« ForrigeFortsett »
and leaves but little time to acquire that treasure which would make us rich indeed. I was inclined to think that a wish for personal distinction, a desire of providing too abundantly for their children, and a powerful habit of accumulation, are the motives which commonly actuate men in the acquisition of great wealth. The strenuous endeavors of many persons to vindicate this pursuit, on the ground that the idea of a competency is indefinite, and that the more we gain, the more good we may do with it, did not make much impression upon me. I fancied that, in general, experience did not correspond with this plausible reasoning; and I was persuaded that a truly sincere mind could be at no loss to discern the just limits between a safe and competent portion and a dangerous profusion of the good things of life. These views of the subject I reduced to practice; and terminated my mercantile concerns when I had acquired a moderate competency.
EMPLOYMENT ESSENTIAL TO HEALTH.
In the course of my literary labors, I found that the mental exercise which accompanied them was not a little beneficial to my health. The motives which excited me to write, and the objects which I hoped to accomplish, were of a nature calculated to cheer the mind, and to give the animal spirits a salutary impulse. I am persuaded that, if I had suffered my time to pass away, with little or no employment, my health would have been still more impaired, my spirits depressed, and, perhaps, my life considerably shortened. I have, therefore, reason to deem it a happiness, and a source of gratitude to Divine Providence, that I was enabled, under my bodily weakness and confinement, to turn my attention to the subjects which have for so many years afforded me abundant occupation. I think it is incumbent upon us, whatever may be our privations, to cast our eyes around, and endeavor to discover whether there are not some means yet left us of doing good to ourselves and to others; that our lights may, in some degree, shine in every situation, and, if possible, be extinguished only with our lives. The quantum of good which, under such circumstances, we do, ought not to disturb or affect us. If we perform what we are able to perform, how little soever it may be, it is enough; it will be acceptable in the sight of Him who knows how to estimate exactly all our actions, by comparing them with our disposition and ability.
THE BLESSINGS OF AFFLICTION.
I consider myself as under deep obligations to God for the trials and afflictions with which he has been pleased to visit me,
as well as for the prosperous events of my life. They have been the corrections and restraints of a wise and merciful Father; and may justly be ranked among the number of my choicest blessings. I am firmly persuaded that cross occurrences and adverse situations may be improved by us to the happiest purposes. The spirit of resignation to the will of Heaven, which they inculcate, and the virtuous exertions to which they prompt us, in order to make the best of our condition, not only often greatly amend it, but confer on the mind a strength and elevation which dispose it to survey with less attachment the transient things of time, and to desire more earnestly the eternal happiness of another world.
DAVID RAMSEY, 1749-1815.
DAVID RAMSEY, the historian of the Revolution, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, on the 2d of April, 1749. His father, James Ramsey, was a respectable farmer, who had emigrated from Ireland, and by the diligent cultivation of his farm was enabled to educate a numerous family. A Protestant Christian, he early sowed the seeds of religion in the minds of his children, and lived to see the happy fruits of his care and labor. Our author when a youth showed great quickness of intellect, and, after going through the usual preparatory studies, entered Princeton College, where he graduated in 1765, being only sixteen years of age. After teaching for two years, he commenced the study of medicine in Philadelphia, under Dr. Rush, and in 1772 entered upon its practice in Maryland. The next year he removed to Charleston, S. C., and rose rapidly to eminence in his profession and in the respect of the community.1 His talents, business habits, and industry eminently qualified him for an active part in public affairs, and from the time of the Declaration of Independence to the close of the war he was a member of the Legislature of South Carolina. In February, 1782, he was elected a member of the Continental Congress, and again in 1785. The next year he returned to Charleston, and again entered the walks of private life.
From the beginning to the close of the war, Dr. Ramsey had been carefully collecting materials for its history, and in 1785 published his History of the Revolution in South Carolina. Five years after, in 1790, when he had studied the subject more thoroughly, and had gained much valuable information from many distinguished actors in its scenes, he published his History of the American Revolution, which was received with universal approbation. In 1801, he published his
1 On his going to Charleston, Dr. Rush wrote a commendatory letter, to aid him in his profession, in which he says, "It is saying but little of him to tell you that he is far superior to any person we ever graduated at our college; his abilities are not only good, but great; his talents and knowledge universal. Joined to all these, he is sound in his principles, strict, nay more, severe in his morals. He writes, talks, and-what is more-lives well."
Life of Washington, which still maintains a high reputation. In 1808, he gave të the world a History of South Carolina, in two volumes octavo. Besides these historical works, he published a number of essays connected with his profession; a Biographical Chart, to facilitate the study of history; and a Eulogium on Dr. Rush. He had made preparations for publishing a larger historical work upon our country, when he was suddenly deprived of life, being shot by a lunatic, in the streets of Charleston, on the 8th of May, 1815.
WASHINGTON RESIGNING HIS COMMISSION.
The hour now approached in which it became necessary for the American chief to take leave of his officers, who had been endeared to him by a long series of common sufferings and dangers. This was done in a solemn manner. The officers having previously assembled for the purpose, General Washington joined them, and, calling for a glass of wine, thus addressed them :-"With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." Having drank, he added, "I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged to you if each of you will come and take me by the hand." General Knox, being next, turned to him. Incapable of utterance, Washington grasped his hand, and embraced him. The officers came up successively, and he took an affectionate leave of each of them. Not a word was articulated on either A majestic silence prevailed. The tear of sensibility glistened in every eye. The tenderness of the scene exceeded all description. When the last of the officers had taken his leave, Washington left the room, and passed through the corps of light infantry to the place of embarkation. The officers followed in a solemn, mute procession, with dejected countenances. On his entering the barge to cross the North River, he turned towards the companions of his glory, and, by waving his hat, bid them a silent adieu. Some of them answered this last signal of respect and affection with tears; and all of them gazed upon the barge which conveyed him from their sight till they could no longer distinguish in it the person of their beloved commander-in-chief.
The army being disbanded, Washington proceeded to Annapolis, then the seat of Congress, to resign his commission. On his way thither, he, of his own accord, delivered to the comptroller of accounts in Philadelphia an account of the expenditure of all the public money he had ever received. This was in his own handwriting, and every entry was made in a very particular manner. Vouchers were produced for every item, except for secret intelligence and services, which amounted to no more than 1982 pounds, 10 shillings sterling. The whole which, in the course of eight
years of war, had passed through his hands, amounted only to 14,479 pounds, 18 shillings, 9 pence sterling. Nothing was charged or retained for personal services; and actual disbursements had been managed with such economy and fidelity, that they were all covered by the above moderate sum.
After accounting for all his expenditures of public money, (secret-service money, for obvious reasons, excepted,) with all the exactness which established forms required from the inferior officers of his army, he hastened to resign into the hands of the fathers of his country the powers with which they had invested him. This was done in a public audience. Congress received him as the founder and guardian of the republic. While he appeared before them, they silently retraced the scenes of danger and distress through which they had passed together. They recalled to mind the blessings of freedom and peace purchased by his arm. They gazed with wonder on their fellow-citizen, who appeared more great and worthy of esteem in resigning his power than he had done in gloriously using it. Every heart was big with emotion. Tears of admiration and gratitude burst from every eye. The general sympathy was felt by the resigning hero, and wet his cheek with a manly tear. * * *
His own sensations, after retiring from public business, are thus expressed in his letters :-"I am just beginning to experience the ease and freedom from public cares, which, however desirable, it takes some time to realize; for, strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that it was not until lately I could get the better of my usual custom of ruminating, as soon as I awoke in the morning, on the business of the ensuing day; and of my surprise on finding, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a public man, or had any thing to do with public transactions. I feel as I conceive a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful 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 housetop, is looking back, and tracing with an eager eye the meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which lay in his way, and into which none but the all-powerful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have prevented his falling."
JOHN TRUMBULL, 1750-1831.
JOHN TRUMBULL, the author of the celebrated poem McFingal, was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on the 24th of April, 1750. His father was a Congregational clergyman, of a family distinguished in the literary and political annals of
Connecticut, and fitted his son for Yale College, where he graduated in 1767, the first in his class for genius and attainments, though but seventeen years of age. He then remained three years at college as a resident graduate, devoting himself principally to the study of polite letters, and forming many valuable acquaintances, among whom was Timothy Dwight, afterwards President of the college. In 1771, Trumbull and Dwight were elected tutors of the college, and exerted all their energies to introduce an improved system of study and discipline in the institution.
In 1772, Trumbull published the first part of The Progress of Dulness,—a satirical poem in Hudibrastic verse, exposing to ridicule the absurd methods of education that then prevailed. Tom Brainless, a dunce, is sent to college, and, with a little smattering of Latin and Greek, is transferred to a country minister to study theology, and in due time is "ground out" a preacher. In the second part a blow is aimed at the coxcombry of fashionable life in the person of Dick Hairbrain, a conceited and idle fop. The third part describes the life and fortunes of Miss Harriet Simper, who in ignorance and folly, if not in hooped rotundity, is the counterpart of the said Hairbrain, by whose charms she is captivated. But, failing in her efforts, she consoles herself in later years with the love of the proound Brainless, and their marriage concludes the poem.
THE FOP'S DECLINE.
How pale the palsied fop appears,
Each pleasing thought unknown, that cheers
In lonely age he sinks forlorn,
The coxcomb's course were gay and clever,