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of this, a leading member in the opposition moved for an adjournment, that the house might have time to cool, and the vote not be taken under the iufluence of the overwhelming sensibility which the orator had excited. This circumstance was in itself a tribute to the eloquence of Mr. Ames, far beyond what language can bestow. It was a confession, extorted from a political adversary, the most inexorable of human characters, that even the spirit of party was vanquished by his powers.
In the autumn of the same year, the college of Princeton, in consideration of his distinguished rank as a scholar and a statesman, conferred on Mr. Ames the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
His health being somewhat restored by regimen and travel, he was enabled to appear in the national legislature during the winter of 1796-7, although not to fill up his usual sphere in the duties of the house. Still, however, he was a leading member. The splendour of his former services had thrown around him unfading honours, and given him an ascendancy which little else than his presence was requisite to maintain. But even now he was far from being a silent spectator of events. In the debate which ensued on the answer of the house to the president's speech, he vindicated in a strain of the loftiest eloquence, and in a style of eulogy peculiar to himself, the claim of Washington to the unqualified love and gratitude of the nation.
On the close of this session, which was the last under the auspices of the Washington administration, Mr. Ames, having previously declined standing a candidate for congress, returned to the walks of private life. But it was his body alone that sought repose from public toils. His love of country continuing, as before, his predominant passion, and his mind still delighting to miogle in exercises where the eminent contend, he threw even now a large portion of light into the councils of the nation. Through the medium of the public prints, under various signatores, and in a style rich and fascinating, in an eminent degree, be imparted to his fellow citizens, from his private residence, as exquisite lessons of political wisdom, as had issued from his lips in the house of representatives. For several years his productions through this channel were multifarious and abundant. Al.
though generally written with great rapidity-frequently amidst the interruptions of a court-house, or the noise of a public inn, where he only rested for the night, they were always delightful and instructive, breathing the purest sentiments of patriotism, and hallowed by a spirit of enlightened philanthropy.
Among his compositions, during the period of his retirement, should be particularly noticed his eulogy on Washington, to the delivery of which he was appointed by the legislature of Massachusetts, and his masterly sketch of the character of Hamilton. He lived long enough to weep over the ashes, and to celebrate the praises, of these two wonderful statesmen and heroes; and, perhaps, of all men of the age, he was most worthy o so exalted an honour, because most competent to the task it imposed. His affection for the latter, and his sorrow and regret for his untimely fall, he pours forth in a style of sensibility and pathos, which nothing can exceed.
“ The tears,” says he, “that flow on this fond recital, will never dry up. My heart, penetrated with the remembrance of the man, grows liquid as I write, and I could pour it out like water. I could weep, too, for my country, which, mournful as it is, does not know the half of its loss. It deeply laments, when it turns its eyes back, and sees what Hamilton was; but iny soul stiffens with despair, when I think what Hamilton would have been. .
“His social affections and his private virtues are not, however, so properly the object of public attention, as the conspicuous and commanding qualities that gave him his fame and influence in the world. It is not as Apollo, enchanting the shepherds with his lyre, that we deplore him; it is as Hercules, treacherously slain in the midst of his unfinished labours, leaving the world overrun with monsters."
In the year 1804, Mr. Ames was chosen president of Harvard college. To the infinite regret, however, of that institution, the broken and precarious state of his health, conjoined with other considerations, which had no influence on any one but himself, prevented his acceptance of so responsible an office. The proper education of youth was a subject which always lay near to his heart. He considered it not merely as the principal ornament
of the cdifice, but as the only durable cement to hold the fabric of a representative government, not to say the very structure of society, together. Contrary, however, to the sentiments of others, he did not think his habits altogether such as were calculated to fit him for the chief of a college.
In relation to the closing years of the life of Mr. Ames, we find that we cannot do better than to copy the language of his biographer of Boston, who, as formerly stated, appears to have been in the number of his personal friends.
“ From 1795,” says this interesting writer, “his health continued to decline, with partial and flattering intermissions, till his death. He was a striking example of magnanimity and patience under suffering. Retaining always the vigour and serenity of his mind, he appeared to make those reflections which became his situation. When speaking of his first attack, he observes, “ I trust I realize the value of those habits of thinking, which I have cherished for some time. Sickness is not wholly useless to me. It has increased the warmth of my affection to my friends. It has taught me to make haste in forming the plan of my life, if it should be spared, more for private duties and social enjoyments, and less for the splendid emptiness of public station, than yet I have done.”
“ At length, continues his biographer, “after an extreme debility for two years, the frame which had so long tottered, was about to fall. With composure and dignity he saw the approach of his dissolution. He had many reasons for wishing to live. The summons came to demand of his noon of life the residue of a day which had been bright and fair; of his love of ne, the relinquishment of all that respect and honour, which the world solicited him to receive; of his patriotism, the termination of all his cares and labours for a country, which he loved with inextinguishable ardour; of conjugal affection, a separation from an object inexpressibly dear; of his parental tenderness, the surrender of his children to the chances and vicissitudes of life without his counsel and care.
" But these views of his condition did not sink his heart, which was sustained by pious confidence and hope. He appeared now what he always was, and rose in virtues in proportion to his trial, expressing the tenderest concern for those he should leave, and embracing in his solitude his country and mankind. He expired on the morning of the fourth of July, 1808. When the intelligence reached Boston, a meeting of the citizens was held, with a view to testify their respect for his character and services. In compliance with their request, his remains were brought to the capital for interment, at which an eulogy was pronounced by his early friend Mr. Dexter, and every mark of respectful notice was paid.
“ Funeral honours to public characters, being customary offices of decorum and propriety, are necessarily equivocal testimonies of esteem. But Mr. Ames was a private man, who was honoured because he was lamented. He was followed to the grave by a longer procession than has, perhaps, appeared on any similar occasion. It was a great assemblage, drawn by gratitude and admiration, around the bier of one exalted in their esteem by his preeminent gifts, and endeared to their hearts by the surpassing loveliness of his disposition.”
That Mr. Ames held a place in the foremost ranks of intel. lect, and is, in that respect, entitled to a conspicuous station in the temple of fame, those who knew him best are most ready to allow. Even his enemies-if, indeed, he left any behind himwill not deny, that he was endowed, in an eminent degree, with all the powers and qualities of a man of genius. Whatever his imagination conceived and his judgment approved, his fancy decorated in the most vivid colours, and his ardour carried home with irresistible effect.
Although eminent as a jurist, and still more so as a writer, he was most distinguished as a statesman, and an orator. The style of his eloquence was peculiar to himself. We know of no model, either ancient or modern, to which it can, in strict propriety, be compared. Too rich to borrow, and too proud to imitate, he looked into himself, and drew on his own resources for whatever the subject and occasion demanded. He sought, indeed, for information from every quarter; through the abundant channels of reading and conversation, no less than those of observation and reflection. But when knowledge once entered his mind, it experienced so many new combinations, and underwent such a thorough digestion, as to be completely assimilated to his own genius. Although it entered as knowledge derived from another, it soon took the character of the intellect it nourished, and went forth again, when required, to appear in a renovated, expanded, and more radiant form.
In relation to the modes of debate it pursued, and the abundance of instruments it was in the habit of using a more pregnant, plastic, and versatile mind perhaps never existed. Nature and art were alike tributary to its amazing resources. With an ease and velocity which we never, we think; witnessed in any other being, it would bound through the range of space from pole to pole, and from earth to heaven, returning fraught with the choicest lights and happiest allusions; with all that was rare, and new, and beautiful, as means in illustration of some topic of debate. Ca. pable of sporting with the lightest objects and of wielding the mightiest, it passed, with equal familiarity, from the dew-drop to the ocean, and from the whispering of the breeze, to the roar of the elements. As circumstances demanded, its subject appeared either in a dress, “simpler munditüs," elegantly simple, or clothed in a style of oriental magnificence.
In the different views entertained on the subject by different individuals, the oratory of Mr. Ames has been compared successively to that of most of the distinguished speakers, both ancient and modern-to the oratory, in particular, of Burke and Chatham, Cicero and Demosthenes. He has been even said, to have formed himself on the model of each of these illustrious standards in eloquence. The criticism is, in both its branches, erroneous. The oratory of Mr. Ames, although equally lofty, was less gorgeous than that of Burke, less full and swelling than that of Cicero, and, though somewhat similar in its sententiousness, energy, and point, less vehement and abrupt than that of Chatham or Demosthenes. In unstudied ornament, striking antithesis, fertility of allusion, and novelty of combination, it was certainly far superior to either. Nor is it just to the reputation of Mr. Ames, to represent him as an imitator of either British, Roman, or Grecian eloquence. That he was familiar with the best models of the art, which every age and country have produced, will not be denied. He studied them, however, not with a