« PredošláPokračovať »
generally imitated, and that, bereafter, and, while he strenuously supported the remains of departed worth will be the dignity of the government, be, in either quietly inurn’d,' or deplored in connexion with his distinguished coad
jutors,* overtbrew the dominion of a manner not to aggravate affliction.
false taste; both in composition and We shall avail ourselves of Professor elocution, and, a standard both of poetry Silliman's execution of a task we should, and prose, pure, classical, and dignified, otherwise, have undertaken ourselves, was established. and shall offer no apology to the reader thor's most considerable poetical work,
• The CONQUEST of Canaan, the aufor the length of our extracts from so was commenced at the age of nineinteresting a biography. We have co- teen, and finished during bis residence pied no more of it, however, than was
a tulor, the greater part of
which period it, in some degree, occuabsolutely necessary to make the narra
pied. His mind must, therefore, have tive continuous.
been much employed, in poetical stu· Dr. Dwight was born at Northamp- dies, at the very time when he was ton on the 14th of May, 1752. using every effort to promote a just
• The earliest indications of his child- taste in fine writing. bood were those of talent and supe- • It appears that Mr. Dwight was adriority. From the age of four years, mitted a member of the College Church, when instructed 'chiefly by maternal in 1774, at the age of twenty-three. care, he was able to read fuently in • It is worthy of commemoration that the Bible, the proofs of his intellectual President Dwight was, from early life, a superiority became more and more lover of sacred music: he even cultievident;-and, it may, with truth be rated it as a science, and several ansaid, that, during sixty years, he con- thems, and other musical compositions, stantly excited and gratified the most executed wbile he was a tutor, and at ardent hopes, and deserved and com- various subsequent periods of bis life, manded the most active esteem and ad- have received a general adoption in miration.
our sacred assemblies. His vocal pow• This College enjoys the honour of ers were also superior, and he took having given him his academic educa- much delight in joining in this part of tion, which, at the early age of seven public worship. teen, he completed; and such was the • He composed an anthem, adapted maturity and promise of his character, to Dr. Waits' version of the xcii. that at nineteen he entered on the re- Psalm ; and, it may not be improper to sponsible duties of a tutor.
meniion, even in this serious connexion, • From the year 1765, to 1770, that he composed music for several of vigorous exertions had been made, by his smaller poetical productions. The several superior men in the government, patriotism of bis countrymen, during to raise the standard of moral senti- the American Revolution, was not a ment and manners, to invigorate relax- little excited by his muse and by his ed discipline, and to create a good rhe- lyre; adapted, in some cases, to the torical taste among the students. tone of cultivated minds, and, others,
Their efforts, made under circum- to the less refined taste of the soldiery. stances peculiarly inauspicious, were
• At the close of his tutorial career, in still, in some good degree, successful. 1777, Mr. Dwight, who was an ardent No efforts could have been more con- lover of his country, and a devoted sonant to the views of our departed friend to its liberties, went into the bead. On bis accession, to the office army, as chaplain, in the brigade of of tutor, in 1771, he entered into, and General Parsons, and division of Geseconded them, with his whole heart; * Trumbull, Humphreys, and others.
neral Putnam. The year which he at Northampton, his talents were called spent in the army, as it brought him into action in the sphere of political into a scene entirely new ;-into per- life. In the year 1782, he served the sonal contact with many of the great citizens of that town, as their represenactors in that eventful period; and tative, in the General Court of the with all the varieties of the human Commonwealth, convened in Boston. character, impelled to action by the • The situation of the country being grand machinery of war; contributed very critical, two long sessions were more, perhaps, than any similar period held, in which Mr. Dwight gained great of his life, to extend his knowledge of influence, as a member, and much rethe world, and to mature his capacity putation as a public speaker. He was for usefulness. In after life, he often solicited, by men of eminence, to allow adverted to his connexion with the himself to be named as a candidate for army, and drew, from his experience a seat in Congress, then in the gift of and observations during that period, the Massachusetts Legislature, and it many topics of remark and instruction, seems evident, that had Providence fruitful in the illustration of the human allotted him a station in the political character. While in the army he took world, he would have risen to the highevery proper opportunity of insinuating est usefulness and distinction. instruction, in the bappiest manner, into • He had, originally, studied the law, the minds of the younger officers and with the intention of making it his prosoldiers: he was compassionately atten- fession, and, had he been actuated by tive to those who were under sentence the love of money, or by political amof death, endeavouring to prepare them bition, his way would probably have for this solemn event, and was some- been clear, to the gratification of the times gratified by receiving their thanks one, and the attainment of the other. when a pardon had saved them from be- • During his short connexion with
2.poing sent, prematurely, to their account. litical life, he repeatedly exerted his
* The death of his father, A. D. 1777, influence in the county meetings of in a remote part of the continent, to Hampshire, in favour of law and order, which business bad led him, now cast then threatened with subversion ; and upon Mr. Dwight the care of a nume. he was eminently instrumental, and rous family, of brothers and sisters, that against no small weight of cha(of whom he was the eldest) for whose racter and effort, in procuring the adopimmediate support and education, and tion of the new constitution of Massaultimate establishment in life, it was in. chusetts. cumbent on him chiefly to provide. Both his inclination and his views of His connexion with the army was, duty led him to the pulpit; about this therefore, dissolved, and, during the time be declined offers of settlement, four or five succeeding years, he was both at Beverly and at Charlestown. most laboriously employed, at North- • Towards the close of the year 1783, ampton, in the discharge of the highest he accepted an invitation from the peofilial and fraternal duties, while a com- ple of Greenfield, in this State, to bemencing family of his own, also, de- come their minister, and was establishmanded his care.
ed there accordingly. During nearly • Some superior minds seem capable thirteen years, that he remained there, of excelling, in almost any pursuit, de- he enjoyed great celebrity, as a preachpending upon intellectual vigour, and, er, as an instructor of youth, and as an the particular direction which they ac- individual. tually receive, appears often to arise • It was, during his residence at from intrinsic circumstances.
Greenfield, in the year 1785, that he • During the residence of Mr. Dwight gave his Conquest of Canaan to the
world. It was finished, and was to • Dr. Dwight had now arrived at the have been published about the com- forty-third year of his age. In the memencement of the American revolution. ridian of life-mature in experience A list of more than three thousand sub- and in reputation ; long practised in scribers-(a subscription almost unpa- the difficult task of instructing and goralleled in tbis country for any book, verning youth ; familiar with the courses and especially at that period) evinces of academic learning, and imbued in what estimation the author was with the principles of most branches held.—The dangers of the country of human knowledge ;-also possessing soon became, however, so imminent, powers of communication, almost unthat fear and patriotism absorbed every rivalled, and bis whole character surother sentiment; and the promised rounded with great dignity and splenwork was kept back till the struggle dour, the public voice with unprecewas past.
dented unanimity, designated to him • The Conquest of Canaan was the to fill the presidential chair, in this sefirst regular poem of magnitude which minary, which, in May, 1795, was vawas written in this country, and exhi- cated, by the death of the learned and bits the most indubitable proofs of a venerable Dr. Stiles. vigorous mind,-a rich and sublime • The Corporation, at an early meetinnagination, and a pure and virtuous ing after this event, elected bim presimoral taste. Darwin pronounced it to dent; and he commenced the next colcontain fine versification-Cowper pe- legiate year in the discharge of the rused it with pleasure, and the British duties of his high office.. Critic bestowed upon it an honourable We are now to contemplate him in praise. A fair copy, fully written out, a new and most interesting situation.-in the beautiful hand for which the au. It seemed as if all the dispensations of thor was, in early life, distinguished, is providence towards him had been still in possession of his fainily, and will, adapted to qualify him for the station in doubtless, be preserved for the inspec- which, with the most distinguished retion of posterity.
putation and usefulness, he was to pass • It does not come within the design the remainder of his days. of these remarks, to specify every pro- • The public have been little aware duction of a mind so remarkable for of the extent and diversity of the laactivity, fertility, and vigour; this may, bours of President Dwight, in this Inhereafter, become the province of the stitution. He has, in fact, discharged professed biographer.
the duties of four offices, either of wbich • The last work of magnitude to is, ordinarily, considered as sufficient which Greenfield Hill gave birth, is the to engross the time and talents of one poem, or collection of poems, bearing man. its name.
· His system of sermons, upon the • Both Greenfield Hill and the Con- composition of which he bestowed the quest of Canaan, were republished in most anxious care, and the completion England in a handsome style.
of which he had very much at heart, • The degree of Doctor of Divinity is comprised in one hundred and sevenwas conferred upon the subject of these ty-three discourses, completely written observations, A. D. 1787, by the col- out, and ready for the press. Provi. lege of Nassau-Hall, at Princeton, as dence permitted bim to achieve this that of Doctor of Laws was, in 1810, great labour, and to put the last finishby Harvard University.
ing hand to it not long before his • Not long before Dr. Dwight left death. Greenfield be declined an advantageous
· His ardent wish and endeavour was, proposal to remove to Albany. to narrow the grounds of distinction be
tween different classes of Christians, thought nothing adequately done, till and to unite them all in the great work all was done that the case adınitted of doing good to man, rendering honour of. to God, and seeking eternal life.
• As a Governor of the College, the • It would be superfluous to enter success of President Dwight has not been into a consideration of his system of less remarkable than his usefulness as sermons ;-multitudes, both members an instructor. In commending his sysof this institution, and others, have ten of discipline and government, no heard them, more or less extensively, censure is intended to be implied, with and, as they are left in a finished state, respect to the course which had been and will, we hope, not be long withheld pursued by his immediate predecessors. from the public, they will still speak It is but just, however, to say, that for themselves. :
the experience of more than twenty• In the period immediately preced- one years bas proved, that a great seing the presidency of Dr. Dwight, the minary may be governed upon the same college church among the students principles as a private family ; and alwas almost extinct; it came, at last, to though the parallelism may not hold, in consist of only two members, and soon every particular and every degree, it is after his accession it dwindled to a sin- ascertained, on the most abundant exgle person.
But, for the last fifteen or perience, that, in all common cases, it sixteen years, it has, generally, em- is complete. braced one fourtb,--sometimes one third • This was the great secret of Presiof the students. During the whole of dent Dwight's government; it was a bis presidency it appears that there sway of influence rather than of coerwere admitted to full communion, in- . sion. cluding those recommended from other During the administration of Presichurches, about two hundred persons. dent Dwight, public disgraceful punish
• The churches of this part of our ments have been few-reformations land are extensively indebted to him, have been numerous, and no instance for an able revision of Dr. Watts' has occurred, of a general opposition to Psalms, and for a select collection of lawful authority. Hymns, both executed at the request • Under bis auspices, the number of of the highest authority of the congre- the academical instructors was doubled ; gational and presbyterian churches. No besides the entire addition of the Medi. man in this country was so well quali- cal Faculty. fied for this delicate task, and it will be • He had spent, in different capacia lasting memorial of his talents, taste, ties, half his life in this College, and
twenty-seven of his best years had Notwithstanding the indubitable been most laboriously employed in its marks of superiority, and the natural service. dignity which surrounded bim; no man • President Dwight, in the course of ever made the humble, the timid, the his life, bad directed, in a greater or poor, and the broken-bearted, realize less degree, the education of more than more fully than he did, that they had two thousand youth. found a friend.
• He employed most of his vacations • As an instructor, in academic litera- for eighteen or twenty years, in travelture, we can never hope to see him ling over the New-England States, and surpassed; it will be well indeed if he the State of New-York, in very many be ever equalled.
directions, for the purpose of giving an • It was never any part of his plan account of the country in every impormerely to discharge his duty :-he did tant point in which it would be interit with bis whole mind and beart, and esting to an enlightened mind, and es.
pecially to posterity. Every where, traces of age ;-his fine countenance as he travelled, he came into contact strongly marked with the lines of inwith the most intelligent portion of so- tellect and thought ;-grave and colciety, and numerous sources of informa- lected in meditation and devotion, but tion were thus opened to him, wbich in private, beaming with kindness and are, in a great degree, inaccessible to benevolence ;-bis clear melodious voice common travellers.
easily filling the largest house, but gen. One of his principal objects was, tle and agreeable at the fire-side--and to exbibit the leading features of the his manners superior courtly, and adapstate of society existing in New-Eng. ted to the most finished ceremonial of land, which was, in his opinion, under good breeding, but attentive, gentle, providence, the source of all its pecu- and affectionate, especially to the hum. liar blessings, and to correct the mis- ble, the young, and the timid; and representations of European travellers, always marked by the most scrupulous which he considered as being, with moral delicacy. few exceptions, very gross.
• It is rare that a man so great and • He was intimately acquainted with splendid in the public eye, is, in prithe early history of his country, and vate, so desirable ; for, to bis particuhe took great pains to preserve inte- lar friends, his society was delightful, resting biographical and other histori- and the only effects of long and intimate cal accounts, from passing into obli- acquaintance with him was to exalt tovion.
wards him every sentiment of respect, • In amassing the materials for this admiration, and affection. work, he travelled more than 12,000 • He was the principal founder of the miles, principally on horseback. As it Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciis fully written out, and ready for the ences, and was, annually, elected its press, we hope it will soon be given to president during his life. the world.
• President Dwight was, eminently, • President Dwight's powers of con- a benevolent man. He was the comversation are well known: thousands in mon friend of those in distress. He his country, and not a few from other was largely consulted in cases of ecclecountries, have derived delight and in- siastical, personal, and other difficulties, struction from his lips.
and freely gave his time, bis advice, • His mind was so well furnished, on and his influence, as a peace-maker. almost every topic, that, as Cicero • As a relative, it could not be doubted says of the poet Archias, whatever he that he who, in early life, had devoted discoursed on, he seemed to bave made himself with such disinterestedness, to it bis peculiar study. He adapted his the support of bis father's bereaved faconversation with great facility, to mily, would, in his own case, exhibit a every description of persons. The bright example of conjugal and parental learned and the ignorant--the aged and excellence. the young—the serious and the gay- • In estimating the merit of President the polished and the unrefined—the Dwight's acquisitions, it must not be child and the adult were alike edified forgotten, that his literary ardour led and pleased.
him, when a young man, to so excessive - He is gone from this sublunary a use of his eyes, by candle light, both scene, and the voice of praise or of in late and early study, that, from the censure can do him neither good nor age of twenty-two, his eyes became so harm. But we can never forget his weak, that most of his acquirements commanding dignified person, on which, in after life were made through the till disease began its ravages, there aid of others ;-be could rarely read a were scarcely to be found the usual book bimself, except in the most tran