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Introductory Essay, 5 

Roger Sherman, 63 

Christian Gottlob Heyne, (of Gottingen,) 76 

William Whipple, 83 

Alexander Murray, 85 

Stephen Hopkins, 100 

Professor Lee, 104 

William Gifford, •- • • 1 10 

Thomas Baldwin, 121 

David Rittenhouse, 131 

Samuel Huntington, 146 

William Edwards, 151 

Thomas Scott, 158 

Lott Gary, 179 

John Opic, 191 

Nathaniel Smith, 202 

John Godfrey Von Herder, 206 

Giovanni Battista Belzoni, 210 

William Caxton, 216 

Richard Baxter, 225 

Arthur Young, 237 

Charles G. Haices, 244 

Carsten Niebuhr, • -250 

Jonas Kmg, 273 

Humphrey Davy, 290 

Adam Clarke, 305 

Count Rumford, ^Benjamin Thompson,) 310 



Nathaniel Bowditch 325 

James Cook ^ 371 

William Falconer 406 

John Hunter 415 

Nathan Smith 427 

James Ferguson 436 

James Watt 446 

Eli Wliitney 468 

John Lcyden 490 

Kobert Stephens 507 

Henry Stephens 511 

Benjamin West 516 

Peter Horberg 535 

Alexander Wilson 549 

Robert Bloomficld , 570 

Isaac Milner 584 

Sir William Jones 594 

Patrick Henry , 614 


The future history of the United States is a 
subject of deep interest. We are come to a very 
important period in our course. The strength 
of our political system is beginning to be tried. 
The tendencies of our institutions are becoming 
apparent. The elements which form a general 
national character, are combining and coalescing. 
It is emphatically a day of trial. Every thing is 
subjected to a rigid scrutiny. Merely prescriptive 
rights are abandoned. Reliance upon authority 
is given up. Such being the condition of the 
country, it is not an inappropriate question, What 
is to be done? There are local divisions, civil 
strifes, rival religious denominations, great ques- 
tions pending in political economy, interesting 
relations with other portions of the world, and 
boundless resources for good or evil. What then 
are the duties which devolve on the American 
citizen ? 



It is very obvious, in the first place, that in the 
passion for novelty and change, we are to see that 
we do not give up any thing Avhich is truly valu- 
able. "We ought to remain firm on those great 
principles of politics and education, morals and 
religion, which have been tried, and have not 
been found wanting. There is little danger in 
this country of a too pertinacious attachment to 
old systems. The hazard is all on the other side. 
The love of innovation is vastly an overmatch for 
a blind regard to authority and antiquity. In 
detaching ourselves from what is absurd and er- 
roneous in former opinions, we shall, without great 
circumspection, abandon the true with the false, 
and shall soon find ourselves on an unknown sea, 
without any experience from the past, or guide 
'for the future. As an instance in point, I might 
I allude to the excessive simplification in books of 
education, relieving the student from the necessity 
of patient attention, and of thorough and discrimi- 
nating habits of thought. 

Another duty of great importance is, to induce 
a more fervent and general cooperation of the 
advocates of sound principles, in the diffusion of 
their opinions. There is little concentrated sym- 
pathy and fellow-feeling among the friends of man. 
They have not learned the power of associated 
efibrt. They do not act in masses. This trait in 


our character is principally owing to two reasons. 
"We have no capital city. "We have no acknowl- 
edged metropolis of letters or influence. There 
is no London, to which all the provincial towns 
willingly bow in homage. The tendency of our 
republican institutions is such, also, as to prevent 
an embodied and powerful action of the friends of 
virtue. Our freedom of thought and indepen- 
dence of character we sometimes carry to an 
extreme. We are better as private citizens than 
as members of a commonwealth. It is not true 
that the state of public morals and virtue is as 
elevated as that of the individuals who compose a 
community, "We do that in a collective capacity, 
which we should not dare to do as friends or 
neighbors. Conscience, and the faith of solemn] 
compact, are often voted away, when personal! 
honor, or a mere verbal engagement, are sacredly j 
remembered and redeemed. "When a great prin-| 
ciple is at stake, we must learn to dismiss all 
minor differences, to forget all local attachments, 
to abjure utterly every selfish consideration. 
"What is a party, what is a religious denomination, 
when a fundamental law of right or justice is at 


Intimately connected with the preceding remark, 
is the undoubted truth, that questions of political 
economy are to be viewed far more than they 


have been in this country, in connection with the 
operations of the providence of God. "What 
volumes of ingenious speculation have been 
wasted in this captivating science, simply because 
the authors did not, or would not, look at the ar- 
rangements of the Power that ruleth over all. 
It is not pretended but that there are great and 
intrinsic difficulties in shaping a system of com- 
mercial intercourse, among the different parts of 
this country, and between the United States and 
foreign nations. Still it may be safely asserted, 
that one half of the vexation and trouble which 
have been experienced, would have been avoided, 
if our legislatoi*s were all Christian economists. 
The Author of nature, and of nations, did not 
leave the great subjects of internal or inter- 
national commerce in such profound doubt and 
mystery as is now thrown around them. He has 
made all the parts of a country mutually depend- 
ent upon each other, on purpose to counteract the 
selfishness of men. To promote the prosperity 
of one division of the United States, at the ex- 
pense of the happiness of any other portion, is 
adopting certain means to ruin the whole. The 
unnatural growth of one empire is as certainly 
destructive to itself as it is to that land from 
which it has subtracted its wealth. Men cannot 
be politicians, in the best sense of the word, with- 


out adoi^ting the principles of the Bible. The 
book of Proverbs, and the sermon on the Mount, 
contain the elements of the best political economy 
which was ever devised. They inculcate what is 
of immeasurable importance in the intercourse of 
nations — enlargement of mind, and comprehen- 
siveness of view, and clearness and power of 
conscience. These would settle questions of for- 
eign intercouse and domestic improvement, with 
far more certainty and safety than the volumes 
of Adam Smith, or the statistics of Seybert or 
Pitkin. Here, then, is a great duty to be per- 
formed. Those same elevated and Christian 
principles are to be carried into all the duties of 
the statesman, which have been so happily intro- 
ducexl into some of the departments of criminal 
jurisprudence and penitentiaiy discipline. 

It is very evident, moreover, that great efforts 
are required to maintain the due ascendency of 
mind over matter. The accumulation of wealth 
is the object which absorbs the attention of all 
classes of our community. Almost the entire 
population of the country are earnestly engaged 
in the development and employment of the 
physical resources of the nation. There is a 
boundless selfishness — a restless and unappeasa- 
ble desire to amass riches. This is the general 
theme of conversation in the public stage-coach ; 


it is the reiterated topic of recommendation in 
official documents ; it is the foundation of ii-rita- 
ting comparisons between different portions of the 
country ; it causes the desecration of tlie ever to 
be hallowed Sabbath ; it stimulates the waking 
hours and animates the dreams of the private 
citizen. Mammon is the god of this country. 
The attainment of wealth is pursued, not as a 
/means, but as an end. Our government does not 
\ employ the abundant resources of the nation, in 
I extending the boundaries of science and of civil- 
I ization, but rather in the purchase of more land. 
Individuals, as a general thing, do not amass 
wealth for the sake of becoming Maecenases, or 
Thorntons, or Boudinots, but for some personal 
and selfish consideration. Now this insatiate 
worldliness ought to be counteracted. A power- 
ful weight should be thrown into the opposite 
scale. Our country is ruined if it becomes too 
prosperous. "Wealth, with all its concomitants 
and adjuncts, will not save us. Rocky coasts and 
rough fields, with virtuous hearts, are a richer 
inheritance than the golden mines of both hemi- 
spheres. It is the extension of the empire of 
mind which we need. It is the cultivation of the 
domestic graces and accomi^lishments. It is in- 
tellectual and moral glory, after which we must 
aspire. We must attain the enviable honor of 


being an intellectual and religious nation. In 
renouncing the crowns and coronets, the pomps 
and vanities, of the old woi-ld, let us not devote 
oui'selves to that which is infinitely more sordid. 

This leads me to remark, that we are called to 
the work of educating an innumerable multitude 
of minds. Popular instruction, in its most com- 
prehensive import, is to be the theme of absorb- 
ing interest. Connected with this subject, are 
questions of very wide application, which have 
been hardly considered yet. We are to provide 
means for extending the benefits of education to 
the extremities of society, to a scattered and ever 
emigi-ating population. We are to devise the best 
methods for combining legislative supervision 
and patronage, with private munificence. The 
philosophy of education is to be studied and taught 
as a practical science. Books, in all the depart- 
ments of education, are to be written by those 
who are intimately acquainted with the laws of 
the human mind. In short, a vast population are 
not only to have instruction communicated to 
them, but are to be inured to habits of self-educa- 
tion, and to be intrusted with the power of elevat- 
ing themselves indefinitely in the scale of im- 

Once more, a national Christian literature is to 
be created in this country. There is a period, or 


there are periods, in the history of every nation 
when the great currents of thought receive their 
direction, when the organs of intellectual life 
begin to move. Of what immense benefit had it 
been to England in all subsequent ages, if her 
Elizabethan era had been a Christian era ; if the 
great men who then toiled in the fields of knowl- 
edge, had all been Boyles and Miltons. How 
diffei'ent would have been the destiny of France, 
if her literary men of the age of Louis XIV., 
had aJl been Pascals and Fenelons ; if that gor- 
geous constellation of intellect had been temper- 
ed with the mild beams of Christianity. How 
bright would have been the pages of her now 
blood-stained history! The great lesson which 
these facts teach us, is to seize the favorable mo- 
ment — to preoccupy the ground. Our state of 
probation, in this respect, is not past. With a 
few exceptions, we have now no literature. We 
have nothing which can be called a National 
Literature. It is yet to be created. Those great 
controlling influences, which lift themselves into ' 
the upper firmament of thought, which are like 
the polar light, always visible, and always to be re- 
garded, are yet to be collected together. Though 
there are scattered rays of light every where, 
yet they have not been concentrated into reigning 
and radiant orbs. The fourth day is not come. 


A great object, therefore, an ultimate object, to 
be kept in view in this country, now and forever, 
is the highest possible cuUivation of science and 
literature in connection with religion. It is an 
object vast enough for the concentration of every 
energy, physical, and mental, and moral, which 
God has given to us. Here may be exhibited a 
vigor of intellect, a purity of taste, a strength and 
fervor of religious feeling, all in delightful com- 
bination, such as the old world has never yet seen. 
Now is the time. We have separation enough 
from the other continents. We have ample 
sphere. We have no need to engrave our dis- 
coveries on columns of stone, to be wearily deci- 
phered by some subsequent age. We may 
spread them out before a great people. We may 
write them on ten thousand living and breathing 

Another very important object is, to turn to the 
best account the triumphs of the Christian reli- 
gion, which so mark the years that are now pass- 
ing over us in this country. These exhibitions of 
the grace and power of the Redeeming Saviour, 
may be attended with vast collateral benefits, if 
they are regarded with that importance which 
they deserve. When the powers of the world to 
come are visible, when there is an awakened and 
tender conscience and clearness of perception, 

14 uttkoductort essay. 

when men feel deeply that they are spiritual and 
immortal beings, then is a most favorable time to 
make sure of other great interests. The moral 
sense may be brought to bear on the whole circle 
of duties. Liberality of feeling and comprehen- 
Biveness of mind may be successfully inculcated. 
The individuals in question, may learn to look on 
themselves as the subjects of a new and gloi'ious 
economy, where they can breathe a fresher air, 
and obtain occasional glimpses of the higher 
abodes, where dwell their elder and more favored 
brethren. The simple personal safety of an indi- 
vidual, is not the only or the great object in view, 
in these days of the Redeemer's victories. Why 
should not the sphere of human sympathy be en- 
larged ? Why should not fresh charms be thrown 
over the whole aspect of human society ? Why 
should not the genial influence pervade all the 
intercourse of men ? Why should not revivals 
of Christianity exert a strong influence on the 
purity of civil elections, on the sacredness of 
judicial proceedings, on the contracts of com- 
merce, and on the durability of a republican 
government? The genuineness of that religion 
may well be questioned, which does not moderate 
the heat of party zeal, which does not diffuse 
itself into all the departments of civil life, — in 
short, which does not make men real philanthro- 
pists, pure and incorruptible patriots. 


But in order to fulfil these great trusts, and to 
accomplish these high purposes, we must bring 
some new powers into the field. A hitherto 
unknown agency must be employed. All the 
ordinary and accustomed means of changing 
public opinion, are not sufficient. We have not 
men enough, of the proper description, in this 
country. A new order of cultivated intellect is 
greatly needed. A limited number of eminent 
scholars, such as Alexandria, and Athens, and 
London in the days of Anne, contained, is not 
demanded. A multitude of learned men in the 
abstract sciences, such as Paris and some of the 
German cities embrace, would not accomplish 
the work. Neither would the parish schools and 
universities of Scotland supply the deficiency. 
They nurture metaphysical acumen, and strength 
of reasoning, indeed, but frequently at the ex- 
pense of benevolent feeling and religious princi- 
ple. Neither are the excellent common school 
systems of the northern States of this country, 
however great the blessings which they diffuse, 
equal to the enterprise to be accomplished. 

A class of men which will be fully adequate to 
the exigency, may be found in great numbers in 
this country. They compose the young men who 
have vigor of body, great strength and firmness of 
character, an ardent desire to acquire knowledge, 
a disposition to employ their powers in the diffusion 


of knowledge, with little or no pecuniary resources. 
They constitute a portion of the members of our 
colleges. Probably from fifty to seventy-five 
thousand of this class of young men, are pursuing, 
with various interest, the study of the sciences 
and of literature, at the lyceums, which are hap- 
pily extending into all parts of the country. 
Several thousand more are engaged in a course 
of study which is habitually connected with 
manual labor. A still smaller class, but amount- 
ing to nearly two thousand, are under the patron- 
age of various societies for the promotion of 
ministerial education. So that in all the classes 
enumerated, there are, doubtless, at least one hun- 
dred thousand young men in the United States, 
who are in a course of self-education. 

In this description of young men, there are 
materials of great value, which may be fashioned 
and moulded for important public service. No 
other nation on earth is possessed of such a 
treasure. This country is comparatively new. 
There is not, as in Europe, a multitude of large 
estates, which can furnish abundant means of 
education to the sons of a family. The popula- 
tion, in many parts of the land, is migatory also. 
Of course, the ancient seats of learning are left 
behind. Opportunities for a finished education 
cannot be obtained for many years after the first 


settlement of a country. Besides, the population 
increases with such rapidity, that all the ordinary 
means for providing facilities for thorough mental 
discipline, are entirely inadequate. Such being 
the condition of things in this country, it follows 
almost of consequence? that there will be a class 
of men such as I have described, — of firm nerve, 
of aspiring hope, of powerful understanding, but 
not in possession of the means of pursuing an 
uninterrupted course of mental improvement. If 
they have the benefit of teachers, it is only at in- 
tervals. If taught at all, they must in a great 
measure teach themselves. They are compelled 
to rely on their own resources. That this class 
of young men is large, and capable of conferring 
great benefits on the country, no one can doubt. 

They possess some peculiar advantages over all 
other classes of men. They have confidence in 
their own power, Whatever of character they 
possess has been tried in the school of severe dis- 
cipline. They have breasted the billows, in a great 
measure, alone. Others have had their doubts 
resolved by teachers. In the final resort, they 
have depended on foreign and auxiliary aid. 
Their own powers have been tasked for a while, 
but the last weight has been lifted up by the 
shoulders of others. A clearer eye has penetrat- 
ed the dark cloud for them. It is sometimes the 


fact, that an individual vfho has been taught by 
others, has more confidence in the opinion of every 
one else, than in his own. As a direct conse- 
quence, he is wavering, timid, pliable. His char- 
acter is not compacted and assimilated, but yield- 
ing and capricious. His usefulness is of course 
greatly diminished. But the men of whom I 
speak, have measured their powers. They have 
depended very little on extraneous aid. 

Another attribute of this class of individuals, is 
independence of purpose. They are accustomed 
to form opinions according to the decisions of 
their own judgments. They are like that de- 
scription of lawyers, who have deeply studied the 
elementary principles of their profession, who 
have follow^ed out these principles into all their 
ramifications, and who come to conclusions, which 
are, in a great measure, iiTespective of particular 
facts — facts which may coincide, or may not, 
with an original principle. Such lawyers are in- 
dependent, in a great degree, of precedents, or of 
the opinion of courts. By severe thought and 
well-directed study, they have formed an inde- 
pendent habit of judgment. Such is the fact 
with those individuals who have been self- 
instructers. They may err in opinion, and their 
purposes may be formed on insufficient grounds ; 
but they are not accustomed to bow to human 


authority, nor yield their free agency at the call 
of party or sect. 

Many of this class have, moreover, an invinci- 
ble perseverance. The resoluteness with which 
they resolve, has a counterpart in the untiring 
execution of their schemes. Difficulties only 
excite a more ardent desire to overcome them. 
Defeat awakens new courage. Affliction nour- 
ishes hope. Disappointment is the parent and 
precursor of success. A resolution so strong is 
sometimes formed, that it seems to enter into the 
nature of the soul itself. It swallows up the 
whole man, and produces a firmness of determina- 
tion, an iron obstinacy of pursuit, which nothing 
but death can break down. 

I have seen an individual commence a course 
of preparatoiy studies for a liberal education. 
Weakness of sight compelled him to suspend his 
labors. After a season of relaxation, he resumed 
his books, but the recurrence of the same disorder 
induced him to abandon the pursuit. He then 
assumed the duties of a merchant's clerk ; but the 
same inexorable necessity followed him. He 
entered into the engagements of a third profes- 
sion, with as little success as before. But he was 
not discouraged. An unconquerable determina- 
tion took possession of his soul, that, come what 
would, he would not despair. In the merciful 


providence of that Being who " helps those who 
help themselves," he was directed to the manu- 
facturing of a certain article which was new in 
that part of the United States, and liis labors 
were rewarded with entire success. In a few 
years, he became one of the most affluent indi- 
viduals in his vicinity. 

The following facts in relation to a gentleman, 
who is now a distinguished professor iu one of 
the American colleges, will afford an excellent 
illustration for my purpose. The father of the 
individual alluded to, was a poor but intelligent 
man, gave his children a good common education, 
and also to some extent the privileges of an 
academy, which was situated in his native town. 
The occupation of the son was that of husbandry, 
especially during the summer months, being em- 
ployed by some neighboring farmer, as his father 
did not own a farm. Early in life he acquired a 
taste for mathematics, and never afterwards did 
he advance so rapidly in geometry and the kind- 
red studies, in the same number of hours' appli- 
cation to them, as in the evening after ten or 
twelve hours of hard labor in the field. Having 
obtained permission to see some of the astronomi- 
cal instruments belonging to the academy, he 
became particularly attached to practical astrono- 
my, though he could gain access only to elementary 


books. Having made an observation upon an 
eclipse of tbe sun, for the purpose of determining 
the longitude of the place, he commenced the 
work of resolving the problem with only the gen- 
eral directions and tables in the common books of 
navigation ; and although it cost him several 
months of severe study, he succeeded in obtaining 
a correct result, except the errors of the lunar 
tables. He did not engage in the study of Latin 
and Greek, until after he had been interested 
several years in mathematics, and then, mainly 
because he found that he could not otherwise be- 
come a teacher. While occupied in these studies, 
he supported himself in part by occasionally sur- 
veying land, and in part by undertaking the busi- 
ness of a carpenter, having discovered that this 
art depended on a few simple mathematical prin- 
ciples easily applied. The object which he now 
had in view, was to prepare himself to enter Har- 
vard college two or three years in advance. He 
was for the most part his own instructor. The 
minister of the parish rendered him some assist- 
ance ; but the whole amount of his recitations in 
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, philosophy, 
chemistry and natural history, during the whole 
course of his life thus far, has not been greater 
than the recitations in college for six months. 
Having looked forward with much pleasure to the 


privileges of a college, and having been nearly 
prepared to enter a junior class, a sudden termin- 
ation was put to his literary efforts, by the failure 
of his eyes, in consequence of applying too close- 
ly to the study of the Greek language, during a 
feeble state of health. For the following year, 
he was compelled to abandon reading and study 
almost wholly ; and from that time to the present, 
— a period of sixteen years, — he has rarely been 
able to read steadily, for one hour, without expe- 
riencing much and often severe pain in his eyes, 
sometimes threatening apoplexy. This affliction, 
though highly beneficial in its moral influence, 
was appai-ently fatal to all his literary plans; 
yet he could not quite abandon them. In order 
to obtain a subsistence, he soon after accepted the 
office of a deputy or assistant to the sheriff of the 
county. Feeling confident that he must entirely 
renounce the idea of obtaining a subsistence by 
literary efforts, and seeing nothing before him but 
a life of servile labor, he was induced to write and 
publish a dramatic performance of considerable 
length, with the hope that it would excite some in- 
terest in his favor, wherever his lot might fall.' 
The composition, though bearing the marks of 
inexperience, contains some passages of true 
poetic feeling, expressed in powerful language. 
Soon after this event, he was very unexpectedly 


invited to teach the academy m his native village. 
To acquit himself in this new sphere of duty, he 
made great efforts. He now gave particular at- 
tention to classical literature. Finding that his 
health had suffered severely from previous efforts, 
and from the consequences of the dreadful des- 
pondency through which he had passed, he was 
compelled to abandon mathematical and astro- 
nomical studies, though it was a most painful 
sacrifice. Providence, however, furnished a de- 
lightful substitute. Natural history then first 
attracted his attention, and he soon found that he 
could pursue this study, without injury to his 
eyes, and with benefit to his health, in the inter- 
vals of severer engagements. These pursuits 
introduced him to the acquaintance of a number 
of distinguished gentlemen, in various parts of 
the country, who rendered him very valuable 
assistance. About this time, the honorary degree 
of Master of Arts was conferred on him by Yale 
college. The only pecuniary ai4 which he ever 
received, during the course of his education, was 
ten or twelve dollars. Notwithstanding, when he 
entered on his professional duties, he had obtained 
a respectable library, and was free from debt. 
He is now in a station of great usefulness, and 
has accomplished several undertakings, which 
have conferred lasting benefits on the country. 


In the two words, industey and persevekance, 
is contained the secret of these results. With 
whatever original powers the Creator may have 
endowed him, they would have availed liim noth- 
ing, without an unbending resolution, and severe 
and unremitted application. His history affords a 
remarkable instance of the energy of a self-taught 
man. Those events, in the providence of God, 
which would have presented insurmountable ob- 
stacles to other individuals, were only an excite- 
ment to him to urge, with fresh impulse, his 
onward course. 

Another characteristic of self-taught men, is, 
that they commonly devote themselves to some 
important practical object. They do not waste 
their power in pursuing trifles. They do not 
generally engage in the departments of criticism 
and metaphysics, which are rewarded with little 
practical result. It is those who have ample 
means of subsistence and support, who are be- 
guiled into merely speculative regions, or who 
devote themselves to undertakings of moderate or 
of doubtful utility. The case is different with 
those who are dependent on their own efforts for 
everything. The first direction of their minds 
is not so much to the sciences as to the arts. Car- 
pentry in various forms, surveying of land, the 
manufacture of machinery, the construction of 


hydraulic engines, originally oifering themselves 
to their notice, gave a shape to their whole subse- 
quent life. It is to be attributed to this fact, 
doubtless, that self-taught men are distinguished 
for invention in the arts. Their necessities have 
given a readiness to their minds, enabling them 
to seize on those combinations of thought, from 
which discoveries of great importance have some- 
times followed. They have also that power of 
patient application, which is alike important to 
discovery. Causes, however, exist, in this des- 
cription of men, unfavorable to the development 
of new truths in the abstract sciences. 

Self-taught men have also the faculty of clear- 
ly communicating their knowledge to others. In 
this respect, they make excellent teachers. They 
have worked their own way up the steeps of 
knowledge, and they can point out the path in 
which they came. Their attention was not absorb- 
ed by the movements of their guide, for they had 
none. The various objects which they met, they 
clearly marked and defined. Whatever were the 
general principles which they adopted, they were 
not taken upon trust, but were well considered. 
These individuals may not be able to explain their 
progress logically, or scientifically, but they can 
do it intelligently, and to good purpose. They 
have, also, in a striking degree, the ability to em- 


ploy familiar illustrations. For the sake of throw- 
ing light upon their course,*they have not search- 
ed for the images of poetry, nor listened to the 
personifications of the orator; they have collected 
the apposite and graphic illustrations and facts, 
which common people can apprehend and relish, 
and which are gathered from the rocks and the 
fields, and from all the incidents of ordinaiy life. 
Arthur Young, the self taught English agricul- 
turist, was distinguished as an instructer, insomuch 
that La Fayette, and the Russian prince Galitzin, 
and the Russian emperor himself, intrusted lads to 
his guidance and care. Ko treatise on astronomy 
has ever been so popular, and deservedly too, 
among all descriptions of learners, as that of 
James Ferguson, who discovered some of the 
principles of mechanics before he knew that any 
treatises had been written on the subject. Sir 
Humphrey Davy was, perhaps, the most popular 
lecturer who ever addressed a British audience. 
This was owing not more to the enthusiasm of his 
character, and his perfect knowledge of his sub- 
ject, than to the clearness of his expositions, and 
the transparency and beauty of his illustrations. 

There are, notwithstanding these various excel- 
lences, several acknowledged deficiencies of char- 
acter. There are blemishes, both of an intellec- 
tual and moral kind, which are almost inseparable 


from a plan of self-education, and which are 
•worthy of distinct consideration. 

One of the most manifest defects is, wanf of 
comprehensiveness of mind. The special advan- 
tage of a teacher is, to point out the connections 
among the different arts and sciences, their relative 
importance, the natural order of studying them, 
and the evils of a disproportionate attention to 
any one of them. The general directions of a 
judicious teacher are invaluable. They are like 
a drawing of the heavens to direct the course of 
the youthful observer among the millions of stars. 
But a student, without the instructions of an 
experienced guide, will be liable to seize at once 
upon the parts of a subject, or upon the middle of 
a treatise, without ever having surveyed his 
ground, or marked its general bearings. He will 
thus expend his labor at unimportant points, or in 
a disproportionate degree. There will be little 
symmetry and scientific method in his studies. 
His labors will resemble those of a mechanic, who 
should place a well-finished door or window in the 
side of an old and dilapidated dwelling. He has 
an accurate acquaintance with one branch of a 
subject, while all around it is in disorder and de- 
formity. And here it is not to be supposed that 
he will gain a more thorough knowledge of a 
specific topic, in consequence of giving an exclu- 


sive attention to it ; and that this will atone for the 
loss of a general acquaintance with the subject. 
The study of Webber's Trigononietry will furnish 
as much discipline for the mind, if the student, 
before he commences his investigation, knows the 
general relations of the mathematical sciences, as 
if he had no such general knowledge. A greater 
amount of mental discipline can be acquired, by 
studying the sciences in their natural, scientific 
order, than by attending to them exclusively and 
at random. A self-taught man is frequently at- 
tached, with a kind of favoritism, to a particular 
study. It absorbs his whole attention, and all 
other arts or sciences are pi'oportionably under- 
valued and slighted. The distinguished painter, 
Hogarth, affected to despise literature, and indeed 
every species of mental cultivation, except the 
knowledge of the art of painting ; and he even 
professed himself to have little or no acquaint- 
ance with anything else. The celebrated, self- 
taught anatomist, Dr. John Hunter, was almost 
entirely ignorant of all learning, even with that 
connected with his own profession. It has been 
asserted, that it not unfrequently happened, that 
upon communicating a supposed discovery of his 
own to some one of his own more erudite friends, 
he had the mortification to learn thatthe same thing 
had already been discovered by some other well- 


known anatomist. Michael Angelo could scarce- ) 
ly spell his name correctly. Benjamin West, the S 
president of the Royal Academy for almost thirty : 
years, never attained to a style of ordinary cor- 
rectness in his orthography. The disadvantages 
of the want of an early education, can never, in- 
deed, be entirely overcome. There will always 
be lingering traces of the deficiency. It is like 
the acquisition of the pronunciation of a foreign 
language at a late period in life. The nice pecu- 
liarities and shades of sound, cannot, by any 
effort, be acquired. 

Self-taught men are specially liable to an ex- 
clusive attachment to pursuits which are obviously 
and immediately practical. There seems to be a 
general impression, that poetry, and the kindred 
branches of literature, furnish little else but 
amusement, and if read at all, can afford materi- 
als for recreation only in the intervals of imperi- 
ous duty. The tendency to judge in this manner 
can be accounted for, without any difficulty, from 
the circumstances in which self-educated men are 
placed, but the effects are very pernicious. Poe- 
try, in its best sense, is altogether a practical 
study. Its influence upon the whole mind of a 
reader, is, in the highest degree, favorable. As 
history is said to be philosophy teaching by ex- 
ample, so poetry is philosophy teaching by music 


It is good sense, pouring itself out in sweet sounds. 
It is powerful thought, uttering itself in the voices 
of angels. A true poet is a philosopher. Milton, 
and Wordsworth, and Coleridge, understand the 
phenomena of the human mind, as well as Male- 
branche, or Eeid, or Brown. They have the 
same capacities of wide generalization, and 
accurate analysis, and faithful exposition. To 
read such poets, is as directly conducive to useful- 
ness, as it is to read the ablest metaphysical 
treatise. We cannot avoid regretting that a man 
like Dr. Franklin, was not conversant with the 
best poets. It would have been no injury to his 
usefulness as a profound observer of human man- 
ners. Common sense and the loftiest imagination 
are perfectly coincident. The same man may 
condense his ideas into epigrams and proverbs, or 
pour them out in strains of the most vigorous and 
harmonious versification. It is recorded of him 
who " spake three thousand proverbs, that his 
songs were a thousand and five." He that was 
wiser than all the children of men, who so con- 
densed and embodied his thoughts as to make 
nearly every word instinct with sentiment, could 
delightfully sing, " the winter is past, the rain is 
over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, 
the time of the singing of birds is come, and the 
voice of the turtle is heard in the land." If 


Benjamin "West bad read Chaucer, and Spenser, 
and Milton, it would not have subtracted in the 
least from bis enthusiasm for bis favorite art, 
wliile, in a thousand ways, it would have aided 
his power of conceiving and of delineating on the 
canvass, the varieties of human character. It 
would also have relieved the " American " presi- 
dent of the Royal Academy, of the charge of 
being an illiterate man. John Opie, and Professor 
Heyne, and Sir Humphrey Davy, showed their 
good sense in nothing more than by an earnest at- 
tention to various branches of literature and 
science. It is not pretended that every man ought 
to attempt to become a universal scholar ; but that 
the highest excellence in any one pursuit, is incon- 
sistent with entire ignorance of science and liter- 
ature generally. Self educated men are pecu- 
liarly exposed to danger from this quarter; and 
instead of banishing works of taste and imagina- 
tion from the farm-house, and the lyceum, and the 
manual-labor school, they are the very productions 
which ought to meet with a welcome reception. 
It has been said, that very few, if any, discoveriea 
in the abstract sciences, have ever been made 
by men who have instructed themselves ; that the 
general advancement of knowledge is almost en- 
tirely to be ascribed to men who have received a 
regular education. The labors of Franklin, Kit- 


tenhouse, and others, may furnish some exceptions 
to this remark. Nevertheless, it is generally 
true, that prior to a particular discovery, an indi- 
vidual must take a Avide, general survey of the 
fields of knowledge, else he may fondly imagine 
that he has elicited some new truth, which may 
at length appear to have been long before discov- 
ered and classified. Original conception and in- 
ventive genius, are in perfect harmony with 
extensive acquisitions. He, who would advance 
in any department of knowledge, must know what 
others have done before him. Instead of decry- 
ing the models of taste and genius of other ages 
and countries, it is the wisdom of every man to 
study them patiently and thoroughly. This is not 
a degrading subjection to other minds, w-hich will 
cramp or annihilate genius. If ever there was 
an original author, it was John IMilton — he who 
"chose early and began late." But who does not 
know that Paradise Lost is the spoils of all times 
and of all countries ? If ever there was a univer- 
sal plunderer, if ever there was a boundless 
plagiary, it was this same John Milton. He 
searched the Jewish records, and the Christian 
economy. He opened the Talmud, and he peru- 
sed the Koran. He reveled in the fields of 
Achaia, and on the hill-sides of Judea. He lis- 
tened to the sweet music under Italian skies, and 


to the awful prophecies of the Druids. He drank 
alike of the Eurotas, and of that " stream which 
flows fast by the oracle of God." 

Another evil to which men of this class are 
liable is, what may be expressed by the term 
Hgidness of character. They sometimes acquire 
a fierceness of independeace, an extreme hardi- 
hood of spirit, which nearly destroys their social 
sympathies, and greatly subtracts from their use- 
fulness. They were themselves nursed in wiflds 
and storms. They trampled the most formidable 
difficulties under their feet, and smote into the 
dust every enemy which rose up against them. 
Some of them seemed to triumph over physical 
impossibilities, and to make the loss of one faculty 
or sense, the stimulus to push their remaining 
powers to the ultimate limit of perfection. Hence 
they infer that this same fortitude and fearlessness 
belongs, or should belong, to every other human 
being. Finding a deficiency of these stern quali- 
ties, they consider it as an offence almost unpar- 
donable. They do not have compassion on the 
erring and ignorant. They do not make suffi- 
cient allowance for human infirmity. They do 
not recollect, perhaps, those favorable conjunctures 
in the providence of God, of which they took ad- 
vantage, and which may not fall to the lot of others. 
Those, who have amassed large estates, by vigor- 


ous personal effort, are sometimes disposed to 
carry habits of economy to absolute avarice. 
Misers are frequently found among this class of 
men. "What is won with hardship is held Avith a 
tenacious grasp. Fortunes thus acquired will not 
be dissipated, at least till the second generation ; 
& generation which knows not the habits of their 
fathers. An individual, who has become affluent 
by his own exertions, may acquire habits of gen- 
uine philanthrophy, and in that case, is entitled 
to greater commendation, in consequence of the 
difficulties which he has overcome ; still there is 
ground to apprehend that his charities Avill be 
confined to one or two favorite channels, and that, 
in the multiplicity of the smaller incidents and 
occasions of life, he will be far from exhibiting 
genuine greatness of soul, or real philanthropy of 
feeling. From the veiy nature of the case, he 
will be disposed to ascribe an undue importance 
to the various contrivances and systems, which are 
intended to enable an individual, without pecuni- 
ary resources, to rise, by personal exertion, to 
spheres of usefulness and honor. 

Intimately connected with the deficiency of 
character just described, is the habit of over- 
estimating personal or other attainments. Self- 
confidence is frequently carried too fai". A great 
change in external circumstances, is always at- 


tended with imminent danger in the subject of it. 
Elevate a servant to a throne, impart at once 
large literary treasures to an ignorant and obscure 
individual, fill the house-of the poor man with 
wealth; and you take a most effectual way to 
imbue him with the spirit of arrogance and 
vanity. Julius Caesar Scaliger, the great critic, 
was a self-taught man, but guilty of the most ex- 
cessive affectation and pi*ide. Pie was contented 
to be called Bordoni, and the son of a miniature 
painter, till he was neai'ly fifty years old. He 
then composed an elaborate memoir of his own 
life, in which he pretended that he was the ^t 
surviving descendant of a princely house of Ve- 
rona. Bandinelli, an Italian sculptor, the son of 
a goldsmith, and a grandson of a common coal- 
man, having, in the course of his life, acquired 
great wealth, and having been created a knight 
by Chaiies V., is said to have repeatedly changed 
his name,^ in order to hide his parentage ; and to 
have fixed at last upon that by which he is gener- 
ally known, in order that he might appear to have 
sprung from a noble family. A similar anxiety to 
secure to himself the reputation of a name, was 
manifested by the great Spanish dramatist, Lopez 
de Vega. 

One of the especial benefits of a regular edu- 
cation, is to wear away or cut off these excres- 


cences of character. It is exceedingly difficult for 
an individual to retain in quiet possession, within 
the walls of a college, a great amount of self- 
conceit or vanity. He comes into contact with 
rough corners. He is speedily in collision with 
flint. Powerful minds will meet in fierce compe- 
tition, and sad will be his lot who brings into 
debate an unusual share of self-importance. Col- 
lege is a great leveler. Hence it is, that in the 
last sessions of a collegiate course, the real ad- 
vance can be measured by contrasting the accom- 
panying modesty and docility, with the opposite 
qualities, which are frequently visible at the earlier 
periods. At college, an individual will be com- 
pelled to learn what his real talents and attain- 
ments are. There is scarcely the possibility of 
deceiving several keen-eyed equals. There is very 
rarely an undue degree of sympathy or compassion 
in a classmate. But in the case of an individual 
who has educated himself, there is no class of men 
anywhere in his neighborhood, with which he can 
compare himself. He grows up alone. An innate 
vigor is the sap which nourishes him. All the in- 
dividuals of his acquaintance are, perhaps, clearly 
his inferiors. At the same time, his injudicious 
relatives may administer large draughts of flattery 
to his lips, till he becomes exceedingly wise in his 
own sight, and the wonder of the age which has 


produced him. As correctives of this very ob- 
vious evil, our public institutions are admirably 
adapted, and are, in fact, indispensable. 

To the numerous class of young men, in the 
United States, who are mainly dependent on their 
own resources for knowledge, or respectability, 
one of the most important counsels of wisdom, 
which can be addressed, is, study your own 
emerging from obscurity, and breathing the fresh 
air of an emancipated mind, and thirsting for im- 
provement, and occasionally catching some gleams 
of light from that undiscovered land of promise 
which lies in the distant horizon ; let not your 
fency, nor your excited feelings, lead you captive. 
Be calm and considerate. A wrong step now may 
blast your hopes forever. An imperfect estimate 
of the deficiencies of your character, may impede 
your course through your whole subsequent life. 
Be willing to know all the wrong habits which 
you have cherished, and all the weaknesses of 
your mind. Study your excellences also, so that 
you may not cultivate them disproportionately, 
nor yield to the influence of depression or despair, 
when you are tempted to place too low an estimate 
on your powers or acquirements. Be solicitous 
especially to understand what your physical con- 


stitution 13. so that you may make it subservient, 
from the beginning, to the most perfect action of 
mind and heart, so that all your capacities, intel- 
lectual and moral, may be safely, and to the high- 
est degree, developed. If there is an individual of 
your acquaintance, who knows your past history, 
ajid your mind, and who has gone through the 
course which you are commencing, let it be your 
object to gain from him a faithful analysis of your 
character, and an accurate chart of that path, of 
alternate storm and sunshine, which lies before 
you. If possible, find an experienced fi'iend, who 
has an enlarged mind and a liberal heart, and 
who has no exclusive and favorite study or system 
of his own. The counsels of such a guide will 
be inestimable. Next to the blessing of the Al- 
mighty, they will ensure success. When all this 
is done, form a calm and deliberate determination 
that you will take that path, come what may, 
which will secure your highest happiness and use- 
fulness. Nourish that inflexible, that iron deter- 
mination in your heart, without which nothing 
will be achieved. 

In the second place, you will have occasion to 
guard against underrating knowledge. Learning, 
if it be thoroughly apprehended and digested, can- 
not be too highly esteemed. Mere acquisition of 
facts, indeed, without analysis and reflection, is 


positively injurious to the mind. Reading, un- 
attended with contemplation, will produce habits 
of aflfectation and pedantry. Nevertheless, those, 
who are most exposed in this respect, are men of 
literary leisure, or scholars by profession. You 
are liable to fall into the opposite error. Com- 
pelled by your circumstances to think, relying on 
the native resources of your own mind, you will 
learn to look disparagingly on the scholar of com- 
prehensive and ample attainment. But extensive 
acquisitions are perfectly consistent with profound 
original investigation. Reading the thoughts of 
others, will often awaken interesting and valuable 
trains of reflection. An active mind will assimi- 
late, or correct, or transform the views of the 
author whom he is reading. The very ability to 
peruse certain books, implies that the reader him- 
self has powei's of reflection and arrangement. 

Again, want of immediate success at the com- 
mencement of your studies, will, without great 
care, weaken your resolution, and interrupt your 
eflforts. You have, perhaps, come from the toils 
of a shop or farm, to the hall of science, and to 
the pursuits of the scholar. Habits of close in- 
vestigation cannot be acquired in a day. A wan- 
dering mind cannot be fixed without painful effort. 
Associations acquired in pursuits alien from 
science and taste, cannot be changed at the mere 


bidding of the will. Those lands of beauty and 
joy, which shall at length open to your view, are 
at the commencement of your course, shrouded in 
impenetrable clouds. Algebra and Plato are in- 
vested with their full charms only to the practised 
eye, and to the disciplined intellect. You need to 
fortify your mind with the strong convictions of 
duty. Hearkening invariably to the decisions of 
an enlightened conscience, and the dictates of 
sound reason, you will at length find that the path 
of enlarged thought, and of cultivated feeling, and 
of refined taste, is the path of pleasure. 

You will be under the necessity, moreover, of 
rendering all your efforts at manual labor, and in 
procuring a supply for your physical wants, sub- 
servient to a certain purpose — advancement in 
mental and moral power. They must be means, 
not an end. If you are preparing for either of 
the learned professions, or to influence public 
influence in any way, you must make all things 
subordinate to your purpose. It is not your object 
to become an ingenious mechanic, an efiicient 
merchant, or a practical farmer. Some individu- 
als, who are in a course of education, take more 
pleasure in the shop or on the farm, than in the 
study, and are more solicitous to be accounted 
skilful workmen than powerful scholars. It is the 
grand design, or it ought to be, of all manual-labor 


academies, to promote mental and moral improve- 
ment. The connection between the system of 
bodily exercise, in all its details, and literary pro- 
gress, should be manifest and prominent. The 
high cultivation and valuable products of a farm, 
or a garden, should not be the boast of these in- 
stitutions. They are but minor and secondary 
matters. It is the bearing of these things on the 
development of the mind, and of the heart, which 
should arrest the attention and be rewarded with 
the encouragement of every observer. If this 
object be overlooked, or manifestly neglected, 
manual-labor schools will be an utter failure, and 
there will be a universal return to the old sys- 
tems of mere literary study, without any attention 
to the physical wants. These schools, to be suc- 
cessful, must furnish better scholars than any 
others — men of more vigorous understanding, 
and of more mental discipline. Bodies of perfect 
symmetry, and of gigantic muscular strength, are 
worthless in themselves alone. This is a subject 
of great practical importance. If these institutions 
fail on any one point, it will be on this ; and for 
a very obvious reason. It is important to direct 
public attention prominently to the physical part 
of the arrangements, or that wherein the institu- 
tion differs from those conducted on the former 
plan, in order to secure a sufficient amount of 


public patronage. Consequently, the principal 
interest of the community will be concentrated 
upon that which is obviously of secondary impor- 
tance. Besides, every individual who engages in 
physical exercise of any kind, must feel a consid- 
erable degree of attachment to this exercise, if he 
designs to derive from it material benefit. This 
attachment, by a very common law of the human 
mind, may increase and become the master passion 
of his soul. 

In regard to such individuals, in the class of 
self-taught men, who devote their attention to any 
of the mechanic arts, or to either of the depart- 
ments in common life and business, though their 
particular pursuit is to engross their chief atten- 
tion, yet it is of great importance that they become 
thoroughly acquainted with the principles of their 
trade, and with the reasons of the rules according 
to which they daily practise. They should throw 
as much mind as possible into all wliich they un- 
dertake. The perfection of machmery, and the 
excellence of soils, are not the only objects of in- 
quiry. The thorough acquaintance with the phi- 
losophy of the art, the means of its advancement, 
and the ways in wliich it can confer the greatest 
possible benefits on mankind — these are the topics 
which will command the attention of an individual, 
in proportion as his views are expanded, and his 


feelings benevolent. No inconsiderable number 
of self-taught men have, in this way, conferred in- 
valuable benefits upon mankind. "Watt, Fulton, 
Whitney, Franklin and Davy, will be dear and 
cherished names, ages hence. 

Another class of individuals to whom I have 
alluded, are pursuing a partial course of self-edu- 
cation, at lyceums. They can devote to literary 
and scientific pursuits only a limited portion of 
time, perhaps simply the evenings of the Winter 
months. By associating all the young men and 
others in the town, and statedly meeting for the 
consideration and discussion of important subjects, 
very great benefits may be derived, provided the 
association can be made to exist for a suflficient 
length of time. It needs a principle of vitality. 
To secure any great degree of usefulness, perma- 
nence must be given to it. It is a voluntary asso- 
ciation, in the strictest sense of the term. But no 
object of much importance can be secured, without 
the feeling of responsibleness, or accountability, in 
some of the individuals concerned. A few lec- 
tures on the common and familiar topics of science, 
or on matters of local history, will be of little 
service. There must be a plan to secure a per- 
manent and enduring interest. As many indi- 
viduals as possible must be brought into fervent 
cooperation. New arrangements of subjects must 


be occasionally adopted. Foreign aid, whenever 
practicable, must be secured. A well chosen and 
constantly accumulating library must be obtained. 
And, what is, perhaps, of greater importance than 
anything else, all the members must have something 
to do. Personal participation is the great secret 
of exciting and maintaining a permanent interest 
in an undertaking. 

To the individual who will even cursorily look 
at the state of this country, or the history of in- 
dividual men, in comparison with the history or 
condition of any other country, it must appear 
fltrikingly obvious, that never were circumstances 
more favorable than among us for the develop- 
ment and employment of mind. In this country, 
character and influence can be gained by vigorous 
individual effort. The whole community are the 
spectators and judges of the advancement of every 
individual. No iron hand grasps a man as soo'n 
as he steps into the world, and shrivels him u*" 
■while another rises simply because he is kept down. 
No class in the community are raised by the con- 
dition of their birth, or by such adventitious cir- 
cumstances, above one half the minds around them. 
Free and fresh as the air which he breathes, each 
individual may start in the career of improvement. 
Nearly all the circumstances which are calculated 
to depress and dishearten, arise from extreme 


poverty and a very obscure parentage and birth- 
place, or else from personal considerations. But 
nothing short of absolute impossibility, in the 
providence of Grod, ought to deter any one from 
engaging in the pursuit of knowledge. Obstacles 
of fearful magnitude, and of almost every descrip- 
tion, have been overcome in innumerable instances. 
Have 3-ou been deprived of one of your senses ? 
Not a few have vanquished this impediment. The 
instance of Mr. Nelson, the late learned and classi- 
cal professor in Rutgers college, New Jersey, as 
detailed by Prof. Mc Vicar, in his Life of Griffin, 
is admirably in point. Total blindness, after a 
long, gradual advance, came upon him about his 
twentieth year, when terminating his collegiate 
course. It found him poor, and left him to all 
appearance both penniless and wretched, with two 
sisters to maintain, without money, without friends, 
without a profession, and without sight. Under 
such an accumulation of griefs, most minds would 
have sunk ; but with him it was otherwise. At all 
times proud and resolute, his spirit rose at once 
into what might be called a fierceness of inde- 
pendence. He resolved within himself to be in- 
debted for support to no hand but his own. His 
classical education, which, from his feeble vision, 
had been necessarily imperfect, he now determined 
to complete, and immediately entered upon the 


apparently hopeless task, with a view to fit him- 
self as a teacher of youth. He instructed his 
sisters in the pronunciation of Greek and Latin, 
and employed one or other constantly in the task 
of reading aloud to him the classics usually taught 
in the schools. A naturally faithful memory, 
spurred on by such strong excitement, performed 
its oft-repeated miracles ; and in a space of time 
incredibly short, he became master of their con- 
tents, even to the minutest points of critical 
reading. On a certain occasion, a dispute having 
arisen between Mr. Nelson and the classical pro- 
fessor of the college, as to the construction of a 
passage in Virgil, from which his students were 
reading, the professor appealed to the circumstance 
of a comma in the sentence, as conclusive of the 
question. " True," said Mr. Nelson coloring, with 
strong emotion; " but permit me to observe," added 
he, turning his sightless eyeballs towards the book 
which he held in his hand, " that in my Heyne 
edition it is a colon, and not a comma." He soon 
established a school for classical education. The 
boldness and novelty of the attempt attracted gen- 
eral attention ; the lofty confidence he displayed in 
himself, excited respect ; and soon his untiring as- 
siduity, his real knowledge, and a burning zeal, 
■which, knowing no bounds in his devotion to his 
scholars, awakened somewhat of a corresponding 


spirit in their minds, completed the conquest. His 
reputation spread daily, scholars flocked to him in 
crowds, and in a few yeax'S he found himself in 
the enjoyment of an income superior to that of 
any college patronage in the United States. Fer- 
nandez Isavarete, a distinguished Spanish painter, 
was seized with an illness, when only two years 
old, which left him deaf and dumb for life. Yet, 
in this state, he displayed, from his infancy, the 
strongest passion for drawing, covering the walls 
of the apartments with pictures of all sorts of ob- 
jects, performed with charcoal ; and having after- 
wards studied under Titian, he became eventually 
one of the greatest artists of his age. He could 
both read and write, and even possessed consider- 
able learning. Nicholas Saunderson, one of the 
illustrious men who has filled the chair of Lucasian 
professor of mathematics at Cambridge, England, 
when only two years old, was deprived by small- 
pox, not only of his sight but of his eyes themselves, 
which were destroyed by abscess. He was sent 
to the school at Penniston, early in life, and soon 
distinguished himself by his proficiency in Greek 
and Latin. He acquired so great a familiarity 
with the Greek language, as to be in the habit 
of having the works written in it read to him, 
and following the meaning of the author as if the 
composition had been in English ; while he showed 


his perfect mastery over the Latin, on many oc- 
casions, in the course of his life, both by dictating 
and speaking it with the utmost fluency and com- 
mand of expression. In 1728, he was created 
Doctor of Laws, on a visit of George II. to the 
university of Cambridge, on which occasion he de- 
livered a Latin oration of distinguished eloquence. 
He published an able and well-kno^vn treatise on 
algebra, a work on fluxions, and a Latin commen- 
tary on Sir Isaac Newton's Principia. His senses 
of hearing and touch were carried to almost in- 
credible perfection. The celebrated mathema- 
tician, Euler, was struck with bUndness in his 
fifty-ninth year, his sight having fallen a sacrifice 
to his indefatigable application. He had literally 
written and calculated himself blind. Yet, after 
this calamity, he continued to calculate and to dic- 
tate books, at least, if not to write them, as actively 
as ever. His Elements of Algebra, a work which 
has been translated into every language of Europe, 
was dictated by him when blind, to an amanuensis- 
He published twenty-nine volumes quarto, in the 
Latin language alone. The mere catalogue of his 
pubhshed works extends to fifty printed pages. At 
his death, he left about a hundred memoirs ready 
for the press. 

Have you wasted the early part of life, and are 
you now compelled to commence, if at all, a course 


of self-education in the later period of youth, or in 
middle age ? Let not this cii'cumstance, in the 
least degree, weaken your resolution. Nuiperous 
are the instances in which this difficulty has been 
overcome. Cato, the celebrated Roman censor, 
showed his force of character very strikingly, by 
learning the Greek language in his old age. At 
that time, the study of this tongue was very rare 
at Rome ; and the circumstance renders the deter- 
mination of Cato, and his success, the more re- 
markable. It was the first foreign language, also, 
which he had acquired. Alfred the Great, of 
England, had reached his twelfth year before he 
had even learned his alphabet. An interesting 
anecdote is told of the occasion on which he was 
first prompted to apply himself to books. His 
mother, it seems, had shown him and his brothers 
a small volume, illuminated or adorned in difierent 
places with colored letters, and such other embel- 
lishments as was then the fashion. Seeing it ex- 
cite the admiration of the children, she promised 
that she would give it to him who would first 
learn to read it. Alfred, though the youngest, 
was the only one who had the spirit to attempt to 
gain the prize on such conditions, at least it was 
he who actually won it ; for he immediately, as 
we are told, went and procured a teacher for him- 
self, and in a very short time was able to claim 


the promised rewai-d. When he came to the 
throne, notmthstiinding all his public duties and 
cares, ,and a toi'menting disease, which scarcely 
ever left liim a moment of rest, it was his custom, 
day and night, to employ his whole leisure time, 
either in reading books himself, or in hearing 
them read by others. He, however, reached his 
thirty-ninth year before he began to attempt 
translating anything from the Latin tongue. 

The French dramatist, Moliere, could only read 
and write very indifferently when he was fourteen 
years of age. Dr. Carter, the father of the cele- 
brated Miss Carter, had been originally intended 
for a grazier, and did not begin Ids studies till the 
age of nineteen or twenty. He eventually, how- 
ever, became a distinguished scholar ; and gave his 
daughters a leai-ned education. Joannes Pierius 
Valerianus was fifteen years old before he began 
to learn to read ; his parents, indeed, having been 
so poor, that he was obliged to commence life as a 
domestic servant. He became one of the most 
elegant scholars of his time. Van den Vondel, an 
honored name in Dutch poetry, and the author of 
■works which fill nine quarto volumes, did not com- 
mence learning Latin till his twenty-sixth year, and 
Greek not till some years afterwards. Like many 
others of the literati of Holland, he began life as 
a commercial man, and originally kept a hosier's 


shop at Amsterdam ; but he gave up the business 
to his wife, when he commenced his career as an 
author. He died in extreme old age, after having 
occupied, during a great part of his life, the very 
highest place in the hterature of his countiy. 

John Ogilby, the well known translator of 
Homer, was originally a dancing-master. 'He 
had apprenticed himself to that profession, on 
finding himself reduced to depend on his own re- 
sources, in consequence of the imprisonment of 
his father for debt. Having been prospered in 
this pursuit, he was very soon able to release his 
father, much to his credit, with the first money 
which he procured. When he had fairly estab- 
lished himself in Dublin, the rebellion of 1641 
commenced, and not only swept away all his little 
property, but repeatedly put even his life in jeop- 
ardy. He at last found his way back to London, 
in a state of complete destitution ; notwithstanding 
he had never received any regular education, he 
had before this made a few attempts at verse- 
making, and in his extremity he bethought him 
of turning his talent in this way to some account. 
He immediately commenced his studies, which he 
was enabled to pursue chiefly through the liberal 
assistance of some members of the university of 
Cambridge ; and although then considerably above 
forty years of age, he made such progress in Latin, 


that he was soon considered able to undertake a 
poetical translation of Virgil. This work make its 
appearance in the year 1650. A second edition 
of it was printed a few years afterwards, with 
great pomp of typography and embellishments. 
Such was its success, that the industrious transla- 
tor actually proceeded, although now in his fifty- 
fourth year, to commence the study of Greek, in 
order that he might match his version of the 
.^neid by others of the Iliad and Odyssey. In 
due time both appeared. In 1666, he was left, 
by the great fire of London, once more entirely 
destitute. With unconquerable courage and per- 
severance, however, he rebuilt his house and re- 
estabUshed his printing-press. He was now ap- 
pointed cosmographer and geographical printer 
to Charles II. He died at the age of seventy -six 

In the United States, there have been numerous 
instances of great sucqess in professional pursuits, 
which the individuals in question did not assume 
till a very late period in life. An eminent clergy- 
man in a New England city, toiled in one of the 
most laborious mechanical professions, till he was 
far in advance of that age when study is gener- 
ally commenced. He then pursued a regular 
academical and theological education, almost 
wholly dependent on his own resources. A geli- 


tleman, who is now at the head of one of the 
most flourishing of the American colleges, was 
employed on a farm as a hired laborer, till he 
was beyond that pex'iod when most students have 
completed their collegiate education. The sud- 
den rise of the waters of a neighboring river, 
which prevented him from proceeding to com- 
mence his labors on another farm, was the event, 
in the providence of God, which determined him 
to begin his preparation for college. A number 
of additional striking instances Avill be found in 
the course of this volume. A gi'eat amount of 
mind, and of usefulness, is undoubtedly wasted, 
by the belief that little can be accomplished, if 
an individual has suffered the first thirty years of 
his life to pass without improvement. Is it not 
an erroneous idea, that a man has reached the 
meridian of his usefulness, and the maturity of 
his powers, at the age of thirty-five or forty 
years ? Wliat necessity exists for prescribing a 
limit to the onward progress of the mind ? Why 
set up a bound at a particular time of life more 
than at another time ? Is there not a large num- 
ber of men, in this country, whose history would 
prove the contrary doctrine, — who have actually 
exhibited more vigor of intellect at fifty years of 
age, than at forty ? There are instances among 
the venerable dead, where the imagination even 


gathered fresh power to the close of a long life. 
That a majority of facts show that maturity of 
intellect is attained at the age of thirty-five years, 
is unquestionably owing, in some degree at least, 
to the influence of the opinion itself. It has 
operated as a discouragement to effort. 

Once more — are you called to struggle with 
the difficulties ai-ising from obscure parentage and 
depressing poverty ? Here multitudes have ob- 
tained most honorable triumphs, and have appa- 
rently risen in the scale of honor and usefulness 
in proportion to the depth of the penury or degra- 
dation of their origin. Laplace, a celebrated 
French mathematician and astronomer, and whom 
Dr. Brewster supposes posterity will rank next 
after Sir Isaac Newton, was the son of a farmer 
in Normandy. The American translator of his 
great work, the Mecanique Celeste, and who has 
added a commentary in which the amount of 
matter is much greater than in the original work, 
while the calculations are so happily elucidated, 
that a student moderately versed in mathematics, 
may follow the great astronomer with pleasure to 
his beautiful results — is entirely a self taught 
man. A distinguished benefactor of one of our 
principal theological seminaries, has risen from 
extreme poverty to the possession of great wealth 
and respectability. The same was the fact also 


with a former lieutenant governor of Massachu- 
setts, who, in the days of his highest prosperity, 
had none of that pride of fortune and haughti- 
ness of demeanor, which are sometimes conse- 
quent upon the unexpected acquisition of a large 
estate. Several of the most useful and respected 
citizens of the capital of New England, in the 
early part of their lives, were entirely destitute of 
all resources, except the strength of their own 
unconquerable resolution, and the favor of Provi- 
dence. The celebrated German metaphysical 
philosopher, Kant, was the son of a harness ma- 
ker, who lived in the suburbs of his native city, 
Konigsberg. He had hardly arrived at the age 
of manhood before he lost both his parents, who 
had never been able to afford him much pecuniary 
assistance. His own industry and economy, to- 
gether with some assistance which he received 
from his relatives, enabled him to continue his 
studies. His application was uncommonly great, 
and the results of it, numerous and extraordinary. 
He pubhshed a work on the Universal Natural 
History and Theory of the Heavens, or an Essay 
on the Constitution and Mechanical System of 
the . whole Globe, according to the Newtonian 
system. In this treatise he anticipated several of 
the discoveries of the asti'onomer Herschel. His 
principal metaphysical work, the "Critique of 


Pure Reason," produced an astonishing sensation 
through all Germany. He was appointed, in 
1778, professor of logic and metaphysics, in the 
university of Konigsberg. James Logan, the 
friend of William Penn, and for some time chief 
justice and governor of Pennsylvania, was early 
in life apprenticed to a linen-draper. Pre- 
viously to his thirteenth year, he had studied the 
Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages. In the 
sixteenth year of his age, having happily met 
with a small book on mathematics, he made him- 
self master of it, without any manner of instruc- 
tion. Having, also, further improved himself in 
Greek and Hebrew, he acquired the French, 
Italian and Spanish languages. Like William 
Penn, he was a warm and efficient friend of the 
Indians. He Avas a man of uncommon wisdom, 
moderation, prudence, of unblemished morals, and 
inflexible integrity. LomonosofF, the father of 
Russian literature, Avas descended from a poor 
■family in the government of Archangel. His 
father was a fisherman, whom he assisted in his 
labors for the support of his family. In Winter, a 
clergyman taught him to read. A poetical spirit 
and a love of knowledge were awakened in the 
boy, by the singing of the psalms at church, and 
the reading of the Bible. Without having re- 
ceived any instruction, he conceived the plan of 


celebrating the wonders of creation, and the great 
deeds of Peter L, in songs similar to those of 
David. He died in 1765. The Russian academy 
have published his works in six volumes, quarto. 
He wrote several treatises on grammar, history, 
mineralogy and chemistry, besides some of the 
best poetry in the language. Winckelman, one 
of the most distinguished writers on classic an- 
tiquitie and the fine arts, which modern times 
have produced, was the son of a shoemaker. His 
father, after vainly endeavoring, for some time, 
at the expense of many sacrifices, to give him a 
learned education, was at last obliged, from age 
and ill health, to retire to a hospital, where he 
was, in his turn, supported for several years in 
part by the labors of his son, who, aided by the 
kindness of the professors, continued to keep 
himself at college, chiefly by teaching some of 
his younger and less advanced fellow students. 
Bartholomew Arnigio, an Italian poet, of consid- 
erable eminence, who lived in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, followed his father's trade of a blacksmith, 
till he was eighteen years old, when he began, of 
his own accord, to apply to his studies ; and by 
availing himself of the aid sometimes of one 
friend and sometimes of another, prepared him- 
self at last for entering the university of Padua. 
Examples of this description it is unnecessary 


to multiply. The records of all the learned pro- 
fessions will show many instances admirably in 
point. Every legislative hall would furnish 
marked and illustrious specimens. The last de- 
gree of penury, the most abject occupations of 
life, have not presented an insurmountable obstacle 
to improvement. The aspiring mind will pass 
over or break down every impediment. Prisons 
cannot chain it. Dungeons cannot immure it. 
Racking pains cannot palsy its energy. Opposi- 
tion will only nurture its powers. The Pilgrim's 
Progress was written by a tinker in prison ; the 
Saint's Rest, on a bed of excruciating pain; 
the Apology for the Freedom of the Press, and 
the Ser'mons upon Modern Infidelity, in the'inter- 
vals of one of the fiercest diseases which ever 
preys upon man. Pascal, that sublime and uni- 
versal genius, equally at home in the most accu- 
rate analysis and in the widest generalization, 
was visited with an inexorable malady during the 
greater part of his life. Dr. "Watts, the sweet 
psalmist of ages yet to come, was as weak in 
body, as he was clear and powerful in intellect. 
On some occasions, it would seem, that the mind 
is conscious of its own independence, and asserts 
its distinct and unfettered existence, amidst the 
severest ills which can befall its frail and dying 


It is worthy of deep and careful consideration, 
whether our country does not demand a new and 
higher order of intellect, and whether the class, 
whose character I have been considering, cannot 
furnish a vast amount of materials. It is not 
piety alone which is needed, nor strength of body, 
nor vigor of mind, nor firmness of character, nor 
purity of taste ; but all these united. Ought not 
this subject to awaken the attention of our most 
philanthropic and gifted minds ? Ought not social 
libraries to be collected with this main purpose — 
to furnish stimulant to call forth all possible native 
talents and hidden energies ? Should not the 
lyceum lay hold of this subject in every village 
in our land ? Ought not the systems of disciphne 
and instruction at all our colleges, to be framed, 
and to be administered, with a distinct and de- 
clared regard to the benefits which self-taught 
genius, with the superadded effects of thorough 
instruction, can confer upon the millions of our 
country ? Every parent, and every instructer, 
should employ special means to bring his children 
or his pupils into such circumstances, and place 
in their way such books and other means, as will 
develop the original tendencies of their minds, 
and lead them into the path of high attainment 
and usefulness. Every educated man is under 
great responsibilities to bring into the light and to 


cherish all the talent which may be concealed in 
his neighborhood. Genius lies buried on our 
mountains and in our valleys. Vast treasures of 
thought, of noble feeling, of pure and generous 
aspirations, and of moral and religious worth, 
exist unknown — are never called forth to adorn 
human nature, and to bless and save mankind. 
Shall not an effort now be made to bring into ac- 
tion all the available intellect and piety in the 
country ? In the lapse of a few years, more than 
one hundred millions of human beings, on this 
continent, will speak the English language. To 
provide intellectual and moral sustenance for such 
an amazing population, requires an enlargement 
of thought and an expansiveness of philanthropy, 
such as has never yet been exhibited on our earth. 
One division of this country is as large as that 
realm over which Augustus Caisar swayed his 
sceptre, and which Hannibal tried in vain to con- 
quer. What immense tides of immortal life are 
to sweep over this country, into the gulf of eter- 
nity. We are called to think and to act on a 
grander scale than ever fell to the lot of man. 
This nation needs what was conferred on Solo- 
mon, " wisdom and understanding exceeding much, 
and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is 
on the sea-shore." How pitiable and how deplor- 
able are all the contests between political parties, 


and benevolent societies, and religious denomina- 
tions. While thus contending with one another, 
we are losing forever the favorable moment for 
effort ; and we are preparing to have heaped 
upon our heads the curses of an unnumbered pos- 
terity. We are the representatives of millions. 
We are acting for masses of human beings. To 
live simply as individuals, or as insulated beings, 
is a great error, and a serious injustice to our pos- 
terity. We must take our stand on fundamental 
principles. We must set those great wheels in 
motion, which, in their revolution, are to spread 
light, and life, and joy through the land. While we 
place our whole dependence on the goodness and 
the grace of the Ruler of the universe, we must 
act as those who recollect their origin at the Ply- 
mouth rock and from Saxon ancestry, and who 
are conscious of the high destiny to w'hich Provi- 
dence calls them. 

Let us come up to our great and most interest- 
ing work. Let us lift our eyes on the fields, 
boundless in extent, and white already to the har- 
vest. Here in this age, here in this new world, 
let the tide of ignorance be stayed ; let the great 
mass of American sentiment be thoroughly puri- 
fied ; let human nature assume its renovated 
foim, let'the flame of human intellect rise, and 
sweetly mingle ■with the source of all mental lighl 


and beauty ; let our character and labors be such, 
that we shall send forward to the most distant 
posterity, a strong and steady light. "We must 
take no middle ground. "\Ve must bring to the 
great work of illuminating this country and of 
blessing mankind, every capability of mind and 
of heart, which we possess — eveiy possibility 
of the power which Grod has given to us. 



" The self-tanght Sherman urged his reasons clear." 

Humphrey's Poems. 

Roger Sherman was bom at Newton, Mass., 
April 19, 1721. His great-grandfather, Captain 
John Sherman, came from Dedhara, England, to 
"Watertown, Massachusetts, about the year 1635. 
His grandfather, William Sherman, was a farmer, 
in moderate circumstances. In 1723, the family 
removed from Newton to Stoughton. Of the child- 
hood and eai'ly youth of Sherman, little is known. 
He received no other education than the ordinary 
country schools in IMassachusetts at that time 
afforded. He was neither assisted by a public 
education nor by private tuition. All the valu- 
able attainments which he exhibited in his future 
career, were the result of his own vigorous efforts. 
By his ardent thirst for knowledge, and his inde- 
fatigable industry, he attained a very commendable 
acquaintance with general science, the system of 
logic, geography, mathematics, the general princi- 
ples of history, philosophy, theology, and particu- 
larly lafl^and politics. He was early apprenticed 
to a shoemaker, and he continued to pursue that 
occupation for some time after he was twenty-two 


S years of age. It is recorded of him, that he was 
accustomed to sit at his work with a book before 
him, devoting to study every moment that his eyes 
I could be spared from the occupation in which he 
was engaged. During the Revolutionary "War, 
Mr. Sherman was placed on a Committee of Con- 
gress, to examine certain army accounts, among 
which was a contract for the supply of shoes. He 
informed the Committee that the public had been 
[defrauded, and that the charges were exorbitant, 
which he proved by specifying the cost of the 
leather and other materials, and of the workman- 
ship. The minuteness with which this was done, 
exciting some surprise, he informed the Committee 
that he was by trade a shoemaker, and knew the 
value of every article. He was sometimes ac- 
cused, but without justice, of being vain of the 
obscurity of his origin. From the distinguished 
eminence which he reached, he probably contem- 
plated with satisfaction, that force of mind and 
that industry, which enabled him to overcome all 
the obstacles which encompassed his path. For 
the gratification arising from such a contemplation, 
no one will be disposed to censure him. 

When he was nineteen years of age, his father 
died. His eldest brother having previously re- 
moved to New Milford, Connecticut, the principal 
charge of the family devolved on him. At this 
early period of life, the care of a mother, who 
lived to a great age, and the education of a nu- 
merous family of brothers and sisters, brought into 
grateful exercise his warm, filial and fraternal 
affections. The assistance subsequently afforded 
by him to two of his younger brothers, enabled 
them to obtain the inestimable advantages of a 


public education. He continued to reside at 
Stougliton about three years after the death of his 
father, principally employed in the cultivation of 
the farm, and in otherwise providing for the main- 
tenance of the family. Before he was twenty -one, 
he made a public profession of religion. He thus 
laid the foundation of his character in piety. That 
unbending integrity which has almost made his 
name synonymous with virtue itself, was acquired 
in the school of Christ and his apostles. Mr. 
Sherman used to remark to his family, that before 
he had attained the age of twenty-one years, he 
had learned to control and govern his passions. 
His success in these efforts he attributed, in a con- 
siderable degree, to Dr. Watts' excellent treatise 
on this subject. His passions were naturally! 
strong, but he had brought them. under subjection' 
to such a degree, that he appeared to be habitu- 
ally calm and sedate, mild and agreeable. All his 
actions seem to have been preceded by a rigorous 
self-examination, and the answering of the secret 
interrogatories. What is right? — What course 
ought I to pursue? He never propounded to 
himself the questions, Will it be popular ? — Plow 
will it affect my interest ? Hence liis reputation 
for integrity was never questioned. 

In 1743, he removed with the family to New 
IVIilford, a town near New Haven, Connecticut. 
He performed the journey on foot, taldng care to 
have his shoemaker's tools also transported. He 
there commenced business as a country merchant, 
and opened a store in conjunction with his elder 
brother, which he continued till after his admission 
to the bar, in 1754. He discontinued his trade as a 
shoemaker at the time this connection was formed. 


In 1745, he was appointed surveyor of lands for 
the county in which he resided. Astronomical cal- 
culations of as early date as 1748, have been dis- 
covered among his papers. They were made by 
him for an almanac, then published in New York, 
and which he continued to supply for several suc- 
cessive years. 

About this time, a providential circumstance led 
him to aspire after a higher station in life. He was 
requested by a friend to seek for him legal advice 
in a neighboring town. To prevent embarrass- 
ment and secure the accurate representation of 
the case, he committed it to paper as well as he 
could before he left home. In stating the facts, 
the lawyer observed that Mr. Shennan frequently 
recurred to a manuscript which he held in his 
hand. As it was necessary to make an application 
by way of petition, to the proper tribunal, he de- 
sired the paper to be left in his hands, provided it 
contained a statement of the case from which a 
petition might be framed. Mr. Sherman reluc- 
tantly consented, telling him that it was merely a 
memorandum drawn up by himself for his own 
convenience. The lawyer, after reading it, re- 
marked, with an expression of surprise, that, with 
a few alterations in form, it was equal to any pe- 
tition which he could have prepared himself, and 
that no other was requisite. Having then made 
some inquiries relative to Mr. Sherman's situation 
and prospects in life, he advised him to devote his 
attention to the study of the law. But his cir- 
cumstances and duties did not permit him at once 
to follow this counsel. The numerous family, 
which the recent death of his father had made, in 
a considerable degree, dependent on him for sup- 


port and education, required his constant exertions 
in other employments. But the intimation wliich 
he there received, that his mind was litted for 
higlier pursuits, no doubt induced him at that early 
period of life, to devote his leisure moments to 
tliose studies which led him to honor and distin- 
guished usefulness. 

At the age of twenty-eight years, he was married 
to Miss Elizabeth Hartwell, of Stoughton, Mass., 
by whom he had seven children. She died in 
October, 1760. Two of his children died in New 
Milfoi-d, and two after his removal to New Haven. 
In 1763, he was married to Miss Rebecca Pres- 
cott, of Danvers, Mass., by whom he had eight 

In May, 1759, he was appointed one of the 
justices of the court of common pleas for the 
county. He was for many years the treasurer 
of Yale college. From that institution he receiv- 
ed the honorary degree of Master of Arts. After 
success in some measure had crowned his efforts, 
he still continued to apply himself to his studies 
with the most unremitted dihgence. Encourage- 
ment, instead of elating him, only prompted him 
to greater effort. In the profession whicli he had 
chosen, perhaps more than in any other, men are 
compelled to rely on their own resources. Such 
is the competition, so constant is the collision of 
various minds, that ignorance and incompetency 
will surely be detected and exposed. 

In 1766, he was appointed a judge of the su- 
perior court of Connecticut. In the same year, 
he was chosen an assistant or member of the 
upper house of the legislature. The first office 
he sustiiined for twenty-three years, the last for 


nineteen years ; after wliicli a law was enacted 
rendering the two offices incompatible, and lie 
chose to continue in the office of judge. It is 
uniformly acknowledged by those who witnessed 
his conduct and abilities on the bench, that he 
discovei'ed in the application of the principles of 
law and the rules of evidence to the cases before 
him, the same sagacity that distinguished him 
as a legislator. His legal opinions were received 
with great deference by the profession, and their 
correctness was almost universally acknowledged. 
During the last four years in which he was judge, 
the late Chief-Justice Ellsworth was an associate 
judge of the same court ; and from the period of 
his appointment, in 1785, until the death of Mr. 
Sherman, a close intimacy subsisted between them. 
The elder president Adams remarks that, " It is 
praise enough to say that Mr. Ellsworth told me 
that he had made Mr. Sherman his model in his 
youth. Indeed, I never knew two men more 
alike, except that the chief-justice had the advan- 
tage of a liberal education, and somewhat more 
extensive reading." 

The period of our Revolutionary struggle now 
drew neai'. Roger Sherman, as it might have 
been expected, was one of the few who, from the 
commencement of hostilities, foresaw what would 
be the probable issue. He engaged in the defence 
of our liberties with the deliberate firmness of an 
experienced statesman, conscious of the magnitude 
of the undertaking, and sagacious in devising the 
means for successful opposition. 

In August, 1774, Mr. Sherman, in conjunction 
with Joseph Trumbull, Eliphalet Dyer and Silas 
Deane, was nominated delegate to the general 


congress of the colonies. He was present at the 
opening of the first congress. lie continued a 
member of this body for the long period of nineteen 
years, till his death, in 1793, whenever the law re- 
quix'ing a'rotation in office admitted it. In his new 
post of duty he soon acquired distinguished repu- 
tation. Others were more admired for popular 
eloquence, but in that assembly of great men there 
was no one whose judgment was more respected, or 
whose opinions were more influential. His vener- 
able appea:rance, his republican simplicity, the in- 
flexibility of his principles and the decisive weight 
of his character, commanded universal homage. In 
the fatiguing and very arduous business of com- 
mittees, he was indefatigable. He was always 
thorough in his investigations, and all liis pro- 
ceedings were marked by system. Among the 
principal committees of which Mr. Sherman was 
a member, were those to prepare instructions for 
the army in Canada; to establish regulations in 
regard to the trade of the United Colonies; to 
regulate the currency of the country ; to furnish 
supplies for the army ; to devise ways and means 
for providing ten millions of dollars for the ex- 
penses of the current year ; to concert a plan of 
military operations for the campaign of 1776; to 
prepare and digest a form of confederation ; and to 
repair to head-quarters at New York, and examine 
into the state of the army. 

On the 11th of June, 1776, in conjunction with 
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Frank- 
lin and Robert R. Livingston, Mr. Sherman was 
appointed on the committee to prepare the Dec- 
laration of Independence. The committee was 
elected by ballot. The Declaration, as it is well 


I known, was written by Jefferson. What amount 
* of influence was exerted by Sherman, in carrying 
the measure through the congress, is not certainly 
known. The records of the proceedings of that 
illustrious assembly are very imperfect. John 
Adams says of him, that he was " one of the 
soundest and strongest pillars of the Revolution." 
While he was performing the most indefatigable 
labors in congress, he devoted unremitting atten- 
tion to duties at home. During the AVar, he was' 
a member of the governor's council of safety. 

In 1784, he was elected mayor of New Haven, 
an office which he continued to hold during the 
remainder of his life. About the close of the 
War, the legislature of Connecticut assigned to a 
committee of two, the arduous service of revising 
the laws of the State. Mr. Sherman was one of 
this committee. In 1787, he was appointed, in 
conjunction with Dr. Samuel Johnson and Mr. 
Ellsworth, a delegate to the general convention 
to form the constitution of the United States. 
Among his manuscripts a paper has been found, 
containing a series of propositions, prepared by 
him for the amendment of the old articles of con- 
federation, the greater part of which are incor- 
porated, in substance, in the new constitution. In 
the debates in that convention, Mr. Sherman bore 
a conspicuous part. In a letter to Gen. Floyd, 
soon after, he says, " Perhaps a better constitution 
could not be made upon mere speculation. K, 
upon experience, it should be found to be deficient, 
it provides an easy and peaceable mode of making 
amendments. But, if the constitution should be 
adopted, and the several States choose some of 
their wisest and best men, from time to time, to 


administer the government, I believe it will not 
want any amendment. I hope that kind Provi- 
dence, which guarded these States through a dan- 
gerous and distressing war, to peace and liberty, 
will still watch over them, and guide them in the 
way of safety." 

His exertions in procuring the ratification of the 
constitution in Connecticut, were conspicuous and 
successful. He published a series of papers, over 
the signature of " Citizen," which, Mr. Ellsworth 
says, materially influenced the public mind in 
favor of its adoption. After the ratification of the 
Constitution, he was immediately elected a repre- 
sentative of the State in congress. Though ap- 
proaching the seventieth year of his age, he yet 
took a prominent part in the great topics of dis- 
cussion which came before congress. 

On the 1 1th of February, 1790, the Quakers 
presented an address to the house on the subject 
of the " licentious wickedness of the African trade 
for slaves." A long and violent debate occured on 
the propriety of its being referred to a committee. 
Some of the southern members opposed it with 
great vehemence and acrimony. Mr. Scott, of 
Pennsylvania, replied, in an eloquent appeal to the 
justice and humanity of the house. Mr. Sherman, 
perceiving that opposition would merely serve to 
inflame the already highly excited feelings of 
members, with his usual calmness, remarked that 
it was probable the committee would understand 
their business, and they might, perhaps, bring in 
such a report as would be satisfactory to gentle- 
men on both sides of the house. Mr. Sherman 
and his colleagues were triumphant ; forty-three 
members voting in favor of the commitment of the 
memorial, and eleven in opposition. 


Mr. Sherman uniformly opposed the amend- 
ments to the constitution which were at various 
time submitted to the house. " I do not suppose," 
said he, " the constitution to be perfect, nor do I 
imagine, if congi'ess and all the legislatures on 
the continent were to revise it, that their labors 
would perfect it." He maintained that the vnore 
important objects of government ought first to he 
attended to ; that the executive portion of it 
needed oi-ganization, as weU as the business of the 
revenue and judiciary. 

In 1791, a vacancy having occurred in the 
senate of the United States, he was elected to fill 
that elevated station. 

On the 23d of July, 1793, this great and ex- 
cellent man was gathered to his fathers, in the 
seventy-third year of his age. He died in full 
possession of all his powers, both of mind and 
of body. 

The most interesting lesson which the life of 
Mr. Sherman teaches us, is the paramount in\- 
portance of religious principle. His undeviating 
political integrity was not the result of mere pat- 
riotism, or philanthropy. He revolved in a high- 
er orbit. The volume which he consulted more 
than any other was the Bible. It was his custom 
to purchase a copy of the scriptures at the com- 
mencement of every session of congress, to peruse 
it daily, and to present it to one of his children 
on his return. To his familiar acquaintance with 
this blessed book, much of that extraordinary 
sagacity which he uniformly exhibited, is to be 
attributed. The second Pi-esident Edwards used 
to call him his " great and good friend, senator 
Sherman," and acknowledged, that, in the cencral 


course of a long and intimate acquaintance, he 
was materially assisted by his observations on the 
principal subjects of doctrinal and practical divin- 
ity. " He was not ashamed," says Dr. Edwards, 
"to befi-iend religion, to appear openly on the 
Lord's side, or to avow and defend the peculiar 
doctrines of grace. He was exemplary in attend- 
ing all the institutions of the gospel, in the prac- 
tice of virtue in general, and in showing himself 
friendly to all good men. With all his elevation 
and all his honors, he was not at all lifted up, but 
appeared perfectly unmoved. 

" That he was generous and ready to commu- 
nicate, I can testify from my own experience. 
He was ready to bear his part of the expense of 
those designs, public and private, which he es- 
teemed useful ; and he was given to hospitality." 
What an example is here presented for the youth- 
ful lawyer and statesman ! Would he rise to the 
most distinguished usefulness, would he bequeath 
a character and an influence to posterity " above 
all Greek or Roman fame," let him, like Eoger 
Sherman, lay the foundations in the fear of God, 
and in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Another most important practical lesson which 
we derive from the life of Mr. Sherman, is the 
the value of habits of study and meditation. He 
was not only distinguished for integrity, but for 
accurate knowledge of history and of human 
nature — the combined fruit of reading and re- 
flection. " He was capable of deep and long 
investigation. While others, weary of a short 
attention to business, were relaxing themselves in 
thoughtless inattention, or dissipation, he was em- 
ployed in prosecuting the same business, either 


by revolving it in his mind and ripening his own 
thoughts upon it, or in confening with others." 
While laboriously engaged in the public duties of 
his station, he had, every day, a season for private 
study and meditation. 

The testimonials to his extraordinary worth 
have been singulai-ly marked and unanimous. 

Among his correspondents were Drs. Johnson, 
(of Stratford,) Edwards, Hopkins, Trumbull, 
Presidents Dickinson and Witherspoon. Fisher 
Ames was accustomed to express his opinion by 
saying, " That if he happened to be out of his 
seat [in congress] when a subject was discussed, 
and came in when the question was about to be 
taken, he always felt safe in voting as Mr. Sher- 
man did, for he always voted right." Dr. Dwight, 
while instructing the senior class at Yale college, 
observed, that Mr. Sherman was remarkable for 
not speaking in debate without suggesting some- 
thing new and important. Washington uniformly 
treated Mr. Sherman with great respect and at- 
tention. Mr. Macon, a distinguished senator of 
the United States, once remarked to the Hon. 
William Reed, of Marblehead, that " Roger Sher- 
man had more common sense than any man he 
ever knew." The late Rev. Dr. Spring, of 
Newburyport, was returning from the South, 
while congress was in session at Philadelphia. 
Mr. Jefferson acompanied him to the hall, and 
designated several distinguished members of that 
body ; in the course of this polite attention, he 
f pointed in a certain direction, and exclaimed, 
)" That is Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, a man 
1 who never said a foolish thing in his life." Mr. 
Sherman was never removed from a single office, 


except by promotion, or by act of the legislature 
requiring a rotjition, or rendering the offices in- 
compatible with each other. Nor, with the 
resti'ictions alluded to, did he ever fail in his 
reelection to any situation to which he had been 
once elected, excepting that of representative of 
New Haven in the legislature of the State ; — 
which office, at that period, was constantly fluctu- 

It closing this biographical sketch, it is proper 
to add, that JMr. Sherman, in his person, was con- 
siderably above the common stature ; his form 
was ei'ect and well proportioned, his complexion 
fair, and his countenance manly and agreeable. 
In the relations of husband, father and friend, he 
was uniformly kind and faithful. He was natur- 
ally modest ; and this disposition, increased, per- 
haps, by the deficiencies of early education, often 
wore the appearance of bashfulness and resei've. 
In conversation relating to matters of importance, 
he was free and communicative. 

The legacy which Mr. Sherman has bequeath- 
ed to his countiymen, is indeed invaluable. The 
Romans never ceased to mention with inexpres- 
sible gratitude the heroism, magnanimity, con- 
tentment, disinterestedness, and noble public ser- 
vices of him who was called from the plough 
to the dictator's chair. His example was a light 
to all the subsequent ages. So among the galaxy 
of great men who shine along the tracts of our 
past history, we can scarcely refer to one, save 
Washington, whose glory will be more steady 
and unfading than that of Roger Sherman. 


Christian Gottlob Heyke, a distinguished 
scholar, was born Sept. 25, 1729, at Chemnitz, in 
Saxony, whither his father, a poor linen-weaver, 
had fled from Silesia on account of religious per- 
secutions. The family were often reduced to the 
miseries of the lowest indigence. In the Memoirs 
of his own life, Heyne says, " Want was the ear- 
liest companion of my childhood. I well remem- 
ber the painful impressions made on my mind by 
witnessing the distress of my mother when with- 
out food for her children. How often have I seen 
her, on a Saturday evening, weeping and wring- 
ing her hands, as she returned home from an 
unsuccessful effort to sell the goods which the 
daily and nightly toil of my father had manufac- 
tured." His parents sent hira to a child's school 
in the suburbs of the small town of Chemnitz. 
He soon exhibited an uncommon desire of acquir- 

fing information. He made so rapid a progress in 
the humble branches of knowledge taught in the 
school, that, before he had completed his tenth 
j year, he was paying a portion of his school fees 
( Dy teaching a little girl, the daughter of a wealthy 
j neighbor, to read and write. Having learned 
'everything comprised in the usual course of the 
school, he felt a strong desire to learn Latin. A 
son of the schoolmaster, who had studied at Leip- 
sic, w^as willing to teach him at the rate of four 
pence a week ; but the difficulty of paying so 


large a fee seemed quite insurmountable. One 
day he was sent to his godfather, who was a 
baker, in pretty good circumstances, for a loaf. 
As he went along, he pondered sorrowfully on the 
great object of his wishes, and entered the shop 
in tears. The good-tempered baker, on learning 
the cause of his grief, undertook to pay the re- 
quired fee for him, at which Heyne tells us he 
was perfectly intoxicated with joy ; and as he 
ran, all ragged and barefoot, through the streets, 
tossing the loaf in the air, it slipped from his 
hands and rolled into the gutter. This accident, 
and a sharp reprimand from his parents, who 
could ill aiibrd such a loss, brought him to his 
senses. He continued his lessons for about two | 
years, when his teacher acknowledged that he ] 
had taught him all which he himself knew. At ( 
this time, his father was anxious that he should ' 
adopt some trade ; but Heyne felt an invincible 
desire to pursue his education. He had another 
godfather, who was a clergj-man in the neighbor- 
hood ; and this person, on receiving the most flat- 
tering accounts of Heyne from his last master, 
agreed to be at the expense of sending him to the 
principal seminary of his native town of Chetn- 
nitz. His new patron, however, doled out his 
bounty with the most scrupulous parsimony ; and 
Heyne, without the necessary books of his own, 
was often obliged to borrow those of his compan- 
ions, and to copy them over for his own use. At 
last he obtained the situation of tutor to the son 
of one of the citizens ; and this for a short time 
rendered his condition more comfortable. But 
the period was come when, if he was to proceed 
in the career which he had chosen, it was neces- 


sary for him to enter the university ; and he 
resolved to go to Leipsic. He arrived, accord- 
ingly, in that city, with only about four shillings 
in his pocket, and nothing more to depend upon, 
except the small assistance which he might re- 
ceive from his godfather, who had promised to 
continue his bounty. He had to wait, however, 
so long, for his expected supplies from this source, 
— which came accompanied with much grudging 
and reproach when they did make their appear- 
ance, — that, destitute both of money and books, he 
would even have been without bread, too, had it 
not been for the compassion of the maid-servant 
of the house where he lodged. " What sustained 
my courage in these circumstances," he remarks, 
" was neither ambition, nor presumption, nor even 
the hope of one day taking my place among the 
learned. The stimulus which incessantly spurred 
/Tue on, was the feeling of the humiliation of 
(my condition, — the shame with Avhich I shrank 
/from the thought of that degradation which the 
i want of a good education would impose upon me, 
i — above all, the determined resolution of battling 
t courageously with fortune. I was resolved to try 
wHether, although she had thrown me among the 
dust, I should not be able to rise up by the vigor 
of my own eiforts." His ardor for study only 
Igrew the greater as his difficulties increased. 
For six months he only allowed himself two 
nights' sleep in the week ; and yet all the while, 
his godfather scarcely ever wrote to him but to 
inveigh against his indolence, — often actually 
addressing his letters on the outside " To M. 
Heyne, Idler, at Leipsic." 

In the meantime, while his distress was becom' 


ing, every day, more intolerable, he was offered 
by one of the professors, the situation of a tutor 
in a family at Magdeburg. Desirable as the 
appointment would have been in every other re- 
spect, it would have removed him from the scene 
of his studies, and he declined it. He resolved 
to remain in the midst of all his miseries at Leip- 
sic. Through the favor of Providence, he was 
in a few weeks recompensed for this sacrifice. 
The same professor procured for him a situation 
in the university, similar to the one he had refused 
in Magdeburg. This, of course, relieved, for a 
time, his pecuniary wants ; but still the ardor with 
which he pursued his studies continued so great, 
that at last it brought on a dangerous illness, 
which obliged him to resign his situation, and very 
soon completely exhausted his trifling resources, 
so that on his recovery he found himself as poor 
and destitute as ever. In this extremity, a copy 
of Latin verses which he had written having 
attracted the attention of one of the Saxon min- 
isters, he was induced by the advice of his friends 
to set out for the court at Dresden, Avhere it was 
expected that this patronage would make his for- 
tune ; but he was doomed only to new disappoint- 
ments. After having borrowed money to pay the 
expenses of his journey, all he obtained from the 
courtier was a few vague promises, which ended 
in nothing. He was obliged, eventually, after 
having sold his books, to accept the place of copy- 
ist in the Hbrary of the Count de Bruhl, with the 
miserable annual salary of seventy-five dollars. 
But he had not been idle at Leipsic. He 
listened, with great benefit, to the lectures 
Ernesti on the principles of interpretation 

3 of/ 
; to' 


some valuable archajlogical and antiquarian lec- 
tures ; and to the eloquent disquisitions of Bach 
on Roman antiquities and jurisprudence. At 
Dresden, besides performing the duties of his 
situation, he found time to do a little -work for the 
booksellers. For a learned and excellent edition 
of the Latin poet, Tibullus, he received one hun- 
dred crowns. In this way he conti'ived to live a 
few years, all the while studying hard, and think- 
ing himself amply compensated for the hardships 
of his lot, by the opportunities which he enjoyed 
of pursuing his favorite researches in a city so 
rich in collections of books and antiquities as 
Dresden. After he had held his situation in the 
library for above two years, his salary w^as 
doubled ; but before he derived any benefit from 
the augmentation, the seven years' war had com- 
menced. Saxony was overrun by the foi'ces of 
Frederick the Great, and Heyne's place, and the 
library itself to which it was attached, were 
swept away at the same time. He was obliged 
to fly from Dresden, and wandered about, for a 
long time, without employment. At last he was 
received into a family in Wittenberg ; but in a 
short time, the progress of the war drove him 
from this asylum, also, and he returned to Dres- 
den, where he still had a few articles of furniture, 
which he had purchased with the little money 
which he had saved while he held his place in the 
library. He arrived just in time to witness the 
bombardment of that capital, in the conflagration 
of which his furniture perished, as well as some 
property which he had brought with him from 
Wittenberg, belonging to a lady, one of the family 
in whose house he had lived. For this lady he 


had formed an attachment during his residence 
there. Thus left, both of them without a shilling, 
the young persons determined to share each 
other's destiny, and they were accordingly united. 
By the exertions of some common friends, a re- 
treat was procured for Heyne and his wife in the 
establishment of a M. de Leoben, where he spent 
some years, during which his time was chiefly 
occupied in the management of that gentleman's 

But Providence was now about to visit him 
with the smiles of prosperity. In 17 Go, he re- 
turned to Dresden. ^ Some time before this, the 
Professorship of Eloquence in the University of 
Gbttingen had become vacant by the death of 
John Mathias Gessner. The chair had been 
offered, in the first instance, to David Ruhnken, 
one of the first scholars of the age, who declined, 
however, to leave the University of Leyden, 
where he had lately succeeded the eminent Hems- 
terhuis as professor of Greek. But happily, 
Euhnken had seen the edition of Tibullus, and 
another of Epictetus, which Heyne had some 
time previously published. Rulniken ventured 
to suggest to the Hanoverian minister the extraor- 
dinary merits of Heyne, and he was accordingly 
nominated to the professorship. He was soon 
after appointed first librarian and counsellor. To 
discharge the functions of these posts required 
the most multiplied labors. He says of himself, ' 
with great candor, that, " till he was professor, he j 
never learned the art it was his duty to teach." 
But he soon made himself at home in his new 
duties. By his lectures ; by his connection with 
the Royal Society, founded at Gottingen by Hal- 


ler; by his indefatigable participation in the Got- 
tingen Literary Gazette ; by the direction of the 
Philological Seminary, which, under his guidance, 
was a nursery of genuine philology, and has 
given to the schools of Germany a great number 
of good teachers ; by all this, together with his 
editions and commentaries on classic authors, 
Heyne has deserved the reputation of being one 
of the most distinguished teachers and scholars 
which the literary world has seen. The centre 
of his activity was the poetic department of clas- 
sical literature. His principal work, which em- 
ployed him for eighteen years, was his unfinished 
edition of Homer. He brought the library of 
Gottingen to such excellence, that it is regarded 
as the first in Europe, because all the departments 
are methodically filled. Kot merely the fame of 
his great learning, but the weight of his character 
and the propriety and delicacy of his deportment, 
procured him the acquaintance of the most emi- 
nent men of his time. George Forster, Huber, 
and Heeren became his sons-in-law. In danger- 
ous times, the influence which he acquired, and 
his approved uprightness and wisdom, were of 
great service to the university. By his efforts, 
the university and city were spared the necessity 
of affording quarters to the soldiery, while the 
French had possession of Hanover, from 1804 to 

An attack of appoplexy terminated his life, on 
the 14th of July, 1802. He was in the eighty- 
third year of his age. 


The father of Whipple was a native of Ips- 
wich, Massachusetts, and was bred a maltster. ) « 
He was, also, for some time, engaged in sea-faring | 
pursuits. He married Mary, the eldest daughter '■ 
of Robert Cutt. She was a lady of excellent 
sense, and of many pleasing accomplishments. 
William Whipple was born in Kittery, Maine, 
in the year 1730. He received his education in 
one of the public schools in that town, where he 
was taught reading, writing, arithmetic and 
navigation. When this deficient course of edu- 
cation was completed, he left school, and immedi- 
ately embarked on board of a merchant vessel, 
for the purpose of commencing his destined pro- 
fession as a sailor. Before he was twenty-one 
years of age, he obtained the command of a ves- 
sel, and performed a number of voyages to 
Europe, and the West Indies. He was after-) 
wards engaged in the infamous slave traffic.^ *■ 
This circumstance in his life admits of no justifi- ' 
cation. The fact that good men formerly partici- 
pated in it, only proves how much avarice hardens 
the human heart and sears the natural conscience. 
In 1759, Mr. Whipple abandoned the sea, and 
engaged in mercantile business for some time, 
with his brother Joseph. He married his cousin, 
Catharine Moffat, daughter of John Moffat, Esq., 
a merchant of Portsmouth. At an early period 
of the revolutionary contest, Mr. Whipple took a 
decided part in favor of the colonies, and in oppo- 


sition to the claims of the parent country. So 
much confidence was placed in his integrity and 
firmness, that his fellow citizens frequently placed 
him in highly important offices. In January, 
1775, he was chosen one of the representatives of 
Portsmouth to the provincial congress, which 
met at Exeter, By that body he was elected one 
of the provincial committee of safety. In 1776, 
he was chosen a delegate to the general con- 
gress, which met at Philadelphia. He continued 
to be reelected for the three following years. 
This appointment gave Mr. Whipple the oppor- 
tunity to record his name among the memorable 
list of the signers of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence. The cabin boy, who, thirty years before, 
had looked forward to the command of a vessel 
as the consummation of his hopes, now stood 
among a band of patriots, more illustrious than 
any which the world had yet seen. He was 
considered a very useful and active member. In 
the business of committees, he displayed a most 
commendable degree of perseverance, ability and 
application. In 1777, when Burgoyne was rapidly 
advancing from Canada, the assembly of New 
Hampshire was convened, and more decisive 
measures were adopted to defend the country. 
Two brigades were formed ; the command of one 
of which was given to Gen. Stark, and of the 
other to Whipple. Whipple was present with 
his brigade at the battles of Stillwater and Sara- 
toga. He was one of the commissioners appoint- 
ed by Gates to treat with Burgoyne, and was 
afterwards selected to conduct the British troops 
to Boston. 

He was accompanied on this expedition by a 


negro servant, named Prince, whom he had import- 
ed from Africa. On his way to the army, he told 
his servant, that if they should he called into ac- 
tion, he expected that he would behave like a 
man of courage. Prince replied, " Sir, I have 
no inducement to fight ; but if I had ray liberty, I j 
would endeavor to defend it to the last drop of 
my blood." The general emancipated him upon ^ 
the spot. In 1778, he accompanied Gen. Sulli- 
van in his expedition to Rhode Island. For more 
than two years he was receiver of finance, a most 
arduous and responsible office, under Robert 
Morris. About this pex'iod. Gen. Whipple began 
to be afllicted with severe strictures in the breast, 
which compelled him to decline any further mili- 
tary command. In 1782, he was appointed one 
of the judges of the superior court of ISTew Hamp- 
shire, in which office he continued till his death. 
In November, 1785, he expired, in consequence 
of an ossification of the heart. He was in the 
fifty-fifth year of his age. 

On the whole, he seems to have been a very 
useful man in a period abounding in elistinguished 
talent. The variety of offices which he filled 
with propriety and ability, is not a little remarka- 
ble. Master of a vessel — merchant — leader 
of militia-men — an interpreter of the old confed- 
eration and of the laws of his native State, and 
a committee-man in congress. He had but little 
education in the schools. He taught himself. His 
powers of observation on men and things, were 
turned to the best account. In his manners. Gen. 
Whipple was courteous and affable, and he ap- 
pears to have possessed an estimable character for 
integrity and general morality. 


Alexander Murray was born in the parish 
of MinnigaiF, in the shire of Earcudbright, Scot- 
land, on the twenty-second of Octoboi", 1775. 
His father was, at this time, nearly seventy years 
of age, and had been a shepherd all his life, as 
his own father, and probably his ancestors for 
many generations had been. Alexander's mother 
was also the daughter of a shepherd, and wa,s the 
old man's second wife ; several sons, whom he 
had by a former marriage, being all brouglit up 
to the sjime primitive occupation. His father 
died in 1797, at the age of ninety-one. He seems 
have been possessed of considerable natural sagac- 
ity, and of some learning. 

. Alexander received his first lessons in reading, 
/from his father. "The old man," he tells us, 
i " bought him% catechism, (which, in Scotland, is 
generally printed with a copy of the alphabet in 
large type prefixed ;) but as it was too good a 
book for me to handle at all times, it was gen- 
erally locked up, and my father, throughout the 
"Winter, drew the figui'es of the letters to me, in 
his written hand, on the board of an old wool card, 
with the black end of an extinguished heather 
stem or root snatched from the fire. I soon learn- 
ed all the alphabet in this form, and became 
writer a.-; well as reader. I wrought with tne 
board and brand continually. Then the catechism 
was presented, and in a month or two, I could 


read the easier parte of it. I daily amused my- 
self with copying, as above, the printed letters. 
In May, 1782, my father gave me a small psalm- 
book, for which I totally abandoned the catechism. 
I soon got many psalms by memory, and longed 
for a new book. Here difficulties arose. The 
Bible used every night in the family, I was not 
permitted to touch. The rest of the books 
were put up in chests. I at length got a New 
Testament, and read the historical parts with 
great curiosity and ardor. But I longed to read 
the Bible, which seemed to me a much more 
pleasant book; and I actually went to a place, 
where I knew an old loose-leaved Bible lay, and 
carried it away in piece-meal. I perfectly re- 
member the strange pleasure I felt in reading the 
histories of Abraham and David. I liked mourn- 
ful narratives ; and greatly admired Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel and the Lamentations. I pored on these 
pieces of the Bible in secret for many months, but 
I durst not show them openly ; and as I read con- 
stantly and remembered well, I soon astonished 
all our honest neighbors with the large passages 
of scriptui'e which I repeated before them. I 
have forgotten too much of my biblical knowledge, 
but I can still rehearse all the names of the patri- 
ai'chs, from Adam to Christ, and various other 
narratives seldom committed to memory." 

His father's whole property consisted only of 
two or three scores of sheep and four muirland 
cows. " lie had no debts and no money."' As all 
his other sons were shepherds, it was with him a 
matter of course that Alexander should be brought 
up the same way ; and accordingly, as soon as he 
had strength for anything, that is, when he was 


about seven or eight years of age, he vias sent to 
the hills with the sheep. He however gave no 
promise of being a good shepherd, and he was 
often blamed by his father as lazy and useless. 
He was not stout, and he was near-sighted, which 
his father did not know. " Besides," says he, " I 
was sedentai-y, indolent, and given to books and 
writing on boards with coals." But his father 
was too poor to send him to school, his attendance 
upon which, indeed, was scai'cely practicable, un- 
less he boarded in the village, from which their 
cottage was five or six miles distant. About this 
time a brother of his mother's, who had made 
a little money, came to pay them a visit ; and 
hearing such accounts of the genius of his 
nephew, whose fame was now the discourse of 
the whole glen, offered to be at the expense of 
boarding him for a short time in New Galloway, 
and keeping him at school there. As he tells us 
himself, he made at first a somewhat awkward 
figure on this new scene. " IMy pronunciation 
was laughed at, and my whole speech was a sub- 
ject of fun. But I soon gained impudence ; and 
before vacation in August, I often stood dux of 
the Bible class. I was in the mean time taught 
to write copies, and use paper and ink. But I 
both wrote and printed, that is, imitated printed 
letters, when out of school." 

His attendance at school, however, had scarcely 
lasted for three months, when he fell into bad 
health, and was obliged to return home. For 
nearly five years after this, he was left again to 
be his own instructer, with no assistance whatever 
from any one. He soon recovered his health, but 
during the long period we have mentioned, he 


looked in vain for the means of again pursuing 
his studies under the advantages which he had 
for a short time enjoyed. As soon as he became 
suflBciently well, he was put to his old employ- 
ment of assisting the rest of the family as a 
shepherd-boy. " I was still," says he, " attached 
to reading, printing of words, and getting by 
heart ballads, of which I procured several. 

About this time and for years after, I spent 
every sixpence, that friends or strangers gave me, 
on ballads and penny histories. I carried bundles 
of these in my pockets, and read them when sent 
to look for cattle on the banks of Loche Greanoch. 
and on the wild hills in its neighborhood." And 
thus passed away about three years of his life. 
All this time the Bible and these ballads seem to 
have formed almost his only reading ; yet even 
with this scanty library he contrived to acquire, 
among the simple inhabitants of the glen, a repu- 
tation for unrivalled erudition. " My fame for 
reading and a memory, was loud, and several said 
that I Avas a ' living miracle.' I puzzled the honest 
elders of the church with recitals of scripture, 
and discourses about Jerusalem, &c." Towards 
the close of the year 1787, he borrowed from a 
friend L'Estrange's translation of Josephus, and 
Salmon's Geographical Grammar. This last work 
had no little share in directing the studies of his 
future life. " I got immense benefit from Sal- 
mon's book. It gave me an idea of geography 
and universal history, and I actually recollect at 
this time almost everything which it contains." 

A grammar of geography was almost the first 
thing which James Ferguson studied; although 
the minds of the two students, diifering as they 



did in original character, were attracted by differ- 
ent parts of their common manual ; the one pon- 
dering its description of the artificial sphere, the 
other musing over its accounts of foreign lands, 
and of the history and languages of nations in- 
habiting them. Murray, however, learned also to 
copy the maps which he found in the book ; and, 
indeed, carried the study of practical geography 
so far, as to make similar delineations of his 
native glen, and its neighborhood. 

He was now twelve years of age ; and as there 
seemed to be no likelihood that he would ever be 
able to gain his bread as a shepherd, his parents 
were probably anxious that he should attempt 
something in another way to help to maintain 
f Accordingly, in the latter part of the year 1787, 

he engaged as teacher in the families of two of the 
- neighboring formers ; for his services in which ca- 
pacity, throughout the winter, he was remunerated 
with the sum of sixteen shillings ! He had proba- 
bly, however, his board free in addition to his 
salary, of which he immediately laid out a part in 
the purchase of books. One of these was Cocker's 
Arithmetic, " the plainest of all books," says he, 
" from which, in two or three months, I learned 
the four principal rules of arithmetic, and even 
advanced to the rule of three, with no additional 
assistance, except the use of an old copy-book of 
examples made by some boy at school, and a few 
verbal directions from my brother Robert, the only 
one of all my father's sons, by his first marriage, 
that remained with us." He borrowed, about the 
same time, some old magazines from a country 
acquaintance. "My memory, now," says he, 


•' contained a very large mass of historical facts 
and ballad-poetry, which I repeated with pleasure 
to myself, and the astonished approbation of the 
peasants around me." At last, his father having 
been employed to herd on another fai*ra, which 
brought him nearer the village, Alexander was 
once more permitted to attend school at MinnigaflP, 
for three days in the week. " I made the most/ 
says he, " of these days ; I came about an hour 
before the school met ; I pored on my arithmetic, ' 
in which I am still a proficient ; and I regularly 
opened and read all the English books, such as 
the ' Spectator,' ' World,' &c., brought by the chil- ' 
dren to school. I seldom joined in any play at the 
usual hours, but read constantly." This second 
period of his attendance at school, however, did 
not last so long as the former. It terminated at 
the autumn vacation, that is to say, in about six 

In 1790, he again attended school, during the 
summer, for about three months and a half. It 
seems to have been about this time that his taste 
for learning foreign languages first began to de- 
velop itself, having been excited by the study of 
Salmon's Geography. " I had," he writes, " in 
1787 and 1788 often admired and mused on the 
specimens of the Lord's Prayer, in every lan- 
guage, found in Salmon's Grammar. I had read 
in the magazines and Spectator that Homer, 
Virgil, Milton, Shakspeare and Newton were the 
greatest of mankind. I had been early informed, 
by some elders and good religious people, that 
Hebrew was the first language. In 1789, at 
Drigmore, an old woman, who lived near, showed 
me her psalm-book, which was printed with a 


large type, had notes on each page, and likewise, 
what I discovered to be the Hebrew alphabet, 
marked letter after letter in the 119th Psalm. I 
took a copy of these letters, by printing them off 
in my old way, and kept them." Meantime, as 
he still entertained the notion of going out as a 
clerk to the West Indies, he took advantage of a 
few leisure weeks to begin the study of the French 
language. He used to remain in school during 
the middle of the day, wliile his companions were 
at play, and compare together the different gram- 
mars used in the class. 

" About the fifteenth of June,"' says he, " Kerr, 
one of my class-fellows, told me that he had once 
learned Latin for a fortnight, but had not liked it, 
and still had the Rudiments beside him. I said, 
Do lend me them ; I Avish to see what the nouns 
and verbs are like, and whether they resemble 
our French. He gave me the book. I examined 
it for four or five days, and found that the nouns 
had changes on the last syllables, and looked very 
singular. I used to repeat a lesson from the 
French Rudiments every forenoon in school. On 
the morning of the midsummer fair of Newton 
Stewart, I set out for school, and accidentally put 
into my pocket the Latin Grammar instead of the 
French Rudiments. On an ordinary day, Mr. 
Cramond would have chid me for this ; but on that 
festive morning he was melloiv, and in excellent 
spirits, — a state not good for a teacher, but al- 
ways desired in him by me, for then he was very 
communicative. With great glee, he replied, 
when I told him my mistake, and showed him the 
Grammar, ''Gad, Sandy, I shall try thee with 
Latin •' and accordingly read over to me no less 


than two of the declensions. It was his custom 
with me to permit me to get as long lessons as I 
pleased, and never to fetter me by joining me to 
a class. There was at that time in the school a 
class of four boys, advanced as far as the pronouns 
in Latin Grammar. They ridiculed my sepa- 
rated condition ; but before the vacation, in Au- 
gust, I had reached the end of the Rudiments, 
knew a good deal more than they, by reading, at 
home, the notes on the foot of each page ; and was 
so greatly improved in French, that I could read 
almost any French book at opening of it. I com- 
pared French and Latin, and riveted the words 
of both in my memory by this practice. When 
proceeding with the Latin verbs, I often sat in 
the school all mid-day and pored on the page of 
Robert Cooper's [another of his school-fellows,] 
Greek Grammar, — the only one I had ever seen. 
He was then reading Livy and learning Greek. 
By the help of his book I mastered the letters, 
but I saw the sense of the Latin rules in a very 
indistinct manner. Some boy lent me an old 
Corderius, and a friend made me a present of 
Eutropius. There was a copy of Eutropius in 
the school, which had a literal translation. I 
studied this last with great attention, and com- 
pared the English and Latin. When my lesson 
was prepared, I always made an excursion into 
the rest of every book ; and my books were not 
like those of other school-boys, opened only in 
one place, and where the lesson lay." 

All this was the work of about two months and 
a half befoi'e the vacation, and a fortnight after it. 
During the winter, he employed every spare 
moment in pondering upon some Latin books. " I 


literally read," says he, " Ainswortli's Dictionary 
throughout. My method was to revolve the leaves 
of the letter A ; to notice all the principal words 
and their Greek synonymes, not omitting a glance 
at the Hebrew ; to do the same by B, and so on 
through the book ; I then returned from X and Z 
to A. And in these winter months I amassed a 
large stock of Latin and Greek vocables. From 
this exercise I took to Eutropius, Ovid and Cassar, 
or at times, to Ruddiman's Grammar. Here I got 
another book, which from that time has influenced 
and inflamed my imagination. This was Paradise 
Lost, of which I had heard, and which I was eager 
to see. I cannot describe the ardor, or various feel- 
ings, with which I read, studied and admired this 
first-rate work. I found it as diflicult to understand 
as Latin, and soon saw that it required to be parsed, 
like that language. I account my first acquaint- 
ance with Paradise Lost an era in my reading." 
The next summer was spent stiU more laboriously 
than the preceding. He again attended school, 
where he found a class reading Ovid, Cassar and 
Virgil. " I laughed," says he, " at the diificulty 
with which they prepared their lessons ; and often 
obliged them by reading them over, to assist the 
■work of preparation." He employed his time at 
home in almost incessant study. " My practice 
was," he remarks, " to lay down a new and difficult 
book, after it had wearied me, to take up another, 
then a third, and to resume this rotation frequently 
and laboriously. I always strove to seize the sense, 
but when I supposed that I had succeeded, I did 
not weary myself with analyzing every sentence." 
Having introduced himself to Mr. Maitland, the 
clergyman of the parish, by writing letters to him 


in Latin and Greek, he obtained from that gentle- 
man a number of classical books, which he read 
with great diligence. He was soon so privileged 
as to obtain a copy of a Hebrew Grammar and 
of the Hebrew Bible. " I made good use," says 
he, " of this loan ; I read the Bible throughout, 
and many passages and books of it a number of 
times." It would appear that he had actually 
made himself familiar, and that chiefly by his 
own unassisted exertions, with the French, Latin, 
Greek and Hebi-ew languages, and perused sev- 
eral of the principal authors in all of them, within 
about a year and a half from the time when they 
were all entirely unknown to him ; for it was at 
the end of May, 1790, that he commenced, as we 
have seen, the study of French, and all this work 
had been done by the end of November, in the 
following year. There is not, perhaps, on record 
a more extraordinary instance of youthful ardor 
and perseverance. It may serve to show what is 
possible to be accomplished. 

He was again engaged in teaching during the 
winter, and received for his labor, as he states, 
about thirty-five or forty shillings. Every spare 
hour was devoted to the study of Latin, Greek, 
Hebrew and French. In the summer of 1792 he 
returned to school for the last time. The different 
periods of his school attendance, added together, 
make about thirteen months, scattered over the 
space of nearly eight years. Having obtained a 
copy of Bailey's Dictionary, he found .in it the 
Anglo-Saxon alphabet, and many words in the 
same dialect. This was his introduction to the 
study of the northern languages. He also made 
himself acquainted with many Welsh phrases, 


from a small religious treatise in the language, 
without any dictionary or grammar. This was 
done by minute observation and comparison of 
words, terminations and phrases. He also made 
himself acquainted with the Arabic and Abys- 
sinian alphabets. He was also guilty of writing 
several thousand lines of an epic poem, " which 
was not without obligations to Ossian, Milton and 
Homer." Before he completed the seventh book 
he threw the unfinished epic into the fire. 

Murray was now in his nineteenth year. His 
most intimate school-companion had gone to the 
university, for which, no doubt, Murray felt that 
he was far better qualified, if his utter want of 
resources had not opposed an insurmountable 
barrier. He had happened to purchase a volume 
of the manuscript lectures of a German professor 
on Roman literature, written in Latin. Having 
translated these lectures, he carried his translation 
to Dumfries, but neither of the two booksellers 
would print them. He then concluded to pi'int 
some poems by subscription. From this design 
he was fortunately induced to depart by the ad- 
vice of the celebrated Robert Burns. " Burns,"' 

[says he, " treated me Avith great kindness, and told 

)me if I could get out to college without publishing 
my poems, it would be much better, as my taste 
was young and not formed, and I should be 

I ashamed of my productions, when I could write 

land judge better." 

It so happened, that there was in the neighbor- 
hood an itinerant tea-merchant, by the name of 
M'Harg, who knew Murray well, and had formed 
so high an idea of his genius and learning, that he 
was in the habit of sounding his fame wherever 


he went. Among others to whom he spoke of 
him, was Mr. James Kinnear, of Edinburgh, then 
a journeyman printer in the king's printing-office. 
Mr. Kinnear, with a zeal which does him great 
credit, immediately suggested that Murray should 
transmit an account of himself, and some evidence 
of his attainments, to Edinburgh, which he under- 
took to lay before some of the literary men of that 
city. This plan was adopted. Murray was ex- 
amined by the principal and several of the pro- 
fessors. He so surprised them by the extent and 
accuracy of his acquaintance with the languages, 
that measures for his admission to the university, 
and his maintenance, were immediately taken. 
These arrangements were principally effected by 
the exertions of principal Baird. His ardent and 
most efficient patronage of one, thus recommended 
to him only by his deserts and his need of patron- 
age, entitles him to the lasting gratitude of all the 
friends of learning. Murray was, indeed, soon 
able to support himself All his difficulties may 
be said to have been over as soon as he found 
his way to the university. 

For the next ten or twelve years of his life, he 
resided principally at Edinburgh. No man that 
ever lived, probably, not excepting Sir William 
Jones himself, has prosecuted the study of lan- 
guages to such an extent as Murray. By the 
end of his short life scarcely one of the oriental 
or northern tongues remained uninvestigated by 
him, so far. as any sources for acquiring a knowl- 
edge of them were accessible. Of the six or 
seven dialects of the Abyssinian or Ethiopic lan- 
guage, in particular, he made himself much more 
completely master than any European had been 


before. This led to his being selected by the 
booksellers, in 1802, to prepare an edition of 
Bruce's Travels, which appeared in 1805, in 
seven volumes, octavo, and at once placed him in 
the first rank of the oriental scholars of the age. 
In 1806, he left Edinburgh, in order to officiate 
as clergyman in the parish of Urr, in Dumfries- 
shire. All his leisure moments were devoted to 
the composition of his stupendous work on the 
languages of Europe. 

In 1812, the professorship of oriental languages 
in the university of Edinburgh became vacant. 
Mr. JMurray's friends immediately seized the op- 
portunity of endeavoring to obtain for him the 
situation, of all others, which he seemed destined 
to fill. The contest was, eventually, carried on 
between Murray and a single opponent. The 
result was very doubtful, as the election depended 
on the town-council, a corporate body of thirty- 
three individuals. Extraordinary exertions were 
made by the friends of both candidates. Mr. Salt, 
the distinguished orientalist, stated that Mr. Mur- 
ray was the only man in the British dominions, 
in his opinion, capable of translating an Ethiopic 
letter which he had brought into the country. 
Among those who exerted themselves in his be- 
half, were Dr. James Gregory, Professors Leslie, 
Playfair, Dugald Stewart, Mr. Jeffrey, Sir Walter 
Scott, &c. Well was ]Mr. IMurray entitled to say, 
before he learned the result of the election, " If 
the efforts of my friends have been exerted for an 
unsuccessful candidate, they will not be forgotten, 
for ice have perished in light." He was elected 
by a majority of two votes. On the thirty-first 
of October, ]\Ir. Murray entered on the discharge 


of Lis duties, though, alas, near the grave. His 
excessive labors had prostrated his strength. On 
the thirteenth of April he retired to the bed from 
which he never rose ; before the close of another 
day he was among the dead. He was in the 
thirty-eighth year of his age. 

His History of Eijropean Languages, though 
left by hiui in a very imperfect state, is still a 
splendid monument of liis ingenuity and erudition. 


Stephen Hopkins was born in that part of 
the then town of Providence, R. I., which now 
forms the town of Scituate, on the seventh of 
March, 1707. His great grandfather, Thomas 
Hopkins, was one of the primitive settlers of 
Providence. With the first dawnings of active 
life, Stephen Hopkins was esteemed for his worth, 
and liis regular and useful habits. As an evidence 
of the propriety of his conduct when only nine- 
teen years of age, his father gave him a deed of 
gift for seventy acres of land, and his grandfather 
bestowed on his " loving grandson," an additional 
tract of ninety acres. He received nothing more 
than a plain country education, by which he 
acquired an excellent knowledge of penmanship, 
and became conversant in the practical branches 
of the mathematics, particularly surveying. Be- 
ing the son of a farmer, he continued the occupa- 
^tion of his father, after the death of the latter, and, 
in 1731, increased his estate in Scituate, by the 
purchase of adjoining lands. He continued this 
mode of life until his removal to Providence, in 
1748, when he sold his farm, and built a mansion 
in that town, in which he continued to reside until 
his death. 

In March, 1731-2, Mr. Hopkins made his first 
appearance in the public service in the humble 
station of town-clerk of Scituate, from which he 
rose through almost every gradation of oflGice 


to the highest dignity of the State. In May, 
1739, he was appointed chief justice of the court 
of common pleas. He was extensively employed, 
till an advanced age, in the business of surveying 
lands. The nicety of his calculations is attested 
by the following circumstances. In taking the 
survey of a tract of land, he passed over a plain 
thickly set with shrubbery. Soon after, he found 
that his watch, which cost twenty-five guineas in 
London, was missing. Supposing that the chain 
had become entangled in the bushes, and the 
watch thereby pulled from his pocket, he set the 
course back, and found it hanging on a bush. 

In May, 1751, he was appointed, for the four- 
teenth time, a representative in the assembly. In 
May, 1756, he was chosen Governor of the State, 
and continued to occupy this station, at intervals, 
for seven years. 

In 1767, when the politics of the colony were 
carried to a great excess, Mr. Hopkins magnani- 
mously retired from his oflSce, and a third person 
was elected. By this measure, harmony was in 
a great degree, restored. 

When the difficulties between the colonies and 
Great Britain began to grow alarming, Gov. 
Hopkins took an active, early, and determined 
part in favor of the colonies. In August, 1774, 
in connection with the Hon. Samuel "Ward, he 
was appointed to represent Rhode Island, in the 
general congress. 

In the same year, Mr. Hopkins was a member 
of the assembly of the state. Principally by his 
influence and exertions, an act was passed, pro- 
hibiting the importation of negroes into the 
colony. In the year before, he emancipated a 


number of people of color, whom he had held as 

• In May, 1776, Mr. Hopkins was, for the third 
time, elected to congress. His name is attached 
to the Declaration of Independence. His signa- 
ture indicates, on the parchment, a very tremu- 
lous hand, and is in perfect contrast to that of the 
President, John Hancock ; this was caused by a 
/nervous affection, with which he had been for 
Tmany years afflicted, and which compelled him, 
I when he wrote at all, to guide his right hand 
with his left. He discharged his public duties 
I with great ability and faithfulness. Mr. Hopkins 
was one of those strong-minded men, who, by 
indefatigable personal effort, overcome the defi- 
ciencies of early education. A common country 
school, at that period, afforded little more than a 
knowledge of reading and writing. Upon this 
foundation, Mr. Hopkins established a character 
for literature. It is stated that he perused the 
whole of the great collection of ancient and mod- 
em history, compiled about a half century since, 
by some distinguished scholars in Europe, and 
that he also read Thurtow's collection of State 
Papers. As an instance of the retentiveness of 
his memory, it is mentioned that Mr. Hopkins, 
on one occasion, sat down and made out his 
account as the owner of a vessel, without any 
reference whatever to his books, though many 
small items were necessarily included. He was 
esteemed as an excellent mathematician. He 
was one of the principal observers on the cele- 
brated transit of Venus over the Sun's disc, in 
June, 17G9. He was a member of the American 
Philosophical Society, and for many years, chan- 
cellor of the College of Rhode Island. 



In his personal and domestic character, he was 
an eminent pattern of kindness and affability. A 
visit, which Gen. Washington made, unattended, 
to Gov. Hopkins, is stated, by a living witness, to 
have strongly exhibited the simple, easy, and art- 
less manners of those illustrious men. Mr. Hop- 
kins died calmly, on the 13th of July, 1785, in 
the 79th year of his age. 


Op the attainments and character of this 
extraordinary man, we can furnish but a very- 
imperfect outline. Even the year of his birth 
we have not been able to ascertain. His native 
place is Longnor, a small village, eight miles from 
Shrewsbury, England. The only education which 
he received was that of a village school, where 
nothing more was taught than reading, writing, 
and ai'ithmetic. This school he left at twelve 
years of age, to learn the trade of a carpenter 
and builder, under the care of an ingenious and 
respectable relative, Mr. Alderman Lee, of 
Shrewsbury. Here he underwent great hard- 
ships. It was not till he was about seventeen 
years of age that he first conceived the idea of 
studying a foreign language. His application to 
the Latin tongue, the first which he acquired, 
originated in his inability to understand that lan- 
guage, as quoted in English authors. Poverty 
obstructed his progress, but did not prevent it, A 
thirst for information created economy ; and out 
of the scanty pittance of his weekly earnings, he 
purchased, at a book stall, a volume, which, when 
read, was exchanged for another; and, so by 
degrees, he advanced in knowledge. Oppressed 
with cares, without any living assistant whatever, 
without much stimulus either from hope or fear, 
seeking concealment rather than the smile of 
approbation, and very scantily supplied with the 


necessary materials, he still pressed on in his 
course. He had not the privilege of balancing 
between reading and relaxation ; he had to pass 
from bodily fatigue to mental exertion. During 
six yeai*3, previous to his twenty-fifth year, he 
omitted none of the hours usually appropriated to 
manual labor ; he retired to rest, regularly, at 10 
o'clock at night. He also suffered, during this 
time, from a disorder in his eyes. As his wages 
increased, and thereby his abilities to make larger 
purchases, he attended to the Greek, Hebrew, 
Chaldee, and Syriac tongues. The loss, by fire, 
of the tools of his trade, blasted his earthly pros- 
pects in that direction, and led him to consider how 
far his literary acquirements might be employed for 
the support of himself, and of the partner whom 
he had recently married. His situation being 
made known to the Reverend Archdeacon Cor- 
bett, of Shrewsbury, that liberal and enlightened 
clergymen afforded him, not only immediate aid, 
but a happier introduction to his favorite pursuits. 
He now exchanged his carpenter's shop for the 
superintendency of a charity school. Here, how- 
ever, his hours were not much more at his own 
disposal. It was about this time that that well 
known and highly respected oriental scholar. Dr. 
Jonathan Scott, Persian Secretary to Hastings, 
Govei'nor General of India, furnished Mr. Lee 
with an Arabic Grammar, and he had then, for 
the first time in his life, the pleasure of convers- 
ing upon the study in which he was engaged ; 
and it is to this auspicious circumstance, improved, 
as it was, by the wonderful proficiency of Mr. 
Lee, on the one hand, (for in a few months, he 
was capable of reading, writing, and composing 


in both Arabic and Persic,) and to the unremitting 
kindness of Dr. Scott, on the other, that we may- 
attribute jMr. Lee's subsequent engagement with 
the Church ISIissionary Society, as Orientalist, his 
admission at Queen's College, Cambridge, and 
his ordination as a minister of the Established 
Church. At the age of thirty-one years, fourteen 
from the time he had opened a Latin Grammar, 
he had actually himself taught seventeen difterent 
languages ; viz. Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, 
Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Persic, Hindostanee, 
French, German, Italian, Ethiopic, Coptic, Malay, 
Sanscrit, and Bengalee. When Mr. Lee entered 
at Cambridge, he was unacquainted with the mathe- 
matics ; but in one fortnight, he qualified himself 
to attend a class which had gone through several 
books in Euclid ; and he soon after discovered an 
error in the Spherical Trigonometry, usually- 
bound up with Simpson's Euclid, the fourteenth 
proposition of which Mr. Lee disproved. Simp- 
son's Edition of Euclid is a text book at both 
Universities, and is the only one usually put into 
the hands of students, and to which the lectures 
of the tutors apply. Before he went to college 
he was conversant with the works of Plato, had 
made translations into English blank verse from 
the works of Boethius ; and he went through the 
Golden Verses, bearing the name of Pythagoras. 
He contented himself with a competent knowledge 
of mathematics, lest further attention to that seduc- 
ing science should interfere with those studies in 
■which the highest interests of mankind are 
involved. He has exhibited a most laudable 
desire to know the word of Grod himself, and to 
impart it to others. The following are some of 
his efforts for the spiritual good of mankind. 


The Syriac New Testament, edited by Mr. 
Lee, and published, is not a continuation of that 
begun by Dr. Buchanan ; but an entire new 
work, for which Mr. Lee collated three ancien- 
Syx'ian MSS., the Syrian Commentary of Syrius, 
and the texts of Ridley, Jones, and Wetstein. 

An edition of the Malay New Testament, from 
the Dutch edition of 1733 ; the Old Testament 
has since been published. 

An enlarged and corrected edition of Mr. 
Martyn's Hindostanee Prayer Book, in conjunc- 
tion with Mr. Corrie. 

A Tract translated into Persian and Arabic, and 
printed, entitled " The way of Truth and Life," 
for the use of Mohammedans. 

A Malay Tract, for the London Missionary 
Society ; and some Tracts in Hindostanee, for the 
Society for instructing the Lascars. 

A Tract in Arabic, on the new system of edu- 
cation, written by Dr. Bell, and first translated 
by Michael Sabag, for the Baron de Sacy of Paris. 

Dr. Scott having translated the service for 
Christmas day from the Prayer Book of the 
Church of England, into Persic, Mr. Lee has 
added to it the rest of the Liturgy. 

A new translation of the Old Testament into 
Persian, in conjunction with Mirza Khaleel. 

An Hindostanee New Testament. 

He was some time since preparing an Ethiopic 
Bible and other works. Mr. Lee has also made 
a new fount of letter for Hindostanee and Persian 
printing ; and a new fount for an edition of the 
Syriac Old Testament, for which he collated nine 
ancient MSS. and one ancient commentary. He 
has also published in Persian and English the 


whole controversy of Mr. Martyn with the Per- 
sian literati, with considerable additions of his 

On a certain occasion, a Memoir of Mr. Henry 
Kirke White was lent to him ; Mr. Lee returned 
it shortly after with a Latin Poem in praise of 
Mr. White, a dialogue in Greek on the Christian 
religion, and a pious effusion in Hebrew ; all com- 
piled by himself, when he was upon permanent 
duty as a member of the local militia for the 
county. He taught himself to play upon the 
flute, with almost intuitive readiness. When the 
Shrewsbury volunteers were raised, he qualified 
himself, with almost equal readiness, to be one of 
their military band, all which time he was a mem- 
ber of a ringing society, and also gave lectures 
upon Gothic architecture. He was no sooner in 
holy orders than he accepted invitations to preach 
to the largest congregations. He manifested in 
the pulpit the ease and self-possession of one long 
used to the station. Notwithstanding these high 
attainments, he is a very humble and unassuming 
man. The resources of his mind are unapparent 
till called out. He does not seek refined society, 
but mingles in it, when invited, without eifort or 
embarrassment; and without losing any of his 
humility, sustains his place in it with ease and 
independence. His sermons are said to exhibit 
an air of logical dryness, unfavorable to the 
unction which should pervade pulpit exercises. 

Sometime in the year 1819, on the resignation 
of Rev. J. Palmer, Mr. Lee was elected Pro- 
fessor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge, 
and not having been at college the usual time for 


taking the degree requisite to standing for the 
chair, a grace passed tlie senate of the University 
to supplicate for a mandamus, which was granted 
by his Majesty. Most honorable and ample testi- 
monials were given by Lord Teignmouth, Dr. 
Scott, Mohammed Sheeraz, a learned Persian, 
Alexander Nicol, librarian of the Bbdleian library, 
Oxford, Mirza Khaleel, a learned Persian, Dr. 
Wilkins, of the East India-house Library, and 
others. Mr. Lee has lately been chosen to suc- 
ceed Dr. Lloyd, as Regius Professor of Hebrew 
at Cambridge. He has published one edition of 
an Hebrew Grammar, and has another in the 
press, as also an Hebrew Lexicon. A work on 
the interpretation of Scripture generally, and of 
prophecy in particular, has lately appeared from 
his pen. He has issued a prospectus of an 
extensive course of lectures on Hebrew Litera- 
ture and Philology. 



William Gifford was born in Ashburton, 
Devonshire, England, in April, 1757. His father- 
was a seaman, and was, for some time, engaged 
in the service of his country, as the second 
in command of a large armed transport. His 
manner of life was very dissipafed. An attempt 
to excite a riot in a Methodist chapel was- the 
occasion of his being compelled to flee from the 
country. His mother was the daughter of a 
carpenter. Her resources were very scanty. 
They arose from the rent of three or four small 
fields, which had belonged to her husband's father. 
" With these, however,"' says Gifford, " she did 
what she could for me ; and as soon as I was old 
enough to be trusted out of her sight, sent me to 
a schoolmistress of the name of Parret, from 
whom, in due time, I learned to read. I cannot 
boast much of my acquisitions at this school ; 
they consisted merely of the contents of the 
'Child's Spelling Book;' but from my mother, 
who had stored up the literature of a country 
town, — which about half a centuary ago, amount- 
ed to little more than what was disseminated by 
itinerant ballad singers, or rather readers, — I had 
acquired much curious knowledge of Catskin, and 
the Golden Bull, and the Bloody Gardener, and 
many other histories equally instructive and 
amusing." Young Gilford's father returned from 
sea in 1764. He had acquired considerable prop- 


erty, but his habits of dissipation were such that he 
soon lost nearly the whole of it. He commenced 
business as a glazier and house-painter. William, 
now about eight years old, was put to a free 
school, to learn to read and write and cypher. 
Here he continued three years, "making most 
wretched progress," when his father fell sick and 
died. He died of a ruined constitution, induced 
by habits of drinking. Unfortunately, the mother 
of William, in order to support her two children, 
determined to prosecute her husband's business ; 
for which purpose she engaged a couple of jour- 
neymen, who, finding her ignorant of every part 
of it, wasted her property and embezzled her 
money. What the consequence of this double 
fraud would have been, there is no opportunity of 
knowing, as, in somewhat less than a twelvemonth, 
she followed her husband to the gi*ave. " She 
was," says her affectionate son, " an excellent 
woman, bore my father's infirmities with patience 
and good humor, loved her children dearly, and 
died at last, exhausted with anxiety and grief, 
more on their account than on her own." 

" I was not quite thirteen when this happened ; 
my little brother was hardly two ; and we had not 
a relation nor a friend in the world." His brother 
was now sent to the work-house, and he was him- 
self taken home to tlie house of a person named 
Carlile, who was his godfather, and had seized 
upon whatever his mother had left, under the pre- 
tence of repaying himself for money which he 
had advanced to her. By this person, William, 
who had before learned reading, writing, and a 
little arithmetic, was sent again to school, and 
was beginning to make considerable progress in 


the last branch of study ; but in about three 
months his patron grew tired of the expense, and 
took him home with the view of employing him 
as a ploughboy. An injury, however, which he 
had received some years before, on his breast, 
was found to unfit him for this species of labor ; 
and it was next resolved that he should be sent 
out to Newfoundland, to assist in a storehouse. 
But upon being presented to the person who had 
agreed to fit him out, he was declared to be " too 
small" — and this scheme had also to be aban- 
doned. " My godfather," says he, " had now 
humbler views for me, and I had little heart to 
resist anything. He proposed to send me on 
board one of the Torbay fishing boats. I ven- 
tured, however, to remonstrate against this, and 
the matter was compromised, by my consenting to 
go on board a coaster. A coaster was speedily 
found for me at Brixham, and thither I went, 
when a little more than thirteen." 

In this vessel he remained for nearly a twelve- 
month. " It will be easily conceived," he remarks, 
" that my life was a life of hardship. I was not 
only a ship-boy on the ' high and giddy mast,' but 
also in the cabin, where every menial office fell to 
my lot ; yet, if I was restless and discontented, I 
can safely say it was not so much on account of this, 
as my being precluded from all possibility of read- 
ing ; as my master did not possess, nor do I recol- 
lect seeing, during the whole time of my abode 
with him, a single book of any description, except 
the ' Coasting Pilot.' " 

While in this humble situation, however, and 
seeming to himself almost an outcast from the 
world, he was not altogether forgotten. He had 


broken off all connection with Ashburton, and 
where his godfather lived ; but the " women of 
Brixham," says he, " who travelled to Ashburton 
twice a week with fish, and who had known my 
' parents, did not see me without kind concern, 
running about the beach in a ragged jacket and 
trowsers." They often mentioned him to their 
acquaintances at Ashburton, and the tale excited 
so much commiseration in the place, that his god- 
father at last found himself obliged to send for 
him home. At this time he wanted some months 
of fourteen. 

" After the holidays," continues the narrative, 
"I returned to my darling pursuit — arithmetic; 
my progress was now so rapid, that in a few 
months I was at the head of the school, and qual- 
ified to assist my master, Mr. E. Furlong, on any 
extraordinary occasion. As he usually gave me 
a trifle, at such times, it raised a thought in me 
that, by engaging with him as a regular assistant, 
and undertaking the instruction of a few evening 
scholars, I might, with a little additional aid, be 
enabled to support myself. I had besides another 
object in view. Mr. Hugh Smerdon, my first 
master, was now grown old and infirm ; it seemed 
unlikely that he should hold out above three or 
four years ; and I fondly flattered myself that, 
notwithstanding my youth, I might possibly be 
appointed to succeed him. I was in my fifteenth 
year wlien I built these castles ; a storm, however, 
was collecting, which unexpectedly burst upon me, 
and swept them all away. 

" On mentioning my little plan to Carlile, he 
treated it with the utmost contempt; and told 
me, in his turn, that, as I had learned enough, 


and more than enough at school, he must be con- 
sidered as having fairly discharged his duty (so 
indeed he had) ; he added, that he had been 
negociating with his cousin, a shoemaker of some 
respectability, who had* liberally agreed to take 
me without fee, as an apprentice. I was so 
shocked at this intelligence, that I did not remon- 
strate ; but went in suUenness and silence, to ray 
new master, to whom, on the 1st of January, 1772, 
I was bound till I should attain the age of 

Up to this period his reading had been very 
limited; the only books he had perused, beside 
the Bible, with which he was well acquainted, 
having been a black letter romance called Paris- 
mus and Parismenes, a few old magazines, and 
the Imitation of Thomas d Kempis. " As I hated 
my new profession," he continues, " with a perfect 
hatred, I made no progress in it, and was conse- 
quently little regarded in the family, of which 
I sank, by degrees, into the common drudge; 
this did not much disquiet me, for my spirits were 
now humbled. I did not, however, quite resign 
my hope of one day succeeding to Mr. Hugh 
Smerdon, and therefore secretly prosecuted my 
favorite study, at every interval of leisure. 
These intervals were not very frequent; and when 
the use I made of them was found out, they were 
rendered still less so. I could not guess the mo- 
tives for this at first, but at length I discovered 
that my master destined his youngest son for the 
situation to which I aspired. 

" I possessed, at this time, but one book in the 
' world ; it was a treatise on algebra, given to me 
I by a young woman who had found it in a lodging- 


house. I considered it as a treasure ; but it was 
a treasure locked up ; for it supposed the reader 
to be well acquainted with simple equations, and 
I knew nothing of the matter. My master's son 
had purchased ' Fenning's Introduction ; ' this was 
precisely what I wanted — but he carefully con- 
cealed it from me, and I was indebted to chance 
alone for stumbling upon his hiding place. I sat 
up for the greatest part of several nights succes- 
sively, and, before that he suspected that his 
treatise was discovered, had completely mastered 
it ; I could now enter upon my own, and that 
carried me pretty far into the science. This was 
not done without difficulty. I had not a farthing\ 
on earth, nor a friend to give me one ; pen, ink, / 
and paper, therefore, (in despite of the flippant V 
remark of Lord Orford,) were for the most part 
as completely out of my reach, as a crown and 
sceptre. There was, indeed, a resource ; but the 
utmost caution and secrecy were necessary in 
applying to it. I beat out pieces of leather as 
smooth as possible, and wrought my problems on 
them with a blunted awl ; for the rest, my memory 
■was tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by 
it to a great extent." 

No situation, it is obvious, could be more unfa- 
vorable for study than this ; and yet we see how 
the eager student succeeded in triumphing over 
its disadvantages, contriving to write and calculate 
even without paper, pens, or ink, by the aid of a 
piece of leather and a blunted awl. Where there 
is a strong determination to attain an object, it is 
generally sufficient of itself to create the means ; 
and almost any means are sufficient. 

At last, however, Giffi^rd obtained some allevia- 


tion of bis extreme poverty. He had scarcely, 
he tells us, known poetry even by name, when 
8ome verses, composed by one of his acquaint- 
ances, tempted him to try what he could do m 
the same style, and he succeeded in producing a 
few rhymes. As successive little incidents in- 
spired his humble muse, he produced several more 
compositions of a similar description, till he had 
collected about a dozen of them. " Certainly," 
says he, " nothing on earth was ever so deplora- 
ble ; " but such as they were, they procured him 
not a little fame among his associates, and he began 
at last to be invited to repeat them in other circles. 
" The repetitions of which I speak," he continues, 
" "were always attended with applause, and some- 
times with favors more substantial ; little collec- 
tions were now and then made, and I have received 
sixpence in an evening. To one who had long 
lived in the absolute want of money, such a re- 
source seemed a Peruvitin mine. I furnished 
myself, by degrees, with paper &c., and what was 
of more importance, with books of geometry, and 
of the higher branches of algebra, which I cau- 
tiously concealed. Poetry, even at this time, was 
no amusement of mine ; it wao subservient to other 
purposes ; and I only had recourse to it when 
I wanted money for my mathematical pui"suits." 
But even this resource Avas soon taken from 
him. His master, having heard of his verse- 
making, was so incensed both at what he deemed 
the idleness of the occupation, and especially at 
some satirical allusions to himself, or his custom- 
ers, upon which the young poet had unwisely 
ventured, that he seized and carried away all his 
books and papers, and even proliibited him, in the 


strictest manner, from ever again repeating a line 
of his compositions. This severe stroke was 
followed by another, which reduced him to utter 
despair. The master of the free school, to which 
he had never given up the hope of succeeding, 
died, and another person was appointed to the 
situation, not much older than Gifford, and who, 
he says, was certainly not so well qualified for it as 
himself. " I look back," he proceeds, " on that part 
of my life which immediately followed this eyent, 
with little satisfaction ; it was a period of gloom 1 
and savage unsociability ; by degrees I sunk into \ 
a kind of corporeal torpor ; or, if roused into | 
activity by the spirit of youth, wasted the exer- ! 
tion in splenetic and vexatious tricks, which i 
alienated the few acquaintances which compassion 
had yet left me." 

His discontent and peevishness seem, however, 
to have gradually given way to the natural buoy- 
ancy of h'is disposition ; some evidences of kindly 
feeling from those around him tended a good deal 
to dispel his gloom ; and, especially, as the term 
of his apprenticeship drew towards a close, his 
former aspirations and hopes began to return 
to him. He had spent, however, nearly six years 
at his uncongenial employment before any decided 
prospect of deliverance opened before him. " In 
this humble and obscure state," says he, " poor 
beyond the common lot, yet flattering my ambition 
with day-dreams which perhaps would never have 
been realized, I was found, in the twentieth year 
of my age, by Mr. William Cookesley — a name 
never to be pronounced by me without veneration. 
The lamentable doggerel which I have already 
mentioned, and which had passed from mouth to 


mouth among people of my own degree had, by 
some accident or other, reached his ear, and given 
him a curiosity to inquire after the author." Mr. 
Cookesley, who was a surgeon, and not rich, 
having learnt GifFord's history from himself, 
became so much interested in his favor, that he 
determined to rescue him from his obscurity. 

" The plan," says Gifford, " that occurred to 
him was naturally that which had so often sug- 
gested itself to me. There were, indeed, several 
obstacles to be overcome. My hand-writing was 
bad, and ray language very incorrect ; but nothing 
could slacken the zeal of this excellent man. He 
procured a few of my poor attempts at rhyme, 
dispersed them among his friends and acquaint- 
ance, and, when my name was become somewhat 
familiar to them, set on foot a subscription for my 
relief. I still preserve the original paper; its 
title was not very magnificent, though it exceeded 
the most sanguine wishes of my heart. It ran 
thus : " A subscription for purchasing the re- 
mainder of the time of William Gilford, and for 
enabling him to improve himself in writing and 
English grammar.' Few contributed more than 
five shillings, and none went beyond ten and six- 
pence, — enough was however collected to free 
me from my apprenticeship, (the sum my master 
received was six pounds,) and maintained me for 
a few months, during which I assiduously attended 
the Rev. Thomas Smerdon." 

The difficulties of the poor scholar were now 
over, for his patrons Avere so much pleased with 
the progress he made during this short period, 
that upon its expiration they renewed their bounty, 
and maintained him at school for another year. 


" Such liberality," he remarks, " was not lost upon 
me ; I grew anxious to make the best return in 
my power, and I redoubled my diligence. Now, 
that I am sunk into indolence, I look back with 
some degree of skepticism to the exertions of that 
period." In two years and two months from 
what he calls the day of his emancipation, he was 
pronounced by his raixster to be fit for the univer- 
sity ; and a small office having been obtained for 
him, by JNIr. Cookesley's exertions at Oxford, he 
was entered of Exeter college, that gentleman 
undertaking to provide the additional means 
necessary to enable him to live till he should take 
his degree. Mr. Gifford's first patron died before 
his protege had time to fulfil the good man's fond 
anticipations of his future celebrity ; but he after- 
wards found in Lord Grosvenor, another much 
more able friend, though it was impossible that 
any other man could have shown more zeal in 
advancing his interests. A long and prosperous 
life was an ample compensation for the toils and 
hardships of his youth. While at the university, 
he undertook a poetical translation of the satires 
of Juvenal, but which was not published till 
several years afterwards. It is highly creditable 
to his ability as a satirist and critic. After leav- 
ing Oxford, he travelled on the continent for some 
years, with Lord Belgrave. On his return, he 
settled in London, and devoted himself to literary 
pursuits. In 1791, he published The Baviad, a 
poetical satire ; and, in 1794, The Maeviad, a 
severe animadversion on the degraded state of the 
drama. These works were virulent and coaree, 
but display much critical power. In 1797, he 
became editor of the Anti-Jacobin newspaper. 


He soon published an edition of the plays of 
Massinger ; afterwards the plays of Ben Jonson, 
Ford and Shirley, — all accompanied with notes, 
and with the lives of the dramatists. In 1809, 
he commenced the publication of the Quarterly 
Review, in opposition to the Edinburgh. He 
conducted it till 1824, Avhen the infirmities of age 
compelled him to retire. He was the writer of 
many of the articles in this Review, and generally 
performed his work with great judgment and 
ability. He seems, however, to have been want- 
ing in candor and liberal feeling. Probably 
the circumstances of his early youth, as well as 
his connection with the tory party in politics, and 
the high church party in religion, will account for 
the harshness and ungenerousness of some articles, 
which appeared in his Review, in relation to the 
United States. If he had kind feelings, they 
certainly forsook him when the religion and liter- 
ature of this country came before his considera- 
tion. Mr. Gilford was thorougly a literary man. 
Besides the works already mentioned, he was 
author of a translation of the Satires of Persius. 
He enjoyed an annuity fi'om Lord Grosvenor, 
and held the office of paymaster of the board of 
gentlemen-pensioners, with a salary of £300 a 
year. He was also, for a time, comptroller of the 
lottery, with a salary of £600 a year. His death 
took place at his residence near London, Decem- 
ber 31, 1826, and he was interred on the 8th of 
January following, in Westminster Abbey. He 
had no family. He left the greater part of his 
fortune to the son of his first kind and most dis- 
interested patron, Mr. Cookesley. 


Among the most numerous and prosperous of the 
Christian denominations in this country, are the 
Calvinistic Baptists. In numerical strength they 
are superior to any other division of the church, 
with the exception of the Methodists. Their 
growth, especially in some of the more recently 
settled portions of the country, has been extreme- « 
ly rapid. This prosperity has been owing very 
much to the energy and wisdom of a few individ- 
uals. The Baptists have not, to a great extent, I 
placed their reliance upon associated effort ; their 7 
organization, as a denomination, is far less com- | 
plete than that of any other. Their churches 
have exhibited, perhaps, more conspicuously even 
than the Congregational, the republican, or rather 
democratic principles of equality of rights and 
community of privileges. Such a state of things 
is eminently calculated to bring out individual 
effort, to cherish and develop personal character. 
Men must have a rallying point. Scattered talent 
must have a place of convergence. Nothing 
important can be accomplished in morals and re- 
ligion, any more than in war and politics, without 
leaders. If there be no organization on which to 
recline, some master-spirit will arise. If there be 
no marshalled host, the people will flock to David 
in the wilderness. If there be no college or theo- 
logical seminary, to concentrate public attention 
and discipline collected talent, some patriarch will 


draw around his tent the sons of science or the 
disciples of Jesus. 

Such have been, in the Baptist community, 
Williams, Backus, Stillman and Baldwin. With 
great and striking difference as to talent and ac- 
quirement, each of those men attained a distin- 
guished rank and exerted an extensive and an 
enduring influence. Upon each devolved the 
care, not simply of a church or congregation, but, 
in an important sense, the care of all the churches 
in the connection. With no theological seminary, 
and with not more than one college, the last three 
named, particularly, labored to supply, so far as 
unwearied personal effort could do it, the ac- 
knowledged deficiency. 

I Thomas Baldwin ^yas born in Bozrah, in the 
j State of Connecticut, December 23, 1753, and 
' was the only son of Thomas and IMary Baldwin, 
both natives of the same place. Of the early his- 
tory of his family but little is known. It may, 
however, be observed, that his father was attached 
to the military service, and rose to distinction in 
the then colonial army. He died while his son 
was a youth. His mother was a woman of talent 
and piety, and to her faithful and affectionate in- 
structions her son was greatly indebted. 

Not much is known of his early history. The 
traits of character for which he was in manhood 
remarkable, were, however, very early developed. 
From infancy his temper was noticed for its un- 
ruffled serenity. His mother used to observe that 
she never knew him, but in a single instance, to 
betray any signs of impatience ; and when, on this 
occasion, she expressed her surpi-ise, he instantly 
replied, " Mother, I am not angiy." 


He very early discovered a taste for reading. 
Not only did he devote every leisure moment to 
the improvement of his mind, but also consecrated 
to this object the hours of labor. Whenever his 
employments were of such a nature that one of 
his hands was disengaged, it was occupied with a 
book. By these habits of incessant application, 
he very early acquired a stock of valuable though 
miscellaneous information, which, combined with 
strong powers of original thinking, seemed in youth 
to mark him out for distinguished usefulness. 

At that time the advantages of education were 
much less extensively enjoyed in New England 
than at present. Schools were very rare, and the' 
general modes of instruction palpably defective. 
As a proof of this it need only be remarked, that 
when Mr. Baldwin removed to Canaan, N. H., 
where he afterwards resided, he was generally 
selected on the Sabbath to read a sermon to the 
people, who assembled for public worship, because 
he was the only young man in the town who was 
sufficiently educated to perform this service ac- 
ceptably. The mention of this fact is sufficient 
to show how strong must be his early bias towards 
intellectual improvement. 

When Mr. Baldwin was about sixteen years of 
age, his mother, who was now a second time mar- 
ried to a very worthy and pious man by the name 
of Eames, removed to Canaan, New Hampshire. 
He removed with the family ; and this became, 
for several years, the place of his residence. Li 
September, 1775, he was married to Miss Ruth 
Huntington, of Norwich, Connecticut. Before he 
was thirty years of age, Mr. Baldwin was elected 
to represent the town of Canaan in the General 


Court of the State. To this office he was repeat- 
edly reelected. 

In the year 1780, an interesting change took 
place in the character of Mr. Baldwin. After a 
season of deep religious anxiety he was enabled 
joyfully to devote himself to the service of his 
Kedeemei'. His views of truth were clear and 
impressive; his sense of the evil of sin and of 
the purity of God's law, were such as to lead him 
to deep humiliation, and to an entire and cordial 
reliance on the mediation and atonement of the 
Lord Jesus Christ. Of this period of mental so- 
licitude, JMr. Baldwin has left an interesting and 
particular memoir. Mr. Baldwin was educated 
in the principles of the Congregationalists, but 
about this time, after much deliberation, he united 
himself to the Baptists. He was ordained as an 
evangelist, in June, 1783. The following extracts 
from his journal, show his spirit and manner of 
life. " I continued my labors with the cliurch in 
Canaan seven years, during which time, though 
principally at home on the Sabbath, I spent much 
of the intervening time in visiting and preaching 
in the destitute parts of the surrounding country. 
There were few towns within the space of fifty 
miles round, in which I did not occasionally 
preach. In this warfare I went chiefly at my 
own charges. Some few churches, however, which 
I visited by appointment of the Association, made 
me some compensation, and some individuals made 
me small presents ; but I do not recollect that, 
during the whole of this period, in all my joumey- 
ings, I ever received a public contribution. My 
mode of travelling was on horseback. In pur- 
suing my appointments, I had often to climb the 


rugged mountain and descend the deep ravine. 
These exchanges from rocky steeps to dismal 
swamps were far from unfrequent at that early 
period of the settlement of this part of our country. 
The roads are since so improved, that it would be 
difficult to j^ersuade the traveller, now-a-days, that 
they have ever been so bad as the early settlers 
represent. The people were not, however, so much 
wanting in kindness as in the means of assisting a 
travelling minister. As for silver and gold, the 
gi'eater part of them had none. The cause of this 
scarcity of money arose from the peculiar circum- 
stances of the times. At the close of the Revolu- 
tionary War, the continental currency, which had 
before depreciated to almost nothing, ceased. The 
little silver that remained in the coiFers of the rich 
was, with much reluctance, permitted to be drawn 
from its long sequestered concealment. It hence 
often happened that the travelling preacher must 
either beg or go hungry, if he happened to travel 
where he was not known." 

On one occasion, in March, 1790, Mr. Baldwin 
was called to visit a remote part of New Hamp- 
shire, about one hundred miles distant, to assist in 
the establishment of a church. He left home with 
only a few shiUings, but before the first night the 
whole was lost. The journey was chiefly through 
a wilderness, with a few log-cottages to relieve 
the solitude of the gloomy forest. The snow was 
more than three feet deep, and the travelling was, 
consequently, very difficult and dangerous. At 
length Mr. Baldwin and his friends reached home 
in safety, after having subsisted on such casual 
entertainment as they could procure in the wil- 



{ During the seven years wliich he passed in 

< Canaan, the whole of his salary would not average 

; forty dollars a year ! " Hence," says Mr. Baldwin, 

! " I may say with the apostle, ' These hands have 

ministered to my necessities, and those that were 

with me.' I would gladly have devoted myself 

wholly to the work of the ministry, could I have 

seen any way in which my family might have 

been supported." 

In the year 1790, IMr. Baldwin received a 
unanimous invitation to settle in the ministry fi-om 
Sturbridge, Mass., Hampton, Conn., and from the 
Second Baptist Church in Boston. He was in- 
stalled over the latter church in November, 1790. 
This removal brought him into an almost entirely 
new sphere of action. From the frontier settle- 
ments of New Hampshire, he Avas removed to the 
centre of polished and literary society in New 
England, and placed by the side of such men as 
the Rev. Drs. Lathrop, Eliot, Howard, Belknap 
and Thacher, of the Congregational churches, and 
of the excellent Dr. Stillman, of the First Baptist 
Church ; several of whom were eminent and fin- 
ished classical scholars. The pulpits of Boston 
were, perhaps, never more ably filled. 

These circumstances added a powerful stimulus 
to Mr. Baldwin's efforts, and, in fact, created a 
new era in his life. His early advantages for 
education, as has been seen, were but scanty. 
Constant labor had left him but little opportunity 
to improve them. He was now thii'ty-eight years 
of age ; a time of life beyond which men do not 
generally make great advancement in knowledge. 
Says his biographer, "All the resources upon 
which, depending on the grace of God, he could 


rely iii this arduous situation, were sincere desires 
to be useful, native vigor of mind, a fixed resolu- 
tion to prepare himself for the duties to which 
Providence called him, a considerable store of 
sound reflection on theology, and knowledge of 
human nature." He saw his deficiencies, and 
gave himself to his work with great and unrelax- 
ing diligence. He commenced a course of judi- 
cious theological and critical study, which enabled 
him better to serve the church in the pulpit, and 
more extensively to illustrate and defend her doc- 
trines from the press. The standard of preaching 
rose in his own denomination every where around 
him. He assisted his younger brethren in their 
attempts to acquire the advantages of education. 
He set before them an example of simjile, un- 
affected piety. 

In 1803, Mr. Baldwin commenced the publi- 
cation of the Massachusetts Baptist Magazine, 
(afterwards the American Baptist Magazine.) 
From its commencement to the year 1817, he 
was its sole editor, and from 1817 to his death he 
was the senior editor. For many years this was 
the only Baptist religious periodical in America. 
To its influence, and to the labors of ]\[r. Baldwin, 
by its means, may be ascribed, in a considerable 
degree, the progress which has been made in his 
own denomination in acquaintance with each other, 
in missionary enterprise, and religious knowledge. 
In 1802, he was appointed to deliver the annual 
sermon before the Legislature of Massachusetts, on 
the day of General Election. Three editions of 
this discourse were published. It was pronounced 
by the American Review an able and interesting 


In 1803, Union college, at Schenectady, N. Y., 
conferred on Mr. Baldwin the honorary degree of 
Doctor of Divinity. He was a trustee, and after- 
wards a fellow of Brown University, at Providence, 
R. I., a trustee of Columbia college, at Washington, 
D. C, and of Waterville college, in Maine. He 
•was also president, at the time of his death, of the 
Baptist Board of Managers for Foreign Missions. 
He was a member of the convention for amending 
the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massa- 
chusetts, in the year 1821, and he occasionally ad- 
di'essed the convention with ability and effect. 

Dr. Baldwin died suddenly at Waterville, Me., 
August 29, 1825, whither he had gone to attend 
the annual commencement of the college. His re- 
mains were conveyed to Boston, and interred with 
every mark of respect and veneration. He had 
been aware, for some time, that he was drawing 
near to the grave. " Dr. Baldwin," remarks his 
biographer, " was not afraid to die. His faith was 
firm, his hope was unclouded. Like the sun at 
his setting, what was wanting in meridian splen- 
dor, was more than supplied by the mild radiance 
on which the eye delighted to dwell, and which 
threw abroad its rich and mellow glories more pro- 
fusely the nearer it approached to the moment of 
its departure." 

The number of Dr. Baldwin's publications, be- 
sides his numerous contributions to periodical 
works, amounted to thirty-seven. Most of them 
were single occasional sermons. As a proof of 
the extent of his labors, it is mentioned that the 
number of individuals whom he had baptized in 
Boston and other places, amounted to seven hun- 
dred and eighty-eight. The number of marriages 


which he solemnized in Boston, was two thousand 
six hundred and sixty-one. 

Much of the excellence of Dr. Baldwin's char- 
acter is, doubtless, to be attributed to the circum- 
stances in which he was thrown in the providence 
of God. His residence in the wilds of New 
Hampshire imparted an energy and decision to 
his character which never forsook him. The 
circle of clergymen with whom he associated in 
the metropolis of New England would naturally 
tend to correct his taste and enlarge his views. 
Still it was his own patient, self-denying, vigorous 
effort, which principally, under God, was the 
cause of his eminent usefulness. His various con- 
troversies sharpened and invigorated his reason- 
ing powers, but they did not create or essentially 
modify those powers. 

It is a most interesting fact in the historj' of Dr. 
Baldwin, that he almost commenced anew his 
literary life at the age of thirty-eight. His suc- 
cess furnishes strong encouragement to that class 
in the community whose early education has been 
neglected, and who find themselves in middle life 
in a state of comparative and humiliating igno- 
rance. It is never too late to read ; it is never 
too late to think. It is always a duty and a privi- 
lege to cultivate those noble powers of reasoning 
and judgment, which our benevolent Creator has 
given to us. Why may not the intellect be kept 
burning brightly to the last moment of life ? Why 
may not the stores of knowledge be enlarged be- 
yond the age of sixty ? Why may not even the 
imagination retain, up to the farthest limit of 
human existence, the freshness and vigor of ear- 
lier flights ? Why may not the soul spring into a 


renovated and immortal life, with unimpaired and 
unwasted energies ? Is not much of that senility 
in intellect, which we frequently observe in old 
age, to be attributed, not to the constitution of the 
mind, not to any law of the Creator, but to habits 
of bodily indulgence ; because the individual 
quietly acquiesced in what he ought to have vig- 
orously met and vanquished ? because he tamely 
submitted to the suggestions of indolence, or to 
the seductive charms of domestic life ? Why not 
approach the territories of death as Dr. Dwight 
and Robert Hall did, with firm step and clear- 
sighted vision, with intelligent humble faith, and 
with intellect too strong and elastic for the frail 
earthly tenement any longer to imprison. 


See the sage Eittenhouse, with ardent eye, 

Lift the long tube and pierce the starry sky ; 

Clear in his view the circling systems roll, 

And broader splendors gild the central pole. 

He marks what laws the eccentric wanderers bind, 

Copies creation in his forming mind, 

And bids, beneath his hand in semblance rise. 

With mimic orbs, the labors of the skies. 

Vision of Cobi/mbtis. 

David Rittenhouse was born near German- 
town, Pennsylvania, April 8th, 1732. The family 
originally came from Guelderland, a province in 
Holland. They settled in the State of New York, 
while it was a Dutch colony, and were the first 
who engaged in the manufacture of paper in this ( 
country. The father of David Rittenhouse f 
abandoned the occupation of a paper-maker, when 
about twenty-nine years of age, and commenced 
the business of a farmer, on a piece of land which 
he had purchased in the township of Norriton, 
about twenty miles from the city of Philadelphia. 
It seems that he very early designed his son for 
this useful and respectable employment. Accord- 
ingly, as soon as the boy arrived at a sufficient 
age to assist in conducting the affairs of the farm, 
he was occupied as an husbandman. Tliis kind 
of occupation appears to have commenced at an 
early period of his life. About the fourteenth 


year of his age, he was employed in ploughing in 
his father's fields. His brother Benjamin relates, 
that while David was thus engaged at the plough, 
he, (the informant,) then a young boy, was fre- 
quently sent to call him to his meals ; at which 
times he repeatedly observed, that not only the 
fences at the head of many of the furrows, but 
even his plough and its handles, were covered 
over with chalked numerical figures. Astronomy 
was a favorite pursuit. He also applied himself 
industriously to the study of optics, the mechanical 
powers, &c. without the advantage of the least 
' instruction. About the seventeenth year of liis 
f age, he made a wooden clock of very ingenious 

I' workmanship ; and soon after, he constructed one 
of the same materials that compose the common 
four-and-twenty hour clock, and upon the same 
principles. He had, much earlier in life, exhib- 
ited proofs of his mechanical genius, by making, 
when only seven or eight years old, a complete 
water-mill in miniature. 

With many valuable traits of character, old 
Mr. Rittenhouse had no claims to what is termed 
genius. Hence he did not properly appreciate 
the early specimens of talent which appeared in 
his son David. He was, for some time, opposed 
to the young man's earnest desire to renounce 
' agricultural employments, for the purpose of 
devoting himself altogether to philosophical pur- 
suits, in connection with some such mechanical 
profession as might best comport with useful 
objects of natural philosophy, and be most likely, 
at the same time, to afford him the means of a 
comfortable subsistence. At length, however, the 
father yielded his own inclinations, in order to 


gratify what was manifestly the irresistible im- 
pulse of his son's genius. He supplied him with 
money to purchase, in Philadelphia, such tools as 
were more immediately necessary for commencing 
the clock-making business, which the son then 
adopted as his profession. About the same time, 
young Mr. Rittenhouse erected, on the side of a 
public road and on his father's land, in the town- 
ship of Norriton, a small but commodious work- 
shop ; and after having made many implements 
of the trade with his own hands, to supply the 
deficiency in his purchased stock, he set out in 
good earnest, as a clock and mathematical instru- 
ment maker. From the age of eighteen or nineteen 
to twenty-five, Mr. Rittenhouse applied himself 
unremittingly, both to his trade and his studies. 
Employed throughout the day in his attention to 
the former, he devoted much of his nights to the 
latter. Indeed, he depi'ived himself of the 
necessary hours of rest ; for it was his almost I 
invariable practice, to sit up at his books, until/ 
midnight, sometimes much later. i 

When Mr. Eittenhouse's father established his 
residence at Norriton, and during the minority of 
the son, there were no schools in the vicinity at 
which anything more was taught, than reading 
and writing in the English language, and the 
simplest rules of arithmetic. Young Kitten- 
house's school education was therefore necessarily 
bounded by very narrow limits. He was in 
truth taught nothing beyond those very circum- 
scribed studies, which have been named, prior to 
his ninteenth year. The zeal with which he pur- 
sued his studies will be seen from the following 
extract of a letter, Avritten in September, 


ing then little more than twenty-four years of age. 
" I have not health for a soldier," (the country 
was then engaged in war,) " and as I have no 
expectation of serving my country in that way, I 
am spending my time in the old trifling manner, 
and am so taken with optics, that I do not know 
whether, if the enemy should invade this part of 
the country, as Archimedes was slain while 
making geometrical figui*es on the sand, so I 
should die making a telescope." 

An incident now occurred which served to make 
known more extensively, the extraordinary genius 
of Eittenhouse. His mother had two hrothers, 
David and Lewis Williams (or William,) both of 
Avhom died in their minority. David, the elder 
of these, pursued the trade of a carpenter, or 
joiner. Though, like his nephew and namesake, 
he was almost wholly an uneducated youth, he 
also, like him, early discovered an unusual genius 
and strength of mind. After the death of this 
young man, on opening a chest containing the 
implements of his trade, which was deposited at 
Mr. M. Rittenhouse's, (in whose family it is pre- 
sumed he dwelt,) a few elementary books, treating 
of arithmetic and geometry were found in it. 
With these, there were various calculations and 
other papers, in manuscript ; all the productions 
of David Williams himself, and such as indicated 
not only an uncommon genius, but an active 
spirit of philosophical research. To this humble 
yet valuable cofter of his deceased uncle, Eitten- 
house had free access, while yet a very young 
boy. He often spoke of this acquisition as a 
treasure, inasmuch as the instruments belonging 
to his uncle, afforded him the means of gratifying 


and exercising his mechanical genius, while the 
books and manuscripts early led his mind to 
those congenial pursuits in mathematical and 
astronomical science, which were ever the favor- 
ite objects of his studies. This circumstance, 
probably, occurred before his twelfth year. 
" It was during the residence of Rittenhouse 
with his father at Norriton," says his eulogist, 
Dr. Rush, "that he made himself master of 
Sir Isaac Newton's Principia, which he read 
in the English translation of Mr. Motte. It was 
here, Hkewise, that he became acquainted with the 
science of fluxions ; of which sublime invention, 
he believed himself for a while to be the author, 
nor did he know for some years afterwards, that 
a contest had been carried on between Sir Isaac j 
Newton and Leibnitz, for the honor of that great I 
and useful discovery." Mr. Rittenhouse's early ' 
zeal in his practical researches into astronomy, 
prompted him to desire the greatest possible 
accuracy in the construction of time-pieces adapted 
to astronomical purposes '; and uniting, as he did, 
operative skill with a thorough knowledge of the 
principles upon which their construction depends, 
he was enabled, by his own mechanical ingenuity, 
to gain a near approach to the perfection to which 
the pendulum-chronometer may be brought. 

" There is nothing peculiar in the mechanism 
of this time-piece, which requires to be mentioned, 
except the pendulum ; especially the apparatus for 
counteracting the effects of temperature. For 
this purpose, there is fastened on the pendulum- 
rod (which is of iron or steel) a glass tube about 
thirty-sLx inches long ; bent in the middle into 
two parallel branches, at the distance of about an 


inch from each other ; the bend being placed 
downwards, immediately above the bob of the 
pendulum. The tube is open at one end, and 
closed at the other ; the arm which is closed at 
the top is filled, within about two inches of the 
lower end or bend, with alcohol, and the rest of 
the tube, within about one half of an inch of the 
upper extremity, or open end, with mercury; a 
few inches of the tube, at this extremity, being 
about twice the width of the rest of the tube. 

"Now when the heat of the air increa-NCS, it 
will expand the pendulum-rod and would thus 
lower the centre of oscillation, and cause the 
clock to go slower ; but this effect is completely 
counteracted, by the expansion of the alcohol 
chiefly, and of the mercury in part ; which equally 
raises the centre of oscillation, and thus preserves 
an equable motion in all the variable temperatures 
of the atmosphere." V 

The great accuracy and exquisite workmanship 
displayed in everything belonging to the profes- 
sion which Mr. Eittenhouse pursued, that came 
through his hands, soon became extensively 
known, in that portion of the United States where 
he lived. This knowledge of his mechanical 
abilities, assisted by the reputation which he had 
already acquired as a mathematician and astrono- 
mer, in a short time procured him the friendship 
and patronage of some eminent scientific men. 
In mechanics he was entirely self-taught. He 
never received the least instruction from any 
person, in any mechanic art whatever. If he 
were to be considered merely as an excellent 
artist, in an occupation intimately connected with 
the science of mechanics, untutored as he was in 


any art or science, be would deservedly be deemed 
an extraordinary man. 

In the bosom of bis father's family be long con- 
tinued to enjoy the tranquil scenes of rural life, 
amidst the society of an amiable and very intelli- 
gent family circle, and surrounded by many 
estimable neighbors, by whom he was both loved 
and respected. His chief occupation was that of 
the profession which he had chosen, but the occa- 
sional intervals of leisure from his business, which 
his assistant workmen enabled him to obtain, he 
devoted to philosophical and abstract studies. 

In February, 17G6, Mr. Rittenhouse was mar- 
ried to Miss Eleanor Colston, the daughter of a 
respectable member of the Society of Friends, 
who lived in the neighborhood. After her death 
he married Miss Hannah Jacobs. 

In the 1767, among other things, he contrived 
and made a very ingenious thermometer, con- 
structed on the principle of the expansion and 
contraction of metals by heat and cold, respect- 
ively. This instrument had, under glass, a face 
upon which was a graduated semi-circle ; the 
degrees of heat and cold corresponded with those 
of Fahrenheit's thermometer; and these were 
also correspondingly designated by an index 
moving on the centre of the arch. Its square, or 
rather parallelogramical form, its flatness and 
thinness, and its small size, together with its not 
being liable to the least sensible injury or irregu- 
larity, from any position in which it might . be 
placed, rendered it a very convenient thermometer 
to be carried in the pocket. 

About this time Mr, Rittenhouse made a very 
ingenious orrery. Though no description in 


words, can give an adequate idea, yet we sub- 
join a part of the philosopher's own account 
of it. " This machine is intended to have three 
faces, standing perpendicular to the horizon ; that 
in the front to be four feet square, made of sheet 
brass, curiously polished, silvered and painted, in 
proper places, and otherwise properly ornamented. 
From the centre arises an axis, to support a 
gilded brass ball, intended to represent the sun. 
Round this ball move others, made of brass or 
ivory, to represent the planets. They are to move 
in elliptical orbits, having the central ball in one 
focus ; and their motions to be sometimes swifter, 
and sometimes slower, as nearly according to the 
true law of an equable description of areas as 
possible, without too great a complication of wheel 
work. The orbit of each planet is likewise to be 
properly inclined to those of the others ; and their 
aphelia and nodes justly placed ; and their veloci- 
ties so accurately adjusted, as not to differ sensibly 
from the tables of astronomy in some thousands 
of years. 

" For the greater beauty of the instrument, the 
balls representing the planets are to be of consid- 
erable bigness ; but so contrived that they may be 
taken off at pleasure, and others, much smaller, 
and fitter for some purposes, put in their places. 

" When the machine is put in motion, by the 
turning of a winch, there are tliree indices which 
point out the hour of the day, the day of the 
month, and the year answering to that situation 
of the heavenly bodies which is there represent- 
ed ; and so continually, for a period of five thou- 
sands years, either forwards or backwards. 

" The two lesser faces are four feet in height. 


and two feet three inches in breadth. One of 
them will exhibit all the appearances of Jupiter 
and his satellites, their eclipses, transits, and in- 
clinations ; likewise all the appearances of Saturn, 
with his ring and satelUtes. And the other will 
represent aU the phenomena of tlie moon, partic- 
ularly, the exact time, quantity, and duration of 
her eclipses, — and tiiose of the sun occasioned 
bj her interposition ; with a most curious contriv- 
ance for exhibiting the appearance of a solar 
eclipse, at any particular place on the earth, like- 
wise the true place of the moon in the signs, with 
her latitude, and the place of her apogee in the 
nodes ; the sun's declination, equation of time, (fec- 
it must be understood that all these motions are 
to correspond exactly with the celestial motions ; 
and not to differ several degrees from the truth, 
in a few revolutions, as is common in orreries^" 

Some general idea, perhaps, of this instrument, 
may be derived from the preceding description ; 
at least it will afford sufficient evidence of the 
extraordinary philosophical and mechanical pow- 
ers of Rittenhouse. 

Another most important service, which he 
rendered for the world, was the observation of 
the transit of Venus over the sun's disc, which 
took place on the third of June, 1769. There 
had been but one of these transits of Venus over 
the sun, during the course of about one hundred 
and thirty years preceding that of 1769 ; and, for 
upwards of seven centuries, antecedently to the 
commencement of that period, the same planet 
had passed over the sun's disc no more than thir- 
teen times. The next transit of Venus will take 
place on the 8th of December, 1874, which but few 


if any persons then on the stage of life, will have 
an opportunity of observing. From 1874, down 
to the 14th of June, A. D. 2984, inclusively, — a 
period of upwards of eleven centui'ies, — the 
same planet will pass over the sun's disc only 
eighteen times. 

The great use of the observation of the transit 
of Venus is to determine the sun's parallax.* 
Only two of these phenomena had been observed 
since the creation of the world, and the first had 
been seen by only two persons — Jeremiah 
Horrox and William Crabtree, two Englishmen. 
As the time approached when this extraordinaxy 
phenomenon was to manifest itself, the public 
expectation and anxiety were greatly excited. 
The American Philosophical Society appointed 
thirteen gentlemen, to be distributed into three 
committees, for the purpose of making observa- 
tions. Rev. Dr. Ewing had the principal direc- 
tion of the observatory in the city of Philadelphia ; 
Mr. Owen Biddle had the charge of superintend- 
ing the observations at Cape Henlopen, and Mr. 
Eittenhouse those at Norriton, near his own resi- 
dence, on an elevated piece of ground, command- 
ing a good range of horizontal view. It ^yas 
completely furnished with the necessary instru- 
ments, owing very much to the liberality of some 
scientific gentlemen in England. 

* A parallax denotes a change of the apparent place of 
any heavenly body, caused by being seen from different 
points of view ; or it is the difference between the true and 
apparent distance of any heavenly body from the zenith. 
The fixed stars are so remote as to have no sensible parallax ; 
and even the sun and all the primary planets, except Mars 
and Venus when nearest the earth, are at so great distances 
from the earth, that their parallax is too small to be observed 


" "We are naturally led," says Dr. Rush, in his 
eulogium, " to take a view of our philosopher, 
with his associates, in their preparations to observe 
a phenomenon, which had never been seen but 
twice before by any inhabitant of our earth, which 
would never be seen again by any person then 
living, and on which depended very important 
astronomical consequences. The night before the 
long expected day, was probably passed in a 
degree of solicitude which precluded sleep. How 
great must have been their joy, when they beheld 
the morning sun ; and the ' whole horizon without . 
a cloud,' for such is the description of the day, 
given by Mr. Rittenhouse, in his report to Dr. 
Smith. In pensive silence and trembling anxiety, 
they waited for the predicted moment of observa- 
tion ; it came, — and brought with it all that had 
been wished for and expected by those who saw 
it. In our philosopher, in the instant of one of 
the contacts of the planet with the sun, there was 
an emotion of delight so exquisite and powerful, 
as to induce fainting ; — such was the extent of 
that pleasure, which attends the discovery or first 
perception of truth." 

The observations of Mr. Rittenhouse were 
received with favor by the whole philosophical 
world. Mr. Ludlam, one of the vioe presidents 
of the Philosophical Society of London, and an 
eminent astronomer, thus writes : " No astrono- 
mers could better deserve all possible encourage- 
ment ; whether we consider their care and 
diligence in making their observations, their 
fidelity in relating what was done, or the clearness 
and accuracy of their reasoning on this curious 
and difficult subject. The more I read the trans- 


actions of your Society, (the American Philosoph- 
ical,) the more I honor and esteem the members 
of it. There is not another Society in the world, 
that can boast of a memher such as Mr. Ritten- 
HOUSE ; theorist enough to encounter the pro- 
blems of determining, from a few observations, 
the orbit of a comet ; and also mechanic enough 
to make with his own hands, an equal-altitude 
instrument, a transit-telescope, and a time-piece. 
I wish I was near enough to see his mechanical 
apparatus. I find he is engaged in making a 
curious orrery." 

Dr. Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal at Green- 
wich, says, the " Pennsylvania Observations of 
the transit were excellent and complete, and do 
honor to the gentleman who made them, and those 
•who promoted the undertaking." Dr. Wrangel, 
an eminent and learned Swedish clergyman, 
speaking of the Transactions of the American 
Philosophical Society, says : " Your accurate 
observations of the transit of Venus, have given 
infinite satisfaction to our Swedish astronomers." 

On the 9 th of November, folloAving, Mr. 
Rittenhouse, in connection with several others, 
observed a transit of Mercury over the sun's disc. 

In the autumn of 1770, Mr. Rittenhouse re- 
moved with his family to the city of Philadelphia. 

A new phenomenon in the heavens soon after 
engaged his attention ; this was the comet which 
appeared in June and July, 1770. " Herewith I 
Bend you," says Mr. Rittenhouse, writing to Dr. 
Smith, " the fruit of three or four days' labor, 
during which I have covered many sheets, and 
literally drained ray ink-stand several times." In 
another letter he remarks, " I told you that some 


intricate calculation, or other, always takes up my 
idle hours, (he seems to have considered all his 
hours ' idle ' ones which were not taken up in 
some manual employment,) that I cannot find 
time to write to my friends as often as I could 
wish ; -a new object has lately engrossed my 
attention. The comet which appeared a few 
weeks since was so very extraordinary, that I 
could not forbear tracing it in all its wanderings, 
and endeavoring to reduce that motion to order 
and regularity which seemed void of any. This, 
I think, I have accomplished, so far as to be able 
to compute its visible place for any given time ; 
and I can assure you that the account from York, 
of its having been seen again near the place 
where it first appeared, is a mistake. Nor is Mr. 
Winthrop of Boston happier, in supposing that it 
yet crosses the meridian, every day, between 
twelve and one o'clock, that it has already passed 
its peripelion, and that it may, perhaps, again 
emerge from the southern horizon. This comet 
is now to be looked for nowhere but a little to the 
north of, and very near to the ecliptic. It rises 
now a little before day -break ; and will continue 
to rise sooner and sooner every morning." 

In March, 1771, the Legislature of Pennsyl- 
vania bore the following honorable testimony to 
the worth of Mr. Rittenhouse. 

"The members of assembly, having viewed the 
orrery constructed by Mr. David Rittenhouse, a 
native of this province, and being of opinion that 
it greatly exceeds all others hitlierto constructed, 
in demonstrating the true situations of the celes- 
tial bodies, their magnitudes, motions, distances, 
periods, eclipses, and order, upon the principles c£ 
the Newtonian system : 


^^ Resolved, That the sum of three hundred 
pounds be given to Mi*. Rittenhouse, as a testi- 
mony of the high sense, which this house entertain 
of his mathematical genius and mechanical abili- 
ties, in constructing the said orrery." 

In January, 1771, Mr. Rittenhouse was elected 
one of the Secretaries of the American Philo- 
sophical Society. In 1789, the honorary degree 
of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon Mr. 
Rittenhouse by the college of New Jersey. In 
January, 1791, on the death of Dr. Franklin, Dr. 
Rittenhouse was, with great unanimity, elected 
President of the American Philosophical Society. 
In 1795, he was elected a member of the Royal 
Society of London. This high honor had been 
previously conferred upon only three or four 

But he did not live long to enjoy his distin- 
guished honors. Soon after his entrance upon 
the sixty-fifth year of his age, in June, 179G, he 

The Rev. Dr. Ashbel Green, being pastor of 
the congregation in which Dr. Rittenhouse had 
often attended divine worship during the latter 
years of his life, pronounced an appropriate 
address at his interment. " This," says Dr. 
Green, " is emphatically the tomb of genius and 
science. Their child, their martyr is here depos- 
ited, — and their friends will make his eulogy in 
tears. I stand not here to pronounce it; the 
thought that engrosses my mind is this; how 
much moi'e clear and impressive must be the 
views, which the late spiritual inhabitant of that 
lifeless corpse now possesses of God, — of his 
infinite existence, of hi? adorable attributes, and 
of that eternal blaze of glory Avhich emanates 


from Him, — than when she was blinded by her 
vail of flesh ! Accustomed as she was to pene- 
trate far into the universe, — far as corporeal or 
mental vision here can reach, — still what new 
and extensive scenes of wonder have opened on 
her eyes, enlightened and invigorated by death ! 
The discoveries of Rittenhouse, since he died, 
have already been more, and greater, than while 
he lived. Yes, and could he address us from the 
spiritual world, his language would be — 

• All, all on earth is shadow, all beyond 
Is substance. — ' " 

In a conversation with the Rev. Dr. Sproat, 
Dr. Rittenhouse, a short time before his death, 
declared that " he could veith truth say, that ever 
since he had examined Christianity and thought 
upon the subject, he was a firm believer in it ; and 
that he expected salvation only in the way of the 
gospel." He had not attached himself to any 
particular church. The members of his family 
were mostly of the Society, of Friends. In the 
last years of his life he read many books on 
natural and revealed religion. He was much 
pleased with the " Thoughts of Pascal." 

He was a very modest and unassuming man, 
and in this strikingly resembled Sir Isaac Newton, 
for whose character and Avorks, he had the highest 
veneration. His usefulness, though great, was 
considerably circumscribed by his want of an 
early education. In consequence of this, he felt 
an unbecoming diffidence in his own powers, and 
failed to commit his discoveries and thoughts to 
writing, which, in a published form, would, 
doubtless, have eminently increased his usefulness, 
and the honor of the country which gave him birth. 


Samuel Huntington was born in Windham,, 
in the State of Connecticut, July 3, 1732. The 
family of Huntingtons emigrated into this countiy 
at an early period. Nathaniel Huntington, the 
father of Samuel, was a plain but estimable man, 
who followed the occupation of farming, in the 
town of Windham. His wife was distinguished 
for piety and native talent, and their numerous 
children, of whom three devoted themselves to 
the Christian ministry, were endued with an un- 
usual share of mental vigor. Samuel, however, 
did not participate in the invaluable benefits 
which a collegiate education conferred upon his 
brothers. Being the eldest son, he was destined 
to pursue the humble* but honorable course of his 
father — the cultivation of the soil. His oppor- 
tunities for acquiring knowledge were extremely 
limited, and he received no other education than 
the common schools of Connecticut at that time 
afforded. He was gifted, however, with a line 
understanding, and with a strong taste for mental 
improvement. He employed all his leisure hours 
in reading and study. But even in this limited 
and imperfect course he was compelled to struggle 
with great difficulties. Books were then exceed- 
ingly rare. We, who live in the nineteenth 
century, can hardly conceive the extent of the 
destitution of books, which prevailed even in the 
time of the Revolutionary war. The whole 


library of which some most respectable families 
were possessed, consisted of a Psalter, one large 
Bible, and two or three of smaller size, Dil worth's 
SpelHng Book, an Almanac, and perhaps one 
volume of the Berry Street (London) Sermons. 
Some families contrived to obtain a few additional 
works, but the scarcity everywhere was very 
great A curious proof of this is found in the Life 
of President Edwards, in which he acknowledges 
repeatedly, his great obligations to his foreign 
correspondents for books and pamphlets, which 
would not now be considered worth a transmission 
across the Atlantic. Social or public libraries 
were almost unknown, especially in the smaller 

The labors of the farm, which young Hunting- 
ton continued to perform until the twenty-second 
year of his age, necessarily occupied the greater 
portion of his time, yet his strong mind and un- 
wearied industry enabled him to acquire consider- 
able scientific information upon various subjects. 
At the age of twenty-two years, w-hen he aban- 
doned his agricultural pursuits to engage in the 
study of the law, he had acquired, principally 
from his own unassisted exertions, an excellent 
common education. He attained considerable 
acquaintance with the Latin language, but it does 
not appear that he directed his attention to any 
other foreign tongue. 

He early manifested a strong desire to study 
the legal profession ; he resolved " to thread the 
maze of the law," with no other guide than his 
own judgment and perseverance, and to attain to 
distinguished usefulness by industry and self- 
denial. It is probable that the method adopted 


by him arose from pecuniary difficulties. He did 
not attempt to seek the benefits of legal tuition in 
the office of a lawyer, but borrowed the necessary 
books from colonel Jedediah Elderkin, a member 
of the profession, residing in Norwich. Having 
attained a competent knowledge of the general 
principles of law, he commenced' his professional 
career in the town of Windham. In 1760, he 
removed to Norwich. His reputation as an advo- 
cate and a man of talents was soon established. 
Aided by a candid and deliberate manner, which 
appeared in some degree constitutional, few law- 
yers commanded a more extensive practice. He 
was known to be a man of good sense, integrity 
and punctuahty. In 1774, Mr. Huntington was 
appointed an associate judge of the superior court. 
In 1775, in conjunction with Eoger Sherman, 
Titus Hosmer, Oliver Wolcott -and William 
Williams, Mr. Huntington took his seat in the 
general congress. In July, 1776, he affixed his 
name to the immortal instrument which declared 
our independence. He retained his seat in 
congress till 1780. 

His stern integrity and inflexible patriotism ren- 
dered him a prominent member, and attracted a 
large portion of the current business of the house, 
especially that which was assigned to committees. 
On the 28th of September, 1779, on the resigna- 
tion of John Jay, Mr. Huntington was chosen to 
the highest civil dignity of the country — that of 
president of congress. In 1781, he dechned a re- 
appointment, on account of ill health. He then 
resumed his judicial functions in the supreme court 
of Connecticut. In 1783, he again took his seat 
in congress. In 1784, he was appointed chief- 


justice of the supreme court of Connecticut. He 
presided on the bench with great ability, integrity 
and reputation. In 1786, he succeeded governor 
Griswold as cliief magistrate of the State, and 
continued to be reelected with singular unanimity 
till his death. He closed his life at Norwich, on 
the oth of January, 1796, in the sixty-fourth year 
of his age. His death was tranquil and exem- 
plary, and his religious confidence generally firm 
and unwavering. 

For many years he had been a professor of re- 
ligion, and appeared to derive great delight from 
the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel. When 
the congregation with which he worshipped was 
destitute of preaching, he officiated as a reader 
and conductor of the services. 

Perhaps no man ever possessed greater mild- 
ness and equanimity than governor Huntington. 
A living witness attests, that during a residence 
of twenty-four years in his family, he never, in a 
single instance, exhibited the slightest symptom 
of anger, nor spoke one word calculated to wound 
the feelings of another, or to injure an absent 
person. Notwithstanding his elevation, he had 
none of that false pride, which dignity and honors 
are so apt to create. After performing the busi- 
ness of his office and instructing numerous stu- 
dents in the principles of law he was accustomed, 
if any garden or household utensils had been 
broken, to repair them with his own hands ; and 
rather than require the attendance of a servant 
for any trivial vservices, he would perform them 
himself. Being a man of great simplicity and 
plainness of manners, he maintained that it was a 
pubUc duty to exhibit such an example as might, 


SO far as his individual efforts could avail, coun- 
teract the spirit of extravagance, which had begun 
to appear. He was very economical, though not 
parsimonious, in his personal habits and domestic 
arrangements. His distinguishing characteristics, 
both in conversation and in epistolary correspond- 
ence, were brevity and caution. 

In 1762, he was married to Miss Martha 
Devotion, a daughter of the very respectable 
clergyman of the town of Windham. Having no 
children of their own, they adopted two children 
of their brother's, the Rev. Joseph Huntington. 
The late Samuel Huntington, governor of Ohio, 
and Mrs. Griffin, the lady of the venerable presi- 
dent of Williams college, were the individuals 
who supplied the deficiency in his family, and 
were privileged with his excellent example and 



William Edwards, the celebrated Welsh en- 
gineer, was born in 1719, in the parish of Eglwy- 
san, in Glamorganshire. He lost his father, who 
was a farmer, when he was only two years old ; 
but his mother continued to hold the farm, and 
was in this manner enabled to bring up her 
family, consisting of two other sons and a daugh- 
ter, besides Wilham, who was the youngest. Her 
other sons, indeed, were soon old enough to take 
the chief part of the charge from her hands. 
William was taught in the mean time to read and 
write Welsh ; and this was all the education which 
he seems to have received. When about the age 
of fifteen, he first began to employ himself in 
repairing the stone fences of the farm ; and in 
this humble species of masonry he soon acquired 
uncommon expertness. The excellent work he 
made, and the despatch with which he finished 
it, at last attracted the notice of the neighboring 
farmers ; and they advised his brothers to keep 
him at this business, and let him employ his skill, 
when wanted, on other farms, as well as their own. 
After this he was for some time constantly en- 
gaged; and he regularly added his earnings to 
the common stock of the family. 

Hitherto, the only sort of building which he 
had practised or had seen practised, was merely 
stone-masonry without mortar. But at length it 
happened that some masons came to the parish to 


erect a shed for shoeing horses, near a smith's 
shop. William contemplated the operations of 
these architects with the liveliest interest, and he 
used to stand by them for hours while they were 
at work, taking note of every movement which 
they made. A circumstance, which at once struck 
him, was that they used a different description of 
hammer from what he had been accustomed to 
employ ; and perceiving its superiority, he imme- 
diately procured one of the same kind for himself. 
With this he found he could build his walls much 
moi'e neatly than he had been wont to do. 

But it was not long after he had, for the first 
time in his life, an opportunity of seeing how 
houses were erected, that he undertook to build 
one himself. It was a workshop for a neighbor ; 
and he performed his task in such a manner as 
gained him great applause. Very soon after this, 
he was employed to erect a mill, by which he still 
further increased his reputation. He was now 
accounted the best workman in that part of the 
country, and being highly esteemed for integrity 
and fidelity to his engagements, as well as for his 
skill, he had as much employment in his line of a 
common builder as he could undertake. 

In his twenty-seventh year, however, he was 
induced to engage in an enterprise of a much more 
difficult and important character than anything 
which he had hitherto attempted. Through his 
native parish runs a river, called the Taff, which 
flows into the estuary of the Severn. It was 
proposed to throw a bridge over this river, at a 
particular spot, where it crossed the line of an 
intended road ; but to this design difficulties of a 
somewhat formidable nature presented themselves, 


owing both to the great breadth of the river, and 
the frequent swellings to which it was subject. 
Mountains, covered with wood, rose to a consid- 
erable height from both its banks ; which first 
attracted and detained every approaching cloud, 
and then sent down its contents in torrents to the 
river. Edwards, undertook the task of construct- 
ing the proposed bridge, though it was the first 
work of the kind in which he ever engaged. 

Accordingly, in the year 1746, he set to work; 
and in due time completed a very light and elegant 
bridge, of three arches, which, notwithstanding 
that it was the work of both an entirely self-taught 
and an equally untravelled artist, was acknowl- 
edged to be superior to anything of the kind in 
Wales. So far his success had been as perfect 
as anything which could be desired. But his 
undertaking was far from being yet finished. He 
had, both through himself and his friends, given 
security that the work should stand for seven 
years ; and for two and a half years of this- term 
all went on Avell. There then occurred a flood of 
extraordinary magnitude ; not only the torrents 
came down from the mountains, in their accus- 
tomed channels, but they brought along with them 
trees of the largest size, which they had torn up 
by the roots ; and these detained, as they floated 
along by the middle piers of the bridge, formed a 
dam there ; the waters accumulating behind, at 
length burst from their confinement, and swept 
away the whole structure. 

This was no light misfortune in every way to 
poor Edwards ; but he did not suffer himself to be 
disheartened by it, and he immediately proceeded, 
as his contract bound him to do, to the erection of 


another bridge. He now determined, however, 
to span the whole width of the river by a single 
' arch of the unexampled magnitude of one hundred 
I and forty feet from pier to pier. He finished the 
' erection of this stupendous arch in 1751, and had 
only to add the parapets, when he was doomed 
once more to behold his bridge sink into the water 
over which he had raised it, — the extraordinary 
weight of the masoniy having forced up the key- 
stones, and, of course, at once deprived the arch 
of what sustained its equipoise. 

Heavy as was this second disappointment to 
the hopes of the young architect, it did not shake 
his courage any more than the former had done. 
j The reconstruction of his bridge for the third time 
} was immediately begun with unabated spirit and 
confidence. Still determined to adhere to his last 
plan of a single arch, he had now thought of an in- 
genious contrivance for diminishing the enormous 
weight which had formerly forced the kay-stone 
out of its place. In each of the lai'ge masses of 
masonry, called the haunches of the bridge, being 
the parts immediately above the two extremities 
of the arch, he opened three cylindrical holes, 
which not only relieved the central part of the 
structure from aU overpressure, but greatly im- 
proved its general appearance in point of lightness 
and elegance. This bridge was finished in 1755 ; 

I the whole undertaking having occupied the archi- 
t'tect about nine years in all ; and it has stood ever 
since. This bridge, at the time of its erection, 
was the largest stone arch known to exist in the 

Since that time, stone arches of extraordinary 
dimensions have been built, — such as the five 


arches composing the splendid Pont de Neuilly, 
over the river Seine, near Paris, the span of each 
of which is one hundred and twenty-eight feet ; — 
the island-bridge, over the Liffey, near DubUn, 
which is a single arch one hundred and six feet 
in width ; — the bridge over the Tees, at Winston 
in Yorkshire, which is also a single arch one hun- 
dred and eight feet nine inches in width, was built 
by John Johnson, a common mason, at a cost of 
only five hundred pounds ; — and the nine elliptical 
arches, each of one hundred and twenty feet span, 
forming the magnificent Waterloo bridge, over the 
Thames, at London. A bridge has recently been 
built at Chester, which is the largest single arch 
in the world, being two hundred feet span. At 
Bishop's Wearmouth, in the county of Durham, 
there is a cast-iron bridge over the river Wear, 
the chord of the arch of which is two hundred and 
forty feet long. The Southwark or Trafalgar 
bridge, over the Thames, at London, is at present 
the finest iron bridge in the world. It consists of 
three arches ; the chord of the middle arch is two 
hundred and forty feet long. There is a timber 
bridge over the Delaware, near Trenton, N. J., 
which is the segment of a circle three hundred 
and forty-five feet in diameter. The wooden 
bridge over the Schuylkill, at Philadelphia, was of 
the extraordinary span of three hundred and forty 
feet; but having been destroyed by fire, a few 
years since, it is now replaced by a splendid one 
of wire. The bridge over the Piscataqua, near 
Portsmouth, N. H., is the segment of a circle six 
hundred feet in diameter. 

The bridge built by Edwards, over the Taff, 
buttressed as it is at each extremity by lofty moun- 


tains, while the water flows in full tide beneath it 
at the distance of thirty-five feet, presents an as- 
pect very striking and magnificent. This bridge 
spread the fame of Edwards over all the country. 
He afterwards built many bridges in South Wales, 
having their arches formed of segments of much 
larger circles, and consequently much more con- 
venient. He found his way to this improvement 
entirely by his own experience and sagacity ; as 
indeed he may be said to have done in regard to 
all the knowledge which he possessed in his art. 
Even his principles of common masonry, he used 
liimself to declare, he learned chiefly from his 
studies among the ruins of an old gothic castle in 
his native parish. 

Edwards was, likewise, a farmer to the end of 
his days. Such, moreover, was his unwearied 
activity that, not satisfied with his weekday labors 
in these two capacities, he also ofiiciated on the 
Sabbath as pastor of an Independent congregation, 
having l)een regularly ordained to that office when 
he was about thirty years of age, and holding it 
till his death. He accepted the usual salary from 
his congregation, considering it right that they 
should support their minister ; but instead of put- 
ting the money into his own pocket, he returned 
it all, and often much more, in charity to the poor. 
He always preached in Welsh, though early in 
life he had made himself acquainted with the 
English language, having acquired it under the 
tuition of a blind old schoolmaster, in whose house 
he once lodged for a short time, while doing some 
work at the county-town of Cardiff. In this effort 
he showed all his characteristic assiduity. 

He died in 1789, in the seventieth year of his 


age. His eldest son, David, became also an emi- 
nent architect and^lbridge-builder, though he had 
no other instruction in his pi'ofession than what 
his father had given him. David's eldest son, 
also, inherited the genius of his father and grand- 



It is not our object to write the life, or even to 
abridge the interesting Memoir of this venerated 
man. We shall simply collect such facts as bear 
on the design of our present undertaking, incor- 
porating such remarks as may seem timely and 

'• My father," says Dr. Scott, " was a grazier ; a 
man of a small and feeble body, but of uncommon 
energy of mind and vigor of intellect ; by which 
he surmounted, in no common degree, the almost 
total want of education. His circumstances were 
very narrow, and for many years he struggled 
with urgent difficulties. But L3 rose above 
them, and, though never affluent, his credit was 
supported, and he lived in more comfortable 
circumstances to the age of seventy-six years. 
He had thirteen children, ten of whom lived to 
maturity ; and my eldest brother was twenty-three 
years older than my youngest sister. Having 
been taught, principally by my mother, to read 
fluently and to spell accurately, I learned the first 
elements of Latin at Burgh, two miles off, at a 
school to which, for a while, I went as a day 
scholar. But at eight years of age I was sent to 
Bennington, a village about four miles north of 
Boston, where my father had a grazing farm, that 
I might attend a school in the parish kept by a 
clergyman. Here I continued about two years ; 
and, in addition to writing, and the first rudiments 


of arithmetic, I learned a little Latin, at my 
master's desire, who thought he saw in me a turn 
for that kind of learning. He had, as I recollect, 
no other Latin scholar." 

About this time his eldest brother, who was a 
surgeon in the navy, died. "My father," con- 
tinues the narrative, " felt this event, as, in every 
way, a most heavy affliction. He deterniined, 
however, if possible, to have a son in the medical 
profession ; and, as I was thought of the proper 
age, and seemed capable of readily learning 
Latin, I was selected. From this time my atten- 
tain was almost entirely directed to that language ; 
and, at different places, I got a superficial knowl- 
edge of several books generally read at schools ; 
which gave the appearance of far greater profi- 
ciency than I had actually made. At ten years 
of age I was sent to Scorton, where my brother 
had been before me ; and there I remained five 
years, without returning home, or seeing any 
relation or acquaintance. The whole expense of 
boarding and clothing me amounted to £14 a 
year ; two guineas were paid for teaching, books 
being found ; there were some extra charges for 
writing, arithmetic, and French, and some ex- 
penses for medical assistance ; but I have often 
heard my father mention that I cost him £17 a 
year for five years. I think he must have under- 
rated the sum, but I am fully satisfied that £100 
more than covered all the charges of the five 
years ; and this was all the cost of my education. 

" The Rev. John Noble was head-master of 
the school at Scorton. He had been, in his day, 
indisputably, an able teacher of the learned 
languages ; but at this time he was old and leth- 


argic ; and though still assiduous, was most grossly 
imposed upon by the boys, and by none more than 
by myself. When I arrived at Scorton, I was 
asked what Latin books I had read ; and my 
answer induced the usher to overrate my profi- 
ciency, and to place me in a class much beyond 
my superficial attainments. This, however, stim- 
ulated me to close application, and it was not very 
long before I overtook my class-mates, and with 
ease accompanied them. Had I then been again 
pushed forward, I might have been excited to 
persevering diligence ; but as I could appear witli 
laudable credit, without much application ; partly 
by actual proficiency, and partly by imposing on 
Mr. Noble, under whose care I now came ; my 
love of play, and my scarcity of money for self- 
indulgent expenses, induced me to divide a great 
proportion of my time between diversion and 
helping othfr boys in their exercises, for a very 
scanty remuneration, which I lost in gaming, or 
squandered in gratifying my appetite. One tiling 
is remarkable, considering what has since taken 
place, that, while I could translate Latin into 
English, or English into Latin, perhaps more 
readily and correctly than any other boy in the 
school, I never could compose themes. I abso- 
lutely seemed to have no ideas, when set to work 
of this kind, either then or for some years after- 
wards ; and was even greatly at a loss to write a 
common letter. As for verses, I never wrote any 
except nonsense verses, of one kind, or other ; 
■which has perhaps been the case also of many 
more prolific versifiers. God had not made me 
a poet, and I am very thankful that I never 
attempted to make myself one." 


Soon after leaving school, he was bound ap- 
prentice to a surgeon and apothecarj' at Alford, 
about eight miles from Braytoft, his father's resi- 
dence. His master, it appears, was entirely 
unprincipled, and young Scott followed closely in 
his steps. At the end of two months, he was 
sent home in deep disgrace for gross misconduct. 
Though this was a severe mortification to his 
father and to the whole family, yet the course 
pursued towards him seems to have been unjusti- 
fiably severe, and even cruel. 

" Immediately on my return home," continues 
Mr. Scott, " I was set to do, as well as I could, 
the most laborious and dirty parts of the work 
belonging to a grazier. On this I entered at the 
beginning of Avinter ; and as much of my fathei-'s 
farm consisted of low land, which was often 
flooded, I was introduced to scenes of hardship, 
and exposed to many dangers from wet and cold, 
for which my previous habits had not prepared 
me. In consequence I Avas frequently ill, and, at 
length, suffered such repeated and obstinate 
maladies that my life was rnore than once des- 
paired of. Yet a kind of indignant, proud self- 
revenge, kept me from complaining of hardship ; 
though of reproach and even of reproof, I was 
impatient to the greatest degree of irascibility. 
After a few unsuccessful attempts, my father gave 
up all thoughts of placing me out in any other 
way ; and for above nine years I was nearly as 
entire a drudge as any servant or laborer in his 
employ ; and almost as little known beyond the 
circle of immediate neighbors. My occupation 
was generally about the cattle, and particularly in 
the spring season. In this service I learned 


habits of hardiness in encountering all sorts of 
weather, (for the worse the weather, the more 
needful it was that I should be with the eheep,) 
Avhich have since proved useful to me ; and though 
I was not kept from learning many vices, I was 
out of the way of acquiring habits of ease and 
indulgence, as I should otherwise, probably, have 
done. My situation, however, led me to associate 
with persons of the lowest station of life, and 
wholly destitute of religious principle — in all 
ranks the grand corrective, and in this rank 
almost the sole restraint upon character and man- 
ners. These persons tried to please me with 
flatteries, and to inflame still more the indignancy 
of spirit with which I rebelled against the sup- 
posed degradation that I suffered." 

Still he entertained thoughts of the University 
and of the clerical profession. He fondly cherish- 
ed the hope of one day rising from the degradation 
to which he was condemned. Hence, in some of 
the winter evenings he used to read whatever 
books he could procure. But strange to say, his 
father, though himself a studious and inquisitive 
man, was wholly opposed to the gratification of 
the literary propensity of his son, judging it to 
be wholly inconsistent with diligence in his busi- 
ness. He used to say frequently that he foresaw 
that his son would come to be a charge to the 

This conduct of his father greatly strengthened 
him to spend his leisure time from home, and often 
in low and abandoned company. Another impedi- 
ment was the almost entire want of books. A 
few torn Latin books, a small imperfect Dictionary, 
and an Eton Greek Grammar, composed his 
whole stock in the languages. 


Mr. Scott had only one surviving brother, and 
he was well situated on a farm. His father was 
far advanced in life, and not of a strong constitu- 
tion. It was generally supposed that Thomas 
would succeed to the estate. " But at length," 
says the narrative, " it was discovered that the 
lease of this farm was left by will to my brother ; 
and that I was merely to be under-tenant to him 
for some marsh-grazing lands, which were without 
a house, and on which I knew a family could not 
be decently maintained. On this discovery, I 
determined to make some effort to extricate my- 
self; and I only waited for an opportunity to 
declare my determination. Without delay my 
Greek Grammar was studied through and 
through ; and I made what use I could of my 
Latin books ; my father, in the mean time, expres- 
sing his astonishment at my conduct. 

"At length, in April, 1772, in almost the worst 
manner possible, after a long wet day of incessant 
fatigue, I deemed myself, and perhaps with jus- 
tice, to be causelessly and severely blamed, and I 
gave full vent to ray indignant passions; and 
throwing aside my shepherd's frock, declared my 
purpose no more to resume it. That night I 
lodged at my brother's, at a little distance ; but, 
in the morning, I considered that a large flock of 
sheep had no one to look after them, who was 
competent to the task ; I therefore returned and 
did what was needful ; and then set off for Boston, 
where a clergyman resided, with whom I had 
contracted some acquaintance, by conversing with 
him on common matters, when he came to do duty 
in my brother's village, and took refreshments at 
his house. 


" To this clergyman I opened my mind with 
hesitancy and trepidation ; and nothing could ex- 
ceed his astonishment when he heard my purpose 
of attempting to ohtain orders. He knew me 
only as a shepherd, somewhat more conversable, 
perhaps, than others in that station, and imme- 
diately asked, ' Do you know anything of Latin 
and Greek?' I told him I had received an 
education, but that for almost ten years, I had not 
seen a Greek book, except the Grammar. He 
instantly took down a Greek Testament, and put 
it into my hands ; and without ditficulty I read 
several verses, giving both the Latin and English 
rendering of them, according to the custom of our 
school. On this, having strongly expressed his 
surprise, he said, ' Our visitation will be next 
week ; the archdeacon. Dr. Gordon, will be here ; 
and if you will be in the town I will mention you 
to him, and induce him, if I can, to send for you.' 
This being settled, I returned immediately to my 
father for the intervening days ; knowing how 
much, at that season, he wanted my help, for ser- 
vices which he could no longer perform himself, 
and was not accustomed to entrust to servants." 

In a letter to his sisters, which he wrote about 
this time, he says, " My aunt Wayet endeavored 
to rally me out of ray scheme, but I must own I 
thought her arguments weak. She urged the 
ridicule which 'poor parsons meet with ; but 
surely, those who ridicule any one on account of 
his poverty, if he behaves in a manner worthy 
of his situation, are themselves persons whose 
opinion I despise. She said she would not be of 
any profession, unless at the head of it; but this 
can be no rule for general practice, as some must 


be subordinate. She mentioned my not being 
brought up in a regular manner; but it is the end, 
not the means, which is of the greatest conse- 
quence ; and if a man be qualified, it matters not 
where he procured his qualifications. It some- 
times humbles my vanity to hear them all account 
of me as one of the lowest order of the profession, 
not only in point of fortune, but also in other 
particulars. If I know myself, I am not defi- 
cient in abilities, though I am in the art of render- 
ing them conspicuous ; my vanity prompts me to 
say, that I am not without hopes of making 
friends in this way of life, as I shall be more con- 
versant with men of letters, who are the compan- 
ions I most delight in, and for whose company I 
shall spare no pains to qualify i^yself. But let 
my condition in life be what it will, I will endeavor 
to suit myself to it. Pray heaven preserve me 
independent on any other for a livelihood, and I 
ask no more. The happiest hours I ever spent, 
have been in your company, and the greatest 
reluctance I feel at this change of my situation is, 
the being separated from a set of sisters, for 
whom I have the most sincere regard. 

" At the appointed time," continues the narra- 
tive, " I returned to Boston, where my family 
was well known, and readily found access to the 
archdeacon, who was also examining chaplain to 
the Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. Green. Before him I 
repeated, in another jjart of the Greek Testa- 
ment, what I had done at the clergyman's house ; 
and was asked many questions, which I answered 
without the least disguise. The archdeacon con- 
cluded the interview, by assuring me that he 
would state my case to the bishop, and saying 


that he thought it probable his lordship Avould 
ordain me. 

" Thus encouraged, I expended all the little 
money which I could raise on books ; went to live 
at Boston; and applied diligently to study — 
especially to improve my knowledge of the Greek 
Testament, (the Gospels in particular,) and to 
recover, or rather to acquire the ability of com- 
posing in Latin. I had now for some years been 
ready in expressing my thoughts, and had even 
been, in some instances, a writer in newspapers 
and magazines. I daily, therefore, wrote in 
Latin, on texts of Scripture, a sort of short ser- 
mons, which my friend, the clergyman, revised ; 
and, in return, I afforded him very seasonable and 
welcome assistance in a grammar school which he 

His first attempt to gain ordination was, how- 
ever, unsuccessful. His papers had not reached 
the ordaining bishop in season, and other circum- 
stances were unsatisfactory. This repulse induced 
in the bosom of the applicant, a kind of despair. 
The bishop had said that he should probably 
admit him at the next ordination, provided he 
would procure his father's consent to the measure, 
and a letter from any beneficed clergyman in the 
neighborhood. But he was not personally known 
to half a dozen clergymen of the description 
required ; and his attempt was utterly reprobated 
by every one of them as in a high degree pre- 
sumptuous. He was now in the twenty-sixth 
year of his age, wholly without the prospect of a 
decent subsistence, and to complete the appalling 
prospect, his father was most decidedly set against 
the design. 


But an energy, such as Thomas Scott had, 
could not be repressed. The fire, which was 
burning in his bosom, no adverse circumstances 
could extinguish. lie had made up his mind to 
accomplish the work, and it would seem that no 
human power could stay him. 

He travelled to his home from London, by a 
circuitous route, and a great part of the way on 
foot, and the rest in various vehicles. At length 
he reached Bi'aytoft, after walking twenty miles 
in the forenoon ; having dined, and divested him- 
self of his clei'ical dress, he resumed his shep- 
herd's clothes, and in the afternoon, sheared eleven 
large sheep ! 

" This, however," he observes, " was my last 
labor of the kind. My attempt to obtain orders 
had been widely made known in the neighborhood, 
even much beyond the sphere of my personal 
acquaintance ; and it had excited much attention 
and astonishment, with no small degree of ridi- 
cule. This raised the spirit of my relations ; and 
the sentiment expressed by my brother, was that 
of the other branches of the family. 'I wish,' 
said he, ' my brother had not made the attempt ; 
but I cannot bear to have it said, that one of our 
name undertook what he was unable to accom- 

"In consequence of this sensation, my brother 
and all my sisters met by appointment at my 
father's house ; and, with my mother, urged it in 
the most earnest manner, as his indispensable 
duty, either to consent to my ordination, or to fix 
me on a farm on my own account. I apprehend 
it was clearly foreseen what his concession would 
be, if he could be induced to concede at all ; and 


accordingly, after much debate, lie gave his con- 
sent in writing to my entering into orders. 

. "As the difficulty, which I regarded as insuper- 
able, was in a most unexpected manner, surmount- 
ed ; and my hopes reviving, I was prepared to 
struggle over other obstacles, if possible. Des- 
pairing of obtaining a letter to the bishop from 
any of the beneficed clergymen, to whom, as living 
within a few miles, I was in some degree known, 
I applied without delay, to the vicar of Boston, 
Dr. Calthorp, who was well acquainted with my 
mother and her family, though he had seldom, if 
ever, seen me, till I met the archdeacon at his 
house. He behaved in the most candid manner ; 
yet as a truly conscientious man, (which I beheve 
he really was,) he said justly that he could not 
sign my testimonial, or state anything concerning 
me from his own knowledge, except for the short 
time which had passed since I first came to his 
house ; but that he could give a favorable account 
as to that time ; and if I could procure attesta- 
tions from any respectable persons, though not 
clergymen, he would transmit them with his own 
letter to the bishop. Thus encouraged, I went 
again to reside at Boston, where I applied dili- 
gently to my studies ; but I was greatly frowned 
on by many of my relations; and I frequently 
heard the laugh of the boys, as I walked about 
the street in a brown coat, and with lank hair, 
pointing me out as the ' parson ! ' — if this were 
a species of persecution, it was certainly not for 
Christ's sake, or for righteousness' sake, for I was 
estranged from both at this time." 

It is proper here to remark, that however valu- 
able the traits of character were, which were 


exhibited by Mr. Scott, it is evident, and it is 
what he many times, and sorrowfully acknowl- 
edged in subsequent life, that he had not that 
character which is essential in the Christian min- 
istry. He approached this sacred work as he 
would have approached either of the other pro- 
fessions. No spirit can be more foreign from the 
ministry of reconciliation than ambition, or dis- 
appointed pride, or that zeal which is enkindled 
by a sense of degradation, and a desire to rise 
superior to our fellow creatures, in order to show 
them the strength of our character, and the 
energy of our purpose. The Great Shepherd 
was meek and lowly, and those only are accepted 
by him, who ai'e willing to tread in his steps. 

" At the ensuing ordination, I wag admitted a 
candidate," continues Mr. Scott, " without objec- 
tion, and was examined at Buckden, by Dr. Gor- 
don. After examination on other matters, he 
asked me numerous questions concerning t^ie 
nature of miracles ; how real miracles might be 
distinguished from counterfeit ones ; and how they 
proved the truth of the doctrine in support of 
which they were wrought. This was, indeed, 
almost the only theological topic which I had 
studied with any tolerable attention. He, how- 
ever, perceived that I began to be alarmed, and 
kindly said, ' You need not be uneasy ; I only 
wished to try of what you were capable ; and I 
perceive that Christianity has got an able advo- 
cate in you.' I could not find myself at liberty 
to suppress this remarkable attestation, which is, 
I believe, expressed exactly in the words he used ; 
but had he known either my creed, and the state 
of my heart at that time, or whither my subse- 


quent inquiries would ultimately lead me, I am 
persuaded he Avould not have spoken as he did." 

Mr. Scott, immediately after his ordination, 
entered on his duties as a curate for Stoke, and 
for Weston Underwood, in Buckinghamshire. 
" No sooner," says Mr. Scott, " was I fixed in a 
curacy, tjian with close application I sat down to 
the study of the learned languages, and such 
other subjects as I considered most needful in order 
to lay the foundation of my future advancement. 
I spared no pains, I shunned, as much as I well 
could, all acquaintance and diversions, and re- 
trenched from my usual hours of sleep, that I 
might keep more closely to this business." 

In a period of nine months he read through the 
entire works of Josephus in the original Greek. 
In a letter to one of his sisters, dated September 
18, 1773, he remiirks, "I have, for some time, 
pursued my studies with assiduity, but I have 
only lately got to pursue them with method. I 
am now about three hours in the day engaged in 
Hebrew. The books I use are a Hebrew Bible, 
Grammars, and Lexicops, the noted Septuagint, 
or Greek translation, and a Commentary. I be- 
gan at the first chapter of Genesis, and I • intend 
to go through the whole Bible in that manner. 
You will see the manifold advantages of thus 
reading the Scriptures. The original text, a 
Greek translation two thousand years old and 
above, our translation, and comments, read care- 
fully, and compared together word by word, cannot 
fail to give a deep insight into the sense of the 
Scriptures ; and at the same time, two languages 
are unitedly improving. The same I am doing 
in the Greek and profane history. I am reading 


old Herodotus, in the original, in Latin, and in 
English. For each book read, whether ancient 
or modern histoiy, I have my maps laid before 
me, and trace each incident by the map ; and in 
some degree also fix the chronology. So that the 
languages seem my principal study; history, 
geography, and chronology, go hand in hand. 
Neither is logic neglected. I find my taste for 
study grow every day. I only fear I shall be 
like the miser, too covetous. In fact I really 
grudge every hour that I employ otherwise. 
Others go out by choice, and stay at home by 
constraint ; but I never stay at home by con- 
straint, and go out because it is necessary. In 
every other expense I am grown a miser ; I take 
every method to save, but here I am prodigaL 
No cost do I in the least grudge, to procure 
advantageous methods of pursuing my studies. 
Of the Hebrew, some twenty weeks ago I knew 
not a letter ; and I have now read through one 
hundred and nineteen of the Psalms, and twenty- 
three chapters of Genesis; and commonly now 
read two chapters in the time above mentioned, 
tracing every word to its original, unfolding every 
verbal 'difficulty." 

At the same time the more appropriate duties' 
of his calling were not neglected. He generally | 
wrote two sermons in a week, and in one instance, 
in the course of three weeks, wrote seven ser-j 
mons, each thirty-five minutes long. 

For a few of the following years, Mr. Scott 
was employed on subjects of an exclusively reli- 
gious nature, and deeply affecting his personal 
feelings and character. At length he' became 
established in the hopes of the gospel of Christ, 


and thenceforward his path was illuminated with 
the light of eternal life. But there was no change 
in the vigor of his mind, and the unconquerable 
perseverance of his character. His reading be- 
came as various as he had the opportunity of 
making it. No book that furnished knowledge, 
which might be turned to account, was uninterest- 
ing to him. As an example, he read repeatedly 
Mr. Henry Thornton's work on Psiper Credit, 
having in some measure been px'epared for the 
subject, by his former study of Locke's Treatises 
on Money, &c. At a much later period also he 
felt hinjself deeply interested in reading the 
Greek Tragedians, and other classic authors, with 
his pupils. He earnestly desired to see the 
branches of literature rendered subservient to 
religion ; and thought that, while too much per- 
haps, was published directly upon theological 
subjects, there was a lamentable deficiency of 
literary works conducted upon sound Christian 

The following extract exhibits an interesting 
trait in his character. " After I had written my 
sermons for the Sunday, I, for a long time, con- 
stantly read them to my wife before they were 
preached. At her instance,^ I altered many 
things, especially in exchanging words, unintelli- 
gible to laborers and lace-makers, for simpler 

Between the year 1807, and ISl-i, Dr. Scott 
was the tutor of persons preparing to go out 
as missionaries, under the Church Missionary 
Society. The individuals who came under his 
instruction, were in general German Lutheran 
clergymen. AU of them went forth as mission'. 


aries in the heathen world ; and most of them are 
now usefully employed in that character. The 
progress which they made in theu* studies was 
highly creditable ; in some instances, remarkable. 
" With all my other engagements," says Dr. Scott, 
" I am actually, in addition to what I before taught 
the missionaries, reading Susoo and Arabic with 
them. The former we have mastered without 
difficulty, so far as the printed books go ; and hope 
soon to begin translating some chapters into the 
language. But as to the latter, we make little 
progress ; yet so far, that I have no doubt of being 
able to read the Koran with them, should they 
continue here. It is in itself a most difficult lan- 
guage, but my knowledge of the Hebrew gives 
me an advantage." 

This labor ' was accomplished when Dr. Scott 
was more than sixty years old. Perhaps there is 
hardly on record an instance of more vigorous 
application to the study of very difficult lan- 
guages, — the student threescore years old, and 
suffering severely from chronic complaints. It is 
one of the proofs (would that they were far more 
numerous,) of a successful effort to withstand the 
effects of age. The Hebrew, likewise, which was 
his auxiliary on this occasion, had been entirely 
resumed, and almost learned since his fifty-third 

The history of the life of Dr. Scott teaches us 
a number of important lessons. It shows us that 
a resolute heart can vanquish many difficulties. 
Dr. Scott had a great variety of depressing and 
adverse circumstances with which to meet. He 
had strong and ungovernable passions. He was 
compelled to spend some of the best years of his 


life in an employment most uncongenial to mental 
improvement. He had very little of the ease and 
leisure, delightful associations and poetry of a 
shepherd's life. He had the storms, the incessant 
anxiety, and the exhausting labors of the occupa- 
tion. He fed his flocks, not among the green hills 
and valleys, but in low marshy regions, altogether 
unfriendly to intellectual effort. He had also the 
disheartening remembrance of an early failure 
constantly before his mind. Of this failure his 
own misconduct, too, was a principal cause. His 
father, with many valuable qualities, Avas stern 
and inexorable. His son had commenced an hon- 
orable profession, and had been disgraced, and he 
determined to keep him thenceforward in a con- 
dition where neither his good nor bad conduct 
would be known, where at least the pride of the 
family would not again be wounded. 

Dr. Scott had also a rough and unpolished ex- 
terior. He had native vigor of mind, but little 
that was prepossessing in his first appearance, 
even after a long and familiar intercourse with 
enlightened society. But he urged his way over 
all these diflolculties ; the number of obstacles only 
called forth a more determined energy. He 
set his face forward, and all the appalling forma 
of discouragement could not divert him. Victory 
over one enemy gave him additional power to 
attack another. A servile employment, degraded 
companions, the pertinacious opposition of a father, 
the goading recollection of the past, a forbidding 
personal exterior, severe bodily infirmity, advanc- 
ing age, the pressure of domestic duties, a miser- 
able stipend for support, — all, all could not 
dampen that ardor which engrossed and fired his 


Another valuable lesson which we are taught 
by Dr. Scott's history is, that the highest possible 
motives of action, a regard to the will of our 
Maker, and the well-being of mankind, are, at 
least, as operative and influential as any selfish 
and personal consideratiorts. In the commence- 
ment of his intellectual career, Dr. Scott was 
laboring for himself. Pei'sonal aggrandizement 
was the prize which he set before him, and which 
fixed his eye, quickened his step, filled his mind. 
But ere long the current of his desires was 
changed. The emotions and purposes which had 
gone abroad only to bring back to himself a fresh 
harvest of applause and reputation, went outward 
to the ends of the eai'th, and upward to the throne 
of God. Personal ambition gave place to the 
most expansive benevolence. Instead of living 
for himself and for his own times, he lived for 
other and future ages. But this change did not 
repress the ardor of his soul. It did not freeze up 
the living current there. He was as avaricious 
of time, when that time was devoted to the inter- 
ests of his Redeemer, as when it was employed 
in gathering tributes of human admiration. He 
grappled as strongly and as perseveringly with 
the difficulties of a foreign language, when the 
hope of heaven and the honor of his Saviour were 
before his eye, as when splendid church prefer- 
ment or literary reputation were the idols to which 
he bowed in worship. This fact is one of great 
interest. It shows that the highest development 
of the intellectual powers is in perfect accordance 
with the most disinterested and godlike benevo- 
lence ; that human duty and human interest are 
perfectly coincident. 


Dr. Scott furnishes a most remarkable instance 
of severe mental ai^plic^tion till the very close of 
life. Amidst the pressure of disease and of pain, 
which were almost uuintermitted, his mind main- 
tained a very vigorous and healthy action. At 
!the age of severity-two years, he remarks, "I 
never studied each day more hours than I now do. 
Never was a manufactory more full of constant 
employment than our house ; five proof-sheets of 
my Commentary a week to correct, and as many 
sheets of copy (quarto) to prepare." For about 
forty-six years he studied eight, ten, and some- 
times fourteen houi's a day. After thirty-three 
years' labor bestowed on his Commentary on the 
Scriptures, he was as assiduous in correcting and 
improving it as ever. The marginal references 
cost him seven years of hard labor. When sev- 
enty years old, he engaged in a controversy with 
a Jew on the fundamental questions in dispute 
between the Jews and Christians, and produced 
an original and highly interesting work in defence 
of the Christian faith. At the age of sixty, a 
period at which it would generally be thought im- 
practicable to acquire a foreign tongue. Dr. Scott 
studied Arabic and Susoo, — the latter an African 
dialect, and both exceedingly difficult languages 
to be mastered. We rejoice in this instance of a 
man bearing fruit in old age, triumphing over the 
pains and Aveakness of mortality, and retaining 
full mental power to the last moment of life. It 
shows what is possible to be done in numerous 
other cases. Many individuals intend to be use- 
less, intend to gather themselves into a comer in 
inglorious ease, if God sees fit to spare their life 
beyond the age of threescore yeai-s. Di-. Scott 



reasoned and acted differently. His sun was 
almost as bright at setting as in the morning or at 
the meridian. It sent forth the same powerful 
heat and the same mild and steady light. 

It is also very gratifying to see that the uncon- 
querable energy and noble aim of this self-taught 
man Avere not in vain. All this energy was ex- 
pended on praiseworthy objects. He labored not for 
the sake of showing his decision of character, but 
of doing good with it. If he wasted little intellect 
by idleness, he wasted as little by misapplication. 
He bi'ought the whole of his judgment, discrimi- 
nation, strong sense, fearless piety and unsleeping 
mental power to the promotion of human happi- 
ness. He was certainly one of the most useful 
men that ever lived. 

The sale of his works, of plain didactic theolo- 
gy, during his life time, amounted to two hundred 
thousand pounds sterling. Probably an equal sum 
has been expended for these same works since his 
death. Of his Commentary on the Scriptures, 
not less than thirty-five thousand copies have 
been sold in the United States alone, at a sum of 
at least seven hundred thousand dollars. Two 
stereotype editions of it have been published. 
The woz'k is now, at the distance of thirty years 
from its publication, as popular and acceptable to 
the religious public as ever. The annual sale is 
now, in this country, not less than fifteen hundred 
copies. What an amount of good has been ac- 
complished by a single effoi't of this entirely self- 
taught man. At least one hundred thousand 
families gathering their views of the meaning of 
the.Christiail revelation from the comments of a 
single mind. This already amazing amount of 


good is but a tithe of what will yet be seen. 
Wherever, on all the continents of this earth, the 
English language shall be spoken and the English 
Bible shall be found, there the name of Thomas 
Scott will be hailed as one of the most important 
benefactors of mankind. 


Oh, Afric ! what has been thy crime ! 

That thus, like Eden's fratricide, 
A mark is set upon thy clime. 

And every brother shuns thy side. 
Yet are thy ^vrongs, thou long distressed. 

Thy burden, by the world unweighed. 
Safe in that unfoegetful breast 

Where all the wrongs of earth are laid. 
The sun upon thy forehead frowned. 

But man more cruel far than he, 
Dark fetters on thy spirit bound. 

Look, to the mansions of the free ! 
Look to that realm where chains unbind. 

Where powerless falls the threat'ning rod. 
And where the patient sufferers find 

A friend, a father, in their God I 

Mrs. Sigourney. 

Some events which have recently taken place 
in this country, have given a fresh interest to the 
cause of African colonization. In the county of 
Southampton, Virginia, about sixty white persons 
fell victims in a negro insurrection, which occur- 
red during the summer of 1831. A very serious 
alarm has been communicated in consequence, to 
various portions of the southern country, and many 
apprehensions have been entertained of the repe- 
tition of similar tragedies. A practical, though 
fearful proof has thus been given to the people 
of the United States, of the evil of the slave sys- 
tem. The danger has been shown to be real. It 

180 LOTT CAKr. 

is no fictitious terror which has led the inhabitants 
of Virginia to consider more maturely and earnest- 
ly the plans of the American Colonization Society. 
Something must be done. An outlet for a part 
of the colored population must be provided at all 
hazards. By the recent awful events, the provi- 
dence of God is speaking to us most distinctly, to 
weigh well this subject, and to act promptly in 
regard to it. 

It seems to us that the American Colonization 
Society has now come to a most important period 
of its history, when a great movement can and 
ought to be made onward, when, to fulfil the pal- 
pable indications of Providence, it should lay aside 
all hindrances, and proceed to its great work with 
all the promptitude and wisdom possible. Such 
a course would furnish the best of all arguments 
wherewith to meet the numerous opposers of the 
Society. Plant on the African coast high and 
broad monuments of the feasibility of colonization ; 
erect along all the shore living confutations of .the 
calumnies and of the grave objections which have 
been urged against this infant enterprise ; show 
practically that the well-being of the free-colored 
population of this country is one great object of 
the scheme, that when the African steps upon the 
Liberian shore he is elevated in the scale of being 
and rises into the dignity of true freedom. Write 
the eulogy of the Society in Africa, on her shores, 
in her spreading commerce, up her long rivers. 
When the voice of ignorance or ill-will assails this 
noble enterprise, let a thousand happy voices 
come over the Atlantic and deny the charge. 

We do not, ourselves, place much confidence in 
the opposition or the indilFerence w^hich is mani- 


fested towards the Colonization Society. It is not 
a selfish, cold-hearted policy, designed to remove 
the colored people against their inclinations and 
interest. It is an enterprise conceived in the 
most exalted benevolence and in the most compre- 
hensive regards to tlie interests of mankind. It 
is not a plan of the North or the South. It looks 
to the well-being of two whole continents. In 
lawful and proper ways, it would purify this land 
from a fearful and blighting curse. It would help 
to pour the light of eternal life on the whole of 
forlorn and lost Africa. 

Looking at the principal friends of the Ameri- 
can Colonization Society, we see no reason to 
impugn their motives. Were not Harper, and 
Caldwell, and Fitzhugh, men of sagacious minds, 
and of most expansive charity? Did not pity, 
real pity for the woes of the African race, till the 
bosom of IMills, and Ashmun, and Sessions, and 
Randall and Anderson ? To call in question the 
benevolence of such men, does nothing more than 
to bring into doubt that of the objector. Examine 
the public documents, try the public measures of 
the Society with the most rigid scrutiny, and they 
will not be found wanting. Equally without foun- 
dation, is the objection urged against the unhealth- 
iness of the African climate. Not one half the 
mortahty has been experienced at Liberia which 
ravaged and almost desolated the early colonies 
of Virginia, New Plymouth and Massachusetts. 
Let the forests be levelled, and pure air circulate, 
let all the marshes and stagnant waters be drained, 
let all the colonists avoid unnecessary exposure 
and fatigue, and let them utterly abandon all use 
of ardent spirits and other stimulants, and we 


should hear little more of the mortality of Liberia. 
Temperate men can live, and do live, at Havana, 
Batavia, at Calcutta, and at any other alleged 
unhealthy spot on the globe. Those places are 
the graves of Europeans, because a miserable 
police and intemperance have made them to be so. 
To these causes we unhesitatingly ascribe the 
greater part of the mortality which has prevailed 
at Liberia. Remove the cause and the effect will 

The plan of colonizing the colored people is not 
a chimerical one. There are abundant means for 
this purpose. An appropriation of o?ie million 
of dollars annually to this purpose, would trans- 
port such a number as would speedily accomplish 
the great work. This country has several hun- 
dred millions of acres of land at her disposal. 
How perfectly within the compass of her ability 
to assist in the deliverance and return of the 
African race! The right, constitutionally, to ren- 
der this assistance will hardly be denied, after the 
Indian precedent which has been given, after the 
liberal and lavish offers which have been made, 
to induce the aboriginal inhabitants of this coun- 
try to remove to an El Dorado in the wilder- 

The great, the fundamental difficulty, want of 
intellectual and moral preparation in the colored 
people, is not an insuperable one. There has 
been, indeed, a long process of degradation. 
Servile habits have been worn into the soul. The 
intellect of the Africans has been muffled and 
bandaged by law. Still they have minds. The 
spark of immortal life has been kindled in them 
by their beneficent Creator. They have the im- 



material, responsible, expansive, ever-aspiring 
principle. Remove the pressure of adverse cir- 
cumstances, lay before them the proper motives, 
and they will spring into the path which leads to 
honor, and knowledge, and glory. The Creator 
has not doomed one portion of his intellectual 
oftsijring to everlasting seclusion from improve- 
ment. He has not buried them in one vast grave, 
where the light of truth and joy and immortal 
hope will never reach them. Africa has had an 
Hanno, an Hannibal, a Juba, a Cyprian, an 
Augustine. Did not Africaner, who has been 
termed the South African Bonaparte, exhibit 
noble traits of character ? Has not slavery itself 
furnished specimens of genius which would have 
done honor to the native hills and pure air of 
freedom ? Who has not heard of the generous 
and affectionate strains of the self-taught Phillis 
Wheatley ; of the noble spirit of Citizen Gran- 
ville of Hayti, and of the magnanimity of Prince 
Abdul Rahahhman? 

In the year 1739, and for several years after- 
wards, Benjamin Banneker, a colored man of 
Maryland, furnished the public with an almanac, 
which was extensively circulated through the 
Southern States. He was a self-taught astrono- 
mer, and his calculations were so thorough and 
exact, as to excite the approbation and patronage 
of such men as Pitt, Fox, "Wilberforce, and other 
eminent men, by whom the work was produced 
in the British House of Commons, as an argument 
in favor of the mental cultivation of colored peo- 
ple, and of their liberation from their wretched 

Another interesting instance of self-taught Afri- 


can genius, was Lott Cakt. He was born a slave, 
in Charles City County, about thirty miles below 
Richmond, Virginia, on the estate of Mr. William 
A. Christian. His father was a pious and much 
respected member of the Baptist church, and his 
mother, though she made no public profession of 
religion, died, giving evidence that she relied for 
salvation upon the merits of the Son of God. 
He was their only child, and though he had no 
early instruction from books, the admonitions and 
prayers of illiterate parents may have laid the 
foundations of his future usefulness. In 1804, he 
was sent to Richmond, and hired out by the year, 
as a common laborer, at the Shockoe warehouse. 
A strong desire to be able to read, was excited in 
his mind, by a sermon which he heard, and which 
related to our Lord's interview with Nicodemus ; 
and having obtained a Testament, he commenced 
learning his letters, by trying to read the chapter in 
which this interview is recorded. He was occa- 
sionally instructed by young gentlemen at the 
warehouse, though he never attended a regular 
school. In a little time he was able to read, and 
also to write so as to make dray tickets, and super- 
intend the shipping of tobacco. Shortly after the 
death of his first wife, in 1813, he ransomed him- 
self and two children for $850, a sum which he had 
obtained by his singular ability and fidelity in 
managing the concerns of the tobacco warehouse. 
Of the real value of his services there, it has 
been remai-ked, " no one but a dealer in tobacco 
can form an idea." Notwithstanding the hun- 
dreds of hogsheads, which were committed to his 
charge, he could produce any one the moment it 
was called for; and the shipments were made 


with a promptness and correctness, such as no 
person, while or colored, has equalled in the same 
situation. The last year in which he remained 
in the warehouse his salary was $800. For his 
ability in his work he was highly esteemed and 
frequently rewarded by the merchant with a five 
dollar bank note. He was also allowed to sell, 
for his own benefit, many small parcels of dam- 
aged tobacco. It was by saving the little sums 
obtained in this way, with the aid of subscriptions 
by the merchants to whose interests he had been 
attentive, that he was enabled to purchase the 
freedom of his family. When the colonists were 
fitted out for Africa, he was enabled to bear a 
considerable part of his own expenses. He also 
purchased a house and some land in Richmond. 
It is said that while employed at the warehouse, 
he often devoted his leisure time to reading, and 
that a gentleman, on one occasion, taking up a 
book which he had left for a few moments, found 
it to be " Smith's "Wealth of Nations." He re- 
mained, for some years after his removal to Rich- 
mond, entirely regardless of religion, and much 
addicted to profane and vicious habits. But God 
was pleased to convince him of the guilt and 
misery of a sinful state, and in 1807, he publicly 
professed his faith in the Saviour, and became a 
member of the Baptist church. Soon after this 
period, he commenced the practice of conducting 
the services at religious meetings. Though he 
had scarcely any knowledge of books, and but 
little acquaintance with mankind, he would fre- 
quently exhibit a boldness of thought, and a 
strength of intellect which no acquirement could 
have ever given him. A distinguished minister 


of the Presbyterian church made the following 
remark. " A sermon, which I heard from Mr. 
Gary, shortly before he sailed for Africa, was the 
best extemporaneous sermon which I ever heard. 
It contained very original and impressive thoughts, 
some of which are distinct in my memory, and 
never can be forgotten." The following sentences 
form the closing part of an extemporaneous 
address which he uttered on the eve of his depart- 
ure. " I am about to leave you ; and expect to 
see your faces no more. I long to preach to the 
poor Africans the way of life and salvation. I 
do not know what may befall me, or whether I 
may find a grave in the ocean, or among the savage 
men, or more savage wild beasts on the coast of 
Africa ; nor am I anxious what may become of 
me. I feel it my duty to go ; and I very much 
fear that many of those who preach the gospel 
in this country, will blush when the Saviour calls 
them to give an account of their labors in his 
cause, and tells them, ' I commanded you to go 
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature," and with the most forcible emphasis he 
exclaimed, " the Saviour may ask, * Where have 
you been ? What have you been doing ? Have 
you endeavored to the utmost of your ability to 
fulfil the commands I gave you ; or have you 
sought your own gratification and your own ease, 
regardless of my commands ? ' " 

As early as the year 1815, he began to feel 
special interest in the cause of the African mis- 
sions, and contributed, probably, more than any 
other person, in giving origin and character to the 
African Missionary Society, established during 
that year in Richmond, and which has, for thirteen 


years, collected for the cause of missions in 
Africa, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty 
dollars. His benevolence was practical, and 
whenever and wherever good objects were to be 
effected, he was ready to lend his aid. 

Mr. Gary was among the earliest emigrants to 
Africa. Here he saw before him a wide and 
interesting field, demanding various and powerful 
talents, and the most devoted piety. His intellect- 
ual ability, firmness of purpose, unbending integ- 
rity, correct judgment, and disinterested benevo- 
lence, soon placed him in a conspicuous station, 
and gave him wide and commanding influence. 
Though naturally diffident and retiring, his worth 
was too evident, to allow of his remaining in 
obscurity. It is well known, that great difficulties 
were encountered in founding a settlement at 
Cape Montserado. So appalling were the circum- 
stances of the first settlers, that soon after they 
had taken possession, it was proposed that they 
should remove to Sierra Leone. The resolution 
of Mr. Gary to remain, was not to be shaken, and 
his decision had no small effect towards inducing 
others to imitate his example. In the event, they 
suffered severely. More than eight hundred na- 
tives attacked them in November, 1822, but were 
repulsed; and a few weeks after, a body of 
fifteen hundred attacked them again at day-break ; 
several of the colonists were killed and wounded ; 
but with only thirty-seven effective men and boys, 
and the aid of their six pounder, they again 
achieved a victory over the natives. In these 
scenes Mr. Gary necessarily bore a conspicuous 
part. In one of his letters he remarks, that like 
the Jews in rebuilding their city, they had to toil 


with their arms beside them, and rest upon their 
arms every night ; but he declared after this, in 
the most emphatic terms, that " there never had 
been an hour or a minute, no, not even Avhen the 
balls were flying around his head, when he could 
wish himself back to America again." 

The peculiar exposure of the early emigrants, 
the scantiness of their supplies, and the want of ade- 
quate medical attentions, subjected them to severe 
and complicated sufferings. To relieve, if possi- 
ble, these suiferings, Mr. Gary obtained all the 
information in his power, concerning the diseases 
of the climate, and the proper remedies. He 
made liberal sacrifices of his property, in behalf 
of the poor and distressed ; and devoted his time 
almost exclusively to the relief of the destitute, 
the sick, and the afflicted. His services as physi- 
cian to the colony were invaluable, and were, for 
a long time, rendered without hope of reward. 
But amid his multiplied cares and efforts for the 
colony, he never forgot or neglected to promote 
the objects of the African Missionary Society, to 
which he had long cherished and evinced the 
strongest attachment. Most earnestly did he seek 
access to the native tribes, and endeavor to instruct 
them in the doctrines and duties of that religion, 
which had proved so powerful and precious in his 
own case. Many of his last and most anxious 
thoughts were directed to the establishment of 
native schools in the interior. One such school, 
distant seventy miles from Monrovia, and of 
great promise, was established through his agency, 
about a year before his death, and patronized and 
superintended by him till that moui'nful event. 

In September, 1826, Mr. Gary was elected 


Vice Agent of the Colony, and discharged the 
duties of that important office till his death. In 
his good sense, moral worth, decision, and public 
spirit, Mr. Ashmun, the Agent, liad the most 
entire confidence. Hence, when compelled to 
leave the colony, he committed the administration 
of aflfairs into the hands of the Vice Agent, in the 
full belief that no interest would be betrayed, and 
no duty neglected. The conduct of Mr. Gary, 
while for six months he stood at the head of the 
colony, added to his previously high reputation. 

On the evening of the 8th of November, 1828, 
while Mr. Gary, and several others, were engaged 
in making cartridges in the old agency house at 
Monrovia, in preparation to defend the rights of 
the colony against a slave-trader, a candle appears 
to have been accidentally overturned, which 
caught some loose powder, and almost instantane- 
ously reached the entire ammunition, producing 
an explosion, which resulted in the death of eight 
persons. Mr. Gary survived for two days. 

" The features and complexion of Mr. Gary's 
character were altogether African. He was diffi- 
dent, and showed no disposition to push himself 
into notice. His words were simple, few, direct, 
and appropriate. His conversation indicated ra- 
pidity and clearness of thought, and an ability to 
comprehend the great principles of religion and 

"To found a Ghristian colony, which might 
prove a blessed asylum to his degraded brethren 
in America, and enlighten and regenerate Africa, 
was an object with which no temporal good, not 
even life could be compared. The strongest sym- 
pathies of his nature were excited in behalf of 


his unfortunate people, and the divine promise 
cheered and encouraged him in his labors for their 
improvement and salvation. His record is on 
high. His memorial shall never perish. It shall 
stand in clearer light, when every chain is broken, 
and Christianity shall have assumed her sway 
over the millions of Africa." 


John Opie was born in the parish of St. 
Agnes, about seven miles from Truro, in the 
county of Cornwall, England, in 1761. His 
father and grandfather were carpenters. John 
appears to have been regarded among his rustic 
companions as a kind of parochial wonder, from 
his early years. At the age of twelve, he had 
mastered Euclid, and was considered so skilful in 
arithmetic and penmanship, that he commenced 
an evening school for the instruction of the peas- 
ants of the parish of St. Agnes. His father, a 
plain mechanic, seems to have misunderstood all 
these indications of mental superiority, and 
wished him to leave the pen for the plane and 
saw ; and it would appear that his paternal de- 
sires were for some time obeyed, for John at 
least accompanied his father to his work ; but this 
was when he was very young, and it seems pro- 
bable that he disliked the business, since his 
father had to chastise him for making ludicrous 
drawings, with red chalk, on the deals which were 
planed for use. 

His love of art came upon him early. When 
he was ten yeai-s old, he saw Mark Oates, an 
elder companion, and afterwards captain x)f ma- 
rines, draw a butterfly ; he looked anxiously on, 
and exclaimed, " I think I can draw a butterfly ; 
as well as Mark Oates ;" he took a pencil, tried, 
succeeded, and ran breathless home to tell his 


mother -what he had done. Soon afterward he 
saw a picture of a farmyard in a house in Truro, 
where his father was at Avork ; he looked and 
looked — went away — returned again and looked 
— and seemed unwilling to be out of sight of this 
prodigy. For this forwardness, his father gave 
him a sharp chastisement — but the lady of the 
house interposed, and gave the boy another sight 
of the picture. On returning home, he procured 
cloth and coloi'S, and made a copy of the painting, 
from memory alone. He likewise attempted 
original delineation from life ; and, by degrees, 
hung the humble dwelling round with likenesses 
of his relatives and companions, much to the plea- 
sure of his uncle, a man with sense and know- 
ledge above his condition, but greatly to the vexa- 
tion of his father, who could not comprehend the 
merit of such an idle trade. 

He was employed for some time, in the family 
of Dr. Wolcot, the satirist, as a menial servant. 
How long he remained in that employment is not 
known. He commenced portrait painting, by 
profession, very early in life. He used to wander 
from town to town in quest of employment. 
" One of these expeditions," says his biographer, 
" was to Padstow, whither he set forward, dressed 
as usual in a boy's plain short jacket, and carry- 
ing with him all proper apparatus for portrait 
painting. Here, among others, he painted the 
whole household of the ancient and respectable 
family of Prideaux', even to the dogs and cats of 
the family. He remained so long absent from 
home, that some uneasiness began to arise on his 
account, but it was dissipated by his returning, 
dressed in a handsome coat, with very long skirts, 

JOHN opiE. 193 

laced ruffles, and silk stockings. On seeing his 
mother he ran to her, and taking out of his pocket 
twenty guineas which he had earned by his pencil, 
he desired her to keep them, adding that in future 
he should maintain himself." 

For his mother he always entertained the deep- 
est affection, and neither age nor the pressure 
of worldly business diminished his enthusiasm in 
the least. He loved to speak* of the mildness of 
her nature and the tenderness of her heart, of 
her love of truth and her matei'nal circumspec- 
tion. He delighted to recall her epithets of fond- 
ness, and relate how she watched over him when 
a boy, and warmed his gloves and great coat in 
the winter mornings, on his departure for school. 
This good woman lived to the age of ninety-two, 
enjoyed the fame of her son, and was gladdened 
with his bounty. , 

Of those early efforts, good judges have spoken 
with much approbation; they were deficient in 
grace, but true to nature, and remarkable for their 
fidelity of resemblance. He painted with small 
pencils, and finished more highly than when his 
hand had attained more mastery. His usual 
price, when he was sixteen years of age, was 
seven shillings and sixpence for a portrait. But 
of all the works, which he painted in those pro- 
bationary days, that which won the admiration of 
the good people of Truro most, was a parrot 
walking down his perch ; all the living parrots 
that saw it, acknowledged the resemblance. So) 
much was he charmed with the pursuit and hisC 
prospects, that when Wolcot asked him how he I 
liked painting ? " Better," he answered, " than ' 
bread and meat." _ 

194 JOHN OPIE. , 

In the twentieth year of his age he went to 
London, and under the patronage of Wolcot, at 
first excited great attention. Of his success, 
Northcote gives the following account. " The 
novelty and originality of manner in his pictures, 
added to his great abilities, drew an universal 
attention from the connoisseurs, and he was im- 
mediately surrounded and employed by all the 
principal nobility of England. When he ceased, 
and that was soon, to be a novelty, the capricious 
public left him in disgust. They now looked out 
for his defects alone, and he became, in his turn, 
totally neglected and forgotten ; and, instead of 
being the sole object of public attention, and 
having the street where he lived so crowded with 
coaches of the nobility as to become a real nui- 
sance to the neighborhood, * so,' as he jestingly 
observed to me, ' that he thought he must place 
cannon at the door to keep the multitude off from 
it,' he now found himself as entirely deserted as 
if his house had been infected with the plague. 
Such is the world ! " His popularity, however, 
continued rather longer than this description 
would seem to imply. When the wonder of the 
town began to abate, the country came gaping 
in ; and ere he had wearied both, he had aug- 
mented the original thirty guineas with which 
he commenced the adventure, to a very com- 
fortable sum ; had furnished a house in Orange 
Court, Leicester Fields. The first use which he 
made of his success, was to spread comfort around 
his mother ; and then he proceeded with his works 
and studies like one resolved to deserve the dis- 
tinction which he had obtained. His own strong 
natural sense, and powers of observation, enabled 


him to lift the veil which the ignorant admiration 
of the multitude had thrown over his defects ; he 
saw where he was weak, and labored most dili- 
gently to improve himself. His progress was 
great, and visible to all, save the leaders of 
taste and fashion. When his works were crude 
and unstudied, their applause was deafening: 
when they were such as really merited a place in 
public galleries, the world, resolved not to be 
infatuated twice with the same object, paid them 
a cold, or at least, a very moderate attention. 
" Reynolds," it has been remarked, " is the only 
eminent painter who has been able to charm back 
the public to himself after they were tired of 
him." The somewhat rough and unaccommodat- 
ing manners of Opie were in his way ; it requires 
delicate feet to tread the path of portraiture ; and 
we must remember that he was a peasant, unac- 
quainted with the elegance of learning, and 
unpolished by intercourse with the courtesies and 
amenities of polite life. He was thrown into the 
drawing-room, rough and rude as he came from 
the hills of Cornwall, and had to acquit himself 
as well as he could. 

He divided his time between his profession and 
the cultivation of his mind. He was conscious of 
his defective education ; and, like Reynolds, 
desired to repair it by mingling in the company 
of men of learning and talent, and by the careful 
perusal of the noblest writers. " Such were the 
powers of his memory that he remembered all he 
had read. Milton, Shakespeare, Dryden, Pope, 
Gray, Cowper, Butler, Burke, and Dr. Johnson, 
he might, to use a familiar expression, be said to 
know by heart." A man of powerful under- 

196 JOHN OPIE. , 

standing and ready apprehension, " who remem- 
bered all he read," and who had nine of the great- 
est and most voluminous of our authors by heart, 
could never be at any loss in company, if he had 
tolerable skill in using his stores. To his intel- 
lectual vigor we have strong testimony. " Mr. 
Opie," said Home Tooke, " crowds more wisdom 
into a few words than almost any man I ever 
knew ; he speaks as it were in axioms, and what 
he observes is worthy to be remembered." " Had 
Mr. Opie turned his powers of mind," says Sir 
James Mackintosh, " to the study of philosophy, 
he would have been one of the first philosophers 
of the age. I was never more struck than with 
his original manner of thinking and expressing 
himself in conversation ; and had he wi-itten on 
the subject, he would, perhaps, have thrown more 
light on the philosophy of his art than any man 

The chief excellence of Opie lies in portrait 
painting. He has great vigor, breadth, and natu- 
ral force of character. Hjs portrait of Charles 
Fox has been justly commended, nor does the cir- 
cumstance of his having completed the likeness 
from the bust by NoUekens, as related by Smith, 
diminish his merit. When Fox, who sat opposite 
to Opie at the academy dinner, given in the ex- 
hibition-room, heard the general applause which 
his portrait obtained, he remembered that he had 
given him less of his time than the painter had 
requested, and said across the table, " There, Mr. 
Opie, you see I was right ; everybody thinks it 
could not be better. Now, if I had minded you, 
and consented to sit again, you most probably 
would have spoiled the picture." 


" He painted what he saw," says West, " in the 
most masterly manner, and he varied little from it. 
He saw nature in one point more distinctly and 
forcibly than any painter who ever lived. The 
truth of color, as conveyed to the eye through the 
atmosphere, by which the distance of every object 
is ascertained, was never better expressed than by 
him. He distinctly represented local color in all 
its various tones and proportions, whether in light 
or in shadow, with a perfect uniformity of imita- 
tion. Other painters frequently made two sepa- 
rate colors of objects in light and in shade, — Opie 
never. With him no color, whether white, black, 
primary or compound, ever, in any situation, lost 
its respective hue." 

His works were not the offspring of random fits 
of labor after long indulgence in idleness, they 
were the fruit of daily toil, in which every hour 
had its allotted task. " He was always in his 
painting-room," says his wife, Amelia Opie, " by 
half past eight o'clock, in winter, and by eight, in 
summer ; and there he generally remained closely 
engaged in painting, till half past four, in winter, 
and till five, in summer. Nor did he allow him- 
self to be idle when he had no pictures bespoken, 
and as he never let his execution rust for want of 
practice, he, in that case, either sketched out de- 
signs for historical or fancy pictures, or endeavor- 
ed, by working on an unfinished picture of me, to 
improve himself by incessant practice in that diffi- 
cult branch of art, female portraiture. Neither did 
he suffer his exertions to be paralyzed by neglect 
the most unexpected and disappointment the most 

" During the nine years that I was his wife," 


says INIrs. Opie, " I never saw him satisfied with 
any one of his productions ; and often, very often, 
have I seen him enter my sitting-room, and, in an 
agony of despondence, throw himself on the sofa, 
and exclaim : ' I am the most stupid of created 
beings, and I never, never shall be a painter as. 
long as I live.' He used to study at Somerset 
House, where the pictures were hung up, with 
moi'e persevering attention and thirst for improve- 
ment than was ever exhibited, perhaps, by the 
lowest student in the schools, and on his return, I 
never heard him expatiate on his own excellences, 
but sorrowfully dwell on his own defects." 

When Henry Fuseli was made keeper of the 
Royal Academy, Opie was elected to the profes- 
sorship of painting. He gave four lectures, which 
contain many discriminating remarks and valuable 
thoughts, though they are deficient in deep dis- 
cernment, and an original grasp of mind. The 
following passage embodies important hints, not 
only for young artists, but for every young man 
who is aspiring to usefulness in any situation of 

"Impressed as I am at the present moment, 
with a full conviction of the difficulties attendant 
on the practice of painting, I cannot but feel it 
also my duty to caution every one who hears me, 
against entering into it from improper motives 
and with inadequate views of the subject ; as they 
will thereby only run a risk of entailing misery 
and disgrace on themselves and their connections 
during the rest of their lives. Should any student 
therefore happen to be present who has taken up 
the art, on the supposition of finding it an easy 
and amusing employment — any one who has 


been sent into the academy by his friends, with 
the idea that he may cheaply acquire an honorable 
and profitable profession — any one who has mis- 
taken a petty kind of imitative monkey talent for 
genius — any one who hopes by it to get rid of 
what he thinks a more vulgar or disagreeable 
situation, to escape confinement at the counter or 
desk — any one urged merely by vanity or inter- 
est, or, in short, impelled by any consideration but a 
real and unconquerable passion for excellence — 
let him drop it at once, and avoid these walls and 
every thing connected with them as he would the 
pestilence; for if he have not this unquestion- 
able liking, in addition to all the requisites above 
enumerated, he may pine in indigence, or pass 
through life as a hackney likeness-taker, a copier, a 
drawing-master or pattern-drawer to young ladies, 
or he may turn picture-cleaner, and help time to 
destroy excellences which he cannot rival, but he 
must never hope to be in the proper sense of the 
word, a painter. 

** He who wishes to be a painter, must overlook 
no kind of knowledge. He must range deserts 
and mountains for images, picture upon his mind 
every tree of the forest and flower of the valley, 
observe the crags of the rock and the pinnacles 
of the palace, follow the windings of the rivulet, 
and watch the changes of the clouds ; in short, all 
nature, savage or civilized, animate or inanimate, 
the plants of the garden, the animals of the wood, 
the minerals of the mountains, and the motions of 
the sky, must undergo his examination. Whatever 
is great, whatever is beautiful, whatever is inter- 
esting, and whatever is dreadful, must be familiar 
to his imagination, and concur to store his mmd 


■with an inexhaustible variety of ideas ready for as- 
sociation on every possible occasion, to embellish 
sentiment and to give effect to truth. It is more- 
over absolutely necessary that tlien the epitome of 
all — his principal subject and his judge — should 
become a particular object of his investigation ; he 
must be acquainted with all that is characteristic 
and beautiful, both in regard to his mental and 
bodily endowments ; must study their analogies, 
and learn how far moral and physical excellence 
are connected and dependent one on the other. He 
must farther observe the power of the passions in 
all their combinations, and trace their changes, as 
modified by constitution or by the accidental in- 
fluences of climate or custom, from the sprightliness 
of infancy to the despondency of decrepitude ; he 
must be familiar with all the modes of life ; and, 
above all, endeavor to discriminate the essential 
from the accidental, to divest himself of the preju- 
dices of his own age and country, and, disregarding 
temporary fashions and local taste, learn to see 
nature and beauty in the abstract, and rise to gen- 
eral and transcendental truth, Avhich will always be 
the same." These are noble sentences, and wor- 
thy of the regard of those who pamt the mind, 
who are employed in intellectual portraiture, and 
whose work is to survive all material fabrics. 

Mr. Opie died on the ninth day of April, 1807. 
During his sickness he imagined himself to be 
occupied in his favorite pursuit, and continued 
painting, in idea, till death interposed. He was 
interred in St. Paul's cathedral, near Sir Joshua 

"In person," says Allan Cunningham, from 
whom we have compiled the preceding biography, 


" Opie looked like an inspired peasant. Even in 
his more courtly days there was a country air 
about him, and he was abrupt in his language and 
careless in his dress, without being conscious of 
either. His looks savored of melancholy ; some 
have said of moroseness. The portrait which he 
has left of himself shows a noble forehead and an 
intellectual eye. There are few who cannot feel 
his talents, and all must admire his fortitude. He 
came coarse and uneducated from the country into 
the polished circles of London, was caressed, in- 
vited, praised and patronized for one little year 
or so, and then the giddy tide of fashion receded ; 
but he was not left a wreck ; he had that strength 
of mind which triuAiphs over despair. He esti- 
mated the patronage of fickle ignorance at what it 
was worth, and lived to invest his name witli a 
brighter, as well as a steadier, halo than that of 
fashionable wonders. 


Nathaniel Smith was born at Woodbuiy, in 
the State of Connecticut, January 6, 1762. He 
was destitute of the means of an earlj education, 
and, while yet a youth, was actively and success- 
fully engaged in pursuits in which he discovered 
such discretion and strength of intellect as prom- 
ised future eminence. An incident, of no great 
importance in itself, induced him to enter upon 
the study of the profession of law. Having en- 
gaged in this pursuit, he persevered in it with 
surprising constancy of purpose, unappalled by 
difficulties, which ordinary minds would have 
deemed entirely insurmountable. He studied un- 
der the direction of the celebrated judge Tapping 
Reeve, of Litchfield, founder of the law-school in 
that place, and the sound and enlightened guide 
of many young men who have become eminent in 
their profession. Probably no individual who has 
lived in this country has done so much as judge 
Reeve, in implanting in the breasts of lawyers the 
great principles of morality and religion. 

Mr. Smith entered the office of judge Reeve 
about the close of the war of the Revolution, and 
such was his progress as to affijrd proof of the 
soundness of his judgment in the choice of his 
profession. In 1787, he was admitted to the bar, 
and his first effi:)rts showed a mind of a superior 
order. Though surrounded by powerful com- 
petitors, he soon rose to distinction, and was pro- 
nounced an able advocate. 


In 1795, Yale college bestowed on him the 
honorary degree of Master of Arts, and in the 
same year he was chosen Representative in th**. 
Congress of the United States, where he continued 
four years. On his declining a third election to 
Congress, he was chosen a member of the upper 
house (Senate,) of his native State, in which office 
he was continued by annual election for several 
years. In these various stations he acquired great 
respect for his manly eloquence, his firmness, his 
political integrity, and his comprehensive views. 
In October, 1806, he was appointed a judge of the 
supreme court. This office he accepted at a great 
pecuniary sacrifice, as thereby he relinquished his 
lucrative and extensive professional employments. 
He remained in this important office until May, 

Not having had the advantages of early in- 
struction and discipline, his style and manner of 
speaking showed nothing of the polished refine- 
ment of the scholar, but it manifested that which 
is of far greater value, a mind thoroughly disci- 
plined, acquainted with the subjects on which it 
was occupied, and intensely engaged in convincing 
the understandings of his hearers. In his argu- 
ments at the bar, in his speeches before delibera- 
tive assemblies, and in his opinions on the bench, 
he discussed nothing but the merits of the question ; 
and here he always appeared, as in truth he was, 
an able man. His language was not classical, but 
appropriate, his eloquence was not ornamented, 
but powerful ;* it fixed attention and produced 
conviction. He never sought to display qualities 
which he did not possess. He reasoned according 
to the strict rules of logic, without ever having 


studied them — he spoke well, without any theo- 
retical knowledge of the arts of tlie rhetorician. 
To a mind naturally strong and thoroughly disci- 
plined he added so much knowledge of the tech- 
nicalities and forms of the law, as enabled him to 
discern the nature of the questions submitted to 
him, and, with the aid of his own resources, to 
decide correctly in cases of doubt and difficulty. 
To obstacles Avhich could be overcome he never 
yielded. The powers of his mind rose with every 
difficulty which he had to encounter, and he ap- 
peared to be the strongest when sustaining the 
heaviest weight. 

Judge Smith was never a skeptic in religion. 
He always entertained great regard for Christiani- 
ty. He had, notwithstanding, doubts respecting 
the reality of that change which is produced in 
the hearts of men by the influence of the Spirit 
of God. At length, at the age of forty-six years, 
in the full possession of his understanding, and at 
a time when his imagination could not lead him 
astray, and in the hour of calm and deliberate re- 
flection, he believed that such a change was pro- 
duced in his own bosom. Under its influence he 
afterwards lived. His religious impressions were 
kept entirely concealed, for a time, from his most 
intimate friends. This proceeded, as is supposed, 
from an excessive delicacy as well as from a mis- 
taken sense of duty. Placed as he was in a high 
and responsible office, and fearing that, in his 
situation, an avowal of his faith in Christ might 
be attributed to improper motives, he retained his 
feelings within his own breast. When his situa- 
tion in relation to the public became such as to 
prevent any misconstruction of his motives, he 


hesitated no longer to profess his belief in religious 
truth, and his high hopes growing out of it. His 
trust in the merits and grace of the Redeemer of 
men cheered and supported him during the re- 
mainder of his days. 

He died in the calm and blessed expectation of 
eternal life, at Woodbury, on the ninth of March, 
1822, in the sixty-first year of his age. 



This distinguished author was born on the 
25th of August, 1744, at Mohrangen, a small 
town in Eastern Prussia, where his father taught 
a school for girls. His early education was not 
favorable to the development of his faculties. 
His father confined his reading to a very few 
books, but his love of learning was so strong as to 
lead liim to prosecute his studies in secret. The 
clergyman of the place employed the boy as a 
copyist, and soon discovered his talents, and 
allowed him to participate in the lessons in Latin 
and Greek, which he gave his own children. At 
this time young Herder suffered from a serious 
disease of the eyes, which was the occasion of 
his becoming better known to a Russian surgeon, 
who lived in the clergymen's house, and who was 
struck with the engaging manners, and pleasing 
appearance of the youth. He offered to take 
Herder with him to Konigsberg and to Peters- 
burg, and to teach him surgery gratuitously. 
Herder, who had no hopes of being able to follow 
his inclinations, left his native city in 17G2; but, 
in Konigsberg, he fainted at the first dissection at 
which he was present. He now resolved to study 
theology. Some gentlemen to whom he became 
known, and who immediately interested them- 
selves in his favor, procured him an appointment 
in Frederic's College, where he was at first tutor 
to some scholars, and, at a later period, instructor 


in the first philosophical, and in the second Latin 
class, which left hira time to study. During this 
period he became known to the celebrated Kant, 
who permitted him to hear all his lectures gratu- 
itously. He formed a more intimate acquaintance 
with Hamann. His tunrelaxing diligence pene- 
trated the most various branches of science, 
theology, philosophy, philology, natural and civil 
history, and politics. In 17G4, he was appointed 
an assistant teacher at the cathedral school of 
Riga, with which office that of a preacher was 
connected. His pupils in school, as well as his 
hearers at church, were enthusiastically attached 
to him, so much that it was thought necessary to 
give him a more spacious church. His sermons 
Avere distinguished by simplicity, united with a 
sincere devotion to evangelical truth and original 
investigation. While on a visit to Strasburg, in 
1767, he was invited to become court preacher, 
superintendent and consistorial counsellor, at 
Biickeburg, whither he proceeded in 1771. He 
soon made himself known as a distinguished 
theologian, and, in 1775, was offered a professor- 
ship at Gottingen, which he however, did not 
accept immediately, because the king had not con- 
firmed his appointment unconditionally ; and, 
contrary to custom, he was expected to undergo a 
kind of examination. But, being married. Her- 
der did not feel at liberty to decline the appoint- 
ment. On the very day when he had resolved to 
go to Gottingen, he received an invitation to 
become court preacher, general superintendent 
and consistorial counsellor at Weimar. This 
appointment was through the influence of Gothe. 
He arrived at Weimar in October, 1776. It was 


at the time when the duke Augustus and the 
princess Amelia had collected many of the most 
distinguished German literati at their court. 
Weimar was greatly benefited by Herdei-'s labors 
as a pulpit orator, inspector of the schools of the 
country, the patron of merit and founder of many 
excellent institutions. In 1801, he was made 
president of the high consistory, a place never 
before given to a person not of the nobility. 
Herder was subsequently made a nobleman by 
the elector of Bavaria. He says himself that lie 
accepted the rank for the sake of his children. 
Herder died, on the 18th of December, 1803. 
Germany is deeply indebted to him for his valua- 
ble works in almost every branch of literature, and 
few authors have had a greater influence upon the 
public taste in that country. His works were 
published in forty-five octavo volumes, in 1806. 
Another edition is now publishing in sixty small 
volumes. As a theologian, He;i'(er contributed 
to a better understanding of the historical and 
antiquarian parts of the Old Testament. "In 
early years," says Herder, " when the fields of 
knowledge lay before me, with all the glow of a 
morning sun, from which the meridian sun of life 
takes away so much of the charm, the idea often 
recurred to my mind, whether, like other great 
subjects of thought, each of which has its philoso- 
phy and science, that subject also, which lies 
nearest to our hearts — the history of mankind, 
viewed as a whole — might not also have its 
philosophy and science. Every thing reminded 
me of this idea ; metaphysics and morals, natural 
philosophy and natural history lastly, and most 
powerfully, religion." This is the key to Herder's 


life. The object of his investigations was to find 
the point from wliich he might calmly survey 
every thing, and see how all things converge. 
" It is," says Frederic Schlegel, " the very per- 
ception and feeling of the poetical, in the character 
of natural legends, which forms the most distin- 
guishing featui'e in the genius of Herder. He 
has an energy of fancy by which he is enabled to 
transport himself into the spirit and poetry of 
every age and people. The poetry of the He- 
brews was that which most delighted him. He 
may be called the mythologist of German litera- 
ture, on account of this gift, this universal feeling 
of the spirit of antiquity. His power of entering 
into all the shapes and manifestations of fancy, 
implies in himself a very high degree of imagina- 
tion. His mind seems to have been cast in so 
universal a mould, that he might have attained to 
equal eminence, either as a poet or philosopher." 

Notwithstanding his genius. Herder had great 
difiiculties to surmount ; want of early education 
and encouragement, poverty, and a serious and 
lasting disease of the eyes. He was a most 
laborious and indefatigable student. He did not 
attempt to arrive at truth by metaphysical specu- 
lation, but by observation, by the constant study 
of nature and the mind, in all its works, in the 
arts, law, language, religion, medicine, poetry, &c. 

In 1819, the grand duke of Weimar ordered a 
tablet of cast iron to be placed on his grave, with 
the inscription, Licht, Ldebe Leben. Liirht, Love, 



This enterprising traveller was born at Padua, 
Italy, in 1778, where his father was a barber. 
The family, however, had belonged originally to 
Rome ; and it is related that Belzoni, when only 
thirteen years of age, betrayed his disposition for 
travelling, by setting out one day along with his 
younger brother to make his way to that city, 
which he had long been haunted with a passionate 
desire to see, from hearing his parents so often 
speak of it. The failing strength and courage of 
his brother, however, forced him to relinquish this 
expedition, after they had proceeded as far as the 
Apennines ; and he returned to assist his father 
once more in his shop, as he had already, for some 
time, been doing. But when he was three years 
older, nothing could detain him any, longer in his 
native place ; and he again took the road to Rome, 
■which he now actually reached. It is said that 
on his first arrival \n this capital, he applied him- 
self to the acquirement of a knowledge of the art 
of constructing machines for the conveyance and 
raising of water, with the view probably of ob- 
taining a livelihood by the exhibition of curious 
or amusing experiments in that department of 
physics. It is certain, however, that he eventu- 
ally adopted the profession of a monk. The 
arrival of Bonaparte in Italy, in 1800, brought 
him the opportunity, which he embraced, of 
throwing off his monastic habit ; being, by this 


time, heartily tired of the idleness and obscurity 
to which it consigned him. He then pursued, for 
some time, a wandering life, having, in the first 
instance, returned to his native town, and then 
proceeded in quest of employment to Holland, 
from whence, in about a year afterwards, he came 
back to Italy. By this time he had attained soi 
uncommon a height, with strength proportioned, 
to it, that he was an object of Avonder wherever 
he was seen. It was px'obably with the expecta- 
tion of being able to turn these personal advan- 
tages to account, that he determined, in 1803, to 
go over to England. On arriving there, accord- 
ingly, he first attempted to gain a maintenance by 
walking over the country exhibiting hydraulic 
experiments, and feats of muscular strength ; and 
accompanied by his wnfe, an Englishwoman whom 
he had married soon after his arrival, he visited 
with this object all the principal towns both of 
Great Britain and Ireland. He continued for 
about nine years in England. In 1812, he sailed 
with his wife for Lisbon. After spending some 
time in that city, he proceeded to Madrid, wnere 
he attracted considerable attention by his perform- 
ances. From Spain he went to Malta ; and here, 
it is supposed, the idea first suggested itself to 
him of passing over to Egypt, as others of his 
countrymen had already done, and offering his 
services to the Pacha, the active and enterprising 
Mohammed Ali. Accordingly, carrying with 
him a recommendation from a Maltese agent of 
the Pacha's, he proceeded, still accompanied by 
his wife, to Cairo. On presenting himself to Ali, 
he was immediately engaged, on the strength of 
his professed skill in hydraulics, to construct a 


machine for -watering some pleasure gardens at 
Soubra, on the Nile. This undertaking, it is said, 
he accomplished to the Pacha's satisfaction ; but 
an accident having occurred to one of the persons 
looking on, at the first trial of the machine, the 
Turkish superstition, under the notion that what 
had happened was a bad omen, would not suffer 
the use of it to be continued. Belzoni Avas once 
more thrown on his own resources, probably as 
much at a loss as ever, what course to adopt. 

At this time, the late Mr. Salt, the learned 
orientalist, was English Consul in Egypt, and 
embracing the opportunity which his situation 
afforded him, was actively employed in investi- 
gating and making collections of the remains of 
antiquity with which that country abounded. For 
this purpose he kept several agents in his employ- 
ment, whose business it was to make researches, 
in all directions, after interesting objects of this 
description. To Mr. Salt, Belzoni now offered 
his services in this capacity, and he was imme- 
dijitely employed by that gentleman, in an affair 
of considerable difficulty : the removing and 
transporting to Alexandria of the colossal granite 
bust of Memnon, which lay buried in the sands 
near Thebes. The manner in which Belzoni 
accomplished this, his first enterprise in his new 
line of pursuit, at once established his character 
for energy and intelligence. Dressing himself as 
a* Turk, he proceeded to the spot, and there half 
persuaded and half terrified the peasantry into 
giving him the requisite assistance in excavating 
and embarking the statue, till he had at last the 
satisfaction of seeing it safely deposited in the 
boat intended for its conveyance down the Nile. 


It reached England, and was plafied in the British 

Belzoni had now found his proper sphere, and 
henceforward his whole soul was engaged in the 
work of exploring the wonderful country in 
which he was, in search of the monuments of its 
ancient arts and greatness. In this occupation he 
was constantly employed, sometimes in the service 
of Mr. Salt, and sometimes on his own account. 
The energy and perseverance of character which 
he exhibited, were truly astonishing. In despite 
of innumerable obstacles, partly of a physical 
nature, and partly arising from the opposition of 
the natives, he at last succeeded in penetrating 
into the interior of the temple of Ihamboul, in 
Upper Egypt, which was so enveloped in sand, 
that only its summit was visible. On returning 
from this expedition, he next undertook a journey 
to the Valley of Bebanel Malonk, beyond Thebes, 
where, from a slight inspection on a former occa- 
sion of the rocky sides of the hills, he had been 
led to suspect that many tombs of the old inhab- 
itants would be found concealed in them. For 
some time he searched in vain in all directions for 
any indication of what he had expected to find, 
till at last his attention was turned to a small 
fissure in the rock, which presented to his experi- 
enced eye something like the traces of human 
labor. He put forward his hand to examine it, 
when the stones, on his touching them, tumbled 
down, and discovered to him the entrance to a 
long passage, having its sides ornamented with 
sculpture and paintings. He at once entered the 
cavern, proceeded forward, and, after overleaping 
several obstacles, found himself in a sepulchral 


chamber, in the centre of which stood an alabaster 
sarcophagus, covered with sculptures. He after- 
wards examined this sarcophagus, and with 
immense labor, took exact copies of the drawings, 
consisting of nearly a thousand figures, and the 
hierogyphic inscriptions, amounting to more than 
five hundred, which he found on the walls of the 
tomb. It was from these copies that Belzoni 
formed the representation or model of this tomb, 
which he afterwards exhibited in London and 

On returning to Cairo from this great discovery, 
he immediately engaged in a new investigation, 
which conducted him to another perhaps still more 

He determined to make an attempt to penetrate 
into one of the pyramids. At length in the pyra- 
mid called Cephrenes, he discovered the entrance 
to a passage which led him into the centre of the 
structure. Here he found a sepulchral chamber, 
with a sarcophagus in the middle of it, containing 
the bones of a bull — a discovery, which has been 
considered as proving that these immense edifices 
were in reality erected by the superstition of the 
old Egyptians for no other purpose than to serve 
each as a sepulchre for one of their brute divini- 

Encouraged by the splendid success which 
attended his efforts, and which had made his name 
famous in all parts of the literary world, Belzoni 
engaged in various other enterprises of a similar 
character. He also made several journeys in the 
remote parts of Egypt, and into the adjoining 
regions of Africa. He set sail for Europe in 
September, 1819. The first place which he visit- 


ed was his native city, from which he had been 
absent nearly twenty years. He presented to the 
Paduans two lion-headed granite statues, which 
were placed in a conspicuous situation in the 
palace of Justice. A medal was at the same time 
struck in honor of the giver, on which were in- 
scribed his name and a recital of his exploits. 
From Italy Belzoni hastened to England, where 
the rumor of his discoveries had already excited 
a greater interest than in any other country. In 
1820, an account of his travels and discoveries 
appeared in a quarto volume, with another volume 
of plates, in folio. It soon passed through three 
editions, while translations of it into French and 
Italian appeared at Paris and Milan. After this, 
Belzoni visited successively, France, Russia, 
Sweden, and Denmark. Returning to England 
he undertook, under the auspices of government, 
the perilous attempt of penetrating into central 
Africa. Proceeding to Tangiers he went from 
thence to Fez. Unexpected difficulties prevented 
his advancing in that direction. On this disap- 
pointment, he sailed for Madeira, and from thence, 
in October, 1823, he set out for the mouth of the 
river Benin, on the western coast of Africa, with 
the intention of making his way to the interior 
from that point. A malady, however, attacked 
him almost as soon as he stepped his foot on shore. 
He expired at Gato, on the 3d of December, 
1823. His remains were interred on the shore, 
under a plane tree. An inscription in English 
was afterwards placed over his grave. 


" The ease which vre now find in providing and 
dispersing what number of copies of books we 
please by means of the press," says Dr. Middleton, 
in his Free Inquiry, " makes us apt to imagine, 
without considering the matter, that the publica- 
tion of books was the same easy aifair in all 
former times as in the present. But the case was 
quite different. For, when there were no books 
in the world but what were written out by hand, 
with great labor and expense, the' method of pub- 
lishing them was necessarily very slow, and the 
price very dear ; so that the rich and curious only 
would be disposed or able to purchase them ; and 
to such, also, it was difficult to procure them or to 
know even where they were to be bought." 

Of the truth of these remarks of Dr. Middleton, 
a great variety of facts might be brought forward 
in proof. In 1299, the Bishop of Winchester 
borrowed a Bible, in two volumes, folio, from a 
convent in that city, giving a bond, drawn up in 
the most formal and solemn manner, for its due 
return. This Bible had been given to the convent 
by a former Bishop, and, in consideration of this 
gift and one hundred marks, the monks founded 
a daily mass for the soul of the donor. In the 
game century, several Latin Bibles were given to 
the University of Oxford, on condition that the 
students who read them should deposit a caution- 
ary pledge. And even after manuscripts were 


multiplied, by the invention of linen paper, it was 
enacted by the statutes of St. Mary's college, at 
Oxford, in 1446, that "no scholar shall occupy a 
book in the library above one hour, or two hours at 
most, lest others should be hindered from the use of 
the same." Money was often lent on the deposit of 
a book ; and there were public chests in the univer- 
sities and other seminaries, in which the books so 
deposited were kept. They were often particular- 
ly named and described in wills, generally left to 
a relative or friend, in fee, and for the term of his 
life, and afterwards to the library of some religious 
house. " When a book was bought," observes Mr. 
Walton, " the affair was of so much importance, 
that it was customary to assemble persons of conse- 
quence and character, and to make a formal record 
that they were present on the occasion." The 
same author adds : " Even so late as the year 1471, 
when Louis XI, of France, borrowed the works 
of the Arabian physician, Rhasis, from the faculty 
of medicine, at Paris, he not only deposited, by 
way of a pledge, a valuable plate, but was obliged 
to procure a nobleman to join with him as party 
in a deed, by which he bound himself to return 
it, under a considerable forfeiture." Long and 
violent altercations, and even lawsuits, sometimes 
took place, in consequence of the disputed proper- 
ty of a book. 

Books were so scarce in Spain in the tenth 
century, that several monasteries had among 
them only one copy of the Bible, one of Jerome's 
Epistles, and one of several other religious books. 
There are some curious instances given by Lu- 
pus, abbot of Ferrieris, of the extreme scarcity of 
classical manuscripts in the middle of the ninth 


century. He was much devoted to literature, and 
from his letters appears to have been indefatigable 
in his endeavors to find out such manuscripts, in 
order to borrow and copy them. In a letter to 
the pope, he earnestly requests of him a copy of 
Quinctilian, and of a treatise of Cicero ; " for," he 
adds, " though we Iiave some fragments of them, a 
complete copy is not to be found in France." In 
two other of his letters, he requests of a brother 
abbot the loan of several manuscripts, which he as- 
sures him shall be copied and returned as soon as 
possible, by a faithful messenger. Another time he 
sent a special messenger to borrow a manuscript, 
promising that he would take very great care of 
it, and return it by a safe opportunity, and re- 
questing the person who lent it to him, if he Avere 
asked to Avhom he had lent it, to reply to some 
near relation of his own, who had been very 
urgent to borrow it. Another manuscript, which 
he seems to have prized much, and a loan of which 
had been so frequently requested, that he thought 
of banishing it somewhere, that it might not be 
destroyed or lost, he tells a friend he may perhaps 
lend him when he comes to see him, but that he 
will not trust it to the messenger who had been 
sent for it, though a monk, and trust-worthy, be- 
cause he was travelling on foot. 

Respecting the price of manuscript books, we 
are not in the possession of many facts. Plato 
paid one hundred minge, equal to £375, for three 
small treatises by Philolaus, the Pythagorean. 
After the death of Speusippus, Plato's disciple, 
his books, few in number, were purchased by Aris- 
totle, for about £675. It is said, that St. Jerome 
nearly ruined himself by the purchase of religious 


works alone. Persons of moderate fortunes could 
not afford the means of procuring them, nor the 
rich even without the sacrifice of some luxui'ies. 
The mere money which was paid for them in the 
dark ages, whenever a person distinguished him- 
self for his love of literature, was seldom the sole 
or the principal expense. It was often necessary 
to send to a great distance and to spend much time 
in finding out whei'e they were. In the ninth 
century, an English bishop was obliged to make 
five journeys to Rome, principally in order to 
purchase books. For one of his books thus pro- 
cured, king Alfred gave him an estate of eight 
hides of land, or as much as eight ploughs could 
till. About the period of the invention of cotton 
paper, 1174, the homilies of St. Bede and St. 
Augustine's Psalter were bought by a prior in 
Winchester, from the monks of Dorchester, in 
Oxfordshire, for twelve measures of barley and a 
pall richly emi'oidered in silver. 

Stow informs us, that in 1274, a Bible, in nine 
volumes, fairly written, with a gloss, or comment, 
sold for fifty marks, or £33 Gs. Sd. About this 
time the price of wheat averaged 35. 4c?. a quarter, 
a laborer's wages were one and a half pence a day, 
a harvest-man's, two pence. On a blank page of 
Comestor's Scholastic History, deposited in the 
British museum, it is stated that this manuscript 
■was taken from the king of France, at the battle 
of Poictiers. It was afterwards purchased by the 
earl of Salisbury for a hundred marks, or £66 
13s. Ad. It was directed, by the last will of his 
countess, to be sold for forty livres. At this time 
the king's surgeon's pay was £5. 13s. 4c?. per 
annum, and one shilling a day besides. Master- 


carpenters had four pence a day ; their servants 
two pence. 

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, some 
books were bequeathed to Merton college, Oxford, 
of which the following are the names and valua- 
tion. A Scholastic History, twenty shillings ; a 
Concordance, ten shillings ; the four greater proph- 
ets, with glosses, five shillings ; a Psalter, with 
glosses, ten sliillings ; St. Austin on Genesis, ten 
shiUings. About the year 1400, a copy of the 
Roman de la Rou was sold before the pahice-gate, 
at Paris, for £33 6s. 6c?. The countess of Anjou 
paid for a copy of the homiUes of Bishop Haiman, 
two hundred sheep, five quarters of wheat, five 
quarters of barley, and five quarters of millet. 
On the conquest of Paris, in 1425, the duke of 
Bedford sent the royal library to England. It 
consisted of only eight hundred and iifty-three 
volumes, but it was valued at more than two 
thousand two hundred pounds sterling. Further 
facts of a similar character will be found in the 
life of the individual to which we now proceed. 

William Caxton was born in the weald of 
Kent, England, about the year 1412. At this 
period learning of all kinds was in a much more 
depressed state in England than in most of the 
continental countries, in consequence, principally, 
of the civil war in which the nation was em- 
broiled, the habits of restlessness thus produced, 
and the constant preoccupation of the time and 
thoughts of men in promoting the cause they es- 
poused, and in protecting their lives and property. 
Under these circumstances the most plain and 
common education was often neglected. Caxton's 
parents, however, performed their duty to him. 


" I am bounden," says he, " to pray for my father 
and mother, that, in my youth sent me to school, 
by which, by the sufierance of God, I get my 
living, I hope, truly." 

"When he was about fifteen or sixteen he was 
put an apprentice to William Large, a mercer of 
London, and afterwards mayor. The name mercer 
was given at that time to general merchants, trad- 
ing in all kinds of goods. After he had served 
his apprenticeship, Caxton took up his freedom in 
the mercer's company, and became a citizen of 
London. Some subsequent years he spent in 
travelling'in various countries on the continent of 
Europe. In 1464, he was appointed ambassador 
to the court of the duke of Burgundy. During 
his residence in the Low Countries he acquired or 
perfected his knowledge of the French language, 
gained some knowledge of Flemish or Dutch, 
imbibed a taste for literature and romance, and,/ 
at great expense, made himself master of the art/ 
of printing. ' 

About 1472, Caxton returned to England, and 
introduced, in all probability, the art of printing 
into that country. The common opinion is that 
the " Game of Chess " was the first book printed 
by Caxton, though Mr. Dibdin thinks that the 
" Romance of Jason " was printed before it. Cax- 
ton was most indefatigable in cultivating his art. 
Besides the labor necessarily attached to his press, 
he translated not fewer than five thousand closely 
printed folio pages, though well stricken in years. 
The productions of his press amount to sixty -four. 
In 1480, he published his Chronicle, and his De- 
scription of Britain, which is usually subjoined to 
it. These were very popular, having been re- 


printed four times in this century and seven times 
in the sixteenth century. 

"After divers works," says he, "made, trans- 
lated and aclxieved, having no Avork in hand, I, 
sitting in my study, where, as lay many divers 
pamphlets and books, it happened that to my hand 
came a little book in French, which lately was 
translated out of Latin, by some noble clerk of 
France, which book is named ' -^neid,' as made 
in Latin by that noble person and great clerk, 
Virgil, which book I saw over, and read therein. 
(He then describes the contents.) In which book 
I had great pleasure, by cause of the fair and 
honest terms and words in French, which I never 
saw tofore like, ne none so pleasant, ne so well 
ordered; which book, as me seemed, should be 
much requisite" to noble men to see, as well for the 
eloquence as histories. And when I had advised 
me in this said book, I deliberated, and concluded 
to translate it into English ; and forthwith took a 
pen and ink and wrote a leaf or twain, which I 
oversaw again, to correct it; and when I saw the 
fair and strange terms therein, I doubted that it 
should not please some gentlemen which late 
blamed me, saying that in my former translations 
I had over curious terms, which could not be un- 
derstood of common people ; and desired me to 
use old and homely terms in my translations ; and 
fain would I satisfy every man, and so to do, took 
an old book and read therein ; and certainly the 
English was so rude and broad, that I could not 
well understand it ; and also, my lord abbot of 
"Westminster, did do show to me late certain evi- 
dences, written in old English, for to reduce it 
into our English now used ; and certainly it was 


written in such wise, that was more like to Dutch 
than to English. I could not reduce, nor bx'ing it 
to be understanden. Certainly the language now 
used varieth far from that which was used and 
spoken when I was born ; for we. Englishmen, j 
been bom under the domination of the moon, I 
which is never at rest, but ever wavering. The I 
most quantity of the people understand not Latin 
nor French in this realm of England." 

Caxton seems to have been much puzzled and 
perplexed about the language he should use in his 
traslations; for, while some advised him to use 
old and homely terms, others, " honest and great 
clerks," he adds, " have been with me, and desired 
me to write the most curious terms that I could 
Und, — and thus, betwixt plain, rude and curious, 
I stand abashed." 

Among the books which Caxton published were 
two editions of Chaucer's Tales. He seems to 
have had a veneration for the memory of this 
poet, and to have formed, with sound judgment 
and good taste, a most correct and precise estimate 
of the peculiar merits of his poetry. As a proof 
of the former, we may mention, that Caxton, at 
his own expense, procured a long epitiaph to be 
written in honor of Chaucer, which wits hung on 
a pillar near the poet's grave in Westminster 
Abbey. The following remarks of Caxton show 
that he was able thoroughly to relish the merits 
and beauties of Chaucer's poetry. " We ought to 
give a singular laud unto that noble and great 
philosopher, Geoffrey Chaucer, the which, for his 
ornate writings in our tongue, may well have the 
name of a laureate poet. For tofore, that he em- 
bellished and ornated and made fair our English, 


in this realm was made rude speech and incongru- 
ous, as yet appeareth by old books, which, at this 
day ought not to have place, ne be compared unto 
his beauteous volumes and ornate writings, of 
whom he made many books and treatises of many 
a noble liistory, as well in metre as in rhyme and 
prose ; and then so craftily made, that he com- 
prehended his matters in short, quick and high 
.sentences, eschewing perplexity; casting away 
the chaff of superfluity, and showing the picked 
1 grain of sentence, uttered by crafty and sugared 
[ eloquence. In all his works he excelled, in mine 
opinion, all writers in our English, for he writeth 
no void words, but all his matter is full of high 
and quick sentence, to whom ought to be given 
laud and praise for his noble making and writing." 
Caxton died in 1490-1, was buried in St. 
Margaret's, and left some books to that church. 
" His character," says his biographer, " may be 
collected from the account we have given of his 
labors. He was possessed of good sense and sound 
judgment ; steady, persevering, active, zealous 
and liberal in his services for that important art 
•which he introduced into England ; laboring not 
only as printer, but as translator and editor." 


Richard Baxter was born on the 12th of 
November, 1G15, at Rowton, in Shropshire, Eng- 
land. Here he spent, with his grandfather, the 
first ten years of his life. Plis father was a free- 
holder, and possessed of a moderate estate ; but 
having been addicted to gaming in his youth, his 
property become so deeply involved, that much 
care and frugality were required to disencumber 
it at a future period of his life. He became a 
pious man about the time of the birth of Richard. 
To him the lad was indebted for his first religious 
instructions. There must have been in Richard, 
when a child, some striking indications of religious 
feeling, for his father remarked to Dr. Bates, that 
he would even then reprove the improper conduct 
of other children, to the astonishment of those 
who heard him. Baxter's early impressions and 
convictions, though often like the morning cloud 
and early dew, were never entirely dissipated, but 
at last fully established themselves in a permanent 
influence on his character. His early education 
was very imperfectly conducted. From six to 
ten years of age, he was under the four successive 
curates of the parish, two of whom never preach- 
ed, and the two, who had the most learning of the j 
four, drank themselves to beggary, and then left j 
the place. At the age of ten, he was removed to I 
his father's house, where Sir William Rogers, a 
blind old man, was parson. One of his curates, 


who had succeeded a person who was driven 
away on being discovered to have officiated under 
forged orders, was Baxter's principal schoohuas- 
ter. This man had been a lawyer's clerk, but 
hard drinking drove him from that profession, and 
he turned curate for a piece of bread. He 
preached only once in Baxter's time, and then 
was drunk! From such men what instruction 
could be expected ! How wretched must the 
state of the country have been, when they could 
be tolerated either as teachers or ministers ! His 
next instructer, who loved him much, he tells us 
was a grave and eminent man, and expected to be 
made a bishop. He also, however, disappointed 
him ; for during no less than two years, he never 
instructed him one hour ; but spent his time, for 
the most part, in talking against the Puritans. In 
his study, he remembered to have seen no Greek 
book but the New Testament; the only father 
was Augustine de Civitate Dei ; there were a 
few common modern English works, and for the 
most of the year, the priest studied Bishop And- 
rews' Sermons. Of Mr. John Owen, master of 
the free school at "Wroxeter, he speaks more re- 
spectfully. To him he w-as chiefly indebted for 
his classical instruction. He seems to have been 
a respectable man, and under him, Baxter had 
for his schoolfellows the two sons of Sir Richard 
Newport, (one of whom became Lord Newport,) 
and Dr. Richard Allestree, who afterwards was 
Regius professor of divinity at Oxford, and pro- 
vost of Eton college. "WTien fitted for the univer- 
sity, his master recommended that, instead of 
being sent to it, he should be put under the tuition 
of Mr. Richard Wickstead, chaplain to the coun- 


cil at Ludlow, who was allowed by the king to 
have a single pupil. But he also neglected his 
trust. The only advantage young Baxter had 
witii him, was the enjoyment of time and books. 
" Considering the great neglect," says IVIr. Orme, 
his biographer, " of suitable and regular instruc- 
tion, which Baxter experienced in his youth, it is 
wonderful that he ever rose to eminence. Such 
disadvantages are very rarely altogether conquer- 
ed. But the strength of his genius, the ardor of 
his mind, and the power of his religious principles, 
compensated for minor defects, subdued every 
difficulty, and bore down, with irresistible energy, 
every obstacle that had been placed in his way." 

During his short residence at Ludlow castle, 
Baxter made a narrow escape from acquiring a 
taste for gaming, of which he gives a curious ac- 
count. The best gamester in the house undertook 
to teach him to play. The first or second game 
was so nearly lost by Baxter, that his opponent 
betted a hundred to one against him, laying down 
ten shillings to his sixpence. He told him there 
was no possibility of his winning, but by getting 
one cast of the dice very often. No sooner was 
the money down, than Baxter had every cast 
which he wished ; so that before a person could 
go three or four times round the room, the game 
was won. This so astonished him that he believed 
the devil had the command of the dice, and did it 
to entice him to play ; in consequence of which 
he returned the ten shillings, and resolved never 
to play more. Whatever may be thought of the 
fact, or of Baxter's reasoning on it, the result to 
him was important and beneficial. 

On returning from Ludlow castle to his father's 


house, he found his old schoolmaster, Owen, dying 
of a consumption. At the request of Lord New- 
port, he took charge of the school till it should 
appear whether the master would die or recover. 
In about a quarter of a year, his death relieved 
Baxter from this office, and as he had determined 
to enter the ministry, he placed himself under Mr. 
Francis Garbet, then minister of "VVroxeter, for 
further instruction in theology. With him he 
read logic about a month, but was seriously and 
long interrupted, by symptoms of that complaint 
which attended hira to his grave. He was at- 
tacked by a violent cough, with spitting of blood, 
and other indications of consumption. The broken 
state of his health, the irregularity of his teacher, 
and his want of an university education, materially 
injured his learning and occasioned lasting regrets. 
He never acquired any great knowledge of the 
learned languages. Of Hebrew he scarcely 
knew anything ; his acquaintance with Greek was 
not profound ; and even in Latin, as his works 
show, he must be regarded by a scholar as little 
better than a barbarian. Of mathematics he 
knew nothing, and never had a taste for them. 
Df logic and metaphysics he was a devoted 
admirer, and to them he dedicated his labor and 
delight. Definitions and distinctions were in a 
manner his occupation ; the quod sit, the quid 
sit, and quotupJex — modes, consequences, and 
adjuncts, were his vocabulary. He never thought 
he understood anything till he could anatomize it, 
and see the parts distinctly ; and certainly very 
few have handled the knife more dexterously, or 
to so great an extent. His love of the niceties of 
metaphysical disquisition plunged him very early 


into the study of controversial divinity. The 
sclioolmeu were the objects of his admiration. 
Aquinas, Scotus, Durandus, Ockham, and their 
disciples, were the teachers from whom he acquir- 
ed no small portion of that acuteness for which 
he became so distinguished as a disputer, and of 
that logomachy by which most of his writings are 

" Early education," says Mr. Orme, " exerts a 
prodigious power over the future pursuits and 
habits of the individual. Its imperfections or 
peculiarities will generally appear, if he attempt 
to make any figure in the literary or scientific 
world. The advantages of a university or aca- 
demical education will never be despised, except 
by him who never enjoyed them, or who affects 
to be superior to their necessity. It cannot be 
denied, however, that some of our eminent men, 
in all departments and professions, never enjoyed 
these early advantages." 

Among these was Richard Baxter. In answer 
to a letter of Anthony "Wood, inquiring whether 
he was an Oxonian, he replied with dignified 
simplicity : " As to myself, my faults are no dis- 
grace to any university, for I Avas of none ; I 
have little but what I had out of books, and in- 
considerable helps of country tutors. Weakness 
and pain helped me to study how to die : that set 
me on studying how to live ; and that on studying 
the doctrine from which I must fetch my motives 
and comforts. Beginning with necessities, I pro- 
ceeded by degrees, and now am going to see that 
for which I have lived and studied." 

The defects of early education Baxter made up 
by greater ardor of application and energy oi" 


purpose. He never attained the elegant refine- 
ments of classical literature, but in all the sub- 
stantial attainments of swnd learning he excelled 
most of his contemporaries. The regrets 'Avhich 
he felt, at an early period, that his scholarship 
was not more eminent, he thus expresses : 

" Thy methods cross my ways ; my young desire 
To academic glory did aspire. 
Fain I'd have sat in such a nurse's lap, 
Where I might long have had a sluggard's nap : 
Or have been dandled on her reverend knee?,. 
And known by honored titles and degi-ees ; 
And there have spent the flower of my days 
In soaring in the air of human praise. 
Yea, and I thought it needful to tky ends, 
To make the prejudiced Avorld my friends ; 
That so my praise might go before thy grace, 
Preparing men thy messages to embrace ; 
Also my work and office to adorn, 
And to avoid profane contempt and scorn. 
But these were not thy thoughts ; thou didst foresee 
That such a course would not be best for me, 
Thou mad'est me know that man's contempt and scorn, 
Is such a cross as must be daily borne." 

The principal scene of Baxter's pastoral labors 
was Kidderminister. Here he resided about four- 
teen years, and his labors were attended with 
remarkable success. " It was a great advantage 
to me," says Baxter, " that my neighbors were of 
such a trade as allowed them time to read or talk 
of holy things. For the town liveth upon the 
weaving of Kidderminster stuffs ; and they stand 
in their lOoms, the men can set a book before 
them, or edify one another ; whereas ploughmen, 


and many others are so Avearied, or continually 
employed, either in the labors or the cares of 
their callings, that it is a great impediment to their 
salvation. Freeholders and tradesmen are the 
strength of religion and civility in the land ; and 
gentlemen and beggars, and servile tenants, are 
the strength of iniquity. Though among these 
sorts, there are some also that are good and just, 
as among the other there are many bad. And 
their constant converse and traffic with London, 
doth much promote civility and piety among 

"Another furtherance of my work, was the 
books which I wrote and gave away among them. 
Of some small books I gave each family one, 
which came to about eight hundred ; and of the 
larger, I gave fewer ; and every family that was 
poor, and had not a Bible, I gave a Bible to. I 
had found myself the benefit of reading to be so 
great, that I could not but think it would be profit- 
able to others. 

" God made use of my practice of physic 
among them also as a very great advantage to my 
ministry ; for they that cared not for their souls ' 
did love their lives, and care for their bodies ; and 
by this, they were made almost as observant, as a 
tenant is of his landlord. Sometimes I could see 
before me in the church, a very considerable part 
of the congregation, whose lives God had made 
me a means to save, or to recover their health ; 
and doing it for nothing, so obliged them that 
they would readily hear nie. Another help to 
my success, was the sniall relief which my low 
estate enabled me to afford the poor ; though the 
place was reckoned at near two hundred pounds 


per annum, there came but ninety pounds, and 
sometimes but eighty pounds to me. Beside 
which, some years I had sixty, or eighty pounds 
a year of the booksellers for iny books ; which 
little dispersed among them, much reconciled them 
to the doctrine that I taught. I took the aptest 
of their children from the school, and sent divers 
of them to the universities ; where for eight 
pounds a year, or ten, at most, by the help of my 
friends, I maintained them. Some of them are 
honest, able ministers, now cast out with their 
brethren ; but, two or three having no other way 
to live, turned great conformists, and are preachers 
now. In giving the little I had, I did not enquire 
whether they were good or bad, if they asked re- 
lief; for the bad had souls and bodies that needed 

^charity most. And this truth I will speak to the 
encouragement of the charitable, that what little 

(money I have now by me, I got it almost all, 
I scarce know how, at that time when I gave 
most, and since I have had less opportunity of 
giving, I have had less increase. 

" My public preaching met with an attentive, 
diligent auditory. Having broke over the brunt 
of the opposition of the rabble before the wars, I 
found them afterwards tractable and unprejudiced. 
Before I entered into the ministry, God blessed 
my private conference to the conversion of some, 
who remain firm and eminent in holiness to this 
day ; but then, and in the beginning of my min- 
istry, I was wont to number them as jewels ; but 
since then I could not keep any number of thera. 
The congregation was usually full, so that we were 
fain to build five galleries after my coming 
thither ; the church itself being very capacious, 


and the most coramodious and convenient that 
ever I was in. Our private meetings, also, were 
full. On the Lord's days there was no disorder 
to be seen in the streets ; but you might heai* a 
hundred families singing psalms and repeating 
sermons as you passed through them. In a word, I 
when I came thither first, there was about one 
family in a street that worshij)ped God and called 
on his name, and when I came away, there were 
some streets where there was not one poor family 
in the side that did not so ; and that did not, by 
professing serious godliness, give us hopes of 
their sincerity. And in those families whicli were 
the worst, being inns and ale-houses, usually some 
persons in each house did seem to be religious. 
Though our administration of the Lord's supper 
•was so ordered as displeased many, and the far 
greater part kept away, we had six hundred that 
"were communicants ; of whom there were not 
twelve that I had not good hopes of as to their 

In accounting for these signal and blessed effects 
of his ministry, his biographer remarks with great 
justice, that " Baxter never spoke like a man 
who was indifferent whether his audience felt what 
he said, or considered him in earnest on the sub- 
ject. His eye, his action, his every word, Avere ex- 
pressive of deep and impassioned earnestness, that 
his hearers might be saved. His was eloquence 
of the highest order ; not the eloquence of nicely 
selected words, — or the felicitous combination of 
terms and phrases, — or the music of exquisitely 
balanced periods, (though these properties are fre- 
quently to be found in Baxter's discourses,) but 
the eloquence of the most important truths, vividly 


apprehended, and energetically delivered. It was 
tlie eloquence of a soul burning with ardent devo- 
tion to God, and inspired with the deepest com- 
passion for men, on whom the powers of the 
worlds of darkness and light, exercised their 
mighty influence ; and spoke through his utteran- 
ces, all that was tremendous in Avarning, and all 
that was delightful in invitation and love. The 
gaining of souls to Christ was the only object for 
which he lived. Hence, amidst the seeming 
variety of his pursuits and engagements, there 
was a perfect harmony of design. His ruling and 
controlling principle was the love of his Master, 
producing the desire of a full and faithful dis- 
charge of his duty, as his approved minister. 
This was the centre around which every thing 
moved, and by which every thing in his circum- 
stances and character was attracted or repelled. 
This gave unity to all his plans, and constituted 
the moral force of all his actions. 

Baxter died December 8, 1691. He left the 
world in joyful assurance of entering into the 

f saint's everlasting rest. During his sickness, when 
the question was asked. How he did? his reply 
was. Almost well. 

In reviewing the life of this extraordinary man, 
we see what powerful and numerous difficulties a 
resolute mind can overcome. Baxter, during his 
whole life, might be almost said to die daily. 
/Hardly ever was such a mind connected with so 
jfrail an earthly lodging-place. He was the sport 
of medical treatment and experiment. At about 
fourteen years of age he was seized with the small- 
pox, and soon after, by improper exposure to the 
cold, he was affected by violent catarrh and cough. 


This continued for about two years, and was fol- 
lowed by spitting of blood, and other phthisical 
symptoms. One physician prescribed one mode 
of cure, and another a different one ; till, from first 
to last, he had the advice of no less than thirty-six 
professors of the healing art. He was diseased 
literally from head to feet ; his stomach acidulous, 
violent rheumatic headaches, prodigious bleeding 
at the nose, his blood so thin and acrid that it 
oozed out from the points of his fingers, and often 
kept them raw and bloody. His physicans called 
it hypochondria. He himself considered it to 
be premature old age ; so that at twenty he had 
the symptoms, in addition to disease, of four- 
score. He was certainly one of the most diseased 
and afflicted men that ever reached the ordinary 
limits of human life. How, under such circum- 
stances, he was capable of making the exertions 
which he almost incessantly made, appears not a 
little mysterious. 

Baxter lived also in one of the most stormy 
periods of English history. Men were bound, 
and in "deaths oft," for conscience sake. For 
preaching the truth, as they honestly believed it) 
be, no less than two thousand ministers were, on\ 
one occiision, ejected from their pulpits. Civil) 
wars raged with fearful violence, and many werel 
the men whose hands were imbrued in fraternal! 
blood. Baxter was in all these tumultuous scenes ; 
now in the army of the Protector, now showing 
his dexterity in logical warfare before councils 
and synods, now in prison, and now in his pulpit 
at Kidderminster. In short, he lived at the time 
of Selden, and Milton, and Hampden, and Pym, 
— at the time of the breaking up of the dark ages, 


after old systems were overthrown, and when all 
was in contusion and uncertainty. 

Notwithstanding all this, his labors were pro- 
digious. The works of bishop Hall amount to. ten 
volumes, octavo, Lightfoot's extend to thirteen, 
Jeremy Taylor's to fifteen. Dr. Goodwin's to twen- 
ty, Dr. Owen's to twenty-eight; while Richard 
Baxter's worlvs, if printed in a uniform edition, 
could not be comprised in less than sixty volumes, 
making at least thirty-five thousand closely printed 
octavo pages. At the same time, his labors as a 
minister, and his engagements in the public busi- 
ness of his times, formed his chief employment 
for many years, so that he speaks of writing but 
as a kind of recreation from more severe duties. 
The subjects on which he wrote embrace the 
whole range of theology ; in all the parts of Avhich 
he seems to have been nearly equally at home. 
Doctrinal, practical, casuistical and polemical, all 
occupied his thoughts and engaged his pen. 

" His inquiries ranged, and his writings ex- 
tended from the profoundest and most abstruse 
speculation on the divine decrees, the constitution 
of man, and the origin of evil, to the simplest 
truths adapted to the infant mind. Baxter ap- 
pears to have read every thing relating to his 
own profession, and to have remembered all 
wliich he read. The fathers and schoolmen, the 
doctors and reformers of all ages and countries, 
seem to have been as familiar to him as his native 
tongue. He rarely makes a parade of his knowl- 
edge, but he never fails to convince you that he 
was well acquainted with most which had been 
written on the subjects which he discusses." 


This celebrated agriculturist was a younger 
son of the Rev. Arthur Young, D. D., prebendary 
of Canterbuiy, and was born on the seventeenth of 
March, 17il, at Bradfield Hall, Suffolk, England. 
Dr. Young, not being able to provide very liber- 
ally for his younger children, designed Arthur for 
trade, and accordingly apprenticed him to a wine- 
merchant at Lynn, in Norfolk ; but the lad having 
evinced an early attachment to agricultural pur- 
suits, on his father's death, in 1761, returned home, 
and managed the farm at Bradfield, for the benefit 
of his widowed mother and her family. He left 
his maternal roof in 1767, having during his five 
years' farming kept a register of his experiments, 
which formed the basis of his " Course of Experi- 
mental Agriculture," published anonymously in 
1770, and which was well received by practical 
farmers, though it was rather too highly colored. 

On quitting home, he hired a farm in Essex, but 
after six months' trial he was obliged to relinquish 
it for want of funds. He at last fixed himself neai* 
North Minns, in Hertfordshire, where he continu- 
ed for about nine years, repeating his experiments 
on lands not very favorable to them, and, like 
many other ingenious speculatists, losing his 
money nearly as often as he made the attempt. 
So warmly, however, was he attached to his fa- 
vorite pursuits, that he determined to promote 
and recommend them by his pen, and before he 


had completed his thirtieth year published several 
works for the improvement of agriculture, particu- 
larly his " Farmer's Letters," " Rural Economy," 
and " Tours through the Southern, Northern and 
Eastern paiis of England," all of them replete 
with useful information. During his visit to the 
north of England, an opportunity was aiforded 
him of rendering essential service to a most extra- 
ordinary self-taught agriculturist in humble life, a 
miner, at Swinton, named James Crofts, who, by 
the almost incredible devotion of twenty hours a 
day to haVd labor, had, with his own hands, re- 
claimed ten acres of moor-land, on which he kept 
three milch cows, an heifer, and a galloway. To 
encourage such a rare instance of industry and 
application in the lower orders, Mr. Young set on 
foot a subscription for the benefit of this humble 
but most valuable member of society, the produce 
of which freed him from his subterranean em- 
ployment, and enabled him to direct his attention 
exclusively to the improvement of waste lands, an 
occupation for which he had, under every possible 
disadvantage, evinced an extraordinary adaptation 
of untutored genius. 

The tour of Mr. Young occupied six months ; 
the information and incidents of which were col- 
lected and published in four octavo volumes. He 
soon after printed an " Essay on Swine," to which 
the gold medal of the Society for the Encourage- 
ment of Arts was awarded. In 1770, he gave to 
the world a very valuable treatise, called " The 
Farmer's Guide in hiring and stocking farms," 
and so indefatigably did he pursue his favorite 
object, that in the summer of 1770 he made a tour 
through the eastern counties of England, in con- 


tinuance of his plan, imperfectly as he had then 
formed it, of an agricultural survey of England. 
The observations made during this journey were 
published «i May, 177 J, and it is no small proof 
of their author's industry, that they were printed 
as soon as in the course of the year 1770 (half 
of which, at least, was spent in travelling) and 
of the spring of 1771. In this short period he 
must have Ibund time to print and publish his 
" Farmer's Guide," in two volumes, octavo, his 
" Eastern Tour," in four, " Rural Economy," in 
one, a second volume of the " Farmer's Letters," 
and a " Course of Experimental Agriculture," 
in two volumes, quarto, besides superintending 
through the press the second edition of his 
" Northern Tour," in four volumes, octavo. With 
so much to do in so short a space of time, what 
wonder that Mr. Young should not have perform- 
ed everything which he undertook equally well ? 
He wrote his books too fast, and was too prone to 
substitute speculations for facts. 

After the death of his mother, he entered on 
the possession of the family estate, which he con- 
tinued to cultivate durihg the remainder of his 
life. In addition to the works which have been 
named, he wrote a very sensible pamphlet on the 
expediency of a free exportation of corn, propo- 
sals to the Legislature for numbering the people, 
observations on the present state of the waste 
lands of the kingdom, an essay on the culture of 
cole-seed for feeding sheep and cattle, for which 
the gold medal of the Society for the encourage- 
ment of Arts was, for the second time, awarded 
him, and a political arithmetic. His reputation 
Avas soon widely spread abroad. By order of the 


empress Catharine, his agricultural tours were 
translated into the Russian language. At the 
same time she sent several young Russians to 
the author to learn the system of" English ag- 
riculture under his immediate superintendence. 
Prince Potemkin speedily sent two others, and 
his example was soon followed by the marquis 
de Lafayette. 

Mr. Young's tour through Ireland, published in 
1780, and which contains a mass of valuable facts 
and observations, is characterized by Maria Edge- 
worth " as the most faithful portrait of the inhabi- 
tants of Ireland, to whom it rendered essential 
service, by giving to other nations, and more 
especially to the English, a more correct notion 
than they had hitherto entertained of their char- 
acter, customs and manners." 

In 1784, this indefatigable writer commenced 
his " Annals of Agriculture," a periodical publi- 
cation, continued monthly, until the close of his 
life, when it amounted to forty-five octavo vol- 
umes, forming a rich collection of facts, essays 
and communications on every question of agri- 
culture and political economy. For a long time, 
however, this work was more laborious than suc- 
cessful, doing little if anything beyond paying its 
expenses, and averaging, when the fifteenth vol- 
ume was completed, a sale of only three hundred 
and fifty copies of each number. This want of 
patronage, the disadvantage of a provincial press, 
misunderstandings with one publisher, the failure 
of another, £350 in the editor's debt, and a variety 
of untoward accidents, not unfrequently falling 
to the lot of authors and editors, considerably 
damped Mr. Young's expectations from a work to 


■which he had looked for posthumous reputation. 
But that reputation was not so long delayed ; and 
with it the sale of his work and consequently its 
profits gradually increased. For the information 
contained in this truly valuable miscellany, he 
had the honor of receiving the approbation and 
personal thanks of George III. when he one day 
met Mr. Young on the terrace at Windsor. So 
deep an interest did the venerable monarch take 
in the success of a work, of whose merit no one 
was more competent to judge, that he shortly after 
sent its editor some communications in the form 
of letters, which were inserted in the annals under 
the signature of Ralph Robinson. 

In 1787, 1788, and 1789, Mr. Young performed 
three tours in France, and published the result of 
his observations in two quarto volumes, Avhich 
were favorably received. As a proof of his en- 
ergy, it is stated that he performed his second 
journey on the back of a horse wall-eyed and well 
nigh blind, without surtout or saddlebags, and met, 
as might be expected from such an equipment for 
a three months' trip, with several adventures not 
unworthy the knight-errantry of Hudibras or Don 
Quixote to perform, or the genius of Cervantes or 
Butler to celebrate. 

On the formation of the Agricultural Board, 
Mr. Young became its secretary, and performed 
the duties of his office till his death with great 
zeal and fidelity. lie continued from time to 
time to survey several of the counties of England, 
of which surveys he published detailed reports. 
To his very last days his attachment to his early 
pursuits continued ; and at the time of his death 
he was preparing for the press the result of his 


agricultural experiments and observations during 
a period of fifty years. 

Ml'. Young was a man of strong understanding, 
of a vigorous mind, and of warm feelings ; a most 
diligent student, yet disposed to think for himself. 
He was extremely temperate in his habits, ardent 
and indefatigable in his pursuits, and diligent and 
laborious in a degi'ee seldom equalled. Through 
the whole course of his life he was a very early 
riser, and continued this practice even after blind- 
ness made him dependent on others for the prose- 
cution of his studies. His firmness was great ; 
but to a man of sanguine disposition, the continual 
obstruction to his pursuits produced by a want of 
sight, (a calamity which afflicted him after 1811 
till his death,) could scarcely have been borne 
with patience, had it not been for the influences 
of religion, whose benign operation was never 
more triumphantly displayed. 

A most important change in his principles and 
character took place in the year 1797, when the 
death of his youngest daughter, to whom he had 
been most tenderly attached, first led him to apply 
to that only true source of consolation over which 
the world has no power. During the former 
fifty-six years of his life, while most subjects of 
importance had, at one time or other engaged his 
attention, the most important of all, religion, had 
scarcely occupied a thought. He was not indeed 
an avowed skeptic, but his mind was so unin- 
structed and his heart so unconcerned in all that 
respected religion, that, as he used often after- 
wards to declare and deeply to lament, he was 
little better than a heathen. The diligence Avith 
which he thenceforth discharged his official duties, 


prosecuted his studies, and continued his favorite 
pursuits, was however in no degree abated, but 
the motive was wholly changed. He was now 
actuated by a desire to please God, and by a wish 
in his fear to do good to men. A very large pro- 
portion of his property was devoted to the relief of 
the distressed ; the poor peasantry around his estate 
ever looked up to him as a father and a friend. 
To enable him to give more to the poor, he lived 
with simplicity and moderation, without ostenta- 
tion, though with much hospitality : no man having 
a warmer heart towards his friends or giving theray 
a kindlier welcome at his cheerful board. His 
early opposition to the slave-trade evinced that 
he was a friend to the whole brotherhood of man. 
He died on the twentieth of February, 1820. 
The disease which terminated his mortal exis- 
tence Avas an extremely painful one ; but, in the 
most excruciating bodily agony, his patience and 
resignation were exemplarily manifested. 


Charles G. Haines was born at Canterbury, 
in tlie State of New Hampshire, about the year 
1793. His father was a respectable farmer, in 
humble circumstances, but endowed with a vigor- 
ous mind. His energetic habits of thought 
doubtless exerted great influence on the ^lind of 
his son, by calling its powers into activity at an 
early age, and thus, in some measure, compensated 
for the absence of those opportunities of education, 
which the limited means of the family put beyond 
their reach. Charles passed the years of his boy- 
hood in his father's house, laboring on the farm 
in the summer, and attending the village school 
in the winter. It is probable that this mode of 
life did not please him, and that a restless spirit 
induced him to seek some other employment 
of a less humble character. About the age 
of fourteen years, he obtained the situation of a 
clerk in the office of Cob Philip Carrigain, at 
that time secretary of the State of New Hamp- 
shire. While a mere copyist in the office of 
this gentleman, his desire to be distinguished in 
every occupation in which he was engaged, show- 
ed itself in the acquisition of a beautiful hand- 
writing — an attainment upon which no intelligent 
man will place a low estimate. On the appoint- 
ment of Col. Carrigain to prepare a map of the 
State, and his consequent resignation of his office 
of secretary, young Haines, partly by his own 


exertions, and partly by the assistance of his 
friends, prepared himself for college, and was 
admitted to the institution in Middlebury, Ver- 
mont, in 1812. He passed through the usual 
course with credit, and in 1816, received the 
degx'ee of Bachelor of Arts. In consequence of 
unremitted application, his health had become 
feeble, and he was induced to undertake a journey 
on horseback. On this occasion, he first visited 
the city of New York. He continued his journey 
as far as Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania. He re- 
turned to Vermont, in much better health, and 
commenced the study of law in the office of the 
Hon. Horatio Seymour, of Middlebury. He also 
engaged in the task of assisting in the editorship 
of one of the principal political journals of the 
State, probably from want of other means of 
subsistence. In 1818, Mr. Haines removed to 
the city of New York, and entered the law office 
of Pierre C. Van Wyck, Esq. He soon took 
an active part in the local politics of the State, 
and was appointed private secretary to Governor 
Clinton. Yet so great was his address, or so 
happy his disposition, that he was beloved by all 
parties for his generous feelings and polite deport- 
ment. During the first year of his residence in 
New York, Mr. Haines produced a pamphlet, in 
which he took an elaborate review of the proba- 
ble expense and advantages of the great western 
canal. Soon after he produced a larger work on 
the same subject, in which he displays great 
research and industry. After this he secluded 
himself almost entirely from society, and applied 
himself closely to professional studies. Few men 
labor more assiduously than Mr. Haines did for 


three years after his admission to the bar, and 
until attacked by the disease which proved fatal 
to him. Besides attending to his business as a 
lawyer, he uniformly devoted three hours in a day 
to reading law, and spent his nights, till a very 
late hour, in the study of history and political 
science. It was his habit to make copious abstracts 
of the books which he read, to which he added 
numerous notes of his own. He was not an 
exact, practical lawyer. While he was familiar 
with the general doctrines of the law, he devoted 
his earnest attention to questions involving the 
principles of our federal and state constitutions. 
It was therefore in the courts of the United 
States, where all the important doctrines regard- 
ing our national compact are agitated and deter- 
mined, that Mr. Haines desired to appear. His 
studies had a constant tendency to this object. 
Among his manuscripts, there is a minute analysis 
of the " Federalist," besides several volumes 
filled with quotations, and occasionally with com- 
plete abstracts of works on kindred subjects. 
The first question in which he was concerned 
before the Supreme Court of the United States, 
was one involving the constitutionality of the state 
bankrupt laws. On its decision depended the 
fortune of thousands of individuals, and the title 
to millions of property. Mr. Henry Clay and 
Mr. David B. Ogden, were his senior counsel, 
and Mr. Webster and Mr. Wheaton were the 
opposing counsel. The impression made by 
Haines on his learned auditors was favorable. 
The argument for the constitutionality of the 
State bankrupt Liavs was the fruit of long and 
laborious preparation. It was afterwards printed, 


and does great credit to his industry, learning, 
and good sense. His legal talents were never 
fully tested. His early education had been hur- 
ried and deficient. His powers of thought had 
never been tasked by rigorous trains of mathe- 
matical and metaphysical reasoning. His mind 
had never been disciplined to that severity and 
exactness of thought, which go to form a truly 
able lawyer. Yet his mental processes were just, 
rapid, and vigorous, and even when competing 
with men of the highest legal attainments, his 
previous diligent preparation, made him always 
respectable. Mr. Haines was frequently called 
upon to address public assemblies upon various 
topics which for the moment interested the com- 
munity. He freely lent his aid to the various 
institutions of charity and reform, giving to them 
liberally his time, his money, and his labor. In 
general, he wi-ote out the substance of his intended 
speech at length. As the views which he took of 
his subject were large, his efforts of this kind 
never disappointed public expectation, and were 
frequently honorable to his talents, as well as to 
his good feelings. Among the topics of this 
nature, on which he wrote and spoke with effect, 
were " Pauperism," and the " Penitentiary sys- 
tem." His useful exertions for the cause of 
humanity in relation to these subjects will long 
be remembered with gratitude. 

In the political struggles of the State, Mr. 
Haines was very active. In 1825, Governor 
Clinton nominated him adjutant general of the 
militia of the State, an office which he did not 
live to assume. The labors, in which he was 
engaged, were too severe for his physical strength. 


Intense study and continued sedentary habits were 
gradually making fatal inroads upon a constitution 
originally good, and Avhich had been sustained thus 
far by a life of the strictest temperance. His 
friends often warned him against the effects of mid- 
night study and neglect of exercise, but he used to 
reply that he did not require any relaxation. 
Their feare were too soon realized. He lingered 
till the third of July, 1825, when he expired at 
the age of thirty-two years. His funei-al took 
place on the sixth of July, and was attended by 
an immense concourse of citizens. 

" His devotion to politics," remarks liis biogra- 
pher, " was almost a passion, and if talent may 
be estimated by success, he was well adapted for 
political life. Certain it is, that he seized with 
uncommon tact upon those circumstances which 
industry and zeal could render favorable ; and, as 
he conciliated every man whom he approached, 
he accomplished as much by his personal influ- 
ence, as by his writings. There was, besides, in 
iim an enthusiasm, which believed nothing impos- 
sible ; and to such an one, obstacles are toys, and 
victory a pastime. More than all, and united 
with all, he possessed an indefatigable systematic 
industry, the great secret of all acquisitions. 
Those who have the originality to conceive great 
designs, ai'C not found, in general, to possess the 
practical talent of developing their utility, and 
carrying them into execution. Mr. Haines had 
the sagacity to seize on the best conceptions of 
other men, the diligence to gather important facts 
and circumstances in their support, and the 
activity and energy to turn them to practical 


Mr. Haines is a remarkable instance of what 
the unaided efforts of one man may accomplish. 
He came to the city of New York, a poor and 
friendless stranger, and in the short space of 
seven years, he surrounded hhnself with numer- 
ous and valuable friends, acquired considerable 
I'eputation as a scholar, a politician, and a writer, 
and rose to one of the highest offices in the gift 
of the State government. His social and private 
character was exemplary, though his constitntional 
ai'dor sometimes triumphed over his judgment. 


Carsten NiEBURn was born on the 17th of 
March, 1733, in Hadeln, then belonging to the 
province of Friesland, Denmai'k, but since united 
with the kingdom of Hanover, Germany. He 
/lost his mother before he was six Aveeks old. He 
I grew up under the care of a step-mother in his 
' father's house, where his way of life and employ- 
ments, as well as his education, were those com- 
mon to the peasant boys of his country. It was, 
probably owing to his own eager desire for 
knowledge that his father was induced, only with 
a view of his being somewhat better instructed than 
a common peasant, to send him to the grammar 
school in Otterndorf, whence he afterwards went to 
that at Altenbruch. But the removal of the school- 
master of the place, and the prejudices of the 
guardians, (for his father had died in the interval,) 
put an end to his school-studies before he had 
gone far enough to have them sufficiently impres- 
sed on his memory, to be of any sei'vice to him, 
when he afterwards resumed them. The division 
of his father's property between the surviving 
children had left him, instead of the farm which 
had been so long the hereditary possession of the 
family, only a very small capital, quite inadequate 
to the purchase of any land for himself; and 
necessity would have led him to acquire knowl- 
edge, as a means of subsistence, even if he had 
been of a character to endure to live without 

IS iue 
er he\ 
i void/ 
aly be / 


education, and without employment. He was 
obliged, however, to content himself with such 
accomplishments as were attainable without school- 
learning ; he, therefore, for a year, pursued music 
with great zeal, and learaed to play on several 
instruments with a view to earn his living as an 
organist. As this employment, likewise, did not 
meet the approbotion of his guardians, his mater- 
nal uncle took him home to his own house, where 
be passed about four years, during which his life 
was once more that of a peasant. The older heN 
grew, however, the less could he endure the 
and dulness of this way of life, which can only 
relieved, either, as in old times, by a share in the^ 
general deliberation on the affairs of the com- 
munity, and by cheerfulness and merriment, or, 
as is the case with the English farmer, by a 
participation in the advantages of education and 
literary amusement. He felt an irresistible im- 
pulse to learn, to employ himself, and to render 
himself generally useful. 

The providential circumstances which deter- 
mine the course of life of distinguished men, 
deserve to be remembered. In the highest degree 
providential was that which gave to Kiebuhr the 
direction which he thenceforth followed, until it 
led him to become one of the most eminent 
travellers of modern times. A law suit had arisen 
concerning tlie superficial contents of a farm, 
which could only be decided by measurement, and 
as there was no land surveyor in Hadeln, the 
parties were obliged to send for one to another 
place. Niebuhr felt for the honor of his native^ 
district with all the warmth of old times, and this I 
occurrence appeared to him disgraceful to it. He 


could now fulfil a duty towards his country by 
learning the neglected art, wliich at the same 
time furnished him with an occupation and an 
object such as he desired. Learning that instruc- 
tion in practical geometry was to be had in 
Bremen, he immediately, on arriving at age, 
repaired to that city. This plan was frustrated ; 
the teacher upon whom he depended was dead ; 
but he did not disdain the instruction of a humble 
practitioner of the art. He, however, would be 
obliged to lodge and board in his house, and here 
the bashful, strictly decorous, and self-distrustkig 
young peasant, found two town-bred young ladies, 
sisters of his intended teacher, whose attentions 
appeared to him so singular that he quickly took 
his departure. He now turned his eyes towards 
Hamburgh, but there he was destined again to 
experience disappointment, and to have his per- 
severance put to the test. 

He had passed his two and twentieth year when 
he went to Hamburg to avail himself of Sue- 
cow's instructions in mathematics, and, without 
any false shame on account of his age, to begin 
his school-studies anew, his income Avas not suffi- 
cient to maintain him even with that rigid economy 
which was natural to him. He determined, how- 
ever, to spend just so much of his small capital 
as would enable him to accomplish his end. He 
arrived at Hamburgh in the summer of the year, 
1755. But just at this time, Succow was called 
to Jena ; the mathematical chair was not filled till 
Busch was appointed to it. The severest applica- 
tion to private instruction was, therefore, neces- 
sary to make the lessons at the gymnasium (or 
public school) intelligible or profitable to him. A 


countryman of his, named Witke, who, at that 
time, lived at Hamburgh as candidate for holy 
orders, and who afterwards died at Otterndorf, 
where he was pastor, gave him this private 
instruction with true cordiality and friendship. 
Niebuhr always spoke of him as the person who 
laid the foundation of his education, and, as such, 
honored and loved him with sincere affection. 
Notwithstanding his uncommon exertions, and the 
strength of his body and mind, twenty months 
(eight of which were passed in nearly preparatory 
studies, for the Latin tongue was almost entirely 
unknown to him) were quite insufficient for one, 
who began to learn so late in life, to acquire that 
amount of knowledge which more favored youths 
bring with them to the university. Among other 
things thus unavoidably neglected was Greek, of 
which he always lamented the want. Under 
Busch he had begun to learn mathematics. He 
was the earliest and most distinguished of all his 
pupils, and in subsequent life, became his most 
intimate friend. To stop in the middle of any 
undertaking was thoroughly repugnant to his 
whole character. He had gone to Hamburgh 
solely with a view to acquire a knowledge of 
geometry, and of some things commonly taught 
in the schools ; but as soon as he had become 
acquainted with the sciences, he could not rest till 
he was able to embrace them in all their extent 
and depth. In the spi-ing of 1757, he repaired 
to Gottingen, The mathematics contiaued to be 
his favorite study. He was now more than ever 
compelled, by the diminution of his little sub- 
stance, to aim at some employment by which he 
could maintain himself, and to which his studies 


would lead. This he now looked to in the Han- 
overian engineer corps, in which (as was the case 
in nearly the whole military service of" Germany) 
men of efficient mathematical attainments wei'e 
extremely rare. There he might hope to obtain 
by merit a competent support. He studied with 
the steadiness which a fixed, simple, and prudent 
plan of life ensures, from the spring of 1757 for 
more than a year, undisturbed by the war which 
frequently raged around Gottingen. At tliis time 
he I'ecoUected that an endowment, or fund for 
exhibitions, existed at this university, and begged 
his friend to ascertain whether it was only for 
poor students in the strict sense of the term, or 
whether it was endowed without that limitation, 
" as a means of persevering in the study of some- 
thing useful and important. In this case alone 
could he allow himself to apply for it." He 
received it and appropriated it entirely to the 
purchase of instruments. 

At this period Frederick the Fifth reigned in 
Denmark in enviable tranquility. .Louis the 
Fourteenth's memory still shone throughout Eu- 
i^ope, with all that false glitter which liad hung 
around his name during his life, and he was Avell 
known to be the model after which the ministers 
of the Danish monarch endeavored, as far as it 
was compatible with the character of a peaceful 
king, to form their sovereign. Seldom, however, 
have the aims of ministers been less liable to 
reproach than were those of the then baron J. H. 
E. Bernstorf; and among all the statesmen of 
the continent, there was not, perhaps, one of his 
time so Avell informed, so noble minded, and so 
intelligent. The extraordinary and beneficent 


qualities and endowments of the second count 
Bernstorf will be remembered by a grateful 
nation, since what he effected remains indestruc- 
tible, and forms the sole basis for future reforms 
and improvements. Posterity will perhaps men- 
tion, as among the noblest actions of his uncle, 
J. H. E. Bernstorf, the emancipation of his serfs, 
or tlie slaves of the soil ; the leisure which he 
insured to Klopstock, and the scientific expedition 
which he sent into Arabia. This enterprise was 
originally owing to Michaelis, who(had represented 
to the minister of state that many elucidations of 
the Old Testament might be obtained by personal 
observation and inquiry in Arabia, which might 
be regarded as hitherto untrodden by European 
feet. The original idea in the mind of the author 
extended no farther than this ; that a single trav- 
eller, an oriental scholar out of his own school, 
should be sent by way of India to Yemen ; a 
plan which would then have caused the under- 
taking to end in nothing, even supposing the 
traveller ever to have found his way back. Hap- 
pily Bernstorf immediately perceived the defect- 
iveness of the plan, and replied to it by a proposal 
to render the mission far more extensive in objects 
and outfit. As Bernstorf took up the project 
with all the vivacity and liberality for which he 
was so remarkable, and fully empowered Mich- 
aelis to propose an oriental scholar to him, it 
might have been expected that Michaelis would 
have named the man Avho, among all his contem- 
poraries, was unrivalled for his knowledge of the 
Arabic language, and, as all Germany knew, was 
fighting inch by inch with starvation, — Reiske, 
— whom, moreover, Michaelis had known from 


the time he was at school. But instead of Reiske, 
he recommmended a pupil of his own, Von Haven, 
whose acquirements must, at that time, have been 
those of a mere school-boy, since a two years' 
residence at Eome, (whither he went to prepare 
himself under the Maronites,) and even the jour- 
ney itself, never raised him above the meanest 
mediocrity. Michaelis was also commissioned by 
Bernstorf to propose the mathematicians and 
natural historians. For the choice of these men, 
Michaelis applied to Kastner, one of the Gottin- 
gen Society of Sciences, of Avhich he was then 
director. A student of Hanover, Bolzing, at first 
accepted the proposal, but after a short time with- 
drew his promise. Kastner next proposed Nie- 
buhr. One day in the summer of 1758, on his 
way from a meeting of the Society, to which he 
had just proposed Niebuhr, he walked into his 
room. " Have you a mind to go to Arabia ? " said 
he. " Why not, if any body will pay my ex- 
penses," answered Niebiihr, whom nothing bound 
to his home, and who had an unbounded desire 
for seeing the world. " The King of Denmark," 
replied Kastner, " will pay your expenses." He 
then explained the project and its origin. Nie- 
buhr's resolution was taken in a moment, so far 
as his own inclination was concerned. But as he 
thouglit very humbly of himself, and most rever- 
entially of science and of the truly instructed, he 
despaired of his own ability and power of being 
useful. On this head, however, Kastner set him 
at ease by the promise of a long term of prepara- 
tion, which he might employ chiefly under Mayer, 
in astronomy, and by the assurance that, with his 
determined industry and perseverance, the allotted 


time would be fully sufficient. The same evening 
Niebuhr, who wanted nothing to fix his resolution 
but ]Mayer's promise to instruct him in astronomy, 
called on the philosopher. Mayer, who was not 
so sanguine a man as Kastner, cautioned him 
against a determination which, with his character, 
■would be irrevocable, while he knew not the dan- 
gers and fatigues which he was about to brave. 
He, however, pi'omised the desired instruction. 
Michaelis, whom he visited the following day, 
probably saw that there was levity and precipita- 
tion in so prompt a resolution, and pressed upon 
him to delay a week to reconsider the matter. It 
passed, but Niebuhr did not trouble himself with 
any further deliberation on a subject upon which 
his mind was already thoroughly resolved, and 
Michaelis now regarded the engagement as defini- 
tively accepted. His conditions were a year 
and a half for preparation ; and during this 
period, the same salary as Von Haven received. 
Bernstorf assented to this arrangement without 
the slightest hesitation. Niebuhr now lived solely 
for his object. He pursued his studies in pure 
mathematics, perfected himself in drawing, and 
sought to acquire such historical information as 
was attainable with that degree of learning which' 
he had so lately and so imperfectly acquired, with- 
out neglecting his more immediate objects. He 
cultivated practical mechanics, with a view of 
acquiring greater dexterity in handling his instru- 
ments, and in various manual operations, the 
acquii'ement and practice of which in Europe, 
except for those whose business they are, is but a 
waste of time. His attention was, however, prin- 
cipally occupied by the private lessons of Mieh- 


aelis in the Arabic language, and of Mayer in 
astronomy. These he remembered Avith very 
different feelings. For the grammatical study of 
languages in general he had but little talent or 
inclination. At the end of a few months he gave 
up this course of instruction. 

Tobias Mayer was undoubtedly one of the first 
astronomors and mathematicians of his time. 
The results of his labors consist principally of a 
catalogue of 992 stars, and his famous lunar 
and solar tables. His valuable theory of the 
moon, and the laborious calculation of these tables, 
together with the invention of Hadley's quadrant, 
in 1731, enabled Maskelyne to bring into general 
use the method of discovering the longitude by 
obsei'ving the distance of the moon from the sun, 
and certain fixed stars, called the lunar method. 
Mayer's zeal for teaching his pupil was as great 
as Niebuhr's for learning of him. Among all the 
men of whom he became acquainted in the course 
of his long life, there was none whom he so loved 
and honored as Mayer ; and the most intimate 
friendship subsisted between them. He retained 
an ardent attachment to Mayer's memory up to 
the most advanced age, and he hardly ever 
received from Providence any greater gratification 
than that of hearing that his fix'st lunar observa- 
tions reached his beloved teacher on his death-bed, 
before consciousness had left him, and had cheered 
and animated his last moments ; and that these 
observations had decided the giving the English 
premium, offered for the discovery of the longi- 
tude, to the widow of the man to whom he felt 
that he was indebted for his acquirements in this 
branch of science. Mayer, on his part, had no 


more earnest solicitude than to educate a pupil 
who would apply his method of determining the 
longitude, and his, at that time, unprinted lunar 
tables, of which Niebuhr made a copy. Mayer 
interested himself in the outfit of Niebuhr's jour- 
ney, so entirely as if it had been his own personal 
ailair, that he divided his quadrants with his own 
hands. The accuracy of this labor of friendship 
was proved by the observations which were made 
with it. About the time of commencing his jour- 
ney, Niebuhr was appointed lieutenant of engi- 
neers ; a circumstance which only deserves notice 
for the sake of a letter which places his modesty 
and judgment in the most amiable light. " He 
was," as he wrote to a friend, " led to think of a 
title for himself, by Von Haven's appointment to 
a professorship in the university of Copenhagen. 
A similar one had been offered to him, but he 
held himself unworthy of it. The one which he 
had received appeared to him more suitable. 
He might have had that of captain, if he had 
asked for it ; but that, for a young man, would 
have been too much. As a lieutenant, it would 
be highly creditable to him to make valuable 
observations ; but as professor, he should feel it 
disgraceful not to have sufficiently explored the 
depths of mathematical science." He had at that 
time no other plan than that of living in his na- 
tive country, after the accomplishment of his 
mission, on the pension which was assigned to him. 
The party consisted of Von Haven, already 
mentioned ; Forskaal, in many respects, eminently 
qualified for the undertaking; Cramer, a physi- 
cian, a most unfortunate choice ; Bauernfeind, a 
di'aughtsman, a respectable artist, but intemper- 


ate ; and Niebuhr. On the lOth.of March, 1761, 
the travellers left the Elsineur roads for the Medi- 
terranean. The voyage was a pleasant one to 
Niebuhr. He endeavored to make himself ac- 
quainted with the construction of the ship, and 
he exercised himself daily in nautical and astro- 
nomical observations, M'hich procured him the 
satisfaction of being regarded by the officers as 
an active and useful member of their company. 
Mayer, in the instructions which he gave to Nie- 
buhr, had constantly kept in view that his pupil 
would be placed in situations in which it would be 
absolutely necessary for him to be able to rely 
upon himself, and where he could not hope for 
the slightest assistance or support. He had taught 
him entirely himself, and encouraged him with 
the assurance that an active and clear-sighted 
man is generally able to discover means to over- 
come the obstacles which may oppose him. His 
method of teaching, which was entirely practical, 
was chiefly this : he first described to his pupil 
the object of the observation and the method of 
using the insti-uments ; he then left him without 
any assistance, to try how far he could proceed in 
his observation and calculation, and desired him 
to tell him when he came to any insurmountable 
difficulty. He was obliged to describe exactly 
how far he had gone on well, and where his pro- 
gress had been stopped, and then Mayer assisted 

A stay of some weeks at Marseilles, and of a 
shorter time at Malta, procured a very agreeable 
recreation to the party. The scientific enterprize 
was known throughout Europe, and we should 
find it difficult now to picture to ourselves the 


universal interest in its success which ensured to 
the travellers the most cordial reception and the 
most respectful attentions. It was an enterprize 
consonant with the spirit of the times, and in no 
manner solitary or strange. Asia was become an 
object of interest to Europeans from the war 
which the two great maritime powers were then 
waging in India. England began to send out 
ships to circumnavigate the globe. It was just 
that period of general satisfaction and delight in 
science and literature in which mankind believed 
that they had found the road that must inevitably 
lead to rapid advances in knowledge and improve- 
ments ; men of letters enjoyed great considera- 
tion ; and the interest of science and its followers 
were generally regarded as among the most im- 
portant in which mankind could be engaged. 

From Malta the expedition proceeded to the 
Dardanelles. In the ArcMpelago, Niebuhr was 
attacked with the dysentery, and was near dying. 
He recovered his health at Constantinople, but so 
slowly that at the expiration of two montlis from 
the beginning of his illness he had scarcely made 
sufficient progress to go on board a vessel bound 
for Alexandria without manifest danger. In 
Egypt, the party remained a Avhole year, in which 
time Niebuhr, in company with Von Haven and 
Forskaal, visited Mount Sinai. During their stay 
in Egypt, Niebuhr determined the longitude of 
Alexandria, Kheira, Easchid, and Damietta, by 
means of numerous' lunar observations, Avith an 
accuracy which the astronomers of Bonaparte's 
expedition, to their great surprise, found •fully 
equal to their own. The following is the descrip- 
tion of the outfit of himself and his companions 


for their expedition to Mount Sinai. " We had 
made careful provision for every thing which we 
thought necessary for the journey before us. We 
had abundance of eatables, a tent, and beds. 
Most of the utensils carried on expeditions in these 
countries, have been described and drawn by other 
travellers ; and indeed some of them are so con- 
venient, that they might be introduced into Euro- 
pean armies with signal advantage. Our little 
kitchen apparatus was of copper, Avell tinned in- 
side and outside. Our butter we carried in a sort 
of pitcher, made of thick leather. Table cloths 
we did not want. A large round piece of leather 
was our table. This had iron rings attached to 
its edge, through which a cord was passed. After 
dinner it was drawn up, slung over a camel, and 
thus served the double office of a table and a bag. 
Our coffee cups (saucers Ave had none) were car- 
ried in a wooden box covered with leather, and 
wax candles in a similar box, enclosed in a leath- 
ern bag. In the lid of this box was a tube, 
which was our candlestick. Salt, pepper, and 
spice, we also kept in a little wooden box, with 
several lids screwed one over another. Instead 
of glasses we had little copper cups, beauti- 
fully tinned within and without. Our lanterns 
were of linen, and could be folded together like 
the little paper lanterns which children make in 
Europe, only that ours had covers and bottoms 
of iron. Each of us was furnished with a 
water pitcher of thick leather, out of Avhich we 
drank ; and as we sometimes found no water for 
two OT three days, we carried a good many goat 
skins filled with it. We also took two large stone 
water jars with us, that we might be able to 


carry water ourselves on the journey from Suez 
to Djidda. Our wine we kept in large glass 
flasks, each holding twenty of our bottles. Thee 
vessels appeared to us the best for the purpose ; 
but Avhen a camel falls, or runs against another 
with his load, they easily break, and therefore goat 
skins are better for the purpose. The hides 
which are used to contain water, have the hair on 
the outside ; but those for wine have it on the 
inside, and are so well pitched, that the liquor 
acquires no bad taste." 

In this journey, Niebuhr made astronomical 
and geographical observations as often as possible. 
Out of these laborious investigations grew the 
chart of the Red sea, which, considering the cir- 
cumstances under which it was made, was a mas- 
terly work. Von Haven died about the end of 
May, 1763. Niebuhr was again attacked by 
dysentery, and was saved only by the greatest 
care and temperance. The climate and numerous 
annoyances which Forskaal had partly brought 
upon himself, and partly aggravated through his 
caprice, brought on a bilious disorder, of which he 
died at Jerim, on the 11th of July, 1763. Mokha, 
situated in the arid desert of Tehama, is, during 
summer, a horrible residence, and but few days 
elapsed before the surviving travellers and their 
servant were attacked with the fever of the cli- 
mate. Bauernfeind and the servant died at sea. 
Cramer reached Bombay, languished for some 
months, and died. Niehhur tvas saved hy that 
extreme abstemiousness which renders a tropical 
climate as little dangerous to the Europeans as to 
natives. While he was laboring under the dysen- 
tery, the physcian had told him to abstain from 


meat, and to eat nothing but bread and a sort of 
rice soup. This regimen cured his ilhiess. At 
the end of several weeks, the physician learned 
with astonishment, that Niebuhr was patiently 
continuing a diet by means of which few Euro- 
peans could be induced to purchase their lives, 
even Avhen laboring under dangerous illness. The 
reception which Niebuhr met with from the Eng- 
lish at Bombay, was extremly cordiah In Egypt 
he had first learned to delight in the society of 
Englishmen ; and there was laid the foundation 
for that mutual attachment which ever after con- 
tinued uninterrupted. There he learned the 
English language. lie also made a copy of his 
journal, and sent it through London to Denmark. 
After a stay of fourteen months he left Bombay, 
visited Mascat, and made himself acquainted with 
the state of the remarkable province of Oman. 
He then proceeded to Shiraz and Persepolis. 
The last night of his journey to Persepolis was 
perfectly sleepless. The picture of these ruins 
remained during his whole life indelibly engraven 
on his mind. They appeared to him the crown 
and glory of all whicli he had seen. He passed 
between three and four weeks amidst them in the 
desert, in unremitting labor, measuring and draw- 
ing the fragments. From Shiraz he crossed the 
Persian gulf to Bassora. In Persia he collected 
historical documents concerning the fate of this 
unfortunate country, from the death of Nadir 
Shah up to his own times. From Bassora he 
proceeded through Bagdad and Mosul to Ilaleb. 
He was now perfectly at home ; since he had been 
alone, he had been at liberty to conform, without 
molestation, to oriental manners and customs. 


He was also in as good health as at any period 
of his life. An opportunity of going to Jaffa 
tempted him to visit Palestine. After that, he 
explored Lesser Asia, and reached Constantinople, 
on the 20th of February, 1767. A/ter having 
spent five months in that city, he passed over 
Turkey in Europe to Poland, and in November 
reached Copenhagen. He was received by the 
court, by the ministers, and by the men of science, 
with the greatest distinction. Bernstorf, particu- 
larly, loaded him with marks of his esteem. The 
whole expense of the expedition was but £3,780 
sterling. It would necessarily have been much 
greater had not Niebuhr been the sole survivor 
for nearly the whole of the last four years ; but 
although the sources of expense were thus greatly 
diminished, they were still more so by his scrupu- 
lous integrity ; not only in avoiding every outlay 
not essential to the object, but in paying out of his 
private pocket for every thing which could be 
regarded as a personal expense. He was now 
employed for some time in arranging his materials 
and preparing his journal for publication. He 
met in this undertaking with almost innumerable 
difficulties, owing to his want of an early literary 
education, to his extreme modesty, to the removal 
of his patron. Count Bernstorf, and to the unpro- 
voked hostility of some of the literati of the 
country. In 1773, he was married to a daughter 
of the physician, Blumenberg. They had two 
children, a daughter, and B. G. Niebuhr, the 
illustrious author of the most learned and valu- 
able history of Rome which has been written. 

Niebuhr soon took up his abode at Meldorf, 
having had the office of secretary of the district 


given to him by the government. A great part 
of his time was employed on his farm. He also 
found great satisfaction in the company of Boie, the 
governor of the district. Meanwhile, his children 
grew to an age to require instruction. This he 
gave them himself. '' He instructed both of us," 
says his son, "in geography, and related to us 
many passages of history. He taught me English 
and French ; better, at any rate, than they would 
have been taught by any one else in such a place ; 
and something of mathematics, in which he would 
have proceeded much farther, had not want of 
zeal and desire in me unfortunately destroyed aU 
his pleasure in the occupation. One thing was 
indeed characteristic of his whole system of 
teaching; as he had no idea how any one could 
have knowledge of any kind placed before him, 
and not seize it with the greatest delight and 
avidity, and hold to it with the steadiest persever- 
ance, he became disinclined to teach, whenever 
we appeared inattentive or reluctant to learn. As 
the first instructions I received in Latin, before I 
had the happiness to become a scholar of the 
learned and excellent Jiiger, were very defective, 
he helped me, and read with me Ca?sai-'s Com- 
mentaries. Here, again, the peculiar bent of his 
mind showed itself; he always called my attention 
much more strongly to the geography than to the 
history. The map of ancient Gaul by D' Anville, 
for whom he had the greatest reverence, always 
lay before us. I was obliged to look out every 
place as it occurred, and to tell its exact situation. 
His instruction had no pretension to be grammati- 
cal ; — his knowledge of the language so far as it 
went, was gained entirely by reading, and by 


looking at it as a whole. He was of opinion that 
a man did not deserve to learn what he had not 
principally worked out for himself; and that a/ 
teacher should be only a helper to assist the pupil' 
out of otherwise inexplicable difficulties. From! 
these causes his attempts to teach me Arabic, 
when he had already not that facility in speaking 
it without which it was impossible to dispense with 
grammatical instruction, to his disappointment 
and my shame, did not succeed. When I after- 
wards taught it myself, and sent him translations 
from it, he was greatly delighted. I have the 
most lively recollections of many descriptions of 
the structure of the universe, and accounts of 
eastern countries, which he used to tell me, instead 
of fairy tales, when he took me on his knee before 
I went to bed. I recollect too, that on the Christ- 
mas ev^ of my tenth year, by way of making the 
day one of peculiar solemnity and rejoicing to me, 
he went to a beautiful chest containing his manu- 1 
scripts, which was reganled by us children, and 
indeed by the whole household, as a sort of ark 1 
of the covenant, took out the papers relating to / 
Africa, and read to me from them. He had 
taught me to draw maps, and Avith his encourage- 
ment and assistance I soon produced maps of 
Habbesh and Sudan. I could not make him a 
more welcome birth-day present, than a sketch 
of the geography of eastern countries, or transla- 
tions from voyages and travels, executed as might 
be expected from a child. He had originally no 
stronger desire than that I might be his successor 
as a traveller in the East. But the influence of 
a very tender and anxious mother, upon my phy- 
sical training and constitution, thwarted his plan 


almost as soon as it was formed. In consequence 
of her opposition, my father afterwards gave up 
all thoughts of it." 

Niebuhr had the satisfaction to find that his 
merits as a traveller were more and more appre- 
ciated. His works were very popular in Eng- 
land. The crown prince of Denmark also showed 
him distinguished favor. In 1802, he was ap- 
pointed foreign member of the French National 
Institute. In his various labors he was indefati- 
gable. In his 71st and 72d years, he toiled 
through a great part of the night. Nor did his 
indefatigable zeal relax even when his eyes began 
to fail. The consequences of this night-work were 
irremediable and fatal. In a short time he could 
no longer see to read, and for writing he required 
an extraordinary quantity of light, and even then 
the lines were often intermingled. His wife, after 
many years of suffering, died in 1807. His 
daughter, and the widowed sister of his wife, who 
had lived with the family for twelve years, could 
now devote themselves wholly to render him the 
assistance of which he stood in so much need. 
Every thing was read aloud to him. The con- 
versation of Gloyer, his successor as secretary of 
the district, revived to his mind's eye many a 
faded or vanished picture of the East, and the 
books which this invaluable friend read aloud to 
him, and the circumstances, which he related, put 
him in possession of the works and statements of 
more recent travellers. This was without com- 
parison one of his highest enjoyments. " When 
I related to him," says his son, " the descriptions 
of any traveller newly returned from the East, 
or gave him in my letters any accounts of travels 


not known on the continent, his whole being ^i 
seemed reanimated, and he dictated answers, 
which showed that his mental vision was vivid 
and powerful as ever. It was still more remark- 
able that these new facts imprinted themselves on 
his mind with all the depth and sharpness with 
"which objects are stamped on a youthful memory, 
and so remained up to the time of his death. He 
combined them with what he had himself observed 
and experienced. 

" In the autumn of 1814," continues his son, 
" his appearance was calculated to leave a delight- 
ful picture in the mind. All his features, as well 
as his extinguished eyes, were the expression of 
the extreme and exhausted old age of an extraor- 
dinarily robust nature ; — it was impossible to 
behold a more venerable sight. So venerable was 
it, that a Cossack who entered, an unbidden guest, 
into the chamber where he sat with his silver 
locks uncovered, was so struck with it, that he 
manifested the greatest revei-ence for him, and a 
sincere and cordial interest for the whole house- 
hold. His sweetness of temper was unalterable, 
though he often expressed his desire to go to his 
final home, since all which he had desired to live 
for had been accomplished. A numerous, and as 
yet unbroken family circle was assembled around 
him, and every day in which he was not assailed 
by some peculiar indisposition, he conversed with 
cheerfulness and cordial enjoyment on the happy 
change which had taken place in public {vffairs. 
We found it very delightful to engage him in 
continued recitals of his travels, which he now 
related with peculiar fulness and vivacity. In 
this manner he spoke once, and in great detail, of 


PersepolJs, and described the walls on which he 
had found the inscriptions and bas-reliefs, exactlj 
as one would describe those of a building visited 
within a few days and familiarly known. We 
could not conceal our astonishment. He replied, 
that as he lay in bed, all visible objects shut out, 
the pictures of what he had beheld in the East 
continually floated before his mind's eye, so that 
it was no wonder he could speak of them as if he 
had seen them yesterday. With like vividness 
was the deep intense sky of Asia, with its brilliant 
and twinkling host of stars which he had so often 
gazed at by night, or its lofty vault of blue by 
day, reflected, in the hours of stillness and dark- 
ness, on his inmost soul ; and this was his greatest 

Towards evening, on the 26th of April, 1815, 
some one read to him as usual, while he asked 
questions which showed perfect apprehension and 
intelligence. He then sunk into a slumber and 
departed without a struggle. A concourse of 
people from all parts of the country attended his 
body to the grave. The funeral was solemnized 
with all the honors which respect and affection 
can pay. He had attained the age of eighty-two. 
He was extremely frugal. Economy had become 
a habit with him in early life. As a peasant lad 
he drank nothing but water and milk ; and at a 
later period he deviated from this simple diet, only 
in compliance with the custom of others, with 
which he every where made it a rule to conform, 
a«d he then drank an extremely small quantity 
of wine. He had no favorite dishes but the pea- 
sant fare of his native land. "At the highest 
point of elevation," says his biographer, " to 


■which he attained, favored by his prince, respected 
and admired by the learned and eminent of all 
countries, it was his pride that he was born a pea- 
sant of Free Friesland. His manners never lost 
the simplicity, nor his morals the purity of that 
singular and estimable class of men. If ever 
there lived a man who might safely and reason- 
ably be held up to the people as an object of 
imitation, it Avas Carsten Niebuhr. Not only was 
he a poor man, — an orphan, — born in a remote 
part of a remote province, far from all those facil- 
ities for acquiring knowledge, which in this age 
and country are poured out before the feet of the 
people ; he was not even gifted in any extraor- 
dinary way by nature. He was in no sense of 
the word a genius. He had no imagination. His 
power of acquiring does not seem to have been 
extraordinarily rapid, nor his memory singularly 
retentive. In all cases where the force of that 
will, at once steady and ardent, which enabled 
him to master his favorite studies, was not brought 
to bear, his progress was slow and inconsiderable. 
It is not therefore in any supposed intellectual 
advantages that we must look for the causes of 
his rise to eminence. They are to be found rather 
in the moral qualities which distinguished him, 
qualities attainable in a greater or less degree by 
men of the humblest rank, of the most lowly in- 
tellect, the least favored by situation or connection. 
He possessed, in an eminent degree, the distin- 
guishing virtues of his country, sincerity, unadul- 
terated and faithful love of truth, and honesty. 
The zeal with which he gave himself to a pursuit 
which might enable him to be useful to his native 
district ; the total absence of vanity which char- 


acterized the whole course of his studies and of 
his journeyings ; — the simplicity of his narrative, 
in which no more of himself and his individual 
feelings appears than is just necessary to keep up 
the thread of the story; — the rigorous accuracy 
and anxiety after truth for which his travels have 
ever been and still remain pre-eminently distin- 
guished among all who preceded, and all who 
have followed him on the same ground, afford 
ample evidence of the singleness and the steadi- 
ness of the motives which actuated him. The 
most punctilious honor marked his disbursement 
of the funds intrusted to his care by the Danish 
government, and he ever abstained with the 
utmost exactness from applying a farthing of this 
money to any object which could be considered 
by others, or which his own more fastidious deli- 
cacy could regard, as a personal gratification. 

" His self-command was perfect. He could 
abstain from what was agreeable, and do what 
was disagreeable to him. He was conscientious, 
sober, temperate even to abstemiousness, laborious 
and persevering ; neither discouraged nor elated 
by the incidents which he must have known were 
inseparable from the career which he had chosen." 


While the tribute of admiration is readily 
awarded to such men as Park, and Ledjard, and 
Belzoni, who have manifested an unconquerable 
perseverance and a noble enthusiasm and enlarge- 
ment of views in extending the boundaries of 
science, and geographical discovery, there is still 
another class of men worthy of more exalted honor. 
We should be among the last to dispai*age the ef- 
forts of such men as we have named. We consider 
them as benefactors of mankind ; we rejoice that 
they could break away from the call of avarice, 
from the syren voice of pleasure, and from the 
powerful attractions of home and native land, and 
spend their days in travelling through savage 
deserts, encountering the fierce suns of the tropics, 
and still fiercer men. We should rejoice to visit 
the grave of Belzoni, and remove the rubbish 
which time or the hand of the Bedouin may have 
gathered around his tomb. The names of Horne- 
mann, and Salt, and Clapperton, and Parry, are 
not to be named lightly. They accomplished very 
much for the cause of science, and indirectly for 
the moral and spiritual emancipation of our race. 
Most of them were cut down early, but they did 
not fall into an untimely, much less into a dis- 
honorable grave. Their nasaes will be mentioned 
with respect in every future age of the world. 

Notwithstanding, we are called to contemplate 
a higher species of excellence, a more noble disin- 


terestedness, a more enduring renown. Men have 
gone into all the world to do good, not to explore 
pyramids, nor to measure obelisks, nor to Match 
the changes of heavenly bodies, but to sympa- 
thize in human calamity, to give to benighted 
men the lamp of eternal life, to extend the reign 
of civilization and of the Christian faith ; not to 
Bend back polished vases, and granite statues, 
and classic fragments, but the report of nations 
saved, the joy of redeemed men. and the assured 
promise of still more glorious achievements. 
These men have not despised science and have 
not been unmindful of classic recollections. Still 
they went for a higher purpose ; they devoted 
themselves to a more self-denying work ; a nobler 
enthusiasm filled their souls, a richer treasure 
freighted their ships. They carried with them 
the hopes of heaven ; they travelled for eternity. 
Many of them fell in the first onset, but their 
ashes rest in hope, and angels guard their repose. 

Among the most honored names in this class 
of the benefactors of man, is that of Jonas King. 
In delineating a few of the incidents in his event- 
ful life, we are sure that the consideration that 
we may be advancing that cause to which he has 
devoted his days, will apologize for what in other 
circumstances might seem inconsiderate or inex- 
pedient. His name is public property; it is a 
part of his means of doing good. 

JoxAS King was born in 1793, at Hawley, a 
town in the western part of the county of Frank- 
lin, in the State of Massacluisetts. His parents 
were worthy and estimable people, but were en- 
tirely unable to assist their son to obtain the ad- 
vantages of education. It seems from the fact 


■which we are about to relate, that he was not in 
circumstances in his native town to acquire that 
common-school learning, which is the rich legacy 
of neai'ly all the children of New England. 

In December, 1807, "WlUiam H. Maynard, Esq. 
was engaged in instructing a school in Plainfield, a 
town adjacent to Hawley. One cold morning, on 
entering his school-room, Mr. Maynard observed 
a boy that he had not seen before, sitting on one 
of the benches. The lad soon made known his 
en-and to his instructor. — He was fifteen years 
old ; his parents lived seven miles distant ; he 
wanted an education, and had come from home on 
foot, that morning, to see if Mr. Maynard could 
help him contrive how to obtain it. Mr. jMaynard 
asked him if he had any acquaintances in the 
place who would assist him in acquiring an edu- 
cation. " No." " Can your parents render any 
assistance ? " " No." " Have you any friends 
who will help you?" "No." «WeU, how do 
you expect to obtain an education ? " "I do n't 
know, but I thought I would come and see you." 
Mr. Maynard told him to remain that day, and 
he would see what could be done. He discovered 
that young King was possessed of good sense, but 
of no uncommon brilliancy. He was particularly 
struck with the cool and resolute manner in which 
he undertook to conquer difficulties which would 
have intimidated common minds. In the course 
of the day, jNIr. Maynard made provision for hav- 
ing him boarded through the winter in the family 
with himself, the lad paying for his services by 
manual labor. He gave himself diligently to 
study, in which he made commendable but not 
rapid proficiency, embracing every opportunity of 


reading and conversation for obtaining knowledge ; 
and thus he spent the whiter. 

The necessary preparation for college was 
acquired, we believe, under the tuition of the 
Rev. Jeremiah Hallock, of Plainfield. To this 
gentleman's faithful care and thorough instruction, 
a large portion of the young men who have ac- 
quired a liberal education for thirty years past, in 
the western counties of Massachusetts and in the 
adjoining portions of New York and Vermont are 
greatly indebted. A majority of a number of the 
classes who have been educated at AVilliams col- 
lege, pursued their classical preparatory studies 
at Plainfield, and departed in a body to their 
collegiate residence with the truly patriarchal 
benedictions of their venerated instructor. 

After spending the usual time of four years at 
Williams college, Mr. King graduated in 1816. 
The class with which he Avas connected was high- 
ly respectable, both in numbers and talents. To 
Mr. King, at commencement, was assigned one 
of the principal appointments, — the philosophical 
oration. For means of pecuniary support, he 
was almost wholly dependent on his own vigorous 
efforts in teaching school and in other ways. By 
the recommendation of the Rev. President Moore, 
which w^as very full in regard to all points, INIr. 
King w^as admitted to the patronage of the Amer- 
ican Education Society, being the sixth on a list 
which now numbers more than fourteen hundred. 
The amount of assistance, however, which he re- 
ceived was very limited, as the resources of the 
society were, at that time, small, and his collegiate 
course tenninated soon after he received the first 


On leaving Williams college, he repaired to the 
Theological Seminary at Andover, to avail him- 
self of the invaluable opportunities which are 
there enjoyed in the study of the oriental langua- 
ges. He left the seminary after completing the 
full course in 1819. Of his classmates, six are 
missionaries and two are presidents of colleges. 
At the foundation of the new college in Amherst, 
in 1821, Mr. King was immediately named as 
professor of the oriental languages and literature. 
A part of the intervening time, between the close 
of his residence at Andover and this appointment, 
was passed in missionary labors in the southern 

Feeling his need of more ample preparation, 
to discharge the duties of his professorship, he 
concluded to visit France, and avail himself of -• 
the eminent advantages which the French capital 
holds out for oriental studies. His expenses were 
defrayed by the hands of generous private friend- 
ship. After residing some time in Paris, news 
was received of the death of the Rev. Levi Par- 
sons, a distinguished missionary of the American 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in 
Palestine. His only associate, the Rev. Pliny 
Fisk, in consequence of the bereavement, greatly 
needed a fellow-laborer, who, with a knowledge 
of Arabic and other languages, could accompany 
him in his contemplated journeys, preparatory to 
the establishment of the mission with which he 
was connected. Having received an intimation 
that Mr. King might be induced to offer his 
services for a limited period, he wrote to him 
immediately, earnestly requesting that some ar- 
rangement might be made to that effect. Mr. 


Bang immediately endeavored to ascertain the 
path of duty, and with the advice of his intimate 
and valuable friend, S. V. S. Wilder, Esq., an 
American merchant, then residing in Paris, con- 
cluded to offer his services for three years. Mr. 
Wilder generously offered one hundred dollars a 
year for the time specified, and two other gentle- 
men made liberal donations towards defraying the 
necessary expenses. In referring to the dangers 
to Avhich he might be exposed by travelling in 
unhealthy climates, and by other causes, Mr. King 
observes : " Here (at Paris,) I see around me, 
with crippled limbs and scarred bodies, men who 
risked their lives at Jena and Marengo, at Aus- 
terlitz and Waterloo, to gain a little perishable 
glory ; and shall not I risk as much in the cause 
of the Prince of Peace, who gives to all his faith- 
ful followers the high prize of immortal glory and 
joys inconceivable?" 

On Monday, September 30, 1822, Mr. King 
left Paris for Marseilles, and passed through 
Fontainbleau, Fontenay, Lyons, Nisraes, &c. We 
copy a few extracts from his very interesting 
journal. " On the first of October, awoke in the 
morning just as the twilight appeared. I had 
rode all night. WTien I fell asleep it was rainy, 
dark and cheerless ; but the rain was now past, 
and the clouds were all dispersed, except a 
light, fleecy girdle, hanging round the horizon, 
above which, in the east, the morning star seemed 
to twinkle with uncommon beauty, and in the west 
the moon, just past the full, was looking mildly 
down upon the Loire, whose waters faintly re- 
flected her light as they glided silently along at 
the foot of the elevation on which I rode. As 


daylight increased, cultivated hills, beautiful vine- 
yards, and fertile plains rose to my view, and 
presented one of the most lovely scenes I had 
ever witnessed." 

At Lyons, Mr. King remarks, " My emotions 
were indescribable. I stood on a spot where the 
Romans had once resided, where their emperors 
had lived and erected magnificent temples to their 
idols, where Hannibal and Cajsar with their con- 
quering armies had passed along, where hordes 
of Saracens had spread their desolations, and 
where Pothinus and Irenosus with nineteen thou- 
sand followers took their flight to glory amid the 
flames of persecution. I followed them, in my 
imagination, through their last conflict, till I saw 
them bowing before the throne of God and joining 
in ascriptions of praise to the Lamb that was 

On the 28th of October, while sailing out of 
the harbor of Marseilles, Mr. King exclaims : " I 
could not but feel some emotions on leaving a 
country where I had spent one of the most inter- 
esting years of my life. Land of science and of 
sin, of gaiety and pleasure, I bid thee farewell! 
The sun shines brightly on thy beautiful fields, 
the mild gales breathe softly on ^hy enchanting 
hills ; and along the borders of thy streams, in the 
midst of vines and olives, lie scattered the cottages 
of peasants and the mansions of nobles. Thou 
hast within *thy bosom all that can gratify genius, 
and taste, and sense. Oh, when sliall the spirit of 
Massillon rest upon thy priests ! When shall the 
light of millenial glory dawn upon thy population ! 
"With fervent prayers for thy prosperity, I bid 
thee farewell!" 


On the second of November, Mr. King reached 
Malta, and was warmly Avelcomed by the mission- 
aries, Messrs. Fisk and Temple. On the 10th 
of January, 1823, Mr. King, in company with 
Messrs. Fisk and Wolff, reached Alexandi'ia, in 
Egypt. In this city they were actively employed 
about ten days, when tlaey departed for Rosetta 
and Cairo. In the course of their travels through 
this land of signs and wonders, they took occasion 
to visit many specimens of ancient art and science. 
In describing the antiquities of Grornon, near the 
hundred-gated Thebes, the travellers remark : 
" The principal room in the tomb visited by Bel- 
zoni, Avas fifty feet by thirty. Here, when the 
tomb was opened, was a sarcophagus of alabaster, 
which has been removed to London, and is now 
in the museum. Adjoining this is a room thirty 
feet square, on three sides of which is a projection 
which forms a kind of table. All the walls of the 
rooms and of the passages are covered with hiero- 
glyphics of the finest kind. In one place are 
portrayed priests, dressed in white, handling ser- 
pents ; in another, persons offering sacrifices ; in a 
third, a company of prisoners ; in a fourth, dead 
bodies, &c. All these apartments are cut out of 
the solid rock. How much labor to prepare a 
tomb for one man ! " 

After visiting many other interesting spots, the 
travellers returned to Cairo. The time which 
they spent in Egypt was about three months. In 
connection with Mr. Wolff, they preached the gos- 
pel in English, French, German, Italian, Greek, 
Hebrew and Arabic, distributed about nine hun- 
dred copies of the Bible, or parts of it, in twelve 
languages, and nearly three thousand tracts. 


On the seventh of April, 1823, Mr. King, after 
suffering severely from the scorching winds of 
the desert and from the want of water, reached 
the "promised land." "We extract a few para- 
graphs in regard to the journey. 

"After some refreshment we took a Persian 
Testament and Genesis in Arabic and went to 
Hadgi Mohammed, the dervish. We sat down 
with him on his blanket spread on the sand, with 
the sun beating on our heads, and then showed 
him our books. He reads well in Persian and 
Arabic. Of the other dervishes not one knows 
how to read. While we were reading with him, 
most of the dervishes and several Turks and 
Armenians gathered around and listened. Mo- 
hammed read in Genesis, and said that it was 
very good. Another Turk then took it, and read 
that God rested on the seventh day, and remarked 
angrily that it was infidelity to say that God rested. 
Mr. Wolff tried to explain, but to no purpose, till 
he said he had given such a book to the Mufti of 
Jerusalem, who said it was good. This argument 
silenced him at once. We gave the book of Gen- 
esis to Mohammed. While we were sitting with 
him, Elias, the Maronite, began to beat his mother, 
because she did not cook his victuals as he wished. 
Mr. Wolff went to him and reproved him severely 
for such conduct. The Turks said, tauntingly, 
* He is a Christian.' We were glad they heard 
Mr. Wolff's admonition, in which he showed them 
how inconsistent his behaviour was with the spirit 
of the gospel. The unnatural man at length 
relented, and went to his mother and kissed her 
hand in token of acknowledgment. Towards even- 
ing, two Turks had a dispute, which finally led to 


blows. Hadgi Ibrahim interfered, and by loud 
words and a few blows settled the quarrel. After 
this, the dervish Mustapha became very angry 
with his ass, and, like Balaam, fell to beating him, 
and concluded by calling him a Jew 1 " 

On the 14th of INIarch, the travellers experien- 
ced a strong scorching wind from the south east- 
The air seemed as if it issued from the mouth of 
an oven. Many of the Arabs bound a handker- 
chief over their mouths and noses, as a defence 
against it. The thermometer in their tent was at 
99°. The wind sometimes blew the sand over 
the hills like snow in a storm. 

About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 2.5th of 
April, they "stood within the gates of Jerusalem." 
" The scenes and events of four thousand years," 
say they, "rushed upon our minds; events in 
which Heaven, and Earth, and Hell, had felt the 
deepest interest. This was the place selected by 
the Almighty for his dwelling, and here his glory 
was rendered visible. This was the perfection of 
beauty and the glory of all lands. Here David 
sat and tuned his harp, and sung the praises of 
Jehovah. Hither the tribes came up to worship. 
Here enraptured prophets saw bright visions of 
the world above, and received messages from on 
high for guilty man. Here our Lord and Saviour 
came in the form of a servant, and groaned, and 
wept, and poured out his soul unto death, for the 
redemption of man." 

While resident in this country, Mr. King visited 
the principal towns, and objects of curiosity in 
Palestine, resided, some time, for the purpose of 
acquiring Arabic, at a monastery on Mount Leba- 
non, and performed various tours in the surround- 
ing regions of Syria, and the ancient Phoenicia. 


On the 26th of September, 1825, three years 
after leaving Paris, Mr. King finally departed 
from the Holy Land, proceeded to Tarsus, the 
birth-place of Paul, and from thence travelled by 
land to Smyrna, where he arrived on the 23d of 
December, eighty-nine days after leaving his 
brethren in Syria. At Smyrna he remained till 
the loth of June, 1826, in the study of modem 
Greek, and then passed by land to the sea of 
Marmora, and across that sea to Constantinople. 
" While in this city," Mr. King remarks, " I 
viewed the place from the tower of Pera. The 
prospect is enchanting. Hills and valleys covered 
with the habitations of 600,000 souls ; the mighty 
domes and lofty minarets of mosques ; the palace 
of the sultan, encircled with gardens, beautiful as 
Eden ; the waters of the Bosphorus, and the sea 
of Marmora, dividing the continent of Europe 
and Asia, and whitene(? with sails ; and lofty 
mountains, among which is Olympus, with ever- 
lasting snows upon his hoary head ; all combine 
to present a view, perhaps unequalled for beauty 
and grandeur, in any part of the world." 

While in Syria, Mr. King published a Fare- 
well Letter, having special reference to the 
Armenian population. This letter being transla- 
ted into Turkish, with considerable additions, by 
Mr. Goodell, found its way to Constantinople, and 
produced a very great excitement among the 
hundred thousand Armenians in that capital. 

Mr. King returned by water to Smyrna, in 
July. In August he went on board the United 
States' ship Erie, bound to Mahon, in Minorca, 
and touched at Tripoli and Algiers in Africa, on 
his way to that port. From thence he proceeded 


to Spain, France, and England, making some stay 
in the two latter countries. 

To provide for the wants of the Armenian 
population, Mr. King secured donations in France 
and England, to the amount of about eight hund- 
red dollars, with which he purchased fonts of 
Armenian and Arabic types. Among the con- 
tributors were some of the most distinguished 
benefactors and philanthi'opists of the age. A 
printing press, for the Armenian language, was 
forwarded to Malta about the same time. 

Mr. King arrived in his native country on the 
4th of September, 1827. During six or eight 
months subsequent, he was employed on agencies, 
in the northern and middle States, in behalf of 
the missionary cause. Having been invited by a 
number of friends, to proceed to Greece in one of 
the vessels which was to carry out supplies to the 
afflicted inhabitants of that country, he resigned 
his professorship of the Oriental languages in 
Amherst college, and early in June, 1828, em- 
barked at New York, for Greece. He arrived at 
Pares on the 26th of July, and was cordially wel- 
comed by the Greek government. He soon after 
resumed his connection with the American Board, 
and ever since has been actively engaged, chiefly 
at Athens, in establishing schools, in circulating 
the Scriptures, school books, and tracts, and dif- 
fusing, in various ways the principles of knowl- 
edge and Christianity. For several years he had 
under his control a high school at Athens, which 
at one time contained nearly two hundred schol- 
ars ; and his influence on the schools and the 
education of Greece has been great and salutary. 
The Greek national education is more traly reli- 


gious, more effective in developing moral senti- 
ments and a real independence of thought, than 
it would have been but for Mr. King ; and the 
national mind of that people has received, through 
his labors, several fundamental ideas, which must 
exert great influence upon the future develop- 
ments of that mind. 

It is believed that Greece must ultimately be 
blessed with religious liberty, notwithstanding the 
apparent tendency of things has of late years been 
the other way. Education has gradually been 
brought under an ecclesiastical influence adverse 
to its freedom in matters of religion. The Greek 
Catechism having been forced into the schools, 
Mr. King was obliged to retire from all immediate 
connection with them. The ecclesiastical influ- 
ence was strikingly apparent in the Constitution 
adopted by the Greeks in the year 1844, which 
forbids proselyting, and has subjected Mr. King 
to the trial of persecution for righteousness' sake. 

Soon after the adoption of the Constitution, Mr. 
King was charged in the newspapers at Athens, 
with an attempt at proselytism ; and the charge 
was soon followed by the allegation, that he had 
uttered impious and injurious language respecting 
the Virgin Mary. Sir. King prepared and pub- 
lished a small volume, defending himself from the 
charge, by quoting at considerable length the sen- 
timents of Epiphanius, Chrysostom, Clemens, and 
others, names held in the highest esteem by the 
Greeks, and showing that their belief accorded 
with his own. This volume he sent to the most 
distinguished men in the Greek nation, civil and 
ecclesiastical, and it made a strong impression. 
Several persons of distinction gave their voice in 


its favor. The Greek Synod, however, denounced 
the book, and demanded of the government his 
prosecution for proselytism. The book was also 
denounced by the " Great Church " at Constan- 
tinople. Soon after, he was assaulted by a fanati- 
cal Greek in the streets of Athens, with the intent 
to do him injury, if not to take his life, but a 
soldier interfered and delivered him. 

The case came to a trial in the civil courts, 
first, whether the charges against him were open 
to a legal pi'osecution. It was carried at length 
to the Areopagus, in April, 1846. He tlms wrote 
in May ; — 

" My two lawyers, Paul Calligas and Spyridon 
Triantaphylles, spoke well. After th^em I asked 
permission of the President of the court, Mr. 
Clonaris, to speak. He replied, you have your 
lawyers. But, said I, I have a word also. Say 
on, said he. So I commenced and continued to 
speak for fifteen or twenty minutes, in- the midst 
of repeated interruptions on the part of the Presi- 
dent, who finally, just as I had reached the sub- 
ject of images, silenced me altogether. Seeing 
that it was impossible for me to proceed any fur- 
ther, without exposing myself to be put under 
arrest, I ceased. And I have since thought that 
it was providential, in order to save me from 
the ill treatment which I might have received, 
had I finished all I had to say on the subject of 
images and transubstantiation. 

" I am told that the most distinguished lawyers 
of Athens, who were present at my trial, have 
expressed their opinion that there is no cause of 
accusation against me. 

" Yesterday the decision of the court of the 


Areopagus was given against me. So now I 
must be tried before the criminal court, where all 
thieves and robbers and murderers are tried. "^ 
shall be tried, I suppose, by a jury ; but what jury 
will have independence enough to declare me 
innocent, after the Holy Synod has declared me 
guilty of blasphemy, and after three courts have 
found cause of complaint against me ? 

" My trial is to be at Syra, July 22, just one 
year from the time I began to distribute the little 
book called my ' Defence.' If I am condemned, 
I suppose I shall on that day, be imprisoned at 
Syra. My two lawyers, Paul Calligas and Spy- 
ridon Triantaphylles, will be there to plead 
my cause ; which, I believe, they have conscien- 
tiously undertaken to defend. Their pleas before 
the Areopagus, already published, have produced 
and are producing, a happy influence in my favor, 
as I have reason to believe. And not only did 
they come out boldly before the Areopagus, but 
in private circles they plead my cause, I believe, 
and have done much to convince many persons 
that it is just. At Syra they will probably enter 
into the subject of my trial much more theologi- 
cally than they could before the Areopagus ; for 
this tribunal is confined principally to the right 
application of the law, but does not enter into the 
subject, to determine whether the person accused 
is guilty, or not, of the charge brought against 
him. Should the jury decide in my favor, and 
against the Holy Synod, it will be wonderful, and 
will have great influence, I doubt not, in opening 
the eyes of many to see the real situation of this 

" A judge here, and representative of the na- 


tion, said to my wife, day before yesterday, that 
he thought I might be in great danger at Syra, 
when I go there to be tried ; that the people 
might arise and stone me ; and that it would be 
better to have the case put off, if I could, for a 
while, &c. But I trust the Lord, who has thus 
far protected me, will protect me to the end. My 
duty is clear ; and that is, to go to Syra and take 
what comes. I have not been wholly without 
apprehensions as to what may befall me there ; 
still I do not feel very anxious with regard to it. 
The hand of the Lord has appeared to be so 
manifest in all this affair, from the commencement 
to the present time, that I feel that I shall live, 
and in some way or other gain the victory." 

The result of this prosecution is not known 
when this edition goes to the press. 

The degree of Doctor in Divinity has -been 
conferred on Mr. King 'by one of the colleges of 
New England. 

We close this brief memoir with a letter from 
Mr. King, as honorable to his feelings as it was 
gratifying to the gentlemen connected with the 
Society to whom it was addressed. 

« Tenos, {Greece,) '21th May, 1830. 
"In the year of 1816, as near as I recollect, 
just as I was about finishing my collegiate studies, 
I received from the American Education Society 
a donation of fifty dollai's ; and though it was not 
expected, as I suppose, by the Society, that I 
should ever refund that sura, and though, since 
the refunding system has been adopted, it is the 
custom of the Society, as I am informed, vfith 
regard to that system, to make an exception in 

JOlfAS KING. 289 

favor of missionaries, still I am happy to return 
the above mentioned sum, with the interest, 
which, by this time nearly equals the principal ; 
and I therefore send you one hundred dollars, 
which I wish you to accept as payment for the 
fifty dollars which I received about fourteen years 
ago. It is not long, since I have had it in my 
power to remit this sum, which I hope may be 
the means of aiding some one more worthy than 



Humphrey Davy was born at Penzance, in 
Cornwall, England, in 1778. His father followed 
the profession of a carver in wood, in that town, 
where many of his performances are still to be 
seen in the houses of the inhabitants. All that 
we are told of Davy's school education is, that he 
was taught the rudiments of classical learning at 
a seminary in Truro. He was then placed by 
his father, with an apothecary and surgeon in his 
native place ; but instead of attending to his pro- 
fession, he spent his time either in rambling about 
the country or in experimenting in his master's 
garret, sometimes to the no small danger of the 
whole establishment. The physician and Davy 
at last agreed to part. 

When rather more than fourteen years old, he 
was placed as pupil with another surgeon residing 
in Penzance ; but it does not appear that his sec- 
ond master had much more success than his first, 
in attempting to give him a liking for the medical 
profession. The future philosopher, however, had 
already begun to devote himself, of his own accord, 
to those sciences in which he afterwards so greatly 
distinguished himself; and proceeding upon a plan 
of study which he had laid down for himself, he 
had, by the time he was eighteen years old, ob- 
tained a thorough knowledge of the rudiments of 
natural philosophy and chemistry, as well as made 
some proficiency in botany, anatomy and geome- 


try. The subject of metaphysics, it is stated, was 
also embraced in his reading at this period. 

But chemistry was the science to wliich, of all 
others, he gave himself with the greatest ardor ; 
and, even in this early stage of his researches, he 
seems to have looked forward to reputation from 
his labors in this department. " How often," said 
he, in the latter period of his life, " have I wan- 
dered about those rocks in search after new mine- 
rals, and when tired sat down upon those crags,, 
and exercised my fancy in anticipations of future 
renown." The peculiar features of this part of 
the country doubtless contributed not a little to 
give his genius the direction it took. The mine* 
ral riches concealed under the soil formed alone a 
world of curious investigation. The rocky coast 
presented a geological structure of inexhaustible 
interest. Even the various productions cast 
ashore by the sea were continually affording new 
materials of examination to his inquisitive and 
reflecting mind. The flrst original experiment, it 
is related, in which he engaged, had for its object 
to ascertain the nature of the air contained in the 
bladders of sea-weed. At this time he had no 
other laboratory than what he contrived to furnish 
for himself, by the assistance .of his master's vials 
and gallipots, the pots and pans used in the kitchen, 
and such other utensils as accident threw in his 
way. These he converted with great ingenuity 
to his own purposes. On one occasion, however, 
he accounted himself particularly fortunate in a 
prize which he made. This was a case of surgical 
instruments with which he was presented by tlie 
surgeon of a French vessel that had been wrecked 
on the coast, to whom he had done some kind 


offices. Examining his treasure with eagerness, 
Davy soon perceived the valuable aid he might 
derive in his philosophical experiments from some 
of the articles. One of the principal of them was, 
in no long time, converted into a tolerable air- 
pump. The proper use of the instruments was, 
of course, as little thought of by their new posses- 
sor as that of his master's gallipots which he was 
wont to carry up to his garret. Davy's subse- 
quent success as an experimentalist, was owing 
in no small degree to the necessity he was placed 
under, in his earlier researches, of exercising his 
skill and ingenuity in this manner. " Had he," 
remarks his biographer, "been supplied, in the 
commencement of his career, with all those ap- 
pliances, which he enjoyed at a later period, it is 
more than probable that he might have never ac- 
quired that wonderful tact of n.anipulation, that 
ability of suggesting expedients, and of contriving 
apparatus so as to meet and surmount the difficul- 
ties, which must constantly arise during the pro- 
gress of the philosoj)her tlirough the unbeaten 
tracks and unexplored regions of science. In this 
art, Davy certainly stands unrivalled ; and, like 
his pi'ototype, Scheele, he was unquestionably in- 
debted for his address to the circumstances which 
have been alluded to. There was never, perhaps, 
a more striking exemplification of the adage, that 
'necessity is the parent of invention.'" 

Davy first pursued his chemical studies without 
teacher or guide, in the manner which has been 
described, and aided only by the most scanty and 
rude apparatus. When still a lad, however, he 
was fortunate in becoming acquainted with Mr. 
Gregory Watt, son of the celebrated James Watt. 


This gentleman having come to reside at Penzance 
for the benefit of his health, lodged at Mrs. Davy's, 
and soon discovered the talent of her son. The 
scientific knowledge of Mr. AVatt gave an accurate 
direction to the studies of the young chemist, and 
excited him to a systematic perseverance in his 
favorite pursuit. He was also providentially in- 
troduced to the notice of Mr. Davies Gilbert, since 
president of the Royal Society. 

The boy, we are told, was leaning on the gate 
of his father's house, when INIi-. Gilbert passed, 
accompanied by some friends, one of whom re- 
marked, that there was young Davy, who was so 
much attached to chemistry. The mention of 
chemistry immediately fixed Mr. Gilbert's atten- 
tion ; he entered into conversation with the young 
man, and becoming speedily convinced of his ex- 
traordinary talents and acquirements, offered him 
the use of his library, and whatever other assist- 
ance he might require in the pursuit of his studies. 
Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Watt, soon after this, intro- 
duced Davy to the celebi'ated Dr. Beddoes, who 
had just established at Bristol what he called his 
Pneumatic Institution for investigating the medical 
properties of the different gases. Davy, who was 
now in his nineteenth year, had for some time 
been thinking of proceeding to Edinburgh, in 
order to pursue a regular course of medical edu- 
cation ; but Dr. Beddoes, who had been greatly 
struck by different proofs which he had given of 
his talents, and especially by an essay in which 
he propounded an original theory of light and 
heat, having offered him the superintendence of 
his new institution, he at once accepted the invi- 
tation. "The young philosopher," remarks a 


biographer, " was now fairly entered on his proper 
path, and from this period we may consider him 
as having escaped from tlie disadvantages of his 
early lot. But it was while he was yet poor and 
unknown, that he made those acquirements which 
both obtained for him the notice of his efficient 
patrons, and fitted him for the situation in which 
they placed him. His having attracted the atten- 
tion of Mr. Gilbert, as he stood at his father's 
gate, may be called a happy incident in the provi- 
dence of God ; but it was one that never would 
have happened had it not been for the proficiency 
he had already made in science by his own en- 
deavors. He had this opportunity of emerging 
from obscurity ; but had he not previously labored 
in the cultivation of his mind, it Avould have been 
no opportunity at all." 

The experiments conducted by Davy, and under 
his direction, at the Bristol institution, were soon 
rewarded by important results ; and of these Davy, 
when he had just completed his twenty-first year, 
published an account, under the title of "Re- 
searches, chemical and philosophical, chiefly con- 
cerning nitrous oxide, and its respiration." In 
this publication, the singularly intoxicating effects 
produced by the breathing of nitrous oxide, were 
first announced. This annunciation excited con- 
siderable sensation in the scientific world, and at 
once made Davy generally known as a most in- 
genious and philosophic experimentalist. He was, 
in consequence, soon after its appearance, invited 
to fill the chemical chair of the Royal Institution, 
then newly established. 

When he commenced his lectures, he was 
scarcely twenty-two years of age ; but never 


was success in such an undertaking more marked 
and gratifying. He soon saw his lecture-rooms 
crowded, day after day, by all that was most dis- 
tinguished in the rank and intellect of the metrop- 
olis ; and his striking and beautiful elucidations of 
every subject that came under his review, riveted 
often to breathlessness the attention of his splendid 
auditory. The year after his appointment to this 
situation he was elected professor of chemistry to 
the Board of Agriculture ; and he greatly distin- 
guished himself by the lectures which, for ten 
successive sessions, he delivered in this character. 
They were published in 1813, at the request of 
the Board. 

In 1806, he was chosen to deliver the Bakerian 
lecture before that Society, and he performed the 
same task for several successive years. Many of 
his most brilliant discoveries Avere announced in 
these discourses. In 1812, he received the honor 
of knighthood from the prince regent, being the 
first person on whom his royal highness conferred 
that dignity. Two days after, he married a lady 
of considerable fortune. In 1813, he was elected 
a corresponding member of the French Institute. 
He was created a baronet in 1818. In 1820, he 
was chosen a foreign associate of the Royal Acad- 
emy of Sciences at Paris, on the death of the 
illustrious Watt. He had been for some time 
secretary of the Royal Society ; and on the death 
of Sir Joseph Banks, in 1820, he was, by an 
unanimous vote, raised to the presidency of that 
learned body, — an office which he held till he 
was obliged to retire on account of ill health, in 
1827, when his friend and first patron, Mr. Davies 
Gilbert, was chosen to succeed him. Little, we 


may suppose, did either of the two anticipate, when 
they first met, thirty years before, at the gate of 
Mrs. Davy, that they would thus stand succes- 
sively, and in this order, at the head of the 
most distinguished scientific association in Eng- 

The fii'st memoir by Davy, which was read be- 
fore the Royal Society, was presented by him in 
1801. It announced a new theory, which is now 
generally received, of the galvanic influence, or 
the extraordinary effect produced by two metals 
in contact with each other, when applied to the 
muscle even of a dead animal, which the Italian 
professor, Galvani, had discovered. It was sup- 
posed, both by Galvani and his countryman Volta, 
— who also distinguished himself in the investiga- 
tion of this curious subject, — that the effect in 
question was an electrical phenomenon, whence 
galvanism used to be called animal electricity ; but 
Davy showed, by many ingenious experiments, that, 
in order to effect it, the metals in fact underwent 
certain chemical changes. Indeed, he proved that 
the effect followed when only one metal was em- 
ployed, provided the requisite change was by any 
means brought about on it, as, for example, by 
the interposition, between two plates of it, of a 
fluid calculated to act upon its surface in a certain 
manner. In his Bakerian lecture for 1806, he 
carried the examination of this subject to a much 
greater length, and astonished the scientific world 
by the announcement of a multitude of the most 
extraordinary results, from the application of the 
galvanic energy to the composition and decompo- 
sition of various chemical substances. From these 
experiments he arrived at the conclusion, that the 


power called chemical affinity was in truth identi-^ 
cal with that of electricity. Hence the creation i 
of a new science, now commonly known by thef 
name of electro-chemistry, being that which re- 
gards the supposed action of electricity in the 
production of chemical changes. The discourse, 
in which these discoveries were unfolded, was 
crowned by the French Institute with their first 
prize, by a decision which reflects immortal honor 
upon that illustrious body ; who thus forgot not 
only all feelings of mutual jealousy, but even the 
peculiar and extraordinary hostility produced by 
the war which then raged between the two coun- 
tries, in their admiration of genius and their zeal 
for the interests of philosophy. 

In the interesting and extraordinary nature of 
its announcements, the Bakerian lecture of 1807 
was as splendid a production as that of the former 
year. There are certain substances, as tiie reader", 
is aware, known in chemistry by the name ofC 
alkalies, of which potash and soda are the principal.i 
These substances chemists had, hitherto in vain, 
exhausted their ingenuity and the resources of 
their art in endeavoring to decompose. The only 
substance possessing alkaline properties, the com- 
position of which had been ascertained, was 
ammonia, which is a gas, and is therefore called a 
volatile alkali ; and this having been found to be 
a compound of certain proportions of hydrogen 
and nitrogen, an opinion generally prevailed that 
hydrogen would be found to be also a chief ingre- 
dient of the fixed alkalies. Davy determined, if 
possible, to ascertain this point, and engaged in 
the investigation with great hopes of success, from 
the surpassing powers of decomposition which he 


had found to belong to his new agent, the galvanic 
influence. The manner in which he pursued this 
subject is among the most interesting specimens 
of scientific investigation on record. 

One of the most important of the laws of gal- 
vanic decomposition, which he had previously 
discovered, was, that when any substance was 
subjected to this species of action, its oxygen (an 
ingredient which nearly all substances contain) 
was developed at what is called the positive end 
or pole of the cui'rent of electricity, while, when- 
ever any hydrogen or inflammable matter Avas 
present, it uniformly appeai'ed at the opposite or 
negative pole. Proceeding upon this principle, 
therefore, Davy commenced his work with a fixed 
alkali ; and at first submitted it, dissolved in water, 
to the galvanic action. The result, however, was, 
that the water alone was decomposed, nothing 
being disengaged by the experiment but oxygen 
and hydrogen, the ingredients of that fluid, which 
passed off as usual, the former at the positive, the 
latter at the negative pole. In his subsequent 
experiments, therefore, Davy proceeded without 
water, employing potash in a state of fusion ; and 
having guarded the process from every other dis- 
turbing cause that presented itself, by a variety 
of ingenious arrangements, he had at last the sat- 
isfaction of seeing the oxygen gas develojied, as 
before, at the positively electrified surface of the 
alkali, while, at the same time, on the other side, 
small globules of matter were disengaged, having 
all the appearances of a metal. The long agitated 
question was now determined ; the base of the 
fixed alkalies was clearly metallic. To ascertain 
the qualities of the metallic residue which he had 


thus obtained from the potash, was Davy's next 
object. From its great attraction for oxygen, it 
almost immediately, when exposed to the atmos- 
phere, became an alkali again, by uniting with 
that ingredient ; and, at fii-st, it seemed on this ac- 
count hardly possible to obtain a sufficient quantity 
of it for examination. But at last Davy thought 
of pouring over it a thin coating of the mineral 
fluid called naptha, which both preserved it from 
communication with the air, and, being transpar- 
ent, allowed it to be examined. 

But there was another course of investigation, 
into which this philosopher entered, which resulted 
in a practical discovery of high importance. This 
was the contrivance of the safety-lamp. In coal- 
mines, frequent explosions had been caused by 
the fire-damp, or inflammable gas, which is found 
in many parts of them. By a series of experi- 
ments, Davy found that this dangerous gas, which 
was known to be nothing more than the hydrogen 
of the chemists, had its explosive tendencies very 
much restrained by being mixed with a small 
quantity of cai-bonic acid and nitrogen (the ingre- 
dients whicli along with oxygen form atmospheric 
air ;) and that, moreover, if it did explode, when 
so mixed, the explosion would not pass through 
apertures less than one seventh of an inch in 
diameter. Proceeding therefore upon these as- 
certained facts, he contrived his safety-lamp. It 
consists of a small light fixed in a cylindrical ves- 
sel, which is everywhere air-tight except in the 
bottom, and which is formed of fine wire-gauze, 
and in the upper part there is a chimney for carry- 
ing off" the foul air. The air admitted through 
the gauze sufiices to keep up the flame, which in 


its combustion produces enough of carbonic acid 
and nitrogen to prevent the lire-damp, when in- 
flamed within the cylinder, from communicating the 
explosion to that which is without. The heretofore 
destructive element, thus caught and detained, is 
therefore not only rendered harmless, but actually 
itself helps to furnish the miner with light, the 
whole of the interior of the cylinder being filled 
with a steady green flame, arising from the com- 
bustion of the hydrogen, which has been admitted 
in contact with the heat, but cannot carry back the 
inflammation it has received to the general volume 
without. Armed with this admirable protection, 
therefore, the miner advances without risk, and 
with sufficient light to enable him to work, into 
recesses which formerly he would not have dared 
to enter. The safety-lamp has already been the 
means of saving many lives, and has enabled ex- 
tensive mines or portions of mines to be wrought, 
which, but for its assistance, must have remained 
unproductive. The coal-owners of the northern 
districts, in 1817, invited Sir Humphrey Davy to 
a public dinner, and presented him with a service 
of plate of the value of £2,000, in testimony of 
what they felt to be the merit of this inven- 

"The transformations of chemistry," remarks 
Mr. John F. W. Herschel, " by which we are 
enabled to convert the most apparently useless 
materials into important objects in the arts, are 
opening up to us every day sources of wealth and 
convenience, of which former ages had no idea, 
and which have been pure gifts of science to man. 
Every department of art has felt their influence, 
and new instances are continually occurring of the 


unlimited resources which this wonderful science 
develops in the most sterile parts of nature. Not 
to mention the impulse which its progress has 
given to a host of other sciences, what strange 
and unexpected results has it not brought to light 
ill its application to some of the most common 
objects ! Who, for instance, would have conceived 
that linen rags were capable of producing more 
than their own weight of sugar, by the simple 
agency of one of the cheapest and most abundant 
acids ? — that dry bones could be a magazine of 
nutriment, capable of preservation for years, and 
ready to yield up their sustenance in the form best 
adapted to the support of life, on the application of 
that powerful agent, steam, which enters so largely 
into all our processes, or of an acid at once cheap 
and durable ? — that saw-dust is susceptible of con- 
version into a substance bearing no remote analogy 
to bread ; and though certainly less palatable than 
that of flour, yet in no way disagreeable, and is 
both wholesome and digestible, as well as highly 
nutritive? What economy in all processes where 
chemical agents are employed, is introduced by the 
exact knowledge of the proportions in which natu- 
ral elements unite, and their mutual powers of 
displacing each other ! What perfection in all the 
arts where fire is employed, either in its more 
violent applications (as, for instance, in the smelt- 
ing of metals by the introduction of well-adapted 
fluxes, whereby we obtain the whole product of 
the ore in its purest state), or in its milder forms, 
as in sugar-refining, the whole modern practice 
of which depends on a curious and delicate remark 
of a late eminent scientific chemist on the nice ad- 
justment of temperature at which the crystalliza- 


tion of syrup takes place ; and a thousand other 
arts, which it would be tedious to mention." 

We have not space to enumerate many other 
splendid discoveries of this great philosopher. In 
1827, his health had become so poor, that he 
found it necessary to seek relaxation from his 
engagements, and accordingly resigned the presi- 
^dency of the Royal Society. Immediately after 
this he proceeded to the continent. During his 
absence from England, he still continued his 
chemical researches, the results of which he com- 
municated in several papers to the Royal Society. 
He also, notwithstanding his increasing weakness 
and sufferings, employed his leisure in literary 
compositions on other subjects, an evidence of 
which appeared in his " Salmonia," a treatise on 
fly-fishing, which he published in 1828. This 
little book is full of just and pleasing descriptions 
of some of the phenomena of nature, and is imbued 
with an amiable and contented spirit. His active 
mind, indeed, continued, as it would seem, to exert 
itself to the last, almost with as unwearied ardor 
as ever. Besides the volume which we have just 
mentioned, another work, entitled "The Last 
Days of a Philosopher," which he also wrote 
during this period, has been given to the world 
since his death. He died at Geneva, on the iJOth 
of May, 1829. He had only arrived in that city 
the day before ; and having been attacked by an 
apoplexy after he had gone to bed, expired at an 
early hour in the morning. 

"No better evidence," says his biographer, 
" can be desired than that which we have in the 
history of Davy, that a long life is not necessaiy 
to enable an individual to make extraordinary 


progress in any intellectual pursuit to which he 
will devote himself with all his heart and strength. 
This eminent person was indeed early in the arena 
where he won his distinction, and the fact, as we 
have already remarked, is a proof how diligently 
he must have exercised his mental faculties during 
the few years that elapsed between his boyhood 
and his first appearance before the public. Al- 
though during this time he had scarcely any one 
to guide his studies, or even to cheer him onward, 
yet, notwithstanding that, he had taken his place 
among the known chemists of the age, almost 
before he was twenty -one. The whole of his bril- 
liant cafeer in that character, embracing so many 
experiments, so many literary productions, and so 
many splendid and valuable discoveries, extended 
only over a space of not quite thirty years. He 
had not completed his fifty-first year when he died. 
Nor was Davy merely a man of science. His 
general acquirements were divereified and exten- 
sive. He was familiar with the principal con- 
tinental languages, and wrote his own with an 
eloquence not usually found in scientific works. 
All his writings, indeed, show the scholar and the 
lover of elegant literature, as well as the ingenious 
and accomplished pliilosopher. Like almost all 
those who have greatly distinguished themselves in 
the world of intellect, he selected his one favorite 
path, and persevered in it with great energy ; 
while he nevertheless revered wisdom and genius 
in all their manifestations." 

Of ^he religious opinions and feelings of Sir 
Humphrey Davy we know very little. The fol- 
lowing striking sentence is found in one of his 
moral works. " I envy," says he, " no quality of 


the mind or intellect in others ; not genius, power, 

i'wit, or fancy; but if I could choose what would 
be most delightful, and I believe most useful to 
me, I should prefer a firm religious belief io every 
other blessing." 


"We suppose that no one will deny to Dr. 
Clarke the claim of great and multifarious learn- 
ing, and of most patient and unwearied industry 
in whatever he undertook. The soundness of 
his judgment, the clearness of his perceptions, 
and the strength of his reasoning powers are in 
very high estimation. The truth of some of the 
religious doctrines which he maintained, may be 
questioned in many of the divisions of the Chris- 
tian church ; yet the high characteristics of ener- 
gy, perseverance, supreme devotion to one great 
object, all will cheerfully unite in awarding to 
him. He was unquestionably the most learned 
man ever connected with the Methodist church. 

Adam Clarke was born at Cootinagtug, about 
thirty miles from the city of Londonderry, Ire- 
land, in the year 1760. His father was a member 
of a respectable English family. His mother 
was of Scottish descent. Reduced fortunes were* 
the reasons of their removing to Ireland. His 
parents were pious and intelligent people. As 
soon as he could well be taught anything, he was 
instructed to fear and love the God and Father 
of all, and to worship him in spirit and in truth, 
through the only Mediator. 

The religious principles, thus early implanted, 

expanded and strengthened as he advanced in 

years. His father being diligently engaged from 

day to day in his occupation as a farmer, had not 



perhaps discerned in his son any peculiar predi- 
lection for learning. Had this been the case, it 
is very probable that he would not have cherished 
it, but that he would have judged it most prudent 
to turn the attention of his son towards trade and 
commerce. Though he was able to have impart- 
ed to him a sound and mature education, he with- 
held the boon in a great measure, partly from his 
circumstances and prospects in life, and partly 
because he foresaw that his agricultural cares 
would too frequently engage his time as well as 
divide the attention of his pupil to too great a 
degree to anticipate any early proficiency in 

Having designed his son for trade, Mr. Clarke 
placed him under the care of Mr. Bennett, an ex- 
tensive linen-manufacturer, in the neighborhood. 
The lad had either no power or no disposition to 
throw any obstacles in the way of a connection 
which his father evidently desired, and to which, 
perhaps, he himself thought he should be able to 
reconcile himself. But whether he betrayed his 
aversion to manual labor, or whether he dis- 
covered his strong desire for study, it was soon 
perceived that he was very much dissatisfied. 
Accordingly a separation took place between him 
and his master, alike honorable to all the parties 
concerned. His love of reading, at the age of 
nine years, was intense. To gratify this passion, 
he would undergo any privations and submit to 
any hardships. The pence he obtained for good 
behavior and extra work, he never expended 
for toys and sweetmeats, but carefully preserved 
them for the purchase of books. 

Mr. Bennett continued till his death a steady 


friend and correspondent of Mr. Clarke. About 
this time, the founder of Methodism, the Rev. 
John Wesley, was active in his inquiries after 
pious and promising young men to assist him 
in the work of the ministry. Adam Clai-ke was 
pointed out to him as a youth of promise, by 
an individual who had become acquainted with 
his talents. Mr. Wesley had sometime before 
founded a school at Kingswood, near Bristol, for 
the education of the sons of preachers. After a 
short correspondence, young Clarke was sent to\ 
this school. Unhappily, the treatment which he/ 
received from the master was harsh and violent. ' 
Some have supposed it to have arisen out of af 
determination on the part of the pupil to apply 
himself to the acquisition of more extensive 
knowledge than the system or resources of that 
seminary contemplated. It was during this try- 
ing period that he laid the foundation of that pro- 
found acquaintance with the Hebrew language, to 
which he ultimately attained. At an early age, 
he took for his motto, " through desire, a man, 
having separated himself, seeketh and intermed- 
dleth with all wisdom." Mr. Wesley soon after 
arrived at Kingswood, and the pains and fears of 
Mr. Clarke were dispersed. That acute observer 
perceived and estimated the excellence of his 
persecuted protege, and in a short time adjudged 
him to be worthy to undertake the labors of an 
evangelical itinerancy. Mr. Clarke entered on 
his public work in 1782. Several circumstances 
combined to render him a preacher of the highest 
popularity among the Methodists, and of the 
greatest usefulness in extending the influence and 
exalting the character of that denomination. 


At the age of twenty-two years, he had upon 
his hands tlie study of the Latin, Greek, Hebrew 
and French languages, but as he was obliged to 
travel several miles every day, and preached on 
an average thirty days in every month, he did not 
make much progress. About this time, he read 
four volumes of Church History while riding on 
horseback. Owing to the injudicious conduct of 
an acquaintance. Dr. Clarke relinquished his 
studies for the space of four years, but was in- 
duced by Mr. John Wesley to resume them. 
During eleven months, in the year 1784, he 
I preached live hundred and sixty-eight sermons, 
and travelled many hundreds of miles. This was 
an average of nearly two sermons every day. 
He also, during this time, made himself master 
of the science of chemistry. His attention was 
first directed to biblical criticism by the loan, from 
a friend, of a Hebrew folio Bible, with various 
readings, which he carefully studied. In 1786, he 
recommenced the study of the Greek and Latin 
and the Septuagint version of the Scriptures. 
He had no teacher, and his stock of books was 
small, yet he read and collated the original texts 
in the Polyglot, particularly the Hebrew, Samari- 
tan, Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate and Septuagint. 

Dr. Clarke was an example of temperance and 
persevering industry. " Rising early, and late 
taking rest, avoiding all visits of ceremony and 
journeys of mere pleasure and recreation, re- 
stricting himself to the most wholesome diet and 
temperate beverage, not allowing unnecessary 
intrusion on liis time ; — these were among the 
means by which he at once performed so much 
important duty, acquired such a store of knowl- 


edge, and retained so unusual a portion of sound 
and vigorous health." Dr. Clarke applied him- 
self to the study of languages for the purpose of 
assisting the British and Foreign Bible Society. 

In the year 1795, he made an entire new trans- 
lation of the New Testament fi"om the Greek. 
His principal work is his Commentary on the Old 
and New Testaments. He commenced this great i 
undertaking at the age of twenty-six, and spent ( 
forty years of close and unremitting study upon it. 
He literally translated every word, comparing the 
whole with all the ancient versions and the most 
important of the modem, and collated all with the 
vai'ious readings of the most eminent biblical 
scholars, and illustrated the whole by quotations 
from ancient authors, Rabbinical, Greek, Roman, 
and Asiatic. In this arduous labor he had no 
assistant, nor even a week's help from an aman- 
uensis ; on the contrary, he performed during the 
whole of this period, with the utmost fidelity, the 
arduous labors of a Methodist preacher. What- 
ever may be said of its doctrines, its criticisms, 
and its interpretations, no one can deny that it 
exhibits an uncommon display of ingenuity and 
industry, and a vast accumulation of learning. 

Dr. Clarke died of the Asiatic cholera, at Bays- 
water, August 25, 1832. He left his residence 
the day previous to preach at Bayswater, on the 
Sabbath. He was attacked in the night, and died 
at eleven the next day, at the age of seventy-two. 


Benjamin Thompson, the distinguished Count 
Rumford, gave an early promise of his future ele- 
vation, although it was little heeded by those with 
whom he associated. His mind was constantly 
led away from the pursuits which were assigned 
to him, to others more congenial to his asijirations. 
He was born at Woburn, in Essex county, Mass., 
in 1752, of humble parents, no way distinguished 
from the laboring community which constituted 
the bulk of the population of agricultural villages 
before tlie Revolution. His father died during 
his infancy, and his relative and guardian afforded 
him the ordinary advantages of a common country 
school. His tastes soon began to show themselves, 
and the usual sports of boyhood were exchanged 
for the use of mechanic tools, and drafts of rather 
wild and impracticable models of perpetual motion. 
His zeal and perseverance in these fruitless occu- 
pations drew forth the surprise and, for the most 
part, the condemnation of those around him. But 
although he did not pursue with ardor the thrifty 
occupations of common industry, he never gave his 
time to vicious pursuits and the calls of pleasure. 
The anxiety of his mother and friends was only 
that he would not be able to learn any craft by 
which his livelihood would be secured. 

At thirteen years of age, he was placed as au 
apprentice in charge of Mr. Appleton, a merchant 
of Salem, in whose family there still remains a 


relic, the name of " Benjamin Thompson," neatly 
cut on the frame of the shop-slate. His success 
in this clerkship was not encouraging; he har 
kered for the tools of the workshop and musical 
instruments, of which he had become fond. The 
fault of guardians and parents then, as now, was 
to neglect the natural bent of the youthful mind, 
and insist that the occupation assigned to young 
persons should be selected by considerations 
which have nothing to do with their natural bias. 
Young Thompson's apprenticeship was of short 
duration, and he returned to live with his mother, 
at AVoburn, without having acquired a regular 

His self-reliance was his great characteristic. 
He seems never to have expected to avoid difficul- 
ties, and of course never sank in despondency. He 
had now become old enough to dwell with anxiety 
upon his future course in life, and although no 
flattering opening presented itself, devoted himself 
to the acquisition of useful knowledge. At about 
seventeen years of age, he attended lectures on 
natural philosophy at Cambridge, nothing deterred 
by a walk of nine miles from Woburn to Cam- 
bridge. His companion was another self-educated 
individual, Mr. (afterwards Col.) Loammi Bald- 
win, of Woburn, a distinguished engineer. His 
punctual attendance on these lectures laid the foun- 
dation of his extraordinary acquirements in the 
application of philosophical principles to the com- 
mon wants of life. 

Soon after this pefiod, he commenced the busi- 
ness of teacher of the town school at Bradford, in 
the southern part of Essex county ; and at the 
age of nineteen we find him engaged in the 


same employment, in the town of Concord, N. H^ 
where hk fine personal appearance, and the ease 
of manner which he had acquired in his inter- 
course with educated men, recommended him to 
the favor of a lady of large property, the widow 
of Col. Rolfe, of Concord, which lady he married 
at this early age. 

He was always of an ambitious turn, and in his 
intercourse with the world lost no opportunities of 
personal advancement, and by his new position in 
society he was enabled to make the acquaintance of 
public men, and procure the appointment of major 
of militia. But at the period of the commence- 
ment of the American Revolution, Major Thomp- 
son was thought to favor the royal cause. This 
imputation was a manifest injustice, as his conduct 
at that time and subsequently proves. His aspiring 
temper had led him to form an acquaintance with 
those who were above his condition in life, and 
these persons were principally British officers, in 
civil and military situations. The popular feeUng 
at that time was particularly strong, and prejudices 
were easily engendered, and Major Thompson's 
protestations were unavailing to shield him from 
popular odium. It is much to the credit of his 
patriotism, that this unmerited treatment did not 
readily wean him from the American side of 
the struggle. He turned out with those who en- 
countered the British troops at Lexington, and 
afterwards went into camp with the troops at 
Cambridge. He also sought to clear himself from 
suspicion by the action of a cburt of inquiry, who 
decided entirely in his favor, and pronounced him 
a friend of liberty. * 

At this time he turned his attention, with his 


usual ardor, to military studies, and tried Lard to 
obtain a commission under Congress in a company 
of, engineers about being raised, where his talents 
and courage would, no doubt, have done honor to 
the appointment. But his efforts were unsuc- 
cessful. The appointment was given to a young 
man, the son of a distinguished engineer. Major 
Gridley, who had served in the old French war, 
and who was afterwards wounded at the battle of 
Bunker Hill, where he had the day before skillful- 
ly laid out the fortifications. At this engagement, 
his son commanded the ynly American artillery, 
in a manner for which he has been severely cen- 
sured. Mr. Thompson met this disappointment 
in no very placable spirit, and having lost his wife 
by death, he embarked for England, to better his 
fortunes. His acquaintance with the English and 
royalist party enabled him to be the bearer of 
despatches to the English government He was 
not slow to avail himself of his introduction to 
pei'sons in power. Every person bringing intel- 
ligence from the revolted colonies was welcomed, 
and especially one who united so much intelli- 
gence and practical acquaintance with the detail 
of measures at the theatre of affairs, was cordially 
received. His introduction to men in power was 
of great service to him, and he soon was appoint- 
ed to a seci-etaryship in the bureau of American 
affairs, in the colonial department. 

Now began his prosperous life, when he found 
himself in a situation which drew forth his latent 
energy and talent. To these he added a most 
persevering industry and entire confidence in 
himself. His preparations for every undertaking 
were always fully made, and he seized upon op- 


portunity with avidity. His napic became known 
as a learned man and successful philosopher. Ha 
was chosen into the Royal Society, and contributed 
largely to their memoirs. The studies of that age 
were of a military character, and Mr. Thompson 
was distinguished in that department. At the 
age of thirty, he was made a colonel in the British 
service. His regiment was sent to this country 
just at the close of the war, and Col. Thomp- 
son gave evidence of his peculiar fitness for 
command, in the discipline of his troops. A few 
skirmishes at the south ^was all the service they 
Avere called to perform, and peace speedily caused 
their return ; so that Col. Thompson, although he 
appeared at the very first and very last of the 
contest, was exempt from its material and more 
important struggle. He returned to England on 
half pay, and was knighted in 1784. 

His military ardor was yet uncooled, and he 
left England to offer his services to the emperor 
of Austria, in his war against the Turks. On 
his way to Vienna, he accidentally encountered 
the future king of Bavaria, at a military review 
of his troops, at Manheim. His introduction was 
opportune, and the Due de Deuxponts was inspired 
with confidence in his new acquaintance, by his 
conversation and fine personal appearance. He 
was in want of a person possessing the very talent 
Col. Tiiompson displayed, which caused his invi- 
tation to court, and his appointment to ofiices of 
trust and responsibility. 

His first duty was to reform the discipline of 
the army, which he performed in a bold and sat- 
isfactory manner, so that order was established, 
economy promoted, and contentment prevailed. 


"Without relaxing discipline, he abolished useless 
formalities among the military, and employed the 
time thus gained, in teaching them and their chil- 
dren the rudiments of common learning; and here 
the system of common schools, as it prevails in 
New England, triumphed, as it has often done. 
Col. Thompson owed much of his success, to his 
familiarity with the town schools of his native land, 
which he had practically acquired by teaching. 
He established, besides the elementary schools 
of common learning, schools for employment, by 
which the soldier became no longer a drone, and 
mechanical automaton, but performed an amount 
of labor on the public works and highways, which 
contributed somewhat to repay his support by the 
State. An instance of his characteristic ecomomy 
appeared in his appropriating the paper used to 
teach writing in the military schools, to the manu- 
facture of cartridges by the soldiery. 

Col. Thompson's success with the military, en- 
couraged him to extend his philanthropy to the 
mendicants, which overran the kingdom of Ba- 
varia. They had long been a nuisance which the 
boldest reformers had given up in despair. They 
were so numerous, so bold, and so thoroughly 
lazy, that the scheme of making them useful 
members of society was considered most chimer- 
ical and absurd. They audaciously levied con- 
tributions on the public, and their systematized 
exactions were the terror of the bakers, butchers, 
brewers and shopkeepers of Munich and other 
cities, who usually compounded with them for a 
stipulated sum, or sort of black mail. The power 
of these mendicants was so formidable, that four 
regiments of cavalry were cantoned in different 


parts of Bavaria, to overawe a^d control thera, if 
necessary. All the arrangements were systemat- 
ically appointed. A large building was provided, 
containing the necessary appliances lor in-door 
labor of every mechanical kind, and us machinery 
had not superseded manual labor in so great a 
degree as at present, abundant employnif nt for 
all, both old and young, was found in the various 
workshops, and in the manufiicture of articles of 
wood, iron, leather, wool and cotton. 

It might well require the energies of a man of 
genius to convert men, women and children, born 
beggars, into industrious artisans, and not only to 
abate a nuisance, but confer a positive benefit ujjoa 
the depi'essed and outcast authors of it. Yet such 
was the miracle wrought by the energy, the 
philanthropy and the perseverance of Col. Tiiomp- 
son. His institution became celebrated as a 
model throughout Europe. He secured to him- 
self a reward, in the grateful acknowledgements 
of those who were benefited by his labors, which 
he highly appreciated, and which rarely falls to the 
lot of philanthropists. This was the result of being 
governed in his labors by the law of kindness. 
Firmness, promptitude, and enez'gy, characterized 
his movements, but harshness never. The sturdy 
beggars were arrested in the streets, by the civil 
officers ; they were informed that begging was pro- 
hibited in Bavai'ia, and that employment, food and 
clothing would be furnished to all who needed them, 
and that those wlio were unable to work should 
be sent to the hospital. The well disposed eagerly 
embraced the opportunity offered, and the refrac- 
tory saw no chance of resistance or escape. In the 
end, all were satisfied. Two principles, practically 


applied, contributed mainly to his success. In the 
first place, he averred that since goodness and hap- 
piness were acknowledged to be inseparable, it 
was best to begin by making the poor happy, and 
then expect them to become virtuous; whereas the 
common fault was, to endeavor to instil lessons of 
virtue first, and expect the happiness to follow. 
In the second place, he roused their pride and 
encouraged their self-respect, by proclaiming that 
alms-giving was abolished, and caused it to be 
inscribed in large letters over the door of his 
institution, No Alms keceived here. The 
pauperism of Bavaria soon lost its worst features, 
and although in all countries there must be pro- 
vision for the poor, and the poor are always with 
us, appealing to our feelings of humanity and 
sympathy, yet by judicious arrangements, like 
those of Thompson, the debasing characteristics 
of systematic pauperism c^n be avoided. Col. 
Thompson speaks with enthusiasm of his success 
in accomplishing his plans. He describes with 
animation his visit to the workhouse at Munich, 
after an absence of fifteen monlhs, and speaks of 
the fete he gave to nearly two thousand of the 
inmates, in the public gardens, of their solicitude 
and prayers for him while dangerously sick, and 
asks if any earthly reward can be greater than 
the satisfaction he received. 

But substantial and pecuniary recompense was 
not wanting. So great were the benefits confer- 
red on the state, and so various were the improve- 
ments he caused to be followed out, that the 
sovereign of Bavaria conferred upon him many 
appropriate honors. He appointed him his aid- 
de-camp, chamberlain, member of council, and 


lieutenant general of his armies. He had been 
knighted in England, and as the laws of the 
Bavarian Electorate did not permit his receiving 
the same honor there, others were procured for 
him in Poland and Italy. During the temporary 
occupancy, by the Elector of Bavaria, of the place 
of Vicar of the Holy Roman Empire, his patron 
created hira a count by the name of Rumford, in 
honor of Concord, New Hampshire, whose original 
name was Rumford. 

He was now at the zenith of his fame, and was 
much employed by his writings, in diffusing the 
knowledge of his plans and his success throughout 
the world. Much of his philosophical writing, 
■which was highly popular, and free from techni- 
calities, was on the subject of heat, and laborious 
and expensive experiments were instituted, to 
ascertain the best mode by which a saving of fuel 
could be effected by the poor, in cooking their 
food and warming their houses. By his own 
statement, it appears that he was enabled, at his 
establishment, to prepare the food of 1000 persons 
for 12 J- cents' worth of fuel, rating wood at S6,00 
a cord. The ovens, which yet go by his name, are 
still in constant use, after a trial of fifty years. 
But the most important blessing he conferred on 
the poor, as an improvement in their food, was 
teaching them the value of the potato. Before 
Count Rumford's philanthropic efforts, the potato 
was almost an unknown plant, and regarded as a 
sort of luxury, but in his plan for improving the 
condition of the military, gardens were estab- 
lished at the barracks, which the soldiers owned 
as their private property, but were compelled to 
keep in order, while the produce they raised went 


to improve the diet of their families. Count 
Ruraford, by great exertions, succeeded in estab- 
lishing the culture of this valuable root, and its 
use at length became general among all classes. 
Indian corn was another cheap article of food to 
which he directed the popular attention by his 
writings, which were enthusiastic as well, as intel- 
ligible. The following extract from his essay 
upon food, will show the minuteness with which 
he entered into detail, and exhibits the curious in- 
stance of a great philosopher giving to the world 
a description of the best method of making hasty- 
pudding. " In regard to the most advantageous 
mode of using Indian cox'n as food, I would strong- 
ly recommend a dish made of it, that is in the 
highest estimation throughout America, and which 
is really very good and very nourishing. This is 
called hasty-pudding, and is made in the following 
manner : A quantity of water, proportioned to the 
quantity of pudding to be made, is put over the 
fire, in an open iron pot or kettle, and a proper 
quantity of salt, for seasoning ; the salt being pre- 
viously dissolved in the water, Indian meal is 
stirred into it, little by little, with a wooden spoon 
with a long handle, Avhile the water goes on to be 
heated and made to boil, great care being taken to 
put in the meal in very small quantities, and by 
sifting it slowly through the fingers of the left 
hand, and stirring the water about very briskly at 
the same time with the wooden spoon in the right 
hand, to mix the meal with the water in such a 
manner as to prevent kimps being formed. The 
meal should be added so slowly, that, when the 
water is brought to boil, the mass should not be 
thicker than water-gruel, and half an hour more, 


at least, should be employed to add the additional 
quantity of meal necessary for bringing the pud- 
ding to be of the proper consistency, during which 
time it should be stirred about continually, and kept 
constantly boihng. The method of determining 
when the pudding has acquired a proper consist- 
ency, is ihis : — the wooden spoon used for stirring 
it being placed upright in the kettle, if it falls 
down, more meal must be added ; but if the pud- 
ding is sufficiently thick and adhesive to support 
the spoon in a vertical position, it is declared to 
be proof, and no more meal is added." He then 
describes the various additions with which it may 
be eaten, and cautions his European readers not 
to be prejudiced against it until they have tried it, 
" for," says he, " the universal fondness of Ameri- 
cans for it, proves that it must have some merit ; 
for, in a country which produces all the delicacies 
of the table in the greatest abundance, it is not to 
be supposed that a whole nation should have a 
taste so depraved as to give a decided preference 
to any particular species of food which has not 
something to recommend it." His description 
of the mode of eating it smacks strongly of his 
early engineering studies. " The manner in which 
hasty-pudding is eaten, with butter and sugar 
or molasses, in America, is as follows: the hasty- 
pudding being spread out equally on a plate, while 
hot, an excavation is made in the middle with a 
spoon, into which excavation a piece of butter as 
large as a nutmeg is put, and upon it a spoonful of 
brown sugar, or, more commonly, molasses. The 
butter being soon melted by the heat of the pud- 
ding, mixes with the sugar or molasses, and forms 
a sauce, which being confined in the excavation 


made for it, occupies the middle of the plate. 
The pudding is then eaten with a spoon ; each 
spoonful of it being dipped into the sauce before 
it is conveyed to the mouth ; care being taken in 
eating it to begin on the outside, or near the brim 
of the plate, and to approach the centre by regular 
advances, in order not to demolish too soon the 
excavation which forms the reservoir for the 

Among all the honors which Count Rumford 
received, he valued none more highly than that 
of minister to the Court of London. There was 
the beginning of his fame, there the first place at 
which his talents had been appreciated and re- 
warded. Unfortunately, he was doomed to be 
disappointed. After his appointment by the Ba- 
varian government to this post, he was informed 
that the rule of the English Court did not permit 
the office of ambassador near them, to be filled by 
a British subject, and that there could be no 
exception made to this rule, even to favor the 
claims of so acceptable a man as Count Rum- 
ford. This information met him in London, but 
did not cause him to quit the country. He 
remained among his old associates for some years, 
and his position afforded him a more convenient 
opportunity to disseminate his inventions and im- 
provements. He was one of the leading men in 
founding the present Royal Institution of Great 
Britain, the purpose of which shows the character 
of liis mind in bringing the achievements of science 
to the practical test of utility. This institution was 
chartered to diffuse the knowledge and introduc- 
tion of useful inventions ; and to teach the appli- 
cation of science to the arts, by means of public 


At this period of his life his thoughts appear to 
have reverted to his native land, for the weal of 
whose institutions he had always shown an inter- 
est. He was repeatedly invited to revisit it, by 
individuals and government; but he never found 
himself at liberty to accept their invitation. He 
invested five thousand dollars in the American 
funds to establish a premium to be awarded by 
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of 
Massachusetts, to the author of the most " impor- 
tant discovery or useful improvement, which shall 
be made and published by printing, or in any way 
made known to the public, in any part of the 
continent of America, or in any of the American 
Islands, during the two preceding years, on heat, 
and on light ; tlie preference always being given 
to such discoveries as shall, in the opinion of the 
Academy, tend most to promote the good of man- 
kind." A like sum was also presented to the 
Royal Society of Great Britain to be used by 
them for tlie same purpose, in order that he 
might contribute to the " advancement of a science 
which had long employed his attention, and which 
appeared to him to be of the highest importance to 
mankind." The sum invested in this country has 
never been employed to pay premiums, except 
in a single instance, and the fund has been con- 
stantly accumulating till it has quadrupled its 
original amount. The legislature of Massachu- 
setts have empowered the American Academy to 
divert, in some degree, the interest of the capital 
from its original destination, and apply it to make 
additions to their library of works on the subjects 
of heat and liglit. 

Count Rumford's ascendency at the Bavarian 


Court, bad no doubt given hira some ideas of self- 
consequence, which did not accord with the freer 
atraospiiere of Great Britain, where he was 
obliged to admit the co-operation, if not the 
equality, of associates in the same fields of 
science. From this or some other cause, he was 
involved in difficulties with the managers of the 
Royal Institution, whom he probably found less 
subservient than the savans of his former place 
of residence. Considerations of this sort proba- 
bly, led him to the choice of another place of 
retirement, and he became a resident of France. 
His industry and researches still marked his 
character, although his domestic relations became 
less agreeable. He became united in marriage 
with the widow of the distinguished chemist, 
Lavoisier, and after discovering how little their 
dispositions were suited to promote each other's 
happiness, they separated by mutual agreement. 

Count Rumford's death took place in August, 
1814, at the age of 62, and was the occasion of 
an eulogy by the celebrated Cuvier, before the 
French Institute, to which body Count Rumford 
belonged. The university at Cambridge, Mass., 
was most gratefully remembered in his will, by 
which he bequeathed $1000 annually and the 
reversion of his estate, to found the present Rum- 
ford professorship, the object of which is, to teach 
the application of science to the useful arts, and 
which has been filled with distinguished ability. 

It is interesting to observe in his researches 
how completely Count Rumford relinquished the 
warlike to cultivate the peaceful pursuits of man- 
kind. His first experiments were* instituted to 
calculate the force of projectiles, and the explo- 


siveness of gunpowder; the later ones to cure 
smoking chimneys and determine the comparative 
warmth of different textures used for clothing, and 
to prove the superiority of broad-rimmed wheels. 
His whole soul seemed to enter into any scheme 
for administering to the wants of mankind, and his 
writings are particularly happy in the plain and 
graphic mode of explanation. His was not a 
mawkish sympathy, but an effective effort at 
amelioration. His success in life was a proud 
exhibition of New England character, and forci- 
bly illustrates the value of self-dependence and 
perseverance. A faltering and indolent man 
would never have made use of his advantages, 
great though they were ; and a lover of ease, 
contented with a moderate share of renown, 
would never have accomplished the high aims of 
/Count Rumford. On the whole no man has 
j better applied the maxim of Cicero, " I am a man 
I and have an interest in every thing human." 



The profound study of mathematics, although 
regarded by the majority as dry and repulsive, 
has always excited great enthusiasm in its sincere 
votaries. And well it may; since its processes 
are so beautiful in their exactness, its results so 
certain, and, when applied in practice, often so 
astonishing. By the severity of its method, the 
mind is abstracted from every other object ; the 
passions are held in abeyance ; the attention is 
riveted to the demonstration ; and the intellect, 
in some of its most independent operations, is 
surprised and delighted with unexpected discov- 
eries. "When Syracuse was taken by the Romans 
(B.C. 312), not even the din of arms, nor the* 
confusion of a city given up to pillage, could/ 
divert Archimedes from the problem upon which ' 
he was intent. The philosopher was slain in 
the midst of his labors, with his rude diagrams 
before him. We can hardly cease to wondor, that 
from the smallest data the widest results may be 
calculated. The accuracy of the maps and charts ' 
of empires depends, perhaps, upon fixing the po- 
sition of a single point. A beautiful illustration 
of the exactness of mathematical calculations, ia 
28 (325) 


seen in the efforts to determine the difference be- 
tween the polar and equatorial diameters of the 
earth. It has been said, that with a base line of 
less than a quarter of an inch in length (i. e. the 
excess of the polar over the equatorial pendulum), 
we can determine, loithin the fraction of a mile, 
the difference between the polar and equatorial 
radius of the earth.* 

Sciences the most abstruse are sometimes found 
to be most really practical. The poor old man, 
whose failing eyes are made young again by his 
spectacles, little dreams, perhaps, of the various 
knowledge which was necessary in order to invent 
and construct the glasses. The captain of the 
vessel, who learns his latitude and longitude by 
an observation of the stars, may not remember 
what an acquaintance with the laws and motions 
of those distant bodies was necessary, before the 
rules and tables requisite for the observations 
could be formed. The reproach of neglecting the 
sciences and the arts, cast upon this country, for a 
time with justice, can now hardly be made good. 
Men have lived among us, as distinguished for 
learning as for practical skill. Twenty-four years 
ago, a writer in one of our ablest Reviews lamented 
that " while Great Britain could boast of more 
than thirty public and private observatories of 
considerable note, we had not in the whole United 
States one that deserved the name." That Avant 
is now, to a very considerable extent, supplied by 
public and private munificence. Astronomical ob- 
servatories have been established at many of our 
colleges, in several of our large cities, and at the 

* Mr. Pickering's Eulogy on Dr. Bowditch, p. 68. 


seat of government, in "Washington. The liberal 
contributions for the purchase of libraries and 
philosophical apparatus in some of our colleges, 
and the encouragement given to some of our 
painters and sculptors, show that the sympathies 
of considerable portions of the community are not 
expended upon works of the lowest practical util- 
ity alone, nor upon the mere acquisition of wealth ; 
or rather, that the enlargement of the sphere of 
our knowledge, and the cultivation of a pure and 
refined laste, are themselves considered of the 
greatest utility, and as constituting our most cer- 
tain "wealth. 

He who has added to the purely scientific repu- 
tation of his country, deserves to be gratefully- 
remembered. The subject of the following sketch 
did more, perhaps, in this respect, than any Amer- 
ican of his time ; and, in addition to his great 
scientific attainments, was remarkable for his 
practical skill. It does not always follow, that 
profound acquisitions in science are accompanied 
by a sound judgment in the ordinary affairs of 
life. It would sometimes seem as if the habit of 
dealing habitually and almost solely with fixed 
quantities, injured one's power of judging saga- 
ciously concerning creatures so variable and fickle 
as men. La Place himself, when placed by Bo- 
naparte in stations of high political responsibility, 
was found incompetent to the discharge of his du- 
ties. Dr. Bowditch's practical ability was equal to 
his knowledge ; and his profound mathematical and 
astronomical knowledge was so applied, as to be- 
come subservient to the most common necessities 
of society. His science, however removed, it might 
at first seem, from the ordinary business of men, 


really enabled him to furnish them with the means 
of conducting that business most safely and prof- 
itably. By his personal attention and efforts, he 
wisely and prosperously directed an institution 
which held under its control millions of dollars, 
entrusted to it by those whose circumstances would 
not allow them to manage their own property. 
At the same time, by his mind, he was navigating 
tens of thousands of ships, all over the world, 
freighted with untold wealth, and with lives still 
more precious. 

Nathaniel Bowditch, the fourth of seven 
children, was born in Salem, Mass., March 26th, 
1773. His ancestors for several generations were 
shipmasters ; but his father, having met with mis- 
fortunes in business at the commencement of the 
revolutionary war, was so far disheartened as to 
give up his profession, and adopt the trade of a 
cooper. At the age of ten, young Bowditch lost 
his mother, to whose instruction he always felt 
under great obligations. He always spoke of her 
with the greatest affection. She early taught him 
to love truth ; and never, on any account, to tell a 
lie. She also inculcated upon him a reverence 
for things sacred. Before the death of his mother, 
he had attended school for a short time, and his 
predilections for the favorite studies of his mature 
years began early to show themselves. It is 
^stated, that having with some difficulty obtained 
permission from the schoolmaster to study arith- 
I metic, a difficult sum was given him, apparently 
for the purpose of rebuking his too eager desire. 
He took it to his seat, nowise discouraged, and 
soon, having conquered the difficulty, brought it 
up with a shining face to the master. Instead, 


however, of the approbation he expected, he was 
accused of endeavoring to deceive, by pretending 
to have done what another had done for him. 
Nor was he credited when he asserted that he 
did it himself; and the impatient teacher would 
have proceeded to punish him, if an older brother 
had not interfered and fortified the assertion of 
Nathaniel by his own testimony. This circum- 
stance — especially his being charged with false- 
hood — was one of those which Dr. Bowditch 
could never forget. 

The benefit of the school, whatever it may 
have been, he was soon compelled to forego, on 
account of poverty ; and, at a little more than ten 
years of age, he was bound as an apprentice to 
Messrs. Ropes & Hodges, who were ship chan- 
dlers. While with them, he evinced more de- 
cidedly a taste for mathematics ; and, indeed, 
devoted his leisure moments with great earnest- 
ness to reading and study. He kept his slate 
and pencil by his side in the shop, and, when not 
engaged in serving customers, was busy in his 
favorite pursuit. One visiter prophesied " that if > 
he kept on ciphering so, he would, without doubt,/ 
in time, become an almanac maker." Another,' 
having once entered the shop when Nathaniel was 1 
engaged in his common arithmetical labor, while ( 
his fellow-apprentice was asleep behind the coun- f 
ter, smiled and said, "Hogarth's Apprentices."] 
Frequently, after the store was closed at night, he 
remained until nine or ten o'clock, occupied with 
his books. His holidays were usually spent in 
the same manner. In the house of his master, he 
had a room in the garret, which he used during 
the summer as a study ; while in the winter, he 


made a corner by the kitchen fire serve the same 
purpose. He rose very early in the morning, — 
a habit which he retained through life ; and he 
often declared that those early hours gave him, 
substantially, his knowledge of mathematics. 
When he was fourteen, he made an almanac, 
which still exists in manuscript, and is considered 
among the most interesting volumes of his library. 
At this period of his life, also, he gained his first 
knowledge of algebra. His brother William re- 
turned one day from school, with the tidings that 
the master had a new method of ciphering, by 
means of letters. Nathaniel was puzzled and 
extremely interested by this announcement, and 
could not rest till his brother had borrowed the 

(book for him. It is said, that he did not sleep 

I the night after he had obtained it. 

Although such a diligent student of mathemat- 
ics, he did not confine his attention to them. It 
was about this time that he read through Cham- 
bers's Cyclopaedia, in two large folio volumes. 
There was also in Salem a very good library. 
By a singular series of events, the books of Dr. 
Kirwan, a learned Irishman, were transferred to 
America, — the owner not consenting thereto, 
and, indeed, not being consulted on the subject. 
They were captured by a privateer, in the Irish 
Channel, brought to Beverly, and being bought on 
reasonable terras, by persons at Salem, formed 
the foundation of what afterwards became the 
Salem Athenjeura. At a subsequent day, com- 
pensation was offered to Dr. Kirwan for his loss ; 
but he generously declined to take it. To this 
library young Bowditch gained access, and bor- 
rowed from it many volumes which were of the 


greatest consequence to him. Among them were 
the Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 
from which he copied a large number of the most \ 
important mathematical papers. Scientific works^ 
also, which his limited means would not allow him) 
to purchase, he obtained in the same laborious j 
way; and these products of his diligence and' 
learning, still exist, in more than twenty folio and 
quarto volumes. We doubt whether there was 
ever a more earnest devotion to a branch of sci- 
ence frequently repulsive to the young on account 
of the constant and patient attention which it re- 
quires. Two of the volumes contain, according 
to the title-page of one of them, "A Complete 
Collection of all the Mathematical Papers in the 
Philosophical Transactions ; Extracts from vari- 
ous Encyclopaedias, from the Memoirs of the Paris 
Academy ; a Complete Copy of Emerson's Me- 
chanics ; a Copy of Hamilton's Conies ; Extracts 
from Gravesande's and Martyn's Philosophical 
Treatise, from Bernouilli, &c. &c." 

When his employers, Messrs. Ropes & Hodges, 
retired from business, young Bowditch entered the 
store of Mr. S. C. Ward. The same habits of 
study went with him. He began to learn Latin, 
without an instructor, in order to read Newton's 
Principia. This book he finally mastered, and, 
it is said, translated into English, while with Mr. 
Ward. No complete translation is now among 
his papers ; but portions of this great work, ren- 
dered into English, are in the manuscript book 
before spoken of. It may be, therefore, that the 
above remark of one of his early acquaintances 
is not entirely correct. i 

As he learned Latin in order to read one pro- / 


/ibund mathematical treatise, so he learned French 
jin order to read another. Bj the strong advice 
[of his teacher, although against his own first in- 
clinations, he learned the pronunciation, as well as 
the forms and construction ; and it was not long 
before the value of this part of the language, which 
he had intended to omit, was made most evident. 
In one of his first voyages to a French port, he 
happened to be the only one on board who could 
act as an interpreter. He was impressed by this 
circumstance with the belief, that no knowledge 
can come amiss to a man. However unnecessary 
or unprofitable it may seem at the hour of acqui- 
sition, there will some time or other be a use for it. 
We will mention liere another incident illustrating 
the same fact, although it occurred at a later period 
of his life. In one of his voyages to Spain and 
Portugal, he acquired a knowledge of the Spanish. 
After he had ended his seafai'ing life, he was applied 
to by an old sea captain to translate an important 
paper Avhich he had received. It was in Spanish, 
and no one else in Salem was sufficiently ac- 
quainted with the language. Mr. Bowditch very 
gladly made the translation ; and this small assist- 
ance, thus opportunely given, was one cause, 
through the influence of the captain, of the subse- 
quent election of Mr. Bowditch to the Presidency 
of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Com- 

Soon after entering the employment of Mr. 
"Ward, his love of science attracted the attention 
of the Hon. Nathan Reed, at that time an apothe- 
cary, in whose shop, as an assistant, was one of 
IVIr. Bowditch's schoolmates and friends. With 
this schoolmate, he used occasionally to spend his 


evenings, — studying the scientific books which he 
found there.* 

There is much truth in the old adage, " Where") 
there is a will, there is a way." If the mind be ( 
firmly determined upon a course, not absolutely' 
extravagant, the difficulties in the path will be 
likely to vanish before a vigorous resolution and 
constant energy. Men are seldom unlucky but 
by their own fault.f Those who accomplish any 
thing great in the world must generally depend 
upon themselves, and not upon external circum- 

" The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, c 
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." C 

Dr. Bowditch was never accustomed to think that) 
the difficulties he encountered in early life really S 
retarded his progress. Necessity was a stern/ 
master, but, he thought, the best. He was taught 

* It is mentioned by one of the eulogists of Dr. Bowditch, 
as an interesting fact, that the same shop was the place re-\ 
sorted to by Count Rumford (then Benjamin Tliomson,/ 
and a clerk in John Appleton's store), to make his experi-) 
ments on gunpowder. — See note to Judge White's Eulogy/ 
on Mr. Bowditch. ' 

t Dr. Bowditch " always was of ojjinion, that continued 
ill-luck indicated incapacity. On one occasion, when he 
had refused to underwrite upon a vessel commanded by 
Mr. A. because ' he was unlucky,' the captain called upon 
him to complain of his imputing to him as a fiult what was 
but a misfortune ; and, after trying for some time to evade 
a direct reply. Dr. Bowditch at last said, ' If you do not 
know that when you got your vessel on shore on Cape Cod, 
in a moonlight night, with a fair wind, you forfeited your 
reputation as an intelligent and careful shipmaster, I must 
now tell you so ; and this is what i meax by being tjn- 
LCCKT.' " — Mem. prefixed to vol. 4 of Translat. of Mec 
Cel. p. 84. 


by it to depend upon himself, while yet he de- 
spised no assistance which he could derive from 
others. In overcoming obstacles, he acquired 
an elasticity of spirits, which enabled him, as much 
as any thing could, to succeed in still greater 
undertakings. " The successful accomplishment 
of the ai'duous task of translating the ' Principia,' " 
says ]Mr. Reed, " probably induced him to com- 
mence the translation of ' La Place.' " The vigor 
and diligence with which he applied himself to 
scientific pursuits gained him the friendship and 
assistance of those who were both willing and able 
to help him. Among these, besides Mr. Reed, were 
Drs. Bentley and Prince. The Philosophical 
Library was kept at the house of the latter of 
these gentlemen, who received the youthful stu- 
dent at all times with the greatest kindness, and 
rendered him all the assistance in his power. 

In 1794, Mr. Bowditch, whose reputation for 
knowledge and fidelity was thoroughly established, 
was employed, in company with Mr. John Gibaut, 
to make a thorough survey of the town of Salem. 
This task was performed very satisfactorily, and 
with it may be considered as ending the first epoch 
of his life. He had now arrived at the verge of 
manhood, with greater mathematical attainments, 
probably, than any one of his age in the state, 
with a character unsullied, enjoying the entire con- 
fidence of his employers, and with good purposes 
and resolutions for the future. 

In the year 1795, he engaged to sail with his 
friend Capt. Gibaut on a voyage to the East 
Indies. Before the vessel sailed, Capt. Gibaut 
relinquished the command, and his place was 
taken by Capt. Prince. This made no difierence 


with Mr. Bowditch, who sailed as clerk. * They 
went to the Isle of Boui'bon, where they remained 
five months, and returned to Salem after exactl 
a year's absence. His second, third, and fourth 
voyages were made with the same captain. Dur- 
ing these voyages he employed his leisure time, 
which was considerable, in mathematical studies, 
or in learning such languages as he thought would 
be of value to him, or in profitable reading. He 
thus perfected himself in French, and acquired a 
good knowledge of Italian, Spanish, and Portu- 
guese. It may as well be mentioned here, that I 
his method of learning a new language was gene- 
rally to obtain a New Testament in the language/ 
and, with the aid of a dictionary, to commence 1 
immediately the work of translation. At the age) 
of forty-five, he learned the German, for the sake of 
reading certain mathematical works. His library, 
at his death, contained the New Testament in more 
than twenty-five language^, and the dictionaries 
of a still larger number. 

During his long voyages he was not only desir- 
ous of learning, but very wiUing to teach. He' 
diffused among the sailors an eager desire for/ 
nautical information. As a natural consequence, 
it is stated, that a large number of those who 
sailed Avith him became afterwards masters or 
chief mates of vessels. To many ship owners, 
it was the best recommendation of a seaman, that 
he had been a voyage with Mr. Bowditch. In 
one ship in which he went to the East Indies, it is 
said that every sailor on board could work a lunar 
observation. On one occasion, Capt. Prince says, 
the supercargo asked him to go forward, and see 
■what the sailors were talking about. " They went 


forward accordingly, and the captain was surprised 
to find the sailors, instead of spinning their long 
yarns, earnestly engaged with book, slate, and 
mencil, and discussing the high matter of tangents 
land secants, altitudes, dip, and refraction. Two 
Jof them in particular were zealously disputing; 
lone of them calling out to the other, ' "Well, Jack, 
Iwhat have you got ? ' ' I've got the sine,' was the 
[answer. ' But that aint right,' said the other ; ' / 
Bay it 's the cosine.' " * The ship became thus a 
school of learning, and every sailor felt himself 
elevated by belonging to it. To Mr. BoAvditch it 
was a pleasure and a recreation thus to teach 
those willing to learn. He always felt that he 
was in this way laying the best foundation for 
their future success in their perilous profession. 
On the arrival of the ship at INIanilla, a Scotch- 
man named Murray, expressed his surprise, that 
the Americans, with the slight knowledge of navi- 
gation which he supposed them to possess, should 
undertake so long and dangerous a voyage, work- 
ing their way to the island, by dead reckoning, in 
face of the north-east monsoon. Capt. Prince 
told him in reply, that he had twelve men on 
board, each of whom was as well acquainted with 
working lunar observations, for all practical pur- 
poses, as Sir Isaac Newton himself. A broker 
who was present said to Murray, " If you knew as 
much as I do about that ship, you would not talk 
quite so glib." " And what do you know ? " said 
Murray. " I know," returned the broker, " that 
on board that ship there is more knowledge of 

* Rev. Mr. Young's Discourse. 


navigation than there ever was in all the ships 
that ever came into Manilla bay." * 

During the same voyage, while they were at 
Madeira, Mr. Bowditch had been called upon to 
show his mathematical knowledge. A wager was 
laid between a gentleman in the port and the cap- 
tain of the ship, that the young mathematician 
could not do a certain sum. The sum (so called) 
was this : To dig a ditch round an acre of land, of 
a given shape, — how deep and how wide must 

* The Rev. Mr. Young has translated an anecdote from 
the Correspondance Astronomique of Baron Zach, a very dis- 
tinguished European astronomer, which is so interesting 
that we think every reader will be gratified to see it. " The 
Baron is relating the sensation caused at Genoa by the 
arrival there, in 1817, of that splendid packet, the Cleopatra's 
Bafge, owned by George Crowninshield, Esq., of Salem. 
Ee says that he went on board with all the world, " and 
it happened," to use his own words, " that, on inquiring 
after my friends and correspondents at Philadelphia and 
Boston, I mentioned, among others, the name of Mr. Bow- 
ditch. ' He is a friend of our family and our neighbor at 
Salem,' replied the captain, — a smart, little, old man ; ' and 
that young man whom you see there, my son, was his pupil ; 
in fact, it is he, and not myself, who navigates the ship. 
Question him a little, and see if he has learnt any thing.* 
Our dialogue was as follows : ' You have had an excellent 
teaeher of navigation, young man ; and you could not well 
help being a good scholar. In making the Straits of 
Gibraltar, what was the error in your reckoning ? ' The 
young man replied, 'Six miles.' 'You must then have 
got your longitude very accurately : how did yon get it?' 
' First by our chronometers, and aftcrw.irds by lunar dis- 
tances.' ' What ! do you know how to take and calculate 
the longitude by lunar distances ? ' The young captain 
seemed somewhat nettled at my question, and answered me 
with a scornful smile, — ' / know how to calculate the lon- 
gitude! why, Gur cooi can do /Aa< / ' 'Your cooi.'' Here 
the owner of the ship and the old captaia assured me that 


it be, to raise the acre of land one foot ? The 
problem was solved in a very few minutes. 

Mr. Bowditcli's life ou shipboard was as metho- 
dical and as diligent as on shore. " His practice," 
says a companion during several voyages, " was 
to rise at a very early hour in the morning, and 
pursue his studies till breakfast ; immediately 
after which, he walked rapidly for about half an 
hour, and then went below to his studies till half 
past eleven o'clock, when he returned and walked 

the cook on board could calculate the lonfritude very well, 
that he had a taste and passion for it, and did it every day. 
' There he is,' said the young man. pointinp: with his finder 
to a negro at the stern of the ship, with a white apron before 
him, and holding a chicken in one hand, and a butcher 
knife in the olhei". ' Come fonvard, Jack,' said the captain 
to him ; ' the gentleman is surprised that 5-ou can calculate 
the longitude, — answer his questions.' I asked him, ' What 
method do you use to calculate the longitude by lunar dis- 
tances?' His answer was, 'It's all one to me; I use the 
methods of Maskelyne, Lyons, Witchel, and Bowditch; but, 
npon the whole, I prefer Dunthorne's, — I am more used 
to it, and can work it quicker.' I could not express my 
surprise at hearing this black face talk in this way, with his 
bloody chicken and knife in his hand. ' Go,' said Mr. 
Crowninshicld to him, 'lay down your chicken, bring your 
books and your journal, and show the gentleman your cal- 
culations.' The cook soon returned with his books under 
his arm. He had Bowditch's Practical Navigator, The 
Requisite Tables, Hutton's Tables of Logarithms, and 
the Nautical Almanac. I saw all this negro's calculation 
of the latitude, the longitude, and the true time, which he 
had worked out on the passage. He answered all my ques- 
tions with wonderful accuracy, not in the Latin of the 
caboose, but in good set tenus of navigation. This cook 
had been round the world, a cabin boy. with Capt. Cook on 
his last voyage, and was well acquainted with the particulars 
of his assassination at Owhyhee, on the 14th of Feb. 1779." 
Rev. Mr. Young's Discourse, p. 28. 


till the hour at which he commenced his meridian 
observations. Then came dinner; after which, he 
was engaged in his studies till five o'clock ; then 
he walked till tea time ; and, after tea, was at his 
studies till nine o'clock in the evening. From this 
hour till half past ten o'clock, he appeared to have 
banished all thoughts of study ; and, while walk- 
ing, he would converse in the most lively manner, 
giving us useful information intermixed with amus- 
ing anecdotes and hearty laughs, making the time 
delightful to the officers who walked with him, 
and who had to quicken their pace to accompany 
him. Whenever the heavenly bodies were in 
distance to get the longitude, night or day, he was 
sure to make his observation once, and frequently 
twice, in every twenty-four hours ; always prefer- 
ring to make them by the moon and stars, on account 
of his eyes. He was often seen on deck at other 
times, walking rapidly, and apparently in deep 
thought; and it was well understood by all on 
board, that he was not to be disturbed, as we sup- 
posed he was solving some difficult problem ; and 
when he darted below, the conclusion was, that 
he had got the idea. If he were in the fore part 
of the ship when the idea came to him, he would 
actually run to the cabin, and his countenance 
would give the expression that he had found a 
prize." * 

From this account it appears that, without 
neglecting the immediate duties of his calling, his 
strong tastes and affisctions were towards science. 
He was thirsting for knowledge. He did not pro- 
fess to be much acquainted with what is usually 

* Judge "White's Eulogy. 


called seamanship, although his knowledge and 
skill, under every emergency, showed themselves 
equal to the greatest task imposed upon them. 
During the last voyage in which he went as cap- 
tain, he determined to leave the greater part of 
the duties usually expected of commanders, to the 
officers under him, and made an express agree- 
ment with them for this purpose. He was thus 
enabled to secure a much larger portion of time 
for his cherished studies than would otherwise 
have been possible. 

Let us look for a moment at some of the results 
of those studies. The book on Navigation once 
in general use among sailors was the work of 
John Hamilton Moore, — a work, says Pick- 
ering, made up partly from Robertson's Elements 
of Navigation, and from the well-known Requisite 
Tables of Dr. Maskelyne, formerly Astronomer 
Royal in the Observatory at Greenwich. During 
his first voj'age, Mr. Bowditch had discovered in it 
many errors, some of which were of a very dan- 
^gerous nature. One of these consisted in markc 
ing the year 1800 as a leap year, which aifected 
j the numbers so as to make a difference of twenty- 
three miles in the reckoning. This mistake was 
the cause of the loss of several vessels, and the 
1 imminent danger of many more. One edition of 
[this work had already been published in America, 
land another was in preparation, when the pub- 
lisher, Mr. Blunt, of Newburyport, heard that 
Mr. Bowditch had made important corrections, 
which he would be willing to communicate. He 
accordingly applied to the young navigator, and 
received from him assistance which pi-evented the 
loss of the whole edition. In accordance with the 


request of the publisher, Mr. Bowditch devoted 
himself, during his third voyage, to the severe 
task of carefully examining all the tables of the 
work. In order to test their accuracy, he actually 
went through all the calculations necessary to an 
independent knowledge of what he was revising. 
In this wearisome process, " no less than eight 
thousand errors were discovered and corrected in 
the work of Moore, and above two thousand in] 
the llequisite Tables." Of the last-mentioned 
errors, Mr. Bowditch remarks, that "although they 
would not seriously affect the result of any nau- 
tical calculation, yet since most of the tables are 
useful on other occasions, where great accuracy is 
required, it is not useless to have corrected so 
many small errors." 

In the course of his labors he found the task 
so arduous that it seemed to him, on the whole, 
better to make a new work than to impi-ove the 
old. As the result of this determination, Mr. 
Bowditch published, in 1802, the first edition of 
his "Practical Navigator." Thus, at the age of 
twenty-nine, had he prepared a volume which has 
been of incalculable service to the interests of 
navigation. It has never been superseded by its 
rivals, and is said to be extensively used in the 
British and French navies. In the subsequent 
editions, of which eight were published, the author 
endeavored to make the work as complete and 
useful as possible. The greatest care was used 
in the correction and prevention of mistakes ; and 
by the last edition (that of 1837), "the body of 
the tables was increased from thirty-three to 

The work, when first published in America, 


was immediately republished in England, under 
the editorship of Thomas Kirby. It was soon 
attacked by a British writer (Dr. Mackay, who 
had himself published a work on navigation), on 
the score of its many inaccuracies. Dr. Bowditch 
replied to this charge, in the next edition of his 
work, tliat not one of those many inaccuracies 
was to be found in the Ar(jLerican tables ; thus 
leaving as the only inference to be drawn, that 
the errors were to be charged upon the English 
editor or the English printer. As a farther vin- 
dication, however, although none was necessary, 
he went on to say, that "It is so difficult to obtain 
perfect accuracy in a table depending solely on 
observations, that no one ever published was per- 
haps entirely free from error. As a proof of this 
assertion, we may refer to the table published in 
London, in 1802, by order of the Commissioners 
of Longitude, in the third edition of the Requisite 
Tables, which table is esteemed as accurate as any 
published ; for in it the latitude of Sandy Hook 
is nearly four degrees too much, and that of Bar- 
buda nearly fifteen miles too mucli ; the last error 

being common to almost all books and charts 

If farther proof of the justness of the remark, 
that errors exist in all tables of latitudes and lon- 
gitudes, were wanting, it might be obtained by 
inspecting the table published at London, in 1804, 
in The Complete Navigator, by Dr. Mackay, in 
which are many similar errors ; three of which 
only will be mentioned, viz. — Cape Ann Lights 
are laid down eleven miles too far to the north- 
ward, and are placed several miles to the westward 
of Salem, instead of the eastward ; Barbuda is 
placed fifteen miles too far to the northward ; and 


Atwood's Keys nearly a hundred miles too far 
south : so that the remark made by Dr. Mackay 
in the preface to his work, ' that the case of the 
seaman who has to trust to such tables is truly 
lamentable,' might, with equal justice, apply to 
his own table." * 

Although the Practical Navigator gained for 
its author such wide-spread reputation, and was 
so eminently useful, he did not rest his scientific 
fame upon it. It is an interesting fact, that he 
received from his publisher the Mecanique Celeste, 
as part of the payment for this work on navigation. 
A pleasant anecdote from the memoir of his life, 
prefixed to the fourth volume of the translation of 
the great work of La Place, may well" conclude 
what we have to say upon his first distinguished 
effort at authorship. " Two young men came into 
the shop of his bookseller to purchase a copy of 
the Navigator. Upon being shown one bearing on 
its title-page the number of the edition, and pur- 
porting to have been revised and corrected by the 
author, one said to the other, ' That is all a mere > 
cheat ; the old fellow must have been dead years f 
ago ! ' They were astonished and perhaps a little em- ' 
barrassed at being introduced to an active, sprightly 
gentleman, in full health and good spirits, as the 
author of this work, which they had known from 
their earliest entrance upon a sailor's life." 

Such being the intrinsic value and the wide 
utility of the work of Mr. Bowditch, it was a fitting 
tribute to his memory, that, qt the news of his 
death, the flags were hoisted at half-mast in many 
of our cities, and by American vessels, as well aa 

* Pickering's Eulogy, note C. 


by many English and Russian, in Cronstadt ; and 
that a badge of mourning was adopted by the 
pupils of the naval school of the United States. 

With his fourth voyage, Mr. Bowditch ended 
his life as a seaman. He had become known as 
an uncommon mathematical scholar, and was at- 
tracting the notice of men, whose friendship he 
greatly pi'ized. Among these was Chief Justice 
Parsons, who was himself distinguished for at- 
tainments in the higher branches of mathematics, 
as well as for a profound acquaintance with the 
science of law. In 1799, he was chosen a member 
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
At the beginning of his last voyage in 1802, while 
his ship was wind bound at Boston, he attended 
the commencement at Harvard University, and 
was surprised and delighted to hear his own name 
pronounced at the close of the exercises as one of 
those upon whom was conferred the honorary de- 
gree of Master of Arts, — an honor which he had 
fairly won by unaided efforts. It was the first of 
the acts of that distinguished University publicly 
recognizing his merits. She afterwards gave him 
more substantial tokens of esteem ; but he ever 
looked back with the greatest satisfaction to this 
earliest and entirely unexpected proof of the regai'd 
in which he was held. 

On the 25th of March, 1790, Mr. Bowditch 
married Elizabeth Boardman. Soon after he 
Bailed on his third voyage, and before he returned, 
his wife was no more. She died at the age of 

In 1800, he was again married to his cousin, 
Mary IngersoU, — the honored wife who lived 
with him more than thirty-three years, always 


encouraging him in his studies, and willing to make 
any sacrifices for his prosperity and fame. To 
her precious memory he subsequently dedicated 
the great translation and commentary, by which 
his name will be handed down to the distant gene- 
rations of scholars. 

Soon after the close of his seafaring life, Mr. 
Bowditch, as has been said before, was chosen 
President of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance 
Company, in which office he remained nearly 
twenty years. His skill in the management of 
its concerns during this long period, which included 
some difficult crises in commercial affairs, is suf- 
ficiently shown by its uniform prosperity. The 
stockholders received for their investments an 
average annual dividend of ten or twelve per cent., 
and the institution, when he left it to remove to 
Boston, had a large surplus of profits on hand. 
For this situation, his affability, regular habits, 
sagacity, and strict integrity, no less than his 
great scientific attainments, remarkably fitted him. 
He M'as continually in contact with men of great 
variety of character, and elicited from all an in- 
voluntary respect for his learning and skill. His 
love of justice and truth was among the strongest 
of his characteristics, and he had occasion some- 
times to exhibit them in connection with the busi- 
ness of his office. No man could expect any favor 
from him merely because he was rich, nor hope to 
control the affairs of the institution so as to benefit ' 
himself to the injury of a poor man. A person 
of great wealth once endeavored to force him to 
do an act which he thought would be injurious and 
unjust to another of smaller property, and, on his 
objecting, made mention of his own riches, and 


intimated that he would have his way. " No, sir, 
you wont," said Mr. Bowditch ; " I stand here in 
this place to see justice done, and, as long as I am 
here, I will defend the weak." 

During his residence in Salem, he was con- 
stantly interested in the public institutions of the 
city. Among these was the Salem Athenaeum, 
which rose from the combination of the Social 
Library and the Philosophical Library. By the 
union, eiFected in part by his efforts, the value and 
usefulness of both were greatly increased. 

Another, and the most peculiar, institution of 
the town, is the Salem East India Marine Society, 
whose museum is one of the chief attractions to 
strangers. This Society is composed of those who 
have sailed beyond Cape Horn or the Cape of 
Good Hope as captain or supercargo. The mu- 
seum consists, mainly, of articles of curiosity col- 
lected from the most distant parts of the world, 
arranged with great taste and skill, in a large hall 
erected for the purpose. The collection is unique, 
and, as Mr. Bowditch says in his will, affords "' a 
proof alike of the enterprise, taste, and liberality, 
of such of the citizens of Salem as have followed 
a seafaring life." Besides collecting curiosities, 
the Society aims to obtain and diffuse nautical in- 
formation. This important object is said to have 
been suggested by Mr. Bowditch himself. " A 
blank book is furnished to each member, uniformly 
prepared for recording facts and observations dur- 
ing each voyage ; and, upon the return of the 
vessel, it is deposited with tlie Society. It is then 
examined by a committee, who select and .record 
in other volumes, having a convenient index for 
reference, all that they consider important ; and 


the result is a mass of nautical information, such 
as, probably, exists nowhere else in the world, 
and which Dr. Bowditch found of great service in 
preparing for the press the various editions of the 
Practical Navigator." Of this Society he was, at 
different times. Inspector of its Journals, Secretary, 
and President ; and his full-length portrait now 
hangs in its great hall. 

Although these duties seemed to occupy his 
time, yet he found leisure to pursue his favorite 
studies. In company with two others, soon after 
his return from his last voyage, he made a very 
accurate and complete survey of the harbors of 
Salem, Marblehead, Beverly, and Manchester. 
In the chart constructed from the results of this 
survey, the old landmarks, known only to the 
pilots, were laid down with such accuracy as to 
excite among them general surprise, and almost a 
fear for their occupation. 

His manner of life while in Salem Avas very 
methodical, and varied little from one day to 
another. He rose at six, and walked a mile or 
two, either before breakfast or immediately after ; 
at nine went to his office, where he remained till 
one. Then he walked again before dinner ; and 
after dinner frequently took a short nap, and again 
went to his office until tea-time. From tea-time 
till nine in the evening, he was at his duties, and 
amidst business. Notwithstanding this regularity 
of public employment, he found time for the 
various duties of friendship, as well as the pursuits 
of science. In 1818 he became trustee for manag- 
ing an estate of nearly half a million of dollars. 
He found time to instruct several young ladies 
in French, and others in Italian. Widows and 


orphans came to him for sympathy and help, 
and were sure to receive it. He was indeed an 

(illustration of the remark, that if you need any 
thing done you must apply to a busy man ; an idle 
person seldom can find time to do any thing but 
be idle. Almost every one has found something 
like this in his own experience. 

It is time that we indicate some results of his 
scientific pursuits while at Salem. " Before nine 
o'clock in the morning," he used to say, " I learned 
all my mathematics." Although this may be true, 
yet then, as ever afterwards in life, he was accus- 
tomed to carry some of his books with him to his 
ofiice, and, if a moment of leisure occurred, would 
relieve himself from more irksome duties by study- 
ing them. During his residence at Salem, he con- 
tributed twenty-three papers to the several volumes 
of the Transactions of the American Academy of 
Arts and Sciences. Many of these were purely 
mathematical; mostof them, astronomicah Among 
them is an interesting paper on the height, direc- 
tion, velocity, and magnitude of the meteor which 
exploded over "Weston, Conn. Dec. 14, 1807. 
Another, which, from a want of the improved 
methods of calculation used at present, involved 
immense labor, is on the elements of the orbit of 
the comet of 1811. One of his biographers re- 
marks, that " the origiYial manuscript volume con- 
taining his calculations, now preserved in his 
library, has one hundred and forty-four folio pages 
of close figures, probably exceeding one million in 
number, though the result of this vast labor forms 
but a communication of twelve pages." Another, 
on Dr. Stewart's formula for computing the motion 
of the moon's apsides, as given in the Supplement 


to the Encyclopedia Britannica, is interesting, as 
showing (hat the method, although sanctioned by 
some of the most distinguished astronomers of 
Europe, was true in the particular case only, and, 
as a general method, entirely fails. Besides these 
articles, many others were written by him during 
the same period, and published in the Monthly 
Anthology, the North American Review, and 
Silliman's Journal. Among these, two papers in 
opposition to the proposal of a Mr. Lambert for 
the " establishment of a first meridian for the 
United States, at the permanent seat of their 
government," had probably considerable influence 
in defeating the project, and Greenwich still re- 
mains the first meridian for all who speak the 
English language. These papers subjected him 
to a silly charge of " zeal for the honor of the 
British nation," — a charge which can only find 
a parallel for absurdity in that narrow jealousy 
of American honor, which will not allow that the 
mother country is superior to us, or more fortunate, 
in any respect Avhatever ; and which is apt to ac- 
cuse him, who may chance to think so, with want 
of patriotism, if not with actual corruption. The 
North American Review for April, 1825, contains 
a very comprehensive article by Dr. Bowditch, 
upon modern astronomy. In one of his articles, 
published previously in the same review, the inter- 
esting fact is stated, that "out of thirteen primary! 
planets and satellites, discovered since the year) 
1781, we are indebted to persons born in Germany | 
for twelve, and that, in the determination of the | 
orbits of these new bodies, they have done more I 
than all the other astronomers in the world." Mr. 
Bowditch was also a contributor to the Annalist 


and Mathematical Diary ; and, it is said, solved 
every question proposed in that work. He also 
wrote several articles for the American edition of 
Rees's Cyclopedia. 

But the great work on which he rested his fame 
for scientific knowledge was the translation of La 
Place's Mecanique Celeste, and the commentary 
with which he accompanied it. La Place was the 
son of a simple peasant of Normandy, and from 
his earliest years was remarkable for his intense 
love of study. At the age of eighteen, he visited 
Paris, and made himself known to the learned 
men of that metropolis by some profound essays 
upon certain difficult points in mechanics. The 
result was that in a few days he was appointed 
professor of mathematics in the public military 
school. From this time to the end of his life, he 
was constantly occupied with the science which 
he loved. His greatest work was the Celestial 
Mechanics. It was " the fruit of incessant medi- 
tation upon the great subjects of it, for more than 
sixty years, and under circumstances the most 
favorable that could fall to the lot of man ; the 
author having the entire command of his time, 
and being surrounded by all the scientific men of 
France, who could render him any aid in their 
respective departments. If an observation in 
astronomy was required, — if any experiment 
in meteorology, in chemistry, in mechanics, — if 
laborious calculations were wanted in mathematics, 
in order to verify his theories, — the most eminent 
men in France, at the most advanced period of 
human knowledge, may be truly said to have been 
at his command ; some of them, indeed, literally so, 
by orders of the government; and others, from 


that common zeal in the cause of science, which 
is always glowing in such a community." * 

The first volume of La Place's work was pub- 
lished in 1799, and the fourth in 1805. Shortly 
before his death, about twenty years afterwards, 
he published the fifth and last volume. It is un- 
doubtedly the greatest and most important mathe- 
matical work written since the Princifia of Sir 
Isaac Newton. Its object is to explain the whole 
mechanism of the heavens on strict mathematical 
principles ; to demonstrate that all the apparent 
anomalies and irregularities in the forms and 
motions of the planets are in accordance with fixed 
laws. " Towards the end of the seventeenth 
century," he says in his preface, " Newton pub- 
lished his discovery of universal gravitation. 
Mathematicians have, since that epoch, succeeded 
in reducing to this great law of nature all the 
known phenomena of the system of the world, and 
have thus given to the theories of the heavenly 
bodies and to astronomical tables an unexpected 
degree of precision. My object is to present a 
connected view of these theories, which are now 
scattered in a great number of works. The whole 
of the results of gravitation upon the equilibrium 
and motions of the fluid and solid bodies, which 
compose the solar system and the similar systems 
existing in the immensity of space, constitute the 
object of Celestial Mechanics ; or, the application 
of the principles of mechanics to the motions and 
figure of the heavenly bodies. Astronomy, con- 
sidered in the most general manner, is a great 
problem of mechanics, in which the elements of 

* Pickering's Eulogy. 


the motions are tlie arbitary constant quantities. 
fThe solution of this problem depends, at the same 
|time, upon the accuracy of the observation, and 
upon the perfection of the analysis. It is very 
1 important to reject every empirical process, and 
to complete the analysis, so that it shall not be 
necessary to derive from observations any but 
indispensable data. The inteijtion of this work 
is to obtain, as far as may be in my power, this 
interesting result." 

No one of the natural sciences fills its student 
with such exalted emotions, or raises his thoughts 
so far above the meaner things of earth, as astrono- 
my. None requires so extended a range of ob- 
servation, so profound thought, so various and 
intricate calculations, to comprehend and de- 
monstrate its laws ; and no other knowledge can 
fill the mind of the unlearned beholder with such 
wonder and awe. The laws of mechanics, of 
chemistry, of medicine, are indeed wonderful ; but 
any one can see how they are investigated. The 
subjects are in our hands ; we can try them by 
such tests as we please, and make the results evi- 
dent by what we call the simplest and most un- 
mistakable pi'oof. But to weigh the stars in 
scales ; to predict the very moment when the 
moon shall veil her face ; and foretell to a minute 
when the sun, a hundred years hence, shall be 
turned to darkness ; and when the fiery comet, 
which dashes so fiercely through the heavens, com- 
ing we know not Avhence, and going we know not 
whither, shall, after wandering years upon years 
beyond all mortal sight, again come back to render 
obedience to the sun ; — this seems to the unin- 
structed akin to omniscience, and to the learned 


is as interesting and solemn an exhibition as can 
be of the mysterious powers of the spirit within 
us. Plence in all ages the study of astronomy has 
awakened intense enthusiasm ; and those have 
been reckoned among the greatest luminaries of 
science, who have propounded the laws of the 
heavens.* That results so vast, so complicated, 
so wonderful, could be accounted for by a single 
law, — a law as necessary for explaining the 
minutest phenomenon of every-day life, as for ex- 
plaining the motions of the heavens, — was the 
discovery of the great Englishman, Newton. The 
more various, complete, rigid application and de- 
monstration of the law was left for the great 

* Since writing the above, a discovery has been made of 
such extreme interest, that we do not hesitate to give an 
account of it, mainly in the words of Prof Loomis of the 
New York University. It seems that the planet Herschell, 
or, as more commonly called, Uranus, was long known as 
a star before it was recognized as a planet. In constructing 
tables for this planet, astronomers found it impossible to 
represent its motion correctly. The discrepancies between 
the tables and the motion as determined by observation 
were so great, that some began to doubt whether the law of 
gravitation, at such a distance from the sun, was strictly 
true. '• In a paper read before the French Academy of 
Sciences on the 31st of August, 1846, M. Le Vemer de- 
monstrated that all the observations of Uranus since 1690 
could be perfectly represented by supposing the existence 
of a planet at a great distance beyond Uranus ; and he pro- 
ceeded to assign its precise magnitude and position. Its 
distance from the sun was 3,500 millions of miles ; it made 
one revolution in 217 years; and its weight was thirty- 
eight times that of our earth. He assigned its present 
position near the star Delta Capricorni ; its brightness about 
one third that of Uranus, which would make it a star of the 
eighth magnitude ; and he concluded that a good telescope 
must show it with an appreciable disc. He then wrote to 
Dr. Galle of Berlin to look for it in the place he had indi- 


Frenchman. This he accomplished ; and his work, 
to quote the words of Prof. Playfair, " affords an 
example, which is yet solitary in the history of 
human knowledge, of a theory entirely complete ; 
one that has not only accounted for all the phe- 
nomena that were known, but that has discovered 
many before .unknown, which observation has since 
recognized. In this theory, not only the elliptic 
motions of the planets, relatively to the sun, but 
the irregularities produced by their mutual action, 
whether of the primary on the primary, of the 
primary on the secondary, or of the secondary on 
one another, are all deduced from the principle 
of gravitation, — that mysterious power, which 

cated. Galle found it the first night. It was a star of the 
eighth magnitude, had an appreciable disc, and was near 
the spot which Le Verrier had computed. This discovery 
was made on the 23d of September; the planet was observed 
at London on the 30th ; and has since been seen at several 
places in this country. There is no doubt that Le Verrier's 
orbit is a near approximation to the truth. The planet's 
place in the heavens, its distance, and its magnitude, had 
been correctly computed ; and all from studying the motions 
of another body distant from it at the nearest about 1800 
millions of miles. The annals of science may be searched 
in vain for a discovery equally wonderful. When La 
Place computed the figure of the earth from an analysis of 
the motion of the moon, it seemed almost the work of om- 
niscience ; but La Place only arrived by a new method at 
a result known before. Le Verrier, by studying the motions 
of a distant and obscure planet, demonstrated the exist- 
ence of a body before unknown ; told where it was ; what 
orbit it was pursuing ; and how many pounds it weighed. 
The astronomer had but to point his telescope, and this 
distant body, so long buried in the depths of space, and 
which had caused him such perplexity, was caught at once. 
The discovery confirms the accuracy of the Newtonian law 
of gravitation, and explains all the anomalies in the 
motions of Uranus." 


unites the most distant regions of space, and the 
most remote periods of duration. To this we 
must add the great truths, — brought in view and 
fully demonstrated by tracing the action of the 
same power througli all its mazes, — that all 
the inequalities in our system are periodical ; that, 
by a fixed appointment in nature, they are each 
destined to revolve in the same order, and between 
the same limits ; that the mean distances of the 
planets from the sun, and the time of their revolu- 
tions round that body, are susceptible of no change 
whatever ; that our system is thus secured against 
natural decay ; order and regularity preserved in 
the midst of so many disturbing causes ; and an- 
archy and misrule eternally proscribed." * 

The briefest mention of the subjects treated of 
by La Place, will show the comprehensiveness 
of the work. Some of them are the following : — 
The laws of equilibrium and motion ; the law 
of universal gravitation, and the motions of the 
centres of gravity of the heavenly bodies ; the 
figures of the heavenly bodies deduced theoreti- 
cally, and then compared with the actual observa- 
tions made of the figures of the earth and the planet 
Jupiter ; the oscillations of the sea and the atmo- 
sphere ; the motions of the heavenly bodies about 
their own centres of gravity; the theory of the 
planetary motions, and their inequalities and per- 
turbations ; the theory of comets ; light, and the 
theory of astronomical refractions, &c. &c. 

" It will not be uninteresting," says JMr. Picker- 
ing in his Eulogy on Dr. Bowditch, delivered be- 
fore the American Academy of Ai-ts and Sciences, 

* Edinburgh Review, vol. II. p. 277. 


" to pause here a moment, and in imagination 
place ourselves at a height, from which the vast 
subject of La Place's labors ought to be surveyed. 
If, then, we concentrate our attention upon it as 
an entire object, we perceive the powerful intellect 
of the author, grasping the general phenomena of 
the matter of the universe, from the whole mass 
down to the minute and invisible particles, which 
ai*e the ultimate component parts of that mass ; 
beginning with the laws of equilibrium and motion, 
generally, as applicable to all matter, solid and 
fluid ; then proceeding, step by step, to the sub- 
division or parts of the whole, considered as sys- 
tems of bqdies ; and, next, to the individual bodies 
that are members of those systems ; then, con- 
sidering the laws of gravitation, and the mutual 
attraction and perturbations of the heavenly bodies; 
next, our own solar system, its planets, satellites, 
and comets ; and, from the consideration of these, 
the author is led to the attraction of bodies of a 
particular character, that is, those which are ho- 
mogeneous and of a spheroidal form, of which the 
earth is an example, and is particularly discussed; 
and, connected with which, is the figure of a fluid 
mass in equilibrium, and having a rotatory motion, 
as the ocean of our earth ; and, finally, after con- 
sidering the attraction between masses of matter, 
the author proceeds to that which takes place be- 
tween their particles. 

" In this manner does the author bring into one 
grand and magnificent review, the wonderful 
phenomena of all matter, the entire mass of the 
material world, through the various portions into 
•which it may be divided, till he arrives at those 
inconceivably minute particles whose law of at- 


traction cannot be certainly determined by the 
phenomena, because they elude the power of 
human observation." 

Tliis sketch of the extent and magnitude of the 
work of La Place, seemed necessary in order to 
give a better understanding of the labor of trans- 
lating and commenting upon it. To translate 
merely might have been a comparatively easy 
task. But the original work is extremely abstruse. 
Steps in the demonstration are often omitted. 
Dr. Bowditch was accustomed to say, " Whenever^ 
I meet in La Place with the wbrds, — ' Thus it/ 
plainly appears,' I am sure that hours and perhaps / 
days of hard study will alone enable me to discover! 
how it plainly appears." It was said by an 
English writer, that there were scarcely twelve 
men in Great Britain who could read the work 
with any tolerable facility ; and of America, the 
remai'k was made, that there were perhaps two or 
three persons besides Dr. Bowditch who could read 
the original critically : but it was doubted whether 
the whole of it had been so read by one. 

It was the object of the translator to elucidate 
the difficult demonstrations by supplying the de- 
ficient steps, and carrying the processes still farther 
if necessary ; and to continue the work to the 
present time, so as to put the reader in full pos- 
session of all the recent " improvements and dis- 
coveries in mathematical science." Another object 
was to" do full justice to the distinguished mathe- 
maticians to whom La Place was indebted, but to 
whom he gave no credit. The most eminent of 
these was Lagrange, for whose character, as well 
as remarkable attainments. Dr. Bowditch had the 
highest respect. How perfectly he attained these 


ends would be best attested bj the numerous marks 
of approbation lie received from distinguished 
scholars and scientific bodies, the world over. To 
him belongs the honor of placing this great work 
within the reach of all who speak the English 
language. The amount of labor may be, to some 
extent, inferred from the fact, that, while in the 
original there are about fifteen hundred pages, in 
the translation there are three thousand eight 
hundred and eighteen. On almost every page the 
notes exceed the text. There are about '' three 
pages of commentary for every two of the original." 
These notes were made at the time of reading the 
volumes as they were successively published, 
although they were in a great measure re-written 
about the time of publishing, so as to incorporate 
the additional matter, '' rendered necessary by the 
progress of mathematical science." The translation 
of the four volumes was made between the years 
1814 and 1817, while Dr. Bowditch was engaged 
in all the other duties to which we have before 
alluded. Although he had such profound respect 
for the genius of La Place, Dr. Bowditch was not 
a blind follower. In the course of his commentary, 
he notices several errors in the original work, and 
accepts certain of the results obtained, only with 
limitations. One of the most important and inter- 
esting of his questions is on La Place's proof of 
the permanency of the solar system ; and he shows 
that " however just the inference may be, that the 
orbits of the three exterior planets, Jupiter, Saturn, 
and Uranus, can never be very eccentrical, or 
deviate much from the same plane; yet it does 
not follow, /Vom the same equations, that the orbits 
of the smaller planets will always be neai'ly circu- 


lar, and in the plane of the ecliptic ; for the orbits 
of these might be very eccentric, and even para- 
bolic, and the planes of them be perpendicular to 
each other, and yet the equation be satisfied." 

This gigantic work was not published for twelve 
years after the translation was campleted. The 
friends of the translator had often urged him toj 
accept their pecuniary assistance in bringing it 
from the press, and the American Academy! 
liberally offered to print the whole at their ex- 
pense. Dr. Bowditch preferred, however, to retain ' 
his feeling of independence. He was aware that 
the work would have but few readei't-, and he 
chose to delay the publication until he was able to 
print it himself. This he finally did in four quarto 
volumes, of nearly one thousand pages each, in a 
style of elegance suited to the magnitude of the 
work, and at a cost of more than ten thousand 
dollars. The volumes were published successively 
in the years 1829, 1832, 1834, and 1839, the last 
not being finished until after the death of the 
translator. The fifth volume of the original work 
was never translated. The deficiency is of less 
consequence, since, to a considerable extent, the 
contents have been incorpoi'ated in the notes to 
those already published. 

For the sake of giving as complete an account 
as possible of this great work, many incidents of 
his life at Salem have been passed over. We 
will recur to some of tliem now. The knowledge 
of his scientific attainments was early diff'used, 
and led to several proposals, which were not the 
less gratifying because he concluded not to accept 
them. In 1806, he Avas elected Professor of 
Mathematics in Harvard University ; in 1818, he 


was requested hj Mr. Jefferson to take the same 
office in the University of Virginia ; in 1820, Mr. 
Calhoun, then Secretary of War, desired him to 
consent to a nomination to the vacant professor- 
ship of mathematics at West Point. One reason 
of his declining these appointments was his reluc- 
tance to speaking in public. Beside these testi- 
monials to. his character, he received others in the 
shape of elections to various learned bodies. The 
American Philosophical Society admitted him as 
a member, in 1809 ; the Connecticut Academy of 
Arts and Sciences, io 1813 ; the Literary and 
Philosophical Society of New York, in 1815 ; the 
Edinburgh Royal Society, in 1818 ; the Royal 
Society of London, in 1818 ; and the Royal Irish 
Academy, in 1819. The degree of LL. D. was 
conferred upon him by Harvard University, in 
1816. At a later period of his life, after the first 
yplumes of the translation of La Place were pub- 
lished, he was chosen a member of the Royal 
Astronomical Society of London, — the Royal 
Academy of Palermo, — the British Association, — 
and the Royal Academy of Berlin. Had he 
but lived a little longei', he would probably have 
been elected a member of the Royal Institute of 
France ; inquiries having been proposed by that 
distinguished body, just before his death, which 
would probably have led to that result. 

In 1823, Dr. Bowditch received an invitation 
to take charge of a marine insurance company 
in Boston, in connection with the Massachusetts 
Hospital Life Insurance Company. He at first 
declined, although the compensation offered was 
three times as great as he was receiving at 
Salem ; but the invitation Avas soon more urgently 


repeated, and the proposed salary raised to five 
thousand dollars, so that he thought it not right 
for him to refuse the solicitation, especially as the 
refusal would only have led to a still higher offer 
on the part of those who were determined to 
secure his services. He left Salem with regret, 
and received, at his departure, a public demonstra- 
tion of the high regard of his friends. 

After removing to Boston, he continued to su- 
perintend both the institutions with which he had 
become connected, until his business as Actuary 
of the Life Insurance Company became so great 
as to occupy all his time, when he relinquished 
his connection with the other corporation, wh'ose 
concerns were brought to a close and its charter 
surrendered. In the mean time, the institutioil 
with which he remained connected until his death, 
greatly enlarged its operations. It was first in- 
corporated with a capital of half a million, with 
power to effect insurances upon lives and to grant 
annuities. To this was soon added, in conse- 
quence of the suggestions of Dr. Bowditch, the 
right to receive money in trust, so as to become 
a great savings bank. This part of the business 
increased under his excellent control, until the 
amount of property received exceeded five millions 
of dollars. To manage funds so large, entrusted 
to the institution by those whose want of ability 
or whose circumstances prevented them from 
taking care of their own, required great firmness, 
delicacy, and sagacity. It is needless to say, that 
by the possession of all these qualities, together 
with scrupulous integrity, and the utmost openness 
and fairness. Dr. Bowditch disarmed the prejudices 
which many felt against such a gigantic moneyed 


institution, and obtained for it a degree of respect 
and credit from all classes in the community, as 
entire as was ever accorded to any similar insti- 
tution in the world. 

The management of the business of the office 
was directed by himself. Pie calculated interest- 
tables for the use of the corporation, which saved 
the constant employment of a clerk. He intro- 
duced such simplicity and perspicuity in the forms 
of the blanks and the books for accounts, that 
hardly any change has been since found neces- 
sary, and the transaction of business is greatly 
facilitated. He always attended personally to 
every contract made by the Company, and to 
every note or mortgage taken by it. The greatest 
regularity and method were introduced into the 
transactions ; and although a rule might, in some 
cases, seem to be severe, he would rather adhere 
to it, than, by departing from it, give license 
for its general violation. 

To be consistent, and preserve strictly the 
rules of the office, sometimes required great moral 
courage and independence. A wealthy gentleman 
called on a Saturday to deposit ten thousand dol- 
lars. His funds in the bank were three hundred 
dollars short of that amount, and he offi^red his 
check for that sum, to be paid on IMonday. The 
actuary declined to take as cash a check payable 
at a future day; the rule of the office forbade 
it. The gentleman was astonished that he could 
not be trusted a day for so small a sum. Dr. 
Bowditch remarked, " I am happy that it has be- 
come necessary to enforce this rule in an extreme 
case. Having been once applied to yourself, no 
one else can ever object to a compHance with it." 


The result was, that Dr. Bowditch supplied the 
deficiency from his own funds, and received the 
check himself. 

On another occasion, a gentleman called to de- 
posit a sum of money in behalf of a young lady, 
his ward. While he was there, another gentle- 
man, a friend of the actuary, called to request 
him to take twenty or thirty thousand dollars. 
Mr. Bowditch declined. " Why not receive from 
me," said the gentleman, " as well as from any- 
body else ?" " Because you can take care of the 
money for yourself. Whenever, as at present is 
the case, there is so much money in possession 
of the Company uninvested, that it will not be a 
decided advantage for them to take any more, 
I receive it only from such as cannot take care of 
it themselves. For such cases, especially, was the 
Company designed. It is a sort of savings bank, 
except that it is on a larger scale than usual." 

It was a rule, which he thought an important 
one, never to receive money from foreigners, or 
residents out of New England. Hence, on one 
occasion, he refused one or two hundred thousand 
dollars offered to him by a resident in Nova Sco- 
tia, although the financial difficulties of the time, 
in his opinion, rendered the acquisition of so large 
a sum very desirable. 

It was a duty of the messenger of the office to 
receive the interest paid on mortgages and notes, 
and hand it immediately to the actuary to be en- 
dorsed. If persons called to make payment after 
business hours, and were willing to entrust the 
sum to this officer, taking his promise that the en- 
dorsement should be made the next day, he was 
accustomed to receive it. Several years since, 


the messenger, yielding to temptation, spent a 
sum of one hundred and twenty doUars so receiv- 
ed, intending to replace it from his salary, which 
in a few days would be paid. The solicitor of 
the Company, a son of Dr. Bowditch, came to a 
knowledge of the transaction, through the confes- 
sion of the delinquent, the day before the salary 
was due. The messenger besought him so ear- 
nestly not to reveal the matter to the actuary, 
and gave such solemn assurances that the money 
should be paid on the morrow, that the son, 
though reluctantly, consented. The morrow 
came, — the salary was paid ; but the messenger, 
instead of fulfilling his promise, handed it to a 
creditor, who threatened him with the severity of 
the law. As soon as this was known, the solicitor 
disclosed to Dr. Bowditch the original offence. 
The reply was, " Had it been your own money, 
you would have been at liberty to listen to the 
dictates of compassion and humanity ; but, as an 
oflQcer of this institution, you have committed, 
though unintentionally, a great fault, which I can 
with difficulty overlook. You must give me your 
own check for the whole amount of the deficit, 
since, by a timely exposure, the Company could 
have withheld the salary which has just been paid. 
This being done, all further action I leave to the 
Dix'ectors." It was a principle with Dr. Bow- 
ditch, insisted upon more strongly than ever after 
this affair, " that no pei'son under pecuniary embar- 
rassment should remain connected with the office. 
To see the note of one of its officers offered upon 
'change, would, with him, at any time, have been 
a conclusive reason for his instant dismissal. He 
knew intimately the weakness of human nature ; 


that honesty and integrity may in a moment be 
lost by those fatal entanglements ; and he regard- 
ed the prayer for delivery from temptation as 
one of vital importance. In his own conduct, he 
practised upon the same rule. He never endorsed 
or became surety for any of his children, or 
made any engagements by which he might become 
liable to forfeit his independence." 

On returning to the office one day after a few 
minutes' absence, he found that he had accidental- 
ly left open a trunk " containing all the convertible 
property of the Company." No one was present 
or had been, except one of his fellow-officers, in 
whom he had the greatest confidence. Without 
saying a word, he took out and carefully examined 
every paper. Many persons would regard this 
as a practical expression of want of confidence in 
the gentleman who alone had been present. He 
did not intend it as such ; for there was no one in 
whom he reposed more trust. Some would think 
it such an excess of a virtue, as to border upon a 
fault, — a degree of carefulness nearly allied to a 
disagreeable habit of suspicion. But in this age 
of dishonesty, of indifference to public propei'ty, 
when so many widows and orphans have lost 
their whole living by the reckless mismanagement 
of public institutions, and when the actions of 
even sovereign and independent States have 
tended so greatly to impair in men's minds the 
sacredness of obligations, we will more than par- 
don one who exaggerates, if he can, the old-fash- 
ioned virtue of integrity, — we will look upon 
him with veneration. 

To multiply instances which exhibit the sterling 
virtues of his character would too much extend 
this sketch, already protracted beyond the assign- 


ed limits. We must hasten to a conclusicni. Dr. 
Bowditch manifested the same general interest in 
the public institutions of Boston, as before in those 
of Salem. He became connected with several 
charitable societies. From 1826 to 1833, he was 
a Trustee of the Boston Athenaeum, and was the 
means of adding to its funds and general pros- 
perity. One volume of the Transactions of the 
American Academy of Arts and Sciences was 
published while he was its President. In 1826, 
he was chosen a member of the corporation of 
Harvard University, — he, who never called it 
alma mater, nor owed it any thing for instruc- 
tion, beyond what all in the community owe to a 
beneficent institution by whose influences they 
are guided and assisted, though they know it not. 
He retained this connection till his death, and 
always regarded the days of its annual festivities 
as his " high holidays." 

In 1834, Dr. Bowditch was deeply afflicted by 
the death of his wife, who died on the 17th of 
April. This excellent lady had always rendered 
her husband the utmost assistance in her power, 
in pursuing his arduous studies. She encouraged 
him to undertake the publishing of his great work, 
and never counted a sacrifice worth the naming 
which contributed to advance the higher interests 
of science.* But for her, the translation of La 

/ * Mr. Pickering places her example beside that " which 
[the history of literature has recorded of the illustious Ger- 
I man scholar, Rciske, Avho would have refunded to his sir 
I snbscribers the price of their copies, and then have aban- 
.; doncd in despair the publication of his great work (the 
Greek orators), had not his affectionate and resolute con- 
' sort, in a determined tone, said to him, " Trust in God ; sell 
my jewels to defray the expense : what are a few shining 
baubles to my hapjpiness ? " — Euloot, p. 33. 


Place would not, probably, have been published. 
It was fitting, — a beautiful tribute, indeed,— 
that the work should be dedicated to her memory. 

Dr. Bowditch's manner of life was methodical, 
and his health generally good. He rose early, 
breakfasted before the rest of his family, studied 
two or three hours, walked, and then went to his 
office. At two o'clock the office was closed, and 
before three he dined, after which he indulged 
in a short nap. On awaking, he went to his 
studies again, and near the close of the afternoon 
visited the office to see if any thing required his 
attention. The evening was devoted to study and 
conversation. Although he daily gave so much 
time to mathematics, it was said of him, " You 
never saw the mathematician, unless you inquired 
for him." His stores of knowledge on a variety 
of subjects were great, and his range of reading 
somewhat general, although he preferred history 
and biography. Fiction he reserved " till the \ 
thermometer stood at 90°." 

Towards the latter part of the year 1837, he 
began to experience frequent pain and uneasiness, 
but, as he said, could not affiard time to be sick. 
Early in January of the follo\Hng year, he called 
in a distinguished physician, and his disease was 
soon pronounced to be of a dangerous character. 
The symptoms became more and more alarming ; 
his stomach rejected all solid food, and his suf- 
ferings were intense. He continued, however, 
daily to sit for some time in his library, until 
the day before his death. On the 7th of IVIarch, 
he made his farewell communication to the Com- 
pany, whose affiiirs he had long superintended, 
taking an affectionate leave of its officers and 


directors. The fourth volume of his translation 
was at this time going through the press, and he 
continued as usual to correct the proof-sheets until 
.a very short time before his death. The last 
jpage which he saw was the thousandth ; the last 
[which he carefully revised, the six hundred and 
I eighty-fourth. 

Like the old philosopher of Syracuse, his fa- 
vorite studies were pursued to the very end ; but, 
unlike that ancient scholar, his end approached 
amidst no city ruined, but in a prosperous, sym- 
pathizing community, among cherished friends, by 
whom his sufferings were soothed, and every want 
anticipated. It was brought about by no violent 
blow of a brutal soldier, but by the merciful, al- 
though painful, process of disease. Early on Fri- 
day the 16th of March, 1838, it became evident 
that he was sinking ; and at about one o'clock, he 
placidly breathed his last. On the following 
Sabbath, his remains were deposited in his own 
tomb under Trinity Church, in Summer street. 
" Hg,d he lived until the twenty-fifth of the month, 
he would have just completed his sixty-fifth year." 
The life thus sketched, is full of encouragement 
to the scholar, and replete with lessons for all. 
Mr. Bowditch was a man of rare intellectual en- 
dowments ; but, had it not been for his sterling 
moral qualities, he never could have accomplished 
what he did, nor have gained so honorable a name. 
His strict integrity commanded the respect and 
confidence of everybody, while his diligence and 
perseverance enabled him to appropriate to him- 
self every intellectual good that came in his way. 
His rule was, to do one thing at a time, and to 
finish whatever he began. He did not decide 


upon a course hastily, but having decided, he did 
not hesitate. " Never undertake any thing," he 
was accustomed to say, "but with the feeling that) 
you can and will do it. With that feeling success! 
is certain, and without it failure is unavoidable." 
By concentrating his energies, he overcame diffi- 
culties which would otherwise have been insuper- 
able. By the most diligent use of every moment, 
he gained time for great achievements in learning, 
and had enough to spare for the duties of friend- 
ship and benevolence. No one could be a kinder 
parent, or a more cheerful companion. He was 
the life of the circle at home, and the delight of 
every visiter. " You saw the philosopher," says 
one who knew him, " entering with all the en- 
thusiasm of youth, into every subject of passing 
interest. You saw his eye kindle with honest 
indignation, or light up with sportive glee ; you 
caught the infection of his quick, sharp-toned, 
good-natured laugh, and felt inclined to rub your 
hands in unison with him at every sally of wit, or 
every outbreaking of mirthfulness. Let the con- 
versation turn in which way it might, he was al- 
ways prepared to take the lead ; he always seemed 
to enter into it with a keener zest than any one else. 
You were charmed and delighted ; the evening 
passed away before you were aware, and you did 
not reflect, until you had returned home, that 
you had been conversing with unrestrained free- 
dom with the first philosopher in America." It 
is pleasant to know that his library, which, in its 
particular department, has no equal in America, 
is to be preserved unbroken, and has been dedi- 
cated, by the generosity of Mr. Bowditch's family, 
to the use of the public, so far as it can be done 


without injury to the books. His modesty was 
as great as his learning ; and in this, as in almost 
every thing pei'taining to the life of a self-taught 
scholar, he will remain a notable example to those 
who may study his character. His name is one 
which will render our country illustrious among 
the nations. His life will stimulate all who 
study it, to be diligent, studious, persevering, and 


Every science is closely connected with many 
other sciences, and an advance in one is sure to be 
followed by an advance in others. Of this the 
recent improvements in the science of geography 
are a memorable illustration. It is an interesting 
fact in the history of science, that we ai*e indebted 
for an accurate knowledge of our earth to a pre- 
vious knowledge of the heavens. The wandering 
stars have taught us where stand fixed the ever- 
lasting hills. It would seem that mere curiosity 
would have long since prompted men to enlarge 
to the utmost the boundaries of geographical know- 
ledge, and to have at least determined the situation 
of places with considerable accuracy. But curiosity, 
although it has accomplished much, has had many 
things to contend with. Extensive explorations 
are attended with great cost. Men went with 
timidity — the timidity of ignorance and super- 
stition — into the regions that lay much beyond 
the bounds of civilization ; where, besides, there 
was little to tempt them, and much that was really 
formidable to deter. The condition and character 
of governments rendered them indifferent to the 
state of geographical knowledge, or incapable of 
extending it ; and, above all, want of skill in navi- 
gation hindered maritime discoveries ; and the 
absence of proper instruments and of general scien- 
tific attainments prevented an accurate determi- 
nation of what was known. The early travellers 
were for the most part merchants, and it may be 



said, generally, that geography was but a very 
humble attendant upon commerce. 

The Cape of Good Hope was not discovered 
until 1486. The celebrated voyage to India by 
Vasco de Gama, the great Portuguese navigator, 
did not take place till 1497. In the mean time, 
in 1492, Columbus had found another world. 
Knowledge advanced with rapid strides through 
new fields, but yet was neglectful of much that 
lay scattered about the old. It became general, 
but had not become accurate and severe. 

"VVe should think that few things in geogi'aphy 
would be determined sooner than the size and 
shape of well-known kingdoms, and the position 
of important places. Yet even now ignorance in 
these respects is not very uncommon. What dis- 
crepancies, for example, in fixing the position of 
towns in INIexico ! Different maps place the same 
eity at points two hundred miles distant from each 
other. How imperfectly have the coasts of even the 
old civilized nations been mapped out, until com- 
paratively modern times ! Countries which contain- 
ed all the science of the world could not accurately 
give their own shape and dimensions. Italy, be- 
fore the time of D'Anville (the earlier part of the 
eighteenth century), was thought to be consider- 
ably larger than it really is ; and that distinguished 
geographer was considered a very bold man in ven- 
turing to reduce it to proper magnitude. When the 
map of France was corrected by astronomical obser- 
vations, it was found necessary to cut off more than 
a degree of longitude along the western coast, from 
Brittany to the southern part of the Bay of Biscay, 
and more than half a degree from the shores of Lan- 
guedoc and Provence ; which led Louis say 


to the astronomers by whom the measurements 
were corrected, that " he was sorry to observe that 
their journey had cost him a large portion of his 
kingdom." South America was represented, in 
comparatively modern times, as nearly 4,500 miles 
aci'oss ; and North America, from the mouth of 
the St. Lawrence on the east, to New Albion on the 
west, as more than 9,000. California was described 
as an island. Van Diemen's Land, even after 
being surveyed by a companion of Capt. Cook, 
was considered a part of New Holland. Con- 
stantinople, or rather Byzantium on whose site it 
was built, the capital of the Easteni empire, was 
placed by the geographer Ptolemy (born A.D. 70) 
two degrees too far to the north ; which mistake 
later Arab writers, hearing that there was an error 
of two degrees, corrected by adding two degrees 
more, — thus making the city 276 miles north of 
its true position. About the year 1580, observa- 
tions were made which gave the correct position, 
or at least an approximation. Carthage, by the 
same geographer, was placed 313 miles too far 
south, and " the error was not taken notice of till 
1625." The Mediterranean Sea, instead of being 
made, as it should be, between 41 and 42 degrees 
in length, from Gibraltar to the present Scan- 
deroon, was made 62 degrees ; that is, more than 
20 degi-ees, or nearly 1,400 miles, too long. This 
mistake was not corrected till the beginning of 
the last century. The difference in longitude 
between Rome and Nuremberg was estimated in 
the fifteenth century at 620 miles ; in the seven- 
teenth century, at only 69 miles, — a difference 
considerably above 500 miles between " two of 
the best known towns in Europe." la maps of the 


sixteenth century, Ferrara in Italy, and Cadiz in 
Spain, on nearly the same parallel of latitude, 
were placed 600 miles too far apart. 

It was not until astronomy had made consider- 
able advances, that geographical errors, of which 
the above are but specimens, began to be corrected. 
The discovery of the satellites of Jupiter, in 1610, 
by Galileo, furnished an important means for 
determining longitude with accuracy. It was 
many years, however, before the requisite tables 
and calculations Avere made, and the telescope 
perfected, so as to enable astronomers to avail 
themselves of this discovery. In 1671, one of 
the first effective observations was made to deter- 
mine the difference in longitude between Paris 
and the observatory of Tycho Brahe, at Urani- 
berg, in Denmark. 

In England the name of Halley is held in high 
honor among men of science, for many attainments 
and discoveries, and, among the rest, for applying 
the principles of astronomy to geography. So 
remarkable was his early proficiency, that in 1676, ' 
at the age of twenty, he was sent to St. Helena to 
make a map of the stars in the southern hemi- 
sphere. While there, he observed a transit of 
Mercury across the disc of the sun. It occurred 
to him that this apparently trifling phenomenon 
might, by furnishing means for determining the 
sun's parallax, also furnish the elements for cal- 
culating the dimensions of the solar system. 
The transit of Venus seemed to him to afford still 
greater advantages, but that phenomenon occurs 
very rarely; one had taken place in 1639, the 
next would not happen till 1767. Halley ear- 
nestly exhorted astronomers who might then be 


alive, to observe that event. It was observed ; 
and, so far as the subject of this sketch is concern- 
ed, it is interesting to remember that, in order to 
watch it, he undertook his first great voyage, 
which, as we shall see, so much enlarged our 
knowledge of the globe. 

About the middle of the last century, the inter- 
ests of commerce prompted some of the principal 
governments of Europe to fit out expeditions of 
considerable magnitude, partly for discovery, partly 
for the purpose of establishing colonies, and partly 
for the direct purpose of trade. The interests of 
science, too, began to be regarded as of sufiicient 
consequence to be promoted at the public cost, and 
to warrant liberal expenditures. In 1764, Com- 
modore Byron was sent on a voyage of discovery 
to the southern seas, and was absent nearly two 
years. One of his two ships was sheathed Avilh 
copper, this being one of the first experiments for 
determining the value of that method of pre- 
serving the bottoms of vessels from the attack of 
worms. After his return, Capt. Wallis was sent 
out with the general design of prosecuting the dis- 
coveries still farther. He discovered the island 
Otaheite, or, as it is now generally called, Tahiti. 
Of these voyages, however, commerce was, at least, 
as prominent a cause as science. The preamble to 
Commodore Byron's instructions ran as follows : 
" Whereas nothing can redound more to the honor 
of this nation as a maritime power, to the dignity 
of the crown of Great Britain, and to the advance- 
ment of the trade and navigation t"hereof, than to 
make discoveries of countries hitherto unknown ; 
and whereas there is reason to believe that lands 
and islands of great extent, hitherto unvisited by 


any European power, may be found in the Atlantic 
Ocean, between the Cape of Good Hope and the 
Magellanic Strait, within the latitudes convenient 
for navigation, and in the climates adapted to the 
produce of commodities useful in commerce ; and 
whereas his majesty's islands, called Pepys island, 
and Falkland's Islands, lying within the said track, 
notwithstanding their having been first discovered 
and visited by British navigators, have never yet 
been sufficiently surveyed, as that an accurate 
judgment may be formed of their coasts and pro- 
ducts ; his majesty has thought fit that the 

enterprise should now be undertaken." 

The first great expedition, fitted out mainly for 
scientific purposes, was that which sailed from 
Plymouth, August 26, 1768, under the command 
of Captain James Cook. The interest of the 
civilized world has ever clung to this distinguished 
navigator, in part, on account of his great pro- 
fessional merits, and in part, on account of his 
tragic death. This last circumstance has given 
him a hold upon the popular sympathies, which 
no other navigator ever obtained. About twenty 
years after the first voyage of Cook, the French 
commander. La Perouse, emulating his fame, 
and admiring his character, exceeded his model, 
perhaps, in the sad termination of his career. He 
sailed on a voyage of discovery, and his genera- 
tion never heard of him again. For nearly forty 
years there was not the slightest clue to dispel 
the mystery which hung about his fate. But 
common minds need something tangible and 
palpable to arouse and retain their interest. In 
thousands of cottages in England and America 
were hung up rude prints of the " Death of Capt. 


Cook ;" while the mysterious fate of La Perouse, 
if we mistake not, produced, even among his 
own countrymen, its most lasting impression upon 
persons of comparatively high culture, and more 
likely to be affected by the gloomy obscurity of 
the unrevealing sea. 

James Cook was born in Yorkshire, in the 
year 1728. His father was a day laborer to a 
respectable farmer, and, when his son was two 
years old, became an under steward upon an 
estate near the village of Great Ayton. . James 
was kept at work upon the farm till he was thir- 
teen, when he was permitted to attend school. 
He studied arithmetic and bookkeeping, and is 
said to have exhibited a good deal of talent at 
figures. When a few years older, he was ap- 
prenticed to a shopkeeper, in a small fishing town 
about ten miles from AVhitby. Here he mani- 
fested good judgment and considerable skill in 
accounts, but his inclinations began to lead him 
very strongly to the sea. His master, willing to 
indulge him, gave up his indentures, and he soon 
engaged himself with the owners of some vessels 
employed in the coal trade. This navigation, 
carried on upon a coast, at some seasons of the 
year very dangerous, became from that circum- 
stance a nursery of skilful seamen. As Cook 
was diligent in his new occupation, and gave sat- 
isfaction to his masters, they favored him with 
opportunities of learning the various parts of his 
profession ; and, in the course of a few years, he 
made voyages, not only upon the immediate 
coast, but to Liverpool and Dublin, and also to 
the Baltic. 

Li 1752, he was made mate of a vessel of 400 


tons, and, in the next year, received the offer of 
being commander of the ship. This, however, he 
saw fit to decline. Impressments for the British 
navy were carried on, at this time, to a great ex- 
tent ; and either to avoid being taken contrary to 
his own consent, or for some other reason which 
does not appear, he entered on board the Eagle, a 
man-of-war of sixty guns, under the command of 
Captain (afterwards Sir Hugh) Palliser. He 
served on board this vessel with so much distinc- 
tion, that, by aid of his friends, and the strong 
recommendation of the captain, he was appointed 
master of the Mercury, a small vessel belonging 
to the squadron about to proceed to the attack 
upon Quebec. He soon joined the fleet in the St. 
Lawrence, and his talents and resolution were not 
long in making themselves perceived. 

The fleet was expected to cooperate with the 
land forces under General Wolfe ; but before this 
could be done, it was necessary to sound the river, 
so as to determine the channel. This was a diffi- 
cult task, since it must be carried on in the face 
of a sagacious and watchful foe. It required a 
union of important qualities to enable one to per- 
form the duty successfully. Cook was selected 
on the occasion, and entered upon the labor with 
accustomed resolution and skill. He carried on 
his operations in the night, and for some time was 
not perceived. At last he was discovered, and a 
large number of boats sent to cut him off. He 
fortunately became aware of the attempt in season 
to escape to the island of Orleans. There was, 
however, little time for him to spare ; since, just as 
he stepped on shore, the Indians in pursuit entered 
the stem of his boat, and took possession of it. 


His* task, however, was accomplished, and he had 
the satisfaction of laying before the admiral a full 
and accurate survey of the channel. 

After the conquest of Quebec, he was appointed 
to examine carefully the difficult parts of the river, 
which was not then familiar to the English. He 
soon was transferred to the Northumberland, the 
flag ship of the commodore at Halifax, as master. 
Notwithstanding his success thus far, he felt his 
ignorance of mathematics, and applied himself in 
the midst of his other labors, to the study of Eu- 
clid's Elements of Geometry, and, having mastered 
them, to astronomy. He also devoted himself 
more particularly to the study of hydrography, in 
which he soon had an opportunity of exhibiting his 
skill, by a coast-survey of Newfoundland, which 
had lately fallen into the power of the English, 
and which began to be regarded, especially by its 
governor, Sir Hugh Palliser, as of great conse- 
quence for its fisheries. It was chiefly from this 
governor's recommendation, that, Cook was ap- 
pointed Marine Surveyor of Newfoundland and 
Labrador ; and a schooner was placed under his 
command in order to enable him to perform his offi- 
cial duties. An account of a solar eclipse, observed 
in Newfoundland, which he transmitted to the 
Royal Society in 1766, and the longitude of the 
place as computed from it, gained him a good deal 
of credit for a knowledge of the scientific part of 
his profession. During some interval in his ser- 
vice on the northern coast of North America, he 
seems to have been upon the West India station, 
where he is mentioned as having been sent by the 
commanding officer, as a bearer of despatches to 
the Governor of Yucatan. 


In the mean time, the year 1769 was approach- 
ing, in which was to take place that transit of 
Venus, which Dr. Halley had urged upon the at- 
tention of astronomers, as of so much consequence 
in its possible relation to science. The Royal 
Society were not forgetful of their duty : they pre- 
sented an address to the king, stating the advan- 
tages of making the observation in another hemi- 
sphere, and prayed his majesty to fit out a vessel, 
and send it to the South Seas under their direction. 

This request was favorably answered, and it 
only remained to select the proper person to en- 
trust with the chief command. It was first offered 
to Alexander Dalrymple, chief hydrographer to 
the admiralty. This gentleman had already visited 
the eastern archipelago, had studied those regions 
with considerable zeal, and had shown much par- 
tiality for geographical researches. He was an 
earnest advocate also of the existence of a South- 
em continent, and early applied to the govern- 
ment to assist him in his scheipes of discovery. 
He even went so far as to compose a code of laws 
for the republic which he was sanguine of one day 
founding in those remote shores. No one was to 
be admitted to the republic who would not sub- 
scribe to this code ; and if any one dissented from 
any of the laws, he was to forfeit all his property. 
This code was so odd in many of its features, so 
manifestly impracticable, or, if not impracticable, 
so unwise, that it was pronounced " the best pos- 
sible model of the worst possible commonwealth." 

Dalrymple refused to undertake the duties re- 
quired, unless endowed with the amplest powers 
as the commander. Having never held a com- 
mission in the navy, the admiralty, remembering 


the perplexities arising from a similar arrange- 
ment on a former occasion, declined to accede to 
the demand. The hydrographer would not recede, 
and the admiralty began to look out for another 
man. Cook was proposed. All Avho knew him 
spoke of him favorably. He was of steady cour- 
age, cool, sagacious, scientific. The offer was 
made to him, and he accepted it. He was pro- 
moted to the rank of lieutenant, or as some say, of 
captain, and allowed to select his ship. Instead 
of taking a frigate, or sloop of war, he showed his 
good sense by choosing a vessel built for the coal 
trade, with whose sailing qualities he was ac- 
quainted ; which was better adapted to carrying 
the requisite stores ; was less exposed in running 
near the coasts ; was less affected by currents ; 
and, in case of necessity, could be more easily re- 
paired. It was of only three hundred and sixty 
tons burden, and he named it the Endeavour. It 
■was fitted out with great care and liberality, and, 
for the sake of better accomplishing the scientific 
purposes of the expedition, was furnished with a 
corps of scientific men. Mr. Charles Green was 
named as the astronomer to observe the ti*ansit. 
Dr. Solander went as naturalist ; and Sir Joseph 
Banks, afterwards President of the Royal Society, 
accompanied them for the sake of increasing his 
knowledge of natural history. Possessing a large 
fortune, he provided himself with draftsmen, and 
with every thing which would conduce to success 
in his favorite pursuits, and proved a very valua- 
ble accession to the company. By the advice of 
Captain "Wallis, then recently returned from his 
voyage round the world, the island of Otaheite 
(Tahiti) was fixed upon as the place for making 
the necessary observations. 


At length, on the 26th of August, 1768, they 
sailed from Plymouth. Captain Cook was about 
forty years old. He had risen to his honorable 
and important position by his own genius, and 
fidelity. Confidence, that " plant of slow growth," 
had been liberally bestowed, deserved as it was by 
a long course of faithful effort. Having touched 
at Rio Janeiro, where the governor, at a loss to 
account for the expedition unless it were sent out 
for some hostile purpose, regarded them with so 
much suspicion, that they were hardly permitted 
to step upon shore, they directed their course to 
Cape Horn. Having landed upon Terra del 
Fuego, a party advanced incautiously so far into 
the country that the night surprised them, and 
they were in the utmost danger of perishing by 
the cold. Dr. Solander, who had travelled much 
in the northern regions of Europe, advised his 
companions to resist the approach of drowsiness 
which the cold would be likely to bring on. He 
himself was among the first to feel the benefits of 
his advice : under the influence of the torpor, he 
could hardly be kept awake by his associates, who 
dragged him along, and thus only saved his life. 
Two of Mr. Banks's servants lay down to rest in 
the snow, and were found dead the next morning. 

It was a question among navigators at that 
time whether it was best to pass through the straits 
of Magellan, or round Cape Horn. Captain Cook 
took the latter course, and passed round the cape 
in thirty-four days. On the 13th of April, 1769, 
the voyagers arrived at Otaheite, and anchored in 
Matavai bay. Captain Cook immediately took 
measures to preserve the friendship of the island- 
ers. He changed names with the chief, which, 


according to the customs of the region, was a kind 
of treaty of friendship. He drew up a particular 
code for regulating the intercourse of the crew 
with the natives, marked with much good sense, 
and dictated by humanity. Tents were erected 
on shore for the sick, and an observatory es- 
tablished for watching the expected transit. As 
the day approached (the 3d of June), the anxiety 
was great lest something might occur to frustrate 
the main purpose of the expedition. Disturbance 
from the natives could perhaps be avoided, but a 
cloudy or tempestuous day they could not so easily 
guard against- Whatever precaution could be of 
any avail was carefully observed. A party was 
sent to another part of the island considerably to 
the westward of the main observatory, and still 
another sent to Eimeo, an island nearly sixty 
miles distant, so as to give as much security as 
possible. The day came, and the sun rose without 
a cloud. The observations at all the posts were 
most satisfactory, and contributed essentially to 
solve the great pi-oblem which interested the 
minds of scientific men. This transit has been 
truly said to form an epoch in the history of as- 
tronomy. Besides these observations at Otaheite, 
it was observed by the French in California, by 
the Danish at Wardhus in Lapland, by the 
Swedes at Kajaneboi'g in Finland, and by another 
party of the English at Hudson's Bay. By these 
five observations, the sun's parallax was deter- 
mined with great exactness. 

We will endeavor to make the importance of 
this understood. Suppose an object to be seen 
from two ends of a strait line, the angle formed at 
the object by these two converging lines of sight, 


is called the parallax. " The parallax of a celes- 
tial body is the angle under which the radius of 
the earth would be seen if viewed from the centre 
of that body. Suppose, when the moon is in the 
horizon at the instant of rising or setting, lines to 
be drawn from her centre to the spectator and to 
the centre of the earth ; these would form a right- 
angled triangle with the terrestrial radius, which 
is of known length ; and as the parallax or angle 
at the moon can be measured, all the angles and 
one side are given ; whence the distance of the 
moon from the centre of the earth may be com- 
puted. The parallax of an object may be found, 
if two observers under the same meridian, but at 
a very great distance from one another, observe 
its zenith distance on the same day at the time of 
its passage over the meridian. By such contem- 
poraneous observations at the Cape of Good Hope 
and at Berlin, the mean horizontal parallax of the 
moon was found to be 3,459", when the mean dis- 
tance of the moon is about sixty times the mean 
terrestrial radius, or 237,360 miles nearly." Al- 
though this method was sufficiently accurate for 
the moon, it was found not to answer for the sun, 
whose distance is so great that the slightest eiTor 
in the observation would lead to a great error in 
the results. The transit of Venus supplied the 
deficiency. " If we could imagine that the sun 
and Venus had no parallax, the line described by 
the planet on his disc, and the duration of the 
transit, would be the same to all the inhabitants 
of the earth ; but as the semidiameter of the 
earth has a sensible magnitude when viewed from 
the centre of the sun, the line described by the 
planet in its passage over his di?c appears to be 


nearer to his centre or farther from it, according 
to the position of the observer ; so that the dura- 
tion of the transit varies with the different points, 
of the earth's surface at which it is observed. 
This difference of time, being entirely the effect 
of parallax, furnishes the means of computing it 
from the known motion of the earth and Venus, 
by the same method as for the eclipses of the 
sun." * 

The transit which Cook was sent out to observe, 
lasted at Otaheite six hours ; and the difference 
between that and the duration at Wardhus, in 
Lapland, was eight minutes. From this and some 
other observations, the sun's horizontal parallax 
was found to be 8"o77, and the distance of the 
sun from the earth, about ninety-five millions 
of miles. Can it soon cease to be a matter of 
astonishment to the unlearned, that by merely 
knowing the fact that the passage of a little planet, 
in appearance simply a black speck, across the 
face of the sun, appeared to an observer in one 
hemisphere eight minutes longer than it did to an 
observer in another hemisphere, we can tell the 
distance of the sun from the earth in miles, and 
compute the dimensions of the solar system ? 

During his stay at Otaheite, Cook won the con- 
fidence of the natives, and was enabled to leam 
much of their customs and manners. After hav- 
ing completed his observations, he circumna\ir 
gated the island, and visited many othei-s in the 
vicinity. A native of high rank and considera- 
ble intelligence, named Tupia, wished to accom- 
pany the English. His request vfas readily grant- 

* Mrs. Somerville. The Connectioa of the Physical 
Sciences. 33 


ed, and he proved of much service. The group 
of islands was named by Captain Cook, the Society 
Islands, which name they have ever since re- 

Saihng thence, they made land again on the 
6th of October, and soon concluded that it must 
be New Zealand. In exploring its shores, they 
discovered a secure and capacious harbor, which 
they named Queen Charlotte's Sound. They also 
passed through the strait between the northern 
and southern island, and thus determined that this 
land was not, as formerly supposed, a part of a 
southern continent. To this strait, geographers 
have very properly given the name of the naviga- 
tor who discovered it, and who afterwards circum- 
navigated both the islands. This may be consid- 
ered his first grand geographical discovery. 

From New Zealand, the expedition proceeded 
to New Holland ; and, from the variety of new 
plants found by the naturalists in the inlet where 
they anchored, the place received the name of 
Botany Bay, a name which, in later times, is sug- 
gestive of any thing sooner than the sweet odors 
of flowers and the simplicities of rural life. Along 
the borders of this new country they jiroceeded 
for two thousand miles, exploring the coasts, and 
making a variety of observations. They had 
hardly met with an accident, when one night the 
ship struck upon some coral rocks with so much 
violence that it seemed as if it would go to pieces. 
By throwing overboard the guns and such stores 
as could be spared, she was got afloat, and, to their 
wonder, the leak did not increase. On finding a 
harbor where repairs could be made, they exam- 
ined the bottom, and found a large piece of coral 


which had broken off, and remained fixed in the 
hole which it had knocked in the timbers. But 
for this singular and providential circumstance, 
the ship would have filled and sunk as soon as she 
"was clear of the reef. 

After repairing, Cook sailed round the northern 
part of New Holland, and gave the name of New 
South Wales to the portion which he had surveyed. 
Thence by way of Batavia and the Cape, he made 
his way home, and on the 12th of June, 1771, af- 
ter an absence of nearly three years, came to 
anchor in the Downs. The latter part of the 
voyage was rendered sad by the loss of Dr. Sol- 
ander, Mr. Green, the astronomer, and many of 
the crew. But on the whole, it was considered 
that great results had been arrived at by the ex- 
pedition, not only for astronomy and geography, 
but incidentally for many other of the natural 
sciences. The name of the fortunate commander 
became at once famous. One part of his discov- 
eries led the way to another expedition. New 
Zealand was found, as before stated, not to be the 
extremity of a continent, but an island. The 
speculations relative to the great Terra Australis 
Incognita were at once revived by the announce- 
ment. It was determined to send out another 
expedition, mainly to settle the question, if possi- 
ble, of the existence of such a continent. The 
king was pleased with the proposal, and the Earl 
of Sandwich, at the head of the Admiralty, sec- 
onded it with much satisfaction. Two ships, the 
Resolution, of four hundred and sixty-two tons 
burden, and the Adventure, of three hundred and 
thirty-six, were fitted out, and Captain Cook ap- 
pointed commander. The Adventure was com- 


manded by Captain Furneaux. Naturalists and 
astronomers were chosen to have charge of the 
scientific observations, and the ships -were amply- 
stored with every thing that would conduce to the 
comfort and health of the crews, particularly with. 
those remedies which might guard against the 
peculiar ills to which the confinement of a long 
voyage rendered them liable. 

The second voyage was commenced on the 
13th of July, 1772, on which day the vessels left 
Plymouth. After an absence of more than three 
years, and having sailed more than 70,000 miles, 
the adventurous navigators cast anchor again at 
Portsmouth, Capt. Cook's ship having lost but 
one man by sickness. For the particulars of this 
interesting voyage, the reader must look to the 
complete accounts of it which have been published. 
They did not succeed in discovering a southern 
continent, but demonstrated that what had been 
mistaken for such by previous navigators, espe- 
cially the French, had no existence. Their pro- 
gress south was impeded by immense quantities 
of ice. Some of the icebergs were two miles in 
circumference and sixty feet high, and yet the 
waves ran so high as to break entirely over them. 
They found, however, to their surprise, that the 
ice islands were fresh, and hence they derived from 
them an abundant supply of pure water. From 
the time of leaving the Cape of Good Hope tiU 
they reached New Zealand, during which they 
had been at sea one hundred and seventeen days, 
Bnd had sailed 3,660 leagues, they did not see 

At New Zealand, Capt. Cook endeavored to es- 
tablish friendly relations with the chiefs, and 


placed on shore a I'am and ewe, and two goats, a 
male and female. He also stocked a garden with 
the seeds of vegetables suited to the climate. In 
December, 1773, the voyagers crossed the an- 
tipodes of London, and had the satisfaction of feel- 
ing that they were at the farthest possible point 
from home. They proceeded also to their old sta- 
tion at Otaheite, and subsequently visited the 
Friendly Islands, as Capt. Cook named them. 
He also discovered Sandwich Island, so called by 
him, after his patron, the Earl of Sandwich. He 
examined carefully some of those clusters of is- 
lands in which the Pacific abounds, to one of 
which he gave the name of New Hebrides. An- 
other island which he discovered he called New 
Caledonia, and another still, which at the time 
was entirely uninhabited, Norfolk Island. In the 
course of his exploration, he sailed far south with- 
out meeting with land, and, from the height and 
great swell of the waves, concluded there could 
be no continent in that direction, unless so near 
the pole as to make it of no use for the purposes 
of emigration or commerce. It was left for the 
American Exploring Expedition, sixty-six years 
afterwards, to determine the question of a south- 
em continent, and mark out a long outline of its 

Capt. Furneaux, who commanded the Adven- 
ture, was not equally fortunate with his superior. 
On one of the southern cruises the vessels parted 
company, and did not meet again during the voy- 
age, although they reached England within a day 
of each other. Many men were lost from sick- 
ness on board the Adventure ; and, what was more 
melancholy, a midshipman and nine men were 


surprised by the savages at New Zealand, and in- 
humanly destroyed. Capt. Furneaux, in the 
course of his voyage, partially explored Van Die- 
man's land, and decided, as he thought satisfacto- 
rily, that it formed a part of New Holland. 

This expedition was thought to have been 
remarkably successful, and the success was as- 
cribed, in a great measure, to the prudence, good 
judgment, and resolution of the commander. No 
previous expedition could boast of half the success, 
or half the security. It was a great thing, by 
care in preserving the health of the crew, to take 
away the anxiety with which the great mortality 
of preceding maritime expeditions had invested 
those voyages. Cook was elected Fellow of the 
Royal Society, and on the evening when he was 
first present, " a paper was read containing an ac- 
count of the method he had taken to preserve the 
health of his crew during the long voyage." He 
was also I'cwarded, by having bestowed upon him 
the Copley gold medal, which was annually given 
to the author of the best experimental paper. 
This medal was not conferred, however, till he 
had sailed on his third and last voyage, and he 
never received tidings of the honor. The govern- 
ment bestowed upon him more substantial proofs 
of the satisfaction with which his efforts were re- 
garded. He was raised to the rank of Post Cap- 
tain, and appointed one of the captains of the 
Greenwich hospital. By his second voyage, the 
question of the Southern continent was put to rest 
for a time ; but the maritime energy of the British 
nation, proverbial for its ceaseless activity, only 
revived more directly the question, which had fre- 
quently been agitated, of a north-west passage. 


A reward of £20,000 was offered to any one 
who should discover a passage to the Pacific, 
in the direction of Hudson's and Baffin's bays. 
In order to obtain information, Capt. Phipps was 
despatched towards the north, and penetrated to 
within 9h degrees of the pole. The Admiralty, 
with Lord Sandwich at their head, held consulta- 
tions with the most experienced captains relative 
to the proposed expeditions. On one of these oc- 
casions, Capt. Cook was present. His hardships 
and services on former occasions had been so 
many and so prolonged, that no one thought of 
forcing him to leave bis quiet retreat, and again 
brave the dangers of unknown seas. But the 
conversation on the benefits which were likely to 
follow from the hoped-for discoveries, so excited 
his old ardor, that he lost no time in offering his 
services as commander in this new field of peril 
and duty. They were readily and gladly ac- 
cepted. The act of Parliament, offering the re- 
ward of £20,000, was so amended as to include 
public ships, as well as private, and to allow the 
attempt to be made from the Pacific Ocean, as 
well as the Atlantic. 

The Resolution and the Discovery were the 
two ships fitted out on this occasion, the latter of 
which was commanded by Capt. Edward Clarke. 
Mr. Bayley, the astronomer, and Mr. Anderson, 
the naturalist, who had accompanied Capt. Cook 
on his former voyage, were selected to go with 
him again. Omai, a native of the Society Islands, 
who had accompanied Capt. Furneaux to England, 
was sent back loaded with gifts, and with what- 
ever might tend to the improvement of the natives 
of his island. On the 12th of July, 1776, the ex- 


pedition sailed from Plymouth. At the Cape of 
Good Hope, they took on board a large freight of 
live stock for the supply of the islands in the 
South Seas. Among them were horses, cows, 
sheep, pigs, and goats. Sailing from the Cape, 
and passing the islands which Cook named Prince 
Edward's, they came to Kergtielen's Land, which 
they soon found to be only an island instead of a 
continent, as its discoverer had supposed. On 
shore, they discovered a bottle, hung by a wire to 
the rocks, in which was a parchment, with an in- 
scription, declaring that Kerguelen had visited 
the shore in 1772 and 1773. This bottle. Cook 
left as it was, having added the date of his voy- 
age and the name of his ships. 

On reaching New Zealand, they were much 
surprised at the shyness of the natives. It was 
soon explained. The natives, seeing Oraai, who 
was on board the Adventure at the time of the 
massacre to which we have referred, supposed 
that Cook had retui'ned to take vengeance. With 
singular and wise forbearance, he signified to 
them that his purposes were friendly, and left 
with them, at his departure, some pigs and goats. 
At one of the islands which they afterwards vis- 
ited, Omai found three of his countrymen, whose 
brief history indicates, perhaps, the manner in 
which many of those small islands have been peo- 
pled. A party of about twenty had started in a 
canoe, to pass from one island to another near it, 
when they were overtaken by a tempest and 
driven out to sea. "Without any thing to eat or 
drink, their numbers soon diminished, and finally 
the canoe was overset and all but four perished. 
These clung to the sides of the frail bark and 


were finally rescued, having been driven by the 
tempest six hundred miles. At Omai's request, 
Capt. Cook offered to carry them back ; but they 
declined to go. Thgir friends had nearly all per- 
ished before their eyes, in the storm, and there 
were few inducements for them to return. Omai 
was settled at the island chosen for him, a house 
erected for his dwelling, by the ship's carpenters, 
and his treasure of European manufacture landed. 
He is said to have conducted himself well, and 
died a natural death about two years afterwards. 

On the 8th of December, the voyagers lost 
sight of the Society Islands, and, sailing north- 
ward, on the 18th of January, 1778, discovered 
an island of considerable size, and subsequently 
two others in the vicinity. The natives were 
struck with great astonishment at the sight of 
their unknown visitants, and by their actions 
showed that they had never before seen a Euro- 
pean. They regarded Capt. Cook as a superior 
being, and, when he came on shore, fell on their 
faces. It was a matter of great surprise to the 
voyagers, that the language of the natives was 
the same as that of the Society Islands, nearly 
three thousand miles distant, and of New Zealand 
still farther off. 

To this group, now discovered for the first 
time, Capt. Cook, in compliment to his patron, 
gave the name of Sandicich Islands. Of all 
lately discovered groups, this has become by far 
the most important and most interesting. Pos- 
sessing less fertility than many other Pacific 
islands, they have become known by their surpris- 
ing conversion to Christianity, and their rapid ad- 
vancement in civilization, and national impor- 


tance. Their geographical position has been one 
cause of this, but the most prejudiced cannot help 
acknowledging that to Christianity they really owe 
aU that they have become, ^his alone has given 
them strength to resist the corruptions which the 
■wickedness of the whites has usually entailed 
upon the savages who have come into connection 
with them. This alone has given them the intelli- 
gence and elevation, which, in less than seventy 
years from their discovery, has assigned them an 
established position among the civilized nations 
of the earth. Commerce certainly has not done 
it, — such an effect has never been found else- 
where to follow the efforts of trade ; their natural 
talent has not done it, for in native capacity they 
do not exceed the inhabitants of a thousand other 
barbarous islands ; but the power of the gospel, 
aiding and directing all other energies, has been 
the moving cause of this singular and remarkable 
result. At present, the amount of property in the 
whalers alone which annually visit their ports is 
said to be at least 3,000,000 of dollars. 

After remaining at the islands ten days, and 
carrying on a friendly barter in old iron, nails, 
and other articles of considerable value to the 
natives, which were given for provisions, Capt. 
Cook sailed for the American coast. This he 
reached without difficulty, and entered the deep 
harbor of Nootka Sound. On the first night, he 
anchored in water nearly five hundred feet deep, 
and subsequently found the shore so bold that 
his ships were fastened to the trees by ropes. 
It is in this part of the voyage, that the name of 
the celebrated traveller, Ledyard, appears in con- 
nection with that of the more celebrated navi^a- 


tor. Born in Connecticut, and educate^ in part 
at Dartmouth college, after a variety of adven- 
tures, Ledyard had found his way to England, 
and embarked in the expedition with Cook, as 
corporal of the marines. 

From Nootka Sound, where the natives showed* 
evidently that they had come in contact with Eu- 
ropeans,* the expedition made its way towards 
Behring's Straits, which they found to extend far- 
ther east than delineated in the maps of the time. 
In passing through the straits, both shores were 
visible at the same time. Behring himself, 
when he sailed through, saw but one shore, and 
was not aware of the extent of his discovery. 
They advanced as far north in the month of Au- 
gust as the ice would permit them, and Cook 
then determined to return to winter at the Sand- 
wich Islands, and resume his exploration in the 
following year. 

On arriving, on their way back, at the island 
of Onalaska, on the north-west coast, they found 
decided evidences of the presence of Europeans. 
The natives were in possession of tobacco, and 
had also several blue linen shirts and drawers. 
While there, a young chief, attended by two In- 
dians, who were supposed to be Asiatics, brought 
as a present to Capt. Cook, a salmon pie. He 
also gave him to understand by means of signs, 
that there were other white men in the country 
who had come in ships much larger than the na- 
tive canoes. It was determined to find out the 
truth of these intimations ; but, as the expedition 

*Two silver spoons were among the articles obtained 
from the natives by trade. They had stolen them from 
some Spanisli navigators four years before. 


might be attended with risk to one who should un- 
dertake u alone, while yet the ships could not wait 
for the slower movements of a large party, it was 
thought proper to send a volunteer. This volun* 
teer was Ledyard. He immediately px'epared to 
accompany the young chief. The voyage was 
not particularly disagreeable, excepting the last 
part of it, when he was transported across an arm 
of the sea in a skin canoe. The canoe was made 
after the Esquimaux plan, covered at the top, and 
with two holes for the rowers ; their passenger 
was carried by stowing him away at the bottom, 
where he was obliged to lie in darkness, in perfect 
ignorance where he was going, and without power 
to extricate himself in case of any accident. He 
succeeded in his enterprise, found out that the 
unknown white men were Russians in search of 
furs, and returned to the ship accompanied by three 
of the principal men. By the inspection of their 
charts, Capt. Cook was satisfied of the extent and 
originality of his discoveries. 

On returning to the Sandwich Islands, which 
the ship reached in November, Cook discovered 
Maui or Mowee, which he had not before visited, 
and soon afterwards, the still larger island of 
Owhyhee, or, as it is now written, Hawaii. As 
this was apparently of more consequence than 
any other island of the group, Capt. Cook spent 
seven weeks in sailing round it, and surveying its 
coasts,- and at last came to anchor in Kealakeakua 
bay, on its western side. " To our disappointment 
in the expedition to the north," says Capt. Cook, 
in the conclusion of his journal, which from his 
then impending fate has acquired a peculiar inter- 
est, " To this disappointment we owed our hav- 


ing it in our power to revisit the Sandwich 
Islands, and to enrich our voyage with a discov- 
ery, which, though the last, seemed in many 
respects to be the most important that had hith- 
erto been made by Europeans throughout the 
extent of the Pacific Ocean." 

As the vessels anchored in the harbor, the 
natives flocked to the shore in prodigious crowds. 
Three thousand canoes, filled with at least five 
times as many people, were counted in the bay. 
The intercourse between them and the ships was 
peaceful and harmonious. Cook visited the 
shore with much ceremony. Chiefs, with poles as 
insignia of authority, made way for his boat 
among the canoes, and another set of officers re- 
ceived him at the shore. "The people," says 
Ledyard, who was present, — "upon the adjacent 
hills, upon the houses, on the stone walls, and in 
the tops of the trees, hid their faces, while he 
passed along the opening ; but he had no sooner 
passed them, than they rose and followed him. 
But if Cook happened to turn his head, or look 
behind him, they were down again in an instant and 
up again as soon, whenever his face was reverted 
to some other quarter. This punctilious perform- 
ance of respect in so vast a throng, being reg- 
ulated solely by the accidental turn of one man's 
head, and the transition being sudden and short, 
rendered it difiicult even for an individual to be 
in the proper attitude. If he lay prostrate but a 
second too long, he was pretty sure not to rise 
again until he had been trampled upon by all be- 
hind him ; and if he dared not to prostrate himself, 
he would stumble over those before him who did. 
This produced a great many laughable circura- 


stances; and, as Cook walked very fast to get from 
the sand into the shades of the town, it rendered 
the matter still more difficult. At length, however, 
they adopted a medium, that much better answered 
a running compliment, and did not displease the 
chiefs ; this was to go upon all fours, which was 
truly ludicrous among at least ten thousand peo- 
ple." Capt. Cook was thus conducted to the morai, 
a sacred enclosure into which the people were not 
allowed to enter. He obtained from the chiefs, 
upon certain conditions, a place to erect an obser- 
vatory and fit up his astronomical instruments. 

For some days a good understanding was kept 
up on both sides. Cook was invited to dine with 
the king, and, in return, exhibited some fireworks 
on ghore, to the great wonder and even terror of 
the natives. 

In the course of a few weeks, the respect of the 
islanders for their unknown visitors began to di- 
minish. The novelty had passed away ; and the 
sailors, by the exhibition of too many vices, gave 
palpable evidence that they were but men, and 
men, too, not deserving of any excessive venera- 
tion. Contests began to occur between the two 
parties : the natives were thievish ; the sailors, 
rather harsh and overbearing. The good under- 
standing between Cook and the king does not 
seem to have been diminished at all, and the 
great navigator appears not to have been aware 
that he was essentially losing ground with the na- 
tives. "Wanting wood for his vessels, on one oc- 
casion, with singular and for him remarkable dis- 
regard for the superstitious feelings of the natives, 
he offered two iron hatchets for the fence which 
surrounded the sacred morai. The chiefs refused 


the price in astonishment. The fence was then 
taken by force, and the hatchets left, as if with a 
show of justice ; but the people were much exas- 
perated at the sacrilege, for the morai was the 
depository of the dead, a place where the images 
of their gods were kept, and solemn ceremonies 

After remaining in the bay for nearly three 
weeks, recruiting the crew, and laying in a stock 
of provisions, they prepared to sail on another 
cruise. Water only was wanted ; an^, not being 
able to obtain any of a good quality, they deter- 
mined to seek it at some of the adjacent islands. 
Not long, however, after the ship had left the bay, 
a violent storm came on, by which one of the 
masts of the Resolution was so much injured as 
to render it necessary to return immediately in 
order to repair it. It was evident, in. sailing to 
their anchorage again, that the feelings of the na- 
tives had greatly changed. Not a single canoe 
greeted their second arrival, and the villages were 
comparatively destitute of inhabitants. Provis- 
ions came in, but inferior in quantity and quality ; 
■while a higher price was demanded, and the na- 
tives, particularly the chiefs, were desirous to get 
knives and dirks in exchange. They became 
bolder in their thieving. On one occasion, a na- 
tive snatched up the iron tongs and Other tools at 
the forge of the armorer, while he was at work, 
and, rushing to the ship-side, threw himself into 
the water, where he was taken up by a canoe, and 
safely conveyed to the shore. The party that was 
sent to regain the articles were maltreated, and re- 
turned unsuccessful. A short time after this, the 
lai-ge cutter of the Discovery was stolen in the 


night. This was so grave an offence that it be- 
came necessary to take immediate measures to 
check the audacity of the islanders. The captains 
of the two ships concluded, on consultation, that it 
would be best to get possession of the person of the 
king, and keep him prisoner until the boat should 
be restored. This method had been pursued by 
Cook with success on former occasions. Capt. 
Gierke, being very low in health, begged to be 
excused fi'om actively engaging in the affair, and 
asked that his duties might be transferred to his 
superior, to which Capt. Cook assented, and im- 
mediately made provision for landing. Boats were 
despatched to the mouth of the harbor, to pre- 
vent communication from other places. Cook 
went on shore in his pinnace with a guard of ten 
men, beside the boat's crew, while the launch and 
the small .cutter accompanied him. 
• Upon landing, some of the usual marks of re- 
spect were manifested ; but various circumstances 
indicated a hostile state of feeling. The women 
and children had left the town. Capt. Cook him- 
Belf, although not fully aware of the state of feel- 
ing, was evidently somewhat suspicious. On 
reaching the king's house, he endeavored to per- 
suade the friendly old man to go with him to the 
ship. This the king at last consented to do ; but 
the chiefs, wlio began to assemble in great num- 
bers (Ledyard says there were three or four 
hundred people, although, in passing through the 
town, they did not see twenty), when they found 
out what w^as wanted, held him back. In the 
mean time, one of the boats stationed in the har- 
bor, seeing a canoe put off from the shore, fired a 
shot in order to stop it, and unfortunately killed a 

JAMES COOK. 401o' 

chief of distinction who was on board. The news 
of this disaster was brought to the crowd, while 
they were in the state of excitement occasioned 
by the attempt to take the king, apd added great- 
ly to their exasperation. Capt. Cook and the 
guard were now retreating to the boats, the king 
still in company. On approaching the Avater, 
however, it became evident that it would be im- 
possible to succeed in getting him on board. His 
wife threw her arms about his neck, and, with the 
aid of two chiefs, compelled him to sit down. 

"While in this situation, a chief with an iron 
dagger was seen to approach, as if with the de- 
sign of stabbing Cook. The Indian was pointed 
out to him, and he fired at him with a blank car- 
tridge. The man looked at his mat which was 
cast about him, and seeing that it was not burnt, 
felt secure and rushed forward a second time, 
when he was shot down. We shall give the re- 
mainder of the account in the words of Ledyard, 
who was present as corporal of the marines, and 
whose account is probably as accurate as can be 
obtained : — 

" Cook, perceiving the people determined to 
oppose his design, and that he should not succeed 
without further bloodshed, ordered the lieutenant 
of marines, Mr. Phillips, to withdraw his men and 
get them into the boats, which were then lying 
ready to receive them. This was effected by the 
sergeant ; but the instant they began to retreat, 
Cook was hit with a stone, and perceiving the 
man who threw it, shot him dead. The officer in 
the boats, observing the guard retreat, and hear- 
ing this third discharge, ordered the boats to fire. 
This occasioned the guards to face about and fire, 


and the attack became general. Cook and Mr. 
Phillips were together a few paces in the rear of 
the guard, and, perceiving a general fire without 
orders, quitted Teraiobu [the king], and ran to 
the shore to put a stop to it ; but not being able to 
make themselves heard, and being closely pressed 
upon by the chiefs, they joined the guard, who 
fired as they retreated. Cook, having at length 
reached the margin of the water, between the fire 
of the boats, waved with his hat for them to cease 
firing and come in ; and while he was doing this, 
a chief from behind stabbed him Avith one of our 
iron daggers, just under the shoulder-blade, and it 
passed quite through his body. Cook fell with 
his face in the water, and immediately expired. 
Mr. Phillips, not being able any longer to use his 
fusee, drew his sword, and, engaging the chief 
whom he saw kill Cook, soon despatched him. 
His guard, in the mean time, were all killed but 
two, and they had plunged into the water, and 
were swimming to the boats. * * * He himself, 
being wounded, and growing faint from loss of 
blood and excessive action, plunged into the sea 
with his sword in his hand, and swam to the boats." 
The English accounts vary but little from this. 
They cast great blame upon the lieutenant who 
commanded the launch, for pushing off the shore, 
instead of drawing in to the assistance of the at- 
tacked party. By his own account, he misunder- 
stood the signal of Cook in waving his hat. By 
this unfortunate mistake, however, the pinnace 
became so ci'owded, that the marines were unable 
to act efficiently for the protection of their com- 
rades and commander. According to the same 
authority, Capt Cook expostulated with the na- 


tives for their conduct ; and when approaching the 
pinnace, and covering the back of his head with 
his hand, to shield it from the stones, was struck 
with a heavy club, which so nearly stunned him 
that he fell into the water, when he was stabbed 
in the back by another Indian, and, after strug- 
gling for some time in the water, was finally de- 
spatched by another blow from a club. A part 
of his bones were finally recovered, and committed 
to the deep with the usual ceremonies and honors. 

Thus unfortunately perished one of the most 
sagacious, enterprising, and successful navigators 
of his own, or of any other times. He was tem- 
perate, patient of toil and hardship, of cool and 
determined courage, and great presence of mind, 
of plain manners, and humane disposition. It is 
possible that 'the confidence arising from great 
success rendered him for once too little observant, 
or too regardless, of the perils to which he was 
exposed. But his faults he expiated with his 
life, while his virtues have gained for the whole 
world a rich and lasting reward. 

The expedition, soon after this melancholy 
event, sailed again for the north, but did not effect 
any great discovery. Capt. Gierke, who had 
thrice circumnavigated the globe, died at Kam- 
schatka. The naturalist, Mr. Anderson, had died 
at Onalaska the year before. From the north- 
west coast they sailed to China, and reached home 
after an absence of four years and nearly three 
months. War had broken out between England 
and France before they returned ; but, to the great 
honor of the latter, the cruisers were ordered to 
treat the scientific expedition as a friendly power. 

In order to have before us at one view the 


merit of the discoveries of Capt. Cook, it is worth 
while to recapitulate them, and to consider 
how much they have affected the commercial in- 
terests of civilized nations. He discovered New 
Caledonia and Norfolk Island, New Georgia and 
Sandwich Land, and many smaller islands in the 
Pacific ; surveyed the Society Islands, the 
Friendly Islands, and the New Hebrides; de- 
termined the insularity of New Zealand ; cir- 
cumnavigated the globe in a high southern lati- 
tude, so as to decide that no continent existed 
north of a certain parallel; explored the then 
unknown eastern coasts of New Holland for two 
thousand miles ; determined the proximity of 
Asia to America, which the discovei'er of Behring's 
Straits did not perceive ; and discovered (or re- 
discovered, if it be true that a Sparfish navigator 
had seen them before, of which there is some 
slight evidence) the most important group in the 
Pacific ; and, at any rate, so brought the Sandwich 
Islands to the knowledge of the civilized world, as 
to make their value appreciated. What perhaps 
is quite as important and quite as much to his 
honor, " his surveys afford the materials of accu- 
rate geography." He was such a vigilant and 
untiring observer, and availed himself so constant- 
ly of all the improvements suggested by science, 
that his errors are very few, and he laid down the 
configuration of the coasts with so much correct- 
ness as to have attracted the notice, and received 
the willing praise, of the most accomplished sea- 
men who have succeeded him. It was probably 
owing to him, that an English colony was estab- 
lished in New Holland, and possibly, although the 
influence is more remote, that an English settle- 


ment has been made in New Zealand. The fur 
trade took its origin with his last voyage, and his 
intercourse with the islands of the Pacific laid 
the foundation of the abundant navigation which 
now cheers those distant seas. His home was 
upon the sea, and no man has done more to make 
every ocean familiar to others. 

On the north side of the little bay of Keala- 
keaua, in Hawaii, the natives point out a rock, 
jutting into the water so as to afford a convenient 
landing place, as the spot where Capt. Cook felL 
A stump of a cocoa-nut tree is near by, where 
they say he expired. The top of the tree has 
been carried to England, and is rightfully treas- 
ured among the monuments of enterprise and 
courage in the Museum of Greenwich Hospital. 
On the stump, which has been capped with cop- 
per for its preservation, isan inscription, of which 
the following is a part : — 







A.D. 1778. 


William Falconer, one of the most truthful 
" poets of the sea," was the son of a poor Edin- 
burgh barber. He was born in 1730. Two other 
children, who with himself made up the family of 
his father, were deaf and dumb. His education, 
as lie himself said, was confined to reading, writ- 
ing, and a little arithmetic ; but he eagerly grasped 
after whatever knowledge lay in his way. He 
was, however, early shut out from even his small 
opportunities for learning, by being sent to sea on 
board a Leith merchant ship. To this, he is sup- 
posed to refer in a passage in one of his poems. 

" On him fair Science dawn'd in happier hour, 
Awakening into bloom young Fancy's flower ; 
But soon adversity, with freezing blast, 
The blossom wither'd, and the dawn o'ercast, 
Forlorn of heart, and by severe decree, 
Condemn'd reluctant to the faithless sea." 

Before he was eighteen years of age, he had 
risen to the rank of second mate in the Britannia, 
a vessel engaged in the Levant trade. In one of 
his voyages in this vessel, he was shipwrecked 
off Cape Colonna, in Greece ; and it is here that 
he lays the scene of " The Shipwreck," the poem 
by which he will long be remembered. In 1757, 
he was promoted to the Ramilies man-of-war; 
and as an opportunity was here afforded of im- 
proving his literary taste, he is said to have studied 
with great assiduity. Certain it is that he gained 
a very good knowledge of the French, Spanish, 



and Italian languages, and learned something of 
the German. In the Ramilies, he was subjected 
to a disaster of more magnitude even than his 
former shipwreck. AVhile making for Plymouth, 
the ship struck upon the shore ; and of a crew of 
734 men, only 26 escaped with their lives ; among 
these was the poet. He had already given some 
evidence of poetic talent, and, two years after 
this, in 1762, he published the Shipwreck, which 
he dedicated to the Duke of York. It was sub- 
sequently greatly enlarged and improved, and has 
taken rank among the classical poems of England. 
Few poets have had such opportunities for obser- 
vation of nautical life as Falconer enjoyed, and 
fewer still have had the experience which would 
enable them to commemorate so fearful a disaster. 
The poem seems to be a picture of real life. 
The sights and sounds of the sea, — the gentle 
calm at sunset, when the ocean 

" Glows in the west, a sea of living gold ! " — 

the still evening, — the silent, sombre midnight, — 
the stories and songs of the sailors, — the call of 
the boatswain, — the sudden rise of the tempest, 
— the groaning, heaving, straining, of the storm- 
driven ship, and its final destruction upon the ro- 
mantic promontory of old Sunium, — these are 
but a few of the points to which the genius of the 
poet directs the mind of the reader. The scene 
of the poem is not among the least happy circum- 
stances of the work. It is laid in one of the most 
charming portions of the shore of a country 
whose bare name is suggestive of almost all that 
is beautiful or profound in ancient literature and 
art, and of much that is exciting in the history of 


modem freedom. " In all Attica," says Byron, 
" if we except Athens itself and Marathon, there 
is no scene more interesting than Cape Colonna. 
To the antiquary and artist, sixteen columns [the 
remains of an ancient temple] are an inexhaust- 
ible source of observation and design : to the phi- 
losopher, the supposed scene of some of Plato's 
conversations will not be unwelcome ; and the 
traveller will be struck with the beauty of the 
prospect over ' isles that crown the -^gean deep ;' 
but for an Englishman, Colonna has yet an addi- 
tional interest, as the actual spot of Falconer's 
Shipwreck. Pallas and Plato are forgotten in 
the recollection of Falconer and Campbell — 

* Here in the dead of night, by Lonna's steep, 
The seaman's cry was heard along the deep.' " 

A peculiarity of this poem is, that, while its 
poetic merits are great, it is a safe guide to prac- 
tical seamen. It shows a thorough acquaintance 
with the art of navigation, and is replete with di- 
rections which have been approved by naval offi- 
cers of distinguished character. Falconer was 
himself a thorough seaman. The " Shipwreck," 
in the words of one of his biographers, " is of 
inestimable value to this country, since it contains 
within itself the rudiments of navigation ; if not 
sufficient to form a complete seaman, it may cer- 
tainly be considered as the grammar of his pro- 
fessional science. I have heard many experienced 
officers declare, that the rules and maxims deliv- 
ered in this poem, for the conduct of a ship in the 
most perilous emergency, form the best, indeed 
the only opinions which a skilful mariner should 
adopt." This very characteristic, which adds 


much to the reality of the scene described, has 
been thought to detract a little from the interest 
with which a landsman would read the poem. 
To his ears, " bow-lines " and " clue-lines," " clue- 
garnets," "jears," "halliards," and "spilling- 
lines," sound technical and barbarous, while to the 
sailor they afford so many proofs of the capacity 
of the poet, and the truth of his story. "We shall 
give a few quotations to show the character of the 
poem. He thus introduces the doomed vessel to 
the reader : — 

" A ship from Egypt, o'er the deep impell'd 
By guiditig winds, her course for Venice held; 
Of famed Britannia were the gallant crew, 
And from that isle her name the vessel drew. 

Thrice had the sun, to nile the varj-ing year, 
Across th' equator roU'd his flaming sphere. 
Since last the vessel spread her ample sail 
From Albion's coast, obsequious to the gale. 
She o'er the spacious flood, from shore to shore, 
Unwearying, wafted her commercial store. 
The richest ports of Afric she had view'd. 
Thence to fair Italy her course pursued ; 
Had left behind Trinacria's burning isle. 
And visited the margin of the Nile. 
And now that winter deepens round the pole, 
The circling voyage hastens to its goal. 
They, blind to Fate's inevitable law, 
No dark event to blast their hopes, foresaw ; 
But from gay Venice soon expect to steer 
For Britain's coast, and dread no perils near." 

The ship arrives at Candia, evening comes on, 
and midnight : — 

" Deep midnight now involves the livid skies, 
While infant breezes from the shore arise ; 
The waning moon, behind a watery shroud. 
Pale glimmcr'd o'er the long protracted cloud j 


A mighty ring around her silver throne, 
With parting meteors cross'd portentous shone. 

Now Morn, her lamp pale glimmering on the sight, 
Scatter'd before her van reluctant Night. 
She comes not in refulgent pomp arrayed, 
But sternly frowning, wrapt in sullen shade. 
Above incumbent vapors, Ida's height. 
Tremendous rock ! emerges on the sight. 
North-east the guardian isle of Standia lies, 
And westward Fresehin's woody capes arise. 
"With winning postures, now the wanton sails 
Spread all their snares to charm th' inconstant gales ; 
The swelling stud-sails now their wings extend, 
Then stay-sails sidelong to the breeze ascend. 
While all to court the wandering breeze are placed ; 
With yards now thwarting, now obliquely braced." 

The ship at last leaves the harbor, and sails 

" The natives, while the ship departs the land, 
Ashore with admiration gazing stand. 
Majestically slow, before the breeze. 
In silent pomp she marches on the seas ; 
Her milk-white bottom casts a softer gleam, 
While trembling through the green translucent stream. 
The wales, that close above in contrast shone, 
Clasp the long fabric with a jetty zone. 
Britannia, riding awful on the prow. 
Gazed o'er the vassal wave that roU'd below ; 
Where'er she moved, the vassal waves were seen 
To yield obsequious, and confess their queen. 
High o'er the poop, the fluttering wings unfurl'd 
Th' imperial flag that rules the watery world. 
Deep blushing armours all the tops invest, 
And warlike trophies either quarter drest; 
Then tower'd the masts ; the canvass swell'd on high ; 
And waving streamers floated in the sky. 
Thus the rich vessel moves in trim array, 
Like some fair virgin on her bridal day." 
Thus, like a swan she cleaves the watery plain; 
The pride and wonder of the ^gean main." 


Their hopes of a prosperous voyage were soon 
ehaken. The breeze freshens into a gale; the 
clouds become blacker and blacker; the main- 
sail splits ; the crew are all upon deck, and all 

" His race perform'd, the sacred lamp of day 
Now dipt in western clouds his parting ray; 
His sick'ning fires, half-lost in ambient haze,' 
Refract along the dusk a crimson blaze ; 
Till deep immerged the languid orb declines, 
And now to cheerless night the sky resigns ! 
Sad evening's hour, how different from the past ! 
No flaming pomp, no blushing glories cast ; 
No ray of friendly light is seen around ; 
The moon and stars in hopeless shade are drown'd." 

To relieve the laboring vessel, the guns are 
thrown overboard ; but the relief is but temporary. 
She springs a leak, all hands man the pumps, but 
the leak gains upon them. The mizen-mast is 
cut away. Still the storm swept them along, by 
" Falconera's rocky height," and towards the main 
land of Greece itself. 

" Now, borne impetuous o'er the boiling deeps, 
Her course to Attic shores the vessel keeps ; 
The pilots, as the waves behind her swell. 
Still with the wheeling stern their force repel. 

So they direct the flying bark before 
Th' impelling floods, that lash her to the shore. 
As some benighted traveller, through the shade, 
Explores the devious path with heart dismay'd ; 
While prowling savages behind him roar. 
And yawning pits and quagmires lurk before. 
But now Athenian mountains they descry. 
And o'er the surge Colonna frowns on high; 
Beside the cape's projecting verge are placed 
A range of columns, long by time defaced ; 


First planted by devotion to sustain, 

In elder times, Tritonia's sacred fane. 

Foams the wild beach below, with maddening rage, 

Where waves and rocks a dreadful combat wage. 

And now, while wing'd wth ruin from on high, 
Through the rent clouds the ragged lightnings fly, 
A flash, quick glancing on the nerves of light, 
Struck the pale helmsman with eternal night. 

The vessel, while the dread event draws nigh, 
Seems more impatient o'er the waves to fly ; 
Fate spurs her on ; thus issuing from aiar, 
Advances to the sun some blazing star; 
And, as it feels th' attraction's kindling force. 
Springs onward with accelerated course. 
With mournful look the seamen eyed the strand. 
Where Death's inexorable jaws expand ; 
Swift from their minds elapsed all dangers past. 
As, dumb with terror, they beheld the last. 

The genius of the deep, on rapid wing, 
The black eventful moment seem'd to bring ; 
The fatal sisters on the surge before. 
Yoked their infernal horses to the prore." 

The ship is near its end. 

" Uplifted on the surge, to heaven she flies. 
Her shattered top half-buried in the skies. 
Then headlong plunging thunders on the ground, — 
Earth groans ! air trembles ! and the deeps resound. 
Her giant bulk the dread concussion feels, 
And quivering with the wound, in torment reels. 
So reels, convulsed with agonizing throes, 
The bleeding bull beneath the murderer's blows. 
Again she plunges : hark ! a second shock 
Tears her strong bottom on the marble rock. 
Down on the vale of Death, with dismal cries, 
The fated victims shuddering roll their eyes 
In wild despair, while yet another stroke. 
With deep convulsion, rends the solid oak; 
Till, like the mine, in whose infernal cell 
The lurking demons of destruction dwell, 
At length asunder torn, her frame divides ; 
And crashing, spreads in ruin o'er the tides." 


If we bad not extended these extracts almost 
too far already, it would be pleasing to give more . 
of tbe separate pictures of beauty in wliich the 
poem abounds. Of the crew, but three were 
saved, and Falconer was one of them. His ge- 
nius has invested Cape Colonna with an interest 
not its own, and the wreck of the Britannia may 
be remembered as long as the destruction of the 
Spanish Armada. 

After publishing this poem, Falconer, by the 
advice of the Duke of York (to whom, as before 
mentioned, he had dedicated it), left the merchant 
service, and entered the Royal George as mid- 
shipman. After this ship was paid off, rather 
than wait until his time of service would allow 
him to become lieutenant, he accepted the ap- 
pomtment of purser on board the Glory frigate. 
It was not long before this vessel was laid up in 
ordinary, and the poet (who in the mean time was 
married to an accomplished lady) engaged in va- 
rious literary pursuits. The most important of 
them was the compilation of a Universal Marine 
Dictionary, a work which has been approved by 
the professional men of the navy, as of great 

Falconer is said to have been in person slen- 
der and somewhat below the middling height, with 
a weather-beaten countenance, and an address 
rather awkward and forbidding. His mind was 
inquisitive and keenly observing. He was prone 
to controversy and satire, but full of good humor, 
and, like most of his profession, frank, generous, 
and kind. Having removed to London, he seems 
to have suffered from poverty. Entering into the 
politics of the times, he wrote a satire on Lord 


Chatham, Wilkes, and Churchill, which failed. 
In 1768, Mr. Murray, a bookseller, proposed that 
he should unite with him as a partner in business, 
which it is probable that he would have done, 
had he not been appointed to the pursership of 
the frigate Aurora, bound to India. The frigate 
was to carry out three gentlemen, as supervisors 
of the affairs of the East India Company, and he 
was promised the office of private secretary ; so 
that his prospects seemed favoi'able. The ship 
sailed from England, Sept. 30, 1769, touched at 
the Cape as is usual, and thenceforward was never 
heard of. She probably foundered in the Mo- 
zambique , Channel, and no "tuneful Arion" was 
left to tell the melancholy fate of the lost. It 
seems singular that he who most eloquently and 
beautifully commemorated the perils of the sea, 
should himself have been so often subjected to 
them ; and should, at last, be mysteriously gathered 
to the profound and secret caverns of the deep, as 
if the waves were greedy of the whole of him who 
had so well sung of their smiles and their wrath. 


One of tlie most distinguished names in the 
modern medical profession is that of John Hunt- 
er. He was born at Kilbride, in Scotland, July 14, 
1728, the youngest of ten children. His father's 
family was respectable, cultivated their own small 
estate, and will be long remembered for having 
produced two men, who at the same time attained 
the very highest eminence in the same profession ; 
William Hunter, an elder brother of John, having 
been hardly less distinguished than the subject of 
the present notice. John, as the youngest child, 
was unfortunately brought up with great indul- 
gence, and after the death of his father, which 
happened when he was ten years of age, exhibited 
the effects of it in a wayward disposition, and an 
aversion to any thing like regular study. It is I 
said that he was with difficulty taught the ele-7 
ments of reading and writing ; and the attempt to | 
teach him Latin was abandoned after a short trial, ' 
with the unsatisfactory assurance of an entire 
want of success. The time came, however, when 
his devotion to country amusements was necessa- 
rily interrupted, and he Avas obliged to determine 
what he should do for a living. His father's prop- 
erty was small, and the greater part of it had been 
given to the eldest son. John arrived at the age 
of nearly twenty years, without giving signs of 
any peculiar thoughtfulness, and with no determi- 
nation as to the future. His sister had marx-ied a 
carpenter or cabinet-maker in Glasgow ; and John, 



seeking employment for his hands rather than his 
head, became his apprentice. How long, under 
favorable circumstances, he would have continued 
to make chairs and tables, it is impossible to say ; 
but the early failure of his master in business, 
threw him out of employment. Very probably 
J he considered this a great misfortune, but it was 
[the occasion of his subsequent distinction. Such 
'a mind as his would not indeed, under any cir- 
cumstances, have remained always harnessed to 
mere mechanical pursuits ; but he might have 
toiled long before coming to understand his own 
capacities, had he not been compelled to look else- 
where for the means of a daily livelihood. 

Sometime before this, William Hunter, though 
at first destined by his family for the church, had 
turned his attention to medicine; and, having 
studied very successfully with the celebrated Dr. 
CuUen, had gone to London with a recommenda- 
tion to Dr. James Douglass. Though early de- 
prived of this kind friend by his death, he deter- 
mined, after some discouragements and difficulties, 
to give instruction in anatomy and surgery. In 
these departments he obtained great reputation, 
and at the time that John was thrown out of bus- 
iness, was in the height of his fame. The success 
of the elder brother determined the younger to 
apply to him for assistance. His ambition was 
perhaps somewhat awakened to escape from the 
unsatisfactory life he had led. He therefore wrote 
to his brother, requesting permission to visit Lon- 
don; expressing the hope that he might render 
him some assistance in his anatomical pursuits, 
and at the same time suggesting, that if his appli- 
cation was unsuccessful, he might enter the army. 


The answer to the letter was cordial, and con- 
tained an invitation to proceed immediately to 
London, He accordingly set off on horseback, 
and arrived in the metropolis, the scene of his fu- 
ture most distinguished labors, in September, 

The mind which had so long lain dormant, 
seemed now to awake. The scenes by which he 
was surrounded, the lectures which he heard, the 
conversations of his brother, and of other intelli- 
gent men, all conspired to excite his interest in a 
study, which he pursued until his death, forty-five 
years afterwards, with ever-increasing enthusiasm 
and unrivalled success. 

He reached London about a fortnight before 
his bi'Other began his course of lectures ; and Doc- 
tor Hunter, as we are informed, immediately 
gave him an arm to dissect so as to exhibit the 
muscles, at the same time instructing him how it 
should be done. The raw apprentice succeeded 
beyond expectation. Another arm was given 
him to be prepared in a manner more delicate 
and difficult. The arteries, as well as the muscles, 
were to be preserved and exhibited. This was 
done so much to the satisfaction of Dr. Hunter, 
that he assured his brother of success as an anat- 
omist, and that he should not Avant employment. 

Fi'om this time his progress was most rapid. 
Mr. Cheselden, at that time extremely distin- 
guished as a surgeon, allowed him to attend at 
Chelsea Hospital, during the summer of 1 749 ; and 
by the next winter, he was adjudged by his 
brother capable of teaching anatomy. To this 
he devoted himself,' and thus greatly relieved 
Dr. Hunter, whose increasing business left him 


very little tinpe to attend to his pupils. The next 
year hq was equally assiduous in attendance upon 
the hospitals, and allowed no difficult operation 
to escape his notice. In 1753, he entered St. 
Mary's Hall, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner, 
though with what purpose hardly appears evident, 
since he did not at all relax his professional stud- 
ies. During the winter of 1755, his brother ad- 
mitted him to a partnership in his lectures. Pie 
devoted himself at this time, and for years subse- 
quently, to the study of human anatomy, and not 
only acquired all that was previously known of 
the wonderful workmanship of our bodies, but 
carried his researches into fields before unthought 
/of. The preparations which he made for the uses 
\of the lecture room and the museum, were objects 
jof general admiration at that time, when such 
I works were comparatively unknown. At the same 
time he laid the foundation of another branch of 
knowledge very imperfectly studied before, by the 
diligent pursuit of which he had " placed himself, 
for many years before his death, by universal ac- 
knowledgment, at the head of living anatomists, 
and was regarded, indeed, as having done more 
for surgery and physiology than any other inves- 
tigator of these branches that had ever lived." 

This great study has been since called compar- 
ative anatomy. Finding many things in the hu- 
Iman body difficult to be understood, he began to 
compare the structure with that of inferior ani- 
mals, where the similar parts were more simple. 
It was his object in this, to compreliend more 
thoroughly the human economy and the general 
laws of life. To this he was gradually led, not 
knowing indeed the wide fields which were open- 


ing before hira, but ever pursuing his way with 
the greatest enthusiasm mingled with the utmost 
care. His time, his labor, his fortune, as fast as 
he acquired any, were devoted to this purpose. 
While his income was yet small, he purchased a 
piece of ground at Brompton, near London, and 
built a house to contain his collection. The most 
familiar animals were sometimes of the greatest 
consequence to him in his researches, but he also 
was anxious to obtain those which w-ere rare. 
For this purpose he purchased such foreign ani- 
mals as came in his Avay, entrusted them to 
showmen to keep until they died, and, by way of 
compensation, received of them in return the 
bodies of other animals which he could not obtain 
when living. In this way there was a constant 
reciprocation of favors between himself and the 
keeper of the wild beasts in the Tower, and also 
the proprietors of other menageries in town. 

By these pursuits, added to the fatigue of deliv- 
ering lectures and attending to private students, 
his health became so much impaired that he was 
advised to go abroad. Accordingly, having re- 
ceived the appointment of surgeon on the staff, 
he went with the army to Bellisle, and served 
there and in Portugal till the close of the war in 
1763. In this school he obtained his knowledge 
of gun-shot wounds, a subject upon which he af- 
terwards published a treatise in connection with 
his remarks on the blood. On returning to Lon- 
don, he devoted himself again with undiminished 
assiduity to his former pursuits. He kept several 
animals of different kinds upon his premises, in 
order the better to observe their habits and in- 
stincts. He was sometimes put in great peril by 


these creatures, ^A'hic^l were not always of the 
gentler kind. " Among them," says his biogra- 
pher, " was a small bull which he had received 
from the queen, with which he used to wrestle in 
play, and entertain himself with its exertions in 
its own defence. In one of these conflicts the 
bull overpowered him and got him down ; and, 
had not one of the servants accidentally come by 
and frightened the animal away, this frolic would 
probably have cost him his life." " On another 
occasion, two leopards, that were kept chained in 
an out-house, had broken from their confinement, 
and got into the yard among some dogs, which 
they immediately attacked. The howling this 
produced alarmed the whole neighborhood. Mr. 
Hunter ran into the yard to see what was the 
matter, and found one of them getting up the wall 
to make his escape, the other surrounded by the 
dogs. He immediately laid hold of them both, 
and carried them back to their den ; but as soon 
as they were secured, and he had time to reflect 
upon the risk of his own situation, he was so 
much affected that he was in danger of fainting." 
His time was now fully occupied. It is said by 
/one of his eulogists, that he habitually worked 
(twenty hours out of the twenty-four. Cei-tainly 
he allowed himself but four or five hours for sleep. 
His house was the constant resort of students who 
were attracted by his fame. Some of these be- 
came afterwards much distinguished for their at- 
tainments and skill. None of them perhaps has 
been more widely known than Edward Jenner, 
the discoverer of the powers of vaccination as a 
preventive of the small pox. Jenner remained 
during his life a friend and correspondent of Mv. 


Hunter ; and it is not improbable, as has been 
suggested, that we are in a great degree indebted 
for that most beneficent discovery, to the " love 
of science, and the spirit of research, kept alive in 
the intelligent pupil by the precepts and example 
of the great master." 

In February, 1767, Mr. Hunter was elected a 
fellow of the Royal Society. That he might turn 
this honor to the greatest account, he prevailed 
on two of the members, Dr. George Fordyce and 
Mr. Cummings (an eminent watchmaker), to go 
with him, after the regular meetings of the society, 
to some coffee-house, for the purpose of more ex- 
tended philosophical discussion. This voluntary 
meeting was soon joined by other distinguished 
members, among whom were Sir Joseph Banks, 
Dr. Solander, Dr. Maskelyne (the eminent math- 
ematician and astronomer), and Mr. Watt, of 
Birmingham, so celebrated for his discoveries and 
improvements connected with the steam engine. 

During this year, he was so unfortunate as to 
break the great tendon which extends from the ) 
calf of the leg to the heel, and is called the tendo 
AcMllis. While confined by this accident, he de- 
voted his attention very carefully to the subject 
of broken tendons ; so ready was he to seize upon 
circumstances apparently adverse, to aid him in 
discoveries in his favorite science. 

He was married in 1771, to Miss Home, the 
eldest daughter of Mr. Home, the surgeon to 
Burgoyne's regiment of light horse. But, al- 
though the cares of his family increased, and his 
private practice as well as public duties made 
such continual demands upon his time, yet he de- 
voted great attention to his already large coUec- 


tion. The best suite of rooms in his house was 
filled with his preparations; and to pursuits in 
connection with them, he regularly devoted the 
hours of every morning, from sunrise until eight 
o'clock, as well as other parts of the day in which 
he was not otherwise occupied. The facts in anat- 
omy and physiology which he established, it would 
not be possible in this sketch to state ; but they 
■were such as to place him greatly in advance of his 
age, and to give him undoubtedly the first rank 
among modern anatomists, physiologists, and sur- 

With the extension of his reputation came the 
multiplication of testimonials to his learning and 
genius. In 1776, he was appointed Surgeon Ex- 
traordinary to his Majesty. In 1781, he was 
chosen member of the Royal Society of Science 
and Belles Lettres at Gottenberg; and in 1783, 
member of the Royal Society of Medicine and the 
Royal Academy of Surgery at Paris ; and in 1786, 
was appointed deputy surgeon general to the army. 
We mention these circumstances simply to show 
the estimation in which he was held by his con- 
temporaries ; for although such testimonies are but 
secondary evidences of the real wortli of those 
who receive them, yet they are deserving of no 
small consideration as coming from the highest 
scientific talent which the world possessed. 

As Mr. Hunter spared no expense to make as 
complete as possible the collection to which he 
devoted so much of his time, lavishing indeed 
upon it and other professional pursuits nearly all 
his income, he fortunately felt it necessary, espec- 
ially after a severe illness, in 1776, to leave it in 
such a state of arrangement, that his family, after 


his decease, should be able to dispose of it for 
something like its full value. He obtained, in 
1783, a new and larger house than the one he 
had previously occupied; and erected on an adja- 
cent lot, a large building having a room fifty- 
two feet long and twenty-eight wide, with a gal- 
lery all round, and lighted from the top. In this 
he placed his museum. His name became so cel- 
ebrated in the department of comparative anato- 
my, that almost every new animal brought to the 
country was shown to him, many were given to 
him, and of those that were for sale he commonly 
had the refusal. A young elephant had been pre- 
sented to the queen ; it died, and the body was 
handed over to Mr. Hunter for examination. 
Electrical eels were brought to England from 
Surinam. He obtained some specnnens, and pub- 
lished an account of them in the Philosophical 
Transactions. Animals as different as the whale 
and the honey-bee, the rhinoceros and the indus- 
trious ant, occupied his attention, as parts of the 
great animate kingdom, which, in some points, 
resembled each other. It being impossible to pre- 
serve the form and natural appearances of many 
of his specimens, he kept a di-aughtsman in his 
house, whose labors might be always under his 
eye, and whose professional skill might be entirely 
devoted to this one peculiar field. At the time 
of his death, the preparations amounted to more 
than ten thousand ; arranged, says one of his biog- 
raphers, so as " to expose to view the gradation' 
of nature, from the most simple state in which 
life is found to exist, up to the most perfect and 
most complex of the animal creation — man 
himself." The extreme beauty of these prepara- 


tions is said to be apparent even to the unlearned, 
and " their scientific value is such as to render 
the collection one of the most precious of its kind 
in the world. It is certainly one of the most 
splendid monuments of labor, skill, and munifi- 
cence, ever raised by one individual." 

In the spring of 1786, Mr. Hunter had a severe 
illness, from the effects of which he seems never 
to have entirely recovered ; he remained sub- 
ject to affections of the heart upon any occasion 
which excited his mind or demanded great bod- 
ily exertion. The peculiarities of his disease, 
which was in some respects novel and interesting, 
are very fully detailed by his biographer, the 
symptoms having been described by himself with 
the greatest coolness and precision. His death 
was very sudden, on the IGth of October, 1793. 
After having, in his private room, succeeded much 
to his satisfaction in completing a delicate prep- 
aration, he went to St. George's Hospital, according 
to his custom. Here something occurred which 
considerably irritated him. He endeavored to 
repress his feelings ; and going into an adjoining 
room, as he was turning to address one of the 
physicians present, he gave a groan, and dropped 
down dead. 

Of a noble and distinguished Spanish painter 
it was said " he died poor and famous." Mr. 
Hunter was certainly famous ; and if he did not 
die poor, he neither died rich. He left little be- 
sides his collection, which after a time was pur- 
chased by the British government for £15,000, 
and subsequently given, under certain conditions, 
to the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 
His public spirit constantly encroached upon his 


professional income ; and though receiving during 
the later years of his life several thousand pounds 
a year, he had not the disposition nor the faculty 
to keep what he got. To the poor and distressed, 
he gave not only medical assistance, but, if neces- 
sary, pecuniary aid. A brief note to his brother, 
sent by the hands of one who had applied to him 
for professional advice, illustrates his character 
and practice : " Dear Brother, — The bearer is / 
desirous of having your opinion: I know nothing / 
of his case ; he has got no money and you don't ■ 
want any, so that you are well met." 

To gratify his friends, he allowed a portrait of 
himself to be painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 
It was engraved by an artist of the name of 
Sharp, and the engraving has become of consider- 
able note in the history of the art. When La-W 
vater saw it, he said, " This man thinks for him-' 

John Hunter is a memorable example of the 
results of genius, aided by extreme diligence and 
determination, and directed to one great end. 
The scientific value of his researches was not un- ■ 
derstood by his contemporaries : perhaps it is not 
too much to say, they were not fully compre- 
hended by himself. Pie did not know how far he 
was in advance of his own generation. For par- 
ticular knowledge on these points, the reader must 
be referred to the extended biographies of this 
remarkable man, and to the opinions which are 
coming to be more and more fully entertained 
ana expressed by later writers on medical science. 
Of his efforts in one department, a recent distin- 
guished writer has remarked, " He found surgery 
a mere mechanical art, hardly emancipated from 


/its connection with the barbers ; he left it a beau- 
< tiful science, inferior to none in rank and interest, 
1 or in the capability of alleviating human suffer- 
I ings. * * * AVe could well spare the writings of 
any surgeon excepting Hunter ; they would hard- 
ly be missed; but if his researches and writings 
were obliterated, and their influence withdrawn, 
the very heart's blood of surgery would be lost.* 
His mind was large, generous, and noble ; and 
with the virtues, he had some of the faults of 
which such minds are capable. It should also be 
said that even his profound and original powers 
could never rise entirely above the misfortune of 
his neglected early education. He could never 
become a finished writer or speaker. Indeed he 
was so sensible of his deficiencies as a lecturer, 
that he is said to have habitually taken thirty 
drops of laudanum, before meeting his audience. 
This was a heavy penalty to pay to early neglect, 
but is not without its serious lesson to those who 
would trust to native genius while they disre- 
garded its diligent cultivation. We reverence 
, the genius of John Hunter ; we should not rever- 
ence it the less and might delight in it the more, 
had it been freed from the clogs of an imperfect 
education. As it is, we pay the most willing 
tribute to the perseverance and effort, the single- 
ness of purpose, and unwearied diligence, which 
could triumph over so many obstacles, and make 
such wide and noble acquisitions. 

* Wm. Lawrence, Esq., T.R.S. 


Ix no one of the learned professions, perhaps, 
can so many examples be found of eminence, at- 
tained after a youth of unassisted struggle, as in 
that of medicine. The late President Dwight, of 
Yale College, was in the habit of giving the class 
under his charge, a brief sketch of the life of Dr. 
Smith, among others, to encourage them in sur- 
mounting difficulties. From an origin quite hum- 
ble, and circumstances very adverse, he raised 
himself to the head of two distinguished medical 
schools (one of which he was the means of found- 
ing), and to a rank in his profession equal to that 
of any one in New England. 

Nathax Smith was born of respectable parents, 
in the town of Rehoboth, Mass., on the 30th of 
September, 1762. His father soon removed to 
Chester, Vermont, where the boy grew up with 
the ordinary advantages for learning afforded by 
the common country schools, while his time was, 
for the most part, spent upon his father's farm- 
He was, however, frequently exposed to the hard- 
ships attendant upon all pioneers in a new coun- 
try. While in pursuit of wild game, he was on 
one occasion left by his companions at some dis- 
tance from home with a small supply of provis- 
ions. His stock failed him before they returned, 
and a sudden thaw rendered it impossible to 
travel. He was obliged to remain several days 
with nothing to eat but the flesh of the animals 
he had killed. With great difficulty he was at 



last enabled to reach a house ; but the result of 
his exposure was a severe fit of sickness, which, 
confined him for many months. During the lat- 
ter years of the revolutionary war, he enlisted in 
the Vermont militia, and was stationed on the 
borders of the State to repel the incursions of the 
Indians. In this service he endured the hard- 
ships common to the early settlers, in their pecu- 
liarly harassing warfare against a peculiarly art- 
ful and cruel foe. "When at home, he was an in- 
dustrious laborer on the farm, except when he 
taught a school during the winter months. 

Thus he lived till he was twenty-four years 
old, when an event occurred, unimportant in it- 
self, which led to an entire change in his life. 
Dr. Josiah Goodhue, the most distinguished sur- 
geon in the region, happened to perform a surgi- 
cal operation, at which Mr. Smith was present. 
Upon other spectators, this scene produced no 
uncommon effect ; but in him it excited a curios- 
ity to know more of the structure of the human 
frame, and the laws of life. It is generally true 
that the causative impulses of human actions 
come from within and not from without. Circum- 
stances merely afford an opportunity for the ge- 
nius to display itself. Why were not the others 
present on the occasion referred to, incited to the 
same course of study as Mr. Smith ? He soon 
requested Dr. Goodhue to receive him as a stu- 
dent ; but that gentleman, after inquiring into his 
previous attainments, and learning how small they 
were, firmly though kindly declined to accede to 
his request. He told him that the profession of 
medicine was low, that one reason of it was the 
imperfect education of its practitioners, and the 
only way to elevate it was to encourage those 


young men alone to engage in it who were prop- 
erly qualified. The Doctor, however, kindly added 
that he would receive Mr. Smith as a student, if 
he would put himself under some qualified in- 
structor, and learn enough to enable him to enter 
the freshman class at Harvard University. 

This wise advice, which might have discouraged 
any but one determined from the first to be thor- 
ough in his profession, did not deter Mr. Smith 
from his course. After studying a suflScient time 
with the Rev. Mr. "Whiting, of Rockingham, Vt. 
he became a pupil of Dr. Goodhue, with whom he 
continued three years. A friendship was formed 
between master and pupil during this time, 
founded upon mutual respect, which continued 
without change till the death of the latter. 

After leaving the office of Dr. Goodhue, Mr. 
Smith, to whom we must now give the title of 
Dr., established himself as a physician in Cornish, 
N. H. AVe are not informed what was his suc- 
cess during these his first years of professional 
life ; but presume it was much the same with that 
of other young men, who with little aid from 
friends are obliged to fight their way to respecta- 
bility and distinction, against the ignorance and 
prejudices of those on whom they have to depend 
in part for reputation and support.* 

* We remember to have heard an anecdote of Dr. Smith, 
which illustrates his shrewdness and determination. Not 
long after he established himself at Cornish, and while he 
was patiently waiting for some requisition upon his pro- 
fessional services, a company of young men, standing about 
the tavern door, on the evening of the fourth of July, and 
rather more than commonly excited, saw a poor lame 
goose in a flock, feeding upon the green, — (when was a 
flock of geese ever seen in which there was not at least one 


After practising a few years, feeling probably 
his need of more ample instruction than he had 
received, he repaired to Harvard University, and 
attended the lectures on medicine and surgery; 
while he also availed himself of the opportunity 
to increase his knowledge of natural philosophy, 

lame onel) — and immediately determined to have some 
sport with the new doctor. Accordinjrly they despatched a 
messenger with all haste to inform Dr. Smith, that a pa- 
tient, who had unfortunately broken his leg, was waiting 
for him at the tavern. Not a moment was to be lost, and, 
taking with him all the necessary apparatus, he hastened 
to obey the summons. As he drew near the house, and 
saw the preparation for his reception, his quick mind began 
to suspect a trick ; but he proceeded without hesitation to 
the door, where, amid the ill-concealed tittering of the crowd, 
he met tlie inn-keeper, who, entering fully with his customers 
into the joke, informed him that the patient Avas within. 
Accordingly, preceded by the tavern-keeper, and followed 
by the crowd, ready to burst with delight at the anticipated 
surprise and chagrin of the doctor, he entered the great 
hall of the house, where sure enough the goose was ex- 
tended in all honor upon a bed. The doctor, without hes- 
itation or the least show of surprise, advanced to the bed, 
and having with scrupulous care examined the broken 
liiiib, prepared his splints, reduced the fracture, and bound 
it up in the most scientific manner. He then, with extreme 
gravity, directed the tavern-keeper to pay particular atten- 
tion to the patient, on no account to suffer him to be moved 
from the bed for at least a week, but to feed him plentiful- 
ly with Indian meal and water. He then as gravely took 
his leave. Thus far all was pretty well, although matters 
were a little sober to be sure. The next day, however, the 
joke became really quite serious ; when a liberal bill for 
professional services was sent to the inn-keeper, and to his 
mortification he found he was obliged to pay it. The affair 
was soon known, and the Doctor found himself suddenly in 
possession of that reputation which in Yankee land always 
attaches to one who evidently knows how to take care of 
himself. Men began to respect him, and the foundation of 
a good practice was quite unexpectedly laid. 


and of other subjects necessary to his profession, 
in which his education had been most defective; 

After receiving the degree of Bachelor of Med- 
icine, he returned again to resume his practice at 
Cornish, and, besides that, to devise some method 
of raising the character of the medical profession 
in the part of the country where he lived. The 
majority of physicians, in the larger part of New 
Hampshire and Vermont, were uneducated and 
without skill. In process of time, the medical 
institution in connection with Dartmouth College 
was planned; and, in 1798, Dr. Smith was ap- 
pointed Professor of Medicine. For twelve years 
he was the only professor in the school. The 
resolution required by this undertaking will be 
evident when it is remembered, that he had, al- 
most literally, to create «very thing needed in the 
institution. There was no chemical apparatus, 
no anatomical preparations, no medical library, 
no building for lectures and operations, and no 
funds for obtaining these requisites. It was not 
till after his exertions had made the school a 
blessing to the community, and had gained for it 
a wide celebrity, that the hand of the legislature 
♦was stretched out in charity. The number of pu- 
pils was not at first large ; but, during the last 
years that he remained at Hanover, averaged 
about sixty. 

After removing from Cornish to his new situa- 
tion in connection with Dartmouth College, he 
resolved to fit himself still more thoroughly for 
the responsible station which he held ; and accord- 
ingly he again left his practice, and spent a year 
in Great Britain, principally in attending the lec- 
tures at Edinburgh, where Dr. Black, the cele- 


brated Professor of Chemistry, then very aged, 
and the younger Monro, were attracting pupils by 
their discoveries and their lectures. He also 
spent some time in the hospitals of London, 
Thus prepared with confidence in his own attain- 
ments, he returned to diffuse his knowledge whei'e 
it was most needed. The influence of the institu- 
tion which he was so prominent a means of estab- 
lishing, it would be very difficult fully to estimate. 
It has sent out nearly eight hundred physicians, 
who have gradually taken the places of their less 
skilful predecessors, so that the profession in 
New Hampshire and Vermont ranks as high for 
attainment and general excellence as in any part 
of the country. The school has gone on with 
general prosperity, numbering among its pupils 
some of the most distinguished physicians in the 
land, and, up to the present time, keeping pace 
with the rapid advancement of medical knowl- 
edge, and, as far as possible, helping it forward. 

In the autumn of 1813, Dr. Smith, having been 
previously invited to the medical institution just 
established in connection with Yale College, re- 
moved to New Haven. His sphere of labor was 
perhaps by this change somewhat enlarged, and, 
it may be, rendered more agreeable. His life was 
not less active than before, since he was frequent- 
ly called to the adjoining States, as well as to the 
distant parts of his own. He also gave another 
course of lectures at Dartmouth, one at the Uni- 
versity of Vermont, and two courses at Bruns- 
wick, Maine. About the middle of July, 1828, 
he was seized with a severe illness, from which 
he seemed never entirely to recover. During 
the months of autumn he remained in an enfeebled 


state, although he continued to perform the labo- 
rious duties of his profession. About the first of 
January, 1829, he was attacked with a severe 
influenza; and although this yielded in part to the 
appropriate remedies, yet on the 13th of the 
month, there were slight symptoms of paralysis. 
These increased until the 26th of the month, 
when he died, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. 

It is not the object of these brief sketches to 
eulogize the subjects of them, or we might dwell 
at greater length on the character and peculiar 
professional ability of Dr. Smith. In many re- 
spects, his life is full of instructive lessons. Hav- 
ing decided, although at a comparatively late 
age, on his profession, he devoted himself to it 
with untiring energy. He was determined to be 
thorough, and spared neither pains nor expense 
to make himself so. And in this he had no one 
to assist him. He was obliged almost entirely to 
depend upon his own exertions for the means of 
education ; but, instead of resting satisfied on this 
account Avith imperfect knowledge, he seemed 
only the more anxious to obtain a thorough ac- 
quaintance with the mysteries of his profession, 
and submitted the more readily to a course which 
was at that time almost unknown in New England. 

It would certainly have been according to the 
common course of things, for the young practition- 
er in an obscure country village, to make the at- 
tainments of his professional brethren in the im- 
mediate vicinity, his standard of excellence. It 
would not have been thought singular, if he had 
assiduously devoted himself to enlarging his prac- 
tice, and gaining the most liberal pecuniary re- 
ward. That he did neither of these things, but 


loved science better than the rewards of science, 
and looked beyond the narrow horizon of his 
neighborhood, in order to leani the discoveries of 
the most distinguished medical men in the world, 
and find out all that the wisest ct)uld teach, is in 
itself a mark of an uncommon understanding. 
He was not mercenary: he was not narrow 
minded. By the course he pursued, he certainly 
acquired less wealth than he might otherwise have 
obtained, but he made himself " the father of 
medical science in two states ; while the influence 
of his instructions was felt, in a greater or less 
degree, throughout the whole of New England." 
" He did more," it has been said, " than any 
other man ever did to extend medical and sur- 
gical knowledge in the nortliern states." 

One trait of character which was of great service 
to him, and which deserves to be imitated, was his 
spirit of wise enterprise. He was not a schemer, 
not in any sense a visionary ; but as he was never 
contented with the knowledge which he possessed, 
so he was ready to forward any scheme for the 
improvement of others. The active and fatiguing 
labors of his profession did not prevent him from 
pursuing those plans which promised a wide, al- 
though distant, good. While he was sustaining 
every department of the medical college at Han- 
over, he was engaged in an extensive medical and 
surgical practice, which led him over rough coun- 
try, which he travei'sed, almost always on horse- 
back, in all seasons and all weathers. 

His mind was naturally strong and sagacious, 
and he became not merely the propagator of the 
opinions of others, but the originator of new meth- 
ods of treating dangerous disorders, and of per- 


forming diSicult operations in surgery. He was 
assiduous in care of the sick, and extremely be- 
nevolent to the poor. To all his patients his at- 
tentions were delicate, tender,- and unwearied. 
"Their faces brightened, and their spirits were 
roused at his approach, not more by the relief 
which they expected, than by the kindness with 
which it was afforded. He watched at their bed- 
side by day and by night, administering to all 
their wants, and performing the offices of a kind 
friend, as well as of a skilful physician." That 
he died without property, is of itself a proof of the 
zeal witJi which he devoted himself, regardless of 
the cost, to enlarging the bounds of his favorite 
science. By his acquaintance with medical men, 
as well as by lectures to the various schools with 
which he was connected, he exerted a very con- 
siderable influence upon the literature of his pro- 
fession ; although, while living, he was not much 
known as an author. He will be long remembered 
among those who have trampled early discourage- 
ments under foot, and risen to eminence in spite 
of them, by the force of their own determination ; 
who, with small means, created in part by their 
own ingenuity and energy, have made large at- 
tainments, and have accomplished great good. 


James Ferguson was bom in the year 1710, 
a few miles from the village of Keith, in Banff- 
shire, Scotland. His parents, as he informs us, 
were in the humblest condition of life (his father 
being merely a day laborer), honest and religious. 
It was his father's practice to teach his children 
himself to read and write, as they successively 
; reached what he deemed the proper age ; but 
/James was too impatient to wait till his regular 
\ turn came. While his father was teaching one 
J of his elder brothers, James was secretly occupied 
1 in listening to what was going on ; and, as soon 
^ as he was left alone, used to get hold of the book 
and labor diligently in endeavoring to master the 
lesson which he had thus gone over. Being 
ashamed, as he says, to let his father know in 
what manner he was engaged, he was accustomed 
to apply to an old woman, who lived in a neigh- 
boring cottage, to solve his difficulties. In this 
way he actually learned to read tolerably Avell be- 
fore his father had any suspicion that he knew 
his letters. His father, at last, very much to his 
surprise, detected him, one day, reading by him- 
self, and thus discovered his secret. When he 
/was about seven or eight years of age, a simple 
j incident occurred, which seems to have given his 
mind its first bias to what became afterwards its 
favorite kind of pursuit. The roof of the cottage 
having partly fallen in, his father, in order to 
raise it again, applied a beam to it, resting on a 



prop in the manner of a lever, and was thus en- 
abled, with comparative ease, to produce what 
seemed to his son quite a stupendous effect. This 
circumstance set our young philosopher thinking; 
and after a while it occurred to him that his fa- 
ther, in using the beam, had applied his strength 
to its extremity, and this, he immediately con- 
cluded, was an important circumstance in the mat- 
ter. He proceeded to verify his notion by exper- 
iment ; and having made several levers which he 
called bars, soon not only found that he was right 
in his conjecture, as to the importance of applying 
the moving force at the point most distant from 
the fulcrum, but discovered the rule or law of the 
machine ; namely, that the effect of any form or 
weight made to bear upon it, is always exactly 
proportioned to the distance of the point on which 
it rests from the fulcrum. "I then," says he, 
" thought that it was a great pity, that, by means 
of this bar, a weight could be raised but a very 
little way. On this, I soon imagined that by pull- 
ing round a wheel, the weight might be raised to 
any height, by tying a rope to the weight, and 
winding a rope round the axle of the wheel ; and 
that the power gained must be just as great as the 
wheel was broader than the axle was thick ; and 
found it to be exactly so, by hanging one weight 
to a rope put round the wheel, and another to the 
rope that coiled round the axle." The child had 
thus, it will be observed, actually discovered two 
of the most important elementary truths in me- 
chanics — the lever, and the wheel and axle ; he 
afterwards hit upon others ; and, all the while, he 
had not only possessed neither book nor teacher 
to assist him, but was without any other tools than 


a simple turning lathe of his father's, and a little 
knife wherewith to fashion his blocks and wheels, 
and the other contrivances which he needed for 
his experiments. After having made his discov- 
eries, however, he next, he tells us, proceeded to 
write an account of them ; thinking his little work, 
which contained sketches of the different machines 
drawn with a pen, to be the first treatise ever 
composed of the sort. When, some time after, a 
gentleman showed him the whole in a printed 
book, although he found that he had been antici- 
pated in his inventions, he was much pleased, as 
he was well entitled to be, on thus perceiving that 
his unaided genius had already carried him so far 
into what was acknowledged to be the region of 
true philosophy. Ferguson was employed in 
some of his early years as a keeper of sheep, in 
the employment of a small farmer in the neigh- 
borhood of his native place. He was sent to this 
occupation, he tells us, as being of a weak body ; 
and while his flock was feeding around him, he 
used to busy himself in making models of mills, 
spinning-wheels, &c. during the day, and in study- 
ing the stars at night, like his predecessors of 
Chaldea. "When a little older, he went into the 
service of another farmer, a respectable man 
called James Glashan, whose name well deserves 
to be remembered. After the labors of the day, 
young Ferguson used to go at night to the fields, 
with a blanket about him, and a lighted candle, 
and there, laying himself down on his back, pur- 
sued for long hours his observations on the heav- 
enly bodies. " I used to stretch," says he, " a 
y thread with small beads on it, at arms-length, be- 
] tween my eye and the stars ; sliding the beads 


upon it, till they hid such and such stars from my 
eye, in order to take their apparent distances from 
one another ; and then laying a thread down on 
the paper, I marked the stars thereon by the beads. 
My master at first laughed at me ; but when I 
explained my meaning to him, he encouraged me 
to go on ; and, that I might make fair copies in 
the day time of what I had done in the night, he 
often worked for me himself. I shall always have 
a respect for the memory of that man." 

Having been employed by his master to carry 
a message to Mr. Gilchrist, the minister of Keith, 
he took with him the drawings he had been mak- 
ing, and showed them to that gentleman. Mr. 
Gilchrist upon this put a map into his hands, and 
having supplied him with compasses, ruler, pens, 
ink, and paper, desired him to take it home with 
him, and bring back a copy of it. " For this 
pleasant employment," says he, " my master 
gave me more time than I could reasonably ex- 
pect ; and often took the threshing-flail out of my 
hands, and worked himself, while I sat by him in 
the barn, busy with my compasses, ruler, and pen." 
Having finished his map, Ferguson carried it to 
Mr. Gilchrist's ; and there he met Mr. Grant, of 
Achoynaraey, who offered to take him into his 
house, and make his butier give him lessons. " I 
told Squire Grant," says he, " that I should re- 
joice to be at his house, as soon as the time was 
expired for which I was engaged with my present 
master. He v^ery politely ofiered to put one in 
my place, but this I declined." When the period 
in question arrived, accordingly he went to Mr. 
Grant's, being now in his twentieth year. Here 
he found both a good friend and a very extraor- 


dinary man, in Cantley the butler, who had first 
fixed his attention, by a sun-dial, which he hap- 
pened to be engaged in painting, on the village 
school-house, as Ferguson was passing along the 
road, on his second visit to Mr. Gilchrist. Dial- 
ing, however, vras only one of the many accom- 
plishments of this learned butler ; who, Ferguson 
assures us, was profoundly conversant both with 
arithmetic and mathematics, played on every 
known musical instrument except the harp, un- 
derstood Latin, French, and Greek, and could 
also prescribe for diseases. These multifarious 
attainments he owed entirely to himself and to 
the God of nature. From this person, Ferguson 
received instructions in decimal fractions and al- 
gebra, having already made himself master of vul- 
gar arithmetic, by the assistance of books. Just 
as he was about, however, to begin geometry, 
Cantley left his place for another in the establish- 
ment of the Earl of Fife, and his pupil thereupon 
determined to return home to his father. Cant- 
ley, on parting w^ith him, had made him a present 
of a copy of Gordon's Geographical Grammar. 
The book contains a description of an artificial 
globe, which is not, however, illustrated by any 
figure. Nevertheless, "from this description," 
says Ferguson, " I made a globe in three weeks at 
my father's house, having turned the ball thereof 
out of a piece of wood ; which ball I covered with 
paper, and delineated a map of the world upon it ; 
made the meridian ring and horizon of wood, cov- 
ered them with paper, and graduated them ; and 
was happy to find that by my globe, which was 
the first I ever saw, I could solve the problems." 
For some time after this, he was very unfortu- 


Date. Finding thaj, it would not do to remain idle 
at home, he engaged in the service of a miller in 
the neighborhood, who, feeling, probably, that he 
could trust to the honesty and capacity of his ser- 
vant, soon began to spend all his own time in the 
ale-house, and to leave poor Ferguson at home, 
not only with every thing to do, but with very 
frequently nothing to eat. A little oat-meal, 
mixed with cold water, was often, he tells us, all 
he was allowed. Yet in this situation he re- 
mained a year, and then returned to his father's 
house, very much weaker for his want of food. 
His next master was a Dr. Young, who, having 
induced him to enter his service by a promise to 
instruct him in medicine, not only broke his en- 
gagement as to this point, but used him in other 
respects so tyrannically, that, although engaged for 
half a year, he found he could not remain beyond 
the first quarter ; at the expiration of which, ac- 
cordingly, he came away without receiving any 
wages, having " wrought for the last fortnight," 
says he, "as much as possible, with one hand, 
and even when I could not lift the other from my 
side." This was in consequence of a severe hurt 
he had received, to which the doctor was too busy 
to attend, and by which he was confined to his 
bed two months after his return home. Reduced 
as he was, however, by exhaustion and actual 
pain, he could not be idle. " In order," says he, 
" to amuse myself in this low state, I made a 
I wooden clock, the frame of which was also of 

" wood, and it kept time pretty well. The bell on 

which the hammer struck the hours, was the n?ck 
of a broken bottle." A short time after this, when 
he had recovered his health, he gave a still more 


extraordinary proof of his ingenuity, and the fer- 
tility of his resources for mechanical invention, by 
actually constructing a time-piece, or watch, 
moved by a spring. " Having then," he remarks, 
" no idea how any time-piece could go but by a 
weight and a line, I wondered how a watch could 
go in all positions ; and was sorry that I never 
thought of asking Mr. Cantley, who could have 
very easily informed me. But happening one 
day to see a gentleman ride by my father's house 
(which was close by a public road), I asked him 
what o'clock it then was ? He looked at his watch 
and told me. As he did that with so much good 
nature, I begged of him to show me the inside of 
the watch ; and though he was an entire stranger, 
he immediately opened the watch, and put it into 
my hands. I saw the spring box, with part of 
the chain round it ; and asked him what it was 
that made the box turn round ? He told me that 
it was turned round by a steel spring within it 
Having then never seen any other spring than 
that of my father's gun-locks, I asked how a 
spring within a box could turn the box so often 
round as to wind all the chain upon it ? He an- 
swered that the spring was long and thin ; that 
one end of it was fastened to the axis of the box ; 
and the other end to the inside of the box ; that 
the axis was fixed, and the box was loose upon 
it. I told him that I did not yet thoroughly un- 
derstand the matter. " "Well, my lad, says he, 
" take a long, thin piece of whalebone ; hold one 
end of it fast between your finger and thumb, and 
wi^d it round your finger ; it will then endeavor 
to unwind itself ; and if you fix the other end of 
it to the inside of a small hoop, and leave it to it- 


self, it will turn the hoop round and round, and 
wing up a thread tied to the outside of the hoop." 
I thanked the gentleman, and told him that I un- 
derstood the thing very well. I then tried to 
make a watch with wooden wheels, and made the 
spring of whalebone ; but found that I could not 
make the wheel go when the balance was put on ; 
because the teeth of the wheels were rather too 
weak to bear the force of a spring sufficient to 
move the balance, although the wheels would 
run fast enough when the balance was taken off. 
I enclosed the whole in a wooden case, very little 
larger than a breakfast tea-cup ; but a clumsy 
neighbor one day looking at my watch, happened 
to let it fall, and, turning hastily about to pick it 
up, set his foot upon it, and crushed it all to 
pieces ; which so provoked my father, that he was 
almost ready to beat the man, and discouraged 
me so much, that I never attempted to make 
another such machine again, especially as I was 
thoroughly convinced I could never make one 
that would be of any real use." 

" What a vivid picture is this," says his biog- 
rapher, in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge, 
" of an ingenious mind thirsting for knowledge I 
and who is there, too, that does not envy the plea- 
sure that must have been felt by the courteous 
and intelligent stranger by whom the young 
mechanician was carried over his first great diffi- 
culty, if he had ever chanced to learn how greatly 
his unknown questioner had profited from their 
brief interview ? That stranger might probably 
have read the above narrative, as given to the 
world by Ferguson, after the talents, which this 
little incident probably contributed to develope, 


had raised him from his obscurity to a distin- 
guished place among the philosophers of his age ; 
and if he did not know this, he must have felt 
that encouragement in well doing which a benev- 
olent man may always gather, eitlier from the 
positive effects of acts of kindness upon others, or 
their influence upon his own heart. Civihty, 
charity, generosity, may sometimes meet an ill 
return, but one person must be benefitted by their 
exercise; the kind heart has its own abundant 
reward, whatever be the gratitude or ingratitude 
of others. The case of Ferguson shows that the 
seed does not always fall on an unkindly soil." 

Ferguson lived for many years in Edinburgh, 
engaged in drawing pictures, and in various as- 
tronomical pursuits. Among other things, he 
discovered by himself the cause of eclipses, and 
drew up a scheme for showing the motions and 
places of the sun and moon in the ecliptic on 
each day of the year, perpetually. He also made 
an orrery, without ever having seen the internal 
construction of any one. In the course of his life 
he made eight orreries, the last six of which were 
all unlike each other. Having written a proof of 
a new astronomical truth which had occurred to 
him, — namely, that the moon must move always in 
a path concave to the sun, — he showed his propo- 
sition and its demonstration to Mr. Folkes, the 
president of the Royal Society of London, who 
thereupon took him the same evening to the meet- 
ing of that learned body. This had the effect of 
bringing him immediately into notice. 'He soon 
after published his first work, " A Dissertation 
on the Phenomena of the Harvest Moon," with 
the description of a new orrery, having four 



wheels. It was followed by various other publi- 
cations, most of which became very popular. In 
1748, he began t6 give public lectures. Among 
his occasional auditors was George III., then a 
boy. In 1763, he was elected a Fellow of the 
Royal Society, the usual fees being remitted, 
as had been done in the cases of Newton and 
Thomas Simpson. He died in 1776, having 
acquired a distinguished reputation both at home 
and abroad. 



The present age is remarkable for the number 
and value of its mechanical inventions. There 
never was a time when the energies of nature 
were so entirely under the control of man. Agents 
which, a hundred years since, no one thought of 
employing, are now our mightiest, most docile, 
most constant servitors. The vapor, which our 
grandfathers watched, rushing from the tea-kettle, 
and thought of only as an indication of the boiling 
water witliin, we collect, and compel it to bear us 
over "iron-highways, in wains fire-winged," to 
transport us thousands of miles, over the waste 
of waters, to turn for us massive machinery, to 
perform the labor of ten thousand hands. The 
electricity which we once gazed upon with won- 
der and awe, as it flashed from cloud to cloud, or 
played with for our amusement in the laboratory, 
ha5 become our swiftest, most obedient messenger. 

Among the most distinguished of those who, 
by their science and skill, have taught us how to 
tame and to use the unwearied forces of the ele- 
ments, stands the name of James Watt. He 
was born in Greenock, Scotland, January 19th, 
1736. His father, an ingenious and enterprising 
man, was a merchant and magistrate of the town, 
and " a zealous promoter of improvements." He 
died in 1782, when nearly eighty-four years old. 
In the public schools of his native town, young 
Watt received the rudiments of his education; 
but the delicacy of his constitution was such, that 



he attended the classes with difficulty. He was, 
however, very studious at home, and began early 
to exhibit a partiality for mechanical contrivances. 
When he was sixteen years old, he was apprenticed 
to an optician, as he was called, — a person who 
was " by turns a cutler and a whitesmith, a repairer 
of fiddles, and a tuner of spinets." With him he 
remained two years. In his eighteenth year he 
went to London, to place himself under the tuition 
of a mathematical instrument maker. His health, 
however, becoming impaired, he was obliged to 
leave the metropolis in a little more than a 
twelvemonth ; but he continued, after his return 
home, to perfect himself in the art, in which he 
manifested great proficiency. He soon visited 
Glasgow, with the desire of establishing himself 
there, but met with opposition from some who 
considered him an intruder upon their privileges. 
Under these circumstances, the professors of the 
college, appreciating his fine tact and ingenuity, 
afibrded him protection, and gave him an apart- 
ment for can-ying on his business within their 
precincts, with the title of " Mathematical Instru- 
ment Maker to the University" 

There were at this time connected with the 
University, Adam Smith, Robert Simpson, Dr. 
Black, and Dr. Dick, whose approbation alone 
would be sufiicient to show that the young artisan 
had already given decided proofs of skill. He 
was at this tijne twenty-one years of age, and re- 
mained in connection with the college six years, 
until 1763, when he removed into the town. 

About the year 1761 or 1762, he began his in- 
quiries respecting the steam-engine ; and the idea 
suggested itself of the possibility of applying 


steam with greater advantage than formerly to 
the moving of machinery. A small model was 
constructed, in which an upright piston was raised 
by admitting steam below it, and forced down 
again by the pressure of the atmosphere. This 
contrivance he soon abandoned, and the pressure 
of business prevented him from immediately re- 
suming his investigation. 

As much of Mr. Watt's fame depends upon his 
labors in connection with the steam-engine, we 
shall in this place give a connected and somewhat 
particular account of his improvements, rather 
than break up the narrative by mentioning other 
events of his life, which for a time interrupted his 
experiments. The utility of steam, as a moving 
power, depends upon its immense expansive force, 
in connection with the property of immense and 
sudden contraction by condensation. A cubic 
inch of water, at the ordinary pressure of the at- 
mosphere, will make a cubic foot of steam. AYa- 
ter above a certain temperature (at the ordinary 
atmospheric pressure, 212 degrees, Fahrenheit) 
will become steam ; and, on the contrary, steam 
below a certain temperature will become water. 
If, then, a cubic inch of water be heated above 212 
degrees, a portion of it will at once expand to 
about 1,800 times its former dimensions. But 
steam, by being confined, may be made to exert 
this great expansive force to the movement of 
machinery. On the other hand, 1,800 cubic 
inches of steam, by being suddenly cooled, con- 
tracts so as to fill but one cubic inch in the form 
of water. Hence, if a tight vessel, say a cylinder, 
filled with steam, were suddenly cooled, a partial 
vacuum would be immediately formed by conden- 


eation ; and, if one end of the cylinder were move- 
able, the pressure of the atmosphere would force 
it in. The introduction of steam again, would 
force the moveable head of the cylinder back, 
and thus a motion backwards and forwards could 
be obtained. This was, in fact, nearly the earliest 
form of the steam-engine. To the moveable head 
of the cylinder a rod was attached, and this was 
connected with a lever which moved certain 
pieces of machinery. 

The properties of steam, on which its utility as 
a moving agent depends, were known to a certain 
extent for centuries before any one thought of 
applying them. This, indeed, is the history of 
almost every useful art. A discovery which, af- 
ter it is known, seems so simple that every body 
wonders he did not see it, remains hid for thous- 
ands of years, but at last proves -great enough to 
immortalize the fortunate inventor. How stupid 
men were, to toil in copying books with the pen 
for centuries, when, by the aid of blocks of wood 
or bits of lead, they could have so immensely di- 
minished the labor ! In the seventeenth century, 
attention was frequently directed by ingenious ar- 
tists to the uses of steam in performing simple 
but laborious occupations, such as pumping water. 
At the time when Mr. Watt commenced his labors 
on the subject, a machine was in use, invented by 
Thomas Newcomen, an ingenious mechanic. — 
The object of the steam, according to his contri- 
vance, was simply to create a vacuum, into which 
the atmospheric pressure could force a piston (to 
be raised again by a counterpoise), and thus apply 
a moving power, of about fourteen pounds to the 
square inch. In practice, it was found that the 


power applied was much less than this, on account 
of the vacuum being imperfectly formed. The 
steam in the cylinder Avas at first condensed by 
cooling the cylinder itself with cold water. It 
was afterwards accidentally discovered, that the 
same could be better accomplished, by injecting a 
stream of cold water into the cylinder. 

It was still a very imperfect machine. Great 
care and watchfulness were necessary on the part 
of the attendant in opening the different valves, 
which he was obliged to do fourteen times a miri' 
ute, or risk the destruction of the apparatus. 
"When he opened the steam valve, he was obliged 
to watch the ascent of the piston, and at the mo- 
ment of its reaching the proper height, close the 
valve and instantly open the injection pipe. 
When this cooled the steam sufficiently, and the 
piston began to "descend, the steam must be let in 
again at a particular moment ; or the heavy pis- 
ton, forced down by the atmosphere Avith too great 
rapidity, would shake the apparatus to pieces. 
One of the first contrivances to dispense with this 
constant watchfulness of the attendant, resulted 
from the ingenuity of an idle boy, Humphrey 
Potter. He added to the machine (what he called 
a scoggan) "a catch, that the beam or lever al- 
ways opened. To scog is a verb, found in cer- 
tain vocabularies in the north of England, imply- 
ing to skulk ; and this young gentleman, impelled 
by a love of idleness or play common to boy- 
hood, and having his wits about him, after due 
meditation, devised this contrivance, by which so 
important an improvement was effected, and him- 
self allowed the means of * scogging ' for his own 
diversion." The importance of the discovery 


may be seen in the fact, that, while before, the 
piston would make but six or eight strokes a min- 
ute, afterwards it would make fifteen or sixteen. 
Without dwelling longer upon the history of the 
steam-engine, we will return to the life of Watt. 

In the winter of 1763-4, the Professor of Nat- 
ural Philosophy at Glasgow put into Mr. Watt's 
hands a model of an engine upon Newcomen's 
plan, to be repaired. While at work upon this 
model, he perceived the immense loss of steam 
from condensation, caused by the cold surface of 
the cylinder. He determined, by experiment, 
that this loss was " not less than three or four 
times as much as would fill the cylinder and work 
the engine." In the operation of the engine there 
was also a great waste of heat. The cylinder was 
at one moment heated so that he could not bear 
his finger upon it, and must then be cooled so as 
to condense the steam ; and this alternate heating 
and cooling took place at every stroke of the pis- 
ton. In the course of these experiments, he be- 
came acquainted with the theory of latent heat, 
which had been previously expounded by Dr. 
Black, but of which he had not heard. 

The materials with which he performed his ex- 
periments were of the cheapest kinds. Apoth- 
ecaries' vials, a glass tube or two, and a tea-kettle, 
enabled him to arrive at some very important 
conclusions. By attaching a glass tube to the 
nose of a tea-kettle, he conducted the steam into a 
glass of water, and, by the time the water came to 
the boiling temperature, he found its volume had 
increased nearly a sixth part ; i. e., " that one mea- 
sure of water, in the form of steam, can raise about 
six measures of water to its own heat." In the 


words of Dr. Ure, that " a cubic inch of water 
would form a cubic foot of ordinary steam, or 
1,728 inches ; and that the condensation of tha* 
quantity of steam would heat six cubic inches of 
water from the atmospheric temperature to the 
boiling point. Hence, he saw that six times the 
difference of temperature, or fully 800 degrees of 
heat, has been employed in giving elasticity to 
steam, and which must all be subtracted before a 
complete vacuum could be obtained under the 
piston of a steam-engine." 

To remedy this evil, he first substituted a 
wooden cylinder for a metal one ; so that the 
heat might be transmitted more slowly. This, 
however, was liable to many other objections ; and 
he then cased his cylinders in wood, and filled the 
space between them with ashes. By this means, 
he reduced the waste one half. Still he felt it to 
be of great consequence to condense the steam 
without cooling the cylinder; and early in the 
year 1765, it occurred to him, ^^that, if a commu- 
nication were opened between a cylinder contain- 
ing steam, and another vessel which was exhausted 
of air and other fluids, the steam, as an expansi- 
ble fluid, would immediately rush into the empty 
vessel, and continue to do so until it had established 
an equilibrium; and that, if the vessel were kept 
very cool by an injection or otherwise, more steam 
would continue to enter until the whole were con- 
densed." This was an immense advance ; since, 
by condensing the steam in a separate vessel, 
the main cylinder could be preserved at the same 
temperature. There was soon perceived, how- 
ever, another hindrance to this. Thus far, the 
cylinder was open at the top, and when the piston 


was raised by steam, it was pressed down again 
by the weight of the atmosphere. Hence, as the 
cold air was admitted on the descent of the piston, 
the sides of the cylinder were necessarily cooled. 
It then occurred to Mr. "Watt, to make the cylin- 
der air-tight, simply leaving a hole for the passage 
of the piston rod, around which oakum could be 
packed so tight as to prevent the escape of steam, 
and then to dispense with the air entirely in the 
working of the machine, and to press the piston 
down as w 11 as up, by means of steam. This 
proved to be another great improvement, by in- 
troducing a force which could be precisely con- 
trolled, doing away with the old system of coun- 
terpoises, and giving the engine a double-acting 
power. Mr. Watt soon found by experiment 
that he had not overcome all the impediments in 
the way of perfect success. The vessel in which 
the condensation was effected, — the condenser, — 
became soon surcharged with water, with uncon- 
densed steam, and partly with atmospheric air 
contained in the water, and set free from it by 
great heat. To remedy this, his genius contrived 
to apply a pump (since called the air-pump), so 
that, at every stroke of the engine, the condenser 
might be freed from whatever it contained. This 
pump was connected with the engine itself, and 
worked by it. 

We have not the space to describe particularly 
the minor improvements which were afterwards 
introduced by Mr. Watt (among which was the 
application of the governor, or regulator), but the 
expansion engine, as he called it, is an improve- 
ment so great that it canrk)t be overlooked. Ac- 
cording to the old plan, me steam was admitted 


continuously, at one end of the cylinder, until the 
piston was entirely raised, and then again at the 
other end, until it was entirely depressed. Upon 
this plan, it was found necessary to proportion the 
work to be performed very exactly to the power 
which was generated ; since, if the power greatly 
exceeded the weight to be raised, it would occa- 
sion so rapid a motion, that no machinery could 
withstand the jolts and shocks. Much damage 
was thus done, and much expense incurred. This 
was no slight drawback to the general utility of 
the machine. This difficulty, too, was effectually 
remedied. Steam in the boiler is greatly con- 
densed. It occurred then to Mr. Watt, that, if the 
steam Avere shut off after the piston had been 
pressed down for a certain proportion of its total 
descent — say one half, one third, or one quarter — 
the expansive force of the steam already in- 
troduced would be sufficient to accomplish the 
rest of the descent. This was found to be the 
case; and by adjusting the rods of the machinery, 
the valve could be closed at any moment, and the 
acting force brought completely under the power 
of man. By this means, not only is the steam 
greatly economized, but is made to work as gently 
as the most docile animal, The jar in the machi- 
nery is taken away ; and an engine, with the power 
of three hundred horses, may be at full work, and 
the tremor hardly be perceived. 

Another important discovery resulted from 
these attempts of Mr. Watt to economize steam, 
and to save the machinery. We will state it in 
the words of a recent Avriter : — " He found that 
steam, admitted into the cylinder to one fourth of 
its depth, and exerting a pressure amounting to 


6,333 pounds, when allowed to expand into the 
whole capacity of the cylinder, added a pressure 
of 8,781 pounds; and moreover, that had the cyl- 
inder been filled with steam of the same force, and 
exerting the accumulated pressure of (6,333X4) 
25,332 pounds, the steam expended in that 
case would have been four times greater than 
when it was stopped at one fourth ; and yet the 
accumulated pressure was not twice as great, be- 
ing nearly five thirds. One fourth of the steam 
performs nearly three fifths of the work, and an 
equal quantity performs more than twice as much 
work when thus admitted during one fourth of the 
motion ; " i. e., instead of 6,333 pounds, exerts an 
accumulated force of 15,114 pounds.' It is hardly 
necessary to say that these figures represent the 
pressure as found in a particular experiment. 
The proportions, it is presumed, will be found 
nearly true under all circumstances. 

We have thus mentioned some of the principal 
improvements effected in the steam engine, by 
the ingenuity of Mr. Watt. They are so great, 
and in fact essential, as to throw all other im- 
provements into the shade. They, indeed, cre- 
ated the modern stean>engine. Mr. Watt, per- 
haps, did not dream of the extensive applications 
to which this power could be put. It may be that 
we ourselves have but half developed its capabil- 
ities. Steam was used for many years on land, 
before it was applied with any success to the pro- 
pelling of boats. It was employed on boats long 
before brought into service in moving land car- 
riages. Only a few years ago, a learned man 
demonstrated, as he thought, the absolute imprac- 
ticability of propelling a ship, by means of it, 


across the Atlantic. But now you hear the panting 
of the mighty monster on every sea and ocean. 
It rounds the southern capes ; circumnavigates 
the world. Manufactures, the most delicate and 
the most ponderous, are indebted to its obedient 
ministrations ; it performs processes the most 
complicated as well as the most simple ; it weaves 
the most delicate tissue ; it breaks asunder the 
strongest bars of iron ; it stretches out its iron fin- 
gers, seizes the sheet of paper, and, in a moment, 
delivers it back to you a printed book ; it raises 
the huge block of stone to the top of the monu- 
ment or the fortification ; it turns out the irregular 
shaped last and gun-stock. He is a bold prophet 
who shall foretell a limit to the application of an 
agent so mighty and so docile. 

These improvements were not made by Mr. 
Watt without trouble and expense. His reputa- 
tion was strongly attacked ; his originality denied ; 
his right to various patents vehemently contested. 
He was many times disappointed in the working 
of his own conti'ivances, and was obliged to throw 
away many pieces of machinery, from which he 
expected much. And, after all, he left abundant 
opportunities for the exercise of ingenuity by fu- 
ture engineers. In fact his discoveries furnished 
materials for the many improvements which have 
been efi'ected since his time. As a proof of the 
slight use which had been made of steam-engines 
before his time, and of the prejudices and sluggish- 
ness against which his invention had to contend, 
it is stated that the sum of very nearly £50,000 — 
almost $250,000 — was expended by Watt and 
Bolton (his partner) in the manufacture of the 
improved engines, before they realized any return. 


It must not be supposed that these improve- 
ments of Mr. Watt were made continuously, as 
they have been described. He was often inter- 
rupted by want of means to exhibit his machine 
on an adequate scale, and also by engaging, from 
time to time, in other occupations. He did not 
confine himself to improvements of the steam- 
engine. Although self-taught, he acquired con- 
siderable reputation as a civil engineer. In 1767, 
he was employed to make a survey for a canal 
between the rivers Forth and Clyde. The bill 
necessary for its execution was lost in parliament. 
A canal from the Monkland collieries to Glasgow 
was then entrusted to his superintendence, after 
he had already made the necessary surveys and 
prepared the estimates. The Trustees for Fish- 
eries and Manufactures in Scotland soon employed 
him to survey a projected canal fi'om Perth to 
Forfar. This again was succeeded by a survey 
of the Crinan Canal, to connect the Frith of Clyde 
and the Western Ocean. This canal was after- 
wards executed by his friend, Mr. Rennie, who 
became distinguished as one of the best engineers 
in England. Business of this kind now crowded 
upon him. He was called upon to furnish plans 
for deepening the river Clyde ; for rendering the 
rivers Forth and Devon navigable ; for improving 
the harbors of Ayr, Port- Glasgow, and Green- 
ock ; and for building several important bridges. 
The last and greatest work of this sort, upon 
which he was engaged, was surveying the line of 
a projected canal between Fort William and 
Inverness. This was afterwards executed on a 
larger scale than was at first proposed, under the 
name of the Caledonian Canal. It was during 


the execution of some of these works, that he in- 
vented an ingenious micrometer, for measuring 
distances (such as the breadth of arms of the sea) 
■which could not be measured by the chain. It 
was found to be of great value in ascertaining the 
distance between hills, and, on uneven ground, 
proved to be more accurate than the chain. 

In the course of his pursuits as a surveyor, Mr. 
Watt became acquainted with Dr. Roebuck, an 
English physician, who was at this time acquiring 
a fortune by the manufacture of sulphuric acid. 
Dr. Roebuck had a short time before completed 
his establishment of the Carron Iron-works,* and 
Mr. Watt formed a partnership with him, for the 
sake of the pecuniary aid he could afford in con- 
structing the improved engines on a large scale ; 
retaining, as his own share of the profits, one 
third of the proceeds from the invention. In his 
expectations, he was, however, disappointed ; part- 
ly from entering so largely into engagements as 
an engineer, some of which we have already 
referred to, and partly from the pecuniary diffi- 
culties in which his partner became involved. 
He had, indeed, nearly given up the hope of ac- 
complishing his schemes, when Mr. Matthew Bol- 
ton, an engineer of some eminence and consider- 
able wealth, living near Birmingham, purchased 
Di'. Roebuck's share of the patent. The partner- 
ship between Watt and Bolton was formed in 
1773, and Mr. Watt removed to England. 

Although common fame cherishes the name of 
Watt mainly as the perfecter of the steam-engine, 

* The kind of ordnance called a Carronade received its 
name from having been first manufactured at Carron, a 
village twenty-six miles north-east from Edinburgh. 


yet he did not confine his inventions to this alone. 
Feeling the necessity of preserving accurate cop- 
ies of his drawings and of letters containing calcu- 
lations, he invented a copying apparatus. In its 
simplest form it is merely a press, by means of 
which, a thin sheet of unsized paper, rendered 
slightly wet, is strongly pressed upon the letter to 
be copied, which has been written in a strong 
character, with ink which is soluble in water. 
The impression is then read on the opposite side 
from that on which it is taken. 

In 1781, he contrived a steam-drying apparatus 
for a relation living near Glasgow. In 1784:-5, 
he put up an apparatus for heating his study by 
means of steam, a method which is now frequent- 
ly used in manufactories, in conservatories and 
hot-houses, and, sometimes, as we have known, in 
steamboats. While most busily occupied with 
the steam-engine, he found time to engage in 
chemical studies. The constituent elements of 
water attracted his attention, on account of some 
experiments of Dr. Priestley ; and, in April, 1784, 
he communicated to the Royal Society, a paper, 
entitled, " Thoughts on the constituent parts of 
water and of dephlogisticated air, with an account 
of some experiments upon that subject." 

The winter of 1786-7, Mr. Watt spent at Paris ; 
having been invited to France by the government 
for the purpose of suggesting improvements in 
the manner of raising water at Marly, that being 
the place from which the splendid water-works at 
Versailles draw their supply. During this tem- 
porary residence, he became acquainted with Mr. 
Berthollet, one of the most distinguished chemists 
of his time. The art of bleaching by means of 


oxymuriatic acid had just been discovered by him. 
He communicated the invention to Mr. Watt, who, 
seeing at once the wide use that might be made 
of it, advised him to take out an English patent. 
This, Mr. Berthollet declined doing, and left Mr. 
Watt to make such use of the invention as he 
pleased. Accordingly he introduced it into the 
bleaching field of his father-in-law, Mr. MacGre- 
gor, and gave directions for the construction of 
the necessary vessels and machinery. At his first 
attempt, he bleached five hundred pieces of cloth. 

From 1792 to 1799, the firm of Bolton & Watt 
was much occupied in defending their patent 
rights against numerous invaders. The dues 
which they claimed were one third of the savings 
of fuel, compared with the best engines previously 
in use. Several verdicts were given in their fa- 
vor, up to 1799, when a unanimous decision of all 
the judges of the Court of King's Bench estab- 
lished the validity of their claims to novel and 
useful inventions. 

In 1800, Mr. Watt withdrew from business ; 
giving up his shares to his two sons, of whom the 
youngest, Mr. Gregory Watt, died soon after. 

Although thus removed from immediate con- 
nection with business, his interest in his former 
pursuits did not desert him. He maintained a 
warm friendship with his old associate, Mr. Bol- 
ton, to the close of his life. One of his later in- 
ventions was a machine for copying all kinds of 
statuary. His taste for sculpture had been culti- 
vated by a series of experiments in making a com- 
position having the transparency and nearly the 
hardness of marble, from which he made many 


In 1809, from grateful remembrances of his 
early residence in Glasgow, he lent his assistance 
to the proprietors of the water-works, in their 
attempt to supply the city with pure water. The 
city is built upon the right bank of the Clyde. 
It was proposed to sink a well on the left bank of 
the river, where the sand affords a natural filter 
for the water. The problem was, to convey the 
water across the river. Mr. "Watt suggested a 
flexible pipe, which was found to succeed com- 
pletely. Another pipe was afterwards laid, in or- 
der to increase the supply. The idea of the 
flexible joint was suggested, as he himself said, 
by observing the flexibility of the lobster's tail. 

Although we have confined our sketch of Mr. 
"Watt mainly to his mechanical skill, it would not 
be just to close our account of him here. There 
was hardly a physical science or an art with 
which he was not pretty intimately acquainted. 
His philosophical judgment kept pace with his 
ingenuity. He studied modern languages, and 
was acquainted with literature. His memory 
was extremely tenacious ; and whatever he once 
learned, he always had at his command. • "We 
should also remember that his health was never 
firm. He accomplished his great labors in spite 
of a constitutional debility, increased by aaxiety 
and perplexity, during the long process of his in- 
ventions, and the subsequent care of defending 
them. He was frequently attacked by sick head- 
aches of great severity, which seem to have arisen 
from a defect of the digestive organs. Nothing 
preserved his life but constant temperance and 
watchfulness of his peculiar difficulties. Notwith- 
standing his infirmities, he attained the great age 


of 83, and died after a short illness, in the midst 
of his family, at Heathfield, August 25, 1819. 

He did not live without the testimony of learned 
bodies of men to his great attainments. In 1784, 
he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of 
Edinburgh ; in 1785, a member of the Royal So- 
ciety of London ; in 1787, a corresponding mem- 
ber of the Batavian Society ; in 1806, he received 
from Glasgow the degree of Doctor of Laws ; and 
in 1808, he was elected, first, a corresponding 
member, and afterwards, an associate, of the Insti- 
tute of France. 

His remains were deposited in the chancel of 
the parochial church of Handsworth, near those 
of his former associate, Mr. Bolton. An excellent 
bust of him was made by Mr. Chantry, before 
his death ; and a statue was subsequently com- 
pleted by the same distinguished artist, intended 
to be placed upon his tomb. 

"We shall close this sketch, by a few extracts 
from an eloquent eulogy, written soon after his 
death, by Lord Jeffrey, and published in the jour- 
nals of the time : — 

" It is with pain that we find ourselves called 
upon, so soon after the loss of Mr. Playfair, to re- 
cord the decease of another of our illustrious 
countrymen, and one to whom mankind has been 
still more largely indebted — Mr. James Watt^ 
the great improver of the steam-engine. This 
name, fortunately, needs no commemoration of 
ours ; for he that bore it survived to see it crowned 
with undisputed and unenvied honors, and many 
generations will probably pass away before it shall 
have ' gathered all its fame.' We have said that 
Mp. Watt was the great improver of the steam- 


engine ; but, in truth, as to all that is admirable 
in its structure, or vast in its utility, he should 
rather be described as its inventor. It was by his 
inventions, that its action was so regulated as to 
make it capable of being applied to the finest and 
most delicate manufactures, and its power so in- 
creased as to set weight and solidity at defiance. 
By his admirable contrivances, it has become a 
thing stupendous alike for its force and its flexi- 
bility, — for the prodigious power which it can 
exert, and the ease, and precision, and ductility, 
with which it can be varied, distributed, and ap- 
plied. The trunk of an elephant that can pick 
up a pin or rend an oak, is as nothing to it. It 
can engrave a seal, and crush masses of obdurate 
metal like wax, before it, — draw out, without 
breaking, a thread as fine as gossamer, and lift a 
ship of war like a bauble in the air. It can em- 
broider muslin, and forge anchors, — cut steel 
into ribands, and impel loaded vessels against 
the fury of the winds and waves. 

" It would be difficult to estimate the value of 
the benefits which these inventions have conferred 
upon the country. There is no branch of indus- 
try that has not been indebted to them ; and in all 
the most material, they have not only widened 
most magnificently the field of its exertions, but 
multiplied a thousand-fold the amount of its pro- 
ductions. * * « It has increased indefinitely 
the mass of human comforts and enjoyments, and 
rendered cheap and accessible all over the world, 
the materials of wealth and prosperity. It has 
armed the feeble hand of man, in short, with a 
power to which no limit can be assigned ; com- 
pleted the dominion of mind over the most refrac- 


tory qualities of matter ; and laid a sure founda- 
tion for all those future miracles of mechanical 
power which are to aid and reward the labors of 
after generations. It is to the genius of one man, 
too, that all this is mainly owing ; and certainly, 
no man ever before bestowed such a gift on his 
kind. The blessing is not only universal, but un- 
bounded ; and the fabled inventors of the plough 
and the Joom, who were deified by the erring 
gratitude of their rude contemporaries, confei*red 
less important benefits on mankind, than the in- 
ventor of our present steam-engine. * * * * 
" Independently of his great attainments in me- 
chanics, Mr. Watt was an extraordinary, and, in 
many respects, a wonderful man. Perhaps no in- 
dividual in his age possessed so much, and such 
varied and exact information, — had read so 
much, or remembered what he had read so accu- 
rately and well. He had infinite quickness of ap- 
prehension, a prodigious memory, and a certain 
rectifying and methodising power of understand- 
ing, which extracted something precious out of all 
that was presented to it. His stores of miscella- 
neous knowledge were immense, — and yet less 
astonishing than the command he had at all times 
over them. * ♦ * That he should have been 
minutely and extensively skilled in chemistry 
and the arts, and in most branches of physical 
science, might perhaps have been conjectured ; 
but it could not have been inferred from his usual 
occupations, and probably is not generally known, 
that he was curiously learned in many branches 
of antiquity, metaphysics, medicine, and etymolo- 
gy, and perfectly at home in all the details of 
architecture, music, and law. He was well ac- 


quainted, too, with most of the modem languages, 
and familiar with their most recent literature. 

" His astonishing memory was aided, no doubt, 
in great measure, by a still higher and rarer fac- 
ulty — by his power of digesting and arranging 
in its proper place all the information he received, 
and of casting aside and rejecting, as it were in- 
stinctively, whatever was worthless or immaterial. 
* * * It is needless to say, that, with these 
vast resources, his conversation was at all times 
rich and instructive in no ordinary degree ; but it 
was, if possible, still more pleasing than wise, and 
had all the charms of familiarity, with all the sub- 
stantial treasures of knowledge. No man could 
be more social in his spirit, less assuming or fas- 
tidious in his manners, or more kind and indulgent 
towards all who approached him. * * * His 
talk, too, though overflowing with information, 
had no resemblance to lecturing or solemn dis- 
coursing ; but, on the contrary, was full of collo- 
quial spirit and pleasantry. He had a certain 
quiet and grave humor, which ran through most 
of his conversation ; and a vein of temperate joc- 
ularity, which gave infinite zest and effect to the 
condensed and inexhaustible information, which 
formed its main staple and characteristic. * * * 
He had in his character the utmost abhorrence 
for all sorts of forwardness, parade, and preten- 
sion ; and, indeed, never failed to put all such im- 
postors out of countenance, by the manly plain- 
ness and honest intrepidity of his language and 

" In his temper and disposition he was not only 
kind and affectionate, but generous, and conside- 
rate of the feelings of all around him ; and gave 


the most liberal assistance and encouragement to 
all young persons who showed any indications 
of talent, or applied to him for patronage or 
advice. * * * His friends, in this part of the 
country, never saw him more iull of intellectual 
vigor and colloquial animation, — never more 
delightful or more instructive, than in his last visit 
to Scotland, in autumn, 1817. Indeed, it was af- 
ter that time that he applied himself, with all the 
ardor of early life, to the invention of a machine 
for mechanically copying all sorts of sculpture 
and statuary, and distributed among his friends 
some of its earliest performances, as the production 
of a young artist, just entering on his 83d year. 
" This happy and useful life came at last to a 
gentle close. He had suffered some inconve- 
nience through the summer, but was not serious- 
ly indisposed till within a few weeks from his 
death. He then became perfectly aware of the 
event which was approaching ; and, with his usual 
tranquillity and benevolence of nature, seemed 
only anxious to point out to the friends around 
him, the many sources of consolation which were 
afforded by the circumstances in which it was 
about to take place. * * * He was twice 
married, but has left no issue but one son, long 
associated with him in his business and studies, 
and two grand-children by a daughter who pre- 
deceased him. * * * ^\\ men of learning 
and science were his cordial friends ; and such 
was the influence of his mild character and per- 
fect fairness and liberality, even upon the preten- 
ders to these accomplishments, that he lived to 
disarm even envy itself, and died, we verily be- 
lieve, without a single enemy." 


En Whitney was born in Westborough, 
Mass., December 8, 1765. His father was a re- 
spectable farmer, industrious, frugal, and indepen- 
dent. The mechanical genius of the boy displayed 
itself at a very early age. His sister gives the 
following account of it : — " Our father had a work- 
shop, and sometimes made wheels of different 
kinds, and chairs. He had a variety of tools, and 
a lathe for turning chair posts. This gave my 
brother an opportunity of learning the use of tools 
when very young. He lost no time ; but, as soon 
as he could handle tools, he was always making 
something in the shop, and seemed not to like 
working on the farm. On a time, after the death 
of our mother, when our father had been absent 
from home two or three days, on his return he 
inquired of the housekeeper, what the boys had 
been doing. She told him what B. and J. had 
been about. 'But what has Eli been doing?', 
said he. She replied he had been making a fiddle. , 
' Ah ! ' added he despondingly, * I fear Eli will , 
have to take his portion in fiddles.' He was at| 
this time about twelve years old. This fiddle was 
finished throughout, like a common violin, and 
made tolerably good music. It was examined by 
many persons, and all pronounced it to be a re- 
markable piece of work for such a boy to perform. 
From this time he was employed to repair violins, 
and had many nice jobs, which were always ex- 
ecuted to the entire satisfaction, and often to the 


468 ELI -WniTXET. 

astonishment, of his customers. His father's watch 
being the greatest piece of mechanism that had 
yet presented itself to his observation, he was ex- 
tremely desirous of examining its inteiior con- 
struction, but was not permitted to do so. One 
Sunday morning, observing that his father was 
going to meeting, and would leave at home the 
wonderful little machine, he immediately feigned 
illness as an apology for not going to church. As 
soon as the family were out of sight, he flew to 
the room where the watch hung ; and, taking it 
down, he was so delighted with its motions, that 
he took it all in pieces before he thought of the 
consequences of his rash deed ; for his father was 
a stern parent, and punishment would have been 
the rewai'd of his idle curiosity, had the mischief 
been detected. He, however, put the work all so 
neatly together, that his father never discovered 
his audacity until he himself told him, many years 

At an early age, "Whitney lost his mother ; his 
father married again, when he was about thirteen. 
Among the new furniture brought into the house, 
in consequence of this arrangement, was a hand- 
some set of table knives. On seeing them, the 
boy remarked that " he could make as good ones 

^if he had tools, and he could make the necessary 
tools if he had a few common ones to make them 

, with." This remark was not very graciously re- 
ceived ; but the truth of it was soon proved. One 
of the knives, before long, was broken ; and the 

\boy made another just like it, excepting the stamp 
on the blade which he had no tools to impress. 

"When he was fifteen or sixteen, he began to 
turn his mechanical ingenuity to some account. 


The revolutionary war had not closed ; and nails 
were in great demand, and bore a high price. 
Young Whitney determined to commence manu- 
facturing them. Having obtained the consent of 
his father, he went to work, gained time, by dil- 
igence, to make his own tools, and for two winters 
labored with much success. His summers were 
spent upon the farm. Wishing to enlarge his lit- 
tle works, he set out on horseback without men- 
tioning his plan to his father, and went in quest 
of a fellow-workman. He travelled from town to 
town, calling at every workshop on his way, and 
learning all that he possibly could of various me- 
chanic arts ; nor was it till he had gone forty 
miles from home that he found a laborer of suffi- 
cient skill. This excursion is an early illustra- 
tration of that perseverance which was one of his 
distinguishing characteristics in future life. 

With the close of the war, his occupation a3 
nailmaker lost its profitableness, and he turned 
his attention to making the long pins with which 
ladies were at that time accustomed to fasten their 
bonnets. In this his ingenuity was such, that he 
soon nearly monopolized the business. Although 
thus enticed by success to devote himself imme- 
diately to lucrative manufactures, he felt an earn- 
est desire to obtain a liberal education. This 
wish was opposed by his step-mother ; nor did his 
father give his free consent, until the young man 
was twenty-three years old. By various methods, 
however, — teaching a village-school in the winter,' 
and carefully laying up the avails of his manual r 
labor, — he was able so to prepare himself as to 
enter the Freshman class at Yale College, in May, 
1789. In advancing to this point, he had to en- 


counter other obstacles besides the reluctance of 
his friends. An intelligent neighbor endeavored 
to dissuade his father froni sending him, on the 
ground that it was a pity that sucli fine mechan- 
ical talents should be wasted. AVhitney thought 
otherwise. He probably had some idea of the 
tendency of a liberal education to expand the fac- 
ulties, and liberalize the whole man. He thought 
that extensive knowledge, and the severest men- 
tal discipline, would only give him a wider reach 
and a stronger grasp of mind, and enable him 
to apply more effectively the peculiar ingenuity 
with which he was endowed. We shall hereafter 
see how much he was indebted to his liberal edu- 
cation for the manner in which he was received 
and regarded by the highest order of intellect in 
the land, and for the elevated tone which he nat- 
urally assumed in his intercourse both with indi- 
viduals, and with the governments of different 

In the month of July, 1788, while jirepai-ing 
to enter college, he was seized with a fever, which 
threatened his life. Thus was he again retarded 
from the goal of his wishes. His purpose was 
not shaken, however ; and after his recovery, he 
finished his preparatory course with Dr. Goodrich, 
of Durham, Connecticut, and, in due time found 
himself, as we have said, a member of Yale Col- 

His college bills were paid by his father ; but 
the money furnished was considered by the son as 
a loan, for which he gave his note. During his 
residence at college, he devoted his main atten- 
tion to the subjects of which he was most fond. 
Mathematics and mechanics received more atten- 



tion from him than the classics. His ingenuity 
sometimes served him a good purpose. On one 
occasion, some of the philosophical apparatus was 
out of order, and it was thought necessary to send 
it abroad to be repaired. Mr. Whitney proposed 
to remedy the defect, and did so to the satisfaction 
of the faculty. 

After receiving his degree, in 1792, he prepared 
to go to Georgia, as private tutor in the family of 
a gentleman who had engaged his services. As 
a precautionary measure, at that time thought 
necessary to every traveller, he was inoculated 
for the small-pox. On his recovery, he sailed for 
Savannah, in company with Mrs. Greene, the 
widow of General Greene. This acquaintance 
proved in many respects a very fortunate one for 
the young adventurer. He had hardly landed in 
Georgia, a State to him ever ungrateful, when he 
found that another teacher had been employed in 
his place. Being thus left without friends and 
without resources, he was kindly received into 
the family of Mrs. Greene, and encouraged to 
pursue the study of law, to which his attention 
had been turned. He did not remain long with- 
out giving proof of his mechanical skill. His 
hostess was making a piece of embroidery in a 
tambour frame, of which she complained that it 
broke the threads of her work. Mr. Whitney im- 
mediately constructed another frame on a different 
plan, which remedied all the defects of the old. 

He was on the eve, too, of another invention, 
which, from its immense utility, has rendered his 
name familiar over half the world. The uplands 
of Georgia, and of the Southern States generally, 
were known to be well adapted to the raising of a 


kind of cotton, called the green seed, or short sta- 
ple. The great drawback to the value of this 
product was the difhculty of separating the cotton 
fibre from the seed wrapped up in it. To clean 
one pound of the cotton was a day's work for a 
woman. This difficulty, and the necessity of some 
machine to remedy it, before the cultivation of 
cotton could become of value, was the subject of 
conversation, on a certain occasion, with a com- 
pany of gentlemen, ijiany of them officers in the 
Revolution, who were dining with Mrs. Greene. 
" Gentlemen," said this lady to them, at length, 
" apply to my young friend Mr. Whitney, — he 
can make any thing." Her purpose was to inter- 
est her friends in a deserving young man ; but the 
result was entii'ely beyond her expectations. 
Whitney had never seen either the raw cotton, or 
the cotton seed ; but his mind fastened upon the 
subject. It was out of season for cotton in the 
seed ; but he went to Savannah, and, by searching 
in boats and warehouses, he found enough to 
show him the kind of material with which he was 
to experiment. This -he carried home, and, hav- 
ing a room assigned him in the basement of the 
house, set himself to the invention of the Cotton 
Gin. In order to do this, he had to make his 
own tools, and to draw the wire of which the teeth 
of the instrument were at first made. By the 
close of the winter, the machine was nearly com- 
pleted, and Mrs. Greene was anxious to show it 
to her friends. She therefore invited gentlemen 
from different parts of the State, to her house ; 
and, having conducted them to a temporary 
building, exhibited to their wondering and de- 
lighted eyes the simple instrument which was 


about to work such wonders upon the Southern 
plantations, to add so inestimably to the wealth of 
half our country, and to promote to so unexpected 
and marvellous an extent, the manufacture and 
consumption of cotton. 

The cotton gin is not so complicated' a machine 
as its great reputation would lead one to suppose. 
It consists, says one description, " of a receiver, 
having one side covered with strong parallel 
wires, about an eighth of an inch apart. Between 
these wires pass a number of circular saws, re- 
volving on a common axis. The cotton is entan- 
gled iu the teeth of the saws, and drawn out 
through the grating; while flie seeds are pre- 
vented, by their size, from passing. The cotton, 
thus extricated, is swept from the saws by a revolv- 
ing cyUndrical brush, and the seeds fall out at the 
bottom of the receiver." 

Let us for a moment look at the increase in the 
production of cotton in the United States. In 
1784, eight bags of cotton on board an American 
vessel, at Liverpool, were seized by the custom- 
house officers, under the conviction that so much 
could not be the product of the United States. I 
In 1791, the whole export of the United States 
was sixty-four bags, of three hundred pounds each.* 
The average gi'owth of the three years previous 
to 1828 was two hundred and seventy millions of 
poujids. In the year 1839, according to the 
United States census, there were gathered seven 


♦Encycl. Americana. — ^Article Cotton. 


digious increase in the production has, of course, 
been proportionate to an equally prodigious in- 
crease in the use. Cotton fabrics have gradually 
taken the place of various other kinds. Hemp 
and linen have yielded to it. It is found capable 
of producing the coarse canvass for sails, and the 
delicate muslin for embroidery. It is made into 
beds of the cheapest and most agreeable kind ; and, 
by the application of alchemical agent, is, in a few 
moments, converted into an explosive material, 
destined to work we knoAV not what revolutions in 
the art of war, or the more profitable employment 
of civil engineering. Cities, devoted mainly to its 
manufacture, have sprung up in a night, and the 
capital employed in them almost surpasses the 
power of computation. The two men to whom 
the nations are most indebted for this marvellous 
change are, undoubtedly, Arkwright and Whit- 
ney, — the latter rendering it possible to produce 
the article with profit; the former enabling 
men to manufacture it with ease and rapidity. 
With the increased use, the price was proportion- 
ally diminished. What cost thirty cents in 1815, 
in 1830 cost less than ten, and still less in 1840. 
None in our country are now too poor to be com- 
fortably and neatly clad in this healthful fabric. 

In an English magazine, there appeared not a 
great while ago, an article, pleasantly illustrating 
the progress of a pound of cotton, in the course 
of the various processes exercised upon it. 
" There was sent to London, lately, from Paisley, 
a small piece of muslin, about one pound weight, 
the history of which is as follows : — The wool 
came from the East Indies to London ; from Lon-. 
don it went to Lancashire, where it was manufac- 


tured into yarn ; from Manchester it was sent to 
Paisley, where it was woven ; it was sent to 
Ayrshire next, where it was tamboured ; it was 
then conveyed to Dumbarton, where it was hand- 
sewed, and again returned to Paisley, whence it 
was sent to Glasgow and finished ; and then 
sent, per coach, to London. It may be reckoned 
about three years that it took to bring this article 
to market, from the time when it was packed in 
India, till it arrived complete in the merchant's 
warehouse in London, whither it must have been 
conveyed 5,000 miles by sea, nearly 1,000 by land, 
and have contributed to reward the labor of near- 
ly 150 persons, whose services were necessary in 
the carriage and manufacture of this small quan- 
tity of cotton, and by which the value has been 
advanced more than 2,000 per cent." 

The effect of the invention of the cotton gin 
upon the Southern States was immediate and per- 
manent. In the language of Judge Johnson, in 
pronouncing an opinion, in the U. S. Court, held 
in Georgia, December, 1807, " The whole interior 
of the Southern States was languishing, and its 
inhabitants emigrating for want of some object to 
engage their attention and employ their industry, 
when the invention of this machine at once 
opened views to them which set the whole coun- 
try in active motion. From childhood to age, it 
has presented to us a lucrative employment. In- 
dividuals who were depressed with poverty, and 
sunk in idleness, have suddenly risen to wealth 
and respectability. Our debts have been paid 
off. Our capitals have increased, and our lands 
trebled themselves in value. "VYe cannot express 
the weight of the obligation which the country 



owes to this invention. The extent of it cannot 
now be seen. Some faint presentiment may be 
formed, from the reflection that cotton is rapidly 
supplanting wool, flax, silk, and even furs in man- 
ufactures, and may one day profitably supply the 
use of specie in our East India trade. Our sister 
States also participate in tlie benefits of this in- 
vention ; for, besides aflfording the raw material 
for their manufacturers, the bulkiness and quan- 
tity of the article afford a valuable employment 
for their shipping." 

The inventor of a machine of such inestimable 
value, we might very naturally suppose, would 
receive an adequate reward for the benefit con- 
ferred. So far, however, was this from being the 
case, that his whole expectations from the State 
of Georgia were utterly disappointed and frustated, 
and the emoluments received from other States 
but little more than enabled him to meet the ac- 
tual expenses incurred in the almost endless law- 
suits by which alone he defended his undoubted 

Mr. "Whitney was early so impressed with the 
perplexities to which he should be subjected, and 
so reluctant to turn aside from the profession of 
law, for which he was studying, that for some 
time he declined taking out a patent for his inven- 
tion. At length, however, induced by the urgen- 
cy of his friends, he formed a partnership with 
]VIr. Miller, who had become the husband of Mrs. 
Greene, and immediately returned to Connecti- 
cut, for the sake of perfecting the machine ; and, 
after obtaining a patent, of manufacturing, and 
sending a number of them to Georgia. In the 
mean time, the populace became anxious to pos- 


sess an instrument which was so valuable, and, 
unable to obtain it immediately in any other man- 
ner, broke open by night the building which con- 
tained it, and carried it off. In consequence of 
this, the invention became known ; and a number 
of machines, differing slightly fi-om the original, 
were constructed before the patent could be issued. 
The very first letter to Whitney from his part- 
ner, after he himself had returned to Connecticut, 
announced that rival machines were in the field. 
It would be impossible to detail at length the vex- 
ations and perplexities to which the patentees 
were subjected. Money, at that time, was scarce. 
In order to carry on their operations with success, 
it was necessary to go beyond their own means, 
and borrow at a ruinous rate of interest, at one 
time as high as five, six, and even seven per cent, 
fcr month. This was the least of their evils. 
The roller gin and the saw gin were set up in 
opposition to Whitney's. In March, 1795, having 
occasion to visit New York, he was attacked 
with the fever and ague, and laid dp for three 
weeks. As soon as he could go out, he returned 
to New Haven ; and the first tidings that reached 
him, as he stepped on shore, were, that his shop 
was burnt with all his machines, plans, and pa- 
pers. This sad accident, which left him an abso- 
lute bankrupt, with a debt of four thousand dol- 
lars, did not dishearten him. His partner, too, 
in reply to the letter conveying the unpleasant 
intelligence, showed that he could bear misfortune 
with equanimity. " We have been pursuing," he 
says, "a valuable object by honorable means; 
and I trust that all our measures have been such 
as reason and virtue must justify. It has pleased 



Providence to postpone the attainment of this ob- 
ject. In the midst of the reflections which your 
story has suggested, and witb feelings keenly 
awaie to the heavy, the extensive injury we have 
sustained, I feel a secret joy and satisfaction, that 
you possess a mind in this respect similar to my 
own — that you are not disheartened — that you 
do not relinquish the pursuit — and that you will 
persevere and endeavor, at all events, to attain 
the main object. I will devote all my time, all 
my thoughts, all my exertions, and all the money 
I can earn or borrow, to encompass and complete 
the business we have undertaken ; and if fortune 
should, by any future disaster, deny us the boon 
we ask, we will at least deserve it. It shall never 
be said that we have lost an object which a little 
perseverance could have attained." 

"While laboring under this depression, news 
came that the English manufacturers condemned 
their machines, as injuring the cotton. This was 
a heavier blow" than they had felt at all ; since, if 
the fact alleged were true, the invention would be 
regarded with such distrust as virtually to make 
it of no value. Mr. Miller advised Whitney to 
go immediately to England, and counteract, by se- 
vere experiments, the unfortunate opinion. Noth- 
ing but a want of money prevented him. How- 
ever, after a time, respectable manufacturei's, both 
abroad and at home, expressed the opinion that 
the machine was an advantage to the staple. 
This restored its popularity, and would have made 
it valuable to the owners, if the encroachments 
on the patent right had not become so general. 

The first trial which they obtained was in 1797. 
The case seemed so clear that the defendant told 


an acquaintance that he would give two thousand 
dollars to be free from the verdict. Nevertheless 
the jury decided against them. An application 
for a new trial was refused. Strong efforts were 
made for a trial in a second suit ; but, by the non- 
appearance of the Judge, no court was held. In 
1799, they seemed to conclude that nothing was 
to be hoped for in Georgia, and arrangements 
were made in the course of a year or two, for ob- 
taining assistance by direct application to the legis- 
latures of the different States. The first attempt 
was made in South Carolina. Mr. "Whitney, with 
letters from Mr. Jefferson, then President, and 
Mr. Madison, Secretary of State, went to Colum- 
bia, and presented a memorial, in which the use 
of the cotton gin was offered to the State, for one 
hundred thousand dollars. After some discussion, 
the legislature decided to offer fifty thousand, — 
twenty thousand to be paid in hand, and the re- 
mainder, in three annual payments of ten thousand 
dollars each. On application to North Carolina, 
a tax of two shillings and sixpence, to be con- 
tinued for five years, was laid upon every saw, 
some of the gins having as many as forty saws. 
In Tennessee, a tax of thirty-seven cents and a 
half per annum was laid for four years. These 
favorable prospects were not without interruption. 
The year after the grant was made in South 
Carolina, it was annulled by a succeeding legisla- 
ture, and a suit instituted for the recovery of what 
had been already paid. This was in 1803. This 
Governor of Georgia, in his message the same 
year, strongly advised the legislature not to grant 
any thing to Miller and Whitney. Tennesee, 
following the example of South Carolina, sus- 


pended the payment of the tax laid on the pre- 
ceeding year. A similar attempt was made in 
the legislature of North Carolina, but it entirely 
failed ; their regard to the sacredness of the con- 
tract, and the usefulness of the invention, leading 
them, instead, to reaffirm the obligation they had 
assumed. In South Carolina, also, the legislature 
of 1804 rescinded the miserable act of the pre- 
ceding year, and bestowed upon Mr. "Whitney 
" marked commendations." In the midst of the 
perplexities of the year 1803, Mr. Whitney was 
farther distressed by the death of his partner, 
Mr. Miller. He was then left to bear up against 
his trials alone. 

The recompense which he received from North 
and South Carolina relieved him from immediate 
embarrassment, but was neai'ly all swallowed up 
by the expensive lawsuits he was subjected to in 
Georgia. In 1807, the decision of Judge John- 
son, to which we have before referred, was given 
in his favor, and the same was afterwards re- 
affirmed. But now the term of his patent had 
nearly expired. " More than sixty suits had been 
instituted in Georgia before a single decision on 
the merits of his claim was obtained." He made 
six journeys to Georgia, on this troublesome busi- 
ness, generally going by land, in an open sulhey, 
hazarding his health and life, and receiving, what 
he well thought, a most inadequate return for his 
invention. " In all my experience in the thorny 
profession of the law," says Hon. S. M. Hopkins, 
of New York, " I have never seen a case of such 
perseverance, under such persecutions ; nor do I 
believe that I ever knew any other man who would 
have met them with equal coohiess and firmness, 


or who would finally have obtained even the par- 
tial success which he had. He always called on 
me in New York, on his way South, when going 
to attend his endless trials, and to meet the mis- 
chievous contrivances of men who seemed inex- 
haustible in their resources of evil. Even now, 
after thirty years, my head aches to recollect his 
narratives of new trials, fresh disappointments, 
and accumulated wrongs." 

Although Mr. "Whitney manifested so much 
perseverance in securing the profits of his inven- 
tion, yet he became fully convinced that he had 
little to hope for from this source, and he there- 
fore determined to devote his powers to some 
other enterprise. On the 14th of January, 1798, 
he concluded a contract, through the influence of 
Hon. Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, 
to furnish the United States government w'ith ten 
thousand stand of arms, for one hundred and 
thirty-four thousand dollars ; four thousand mus- 
kets to be delivered by the last day of Septem- 
ber, 1799, and the remainder within the following 
year. This was a gigantic undertaking for one 
whose funds were limited, who was obliged to 
erect his manufactory, to find and instruct his 
workmen, to invent a considerable part of his ma- 
chinery, and to make the whole of it. His very 
tools he was obliged to manufacture. His inde- 
pendence, enterprise, industry, and mechanical 
skill, all were taxed to the utmost. It was not a 
branch of manufacture with which he was particu- 
larly conversant, and he was obliged to rely almost 
solely on his own resources, and the sympathy 
and encouragement of his friends. Through their 
cooperation he obtained ten thousand dollars from 


the bank of New Haven ; live thousand more 
were advanced to him on the part of the United 
States, by the Secretary of the Treasury. With 
this he commenced his works at the foot of the 
East Rock, about two miles from New Haven. 
He soon found that it would be absolutely impos- 
sible to keep his contract so as to deliver the i'ull 
number of muskets in season. " It was, in fact, 
eight years instead of two, before the whole ten 
thousand were completed." 

The skill of Mr. Whitney greatly improved the 
manufactui-e of arms in the United States, and his 
machinery was afterwards adopted in nearly all 
the public and private manufactories of arms 
throughout the country. " In 1822, Mr. Calhoun, 
then Secretary of War, admitted, in a conversa- 
tion with Mr. Whitney, that the government were 
saving twenty-five thousand dollars per annum, at 
the two public armories alone, by his improve- 
ments." Besides this, the machinery employed 
in the manufacture of arms was applicable, to a 
great extent, to many manufactures of iron and 
steel, and hence became of very general utility. 

" Under the system of Mr. Whitney," says a 
writer to whom we are indebted for nearly all 
that is stated in this sketch,* " the several parts 
of the musket were carried along through the 
various processes of manufacture, in lots of some 
hundreds or thousands of each. In their various 
stages of progress, they were made to undergo 
successive operations by machinery, which not 
only vastly abridged the labor, but at the same 
time so fixed and determined their form and di- 

* Silliman's Jounial, vol. 21. 


mensions, as to make comparatively little skill 
necessary in the manual ofjerations. Such was 
the construction and arrangement of this machi- 
nery, that it could be worked by persons of little 
or no experience ; and yet it performed the work 
with so much precision, that -when, in the later 
stages of the process, the several parts of the mus- 
ket came to be put together, they were as readily 
adapted to each other, as if each had been made 
for its respective fellow. A lot of these parts 
passed through the hands of several different 
workmen successively (and in some cases several 
times returned, at intervals more or less re- 
mote, to the hands of the same workman), each 
performing upon them every time some single 
and simple operation, by machinery or by hand, 
until they were completed. Thus Mr. Whitney 
reduced a complex business, embracing many 
ramifications, almost to a mere succession of sim- 
ple processes, and was thereby enabled to make a 
division of the labor among his workmen, on a 
principle which was not only more extensive, but 
also altogether more philosophical, than that pur- 
sued in the English method. In England, the la- 
bor of making a musket was divided, by making 
the different workmen the manufacturers of differ- 
ent limbs ; while in Mr. Whitney's system the 
work was divided with reference to its nature, 
and several workmen performed different opera- 
tions on the same limb. It will be readily seen 
that under- such an arrangement, any person of 
ordinary capacity would soon acquire sufficient 
dexterity to perform a branch of the work. In- 
deed, so easy did Mr. Whitney find it to instruct 
new and inexperienced workmen, that he uniform- 


ly preferred to do so, rather than to attempt to 
combat the prejudices of those who had learned 
the business under a different system." All the 
parts of his manufactoiy were arranged so as to 
be most permanently useful, and yet with a re- 
gard to their beauty. It was a maxim with him 
that there is nothing worth doing that is not worth 
doing well. 

In the year 1812, he entered into another con- 
tract with the United States, to manufacture fif- 
teen thousand stand of arms. He also made an 
engagement of a similar nature with the State of 
New York. In the same year, he applied to 
Congress for a renewal of his patent for the cot- 
ton gin. The grounds of the application were the 
great utility of the invention to the South, — the 
difficulties he had before labored under in securing 
his rights, and the fact that from some States he 
had received no compensation at all, and from no 
State had received the amount of half a cent per 
pound on the cotton cleaned with his machines in 
one year. " Estimating the value of the labor of 
one man at twenty cents per day, the whole 
amount which had been received by him for his 
invention was not equal to the value of the labor 
saved in one hour, by his machines then in use in 
the United States." 

Notwithstanding this, the application was gen- 

fierally opposed by the Southern members, and was 
lost. " The difficulties with which I have had to 
contend," said Mr. Whitney, in a letter to Robert 
Fulton, " have originated, principally, in the want 
of a disposition in mankind to do justice. My 
invention was new, and distinct from every other ; 
it stood alone. It was not interwoven with any 


thing before kno\Yn ; and it can seldom happen 
that an invention or improvement is so strongly 
marked, and can be so clearly and specifically 
identified ; and I have always believed, that I 
should have had no difficulty in causing ray rights 
to be respected, if it had been less valuable, and 
been used only by a small portion of the commu- 
nity. But the use of this machine being im- 
mensely profitable to almost every planter in the 
cotton districts, all were interested in trespassing 
upon the patent right, and each kept the other in 
countenance. * * * At one time, but few men 
in Georgia dared to come into court, and testify 
to the most simple facts within their knowledge 
relative to the use of the machine. In one in- 
stance I had great difficulty in proving that the 
machine had been used in Georgia ; although at 
the same moment, there were three separate sets 
of this machinery in motion within fifty yards of 
the building in which the court sat, and all so 
near that the rattling of the wheels was distinctly 
heard on the steps of the court-house ! " 

For the remaining years of his life, Mr. Whit- 
ney devoted himself with great success to the va- 
rious concerns of his armory, all the operations 
of which he personally superintended. As early 
as 1822, he experienced the first attack of the dis- 
ease to which he finally yielded. Its progress 
was attended with paroxysms of intense pain. 
These periods of suffering recurred at intervals 
during 1823 and 1824, In November of the lat- 
ter year, the gripe of the disease was renewed too 
firmly to be unloosed ; and, after two months of 
almost constant suffering, he expired on the 8th 
of January, 1825. 



His death was regarded by the citizens of New 
Haven as a public calamity, and a eulogy was 
pronounced over his grave by President Day, of 
Yale College. During his last sickness, his mind 
was as active as ever ; and his peculiar taste for 
invention manifested itself partly in devising 
methods for alleviating, so far as mechanical 
means could avail, the distresses of his terrible 

Mr. Whitney's acquaintance with public men 

was very general ; and by all, without respect to 

political party, he was highly esteemed. " The 

operations of his mind," it has been said, " were 

not so remarkable for rapidity as for precision. 

This arose not from want of mental activity and 

ardor of feeling, but from habitual caution, and 

from his having made it his rule to be satisfied 

with nothing short of perfection." His ingenuity 

showed itself in the minute arrangements of his 

dwelling and the buildings about it, as truly as in 

those greater works by which he became so wide- 

/ly known. "The several drawers of his bureaus 

/ were locked by a single movement of one key of 

\ a peculiar construction ; and an attempt to open 

■{ any drawer except ' one, would prove ineffectual 

I even with the right key, which, however, being 

I applied in the proper place, threw all the bolts at 

' one movement." The fastenings to the doors of 

his barns Avere peculiar and ingenious. Even the 

halters, by which the cattle were tied, were so 

contrived by a weight at one end, that the animal 

could freely move his head, but not easily draw 

out the rope so as to become entangled with it. 

A writer, from whom we have quoted before,* 

* Hon. S. AL Hopkins. 


says of him, " I wish I had time to bring fully to 
your view, for your consideration, that particular 
excellence of mind in Avhich he excelled all men 
that I ever heard of. I do not mean that his 
power of forming mechanical combinations was 
unlimited, but that he had it under such perfect 
control, I imagine that he never yet failed of 
accomplishing any result of mechanical powers 
and combinations which he sought for ; nor ever 
sought for one for which he had not some occa- 
sion, in order to accomplish the business in hand. 
I mean that his invention never failed, and never 
ran wild. It accomplished, I imagine, without 
exception, all that he ever asked of it, and no more. 
I emphasize this last expression, from having in 
mind the case of a man, whose invention appeared 
to be more fertile even than Whitney's ; but he 
had it under no control. When he had imagined 
and half executed one fine thing, his mind darted 
oflf to another, and he perfected nothing. AVhit- 
ney perfected all that he attempted ; carried each 
invention to its utmost limit of usefulness ; and then 
reposed until he had occasion for something else." 
Mr. Whitney's manners were dignified and 
courteous. Even during his severe sickness, he 
never lost his sense of what was due to propriety 
and decorum. This was owing in part to a lib- 
eral education, which, even when it does little else 
for a man, is apt to confer a certain undefinable 
ease and self-possession, and in part to his exten- 
sive intercourse with men of high standing in so- 
ciety, and of various attainment. In the words of 
the author of his memoir,* " It no doubt also con- 

* Professor Olmsted, in Silliman's JoarnaL 

488 ELI WniTXEY. 

tributed not a little to conciliate the respect of 
those States which purchased the patent right, to 
find in the person of the patentee, instead of some 
illiterate, visionary projector, a gentleman of ele- 
vated mind and cultivated manners, and of a per- 
son elegant and dignified." The time will come, 
it is to be hoped, when it will not be thought that 
a man must necessarily be unfitted for the higher 
arts of life, or the pursuits of business, by having 
received a liberal education. Men have indeed 
passed through the usual routine of college life, 
and have become unfortunate merchants, poor me- 
chanics, unsuccessful farmers ; but we have yet to 
learn that their education made them so. The 
fault should rather be charged upon their lack of 
those qualities which would give success under any 
circumstances, or to the unfortunate choice of a 
pursuit for which they were radically unfitted, or 
to some of those unforeseen or uncontrollable cir- 
cumstances against which neither industry nor 
sagacity is always a sure safeguard. 

Mr. Whitney's moral qualities were as much 
cultivated as his intellectual. From his religious 
faith he derived the surest consolations under the 
adversities which he was called to meet, and 
amidst the sufferings of his last sickness. We 
will close this sketch with an extract from the 
eulogy pronounced by President Day : — " The 
higher qualities of his mind, instead of unfitting 
him for ordinary duties, were firmly tempered 
"with taste and judgment in the business of life. 
His manners were formed by an extensive inter- 
course with the best society. He had an energy 
of character which carried him through difficulties 
too formidable for ordinary minds. With these 


advantages, he entered on the career of life ; his 
efforts were crowned with success. An ample 
competency was the reward of his industry and 
skill. He had gained the respect of all classes of 
the community ; his opinions were regarded with 
peculiar deference, by the man of science as well 
as the practical artist. His large and liberal 
views, his knowledge of the world, the wide range 
of his observations, his public spirit, and his acts 
of beneficence, had given him a commanding in- 
fluence in society. The gentleness and refine- 
ment of his manners, and the delicacy of his 
feelings in the social and domestic relations, had 
endeared him to a numerous circle of relatives 
and friends. 

" And what were his reflections in review of the 
whole, in connection with the distressing scenes 
of the last period of life ? ' All is as the flower of 
the grass : the wind passeth over it, and it is 
gone.' All on earth is transient ; all in eternity 
is substantial and enduring. His language was, 
' I am a sinner ; but God is merciful. The only 
ground of acceptance before him is through the 
great Mediator.' From this mercy, through this 
Mediator, is derived our -solace under this heavy 
bereavement. On this rest the hopes of the 
mourners, that they shall meet the deceased with 
joy at the resurrection of the just." 


When Sir "Walter Scott was engaged in pre- 
paring his " Border Minstrelsy," he accidentally 
met Avith a coadjutor in a quarter where he least 
expected it. There might be often seen at that 
time (it was the year 1800), in the small book- 
shop of Mr. Constable, at Edinburgh, a young 
man of uncouth " aspect and gestui*es," poring 
over the ancient volumes of that repository, " bal- 
anced on a ladder with a folio in his hand, like 
Dominie Sampson." A friend of Sir Walter, 
who visited this shop for the sake of discovering 
whatever in it could be of any assistance in the 
forthcoming work, fell into conversation with this 
stranger, and soon discovered that his mind was 
crowded with all sorts of learning, and especially 
that he was familiar with the early Scottish le- 
gends, traditions, and ballads. The young man 
was John Leyden, some of whose productions in 
verse, principally translations from the Greek, 
Latin, and Noi'thern European languages, pub- 
lished in the Edinburgh Magazine, had for several 
years excited interest and curiosity. He was 
soon numbered among the friends of the great 
Scottish poet and novelist, and continued in inti- 
mate connection with him, until his early death. 

JoHX Leyden was born at Denholm, a small 
village of Roxburghshire, Scotland, on the 8th of 
September, 1775. His father was a farmer, of 
simple manners and irreproachable life. Shortly 
after the birth of this son, his parents removed to 



a cottage belonging to his mother's uncle, where 
they lived for sixteen years. The family was 
humble, but cheerful, contented, and intelligent. 
Leyden was taught to read by his grandmother, 
who resided in the family. His great eagerness 
for learning early began to manifest itself. The 
histories of the Bible attracted his attention, and 
he soon learned every important event mentioned 
in tiie Old and the New Testament. 

There were few books in the cottage except 
the Bible, and such others as were common to the 
Scotch peasants ; but his young mind was strongly 
excited by the ballads and legends of the country, 
and by the stories recited to him by a blind uncle 
of his mother. He was ten years old before he 
went to school, and even then his opportunities 
for learning were very small. The school-house 
was two miles from his father's cottage ; and the 
school was broken up, soon after he began to at- 
tend it, by the death of its master. But, during 
this short period of study, he had learned some- 
thing, and his mind was roused to activity. For 
want of other subjects to dwell upon, he became 
more and more deeply interested in the traditions 
of the country. The romantic and superstitious 
tales of the nursery became food to his mind. 
"When he was eleven years old, a companion gave 
him some account of an odd volume of the "Ara- 
bian Nights' Entertainments," which belonged to 
a blacksmith's apprentice, who lived some miles 
distant. It was winter ; but the boy's mind, full 
of the wonders he had heard, could only be sat- 
isfied with a sight of the wonderful volume. 
He started early in the morning, and almost at 
daybreak reached the blacksmith's shop. The 


apprentice was not at home, and he was obliged 
to travel still further to find him. He requested 
the privilege of reading the book in presence of 

i'the owner, for to borrow so great a treasure was 
more than he could expect. His humble request 
was refused. The little boy could not, however, 
give up his cherished hopes ; and he actually stood 
all day beside the ungenerous apprentice, till the 
lad, ashamed of his own churlishness or worn out 
by Leyden's perseverance, actually gave him the 
book. He had suffered hunger and fatigue, but 
he had gained his treasure. Perhaps, according 
to the suggestion of Sir Walter Scott, " these fas- 
cinating tales, obtained with so much difficulty, 
may have given his mind that decided turn to- 
wards oriental learning, wdiich was displayed 
through his whole life, and illustrated by his re- 
gretted and too early decease." 

Another teacher came to the school, and taught 
him a Smattering of Latin ; another still, gave him 
a little knowledge of arithmetic. In the mean- 
time, his desire for learning became so great, that 
his parents determined if possible to educate him, 
intending that he should one day become a minis- 
ter in the Scottish church. He was accordingly 
placed for two years under the charge of Mr. 
Duncan, a Cameronian minister at Denholm. In 
November, 1790, with "Httle Latin, and less 
Greek," he entered the University at Edinburgh. 
To the well-educated and well-bred students of 
the University, he was an object of curiosity and 
of some merriment. Professor Dalzel used to 
say, that he had seldom known any young man 
who at first appeared worse prepared for college, 
and who so speedily surmounted the difficulties 


under which he had labored. When he first rose 
to recite, his rustic air, his undaunted manner, his 
high harsh voice, his provincial accent, provoked 
the laughter of the class, and nearly destroyed 
the gravity of the professor. It was soon per- 
ceived, however, that he had acquired a vast store 
of information ; and although, in his processes of 
study, he had not thought it necessary to become 
master of grammatical rules, his strength and 
acuteness of mind soon made themselves felt. 
To every branch of leai'ning he applied himself 
with most determined resolution. The Greek 
language was his favorite, and he became familiar 
with its best authors. Besides the ordinary col- 
lege studies, he plunged with great ardor into 
whatever others happened to attract his attention. 
It was his habit to devote himself with his whole 
soul, for the time being, to whatever he undertook, 
until he had in some measure mastered its diffi- 
culties, and had become so familiar with it, that at 
a future time he could pursue it with apparent 
ease. He used to say, when objections were 
made to the miscellaneous nature of his studies — 
" Never mind ; — if you have the scaffolding ready, ' 
you can run up the masonry when you please." i 
It must not, however, be inferred that because his 
retentive memory could thus accomplish much,' 
the same method would be best for another. By I 
his perseverance and strong deteraiination, he 
became acquainted, not only Avith Greek and 
Latin, but with French, Spanish, Italian, Ger- 
man, and Icelandic; and also studied Hebrew, 
Arabic, and Persian. 

Although he possessed so decided a talent for 
the acquisition of languages, he engaged eagerly 


in various other brandies of study. Mathematics 

iwas the only one for which he had little taste, 
and in which he made the least advance. His 
vacations, which occurred in the summer, he spent 
at home ; reviewing and arranging, somewliat more 
methodically, what he had acquired during the 
winter at the University. He fitted up a sort of 
furnace for chemical experiments in a secluded 
part of the glen, near the village ; but his chief 
place of study (his father's cottage not being large 
enough to afford him any) was the village church. 
O[nto this singular retirement he found his way 
through an open window : a retired pew served 
as a depository of his library and cabinet of curious 
specimens ; and the sacredness of the place, as 
well as certain superstitious fears connected with 
it, to which Leyden now and then added some 
new element by means of tradition or story, pre- 
served him from disagreeable intrusions. 

The number of his books was small, and the 
country society, congenial to him, very restricted. 
Froissart's Chronicles, which he found in the li- 
brary of a neighbouring gentleman, was an inesti- 
mable treasure. At college he gradually became 
intimate with the best scholars, among whom was 
the poet Campbell. After spending five or six 
years at Edinburgh, through the kindness of 
Professor Dalzel, he obtained a situation as a pri- 
vate tutor in a gentleman's family, which he re- 
tained until, in 1798, he accompanied two young 
gentlemen to the University of St. Andrew's. 

The secluded situation, the great antiquity, and 
the decayed splendor of this northern seat of 
learning, quite suited his fancy ; while its rich li- 
braries gave him the opportunity of pursuing his 


favorite studies. While at St. Andrew's, the fame 
of Mungo Park, whose travels had just become 
known, excited hid interest in ' Africa. He was 
fascinated by the strangeness of the stories which 
he heard of that singular country, and devoted 
himself for a time to study its antiquities and his- 
tory. As a result of his inquiries, he published, 
in 1799, an octavo volume, entitled "A Histor- 
ical and Philosophical Sketch of the Discoveries 
and Settlements of the Europeans in ^Northern 
and Western Africa, at the close of the 18th cen- 
tury." He subsequently proposed to extend this 
to four volumes, and had made preparations for 
the purpose, and even completed arrangements 
for publishing it with Messrs. Longman & Co., 
when other events changed entirely the course of 
his life. The volume which was published, he 
wrote in about six weeks, and that too when his 
health was not very good. During the same pe- 
riod of his life, he was writing articles for the 
New London Review, and occasionally sending to 
the Edinburgh Magazine those short poems, 
translated from various languages, to which refer- 
ence was made at the beginning of this sketch. 

The winter of 1799-1800, he spent in Edin- 
burgh, where he greatly enlarged the circle of his 
literary acquaintance, while he still pursued his 
studies with the utmost devotion. His abstemious-^ 
ness was remarkable. He seemed to have no need 
of food, often during the entire day eating nothing 
but a morsel of bread ; and being almost as indif- 
ferent to sleep. When interrupted during the 
day by the demands of society, he would make up 
the deficiency by studying nearly all the night. 
His pecuniary resources were very small ; but, 


with a noble resolution, he preserved his indepen- 
dence by severe economy. Never in his life did 
wealth seem to have peculiar charms for him, nor 
poverty its usual evils. In 1800, he -was ordained 
as a minister in the Scottish church ; but neither 
his habits nor character fitted him for the sacred 
calling. He never entered upon its !?olemn du- 
ties farther than to preach a few sermons. With 
greater zeal he devoted himself to literature. He 
made a tour to the Highlands and the Hebrides, 
and " investigated the decaying traditions of Cel- 
tic manners and story, which are yet preserved in 
the wild districts of Moidart and Kuoidart." 

Having become acquainted with Sir Walter 
Scott, as before suggested, just as that poet was 
preparing his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Bor- 
der," he entered into the publication with charac- 
teristic zeal, inspired not only by his friendship for 
Sir Walter, but by his native love of the subject, 
and patriotic attachment to Scotland. "An inter- 
esting fragment," says Scott, " had been obtained 
of an ancient historical ballad ; but the remainder, 
to the great disturbance of the editor and his co- 
adjutor, was not to be recovered. Two days 
afterwards, while the editor was sitting with some 
company after dinner, a sound was heard at a 
distance hke that of the whistling of a tempest 
through the torn rigging of the vessel Avhich scuds 
before it. The sounds increased as they ap- 
proached nearer, and Leyden (to the great aston- 
ishment of such of the guests as did not know 
him) burst into the room, chanting the desiderated 
ballad, with the most enthusiastic gestures, and 
all the energy of the saw-tones of his voice. It 
turned out that he had walked between forty and 


fifty miles, and back again, for the sole purpose 
of visiting an old person who possessed this pre- 
cious remnant of antiquity." 

In 1801, hp published a new edition of an old 
tract, called the " Complaynt of Scotland." This 
singular production of the early part of the 16th 
century treats of the public and private life of 
Scotland, its poetry, music, and learning ; and 
gave Leyden an opportunity, in a preliminary dis- 
sertation and by notes, to show his abundant 
stores of antiquarian knowledge. " The intimate 
acquaintance which he has displayed with Scottish 
antiquities of every kind, from manuscript histo- 
ries and rare chronicles down to the tradition of 
the peasant, and the rhymes even of the nursery, 
evince an extent of research, power of arrange- 
ment, and facility of recollection, which has never 
been equalled in this department." 

He also wrote a poem, entitled '• Scenes of In- 
fancy," which was afterwards published, and in 
which he commemorates the circumstance of his 
own youth, and the traditions of his native vale 
of Teviot. In tlie mean time he became filled 
with a desire to travel: to extend the bounda- 
ries of geographical and literary knowledge be- 
came, he said, " his thought by day, and his 
dream by night, and the discoveries of Mungo 
Park haunted his very slumbers." He actually 
began to correspond with the African Society, 
with a view to explore, under their auspices, the 
interior of those inhospitable regions which have 
been the grave of so many enterprising travellers. 

When his serious purpose became fully known 
to his friends, they felt extremely anxious to di- 
vert him from the project. They thought that 
42 * 


his enthusiasm and ability to acquire foreign lan- 
guages would find ample scope in the British 
East Indies, and accordingly applied to tliose in 
power for an appointment. Through the kindness 
of Mr. Dundas, one was promised ; but the only 
place at his disposal was that of surgeon's assistant. 
This could only be held by one who had a med- 
ical degree, and who should pass a satisfactory 
examination before the medical board of the India 
House. Only six months were wanting before 
the examination must take place. Leyden was 
not discouraged. His determination rose in pro- 
portion as the attempt seemed formidable. What 
would have utterly appalled another, inspired him 
with fresh zeal. After incredible exertion, the 
task was accomplished. He received his diploma 
as surgeon at Edinburgh, and the degree of M.D. 
at St. Andrew's. 

Leyden's fame as a scholar was now extended 
wide, and he numbered among his acquaintances 
and friends many men in the kingdom of high 
note as statesmen, poets, and scholars. Among 
the scholars was Alexander JSIurray (a sketch of 
whose life is given in the first volume of this 
compilation) ; among the future statesmen was 
Brougham ; among the poets. Sir Walter Scott. 
In December, 1802, he received orders to join the 
fleet of Indiamen. He immediately went to Lon- 
don, but, from over-exertion and anxiety of mind, 
found himself unable to join the ship to which he 
was destined. It was fortunate for him that it 
was so, as the vessel was wrecked in going down 
the river, and a large number of the passengers 
were di'owned. In consequence of this event and 
the changes attendant upon it, he did not sail until 


April, 1803, when he bade farewell to England, 
never to see her again. " Thus set forth on hi8 
voyage," says Sir "Walter Scott, " perhaps the 
first British traveller that ever sought India, 
moved neither by the love of wealth nor of power ; 
and who, despising aUke the luxuries commanded 
by the one, and the pomp attachecj to the other, 
was guided solely by the wish of extending our 
knowledge of Oriental literature, and distinguish- 
ing himself as its most successful cultivator." 
His commission as surgeon was but a cover to 
the learned pursuits in which he so vigorously 

Soon after his arrival in India, he was attached 
to a commission for surveying the districts of the 
Mysore, and began to form some deliberate plan 
for active exertion. " There were but two routes," 
he says in a letter, " in a person's choice ; first, 
to sink into a mere professional drudge, and, by 
strict economy, endeavor to collect a few thou- 
sand pounds in the course of twenty years ; or, 
secondly, to aspire beyond it, and, by superior 
knowledge of India, its laws, relations, politics, 
and languages, to claim a situation somewhat 
more respectable." The difficulties were greater 
than he anticipated. His pay was small ; his ex- 
penses in pjrosecuting his studies, large. Still he 
persevered, and, besides performing his duties as 
surgeon, marching by day and night in a hot cli- 
mate, and attending to the hospital, he devoted 
more or less attention to the "Arabic, Persic, 
Hindostani, Mahratta, Tamal, Telinga, Canara, 
Sanscrit, Malayalam, Malay, and Armenian." It 
is no wonder that his health, before long, gave 
way under this pressure of labor. After trying 


various situations in the Presidency of Madras, 
he concluded to sail for the Prince of Wales 
Island. Although thus disappointed, he was in 
no manner disheartened, and wrote to his friends 
in a style of gay exaggeration, which exhibited 
the perfect buoyancy of his spirits. After de- 
scribing his studies and labors, he goes on : " To 
what I have told you, you are to add constant and 
necessary exposure to the sun, damps and dews 
from the Ganges, and putrid exhalations of 
marshes, before I had been properly accustomed 
to the climate ; constant rambling in the haunts of 
tigers, leopards, bears, and serpents of thirty or 
forty feet long, that make nothing of swallowing a 
buffalo, by way of demonstrating their appetite in 
a morning ; together with smaller and more dan- 
gerous snakes, whose haunt are perilous, and bite 
deadly ; and you have a faint idea of a situation, 
in which, with health, I lived as happy as the day 
was long. It was occasionally diversified with 
rapid jaunts of a hundred miles or so, as fast as 
horse or bearers could carry me, by night or day — 
swimming through rivers — afloat in an old brass 
kettle at midnight ! — 0, I could tell you adven- 
tures to outrival any witch that ever swam in egg- 
shell or sieve ; but you would undoubtedly imagine 
I wanted to impose on you, were I to relate what 
I have seen and passed through. No ! I certain- 
ly shall never repent of having come to India. 
It has awakened energies in me that I scarcely 
imagined that I possessed." 

At Puloo Penang (or Prince of "Wales Island) 
his time did not pass unoccupied. He visited the 
coasts of Sumatra, and the Malayan peninsula, 
and picked up the materials for an essay, pub- 


lished in the 10th vol. of the Asiatic Researches, 
on the Languages and Literature of the Indo- 
Chinese Nations. 

Ahhough much occupied while at this island, 
his spirits were sometimes much depressed, as 
seems evident from certain lines which he wrote 
for New Year's day, 1806. The last two stanzas 
are the following: — 

" Fi-iends of my youth, for ever dear, 
Wliere arc you from this bosom fled ? 
A lonely man I linger here, 
Like one that has been long time dead. 

Foredoomed to seek an early tomb, 
For whom the pallid grave-flowers blow, 
I hasten on my destined doom. 
And sternly mock at joy or woe ! " 

In 1806, he removed from Penang to Calcutta, 
and, through the influence of Lord Minto, was 
appointed a professor in the Bengal College ; but 
.soon after was made Judge, and was thus called 
to act in a judicial capacity among the natives ; 
for which, his knowledge of their language, man- 
ners and customs well fitted him. He had now a 
considerable salary ; but, after remitting a part to 
his father in Scotland, he devoted the remainder 
entirely to advance his acquaintance with Eastern 
literature. He avoided the expensive establish- 
ments and ordinary luxuries of the East, and re- 
mained, as he was in Scotland, a frugal, patient, 

In 1809, he was appointed Commissioner of 
the Court of Requests in Calcutta ; and in the fol- 
lowing year, having resigned this office, he obtained 
that of Assay-Master of the Mint In 1811, 
the British government bavins: undertaken an ex- 


pedition against the island of Java, Dr. Leyden 
was called to accompany Lord Minto, both that 
he might investigate the manners, language, and 
literature of the tribes on the island, and because 
it was thought that his extensive knowledge of 
Eastern life might be of importance to the Gov- 
ernor-General in negociations with the natives. 
When they reached the island, his enthusiastic 
desire of being the first Briton who should land, 
led him to throw himself into the surf, and thus 
reach the shore among the foremost. Immediate- 
ly afterwards, as soon as the troops took pos- 
session of Batavia, he hastened to examine a col- 
lection of Indian manuscripts, stored in a large 
warehouse. On leaving the ill-ventilated apart- 
ment, he was attacked with a fit of shivering. 
This Avas the premonitory stroke of the fever. 
In three days he was no more. 

Thus died, August 21, 1811, at the early age 
of thirty-six, one whose literary promise was 
great, and whose actual performance was consid- 
erable. He aimed at accomplishing more in the 
way of Oriental learning than any who had pre- 
ceded him in that difficult field. Had he lived, 
he would probably, with his industry and enthu- 
siasm, have attained the goal of his wishes. But 
his extraordinary zeal led him to be careless of 
the means of preserving life and health. When 
at Mysore, shortly after his arrival from England, 
he was so ill that his physician despaired of his 
life ; but the endeavors of his friends to induce 
him to relax his studies were vain. " When un- 
able to sit up, he used to prop himself up with 
pillows, and continue his translations. One day, 
Gieneral Malcolm came in, and the physician said 


to liim, * I am glad you are here ; you will he^ 
able to persuade Leyden to attend to my advice.f 
I have told him before, and now I repeat, that he 
will die if he does not leave off his studies and re-' 
main quiet.' ' Very well, Doctor,' exclaimed 
L^den, 'you have done your duty, but you 
must now hear me ; I cannot be idle, and whether 
I die or live, the wheel must go round to the last ;' 
and he actually continued, under the depression 
of a fever and a. liver-complaint, to study more 
than ten hours each day." His great aftstemious- 
ness doubtless contributed greatly to his usual 
good health. 

His method of studying Avas somewhat singular. 
The following account is from the pen of General 
Sir John Malcolm : — " It is not easy to convey 
an idea of the method which Dr. Leyden used in 
his studies, or to describe the unconquerable ar- 
dour with which these were pursued. During 
his early residence in India, I had a particular 
opportunity of observing both. "When he read a 
lesson in Persian, a person near him, whom he 
had taught, wrote down each word on a long slip 
of paper, which was afterwards divided into as 
many pieces as thei'e were words, and pasted in 
alphabetical order, under different heads of verbs, 
nouns, &c., into a blank book that formed a vocab- 
ulary of each day's lesson. All this he had, in a 
few hours, instructed a very ignorant native to 
do ; and this man he used, in his broad accent, to 
call ' one of his mechanical aids.' " — " His mem- 
ory was most tenacious, and he sometimes loaded 
it with lumber. When he was at Mysore, an ar- 
gument occurred upon a point of English history . 


it was agreed to refer it to Leyden, and, to the 
astonishment of all parties, he repeated verbatim 
the whole of an act of parliament in the reign of 
James, relative to Ireland, which decided the 
point in dispute. On being asked how he came 
to charge his memory with such extraordin&ry 
matter, he sa^d that several years before, when he 
was writing on the changes which had taken 
place in the English language, this act was one 
of the documents to which he had referred as a 
specimen of the style of that age, and that he had 
retained every word in his memory." 

In his manners he was eccentric and rough, 
and he often trespassed against the outward laws 
of ceremony. His voice was harsh ; and in con- 
versation, especially in argument, he used it in 
its loudest key, and never hesitated to express 
himself in the most vigorous language. But his 
defects were atoned for by great virtues. His 
temper " was mild and generous, and he could 
bear, with perfect good humor, raillery on his 
foibles." He was full of good humor, kindness, 
and magnanimity, and, with all his boldness, never 
intentionally wounded the feelings of others. He 
won the undoubted love of many men of great 
minds, and was favored with the friendship of 
women of high culture and refinement. "No 
man," says Lord IVIinto, " whatever his condition 
might be, ever possessed a mind so entirely ex- 
empt from every sordid passion, so neghgent of 
fortune, and all its grovelling pursuits, — in a 
word, so entirely disinterested, — nor ever owned 
a spirit more firmly and nobly independent." 

His literary and poetical works have been pub- 


Hshed since his death. In 1826, the Memoirs 
of Baber,* chiefly translated by him, and com- 
pleted by his friend William Erskine, were pub- 
lished for the benefit of his father. His literary 
property was committed to the care of Mr. Heber. 
When Sir John Malcolm visited Lord Minto, 
in Roxburghshire, he inquired for the elder 
Leyden, and, in the course of the conversation 
with him, he expressed his regret at the delays in 
realizing the small property of the son ; and " re- 
marked that he was authorized by Mr. Heber to 
say, that such manuscripts as were likely to pro- 
duce a profit should be published as soon as possi- 
ble for the benefit of his family." " Sir," said the 
old man with animation and with tears in his 
eyes, " God blessed me with a son, who, had he 
been spared, would have been an honor to his 
country ! As it is, I beg of Mr. Heber, in any 
publication he may intend, to think more of his 
memory than of my want. The money you speak 
of would be a great comfort to me in my old age ; 
but, thanks be to the Almighty, I have good 
health, and can still earn my livelihood ; and I 
pray therefore of you and Mr. Heber to publish 
nothing that is not for my son's good fame." One 
can hardly find, in the lower or the higher walks 
of life, the expression of a more delicate and ten- 
der regard for the good name of a departed friend. 
Leyden was remembered with great affection 
by his friends, and by few with more sincerity and 
warmth of feeling than by Scott, who gives a 

* An interesting account of this remarkable work, written 
in the early part of the 16th century, may be found in the 
Edinburgh Keview, for June, 1S27. 


brief tribute to his memory ia " The Lord of the 

" The clans of Jura's rugged coast 

Lord Ronald's call obey, 
And Scarba's isle, whose tortured shoi-e 
Still rings to Corricvrcken's, 

And lonely Colonsay: — 
Scenes sung by him ■who sings no more ! 
His bright and brief career is o'er, 

And mute his tuneful strains ; 
Quenched is his lamp of varied lore, 
That loved the light of song to pour : 
A distant and a deadly shore 

Has Leyden's cold remains." 

Lord of ihe Isles. — CardoA, si. 11 


The early printers were, almost of necessity, 
scholars. Books being published mainly for the 
use of the learned, they were obliged, not 
merely to attend to the mechanical part of their 
trade, but to collate manuscripts and determine 
the true reading of the text. Their influence in 
advancing the general interests of society, by dif- 
fusing knowledge, can hardly be overrated. Aldus 
Manutius, in Italy, in the early part of the 16th 
century, had a reputation for learning and critical 
skill which gained him the friendship of the most 
distinguished scholars in the world. Under cir- 
cumstances of great difficulty, he produced the 
earliest printed edition of many of the Greek 
and Roman classics. He published, also, Greek 
and Latin grammars, and the earliest Greek and 
Latin dictionary ; while, at the same time, he gave 
lectures on ancient literature. His press was es- 
tablished at* Venice, and the symbol on the title- 
page of his books was a fish entwined about an 
anchor; a symbol which some modern printers 
have adopted, while they have also entitled them- 
selves his disciples. His trade and his learning 
were inherited by his son. 

A circumstance of apparently slight importance, 
in connection with the press of Manutius, has 
rendered the year 1501 " a sort of epoch in liter- 
ary history. It was, simply, that in that year he 
introduced a new Italic character, more easily 
read than the Roman ; and what was of still more 



consequence, began to print octavos and duodeci- 
mos, instead of the old folios. ' With what pleas- 
ure,' says a French historian, 'must the studious 
man, the lover of letters, have beheld these be- 
nevolent octavos, these Virgils and Horaces, con- 
tained in one little volume, which he might carry 
in his pocket while travelling or in a walk ; which, 
besides, cost him hardly more than two of our 
francs ; so that he could get a dozen of them for 
the price of one of those folios, that had hitherto 
been the sole furniture of his library. The ap- 
pearance of these correct and well-printed octavos 
ought to be as much remarked as the substitution 
of printed books for manuscripts itself.'" 

Contemporary with this family in Italy, was 
that of the Stephenses in France. Robert, one 
of the most eminent, was born at Paris, in 1503. 
His father was a printer, remarkable for the cor- 
rectness of his editions. His mark was the old 
arms of the University of Paris, with the motto, 
JPltis old quam vini. After the death of his 
father, Robert worked for a time with Simon de 
Colines, who had been his fathei''s partner ; and 
during this time published an editioi>of the New 
Testament, more correct and more convenient 
than any which preceded it. This, however, ren- 
dered him suspected, by the Doctors of the Sor- 
bonne (as the Theological College was called), 
of a tendency towards Protestantism. The^work 
had a rapid sale. About the year 1526, he dis- 
solved partnership with de Colines, and established 
a press of his own. He had previously married 
Petronilla, the daughter of the celebrated printer 
Jodocus Badius. Her learning was a fit accom- 
paniment to that of her husband, as she taught 


Latin to her household so effectually, that every 
member of it could speak that language. The 
year after he established himself alone, he pub- 
lished one of the treatises of Cicero ; and, from that 
time till his death, he hardly suffered a twelve- 
month to pass without sending forth a new edition 
of some one of the classics, with greater accuracy 
and beauty than had been seen before. In order 
to insure correctness, he was accustomed to hang 
his proof sheets in a conspicuous place, and offer 
a reward to him who should detect an error. 

A work upon which he expended the most 
careful labor, was his first edition of the Latin 
Bible. To make it as perfect as possible, he com- 
pared the text with manuscripts, and consulted 
the ablest divines ; — he also had new types cast, 
so that its appearance should equal its accuracy. 
The work, however, served as an occ»ion of re- 
viving against him the jealousy of the Sorbonnists, 
who not only suspected him of protestantism, but 
regarded with dislike the favor he received from 
the reigning monarch, Francis I. The king, how- 
ever, sustained him ; and he soon published the 
first edition of his Thesaurus LinguiB LatincB, a 
work of great research, and which he continued 
to improve on the issue of every succeeding edi- 

In 1539, he was appointed King's printer of 
Latin and Hebrew ; and, at his suggestion, Francis 
caused to be cast a beautiful fount of types, which, 
one of his biographers says, are still preserved in 
the royal printing office of Paris. After the 
death of the king, feeling that he had no security 
against the attacks of his enemies, he left Paris, 
and retired to Geneva. Here, if not before, he 


took open ground in favor of the Reformation, 
and continued to publish works of great value, for 
which he received public marks of honor from the 
city. He died at Geneva, in the year 1559, at the 
age of fifty-six. He is said to have been the editor 
of not less than three hundred and sixty books. 
Among them were the Hebrew Bible, in two 
forms, — the Latin Bible, — the Greek New Tes- 
tament, — the works of Cicero, Terence, Plautus, 
and other classic writers. His original works 
were also numerous, the greatest of which was his 
Latin Thesaurus. He also projected a Greek 
Thesaurus, but did not live to carry the prepara- 
tion of it to a very great extent. His intended 
commentary on the Bible was in like manner 
never fully undertaken. To his enemies of the 
Sorbonne, he replied in a very able manner. The 
mention of these works, which are but a part of 
what he accomplished, will show in some degree 
the diligence and learning of this remarkable 
man. It was the custom of the early printers to 
have a mark with an appropriate device. " His 
mark was an olive with branches, and the motto. 
Noli altum sapere, to which sometimes were added 
the words sed time." 

The most honorable testimonials were borne by 
distinguished men to his learning and excellent 
character. Beza pronounced a high eulogium 
upon him. De Thou ranks him higher than 
Aldus Manutius, and, with a feeling which would 
seem uncommon in his time, affirms that Christen- 
dom was more indebted to him than to its greatest 
conquerors ; and that the reign of Francis I. was 
more honored by his life, than by the renowned 
exploits of that prince himself. 


Henry Stephens was the eldest son of Rob- 
ert, the subject of the preceding brief sketch. He 
was born at Paris, in 1528, and eai'ly gave prom- 
ise of the remarkable eminence to which he at- 
tained in learning. It is said, that, having heard 
his tutor instructing other pupils in the Medea of 
Euripides, he was so much delighted with the 
sweetness of the language, that he was inspired 
with an unconquerable desire to learn it. To 
this his father assented, although it was contrary 
to the usual course to study Greek before studying 
Latin. His progress corresponded with his en- 
thusiasm. He was soon able to read Euripides, 
and learned many of the plays by heart. Latin, 
which was to a considerable extent the spoken 
language of his father's family, he was early fa- 
miliar with ; and he also mastered arithmetic and 
geometry. At the age of nineteen, he set out on 
his travels for the sake of examining foreign libra- 
ries, and becoming acquainted with literary men. 
He spent two or three years in Italy, and, either 
before his return to Paris, or soon after, visited 
the Netherlands and England. In these travels 
he added to his store of learning, and obtained 
manuscripts of parts of the ancient classics which 
were not before known to be in existence. 

When his father removed to Geneva, he accom- 
panied him, but, in the year 1554, returned again 
to Paris, and established himself there as a print- 
er. He soon published an edition of Anacreon ; 



and in the same year we hear of him at Rome 
and Naples, where he went in the service of the 
French government. Here he narrowly escaped 
losing his life, and, it is said, only saved himself 
from being arrested as a spy, by his facility in 
speaking the Italian language. Danger, however, 
did not deter him from pursuing his literary la- 
bors ; and he took the opportunity to visit Venice, 
in order to examine some valuable manuscripts 
of Xenophon and Diogenes Laertius. After his 
return, about the year 1557, he began that series 
of classical publications which his press continued 
to throw out for many years, enriched with notes 
and prefaces, prepared with great labor by him- 
self, and " which are read by scholars to this day 
with profit and admiration." "The press of 
Stephens," in the words of Mr. Hallam, " might be 
called the central point of illumination to Europe. 
In the year 1557 alone, he published more edi- 
tions of ancient authors than would have been 
sufficient to make the reputation of another au- 
thor." In publishing these works, he was sub- 
jected to expenses which he could not have borne 
but for the assistance of Ulric Fugger, a rich and 
liberal German nobleman. From gi-atitude to 
this benefactor, he called himself his printer: 
" Ulusti'is viri Huldrici Fufjgeri tyj^ograjjhus." 

In 1559, by the death of liis father, and the 
consequent responsibilities thrown upon him as 
executor of the estate and guardian of his broth- 
ers, he was afflicted with melancholy, fi'om which 
it was difficult to rouse him. He was also sub- 
jected to another danger, that of being driven 
from Paris on account of his Protestant opinions, 
of which he had made a public profession. Be- 



sides this, he had published a French translation 
of Herodotus, to which he had added a collection 
of witty anecdotes and satirical remarks directed 
against the monks ; and he feared that the discov- 
ery would lead to violence on their part, in return. 

He continued, however, his literary labors, and, 
in 1572, published his Greek Thesaurus. He 
had been employed upon it for twelve years ; and 
when we consider the difficulties Avhich he had to 
surmount, the scanty materials which the more 
ancient dictionaries afforded, and the size of the 
work, we may well pronounce it to be among the 
greatest literary undertakings ever completed by 
one man. The cost of this enterprise entirely 
exhausted his pecuniary resources. He expected 
a recompense in the sale of the work upon which 
the learned bestowed the highest commendations ; 
but in this he was sadly disappointed, through 
the treachery of one of his workmen. John Scap- 
ula was employed by Stephens as a corrector of 
the press, at the time when he was publishing the 
Thesaurus. The opportunity of using the mate- 
rials of his master for his own advantage was too 
tempting to be resisted by Scapula ; and he accord- 
ingly employed himself in preparing from the 
great work of Stephens, a smaller Greek lexicon, 
which, from its more convenient size and price, 
took the place of the more costly original. By 
this treachery, Stephens was reduced to poverty. 

After suffering heavy pecuniary losses, he left 
France, and for a time resided in Germany, where 
he labored still as an author. The reigning mon- 
arch in France, Henry IH., became so much 
interested in some of his writings, as to give him 
a small pension, and to invite him to reside at the 


court. It is also said that he granted him 3,000 
livres for a work on the excellence of the French 
language. Prosperity seems, however, to have 
deserted him. Promises of assistance from the 
court Avere forgotten or disregarded in the dis- 
tracted state of the kingdom, and the king him- 
self died soon afterwards. Another calamity 
befell him in the loss of his wife. Thus afflicted, 
and disappointed in the hope of retrieving his for- 
tunes, he seems to have spent the latter part of 
his life in wandering from city to city, perhaps 
■with the forlorn hope of some unlooked-for suc- 
cess. He resided a while in Orleans, in Frank- 
fort, in Geneva, and in Lyons. He is even said 
to have travelled as far as Hungary. During his 
last journey to Lyons, he was seized with sick- 
ness, and died in the hospital of that city, in the 
month of March, 1598, aged seventy years. 

The world has not always been liberal nor 
grateful, nor even kind, to her wise men. She 
has sometimes suffered them to starve, sometimes 
commended the poisoned chalice to their lips. 
But let no one, therefore, neglect the pursuit of 
learning and wisdom ; for it is better to sutfer with 
them than to prosper without them. And, after 
all, they, more often than otherwise, carry with 
them an abundant temporal reward. Notwith- 
standing the sad termination of this great scholar's 
life, no misfortune could take from him the intel- 
lectual riches he had so diligently amassed. 

Some idea may be formed of the extent of the 
labors of Henry Stephens, by a simple mention 
of the principal classic authors whose works he 
ably edited, enriching them with learned prefaces, 
and illustrating them wuth notes of great value. 


Among them are Homer, Pindar, -ZEschjlus, 
Xenophon, Thucydides, Herodotus, Sophocles, 
Plato, Plutarch, Callimachus, Horace, Virgil, and 
Pliny the younger, not to mention others. Be- 
sides this, he published Latin translations of 
Anacreon, Theocritus, Bion and Moschus, Pin- 
dar, -^Eschylus and Sophocles, &e., &c., all of 
which have been pronounced excellent.* 

He was also quite a voluminous original author. 
The bare titles of his works would cover several 
pages of this volume. He wrote poems, both 
grave and gay, and a Concordance to the New 
Testament ; but, for the most part, devoted himself 
to criticisms, more or less direct, upon the subjects 
of his classical studies. His great work, the Greek 
Thesaurus, an amazing monument of labor and 
learning, has not yet been superseded. A beau- 
tiful edition was published, not long since, by the 
Messrs. Valpy, and a still more beautiful edition 
is at the present time in the process of publication 
at Paris. He left three children, a son and two 
daughters, one of whom was married to the 
learned Isaac Casaubon. His end was a sad one ; 
but his life was useful, and honorable, and vir- 
tuous, and his name will always be reverently 
cherished by the scholars of all lands. 

* " He was so diligent and accurate in his translations, 
of such skill in giving the character of his author, of so 
great perspicuity and elegance, as to be called ' The Tram- 
lator par excellence.'' " See Hallam's Hist, of Lit. 


The subject of the following sketch, one of the 
earliest and most distinguished of American 
painters, was a native of Pennsylvania. He was 
born near Springfield, Chester County, on the 
10th of October, 1-738. His family were Qua- 
kers, and emigrated to America in 1699: his 
father, however, being left at school in England, 
did not join his relatives until 1714. The native 
tendencies of West were early manifested. It is 
said that, when he was but six years old, his 
mother left him for a few moments to keep the 
flies from an infant sleeping in the cradle. While 
he was thus employed, the beauty of the little 
creature, smihng in its sleep, attracted his atten- 
tion, and he immediately endeavored to delineate 
its portrait with a pen and ink. His mother soon 
returned, and was surprised and delighted at the 
attempt, in which she thought she detected a re- 
semblance to the sleeping infant. 

Not long after this, he was sent to school, but 
was permitted to amuse himself, during his hours 
of leisure, in drawing flowers and animals with a 
pen. He soon desired to represent the color as 
well as the shape ; but here he was at a loss, for 
the community in which lie lived, made use of no 
paints but the most simple and grave. His 
American biographer says, that " the colors he 
used were charcoal and chalk, mixed with the 
juice of berries ; but with these colors, laid on 
with the hair of a cat, drawn through a goose- 


quill, when about nine years, of age, he drew on 
a sheet of paper the portraits of a neighboring 
family, in which the delineation of each individual 
was sufficiently accurate to be immediately recog- 
nized by his father, when the picture was first 
shown to him. When about twelve years old, he 
drew a portrait of himself, with his hair hanging 
loosely about his shoulders." 

His stock of colors was soon considerably en- 
larged by a party of Indians, who visited Spring- 
field in the summer ; and, becoming interested by 
the sketches which the boy showed them, taught 
him to prepare the red and yellow paints which 
they were accustomed to use. A piece of indigo 
which his mother gave him, furnished him with 
blue ; and with these three simple primary colors, 
the young artist felt himself rich. 

One of the earliest patrons of the young painter 
was the father of General Wayne, who lived at 
Springfield. Happening to notice one day several 
heads, drawn upon boards with ink, chalk, and 
charcoal, he was so much pleased with them, as 
to ask the privilege of taking them home. Next 
day he called again, and presented young West 
with six dollars. This circumstance had consid- 
erable effect in inducing him subsequently to make 
painting his profession. 

Another circumstance, which occurred about 
this period, afforded him inexpressible delight. A 
merchant of Philadelphia, Mr. Pennington, being 
on a visit to the family, was so much pleased with 
the efforts of Benjamin, that he promised him a 
box of colors and brushes. On his return to the 
city, he not only fulfilled his promise, but added 
to the stock, several pieces of canvass prepared 


for painting, and " six engravings by Grevling." 
Nothing could exceed Lis delight at this unex- 
pected treasure. He carried the box to a room 
in the garret, and immediately began to imitate 
the engravings in colors ; and even ventured to 
form a new composition by using the figures from 
the different prints. " The result of this boyish 
effort to combine figures from engravings, and in- 
vent a system of coloring, was exhibited sixty- 
seven years afterwards, in the same room with 
the " Christ Rejected." 

It was not long before it began to be known, 
that a lad lived in Springfield, who gave great 
promise of excellence as a painter ; and before 
many years he received applications to paint por- 
traits. He was indulged too Avith a visit to Phil- 
adelphia, where he was greatly excited by seeing 
several pictures of merit. Books were given or 
lent him, from which he received some general 
idea of the principles of the art. His first histor- 
ical composition was the death of Socrates. The 
subject was proposed to him by a person of the 
name of William Henry, of Lancaster, a gun- 
smith, of a literary turn of mind, who encouraged 
him to undertake something of more consequence 
than portraits. Young West was unacquainted 
with the history of Socrates ; but Henry lent him 
a translation of Plutarch, which in a measure sup- 
plied the deficiency, and after a time the picture 
was finished, and attracted much attention. 

It led also to an acquaintance which proved of 
great advantage to the future painter. Dr. 
Smith, Provost of the College at Philadelphia, 
being called to Lancaster to arrange the studies 
of the grammar school, saw the picture, and, after 


conversing with the young artist, offered to assist 
him in gaining that education of which he now 
began to feel the need. The result of this offer 
was, that Benjamin went to Philadelphia, and 
resided with his brother-in-law, Mr. Clarkson. 

In the capital of Pennsylvania, he labored dil- 
igently at the profession which he had now chosen, 
and under very advantageous circumstances. He 
had access to a few fine paintings, and especially 
to Gov. Hamilton's collection, in which was a St. 
Ignatius, by Murillo. It had been captured in a 
Spanish vessel, and West copied it, without know- 
ing its author or fully appreciating its value. An 
anecdote which is given of him at this period of 
his life, exhibits his early habit of observation. 
While in Mr. Clarksons family, he was taken ill ; 
and, being in a weak state, no light was admitted 
into the room, except what found its way through 
the cracks in the window-shutters. When his fe- 
ver had subsided, as he was lying in bed, he was 
surprised to see " the form of a white cow enter at 
one side of the roof, and, walking over the bed, 
gradually vanish at the other. The phenomenon 
surprised him exceedingly, and he feared that his 
mind was impaired by his disease, which his sis- 
ter also suspected, when, on entering to inquire 
how he felt himself, he related to her what he 
had seen. She soon left the room, and informed 
her husband, who accompanied her back to the 
apartment"; and as they were both standing near 
the bed. West repeated the story, exclaiming that 
he saw, at the very moment in which he was 
speaking, several little pigs running along the 
roof. This confirmed them in the apprehension 
of his delirium, and they sent for a physician; 


but his pulse was I'egular, the skin moist and cool, 
the thirst abated, and, indeed, every thing about 
the patient indicated convalescence. Still the 
painter persisted in his story, and assured them 
that he then saw the figure of several of their mu- 
tual friends passing on the roof, over the bed ; 
and that he even saw fowls picking, and the very 
stones of the street. All this seemed to them 
very extraordinary ; for their eyes, not accustomed 
to the gloom of the chamber, could discern noth- 
ing ; and the physician himself, in despite of the 
symptoms, began to suspect that the convalescent 
was really delirious. Prescribing, therefore, a 
composing mixture, he took his leave, requesting 
Mrs. Clarkson and her husband to come away 
and not disturb the patient. After they had re- 
tired, the artist got up, determined to find out the 
cause of the strange apparitions which had so 
alarmed them all. In a short time, he discovered 
a diagonal knot-hole in one of the window-shutters ; 
and, upon placing his hand over it, the visionary 
paintings on the roof disappeared. This confirmed 
him in an opinion that he began to form, that 
there must be some simple natural cause for what 
he had seen ; and, having thus ascertained the way 
in which it acted, he called his sister and her hus- 
band into the room, and explained it to them." 

On his return, soon after, to his father's, he had 
a box made with one of the sides perforated, and 
contrived, without ever having heard of the in- 
strument, to invent the Camera obsciira. On 
mentioning his discovery some time afterwards to 
a friend, he was surprised to find that he had in- 
vented only what was known to others before. 
But though it proved to be " a new-found old in- 


vention," he deserved not the less praise for inge- 

At about the age of eighteen, West was afflicted 
by the death of his mother. The attractions of 
home being much diminished by this painful 
event, he soon established himself in Philadelphia 
as a portrait painter, where his youth, his skill, 
and his moderate prices, soon brought him a good 
number of sitters. Some of these early paintings 
are still preserved. From Philadelphia he went 
to New York, where he doubled his prices, and 
soon found himself accumulating enough to enable 
him to gratify the most ardent desire of his soul, 
which was to visit Italy. This event was brought 
about sooner than he expected. Mr. Allen, a 
wealthy merchant of Philadelphia, was fitting out 
a ship for Leghorn, in which his son was going 
out for the benefit of travel. West heard of the 
vessel while in New York, and determined to 
seize the opportunity of visiting the land of paint- 
ers. In the mean time, his friend and former in- 
structor. Dr. Smith, had obtained from the owners 
of the vessel, permission for him to accompany the 
young merchant. Every thing was thus far fa- 
vorable, and he was destined to receive still other 
proofs of the kindness of his friends and acquain- 
tances. Of all painters, indeed, he was perhaps, 
throughout life, the most fortunate in the favor 
"with which he was almost universally regarded, 
and in the unsought and unexpected advantages 
which the kindness of others bestowed upon him. 
He owed this in part to his high talents, and still 
more to his quiet, unobtrusive, and modest man- 
ners, and to the strict integrity by which he was 
always characterized. His acquaintances became 


friends, and his friends exerted themselves for his 
advantage, because they saw that prosperity did 
not elate him unduly, and that every advantage 
was wisely used. 

West was engaged on the portrait of Mr. 
Kelly, a merchant of New York, when he de- 
termined to sail from Philadelphia. He men- 
tioned his plan to Mr. Kelly, who approved his 
determination, paid him ten guineas for the paint- 
ing, and gave him a letter to his agents in Phil- 
adelphia. On presenting the letter, he found it 
contained an order for fifty guineas, " a present 
to aid in his equipment for Italy." To record 
such acts of kindness, is one of the most agreea- 
ble things in the biography of a man of genius. 

In 1760, at the age of twenty-one years, the ar- 
tist left his country, to which he never again 
returned. His voyage was prosperous, and he 
was kindly received at Leghorn by Messrs. Jack- 
son and Rutherford, the correspondents of Mr. 
Allen. He soon started for Rome, carrying let- 
ters to many persons of distinction. The circum- 
stances under which he came were very favorable. 
He was introduced to the most valuable society, 
and was an object of considerable curiosity as an 
American and a Quaker, who had come to study 
the fine arts. On being introduced to Cardinal 
Albani, who, though old and blind, was considered 
a great judge of art, one of the first remarks 
made by the prelate, as he passed his hands over 
the face of the young artist, in order to judge of 
his countenance, was " This young savage has very 
good features, but what is his complexion ? Is 
he black or white?" The English gentleman 
who introduced him replied, that he was " very 


fair." " What ! " said the cardinal, " as fair as I 
am?" As the complexion of his eminence was a 
deep olive, this question produced great merri- 
ment, and the expression " as fair as the Cardi- 
nal," became for a time a proverb. " It was a 
matter of astonishment," says one of "West's biog- 
raphers, " when it was found that the young man 
was neither black nor a savage, but fair, intelli- 
gent, and already a painter. West became em- 
phatically the lion of the day in Rome."* 

In order to exhibit his talent. West painted the 
portrait of a gentleman to whom he was indebted 
for many favors, — Mr. Robinson, afterwards Loixl 
Grantham. It was received with great approba- 
tion by the judges of art, and pronounced superior 
in some respects to the productions of Raphael 
Mengs, who was at this time the first painter in 
Rome. Mengs himself very cordially commended 
the young American, and gave him some excel- 
lent advice. " You have already," said he, " the 
mechanical part of your art. What I therefore 
recommend to you is to examine every thing 
worthy of attention here, making drawings of some 
half dozen of the best statues ; then go to Flor- 
ence, and study in the galleries ; then proceed to 
Bologna, and study the works of the Caracci : af- 
terwards visit Parma, and examine attentively the 
pictures of Corregio ; and then go to Venice, and 

* The mistake as to the complexion of Americans, has 
been made elsewhere than in Italy. An acquaintance of 
onrs, who was educated in part at Vei-saillcs, France, was 
frequently an object of curiosity to visiters, who more than 
once, on seeing him for the first time, remarked, with a 
strong exclamation of surprise, II li'cst pas noir, — " He is 
not black." 


view the productions of Tintoretto, Titian, and 
Paul Veronese. When you have made this tour, 
return to Rome, paint an historical picture, exhibit 
it publicly, and then the opinion which will be 
expressed of your talents will determine the line 
of art which you ought to follow." 

This judicious advice, West was prevented 
from following immediately, by illness, brought on 
perhaps by the continued excitement to which he 
was subjected. He returned to Leghorn, for 
greater repose ; nor was he, for nearly a year, able 
fully to resume his studies and labors as an artist. 
During this time, the reputation he had acquired 
at Rome became known in America, and his gen- 
erous friends, Mr. Allen and Gov. Hamilton, de- 
termined that the career of so promising an artist 
should not be impeded by want of means. They 
sent orders to their bankers at Leghorn, to give 
him unlimited credit. This great and unlooked- 
for liberality was of the utmost importance to 
Mr. West, whose limited funds were nearly ex- 
hausted. Mr. Gait very properly remarks, that 
" a more splendid instance of liberality is not to 
be found even in the records of Florence. The 
munificence of the Medici was excelled by that 
of the magistracy of Philadelphia." 

He now commenced his tour under favorable 
auspices, and visited, with great advantage, galle- 
ries of the different schools in the most important 
cities of Italy. He was everywhere received 
with favor, and was chosen a member of the 
Academies in Parma, Bologna, and Florence. 
A similar honor was afterwards conferred upon 
him in Rome. While in Italy, he painted his 
" Cimon and Iphigenia," and " Angelica and Me- 


dora," which established his reputation as an his- 
torical painter. He also made a very excellent 
copy of the St. Jerome of Corregio. This picture 
was, and we presume is now, in possession of the 
family of Mr. Allen, and in America. 

Having now accomplished his purposes in vis- 
iting Italy, he began to think of returning home, 
but, in accordance with the advice of his father, 
determined first to visit England, the mother 
country, to which the colonists still looked with 
great affection. His arrangements were soon 
made, and he journeyed through France, visiting 
whatever was worthy to be seen, and on the 20th 
of June, 1763, arrived in London. As it was not 
then his intention to remain in England, he im- 
mediately visited the collection of paintings in 
London, and at Hampton Court, Windsor, and 
Blenheim ; and also spent some time with the 
friends of his father, who resided in Reading. 
In the mean time he became acquainted with the 
most noted of the British painters, among whom 
was Sir Joshua Reynolds, and with Mr. Burke, 
whose knowledge of art was as accurate and pro- 
found as his knowledge of the science of govern- 

Encouraged by an examination of the works of 
the popular painters, as well as by the voice of 
his friends, he determined to try his success as a 
painter. In the department of historical painting, 
he was almost without a rival. There was then 
no distinguished historical painter in England. 
He exhibited some of his paintings, and received 
great praise and encouragement. As an illustra- 
tion, however, of the state of English taste at this 
time, and of the timidity of the lovers of art in 


purchasing the productions of a modern artist in 
this the highest department of skill, it is stated, 
that, while one of West's earliest paintings, founded 
on the story of Pylades and Orestes, attracted so 
much attention that his servant was employed 
from morning till night in opening the door to vis- 
iters, and received a considerable sum of money 
by showing it, the master was obliged to content 
himself with empty praise ; " no mortal ever hav- 
ing asked the price of the work, or having offered 
to give him a commission to paint any other sub- 

It was not long, however, before his merit was 
seen, and his skill employed. He painted for Dr. 
Newton the " Parting of Hector and Andro- 
mache ;" and the " Return of the Prodigal Son," 
for the bishop of Worcester ; and soon received 
the liberal offer of seven hundred pounds a year 
(nearly S3,o00) from Lord Rockingham, if he 
would embellish with historical paintings his 
mansion in Yorkshire. He preferred, however, 
to take his chance with the public. 

Although he now felt himself established in Eng- 
land, on account of his recent success, he still 
thought of returning for a time to America, in order 
to marry a lady to whom he had long been attached. 
Some of his friends, however, moi*e prudent than 
himself, feared that his absence might avert some 
portion of the public favor, and suggested another 
expedient to which the cool and considerate artist 
yielded. The result was, that Miss Shewell ac- 
companied West's father to England, and Avas mar- 
ried to the painter, on the 2d of September, 1765. 

Through the kindness of Dr. Druramond, arch- 
bishop of York, West was introduced to the king, 


George TIL, by whom he was received with very 
great kindness. The picture of " Agrippina," 
painted for the archbishop, was exhibited to hig 
majesty and to the queen by the artist in person ; 
and, before he retired from the room, an order was 
given for painting the •' Departure of Regulus from 
Rome," the subject being suggested by the king 
himself. This was the beginning of an acquaint- 
ance with the monarch, we may almost say of 
friendship, which continued for forty years. 

Trifling circumstances sometimes do much to 
extend a person's reputation. An amusing writer 
says, "that the Duke of Wellington is the best 
known man in London, partly because of his vic- 
tory at Waterloo, and partly because of his very 
remarkable nose." We will give an anecdote of 
West, as we find it in his biography by Allan Cun- 
ningham : — " West was a skilful skater, and in 
America had formed an acquaintance on the ice 
with Colonel, afterwards too well known in the 
Colonial war, as General Howe. This friendship 
had dissolved with the thaw, and was forgotten, 
till one day the painter, having tied on his skates 
at the Serpentine, was astonishing the timid prac- 
titioners of London by the rapidity of his motions, 
and the graceful figure which he cut. Some one 
cried out, ' West ! West ! ' it was Colonel Howe. 
'I am glad to see you,' said he, 'and not the 
less so that you come in good time to vindicate 
my praise of American skating.' He called to 
him Lord Spencer Hamilton, and some of the 
Cavendishes, to whom he introduced West as 
one of the Philadelphia prodigies, and requested 
him to show them what was called ' the salute.' 
He performed the feat so much to their satisfac- 


tion, that they wpiit away spreading the praise of 
the American skater over London. Nor was the 
considerate Quaker insensible to the value of such 
commendations : he continued to frequent the 
Serpentine, and to gratify large crowds by cutting 
the Philadelphia Salute. Many, to their praise 
of his skating, added panegyrics on his professional 
skill ; and not a few, to vindicate their applause, 
followed him to the easel, and sat for their por- 

British artists, at the time when West arrived 
in England, were associated under the name of 
" The Society of Incorporated Artists," into which 
the American was admitted. While he was 
painting his Regulus for the king, dissentions 
arose in the Society, which resulted in the se- 
cession of Reynolds and West among others, and 
the formation of the Royal Academy, of which 
Reynolds was elected President. " The Death of 
Wolfe," which West soon painted, has ever been 
considered as one of his best productions ; it is 
also worthy of remark, as having led to a gi*eat 
change in the practice of English artists. ' Until 
then, it had been common for them to represent 
the moderns with the costume of Greeks and Ro- 
mans. West detei'mined to thi'ow aside this per- 
nicious habit, and to represent the English and 
French generals and soldiers in the actual milita- 
ry dress of the day. He thought he should gain 
far more in the life and truth of expression, than 
he should lose in picturesqueness and grace. He 
was encountered, however, by ^he strong preju- 
dices of the public, and the decided opinion of the 
painters. The archbishop of York and Sir Joshua 
Reynolds took particular pains to dissuade the 


artist from the hazardous experiment. The result 
showed the good judgment of West. He has rep- 
resented the real event as it presented itself to his 
own mind, idealizing it only so far as is necessa- 
rily demanded by the laws of art. Reynolds vis- 
ited the painting again when it was finished; and 
after sitting before it for half an hour, and exam- 
ining it with minute attention, he rose, and said to 
Dr. Drummond, who had again accompanied him, 
" West has conquered ; he has treated his subject 
as it ought to be treated ; I retract my objections. 
I foresee that this picture will not only become 
one of the most popular, but will occasion a rev 
olution in art." 

Being now fully in favor with the public, and 
enjoying the royal patronage without reserve, the 
painter formed designs commensurate with his 
honorable position. He not only executed various 
works upon classical and historical subjects, but 
suggested a series of pictures to illustrate the pro- 
gress of revealed religion. " No subtle divine," 
says Mr. Cunningham, " ever labored more dili- 
gently on controversial texts than did our painter 
in evolving his pictures out of this grand and 
awful subject. He divided it into four dispensa- 
tions, — the Antediluvian, the Patriarchal, the 
Mosaical, and the Prophetical. They contained 
in all thirty-six subjects, eighteen of which be- 
longed to the Old Testament, the rest to the New. 
They were all sketched, and twenty-eight were 
executed, for which West received in all twenty- 
one thousand seven hundred and five pounds. A 
work so varied, so extensive, and so noble in its 
nature, was never before undertaken by any 



When the war broke out between England and 
the American colonies, West was much distressed 
by it, but still preserved the favor of George 
III., and devotee! himself assiduously to his art. 
He was enabled by his position to afford aid to 
Americans in England, which he was always very 
ready to do, and perhaps to communicate useful 
intelligence to the king respecting the resources 
of his native land. 

On the death of Reynolds, in 1792, West was 
elected his successor as President of the Royal 
Academy, which position he retained, with the 
exception of a few months, until his death. The 
king, on this occasion, wished to confer upon him 
the distinction of knighthood ; an honor which the 
painter saw fit to decline. 

While the health of George III. remained 
good, West was never at a loss for a patron ; but 
■when the king's mind became disordered, and 
England was govei'ned by a regency, the favor 
of the court was withdrawn, the order for paint- 
ings was withheld, and the doors of the palace shut 
upon him. During this period, availing himself 
of the general peace in Europe, in 1802, he vis- 
ited Paris, where were then collected by the 
rapacity and taste of the First Consul, the choicest 
gems of art, taken from all the galleries of Eu- 
rope. He was received with great honor by 
artists and by statesmen, as the President of the 
British Academy, and had several interviews wilh 
Bonaparte. Under these circumstances, it is not 
surprising that he ever looked upon his visit to 
France with pleasing recollections. 

When the king recovered his health. West was 
at once readmitted to favor, and an order was im- 


mediately given for him to proceed with his paint- 
ings. His salary of one thousand pounds per 
annum was restored, and continued to be regularly 
paid until the final superannuation of the monarch, 
when it Avas stopped without the least previous 

"West was now between sixty and seventy years 
of age : he had received large sums for his paint- 
ings, but he had been a long time in executing 
them, and his necessary expenses for a house and 
painting-room and gallery were great. He found 
himself, in his old age, without a fortune, and 
thrown aside by the court. Without being at all 
daunted, however, he commenced a series of works, 
some of which proved to be among his very best. 
The first that he exhibited was " Christ healing 
the Sick," which he designed for the hospital ia 
Philadelphia. When exhibited in London, it at- 
tracted crowds, and commanded such admiration 
that the Bx-itish Institution offered him three 
thousand guineas for it. West accepted the offer 
" on condition that he should be allowed to make 
a copy with alterations." In the copy which 
he transmitted to Philadelphia, he not only made 
alterations, but added an additional group. It 
was exhibited by the trustees of the hospital, and 
the receipts, in the first year after its first arrival, 
are said to have been four thousand dollars. 
Among the other great works painted at this 
period, are the " Christ Rejected," and " Death 
on the Pale Horse." These are among his best 
known works in this country, and are remarkable 
for their grandeur and power. 

In 1817, when he was seventy-nine years old, 
he was afflicted by the loss of his wife, who for 


more than fifty years had been his constant com- 
panion. He himself was feeling the pressure of 
old age, but still pursued his favorite occupation. 
He sat among his pictures ; his hand had lost 
something of " its cunning," but still continued to 
sketch and to paint. At length, on the 11th of 
March, 1820, "without any fixed complaint, his 
mental faculties unimpaired, his cheerfulness un- 
eclipsed, and with looks serene and benevolent, 
he expired, in the 82d year of his age. He was 
buried beside Reynolds, Opie, and Barry, in St. 
Paul's Cathedral. The pall was borne by noble- 
men, ambassadors, and academicians ; his two 
sons and grandson were chief mourners, and sixty 
coaches brought up the splendid procession." 

West was not above the middle height, of a 
very fair complexion, with a serene brow and a 
penetrating eye. He was patient, methodical, 
and extremely diligent. He left upwards of four 
hundred paintings and sketches in oil, many of 
them of a large size, besides more than two hun- 
dred original drawings in his portfolio. It was 
ascertained by calculation, that, to contain all his 
productions, " a gallery would be necessary four 
hundred feet long, fifty broad, and forty high." 
In so large a number of productions there must be 
great differences as to merit. If his genius was not 
of the highest kind, it was certainly very prolific, 
and sometimes seemed to surpass itself. Critics 
of high merit have pronounced him, " in his pecu- 
liar department, the most distinguished artist of 
the age in which he lived." " In his Death on 
the Pale Horse," painted when he was nearly 80, 
says Cunningham, " and more particularly in his 
sketch of that picture, he has more than ap- 


preached the masters and princes of the calling. 
It is indeed irresistibly fearful to see the trium- 
phant march of the terrific phantom, and the dis- 
solution of all that earth is proud of, beneath his 
tread. War and peace, son-ow and joy, youth 
and age, all who love and all who hate, seem 
planet-struck. " The Death of Wolfe," too, is 
natural and noble ; and the Indian Chief, like the 
Oneida Warrior of Campbell, 

" A stoic of the woods, a man without a tear," 

was a happy thought. " The Battle of La Hogue," 
I have heard praised as the best historic picture 
of the British school, by one not likely to be mis- 
taken, and who would not say what he did not 
feel." The gallery of West's pictures was sold 
after his death for upwards of twenty-five thou- 
sand pounds sterling. 

One of the most admirable traits of this great 
painter was his pure moral character. This is 
exhibited in part by tlie subjects upon which he 
chose to exercise his pencil. They were subjects 
of high moral interest, — heroic deeds, — events 
of sacred history, — the triumphs of patriotism 
and virtue. In this choice he persisted, too, at a 
time when the general taste of the country was 
directed to subjects of a far inferior character. 

Not the least pleasant circumstance to be men- 
tioned in this sketch of Benjamin West, is the 
kind relation which always existed between him 
and his pupils, some of whom have been among 
the most distinguished of American artists. It 
was natural that a young painter who went from 
this country to England for instruction, or to seek 
his fortune, should desire the benefit of the vet- 


eran's advice and counsel. These were never 
sought in vain. When Trumbull was arrested, 
during the vrar, by order of the British govern- 
ment, "West immediately waited upon the king, 
and made known to his majesty his pupil's char- 
acter and purposes, and received the assurance 
that, at all events, the personal safety of the pris- 
oner should be fully attended to. When Gilbert 
Stuart was in London, a young painter, without 
resources, West not only aiforded him direct pe- 
cuniary aid, but employed him in copying, and 
otherwise assisted him in his study of that branch 
of the art in which he afterwards excelled his 
master. A few weeks after AUston's arrival in 
England, he was introduced to Mr. West, and 
thus speaks of him in a letter : — " Mr. West, to 
whom I was soon introduced, received me with 
the greatest kindness. I shall never forget his 
benevolent smile when he took me by the hand ; 
it is still fresh in my memory, linked with the last 
of like kind which accompanied the last shake of 
his hand, when I took a final leave of him in 
1818. His gallery was open to me at all times, 
and his advice always ready and kindly given. 
He was a man overflowing with the milk of hu- 
man kindness. If he had enemies, I doubt if he 
owed them to any other cause than his rare vir- 
tue ; which, alas for human nature ! is too often 
deemed cause sufficient." 

With this genial testimony from one of the 
greatest and purest of our artists, himself so lately 
gone to his reward, we close our sketch of the 
earliest distinguished American painter, who, by 
assiduously cultivating the genius which Heaven 
conferred, did much to extend the reputation of 
his country, and to refine and bless mankiad. 


It is proper to state that the following sketch has been 
mainly derived from an article in a Swedish publication, 
translated by the Hon. George P. Maesh, of Burlington, 

In the life of Benjamin West we have seen the 
power of genius, directing its possessor, under 
early adverse circumstances, to a profession to 
which no external advantages invited *him. The 
life of the Swedish painter, whose name stands 
at the head of this article, is a still more remark- 
able example of the successful cultivation of a 
favorite art, with absolutely no facilities except 
those created by his own ingenuity. He was 
impelled, not by patronage or the wishes of 
friends, but by the taste and force of mind with 
which nature had endowed him. An ordinary 
adviser would have assured him, that he was 
meant for a humble laborer in the lowly sphere 
of rural life which his father filled ; M'ould have 
predicted for him the toil and penury of his an- 
cestors ; would certainly, whatever dreams of fu- 
ture prosperity he indulged, not have guessed, 
that without money, without the access to the 
higher scenes of a city life, which even a peasant 
may sometimes enjoy, without books, without 
models, without instruction, he would become one 
of the most celebrated artists of his country. 

Peter Horberg was born in the parish of 
Virestad, in Smaland, Sweden, January 31, 1746. 
His parents were very poor, and their child so 



weak and sickly that he could not walk till his 
third year. His fathei* taught him to read when 
he was five years old, and before long, by means 
of a " copy," borrowed from a soldier, gave him 
some knowledge of writing. At nine years of 
age he was obliged to go out to service, and re- 
ceived, as compensation for a summer's labor, a 
pair of mittens and a violin, valued at twenty- 
four coppers. The violin was a source of much 
amusement during the winter which he spent at 
I home. He strung it with horsehair, and made 
I such progress in learning to play, that in the 
' spring his' father bought him another instrument 
with proper strings. For two summers more, 
he served the peasants as a shepherd-boy, watch- 
ing the sheep and cattle as they browsed in the 
wild pastures of the country, according to the 
Swedish custom. His taste for painting began to 
manifest itself even as early as this. The Swe- 
dish almanacs and catechisms were ornamented 
with rude engravings ; and, as his means would not 
allow him to own one of these books, he endeav- 
ored from memory to draw the figures on birch 
bark. He began also to ornament his father's 
cottage with carvings in soft wood and fir bark, 
among which was an imitation of the altar-piece 
of the parish church. In the exercise of the 
same vocation, he carved various figures for cane- 
heads, at the request of the neighboring peasants. 
His chief occupation, however, was in drawing 
and painting. He soon became dissatisfied with 
representing the mere figure, and endeavored to 
add color. Having never heard of mixing colors 
with oil, he discovered for himself a method of 
using some of the simpler kinds, such as ochre, 


burnt clay, chalk, and charcoal, in a dry form, as is 
practised by crayon painters. He used planed 
boards for canvass ; and, if fortune threw in his 
way a bit of writing paper, " he drew with a pen, 
using the juice of various berries to color and shade 
his drawings." While watching his flocks in the 
fields, he drew figures upon the smooth rocks, 
using fir bark for red chalk, and charcoal for 
black : with a sharp stick also he marked out 
figures upon the white funguses of the pastures. 

Thus he advanced, sti'uggling against poverty, 
which in his thirteenth year became so pressing, 
that his father was compelled to enrol him as a re 
serve recruit in the army, in order to obtain the 
bounty of a barrel of grain to save the family from 
starving. Upon this, mingled with chaiF and cut 
straw, they contrived to Hve through the winter. 
Li 1759, the famine became so severe, that Peter 
and his sister were sent out as mendicants, and 
actually begged their bread for a whole year. 
Early in 1760, Peter determined to apprentice 
himself to a painter ; and, although his parents did 
not approve the resolution, they finally gave their 
consent. He accordingly, at the age of fourteen, 
set out for "VVexio, distant about thirty-five miles ; 
this being the nearest place at which a master 
painter could be found. Every thing in this mar- 
ket town filled the young peasant with wonder. 
He was so much abashed as hardly to be able to 
answer a question. Fortunately for him, on the 
way from Virestad he had fallen in with a good- 
natured peasant who conducted him to the painter, 
whose name (we may almost despair of pronounc- 
ing it) was Johan Christian Zschotzscher. This 
man had already as many apprentices as he 


needed ; but, on allowing Horberg to give a 
specimen of his talents with a piece of chalk upon 
a black board, and afterwards in drawing with 
colors on the backside of an oak board used to 
cut tobacco upon, he was so much astonished, 
especially on learning that he had received no 
instruction, that he promised to receive him into 
his service if he could get discharged from his 
enrolment. His master (that was to be) kept the 
figure of St. John the Evangelist, which the boy 
had painted upon the board, but allowed him to 
take a copy of it to carry home. To procure 
his discharge, it was necessary for his father to 

I' refund the bounty, which Avas something less than 
one dollar and three quarters of our money. 
The poverty of the family was such, that two 
years elapsed before this could be paid. At last, 
on the 13th of April, 17G2, he was received as an 
apprentice for five years. 

Having obtained leave to spend the Christmas 
holidays with his father, he took his colors with 
him, and painted " several pieces of a kind of 
hangings, called honad, which the peasants in 
many parts of Sweden employ to decorate their 
apartments at Christmas. These are of linen, 
and the paintings are generally scenes from Sci'ip- 
ture history, with explanatory inscriptions. For 
these paintings Peter received about half a dollar, 
and this was the first money he earned as a 
painter." " For half this sum," says he, " my 
mother bought me tow-cloth for an apron ; and 
with the remainder, I purchased a lock for a little 
chest, which my father had made for me the pre- 
ceding fall. I had no means of conveying my 
chest to Wexiii but by drawing it on a little sled. 


which I did. The contents of the chest were my 
new apron and a pair of wooden shoes, which my 
father had also made for me." 

fie remained at Wexio until the death of his 
master, about four years afterwards. The in- 
struction which he received was very meagre; 
his principal employment was " laying on grounds 
and grinding colors." His only time for drawing 
was Sunday afternoon ; and, what was worse than 
all, his master was incompetent to instruct him. 
By diligence and fidelity, he, however, so gained 
the good will of Zschotzscher, that, aj his death, 
he bequeathed him about three dollars, on condi- 
tion of his completing the unfinished work in the 

Having received the necessary testimonials 
from the magistrates at TVexio, he went to Got- 
tenburg to obtain license as a journeyman painter. 
His worldly wealth amounted to five dollars, and 
this was soon absorbed by official fees and his 
other expenses ; so that when he started on his 
homeward journey, a distance of one hundred and 
ninety miles, he was one dollar and a half in debt, 
and had six coppers in his pocket ! After trav- 
elling sixty miles, " he Avas obliged to sell, at half 
cost, his 'new red felt hat,' for which he had 
paid a dollar and a half at Wexio." After reach- 
ing home, he immediately began to work, although 
at disadvantage, until he earned enough to pay 
his debt at Gottenburg, after which he entered 
the service of the painter Luthraan, at Wexio. . 

Within a year from this time, he obtained a li- 
cense as district painter, which added somewhat 
to his emoluments, and, what was of more conse- 
quence, emancipated him from the conti-ol of 


masters, giving him liberty to follow without 
restraint the free promptings of hisimagination. 
Before a great while, " concluding," as he says, 
" that his days would pass more happily in the 
condition of matrimony," he married a young 
.woman, whose circumstances were quite as hum- 
ble as his own, and whose mind seems not to have 
been able to sympathize with that of her husband. 
So entirely poor were they, that " they had not 
even a pot, or a wood axe, but managed to make 
shift by borrowing : however, after they had lived 
together a year and a half, their prosperity in- 
creased to that degree, that they were able to pur- 
chase that necessary utensil, an iron pot, and now 
thought themselves independent." In all this 
poverty, the gentle and noble character of the 
man seems never to have given way under accu- 
mulated trials. He " endured hardness as a good 
soldier," maintained ever a cheerful spirit, and, 
without miirmuring, pursued with earnestness the 
art which few appreciated, but which was to him 
so dear. 

His establishment, as district painter, did not 
bring him an income sufficient for his support. 
No one in the community about him was compe- 
tent to judge of his merits, and he found that he 
must depend on something besides his pencil for 
I a support. " He not only made his own furni- 
ture, but made tables, boxes, sledges, and even 
wooden shoes, for other peasants in the neighbor- 
hood." After a while he took a farm, which he 
subsequently exchanged for one larger, and again 
for another still larger, upon which he employed 
a laborer, who relieved him from the heavier 


He, however, employed his pencil as oppor- 
tunity offered. In 1783, a clergyman from 
Kudby, happening to enter his hut, saw some of 
his productions, and proposed to him to copy 
" some portraits of the Gustavian royal family." 
Kudby was about half-way to Stockholm, a city 
which Horberg was extremely anxious to visit; 
and, with the hope of gratifying his wishes in this 
respect also, he accepted the invitation. His wife 
and relatives endeavored to deter him from this 
expedition ; but his mind was fixed, and, in spite 
of their opposition, he started with about a dollar 
and a half for his travelling expenses, and two 
compositions from the life of the Saviour, which 
he intended to exhibit at Stockholm. On arriv- 
ing at Kudby, after a journey of four or five 
days, he found, to his disappointment, that the 
clergyman had changed his mind ; and he re- 
ceived for his pains the liberal reward of a supply 
of cold provisions ! His small stock of money 
was half exhausted ; but he still adhered to his 
purpose of going to Stockholm, and, after resting 
a day or two, again started, and, on the tenth day 
from leaving home, reached that city, " weary, 
with blistered feet, his knapsack upon his back, 
and his roll of pictures under his arm." 

After various adventures for a few days, he 
obtained lodgings with a " drunken countryman 
from Smaland, named Meierstrom." He also 
succeeded in making himself known to Professor 
Pilo, director of the Swedish Academy of Art, who 
expressed himself greatly amazed when he saw 
Horberg's pictures, and learned how little instruc- 
tion he had received. He was permitted to draw 
from the casts of the academv, and made his first 


attempt from that of the Laocoon. Pile came 
to him, after a few hours, praised his drawings, 
and inquired into his wants and objects. " There 
is nothing in the world," said he to the Director, 
" that I desire so much as to remain for some 
time at Stockholm ; but I see no possibility of 
remaining here a week, for I have scarcely half a 
dollar ; " " for I was ashamed," he says in his 
biography, " to tell the plain truth, that I had not 
even a dozen coppers." 

In Stockholm, Horberg remained eight weeks, 
learning the technicalities of his art, extending 
his acquaintance, and becoming himself known to 
his fellow-artists. He had a desire to visit Italy ; 
and Sergell, the first Swedish sculptor of his time, 
proposed to Gustavus III., the reigning monarch, 
who was about to visit Rome, to allow Horberg to 
accompany him. This request was refused by 
the king, whose discernment was not sufficient to 
perceive the real merit that lay concealed under 
the rude but modest exterior of the peasant. 
Sergell, however, generously bestowed upon him 
his salary as professor, during the time he was 
absent with the king in Italy : it amounted, how-, 
ever, to less than ten dollars, a sum which would 
seem to indicate the small esteem in which the 
arts were held, or the extremely few wants or 
modest pretensions of the first artists of the time. 
Horberg was, however, presented to his majesty, 
whose generosity and condescension went so far, 
as to bestow upon the poor painter a ticket of 
admission to a dramatic exhibition. " This," says 
the painter, "was kind, and the ticket was a 
more exalted favor than I then understood ; but I 
was so informed, after my return to Stockholm." 


1'he presentation had taken place at the palace 
of Drotthingholm. 

After a residence of eight weeks at the capital, 
where the favt)rs he received, though small, were 
beyond his expectations, he prepared to return 
home, having greatly increased his stock of draw- 
ings, and with about four dollars in his pocket. 
" While I reviewed in memory my adventures 
there" [Stockholm], he says in his autobiography, 
"my eyes were dimmed with tears of joy, and 
then I thought upon my home, and my forsaken 
family, whom I hoped to rejoin in a few days." 

He visited the capital again in the following 
year, and spent several months drawing in the 
academy, and " executing pictures from his own 
designs!" " One of these, representing Zaleucus 
submitting to the loss of an eye to save one of the 
eyes of his son, was exhibited at the academy, 
and was afterwards bought by the brother of the 
king for five dollars. The academy also awarded 
him the third silver medal for drawing from the 
living model." He now became more known, 
and his professional engagements proportionally 
increased. He was free from debt, although still 
comparatively poor. 

In 1787, he again went to Stockholm, and re- 
mained from January to September. Daring 
this time he received from the academy their 
second silver medal, and became a candidate for 
the large gold medal. This he did not obtain, al- 
though several of the members, and among them 
his friend Sergell, thought he deserved it. The 
picture which he painted on this occasion was sold 
for twenty dollars, a larger sum than he had thus 
far received for any pf his works. 


At the invitation of Baron de Geer, the Royal 
Chamberlain, Horberg, after returning from 
Stockholm, from this which proved to be his last 
visit, went to Finspang. This residence of the 
Baron was a great resort of artists, who enjoyed 
without restraint the liberal hospitality of their 
host. For several years, Horberg spent much 
time there, and executed some of his best works. 
The elegant society which he there enjoyed, was 
very grateful to his tastes, and contributed, even 
at that comparatively late period of his life, to his 
refinement and intellectual cultivation. By the 
advice of the Baron, he removed from Smiiland 
to Ostergothland, a distance of nearly two hun- 
dred miles from his early home at Virestad, and 
bought a small farm for about two hundred dol- 
lars. His circumstances remained very humble. 
" He speaks with profound thankfulness of a 
present which he received from the Countess 
Aurora de Geer, consisting of two kettles, a frying 
pan, six pewter plates, a few earthen pots, a yoke 
of oxen, a milch cow, and four sheep." " Hdr- 
berg's countryman, the poet Atterbom, observes, 
'that this was rather aiding his wife, than bene- 
fiting him.' " He was enabled, however, to live 
in frugal independence, and in the constant exer- 
cise of his art. To be sure, he received less than 
he might have obtained in the exercise of any of 
the common mechanic trades ; but such was his 
attachment to his art, that he never used it as a 
simple method of getting money. It was to him 
in itself an object far higher and better than 
wealth. He painted much for persons in his own 
condition, who were proud that a poor peasant 
could rise to so much distinction as an artist. 


There was, too, in his works a native grandeur, 
which even the uninstructed of his countrymen 
could understand. 

In the year 1800, he made his last journey to 
his native parish of Virestad, and painted an altar- 
piece for the parish church. His fortune increased 
enough, sometime before his death, to enable him 
to purchase another smajl farm ; so that, in the lat- 
ter part of his life, he gave to each of his sons a 
small parcel of land, reserving only an annual 
rent for his own support. He received also, in 
1812, a pension of about forty dollars from the 
then reigning monarch of Sweden. It is to be 
regretted that the last years of his life, although 
in the main placid and beautiful, were somewhat 
disturbed by the unsympathizing complaints of 
some of his family, who, unable to appreciate the 
high objects of his art, did not withhold their re- 
proaches when he could no longer command his 
usual income. He was thus driven ,to pass 
much of his time in solitude, for the better enjoy- 
ment of which, he had built for himself a studio, 
on a rocky eminence, near his dwelling, where he 
worked, or, when not at work, would walk back- 
wards and forwards by the hour together. To- 
wards the last, his physical powers gradually 
failed, till, on the 24th of January, 1816, he qui- 
etly departed this life, at the age of 70 years. 

Notwithstanding the unfavorable circumstances 
in which he was placed, his diligence enabled 
him to produce a vast number of works. His 
largest works were his altar-pieces ; and, of these, 
one was thirty feet long by twenty high. Of these 
he painted eighty-seven. Between 1764 and 1807, 
he produced, besides altar-pieces, five hundred and 


twenty paintings. Of his works after this latter 
date, no list is preserved ; but the number must 
have been considerable. The number of his draw- 
ings was much greater than that of his paintings. 
He mentions himself, — "1. The history of Jesus 
Christ, in a volume consisting of two hundred and 
ninety-one designs^ 2. A collection of several 
thousand drawings from gems and other antique's. 
3. Till Eulenspiegel's history of Christ, for Baron 
de Geer. 4. Traditions concerning Jesus of Naz- 
areth, or the fabulous history of Christ, three 
hundred and forty-seven designs, of the size of 
playing-cards." His mechanical ingenuity was 
also very great, and led him occasionally to pur- 
suits somewhat diverse from painting. "With 
few and simple implements, he executed the most 
ingenious works, and with a common knife he 
carved in wood various objects of sculpture, by 
no means destitute of artistical merit. He not 
only carved statues in wood, but modelled them 
in clay, and then burnt them in a brick-kiln. 
Besides cabinet work, he occupied himself occa- 
sionally for many years in making violins ; and as 
he felt an irresistible impulse to investigate the 
movements of the heavenly bodies, and acquire 
some knowledge of astronomy, he made instru- 
ments of wood for his observations, and omitted 
no opportunity to extend his astronomical knowl- 
edge, by conversation or study of such works on 
that science as fell in his way." 

Thus was he ever grasping for knowledge ; and 
what he learned, he in some sort systematized, so 
that his mind was not a repository of barren 
facts, but became, by his attainments, harmonious- 
ly developed. He was a great lover of music, 


and composed some pieces said to be characterized 
by originality and deep feeling. He was fond of 
poetry, and tried his hand at composition. He 
left in manuscript " various literary sketches and 
collections." One volume, consisting of extracts, 
" upon the early history and mythology of the 
northern kingdoms," "contains many drawings 
and observations upon the manner in which the 
modern artists ought to treat subjects drawn from 
the mythology and mythical history of the North." 
His most interesting literary work is his autobi- 
ography, composed in a style so open, so simple 
and unaifected, as to make it extremely interest- 
ing, and of much value as a contribution to Swe- 
dish literature. He speaks without reserve, and 
yet with delicacy, of his poverty and trials, makes 
no boasts of his fortitude, and exhibits no discon- 
tent nor fretfulness ; but everywhere, by a manly 
and cheerful temper, shows how thoroughly he ap- 
preciates the true and highest purposes of art, and 
with how few external advantages he is contented 
to live, provided the aspirations of his spirit are 
satisfied. He did not endeavor to rise above the 
social rank in which he was born, and educated 
his sons with reference to their condition, as 
peasants. His honor he derived not from station, 
but from character. 

His person corresponded to his traits of charac- 
ter. " He was strongly built,"* says the poet 
Atterbom, " rather low of stature, of a firm and 
manly carriage, unconstrained and dignified in 
manner, with a lofty forehead, a clear and gentle 
eye, a mouth delicately but firmly chiselled, flow- 
ing silver locks beneath his velvet cap, and neatly 
but simply dad in the stvle of the better class of 


peasants. It was thus that I saw him in the sum- 
mer of 1809, when I came to Falla, early one 
Sunday morning, with my brother-in-law, who 
was to preach to a congregation of miners in the 
open air. Horberg came a considerable distance 
on foot to meet my brother-in-law, of whose society 
he was fond. We sent our carriage before us, 
and walked with Horberg, by a romantic forest- 
path, to the city ; the heavens were blue and 
warm, the birds were caroling, and the old painter 
was as joyous as they." He had true ideas of his 
art. Of the painters at Stockholm, he said on one 
occasion (though without the last spirit of detrac- 
tion), "There were many who painted better, 
much better, than he ; but they had no ideas, no 
grand conceptions." 

As an artist, Horberg attempted great things ; 
and if he did not place himself side by side with 
the immortal painters of Italy, it was not so much 
because he lacked the genius, as because he had 
not the cultivation which they were blessed with. 
" He became," says the Swedish poet, from whom 
we have already quoted, " but a fragment of what 
he might have been, a melancholy but splendid 
ruin of a structure, which nature had designed to 
rear in the grandest proportions." Imperfect, in- 
deed, in some branches of his beautiful art, his 
genius was so true, so grand, so poetic and ele- 
vated, his invention so rich, his conception so 
original, and his life so humble and pure, that the 
name of the peasant-painter may well be men- 
tioned as among those most worthy of a grateful 
remembrance in the later annals of Sweden. 


Alexander Wilson, the Ornithologist, was 
born in Paisley, Scotland, about the year 1766. 
He was early apprenticed to a weaver, but, while 
in this employment, manifested a strong desire 
for learning, and spent his leisure hours in read- 
ing and writing. After being released from this 
occupation, he, for a time, became a pedler, and, 
with a pack on his back, wandered among the 
beautiful valleys and over the mountains of Scot- 
land. Seldom has one of that acute and insinuat- 
ing craft thought so little of trafficking as he did. 
His feelings were those of joy and almost rapture 
at the beauties of nature, and the entire freedom 
with which he could enjoy them. " These are 
pleasures," he says with enthusiasm, " which the 
grovelling sons of interest, and the grubs of this 
world, know as little of, as the miserable spirits, 
doomed to everlasting darkness, know of the glo- 
rious regions and eternal delights of Paradise." 
Here was a pedler indeed ! This wandering life 
cultivated those tastes which were afterward so 
strongly and so happily developed in this country. 
He became dissatisfied with trading, in proportion 
as he became in love with nature ; and, although 
he still pursued his business to obtain a liveli- 
hood, he indulged his taste for poetry, and contrib- 
uted several essays to various periodical publica- 
tions. In a debating society with which he became 
connected, he gained considerable applause by 
poetical discourses. Subsequently he collected his 



verses and published them, ■with the hope of re- 
ceiving some pecuniary advantage. The poems 
went through two small editions, but the author 
gained no benefit from the publication. In 1792, 
he published another story in verse, entitled 
Watty and Meg, which, being printed anonymous- 
ly, was at first ascribed to Burns, and has ever 
retained its popularity in Scotland, as among the 
best productions of the Scottish muse. 

About the same time occurred a circumstance 
which probably hastened his emigration to Amer- 
ica. He published a severe satire upon one of 
the wealthy manufacturers, who had rendered 
himself obnoxious by certain unpopular acts. 
The satire was not so much relished by the sub- 
ject of it as by the workmen. Legal measures 
were resorted to. The author was discovered 
and prosecuted for a libel, and " sentenced to a 
short imprisonment, and to burn, with his own 
hands, the piece, at the public ci'oss in the town 
of Paisley." It is said that the poet, in whose mind 
was no vindictiveness of spirit, did not think of his 
satire, in after life, with feelings of satisfaction. 

Before he left Paisley, indeed, his generous 
feelings got the mastery of all other ; and he asked 
the forgiveness of some who had felt the bittei'ness 
of his pen, for any uneasiness which he had caused 
them. Sometime afterward, his brother David 
came to America, and brought with him a collec- 
tion of these pieces ; but Alexander no sooner took 
them into his hands, than he threw them into the 
fire. " These," said he, " were the sins of my 
youth ; and if I had taken my good old father's 
advice, they would never have seen the light." 

Not long after the events thus referred to, he 


determined to come to America, and, by great 
industry and economy, at last gained sufficient 
funds to accomplish his purpose. A ship was 
to sail from Belfast, in Ireland. He left Paisley 
on foot, and at Port Patrick took passage for 
Belfast. On his arrival he found the ship full. 
Undaunted, however, and determined not to re- 
turn to Scotland, he consented to sleep upon 
deck, and accordingly embarked in the ship Swift, 
of New York, bound to Philadelphia, and landed 
at Newcastle, Delaware, July 14, 1794, in the 
28th year of his age. He had but a few shil- 
lings in his pocket, but he was buoyant with 
hope ; he had actually set foot upon the new 
world, and shouldering his fowling-piece, he di- 
rected his steps towards Philadelphia, distant 
about thirty-three miles. On his way, he shot a 
red-headed woodpecker, which he thought " the 
most beautiful bird he had ever beheld." 

For some time after his arrival in America, he 
seems to have doubted to what employment he 
should devote himself. We find him within a 
year engaged as a copper-plate printer ; then as a 
weaver ; then moving to Shepherdstown, Virginia, 
and soon returning to Pennsylvania; then trav- 
elling in New Jersey, as a pedler ; then opening a 
school, near Frankford, Pennsylvania; and soon 
removing to Milestown, where he remained for 
several years, both teaching and making himself 
master of those branches of learning with which 
he was not before acquainted. 

After several other changes, "Wilson at last 
found himself situated in a school, on the banks 
of the Schuylkill, within four miles of Philadel- 



phia, and near the botanical garden of the philos- 
opher and naturalist, William Bartram. 

This was the beginning of a new life to the 
future ornithologist. He formed an acquaintance 
with Mr. Bartram, which soon ripened into a per- 
manent friendship. Wilson had always been ob- 
servant of the manners of birds, but had never 
studied them as a naturalist. Mr. Bartram lent 
him the works of Catesby and Edwards on nat- 
ural history, from which he derived much instruc- 
tion, even while his own knowledge enabled him 
to correct many of their errors. Notwithstand- 
'ing his progress in information, and his general 
prosperity, he was subject at times to great des- 
pondency. His sensitive mind could not bear 
the prospect of a life of penury and dependence ; 
to which, as the teacher of a country school, he 
seemed destined. 

During some of these periods of depression, 
Mr. Lawson, an acquaintance of Mr. Bartram, 
and afterward the principal engraver of the plates 
for the Ornithology, suggested to Wilson the em- 
ployment of drawing. He consented, but suc- 
ceeded so poorly in attempting to copy the human 
figure, that he threw his work aside in despair. 
At the suggestion of Mr. Bartram, he then tried 
his hand on flowers, and felt somewhat encour- 
aged. Colors were obtained, and he painted from 
nature a bird which he had shot. His success 
aroused all his energies : he was evidently ap- 
proaching the true objects of his life, those which 
his tastes fitted him for, and to which his powers 
were adapted. 

In the mean time, as he improved in drawing, 
he advanced in a knowledge of ornithology ; nor 


was it long before the thought suggested itself 
that it would not be an unworthy employment to 
make known to others the beauties and wonders 
of his favorite science. 

He accordingly asked the advice of Mr. Bar- 
tram, who, while he acknowledged the abilities 
of Wilson, suggested also the difficulties attendant 
upon the undertaking. The future ornithologist 
was not, however, deterred by them ; his ingenuity 
was ready with an answer to all objections, or his 
enthusiasm disregarded them. Under date of 
March 12, 1804, he thus writes to his friend 
Lawson : " I dare say you begin to think me very 
ungenerous and unfriendly in not seeing you for 
so long a time. I will simply state the cause, and 
I know you will excuse me. Six days in one 
week I have no more time than just to swallow 
my meals, and return to my sanctum sanctorum. 
Five days of the following week are occupied in 
the same routine of pedagoguing matters ; and 
the other two are sacrificed to that itch for draw- 
ing which I caught from your honorable self. I 
never was more wishful to spend an afternoon 
with you. In three weeks I shall have a few 
days' vacancy, and mean to be in town chief part 
of the time. I am most earnestly bent on pur- 
suing my plan of making a collection of all the 
birds in this part of North America. Now I 
don't want you to throw cold water, as Shaks- 
peare says, on this notion, Quixotic as it may ap- 
pear. I have been so long accustomed to the 
building of airy castles and brain wind-mills, that 
it has become one of my earthly comforts — a 
sort of rough bone, that amuses me when sated 
with the duU drudgery of life." 


In the latter part of this year, he undertook a 
pedestrian journey to the Niagara Falls, in com- 
pany with two friends. Winter came upon them 
on their return, in Genessee county ; one of his 
companions stopped with some friends, and the 
other sought a pleasanter mode of travelling. 
Wilson persevered, and, after fifty-seven days' 
absence, reached home the 7th of December, 
having walked more than twelve hundred miles. 
" The last day he walked forty-seven miles." One 
result of this excursion was a poem, entitled The 
Foresters, which was published in the Portfolio. 

The toils of the journey only increased his ar- 
dor to undertake some more extensive .expedition. 
He was in love with the woods, and the wild 
pleasures of a forester's life. His constitution 
was hardy ; he had no family to bind him to one 
spot, and his whole circumstances tended to en- 
courage his predominant taste. But, while thus 
forming large plans, his means for accomplishing 
them remained very small. " The sum total of 
his funds amounted to seventy-five cents." He 
continued, however, to make drawings of birds, 
which he submitted to Mr. Bartram's criticism. 
He also began to try his hand upon the corres- 
ponding art of etching, since it was certain that 
the plates in his projected Ornithology must be 
either etched or engraved. Mr. Lawson furnished 
him with materials, and with customary enthu- 
siasm the new artist applied his varnish, and com- 
menced the operation. " The next day after Mr. 
Wilson had parted from his preceptor, the latter, 
to use his own words, was surprised to behold 
him bouncing mio his room, crying out, ^ I have 
fi,nished lUy plate ! Let us bite it in with the aqua- 


fortis at once, for I must have a proof before 2 
leave town.' Lawson burst into laughter at the 
ludicrous appearance of his friend, animated with 
impetuous zeal ; and, to humor him, granted his 
request. The proof was taken, but fell far short 
of Mr. Wilson's expectations, or of his ideas of 

His succeeding attempts at etching did not 
prove very satisfactory to himself; and they con- 
vinced him, besides, that to meet the demands of 
his taste, the plates must be finished by the en- 
graver. He then endeavored to induce Mr. 
Lawson to undertake the work jointly with him- 
self; a proposition w'hich that artist thought best 
to decline. Wilson did not falter in his purpose, on 
account of these disappointments, but declared his 
determination to persist in the publication, even if 
it cost him his life. " I shall at least," he said, 
" leave a small beacon to point out where I per- 

About the beginning of the year 1806, the 
hopes of our ornithologist were greatly raised by 
the public announcement that it was the purpose 
of the President of the United States to despatch a 
company of men for exploring the waters of Lou- 
isiana. Mr. Wilson was inspired with the 
thought that here he might have an opportunity, 
long ardently desired, of visiting those regions, 
and making the necessary researches for his Orni- 
thology. He accordingly made an application to 
Mr. Jefferson, stating his purpose, and offering 
his services. The whole was enclosed in an intro- 
ductory letter from Mr. Bartram. The applica- 
tion was unsuccessful : Mr. Jefferson did not 
make any reply at all. The wishes of the orni- 


thologist were, however, nearer their gratificjition 
than he supposed. 

Mr. S. F. Bradford, of Philadelphia, whose 
name deserves honorable mention, being about to 
publish an edition of Rees's Cyclopedia, engaged 
Wilson, on the recommendation of some of his 
friends, as assistant editor, offering him a liberal 
salary. It was not long before he also engaged 
to publish the Oi'nithology. It was a happy day 
for the frequently baffled, but not disheartened 
naturalist, when the bargain was made, and his 
friend Lawson secured as the engraver. 

In September, 1808, he published the first 
volume of the American Ornithology. Notwith- 
standing the previous announcement, it was re- 
ceived by the public with great surprise and 
unqualified delight. It was considered a national 
honor, that a scientific work, so splendid in the 
style of its illustrations, could be produced in so 
young a country. Mr. Wilson immediately started 
with the volume in his hand to obtain subscribers 
in the Northern and Eastern States ; at same time 
he constantly kept his eye open to gain all possi- 
ble information for the continuation o^ the work. 
" I am fixing my correspondents," he writes in a 
letter from Boston, "in every corner of these 
northern regions, like so many pickets and out- 
posts, so that scarcely a wren or tit shall be able 
to pass along, from York to Canada, but I shall 
get intelligence of it." 

During this journey, Wilson received many 
compliments and some subscriptions. He was 
also subjected to some mortifying disappointments. 
Some from whom he expected at least sympathy 
and encouragement, looked at his volume with 


indifference, or returned it to him with a cold 
compliment. The Governor of New York, he 
says, " turned over a few pages, looked at a pic- 
ture or two; asked me my price ; and, while in 
act of closing the book, added, 'I would not give 
a hundred dollars for all the birds you intend to 
describe, even had I them alive.' Occurrences 
such as these distress me, but I shall not lack ar- 
dor in my efforts." In another place he gives 
an amusing account of a rebuff which he received 
from a public functionary in Pennsylvania. " In 
Hanover, Penn., a certain Judge II. took upon 
himself to say, that such a book as mine ought 
not to be encouraged, as it was not within the 
reach of the commonality, and, therefore, incon- 
sistent with our republican institutions ! By the 
same mode of reasoning, which I did not dispute, 
I undertook to prove him a greater culprit than 
myself, in erecting a large, elegant, three-story 
brick house, so much beyond the reach of the 
commonality, as he called them, and, consequently, 
grossly contrary to our republican institutions. I 
harangued this Solomon of the Bench more seri- 
ously afterwards ; pointing out to him the great 
influence of science on a young nation like ours, 
and particularly the science of natural history, 
till he began to show such symptoms of intellect 
as to seem ashamed of what he had said." — After 
his return from the North, having remained but a 
few days at home, he started on a tour to the South, 
visiting, in the course of it, every city and town of 
importance as far as Savannah, in Georgia. Of 
the first volume but two hundred copies had been 
printed ; and, although the list of subscribers was 
not very much enlarged, the publisher was encour- 


raged to strike off a new edition of three hundred 
more. The second volume was published in 1810, 
and the adventurous ornithologist almost immedi- 
ately set out for New Orleans, by way of Pitts- 
burg. He descended the Ohio alone in a skiff, as 
far as Louisville, upwards of seven hundred miles. 
Here he sold his frail bark ; and, having walked to 
Lexington, seventy miles farther, he purchased a 
horse, and, without a companion or a guide, made 
his way through the wilderness to Natchez, a dis- 
tance of six hundred and seventy-eight miles. 
Some of the particulars of this journey, taken 
from a letter of the ornithologist, dated at Natchez, 
May 28, 1811, will give the best idea of his cour- 
age, enterprise, and general character. 

" I was advised by many not to attempt this 
journey alone ; that the Indians were dangerous, 
the swamps and rivers almost impassable without 
assistance ; and a thousand other hobgoblins were 
conjured up to dissuade me from going alone. 
But I weighed all these matters in my mind ; and, 
attributing a great deal of this to vulgar fears and 
exaggerated reports, I equipped myself for the at- 
tempt. I rode an excellent horse, on whom I 
could depend ; I had a loaded pistol in each 
pocket, a loaded musket belted across my shoulder, 
a pound of gunpowder in my flask, and five pounds 
of shot in my belt. I bought some biscuit and 
dried beef, and on Friday morning. May 4th, I 
left Nashville. * * * Eleven miles from 
Nashville, I came to the Great Harpath, a stream 
of about fifty yards, which was running with great 
violence. I could not discover the entrance of 
the ford, owing to the rain and inundations. 
There was no time to be lost. I plunged in, and 


almost immediately my horse was swimming. I 
set bis head aslant the current ; and, being strong, 
be soon landed me on the other side. * « * 
Next day, the road winded along the high ridges 
of mountains that divide the waters of the Cum- 
berland from those of the Tennessee. I passed a 
few houses to-day; but met several parties of 
boatmen returning from Natchez and New Or- 
leans, who gave me such an account of the road, 
and the difficulties they had met with, as served 
to stiffen my resolution to be prepared for every 
thing. These men were as dirty as Hottentots ; 
their dress, a shirt and trousers of canvass, black, 
greasy, and sometimes in tatters ; the skiu burnt 
wherever exposed to the sun ; each with a budget 
wrapped up in an old blanket; their beards, 
eighteen days old, added to the singularity of their 
appearance, which was altogether savage. These 
people came from the various tributary streams 
of the Ohio, hired at forty or fifty dollars a trip, 
to return back on their own expense. Some had 
upwards of eight hundred miles to travel." " On 
Monday, I rode fifteen miles, and stopped at an 
Indian's to feed my horse. •• * * j mg^ to- 
day two officers of the United States army, who 
gave me a more intelligent account of the road 
than I had received. I passed through many bad 
swamps to-day ; and, about five in the evening, 
came to the banks of the Tennessee, which was 
swelled by the rain, and is about half a mile wide, 
thirty miles below the muscle shoals, and just be- 
low a long island laid down in your small map. 
A growth of canes, of twenty or thirty feet high, 
covers the low bottoms ; and these cane swamps 
are the gloomiest and most desolate-looking places 



imaginable. I hailed for the boat as long as it 
was light, without effect ; I then sought out a 
place to encamp, kindled a large fire, sfript the 
canes for my horse, ate a bit of supper, and lay 
down to sleep ; listening to the owls and the 
Chuck-wills-widow ^ a kind of Whip-poor-will, 
that is very numerous here. I got up several 
times during the night, to recruit my fire, and see 
how my horse did ; and, but for the gnats, would 
have slept tolerably well. These gigantic woods 
have a singular effect by the light of a large fire ; 
the whole scene being circumscribed by impene- 
trable darkness, except that in front, where every 
leaf is strongly defined and deeply shaded. In 
the morning I hunted until about six, Avhen I 
again renewed my shoutings for the boat, and it 
was not until near eleven that it made its appear- 
ance. * * * The country now assumed a 
new appearance ; no brush wood — no fallen or 
rotten timber : one could see a mile through the 
woods, which were covered with high grass fit for 
mowing. These woods are burnt every spring, 
and thus are kept so remarkably clean that they 
look like the most elegant noblemen's parks. A 
profusion of flowers, altogether ncAV to me, and 
some of them very elegant, presented themselves 
to my view as I rode along. This must be a 
heavenly place for the botanist. The most notice- 
able of these flowers was a kind of Sweet "William, 
of all tints, from white to the deepest crimson ; a 
superb thistle, the most beautiful I had ever seen ; 
a species of Passion-flower, very beautiful; a 
stately plant of the sunflower family — the button 
of the deepest orange, and the radiating petals 
bright carmine, the breadth of the flower about 


four inches ; a large white flower like a deer's 
tail. Great quantities of the sensitive plant, that 
shrunk instantly on being touched, covered the 
ground in some places. * * * I met six par- 
ties of boatmen to-day, and many straggling In- 
dians, and encamped about sunset near a small 
brook, where I shot a turkey, and, ofi returning to 
my fire, found four boatmen, who stayed with me 
all night, and helped to pick the bones of the tur- 
key. In the morning I heard them gabbling all 
round me ; but not wishing to leave my horse, 
having no great faith in my guests' honesty, I 
proceeded on my journey. This day I passed 
through the most horrid swamps I had ever seen. 
They are covered with a prodigious growth of 
canes and high woods, which together shut out 
almost the whole light of day for miles. The 
banks of the deep and sluggish creeks that occupy 
the centre are precipitous, where I had often to 
plunge my horse seven feet down, into a bed of 
deep clay up to his belly, from which nothing 
but great strength and exertion could have rescued 
him ; the opposite shore was equally bad, and beg- 
gars all description. For an extent of several 
miles, on both sides of these creeks, the darkness 
of night obscures every object around. ♦ * * 
About half an hour before sunset, being within sight 
of the Indian's, where I intended to lodge, the 
evening being perfectly calm and clear, I laid the 
rein^ on my horse's neck, to listen to a mocking- 
bird, the first I had heard in the Western country, 
which, perched on the top of a dead tree before 
the door, was pouring out a torrent of melody. I 
think I never heard so excellent a performer. I 
had alighted and was fastening my horse, when, 


hearing the report of a rifle immediately beside 
me, I looked up, aiid saw the poor mocking-bird 
fluttering to the ground; one of the savages had 
marked his elevation, and barbarously shot him. 
I hastened over into the yard, and, walking up to 
him, told him that was bad, very bad ! — that this 
voor bird had come from afar distant country to 
sing to him, and that in return he had cruelly 
killed him. I told him the Great Spirit was 
offended at such cruelty, and that he would lose 
many a deer for doing so. »**♦*» 

" On the Wednesday following, I was assailed 
by a tremendous storm of rain, wind, and lightning, 
until I and my horse were both blinded with the 
deluge, and unable to go on. I sought the first 
most open place, and dismounting stood for half 
an hour under the most profuse heavenly shower- 
bath I ever enjoyed. The roaring of the storm 
was terrible ; several trees around me were 
broken oft" and torn up by the roots, and those 
that stood were bent almost to the ground ; limbs 
of trees of several hundred weight flew past Avithin 
a few yards of me, and I was astonished how I 
escaped. I would rather take my chance in a 
field of battle, than in such a tornado again. 

"On the 14th day of my journey, at noon, I 
arrived at this place, having overcome every obsta- 
cle, alone, and without being acquainted with the 
country ; and, what surprised the boatmen more, 
without whiskey. * * * The best view of 
the place and surrounding scenery is from the 
old Spanish fort, on the south side of the town, 
about a quarter of a mile distant. From this high 
point, looking up the river, Natchez lies on your 
right, a mingled group of green trees and white 


and red houses, occupying an uneven plain, much 
washed into ravines, rising as it recedes from the 
bluff, a high precipitous bank of the river. * * 
On your left you look down, at a depth of two or 
three hundred feet, on the river winding majesti- 
cally to the south. This part of the river and 
shore is the general rendezvous of all the arks or 
Kentucky boats, several hundreds of which are 
at present lying moored there, loaded with the 
produce of the thousand shores of this noble river. 
The busy multitudes below pi*esent a perpetually 
varying picture of industry; and the noise and 
uproar, softened by the distance, with the contin- 
ual crowing of the poultry with which many of 
these arks are filled, produce cheerful and exhil- 
arating ideas. The majestic Mississippi, swelled 
by his ten thousand tributary streams, of a pale 
brown color, half a mile wide, and spotted with 
trunks of trees, that show the different threads of 
the current and its numerous eddies, bears his 
depth of water past in silent grandeur. Seven 
gunboats, anchored at equal distances along the 
stream, with their ensigns displayed, add to the 
effect. * « * The whole country beyond the 
Mississippi, from south round to west and north, 
presents to the eye one universal le^'el ocean of 
forest, bounded only by the horizon. So perfect 
is this vast level, that not a leaf seems to rise 
above the plain, as if shorn by the hand of 
heaven. At this moment, while I write, a terrific 
thunder-storm, with all its towering assemblage 
of bhick, alpine clouds, discharging living light- 
ning in every direction, overhangs this vast level, 
and gives a magniflcence and sublime effect to the 


From Natchez our traveller continued his jour- 
ney to New Orleans, and, as the sickly season was 
approaching, soon took passage in a ship bound 
to New York, where he arrived on the thirtieth 
of July, having considerably enlarged his stock of 
materials, and gained some new subscribers. 

In September, 1812, Mr. Wilson started to 
visit his subscribers at the East. At Haverhill, 
N. H., he was the subject of a ludicrous mistake. 
The inhabitants, " perceiving among them a 
stranger of very inquisitive habits, and who 
evinced great zeal in exploring the country, saga- 
ciously concluded that he was a spy from Canada, 
employed in taking sketches of the place to facil- 
itate the invasion of the enemy. Under these 
impressions it was thought conducive to the public 
safety that Mr. Wilson should be apprehended ; 
and he was accordingly taken into the custody 
of a magistrate, who, on being made acquainted 
with his character and the nature of his visit, 
politely dismissed him, with many apologies for 
the mistake." 

During the remainder of this year and the first 
half of 1813, he proceeded in his work with great 
assiduity. The difhculties he had to contend with 
were numerous and harassing. The greatest of 
them was his poverty. He labored " without 
patron, fortune, or recompense." His only re- 
source, now that his duties as assistant editor of 
the Cyclopedia were finished, was the coloring of 
the plates. This was a delicate task, which he 
entrusted to others with hesitation, and gener- 
ally only to be disappointed with the result. 
When his friends urged hira ^o refrain from his 
exhausting labors, he would reply that "life is 


ehort, and without • exertion nothing can be per- 

The seventh volume of the Ornithology was 
published in the early part of 1813, and he imme- 
diately made preparations for the succeeding vol- 
ume, the letterpress of which' was completed in 
August. He was not permitted to see it pub- 
lished. After an illness of but few days' duration, 
a disease which might, in his ordinary vigor, 
have been thrown off, terminated his life on the 
23d of August, in the forty-seventh year of his 

He had often expressed the wish, that, at his 
decease, he might be buried where the birds might 
sing over his grave ; but those who were with him 
at the last, were unacquainted with this desire, 
and his remains were laid to rest in the cemetery 
of the Swedish church, in Southwark, Fhila- 

In his person, Wilson was tall, slender, and 
handsome ; his eye was intelligent, and his coun- 
tenance expressive of a consciousness of intellec- 
tual resources above those of most with whom he 
associated. His conversation and his letters were 
remarkable for liveliness, force, and originality. 
Although much attached to his new home on tins 
side of the Atlantic, he never forgot the friends 
whom he had left on the other. In a letter to his 
father, written after the publication of the first 
volume of the Ornithology, he says: "I would 
willingly give a hundred dollars to spend a few 
days with you all in Paisley ; but, like a true 
bird of passage, I would again wing my way 
across the western waste of waters, to the peace- 
ful and happy regions of America. * » • 


Let me know, my dear father, how jou live and 
how you enjoy your health at your advanced age. 
I trust the publication I have now commenced, 
and which has procured for me reputation and 
respect, will also enable me to contribute to your 
independence and comfort, in return for what I 
owe you. To my step -mother, sisters, brothers, 
and friends, I beg to be remembered affection- 

The work which he produced is a great honor 
to the country (an honor frequently acknowledged 
by distinguished foreigners) ; and although it 
yields to the still more splendid production of 
Audubon, yet time will enhance, not detract from, 
the honor due to so zealous, persevering, and in- 
dustrious a naturalist. His descriptions we value, 
not only for their accuracy, but for the fine poetic 
sensibility which they so often display. " We 
need no other evidence of his unparalled industry, 
than the fact, that of two hundred and seventy- 
eight species which have been figured and de- 
scribed in his Ornithology, fifty-six of these have 
not been noticed by any former naturalist ; and 
several of the latter number are so extremely 
rare, that the specimens from which the figures 
were taken, were the only ones that he was ever 
enabled to obtain." 

The most prominent trait of "Wilson was his 
general sympathy with nature. Every rock, ev- 
ery tree, every flower, every rivulet, had a voice 
for him. No little bird sung which did not sing 
for his pleasure, or to tell him some story. 
Though obliged by his art to take the life of many 
a beautiful warbler, he never did so for the sake 
of a cruel sport. His " victims " were after all 


his " friends," for whom he never ceased to plead, 
and whom he always commended to the kind care 
of the farmer. The nimble woodpecker he as- 
serted to be a fellow-worker with man, destroying 
only the vermin which would otherwise injure the 
trees and the gardens. He defended the cat-bird 
against the prejudices of men and boys ; for which 
prejudices, he says, he never heard any reason 
but that they hated cat-birds, just as some men say 
they hate Frenchmen. Even if king-birds did de- 
stroy bees, it was not with him a good argument 
for their extermination. " In favor of the orchard 
oriole," says a very pleasant biographer, "he 
shows, that, while he destroys insects without 
number, he never injures the fruit; he has seen 
instances in which the entrance to his nest was 
half closed up with clusters of apples ; but so far 
from being tempted with the luxury, he passed 
them always with gentleness and caution. He 
enters into a deliberate calculation of the exact 
value of the red-winged blackbird, which certainly 
bears no good reputation on the farm ; showing, 
that allowing a single bird fifty insects in a day, 
which would be short allowance, a single pair 
would consume twelve thousand in four months ; 
and if there are a million pairs of these birds in 
the United States, the amount of insects is less by 
twelve thousand millions^ than if the red-wing 
were exterminated." Sometimes he took upon 
himself to be the avenger of the wrongs of his 
feathered friends. " On one occasion," says the 
same writer, " a wood thrush, to whose delightful 
melody he had often listened till night began to 
darken and the fire-flies to sparkle in the woods, 
was suddenly missing, and its murder was traced 


to the hawk, by the broken feathers and fragments 
of the wing; he declares that he solemnly re- 
solved, the next time he met with a hawk, to send 
it to the shades, and thus discharge the duty 
assigned to the avenger of blood-" 

Towards all animals he was sincerely humane. 
A beautiful little incident, which he relates, will 
illustrate this : — " One of my boys caught a mouse 
in school a few days ago, and directly marched 
up to me with his prisoner. I set about drawing 
it that same evening ; and, all the while, the pant- 
ings of its little heart showed that it was in the 
most extreme agonies of fear. I had intended to 
kill it in order to fix it in the claws of a stuffed 
owl ; but happening to spill a few drops of water 
where it was tied, it lapped it up with such eager- 
ness, and looked up in my face with such an 
expression of supplicating terror, as perfectly 
overcame me. I immediately untied it, and re- 
stored it to hfe and liberty. The agonies of a 
prisoner at the stake, while the fire and instru- 
ments of torture are preparing, could not be more 
severe than the sufferings of that poor mouse ; 
and, insignificant as the object was, I felt at that 
moment the sweet sensation that mercy leaves on 
the mind, when she triumphs over cruelty." 

As might be supposed, Wilson was a shrewd 
observer, and independent in his opinions. He 
had no faith in the stories of birds being fascinated 
by snakes, and utterly ridiculed the assertions of 
some naturalists, that swallows spend the winter 
torpid in the trunks of old trees, or in the mud 
with eels at the bottom of ponds. 

An admirable trait of his character was a love 
of justice and truth. In his dealings with others, 


he was honorable and generous. Extremely tem- 
perate in eating and drinking, he was able to en- 
dure the necessary fatigues and privations atten- 
dant on his wandering life, without sinking under 
them, or contracting dangerous diseases. His 
fault was an irritability of temper ; but this we can 
pardon when counterbalanced by so many virtues, 
while from his life we may draw an encouraging 
lesson of what may be accomplished by perserer- 
ance, industry, and self-reliance. 



Robert Bloomfielb, the author of the " Far- 
mer's Boy," was born in 1766, at a small village 
in» Suffolk, England. His father died before 
Robert was a year old. His mother was left with 
the charge of five other children. In these cir- 
cumstances, in order to obtain a maintenance for 
herself and her family, she opened a school, and, 
of course, taught her own children the elements 
of reading, along with those of her neighboi's. 
The only school education which Robert ever re- 
ceived, in addition to what his mother gave him, 
was two or three months' instruction in writing at 
a school in the town of Ixworth. At the time 
when he was sent to this seminary, he was in his 
seventh year ; and he was taken away so soon in 
consequence of the second marriage of his mother. 
Her new husband, probably, did not choose to be 
at any expense in educating the children of his 

We have no account in what manner Robert 
spent his time from his seventh to his eleventh 
year ; but at this age he was taken into the ser- 
vice of a brother of his mother, a Mr. Austin, 
who was a respectable farmer on the lands of the 
Duke of Grafton. His uncle treated him exactly 
as he did his other servants, but that was kindly, 
and just as he treated his own sons. Robert, like 
all the rest of the household, labored as hard as 
he was able ; but, on the other hand, he was com- 
fortably fed and lodged, although his board seems 



to have been all he received for his work. His 
mother undertook to provide him with the few 
clothes which he needed, and this was more than 
she well knew how to do. Indeed she found so 
much difficulty in fulfilling her engagement, that 
she at length wrote to two of her eldest sons, who 
were employed in London as shoemakers, request- 
ing them to assist her, by trying to do something 
for their brother, who " was so small of his age," 
she added, " that Mr. Austin said that he was not 
likely to be able to get his living by hard labor." 
To this application her son George wrote in reply, 
that, if she would let Robert come to town, he 
would teach him to make shoes, and his other 
brother, Nathaniel, would clothe him. The anx- 
ious and affiictionate mother assented to this pro- 
posal ; but she could not be satisfied without 
accompanying her son to the metropohs, and 
putting him herself into his brother's hands. 
" She charged me," writes Mr. George Bloom- 
field, "as I valued a mother's blessing, to watch 
over him, to set good examples for him, and never 
to forget that he had lost his father." 

When Robert came to London, he was in his 
fifteenth year. "What acquaintance he had with 
books, at this time, is not stated ; but it must have 
been extremely scanty. We find no notice, in- 
deed, of his having been in the habit of reading 
at all, while he was with Mr. Austin. The place 
in which the boy was received by his two broth- 
ers was a garret in a court in Bell Alley, Cole- 
man Street, where they had two turn-up beds, and 
five of them worked together. " As we were all 
single men," says George, " lodgers at a shilling 
per week each, our beds were coarse, and all things 


far from being clean and snug, like what Robert 
had left at Sapiston. Robert was our man to 
fetch all things to hand. At noon he brought our 
dinners from the cook's shop ; and anj one of our 
fellow- workmen, that wanted to have any thing 
brought in, would send Robert, and assist in his 
work, and teach him for a recompense for his 
trouble. Every day when the boy from the pub- 
lic house came for the pewter pots, and to learn 
what porter was wanted, he always brought the 
yesterday's newspaper. The reading of this 
newspaper, we had been used to take by turns ; 
but, after Robert came, he mostly read for us, be- 
cause his time was of the least value." The 
writer goes on to state, that in this his occupation 
of reader of the newspapers, Robert frequently 
met with words which were new to him, and 
which he did not understand — a circumstance of 
which he often complained. So one day his 
brother, happening to see, on a book-stall, a small 
English dictionary, which had been very ill used, 
bought it for him, for four-pence. This volume 
was to Robert a valuable treasure ; and, by con- 
sulting and studying it, he soon learned to com- 
prehend perfectly whatever he read. The pro- 
nunciation of some of the hard words, however, 
caused him much trouble ; but by an auspicious 
circumstance he was at length put into the way 
of having his difficulties here also considerably 
diminished. One Sabbath evening, he and his 
brother chanced to walk into a dissenting meeting- 
house in the Old Jewry, where an individual of 
great popularity and talent was delivering a dis- 
course. This was Mr. Fawcet. His manner 
was highly rhetorical. Robert was so much 


struck by his" oratory, that, from this time, he 
made a point of regularly attending the chapel 
every Sabbath evening. In addition to the higher 
improvement of Mr. Favvcet's discourses, he learnt 
from him the proper accentuation of difficult 
words, which Me had little chance of hearing pro- 
nounced elsewhere. He also accompanied his 
brother sometimes, though not often, to a debating 
society. Besides the newspapers, too, he at this 
time read aloud to his brothers and their fellow- 
workmen several books of considerable extent — 
a history of England, British Traveller, and a ge- 
ography — a sixpenny number of each of which 
in folio they took in every week. Robert spent 
in this way about as many hours every week in 
reading, as boys generally do in play. 

These studies,^ even though somewhat reluc- 
tantly applied to by Robert, doubtless had consid- 
erable effect in augmenting the boy's knowledge, 
and otherwise enlarging his mind. But it was a 
work different from any of those which have been 
mentioned, which first awakened his literary ge- 
nius. " I at this time," says Mr. George Bloom- 
field, "read the London Magazine, and in that 
work about two sheets were set apart for a Review. 
Robert seemed always eager to read this Review. 
Here he could see what the literary men were 
doing, and learn how to judge of the merits of the 
works wliich came out ; and I observed that he 
always looked at the poet's coi-ner. One day he 
repeated a song which he composed to an old 
tune. I was much surprised that he should make 
so smooth verses; so I persuaded him to try 
whether the editor of our paper would give them 
a place in the poet's corner. He succeeded, and- 


they were printed." After this. Bloomfield con- 
tributed other pieces to the same publication into 
which his verses had been admitted ; and under 
the impulse of its newly kindled excitement, his 
mind would seem to have suddenly made a start 
forwards, which could not escape the observation 
of his associates. His brother and fellow-work- 
men in the garret began to get instruction from 
him. Shortly after, upon removing to other lodg- 
ings, they found themselves in the same apart- 
ment with a singular character ; a person named 
James Kay, a native of Dundee. He was a mid- 
dle-aged man, and of a good understanding. He 
had many books, and some which he did not 
value ; such as The Seasons, Paradise Lost, and 
some novels. These books he lent to Robert, 
who spent all his leisure houvs in reading The 
Seasons. In this book he took great delight. 
This first inspired him, in all probability, with the 
thought of composing a long poem on rural sub- 
jects. The design was also favored, in some de- 
gree, by a visit of two months, which he was in- 
duced to pay about this time to his native district. 
On this occasion, his old master, Mr. Austin, 
kindly invited him to make his house his home ; 
and the opportunity he thus had of reviewing, 
with a more informed eye, the scenes in which he 
had spent his early years, could hardly fail to act, 
with a powerful effect, in exciting his imagination. 
It was at last arranged that he should be taken as 
an apprentice by his brother's landlord, who was 
a freeman of the city ; and he returned to Lon- 
don. He was at this time eighteen years of age. 
It was not intended that his master should ever 
•avail himself of the power which the indentures 


gave Lira, and he behaved in this matter very 
honorably. Robert, in two years more, learnt to 
work very expertly at the shoeraaking business. 
For some years after this, his literary perform- 
ances seem to have amounted merely to a few 
effusions in verse, which he used generally to 
transmit in letters to his brother, who had now 
gone to live at Bury St. Edmunds, in his native 
county. Meanwhile he studied music, and be- 
came a good player on the violin. 

About this time he was married, and hired a 
room in the second story of a house in Coleman 
Street. The landlord gave him leave to work at 
his trade in the light garret two flights of stairs 

It was while he sat plying his trade in the gar- 
ret, in Bell Alley, with six or seven other work- 
men around him, that Bloomfield composed the 
work which first made his talents generally known, 
and for which principally he continues to be re- 
membered, — his " Farmer's Boy." It is a very 
interesting fact, that, notwithstanding the many 
elements of distui;bance and interruption in the 
midst of which the author must, in such a situa- 
tion, have had to proceed through his task, nearly 
the half of this poem was completed before he 
committed a line of it to paper. This is an un- 
common instance both of memory and of self- 
abstraction. His feat, on this occasion, appears 
to have amounted to the composing and recollect- 
ing of nearly six hundred lines, without the aid 
of any record. The production of all this poetry, 
in the circumstances which have been mentioned, 
perhaps deserves to be accounted a still more 
wonderful achievement than its retention. 


"When the " Farmer's Boy " was finished, 
Bloomfield offered it to several booksellers, none 
of whom received it favorably. The editor of 
the Monthly Magazine, in the number for Sep- 
tember, 1823, gives the following account of his 
appearance : — " He brought his poem to our 
office ; and, though his unpolished appearance, 
his coarse handwriting, and wretched orthogra- 
phy, afforded no prospect that his production 
could be printed, yet he found attention by his 
repeated calls, and by the humility of his expec- 
tations, which were limited to half a dozen copies 
of the Magazine. At length, on his name being 
announced where a literary gentleman, particu- 
larly conversant in rural economy, happened to 
be presentj the poem was finally reexamined ; and 
its general aspect excited the risibility of that 
gentleman in so pointed a manner, that Bloomfield 
was called into the room, and exhorted not to 
waste his time, and neglect his employment, in 
making vain attempts, and particularly in tread- 
ing on ground which Thomson had sanctified. 
His earnestness and confidence, however, led the 
editor to advise him to consult his countryman, 
Mr. Capel Lofft, of Trooton, to whom he gave 
him a letter of introduction. On his departure, 
the gentleman present warmly complimented the 
editor on the sound advice which he had given 
the ' poor fellow ; ' and it was mutually conceived 
that an industrious man was thereby likely to be 
saved from a ruinous infatuation." 

Mr. Lofft in time received the poem, and soon 
came to the conclusion, that, notwithstanding its 
forbidding aspect, it possessed original merit of a 
high order. Through his exertions it was sold to 


the publishers, Messrs. Vernor and Hood, for £50. 
These gentlemen subsequently acted very liberally 
in giving to the poet an additional sum of £200, 
and an interest in the copyright of his production. 
As soon as published, the poem was received with 
unexpected admiration. It was praised by literary 
men and critics, and read by every body. This 
might seem the more remarkable because of its 
resemblance, at the first sight, to the " Seasons " 
of Thomson. Like that poet of nature, he sings of 
« Spring," " Summer," « Autumn," and " Winter." 
But the resemblance is almost confined to the 
mere announcement of the themes ; for while 
Thomson weaves into his poem the various events 
of the rolling year, wherever witnessed or however 
produced, Bloomfield confines himself to the hum- 
ble affairs of the farm. It is, indeed, his own early 
life, that he lives over again. His tender imagi- 
nation hallows the lowly paths which his boyish 
footsteps trod, and out of ordinary and vulgar 
events gathers the themes of poetry. Thus do 
fragrant and beautiful flowers grow from the 
rankest soil. It is not nature which is vulgar; 
but we, with our gross conceptions, make it appear 
so. He, from whose eyes the scales have fallen, 
may see in events the most common and lowly, a 
soul of beauty. 

Bloomfield sufficiently indicates the course of 
his poem, in the invocation with which the first 
brief canto opens : — 

" O come, blest Spirit ! whatsoe 'er thou art, 
Thou kindling warmth that hoverest round my heart, 
Sweet inmate, hail! thou source of sterling joy, 
That poverty itself cannot destroy, 
Be thou my muse ; and faithful still to me, 
Ketrace the paths of wild obscurity. 


No deeds of arms my humble lines i-ehearse ; 
No alpine wonders thunder tlirough my verse; 
The roaring cataract, the sQOw-topt hill, 
Inspiring awe, till breath itself stands still ; 
Nature's sublimer scenes ne'er chamied mine eyes, 
Nor science led me through the boundless skies. 
From meaner objects far my raptures flow : 
O point these raptures ! bid my bosom glow ! 
And lead my soul to extacics of praise 
For all the blessings of my infant days ! 
Bear me through regions where gay fancy dAvells ; 
But mould to truth's fair form what memoiy tells." 

The poem throughout is characterized by sim- 
plicity and truth ; and in these respects, as well as 
in picturesqueness, pathos, and strictly pastoral 
imagery, it probably equals any poem of the kind 
ever published. Within the first three years after 
its appearance, seven editions, comprising in all 
twenty-six thousand copies, were printed, and 
new impressions have since been repeatedly called 
for. In 1805, it was translated into Latin by Mr. 
Clubbe. It was also translated into French, un- 
der the title of Le Valet du Fermier. 

From various sources the successful poet re- 
ceived substantial marks of the esteem in which 
he was held. Subscriptions were raised for him ; 
and many of the nobility, with the Duke of York 
at their head, made him valuable presents. The 
Duke of Grafton settled upon him a small annuity, 
and made him an under sealer in the seal-office. 
Besides this, the sale of the work itself brought 
him in a considerable sum. No wonder he said 
that "his good fortune appeared to him like a 

The circumstances of his subsequent life were 
not so happy as this auspicious commencement of 
Lis literary career seemed to promise. Ill health 


obliged him to give up his post at the seal-office, 
and he again resorted to his old trade of shoe- 
making, adding to it the making of -^olian harps. 
Having engaged in the bookselling business, he 
was unsuccessful; and this, together with a di- 
minished sale of his poems and his liberal charity 
to his relatives, who were numerous and all poor, 
reduced him almost to poverty. Mr. Rogers ex- 
erted himself to obtain a pension for his way-worn 
and sad-hearted brother poet, and Mr. Southey 
also manifested a deep interest in his welfare. Ill 
health was added to the sorrows of poverty, and a 
continual headache and great nervous in-itability 
sometimes threatened to deprive him of reason. 
From this he was perhaps saved only by his de- 
cease. He removed to the country, and died at 
Shefford, in Bedfordshire, August 19, 1823, in the 
fifty-seventh year of his age. During his life he 
never deserted the muses. He published several 
short pieces in the Monthly Mirror ; a collection 
of rural tales ; and several volumes of poems. 
One of his productions, "May-day with the 
Muses," published in the year of his death, 
" opens with a fine burst of poetical though mel- 
ancholy feeling." 

" Oh for the strength to paint my joy once more ! 

That joy I feel when winter's reign is o'er; 

When the dark despot lifts his hoary brow, 

And seeks his polar realm's eternal snow ; 

Though bleak November's fogs oppress my brain, 

Shake every ner^'e, and straggling fancy chain ; 
* Though time creeps o'er me with his palsied hand, 

And frost-like bids the stream of passion stand." 

These later works of his are of various degrees 
of merit. "We will quote two of his shorter pieces, 


" The Soldier's Home," and some lines " To his 
Wife," as happily exhibiting some of the sweetest 
characteristics of his poetry. Of the first, Pro- 
fessor Wilson remarks, " The topic is trite, but in 
!Mr. Bloomfield's hands it almost assumes a char- 
acter of novelty. Burns's ' Soldier's Return ' is 
not, to our taste, one whit superior." 

THE soldier's HOME. 

" My untried muse shall no high tone assume, 
Nor strut in arras — fiirewell my cap and plume ! 
Brief be my verse, a task within ray power, 
I tell my feelings in one happy hour. 
But what an hour was that? when from the main 
I reached this lovely valley once again ! 
A glorious harvest filled my eager sight, 
Half shocked, half waving in a flood of light; 
On that poor cottage roof where I was born, 
The sun looked down as in life's early morn. 
I gazed around, but not a soul appeared ; 
I listened on the threshold, nothing heard ; 
I called my father thrice, but no one came ; 
It was not fear or grief that shook my frame, 
But an o'erpowering sense of peace and home, 
Of toils gone by, perhaps of joys to come. 
The door invitingly stood open wide ; 
I shook my dust, and set my staff aside. 
How sweet it was to breathe that cooler air, 
And take possession of my father's chair ! 
Beneath my elbow, on the solid frame, 
Appeared the rough initials of my name. 
Cut forty years before ! The same old clock 
Struck the same bell, and gave my heart a shock 
I never can forget. A short breeze sprung, 
And while a sigh was trembling on my tongue, 
Caught the old dangling almanacs behind. 
And up they flew like banners in the wind ; 
Then gently, singly, down, down, down they went, 
And told of twenty years that I had spent 
Far from my native land. That instant came 
A robin on the threshold ; though so tame, 


At first he looked distrustful, almost shy, 

And cast on me his coal-black, steadfast eye, 

And seemed to say (past friendship to renew^, 

' Ah ha ! old worn-out soldier, is it yon ? ' 

Through the room ranged the imprisoned humble bee, 

And bombed, and bounced, and struggled to be free ; 

Dashing against the panes with sullen roar, 

That threw their diamond sunlight on the floor ; 

That floor, clean-sanded, where my fancy strayed 

O'er undulating waves the broom had made ; 

Reminding me of those of hideous forms 

That met us as we passed the Cape of storms, 

"Where high and loud they break and peace comes never; 

They roll and foam, and roll and foam for ever. 

But here was peace, that peace which home can yield : 
The grasshopper, the partridge in the field. 
And ticking clock, were all at once become 
The substitute for clarion, fife, and drum. 
While thus I mused, still gazing, gazing still, 
On beds of moss that spread the window sill, 

Feelings on feelings, mingling, doubling rose ; 
My heart felt every thing but calm repose : 
I could not reckon minutes, hours, nor years, 
But rose at once and bursted into tears ; 
Then, like a fool, confused, sat down again, 
And thought upon the past with shame and pain ; 
I raved at war and all its horrid cost. 
And glory's quagmire, where the brave are lost. 
On carnage, fire, and plunder, long I mused, 
And cursed the murdering weapons I had used. 

But why thus spin my tale — thus tedious be ? 
Happy old soldier ! what's the world to me ! " 

The lines to "his wife," are full of delicate 
affection, full too of his narrow observation of na- 
ture and of genial sympathy with all things. 
They give us a delightful picture of the heart of 
him who wrote them. 





" I rise, dear Mary, from the soundest rest, 
A wandering, way-worn, musing, singing guest 
I claim the privilege of hill and plain : 
Mine are the woods, and all that they contain; 
The unpolluted gale, which sweeps the glade ; 
All the cool blessings of the solemn shade ; 
Health, and the flow of happiness sincere. 
Yet there's one wish — I wish that thou wert here : 
Free from the trammels of domestic care, 
With me these dear autumnal sweets to share ; 
To share my heart's ungovernable joy. 
And keep the birth-day of our poor lame boy. 
Ah ! that's a tender string ! Yet since I find 
That scenes like these can soothe the harassed mind, 
Trust me, 'twould set thy jaded spirits free. 
To wander thus through vales and woods with me. 
Thou know'st how much I love to steal away 
From noise, from uproar, and the blaze of day; 
With double transport would my heart rebound 
To lead thee where the clustering nuts are found: 
No toilsome efforts would our task demand, 
For the brown treasure stoops to meet the hand. 
Round the tall hazel, beds of moss appear 
In green swards nibbled by the forest deer ; 
Sun, and alternate shade ; while o'er our heads 
The cawing rook his glossy pinions spreads ; 
The noisy jay, his wild woods dashing through ; 
The ring-dove's chorus, and the rustling bough ; 
The far-resounding gate ; the kite's shrill scream; 
The distant ploughman's halloo to his team. 
This is the chorus to my soul so dear; 
It would delight thee too, wert thou but here ; 
For we might talk of home, and muse o'er days 
Of sad distress, and Heaven's mysterious ways : 
Our chequered fortunes with a smile retrace, 
And build new hopes upon our infant race ; 
Pour our thanksgivings forth, and weep the while ; 
Or pray for blessings on our native isle. 
But vain the wish ! Mary, thy sighs forbear, 
Nor grudge the pleasure which thou canst not share : 
Make home delightful, kindly wish for me. 
And I'll leave hills, and dales, and woods for thee." 


As these extracts sufficiently indicate, the poet 
was of an affectionate and amiable character. 
His genius did not get the better of his modesty, 
nor destroy his attachment for his humble but 
faithful friends. It is gratifying to know that 
those excellent and affectionate relations, his 
mother and brother, both lived to witness the 
prosperity of him who had been to each, in other 
days, the object of so much anxious care. It was 
the dearest of the poet's gratifications, when his 
book was printed, to present a copy of it to his 
mother, to whom upon that occasion, he had it in 
his power, for the first time, to pay a visit, after 
twelve years* absence from his native village. 
From a tribute to his memory, by a brother poet, 
Bernard Barton, we quote a single verse as a 
conclusion to this imperfect sketch. 

" It is not quaint and local terms 

Besprinkled o'er thy rustic lay, 
Though well such dialect confirms, 

Its power unlettered minds to sway; 
But 'tis not these that most display 

Thy sweetest charms, thy gentlest thrall, — 
Words, phrases, fashion, pass away, 

But Truth and Nature live through all." 


This distinguished mathematician, and exem- 
plary divine, was born in the neighborhood of 
Leeds, England, in the year 1751. His father 
was a man of strong understanding, who, having 
felt, in his own case, the want of a good educa- 
tion, formed an early resolution to remedy that 
defect in his children, as far as in him lay. Ac- 
cordingly, Isaac, the youngest, was sent, at six 
years of age, with his brother Joseph, to the 
grammar-school of his native town, where he 
made a very rapid progress in classical learning. 
Just as he was entering upon the study of the 
Greek language, however, in his tenth year, the 
death of his father, who had been unfortunate in 
business, and had. suffered materially in his cir- 
cumstances from the incidents of the rebellion of 
1745, blighted all his prospects of a literary edu- 
cation ; his' mother being under the painful 
necessity of taking him from school, and placing 
him in a situation in Leeds, in which he would have 
an opportunity of learning several branches of the 
woollen manufacture. His father had been a 
master-weaver ; and when he fell into difficulties, 
his sons, lads as they were, rose up early and sat 
up late, to contribute, by the produce of their 
spinning-wheels, to the support of the family, 
which was placed in such straitened circum- 
stances, that, Joseph requiring a Greek book, 
while at school, to enable him to pass into a higher 
class, his father sent it home, one Saturday night, 


instead of a joint of meat for their Sunday's din- 
ner, not having the means of procuring both. 
"When his death deprived his wife and children 
of the material advantage of his assistance, Joseph, 
during the intervals of school, and Isaac, before 
he went to his work as an apprentice, and after 
he came home from it, rising in winter many 
hours before day-break, and working by candle- 
light, plied the shuttle incessantly, for the better 
support of their mother, left in an ill state of 
health, to get a scanty living by the labor of her 
hands. Isaac remained with his master for sev- 
eral years, until his brother Joseph (who from 
the humble station of chapel clerk of Catharine 
Hall, Cambridge — in which capacity, supported 
by several admirers of his extraordinary learning 
in Leeds, he entered that university soon after the 
death of his father — had become head-master of 
the grammar school, and afterwards lecturer of 
the principal church in Hull), from an income of 
£200 a year, generously resolved to take upon 
himself the charge of his education for the church. 
Before, however, he had him removed to Hull, he 
commissioned a clergyman at Leeds to ascertain 
what were his attainments. The degree of knowl- 
edge which he had acquired, the accuracy of his 
ideas, and the astonishing command of language 
which he possessed, fully satisfied him of the com- 
petency of the lad for the situation in which it 
was intended to place him. A few days after, at 
the age of seventeen, he left Leeds and the occu- 
pation of a weaver, for his brother's dwelling and 
the more congenial pursuits of a literary life. 
Though still but a boy, he was found to have been 
so well grounded in the classics by Moore, the 


usher of llie grammar-school at Leeds, as to be 
able to render material assistance to his brother, 
in teaching the lower boys of his crowded classes. 
Whilst not thus engaged, he pui'sued his own 
studies with his wonted diligence, and soon be- 
came a complete and accomplished classic. In 
mathematics, also, his attainments must also at 
this time have been considerable, as his brother, 
whose preeminence as a scholar lay not in these 
pursuits, on the occurrence of any algebraical dif- 
ficulty, was in the habit of sending to him for its 
solution. Having thus redoubled his diligence, 
to make up for the time he had lost, — well pre- 
pared by a most laborious and successful, if not a 
long course of study, aided by natural talents of 
unusual depth and splendor, to make a conspicuous 
figure at the university, — he was entered a sizar 
(an indigent student supported by benefactions 
called exhibitions) at Queen's College, Cambridge, 
in the year 1770, where he greatly distinguished 
himself by his learning and application. He took 
his bachelor's degree in 1774, when he attained 
the high honor of being at once the senior wran- 
gler of his year and the first Smith's prize man. 
So strongly, indeed, was his superiority over all 
his competitors marked on this occasion, that, 
contrary to the usual practice, it was deemed 
right, by the examiners, to interpose a blank 
space between them ; and he was honored with the 
designation of Incomparahilis, a distinction which 
has never been conferred but in one other in- 
stance. Nor was his learning confined to math- 
ematics, for he was not less eminent in other 
walks of science and literature. In theology, we 
learn from Bishop Watson, that he was so deeply 


read, that, when he kept his act, the divinity school 
was thronged with auditors ; and their curiosity 
was amply gratified by listening to what the pre- 
late terms a "real academical entertainment." 
The circumstance of these disputations being held 
in Latin, proves also that Milner must have made 
great progress in classical knowledge. 

In the following year, Mr. Milner was elected 
a fellow of his college. In 1783 and in 1785, he 
acted as moderator in the schools ; was nominated, 
in 1782, one of the proctors, and in 1783, a taxor 
of the university. In the latter year, also, he 
was chosen to be the first Jacksonian professor 
of natural and experimental philosophy and chem- 
istry, in which sciences he had previously given 
several courses of public lectures in the university, 
with great acceptance. 

The acquaintance of Milner with Mr. Wilber- 
force, and the influence he exerted upon that dis- 
tinguished philanthropist, are among the most 
interesting circumstances of his life. When a boy, 
Wilberforce attended the school of the Milners, at 
Hull. This was the commencement of their ac- 
quaintance ; and when, some years afterwards, 
Mr. Wilberforce was seeking a companion for a 
tour upon the continent, he proposed to Mr. Mil- 
ner to accompany him. Accordingly, on the 
20th of October, 1784, they started; Milner and 
Wilberforce in one carriage, and the mother, sis- 
ter, and two cousins of the latter following them 
in another. They crossed France to Lyons, 
dropped down the " arrowy Rhone," and made 
quite a long stay at Nice. Mr. Wilberforce had 
chosen his companion for vivacity and sterling 
good sense, for his talents and great acquire- 


ments, " bis cheerfulness, good-nature, and powers 
of social entertainment."* But there were other 
qualities in this man, of which the young and gay 
traveller was not aware, but which, under the di- 
rection of an over-watching Providence, were 
made productive of most important results. Mr. 
Wilberforce himself says of him, " Though Mil- 
ner's religious px'inciples were even now, in theory, 
much the same as in later life, yet they had at 
this time little practical effect upon his conduct. 
He was free from every taint of vice, but not 
more attentive than others to religion ; he ap- 
peared in all respects like an ordinary man of the 
world, mixing like myself in all companies, and 
joining as readily as others in the prevalent Sun- 
day parties. Indeed, when I engaged him as a 
companion in my tour, I knew not that he had 
any deeper pi-inciples. The first time I discovered 
it, was at the 2:)ublic table at Scarborough. The 
conversation turned on Mr. Stillingfleet ; and I 
spoke of him as a good man, but one who carried 
things too fjir. — " Not a bit too far," said Milner ; 
and to this opinion he adhered, when we renewed 
the conversation in the evening on the Sands. 
This declaration greatly surprised me ; and it was 
agreed that at some future time we Avould talk the 
matter over. Had I known at first what his 
opinions were, it would have decided me against 

* In all the scenes of gaycty upon the continent, Wilber- 
force " was constantly accompanied by Milner, ■whose 
vivacity and sense, joined with rustic and unpolished man- 
ners, continually amused his friends. — "Pretty boy! 
pretty boy ! " uttered in the broadest Yorkshire dialect, 
whilst he stroked fiimiliarly his head, was the mode in 
which he first addressed the young Prince William of 
Gloucester." — Life of Wilberforce. 


making the offer ; so true it is that a gracious 
hand leads us in ways that we know not, and 
blesses us not only without, but even against, our 
plans and inclinations." Wilberforce was at this 
time among the gayest of the gay, and was quite 
ready to turn his raillery against all seriousness 
in religion, as extravagant and methodistical ; but 
Milner met his jocose attack with earnestness, 
" I am no match for you, Wilberforce," he Avould 
say to him, " in this running fire ; but, if you really 
wish to discuss these subjects seriously, I will 
gladly enter on them with you." 

Another small circumstance shows tlie turn of 
Milner's mind. By chance, a short time before 
they started on their tour, Wilberforce took up 
" Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion," 
and, casting his eye over it, asked his companion 
what the character of it was. " It is one of the 
best books ever written," was the reply : " let us 
take it with us, and read it on our journey." The 
result was that it was taken and read, and Wil- 
berforce determined at some future time to exam- 
ine the scriptures for himself, and find out the 
truth of what the little volume stated. 

The two travellers were called home from their 
journey rather unexpectedly, by the political con- 
dition of England. Leaving the ladies of the 
party at Nice, they made their way through 
Antibes, across France, with all haste. Once on 
their return, Wilberforce seems to have been in 
great danger, from which his friend but just saved 
him. " As they climbed a frozen road upon the 
hills of Burgundy, the weight of their carriage 
overpowered the horses ; and it was just running 
over a frightful precipice, when Milner, who was 


walking behind, perceived the danger, and, by a 
sudden effort of his great strength of muscle, ar- 
rested its descent." After the close of the session 
of Parliament, which took place about the end of 
June, the two friends started again, and met their 
former companions at Genoa. From this place 
they travelled together as before to Switzerland 
by way of Turin. During this journey, they be- 
gan, according to Milner's suggestion, to read the 
Greek Testament together, and carefully to exam- 
ine its doctrines, and discuss its principles. 

The result is known to all who know any thing 
of the later life of Wilberforce. " By degrees," 
he says of his companion, " I imbibed his senti- 
ments, though I must confess with shame, that 
they long remained merely as opinions assented 
to by my understanding, but not influencing my 
heart. My interest in them certainly increased, 
and at length I began to be impressed with a 
sense of their importance. JNIilner, though full of 
levity on all other subjects, never spoke on this 
but with the utmost seriousness, and all he said 
tended to increase my attention to religion." The 
friendship, tlius cemented, continued without an 
interruption until the death of Milner, thirty-seven 
years afterwards. 

In the year 1788, Mr. Milner was elected pres- 
ident of the college, to which, as a student, he had 
been so bright an ornament, and, about the same 
time, took his degree of doctor in divinity. 

For some years previously, the college, which 
had been the asylum of Erasmus, was rapidly de- 
clining in its reputation for learning and disci- 
pline ; but, from the moment of his assuming the 
reins of its government, he labored indefatigably 


and successfully to restore its ancient character 
for both. He introduced into its fellowships men 
eminent for their talents at other colleges. It 
specially became celebrated, during his presidency, 
for the number of pious young men who studied 
there for the Christian ministry, and who are now 
some of the most popular and zealous clergymen 
of the establishment. Dr. Milner aided the cause 
of learning, in no slight degree, by giving a strong 
impulse to the study of mathematics and the va- 
rious branches of experimental philosophy. In 
1791, he was raised to the deanery of Carlisle. 

In 1798, he was placed in the chair of the 
Lucasian professor of mathematics, a situation 
worth about £350 a year, which had been suc- 
cessively filled by Isaac Barrow^ Sir Isaac New- 
ton, Whiston, Saunderson, Colson, and Waring, 
the most eminent mathematicians of their day. 
He twice served the otfice of vice-chancellor of 
the university. As an author, he is advanta- 
geously known by the life of his brother Joseph ; 
by strictures on some of the publications of Dr. 
Herbert Marsh — a most masterly defence of the 
Bible Society ; by a continuation of the Church 
History begun by his brother; and by papers 
contributed to the Transactions of the Royal So- 
ciety, of which he was a fellow. 

He died at the house of his friend, Mr. Wilber- 
force, in London, on the 1st of April, 1820, in 
the seventieth year of his age. He left the world 
in humble hope of eternal life, through the media- 
tion and merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

" In intellectual endowment," says his biogra- 
pher (supposed to be Mr. Wilberforce), "Isaac 
Milner was unquestionably one of the first men 


of his day. lie possessed prodigious powers of un- 
derstanding. As a mathematician, he was one of 
the first, if not the very first, of liis age. He had 
also a great partiality for mechanics ; and spend- 
ing most of his leisure, during the lifetime of his ' 
brother, at Hull, his lodgings there were a com- 
plete workshop, filled with all kinds of carpenter's 
and turner's tools. There he w'as accustomed dai- 
ly to relax his mind from the fatigues of study 
by some manual labor ; and so much was he inter- 
ested in these pursuits, that his lathe and appen- 
dages for turning were not only extremely curious, 
but very expensive, having cost him no less a 
sum than one hundred and forty guineas. He 
had also a very ingenious machine, partly of his 
own invention, which formed and polished at the 
same time, watch wheels of every description, 
with the utmost possible exactness." 

Humility was a very striking feature in his 
character. Never, at any period of his life, was 
he ashamed of his former lowly station ; and after 
he had become the head of a college, a dignified 
member of the clerical order, and had proved 
himself one of the first scholars in the country, 
whenever he passed through Leeds, as he gener- 
ally did on his journeys to the North, he never 
failed to visit the obscure friends of his boyish 
days ; and, by his well-timed acts of generosity 
towards them, often did he " deliver the poor and 
fatherless, and cause the widow's heart to sing for 
joy." Isaac Milner, the poor fatherless weaver, 
and the very reverend Isaac Milner, president of • 
Queen's College, Lucasian professor of mathemat- 
ics, and dean of Carlisle, rich in this world's 


goods,* as well as in literary fame, never wore 
even the semblance of two different men. 
Through life, he manifested in his deportment 
the unaffected simplicity of manners and affability 
of disposition appropriate to his early station in 
society, but not less adorning the high sphere in 
which, by the providence of God, he afterwards 
was called to move. 

* Notwithstanding his great liberality, he accumulated 
from the savings of his preferment a fortune of from fifty 
to sixty thousand pounds. 



There is a sense in which every educated man 
may be said to be self-taught. All the aids which 
he receives from instructors, from Ubraries, and 
the whole apparatus of universities, will avail 
him little, without constant and diligent personal 
efforts. No man has made great attainments, but 
by severe toil. We introduce the name of Sir 
William Jones, not because he belongs to that 
meritorious class of persons, who, almost without 
means, have conquered great difficulties ; but be- 
cause he used the means which a liberal fortune 
bestowed, with so much assiduity, that, although 
dying at an early age, his name has ever since 
remained as one of the watchwords of scholars. 

Sir William Jones was born in London, in 
the year 1746. His father was distinguished as 
a mathematical scholar, and was on terms of close 
friendship with some of the most distinguished 
scientific and literary men of England ; among 
whom were Lord Hardwicke (afterward Lord 
Chancellor), Halley, Mead, and especially Sir 
Isaac Newton. His mother was the daughter of 
a celebrated cabinet maker, who had risen to 
great eminence in his profession, and, by the 
agreeableness of his manners and his good sense, 
had become an acceptable companion of highly- 
educated gentlemen. When William was but 
three years old, his father died, and the care of 
his education devolved upon his mother. Being a 
woman of strong mind, she determined to devote 



herself to this object as her first duty. Accordingly, 
although invited by the Countess of Macclesfield 
to remain with her at her residence at Sherborne 
Castle, she declined the solicitation, lest it should 
interfere with the plans she had formed for her 
son. The boy early showed an inquisitiveness 
uncommon among children ; and to his application 
for instruction, his mother always replied. Read, 
and you will know. To this maxim the great 
scholar, in after life, acknowledged that he was 
mainly indebted for his attainments. 

One of the most celebrated schools in England 
is that at Harrow, a village about ten miles north- 
west of London. It was founded in the reign of 
Elizabeth, and has educated its proportion of the 
distinguished scholars and statesmen of England. 
To this school William Jones was sent in 1753, 
at about the beginning of his eighth year. His 
mother accompanied him to the place, and re- 
mained there in order to render him such assist- 
ance, and give such a direction to his mind, as she 
thought would be for his good. For two years, 
be was distinguished more for diligence than pre- 
cocity, and divided his attention between his books 
and a little garden which he cultivated and em- 
bellished. He was so unfortunate, in his ninth 
year, as to break his thigh bone ; by which acci- 
dent he was detained from school for a year. 
Though his classical studies were intermitted 
during this period, yet his mother directed his 
attention to many of the best English writers, 
whose works were suited to his age and tastes. 
Some of the poems of Pope and Dry den afforded 
him great delight. On returning to school again, 
be was put into the same class which he had lefl ; 


and their increased attainments, during his year 
of vacation, made him appear the more defective. 
The master, who mistook his necessary failure for 
the effect of dullness or laziness, threatened and 
punished, hut without producing the wished-for 
result. It was a question, whether the boy would 
not be discouraged by harsh treatment, and his 
feelings become callous and inditferent ; but his 
spirit rose above the little adversities of his situa- 
tion. Of his own accord, he began to study the 
elementary treatises, which taught him the prin- 
ciples that his class had learnt while he was sick. 
In a few months, it became evident that the back- 
ward boy was neither lazy nor dull. He recov- 
ered his standing ; took the head of his class ; in 
every instance gained the prize offered for any 
exercise ; and carried his studies much beyond 
what had ever been required of the scholars in 
his form. 

In his twelfth year, he entered the upper school, 
and soon had occasion to give an example of the 
remarkable powers of his memory. His school- 
fellows, for their amusement, were endeavoring to 
represent a play, and, at his suggestion, had fixed 
on the Tempest. Of this, however, they had no 
copy, neither could one be easily procured. To 
supply the deficiency, young Jones wrote it out 
from memory, with sufficient correctness to en- 
able them to act it with great satisfaction to them- 
selves. About the same time, he began the study 
of Greek, and prosecuted his Latin with more 
zeal than ever. He conquered many of the diffi- 
culties of Latin prosody, before his teacher and 
schoolmates were aware that he had thought of 
the subject. The pastorals of Virgil, and several 


of the epistles of Ovid, he translated into English 
verse ; and it was not uncommon for boys of the 
superior classes to come to him for assistance in 
writing their exercises. The holidays he usually 
devoted to study. On one occasion, he invented 
a play, which showed the tendency of his mind. 
His principal assistants were Dr. Bennett (the 
future Bishop of Cloyne) and Dr. Parr. The 
fields of Harrow they divided into states and 
kingdoms, according to the map of Greece, each 
assuming one as his dominion, and with it taking 
an ancient name. The hillocks were fortresses, 
which were attacked by others of their school- 
fellows, who consented to be called barbarians ; 
and the mimic wars which followed, gave rise to 
councils, harangues, embassies, and memorials, 
and whatever other operations of states and gov- 
ernments their young heads could learn about. 
In these operations, Jones was the leader.* 

* It is interesting to notice the opinions which his school- 
fellows and his principal instructor had of him at this early 
age. The Bishop of Cloyne wrote many years afterward : 
" I knew him from the early age of eight or nine, and he 
was always an nncommon boy. Great abilities, great par- 
ticularity of thinking, fondness for writing verses and 
plays of various kinds, and a degree of integrity and manly 
courage, of which I remember many instances, distin- 
guished him even at that period. I loved him and revered 
him, and, though one or tvvo years older than he was, was 
always instructed by him from my earliest age. In a 
word, I can only say of this amiable and wonderful man, 
that he had more virtues and less faults than I ever yet 
saw in any human being ; and that the goodness of his 
head, admirable as it was, was exceeded by that of his 
heart." Dr. Thackeray, the head master of llarrow, used 
to say, that Jones " was a boy of so active a mind, that, if 
he were left naked and friendless on Salisbury plain, he 
would nevertheless find the road to fame and riches." 


When Jones was fifteen years old, Dr. Sumner 
succeeded Dr. Thackeray; and, under his super- 
vision, the young scholar devoted the next two 
years of his life to the diligent study of the best 
ancient authors. He did not, however, confine 
himself to these. During his vacations, he found 
time to perfect himself in French, to study Italian 
and arithmetic. He also learned something of 
Arabic, and enough of Hebrew to enable him to 
read some of the Psalms in the original. His 
inclination to study at this period was, indeed, so 
earnest, that at last it was thought best to check 
it, lest he might injure his health. His attend- 
ance at school was therefore dispensed with, and 
he was for a while forbidden to study. 

At the age of seventeen, it was decided that he 
should go to one of the universities. This deter- 
mination was adopted with some hesitation, since 
his mother had been strongly urged by some dis- 
tinguished lawyers to place him in the office of an 
eminent special pleader. He had already read 
the Abridgment of Coke's Institutions, and his 
friends thought that his learning and industry 
would insure him brilliant success at the bar. To 
this course he was himself opposed; and the strong 
advice of Dr. Sumner, added to certain consider- 
ations of economy, finally led to the wished-for 
decision. In the spring of 1764, he went to Ox- 
ford, and entered University College.* 

For the first few months of his residence at 

* The following form of his admission may be interest- 
ing to some. It is copied from his own writing. " Ego 
Gullelmus Jones, filius unions Gulielmi Jones, Armigeri 
de civitate Lond. lubens subscribo sub tutamine JMagistri 
Betts, et Magistri Coulson, annos nalus septemdecim." 


Oxford, Mr. Jones was much disappointed at the 
course of instruction. He expected assistance 
and encouragement which he did not receive; 
the lectures seemed to him artificial and dull ; 
and all genial criticism, rhetoric, and poetry, as 
good as dead. This opinion he afterwards con- 
siderably modified. A testimony to his scholar- 
ship was soon given, by his being elected one of 
the four scholars on the foundation of Sir Simon 
Bennett. His love for Oriental literature began 
to revive. He resumed the Arabic, and was so 
earnest in the pursuit of it, that, having acciden- 
tally found in London a native of Aleppo, who 
could speak the vulgar Arabic fluently, he induced 
him to come to Oxford, in order that he might 
learn from him the pronunciation of the language. 
He hoped to induce other scholars to join with 
him, and so to diminish the expense ; but in this 
he failed, and he was obliged to maintain the 
Ai'ab alone, at a time when he could ill afford the 
additional demand upon his finances. To the 
Arabic he soon added the Persian. Nor did he in 
the mean time neglect his old friends, the Greeks 
and Latins. The Greek poets and historians, and 
especially the writings of Plato, he carefully pe- 
rused ; reading, according to the advice of many 
eminent scholars, with pen in hand, ready to note 
down whatever struck him with greatest force, or 
to follow out the suggestions which he derived 
from them. "With the Italian, Spanish, and Por- 
tuguese, he had become so familiar as to be able 
to read easily their best authors. Nor did he 
neglect physical education. He was always fond 
of bodily exercises, and pursued them syste- 
matically, both as invigorating his frame, and as 


fitting him the better to enduz-e the active exer- 
tions to which he might be called in future life. 
Thus, as he said, "with the fortune of a peasant, 
he gave himself the education of a prince." It 
is evident, that, for these extraordinary attain- 
ments, he was indebted to unwearying diligence 
and fidelity, quite as much as to natural capacity. 

"While pursuing these courses of study at the 
university, he found that his necessary expenses 
were making lai'ge demands upon the limited 
income of his mother, and he thought it proper 
to look for some occupation that might relieve 
her of the burden. Whether or not this was 
known to his friends, we do not know ; but he 
soon received an invitation to become the private 
tutor of Lord Althorpe (afterwards Earl Spen- 
cer). This he concluded to accept, and, in his 
nineteenth year, in the summer of 1765, went to 
Wimbledon Park to undertake the education of his 
young pupil, at that time but seven years of age. 

During the next summer, 1766, he was very 
unexpectedly chosen to a fellowship at Oxford. 
This was extremely gi-atifying to him ; since, be- 
sides being an honorable testimony to his scholar- 
ship, it gave him what he thought an absolute 
independence. The income was indeed but a 
hundred pounds, but it was at that time sufiicient 
for the expenses of a young man of prudent hab- 
its. A residence at Oxford too, with its ample 
libraries and society of learned men, was just 
what he most desired. Had it been offered to 
him a year earlier, it might have changed the 
whole course of his life. As it was, although he 
accepted the honor, he still continued in his situa- 
tion as tutor. 


During this same year, he received from the 
Duke of Grafton, then at the head of the treas- 
ury, the oiFer of the post of Interpreter of Eastern 
languages, which, however, he did not accept. 
At Wimbledon, he found much to delight him ; 
but that which seemed to him of greatest value 
was a well-stored library, almost every volume 
of which he read, or to some extent examined. 
About this time, he began his Commentaries on 
Asiatic Poetry, after the manner of Dr. Lowth's 
Prelections on Hebreyir Poetry. 

It will not be practicable, within the limits of 
this brief sketch, to follow minutely the course of 
this most diligent and distinguished young scholar. 
We find him the next year, 1767, during a visit 
to the continent, on which he accompanied the 
family of Lord Spenser, learning the German, at 
that time not considered an essential part of a 
thorough education. After his return home, in 
the same year, he nearly completed his Commen- 
taries, transcribed an Arabic manuscript which he 
had borrowed, and began to learn the Chinese. 
Another slight circumstance which took place 
about the same time, had an important bearing on 
his future pursuits. He happened to read, from 
curiosity, a very old work by Fortescue, on the 
laws of England, in which the condition of the 
English is contrasted with that of other nations. 
The discussion opened to the ardent mind of the 
curious scholar a world of reflections. This was 
a subject upon which he had not thought, but one 
upon which his knowledge gave him the opportunity 
of collecting materials for a comprehensive and true 
judgment. From this time forward, his mind was 
interested in the great subject of Jurisprudence. 



In the spring of the year 1768, he received a 
proposal of a singular nature, but one which 
showed how widely his reputation as a ripe 
scholar extended. The King of Denmark, theu 
upon a visit to England, had brought with him an 
Eastern manuscript, containing the life of Kadir 
Shah, which he was desirous of having translated 
in England. The Secretary of State sent the 
volume to Mr. Jones, with a request that he 
would translate it into the French language. Mr. 
Jones declined; but the application was renewed 
in such a form, and with so much urgency, that 
he was afraid of being thought morose or ill- 
natured, if he persisted in refusing. It would 
have been much easier for him to translate it into 
Latin ; and although he took great pains to acquire 
a good French style, he thought it necessary to 
submit every page to a native of France. The 
work, difficult as it was, I'equiring a critical knowl- 
edge of two languages, one of which was then 
hardly known in Europe, was finished in a year. 
Mr. Jones was not then twenty-four ! 

During the time that he was engaged upon this 
serious task, he was not unmindful of other things. 
For the same reasons, in part, which led him for- 
merly to practise horsemanship and fencing, he now 
took lessons in music. His idea of education was, 
that it should harmoniously develope all the pow- 
ers of mind and body, and enlarge to the utmost 
the field of our sympathy. He also began about 
the same time to extend considerably his literary 
acquaintance. One of those with whom he formed 
a friendship was Count Revicski, afterwards im- 
perial minister at "Warsaw, and ambassador at the 
court of England. He was an accomplished 


scholar, and an ardent Orientalist. Mr. Jonea 
corresponded with him for some time, chiefly in 
Latin, occasionally in French. 

During the summer of 1769, Mr. Jones had 
the pleasure of accompanying his young pupil to 
Harrow, and of enjoying again the society of his 
friend. Dr. Sumner. While there, he revised a 
Persian Grammar, which he had written some 
time before, and began a Persian Dictionary. 
He was led also, about the same time, to devote 
his attention more seriously to the evidences of 
the Christian religion. In order to form a better 
judgment, he determined to read the entire Bible 
in the original ; and his conviction became tliereby 
the firmer of its authenticity and inspiration. 

The following, transcribed from his manuscript 
in his own Bible, has often been printed, but 
it is not on that . account less worthy of inser- 
tion here. It contains his deliberate opinion, 
which he pronounced once, at least, before the 
Asiatic Society in India, of which he was founder 
and president. " I have carefully and regularly 
perused these Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion 
that the volume, independently of its divine ori- 
gin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more 
important history, and finer strains of eloquence, 
than can be collected from all other books, in 
whatever language they may have been written." 

Although Mr. Jones's connection with the 
family of Lord Spencer was very agreeable, yet 
he began, after a time, to feel that his independent 
exertions were somewhat confined by his course 
of life ; and that, while relying upon the patronage 
of those with whom he was then connected, there 
was less scope for the vigorous and manly em- 


ployment of his own abilities. He determined, 
therefore, to commence the study of the law, re 
solving to make the practice of it his profession. 
He did not, at first, think it necessary to forsake 
entirely his oriental pursuits, nor would it have 
been possible for him to do so in a moment. 
Literature had become a part of his life. Still, he 
devoted himself with great assiduity to the study of 
jurisprudence. His letters at this time show that 
his mind was divided between the two pursuits. 

" I have just beguo," he writes on one occasion, 
" to contemplate the stately edifice of the laws of 
England — 

' The gathered wisdom of a thousand years,' 

if you will allow me to parody a line of Pope. 
I do not see why the study of the law is called 
dry and unpleasant ; and I very much suspect 
that it seems so to those only who would think 
any study unpleasant, which required great appli- 
cation of the mind and exertion of the memory. 
♦ * * * I have opened two common-place books, 
the one of the law, the other of oratory, which is 
surely too much neglected by our modern speak- 
ers. * * * * But I must lay aside my studies for 
about six weeks, while I am printing my Grammar, 
from which a good deal is expected, and which 
I must endeavor to make as perfect as a human 
work can be. When that is finished, I shall attend 
the Court of King's Bench very constantly." 

In 1772, Mr. Jones was elected Fellow of the 
Royal Society. In 1774, he published his Com- 
mentaries on Asiatic Poetry. They had been 
finished for some years ; but he delayed the print- 
ing, in order to submit them to the criticism of 


scholars. They were written in Latin, and com- 
manded the approbation of the learned every- 
where. Dr. Parr said of them, in a letter to the 
author, " I have read your book, De Poesi 
Asiatica, with all the attention that is due to a 
work so studiously designed, and so happily exe- 
cuted. * « * * The inaccuracies are very rare, 
and very trifling. On the whole, there is a purity, 
an ease, an elegance in the style, which show an 
accurate and most perfect knowledge of the Latin 
tongue. Your Latin translations in verse gave 
me great satisfaction. I am uncommonly cliarraed 
with the idyllium called Chrysis. The How of 
the verses, the poetic style of the words, and the 
elegant turn of the whole poem, are admirable." 

In a letter to him about this time, we find Lady 
Spencer thanking him for his Andrometer. This 
was a kind of scale which Mr. Jones had pre- 
pared, indicating the occupation to which his life 
should be devoted, if protracted to the age of 
threescore years and ten. The first thirty years 
he sets apart for laying the foundation of future 
activity, by a wide and thorough course qf study 
in the languages, sciences, history, &c. The next 
twenty, he devotes mainly to public and professional 
occupations. Of the next ten, five are assigned to 
literary and scientific composition, and the re- 
maining five to a continuation of former pursuits. 
The last ten he reserves for a dignified rest from 
labors, and enjoyment of the fruit of them, crown- 
ing the whole with a preparation for eternity. 
This sketch was rather a hasty methodising of his 
thoughts, than a sober statement of plans ; but it 
shows that he was not content to live at hap- 
hazard. Nor did he intend to defer a preparation 


for eternity till the close of life, but rather to in- 
dicate, that, at the advanced period to which he 
assigned it, this was the only subject which could 
with propriety engross the thoughts. As far as 
his own attainments w^ere concerned, at the age 
when he made this sketch, he had far surpassed 
the limits which he had set for others. He was also 
destined to prove how vain are our plans for the 
future ; how fragile are the air-castles with which 
we adorn the later years of our transitory existence. 
Although we find, that with every year he felt 
the necessity of devoting himself without reserve 
to his profession, even to the extent of utterly 
abandoning his oriental studies, yet he could not 
entirely tear himself away from letters. He cor- 
responded with some of the most learned men on 
the continent. In 1778, he published a translation 
of a part of the orations of Isasus. Nothing but 
exhausted health or spirits turned him from 
study. Even in the amusements to which he 
was occasionally driven, the eagerness of his spirit 
is exhibited. " I must tell you here, by way of 
parenthesis," he writes from Bath to Lord Al- 
thorpe, " that I joined a small party of hunters the 
other morning, and was in at the death of the 
hare ; but I must confess that I think hare-hunt- 
ing a very dull exercise, and fit rather for a hunt- 
ress than a mighty hunter — rather for Diana 
than Orion. Had I the taste and vigor of Ac- 
tseon, without his indiscreet curiosity, my game 
would be the stag and the fox, and I should leave 
the hare in peace, without sending her to her 
many friends. This heresy of mine may arise 
from my fondness for every thing vast, and my 
disdain of every thing little ; and for the same 


reason, I should prefer the more violent sport of 
the Asiatics, who enclose a whole district with 
toils, and then attack the tigers and leopards with 
javelins, to the sound of trumpets and clarions." 

From suggestions made to him from various 
quarters, Mr. Jones supposed that he might re- 
ceive the appointment of judge in the East Indies, 
a post for which his legal as well as oriental learn- 
ing abundantly fitted him. This honor, however, 
which he earnestly desired, was not conferred till 
several years later. In the mean time, he pur- 
sued his profession with increasing success. 

In 1780, he was afflicted by the death of that 
mother who had devoted herself so entirely to his 
education, and had rejoiced so sincerely in his 
prosperity. Her love he repaid with equal affec- 
tion, and uniformly made her the confidant of his 
plans and hopes. During the same year, he made 
a memorandum of his proposed course of study, 
which, in addition to the Andrometer, before re- 
ferred to, will show how broad were his plans, 
and how thoroughly he meant to carry them out. 
The memorandum, in his own handwriting, was 
as follows : — " Resolved, to learn no more rudi- 
ments of any kind, but to perfect myself in, first, 
twelve languages, as the means of acquiring accu- 
rate knowledge of the 

I. History of 1. Man; 2. Nature. 
II. Arts. 1. Rhetoric; 2. Poetry; 3. Painting; 4.Masic. 
in. Sciences. l.Law; 2. Mathematics ; 3. Dialectic. 

The twelve languages are Greek, Latin, Italian, 
French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Arabic, 
Persian, Turkish, German, English. 1780." 

In March, 1783, the long-expected judgeship 
"was conferred uoon him. In expectation of it, 


he had rather avoided a great increase of busi- 
ness at home, and had begun to feel the injury 
which the delay caused him. He was appointed 
a judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature at 
Fort William, in Bengal, and at the same time 
received the honor of knighthood. Being ren- 
dered, by this appointment, independent in his 
pecuniary relations, he consummated another 
ardent wish, in marrying the daughter of the 
Bishop of St. Asaph. In April of the same year, 
he embarked for India, in the Crocodile frigate. 
He never looked upon England again. He was 
thirty-seven years of age, in the full vigor of 
health, and abounding in hopes of honorable ser- 
vices and attainments in India. 

During his voyage out, he prepared another of 
those memoranda which indicate so strongly the 
habit of his mind, his forecast, and unwillingness 
to leave the future employment of his time to the 
accidental allurements of the day. A scholar 
undoubtedly makes the least advancement when 
he studies without method .or plan. With a 
course marked out beforehand, and followed with 
perseverance, his attainments are enlarged and 
insured. The following is the memorandum re- 
ferred to : — 

Objects of Inqmry during my Residence in Asia. 

1. The Laws of the Hindus and Mahommedans. 

2. The History of the Ancient "World. 

3. Proofs and Illustrations of Scripture. 

4. Traditions concerning the Deluge, &c. 

5. Modern Politics and Geography of Hindustan. 

6. Best mode of governing Bengal. 

7. Arithmetic and Geometry, and Mixed Sciences of the 

8. Medicine, Chemistry, Surgery, and Anatomy of the 


9. Natural productions of India. 

10. Poetiy, Rhetoric, and Morality of Asia. 

11. Music of the Eastern Nations. 

12. Tlie Shi-King, or 300 Chinese Odes. 

13. The best accounts of Thibet and Cashmir. 

14. Trade, Manufacture, Agriculture, and Commerce of 

15. Mogul Constitution, contained in the Defteri, Alem- 
ghiri, and Agein Acbari. 

16. Mahratta Constitution. 

To print and publish the Gospel of St Luke in Arabic. 
To publish Law Tracts in Persian or Arabic. 
To print and publish the Psalms of David in Persian 

To compose, if God grant me life, 

1. Elements of the Laws of England. 

Model — The Essay on Bailment — Aristotle. 

2. The History of the American War. 

Model — Thucydides and Polybius. 

3. Britain Discovered, an Heroic Poem on the Consti- 
tution of England. Machinerj*. Hindu Gods. 

Model — Homer. 

4. Speeches, Political and Forensic. 

Model — Demosthenes. 

5. Dialogues, Philosophical and Historical. 

Model — Plato. 

6. Letters. 

Model — Demosthenes and Plato. 

12th July, 1783. Crocodile Frigate. 

In September, after a prosperous voyage, Sir 
William, as he was then called, landed at Cal- 
cutta, and in December of the same year entered 
upon his judicial duties. His reputation had pre- 
ceded him, nor were the public expectations dis- 
appointed by the first act of his public life, which 
was a charge to the grand jury at the opening of 
the sessions. As soon as his duties allowed him, 
he devised the plan of a society for carrying 
on researches lo which the efforts of individuals 
were inadequate, and for preserving valuable 


tracts and essays. The presidency of this insti- 
tution was first offered to Warren Hastings, then 
Governor- General of India; and, on his declining 
it, Sir William Jones was elected to the office. 
He immediately commenced the study of the 
Sanscrit, both that he might better fulfil his duties 
as president, and still more, that he might be able 
to judge more accurately and independently of 
the Hindu law. In order to fulfil his plans of 
study, he found that a strict economy of time was 
absolutely demanded. Perhaps it was about this 
time that he improved upon Sir Edward Coke's 
division of time : — 

" Six hours in sleep, in law's grave study six, 
Four spend in prayer — the rest on nature fix." 

"Rather" says Sir William, 

" Six hours to law, to soothing slumber seven, 
Ten to the world allot, and alt to heaven." 

While at Calcutta, he found that the attraction of 
his conversation drew about him so many friends, 
that, gratifying as it was, his studies were much 
retarded by it. He therefore chose a country res- 
idence at not a great distance from the city, where 
he might suffer less interruption, and enjoy better 
health. The duties of the court, however, called 
him back again to town. " How long my health 
will continue in this town," he writes to a friend, 
" with constant attendance in court every morn- 
ing, and the irksome business of justice of peace 
in the afternoon, I cannot foresee. If temperance 
and composure of mind will avail, I shall be well ; 
but I would rather be a valetudinarian all my 
hfe, than leave unexplored the Sanscrit mine 
■which I have just opened." " By rising before 


the sun," he says in another letter, " I allot an 
hour every day to Sanscrit, and am charmed with 
knowing so beautiful a sister of Latin and Greek." 
While residing on the banks of the Ganges, at 
the distance of five miles from the court, it was 
his custom to rise so early in the morning as to 
walk to his apartments in town by the dawn of 
day, returning again in the evening after sunset. 
" It rarely happens," he writes to a friend, " that 
favorite studies are closely connected with the 
strict discharge of our duty, as mine happily are : 
even in this cottage, I. am assisting the court, by 
studying the Arabic and Sanscrit, and have now 
rendered it an impossibility for the Mahommedan 
or Hindu lawyers to impose upon us with erro- 
neous opinions." 

A favorite project of his was to make a complete 
digest of Hindu and Mahommedafi laws, after the 
model of the pandects of Justinian. The impor- 
tance of this was evident from the fact that the 
Hindu and Mussulman laws were written, for the 
most part, in Sanscrit and Arabic ; and he says, 
"My experience justifies me in declaring, that I 
could not, with an easy conscience, concur in a de- 
cision, merely on the written opinion of native 
lawyers, in any cause in which they could have 
the remotest interest in misleading the court: nor, 
how vigilant soever we might be, would it be very 
difficult for them to mislead us ; for a single ob- 
scure text, explained by themselves, might be 
quoted as express authority ; though perhaps, in 
the very book from which it was selected, it might 
be differently explained, or introduced only for 
the purpose of being exploded." The work being 
beyond the resources of a private man, he, after 


some hesitation, applied to Lord CornwalHs, the 
Governor-General, for assistance from the State; 
or rather, setting forth the importance of the pro- 
ject, and offering his services, if they should be 
found to be of any value to the government. 
The offer was gladly accepted by that enlightened 
officer; and Sir William immediately entered upon 
the performance of the duty, by selecting from 
the learned natives those whom he thought best 
qualified for the task, and by tracing out the plan 
of the digest, and prescribing its arrangement. 

In the beginning of 1794, he published a trans- 
lation of the Ordinances of Menu, a work upon 
which he had long been engaged, and which he 
considered of great interest, as exhibiting the 
manners of a very ancient people, as well as their 
moral and religious system, to which they have 
adhered down to the present time. Sir William's 
health was generally very good ; he often speaks 
of himself as having conquered the climate ; and 
even the severe and protracted labors which con- 
fined him in the court for six or seven hours a 
day, and to his chambers four or five hours more, 
did not overcome his constitution. Lady Jones, 
however, suffered so much from constant debility, 
that he persuaded her, after much urging, to re- 
turn to England. He would himself have accom- 
panied her, having spent ten years in India, if he 
had not felt bound to remain and complete his vol- 
untarily-assumed task of the digest of Hindu laws. 

He little thought, when she, in obedience to his 
repeated request, sailed about the first of the year 
1794, that they were never to meet again. On 
the 20th of April, of the same year, having pro- 
longed his walk to a late hour, during which he 


had remained some time in conversation in an un 
■wholesome place, he complained of symptoms of 
the ague. The disease soon proved to be an in- 
flammation of the liver, and in seven days he 
breathed his last, aged forty-seven years. The 
translation of the digest of Hindu law he did not 
live to complete. It was afterwards accomplished 
by one of the officers of the East India Company. 
The tidings of his death were everywhere re- 
ceived with sorrow ; and the means taken, both in 
England and India, to testify respect for his mem- 
ory, were all that his friends could desire. His 
learning, as we have indicated, was vast. Al- 
though he turned his attention to languages with 
such distinguished success, yet he seemed to seize 
upon all knowledge with almost equal avidity. 
One of the last studies which he took up with 
interest was botany. He was accustomed to 
maintain that all were born with an equal ca- 
pacity for improvement ; and to a friend who 
asserted the contrary, and, in a few pleasant 
verses, supported his opinion by a reference to 
Sir William himself, he replied, almost im- 
promptu, modestly estimating his character in 
lines with which we may well close this sketch. 

" Ah ! but too well, dear friend, I know 
My fancy weak, my reason slow, 
My memory by art improved, 
My mind by baseless trifles moved. 
Give me (thus high my pride I raise) 
The ploughman's or the gardener's praise, 
With patient and unmeaning toil. 
To meliorate a stubborn soil ; 
And say (no higher meed I ask), 
With zeal hast thou performed thy task. 
Praise, of which virtuous minds may boast, 
They best confer who merit most" 


Among the distinguished patriots of the Amer- 
ican Revolution, the name of Patrick Henry will 
never be forgotten, and never be refused a com- 
manding eminence. He was in the maturity of 
his powers when the Declaration of Independence 
was made, and had a full share of influence in 
bringing about that momentous event. He was 
among the most impassioned and eifective of 
American orators, in a time fruitful of great men ; 
— he attained the highest office in the important 
State of Virginia ; — he held posts of extreme re- 
sponsibility connected with the government of the 
United States ; — and all this he effected through 
the almost unaided efforts of his own mind. 

Patrick Henry was the son of a Scotchman, 
a native of Aberdeen, who came to this country 
in the first part of the last century, and established 
himself in Virginia. He was one of nine children, 
born at Studley, in Hanover county. May 26, 
1736. Mrs. Henry, his mother, was a native of 
Virginia, and distinguished for many virtues. 
Patrick was early sent to school, and made some 
progress in the common branches of an English 
education. His father endeavored to teach him 
Latin and Greek, but his success was entirely 
disproportionate to his wishes. The boy was de- 
voted to play ; he loved the sports of the field 
above every thing else, and could not be confined 
to the discipline of the school. He chose, how- 
ever, to pursue his sports alone rather than in 


company, and would lie by the hour, under the 
shade of a tree, watching his line floating upon 
the quiet waters, the bait untouched by a single 
fish ; or when his party were chasing the deer, 
would station himself alone, so as to get a shot at 
the passing animal, without the ordinary tumult 
of the chase. This love of solitude, and his early 
habit of observing the character of those whom he 
was accustomed to meet, were the only traits 
which seemed to promise a future at all distin- 
guished. Nothing indicated what he was to be- 
come. " His person," says Mr. Wirt, " was rep- 
resented as having been coarse, his manners 
uncommonly awkward, his dress slovenly, his 
conversation very plain, his aversion to study in- 
vincible, and his faculties almost entirely benumbed 
by indolence. No pei'suasion could bring him 
either to read or to work." 

This picture is sufficiently dark ; and lest any 
one, in seeing afterwards the brilliant career of 
Mr. Henry, should be encouraged to early idle- 
ness, it should be borne in mind that this great 
man was not exempted from the stern law which 
affixes a penalty to every transgression. He was 
obliged to toil through years of early wretchedness 
and poverty ; and, with all his success, could never 
entirely in after life supply the intellectual wastes 
of his youth. 

At fifteen years of age, his father placed him 
with a merchant in the country, that he might 
begin to earn his own bread, and the next year 
established him in trade, in company with another 
son, William. They did not succeed. The only 
good that seemed to come from the trial wa?, that 
it gave Patrick a wider opportunity to study the 


more delicate shades of character in the persons 
of his customers. It is said that when a company 
of them were together in his shop, if they were 
talkative, the future orator would remain perfectly 
silent and listen ; but if dull, he would take upon 
himself to draw them out, would propose questions, 
suggest hypothetical cases, and relate stories, in 
order to observe the effects produced upon theii 
feelings, or their different methods in debate. 

In about a year the concern failed, and Patrick 
spent the next two or three ye