Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

always taught in the high schools and seldom hinted at-much less expounded in modern books. Without this the classic scholar is afloat without a rudder. This is the kind that best answers the definition of the adage-Knowledge is power. In the great store-house of literature the quantity of fancy goods has, for some time past, far exceeded the coarser sind fit for everyday use. Whether this is an advantage to the inteliect of man calculated to increase its strength and volume-oi like luxurious diet, enervate and weaken, is a problem worthy the solu. tion of every reader. Certain it is our hardy ancestors were not mentally or physically pampered with knick-knacks that now supplant much solid matter. Certain it is that many of the patriots of the Revolution were self-made practical men and shone as conspicuously in the galaxy of sages as those whose early literary advantages were greaterconclusive evidence that there is a shorter path to truth.

Among them William Whipple Jr. was conspicuous. He was the eldest son of William Whipple-born at Kittery, Maine, in 1730. At a common English school he was taught reading, writing, arithmetic and navigation. These he mastered at an early age and was then entered a cabin boy on board a merchant vessel in accordance with his father's wishes and his own inclination. Before he reached his majority he became captain of a vessel and made several successful voyages to Europe. Some ignoramuses have vainly attempted to stigmatize his fair reputation at that era in his life because he participated in the inhuman slave-trade. If they will learn the true state of feeling at that time upon this subject their anathemas will evaporate in thin air. The trade was then sanctioned by Great Britain under whose government Capt. Whipple acted and according to her laws-The King can do no wrong. The correctness of the trade was not then doubted but by a few philanthropists and its first cousin, the Apprentice System, is still a favorite project with England. Time and reflection caused Captain Whipple to see the impropriety of the traffic and entirely abandon it at an early day. He also manumitted the only slave he owned who would not leave him during the war and fought bravely for the liberty of our country. If every man is to be condemned for the licensed or unlicensed errors of youth whose riper years are crowned with virtue, the list of fame will require many bold erasures and would be robbed of some of its proudest names. He who would do it must belong to the big crowd ignorant of human nature.

In 1759 Capt. Whipple relinquished his oceanic pursuits and commenced the mercantile business in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He also added the swivel link to his chain of earthly happiness by marrying Catharine Moffat. Every farmer, sailor and blacksmith knows the importance of this link in the common chain. The wise Creator designed it in the chain of life and no man should be without it. If of the right metal, it will save him from many a dangerous twist and often from a break. A word to the wise should be sufficient.

During his numerous voyages Capt. Whipple had treasured up a large fund of useful knowledge. He was a close observer of men and thingsan analyzing reader and mingled with the best and most intelligent men when in port. In England he had listened to the unwarranted preten. sions of ministers-in America-to the increasing complaints of the Colonists. He was familiar with the chartered rights of his own country and with the tyranny of the infatuated step-mother. He was prepared for action and took a bold stand in favor of freedom. He took a conspicuous part in public meetings and became one of the Committee of Safety. He rose rapidly in public esteem-the former cabin boy became a leading patriot.

In January 1775 he represented Portsmouth in the Provincial Congress at Exeter convened for the purpose of choosing delegates to the Continental Congress. On the 6th of the next January he was made a member of the Provincial Council of New Hampshire. On the 23d of the same month he was elected a member of Congress then in session at Philadelphia and continued actively and usefully engaged in that important station until the middle of September 1779. He was present at the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and affixed his name to that bold instrument with the same fearless nonchalance as if signing a bill of lading. He was emphatically a working man and rendered himself extremely useful on committees. As a member of marine and commercial boards, his practical knowledge gave him an advantage over his colleagues. He was one of the superintendents of the commissary and quarter masters' department and did much towards correcting abuses and checking peculation. He was untiring in industry, ardent in zeal, philosophic in views, pure in purposes and strong in patriotism. When he retired from Congress to serve his country in a more perilous sphere, he had the esteem and approbation of his co-workers in the glorious cause of LIBERTY.

In 1777 he became Brigadier General Whipple and took command of the first brigade of the Provincial troops of New Hampshire acting in concert with Gen. Stark who commanded the other. Gen. Burgoyne was on the flood tide of military glory-rushing down upon the north like a herd of wild buffaloes over a prairie-spreading consternation far and ivide. He was first checked in his triumphant career by Gen. Stark at

a

Bennington, Vermont. Gen. Whipple joined Gen. Gates about the same time and was in the bloody battles of Saratoga and Stillwater where the paim of victory was measurably attributed to the troops under his command. To the consummation of the brilliant victory over the British army Gen. Whipple contributed largely. Col. Wilkinson and himself were the officers who arranged and signed the articles of capitulation between the two commanders. He was one of the officers who conducted the conquered foe to Winter Hill near Boston. His faithful negro participated in all the perils of his old massa and could not have been more elated with the victory had he been the.commanding general.

In 1778 Gen. Whipple was with Gen. Sullivan at the siege of New Port which was abandoned for want of the aid of Count D'Estaing whose fleet was injured by a gale. A safe retreat was eflected in the night. In 1780 Gen. Whipple was appointed a Commissioner of the Board of Admiralty which he declined, preferring to serve in the legislature of his own state in which he continued for years. In 1782 he was appointed Financial Receiver for New Hampshire by Robert Morris. The office was arduous, unpopular and irksome but in his hands lost much of its odiousness. At the end of two years he resigned. On the 20th of June 1782 he was appointed a judge of the Superior Court. On the 25th Dec. 1784 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Quorum throughout the state which latter office he held to the day of his death. He was one of the commissioners on the part of Connecticut to settle the controversy between that state and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania relative to lands in Wyoining valley. In all the multiform duties that devolved upon him in the various public stations he filled he acquitted himself nobly. He possessed a strong analyzing mind, deep penetration of thought, a clear head and good heart.

During the latter part of his life he suffered much from disease in his chest which terminated his useful career on the 28th of Nov. 1785. At his request before death, his body underwent a post mortum examination. His heart was found ossified. The valves were united to the aorta and an aperture not larger than a common knitting kneedle was all that remained for the passage of the blood. This explained the reason of his faintness under sudden emotion.

In all the relations of private and public life-from the cabin boy up to the lofty pinnacle of a well earned fame, Gen. Whipple was a model of consistency and virtue. He left a reputation pure as the virgin sheet. His career demonstrated clearly that in our country fame is confined to no grade in life and that practical knowledge, crowned with strong common sense, enables a man to be substantially useful to his country and

а

fellow men. Citizens of America of only a common education-you can and should be useful. Look at this bright example and govern yourselves accordingly.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS.

INFIDELITY, in all its multiform aspects, is a legitimate child of inconsistency. The man who has impartially read the Bible-who understands physiology, the philosophy of mind-the minutiæ of anatomy, the unerring laws of nature, the powers of reason-the revolving circuit of his own immortal soul and denies the existence of Him who spake and it was done-who commanded and it stood fast-disrobes himself of the noblest power bestowed by creative Wisdom and forfeits the high dignity of a man. All things, from the leaf that vibrates in the gentle breeze to the etherial sky spangled with stars, proclaim the existence of a God. Most assuredly there is a Supreme Being who rules, with unerring wisdom, in the kingdoms of Nature, Providence and Grace. Beyond all cavil this position is most conducive to the happiness of the human family in this life. The superstructure of the Infidel is clustered with present misery. If its foundation should prove sandy he curses himself in this world to be more wretched in the next. Aside from the question of its divinityReligion is the substratum of social order and human felicity. Infidelity is the destruction of both. History is crowded with demonstrations of this position. Banish the Bible and religion from our Republicremove this firm foundation upon which the Sages of the Revolution based it-anarchy would ensue and we should rush into the same vortex of ruin which engulphed the French Republic.

By many of our Revolutionary patriots religion was exemplifiedby all it was venerated. Among those of them who enjoyed its full fruition through life was William Williams born at Lebanon, Windham County, Connecticut, on the 8th of April 1731. He was the son of Rev. Solomon Williams whose paternal ancestor came from Wales in 1630. Solomon was pastor of the Congregational church at Lebanon for fifty-six years. He was a man of consistent and uniform piety-of liberal and expansive views and believed religion to be the foundation of rational liberty. His own soul enraptured with the substantial joys of practical piety-he strongly desired his children might inherit the same blessing. His prayers were answered. Of a large family of sons and daughters-all consecrated themselves to the Lord of glory

a

It

and became exemplary members of the church over which their father presided.

After completing his preparatory studies William entered Harvard College and graduated in 1751. He sustained a high reputation for correct deportment untiring industry and scholastic lore. His father then directed his theological course preparatory for the sacred desk. But his talents were too diversified for a clerical life. He had a taste for classics, architecture, mechanics, mathematics and general science.

He was also inclined to travel. In 1755 he accepted a commission in the staff of Col. Ephraim Williams a kinsman of his and founder of Williams College at Williamstown, Mass. Sir William Johnson, who commanded the English troops, detached Col. Williams with 1100 men to reconnoitre the army of Baron Dieskau composed of a large force of French and Indians. After proceeding some four miles the detachment was attacked by a superior force lying in ambush. Col. Williams fell in the early part of the engagement bravely fighting for the mother country. His troops then retreated in good order until the main body came up and repulsed the enemy

The French war cost the Americans much blood and treasure. was a matter of allegiance-not of interest. The Canadas were won by the Colonies for Great Britain. The pilgrim fathers were long treated and used as vassals of the English crown. Blended with the unparalleled cruelties of the hired minions of the mother country was damning ingratitude-the concentrated essential oil of Pandora that drives back the rushing blood upon the aching heart.

During the campaign Mr. Williams became disgusted with the hauteur of the British officers towards native Americans who were by far the most efficient troops against the Indians and French, whose mode of warfare they better understood. Released from the army, he resolved never again to submit to such indignities. He returned home and commenced the mercantile business. Soon after, he was elected town clerk, a member of the assembly and appointed a justice of the peace. These were unsought favors-purely a tribute to merit. For a long time he was either speaker or clerk of the House of Representatives in which he served nearly one hundred sessions. For fifty years ne faithfully served in a public capacity.

When the Revolutionary storm began to darken the horizon of public tranquillity he boldly met its raging fury. Extensively and favorably known-his salutary influence had a wide range. When the tocsin of war was sounded he closed his commercial concerns and devoted his whole time to the glorious cause of equal rights and rational

« PředchozíPokračovat »