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would say—this man, who attacks me, appears young, athletic, active and violent. I am feeble and incapable of resisting him; he has a heavy cane, which is undoubtedly a strong one, as he had leisure to select it for the purpose; he may intend to kill me; he may, from the violence of his passion, destroy me without intending it; he may maim or greatly injure me; by beating me he must disgrace me. This alone destroys all my prospects, all my happiness, and all my usefulness. Where shall I fly, when thus rendered contemptible : Shall I go abroad 7 Every one will point at me the finger of scorn. Shall I go home? My children—I have taught them to shrink from dishonor; will they call me father ? What is life to me, after suffering this outrage? Why should I endure this accumulated wretchedness, which is worse than death, rather than put in hazard the life of my enemy? Ask yourselves whether you would not make use of any weapon that might be within your power to repel the injury; and if it should hap
pen to be a pistol, might you not, with sincere feeling of piety, call on the Father of Mercies to direct the stroke?
While we reverence the precepts of Christianity, let us not make them void by impracticable construction. They cannot be set in opposition to the law of our nature; they are a second edition of that law; they both proceed from the same Author.
Gentlemen, all that is dear to the defendant, in his future life, is by the law of his country placed in your power. He cheerfully leaves it there. Hitherto he has suffered all that his duty as a good citizen required, with fortitude and patience; and if more be yet in store for him, he will exhibit to his accusers an example of patient submission to the laws. Yet permit me to say, in concluding his defence, that he feels full confidence that your verdict will terminate his sufferings.”
* The Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
John QUINCY, the son of John and Abigail Adams, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, on the eleventh of July, 1767.* The years of his boyhood were spent at home, under the immediate supervision of his excellent mother, who taught him to read, and directed his thoughts to subjects of piety, patriotism and morality—characteristics for which he was eminently distinguished throughout his long and eventful life. On the appointment of his father, in 1777, as one of the commissioners to the court of Versailles, he accompanied him to Paris, where he arrived in April of the following year. Soon after reaching Paris he was placed at school, where he devoted himself with uncommon industry to the acquisition of the native language, at the same time perfecting himself in the usual classical branches. After an absence of eighteen months he returned to America, but to remain for a short time only.
In November, 1779, his father was appointed by Congress a minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, and on the thirteenth of that month he embarked for France, taking with him his two eldest sons, John Quincy and Charles. After a protracted and tempestuous voyage, the frigate in which they were passengers' was obliged to put into the port of Ferrol, in Spain, from whence they travelled over land to Paris. Here young John Quincy again commenced his studies, which he continued until his removal to Amsterdam. At the latter place he attended school for a few months, and finally entered the University of Leyden, “to learn Latin and Greek under the distinguished teachers there, and to attend the lectures of the celebrated professors in the University.” The reasons of this last transfer are evident in the following remarks of John Adams: “I should not wish to have children educated in the common schools of this country, where a littleness of soul is notorious. The masters are mean-spirited wretches; punishing, kicking and boxing the children upon every turn. There is a general littleness arising from the contemplation of stivers and doits. Frugality and industry are virtues every where, but avarice and stinginess are not frugality.”
In 1781, at the age of fourteen, John Quincy Adams accompanied Mr. Francis Dana, on his mission to Russia, and subsequently became his private secretary. At St. Petersburg he remained until October, 1782, when he again joined his father in Holland. From this place he journeyed to Paris, was present at the signing of the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States; and afterwards visited England, Holland and France, whither his father was called during his diplomatic career. At London he enjoyed the society of the most eminent of the British statesmen, was introduced to the floor of the House of Parliament, and attended the debates, in which Burke, Sheridan, Fox and others took part. With every one he was a favorite, and his uncommon precocity attracted the attention of the eminent men, who, at that time, adorned the councils of both nations. Jefferson, then minister at Paris, wrote to Eldridge Gerry—“I congratulate your country on their prospect in this young man: ” while others gave evidence of the respect they held for his talents and attainments. He returned to Boston in 1785, bearing with him the subjoined letter, from his father to Benjamin Waterhouse, from which a just estimate of his acquirements can be formed:
* He was named John Quincy, from the following circumstances: His mother was the daughter of the Rev. William Smith, pastor of the Congregational Church, in the town of Weymouth. The wife of Mr. Smith, the maternal grandmother of John Quincy Adams, was Elizabeth, a daughter of John Quincy, who is mentioned by Hutchinson as the owner of Mount Wollaston, had shared largely in the civil and military distinctions of his time and country, and in honor of him the present town of Quincy received its name. Mr. Quincy died a few hours after the birth of Mr. Adams, and at the special request of the grandmother, the name of her father, then lying dead, was given to the infant, who was baptized the next day, in the Congregational Church of the parish of Braintree.—Upham.
Auteuil, 24 April, 1785.
This letter will be delivered you by your old acquaintance John Quincy Adams, whom I beg leave to recommend to your attention and favor. He is anxious to study some time at your University before he begins the study of the law, which appears at present to be the profession of his choice. He must undergo an examination, in which I suspect he will not appear exactly what he is. In truth, there are few who take their degrees at college, who have so much knowledge. But his studies having been pursued by himself, on his travels, without any steady tutor, he will be found awkward in speaking Latin, in prosody, in parsing, and even, perhaps, in that
accuracy of pronunciation in reading orations or poems in that language, which is often chiefly
attended to in such examinations. It seems to be necessary, therefore, that I make this apology for him to you, and request you to communicate it in confidence to the gentlemen who are to examine him, and such others as you think prudent. If you were to examine him in English and French poetry, I know not where you would find anybody his superior; in Roman and English history, few persons of his age. It is rare to find a youth possessed of so much knowledge. He has translated Virgil's AEneid, Suetonius, the whole of Sallust, and Tacitus's Agricola, his Germany, and several books of his Annals, a great part of Horace, some of Ovid, and some of Caesar's Commentaries, in writing, besides a number of Tully's orations. These he may show you; and although you will find the translations in many places inaccurate in point of style, as must be expected at his age, you will see abundant proof that it is impossible to make those translations without understanding his authors and their language very well. In Greek his progress has not been equal; yet he has studied morsels in Aristotle's Poetics, in Plutarch's Lives, and Lucian's Dialogues, the choice of Hercules, in Xenophon, and lately he has gone through several books in Homer's Iliad. In mathematics I hope he will pass muster. In the course of the last year, instead of playing cards like the fashionable world, I have spent my evenings with him. We went with some accuracy through the geometry in the Preceptor, the eight books of Simpson's Euclid in Latin, and compared it, problem by problem, and theorem by theorem, with le père de Chales in French; we went through plane trigonometry and plane-sailing, Fenning's Algebra, and the decimal fractions, arithmetical and geometrical proportions, and the conic sections, in Ward's Mathematics. I then attempted a sublime flight, and endeavored to give him some idea of the differential method of calculation of the Marquis de L'Hôpital, and the method of fluxions and infinite series of Sir Isaac Newton; but alas ! it is thirty years since I thought of mathematics, and I found I had lost the little I once knew, especially of these higher branches of geometry, so that he is as yet but a smatterer, like his father. However, he has a foundation laid, which will enable him with a year's attendance on the mathematical professor, to make the necessary proficiency for a degree. "He is studious enough, and emulous enough, and when he comes to mix with his new friends and young companions, he will make his way well enough. I hope he
will be upon his guard against those airs of superiority among the scholars, which his larger ac
quaintance with the world, and his manifest superiority in the knowledge of some things, may but too naturally inspire into a young mind, and I beg of you, Sir, to be his friendly monitor in this respect and in all others.
In March, 1786, he entered the junior class of Harvard College, and the following year took his first degree. He now removed to Newburyport, and commenced the study of law in the office of the celebrated Theophilus Parsons,” afterwards chief justice of Massachusetts, and on finishing his course, established himself at Boston. Here, besides attending to the duties of his profession, he devoted himself to the discussion of the great political questions of the day. In 1791, his essays, over the signature of Publicola, appeared in the Boston Centinel. In these papers he reviewed some portions of Paine's Rights of Man, and questioned the ultimate success of the French Revolution. His essays signed Marcellus, in which he advocated the policy of neutrality subsequently adopted by President Washington, were pubished in April, 1793. In the following winter he published another series of papers, sustaining the course of President Washington in reference to the French Minister, Genet. These productions attracted the favorable attention of the President, and, in 1796, Mr. Adams was sent on a mission to the Netherlands. During the next seven years he was in Europe, occupied in the several diplomatic missions to Holland, England, and Prussia. President Washington, a short time prior to his retirement, appointed him Minister to Portugal; but before he arrived at his post his destination was changed to Berlin. He continued there from the autumn of 1797, until April, 1801, during which period he concluded an important commercial treaty with that government. In September, 1801, he returned to America, soon after was elected to the Senate of his native State, and in March, 1804, took his seat in the United States Senate, having been elected to that honorable station by the legislature of Massachusetts. While a senator in Congress, he was appointed Pro| fessor of Oratory and Rhetoric in Harvard College. In 1808, he resigned his seat in the Senate, and was shortly after sent by President Madison as Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia. His services at the Russian court were of the highest importance. “By his instrumentality,” says his biographer, “the Emperor of Russia was induced to mediate for peace between Great Britain and the United States.” President Madison named him at the head of the commissioners sent to negotiate the treaty which terminated the war of 1812. On the conclusion of that treaty, Mr. Adams proceeded to London, where, with Henry Clay and Albert Gallatin, he negotiated a convention of commerce between the United States and Great Britain. He was subsequently appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James. In 1817, he returned to the United States, and assumed the chair of Secretary of State, under the administration of President Monroe. Here he continued eight years, discharging the duties of his office with the highest ability and success, and greatly increasing his reputation as a statesman and patriot. In 1825, he was elected President of the United States. How well he discharged the duties of this position is familiar to all. On retiring, at the end of his presidential term, he remained out of public life until 1831, when he was elected to the lower House of Congress, where he remained, constantly and assiduously devoted to the interests of his country and his fellow-men, until his death. His services, while in Congress, are too numerous and too intimately connected with the history of his country, to require but a passing notice in the present sketch.
* To ophilus Parsons, the son of a clergyman, was a native of Byfleld, Massachusetts, where he was born in the month 750. He was educated at Harvard College, kept school at Portland, and was admitted to the practice of law at that place. When Portland was burnt, he returned to his father's at Byfield. The learned Judge Trowbridge, who lived in Cambridge, retired to the same town during the war, and carried with him his law library. Mr. Parsons availed himself of the Judge's books and conversation; and studied so intently as to impair his health, and to make the continnance of his life exceedingly precarious for many years. He became an invalid, very thin in person, and an afflicted hypochondriac. After the war he opened an office in Newburyport, and soon rose to eminence. He afterwards removed to Boston. In 1806, on the resignation of Chief Justice Dana, he was appointed to the vacated station, and held it to the close of his life, October 80th, 1813. “He was the most learned lawyer of his time, and was called the giant of the law. He comprised in his professional attainments, among other things, a full and accurate knowledge of the common law, civil, maritime, and ecclesiastical law, the law merchant, the statute and common law of his own country, and the law of nations. He retained all the learning which he thought it necessary to acquire, and from the methodical order of his mind, all he knew was ever familiarly at his command. His speeches to juries and judges were neither eloquent nor elegant, in anything but pertinency and argument. They were never long, and he was among the few who could discern when they have said enough for their purpose. His eloquence was earnestness, his manner easy, familiar, persuasive, and never vehement. His memory was his brief, and the best one that a lawyer can use. His career on the bench was an era in judicial ability, and in despatch of business. It would be assuming too much to pronounce on the character of his judgments. Very few of them have not been approved by the able minds which have since been employed on the same subjects. Some of them have been especially respected for their explanatory and illustrative notice of what may be distinguished as the common law of the State.” He was a finished Greek scholar and mathematician, and delighted in the current literature of the day. During his whole life he was an habitual student. It was his habit to sit and study from twelve to fifteen hours a day; and this without exercise or relaxation. In private life he was social, fond of good stories, and told them well, full of anecdote, and quick at repartee.—Sullivan's Familiar Letters.
Mr. Adams was not merely a statesman. His literary productions are numerous, and evince the vigor of his mind, thoroughly conversant with the subject it investigates, and his singularly retentive and capacious memory. While in Russia, he contributed a series of letters to the Port Folio, a periodical published in Philadelphia, entitled Journal of a Tour through Silesia. These were afterwards collected and republished in a volume, and met with a very flattering reception from the public. At a later period, they were translated into French and German. In 1810, he published his Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory, delivered to the classes of senior and junior Sophisters in Harvard University, and in 1832, offered to the literary public a long poetical composition, entitled “Dermot Mac Morrogh; or, the Conquest of Ireland,” which was intended as a “moral tale, teaching the citizens of the United States, of both sexes, the virtues of conjugal fidelity, of genuine piety, and of devotion to their country, by pointing the finger of scorn at the example, six hundred years since exhibited, of a country sold to a foreign invader by the joint agency of violated marriage vows, unprincipled ambition, and religious imposture.”
In 1839, Mr. Adams delivered an address before the New York Historical Society, on the occasion of the semi-centennial anniversary of the ratification of the Federal Constitution. This production was published, soon after its delivery, under the title of The Jubilee of the Constitution. He also delivered numerous other discourses, among which, those on Madison, Lafayette and Monroe, were published, with a sketch of the author by the Rev. Charles W. Upham, in 1846. His Poems of Religion and Society appeared in 1848, and in 1850, a small volume of letters, written to his son, On the Bible and its Teachings. In addition to these literary labors, he published, in 1831–33, a series of papers, condemning the principles of Free-Masonry; translated Wieland's Oberon in verse, and, it is said, left at his death a complete paraphrase of the sacred psalms.
On Monday, the twenty-first of February, 1848, in the midst of his duties at his seat in the House of Representatives he was struck by the hand of death. When the House had been in session about an hour, the yeas and nays being ordered on a question, he responded in a voice unsually clear, and with more than ordinary emphasis. The painful scene that followed is thus described in the National Intelligencer of the following morning: “Just after the yeas and nays were taken on a question, and the speaker had just risen to put another question to the House, a sudden cry was heard on the left of the chair, ‘Mr. Adams is dying!' Turning our eyes to the spot, we beheld the venerable man in the act of falling over the left arm of his chair, while his right arm was extended, grasping his desk for support. He would have dropped upon the floor had he not been caught in the arms of the member sitting next to him. A great sensation was created in the House ; members from all quarters rushing from their seats and gathering round the fallen statesman, who was immediately lifted into the area in front of the clerk's table. The speaker instantly suggested that some gentleman move an adjournment, which being promptly done, the House adjourned. A sofa was brought, and Mr. Adams, in a state of perfect helplessness, though not of entire insensibility, was gently laid upon it. The sofa was then taken up and borne out of the Hall into the Rotunda, where it was set down, and the members of both Houses and strangers, who were fast crowding around, were with some difficulty repressed, and an open space cleared in its immediate vicinity. It was now advised that he be removed to the door of the Rotunda opening on the east portico, where a fresh wind was blowing. This was done; but the air being chilly and loaded with vapor, the sofa was once more taken up and removed to the Speaker's apartment, the doors of which were forthwith closed to all out professional gentlemen and particular friends. While lying in this apartment, Mr. Adams partially recovered the use of his speech, and observed, in faltering accents, “This is the end of earth; but quickly added, ‘I am composed.’” Soon after he sank into a state of apparent insensibility, and failing gradually, until the evening of February the twenty-third, at a quarter past seven o'clock he expired.