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with sound and enlightened views of jurisprudence, no man, perhaps, could have been found, better fitted than Chancellor Kent to execute such a work, and it may diminish, in some degree, the regret felt for the loss sustained by the public and the legal profession, in being deprived of his valuable services on the bench, to know how usefully to the world and honorably to himself, he has employed his time and talents in its performance.
The limits prescribed to this brief memoir will not permit us, if it were proper, to go farther, or to enter into a particular examination of the merits of this masterly work. The first edition of the commentaries having been exhausted, he published a second in April, 1832, carefully revised and greatly enlarged. From one who has done so much for the improvement and diffusion of legal science, and who has now advanced to the limit ordinarily assigned to the duration of human life, it would be unreasonable to ask, or expect more; but while he appears to feel none of the infirmities of age, or to seek indulgence or repose, we cannot suppress a wish, that he may yet be induced to present his view, also, of that system of equity jurisprudence, to the formation and illustration of which his own judicial labors have so largely contributed.
Having been elected president of the New York Historical Society, he delivered, by request, a public discourse, at their anniversary meeting, on the 6th December, 1828. In this elegant and instructive address, he very appropriately notices the principal events in the history of the colony and state of New York to the end of the revolution, and mentions, with merited praise, some of the eminent patriots and statesmen of New York, who so ably assisted in achieving that revolution, and in securing its blessings to their posterity. If our attention could be oftener drawn from the absorbing pursuits of wealth and ambition, or the contests of selfish demagogues, to the contemplation of such illustrious examples of wisdom and virtue, we might find more perfect models for our imitation, and haply feel our hearts warmed with that pure love of country which glowed in their breasts.
At the request of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College, a literary association formed in 1780, of which he was an original member, and comprising the most distinguished graduates of that seminary, he delivered a public address, at the anniversary meeting of the associates, on the 13th September, 1831. This discourse, in which he takes a historical survey of the college, from its origin in the beginning of the last century, and sketches the characters of its pious and learned founders, supporters, and instructers, is replete with generous feelings and just sentiments on literature and education. Alluding, towards the close, to his own class, of whom twelve (out of twenty-five) were then living, and most of those present; he makes this natural and striking reflection. “Star after star, has fallen from its sphere. A few bright lights are still visible; but the constellation itself has become dim, and almost ceases to shed its radiance around me. What a severe lesson of mortality does such a retrospect teach! What a startling rebuke to human pride! How brief the drama! How insignificant the honors and ' fiery chase of ambition,' except as mental discipline for beings destined for immortality.”
In the brief notice which we have taken of the principal events in the life of this eminent jurist, we have adverted to some of the distinctive qualities of his character; and it will be perceived how pure, virtuous, upright, and honorable that life has been, the full delineation of which must be reserved for some future biographer. Though not passed in scenes that attract the general gaze of mankind, or excite the admiration and applause of the multitude, it has been highly distinguished, affording a bright and instructive example of industry and perseverance in the pursuit of useful knowledge, and of unwearied diligence in the discharge of every duty, public and private.
Chancellor Kent has three children, a son, and two daughters; the former was admitted to the bar a few years since. Happy in his family; amiable, modest, and candid in his social intercourse; kind, indulgent, and affectionate in his feelings, it would be pleasing, if it were proper, at this time, to speak of him in those private relations which awaken the best affections and warmest sympathies of our nature. With a sound constitution, strengthened and preserved by temperance and moderate exercise, he has enjoyed that perfect and uninterrupted health, which is rarely the lot of the studious and sedentary. Possessing a cheerful temper, and a lively consciousness of existence that fits him for enjoyment, he seems to have experienced, in a high degree, those blessings for which the Roman Poet bids the rational inquirer after happiness to supplicate heaven, and those gifts have not been wasted or misapplied.
“ Semita certe Tranquilla per Virtutem patet unica vitæ.'
CHARLES EWING, L L. D.
A virtuous life demands our reverence; public and private worth, our admiration; long and practical usefulness, our gratitude. And when death has closed the labors of the wise and good, it becomes a melancholy, yet not painful duty, to give utterance to the expressions of friendship, and contemplate the example which has been given.
CHARLES Ewing was the only child of James Ewing, the commissioner of loans for the state of New Jersey for the whole period during which that office was continued, and the praise of whose integrity, accuracy in business, benevolence, and piety will there be long remembered. He was of Irish descent, but born in the county of Cumberland, and was the youngest son of a numerous family, some of whom have been eminently distinguished for literature, science, and professional ability. The subject of this sketch was born on the 8th day of July, 1780, in the county of Burlington. In his most tender years, the same temper and correctness of deportment were exhibited which attended all his subsequent conduct. Though gay, sprightly, and animated, and enjoying the innocent amusements of boyhood, yet he was docile, obedient, and observant of every duty. He received his preparatory education at the academy in Trenton, which at that time conducted its scholars through a course of studies beyond the ordinary requirements of grammar schools, and at an early age he passed through this course with a zeal, assiduity, and talent, which secured to him the palm in merit and scholarship.
At sixteen he entered the college of New Jersey, and at eighteen received the first degree in the arts, the highest honors of the institution being awarded to him alone, as the just reward of capacity, industry, and correct conduct, in a class whose members were highly distinguished for them all. He bestowed a full and proper attention on all the studies of the institution ; but if there was one more his favorite than the rest, and in which the energy of his mind most clearly exhibited itself, it was mathematical science. No one