to shut out from her (what she could ill sustain) the bustle of
that large establishment, and the gayeties of the more miscellaneous
guests that often thronged it, and yet to bring to her, in special favor
towards them, such visitors as could give her pleasure and break the
monotony of her general seclusion. These were sometimes old and valued
friends; sometimes their hopeful offspring; and occasionally personages
of such note as made her curious to see them. All such she received,
according to what they were, with that antique cordiality or amenity
which belonged to the fine old days of good-breeding, of which she was a
genuine specimen. To the old, her person, dress, manners, conversation,
recalled, in their most pleasing forms, the usages, the spirit, the
social tone of an order of things that had vanished; an elevated
simplicity that had now given way to more affected courtesies, more
artificial elegancies. To the young, she and her miniature household
were a still more singular spectacle. They had looked upon their host
and hostess as fine old samples of the past, and the outer, the exoteric
Montpelier, with its cumbrous furniture and rich but little modish
appointments, as a sort of museum of domestic antiquities; but here,
hidden within its secret recesses, were a personage, ways, objects,
fashions, that carried them back to the yet more superannuated elegance
of days when what now struck them as obsolete must have been regarded as
the frivolous innovations of an impertinent young generation.

We have already described the house, and glanced at its appointments,
but may add that the former seemed designed for an opulent and an easy
hospitality, and that the latter, while rich, was plainly and solidly
so. No expedients, no tricks of show met the eye; but all was well set
forth with a sort of nobleness, yet nothing of pomp. The apartments were
of ample size; the furniture neither scanty nor (as now seems the mode)
huddled together, as if the master were a salesman. Nothing seemed
wanting, nothing too much. A finished urbanity and yet a thorough
cordiality reigned in every thing: all the ways, all the persons, all
the objects of the place were agreeable and even interesting. You soon
grew at your ease, if at arriving you had been otherwise: for here was,
in its perfection, that happiest part and surest test of
good-breeding--the power of at once putting every one at ease. The
attentions were not over-assiduous, not slack; but kept, to great
degree, out of sight, by making a body of thoroughly-trained and most
mannerly servants their ministrants, so that the hosts performed in
person little but the higher rites of hospitality, and thus seemed to
have no trouble and much pleasure in entertaining you. Accordingly,
there has seldom, even in the hilarious land of old Virginia, been a
house kept--especially by elderly people--at which it was pleasanter to
be a sojourner. They always made you glad to have come, and sorry that
you must go.

Such was the main interior life of Montpelier. Its business seemed but
the giving pleasure to its guests, of whom a perpetual succession came
and went. Little was seen of the working machinery of the fine, and on
the whole, well-managed estate, that poured forth its copious supplies
to render possible all this lavish entertainment, this perennial flow of
feasting. For here, be it observed, as elsewhere in the rural
hospitalities of Virginia, it was not single visitors that were to be
accommodated, but families and parties. Nor did these arrive unattended,
for each brought with it a retinue of servants, a stud of horses, and
all were to be provided for. Meantime, the master was seen little to
direct in person the husbandry of his domain; and indeed, he was known
to be too feeble to do so. Nevertheless, the tillage of Montpelier was
productive and its soil held in a state of progressive improvement.
Indeed, capable of every thing he had engaged in, except arms (in which
the Jeffersonian dynasty, except Monroe, must be confessed not to have
excelled)--wise, attentive, and systematic, he had established his
farming operations upon a method so good and regular, that they went on
well, with only his occasional inspection, and the nightly reports of
his head men of the blacks. The mildest and humanest of masters, he had
brought about among his slaves, by a gentle exactness, and the care to
keep them happy while well-governed, great devotion to him and their
duties, and a far more than usual intelligence. Every night he received
an account of the day's results, and consulted freely with his managers,
on the morrow's business. All was examined and discussed as with persons
who had and who deserved his confidence. Thus encouraged to think, the
inert and unreflecting African learnt forecast, skill, self-respect, and
zeal to do his duty towards the master and mistress who were so good to
him. We do not say that the like could be done to the same extent every
where. Montpelier was cultivated merely to support itself, and not for
profit; which is necessarily the ruling end on the plantations
generally, and perhaps compels more enforced methods; which, indeed, can
scarcely be expected to cease, as long as fanatical interference from
without, between the master and the slave, shall only serve to breed
discontent on the one part and distrust on the other, and driving the
threatened master to attend to the present security of his property,
instead of occupying himself with its future amelioration. Men of any
sense abroad should surely have perceived, by this time, that the method
of driving the Southern States into Emancipation does not answer; but,
on the contrary, is, so far as the temper of that region is concerned,
only postponing it, and meanwhile aggravating the condition of both

Thus gentle, genial, kindly, liberal, good and happy, passed the life of
Montpelier. Public veneration shed all its honors; private friendship
and communion all their delights upon it. Even those dignities which, in
this country of party spirit, beget for the successful more of reproach
than fame, had left the name of Madison without a serious stain. His
Presidency past, the wise and blameless spirit of his official
administration came speedily to be acknowledged on all sides, and envy
and detraction, left without an aim, turned to eulogy. An ample fortune,
the greatest domestic happiness, and a life prolonged, in spite of the
original feebleness of his body, to the unusual age of eighty-five, gave
him in their full measure, those singular blessings which the goodness
of God deservedly dealt to him and the admirable partner of his
existence. A philosophic, and yet not a visionary ruler, he should stand
among ours as next to Washington, though separated from him by a great
interval. The Jeffersons and the Jacksons come far after him, for

    "He was more
  Than a mere Alexander; and, unstained
  With household blood and wine, serenely wore
  His sovereign virtues: still we Trajan's name adore."


[Illustration: Jay fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Jay's Residence, Bedford, N.Y.]


Although the City of New-York claims the honor of being the birth-place
of John Jay, it cannot properly be regarded as the home of his early
years. Not far from the time of his birth, on the 12th of December,
1745, his father, Peter Jay, who, by honorable assiduity in the
mercantile vocation, had accumulated a handsome fortune, purchased an
estate in Rye, about twenty-five miles from the city, with the intention
of making it his future residence. This town, situated on the
southeastern corner of Westchester County, ranks among the most
delightful summer resorts that adorn the northern shores of Long Island
Sound. The village proper stands about a mile and a half from the Sound,
on the turn-pike road between New-York and Boston. From the hills
extending along its northern limits, the Mockquams (Blind Brook) a
perennial stream, flows southwardly through it, adding much to the
beauty of its scenery. On the outskirts are many elegant villas, the
favorite haunts of those who rejoice to exchange the cares of business
and the dust and heat of the neighboring metropolis for its grateful
seclusion and the refreshing breezes that visit it from the ocean.

For the description of the Jay estate at Rye, in the absence of personal
knowledge, we shall, in the main, rely upon the account furnished by
Bolton, in his excellent History of Westchester County, adhering
principally to his own language.

The situation of the estate is very fine, embracing some of the most
graceful undulations of a hilly district, highly diversified with rocks,
woods, and river scenery. Contiguous to the southern portion of it and
bordering the Sound is Marle's Neck and the neighboring islands of Pine
and Hen-hawk. The curious phenomenon of the Mirage is frequently
witnessed from these shores, when the land on the opposite coast of Long
Island appears to rise above the waters of the Sound, the intermediate
spaces seeming to be sunk beneath the waves.

The family residence is situated near the post-road leading to Rye, at a
short distance from the river. The building is a handsome structure of
wood, having a lofty portico on the north. The south point commands a
beautiful and charming view of the Sound and Long Island. Some highly
interesting family portraits adorn the walls of the hall and
dining-room, among which are the following: Augustus Jay, who emigrated
to this country in 1686, a copy from the original by Waldo; Anna Maria
Bayard, wife of Augustus Jay, by Waldo; Peter Augustus Jay, as a boy,
artist unknown; an old painting upon oak panel, supposed to represent
Catherine, wife of the Hon. Stephen Van Cortlandt, of Cortlandt, South
Holland. This lady appears habited in a plain black dress, wearing a
high neck-ruffle, and, in her hand, holds a clasped Bible. In one corner
of the picture is inscribed "ætat. 64, 1630." In the library is the
valuable cabinet of shells, amounting to several thousands, of which the
collector, John C. Jay, M.D., has published a descriptive catalogue.
Noticeable among the family relics is the gold snuff-box, presented by
the Corporation of New-York with the freedom of the city to "his
Excellency, John Jay," on the 4th of October, 1784, not long after his
return from diplomatic service in Spain and at Paris. An old French
Bible contains the following memoranda: "Auguste Jay, est né a la
Rochelle dans la Royaume de France le 23/13 Mars, 1665. Laus Deo. N.
York, July ye 10th, 1773, this day at 4 o'clock in ye morning dyed Eva
Van Cortlandt, was buried ye next day ye 12 en ye voute at Mr.
Stuyvesant's about six and seven o'clock."

In the opening of a wood on the southeast of the mansion is the family
cemetery, where are interred the remains of the ancestors of the Jays.
Over the grave of the Chief Justice is the following inscription,
written by his son, Peter Augustus Jay:




  BORN, _Dec._ 12, 1745,

  DIED, _May_ 17, 1829.

According to his expressed desire, the body of Mr. Jay was not deposited
in the family vault, but committed to the bosom of the earth. He always
strenuously protested against what he considered the heathenish attempt
to rescue the worthless relics of mortality from that dissolution, which
seems to be their natural and appropriate destination. Within the same
cemetery are also memorials to Sir James Jay, Peter Jay Munroe, Peter
Jay, Goldsborough Banyar, Harriet Van Cortlandt, and other members of
the family.

Pierre Jay, to whom the Jays of this country trace their origin, was one
of those noble and inflexible Huguenots who were driven from France by
the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, a measure which deprived that
kingdom of more than one-fourth of the most industrious and desirable
class of its population. His descendants, settling in this country,
retained the characteristics which had distinguished their forefathers,
and became among its most respectable and prosperous inhabitants. Peter
Jay, the grandson of Pierre Jay, and, like him, engaged in mercantile
pursuits, was married in the year 1728 to Mary, the daughter of Jacobus
Van Cortlandt, and was the father of ten children, of whom John was the
eighth. Seldom has a son been more fortunate in his parents. "Both
father and mother," we are told by the biographer, "were actuated by
sincere and fervent piety; both had warm hearts and cheerful tempers,
and both possessed, under varied and severe trials, a remarkable degree
of equanimity. But in other respects they differed widely. He possessed
strong and masculine sense, was a shrewd observer and accurate judge of
men, resolute, persevering and prudent, an affectionate father, a kind
master, but governing all under his control with mild but absolute sway.
She had a cultivated mind and a fine imagination. Mild and affectionate
in her temper and manners, she took delight in the duties as well as in
the pleasures of domestic life; while a cheerful resignation to the will
of Providence during many years of sickness and suffering bore witness
to the strength of her religious faith."

Under the tutelage of such a mother was John Jay educated till his
eighth year, and from her he learned the rudiments of English and Latin
grammar. Even at this tender age, the gravity of his disposition, his
discretion and his fondness for books were subjects of common remark.
When eight years old, he was committed to the care of Mr. Stoope, a
French clergyman and keeper of a grammar-school at New Rochelle, with
whom he remained for about three years. This gentleman being unfitted by
reason of his oddities and improvidence for the efficient supervision of
the establishment, left the young pupils, for the most part, to the
tender mercies of his wife, a woman of extremely penurious habits; by
whom, we are told, they were "treated with little food and much
scolding." Every thing about the house under the management of this
ill-assorted pair went to ruin, and the young student was often obliged,
in order to protect his bed from the drifting snow, to close up the
broken panes with bits of wood. Various other inconveniences fell to the
lot of young Jay, but it is probable that the rigid discipline of Mrs.
Stoope was not without its advantages. It had the effect of throwing its
subject on his own resources, and taught him to disregard those thousand
petty annoyances which, after all, are the chief causes of human misery,
and which often disturb the tranquillity of the strongest minds.

From Mr. Stoope he was transferred to a private tutor, and in his
fifteenth year entered King's, now Columbia College, at that time in its
infancy. Here, as might have been supposed, his conduct, exemplary
character and scholarship won him the esteem and respect of all. Beside
the improvement and expansion of his intellect, and the opportunity of
measuring himself with companions of the same age and the same studies,
he received other advantages from these four years of college training.
His attention being called to certain deficiencies which might impede
his future success, he at once set himself at work to remedy them. An
indistinct articulation and a faulty pronunciation of the letter L, he
was able by the constant study and practice of the rules of elocution
entirely to remove. Special attention was also paid to English
composition, by which he attained that admirable style, which in purity
and classical finish was afterwards not surpassed by that of any other
contemporary statesman, a style polished but not emasculate, and of such
flexibility as to adapt itself equally well to the vehemence of
patriotic appeal, the guarded precision of diplomatic correspondence, or
to the grave and authoritative judgments of the bench. He also adopted
Pope's plan of keeping by his bedside a table supplied with writing
materials, in order to record at the moment of its suggestion any idea
which might occur to him in waking.

During his senior year, the young student had occasion to display that
decision and firmness which at a later period shone so conspicuously in
affairs of greater moment. Certain mischief-making classmates, perhaps
to avenge themselves on the steward, undertook to break the table in the
college hall. The noise produced by this operation reaching the ears of
Dr. Cooper, the President, that arbitrary personage suddenly pounced
upon them without leaving them a chance of escape. The young men were at
once formed in a line and two questions--"Did you break the table? Do
you know who did?"--were each answered by an emphatic "No," until they
were put to Jay, the last but one in the line, who had indeed been
present at the disturbance but took no part in it; to the first question
he replied in the negative, to the second his answer was "Yes, sir," and
to the further inquiry--"Who was it?"--he promptly said, "I do not
choose to tell you, sir." The remaining student followed Jay's example.
The two young men, after resisting the expostulations of the President,
were summoned before the Faculty for trial, where Jay appeared for the
defence. To the allegation that they had been guilty of violating their
written promise, on their admission, of obedience to the college
statutes, Jay responded that they were not required by those statutes to
inform against their companions, and that therefore his refusal to do so
was not an act of disobedience. Reasonable as this defence might appear,
it, of course, failed to satisfy judges, clothed with executive powers,
and anxious to punish the least disregard of their own authority, and
the two delinquents were at once rusticated. At the termination of his
sentence Jay returned to college, where his reception by the instructors
proved that he had suffered no loss of their esteem. On the 15th of May,
1764, he was graduated with the highest collegiate honors.

On leaving college, Jay entered the office of Benjamin Kissam, in the
city of New-York, as a student at law. Between this gentleman and
himself a degree of familiarity and mutual respect existed, quite
remarkable considering their relative positions and their disparity of
years. For two years in the office of Mr. Kissam, he was the fellow
student of the celebrated grammarian, Lindley Murray, with whom he
formed an enduring friendship, and who, in a posthumous memoir of
himself, thus alludes to his companion: "His talents and virtues gave,
at that period, pleasing indications of future eminence; he was
remarkable for strong reasoning powers, comprehensive views,
indefatigable application, and uncommon firmness of mind. With these
qualifications added to a just taste in literature, and ample stores of
learning and knowledge, he was happily prepared to enter on that career
of public virtue by which he was afterward so honorably distinguished,
and made instrumental in promoting the good of his country." Murray was
a tall, handsome man, the son of Robert Murray, a venerable quaker of
New-York, the location of whose farm at the lower part of the city is
still pointed out by the antiquarian. Mr. Jay was admitted to the bar in
1768, and in the pursuit of his profession so extended his reputation
that he was soon after appointed secretary of the commission named by
the king to determine the disputed boundary between the States of
New-York and New Jersey. In 1774 he was married to Sarah, the youngest
daughter of William Livingston, an eminent supporter of the American
cause during the Revolution, and afterwards for many years governor of
New Jersey.

The limits to which we are confined allow us to take but a brief notice
of Mr. Jay's numerous and most valuable public services, extending over
a period of twenty-eight years, and terminating with his retirement in
1801 from the office of governor of his native State. In no one of the
colonies had the cause of resistance to the mother country less
encouragement than in New-York, and in no other could Great Britain
number so many influential allies, yet, on the receipt of the news of
the enforcement of the Boston Port Bill, Mr. Jay took a decided stand on
the side of the patriots. At a meeting of the citizens of New-York, May
16, 1774, we find him on a committee of fifty appointed "to correspond
with the sister colonies on all matters of moment." Young as he was, he
was required to draft the response to the proposal of the Boston
committee for a Congress of deputies from "the colonies in general." In
the first Congress in the same year, he was a member of some of the most
important committees. The "Address to the People of Great Britain," the
distinguishing act of that Congress, was drafted by Mr. Jay. This
eloquent document was pronounced by Jefferson, then ignorant of its
author, to be "the production certainly of the finest pen in America,"
and Mr. Webster considered it as standing "at the head of the
incomparable productions of that body [the first Congress], productions
which called forth the decisive commendation of Lord Chatham, in which
he pronounced them not inferior to the finest productions of the master
minds of the world."

In the interim between the close of the first, and the opening in May
1775 of the second Congress, Jay was incessantly engaged in the service
of his country; and when the delegates had reassembled, his pen was
again employed in the preparation of the two addresses to the
inhabitants of Jamaica and of Ireland. Some reluctance being shown on
the part of wealthy and influential citizens to serve in a military
capacity, he, without hesitation, sought and accepted a commission as
colonel of a regiment of the new militia; but his legislative ability
and eloquence were too highly valued to allow of his absence from
Congress, and he never actually joined his company. A second address of
Congress to the king having been treated with insult, and all hope of
accommodation being abandoned, he became one of the foremost advocates
of warlike measures; and, while on a committee for that purpose, devised
a series of plans for crippling the resources of England, which were
adopted by Congress in March 1776, nearly three months previous to the
formal act of severance in the Declaration of Independence. At the
adoption of this measure, in consequence of his election to the
Provincial Congress of New-York in April of that year, Jay was unable to
affix his signature to that instrument, but, as chairman of the
committee to whom the subject had been referred, he reported a
resolution, pledging that State to its support. Shortly after came the
most gloomy period of the revolutionary cause in New-York; a hostile
army was invading the State from the north, inspired by the defeat of
the American forces on Long Island, the city was in possession of the
enemy, and what was worse, treachery and despair existed among the
people themselves. A committee of public safety was appointed by the
Provincial Congress, clothed with dictatorial powers, of which Jay acted
as chairman. At this juncture also, Mr. Jay, by appointment, put forth
the thrilling address of the convention to their constituents, an appeal
written in the most exalted strain of patriotic eloquence, in which he
rebukes the defection and stimulates the flagging hopes of the people
with the zeal and indignant energy of an ancient prophet.

In 1777, Jay, from a committee appointed the year before, drafted a
State Constitution, which received the sanction of the legislature.
There were certain provisions which he desired to introduce in that
instrument, and which he thought more likely to be adopted when proposed
in the form of amendments than if they should be incorporated into the
first draft; but a summons to the side of his dying mother prevented the
realization of his wishes. One of the amendments which he intended to
urge, was a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery within the
limits of the State. Under the new constitution, having been appointed
to the office of Chief Justice, he was ineligible by that instrument to
any other post, except on a "special occasion," but, in consequence of a
difficulty arising between his own, and the neighboring State of
Vermont, the legislature took advantage of the exception, and elected
him delegate to Congress. Without vacating, therefore, his judicial
seat, he complied with their appointment, and soon after his entrance in
Congress became its presiding officer. The impossibility, however, of
doing full justice to both his judicial and legislative duties, induced
him to resign his seat on the bench. Congress now employed his pen in
writing the circular letter to the States, urging them to furnish
additional funds for the war. This statesmanlike exposition of the
government's financial condition closes with a noble appeal to the
national honor.

"Rouse, therefore, strive who shall do most for his country; rekindle
that flame of patriotism, which, at the mention of disgrace and slavery,
blazed throughout America and animated all her citizens. Determine to
finish the contest as you began it, honestly and gloriously. Let it
never be said that America had no sooner become independent than she
became insolvent, or that her infant glories and growing fame were
obscured and tarnished by broken contracts and violated faith, in the
very hour when all the nations of the earth were admiring and almost
adoring the splendor of her rising."

In 1779, accompanied by his wife, he sailed for Spain, as minister
plenipotentiary, in order to secure the concurrence of that kingdom in
the treaty with France, recognizing the independence of the United
States; and though his diplomatic negotiations were conducted in the
most honorable spirit, and with consummate prudence and ability, the
object of his mission was finally frustrated by the selfish policy of
the Spanish government, in requiring America to surrender the right of
navigating on the Mississippi. It was during his residence at the
Spanish court, that the desperate financial embarrassments of Congress
prompted a measure equally unjust to their representative abroad and
hazardous to the national credit. Presuming upon the success of his
mission, they had empowered their treasurer to draw on Mr. Jay bills
payable at six months, for half a million of dollars. As these bills
came in, the minister was placed in a situation of extreme perplexity,
but his regard for his country's reputation overcame all private
considerations; he adopted the patriotic but desperate expedient of
making himself personally responsible for their payment, and his
acceptances had exceeded one hundred thousand dollars before any relief
came to hand. Mr. Jay's residence in Spain also subjected him to other
trials, only less severe than the one just mentioned; the vexatious
obstacles placed in way of his negotiations by the Spanish government;
the insufficiency of his salary at the most expensive court in Europe;
the frequent removal of the court from place to place, at the royal
pleasure, involving the absence of his wife, whom, for pecuniary
reasons, he was unable to take with him; the death of his young child,
and his anxiety for the family whom he had left at home, exposed to the
dangers of war, and from whom, for more than a year, not a line had been
received, might well have harassed a less sensitive nature than his. The
fortitude with which he sustained these annoyances may be seen in a
letter written by him about this time to his friend, Egbert Benson, of
New-York. It commences thus:


"When shall we again, by a cheerful fire, or under a shady tree,
recapitulate our juvenile pursuits or pleasures, or look back on the
extensive field of politics we once have trodden? Our plans of life
have, within these few years past, been strangely changed. Our country,
I hope, will be the better for the alterations. How far we individually
may be benefited is more questionable. Personal considerations, however,
must give way to public ones, and the consciousness of having done our
duty to our country and posterity, must recompense us for all the evils
we experience in their cause."

From Spain, by order of Congress, Jay proceeded to Paris to arrange, in
conjunction with Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and Laurens, the Definitive
Treaty of Peace with England,--the most important diplomatic act of the
eighteenth century; and we have the testimony of Mr. Fitzherbert, then
the English minister resident in Paris, that "it was not only chiefly
but SOLELY through his means that the negotiations of that period
between England and the United States were brought to a successful
conclusion." Mr. Oswald had arrived in Paris with a commission, in which
the United States were mentioned under the designation of "colonies,"
but Jay, although his associates did not participate in his scruples,
refused to begin negotiations without a preliminary recognition on the
part of England of the Independence of the United States; and owing to
his firmness a new commission was obtained from the king, in which that
most essential point (as the sequel proved) was gained. Declining the
appointment now tendered him by Congress of commissioner to negotiate a
commercial treaty with England, Jay returned to his country. On arriving
at New-York he was welcomed by a most enthusiastic public reception, and
was presented by the corporation of New-York with the freedom of the
city in a gold box. The office of Secretary for foreign affairs, which,
for the want of a suitable incumbent, had been vacant for two years, was
at this time urged by Congress upon his acceptance, and he did not feel
at liberty to refuse his services. He was now virtually at the head of
public affairs. The whole foreign correspondence of the government, the
proposal of plans of treaties, instructions to ministers abroad, and the
submission of reports on all matters to which Congress might call his
attention, came within the scope of his new duties.

Mr. Jay was among the first of our statesmen to perceive the defects of
the confederation, and to urge the necessity of a new and more efficient
system of government. Besides his contributions to the Federalist, he
wrote an address to the people of New-York, then the very citadel of the
opposition to the proposed Constitution, which had no unimportant effect
in securing its adoption. In the State Convention, which had assembled
with only eleven out of fifty-seven members in its favor, Jay took a
most influential part, and mainly owing to his exertions was it finally
ratified. At the commencement of the administration of Washington, he
was invited by that great man to select his own post in the newly-formed
government. He was accordingly appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, and well did he justify, in his new capacity, the glowing
eulogium of Webster, that "when the spotless ermine of the judicial robe
fell on John Jay it touched nothing less spotless than itself." In the
performance of his duties as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court, much was accomplished by him in organizing the business of the
court, expounding the principles of its decisions, and in commending
them to a confederacy of sovereign States, already sufficiently jealous
of its extensive but beneficent jurisdiction. His decision in the novel
case of a suit instituted against the State of Georgia by a citizen of
another State, is a memorable instance of his firmness and judicial

The year 1794 opened with every prospect of a disastrous war between
Great Britain and the United States. The Revolution did not terminate
without leaving in the minds of Americans a strong and perhaps an
unreasonable antipathy to the mother country, which was stimulated by
the unwise interference of Genet, the French minister, in our politics,
and by the exertions of a large class of British refugees, who had
escaped to our country still smarting under the oppressions which they
had experienced at home, and who were extremely desirous of plunging the
American government into the contest which was then raging between
France and England. There were also certain substantial grievances
universally admitted by our citizens, which would give some countenance
to such a measure on the part of America. Among these were enumerated
the detention in violation of the treaty of the posts on our western
frontier by British garrisons, thereby excluding the navigation by
Americans of the great lakes, the refusal to make compensation for the
negroes carried away during the war by the British fleet, the exclusion
and capture of American vessels carrying supplies to French ports, and
the seizure of our ships in the exercise of the pretended right of
search. These, and other outrages, were justified by Great Britain, on
the ground of certain equivalent infractions of the treaty by the
American nation. Washington however could not be induced to consent to
hazard the national interests, by transgressing that neutrality so
necessary to a young republic only just recovering from the severe
experience of a seven years' war, and he saw no other honorable means of
averting the impending danger than the appointment of a special envoy,
empowered to adjust the matters in dispute. For this purpose, on his
nomination, Mr. Jay was confirmed on the 20th of April, 1794, by the
Senate, as Minister to England, at which country he arrived in June of
that year. The treaty was signed in November following, and the
negotiations of the two ministers, Lord Grenville and Mr. Jay, were
greatly facilitated by their mutual esteem and the good understanding
existing between them; and their correspondence, which was characterized
by signal ability on both sides, affords an instance of diplomatic
straightforwardness and candor almost without a parallel in history. It
as not consistent with the plan of our sketch to speak of the provisions
of the treaty thus secured: it was not, in all respects, what Jay, or
the country desired; but in view of the immense advantages to our
commerce obtained by it, the complicated and delicate questions
adjusted, and the disasters which would have befallen the nation had it
been defeated, it will challenge comparison with any subsequent
international arrangement to which the United States have been a party.
Yet, incredible as would seem, the abuse and scurrility with which both
it and its author were loaded, discloses one of the most disgraceful
chapters in the records of political fanaticism. By an eminent member of
the opposing party, he was declared to have perpetrated "an infamous
act," an act "stamped with avarice and corruption." He himself was
termed "a damned arch-traitor," "sold to Great Britain," and the treaty
burned before his door. Enjoying the confidence of the illustrious
Washington, and of the wisest and best men of his country, in his
course, and above all, the inward assurance of his unswerving rectitude,
Jay might well forgive these ebullitions of party spleen and await the
sanction which has been conferred on his actions by the impartial voice
of posterity.

But no statesman of that time had, on the whole, less reason to complain
of popular ingratitude than Jay; before he reached his native shore, a
large majority of the people of New-York had expressed their approbation
of his conduct by electing him to the office of Governor. While in this
office, the appropriate close of his public career, besides suggesting
many useful measures in regard to education and internal improvements,
the benefits of which are experienced to this day, he had the happiness
of promoting and witnessing the passage by the Legislature of the act
for the gradual abolition of slavery in his native State. Of this
measure he was one of the earliest advocates, having served as the first
President of the Society of Manumission, which had been organized in
1786 by a number of the most respectable gentlemen in New-York, and to
whose disinterested exertions the success of the anti-slavery cause was
mainly due. On accepting the seat tendered to him in the Supreme Court,
Jay, fearing that the presidency of the society might prove an
embarrassment in the decision of some questions which might come before
him, resigned the office and was succeeded by Hamilton, who continued to
discharge its duties till the year 1793.

At the expiration of his second gubernatorial term in 1801, Jay,
contrary to the importunities of his friends, retired from public life,
having, for twenty-seven years, faithfully served his country in every
department of legislative, diplomatic, and judicial trust. Declining the
office of Chief Justice, which was again pressed by the President upon
his acceptance, he prepared to enjoy that congenial seclusion under the
shade of his patrimonial trees, which, through all the varied and
agitating scenes of political life, had been the object of his most
ardent desires. In accordance with this design, he had built a
substantial house at Bedford, about forty-four miles from New-York, on
an estate embracing some eight hundred acres, which had come to him by
inheritance. Here, in one of the most delightful localities in the
fertile county of Westchester, in the care of his family and estates, in
the society of his friends and his books, in the discharge of the duties
of neighborly benevolence, and in the preparation for those immortal
scenes which he had reason to suppose would soon open upon him, he
passed the tranquil remainder of his days. But his enjoyments were not
destined to exempt him from those bitter but universal visitations,
which, at times, overthrow the happiness and frustrate the most pleasing
anticipations of our race. In less than twelve months after his
retirement, the partner of his joys and sorrows, who, by her
accomplishments, her unobtrusive virtues and solicitous affection, had
been at once his delight and support, was taken from him. At the final
hour, Jay, as the biographer tells us, stood by the bedside "calm and
collected," and when the spirit had taken its departure, led his
children to an adjoining room, and with "a firm voice but glistening
eye" read that inspiring and wonderful chapter in which Paul has
discussed the mystery of our future resurrection.

Considering its natural advantages and its connection by railway with
the great metropolis, Bedford, the ancient half shire town of
Westchester County, can hardly be praised on the score of its
"progressive" tendencies. At the time of Jay's residence there, the
mail-coach from New-York, employing two long days in the journey,
visited the town once a week, and even now the locomotive which thunders
through it perhaps a dozen times a day, hardly disturbs its rural
quietude. It may, however, claim considerable distinction in the annals
of Indian warfare, for, within its limits, on the southern side of
Aspetong Mountain, is still pointed out the scene of a bloody conflict
between the savages and the redoubtable band of Captain Underhill, in
which the latter coming suddenly at night on a village of their foes,
slaughtered them without mercy to the number of five hundred; "the
Lord," as the record goes, "having collected the most of our enemies
there, to celebrate some festival." Bedford was formerly under the
jurisdiction of Connecticut, and the apparent thrift and independent
bearing of its farming population are decided indications of their New
England descent. Its situation is uncommonly pleasant and healthful, and
although the surface of the country is somewhat rocky and uneven, the
soil is excellently adapted for agricultural purposes. The higher
grounds display an abundant growth of all varieties of oak, elm, ash,
linden, chestnut, walnut, locust, and tulip trees, while its fertile
valleys and its sunny hillside exposures furnish ample spaces for
pasturage or cultivation. A number of beautiful streams water the
meadows, of which the two largest, the Cisco or Beaver Dam, and Cross
River, after flowing for a long distance separately, just before leaving
the town, wisely conclude to unite their forces and bear a generous
tribute to the waters of the Croton. The Beaver Dam derives its name
from having once been the favorite haunt of the beavers, who in former
times found a plentiful sustenance in the bark of the willows, maples
and birches which still linger on its banks.

The traveller who wishes to survey the mansion of "the good old
governor," as Mr. Jay is still called by those villagers who remember
his liberality and benevolent interest in their welfare, leaves the
Harlem railroad at Katona, the northwest portion of the town, so called
from the name of the Indian chief, who formerly claimed dominion of this
part of the country, and proceeds in a southeasterly direction along a
road somewhat winding and hilly, tiresome enough certainly to the
pedestrian, but occasionally relieving him with exhilarating prospects
on either side of farmhouses with well-stored and ample barns, wooded
hills with green intervales, waving fields of grain, and pastures of
well-fed, contemplative cattle, who shake their heads as if their
meditations were a little disturbed by his presence. Every thing about
the farms has the aspect of good order and thrift, and nothing mars the
general impression except the occasional sight of some happy family of
swine, who appear to exercise a sort of right of eminent domain among
the weeds and roots on the roadside. A snow-white sow with thirty
snow-white young, according to an ancient poet, was the immediate
inducement to Æneas in selecting the site of his future city; whether
such an attraction would prove equally potent in our own times, is more
questionable. As one approaches the estate of Jay, the marks of superior
taste and cultivation are apparent; the stone walls are more neatly and
compactly built, and the traveller is refreshed by the grateful shade of
the long rows of maples and elms which were planted along the road by
Jay and his descendants, some of whom still make their summer residence
in Bedford. After proceeding for two or three miles from the railroad
station, we turn up a shaded avenue on the left, which winds round the
southern slope of the hill, at the top of which stands the modest
mansion of John Jay. This is a dark brown wooden two-storied building,
facing the southwest, with an addition of one story at each end, the
main building having a front of forty-five feet, along which is extended
a porch of ample dimensions. Passing through the hall we find in the
rear a background of magnificent woods, principally oak and chestnut,
though nearer the house are a number of gigantic willows still
flourishing in the strength and verdure of youth. Concealed in the
foliage of these woods, a little to the west, is the small school-house
of stone erected by Jay for his children, and on the other side of the
mansion, towards the northeast, are the barns, carriage-house, and the
farm-house, occupied by a tenant, who has supervision of the estate.
These tenements are almost screened from view by a grove of locust
trees, for which Jay showed a special partiality, and whose snow-white
robe of blossoms in the latter part of spring affords a pleasing
contrast with the light green of the tasselled chestnuts, and the dark
and glossy shade of the oak and walnut foliage behind. In front of the
barn, on the eastern side of the house, is the garden, which, though not
making any pretension to superiority in its extent or its cultivation,
displays an excellent variety of fruits and flowers, for the most part,
such as thrive easily in that soil, and are most useful and appropriate
to the wants of an American household. Jay, though for his period
uncommonly versed in horticultural matters, did not, in his
old-fashioned simplicity, choose to waste much time in transplanting
those contumacious productions of foreign countries which "never will in
other climates grow." Ascending the hill a short distance, we come again
to the house, immediately in front of which, without obstructing the
view, stands a row of four handsome lindens. Before the dwelling, which
is nearly half a mile from the main road, stretches the green lawn
irregularly diversified with groups of trees, and beyond is seen the
sightly ridge of "Deer's Delight," once the resort of the beautiful
animal from which it takes its designation; and certainly the choice of
such a delectable locality would have done credit to creatures far more
reasonable. This spot is crowned with the elegant country-seat of Mr.
John Jay, a grandson of the Chief Justice, who, in taking advantage of
its natural beauties, and adapting it to the purposes of his residence,
has shown a degree of taste which has rarely been surpassed. On the
western slope, which is somewhat more abrupt than the others, is the
orchard, and from a thatched arbor on the brink of the descent, the eye
surveys a large part of that circle of hills in which Bedford appears to
be almost inclosed. A most enchanting rural landscape is here spread
out, embracing a wide extent of country dotted with thriving farms and
villages, graceful declivities wandered over by numerous herds of
cattle, valleys and pellucid streams, glimmering at intervals from thick
and overshadowing foliage. Further towards the west is the long line of
hills just shutting off the view of the Hudson, and overlooked by the
still loftier range of the highlands on the other side of the river,
conspicuous among which towers the Dunderberg or bread-tray mountain.
From this spot the magnificent variations of sunset are seen to great
advantage. No man endowed with the least susceptibility to the charm of
outward nature, can contemplate without enthusiasm the broad suffusion
of crimson blazing along those western hills, gradually passing into
orange and purple; and finally closing with a deep glowing brown, while
the clear brilliant sky above pales and darkens at the almost
imperceptible coming on of night.

The interior arrangements of the house have not been essentially varied
since the lifetime of its first illustrious occupant. They all bear
marks of that republican simplicity and unerring good taste which were
among his distinguishing characteristics. The furniture, though of the
best materials, was obviously chosen more for use than ornament, and is
noticeable chiefly for an air of antique respectability and comfort,
which, in spite of the perpetually changing fancies in such matters, can
never go out of fashion. On the right of the hall, as one enters, is the
dining-room, an apartment of perhaps some twenty feet square; in this
and in the parlor opposite, which has about the same dimensions, are
several interesting family portraits, the works mostly of Stewart and
Trumbull, among which are those of Egbert Benson, Judge Hobart, Peter
Jay, John Jay, and Augustus Jay, the first American ancestor of the
family, the artist of which is unknown. Passing through the parlor, we
enter the small room at the west end of the house, occupied as a
library, and containing a well-assorted but not extensive supply of
books. Here were the weighty folios of Grotius, Puffendorf, Vattel, and
other masters of the science of international law, besides a number of
standard theological and miscellaneous works, with the classic authors
of antiquity, among whom Cicero appears to have been his special
favorite. In the library hangs a portrait of Governor Livingston, the
father-in-law of Jay; a vigorous manly boy, the characteristics of whose
youthful features have been retained with singular distinctness in those
of his descendants. He is represented as dressed in the full-sleeved
coat and elaborate costume of his time, and with a sword hanging at his
side, an outfit hardly in accordance with so tender an age. The oaken
press and strong-bound chest of cherry wood are also in this room, the
latter the receptacle perhaps of Jay's important papers;--these ancient
heirlooms are presumed to have crossed the ocean more than a century and
a half ago.

Notwithstanding the infirmities of the last twenty years of his life,
Jay enjoyed an old age of remarkable tranquillity and happiness. He set
an example of undeviating punctuality; the hour and the man always came
together, and in his habits he was extremely regular. In order to assist
him in rising early, an aperture, shaped like the crescent moon, was
made in the solid oaken shutter of his apartment, by which a glimpse
might be caught of the first rays of the uprising dawn. The reading of
prayers was succeeded by breakfast, after which the greater part of the
day was commonly spent in attending to the affairs of his extensive
farm. Most of the time when thus engaged, he rode on the back of a
favorite sorrel mare, of the famous Narraganset breed, now extinct. This
faithful creature died in 1819, after a service of twenty-three years.
Two of the same stock belonging to Mr. Jay had died in succession
previously, the grandam having been given by his father in 1765. It was
probably of the latter animal that he wrote from Europe in 1783, under
the apprehension that she might have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

"If my old mare is alive, I must beg of you and my brother to take good
care of her. I mean that she should be well fed and live idle, unless my
brother Peter should choose to use her. If it should be necessary to
advance money to recover her, I am content you should do it even to the
amount of double her value."

At half-past one came the dinner hour, after which he was wont to
indulge moderately in smoking. A few of his long clay pipes are still
preserved. They were imported for him from abroad, and were considered
in their time an unusually select and valuable article. His evenings
were devoted to reading and the company of his family and neighbors.
Once or twice a year, Judge Benson, Peter Jay, Monroe, or some other old
friend, would take a journey to his hospitable home to pass a week in
living over, in conversation, their long and varied experience, and
occasionally some stranger from foreign lands, attracted by his
wide-spread reputation, would receive at his hands a cordial yet
unostentatious welcome. Though possessed of a large landed property from
which he enjoyed a respectable income, his family expenses and the
management of his estate were regulated by a judicious and liberal
economy. Remarkably affectionate in his disposition and solicitous for
the welfare of his children, his demeanor towards them was marked with
unvarying equability and decision. An extract from a letter to Mrs. Jay,
dated London, 5th Dec., 1794, illustrates his views on this head:

"I hope N---- will amuse herself sometimes with her spinning-wheel. God
only knows what may one day be her situation. Polite accomplishments
merit attention, useful knowledge should not be neglected. Let us do the
best we can with, and for our children, and commit them to the
protection and guidance of Providence."

By his servants, his poorer neighbors, and all who were in any way
dependent on him, he was reverenced and loved. He promptly and liberally
responded to all movements calculated to promote the general good. In
one instance of this kind, he showed an adroitness in his beneficence
which is somewhat amusing. The townspeople were about to erect a
school-house, and it was apprehended that from mistaken considerations
of economy, the building would be less substantial in its construction
than was desirable. When, therefore, the subscription list was presented
to Jay, he put down a liberal sum against his name "if of wood, if of
stone, _double_." Another example occurs in his dealings with his less
fortunate neighbors, evincing the union of austere and inflexible regard
for public justice with the most sensitive sympathy with individual
suffering, which is cited in Professor McVicar's appreciative and
eloquent sketch of Jay's life. The case referred to is that of "a poor
blacksmith in his neighborhood, who had encroached with his building on
the public highway, and refused to recede; Jay prosecuted him to the
extreme rigor of the law, and having duly punished the _offender_,
proceeded to make it up tenfold to the _poor man_ by deeding to him an
acre or two of ground from his own farm, in order that his necessities
might be no plea for any further breach of the law."

A pleasing reminiscence of Jay has been told by the son of the recipient
of his bounty, a poor widow, whose utmost exertions were barely
sufficient for the support of her family. Some time after the Governor's
death, she received a note from Mr. William Jay, the occupant of the old
mansion, requesting her to visit him as he had some pleasant news for
her. In great perplexity as to the nature of the promised communication,
the good woman complied, and on arriving at the house, was thus
addressed by that gentleman: "My father, before he died, requested to be
buried in the plainest manner; 'by so doing,' said he, 'there will be a
saving of about two hundred dollars which I wish you to give to some
poor widow whom you and your sister may consider most worthy, and I wish
you to get the silver money and count it out now,' and," continued Mr.
Jay, "my sister and I have selected you and here is the money." The
gratitude of the widow found no answer but in tears as she bore away the
treasure to her dwelling. The recollection of deeds like these is the
imperishable inheritance which Jay has left to his descendants, and it
is a distinction besides which mere heraldic honors fade into
insignificance, that, from the beginning to this day, the great name of
Jay has been inseparably linked with the cause of the neglected and
oppressed against the encroachments of unscrupulous power.

The personal appearance of Jay, at the age of forty-four, is thus
described by Mr. Sullivan: "He was a little less than five feet in
height, his person rather thin but well formed. His complexion was
without color, his eyes black and penetrating, his nose aquiline, and
his chin pointed. His hair came over his forehead, was tied behind and
lightly powdered. His dress black. When standing, he was a little
inclined forward, as is not uncommon with students long accustomed to
bend over a table." With the exception of the mistake as to the color of
his eyes, which were blue and not black, this is probably an accurate
picture. But it gives no idea of the blended dignity and courtesy which
were apparent in his features and his habitual bearing, to a degree,
says a venerable informant, never witnessed in any other man of that
time. His general appearance of reserve was sometimes misconstrued by
those who were little acquainted with him into haughtiness. This was
undoubtedly native, in some measure, to his character, but much, we have
reason to suppose, existed more in appearance than in reality, and was
the unavoidable expression of one long and intensely engaged in affairs
of great moment,

    "Deep on whose front engraved
  Deliberation sat, and public cares."

Not without a keen sense of the ludicrous, he rarely indulged in jocose
remarks; yet he is said, at times, when much importuned for certain
information or opinions which he did not care to reveal, to have shown a
peculiarly shrewd humor in his replies, which baffled without irritating
the inquirer. Perhaps a delicate piece of advice was never given in more
skilfully worded and unexceptionable phraseology than in his answer to a
confidential letter from Lord Grenville, inquiring as to the expediency
of removing Mr. Hammond, the British Minister at Washington, who, for
some reason or other, had become extremely distasteful to the government
there. As Mr. Hammond was a personal friend to Jay, the inquiry was
naturally embarrassing, but he still deemed it his duty to advise the
minister's recall. Accordingly, in his reply, after first declaring his
friendship for Mr. Hammond and his entire confidence in that gentleman's
ability and integrity, he refers to the unhappy diplomatic difficulties
of that gentleman, and concludes by saying, "Hence I cannot forbear
wishing that Mr. Hammond _had a better place_, and that a person well
adapted to the existing state of things was sent to succeed him."

As William Penn said of George Fox, Mr. Jay was "civil beyond all forms
of breeding;" the natural refinement and purity of his disposition were
expressed in his appearance and manners, and perhaps we might apply with
propriety the remainder of Penn's description:--"He was a man whom God
endowed with a clear and wonderful depth,--a discoverer of other men's
spirits and very much the master of his own. The reverence and solemnity
of his demeanor and the fewness and fulness of his words often struck
strangers with admiration." In his character, the qualities of wisdom,
decision, truthfulness, and justice held a supreme and unquestioned
sway. Under their direction, he was often led into measures which seemed
at first to hazard his own interests, as when at Paris he violated his
congressional instructions for the benefit of his country; but these
measures were adopted with such deliberation, and pursued with so
unhesitating perseverance that their results invariably justified the
course he had taken. The three most important concessions ever gained by
America from foreign countries, the concessions which now our country
most values and would be least willing to surrender, namely, the
Navigation of the Mississippi, the Participation in the British
Fisheries and the Trade with the West Indies, are due almost solely to
the foresight, the diplomatic ability and the firmness of John Jay. When
we consider the comparative insensibility of Congress at that time, and
the country at large, to the incalculable value of these rights, we may
feel assured that had America sent abroad an agent of different
character, the wily diplomatists of Europe would have found little
difficulty in wresting them from us. Jay was moreover a man of deep and
fervent piety--not that merely occasional ecstasy of devotional feeling,
which, although perfectly sincere, is compatible with an habitual
violation of all laws human and divine, but a constant sense of
responsibility to a Supreme Being for every action of his life, under
which he labored

  "As ever in the Great Taskmaster's eye."

It was this combination of attributes, "inviting confidence, yet
inspiring respect," setting him apart from other men, yet drawing the
multitude after him, that accounts for the constantly recurring demands
upon his public services. The people felt that they could trust a man
whose patriotism was not a temporary passion, but a well-defined and
immovable principle, and they were never disappointed. In the complete
harmony of his moral and intellectual qualities, so wholly free from the
disturbing influence of painful and dangerous eccentricities and the
considerations of self, he approached nearer than any other statesman of
his age to the majestic character of Washington, and on no one of his
illustrious coadjutors did that great man place so uniform and so
unhesitating a reliance.

Jay had already exceeded the longest period allotted by the psalmist to
the life of man, in the enjoyment of all those satisfactions which
comfortable outward circumstances, the affection of friends and kindred,
and the honor and reverence of a country whose vast and still enlarging
prosperity were so much due to his exertions, can supply, when he
received the unmistakable premonitions of his end. On the 17th of May,
1828, having previously summoned the numerous members of the family to
his bedside, and having bestowed on each his parting advice and
benediction, he resigned his soul to the care of its Maker; and now, in
the quiet grave-yard at Rye, near the spot where he passed the early
years of his life, repose the august remains of John Jay.


[Illustration: Ball Hughes' Statue of Hamilton]


We have not the means of presenting a sketch of Hamilton's birth-place,
or of the incidents of his early life before he became a resident in
this country; and so much of his subsequent life was spent in the camp
and in the service of his country, wherever that service required him to
be, that he can hardly be said to have had a "Home" until a few years
before his splendid career was so suddenly and mournfully closed.

He was born in the year 1756, in the Island of St. Nevis, one of the
British West Indian possessions, whither his father, a native of
Scotland, had gone with the purpose of engaging in mercantile pursuits;
and he was himself at the early age of twelve, placed in the
counting-house of an opulent merchant, in one of the neighboring
islands. But such a situation was ill suited to his disposition; and his
ambition, even at that early period of his life, strongly developed,
could not find in those narrow colonies a sufficient field for its
exercise. The wishes of his friends favored his own inclinations, and he
was sent to New-York, that he might avail himself of the more ample
facilities for acquiring an education which that place and its vicinity

He went through with the studies preparatory to entering college at a
school in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, which was under the patronage of
Governor Livingston and Mr. Boudinot, in the former of whose families he
resided. He soon qualified himself for admission to King's (now
Columbia) College, and was then permitted to pursue a course of study
which he had marked out for himself, without becoming a member of any
particular class. At this early period he evinced those traits of
character which afterwards conducted him to such high distinction, and
which marked his career throughout. He brought to his tasks not only
that diligence which is often exhibited by more ordinary minds, but that
enthusiastic devotion of the soul, which was perhaps the most marked
trait of his character.

It was while he was yet in college, that the disputes between the
colonies and the mother country, just preliminary to the breaking out of
hostilities, arose; but they even then engaged his earnest attention. It
is probable that the tendency of his mind at that time, as in the later
period of his life, was towards conservative views; and indeed he has
himself said "that he had, at first, entertained strong prejudices on
the ministerial side." But a mind so investigating and a spirit so
generous as his would not be likely to entertain such prejudices long;
and having made a visit to Boston and become excited by the tone of
public feeling in that city, he directed his attention to the real
merits of the controversy, and this, aided perhaps by the natural order
of his temperament, produced in him a thorough conviction of the justice
of the American cause. With his characteristic earnestness, he threw
himself at once into the contest, and while but eighteen years of age he
addressed a public meeting upon the subject of the wrongs inflicted by
the mother country, and acquitted himself in a manner which amazed and
delighted his hearers, and drew to him the public attention.

A meeting of the citizens of New-York had been called to consider upon
the choice of delegates to the first Congress. A large concourse of
people assembled, and the occasion was long remembered as "the great
meeting in the fields." Hamilton was then, of course, comparatively
unknown, but some of his neighbors having occasion to remark his
contemplative habits and the vigor and maturity of his thoughts, urged
him to address the multitude, and after some hesitation he consented.

"The novelty of the attempt, his slender and diminutive form, awakened
curiosity and arrested attention. Overawed by the scene before him, he
at first hesitated and faltered, but as he proceeded almost
unconsciously to utter his accustomed reflections, his mind warmed with
the theme, his energies were recovered; and after a discussion, clear,
cogent, and novel, of the great principles involved in the controversy,
he depicted in glowing colors the long continued and long endured
oppressions of the mother country. He insisted on the duty of
resistance, pointed out the means and certainty of success, and
described the waves of rebellion sparkling with fire and washing back
upon the shores of England the wrecks of her power, her wealth, and her
glory. The breathless silence ceased as he closed, and the whispered
murmur--'it is a collegian, it is a collegian,' was lost in expressions
of wonder and applause at the extraordinary eloquence of the young

About the same time he published anonymously two pamphlets in reply to
publications emanating from the ministerial party, and in vindication of
the measures of the American Congress. The powerful and eloquent manner
in which the topics in controversy were discussed, excited great
attention. The authorship of the pamphlets was attributed by some to
Governor Livingston and by others to John Jay, and these contributed to
give to those gentlemen, already distinguished, an increased celebrity;
and when it was ascertained that the youthful Hamilton was the author of
them, the public could scarcely credit the fact.

Upon the actual breaking out of hostilities, Hamilton immediately
applied himself to the study of military science, and obtained from the
State of New-York a commission as captain of a company of artillery. His
conduct at once attracted the observing eye of Washington, who soon
invited him to become one of his staff with the commission of Lieutenant

Hamilton accepted the offer, and for the space of four years remained in
the family of Washington, enjoying his unlimited confidence, carrying on
a large portion of his correspondence, and aiding him in the conduct of
the most important affairs. A hasty word from the latter led to a
rupture of this connection, and Hamilton left the staff and resumed his
place as an officer in the line; but Washington's confidence in him was
not in the least impaired, and their friendship continued warm and
sincere until the death of the latter.

In thus separating himself from the family of the Commander-in-Chief,
Hamilton was influenced by other motives than displeasure at the conduct
of Washington. He knew that great man too well, and loved him too well,
to allow a hasty word of rebuke to break up an attachment which had
begun at the breaking out of the war, and which a familiar intercourse
of four years, an ardent love of the cause, and a devotion to it common
to them both had deepened and confirmed. But the duties of a secretary
and adviser, important as they then were, were not adequate to call
forth all his various powers, and the performance of them, however
skilful, was not sufficient to satisfy that love of glory which he so
fondly cherished. He was born to act in whatever situation he might be
placed a first rate part. He longed to distinguish himself in the
battles as well as in the councils of the war. He felt that his country
had need of his arm as well as of his pen; and thus the dictates of
patriotism, which he never in the course of his life allowed to stand
separate from the promptings of his high ambition, pointed out to him
the course he took. He would not, of his own motion, leave the immediate
services of Washington; but when the opportunity was presented by the
latter, he at once embraced it, and would not be persuaded by any
considerations to return to his former place.

A short time previous to his leaving the family of Washington he had
formed an engagement with the second daughter of Gen. Philip Schuyler,
of New-York, to whom he was married on the 14th of December, 1780, at
the residence of her father at Albany, and thus became permanently
established in New-York. His union with this lady was one of unbroken
happiness, and at a venerable age she still survives him.

His rank in the army was soon after advanced, and an opportunity for
exhibiting his military skill and prowess, which he had so ardently
wished for, was shortly presented. The falling fortunes of the British
army in the south, under Lord Cornwallis, invited an attack in that
quarter. The combined French and American forces were fast closing up
every avenue of retreat, and the British commander finding that to avoid
a general engagement was impossible, at last intrenched himself at
Yorktown with the determination of making a final stand against the
victorious progress of the American arms. In the decisive battle which
succeeded, Hamilton signalized himself by a most brilliant achievement.
Two redoubts in the fortifications of the enemy were to be carried in
face of a most destructive fire. The attack upon one of them was
assigned to a detachment of the French troops, and that upon the other
to a division of the American forces. The command of the latter, at his
earnest request, was given to Hamilton. At the appointed signal he "gave
the order to advance at the point of the bayonet, pushed forward, and
before the rest of the corps had ascended the abatis, mounted over it,
stood for a moment on the parapet with three of his soldiers,
encouraging the others to follow, and sprung into the ditch. The
American infantry, animated by the address and example of their leader,
pressed on with muskets unloaded and fixed bayonets. They soon reached
the counterscarp under a heavy and constant fire from the redoubt, and,
surmounting the abatis, ditch, and palisades, mounted the parapet and
leaped into the work. Hamilton, who had pressed forward, followed by the
rear-guard under Mansfield, was for a time lost sight of, and it was
feared he had fallen; but he soon reappeared, formed the troops in the
redoubt, and as soon as it surrendered gave the command to Major Fish.

"The impetuosity of the attack carried all before it, and within nine
minutes from the time the abatis was passed the work was gained."[14]
This brilliant exploit received the decisive commendation of Washington.
"Few cases," said he, "have exhibited greater proofs of intrepidity,
coolness, and firmness than were shown on this occasion."

The battle of Yorktown decided the event of the war of the Revolution.
The profession of a soldier could no longer give sufficient scope to the
restless activity of Hamilton; although then occupying a distinguished
place among the most illustrious of his countrymen, and yielding, though
not without regret, his arms for the _toga_, he selected for his future
employment the profession of the law--a pursuit for which his general
studies and the character of his mind, as well as his inclination,
eminently fitted him.

From the period of his admission to the bar until the assembling of the
convention which framed the constitution under which we now live, his
time and labors were divided between the practice of his profession and
the service of the public in various capacities. Of the convention he
was chosen a member, and he brought to the performance of his duties in
that body the purest patriotism, and abilities unsurpassed, if indeed
equalled, in that assembly of illustrious men. He took from the outset a
most conspicuous part in its deliberations, throwing upon every
important subject which was discussed, the blended lights of his genius,
experience, and learning. As the sessions of the convention were held in
secret, we have but an imperfect knowledge of its proceedings; and the
meagre and fragmentary reports which we possess of the speeches which
were delivered in it give us a very inadequate notion of the masterly
efforts of Hamilton. But the testimony of his associates in the
convention, and the imperfect records we have of its deliberations, join
in ascribing to him a foremost place; and an impartial student of our
constitution and history, himself a profound statesman and philosopher,
M. Guizot, has said that there is in our political system scarcely an
element of order and durability for which we are not in a great measure
indebted to the genius of Hamilton. Indeed he was the very first to
point out the radical defects in the old confederation, and the absolute
necessity of a government based upon a different foundation, and
invested with more ample powers. The restoration of the public credit,
the creation of a currency, the promotion of commerce, the preservation
of the public faith with foreign countries, the general
tranquillity--these were topics which he had discussed in all their
relations long before the meeting of the convention, and he had early
arrived at the conclusion that these great ends were to be reached in no
other way than by the establishment of a NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, emanating
directly from the people at large, sovereign in its own sphere, and
responsible to the people alone for the manner in which its powers were
executed. In the Constitution, when it was presented for adoption,
Hamilton saw some objectionable features. These he had opposed in the
convention; but finding that such opposition was likely to throw
obstacles in the way of any final agreement, and reorganizing in the
instrument proposed to be adopted the essential features of his own
plan, and wisely regarding it as the best scheme that could unite the
varying opinions of men, he patriotically withdrew his opposition and
gave it his hearty assent.

Hamilton was chosen a member of the convention which met at Poughkeepsie
to consider the question of ratifying it, and he urged the adoption of
it in a series of masterly speeches, which powerfully contributed to its
final ratification. At the same time, in conjunction with Madison and
Jay, he was engaged in the composition of those immortal papers, which,
under the name of the "Federalist," exercised at the time such a potent
influence, and which have even since been received as authoritative
commentaries upon the instrument, the wisdom and expediency of which
they so eloquently and successfully vindicated. In view of the
extraordinary exertions of Hamilton in behalf of the Constitution, both
with his tongue and pen, and of the fact that if New-York had rejected
it, it would probably have failed to receive the sanction of a
sufficient number of States, we think that it may without injustice to
others be said, that for the ratification of our Constitution we are
more indebted to the labors of Hamilton than to those of any other
single man.

When the new government went into operation with Washington at its head,
Hamilton was called to fill what was then the most important place in
the cabinet, that of Secretary of the Treasury. He then addressed
himself to the task of carrying out the great purpose for which the
Constitution was adopted--a task, the successful accomplishment of which
rested more in the skilful administration of the Treasury department
than that of any office under government; for upon this hung the great
issues of the currency and the public credit. With what ability he
executed his great trust in the face of a powerful and most virulent
opposition, the event has fully shown. The system of finance which he
concocted and applied has been adhered to without substantial change
throughout the subsequent history of the government, and well justifies
the magnificent eulogy which Webster has bestowed upon its author. "He
smote the rock of the national resources, and abundant streams of
revenue gushed forth. He touched the dead corpse of the Public Credit,
and it sprung upon its feet. The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain
of Jove was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system
of the United States, as it burst forth from the conceptions of

From the Treasury department he returned to the practice of his
profession, and the calmer walks of private life; but his love for his
country and the anxiety he felt for her welfare would not permit him to
relinquish the prominent place he held as the leader of the Federal
party. He regarded with great distrust and apprehension the principles
and the practices of the rapidly increasing Democratic party. Many of
its leaders he believed to be destitute of principle, and he spared no
exertions in opposing them, and in endeavoring to stay the progress of
radical opinions, and to infuse a spirit of moderation and wisdom into
the politics of the nation.

He was now in the prime of life. A practice in his profession at that
time without parallel in extent and importance, afforded him an abundant
income, and held out a prospect of a competent fortune. He therefore
retired from the city, purchased a beautiful spot in the upper part of
the island of New-York, and there built the tasteful residence of which
an engraving is prefixed to this sketch, and which of the many places
where he resided may most appropriately be called his "Home." It is, we
believe, the only house in New-York, in which he lived, that is now
standing. Of the one in the island of St. Nevis, in which he was born,
we have never seen any representation or description. During a small
portion of his college life, he resided with Mr. Hercules Mulligan in
Water-street; but the house was long since torn down.

After the close of the war, and during the first years of his practice
at the bar, Hamilton occupied a house in Wall-street, nearly opposite
the "Federal Hall," the site of the present Custom House. It was on the
outer balcony of Federal Hall that Washington took the oath of
inauguration upon his first election, and Hamilton, with a party of his
friends, witnessed that imposing ceremony from the balcony of his own
house. This building has, with most others of its time, been taken down,
and a new one erected in its place to accommodate that mighty march of
commercial enterprise which is fast sweeping away the last vestiges
which mark the dwelling-places of the last generation.

The spot which Hamilton selected for his "Home," and to which he gave
the name of "Grange," from that of the residence of his grandfather in
Ayrshire, Scotland, was chosen with taste and judgment, both on account
of its natural beauty, and the interesting and inspiring recollections
which its vicinity suggested. It was, at that time, completely in the
country, without an object to remind one of the neighborhood of the
town; and even now the population of the city, so prodigiously expanded,
has not much encroached upon its original limits. It is situated upon
the old King's Bridge road, about eight miles from the heart of the
city, and something less than a mile above the ancient village of
Manhattan, and is about midway between the Hudson River on the one side
and the Harlem on the other. The west side, which lies on the King's
Bridge road, is adorned by a fine growth of large shade trees. From
these it extends with gentle undulations to a declivity, at the base of
which lie the Harlem commons. The grounds are simply but tastefully laid
out, chiefly with a view to take advantage of and display the natural
features of the place. The house is situated nearly in the centre of the
grounds, and is reached by a gently-winding carriage-way. The stable is
placed in the rear of the house and at a distance from it, and is
concealed by a thick growth of trees. A gravelled walk winds among the
shade trees along the road, and thence across the grounds and along the
other side. The space in front and on the left of the house is laid out
in a fine lawn, in which the uneven surface of the ground is preserved,
dotted here and there with fine trees, the natural growth of the spot.
Near the house and on the left are thirteen flourishing gum trees, said
to have been left by Hamilton himself when clearing the spot, as an
emblem of the thirteen original States.

[Illustration: Residence of Alexander Hamilton, near
Manhattanville, N.Y.]

The house itself is in form nearly square, of moderate size and well
proportioned. The front is on the southern side; it is two stories in
height, exclusive of the basement, and would have been at the time it
was built a handsome and expensive one. The basement is used for
culinary purposes, and the first story, which contains the parlors, is
reached by a short flight of steps. You enter a commodious hall of a
pentagonal form. On either side is a small apartment, of which the one
on the right was the study, and contained the library of Hamilton. At
the end of the hall are the doors, one on the right and the other on the
left, which open into the parlors. These are of moderate size and
connected by doors, by opening which they are thrown into one large
room. The one on the right as you enter the house, is now, and probably
was when Hamilton occupied it, used as a dining-room. The other parlor
is furnished for the drawing-room. It is an octagon in form, of which
three sides are occupied by doors, leading to the hall in front, the
dining-room, and to a hall in the rear. In two of the opposite sides are
windows reaching to the floor, and opening upon the lawn on the easterly
side of the house. The three doors before mentioned are faced with
mirrors, and being directly opposite the windows, they throw back the
delightful landscape which appears through the latter with a pleasing
effect. The story above is commodious, and divided into the usual
apartments. On the north the prospect is interrupted by higher ground,
and on the south by trees. On the west a view is caught of the beautiful
shore of New Jersey, on the opposite side of the Hudson. From the
eastern side, and especially from the balcony which extends in front of
the windows of the drawing-room, a magnificent prospect is presented.
The elevation being some two hundred feet above the surrounding waters,
a complete view of the lower lands and of the country in the distance is
commanded. Harlem with its river, the East River and Long Island Sound
now dotted with a thousand sails, the fertile county of Westchester, and
Long Island stretching away to the horizon, with its lovely and
diversified scenery, are all in full view.

This spot has, and probably had for Hamilton, its attractions in another
respect. In its immediate neighbourhood were the scenes of some of the
memorable and interesting events of the Revolution. He had passed
directly over it with the American army in its retreat from New-York,
after the disastrous battle of Long Island. Within a short distance from
it are the Harlem Heights, where by his bravery and address, while yet
but a boy, he had attracted the eye of Washington, and enjoyed his first
interview with him. A little further towards the north is Fort
Washington, in which the continental army made its last stand upon the
island, and the loss of which sealed the fate of New-York for the war.
It was this fort which, in the ardor of his youthful enthusiasm and
burning with chagrin at its capture, he promised Washington he would
retake, if he would place a small and select detachment under his
command--an enterprise which the Commander-in-Chief thought too
hazardous. Just across the river on the Jersey side is Fort Lee, which
fell into the hands of the enemy soon after the capture of Fort
Washington; and a short distance above, in the King's Bridge road, is
the house which after the death of Hamilton became the residence of his
bitter and fatal antagonist, Aaron Burr.

When he had fixed his residence in this beautiful and attractive spot he
was in the prime of life, in excellent health, and in prosperous
circumstances. He had been most fortunate in his domestic relations, and
had around him a happy family to which he was fondly devoted. His
unrivalled natural powers had been exercised and improved by a training
of thirty years in the camp, the forum, the senate and the cabinet. He
was almost worshipped by his friends and his party, and regarded by all
as one of the very pillars of the State. Every thing in his situation
and circumstances seemed auspicious of a still long career of happiness
and honor to himself, of usefulness and honor to his country. But in the
midst of all this, he was suddenly cut off by the melancholy and fatal
duel with Col. Burr.

The public and private character of Burr, Hamilton had long known and
despised. He regarded him as a dangerous man, and one wholly unfit to
fill any office of trust or emolument. And this opinion, although
avoiding open controversy with Burr himself, he had not scrupled to
express privately to his own political friends, for the purpose of
dissuading them from giving any support to one so little to be depended
on. He recognized himself no other claim to political distinction than
honesty of purpose, the ability and the will to serve the country,
united with what he deemed to be sound political principles, neither of
which recommendations could he discover in Aaron Burr.

Burr had, on the other hand, few ends in life save his own advancement,
and he scrupled at no means by which this object might be compassed; but
in his most deeply laid schemes, he saw that the vigilant eye of
Hamilton was upon him, and after his defeat in 1804 as a candidate for
governor of the State of New-York, stung with mortification at his
overthrow, and justly deeming the influence of Hamilton as one of the
most potent causes of it, he resolved to fix a quarrel upon him. Seizing
upon an expression which was contained in a letter, published during the
recent political contest, but which had been forgotten by every one save
himself, he dragged it before Hamilton's attention, tortured it into an
imputation upon his personal honor, demanded of Hamilton an explanation
which it was impossible for him to give, and made his refusal the
pretext for a peremptory challenge.

In accepting the challenge of Burr, Hamilton was but little under the
influence of those motives which are commonly uppermost in such
contests. To the practice of duelling he was sincerely and upon
principle opposed, and had frequently borne his testimony against it.
His reputation for personal courage had been too often tried, and too
signally proved to be again put at risk. His passions, though strong,
were under his control, and that sensitiveness on the score of personal
honor, which a man of spirit naturally cherishes, and which the habits
of a military life rendered prompt and delicate, was in him satisfied by
a conscious integrity of purpose. His disposition was forgiving and
gentle to a fault, and made it impossible for him to feel any personal
ill will even towards such a man as Burr. The manifold obligations which
as an honest and conscientious man he was bound to regard--his duties to
a loved and dependent family, and his country, which held almost an
equal place in his affections, united to dissuade him from meeting his
adversary. And yet these latter, viewed in connection with his peculiar
position, with popular prejudices, and the circumstances of the times,
were what impelled him to his fatal resolution. His theoretic doubts
respecting a republican form of government, while they did not in the
least diminish his preference for our political system, yet made him
painfully anxious in regard to its success. He thought that every thing
depended upon keeping the popular mind free from the corruption of false
principles, and the offices of trust and honor out of the hands of bad
men. To these ends he had been, and still was, employing all his energy
and influence. He could not bear the thought of losing or weakening by
any step, however justifiable in itself, that influence which he had
reason to think was not exerted in vain. These were the large and
unselfish considerations which governed him; and though a cool observer
removed from the excitement and perplexities of the time may pronounce
them mistaken, still if impartial he must regard them as sincere. They
were what Hamilton himself, in full view of the solemnity of the step he
was about to take, and of the possible event of it, declared to be his
motive. "The ability," said he in the last paper he ever wrote, "to be
in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or effecting good in
those crises of our public affairs which seem likely to happen, would
probably be inseparable from a conformity with prejudice in this

After some fruitless endeavors on the part of Hamilton to convince Burr
of the unreasonableness of the request which the latter had made, all
explanations were closed, and the preliminaries for the meeting were
arranged. Hamilton having no wish to take the life of Burr, had come to
the determination to throw away his first shot,--a course too which
approved itself to his feelings for other reasons.

The grounds of Weehawk, on the Jersey shore opposite New-York, were at
that time the usual field of these single combats, then chiefly by the
inflamed state of political feeling of frequent occurrence, and very
seldom ending without bloodshed. The day having been fixed, and the hour
appointed at seven o'clock in the morning, the parties met, accompanied
only by their servants. The bargemen, as well as Dr. Hosack, the surgeon
mutually agreed upon, remained as usual at a distance, in order, if any
fatal result should occur, not to be witnesses. The parties having
exchanged salutations, the seconds measured the distance of ten paces,
loaded the pistols, made the other preliminary arrangements, and placed
the combatants. At the appointed signal, Burr took deliberate aim and
fired. The ball entered Hamilton's side, and as he fell, his pistol too
was unconsciously discharged. Burr approached him, apparently somewhat
moved, but on the suggestion of his second, the surgeon and bargemen
already approaching, he turned and hastened away, Van Ness coolly
covering him from their sight by opening an umbrella. The surgeon found
Hamilton half lying, half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms
of his second. The pallor of death was on his face. "Doctor," he said,
"this is a mortal wound;" and, as if overcome by the effort of speaking,
he swooned quite away. As he was carried across the river the fresh
breeze revived him. His own house being in the country, he was conveyed
at once to the house of a friend, where he lingered for twenty-four
hours in great agony, but preserving his composure and self-command to
the last.[16]

The melancholy event of the duel affected the whole country, and
New-York in particular, with the deepest indignation and grief. The
avenues to the house where Hamilton was carried before he expired, were
thronged with anxious citizens. His funeral was celebrated by a mournful
pageant, and an oration in Trinity Church by Governeur Morris, which
stirred up the people like the speech of Antony over the corpse of
Caesar, to a "sudden flood of mutiny." Burr, with an indictment for
murder hanging over him, fled secretly from the city to the South, where
he remained until the excitement had in a measure subsided. His wretched
end, and the place which history has assigned to him, leave room at
present for no other emotions save those of regret and pity. In the deep
gloom which the death of Hamilton occasioned, his political opponents
almost equally shared. In contemplating his character they seemed to
catch some portion of his own magnanimity, and the animosities of which
he had been so conspicuous an object, were swallowed up in the
conviction that a great and irreparable loss had fallen equally upon

There was not, we think, at that time, a life which might not have been
better spared than that of Hamilton. Certainly no man represented so
well as he, the character and the principles of Washington; and no man
was gifted with an array of qualities which better fitted him either as
a magistrate or a man to control aright the opinions and the actions of
a people like that of the United States. He was a man "built up on every
side." He had received from nature a most capacious and admirable
intellect, which had been exercised and developed by deep study and
large experience in the practical conduct of affairs. His education was
like that which Milton describes as "fitting to a man to perform justly,
skilfully and magnanimously, all the offices, both public and private,
of peace and war." His opinions were definite and fixed; were held with
the confidence which is the result of complete conviction; and came from
him recommended by a powerful eloquence, and a persuasive fairness and
magnanimity. The strength of his passions gave him an almost unbounded
influence over the minds of others, which he never perverted to selfish
purposes or unworthy ends.

A lofty integrity was one of the most prominent traits of his character.
It was not, as in his great contemporary Jay, clothed with the
appearance of austerity, nor did it, perhaps, so much as in the latter
spring from a constant and habitual sense of responsibility to a Supreme
Being; but it was rather a rare and noble elevation of soul, the
spontaneous development of a nature which could not harbor a base or
unworthy motive, cherished indeed and fortified by a firm faith and a
strong religious temperament. It was this which enabled him to spend so
long a period of his life in the public service in the exercise of the
most important public trusts--among them that of the Treasury
department, with the whole financial arrangements of the country under
his control, and come from it all without a stain or a suspicion. His
character for uprightness might be presented as an example in
illustration of the fine precept of Horace:

   ---- Hic murus aheneus esto
    Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.

Political hostility and private malice explored every corner of his life
with the hope of fixing a stain upon his official integrity; but these
miserable attempts had no other effect than to bring defeat and disgrace
on the authors of them. His honesty was as conspicuous in his private as
in his public career, and was indeed sometimes carried to an extent
which we fear might seem in our times like an absurd refinement. When
about to enter upon his duties as Secretary of the Treasury, he was
applied to by some friends engaged in monetary transactions for
information with respect to the policy which he proposed to pursue, the
disclosure of which would perhaps promote their interests, and not
injure those of the public. But this he utterly refused to give, holding
it as inconsistent with his duty as a public servant, to make his office
even the indirect means of contributing to the emolument of friends by
imparting to them information which was not open to all alike. While at
the bar, and practising only as counsellor, he was associated with the
Messrs. Ogden, who were then leading members of the profession in
New-York city, and he received only the retaining and trial fees, though
his reputation brought to the office a large proportion of all the
important suits which arose. It was proposed to him to form a connection
with other attorneys, by which engagement he might receive a portion of
the attorney's fees in addition; but this offer he at once rejected,
saying that he could not consent to receive any compensation for
services not his own, or for the character of which he was not

In his disposition he was one of the most amiable and attractive of men;
and though capable of strong indignation, which made him always
respected and sometimes feared by his adversaries, he was yet of such a
mild and placable temper that no man could be long and sincerely his
enemy. In person he was rather below the average height, his form was
well proportioned, and his manner dignified and conciliating. The lower
features of his countenance were regular and handsome, and beaming with
the warm affections and generous sentiments of his heart. His brow and
forehead were of a massive cast, expressive of the commanding intellect
which lay behind. He was fond of society, full of the most lively and
various conversation, which made him the delight and ornament of every
circle he entered. During his time the Supreme Court used to hold its
terms at New-York and Albany alternately, and the bar was then obliged
to follow it back and forth between those cities, the journey occupying
at that time three or four days. Of course this was a season of
hilarity, and upon such occasions Hamilton was the life of the party,
sometimes charming the whole company by his ingenious and eloquent
discussions of the various subjects of conversation, and at others
calling forth shouts of laughter by his pointed and genial wit. An
anecdote has been related to us by one who was present on the occasion,
which well illustrates the power which lay in his fascinating manner and
conversation. During the hostilities between France and England, which
succeeded the revolution in the former country, a French man of war
having on board Jerome Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon, and
afterwards king of Westphalia, was chased into the harbor of New-York by
two English frigates. It was during the visit which Jerome was thus
compelled to make to this country, that he became acquainted with and
married the beautiful Miss Patterson, of Baltimore. The genius and the
fortunes of Napoleon were then for the first time astonishing the world,
and caused Jerome to be received with the most extraordinary marks of
attention in the different cities of the United States. While he was in
New-York Hamilton made a dinner party for him, to which a number of the
chief personages of the time were invited. He was then living at
"Grange," and, as it happened, upon the very day of the party was
engaged in the argument of an important cause in the city, which
detained him there until after the hour for which his guests were
invited. A long delay ensued after the company had assembled, and the
embarrassment of Mrs. Hamilton may be imagined. There was evidently a
feeling of uneasiness and discontent springing up in the minds of the
guests, and especially was this the case with the distinguished brother
of the First Consul. He was affected with the usual sensitiveness of a
_novus homo_ upon the point of etiquette, and it seemed to pass his
comprehension how a man of Hamilton's private and official eminence
should be engaged in any of the ordinary pursuits of life, and
especially that such concerns, or any concerns whatever, should be
allowed to detain him a single moment from the society of his guests,
one of whom had the honor to be no less a person than Jerome Bonaparte.
At a late hour, after the quality of the dinner and the temper of the
guests had become about equally impaired, Hamilton arrived. He was met
by his desponding wife, and informed of the distressing predicament
which his delay had occasioned. After making a hasty toilet, he entered
the drawing-room, and found that the affair indeed wore a most perilous
aspect. The appearance of the distinguished Frenchman was especially
unpromising. But Hamilton was quite equal to the emergency. Gracefully
apologizing for his tardiness, he at once entered into a most animated
and eloquent conversation, drew out his different guests with admirable
dexterity, and enlisted them with one another, and especially
recommended himself to the late Miss Patterson by a lively chat in
French, of which language he was a master. The discontented features of
the Bonaparte began to relax, and it soon became evident that he was in
the most amiable mood, and one of the most gratified of the party. The
dinner passed off admirably, and it seemed to be generally conceded that
the delay in the beginning was amply atoned for by the delightful
entertainment which followed.

We should do injustice to one of the most amiable traits of Hamilton's
character if we omitted particularly to notice the strength and
tenderness of his friendships. Incapable of treachery, free from all
disguise, and imbued with the largest sympathies, he drew to himself the
esteem and affection of all who knew him; and such was his admiration
for noble and generous qualities, that he could not see them displayed
without clasping their possessors to his heart. He was a general
favorite in the army, and between some of the choicest spirits in it and
himself, there was an almost romantic affection. Those that knew him
best loved him most. The family of Washington were as dear to him as if
they were kindred by blood. Meade, McHenry, Tilghman, the "Old
Secretary," Harrison, and the generous and high-souled Laurens, were in
every change of fortune his cherished and bosom friends. The following
extract from a letter to Laurens, shows the nature of Hamilton's
attachment. "Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish my
dear Laurens it were in my power, by actions rather than by words, to
convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that till you bid us
adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you.
Indeed, my friend, it were not well done. You know the opinion I
entertain of mankind; and how much it is my desire to preserve myself
free from particular attachments, and to keep my happiness free from the
caprices of others. You should not have taken advantage of my
sensibility to steal into my affections, without my consent." The
openness of his heart and the flexibility of his manners made him a
great favorite with the French officers. Lafayette loved him as a
brother, and in one of his letters to him thus writes: "I know the
General's (Washington's) friendship and gratitude for you, my dear
Hamilton; both are greater than you perhaps imagine. I am sure he needs
only to be told that something will suit you, and when he thinks he can
do it, he certainly will. Before this campaign I was your friend, and
very intimate friend, agreeably to the ideas of the world; since my
second voyage, my sentiment has increased to such a point the world
knows nothing about. To show _both_, from want and from scorn of
expression, I shall only tell you, adieu." Talleyrand, the celebrated
minister of Napoleon, whatever may be said of the character of his
diplomacy, had a heart that was capable of friendship, and while in this
country conceived a particular fondness for Hamilton, and on his
departure for France he took from the house of the latter, without
permission, a miniature belonging to Mrs. Hamilton of her husband. When
fairly out of reach he addressed a note to Mrs. Hamilton confessing the
larceny, and excusing it on the ground that he wanted a copy of it, but
knew that she would not let him take the original away to be copied if
he had made the request. He had an excellent copy of the miniature taken
upon Sevres china, which he always kept in a conspicuous place in his
apartment until late in life, when he presented it with a lock of his
hair to a son of Hamilton, James A. Hamilton Esq., of Dobb's Ferry, N.
Y., who still retains it. The indignation of Talleyrand at the conduct
of Burr in bringing about the melancholy duel was unbounded; and when
Burr, subsequently to that event, was on a visit to France, he wrote a
note to Talleyrand, requesting the privilege of paying him a visit. Of
course the French minister could not refuse this favor to a man who had
been Vice-President of the United States, and in other respects so
eminent a person; but his answer was something like this: "The Minister
of Foreign Affairs would be happy to see Col. Burr at--(naming the
hour); but M. Talleyrand thinks it due to Col. Burr to state, that he
always has the miniature of General Hamilton hanging over his

In contemplating the life of Hamilton, it is of course impossible not to
feel the deepest regret that so much genius, so much usefulness, and so
much promise, should have been so prematurely cut off. Great as was his
actual performance, it is natural and reasonable to suppose that the
results of his youth and early manhood would have been far eclipsed by
those of his splendid maturity. But as it is, "he lived long enough for
glory." The influence of his presence and manners, the excitements in
which he mingled when alive--every thing which tends to give a
fictitious importance to present greatness, have passed away. But his
reputation, which some have thought to rest upon these very
circumstances, stands unaffected by their decay,--a fact which
sufficiently attests the enduring nature of his fame.

[Illustration: Monument To Hamilton, Trinity Church-yard, N.Y.]


[13] Life of Hamilton, by his son, John C. Hamilton, Vol. I. p. 22.

[14] Life of Hamilton, Vol. I. p. 382.

[15] Works of Daniel Webster, Vol. I, p. 200.

[16] Hildreth's History of the United States. New Series, vol. ii.
p. 524.


[Illustration: Marshall fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Marshall's House at Richmond, Va.]


John Marshall, son of Colonel Thomas Marshall, a planter of moderate
fortune, was born in Germantown, Fauquier County, Virginia, on the
twenty-fourth of September, 1755. When twenty-one years of age, he was
commissioned as a lieutenant in the continental service, and marching
with his regiment to the north, was appointed captain in the spring of
1777, and in that capacity served in the battles of Brandywine,
Germantown, and Monmouth; was at Valley Forge during the winter of 1778,
and was one of the covering party at the assault of Stoney Point, in
June, 1779. Having returned to his native State at the expiration of the
enlistment of the Virginia troops, in 1780 he received a license for the
practice of the law, and rapidly rose to distinction in that profession.
In 1782 he was chosen a representative to the legislature, and afterward
a member of the executive council In January, 1783, he married Mary
Willis Ambler, of York, in Virginia, with whom he lived for fifty years
in the tenderest affection. He was a delegate to the convention of
Virginia which met on the second of June, 1788, to take into
consideration the new constitution, and in conjunction with his friend,
Mr. Madison, mainly contributed to its adoption, in opposition to the
ardent efforts of Henry, Grayson, and Mason. His name first became
generally known throughout the nation by his vindication, in the
legislature of the State, of the ratification of Jay's treaty by
President Washington. No report of that speech remains, but the evidence
of its ability survives in the effects which it produced on the
legislature and the country. He continued in the practice of the law,
having declined successively the offices of Attorney General of the
United States and Minister to France, until 1797, when with General
Pinkney and Mr. Gerry, he was sent on a special mission to the French
republic. The manner in which the dignity of the American character was
maintained against the corruption of the Directory and its ministers is
well known. The letters of the seventeenth of January and third of
April, 1798, to Talleyrand, the Minister of Foreign Relations, have
always been attributed to Marshall, and they rank among the ablest and
most effective of diplomatic communications. Mr. Marshall arrived in
New-York on the seventeenth of June, 1798, and on the nineteenth entered
Philadelphia. At the intelligence of his approach the whole city poured
out toward Frankford to receive him, and escorted him to his lodgings
with all the honors of a triumph. In after years, when he visited
Philadelphia, he often spoke of the feelings with which, as he came near
the city on that occasion, with some doubts as to the reception which he
might meet with in the existing state of parties, he beheld the
multitude rushing forth to crowd about him with every demonstration of
respect and approbation, as having been the most interesting and
gratifying of his life.

On his return to Virginia, at the special request of General Washington,
he became a candidate for the House of Representatives, and was elected
in the spring of 1799. His greatest effort in Congress was his speech in
opposition to the resolutions of Edward Livingston relative to Thomas
Nash, alias Jonathan Robbins. Fortunately we possess an accurate report
of it, revised by himself. The case was, that Thomas Nash, having
committed a murder on board the British frigate Hermione, navigating the
high seas under a commission from the British king, had sought an asylum
within the United States, and his delivery had been demanded by the
British minister under the twenty-seventh article of the treaty of amity
between the two nations. Mr. Marshall's argument first established that
the crime was within the jurisdiction of Great Britain, on the general
principles of public law, and then demonstrated, that under the
constitution the case was subject to the disposal of the executive, and
not the judiciary. He distinguished these departments from one another
with an acuteness of discrimination and a force of logic which
frustrated the attempt to carry the judiciary out of its orbit, and
settled the political question, then and for ever. It is said that Mr.
Gallatin, whose part it was to reply to Mr. Marshall, at the close of
the speech turned to some of his friends and said, "_You_ may answer
that if you choose; _I_ cannot." The argument deserves to rank among the
most dignified displays of human intellect. At the close of the session,
Mr. Marshall was appointed Secretary of War, and soon after Secretary of
State. During his continuance in that department our relations with
England were in a very interesting condition, and his correspondence
with Mr. King exhibits his abilities and spirit in the most dignified
point of view. "His despatch of the twentieth of September, 1800," says
Mr. Binney, "is a noble specimen of the first order of state papers, and
shows the most finished adaptation of parts for the station of an
American Secretary of State." On the thirty-first of January, 1801, he
was appointed Chief Justice of the United States, in which office he
continued until his death. In 1804 he published the Biography of
Washington, which for candor, accuracy, and comprehension, will for ever
be the most authentic history of the Revolution. He died in Philadelphia
on the sixth of July, 1835.

Mr. Marshall's career as Chief Justice extended through a period of more
than thirty-four years, which is the longest judicial tenure recorded in
history. To one who cannot follow his great judgments, in which, at the
same time, the depths of legal wisdom are disclosed and the limits of
human reason measured, the language of just eulogy must wear an
appearance of extravagance. In his own profession he stands for the
reverence of the wise rather than for the enthusiasm of the many. The
proportion of the figure was so perfect, that the sense of its vastness
was lost. Above the difficulties of common minds, he was in some degree
above their sympathy. Saved from popularity by the very rarity of his
qualities, he astonished the most where he was best understood. The
questions upon which his judgment was detained, and the considerations
by which his decision was at last determined, were such as ordinary
understandings, not merely could not resolve, but were often inadequate
even to appreciate or apprehend. It was his manner to deal directly with
the results of thought and learning, and the length and labor of the
processes by which these results were suggested and verified might elude
the consciousness of those who had not themselves attempted to perform
them. From the position in which he stood of evident superiority to his
subject, it was obviously so easy for him to describe its character and
define its relations, that we sometimes forgot to wonder by what
faculties or what efforts he had attained to that eminence. We were so
much accustomed to see his mind move only in the light, that there was a
danger of our not observing that the illumination by which it was
surrounded was the beam of its own presence, and not the natural
atmosphere of the scene.

The true character and measure of Marshall's greatness are missed by
those who conceive of him as limited within the sphere of the justices
of England, and who describe him merely as the first of lawyers. To have
been "the most consummate judge that ever sat in judgment," was the
highest possibility of Eldon's merit, but was only a segment of
Marshall's fame. It was in a distinct department, of more dignified
functions, almost of an opposite kind, that he displayed those abilities
that advance his name to the highest renown, and shed around it the
glories of a statesman and legislator. The powers of the Supreme Court
of the United States are such as were never before confided to a
judicial tribunal by any people. As determining, without appeal, its own
jurisdiction, and that of the legislature and executive, that court is
not merely the highest estate in the country, but it settles and
continually moulds the constitution of the government. Of the great work
of constructing a nation, but a small part, practically, had been
performed when the written document had been signed by the convention: a
vicious theory of interpretation might defeat the grandeur and unity of
the organization, and a want of comprehension and foresight might
fatally perplex the harmony of the combination. The administration of a
system of polity is the larger part of its establishment. What the
constitution was to be, depended on the principles on which the federal
instrument was to be construed, and they were not to be found in the
maxims and modes of reasoning by which the law determines upon social
contracts between man and man, but were to be sought anew in the
elements of political philosophy and the general suggestions of
legislative wisdom. To these august duties Judge Marshall brought a
greatness of conception that was commensurate with their difficulty; he
came to them in the spirit and with the strength of one who would
minister to the development of a nation; and it was the essential
sagacity of his guiding mind that saved us from illustrating the
sarcasms of Mr. Burke about paper constitutions. He saw the futility of
attempting to control society by a metaphysical theory; he apprehended
the just relation between opinion and life, between the forms of
speculation and the force of things. Knowing that we are wise in respect
to nature, only as we give back to it faithfully what we have learned
from it obediently, he sought to fix the wisdom of the real and to
resolve it into principles. He made the nation explain its constitution,
and compelled the actual to define the possible. Experience was the
dialectic by which he deduced from substantial premises a practical
conclusion. The might of reason by which convenience and right were thus
moulded into union, was amazing. But while he knew the folly of
endeavoring to be wiser than time, his matchless resources of good sense
contributed to the orderly development of the inherent elements of the
constitution, by a vigor and dexterity as eminent in their kind as they
were rare in their combination. The vessel of state was launched by the
patriotism of many: the chart of her course was designed chiefly by
Hamilton: but when the voyage was begun, the eye that observed, and the
head that reckoned, and the hand that compelled the ship to keep her
course amid tempests without, and threats of mutiny within, were those
of the great Chief Justice. Posterity will give him reverence as one of
the founders of the nation; and of that group of statesmen who may one
day perhaps be regarded as above the nature, as they certainly were
beyond the dimensions of men, no figure, save ONE alone, will rise upon
the eye in grandeur more towering than that of John Marshall.

The authority of the Supreme Court, however, is not confined to cases of
constitutional law; it embraces the whole range of judicial action, as
it is distributed in England, into legal, equitable, and maritime
jurisdictions. The equity system of this court was too little developed
to enable us to say what Marshall would have been as a chancellor. It is
difficult to admit that he would have been inferior to Lord Eldon: it is
impossible to conceive that he could at all have resembled Lord Eldon.
But undoubtedly the native region and proper interest of a mind so
analytical and so sound, so piercing and so practical, was the common
law; that vigorous system of manly reason and essential right, that
splendid scheme of morality expanded by logic and informed by prudence.
Perhaps the highest range of English intelligence is illustrated in the
law; yet where, in the whole line of that august succession, will be
found a character which fills the measure of judicial greatness so
completely as Chief Justice Marshall? Where, in English history, is the
judge, whose mind was at once so enlarged and so systematic, who so
thoroughly had reduced professional science to general reason, in whose
disciplined intellect technical learning had so completely passed into
native sense? Vast as the reach of the law is, it is not an exaggeration
to say that Marshall's understanding was greater, and embraced the forms
of legal sagacity within it, as a part of its own spontaneous wisdom. He
discriminated with instinctive accuracy between those technicalities
which have sprung from the narrowness of inferior minds, and those which
are set by the law for the defence of some vital element of justice or
reason. The former he brushed away like cobwebs, while he yielded to the
latter with a respect which sometimes seemed to those "whose eyes were"
not "opened," a species of superstition. In his judicial office the
method of Marshall appeared to be, first to bow his understanding
reverently to the law, and calmly and patiently to receive its
instructions as those of an oracle of which he was the minister; then to
prove these dictates by the most searching processes of reason, and to
deliver them to others, not as decrees to be obeyed, but as logical
manifestations of moral truth. Undoubtedly he made much use of adjudged
cases; but he used them to give light and certainty to his own judgment,
and not for the vindication or support of the law. He would have deemed
it a reproach alike to his abilities and his station, if he should have
determined upon precedent what could have been demonstrated by reason,
or had referred to authority what belonged to principle. With singular
capacity, he united systematic reason with a perception of particular
equity: too scrupulous a regard for the latter led Lord Eldon, in most
instances, to adjudicate nothing but the case before him; but Marshall
remembered that while he owed to the suitors the decision of the case,
he owed to society the establishment of the principle. His mind
naturally tended, not to suggestion and speculation, but to the
determination of opinion and the closing of doubts. On the bench, he
always recollected that he was not merely a lawyer, and much less a
legal essayist; he was conscious of an official duty and an official
authority; and considered that questions might be discussed elsewhere,
but came to be settled by him. The dignity with which these duties were
discharged was not the least admirable part of the display. It was
wisdom on the seat of power, pronouncing the decrees of justice.

Political and legal sense are so distinct from one another as almost to
be irreconcilable in the same mind. The latter is a mere course of
deduction from premises; the other calls into exercise the highest order
of perceptive faculties, and that quick felicity of intuition which
flashes to its conclusions by a species of mental sympathy rather than
by any conscious process of argumentation. The one requires that the
susceptibility of the judgment should be kept exquisitely alive to every
suggestion of the practical, so as to catch and follow the insensible
reasonings of life, rather than to reason itself: the other demands the
exclusion of every thing not rigorously exact, and the concentration of
the whole consciousness of the mind in kindling implicit truth into
formal principles. The wonder, in Judge Marshall's case, was to see
these two almost inconsistent faculties, in quality so matchless, and in
development so magnificent, harmonized and united in his marvellous
intelligence. We beheld him pass from one to the other department
without confusing their nature, and without perplexing his own
understanding. When he approached a question of constitutional
jurisprudence, we saw the lawyer expand into the legislator; and in
returning to a narrower sphere, pause from the creative glow of
statesmanship, and descend from intercourse with the great conceptions
and great feelings by which nations are guided and society is advanced,
to submit his faculties with docility to the yoke of legal forms, and
with impassible calmness to thread the tangled intricacies of forensic

There was in this extraordinary man an unusual combination of the
capacity of apprehending truth, with the ability to demonstrate and make
it palpable to others. They often exist together in unequal degrees.
Lord Mansfield's power of luminous explication was so surpassing that
one might almost say that he made others perceive what he did not
understand himself; but the numerous instances in which his decisions
have been directly overthrown by his successors, and the still greater
number of cases in which his opinions have been silently departed from,
compel a belief that his judgment was not of the truest kind. Lord
Eldon's judicial sagacity was a species of inspiration; but he seemed to
be unable not only to convince others; but even to certify himself of
the correctness of his own greatest and wisest determinations. But Judge
Marshall's sense appeared to be at once both instinctive and analytical:
his logic extended as far as his perception: he had no propositions in
his thoughts which he could not resolve into their axioms. Truth came to
him as a revelation, and from him as a demonstration. His mind was more
than the faculty of vision; it was a body of light, which irradiated the
subject to which it was directed, and rendered it as distinct to every
other eye as it was to its own.

The mental integrity of this illustrious man was not the least important
element of his greatness. Those qualities of vanity, fondness for
display, the love of effect, the solicitation of applause, sensibility
to opinions, which are the immoralities of intellect, never attached to
that stainless essence of pure reason. He seemed to men to be a
passionless intelligence; susceptible to no feeling but the constant
love of right; subject to no affection but a polarity toward truth.

As has already been stated, the great chief justice was married when
twenty-eight years of age, to Miss Ambler, of York, in Virginia; there
have been few such unions in every respect more fortunate and
delightful; the wife died but a short time before the husband, who, not
more than two days previous to his own decease, directed that his body
should be laid with hers, and that the plain stone to indicate the place
of their rest should have only this simple inscription:

    "John Marshall, son of Thomas and Mary Marshall, was born on the
    24th of September, 1755, intermarried with Mary Willis Ambler on
    the 3d of January, 1783, and departed this life the ---- day
    of ---- 18--."

With no other alteration than the filling of the blanks, this is
engraved on the modest white marble which is over their remains in the
beautiful cemetery on Shoccoe Hill, of Richmond.

The chief justice always lived in a style of singular simplicity; when
Secretary of State at Washington, he resided in a brick building hardly
larger than most of the kitchens now in use, and his house in Richmond,
to which he soon after removed, was characteristically unostentatious.
From Richmond he frequently walked out three or four miles to his farm
in the county of Henrico; and once a year he made a protracted visit to
his other farm, near his birth-place, in Fauquier.

No man had a keener relish for social and convivial enjoyments, and
numerous anecdotes are told in illustration of this trait in his
character. Nearly all the period of his residence in Richmond, he was a
member of a club which met near the city once a fortnight to pitch
quoits, and mingle in relaxing conversation; there was no one more
punctual in his attendance at its meetings, or who contributed more to
their pleasantness; and such was his skill in the manly game he
practised, that he would hurl his iron ring, weighing two pounds, with
rarely erring aim, fifty-five or sixty feet, and when he or his partner
made any specially successful exhibition of skill, he would leap up and
clap his hands with the light-hearted enthusiasm of boyhood.


[Illustration: Ames fac-simile of letter]


The house in which FISHER AMES was born was pulled down somewhere about
1818. It used to stand on the main street of Dedham, a little to the
northeast, and over the way from where the court-house now stands. It
was a roomy, two-story, peaked-roofed old building, with its end to the
street; the oldest part having an addition of more modern construction
on the front, or what, with reference to the street, was the end. The
rooms were low, the windows small, and the lower floor was sunken a
little below the ground. A large buttonwood overshadowed it in front,
and from behind an elm, the latter still standing. There was no fence
between the house and the street, and the intervening space was covered
with grass of that thick and stubbed growth peculiar to such localities.
Behind was a large barn, while on both sides, and back for fifty or
sixty rods, to the Charles River, stretched a broad field of irregular
surface. Just across the street was the "Front Lot," a piece of
unoccupied land, including that on which the court-house now stands, and
extending east nearly as far as the post-office. On the corner of this
lot, directly in front of the house stood, subsequently,--that is, to
the year 1776, when it was erected,--a stone pillar supporting a column,
surmounted by a wooden head of Pitt, the same having been set up by the
"Sons of Liberty," a brother of Fisher Ames among the number, on the
repeal of the Stamp Act. This structure, after testifying to America's
gratitude for a number of years, and furnishing to the corner on which
it stood, the name of "Pitt's Head," was eventually overthrown. The
stone pillar with its glowing inscription, after lying awhile by the
roadside, and offering a seat to chatting children, and a place, in the
spaces of the letters, for cracking nuts, was at length set up in its
old place, on the erection of the court-house some twenty-five years
since, where it still stands. But of the fate of the column and the head
we have no account. This wooden head, intended by its enthusiastic
raisers, without a doubt, to be "ære perennius," lay kicking about the
street; and perhaps found refuge at last from the vicissitudes of the
weather and the wasting jack-knife of the schoolboy, in the wood-box or
the garret of some hospitable patriot.

The old house was long kept as an inn, both by Dr. Nathaniel Ames, the
father of Fisher, and, after his death, by his wife. Innkeeping in those
days was not so engrossing an occupation as at present, and Dr. Ames, by
no means mainly a Boniface, found time for the care of his farm, for the
practice of his profession, for the study of mathematics, astronomy, and
kindred subjects; and for the application of the knowledge thus
acquired, in the making of almanacs; a business which he carried on for
forty years. In their veracious pages, besides indicating the doings and
intentions of the heavenly bodies, and predicting storms with all the
accuracy of which the case was susceptible, Dr. Ames used to portray the
exciting events of the time in verse, more patriotic and vivid, perhaps,
than poetic. He was, in truth, a man of no small consideration in
Dedham, of much natural ability, of wit and spirit.

He showed these last qualities once on a time, when the colonial judges
decided some law case against him. He thought they had disregarded the
law, and their Reverences were soon seen, sketched on a sign-board in
front of the tavern, in full bottomed wigs, tippling, with their _backs_
to the volume labelled "The Province Law." The authorities at Boston
taking umbrage at this, dispatched some officers to Dedham to remove the
sign. But Dr. Ames was too quick for them; and the baffled tipstaves on
reaching the house found nothing hanging but a board, on which was
inscribed, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh for a sign, but
no sign shall be given them."

Dr. Ames died in 1764, when his son Fisher, the youngest child, was six
years old; having besides him, a son of his own name and profession, who
was afterwards a violent democrat and opponent of Fisher Ames, two other
sons and a daughter. Of these, Fisher was the only one who left
descendants. Mrs. Ames continued to keep the inn, and married again. She
was a very shrewd and sensible woman, of a strong and singular cast of
mind. She took a hearty interest in politics, and hated the Jacobins
devoutly. Innkeeping was a favorite occupation with her, and she carried
matters with a high hand. We have heard her compared to Meg Dods, the
landlady in St. Ronan's Well. She outlived her son Fisher some ten years
or more.

Fisher Ames was a delicate child, and the pet of his mother, whose
maiden name he bore. He had such an extravagant fondness for books,
devouring all that fell within his reach, and showed, in other ways, to
the fond perception of his parent, such unmistakable signs of genius,
that she early determined to make a lawyer of him, and put him to the
study of Latin at six. The little fellow worked bravely at his lessons
for six years, reciting sometimes to the school-teacher, when that
functionary happened to be more than usually learned, sometimes to old
Mr. Haven the minister, with whom he early made friends, and to various
other persons. In 1770, twelve years old, he was admitted to Harvard
College. Here he spent four years with credit and success, acquiring
greater distinction in the study of the languages and in oratory, than
in the abstract sciences. He was conspicuous, even at this early age, as
a speaker, being one of the leading members of a society for improvement
in eloquence, then newly established. This society, under the style of
"The Institute of 1770," is still flourishing at Cambridge, and turns
out annually as many orators, perhaps, as any similar body in our
country. The writer of this remembers to have heard there, in his own
college days, a great deal of sublime elocution. Fisher Ames's name
occurs on the records a number of times, as a speaker, and a critic, and
once as follows: "June, 1, 1773.--Voted, that Ames, Clarke, and Eliot,
be fined 4 pence for tardiness." Young Ames passed through college with
unblemished morals. "Happily," in the elegant phrase of his biographer,
"he did not need the smart of guilt to make him virtuous, nor the regret
of folly to make him wise."

In the summer of 1774, he returned to his mother's house.
Notwithstanding her predilection for law, he had some idea of studying
medicine or divinity. But, the year of the Boston Port Bill was no good
time for deciding upon a course of life, or beginning it when determined
on. Besides, Fisher Ames was but sixteen, and his mother was poor. For a
short time, therefore, he engaged in teaching school; and, after a few
years spent in desultory but unceasing study and reading, he began law
in the office of Wm. Tudor, of Boston.

During this time the contest was going on in which his country's
liberties were involved, and young Ames was a watchful and anxious
observer of its progress. It was at his mother's house that the good men
of Dedham used to meet, to see what they and the country were to do.
Only a month or two after his return from college, a convention from all
the towns of Suffolk county, of which Dedham was then a part, met here
to deliberate. We can imagine the heart of our boy of sixteen burning
within him, and his eye flashing as he heard the outraged citizens of
Boston tell their grievances, and as he longed to be a man, that he
might take a part with those determined patriots in their resolution to
try the issue with Great Britain, if need be, at the point of the sword.
Dedham sent some brave soldiers to the service, and Fisher Ames, young
as he was, went out in one or two short expeditions.

In 1781 we find him entered upon the practice of law at Dedham, where he
soon became distinguished as an advocate. In those days the manners of
the bench were very rough. The road to eminence in law seemed often to
lie between rows of semi-barbarous judges, who hurled at aspiring
barristers every missile of abuse. There is always much, it is true, in
the deportment of young lawyers to vex the temper of a judge, and perhaps
in those days of callow independence there may have been more than common.
There appears to be something about that great science to which, in the
language of Hooker, "all things in heaven and earth do homage, the least
as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her bounty,"
that breathes unusual dignity into its servants, especially its young
ones. In its various duties, the giving of counsel, the questioning of
witnesses, and the frequent display of capacity before courts and
juries, the seeds of vanity find propitious soil and start into rank
growth. From this or whatever cause, the judges of old times were crusty
and abusive; and old Judge Paine, besides being all this, was moreover
deaf, and used to berate counsel roundly at times for what was no fault
of theirs. "I tell you what," said Fisher Ames, as he came out of court
one day, "a man, when he enters that court-room, ought to go armed with
a speaking trumpet in one hand and a club in the other." At another
time, Ames expressed a rather derogatory opinion of the intelligence of
the court. He was arguing a case before a number of county justices, and
having finished, turned to leave the room. "Ain't you going to say any
thing more, Mr. Ames?" anxiously whispered his client. "No," rejoined
Ames; "you might as well argue a case to a row of skim-milk cheeses!"
Perhaps his dislike to these dignitaries may have been an inheritance.
May not the old Doctor, in his indignation about the Province Law
matter, like another Hamilcar, have made his son, a youthful Hannibal,
swear eternal hatred to his foes?

Mr. Ames was now a rapidly rising man. Various essays on political
subjects from his pen appeared in the newspapers, and contributed to
draw public attention to him. When quite young, he was sent to a
convention held at Concord, to consider the depreciated state of the
currency, where he made an eloquent speech. In 1788, he was a member of
the convention for ratifying the federal constitution. Here he added
much to his fame by a number of excellent speeches. One on the biennial
election of representatives was considered the best, and is the only one
given in his works. It is lucid, statesmanlike, and eloquent. The
occasion of it was an inquiry by Samuel Adams, why representatives were
not made elective annually. To this Ames alludes in the closing
paragraph: "As it has been demanded why annual elections were not
preferred to biennial, permit me to retort the question, and to inquire,
in my turn, what reason can be given why, if annual elections are good,
biennial elections are not better?" Adams professed himself entirely
satisfied. This same year Ames represented Dedham in the legislature.

In 1789, Suffolk county sent him as her first representative to
Congress, in opposition to Samuel Adams. He was in Congress eight years,
during the whole of Washington's administration, and was one of the most
prominent leaders of the federal party, giving to the President uniform
and important support. In this period, he acquired a reputation for
candor, integrity, ability, and eloquence, second to that of no man in
Congress. At times, particularly towards the end of his term, ill-health
compelled his absence; yet he examined with care every important
question that presented itself, and spoke upon almost every one. But of
his numerous efforts in Congress, only two are printed among his works,
one on certain resolutions of Madison's for imposing additional duties
on foreign goods, delivered in 1794, and the speech on Jay's treaty, two
years later, his most brilliant effort, "an era," says his biographer,
"in his political life." This speech was written out from memory by
Judge Smith and Samuel Dexter, receiving a revision from Ames. It is
thus alluded to by Hildreth: "He (Ames) had been detained from the House
during the early part of the session, by an access of that disorder
which made all the latter part of his life one long disease. Rising from
his seat, pale, feeble, hardly able to stand or to speak, but warming
with the subject, he delivered a speech which, for comprehensive
knowledge of human nature and of the springs of political action, for
caustic ridicule, keen argument, and pathetic eloquence, even in the
imperfect shape in which we possess it, has very seldom been equalled on
that or any other floor." The question was to have been taken that same
day, but one of the opposition moved that it be postponed till the next,
that they should not act under the influence of an excitement of which
their calm judgment might not approve.

After reducing the question to one of breaking the public faith, the
speaker adds: "This, sir, is a cause that would be dishonored and
betrayed, if I contented myself with appealing only to the
understanding. It is too cold, and its processes are too slow for the
occasion. I desire to thank God that, since he has given me an intellect
so fallible, he has impressed upon me an instinct that is sure. On a
question of shame and dishonor, reasoning is sometimes useless, and
worse. I feel the decision in my pulse; if it throws no light upon the
brain, it kindles a fire at the heart." It is the spirit that breathes
in this splendid burst that stirred the minds of the hearers, wearied
and disgusted with a discussion of nearly two months, so that, in the
blunt language of John Adams--"there wasn't a dry eye in the House,
except some of the jackasses that occasioned the necessity of the

Ames's speeches show great clearness of mind and power of reasoning, and
have about them an air of candor that induces conviction. He brought to
every subject on which he was to speak, that thorough understanding of
it, in which, if we may believe Socrates, lies the secret of all
eloquence. It appears to have been customary with him to wait till a
question had undergone some discussion, that he might the better
appreciate the arguments on both sides. He would then rise, and
disperse, as with the wand of Prospero, the mists of prejudice and
sophistry that had gathered over the question in the course of debate,
while he placed the subject before the House with convincing eloquence
and precision. His well-stored mind poured forth illustrations at every
step, and his imagination illuminated each point on which he touched.
Now and then it would light up into a pure and steady blaze as he dwelt
on some topic that stirred his deepest emotions, and transfigured it in
apt and nervous language. In this union of imagination and feeling,
making every period glow with life, with logical power, Ames resembled

He was not in the habit of trusting to notes, but used to think out a
sketch of what he was to say, and trust for the rest to the inspiration
of the occasion. At first his manner was slow and hesitating, like one
in reflection; but as he went on, his thoughts and his language flowed
fast, and his face beamed with expression. We have heard his manner
characterized by one who had frequent opportunities of hearing him, in
the words of Antenor's description of Ulysses:

    "But when Ulyssus rose, in thought profound,
    His modest eyes he fixed upon the ground,
    As one unskilled, or drunk, he seemed to stand,
    Nor raised his head nor stretched his sceptred hand;
    But when he speaks, what elocution flows!
    Soft as the fleeces of descending snows,
    The copious accents fall, with easy art;
    Melting they fall and sink into the heart!"

His voice is described as rich and melodious. His personal appearance is
thus given by Wm. Sullivan: "He was above middle stature, and
well-formed. His features were not strongly marked. His forehead was
neither high nor expansive. His eyes blue, and of middling size; his
mouth handsome; his hair was black, and short on the forehead, and in
his latter years unpowdered. He was very erect, and when speaking he
raised his head; or rather his chin was the most projected part of his
face." Before a jury he was very effective. There was nothing bitter or
sarcastic in his manner; but mild, cool, and candid, it made a jury, as
we heard it expressed, "want to give him the case, if they could." He is
contrasted with his friend Samuel Dexter, as preferring to illustrate by
a picture, while Dexter would explain by a diagram.

Mr. Ames was the author of the "Address of the House of Representatives
to Washington," on his signifying his intention to withdraw from office.
His own health had been, and was still so feeble, that he could not
stand for re-election. Accordingly, he retired to Dedham in March, 1797,
intending to devote himself, as far as possible, to the practice of his
profession and the enjoyment of domestic happiness.

In July 1792, Mr. Ames had married Miss Worthington, of Springfield.
This marriage was an exceedingly happy one. Mrs. Ames was much beloved
and respected by her neighbors, and, in her sphere, was considered as
remarkable as her husband. She was a woman of gentle and retiring
disposition, devoted to her family, kind, motherly and sensible. Mr.
Ames seems to have found in her a companion who called forth and
appreciated all those amiable qualities which were a part of his
character. She took a good deal of interest in public affairs, and was a
woman of cultivated mind. She survived her husband, and died some
sixteen years since, at the age of seventy-four. They had seven
children, six sons and a daughter. The daughter died young and
unmarried, of consumption. Three of the sons are now living, one in
Dedham, one in Cambridge, and another somewhere at the West. All the
children however survived their father.

Previous to his marriage Mr. Ames had lived with his mother. After that
event he moved to Boston and took a house on Beacon Street, next to
Governor Bowdoin's. He appears to have lived here about two years, when
he returned to Dedham, and began the building of a new house. This house
was finished and occupied by the winter of 1795; during the interval Mr.
Ames lived in a house opposite the old mansion now occupied by the
Dedham Gazette. This new house of Ames's is still standing in Dedham,
externally much the same as of old; a large square-built, two-story
house, flat-roofed, simple and substantial. Internally, however,
together with the ground about it, it has undergone many alterations.
Formerly it had not the piazza now in front of it, and the various
chimneys were then represented by one fat, old-fashioned, solid
structure in the middle. It passed out of the hands of the family about
1835, and is at present owned by Mr. John Gardiner.

Mr. Ames seems to have inherited most of the old homestead, to the
extent of twenty-five acres, on which he built his house, facing the
south, a little to the east, and back of his mother's. He employed
himself a good deal henceforth in the cultivation of his farm. The
"Front Lot" was surrounded with a rail fence and a row of Lombardy
poplars, and was used at different times as a mowing lot, a cornfield,
and a pasture for the cows. On the east side of the house, extending in
length from the street to the river, and in width from directly under
the windows, far enough to include a street and a row of small houses,
since constructed, was a pasture and orchard including seven or eight
acres, and stocked with the best fruit. Directly back of the house was
the garden, a long and rather barren strip of land, of peculiar surface.
Two straight walks went from the house the whole length of it. At the
farther end of it was a low oval space, with a walk running around it,
and a pond in the middle. All this part of the garden was low, and
surrounded at the sides and end with a bank, in the form of an
amphitheatre. Three or four terraces lay between it and the higher
ground. These and the oval space with its walk, still remain, but the
fence between the garden and the orchard has been removed, and the two
straight walks somewhat changed, to suit the modern appetite for grace.
The place is still full of the fruit-trees that Fisher Ames planted,
some crossgrained pear-trees, and venerable cherries being the chief.
The boys used to look over in this orchard and garden, at the big pears,
weighing down the trees and covering the ground, as if it were the very
garden of the Hesperides, and the dragon were asleep. Once in a while
the gates would be thrown open to these hungry longers, and they helped
themselves; when winter came too the pond afforded them a capital
skating place. A large shed ran out from the back of the house, on the
west end, used, among other purposes, as a granary. To the west and back
of this, was the barn of the old house, and a large new one built by Mr.
Ames, and behind the latter, the ice-house, in those days quite a
novelty. Back of this was an open field. On the west side of the house,
a flight of steps led from one of the lower windows down the bank, with
an old pear-tree growing through it.

The house stood about two rods from the street; a semi-elliptical walk
led up to the door, and two horse-chestnuts grew in the yard. There were
but few trees near the house, for Mr. Ames liked the light and the fresh
air. He planted a great many shade trees however on the street, and some
of the fine old elms about the common were set out with his own hands.
The front door opened into a large room, which took up the whole
southwestern end, used as a hall, and on occasion of those large dinner
parties so common among men of Mr. Ames's class, in those days, as a
dining-room. At such times this was thrown into one with the adjoining
front room, a large apartment, with a big fireplace, commonly used as a
parlor. Back of this was the library overlooking the garden. The
southeastern end was Mr. Ames's favorite one. His chamber, that in which
he died, was here, on the second story. Below stairs, was a cellar
kitchen, and a dairy; this last quite a magnificent matter, with marble
flagging, and ice bestowed around in summer, for coolness.

From the bank at the end of the garden, Mr. Ames's land covered with
fruit-trees, sloped gracefully to the water. Charles River is here only
twenty or thirty feet wide, and winds with a tranquil current through a
narrow meadow; not as broad, but brighter and clearer than where at
Cambridge it calls forth the admiring apostrophe of the poet. It is only
a short way below this where Mother Brook issues from the Charles,
flowing towards the east, and joining it with the Neponset, and making
an island of all the intervening region, which embraces Boston, Roxbury,
and Dorchester. This singular stream, though its banks are wooded with
venerable trees, and it is in all respects like one of nature's own, is
nevertheless an artificial course of water. And what is very remarkable,
it was constructed by the Puritan settlers, only three years after their
arrival in 1639, when there could not have been a hundred men in the
place. They were in want of a flow of water for mill purposes, and
accordingly dug a canal a mile in length, from the Charles eastwardly.
Here the land descended, and the water, left to its own course, wound in
graceful curves to the Neponset. There are still a number of mills on
this stream. This achievement of Young America, considering his extreme
youth at the time, amounting in fact to infancy, was not unworthy of his
subsequent exploits.

After returning from Congress, Mr. Ames passed a life of almost unbroken
retirement. In 1798 he was appointed commissioner to the Cherokees, an
office he was obliged to refuse. In 1800 he was a member of the
Governor's Council, and in the same year delivered a eulogy on
Washington, before the Legislature. He was chosen in 1805, President of
Harvard College, but ill health, and a disinclination to change his
habits of life, led him to decline the honor.

He had also resumed the practice of his profession with ardor, but the
state of his health compelled him gradually to drop it; and towards the
close of his life, he was glad to throw it aside altogether. Mr. Ames
was not much of a traveller, though getting back and forth between
Dedham and Philadelphia, which he used to do in his own conveyance, was
no small matter in those days. He visited among his acquaintances in the
neighborhood, at Christopher Gore's in Waltham, at George Cabot's in
Brookline, and at Salem, where Timothy Pickering and others of his
friends resided. He was also in the habit of driving to Boston in his
gig two or three times a week, when his health permitted, and passing
the day. But he took few long journeys. We hear of him at Newport in
1795, in Virginia visiting the mineral springs for his health, in the
following year, and in Connecticut in 1800; and he speaks in one of his
letters of "jingling his bells as far as Springfield" as a matter of
common occurrence. His wife's relations lived there, among others the
husband of her sister, Mr. Thomas Dwight, at whose house Mr. Ames was a
frequent guest.

Ames, like so many of the best statesmen of that time, and of all time,
appears to have always had a relish for farming. In a letter written at
Philadelphia in 1796, while groaning over his ill health, which makes
him "the survivor of himself, or rather the troubled ghost of a
politician compelled to haunt the field of battle where he fell," he
says, "I almost wish Adams was here, and I at home sorting squash and
pumpkin seeds for planting." The latter part of the wish was soon to be
realized, but not till this survivor of himself had outdone all the
efforts of his former life, and risen like a Phoenix in his splendid
speech on the Treaty. He frequently wrote essays on agricultural
subjects, and into many of his political articles similes and
illustrations found their way, smelling of the farm. He had an especial
fondness for raising fruit trees, and for breeding calves and pigs. All
the best kinds of fruit were found in his orchard, experiments were
tried on new kinds of grass, and improvements undertaken in the
cultivation of crops. A piggery was attached to the barn, conducted on
scientific principles, and furnished with the best stock. New breeds of
cattle were introduced, and cows were kept with a view both to the sale
of milk, and to the sale of their young. The produce of the farm used to
be sent to Boston in a market wagon. For the carrying on of this
establishment, Mr. Ames kept some half a dozen men. He himself was able
to do but little active service. His disease was called by the
physicians marasmus, a wasting away of the vital powers, a sort of
consumption, not merely of the lungs, but of the stomach and every thing
else. This, while it produced fits of languor and depression, and had
something to do probably with his excessive anxiety on political
subjects, never seemed to take from the cheerfulness of his manners. He
was obliged to practise a rigid system of temperance, and to take a good
deal of exercise, in horseback riding and other ways. Besides the
society of his family, a constant source of happiness, he used to solace
himself with the company of his friends, with writing letters, and with
reading his favorite authors. History and poetry he was especially fond
of. Shakspeare, Milton, and Pope's Homer he read throughout his life,
and during his last year, re-read Virgil, Tacitus and Livy, in the
original, with much delight.

His friends were frequently invited out to partake of his "farmer's
fare," and rare occasions those must have been, when such men as
Theophilus Parsons, and Pickering, and Gore, and Samuel Dexter, and
George Cabot were met together, with now and then one from a greater
distance. Hamilton or Gouverneur Morris, or Sedgwick, or Judge Smith;
while at the head of the table sat Fisher Ames himself, delighting every
one by his humor, and his unrivalled powers of conversation. In
conversation, he surpassed all the men of his time; even Morris, who was
celebrated as a talker, used to be struck quite dumb at his side. His
quick fancy and exuberant humor, his brilliant power of expression, his
acquaintance with literature and affairs, and his genial and sunny
disposition, used to show themselves on such occasions to perfection.
His conversation, like his letters, was mainly upon political topics,
though now and then, agriculture or literature, or the common news of
the day was introduced. When dining once with some Southern gentlemen in
Boston, General Pinckney among the number, after an animated
conversation at the table, just as Ames was leaving the room, somebody
asked him a question. Ames walked on until he reached the door, when,
turning round and resting his elbow on the sideboard, he replied in a
strain of such eloquence and beauty that the company confessed they had
no idea of his powers before. Judge Smith, his room-mate in
Philadelphia, stated, that when he was so sick as to be confined to his
bed, he would sometimes get up and converse with friends who came to see
him, by the hour, and then go back to his bed completely exhausted. His
friends in Boston used to seize upon him when he drove in town, and
"tire him down," as he expressed it, so that when he got back to Dedham,
he wanted to roll like a tired horse.

Ames wrote a good many newspaper essays. This was a habit which he
always kept up, particularly after his retirement. About 1800, on the
election of Jefferson, he was very active in starting a Federal paper in
Boston, the Palladium, and wrote for it constantly. He had great fears
for his country from the predominance of French influence, and deemed it
the duty of a patriot to enlighten his countrymen on the character and
tendency of political measures. His biographer informs us that these
essays were the first drafts, and they appear as such. The language is
appropriate and often very felicitous, but they are diffuse and not
always systematic. There is considerable argument in them, but more of
explanation, appeal and ornament. He wrote to set facts before the
people, and to urge them to vigilance and activity; and his essays are
in fact so many written addresses. They cost him no labor in their
composition, being on subjects that he was constantly revolving in his
mind. They used to be written whenever he found a spare moment and a
scrap of paper, while stopping at a tavern, at the printing office in
Boston, or while waiting for his horse; and are apparently expressed
just as they would have been if he were speaking impromptu. We have
heard him characterized by one of his old friends as essentially a poet;
but it would be more correct to say, that he was altogether an orator.
He had indeed the characteristics of an orator in a rare degree, and
these show themselves in every thing he does. While his mind was clear
and his powers of reasoning were exceedingly good, imagination, the
instinctive perception of analogies, and feeling predominated. His
writings do not justify his fame; yet viewed as what they really are,
the unlabored transcripts of his thoughts, they are remarkable. The flow
of language, the wit, the wealth and aptness of illustration, the
clearness of thought, show an informed and superior mind. They have here
and there profound observations, that show an acquaintance with the
principles of government and with the human heart, and are full of
testimonials to the purity of the author's patriotism, and the goodness
of his heart.

Besides the essays that are published among his works, he wrote many
others perhaps equally good, as well as numerous short, keen paragraphs,
adapted to the time, but not suitable for republication. He also wrote
verses occasionally, among others "an Ode by Jefferson" to the ship that
was to bring Tom Paine from France, in imitation of Horace's to the
vessel that was to bear Virgil from Athens.

He wrote a great many letters, and it is in these that we are presented
with the finest view of his character. They are full of sensible remarks
on contemporary news and events, and sparkle with wit of that slipshod
and easy sort, most delightful in letters, while in grace of style they
surpass most of the correspondence of that period. The public has
already been informed that the correspondence of Fisher Ames, together
with other writings, and some notice of his life, is in course of
publication by one of his sons, Mr. Seth Ames of Cambridge. But few of
his letters were published in his works, as issued in 1809; a few more
appeared in Judge Smith's life, and some twenty in Gibbs's
"Administration of Washington and Adams," but these bear but a very
small proportion to his whole correspondence. Within a short time as
many as one hundred and fifty letters have been found in Springfield,
written to Mr. Dwight, of various dates from 1790 to 1807. A large
number are said to have disappeared, that were in the hands of George
Cabot, and some were burned among the papers of President Kirkland. For
a delightful specimen of Mr. Ames' familiar letters, the reader is
referred to page 89 of that capital biography, the "Life of Judge

Mr. Ames was a man of great urbanity among his neighbors. It was his
custom to converse a good deal with ignorant persons and those remote
from civil affairs. He was desirous to see how such persons looked at
political questions, and often found means in this way of correcting his
own views. He was a great favorite among the servants, and used to sit
down in the kitchen sometimes and talk with them.

He attended the Congregational church at Dedham, and took a good deal of
interest in its affairs. On one occasion he invited out a number of
friends to attend an installation. But about 1797, on the minister's
insisting upon certain high Calvinistic doctrines, Mr. Ames left, and
always went, after that, to the Episcopal church. A certain good old
orthodox lady remarked to him one day, after he left their church, that
she supposed, if they had a nice new meeting-house, he would come back.
"No, madam," rejoined Ames, "if you had a church of silver, and were to
line it with gold, and give me the best seat in it, I should go to the
Episcopal." Though a man of strong religious feelings, he was nothing of
a sectarian, and did not fully agree with the Episcopal views. He was a
friend of Dr. Channing, who visited him in his last illness, and he
ought probably to be reckoned in the same class of Christians with that
eminent clergyman. He was very fond of the Psalms, and used to repeat
the beautiful hymn of Watts, "Up to the hills I lift mine eyes." The
Christmas of 1807, the year before his death, he had his house decked
with green, a favourite custom with him.

He died at the age of fifty, on the fourth of July 1808, at five o'clock
in the morning, leaving to his family a comfortable property. The news
of his death was carried at once to Boston, and Andrew Ritchie, the city
orator for that day, alluded to it in this extempore burst: "But, alas!
the immortal Ames, who, like Ithuriel, was commissioned to discover the
insidious foe, has, like Ithuriel, accomplished his embassy, and on this
morning of our independence has ascended to Heaven. Spirit of
Demosthenes, couldst thou have been a silent and invisible auditor, how
wouldst thou have been delighted to hear from his lips, those strains of
eloquence which once from thine, enchanted the assemblies of Greece!"
Ames' friends in Boston requested his body for the celebration of
funeral rites. It was attended by a large procession from the house of
Christopher Gore to King's Chapel, where an oration was pronounced by
Samuel Dexter. It was afterwards deposited in the family tomb at Dedham,
whence it was removed a few years since, and buried by the side of his
wife and children. A plain white monument marks the spot, in the old
Dedham grave-yard, behind the Episcopal church, with the simple
inscription "FISHER AMES."

=John Quincy Adams.=

[Illustration: Quincy Adams fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Birth-place of John Quincy Adams]


John Quincy Adams was fortunate in the home of his birth and childhood.
It was a New England farm, descended from ancestors who were never so
poor as to be dependent upon others, nor so rich as to be exempted from
dependence upon themselves. It was situated in the town of Quincy, then
the first parish of the town of Braintree, and the oldest permanent
settlement of Massachusetts proper.[17] The first parish became a town
by its present name, twenty-five years after the birth of Mr. Adams,
viz. in 1792. It was named in honor of John Quincy, Mr. Adams's maternal
great-grandfather, an eminent man. His death, and the transmission of
his name to his great-grandson, are thus commemorated by the latter:

"He was dying when I was baptized, and his daughter, my grandmother,
present at my birth, requested that I should receive his name. The fact,
recorded by my father at the time, has connected with that portion of my
name a charm of mingled sensibility and devotion. It was filial
tenderness that gave the name. It was the name of one passing from earth
to immortality. It has been to me a perpetual admonition to do nothing
unworthy of it."

The farm-house stands at the foot of an eminence called Penn's Hill,
about a mile south of Quincy village. It is an old-fashioned dwelling,
having a two-story front, and sloping far away to a single one in the
rear. This style is peculiar to the early descendants of the Puritan
fathers of America. Specimens are becoming rarer every year; and being
invariably built of wood, must soon pass away, but not without "the
tribute of a sigh" from those, who associate with them memories of the
wide old fireplaces, huge glowing backlogs, and hospitable cheer.

With this modest material environment of the child, was coupled an
intellectual and moral, which was golden. His father, the illustrious
John Adams, was bred, and in his youth labored, on the farm. At the
birth of his son, he was still a young man, being just turned of thirty,
but ripe both in general and professional knowledge, and already
recognized as one of the ablest counsellors and most powerful pleaders
at the bar of the province.

The mother of John Quincy Adams was worthy to be the companion and
counsellor of the statesman just described. By reason of slender health
she never attended a school. As to the general education allowed to
girls at that day, she tells us that it was limited "in the best
families to writing, arithmetic, and, in rare instances, music and
dancing;" and that "it was fashionable to ridicule female learning."
From her father, a clergyman, from her mother, a daughter of John
Quincy, and above all from her grandmother, his wife, she derived
liberal lessons and salutary examples. Thus her education was entirely
domestic and social. Perhaps it was the better for the absence of that
absorbing passion of the schools, which for the most part rests as well
satisfied with negative elevation by the failure of another, as with
positive elevation by the improvement of one's self. The excellent and
pleasant volume of her letters, which has gone through several editions,
indicates much historical, scriptural, and especially poetical and
ethical culture. In propriety, ease, vivacity and grace, they compare
not unfavorably with the best epistolary collections; and in constant
good sense, and occasional depth and eloquence, no letter-writer can be
named as her superior. To her only daughter, mother of the late Mrs. De
Wint, she wrote concerning the influence of her grandmother as follows:

"I have not forgotten the excellent lessons which I received from my
grandmother, at a very early period of life. I frequently think they
made a more durable impression upon my mind than those which I received
from my own parents. Whether it was owing to a happy method of mixing
instruction and amusement together, or from an inflexible adherence to
certain principles, which I could not but see and approve when a child,
I know not; but maturer years have made them oracles of wisdom to me.
Her lively, cheerful disposition animated all around her, whilst she
edified all by her unaffected piety. I cherish her memory with a holy
veneration, whose maxims I have treasured, whose virtues live in my
remembrance--happy if I could say they have been transplanted into my

The concluding aspiration was more than realized, because Mrs. Adams
lived more than the fortunate subject of her eulogy, and more than any
American woman of her time. She was cheerful, pious, compassionate,
discriminating, just and courageous up to the demand of the times. She
was a calm adviser, a zealous assistant, and a never failing consolation
of her partner, in all his labors and anxieties, public and private.
That the laborers might be spared for the army, she was willing to work
in the field. Diligent, frugal, industrious and indefatigable in the
arrangement and details of the household and the farm, the entire
management of which devolved upon her for a series of years, she
preserved for him amidst general depreciation and loss of property, an
independence, upon which he could always count and at last retire. At
the same time she responded to the numerous calls of humanity,
irrespective of opinions and parties. If there was a patriot of the
Revolution who merited the title of _Washington of women_, she was the

It is gratifying to know that this rare combination of virtue and
endowments met with a just appreciation from her great husband. In his
autobiography, written at a late period of life, he records this
touching testimony, that "his connection with her had been the source of
all his felicity," and his unavoidable separations from her, "of all the
griefs of his heart, and all that he esteemed real afflictions in his
life." Throughout the two volumes of letters to her, embracing a period
of twenty-seven years, the lover is more conspicuous than the statesman;
and she on her part regarded him with an affection unchangeable and ever
fresh during more than half a century of married life. On one of the
anniversaries of her wedding she wrote from Braintree to him in Europe:

"Look at this date and tell me what are the thoughts which arise in your
mind. Do you not recollect that eighteen years have run their circuit,
since we pledged our mutual faith, and the hymeneal torch was lighted at
the altar of love? Yet, yet it burns with unabating fervor. Old ocean
cannot quench it; old Time cannot smother it in this bosom. It cheers me
in the lonely hour."

The homely place at Penn's Hill was thrice ennobled, twice as the
birth-place of two noble men--noble before they were Presidents; and
thirdly as the successful rival of the palaces inhabited by its
proprietors at the most splendid courts of Europe, which never for a
moment supplanted it in their affections. Mrs. Adams wrote often from
Paris and London in this strain: "My humble cottage at the foot of the
hill has more charms for me than the drawing-room of St. James;" and
John Adams still oftener thus: "I had rather build wall on Penn's Hill
than be the first prince of Europe, or the first general or first
senator of America."

Such were the hearts that unfolded the childhood of John Quincy Adams.

Of all the things which grace or deform the early home, the principles,
aims and efforts of the parents in conducting the education of the child
are the most important to both. The mutual letters of the parents, in
the present case, contain such wise and patriotic precepts, such
sagacious methods, such earnest and tender persuasions to the
acquisition of all virtue, knowledge, arts and accomplishments, that can
purify and exalt the human character, that they would form a valuable
manual for the training of true men and purer patriots.

Although the spot which has been mentioned was John Quincy Adams's
principal home until he was nearly eleven, yet he resided at two
different intervals, within that time, four or five years in Boston; his
father's professional business at one time, and his failing health at
another, rendering the alternation necessary. The first Boston residence
was the White House, so called, in Brattle-street. In front of this a
British regiment was exercised every morning by Major Small, during the
fall and winter of 1768, to the no little annoyance of the tenant. But
says he, "in the evening, I was soothed by the sweet songs, violins and
flutes of the serenading Sons of Liberty." The family returned to
Braintree in the spring of 1771. In November, 1772, they again removed
to Boston, and occupied a house which John Adams had purchased in Queen
(now Court) street, in which he also kept his office. From this issued
state papers and appeals, which did not a little to fix the destiny of
the country. The ground of that house has descended to Charles Francis
Adams, his grandson. In 1774 Penn's Hill became the permanent home of
the family, although John Adams continued his office in Boston, attended
by students at law, until it was broken up by the event of April 19th,

Soon after the final return to Quincy, we begin to have a personal
acquaintance with the boy, now seven years old. Mrs. Adams writes to her
husband, then attending the Congress in Philadelphia:

"I have taken a very great fondness for reading Rollin's Ancient History
since you left me. I am determined to go through with it, if possible,
in these my days of solitude. I find great pleasure and entertainment
from it, and I have persuaded Johnny to read me a page or two every day,
and hope he will, from a desire to oblige me, entertain a fondness for

In the same year the first mention is made of his regular attendance
upon a teacher. The person selected in that capacity was a young man
named Thaxter, a student at law, transferred from the office in Boston,
to the family in Quincy. The boy seems to have been very much attached
to him. Mrs. Adams assigned the following reasons for preferring this
arrangement to the public town school.

"I am certain that if he does not get so much good, he gets less harm;
and I have always thought it of very great importance that children
should be unaccustomed to such examples as would tend to corrupt the
purity of their words and actions, that they may chill with horror at
the sound of an oath, and blush with indignation at an obscene

This furnishes a pleasing coincidence with a precept of ancient

    Let nothing foul in speech or act intrude,
    Where reverend childhood is.

There is no disapprobation of public schools to be inferred from this.
These are indispensable for the general good; but if from this narrative
a hint should be taken for making them more and more pure, and worthy of
their saving mission, such an incident will be welcome.

Of the next memorable year we have a reminiscence from himself. It was
related in a speech at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1843.

"In 1775 the minute men, from a hundred towns in the Provinces, were
marching to the scenes of the opening war. Many of them called at our
house, and received the hospitality of John Adams. All were lodged in
the house whom the house would contain, others in the barns, and
wherever they could find a place. There were then in my father's house
some dozen or two of pewter spoons; and I well recollect seeing some of
the men engaged in running those spoons into bullets. Do you wonder that
a boy of seven years of age, who witnessed these scenes, should be a

He saw from Penn's Hill the flames of Charlestown, and heard the guns of
Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights.

In one of her letters from France, Mrs. Adams remarks that he was
generally taken to be older than his sister (about two years older than
he), because he usually conversed with persons older than himself--a
remarkable proof of a constant aim at improvement, of a wise discernment
of the means, and of the maturity of acquisitions already made. Edward
Everett remarks in his eulogy, that such a stage as boyhood seems not to
have been in the life of John Quincy Adams. While he was under ten, he
wrote to his father the earliest production of his pen which has been
given to the public. It is found in Governor Seward's Memoir of his life,
and was addressed to his father.

           BRAINTREE, June 2d, 1777.

Dear Sir:--I love to receive letters very well, much better than I love
to write them. I make but a poor figure at composition. My head is much
too fickle. My mind is running after bird's eggs, play and trifles, till
I get vexed with myself. Mamma has a troublesome task to keep me a
studying. I own I am ashamed of myself. I have but just entered the
third volume of Rollin's History, but I designed to have got half thro'
it by this time. I am determined this week to be more diligent. Mr.
Thaxter is absent at Court. I have set myself a stent this week to read
the third volume half out. If I can keep my resolution, I may again, at
the end of a week, give a better account of myself. I wish, sir, you
would give me in writing some instructions in regard to the use of my
time, and advise me how to proportion my studies and play, and I will
keep them by me, and endeavor to follow them.

With the present determination of growing better, I am, dear sir, your

P.S. Sir, if you will be so good as to favor me with a blank-book, I
will transcribe the most remarkable passages I meet with in my reading,
which will serve to fix them on my mind.

Soon after the evacuation of Boston by Lord Howe, Mrs. Adams announces
that "Johnny has become post-rider from Boston to Braintree." The
distance was nine miles, and he was nine years old. In this hardy
enterprise, and in the foregoing letter, we may mark the strong hold
which the favourite maxims of the parents had taken of their child's
mind. Among those maxims were these:

To begin composition very early by writing descriptions of natural
objects, as a storm, a country residence; or narrative of events, as a
walk, ride, or the transactions of a day.

To transcribe the best passages from the best writers in the course of
reading, as a means of forming the style as well as storing the memory.

To cultivate spirit and hardihood, activity and power of endurance.

Soon after this, the lad ceased to have a home except in the bosom of
affection, and that was a divided one. On the 13th of February, 1778, he
embarked for France with his father, who had been appointed a
commissioner, jointly with Dr. Franklin and Arthur Lee, to negotiate
treaties of alliance and commerce with that country. From the place of
embarcation his father wrote: "Johnny sends his duty to his mamma, and
love to his sister and brothers. _He behaves like a man._"

When they arrived in France, after escaping extraordinary perils at sea,
they found the treaty of alliance already concluded. The son was put to
school in Paris, and gave his father "great satisfaction, both by his
assiduity to his books and his discreet behavior," all which the father
lovingly attributes to the lessons of the mother. He calls the boy "the
joy of his heart."

He was permitted to tarry but three months, when he was commissioned to
negotiate treaties of independence, peace, and commerce with Great
Britain. He embarked for France in the month of November, accompanied by
Francis Dana as secretary of legation, and by his two oldest sons, John
and Charles.[18] The vessel sprung a leak and was compelled to put into
the nearest port, which proved to be Ferrol, where they landed safe
December seventh. One of the first things was to buy a dictionary and
grammar for the boys, who "went to learning Spanish as fast as
possible." Over high mountains, by rough and miry roads, a-muleback, and
in the depth of winter, they wound their toilsome way, much of the time
on foot, from Ferrol to Paris, a journey of a thousand miles, arriving
about the middle of February, 1780. On this occasion, it is to be
presumed, Master Johnny must have derived no small benefit from the
service he had seen as "post-rider."

At Paris he immediately entered an academy, but in the autumn
accompanied his father to Holland, who had received superadded
commissions to negotiate private loans, and public treaties there. For a
few months the son was sent to a common school in Amsterdam, but in
December he was removed to Leyden, to learn Latin and Greek under the
distinguished teachers there, and to attend the lectures of celebrated
professors in the University. The reasons of this transfer are worth
repeating, as they mark the strong and habitual aversion which John
Adams felt and inculcated, to every species of littleness and meanness.

"I should not wish to have children educated in the common schools of
this country, where a littleness of soul is notorious. The masters are
mean-spirited wretches, pinching, kicking and boxing the children upon
every turn. There is a general littleness, arising from the incessant
contemplation of stivers and doits. Frugality and industry, are virtues
every where, but avarice and stinginess are not frugality."

In July, 1781, the son accompanied to St. Petersburgh Mr. Francis Dana,
who had been appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the court of Russia.
The original purpose was study, observation, and general improvement,
under the guidance of a trusty and accomplished friend. The youth was
not, as has been stated, appointed secretary of the Minister at the time
they started; but by his readiness and capability he came to be employed
by Mr. Dana as interpreter and secretary, difficult and delicate trusts,
probably never before confided to a boy of thirteen.

In October, 1782, the youth left St. Petersburgh, and paying passing
visits to Sweden, Denmark, Hamburg, and Bremen, reached the Hague in
April, 1783, and there resumed his studies. Meantime his father, having
received assurances that Great Britain was prepared to treat for peace
on the basis of independence, had repaired to Paris to open the
negotiation. He found that Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, two of his
colleagues on the same commission, had commenced the business first with
informal agents, and afterwards with a commissioner of his majesty,
George the Third. The Definitive Treaty was signed September the third,
1783, at which act John Quincy Adams was summoned by his father to be
present, and to assume the duties of secretary. In that capacity he made
one of the copies of the treaty. The father on this occasion wrote:
"Congress are at such grievous expense that I shall have no other
secretary but my son. He, however, is a very good one. He writes a good
hand very fast, and is steady at his pen and books."

In this autumn the two made a trip to London, partly for the health of
the elder, which had been seriously impaired by incessant labor, and
partly for the benefit of the younger, as it was expected then that both
would bid adieu to Europe and embark for America in the ensuing spring.
John Adams had the satisfaction of hearing the King announce to the
Parliament and people from the throne, that he had concluded a Treaty of
Peace with the United States of America.

In January, 1784, the father and son proceeded to Holland to negotiate a
new loan for the purpose of meeting the interest on the former one.
There they remained until the latter part of July, when a letter came
communicating the arrival of Mrs. Adams and her daughter in London. John
Adams despatched his son to meet them, and wrote to his wife:

"Your letter of the twenty-third has made me the happiest man upon
earth. I am twenty years younger than I was yesterday. It is a cruel
mortification to me that I cannot go to meet you in London; but there
are a variety of reasons decisively against it, which I will communicate
to you here. Meantime I send you a son, who is one of the greatest
travellers of his age, and without partiality, I think as promising and
manly a youth, as is in the whole world. He will purchase a coach, in
which we four must travel to Paris; let it be large and strong. After
spending a week or two here you will have to set out with me for France,
but there are no seas between; a good road, a fine season, and we will
make moderate journeys, and see the curiosities of several cities in our
way,--Utrecht, Breda, Antwerp, Brussels, &c. &c. It is the first time in
Europe that I looked forward to a journey with pleasure. Now I expect a
great deal. I think myself made for this world."

John Quincy Adams reached London the thirtieth of July. "When he
entered," says Mrs. Adams, "we had so many strangers that I drew back,
not really believing my eyes, till he cried out, 'O my mamma, and my
dear sister!' Nothing but the eyes appeared what he once was. His
appearance is that of a man, and in his countenance the most perfect
good-humor. His conversation by no means denies his station. I think
you do not approve the word _feelings_. I know not what to substitute in
lieu, nor how to describe mine." The son was then seventeen, and the
separation had continued nearly five years.

Notwithstanding that the husband's letter had forbidden hope of his
participating in this re-union, he did so after all, practising a
surprise charmingly delicate and gallant. It was a blissful meeting not
only of happy friends, but of merit and reward, a beautiful and
honorable consummation of mutual sacrifices and toils. Seldom does the
cup of joy so effervesce.

Independence predicted in youth, moved and sustained with unrivalled
eloquence in manhood, at home--confirmed and consolidated by loans,
alliances, ships, and troops--obtained, in part or all, by him,
abroad--Washington nominated Chief of the army--the American Navy
created--peace negotiated--this, this (if civic virtues and achievments
were honored only equally with martial) would have been the circle of
Golden Medals, which John Adams might have laid at the feet of his
admirable wife!

Five months after this, as if too full for earlier utterance, she wrote
to her sister: "You will chide me, perhaps, for not relating to you an
event which took place in London, that of unexpectedly meeting my long
absent friend; for from his letters by my son, I had no idea that he
would come. But you know, my dear sister, that poets and painters wisely
draw a veil over scenes which surpass the pen of the one and the pencil
of the other."

The family reached Paris in the latter part of August, and established
their residence at Auteuil, four miles from the city. The son pursued
his studies, his mother, by his particular desire, writing her charming
letters to American friends by his fireside. Sometimes he copied them in
his plain and beautiful hand, always equal to print, and made her think,
as she gayly remarks, that they were really worth something. The circle
of familiar visitors included Franklin, Jefferson and his daughter, La
Fayette and his wife; of formal, all the ministers domestic and foreign,
and as many of the elite of fashion and of fame as they chose. But Mrs.
Adams was always a modest and retiring woman. Of Franklin she wrote:
"His character, from my infancy, I had been taught to venerate. I found
him social, not talkative; and when he spoke, something useful dropped
from, his tongue."

Of Jefferson, "I shall really regret to leave Mr. Jefferson. He is one
of the choice ones of the earth. On Thursday I dine with him at his
house. On Sunday he is to dine with us. On Monday we all dine with the

In the spring of 1785 John Adams received the appointment of Minister
Plenipotentiary to Great Britain, the first from the United States of
America. A new separation ensued. He, his wife and daughter departed for
London, but not the son, as has been stated. He departed for Harvard
University, where, in the following March, he entered the Junior Class,
and graduated with distinguished honor in 1787. He studied law at
Newburyport in the office of Theophilus Parsons, afterwards the eminent
Chief Justice. He entered upon the practice of the law in Boston in
1790, and boarded in the family of Dr. Thomas Welsh. He continued thus
four years, gradually enlarging the circle of his business and the
amount of his income. Meantime, great and exciting public questions
arose, and in discussing them he obtained a sudden and wide distinction.
A tract from his pen in answer to a portion of Paine's Rights of Man,
and expressing doubts of the ultimate success of the French Revolution,
appeared in 1791, was republished in England and attributed to John
Adams. This was at a time when the enthusiasm for the great French
movement was at its height in this country. Events too soon showed that
the writer had inherited his father's sagacity.

Another publication of his, which appeared in 1793, maintained the
right, duty and policy of our assuming a neutral attitude towards the
respective combatants in the wars arising from the French Revolution.
This publication preceded Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality. In
the same year Mr. Adams reviewed the course of Genet, applying to it and
the condition of the country the principles of public law.

These writings attracted the attention of Washington, and he is supposed
to have derived essential aid from them in some of the most difficult
conjunctures of his administration. Upon the recommendation of
Jefferson, made as he was about to retire from the office of Secretary
of State, Washington determined to appoint John Quincy Adams Minister
Resident in Holland. An intimation from Washington to the
Vice-President, in order that he might give his wife timely notice to
prepare for the departure of her son, was the first knowledge that any
member of the family had, that such an appointment was thought of. Mr.
Adams repaired to his post, and remained there till near the close of
Washington's administration, with the exception of an additional mission
to London in 1795, to exchange ratifications of Jay's treaty, and agree
upon certain arrangements for its execution.

On this occasion he met, at the house of her father, the American consul
in London, Miss LOUISA CATHERINE JOHNSON, who afterwards became his
wife. In consequence of a rumor of his intending to resign, Washington
wrote to the Vice-President:

"Your son must not think of retiring from the path he is in. His
prospects, if he pursues it, are fair; and I shall be much surprised,
if, in as short a time as can well be expected, he is not at the head of
the Diplomatic Corps, be the government administered by whomsoever it

Subsequently Washington expressed himself still more strongly, aiming to
overcome the scruples of President Adams about continuing his son in
office under his own administration. Just before his retirement,
Washington appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal. This
destination was changed by his father to Berlin. Before assuming the
station, he was married in London to Miss Johnson.

While in Prussia he negotiated an important commercial treaty, and wrote
letters from Silesia, which were published in the portfolio, and passed
through some editions and translations in Europe. In 1801 he was
recalled by his father, to save, as it is said, Mr. Jefferson from the
awkwardness of turning out the son of his old friend, whose appointment
he had recommended. If such was the motive of the recall, it was a
miscalculation, for Jefferson did not hesitate to remove him from the
small office of commissioner of bankruptcy, to which he had been
appointed by the district judge of Massachusetts upon his return from
abroad. Mr. Jefferson defended himself from censure for this little act,
by alleging that he did not know when he made the removal, nor who the
incumbent of the office was; an excuse more inexcusable than the act

Mr. Adams re-established himself with his family in Boston. He occupied
a house in Hanover-street, not now standing, and another which he
purchased at the corner of Tremont and Boylston streets, now used for
stores, and owned by his only surviving son.

In 1802 he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts from Suffolk

In 1803, to the Senate of the United States.

In 1806, Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory in Harvard University, but in
subordination to his duties in Congress.

In 1808 he resigned his seat in the Senate, the Legislature of his State
having instructed him to oppose the restrictive measures of Jefferson,
and he having given a zealous support to the embargo.

In 1809 he was appointed by Madison Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia;
and resigned his professorship in the University.

In 1811 he was nominated by Madison and unanimously confirmed by the
Senate, as judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Adams
having declined this office, Judge Story was appointed.

In 1814 he was appointed first commissioner at Ghent to treat with Great
Britain for peace.

In 1815, Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain.

In 1817, Secretary of State.

In 1825, elected President of the United States.

Mr. Adams, released from the toils of thirty-five years of unintermitted
public service, now sought a home which remains to be described.

John Adams, while yet minister in England, purchased a seat in Quincy of
Mr. Borland, an old friend and neighbor, descended from the Vassals, a
considerable family in the town and province: this was in 1786. On his
return from Europe in 1788, the purchaser took possession with his
family; and with the exception of two terms as Vice-President, and one
as President of the United States, he never left it until his death on
the fourth of July, 1826. This estate descended to his son, as did also
that at Penn's Hill.

It is situated about half a mile north of Quincy village, on the old
Boston road, where massive mile-stones, erected before the birth of John
Adams, may still be seen. The farm consists of one hundred acres, now
productive, though in a rude state when acquired. Mrs. John Adams
described her husband in 1801 as "busy among his haymakers, and getting
thirty tons on the spot, which eight years before yielded only six."

The house is supposed to be a hundred and fifty years old. It is built
of wood, quite unpretending, yet from association or other cause, it has
a distinguished and venerable aspect. Approached from the north or city
side, it presents a sharp gable in the old English style of
architecture. The opposite end is very different, and has a hipped or
gambrel gable. The length may be some seventy feet, the height thirty,
consisting of two stories, and a suit of attic chambers, with large
luthern windows. A piazza runs along the centre of the basement in
front. The south or gambrel-roofed section of the edifice, was built by
John Adams. The principal entrance is at the junction of this section
with the main building. It opens into a spacious entry with a staircase
on the right, and busts of Washington and John Quincy Adams on the left.
At the foot of the stairs is the door of the principal apartment, called
the Long Room. It is plainly finished, and about seven feet in height.
It contains portraits of John Adams and his wife by Stewart, John Quincy
Adams and his wife by the same; Thomas Jefferson in French costume,
taken in France by Browne. He appears much handsomer than in most of his
portraits. Over the fireplace is a very old and curious picture of a
child, supposed by John Quincy Adams to be his great-grandfather, John
Quincy. There are several other portraits of less note. The chairs are
of plain mahogany, with stuffed seats and backs, and hair-cloth
coverings. They belonged to Mrs. Adams. Opposite to the door of this
room, on the left side of the entry, is the door of the dining-room,
called the Middle Room. This is within the original building. It
contains a number of portraits; the most conspicuous is that of
Washington in his uniform. It was painted by Savage, and was purchased by
the elder Adams. It has a more solemn and concentrated look than
Stewart's Washington--more expressive, but not so symmetrical. It
resembles Peale's Pater Patriæ. John Quincy Adams considered it a better
likeness than the popular portraits. It is said to have been taken when
Washington had lost his teeth, and had not substituted artificial ones.
The lips appear much compressed, the visage elongated and thinner than
in Stewart's picture. By its side is Mrs. Washington, painted by the
same artist. There is a fine engraving of Copley's picture of the Death
of Chatham. It is a proof copy, presented by the painter to John Adams.
Passing from the Middle Room through another but small front entry, we
reach the north basement room, called the Keeping Room. This is finished
with considerable luxury for a provincial parlor of its time. It is
panelled from floor to ceiling with mahogany. The effect is somewhat
heavy, to obviate which the elder Mrs. Adams, a votary of all
cheerfulness, had it painted white. It has now been restored, and
presents an antique and rich appearance. Nearly all the furniture of
this as well as the Middle Room, including the Turkey carpet of the
latter, still bright and substantial, was John Adams's. All these
apartments are connected by a longitudinal passage in the rear, which
communicates with the kitchen.

The Library is in the second story over the Long Room. This chamber was
constantly occupied by the Elder President, both for a sitting and
sleeping room during his latter years. Here the writer saw him at the
age of nearly ninety, delighted with hearing Scott's novels, or Dupuis'
Origine de tous les Cultes, or the simplest story-book, which he could
get his grandchildren to read to him. He seemed very cheerful, and ready
to depart, remarking that "he had eat his cake." When his son came home
from Washington, he converted this room into a library. Of course his
books are very miscellaneous both as to subjects and languages; but they
are not all here. Some are arranged on the sides of passage-ways and in
other parts. A portion of them compose in part a library at his son's
town residence. John Adams in his lifetime gave his library--a very
valuable one--to the town of Quincy, together with several tracts of
land for the erection of an academy or classical school, to which his
library is ultimately to attach. The entire library of John Quincy Adams
comprises twelve thousand volumes. To this must be added a chest full of
manuscripts, original and translated, in prose and poetry. They show
unbounded industry. From his boyhood to the age of fifty, when he took
the Department of State, he was an intense student. In this chest are
many of the earlier fruits, such as complete versions of a large number
of the classics, of German and other foreign works.

The garden lies on the north, contiguous to the house, and connects with
a lawn, narrow in front of the house, but widening considerably south of
it. The whole is inclosed on the roadside by a solid wall of Quincy
granite, some six feet high, except the section immediately before the
house, which is a low stone wall, surmounted by a light wooden fence of
an obsolete fashion, with two gates in the same style, leading to the
two front doors. The whole extent does not much exceed an acre. It
embraces an ornamental and kitchen garden, the former occupying the side
near the road, and the latter extending by the side and beyond the
kitchen and offices to an open meadow and orchard. The principal walk is
through the ornamental portion of the garden, parallel with the road,
and terminates at a border of thrifty forest trees, disposed, as they
should be, without any regard to order. From the walk above-mentioned
another strikes out at a right angle, and skirts the border of trees,
till it disappears in the expanse of meadow. Most of the trees were
raised by John Quincy Adams from the seeds, which he was in the habit of
picking up in his wanderings. The most particular interest attaches to a
shagbark, which he planted more than fifty years ago. It stands near the
angle of the two alleys. In this tree he took a particular satisfaction,
but he was an enthusiast in regard to all the trees of the forest,
differing in this respect from his father, who, as an agriculturist of
the Cato stamp, was more inclined to lay the axe to them than to
propagate them. From this plantation Charles Francis Adams was supplied
with a great number and variety of trees to embellish a residence, which
he built in his father's lifetime on the summit of a high hill, west of
the old mansion. This is called President's Hill. It affords one of the
finest sea landscapes which can be found. John Adams used to say that he
had never seen, in any part of the world, so fine a view. It comprises a
wide range of bays, islands and channels seaward, with seats and
villages on the intervening land. This prospect lies eastward, and
includes Mount Wollaston, situated near the seashore, and remarkable as
the first spot settled in the town and State, and as giving its name for
many of the first years to the entire settlement. This belonged to the
great-grandfather, John Quincy, and is now a part of the Adams estate.

The meeting-house is half a mile south of the old mansion. The material
is granite, a donation of John Adams. It has a handsome portico,
supported by beautiful and massive Doric pillars, not an unfit emblem of
the donor. Beneath the porch, his son constructed, in the most durable
manner, a crypt, in which he piously deposited the remains of his
parents; and in the body of the church, on the right of the pulpit, he
erected to their sacred memories a marble monument surmounted by a bust
of John Adams, and inscribed with an affecting and noble epitaph.

After leading "a wandering life about the world," as he himself calls
it--a life of many changes and many labors, John Quincy Adams, at
sixty-two, sought the quiet and seclusion of his father's house. He was
yet, for his years, a model of physical vigor and activity; for, though
by nature convivial as his father was, and capable, on an occasion, of
some extra glasses, he was by habit moderate in meat and drink, never
eating more than was first served on his plate, and consequently never
mixing a variety of dishes. He used himself to attribute much of the
high health he enjoyed to his walks and his baths. Early every morning,
when the season admitted, he sought a place where he could take a plunge
and swim at large. A creek, with a wharf or pier projecting into it,
called Black's Wharf, about a quarter of a mile from his house, served
these purposes in Quincy. At Washington he resorted to the broad
Potomac. There, leaving his apparel in charge of an attendant, (for it
is said that it was once purloined!) he used to buffet the waves before
sunrise. He was an easy and expert swimmer, and delighted so much in the
element, that he would swim and float from one to two or three hours at
a time. An absurd story obtained currency, that he used this exercise in
winter, breaking the ice, if necessary, to get the indispensable plunge!
This was fiction. He did not bathe at all in winter, nor at other times
from theory, but for pleasure.

He bore abstinence and irregularity in his meals with singular
indifference. Whether he breakfasted at seven or ten, whether he dined
at two, or not at all, appeared to be questions with which he did not
concern himself. It is related that having sat in the House of
Representatives from eight o'clock in the morning till after midnight, a
friend accosted him, and expressed the hope that he had taken
refreshment in all that time; he replied that he had not left his seat,
and held up a _bit of hard bread_. His entertainments of his friends
were distinguished for abundance, order, elegance, and the utmost
perfection in every particular, but not for extravagance and luxury of
table furniture. His accomplished lady, of course, had much to do with
this. He rose very early, lighting the fire and his lamp in his library,
while the surrounding world was yet buried in slumber. This was his time
for writing. Washington and Hamilton had the same habit.

He was unostentatious and almost always walked, whether for visiting,
business or exercise. At Quincy he used to go up President's Hill to
meet the sun from the sea, and sometimes walked to the residence of his
son in Boston before breakfast. Regularly, before the hour of the daily
sessions of Congress, he was seen wending his quiet way towards the
Capitol, seldom or never using, in the worst of weather, a carriage. He
stayed one night to a late hour, listening to a debate in the Senate on
the expunging resolution. As he was starting for home in the face of a
fierce snow-storm, and in snow a foot deep, a gentleman proposed to
conduct him to his house. "I thank you, sir, for your kindness," said
he, "but I do not need the service of any one. I am somewhat advanced in
life, but not yet, by the blessing of God, infirm, or what Dr. Johnson
would call 'superfluous;' and you may recollect what old Adam says in
'As you Like it'--

    "'For in my youth I never did apply
    Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood.'"

While he was President, the writer was once sitting in the drawing-room
of a highbred lady in Boston. A hat not very new glanced under the
window sill. The owner rung at the door; and not finding the gentleman
at home, continued his walk. A servant entered and presented the card of
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. "I do wonder," exclaimed the lady, "that the
President of the United States will go about in such a manner!"

His apparel was always plain, scrupulously neat, and reasonably well
worn. It was made for the comfort of the wearer, who asked not of the

When he retired from the Presidency, he resolved to pass the remainder
of his days under the paternal roof and the beloved shades. He
anticipated and desired nothing but quiet, animated by the excitements
of intellectual and rural occupations. He had before him the congenial
task, to which he had long aspired, of dispensing the treasures of
wisdom contained in the unwritten life and unpublished writings of his
father. He was ready to impart of his own inexhaustible wealth of
experience, observation and erudition, to any one capable of receiving.
It takes much to reconcile a thoughtful mind to the loss of what would
have been gained by the proposed employment of his leisure. And we had

Had the record of his public life, ample and honorable as it was, been
now closed, those pages on which patriots, philanthropists and poets
will for ever dwell with gratitude and delight, would have been wanting.
Hitherto he had done remarkably well what many others, with a knowledge
of precedents and of routine and with habits of industry, might have
done, if not as well, yet acceptably. He was now called to do what no
other man in the Republic had strength and heart to attempt.

He was endowed with a memory uncommonly retentive. He could remember and
quote with precision, works which he had not looked at for forty years.
Add to this his untiring diligence and perseverance, and the advantages
of his position and employment at various capitals in the old world, and
the story of his vast acquisitions is told. His love lay in history,
literature, moral philosophy and public law. With the Greek, Latin,
French, German, and Italian languages and principal writers he was
familiar. His favorite English poet was Shakspeare, whom he commented
upon and recited with discrimination and force, surpassing, it is said,
in justness of conception, the great personators of his principal
characters. Among the classics, he especially loved Ovid, unquestionably
the Shakspeare of the Romans. Cicero was greatly beloved, and most
diligently studied, translated, and commented upon. For many of his
latter years he never read continuously. He would fall asleep over his
book. But to elucidate any subject he had in hand, he wielded his
library with wakefulness and execution lively enough.

He was fond of art in all its departments, but most in the pictorial. In
his "Residence at the Court of London," Mr. Rush has drawn an attractive
sketch of him at home.

"His tastes were all refined. Literature and art were familiar and dear
to him. At his hospitable board I have listened to disquisitions from
his lips, on poetry, especially the dramas of Shakspeare, music,
painting and sculpture, of rare excellence and untiring interest. A
critical scholar in the dead languages, in French, German and Italian,
he could draw at will from the wealth of these tongues to illustrate any
particular topic. There was no fine painting or statue, of which he did
not know the details and the history. There was not even an opera, or a
celebrated composer, of which or of whom he could not point out the
distinguishing merits and the chief compositions. Yet he was a
hard-working and assiduous man of business; and a more regular,
punctual, and comprehensive diplomatic correspondence than his, no
country can probably boast."

Mr. Adams was generally regarded as cold and austere. The testimony of
persons who enjoyed an intimacy with him is the reverse of this. Mr.
Rush says that "under an exterior of at times repulsive coldness, dwelt
a heart as warm, sympathies as quick, and affections as overflowing as
ever animated any bosom." And Mr. Everett, that "in real kindness and
tenderness of feeling, no man surpassed him." There is an abundance of
like evidence on this head.

He was taciturn rather than talkative, preferring to think and to muse.
At times his nature craved converse, and delighted in the play of
familiar chat. Occasionally he threw out a lure to debate. If great
principles were seriously called in question, he would pour out a rapid
and uninterrupted torrent.

The poets had been the delight of his youth. He read them in the
intervals of retirement at Quincy with a youthful enthusiasm, and tears
and laughter came by turns, as their sad and bright visions passed
before him. Pope was a favorite, "and the intonations of his voice in
repeating the 'Messiah,'" says an inmate of the family, "will never
cease to vibrate on the ear of memory." He was a deeply religious man,
and though not taking the most unprejudiced views of divinity, what he
received as spiritual truths were to him most evident and momentous
realities, and he derived from them a purifying and invigorating power.
"The dying Christian's Address to his Soul" was replete with pathos and
beauty for him. He is remembered to have repeated it one evening with an
intense expression of religious faith and joy; adding the Latin lines of
Adrian, which Pope imitated. He was thought by some to have a tendency
to Calvinistic theology, and to regard Unitarianism as too abstract and
frigid. Thus he used sometimes to talk, but it was supposed to be for
the purpose of putting Unitarians upon a defence of their faith, rather
than with a serious design to impair it.

On one occasion he conversed on the subject of popular applause and
admiration. Its caprice, said he, is equalled only by its worthlessness,
and the misery of that being who lives on its breath. There is one
stanza of Thomson's Castle of Indolence, that is worth whole volumes of
modern poetry; though it is the fashion to speak contemptuously of
Thomson. He then repeated with startling force of manner and energy of
enunciation, the third stanza, second canto, of that poem.

     "I care not, fortune, what you me deny;
      You cannot rob me of free nature's grace,
      You cannot shut the windows of the sky,
      Through which Aurora shows her brightening face;
      You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
      The woods and lawns by living streams at eve:
      Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace,
      And I their toys to the great children leave;
    Of Fancy, Reason, Virtue, nought can me bereave."

He did not much admire the poetry of Byron. One objection which he is
recollected to have made to the poet was the use of the word "rot."
There is some peculiarity in Byron in this respect; thus in Childe

    "The Bucentaur lies _rotting_ unrestored,
    Where meaner relics must not dare to _rot_."

This, if a sound objection, which it is not, was narrow for so great a
man. The cause of this distaste lay deeper. Mr. Adams, though a dear
lover of Shakspeare, was of the Johnsonian school of writers. His
diction is elaborate, stately, and in his earlier writings verbose, but
always polished, harmonious, and sustained. He liked unconsciously Latin
English better than Anglo-Saxon. Byron, in common with a large and
increasing class of moderns, loved to borrow the force of familiar and
every-day language, and to lend to it the dignity and beauty of deep
thought and high poetic fancy. Not improbably, the moral obliquities of
the poet had their influence in qualifying the opinion formed of his
writings, by a man of such strict rectitude as Mr. Adams.

He was fond of Watts's Psalms and Hymns, and repeated them often,
sometimes rising from his seat in the exaltation of his feelings. Among
favorite stanzas was this one:

    Sweet fields, beyond the swelling flood,
      Stand dressed in living green;
    So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
      While Jordan rolled between.

Until his private letters shall be published, no adequate conception can
be formed of the devotion he paid to his mother. This may give an
inkling of it. A young friend inquired of him, when he was once at
Hingham on their annual fishing party in his honor, in which of his
poems a certain line was to be found, viz.--

    "Hull--but that name's redeemed upon the wave,"

referring to the surrender of General Hull, so soon followed (only three
days after, August 16-19, 1812) by the capture of the Guerriere by
Captain Hull. "I do not," he replied, "but I have been often struck by
the coincidence. I think, however, the line occurs in a poem _addressed
to my mother_."

The best saying of Mr. Adams was in reply to the inquiry, What are the
recognized principles of politics?

MR. ADAMS. There are none. There are recognized precepts, but they are
bad, and so not PRINCIPLES.

But is not this a sound one, "The greatest good of the greatest number?"

MR. ADAMS. No, that is the worst of all, for it looks specious, while it
is ruinous; for what is to become of the minority? This is the only

It must be admitted that much tyranny lurks in this favorite democratic
tenet, not half as democratic, however, as Mr. Adams's amendment. Wrongs
and outrages the most unmerciful, have been committed by majorities. It
may even happen where the forms of law are maintained; but what shall be
said when the majority resolves itself into a mob? When rivers of
innocent blood may (as they have) run from city gates. The tyranny of
majorities is irresponsible, without redress, and without punishment,
except in the ultimate iron grasp of "the higher law."

Mr. Adams's view, so much larger than the common one, may, with a strong
probability, be traced to the mother. In her letters to him, she insists
again and again upon the duty of universal kindness and benevolence.
Patriot as she was, she pitied the Refugees. She said to him,

"Man is bound to the performance of certain duties, all which tend to
the happiness and welfare of society, and are comprised in one short
sentence expressive of universal benevolence: 'Thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself.'

    "Remember more, the Universal Cause
    Acts not by partial, but by general laws;
    And makes what happiness we justly call,
    Subsist, not in the good of one, but ALL.'"

In other letters she illustrated observations in the same spirit by
these quotations:

    "Shall I determine where his frowns shall fall,
    And fence my grotto from the lot of ALL?"

      "Prompt at every call,
    Can watch and weep and pray and feel for ALL."

One evening, at his house in F street in Washington, he spoke of Judge
Parsons, of his depth and subtlety, and the conciseness of his language.
"Soon after I entered his office he said to us students--'Lord Bacon
observes that "reading makes a full man, conversation a ready man,
writing a correct man." Young gentlemen, my advice to you is, that you
study to be full, ready and correct.' I thought," said Mr. Adams, "that
I never heard good advice so well conveyed."

He was asked by the writer whether he had ever received any
acknowledgment of his services, any mark of gratitude from the colored
people of the District? "None," said he--"except that I now and then
hear, _in a low tone_, a hearty GOD BLESS YOU! That is enough."

It was enough; enough for recompense and for justification, since we are
in the sad pass that justification is needed--since

    "Virtue itself of Vice must pardon beg,
    And pray for leave to do him good."

So then, in this Republic there are millions of human hearts, which are
not permitted to love a benefactor, and dare not utter for him an
invocation, kindred to their devotion to God, except "in a low tone!"

When in 1846 Mr. Adams was struck the first time with palsy, he was
visited by Charles Sumner, who sat much by his bedside. As he became
better, he said one day to his visitor: "You will enter public life; you
do not want it, but you will be drawn into the current, in spite of
yourself. Now I have a word of advice to give you. _Never accept a
present._ While I was in Russia, the Minister of the Interior, an old
man, whose conscience became more active as his bodily powers failed,
grew uneasy on account of the presents he had received. He calculated
the value of them, and paid it all over to the Imperial treasury. This
put me to thinking upon the subject, and I then made a resolution never
to accept a present while I remained in the public service; and I never
have, unless it was some trifling token, as a hat or cane."

A neighboring clergyman, to whom this conversation was related,
exclaimed--"A hat! That cannot be, for he never had any but an old one."
It was a tradition in Cambridge that Mr. Adams, while Professor in the
University, was noted for indifference to personal appearance, and his
well-worn hat was particularly remembered.

In the relation of husband Mr. Adams showed the same fidelity and
devotedness which characterized him in every other. He was united to a
woman whose virtues and accomplishments blessed and adorned his home. In
a letter written shortly after his noble vindication of the character of
woman, and the propriety and utility of their intervention in public
affairs, he said:

"Had I not, by the dispensation of Providence, been blessed beyond the
ordinary lot of humanity in all the domestic relations of life, as a
son, a brother, and a husband, I should still have thought myself bound
to vindicate the social rights and the personal honor of the
petitioners, who had confided to me the honorable trust of presenting
the expression of their wishes to the legislative councils of the
nation. But that this sense of imperious duty was quickened within my
bosom by the affectionate estimate of the female character impressed
upon my heart and mind by the virtues of the individual woman, with whom
it has been my lot to pass in these intimate relations my days upon
earth, I have no doubt."

In 1840 he had a severe fall, striking his head against the corner of an
iron rail, which inflicted a heavy contusion on his forehead, and
rendered him for some time insensible. His left shoulder was likewise
dislocated. This occurred at the House of Representatives after
adjournment. Fortunately several members were within call, and gave him
the most tender and assiduous assistance. He was carried to the lodgings
of one of them, and a physician called. With the united strength of four
men, it took more than an hour to reduce the dislocation. "Still," says
a witness of the scene, "Mr. Adams uttered not a murmur, though the
great drops of sweat which rolled down his furrowed cheeks, or stood
upon his brow, told but too well the agony he suffered." At his request
he was immediately conveyed to his house; and the next morning, to the
astonishment of every one, he was found in his seat as usual. He was
accustomed to be the first to enter the House and the last to leave it.
Mr. Everett tells us that he had his seat by the side of the veteran,
and that he should not have been more surprised to miss one of the
marble pillars from the hall than Mr. Adams.

That this painful accident did not impair the vigor of his mind is
evident from the fact that he subsequently argued the Amistad case, and
sustained the fierce contest of three days on the expulsion resolution
in the House. It was three years later also that he made the journey for
the benefit of his health, which turned out an improvised and continuous
ovation. He had designed merely to visit Lebanon Springs. He was so much
pleased with his journey thus far into the State of New-York, that he
concluded to prolong it to Quebec, Montreal, and Niagara Falls, and
return to Massachusetts through the length of the empire State. This
return was signalized by attentions and homage on the part of the people
so spontaneous and unanimous, that nothing which has occurred since the
progress of La Fayette, has equalled it. "Public greetings, processions,
celebrations, met and accompanied every step of his journey." Addresses
by eminent men, and acclamations of men, women, and children, who
thronged the way, bore witness of the deep hold which the man, without
accessories of office and pageantry of state, had of their hearts. Of
this excursion he said himself towards the close of it, "I have not come
alone, the whole people of the State of New-York have been my
companions." In the autumn of the same year he went to Cincinnati to
assist in laying the foundation of an observatory. This journey was
attended by similar demonstrations. At a cordial greeting given him at
Maysville, Kentucky, after an emphatic testimony to the integrity of Mr.
Clay, he made that renewed and solemn denial of the charges of "bargain
and corruption."

He suffered a stroke of paralysis in November, 1846, but recovered, and
took his seat at the ensuing session of Congress. He regarded this as
equivalent to a final summons, and made no subsequent entry in his
faithful diary except under the title of "posthumous." After this he
spoke little in the House.

In November, 1847, he left his home in Quincy for the last time. On the
twentieth of February he passed his last evening at his house in
Washington. He retired to his library at nine o'clock, where his wife
read to him a sermon by Bishop Wilberforce on Time. The next morning he
rose early and occupied himself with his pen as he was wont. With more
than usual spryness and alacrity he ascended the stairs of the Capitol.
In the House a resolution for awarding thanks and gold medals to several
officers concerned in the Mexican war was taken up. Mr. Adams uttered
his emphatic _No!_ on two or three preliminary questions. When the final
question was about to be put, and while he was in the act of rising, as
it was supposed, to address the House, he sunk down. He was borne to the
speaker's room. He revived so far as to inquire for his wife, who was
present. He seemed desirous of uttering thanks. The only distinct words
he articulated were, "This is the end of earth. I am content." He
lingered until the evening of the twenty-third, and then expired.

Thus he fell at his post in the eighty-first year of his age, the age of
Plato. With the exception of Phocion there is no active public life
continued on the great arena, with equal vigor and usefulness, to so
advanced an age. Lord Mansfield retired at eighty-three; but the quiet
routine of a judicial station is not as trying as the varied and
boisterous contentions of a political and legislative assembly. Ripe as
he was for heaven; he was still greatly needed upon earth. His services
would have been of inestimable importance in disposing of the perilous
questions, not yet definitively settled, which arose out of unhallowed
war and conquest.

There is not much satisfaction in dwelling upon the general effusions of
eloquence, or the pageantry which ensued. A single glance of guileless
love from the men, women and children, who came forth from their smiling
villages to greet the virtuous old statesman in his unpretending
journeys, was worth the whole of it. The hearty tribute of Mr. Benton,
so long a denouncer, has an exceptional value, the greater because he
had made honorable amends to the departed during his life. That he was
sincerely and deeply mourned by the nation, it would be a libel on the
nation to doubt. His remains rested appropriately in Independence and
Faneuil Halls on the way to their final resting place, the tomb he had
made for those of his venerated parents. There he was laid by his
neighbors and townsmen, sorrowing for the friend and the MAN. His
monument is to stand on the other side of the pulpit.

Happy place which hallows such memories, and holds up such EXAMPLES.


[17] It is supposed that the State derives its name from a hill in the
north part of the town, situated near the peninsula called Squantum,
likewise a part of the town. Squantum was a favorite residence of the
Indians; and the Sachem, who ruled over the district "extending round
the harbors of Boston and Charlestown, through Malden, Chelsea,
Nantasket, Hingham, Weymouth and Dorchester," had his seat on the
neighboring hill, which was shaped like an arrow-head. Arrow-head in the
Indian language was _mos_ or mous, and hill _wetuset_. Thus the great
Sachem's home was called _Moswetuset_ or Arrow-head Hill, his subjects
the Moswetusets, and lastly the Province Massachusetts, but frequently
in the primitive days "the Massachusetts."

[18] Died early in the city of New-York, soon after entering upon the
practice of law.


[Illustration: Jackson fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Hermitage, Residence of Jackson]


The events of Jackson's life, even in their chronological order, dispose
themselves into a number of combinations, which a skilful pen, guided by
the hand of a poet, might easily work up into a series of impressive and
contrasted pictures. We have not the ability, had we the space here, to
undertake this labor, but we see no reason why we should not present
some outlines of it, for the benefit of future more competent artists.

In such a series, we should first see the flaxen-haired, blue-eyed son
of Irish emigrants, driven from their home by a sense of British
oppression, opening his young eyes in South Carolina, amid the stormy
scenes of our Revolution. Around him, his friends and neighbors are
training for the battle, and preparing to defend their homes from an
invading foe; his eldest brother Hugh, is brought back dead from the
fatigues of active service; the old Waxhaw meeting-house, a temporary
hospital, through which he wanders, is crowded with the wounded and
dying, whose condition moves him to tears, and fills him with melancholy
impressions of the horrors of war, coupled with a deepening sense of
English cruelty and oppression, of which he had before heard in the
tales of his mother and her kindred about the old country from which
they had fled; while, finally, he himself, but little more than thirteen
years of age, in company with a brother Robert, takes up arms, is made a
prisoner, suffers severely from wounds and the smallpox of the jail,
loses first his brother by that disease, and then his mother by a fever
caught on board a prison-ship, whither she had gone to nurse some
captive friends, and is thus left alone in the world, the only one of
all his family spared by the enemy.

We should next see the friendless, portionless orphan wending his
solitary way through the immense forests of the Far West, (now the State
of Tennessee), where the settlements were hundreds of miles from each
other, while every tree and rock sheltered an enemy in the shape of some
grisly animal, or the person of a more savage Indian. But he succeeds in
crossing the mountains, he reaches the infant villages on the Cumberland
River, he studies and practises the rude law of those distant regions,
takes part in all the wild vicissitudes of frontier life, repels the red
man, fights duels with the white, encounters in deadly feuds the
turbulent spirits of a half-barbarous society, administers justice in
almost extemporized courts, helps to frame a regular State constitution,
marries a wife as chivalric, noble, and fearless as himself, and at
last, when society is reduced to some order, is chosen a representative
of the backwoods in the Congress at Washington.

Arrived at the seat of government, a tall, thin, uncouth figure, with no
words to express himself in, and apparently without ambition,--he yet
shows himself, with all his wild western coarseness, a man of insight
and decision. He made no speeches, he drew up no reports, he created no
sensation in the committee-room, or the lobbies,--he was not at all
known, as a leader or a prominent individual, but he was one of the
twelve democrats of the House, who dared to oppose returning an answer
to Washington's last address, when the fame and the personal influence
of that exalted man were almost omnipotent. He doubtless estimated the
services and the character of Washington as highly as any member, but
the measures of the administration his judgment did not approve, and he
voted as he thought--a silent uncultivated representative,--odd in his
dress and look, but with grit in him, not appalled even by the
stupendous greatness of Washington! On the other hand, he saw in
Jefferson a man for the times; became his friend, voted for him, and
helped his State to vote for him as the second President.

In the next phases of his life we discover Jackson, as the dignified and
impartial judge, asserting the law in the face of a powerful combination
of interested opponents; as the retired and prosperous planter,
gathering together a large estate, which he surrounds with the comforts
and luxuries of a refined existence, but sells at once when a friend's
misfortunes involves him in debt, and retires to a primitive log cabin
to commence his fortunes once more; as an Indian fighter achieving amid
hardships of all kinds--the want of funds, the inclemency of the season,
the ravages of disease, the unskilfulness of superiors, the
insubordination of troops--a series of brilliant victories that made his
name a terror to the Creeks and all their confederates. His campaign in
the Floridas broke the power of the Indians, secretly in league with the
British, forced them into a treaty, and wrested Pensacola from the
possession of the Spanish governor, who had basely violated his
neutrality, and who, when he wished to negotiate, was answered by
Jackson, "My diplomacy is in the mouths of my cannon."

But a different foe and a wider theatre awaited the display of his
military genius at New Orleans. Worn down with sickness and exhaustion,
with raw and undisciplined troops--many of them the mere rabble of the
wharves, and some of them buccaneers from neighboring islands--scantily
supplied with arms and ammunition, in the midst of a mixed population of
different tongues, where attachment to his cause was doubtful,
continually agitated by gloomy forebodings of the result, though
outwardly serene, he was surrounded by the flower of the British army,
led by its most brave and accomplished generals. The attack commenced:
from his breastwork of cotton bales his unerring rifles poured a
continuous flame of fire. The enemy quailed: its leaders were killed or
wounded; and the greatest victory of the war crowned the exertions of
Jackson as the greatest military genius of his time. A universal glow of
joy and gratitude spread from the liberated city over the whole land;
_Te deums_ were sung in the churches; children robed in white strewed
his way with flowers; the nation jubilantly uttered its admiration and
gratitude. It was thus the desolated orphan of the Carolinas avenged the
wrongs of his family, and asserted the rights of his country, to the
lasting dishonor of Great Britain.

Years pass on, and we see the successful General the President of the
People, engaged once more in a fearful struggle; this time not against a
foreign foe, but with an internal enemy of vast power and tremendous
means of mischief. He is fighting the monster bank--another St. George
gallantly charging another dragon--and, as usual, comes out of the
contest victorious. The innumerable army of money-changers, wielding a
power as formidable, though unseen, as that of an absolute monarch, is
routed amid a horrible clangor of metal and rancorous hisses. The great
true man, sustained by an honest people, was greater than the power of
money. He wrought the salvation of his country from a hideous
corruption--from bankruptcy, disgrace, and long years of political
subjection. His near posterity has recognized the service, and placed
him among the most illustrious of statesmen.

Finally, we see the patriot soldier and civilian, a bowed and
white-haired old man, in his secluded Hermitage, which is situated near
the scenes of his earliest labors and triumphs. The companion of his
love, who had shared in his struggles, but was not permitted to share in
his latest glory, is with him no more; children they had none; and he
moves tranquilly towards his grave alone. No! not alone: for travellers
from all lands visit his retreat, to gaze upon his venerable form; his
countrymen throng his doors, to gather wisdom from his sayings,--his
friends and neighbors almost worship him, and an adopted family bask in
the benignant goodness of his noble heart--his great mind, too, "beaming
in mildest mellow splendor, beaming if also trembling, like a great sun
on the verge of the horizon, near now to its long farewell." Thus, the
orphan, the emigrant, the Indian fighter, the conquering General, the
popular President, the venerated Patriarch, goes to the repose of the
humble Christian.

What were the sources of Jackson's pre-eminent greatness, of his
invariable success, of his resistless personal influence, of his deep
hold upon the minds of his fellows? He was no orator, he was no writer,
he had in fact no faculty of expression, he was unsustained by wealth,
he never courted the multitude, he relied upon no external assistances.
What he did, he achieved for himself, without aid, directly, and by the
mere force of his own nature. Neither education, nor family, nor the
accidents of fortune, nor the friendship of the powerful, helped to
raise him aloft, and push him forward in his career. The secret of his
elevation, then, was this,--that he saw the Right and loved it, and was
never afraid to pursue it, against all the allurements of personal
ambition, and all the hostility of the banded sons of error. There have
been many men of a larger reach and compass of mind, and some of a
keener insight and sagacity, but none, of a more stern, inflexible,
self-sacrificing devotion to what they esteemed to be true. He carried
his life in his hand, ready to be thrown away at the call of honor or
patriotism, and it was this unswerving integrity, which commended him so
strongly to the affections of the masses. Whatever men may be in
themselves, their hearts are always prone to do homage to honesty. They
love those whom they can trust, or only hate them, because their justice
and truth stands in the way of some cherished, selfish object.

Jackson's will was imperious; the report does not follow the flash more
rapidly than his execution of a deed followed the conception of it; or
rather his thought and his act were an instinctive, instantaneous,
inseparable unity. Like a good marksman, as soon as he saw his object he
fired, and generally with effect. This impulsive decision gave rise to
some over-hasty and precipitate movements, but, in the main, was
correct. What politicians, therefore, could only accomplish if at all by
a slow and cunning process of intrigue, what diplomatists reached by
long-winded negotiations, he marched to, without indirection, with his
eye always on the point, and his whole body following the lead of the
eye. We do not mean that he was utterly without subtlety,--for some
subtlety is necessary to the most ordinary prudence, and is particularly
necessary to the forecast of generalship,--but simply that he never
dissimulated, never assumed disguise, never carried water on both
shoulders, as the homely phrase has it, and never went around an
obstacle, when he could level it, or push it out of the way. The foxy or
feline element was small in a nature, into which so much magnanimity,
supposed to be lionlike, entered.

The popular opinion of Jackson was, that he was an exceedingly irascible
person, his mislikers even painting him as liable to fits of roaring and
raving anger, when he flung about him like a maniac; but his intimate
friends, who occupied the same house with him for years, inform us that
they never experienced any of these strong gusts; that, though sensitive
to opposition, impatient of restraint, quick to resent injuries, and
impetuous in his advance towards his ends, he was yet gentle, kindly,
placable, faithful to friends and forgiving to foes, a lover of children
and women, only unrelenting when his quarry happened to be meanness,
fraud or tyranny. His affections were particularly tender and strong; he
could scarcely be made to believe any thing to the disadvantage of those
he had once liked, while his reconciliations with those he had disliked,
once effected, were frank, cordial and sincere. Colonel Benton, who was
once an enemy, but afterwards a friend of many years, gives us this
sketch of some of his leading characteristics:

"He was a careful farmer, overlooking every thing himself, seeing that
the fields and fences were in good order, the stock well attended, and
the slaves comfortably provided for. His house was the seat of
hospitality, the resort of friends and acquaintances, and of all
strangers visiting the State--and the more agreeable to all from the
perfect conformity of Mrs. Jackson's disposition to his own. But he
needed some excitement beyond that which a farming life could afford,
and found it for some years in the animating sports of the turf. He
loved fine horses--racers of speed and bottom--owned several--and
contested the four mile heats with the best that could be bred, or
bought, or brought to the State, and for large sums. That is the nearest
to gaming that I ever knew him to come. Cards and the cock-pit have been
imputed to him, but most erroneously. I never saw him engaged in either.
Duels were usual in that time, and he had his share of them, with their
unpleasant concomitants; but they passed away with all their
animosities, and he has often been seen zealously pressing the
advancement of those, against whom he had but lately been arrayed in
deadly hostility. His temper was placable, as well as irascible, and his
reconciliations were cordial and sincere. Of that, my own case was a
signal instance. There was a deep-seated vein of piety in him,
unaffectedly showing itself in his reverence for divine worship, respect
for the ministers of the Gospel, their hospitable reception in his
house, and constant encouragement of all the pious tendencies of Mrs.
Jackson. And when they both afterwards became members of a church, it was
the natural and regular result of their early and cherished feelings. He
was gentle in his house, and alive to the tenderest emotions; and of
this I can give an instance, greatly in contrast with his supposed
character, and worth more than a long discourse in showing what that
character really was. I arrived at his house one wet, chilly evening in
February, and came upon him in the twilight, sitting alone before the
fire, a lamb and a child between his knees. He started a little, called
a servant to remove the two innocents to another room, and explained to
me how it was. The child had cried because the lamb was out in the cold,
and begged him to bring it in--which he had done to please the child,
his adopted son, then not two years old. The ferocious man does not do
that! and though Jackson had his passions and his violences, they were
for men and enemies--those who stood up against him--and not for women
and children, or the weak and helpless, for all of whom his feelings
were those of protection and support. His hospitality was active as well
as cordial, embracing the worthy in every walk of life, and seeking out
deserving objects to receive it, no matter how obscure. Of this I
learned a characteristic instance, in relation to the son of the famous
Daniel Boone. The young man had come to Nashville on his father's
business, to be detained some weeks, and had his lodgings at a small
tavern, towards the lower part of the town. General Jackson heard of
it--sought him out--found him, took him home to remain as long as his
business detained him in the country, saying, 'Your father's dog should
not stay in a tavern while I have a house.' This was heart! and I had it
from the young man himself, long after, when he was a State Senator of
the General Assembly of Missouri, and as such nominated me for the
United States Senate at my first election in 1820--his name was Benton
Boone, and so named after my father. Abhorrence of debt, public and
private, dislike of banks and love of hard money--love of justice, and
love of country, were ruling passions with Jackson; and of these he gave
constant evidences in all the situations of his life."

The same distinguished authority has drawn a picture of Jackson's
retirement from the Presidency, with which we close our remarks:

"The second and last term of General Jackson's presidency expired on the
3d of March, 1837. The next day at twelve he appeared with his
successor, Mr. Van Buren, on the elevated and spacious eastern portico
of the capitol, as one of the citizens who came to witness the
inauguration of the new President, and no way distinguished from them,
except by his place on the left hand of the President-elect. The day was
beautiful: clear sky, balmy vernal sun, tranquil atmosphere; and the
assemblage immense. On foot, in the large area in front of the steps,
orderly without troops, and closely wedged together, their faces turned
to the portico--presenting to the beholders from all the eastern windows
the appearance of a field paved with human faces--this vast crowd
remained riveted to their places, and profoundly silent, until the
ceremony of inauguration was over. It was the stillness and silence of
reverence and affection, and there was no room for mistake as to whom
this mute and impressive homage was rendered. For once the rising was
eclipsed by the setting sun. Though disrobed of power, and retiring to
the shades of private life, it was evident that the great ex-President
was the absorbing object of this intense regard. At the moment that he
began to descend the broad steps of the portico to take his seat in the
open carriage that was to bear him away, the deep, repressed feeling of
the dense mass broke forth, acclamations and cheers bursting from the
heart and filling the air, such as power never commanded, nor man in
power ever received. It was the affection, gratitude, and admiration of
the living age, saluting for the last time a great man. It was the
acclaim of posterity breaking from the bosoms of contemporaries. It was
the anticipation of futurity--unpurchasable homage to the hero-patriot
who, all his life, and in all the circumstances of his life--in peace
and in war, and glorious in each--had been the friend of his country,
devoted to her, regardless of self. Uncovered and bowing, with a look of
unaffected humility and thankfulness, he acknowledged in mute signs his
deep sensibility to this affecting overflow of popular feeling. I was
looking down from a side window, and felt an emotion which had never
passed through me before. I had seen the inauguration of many
presidents, and their going away, and their days of state, vested with
power, and surrounded by the splendors of the first magistracy of a
great republic; but they all appeared to me as pageants, brief to the
view, unreal to the touch, and soon to vanish. But here there seemed to
be a reality--a real scene--a man and the people: he, laying down power
and withdrawing through the portals of everlasting fame; they, sounding
in his ears the everlasting plaudits of unborn generations. Two days
after I saw the patriot ex-President in the car which bore him off to
his desired seclusion: I saw him depart with that look of quiet
enjoyment which bespoke the inward satisfaction of the soul at
exchanging the cares of office for the repose of home.


[Illustration: King fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Rufus King's House, Near Jamaica, L.I.]


When in the year 1803, after having served his native country with
distinguished ability for more than seven years as Minister
Plenipotentiary of the United States at the Court of St. James, Rufus
King returned to New-York, the city of his adoption, he found his
political friends in a hopeless minority, and the rule of party
absolute, exclusive, and even vindictive. Mr. King had trained himself
from early life to the duties of a Statesman, and to that end neglected
no study, and above all, no self-discipline that might qualify him for
the career he desired to pursue. After serving several years as a
Delegate from Massachusetts in the Continental Congress (from 1785 to
1789), and having, as a member of the Convention called for the purpose,
been actively instrumental in forming the Constitution of the United
States, Mr. King became in 1788 a resident of the city of New-York,
where he had married two years before, MARY, the only child of JOHN
ALSOP, a retired merchant of that city. Mr. King was much known in
New-York, for the Continental Congress during his term of service held
its sessions there; and the character he had established for himself on
the score of talent and capacity, may be estimated by the fact, that he,
with General Schuyler for a colleague, was selected as one of the first
Senators of the United States from the State of New-York, under the new

His services proved so acceptable, that on the expiration of his first
term, in 1795, he was re-elected, and it was in the second year of his
second term--in 1796, that he was appointed by Washington Minister to

In that post Mr. King continued throughout the residue of General
Washington's administration, through the whole of that of John Adams,
and, at the request of President Jefferson, through two years of his
administration, when, having accomplished the negotiations he had in
hand, Mr. King asked to be, and was, recalled.

During this long residence abroad, remote from the scene of the angry
partisan politics which disturbed the close of Washington's term, and
the whole of that of Mr. Adams, and which resulted, in 1800, in the
entire overthrow of the old Federal party, and the success of Mr.
Jefferson and the Republican party--Mr. King had devoted his labors, his
time and his talents, to the service of his whole country, and was
little prepared, therefore, either by taste or temper, for participation
in the angry broils which, on his return home, he found prevailing
throughout the Union. Adhering, as he did to the end, to the political
principles of his early life, he never doubted, nor saw occasion to
change the faith which had made him a Federalist, when the name included
the Telfairs and Habershams of Georgia, the Pinkneys and Rutledges of
South Carolina, the Davieses and the Sitgreaves of North Carolina, the
Washingtons and the Marshalls of Virginia, the Carrolls and the Hindmans
of Maryland, the Bayards and the Kearnys of Delaware, the Tilghmans and
the Binghams of Pennsylvania, the Patersons and the Stocktons of New
Jersey, the Jays and Hamiltons of New-York, the Woolcots and the
Johnsons of Connecticut, the Ellerys and Howells of Rhode Island, the
Adamses and Otises of Massachusetts, the Smiths and Gilmans of New
Hampshire, the Tichenors and Chittendens of Vermont. But that faith was
now in "dim eclipse." The popular air was in another direction, and Mr.
King was of too lofty a character to trim his bark to the veering
breeze. Having acquired, or rather confirmed by his residence in England
(where country life is better understood and more thoroughly enjoyed,
probably, than any where else) a decided taste for the country Mr. King
soon determined to abandon the city, where--having no professional
pursuits nor stated occupation--he found few attractions, and make his
permanent abode in the country. After looking at many points on the
Hudson River and on the Sound, he finally established himself at the
village of Jamaica, in Queens county, Long Island, distant about twelve
miles from the city of New-York. In comparison with some of the places
which he had examined on the waters of the Sound and the North River,
Jamaica offered few inducements of scenery or landscape. But it did
offer what to him, and especially to his wife, were all-important
considerations--proverbial healthiness, and ready access to church,
schools and physicians. Mrs. King's health was already drooping, and
from the quiet, regular life of the country, its pure air, and the
outdoor exercise to which it leads, and of which she was so fond, the
hope was indulged that she might be completely restored. The property
purchased by Mr. King, consisting of a well-built, comfortable and roomy
house, with about ninety acres of land, is situated a little to the west
of the village, on the great high road of the Island from west to east.
It is a dead level, of a warm and quick soil, readily fertilized, the
ridge or back-bone of Long Island bounding it on the north. He removed
his family thither in the spring of 1806, and at once commenced those
alterations and improvements which have made it what it now is--a very
pretty and attractive residence for any one who finds delight in fine
trees, varied shrubbery, a well cultivated soil, and the comforts of a
large house, every part of which is meant for use, and none of it for

When Mr. King took possession of his purchase, the house, grounds and
fences were after the uniform pattern, then almost universal in the
region. He soon changed and greatly improved all. The house, fronting
south, was in a bare field, about one hundred yards back from the road,
and separated from it by a white picket fence. A narrow gravel path led
in a straight line from a little gate, down to the door of the house,
while further to the east was the gate, through which, on another
straight line, running down by the side of the house, was the entrance
for carriages and horses. Two horse-chestnut trees, one east and the
other west of the house, and about thirty feet from it, were, with the
exception of some old apple trees, the only trees on the place; and the
blazing sun of summer, and the abundant dust of the high road at all
seasons, had unobstructed sweep over the house and lawn, or what was to
become a lawn. Not a shrub or bush was interposed between the house and
the fence, to secure any thing like privacy to the abode. On the
contrary, it seemed to be the taste of the day to leave every thing open
to the gaze of the wayfarers, and in turn to expose those wayfarers,
their equipages, and their doings, to the inspection of the inmates of
all roadside houses. Mr. King, who had cultivated the study of Botany,
and was a genuine admirer of trees, soon went to work in embellishing
the place which was to be his future home, and in this he was warmly
seconded by the taste of Mrs. King. The first step was, to change the
approach to the house, from a straight to a circular walk, broad and
well rolled; then to plant out the high road. Accordingly, a belt of
from twenty to thirty feet in width along the whole front of the ground,
was prepared by proper digging and manuring, for the reception of shrubs
and trees; and time and money were liberally applied, but with wise
discrimination as to the adaptedness to the soil and climate, of the
plants to be introduced. From the State of New Hampshire, through the
careful agency of his friend, Mr. Sheaffe of Portsmouth, who was
vigilant to have them properly procured, packed, and expedited to
Jamaica, Mr. King received the pines and firs which, now very large
trees, adorn the grounds. They were, it is believed, among the first, if
not the first trees of this kind introduced into this part of Long
Island, and none of the sort were then to be found in the nurseries at
Flushing. Some acorns planted near the house in 1810, are now large
trees. Mr. King indeed planted, as the Romans builded--"for posterity
and the immortal gods," for to his eldest son, now occupying the
residence of his father, he said, in putting into the ground an acorn of
the red oak--"If you live to be as old as I am, you will see here a
large tree;" and, in fact, a noble, lofty, well-proportioned red oak now
flourishes there, to delight with its wide-branching beauty, its
grateful shade, and more grateful associations, not the children only,
but the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of him who planted the
acorn. Mr. King possessed, in a remarkable degree, all the tastes that
fit one for the enjoyment of country life. He had a large and well
selected library, particularly rich in its books relating to the
Americas, and this library remains unbroken. With these true, tried,
unwavering and unwearying friends--and such good books are--Mr. King
spent much time; varying, however, his studious labors with outdoor
exercise on horseback, to which he was much addicted; and in judgment of
the qualities, as well as in the graceful management of a horse, he was
rarely excelled. He loved, too, his gun and dog; was rather a keen
sportsman, and good shot; though often, when the pointer was hot upon
the game, his master's attention would be diverted by some rare or
beautiful shrub or flower upon which his eye happened to light, and of
which--if not the proper season for transplanting it into his border--he
would carefully mark the place and make a memorandum thereof, so as to
be enabled to return at the fitting time, and secure his prize. In this
way he had collected in his shrubberies all the pretty flowering shrubs
and plants indigenous to the neighborhood, adding thereto such strangers
as he could naturalize; so that during a visit made to him many years
after he began his plantation, by the _Abbé Corréa_, then Minister from
Portugal to this Government, but even more distinguished as a man of
letters, and particularly as a botanist--the learned Abbé said he could
almost study the _Flowers_ and the _Trees_ of the central and eastern
portion of the United States in these grounds. Mr. King loved, too, the
song of birds--and his taste was rewarded by the number of them which
took shelter in this secure and shady plantation, where no guns were
ever allowed to be fired, nor trap nor snare to be set. The garden and
the farm also came in for their share of interest and attention; and
nowhere did care judiciously bestowed, and expenditure wisely ordered,
produce more sure or gratifying results.

About the year 1817 Mr. King turned his attention to the importation of
some cattle of the North Devon breed. In the preceding year he received
as a token of a friendship contracted during his residence in England,
from Mr. Coke of Holkham (the great English Commoner, and warm friend of
America in the revolutionary contest, and always interested in whatever
might promote the welfare of the people in whose early struggle for
their rights he had sympathized), two beautiful cows of the North Devon
breed, as being particularly adapted, as Mr. Coke supposed, to the
light, level soil of the southern slope of Long Island,--similar in
these qualities to that of his own magnificent domain at Holkham, in
Norfolk. Mr. King was so much pleased with these animals, so beautiful
in themselves, of a uniform mahogany color, with no white marks, finely
limbed almost as deer, with regularly curved and tapering horns, of
extreme docility, and easily kept, that in 1817 he imported several
more, and was thus enabled to preserve the race in purity, and
measurably to supply the demand for the pure stock, which is now widely
scattered throughout the country.

While thus enjoying with the real zest of a cultivated mind, and of a
disposition keenly alive to the aspect, the voices and the beauties of
nature, the pleasures of a country life; Mr. King was not unmindful of,
nor indifferent to the great and interesting contemporaneous drama of
politics, which, although mainly played out in Europe, swept our
republic too at last into its vortex. His early training, early
instruction, and early and eminent successes in public life, made it
alike unsuitable and impossible for him to withdraw himself wholly from
the scene. And accordingly, although never in the whole course of his
life seeking office, or putting himself forward, Mr. King was frequently
appealed to, in his retirement, by political friends, sometimes
consulted by political opponents,--while he was in the habit of
receiving with elegant and cordial hospitality at Jamaica, distinguished
visitors, both of his own country, and from abroad. Among such visitors
was the Abbé Corréa, as already stated, about the period when, as
Secretary of State to President Monroe, John Quincy Adams was asserting
in his correspondence with the English Minister the right of the United
States to the free navigation of the St. Lawrence. After discussing with
Mr King in the library, the points of international law brought up by
this claim,--in the course of which, somewhat to the surprise of the
Abbé, Mr. King evinced entire familiarity with the analogous points
brought up and settled, as regards European rivers, in the then recently
held Congress of Vienna; and maintained the position, that what was law
between states in Europe conterminous to great navigable streams, must
be law here; and that what Great Britain had assented to, and had joined
in requiring others to assent to, in respect to the Rhine, she must
assent to in respect to the St. Lawrence,--the Abbé proposed a walk in
the grounds, and once there, laying aside politics, diplomacy, and
international law, the two statesmen were soon very deep in botany and
the system of Linnæus, and agriculture, and in all the cognate questions
of climate, soils, manures, &c., and seemed quite as eager in these
pursuits, as in those grave and more solemn questions of state policy,
which occupy, but do not, in the same degree, innocently and surely
reward the attention and interest of public men. It was on occasion of
this visit, that the Abbé Corréa expressed his gratification at finding
in the plantation of Mr. King so large a collection of the plants and
shrubs indigenous to that part of our country,--a gratification
enhanced, as he added, by the previous discussions in the library, in
the course of which he had such demonstration of Mr. King's varied and
comprehensive, yet minute knowledge of the great public questions which
had agitated Europe, and of the more recent, as well as more ancient
expositions of international law applicable thereto.

Previously to this period, however, Mr. King had been recalled to public
life. At the commencement of the war of 1812 with Great Britain, Mr.
King, though disapproving both of the time of declaring, and of the
inefficiency in conducting, the war, and reposing little confidence
either in the motives or the abilities of the administration, did
nevertheless feel it his duty, the sword being drawn, to sustain, as
best he might, the cause of his country. Among the first, and for a time
most discouraging results of the war, was the stoppage of specie
payments by all the banks south of New England. The panic in New-York
unavoidably was very great; and very much depended upon the course to be
taken by its banks and its citizens, as to the effect to be produced
upon the national cause and the national arm, by the suspension of
payments. In this emergency, appealed to by his former fellow-citizens,
Mr. King went to the city, and at the Tontine Coffee House, at a general
meeting called to deliberate on the course to be taken by the community
in regard to the banks, and in general in regard to the rights and
duties alike, of creditors and debtors under the circumstances, he made
a speech to the assembled multitude, in which, after deploring the
circumstances which had forced upon the banks the necessity of
suspension, he went on to show that it was a common cause, in which all
had a part, and where all had duties. That the extreme right of the
bill-holder, if enforced to the uttermost against the banks, would
aggravate the evil to the public, although possibly it might benefit a
few individuals; while, on the other hand, good to all, and strength and
confidence to the general cause, would result from a generous
forbearance, and mutual understanding that, if the banks on their part
would restrict themselves within the limits as to issues and credits
recognized as safe previous to the suspension, the community at large on
their part, might, and possibly would continue to receive and pass the
bills of the banks as before, and as though redeemable in coin. He urged
with great power and earnestness the duty of fellow-citizens to stand
shoulder to shoulder in such an emergency,--when a foreign enemy was
pressing upon them, and when, without entering into the motives or
causes which led to the war, about which men differ,--all Americans
should feel it as their first and foremost obligation to stand by their
country. The particular province of those he addressed was not so much
to enlist in the armed service of the country, as to uphold its credit,
and thus cherish the resources which would raise and reward armies; and
if New-York should on this occasion be true to her duty--which also he
plainly showed to be her highest interest--the clouds of the present
would pass away, and her honor and her prosperity, with those of the
nation of which she formed part and parcel, would be maintained and
advanced. The effect of this address was decisive, and to an extent
quite unprecedented in any commercial community under such
circumstances; confidence was restored, and the course of business went
on almost unruffled and undisturbed.

In 1813, Mr. King, after a lapse of seventeen years from his former
service as a Senator of the United States, was again chosen by the
Legislature of the State of New-York, as one of its Senators in
Congress; and from the moment he resumed his seat in the Senate, he took
leave, for the remainder of his life, of the undisturbed enjoyments of
his rural abode; for a large portion of his time was necessarily spent
at Washington, it being part of his notion of duty, never to be remiss
in attendance upon, or in the discharge of, any trust committed to him.
Still, his heart was among his plantations and his gardens, and even
when absent, he kept up a constant correspondence with his son and his
gardener, and always returned with fond zest to this quiet home.

In 1819, Mrs. King, whose health had been long declining, died, and was
buried with all simplicity in the yard of the village church; where
together they long had worshipped, and which stood on ground originally
forming part of Mr. King's property. At the time of her death, all the
children had left the paternal roof, and settled in life with their own
families around them; and solitude, therefore, embittered the loss to
Mr. King of such a companion. And she was eminently fitted by similarity
of tastes and acquirements, to share with her husband the cares and the
pleasures of life, as well as its weightier duties. She was in an
especial manner a lover of the country, and had cultivated the knowledge
which lends additional charms to the beauties and the wonders of the
vegetable creation. Over all these beauties, her death cast a pall; and
although he repined not, it was easy to see how deep a sorrow
overshadowed his remaining years. Yet he nerved himself to the discharge
of his public duties with unabated zeal and fidelity; and when
re-elected in 1820 to the Senate, was punctual as always at his post,
and earnest as ever in fulfilling all its requirements. His own health,
however, before so unshaken, began to fail; and at the closing session
of 1825, Mr. King, in taking leave of the Senate, announced his purpose
of retiring from public life; having then reached the age of seventy
years, of which more than one half had been spent in the service of his
country, from the period when he entered the Continental Congress in
1784, to that in which he left the Senate of the United States in 1825.
But John Q. Adams, who had become President, pressed upon Mr. King the
embassy to England. His enfeebled health and advanced age induced him at
once to decline, but Mr. Adams urged him to refrain from any immediate
decision, and to take the subject into consideration after he should
return home, and then determine. Recalling with lively and pleasant
recollection the years of his former embassy to England, and hoping
assuredly to be able--if finding there the same fair and friendly
reception before extended to him--to benefit his country by the
adjustment of some outstanding and long-standing points of controversy
between the two nations; influenced too, in a great degree, by the
opinion, of eminent physicians, that for maladies partaking of weakness,
such as he was laboring under, a sea-voyage could hardly fail to be
beneficial, Mr. King, rather in opposition to the wishes of his family,
determined to accept the mission,--first stipulating, however, that his
eldest son, John A. King, should accompany him as Secretary of Legation.
It is proof of the strong desire of the then administration to avail of
Mr. King's talents and character, and of the hope of good from his
employment in this mission, that an immediate compliance with this
request was made; and the gentleman who had been previously nominated
to, and confirmed by, the Senate, as Secretary of Legation, having been
commissioned elsewhere, Mr. John A. King was appointed Secretary of
Legation to his father.

The voyage, unhappily, aggravated rather than relieved the malady of Mr.
King; his health, after he reached England, continued to decline, and he
therefore, after a few months' residence in London, asked leave to
resign his post and come home. He returned accordingly, but only to die.
He languished for some weeks, and finally, having been removed from
Jamaica to the city for greater convenience of attendance and care, he
died in New-York, on the 29th of April, 1827.

As with Mrs. King, so with him--in conformity with the unaffected
simplicity of their whole lives--were the funeral rites at his death.
Borne to Jamaica, which for more than twenty years had been his home,
the body was carried to the grave by the neighbors among whom he had so
long lived,--laid in the earth by the side of her who had gone before
him, to be no more separated for ever; and a simple stone at the head of
his grave, records--and the loftiest monument of art could do no
more--that a great and a good man, having finished his course in faith,
there awaits the great Judgment. Children, and grandchildren, have since
been gathered in death around these graves, which lie almost beneath the
shadow of trees planted by Mr. King, and within sight of the house in
which he lived.

It was desired, if possible, to introduce a glimpse of the pretty
village church into the engraving, but the space was wanting.

Mr. John A. King, the eldest son of Rufus King, now occupies the
residence of his father, and keeps up, with filial reverence and
inherited taste, its fine library, and its fine plantations. The
engraving presents very accurately the appearance of the house; the
closely shaven lawn in its front, and the noble trees which surround it,
could find no adequate representation in any picture.


[Illustration: Clay fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Ashland, Residence of Henry Clay]


The Dryads are plainly no American divinities. A reverence for trees and
groves, for woods and forests, is not an American passion. As our
fathers and many of ourselves have spent the best of our strength in
wrestling with, prostrating, using up the leaf-crowned monarchs, gray
with the moss of age ere Columbus set foot on Cat Island, to expect us
to love and honor their quiet majesty, their stately grace, were like
asking Natty Bumpo or Leather-stocking to bow down to and worship
Pontiac or Brandt, as the highest ideal of Manhood. An uncouth
backwoodsman lately stated our difficulty with immediate reference to
another case, but the principle is identical: "When I was a boy," said
he, plaintively, "it was the rule to love rum, and hate niggers; now
they want us to hate rum, and love niggers: For my part, I stick to the
old discipline." And so it were unreasonable to expect the mass of
Americans now living, to go into heroics over the prospect of a comely
and comfortable mansion, surrounded by a spacious lawn or "opening" of
luxuriant grass, embracing the roots and lightly shaded by the foliage
of thrifty and shapely trees.

Why is it, then, that the American's pulse beats quicker, and his heart
throbs more proudly as, walking slowly and thoughtfully up a noble
avenue that leads easterly from Lexington,--once the capital and still
the most important inland town in Kentucky,--he finds the road
terminating abruptly in front of a modest, spacious, agreeable mansion,
only two stories in height, and of no great architectural pretensions,
and remembers who caused its erection, and was for many years its owner
and master?

That house, that lawn, with the ample and fertile farm stretching a mile
or more in the distance behind them, are hallowed to the hearts of his
countrymen by the fact, that here lived and loved, enjoyed and suffered,
aspired and endured, the Orator, the Patriot, the Statesman, the
illustrious, the gifted, the fiercely slandered, the fondly idolized
Henry Clay.

A friend who visited Ashland as a stranger in May, 1845, thus writes of
the place and its master:

"I have at last realized one of my dearest wishes, that of seeing Mr.
Clay at Ashland. I called on him with a friend this morning, but he was
absent on his farm, and Charles, his freed slave, told us he would not
be at home till afternoon; so we returned to Lexington, and, at five
P.M., we retraced our steps to Ashland. Mr. Clay had returned; and
meeting us at the door, took hold of our hands before I could even
present a letter of introduction, and made us welcome to his home. His
manners completely overcame all the ceremonies of speech I had prepared.
We were soon perfectly at home, as every one must be with Henry Clay, and
in half an hour's time we had talked about the various sections of the
country I had visited the past year, Mr. Clay occasionally giving us
incidents and recollections of his own life; and I felt as though I had
known him personally for years.

"Mr. Clay has lived at Ashland forty years. The place bore the name when
he came to it, as he says, probably on account of the ash timber, with
which it abounds; and he has made it the most delightful retreat in all
the West. The estate is about six hundred acres large, all under the
highest cultivation, except some two hundred acres of park, which is
entirely cleared of underbrush and small trees, and is, to use the words
of Lord Morpeth, who staid at Ashland nearly a week, the nearest
approach to an English park of any in this country. It serves for a
noble pasture, and here I saw some of Mr. Clay's fine horses and Durham
cattle. He is said to have some of the finest in America; and if I am
able to judge I confirm that report. The larger part of his farm is
devoted to wheat, rye, hemp, &c., and his crops look most splendidly. He
has also paid great attention to ornamenting his land with beautiful
shade trees, shrubs, flowers, and fruit orchards. From the road which
passes his place on the northwest side, a carriage-road leads up to the
house, lined with locust, cypress, cedar, and other rare trees, and the
rose, jasmine, and ivy, were clambering about them, and peeping through
the grass and the boughs, like so many twinkling fairies, as we drove
up. Mr Clay's mansion is nearly hidden from the road by the trees
surrounding it, and is as quiet and secluded, save to the throng of
pilgrims continually pouring up there to greet its more than royal
possessor, as though it were in the wilderness."

Here let the house, the lawn, the wood, the farm, pass, if they will,
from the mind. They are all well in their way, and were doubtless well
adapted in his time to smooth the care-worn brow, and soothe the
care-fraught breast of the lofty, gallant, frank, winning statesman, who
gave and still gives them all their interest. Be our thoughts
concentrated on him who still lives, and speaks, and sways, though the
clay which enrobed him has been hid from our sight for ever, rather than
on the physical accessories which, but for him, though living to the
corporal sense, are dead to the informing soul.

For it was not here, in this comfortable mansion, beneath those
graceful, hospitable, swaying trees, that THE GREAT COMMONER was born
and reared; but in a rude, homely farm-house,[19] which had any man
given five hundred dollars for, he would have been enormously swindled,
unless he paid in Continental money,--in a primitive, rural, thinly
peopled section of Hanover County (near Richmond), Virginia; where his
father, Rev. John Clay, a poor Baptist preacher, lived, and struggled,
and finally died, leaving a widow and seven young children, with no
reliance but the mother's energies and the benignant care of the widow's
and orphan's God. This was in 1782, near the close of the Revolutionary
War, when so much of the country as had not been ravaged by the enemy's
forces, had been nearly exhausted by our own, and by the incessant
exactions of a protracted, harassing, desolating, industry-paralyzing
civil war. The fifth of these seven children was Henry, born on the 12th
of April, 1777, who remained in that humble home until fourteen years of
age, when his mother, who had married a second time, being about to
remove to Kentucky, placed him in a store at Richmond, under the eye of
his oldest brother, then nearly or quite of age, but who died very soon
afterwards, leaving Henry an orphan indeed. He was thus thrown
completely on his own exertions, when still but a child, and without
having enjoyed any other educational advantages than such as were
fitfully afforded by occasional private schools, in operation perhaps
two or three months in a year, and kept by teachers somewhat ruder than
the log tenement which circumscribed their labors. Such was all the
"schooling" ever enjoyed by the ragged urchin, whose bright summer days
were necessarily given to ploughing and hoeing in the corn-fields,
barefoot, bareheaded, and clad in coarse trowsers and shirt, and whose
daily tasks were diversified by frequent rides of two or three miles to
the nearest grist-mill, on a sorry cob, bestrode with no other saddle
than the grain-bag; whence many of his childhood's neighbors,
contrasting, long afterward, the figure he cut in Congress, at Ghent, in
Paris or London, with that which they had seen so often pass in scanty
garb, but jocund spirits, on these family errands, recalled him to mind
in his primitive occupation as _The Mill-Boy of the Slashes_, by which
_sobriquet_ he was fondly hailed by thousands in the pride of his
ripened renown.

Forty-five years after his childish farewell to it, Henry Clay stood
once more (in 1840), and for the last time, in the humble home of his
fathers, and was rejoiced to find the house where he was born and
reared, still essentially unchanged. Venerable grandames, who were
blooming matrons in his infancy, had long since indicated to their sons
and daughters the room wherein he was born; and the spring whence the
family had drawn their supplies of water wore a familiar aspect, though
the hickory which formerly shaded it, and was noted for the excellence
of its nuts, had passed away. Over the graves of his father and
grandparents the plough had passed and repassed for years, and he only
fixed their position by the decaying stump of a pear-tree, which had
flourished in his childhood, and often ministered to his gratification.
Beyond these, nothing answered to the picture in his memory, and he
would not have recognized the spot, had he awoke there unconscious of
the preceding journey. Familiar groves and orchards had passed away,
while pines which he left shrubs, just dotting with perennial green the
surface of the exhausted "old fields," unhappily too common throughout
the Southern States, had grown up into dense and towering forests, which
waved him a stately adieu, as he turned back refreshed and calmed, to
the heated and dusty highway of public life.

The boy Henry, spent five years in Richmond,--only the first in the
store where his mother had placed him; three of the others in the office
of Mr. Clerk-in-Chancery Peter Tinsley; the last in that of
Attorney-General Brooke. From Mr. Tinsley, he learned to write a
remarkably plain, neat, and elegant hand,--more like a schoolmistress's
best, than a great lawyer and politician, and this characteristic it
retained to the last. From Mr. Tinsley, Mr. Brooke, and perhaps still
more from the illustrious Chancellor Wythe, who employed him as his
amanuensis, and repaid him with his friendship and counsel, young Clay
derived his knowledge of the principles of Common Law, whereof he was,
all his life, a devoted champion. At length, in November, 1797, when
still lacking some months of his legal majority, he left Richmond and
Virginia, for the location he had chosen--namely, the thriving village
of Lexington, in the then rapidly growing Territory of Kentucky--the
home of his eventful adult life of more than half a century. How he here
was early recognized and honored as a Man of the People, and rapidly
chosen (1803) member of the Legislature, once (1806) appointed to fill a
vacancy in the United States Senate, and soon after (1809) elected out
of, and by the legislature, to fill another and longer vacancy in that
same dignified body; chosen in 1811 a Member of the more popular branch
of Congress, and, immediately on his appearance on its floor, elected
its Speaker--probably the highest compliment ever paid to a public man
in this country--appointed thence (1814) a Plenipotentiary to Göttingen
(afterwards changed to Ghent), to negotiate a Treaty of Peace with Great
Britain, which was signed near the close of that year; re-elected,
immediately on his return, to a seat in the House, and to the
Speakership, which he retained thenceforth (except during a temporary
retirement from public life, rendered necessary by heavy pecuniary
losses as an indorser), down to March 3d, 1825, when he finally retired
from the House on being appointed Secretary of State by President John
Q. Adams; quitting this station for private life on the Inauguration of
President Jackson in 1829, returning to the Senate in 1831, and
continuing one of its most eminent and influential members till 1842,
when he retired, as he supposed for ever; but was returned, by an
unanimous vote of the Legislature, in 1849, and dying a Senator in
Washington on the 29th of June, 1852, aged more than seventy-five years,
of which more than half had been spent in the public service, and nearly
all, since his majority, in active, ardent, anxious familiarity with
public men and public measures,--this is no place to set forth in
detail. The merest glance is all we can give to the public, official
career of Henry Clay.

For our business is not here with Tariffs, Banks, Vetoes, and
Presidential contests or aspirations. Our theme is the _man_ Henry
Clay,--what he was intrinsically, and in his daily dealings with, and
deportment toward, his fellow-beings. If there be a better mode of
developing his character than Plutarch's, we have not now time to
ascertain and employ it, so we must e'en be content with that.

A tall, plain, poor, friendless youth, was young Henry, when he set up
his Ebenezer in Lexington, and, after a few months' preliminary study,
announced himself a candidate for practice as an attorney. He had not
even the means of paying his weekly board. "I remember," he observed in
his Lexington speech of 1842, "how comfortable I thought I should be, if
I could make £100 Virginia money, per year; and with what delight I
received my first fifteen shilling fee. My hopes were more than
realized. I immediately rushed into a lucrative practice."

Local tradition affirms that the Bar of Lexington, being unusually
strong when Mr. Clay first appeared thereat, an understanding had grown
up among the seniors, that they would systematically discountenance the
advent of any new aspirants, so as to keep the business remunerating,
and preserve each other from the peril of being starved out. It was some
time, therefore, before young Clay obtained a case to manage in Court;
and when he did appear there, the old heads greeted the outset of his
argument with winks, and nods, and meaning smiles, and titters, intended
to disconcert and embarrass him. So they did for a few minutes; but they
soon exasperated and roused him. His eyes flashed, and sentence after
sentence came pouring rapidly out, replete with the fire of eloquence
and genius. At length, one of the old heads leaned across the table and
whispered to another, "_I think we must let this young man pass._" Of
course they must!--the case was as plain as the portliest of noses on
the most rubicund of faces. Henry Clay passed, _nem. con._, and his
position and success at that Bar were never more disputed nor doubted.

General Cass, in his remarks in the Senate on the occasion of Mr. Clay's
death, has the following interesting reminiscence:

"It is almost half a century since he passed through Chilicothe, then
the seat of government of Ohio, where I was a member of the Legislature,
on his way to take his place in this very body, which is now listening
to this reminiscence, and to a feeble tribute of regard from one who
then saw him for the first time, but who can never forget the impression
he produced by the charms of his conversation, the frankness of his
manner, and the high qualities with which he was endowed."

That an untaught, portionless rustic, reared not only in one of the
rudest localities, but in the most troublous and critical era of our
country, when the general poverty and insecurity rendered any attention
to personal culture difficult, almost impossible, and graduating from a
log school-house, should have been celebrated for the union in his
manners, of grace with frankness, ease with fascination, is not unworthy
of remark. Of the fact, those who never knew Mr. Clay personally, may
have abundant attestations, which none others will need.

While in Europe as a negotiator for Peace with Great Britain, Mr. Clay
was brought into immediate and familiar contact, not only with his
associates, the urbane and cultivated John Quincy Adams, whose life had
been divided between seminaries and courts; the philosophic Gallatin and
the chivalric Bayard, but also with the noble and aristocratic
Commissioners of Great Britain, and with many others of like breeding
and position, to whom the importance of their mission, its protracted
labors and its successful result, commended our Plenipotentiaries. A
single anecdote will illustrate the impression he every where produced.
An octogenarian British Earl, who had retired from public life because
of his years, but who still cherished a natural interest in public men
and measures, being struck by the impression made in the aristocratic
circles of London by the American Commissioners, then on their way home
from Ghent, requested a friend to bring them to see him at his house, to
which his growing infirmities confined him. The visit was promptly and
cheerfully paid, and the obliging friend afterwards inquired of the old
Lord as to the impression the Americans had made upon him. "Ah!" said
the veteran, with the "light of other days" gleaming from his eyes, "I
liked them all, but _I liked the Kentucky man best_." It was so every

One specimen has been preserved of Mr. Clay's felicity of repartee and
charm of conversation, as exhibited while in Paris, immediately after
the conclusion of Peace at Ghent. He was there introduced to the famous
Madame de Stael, who cordially addressed him with--"Ah, Mr. Clay! I have
been in England, and have been battling your cause for you there." "I
know it, madame; we heard of your powerful interposition, and are
grateful and thankful for it." "They were much enraged against you,"
said she: "so much so, that they at one time thought seriously of
sending the Duke of Wellington to command their armies against you!" "I
am very sorry, madame," replied Mr. Clay, "that they did not send his
Grace." "Why?" asked she, surprised. "Because, madame, if he had beaten
us, we should have been in the condition of Europe, without disgrace.
But, if we had been so fortunate as to defeat him, we should have
greatly added to the renown of our arms."

At his next meeting with "Corinne," at her own house, Mr. Clay was
introduced by her to the conqueror at Waterloo, when she related the
above conversation. The Duke promptly responded that, had it been his
fortune to serve against the Americans, and to triumph over them, he
should indeed have regarded that triumph as the proudest of his

Mr. Clay was in London when the tidings of Waterloo arrived, and set the
British frantic with exultation. He was dining one day at Lord
Castlereagh's, while Bonaparte's position was still uncertain, as he had
disappeared from Paris, and fled none knew whither. The most probable
conjecture was that he had embarked at some little port for the United
States, and would probably make his way thither, as he was always lucky
on water. "If he reaches your shores, Mr. Clay," gravely inquired Lord
Liverpool (one of the Ministers), "will he not give you a great deal of
trouble?" "Not the least," was the prompt reply of the Kentuckian; "we
shall be very glad to receive him; to treat him with all hospitality,
and very soon make him a good democrat." A general laugh here restored
the hilarity of the party.

The magnetism of Mr. Clay's manner and conversation have perhaps
received no stronger testimony than that of Gen. Glascock, a political
antagonist, who came into Congress from Georgia, during the fierce
struggle which followed the removal of the Deposits. "Gen. Glascock,"
said a mutual friend, at a party one evening, "shall I make you
acquainted with Mr. Clay?" "No, Sir!" was the prompt and stern response;
"I choose not to be fascinated and moulded by him, as friend and foe
appear to be, and I shall therefore decline his acquaintance."

Mr. Clay had a natural repugnance to caucuses, conventions, and the
kindred contrivances whereby great men are elaborated out of very small
materials, and was uniformly a candidate for Congress "on his own hook,"
with no fence between him and his constituents. Only once in the course
of his long Representative career was he obliged to canvass for his
election, and he was never defeated, nor ever could be, before a public
that he could personally meet and address. The one searching ordeal to
which he was subjected, followed the passage of the "Compensation Act"
of 1816, whereby Congress substituted for its own per diem a fixed
salary of $1,500 to each Member. This act raised a storm throughout the
country, which prostrated most of its supporters. The hostility excited
was especially strong in the West, then very poor, especially in money:
$1,500 then, being equal to $4000 at present. John Pope (afterward Gen.
Jackson's Governor of Arkansas), one of the ablest men in Kentucky, a
federalist of the old school, and a personal antagonist of Mr. Clay,
took the stump as his competitor for the seat, and gave him enough to do
through the canvass. They met in discussion at several local
assemblages, and finally in a pitched battle at Higbie; a place central
to the three counties composing the district, where the whole people
collected to hear them. Pope had the district with him in his
denunciation of the Compensation Bill, while Clay retorted with effect,
by pressing home on his antagonist the embittered and not very
consistent hostility of the latter to the war with Great Britain,
recently concluded, which uniformly had been very popular in Kentucky.
The result was decisive: Mr. Clay was re-elected by about six hundred

That excited canvass was fruitful of characteristic incidents like the

While traversing the district, Mr. Clay encountered an old hunter, who
had always before been his warm friend, but was now opposed to his
re-election on account of the Compensation Bill. "Have you a good rifle,
my friend?" asked Mr. Clay. "Yes." "Did it ever flash?" "Once only," he
replied. "What did you do with it--throw it away?" "No, I picked the
flint, tried it again, and brought down the game." "Have _I_ ever
flashed but upon the Compensation Bill?" "No!" "Will you throw me away?"
"No, no!" exclaimed the hunter with enthusiasm, nearly overpowered by
his feelings; "I will pick the flint, and try you again!" He was
afterward a warm supporter of Mr. Clay.

An Irish barber in Lexington, Jerry Murphy by name, who had always
before been a zealous admirer and active supporter of Mr. Clay, was
observed during this canvass to maintain a studied silence. That silence
was ominous, especially as he was known to be under personal obligation
to Mr. Clay for legal assistance to rescue him from various difficulties
in which his hasty temper had involved him. At length, an active and
prominent partisan of the speaker called on the barber, with whom he had
great influence, and pressed him to dispel the doubt that hung over his
intentions by a frank declaration in favor of his old favorite. Looking
his canvasser in the eye, with equal earnestness and shrewdness, Murphy
responded; "I tell you what, docthur; I mane to vote for the man _that
can put but one hand into the Treasury_." (Mr. Pope had lost one of his
arms in early life, and the humor of Pat's allusion to this
circumstance, in connection with Mr. Clay's support of the Compensation
Bill, was inimitable.)

Mr. Clay was confessedly the best presiding officer that any
deliberative body in America has ever known, and none was ever more
severely tried. The intensity and bitterness of party feeling during the
earlier portion of his Speakership cannot now be realized except by the
few who remember those days. It was common at that time in New England
town-meetings, for the rival parties to take opposite sides of the broad
aisle in the meeting-house, and thus remain, hardly speaking across the
line separation, from morning till night. Hon. Josiah Quincy, the
Representative of Boston, was distinguished in Congress for the ferocity
of his assaults on the policy of Jefferson and Madison; and between him
and Mr. Clay there were frequent and sharp encounters, barely kept
within the limits prescribed by parliamentary decorum. At a later
period, the eccentric and distinguished John Randolph, the master of
satire and invective; and who, though not avowedly a Federalist, opposed
nearly every act of the Democrat Administrations of 1801-16, and was the
unfailing antagonist of every measure proposed or supported by Mr. Clay,
was a thorn in the side of the Speaker for years. Many were the passages
between them in which blows were given and taken, whereof the gloves of
parliamentary etiquette could not break the force: the War, the Tariff,
the early recognition of Greek and South American Independence, the
Missouri Compromise, &c. &c., being strenuously advocated by Mr. Clay
and opposed by Mr. Randolph. But of these this is no place to speak.
Innumerable appeals from Mr. Clay's decisions, as Speaker, were made by
the orator of Roanoke, but no one of them was ever sustained by the
House. At length, after Mr. Clay had left Congress, and Mr. Randolph
been transferred to the Senate, a bloodless duel between them grew out
of the Virginian's unmeasured abuse of the Kentuckian's agency in
electing J.Q. Adams to the Presidency; a duel which seems to have had
the effect of softening, if not dissipating Randolph's rancor against
Mr. Clay. Though evermore a political antagonist, his personal antipathy
was no longer manifested; and one of the last visits of Randolph to the
Capitol, when dying of consumption, was made for the avowed purpose of
hearing in the Senate the well-known voice of the eloquent Sage of

On the floor of the House, Mr. Clay was often impetuous in discussion,
and delighted to relieve the tedium of debate, and modify the sternness
of antagonism by a sportive jest or lively repartee. On one occasion,
Gen. Alexander Smythe of Virginia, who often afflicted the House by the
verbosity of his harangues and the multiplicity of his dry citations,
had paused in the middle of a speech which seemed likely to endure for
ever, to send to the library for a book from which he wished to note a
passage. Fixing his eye on Mr. Clay, who sat near him, he observed the
Kentuckian writhing in his seat as if his patience had already been
exhausted. "You, sir," remarked Smythe addressing the Speaker, "speak
for the present generation; but I speak for posterity." "Yes," said Mr.
Clay, "and you seem resolved to speak until the arrival of _your_

Revolutionary pensions were a source of frequent passages between
eastern and western members; the greater portion of those pensions being
payable to eastern survivors of the struggle. On one occasion when a
Pension Bill was under discussion, Hon. Enoch Lincoln (afterwards
Governor of Maine) was dilating on the services and sufferings of these
veterans, and closed with the patriotic adjuration, "Soldiers of the
Revolution! live for ever!" Mr. Clay followed, counselling moderation in
the grant of pensions, that the country might not be overloaded and
rendered restive by their burden, and turning to Mr. Lincoln with a
smile, observed--"I hope my worthy friend will not insist on the very
great duration of these pensions which he has suggested. Will he not
consent, by way of a compromise, to a term of nine hundred and
ninety-nine years instead of eternity?"

A few sentences culled from the remarks in Congress elicited by his
death, will fitly close this hasty daguerreotype of the man Henry Clay.

Mr. Underwood (his colleague) observed in Senate that "his physical and
mental organization eminently qualified him to become a great and
impressive orator. His person was tall, slender and commanding. His
temperament, ardent, fearless, and full of hope. His countenance, clear,
expressive, and variable--indicating the emotion which predominated at
the moment with exact similitude. His voice, cultivated and modulated in
harmony with the sentiment he desired to express, fell upon the ear with
the melody of enrapturing music. His eye beaming with intelligence and
flashing with coruscations of genius. His gestures and attitudes
graceful and natural. These personal advantages won the prepossessions
of an audience even before his intellectual powers began to move his
hearers; and when his strong common sense, his profound reasoning, his
clear conceptions of his subject in all its bearings, and his striking
and beautiful illustrations, united with such personal qualities, were
brought to the discussion of any question, his audience was enraptured,
convinced and led by the orator as if enchanted by the lyre of Orpheus.

"No man was ever blessed by his Creator with faculties of a higher order
than Mr. Clay. In the quickness of his perceptions, and the rapidity
with which his conclusions were formed, he had few equals and no
superiors. He was eminently endowed with a nice discriminating taste for
order, symmetry, and beauty. He detected in a moment every thing out of
place or deficient in his room, upon his farm, in his own or the dress
of others. He was a skilful judge of the form and qualities of his
domestic animals, which he delighted to raise on his farm. I could give
you instances of the quickness and minuteness of his keen faculty of
observation, which never overlooked any thing. A want of neatness and
order was offensive to him. He was particular and neat in his
handwriting and his apparel. A slovenly blot or negligence of any sort
met his condemnation; while he was so organized that he attended to, and
arranged little things to please and gratify his natural love for
neatness, order, and beauty, his great intellectual faculties grasped
all the subjects of jurisprudence and politics with a facility amounting
almost to intuition. As a lawyer, he stood at the head of his
profession. As a statesman, his stand at the head of the Republican Whig
party for nearly half a century, establishes his title to pre-eminence
among his illustrious associates.

"Mr. Clay was deeply versed in all the springs of human action. He had
read and studied biography and history. Shortly after I left college, I
had occasion to call on him in Frankfort, where he was attending court,
and well I remember to have found him with Plutarch's Lives in his
hands. No one better than he knew how to avail himself of human motives,
and all the circumstances which surrounded a subject, or could present
themselves with more force and skill to accomplish the object of an

"Bold and determined as Mr. Clay was in all his actions, he was,
nevertheless, conciliating. He did not obstinately adhere to things
impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, he contented himself
with the nighest approach to it. He has been the great compromiser of
those political agitations and opposing opinions which have, in the
belief of thousands, at different times, endangered the perpetuity of
our Federal Government and Union.

"Mr. Clay was no less remarkable for his admirable social qualities,
than for his intellectual abilities. As a companion, he was the delight
of his friends; and no man ever had better or truer. No guest ever
thence departed, without feeling happier for his visit."

Mr. Hunter of Virginia (a political antagonist) following, observed: "It
may be truly said of Mr. Clay, that he was no exaggerator. He looked at
events through neither end of the telescope, but surveyed them with the
natural and the naked eye. He had the capacity of seeing things as the
people saw them, and of feeling things as the people felt them. He had,
sir, beyond any other man whom I have ever seen, the true mesmeric touch
of the orator,--the rare art of transferring his impulses to others.
Thoughts, feelings, emotions, came from the ready mould of his genius,
radiant and glowing, and communicated their own warmth to every heart
which received them. His, too, was the power of wielding the higher and
intenser forms of passion, with a majesty and an ease, which none but
the great masters of the human heart can ever employ."

Mr. Seward of New-York, said: "He was indeed eloquent--all the world
knows that. He held the key to the hearts of his countrymen, and he
turned the wards within them with a skill attained by no other master.

"But eloquence was nevertheless only an instrument, and one of many,
that he used. His conversation, his gestures, his very look, were
magisterial, persuasive, seductive, irresistible. And his appliance of
all these was courteous, patient, and indefatigable. Defeat only
inspired him with new resolution. He divided opposition by the assiduity
of address, while he rallied and strengthened his own bands of
supporters by the confidence of success, which, feeling himself, he
easily inspired among his followers. His affections were high, and pure,
and generous; and the chiefest among them was that one which the great
Italian poet designated as the charity of native land. In him, that
charity was an enduring and overpowering enthusiasm, and it influenced
all his sentiments and conduct, rendering him more impartial between
conflicting interests and sections, than any other statesman who has
lived since the Revolution. Thus, with great versatility of talent, and
the most catholic equality of favor, he identified every question,
whether of domestic administration or foreign policy, with his own great
name, and so became a perpetual Tribune of the People. He needed only to
pronounce in favor of a measure or against it, here, and immediately
popular enthusiasm, excited as by a magic wand, was felt, overcoming and
dissolving all opposition in the Senate Chamber."

In the House, about the same time, Mr. Breckenridge of Kentucky
(democrat), spoke as follows:

"The life of Mr. Clay, sir, is a striking example of the abiding fame
which surely awaits the direct and candid statesman. The entire absence
of equivocation or disguise in all his acts, was his master-key to the
popular heart; for while the people will forgive the errors of a bold
and open nature, he sins past forgiveness who deliberately deceives
them. Hence Mr. Clay, though often defeated in his measures of policy,
always secured the respect of his opponents without losing the
confidence of his friends. He never paltered in a double sense. The
country never was in doubt as to his opinions or his purposes. In all
the contests of his time, his position on great public questions was as
clear as the sun in the cloudless sky. Sir, standing by the grave of
this great man, and considering these things, how contemptible does
appear the mere legerdemain of politics! What a reproach is his life on
that false policy which would trifle with a great and upright people! If
I were to write his epitaph, I would inscribe as the highest eulogy, on
the stone which shall mark his resting-place, 'Here lies a man who was
in the public service for fifty years, and never attempted to deceive
his countrymen.'"

Let me close this too hasty and superficial sketch, with a brief
citation from Rev. C.M. Butler, Chaplain of the Senate, who, in his
funeral discourse in the Senate Chamber, said:

"A great mind, a great heart, a great orator, a great career, have been
consigned to history. She will record his rare gifts of deep insight,
keen discrimination, clear statement, rapid combination, plain, direct,
and convincing logic. She will love to dwell on that large, generous,
magnanimous, open, forgiving heart. She will linger with fond delight on
the recorded or traditional stories of an eloquence that was so
masterful and stirring, because it was but himself struggling to come
forth on the living words--because, though the words were brave and
strong, and beautiful and melodious, it was felt that, behind them,
there was a soul braver, stronger, more beautiful, and more melodious,
than language could express."

Such was the master of Ashland, the man Henry Clay!

       *       *       *       *       *

After this article was in type, we received from a Western paper the
following notice of the sale of the Ashland estate.

"We are glad to learn that Ashland, the home of Henry Clay, which was
sold September 20th, at public auction, was purchased by James B. Clay,
eldest son of the deceased statesman. The Ashland homestead contained
about 337 acres. It lies just without the limits of the city of
Lexington. The country immediately surrounding it, is justly regarded as
the garden spot of the West, and Ashland, above all others, as the most
beautiful place in the world. The associations about it are of the most
interesting character. When Kentucky was, in fact, the 'dark and bloody
ground,' the country around Lexington was the only oasis--every where
else, the tomahawk and the rifle were more potent than laws. How many
incidents of these terrible days are garnered in the minds of the
descendants of the old families of Kentucky! In those thrilling days,
Ashland belonged to Daniel Boone, whose name is connected with many of
the daring tragedies enacted in the then Far West. It passed from his
hands into those of Nathaniel Hart, who fell, gloriously fighting, in
the battle at the River Raisin, where so many Kentuckians offered up
their lives in defence of their country. Henry Clay married Lucretia
Hart, to whom the demesne of Ashland descended.

"There is so much of the Arab in the habits of the Americans,--there is
so much migratoriness, and so little love for old homesteads,--we were
afraid the children of Henry Clay would allow classic Ashland to pass
into other and alien hands. But our fears are to gladness changed; and
Ashland is still the dwelling-place of the Clays.

"Mr. Clay was thoroughly versed in agricultural matters, and was never
better contented (as the editor of the Ohio Journal truly remarks), than
when surrounded by his neighbors, many of whom knew and loved him when
he was quite young and obscure, and afterwards rejoiced at his fame, and
followed his fortunes through every phase of a long and eventful career.
The residence does not present any imposing appearance, but is of a
plain, neat, and rather antique architectural character, and the grounds
immediately surrounding it are beautifully adorned, and traversed by
walks; not in accordance with the foolish and fastidious taste of the
present day, for this, in every thing connected with the place has been
neglected, and the only end seems to have been to represent Nature in
its proudest and most imposing grandeur. Many of the walks are retired,
and are of a serpentine character, with here and there, in some secluded
spot along their windings, a rude and unpolished bench upon which to
recline. The trees are mostly pines of a large growth, and stand close
together, casting a deep and sombre shade on every surrounding object.
The reflections of one on visiting Ashland are of the most interesting
character. Every object seems invested with an interest, and although
the spirit with whose memory they are associated, has fled, one cannot
repel the conviction, that while reposing under its silent and
sequestered shades, he is still surrounded by something sublime and
great. Old memories of the past come back upon him, and a thousand
scenes connected with the life and history of Henry Clay, will force
themselves upon you. The great monarchs of the forest that now stretch
their limbs aloft in proud and peerless majesty, have all, or nearly all
been planted by his hand, and are now not unfit emblems of the towering
greatness of him who planted them.

"The walks, the flowers, the garden and the groves, all, all are
consecrated, and have all been witnesses of his presence and his care.
In the groves through which you wander, were nursed the mighty schemes
of Statesmanship, which have astonished the world and terrified the
tyrant, beat back the evil counsels for his country's ruin, and bound
and fettered his countrymen in one common and indissoluble bond of

[Illustration: Clay's Birth-place]


[19] See vignette title-page to this volume.


[Illustration: Calhoun fac-simile of letter]


In writing the lives of our American Statesmen, we might say of almost
any of them, "that he was born in such a year, that he was sent to the
common school or to college, that he studied law, that he was chosen,
first a member of the State Legislature, and then of the National
Congress, that he became successively, a Senator, a foreign Ambassador,
a Secretary of State, or a President, and that finally he retired to his
paternal acres, to pass a venerable old age, amid the general respect
and admiration of the whole country." This would be a true outline in
the main, of the practical workings and doings of nine out of ten of
them: but in filling in the details of the sketch, in clothing the dry
skeleton of facts with the flesh and blood of the living reality, it
would be found that this apparent similarity of development had given
rise to the utmost diversity and individuality of character, and that
scarcely any two of our distinguished men, though born and bred under
the same influence, bore even a family resemblance. It is said by the
foreign writers, by De Tocqueville especially, that very little
originality and independence of mind can be expected in a democracy,
where the force of the majority crushes all opinions and characters into
a dead and leaden uniformity. But the study of our actual history rather
tends to the opposite conclusion, and leads us to believe that the land
of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, the Adamses, Clay,
Webster and Calhoun, is favorable to the production of distinct,
peculiar, and decided natures. At least we may be sure, that our annals
are no more wanting than those of other nations, in original,
self-formed, and self-dependent men.

Among these, there was no one more peculiar or more unlike any
prototype, than John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina. In the structure of
his mind, in the singular tenacity of his purposes, in the rare dignity
and elevation of his character, and in the remarkable political system
to which he adhered, he was wholly _sui generis_, standing out from the
number of his forerunners and contemporaries in bold, positive and
angular relief. He could only have been what he was, in the country, and
during the times, in which he flourished: he was a natural growth of our
American society and institutions: had formed himself by no models
ancient or modern; and the great leading principles of his thought
faithfully rendered in all his conduct, were as much an individual
possession as the figure of his body or the features of his face. In
seeing him, in hearing him speak, or in reading his books, no one was
ever likely to confound him with any second person.

Mr. Calhoun was born in the Abbeville District of South Carolina, on
the 18th of March, 1782. His parents on both sides were of Irish
extraction, who had first settled in Pennsylvania, and then in Virginia,
whence they were driven by the Indians, at the time of Braddock's defeat,
to South Carolina. The father appears to have been a man of the most
resolute and energetic character, equally ready to defend his home
against the incursions of the savages, and his rights as a citizen
against legislative encroachments. On one occasion, he and his neighbors
went down to within thirty miles of Charleston, armed, to assert a right
of suffrage which was then disputed; and he always steadily opposed the
Federal Constitution, because it allowed other people than those of South
Carolina to tax the people of South Carolina. "We have heard his son
say," writes a friend of the latter, "that among his earliest
recollections was one of a conversation when he was nine years of age,
in which his father maintained that government to be best, which allowed
the largest amount of individual liberty compatible with social order
and tranquillity, and insisted that the improvements in political
science would be found to consist in throwing off many of the restraints
then imposed by law, and deemed necessary to an organized society. It
may well be supposed that his son John was an attentive and eager
auditor, and such lessons as these must doubtless have served to
encourage that free spirit of inquiry, and that intrepid zeal for truth,
for which he has been since so distinguished. The mode of thinking which
was thus encouraged may, perhaps, have compensated in some degree the
want of those early advantages which are generally deemed indispensable
to great intellectual progress. Of these he had comparatively few. But
this was compensated by those natural gifts which give great minds the
mastery over difficulties which the timid regard as insuperable. Indeed,
we have here another of those rare instances in which the hardiness of
natural genius is seen to defy all obstacles, and developes its flower
and matures its fruit under circumstances apparently the most

"The region of the country in which his family resided was then newly
settled, and in a rude frontier State. There was not an academy in all
the upper part of the State, and none within fifty miles, except one at
about that distance in Columbia county, Georgia, which was kept by his
brother-in-law, Mr. Waddell, a Presbyterian clergyman. There were but a
few scattered schools in the whole of that region, and these were such
as are usually found on the frontier, in which reading, writing and
arithmetic were imperfectly taught. At the age of thirteen he was placed
under the charge of his brother-in-law to receive his education. Shortly
after, his father died; this was followed by the death of his sister,
Mrs. Waddell, within a few weeks, and the academy was then discontinued,
which suspended his education before it had fairly commenced. His
brother-in-law, with whom he was still left, was absent the greater part
of the time, attending to his clerical duties, and his pupil thus found
himself on a secluded plantation, without any white companion during the
greater portion of the time. A situation apparently so unfavorable to
improvement turned out, in his case, to be the reverse. Fortunately for
him, there was a small circulating library in the house, of which his
brother-in-law was librarian, and, in the absence of all company and
amusements, that attracted his attention. His taste, although
undirected, led him to history, to the neglect of novels and other
lighter reading; and so deeply was he interested, that in a short time
he read the whole of the small stock of historical works, contained in
the library, consisting of Rollin's Ancient History, Robertson's Charles
V., his South America, and Voltaire's Charles XII. After dispatching
these, he turned with like eagerness to Cook's Voyages (the large
edition), a small volume of essays by Brown, and Locke on the
Understanding, which he read as far as the chapter on Infinity. All this
was the work of but fourteen weeks. So intense was his application that
his eyes became seriously affected, his countenance pallid, and his
frame emaciated. His mother, alarmed at the intelligence of his health,
sent for him home, where exercise and amusement soon restored his
strength, and he acquired a fondness for hunting, fishing, and other
country sports. Four years passed away in these pursuits, and in
attention to the business of the farm while his elder brothers were
absent, to the entire neglect of his education. But the time was not
lost. Exercise and rural sports invigorated his frame, while his labors
on the farm gave him a taste for agriculture, which he always retained,
and in the pursuit of which he finds delightful occupation for his
intervals of leisure from public duties."

It is not our purpose, however, to enter into any detail of the life of
Mr Calhoun. Suffice it to say that he was educated, under Dr. Dwight, at
Yale College, that he studied law at Litchfield in Connecticut, that he
was for two sessions a member of the Legislature, that from 1811 to 1817
during the war with Great Britain, and the most trying times that
followed it, he was a member of the lower House of Congress. That he was
then appointed Secretary of War, under Madison, when he gave a new,
thorough, and complete organization to his department. That he was
chosen Vice-President in 1825, and subsequently served his country as
Senator of the United States, and Secretary of State, until the year
1850, when he died. During the whole of this long period his exertions
were constant, and he took a leading part in all the movements of
parties. Acting for the most of the time with the Democratic party, he
was still never the slave of party, never guilty of the low arts or
petty cunning of the mere politician, always fearless in the discharge
of his duties, and though ambitious, ever sacrificing his ambition to
his clearly discerned and openly expressed principles. Mr. Webster, who,
during nearly the whole of his legislative career, and on nearly all
questions of public concern, had been an active opponent, in an obituary
address to the Senate, bore this testimony to his genius and his

"Differing widely on many great questions respecting our institutions
and the government of the country, those differences never interrupted
our personal and social intercourse. I have been present at most of the
distinguished instances of the exhibition of his talents in debate. I
have always heard him with pleasure, often with much instruction, not
unfrequently with the highest degree of admiration.

"Mr. Calhoun was calculated to be a leader in whatsoever association of
political friends he was thrown. He was a man of undoubted genius and of
commanding talents. All the country and all the world admit that. His
mind was both perceptive and vigorous. It was clear, quick, and strong.

"Sir, the eloquence of Mr. Calhoun, or the manner in which he exhibited
his sentiments in public bodies, was part of his intellectual character.
It grew out of the qualities of his mind. It was plain, strong, terse,
condensed, concise: sometimes impassioned, still always severe.
Rejecting ornament, not often seeking far for illustration, his power
consisted in the plainness of his propositions, in the closeness of his
logic, and in the earnestness and energy of his manner. These are the
qualities, as I think, which have enabled him through such a long course
of years to speak often, and yet command attention. His demeanor as a
Senator is known to us all, is appreciated, venerated, by us all. No man
was more respectful to others; no man carried himself with greater
decorum, no man with superior dignity. I think there is not one of us,
when he last addressed us from his seat in the Senate, his form still
erect, with a voice by no means indicating such a degree of physical
weakness as did in fact possess him, with clear tones, and an
impressive, and, I may say, an imposing manner, who did not feel that he
might imagine that we saw before us a Senator of Rome, while Rome

"Sir, I have not, in public, nor in private life, known a more assiduous
person in the discharge of his appropriate duties. I have known no man
who wasted less of life in what is called recreation, or employed less
of it in any pursuits not connected with the immediate discharge of his
duty. He seemed to have no recreation but the pleasure of conversation
with his friends. Out of the chambers of Congress, he was either
devoting himself to the acquisition of knowledge pertaining to the
immediate subject of the duty before him, or else he was indulging in
those social interviews in which he so much delighted.

"My honorable friend from Kentucky[20] has spoken in just terms of his
colloquial talents. They certainly were singular and eminent. There was
a charm in his conversation not often equalled. He delighted especially
in conversation and intercourse with young men. I suppose that there has
been no man among us who had more winning manners, in such an
intercourse and such conversation, with men comparatively young, than
Mr. Calhoun. I believe one great power of his character, in general, was
his conversational talent. I believe it is that, as well as a
consciousness of his high integrity, and the greatest reverence for his
talents and ability, that has made him so endeared an object to the
people of the State to which he belonged.

"Mr. President, he had the basis, the indispensable basis of all high
character; and that was, unspotted integrity and unimpeached honor.
If he had aspirations, they were high, and honorable, and noble. There
was nothing grovelling, or low, or meanly selfish, that came near the
head or the heart of Mr. Calhoun. Firm in his purpose, perfectly
patriotic and honest, as I am sure he was, in the principles that he
espoused, and in the measures which he defended, aside from that large
regard for the species of distinction that conducted him to eminent
stations for the benefit of the republic, I do not believe he had a
selfish motive or selfish feeling. However he may have differed from
others of us in his political opinions or his political principles,
those principles and those opinions will now descend to posterity under
the sanction of a great name. He has lived long enough, he has done
enough, and he has done it so well, so successfully, so honorably, as to
connect himself for all time with the records of his country. He is now
an historical character. Those of us who have known him here, will find
that he has left upon our minds and our hearts a strong and lasting
impression of his person, his character, and his public performances,
which, while we live, will never be obliterated. We shall hereafter, I
am sure, indulge in it as a grateful recollection, that we have lived in
his age, that we have been his contemporaries, that we have seen him,
and heard him, and known him. We shall delight to speak of him to those
who are rising up to fill our places. And, when the time shall come that
we ourselves must go, one after another, to our graves, we shall carry
with us a deep sense of his genius and character, his honor and
integrity, his amiable deportment in private life, and the purity of his
exalted patriotism."

The event in Mr. Calhoun's political life which will give him the
greatest distinction in our history, was the bold and perilous course he
took on the subject of nullification. It brought him and his native
State directly in conflict with the powers of the Federal government,
and but for the compromise of the Tariff question, out of which the
controversy grew, would have ended in civil war. We shall not undertake
to narrate the origin or the purpose of this most fearful crisis,
referring our readers to the regular memoirs of Mr. Calhoun for the
details, but we cannot refrain from expressing our high admiration of
the gallant bearing of the great South Carolinian during the whole of
the protracted and embarrassing dispute. The energy with which he
pursued his ends, the originality with which he defended them, the
boldness of his position, the devotion to his friends, the formidable
objects that he had to encounter, the calm, earnest self-reliance with
which he encountered them, and, in the end, the graceful concessions on
both sides, by which the difficulties of the juncture were avoided, are
brilliant illustrations both of the lofty energies of his spirit, and of
the happy, peaceful working of our national institutions. In any other
country, and under any other government, if it had been possible for
such a conflict to arise, it could only have terminated in bloodshed or
war. Either the reigning authority would have been overturned, or the
chief agent in the insurrection would have been executed as a traitor.
Under the benign and conciliatory genius of our constitution, by that
pacific legislation, which knows how to temper the rigid and inflexible
exercise of law by the spirit of concession, the struggle ended in

It was in his domestic life that Mr. Calhoun won the warmest homage of
the heart. Miss Bates, who was for many years a governess in his family,
and who enjoyed the finest opportunities for observing him, has given us
the following record of his private virtues and peculiarities.

"In Mr. Calhoun were united the simple habits of the Spartan lawgiver,
the inflexible principles of the Roman senator, the courteous bearing
and indulgent kindness of the American host, husband, and father. This
was indeed a rare union. Life with him was solemn and earnest, and yet
all about him was cheerful. I never heard him utter a jest; there was an
unvarying dignity and gravity in his manner; and yet the playful child
regarded him fearlessly and lovingly. Few men indulge their families in
as free, confidential, and familiar intercourse as did this great
statesman. Indeed, to those who had an opportunity of observing him in
his own house, it was evident that his cheerful and happy home had
attractions for him superior to those which any other place could offer.
Here was a retreat from the cares, the observation, and the homage of
the world. In few homes could the transient visitor feel more at ease
than did the guest at Fort Hill. Those who knew Mr. Calhoun only by his
senatorial speeches, may suppose that his heart and mind were all
engrossed in the nation's councils; but there were moments when his
courtesy, his minute kindnesses, made you forget the statesman. The
choicest fruits were selected for his guest; and I remember seeing him
at his daughter's wedding take the ornaments from a cake and send them
to a little child. Many such graceful attentions, offered in an
unostentatious manner to all about him, illustrated the kindness and
noble simplicity of his nature. His family could not but exult in his
intellectual greatness, his rare endowments, and his lofty career, yet
they seemed to lose sight of all these in their love for him. I had once
the pleasure of travelling with his eldest son, who related to me many
interesting facts and traits of his life. He said he had never heard him
speak impatiently to any member of his family. He mentioned, that as he
was leaving that morning for his home in Alabama, a younger brother
said, 'Come soon again, and see us, brother A--, for do you not see that
father is growing old? and is not father the dearest, best old man in
the world!'

"Like Cincinnatus, he enjoyed rural life and occupation. It was his
habit, when at home, to go over his grounds every day. I remember his
returning one morning from a walk about his plantation, delighted with
the fine specimens of corn and rice which he brought in for us to
admire. That morning--the trifling incident shows his consideration and
kindness of feeling, as well as his tact and power of adaptation--seeing
an article of needlework in the hands of sister A--, who was then a
stranger there, he examined it, spoke of the beauty of the coloring, the
variety of the shade, and by thus showing an interest in her, at once
made her at ease in his presence.

"His eldest daughter always accompanied him to Washington, and in the
absence of his wife, who was often detained by family cares at Fort
Hill, this daughter was his solace amid arduous duties, and his
confidant in perplexing cases. Like the gifted De Staël, she loved her
father with enthusiastic devotion. Richly endowed by nature, improved by
constant companionship with the great man, her mind was in harmony with
his, and he took pleasure in counselling with her. She said, 'Of course,
I do not understand as he does, for I am comparatively a stranger to the
world, yet he likes my unsophisticated opinion, and I frankly tell him
my views on any subject about which he inquires of me.'

"Between himself and his younger daughter there was a peculiar and most
tender union. As by the state of her health she was deprived of many
enjoyments, her indulgent parents endeavored to compensate for every
loss by their affection and devotion. As reading was her favorite
occupation, she was allowed to go to the letter-bag when it came from
the office, and select the papers she preferred. On one occasion, she
had taken two papers, containing news of importance which her father was
anxious to see, but he would allow no one to disturb her until she had
finished their perusal.

"In his social as well as in his domestic relations he was
irreproachable. No shadow rested on his pure fame, no blot on his
escutcheon. In his business transactions he was punctual and
scrupulously exact. He was honorable as well as honest. Young men who
were reared in his vicinity, with their eyes ever on him, say that in
all respects, in small as well as in great things, his conduct was so
exemplary that he might well be esteemed a model.

"His profound love for his own family, his cordial interest in his
friends, his kindness and justice in every transaction, were not small
virtues in such a personage.

"He was anti-Byronic. I never heard him ridicule or satirize a human
being. Indeed he might have been thought deficient in a sense of the
ludicrous, had he not by the unvarying propriety of his own conduct
proved his exquisite perception of its opposites. When he differed in
opinion from those with whom he conversed, he seemed to endeavor by a
respectful manner, to compensate for the disagreement. He employed
reason, rather than contradiction; and so earnestly would he urge an
opinion and so fully present an argument, that his opponent could not
avoid feeling complimented rather than mortified. He paid a tribute to
the understandings of others by the force of his own reasoning, and by
his readiness to admit every argument which he could, although advanced
in opposition to one he himself had just expressed.

"On one occasion I declined taking a glass of wine at his table. He
kindly said, 'I think you carry that a little too far. It is well to
give up every thing intoxicating, but not these light wines.' I replied,
that wine was renounced by many for the sake of consistency, and for the
benefit of those who could not afford wine. He acknowledged the
correctness of the principle, adding, 'I do not know how temperance
societies can take any other ground,' and then defined his views of
temperance, entered on a course of interesting arguments, and stated
facts and statistics. Of course, were all men like Mr. Calhoun
temperance societies would be superfluous. Perhaps he could not be aware
of the temptations that assail many men--he was so purely intellectual,
so free from self-indulgence. Materiality with him was held subject to
his higher nature. He did not even indulge himself in a cigar. Few spent
as little time, and exhausted as little energy in mere amusements.
Domestic and social enjoyments were his pleasures--kind and benevolent
acts were his recreations.

"He always seemed willing to converse on any subject which was
interesting to those about him. Returning one day from Fort Hill, I
remarked to a friend, 'I have never been more convinced of Mr. Calhoun's
genius than to-day, while he talked to us of a flower.' His versatile
conversation evinced his universal knowledge, his quick perception, and
his faculty of adaptation. A shower one day compelled him to take
shelter in the shed of a blacksmith, who was charmed by his familiar
conversation, and the knowledge he exhibited of the mechanic arts. A
naval officer was once asked, after a visit to Fort Hill, how he liked
Mr. Calhoun. 'Not at all,' said he--'I never like a man who knows more
about my profession than I do myself.' A clergyman wished to converse
with him on subjects of a religious nature, and after the interview
remarked, that he was astonished to find him better informed than
himself on those very points wherein he had expected to give him
information. I had understood that Mr. Calhoun avoided an expression of
opinion with regard to different sects and creeds, or what is called
religious controversy; and once, when urged to give his views in
relation to a disputed point, he replied, 'That is a subject to which I
have never given my attention.'

"Mr. Calhoun was unostentatious, and ever averse to display. He did not
appear to talk for the sake of exhibition, but from the overflowing of
his earnest nature. Whether in the Senate or in conversation with a
single listener, his language was choice, his style fervid, his manner
impressive. Never can I forget his gentle earnestness when endeavoring
to express his views on some controverted subject, and observing that my
mind could hardly keep pace with his rapid reasoning, he would
occasionally pause and say, in his kind manner, 'Do you see?'

"He did not seek to know the opinion of others with regard to himself.
Anonymous letters he never read, and his daughters and nieces often
snatched from the flames letters of adulation as well as censure, which
he had not read. Although he respected the opinions of his fellow-men,
he did not seek office or worldly honor. A few years since, one to whom
he ever spoke freely, remarked to him that some believed he was making
efforts to obtain the presidency. At that moment he had taken off his
glasses, and was wiping them, and thus he replied: 'M----, I think when
a man is too old to see clearly through his glasses, he is too old to
think of the presidency.' And recently he said to her, 'They may impute
what motives they please to me, but I do not seek office.' So much did
he respect his country, that he might have been gratified by the free
gift of the people; so much did he love his country, that he might have
rejoiced at an opportunity to serve it; but would he have swerved one
iota from his convictions to secure a kingdom? Who, that knew him,
believes it?"

Mr. Calhoun was an author as well as a statesman, and in the
dissertations on the constitution and on government published since his
death, has bequeathed us the ripened fruits of his life-long study.
They are works of the rarest penetration and sagacity, of subtle logic,
of earnest conviction, of profound observation of men and things, and of
unquestionable genius. The particular conclusions at which the writer
arrives, as to the nature and limits of government, and as to the
amendments that ought to be made in the constitution of the United
States, will not be adopted by large classes of readers; but none of
them will arise from a perusal of his pages, without an additional
admiration of the keenness and force of his intellect, the ardor of his
patriotism, and the purity of his character.


[20] Mr. Clay.


[Illustration: Clinton fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Clinton's Residence, Maspeth, L.I.]


The Academy of Sciences at Dijon recently asked of their municipality,
that all houses in the commune which deserved to be historical, might be
marked by commemorative inscriptions. The Council, we are told, readily
acceded to the request, and among the birth-places and residences thus
designated are those of Buffon, Crebillon, Guyton De Morveau, and the
Marshal Tavennes.

We in this country, whether fortunately or unfortunately, live in too
progressive an age to allow us to ask for similar remembrances. Unless a
statesman happens to be reared in a rural district, the house of his
birth seldom survives his youth, possibly his manhood. New structures
arise, and the succeeding generation know little or nothing of what

In the instance of DEWITT CLINTON, the difficulty is increased by the
diversity of statements that are made relative to his birth-place. He
was the son of James Clinton, a gallant soldier in both of the now
classic wars of this country. Commissioned as an ensign in the war of
1756, Mr. Clinton served during most of its campaigns. The Continental
Congress, in 1775, appointed him colonel of one of the New-York
regiments; and after particularly distinguishing himself at Fort
Montgomery and Yorktown, he retired from the army of the Revolution with
the rank of major-general.

It was after the close of the French War that Mr. Clinton was married to
Mary DeWitt. She is represented as having been beautiful in her
youth--an only sister, with nine brothers. To them four sons were born,
of whom DeWitt was the second. The date of his birth is well
settled--being the year 1769;--not so the place. Many of his biographers
unite in stating that this was Little Britain, in Orange County, where
his father resided. Some assert that he was born at New Windsor, in the
same county, in a house still standing, and which can be seen from the
river; while others relate the tradition that his parents were on a
visit to the fort at Minisink, then under the command of Colonel DeWitt,
a brother of Mrs. Clinton; that a severe and long-continued snow-storm
occurred, and that the mother was there confined.

On his education it is scarcely necessary to dwell, farther than to
trace its influence on his subsequent career. His parents bestowed on
him that inestimable gift--the best education that the State could
afford--first at Kingston Academy, and subsequently at Columbia College.
The professors' chairs were filled by eminent men, who appear to have
appreciated the talents of their pupil. He was the first graduate after
the Revolution.

At the age of seventeen he commenced the study of the law with the elder
Samuel Jones, whose eminence as an advocate, and honesty as a high state
officer, still linger amongst our earliest reminiscences.

Thus prepared, as well by preliminary instruction as by earnest
self-improvement, he was about entering on the profession of the law,
with elders and contemporaries equal to any bar in the Union, when his
destiny was at once and permanently changed. He was the nephew of George
Clinton, the governor of the young State of New-York; distinguished by
his civil and military talents; admirably qualified to guide the rising
republic through its forming stages, although possibly too tenacious of
his peculiar opinions, and, unfortunately, too long opposed to the
adoption of the Constitution.

The parties that from time to time controlled the destinies of the
country were now in active collision. In the State of New-York, Jay and
Hamilton were the leaders and guides of the Federalists, and Governor
Clinton needed all the intellectual aid that could be brought to bear on
the contest. He selected his nephew as his private secretary, and the
sagacity, at least, of the choice has never been disputed. Several
papers on subjects of public and permanent interest, known to have
emanated from the pen of DeWitt Clinton, are still preserved.

We are told that he remained in this station until 1795--the close of the
long administration (continued by re-elections) of his uncle.

In 1797, he was elected a member of the Assembly from the city of
New-York, and the next year, of the Senate. The tenure of the first of
these was annual, and of the last for four years. From the above date to
the hour of his death, with short intervals, he continued to be chosen
in succession to the Senate, and as lieutenant-governor and governor. He
was for the space of two years a member of the United States Senate.
From 1803 to 1807, and from 1808 to 1815, he served as mayor of the city
of New-York. This is a brief outline of the situations he held, and it
is only necessary to fill up the sketch with notices of what he proposed
and accomplished, to complete the picture.

His "homes," with the brief exception of two winters at Washington,
were, of course, mainly in New-York and Albany.

In the former, his town residence was at the lower end of Broadway--then
the fashionable part of the city, and where wealthy bankers, and
merchants, and distinguished professional men loved to fix their
dwellings. At a short distance from the Bowling-green and the Battery,
the breezes from the ocean occasionally found their way and shed their
influences. Commerce has commanded the removal of most of these private
residences, and she has been rigidly obeyed. The merchandise of the Old
and of the New World needs still increasing depositories.

While remaining in New-York, he owned a country-seat at Maspeth, on Long
Island, to which he frequently resorted, and where he indulged in his
favorite pursuits of angling and hunting. He was greatly attached to
these, until in after life an unfortunate accident rendered active
exercise too laborious.

Of Albany, the place in which a large portion of his mature life was
spent, we feel some constraint in giving, what we consider, a just
account. By many, even intelligent travellers, it is only known as a
place of transfer from steamboats and railroads--as excessively hot in
summer, and as the capital of the State, where the Legislature holds its
sessions during the winter.

But its antiquities--if antiquities are to be spoken of in this
country--are of some interest. Here an American Congress once assembled,
of which Franklin was a member. Whenever England and France contended
for mastery on this continent, many of the officers and troops of the
former halted here for a while, or passed on for the finally
accomplished object of the conquest of Canada. Here for a time were Howe
and Abercrombie, Amherst and Sir William Johnson; while, to the French,
it seems to have been the limit, which, though they burnt Schenectady
and ravaged the western part of the State, they seemed scarcely able to

Passing over intermediate occurrences, during the war of 1812 there was
here concentrated a large portion of the military force of the United
States, which went forth in all the pomp and circumstance of war to its
mingled career of defeat and success.

Two dwellings still remain in Albany dear to Revolutionary memory--the
residences of General Philip Schuyler and General Abraham Ten Broeck.
The latter was distinguished as a brave and capable militia officer. The
services and talents of the former are not as yet sufficiently
appreciated. The wise man--the trusted of Washington--the able
statesman--who early pointed out the way to internal improvement in the
State of New-York, only needs an impartial and well-instructed
biographer to be duly known.

It is a matter of satisfaction that both of these residences--crowning
heights north and south of the city--are in excellent preservation,
owned by wealthy persons, and destined, we may hope, to a long

Governor Clinton occupied during his residence in Albany (part of the
time he was out of office) two different houses, which possess an
interest only inferior to those we have just mentioned. One of them,
formerly almost a country residence,--built by Peter W. Yates, an
eminent counsellor at law, and now owned by another of the same
name,--was, for a series of years, the dwelling-place of governors of
the State of New-York. Here Tompkins dispensed his hospitality, while he
wielded, in a manner but partially understood, the destinies of the
nation during the war of 1812; and from this beautiful seat he departed,
in an evil hour to himself, to be Vice-President of the United States.
Clinton succeeded. In this house he met with a severe accident,--a
fracture of the knee-pan from a fall; after a slow recovery he was
enabled to use the limb with but slight indication of the injury. Still
it prevented him from taking exercise on horseback, to which he had been
much accustomed, and it probably led to an increased fulness of habit,
in the later years of his life.

Subsequently to this he occupied a house (it was that in which he died)
in Pearl-street, built by Goldsboro Banyer, one of the last deputy
Secretaries of State of the Colony of New-York. It was bequeathed to his
son's widow, a daughter of Governor Jay, and on her removal to New-York,
was taken as a governor's residence.

It would scarcely be proper to conclude these sketches, without briefly
enumerating the services of DeWitt Clinton to his State and country.
Most of these were thought of, developed and produced ready for
adoption, within the sacred precincts of his "home."

As mayor of New-York, he was at that time head of the judicial
department of the city. Subsequently that officer has been relieved of
these duties, and several local courts have been found necessary, to
dispose of the cases which the tangled relations of commerce are
constantly bringing forth. Some records of his ability both as a civil
and a criminal judge still remain. A Catholic priest had been called
upon to disclose what had been communicated to him at the confessional.
In his opinion, Mr. Clinton sustained the sacred nature of the secret
thus imparted, and subsequent legislation, doubtless founded on this
case, extended the exemption not only to the clergyman, but also to the
physician. He also aided with great energy in putting down and punishing
riots, caused by excited political feelings. Nor should we omit to say,
that before him was tried the peculiar case of Whistelo, in which the
wit of Counsellor Sampson, and the peculiarities of Dr. Samuel Latham
Mitchill were equally conspicuous.

As a member of the Senate of New-York, he became _ex officio_ also a
member of the highest court in the State--the court for the trial of
impeachments, and the correction of errors in the inferior courts.
Several of his decisions are to be found in the volumes of New-York
State Reports. He grappled with the subjects of insurance law, of libel,
the power of committing for contempt, the construction of the Habeas
Corpus Act, and the effect of foreign admiralty decisions. "Some of
these," says Chancellor Kent, "are models of judicial and parliamentary
eloquence, and they all relate to important questions, affecting
constitutional rights and personal liberty. They partake more of the
character of a statesman's discussions, than that of a dry technical
lawyer, and are therefore more interesting to the general scholar."

As a legislator, it is quite sufficient to refer to the long list of
laws drawn up and supported by him, as it is given in the eighth chapter
of Professor Renwick's life, to appreciate the high class of subjects to
which he applied his best efforts. We select only a portion. An act
respecting a digest of the public laws of the State. An act to enlarge
the powers of and to endow the Orphan Asylum society,--to amend the
insolvent laws, to prevent the inhuman treatment of slaves, for the
support of the quarantine establishment, to revise and amend the militia
law, to incorporate the society for the relief of poor widows with small
children, for promoting medical science, for the further encouragement
of free schools, for securing to mechanics and others, payment for their
labor and materials in the city of New-York. It has been urged that
others by their efforts, or their votes, have been as useful as was Mr.
Clinton, in procuring the passage of these and similar laws. Be it so.
It is not even attempted to deny this. It would be treason to the great
interests of humanity to claim exclusive honor for a single man. But he
knows little of practical legislation, who is not perfectly aware how
efficient and important it is to have one individual, eminent in
talents, high in power, who is willing to initiate useful
measures--propose their adoption, and support them with his best

In the matter of the Canals of New-York, this is his high honor; this
his crowning glory. Even during life, he gave due credit to all who
suggested or supported the work; but his pre-eminent merit is, that he
adopted the canal policy as his own party policy. It has been said, in
words which cannot be bettered, that "in the great work of internal
improvement, he persevered through good report and through evil report,
with a steadiness of purpose that no obstacle could divert; and when all
the elements were in commotion around him, and even his chosen
associates were appalled, he alone, like Columbus, on the wide waste of
waters, in his frail bark with a dis-heartened and unbelieving crew,
remained firm, self-poised and unshaken."

Heaven in its goodness allowed life till the great work was completed.

Of Governor Clinton's devotion to science and to literature, of his
patronage and support of societies and institutions, for their
diffusion, all are knowing; but it is not sufficiently understood, that
these were amateur pursuits, followed during hours that he could
scarcely spare from his legitimate duties. Whatever of imperfection or
of crudeness may therefore be found in them, should be charitably

His domestic habits were simple and unobtrusive. He was industrious
through life--the earliest riser in the house--frequently, if not
generally, making his office fire in the winter, and dispatching most of
his voluminous correspondence before the breakfast hour.

In his family, he was every thing that became a man--a kind and faithful
husband; an affectionate, indeed indulgent father; a warm, devoted, and
often self-sacrificing friend. What wonder is it, that his memory should
continue to be cherished with sincere love and ever increasing esteem.

[Illustration: H.K. Brown's Statue of Clinton]


[Illustration: Story fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Story's House at Cambridge, Mass.]


It is a common saying among lawyers, that in proportion to the labor
which their profession exacts, and the degree of distinction which
success confers upon them during their lifetime, their fate is a hard
one in the struggle for immortality. They are accustomed to say in a
tone of half complaint, that the zeal and ability which would earn for
them a cheap celebrity in some other pursuit, is expended upon the
establishing of some nice distinction, or the solving of some intricate
problem which no one but themselves can appreciate, and in which no one
but themselves (and their clients) take any interest. There is some
truth in all this. The whole community stands ready to read the last
production of the literary man, so only that he make it worth reading,
and often without requiring even so much; whereas, the neatest point
that a lawyer could take is constitutionally repulsive to one-half of
creation, and dry and unmeaning to the greater part of the remainder.
Even those whose names are on the lips of men, owe their good fortune
often to something other than their law. If Blackstone were not among
the most classical writers of the English language, we should not have
lived to see twenty-one English editions of his Commentaries. He was
probably a less profound lawyer than several sergeants who practised
before him in the Court of Common Pleas, whose names would escape an
insertion in the most Universal Biographical Dictionary. So the
successful lawyer must content himself with his worldly prosperity,--if
in his lifetime he receives his good things, that must be his comfort,
and in truth it is no small one.

But the nature of a lawyer's employment, even if he combine with it the
kindred one of politics and legislation, is not apt to invest his home
with that attraction to the stranger which the home of the literary man
possesses. We are at once interested to know who the author is, who has
charmed us by the quaintness of his conceits, or the freshness and
purity of his style. We want to see the house and the room, where those
intricate plots are matured, or those life-like characters are first
conceived. But Coke upon Littleton, seems pretty much the same, whether
read upon the green slope of a country hill, or in the third story of an
office down town. Besides, the author is at liberty to seek the most
secluded spots, and dwell amongst the most romantic scenery, and
surround himself with all that makes life beautiful to contemplate; and
it is for his interest to do this, in order that his mind may be kept
open to impressions, his spirits elevated and serene, and his whole life
calm and happy. The lawyer on the other hand, must seek communion, not
with nature, but with men; he must dwell among large communities, and
rail even there where merchants most do congregate.

The home of the distinguished lawyer and statesman whose name is placed
at the head of these lines, is an exception from the homes of others of
his peers; if it be true that it is the fate of a lawyer's home to be an
object of interest to its inmates alone. There was something in his
frank, enthusiastic and generous nature, which made him always
susceptible to the influences of home, and always fitted to awake and to
wield those enchantments with which a home is invested. The secluded
peninsula of Marblehead, with its long firm beach upon one side, and its
rocky precipitous shore upon the other, begirt on three sides by the
ever-changing Atlantic, is considered by his biographer to have had its
effect in moulding the character of the boy; and in the quiet, tame
inland beauty of Cambridge, with its academical proprieties, and its
level streets, and its spacious marshes, through which the winding
Charles "slips seaward silently;" many remain outside of the family
circle, to testify to the magical attraction which once hung about the
narrow brick house where he lived, and the cordial greeting which the
visitor received at the hands of its former occupant.

Judge Story was born in the antiquated, primeval fishing town of
Marblehead; a town presenting such a rocky and barren surface, that when
Whitfield entered it for the first time, he was fain to inquire, "Pray,
where do they bury their dead?" Story himself speaks of his birth-place
as "a secluded fishing town, having no general connection with other
towns, and, not being a thoroughfare, without that intercourse which
brings strangers to visit it, or to form an acquaintance with its
inhabitants." In fact it could not well be a thoroughfare, since it
leads only from Salem to the sea, and the inhabitants of the latter town
have a sufficiently ready access of their own. But though Marblehead
with its scanty soil, and its isolated position, is neither an Eden nor
a thoroughfare, it is at least a stout old place where men are grown;
where an entire regiment was furnished for the cause of American
Independence, completely officered and manned by brave men, to whom the
dangers of war were but a continuation of previous lives of peril, and
who supplied besides more privateers than history has recorded, to
harass the enemy upon an element with which they were more familiar.

The town of Marblehead is supported by the fishery business. A large
portion of its inhabitants are simple fishermen, whose manhood is passed
in voyages to the Great Banks, and voyages back; a constant succession
of those perils which are incident to the sea, with long winter evenings
of sailors' yarns and ghost stories, in one monotonous round, till they
finally depart

    "On that drear voyage from whose night
    The ominous shadows never lift."

It was among a population of this kind, and at a time when a long and
disastrous war had crippled their resources, that the youthful Story
began with his accustomed enthusiasm to acquire that education whose
root is bitter when grown in the most favorable soil. Without advantages
of good schooling, or a plentiful supply of books, he did what thousands
of others, great and small, have done and are doing; that is, he
acquired an education without the modern improvements on which our boys
rely, and whose value their parents and teachers are so apt to
over-estimate. In the shop of the Marblehead barber, the village great
men assembled to hear the news, and to hold forth upon the condition and
prospects of the young republic, as well as to have their ambrosial
locks powdered and their beards removed. Here, in place of the modern
lecture room, our young hero resorted, and listened reverently to
oracular utterances from wise mouths in the intervals of the shaving
brush and the razor. The village barber himself, endowed with an easy
garrulity, more natural and professional than the stately reserve of his
metropolitan brother, could, at his leisure, retail the wisdom of his
many councillors, diluted to the point where it admitted of the mental
digestion of a child.

This, together with the usual toils and discouragements of the classics,
and the hopes and fears which a college examination inspires, made up a
boy's life in Marblehead before this century began. The old Judge, late
in life recalling these early Marblehead times, speaks of other
influences, some of whose effect is, we imagine, derived from the fact
that he is viewing them in his maturity, as they then appear, softened
as seen down the long vista of nearly forty years. "My delight," he
says, "was to roam over the narrow and rude territory of my native town;
to traverse its secluded beaches and its shallow inlets; to gaze upon
the sleepless ocean; to lay myself down on the sunny rocks, and listen
to the deep tones of the rising and the falling tides; to look abroad
when the foaming waves were driven with terrific force and uproar
against the barren cliffs or the rocky promontories, which every where
opposed their immovable fronts to resist them; to seek, in the midst of
the tremendous majesty of an eastern storm, some elevated spot, where,
in security, I could mark the mountain billow break upon the distant
shore, or dash its broken waters over the lofty rocks which here and
there stood along the coast, naked and weather-beaten. But still more
was I pleased in a calm, summer day, to lay myself down alone on one of
the beautiful heights which overlook the harbor of Salem, and to listen
to the broken sounds of the hammers in the distant ship-yards, or to the
soft dash of the oar of some swift-moving boat, or to the soft ripple of
the murmuring wave; or to gaze on the swelling sail, or the flying bird,
or the scarcely moving smoke, in a revery of delicious indolence."

When Story left Marblehead and entered Harvard College in 1795, he was
brought in contact with somewhat different circumstances and different
temptations from those which there await the youthful student in these
days. Coming from a small and tolerably illiterate fishing town, into
the midst of such literary shades, being in daily converse with young
men at an age when the mind is lively, and full of the easy
self-confidence which the mutual flattery of a College begets, his
enthusiasm was quickened anew, and his generous nature attacked on its
weakest side. "I seemed," he says, "to breathe a higher atmosphere, and
to look abroad with a wider vision and more comprehensive powers.
Instead of the narrow group of a village, I was suddenly brought into a
large circle of young men engaged in literary pursuits, and warmed and
cheered by the hopes of future eminence." There is, perhaps, no
impropriety in saying, that at fifteen, we look abroad with a wider
vision and more comprehensive powers than we do at twelve, and such
young men as Channing, his friendly rival in College, and Tuckerman, his
chum, might well be warmed and cheered by the hopes of future eminence.
The students in those days enjoyed as much seclusion as now, with
perhaps a little less general culture and a little more dissipation.
But, as we have intimated, in some respects the changes were greater.
The anti-republican system of "fagging" had not then become quite
obsolete and forgotten, but existed at least in oral tradition, whereas
now, its less rigorous substitute has recently fallen into disuse. In
those days there was not even an unsuccessful attempt, to render the
intercourse between the Professors and the students in any sense
parental, but the formal and unconfiding manners of the old school were
preached, as well as practised. The line of division between the College
and the town was sharply drawn and unhesitatingly maintained on the part
of the former, and the opportunities for social intercourse with Boston
were comparatively limited, when omnibuses were unknown, and the bridge
regarded as a somewhat hazardous speculation. Now the students are to be
seen in Washington street on Saturdays, and there is scarce an evening's
entertainment in Boston, without young representatives from Cambridge.
And the old town itself has added so many new houses to its former
number, that a great change is coming over the face of Cambridge
society. The term "the season" is beginning to have its proper
significance, the winter months being pretty well filled with the
customary social observances. It is true that the College is still the
controlling element. Festivities are mostly suspended during the first
two months of the year, which is the time of the winter vacation, and
revive again with the return of the spring and the students. But from
faint symptoms which may be detected by the anxious observer, there is
reason to fear that it may not be long before the great body of the
students will have cause on their part, to complain of that
exclusiveness which they have exercised as their prerogative for more
than two centuries.

The four short years of Story's undergraduate existence were passed
free, alike from this species of social pleasure and social anxiety. He
was naturally fond of company, and had a healthy, youthful taste for
conviviality; but he shrank instinctively from excesses, and was,
fortunately, also ambitious to win a high rank for scholarship. His
companions were of his own age, and those divinities who people the
inner chambers of a young man's fancy at the age of nineteen, were not
upon the spot to distract overmuch his attention from his studies. He
left his home within the College walls before he had arrived at manhood,
and returned again some thirty years after in the maturity of his
powers, to repay to his foster mother the debt which he owed for his
education, by imparting to her younger children the results of his
experience. Cambridge is to be considered as his home; it was there that
he won his greatest fame, it was there that he fondly turned to refresh
himself after his labors on the full bench and the circuit; this was the
home of his affections and his interests, and there his earnest and
active life was brought to its calm and peaceful close.

In Brattle-street, a little distance on the road from the Colleges to
Mount Auburn, there stands a narrow brick house, with its gable end to
the street, facing the east, and a long piazza on its southern side. It
is situated just at the head of Appian Way--not the Queen of Ways,
leading from Rome to Brundusium, over which Horace journeyed in company
with Virgil, and Paul's brethren came to meet him as far as Appii Forum
and The Three Taverns, but a short lane, boasting not many more yards
than its namesake miles; leading from Cambridge Common to
Brattle-street, journeyed over by hurrying students with Horace and
Virgil under their arms, without a single tavern in it, and hardly long
enough to accommodate three. The external appearance of the house would
hardly attract or reward the attention of the passer by. It stands by
itself, looking as much too high for its width as an ordinary city
residence in New-York, that has sprung up in advance of the rest of its
block. The street in which it stands is flat and shady, but wonderfully
dusty nevertheless, for Cambridge is a town

    "Where dust and mud the equal year divide."

The old inhabitants may be supposed to be reconciled to that dust, of
which they are made, and to which they naturally expect in a few years
to return. Thus Lowell finds it in his heart to sing the praises of
Cambridge soil,

    "Dear native town! whose choking elms each year
      With eddying dust before their time turn gray,
    Pining for rain,--to me thy dust is dear;
      It glorifies the eve of Summer day."

But, however native Cantabs may feel, the temporary resident hails the
friendly watering-cart, which appears at intervals in the streets, since
the old town has changed itself into a city.

A flower-garden on the south side, separates Judge Story's house from
the village blacksmith, who has had the rare happiness of being
celebrated in the verses of his two fellow-townsmen, the poets
Longfellow and Lowell;

    "Under a spreading chestnut tree,
      The village smithy stands;
    The smith, a mighty man is he,
      With large and sinewy hands,
    And the muscles of his brawny arm
      Are strong as iron bands.

    "His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
      His face is like the tan,
    His brow is wet with honest sweat,
      He earns whatever he can,
    And looks the whole world in the face
      For he owes not any man.

    "Week in, week out, from morn to night,
      You can hear his bellows blow;
    You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
      With measured beat and slow,
    Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
      When the evening sun is low.

    "And children coming home from school
      Look in at the open door;
    They love to see the flaming forge,
      And hear the bellows roar,
    And catch the burning sparks that fly
      Like chaff from a threshing floor."

Among the children who thus looked in upon the old smith in former days,
was Lowell himself, who has embodied this juvenile reminiscence in a few
lines, which may be appropriately inserted here, and the curious reader
may contrast the image they contain, with the parallel one in the
concluding lines from Longfellow, quoted above.

      "How many times prouder than King on throne,
    Loosed from the village school-dame's A's and B's,
      Panting have I the creaky bellows blown,
    And watched the pent volcano's red increase,
      Then paused to see the ponderous sledge brought down
      By that hard arm voluminous and brown,
    From the white iron swarm its golden vanishing bees."

The village blacksmith is dead now; the fires which he lighted in the
forge have gone out, and an unknown successor wields the sledge, which
may still be heard as ever, from the piazza of his neighbor's house, and
down the road on the other side, as far as the row of lindens which
overshadow a mansion once inhabited by the worthy old Tory, Brattle, who
has given his name to the street.

The external appearance of Judge Story's house does not add much to the
poetry of its surroundings. It runs back in an irregular way, a long
distance from the street, and at its furthermost end, in the second
story, is, or used to be, the library, commanding the same view which
constituted such a recommendation to Dick Swiveller's house, namely, the
opposite side of the way. There is not, therefore, an opportunity for
much romance to cluster about it, nor is its attractiveness increased,
when the reader is reminded that the story beneath answered the purposes
of a woodshed. But the house which witnessed the daily labors of such a
man, need not covet or pretend to those outside attractions which it
unquestionably lacks.

Judge Story removed to Cambridge, for the purpose of taking charge of
the Law-school connected with the University. This institution had just
received an endowment from Nathan Dane, which, together with the labors
and reputation of the new Professor, were the prime causes of its
establishment upon such a durable foundation, that the number of its
students was increased five fold. From this period, his time was divided
among Washington, during the sitting of the Supreme Court, the first
circuit in the New-England States, and Cambridge, which henceforward was
his home. The Law-school he regarded as his favorite and most important
field of labor, and always recurred to his connection with it, with
pleasure and pride; and a word concerning this Institution may, with
propriety, be coupled with a description of his personal habits, so that
both together will furnish, better than any thing else, a correct
picture of the daily life of the man.

At the time that Story accepted the Dane Professorship in the Law-school
in Cambridge he had already achieved the labor of a lifetime. A
lucrative business at the bar, was quitted for a seat upon the bench of
the Supreme Court of the United States. He began his political life as a
democrat and stanch supporter of Jefferson, when there were not many
such in Massachusetts; but in later life he became a whig. The natural
effect of a judicial station upon a mind like his, was to make him
cautious and conservative; and he finally seemed a little distrustful of
even the party with which he was associated. In the convention of 1820,
which formed the existing constitution of Massachusetts, he took an
active part with such men as Webster, Parker, Quincy and Prescott, and
many of our important mercantile statutes and bankrupt laws were drawn
by him, nearly, or quite in the form in which they were finally passed
by Congress. He had been for about eighteen years an associate Justice
of the Supreme Court, when, without resigning that position, he assumed
the almost equally onerous duties of a Professor of Law. This new field
of activity was entered upon with earnestness and zeal, and it is not
necessary to state the success with which his efforts were attended.
Towards the students his manner was familiar and affectionate. He was
fond of designating them as "my boys," and without assuming any
superiority, or exacting any formal respect, he participated so far as
he was able in their success and failure; and extended beyond the narrow
period of the school, far into active life, that interest in their
behalf which he had contracted as their teacher. His lectures upon what
are commonly considered the dry topics of the law, were delivered with
enthusiasm, and illustrated with copious anecdotes from the store-house
of his memory and his experience, and filled with episodes which were
suggested to his active mind at almost every step. Indeed, if one were
disposed to point out his prominent fault as a legal writer, he would
probably select that diffuseness of style and copiousness of
illustration, which, though it contributes somewhat to fulness and
perspicuity, does it nevertheless at the cost of convenient brevity;
which can more easily be dispensed with in a poem than in a law-book.
But that characteristic which might perhaps be considered as a blemish
in his legal treatises, only rendered him better, qualified for a
successful oral lecturer. A printed volume admits of the last degree of
condensation, because repeated perusals of one page will effect every
thing which could be expected from a prolonged discussion over many; and
to text-books of law, the student or the practitioner resort principally
for a statement of results, with the addition of only so much general
reasoning as may render the results intelligible. In an oral lecture on
the other hand, as the attention cannot be arrested; or time taken to
overcome difficulties, repetition and reiteration, so far from being a
blemish, is a merit. To these qualifications Story added engaging
manners, and a personal presence, which gave him extraordinary influence
over the young men who crowded to receive the benefit of his
instructions. His zeal was contagious, and awakened similar feelings in
his hearers, and the enthusiasm of the speaker and the audience acted
and reacted upon each other. Many anecdotes are related to show the
interest in the study of the law, which, under his magical influence,
was awakened, not only among the few who are naturally studious, but
among the whole body of the students almost without exception.

Saturday is a day of rest in Cambridge by immemorial usage. To force
upon the undergraduates a recitation on Saturday afternoon, would
outrage their feelings to such an extent, as to justify in their opinion
a resort to the last appeal, namely, a rebellion. Yet under Story's
ministrations the law-students were eager to violate the sacredness of
Saturday, to which the Judge assented, animated by a zeal superior to
their own. So that the whole week was devoted to lectures, and the
conducting in moot courts of prepared cases. "I have given," says the
Judge in a letter to a friend, "nearly the whole of last term, when not
on judicial duty, two lectures every day, and even broke in upon the
sanctity of the _dies non juridicus_, Saturday. It was carried by
acclamation in the school; so that you see we are alive." One of the
pupils describes a similar incident; a case was to be adjourned, and
Saturday seemed the most convenient time, "the counsel were anxious to
argue it; but unwilling to resort to that extreme measure. Judge Story
said--Gentlemen, the only time we can hear this case, is Saturday
afternoon. This is _dies non_, and no one is obliged or expected to
attend. I am to hold Court in Boston until two o'clock. I will ride
directly out, take a hasty dinner, and be here by half-past three
o'clock, and hear the case, if you are willing. He looked round the
school for a reply. We felt ashamed, in our own business in which we
were alone interested, to be outdone in zeal and labor by this aged and
distinguished man, to whom the case was but child's play, a tale twice
told and who was himself pressed down by almost incredible labors. The
proposal was unanimously accepted." The same interesting communication
describes the scene which took place when the Judge returned to
Cambridge in the winter from Washington. "The school was the first place
he visited after his own fireside. His return, always looked for, and
known, filled the library. His reception was that of a returned father.
He shook all by the hand, even the most obscure and indifferent; and an
hour or two was spent in the most exciting, instructive, and
entertaining descriptions and anecdotes of the events of the term.
Inquiries were put by the students from different States, as to leading
counsel, or interesting causes from their section of the country; and he
told us as one would have described to a company of squires and pages, a
tournament of monarchs and nobles on fields of cloth of gold:--how
Webster spoke in this case, Legaré or Clay, or Crittenden, General
Jones, Choate or Spencer, in that; with anecdotes of the cases and
points, and all the currents of the heady fight."

Judge Story's gracious and dignified demeanor upon the bench is too well
known, and not closely enough connected with an account of his home
life, to justify a description here. All who have spoken upon the
subject, have borne witness to the kindness and courtesy with which he
treated the bar, particularly the younger members, who most need, and
best appreciate such consideration. No lawyer was provoked by captious
remarks, or mortified by inattention or indifference, or that offensive
assumption of superiority which places the counsel at such disadvantage
with the judge, and lowers his credit with his clients and the
spectators. With novices at the bar his manner was patient and
encouraging, with the leaders whose position was nearly level with his
own, attentive, cordial, at times even familiar, but always dignified.
Among the prominent lawyers upon the Maine circuit, was his classmate in
college, and intimate friend, Hon. Stephen Longfellow, the father of the
poet, of whom the following story is told. When any objection or
qualification was started by the Court, to a point which he was pressing
upon its attention, too courteous to question or oppose the opinion of
the Judge, he would escape under this formula, "But there is this
_distinction_, may it please your honor;" which distinction, when it
came to be stated, was often so exceedingly thin, that its existence
could be discerned only by the learned gentleman himself. This little
mannerism was known and observed among his friends in the profession,
one of whom now living composed and passed round the bar this epitaph:
"Here lies Stephen Longfellow, LL. D. Born &c. Died &c. With this
_Distinction_. That such a man can never die." This epitaph reached the
bench; and Mr. Longfellow himself, who not long afterwards on an
argument, was met by a question from the Judge. "But, may it please your
honor, there is this dis----" "Out with it, brother Longfellow," said
Judge Story with a good-humored smile. But it would not come. The
epitaph records the death of the distinction.

The interest which Judge Story felt in the prosperity of his University,
was not wholly confined to the Law-school, with which he was immediately
connected. He was one of the overseers of the College, and entered
warmly and prominently into every question affecting the welfare of the
Institution; from an elaborate and recondite argument upon the meaning
of the word "Fellows," in the charter of the college,--the doubt being,
whether none but resident instructors were eligible as Fellows, or
whether the word is merely synonymous with _socius_ or associate,--down
to a reform in the social observances of the students upon the occasion
of what is called Class Day. The old custom had been for the students on
the last day of their meeting, before Commencement, to partake together
of an undefined quantity of punch from a large reservoir of that
beverage previously prepared. In more modern times, this habit came to
be justly considered as subversive of sobriety and good order, and it
was proposed to recast entirely the order of exercises. Of this reform
Judge Story was an advocate; he was present at the first celebration
under the new order of things, and was much gratified and elated at the
change. Class Day is now the culminating point of the student's
life--the exercises are an oration and poem in the morning, and a ball
and reception in the afternoon and evening. More ladies visit the
College on that day, than on any other, and the students have in lieu of
their punch the less intoxicating recreation of a polka.

Judge Story was about five feet eight inches tall, not above the middle
height, with a compact and solid figure; and active and rapid in his
movements. He seldom, if ever, loitered along; his customary gait was
hasty and hurried, and he had a habit of casting quick eager glances
about him as he moved. The expression of his face was animated and
changing, his eyes were blue, his mouth large, his voice clear and
flexible, and his laugh hearty and exhilarating. Late in life he was
bald upon the top of his head, and his white hair below, and the benign
expression of his countenance, gave him a dignified and venerable
appearance, particularly when seated upon the bench. His personal habits
were regular and systematic in the extreme. He never rose before seven,
and was always in bed by half-past ten. His constitution required eight
good hours of sleep, and he did not hesitate to gratify it in that
particular. It was never intended that all men should rise at the same
hour, and it is no great exercise of virtue on the part of those who do
not enjoy sleep, to get up early. After breakfasting he read a newspaper
for a half hour, and then worked faithfully, till called off to attend
the lecture room or the court. After dinner he resumed his labors so
long as daylight lasted, and the evening was devoted until bedtime to
light reading, or social recreation in the midst of his family. He could
pass easily from one species of employment to another without loss of
time, and by working steadily when he did work, he was enabled to go
through a very great amount of labor without any excessive fatigue or
exhaustion. In this way his life was prolonged, and he retained to the
last, undisturbed possession of all his faculties. He died in September
1845, at the age of sixty-six, having been for thirty-four years a Judge
of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for sixteen years a
Professor of law in the school at Cambridge.


[Illustration: Wheaton fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Wheaton's Residence Near Copenhagen]


Among the persons whom religious persecution compelled to leave England
during the reign of Charles I., and seek an asylum in the new world, was
Robert Wheaton, a Baptist clergyman. He first established himself in
Salem, but when the intolerance of that community led those of his
persuasion to remove elsewhere, he joined Roger Williams, and assisted
him in founding the now flourishing State of Rhode Island.

From him Henry Wheaton was descended. He was born in Providence, 1786,
and entered Rhode Island College at the age of thirteen. He was already
remarkable for his love of reading, particularly in the branches of
history and literature, and appears to have studied more from the
pleasure he had in the acquisition of knowledge, than from any love of
distinction. He graduated at the age of seventeen, and immediately after
entered upon the study of the law, in compliance with his father's
wishes rather than from personal inclination; for at that period he is
said not to have entertained any particular leaning towards the legal
profession. In 1806 he went abroad to complete his education. He passed
some time at Poitiers, where he learned to speak and write French
fluently, and had an opportunity of studying French law, and especially
the Code Napoleon, which had then but recently been promulgated. He also
attended the courts of justice, and heard some of the most distinguished
lawyers of the time, of whose eloquence he often spoke in his letters to
his family. He always recurred with pleasure in later years to the time
he passed at Poitiers. The kindness he experienced from the family in
which he lived, the graceful politeness and cheerfulness of the French
character, gave him ever after a predilection in favor of France. After
spending a few weeks in Paris, he went to England, where he applied
himself to the study of English law. He was often at the house of Mr.
Monroe, then our Minister in London, who seems to have taken some pains
to converse with him on the political and social state of Europe.
Perhaps these conversations contributed to form his taste for diplomatic
life, in which he was destined to play so distinguished a part, and also
to lead him in its course to show that willingness to impart information
of a similar kind, to the young men by whom he was himself surrounded,
which was so pleasing a trait in his character.

Soon after his return from Europe he was admitted to the bar in his
native State, where he continued to practise till 1813. At that period,
feeling the want of a wider field in which to exercise his talents, he
determined, having previously married his cousin, the daughter of Dr.
Wheaton of Providence, to remove to New-York with his wife. We must not
omit to mention, that before leaving Providence he pronounced a Fourth
of July Oration, in which he spoke with generous indignation of the
bloody wars which then distracted Europe, and the disastrous
consequences of which his residence in France had given him an
opportunity to observe. But although thus warmly opposed to wars of
conquest, there were cases in which he deemed resistance a sacred duty;
he therefore zealously devoted his pen to encouraging his
fellow-countrymen in resisting the unjust encroachments of England.
During two years he edited the National Advocate, and the spirit as well
as the fairness with which its leading articles were written, insured
the success of the paper, and established his reputation in New-York. At
the same time he held the office of Justice of the Marine Court, and for
a few months that also of Army Judge Advocate. In 1815 he returned to
the practice of his profession, and published in the same year a
Treatise on the Law of Maritime Captures and Prizes, which Mr. Reddie of
Edinburgh has since pronounced to have been the best work then published
on the subject; no small praise, if we consider that Mr. Wheaton was
only thirty years of age at the time it was written. In 1816 he was
named Reporter of the Supreme Court at Washington, and continued to hold
this place until 1827. The Reports, of which he published a volume
yearly, and which were highly esteemed by American lawyers, were
abridged without his consent soon after he went abroad. The publication
of this abridgment occasioned a lawsuit, which ended only with his life.
The following letter, for which we are indebted to the kindness of
Professor Parsons, of the Law-school in Cambridge, will, we think, be
read with interest. We must only remark, that it is an error to suppose
that Mr. Wheaton shunned general society after he went to Europe; he
joined in it, on the contrary, more than is usual to men of his age in
our country.

                Cambridge, May 22, 1853.

"I am very glad to offer even a slight contribution to this memorial, of
one so worthy of all respect as the late Mr. Wheaton. And you must
permit me to express the hope that the sketch you now propose to make,
will hereafter be expanded into that history of his life and exhibition
of his character, which should be given to the world, in justice to him
and to the very many to whom it would be most acceptable. I can speak of
him from personal acquaintance, only after a long interval, when even
recollections so pleasant as those of my intercourse with him have
become somewhat dim.

"It was at the very close of the year 1821, that I went to Washington,
to pass some months there. The commissioners to distribute the money due
to American citizens under the then recent treaty with Spain, began
their sessions that winter. Mr. Webster was employed by most of the
large claimants in New England, and I went with him to assist him
generally, and also charged by some of those claimants with the especial
care of their interests. In New-York I became acquainted with Mr.
Wheaton; and he was with us during a part of the journey to Washington.
As fellow-travellers, we became intimate, and during the whole of my
stay in Washington,--nearly three months,--this intimacy was kept up.
From many parts of the country, eminent lawyers were at Washington, in
attendance upon the Supreme Court, or charged with the care of cases
before the commissioners under the Spanish treaty, and I was meeting
them continually in society; and I had the good fortune also to, become
acquainted with many of the most distinguished members of government and
of Congress, and visited freely in the whole range--then less broad than
now--of society in Washington.

"Wherever I went I met Mr. Wheaton. Every where he was upon the footing,
not of a received, but of a welcomed guest; and he seemed to be most
intimate in the best houses. It was easy to see the cause of this. His
important position as Reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court of
the United States--which office he had then held for six years--brought
him into immediate contact not only with the judges of the court, but
with all who practised in it; and it might be supposed that with them he
would be on terms of intimacy and friendship. But there was something in
the character of that friendship, that no mere position explained; and
he inspired an equally warm regard in many who never met him in his
official duties. Among all his friends, if I were to name any persons, I
think it would be Mr. Webster himself, who treated him as he might a
brother; Sir Stratford Canning, Minister from England, and M. de
Neuville, the French Minister, who appeared to give tone and character
to Washington society so far as any persons can influence elements so
diversified and refractory, and in whose houses he stood on the footing
of a confidential friend; Mr Lowndes of South Carolina, a most wise and
excellent man; and lastly and most of all, Chief Justice Marshall. Let
me pause a moment to say one word of this great and good man, to whose
greatness and whose goodness, equally, this country is, and while its
prosperity endures, will be indebted; for his greatness rested upon his
goodness as its foundation. Even his wide and accurate learning, his
clear and close reasoning, his profound insight into the true merits and
exact character and bearing of every question, and the unerring sagacity
which enabled him to see the future in the present; all these together,
and whatever more there might have been of merely intellectual power,
would not have enabled him to lay the foundations of our national and
constitutional jurisprudence with the depth, breadth, and firmness,
which all attacks upon them have, as yet, only made more apparent, if it
had not been for his moral character. Here lay the inmost secret of his
power. Men felt, and the nation felt, his incorruptibility; meaning by
this, not merely the absence of that baser and more obvious selfishness,
which most men of decent self-respect overcome or suppress; but his
perfect and manifest freedom from all motives and all influences
whatever, which could tend to cloud or warp his understanding, or
qualify the utterance of his wisdom. He did not stand before us a man of
living ice, perfectly safe because perfectly cold; for he was
affectionate and gentle as a child; excitable even to enthusiasm, when
that kind heart was touched; listening, not only with an equal strength
to the strongest, but with a perfect sympathy to the eloquent, and with
a charming courtesy to all. There he stood, and no one ever saw him and
heard him, and did not know that his one wish was to do his great duty;
and that his admirable intellect came to its daily tasks, and did them,
wholly free from all possible distortion or disturbance, not because he
was strong enough to repel all the influences of party, or passion, or
prejudice, or interest, or personal favor, but because none of these
things could come near enough to him to be repelled. By the happy
constitution of his nature, there was no flaw in him to give entrance to
any thing which, could draw him one hair's breadth aside from the
straight course of truth and justice, and of the law, which in his mind
was but their embodiment and voice. Of this good and great man there is
as yet no adequate memorial; and it would require a strong hand, and if
not an equal, at least a sympathizing mind and heart, to construct one
which shall indeed be adequate. But I indulge the hope that it will be
given to us before the generation which knew him shall pass wholly away.
And you, I am sure, will pardon me for using this opportunity to render
to his cherished memory this slight and evanescent tribute. I do but
indulge myself in saying a part of what I have frequent occasion to say
to the many students to whom it is my official duty to teach the law of
their country as well as I can, and therefore to speak often of

"The Chief Justice treated Mr. Wheaton with the fondest regard, and this
example would have had its influence had it been necessary; but in fact
the best men then in Washington were on the most intimate and
confidential terms with him. The simple truth is, that universal respect
was rendered to him because he deserved it. He was a gentleman: and
therefore the same gentleman to all and under all circumstances; yes, he
was indeed and emphatically a gentleman, and combined--with no base
admixture--all the elements which go to compose what we mean, or should
mean, by that word, as thoroughly as any one that I have ever known.

"I did not meet him after leaving Washington until a short time before
his death, and then not often. I saw very little change in his manner,
for he appeared to be as glad as I was to revive the pleasant
recollections of that distant winter. But I have been told that after he
went abroad, he was considered somewhat silent, and even disposed to
avoid rather than seek general society. I cannot say how this was during
those later years; but when I knew him in Washington, no one more
enjoyed society, and few sought it more, or were more sought by it. He
was,--not perhaps gay,--but eminently cheerful; and his manner was
characterized by that forgetfulness of self, which, as in great things,
it forms the foundation for the highest excellence, so in the lesser
matters of social intercourse it imparts a perpetual charm, and
constitutes almost of itself, the essence of all true politeness.

There was with Mr. Wheaton, no watching of opportunity for display; no
indifference and want of interest when the topics of conversation, or
the parties, or other circumstances, made it impossible for him to
occupy the foreground; no skilful diversion of the conversation into
paths which led to his strongholds, where he might come forth with
peculiar, advantage. Still less did he--as in this country so many
do--play out in society the game of life, by using it only as a means of
promoting his personal or professional objects. Certainly, one may
sometimes help himself importantly in this way. Very useful
acquaintances may thus be made and cultivated, who might be rather shy
if directly approached. Facts may be learned, and opportunities for
advancement early discovered, or effectually laid hold of, by one who
circulates widely in a society like that in Washington, or indeed any
where. Nor perhaps should it be a ground of reproach to any one, that in
a reasonable way and to a reasonable extent, he seeks and cultivates
society for this purpose. But, whatever may be the moral aspect of this
matter, or whatever the degree in which conduct of this kind is or is
not justifiable, there was in Mr. Wheaton's demeanor nothing of this;
nothing of it in appearance, because nothing of it in fact; for one who
is mainly, or in any considerable degree governed by a purpose of this
kind, must be cunning indeed, to hide it effectually; and cunning of any
sort, was a quality of which he had none whatever. Every body felt and
knew this: and therefore every body met him with a sense of confidence
and repose, which of itself would go far in making any person more
acceptable as a friend or as a mere companion, in a society of which the
very surface constantly exhibited the many whirling under currents of
Washington life. In one word, there was in him nothing of _trick_; but
that constant and perfect suavity which is the spontaneous expression of
universal kindness; and an excellent understanding, well and widely
cultivated, and always ready to bring forth all its resources, not to
help himself, but to help or gratify others, and all others with whom he
came into contact, and all this, with no appearance of purpose or design
of any kind; for it was but the natural outpouring of mind and heart, of
one who was open to the widest sympathy, and whose interest in all
persons and things about him was most real and honest, because he loved
nothing so well as to do all the good he could, by word or deed, or
little or much, to one, or few, or many. He was therefore most popular
in society. But when we speak of Mr. Wheaton's social _popularity_, we
must be careful to use this word in a higher than its common sense; and
if I have made myself at all intelligible, I think you will understand
both the cause and the character of that popularity.

"And more than this I cannot say. Time has effaced from my memory
details and especial circumstances; nor can I therefore, by their help,
illustrate this slight sketch of Mr. Wheaton's character and position,
during those pleasant months which he helped so much to make pleasant.
Of these particulars, my recollection is dim enough. But no lapse of
time will efface from my mind the clear and distinct recollection of the
high excellence of his character, or the charms of his conversation and
manners; nor shall I ever lose any portion of the affection and respect
with which I regard his memory.

    "I am, very sincerely,
    "Your friend and obedient servant,

  CAMBRIDGE, May 23, 1853.

In 1821, Mr. Wheaton was elected a member of the Convention for revising
the Constitution of the State of New-York, which having been formed amid
the tumults and perils of war, seemed defective and insufficient to the
wants of a richer, more enlightened, and more numerous society. In his
sittings he turned his attention more particularly to the organization
of the tribunals. In 1824, he was appointed by the New-York Legislature
a member of the commission appointed to draw up the civil and criminal
code of the State, a work in which he continued to be engaged until
1827. It has been remarked that this was the first effort made by any
State possessing the common law, to reduce its disconnected and
diffusive legislation to the unity of a code; so that his name is thus
connected with one of the most important landmarks in the history of
American law.

It may easily be imagined, that a person of so serious and thoughtful a
disposition could not have failed at some period of his life, to turn
his attention to the important subject of religion. While in college,
and during the ensuing years, he had studied deeply the works of the
great English theologians, and when the Unitarian Church was established
in New-York, he united himself with it.

His other occupations did not prevent him from entering into literary
pursuits. In 1820 he pronounced a discourse before the Historical
Society of New-York, and in 1824, one at the opening of the New-York
Athenæum, both of which are considered to have unusual merit; he was in
the habit of contributing to the North American Review, and also
translated the Code Napoleon. Unfortunately, this manuscript and some
other interesting papers were soon after destroyed by fire. In 1826 he
published the life of William Pinkney, whom he had known in Washington,
and for whom he had the highest regard and admiration. This he
afterwards abridged for Sparks's American Biography. His familiarity
with the French language, laws, and customs, led to an intimacy with
most of the exiles whom the downfall of Napoleon brought to this
country. Count Réal, the minister of police under the empire, Count
Regnault, the most brilliant orator of that time, General Bernard and
Prince Achille Murat, all considered him as a friend, and retained as
long as they lived a warm recollection of the kind welcome they had
found at his house.

In 1827 he was appointed by President Adams, Chargè d'Affaires to
Denmark, and charged with negotiations the object of which was to obtain
an indemnity for the American vessels seized during the last war between
France and England. He embarked in July for England, where he had the
satisfaction of again seeing the friends whose kindness had made his
first visit to that country so pleasant, and also of meeting some of the
most distinguished literary and legal characters of the day. Among the
former, was Dr. Bowring, with whom he afterwards became intimate, and
who was indeed one of the warmest friends he had in Europe.

Although the first few months passed in Copenhagen were not without the
trials attendant on a removal to a foreign home, and in this instance
were still more overshadowed by the news of his father's death, and by
the illness and death of his wife's brother, who had gone with them, Mr.
Wheaton soon became acclimated, formed pleasant acquaintances among his
colleagues and among the Danes, who are remarkably kind and hospitable
to foreigners, and availed himself of the resources the country offered
to one of his tastes. The letter to Judge Story, of which we give a
_fac-simile_, will show his first impressions of Copenhagen.

The climate of Denmark is damp like that of England, and its verdure
quite as beautiful. Copenhagen is prettily situated, and contains as
many objects of interest as any city of the size in Europe. It has fine
palaces, a military and a naval academy, admirable hospitals, an
extensive public library, a valuable collection of Northern antiquities,
a good gallery of pictures, and fine public walks. The vicinity of the
capital, although level, is highly cultivated, and affords a number of
charming residences. The most pleasant of these are situated on the
Strandvei, a road which runs along the shore of the Baltic to the
Dyr-Hange, a fine park well stocked with deer, which is a favorite place
of resort during the summer season to the Danes, who enjoy out-of-door
life as much as the inhabitants of a Southern clime. Many of the houses
which stand at intervals along the pleasant Strandvei are rented by
their proprietors to foreigners. Of one of those occupied by Mr. Wheaton
and his family, we engrave a cut, from a view painted by an artist of
the country. It stood, and still stands, at some distance from the road,
with a green lawn before it, and surrounded by lilacs, laburnums and
beech-trees, whose white bark and light green leaves give a peculiar
character to the scenery of Denmark. From the windows of the house the
blue waves of the Baltic, studded with every variety of sail, may be
seen, and in clear weather the opposite coast of Sweden is discernible.
The road is enlivened by the brilliant equipages of the Royal family and
nobility, by the Holstein-wagen, long open carriages which contain ten
persons, two only being seated abreast, and much used for parties of
pleasure, and by the women from the neighboring fishing villages, with
their green petticoats and red boddices, carrying large baskets of fish
to the city.

At the time of Mr. Wheaton's arrival in Denmark, Count Schimmelmann
occupied the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. This nobleman was
possessed of great talents and worth, and for nearly thirty years was
employed in the service of his government. Although a great part of his
income was derived from his estates in the Danish West Indies, it was
chiefly by his influence that the emancipation of the negroes was
effected. He was a generous patron of art and science, and one of the
earliest friends of Niebuhr. By such a man Mr. Wheaton could not fail to
be appreciated; and although the business transacted between them was of
a delicate, and to the Danish government, which had been greatly
impoverished by the war, of a trying nature, these meetings were always
pleasant to both. The negotiations were terminated in 1831, by the
signature of a convention, by which the American government obtained
nearly all it had demanded.

While thus engaged, Mr. Wheaton had not neglected the literary pursuits
to which, in moments of leisure, he always turned with pleasure. He
prepared himself by the study of the languages, literature, and history
of Northern Europe, for writing a work which was published in London, in
1831, under the title of History of the Northmen. At that period,
Scandinavia was a new, and almost untrodden field, but although much has
since been added to the information we then possessed respecting its
history and antiquities, this work is still considered very valuable by
those who take an interest in the subject to which it relates. It was
translated into French in 1842, and a new edition of it being desired in
this country, Mr. Wheaton undertook the task of preparing it, but did
not live to complete it.

In the course of these studies he became acquainted with the most
distinguished literary characters of Denmark, such as Bask, Rafn,
Finn-Magnusen, the poet Ohlenschläger, Münter, Bishop of Zealand, and
others. We must not omit to add Madame Frederika Brun, the sister of
Münter, and herself a poetess of celebrity, whose splendid mansion in
Copenhagen and charming country-seat of Fredericksdal, were for many
years the resort of the most distinguished persons in Denmark.

It was in 1835 that he bade adieu to the country where nine pleasant
years had been passed, and where his amiable disposition, high integrity
and talents, had won him many friends. For more than a quarter of a
century, our country had no representative in Prussia; but our increased
trade with Germany rendering it important that we should renew our
relations with that country, he was appointed by President Jackson,
Minister Resident to the court of Prussia. On his arrival in Berlin, his
new colleagues took pleasure in pointing out to him the house which had
been the residence of his predecessor, John Quincy Adams, so long

Mr. Ancillon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the descendant of a
Huguenot family, who, after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,
sought an asylum in Germany, and is even better known as a philosophical
writer and historian, than as a statesman. To him Mr. Wheaton presented
his credentials, and as the King, Frederick William III., and his
ministers, soon after left Berlin, according to custom, for the summer
months, he devoted the interval to visiting the Rhenish provinces, in
order to examine their resources and report to Government concerning
them. During the ensuing summers he made excursions into different parts
of Germany with the same object. In his private letters, he speaks with
delight of the beauty and fertility of the country, to which historical
associations gave additional charm in his eyes. In a dispatch, he says:
"Having diligently explored every state and every province, comprehended
in the Customs-Association, with the view of studying their economical
resources, I have been forcibly struck with the vast variety and rich
productions with which Heaven has endowed this beautiful and highly
favored land. Its fields teem with luxuriant harvests of grain and
fruit, the hillsides are clad with vineyards yielding the most exquisite
wines, the mountains contain inexhaustible treasures of useful minerals,
whilst the valleys are filled with health-giving fountains of salubrious
waters. When we add to these productions of nature and of agricultural
labor, the vast variety of useful and ornamental fabrics, furnished by
the persevering and patient industry of the German people, and their
extensive consumption of the peculiar staple productions of the New
World, we must be convinced of the great and increasing importance of
the constituent elements of German commerce, of the valuable exchange it
offers to the trade of other countries, and of the benefits which may be
derived to our own country, from cultivating and extending the
commercial relations between the United States and Germany."

In 1837, Mr. Wheaton was raised by President Van Buren to the rank of
Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary; and we cannot forbear
remarking, that after the opposition which--although never a violent
party man--he had in previous years shown Mr. Van Buren, it is most
honorable to the latter, that no feeling of rancor or pique, withheld
him from making a nomination which he felt the public services of his
former opponent to deserve.

In 1836, he published, in England and in the United States, his
"Elements of International Law," and in 1846 republished it in this
country with numerous additions. In 1841 he wrote in French, "Histoire
du Progrès du Droit des Gens depuis la paix de Westphalie," which
obtained a _mention honorable_ from the French Institute. This work was
published in French at Leipsic, 1844, and afterwards in New-York, under
the title of "History of the Law of Nations." Competent judges have
spoken of it as the best work of the kind ever written; Mr. Reddie and
Mr. Manning in Great Britain, Baron Gagern in Germany, and the
enlightened and accomplished Minister of the King of Sardinia, Marquis
d'Azeglio, have all awarded high praise to it. By diplomatists, it is
considered an invaluable book of reference; by British statesmen, it has
several times been quoted in Parliament, and there can be no
exaggeration in saying, that it has entitled the author to a lasting
reputation in the Old World.

In 1840, Mr. Wheaton had the misfortune to lose his eldest son, a lad of
great promise, who died after a few days' illness in Paris, where he was
at school. From that moment, all the father's hopes centred in Robert,
his only remaining son. Of the latter, this is not the place to speak
fully; but we cannot forbear to say, that he lived long enough to
realize the fondest anticipations of his parents, and that his early
death, at the age of twenty-five years, will ever be a source of regret
to all who knew him. He died on the 9th of October, 1851, only three
years after his father.

In 1843, he was made a corresponding member of the French Institute, in
the section of Moral and Political Sciences. This nomination increased
the pleasure he felt in visiting Paris, which he did, whenever his
official duties would permit. In the literary and political circles of
that great capital, he found the stimulus which every mind like his
requires, and of which, he felt the want in Berlin, where men of letters
and _savans_ do not mix in the court-circles, which his official
position compelled him frequently to attend. He knew most of the eminent
statesmen and politicians of France; he was particularly well acquainted
with M. Guizot, for whose character and talents he entertained the
highest respect, and with M. Thiers, the charm of whose conversation he
admired no less than his works, He also enjoyed the opportunity he had
in Paris of meeting his countrymen, of whom comparatively few visited
Berlin. Nor did he neglect when there, to transmit to Government such
information respecting the general state of Europe, as his long
residence abroad, and his relations with the leading men in several of
its countries, enabled him to collect. In the ten years during which his
mission to Berlin lasted, scarcely a week elapsed without his addressing
a dispatch to Government. These dispatches are extremely interesting,
both from the variety and extent of information they contain concerning
the political and commercial state of Prussia, and the picture they
present of Europe and of European governments, and, if ever published,
will form a valuable addition to the history of American and European

In many respects, Mr. Wheaton was peculiarly well qualified for
diplomatic life. His knowledge of international law, the soundness of
his judgment, the calmness and impartiality with which he could look at
the different sides of a question, his gentle and forbearing
disposition, his amiable and conciliating manners, were all in his
favor. To these advantages, he added the purest integrity, and the
highest sense of the duties and responsibilities attached to the
profession he so long followed. In the speech made at the public dinner
offered him in New-York, on his return to his native country after an
absence of twenty years, he said, and this was the true expression of
his feelings on the subject: "You will excuse me for remarking that the
mission of a diplomatic agent is, or ought to be, a mission of peace and
conciliation; and that nothing can be further removed from its true
nature and dignity, than intrigue, craft, and duplicity; qualities too
often, but in my opinion, erroneously, attributed to the diplomatic
character. At least, it may I believe be confidently asserted, that the
ablest public ministers, and those who have most effectually advanced
the honor and interest of their country, have been those who were
distinguished for frankness, directness, and a strict regard to truth."

The amount of business which devolved on him during his mission to
Berlin, independent of the negotiations for a commercial treaty with the
German Customs-Union or Zollverein, can hardly be estimated by reading
his dispatches only. Not a week elapsed without his receiving letters
from different parts of Germany and the United States, asking for advice
with regard to emigration, or to the disposition of property left by
friends in America or in Germany, and all requiring immediate attention.
But notwithstanding these demands upon his time, he did not neglect the
pursuits of literature. In 1838 he published, jointly with Dr. Crichton,
the volumes entitled "Scandinavia," which form a portion of the
Edinburgh Family Library; and in 1842, and the succeeding years, wrote a
number of interesting letters addressed to the National Institute at
Washington, which were published in the columns of the National

In 1844, he was named Member of the Academy of Sciences at Berlin, and
we must not omit to mention, that he was the only foreign diplomat to
whom the honor had then been awarded. With Raumer and Ranke, with
Ritter, the celebrated geographer, Encke, the astronomer, he was of
course acquainted; Savigny, Gans, and Eichorn, he knew well; and with
Alexander von Humboldt he was on the most friendly and familiar terms.
Count Raczynski, whose work on "Modern Art," has made his name known in
this country, and whose fine gallery is to amateurs of painting one of
the chief objects of interest in Berlin, was also his intimate friend.
With Bunsen, one of the most agreeable as well as intellectual men in
Germany, whose diplomatic duties kept him absent from Berlin, he passed
many delightful hours in Switzerland, and in London. All his colleagues
in Berlin met him on the most friendly terms; but the Russian, French
and English ministers were those whose company he most enjoyed, and who
perhaps entertained for him the most cordial friendship. The two latter
gave him their entire confidence, often showing him their dispatches,
and freely discussing with him the interests of their respective

It was in the spring of 1844, that the negotiations with the Zollverein,
with which Mr. Wheaton had been charged, and which the various interests
of the nineteen different states which it then included, had protracted,
drew to a close. On the 25th of March he signed a convention with Baron
Bulow, the Prussian Minister of Foreign Affairs, of whose enlightened
and liberal views he always spoke in high terms. This treaty, to the
accomplishment of which he had devoted all his energies during several
years, and which he fondly hoped would prove satisfactory to Government
and the country, was rejected by the Senate. It is hardly necessary to
say, that he felt this disappointment deeply.

In 1846, he was recalled by President Polk, and on the 22d July had his
farewell audience of the King of Prussia, by whom he had always been
treated with marked distinction and courtesy. He went to Paris to pass
the ensuing winter, during which he read to the Academy of Sciences a
paper on the Schleswig-Holstein question, which is still unpublished. In
May, 1847, he returned to his native land. A public dinner, to which we
have already alluded, was given him in New-York, where so much of his
early life had been spent, and where he had first distinguished himself;
a dinner was also offered him in Philadelphia, but this, circumstances
compelled him to decline. The city of Providence requested him to sit
for his portrait, to be placed in the hall of the City Council, "as a
memorial of one who shed so much honor on the place of his nativity." It
is interesting to mark the contrast between this portrait, which was
painted by Healy, and one painted by Jarvis nearly thirty years before.
Though the countenance has lost something of the animation of youth, and
the eyes have no longer the fire which flashes from the portrait of
Jarvis, the head has gained in intellectual expression, and the brow
wears that air of thoughtful repose, the mouth that pleasant smile,
familiar to those who knew him in his later years.

In September, 1847, he delivered an address in Providence, before the
Phi Beta Kappa Society, the subject of which was the Progress and
Prospects of Germany. This was the last public occasion on which his
voice was heard. The chair of International Law at Harvard University,
to which he had been called, on his return home, he never lived to fill.
His health gradually failed, and on the 11th of March, 1848, he breathed
his last.


[Illustration: Webster fac-simile of letter]

[Illustration: Webster's Birth-place]


What justice can be done "in an half-hour of words, to fifty years of
great deeds on high places." The most meagre epitome of Daniel Webster's
career, can not be compressed into the few pages allotted him in this
book. Foremost, in the highest spheres of intellectual exertion, as a
lawyer, orator and statesman--great in all these, yet greater as a
man--how can his character, even in outline, be sketched by an unskilled
pencil, on so small a canvas? High as were his stations, and severe as
were his labors, they were not high nor severe enough, to exhaust his
force, or exhibit his full proportions, but while meeting and mastering
all, it was still manifest, that he had powers in reserve, superior to
greater tasks than were ever imposed. At the bar, the puzzles of
jurisprudence yielded too readily to his analysis. In Congress, but one
question only ever wrung his withers or strained his strength. He shook
off the perplexities of diplomacy, like dew-drops from his mane; too
great for party, too great for sycophancy, too great to be truly
appreciated, the exalted position to which he aspired, would have added
no new lustre to his name, no additional guarantee of its immortality.
There was no niche in our temple, vast enough for his colossal image.

Consider too, the extent and profundity of his opinions, during the
half-century of his public life. On all questions of our foreign and
domestic policy, on all the important epochs of our history, on
everything respecting the origin, growth, commerce, peace and prosperity
of this union of states, "everywhere the philosophical and patriotic
statesman and thinker, will find that he has been before him, lighting
the way, sounding the abyss. His weighty language, his sagacious
warnings, his great maxims of empire, will be raised to view and live to
be deciphered, when the final catastrophe shall lift the granite
foundation in fragments from its bed." Merely to review the record of
these opinions, his public speeches, historical discourses, and state
papers would be to write the civil and constitutional history of the
country since the war of 1812.

Assaying none of these ambitious flights, and bearing in mind the title
of this book, we shall confine ourselves to the humble task of collating
from the fragmentary reminiscences of personal friends, and from his own
autobiographical allusions, a brief account of the homes and home life
of Webster.[21]

There is a "vulgar error," which needs no Sir Thomas Browne to refute,
that the possession of great intellectual endowments, is incompatible
with the growth and development of the affections. During his entire
career Mr. Webster suffered from this misconception. When he refused to
adopt any of the arts of popular adulation; when he manifested his real
respect for the people, by addressing their understandings, rather than
by cajoling their weaknesses; when, rapt in his own meditations, he
forgot to bow, to smile, to flatter, and bandy unmeaning compliment;
when the mean stood abashed before his nobleness, and the weak before
his strength, disappointed self-conceit, invariably turned from his
presence, with the sneering remark, "Webster has no soul."

Death strips off all disguises. Calumny is silent over the graves of the
great. It was not, until he was removed beyond the reach of party
warfare and interested depreciation, it was not, until the veil that hid
his true lineaments, was drawn aside, that Mr. Webster's inner life, and
social relations, were revealed to his countrymen, and they began to
discover, that underneath the giant's brain, there was a giant heart.
The disclosures of those who enjoyed his familiarity and confidence,
have now placed it beyond all controversy, that home, home affections,
home pursuits, home enjoyments, were more congenial to Mr. Webster's
nature, than the dizzy heights of office, or the stormy forum.

He saw not merely in HOME, the walls that protected him, from Boreas and
the dog-star, the spot of earth appropriated to himself, the place that
ministered to his material enjoyments, but while the sense of comfort
and the sense of property entered into its complex idea, his sentiments
and affections gave to it a higher and holier meaning. The word HOME
carried him back to his infancy, and forward to his age. It connected
itself with all his affections, filial, fraternal, parental, with those
grand and solemn epochs of humanity, birth, marriage and death. To his
lofty imagination, the roof-tree was consecrated with ceremonies, more
imposing than those of our Saxon ancestors. It symbolized the family
tie, the domestic virtues, the Lares and Penates of classic mythology.
Home was his retreat from the world of action, to the world of
contemplation. Here he was to _live_. These walls would witness those
experiences, sweet, bitter, mournful; those communings with God, with
friends, kindred and himself; those aspirations, dreams,
disappointments--that are embraced in that word of infinite
significance, _Life_. Here his wife was to administer love and
consolation; here children were to be born, hostages to fortune,
heritors of name and fame, idols upon whom can be lavished the
inexhaustible treasures of love. Here the pilgrimage was to end, here he
was to die.

On the bleak and rugged soil of Salisbury, New Hampshire, in a green
nook, hardly sheltered from the wintry blasts, he was born. Under an
aged elm, whose branches reach across the highway, stands this ancient
habitation. It is in the shadow of lofty mountains, while a broad and
rapid river winds through the meadows spread out before the door.
"Looking out at the east window," says he, in one of his letters, from
this hallowed spot, "my eye sweeps along a level field of one hundred
acres. At the end of it, a third of a mile off, I see plain marble
grave-stones, designating the places where repose my father and mother,
brother and sisters. The fair field is before me. I could see a lamb on
any part of it. I have ploughed it, and raked it, but never mowed it;
somehow, I could never learn to hang a scythe."

As Webster advances, in years and distinction, he seems only to have
been drawing a lengthened chain from his first home. With what constancy
does he carry its features in his mind, Kearsarge, the Merrimack and
Punch Brook! He spares no expense to cultivate the old acres and keep,
the old house in repair. With what regularity does he revisit it and
explore all his boyish haunts, the orchard, the mill, the meeting-house,
the well, the hillside and the trout stream! With what a swelling
heart, and moistened eye, does he sit beneath the ancestral elms that
stretch their arms, in benediction, over the old homestead, while busy
fancy repeoples these familiar scenes with the absent and the dead, the
mother that bore him, the father on whose shoulder he wept, the much
beloved brother, whose education he earned, "with weary fingers by the
midnight lamp?" How from the great popular gathering, from the "sea of
upturned faces," and even from the important issues that hung on his
eloquence, does his mind impulsively wander to this cherished
home--"Raised amid the snow-drifts of New Hampshire, at a period so
early that, when the smoke first rose from its rude chimney, and curled
over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's
habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada. Its
remains still exist. I make to it an annual visit. I carry my children
to it to teach them the hardships endured by the generations which have
gone before them. I love to dwell on the tender recollections, the
kindred ties, the early affections, and the touching narratives and
incidents, which mingle with all I know of this primitive family abode.
I weep to think that none of those who inhabited it are now among the
living; and if ever I am ashamed of it, or if I ever fail in
affectionate veneration for HIM who reared and defended it against
savage violence and destruction, cherished all the domestic virtues
beneath its roof, and, through the fire and blood of seven years'
revolutionary war, shrunk from no danger, no toil, no sacrifice to serve
his country, and to raise his children to a condition better than his
own, may my name and the name of my posterity be blotted forever from
the memory of mankind."

"Take care," says he, in one of the last letters which he wrote to John
Taylor, "take care to keep my mother's garden in good order, even if it
cost you the wages of a man to take care of it." One of Mr. Webster's
most cherished relics, which he sometimes carried in his vest pocket,
and exhibited to his friends, was an antique tea-spoon, covered with
rust, which John Taylor found in this very garden of his mother. In the
library at Marshfield, the eye turns from Healey's splendid portraits,
to a small and unpretending silhouette, with the inscription, "my
excellent mother," in the handwriting of her immortal son.

When he selected as the home of his manhood, the old mansion by the
far-resounding sea, how completely was every want of his nature
represented in the grand and impressive features of the place.
MARSHFIELD lies within the limits of the Pilgrims' earliest colony, and
on Mr. Webster's farm stands the house to which Edward Winslow carried
his household gods, from aboard the tempest-tost Mayflower, and the
house to which a company of British soldiers bade final adieu, when they
marched from it to storm the redoubts on Bunker Hill. It thus connects
two chapters of that colonial history, which Mr. Webster loved to study
and paint, and two imperishable monuments to his own renown. It is
surrounded by vast and fertile fields, meadows and pastures green,
dotted here and there with groves and orchards, for one who worshiped,
as in a sanctuary, beneath the over-hanging branches of trees, and
dotted also with great herds of red and black oxen, for one who "was
glad when his cattle lifted up their large-eyed, contemplative faces,
and recognized their master by a look." Its border, landward, is hedged
with nothing less than a vast forest of pines, and within a few hours'
ride, lies a fresh wilderness, unbroken, as when the Pilgrims first saw
it from the Mayflower's mast-head, where the wild eagle still soars, and
the timid deer "glances through the glade." His eye, far as its glance
could penetrate, rested on the most sublime of all nature's attractions,
on thee--

            "glorious mirror where the Almighty's form
    Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
    Calm or convulsed--in breeze, or gale, or storm,
    Icing the pole, or in the torrid zone
    Dark heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime,
    The image of eternity, the throne
    Of the Invisible."

Scattered over its far-reaching expanse, he could always see the white
sails of that commerce he loved to defend, and occasionally, one of
those "oak leviathans," bearing the glorious flag of the union--"not a
stripe erased, or polluted, not a single star obscured;" memorials at
once of the nation's glory, and of his own proudest triumph.

As deep answereth unto deep, none of the majestic harmonies of the
domain, but found a full and equal response in the bosom of its lord.
Old ocean never rolled its waves, at the feet of one who could better
grasp their immeasurable extent, unfathomable depth. When, with these
surroundings, he stood on that autumn eve, beneath that magnificent elm
that grows by his door-side, the sea's eternal anthem in his ear, and in
his eye, the infinite vault of the starry heavens, he could find in
recorded language but this one utterance: "When I consider thy heavens,
the work of thy fingers; the moon and the stars, which thou hast
ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man,
that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the
angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor."

While his tastes were thus attuned to the grandest aspects of nature,
all the rural sights and rural sounds of this chosen spot, ministered to
the delight of his acute sensibilities. "The smell of new-mown hay,"
says Mr. Hillard, "and of the freshly turned furrows of spring, was
cordial to his spirit. The whetting of the mower's scythe, the beat of
the thresher's flail, the heavy groan of loaded wagons, were music to
his ear!" The rich verdure of clover, the waving of the golden grain,
the shriek of the sea-mew and the softest song of the nightingale;
all the varying aspects of sky and field and sea, furnished him with a
distinct and peculiar enjoyment. The shrinking quail whistled in his
garden shrubbery, and fed, unscared, in his carriage-way.

The observer can not fail to notice characteristics of Webster in all
the features of this favorite abode. His door-yard is a broad field of
twenty acres, unbroken by fence or hedge. Around it, sweep in concentric
circles, of vast diameter, great belts of forest-trees, planted with his
own hands, offering secluded recesses and shady walks, where "musing
solitude might love to roam." Gotham Hill, once a sand-bank, piled up by
the ocean, and long defeating, by its barrenness, the ingenuity of his
culture, he at length clothed with a green garment of beautiful clover.
Cherry Hill was converted from a lean and parched mole, into a cool and
inviting grove, within a rod of his door, almost an alcove to the
library. Everything in and about the house were as thoroughly systemized
and adapted to each other, as the points of one of his briefs. The
appurtenances of the mansion, the main barn, the sheep barn, the
piggery, are all where the necessities of the farm and the comeliness of
the homestead require them to be placed. In the interior, the parlors,
the library filled with the lore of all ages, the ample hospitality of
the dining-room, the breakfast-room, opening toward that morning light
he loved so dearly, the dairy cooled by its proximity to the ice-house,
the gun-room furnished with every appliance for field sports, the
decorations and the furniture; everything in his mansion as in his
arguments, bespeaks the mind of Webster.

Within a stone's throw of this parlor-window, observe those two young
English elms; they are called "the Brother and Sister," and were thus
named and thus planted, by the bereaved father, when Julia and Edward
were torn from his heart. "I hope the _trees_ will live," said he, with
touching pathos of tone, as he completed this labor of love. There is no
more pathetic expression of parental sorrow, to be found in our
language, than the dedication of the sixth volume of his works, to the
same departed twain. "With the warmest parental affection, mingled with
afflicted feelings, I dedicate this, the last volume of my works, to the
memory of my deceased children, Julia Webster Appleton, beloved in all
the relations of daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend; and Major
Edward Webster, who died in Mexico, in the military service of the
United States, with unblemished honor and reputation, and who entered
the service solely from a desire to be useful to his country, and do
honor to the state in which he was born.

    "Go, gentle spirits, to your destined rest;
    While I--reversed our nature's kindlier doom--
    Pour forth a father's sorrow on your tomb."

And yet Mr. Webster was "cold as marble; all intellect."

But let us pass into the library; the LIBRARY! Here Vulcan forged those
infrangible chains, that impenetrable armor--the shield of Achilles and
the sword of Hector. Here you feel nearer to Webster than even when you
enter his tomb; much that is in this room his immortal spirit carried
with it in its upward flight. It is not that life-like portrait, by
Healey, that introduces you, as it were, into the visible presence of
the great statesman. It is the inspiration of the place, these scattered
tools, just as they were dropped by the master-workman, that well-worn
manual, thumbed by his own hand; that turned leaf, indicating the last
page of human lore upon which his eye ever gazed; that arm-chair, his
favorite seat. He seems just to have left it, and you will now find him,
in one of those shady lanes, that lead to Cherry Hill, walking slowly,
as he welds together the facts and principles he has gleaned from yonder
opened folio. Here then, with these surroundings, with that beautiful
landscape in his eye, DANIEL WEBSTER studied, pondered, and communed
with these old tomes as with familiar faces. How often has he turned
from the living world, to find kindred here in Bacon, Chatham, Fox and
Burke! How often has his eye run over that complete set of parliamentary
debates! How often has he conned those volumes of Hansard, and these of
McCullough! How often has he resorted to that full alcove of
dictionaries, to learn the precise and exact meaning of some important
word; and to you, Shakspeare, Milton and Gray, how often has he fled for
refreshment and consolation! How often, harassed by cares, and stung by
ingratitude, has he murmured, in this air, the music of his favorite
Cicero, "Hæc studia adolescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas
res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solatium præbent, delectant domi, non
impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur."

Let us now ascend this staircase, (adorned with no costly paintings,
but with some choice engravings, interesting from the associations they
recall, or as mementos from friends, or tributes from artists,) and
approach this darkened chamber, looking toward the setting sun; tread
softly and slowly! Within these walls, on that plain bedstead, beneath
that window commanding an ocean prospect, Webster died. Here occurred
that grand and affecting leave-taking, with kindred, friends and the
world; here, "the curfew tolled the knell of parting day;" here occurred
a death-scene, which can find no parallel in human history, but in the
death of Socrates; here, with the assured consciousness, that his own
contributions to the fund of human wisdom were imperishable, and that
the "next ages" could not fail to do justice to his patriotic labors, he
faintly murmured, as his spirit took its flight, and his eye closed
forever, "I still live."

On an eminence overlooking the sea, by the side of the burial-place of
the first Pilgrims, is Webster's last home. A mound of earth and marble
slab, mark the spot where sleeps all that is mortal of the great


[21] We have consulted principally the "Memorials of Daniel Webster,"
published by the Appletons, containing the letters of Gen. Lyman, and
the eulogies of Everett, Choate and Hildreth, all enjoying the precious
favor of his personal intimacy. The reminiscences of Mr. Lanman, his
private secretary, and Everett's life prefixed to the complete edition
of his works, are our authority for many of the following details.

  |                                                              |
  | TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES                                          |
  |                                                              |
  | Spelling has been made consistent throughout but kept to     |
  | authors' original format except where noted.                 |
  |                                                              |
  | Small Caps has been capitalized in this text version.        |
  |                                                              |
  | Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the |
  | closest paragraph break. "Washington's" has been added to    |
  | captions for Headquarters on pages 23, 25, 28, 32, 33, 34,   |
  | 37, and 45.                                                  |
  |                                                              |
  | Footnotes have been moved to the end of the chapters. Also,  |
  | "The" has been added to "Works of John Adams" (for footnotes |
  | 2-3) and "Life and Works" (for footnotes 5-6 and 8-10) for   |
  | consistency.                                                 |
  |                                                              |
  | Page viii: Page numbers added to "Fac-similes of Letters".   |
  | Henry Clay is added to the list, whereas Patrick Henry's     |
  | copy is not available.                                       |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 8: (Hudson's Statue) changed to (Houdon's Statue)       |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 17: (to recruit in mind and body) changed to (to        |
  | recoup his mind and body)                                    |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 50: (great Lakes) changed to (Great Lakes)              |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 68: (old style, 1706, on a house) changed to            |
  | (old style, 1706, in a house)                                |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 141: Hyphen removed (much like the-lime tree of Europe) |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 146: " removed from ("In 1774 Mr. Adams was appointed)  |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 159: ? changed to , (early companions? so that his)     |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 186: (Apalachian) changed to (Appalachian)              |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 387: , replaces ; in (His countenance, clear,           |
  | expressive; and)                                             |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 397: Typo "then" corrected in (Legislature, and thne)   |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 429: , replaces ; in (the other; begirt)                |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 438: (Webster, Parker, Quincy and Prescott,) replaces   |
  | (Webster and Parker, and Quincy; and Prescott,)              |
  |                                                              |
  | Page 441: ; removed from (a tale twice told and; who was)    |
  |                                                              |

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