Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

of a long life. He was among the best classical scholars of the age. He could, with a facility truly surprising, repeat all the beautiful and striking passages of the classic authors. The ease with which he acquired languages, surpassed belief. He was familiar not only with the Icarned and oriental languages, but also with most of the modern languages of Europe. Though his mind was stored with all the knowledge that books could impart, yet was he most unassuming and ?? umble. There was no pedantic display, no fastidious cxhibition of talents-nothing dogmatic or magisterial in his manner or conversation. While he instructed all around him by the extent of his information, he delighted them by the style and manner in which it was communicated. As a Divine hc had few cquals, and certainly no supcriors. His discourses were solid, argumentative and perspicuous, abounding in moral truths, and enriched by precepts of practical piety. His Lectures on Thcology contain a complete body of Divinity. As a teacher he seemed to open a new mine of knowledge, on cvery subject to which he turned his attention. And such was the peculiar happiness of his manner, that he gave life and interest to the dryest topics.

On the death of Dr. Nisbet, instead of proceeding immediately to the election of a successor to the place he had so long and so honourably filled, the trustees committed the superintendance of the College to the Rev. Dr. Davidson, under the title of « President of the Faculty.” In this situation the doctor continued with great credit to himself, and no less advantage to the institution, till the autumn of the year 1809.

In the carly part of the same year, a meeting of the trustees bad been held, with a view to definitive arrangements for the appointment of a principal. On this occasion, the eyes of the board were directed to the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Aiwater, then president of Middlebury College, in the state of Vermont. He was regarded as a character worthy to become the successor of Dr. Nisbet, and to be intrusted with the destinies of an institution once under the direction of that distinguished scholar. Proposals on the subject were accordingly made to him, which, after due delibcrațion, he thought proper to accept, and was in

ducted into office in the month of September, 1809. He delivered on the occasion, an inaugural address, which did equal honour to his head and his heart-to his knowledge of letters, his acquaintance with academical discipline, his regard for morality, and his veneration for religion.

Dr. Atwater received his education at Yale College, and having both there and in the state of Vermont, acted in the character of a teacher, is perfectly familiar with the excellent discipline of the schools and colleges of Newengland. Nor is he a disciplinarian only in theory. He has a peculiar fitness for the practical government of youth.

Conscientious in the discharge of his duty, and ardent in the prosecution of a favourite pursuit, he is exclusively devoted to the interests of the institution over which he presides. And thus far have his exertions been rewarded with the most flattering success. Under his direction the discipline of the College has been very signally improved, and the number of pupils increased in a ratio far beyond the calculation of the most sanguine. Should nothing occur to check its present career of prosperity, it furnishes fair and ample promise of rivalling, in a short time, the most distinguished seminaries of learning in the United States.

To the citizens of Pennsylvania, this should be a proud and precious consideration. It ought to inflame their patriotism, awaken their honest state-partialities, and determine them to promote with parental solicitude, the interest and reputation of Dickinson College.

The institution contains at present, about an hundred pupils, and its officers are,

The Rev. Jeremiah Atwater, D. D. Principal and Professor of Logic, Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, &c.

James M.Cormick, A. M. Professor of Mathematics.
Henry Wilson, A. M. Professor of the learned Languages.
Dr. Aigster, Lecturer on Natural Philosophy and Chemistry.
John M'Clure, A. M, Tutor.
Claudius Berard, Professor of Modern Languages.

C.

[ocr errors]

FOR THE PORT FOLIO.-MEMOIRS OF HAYTI.

LETTER XVIII.

The Cape, Island of Hayti, Febuary, 1806.

On new year's day, being the anniversary of the Fête de l'Independence, we were gratified by a military exhibition displayed in honour of the great national event which was intended to be celebrated. Several days previous thereto, the inhabitants of the town, male and female, old and young, were commanded by a public edict proclaimed through the streets, and enforced by the customary beat of drum, to assemble on the Champ de Mars, an extensive hollow square, early on the morning of that day. The orders were observed by the great body of the community, insomuch that at seven o'clock a numerous concourse of people had assembled. After the review of a battalion of infantry by the general of division, Capoix, a citizen appointed for the occasion mounted a stage and read aloud the Declaration of Independence, which was received with loud acclamations of joy by the surrounding citizens and soldiers. At the conclusion of this ceremony, the troops accompanied by the general and his staff, the principal civil and military officers, and many of the people, proceeded to the church, where divine service was performed, and prayers for the health of their majesties and family, and supplications for the prosperity of the empire offered to the throne of Mercy. The solemnity displayed upon this occasion was truly pleasing, particularly in that part of the service where the priest standing before the altar turns his face towards the congregation and presents to their view the sacred host. At that instant the soldiers, who were formed in two ranks from the door to the altar, facing inwards and resting upon one knee, with one motion presented arms, and bowed their heads before the holy shine. Great appearance of devotion and piety was manifested by all present, insomuch that at that moment it was absolutely impossible to reconcile the conduct of the humble and suppliant devotee before the altar, with that of the deliberate and cruel assassin.

The general in chief Christophe, was not present, as he had a few days before left the Cape, to attend the national celebration with the emperor at the city of Dessalines. It is said that much pomp and splendour was displayed at this festival given by his majesty, and that most of the generals and civil officers of distinction were invited. Relative to this entertainment, I have been informed of a singular transaction, which from the source it is derived I have reason to believe is true. It is stated, that during the desert after dinner, a piece of confectionary in imitation of the skeleton of a white man, was served upon the table. The object in view by this stange mode of gratifying the tastes of the guests was no doubt, upon that day of national jubilee, to excite and cherish in the minds of the chiefs, their hatred of the French, by exhibiting to their sight such expressive symbols as could not fail to call to their recollection, the, remembrance of their past deeds.

Since the establishment of the present government, but one instance has occured, even during the most sanguinary period, when Carnage brandished her deadly weapons throughout the Island, and polluted them with the blood of thousands of innocent victims, in which an American has lost his life. This

you might suppose would be sufficient to inspire us with that degree of confidence in the government and people, which would remove all unpleasant apprehensions. But this is not the fact. There is a certain appearance of ferocity in the soldiers, and such a native propensity to pillage, that a white man scarcely feels secure either in his person or property. In addition to these circumstances, there are events which frequently occur of a nature calculated to excite uneasiness if not alarm; and I assure you, I express the opinions of the great body of the Americans now here, when I say, that at times we consider our situation as extremely precarious. This must be the case in all countries where despotic Power wields her iron sceptre, and where the will of an arbitrary monarch is the national law. Several occurences of the sort I have mentioned as

roductive of uneasiness, have taken place immediately prior to and during my sojourn here, of which the following is one:

A young Frenchman of the name of Decoudrés arrived at Gonaives in October last from Baltimore, with the intention of establishing himself in the Island as a merchant.

He was by birth a Creole, and descended from a family well known in that vicinity to have once been opulent in estates. The young man was himself personally well know at Gonaives, and from the amiableness of his deportment and the suavity of his manners, had acquired the esteem of all his acquaintance. He was of course recognized as a white Frenchman, and as such was obnoxious to the laws of proscription, but his conduct was so correct and void of the appearance of duplicity, that no one felt disposed to persecute him. He had not resided in this state of security more than probably two or three weeks, when some malicious traitor informed the emperor of his being in the island. The unfortunate man was immediately arrested by the orders of his majesty, and conveyed to the seat of government at Marchand. When Dessalines saw him, he addressed him with his usual fierceness of manner, and the following conversation is said to have passed. “ Are you not a white Frenchman?” “ I am.” “Did you not know that I had forbidden under pain of death, any Frenchman from setting foot in my dominions?"__"I did: but I had so much confidence in the clen.ency of your majesty, that I did not fear to place myself under your protection.” The young man was charged with being a spy, and was immediately imprisoned. The place of his confinement was situated about two hundred yards from the palace. It was a small house, or rather box, about six or cight feet square elevated on posts about fifteen feet above the ground, and having in it only a small aperture of the size of a pane of glass to admit the air. His food, consisting solely of bread and water, was conveyed to him in a basket which he hoisted up by a string to his window, and in this situation, deprived of all communication with friend or foe, he was detained perhaps eight or ten days. The object in this mode of procedure could only have been to increase the misery of the prisoner by solitary reflection, which when it had sufficiently progressed, he was taken out, formally tried, and sentenced to death. He was led to a plain not far distant, by six soldiers (probably vctcrans in the corps called thic quatrieme, of which I

« IndietroContinua »