Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

stringent measures was on the 28th of May 1776 at which time the Chaplain of the Maryland Assembly was directed not to pray for the King. As trifling as this may now appear it then had a favorable and potent influence upon the people. When the glorious day arrived to decide the fate of the Chart of Liberty Mr. Paca was at his post and enrolled his name with the apostles of FREEDOM whose fame will continue to rise in peerless majesty until the last trump of time shall sound its closing notes and assemble the world of mankind in orie grand army for the final inspection of the great Jehovah.

In 1778 Mr. Paca retired from Congress and was appointed Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Maryland. In 1780 his duties were increased by his appointment to preside over the Prize and Admiralty Court. He stood approved as an able statesman-he was an ornament to the judiciary. The acumen of his mind and legal acquirements made him a strong judge-his honesty and impartiality made a popular one. In 1782 he was elected governor and discharged the duties of the office with great usefulness. He was a devoted friend to religion and education and did much to render them prosperous. He inculcated principles of economy and morals and held a parental supervision over every department of state that came within the pale of his executory or advisory jurisdiction. His wise and judicious administration rendered malice powerless, paralyzed slander and left no loop for jealousy to hang upon.

At the end of his term he retired to private life which he enjoyed until 1786 when he was again called to direct the destinies of his native state. In 1789 President Washington appointed him Judge of the U.S. District Court of Maryland which office he ably filled up to 1799 when he was summoned to appear at the Bar of God to render an account of his stewardship. He cheerfully obeyed the summons, launched his immortal spirit on the ocean of eternity and disappeared from earth. He had lived the life of the righteous-his last end was like his.

Mr. Paca was a man of polished manners, plain and dignified in his deportment with an intelligent and benignant countenance. His course in life demonstrated clearly that moderation and mildness joined with discretion and firmness govern more potently than authoritative dictation. His memory is revered-let his examples be imitated.

ROBERT TREAT PAINE

VIRTUE affords the only sure foundation of a peaceful and happy government. When the wicked rule corruption accumulates. Not that rulers must be members of some visible church-but they should venerate religion and be men of pure morals and political honesty. Disease affects the body politic and produces dissolution with the same fearful certainty that it destroys the physical powers of man. If the head is disordered the whole heart is sick. If the political fountain becomes polluted its dark and murky waters will rapidly impregnate every branch of the body politic with their contagious miasma. The history of all time proves the truth of this proposition. The passing events of the present exciting era are fruitful with demonstrations of the baneful effects of intrigue, peculation, political fanaticism and disunion.

Without virtue our UNION will become a mere rope of sand-a spoil for knaves and the sport of kings. Self-government will be an unsolved enigma, rational liberty a paradox, a republic the scoff of monarchs. With Argus eyes the crowned heads of Europe are watching our career and embracing every opportunity to weaken our government. Each year of our prosperous existence endangers their power. The Elysian story of our liberty is enrapturing their subjects and preparing them for freedom. The tenure by which they hold their thrones is becoming weaker as time rolls onward. If we are true to ourselves, if virtue predominates-if patriotism, discretion and an enlightened honest policy guide our rulers-the American Republic will increase in beauty, strength and grandeur and become the nucleus of Liberty for the world. Freemen! look to this matter in time and nobly perform your whole duty. Obey the precepts and imitate the examples of the Sages and Heroes who wisely conceived and boldly achieved the Independence we now enjoy. They were virtuous, many of them devotedly pious-all of them politically honest.

Holding a conspicuous place among them was Robert Treat Paine, born at Boston, Mass. in 1731. He was blessed with truly pious parents. His father performed the duties of a clergyman until his health compelled him to leave the sacred desk. He then commenced the mercantile business. The mother of Robert was the daughter of the Rev. Robert Treat, an eminent divine of Eastham. From these religious parents he imbibed those virtuous principles that guided his course through life. Were there no other blessings flowing from Christianity than its salutary influence upon social order and harmony of society, mankind would be richly paid for obeying its precepts. This consideration alone should close the mouth of every infidel let the conclusions of his mind be what they may with reference to its origin and reality. No other system has ever been devised that confers as much happiness upon the greatest number.

At an early age Robert Treat was placed in the classical school of Mr. Lovell in Boston where his embryo talents expanded into a rich and luxuriant growth. At the age of fourteen he entered Harvard College. When he graduated his parents had become so reduced in circumstances as to need pecuniary aid. To provide ways and means he at once commenced teaching a public school-an occupation of more importance and dignity than is generally awarded to it. When Greece and Rome flourished-teaching took the front rank in professions. For a single course in rhetoric, one hundred Athenean scholars paid Isocrates fourteen thousand eight hundred dollars. It is not surprising that the highest order of talent was employed to advance literature in Greece. The same liberality would effect wonders in our country.

From the avails of his school Mr. Paine supported his parents and a maiden sister in poor health and at the same time pursued his professional studies. He commenced theology but subsequently read and entered upon a successful practice of law. For a time he continued at the Boston Bar but ultimately settled at Taunton where he acquired a substantial reputation as an active, sound and discreet lawyer. He enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his numerous acquaintances and became celebrated as an advocate. He was among the first to oppose the innovations of the crown and promulge liberal principles. He was a member of the Convention called by the citizens of Boston in 1768 to devise measures for the preservation of their sacred rights and which Governor Bernard vainly attempted to disperse before the members had completed their deliberations. At the instance of Samuel Adams he was employed to conduct the prosecution against Capt. Preston for ordering his men to fire upon the people of Boston on the 5th of March 1770. Upon that trial he exhibited great zeal and ability. During the accumulation of the revolutionary storm he was uniformly in the conventions and upon the important committees of the people. Many of the boldest resolutions that were adopted came from his pen.

In 1773 he was elected to the Assembly of his Province and was one of the members who conducted the impeachment of Peter Oliver, then Chief Justice, who was accused of acting under the dictation of the king instead of the Assembly. In the prosecution of that trial Mr. Paine manifested strong talent and great professional skill. In 1774 he was again returned to the Assembly and boldly warned the people against the dangers to be apprehended from the appointment of Gov. Gage to succeed Gov. Hutchinson. It was plain to his mind that the nefarious designs of the British ministry were to be enforced by the bayonet unless the people tamely submitted to slavery. An awful crisis was approach. ing. A larger committee than at any previous time convened at Boston, which proposed and urged the plan of a General Congress to be convened at Philadelphia. Gov. Gage sent an order for them to disperse but his orderly was refused admittance. Five delegates were appointed to meet the General Congress of whom Mr. Paine was one.

This measure was originated in Massachusetts in 1765 and was strongly urged in a circular in 1768. The set time to favor Liberty had now come. The galling yoke had become painful-most of the colonies approved the plan. By the originators of this proposition a separation from England was not contemplated-a restoration of chartered rights was all that was asked and this in the most loyal and respectful language. With this object in view the Congress convened. When the delegates compared notes they were astonished at the wide spread system of abuses that was on the flood tide of advancement throughout the Colonies. Each had supposed his own constituents most oppressed. Indignation increased but wisdom and deliberation stamped every transaction with a manly dignity. The proceedings were calm as a summer morning but firm as the rock of ages. The delegates appealed to the king, to Parliament, to the British nation, to the American people-to a gazing world for the justice of their claims-the equity of their demands. But appeals were vain, cries useless, remonstrances unheeded. They were answered by legions of hireling troops in all the panoply of war with the shrill bugle grating harshly upon the ear. They saw the glittering steel of the foe dazzling in the sun beams. Open resistance or servile submission were the alternatives.

Mr. Paine was a member of the Provincial Congress convened in Concord, Mass. in October 1774. He superintended the preparation of a spirited address to the people of England which put many in the mother country right and did much to rouse the Colonists to a just indignation towards the overbearing ministry. In 1775 he was a member of the Continental Congress and was placed upon many important committees. He was chairman of the committee on the manufacture of arms and for furnishing the army. He was indefatigable in his labors in the glorious cause of Liberty. He often said," I fear we shall become slaves because

we are not industrious enough to be free.” Mr. Paine was one of the committee to prepare a constitution for his native state and had the credit of framing that instrument. In 1776 he was a member of the Continental Congress. He was on the committee with Messrs. Jefferson and Rutledge who prepared the rules that governed the action of that body. He was one of the committee to inquire into the causes of the disasters of the campaign in Canada. When the glorious 4th of July 1776 dawned upon Columbia's sons like smiling Heaven and the Eagle of Liberty soared in peerless majesty over their blood-stained soil-Mr. Paine was at his post. With a buoyant heart and firm hand he wrote his name upon that matchless instrument which is the consolation of freemen-the consternation of tyrants.

He did much to rouse his friends to action by his letters written in the most happy style. In his native State he stood high in the temple of fame-in Congress he was esteemed by all its members. He was continued in that body for several years and when he could be spared served in the legislature of his State. In 1777 he was speaker of the House of Representatives. The same year he was appointed attorneygeneral by the unanimous vote of both branches of the legislature. He was a prominent member of the committee that formed the Act reducing the price of labor and goods to a standard of equality. In 1779 he was elected to the Executive Council. The numerous duties imposed upon him he discharged to the satisfaction of his constituents. He was continued in the office of attorney-general until 1790. He then declined in order to pursue some more lucrative business to provide for the increasing wants of a large and destitute family. He had expended all his earnings in the cause of freedom but a scanty support. He was then appointed a judge of the Superior Court. He continued on the bench until 1804 when ill health compelled him to resign. He discharged his judicial duties with justice and ability and did much to advance the interests of religion, social order and a sound state of society. On his resignation he was appointed a counsellor of the commonwealth and continued to impart his salutary advice and shed around him a benign influence until the king of terrors closed his useful career on the 11th of May 1814. Calm and resigned he slept in death. He entered Jordan's flood with a full assurance of being hailed with the joyful sentence-" Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.” If the bright examples here presented fail 10 benefit the reader his virtue and patriotism are paralyzed.

In the life of Judge Paine we have a picture which the Christian, patriot, jurist and statesmen may contemplate with delightful pleasure

« PředchozíPokračovat »