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into matters of abstruse speculation. His virtues were a model for imitation, and while memory does her office, will be held in grateful recollection. His character as a christian, a father, a husband, and a friend, was bright and unblemshed : and if he had any of those failings which are inseparable from humanity, they have long since been forgotten. His vigorous mind seemed to seize boldly upon the leading points of the subject which it proposed to investigate, and never to relax its grasp until it had arrived, almost uniformly, to a correct conclusion. He enjoyed diversified and almost unlimited information, from the habit of reading which he maintained during the whole course of his life. He was a philosopher in the strictest sense; but, although he possessed a mind able and prone to engage in metaphysical inquiries, and capable of the deepest research, he did not wholly devote himself to abstract speculations. His powerful genius was formed to grasp “heaven, earth, and ocean, and plunder them of their sweets,” to pass “from grave to gay, from lively to serene,” and still excite undiminished and lasting admiration. In every situation of life in which he was placed, and in every act which he thought it proper to perform, the mens divina was conspicuous; and that talismanic attribute of the human soul was transcendent. When the blossoms of honour and of old age were thick upon him, he was in the constant practice of reading such works of fancy as possessed any merit, or tended rationally to amuse the mind, and improve the morals. Light reading, in his moments of recreation, accorded better with the certain, however imperceptible, mental decay, which the octogenarian must inevitably experience, and those delightful creatures of the imagination served, for a season, by enticing his attention, to invigorate an enfeebled frame, which unrelieved studies upon abstruse topics would have prostrated. He wrote, however, political essays for the public papers after he was eighty years of age, and about the same period prepared for the press a metaphysical work, which was never published. It is comprised in seventy-three manuscript pages in quarto, and possesses the following singular title: . “PARApise Lost; or the origin of the Evil, called Sin, examined; or how it ever did or ever can come to pass, that a creature should or could do any thing, unfit or improper for that creature to do; or how it ever did or ever can come to pass, that a creature should or could omit, or leave undone, what that creature ought to have done, or was fit and proper for that creature to do; or how it ever was, or can be possible for a creature to displease the Creatorin Thought, Word, or Action.” This abstruse production exhibits, in a strong light, the wonderful powers of mind possessed by Dr. Thornton, which, triumphant over time, enabled him, at a period of life attained by few members of the human family, to wrestle with a subject which particularly demands a large portion of mental vigour. The practice of no profession affords a wider field for the exercises of the inquisitive mind in the developement of the human character, than that of physic. The medical practitioner habitually sees man as he is, divested of the factitious aids which attend his intercourse with society ;-depressed by disease, his mind assumes its natural tone, whether it be one of dignity or degradation. He recognizes the stern leader of armies in the plaintive and murmuring invalid, and the gifted politician in the testy and terrified valetudinarian. Beneath a sickly and enfeebled frame, he finds a soul inflexible in strength, and under the soft form of suffering woman, an energy of mind which would exalt the character of the hero. Hence Dr. Thornton, profiting by his professional advantages, as well as those commonly afforded by worldly intercourse, obtained an accurate and extensive knowledge of human nature. On the great question which was decided in favour of our national independence, he was invariably steadfast, and at all times evinced his readiness to support with his property and life, the declaration to which he had publicly subscribed. His political character may be best estimated by the fact, that he enjoyed the confidence, and was the unshaken disciple, of Washington. In relation to the religious sentiments and opinions of Dr. Thornton, it is not ascertained that he ranked himself among any of the established sects of christians. It is, however, certain, that no man was more deeply impressed with a belief in the existence and bounties of an over-ruling Providence, which he strongly manifested by a practical application of the best and wisest injunctions of the christian religion : a believer in the divine mission of our Saviour, he implicitly followed the great principles of his doctrine, so far as human frailty would permit. Exemplary for his regard to the public institutions of religion, and for his constancy in attending public worship, he trod the courts of the house of God with steps tottering with age and infirmity. . When he had passed the eightieth year of his age, he was attacked with the hooping-cough, which proved extremely distressing. But, notwithstanding the violence of the spasms, which nearly deprived his feeble frame of breath and pulsation, he continued his practice of visiting, and fully retained his natural pleasantry and humour. For many years previous to his death, a slight affection of the palsy had impaired his voice, which rendered it difficult for him, at certain seasons, to express himself intelligibly : but even this infirmity, in such a man as Dr. Thornton, served to enhance the veneration in which he was held. The solemn enunciation of his voice attracted fresh attention, and increased that respect and awe which old age is wont to inspire. He died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while on a visit to his daughters, on the twenty-fourth day of June, 1803, in the eighty-ninth year of his age : his remains were conveyed to New Hampshire, and interred on the succeeding sabbath, within a short distance of Thornton’s ferry, on the Merrimack river. His surviving children consisted of two sons and two daughters. James Thornton, his eldest son, was a representative from Merrimack to the general court, during several years, and died in July, 1817, aged fifty-three years. Matthew Thornton was graduated at Dartmouth college, in 1787; was admitted to the practice of the law; and died at Merrimack on the fifth of December, 1804, in the thirty-third year of his age; his surviving daughters are Mrs. Betton, widow of the late Silas Betton of Salem, in New Hampshire, and Mrs. M*Gaw, of Bedford. Dr. Thornton was a man of large stature, exceeding six feet in height, and his form was symmetrically proportioned:
his complexion was dark, and his eye black and penetrating.
His countenance was invincibly grave, like that of Cassius, who read much, and never smiled; and this trait is the more remarkable, as he was distinguished for his good humoured hilarity. In his deportment, he was dignified and commanding, without austerity or hauteur. *
The grave of this eminent man iscovered by a white marble slab, upon which are inscribed his name and age, with the brief but noble epitaph—“AN HONEST MAN.”
At the time of the Declaration of Independence, the province of Rhode Island and Providence plantations was represented in the general congress by two delegates, STEPHEN HoPKINs and WILLIAM ELLERY.
Although the smallest of the British colonies in point of territorial limits, this province, as it was termed before the revolution, maintained that character which it still holds, of being among the first in energy, resources and lofty spirit. It was founded amid hardship and suffering, to secure religious and political freedom; and during its history, at no period has it been found wanting in every effort to preserve and to extend it. The claim of being the first to establish a system of religious toleration, has been made on behalf both of Penn and lord Baltimore ; and we all look back with delight to the primitive records of our country, which present to us the pure ecclesiastical systems, which were founded by the amiable and accomplished nobleman, and the sagacious and benevolent quaker. Their conduct has been rewarded by the applause of every age, by the grateful recollection of their countrymen, and by what to them would have been a return still more delightful, the secure happiness of those over whose ancestors their cares were extended. Yet, it may be remembered without derogating from their virtues or destroying the benefit of their example, that the
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