Obrázky stránek

purpose of obtaining professional notoriety and business. This error has prevented many talented young men from rising to legal eminence in modern times. The Revolution was a different matter. Liberty or death was then the issue. Now it is a feigned one. If a young attorney becomes pledged to a political party he has not a client but a master that exacts the most abject, humiliating services with a contingent promise to pay in bogus coin. Either his legitimate business or that of the party must be neglected. Reflecting men know this. Aware that it requires close application to become learned in the law they keep aloof from young political lawyers. A few high toned partisans, whose tools they are, may employ them in small cases but when they have an important one-the studious industrious counsellor who has not inhaled the corrupting atmosphere of modern politics is the one employed. A word to the wise should be sufficient.

It was not until long after his location at Lancaster that Mr. Ross entered upon his legislative course. The time had arrived when the people began to feel the smart of British oppression and became more particular in selecting men of known worth and talents to guard their interests against the machinations of an avaricious and designing ministry. He was elected to the Colonial Assembly in 1768. His reputation stood high as an able lawyer and a man of liberal views, sound judgment and decision of character. His influence was sensibly felihis labors highly appreciated. At that time the legislative body replied to the message of the governor in extenso. At his first session Mr. Ross was appointed to reply to this document. In respectful but bold language he objected to every proposition that he considered impolitic or in opposition to the best interests of the people. He was a fearless sentinel, a powerful champion in the cause of Liberty. In every leading measure in favour of freedom he was a leading man. He was continued in the Assembly until he took his seat in Congress in 1774. He was upon the committee that reported in favor of sending delegates and the man who prepared the instructions of the Assembly to the congressional delegates. As these are substantially the same as those that were given to all instructed delegates I insert them that the reader may see that redress of grievances was all that was asked or then anticipated.

• The trust reposed in you is of such a nature and the modes of executing it may be so diversified in the course of your deliberations, that it is scarcely possible to give you particular instructions respecting it. We shall therefore only in general direct-that you are to meet in Congress the committees of the several British Colonies at such time and place as shall be generally agreed on, to consult together on the present critical and alarming situation and state of the Colonies and that you, with them, exert your utmost endeavors to form and adopt a plan which shall afford the best prospect of obtaining redress of American grievances, ascertaining American rights and establishing that union and harmony which is most essential to the welfare and happiness of both countries. And in doing this you are strictly charged to avoid everything indecent or disrespectful to the mother state.”

Under instructions like these the first general Congress convened and acted. The Colonies used all honorable means to restore harmonymore than the British Constitution and common justice required. Nothing but an infatuation that makes men blind, deaf and dumb could have resisted the appeals and unanswerable arguments in favor of chartered rights, showing their violations-that were poured upon the king, Parliament and people of Great Britain from the deep translucent fountain of intelligence concentrated in the Congress of 1774. The members were determined to clear their own skirts of blood and not draw the bow of physical opposition until their arrows were barbed with divine wisdom and dipped in the refining fire of eternal justice.

Mr. Ross was continued in Congress until 1777 when ill health compelled him to retire. He had rendered great service on numerous committees and was listened to with marked attention when he spoke in debate. When he could be spared from his place he served in the legislature of his State where his salutary influence was strongly felt. For some time the royal governor and his friends presented a formidable opposition. Mr. Ross put his whole weight on the people's end of the

political lever with his popularity for a fulcrum and greatly aided in hoisting the tree of monarchy from its deep bed of alluvial corruption. He was a member of the convention of his State that commenced the new government and on the committee that prepared the declaration of rights. He was chairman of the committee that organized the government and of the one that prepared the declaratory ordinance defining high treason and misprision of treason and the kind and measure of punishment to be inflicted. His high legal knowledge rendered him an important member upon such committees.

Immediately after he closed his legislative career the citizens of Lancaster County passed the two following resolutions with great unani mity.

Resolved–That the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds out of the county stock be forthwith transmitted to George Ross [* Honorable' was not then republican] one of the members of the Assembly for this county


and one of the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress and that he be requested to accept the same as a testimony from this county of their sense of his attendance on public business to his great private loss and of their approbation of his conduct.

“ Resolved–That if it be more agreeable, Mr. Ross purchase with par: of the said money a genteel piece of platé, ornamented as he thinks proper, to remain with him as a testimony of the esteem this county has for him by reason of his patriotic conduct in the great struggle for American Liberty.”

Here is old fashioned republican simplicity in language and sentiment flowing from its native fountain-gratitude strongly felt and plainly expressed. It forms a rebuking contrast with the fulsome, hypocritical, heartless flattery of modern times showered upon our statesmen by fawning sycophants whose gratitude is based alone upon the loaves and fishes of favor and office. Mr. Ross declined accepting the gist, assuring the committee that waited upon him that he had performed no more than his duty and that at such a period all were bound to exert their noblest energies to secure that Liberty which would afford a reward more precious than gold-more valuable than diamonds.

On the 19th of July 1779 Mr. Ross was appointed Judge of the Court of Admiralty for Pennsylvania. He continued to discharge his duties ably until confined by a sudden and excruciating attack of the gout which terminated in death the same year he was appointed judge. In the full career of life and usefulness-rising on the wings of fame-flushed with hopes of Liberty for his country-pressing right onward toward the goal of freedom-an arrow from the quiver of death pierced his patriotic heart and consigned him to the insatiate tomb near the close of 1779. His dust reposes in peace whilst the lustre of his living examples will continue to shine and enlighten millions yet unborn.

In private as in public life Judge Ross stood approved. admired and beloved. No blemish rests upon the fair escutcheon of his name. He soared above the vanities of this world and dignified his bright career with purity of motive, firmness of purpose, wisdom in action and usefulness to his fellow men and beloved country. Could the lofty patriotism that impelled him to enter the thorny arena of politics be imparted to all the public men of the present day-the Federal Constitution would be venerated-our government safe-our UNION preserved.


BENEVOLENCE is a celestial quality imparting consolation to its possessor and the recipient of benefits bestowed. It renders its favors valuable by the delicacy with which they are conveyed. Those who most merit the aid of the benevolent are usually possessed of fine feeling. The subjects of real misfortune-they are the keenly sensitive and dread the approach of those who carry a speaking trumpet or a public scroll to proclaim to the world the alms they have bestowed.

Pure benevolence falls upon its object like the dew on drooping flowersnot at the blaze of noon day but in the stillness of night. Its refreshing effects are felt, seen and admired-not the hand that distilled it. It flows from a good heart and looks beyond the skies for an approving smile. It never opens but seeks to heal the wounds of misfortune.

It never ruffles but seeks to calm the troubled mind. Like their Lord and Master-the truly benevolent go about doing good. No parade-no trumpet to sound their charities-no press to chronicle their acts. The gratitude of the donee is a rich recompense to the donor-purity of motive refines the joys of each. Angels smile on such benevolence. It is the attribute of Deity-the moving cause of every blessing we enjoy.

So thought Benjamin Rush, a native of Bristol, Bucks County, Penn. born on the 24th of Dec. 1745. His ancestors came to this country under the auspices of William Penn in 1683. His father was a respectable farmer and died when this son was a child. At the age of nine years Benjamin was placed under the tuition of his maternal uncle, Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley. He continued under his instruction five years when he entered Princeton College, then under the direction of Presi. dent Davis. Like an expanding flower courting the increasing warmth of spring the talents of this young freshman rapidly unfolded their rich and varied hues as they were brought into mellow life by the genial rays of the sun of science. At the end of the first year he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. During his brief stay at Princeton he was highly esteemed and was considered one of the most eloquent speakers among the students. At the age of sixteen he closed his collegiate studies and commenced reading medicine with Dr. John Redman, then one of the most eminent practitioners in the city of Philadelphia. The same industry that had marked his previous course made him a favorite son of Æsculapius. The same urbanity and modesty that had made him a welcome guest in every circle in other places, gained for him good and influential friends in his new location.

[ocr errors]

After pursuing his studies with great industry for six years under Dr. Redman he entered the Medical University at Edinburgh, Scot. land, where he reaped the full benefit of the lectures of the celebrated Munro, Cullen, Black and Gregory. In 1768 he received the degree of M.D. having toiled severely for seven years to prepare himself to take in charge human life. As in the study of law, theology and most of the professions and trades-how great the change in numerous instances. I have known so called doctors made in a month-lawyers in six months and preachers in a single night-sprouts of quackology to be sure-but they pass in these days of humbuggery and often distance the man of acquirements and real merit who is too modest to make a bragadocia dash. Self-assurance and brazen impudence are performing wonders in this enlightened age. As elementary and practical books increase terms of study decrease. When Cheselden's Anatomy and Cullen's Materia Medica stood almost alone in this country, students were longer at their studies. The lectures you may reply have shortened the term. True-but why so few Rushes, Physics, &c. among the flood of modern M.D.'s ?

On receiving his diploma he went to London and was admitted to practise in the hospitals of that city where he remained nearly a year and became eminent as a bold and successful operator-a skilful and judicious physician. He then visited the hospitals of Paris and returned to Philadelphia in the spring of 1769, where he met the warm embrace of his connections and friends and commenced his useful career in that city.

His professional fame had preceded him and his superior acquirements were immediately had in requisition. In addition to a rapidly increasing practice he performed the labors of a Professor in the Medical School that had been recently organized by Drs. Bond, Kuhn, Morgan and Shippen. He was elected to that important station a few months after his return. Upon a substantial basis he continued to build an honest and enduring fame-participating in all the passing events that concerned the good and glory of his country and his fellow men.

Although a close student of medicine and surgery, it was soon discovered that he well understood the relative situation of the mother country and the American Colonies. He had closely examined the unwarranted pretensions of the former and the aggravated grievances of the latter. His benevolent soul was touched by the sufferings of oppressed humanity and warmed by the patriotic fire of FREEDOM. He at once became a bold and able advocate in the cause of LIBERTY-a firm and fearless opposer of British tyranny-a strong and energetic sud

« PředchozíPokračovat »