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statutes or to the common law, and to pre-existing practice, the code is far from being systematic, and was incapable of general analysis.
The general sentiment of judges and lawyers in the state of New York, seems to be quite adverse to the projects of the commissioners. A report of the judiciary committee of the assembly of 1849, reviewed their labours up to that period, with great severity, and pointed out errors of haste, carelessness or ignorance, calculated to shake public confidence in the commissioners, if not in their system. And it is quite doubtful whether the main part of their work will stand the ordeal of one or two more sessions of the legislature. In the mean time, great confusion prevails in the practice, and a large portion of the time of the courts is consumed in settling the construction of the new enactments. And what is peculiarly unfortunate, is that a construction in one judicial district is sometimes, if not often, directly at variance with the construction given in another district. The difficulty is increased by the circumstance that, in matters of practice, they have no common superior to settle their differences,-the court of Appeals having no jurisdiction over such subjects.
SKETCHES OF THE LIVES OF SAMUEL STANHOPE
SMITH, AND TIMOTHY DWIGHT.
(In some of the preceding numbers we have given to our readers memoirs of distinguished men, whose connexion with the prominent historical events of their times imparted an interest to their lives.
We now present, from the pen of a highly esteemed and erudite contributor, notices of men, eminent for learning and piety, who presided over venerable and distinguished literary institutions at an early period of our national history, and one of whom especially, was an active sharer in the struggle for independence.)
SAMUEL STANHOPE Smith was born March 16th, 1750, at Pequea, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. His father was the Rev. Robert Smith, a distinguished clergyman of the Presbyterian Church, who emigrated from Ireland, and established, and for many years superintended an academy which supplied many able and excellent ministers to the denomination with which he was connected. His mother was Elizabeth Blair, daughter of the Rev. Samuel Blair, and sister to
Samuel and John Blair, both of whom were among the most prominent clergymen of their day. She was a lady of high intellectual endowments as well as excellent moral qualities, and fitted to grace most exalted station in society. The son, at a very early period, gave indications of possessing a mind of no common order, and the parents quickly determined to give him the best advantages within their reach for cultivating it. When he was only six or seven years old, he commenced the study of the languages in his father's school; and as his father had employed some most accomplished teachers from abroad as his assistants, perhaps scarcely any school in the country, at that day, furnished' better advantages for becoming thoroughly grounded, especially in the classics. The only language allowed to be spoken in the school was Latin; and whoever uttered a word in the mother tongue was marked as a culprit. Young Smith made the best of his opportunities, and was distinguished for his improvement in every branch to which he directed his attention.
From his earliest childhood he seems to have evinced a serious turn of mind, and to have taken little interest in the sports in which his school-fellows indulged. He was accustomed to listen to sermons from the pulpit with great attention, and often at the close of the service could repeat a considerable portion of what he had heard.
When he was in his sixteenth year, he was sent to college at Princeton. It was during the period that intervened between the death of President Finley and Dr. Witherspoon's accession to the presidency, while the college was under the charge of several eminent professors, and among them his maternal uncle, the Rev. Dr. John Blair. Notwithstanding his youth, he entered the junior class, and immediately took rank among the very best scholars. Dr. Witherspoon arrived from Scotland, and entered on the duties of his office, while he was an undergraduate; and before he had completed his eighteenth year, he had received the degree of Bachelor of Arts under circumstances the most honourable to his talents and acquirements, and the most gratifying to his ambition.
After his graduation, he returned to his father's house, and spent some time, partly in assisting him in conducting his school, and partly in vigorous efforts for the higher cultivation of his own mind. He read the finest models in polite literature on the one hand, and in intellectual and moral philosophy on the other. He also occasionally tried his hand at writing poetry, but he was not much flattered by the result of his efforts, and he seems to have abandoned his devotion to the muses on the ground that “poeta nascitur, non fit."
He had not been long in this new sphere of labour, before he was invited to return to Princeton, as a tutor in the college, especially in the departments of the classics and Belles Lettres. Here he remained for two years, discharging his duties with great acceptance, and at the same time pursuing a course of theological study in reference to the ministry. At the end of this period, he resigned his office in the college, and was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Newcastle.
As his health had suffered not a little from severe application, he determined to spend some time as a missionary in the western counties of Virginia. When he reached that part of the country, he received a most cordial welcome from many Irish Presbyterians who had settled there, and at the same time found a state of things that seemed to promise well to an earnest and faithful minister.
On the appearance of a preacher of cultivated mind, exemplary deportment and captivating oratory, it was not strange that there should be an intense and general interest awakened by his ministrations. Accordingly, he soon became an almost universal favourite. So powerful an impression did he make, that some of the most wealthy and influential persons soon set on foot a project for detaining him there as the head of a literary institution; and within a short time, the funds requisite for establishing such an institution were subscribed. The necessary buildings were forthwith erected, and the seminary was subsequently chartered by the legislature, under the name of Hampden Sydney College.
While these preparations were going forward, Mr. Smith was laboriously occupied in performing the missionary tour which had been the original object of his visit to Virginia. The new college being now nearly ready to commence its operations, he returned to the north and formed a matrimonial alliance with the eldest daughter of Dr. Witherspoon. He then went back to Virginia, and took upon himself the double office of principal of the seminary and pastor of the church; and the duties of each he discharged in such a manner as to fulfil the highest expectations that had been formed concerning him.
But after three or four years his constitution, which was never vigorous, was found to be giving way under the vast amount of care and responsibility to which his situation subjected him. A slight bleeding at the lungs commenced, which admonished him to take at least a temporary respite from labour; and by the advice of his friends he resorted to a watering-place among the western mountains, which was then acquiring considerable celebrity under the name of the “Sweet Springs. A residence there of a few weeks caused his unfavourable symptoms in a great measure to disappear, so that he returned to his family with his health in a great degree renovated.
At this period (1779) he was invited to the chair of Moral Philosophy in the College of New Jersey, and, notwithstanding his strong attachment to the infant seminary in Virginia, of which he might be said to be the founder, the prospect of a more extended sphere of usefulness in connexion with his alma mater, induced him to accept the appointment. Upon his arrival at Princeton, however, a most unpromising state of things presented itself. The college was then in ruins, in consequence of the uses and abuses to which it had been subjected
by both the British and American soldiers, during the previous years of the revolutionary war. The students were dispersed, and all its operations had ceased. Mainly by the energy, wisdom and generous self-devotion of Mr. Smith, the college was speedily re-organized, and all its usual exercises resumed. For several years, Dr. Witherspoon, though retaining the office of president, was engaged, as a member of Congress, in the higher affairs of the nation; after this, he spent some time in Great Britain in endeavours to collect money to replenish the exhausted funds of the institution; and not long after his return, he was afflicted with total blindness and many bodily infirmities, which, in a great measure, incapacitated him for the duties of his office as president. It is not too much to say, therefore, that during this whole period, notwithstanding Dr. Witherspoon's name could not fail to shed glory over the institution, and he was always intent on the promotion of its interests, whether present or absent, yet it was indebted for no small degree of its prosperity to the unceasing vigilance, the earnest efforts, the distinguished ability of Mr. Smith.
Some time after he had become established in his professorship at Princeton, there was a recurrence of his former malady in a greatly aggravated form, which, for a time, clouded the bright hopes which the commencement of his career had inspired. In November, 1782, he was suddenly overtaken with a violent hemorrhage from the breast, which was checked only by a copious bleeding in the arm and feet. The same thing occurred at a little later hour the next day, and so regularly for several successive days, the blood being restrained in each case only by the use of the lancet. Mr. Smith having remarked that the flux returned at stated intervals, proposed to anticipate its approach by opening a vein, a little before the time when he had reason to expect it. His physician objected to this, on the ground that his strength was so far gone that it would be preposterous to hazard the letting of blood beyond the absolute necessity of the case. He, however, remained steadfast in his own opinion, and ať length obtained a lancet from his physician, with a view to his using it upon himself, when he felt that his case demanded it; and continued to use it till he finally succeeded in subduing the disease. For a considerable time he was so far reduced as to be unable to help himself or to speak above a whisper; but his strength gradually returned, so that he was able, at no distant period, to resume his duties in the college. For several years, however, he never ventured an effort in the pulpit, unless on some rare occasion, and then with the utmost caution and restraint.
In the year 1785, Mr. Smith was elected an honorary member of the American Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia; an institution distinguished not only for being the first of its kind in the order of time in the country, but for numbering among its members many of the most brilliant and profound and erudite minds of which the country could boast. The same year he was appointed to deliver their anniversary address; and he met the occasion in a manner which would, of itself, have conferred lasting honour upon his name. The object of the address was to explain the causes of the variety in the figure and complexion of the human species, and to establish the identity of the race. It was published in the “ Transactions of the Society,” and was subsequently published in an enlarged and improved form, in a separate volume. With this work, his reputation as a philosopher, both at home and abroad, is chiefly identified.
In 1783, he was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Yale College; and in 1810, with the degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard University.
Dr. Witherspoon died in 1794, and the same year Dr. Smith succeeded him as President of the college. Besides being highly popular as the head of the institution, he had now acquired a reputation as a pulpit orator which rendered it an object for many, even in remote parts of the country, to listen to his preaching. His Baccalaureate discourses particularly, which were addressed to the senior class on the Sabbath immediately preceding their graduation, were among his finest efforts; and it was not uncommon for persons to goʻ even from New York and Philadelphia, a distance of some forty miles, to listen to them. He published a volume of sermons, not far from the beginning of this century, which were regarded as an important contribution to that part of our national literature.
In the spring of 1802, when the institution was at the full tide of its prosperity, the college edifice, through some instrumentality that was never fully ascertained, was consumed by fire, together with the libraries, furniture, and fixtures of every description. After the first stunning effect of the calamity had passed away, but one sentiment pervaded all ranks of the people, and that was a determination to contribute the necessary funds to rebuild the house, and sustain the institution. Accordingly, Dr. Smith made a tour through the southern states for the purpose of soliciting aid, and returned in the following spring with about one hundred thousand dollars, which, with liberal collections made in other parts of the Union, enabled him to accomplish vastly more than he had ventured to anticipate. This was his crowning achievement. The college was popular and prosperous, and numbered two hundred students.
From this period nothing occurred in Dr. Smith's life worthy of special remark until the year 1812, when, by reason of repeated strokes of palsy, he became too much enfeebled to discharge any longer the duties of his office. He, therefore, at the next commencement, tendered his resignation as president, and retired to a place which the Board of Trustees provided for him, and there spent the residue of his life. For several years he occupied himself in revising and preparing for the press some of his works; but at length disease had made such havoc with his constitution that he was scarcely capable of any mental