Imágenes de páginas

state, and their different wants and interests; but especially he had great clearness and precision in his thoughts upon all subjects, and a great facility in labor, so that he could easily bring his mind to act with effect upon whatever topic was presented to it. As a speaker, he was distinguished, both here and at the bar, by exactness in his conceptions and statements; an obvious and forcible order in his reasoning; and great plainness and simplicity of language and manner. But he possessed what gave him more influence than eloquence or knowledge. He possessed a genuine benevolence of disposition, and an entire purity of intention and integrity of conduct, which, above every thing else, win the confidence of a body of men, constituted like the best portions of our state legislatures.

In the mean time, however, Mr. Haven was no less actively employed at home, in whatever would promote general improvement. He took a strong interest in the Portsmouth Athenæum, considering large public libraries as among the most immediate and pressing wants of the country, where the spirit of inquiry on important practical subjects is constantly checked, from the absence of means which are elsewhere provided in abundance and opened freely. He was, also, much occupied about the schools, both public and private, in Portsmouth, and labored with good effect to extend their influence and raise their character; while, at the same time, his services and assistance were asked by the persons having the control of Exeter Academy, to increase the usefulness and efficiency of that ancient institution. But, at this particular period, perhaps, it should be observed, that he was much interested in the management of an association of young men, formed for the purpose of literary discussion and forensic debate. This association was organized in 1821, and embraced among its members about sixty persons of different occupations in life, thus ex

tending its benefits to all classes of society capable of sharing in its pursuits. Its form and character were given to it chiefly by Mr. Haven, who was its presiding officer, with the exception of a short interval, from its foundation till his death. The members met once a fortnight, alternately organizing themselves as a legislative body, preserving all the forms of public business, for the discussion of subjects of political and public interest; and, as a literary body, for the discussion of matters of philosophical speculation, historical inquiry, and subjects presupposing taste and general cultivation. It was an institution, in which Mr. Haven took a strong interest. As its president, it was his duty to sum up the arguments on each side of the discussion that had been held, and give his own views before it was submitted to the final vote. In doing this, he showed a singularly happy power of disincumbering the subject of unimportant or irrelevant details, and presenting with such clearness and precision the real points at issue, that the question was generally decided with little hesitation, at last, however perplexing might have been the doubts excited during its debate.

Most men, placed in his situation, would probably have considered all their duties to the society fulfilled by a faithful discharge of their labors in the chair. But Mr. Haven preferred, besides, to take upon himself the additional duties of common membership. In this way, he sustained a more than equal part in the usual exercises of the association, mingling freely in its debates, and joining with particular preference and success in the discussion of points connected with political economy, public law, history, and literary criticism. That his influence on the society was valuable cannot be doubted, for the same high motives governed him here, that governed him elsewhere; and so was the society's influence on him. His own social and kind feelings were cultivated by the intercourse it afforded him with

those of his own age; the intellectual pursuits, in which he so much delighted, were promoted in others, who, but for this institution, might not have shared their benefits; an elevated moral feeling and a deep respect for religion were impressed on the thoughtlessness of youth, by the turn he often or generally gave the discussions; and, in more than one instance, he enjoyed the satisfaction of drawing forth talent and cherishing its developement, where its existence was hardly suspected even by its possessor. In this association, indeed, he was doing, in some measure, for the young men, with whom it connected him, what he was doing elsewhere for the children; and it was undoubtedly a great source of happiness to him, that he had an opportunity, thus to fulfil one of the most important duties, that any man is permitted to perform to society.

While Mr. Haven was busily occupied in these interesting pursuits, the spring of 1823 completed the second century from the first landing of the merchant-adventurers, who founded the little colony on the Piscataqua, which has since become the state of New-Hampshire; and a general wish was expressed, that the recollections this anniversary was so well calculated to awaken, should be renewed and strengthened in the minds of men, by some public and solemn commemoration. Following a no less general indication of the public feeling, the Historical Society of New-Hampshire desired Mr. Haven to deliver an address in Portsmouth on the twenty-first of May. He did so. The town was thronged with visiters from different parts of the state, who, with many distinguished individuals from Massachusetts and Maine, were drawn thither by so happy an occasion for the interchange of good will and friendly congratulations. Mr. Haven fully satisfied the expectation, which had waited on this fortunate anniversary. He discussed, with a simple and persuasive eloquence, the characters of the founders of

that ancient colony, as Englishmen, as merchant-adventurers, and as Puritans; and showed what effects the elements of society, they brought with them, had already produced, and what effects they ought still further to produce, as the destinies of the country shall be further unfolded. He was listened to with a proud regard by the community, at whose intimation he spoke, and with flattering interest by the strangers, who had come to join in the general jubilee; and the impression he left that day on the minds of men, was one which his native state may always be proud to cherish.

The last two years of Mr. Haven's life, were passed, like those that had preceded them, in active and happy usefulness. Perhaps, he retired more than he had before done. from the mechanical labors of his profession, still seeking higher studies and pursuits, and looking round for wider means of active exertion. This might, indeed, have been expected from the whole course and tendency of his mind and character, and from an increased consciousness of his own powers, which had every year been more developed by a wise and benevolent use of them. But still, though his horizon was constantly growing wider and wider, as he rose, he neither forgot nor neglected the humbler duties and occupations, which had so long constituted much of his happiness, and by which his character had, in no small degree, been formed for the higher success, to which he now seemed surely destined.

But, in the midst of the confident expectations of his friends and of the community, he was suddenly taken from them. Being in New-York, in May, 1826, on business, he heard of the sickness of his children. He hastened instantly back, and reached Portsmouth on Wednesday the twenty-fourth, having been less than two days on the way. He found four of his children ill with an epidemical complaint in the throat. Perhaps he himself had left home with a tendency to the

same disease, from the same causes that had brought it into his family. At any rate, on the Saturday after his return, he was seized with it. The attack was violent, and never, for a moment, yielded to the most active medicines, which, in the conflict, seemed to lose their accustomed power. From the nature of the disease, his reason was early affected by it. Of this he was conscious, and made the greater effort to collect and compose his thoughts. At first, he succeeded, and spoke of the objects that had most interested him in life, and of the hopes and principles that had governed him, with the unwavering confidence he had felt, when his health seemed the strongest and most sure. Even when his mind wandered, religious feelings, attachment to his friends, and the desire of doing good still maintained their accustomed ascendency. But it was soon apparent, that the conflict could not be long continued, and, shortly afterwards, his reason failed altogether. His friends saw, that his separation from them was near; and those, who were connected with him through his public services, learned, that they were to lose a supporter, who had long been foremost in whatever concerned the common improvement. The expression of anxiety and sympathy, throughout the community, was remarkable. The very children, as they passed his house, stepped lightly, and were hushed from their sports; and men, in the resorts of business, spoke anxiously to each other, when they talked of their coming loss. He died, on the third of June, after an illness of eight days; and when he was buried, on the following Tuesday, the principal stores and shops in the town were shut ;—a testimony of public sorrow, which has hardly been given to any one among us, who died so young, or to any one, who had borne so small a part in those affairs of the times, which most agitate men's personal interests and passions.

« AnteriorContinuar »