Obrázky stránek


that are permitted to prey upon the community by the official guardians of our cities and towns and yet recover from his wounds, redeem his character and become a virtuous and useful member of society. God grant that this example may influence thousands to go and do likewise.

No man ever dignified his profession more than Mr. Wythe. He was rigidly honest and would not proceed in a cause until convinced justice required his services. If drawn into a cause by misrepresentation that was tinctured with wrong, he would abandon it the moment ne discovered that fact and return the fee. His virtuous habits, treme fidelity, legal acquirements and untiring industry, gained for him the esteem and confidence of his friends and the people at large. He was a member of the House of Burgesses for a long time and under the new government was appointed Chancellor of the State, which office he filled with great ability to the time of his death. He was highly esteemed as a legislator for integrity, talent and independence. In politics he was guided by his own matured judgment irrespective of party. On the 14th of November 1764 he was appointed on a committee to prepare a petition to the king, a memorial to the House of Lords and a remonstrance to the House of Commons on the impropriety and injustice of the proposed Stamp Act.

The remonstrance was from the able pen of Mr. Wythe and was drawn in language so bold and strong that it alarmed many of his colleagues and underwent a modification to divest it of what they deemed a tincture of treason. He understood and properly appreciated the true dignity of man and did not live to quail at the tyranny of a haughty monarch or corrupt ministry. He was a prominent member of the House of Burgesses in 1768, when Virginia blood and Virginia patriotism were roused and passed the memorable resolutions asserting their exclusive right to levy their own taxes-accused ministers and Parliament of violating the British Constitution and denied the right of the crown to transport and try persons in England for crimes committed in America. In passing these resolutions parliamentary rules were dispensed with, the members anticipating the proroguing power of the governor, who, on learning their tenor, immediately dissolved the House. He was half an hour too late-they had passed their final reading-were entered upon the records and beyond his power to veto or expunge. This action of the governor was unfavorable to the interests of the crown-the people took the helm as they should do now and returned all the old patriotic members to the next session with severa' new ones of the “same sort."

Among the new members was Thomas Jefferson who had been a law student under Mr. Wythe-was charged with the same rebel principles and was a bold and fearless champion of Liberty and equal rights. The atmosphere was becoming rather too highly charged with patriotic fire to be comfortably inhaled by the governor and the bipeds of the crown. It was rather too caloric for the free respiration of monarchical lungs. The people, awakened to their true position-saw the path of duty and pursued it. With an enlightened mass there is safety.

From that time Mr. Wythe continued to oppose parliamentary and ministerial oppression and boldly vindicated the rights of his injured country. At the commencement of the revolutionary movements he joined a volunteer corps, determined to vindicate in the field the principles he had advocated in the legislative hall. He lived up to the motto-" we do what we say."

In August 1775 he was elected a member of Congress and took a high rank in that body-then the observed of all observers. When the proposition of Independence was made it met his warm approbation. He was to the hilt in this measure. When the day arrived for final action he put his name to that bold instrument that he knew must prove the Chart of Liberty or the death warrant of the signers. In all the majesty of conscious dignity these master spirits of freedom shook off the corroding rust of kingly power, planted deep the tree of Liberty and proved to a gazing world that a nation can be born in a day and live. Language can never portray nor imagination fully conceive the enthusiastic joy that marked the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence among the people. The bells sounded a requiem and tolled the funeral knell of monarchy-illuminations and roaring artillery conveyed the glad news from the central arch of the Union to its remotest bounds-the replenished torch of Liberty rose, a pillar of fire to guide the patriots in their onward march-on the wings of thanksgiving and praise the happy tidings were carried to the throne of Heaven, received the sanction of Jehovah's high authority and were recorded in the book of everlasting fame by the hand of justice with an angel's pen.

In November 1776 Messrs. Wythe, Pendleton and Jefferson were appointed to revise the laws of Virginia. Although much other business devolved upon them they prepared and reported one hundred and twenty-six bills by the 18th of the ensuing June. The new code commenced the revision at the time of the revolution in England and brought it down to and in accordance with the new government. In 1777 Mr. Wythe was chosen Speaker of the House of Delegates the same year a Judge of the High Court of Chancery and subsequently Chancellor. A more impartial judge never graced the Bench. Nothing could induce him to swerve from strict justice. He was a profound jurist and a lucid expounder of the law. He graced the law professorship in the College of William and Mary until other duties compelled him to resign. He was a member of the legislature when Virginia sanctioned the Federal Constitution.

He put in full practice his principles of Liberty by the emancipation of his slaves and providing them with the means of support. He tried the experiment of education upon one so far as to teach hiin Latin and Greek when he suddenly died. He was extremely anxious to see a development of African intellect that its calibre might be more clearly known.

Chancellor Wythe died suddenly on the 8th of June 1806, believed to be from the effects of poison administered by George Wythe Sweny, a grandson of his sister, for the purpose of arriving immediately at the enjoyment of a part of his estate which was fortunately prevented by a codicil made just before his decease. Although there was not proof to convict the ungrateful demon, circumstances were so strong against him that the public verdict stamped upon him the damning stigmamurderer.*

In his private character Chancellor Wythe was amiable, modest, charitable and humane. He sought to improve the society in which he moved and used great exertions to guard young men against the purlieus of vice. He was industrious, temperate, frugal but liberal and proverbial for charity and a practical Christian.

Jefferson, in delineating the character of his law instructor-remarks“ No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest kind-his integrity inflexible and his justice exact. Of warm patriotism and devoted as he was to Liberty and the natural and equal rights of men he might be truly called the Cato of this country without the avarice of a Roman, for a more disinterested person never lived. Such was George Wythe-the honor of his own and a model for future times.”


Time is wasted by many persons as if it had no limit and they were to live for ever. But few place a proper value upon it-but a small portion of these reduce it to an advantageous system. If every person realized that “time is money” and ends in eternity-it would be used very differently by many-not by all. The instances are very rare where a man of fifty can look back upon his career and not see that he has squandered a large portion of his time in senseless vacuity or improper appropriation. If he then realizes its full worth he will gaze upon the past with keen regret and vainly wish he could live his life over again-a wish that the illustrious Washington said he did not indulge. If no one of the human family wasted or improperly used time, earth would be a Paradise-Pandemonium a fable. If all would assign a due portion of time for each class of incumbent duties-rigidly adhere - to the one and promptly perform the others-a harmony in action and an amount of labor would be produced that would effect a change in the social, religious and business departments that would astonish the most visionary theorist of system and order. Profligacy of time too often commences in childhood-increases in youth and is made bankrupt in manhood. Let all feel more deeply the importance of a judicious arrangement and wise improvement of precious TIME.

* After publishing my first edition, I was credibly informed the poison was only intended for two emanc: pated slaves, who were legatees in the will, both of whom died a few hours before their benefactor. Mortis cation, from being coheir with them, is the cause assigned for the murder.-AUTHOR

Its whirling wheels are rolling us on rapidly to “that country from whose bourne no traveller returns.” It is a boon from our Creator-to Him we must render an account of every hour from the moment our reason assumed and presided over its empire. Let all be prepared to render that account with a joy that shall increase in ecstacy through the ceaseless ages of ETERNITY.

In perusing this history of the Sages and Heroes of the American Revolution the reader has learned that all of them were industrio-isseveral of them bright models of perfect system in the distribution of their time. No one was more diligent in the performance of his duties than Robert Yates who was born in the city of Schenectady, N. Y. on the 27th day of January 1738. The early developments of his mind were of unusual solidity and free froin that frivolity that too often retards the course of boys in their preparation for manhood. Let my young readers remember this and become men in conduct during your minority. You will then be prepared to appear upon the stage of action with credit to yourselves and usefulness to our common country. Improve your minds by storing them with useful knowledge. If the tree has no blossoms in spring we gather no fruit in autumn. If your youth is barren of healthful culture-if the vain allurements-the trifling amusements of this deceiving world exclude from your immortal minds salutary improvement-your mental powers may darken with age and rush you into the murky waters of lasting disgrace-perhaps ruin you for ever. Soon the mighty concerns of our country will devolve on you. In your hands will be placed the destiny of our nation. Some of

you must fill up the swelling ranks of the professions—the arena of politics and posts of honor and profit. Let these reflections raise you above the trifles that amuse without benefitting you. Learn to be men when you are boys-you may then be intellectual giants when you reach manhood. Remember your Creator-study the Bible and let it be deeply impressed upon your minds that to become eminently great you must be truly good.

Robert Yates commenced his classical education in the city of New York and completed it at an early age. He then read law with William Livingston of that city and became an ornament to the profession. He located at the city of Albany-obtained a lucrative practice-the high esteem of his numerous acquaintances and a title of honor too rare and priceless-“ THE HONEST LAWYER." An additional proof of his good sense was exhibited by his leading to the hymeneal altar the amiable Miss Jane Van Ness who proved worthy of the noble man of her judicious choice. They sailed buoyantly, prosperously and joyfully on the flood tide of domestic felicity until the angry elements of an oppressed people were concentrated by British oppression and raised the rough storm of the Revolution. Mr. Yates was a whig of the first water-bold, fearless, calm, prudent and firm as the iron mountain of Missouri. No one better understood the relative condition of the two countries-the powers and rights of each and the law of nations. He was conversant with the liberal principles of Magna Charta as granted by King John and as improved and confirmed by King Henry III. in the ninth year of his reign. He was familiar with the provisions of the British Constitution-the Charters of the Colonies and the various declaratory Acts of Parliament defining the rights of the American people which had grown sacred by long and peaceful enjoyment. To see them now rudely trampled upon by a venal ministry roused the patriotism and indignation of Mr. Yates He wrote and published several pungent essays exposing the usurpations of the British Cabinet. He took an active part in the public meetings of the people that prepared them to strike for LIBERTY. At that time he was a member of the corporation of Albany and attorney for that board. He was a leading member of the Committee of Safety when it was virtually the supreme government of the empire state. The tories greatly feared and most sincerely hated this bold champion of equal rights. His ardent zeal was tempered with a discreet moderation and equal justice to all. He never passed the orbit of legitimate power nor hesitated in performing his whole duty regardless of consequences. He was an active member of the first Provincial Congress of New York

« PředchozíPokračovat »