Page images

such innocent and delightful pursuits, was calculated to produce. If greater probity, sincerity, honour, delicacy, are often to be met with, society must indeed be happy.

If it should be asked why, with such attainments, Professor Peck has left no greater and more enduring publick proofs of his learning and genius? we reply by asking, where can be found a case in a young country, a country so much in want of such talents, in which a man of genius and profound erudition was suffered to pine, for twenty years, neglected and unknown?-And could it be expected, after all his hopes and prospects had been so long chilled, that he would come out, with a debilitated frame, a constitution broken down by study and meditation, with all the ardour and activity of early cherished and flattered youth? It is unjust to expect it: -and yet Professor Peck has left enough to convince every reading man, and every feeling mind, that he was fully worthy of the honour conferred upon him; and such generous and honourable minds will only regret that our country and its seminaries had not availed themselves of his talents, while health and hope and joy would have given energy and eloquence to his pen, and thus have enabled him to erect for himself a better monument than this tribute of truth and friendship; and to produce for his country some work, which would have done it honour abroad, and have stimulated its youth to equal exertions in science.

But he has not lived in vain: He has shewn what may be done without encouragement, and amidst all possible discouragements: and his cheerful, philosophical and resigned exit proves, that a life so employed has its reward even on earth.*


Religion, as well as philosophy, sustained Mr. Peck, during the varied scenes of a life in which he suffered much, gave him an habitual cheerfulness during his protracted infirmities, and brightened his last hours with the enlivening hopes of a Christian. Mr. Peck's family were Congregationalists. From some cause, not now to be ascertained, he was not baptized in his infancy. In his riper years he gave his decided preference to the discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church. and, when more than thirty years of age, he was baptized by the late excellent Bishop Bass. The writer of this

THIS article cannot be better concluded, than by the following closing paragraphs of a Sermon, preached by the Rev. President Kirkland before the University, on the Sunday after the death of Professor Peck, from Isaiah lvii. 2: "He shall enter into peace they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness."

THE subject is adapted to the occasion which calls our thoughts to a respected and beloved member of our academick body, who has in the last week gone to his We are deprived of another of our literary ornaments, another of our associates in interesting and important duties and cares.


We felt the great affliction, which it pleased God he should suffer in a protracted period of infirmity, when his strength was weakened in the way; and we mourn the loss of one so valued and endeared. Whilst we are affected with the sense of these chastisements, we would acknowledge the alleviations that attend the inflictions of Heaven. We would take a grateful notice of that good Providence, which, amidst trials and difficulties, allotted our friend a large portion of blessings, and we would especially place among these blessings, his aptitude and inclination to study the works of nature; and the opportunity he enjoyed for so much of his life of indulging the predominant inclination of his mind. We are consoled that he found much of that inward repose which he coveted. He experienced the benign and soothing influences of faith, hope and charity. Not that he was exempt from mortal suffering. His susceptibility of temperament, his delicacy of taste and generosity of disposition, could not fail to lay him open at times to inquietude and even to anguish. But philosophy and religion did much to mitigate and assuage in him those feelings, which few are permitted, in this state of trial and imper

note was one of his "chosen witnesses," and can never lose the remembrance of the impressive solemnity, with which the holy office was adininistered, nor of the pious humility, with which it was received.

fection wholly to avoid or overcome. He was distinguished for uprightness and probity of mind; for a delicacy of moral sentiment corresponding to the purity and refinement of his perceptions in subjects of taste. He ever exercised a firm and tender reliance on the truths of natural and revealed religion, and paid an exemplary respect to the duties of the Christian profession.

His peculiar pursuits contributed no doubt to form his temper and character, and exerted a powerful moral influence upon his affections.

The examination of the works of God is an inexhaustible source of pleasure and improvement to the individual. The multitude and variety of objects in the external creation; the beauty, the structure, economy, connexion and uses of the animated and inanimate parts of nature must be acknowledged to be fitted to delight an elegant mind, and to produce emotions sublime and pleasing. In this view, these studies are entitled to high consideration. But the highest recommendation of the pursuits of the naturalist is their tendency to carry lessons of truth and virtue to the heart. From looking at the creatures and things on earth, are not our thoughts and affections drawn to him, who is the original Fountain of being, order and life, who thus reveals himself to his intelligent offspring, man, in unnumbered forms, and speaks to him in unnumbered voices, and calls him to adore the Author, Benefactor and Father of all? Are we not constrained to trust him, whose power, wisdom and benignity are seen above and below, from the heavenly bodies to the minutest insects, "those puny vouchers of omnipotence?" Are we not taught resignation to the providence and government of God, believing that he who never destroys the least particle of dust will never annihilate the noblest of his creatures on earth? Shall we withhold our homage, our love, our obedience, from this greatest and best of Beings?

The student of nature should feel himself near to the Divinity, walk in his presence, will what he wills, and co-operate with him for the common good. Can mean, selfish sentiments dwell in his heart, and must he not feel

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

prompted to imitate the benevolence which he sees and partakes? Those who knew our excellent friend can bear witness to the good effect of his studies upon his mind and heart. He was intimately conversant with the productions of divine power and wisdom in the external creation. He was accustomed to see God in his works. He lived and died in a sense of his being and presence, and the hope of his favour. May the principles and expectations which he cherished, and all the considerations of reason and religion adapted to sustain the heart of the afflicted, have power to minister comfort to those who were united to him by strong and tender ties.* It is not for us to judge when the Arbiter of life and death has no further any use for his servants on earth, or when it is fit they should pass from weariness to rest, and from service to reward.

As for man, his days are as the grass; as a flower of the field, so he perisheth: for the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. Blessed be God that the virtuous dead are prisoners of hope; that death is not the extinction of being; and that a renovated, superiour life shall visit the grave.


WHEN the first planters of Massachusetts arrived, in

the year 1630, they found Mr. William Blackstone, † an Episcopal minister, already seated on the peninsula of Shawmut, now the city of Boston, at the west part of it, near a spring, where he had a cottage, a garden plot, and,

* Mr. Peck left a widow and one child, a son, aged about ten years. With a mind peculiarly adapted to the serene enjoyments of domestick life, Mr. P. from a discreet regard to prudential considerations, deferred a matrimonial connexion until his settlement in the Professorship at Cambridge, gave him assurance of a competent support for a family. The worthy lady of his choice was a daughter of the late Rev. Timothy Hilliard, D. D.

+ Whether Blackston or Blackstone be the true orthography is submitted. Both are common to the records. It is Blaxton in Prince's Chronology.

subsequently, an orchard planted by his hand.* "Having escaped the power of the lord bishops in England, and soon becoming discontented with the power of the lord brethren here," he made a removal about the year 1635. In the year 1634 all the then inhabitants of Boston purchased of him all his right and title to the peninsula of Shawmut, he having been the first European occupant, each of whom paid him six shillings, and some of them more. With the proceeds of this sale he purchased cattle and made the removal already noticed, having resided in Boston, it is conjectured, about ten years. The place to which he removed the "Attleborough Gore" of history-fell within the limits of Plymouth colony, in the records of which colony we find further memoirs of this respectable and memorable man. His name, however, does not occur in those records until the year 1661, the date of "Rehoboth north purchase," when this remark occurs in describing the bounds-"From Rehoboth, ranging upon Patucket River, to a place called by the natives Wawepoonseag, where one Blackstone now liveth," &c. This is probably the aboriginal name of a rivulet now known as "Abbot's Run," in Cumberland, R. I. and which is tributary to the Patucket.-His house was situated near the banks of the river, on a knoll, which he named "Study Hill." It was surrounded by a park, which was his favourite and daily walk for a series of years.

His wife, Mrs. Sarah Blackstone, died "in the middle of June, 1673. His death occurred May 26, 1675, having lived in New England about fifty years. His age can only be conjectured from the dates already given. Two children are noticed in the records-John Blackstone, who appears to have had guardians appointed by Plymouth government, 1675, and a daughter married to

* It has been said, that the first orchard in Massachusetts and the first in Rhode Island were planted by his hand.

+ Leichford, who wrote in 1641, makes this remark.

Wawepoonseng. This word has the animate plural termination. It may denote a place where birds were probably ensnared or taken. Wawe is a name for the "goose" of one species, and poonseag seems to indicate "nets" or "snares."

« PreviousContinue »