« ПредишнаНапред »
Although the design was not carried into execution, it contains a just outline of the character and services of the pa triot, and may be resorted to bereafter, when the busts and statues of our political fathers shall be placed in those magnificent buildings with which our cities may be adorned.
Carus, quod speramus, Deo;
Carus patriæ, propinquis, amicis,
Iloc sub marmore requiescit
Civis optimus, Vir egregius;
deflendus. Vix juvenis, inter viros præclaros, quibus salus reipublicæ nostræ nascentis commissa fuit, ascriptus, sæviente bello memorabili cum rege populoque Britannico, non minùs ille eloquentiâ quàm alii armis, se strenuum libertatis defensorem præbuit; et post bellum feliciter gestum, libertatemque maximâ cum gloriâ vindicatam, in urbem suam redux, nullum boni civis officium non suscepit, aut susceptum, non ornavit. Nec in rebus publicis versatus, privatis non vacavit, aut conciliandse amicitiæ occasionem datam non avide amplexus est : ut cùm nù per ob tot tantasque virtutes, consentiente omnium voce, dignus visus est qui civitati, periculis undique obsite præesset, incertum sit utrum plausu publico, an privatâ lætitià, magis excipiretur.
Si non ita evitare potuit, sereno tamcn vultu, animoque constanti mortem aspicere, didicerat; adeògue cùm dies videre ultimus non terruit, ut primus æternæ felicitatis videretur.
Quem Deus amavit, suo tempore ad se recepit : restat tamen, semperque restabit talium virtutum memoria, et tam dilecti capitis desiderium.
Abi, lector, hujusce erga Deum pietatis, erga homines benevolentiæ, æmulus. Sic ille, etsi mortuus, adhuc vivet; sic tu, quem amisisti adhuc servabis ; sic nomen Dei ab utroque laudibus efferetur.
Marmor quod spectas,
Diu et sine invidiâ floruit.
That Edward Rutledge possessed eminent virtues, both as a public and private character, though they have been very imperfectly exhibited to view in this short account of his life, is admitted by all who had any knowledge of him. Our acquaintance with mankind would lead us to expect that these were attended by the usual spirit of detraction, more espocially as he had none of those negative qualities which furnish the strongest shield against malignity. We do not recollect, however, that any defects of consequence, for he possessed no vices, were ever supposed to tarnish his fair fame. Envy and dulness, perhaps, accused hiin in early life of vanity; but if by this be meant a disposition to excite tho admiration and applause of our fellow men, or to make some display of the powers of mind we are conscious of possessing, it is dificult to say who, that is thus conscious of superiority, unless his vanity be absorbed by his pride, is exempt from the imputation; hence the charge does not merit a refutation. Where, indeed, it lieg so much on the surface as constantly to obtrude itself to notice, or appear in everlasting and disgusting cgotism, it, no doubt, is a deplorable failing, invariably exciting ridicule and contempt. But it would be the grossest libel on Mr. Rutledge, to suppose him in the slightest degree obnoxious to such consequences. Though possessing not the least austerity of manners, no one approached him with levity or disrespect; and though he took great delight in descanting upon revolutionary occurrences, in which he had acted a principal part, and to which he was invited by the pleasure always conferred upon others, his anecdotes were devoid of ostentation, and bore a much nearer relation to the conduct and services of his associates, than to his own. Without arrogance or envy, and confiding with justice in his own sound judgment, he was a patient, candid, and polite listener to the arguments of others.
There is one portion of his character which might readily be misconceived, and ought therefore to be explained. When it is stated that he possessed the most affable and winning manners, procuring him a popularity which survived even the ordeal of jarring politics, we are apt to figure to ourselves a man of smiles and bows, inclining to be all things to all men; but this would be forming a very erroneous opinion of Mr. Rutledge: for so far from having obsequious or courtier-like manners, his deportment, although, as we have already said, perfectly free from austerity, was composed, serious, and dignified; his heart was so well expressed in his fine countenance, that the dullest physiognomist could scarcely mistake the delineation of its feelings, and a stranger in distress might have singled him from a crowd, as the man most likely to bestow sympathy and relief. The truth is, his prepossessing manners, though somewhat refined by education and society, having their foundation in an amiable temper and a benevolent disposition, cost him no trouble to acquire or assume, and were very distinguishable from those superficial graces, (if graces they can be called,) which bear the stamp of frivolity and insincerity, and are rather injurious than beneficial to their possessor; and as to his being of that description of politicians who preserve their popularity by observing the course of events and joining the majority, who pretend to lead when they are led, and affect to take the helm when they are only floating down the stream, he was too ardent and impetuous to make such cold and selfish calculations; he was, on the contrary, always forward in expressing his opinions, sometimes hasty, perhaps, in forming them, but whatever they were, he strove hard to procure their adoption, to direct the measures which his judgment approved, and as it ought to be with every statesman conscious of the correctness of his views and principles, he was readier to give than to receive the impulse.
At the bar, his entire conduct was a model for imitation. Despising all low and illiberal practice, he was by no means backward in showing his indignation whenever it was displayed: to the junior members, he was ever prompt to extend his friendship and patronage; to the judges, he was polite and respectful; and to witnesses, he was considerate and candid, never attempting to puzzle or embarrass them, except there were strong signs of falsehood or corruption.
With all these qualities, he was lively and facetious, fond of bantering his associates, but never indulging in those coarse jests which encourage indecent familiarities, or that sarcastic wit which provokes mirth at the expense of friend
ship. In short, the various and many good traits of his character, scemed to be little, if at all, blended with their kindred or bordering defects. Ile was, it is true, a man of a very sanguine nature, which, united to his warmth of feeling, occasioned him to excite expectations which he could not, in every instance, realize. But such must ever be tho casc in persons of bis cast of mind, where their power to serve bears no proportion to their benevolence, where the one has limits, the other nonc. Jie was perfectly sincere, and although his decds of kindness fell far short of his wishes and intentions, they were great in number, were widely extended, and by many are still spoken of with affection and gratitude.
As an orator, Mr. Rutletige was certainly very eminent, but not without faults, which we shall frcely state. In the first place, his manner was rather studied, the rise and fall in his voice too regular, and though this, in a great measure disappeared as he became engrossed with the subject, and Jost sight of the orator, yet it was very different from the natural, unstudied manner of his elder brother, (John Rutledge,) whose delivery was on that account preferred by the judicious. Secondly, be indulged too extensively in metaphorical language, and his figures were occasionally inaccurate and unclassical. But thus it must always be with all ready orators, who have a propensity to this kind of language. If a lively fancy and a severe judgment be not incompatible, the one can assuredly never keep pace with the other: images and points of similarity present theinselves in a flash; the sober criticism which detects incongruities, examines, arranges, or rejects, must necessarily be a comparatively slow process. A writer, or a framer of set speeches, can look back and reconsider, and if he cannot model his figures by