Gambar halaman

the storms of all extremes, or directing the formation of a new government for a great people, the first time that so vast an experiment had ever been tried by man,-or finally retiring from the supreme power to which his virtue had raised him over the nation he had created, and whose destinies he had guided as long as his aid was required,-retiring with the veneration of all parties, of all nations, of all mankind, in order that the rights of men might be conserved, and that his example never might be appealed to by vulgar tyrants. This is the consummate glory of Washington; a triumphant warrior where the most sanguine had a right to despair; a successful ruler in all the difficulties of a course wholly untried ; but a warrior, whose sword only left its sheath when the first law of our nature commanded it to be drawn; and a ruler who having tasted of supreme power, gently and unostentatiously desired that the cup might pass from himn, nor would suffer more to wet his lips than the most solemn and sacred duty to his country and his God required!

" To his latest breath did this great patriot maintain the noble character of a captain the patron of peace, and a statesman the friend of justice. Dying, he bequeathed to his heirs the sword which he had worn in the war for liberty, and charged them “Never to take it from the scabbard but in self-defence, or in defence of their country and her freedom: and commanding them, that when it should thus be drawn, they should never sheathe it nor ever give it up, but prefer falling with it in their hands to the relinquishment thereof,'-—-words, the majesty and simple eloquence of which are not surpassed in the oratory of Athens and Rome.

“It will be the duty of the historian and the sage in all ages to let no occasion pass of commemorating this illustrious man; and until time shall be no more will a test of the progress wbich our race has made in wisdom and virtue be derived from the veneration paid to the immortal name of WASHINGTON !”

It is delightful to behold such a testimony borne to the character of Washington, by a peer of that realm whose ministry once pronounced him an outlaw. Nor are these opinions peculiar to Lord Brougham; they are the sentiments of the civilized world. History records the name of no mere mortal, who so towered above his race in the majesty of unapproached and unapproachable virtue. No man ever lived, whose power of personal character could for a moment be compared with his. Other men have been endowed with more brilliant military talent, yet no brilliancy of military talent ever conferred success in defiance of such complicated and almost inestimable difficulties. Other men may have been endowed with the genius for more rapid political combination, yet who ever laid the foundations of a mighty nation with so unerring wisdom. Other men have been pure and disinterested, yet who ever

was placed under such temptations as Washington, and where was patriotism ever seen to assume so awfully venerable a form. His judgment seemed as unerring as prescience; and every one was as conscious as he was of his own existence, that it was utterly incapable of being swerved a hair's breadth from the line of simple truth and incorruptible virtue. Of the influence of his personal character among his countrymen, it is sufficient to remark, that the present constitution of the United States would never have been adopted but for his recommendation; and that, after its adoption, the government could not have been carried on for a single year, had it not been for the confidence reposed in his wisdom and virtue. Nor are these the sentiments of his countrymen alone. His character, both public and private, stands to this hour before the world, without stain, and nations are proud to bow down before it in reverence. While living, Thomas, afterwards Lord Erskine, thus addressed him :

“SIR,—I have taken the liberty to introduce your august and immortal name in a short sentence which will be found in a book I send you. I have a large acquaintance among the most valuable and exalted classes of men ; but you are the only being for whom I ever felt an awful reverence. I sincerely pray God to grant a long and serene evening to a life so gloriously devoted to the universal happiness of the world.

“T. Erskine.” When the news of his death was received in France, Napoleon, then First Consul, issued an order of the day, expressive of his estimate of Washington's character, and directing that black crape should be suspended from all the standards and flags throughout the Republic. About the same time an American vessel, bearing the first intelligence of his death, was boarded by the British channel fleet of sixty sail of the line, then lying off Torbay. Lord Bridport, then in command, issued a general order to the fleet, and ordered the flags to be lowered to half mast throughout the day. And last, though not least, when the British fleet, during the last war, was ascending the Potomac, for the purpose of burning our national capital, the officers, with one consent, took off their hats as they came opposite to Mount Vernon, and stood uncovered while they were passing by the tomb of WASHINGTON.

Article IV.


It does not often happen, that any great correspondence exists between the internal character and the external conformation of distinguished men. But in the case of John Howe, this was strikingly observable. He was a man full six feet high, of an erect form and dignified gait. His eyes were dark and piercing, his forehead clear and high, and his whole countenance open and intellectual. We allude to this fact, at the outset, because there was connected with it, in the history of Howe, a circumstance which formed the turning point in his public career. After having been settled as parish minister, in Great Torrington, Devonshire, he had occasion to visit London, on business. He was detained there longer than he expected, and went, as a matter of curiosity, to the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, on the last day he designed to be in town. Cromwell, the Protector, who, as it has been remarked, “had his eyes every where," distinguished Howe from the crowd, by the nobleness of his mien. He knew also, from the style of his dress, that he was a country minister, and after service sent him a message, requesting an opportunity to speak with him. On his complying, Cromwell requested him to preach before him next Lord's day. Howe was naturally surprised at this, and modestly desired to be excused. Cromwell told him that it was a vain thing to excuse himself, and that he would take no denial. Howe pleaded his engagements to his people, who were expecting him to preach on the ensuing Sabbath. But Cromwell overruled this objection, by engaging not only to send a preacher in his stead, but to write them with his own hand. On this, Howe felt himself obliged to yield, and preached on the Sabbath, as he was desired. Cromwell, however, was not satisfied with one sermon, but urged him to preach again and again, and was so much pleased with his performances, that in a long, private conversation, he pressed him to become his family chaplain. Howe did all in his power to excuse himself, but Cromwell, who

had a wonderful insight into character, and sought to surround himself with the most learned and distinguished men of the age, would not be denied. He promised to make his place good at Torrington, and supply his people with a suitable minister. Thus Howe was subjected to the necessity of reluctantly complying with the kind but imperious request of the Lord Protector. He accordingly removed his family to Whitehall, and became a court preacher for Cromwell, at a time of great intellectual, moral and political excitement. Here he remained several years, fulfilling the duties of his office with great conscientiousness and diligence. And highly does it redound to his credit, as all his contemporaries admitted, that in this difficult situation, and with access to the secrets of the state, as much perhaps as any other man, he conducted himself with such integrity and prudence, as to be entirely free from censure with reference to the political troubles and changes of the times.

So disinterested was he, that while he obtained many favors for others, Cromwell was known to have remarked, that he wondered when he would ask any thing for himself or his family. He was equally honest, and did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, even when it was unpalatable to his distinguished auditors. Having occasion to preach against a fanatical notion which was prevalent in Whitehall, and known to be cherished by Cromwell, he observed that the Protector occasionally knit his brows and discovered great uneasiness during the sermon. At the close of the service, a person of distinction came to him, and asked him if he knew what he had done, and intimated that Cromwell would be so incensed against him, that he was doubtful whether he would ever recover his favor. To this Howe replied, that he had “discharged his conscience, and would leave the event with God!" A truly Christian and magnanimous reply! Cromwell was somewhat colder towards him for a time, but never referred to the subject in conversation. Howe continued to perform his appropriate duties, as he was wont to do, and felt increasing satisfaction in the reflection, that he had obeyed God and “discharged his conscience.”

The subject of our sketch was born on the 17th of May, A. D. 1630, in the village of Loughborough, a market town in Leicestershire. The same month was distin

guished by the birth of Charles the Second. Archbishop Tillotson, with whom, in subsequent life, Howe enjoyed an intimate friendship, was born a few months after. Little is known of Howe's early youth. He was certainly educated with great care, and imbibed the principles of Christianity at an early age. The seeds of future greatness must have been sown in his mind, probably by the hands of his parents, and time and experience only served to ripen them into maturity. He studied at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, where he acquired great distinction as a scholar. He took his degree in A. D. 1650, and became a fellow of Magdalene College, Oxford. Soon after this, he was ordained, and began his ministry in the town of Great Torrington, a donative or curacy belonging to Christ Church, Oxford. In a few years, he removed to London, as already stated, and became household chaplain to the Lord Protector, and lecturer at St. Margaret's, Westminster.

The period, during which Howe flourished, was one of the most interesting in the history of England. Every thing pertaining to the great interests of society was in a state of change. The principles of the Reformation were developing their strong but irregular and stormy energies. The social and political elements were heaving and dashing in strange commotion. The minds of men were grappling with the great problems of morals, politics, philosophy and religion. Great changes were taking place in the modes of investigating truth; literature was springing into fresh and vigorous existence, and religion was throwing off the prejudices of ages, and gathering herself up for greater achievements. It was an era of immense intellectual and moral power. “There were giants in those days.” Such were Boyle in science, Selden* in law, and Milton in song. Such, too, were Cudworth and More,t in mental and moral philosophy, Sherlock, Stillingfleet, Charnock and Owen, in didactic theology, Gale, Burnet and Fuller, in history, Tillotson and Barrow, Baxter and Bates, in practical divinity. All these were the contemporaries, and some of them the friends and associates of Howe. He moved among them as an equal in literary attainment, in mental power, and in moral worth.

• Though Selden was born in A. D. 1584, be did not die till A. D. 1654.
| Dr. Henry More.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »