Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

features were fine, and his countenance expressive of firmness and decision. His death was accounted a public loss; and deprived several of the first characters of South Carolina of a friend, to whom they were attached with enthusiastic ar, dour, and of whom some of them could not speak for many years, without visible marks of emotion. To use the language of a writer of the times, he possessed “the plainest manners with the most refined taste: great reading and knowledge of the world, concealed under the reserve of the mildest and most modest nature; a complete philanthropist, but the firmest patriot; cool, steady, and unmoved, at the general wreck of property and fortune, as far as he was personally concerned, but with a heart melting for the sufferings and woes of others; a model of private worth and public virtue ; a good citizen, a good father, and an exemplary husband ; accomplished in letters, in the sciences, and fine arts; well acquainted with the manners of the courts of Europe, whence he has transplanted to his country nothing but their embellishments and virtues."

Mr. Middleton left a wife and family consisting of two sons and six daughters. Mrs. Middleton closed, in 1814, a long and valuable life, during which, she maintained that standing in the community to which her large fortune, her elegant manners, and her liberal heart so amply entitled her. His eldest son, Henry Middleton, after having served for some years in the assembly of South Carolina, was elected governor of that state in 1811. He discharged the duties of the office with great energy, including one year of the war, when it became necessary to adopt measures for the defence of the sea-coast. He was subsequently elected to represent the district of Charleston in the congress of the United States, in which situation he continued until 1820, when he was ap

pointed minister plenipotentiary to the court of St. Petersburg. He is known to be a gentleman of good taste, and of uncommon literary acquirements; a firm supporter of republican principles, and one of whom it is not too much to say, that he adorns the station which he fills.

His second son, John Izard Middleton, devotes his time to the cultivation of the fine arts, and his taste and refinement render him a conspicuous member of polished society.

Vol. V.-I i

BUTTON GWINNETT.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence on behalf of the state of Georgia, were three, BUTTON GWINNETT, Lyman Hall, and GEORGE WALTON.

THE fate of Button Gwinnett affords a melancholy example of the pernicious consequences resulting from the practice of duelling. This practice, unknown to the heroes and statesmen of antiquity, which originated in the barbarous ages, still holds its dominion over the minds of men, and affords a striking example of the triumph of fashion over reason, morality, religion, and the penal code. That it is our duty to reprobate and discountenance the custom, which exists among us to an extent, perhaps, greater than in any other country of the civilized world, no reflecting mind can doubt: nor ought the high station and character of an individual to exempt him from censure, when that station and character render his example more extensively injurious. It cannot be supposed to be our wish to sully the memory of Button Gwinnett; his name will ever stand conspicuous in the annals of his country; but being compelled, as faithful biographers, to relate the circumstances which led to his untimely death, we deem it a duty of equal importance to express our opinion of the means by which it was occasioned. In the lapse of half a century, many of the circumstances connected with this unhappy affair may have been forgotten, and some of them, with which we are acquainted, may justly be advanced in extenuation of an act which nothing can justify.

Button GWINNETT was born in England about the year 1732, of respectable parents, whose circumstances were moderate. He received an excellent education, and when arrived at mature age, embarked in mercantile pursuits in Bristol. Havng married in England, he resolved to emigrate to America, and in 1770, arrived at Charleston, S. C., where he remained two years, during which time be was engaged in trade. At the expiration of that period, he disposed of all his merchandise, and purchased with the proceeds a number of negroes, and a tract of land on St. Catharine's Island, in Georgia, where he devoted his attention to agriculture.

Having incorporated himself with the Americans, among whom he intended to pass the remainder of his life, he did not remain an idle spectator of their revolutionary struggles, but took an active and decided part in favour of his adopted country. The particulars of his early life are not known, but it is probable they were neither interesting nor important.

The anticipations of Mr. Gwinnett, when the light of liberty dawned upon the land, were far from being sanguine ; but these doubts were not the result of a latent regard for his native country, nor of that indecision which then characterised the conduct of a large portion of the inhabitants of Georgia. The improbability of a successful resistance to the claims of the British government, appears to have been his prevailing belief until the year 1775, about which period he

« ПредишнаНапред »