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sciousness of possessing talents for command; yet no man more strenuously advocated the rights of the civil over the military power, nor more cheerfully abdicated command and returned to the rank of the citizen, when his country could dispense with the necessity of an army.
In his private profession, at a bar abounding with men of learning and experience, he was without a rival. He arranged, with the happiest facility, the materials collected in the vast storehouse of his memory, surveyed his subject under all its aspects, and enforced his arguments with such powers of reasoning, that nothing was wanting to produce conviction, and generally to ensure success. His eloquence combined the nervousness and copious elegance of the Greek and Roman schools, and gave him the choice of his clients and his business. These wonderful powers were accompanied by a natural politeness and winning condescension, which forestalled the envy of his brethren. Their hearts were gained before their pride was alarmed; and they united in their approbation of a pre-eminence, which reflected honor on their fraternity.
From such talents, adorned by incorruptible honesty and boundless generosity, an immense personal influence over his political and private friends was inseparable; and by those who did not know him, and who saw the use to which ambition might apply it, he was sometimes suspected of views unpropitious to the nature of our government. The charge was inconsistent with the exertions he had made, to render that government, in its present form, worthy of the attachment and support of the people, and his voluntary relinquishment of the means of ambition, the pursestrings of the nation. He was, indeed, ambitious, but not of power; he was ambitious only to convince the world of the spotless integrity of his administration and character. This was the key to the finest sensibilities of his heart. He shrunk from the imputation
SS inition deeron,
of misconduct in public life: and if his judgment ever misled him, it was only when warped by an excessive eagerness to vindicate himself at the expense of his discretion. To calumny, in every other shape, he opposed the defence of dignified silence and contempt.
Had such a character been exempt from foibles and frailties, it would not have been human. Yet so small was the catalogue of these, that they would have escaped observation, but for the unparalleled frankness of his nature, which prompted him to confess them to the world. He did not consider greatness as an authority for habitual vice; and he repented, with such contrition of casual error, that none remained offended but those who never had a right to complain. The virtues of his private and domestic character comprised whatever conciliates affection and begets respect. To envy he was a stranger, and of merit and talents the unaffected eulogist and admirer. The charms of his conversation, the brilliance of his wit, his regard to decorum, his ineffable good humor, which led him down, from the highest range of intellect, to the level of colloquial pleasantry, will never be forgotten, perlaps never equalled.
To observe that such a man was dear to his family would be superfluous. To describe how dear, impossible. Of this we might obtain some adequate conception, could we look into the retreat which he had chosen for the solace of his future years; which, enlivened by his presence, was so lately the mansion of cheerfulness and content; but now, alas! of lamentation and wo !
" For him no more the blazing hearth shall burn,"
With his eye upon the eternal world, this dying hero had been careful to prepare a testament, almost for the sole purpose of bequeathing to his orphans the rich VOL 1.
legacy of his principles; and having exhibited, in his last hours, to this little band the manner in which a Christian should die, he drops, in his flight to heaven, a summary of the principles, by which a man of honor should live.
The universal sorrow manifested, in every part of the union, upon the melancholy exit of this great man, is an unequivocal testimonial of the public opinion of his worth. The place of his residence is overspread with a gloom, which bespeaks the presence of a public calamity, and the prejudices of party are absorbed in the overflowing tide of national grief.
It is, indeed, a subject of consolation, that diversity of political opinions has not yet extinguished the sentiment of public gratitude. There is yet a hope, that events like these, which bring home to our bosoms the sensation of a common loss, may yet remind us of our common interest, and of the times when, with one accord, we joined in the homage of respect to our living as well as to our deceased worthies.
Should those days once more return, when the people of America, united as they once were united, shall make merit the measure of their approbation and confidence, we may hope for a constant succession of patriots and heroes. But should our country be rent by factions, and the merit of the man be estimated by the zeal of the partizan, irreparable will be the loss of those few men, who, having once been esteemed by all, might again have acquired the confidence of all, and saved their country, in an hour of peril, by their talents and virtues.
66 So stream the sorrows that embalm the brave; The tears which virtue sheds on glory's grave."
DELIVERED IN THE CITY OF ALBANY, OCCASIONED BY THE
DEATH OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JULY 9, 1804,
BY ELIPHALET NOTT,
PASTOR OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THAT PLACE.
• HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN!.
THE occasion explains the choice of my subject a subject on which I enter in obedience to your request. You have assembled to express your elegiac . sorrows, and sad and solemn weeds cover you.
Before such an audience, and on such an occasion, I enter on the duty assigned me with trembling. Do not mistake my meaning. I tremble indeed—not, however, through fear of failing to merit your applause; for what have I to do with that when addressing the dying, and treading on the ashes of the dead; not through fear of failing justly to portray the character of that great man, who is at once the theme of my encomium and regret. He needs not eulogy. His work is finished, and death has removed him beyond my censure, and I would fondly hope, through grace, above my praise. You will ask then, why I tremble? I tremble to think that I am called to attack, from this place, a crime, the very idea of which almost freezes one with horror-a crime, too, which exists among the polite and polished orders of society, and which is accompanied with every aggravation; committed with cool deliberation, and openly in the face of day! But I have a duty to perform : and difficult and awful as that duty is, I will not shrink from it.
Would to God my talents were adequate to the occasion. But such as they are, I devoutly proffer them to unfold the nature and counteract the influence of that barbarous custom, which, like a resistless torrent, is undermining the foundations of civil government, breaking down the barriers of social happiness, and sweeping away virtue, talents and domestic felicity, in its desolating course.
Another and an illustrious character—a father-a general—a statesman-the very man who stood on an eminence and without a rival among sages and heroes, the future hope of his country in danger—this man, yielding to the influence of a custom, which deserves our eternal reprobation, has been brought to an untimely end.
That the deaths of great and useful men should be particularly noticed, is equally the dictate of reason and revelation. The tears of Israel flowed at the decease of good Josiah, and to his memory the funeral women chanted the solemn dirge. But neither examples nor arguments are necessary to wake the sympathies of a grateful people on such occasions. The death of public benefactors surcharges the heart, and it spontaneously disburdens itself by a flow of sorrows. Such was the death of Washington: to embalm whose memory, and perpetuate whose deathless fame, we lent our feeble, but unnecessary services. Such, also, and more peculiarly so, has been the death of Hamilton. The tidings of the former moved us, mournfully moved us, and we wept. The account of the latter chilled our hopes, and curdled our blood. The former died in a good old age; the latter was cut off in the midst of his usefulness. The former was a customary providence: we saw in it, if I may speak so, the finger of God, and rested in his sovereignty. The latter is not attended with this soothing circumstance.
The fall of Hamilton, owes its existence to mad deliberation, and is marked by violence. The time, the place, the circumstances, are arranged with barbarous