« ZurückWeiter »
in view of the darkest prospects, his wit and humour were often so vivid as to dispel the lowering clouds that hung gloomily over the minds of dejected members.
In 1782, he was an efficient member of the committee on public accounts, the duties of which had become not only of great magnitude, but of a very perplexing character. Fraud and speculation had rolled their mountain waves over the public concerns, and to do justice to all who presented claims, was no common task. In 1783, Mr. Ellery had the pleasure of being appointed by Congress to communicate to his friend, General Green, a resolution of thanks and high approbation for his faithfulness, skill and services, accompanied by two pieces of brass cannon taken from the British at the battle of the Cowpens.
In 1784, he was a member of the committee appointed to act upon the definitive treaty with Great Britain. He was also upon the one for defining the power of the board of the treasury, the one upon foreign relations, and the one upon the war office. The next year he closed his congressional course, and, as the crowning glory of his arduous and protracted labours in the national legislature, he advocated with great zeal, forensic eloquence, and powerful logic the resolution of Mr. King for abolishing slavery in the United States. His whole force of mind was brought to bear upon this subject and added a fresh lustre to the substantial fame he had long enjoyed. He then retired to his now peaceful home, to repair the wreck of his fortune and enjoy the blessings of that liberty for which he had so ardently contended. In the spring of 1786, he was appointed by Congress a commissioner of the national loan office for Rhode Island, and shortly after, he was elected to the seat of chief justice of the supreme court of his native state. Upon the organization of the federal government under the constitution, President Washington appointed him collector of customs for Newport, which station he ably filled until he took his tranquil departure to another and a brighter world. The evening of his life was as calm and mellow as an Italian sunset. Esteemed by all, he enjoyed a delightful intercourse with a large circle of friends. Honest, punctual and circumspect, he enjoyed the confidence of the commercial community in his official station, as well as the approbation of all in the private walks of life. During the thirty years he was collector of customs, a loss of only two hundred dollars upon bond accrued to government, and upon that bond he had taken five sureties.
He spent much of his time in reading classic authors, and in maintaining an extensive correspondence with distinguished men. But three weeks before his death, he wrote an essay upon Latin prosody and the faults of public speakers. His bible was also a favourite companion, from which he drew and enjoyed the living waters of eternal life. Always cheerful, instructive and amusing, his company was a rich treat to all who enjoyed it. His writings combined a sprightliness and solidity rarely exhibited. His courtesy and hospitality were always conspicuous, the whole frame-work of his character was embellished with all the rich variety of amiable qualities, uniting beauty
with strength, which can never fail of gaining esteem, and of rendering an individual useful in life and happy in death. His demise was as remarkable as it was tranquil. It was that of a christian and philosopher. On the 15th of February, 1820, he rose as usual in the morning and seated himself in the flag bottom chair which he had used for fifty years, and which was a relic rescued from the flames when his buildings were consumed. He commenced reading Tully's Offices in his favourite, the Latin, language, without the aid of glasses, the print of which is as small as that of a pocket bible. On his way to the hospital, the family physician called in, and perceiving that his countenance was cadaverous, felt his wrist and found that his pulse was gone. The physician administered a little wine, which revived the action of the purple current. The doctor then spoke encouragingly, to which Mr. Ellery replied "It is idle to talk to me in this I am going off the stage of life, and it is a great blessing that I go free from sickness, pain, and sorrow. Becoming extremely weak, he permitted his daughter to help him on his bed, where he sat upright, and commenced reading Cicero de Officiis, with as much composure as if in the full vigour of life. In a few moments, without a groan, a struggle, or a motion, his spirit left its tenement of clay, his body still erect with the book under his chin, as if on the point of falling asleep.
Thus usefully lived and thus peacefully died, WILLIAM ELLERY. His whole career presents a rare and pleasing picture of biography, upon which the imagination gazes with admiration and delight, and which cannot be rendered more beautiful or interesting by the finest touches of the pencil of fancy, dipped in the most lively colours of romance and fiction.
DECISION, tempered by prudence and discretion, gives weight to the character of a man. The individual who is always or uniformly perched upon the pivot of indetermination, and fluttering in the wind of uncertainty, can never gain public confidence or exercise an extensive influence. Decision, to render us truly useful, must receive its momentum from the pure fountain of our judgment, and not depend upon others to fill the lamp of philosophy, after our reasoning powers have become matured by experience, reflection and the solar rays of sciWhen the child becomes a man, he should think and act as a man, and draw freely from the resources of his own immortal mind. He may enjoy the reflective light of others, but should depend upon the focus of his own, rendered more brilliant by reflectives, to guide him in the path of duty and usefulness, that leads to the temple of lasting fame. The man who pins his faith upon the sleeve of another, and does not keep the lamp of his own understanding trimmed and
burning, is a mere automaton in life, never fills the vacuum designed by his creation, and, when he makes his exit from the stage of action, leaves no trace behind, no memento to tell that he once moved upon the earth in the sphere of usefulness, or bore the image of his God.
The sages of the American revolution have left bright and shining examples of self-moving action and a discreet decision of character. Among those who were roused to exertion by the reflections of their own mind, was LYMAN HALL, who was born in Connecticut in 1731. He graduated at Yale College at an early age, studied medicine, married a wife before he arrived at his majority, removed to Dorchester, S. C., in 1752, and commenced the practice of physic. After residing there a short time he joined a company of about forty families, originally from the New England states, and removed to Medway, in the parish of St. John, Georgia, and settled under favourable circumstances. He became a successful practitioner, and was esteemed and admired for his prudence, discretion, clearness of perception and soundness of judgment, united with refinement of feeling, urbanity of manners, a calm and equable mind, a splendid person, six feet in height, an intelligent and pleasing countenance and a graceful deportment. He had only to be known to be appreciated. As years rolled peacefully along, Dr. Hall became extensively and favourably known. He took a deep interest in the happiness of those around him, and in the welfare of the human family. He was an attentive observer of men and things and of passing events, and understood well the philosophy of human rights and the principles of the tenure by which the mother country held a jurisdiction over the colonies. When the rightful bounds of that jurisdiction were transcended, he was one of the first to meet the transgressors and point his countrymen to increasing innovations. As dangers accumulated, his patriotism became fired with enthusiastic zeal, tempered by the purest motives and guided by the soundest discretion. The indecision and temporizing spirit of Georgia, at the commencement of the revolution, has been before described. This was extremely annoying to Dr. Hall, but only tended to increase his exertions in the work of political regeneration. Over the people of his own district he exercised a judicious and unlimited influence. He also attended the patriot meetings held at Savannah, in July, 1774, and in January of the ensuing year, and contributed much to aid and strengthen his co-workers in the good cause, then but just commenced. His constituents became equally enthusiastic in favour of liberty, and indignant at British oppression, with himself. All the other colonies had united in the defence of their common country against the common enemy. A frontier settlement, and more exposed than any other in the province, he prudently laid the whole matter before the people of his district, and left them to choose freely whom they would serve. They decided against the sovereignty of Baal and declared for liberty. They at once separated from the other parishes, formed a distinct political community, applied to be admitted into the confederation entered into by the other colonies, passed resolutions of non-intercourse with Savannah, only to obtain the necessaries of life, so long as it remained under royal authority, and organized the neces
sary committees to carry these patriotic and decisive measures into effect. Placed upon an eminence like this, they were welcomed into the general compact, and in March, 1775, Lyman Hall was elected to the Continental Congress to represent the parish of St. John, that stood like an island of granite in the midst of the ocean, separate and alone, regardless of the waves of fury that were foaming around her. This example had a powerful influence upon the other parishes, and from this lump of the leaven of freedom the whole mass became impregnated, and, in July following, Dr. Hall had the proud satisfacfaction of seeing his province fully represented by men honest and true, save Judas Iscariot, alias Zubly. Georgia now rose like a lion when he shakes the dew from his mane for the fight, and "shed fast atonement for its first delay." To Dr. Hall may be justly attributed the first impetus given to the revolutionary ball in the district of his adoption. As an enduring monument of praise to the portion of the district in which he resided, which was formed into a new county in 1777, it received the name of LIBERTY.
On the 13th of May this devoted patriot took his seat in that august assembly that then attracted the attention of the civilized world. He was hailed as a substantial and devoted friend of the cause of human rights, and immediately entered upon the important duties of his station, enjoying the full fruition of the light of patriotism that illuminated that legislative hall. He was a valuable man upon committees, and although not a frequent speaker, he was heard, when he did rise, with deferential attention. He reasoned closely and calmly, confining himself to the point under consideration, without any effort to shine as an orator. His known patriotism, decision of character, purity of purpose and honesty of heart, gave him a salutary influence that was sensibly felt, fully acknowledged and discreetly exercised. He gained the esteem, respect and confidence of all the members.
In 1776 he took his seat in the national legislature, and became decidedly in favour of cutting loose from the mother country. He had induced his own district to present an example in miniature, which stood approved, applauded and admired. He knew the justice of the cause he had espoused-he believed Providence would direct its final accomplishment-he was fully convinced that the set time had come for his country to be free. With feelings like these, he hailed the birthday of our independence as the grand jubilee of liberty. He cheerfully joined in passing the mighty Rubicon, aided in preparing the sarcophagus of tyranny, signed the certificate of the legitimacy of the new-born infant and responded heartily to its baptismal name
Dr. Hall was continued in Congress to the close of 1780, when he took his final leave of that body, and in 1782 returned to his own state to aid in systematizing the organization of her government. In common with many of the patriots, the enemy had devastated his property and wreaked a special vengeance upon his district. His family had been compelled to fly to the north for safety, and depend upon the bounty of others for their support and comfort. In 1783 he was elected governor of Georgia, and contributed largely in perfecting the
superstructure of her civil institutions and in placing her on the high. road to peace and prosperity. This done, he retired from the public arena and settled in Burke county, where he once more was permitted to pursue the even tenor of his ways and enjoy the highest of all earthly pleasures the domestic fireside, surrounded by his own family. He glided down the stream of time calmly and quietly until 1790, when he bade a last farewell to the transitory scenes of earth, entered the dark valley of death, and disappeared from mortal eyes, deeply mourned and sincerely lamented by his numerous friends at home, and by every patriot in his country. His name is perpetuated in Georgia by a county being called after him, as a tribute of respect for his valuable services.
The examples of this good man are worthy of imitation. Without the luminous talents that tower to the skies in a blaze of glory that dazzles every eye, he rendered himself substantially and extensively useful. He was like a gentle stream that passes through a verdant mead, producing irrigation in its course without overflowing its banks. Decision of character, prudence of action and discretion in all things, marked his whole career. Not a stain tarnishes the lustre of his public fame or his private character. He lived nobly and died peacefully.
A FEDERAL republican form of government is an unlimited partnership of the purest, noblest character. Based upon an equality of original stock, an equality of interest in the welfare of the firm devolves upon each individual of the compact. Unlike monopolizing corporations, each stockholder has an equal right to act, speak and vote upon all questions in primary meetings, without reference to the number of accumulative shares one may hold above another. The specie of the firm consists in equality of representation, equality of natural rights, equality of protection in person and property, and equality of personal freedom. These precious coins cannot be diminished in quantity, or be reduced in quality by alloy, without courting danger. To aid in preserving them in their native purity, is the duty of all, not of a few. Separately and collectively, the great mass belongngto the compact is obligated to look to its prosperity, and use their best exertions in promoting the general good. Each one is bound to bring every talent into use, and to leave none buried in the dark quarry of ignorance, the quagmire of negligence, or the rust of inertness. The steward that had but one talent, was condemned because he had not put it to But who can tell what his talents are, until he brings them to the light? Rich ores often lie deep. Many men have arrived to, and others passed their majority, moving in a sphere not above mediocrity