ePub 版

his friend, he followed him, determined to share his disaster, and resolved that, as they had gone up together, they should not be separated as they came down. Of the bucket we are told nothing; but as it is probable that it

fell with its supporters, we have a scene of misery unequalled in the whole compass of tragic description. Imagine to ourselves Jack rapidly descending, perhaps rolling over and over down the mountain, the bucket, as the lighter, moving along, and pouring forth (if it had been filled) its liquid stream, Gill following in confusion, with a quick and circular and headlong motion; add to this the dust, which they might have collected and dispersed, with the blood which must have flowed from John's head, and we will witness a catastrophe highly shocking, and feel an irresistible impulse to run for a doctor. The sound, too, charmingly “echoes to the sense,”—

Jack fell down

And broke his crown,

And Gill came tumbling after.

The quick succession of movements is indicated by an equally rapid motion of the short syllables; and in the last line Gill rolls with a greater sprightliness and vivacity than even the stone of Sisyphus. Having expatiated so largely on its particular merits, let us conclude by a brief review of its most prominent beauties. The subject is the fall of men, a subject high, interesting, worthy of a poet; the heroes, men who do not commit a single fault, and whose misfortunes are to be imputed, not to indiscretion, but to destiny. To the illustration of the subject every part of the poem conduces. Attention is neither wearied by multiplicity of trivial incidents, nor distracted by frequency of digression. The poet prudently clipped the wings of imagination, and repressed the extravagance of metaphorical decoration. All is simple, plain, consistent. The moral, too, that part without which poetry is useless sound,-has not escaped the view of the poet. When we behold two young men, who but a short moment before stood up in all the pride of health, suddenly falling down a hill, how must we lament the instability of all things |

JOHN M. MASON, 1770–1829.

John Mitch ELL MAson, the son of Rev. John Mason, who came to this country from Scotland in 1761, was born in the city of New York on the 19th of March, 1770. At the age of seventeen, he was received into his father's church, and soon After entered Columbia College, where he took his first degree in 1789, with high

reputation as a scholar. After leaving college, he commenced the study of theology with his father, and continued with him nearly two years; when it was thought best that he should complete his studies in Edinburgh; whither he accordingly went early in 1791, and returned in the latter part of the next year, his father having died during his absence. He had been at home but a few months when he was called to his late father's post, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cedar Street, and was ordained March, 1793. So much admired was he for his eloquence, that in four years after his settlement (to use his own language) “it became necessary to swarm ;” and in two years the new church, of which he continued the pastor, quite equalled in numbers the old. Every year added to the high estimation in which he was held by scholars as well as by the Christian Church. Under the auspices of the Associate Reformed Synod, he planned and founded a theological seminary, and spent upwards of a year in Scotland and England in obtaining funds and books for it. He was appointed the Professor, (for at first there was but one,) and performed his arduous duties for a number of years without salary. This was the first theological seminary in the United States; and it owed its existence to his persevering, self-denying, selfsacrificing labors.

The summer of 1804 was marked by a calamity which melted the nation into tears, the murder of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr. Dr. Mason had always been on the most intimate terms with Hamilton, esteeming him the greatest man of our country; and from the time he received the fatal wound till the next day, when he died, he was often at his bedside, administering to him those consolations which only Christianity can impart. Soon after, at the request of the “Society of the Cincinnati,” he delivered an oration upon the death of Hamilton, one of the most eloquent of discourses, and which elicited the warmest praise on both sides of the Atlantic." His deep feelings of grief for the loss of Hamilton, and his admiration of his character, are expressed in many of his letters at this time. The following to a correspondent in Scotland, dated August 11, 1804, expresses his grief at


News I have none but what the papers will have announced before this reaches you; melancholy, most melancholy news for America, the premature death of her greatest man, MajorGeneral Hamilton. I say nothing too strong when I assure you that, all things considered, the loss of Washington was light in comparison with this. His most stupendous talents, which set him above rivalship, and his integrity, with which intrigue had not the hardihood to tamper, held him up as the nation's hope, and as the terror of the unprincipled; but it marked him out, at the same time, as a victim to the disappointed and profligate ambition of Vice-President Burr. By the most insidious and cruel artifice he was entrapped, against his judgment, his conscience,

* Among others, Judge Jay and Judge Marshall wrote to him letters of thanks for it.

and his efforts, in a duel with that desperate man, and mortally wounded. The catastrophe happened on the morning of the 11th, and he expired at two o'clock on the 12th ult. The shock and agony of the public mind has never been equalled. Burr went out, determined to kill him; for he had been long qualifying himself to become a “dead shot.” Ingenuous Hamilton went out to be murdered, being as ignorant of the pistol as myself, and had resolved not to take the life of his antagonist, even if it were in his power. The cry of lamentation and indignation assails Burr from every point of the compass; nor can he turn his eye anywhere without reading his own infamy in the honors heaped upon the illustrious dead.

In 1807 was commenced the publication of The Christian's Magazine,—a monthly periodical, of which Dr. Mason was the editor, and most of which he wrote. In this appeared, in successive numbers, his controversial papers upon the Episcopal form of church government, in reply to Bishop Hobart. In 1811, he was elected Provost of Columbia College, which post he held till 1816, when, feeling that his powers had been overtaxed and that he was sinking under the weight of his numerous duties, he resigned his office, and took a voyage to Europe to recruit his exhausted powers. He returned after two years, improved indeed in health, but not completely restored. The resumption of his many duties proved too much for his bodily strength, and the next year he had an attack of partial paralysis. From this, however, he somewhat recovered, and in 1821 accepted the invitation of the trustees of Dickinson College to become its President. He had discharged the duties of this high office with the greatest advantage to the institution for two years, when a fall from his horse quite disabled him, and he resigned and returned to New York the same year, where he died on the 26th of December, 1829, in the sixtieth year of his age.

Dr. Moson was a remarkable man,—remarkable for his majestic personal appearance as well as for his intellectual powers, his learning, and his eloquence. He was in stature about six feet, with a high forehead, deep blue eyes, and a face remarkably expressive of thought, feeling, firmness, and courage. As a pulpit-orator it has been remarked of him by a learned contemporary that “upon the whole, for a combination of clearness, power, majesty, bold conceptions, profound thought...sublime and tender emotions, evangelical richness and unction, natural and impressive utterance, adaptation of style and manner to varying subjects and assemblies, Dr. Mason would probably not lose by comparison with the best preachers that have adorned the modern pulpit.”

1 Read “Memoirs, with a Portion of his Correspondence,” 8vo, pp. 560, by Rev. Jacob Van Vechten; and Works, in four volumes, edited by his son, Rev. Ebenezer Mason.

“In a new church, in Murray Street, I heard Dr. Mason, then regarded as the Boanerges of the city. Instead of a pulpit, which served as a sort of shelter and defence for the preacher, he had only a little railing along the edge of the platform on which he stood, so as to show his large and handsome person almost down to his shoe-buckles. He preached without notes, and moved freely about, POLITICS AND RELIGION.

That religion has, in fact, nothing to do with the politics of many who profess it, is a melancholy truth. But that it has, of right, no concern with political transactions, is quite a new discovery. If such opinions, however, prevail, there is no longer any mystery in the character of those whose conduct in political matters violates every precept and slanders every principle of the religion of Christ. But what is politics? Is it not the science and the exercise of civil rights and civil duties? And what is religion ? Is it not an obligation to the service of God, founded on his authority, and extending to all our relations, personal and social * Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Where did you learn this maxim: The Bible is full of directions for your behavior as citizens. It is plain, pointed, awful in its injunctions on ruler and ruled as such: yet religion has nothing to do with politics! You are commanded “in ALL your ways to acknowledge him.” “In EveRY THING, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let your requests be made known unto God.” “And whatsoev ER YE Do, IN word or DEED, to do ALL IN The NAME of the Lord Jesus.” Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Most astonishing ! And is there any part of your conduct in which you are, or wish to be, without law to God, and not under the law of Jesus Christ? Can you persuade yourselves that political men and measures are to undergo no review in the judgment to come * That all the passion and violence, the fraud and falsehood and corruption, which pervade the system of party, and burst out like a flood at the public elections, are to be blotted from the catalogue of unchristian deeds, because they are politics? Or that a minister of the gospel may see his people, in their political career, bid defiance to their God in breaking through every moral restraint, and keep a guiltless silence, because religion has nothing to do with politics? I forbear to press the argument farther; observing only that many of our difficulties and sins may be traced to this pernicious notion. Yes, if our religion had had more to do with our politics, if, in the pride of our

sometimes speaking in a colloquial manner, and then suddenly pouring out sentence after sentence glowing with lightning and echoing with thunder. The effect of these outbursts was sometimes very startling. The doctor was not only very imposing in his person, but his voice was of prodigious volume and compass. He was sometimes adventurous in his speech, occasionally passing off a joke, and not unfrequently verging on what might seem profane but for the solemnity of his manner.”—Goodrich's Recollections. 1 Ise might have given a still stronger text, Philippians i. 27: “Let your politics be such as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” Our translation is conversation, (which in King James's day was equivalent to conduct;) but the original is roxircutask, “act as a citizen,” or “act in political matters, as a Christian.”

citizenship, we had not forgotten our Christianity, if we had prayed more and wrangled less about the affairs of our country, it would have been infinitely better for us at this day.


He was born to be great. Whoever was second, HAMILTON must be first. To his stupendous and versatile mind no investiga-. tion was difficult, no subject presented which he did not illuminate. Superiority, in some particular, belongs to thousands. Pre-eminence, in whatever he chose to undertake, was the prerogative of HAMILTON. No fixed criterion could be applied to his talents. Often has their display been supposed to have reached the limit of human effort; and the judgment stood firm till set aside by himself. When a cause of new magnitude required new

exertion, he rose, he towered, he soared; surpassing himself as he

surpassed others. Then was nature tributary to his eloquences Then was felt his despotism over the heart! Touching, at his pleasure, every string of pity or terror, of indignation or grief, he melted, he soothed, he roused, he agitated; alternately gentle as the dews and awful as the thunder. Yet, great as he was in the eyes of the world, he was greater in the eyes of those with whom he was most conversant. The greatness of most men, like objects seen through a mist, diminishes with the distance; but HAMILTON, like a tower seen afar off under a clear sky, rose in grandeur and sublimity with every step of approach. Familiarity with him was the parent of veneration. Over these matchless talents probity threw her brightest lustre. Frankness, suavity, tenderness, benevolence, breathed through their exercise. And to his family — but he is gone—that noble heart beats no more; that eye of fire is dimmed; and sealed are those oracular lips. Americans, the serenest beam of your glory is extinguished in the tomb.

Fathers, friends, countrymen the dying breath of HAMILTON recommended to you the Christian's hope. ... His single testimony outweighs all the cavils of the sciolist, and all the jeers of the profane. Who will venture to pronounce a fable that doctrine of life and immortality which his profound and irradiating mind embraced as the truth of God? When you are to die, you will find no source of peace but in the faith of Jesus. Cultivate, for your present repose and your future consolation, what our departer'h friend declared to be the support of his expiring moments, “a tender reliance on the mercies of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

HAMILTON we will cherish thy memory, we will embalm thy fame! Fare thee well, thou unparalleled man, farewell,—forever!

« 上一頁繼續 »