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cipline, the correctness of his general conduct, and his distinguished attainments in learning, he became and continued a favourite with his teachers; while his associates were charmed with the affability of his manners, and the brilliancy of his parts.
Among the subordinate institutions of the college, calculated to minister to the improvement of the youth, was a society recently established for the cultivation of elocution. In this, young Ames discovered an object capable of awakening all his ambi. tion; for even now, he coveted fame, and was warmly enamoured of the glory of eloquence. In the declamations which he practised under this establishment, he was early marked and admired for the propriety, energy, and elegance of his delivery. In specimens of lofty and impassioned eloquence in particular, his manner was peculiarly forcible and impressive. From the aptness of his genius for oratory, and the assiduity with which he devoted himself to its cultivation, he might soon be said to stand alone in the society. Discouraged and humbled by the acknowledged superiority of a youth so far behind most of them in point of years, his fellow students were at length induced to yield him the palm without competition. His orations, though mostly selected, were occasionally the production of his own pen. In these instances he manifested a capacity for the style and manner of the orator. Although he never offered himself a candidate for “wreaths of rich Parnassian growth," the invocation of the muse of poetry was sometimes the employment of his leisure hours. Even at this early period his compositions exhibited not a little of the same stamp and character which marked them so strongly in after life. They were figurative and sententious, highly animated and rich in ornament.
Amidst the dissipation, which notwithstanding the most strict and salutary laws, is too often attendant on a college life, it was equally the honour and felicity of young Ames to preserve his morals free from taint. Like the person of Achilles by the waters of the Styx, his mind was rendered invulnerable by a happy temperament and a virtuous education. This circumstance amounts to no ordinary praise. When vice approaches the youthful mind in the seductive form of a beloved companion, the ordeal is threatening and dangerous in the extreme. Few
possesses the prudence and firmness requisite to pass it in triumphant safety. One of these few was the subject of this article. Those who have been accurately observant of the depen. dence of one part of life on another, will readily concur with us, that his future character derived much of its lustre, and his fortunes much of their elevation, from the untainted purity and irreproachableness of his youth. Masculine virtue is as necessary to real eminence, as a powerful intellect. He that is deficient in either will never, unless from the influence of fortuitous circumstances, be able to place and maintain himself at the head of society. He may rise and flourish for a time, but his fall is as certain as his descent to the grave.
As happily illustrating and confirming the preceding observations, we cannot resist the temptation of introducing, in this place, a few very sensible and well expressed sentiments of a friend to Mr. Ames, in relation to his early habits of virtue, and the influence they exercised over his subsequent character and standing in society. “Young Ames,” says this elegant writer, “ did not need the smart of guilt to make him virtuous, nor the regret of folly to make him wise. He seems to have been early initiated in that caution and self-distrust, which he used afterwards to inculcate. He was accustomed to say, we have but a slender hold of our virtues; they ought, therefore to be cherished with care, and practised with diligence. He who holds parley with vice and dishonour, is sure to become their slave and victim. The heart is more than half corrupted that does not burn with indignation at the slightest attempt to seduce it."
“ His spotless youth," continues his biographer and friend, “ brought blessings to the whole remainder of his life. It gave him the entire use of his faculties, and all the fruit of his litera. ry education. Its effects appeared in that fine edge of moral feeling which he always preserved; in his strict and often austere temperance; in his love of occupation that made activity delight; in his distaste for public diversions, and his preference of simple pleasures. Beginning well, he advanced with unremitted steps in the race of virtue, and arrived at the end of life in peace and honour.” These are sentiments which we earnestly recommend to the youth of our country. They deserve to be treasured up with care and guarded with more than miserly vigilance. They are precious beyond gold and pearl and jewels, and all that is comprised in the riches of the east. Besides shielding the earlier periods of life from those vices and dissipations, which sow the seeds and quicken the germ of future wretchedness, they will tend to crown a manhood of vigour, usefulness, and renown, with an old age of peace and honour, and to scatter blessings on the borders of the grave.
In the year 1774, when he had just completed his sixteenth year, Mr. Ames was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He took leave of college, bearing along with him an equal share of affection and honour. To say nothing of the excellence of his scholarship, he was pronounced the most eloquent of the sons of Harvard.
The struggle of the American colonies for freedom soon afterwards commencing, rendered the times perplexing and perilous. They were peculiarly so for the youth of the country, who had yet their principles to mature, and their plan of life to shape and settle. Too young to be employed in the public councils, and not having a predilection for the profession of arms, Mr. Ames took no active 'part in the contest which ensued. His heart, however, with its warmest affections, and his whole soul, with its best wishes, were with the sages who toiled, and the heroes who bled, in the cause of Independence. Nor was this all. Juvenile as he was, his pen was frequently employed in anonymous addresses, calculated by their wisdom to instruct the patriot, and by their impassioned eloquence to animate the soldier.
Influenced no less by the wishes of his mother, to whom his obedience and piety were exemplary, than by the early predilection of his own mind, he had determined, almost from his childhood, on devoting himself to forensic pursuits. He did not, however, enter on the study of his profession, till the year 1781, when he commenced it under the direction of William Tudor, Esq. an eminent counsellor, of the city of Boston. The interim, from his leaving college to this period, Mr. Ames had in no instance misemployed or abused. On the contrary, he had passed it in a manner useful to the community, as well as ad
vantageous and honourable to himself. His reading, although somewhat irregular, had been so extensive and multifarious, as to excite astonishment, and almost surpass belief. His ardour for book3 amounted to enthusiasm. During this period, he not only revised the classical works, which he had previously read in the course of his academical studies, but, not satisfied with this, pushed his researches still further into the rich stores of ancient learning. No man relished, in a higher degree, the beauties of Greek and Roman literature. Few in America have been more familiar with them. On the works of Virgil he dwelt with rapture; and could recite, from memory, with an eloquence and force peculiar to himself, all his most splendid and touching passages. His rehearsal of the stories of Nisus and Euryalus, Pallas and Evander, Lausus and Mezentius, is said to have been a specimen of pathetic elocution. Poetry was now the luxury of his mind. He read with attention all the principal English poets, and became familiar with the writings of Milton and Shakspeare, committing to memory many passages of peculiar excellence. This course of reading, although possibly in some instances, not well directed, tended greatly to extend and liberalize, enrich and embellish, the mind of the young student. It aided in supplying him with that fund of materials for writing and speaking which he possessed in such abundance, as no length of debate or latitude of discussion could ever exhaust. It was also the source, in part, of his unprecedented fertility and aptness of allusion-his ability to evolve, with a felicity we never witnessed in any other speaker, a train of imagery suited to every subject and every occasion.
Not long after his admission to the bar, Mr. Ames was called on to appear in the character of a statesman and a legislator. Having been attentive to the native impulses of his own mind, and carefully observant of the drift of his genius, he had now a sufficient knowledge of his powers to perceive that the senate chamber rather than the forum, was to prove eventually the the atre of his renown. Notwithstanding, therefore, the voice of private interest to the contrary-for what honest American has ever grown rich in the service of his country!-so highly was he enamoured of that reputation and glory which conscious ability
whispered was awaiting him, and so ardent was his desire to move for a time in his proper sphere, that he now, perhaps, courted rather than declined the conspicuous walks of public life. Nor do we regard this disposition as amounting to a blemish in his character. On the other hand, we consider it as tantamount to a virtue. That great man is so far deficient in greatness, who is not ambitious of his just reward, the gratitude and applause of the virtuous and discerning portion of the world, consequent on the performance of exalted duties. Even Washington himself, that resplendent epitome of all that is great and excellent in our nature, was no stranger to the love of renown.
After having acquired distinction in the discussion and arrangement of certain points of local policy, he was elected a delegate to the convention of the state of Massachusetts, which met in the year 1788 with a view to the ratification of the federal constitution. Here an opportunity presented itself for making fresh and ample augmentations to his fame. The subject under consideration was eminently momentous. It elevated and expanded his views to its own dimensions, and called forth all the fervours of his mind. It was a decision of the question, whether the United States should be blessed with a wise, free, and efficient government, or exhibit the awful spectacle of a national chaos-a people passing in convulsions from faction to anarchy, and from that to the calm of a military despotism. It was during the session of this convention that he gained such high and well merited eclat, by that beautiful specimen of parliamentary eloquence, his speech on the subject of biennial elections.
In the first congress under the federal constitution, which met at Newyork in the year 1789, Mr. Ames appeared in the house of representatives, as a member from that district in which was included the city of Boston. During the eight years of the Washington administration, he retained his seat in that august assembly:-august let us call it; for it was composed of the ablest and most virtuous men of the nation. Rome, in her best days, would have gloried in a senate so enlightened and dignified; and the states of Greece would have committed their des, tinies to a council so preeminent in patriotism and wisdom.