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hood and youth astray, and made his studies his chief delight. He manifested a maturity of judgment, a clearness of conception, and a depth of thought rarely exhibited in juvenile life. At the age of fourteen years he entered the university of Edinburgh, where he fully sustained the high anticipations of his friends, and gained the esteem and admiration of his fellow students and the professors. His acquirements in the theological department were of a superior order. At the age of twenty-one, he passed the ordeal of his final examination, and received a license to proclaim to the world the glad tidings of the everlasting Gospel.
He immediately became the assistant of his revered father, and gained the affection and confidence of his parishioners, and the admiration of all who heard him and delighted in plain practical piety.
In 1746, on the 17th of January, he was a "looker on in Venice" at the battle of Falkirk, and was seized by the victorious rebels, with many others whose curiosity
had led them to the scene of action, and imprisoned in the castle of Doune. After he was released from this confinement, he resided a few years at Beith, and subsequently at Paisly, rendering himself highly useful as a faithful and exemplary preacher. During his residence at the latter place, he received urgent calls from the people of Dublin, Rotterdam and Dundee, in Europe; and an invitation to accept of the presidential chair of the college of New Jersey, in America, to which, at the suggestion of Richard Stockton, then in London, he was elected on the 19th of November, 1766. A general demurrer was entered against his acceptance by his numerous relations and friends, with whom his wife at first participated. The delights of his native home and the horrors of the American wilderness, were held up before him in fearful contrast. A bachelor relation of his, who was very wealthy, offered to will to him his large fortune if he would decline the solicitation of the trustees of the college. For more than a year
he refused to accept of the invitation. During that time, his lady caught what was called “the missionary fever,” and not only freely consented to embark for the new world, but exerted herself to remove every impeding obstacle. On the 9th of December of the following year, Mr. Stockton had the pleasure of communicating to the board of trustees the acceptance of Dr. Witherspoon, which was most joyfully received.
He arrived with his family in the early part of the ensuing August, and on the 17th of that month was inaugurated at Princeton. His literary fame, which had been previously spread through the colonies, gained an immediate accession of students to the institution, and gave a new impetus to its action, although it had been ably conducted by his worthy predecessors. The high reputation of the new president gave him an extensive influence, of which he prudently availed himself to resuscitate and replenish the empty treasury of the college by obtaining donations from private and public sources. He also introduced the most thorough and harmonious system throughout all its departments, and fully answered the most sanguine anticipations of his warmest friends. His mode of instruction was calculated
to expand the ideas of his students, and launch them upon the sea of reflection and investigation. He dispelled the dogmatical and bewildering clouds of metaphysical fatality and contingency, and of unmeaning and abstruse physiology, that hung like an incubus over the old schools. He illumined their understandings with the rays of scientific truth, founded upon enlightened philosophy, sound reason, plain common sense, and liberal principles. He taught his pupils to explore the labyrinthian mazes of human nature, and the revolving circuit of their own immortal minds. He raised before them the curtain of the material, moral, physical and intellectual world; and delineated, by lucid demonstration, their harmonious connection and unity, perfected by the grand architect of this mighty machinery made
He pointed out to them the duties they owed to themselves, their fellow men, their country, and their God. He imbued their souls with charity, the golden chain that reaches from earth to Heaven: He taught them how to live and be useful, and how to throw off their mortal coil, when called to "that country from whose bourne no traveller returns.” His instructions were luminous and enriching; his precepts were fertilizing to every mind on which they fell, capable of receiving an impression.
On the flood tide of a high and merited literary and theological fame, Dr. Witherspoon floated peacefully along, until the revolutionary storm drove him from his citadel of classics and the pulpit of his church to a different sphere of action. Before he immigrated to America he understood well the relations between the mother country and the colonies. He was master of civilian philosophy, international law, monarchial policy, and the principles of rational freedom. The enrapturing beauties of liberty, and the hideous deformities of tyranny, passed in review before his gigantic mind. In the designs of creative wisdom he saw the equal rights of man and determined to vindicate them. He at once took a bold stand in favour of his adopted country. With an eagle's flight he mounted the pinnacle of political fame; with a statesman's eye he calmly surveyed the mighty work to be performed by Columbia's sons. The plan of political regeneration and independence stood approved by Heaven, and he resolved to lend his aid in the glorious cause. Most nobly did he perform his part.
From the commencement of the revolution he was a member of various committees and conventions formed for the purpose of seeking redress from the king, by peaceable means if possible, by forcible means if it became necessary. He was a member of the Convention of New Jersey that formed its republican constitution of 1776. On the 20th of June of the same year, he was elected to the Continental Congress, and advocated, by his powerful and eloquent reasoning, the declaration of our rights, to which he affixed his name, appealing to his God for the approval of the act, and to the world for the justice of the cause he espoused. He was continued a member of that gust body until 1782, with the exception of one year, and contributed largely in shedding lustre over its deliberations. With a mind and intelligence able to grasp, comprehend, and expound the whole
minutiæ of legislation and government, he combined a patriotic devotion and holy zeal for the interests of his bleeding country. His labours were incessant, his industry was untiring, his perseverance was unyielding, and his patriotism was as pure as the crystal fountain or pellucid stream.
During the time he served in the legislative halls, he did not neglect the higher honours of the vineyard of his Lord and Master. He was often at the family altar, in the closet and in the pulpit; and was esteemed as one of the most able, eloquent, and profound preachers of that eventful period. He was one of the brightest ornaments of the religion of Christ, and one of the strongest advocates of the cause of liberty. As a speaker, he was listened to with deep interest; as a logical and systematic debater he had few equals. His arguments were aposteriori, apriori and afortiori; leading the mind from effect to cause, from cause to effect, and deducing the stronger reasons. His memory was remarkably retentive, his judgment acute, and his perceptions clear. He was a member of the secret committee of Congress, the duties of which were arduous and delicate. He was a member of the committee appointed to cooperate with general Washington in replenishing and regulating the army; of the committee of finance, and of various other and important committees. Several eloquent appeals to the people from Congress recommending special days to be set apart for public fasting and prayer, were from his nervous and vigorous pen." The melting and burning manifesto, protesting against the inhuman and barbarous treatment of the American prisoners confined on board the filthy prison ships at New York, was supposed to have been written by him. From his mode of reflecting and reasoning, Dr. Witherspoon was prophetic in pointing out the results of propositions laid before Congress, and opposed all those that he believed would terminate unfavourably. Against the emission of continental paper money he strongly remonstrated. His predictions of its depreciation were soon verified. In March, 1778, one dollar and three quarters of paper money were worth but one silver dollar; one year from that time the rate was two for one; in five months after it was eighteen for one; the next year it was forty for one; shortly after, seventy-five for one; and in a few more months, one hundred and fifty for one; and finally became worthless.
Most of the measures he proposed when he commenced his career in Congress were either then or subsequently adopted with success, and those that he opposed unsuccessfully, terminated unfortunately in almost every instance. So closely and deeply did he investigate and probe every subject that came before him, that his powers of penetration became proverbial.
Whether in the halls of classic literature, the ecclesiastical courts, or upon the floor of Congress, he was a shining light to those around him. His literary, political, and theological writings was numerous, of a high order, and are justly celebrated in Europe as well as in this country. They exhibit a pleasing and rich variety of thought; a strong and brilliant imagination; a luminous and flowing fancy; a keen and sarcastic wit; a chaste and fascinating style; broad and liberal views; philosophic and reasonable propositions; clear and convincing conclusions; all softened and embalmed by heaven-born charity and universal philanthropy,
At the close of the session of Congress in 1779, he was induced to resign his seat in consequence of his ill health, and a serious affection of the nerves, producing dizziness, that sometimes suddenly prostrated him. Being relieved from the more arduous duties of superintending the college at Princeton by the vice president, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Smith, his son-in-law, he sought the enjoyments of retirement. These were allowed to him but a brief period. In a little more than a year he was again elected to Congress, and when he finally resigned in 1782, he was shortly after persuaded by the trustees of the college, at the age of sixty, to embark for England for the purpose of obtaining funds to aid the seminary over which
he presided. His exertions were laudable, but his mission unsuccessful." He opposed the project as visionary before he started; he demonstrated the correctness of his opinion when he returned in 1784.
He then retired to his country seat about one mile from Princeton, there to participate in the blessings of peace, of liberty, of independence, and of fame, the golden fruits that had been richly earned by years of peril and of toil. Surrounded by fond relatives and devoted friends; enjoying the gratitude and praise of a nation of freemen; his name immortalized as a civilian, a statesman, a patriot, a scholar, and a divine, he could sit down beneath the bright mantle of a pure conscience and an approving Heaven; and, through the bright vista of the future, gaze upon a crown of enduring glory, prepared for him in realms of bliss beyond the skies. He was peaceful and happy.
In this manner he glided down the stream of life until the 15th of November, 1794, when he fell asleep in the arms of his Lord and Master, calm as a summer morning, serene as the etherial sky, welcoming the messenger of death with a seraphic smile. His remains rest in the church yard at Princeton.
A review of the life of this great and good man, affords an instructive lesson worthy to be engraven upon the heart of every reader. He was endowed with all the qualities calculated to ennoble and dignify the creature, and assimilate him to the Creator. His superior virtues completely eclipsed his human frailties, and placed him on a lofty eminence beyond the reach of envy, malice, or slander. His fame, in all its varied and refulgent hues, spreads a lustre over his name that will brighten and shine until the last death knell of liberty shall be sounded, and social order shall be lost in the devouring whirlpool of chaos.
In all the relations of private and public life, he stood approved, admired, and revered. Let us all endeavour to imitate his examples of virtue, the crowning glory of talent, that our lives may be useful in time, and our final exit tranquil and happy.
THOMAS LYNCH, JR.
REVOLUTIONARY struggles, predicated solely upon political ambition and partisan principles, often produce the most bitter persecution between those whose ties of consanguinity and friendship are seldom severed by other incidents. To the credit of our nation, instances of this kind were very rare during the struggle for American independence. In the field of battle, sire and son fought shoulder to shoulder; in the public assemblies, they united their eloquence in rousing the people to action.
A pleasing illustration of the mutual devotion of father and son to the same glorious object, is found in the history of THOMAS LYNCH, Jr., and bis venerable parent. Their paternal ancestors were of Austrian descent, and highly respectable. The branch of the family from which the subject of the present sketch descended, removed to Kent in England, from thence to Ireland, a son of which, Jonack Lynch, emigrated from Connaught to South Carolina, in the early part of its settlement. He was the great-grandfather of Thomas Lynch, jr., and was a man of liberal views and of pure morality. Thomas Lynch, the father of the subject of this brief narrative, was his youngest son, and imbibed, at an early age, the patriotic feelings that rendered bim conspicuous at the commencement of the revolution. By his industry and enterprise in agricultural pursuits he amassed a large fortune, and was able and disposed to give this, his only son, a superior education.
Thomas Lynch, jr., was born upon the plantation of his father on the bank of the North Santa river, in the parish of Prince George, South Carolina, on the 5th of August, 1749. In early childhood he was deprived of the maternal care of his fond mother, who was the daughter of Mr. Alston, by relentless death. At a proper age he was placed at the Indigo Society School, then in successful operation at Georgetown in his native state, where some of the most eminent sages of the southern colonies received their education.
Warmed by the genial rays of the sun of science the germ of the young mind of Thomas Lynch, jr. soon burst from its embryo state, and exhibited a pleasing and luxuriant growth. His progress in the exploration of the fields of literature was creditable to himself and highly gratifying to his indulgent parent and numerous friends. So rapid was his improvement, that at the early age of thirteen, his father placed him at the famous school at Eton, Buckinghamshire, England, founded by Henry VI., where he commenced his classical studies. After completing his course there, he was entered as a gentleman commoner in the University of Cambridge, where he became a finished scholar and an accomplished gentleman, esteemed and respected by all who knew him. He then had his name entered in the Law Tem