Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

of others, and compassionate towards the afflicted and unfortunate. But of the habitually and obstinately vicious and dissolute, he was wont to speak with much indignation and severity. It has been pretended, that he was unkind and unfeeling as a parent. Never was there a more unfounded charge. No one ever did more for the improvement and happiness of his family. His children were well educated, and every effort was made on his part, to make them useful and respectable in society. But he did not allow his fondness for them to countenance any extravagance which his pecuniary circumstances would not warrant, without being unjust to others. He was domestic in his habits; a kind and faithful husband; and his family circle was the scene of unrestrained freedom and enjoyment. He held the office of judge of the supreme judicial court, till 1804, when he had attained the age of seventy-three years. He was too infirm to go the circuits of these courts, which was a journey of several hundred miles. And his great deafness was also thought to be a disqualification for the office. He discharged, however, the important duties of this highly honourable office, for fourteen years, with great impartiality and fidelity. And he made use of his official authority and influence in favour of literary and religious institutions; which he considered essential to the support both of good morals and of rational freedom. He always urged upon the grand jurors the importance of seeing the laws duly executed, for the maintenance of schools, and of a learned ministry, in all the towns. He insisted that religious principles were a necessary foundation for uniform morality and virtue, and that the instructions of a learned clergy were requisite to preserve religion in the community. He was a decided friend to the constitution of the United States, which he supported both by his writings and converVol. I.-B b

sations. He employed his influence in favour of the administrations of Washington and Adams; and during the critical periods of 1794 and 1799, he advocated their measures of government, which he believed essential to the interests of his country, with great zeal, energy, and abilities. On resigning the office of judge, he was elected a counsellor of the commonwealth for 1804. Subsequently to this period, and even till his death, he retained his mental faculties in great vigour. He was intelligent, inquisitive, and judicious. His memory was remarkably lively and powerful; and he would relate, with much satisfaction, the scenes through which he passed, connected both with the dangers and prosperity of his country. In conversation with old or young, he was sprightly, communicative, and instructive. He was prone to indulge in repartee and wit; and while he allowed himself in playful severity towards others, he was not offended in being the subject of similar raillery. Judge Paine possessed much of the peculiar spirit of the early settlers of New England. He was a patron of all useful learning, and held a high rank among the literary men of our country. He was one of the founders of the American Academy, established in Massachusetts in 1780, and was a counsellor of that learned society till his death. He received also the honorary degree of doctor of laws from the university at Cambridge. He was a decided, firm believer in the christian revelation. He had studied its evidences, its spirit and its tendency, and was fully convinced of its divine origin. He received it as a system of moral truth and righteousness given by God for the instruction, reformation, consolation and happiness of man. If, however, it did not make us virtuous, benevolent and holy, he believed it would not eventually benefit us; but he laid little stress on speculative opinions, which have so often been, unhappily, the occasion of bitter and disreputable contentions among professors of christianity. Judge Paine died on the 11th of May, 1814, after having attained the age of 84 years. We will conclude this imperfect memoir, by an extract from a sermon, delivered on the occasion, by the Rev. Dr. M'Kean, before the society of which the Judge had long been a distinguished and respected member. “His intellectual, moral, and religious character, were strongly marked with sterling integrity. Uprightness eminently directed his usual course of domestic and social duty. Justice was the constant aim of his official service. Of regular and temperate habits, and cheerful temper, he was spared to a good old age. He enjoyed his faculties unimpaired to the last; retained his interest in his friends and country; its religious, civil, and literary institutions; rejoiced in its good, lamented its delusions; was impressed with its dangers, and prayed for its peace.”

[merged small][ocr errors]

ELBRIDGE GERRY, the fifth signer on the Declaration of Independence and also a delegate from the province of Massachusetts Bay, was born in the small town of Marblehead, in that colony, in the month of July, 1744. Of his family and early history, we have been able to obtain but few particulars, and indeed in recording the events of his life, important and interesting as they are, we have greatly to regret the difficulty of obtaining materials, beyond the common and temporary records which are open to the public inspection.

The father of Mr. Gerry is said to have been a respectable merchant of Marblehead, and to have acquired a considerable fortune by his commercial pursuits. His son was placed at Harvard University, where he passed through the usual col- legiate studies with much literary reputation and success; he there received the degree of bachelor of arts in the year 1762. After leaving college, he turned his attention to that line of life in which his father’s prosperity seemed to hold out the greatest inducements to a young and enterprising mind; and he plunged at once into the most active pursuits of commerce. His fairness, correctness and assiduity, and the extensive knowledge of commercial concerns which he acquired from his father’s experience and his own exertions, were crowned with good fortune, and while yet young in

« ПредишнаНапред »