« PreviousContinue »
first expedition across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, which, by its success, created for the United States the title
upon which it rested, in its contest with the British government for the Oregon territory, and who thus secured for his country a greater increase of its population and possessions, than all others of his countrymen together, except Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Polk.
Meriwether Lewis, in his expedition to the Pacific, discovered a gold mine. The fact was not made public, nor the place pointed out at the time, lest it might become known to the Indians and Spaniards, and thereby be a public injury instead of a public benefit. He informed his friends, upon his return home, of the discovery which he had made, and his intention of making out such a description of the place, that it might be found, if he should die before the information could be useful to the country. As he was travelling from St. Louis, the seat of government of the Missouri Territory, of which he was then Governor, to Washington City, he stopped over night at a little inn on the road side, somewhere in Tennessee. In the morning his throat was found cut, and he dead; whether by his own hand or others in search of his account of the place where gold was to be found, is not known.
THOUGHTS ON OLD AGE.
BY SIR WM. TEMPLE.
Whether long life be a blessing or no, God Almighty only can determine, who alone knows what length it is like to run, and how it is like to be attended. Socrates used to say, that it was pleasant to grow old with good health and a good friend; and he might have reason: a man may be content to live while he is no trouble to himself or his friends; but, after that, it is hard if he be not content to die. I knew and esteemed a person abroad, who used to say, a man must be a mean wretch that desired to live after threescore years old. But so much, I doubt, is certain ; that in lise, as in wine, he that will drink it good, must not draw it to dregs.
Where this happens, one comfort of age may be, that whereas younger men are usually in pain when they are not in pleasure, old men find a sort of pleasure whenever they are out of pain : and as young men often lose or impair their present enjoyments by raving after what is to come, by vain hopes, or fruitless fears; so old men relieve the wants of their age by pleasing reflections upon what is past. Therefore, men, in the health and vigour of their age, should endeavor to fill their lives with reading, with travel, with the best conversation, and the worthiest actions, either in their public or private stations; that they may have something agreeable to feed on when they are old.
But as they are only the clean beasts which chew the cud, when they have fed enough; so they must be clean and virtuous men, that can reflect with pleasure upon the past accidents and courses of their lives: besides, men who grow old with good sense, or good fortunes, and good nature, cannot want the pleasure of pleasing others, ty assisting with their gists, their credit, and their advice, such as deserve it; as well as by their care of children, kindness to friends, and bounty to servants.
THE SHADOWS OF THE PAST.
While I survey the long, and deep, and wide
Expanse of time, the Past with things that were
Thronged in dark multitude; the Future bare
While yet the families of earth were rare,
And human kind had but a little share Of the world's heritage, before me glide
All dim and silent. Now with sterner mien
Rush by. And, decked with garlands ever green,
THE VIRGINIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
THE FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING.
The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Virginia Historical Society was held in the Hall of the House of Delegates, on Thursday evening, the 15th inst., before a large and brilliant audience of gentlemen and ladies assembled to enjoy the exercises of the occasion.
In the absence of the President of the Society, (the Hon. Wm. C. Rives,) Wm. H. Macfarland, Esq., of this city, one of the Vice-Presidents, presided; Thos. T. Giles, Esq., a member, in the absence of the Chairman (Cooway Robertson, Esq.) read the report of the Executive Committee; and the Secretary and Librarian, Mr. Maxwell, read a list of books and other donations received during the past year; and announced the names of the Honorary and Corresponding Members, who had been elected during the same period.
At this point the Annual Discourse, which by arrangement was to have been delivered by Henry A. Washington, Esq., would have been the order of the evening; but that gentleman, having been unable to attend in consequence of the detention of the steamer Augusta, it was necessarily omitted.
On motion of Mr. Maxwell, the following resolution was unanimously adopted :
Resolved, That the thanks of the Society be returned to the City Council for the handsome and honorable provision which it has made in and by its ordinance of September 2nd, 1851, entitled • an Ordinance Providing further for the Education of Indigent Children; and making Provision for Public Lectures and Libraries ;" for furnishing the Society with the free use of convenient rooms in the Athenæum; and also for the liberal grant of $150 per annum. for the purchase of books and maps, for their Library: a provision which, while it displays the generous spirit of that body, cannot fail to be as serviceable to the Society, as it must be beneficial to the citizens of our metropolis.
The Society then proceeded to the election of officers for the ensuing year—and adjourned, to meet again in the same place, on Thursday evening, the 22nd inst., or at such other time as the Executive Committee should appoint-for the purpose of hearing Mr. Washington's Discourse.
THE ADJOURNED MEETING.
The Adjourned Meeting of the Society was held, by order of the Executive Committee, in the Hall of the House of Delegates, on Saturday evening, the 17th inst., in the presence, as before, of a large and brilliant assembly, among whom we observed the Governor of the State, the Lieut. Governor, several members of both Houses, and some other gentlemen of distinction whose presence seemed to give a new interest to the occasion. Wm. H. Macfarland, Esq., one of the Vice-Presidents, again presided ; and the Secretary presented Mr. Washington, (now arrived) to the Chair and to the House : whereupon Mr. W. rose and addressed the meeting in a highly able and interesting discourse, which was heard with great attention throughout, and followed at the close by a general expression of approbation and applause.
The subject of the discourse was the Bill of Rights and Constitution of Virginia, adopted by the Convention of the State in 1776; and the precise point of the argument was to prove that the great democratic principle of equality which was then for the first time formally established and enshrined in those instruments, had an illustrious aristocratic origin; having been derived in fact from the Feudal System established on the continent of Europe after the fall of the Roman empire; or, more immediately, from the old Euglish barons who extorted Magna Charta—that great basis of the British constitution—from the recreant John. It is true, their words Nullus Liber Homowere intended only for themselves, and not for the people who as yet were hardly known in the community; but still they established the principle of equality for their own body, which the people of England afterwards managed to extend; and which their descendants, the people of Virginia, were the first to proclaim in those solemn instruments in which they announced their independence and liberty to the discarded monarch, to the disowned mother country, and to the whole world. This was the doctrine of the discourse, which appeared to be received with equal favor by persons of both political parties, and of all shades of opinions on many points. For ourselves, we were of course particularly pleased with the historical and conservative spirit which manifestly pervaded all the sentiments of the speaker, and seemed to be in five harmony with all the proper feelings of the occasion.
After all, however, we must
not be understood as assenting to our professor's retrospect, either as to his main proposition, or to some of his subordinate points, which struck us indeed as rather questionable; but we reserve our remarks on these topics for another time, when we shall have the discourse in print before us, and may more perfectly understand the author's views.
THE REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
In meeting the members of the society on this annual occasion, we feel happy in being able to congratulate you on the continued and still increasing prosperity of our association, in all its interests and pursuits.
As some proof of this, we may mention, in the first place, that our collections from the annual members have been made with more ease, and to a larger amount, than in any former year; and that we have also obtained some new life-members, whose payments have, of course, added something to our permanent fund. But, above all, we have to report, as we do with great pleasure, that the Council of the City of Richmond, in aiming to promote the moral and literary interests of our Metropolis, has passed an ordinance, which, among other things, offers our society the free use of convenient rooms in the Athenæum, and also grants to us the sum of $150 per annum for the gradual increase of our Library, on the single condition that it shall be open to the access of the citizens of Richmond, under proper regulations. We may add, that our society, at a late general meeting, held in the rooms, on Thursday last, the 8th instant, appreciating at once the advantages of this provision, have not hesitated to accept it on its own terins; and for our part, we must say, that we regard it as placing our society on something like a permanent footing, and as giving us a force and consideration in public opinion, which must be felt most beneficially in all our future operations.
In the mean time, we are happy to state, that we have done all in our power, with the slender means at our command, to advance the great objects of the society confided to our care. It is true that we have not been able, as yet, to publish our longpromised continuation and conclusion of the Early Voyages, in the supplemental volume which has been recently prepared by our Chairman, and is now in fact ready for the press, waiting only the necessary funds to see the light. But to console us in our regret on this point, the Virginia Historical Register, conducted by our secretary, and supported by our members, has continued to perform our duty for us, in collecting and diffusing a great variety of useful and agreeable information relating to