Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the whole effect of the work is to leave an exalted opinion of the natural powers of the author. These powers, we have already said, were but imperfectly developed. "Wieland" is not, and could not be, a truly great and finished work. Its main defects are but too obvious, without particularization. Its style, except in rare passages, is not uniformly easy and natural, neither have its sentences, in general, a musical flow and cadence. More faulty still is the almost constant exaggeration of horror—the carrying of tragedy to the utmost extreme of anguish and gloom. The youthful writer had not yet learned to temper his light and shade—if, indeed, "Wieland" may not rather be said to be made up entirely of the latter—neither had he been able to distinguish the boundary that separates the sentiment of pleasurable sadness from the horror of unmitigated suffering and torture. Yet he shows clearly enough, that he was not unconscious of the existence of such a boundary, and that only a little further culture was necessary to put him in full possession of the requisite skill.

But we cannot give ourselves heartily to the work of tracing out and exposing the errors of a youth whose early death and whose uncommon capabilities ought, after the lapse of so many years, to secure him from any but the kindest mention. The gradual progress of his works towards forgetfulness, (as we intimated at the out

set,) even his warmest friend could hardly hope to do more than temporarily arrest. There is, therefore, a certain mournful satisfaction in the thought, that even this article, which a few may be disposed to esteem some years too late to attract much notice by its title, is perhaps one of the last efforts to keep alive in the memory of his countrymen, the name of a youth who gave promise of a fame that should exceed that of even our most honored writers. Could Brown have lived to become a complete master of himself, to reduce all his faculties under perfect control; had the long discipline of years and of severe experiences wrought out a way whereby the genial impulses that visited his spirit could find full and free access to the minds of his fellows; envy itself must have done him reverence. But the course of the divine destinies is inevitable—irresistible. The flower that perishes when first opening from its bud is soon forgot, in th« midst of full-blown and perfect blossoms. Not altogether such is the fate of Brockden Brown. His novels are still in the Circulating Libraries of our own and other lands; and, what is more satisfactory to know, they are still read by no small number. Such, we doubt not, will be their fortune, for a long time to come. Whatever may afterwards be their fate, they will at least, after having already survived half a century, go down with a good name to the next generation.

LIFE AND PUBLIC SERVICES OF

THE HONORABLE ROBERT CHARLES WINTHROP:

SPEAKER OF TIIE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

We have presented to our readers in the Review for this month a portrait of the Son. Robert Charles Winthrop, the pres■nt Speaker of the House of Reprcsentaives.

This gentleman, whose preferment to the ligh official station which he now holds, * a well-deserved and appropriate tribute o his personal worth and public service, ;as won a not less eminent place in the steem of the Whig party of the Union, ly the fidelity with which he has devoted lis talents throughout an active political areer, to the advancement of the good of he country.

Mr. Winthrop's participation in the pubs'counsels is attended by a fortunate prcsjgt of name and lineage. In both of hese he may be said to be identified with he history of that portion of the country fhich he represents; and if there be any rath in the ancient notion that an honorWe ancestry constitutes a pledge to patri*ism and virtue, he has an especial reason n acknowledge its obligations, and to find i them an incentive to the faithful and eakras performance of every public duty. It stands in the sixth degree of lineal detent from John Winthrop, the first Govmor of Massachusetts—" that famous attem of piety and justice," as he is called » the early chronicles of New England, -who, emigrating to this shore in 1630, mught with him the confidence and repert of the government he had left, and be roost upright and exalted faculty for lie duties he came to assume. Grahame, dopting the thought of a classic historian, »ys of him that " he not only performed ctions worthy to be written, but proceed writings worthy to be read."

John Winthrop, the eldest son of this rorthy, was scarcely less distinguished. Ie was a man much addicted to philoophical study and especially to physical cience, and was one of the early patrons i the Royal Society. Sir Hans Sloane md three other members of that society,

some fifty years afterwards, in commending the grandson of this gentleman to the notice of their associates, bear honorable testimony to the good repute in which the ancestor was held. They speak of "the learned John Winthrop" as "one of the first members of this Society, and who, in conjunction with others, did greatly contribute to the obtaining of our charter: to whom the Royal Society in its early days was not only indebted for various ingenious communications, but their museum still contains many testimonies of his generosity, especially of things relating to the natural history of New England."

He was elected Governor of Connecticut for several years, in which station, says Belknap, "his many valuable qualities, as a gentleman, a philosopher and a public ruler, procured him the universal respect of the people under his government; and his unwearied attention to the public business, and great understanding in the art of government, was of unspeakable advantage to them."

He was twice married, his second wife being the daughter of the celebrated Hugh Peters. By this marriage he had several children, amongst them two sons, of whom Fitz John was the elder. He, following in the footsteps of his father, was elected Governor of Connecticut, and held that post for nine years, commencing in ] 698 and continuing until the day of his death. The younger son was a member of the Council in Massachusetts under the new charter granted by William and Man,-, and was afterwards Chief Justice of the Superior Court of that State. His name was Wait Still, a compound of two family names, and not, as some have supposed, one of those conceits which at that period seemed to strike the fancy of the Puritan fathers. "That middle name," as the learned and accurate President of the Massachusetts Historical Society has been careful to inform us, "was derived from inter-marriage of Adam, his great grandfather, with the family of Still; and this gentleman," he adds, "was not designated by a perverse simplicity which characterized the age.'''

Wait Still Winthrop, the Chief Justice, appears to have left but two children, of whom John, the only son, resembled his grandfather in an ardent devotion to scientific research, and like him, became a distinguished member of the Royal Society; his introduction to that body being, as we have seen, greatly facilitated by the respect in which the memory of his ancestor was yet held. Attracted by the love of his favorite studies and his attachment to the society of learned men, he removed to England, where he spent his latter days, and died in 1747.

He left a large family behind him. John, the oldest of his sons, married in Boston the daughter of Francis Borland. He was a gentleman of wealth and leisure, and was one of the most respectable citizens of New London, Connecticut. One of the younger sons of this gentleman was the late Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, the father of the present Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth Congress.

Robert C. Winthrop, the youngest son of Thomas L. Winthrop, to whom we have just referred, was born in Boston, on the 12th of May, 1809, and was educated at Harvard; where, in 1828, he received his diploma, and with it, one of the three highest honors awarded to his class. He studied law under the direction of Daniel Webster, and was admitted to the bar of Boston in 1831. He devoted but little attention to the practice of his profession, the bent of his mind inclining him much more to the study of public affairs than to the labors of a vocation which few men pursue but under the spur of a necessity, which, in the present instance, did not exist.

Mr. Winthrop entered into public life in 1834, being then elected to the Legislature of Massachusetts, and has since continued in the public service. He was the representative of Boston in the State Legislature for six years, during the last three of which he was the Speaker of the popular branch of that body; discharging the arduous duties of this post with an address and judgment which elicited the most hon

orable confidence and approbation fromthr body over which he presided.

The House of Representatives of Massachusetts at that time numbered betweei five and six hundred members. We may suppose the duties of the Speaker in such a body to exact the highest degree of parliamentary skill and tact in their administration. In this school the incumbent found full and adequate experience; and he left it, after his three years' service, with the reputation of an expert and el fective proficient in the rules of legislative proceedings.

Mr. Winthrop first became favorably known beyond the limits of his own State, when, in 1837, he visited the city of Ne? York, at the head of the Massachusete delegation, which assembled there with the delegations from the Whigs from many other States, to celebrate the great, triumph of the Whigs of New York in the elections then recently held. It »'»s a great meeting of congratulation, and intended to concert measures for the co-ope* ration of the Whig party in the Presidential canvass which was soon to open. Il was a brilliant prelude to the election ol 1840, of which the results were at once * glorious and so disastrous.

On that occasion, no one drew more observation in the large crowd there assem bled, than the subject of this memoir, speech in the Masonic Hall, where the < gratulations of the occasion were proffe and received, is still remembered by tho who were present, as one of the most fe licitous and attractive incidents of tha memorable exhibition. His vivid and ani mated eloquence stimulated the alread: excited feeling of the assembly to the high est key of exultation, and old and youn| left the scene of this event with commo prediction of future eminence to the on tor, and more extended renown amongi his countrymen.

His congressional career began in 184< The resignation, in that year, of the repr< sentative from Boston, Mr. Abbott Law lence, led to the choice of Mr. Winthixi by a majority so decisive as almost to d< prive the election of its title to be call* a contest. He thus took lib seat in ti House of Representatives at the secoc session of the Twenty-sixth Congre^ He was a member also of the dLstu uished Twenty-seventh Congress, where, mongst many worthy, he maintained a osition with the best. A personal and rivate affliction compelled him to resign Is seat in the summer of 1842, his place ring supplied by the Hon. Nathan Applem, who relinquished it at the close of tat session, to enable his friend to resume is former seat at the commencement of le following winter; which the latter did \er an election almost without opposition. [r. Winthrop has continued ever since to ■present the city of Boston by a suffrage pally honorable to him and to the conituency whose confidence he has so sigiQr won.

His seven years' service in the national )unsels have brought him very promientlv before the nation. One of the lost accomplished debaters in the House F Representatives, he has participated, to >rae extent, in the discussion of all the reat questions which have been presented »that body, during his connection with .. Habitually abstaining from an obtrude presentation of his opinions, he has trtr failed to say a right word at the ght season; he has, therefore, always >-'kt-n effectively, and in such a manner as > win the esteem and confidence of the louse. A steadfast Whig, his position •» ever been conservative, strong in the ii-ocacy of the national institutions, cared to guard against encroachments on the Constitution, jealous of the ambition of »ity leaders, and prompt to denounce be excesses into which partisan zeal has ten threatened to plunge the policy of be State. Looking with an enlightened iew to the capabilities of the country, and «lv estimating the elements of national Irength and happiness embraced within ke Lnion as it is, he has always contribW his aid to promote their development trough the appropriate action of the Conatution, and by the wise policy of pro?<tion and encouragement.

In the attempts of the Administration nd its supporters to embroil the country I a war upon the Oregon question, he is the friend of conciliatory adjustment nd peace, and had the gratification to nd the labors of his compeers and himelf in that instance successful.

We may take the occasion to observe *re that, in the prosecution of this ob

ject, he was the first to propose in Congress a mode of settling the question, which, highly equitable and honorable in itself, was seconded by the approbation of the most judicious persons both at home and abroad. The following resolutions, moved by Mr. Winthrop on the 19th December, 1845, contain the earliest suggestion of an arbitration by eminent civilians. This resort was afterwards formally proposed by the British Government, and if it had not been most unwisely—we must think —refused by the Administration, would have established a happy precedent for the settlement of international differences, and have placed the peace of the world, so far as the example of two of the most powerful nations might tend to establish it, upon the foundation of calm counsel and right reason, instead of leaving it at the mercy of tempestuous passion and the bitter supremacy of the sword.

The resolutions referred to are in these words :—

"Resolved, That the differences between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the Oregon Territory, are still a fit subject for negotiation and compromise, and that satisfactory evidence has not yet been afforded that no compromise which the United States ought to accent can be effected.

"Resolved, That it would be a dishonor to the age in which wo live, and in the highest degree discreditable to both the nations concerned, if they should suffer themselves to be drawn into a war, upon a question of no immediate or practical interest to either of them.

"Resolved, That if no other mode for the amicable adjustment of this question remains, it is due to the principles of civilization and Christianity that a resort to arbitration should be had; and that this Government cannot relieve itself from all responsibility which may follow the failure to settle the controversy, while this resort is still untried.

"Resolved, That arbitration does not necessarily involve a reference to crowned heads; and that, if a jealousy of such a reference is entertained in any quarter, a commission of able and dispassionate citizens, either from the two countries concerned or from the world at large, offers itself as an obvious and unobjectionable alternative."

In the more recent extravagances of those in power, who have committed the nation to all the responsibilities of this odious Mexican war, he has acted with the most enlightened Whigs to give it a direction as favorable to humanity and justice as the frenzy of the Administration will allow. Utterly opposed to the grounds upon which this war has been waged, and condemning the usurpation of authority, by which the President commenced it, he, nevertheless, did not scruple to vote, with the great body of the Whigs in Congress, 'the first supplies of men and money, which • seemed to be indispensable to the reinforcement of General Taylor at that moment of supposed exigency, of which the Administration took such artful advantage. He has been consistently, ever since, an earnest advocate for peace on terms compatible with the honor and justice of a magnanimous and Christian people.

The same moderation of opinion which appears in this speech, in regard to the great and exciting subjects there referred to, is consistently preserved by Mr. Winthrop upon other topics which have agitated the public. A sincere friend of the Constitution, and earnestly desirous to maintain the harmony of the Union, he has conscientiously, we may say, refrained from those ultra views on the subject of slavery, either in the Northern or Southern aspect of the questiort, which have so unhappily and so unprofitably distracted some sections of the country. Liberal and tolerant upon that subject, he has firmly maintained his own opinion against those on either side, who we may hope will acknowledge, in their calmer reflections, the wisdom and justice of his moderation.

The recent election of this gentleman to the honorable post he now fills in the House of Representatives, is an expressive token of the good opinion he has won on that theatre where his talents have been most profitably exerted for the benefit of the country. No member of that House might better deserve this distinction. His integrity as a man, his accomplishments as a statesman, and his fidelity as a Whig, render the choice of the House an honor both to the giver and receiver; while' his parliamentary skill in the appropriate functions of his office enable him to requite the favor he has received, by the usefulness of his service.

His address to the House, on the recent occasion of taking the chair, exhibits a just appreciation of the duties committed to him, and affords an example of graceful

dignity of style which may be commended to the imitation of his successors. It is worthy of being preserved, and we therefore submit it to the judgment of ourreaders:—

"Genikmen of the House of Representativa if

the United States:

"I am deeply sensible of the honor which yw have conferred upon me by the vote which hse just been announced, and I pray leave to Pipress my most grateful acknowledgments * those who have thought me worthy of so d* tinguished a mark of their confidence.

'• When I remember by whom this chair ta» been filled in other years, and, still more, wbec I reflect on the constitutional character of tie body before me, I cannot but feel that you hrt< assigned me a position worthy of any nasi ambition, and far above the rightful reach r my own.

"I approach the discharge of its duties withi profound impression at once of their dignrt and of their difficulty.

"Seven years of service as a member of thi branch of the National Legislature have ma than sufficed to teach me that this is no plic of mere formal routine or ceremonious repoa Severe labors, perplexing cares, trying respn sibilities, await any one who is called lo it, eve under the most auspicious and favorable ci cumstances. How, then, can I help trembLi at the task which you have imposed on roe. i the existing condition of this House and ot tr. countt y?

"In a time of war, in a time of high politic excitement, in a time of momentous nation controversy, I see before me the Represent tives of the People almost equally divided, a merely, as the votes of this morning hare i ready indicated, in their preference for persra but in opinion and in principle, on many of i most important questions on which they fa* assembled to deliberate. "May I not reasonably claim, in advance, frt you all, something more than an ordinary me sure of forbearance and indulgence, for wh ever of inability I may manifest, in meeting t exigencies and embarrassments which I cam hope to escape? And may I not reasons! implore, with something more than common t vency, upon your labors and upon my own. i blessing of that Almighty Power, whose reco ed attribute it is, that 'He maketh men lo of one mind in a house?'

"Let us enter, gentlemen, upon our work legislation with a solemn sense of onr rj^p aibility to God and to our country. Howe we may be divided on questions of immedi policy, we are united by the closest ties oi ] manent interest and permanent obligation.' arc the Representatives of twenty millions people, bound together by common laws mix

« AnteriorContinuar »